Sunday, March 27, 2022

Jesus Saved Me from My Sins

By Ed Wittlif


She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 ESV).

    I didn’t grow up in a family that was godly. What I knew about Jesus I learned by watching Christmas specials on TV. I grew up a “spoiled rotten” kid, who always got what he wanted. As a result, I was very self-centered, and everything was for my wants and pleasures. I had done a lot of stuff by age twenty that I knew was wrong.

    I was looking forward to the freedom that came with reaching twenty-one. At the same time, I was beginning to realize that there might be more to life. Just what that was, I didn’t know.

    When two of my good friends got married, I started talking with the minister, which led to a series of studies. He introduced me to Jesus, and I discovered what was missing in life. I learned that I was a sinner and what that meant, and that Jesus took my punishment for me. I gratefully accepted His gift when I believed and rose from my baptism into a new life.

    By God’s grace, I am saved from the eternal consequences of my sins. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh by faith in the Son of God, who gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

    Like Paul, I have striven to live for Christ and to serve Him in His mission of reconciliation. Knowing what I was before, I am grateful and blessed to be His. I encourage you to do the same and remember what you were before you were redeemed. Never forget the cost paid for your salvation.

- Ed Wittlif is from Denver, CO; via the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. Joe Slater serves as minister and he may be contacted through the congregation's website:

A Pearl Finder

By Donna Wittlif


Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46, ESV).

    What do you want for God’s church? To put it another way, what are you willing to give up and do to make that happen? It is easy to wish for great attendance, a spiritual worship service, beautiful singing, a sermon that moves me, prayers that voice my deepest yearnings, and fellowship that lifts my spirits.

    There is a difference between “What I want from God’s church” and “What I want for God’s church. “From God’s church” suggests that a member fills a place on a pew when he feels inclined. He listens to the sermon that was preached for someone else. Perhaps he sings if he feels like it. Maybe his mind follows the words of the prayers that are said, or his thoughts may drift elsewhere.

    On the other hand, “For God’s church” implies that a member is doing something to advance God’s kingdom. He is present at every given opportunity if he can be. He teaches a class, sings with gusto, embedding the words in his heart. He eagerly hears the sermon, learning from God and searching for gems that he can use in his Christian walk. The prayers sink deep into his heart, and he also call on God’s help for the lost, the ill, and those who need help. When worship is over and he goes home, he uses what he has heard and learned to help others.

    Are we actively searching for the pearl of great price? Are we mere spectators, or are we helping God’s kingdom grow in ourselves and in others? May we bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).
- Donna Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna is also a writer of fiction. Her novels, World Eternal: Promises and World Eternal: Proselytes, and World Eternal: Perils, and her newest book, Finding Her Heart, are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. For more information visit her website.

All in All

By Edd Sterchi


    The song “You Are My All in All” has always been a favorite of mine. In part the song declares:

      You are my strength when I am weak

      You are the treasure that I seek

      You are my all in all

      Seeking You as a precious jewel

      Lord, to give up I’d be a fool

      You are my all in all

Truly Jesus should be our all in all, for He can fulfill all our needs. In speaking of Jesus, the apostle Paul stated in Col. 3:11, “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Christ is all – nothing else is needed.

    If Christ is your all in all, then why not give Him your all – all the time!
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

It’s Hard Work Being a Mom

By Kevin Rutherford

    God’s plan for mothers began with the beginning of time. God created male and female for the home so that the male could have a suitable helper, and the two of them could have 
children (Genesis 1 & 2). Eve was the first woman, the first wife, and the first mother. This first mother faced terrible tragedy in her own family because of the actions of one of her children. Cain rebelled against God and in anger murdered his brother Abel. The pain of a child rebelling against God, and then the pain of a child being killed by his own brother must have been very difficult for Eve (Genesis 4).
    Being a mother is hard work, but when a woman patterns her work as a mother after God’s will, the results of the hard work are often beautiful and wonderful. The work of leading worship in the Lord’s church is given to the male (1 Timothy 2:8-14). God has a different work for women. That work has to do with children (1 Timothy 2:15). Women are to focus on the raising of their children. Women are to continue in faith, love, and holiness with self-control even as they focus on the work of being mothers. This is not culturally current or politically correct, but this is the Word of God. When a faithful Christian woman is focused on raising her children in a godly manner she is pleasing God and she will be saved.
    It’s hard work being a mom when mothers are conscientious and want to raise their children to know and love the Lord, but what is more important than aiming your children in the direction of heaven? To accomplish this, mothers must be willing to follow God’s plan in this regard. Paul told Titus what was required for a congregation to be sound and this included specific instructions for mothers (Titus 2:4-5). Young mothers are to love their husbands and their children. This should not be hard. If they have chosen to marry godly Christian men, and if they have chosen to be godly Christian women it should not be hard for them to love their husbands. The command to love the children should be that which comes naturally. Unfortunately we live in a time when natural love such as this is not always present.
    Paul goes on to show Titus that godly mothers will be those who are discreet. The word “discreet,” translates a Greek word defined as being “of sound mind, sane, in one’s senses, curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled (Thayer, 613). Godly mothers are not foolish women. Godly mothers are sound, sane, sensible and self-controlled. This is a spiritual and mental state that is chosen by the mother in light of the immense task before her of raising children to know and love God. A mother who is discreet will naturally be chaste. A woman who is chaste is one who can be respected for her pure and behavior (Thayer 8). A woman who cannot be sensible, self-controlled, and respected for her morally pure and modest behavior needs to make some changes before she can be the kind of mother God wants her to be. 
    Perhaps the most controversial of God’s requirements for proper and effective motherhood is that of being a “homemaker” (Titus 2:5). Thayer defines the word as referring to one who is “keeping at home and taking care of household affairs (Thayer 442). Vine defines this word as “watching or keeping the home (Vine, 558). Zodhiates says it refers to one who is “a keeper at home, one who looks after domestic affairs with prudence and care (Zodhiates, 1033). Moulton says it refers to “a keeper or guard of a house; a home-keeper, stay-at-home domestic (Moulton, 285). Strong defines the word as “a stayer at home, i.e. domestically inclined (a good housekeeper); keeper at home” (Strong, 51). Various definitions and translation of the word indicate a good and godly mother is one who focuses on the home as one who guards the home. What is the mother guarding the home against? She is guarding the home against the influence of Satan and anything that may corrupt her children and turn them away from heaven. 
    Paul goes on to show Titus that sound and godly mothers are kind and good people as well. Mean women are not fit to be mothers. Cruel and selfish women will never fulfill their role as a mother in the right way unless they repent. Good and godly mothers are kind. 
    The final qualification of a godly mother listed in Titus 2 is that she is one who is submissive to her husband. The world hates what the Bible says in this regard and many Christians having been influenced by the world reject what God has said in this matter. However, God has unlimited wisdom as the Creator, and unlimited authority as the Ruler of this universe. His way is always right. His way must be followed if we are to please Him. Good mothers are submissive and obedient to their own husbands (Tits 2:5). 
    Being a good mother is hard work. Being a godly mother is exhausting. Yet, I cannot think of a more important work in the entire world. Christian mothers can raise godly children who will influence others to serve God and positively affect generations to come. Thank you godly mothers. Do not be discouraged. Keep up the good work and may God bless you!
- Kevin V. Rutherford preaches for the Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

What Love Does Not Do (I Corinthians 13:4-6)

By Brian Mitchell


    “Placing the hands of his watch on the counter, a man asked, can this be repaired?  Well, the jeweler asked, where is the rest of the watch? The man replied by saying, the rest of the watch is fine; it is the hands that don’t work. No, no, replied the jeweler, it is not the hands; it is what is on the inside that needs fixing.”

    If we are not careful it is easy for our lives to become just like that watch. Even though we may only be able to see the outward signs of the problem, in reality what really needs to be fixed is on the inside.  When Simon the Sorcerer desired to purchase the gift of laying on hands in (Acts 8), he was rebuked by Peter who rightly understood that the real root of his sin was the fact that “his heart was not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21).

    Although sin many times manifests itself with visible outward signs of disobedience to God, the real problem is not just in the sinful actions; but in the root cause of the actions themselves. It is here that there is usually a problem with one’s heart—Mt.15:16-19. So, before we can change our sinful actions, we must change what is in the heart or in the mind. 

    If we are to truly grow as a loving Christian, we need to examine what Paul has to say about love in 1 Corinthians 13. There we will see a list of both negatives and positives emerge in (vs.4-6). What these verses will show us is what one whose heart is full of love refuses to do and what they will do. As we first consider Paul’s exhortations in vs.4-6, these verses lead us to think about what is on the inside and teach us about the “Heart of a 1 Corinthians 13 Christian.” The Heart of a 1 Corinthians 13 Christian is a heart full of kindness, humility, sacrifice, forgiveness and integrity. 

    The Heart of a 1 Corinthians 13 Christian is a beautiful thing indeed. The human heart is an involuntary muscle, that is it does its work without any help from human thought. However, our spiritual hearts are much different in that they must be given constant attention. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov.4:23).  So, I guess the question for you is, Do you have the Heart of a 1 Corinthians Christian?
- 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

Monday, March 21, 2022

Salt Online

By Adam Faughn


    The Bible has a lot to say about the use of our words. Typically, we think of passages in

the book of Proverbs because that book speaks to our use of words so often. Just a sampling:

• "Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." (Proverbs 13:3)

• "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." (Proverbs 16:24)

• "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." (Proverbs 18:21)

As you likely know, there are many other verses in that book that speak to the same thing. In fact, if we would all just follow the wise words found in that one book of the Bible, many struggles would never happen or would be far more easily resolved.

    There is another verse in Scripture; however, that is my personal favorite when it comes to the use of our words. One reason is because of the word picture it draws, and another reason is that it includes a universal application. I am certainly not perfect at following it, but it is a verse I strive to have in mind at all times.

    Writing to Christians and following a verse that concerns how we deal with "outsiders" (that is, non-Christians), Paul wrote, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:6).

    Note the word "always," and, again, note that this verse is (1) to Christians and (2) follows a verse dealing with non-Christians. In other words, "always" in this verse means just that: always. Whether we are speaking, writing, or typing, our words need to be gracious, and they need to be seasoned with salt; that is, they need to be said in a way that is as pleasant to hear as possible.

    And, yes, that includes when we are using digital words. Hidden behind our social media accounts, email addresses, and cell phones, it is much

easier to let our standards slide and not really say gracious words. That is not to say that

we avoid saying some things that might be bold or clear. Gracious does not mean "weak"

or "soft." However, it does mean that we need to think of the way our words will appear to others--both Christians and non-Christians--when we type each word.

    Just as one example: Some may speak against certain political choices, especially if they feel those choices are immoral. However, is it really gracious to call politicians--who are people with souls--"stupid" or "pathetic" or other similar things?

    Examples could be multiplied and include how we talk about celebrities, the church, or anyone else. But the question we need to answer is how this will be perceived. When another person reads a text message, opens an email, or sees a social media post, will they see that it was written in a way that showed as much grace as possible? Even if it says some hard things, will it be seen that there is a clear attempt to make each word as seasoned with salt as possible?

    Here are a few questions to ask before you hit "send" or before you post:

1. Does this need to be said at all? Often, the answer is no!

2. Is this the best medium on which to say it? Should this text, instead, be a face-to-face conversation? Is this really something that needs to be published on social media for the world to see?

3. Does each word of this reflect Biblical truth? If not, am I making it clear that this is just opinion?

4. Am I talking about issues, or am I attacking people who have souls?

5. Will sharing this help or hinder me having an opportunity to share the Lord with someone now or later?

    We are stewards of all our words, no matter how they are shared. It is easy, using technology, to fall into saying things that should not be said or that should be said very differently. And we must remember that, even if we are very passionate about politics or world affairs or just personal matters, our first goal in life is not to share how we feel about everything with the world. Our first goal in life is to reach all people with the Gospel, and any word we share that could harm that needs to be avoided.

    At times, we need to show more grace. At times, we need to season our words with salt.

No ... not "at times," but "always."
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.

Make it Relevant

By Bill Brandstatter


    The cry among many believers today is "Make it relevant." They want the worship services relevant to the way society is today. They want the preaching to relate to societal problems. Is the preaching relevant? Do we have to change our worship in order to meet the needs of today's culture?

    Let us answer these concerns by a few observations. What could be more relevant to an immoral, ungodly, humanistic society than Jesus Christ and Him crucified? The message of the cross must have been related to the society of Paul's day. In some ways it was even worse than today’s society. Paul stated regarding his preaching: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16) Was Paul's preaching relevant? On another occasion Paul stated: "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." (Gal. 1 :10) Paul condemned just preaching what men wanted to hear. He also indicated he was in trouble if, in that immoral, ungodly Corinth, he didn't preach the gospel!

    When Paul preached the gospel, what did he preach? Paul was first of all consistent in what he preached. A preacher who changes with the wind is not what God wants. Notice what Paul said about himself; “For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church." (1 Cor. 4:17) Notice Paul's consistency in teaching everywhere in every church. This is also indicated in 1 Cor. 7: 17: "But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so, I ordain in all the churches." Again notice "in all churches." Paul's message was the same everywhere he went.

    We know some of what Paul taught. In Acts 19 he taught the brethren their baptism was wrong. They then obeyed the gospel. Was his preaching relevant? Was it fulfilling the needs of that day? To the church at Corinth Paul preached and "many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed, and were baptized." (Acts 18:8) Did Paul preach what was relevant?

    What could be more needed or more relevant today than the good news or gospel of Jesus Christ? To cure loneliness, we need Christ. To help broken homes, we need Christ. To help failing marriages, we need Christ. To stop murder, suicide, etc. we need Christ, not a social gospel, not a felt needs message. We need Christ. If all individuals go to worship for is to be entertained, they are going for the wrong reason. We should go to be edified and built up in the Christian faith. This will help us to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph. 6:11) If we are after entertainment, there are a lot of places to go. If we want to be built up spiritually, we need to worship God. The worship needs to be such as pleases Him. If worship is done decently and in order and not spontaneous and unexpected, God will be pleased (John 4:23,24;1 Cor. 14:33). If Christ is preached, and the gospel taught the message will be relevant. If this occurs Christians should be strengthened and become more faithful as a result.

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

Cows And Christians

By Joe Slater


    A city slicker bought a farm and moved into the farmhouse. He went to his new neighbor and asked if he might purchase a milk cow. The neighbor sold him his prize milk cow, and the city slicker happily took the cow to the barn on his farm.

    Within three weeks the cow went dry. The city slicker returned to his neighbor and complained: “That milk cow you sold me is no good!” The astonished neighbor replied, “What do you mean?” The city slicker explained: “She has gone dry! I can’t understand it, either. If ever a person was kind and considerate to an animal, I was to that cow. If I didn’t need any milk, I didn’t milk her. If I needed only a quart, I took only a quart.” The neighbor then explained that the way to keep milk flowing wasn’t to take as little as possible from the cow, but to take as much as possible.

    Isn’t that true of the life of a Christian? Like milk cows, we must keep giving on order to keep the flow of Christianity alive. We are to give of our time, our talent, and our treasure. If we give of these things only when an extraordinary need arises, we miss the opportunities and joys of day-to-day service.

    In the case of the milk cow, there is always a need for more milk. Not everyone has a full stomach. All over the world there are hungry people. Besides, the “use it or lose it” factor is obvious. Likewise, there is always more to do in the Lord’s kingdom. There are classes to be taught, discouraged people to be encouraged, sick and homebound people to be visited or called or written to, missionaries to be supported and encouraged, lost friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors to be contacted, and a world full of people to be prayed for. If we are content to do only a tiny bit, we may end up doing nothing at all. On the other hand, if we will give and give of our time, talent, and treasure, God will supply every need and give us additional opportunities to glorify Him and bless other people’s lives.

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

Gummi Bear Religion

By Edd Sterchi


    Many today have the wrong impression about what to expect from worship. They want to be entertained by mechanical instrumental music, praise bands, choirs, solos, drama presentations, non-condemning sermons, etc. They are willing to accept something that is unauthorized in worship so that they may be amused. Paul called it “itching ear” religion (2 Tim. 4:3). I call it Gummi Bear religion.

    You know what Gummi Bears are, don’t you? They area sweet candy treat that is quite cute and colorful. Kids seem to really love them. Personally, I never have been too crazy about them. Oh, I like the way they taste, but they seem to stick to my teeth a lot. My grandchildren would easily make a meal out of them if their parents would let them. But that would not be good for them, as there is practically no nutritional value in them.

    Gummi Bear religion may be very pleasing to the eyes, ears, and other senses, but it is woefully lacking in spiritual nourishment. Just as a steady diet of Gummi Bears would cause one to become sick and malnourished, so will Gummi Bear religion cause one’s soul to starve to death. The Corinthians had changed the Lord’s Supper from a God-honoring event toa man-pleasing one. As a result, Paul told them that many in the congregation were spiritually weak, sick, and some even dead (1 Cor.11:30). And the Hebrew Christians, because of a lack of proper diet of God’s word, were not properly developed in knowledge or skills (Heb.5:12-13).

    Rather than picking and choosing the way we want to live and worship, we should strive for a well-balanced diet of using God’s word to guide our lives in wisdom, work, and worship (Heb. 5:14).  It is only then will we give glory to God and create an environment where our souls will grow, mature, and prosper (2 Pet. 3:18).

    Gummi Bears may be yummy to eat from time to time, but our meals, physical or spiritual, should never be patterned after them.

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:


By David A. Sargent


    Mark Roberts once shared a phenomenon that he witnessed while on a trip with his family:

    Years ago, my family and I visited Sequoia National Park in California. The highlight of this trip was seeing the Giant Sequoia redwoods, after which the park is named.  These trees are awe-inspiring, both for their beauty and their size.  The largest redwood in the national park is the General Sherman tree, which towers above the forest at 275 feet in height.  It is also 25 feet in diameter, with an estimated age over 2500 years.

    As my family and I ambled among the giant redwoods, drinking in their exceptional elegance, I noticed a teenaged boy walking along with his family.  His eyes were transfixed, not by the trees, but rather by his Game Boy device. (Today, it would be his smartphone.)  He was engaged in some sort of video game that demanded his full attention.

    I was both fascinated and distressed by this boy’s apparent unawareness of the extraordinary beauty all around him, so I continued to look his way every now and then throughout our tour of the big trees.  Sure enough, as near as I could tell, he never once lifted his eyes to gaze upon some of the most beautiful and astounding of God’s creations.*

    T.S. Eliot was correct when he stated that we are a people “distracted by distraction.”  Distractions can cause us to miss out on beautiful scenes and important matters.  Distraction can also lead to tragedy – just ask those who have been involved in car accidents because they were looking at their phones.

    There are many things in the world that can distract us from those things that are beautiful and important.  Just watch the news.  Big things, little things.  Global impacts, local events.  Myriad are the things which can capture our attention.

    In a world full of distractions, God calls us to look to and follow His Son: “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB).

    There are many things – even many important things – upon which we can focus our attention today.  But there should be one main focus: Jesus.  Why?  Because only Jesus provides the abundant life now and eternal life to come (John 3:16; 10:10).

    God will save and give eternal life to those who focus on Jesus by placing their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and by being baptized (immersed) into Him for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  Then, those that continue to focus on Jesus by following His Word are continually cleansed from sin by His blood (1 John 1:7-9).

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace

-- Helen H. Lemmel

Don’t get distracted.  Fix your eyes on Jesus and follow Him.  You will be blessed eternally.

- 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:
* From Mark D. Roberts, Life for Leaders, a Devotional Resource of the DePree Leadership Center at Fuller Theological Seminary as quoted in

Monday, March 14, 2022

Out Of The Darkness

By Al Behel


    Many people live in darkness. Lonely...isolated...afraid. Never sure whether it is safe, of if they can face the light. Some suffer from the devastating emotional effects of serious mental impairments. Sometimes children will ask, “What’s wrong with me? Why do I act the way I do?” They are locked in a mind that even disturbs them.

    A young man thanked me for diagnosing him with Asperger’s Syndrome. Finally, his social and emotional difficulties made sense to his exceptionally bright, but troubled mind. Another young man came back years later just to say, “thank you for giving me my life back.” His brain had been derailed by drugs and he lived in his own prison. He had been freed of his demon.

    There is a greater darkness than that which is created by a disturbed mind. Sin darkens the soul and spirit and imprisons its victims in insidious and disastrous ways. Many people who live in their prisons have no concept of how dark the darkness really is. They have forgotten the light. They have acclimated to the shadows. Some are afraid of the light...or, maybe they have come to love the darkness because it hides their evil hearts and deeds.

    We don’t have to stay in darkness. God takes us out of the “dominion of darkness” and transfers us into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Peter, who struggled with his own fears and anger issues, said God “called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9). Jesus came to destroy the power of the darkness. He is the Light who dispels the darkness (John 12:46)

    Those who come out of the darkness see things differently. They see others differently. They see sin differently. They see clearly the beauty of their world and the potential the Light reveals to them. In the Light they can truly love because they are loved. They can forgive because they have been forgiven. They can sing because they now see the glory of God. Jesus said it clearly, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12)

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

Stopping Isn’t Enough

By Adam Faughn


    A Mazda dealership in the Seattle, Washington area has encountered a very weird issue. Their used cars (models from 2014-2017) are all experiencing the same issue: the radio stations will not change from one station, and they are all stuck on the same radio station! (Even worse, it is not even a good 80s music station; it is a local NPR outlet. Yikes!)

    It seems that the signal from the NPR station is doing something to basically overwhelm the technology in the vehicles and will not allow the stations to be changed. After a time, the "infotainment center" reboots, and the problem starts all over again.

    Now, there is one solution to the problem that would seem to be an obvious fix: turn off the radio! After all, it cannot bother you with this problem if it is not powered on in the first place.

    For the short term, that solution makes sense. It would keep this annoying issue from happening, especially over and over. It would probably calm a few nerves if nothing else.

    We all know, however, that just turning off the radio will not have actually fixed the problem. Whatever it takes to fix this issue, it seems, will have to come from the radio station and the company that runs the technology behind these vehicle's "infotainment centers." Eventually, that technology will have to be worked out so that the drivers can once again listen to something other than NPR (like good 80s music).

    Is there a spiritual application from this very strange story? I think there is one that we know on an intellectual level but sometimes struggle to put into practice. Jesus taught it in one of His more unique stories:

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also, will it be with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45)

    That story deserves a lot of attention, but for our purposes, notice just one simple fact. The person in the story did a good thing by sweeping and cleaning the "house" of their heart. Still, the spirit returned, and things ended up worse.

    Why? They did not fix the root problem by replacing the bad with the good! Just as it would be a short-term fix for those cars just to turn off the radio, so it is a good short-term help to get rid of evil things in our lives. However, if we do not get at the root of the problem and if we do not replace the bad with the good, the issue will never truly be resolved, and things could even end up worse than before.

    What in my life do I need to be rid of? Beyond that, however, what steps do I need to take--such as deeper Bible study, more faithful worship attendance, or fervent prayer--to replace the bad with so that I am better prepared to face temptations when they come?

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.

It’s Not About Fish

By Joe Chesser


    Most all of us have told stories about fishing. If not we have at least heard fish stories. And probably most of them have been exaggerated at least a bit, haven’t they. But it’s hard to beat the fish stories in the Bible ... and they are not exaggerated! For example, the story of Jonah, or finding a coin in a fish’s mouth to pay taxes (Matthew 17).

    Have you ever gone fishing and ended up with two boat loads of fish so heavy the boats were sinking?  That’s what happened to professional fishermen Peter, Andrew, James and John after fishing all night and getting skunked (Luke 5.1-11). A similar thing happened sometime later when Peter and a few friends went fishing all night and caught nothing. Someone from the shore called out to them, “”Cast your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They did, and ended up with 153 large fish so heavy they had a difficult time hauling them to shore (John 21.1-14).

    That someone was Jesus. In both of these last two stories Jesus told the experienced fishermen to cast their nets once again into the sea. Even though Jesus was a carpenter turned preacher and not a fisherman, Peter, who was a professional fisherman, cast his nets into the sea once again just because Jesus told him to do so. “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5.5).

    As exciting and entertaining as these fish stories are in their own right, these stories are not about fish. They are merely the means to help us see the incredible and amazing power of God over nature. God created a fish large enough to swallow Jonah, keep him alive for three days, and then spit him up on the beach. Incredible! God put a specific Roman coin in a specific fish’s mouth for Peter to catch on his first try so he could pay his taxes. Wow! Because the fishermen took Jesus at his word, the boats became overloaded with fish. All of these fish stories go far beyond natural law. They are so far beyond what’s normal that many skeptics question their authenticity. These skeptics fail to see and believe that these stories are not about fish, they are about God.

    It makes me wonder how many other “natural” events in our lives are like these fish stories. How many times have we been in just the right place at just the right time to receive something special (a job opportunity; a discount; help with a flat tire; a new friend; etc.)? Was it luck, or was it God? Was it “natural” or was it Providence? The word “providence” is not found in Scripture, but concept of Providence can be seen throughout the Bible for those who are open to see it. What Peter saw when his nets and boats were filled with fish helped him see Jesus as the Lord and himself as a sinner: “I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5.8). Because of the fish Peter saw the Lord. Because he saw the Lord, Jesus called him to become a fisher of men (Luke 5.10).

    What are these fish stories telling you? Are you more impressed with the abundance of blessings God gives you, or that they are calling you for a higher purpose?

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

What Makes You Strong?

By Ron Thomas


    The answers vary but hear the Lord: “If thou faint in the day of adversity, Thy strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10, ASV). The practical application of this means I need to find something strong that I can wrap my arms around and hold on to when the tempestuous storm comes roaring through.

    One’s strength comes from one of two sources. It comes from man’s creation, or it comes from a source outside himself. If it is of man’s creation, then whatever value there is in the gaining of the strength found or created, what works today may not work tomorrow.

    I heard a story years ago of a man who wrote down all the powerful anecdotal thoughts he heard, knowing one day they would benefit him as he leafed through them in times of need or interest. The years came and went and, as it happens with all of us, what he thought in yesteryear was not the same as he was thinking on the day when he was leafing through his collected anecdotal thoughts from others. Realizing this, he threw all those anecdotal remarks away. There had to be a reason for it, wasn’t there?

    There was. It’s called the maturation of life. At 61, the wisdom I felt I had at 31 is gone. At 31, we had two girls at home and in school, I was serving in the United States Air Force (Idaho), and my wife was teaching elementary school on the Air Force Base (Mountain Home). At 61, with four grandchildren, in our physical home, there is only me and my wife. With 38 years of marriage, what I think now is different from what I thought then.

    It should be this way for everyone. After these many years of marriage, I look at my wife as my strength in the family setting; whatever strength she receives from me will be in the same family setting. Our strength is the Lord. He is the only One to whom we will give an account when my life is over.

    I want to be sure I hold on to Him in my many days of adversity. Is your strength small? If so, that is because you give up on the day of adversity.

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

How the Church Can Prosper Today

By Brian Mitchell


  As has been said before “sometimes to get to where we want to be, we need to remember where we came from.” This, I think, is especially true in striving to be the kind of church that God wants us to be. To figure out what God expects of us as His people, and how we can be successful at meeting God’s expectations it can be very beneficial for us to go back to the beginning of the church. So that we can find out: what kind of people the early Christians were, what kind of activities they busied themselves with and how they were successful at meeting the challenges of Christianity.

  To answer these questions, we must go back to the NT book of Acts. It is there in Acts ch.2 that we read of the establishment of the Church on the Day of Pentecost, just as had been prophesied by the OT prophets. While there are many things that we could say about the beginning of the church, 2 things in particular stand out as being especially relevant to the topic under consideration today—How the Church can prosper today. The Church was established through the preaching of the gospel. The Church grew because people with honest hearts, who were seeking the truth, obeyed the gospel. When it comes to the growth of the church today, these are two factors which can easily be duplicated by faithful Christians and those seeking the truth.

   With the combination of these two factors, the Church experienced an explosive beginning and tremendous early growth. Wayne Jackson reports in His commentary on Acts “that by the close of the first century there were approximately 100,000 Christians in the city of Rome alone.” This is a staggering statistic, but it leads me to a conclusion that I have long held. If we will be as faithful in fulfilling our duties, as the 1st century Christians were in theirs, then we will once again begin to see the kind of growth that they did.

    Is the Church as prosperous today, as she clearly was in the beginning? How do we know? Material things cannot be the standard by which we measure the progress of the church—Rev.3:15:17. Neither can be success be measured by the opinions of humans, for they are unreliable at best—Rev.3:1. So how do we know if we are striving or dying? We can measure ourselves against the successes and failures of the early church.

    To do that we need simply to go back to the book of Acts and examine the early disciples of Christ, and how being Christians changed their lives, and as a result of living their faith, changed the world in which they lived. While we certainly have a large cultural gap between Jerusalem in the first century and the world in which we live today. I am convinced that if we will strive to reproduce some of the essential factors critical for a growing and thriving church to exist, then I believe that we can be every bit as successful today in winning this world to Christ, as they were nearly 2,000 years ago. 

- 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

Monday, March 7, 2022

Seeking God

By Ron Bartanen


     No one finds God by accident.  God’s word declares, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).  These words were given by God through His prophet, Jeremiah to the nation of Judah, a people who had broken covenant with God, despising His laws and going after other gods.  They were a people destined to be captives of foreign powers for centuries to come.  They had ignored the stern warnings of Jeremiah, and prior prophets, heeding only those who spoke comforting words.  However, they were not left without hope.  God would not utterly forsake His people.  If, through their sufferings, their hearts could be turned back to God, to seek Him once more, He would again be willing to receive them.  It would have to be, however, with “all your heart.”

     While this promise was spoken collectively to a nation, obviously it could never become a reality until those within the nation individually responded to God’s call.  In making application to us, conditions in our nation are becoming alarmingly similar to conditions in Judah just before their destruction.  A people who once affirmed themselves to be “one nation under God” have effectively sought to confine Him within the walls of church buildings.  His laws are now regarded as archaic, and to try to uphold them is to invite charges of bigotry and hate.  As a nation, like Judah , we have lost God.   Our prayers and efforts should be to call men back to God, urging that all seek Him, for “He is not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27).

     But how may we seek Him? While much could be said in answer to this question, one is basic.  We cannot seek and find God apart from His word.  They would seek in vain who would rather trust the words of philosophers, cult-leaders, or even preachers that claim to speak for God apart from God’s word.  Even those in the city of Berea that questioned the apostle Paul’s preaching were declared noble, for “they searched the scriptures daily (to see) whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).  True preachers of the word will not contradict Scripture, which is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:;16-17).    When Satan, the master of deception, lures us from the standard of Scripture, man is left with the words of those who would speak “contrary to the doctrine” the apostles taught, and who “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).  In seeking God with our whole heart, may we be reminded that God’s eternal and infallible word has not ceased being a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path (Psalms 119:105).  He is wise who will read it, study it, believe it, and obey it.  “Seek the LORD while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6). 

- 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:

Show Your Colors

By Gerald Cowan


    God placed a mark on Cain that made him immediately recognizable (Gen. 4:15). We do not know what the mark was and it is pointless and idle to speculate. Sometimes the actions and activities of people leave marks that make them recognizable to others. For example: tobacco, alcohol, and other noxious drugs identify their users by sight and smell, and in other ways too. I wonder, would it be good for us if there were some universal mark or sign that would identify and declare every feeling, attitude, and intention – something that would immediately and accurately reveal what a person really is? What sign could be flexible and adaptable enough for the purpose? Color might serve such a purpose adequately.

    We already use color to express a wide variety of ideas. The flag (often called “the colors”) is an identifiable symbol of the nation. When we say that some person “showed his true colors” we mean he revealed his true nature. “Traveling under false colors” is hypocrisy, deceit, disguise – pretending to be something or someone else. The request to “show your colors” means “identify yourself, declare yourself and your intention.” Colors can also symbolize conditions or intended actions. For example: a red flag means danger or stop. Amber means caution. Green means safety, or go. Flying special colors from a ship’s mast can indicate activity. Example: “Under colors as if to cast anchors from the bow” (Acts 27:30). We use colors to express moods, feelings, or attitudes. Pink for pleasure, red for embarrassment or shame (Ezra 9:6), white for fear, gray for anxiety, yellow for cowardice, green for jealousy or lust, blue for loneliness, purple for anger or rage or passion, brown for depression or gloom, and black for hatred or despair.

    It might be good if we actually changed color as our mood or attitude changed, or when we intended to do certain things. There would be no deceit,  no hiding of the truth from each other. Just think how easily a preacher could monitor the audience’s reaction to his sermons. The angry ones would turn purple, the pleased would be pink, the frightened would be pale white, the discouraged or depressed would be brown. What color would show up in the resentful? What color do you suppose the murderers of Stephen would have been when they stopped up their ears, gnashed their teeth, and stoned him to death (Acts 7:57-58). For that matter, what color would apply to those who crucified Jesus Christ? Color them insane. Suppose that when you questioned a person he turned true blue when he told the truth, or perhaps blushed red for shame when he lied. Of course some feel no shame about their lies and mistakes or their bad behavior (Jer. 8:12), and some have seared and scarred their own conscience so they can “lie with a straight face” – no blushing. But if the change of color was immediate and involuntary and consistent, then the truth or the lie would always be apparent and verifiable.

    Let’s go a bit further with it. Suppose one actually turned green when he lusted for something he shouldn’t have, or when he envied the things of others. How would it be if one’s true feelings showed in his face each time he looked at a person of another race, nationality, social or economic position: black with hatred, gray with anxiety or distrust, yellow with fear, etc. What color would best illustrate love, concern, appreciation, interest, and sincerity? Perhaps clear or transparent, for guileless. I suppose indecision or uncertainty might appear as striped, checked, or mottled – but that would be helpful too.

    No doubt you’ve been thinking that all of this is a bit far-fetched and unrealistic. It doesn’t happen, and isn’t going to happen. So color us all relieved. But the attitudes, feelings, and intentions are real even if the colors are not. Sometimes they are expressed in ways that can be monitored: the look in the eyes, the set of the chin or the body; perhaps there is a verbal response. But whether expressed or not, they are present; they are real; they must be dealt with. Some attitudes are wrong, no matter how well hidden they may be: such things as pride (Prov. 16:18), prejudice (James 2:9), jealousy and lust (Mt. 5:27 and James 4:2), hatred (1 John 2:9 and 4:20), etc. But because we are often able to keep them hidden from others we do not feel much pressure about correcting the wrong ones or strengthening those which are right and proper.

    Someday, in the judgment of God, we will show our true colors – they will actually be displayed for us, whether we want it or not. We may be surprised at what we see in ourselves. “We must all be made manifest” (our lives revealed fully and displayed openly) before our Judge (2 Cor. 5:10 ASV). Some will say, “Lord, Lord we did not know.” (Mt. 7:21-22 and 22:41-46), but it will not change anything then.

    If I could choose the color I would want all of us to be it would be pure white: “washed and made white (pure, righteous, blameless) in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14).
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at

All Authority

By David A. Sargent


    Ken Klaus wrote about an experience that taught him a valuable lesson:

    A year or two ago a friend offered me a ride in his custom Corvette. That machine was beautiful to look at, impressive to sit in. Riding a few inches off the ground, my friend put that contraption through its paces.

    In first gear I was thrown back into the seat. In second gear it felt like the G-force was stretching my face, just like that of the astronauts during a blastoff. In third gear we blew by an 18-wheeler like he was standing still.  It was fantastic!

    Then, when we were doing about 1,000 miles an hour (I may be exaggerating there), we came up on a parked police vehicle. The Vette slowed down. The 18-wheeler slowed down. Everybody slowed down. And that's the point. That Vette had POWER! That 18-wheeler, with a full load and a big diesel engine, had POWER!

    But now that parked police car....., it had AUTHORITY!

    There are in this world a great many groups, individuals and organizations that have POWER. They have the financial, political or logical clout to impress us, seduce us and intimidate us.  But when it comes to AUTHORITY, that's different. *

    Satan has power. “His power lies in his ability to deceive. When we fall for his deceptions, we give him authority over our lives and he takes us captive” (Rob Chaffart). Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). And, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

    But Christ has power AND authority!  He demonstrated these attributes throughout His earthly ministry by His miracles. His most astounding expression of power and authority was demonstrated when He died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected from the dead three days later. By His death, burial, and resurrection, He defeated Satan (cf. Hebrews 2:14) and made our redemption possible! “For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14).

    In order to receive salvation and the gift of eternal life, we must submit our lives to the Authority of Christ by placing our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Then as we continue to submit to His authority in obedience to His will, His blood will continue to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:7).

    There is power, but then there is power and authority! Jesus has both! 

    In fact, He has “ALL authority” (Matthew 28:18) and He is “the head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:10). Therefore, He – and only He – has the power and authority to give you victory over sin and death!

    Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and life by submitting to His authority?
- 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:
* From “Power and Authority” by Ken Klaus as quoted in (site operated by Rob Chaffart).

Three Crosses of Calvary

By Al Behel


    Golgotha. Calvary. “The Place of the Skull.” That’s where they crucified Jesus. After the mockery of a trial, he was compelled to carry his own cross until the soldiers commanded a bystander to take it from him. Crosses often lined the roads into cities as executions were publicly carried out. The crowd gathered to see this “King of the Jews” die.

    On each side of him was a criminal, also condemned to die that day, probably as a matter of convenience. In the middle was the cross of Jesus. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t of polished wood. It was made of rough timbers and may have been used many times before. The blood of many criminals had likely stained it to the core. There was nothing special about the cross itself. It was a place of death. But this time it was different. The Son of God would die on it that day. Killed by men he had created on a piece of wood he had made.

    The other crosses were much the same as this one. But, those dying there were very different. They were described as “criminals” who deserved to die. They stood side by side with the cross of Jesus. One was a cross of Rebellion. “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us’ ” (Luke 23:39). Dying for crimes he had committed, this criminal used his last moments to ridicule Jesus.

    The other cross was different. It was a cross of Repentance. This criminal saw himself as he was and knew his eternal destiny. He rebuked the first criminal, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Then Jesus said to him, ’Assuredly, I say to you, Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” He was moved to repentance and received a blessing from the Lord.

    The third cross, the cross of Jesus, is a cross of Redemption and Salvation. In his death he brought eternal life to us. He “bore our sins in his body on the tree” (I Peter 2:22, 24). His cross is what matters. His cross makes all the difference. In that cross He paid our debt (redemption) and made possible our salvation from eternal destruction. Let’s cling to that cross!
- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Live Dangerously!

By Joe Chesser


    Did that grab your attention? The following quote is from an article I read by Sherman Cox:

 “Dream dangerously.  We currently live among a generation of people whose dreams are too realistic to do the world any good.”

    This article challenged preachers to stand apart from the crowd by preaching what their hearers needed, not what they wanted to hear.  Cox compared many of today’s preachers to Esau, who sold his birthright for something that would only satisfy the moment – a bowl of soup!  Preaching that makes you feel good at the moment requires no courage or risk. Anybody can help people be what they already are. It’s a cautious way to live.  Everybody loves to feel good, to feel that everything is OK, to think that they are at peace with God.  But like the prophet Jeremiah wrote, many are crying “‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).  The Lord said that in the end they will “fall among the fallen” because they are no longer “ashamed of their loathsome conduct.” In fact, “they do not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:15).

    But preachers who dream about truly helping the lost to be transformed into the likeness of God are those who, like Jeremiah, are willing to dream and live dangerously.  They have the courage to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.  It is ironic that it is in living dangerously that true and eternal peace can be found.

    However, living dangerously is not only for preachers. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).  If you thought being a Christian was going to be easy, you were greatly mistaken. Satan hates those who have chosen to live for God, and he is committed to do everything within his power to make it difficult for you stay faithful to God.  He schemes (Eph. 6:11); he prowls like a lion (1 Peter 5:8); he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14); he want to make you as miserable as possible (Job 1-2).  He will turn your friends and family against you.  He will take your money and health.  He will make it difficult for you at work or school or home.  He will temp you with anything and everything he thinks might work. To stand up against him is a struggle (Eph. 6:12).  It’s a fight for life.  It truly is a dangerous way to live.

    Without God’s help it would not only be dangerous, it would be impossible.  Without the power of the blood of Jesus we could never be forgiven and separated from the kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13-14).  Without the battle equipment God gives we could never stand up against Satan (Eph. 6:10-17).  Without the fruit of the Spirit we could never grow into the likeness of God (Gal. 5:22-25).  Without the resurrection of Jesus we would be hopeless (1 Cor. 15:12-19).  “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:58).  By living dangerously we are set apart from the world Satan controls; by living dangerously we gain the victory!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at