Monday, April 30, 2012

“The Internal Delight of Virtue”

By Tom Steed

     Many persons often blame the world for being false and vain, yet do not readily give it up because the desires of the flesh have such great power. Some things draw them to love the world, others make them despise it. The lust of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life lead to love, while the pains and miseries, which are the just consequences of those things, beget hatred and weariness of the world.
     Vicious pleasure overcomes the soul that is given to the world. She thinks that there are delights beneath these thorns, because she has never seen or tasted the sweetness of God or the internal delight of virtue. They, on the other hand, who entirely despise the world and seek to live for God under the rule of holy discipline, are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to those who truly renounce the world. They see clearly how gravely the world errs, and in how many ways it deceives. Thomas aÌ Kempis. (1996). The imitation of Christ Book Three, the Twentieth Chapter.
     There are many reasons to do good.  We do good things to please God and to avoid the fear of punishment.  I may do the right thing because I do not want to hurt others.  I may choose the better course so I will not be criticized or found out. However, this magnificent phrase tells of something that many people never experience:  The internal delight of virtue.  God created us in a way that allows virtue to become its own reward.  When we do the right and good, when we pursue true spirituality and not self-interest, we reach serendipity, an unintended result—the internal delight of virtue.  When one chooses to do the right thing, to choose the Godly course, God blesses us with inner peace, with the internal delight of virtue.  We taste the sweetness of God.  What a wonderful blessing!
- Tom Steed serves as a minister and elder of the Auburn church of Christ in Auburn, AL. He may be contacted through the church's website at 

The Deadly TULIP

By Ron Boatwright
     The many errors promoted by the deadly TULIP theology in religion have led many people away from the truth of God’s word.  This system is deadly because it changes the means by which God saves man.  The system is also known as "Calvinism" because John Calvin in the 1500’s was credited with developing it.  Calvin did not originally develop the system, but Augustine of Hyppo in the fifth century came up with this false doctrine.  Agustine tried in vain to live a celibate life but because of his many sexual and other sins he concluded that man was totally depraved from birth.  Since he chose to lead a sinful lifestyle he tried to justify himself by developing a theology to substantiate it.
     John Calvin took Agustine’s theory and developed it into a system of five cardinal points that is defined by the word TULIP.  There is no connection with the flower, but all five points are contrary and contradictory to God’s plan of salvation in the Bible.  Calvin’s five cardinal points are: T= Total Depravity, U= Unconditional Election, L= Limited Atonement, I= Irresistible Grace, P= Perseverance Of The Saints.  All five points of Calvin’s theory either stand or fall together.
     Total Depravity is false because it teaches that every person inherits Adam’s original sin at birth and comes into this world totally depraved.  This doctrine is false because even though one is born into a world of sin he does not become a sinner until he reaches the age of accountability.  We do not inherit sin but we are responsible for our own sins when we become accountable.  God says, "The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be on himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on himself" (Ezekiel 18:30).
     Jesus says, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).  Rather than condemning little children as sinners, Jesus commends them as examples of innocence.  A little child is so pure; he already possesses the kingdom of heaven.  Even though children are born into a world of sin, they have no knowledge of sin.  "Moreover your little ones and your children…who today have no knowledge of good and evil" (Deuteronomy 1:39).  Only when children grow up and become accountable do they transgress God’s law and begin to sin.  "You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you" (Ezekiel 28:15).  We do not inherit sin, but we commit sin. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4).  Total Depravity contradicts the free moral agency of man and infers that no person can serve God of his own free will.  This will end up causing many people to be eternally lost.
     Unconditional Election is a damnable doctrine that teaches that God has arbitrarily chosen those He is going to save, even before they are born and everyone else is going to be eternally lost.  It says that nothing a person does has any bearing at all on his salvation.  They contradict themselves with their "faith only" doctrine by saying a person must "accept Jesus as his personal saviour" and say the "sinner’s prayer" to be saved.  Even though "accepting Jesus as your personal saviour" and saying the "sinner’s prayer" to be saved is false, is this not doing something?  Unconditional Election says that God predestined the salvation or damnation of every person without any regard to the good or evil he may do.
     But the Bible says, "The Lord…is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:4).  God wants all people to be saved and does not predestine anyone to be saved or lost.  The only thing that God has predestined or predetermined is to save those who are obedient to His commands (Hebrews 5:9) and to punish those who are disobedient (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  Unconditional Election accuses God of being partial and showing favoritism.  But God’s word says, "that God shows no partiality.  But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him (Acts 10:34-35).
     This false doctrine makes every command, every warning, and every admonition of God useless.  With Unconditional Election there is no reason to try to teach anyone the gospel of Christ if God has already arbitrarily decided who is going to be saved and who is going to be lost.  This makes no sense.  But Jesus says, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).  God’s offer of salvation is available to everyone, but each must choose whether he will accept or reject it.
     Limited Atonement means that only certain ones have been elected to salvation.  If this is true, which it is not, then in John 3:16, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" would not be true if God only loved part of the world.  It is God "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), not just some men to be saved.  This doctrine falsely teaches that Christ died only for those He elected to save, but the Bible says concerning Christ, "that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9).  Limited Atonement basically teaches that the blood of Christ is not available for all men.  "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:2).  Christ died for the whole world, not for just some.
     Irresistible Grace falsely teaches the direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of those God has chosen to save.  One error leads to another.  If one who God has predestined to save is "Totally Depraved" and incapable of doing right, then how can his conversion be accomplished?  They have come up with the false doctrine of "Irresistible Grace" involving the miraculous direct operation of the Holy Spirit which operates on the heart of those whom God has chosen to be saved so they cannot resist the salvation that God has unconditionally provided.  If this is true there would be no reason for preaching, teaching, and mission work.  But Jesus' command is to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).  The erroneous notions of Irresistible Grace contradicts what God’s word says.  "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons’" (Acts 10:34).  The man-made doctrine of Irresistible Grace makes God a respecter of persons.  But God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4), and "is not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9), since Christ has tasted "death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9).
     Perseverance Of The Saints is also stated as "once saved, always saved" or "the impossibility of apostasy".  This false theology says that a child of God cannot fall from the grace of God and be eternally lost.  This is just another lie of Satan to lull one into a state of complacency.  But the Bible says, "you have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4).  Isn’t it strange that people who say they believe the Bible also say that we cannot fall from grace, when the Bible so plainly says we can?  How much clearer could the Bible have said this?
     We are warned, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12).  Why such a warning if it is impossible to fall from grace?  The apostle Paul says, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:27).  Even the apostle Paul knew it was possible for him to become a castaway and be lost.
     Again we are warned, "Beware, brethern, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12).  The word of God says that a Christian can depart and leave God if he develops an evil heart of unbelief.  The Bible also says, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).  By believing "once saved, always saved" one is deceived by "giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons".
     The Bible says that some, "Having condemnation because they have cast off their faith" (1 Timothy 5:12).  They were once saved but are now condemned and lost because they had cast off their faith.  If one cannot lose his salvation then why are the Christians at Philippi urged to, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12)?
     The deadly TULIP theory will destroy many souls of men in Hell by people following this doctrine "because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).  The sad thing is that many sincere people have believed this lie of Satan and will be spending eternity in Hell with him.

- You can visit additional resources from Ron Boatman at

Replace the Rope

      There is a story about a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air.  The only way to reach the monastery was to be suspended in a basket which was pulled to the top by several monks who pulled and tugged with all their strength.  Obviously, the ride up the steep cliff in that basket was terrifying.
   One tourist got exceedingly nervous about halfway up as he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed.  With a trembling voice, he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope.  The monk thought for a moment, and then answered, “Whenever it breaks.”
     Is there anything in your life that needs changing?
     Change it NOW! Don’t wait for it to break!

--Source unknown

- 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:

The Cold Within

By Larry Pasley

Six humans trapped by happenstance

    In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
     Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs

     The first man held his back
For of the faces round the fire
     He noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way

     Saw one not of his church
And couldn't bring himself to give
     The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.

     He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
     To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought

     Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
     From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge

     As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
     Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group

     Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
     Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death's still hand

     Was proof of human sin.
They didn't die from the cold without
     They died from the cold within.
                    --James Patrick Kinney
    It may seem odd to us that people would hold back from others that which would save their own lives but stranger things have happened.
    Spiritually it is much more prevalent. Some become soil analyzers rather than seed sowers and determine that some people are not worthy of the gospel or salvation. They hold back the gospel from them and by doing so endanger their own soul.
    There are some people that only you can reach with the gospel and when you don’t teach them they are doomed to eternity in hell. God says in Ezekiel that he will hold that one accountable who does not warn the lost.
Ezekiel 3:18-19 When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. [19] Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
    Are you holding back from someone that which would save their life for eternity?
    With love and concern,

- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Monday, April 23, 2012

Uncontrolled Anger

By Lance Cordle
     Henrik Stenson played in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Washington, D.C. According to Yahoo! Sports, Stenson’s temper tantrum on the fifteenth hole resulted in his smashing his club to the ground, breaking it, and cutting his hand. Stenson is not the first golfer to slam a club into the ground nor is likely to be the last. Golf can be a very frustrating game and controlling ones temp can result in character-building and maturity.
     Of course, golf is not the only part of life that motivates a loss of temper. Everyday life can be frustrating as well. Those who learn to control their tempers will bless themselves and others.
     Listed below are some of the common consequences of loss of control.
¨ Broken electronic equipment
¨ Broken drywall/sheetrock
¨ Broken bones
¨ Broken dishes
¨ Broken mirrors
¨ Broken furniture
¨ Broken relationship between parents and children
¨ Broken relationships between siblings
¨ Broken relationships between spouses
¨ Broken hearts
¨ Broken promises
¨ Broken lives
     Now recall some of God’s instructions concerning anger and ponder how those broken things above can be avoided.
¨ Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
¨ Proverbs 16:32: “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
¨ Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…”

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: 


By Kevin Rayner
    Well it is with mixed feelings, but I have a new job and will be moving to Oklahoma. I do believe that when something is God's will, you can't have mixed feelings. You must believe it is a blessing.

Reason To Smile

    Comedian George Burns said that he was advised: "Let a smile be your umbrella." He said, "I tried that once. I had pneumonia for six weeks and shrunk a $450 suit."
    All right. Maybe it won't keep you dry in the rain, but there are other good reasons to smile. Author Brian Tracy tells us that the face requires 12 muscles to smile and 103 to frown. (Who counts these things?) He also says that whenever you smile at another person, it puts them at ease and raises their self-esteem. And if that isn't enough, when you smile it releases endor­phins in your brain and gives you a feeling of well-being and contentment.
    So a smile benefits the giver as well as the receiver. It's like receiving a gift in return every time we give one away!
    Rabbi Hirsch gives more reasons to smile:
Smiling is a universal language.
+ People will enjoy being around you when you smile.
+ Smiling reduces stress, which may improve your overall health.
+ Smiling will change the sound qualities of your voice when you speak or sing.
+ A smile costs nothing but gives much. It en­riches those who receive it, without making poorer those who give.
+ It takes but a moment, but the memory of it lasts forever.
+ It cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or sto­len, for it is something that is of no value to any­one until it is given away.
    And finally, some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as no one needs a smile so much as one who has no more to give.
    Why not give out a few extra smiles today -- just for the fun of it!
    You Think About it!

- Kevin Rayner preaches for the Highland church of Christ, Tecumseh, OK.  He may be contacted through the congregation’s website: 

“This Do In Remembrance of Me”

By Ken Chumbley
    Tomorrow, being the last Monday in May, Congress has decreed, is Memorial Day in honor of those who have given their lives in military service for the United States. It is appropriate that we honor those who gave the supreme sacrifice for the liberty of this nation. However, today, the first day of the week, Christians gather together to remember the greatest sacrifice of all time, that of Jesus Christ, the Son of the God who gave His life on Calvary’s cross. We gather to partake of the Lord’s Supper in memory of the One who freely shed His blood that we might have the remission of sins.
    In this life, we have many different kinds of memorials in order to remember certain individuals. In our Bible Study last Lord’s Day, we read the words written by brother Leroy Brownlow. “We look at a flower from mother’s grave in memory of man’s truest friend on earth; we look at a faded picture of father in remembrance of him who guided us through tender years; we look at a lock of baby’s golden hair in memory of her who was with us such a short time; we go to Washington’s monument and stand with heads uncovered in memory of the father of our country.” He continued, “Hallowed flowers kept within the lids of the Bible disintegrate into fragments and powder with time; once cherished pictures are transformed by the years into unrecognizable scraps of paper; marble monuments are first effaced and finally leveled by time.” (Why I am a member of the Church of Christ, pages 168-169). However, as brother Brownlow so eloquently points out, the memorial that we have in order to carry out Christ’s command to remember Him is such that time and the elements cannot destroy it. When our Lord instituted what we refer to as the Lord’s Supper, he took two simple common things, unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, and gave them a wonderful significance. Two simple things that can be easily acquired. When Jesus instituted the feast He said that the unleavened bread was to remind us of His body that was broken and bruised on the cross of Calvary and the fruit of the vine His blood that was shed. Thus Christians every first day of the week (Acts 20:7) remember the Lord and His sacrifice by the partaking of these two simple elements.
    The unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine are given as a memorial that preaches Christ’s death (I Cor. 11:26). However, it also preaches the return of Christ for He said that this was to be done by His disciples “till he come” (I Cor. 11:26). Thus, as we partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine, we look back to that death nearly two thousand years ago on Calvary’s cross but we also look forward to that day when He will come again to receive His own unto Himself. Additionally, it is a memorial that preaches the New Covenant for our Lord said, as recoded by Paul, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood “ (I Cor. 11:25). The cup, the fruit of the vine that we partake of is the sign of and confirmation of the New Covenant between God and man that could not be ratified or brought into effect without the death of the testator (Heb. 9:16-17).
    Let us, as we partake of the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine this Lord’s Day and indeed each Lord’s Day realize the significance of this wonderful memorial to our Savior and realize afresh what His death, His coming again and the New Covenant mean to us and let us truly give thanks for this greatest of sacrifices.

- Ken Chumbley preaches for the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  He may be contacted at their website: 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pledge of Allegiance is Unconstitutional

By Jimmy Gribble
    A federal judge has ruled that the pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional because of the phrase "under God." I don't look for the Government to sanction Christianity - one can look in the New Testament and see the problems that cause for the early Christians. But, I think we, as a Country, are hypocritical! One the one hand, we can't say the pledge because the mention of God is in, yet we can confirm and appoint and seat a chief justice on the Supreme Court with the mention of God in the appointment.
    We can't say the pledge because the mention of God is in, yet the "law makers" beginning their sessions with the mention of God. We can't say the pledge because the mention of God is in, yet when one is to testify in a court, usually the Bible is used, so is the mention of God. Many other examples could also support this hypocrisy.
    The Jews, some of them, were also hypocritical. Jesus spoke about some of their hypocrisy in Matthew 23. Some of what Jesus said follows, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous," (Matthew 23:25-29).
    A country can be hypocritical; religious people can be hypocritical. While it is okay to look outwardly, we must also, more so, look inwardly! We need to preach the truth, but we also need to live the truth. Notice what Luke wrote of our Lord, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach," (Acts 1:1).               
    Let us do and teach, following the example of our Lord. Beloved, listen to all of God's word, God will do thee good!

- Jimmie Z. Gribble, Thought For Today, 09/29/05, Portsmouth, 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: 

Where Visitors Go to Die

By Jeremiah Tatum

    Having been raised in the church from infancy, and having been a located gospel preacher for 15 years, I have learned that there is a place where visitors and sometimes even members go to die.I was less than 10 years old the first time I ever went doorknocking, and about that same age the first time I participated in a weekly visitation program. I was afraid. I was weak. I was imperfect - I am still all of these things. The point is that there is really no excuse for not reaching out to people who need the Lord and His church.
    There is a place where visitors go to die right in our church buildings. If you wanted to do a study on it in your local congregation, you would locate the spot. Visitors sit there, and nobody speaks to them. They got unlucky. They just happened to sit in that part of the building where some of the members only talk to their friends after services. They just happened to sit in that part of the building where members beat them out the door as soon as amen is said. They just happened to sit in that part of the building where there are members who have never decided to obey the great commission. Forget going into all the world...these members won't even go across the pew.

    As a preacher, I am going to let you members out there know that I am looking for visitors on Sundays. Jesus died for our visitors, too. I may not talk to you every week because I am looking for lost sheep. If you would join me then we could make sure that there are no places in our building where visitors go to die. It may not be what you want to hear, but I know exactly where some of the "dead spots" are in our current building. And unless things change I hope that visitors don't sit in those particular places.
    Move off "your pew" and make a place for a visitor. Invite a visitor to eat lunch with you after services. Introduce yourself and tell each visitor you are glad to see them. Invite every visitor to come to Bible class and show them how to get there.
    There is a place where visitors go to die. Make sure that it is not next to you. You are accountable. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all..." ~ Galatians 6:10

- Jeremiah Tatum preaches for the Willow Avenue church in Cookeville TN, He may be contacted through the congregation's website: or visit his blog:

Are you rich?

    According to a Gallup Poll, about 98% of Americans reply NO when asked! There are several reasons why this negative response is given:
¨ Most assume the question relates to finances.
¨ Most think of someone “much richer” than they are.
¨ Most have not attained the wealth they desire—they are not as “rich” as they want.
     Richard Sterns provides some sobering statistics (The Hole in Our Gospel, pp 1212-122, Thomas Nelson, 2009).
¨ The average income in America is $38,611 a year, or $105 a day.
Compare that to the world in which we live:
¨ 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population) live on less than $2 a day.
¨ 1 billion people (15% of the world’s population) live on less than $1 a day.
¨ 0.3 billion people (4.5% of the world’s population) live on $105 a day (that is us).
     By going to the website and typing in your income, in a matter of seconds you can see where you fit on the “global rich list.”
     Whether we admit it or not, or are satisfied with where we are or not, from a global perspective most of us are rich. Very rich! So what difference does this make? Paul gave Timothy some very pointed instructions:
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
     So many want to tell us how to get rich. Very few provide advice once one is rich. The Holy Spirit has provided that counsel in 1 Timothy 6. It is practical, pertinent, and inspired! May we all read and learn! May we all be ready to give and willing to share.

- 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:

Death Bed Confessions

By Bill Brandstatter
    I was talking with an individual and we talked about the idea of death bed confessions. He stated that he believed that ifa person confessed Christ on his death bed that person could go to heaven. The man made this statement to indicate a person doesn’t’ have to be baptized to be saved.
    As I thought about this, I began to wonder about the following points:
1.     If faith without works is dead (James 2:26), what kind of faith would that man have?

2.     If all he did was confess, did he repent of anything?-Acts 17:31. Repentance is proven by actions-Mt. 3:8.

3.     What kind of Christian life does a person have who is on his death bed? I have baptized individuals days before death, but I have always wondered how they could truly get the benefits out of the Christian life by waiting till the death bed.

4.      There are certain items that must be believed in order to be saved. If a man does not understand what he is doing or saying while moments from death, is he saved? I have personally baptized at least two individuals that were on their death beds. Both individuals only lived a few days before they died. With one man we had to make special preparations for so that he could be baptized. Their salvation is in the hands of a mighty and merciful God.  Being saved has a great urgency to it. Paul wrote; “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2). The Bible teaches that confession is not all a person must do to be saved. A person must believe (John 3:16), repent (Acts 17:30), and be baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21). Wouldn’t it be better to be saved now and enjoy the Christian life than to wait until just before death? God has given us the provision now so we can have hope of a life beyond the grave. Won’t it be wonderful if we are prepared now!!!

– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, April 9, 2012

The World’s Bible

Christ has no hands but our hands
To do His work today,
He has no feet but our feet
To lead men in His way;
He has no tongue but our tongues
To tell men how He died,
He has no help but our help
To bring them to His side.
We are the only Bible
The careless world will read,
We are the sinner’s gospel,
We are the scoffers’ creed;
We are the Lord’s last message
Given in deed and word,
What if the type is crooked?
What if the print is blurred?
What if our hands are busy
With other things than His?
What if our feet are walking
Where sin’s allurment is?
What if our tongues are speaking
Of things His life would spurn,
How can we hope to help Him
And welcome His return?

The preceding is a hymn written by Annie J. Flint & J.E. Hamilton, and it is printed in the Sacred Selections for the Church hymnal, edited by Ellis J. Crum.

-Via The Messenger, the weekly bulletin of the  Coldwater church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. Clifton Angel serves as the preacher for the congregation and may be contacted through their website:

I Stand — Even When I Don't

By Jim Faughn

      It has become fashionable in some circles to add a little “choreography” along with songs of praise and worship. I know I’m an old fogey, but I’m not planning to be in one of those circles.
      To use just one example, I do stand (remain) in awe of deity. I do not, however, see the need to physically demonstrate that during a period of worship.
      I stand in awe when I am sitting and reading God’s word. I stand in awe when I am lying on my back at night and looking at the splendor of God’s universe. I stand in awe when I’m walking in the woods or along a beach. I stand in awe when I’m driving down the road and see a beautiful sunrise, sunset, or rainbow. And, yes, I stand in awe when I stand in front of people and try to come to grips with my duty as a preacher of the gospel.
      I’ve seen where “performance worship” leads. I found myself at a youth gathering on one occasion where my Lord’s incarnation, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension were all “acted out” during a song. Some of those who participated even found a way include swinging hips and other movements that would have been more appropriate at a night club than at a church building (which is where it took place).
      I wonder if those who “stand to praise [Jesus]” also “fall to [their] knees.” Just wondering.
      If you are among those who feel the need to add choreography to your worship, I hope you don’t mind if I don’t join you. I prefer to direct my worship heavenward rather than call attention to myself.

- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: [You may also visit Jim's blog at

A “Jacobite” Without Guile (John 1:47)

By Ty Nichol
     Philip told Nathanael he had discovered the Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s promises through Moses and the prophets (John 1:41).  The skeptical Nathanael approaches the Christ and hears the Master call him “guileless,” a true descendant of Jacob ( Israel ).  Taken by surprise, the young man wants to know how Jesus got inside him (1:48), and Jesus told him he knew what was going on within him when he (Nathanael) was under the fig tree doing what Jews often did—reflecting.  At this, Nathanael is thunderstruck and confesses Jesus to be the Son of God and King of Israel (1:49).
     What was there in Jesus’ remark that struck Nathanael so hard? He realized Jesus had read his thoughts.  He had been reflecting on Jacob ( Israel ), a man of guile, and when Jesus mentioned “Israelite” and “guile,” it struck Nathanael.  But when Christ told him he knew what he had been thinking under the tree, the young man’s suspicion was confirmed, and the confession followed.  But imagine how it must have smitten Nathanael when Christ went on to say, “You think that astonishing? What will you think when you discover that I was the one you were thinking about? That I am the fulfillment of all the longings Jacob’s dream embraces? That I am the assurance that God is with the wanderers and homeless even when they have created their own troubles? That I am the ladder by which messages go up to God, and I am the means by which the word of God comes to man?”
     Later, Christ will say that Abraham saw His day and was glad (John 8), and here we’re being told that Jacob saw His day and didn’t know it.  When Nathanael approached Jesus with his skeptical, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth ?” he too was ignorant.  Jesus is always doing that, isn’t he? He’s always surprising people with joy, always making them glad they get to know Him, and always fulfilling our dreams even when we don’t know he’s doing it.  We think he’s fine now, but what will we think when we see Him in all His glory, and He makes us share in it? 

-Ty Nichol, Kemp church of Christ, Kemp, IL; Kemp; 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:

A Bigger Hand Than Mine

By Ronald Bartanan
   A little girl was in a country store with her mother when, after the mother had made her purchases, the store’s owner invited the girl to reach her hand into a bowl full of candy and help herself.  Surprising to her mother, she declined. The store-owner was also surprised, and asked the girl, “What’s the matter? Don’t you like candy?”  She nodded that she did.  The man then put his hand into the bowl and brought out a handful, dropping it into her handbag.  Upon leaving the store, the mother asked her daughter why she had at first refused the kind man’s offer. “Because his hand is bigger than mine,” was her reply.
      What are you able to gain in your life? Most go through life grasping for as much happiness as they can.  All gain a little here and a little there, but invariably finding themselves in short supply.  They may seek it in material wealth, in worldly pleasure or in popularity, only to discover that in the end they are woefully lacking in true happiness.
   God would have us to learn that His hands are bigger than ours, and He is capable of abundantly supplying the fullness of life our hearts truly crave.  In His ministry among folks whose basic desires were much like our own, Jesus announced, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).  The apostle Paul assured the Philippian believers, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).  Apart from Jesus Christ, however, we are left to our own devices, which are always inadequate.  Early Christians suffered much for their faith in Christ, but God’s hand was big.  Paul could write to such, urging, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). 
   Are you desiring true fullness and meaning in life? Then remember: God’s hand is bigger thanyours.

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Try Harder

By Steve Higginbotham
     I’m convinced that many of us may not resist the temptation to sin as we should.  It’s not that we want to sin, for we don’t.  It’s just that when temptation crosses our path, we don’t fight it as though we were in a life or death struggle.  We may resist, but the resistance is only token.
     Not long ago, a friend of mine (Reed Swindle) gave a lecture in which he raised this question.  What if every time we sinned, an ugly scar appeared upon our face?  How much harder then would we resist sin?  Good question.  None of us would like to have our faces scarred.  Scars to our faces would be embarrassing, affect our relationships, and would affect our behavior.  I’m sure we would tenaciously fight the temptation of sin if succumbing meant a big ugly scar to our faces.
     You see where I’m going, right?  Why would we fight harder to preserve our temporal flesh than we would to preserve our eternal soul?  The fact that we can’t see the “scars” sin leaves upon us doesn’t mean they’re not there.  Friends, resist the temptation to sin; not just a token resistance before you succumb, but a resistance that reflects a life! and death struggle.

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at  Copyright © 2012, Steve Higginbotham.  Permission is granted to copy these articles.

Absentee Christians

By R. W. McAlister
     It’s common to look at the attendance record of most congregations and find the Sunday and Wednesday night attendance to be greatly below that for the service on Sunday morning. Sometimes the total attending on Wednesday is one-half the Sunday morning figure.
     Those who cause this difference by deliberately forsaking Sunday and Wednesday evening Bible classes are sounding forth a message to God and others. Here’s what we’re saying when we forsake Sunday and Wednesday night Bible study:
1) I don’t need spiritual food. The Bible contains the necessary ingredients for one's spiritual growth (I Peter 2:2). Every Sunday and Wednesday night, a portion of spiritual food is set out for those hungering for righteousness. Those who remain at home during this spiritual feast act as though they don’t need this nutrition for their souls.
2) Those who forsake the Sunday and Wednesday night services are saying that there are some things more important than gathering with God's people for study and worship. Some of these “more important” things are television programs, the newspaper, housework, the garden, or a nap. “Study to show thyself approved unto God; a workman that needeth not to be ashamed; rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Tim. 2:15). Those who forsake these assemblies are missing a great opportunity to do this very thing.
3) Those who remain at home on Sunday and/or Wednesday nights are also saying that a study of the Bible is boring. It totally amazes me that anyone could call something more precious than gold (Psalm 19:10) dull or boring. It’s beyond comprehension that the Book containing God's mind (I Cor. 2:9-13) could be thought of as dry or uninteresting.
4) Those who forsake evening services are saying with certainty that obeying God's commands is not important. Hebrews 10:25 commands that one not forsake the assembling of the saints. Those who forsake the Sunday night and mid-week assembly must think this command is meaningless. The Holy Spirit instructs differently “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).
     Dear Reader, everything that has been said about Sunday evening worship and Wednesday night Bible study applies equally to Gospel meetings or lectureships your congregation may be hosting. Why do we not love God enough to assemble with the saints whenever possible? (cr. Heb. 10:25; Mt. 6:33; Ps. 122:1)
     Without doubt, there are reasons, and there are excuses for not being present on Sunday & Wednesday nights. Friend, God knows the difference.
 - R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Not Too Short

By David A. Sargent
    Four years ago this month, a group of students from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, TN, traveled to the Dominican Republic for a Spring Break mission trip. The group conducted a Vacation Bible School program at a children’s home in Bobita.
    After their final day of work at the children’s home, team members spent some time relaxing at the beach.  Then tragedy struck…
    Shane Ruiz, 19, and two other students were walking along the beach in knee-deep water when they were hit by a large wave.  Shane was swept out into the ocean by a strong undertow. Team members and Dominicans on the beach spent the next three hours attempting to rescue Shane, but were unable to reach him. **
    Dr. Ralph Gilmore, Bible professor at F-HU, recently relayed these events to the chapel assembly at the Faulkner University Lectureship in Montgomery, AL.  With great emotion, he told how that as many desperately sought to save Shane, “their arms were just too short to save him.”  They could not reach him.
    Dr. Gilmore quoted Isaiah 59:1-2 – “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
    The reality is that because of our sins, WE are separated from God and lost.  The undertow of sin is too strong for us to save ourselves.  Even our friends and loved ones can’t save us.  Thus we are doomed.
    “But the arm of the Lord is not too short to save!”  God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to save us from our sins (John 3:16).  In order to save us, Jesus gave His life for us.  He died on the cross to rescue us from sin (Ephesians 1:7).  He was the only One who could save us, for He was and is the sinless Son of God!
    God WILL save those who will: place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4).
    That’s why.... Shane and his Christian co-workers were in the Dominican Republic during that Spring Break in 2008: to tell those who were lost in sin that God’s arm is not too short to save!
    That’s the Good News (the Gospel) for us, too!  No matter how deeply we have sunk into sin, God’s arm is not too short to save us.  We must simply reach out to His extended hand through our trusting obedience.
    Won’t YOU?

- David A. Sargent, 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:

* Our deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Shane Ruiz and to the Freed-Hardeman family on the anniversary of his death.  We also express profound appreciation to Shane and those like him, who seek to remind others that God’s arm is not too short to save us from sin.

** Information gleaned from The Christian Chronicle --

If You Think…

By H. L. Gradowith

If you think you’re unloved, if you think no one cares,

If you think you’re alone with no help anywhere,
If you think no one’s watching the things that you do:
I have Someone I’d like to introduce to you!

CHORUS:  His Name is Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace

And from all of your sins He will grant full release;
He’s the Son of our Father come down from Above,
He is Mercy and Grace, He is Pardon and Love!

If you think this old world has no reason to be,

That man just evolved from a creature in the sea;
If you think you cease to be when life here is through:
I have Someone I’d like to introduce to you!

CHORUS:  His Name is Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace

And from all of your sins He will grant full release;
He’s the Son of our Father come down from Above,
He is Mercy and Grace, He is Pardon and Love!

If you think there’s no need to give glory to God,

That we’ve no need to walk in the steps Jesus trod,
If you think it doesn’t matter just what we do:
I have Someone I’d like to introduce to you!

CHORUS:  His Name is Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace

And from all of your sins He will grant full release;
He’s the Son of our Father come down from Above,
He is Mercy and Grace, He is Pardon and Love!

If you think there’s no need to steer away from sin,

That at the end of life there is no Crown to win;
That the grave is the end no matter what you do:
I have Someone I’d like to introduce to you!

CHORUS:  His Name is Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace

And from all of your sins He will grant full release;
He’s the Son of our Father come down from Above,
He is Mercy and Grace, He is Pardon and Love!

If you think no one died on that old rugged tree

To pay your debt that you might be made fully free,
If you really believe there’s nothing you should do:
I have Someone I’d like to introduce to you!

CHORUS:  His Name is Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace

And from all of your sins He will grant full release;
He’s the Son of our Father come down from Above,
He is Mercy and Grace, He is Pardon and Love!

- [For Jimmy, more than my son-in-law… he’s my friend!!!] H. L. Gradowith; For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit - the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon church of Christ in Webb, AL.

Lesson From a Sculptor

By John Gipson
     Years ago, while preaching for a week in Victoria, Texas, I walked past a bank building and noticed some small bronze sculptures of a mother quail and her young.  I paused and marveled at the beauty of this work.  Wanting to know who the artist was, I went into the bank and made inquiry.  As it turned out he was a local Mexican welder with a shop only four or five blocks down the street.  Having some time to spare, I decided to meet him and tell him how impressed I was with his work.
    When we met, he was under a pickup, welding on a trailer hitch.  He said, “I do this kind of work for my stomach.  The sculptures I do for my soul.”  Impressed, I asked to see other works he had done.  He showed me a few, and then remarked that a number of others were in museums and office buildings, but he could show me some catalogues from several countries in South America that featured his work.  (Some years later I visited the museum in Houston , Texas , and saw two of his sculptures on exhibit.)
    Now for the lesson this sculptor taught me: In explaining his work, he said, “Years ago I discovered that I cannot make anything beautiful without being beautiful myself.  So, early each morning I go down by the river and pray that God will make me a beautiful person.”
    Centuries before, John Milton wrote, “A writer ought himself to be a true poem if he wishes to write well…in laudable things.”
    Jesus gives His followers an excellent commission: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
    To accomplish this, the Christian must be a true poem of the gospel if he wishes to prove in practice the things that are excellent.

–John Gipson, Windsong Notes, Little Rock , Ark.;
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: