Sunday, February 27, 2022

Roil the Oceans

By J. Randal Matheny


Roil the oceans, folding ages,

The deep and heights clash and heave;

Rock the mountains to sink and melt,

The elements burn, and earth is ended.


Rush this filthy, finite world

To doom, to the final day of the Lord;

Raise no hope for the planet of here,

Impatient to die in noisy darkness.


Race ahead to a languid heaven,

Renewed by God, with never a night;

Run from destruction, toward your strength,

From gales of wrath, to gates of glory.

- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: <http://randalmathenycom/>. When reprinting this
material, please include the following: 

Copyright (c) 2021 J. Randal Matheny
All rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not alter
it in any way or remove any text or

Welcome Home

By Larry Pasley


God sent His Son for you to die;

So you could live with Him on high.

He wants you with Him by and by;

And longs your coming with a sigh.

Jesus came and suffered for you;

And all He asked for you to do;

Was just to simply, love Him too;

And then His holy will pursue.

So think how much for you He’s done;

In sending down his only son;

Because He’s like no other one;

He vict’ry o’er the grave has won.

How disappointed He will be;

If at the gate He does not see;

The one to which He gave the key;

And said please come and live with me.

So since your flesh returns to loam;

And on this earth you cease to roam;

Think of heaven and that fair dome;

And long to hear that “Welcome Home.”

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

That Old Rugged Cross

By Al Behel


    “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross.” These words have been sung for over a hundred years in churches around the world. Cities and churches have erected crosses to symbolize the suffering and death of our Savior, and many believers wear cross-shaped jewelry to proclaim faith in the risen Lord.

    That “Old Rugged Cross” is the object of affection for all faithful Christians. The postle Paul expressed his love for the cross by saying, “God forbid

that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). The cross is the center of our faith and the hope of our salvation.

    That cross is “rugged”. It is not polished gold or silver. It is ugly and bloody. It is rough and contemptible. There is nothing beautiful about it’s physical appearance. The cross was a place where criminals died. The One who made Mount Calvary would come down and die there. On a wooden cross made from a tree he had created.

    What does that rugged cross mean to you? Does it make a difference in your daily thoughts and actions? Does it alter your conversations? Does it cause you to look at relationships differently? Do you cling to that old cross? Does it still have a wondrous “attraction” to you?

    I love that old cross, so despised by the world. It tells me that God loves you and me. It tells me that the Lamb of God left the glories of heaven to bear our sins on dark Calvary. That fact alone gives that old rugged cross a wondrous attraction to me, because on that cross Jesus suffered and died to “pardon and sanctify me.”

    That cross tells us how wretched our sin is and how hopelessly lost we are without it. It tells us how a loving God came and died an innocent death on a cross that should have been for us.

    The power of that cross today is in the hearts of believers, not on top of church buildings or mountain sides. It’s beauty transforms us and fills us with awe and gratitude for His infinite love and grace. That “Old Rugged Cross” is still our greatest hope.

- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Equal Rights

By Joe Slater


    How could a Christian possibly oppose equal rights? God doesn’t show favoritism (partiality, “respect of persons”) and neither should His children.

    That being said, corrupt people have redefined “rights” to suit their own purposes. When Christians reject those new definitions, we are tarred as bigots who supposedly support inequality. This holds true in both spiritual and earthly concerns.

    In religion, many have equated equal rights with identical functions. Thus, Christian women supposedly have the “right” to be elders in the church. Biblical teaching that an elder must be “the husband of one wife” is written off as a mere vestige of an outmoded patriarchal society. Redefined “equality” surpasses plain Scripture.

    Now, what about secular issues? Fifty years ago Americans were debating the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution (ERA). It reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Though the time for it to be adopted has long since expired, the President is pressuring Congress to adopt it since more states have subsequently ratified it.

    The amendment sounds simple enough. However, even half a century ago we knew that politicians, judges, and lawyers would “spin” it to mandate abortion on demand and who knows what else, despite the fact that an average person wouldn’t make such absurd applications. Today the secular progressives would see special accommodations for so-called “transgender” persons as being not only legal but mandated by the Constitution!

    Biblical “equal rights” ought to be recognized and respect by all. But what the world means by “equal rights” and what God means are two different things!

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Standard for All Decisions

By Joe Chesser

    Life is filled with difficult decisions, many of which are life changing decisions. We have to decide a career path, whom to marry, and how many children.  We have to choose where and in what to call home, the kind of vehicle to purchase, and how to spend our time. We have to plan for investments, our children’s education and retirement. How will we care for our aging parents? What church will we choose? These are indeed difficult decisions. So the question is, what standard will we use to make these decisions?
    For Christians that decision should already be made. Our standard is always Jesus! To be a Christian means we have made a commitment to follow Jesus regardless of what the rest of the world may be thinking and doing. We are to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2.5). We are to stop thinking and acting like the world (1 John 2.15); we are to let God transform our minds so we can make decisions that are within His will (Rom. 12.2). When examining how Jesus made difficult decisions this one principle rises to the top: the will of the Father!
    His very first recorded decision is found in Luke 2. At age 12 Jesus went with his parents to the temple in Jerusalem. When it was time to go home Jesus chose to stay behind to discuss spiritual matters with the temple teachers. Why? His answer: “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2.49). His second recorded decision was to be submissive to his parents (Luke 2.51). That, too, is within the Father’s will (Eph. 6.1). Because God was his first priority, loved learning and was submissive to his parents.
    The next decision we read about was his baptism by John (Matt. 3.13-17). When John resisted, Jesus explained why he needed to be baptized: “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3.15). The Father and Spirit verified that his decision to be baptized was the Father’s will. The Spirit descended in the form of a dove and came to rest on him, and the Father proclaimed: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    For Jesus, the most important thing in life was to do the Father’s will. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” / “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 4.34 / 6.38). The night before Jesus died he prayed three times that there might be some other way than the cross. However, he ended each request by adding, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26.39).
    Jesus faced many difficult decisions while on earth. But in everyone of them, his standard was always the will of the Father. Those who follow Jesus will choose the same standard he used when making decisions. The degree of difficulty does not factor into these decisions. The standard is always the same: the will of the Father. So, the principles from God’s word should guide our decisions regarding church, marriage, children, career, relationships, investments, finances, retirement, etc.? Remember, Jesus said that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7.21).

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

Sunday, February 20, 2022

The Hard Way OR The Easy Way?

By Brian Mitchell


    Life is full of choices to make and many of them are difficult. There are things that everyone must choose to do or not do (Joshua 24:15), places to go or not go (Genesis 13:8-12), people to acquaint yourself with (Romans 16:1-15) or avoid (Romans 16:17; 2 John 1:10-11). One of the most important choices a man must make is mentioned by our Lord in Mt.7:13-14. It is a choice which involves two gates, two roads and two destinations. It is a choice that involves taking the hard way or the easy way. Generally speaking, taking the easy way is not always a bad thing, but here we see that it is.

    Picture yourself at the intersection of two roads, one well-paved, easy to navigate, relatively straight with few hills to climb; and several lanes for smooth driving. The other, a two-lane road with potholes, no shoulders, and very hilly; so that your ability to see at a distance is limited. Which would you choose?  Most individuals are going to take the first road because it is just the easier of the two paths. Why would one willingly go down the second road with all of its difficulties and pitfalls?

    The same two choices are faced in the spiritual roadway of life. As human beings we generally seek after the path of least resistance. In the spiritual sense, it is easy to do the things of this world and go down that “easy road”. One will meet little or no resistance if he or she goes along with what everyone else is doing. The cruise control can be set, the seat leaned back, the air conditioner cranked up, with the stereo set on your favorite radio station. There is no such thing as “peer pressure” on this road, because whatever activities society dictates, the one who takes this road will likely engage in them as well (1 Corinthians 3:3-4).

    The other choice, however, is not as easy. It is the hard way!!! It is the “way of righteousness” and following the teaching of God’s word in all things (Proverbs 12:28; Psalm 1:1-2). It is thus “the road less traveled” because one must be willing to make self-sacrifices to travel it. For the most part, people do not wish to be different from the rest of the world. It’s a difficult thing to “go against the grain” and be one of those “peculiar” people who try to live a life pleasing to God (1 Peter 2:9). When one chooses to take the road less traveled, often times people of the world think them to be strange because of the stand it requires (1 Peter 4:4). 

    Unfortunately, these two roads do have crossovers. There is always tremendous pressure on those who take the difficult road to leave it and cross over to the easier way.  One can go from the easy road to the difficult road through obedience to God’s will (Matthew 7:21) and trying to live a life faithful to Him (Revelation 2:10). Most, however, do not cross over to this way and yet sadly many cross over from the difficult road to the easy way. Perhaps the road less traveled gets too difficult for them, or like Demas they “love this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). 

    What we must do in the end is consider the end of the two roads. The less traveled road leads to the right destination – eternal life (Matthew 7:14), while the well-traveled road leads to a “dead end” – a destination of destruction (Matthew 7:13). Which road will you choose?
- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Newly Issued Alcohol Warnings

By Larry Pasley


    The American Board of Health has proposed that warning signs be placed on all alcohol bottles to tip off drinkers about the possible peril of drinking a pint or two of any alcoholic beverage.

    1. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to wake up with a breath that could knock a buzzard off a wreaking dead animal that is one hundred yards away.

    2. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like an idiot.

    3. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the same boring story over and over again until your friends want to assault you

    4. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to thay shings like thish.

    5. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the boss what you really think of him.

    6. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol is the leading cause of inexplicable rug burn on the forehead.

    7. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, handsomer and smarter than some really, really big guy named Psycho Bob.




    The above may be comical but the problems caused by alcohol is no laughing matter. Proverbs 23:29-35 has some warnings for those who drink also. I will put them in the same format as the above.

  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol brings woe.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol brings sorrow.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol causes contentions.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol causes complaints.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol brings “wounds without cause”.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol causes redness of eyes.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol bites like a serpent.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol stings like a viper.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol causes your eyes to see strange things.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol causes your heart to utter perverse things.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol causes you to do dangerous things.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol causes you not to feel protective pain.
  •     Warning: Consumption of alcohol brings a desire for more and more in spite of the problems it causes.

    Proverbs 23:29-35 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. 34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 35 "They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?"

    Two other verses in Proverbs warn against alcohol.

    Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

    Proverbs 31:4-5 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink; 5 Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.

    May we realize the dangers of consuming alcohol and its addictive nature.

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

Why End with Amen?

By R.W. McAlister


    The word, “amen,” means: “so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled.” “Amen” was transliterated directly from the Hebrew language into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and English and other languages. It has been called the best known word in human speech. It comes from the Hebrew root word amam, meaning “believe” or “faithful.” Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence.

    It seems this was a custom in the early church. Paul writes in I Cor. 14:16: “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” In other words, “How will those who don’t understand that language be able to say ‘Amen’ at the end, since they don’t understand the words?” This shows that endorsing a prayer with “Amen” was a practice in the early church. The use of “Amen,” whether it’s said at the end of a prayer or in support of some point in the sermon, means that the one who speaks this word supports what has been said wholeheartedly in sincere faith.

    “Amen” is frequently used by our Lord and translated “verily.” In the Gospel of John, it’s used twenty-five times by Jesus and the word is spoken “back-to-back,” as in: “verily, verily.” It underscores the authority of Christ, and in essence, it’s a “thus saith the Lord.”

    Look at how Jesus used this word to emphasize certain truths. For example, John 3:5; Jesus is explaining baptism – the new birth – to Nicodemus and says: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” In Matt. 5:18, Jesus says: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” In Matt. 6:2, Jesus instructs, “…when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Those who like to call attention to themselves receive their “full reward” in the praise they receive from men. Notice also just a few verses later in Matt. 6 (verse 9), Jesus ends the model prayer with the word, “Amen.”

    Furthermore, we pray “in Jesus name” because Jesus tells us in John 14:14, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” See also John 15:16 for a similar instruction. In I Tim. 2:5, Paul writes by inspiration, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

    The phrase “in Jesus’ name” means that whatever is being said or done must be done by the authority of Jesus. Colossians 3:17 makes this clear: “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him.” This means that whatever actions are taken or words are spoken should be in accord with Jesus’ teachings and by His authority. The phrase “in Jesus’ name” (or “in the name of Jesus”) only has power if what is being prayed for truly is authorized by Jesus. Therefore, we pray in the name of Jesus because He is our mediator – our “go-between” if you will, and because He has instructed us to petition God in His name. He takes our wishes and our praise to God the Father. We end our prayers with “amen” because that’s the Bible’s pattern for prayer.

- R.W. McAlister served as a minister to the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL until his death in October 2021.This was his own home congregation in which he grew up. R.W. was a beloved member of his community and a popular teacher in the agriculture department at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO. To visit the congregation's website go to:


By Ron Bartanen


   ….“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations…..” (Luke 24:7)


   Repentance!  Not a very popular topic in the pulpit (or elsewhere) in today’s hedonistic culture.  Instead of the preaching of repentance, a more acceptable message is that of tolerance.  Without the preaching of repentance, the church fails in its mission of being “a city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14).  Our message in the world is to be one that includes the Holy-Spirit-inspired word that would “reprove the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8; cf. Acts 24:25).  Paul warned of a time when such would not be popular, saying, “”they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they reap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  The world may desire, or even demand, that we change our message to fit with current culture, but the King of the universe, Jesus Christ, insists that the world heed His message, namely, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

   What is repentance? It has often been defined as “a change of mind and heart that results in a change of conduct.”  Someone described it as a sign on the highway of life that says, “You’ve traveled too far down the wrong road.  It’s time to turn around!”

   Noah’s message from the steps of the ark to a decadent culture was not “Something good is going to happen to you,” but the message of “righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), in contrast to the rebellious spirit of the age.  John the baptizer’s message in the wilderness went beyond a mere “Smile, God loves you” as he demanded repentance to for one to be in accord with the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 3:2).  Jesus, too, was emphatic in declaring, “Except you repent, you shall also likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).  From the first day of the church the demand to those who would believe the gospel was, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).  For it to be any less than that in 21st Century America is unthinkable!
- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. He may be contacted at:


By David A. Sargent


    Imagine the following scenario offered by Keith Wishum…

    Suppose you heard me say, “I feel like giving away $1000 today.”  Then, I walked up to you and handed you an envelope containing NINE crisp, new hundred-dollar bills.

    What would you say? Something like this?  “Hey, you said $1000! This is only $900!”  Or, “Where's my other $100?”  Would you feel cheated? Would you complain that you had been shorted? Or would you be glad for what you were given?

    There is an interesting quirk of human nature at work here which keeps many of us from being as happy as we could be. Notice what was actually said. There was nothing about giving all $1000 to one person.  And certainly nothing about who would get it.  Couldn't I have meant all along to give $900 to one person and $100 to another?

    Maybe I actually intended to give $100 to 10 different people.  In that case, how would you feel about getting $900?  Like you'd gotten extra - more than your fair share?  Same amount of money, but a very different perspective.

    That quirk of human nature is that we often tend to focus on what we don't have rather than on what we do have.  We long for what could be, instead of enjoying what already is.

Truth is, everything good that we have is an undeserved gift from God. 

ALL of it is extra!  We can focus on what he has given us and be happy with the unexpected bonus.  Or, we can focus on what we didn't get and be miserable complainers.*

    “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

    The GREATEST GIFT that God has ever given to us is the gift of His Son Jesus.

    It’s the Greatest Gift because of our great need.  We are sinners (Romans 3:23), separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), doomed to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 6:23).

    But God loves us so much that He gave the Greatest Gift, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).

    Salvation and eternal life are GIFTS that come through Jesus.  Therefore, we cannot earn them.  However, we must accept them on God’s terms.

    God will give salvation and eternal life to those who accept Christ’s offer by placing their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  The blood of Jesus shed in His atoning death will continue to cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

    Everything good that we have is an undeserved gift from God.  Everything!

    But the Greatest Gift of all is the gift of Jesus Christ and the salvation and life that are found in and through Him.  “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” – 2 Cor 9:15

    Won’t YOU accept God’s greatest Gift on His terms?

God bless you!
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:
* Keith Wishum, “It’s All a Gift,” in A Word from Williams Road, a publication of the Williams Road Church of Christ , Americus, GA.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

I Had a Drug Problem as a Child

By Larry Pasley


I was drug to Sunday School and Worship every Sunday morning;

I was drug back to church every Sunday and Wednesday night;

I was drug to Vacation Bible School and Gospel Meetings;

Sometimes I was drug to the woodshed.

Those drugs are still in my veins.

They are stronger than heroine or crack.

If we all had this drug problem, the world would be a better place.




    There is little doubt that as we get further away from and emphasis on God and the Bible in our society, our moral compasses are being corrupted. The increase in crime, drug/alcohol use, the breakdown of the family and an overall blurring of the concept of right and wrong is evident.

    While it seems that we are getting worse and worse in this area, it is nothing new. The apostle Paul indicates a similar problem in the first century. Romans 1:20-25  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22  Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23  and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24  Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25  who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    As we turn from serving the living God, our Creator, to serving the creature, ourselves, our society will continue to deteriorate. As we become more sinful as a nation, we come closer to our downfall.

    Proverbs 14:34  Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.

    Psalm 107:31-34  Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 32  Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders. 33  He turns rivers into a wilderness, And the watersprings into dry ground; 34  A fruitful land into barrenness, For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.

    May we do everything we can to maintain our own righteousness and encourage other in righteousness also, for the sake of our country.

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

A Wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord

By Bill Brandstatter


    One of my favorite songs is “A Wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord.” The song expresses why Jesus is wonderful. Let me mention why He is wonderful to me. Isaiah writes about Jesus being called, “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 6:9). Joseph was told by an angel that Mary would “bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). So, Jesus was a Wonderful Savior. Let’s look at some reasons why He is.

    He is wonderful because He is a wonderful teacher. One person stated about Him: John 7:46- “No man ever spoke like this Man!” Nicodemus expressed the wonderful nature of our Lord’s teaching when he said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  (John 3:2 NKJV) Truly Jesus taught like no one else before or since. Matthew states his teaching was authoritative, unlike the scribes (Mt. 7:29). A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!

     He is wonderful because of His resurrection. When the women went to the tomb on a Sunday morning, they were looking for his body to embalm. Instead, they found and empty tomb and an angel on the stone that was rolled away from the tomb. The angel stated, “He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:6) He proved He was the Son of God by His resurrection (Rom.1:4). Because of His resurrection, we have hope of being resurrected to a new life one day (John 6:40; 11:25, 26). Paul helps our understanding by writing: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor15:20,21). A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!

    He is wonderful because He died willingly for us. Jesus Christ willingly came to earth to save us. Paul details this for us in Phil. 2:5-11. There he states Jesus Christ did the following: He made Himself of no reputation, he took the form of a bondservant, and came in the likeness of man. Then in Phil. 2:8, states, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  Peter writes that He took our place on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). If I were the only person who ever lived, Jesus did it willingly for me. A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!

    He is wonderful because He did the will of the Father. It was in the will of God that Jesus die for the sins of mankind. He was “foreordained before the foundation of the world but was manifest in these last times.” (1 Pet.  1:20). While suffering in the flesh as a man, Jesus wanted the suffering to go away. Then He stated, “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). Peter stated on the Day of Pentecost that what happened to Jesus was the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!

    He is wonderful because He humbled Himself. Paul tells us in Philippians chapter 2 that He left His place in heaven and came to earth and “humbled Himself” and came in the likeness of man (vs. 5-8). He taught us what true humility is. He said that others should humble themselves as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt.  18:3). He showed us how to humble ourselves so we can be lifted up (James 4:10). A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord.

     He is wonderful because He is wise. In Jesus, we find the wisdom of God. As a young boy, we read about His wisdom: “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40) In Revelation 5:12, we read, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!”

    He is wonderful because He is personal. As I stated earlier, He died for me (1 Pet. 2:24). He took my place on the cross. He understands me (Heb. 4:15). He is my intercessor (Heb. 7:25). He is my advocate with the Father (1 Jn.2:1). Truly, a wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord! Jesus needs to be our Savior and we need to make Him Lord of our lives, if He is not already. Then we can all truly say, “A Wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord.”

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

They Live This Way ...

By Ron Thomas


Luke 10:25 - "Teacher, what shall I do to inherent eternal life?"

    You’ll notice what Jesus did not say. “As long as your heart is tender, as long as you love me, as long as you love your family and do good by other people, then that is all you need to do. I will save you; you’ll rest in peace.”

    You’ll notice Jesus said nothing of the sort. So why do people live this way? People live this way because they want to live with one foot on each side of the fence. They live this way because they have been told the Lord’s standard of judgment is merciful, not something as stringent as the Gospel of Christ. They live this way because “Surely, the Lord in His mercy will overlook my failings and have a desire to save me.” They live this way because they are mindful of all the good that is done and, “Why would the Lord punish me simply because I didn’t go to church?” they live this way because they want the Lord to judge them, not on His standard, but by their own. They live this way because people live delusional lives.

    Proverbs 14:12 – there is a way that seems right unto a man but ends in death.

    As sad as that is, there are many Christians doing the same. 

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

Sight or Vision?

By Joe Chesser


    There’s a church in our area that puts some very thought provoking sayings on their outdoor sign.  They’re located on a busy corner where lots of people will notice what the sign says.  One that I remember from years ago is:

“To some God gives sight; to others He gives vision.”

    Sometimes the words sight and vision can mean essentially the same thing.  For example, an optometrist’s office can be referred to as a vision clinic.  But in the statement above I think you can see (pun intended) that the two words are to be understood in vastly different ways.  To be able to see with your eyes is indeed a great blessing.  But to have vision is extraordinary.  To see the difference, let’s look at a story from the Bible.

    The story is found in 2 Kings 6. During the time of Elisha the king of Aram laid siege to the city of Dothan, hoping to capture Elisha.  He sent a strong army with horses and chariots during the night and surrounded the city.  When Elisha’s servant got up the next morning, he saw (with his eyes) the vast army.  Because all he saw was the army, he felt helpless, saying to Elisha, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”  But Elisha was not afraid.  God had given him the ability to see beyond what his physical eyes could see. He told his servant, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).  And so he prayed that God would “open his eyes so he may see.”  God then gave the servant the vision to see more than he had previously seen.  God gave him the vision to see the hills full of horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17).  As the army began to attack, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike these people with blindness,” which God did (2 Kings 6:18).  The king of Aram saw his vast army and felt powerful.  Elisha had the vision to see beyond physical eyesight.  He had faith to see the power of God. Guess who won!

    Faith is basically having the vision to see what cannot be seen, or as Hebrews 11:1 puts it: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

    Many have read the accounts of Jesus healing the blind, but haven’t yet seen that Jesus’ healing illustrated more than compassion for a handicapped man. Jesus also revealed His power to give vision to the spiritually blind.  I can’t help but laugh when I read about the spiritual blindness of those in John 9. Jesus had healed a man who had been blind from birth.  In the story, only the blind man had the vision to see Jesus, and this even before he actually saw him (John 9:35-39).  The religious leaders didn’t see what he saw (9:28).  The man’s parents didn’t (9:20-23).  Even the disciples didn’t (9:2). Isn’t it ironic that only the blind man had the vision to see Jesus? (9:17, 38).  Read the whole story.  It’s fascinating.

    Pity the man who can see the sunrise, but can’t see the Son who rose from the dead!  Pity the man who can see the stars, but not the Creator of the universe! Pity the man who can see the plant that grows from a seed, but not the God who gives it life.       God blesses us with sight. More than that, God also wants us to have vision. Check out Matthew 13.13-17.

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

Repairing Foundations

By Ron Bartanen


     When a nation that once honored God decides it no longer needs God nor His laws, what is the Christian to do? The question, as found in the Psalms. is, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psa. 11:3. “By “foundations,” reference is obviously made to the principles that undergird society.  In the context of this verse is pictured a situation where wickedness and violence prevailed in the abandonment of the laws and principles set forth in God’s Law for Israel.  The question seems to be that of the Psalmist David’s advisors who advise him to “Flee as a bird to your mountain” (v. 1).   While they would advise him to go fearfully into hiding, David’s decision instead is to put his trust in God: “In the LORD put I my trust….  The Lord is in His holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven…” (vs. 1a, 4a).  It is He who will judge the unrighteous (v. 6).

     Are we viewing the crumbling of the foundations of our nation? Any who are at all acquainted with our nation’s early history must admit that the founders envisioned a government where Christian principles prevailed.  While not all professed to be Christians, there was a profound respect for the Bible and the principles derived from the Bible.  The liberty they envisioned was regarded as being dependent upon respect for Scripture.  John Adams on June 21, 1776 wrote, “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone which can establish the principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.  The only foundation of a free Constitution is free Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired to our people in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”  This same sentiment had been expressed by Samuel Adams in 1772 when he wrote, “The rights to freedom being the gift of the Almighty…the rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institution of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”  Sadly, it seems that every effort is being made by some to undermine these principles.  The secular world is regularly assaulting Christian values, opposing a foundation that would define morality.  Even the mention of God and the Bible is taboo in schools.  Most of the problems we face in our world are due to those who act contrary to these principles.  Homes are destroyed, marriage is being redefined, pornography and other sexual sins no longer have shock-value, and God and His word are being removed from public view under the erroneous excuse of “separation of church and state.”

     But, “What can the righteous do?” All too many would seemingly do nothing.  Many churches do not even regard the Bible as the inspired word of God, and see righteousness as something to be redefined by society.  But the righteous must, as David, trust God and His word to guide us.  May we never give up the stand for what is right and honorable in our lives and in our nation.  May we continue to hold to the standard of God’s word—to never surrender it, but ever defend it.  We must do all we can to repair the damage that has been done, and speak up where others remain silent, knowing that only “the foundation of God standeth sure” (2 Timothy 2:19). May we constantly sound the warning to all who will hear: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalms 9:17).

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. He may be contacted at:

Monday, February 7, 2022

Jesus At The Crossroads

By Al Behel


    A man was addicted to pornography. To help him break his compulsion he taped a picture of Jesus in the corner of his computer screen. Each time he was tempted to surf the porn sites he found that he just couldn’t do it with that picture staring him in the eyes.

    Every temptation presents us with a crossroads moment. There are always two choices. To choose sin is to fly in the face of Jesus who died for us. It is a decision to love self more than him. It means that I am telling Jesus that I would rather sin than to hold him in my heart. Sin is a choice to crucify him re-drive those nails in his hands and feet.

    Temptation comes to all of us and must be resisted. Sin is destructive. Samson discovered that compromising one’s position leads to death (Judges 16:21). Sin blinds, binds, and ultimately grinds us. The moment of decision must not center on the moment of temptation. Decisions should be made long in advance of the enticing crossroad.

    Our culture embraces delusional thinking and calls it normal. “We’re all human,” we tell ourselves. “Everybody else does it.” “It doesn’t harm anyone.” “As long as no one knows it’s okay.” “I can’t help it, it’s a hereditary trait.” God wants me to be happy.” These messages are not from the Spirit of God. Satan is still the author of lies and deception. God is not swayed by human opinion. The crossroad is a spiritual battle between the mind that is set on the flesh and the mind that is set on the Spirit of God. In that moment we need to look at Jesus. His picture is in our hearts.

- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Learning How to Learn From a 12-Year-Old

By Joe Chesser


    We all know how much we can learn from kids if we pay attention. Probably more than we will admit. One mom asked her 5-year-old son how his day was. He said it was awesome. She asked him what made it awesome. His reply, “Because I wanted it to be!” ... Another kid asked, “How are we supposed to meet new people if we can’t talk to strangers?” ... A little girl was asked to complete the sentence, “If the shoe fits ...” Her response was, “... buy it in every color.”

    Not much is said in Scripture about what Jesus did and said as a child. But there is one story about him when he was 12 years old (Luke 2.41-52). We know the story pretty well. We know his parents took him to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. We know that when they headed home Jesus was not with them. We know it took 3 days for them to find him. But during those 3 days, Jesus spent time in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2.46). Although I’ve read this story many times, this time it struck me how important learning was even to Jesus, even as a 12-year-old boy. There are at least 3 things we can learn from Jesus about how to learn.

    First, Jesus was in the right place and with the right people for learning what he needed to know. Since his interest was in spiritual matters, what better place to be than in the house of God, the temple, sitting among the teachers of God’s word? It’s a principle we all understand: surround yourself with the people who can teach what you are seeking to know. So, if you are desiring to know more about God and His word, follow Jesus’ example: surround yourself with the people of God who will teach you the word of God.

    Second, being in the right place among the right people is a good place to start, but we are also told that Jesus was listening to the teachers. Not everyone who is in the right place even with great teachers does that. Yet, even as a 12-year-old boy, Jesus was learning by listening. We may think it strange that as a boy Jesus needed to learn about God and His word, but we are told at the end of this story that Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2.52). Jesus gives us the example that learning at any age involves listening. Don’t be among the masses who are seeing but don’t see, and who hearing but don’t hear (Matthew 13.13). Pay attention when people speak about God!

    Third, we learn from Jesus that learning involves asking questions. Can you imagine the scene where a 12-year-old boy was asking questions of the priests and teachers in the temple?! We are not told what kinds of questions Jesus asked, but we are told that all who heard him were amazed (Luke 2.47). The value of asking questions of your Bible teachers at home, in small groups or at church is immeasurable. In your classes, don’t be shy. Learn from a 12-year-old boy to ask questions.

    Some things we learn from kids are hilarious; but other things are truly life changing. Learn from Jesus to put yourself in the right place to listen and ask questions!

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

Now Safe Am I

By David A. Sargent


    Four children, ages 4-11 and related to one another, were playing on a frozen pond last Sunday, January 9, in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, when suddenly three of them fell through the ice.

    Thankfully, a 23-year-old neighbor, Dusti Talavera, saw it happen from her window. She sprang into action.  “Before I even realized it, I was out there in the middle of the pond pulling two kids out,” she later said during a press conference.  “And that’s when I fell in.”

    Talavera was able to pull a 4-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy out of the icy pond, but having fallen into the pond herself, she struggled to get a 6-year-old girl out of the water.  About that time, the little girl’s 16-year-old male cousin threw a rope to them and was able to pull Talavera and the little girl to safety.

    At one point the little 6-year-old girl was unconscious and had no pulse, but Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputies and South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) officials performed CPR on her and rushed her to the hospital.  She is now in good health and reunited with her family.

    When discussing the details of the rescue with sheriff’s deputies, Talavares told them she “wasn't concerned for her safety because they were babies and they needed help.” *

    When we were drowning in sin, God saw our need and sent His Son to rescue us.  In order to save us from sin, Jesus had to die on the cross to pay the price for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7).

    James Rowe described what the Savior did for him and for us in the words of a beloved song, Love Lifted Me:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,

Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,

But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,

From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me!

Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

Love lifted me!

Rowe wrote this song in the early 1900s, but his lyrics remind us that the Savior’s offer of salvation is still available:

Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves;

He will lift you by His love Out of the angry waves.

God will lift from the angry waves of sin and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

    Struggling soul, look to Jesus and accept His offer of salvation on His terms.  Then joyously join in singing the refrain, “Love lifted me… now safe am I!”

- 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 “Colorado good samaritan saves kids from icy pond in dramatic rescue caught on video” by Bradford Betz of Fox News,

Conversion of a Religious Man

By Ron Bartanen


    The treasurer of Candace, queen of Ethiopia, had traveled over 1000 miles “to worship” at a religious festival in Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 8:26-39.  As he was riding home in his chariot, he was reading from what we would identify as the 53rd chapter of Isaiah.  He was met by a stranger, a deacon named Philip, who asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Acknowledging the fact that he didn’t understand, he was then willing to be taught.  Philip, using this scripture as the foundation, “preached unto him Jesus.”   Isaiah’s prophecy, given over 700 years prior to this time, was of the coming of one who would be rejected by His people, but would be as the sacrificial lamb, taking upon Himself the burden of man’s iniquities.   After foretelling His vicarious death, Isaiah was inspired to affirm the unheard of—the prolonging of His life in His resurrection.  This Ethiopian official was learning the identity of the One who on man’s behalf has “poured out his soul unto death” and thus “bare the sin of many. ” A religious man was enabled to have his heart opened to a message of hope.  Condemned by God’s Law, the light of the Gospel now breaks through any clouds of despair.

    When the Ethiopian nobleman heard the Good News, something Philip had preached made him aware that he needed to be baptized.  When they had come to a body of water, he asked, “What would hinder me from being baptized.”  Upon being told, “If you believe with all your heart, you may,” he confessed, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  Stopping the chariot, both Philip and the Ethiopian “went down into the water”, where Philip baptized him.  It was then written of him, “He went on his way rejoicing.”  Though previously religious, he would no longer be in doubt as to his acceptance with God.  He had passed from being lost into a state of salvation in Christ.

    What this Ethiopian needed is what is still needed today—a knowledge of the fact that the Son of God has come, and that He has taken care of the sin-problem, taking upon Himself our guilt upon the cross, being buried, and rising triumphant from the tomb as the Victor over death. Man today needs the same Good News that Philip preached. Man today needs to respond to that Gospel as did the treasurer—confession of faith and baptism.  The promise of Jesus for that day is unchanged today: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).  No “sinner’s prayer” will suffice.  No voting of eligibility by a congregation would be required.  What will be required for any to go on his way rejoicing today would be to identify with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection in being “buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).  When you have believed what this religious man believed, and have done what he did, you will have become what he became—a follower of Christ, a Christian—nothing less and nothing more.

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. He may be contacted at:

Love Tempers

By Clifton Angel


    The story is told of a man that made a trek across the U.S. He traveled from New York City to San Francisco on foot. When asked, “What was your greatest difficulty along your journey?” it was expected that he would respond with something like the mountains, the deserts, or the extreme weather conditions on occasions. Rather, he responded, “My greatest obstacle was the sand in my shoes.” Sometimes, in our lifelong journeys, it can be the small things that people do, the small things that people say, or the small things in general that agitate, irritate, or provoke us. But maybe, as we grow in the love of God, we can be strengthened and encouraged not to let such things set us on edge. Paul tells us that love “is not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Let us consider four ways we can grow in godly love so as to not be easily provoked.

    First, when we are tempted to be provoked and set on edge, we need to pursue the example of our Lord. Isaiah prophesied of our Lord’s sacrificial strength in love. Because of our sins, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

    Second, when we are tempted to be easily provoked, we need to pray to our Father. Peter exhorts the Christian readers of his writings in “Casting all your care upon him” (1 Peter 5:7). Why should we cast all of our cares, concerns, and anxieties upon our God? Because “he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

    Third, when we are tempted to be set on edge, we need to practice self-control. James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations:  knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2–3). 

    Fourth, we can be exhorted to grow in this love that is not easily provoked if we provoke one another. In 1 Corinthians 3:5, “provoke” is negative. In Hebrews 10:24, “provoke” is positive. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:24–25). When boiling water is stirred (provoked), it is made to withstand great amounts of heat before beginning to boil. When Christians positively provoke one another unto love and good works, Christians can withstand greater amounts of negative provoking, or agitation, so that we are not “easily provoked.”

    Love “is not easily provoked.” We can see this tremendous characteristic in our God.  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If God were easily provoked, we would have been destroyed long ago. However, love “is not easily provoked.” Love is tempered and self-controlled.

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