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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helping People Go Home


It is a heartwarming story, one that might restore for even the jaded a faith in humanity.  The sad news is that Jada Harper, barely seven years old, is dying of an inoperable, malignant brain tumor.  She has been at M.D. Anderson hospital seeking treatment since July.  She is in a coma and on a ventilator, but her parents wished for her to spend her last few days in the familiar surroundings of home.  The trouble was that they could not afford the $11,000 it would require to make the trip from Houston to their Harrison, Arkansas, home.  Little Jada would not have survived the trip by ground ambulance.  That is when a friend of the Harpers called a contact at FedEx.  The friend contacted Kelly Madewell, a flight operations specialist for FedEx Freight in Harrison.  FedEx made the compassionate decision to pay the $11,000 needed for Medway air ambulance to transport the little girl home to spend her remaining days.  Jada's grandmother summed it all up well when she said, "I'm so overwhelmed.  You don't know how we've searched for the past two weeks.  We've searched all over the U.S. to find somebody who could help us bring Jada home, and the answer was right here in our hometown.  These people at FedEx are miracle-workers"  
(www.harrisondailytimes.com).

At seven years old, Jada will make a happy transition from pain and sickness to the eternal joys of Paradise very soon.  Her story will not have a sad ending!  We can rejoice over this!  Yet, there are countless people with a spiritual sickness that will have an infinitely more tragic end unless we help them prepare for that journey to the long home of the soul.  Whatever it costs us in time, sacrifice, comfort, or even money should be balanced by the value of the soul involved (Matt. 16:26).  Our efforts will not likely draw the attention of the local or national press, but it will produce a recognition far higher some day (cf. Prov. 11:30; 1 Cor. 3:11ff).  How many people, touched by the gospel, might say what this grandmother said.  People are searching everywhere, looking for anything, while the answer might be in their hometown, near the cubicle, in their very neighborhood, in the places where they are every day.  We have the answer to the greatest question mankind will ever ask:  "What must I do to be saved?"  The question is, "Will we have the compassion to make this all-important decision to share the good news?"  People need help to get home!
 
Neal Pollard

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Visiting: It’s not just for preachers and elders

 
V   It verifies the words we speak.  When we tell somebody we care about them, we back that up by showing up in time of need or to lend a hand.  It validates the person, telling them they mean something to somebody else.  It vanquishes barriers.  It is so much easier to get to know a person—to be at ease with them—through the intimate contact a visit provides.

I   Visiting illuminates (Matt. 5:14; cf. John 8:12).  It is a tangible way for us to shine the light.  It also inspires.  It is infectious.  Seeing and hearing about others engaged in visitation will motivate others to do the same.  The more people inspired to visit, the more people visited and the more good done.  It influences people.  It influences non-Christians to study the Bible.  It influences visitors to return.  It influences weak and wayward Christians to come home.

S   Such strengthens others.  The Hebrews writer urges us, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees…" (Heb. 12:12).  Visiting does that.  People ready to give up may keep going, simply by a visit you make.  It also saves souls.  Ask those who have obeyed the gospel.  Some of them are in Christ today because someone else took the time to knock on their door, sit on their furniture, and share their lives.  Visiting substantiates.  It is proof of what tangible Christianity involves.

I   This effort improves.  It strengthens the one visiting and the one visited.  It improves the church's image.  It improves congregational morale.  Visitation also initiates friendships.  Finding our common ground with others, as we often do through visiting, has sparked many long-lasting friendships.  Visiting is inclusive.  It lets people "into" our lives.  It tells others we want them to be a part of us.

T   Visiting teaches.  It informs us about other people, but we also learn about ourselves.  We learn how vital visiting is to our own growth and happiness.  It is thrilling.  It truly is usually one of the more enjoyable commands given to us by God.  Rarely will you end a visit feeling down and depressed, but rather uplifted.  It touches others.  It bond us together.  It warms the very heart of God!
 
Visiting:  It's not just for preachers and elders.  It is needed.  It is enjoyable.  It can touch the eternal
 
--Neal Pollard

Exploring And Expressing

Have you watched the Ben Stein movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed?  I don't want to give anything away for those who have not yet gotten in to see it, but I can tell you this.  It has really stirred the ire of those whose faith rests in evolution and who must resist the idea of intelligent design with all their being!  There is even at least one website, entitled "Expelled Exposed" to show how Mr. Stein and his cronies are all wrong and articles suggesting Stein and others mislead scientists appearing in the movie (it is not stated anywhere how they would have responded differently to his questions if they knew his "agenda").  Watching the movie and hearing the criticisms bring a few things to mind.

Experts?  When leaders in the scientific movie who reject the possibility of intelligent design begin to give their theories about the origin of life, it makes you wonder about the depth and breadth of their expertise.  To be so confident in their convictions, what is the foundation?  It is possible to be wise in our own conceit.  Psalm 14:1 says, "the fool" (not the expert) "says in his heart, 'there is no God.'"

Expunged.  It is remarkable how radically and relatively swiftly the pendulum has swung.  Thinking back to the Scopes Trial, society has shifted from not even allowing evolution to be taught in schools to an environment where only such can be presented.  Creationism is gone from the text books and is dominantly eclipsed in the marketplace of ideas in our society, especially in science-related segments of it.

Exciting.  All the furor and derision over this movie betray a great deal of emotion.  If it is poppycock and mythology, why give it the time of day?  According to movies.com, the movie was thirteen in total ticket receipts this week and tenth last week.  That is raw dollars spent by ticket buyers (seventy of us bought our tickets for $6 each, a significant discounted rate).  It is only being shown in a fraction of the theatres and limited number of screens even in the theatres where it is being shown, yet it is hanging in there!  Many people are open-minded enough to take a listen.  This may generate opportunities to share the gospel.

I recommend the movie, if you have not yet seen it.  There are a few things that may be less suitable for younger viewers, but overall it sends the right message in a sly way.  Experience this excellent exploration into this most salient of debates.  You'll be glad you did.  Neal Pollard
 

The Float

THE FLOAT

This past Saturday the town where we grew up had a special celebration. They
have it every year; it is the Tipp City, Ohio Mum Festival. There were lots
of marching bands, lots of floats, lots of horses, etc. Typical small town
America good stuff!

Our great nephew Mason was scheduled to ride on a float with the Cub Scouts
(A great organization). For those in other countries who may not know what a
"float" is, it is normally a cart or wagon which is decorated with flowers
and colored paper, to draw attention to some organization, what they are
doing or what they stand for. Mason's two year old sister Megan didn't know
what they were talking about, saying that "Mason was going to be on a
float". They found that out later when she wanted to know when they were
going swimming. The only float she knew about was floating on the water. The
family never thought about the fact that she didn't know what a "float" was,
but then she is only 2 years old.

I wonder how many times we make the mistake of assuming that those around us
know what we are talking about when we discuss Christ and his Church? A new
member of our church one time confided that it took awhile for them to
understand the code we used in the church. I really didn't understand what
they meant and asked them to explain. They said you know, when you mean the
book of First Timothy you write it out as "1 Ti". When you mean the book of
Romans you will write "Rom.". When you mean the Old Testament you write,
"O.T." and or the New Testament you write, "N.T."

Since the time that conversation took place I try to make it a point to
write out completely the scripture citations I use. Each of us begins our
walk with Christ as "babes", not full grown with a full understanding of the
things of God. We grown however when we take in the word of God and let it
mature us and teach us. The writer of Hebrews tells us that is the way it
should work in Hebrews 5:12-14. Notice his words, "You have been believers
so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone
to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies
who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is
still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid food is for
those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the
difference between right and wrong." (NLT)

How about you, do you now know the difference between a "float" and
"floating"? What about "having the skill to recognize the difference between
right and wrong"? You see there will come a time when you will no longer be
able to use the excuse that you are only a baby in Christ. God expects you
to grow and be accountable for your own understanding. You can't live your
life as a 2 year old. Do these words speak to you: "You have been believers
so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone
to teach you again the basic things about God's word."

If they do, then how about applying yourself to reading and learning The
Word of God!

Russ Lawson

Monday, September 28, 2009

A good riddle


                                 GOLLUM'S RIDDLE

     In the book "The Hobbit" by JRR Tolkein, Bilbo Baggins meets Gollum for the first time. Bilbo is lost and needs to find his way out of Gollum's cave. Gollum will show him the way out if he can answer a riddle.  The riddle is this:

            This thing all things devours,
            Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
            Gnaws iron, bites steel;
            Grinds hard stone to meal;
            Slays king, ruins town,
            And beats high mountain down.

     Bilbo is stumped.  Do you know the answer?  Take a moment to try to figure it out before looking at the answer below.















     The answer to the riddle is "time".  It's so true.  Time will devour all living things, as well as everything else.  If you live long enough, you can see some of the effects of time.  Drive through a rural area sometime and take a look at the barns, sheds and possibly even houses that are deteriorated with time.  What you see there is taking place all around you.  Some things perish quickly (maybe even were designed to do so).  Other things, like the great Egyptian pyramids, seem to stand the test of time.  But, given enough time, everything will crumble.  And when Jesus returns, we'll be made aware of just how temporary the the things of this life are.

     "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.  The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the LORD endure forever." (I Peter 1:24-25).

Alan Smith

A Wonderful Savior

 
Since I was a boy, "A Wonderful Savior" has been one of my favorite hymns.  A multitude of reasons are cited in this beautiful song, all of which builds my adoration for the Lamb of God!  Let me suggest three reasons why I think Jesus is a wonderful Savior.
He has a wonderful nature.  Jesus is Divine and eternal.  He possesses all the traits of Deity without qualification or limitation (Col. 2:9).  That means He has the power to save "to the uttermost" (Heb. 7:25).  Not only does He, as God, have the power, but He has the love (1 John 4:8).  He has not only the power and the will, but also the desire.
He demonstrated wonderful love.  Again, what could drive the perfect God to die for woeful, sinful, and wicked man?  There was nothing in us deserving of love, so this says everything about Him and nothing about us.  He loves me because HE is wonderful (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:25; cf. Rev. 3:9).  
He has opened wonderful doors of opportunity.  Paul loved using this terminology.  He told Corinth in two letters about the Lord opening such doors for him (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12).  He told the church at Colosse (4:3).  He reported as much to the church at Antioch at the end of the first missionary journey (Acts 14:27).  We cannot separate these opportunities from the Savior.  Who do we seek to promote?  What is our message?  Who is the object of hope?  He opens doors because of who He is.  The Godhead, when we pray and seek His will, open the doors through divine providence.  How enriching and rewarding when we step through those wonderful doors!
Fanny J. Crosby had in mind the event up on Mt. Sinai when Moses received the ten commandments and the Lord descended in a cloud and stood with Moses there.  It is a beautiful picture of a God who condescends to lowly man.  That's what Jesus did!  He lowered Himself for us (Phil. 2:5ff).  Thank God for such a Savior as we have!
 
--Neal Pollard

God doesn't settle all of His accounts in October

TWO MEN OWNED  farms side by side...
 
One was a bitter atheist, the other a devout Christian.  Constantly annoyed at the Christian for trusting God, the athiest said to him one winter, "Let's plant our crops as usual this spring, each the same number of acres.  You pray to God, and I'll curse Him.  Then come October, let's see who has the bigger and better crop."
 
When October came the athiest was delighted because his crop was larger.  "See, you fool," he taunted, "what do you have to say for your God now?"
 
"My God," the other farmer replied, "doesn't settle all of His accounts in October."
 
KneEmail: "Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."  Acts 17:32; cf. 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:5-6
 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monkey Bread

   A painter was in the habit of going from town to town, finding barns that needed painting and bidding the job low to get the work.

    Well he thinned the paint so much that when the first good rain came, it washed the paint job right off. There was nothing anyone could do since he always left town after painting the barns.

   Well one time he got caught up with and he was standing before the judge and the judge pronounced sentence on him when he said "Repaint you thinner".

Neal Pollard

 

King Solomon’s Deadly Mistake

When my middle son, Dale, was in first grade, he was learning about King Solomon's three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines, about how not only was it wrong to have so many wives but how difficult it must have been for Solomon to keep up with all of their names.  His teacher told me that Dale's solution was simple:  "Couldn't he just call them all 'honey'?"  If only keeping up with their names was Solomon's most serious task with regard to these women!

            Reading 1 Kings 11, right off the heels of Solomon's hosting the Queen of Sheba and the extremely opulent exchange of gifts between them, we are impressed with an incredible flaw in Solomon's character.  Perhaps Ecclesiastes was written later enough in his life after 1 Kings 11 that he realized, with regret, the folly of such a lifestyle.  Consider some things about Solomon's deadly mistake.

            First, his mistake was for whom he had such great affection (1 Ki. 11:1-2).  They were foreign women from nations with whom God explicitly forbad such fraternizing!  God knew that such unions would lead men to leave Him (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14ff; 1 Cor. 15:33).  Be careful who or what you make the object of your affection—choosing wrong is a deadly mistake!

            Second, his mistake was in how he held them in affection (1-2).  These women of the world were apparently beautiful and seductive.  The word for "love" in these two verses speaks more to physical attraction and very little, if at all, to pure, spiritual love.  It might be said that Solomon pursued these women from lust.  From his own pen, he wrote of how dangerous such pursuit is (Prov. 5; 6:24-35; 7:5-27; etc.).  To follow his example today is a deadly mistake!

            Third, his mistake was in what his affection for them led him to do (3-10).  It led him to worship the idols revered by these pagan women.  It also led him to ignore God's commands and even outright rebel against them!  The natural consequence of following in his steps is the same today—a choice must be made.  Choosing the path of sensuality prevents one from obeying God.  Obeying God makes it impossible to, at the same time, pursue such a sinful path.  Choose like he did, and you make a deadly mistake!

            Finally, his mistake was in what his affection for them cost him (11).  His pursuit of these women cost him the kingdom!  God took it from him through the rebellion of Jeroboam and the folly of Rehoboam, his son.  Following Solomon's example is costly!  It will often cost one dearly—financially, socially, and physically.  Lacking repentance, it will surely cost one eternally!  It can cost us the kingdom, too!  Yet, so many imitate Solomon's deadly mistake.

            May we take a page from inspiration and learn from Solomon's deadly mistake. 

Neal Pollard

           

 

 

           

B&P

The following information was taken from this link:  http://www.austincofc.org/whatwestandfor.htm - if you cannot access this page, here is the full content of the information:  B

Austin Church of Christ (Christian) 

What We Stand For

By President James A. Garfield*

  • We call ourselves Christians, or Disciples of Christ.

  • We believe in God the Father.

  • We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and our Savior.
    We regard the divinity of Christ as the fundamental truth of the Christian system.

  • We believe in the Holy Spirit, both as to His agency in conversion and as indwelling in the heart of the Christian.

  • We accept both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures as the inspired Word of God.

  • We believe in the future punishment of the wicked and the future reward of the righteous.

  • We believe that the Deity is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God.

  • We observe the institution of the Lord's Supper on the Lord's Day.
    To this table we neither invite nor debar; we say it is the Lord's Supper for all of the Lord's children.

  • We plead for the union of God's people on the Bible and the Bible alone.

  • The Christ is our only creed.

  • We maintain that all the ordinances should be observed as they were in the days of the apostles.

* James A. Garfield, 20th president of the United States was the last of our "log cabin" presidents. He was the first person associated with Christian Churches / Churches of Christ to become a US President.  During much of his life he served as a "lay preacher"   As the "principled reformer" Congressman became well-known during the post-Civil War period, he was asked many times about the group of believers with whom he worshiped.  This classic statement was his answer.  Sadly he was assassinated by a disgruntled patronage seeker in 1881, his first year as President, too soon to put any of his "decency" reforms into practice.  Another facet of the man was his mathematics skill.  He developed the "trapezoid proof" of the Pythagorean Theorem.  Other U.S. presidents who had some connections with this body of Christians have been Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan and some wonder if Abraham Lincoln might have been, too.

Used with permission of Christian Standard. Copyright article 1st appeared, April 11, 2005.
The Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Visit us on the Web at www.standardpub.com.

 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Different Mindset

How long has it been since someone said you are "the bee's knees"?  In
my case, never.  But my mother might have been given that compliment,
and my grandmother almost certainly was.  The phrase was popular in
the 1920s (along with "the cat's pajamas" or "the cat's whiskers"),
and was always intended as a statement of appreciation.  Use it today,
however, and you may receive either a blank stare or a slap in the
face.  My advice: Avoid using the phrase.

Our world is constantly changing.  Helping us to grasp that fact is
the newest edition of Beloit College's "Mindset List".  Ron Nief and
Tom McBride, professors at Beloit, have published this list for the
past 12 years.  In doing so they point out things that the incoming
college freshman class has always understood in their world.  In many
cases it's jolting to realize how different their world is from the
world we older folks have known.

Number 3 on their list is that the Green Giant has always been Shrek,
not the big guy who picks vegetables.  No, "Shrek", the movie, was not
released until 2001, but that's about when the students'
impressionable minds were soaking up experiences and images.

If you tell today's college freshmen to "shake down" the thermometer
before using it, they won't understand.  All they have known (unless
their moms are dedicated to old fashioned devices) are the digital
types.  In my childhood days one could only watch cartoons on Saturday
mornings.  These young folks have always had access to the Cartoon
Network 24-7.  They have always been able to enjoy blue Jell-O.  New
to us?  Sure, but these and other items on the Mindset List are old
hat for today's freshmen (and you might have to explain the phrase
"old hat" to them, too).

All of this makes the Bible even more remarkable.  Though the oldest
portions of this book are about 4,000 years old, it's still relevant
and fresh.  The language in which it has been translated may need to
be updated now and then, but its content needs no revision.  It is as
Peter said long ago: "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man
as the flower of the grass.  The grass withers, and its flower falls
away, but the word of the Lord endures forever" (1 Peter 1:24,25).

Here's a sample that is about 3,000 years old: "A soft answer turns
away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).  Would
anyone deny that this principle is still valid?  Or how about this
statement in Proverbs 17:28: "Even a fool is counted wise when he
holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive."
The words are ancient, but they're still true.

Here is one of the best statements of the timeless quality of the
Bible: "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than
any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,
and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).  What makes the Bible so
different from all other books?  It is "the word of God".

God knows how to communicate with mankind, regardless of the age in
which they live, the language they speak or their socioeconomic
background.  Those who doubt this claim need only to pick up the Bible
and give it a fair reading.  Doing so may lead to a new (and improved)
mindset.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him
in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you'd like
to discuss these ideas further.
Timothy D. Hall

Two Types of People

There are two types of people in this world: those who will live with God eternally in heaven and those who won't. In the church today it has become painfully obvious that that many want to be a part of that first group; however, they do not want to put any effort towards it. Many have become "pew warmers."  This simply means that many are not very diligent Christians.  They are Christians who come to worship services, sit in the pew for an hour, then leave and go home.  This is all they do for the Lord's church, warm pews.   Sadly there are many who are not even this diligent.  It has become a struggle to get Christians to come to church activities, Bible study, and many times even worship.  I certainly do not mean to imply that all Christians are this way; there are many Christians who are very diligent and active in the Lord's church.  However, it should be that all Christians are this way, but that is simply not the case. The church seems to be thought of as a burden to many, and not the glorious life giving body of Christ that it actually is.  This is not the attitude that Christ wants or accepts in His people.  Jesus when speaking to His disciples said: "'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it'" (Matthew 16:24, 25).  Jesus wants the people in His church to have the attitude that they will follow Him at any cost.  There are two types of people it this world: those who will live with God eternally in heaven and those who won't. Where do you fit in?
 
--Garrett Bookout
 

A Wonderful Message

They both have been battling cancer.  Both have endured similar struggles that often accompany the disease.  They are sisters – in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  They even share almost identical names: JoAnn and Joan (also pronounced "Jo-Ann").

One (JoAnn) finished her courageous battle with cancer in death yesterday.  The other (Joan) continues to fight her battle with a strong faith and a marvelous attitude.

When the realization came that JoAnn's struggle was drawing to a close, she sent a message to her fellow-sufferer and friend, Joan.  The message was communicated through their sons who graduated high school together.  The message was one of faith and hope.  The message was brief but powerful.  JoAnn told Joan that…

"Everything's gonna be okay."

How can everything be okay when you're facing the trials – even the life-threatening storms – of life?  JESUS would love for you to know…

Everything is gonna be okay because Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to accomplish a special mission: to provide salvation from sin.  For this reason Jesus died on the cross as payment for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2; 4:9-10).  His blood covers the debt of our sin when we in faith (Acts 16:30-31) and repentance (Acts 17:30-31) are baptized (immersed) into Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and continue to follow Him faithfully (1 John 1:7).

Everything is gonna be okay because Jesus rose from the dead.  "He was delivered over to death for our sins," but He "was raised to life for our justification" (Romans 4:25).  By His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus defeated death and won the decisive victory over the one who "had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).  His resurrection guarantees our own resurrection when He returns (1 Corinthians 15).  Because of Jesus, death does not have the final word!

Everything is gonna be okay because Jesus is preparing a place for the faithful child of God.  Jesus' disciples were troubled with the news of His departure.  He comforted them saying, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3).  

Thomas was confused about the way.  "How can we know the way?" he asked.  Jesus said, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

Thank you, JoAnn, for reminding Joan and the rest of us that everything IS gonna be okay because Jesus IS the Way – the way to forgiveness and eternal life in a wonderful place called Heaven.

YOU can also have this assurance if you will trust and obey Christ. 

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent, Minister

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where Do My Tears Go?

"Where do my tears go?"  Such sounds like the inquisitive, impulsive question of a child.  Physically, tears are either wiped away or they eventually evaporate on the cheek, if they do not fall to the ground.  Spiritually, something wonderful happens to the tears shed by the child of God.  David said so in Psalm 56:8-9.

My Tears Go Into God's Collection.  David pleads, "Put my tears into Your bottle."  Do you remember being a child and getting a jar to collect your favorite samples from nature?  Perfume was put into bottles from the earliest times.  David implies how precious our tears are to God, that he would collect them.  The perfect Father does not relish the thought of His children's hurts, but He longs for the opportunity to comfort us when we do.


My Tears Go Into God's Compilation.  David asks, "Are they (my tears) not in your book?"  This seems more like an entry into a ledger or record book.  David is talking about the mistreatment he is receiving from the hands of his Philistine enemies.  David knows God is for him (9), so he relishes the idea that God, in recording his tears in His book, will pull refer back to those tears as evidence to support His decision to punish them.  When sinners do evil to us, God will remember and settle the matter His way (94:1ff).


My Tears Go Into God's Cache.  By faith, David saw the effectiveness of his tears and crying.  He says, "When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back" (9).  My agony is used in His arsenal, my weeping is His weaponry.  If I go to Him when I am hurting, He will defend me.


Throughout this Psalm, David says he knows what to do when afraid or oppressed.  He expresses his abiding trust in the Lord.  Even if he sheds tears, he knows that God knows what to do with them!  What a wonderful Father we have, who takes our tears.  Someday, He will take them away from us forever (Rev. 7:17)!
 
--Neal Pollard
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Are You Perfect?

       What a silly question.  Obviously no one is perfect except for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  So then this raises the question of what is being talked about in James 1:4, "And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  How could one possibly be "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing?"
       The word "perfect" used here in James 1:4 is not talking about living a perfect life, but is talking about reaching, fulfilling, and meeting the end we were designed for.  Let me give an illustration to make this less confusing.  When we are trying to drive a screw into a wall, we want to find the screwdriver that fits the particular shape of the screw (a Flathead in this case).  So, we pull out the drawer and find a screwdriver that has a gold handle with a huge ruby at the bottom.  The shaft is made of diamonds and is overall crafted with the most superior skill.  However, the tip of this screwdriver is a Phillips and will not fit this particular screw.  So, we go back into the drawer and find a cracked, rusty, splintering screwdriver that is very old and used, but the tip of this screwdriver is a Flathead.  This particular screwdriver is "perfect" for completing the task.
       Just because we are not sinless .does not mean that we cannot meet our designed end.  We have all sinned (Romans 3:23), but "when we walk in the Light as He is in the Light...the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).  The task the Lord has given us is to obey His commands and live faithfully.  This is going to require maturity and endurance through the struggles and trials we face in this life.  We should grow and strengthen ourselves in preparation for the upcoming battles we will have.  Let's also not forget about the ultimate goal of heaven.  So, are we sinless?  Of course not.  But, are we perfect?   According to James 1:4, those who are maturing, living faithful lives, and completing the task at hand are exactly that.   We can all complete the task and meet the designed end the Lord has for each of us, but this means we must live faithfully according to His word.  Let's make sure we are doing so.
 
--Brett Petrillo
 

THREE-TENTHS OF A MILE FROM HOME


Fall is a time of year where odd and unexpected weather events occur.  Forecasters for a time predicted six plus inches of snow in Denver yesterday for the first day of fall.  Many places are experiencing near 90 degree weather.  In the deep south, particularly Georgia, there has been an inundation of rain and, consequently, flooding.  So far, nine people have died in these floods.  None of these deaths was more tragic than the one that occurred early Monday morning.  39-year-old Seydi Burciaga had ended her night shift at Sam's Club and was trying to get to the home in her Austell, Georgia, subdivision.  A creek normally a few feet wide had severely overrun its banks, covered the road, and swept her into trees behind an elementary school.  She was on the phone with a 911 operator for 12 minutes, enough time for rescue workers to get to the scene but not enough time to find her and her minivan.  Not long after daybreak, waters receded and they found her in the backseat of the submerged vehicle.  She had died 500 yards from her house, where her husband and two children slept.

Words cannot describe the frustration, heartache, and tragedy felt not only by those who knew and loved her, but those who tried to help her and others who have heard about this.  If she had died 5,000 miles from home, it would not have lessened the pain felt by loved ones mourning her.  Yet, there is something especially hard to swallow about one getting so close to home and never making it.

Some statements in scripture are heartbreaking to me.  "You are not far from the kingdom" (Mark 12:34).  "You almost persuade me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28).  "For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Peter 2:21).  "Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God" (Hebrews 12:15).  "Give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away" (Hebrews 2:1).  "Not far." "Almost."  "Turn from."  "Fall short."  "Drift away."  These describe a greater tragedy than physical drowning.  They constitute warnings about having heaven in one's grasp, only to let it slip away.  It is tragic for anyone to be lost, but especially when one is so close!  Let us be sure that we are "in Him," and let us be sure we stay "in Him."
 
-- Neal Pollard

Put It To Death

PUT IT TO DEATH

"Mommy, my turtle is dead," the little boy, Freddie, sorrowfully told
his mother, holding the turtle out to her.

The mother kissed him on the head, then said, "That's all right. We'll
wrap him in tissue paper, put him in a little box, then have a nice burial
ceremony in the back yard. After that, we'll go out for an ice cream soda,
and then get you a new pet. I don't want you...." Her voice trailed off as
she noticed the turtle move.

"Freddie, your turtle is not dead after all."

"Oh," the disappointed boy said. "Can I kill it?"

Using the mind of a child, it's easy to see why Freddie felt that way.
In his immature mind, the "blessing" of an ice cream soda more than made up
for any loss suffered through the death of a pet.

There is a sense, though, in which the benefits of death far outweigh
any sadness we might feel. The apostle Paul frequently wrote of the need to
"put to death" the sinful behavior that once characterized our lives. We're
well aware of what he's talking about because we constantly struggle with
temptation. Just when we think we've given our sins the death blow, they
resurface with new life. Putting them to death is not an easy thing to do.
It helps to be reminded of the benefits of doing so:

"For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the
Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Rom. 8:13)

The thought of "living" with God far outweighs any sadness I might
experience from putting to death those "deeds of the body."

Father, as I look at my sinful behavior which resurfaces from time to
time only to hurt and disappoint you so much -- that behavior which you hate
even more than I do, enough to sacrifice your only Son -- I have only one
question: Can I kill it?

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

AVOIDING SHELL SHOCK


    The term "shell shock" was coined during World War I to describe the physiological reaction of soldiers who faced the seemingly endless barrage of artillery fire and shelling from the enemy.  Bombardments could literally go on constantly for over a week in an attempt to weaken the defenses of soldiers who would then be attacked in an offensive.  Soldiers would snap, running out of bunkers above the trench line to certain death, would get uncontrollable tremors and similar nervous conditions that could stay with them for a lifetime.  Sometimes, as the result of shell shock, men would become mutes.
    I ran across an interesting observation concerning shell shock.  Joseph Persico writes,
    In a curious sociological phenomenon, as the level of
    responsibility rose,
the incidence of shell shock
    declined.  An officer looking after his men,
inspecting        
    fortifications, checking on rations, in short, a man whose

    attentions were directed outward--was less likely to
    crack than a simple,
uneducated solider left alone on
    sentry duty or crouched in a shell hole for hours, even

    days, his thoughts fixed obsessively on his fate
    (Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918: World War I And Its Violent Climax, Random House: 2005, p. 155).
What a remarkable finding!  Under conditions most of us cannot imagine, some men were able to keep themselves sane and collected while those around them fell apart encountering the same conditions.  The difference was a matter of focus.
    I have seen people crumble, their faith destroyed and their lives a mess, when facing the trials of life.  Yet, I have seen others face even greater trials, seemingly unbearable crises, who have remained calm, collected, and Christlike through them.  The difference usually boils down to something similar to Persico's findings.  Those who continue to keep their focus outward, despite personal duress and difficulty, are able to "keep it together."  Those who merely obsess and focus on themselves are destined to crumble facing the trials of life.
    Paul told the church at Philippi, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (2:3-4).  This is wisdom not only for pleasing the Lord, but for living a more fulfilled, serene life.  Satan and the world will bombard us in ways that seem relentless and endless.  Only when we focus outwardly rather than inwardly will we be able to survive!
 
--Neal Pollard
 

THE JOURNEY

"What is your life?"  There will never be a more relevant question than that.  Man answers this differently than God.  Some say, "Your life is your career and the legacy you create there."  Others say, "You life is what you do to get what you want."  You might say, "Your life is your family."  For many, "Your life is your popularity with others"--how many friends you had and who they were.  
None of these answers are adequate.  They cannot answer the question to God's satisfaction.  Sometimes, it is a matter of perspective.  In the 1930s and 40s, Charlie Grimm was the manager of the Chicago Cubs.  They were in the middle of a terrible losing streak and a bad year.  One of Grimm's scouts phoned him with some exciting news, saying, "Charlie, I've just seen the greatest pitcher in the country.  He pitched a perfect game.  27 strikeouts.  No one even hit a foul ball off of him until there were two outs in the ninth.  I've got him right here now.  What should I do?" Grimm allegedly said, "Sign the guy who hit the foul ball.  We need hitters."  What is it that you desire most?  If it is a home in heaven, then it is vain to strive for it by holding dear to worldliness.  It is not wrong to have career, personal, family, and friend aspirations, but when we go after these as the objects of our primary concern, we've gone after a pitcher when a hitter's what we needed.
God has to tell us what our life is all about.  He does that in the Bible.
Life Is A Journey.  God's people are told to see life as a pilgrimage through this earth (Heb. 11:8-10).  Each of us has a soul and death is not the end of the journey, so we must make adequate preparation for the eternal place we are going.  When I started doing foreign mission work, more experienced travelers gave me advice that I have tried to pass along to others.  I have told the other men going to Cambodia, "Travel light."  This principles applies to our journey through this life.   Activities like those catalogued in Galatians 5:19-21 are fleshly lusts that war against the soul, they are heavy baggage to carry.  One day, you'll have to check all that baggage at the end of time.
Life Is A Very Brief Journey.  The Bible tells us our days pass by rapidly (Job 7:6-10; 9:25-26; 2 Cor. 4:18).  The number of days we are given is uncertain and we cannot know the number (Job 14:1-2; Psalm 144:4).  Every time we turn around, we are reminded of how fast time is going.  You may have children or grandchildren, but you can vividly remember when you were a child as if it was yesterday.  We are sprinting toward the finish line at a rapid pace.
Life Is A One-Way Journey.  We must prepare now (Titus 2:11-13) as there is no opportunity to do so after death (cf. Luke 16:26).  If we die unprepared, we do not get a second chance.
Life Is A Journey The End Of Which Is Certain.  Solomon wrote, "The living know that they shall die" (Ecc. 9:5).  After deth is the judgment (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12).  The ants teach us a valuable lesson about preparation (Prov. 30:25).  They diligently work all "summer" to prepare for the "winter."  They never become slack, but continuously and tirelessly seek their goal by using their abilities.  Someday, each of us is going somewhere for eternity.  Some procrastinate, like Felix (Acts 24:25ff).  Some sorrowfully accept a life without God, like the rich young ruler (Luke 18:24).  We need to work diligently because we will lose everything if we lose heaven.
Have you made proper preparation for the journey?  This life is your only opportunity to do so.  Someone once said, "Go out tonight and look straight up at the cosmos.  All those stars, so far away!  And the creator of all that looks back at you with love so close, so vast, so strong, and with such yearning for you."  He loved you enough to let His only Son die for you (John 3:16).  He loves you so much that the last thing He wants is for you to die lost (2 Pet. 3:9).  He will not take you to heaven if you did not prepare for the journey!
 
-- Neal Pollard

Feeding Sin

A coast guard vessel was cruising the Canadian Arctic when the men spotted a polar bear stranded on an ice floe. It was quite a novelty for the seamen, who threw the bear salami, peanut butter, and chocolate bars. Then they ran out of the food. Unfortunately, the polar bear hadn't run out of appetite, so he proceeded to board their vessel. The men on ship were terrified and opened the fire hoses on the bear. The polar bear loved it and raised his paws in the air to get the water under his armpits. We don't know how they did it, but eventually they forced the polar bear to return to his ice pad.

Does anyone know the source of this illustration?

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Incredible Incubator Bird

       When we talk about incredible animals that prove God's existence, the Megapode (or Australian Incubator Bird) is one that defiantly makes the list.  Let's discover why this bird is so incredible.
       When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she will search for a nest that the male has build and make sure it is suitable to her.  The male will make the nest about 3 feet into the ground, 10 or more feet above the ground, and sometimes 50 feet across.  This is obviously not your typical bird's nest here.  When the female approves, she will then lay her eggs, 20-35 of them, at a rate of one egg ever 3 days for up to seven months.  It is interesting that this bird is not much bigger than a three pound hen, and yet it lays eggs as large as an ostrich egg, and many of them.  Once she is done laying her eggs she will leave the nest and never return or take any part in the incubation.
       If this wasn't amazing enough already, the male's responsibility is what is really astonishing.  While most birds sit on the eggs to keep them warm, this bird doesn't.  With the eggs buried deeply in the nest, the male works very hard to make sure the nest is at a precise 91 degrees.  If it is even one degree higher or lower, the eggs will not survive.  So, to maintain the temperature, the male will dig down and check the temperature of the eggs.  If it is a particularly hot day, he will put material on the top of the nest, such as sand, to help block the sunlight and keep the eggs cool!  Or if it is a cool day, he will add additional materials to ensure the eggs are kept warm.  Sometimes he will make the nest in just the right way to let sunlight warm the eggs.  Even more incredible is that sometimes the male will use volcanic action to help warm the eggs!  Another responsibility of the male is to keep the nest at 99.5% humidity (if it drops below 80%, the chicks will die).  So, he will dig holes in the nest so moisture is able to get in.  The male digs down many times per day to check on the eggs and adjust the nest if needed.  Scientists today are not completely sure how the male incubator bird is able to check the temperature of the eggs (they think either his tongue or his beak), but whatever the mechanism may be, it is very sensitive and is able to keep precise measurements.
       As soon as they break out of their eggs, they know immediately that they will need to dig out of the nest.  They were never told this is what they needed to do, but they are born with instinctive directions only God could have implanted.  It will take them 3 days to dig out of the nest.  The chicks will dig their way out of the nest and then they are completely on their own.  The good news is, they will hatch with feathers and the capability to fly.  They are not fed or cared for in any way.  They are now dependent on themselves for survival.  How could a brand new bird, who has never even seen the sun before, know to dig its way out of the nest, know how to fly, and know how to take care of all of its survival needs?  This is obviously not learned from either parent.
       Evolution talks about how a creature will evolve when there is a need for change.  How could the incubator bird know it needed to check the temperature of the eggs, much less keep them at a precise 91 degrees?  How could he know to keep the humidity above 81%?  How do the chicks know to they are under the ground and need to dig their way out?  And how do the chicks know how to survive without ANY guidance?  An animal that is dead cannot evolve into a different form.  With evolution, this incredible bird would have gone extinct (not to mention MANY others) a long time ago. The Supreme Being of this universe could only have created this bird.  The only possible way for this bird to even be alive today is if God had a hand in all that it does.  Our God truly is an awesome God.  Let's praise Him for His wonderful creation.
 
--Brett Petrillo

"The Burdens of Life"

    It is the fate of all men everywhere to have burdens (2Corinthians 5:1-4). Some of the deepest, heaviest burdens are not always seen. If we could readily identify the fierce battles that continually take place in the minds of some men and women, perhaps it would cause us to be less harsh in our judgments of others. While there is no excuse for sin (John 15:22), it helps to know where a person is "coming from."
    The Bible teaches us to do three things with our burdens: (1) "Every man shall bear his own burden" (Galatians 6:5).  Some burdens (responsibilities), are non-transferable. God has given to each man his own work (Phil. 2:12). No one can believe for you; no one can repent of your sins for you; no one else can confess Christ and be baptized for you. These things are your own responsibilities. Others can encourage, but they can't do them for you. 
    (2)  "Bear ye one another's burdens"  (Galatians 6:2).  Some burdens are to be shared with spiritual brethren (Gal. 6:1).  We are to help those who have the burden of sorrow (Romans 12:15);  We can share some of the burdens of the church leadership (Hebrews 13:17). Some play the espionage game constantly spying on the Elders or the preacher waiting for them to "goof up."  Rather that highlighting their weaknesses, why not work with their strong points. How often do we pray for the church leadership? Looking at the resumes of the "12" they is not very impressive, yet Jesus had confidence in them and worked with their weaknesses till they were overcome. Some may be enduring the burden of doubt or despair. A word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, or a visit to pray with them can help ease that burden.
    (3)  "Cast thy burden upon the Lord" (1Peter 5:7). Some burdens are beyond the reach of human effort and aid.  Such burdens can only be placed on Christ's shoulders.
    We should be willing to assume those burdens of responsibility that are ours; those burdens of duty that cannot be excused, blamed, or transferred to others. At the same time, we should make an attempt to be conscious of the burdens of others that we can help with.
    Jesus had a burden to bear that no one else could bear. It troubled His soul (John 12:27);  it caused His soul to be "exceedingly sorrowful" (Matt. 26:38);  so He laid face down on the ground in prayer and handed the burden over to God (Matt. 26:39). He was strengthened by an angel (Luke 22:43), and was able to bear the burden all the way to Calvary; "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46).
    We have a responsibility to self, to others, and in all things: to God.
                                    - - Toby Miller

The Center of the Universe

What IS the center of the Universe?  This question has been debated through the centuries....

In ages past, many ancient Greek philosophers assumed that the Sun, Moon, stars, 
and naked eye planets circled the Earth.  This is known as the geocentric model
the theory that the Earth is the center of the universe and other objects orbit around it.  Belief in this system was common in ancient Greece and was embraced by Aristotle and Ptolemy. The geocentric model was generally accepted into the early modern age.  From from the late 16th century onward it was gradually replaced by another model…

In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus published his treatise, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, in which he made the case for the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of the universe.  His model encountered much opposition initially, but over the next two hundred years, it gradually replaced the geocentric (or Ptolemic) model.  The effect of Copernicus' work has been called "The Copernican Revolution" because it completely changed how the universe is viewed.

Another "Copernican Revolution" is needed...

I must realize that I am not the center of the universe; neither are you.  To think and act like we are the center of the universe – that "everything revolves around me" – is both selfish and sinful, and we are sorely and desperately mistaken.  If we embrace this self-centered view, we are destined for destruction!

God has revealed the Truth of the matter.  I am not the center of the universe.  The SON (yes, S-O-N) is!

"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).

Through Jesus we have a revolutionary paradigm shift - from being self-centered to Christ-centered, from sin to deliverance, from condemnation to salvation.  Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we might have forgiveness, the hope of eternal life, and the correct understanding of the Center of the Universe!

Jesus WILL save those who: believe and trust Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). 

Won't YOU accept the SON as the Center of your universe?

David A. Sargent, Minister

WHY DID GOD DIVORCE HIS FIRST WIFE?

  In Jeremiah 3:14, we read, "Turn O backsliding children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you..."  This verse teaches us that the physical nation of Israel was spiritually married to God. Furthermore, it was the OT Law that was the "marriage contract" between God and His people. In the NT, Paul affirms that the physical Jews were at one time spiritually married to God. However, while married, Israel had forgotten her vows and obligations, thus committing spiritual adultery. "Thou has forsaken Me" (Jer. 2:13).  Even the preachers in God's Israel were preaching falsehood! (Jer. 23:13-16).  As a result, God divorced them and refused to take them back. He even told Jeremiah, "Don't even pray for these people, for I will not hear thee!" (Jer. 7:16).
    In Romans 7:4, we learn that since "God" died [in the form of Jesus], the Jews were freed from their first marriage covenant so they could marry again.  When Christ died on the Cross, the OL died with Him (Colossians 2:14).
    In 2Corinthians 11:2, we read, "For I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a pure virgin to Christ."  How did Paul present them as a pure virgin to Christ? By adorning them in "sound doctrine." We are told, "Adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" (Titus 2:10).  Without the adornment of the doctrine of Christ, man does not have God with him (2John 9).
  Today, I fear the "Bride's attire" is being forgotten. Paul warned, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine..." (2Timothy 4:3).
    Glamorous preachers with smooth tongues may recite cute nursery rhymes, bedtime stories, quote poems, give dissertations on philosophy, and shallow sermonettes, but those things won't convict anyone of sin or solidly convert him to Jesus Christ.  Today, as always, there is a need for preaching sound doctrine - - the plain, positive, old Jerusalem Gospel that brings about conviction to those who will hear it.  Think of the consequences if Peter had preached a nicely polished, generalized sermonette on the day of Pentecost rather than telling the people they were guilty of crucifying the Son of God (Ax 2:23).  A tragedy today is that many good and honest people are not being told what they must do to be saved, and being misinformed, they are never married to Christ.
    God was greatly concerned when Israel forgot the Bride's Attire (sound doctrine), and He charged the priests and prophets with spiritual adultery, with walking in lies, and compromising His word! (Jeremiah 23).  Do you think God's attitude has changed when modern preachers do the same thing?  Or, do you believe "our God changeth not" (Malachi 3:6).
    When one adorns himself with the doctrine of Christ, the sincere penitent believer surrenders his life to Christ, to love, honor, and obey throughout this life. In order to adorn one's self in the doctrine of Christ, he must first know the doctrine of Christ.  Study your Bible.
 
- -  Toby Miller

on line bible study

 
 
 
http://www.netbiblestudy.net/faithful - "Are You Being Faithful To The Lord Until Death?"
 
http://www.netbiblestudy.net - "Are You Really Sure Of Your Eternal Salvation?"
 
http://www.netbiblestudy.net/worship - "Are You Worshipping God In Spirit And In Truth?"
 
http://www.netbiblestudy.net/evangelism - "How To Do Personal Evangelism"
 
http://www.netbiblestudy.net/bulletin - "Biblical Church Bulletin Articles"
 
http://www.netbiblestudy.net/lessons - "Bible Class Lessons" 

NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL KILLERS

One colony can eat an entire cow in a matter of hours.  They dissolve all types of flesh.  They are incredibly intelligent and extremely fast.  Harvard-trained insect scientist and associate of the Smithsonian Institution, Mark Moffett, describes these frightening creatures.  He says, "The really critical thing is the way they usually attack, the way they work together in these massive raids that they organize" (www.npr.org).  What is amazing is that they literally attack blindly.  They cannot see to form an image and can only tell day from night.  They coordinate and swarm together to bite, poison, and devour their prey alive.  They coordinate their attacks and work well together, but it is for destructive means.  Army ants, all 130 species, are frighteningly efficient killers.

Satan has many willing accomplices trying to effect the same spiritual result.  They coordinate their efforts, even though they are of varying disciplines and institutions.  His desire is to devour the souls of men (1 Pet. 5:8), and he will prove successful in a majority of cases (cf. Matt. 7:13-14).  Whether it is striking at the moral sensitivities of people through TV, movies, music, and the internet or indoctrinating people to believe in Godless evolution through museums, text books, popular magazines, and even children's media or promoting greed through politicians and corporations, he is intensely focused on bringing about man's eternal demise.  He relishes our misery and wants our destruction.  His soldiers may be attacking blindly, but they are effective.  We sell short this formidable foe to our own destruction.

As ferocious as army ants are, there are many ways to defeat them.  Sprinkle cornmeal or Cream of Wheat where they can eat it.  They cannot digest these and swell up and die.  Insect sprays, bleach, and apple cider or repulsive or noxious to the creatures.  Keeping a clean house is a good preventative.

Likewise, the Bible shows that our imposing, spiritual foe is eminently conquerable.  James says resist him and he will flee from you (4:7-8).  Paul says to stand against him (Eph. 6:10ff).  Jesus defeated him by knowing and properly using scripture (Matt. 4:1ff) and so can we.  By understanding and withstanding the world's agenda, we are assured of ultimate victory (1 Jn. 2:15-17; 4:4; 5:1-4).  The coordinated attack of the enemy might even overcome our flesh, but they need our consent and cooperation to overcome our souls (cf. Matt. 10:28).  Respect the power of this enemy but realize the infinitely greater power of our Friend!
 
--Neal Pollard

WHO AM I?

If someone were to ask your friends or neighbors, concerning you, "Who is
that?" what kind of response do you think they would give? Is it even
important what others think when they look at you?

I read an interesting illustration by Stephen Sizer that went something like
this: One day in a hospital waiting room there were many people waiting to
see a doctor. One man who was convinced of his own importance was getting
impatient. Unwilling to wait any longer, he barged in to the nurses station
and demanded to be seen by the doctor. "Don't you know who I am?" shouted
the man. The receptionist calmly pressed the button on the microphone of her
loudspeaker system and asked the waiting patients. "I have a gentleman here
who doesn't know who he is. Can someone please assist him in finding out?
Thank you."

If you were to go around asking your friends, "What do people say about me?"
Or "Who do you say I am?" they might just think you were crazy. But for the
sake of our considering this thought, just what how would you like people to
respond to that question about you? Would they say, "Yes, I know them" or "I
don't have a clue".

Does your life touch the lives of others; do you make a difference by caring
and sharing the love of Christ with others? Do you speak with people you may
not know well, or even at all? How about calling on the telephone, just to
see how someone is doing who you missed seeing. What about taking time to
send a card or note to say, I care about you.

You see, really what I am suggesting is that we need to live our lives in
such a way, that folks can see Jesus living in us.

Where am I coming from with these thoughts? In Mark 8:27-29 we read of a
conversation Jesus had with his disciples. Notice what took place: "Jesus
and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea
Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, "Who do people say I
am?" "Well," they replied, "some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and
others say you are one of the other prophets." Then he asked them, "But who
do you say I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Messiah." (NLT)

Those who walked with Christ, his friends and disciples had no problem
identifying Jesus as the Messiah by what they saw of his life, did they? Now
here is the point I'm trying to make. Someday people may answer the question
about just who Christ is, based upon what they have seen in our lives, what
do you think they will say?

The question of, 'Who I am" is perhaps deeper than we would like to admit.
It speaks not of just our nationality, our heritage, our age or our job. It
speaks of what motivates us and affects our relationship with those we
encounter everyday.

I guess I had better start thinking more on what my life looks like to
others, what about you?

Russ Lawson

Loose Weight AND Save Two Lives

       You can loose weight and save a life!  This may sound a little odd, but this could be an eye-catching slogan sometime in the future.  This is a very appealing statement especially since approximately 63% of all Americans are overweight (American Sports Data).  Many of us heard this from Brad Harrub, but I also read an article today which stated, "Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that the millions of fat cells removed during liposuction can be easily and quickly turned into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, more easily than the skin cells that researchers used when the first iPS cells were created in 2007" (CNN Health).  The reason this is so significant is because stem cells can be turned into any other cell in the body and potentially replace cells in the body that are no longer produce in adults.  As a result of this, many different diseases and life threatening issues may be able to be cured during the process of losing weight!
       While in once sense giving stem cells from fat can save a person from a disease, as you may have noticed I said in the title, "save two lives."  The other life that could be saved is a baby's.  As I was researching some statistics about many babies' lives that are not saved, this is what I found:

All of the following statistics are taken from
The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform

- There are approximately 1,370,000 abortions per year in the US, 42 million worldwide.
- That is 3,700 per day in the US, 115,000 per day worldwide.
- 64.4% of all abortions are from women who have never been married.
- 9.4% are from divorced women.
- An estimated 43% of women will have at least 1 abortion by age 45.

       It is unknown how many years it will be down the road before one may actually be able to donate stem cells in such a way, but this doesn't change the fact that many innocent lives are being lost as a result of stem cell research.  Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves what the Lord says about this.  Proverbs 6:16-17, "The Lord hates....hands that shed innocent blood."  What could be more innocent than an unborn child?  Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you..."  The Lord obviously considers an unborn child to be alive and in His plan.  There are several others as well (Deuteronomy 19:10, Proverbs 28:17, Luke 1:15, etc).
       There is also no reason for innocent babies to be destroyed in order to obtain their stem cells when there is a plethora of stem cells that can be obtained in much less harmful ways.  While I do not think there are many Christians who support abortion, it is always good to be reminded that we are in the world be we are not of the world.  We cannot support much of what the world supports.
 
-- Brett Petrillo
 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Playing Second Fiddle

Many people in our world are motivated by praise of others, that is not a
bad thing if dealt with properly. After all, the scripture repeatedly
reminds us to encourage and exhort one another. Some folks though live their
lives in search of, perhaps in pursuit of praise from the lips or pens of
men and women. I have known people who have such an ego that they cannot
function if there is someone who does not appreciate them. It may be of
interest to know that the word "Ego" originated from the Latin word for "I".
This can be understood by listening to the conversation of a problem with an
"ego problem". You will find that the word "I" is used repeatedly as if they
are the center of all there is.

Leonard Bernstein, the celebrated orchestra conductor, was asked, "what is
the hardest instrument to play?" He replied without hesitation: "Second
fiddle. I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who
plays second violin with as much enthusiasm or second French horn or second
flute, now that's a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no
harmony."

How are you at "playing second fiddle"? You see, God's church only functions
properly if people work "in the background" or "behind the scenes" playing
"second fiddle" without recognition. I thank God for all of the men and
women within His church who are not grasping for recognition, who are
willing to work quietly in the background. They are happy to serve God for
his recognition, not for the recognition of others.

In Romans 12:3 Paul gives us this instruction: "For I say, through the
grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself
more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God
has dealt to every man the measure of faith." In other words, we are all
equal in God's eyes and we should be happy just knowing that.

Pride is a terrible thing and has proven to be the downfall of many people.
The common saying we here is "Pride goes before a fall". This is actually a
bible principle. The writer of Proverbs 16:18 warns us: "Pride goes before
destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." Pride causes some to view
others as less worth, less valuable to God and our world, than they
themselves are. Pride causes some to abuse or misuse someone they should
cherish as God's creation. Pride causes some to be lost because they won't
submit themselves to God. Perhaps some just cannot make themselves serve God
without the praise of men.

The truth is though, that there is only one worthy of our praise and it
surely isn't us. Revelation 4:11 was written to help us understand that
point. John wrote: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and
power: for YOU have created all things, and for YOUR pleasure they are and
were created."

You see, playing second fiddle is not a bad thing. It doesn't become a
problem unless we do think of ourselves as being "just a little better" than
someone else. We will understand that point if we keep our egos, our desire
to see "I" as being of first importance, under control. James said it this
way, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee
from you," (James 4:7). God and His church need you to be the support and
encouragement to others, not one that gets their feelings hurt because you
were not recognized (i.e. "They didn't speak to me today"). Are you willing
to play second fiddle if that's what it takes to be a blessing to God and
His church? It may just take that, if your church to have (and produce) the
harmony God desires.

-- Russ Lawson

Comfort One Another

When Paul wrote to the church of the Lord in Thessalonica he placed a great
emphasis on comfort. He made sure that they comforted one another and he
praised them for doing so. As Paul was in the process of closing this
epistle he said "Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just
as you also are doing" (I Thessalonians 5:11).

It should be our goal to bring comfort to our brothers and sisters in
Christ. Paul, in this epistle, mentioned that we can accomplish this by
remaining faithful to the Lord. He wrote "therefore, brethren, in all our
affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For
now we live, if you standfast in the Lord" (I Thessalonians 3:7, 8). Paul
was continually persecuted but still found great comfort because the
Thessalonians remained faithful. Our world wants us to believe that we
should never concern ourselves with what others are doing, we should "mind
our own business." However, this is simply not possible.

As men and women who care for others it is natural that we be deeply
concerned when a friend or family member lives a life contrary to what God
wants. When we see someone we love living a life that leads to eternal
torment we should be concerned. Likewise, when we see loved ones who lead
faithful lives and lives that lead to eternal reward it should bring us
great comfort. Our actions should never be harmful to a brother in Christ's
faith. We should strive to bring comfort to our fellow Christians and we can
do this by remaining faithful to the Lord. Let us all consider this as we
live our lives. Our actions will affect others. The question is will it hurt
them or bring comfort to them?

-- Garrett Bookout

Supply Lines

A siege can be a powerful weapon of war.  The strategy is simple: Cut
off all possible means of supplying the enemy, and hunger and
desperation will eventually lead to his surrender.  General Grant used
a siege to conquer the heavily fortified city of Vicksburg, MS in
1863.  There have been numerous other instances of this strangling
tactic throughout the ages.

Supply lines are a part of our everyday lives.  We normally don't
think about them, but ships, railroads and trucking lines daily
transport essential and nonessential items to our hometowns.  A
truckers' strike in 1974 reminded Americans just how vital these lines
of supply are.  Within just a few days, long lines formed at corner
filling stations, and there were periodic shortages of staples like
bread and milk.  Supply lines must be kept open.

The same principle operates in our physical bodies.  The circulation
system is an amazing network of veins, arteries and capillaries.  If
all blood vessels in the average human body were laid end to end, they
would circle the earth twice
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_vessels).  Every cell depends on
the nutrients that are supplied by our blood.  If the supply line is
impeded (e.g. with a tourniquet), a crisis quickly emerges.

Did you know there are also supply lines in place for spiritual needs?
Many are not aware of such a blessing, and many don't even acknowledge
that they have spiritual needs.  But it's true; we often run short of
courage, peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and a host of other
intangibles.

In his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul refers to these
supply lines.  He says, for example, in 1:19: "For I know that this
will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of
the Spirit of Jesus Christ."  Paul wrote this letter from a prison
cell (see 1:7,14, etc.), a place where needs are strongly felt.  The
apostle's needs were supplied, however, because others were praying
for him and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit) was supplying
him.

In the next chapter Paul pointed to another source of needed
blessings.  Epaphroditus had come to Paul's place of confinement to
deliver a message from his friends in Philippi.  While there
Epaphroditus did much more: "Because for the work of Christ he came
close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in
your service toward me" (Philippians 2:30).

We don't know the details of what Epaphroditus did while serving Paul.
But whatever it was, it supplied the great apostle's needs.  That
supply line was again vital.

One other supply line is noted toward the end of this letter: "And my
God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by
Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  This supply line is the most vital
of all - a sort of spiritual jugular vein!  God's resources cannot be
exhausted, and He places them at our service.  Even the extreme
hardships of a Roman prison cell could not dampen Paul's spirits as he
contemplated this never-ending river of blessings.

Those who read this probably enjoy reliable supply lines for their
physical needs.  But what about your soul?  Is it getting what it
desperately needs?  God is ready to bring you into His network, and
your every need will be provided.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him
in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you'd like
to discuss these ideas further.
--Timothy D. Hall

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