Sunday, March 31, 2024

What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?

By Bob Prichard

    Cremation refers to disposing of the body of the deceased by burning to ashes. In ancient times, it involved either burning the whole body, or the burning of all but the bones, which were then buried. Cremation was practiced by the Greeks and Romans, but rarely by the Hebrews and early Christians. Achan was burned because of his sin (Joshua 7:25). The bodies of King Saul and his sons were burned, apparently to prevent the Philistines from molesting the bodies. Their bones were then buried (1 Samuel 31:11-13). The Jews buried or placed the body in a sepulchre, believing in the resurrection of the body. From a practical standpoint, fuel for cremation was scarce, while caves for burial were plentiful. The worst of indignities was for the body to be exposed and not receive proper burial.
    Man was formed of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7), and as soon as he dies, his body begins to return to dust. The Egyptians embalmed the body (the Hebrews did not) in attempts to prevent the natural decay. Modern embalming, caskets, vaults, etc. also slow this decay, but do not prevent it. Cremation hastens that return to the elements which happens naturally upon burial. The human body is described as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19), and must be treated with dignity in life and in death. Some feel that cremation is disrespectful, but it is not clear that cremation is any more disrespectful to the body than are embalming and burial. In either case, a memorial service may be held, and the remains my be interred respectfully. Cremation is frequently chosen today because of the lower expense, and the lack of burial places in some large urban areas.
    Cremation raises questions relating to resurrection of the body. The “resurrection body” will be like our natural body in some ways, but in some ways different. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Since the natural body is a corruptible body, it really makes no difference (so far as the incorruptible resurrection body is concerned), whether the body is buried, cremated, or eaten by a wild animal. God will certainly give His children the new resurrection bodies they need.
    Cremation may be used to escape the reality of death, or may be more traumatic to the family. Viewing the body and the traditional funeral service are often helpful to the family as they deal with grief. What the family believes is best should be chosen, maintaining respect for the body.

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

By Jared Green

    In Horatio Spafford’s famous hymn, It Is Well, we sing the words, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’” We would love to always be able to utter the words “it is well” and truly mean them. In a world full of competition and constant busyness, however, true contentment is hard to come by. 
    Paul teaches the importance of contentment throughout his letters. Writing to Timothy, for example, he says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). When Paul fervently prayed that God heal his thorn in the flesh, God answered: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The result? Contentment. Paul told the Corinthians, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
    When comparing the Bible’s teaching on contentment to the temptation to continually seek more in this world, what is the basis for true contentment? How can we become like Paul? The Bible teaches that our contentment is rooted in the good news of God’s grace and what he has done for us. One of the greatest examples of biblical contentment is found in the prophet Simeon in Luke 2. 
    Luke tells us that Simeon was a righteous and devout man, and that he was waiting for Israel’s deliverance, like so many other Jews during his time. Unlike other Jews, however, the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). One day, Simeon was led by God into the temple, and he saw baby Jesus, who had been brought to the temple to be presented to the Lord. Upon seeing Jesus and remembering the Spirit’s promise that he would see the Messiah, Simeon took Jesus into his arms and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word” (Luke 2:29). It seems that Simeon is saying, “Now that I have seen Jesus, I can die!” I can think of no greater contentment than feeling as though I’ve gotten all I ever needed from this life and am ready for the next. 
    The question is, why was Simeon so immediately content upon seeing Jesus? In his own words, “…for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). For Simeon, life’s greatest contentment came upon seeing the good news of God’s grace firsthand. May we all seek true contentment. God loves you, and so do I. 

- Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

What Kind of Church Should We Be?

By Brian Mitchell

    Play a word game with me. What comes to your mind when you see or hear the word church? Do you picture a steepled building, dark wooden pews, crosses, offering plates? Do you hear hearty singing? Or does church trigger childhood memories of wiggling through sermons, playing tag on the parking lot, and Sunday school teachers telling stories about Samson and David and Daniel and, of course, Jesus?
    Or do you experience again the flat taste of the bread and the sweet taste of grape juice at communion? Do you remember a particular Sunday morning when a sermon gripped you as though you were the only one in the crowd, or the day you became a Christian through baptism? Or does church bring other pictures on your mind? A wedding, funeral, evangelistic services, going forward, committee meetings, suppers served in Tupperware dishes, that time at camp when you determined God would have all of your life.
    When you see the word church, do you have good feelings? Like laughter? Warmth? A quietness? Acceptance? Happiness? Awe? Love? Closeness to God? Or are your feelings negative? Like boredom? Anger? Confusion? Guilt? Rejection? Does church remind you of arrogance, hostility, manipulation, anger, or irrelevance? Do you think of it as a poor substitute for a picnic or a ball game? Church dredges up memories and emotions from deep within you, doesn't it? Some are healthy, some painful, most somewhere in between.
    Have you noticed that when Christians think negatively about church, they think of "them" not "I"? Church is an institution out there, a group apart from them. But we are the church, aren't we, you and me? We may have a personal faith, but it is next to impossible to have an individual faith. God did not intend for us to be Christians by ourselves, every Christian to be complete, must be a member of a body of men and women who are followers of Christ. Therefore, whether we are part of a vital, growing, glowing assembly of believers depends in some measure upon us.
    People are always looking for someone else to blame for their own lack of spiritual health and growth. A woman's husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she’d stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer. As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, “You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times.
    When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you stayed right here. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?” “What dear?” She gently asked, smiling as her heart began to fill with warmth. “I think that you are bad luck.”
    When it comes to the church, our role in it and our effectiveness at being God’s people, it is time to stop blaming others for our lack of personal and numerical growth. We need to put the blame where it belongs if we are not growing as we should individually and congregationally, we are to blame. If we hope to make a difference in our churches and for our churches to make a difference in the world, we need to know what a healthy church looks like and perhaps even more importantly, we need to know how sick churches can be made well.

- 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

Five Wonderful Words

By Edd Sterchi


    The 23rd psalm has been a favorite of God’s people for thousands of years. It is

steeped in the Israelite culture of husbandry. But all through the years it has

appealed to people who realize that God is watching over them. Just the first five

words alone in the English versions reveal so much – even for us today.

·       The - This is a definite article in reference to God. He is not one of many gods, He is the God. He is the only God.

·       Lord - This indicates that God is our savior. He is the only one who can bring us eternal salvation.

·       Is - This present tense word reveals that God is alive and always with us. He remains all powerful and all loving.

·       My - This shows that God is a personal God. He wants a relationship with us and deals with each us on a most individual, intimate level.

·       Shepherd - This reminds us that God is always guiding, feeding, and protecting us. He will never lead us down the wrong path.

    And that’s just the first five words of the psalm! Give the rest of it a read with these thoughts in mind, and you will gain the most wonderful feelings of joy, satisfaction, and peace within your heart.

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

Best Friend Forever

By Joe Slater
    We use innumerable acronyms to shorten emails, text messages, etc. “LOL” (laughing out loud), IMO (in my opinion), and BTW (by the way) are only the start of a virtually endless list. Have you noticed this one? BFF (best friend forever).
    “This person” (you fill in the name) “is my BFF!” It might be someone you’ve known since early childhood; maybe it’s a spouse; maybe it’s your spouse whom you’ve known from early childhood! Regardless, having friends helps us navigate through life’s ups and downs.
    I’m blessed with many friends, and I hope you are too! I’d be hard pressed to identify which of my friends (among my fellow-mortals) is my “best friend.” Some whom I’ve counted as friends in the past have, by their behavior, made it clear that they are no longer my friends. I regret that, but I realize I cannot change other people’s thoughts and actions.
    Christians have no trouble identifying their “best friend forever”! “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). We know Jesus is the best friend we could possibly have, and He will never forsake us. Who else could ever qualify as our “best friend forever”?
    A challenging question for me is, “Am I a friend to Jesus?” We sing, “I’ll be a friend to Jesus” – but look at what the Lord Himself said: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Having warm fuzzy feelings for Jesus is fine, but loving him and being His friend goes well beyond subjective criteria. Who among us would claim to be the best friend Jesus has? But we can, indeed, be His friends forever.
    Let’s do that!

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

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Inability To Situationalize Truth (Part 1)

By Wes Garland

I don’t know how many times I have encountered people thinking that their situation, or another’s situation, changes the parameters of what truth really is. They think that the situation that they present is the ONE exception that God allows. But what is truth? Does truth change depending on certain parameters or does it stay constant? TRUTH, by nature, is ABSOLUTE. It declares the simple statement of what is reality and what is real and true. When God states a truth, NOTHING can alter the reality of that statement. Let’s discuss 3 areas in which people try to situationalize truth.
    First, obeying the Gospel. I have encountered many people, even some in the church, that believe that “I know that is what the Bible says, but…” and then they will proceed into thinking that their specific situation MIGHT CHANGE the situation for them. People think that if they have the “right heart” God will somehow change the result for them because they think that their heart justifies their refusal of obedience. The fact is this. If the person has a “right heart” then they will proceed to do what God wants them to do. One of the aspects of obedience is that you are APPEALING TO GOD’S AUTHORITY through the actions of doing exactly what He wants us to do (Rom. 10:13). It is the answer of a GOOD CONSCIENCE (mind or heart) towards God (1 Pet. 3:21). You can never bend the rules of salvation to what we WANT to believe, but have to stand on the TRUTH itself. What does truth say? UNLESS a person obeys the Gospel, the vengeance of God will be upon them (2 Thess. 1:8-9). Unless a person repents from their sins, they will perish (Lk. 13:3,5). Unless a person believes and is baptized, they will not be saved (Mark 16:16). These are not our words or our impressions, but the SIMPLE WORD OF GOD. We just need to have enough faith to believe in what it says.

John 12:48
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
   Will we accept and obey or will we reject and be lost? Our choice.

- Wesley Garland preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Inability To Situationalize Truth (Part 2)

By Wes Garland

    In our last article, we discussed how some believe that Truth can be changed if specific, special circumstances are met. These specific, special circumstances usually are the exact situation that they are in. We looked at how Truth is OBJECTIVE and means that it is a FACT that CANNOT be altered, NO MATTER WHAT circumstance you may want to create. Today, we are going to look at another circumstance in which people try to situationalize Truth, and that is in Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.
    God’s law for marriage is very simple: one man, one woman for life (Rom. 7:2-3). The only way of getting out of that marriage is either by the death of the spouse (Rom. 7:3) or through ONE EXCEPTION, fornication on the part of the other spouse (Mat. 19:9). THEN, the one who DID NOT commit fornication would have the right to remarry someone ELIGIBLE to be married or remarried (1 Cor. 7:39). But as some try to do, they look at these simple laws and they see that their situation doesn’t meet up with these laws. Instead of making their situation in harmony with God’s law, they try to situationalize themselves against God’s law. In their minds they think, “I don’t think that God would hold me accountable” or “I think that God will allow this to happen” or “God is loving and would not want me to live celibate the rest of my life.” In each of these statements, the people do not want to accept nor deal with the consequences of their actions of disobedience. In each of these statements, God has to be seen in a light that is not the way He is seen in scripture. For these statements to be true, it would give man the ability to create God in a fashion that is best suited for themselves. May we remember that God made us and not we made God. God’s law is firm and true (corresponds to reality).

Will we listen and be honest with ourselves and make the changes to be right
in the sight of God or will we remain in disobedience?
We choose.
John 12:48
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—
the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

- Wesley Garland preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Inability To Situationalize Truth (Part 3)

By Wes Garland

    In the last 2 parts of this series of articles, we have discussed how people sometimes think that they can situationalize certain things with Truth. We have talked about how people have tried to situationalize the truth in obeying the gospel and also in dealing with marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Today, we will look at how people will try to situationalize their responsibility in faithfulness.
    I have come across a lot of people who used to be very strong in the faith but aren’t now or have obeyed the gospel and you see them never really getting to their full potential, spiritually speaking. When confronting these individuals, I have heard numerous statements like “I have just gotten really busy”, “Things have just come up”, “My child has practice or games” etc. Now with these individuals, a lot of times, I never hear statements like “We are going to quit these sports teams because they are taking us away from God” or “I am going to make changes in my scheduling to make sure that God comes first” or “I am going to empty my plate so that I can put God first”. Why is this? They think that because these situations have occurred, a lot of the times because they, themselves, have allowed it, will somehow excuse them in the realm of faithfulness. But, what has happened, is that they have replaced God with all of these other things that, in their heart, God can become second. We need to realize that God is to ALWAYS TAKE PRECEDENCE in our lives (Col. 1:18) and that the things of this world, the sports teams, the scheduling, our jobs, etc. are only to get us through this life. If we only focus on the physical, it will only lead us to the end of the physical, death and ultimately the second death (Rev. 21:8). God expects His people to look beyond the physical and look on to the eternal (Tit. 2:13). God expects His people to not become in love with this world (1 John 2:15-17), but to love Him (Jn. 14:15). God expects His people to continue staying faithful and not deserting the things involving Him (Heb. 2:1-4).
NO SITUATION can arise to excuse us of faithfulness!
May we do what we must to have what God wants us to receive!
It will NOT happen if we don’t MAKE it happen!
Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be
added to you.

- Wesley Garland preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

If We Never Meet Again

By David A. Sargent

    The distance was almost 2,800 miles and the trip, due to the pandemic, was three-years in the making, but the two sisters were finally able to reunite.
    Barbara Carolan (age 94) had not been able to see her little sister, Shirley (age 90), since 2020.  Considering their advanced ages, Barbara really wanted to see her sister again.  Barbara’s granddaughter, Stephanie Atkinson Shively, enabled the reunion.  She took her grandmother from her home in Seabrook, New Hampshire to the home of her great aunt in Laughlin, Nevada – a distance of 2,766 miles.
    Shively captured a conversation that the two elderly sisters shared in a video that she posted on social media.  The video has gone viral.
    “If we don't see each other on this Earth, we'll see you in heaven,” the younger sister said in the video shared by Shively.
    “You betcha, you betcha,” the 94-year-old sister replied. *
    Their conversation reflects the meaning of a song written by Albert R. Brumley in 1945 entitled, “If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven”:

“Soon we'll come to the end of life's journey,
and perhaps we'll never meet anymore,
till we gather in heaven's bright city,
far away on that beautiful shore.”

    The sisters’ conversation and the words of the song reflect the hope of those who are in Christ.
    Without Christ, each of us is lost – separated from God due to our sin (Isaiah 59:1-2).  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).  Through Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, we can be saved from our sins, reconciled to God, and recipients of the gift of eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).  In order to receive these glorious spiritual blessings, we must accept His offer of salvation and eternal life through our trusting obedience.
    God will save 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).
    Those who accept His offer can rejoice in the expectant hope of a great reunion when Jesus returns.  Read and relish the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
    Christians can sing with assurance the chorus of Brumley’s song:

“If we never meet again this side of heaven,
as we struggle through this world and its strife,
there's another meeting place somewhere in heaven,
by the side of the river of life,
where the charming roses bloom forever,
and where separations come no more,
if we never meet again this side of heaven,
I will meet you on that beautiful shore.”

    In Jesus we have this living hope (1 Peter 1:3-4).
    You can share in this hope if you will trust and obey Jesus.  If you do and if we never meet this side of heaven, I’ll see you on that beautiful, eternal shore.

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

* Information gleaned from “94-year-old woman travels across US to see 90-year-old sister one last time” by Pilar Arias of Fox News,

The Name of Jesus

By Dan Bailey

    Jesus is the Son of God. His name is above every name. As we read in Philippians 2:8-11: "8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Those who do not recognize and honor Christ will someday bow at His judgment seat. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad"(2 Corinthians 5:10).  "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:11-12). The name of Jesus is powerful and authoritative.
    Peter healed a man who was lame from his mother's womb. "1Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength" (Acts 3:1-7). Peter did not do this by his own power or authority. He did it "in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (Acts 3:6). Then later Peter boldly preached to the Jewish rulers and elders. "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:11-12).
     My dear Reader, do you respect, honor, and revere the name of Jesus? Did you know that you are to be baptized in His name or by His authority? "Then Peter said unto them, 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 2:38). If you are lost and living in sin, submit yourself to the name of Jesus; and then when the judgment day comes, you will be ready.

- Dan C. Bailey serves as a minister with the State Street Church of Christ in Bristol, VA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Sunday, March 17, 2024


By Andrew Beasley

    To this day I can still remember the anxiety and the fear that would overcome me when my mother instructed me to go and “pick a switch.” Being on the end of the wrath of an authority figure because of our wrongdoing is not a pleasant feeling. Yet, at the same time, when people break the law or cause us offense, we desire retribution, justice and vengeance. As Christians, we can be certain that our God will avenge the wrongs we are subjected to by Satan and his forces. The book of Revelation, in part, is a reminder that God will avenge His people.

    However, we should remember what the wrath of God unleashed upon man looks like. One might think of the flood, or the Amalekite people, or perhaps even the people of Nineveh (Nah. 1:2) who were spared for a time by the preaching of Jonah. Paul describes the wrath of God as being terrible (2 Cor. 5:11) and points to it as a reason we persuade others to follow Jesus. Yes, God is an avenger and yes He will avenge His people. But that does not mean we should hope for this. Instead, we should desire that everyone we meet in our lives avoids our avenging God.

- Andrew Beasley serves as a minister with the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

You Lift Me Up

By Edd Sterchi

    There are several instances of Jesus (or one of His inspired followers through His power) lifting people from one situation to another:

* Peter’s mother(Mark 1:29-31)- “So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her” (v.31). She was lifted from sickness to health.

* A boy with a demon inside him (Mark 9:15-29) - “But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose” (v.27). He was lifted from internal turmoil to complete peace.

* The lame man (Acts 3:1-10) - “And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength” (v.7). He was lifted from brokenness to wholeness.

* Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42) - “Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive” (v.41). She was lifted from death to life.

Jesus still has the power to do this to us today. Whatever helpless situation we find ourselves in, know that Jesus can lift us up from where we are to where we need to be. So turn it all over to Him and let Him lift you up higher than you’ve ever been before!

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

A Church Worthy of Our Imitation

By Brian Mitchell

    We live in a world that is in desperate need of good role models. People need good role models to look up to because they help us to see what is good and they help us to strive to attain that which is good. Good role models are important because: they show us what can be done and how it can be done, they inspire us to follow their example and they encourage us to be steadfast in achieving our goals. Given these truths it is easy to see why I say that we have such a great need for good role models. Because bad role models also show us what can be done and how it can be done and they also often, to our own peril, inspire us to follow their example.
    So the question for us to ask ourselves, both individually and congregationally, is who are we looking up to. Who is it that we are allowing to let us see what can be done, what should be done, and how it can be done. Thankfully as Christians we have many good role models to look up to, both individually and congregationally. Individually, we have people like Abraham, David, Job, Daniel, Paul and a long list in Hebrews 11 (God’s Hall of Faith).
    Congregationally, we have the church at Smyrna (I know your works, tribulation and poverty, but you are rich). We have the church at Philadelphia (I know your works for you have kept my word and not denied my name, thus I will also keep you). And we have the church at Thessalonica (and you became followers of us and the Lord, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia).
    What made the church at Thessalonica a church that was worthy of the emulation of others? They were a church that other congregations could look up to and follow; a role model for congregations.
    What characteristics did they possess that allowed them to be a congregation worthy of imitating. Of course we will obviously engage, in this study, to determine what things we as a congregation can and should be doing. So that in the end it could be said of us, that we are serving as an example of what God wants a congregation to be and what God wants a congregation to be doing.
    Paul’s commendation of the church at Thessalonica is found in 1 Thess.1:6-8. Paul mentions a number of things that made them an exemplary church. Could he say the same things of us? For what did Paul commend the church? Do we have a similar evangelistic focus? Are known for sounding forth the Word of God? Are we looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to evangelize our friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers. Are we looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to spread the gospel beyond our home area.
    The need for churches to sound forth the word of God is as great now as it has ever been. Will we answer the call of the Lord—Rom.10:14-17.

- 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

Every Christian is Either an Evangelist or a Hypocrite

By Gerald Cowan

    Charles H. Spurgeon is reported to have said, Every Christian is either an evangelist or a hypocrite."  Would you agree with him or debate against the idea? With this lesson we are undertaking a brief series on the concept, obligations, and methods of evangelism. I hope you will take it to be as serious a matter as God’s word makes it. The basic premise of the lessons is: HOW AND WHY TO TALK ABOUT RELIGION.   

    Missionary John M. McCaleb’s song asserting The Gospel Is For All should be (unexplainably is not) in every hymnal. Maybe it is missing because we do not feel personally responsible for getting God’s message of salvation out to every person in every place in all the world in all times. I was involved in a series of meetings on the importance and the “how to do it” of world evangelism several years ago in a nation foreign to most of us and I recall that we sang at each assembly these words:
        Oh Lord, prepare me to be a missionary,
        Pure and holy, tried and true.
        And with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living
        Missionary for You. 
I also remember the words of a visiting missionary (I have forgotten his name but not his words): “Nobody deserves to hear the gospel twice until everybody everywhere has heard it once.”  It may be an overstatement, but I can’t find the courage or reason to argue with it.
    I believe being and evangelistic missionary is not only an honorable and worthy mission, but is a commandment of the Lord, an obligation incumbent on all who call themselves Christian. I intend to justify my statements from God’s word by citing those very words from God’s Holy Book, the Bible, from both Old and New Testaments and Covenants. Since today we live under a new covenant and law we will emphasize the word of Christ and the Holy Spirit-guided apostles and prophets preserved for us in the New and forever unchanging Covenant (Jeremiah31:31-34; see also Hebrews 8:6-13 and 10:15-17). Jesus himself stated that all things written prophetically about Him (Luke 24:44-53). He commissioned His apostles and us too: preach to everybody in all the world what He had commanded (Matthew 28:15-28, Mark 16:15-16). To paraphrase it, He said: You are to be obedient preachers of all I have commanded you and make obedient preachers of all who hear it from you, that they should also become obedient preachers and make obedient preachers of those who hear it from them – and from us.
    We sing (occasionally but seldom enthusiastically) Will Houghton’s chorus: “Lead me to some soul today; O teach me Lord just what to say ... to those who cannot find their way.  Melt my heart and fill my life; give me one soul today.”  If that is not your genuine prayer as a would-be evangelist, stop singing it. If it is not serious and genuine it is hypocrisy to sing or pray it.

- 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

What was the Attitude of Christ Toward the Scriptures?

By Bob Prichard

    The attitude of Christ toward the scriptures was one of complete trust, knowing that He relied on His heavenly father completely. He said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:16). He astonished the people because He spoke with authority, by appealing to the scriptures (Matthew 7:28-29). He warned that it was by his words that all will be judged:  “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
    Christ’s teaching was filled with quotations of and allusions to scripture. He spoke of the creation, the institution of marriage, Noah, Sodom, Abraham, Elijah, Zechariah, and a host of other Bible characters and events. He spoke of these people and events as being historical. Modern “scholars” frequently deny that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, but Jesus upholds Mosaic authorship (John 7:19).  When Satan came to test Him at the beginning of His ministry, He answered each challenge by quoting scripture: “It is written … it is written … it is said” (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). Even in death, He quoted scripture. When He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), He was quoting from Psalm 22:1, and thus calling attention to the fact that He was fulfilling many prophecies in that very psalm. Even as He made His way to the cross, He submitted to the scripture, knowing that all must be fulfilled. “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end” (Luke 22:37).
    The very basis of Christ’s teaching was the written word. “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:3-6). Not only did Jesus appeal to the scriptures for authority, but He counted them as the final authority in debate. When the Pharisees sought to entrap Him concerning marriage, Jesus asked, “Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). God spoke in words that could be read, and Jesus counted them as the final authority.
    Jesus came to fulfill scripture, upholding its authority to the smallest detail. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18). We can do no less than to uphold and defend the authority of the written Word.

- 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.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

When Fleece Starts Flying

By David A. Sargent

    In 2005, townspeople in Gevas, Turkey, watched in horror as one sheep jumped to its death, and then 1,500 others followed over the same cliff.
    When the villagers, whose livelihoods depended on the flock, reached the bottom of the mountain, they found a billowy white pile of death. Some 450 sheep were lost, but amazingly 1,000 survived. As the pile grew, the dead bodies cushioned the fall of other sheep.
    How did this happen? The shepherds responsible for protecting the flock had left the sheep on the mountain to eat breakfast, and then the fleeces started to fly. *
    We are a lot like sheep.
    We tend to be followers.  So, we must be very careful as to whom we follow.  “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14).  We need to ask ourselves: “What is the destination of the person or people that I am following?”  Consider Matthew 7:13-14 as you consider this question.
    We make bad decisions.  Our selfish search for “greener pastures” can lead to trouble and even death.
    We need a shepherd.  We need a caring shepherd to guide us, to lead us in the right direction.
    Jesus looked at a crowd of people.  Notice what He observed: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
    Here’s the Good News: God loves sheep.  God loves people.  Even though we make such foolish, fatal decisions, He still loves us and desires to save us.
    Some 700 years before Jesus came into this world, Isaiah made a prophecy about what He would do for us: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
    This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we can be saved and receive eternal life (1 Peter 2:24).  Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, gave His life for us so that we might live (John 10:11).
    God will save and add to His eternal fold those “sheep” (people) 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).
    Before “the fleece starts flying,” look to the Good Shepherd.  Listen to Him and follow Him.  He will lead you to safe, green, eternal pastures.  The Good Shepherd says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

- 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 “Shepherds” as cited in which also references “450 Turkish Sheep Leap to Their Deaths” by the Associated Press in

As Daniel Purposed in His Heart

By Dale Babinsky

    Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager, and to have to face the constant peer pressure of those who were around you? Just imagine what it would be like to have to spend those years in a foreign country, where you might have very little say over what you could or could not do. Imagine how difficult that would be in our youthful years.
    This was the case with Daniel and his friends, who were taken captive by the Babylonians in
606 – 605 BC, when they were likely only about 14 or 15 years old. Yet, even in a foreign land as a captive, Daniel had a resolve to not defile himself. Notice what is recorded about him, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). In this verse, Daniel resolves not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine.
    Daniel’s decision to abstain from the king’s food and wine was not just a matter of personal preference. It was a matter of faith. Daniel was committed to following the Mosaic Law, which prohibited the eating of certain food (Leviticus 11). This could not have been an easy decision, but Daniel purposed in his heart ahead of time, before the temptations would have come, to do the Lord’s will. Daniel was in a foreign land surrounded by others who did not share his beliefs. The peer pressure would have been great to go along to get along. However, Daniel remained faithful, and God rewarded him for it.
    Daniel’s resolve is a great example for us to remember to stand up for what God wants even when it may be difficult – even when surrounded by non-believers. When we purpose in our hearts to do what is right, we will be less likely to compromise godly values and beliefs. Remember, it is more important to be Christlike than to be popular.

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

Why Wouldn’t We Want Guidance For Our Home?

By Wes Garland

    When you look into many families, you see that a lot of them think that what they are doing, concerning their family, is working. They think that as long as it is working for them, then it is ok. I've even seen parents when being addressed by others in giving advice, get really upset and have hard feelings towards the ones trying to help. NOW UNDERSTAND THIS, I’m speaking about someone giving honest, good advice, and not forcing their opinion or just casting judgment based on their own thoughts. We do not have the right to force on others the opinion of ourselves (Romans 14). But when it comes to an honest observation, or a sense of help from someone who sees something that is truly apparent to them, or they have personally experienced whether it is professionally or personal, we always need to be open to being better. To be open, one has to be willing to receive information and to acknowledge that they do not know everything themselves. This comes through humility, honesty, and a desire to be better than we are now.
    Ask yourself these questions:
•Do we desire to be better as a spouse, parent, or child?
•Do we desire to have our homes to be the fullest that it can be?
•Do we desire to lead our family to God and be the best we can be?
•Do we desire to be pleasing in the sight of God as a family?
•Do we desire to hear those words, “Well done?”
    If we answered yes to these questions, then this will only come through guidance and help from God and others. We have to realize that we need help and that we cannot reach these results in a manner that is pleasing to God without guidance. This is why we have older people to teach the younger (Titus 2), those who have personal experience to help those who are in the same situations (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), and most importantly God, who has given us everything to guide our way (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3).
    If we want true success as a family, we must have guidance!
    Do you want guidance?

- Wesley Garland preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Faith and Feelings

By Dan C Bailey

    The scripture teaches us that we must "... walk by faith, not by sight "(II Corinthians 5:7). To walk by faith is to believe with all of one's heart what God has said. God has told us about immortality and heaven. We've yet to receive our immortal body to house our immortal soul, but we firmly believe that it will be so. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:53).
    It is sad and tragic that so many people trust their feelings more than the word of God. There is no doubt, but that false teaching on the Holy Spirit has led to much error along this line. People even pray that the Holy Spirit has led to much error along this line. People even pray that the Holy Spirit will directly guide them in their daily affairs. They wait to be moved by feelings which are supposedly from the Holy Spirit.
    It is interesting that Jesus said, "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God" (Luke 8:11).He also said, "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side"(Mathew 13:19).
    It is clear that the Spirit of God operates on the heart of man through His word.  Thus we read, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). By obedience to the word of God, we enter into the kingdom of Christ. In like manner, by obedience to the word as Christians, we will someday be saved eternally, and will enter into glory. James said, "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). And the apostle Paul told the brethren, "...I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (Acts 20:32).
     There is one more important thing to consider. Those who walk by faith have the very feelings with which God is pleased. They manifest love, compassion, mercy, peace, joy, comfort, and zeal, all as a result of the powerful word of the living God. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
    Let us stay with the truth. Let us never drift into the false feeling movement. Our direction comes from God by means of His word. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

- Dan C. Bailey serves as a minister with the State Street Church of Christ in Bristol, VA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Follow Me

By Clifton Angel

    In the recorded words of Jesus, the phrase "follow me" can be found 18 times in the text of the KJV New Testament. In recent years, however, with the development of internet forums and social media, the concept of following someone has taken on a very different meaning. I don't know that they coined the idea, but Twitter (now rebranded “X”) has certainly made it famous. It is used in internet forums. It is used by Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, et. al. You can actually "follow" a number of celebrities on social media and be able to read their personal thoughts as they share them from time to time. “Following," in the internet world, is the idea of showing interest in a person's life, subscribing to an organization's services, or even just being curious about a business' product.
    In the realm of internet following, there is not a great deal of commitment involved. If you realize you do not agree with a celebrity after following them, you can stop. If you realize a company's product is too expensive after following them, you can stop. If following a particular person or group is taking up too much of your time, you can stop following them. If your priorities and desires change at some point, which puts you in conflict with someone or some organization you are following, you can stop. You can even stop following someone and start again later if you choose to do so.
    Unfortunately, far too many treat their discipleship of Jesus the same way they treat their online networking. Once they read something Jesus has said that they don't agree with, they stop following Him. Once they realize the cost of following Jesus is too great, they stop following Him. Once they realize they don't want to put in the time required for following Jesus, they stop following Him. Once they realize their priorities and desires have changed from when they first started following Jesus, they stop following Him. Sometimes they go through a cycle of wanting to follow Him, not wanting to follow Him, wanting to follow Him, and not wanting to follow Him.
    When Jesus said, "Follow me," He made it clear that: 
        It will require every fiber of your being; 
        It will require every second of your day; 
        It will require every ounce of your will. 
He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). When we do this, our hearts are better, our thoughts are better, our lives are better, and, most importantly, our eternity is better.

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

Sunday, March 3, 2024


By Andrew Beasley

    Leaving the past behind frequently is among the greatest challenges a Christian may face. I imagine for the Apostle Paul, leaving the memories of his former life behind were a challenge as well. Think, for a moment, of what Saul of Tarsus was guilty of. He is the authority figure responsible for the murder of Stephen (Acts 8:1) as well as for the persecution of countless other Christians (Acts 8:3). It would be no surprise if his past actions weighed heavily on his soul. Yet as a Christian he recognized the significance of leaving that all in the past.
    In the same way, we cannot dwell on the former things either. Sometimes Christians are guilty of romanticizing the life that they used to live. Others are guilty of allowing the disappointments of their past to become stumbling blocks for their future. Paul seems to recognize the significance in leaving the glorification of our past, or the wallowing in sorrow over our past, behind and instead focusing on what matters: Christ, and the prize that accompanies following Him. Just a few verses earlier Paul said he desired to know Christ, the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering that he might attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:10-11).
    One thing Paul did, and one thing we must do, is focus on what lies ahead. Focus on the goal of going home to heaven. In order to do so, we must leave the past in the past.

- Andrew Beasley serves as a minister with the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

We Can Overcome

By Jared Green

    Claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces, is one of the most well known phobias in the world. Those who deal with claustrophobia report physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, ringing in ears, and confusion when in a small, enclosed space. While only a small part of the human population deal with claustrophobia, most of us know the feeling of the metaphorical walls closing in. When a school deadline is approaching and there is still work to be done on the big paper, it may feel as though the walls are closing in. When a person is under financial stress and his car breaks down, it may feel as though the walls are closing in. For Christians, that feeling often comes as the result of temptation. 
    We feel this because, frankly, temptation is difficult to overcome. On the one hand, temptation is difficult because it is fun to sin! That sentence may seem surprising, but James tells us, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Temptation is also difficult because it is all around us. John sums up temptation this way: “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16). From social media, to television, to the actions of people around us, we encounter temptation daily. Temptation is difficult to overcome!
    Scripture teaches us, however, that Christians do not have to suffer from spiritual claustrophobia. John teaches us that we can overcome the world. As difficult as it may seem to overcome the “world” (John’s word to describe temptation in 1 John 2:16), it is possible through our faith in Jesus. John says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). 
    Our faith in Jesus means that we believe he is our Savior, we submit ourselves to him in obedience, and we daily trust in him for the strength to overcome. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” Faith in Jesus brings us the victory to overcome the world! God loves you, and so do I.

- Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

A New Day Dawns Everyday

By Edd Sterchi

    Beginning in Job 38, God poses some questions to Job to try to get him to understand that God is all knowledgeable, all powerful, and in complete control. He begins by mentioning the creation of the earth and how the natural elements operate. In this section, God asks Job, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place...?” (v.12). The implication is that everything, even the dawn of each new day, is regulated by God.
    I have always enjoyed watching the sunrise. Oftentimes I will get up early, drive out to the lake, and watch the day dawn. It is always inspiring. To see the colors awaken as the sun makes its appearance always brings hope and joy to my heart. It never fails to brighten my life as the landscape brightens before me. And the wonder of it is that God has made it so that each dawn is unique. I have never seen any two that are exactly alike.
    Knowing that a new day dawns everyday helps to remind us that God is still a wonderful God and He is still in control. We, like the Psalmist, can proclaim, “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psa. 118:24).
    With each new day God makes it so that we have a fresh start at life. New blessings and opportunities await. With the knowledge of that, why shouldn’t we always be looking on the brighter side? “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16)
    As a concluding thought, I am including the following poem that I wrote several years ago:
                 Sunny Side Up
            A sunrise is God’s way of telling us...
   lighten up,
            ...and brighten up,
            and start each day anew
   heighten up,
            ...enlighten up,
            and take the sunny view.

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

The Greatest Gift!

By Dale J. Babinsky 

    Christmas morning! I remember as a child, my brother and I could hardly sleep the night before in anticipation of the gifts that we would find under the tree. Invariably, there was always one “big” gift each year, which we would open last. To build the anticipation, my dad would keep egging us on by saying, “I wonder what’s in that big box.” As a child, I definitely enjoyed receiving gifts on Christmas.
    As I grew older, I came to realize that there was more joy in giving than in receiving. To witness the merriment in someone else’s face as they open the gift that you have selected for them was a good feeling that far surpassed whatever I might receive. Paul understood this to be true as well, when he quoted the words of Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
    As we search the stores and websites in our modern age, from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, we are looking for just the right gift, the perfect gift, the greatest gift that we can give our loved ones. As we live here on earth, we should realize that God has given us that perfect gift. He has given us the greatest gift. He has given us His Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV). God has given us a gift to pay our debt of sin; a debt that we could never repay. By the blood of Jesus, we can have redemption.
    As we gather with our families and friends on this holiday, we should remember the God who gave us that greatest gift. Indeed we should always remember the God who loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for us on the cross of Cavalry. It is by Jesus’ blood that we can have the hope of eternal life with Him in heaven. You won’t find a better gift than that under anybody’s tree tomorrow morning!

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