Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Psalm 118:8

By David P. Brown

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Trust is from the Hebrew word chasah, meaning “to take refuge.” Refuge is defined to be “shelter or protection from danger or distress; a place that provides shelter or protection; a means of resort for help in difficulty” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).

One of the terrible weaknesses of fleshly Israel was their seeking shelter or protection in human helpers. Spiritual Israel, the church, shares the same weakness. The psalmist instructs the spiritually minded to seek “shelter or protection from danger or distress” “in the Lord.”

Too often we allow this admonition to go unheeded. We make friends too quickly with those whom we presume to be dedicated to New Testament Christianity. Later we sadly find that such walk in the commandments and doctrines of men. Council is sought from those we have too hastily trusted in. We learn too late that they are betrayers. We are deceived by the great swelling words of vain men into thinking that they are the stalwarts of the faith. Too late we find their true nature to be like sepulchres that are outwardly white, but inwardly are filled with corruption. One of the first things a babe in Christ should learn is to be exceedingly slow in trusting men.

Take advice from men only as it corresponds with God’s Word. Never be surprised or hindered when those who give sound advice do not follow it when they are under fire from Satan. They too are subject to fleshly frailties. Always remember that no matter how dedicated men seem to be, many of them will selfishly commit or omit anything in order to save themselves. Satan described many people when he answered God concerning the faithfulness of Job, saying, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job. 2:4).

Paul admonished, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” and “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (Eph. 5:15; 1 Tim. 5:22). We close with the words of a Gospel song that echoes the sentiment of Psalm 118:8.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you,
Ye dare not trust your own
Put on the gospel armor, and
Watching unto prayer,
Where duty calls or danger,
Be never wanting there.

- David P. Brown, Spring, TX; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org

Salvation! Things Taught?

By Paul L. McElroy

Jesus taught: (1) Come to Me– "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" Matt. 11:28.

There is no load as heavy as unforgiven sin! (2) Repent– "I tell you no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3). (3) Confess Me before men– "Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32).

Basic facts of the Gospel– " .. That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Without the death, burial, and raising of Christ there could be no salvation from sins.

And this is what the apostle Peter preached on the day the church had its beginning. Those who believed asked "What shall we do"– The answer– "Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38). "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47).

Since those things (Coming to Christ, repentance, and public confession of Jesus) and (Faith, repentance, and baptism) brought salvation from sin and The Lord adding the saved to His church) it will also do the same for obedient people today. What more should we want?

However, some teach different things today. (1)

Belief only brings salvation (with church membership received by baptism.) (2) Baptism (actually sprinkling) brings salvation (with faith to come later). (3) Jesus, a good man (but not divine), Jehovah will choose only 144,000 to go to heaven. (4) A man claimed to have found some "golden plates" with rules for a different church in America.

Let us remember that the apostles were guided directly by the Holy Spirit (King James version says Holy Ghost). Notice what Jesus said to His apostles about the Holy Spirit

– "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth: for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you of things to come." (John 16:13). Obey the Holy Spirit,

- Paul L. McElroy preaches for the Columbia Church of Christ in Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at cc0c@bellsouth.net

Making Space

By Mark Adams

“I just can’t do it, Doc,” said Frank, “It doesn’t fit into my schedule. I’ve got to get to the office early if I want to get anything done. While I’m at work, it’s one constant rush. Most afternoons, my kids have ball practice, and on the other days, they have piano lessons. If we have time, my wife makes dinner, but most days we just have to get fast food. I don’t like to miss the news, and by the time we get the kids down to sleep, I’m lucky to catch some of the late night talk shows. There’s just no room in my schedule.”

The doctor replied, “Frank, let me put it like this: Would it fit your schedule better for you to exercise one hour per day, or for you to be dead 24 hours per day?”

A person who doesn’t want to get their priorities straight will always have an excuse for why they can’t. I don’t know if we fare better or worse than any other generation in the area of time management, but regardless of how the scales might tip, we have got to learn how to make some room for God in our life. There is always another show on the TV, another song on the radio, and another Facebook status update to read. But this business of always “keeping busy” has a way of crowding out the margins in our life where we can connect with God. When Elijah was hiding in Horeb (I Kings 19), he was instructed to go out on a mountain and to wait for the Lord. First, an earth-shattering wind came by, but God was not in the wind. Next came a massive earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Next came a blazing fire, but God was not in the fire. Finally came a quiet whispering voice, and it was in the quiet and calm that Elijah found the Lord. If you want for God’s truth to be a part of your life, you can’t expect him to overpower all the noise of daily life. His voice is gentle, yet firm and reliable. Make some time this week to turn down life’s volume and to listen to God instead.

- Mark Adams, Old Hickory, TN; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com


By Garrett Best

I HAVE BEEN to youth rallies, gospel meetings, seminars, lectureships, and so many other church venues, when the topic of evangelism has been discussed...

I have spent hours listening and reading articles from gospel preachers about how we can get people to the building. However, the answer is so simple -- by love. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). If we want people to know that we are Christ's disciples, then we must have love for one another, and not just any love. We must have the kind of love that edifies; a kind of love described by the inspired Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6. We must be people who love one another patiently, kindly, and without jealousy. We cannot brag or act arrogantly toward our brothers and sisters. We must always act righteously and not seek our own. We must never provoke and never take into account wrong doing. We must only rejoice with our brothers in the truth and never in unrighteousness. Living love-filled lives that edify others will not only change the church, but it will change the world!

KneEmail: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7

- Garrett Best, "Love Is Edifying," Freed-Hardeman University 2010 Lectures, 39; Mike Benson edits an on-line devotional entitled KneEmail. To subscribe, send ANY message to: kneemail-subscribe@welovegod.org Mike may be contacted atmlbenson@wowway.com

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Matter Of Time

By Steve Higginbotham

I don't mean to be a wet-blanket, but the streak will end. It's inevitable. For those who may not know what I'm talking about, on Tuesday of last week, the University of Connecticut Women's Basketball program won their 89th consecutive game. That's the longest winning streak in history. The legendary John Wooden, coach of the UCLA Bruins held the former record with 88 wins, spanning from 1971-1974. The UConn ladies began their streak on November 16, 2008, and there's really no end in sight.

However, the streak will end. It doesn't matter how good this basketball program is, the night is coming when they will have an "off" night, or when they will match up against a better team, or a luckier team, and their streak will come to an end.

Now, I don't want to take anything away from their monumental winning streak. I just want to make a point of comparison. Their winning streak reminds me of our Christian life. No matter how good we are or have been, we're going to have a bad day; we're going to meet a stronger opponent, and we're going to lose a contest.

If we had to keep a "streak" going in order to make it to Heaven, how hopeless we would all be. But thanks be to God for making provision for our inevitable imperfection! We can still be crowned as victors over sin and death without a flawless record!

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.karnschurch.org. Copyright 2010, Steve Higginbotham. Permission is granted to copy these articles.

Grace and Peace

By Curtis L. E. Graves

“To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7). Grace and peace were common expressions of greeting used by Paul. Paul, himself, was well acquainted with the grace and peace of God. Having an atmosphere of grace and peace within the church enables it to face a world of conflict, social problems, frustrations, and friction.

Without that sense of grace and peace the church would lose its effectiveness in its task of taking the gospel to the world and being lights to the world. Our Lord prayed for peace and we must seek it in Him.

The child of God cannot win with hatred and strife. We must be spiritually minded, and walk as Christ and not as man. We can escape the hatred and strife of the world in the kingdom of peace, the one church that Jesus built! Not only can we have grace and peace ourselves but we can also share with others how they may have it. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” (Gal. 5:22). “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

- Curtis L. E. Graves, Chesapeake, VA; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org

You Shall Not Steal

By Bryan Kirby

Are we under the Ten Commandments today?

The eighth commandment seems pretty straightforward: “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15 ESV). No person is to take property that does not belong to him or her. Other passages in the Old Law expand upon this initial prohibition to include a variety of other actions that could be defined as “stealing.” Leviticus 19:11-13 reads: “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.”

It is plain that lying in business transactions is also considered under the Law to be stealing. There were also many who would use the name of God as a promise that their business dealings were on the up-and-up, when in fact they were making false promises. This is a clear violation of both commandment one and commandment eight. It was also considered theft to withhold the wages of a worker until the next day.

In a society where we regularly expect to be paid for our labor either weekly or every two weeks, we don’t fully understand why this prohibition was so important. Ancient Israel was an agrarian society that depended on manual labor and farm production. Each one of these laborers did not likely have any other money aside from what he or she earned that day. If they were not paid, they might not be able to purchase food for themselves or their families. A worker simply MUST be paid.

The New Testament also has many prohibitions against such thievery. In Ephesians 4:28, the Apostle Paul writes: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” This was not just a command for a thief to stop being a thief, but instead for him to become something more. Each person is encouraged to become a productive member of the society around them so that he or she can not only provide for his or her own needs, but that they might also give back to those who cannot do for themselves.

Paul also points out in Romans 13:9-11 that if we follow the idea of loving our neighbor, we don’t have to worry about being in violation of the Law. When we love our neighbor, we are not going to seek to take things that belong to them away from them. Love will prevent us from cheating someone in a business dealing or withholding what a worker deserves to be paid. Love also calls us to be productive and not take advantage of those who may be tender hearted, if a little naive, and give to those who would not work even though they could.

Let us all live lives of love and seek to do what is right for our neighbor and in the eyes of God.

- Bryan Kirby preaches for the Goodwood Boulevard church of Christ in Baton Rouge, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.goodwoodchurch.org

Monday, August 15, 2011


By Wade Webster

ROBERT THORTON RELATED the following incident from his childhood...
"In the middle of one of my parents' more memorable disagreements, my father jumped up from the table, grabbed two sheets of paper, and said to my mother, 'Let's make a list of everything we don't like about each other.' Mom started writing. Dad glowered at her for a few minutes, and then wrote on his paper. She wrote again. He watched her, and every time she stopped, he would start writing again. They finally finished. 'Lets exchange complaints,' dad said. They gave each other their lists. 'Give mine back,' mom pleaded when she glanced at his sheet. All down the page dad had written: 'I love you, I love you, I love you.'"

In the the long ago, Peter prayed,
"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”] Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:7-11

Please pay special attention to what Peter said about love. We are to have love above all things. It is to be first. Furthermore, please note that it is to be fervent. It is not to be lukewarm. Finally, please note that it is to be flourishing. It must cover a multitude of sins. Perhaps, it must cover them on many occasions.

How easy it would be to make a list of things that we do not like about one another. However, what we really need is to give love its proper place in our relationships one with another. [Wade Webster, "I Love You, I Love You, I Love You," The Searcher, August 15, 2010, 1]

KneEmail: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

- Mike Benson edits an on-line devotional entitled KneEmail. To subscribe, send ANY message to: kneemail-subscribe@welovegod.org Mike may be contacted at mlbenson@wowway.com

A Dog's Purpose - from a 4 year old

Being a veterinarian, I was called to examine a ten year old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time,that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.

We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so
they don't have to stay as long."

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

- Source Unknown


By Ron Bartanen

We are given an amazing picture in Acts 22:25 of two men—the apostle Paul and his fellow-laborer, Silas, as they “prayed and sang praises unto God.” What is so amazing about it is that they had been unmercifully scourged, put in chains and then thrown into a prison cell. Who would expect to see a joyful prayer-and-praise service in such an environment and under such circumstances! Paul and Silas had found what everybody desires—JOY. As a result, Luke records God’s response: an earthquake that sets them free, and a jailor and his household believed in Christ and were baptized.

Part of my ministry as a preacher of the Gospel is to point people to the true source of joy—Jesus Christ. Paul wrote the church at Philippi , “I shall continue with you all for your…joy of faith: that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 1:25-26), and encouraged them to “rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). He had found joy in Christ, and shared that joy with others.

True joy is not found in the passing pleasures of this world, but in Him who said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). As someone once observed, “Joy grows on the Christian tree.” Have you found this joy?

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Journey Home

By Brian Overstreet & David A. Sargent

On April 6, 2008, pet owner Doug Dashiell was driving through Nevada with his three dogs on a weekend trip. He let his Siberian husky, Moon, out of his truck for a moment near Railroad Valley. Moon broke free from her chain and was last seen running in a northwesterly direction. After searching for Moon and contacting the local authorities, Dashiell returned home to Ely, Nevada, a distance of 77 miles.

After seven days, a resident of Ely found Moon searching the streets for her master. With the help of the veterinarian's tags on her collar, the Samaritan was able to reunite her with Dashiell. During her week astray, Moon had negotiated miles of desert, crossed the White River, and traversed the Ward Mountain range.

Moon returned entirely unscathed, except for a strong odor of skunk. Dashiell reported that he had all but given up hope for her safe return.*

Observe some lessons we can learn from Moon’s experiences…

There is within each of us a longing for home. We are never “at home” until we are united with our Creator, the Heavenly Father. Augustine once said, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you."

In the course of our journeys, each of us will “break off his or her chain” and become lost in the wilderness. "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). This is what the Bible calls SIN, and every one of us is guilty (Romans 3:23).

Our journeys cause us to "stink" of sin. But, we can wash away the stench in the baptismal pool. Ananias instructed Saul to "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).

We are all wandering across treacherous terrains (cf. John 16:33), but Jesus has shown us the way to a Heavenly home. He said, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14: 6). In order to provide the way home, Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).

We all belong to the same Master. "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). The Master wants us to come home. "[God our Savior] desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).

We can all get home to the Master, free of sin, by: putting our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

Are you lost in the wilderness and searching for home? Have you encountered "skunks" and smell of sin?

Jesus is The Way home! Won’t YOU follow Him today?

- Brian Overstreet & David A. Sargent; David serves as minister for the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

[* Information gleaned from http://www.elynews.com/articles/2008/04/17/lifestyle/life01.txt]

The Church Cannot Authorize

By Kevin Rutherford

The Roman Catholic Church arrogantly states that it gave the Bible to the world. In reality, the Catholic Church has done all that it can in the past to inhibit the availability of the Scriptures. Roman Catholicism also believes that the church has the right to authorize religious practice, and that the religious practices authorized by the church take precedence over any practices authorized by the New Testament, or, if the New Testament does not authorize the practice, it doesn’t matter in the eyes of Catholic leaders. The church can authorize whatever it wants to, even if what it authorizes directly contradicts the Bible.

I have noticed within the past fifteen years a dangerous trend within the church of Christ. That trend is for people to ask questions such as, “What is church of Christ doctrine on this matter?” Our standard of authority is not the Roman Catholic Church; and, it is not the church of Christ. The church of Christ is the one body established by Jesus (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23), but, while it is the Lord’s true church, it does not have the power to authorize religious practices. Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the church, is the only One with the authority to authorize religious practice for His church (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). How does Jesus lead, govern, and reign over His church? We might ask, “How does the church determine what Christ has authorized?” The answer is that Jesus rules through the New Covenant that became rule and law at His death (Heb. 9:15-17; Col. 2:14-17).

Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ revealed His law for the church (John 14:26; 16:13). Inspired men wrote down the very words that Christ supplied through the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:13). Those words, which have been recorded and preserved for us, make up the New Testament. The New Testament of Jesus Christ is the law and authority for the church of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Christ is the authority and standard for man’s religious practice and devotion to God. It is the standard that gives us all we need to make us spiritually complete (II Tim. 3:15-17). We need no other standard. Accepting another standard, including Roman Church tradition, will cause us to be lost (Gal. 1:6-9). The New Testament is our final guide and religious authority.

Because the New Testament is our final guide and religious authority, we ought not accept the doctrines of the pope, priests, or preachers over the doctrine of Christ. If we do so, we shall be lost (II John 9-11). Jesus Christ has already given us all the authority and instruction necessary for faithful service and worship. He did so through His New Testament. To accept any other standard is to be lost. Therefore, we need not be concerned about what the church authorizes, because it has no power to authorize religious practice. We simply ought to make sure the church is following the standard of authority that the Lord set out for us.

Don’t ask, “What is church of Christ doctrine on this matter?” Ask, “What does the New Testament say concerning this matter?”

- Kevin Rutherford; via the Nile Street Notes, the weekly bulletin of the Anna church of Christ in Anna, IL; R. W. McAlister preaches for the congregation and may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/

10 Reasons Not to Take a Bath

If the same excuses that people use for not going to church are applied to other important areas of life, it’s easy to see how inconsistent our logic can be.

For example:

1. I was forced to bathe as a child.
2. People who make soap are only after your money.
3. I bathe on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.
4. People who take baths are hypocrites–they think they are cleaner than everybody else.
5. I would bathe but there are so many different kinds of soap, can’t decide which one is best.
6. I used to bathe, but it got boring so I stopped.
7. The bathroom is never warm enough in the winter or cool enough in the summer.
8. I’ll start bathing when I get older and dirtier.
9. I just don’t have the time to bathe.
10. None of my friends take baths.

- BULLETIN DIGEST; via The Central Message, the weekly bulletin of the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY. Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org

Monday, August 1, 2011

We Have Our Own Key To Tomorrow’s World

By W.A. Martin

A dying man said, “If the goals you have won’t get you past death then they aren’t worth having.” God sent His Son to throw out the lifeline to a lost and struggling people (Luke 19:10). When sin had done its worst in the world, God sent His best (John 3:16). The jailor’s fear turned to humility, then he could be helped (Acts 16:25-33). The important thing about the jailor he did not put it off. On the verge of committing suicide he found help (2 Cor.6:2). The important thing to really consider is what have you accomplished in the time allotted you?(Eph.5:16). Putting God first is not always easy, but it is always possible, and it always pays. People cheat themselves by choosing the easy road.

Prayer is not a substitute for Christian living and service, but the reinforcement of it. Pray to God, but keep the hammer going (Luke 18:1). Before it’s too late we need to be educated how to live as well as how to make a living (Mat.4:4). How to improve our standard of life as well as living standard. One of the main themes through the Bible is God wants man to come home before it’s too late. He wants him to want to come home (Rev.22:17). The important thing is to believe in heaven and make plans to go there (Amos 4:12). Salvation should challenge our minds, fill our heart, and demand our obedience.

Jesus took people as they were, where they were and taught them right, and expected them to do right. When you get your heart under control, mind, body, time and emotions take care of themselves. I’d rather change my mind and succeed; than have my own way and fail in the end. It’s not what I would like to believe, but what the Lord has commanded me to believe (John 8:24). The Bible is designed to tell us what to believe, not to prove what we believe. Let us never forget that what we are is more important than what we own. The Lord called a man a fool because of lack of concern for his soul (Luke12:20).

If you want something bad enough you won’t find it hard to obey the right instructions (Mat.5:6). The world has forgotten, it is preoccupation with the left and right, that there is an above and a below. Yet, we have our own key to tomorrow’s world. We have the key that can unlock the door of opportunity for God. God expects us to know enough to care, care enough to know! We are a victim of our own desires.

- W.A. Martin is a part time preacher for the Scurry church of Christ, Scurry, Texas, and edits a bulletin that is sent to 14 churches in the area. He may be contacted at WAGMartin@sbcglobal.net.

Perseverance Pays

By Patrick Hogan

Living for Jesus in our present world can become discouraging at times. Opposition, adversity, and suffering of different types cam discourage us and present the temptation to give up. Even the prevalence of evil in the world is enough to get us down. Several passages in the New Testament encourage Christians to persevere even when things do not seem to be going in the right direction.

Two such passages are found in the book of Hebrews. In both passages the writer is encouraging Christians to persevere and not give up because of discouraging circumstances, lest they miss the blessings Christ has promised. "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." (10:36) "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (12:1).

Galatians 6:9 encourages perseverance in these words: "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

Sometimes valuable life lessons can be learned from strange events. The concept of perseverance being rewarded was illustrated this past weekend in something as mundane and non-spiritual as automobile racing. (I suppose a spiritual connection can be made by noting that the writer of Hebrews encouraged running with "endurance the race that is set before us.")

This past Sunday, in two different automobile races, in two different racing series, held in two different states, the final result was basically the same. In both events the outcome was decided in the last several hundred yards of racing. The drivers who looked as though they would finish a distant second actually won the races because of what happened to the leaders. In Indianapolis the leader crashed into the wall exiting the final turn, and slid across the finish line in second place in a badly damaged car. In Charlotte, the leader ran out of gas exiting the final turn and coasted to a seventh place finish. In both instances the eventual winner had not really been a factor in the race all day - that is, until the final moments. Each had driven steadily, conserving their vehicles and their fuel, persevering through adversity until the end. Their persistence paid off.

The prize for which we strive is more valuable than the monetary reward and the fame the two drivers above and the fame the two drivers above received for their perseverance. We are promised life in heaven forever with Jesus! When discouragement comes let us remember to focus on the prize and the One who wants us to be with Him forever. It can help us to persevere even in the face of tremendous adversity.

- Patrick Hogan serves as a minister and elder of the Shady Acres church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO. He may be contacted through the church's website at http://www.shadyacreschurch.com

Twinkie Bread

By John Telgren

It seems kind of strange to say, "Twinkie bread." Isn't this an oxymoron? Yet at the story, the Twinkies are often either on the bread aisle or at the end-cap of the bread aisle. I remember being at my grandmother's house growing up and receiving my daily Twinkie from her. It was considered a snack. Those were different times. Snacks now usually consist of a piece of fruit, juice, a small sandwich with "real" bread, or something a bit more nutritional.

Have you ever done an experiment and compared a Twinkie with a slice of bread on the countertop for a few days? Which will win? The Twinkie will still be a Twinkie in a few days because it will not grow mold. And the winner IS ... THE TWINKIE! Tadaaaaaa! So, since the Twinkie is more robust, since it does not grow mold, since it seems to have more staying power, and since it is sweet to the taste, then it MUST mean it is superior to the slice of bread right?

The reason Twinkie will not grow mold and can survive a nuclear holocaust is because it has no real nutritional value. It is most definitely NOT true bread. If you live off of Twinkies, your health will quickly show it.

The world offers us a Twinkie. It is sweet, it looks appealing, and it even comes in a nice, neat, individual wrapper. Most people recognize the Twinkie of certain immoral pleasures for what they are, whether it involves drugs, casual sexual activity, dishonesty to get what doesn't belong to you, etc. It is clear to see how this is a dead end and may only be sweet for a moment. However, there is also the Twinkie of worldly success, accumulation, popularity, personal significance, etc., that can taste really sweet for a very long time. It can make you feel significant and important. It can make you feel like you have truly climbed the ladder and accomplished something. However, even for all of its sweetness it still has no real lasting value. It might seem to give some immediate gratification, but does not truly satisfy in the long run.

There is only one true bread of life that will satisfy, and that is Jesus Christ (Jn 6:32ff). Everything else leads to death. Jesus said, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst" (Jn 6:35). We must come to Jesus, and we must believe in him. This means following him, doing as he instructs, becoming like him, valuing what he values. This means becoming the least, which in his kingdom is the greatest. This means being downwardly mobile rather than upward. This means eating with and being with tax collectors and sinners. This means placing your personal ambitions on the altar as a living sacrifice and making your ambition to be pleasing to him (2 Cor 5:9). As we eat this true bread, we will find true life, peace, and satisfaction in the only place we can, which is in the hands of our Lord.

- John Telgren preachers for the Leavenworth church of Christ in Leavenworth, KS. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.lcofc.org

Every Knee

By Edward K. Powell

Elizabeth I of England once declared, “I wish I could be alive when Christ returns because I would like to be the first earthly monarch to take my crown and lay it at his feet.” While it is nice to see an earthly monarch publicly acknowledge the authority of Christ, the fact of the matter is that all monarchs, whether or not they share Queen Elizabeth’s sentiment, will bow before Him. Concerning Jesus, Paul wrote, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

- Edward K. Powell, Quotes & Idea Starters For Preaching and Teaching, p. 151; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com