Monday, May 26, 2014

Parenting by Faith

By Wes McAdams

     Parenting, like any other area of our life, should be done by faith.  Meaning, we should listen to God’s instructions, be- lieve and trust that He knows what He is talking about, and follow His instructions to the best of our ability!  When we stray from biblical parenting and start following our own intuition, the opinions of friends, or the advice of experts we are no longer parenting by faith!  Biblical Parenting
     That is kind of a radical concept today!  But when is walking by faith not a radical concept?!  Here are a few principles to parenting by faith:
     1.  Love Your Children!  Every parent claims to have love for his or her children, but many merely have a fond attach- ment.  The difference between love and a fond attachment is laid out in I Corinthians 13.  If you love your children you will be patient and kind, you will not be rude, and you will always seek what is best for your child!  Giving your son what he wants may very well be unloving;  if what he wants is not what is best for him.
     2.  Discipline Your Children!  Often we quote, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”  I’m not sure, that may be Shake- speare, but it is certainly not from the Bible.  What the Bible says about sparing the rod is more serious than, “You’ll spoil your child.”  God said, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24).  If you are not diligent to discipline your child, by God’s definition you hate your child!  Hey, I didn’t say it;  God did!
     That doesn’t necessarily mean that every time a child mis- behaves he needs a spanking.  It simply means that chil- dren need boundaries.  If you are not establishing and en- forcing biblical boundaries for your children start today!  There is no better time to start loving your children than right now!
     3.  Train your children!  On the link to Brad Harrub’s re- cent article someone commented, “Let them make up their own mind.  Stop trying to force beliefs on them.  Wait till they are mature enough to talk rationally about it, rather than young and underdeveloped mentally.”  That sounds pretty consistent with conventional wisdom.  But again, those who follow Christ cannot follow conventional wisdom;  we must parent by faith! 
     The Word of God says, “Fathers, do not provoke your chil- dren to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and in- struction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  God did not specify an age at which you start teaching your children how to be Christians.  Begin immediately praying with them, reading the Bible to them, and talking to them about what God expects and how much He loves them.  Like God commanded the Israelites, be constantly talking to your children about Him and His Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). 
     It is fine to listen to the experts, as long as the experts are in -line with biblical principles.  Whose instructions are you heeding?  Remember, God created your child.  He knows the best way to raise [him or] her! 

- 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 Does The Church Exist?

ByEdd Sterchi

     Why does the Lord’s church exist?  For what purpose did He build and purchase it?  What does Jesus want us as His body to be doing?  A study of the Scriptures will reveal that the church exists to:
* Exalt God.  Eph. 3:21 mentions that God is given glory in the church.  The church exalts God through proper worship and actions that honor Him. Everything what the church does should be to the glory and praise of the One who created it.  The church is to always be offering spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Pet. 2:5).
* Evangelize the world.  In Acts 13-14 (as well as many other places in that book), we see Paul and company preaching the word of God to lost souls.  This was a church sponsored mission (Acts 13:1-3; 14:27) which was in obedience to the Great Commission of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20). The church evangelizes through proper preaching and teaching.  The church is the keeper and proclaimer of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
* Edify the believers.  In Eph. 4:16, we can see that when the body (the church) is joined together, encouragement and edification take place. These are to take place every time the church properly gathers and fellowships.  This helps to keep the church energized which affects so many others (2 Cor. 9:2).
* Equip the Saints.  Eph. 4 also gives us another thing that should take place in the church – equipping the saints for service (v.12).  It is vital that the church be developing it’s members for the most effective use of their talents.  This comes about through proper education, mentoring, and training programs (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2).
* Ease the burdens of the needy.  In 2 Cor. 9:13, Paul commends the church at Corinth for their “liberal sharing with...all men.”  The church should be concerned about helping those in need, both within and without.  The church does this through proper benevolence programs and projects.  This helps to get the name of the church (and her Lord) out in the community (Acts 2:44-47).
     Obviously after studying these, it begs the question: “Why does the church here exist?”  Are we glorifying God in all of our efforts of the above?  Could we do more as a congregation?  Are you helping this church in these areas?  Let’s resolve to do all that God asks us to do – in His name, by His authority, for His glory! - Edd Sterchi

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at

What Do You Expect of God?

By Bill Brandstatter

     A few years ago, I was talking to a Christian about his commitment to God. He said he didn’t go to worship much because God had “touched him.” He stated that he took his granddaughter, but he hadn’t been to worship in three weeks. Church just wasn’t what he expected. So I asked him, just what did he expect?
     What do you expect of God?
     Some expect God to put a stamp of approval on their lifestyle and to accept them without any change on their part. These folks might reason that since God is just and kind, He would accept them as they are. Jesus, however preached, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He also stated, “Except you repent you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) We have to change for God to accept us.
     Some may think very little of God‘s perspective and only think about their own. Remember, God doesn’t think like man does. (Is. 55:8, 9) Man lives in a physical world. Often what man expects in the physical, he also expects in the spiritual. When excitement, entertainment, and pleasure are the way of the physical, some expect that in the spiritual as well. Any church that doesn’t provide those is not what they expect.
     Sometimes man may think God’s ways are unfair. Some said so in the past. (Ezek. 18:25) Those living in a sinful relationship might believe it is unfair that God wants them to separate. Someone else in a dead end marriage can’t believe that God wants them to stay together “till death do you part.” Those who are living a sinful lifestyle might consider it unfair that they must leave that lifestyle in order to get to heaven. (Gal. 5:19-21) Yet, who is it that sets the standard of fairness? Who decides right or wrong? God does.
     Some may expect God to do what man is supposed to do. God cannot save a person who does not want to be saved. God cannot save someone who has not met His requirements. (Matt. 7:21) When the rich man was in torment as recorded in Luke chapter 16, he wanted someone to go to his brothers on earth to warn them. The answer was, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” (Luke 16:29) Those who want to be saved must follow God's laws. Anything else is not acceptable.
     We cannot expect God to strike us with a burst of Bible knowledge. It takes study on the part of man to understand the will of God. The Bereans searched the scriptures to see if the preaching they heard was accurate. (Acts 17:11) We must study God’s Word and handle it correctly. (2 Tim. 2:15) Let us pray that we always strive to do what God expects so that we have a good conscience toward Him. (Acts 24:16; 1 Pet. 3:21) God loves us so much that He puts guidelines, rules, and ways in place to help us get through this life and be in heaven one day with Him. If we follow Him, we will achieve that goal.

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

Turning the Other Cheek

By Travis Quertermous

     On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play Major League Baseball. Although best known as a shortstop, Jackie played first base that day for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Prior to that historic day when baseball's color line was broken, the General Manager of the Dodgers, Mr. Branch Richey, has a heart-to-heart talk with Robinson. He warned him of the abuse and racism he would have to endure. Mr. Rickey wanted to know if Jackie could take it without retaliating. Jackie told him he would think it over and let him know. A couple of days later, Jackie called him back and said he could do it.
     And he did! The abuse from fans, other players, even from some of his own teammates at first, was even worse than Mr. Rickey had warned him about. But through it all, Jackie Robinson never retaliated and eventually won most of them over with his great play on the field and even greater character off it.
     Jackie Robinson is a great example of what Jesus Christ meant when He said, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also" (Matt. 5:38-39). To turn the other cheek, not retaliating or responding in kind, takes tremendous patience and self-control. But if more of us did so, what a more peaceful world we would live in!

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the Church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Words, Defeat, Victory

By Ron Thomas

    Communication is both a wonderful things and an occasion for much heartache. Jesus, the very logos (word) of God knew well how to communicate in all areas of life. There was never a time, in my view, wherein He did communicate exactly the Father’s will and in the perfect way demanded by the occasion. That does not mean, however, that His words were always understood as He intended them.
    On one occasion, a woman from outside the area of Israel came appealing to Jesus for her daughter, asking Him to heal her. Jesus replied to her that it was proper for the children to get the food, not the little dogs (Mark 7:24-30). Those who read the New Testament might wonder if Jesus was ascribing to her some inferior status, like many of the Jew did as they considered those outside Israel to be dogs (“Jews used the word for Gentiles who were considered to be ceremonially impure” p. 150, note in The Majority Text Greek New Testament Interlinear).
    How easy it would have been for this woman on that particular occasion to take exception to Jesus because the implication of the words can’t be missed by any who hear them! It might be an easy response, but the woman appealing to Jesus took the words much differently. Rather than finding fault, she clearly understood the figurative significance of the words and “[s]he turned the word of seeming approach, house dogs, into a reason for optimism, thereby transforming and impending defeat into a brilliant victory” (Hendriksen, p. 299).
    We can be defeated by the words of another, whether one intends to defeat us with those words or not, or we can take the words used and turn them into an opportunity to teach and bring glory to the Lord. Taking advantage like this brings victory. 

- Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Potholes Of Safety

By Tom Moore

   Since The Portuguese withdrew from Angola , many years ago, the country’s roads, bridges and transportation systems have fallen into disrepair while the country engaged in civil war.  Trucks sit beside the roads, lacking the replacement parts that would enable them to run.  Bridges have collapsed and the roads are full of potholes.  On a trip to Angola , a representative from a benevolent organization was being driven through the impoverished, war-torn country to assess the needs, when he noticed that his driver made no attempt to avoid the deep potholes and ruts characteristic of that nation’s highways.  In fact, the driver seemed to be avoiding those places where some repair work had been carried out—those few holes that had been filled in.  Curious, he asked his driver why he avoided those few relatively smooth patches of road.  “Because,” came his reply, “that’s where the land mines are.”
   Friends, we need to be careful, for the smooth and easy way is not always the best way—there can be hidden troubles.  The easy way, spiritually speaking, leads to destruction.  Our Lord said, “Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).  Avoiding the potholes of life may not always be the safest route.

- 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:

Renew Your Mind

By Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

     As we seek to educate our children in biblical matters, we need to be aware of tactics used by the enemy. For instance, one popular method used to plant seeds of doubt is Web sites that proclaim hundreds of errors or contradictions in the Bible. Consider the difference in a teen’s spiritual foundation if he or she is taught beforehand that atheists will do their best to point out alleged contradictions—versus a young person stumbling across a Web site of alleged contradictions, without any preparation.
     One of the favorite alleged contradictions that Web sites like to use is the death of Judas. In Matthew 27:5 we find: “He [Judas] threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). But what about Acts 1:18 that reads, “Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out” (Acts 1:18). So which was it? Did Judas hang himself, or did he fall headlong and burst in the middle? Atheists point at these two different scenarios and boldly proclaim that the Bible is not inspired. However, a closer look reveals that both instances could (and did) occur.
     When the body dies, bacteria that are normally kept in check inside the body begin to immediately multiply and produce gases which cause the body to swell up. [Today we don’t worry about this much thanks to preparations made at funeral homes.] When Judas hung himself, his body experienced this same phenomena, with bacteria producing gases as his body was suspended in the Sun. While we are not told how he was brought down, two very good possibilities exist: (1) either he was cut down prior to the observance of special religious days (e.g., Sabbath); or (2) the rope he used eventually broke due to the weight. In either case we can see how his body would fall—headfirst, since the torso is heavier than the legs—and then the bloated body burst open to reveal his entrails. Did Judas hang himself? Yes. Did his body burst after hitting the ground? Definitely. Are these contradictory, leaving the Bible in question? Absolutely not! Rather than focusing on this alleged contradiction, skeptics would do better to realize the result of a man who walked with Jesus Christ and eventually sold out, giving in to temptation. [Brad Harrub is an apologist who works full-time with Focus Press—]

- via The Contender, the weekly bulletin published by the Walnut Grove Church of Christ in Benton, KY.  Kevin Williams preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the church's website:

A Penitent Heart Is

By R.W. McAlister

     Repentance is a change of mind or will that is produced by godly sorrow and results in change of one’s conduct. It involves turning from a sinful way of life and turning to God in the way He has prescribed, with our motivation being to live a righteous life pleasing to God. This determination comes from genuine sorrow because the sinner knows he has displeased God.
     This desire involves making restitution as far as possible. The most needed characteristic of man is a penitent heart as demonstrated by David (Psalm 51) and the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). Without a penitent heart, one will not please God or go to heaven.
     A penitent heart examines self. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves...” (II Cor. 13:5). The Prodigal Son examined himself in the hog pen. How long has it been since you’ve searched your heart and asked: Am I right with God? Is there sin in my life that I need to repent of?
     A penitent confesses wrongs. The Prodigal Son confessed to his father, “I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:21). The penitent heart compels one to daily confess sin to the Father in heaven and desire forgiveness. One who does not confess his sin lacks a penitent heart.
     A penitent heart is humble. If a person commits sin, he or she ought to humbly say as did the prodigal son, “make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:19). Too often, people are proud of the sin in their life. They joke and laugh about it, but a penitent heart demonstrates an attitude of humility.
     A penitent heart forsakes. It’s a heart that forsakes sin. One may fall in sin but a penitent heart will not allow him to stay in sin. If one is reluctant to quit some sin, he doesn’t have a penitent heart.
     A penitent heart is broken because of sin. It’s a heart that will not allow one who has committed sin to rest until that sin is forgiven. Before Saul of Tarsus was baptized, “...he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (Acts 9:9). One who is indifferent toward sin in his life does not have a penitent heart.
     A penitent heart rights wrongs. It compels one to correct wrongdoing as soon as possible and to whatever extent possible. Too many don’t want to do what is necessary to correct their sin. They don’t have a penitent heart.
     God not only demands, but lovingly desires that all come to Him in repentance. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). Our God is a God of love who wants to see every sinner saved. “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4).
     If you have sin in your life, will you choose to repent of it and do everything in your power to commit that sin no more? Give it some serious thought, as your eternal destination is at stake.

- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, May 12, 2014

God Hearing Your Prayers

By Ron Thomas

Why does not the Lord hear my prayer, answering it? Have you ever asked yourself this question? It is likely you have; it is a question that many of us have asked. Perhaps the answer lies within the words of Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” The psalmist spoke these words, not because he was guilty of them, but as a reminder to himself and others about how true they really are. The idea of “regarding iniquity” in the heart corresponds to “harboring” (NET), “ignoring my sins” (GNB), or “cherished iniquity” (ESV). Next time, then, that you ask yourself concerning the hearing and answering of your prayer, be mindful of these words and take inventory with regard to your relationship to the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5).

- Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:


By Charlie Gamble
Colossians 1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

     In the above verse Paul states that, as head of the church, Jesus is to have the preeminence. What does that mean? According to one dictionary: “Superiority above all others; outstanding”. Is this the case in your congregation or does something (or someone) else occupy this position? Do you hear the words spoken by Jesus or the writings of a denominational teacher? Is there a creed or catechism that sets aside clear Bible teaching for the thoughts of men? Has entertainment taken the preeminence over scriptural worship?
     In many ways men have trampled the Lord’s preeminence underfoot. I pray that you will lift Him up every day.  "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." Revelation 4:11

- Charlie Gamble preaches for the Brunswick Church of Christ in Southport, NC. He may be contacted at

Conservation of Spiritual Resources

By Don Campbell

     We, our fathers, our father’s fathers, and their fathers have followed the belief that the blessings of God in nature are inexhaustible.  As a result, we have wasted, destroyed, and polluted many of God’s blessings.
     Conservation has been defined as “The fullest possible use of resources without abusing the ones exploited, without destroying any needlessly, and without neglecting any that can be used” (Conserving American Resources, Parsons, p.3).  The term fullest possible use separates conservation from preservation.  Some resources are non-renewable and must be either preserved or lost forever; but that is a different discussion.
     Is there a lesson for the body of Christ as to how we should allocate and use resources?  Every program in the church should be a conservation measure—an attempt to make the fullest possible use of every available resource.   Our renewable resources include: elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, and every other member, as well as buildings, equipment, and money.  Time, talent, and opportunity are non-renewable resources, which if neglected are lost.  No program is sacred.  If it does not yield the greatest possible return for our expenditure of money, time, and talent, then it should be scrapped or revised.
     At one time Sunday schools were innovations as were vacation Bible schools, Wednesday night services—even Sunday night services.  These innovations were embraced as a means of reaching more souls and serving more souls.  Are they still serving their purpose or have they become unproductive, unnecessary burdens—burdens that we refuse to lift, because “We’ve always done it”?  Are there innovations that might be more productive in our current society, innovations that are blocked by the companion platitude “We’ve never done it that way before”?  I certainly am not advocating innovation for innovation’s sake, much less innovations that compromise truth.  Dan Saffer wrote concerning the “deification” of innovation:
     It's not hard to see where this deification may lead: innovation for innovation's sake. For proof, simply walk down the aisles of any supermarket and take note of all the "New and Improved!" labels. What it gets us, in other words, is purple ketchup and Crystal Pepsi—products that no one needs and few actually desire (“The Cult of Innovation,” BloombergBusinessweek. 2007).
    Perhaps the best way for me to get off this thin ice onto which I have skated is to asked some pointed questions, rather than point the finger at any program.
    Was the program implemented to meet a need that no longer exists?
    Has the program become a burden to be borne by the strong, rather than a program to lift the burdens of the weak?
     If there is still a need, is the program meeting that need in a way that best utilizes all resources?
    With what can the program replaced that will meet the needs of the body and effectively use the resources of the body?
    If a program is dropped, what will be the immediate consequences, the intermediate consequences, the long term consequences, and the unintended consequences?
     You may think about these questions and risk a headache, or you can just ignore the whole thing as coming from a preacher with nothing better to write about than things nobody cares about anyway.  Hmm…I wonder if that’s the real problem.

- Don Campbell preaches for the Puryear Church of Christ in Puryear, TN. He may be contacted via the congregation's website:

Called For A Purpose

By Ron Bartanen
     “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
     Many live their lives in hopeless frustration.  Life for such seems to be without purpose and hope. One’s days become filled with futility and the sense of meaninglessness in life.  As Paul penned the above scripture to the Roman Christians, he is assuring them of God’s hand in their lives as they, with him, were sharing in “the sufferings of this present time” (v. 18).  He is assuring them that in spite of the grossly unpleasant circumstances that may encompass their lives, they were not forsaken of God. In fact, he assures them that as they continue to love God He is able to use “all things,” including their sufferings, for their good, namely, the fulfilling of God’s purpose in their lives.
     God’s call to any individual is not without purpose for that person.  When God called Moses to service, it was for the deliverance of God’s people, Israel, from their bondage in Egypt.    When God called Israel’s prophets, it was that they be God’s inspired spokesman, calling His people to repentance.  When Jesus first called His disciples, saying, “follow me,” He gave them the vision of becoming “fishers of men” as they sought souls for Jesus’ kingdom (Matthew 4:19). 
     While today the call of Jesus may not appear as spectacular and personal as these examples, it is just as real.  That call was spoken of by Paul in writing the church in Thessalonica, “”He called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14).  Jesus’ plea, “follow me” is an invitation through the gospel message of the crucified and risen Savior, and Paul declares its purpose is that we share in Christ’s glory.  It is as Paul reminded Timothy concerning Christ “Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace…” (2 Tim. 1:9). 
     Wherever the gospel of Christ is proclaimed, and men and women respond with commitment of faith, you will find Christians, members of the Lord’s body, the church—a people with a purpose.  Those who answer to His call find significant changes taking place in heart and life.  Sin no longer reigns as the master of one’s life, for Jesus has been enthroned.  From the waters of baptism one rises to walk in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4), freed from sin, and, now, “servants of righteousness” (v. 17).  Life, for such, now takes on purpose and hope.

- 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:

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Fortune of Family

By Edd Sterchi

     One of the most valuable things that God has given us is the concept of the family.  Think about it – before God brought forth the societal governmental system, He gave the family.  Before God established His church on the earth, He consecrated the family.
     After creating the heavens and the earth, God placed a family there (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:21-25).  After God cleansed the earth through the global flood, He began anew with a family (Gen. 6:17-18.).  It is through a family that God gave His promise of a Savior and through whom all families on earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-5).
     The family as God would have it is the moral structure of any successful society.  The family is the golden thread that binds a particular group of people to their past, present, and future.  The family is where hurts are best healed, victories are best shared, and forgiveness is easiest displayed.  The family is the place where love is most at home.  Without a doubt, God knew what He was doing when He created the family.
     When Paul through inspiration wanted to show Christ’s love for the church and her relationship to Him, he did in family type language (Eph. 5:22-33). And after that, Paul naturally transitioned into a discussion of parents and children and their responsibilities to one another as a family (Eph. 6:1-4).
     After looking at all of this Biblical information, we can only come to one conclusion: family is important.  Why else would God have connected such vital aspects of His will to the family?  Because the family (following the will of God) is the core unit of success and happiness.
     Knowing this, it behooves each of us to make our family relationships the best that they can be.  We each need to do our part to make our families better and stronger.  Only good things will come from this effort.
     One last thing – regardless of our earthly family situation, we can be a part of the best family on earth, which is the church.  Members of the church are “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19), and are a part of “the whole family in heaven and earth” (Eph. 3:14-15).  Are you a part of God’s family?

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at

Does the Church Need Screen Doors?

By Jim Faughn

     Most of us are used to a somewhat climate-controlled environment.  When the temperature gets a little too warm or too cool for us, we simply adjust a thermostat.  
     That wasn’t my experience when I was growing up.  We had one stove in our house.  It was not all that close to my bedroom.  I can remember getting very cold in my bed-room on some of those winter nights. 
     I can also remember those hot summer nights when our one window fan did not exactly “do the trick.”  Some of my friends had air conditioning, but we did not.  I remember wishing that we did.
     At the same time, I also remember something about those hot summers that might be advantageous for the church today.
     I remember screen doors.  
     It was difficult to go in or out of our house without somebody knowing about it.  Screen doors had those springs on them.  It didn’t take me long to find out that I could just turn loose of the door and it would close all by itself.  As I remember it, my parents were not as thrilled with that discovery as I was. On those somewhat rare occasions when I did manage to not let the door slam shut behind me and make a noise, the distinctive sound of the spring itself would announce my entrance or departure.  
     Now, when our grandchildren are at our house, people can often go in and out of our house without anybody knowing.  That is due in part to the fact that some of them have never learned the fine art of closing a door behind them, so there is no sound to announce their entrance or their departure.
     Not only can people go in and out unannounced, but some of the “climate control” on the inside finds its way outside.  Also, some of the outside elements (and maybe a varmint or two) find their way inside.  
     It might be helpful if we had screen doors on our house.  We would at least know who was in and who was out.   
     It occurs to me that it might be helpful to have screen doors on the church.  I’m not talking about the church building, but the church itself.
     In far too many cases, we may “leave the door ajar.”  Because of that, it is difficult to know who is in and who is out.  People “drift in” with little fanfare and “drift out” without anybody noticing.
     According to Revelation 22:14-15, the Lord has no trouble distinguishing between those “…who may enter the city by the gates…” and those who are “outside.”  While our level of discernment can in no way compare with His, it seems to me that many of us could increase our interest in, and concern for, each other.  
     Wouldn’t it be encouraging to know that others care whether or not I am enjoying the fellowship of other Christians or am “out there somewhere” where my soul is in danger.  Does anybody know and does anybody care whether or not I “…have the right to the tree of life…” (Rev. 22:14)?
     Would it help if we had screen doors on the church? 

- 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:

Taking God’s Power for Granted

By Joe Chesser

     Our electricity quit working one morning this past week.  It wasn’t off long, but long enough to remind me of how I take such a convenience for granted.  When I got up that morning the lights didn’t work, the furnace didn’t work (and it was about 10 degrees outside), the coffee pot didn’t work, the microwave didn’t work, etc. These things are always available. Thankfully we have a gas fireplace in the basement that doesn’t require electricity. And thankfully we have water even when the power is off.  So it wasn’t like we were desperate or anything like that.  The power came back on after a couple hours and everything went back to normal.
     But it was a gentle reminder of just how much we take things like electricity for granted.  We get so accustomed to having electricity power our microwaves and water heaters and coffee pots that when it isn’t available, even for a couple of hours, we have panic attacks!  Yeah, our electric bills seem to be much higher this year, but what would we do without electricity?! How thankful we should be for those who risk their lives repairing dangerous electrical lines in all kinds of weather so we can dry our hair and toast our bread and warm our houses – and, of course, watch TV.  We certainly take these blessings for granted.
     Being without electrical power for a couple of hours also reminded me of how much I take God’s power for granted.  Just imagine for a moment of how much our lives would be affected if all of a sudden God’s power was no longer available …
            … the laws of nature would no longer be sustained (Heb. 1:3) – tides wouldn’t be controlled, the earth’s rotation wouldn’t be sustained, seeds wouldn’t sprout, gravity wouldn’t be consistent, ice wouldn’t melt, the seasons wouldn’t change, etc.
            … the power to change people’s hearts would no longer be there (Gal. 2:20) – without the transforming power of God and His Spirit we could never learn to live on a higher level, to know love and peace that defies explanation (Eph. 3:19, Phil. 4:6-7), to be growing within while decaying without (2 Cor. 4:16), to be merciful (Luke 6:36), to be forgiving (Eph. 4;32), to rise above common human traits (Luke 6:32-35), to access the Spirit’s power, love and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7), to become like God (1 John 4:16-17).
            … the power to daily battle sin and Satan would not be available (Rom. 8:1-2) – there would be no power to resist temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), no power to be saved from sin (Rom. 1:16), no power of the resurrection of Christ to sustain new life (Phil. 3:10), no divine power to defeat evil strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4).  In short, we would be without hope, without promise and without God in this world (Eph. 2:12).
     But, as we all know (yet sometimes take for granted) God never has a power outage, no black out or brown out, no temporary disruption of His awesome power in any way. The next time your electricity even flutters, let it remind you to never take God’s power for granted.  When you turn on your microwave, let it remind you of God’s constant power!

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