Monday, June 30, 2014


By Bill Brandstatte

    My wife and I enjoy watching a television program where a young lady restores old houses. She says she restores them “to their former glory.”  We today need to restore the church to its former glory. When the Lord comes back He wants the church to be glorious. (Eph. 5:27)  Paul wrote, “To Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:21)  What about the church today?  Does it look like what it did in the glorious days of the New Testament?  Let us consider some ways to restore the church to its former glory. 
    We need to get back to the name and identity of the church as the New Testament records. There are thousands of churches across our great land. These all have a variety of names, and have different teachings and ways of worship.  The early church bore the name of Christ. It was glorious because, He was its head.  All that was done was to glorify Him. In Eph. 1:22, 23, Paul declares that Jesus is the head of the body, His church. Then in Eph. 4:4, 5 Paul states there is one body.  Paul wrote that there should be no divisions. (1 Cor. 1:10) He taught and ordained the same thing in every church he visited. (1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor. 7:17) 
    Does this kind of unity exist today? Does the name the church wears really make a difference? In New Testament times the name pointed to God and Christ.  Often it was identified by location. 
    For example, Paul wrote to the “church of God which is at Corinth”. (1 Cor. 1:2). Paul mentions in Rom. 16:16; “The churches of Christ salute you.” The early church never wore the name of a man (Jn. 20:28). We see an amazing unity in passages that identify the church with God and Christ. 
    In Acts 20:28, the church is referred to as the “church of God”.  This passage also tells us that the church was purchased with the blood of Jesus. When He died, the church got its start.  Jesus was God before He was in the manger.  (Jn. 1:1)  He was also God when He came.  (Matt. 1:23)  He stated in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.” Thomas confessed Jesus as, “My Lord, and My God”.  (Jn. 20:28)  We see an amazing unity in passages that identify the church with God and Christ. The Lord wants His church to be glorious. Let’s do all we can to make it that way. 

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


By Edd Sterchi

“Father, Give me a heart that is true to You...
 ...a heart that will bring my body to VBS every night.
...a heart that will put a smile on my face as I walk through the doorways.
...a heart that will help vibrate my vocal chords in song to You.
...a heart that will not let me be at peace until my mouth invites someone to come with me.
...a heart that will encourage my hands to be patting encouragement on others’ backs.
...a heart that will prompt my feet to be busy helping and doing whatever is needed.
...a heart that will open my ears to hear and heed the wonderful lessons that will be presented.
...a heart that will cause my eyes to be ever vigilant—for that one special opportunity.
...a heart that will motivate my knees to bend in prayer often.
...a heart that will remind me to ever be “beating” for Jesus.  with my heart I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen” 

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

See the Man Praying

By Bill Williams

 … But God
           In stories that are told, whether by books, movies, etc., a common thread of the storyline is: introduction of characters, developing the personalities of the characters, a problem arises, the situation degrades, a solution comes at great cost and a resolution of some sort is made known.
           This is a picture of our life and our hope. When we begin to relate with the characters, we associate their troubles with our own. We want them to succeed and have a “happy ending” because that is our hope.
           The Bible tells the story of God and His dealings with humanity. God creates perfection. Man, given a choice, chooses the evil (which is the exact story repeated over and over again in all of our lives). Then, God promises a solution and begins to work throughout history presenting the solution. This solution comes in the form of His Son, Jesus. The effects of this Solution reaches down through history promising a resolution. Paul phrases the story like this: “ And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-7).”
           We chose death. We choose death. We choose our own way and that is the problem. This problem only gets worse.  We work according to the Devil’s will and our lust. We become, even though we might not acknowledge it, children of wrath.
           At this point, the most beautiful two words arise. But God. We failed, but God… God, in His love, with His mercy, from the overflowing richness of who He is, gave us a solution. Jesus Christ. He made us alive in Him. He also gave us a hope for the ages to come. God’s kindness did this for us.
           When you are distressed, when you are lost, when you feel alone, remember: the world has abused you, your choices led you astray, But God gives life and hope.

- Bill Williams preaches for the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:


     One bleak day in February, 1822, a young theological student sat in his room at Andover Seminary.  Samuel Francis Smith was going over a sheaf of German songs for children, given him by a friend, the composer Lowell Mason.  Sunset shadows crept into the room and Smith was tired from a strenuous day of study.  He was relieved to spend a few relaxed moments going over his friend’s music.  As he hummed over one after another, one struck his fancy.  He glanced at the words at the bottom of the page, and his knowledge of German told him that the words were patriotic, but they did not appeal to him.  He decided to write his own words.  He searched around on his desk until he found a scrap of paper about 5 or 6 inches long and two and one half inches wide.  On this, as he tapped out the rhythm of the music, he began to write:

“My country, ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring!

-Selected; 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:


I am the flag of the United states of America.  I was born on June 14, 1777 in Philadelphia.  There the Continental Congress adopted my stars and stripes as the national flag.

My thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, with a union of thirteen white stars on a field of blue represented a new constellation, a new nation dedicated to the personal and religious liberty of mankind.  Today fifty stars signal from my union—one for each of the fifty sovereign states in the greatest constitutional republic the world has ever known.

My colors symbolize the patriotic ideals and spiritual qualities of the citizens of my country.

My red stripes proclaim the fearless courage and integrity of American men and women and the self-sacrifice and devotion of American fathers and mothers.

My white stripes stand for liberty and equality for all.

My blue is the blue of heaven, loyalty, and faith.

I am the flag.  I symbolize all that is uplifting and good about our country.

-Selected and edited; 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 New Name

By Alan Smith

    Someone has come up with the following list of words which don't exist, but should:
AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks' trus) adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.
CARPERPETUATION (kar' pur pet u a shun) n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.
DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt') v. To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow 'remove' all the germs.
LACTOMANGULATION (lak' to man gyu lay' shun) n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the 'illegal' side.
PEPPIER (pehp ee ay') n. The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.
PHONESIA (fo nee' zhuh) n. The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.
PUPKUS (pup' kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.
TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay' shun) n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.
    Some of those words could possibly be useful, but there is another word which doesn't yet exist that I'm even more excited about.  Jesus wrote to the church in Pergamos (one of the seven churches of Asia Minor):
    "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." (Rev. 2:17)
    What will that new name be?  We can only speculate.  All I know is that it is a word reserved for God's children who faithfully persevere the trials that this life has to offer.  Eternal fellowship with God and His family, the tree of life, worship with the redeemed of all ages, AND a new name to go with your new life!  What more could we ask?  What more could we want?  There are wonderful things that lie ahead for God's children.  Keep that in mind the next time you are struggling to get through the difficulties that this life has brought your way.
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at


By Clifton Angel

    According to Joseph Stowell, “The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit” (Fan the Flame, 32). Such an accomplishment would require more time, greater tact, and different talent. This runner would have to have endurance. Christians also are running a race of endurance (Hebrews 12:1–2). 
    Paul tells us via his letter to the Corinthian church that love “endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). The word Paul used to speak of the endurance of godly love is the same word used to describe Jesus’ endurance of the cross (Hebrews 12:2) and the Christian’s endurance in the faithful race (Hebrews 12:1). Therefore, we may conclude that a person who loves like Christ (which is this love of which we speak) can endure like Christ. No matter the persecution, the tribulation, the temptation, or the situation, we can endure it if we have this kind of love. When the one you thought was a friend does something unfriendly, endure. When the love of your life ruins your night, endure. When your co-workers don’t work and rather complain, endure. When the nation crashes down town by town, endure. When your faith brings strife and even requires your life, endure. That’s love. I will conclude with words shared by a friend:

Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength.
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul.
Pressed in the mind until the dark surges roll.
Pressed by foes and pressed by friends,
Pressure upon pressure till life nearly ends.
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings.
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord.
Pressed until a Christ-like life is outpoured.     (shared by Stephen Sutton)

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fork in the Road

By Ron Adams

    Which way to go? The decision one makes is based, not on which way is easier or well traveled, but where it will take you.
    Likewise, we often come to forks on Life’s Road where we must make a decision. Some choices may only have a minimal or temporary impact on our journey. Other choices may have major and long-lasting consequences. 

Major ‘Forks’ on Life’s Road 
Choices with Eternal Consequences 
God: Fear or ignore. 
Jesus: Believe or disbelieve. 
Disciple: Follow or go your own way. 
Wisdom: Rely on heavenly or worldly. 
Friends: Godly or worldly. 
Lifestyle: Popular or righteous. 
    We make our own decisions. And we must live with where they take us.
    "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” Matthew 7:13
    A Sobering Thought: "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" 1 Peter 4:17

- F.Y.C. is a monthly publication by Ron Adams. Bible references are from the NASB except where another translation is referenced. Back issues are archived at Be thoughtful and kind. All rights reserved. © 2014

Dance of Death

By Michael Hatcher

     In Carl Wilson’s book, "Our Dance Has Turned to Death,” he identified the common pattern of family decline in the ancient Greek and Roman empires.  Notice how it parallels what is happening in our nation today:
     In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship.  Spiritual and moral development became secondary.  Their view of God became naturalistic, methodical, and mechanical.  In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power and cultural development.  Material values began to dominate thought, and man began to exalt his own role as an individual.  The third stage involved a change in men’s sexual values.  Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality.  Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed.  The fourth stage affected women.  The role of women at home and with children lost value and status.  Women were neglected and their roles devalued.  Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage.  Women also began to minimize sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure.  Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy.  In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home-leadership and the affection of their children.  This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children.  Many marriages ended in separation and divorce.  Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined.  The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was to not have children.  The breakdown of the home produced anarchy.  The In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties.  The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict.  The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies.  Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government.
     Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart.  There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.

- Michael Hatcher, 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:

Love Hopes All Things

By Clifton Angel

    Someone we know has been in jail multiple times, and we say, “They’ll never straighten up.” Someone we know has a poor work ethic, and we say, “They’ll never learn the importance of work.” Someone we know keeps going back to the bottle, and we say, “They’ll never stop drinking.” Someone we know has been through an unscriptural divorce, remarried, and claims it is God’s will, and we say, “They’ll never repent.” If ever we have said things like this in situations like this, we have exhibited the exact opposite of love.
    You see, love “hopeth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Biblical hope requires desire and expectation. Godly love requires that we hope even when evidence points to hopelessness. It does not mean that we are gullible; it does not mean that we are ignorant; it does not mean that we are unwise. It means we love God, we love like God, and we therefore hope for the best in every situation and concerning every person.
    If you study the etymology (“facts of the origin and development of a word;” of the word “hope,” some have suggested it is connected with the word “hop.” Their conclusion is that hoping involves actions, not just acknowledgements. Because we have desire and expectation, we hop to the opportunity at hand. If we have the love of God, which “hopeth all things,” we don’t just say, “I hope that criminal cousin of mine will straighten up;” rather, we go to him and sincerely seek to help him and show him what he means to God. If we have this kind of love, we don’t just say, “I hope that lazy friend of mine gets a job;” rather, we learn to approach them with kindness and help them to see the error of their ways. If we have this kind of love, we don’t just say, “I hope my alcoholic co-worker will stop drinking;” rather, we go to them when they are sober, show them our concern, and help them to see the futility of their actions. If we have this kind of love, we don’t just say “I hope my sister will learn the truth about marriage, divorce, and remarriage and repent;” rather, we kindly seek to teach her about God’s authority revealed in His Word and the powerful teachings of Jesus, like those found in Matthew 19. Love hopes all things.
    The story is told of a special needs teacher sent to teach children confined to hospital beds. To one little boy, she was sent to teach nouns and adverbs; however, she was not told that he was severely burned from head to toe. She left that session feeling as though she accomplished nothing. The next day, a nurse approached the teacher in extreme curiosity as to what she had done to the boy. The nurse said, “He was going downhill fast, but after your session with him, he has begun to improve and respond to treatments like never before.” Two weeks later, the boy had improved enough to communicate, and he explained that he had lost all hope until the teacher came to him. He explained it this way, “You don’t teach nouns and adverbs to a dying boy, do you?”
    Love hopes all things. How is your love measuring up? Let’s grow in love.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Be Audacious!

By Matt Olguin

       Be audacious.  Wondering what I mean by that?  I know personally I’ve only heard the word as “so and so had the audacity”, and it is usually said with a negative connotation.  To be audacious means to be “extremely bold or daring;  recklessly brave or unrestrained”. So how do you get a good connotation?  By having a good reason to be audacious, and I can't think of a better reason than being a Christian.
         In Acts 16:16-40 we have the incredible account of Paul and Silas being arrested for their faith, beaten, then thrown into prison only to take the situation as one to praise God and eventually lead their very own jailer to being saved.  Now that’s bold.  But Paul wasn’t just bold.  He was audacious. In vs. 36 when they were released, Paul was outraged that it was being done secretly while their punishment was so public.  He demanded that the magistrate that wronged him come and publicly apologize and escort himself and Silas out of the prison. 
       I could just picture Christians still young in their faith saying, “Paul are you crazy!!! Get out of here while you have a chance.”  So why did Paul take that extra step?  Personally, I think he wanted to make sure everyone knew that being a Christian was no crime.  He used his Roman citizenship to his advantage and took that next step past bold for Christ’s sake.  It put him face to face with people bigger than himself.  Face to face with a challenge to his faith, and guess what?  He didn’t blink, they did.  He was extremely daring in the name of the Lord.  Now that is audacious. 

- Matt Olguin serves as youth minister for the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Love Believes All Things

By Clifton Angel

    “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Will we ever dare to say that God’s accomplishments through Jesus Christ were in vain? Will we ever say that God wasted His time in sending His dear Son? May it never be! For, if we do, we are claiming to be more knowledgeable and more wise than our all-knowing and all-wise God. Such is simply not the case. However, when we lose faith in mankind, when we dismiss someone from hearing the gospel because we think they’re too much of a sinner, when we fail to give someone the benefit of the doubt, and when we negatively surmise about what we think someone has done, our actions proclaim that God’s work through Jesus was useless. 
    Why? Love “believeth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). It means that we have faith in mankind. It means we have faith in the soul-saving gospel. It means we give others the benefit of the doubt. If we are not careful, we can worry, surmise, doubt, and backbite until we believe someone has something they have not and of which we have no evidence. That’s not love. Love believes all things.
    On one occasion, a home improvement store employee spent a good amount of time arranging for them to install carpet in my home. For various reasons, like money and timing, I decided to hire a different company. When I revisited the same employee to inform him of my change of mind, I approached him with this statement, “You’re going to hate me for this.” He immediately replied, “No, I’m not.” While this is a very mild case of surmising, it is just that. I had made up my mind what he was going to think of me without evidence of such. If we are not careful, this same doubtful and negative mindset can enter into many other relationships we have with others, and we can lose faith in others and lose our own faith as a result.
    Love “believes all things.” It’s not easy, but it’s right. Let’s grow in love!

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Donkeys and Wives

By Alan Smith

    In honor of Valentine's Day, I share with you the following message:
    In April 2006, the Reuters news organization reported that a textbook used at schools in the Indian state of Rajasthan compared housewives to donkeys, and suggested that the animals make better companions as they complain less and are more loyal to their "masters."
    The Hindi-language primer meant for 14-year-olds said, "A donkey is like a housewife ... In fact, the donkey is a shade better, for while the housewife may sometimes complain and walk off to her parents' home, you'll never catch the donkey being disloyal to his master," says
    OK, let me get this straight.  Apparently, Adam made a mistake in the garden of Eden.  When God brought all of the animals for him to name, we're told that Adam "found no helper who was right for him." (Gen. 2:20, GOD'S WORD).  How in the world could he have overlooked the donkey?  When Adam saw that animal, why did he not say, "THAT'S what I want as a companion!  That's what I want to spend my life with -- I want to talk to, laugh with, walk on the beach at sunrise with, share candlelit meals with, and dance in the rain with a donkey!"?  So, because of Adam's incompetence, God was forced to create a woman.  And now, we come to find out that it all could have been avoided if only Adam had read this textbook in New Delhi!
    I do hope you realize the above paragraph was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  I'm not ready for a moment to trade my wife of 36 years in on a donkey (though there might be times in our marriage when she felt like SHE was married to one!).  I'm thankful that God in His infinite wisdom knew what he was doing when he created Eve.  I'm thankful for the PERFECT companion -- physically, emotionally, intellectually, recreationally.
    I encourage those of you who are husbands to offer a special prayer of thanks this day for the wife God has given you.  And, to use the words of Solomon:
    "May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth." (Proverbs 5:18)
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ripped Apart at Church

By Joe Chesser

            When was the last time, if ever, have you been ripped apart at church?  I don’t mean when some insensitive and ungodly person at church says some abusive or hurtful words to you.  I don’t mean a time when the church leaders announced some plans or decisions that shocked you to the core.  What I mean is when was the last time your world has been totally destroyed or turned upside down by the preaching or teaching of the word of God?  When was the last time you were so convicted by the word of God that you were compelled to make some life changes that rocked your world?
            Most of us don’t go to church to be ripped apart.  Most of us go to church to be encouraged and uplifted.  Most of us go to the church we do because we like it there, we enjoy being with the people; we enjoy the sermons and the classes and the style of music.  Most of us like the way we feel when we leave to go home.  If we didn’t, we’d most likely start looking for a church we did enjoy.
            Now, before you jump to the wrong conclusions, I do believe it is important to enjoy being with the church you attend.  It’s great to enjoy the people, the preaching, and the singing. It’s great to enjoy being involved in the work of the church. As David, who had a heart like God, said, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1).  We are supposed to be a joyful people (Phil. 4:4, Gal. 5:22) and to love each other (Phil. 2:1-4). It’s wonderful to have good relationships with church people.
            However, Satan is coaxing us to be a consumer driven church.  He has convinced many of us that if I don’t enjoy church then something must be wrong with the church. It’s not meeting my needs and expectations, and if they don’t change, I will!  Church should be all about pleasing me, about what I want.
            Hold on.  That’s not what the Bible teaches, is it?  The Bible teaches that the church is made up of people who have had their hearts ripped apart by the word of God. In fact, that’s exactly how the church began.  People were happy where they were doing their own thing.  But Peter stood up before them and ripped their hearts apart by preaching the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection (Acts 2).  The church began with people who were convicted of their sin, and the church grew as more and more people were convicted of their sins by the preaching of the gospel.  The church in the New Testament was not about music styles and eloquent preachers and feel-good fellowships.  It was about people whose lives were filled with sin being heart-broken and yielding to the grace of God through the preaching of the cross (1 Cor. 1:10-2:5).  After obeying the gospel they went on with their lives rejoicing (Acts 8:39) and taking the heart-breaking, soul-saving gospel with them wherever they went (Acts 8:4).  It’s important to enjoy being with people who have experienced the same victory over sin as you have, and to enjoy worshiping and working together.  But all the while we must be open to having our hearts ripped apart (when needed) by the preaching of the word of God (Heb. 4:12-13).

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

Love Bears All Things

By Clifton Angel

    Sister Jane walks in the door Sunday morning, shakes my hand, and exclaims, “I don’t like your tie today; it’s not the right color!” I politely shake her hand and respond, “It is good to see you today, sister Jane.” Brother John and I spend a day golfing. John gets so frustrated during the game that he curses. He immediately turns to me, “Brother, I’m so sorry. I never use that kind of language. I’ve just had so much on me lately. I’ve been playing horribly today, and it just slipped out.” I reply, “I forgive you, John.” And I never mention John’s sin to another human being — ever. Why? Because love “beareth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
    The word translated “bear” in this passage literally means to cover or conceal. In the example of sister Jane, I bear— or, forbear—with her by concealing words that would only create further harm and strife. This is an occasion where we heed Solomon’s words: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him” (Proverbs 26:4). In the example of brother John, I bear with him by concealing a matter that is only known to him, me, and God. Furthermore, that matter was confessed, and John was forgiven. Would it have been satisfactory for me to call another brother directly leaving the golf course and say, “Let me tell you what brother John did today—he cursed!” Or what about 20 years down the road? Brother John and I are enjoying conversation with other Christian men about golfing, and I say, “Hey John, do you remember that time you got so upset you cursed on the golf course?” Would that be acceptable? It would not. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends” (Proverbs 17:9).
    Love bears all things. Let us take note that this does not mean to turn a blind eye to sin. For, Lord willing, we will notice next week how that love “rejoiceth not in inquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” Love bears all things. Come grow with us in love!

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Distract, Drift, and a Rock

By Ron Thomas

It is one thing to say the Lord is my strength, the Rock of my salvation and to really mean it. In Psalm 62:6 the Psalmist said, “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” Reflect on these words and consider the meaning and application. First, only God is one’s rock. The “rock” in this context is not some pebble in the driveway, but something much more substantive, literally, “my high rocky summit” (NET margin). This gives a clearer picture, doesn't it? Moreover, the Lord is also one’s defender, protector. With the Lord’s word in place, with the application of that word in one’s life, what is it that Satan and his forces can do? He will certainly try to move us, but since our anchor is in the Lord, how shall that be? Since he will have no success there, he will distract us, and then hope that we drift. When one keeps his eye on the Lord, however, there is no movement away from Him.

- 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 Joe Chesser

            In 1964, the Terry Stafford recording of “Suspicion” rose as high as #3 on the US Top Ten Hit list even though it had been previously recorded and released by Elvis Presley just two years earlier on his album “Pot Luck.” As I remember, the core of the song says:
                                                Suspicion torments my heart
                                                Suspicion keeps us apart
                                                Suspicion why torture me
            These words capture the feelings where there is no trust in a relationship. Uncertainty and doubt rips the heart to shreds. Suspicion can destroy a friendship.  It can destroy a marriage.  And it can destroy a church.  Suspicion is a tool of the devil that torments, tortures and separates.
            An example of what suspicions can do is King Saul.  During the first part of his reign over Israel King Saul was a humble servant of God. But after his rebellion to God by not destroying all of the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15), God rejected him as king and had Samuel anoint David as the next king.  Saul’s jealousy of David grew rapidly and his spirit became evil.  His suspicions of David drove him mad, attempting to kill David on several occasions.  David did all he could to ease Saul’s suspicions, but never could.  Eventually Saul disgracefully died (1 Sam. 31, 2 Sam. 1).
            Satan loves to fill our minds with suspicions.  He loves it when we take every opportunity to think negative thoughts about each other.  He loves it when we look on the actions of others with distrust and when we always expect the worst from each other. He loves to see friendships and marriages and churches tormented and torn apart.  He loves to place little doubts in our minds about each other.  We must love it too, for even the strongest of Christians will sometimes allow Satan to fill them with suspicions.  Then we like to get into little groups or on social media and share our suspicions with those who are willing to listen.  I’ll bet Satan can’t keep from lol!
            But for those who truly love God and truly want to be like Jesus, there is absolutely no place for suspicions in their hearts, conversations or actions.  If you don’t have the facts, don’t suspect the worst about each other.  God is about building friendships, marriages and churches, not destroying them.  God is about filling our minds with constructive thoughts about each other. His is about building the Kingdom with positive words and actions.  We are instructed by the Holy Spirit through Paul to fill our minds with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).  We are to love each other.  That means, according to 1 Cor. 13, to be patient and kind with each other, to not be rude or easily angered or to keep a record of wrongs, but to always protect, trust, and hope in and for the one you love. “Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom. 12:10), whether they deserve it or not.
            Suspicions torment and separate.  Love and honor binds and blesses.

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

Eternal Life

By Alan Smith

    The joke is told about three nurses who died and went to Heaven, where they were met at the Pearly Gates by  Peter.  To the first, he asked, "What did you used to do back on Earth?  Why do you think you should be allowed to come into Heaven?"
    "I was a nurse at an inner city hospital," she replied.  "I worked to bring healing and peace to many sufferers, especially poor, helpless children."
    "Very noble," said Peter. "You may enter." And in she went.
    To the next nurse, he asked the same question. "What did you used to do?"  "Why do you think you should be allowed to come into Heaven?"
    "I was a nurse at a missionary hospital in the Amazon basin," she replied. "For many years, I worked with a skeleton crew of doctors and nurses who tried to reach out to as many people across numerous tribes, with a hand of healing and peace, and with the message about God's love."
    "How touching," said Peter. "You, too, may enter."  And in she went.
    He then came to the last nurse, to whom he asked, "What did you used to do back on Earth? Why do you think you should be allowed to come into Heaven?"
    After some hesitation, she replied, "I was a nurse at an HMO."
    Peter pondered this for a moment, and then said, "Ok, you may enter, too."
    "Whew!" said the nurse. "For a moment there, I thought you weren't going to let me in."
    "Oh, you can come in," said St. Peter, "but you can only stay for three days."
    Some of you personally know the feeling of being pushed out of a hospital room faster than you would like to have been.  But while there are a lot of adjectives that the Bible uses to describe heaven -- incorruptible, undefiled, glorious -- one adjective that is never used is "temporary."
    As I look back over my life, there have been some wonderful moments that I wished would never end.  But everything we experience in this life is temporary.  No matter how much we enjoy doing something, going somewhere, or being with someone, it is all only temporary.  But, in heaven, we have the opportunity to be with God and His redeemed for all eternity!
    "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.  Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." (2 Cor. 4:18-5:1)
    I hope you've made your reservations for the party that will never end!
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at


By Clint Mitchell and David A. Sargent

    Imagine working on a homework assignment in Algebra, and you can’t remember how to solve a quadratic equation.  You’ve looked at the examples in your textbook, poured over your notes from class, but you still can’t figure it out.  You can’t phone your teacher.  Your parents don’t have a clue.  What do you do?
    When she needed some tutoring in math, Nadia called her cousin, Salman Khan, who has earned three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard University.  In late 2004, Khan began tutoring his cousin Nadia in mathematics using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad.  When other relatives and friends sought similar help, he decided it would be more practical to distribute the tutorials on YouTube.  The popularity of these videos and the testimonials of appreciative students prompted Khan to quit his job in finance in 2009 as a hedge fund analyst and focus full-time on the tutorials.
    His work – and many tutorials to help you with your homework – may be viewed at the Khan Academy website:  The website gives this description of the academy: “Khan Academy is an organization on a mission.  We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.”  The project is funded by donations with significant backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, and other philanthropic donors and foundations.
    According to Wikipedia, “The website features thousands of educational resources, including a personalized learning dashboard, over 100,000 exercise problems, and over 5,000 micro lectures via video tutorials stored on YouTube teaching mathematics, history, healthcare, medicine, finance, physics, general chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics, cosmology, organic chemistry, American civics, art history, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and computer science.  All resources are available for free to anyone around the world. Khan Academy reaches about 10,000,000 students per month and has delivered over 300,000,000 lessons.”
    We ALL need help, and it’s not just with math problems.  Each of us has deep needs, the greatest of which is salvation from SIN.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  “And the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
    But God, because of His great love for us, came to our rescue.  He provided
a Book (the Bible) that tells us of His great love and His answer to our greatest problems.  In His Word, we learn that He sent His Son Jesus into the world to live among us (John 1:14) and then to die on the cross as payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:7).  We learn that through Jesus, we can be saved from our sins and look forward to an eternal home with God in heaven (Acts 4:12; 1 Pet 1:3-5).
    God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  The blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His word (1 John 1:7).
    Sinful man cries, “Help!”  God has answered by sending His Son Jesus to our rescue.
    Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life on His terms?

- 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:

* Information gleaned from and the “Khan Academy” entry at