Monday, September 24, 2012

The Darkness of Hell

By Travis L. Quertermous
Do you remember as a child waking up in the middle of the night unable to see your hand in front of your face? I remember how frightened I was at times like that as I crept slowly across my room to the light switch! Even as adults, we sometimes have terrible nightmares that are made all the worse by waking up in a pitch black room!
Do you know that’s how the Bible describes hell? While the predominant image is that of eternal fire, Scripture also describes hell as a place of outer darkness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, once described hell in this way: “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:13)? Notice that Jesus did not just describe hell as a place of darkness, but outer darkness. Pitch black darkness from which there will never be an escape! It is such a terrifying thought that Jesus further said hell will be a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth from the pain and the terror of that eternal nightmare!
Thomas Watson once said, “Eternity to the godly is a day that has not sunset; eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise.” He was exactly right! So where will you spend eternity: in the sunlight of heaven or in the outer darkness of hell?
- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the Church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

A Friend in Deed

By Johnny Hester

Just today I re-discovered an interesting Civil War story about President Abraham Lincoln and how he chose to deal with a particularly difficult matter.

During the War Between the States, President Lincoln received many requests for pardons for soldiers who had deserted and had been sentenced to death. With each appeal came letters of testimony from family and friends telling of the soldier's endearing qualities and why his life should be spared.

One request for pardon came on a single sheet of paper. No letters were attached. Surprised, the president asked the officer in charge why no one spoke for this man. "This soldier has no friends, Mr. President. All his family died during the war." The president thanked the officer and told him he'd let him know what his decisions were in the morning.

That night the president struggled with his decisions. Desertion was a serious matter, and if he were to overrule a death sentence, he would be sending a message to his troops. Yet, he sympathized with the man who had no one who loved him in the world.

The next morning the officer returned to the president's office and learned that the president had made his decision, based on the testimony of a friend. "But Sir, there were no letters of testimony for this man!"

"I will be his friend," the President said as he signed the pardon.

The president made a tough decision. It was a decision based not on personal self-interest, but based upon the need of another. That is precisely the choice that Jesus made when He demonstrated His friendship toward us in an unmistakable way - He died in our stead. He died so that we might live!

The death that Jesus chose to suffer was the ultimate demonstration of loving friendship. And, the Lord tells us how we are to show our friendship and love for Him. He declared in John 15:13-14, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you."

In 1904, perhaps with this passage in mind, Will. L. Thompson penned the following verse:

Jesus is all the world to me:

   I want no better friend;
I trust Him now, I'll trust Him when
   life's fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a friend,
   beautiful life what has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy:
   He's my friend.

How blessed we are to have Jesus as our friend. Let's determine to bring our lives into compliance with His will and, in doing so, demonstrate that we are His friends as well.

- Johnny Hester preaches for the Shady Acres Church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO.  He may be contacted through the church's website at


By Scott Jacques
    In today’s business environment we hear a lot about “out sourcing” a term that refers to the practice of using outside sources (businesses or individuals) to provide services or products that traditionally would have been provided or produced “in house” such as accounting, recruiting, engineering, maintenance, manufacturing of parts, etc;   The practice of “out sourcing” has proven to be very beneficial and successful in controlling cost and the need for capital, by eliminating equipment cost and the need for skilled personnel, along with the high cost of employee benefits and training, thus enabling businesses to compete in today’s competitive fast paced business world.
    The practice of “out sourcing” which became very popular in the 1980s has proven to be very profitable in the short term but its long term effects can be detrimental to a company. History has shown the benefits of promoting from within an organization, taking full  advantage of  training, experience and loyalty, however “out sourcing” has proved to create a lack of trained, experienced and loyal leaders within a company therefore has created an ongoing dependence upon outside sources, thus giving control of the company’s future to those outside rather than those within, while still assuming all liability and responsibility.
    In the past several years we have seen a similar practice of “out sourcing” in many congregations of the Lord’s church, when the majority of the benevolent work is focused on supporting organized Children’s Homes outside the local area, the majority of the evangelistic efforts focus on mission work in foreign lands by organized mission teams instead of local members going house to house in our own communities, our classroom curriculum and teaching materials are produced by Publishing Houses rather than by our own teachers studying and teaching from the Bible, the responsibility of Bible study is left to the preacher hired to do the teaching and preaching, and it is often left to the preacher to do the visiting of the sick, the shut-ins and those who need encouragement. Putting the work and responsibilities of the congregation in the hands of others.
   Let us as a congregation, as well as individual Christians, look within ourselves and give a diligent effort to study and to grow in knowledge, in good works, in our love for one another and for all mankind as we seek opportunity to fulfill our responsibilities in seeking and saving the lost, helping those in need and to build up and edify the church insuring a strong future for generations to come by GROWING AND BUILDING WITHIN.

- Scott Jacques may be contacted at  He serves as an elder for the Curry St. Church of Christ in West Plains, MO. Larry Yarber preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted through the church's website:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Four Kinds of Worship

By Paul Vaughn

How important is the worship of God to you? There are many beliefs about worship. Some view it as important on Sunday morning and not Sunday evening. There are multitudes who believe that the worship of God is not important at all. Yet, a golden thread going through the Bible is the acceptable worship and adoration of God. In the New Testament there are four types of worship.

First, there is vain worship. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat. 15:9). Vain worship is empty, useless because it is according to the standards of men and not authorized by the Lord. Vain worship is worthless, going no higher than the ceiling, unacceptable to God.

Second, there is will worship. “Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Col. 2:23). Will worship is self-imposed religion. It is nothing but an exhibition of wisdom, a mere invention and misrepresentation of men. It is man satisfying man’s will and craving, not God’s.

Third, there is ignorant worship. “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:23). Ignorant worship is void of true knowledge of God and is not the worship authorized by God. It is unacceptable to God.

Fourth, there is true worship. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). True worship consists of the proper attitude, reverence toward God, and is directed by God’s Word which is truth. It is written, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). This is the worship that God accepts. It is according to His standard and not man’s.

When men worship God, they must understand that it is God centered and not man centered. It is God who we should please and not ourselves. It is not enough simply to worship, one must worship in spirit and truth.

- Paul Vaughn; 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:

Loving the Word of Christ

By Nathan Brewer

      Did Jesus hide His saving message from some of the people but reveal it to others? In Matthew chapter 13, Jesus teaches many lessons in parables. Parables are special lessons that use everyday situations to illustrate spiritual points.
     In verses 3 through 9, Jesus teaches about a sower who goes forth sowing seeds. Some of the seeds fall by the wayside and the birds eat them. Some of the seeds fall on soil with lots of rocks in it. They germinate and spring up, but the sun scorches them and they wither away.
     And some of the seeds fall in soil that has lots of thorns. The thorns choke out the seeds and they die. But finally the sower sows seed in good ground. The seeds in the good ground produce a bountiful harvest. When He finishes the lesson, the disciples ask Him why He is teaching in parables.
     In verses 11 through 16, Jesus explains that He is speaking in parables so that those who want the truth will understand His message, but those who don't want the truth will remain in the dark. In fact, Jesus says that this fulfills a prophesy from Isaiah 6:9-10. "By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; Lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Matt. 13:14-15). Jesus gave the same message to all of the people, but some of them understood it while others did not. The condition of our hearts is what determines whether we understand Jesus' teaching.
     That is exactly the point of the parable that Jesus told about the sower who sowed the seeds in different kinds of soil. Jesus goes on to explain the parable to his disciples in Matthew 13:18-24. He says the seed that fell in the wayside soil represents those who hear the word of the kingdom but don't understand it, and that word is quickly taken out of the hearer's heart. The stony soil represents someone who hears the Gospel and receives it gladly, but when persecution comes he falls away.
     The soil with thorns represents someone who hears the word but allows cares of this life — things like work, family and money — to choke it out. Someone like this becomes "unfruitful." But the good ground that the seeds fell into — the soil that finally produced an abundant crop — represents someone who understands the word and lets it bear fruit in his life.
     In a parallel passage, Luke 8:15, Jesus says that the one who understands the word is one who has an honest and good heart. The first three kinds of soil represent people who ultimately refuse the word because of the condition of their hearts.
     Jesus goes on to say in Luke 8:18, "Take heed therefore how ye hear." Our understanding of what Jesus teaches depends on the condition of our heart. If we are honest and want to know the truth, we will investigate and find the truth. If we don't want the truth, or if we don't care, we will remain spiritually deaf and blind and that will cost us our soul. Jesus said that when some of the people refused to hear and understand His message, they fulfilled prophecy. That prophecy said the hardhearted would refuse to be healed and converted. Those today who close their ears to the truth of the Gospel will remain in their sins. That means they will ultimately be consigned to spend eternity in hell, away from all that is good and holy.
     There is a lot of disagreement about what the Bible teaches, and because of this many people have decided that it's impossible for people to understand it alike. But Jesus explains in the parable of the sower and the soils in Matthew 13 why many don't understand the Bible. It isn't the Bible's fault. The problem is with the people. While there is honest disagreement among sincere people over a few matters, Jesus and the apostles are plain about what to do to be saved, how to worship God, which church is actually the church of Christ, and what activities are immoral and thus forbidden. The New Testament plainly lays out these matters. Those who refuse to accept the truth on these matters are shutting their eyes and ears, just like Jesus said. And this results in people hearing the saving truth but rejecting it and remaining in their sins.
     Do you love the truth? Are you willing to accept the truth regardless of the consequences? These are requirements for being saved and going to heaven.

- Nathan Brewer [] 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:


By Marc Hinds

You can’t see your soul. And you certainly can’t see it stained with sin. And so, the philosophy of life, “out of sight, out of mind,” has been embraced by millions of people who have slowly but surely lost their taste for the spiritual. Rather than walking with God, “every man does what is right in his own eyes” (Jdgs. 17:6; 21:25). Like Judah of old, we have forgotten how to blush (Jer. 6:15; 8:12).

In his inimitable way, C.S. Lewis lists several reasons why we have grown more and more desensitized to the reality of sin. The following is a paraphrase from his Christian apologetic work: THE PROBLEM OF PAIN (New York: Touchstone, 1996, reprint from 1962; pgs. 52-60).

1. COMPARISON: When we compare ourselves with others, we are less likely to see ourselves as we really are. “I'm better than he is,” we might think, not realizing that: 1) even though we are better than someone else, that does not necessarily mean that we are above the bar of acceptability with God; or 2) it may not really be true that we're better than someone else after all.

2. SINS OF SOCIETY vs PERSONAL SINS: Just because the world is terribly sinful does not mean that we should overlook our own personal sins. We haven't murdered anyone, we're not addicted to drugs, we’re not lying under oath. But yet, we have sinned as individuals. “Corporate not felt with the same force as personal guilt.”

3. TIME CANCELS SINS: “The guilt of sin is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ...” through baptism (Acts 2:38). The very fact that we have been immersed in the watery grave of baptism should forever remind us of “the price of our forgiveness” which Jesus Christ selflessly paid for us. And thus, we should be forever humble.

4. SAFETY IN NUMBERS: “Everybody else is a sinner.” It may be true (it is true) that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), but that doesn’t make us okay. Immorality is never justified under any circumstances, including just because “everybody else is doing it.”

5. DELICATESSEN MORALITY: You can’t pick and choose which virtues cancel out your vices. God is the Standard of all time. After all, what may have been considered a virtue in a past society may be considered a vice today. (?).

6. AT THE CORE OF KINDNESS: Why are you nice to people? Is it because you truly want to be kind, or because you have no reason not to be kind? If someone has offended you or inconvenienced you and you are still kind to them, then you are truly kind. Kindness is one of the several virtues: “You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues.” Paul tells us that “the FRUIT of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23). “Patience is a virtue!” we often say; so is kindness. (This FRUIT of the Spirit is a package deal, JWS).

7. PERFECTLY PERFECT PERFECTION: Just because we cannot be perfect (1 Jno. 1:8) even as God is perfect, doesn’t mean that we should just give up trying to live righteous lives. The bar has been set and we have been commanded by the Lord Himself: “Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

8. “IT’S NOT MY FAULT!”: Even though we cannot live perfectly sinless lives, that doesn’t mean that it's God’s fault that we’re sinners. He made us free moral agents: we choose to sin. We are not totally depraved, as the doctrine of Calvinism purports. “I disbelieve that doctrine, partly on the logical ground that if our depravity were total we should not know ourselves to be depraved, and partly because experience shows us much goodness in human nature.”

- Marc Hinds; 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:

Thomas The Apostle

By Lester Grant

     Thomas was known as Didymus.  The word means “twin”.  Whether he had a twin sister or brother we do not know.  He was a native of Galilee and a fisherman by trade.  The few Bible references we have about him seem to signal him out as a questioner.  Some want to label him a “doubter,” but I personally see him more as a practical man wanting facts for his beliefs.  This makes Tom special to me.  I like to have the facts about a thing before I accept it.
     In John 14, Jesus is really drawing a picture of heaven and making things seem unreal…so Thomas just asks for more facts:  “How can we know the way when we do not know where you are going?”
     Let me ask you, if you had been in Thomas’s shoes and saw the Lord crucified as He was, without any appeal, then someone told you He had been raised alive…what would your first response be? Not so much doubt as common sense, right?
     He was a very dedicated apostle.  When Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, they all warned Him about how the people would probably kill him.  When Jesus would not be stopped, old Thomas said, “Let’s go with Him and die” (John 11:16; See also John 14:5; 20:25.).
     There was an apostle movement eastward and some reference is that Thomas was in Babylon and then to India .  The Brachmans pursued him and while he was in prayer they ran him through with darts, stones, and dispatched him with a lance.  His burial place was Mylapore , India , now a suburb of Madras .  He is supposed to have been buried in one of the churches he established.  He was a fearless apostle and an establisher of churches.  I have been told many signs of his work still exist in India .  Thomas, as did all the apostles, held true to the fact that the Church was, and is, the most vital institution in the world, and if we are to hold to the apostle’s teaching, we must emphasize the Church also.

- 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:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being Late Is Becoming A Problem

By Dr. Gail Saltz

    It doesn’t matter what’s your appointment, you’re always late.  Always.  You’re late for business meetings, your kid’s play, dinner with your new in-laws… everything.  As the saying goes, you could even be late for your own funeral.
    Ever wonder what this is all about?  Do you genuinely want to be on time and make your life happier and less stressful?  Before you can change your behavior, you have to understand why you are chronically late.  Much like procrastinators, people have different reasons for being tardy.  Here are some of the main personality traits of so-called “late-niks”:
    Risk-takers:  These people are addicted to the thrill of leaving for  their appointed destination only when they absolutely must.  They don’t mind taking the risk of being late, because they don’t want to risk being early and waiting for others.  This may be because deep-down they fear feeling rejected, if they wind up waiting for others.
    Freedom-makers:  Those who felt trapped by authority as children often grow up to be “late-niks,” who use lateness to feel free.  Their intense wish not to be controlled by others may be at the root of their lateness.  Or they have a rebellious nature that essentially tells others: “You will not tell me how to run my life and when I have to be somewhere.”
    Organization-slackers:  Another reason someone may be late is poor organizational skills.  They have difficulty planning out a realistic schedule and calculating how long each of their tasks will take and how long it will take them to get to their appointments on time.  These people generally have poor organizational skills, though they may be very intelligent.
    Trouble-avoiders:  These people, unconsciously or even consciously, wish to avoid the people they are supposed to meet or the place where they are going.  This may be the reason for their lateness.  In these situations, lateness may be a form of passive-aggressive behavior.  Since they’re angry that they must go to an appointment, they make others wait for them.  These late-niks may not even be aware of their anger.
    If you want to stop being chronically late, the most important thing to do is to decide you really want to start being on time.  Then, you have to figure out which “late-nik” personality you have.  Understanding the underlying reasons why you are late, will give you a shot at changing your behavior.
    The next time you’re planning to be somewhere, recognize your tendency to be tardy and tell yourself why you think you’ll be late.  For instance, say to yourself, “I want to take a risk and leave at the last possible moment.”  Or say, “I don’t want to be controlled, so I won’t make an effort to be on  time.”  Or say, “I constantly misjudge the amount of time needed to get tasks done, so I don’t leave enough time to get to my appointment.” Or say, “I would like to avoid the person I’m meeting, so that’s why I’m late.” If you make a conscious decision to deal with your possible motivations for being late, you can make an concerted effort to be on time.  Then, build an extra 15 minutes into your schedule when you have an appointment.  Bring a book, so you won’t mind being early.  If you can never be early, then you will always be late.     

- via The Lantern, Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the congregation and you may visit their website as

Running Low?

By Kirk Brothers
     “Old Blue” is what I call my little Ranger pickup. The paint on “Old Blue” is chipping and fading and there are some rust spots, but all in all, he is doing pretty well. I drove it recently while I was having some work done on my car. I noticed that the engine was running hotter than normal.
     Now I am not much of a mechanic, but I found myself wondering if there was a problem with the thermostat. Then I thought, “I wonder if maybe it is low in radiator fluid?” I hadn’t checked that in a while so I decided I should start there. Sure enough, it was low. I added some fluid and so far so good.
     The fluid in our radiators and the oil in our engines help our vehicles deal with the heat and friction created by the moving parts in a motor. If these fluids are absent or low, they can destroy an engine. A person’s life can run low as well. The heat and friction of daily living can break us down. The person best able to deal with life and “cool down” when things are tough is the person who is filled with Christ. Have we become too busy to check on our spiritual fluid levels? It is not wise to fail to check the fluids in a car. It can be deadly not to periodically reflect on the level of a person’s relationship with Christ. To begin with, a person must be in Christ for Christ to be in him or her. This happens when we express our faith in repentance, confession, and baptism. We then need to work on growing in Christ. Sin, and the guilt that goes with it, can drain our relationship with Jesus. Is there something we need to  seek His forgiveness for? Some things we can do to help ourselves to stay full-of-Christ are the following:
1. Meet regularly with God’s people for worship.
2. Read regularly from God’s word.
3. Pray regularly for God’s strength.
4. Worship regularly in God’s presence.
5. Serve regularly in God’s name and for God’s glory.
These things can help us to feel God’s presence in our lives. When we regularly leave these things out it can leave us feeling empty. An empty spiritual tank is never a good thing.

- Kirk Brothers; 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:

God's Food Pyramid

By John Telgren
    Do you remember those diagrams of food pyramids in health class?  From what I remember, meats were closer to the top, and grains and breads closer to the bottom.  The key word for the food pyramid was balance.  There had to be a certain proportion of various kinds of food in the right amounts to be healthy.  The body needs the protein from meats, but it also needs the nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and grains.  I can remember looking at examples of a healthy diet laid out attractively on a dinner plate with the caption, "A balanced diet contributes toward our overall health."
    It occurs to me that the same is true for our spiritual health.  The Bible uses food analogy for the word of God.  It says, ". . . like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation . . ." (1 Pet 2:2).
     Think of what this image communicates.  I can remember when our children were babies and living on milk.  They "longed" for the milk.  There was no question in anyone's mind when they longed for the milk.  They would cry out until they were fed.
     This is how we should long for the word of God.  With that longing and the nourishment that comes from the word, we grow in respect to salvation.  Without that longing, we may wind up being sickly and could even die spiritually.
    I want to extend this metaphor a little farther.  Human beings do not live on milk their entire life.  As human beings grow, they begin to add other things into their diet as needed.  The food pyramid, which consisted of just milk, begins to grow in variety.  As we grow, balance is needed to remain healthy.
    All of the scripture is not the same.  There are portions that are written as letters, some as stories of various people's struggles, some as vivid fantastic accounts of angels, dragons, and people locked in a struggle to overcome evil, proverbs, wisdom instruction, poetry, songs, and on and on.  Each of them have various purposes.  Some are more directed at the mind, and others at the heart.  There is a great variety of scripture in God's food pyramid.  At times, we may find ourselves stuck to only one part of the food pyramid, such as the epistles, the Gospels, or the New Testament.  Notice what this Bible says.
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17).
    Notice, it doesn't say "some" scriptures are inspired.  Nor does it say, "The New Testament is inspired."  It says all scripture is inspired by God.  This implies that we need to make a discipline of reading all scripture.
    Part of the scripture is poetry and music.  The unique thing about the Psalms are that they generally are written to God rather than directly to us.  Their benefit is to model for us how to relate to God in worship, prayer, and devotion.  Reading of the Psalms ought to be a regular part of the spiritual food pyramid.

- John Telgren preachers for the Leavenworth Church of Christ in Leavenworth, KS. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Where There Is No Vision

By Keith Robinson

     Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” is often cited to encourage long range planning, discernment, goal setting and imaginative dreaming.  The church of the Lord certainly needs people of vision and imagination, but this is not the subject addressed in the passage in Proverbs.  The New King James Version gives a clearer rendition of the passage: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.”
     In a society more and more dominated by worldly standards and less and less influenced by God’s word (revelation), we as the people of God desperately need to reaffirm our unconditional surrender to God’s divine revelation.  When the word of God (revelation) is not faithfully upheld, behavior deteriorates, standards are ignored, principles are disregarded, all restraints are thrown off and every person becomes a law to himself.  It happens in a society, and if we give in to that influence, it will happen to us.  But if we know and respect the law of the Lord (revelation), as stated in the latter half of proverbs 29:18, happiness (blessedness) will prevail.
     What do I really want for me and my family: the chaos of anarchy, rebellious children, an unfaithful spouse, broken homes and broken lives, bitter disappointment, dashed dreams and demolished hopes? If I exclude revelation (God’s word) from my life, pain and sorrow will inevitably result.  If, on the other hand, I want what all of us say we want—peace, love, warmth, fulfillment, happiness and hope—making God’s word the focal point of my life will produce these guaranteed results.
     What a pity! Every person on God’s planet is within ready reach of a rewarding, happy life of peace and security.  The solution is as simple as taking God’s word and making it the guide of our lives.  All the psychologists, all the self-help books, all the seminars in the world will not produce for us what we really want if the word of God is absent.  And all the recessions, all the famines, all the disasters in the world cannot destroy our happiness if God’s word is present and active in our lives.

-Keith Robinson, 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:

Overcoming The Aging Process

By Joe Chesser      It seems like it was just last week when school let out for the summer.  And now, here it is, the first week of another school year.  Where has the time gone?  It brings to mind the lyrics of an old song, “... ain’t it funny how time slips away.”
     While it may be funny for some to sing about, others see the swift passing of time as somewhat depressing.  I’m sure that’s why people have tried for many centuries to fight the aging process.  Everything has been tried from searching for the fountain of youth to the invention of miracle wrinkle creams, from hair coloring to hair implants, from exercise & vitamins to plastic surgery.  But deep down we all know that there is nothing we can do about the aging process.  We can try to lengthen our life-span.  We can help our bodies look and feel better longer.  But is there anything we can do to overcome the aging process?  Yes, and no.      Physically speaking, for every generation since Adam and Eve “there is a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2).  It’s simply the way God has designed life on earth.  It’s all a part of the laws God established after Eden.  And while we may manipulate those laws to some extent, the aging process continues to plug along.       This would be very depressing if we were only physical beings.  But we’re not.  We not only have a body, we also have a soul.  And it is this aspect of our existence that gives us hope of overcoming the aging process.  Notice how Paul puts it:
Therefore we do not lose heart.  
Though outwardly we       
are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed      
day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are      
achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them      
all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what      
is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is      
unseen is eternal.                             2 Corinthians 4:16-18
     I don’t know about you, but I kind of like the idea of being renewed day by day.  I like the idea that what I see in a mirror graying and wrinkling is only temporary at best.  I really like the idea that as a Christian, not only am I being renewed spiritually each day, I also have in the future an eternal glory that far exceeds anything this earth can offer, one that overcomes all the troubles and heartaches with which this world so cruelly tries to destroy me.  I don’t care that my hair is turning gray and turning loose.  I don’t care that I can’t stop the aging process because that would only prolong receiving the eternal glory with God that’s awaiting me!

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Because I Want To…

By Luke Bower

George Wald, Harvard graduate, Nobel Prize winner in physics, and devout evolutionist, said: “There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose. Spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God...there is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation was disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others, but that just leaves us with only one other possibility...that life came as a supernatural act of creation by God, but I can’t accept that philosophy because I do not want to believe in God.
Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.”

Sounds kind of crazy, but a lot of people do the same thing with other biblical truths.

In the youth group class we have been studying the book of Genesis. If you have ever read it, it begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Many people do not want to accept this simple truth. They do not want to put anything or anybody above themselves. We need to learn it doesn’t matter what we think and believe—what does matter is what God has said and done.

How many times have you heard someone say they don’t believe God would condemn a particular sin or require a particular thing, even though the Bible says He does? God is God; we are not. It matters what God has said, not what we think. Take a look at your life. Is there anything you are doing or accepting that is against what we know God has told us? If so, restore God to the rightful place in your life as Lord and Creator.

- 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:

Why Jesus Was And Is Rejected

By J. D. Conley

Jesus disappointed many (Mt. 8:34; Mk. 6:3; Lk. 4:28-29, Jn. 1:11).

Why Did The Jews Reject Jesus?

Because He did not meet their expectations. They had their minds made up before He came as to what kind of Messiah He would be. They had the mold ready and when He refused to fit into that mold they were greatly disappointed.

They had read the Old Testament prophesies of a coming king who would sit on David’s throne. They expected an earthly king. Even the disciples had a wrong conception of the kingdom after His resurrection, Acts 1. He made it clear to them He was not a rival to Caesar, even though they wanted that kind of king. They had pre-judged.

They rejected Him because He condemned their materialistic thinking and living. Jesus constantly minimized the material and emphasized the spiritual.

He was rejected by His fellows because He condemned the religious customs and traditions of His day. He was rejected because of his humble origin and simplicity. He was born in Bethlehem meaning, “The house of bread.” Jesus was just too plain, ordinary and humble for the Jews to accept and embrace as the long awaited Messiah.

Why Do Men Reject Him Today?

Because He demands sacrifice. Sacrifice of time, energy and self. Many will not call on the sick or visit the hospital and nursing homes. They won’t make the time to meet with the church when it meets. For some Sunday and Wednesday evening services are out of the question.

Because He expects the sacrifice of money. So many are in such financial debt they feel they cannot give until they get out of debt. When we refuse to give as we have prospered, we reject Christ.

Because He commands clean living. (Titus 2:11-12; Jas. 4:8), we must be pure in mind, (2 Pet. 3:1), in speech (Col. 3:8), in life (1 Tim. 5:22) and in religion (Jas. 1:27). Our Lord calls us to holiness (Mt. 5:48).

As Christians May We Never Become Guilty of Rejecting Jesus!

- 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:

Burke Wrecks Another One

By Bob Dilgard

     When I came to Nashville a “few” years ago to attend Lipscomb, I would often notice signs in front of buildings which read, “Burke Wrecks Another One.” Later when I drove by the same location, I would notice that the building would be missing. Upon inquiry I found that Burke was a demolition company.

    I do not find any fault with the Burke Company . . . their job is a needed function . . . but I think that many Christians should put a similar sign out in front of the church building they attend. Some people spend all their efforts in tearing down the work of the church rather than building it up.

    It doesn’t take much skill to tear down a building . . .  With enough time, I think I could destroy any building. However, I am sure that I could never build a similar building . . . no matter how much time I had! The same is true in the work of the church. It is much easier to tear down the work of others but is much more difficult to build up the works.

    I know of members who can tell you many things their congregation is doing wrong, but when you look for something constructive these members are doing, you will find nothing. No one is perfect (except Christ) so we should expect mistakes from time to time. When we find something that looks wrong to us, it is our responsibility to do something, but to just talk about it and cause division is not the right thing to do.

    Paul tells us that if anyone is in error we should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness (Galations 6:1). Jesus said that we should go to such a one alone first and discuss the practice and if that is not effective, then to go to him with one or two others (Matthew 18:15-17). Until we have done this, we have no authority to “tell it to the church.”

    All division in the church is caused by one (or a combination) of three things, lack of knowledge, misuse of knowledge, or lack of love. If our complaint is from lack of knowledge, discussing it with the person (or persons) involved may give us a better understanding of the Scriptures and change our position, or it may cause the other person to better understand and change his position. Let us never be guilty of misusing the truth, as some do, out of envy, jealousy, worldly ambition, etc. If we have the proper love for Christ, His church and others, we will strive to the best of our ability to maintain unity in carrying out the work of the church in accord with God’s Word.

    Jesus prayed that we “all may be one . . . that the world may believe” (John 17:21). Let us never lose this characteristic of unity that identifies us as Christians to the world. Let us leave the wrecking work for demolition companies, and let us work together in unity in the church.

- 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: