Thursday, July 18, 2024

A “Life Lesson” at an Intersection


By Jim Faughn

    A few days ago, I observed what I consider to be one of those “life lessons” we hear about from time to time. I suppose that it would be more accurate to say that I observed something and considered it to be a life lesson.

    As I was making my way to see some of our members who are in a nursing home, I noticed that, some distance in front of me, there was a vehicle that was clearly identified as one that belonged to our local sheriff’s department. I don’t know if the sheriff or one of his deputies (or maybe even somebody else from his office) was driving, but there was no doubt about what kind of vehicle it was.

    There was also no doubt about what I saw. I watched as the vehicle approached an intersection. This particular intersection is one at which one of our church members was involved in a terrible collision a few years ago. At that time, somebody ignored the same red light as the one this sheriff’s vehicle was approaching. The result that time was that a young husband and two young children lost their wife and mother. 

    The other day, I watched as the light turned from green to yellow. It did not appear to me that the driver was slowing down at all. I continued to watch as the light turned red before this vehicle “sailed right through the intersection.” The light was just as clearly red as were the clear markings on the vehicle associated with an agency that is supposed to enforce the law.

    I have a couple of reasons for thinking that there was no real reason for somebody connected to law enforcement to ignore the law. First, neither the lights nor the siren were ever turned on. Second, the driver must not have saved much time because a few miles later, I saw the same vehicle arriving at a convenience store (again with no lights or siren).

     As I watched all of that unfold, I thought about how the behavior of people in positions of authority and/or influence has an impact on others. The immediate thought that went through my mind was something like, “Why should I be concerned about obeying traffic laws when you don’t?” A little more reflection has caused me to think less about the person in the vehicle and more about the guy I see in the mirror.

    As I’ve continued to think about the incident and the “life lessons” I’ve come up with, I’ve realized that all of us – to one extent or another – are in positions of authority and/or influence. We may not wear a badge or have some official title, but our behavior does have an impact on others.

    I thought about making a list of all of the “hats” I’ve worn and am currently wearing during my lifetime. I’m not really sure I could come up with a complete list. I am really sure, however, that the longer that list would get, the more I would be impressed with the fact that people are watching me. How I do (or do not) act, react, speak, etc. may have more of an impact than I can imagine.

    Beyond that, each of us may be having an impact on people we may never know and in ways we do not know. I seriously doubt that the driver of that vehicle even paid attention to the vehicle who was pretty far behind him and in a different lane than the one in which he was driving. He probably was just “going about his day.”

    We all do that. We all “just go about our days.” As we do, we may be thoughtlessly giving other people the impression that the rules that apply to them do not apply to us. 

    To use a “play on words,” all of our lives intersect with other people – usually several times a day. Have you ever thought about what other people see at those intersections?

    You may remember that, as Luke is inspired to begin the book we know as “Acts of the Apostles,” he refers to “…all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). I know that I am far from the first to suggest the significance of the order of the two words “do” and “teach.” There are a lot of implications about that order.

    I’m also not the first to suggest that there was a perfect harmony in what Jesus did and what He said. There was nothing about Him that “sent mixed signals.” 

    I’m just suggesting that each one of us would do well to follow the example of the One who went to the cross instead of the one who went to the convenience store.

- Jim Faughn serves as and elder for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. Be sure to visit the following for more great articles: Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith

Chance or Opportunity


By Joe Slater

    Does God give you chances, or does He provide opportunities? We sometimes treat those words as synonyms, but their meanings are quite different! Chance indicates something random, uncertain, even accidental – a roll of the dice, as it were. You have no way to influence the outcome.

    Opportunity, by contrast, implies that you play a role in choosing a course of action. You may choose wisely or foolishly, but it remains your choice. It is neither random nor accidental.

    Some things do, indeed, happen by chance. Solomon wrote by inspiration, “Time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Sometimes our plans don’t work out no matter what we do. We didn’t plan to become ill or be laid off from work, but it happened. Such is life.

    But not everything is subject to chance. God can and does provide opportunities. Paul urged the Galatians to “do good to all” as they had opportunity (Galatians 6:10). He understood when material support from the church at Philippi was delayed: “You surely did care, but you lacked opportunity” (Philippians 4:10).

    Our salvation depends not on chance, but on how we use the opportunity God has provided in Christ. Acts 14:27 refers to it as God opening “the door of faith.” As one chooses whether to walk through an open door, so we choose whether to trust Jesus and obey His gospel. This is neither random nor accidental.

    Your eternal destiny depends not on chance, but on what you choose to do with the opportunities God has given to you.

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

The Wheelbarrow in the Garage


 Bob Prichard

    Traveling evangelist Billy Sunday (1862-1935) once said, “Going to church don’t make anybody a Christian, any more than taking a wheelbarrow into a garage makes it an automobile.” There is plenty of truth here. The land is filled with church-going people who are less than they should be. They claim to be Christians, but their lives don’t show it. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne said that “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” The hypocritical life eventually catches up with even the most skillful of hypocrites.

    Just “going to church” will not make anyone a Christian, but neither does staying away from church make anyone any better. There are hypocrites at church each Sunday morning, but there are even bigger hypocrites staying home, pretending that what they are doing is more important than meeting with the saints for worship. Even if some of the saints seem more like “ain’ts,” why would anyone who claims to have any interest in the things of God not be in worship?

    Hebrews 10:23-25 reminds us of our responsibilities in worship. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” When we assemble together, we must consider one another by provoking to love and good works, as well as exhorting one another. Power words like “provoking” and “exhorting” indicates that this is serious business.

    There’s more to the story, though. The verses immediately following in Hebrews 10 warn, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (10:26-29). It is a serious thing to forsake the assembly of the saints!

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.

Lacking Nothing

By Clifton Angel

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing” (Deut 2:7, NKJV).

    God chose Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. By God’s power, Moses did just that. God promised the children of Israel that he would grant them possession of a wonderful land flowing with milk and honey. However, the children of Israel hindered themselves through disobedience, fear, lack of trust, and ungratefulness. Therefore, the first generation that came out of Egyptian bondage was not allowed into the promised land; rather, they all (except Joshua & Caleb) died within the 40-year wilderness wanderings per God’s righteous execution of judgement. It was their children that were brought near to the Jordan, taught by Moses, and lead into the land by Joshua (cf. Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua). On the occasion that our passage (Deut 2:7) was spoken, the second generation was being prepared by Moses for entrance led by Joshua. Moses was reminding and informing them of their fathers’ prior events, reminding of God’s law, and giving them new revelation of their responsibilities. In the midst of his words, Moses reminded them, “God has been with you; you have lacked nothing” (Deut 2:7).

    Backing up to Deuteronomy 1:6 and following, it is evident that the children of Israel lacked nothing in the areas of God’s Word (1:6a), God’s promises (1:6b–8), God’s leadership (1:9–15), God’s training (1:16–18), God’s protection (1:19–33), God’s discipline (1:34–46), nor God’s provisions (2:1–7).

    Today, if we are faithful members of the Lord’s body (His church, Colossians 1:18), we too can confidently say we lack nothing in all of these areas. Every area calls us to action and requires our efforts in order that we lack nothing; however, we are able to be supplied of our every need because of God! God’s faithful children lack nothing! Do you disagree? Are you confused? Would you like to understand how such could be so? If you feel that you are lacking something, maybe you are, and by God’s Word we can discover what it is and correct it, so that one day we can confidently say, “God has been with you; you have lacked nothing!”ß

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

"Father, Forgive Them"


By Dan C. Bailey

    When Jesus was upon the rugged cross of Calvary, He prayed for those who were responsible for His crucifixion saying, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do..." (Luke 23:34). The prayer came forth from the only sinlessly perfect man to ever live. It was prayed from a heart of love and spoken without malice. Yes, my friend, Jesus loved their souls and was concerned about their forgiveness. 

    On the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, Peter told many of the same crowd to "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). "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). 

    Yes, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness and His prayer was answered when the people repented of their sins and were baptized into Jesus Christ. Let us never forget that forgiveness involves not only our Lord, but also ourselves. Jesus wants us to be forgiven just as much as ever. The only question is, are we willing to obey Him in all things? "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

- 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

Friday, July 12, 2024

Blinded by the (Wrong) Light


By Jim Faughn

    Most who read this will be at least somewhat familiar with the experience that a man who was then known as Saul of Tarsus had as he traveled from Jerusalem to Damascus. If you are not familiar with this, you can read the original account recorded in the ninth chapter of Acts and recounted later by the man who was then known as Paul in the twenty-second and twenty-sixth chapter of that same book. Saul was making that trip in order to imprison and/or punish Christians. 
    All of that began to change when Saul saw an extremely bright light. The light was so bright that Saul lost his eyesight for three days. As those who have read this account know, the light that blinded him was the appearance of the One whose followers he was trying to forcefully discourage – and that’s a very kind way of expressing what Saul’s intentions were. Those early followers of Jesus were the recipients of almost unspeakable treatment from the man who went from being a notorious enemy of Jesus and His followers to being one of the Lord’s most influential ambassadors.
    Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus is somewhat similar to an experience which Isaiah had centuries earlier. You can find that experience recorded in the sixth chapter of the book that bears his name. Like Saul, Isaiah was overwhelmed by something he saw. As he would write,
…my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts! (Isaiah 6:5)
Without getting too deep into similarities and differences, let me suggest the following:
    In both instances, a man was overwhelmed by the majesty of Deity. This incredible experience humbled him. This,  in turn, led to a life of sacrificial service as an effective spokesman for God.
    It is my opinion that it is tempting for some who claim to speak for God today to be blinded by a light. Unfortunately, however, that light seems to be a spotlight. That light can blind a person in so many ways and to so many things. When that happens to any of us, there is always the risk of becoming, as an old saying goes, legends in our own minds.
    Helping people to know and understand the truth and wisdom that is found in God’s word is one thing. Allowing people (and maybe yourself) to think that you are the source of truth and wisdom is quite another thing. The spotlight all too often will not allow a person to see that difference.
    The spotlight has the potential of ruining men who may have at one time actually been faithful servants of and spokesmen for God. The spotlight can blind a person to the dangers of religious error, immoral lifestyles, materialism, and a host of other things.  
    The man who saw that bright light on the road to Damascus and would be baptized in Damascus (Acts 22:16) would spend the rest of his life “…preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” (Gal. 1:23)
    Paul’s “spiritual vision” was very clear. His concern was for those who heard his message. As he wrote of people whom he described as “lost” or “perishing,” he said this:
    In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 4:4-6)
    It seems to me that those who truly love the souls of people and their own souls would be well advised to read and carefully consider that.

- Jim Faughn serves as and elder for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. Be sure to visit the following for more great articles: Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.

Another Look at Being Blinded by the (Wrong) Light


By Jim Faughn

    Some who read this may have read a previous post of mine that dealt with what I believe may be a danger for those of us who preach and teach God’s word. The short version of what I wrote then is that there is the possibility that the fact that we are often “in the spotlight” can distort our message, our lives, and our eternal destiny. 

    This post is intended to “shed some light” (pun intended) on another dangerous issue. There are those who attempt to influence others by dazzling them with their personalities, their oratorical skills, impressive Hollywood style productions, and a host of other things. Those who experience their presentations are usually impressed with just that – the experience. When all of the theatrics and “fluff” is stripped away, there is just not much of a message at all. What may pass for a message is actually an effort to make the messenger look good and/or to make the hearer feel good.

    You may remember an account from the Bible about a situation somewhat like that. You can find it recorded in Acts 12:21-23. A ruler known to history as Herod Agrippa I, but who is referred to in this text merely as Agrippa, was no friend of the early Christians. As we begin reading Acts 12, we find information about him having James, the brother of John, killed and having Peter imprisoned with the intention of also killing him.

    As we come close to the end of the chapter, we read about a speech that Agrippa made. Interestingly though, we do not actually read about the speech. Instead, we find some information about how he looked and the impression that he made on the people.

    All that the Bible tells us about is the appearance of Herod Agrippa as he spoke and the effect his appearance and presentation made on those in attendance. The text informs us that he was “…arrayed in royal apparel…” (Acts 12:21).

    The Jewish historian, Josephus, provides more information. According to him, on occasions such as the one recorded in Acts 12, Herod wore a special garment made entirely of silver. He would position himself in such a way so as to reflect the rays of the sun and impress people. Apparently, as the sun rose, this reflection was extremely effective and, as the sun continued on its course across the sky, the color, intensity, etc. of the reflection would change and continue to impress.  If, in fact, this was the “royal apparel” worn by Herod on this day, it may go a long way in explaining why the people said, “…It is the voice of a god, and not of a man” (Acts 12:22).

    I suppose that it could be said that this was the forerunner of present-day “light shows.” Then, as now, people seemed to be much more impressed with style than they were with substance. Just as speakers can be blinded by the spotlight, hearers can be blinded by nothing more than dazzle. 

     You may remember that things didn’t turn out so well for Herod on that occasion, though. As Luke continues his inspired narrative in Acts, we read these words:

And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. (Acts 12:23)

We may not expect God today to punish in such a dramatic way those who are more interested in impressing people with themselves instead of encouraging them to honor God. At the same time, we can rest assured that…

…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)

Before we leave out consideration of Acts 12, we need to think seriously about these words;

But the word of God grew and multiplied. (Acts 12:24)

That information reminds me of something found in The Old Testament:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

    The focus must never be on us. Things like notoriety, popularity, acceptance, acclaim, and even monetary gain will mean absolutely nothing when we stand before the One who said twice, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5).  All of us – especially those of us who preach and teach – would do well to remember that.

    Those of us who listen to preachers and teachers need to do all we can to make sure that our lives are guided by always the consistent  “…light of the glorious gospel of Christ…” (2 Cor. 4:4) and not by something as inconsistent as a reflection that changes with the movement of the sun.

- Jim Faughn serves as and elder for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. Be sure to visit the following for more great articles: Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.