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Friday, October 30, 2009

All the Other Nations

 

       In the time of Samuel the children of Israel decided that they wanted to have king.  They had never been ruled by a king but God had appointed judges to rule over them. God was to serve as their King. However, they decided that in order to be like all the other nations they would have an earthly king.  Samuel warned them that the behavior of a king would not be favorable for them. "Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, 'No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles" (I Samuel 8:19, 20). Therefore, God allowed them to have a king.

  As the Old Testament unfolds we find that what Samuel forewarned came to pass. The children of Israel did not heed the words of God or His prophet Samuel.  Why? Because they desired to be like all the other nations. They wanted to be like everyone else. This was not a new problem nor was it the end of a problem.  Throughout the history of the world God's people have been different. This is the way God desires it; yet, so many do not want to be different.  They want to be like all the other nations. They want to fit in with everyone else. Even in the church today we see too many who want to fit in with the rest of the world.  We want to talk, dress, and behave like everyone else.  Yet God does not want us to love the things of this world, but rather He desires that we separate ourselves from worldly things.

  John said "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (I John 2:15-17). Our desire should not be to blend in with the world, our desire should be to abide in God's word.  In doing so we will be different but in doing so we will abide with Him forever.

 

--Garrett Bookout

 

 

Trinkets and Treasures


Trudi Hall of Baytown, TX, has told of an experience that she and her husband shared on a recent trip:

There was a man that Keith and I met last year on a ship we took from Barcelona, Spain to Galveston, Texas.  The ship crew was handing out little "Monopoly" dollars (fake bills from the board game) for every activity one participated in on-board.  The "dollars" could then be redeemed in the gift shop for over-priced cheesy trinkets.

While we took every opportunity to go ashore and experience the beauty, history, and culture of Europe, and look up long lost friends along the way, this fellow was like a gerbil on a wheel, running from shuffleboard to ping-pong, collecting his "dollars."  He missed out on Alecante, Malaga, the Canary Islands, and the Bahamas, but I'm sure he polished his miniature golf skills along the way.

In the end, we have wonderful memories of our time together, a strengthened relationship, and a bit more understanding of the history of the world.

He has a backpack with the ship's logo on it.

While not all of our opportunities will be as thrilling as our ocean journey, I believe that each one affords us the opportunity to use it for our growth and blessing, or squander it.

The man with the Monopoly dollars is not the only one who gets focused on "trinkets" and misses out on the REAL treasures of life...

The world has NOTHING to offer except trinkets, for the things of this world are only temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18; 1 John 2:17).

The REAL treasures of life are spiritual and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).  These treasures are enjoyed in a right relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Even though we were lost in sin, God sent His Son to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:7).  Through Him we discover the REAL treasures of forgiveness, hope, and eternal life.  These treasures belong only to children of God.  When we by faith in His Son (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), we are "born" into the family of God and become heirs of an eternal inheritance (Romans 8:16-17).  As long as we remain faithful to our Heavenly Father, He has promised to give us these REAL, SPIRITUAL TREASURES.

Don't be duped by the cheesy trinkets that the world has to offer.  Discover the real, lasting treasures that are found in a saving relationship with God.

Won't YOU accept His offer on His terms?

David A. Sargent, Minister
 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friendship

        "Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches -- a record that would stand for 25 years. As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove 'Aryan superiority,' especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. 'You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!' he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four golds. The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long -- in full view of Adolf Hitler. Owens never again saw Long, who was killed in World War II. 'You could melt down all the medals and cups I have,' Owens later wrote, 'and they wouldn't be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long.'" (David Wallechinsky, The Complete Book of the Olympics).
       The friendship between Jesse Owens and Luz Long was certainly an unlikely one, but obviously it was a strong one.  Another strong friendship was between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 19-21.  Even though Jonathan's father, Saul, was trying to kill David, Jonathan always stood by David's side and was there to help him.  It must have been incredibly difficult to stand up against his father, but that was just how strong this friendship was.
       Friendship is a wonderful part of life.  Some of the best friends I have are within the church, and I believe this is exactly the way the Lord intended for it to be.  Colossians 3:12-14 says, "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."  Let's always strive to be a true friend and good to others.
 
--Brett Petrillo
 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

White as Snow

 
       I was defiantly very happy to see the beautiful snow falling out side this morning.  Since nearly every school district is closed, I am sure there are many very happy kids out there as well.  While some people do not like the snow very much, this is one of my favorite parts of nature that the Lord has blessed us with.  After a snow, I love to see how pure, clean, white, and beautiful everything is.  When I see this, it always reminds me of God's forgiveness.  Isaiah 1:18-20 has some beautiful words to say about being white as snow:

"'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the LORD, 'Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.  If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword' Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

       Just as the beautiful white snow makes everything look pure and clean, God can make our sins spotless and white as snow.  What a wonderful thought it is to think about being completely pure and completely clean from any and all sins we have in our lives.  The only place such a spotless cleansing can be found is in the blood of Jesus Christ.  We can have our sins forgiven and have our sin be made as "white as snow."  However, what we must do is to "consent and obey" to God and His commands.  1 John 1:7, 9 state, "But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin...If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
       There is nothing better than knowing our sins are forgiven and we have been made clean because of Christ's sacrifice.  Let's make sure we take advantage of this opportunity God has given us, and make sure we are obeying God's commands.
 
--Brett Petrillo
 

Guilt

THE STORY IS told of a little boy who was helping his father move stones out of a ditch...
 
"Dad, here's a big one', he said.  'I've done my best, but I can't budge it.'  The father replied, 'Son, you have never, never done your best until you have asked your father to help you.'"  That story well illustrates a real problem many of us experience.  We try to grapple with guilt without going to our heavenly Father for help.  Gary Hampton
 
"I acknowledge my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.  I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin."  Psalm 32:5
 
--Mike Benson

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Don't Wait, You Must Act Now!"

      When was the last time you saw some type of commercial that was trying to sell you something?  I saw several this morning, and I bet it has not been long for you either.  It is funny to me how they always want us to "Act Now!"  They use phrases like "Huge Investment Opportunity! Must Act Now!"  "We will throw 2 of these in, but you must call now!"  Have you ever wondered why they are always trying to get people to do it at that very moment?  I found an interesting article listing "10 Ways to Get Customers to Buy Now" by April Duncan (Click Here to Read Article).  Listen to the 10 ways they try to draw us in.  I am sure you will recognize most of them:

1.    Give a Deadline for Ordering.
2.    Advise of a Price Increase.
3.    Establish a Trial/Introductory Period.
4.    Free gift.
5.    "No Risk" Trial.
6.    "Not Available in Stores."
7.    Offer an Upgrade
8.    Free supplies/accessories.
9.    Use Action Phrases (Call Now.  Toll Free.  24 Hours a Day).
10.    Avoid Passive Phrases (Call us when your ready to order).

      These are the types of tactics they use to get people to think and feel like they need to make a move immediately or they will miss out on one of the greatest opportunities of their life!  But why do they want people to act immediately?  It is because they do not want us to think out our decisions.  They want us to do it right away without careful consideration about our finances, if we really need it, and if this is really a quality product.
       In a similar way as the commercials, Satan wants us to make hasty decisions and not carefully think about our situation or the consequences.  It is interesting that there are many passages about being sensible (Titus 1:8; 2:2, 5-6; Proverbs 14:8, 15, 18; etc).  One of the best ones is Titus 2:11-12, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age..."  Sensibility is about thinking things through and being rational about our decisions.  If we do not think things through then we will be much more likely to fall into sin.  The reason the Lord has told us to be sensible is so we will realize that righteousness is always the correct decision.
       Whether it is in regards to a silly commercial, our finances, sin, or anything else, let's make sure we are thinking about the decisions we make.  The choices we make today may very well influence ourselves, our family, our friends, and many other people down the road.  Let's be sensible and realize the best choice is always to obey the Lord.
 
-- Brett Petrillo
 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Broken Toys

       I read a poem not long ago and it really grabbed my attention.  I wanted to share it with you all:

As children bring their broken toys, with tears, for me to mend
I brought my broken dreams to God because he was my friend.

But then, instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone
I hung around and tried to help . . . with ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried, "How can You be so slow?"
"My child," He said.  "What could I do?  You never did let go."

(Poem by Ben Hildner)

       It really is interesting how often we find ourselves asking God for His help.  Who better to ask than the One who is in control of everything?  It is not a bad thing, by any means, to ask the Lord for His helping hand.  However, just as the poem suggests, the problem is when we ask for God's help without really letting go of our problems.  Many times we worry about them and try to fix everything ourselves instead of actually trusting that the Lord will help.  Now, the Lord does not want us to be lazy and do nothing to help ourselves.  He wants trust in Him (Philippians 4:6; Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 10:41-42; 1 Peter 5:6-7; etc).
       While this is a lesson we have heard many times, it is always good to have a reminder.  Are there some aspects to your life that you are worrying about and not trusting in the Lord?  I hope we will remember how wonderful the Lord is, how much He loves us, and how much he can help us.  When we ask the Lord for his help, let's make sure we trust in Him, and let Him work in our lives and in the situations we pray for.
 
Brett Petrillo

Conflict

 
 
 
FIXING THE PROBLEM means that I will apologize readily for my contribution and that I will focus on solutions, not mistakes...
 
The "ventilation" fad that encouraged people to focus on their feelings and vent their anger led to short-term relief and long-term regret.  As Carol Travis notes in a careful study of anger, "People, who are most prone to give vent to their rage get angrier, not less angry."
 
Keep it private, not public.  There is a legitimate place for seeking wise, spiritual counsel.  That is very different than enlisting allies among family and friends, a process that distorts friendships and betrays marital loyalty.  When we draw others into the problem, the tendency is for a win-loss mind-set to develop, as others are encouraged to choose up sides.  Gary Inrig  
 
"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that by the outh of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.  But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."  Matthew 18:15-17
 
--Mike Benson

Friday, October 23, 2009

Do Good Guys Finish Last?

 
 
       Do good guys finish last? Unfortunately, sometimes in this life it seems that way.  There are times when those who refuse to do wrong suffer.  We live in what is considered a "dog eat dog" world.  That is to say that many believe that in order to be successful we must do whatever is necessary.  If that means one must lie, cheat, or hurt others to get ahead then that is what must be done.  Those who do not drink alcohol, use foul language, or participate in sexually immoral activities are often the subject of ridicule. To put it plainly, sometimes it is hard to be a good guy. For this reason many have come to the conclusion that good guys finish last.  However, this is not biblically correct.  Jesus taught that good guys finish first.  He said "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:47-50). Jesus taught that at the end of time those who are wicked will come in last.  They will be punished for the evil that they have done.  However, those who are good and just will be spared from torment.  They will go to live with the Lord forever. Sometimes it seems as if good guys finish last. Truthfully, sometimes during this life they do come in last. But they will not finish this way.  Jesus taught that good guys finish first.
 
--Garrett Bookout
 

It's the little things in life

Have you ever heard the saying, "It's the little things in life that count"?
Many times doing something for someone else that doesn't cost much or even
anything at all makes a great difference in their lives.

This past week my sister and brother-in-law were visiting their daughter in
Phoenix, Arizona. At one point they were driving in town with the windows
down and came to a traffic signal and stopped. There was a man driving a car
(with the windows down also) that stopped beside them and as they were
sitting there he sneezed. Their grand daughter Adina said to the man, "God
Bless You", which surprised the man, but then he said, "Thank you," and they
went their way.

The thing about blessings is they almost always go two ways. I mean think
about it, when you do something to bless the life of others, don't you feel
better about yourself? Most of the time you will feel better about yourself
simply because what you did was the right thing to do. You made the right
decision, you took a positive action, and you blessed someone else. You
helped someone else and many times it didn't cost you anything.

There is a good chance you know the story Jesus told about a man we call
"The Good Samaritan," found in Luke 10:30-37. Read the words again and see
what happened in this life changing story:

"Jesus replied with a story: "A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from
Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of
his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. "By chance
a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the
other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and
looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. "Then a
despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion
for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil
and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took
him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the
innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, 'Take care of this man. If his bill
runs higher than this, I'll pay you the next time I'm here.' "Now which of
these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by
bandits?" Jesus asked. The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy." Then
Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same." (NLT)

The Samaritan man in this story saw someone in need and did what needed to
be done. Yes, it cost him time and money. Yes, he may have put himself in
jeopardy physically and socially. But he blessed the life of this man from
another way of life because he saw a need. Most of the times God doesn't ask
us to do exactly what this man did, God does however want us to be observant
and bless the lives of others.

When is the last time you have blessed someone else? What about your husband
or your wife or you children or your coworkers. Maybe there is something you
can do to make this day a little brighter. It may be as simple as walking
the dog, bringing home flowers, fixing a favorite dish or simply saying "I
love you" or "God Bless you". You see, the simple things in life really do
make a difference.

Russ Lawson

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Relics Of The King"

 

A snatch of hair clipped in 1958 sold for over $18,000 this past
Sunday.  Before you run out to your local barber shop with a broom and
bushel baskets, let me elaborate.  The hair that someone deemed so
valuable once belonged to Elvis Presley.  His hair was cut when he was
inducted into the U.S. Army.  Now it belongs to a "lucky" bidder.

The hair wasn't the only thing that sold for incredible sums at that
same auction.  A cream-colored cotton shirt with the monogram "EP"
sold for $62,800.  That's far beyond the $2,000 - $4,000 that it had
been expected to bring.  A red ultrasuede shirt which also once
belonged to "the king" of rock and roll proved to be more of a
bargain, fetching only $34,000.

Why do such common items command such exorbitant prices?  Because fans
(short for "fanatics") want something that will give them a sense of
direct contact with the one they admire.  Elvis has been gone since
1977, but there are many who still search for ways to feel connected
to his legend.

Have you wondered how much interest there is in relics that were
connected with THE King?  Just take a tour on the Internet using the
search words "religious relics".  You'll be amazed at how many objects
are claimed to have come directly from various aspects of Jesus' life.
There are many fragments of wood that owners vow are from the cross on
which Jesus died.  Several chalices may be found which are claimed to
have been the one from which Jesus drank at His last supper.  Most
famous of all, perhaps, is the Shroud of Turin, the supposed burial
cloth of the Lord.

One thing may be said of all these "Christian relics": There's little,
if any, way to prove their authenticity.  There are undoubtedly many
who firmly believe they hold something that directly connects them to
Christ, but there are no reliable ways to corroborate such claims.

Does that strike you as odd?  If we have clips of hair from the king
of rock and roll, shouldn't we have something from the life of the
Savior of mankind?

Jesus did give us something by which to remember His life and to
maintain a strong personal connection.  On the night of His betrayal
and arrest, He instituted the Lord's Supper.  After sharing His
followers the bread and the fruit of the vine, He said this: "... do
this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19).  Some may scoff at such a
simple remembrance.  "It's nothing more than a piece of cracker and a
sip of juice," they might retort.  No, it's much, much more than that.

Paul wrote later about the powerful effects of this weekly observance:
"For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks
judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (1 Corinthians
11:29).  Far from a quick ritual, this is the Christian's opportunity
to reconnect with the Savior who gave His life for all.  It is a
powerful event!

Locks of hair will eventually crumble.  Pieces of wood and stone are
subject to decay.  But the strong memories of what happened at Calvary
are just as vivid and durable today as they were 2,000 years ago.
This is the connection to our Lord that we need!

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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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

Technology

       What consumes your thoughts? Sadly, many think of evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Tools such as television, iPod's, and internet can aid people in this.  It is too easy to spend our time thinking impure thoughts; we do not need to use these media outlets to help accomplish Satan's work. However, I appreciate families who monitor their television, iPod (or radio), and internet usages.  Certainly, there is much good that can come from these outlets also. Through the internet we can access (for free) many terrific sermons and articles from godly men. There are numerous internet sites that can help us grow in knowledge of God's word. I do not have cable but I have a television and DVD player through which I can watch terrific DVD's put together by knowledgeable men in the areas or Christian evidences, morality, and religion.  These tools have aided me in my walk of faith.  An iPod is a terrific tool for listening to sermons while traveling or exercising. The Lord has blessed us to live in a time where technology is far more advanced then ever before. Despicably, many have used this to destroy the mind God gave them. They have used it to make light of sin and even glorify it. Let us not be one of them.  We do not need to throw away our television, iPod's, and internet connection. Rather, we should use these tools to accomplish God's purpose for us, to set our minds on Him and His word continually.  Paul said, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure , whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). We can use technology to accomplish this.
 
-- Garrett Bookout
 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clarifying Love


Love is one of the most misunderstood and abused words in the English language.  Some of the more unloving things are done in its name.  It is confused with lust, neglect, abuse, ignorance, and encouragement of evil.  Even in religion, love is the banner of everything from hatred and terrorism to gross immorality and perversion.  It is helpful to remind ourselves what constitutes love.
LOVE DOES NOT ENABLE WEAKNESS.  Pretending that a loved one does not have a sin problem or character flaw is not loving.  Protecting someone in a compulsive, addictive behavior from the consequences of their sin is extremely unloving.  This is nurturing negative behavior.
LOVE DOES NOT EXCUSE SIN.  Giving someone an out for sinful lifestyles may seem like the warm and fuzzy way to go, but God strongly condemns such validating (Rom. 1:32).  We can go to incredible lengths to legitimize what transgresses God's law.
LOVE DOES NOT ENCOURAGE PERVERSION.  Jesus condemns sexual relationships that fall outside the original marriage grid (Matt. 19:4-5).  Whether we are speaking of "shacking up," "open marriages," "gay marriages," "alternative lifestyles," or the like, we are referencing things which condemn the soul.  That some would even push and promote such things in the name of love certainly disgusts our God (Hab. 1:13).
LOVE DOES NOT ENDORSE A LIE.  Lies are of Satan (John 8:44).  God is love (1 John 4:8).  Therefore, lying and love are incongruous.  They are from opposite sources.  Telling someone who is not right with God that they are is a lie rather than an act of love.  Leaving the impression that moral decadence is acceptable is disingenuous and thus unloving.
LOVE DOES NOT EXPECT PERFECTION.  In fact, Paul says that love "does not take into account a wrong suffered" (1 Cor. 13:5).  It "covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8).  In other words, love is not something we offer only on stringent conditions and unrealistic expectations.  That is manipulation and not love.  Thankfully, our loving God does not expect perfection from us.  He knows we are incapable of it.  If we, imperfect beings, cannot give a perfect God perfection, how could imperfect human beings give us, imperfect human beings, perfection?  Think about it!
LOVE DOES NOT END RESPONSIBILITY.  Love is not a substitute for performance.  The abuser hopes that profuse profession of love will make his wife forget that he has beaten her.  The liar hopes that verbal affirmation of love is enough to negate the hurt and anger of the one harmed by his or her dishonesty.  The person who has yet to obey the gospel will freely confess, "I love the Lord."  That may well be, but it is an inadequate love that does not respond to God's great love in humble obedience.
The world will never get love "right."  It is up to us to demonstrate it to them.  We do this by loving one another (John 13:34-35).  We do this by loving God enough to do His will (John 14:15).  We do this by loving the world enough to show them the Light (Matt. 5:46; 28:19).
 
--Neal Pollard

 

It's my life, leave me alone

Leave me alone, it's my life
Garrett Bookout


The title of this article expresses the sentiment of many people. The
society in which we live is one that believes everyone should mind their own
business. If someone decides to behave in a sinful way then they should not
hear negativity from anyone about it. Foolishly, many believe that their
actions do not affect others. Yet, the Psalmist said "Rivers of water run
down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law" (Psalm 119:136). The
Psalmist was not upset about his own salvation but about of the salvation of
others. When people decide to turn away from God and live in an ungodly way
it hurts God. It hurts the God who we love so dearly. It distresses the God
that created us and has blessed us in uncountable ways. It hurts God when
He sees His creation in pain and similarly it should hurt us when we see our
Creator in distress. Those who live contradictory to the commands of God
have hurt the God who loves them dearly. As children of His, this should
cause us emotional pain. We should all desire the repentance of sinful
activity. Those who do not concern themselves when others oppose the will
of God need to consider how greatly it hurts Him. It might be your life, but
God is the One who gave it to you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Good Sportsmanship


       Over the weekend I was playing tackle football (as opposed to touch or flag) with some long-time friends of mine.  This is something we have done consistently for six or seven years during holiday breaks.  We have always enjoyed getting together and just having fun.
       This time some of our friends brought some new guys back with them from the Christian college they attend.   It was good meeting these new brothers in Christ and enjoying a good game of football, until a situation came up.  One of the new guys received a short pass where a guy on my team knocked him down fairly hard.  He was not hurt physically at all, but he quickly got up and angrily punted the ball away from everyone as far as he could.  The tackle was not dirty at all, the guy was just angry about being hit hard.  I am a very competitive person on the inside, and I understand that this was more of a shot to his pride than anything else, but there was no excuse for his angry reaction.
       This really got me thinking about how we react in certain situations.  Whether it is on the football field, at school, at work, or nearly any other place, are we reacting in a way that will bring glory to God?  Good sportsmanship is about healthy competition, helping someone from the opposite team up, congratulating the opposition on a good play, and other similar aspects.  I believe good sportsmanship can translate into nearly any situation.  When someone else does something good, are we happy and congratulate him/her, or do we become bitter and angry of his/her accomplishment?  Do we try to help people when they get knocked down physically and emotionally?  There are so many different situations this can apply to.
       No matter where we go in this life or what we do, we will always find competition and resistance.  We must react in a way that will bring glory to God, not in anger or any wrong way (Matthew 5:22; Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32; Colossians 3:8; etc).  Let's focus on being good sports in all situations (Matthew 22:39; Luke 6:31).  People watch everything we do, so let's make sure the things we do and the ways we react are always pleasing the Lord.
 
--Brett Petrillo
 

Can We Have Whole Marriages in a Broken World?

 

A.  Illust: The media called it "the wedding of the century…"

      1.  According to the Archbishop of Canterbury it was "the stuff of which fairy tales are made."

           a.  On July 29, 1981, hundreds of dignitaries crowded St. Paul's Cathedral, hundreds of thousands filled the

                streets of London, and hundreds of millions of people around the world sat in front of their television sets,

                to share the spectacle of a royal wedding.

           b.  The marriage of the beautiful young school teacher and the heir to the British throne captured the fancy of the

                world.

      2.  But what began with such pomp, pageantry, and promise unraveled publicly and painfully until at that remained

            was an empty shell—two people living separate lives in separate places bound only by their children and the

            power of the British monarchy.

            a.  An entire industry has grown up around the death of this particular marriage—assigning blame and circulating

                 gossip.

            b.  The tragic story of Charles and Diana reminds us that fairy tales don't always end like they used to: "so they

                 were married, and lived happily ever after."

B.  Some cynics tell us that what happened to Charles and Diana was inevitable.

      1.  Marriage, they tell us, is a doomed institution, a relic of an outmoded era—it is irrelevant. 

            a.  In the twenty-first century, long-range, healthy, and stable marriages are as plentiful as saber-toothed tigers.

            b.  So the only alternative is to develop more realistic "options". 

      2.  At first glance, this opinion makes sense.

           a.  We are regularly made aware of how difficult marriage is today (i.e., spiraling divorce rates, dysfunctional

                families, abusive relationships, "alternative" living arrangements, and homosexual partnerships)—yes, even

                in the context of the Lord's church. 

           b.  The media makes it appear that traditional marriage no longer works and something, or anything, must take

                its place. 

C.  Good marriages are not only possible, but essential!

      1.  The answer to our problems is not to be found in the reinvention of marriage, but in the recovery of biblical

           marriage.

      2.  Stable, thriving, satisfying marriages are possible if they are built upon the essential truths of God's Word by

           people willing to follow Christ. 

           a.  There are not pat formulae or magic solutions.

           b.  But there are hard answers for those who are willing to follow Christ in consistent obedience.

D.  Having said that, we need to accept the fact that the marriage law of God is stricter than many would like it to be.

      1.  It is not surprising then, that some folks seek to initiate theories and practices which are not in harmony with

           what the Bible teaches. 

      2.  These digressions must not go unchallenged, because too much is at stake.  "For what will it profit a man if he

           gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"  Mk. 8:36

           a.  Happiness in marriage is important; fidelity to God and His Word is more so. 

           b.  Truth and emotion are wrapped up in marital issues.  (I hope you will agree with me when I say truth must

                win).    

 

I.  Marriage is a by-product of evolution

 

    A.  Some scholars trace the origin or marriage to the pairing arrangements of animals.

 

          .  Studies reveal that many species of birds and animals pair for life.

 

          .  "Marriage is a product of evolution and culture more than of religion; religion has merely defined certain forms

              in which it manifests. Marriage, at its most basic levels, exists in order to increase the survival odds of the

              species by providing a force that attempts to keep the parents (usually the male) confined in a family unit to

              protect and nurture their offspring. Our ancestral females without a male protector were much more likely to be

              killed by predators or unable to hunt and gather food for their offspring; societies that created frameworks in

              which males were socially compelled to stick around had much lower instances of such occurrences and thus

              greater chances of survival. The primitive couplings of early humans evolved, over time, into the idea of

              marriage." (http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=315712425&blogId=404126958) 

 

         1.  The alleged evolutionary development of humanity from lower life forms is without any historical, scientific,

              or biblical basis.  "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have

              dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every

              creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created

              him; male and female He created them."  Gen. 1:26-27

              a.  Man is more than simply a very complex and highly organized animal.

              b.  There is something in man which is not only quantitatively greater, but qualitatively distinctive,

                    something not possessed in any degree by the animals.  (Man was made in the image and likeness of God

                    Himself!) 

         2.  Marriage was designed and created by God from the beginning.  "And the LORD God said, 'It is not good

              that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'  And the LORD God caused a deep

              sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the

              rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.  And

              Adam said: 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was

              taken out of Man.'"  Gen. 2:18, 21-24

              a.  Jesus was present at the Creation.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the

                    the Word was God."  Jn. 1:1; cf. Mt. 19:4—"…Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning…"

              b.  If man came about millions of years after the world began, then Jesus was a liar.  (If I can't trust Him about

                    creation, how can I trust Him about salvation)!

 

     2.  Marriage was designed to provide for man and woman:

 

          1.  Companionship.  "And the LORD God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper

               comparable to him."  Gen. 2:18

          2.  A legitimate avenue through which to bring children into the world.  "Then God blessed them, and God said to

               them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the

               birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"  Gen. 1:28

          3.  A moral means for satisfying our sexual appetite. 

               a.  "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her

                     own husband.  Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also wife to her

                     husband.  The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.  And likewise the

                     husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  Do not deprive one another except

                     with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that

                     Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."  1 Cor. 7:2-5

                     1)  Affection due or due benevolence (KJV) ten oppheilo, means "one's due."

                     2)  Both husband and wife owe sexual, conjugal rights to one another.  (Sex inside of Scriptural marriage is

                           good; sex outside of marriage is wrong.)

               b.  "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

                     Heb. 13:4

               *.  Marriage is not some evolutionary accident; it is a divinely arranged institution for the human family!

 

II.  Living together

 

      A.  Statistics:

 

            .  The number of unmarried couples living together soared 12-fold from 430,000 in 1960 to 5.4 million in 2005.

            .  More than half the brides in the '90s married their live-in partners.

            .  Couples who live together are three times more likely to suffer from depression than married couples do.

            .  Living together outside of marriage increases the risk for domestic violence, especially sexual abuse, when

               children are present.

 

            1.  Not many years ago this practice was relatively rare and considered unacceptable in society.  (Today it doesn't

                  even raise an eyebrow).

            2.  "Where there is love-justice, sexual expression has ethical integrity.  That moral principle applies to singles,

                 as well as married persons, to gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual persons, as well as to heterosexual persons" (from

                 a special committee on human sexuality in the Presbyterian church).  (Some preachers are suggesting that

                 sexual regulations in the Bible are cultural, much like slavery, and may be ignored in today's world).

 

     B.  The teaching of the NT regarding sexual conduct is not cultural.  (Instead, it is based upon moral principles,

           divinely imposed, that are eternal).

 

           1.  In the Bible, sexual activity outside of marriage is called fornication—sexual immorality (NKJV). 

                a.  The Greek word, porneia, is a generic term for all illicit sexual activity.

                b.  Verses:

                     .  "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have

                         her own husband." 1 Cor. 7:2

                     .  "But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with

                         passion." 1 Cor. 7:9

                     .  "Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.  Now the body

                         is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body."  1 Cor. 6:13

                     .  "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

                         Heb. 13:4

                     .  "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality."  1 Thess.

                        4:3

 

             2.  Jesus taught that fornication degrades and condemns.  "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders,

                  adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.  These are the things which defile a man, but to

                  eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."  Mt. 15:19-20

                  a.  Any sinful activity carries serious consequences; sexual sin is no exception. 

                  b.  The devil would have us believe that sexual promiscuity is normal, acceptable, and free of cost.

                        .  But the truth is that any form of disobedience has serious consequences, and that is especially so in

                           in this realm.  Ex: guilt, self-condemnation, a divided mind, anxiety, damaged self-esteem, hypocrisy,

                           emptiness, disappointment, anger, depression, dishonesty, etc.   

                        .  Ex: Student who got his girlfriend pregnant.  She got an abortion.  He spent hours in the shower alone

                            trying to wash away the guilt. 

 

             3.  Living together, apart from a committed marital relationship, is not God's will for man and woman.

 

                 

                  a.  More than eight out of ten couples who live together will break up either before the wedding or after-

                        wards in divorce.

                  b.  Couples who do marry after living together are 50% more likely to divorce than those who did not.

                  c.  A Penn State study reports that even a month's cohabitation decreases the quality of the couple's

                       relationship.  Dr. Nancy Moore Clatworthy, sociologist, has been doing research on "living together" for 10

                       years. When she began her research, the idea of living together before committing yourself to marriage

                       made good sense to her. Now, after scientifically analyzing the results of hundreds of surveys filled out by

                       couples who had lived together, she opposes living together in any form.  Her answers make a powerful

                       biblical point: only a fully committed marriage relationship is really suited to working out the best possible

                       relationship (Tim Stafford).  And I would add that only a fully committed marriage relationship in Christ is

                       really suited to working out the best possible relationship!

 

III.  Open marriage

 

       A.  This is an arrangement whereby a couple, though married to one another, mutually agree that each partner

             can have sex with other people.  (Today this is called "polyamory," or many loves). 

 

       B.  Excerpts from "The Truth About Open Marriage":

                http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/the-truth-about-open-marriage

 

             1.  Ex: In the 1920's, Judge Ben Lindsey toured the country lecturing on what he called "companionate

                   marriage."  Everywhere he went, Lindsey challenged preachers to debate him on his theme; he was

                   wildly popular.  By the Spring of 1928, he had conducted 23 debates, and by actual vote, had overwhelmingly

                  won all of them.  However, on April 2, 1928, G. C. Brewer met Judge Lindsey in a debate in Memphis before a

                   crowd of more than 1,500 people.  Brewer devastated Lindsey and the debate signaled the end of Lindsey's

                   career as a debater.  Eventually Lindsey even recanted his position.

             2.  Lindsey's immoral arrangement was nothing more than adultery by consent.

 

Concl:

A.   I read about a preacher who began a series on marriage titled Blockbuster Marriages: Writer, Director, and

       Producer—God. 

       1.  This is what we all want—a blockbuster marriage, an exceptional marriage.

       2.  And it is possible to have one because, as the "cast," we've been given the most important ingredients: We have

            the script from the Writer, Director, and Producer. 

            a.  But like haughty, undisciplined actors and actresses on a film set, we sometimes change the scene and the

                 lines without informing anyone else.

            b.  That kind of behavior throws everyone off balance, delays production, raises the cost of the film, and

                 generates tension among other participants.

B.  The reason most couples struggle in their marriage is because somewhere, somehow, they've changed the script

      and ignored the Director.

      1.  They have their own ideas about what a marriage should do and how it should work, and so they're content to

           follow their amateurish ideas and reject a storyline that works.

      2.  God has a plan for every marriage—a plan to fulfill a grand purpose—and a marriage works best when you

           commit to following the script and the Director.

C.  Illust:  from Richard Selzer, MD titled Moral Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery—I stand by the bed where a young

      woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish.  A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to

      the muscles of her mouth, has been severed.  She will be thus from now on.  The surgeon had followed with

      religious fervor the curve of the flesh; I promise you that.  Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to

      cut the little nerve.

       Her young husband is in the room.  He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to dwell

       in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private.  Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth I have made,

       who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?  The young woman speaks.

       "Will my mouth always be like this?" she asks.

       "Yes," I say, "it will.  It's because the nerve was cut."

       She nods and is silent.  But the young man smiles."

       "I like it," he says.  "It is kind of cute."

       All at once I know who he is.  I understand, and I lower my gaze.  One is not bold in an encounter with a god. 

       Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I'm so close I can see how he twists his own lips to

       accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.  I remember that the gods appeared in ancient Greece

       as mortals, and I hold my breath and le the wonder in.

  

--Mike Benson

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