Sunday, January 28, 2024

Garbage In, Garbage Out

By Joe Chesser
      In the early days of computing, the expression “Garbage In, Garbage” (GIGO) became popular. In the rare case that you are unfamiliar with the expression, it basically means that flawed or incorrect information entered in a computer cannot produce anything but flawed or incorrect results. The first known use of GIGO was in a 1957 syndicated newspaper article about US Army mathematicians and their work with early computers. Army Specialist William Mellin explained that since computers cannot think for themselves, sloppy programming inevitably leads to incorrect outputs. (see the Wikipedia article for specific references to these facts).
      Even though we humans, unlike computers, do have brains and can think for ourselves, we don’t always choose to do it very well. The sad truth is that, while we do have the capability of logic and reason, our thinking processes are heavily influenced by the information we allow to shape and influence our reasoning. That can be a good thing, if the information we allow to influence us is good and wholesome. But unfortunately, much of what we choose to let enter our thoughts will lead us away from God, not toward Him.
      This kind of evil influence began way back at the beginning of time with Adam and Eve when they allowed Satan to deceive them into distrusting and disobeying God. Since then his evil influence has permeated the entire human world. Just a few generations after Adam and Eve, during the days of Noah, “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6.5). From that point until this very moment, Satan has been successfully influencing our minds with all kinds of evil influences (movies, TV, internet, books, clothing styles, drugs, alcohol, advertisements, greed, jealousy, peer pressure, etc.). Thus the truth of GIGO. The things (garbage) we allow Satan to put into our minds will only lead us to sin which separates us from God (Isaiah 59.1-2).
      The good news is that we can, if we choose, have a lot of control over what we allow to influence us. God gives us that choice. God gives us the ability to intentionally decide to fill our heads with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Philippians 4.8a). I know this because the rest of that verse issues the challenge: “if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4.8b). Instead of fillings our heads with garbage, there are plenty of true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable things that we can choose to think about IF we want to. IF you will, you can consistently fill your minds with these kinds of things. IF you do, the results will be awesome! When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he resisted whatever Satan put before him because he had previously filled his mind with the Scriptures, good things from God (Matthew 4.1-11).
      Despite what comedian Flip Wilson claimed back in the 70s, the devil cannot make you do anything. It may seem like it at times. The devil’s influence can seem overwhelmingly powerful. Yet, we need to remember that God has placed restraints on how much and how far Satan is allowed to tempt us: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10.13). What a powerful promise from our  faithful God!!
      God gives us a choice. We can fill our heads with garbage, or we can fill our heads with things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable.
      The choice is yours. The results are predictable. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil heart produces evil” (Luke 6.45).

- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at

An Advance

By David A. Sargent
    Andy Cook has written about something that may not be widely known about golfer Harvey Penick.
    Millions of golfers know the name of Harvey Penick. His first book, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, became a surprising best-seller, selling more than 1 million copies in 1992, quickly earning the title of the best-selling sports book of all time.
    But by the time Penick even showed his notes – the genesis for his book – to a local writer, he was nearly 90 years old. Penick wanted to know if the book was worth publishing. The writer read it and told him he liked the book. In fact, by the next evening, the same man left word with Penick’s wife that Simon & Schuster had agreed to an advance of $90,000.
    When the writer saw Penick later, the old man seemed troubled. Finally, Penick came clean. With all his medical bills, he said, there was no way he could advance Simon & Schuster that much money. It took a while, but finally the writer convinced Penick that the publisher would pay him the $90,000 . . . not the other way around!
    Andy Cook makes this application: What a joy to realize that instead of needing to pay God an insurmountable bill for sins already committed, God has decided to give us the priceless gift of grace – our sins are already paid for, in full. *
    It’s true.  Our sins cause us to be indebted to God with “an insurmountable bill” that we could never pay with our own resources.
    So God paid our debt for us.  He gave His one and only Son Jesus to die for our sins on the cross to pay the price for our redemption (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).
    “He [Jesus] is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2 ESV).
    Our debt of sin has been paid, in full, by Jesus.  However, we must accept His payment for our sins through our trusting obedience.
    God will save from 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).
“He paid a debt He did not owe
I owe a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
‘Amazing Grace’ all day long
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”
-- Author Unknown
    Your debt has been paid.  Enjoy the benefits of the salvation and life that Jesus has made possible, by accepting His offer on His terms.

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:

Source: By Andy Cook, citing Leadership Journal, Fall 1995, as shared in illustrations on “grace,”

Worship _________

By Adam Faughn
    How do you describe what we do when we gather on Sundays? I suppose that most of the time, we just say that we are "going to worship" or that those are our "worship times."
    But if you had to put a word after the word "worship" to describe what we do, what word would you choose? Probably, the main way we would fill in that blank would be to use the word "service." We might even announce that it is time for us to begin our worship service. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with that. It is an accurate term for what we are doing, as worship is meant to be in service to our heavenly Father.
    But I want to suggest another word that means a lot to me, and that might further help us focus on what we are doing.
    For about seven years, I worked with Andy Kizer in Haleyville, Alabama. He meant a lot to me as a very young man trying to learn the ins-and-outs of local ministry. Outside of my own family, he is likely the man whom I would consider my "mentor" in the ministry.
   One thing that he used to say then--and still does--is in describing worship. It is not that he never said "worship service." He would from time-to-time. But it was not his main way of describing these periods of time. Instead, the vast majority of the time, he would refer to them as "worship privileges." If you think about it, that is actually quite profound.
    To be allowed to worship the almighty God of the universe and to know how to do so in a way that pleases and honors Him truly is a privilege. We should not be allowed in His presence, but He seeks such (cf. John 4:23-24). We would never know how to approach Him in a pleasing way, but He has clearly told us how to do so and that He delights when we do. What a privilege!
    For various reasons, though, we sometimes struggle or even fail to see worship for the privilege it is. We treat it as common. We decide other things are more important. We want to change how it is done. We are present physically but a million miles away mentally. We would rather stare at Facebook than sing to the Father. We find mundane things of this world more interesting than the glory of worshiping God.
    When we act in these types of ways, it is obvious that we are not seeing worship for the true privilege it is. But, oh, how we should! To come before God should humble us deeply.
To know we can please Him as we do should cause us great joy. And to be allowed to do so each week should cause us to realize what an amazing privilege worship truly is.
    It is a worship service. There is no doubt about that. But may we never forget that it is also a worship privilege and reverently treat these times as such.

- 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

Let Christ and God Be Seen in Us

By Gerald Cowan
No perfect mirror now exists
To show the Savior’s mind and heart
Or picture perfectly the God
Who, in him,  from the very start
Showed us Himself in word and deed.
Then, by the Holy Spirit’s art
A sacrifice was offered that 
Grace and salvation would impart.
In Jesus Christ we can see God;
In him we see our Father’s face.
In him we see the God of love,  
Of mercy, joy, and peace and grace
Who knows and meets our ev’ry need. 
Our ev’ry loss He will replace. 
In him we see what we should be;  
Our human lot he did embrace.
There is no doubt, no doubt at all
That God our Father wants to see
His Christ in us, His Son our Lord.
Redeemed and sanctified and free,
With all entanglements of sin
Removed from us. Secure to be, 
And anchored by a perfect hope
That stretches to eternity.
There also is no doubt that those 
Who know from Christ we take our name
Should never see or hear in us 
What may bring Him reproach or shame.
Do not misrepresent the Lord, 
Lest for our sins He get the blame.   
Instead make sure all see in us
The good that will enhance His fame.

- 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

Are You a Radical?

By Ron Bartanen
    Are you a radical? We hear that word a lot on the news lately.  It is usually applied to parents who speak out for their children at school board meetings when they object to their children being subjected to indoctrination into perverse sexual lifestyles or other liberal political views.  We hear it also being applied to those concerned about the slaughter of babies in their mothers’ wombs.  To be accused of radicalism is demeaning, some even accusing such “radicals” as being “potential terrorists.”  Such are even accused of being a threat to democracy and need to be censored on social media and silenced.  It seems the more radical a godless society becomes in one direction, the more radical their opponents appear.
    Should such “radicals” hide their face in shame?  Should we keep our convictions to ourselves lest we be branded as “extremists”—a synonym for some “radicals”? Should we no longer be seen praying near an abortion facility? Should parents let government schools seek to transgender their children, normalizing sexual perversion?  Should we agree with those who claim the government knows better than parents as to how to raise and train their children?
    In answer to these questions, we need to see the meaning of the word “radical.”  The word is derived from the Latin word latinus, meaning, having roots.  Radishes bear their name from the fact that they are a root-vegetable.  With that understanding, we are better able to use the word correctly.  Our roots are our ideologies, whether good or bad.  Our nation was founded by radicals.  Radicals started the Revolutionary War as they warred against England’s tyranny.  Slavery was abolished in our country as a few radicals were willing to stand up in defense of liberty for all, regardless of the pigment of one’s skin.  Two world wars were fought by nations defending their radical concepts—liberty vs. tyranny.  We are now seeing two radicalisms in conflict in the Mideast with the news of Iranian Hamas slaughtering innocents in Jerusalem.  One side has roots in the Muslim Koran, that calls for the killing of Jews, while the state of Israel is rooted in a radical ideology of equal rights for all.
    In the Old Testament Israel had adopted the idolatry of their pagan neighbors, abandoning their relationship with God.  To them, the prophets that God called were the radicals as they called the nation back to God.  As the early godliness of the nation weakened in a depraved environment, the idolatrous and depraved counterculture was strengthened.  Reality reversed into deception.  What was good was esteemed to be evil, and what was once recognized as evil was seen as good (Isaiah 5:20).
    Where are our roots?  Our roots are wherever our ideologies abide.  Are our roots so deeply planted in this world that we are comfortable with the world’s standards?  Is tolerance chosen over resistance to evil in our culture? Is our voice silenced from speaking the truth lest we “offend” someone? After all, we don’t want to be tagged as another radical right-winger—do we?  Tell that to the apostles, who were forbidden by authorities to cease speaking in the name of Jesus, who bravely responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). To fear the forces of evil at work in our society is to empower them.  As Christians, we are called upon by scripture to be “bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:2), remembering that Jesus is “the lion of the tribe of Judah”.  As New Testament believers, disciples and apostolic messengers of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), let us look to them as examples for our loyalty to the root of our lives—Jesus Christ and His word.  In other words, dare to be a radical.  Wear the title as a badge of honor.  

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. After the passing of his beloved wife, Doris, Ron has relocated from Illinois to Florida where he is near family. He may be contacted at:

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Frustration and Faith

By Brian Mitchell


    We can learn something about faith if we see the full dimensions of the emphasis on "things not seen." This is not a very popular part of Christianity because we would like to have assurances each day that faith "works." Some people seek these assurances in the form of economic benefits. Thus, we are told that faith produces dividends in the form of new jobs, great bargains, and improved social life. For others, the constant assurances come in the form of peace of mind and in the absence of frustration and suffering. While it is true that there is "joy in believing" there is something very faithless about building our faith on tangible assurances.

    In Hebrews, faith can involve both frustration and suffering because it rests on "things not seen." The author indicates the frustration of faith twice in chapter 11. In verse 13, he summarizes the experience of all of the heroes of faith. "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, . ." In verse 39, after surveying history, the author says, "And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised."

    Faith, as these examples suggest, does not receive instantaneous reassurance. The believer has to endure frustration and agony all while wondering why God's promises do not seem fulfilled. Perhaps our struggles with faithfulness is, in part, the result of our being unprepared for frustration. We may be unprepared for the problems of the local church. The tragedy that strikes us or our closest friends may appear to make a mockery of God's promises.

    If we believe that Christianity involves an endless succession of victories, frustration will result in our "shrinking back" from the demands of commitment. The promise of God may lead us to dream impossible dreams. But in reality, we may not "receive what is promised" in a whole lifetime on earth. What can the Christian do with frustration?

    Hebrews says we must learn to live with it. The Christian does not give up at the first sign of despair. He must accept the frustration and keep the faith. George Buttrick said that “our lives will experience all of the tension of a cello string which sings only when it is taut. This string is stretched between the infinite hope and the finite limitations of our lives. Life can produce its best music only when it lives with this kind of tension. We purchase a false "peace of mind," which is eagerly sought, only at the price of giving up on these promises which sustain us.”

    Jesus taught us to believe in the promises, but He also prepared us for frustration. He tells the parable of the sower, whose work consisted mainly in sowing seed which did not produce (Mark 4:3-9). He knew that His disciples would sometimes be like a helpless widow making her appeal before an unjust judge (Luke 18: Iff.) Such stories indicate that Jesus anticipated the frustration of the Christian life.

    As we follow the biblical record, we observe that the men of faith experienced deep frustration and despair. Job struggled with the questions of faith. Jeremiah lived in anguish over his calling. These people believed in "things not seen." What does the church do with its frustration? We surrender to our own temporary values when we "shrink back." Faith involves holding on when our only source of security is found in "things not seen."

    The faith that began many centuries ago has survived, not because all of the faithful lived with constant victory, but because they held on in the presence of adversity. The church of today faces the same task and our heroes from the past can help us to do so.

- 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

A Look at Repentance

By Brian Mitchell

    As we continue to look at God’s Plan of Salvation, we now turn our thoughts to the subject of repentance, which is another part of God’s plan to save humanity from their sins. In the OT, God often called upon the children of Israel to repent. “They said, repent now everyone of his evil ways and evil doings, and dwell in the land that the lord has given you” (Jer.25:5). In the NT, repentance is listed as one of the preconditions to our salvation from sins—Mk.1:15, Lk.13:3. So given this, I think we should want to know what Repentance is.
    A Sunday school teacher once asked her class what was meant by the word repentance. One little boy put up his hand and said it means to be sorry for your sins. A little girl also raised her hand and said, please, repentance is more than being sorry for your sins, it is being sorry enough to quit sinning. The little girl had it right, repentance is more than being sorry for sins, it is being sorry enough to say I am going to run from sin from now on.
    Repentance involves being cut or pricked to the heart—it has to do with the mind and conscience—Acts2:37-38. On Pentecost, Peter preached that Jesus was the crucified Messiah from God and that they were the ones guilty of crucifying Him. Upon hearing and understanding their guilt the Bible says they were cut to the heart and thus asked: what must we do, to which they were told repent. Before one can repent, they must realize that they have sinned against God and then they must have a desire to seek God’s forgiveness.
    W.M. Taylor said that, “True repentance hates the sin, not merely the penalty for sin; and it hates the sin most of all because it has discovered and felt the love of God.” Godly sorrow is thus produced by a change of mind in regard to sin that is brought about by a change of understanding in regards to what sin really is. Sin is an action, word or thought that violates the holy nature of God. Thus, repentance takes Godly sorrow and turns it into a changed life, with changed actions that has come under a change of management.
    In the end, repentance comes down to one of two choices—Repent or Perish. Those are really our only choices when it comes to sin, we can repent or perish. If we repent, God will save us. Have you repented of your sins. You do not want to go before God carrying the heavy burden of your sins. God will take them away from you if you let him. So if you are carrying the burden of sin today why not give it to God. “For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor.5:21).

- 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

A Study of Biblical Baptism

By Brian Mitchell


    The following is taken from an article that appeared in the Boston Globe on August 14, 1983. “The Natick police yesterday ruled as accidental, the drowning of an unemployed man who lost his balance and fell into deep water, while being baptized in a nearby lake. John E Blue was pronounced dead at the local hospital shortly after the accident at 11:30 A.M. Harold Branch of the church, said he was baptizing Mr. Blue in waist deep water when the two men lost their balance and fell backward where the lake falls off sharply.”

    Was this accident really even necessary? This is the question that needs to be asked and answered. I mean apparently Mr. Blue wanted to do the right thing in the eyes of God, and thus he submitted to the command to be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins. But wouldn’t it have been easier and far less dangerous for Mr. Blue to have said a prayer, asking for the Lord to save him. The truth is that it would have been easier for Mr. Blue to have done that and that in fact is what man Christian denominations teach needs to be done for one to be saved. The question though is; what does God teach in His Word, that man must do to be saved.

    What is all the fuss about baptism? Why is it such a controversial subject? Roy Lanier, writing in the Spiritual Sword said, “Just as both sowing and reaping are prior to eating bread, so belief and baptism are prior to, essential to baptism.” On the other hand, Frank Stagg, a Baptist scholar writes, “water baptism is not saving. Many passages which are concerned with salvation make no mention of salvation.”

    Here is the BIG question, which one of these writers is correct? Is Lanier right when he says baptism is essential to salvation or is Stagg right when he says it isn’t. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which one is wrong and which one is right, and in truth they could both be wrong. What does matter is, what does God, have to say about the connection of baptism to salvation. Because “only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt.7:21).

    So, for the next 3 weeks we are going to be taking a more in depth look at the subject of baptism, specifically as it relates to salvation. In the end, I hope that we have accomplished 2 primary goals. To enable all who have been baptized into Christ to defend what the Bible teaches about salvation. To encourage those who have not put on Christ in baptism to understand the importance and urgency of doing so.

- 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

Faithful To the End

By Brian Mitchell


    From ancient mythology comes the story of Penelope, who remained faithful to her absent husband Odysseus. Embarking with other heroes of his day, Odysseus had sailed away to the siege of Troy. Upon the fall of that city, he began that eventful voyage which, after an absence of twenty years, brought him back to Ithaca, his native land. His wife, Penelope, was a beautiful woman. During the absence of Odysseus, more than a hundred nobles had sought her hand. But hers was a beauty not of form alone, but of character and soul as well. She knew it was highly improbable that her lord would ever return.

    For more than ten years her many important suitors had pressed their attentions. There seemed no refuge but in choosing one of them. She accordingly told them that when she had finished with a certain web she was weaving, she would make her choice. She worked on the web every day, but during the night would undo what she had wrought during the daytime. Thus she found delay. Odysseus entered the palace disguised as a beggar and found the suitors all assembled. In a trial of strength he proved himself the worthiest of the lot.

    Penelope, still unaware of the presence of Odysseus, had provided for the contest his own bow, which she knew no other man could bend. So in one act Odysseus revealed himself to his faithful spouse and took revenge upon the insolent suitors who had so annoyed her. (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations, #3398). Penelope’s is a story of faithfulness in waiting for her Lord to return.

    It also provides an excellent parallel to the spiritual life as we Christians are called also to be faithful in waiting for the return of our Lord. ‘Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Unfortunately, we are all aware, that many Christians are not as faithful as they need to be in their service to God.

    Some worship every now and then but not with any kind of regularity, and some stop altogether in violation of the command to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.” (Heb.10:24-25). Others, after their conversion, may stop using alcohol or engaging in other worldly forms of entertainment, but after a while they begin using it again. Some after becoming Christians, begin reading the Bible, praying often to God and visiting the sick and shut-ins, but soon they decide that such is “just too much trouble” so they quit.

    “Let it never be forgotten that glamour is not greatness; applause is not fame; prominence is not eminence. The man of the hour is not apt to be the man of the ages. A stone may sparkle, but that does not make it a diamond; people may have money, but that does not make them a success. It is what the so-called unimportant people do that really counts and determines the course of history. The greatest forces in the universe are never spectacular. Summer showers are more effective than hurricanes, but they get no publicity. The world would soon die if not for the fidelity, loyalty and consecration of those whose names are unhonored and unsung.” (James Sizoo).

- 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

The Resurrection of Christ & Man

By Brian Mitchell


    In our postmodern world, many believe in no absolutes—no certain, unquestionable truths. How should the church react to such an attitude? Should we dilute doctrine? Should we negotiate with unbelievers, teaching only what they are willing to accept? Should we avoid public proclamation of doctrines that we know others do not believe? Paul faced a similar question when he wrote 1 Corinthians 15.

    Some people in Corinth doubted the resurrection of the dead and they were not alone. As Paul stood defending himself before King Agrippa he asked, “Why should it be so incredible to you that God raises the dead” (Acts 26:8). In the days of the apostles there were those who had a difficult time accepting the biblical teaching concerning the subject of the bodily resurrection of man, it was to them unbelievable. Sadly, the modern counterparts of these early unbelievers are appearing ever more increasingly and their influence is even being felt today in the Lord’s Church.

    Can you imagine a professing believer in Christ denying the fact of the resurrection. Yet, this is exactly what some who claim to be Christians are doing. History is full of different groups, who for whatever reason, denied the bodily resurrection of man. In NT times, the Greeks so disdained the idea of a resurrection of the body that when Paul spoke in Athens about the resurrection, the biblical text says that he was literally mocked (Acts 17:32). The Sadducees, whom Jesus dealt with, were well known for among other things their repudiation of the resurrection of man.

    Even some within the early NT church so misunderstood this concept that they had been proclaiming that there was no resurrection (1 Cor.15:12). Finally, the Gnostics came upon the scene and in their own imagined illuminated state also denied that man would rise from the dead. Unfortunately, these groups of NT times have been rivaled and even surpassed by the modern day rejecters of the biblical doctrine of the resurrection of man.

    So what is the point? The point is that there are a lot of groups who through the years denied the literal bodily resurrection of mankind. The point is that even though there are many who would affirm the resurrection, many of them have little idea of what the Bible teaches about the resurrection. Thus, when confronted with false ideas concerning or flat out rejection of the resurrection, they are not prepared to given an account of the things they believe in and such will continue to be the case until we look to the Word for answers.

    In today’s lesson, we will examine what we can know from Scriptures about the bodily resurrection of all mankind, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul did not avoid the question because he might alienate someone, nor did he compromise the doctrine of the resurrection. Rather, he proclaimed and defended it, refuting the arguments of those who denied that Christians would someday be raised from the dead. He confronted false doctrine, arguing calmly and rationally for his position. When a matter of faith was involved, Paul stood firmly for the truth—and so should we!

- 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

Sunday, January 14, 2024

What to do when you are hurt by another Christian: Rely on God’s Grace

By Jeff Arnette

    Grace is a central concept in Christianity, and it holds profound significance when addressing hurt caused by fellow believers within the church. Grace refers to God’s unmerited favor and love extended to humanity, despite our flaws and shortcomings. Understanding and relying on God’s grace is essential when navigating the complexities of church relationships. It involves recognizing several key aspects of grace.
    Unconditional Love. God’s grace is marked by unconditional love. It is a love that does not depend on our merit or worthiness. When individuals have been hurt within the church, understanding God’s unconditional love can provide solace and reassurance. It reminds them that their worth and value are not determined by the actions of others.
    Forgiveness. Grace is closely linked to forgiveness. Just as God extends forgiveness to humanity, individuals are encouraged to forgive those who have caused them pain. This act of forgiveness is not based on the offender’s deserving it but on the recognition that forgiveness is a powerful expression of God’s grace.
    Compassion and Empathy. Grace fosters compassion and empathy. It encourages individuals to see their fellow believers through a lens of understanding, recognizing that all are recipients of God’s grace. This perspective promotes empathy and a willingness to extend grace to others, even when they have caused harm.
    Humility. Embracing God’s grace requires humility. It involves acknowledging one’s own need for grace and recognizing that, like others, we are imperfect and in need of God’s mercy. Humility is a key ingredient in fostering grace-filled relationships within the church.
    Reconciliation. Grace is a catalyst for reconciliation. It encourages individuals to seek reconciliation with those who have caused them pain. Just as God reconciled humanity to Himself through Christ, believers are called to be agents of reconciliation within the church community.
    A Messy Reality. Grace acknowledges the messy reality of human relationships. It recognizes that believers are, in the words of Ephesians 2:8, “sinners saved by grace” living in community with other sinners saved by grace. This acknowledgment underscores that the church is not a community of perfect individuals but a gathering of imperfect people on a journey of faith.
    Relying on God’s grace involves not only recognizing these aspects of grace but also actively embodying them in one’s interactions with fellow believers. It means extending grace to others, even when they have caused harm, and seeking grace for oneself when faced with one’s own shortcomings.
    In conclusion, grace is the foundation upon which Christian relationships are built and restored. It offers hope, forgiveness, compassion, and reconciliation. By relying on God’s grace and extending it to others, individuals can foster an environment of forgiveness and healing within the church community.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

What to do when you are hurt by another Christian: Move from the Cross to Resurrection

By Jeff Arnette

    The analogy of moving from the cross to the resurrection is a powerful image in the Christian faith. It symbolizes the transition from pain, suffering, and brokenness to hope, renewal, and new life. This concept is particularly relevant when addressing hurt within the church community.
    The cross represents the painful and challenging aspects of the Christian journey. It signifies the moments of suffering, betrayal, and conflict that individuals may encounter in their walk of faith. Just as Jesus bore the cross, believers are called to bear their own crosses, including the burdens of hurt and disappointment caused by fellow believers.
    However, the story does not end at the cross. The heart of the Christian message is the resurrection—the triumph of life over death, hope over despair, and reconciliation over brokenness. Just as Jesus was resurrected after His crucifixion, individuals who have experienced hurt within the church can experience a form of spiritual resurrection. This transition from the cross to the resurrection involves several key elements:
    Healing and Restoration. The resurrection signifies healing and restoration. It is about finding wholeness and renewal after experiencing brokenness. When individuals actively engage in the process of forgiveness, reconciliation, and seeking God’s grace, they can experience a sense of healing and restoration.
    Hope and Renewal. The resurrection brings hope and renewal to individuals who have been hurt. It is a reminder that pain and suffering are not the end of the story. Just as Christ’s resurrection brought new life, believers can find hope and a fresh sense of purpose in their Christian journey.
    Community and Reconciliation. The resurrection also emphasizes the importance of community and reconciliation. It encourages individuals to reengage with the church community, seek reconciliation with those who have caused them pain, and actively participate in the body of believers.
    Transformation. Finally, the resurrection represents transformation. It signifies a change from a state of despair and bitterness to one of hope and love. Individuals who have experienced hurt can undergo a transformation in their attitudes, outlook, and relationships as they embrace the resurrection message.
    In essence, moving from the cross to the resurrection involves embracing the transformative power of the gospel. It is about allowing the story of Christ’s victory over death to shape and redefine one’s own narrative, including the experience of hurt within the church.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

What to do when you are hurt by another Christian: Pray for Healing and Forgiveness

By Jeff Arnette

    Prayer is a powerful tool for addressing hurt caused by fellow believers in the church. It serves as a channel for communication with God, a source of comfort, and a means of seeking healing and forgiveness.
    When individuals have been hurt within the church, their first instinct should be to turn to God in prayer. This initial step of reaching out to God in the midst of pain is an act of vulnerability and trust. It reflects a deep desire for God’s presence, guidance, and comfort during a difficult time.
    Prayer also plays a crucial role in the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness can be a challenging journey, especially when the hurt is deep and significant. Through prayer, individuals can seek the strength and grace to forgive those who have wronged them. They can ask God for the capacity to release any bitterness, resentment, or anger that may have taken root in their hearts.
    Furthermore, prayer extends beyond self-interest to intercession. Believers are encouraged to pray not only for their own healing but also for those who have caused them pain. This act of intercessory prayer is a profound expression of love and Christ-like compassion. It aligns with Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).
    In the process of seeking healing and forgiveness through prayer, individuals can experience a deep sense of connection with God. They can pour out their hearts, express their pain, and find solace in God’s presence. This intimate communion with God brings comfort and peace in the midst of turmoil.
    Moreover, prayer serves as a means of releasing burdens and entrusting them to God. It is an act of surrender, allowing individuals to place their hurts, grievances, and concerns into God’s hands. This act of surrender is an acknowledgment that God is ultimately in control and capable of bringing about healing and reconciliation.
    In summary, prayer is a vital component of the healing journey for those who have been hurt by fellow believers in the church. It serves as a means of seeking comfort, forgiveness, intercession, and surrender to God’s providential care.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

What to do when you are hurt by another Christian: Take Up Your Cross

By Jeff Arnette

    Taking up one’s cross is a fundamental concept in Christian theology and discipleship. It derives from Jesus’ teaching that His followers must be willing to bear the cross, which symbolizes the difficulties, challenges, and even suffering that come with being a disciple of Christ. This concept is especially relevant when addressing hurt caused by fellow believers within the church.
    When someone has been hurt by a fellow believer, taking up their cross means embracing the pain and difficulty of the situation while maintaining a Christ-like attitude. It involves recognizing the weight of the emotional burden, acknowledging the reality of the hurt, and working through it with faith and resilience.
    One crucial aspect of taking up one’s cross in the context of church-related hurt is the commitment to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a central theme and it aligns with Jesus’ example on the cross when He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This act of forgiveness is not a denial of the pain or a justification of the wrongdoing but a deliberate choice to release the offender from the debt of their actions.
    Taking up your cross also means actively participating in the community of saints despite the challenges. It involves continuing to engage in the life of the church, exercising one’s spiritual gifts, and contributing positively to the body of believers. This commitment reflects a determination to overcome hurt and remain connected to the larger Christian family.
    Moreover, taking up one’s cross entails a recognition that suffering for Christ is not an anomaly but an expected part of the Christian journey. In a culture that often promotes the idea of prosperity, health, and wealth, the reality of suffering can be downplayed or ignored. However, the Bible teaches that believers will face trials and tribulations. Embracing this reality with faith and endurance is an integral part of living out one’s faith.
    In conclusion, taking up your cross when hurt by fellow believers in the church is about embracing the difficulties, choosing forgiveness, remaining engaged in the Christian community, and recognizing that suffering is an expected part of the Christian journey.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

What to do when you are hurt by another Christian: Humility and Surrender

By Jeff Arnette

    Humility is a foundational virtue in the Christian faith, and it plays a pivotal role in addressing hurt caused by fellow believers within the church. At its core, humility involves recognizing our limitations and acknowledging that we are not in control of every aspect of our lives or the lives of others.
    When it comes to relationships within the church, humility encourages believers to relinquish the notion that they can control or change the behavior of others. It calls for a surrender of the desire to micromanage spiritual growth or impose one’s will on fellow believers. This surrender is not an admission of defeat but rather an acknowledgment that God alone is sovereign and capable of effecting transformation in the hearts of individuals.
    Humility also fosters a sense of grace and patience. It allows individuals to view their fellow believers through a lens of understanding, recognizing that everyone is on their unique journey of sanctification. Some may have advanced further in their spiritual growth, while others are still in the early stages. Humility enables us to accept these differences and exercise patience when others stumble or make mistakes along the way.
    Moreover, humility serves as a powerful antidote to pride and self-righteousness. When individuals acknowledge their own vulnerabilities and shortcomings, they become less prone to judgment and condemnation. Instead of pointing fingers, they are more inclined to extend a hand of compassion and support to those who have caused them pain.
    In essence, humility and surrender are key principles in addressing hurt within the church because they promote a Christ-like attitude of servitude, compassion, and grace. They help individuals release the burden of trying to control others and place their trust in God’s transformative work.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, January 8, 2024

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

By David R. Ferguson

    Charles Wesley (1707-1788) knew something that many people today are missing. When he wrote the lyrics to the still popular Christmas song, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, it’s clear that he understood why Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. If you look closely at Wesley’s song, you will learn why a great company of the Heavenly host suddenly burst forth to proclaim to the shepherds (Luke 2:13-14): “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
    The peace that Jesus was born to provide wasn’t the cessation of war. It wasn’t to put an end to abuse and unkind ways humans treat each other. It wasn’t to bring world peace among nations. Their excitement was because now, through Jesus, God was making available true peace – peace with God. There’s nothing more exciting than knowing that Jesus is, indeed, the Prince of Peace to reconcile men to God. Hark!  The herald Angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King; Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Mild He lays His glory by, Born that men no more may die. Born to raise the sons of Earth, Born to give them second birth.
       More than 600 years before the birth of Jesus, the Prophet Isaiah spoke of the purpose of His birth. In the well-known passage in Isaiah 9:6 there are several descriptions of this coming Lord, including “Prince of Peace.” In the context of this passage Isaiah declares that this “Prince of Peace” would “reign on David’s throne and over His Kingdom…forever” (Isaiah 9:7).
    It was not until the Day of Pentecost following the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter and the other Apostles that what Isaiah was talking about was not establishing a nation like Rome or Babylon. Anybody could do that (Darius, Alexander the Great, etc.). But only the Prince of Peace could establish a Kingdom that would never be defeated or destroyed, not even by Satan (Daniel 2:44, Matthew 16:18). No wonder the Angels were excited when the Prince of Peace was born!
    How grateful we should be that Jesus wasn’t interested in establishing just another Earthly kingdom! World peace is certainly to be desired, but there’s nothing that compares with having peace with God! That truly is something to sing about!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: or

People Are Watching You

By Joe Chesser

    In my last article I wrote about how God’s “All-Seeing Eye” is always watching each of us. Nothing any of us does, or even thinks, is unnoticed by God. This can be both comforting and intimidating.
    While this is absolutely true, we need to be reminded that God is not the only one watching us. People all around us are seeing almost everything we do. They can’t know what we are thinking, but they certainly can see the evidence of what is in our minds by what we do and by what we don’t do.
If you are married, your spouse is watching you. Other than God Himself, who knows you better than your spouse? He/she sees the kind of person you are when you first wake up in the morning, what to expect from you when you get home from work, – when you watch football, how you drive, how you spend your money, how you feel about God, how you feel about your children, your job, and your church. Generally speaking, your spouse is watching you more closely than anyone else other than God.
Perhaps a close second to your spouse are your children. They watch you every day and are learning from you how to live life: how to treat a spouse; how to treat neighbors; how to handle stressful situations; how to be honest; how to train children; what you watch on TV; how you act at the Little League games; how you are involved at church; etc.
Your neighbors are watching you. They see how you take care of your property; if you are regular church attenders; they hear the kind of language you use, especially with your family.
Your friends are watching you.
Your enemies are watching you.
Your co-workers and bosses are watching you.
The people in line at WalMart are watching you.
The driver in the car behind you is watching you.
The fans in the stands are watching you.
People at church are watching you.
    It’s obvious isn’t it? If the “All-Seeing Eye” of God that sees everything we do isn’t enough incentive to live in the best way possible, then we should be convicted by the fact that everyone around us also sees how we conduct ourselves in all kinds of situations. Our culture is attempting to be focused on individualism. It tries to tell us we can live isolated from the rest of the world. As long as I live in a way that pleases me, all is good. But, even as self-focused as we try to be, even as detached from the rest of the world we may think we are living, the truth is that God and everyone else is watching us, seeing how we choose to live, and being influenced one way or another by the choices we make.
    So because people are watching us, God wants us to live better lives. We are challenged from the book of Ephesians alone to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4.1). We must no longer “walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds” (Ephesians 4.17). We are to “walk in love as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5.1). “Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5.8).“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5.15). Why? “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2.10). (emphasis mine).
    Yes, Jesus wants us to be lights in this world for Him so that we may not only have a positive influence on everyone around us, but also to give glory to our Father in heaven (Matthew 5.14-16).
    Not only is God watching us, people are watching us too!

- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at

The Value of Your Soul

By David A. Sargent

    From the prolific pen of Joe Barnett come these words of valuable insight:
October 22, 2019, was the first day of the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals.
    The games weren’t Friday Night Lights for low-income families – the average per-ticket price was $950. Standing-room started at $360. A spot in the elite Diamond Club went for $10,500.
    For die-hard fans, it was the most important event in the world. One buff offered a kidney for a ticket to the first game of the series.
    But the post that sent chills down my spine was a tweet from Kaylise, offering to sell her soul for World Series tickets. Kaylise’s offer causes us to cringe. But aren’t there many who sell their soul for the paltry returns of all-consuming desires? Things like —
Possessions *
    Jesus asks, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Mark 8:36-37
    As you contemplate the value of your soul and what you might be willing to give in exchange for it, consider the price God paid to save your soul.
    “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
    When we sin – and all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) – we “exchange our souls” for temporary pleasures that end in death (Romans 6:23; James 1:14-15).
    But God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).  Jesus paid the price for our redemption from sin: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
    God will save, redeem, 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).
    Your soul is too valuable to exchange it for some paltry pleasure or possession.
    If the value of something is determined by the price that is paid for it, consider the value that God has placed on your soul: He gave His Son to die for you to save your soul.
    To Christians – those who have accepted God’s offer of salvation and eternal life through their trusting obedience – Peter reminded them of the price that was paid for them: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).
    Won’t YOU accept His offer?  To exchange your soul for anything less would be an eternal loss.

- 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 “What’s Your Price?” by Joe Barnett in Today’s Walk in the Word (7/18/2023), an email devotional sent out by Pathway Evangelism Inc.,

A Faith that Saves

By Brian Mitchell

    One of the major biblical disagreements among those who profess a relationship with God through Christ lies in a difference of understanding concerning how a man is saved. Those in the denominational world often claim that we—meaning the Churches of Christ and a few other groups—are guilty of teaching a “works based salvation” as opposed to a “faith based salvation.” They argue that we believe a man is saved by baptism (a work—something he does) which they believe is a direct contradiction to the biblical teaching that a man is saved by his faith alone, without any additional acts of obedience.
    The interesting thing to me is that Bible specifically teaches that man’s faith (his belief) is also something he does and is described in Jn.6:29 as a work. Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (Jn.6:28-29). Thus, the disagreement in reality, lies not in the belief that there are no works a man must do to be saved, but rather in what those works are.
    The fact of the matter is that those in the Lord’s Church—or at least this preacher—do not believe in a works based salvation—Eph.2:8-9. I believe that a man is saved: by grace through faith and that it is the gift of God—Rom.6:23. And that it is not of works (meritorious acts by which we earn our own salvation), lest any man should boast (by saying God owes me salvation because of what I have done). I do not, however, believe that a man is saved by faith alone without obedience to the commands of God.
    In fact, the Bible says that even the demons believe—Jm.2:19—and yet who would argue that the demons are saved? If we are saved by what we believe in—our faith—then why were the demons not saved? The answer is because there is obviously something more to salvation than mere belief. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (Jn.12:42-43).
    So what is the real truth of the matter? The real truth is that I do believe that a man is saved by faith for such cannot be denied. However, I disagree with most Christian denominations in regards to the point at which one’s faith saves Him. For the majority of the Christ believing world, it is at the point of acquiring one’s belief/faith that he is saved. For me it is at the point of expressing one’s faith in obedience that one is saved. I still believe, as the Bible teaches, that I am saved by faith (Jn.3:16), I just believe that my salvation occurred when my faith manifested itself in actions of obedience (Jm.2:14-26).
    According to James, faith without works always has been and always will be a dead faith and a dead faith cannot save anyone. And thus, while I do believe that a man is saved by faith it is only after that faith acts in response to what God has done through Jesus Christ to reconcile us to Himself that it saves us. The question is; what kind of faith do we have? The kind that is characterized by belief only or the kind that moves us in obedience to the will of God? Only one saves!!!

- 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

Does Saying “The Sinner’s Prayer” Save?

By Bob Prichard

    Preachers sometimes invite their listeners to pray something such as, “God, I am sorry I have sinned. Please forgive me and let Jesus come into my heart. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.” The preacher then says, “Since you have asked Christ into your life, you are now His child and your sins are forgiven.” The problem with this, however, is that the promise of forgiveness is from man, not God. God has never promised to hear or respond to “the sinner’s prayer.”
    Prayer is a privilege for God’s people. James said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b). Peter quoted Psalm 34:15-16, saying “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). Solomon warned, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Proverbs 28:9). The psalmist spoke of the dilemma of the sinner: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). 
    But what about the prayers of the publican and the Pharisee? While the Pharisee prayed “with himself,” the publican, “standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus concluded, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:11, 13-14). This does not set the pattern for sinners coming to Christ, however, because both the Pharisee and the publican were already in a covenant relationship with God as part of His chosen people, the Jews. They both, despite their sins, had the right to pray to God. 
    What about Joel’s prophecy? He said, “It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call” (Joel 2:32). To “call upon the name of the Lord” means to make an appeal through obedience. Saul of Tarsus spent three days in prayer and fasting, but did not receive salvation from the Lord until he called upon the Lord through obedience. Ananias told him, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). In his baptism, he called on the name of the Lord and his sins were washed away. He would not have been saved if he had merely prayed “the sinner’s prayer,” and had refused to obey the Lord’s command. Jesus said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name I will do it” (John 14.14). This is not a blanket promise to any person, but to those who follow Him and have the right to ask things in His name, by His authority. This promise is to the children of God. In the very next verse? He puts it simply, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The multitudes cried out at Pentecost, “What shall we do?” Peter did not respond, “Pray the sinner’s prayer,” but “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38). We will be saved if we do what the believers of Pentecost did.

- Bob Prichard serves as an elder and evangelist for the Hillview Church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama, since 2016. In his forty-five years of preaching he has served churches in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama.