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Saturday, February 27, 2010

TREASURE OR TRASH?

     Years ago, there was a woman who went browsing through an antique
store. While she was there, she found a piano that she fell in love with. It
was a magnificent old mahogany upright with beautiful carvings across the
front.  Inside the top was a beautiful hand detailed painting along the back
along with the serial number and name of the original maker.  It had been
made in 1901.  It had a warm full tone and so she thought all it needed was
to be tuned.

     So she bought the piano, brought it home and called a piano restoration
specialist to come out to tune it.  But it didn't take him long to determine
that the pinblock had been "doped."  He explained to the woman that old
pianos "die" when the pinblock dries out because the pinblock can't keep the
pins tight when they're tuned.  When this happens, if someone wants to sell
a piano in this condition, they will sometimes dope it, which means they lay
the piano on its back and pour a mixture of anti-freeze and water around the
pins to swell the pinblock.  Sometimes, it will add some life to an aging
piano; in this case, it ruined it.

     The woman was so disappointed and so angry that she put the piano
outside her home and made a sign for it that said "Free: 500 pounds of
firewood".  What she thought was a treasure had turned to trash.

     Have you ever had something like that happen to you?  You find
something that you love, something you think is going your life so much
better, but shortly after you get it, it's destined for the trash pile.  How
many of you have corners in your garages and basements and attics where you
keep all those so-called treasures?  Yard sale lawn mowers that can't cut a
lick of grass, one of those slicer-dicers you thought your kitchen just
couldn't do without, maybe even your collection of 8-track tapes - now
there's a treasure!

     We pursue many things in life hoping to gain a wonderful treasure.  We
spend our lives in the pursuit of "things."  But there are moments when
we're forced to stop and ask ourselves, "Is what I have really such a
treasure, or is it nothing but trash?"  The apostle Paul was a man who once
faced this difficult question.  Here's the conclusion he came to:

     "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge
of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:7-8)

     Paul says, "At one time, I had it all.  But the things that I used to
think were important, I have weighed them, I have evaluated them, and I have
come to the conclusion that they are absolute garbage compared to what I
have in Jesus Christ."

     What were those "things"?  In the first few verses of Philippians 3,
Paul sets forth his credentials as a Jewish leader.  Paul says, "If you were
to look at me, you would assume, 'Here is a man who has it all.  He has
prestige, he has honor, he has power.  He has everything that a man could
possibly want.'"

     But, again, "What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for
Christ."  Everything he had as a Jew that he considered to be important, he
re-evaluated and came to the conclusion that it really wasn't all that
important.  "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of
the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of
all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." (3:8).

     Now I understand that generally the things that are important to us are
not the same things that were important to Paul, but they are "things"
nonetheless.  Maybe we enjoy living in our dream house.  Maybe new clothes
or jewelry excites us, maybe a new computer, maybe a new car.  Maybe making
it big in sports is our pride, maybe being popular and well-liked.  Maybe
those awards we've hung on our walls.  But when you take all these things
and you compare them to our blessings in Jesus Christ, they're a pile of
garbage, and we need to understand that.

     Take a look around you.  What do you see -- treasure or trash?

Alan Smith
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WATCH OUT FOR LUCILLE

 I heard about someone who works in the customer service call center of a national pager company. He deals with the usual complaints regarding poor pager operation, as well as the occasional crank caller demanding to be paged less often, more often, or by more interesting people.

His favorite call came from a man who repeatedly complained that he keeps being paged by "Lucille." He was instructed that he would have to call her and tell her to stop paging him.

"She don't never leave no number, so I can't call her back," he said.

After three such calls, someone thought to ask how he knew it was Lucille if she didn't leave a number.

"She leaves her name" was the reply.

After establishing that the customer had a numeric-only pager, the light bulb came on. "How does she spell her name?" the service rep asked.

"L-O-W C-E-L-L"

When things start to bother us, the problem may simply be that we need to get "re-charged". Keeping our schedules overbooked, staying busy "doing things", going here and there -- it takes a toll after a while. Before we get stressed out and burned out, we need to learn to take some time to unwind and recharge. Turn off the radio and the television. Oh, and the computer, too! Unplug the telephone if you need to, or better yet, get away from the house (without the cell phone). Spend some quiet time with God in prayer and reflection on His Word.

Notice what Jesus did as he was surrounded by a crowd of people, all demanding a piece of his time:

"Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there." (Matthew 14:22-23)

Watch out for Lucille! Don't forget to recharge.

Alan Smith

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Wisdom is the comb given to the man after he has lost his hair

"Is é an eagna raca tugtha chun an fear tar éis chaill sé a chuid gruaige."

"Wisdom is the comb given to the man after he has lost his hair."

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Math teacher Dr. David Benke

 

The scene eerily resembled the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999.  This time the events occurred at Deer Park Middle School , three miles from Columbine, in Littleton , Colorado .

A 32-year-old man with a history of mental illness opened fire at students at the Middle School last Tuesday afternoon.  The shooter had wounded two students when Math teacher Dr. David Benke, 57, who had been helping with crosswalk duty, saw the gunman reloading his rifle.  He saw an opportunity to help protect his students.

"I noticed that he was working a bolt action rifle and realized that I had time to get him before he could chamber another round," said Benke.

He ran and tackled the suspect, preventing him from inflicting more harm. Thirteen year old Reagan Weber, one of two students wounded in the attack, believes Benke's actions saved lives.  "I think he's a hero," said Weber. "He obviously probably saved a lot more students." *

Neal Pollard, minister of the Bear Valley Church of Christ in Denver , wrote: "People want heroes and Benke is a good fit. There's the gentle, sure demeanor that quickly restored calm in a terrifying situation. There's the willingness and ability to sacrifice himself to save others." **

Benke's actions remind us of an even GREATER Hero…

When WE were trapped by our sins and destined to die, Jesus Christ came to our rescue (Romans 6:23), 

Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus "tackled" (CONQUERED) sin AND our great adversary, Satan
(Hebrews 2:14).

Through Jesus, WE can be saved from sin when we respond to Him with:
faith (Acts 16:30-31), repentance from sin (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  He will CONTINUE to cleanse those who CONTINUE to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

Because of ALL He has done for us, we should consider Jesus to be the Greatest Hero of ALL!  Pollard reminds us of the words of a beautiful song:

"Why should I not love Jesus? Jesus who died for me!
Why should I not adore Him, Hero of Calvary .
Why should I not love Jesus? Lost and alone was I;
In His great love He saved me, lifted my soul on high.
Why should I not love Jesus? One day He'll come for me;
Oh, I shall share His glory for all eternity."
– Claude T. Lynn

Because of His great love for us, Jesus "tackled" our greatest problem: "SIN".  

He will save us and give us an eternal home in heaven -IF- we will just "TAKE" His hand in trusting obedience.

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent

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OLYMPIC GOLD

   
It is simply amazing to watch the great athletes that compete in the Olympics. Once every four years these athletes have the opportunity to display their talents to the world. Sadly, many fall short of their ultimate goal. Others celebrate with great enthusiasm as they reach their long awaited objective, Olympic gold. It is heart breaking when one looses balance and falls or is given the wrong directions by a coach. They have diligently worked practically their whole lives for this moment and some simple mistake keeps them from gaining their prize. However, whether they win or lose they all have one thing in common, a work ethic that is hard to understand. Early mornings, rigorous workouts, and strict diets are part of their every day lives. All this so they can one day wear Olympic gold around their necks. This is why I found it very interesting when I heard this statement earlier this week, "Imagine how life would change if ALL Christians worked as hard for Heavenly Gold as some athletes do for Olympic Gold". How hard are we willing to work for our goal? Many give their life's dedication to a sport. Are we willing to give this type of dedication to something that is infinitely more important? Sadly, many are not. For some Christianity is something they do on Sunday morning. This type of Christianity is despicable to our God (Revelation 3:16). God desires Christians who dedicate their lives for the cause of Christ. Certainly, Paul proved to be a great example of this. Therefore, when he faced his life's end he was able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (II Timothy 4:7, 8). Paul received his crown because he fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he kept the faith. Will you receive a crown also?

Garrett Bookout

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If we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
What if we flipped through it several time a day?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?
What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?
What if we used it when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of emergency?
This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing.
Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being
Disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.
Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities? And no dropped calls!
When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you!
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"A Blessing Or A Curse?"

A masked man approaches me with what appears to be a very sharp knife.
Is this a good thing or a bad?  It depends, doesn't it?  If I'm in the
hospital with a badly infected appendix, then it's a blessing that a
skilled surgeon is about to remove it.  But if I'm walking down a dark
street late at night, I don't want to see a sharp knife headed my way.

Money is another example of "it depends".  Some might immediately
disagree, quoting the Bible as saying "money is the root of all evil".
Before you say "Amen", though, may I remind you that the Bible doesn't
say that.  Paul wrote that "the love of money is a root of all kinds
of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).  One can possess money without loving it.

Nancy Gibbs wrote an interesting editorial in the February 22, 2010
issue of "Time" magazine.  In "Doing Good Badly" she writes about
misguided efforts to help others in times of disaster.  She pointed to
clothing that had been sent to the victims of the tsunami in 2004.
Articles included a Santa suit, high heeled shoes and evening gowns.
How helpful were those kinds of things for people picking up the
pieces of their lives?!

Gibbs then made this point: "Money is fleet and nimble.  The very
thing that makes it unsatisfying to give makes it powerful to deploy.
It can turn into anything - a water bottle, a prefab house, a tetanus
shot, a biscuit.  It lets relief agencies buy locally whenever
possible, supporting local markets for products that are culturally
and environmentally right" (p. 134).  Instead of sending that T-shirt
from your trip to the Grand Canyon, send money; that will buy things
the victims really need.

Even Jesus pointed to the fact that money can be a blessing.  In Luke
16:9 He said this: "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by
unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an
everlasting home."  Another translation of that verse makes the point
clearer: "I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and
make friends.  In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you
in heaven" (New Living Translation).

No, Jesus isn't talking about buying friendship.  Those who attempt to
use their money in that way sooner or later find out how futile such
pursuits can be.  The prodigal son of Luke 15 had friends while he had
money.  When the money ran out he searched in vain for those pals.

Using our resources to help others, however, usually wins true
friends.  When others see that we care enough about their needs to
open our wallets, they learn to trust us.  Occasions of suffering can
lead to deep relationships when love and compassion respond.

For what shall we use our money?  Only for ourselves?  In that
scenario money becomes a curse (just read 1 Timothy 6:10 again for
confirmation of that).  We can turn it into a blessing, though, by
following the words of Jesus: "... but lay up for yourselves treasures
in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do
not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart
will be also" (Matthew 6:20,21).

As someone once said, "Money can be either a harsh master or a
valuable servant."  It's our choice.

Timothy D. Hall.
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Now, please go over there and explain all

                         PARENTS HAVE TO LIVE IT
     At one point during a game, the coach said to one of his young players,
"Do you understand what cooperation is and what teamwork is all about?"  The
little boy nodded in the affirmative.
     "Do you understand that what really matters is not whether we win or
lose, but that we play together as a team?"  The little boy nodded yes.
     "Good," the coach continued.  "And, when a strike is called, or you're
thrown out at first, you don't argue, curse, attack the umpire with a bat,
or throw dirt in the opposing team members' faces.  Do you understand all
that?"
     Again the little boy nodded, "Well, sure, coach.  That's what you
taught us."
     "Good," said the coach.  "Now, please go over there and explain all
that to your mother."
     I've been to a few Little League games when the above conversation
needed to take place!  It's sad to see parents who act in an irresponsible
manner because you know that they are teaching their children (and others'
children) to behave in a similar manner.
     God has given those of us who are parents an awesome responsibility -- 
not only to teach our children what is right, but to live in such a way that
they can see that we are willing to practice what we've been teaching them
to do.
      Moses told the parents of Israel to take the laws which God had given
them and "teach them diligently to your children...." (Deut. 6:7).  But
before telling parents to do that, he warned them:  "Therefore hear, O
Israel, and be careful to observe it...." (Deut. 6:3).
     Before we can teach a love of God and others to our children, it must
be in our own hearts.  May God bless those of you who are parents as you
strive to do just that.  May your life be so filled with a desire to follow
God that your children will be open to hear all that you have to say to
them.
Alan Smith

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And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving

A story carried by Reuters News Service on February 25,
2010 will surely bring many vengeful smiles.

In an effort to raise revenue during the worldwide
recession, the government of Bulgaria has ordered an
investigation of civil servants who have outstanding
fines.

Found during the search were more than 400 tax
inspectors who have failed to pay traffic tickets. The
amount of the fines will be deducted from the February
pay of each of these.

How can one occupy a position of "tax inspector" and
yet not pay what they themselves owe? You can be sure
no one will be hosting a telethon to raise funds for
these poor public officials!

This story immediately brings to mind the warning given
by Jesus in Matthew 7:1-3:

   "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with
   what judgment you judge, you will be judged;
   and with the measure you use, it will be
   measured back to you. And why do you look at
   the speck in your brother's eye, but do not
   consider the plank in your own eye?" (NKJV).

Finding fault in others is quite common. Seeing that
you aren't perfect helps me feel a little less guilty
for my faults. I may even feel superior upon
discovering your shortcomings!

Since such scrutiny makes me feel good (in a bad sort
of way), judging others becomes a habit.

The clearest warning against such a mind-set is found
in Matthew 18:21-35. A servant who had been forgiven a
staggering debt would not forgive a fellow-servant's
trivial debt.

In the process the ungrateful servant forfeited his own
mercy. In the hands of the torturers he undoubtedly
regretted his judgmental ways.

Don't miss the point of the parable: "So my heavenly
father also will do to you if each of you, from his
heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses"
(Matthew 18:35).

As we inspect the lives of those around us, handing out
citations for each fault discovered, let us remember to
begin with our own lives. Thus humbled by the reality
of our own failings, perhaps we'll show the mercy God
expects of his people.

"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving
one another, even as God in Christ forgave you"
(Ephesians 4:32).
by Tim Hall

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg


"The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth."

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, German physics professor and scientist (1742-1799)
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BE CAREFUL LITTLE HANDS WHAT YOU DO

Have you ever heard or sung the children's song that goes, "Be careful little hands what you do, be careful little feet where you go, be careful little mouth what you say." It's a great lesson for our children, but one it seems is always difficult to practice in real life.

It seems that we are often moved to act or speak on impulse, without thinking through the results of our actions or words. We don't often get a chance to take back the results of our actions or words.

My friend Bill passed this little story along to me that I thought makes a pretty good point regarding this problem.

A man wrote: "My wife and I were browsing in a crafts store when I noticed a display of country-style musical instruments.

After looking over the flutes, dulcimers and recorders, I picked up a shiny, one-stringed instrument I took to be a mouth harp.  I put it to my lips and, much to the amusement of other shoppers, twanged a few notes on it.

After watching from a distance, my wife came up and whispered in my ear. 'I hate to tell you this, honey, but you're trying to play a cheese slicer'."

I guess why I find this story so amusing is that I could see myself doing something like that! The problem is that more often than not our unconsidered actions and words go beyond being amusing. Many times what we say and do is hurtful to others or to our representation of Christ (who is suppose to be living in us).

Paul admonishes Christians regarding this in Philippians 4:8, where he writes: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."

Again the little song sums it up I think: "Be careful little hands what you do, be careful little feet where you go, be careful little mouth what you say." The song ends with these words, "For the father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little life what you do."

How are you doing?

Russ Lawson

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Proverbs 12:25

                                        "Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop, but
                            a good word maketh it glad." Proverbs 12.25
Will Rogers use to say (paraphrastically) that he only had to read the newspaper in order to get all the material he needed for his act. I totally understand his reasoning, but I have the advantage of also having TV for inspiration. And it's the "news" that is going to be the basis for our lesson today. Let's give it a go.
One of the things that I think that all of us have noticed about the news that's reported to us is, that most of it falls into the "bad news" category. There was a study done a while back wherein a large group of people were asked to evaluate the news. This study was conducted over the period of a year and a half and they were asked to record whether what they were seeing or hearing was "good news" or "bad news." Whether it was "positive" or "negative. The results of that study was that 90% of the news was "negative." Was "bad news."
Is it any wonder that people go around with "heaviness of heart" all the time? That they are depressed or discouraged over the way things are going? It just seems like the "sky is always gloomy," so to speak. If ninety percent of what we see/hear in the news is negative, what would you think the general mental climate of society would be. I'd guess, uh - negative?
Based upon what I've already pointed out, don't you think it would be of great benefit if we made a concerted effort to be cheerful and positive every chance we get? For our benefit as much as for others. We get enough "bad news" every day from our news outlets that we don't need to add to it. The design by God for His people, Christians, is not to be "gloomy Gus's."
Right here I'm remembering another passage from Solomon's wise advice found in the book of Proverbs. In chapter 17, verse 22 he tells us, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." What two great metaphors are seen here in this verse - "medicine" and "dried bones."

"Medicine
" refers to the effect that cheerfulness has on our bodies. A lot of the ill feelings we have in our bodies is caused by our mental turmoil. When someone cheers us up it's like a dose of "medicine" to our spirits and makes us feel better physically. On the other hand, a "broken spirit," a mental state of turmoil, sadness or depression is like "dried bones." Like a condition that affects us to the very marrow of our bones.
Maybe we could use some "medicine" today. Some "good news" instead of the constant assault on our systems by the media and it's "bad news." Years ago my mother used to subscribe to a little weekly newspaper called "The Grit." It was a newspaper dedicated to only printing news articles that were of the "good" category. I don't even know if it still exists today, but I hope that it does because if there was ever a time that we needed a publication devoted to the "positive" it's now.
I'm going to close with a news article I ran across a while back that is just a great example of "good news." When you read it, maybe it will lift your spirit as it did mine. It's just a little news article about a whale and you may even recall seeing something about it when it happened back in December of 2005.
"If you read the front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her... a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.
They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time and nudged them, pushed gently around - she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The man who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same."
The article I read had this note appended to the above news article and I pass it on to you as it speaks directly to our thoughts today. It read: "May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will swim with you in the deep waters that may engulf you, and who will help you become untangled from the things that bind you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude. I pass this on in the same spirit.
                            People will forget what you said......
                            People will forget what you did........
                            But people will never forget how you made them feel....
Ron Covey

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

St. Valentine and Valentine’s Day

         "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,

                        you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,

                        kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Col. 3:12

About a week ago we observed another holiday that started out, hundreds of years ago, as a pagan festival, was later changed into a holiday to honor a "martyr" by the name of St. Valentine and then, by the middle ages, had become connected to the principle or notion of "romantic love."

Of course it took an American to figure out how to make money at it, and in 1847 a woman in New England started making and selling "Valentine Cards." It naturally morphed into what it is today, another highly-commercialized holiday. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that more than 1 billion Valentine cards will be purchased and given out, making it second only to the Christmas holidays.

I was asked by a well-meaning lady what I had gotten my wife for Valentine's Day, assuming that my wife was my Valentine. (She is) I told her "nothing," that she already had me and what more could she want. The lady just sort of stared at me and walked away, probably overwhelmed at how lucky Carolyn is.

I'm sure that, by her question, she was asking what I had "bought" my wife and probably had in mind one of the things advertised all over the place for this occasion. Things like flowers, candy or jewelry. And, since a woman began the commercialization of this holiday, another statistic about it stands to reason: that men spend twice as much for "stuff" as do women.

Okay, 'nuff said about Valentine's Day itself but, along with a couple of chuckles, it does provide me with a lead-in to a topic for us to consider today. And that topic would be; the care and consideration of each other. As seen in the above cited passage from Colossians, Christians are supposed to be considerate of one another. To be kind and tolerant (read verse 13 also). In other words, be concerned about others, especially those of our "Spiritual family." (Gal. 6:10)

Just about every Sunday, prior to the worship service starting, an announcement is made concerning those members not present, and an admonition is made to "check on them," to see if they need our help in some way. It's done because we care about them and their welfare, both physically and spiritually. That is part of the duty of Christians. To care enough about others to contact them and be of assistance if needed.

As usual, I have an illustration to offer here that I hope is helpful in making the point of my lesson today. It's a little different though, in that it presents a negative picture of our subject. I found this report hard to believe, however it was reported in the form of an actual occurrence in a major newspaper, the New York Times. See if you don't agree with me when you read it.

WORKER DEAD AT DESK FOR FIVE DAYS (headline)

"Bosses of a publishing firm are trying to work out why no one noticed that one of their employees had been sitting dead at his desk for five days before anyone asked if he was feeling okay. George Turklebaum, 51, who had been employed as a proof-reader at a New York firm for 30 years, had a heart attack in the open-plan office he shared with 23 other workers.

He quietly passed away on Monday, but nobody noticed until Saturday morning when an office cleaner asked why he was working during the weekend.

His boss, Elliot Wachiaski, said: "George was always the first guy in each morning and the last to leave at night, so no one found it unusual that he was in the same position all that time and didn't say anything. He was always absorbed in his work and kept much to himself."

A post mortem examination revealed that he had been dead for five days after suffering a coronary. George was proofreading manuscripts of medical textbooks when he died. You may want to give your co-workers a nudge occasionally."

Can you imagine that? Could you work in the same office with someone who hadn't moved or changed position for five days and not notice it? Could you be so thoughtless as to not even speak to a co-worker for five days? And, having worked homicide for 8 years, I won't even go the "smelling" aspect of this picture. This has to serve as the ultimate example of thoughtlessness of others.

I know for a fact that we here at Highland would never be guilty of not caring about the welfare of our "family." It wasn't but a few weeks back that one of the brethren was so concerned about MY welfare during a Sunday morning service, that he called out to me and WOKE ME UP. Perhaps it was because I was the song leader that day and it was my turn to do something, but the fact remains, he was concerned about me. Sometimes I'm concerned about me too.

In all seriousness, let's always strive to be concerned about the welfare of our fellow members and to "check" on them to see if they need our help in some way. And do it in such a manner as to let them know that we're genuinely concerned, and that we genuinely care about them and that we're not just being "nosey."

Ron Covey

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY!

How many of you remember the catchy little tune that made a hit and was used
in commercials, "Don't worry, Be happy". I've wondered why that song became
so popular, and I think I know the answer. The reason is because so many
people are unhappy and greatly desire to BE HAPPY!

The problem may be that we don't know how to define that which will really
make us happy! We think about it and come up with lots of descriptions such
as wealth, health, freedom, fishing, hunting, boating, camping or being with
family; as you see the list is almost endless.

Seriously though, what would it take to make you happy? Some unknown person
penned these words that I think apply very apply here: Being happy doesn't
mean everything's perfect; it just means you've decided to see beyond the
imperfections.

How many scriptures can you think of that encourage us to rejoice? I checked
and found 124 times we are instructed to Rejoice. The most familiar verse
though is probably written by the Apostle Paul.

Paul said, "I'm telling you to rejoice in the Lord always, and just in case
you missed it I'm going to say it again, "REJOICE".  (Philippians 4:4 RL
translation).  We sing the song, "Sing and be happy which looks to the
future and the promises of something better to come. Think about the words
of this song:

SING AND BE HAPPY

If the skies above you are grey and you are feeling so blue, if your cares
and burdens seem great all the whole day through. There's a silver lining
that shines in the heavenly land look by faith and see it my friend Trust in
His promises grand

Chorus:
Sing and you'll be happy today Press along to the goal, trust in him who
leadeth the way He will keep your soul

How happy are you? Really, if you rated your happiness on a scale of 1 to 10
where would you rate yourself? The happiness we are all looking for is not
found here on earth is it?

I was shocked this week to find a website devoted to tearing down Christian
hymns. They mocked the words and the ideas the presented as "pure science
fiction" or "dreams of a deluded mind". What I saw as I read their words was
anger and disillusionment with life in general. They had no hope and found
their satisfaction in trying to get others to sink to their level of
unhappiness. That is exactly what Christianity is fighting, this since of
hopelessness!

Paul preaches a mini sermon about  it in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 where he
begins with these words, "And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know
what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of
sorrow like people who have no hope."

We, as Christians have that which transcends the sorrows and problems of
this world! Another hymn comes to mind that we often sing at a special
occasion, OH HAPPY DAY. Again notice the words of the song.

Oh happy day, Oh happy day, When Jesus washed my sins away. He taught me how
to watch and live rejoicing every day every day. Oh happy day, Oh happy day,
When Jesus Washed My sins away.

The Message of the New Testament is a message of hope. It is a message of
Change and it is a message that says, there something better that what I
have now and I am going to get some of it later.

Romans 6:3-8,
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were
baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism
into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through
the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united
with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him
in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so
that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be
slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if
we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." (NIV)

My encouragement to you today is to: Remember the promises of God! Remember
whose child you are! Remember what is yet to come!

Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 2:9 says this about the promises: "No eye has
seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for
those who love him".

So: Don't worry, be happy, then sing and be happy, remembering the Happy Day
when Jesus washed your sins away, because that is what our true happiness is
based upon.

-- Russ Lawson

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Netwitness, a computer security company

There are reasons to feel paranoid about who might be
looking into our private files. According to a Wall
Street Journal story on February 18, 2010, a major
operation has been uncovered.

Hands have been discovered reaching into the private
files of hundreds of companies. Your information or
mine might be involved.

Netwitness, a computer security company, uncovered the
scheme. What they found were hackers working from
centers in Europe and China, remotely using computers
of perhaps millions of unsuspecting users to avoid
detection.

More than 2,400 companies have been infiltrated, and the
thieves have gained access to credit card transactions
and intellectual property.

The story is just breaking, and we'll know more in days
to come. This is not the first incident of identity
theft, of course, and it surely won't be the last.

At stake in situations like these are financial
resources. How shocked would we be to find that our
bank account that was comfortably stocked yesterday is
inexplicably empty today? There are reasons why
companies like LifeLock have done so well!

Before computers and the Internet, an even more
sinister threat lurked, one that continues even today.
Peter wrote about it: "Be sober, be vigilant; because
your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring
lion seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Laugh if you must, but the Bible is a credible book.
The threat is real.

Satan does not share God's qualities of omniscience and
omnipotence. There is a limit on what he can do. If
anything, though, we underestimate his abilities.

Paul wrote about otherwise intelligent people when he
made this observation: "And that they may come to their
senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been
taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:26).

Like naive home computers that have been hijacked for
criminal activities by an evil hacker, we are often
found letting Satan utilize our minds and bodies for
his purposes.

Satan cannot win, however, if we take our stand with
Christ. That would mean learning from the Lord how to
live wisely: "Lest Satan should take advantage of us;
for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians
2:11).

Wisdom also means doing God's will in all things:
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will
flee from you" (James 4:7).

Close your eyes and pretend that no one is trying to
hack into your personal information. But wouldn't it be
smarter to be proactive? In the same way, believe the
Bible when it says the devil is trying to hack his way
into your eternal reward.
 
-- by Tim Hall

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A poem written by Emilie Lenhart Robertson


       When we look throughout history, it is always interesting to see how much people gave up to be able to read the Bible.  Several times the Bible was banned, suppressed, and destroyed.  However, the Lord of all things is surely powerful enough to keep His book together.  Since God has kept this book together for such a long time, obviously there is information of the utmost importance within it.  Sometimes we can forget how important the Bible can really be.  A poem written by Emilie Lenhart Robertson seems to describe this very well.


I've been sitting here thinking
Of my life up to now
The many roads I've traveled
As I was searching how
I could make it into heaven
And really what it took
And it came to me quite suddenly
The way is in THE BOOK.

Yes, I've stumbled quite a lot
As I've wandered through this life
There were times I didn't care
If what I did was wrong or right
Somehow God was patient
Each time His plan I forsook
And I didn't pay attention
To what was written in THE BOOK.

Now I thank God for His mercy,
For watching over me each day
For sending His son, Jesus
To show us all the way.
I thank Him most of all, though
For causing me to look
For I always knew the answer
Would be written in THE BOOK.


       What a tremendous blessing it is to have access to the greatest book ever written without the fear of persecution.  Let us never forget the wonderful answers and information it contains and always look to God's Word.
--Brett Petrillo

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Main Street church in Calhoun, Kentucky

 
LARRY AND JANE HUDSON are dear friends from the Main Street church in Calhoun, Kentucky...
 
A few years ago invited me to Sunday dinner following the AM worship assembly. This special couple was celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and so they asked me to go along and commemorate the happy occasion.

Our destination...? Owensboro, Kentucky and Moonlite Bar-B-Q. 

Everybody in that neck of the woods knows about Moonlite. Think "casual dining." Think "family feel." Think "all-you-can-eat" BBQ buffet. Underline the word "all." Hungry guests stand in line with a plate and then help themselves to a smorgasbord of tasty, home-style dishes. 

Buffet. Choose what you want. Skip what you don't want. Go back as many times as you wish. This is gastronomical heaven. I loaded my plate with country favorites -- mashed potatoes, pulled pork, and green beans, but then skiped the macaroni and cheese, gravy and rolls. 

I left the restaurant full as the proverbial tick. Okay, maybe not full -- I stopped just one bite shy of gluttony.

The meal was great. The Christian company was even better.

It occurs to me that many preachers treat the Word like a trip to Moonlite. They fill their theological dinner-ware with perennial favorites. They "eat" what their doctrinal belly desires (
Philippians 3:19
), but then pass over those food items which their denomination deems unpalatable. For instance, some heap their plate with faith, but then consciously omit what the Scriptures teach about baptism. They select SOME of God's word but not the SUM of God's word. They claim to be "Bible-believing," but then do a "Moonlite" on those passages which teach the necessity of immersion. 

Does the New Testament require baptism? No? Look again. According to 
Matthew 28:19-20 baptism is involved in my becoming a disciple of Christ. According to Mark 16:15-16 baptism is something I must engage if I want to be saved. According to Acts 2:37-38 baptism is something I must undergo in order to be forgiven of my sins. According to Acts 8:12-13, 38 baptism is something I must submit to, even if it means changing my religion. According to Acts 10:48 baptism is something I must obey because it has been commanded. According to Acts 16:14-15, baptism is something I will yield to -- immediately -- in order to be faithful to the Lord. According to Acts 22:16 baptism is something I must do if I desire my past sins to be taken away (cf. Acts 9:6). According to Romans 6:3-7 baptism is that which makes a difference (slave of sin vs. slave of righteousness) in my life. According to 1 Corinthians 12:13 baptism is the means by which I enter the body or church (cf. Ephesians 1:22-23). According to Galatians 3:26-27 baptism is the way that I become a child of God. According to 1 Peter 3:21 
baptism saves. 

Got your Bible handy? Read through 
Jeremiah 36
. Jeremiah prophesied during the closing days of the Southern kingdom of Judah. On one occasion, the prophet received a divine message from God and then had the words written on a scroll (vv. 1-3). This inspired document was later read to king Jehoiakim by Jehudi (vv. 21). When Jehudi read that the kingdom-nation would be overthrown by the Babylonian empire, Jehoiakim decided he couldn't "stomach" anymore. The arrogant ruler took a scribe's penknife, cut up the scroll, and then cast it into the fire until it was consumed (vv. 22-24). 

Jehoiakim would have liked Moonlite. Eat what you want. Skip what you don't want. Mashed potatoes "yes," dinner rolls "no." Authoritarian rule "yes," servile bondage "no." Faith "yes," baptism "no." 

Dear reader, the Bible is not a self-serve restaurant. We can't pick out the parts that we like and then reject or cut out the portions that don't strike our fancy. We must declare and consume (Jer. 15:16) the whole counsel of God (
Acts 20:27; cf. 2 Timothy 4:2-4
), including those passages which teach the necessity of baptism.

Is your preacher offering some of God's Word, or the sum of God's Word?  Mike Benson
 
"The sum of your word is truth,and every one of your righteous rules endures forever" (Psm. 119:160)

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A sermon on holiness

 

When Should I Be Holy?

Eph. 1:4: cf. 5:27; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:15; 2 Pet. 3:11: JAM Youth Rally—02.21.10 (or "The Need to Take Time")

Intro:

A.  Song—"Take time to be holy…"

      1.  I have to tell you initially that this first phrase in the song bothered me because it sounded as though it was saying

            that holiness is something you turn on and off like a water faucet. 

            a.  Ex: Sunday morning—turn the faucet on; Sunday afternoon—turn the faucet off

            b.  If we are not careful, we will accept the idea that holiness is somehow confined within the walls of the worship

                 assembly—that an act of worship is holy, but that an act of life is not. 

            c.  Let me let you in on a little secret: It is possible to engage in religious acts and still be unholy.

            d.  An individual can sing without mechanical instruments of music, observe the LS, give of his means, listen to

                  preaching, and pray and not be holy.  (That's why the song says, "…Abide in Him always…").     

      2.  Questions:

           a.  What exactly is holiness?

           b.  Why do we need to pursue holiness?

           c.  When do we need to pursue holiness?

B.  "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before

      Him in love."  Eph. 1:4

 

I.  What is HOLINESS?

 

    A.  The word "holy" is typically used in a derogatory sense today.

 

          1.  Ex:  If you try to live a godly life, you may be accused of being a "holy roller."

          2.  Ex:  If you attempt to correct someone in error/sin you might be labeled as "holier-than-thou."  Ex:

 

    B.  OT examples give us come insight to the concept:

 

          1.  "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had

               created and made."  Gen. 2:3  (The NIV says, "And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy…"). 

               a.  God created the heavens and earth in six days, but on the seventh He ceased from His labor and called the

                    day "holy."  (Why was it called holy?  God didn't create anything that day).

               b.  It was holy simply because it was a special day set aside or separated by God to be different from the

                    previous six days.  Ex: Holy (set apart) Bible (book) verses a history book.  cf. Rom. 1:2

          2.  "Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place.  Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is

               holy ground."  Exo. 3:5  (Why was the ground holy?  Was the ground around the tree somehow more fertile

               the surrounding land, or was the grass greener by the bush?  No). 

               a.  The ground was holy because God was present. 

               b.  Without God's presence, the ground would not have been holy, but because He occupied it, it became holy).

                    Ex:  Within the OT Tabernacle there was a place known as "the Holy of Holies" where the high priest entered

                    once a year to sprinkle the blood of a heifer on the Ark of the Covenant for the people's sins).

                    1)  The Greek word used most often for holy in the NT is hagios and means "separated."

                    2)  Forms of holiness:

                          a)  Positional—when we come in contact with the blood of Christ at baptism. "And such were some of

                                you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord

                                Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."  1 Cor. 6:11

                                .  This refers to the status God grants us when we are born into the family of God.

 

                                .  We are made holy.  "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body

                                    of Jesus Christ once for all."  Heb. 10:10 NIV  Song: "Is Thy Heart Right with God"—"…cleansed and

                                    made holy…"

                          b)  Progressive—as we live a life that is separated from worldly pursuits.  "Therefore, having these

                                promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting

                                holiness in the fear of God."  2 Cor. 7:1

                                .  This is not confined to superficial behavior and vocabulary changes.

                                .  This involves a complete transformation of attitude and a desire to overcome the tendency to be

                                   controlled by sin.

                           c)  Prospective or anticipated—refers to the time in heaven when we are transformed into the likeness of

                                Christ.  cf. Phil. 3:12-14; 1 Jn. 3:2; 1 Cor. 15:53   

 

II.  Why do we need to pursue a holy and separated life?

 

      A.  Disclaimer:

 

            1.  The thought of holiness often conjures mental images of perfection and sinlessness, reserved only for church

                 leaders and far beyond the reach of any normal child of God.  (This isn't biblical). 

                 a.  Often times the word hagios is translated "saint" in our English Bibles.

                      1)  Romans:

                            .  Paul addressed Romans "To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints…"  1:17

                            .  He reported that he was on his way to Jerusalem "...to make a certain contribution for the poor among

                               the saints…"  15:26

                            .  He wanted a lady named Phoebe to be received "…in a manner worthy of the saints…"  16:2

                      2)  Corinthians:

                            .  The Corinthians were referred to as "…the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are

                               sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…"  1:2

                            .  Matters of disagreement between brethren were not to be taken to secular courts, but settled by the

                               judgment of the saints.  cf. 6:1-2

                            .  In 16:15, Paul recommended the first converts in Asia, the household of Stephanas, noting "…they have

                               devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints." 

                       3)  Similar usages abound in the other inspired writings of the NT. 

            2.  Someone says, "I'm not a saint!"  (Oh yes you are)!

                 a.  Our Catholic friends have corrupted the term to refer to a person who has achieved a high level of moral

                      and spiritual excellence beyond the grasp of normal people.  Ex: Saint Theresa or Saint Matthew

                 b.  You as a member of the blood-bought body of Jesus Christ are a saint!      

 

      B.  Why should we pursue holiness?  Illust: Blue snow cones

 

            1.  Because God calls for a life of separation.    

                 a.  Paul warned of forming unequal yokes with unbelievers.  "Do not be unequally yoked together with

                      unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with

                      darkness?"  2 Cor. 6:14

                      1)  This passage has often been used to warn against marrying someone outside of Christ.

                      2)  There are times when a spouse's spiritual focus has been squashed by an unbelieving mate, but the

                           unequal yoke is not exclusively applied to marriage.

                           a)  Paul doesn't mention marriage in this context.

                           b)  The unequal yoke refers to any association, commitment, or involvement with unbelievers that

                                 threatens your devotion to God.

                 b.  Verses:

                      .  "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame

                         before Him in love."  Eph. 1:4

                      .  "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord."  Heb. 12:14

            2.  Because it is how we influence others.

                 a.  Friendship often precedes winning souls to Christ; therefore our actions are critical in influencing them

                      to obey the gospel. 

                      1)  Like it or not, people are watching—especially if we are trying to live a holy life.

                      2)  Ex:  When I was working at Guardian, a co-worker made this observation of me: "Since I've known Mike,

                            I have never heard him swear…"  (I realized then that people were watching my life for the simple reason

                            that I claimed to be a Christian).   

                 b.  Many Christians live in circumstances where they feel pressure to conform to an ungodly environment.  Ex: 

                       .  A Christian teenager may live in the home of unbelieving parents.

                       .  A Christian may be thrust among ungodly companions as he serves in the military.

                       .  Most Christians who have a job work among non-Christian people in order to make a living.

                       1)  Brethren, it's not possible to leave the world and God doesn't want us to!

                       2)  Jesus prayed, "They are not of this world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them by Your truth.

                            Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."  Jn. 17:16-18

                            a)  We are engaged in spiritual warfare with the agents of Satan.

                            b)  Through the avenue of temptation, God's holy people are going to be subtly or not so subtly

                                  pressured to abandon their faith.  (Our influence as well as our own salvation depends upon holy

                                  living)!    

 

III.  When do we need to pursue holiness?

 

       A.  The song says, "Take time to be holy…"

 

             1.  Illust:  In the early 1880's, William Longstaff wrote a poem that later became a hymn entitled, "Take Time to

                  be Holy."

                  a.  Note the second verse: "Take  time to be holy, the world rushes on; spend much time in secret with Jesus

                       alone; by looking to Jesus like Him thou shalt be; thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see."

                  b.  It occurred to me why holy people tend to be scarce today:

                       .  "Take time…"  But I don't have time.

                       .  "The world rushes on…"  And I'm rushing with it.

                       .  "Spend much time in secret…"  Secret?  I like to brag about anything I do with and for Jesus.

                       .  "With Jesus alone…"  Huh?  And turn off my iPod and text messaging?

                       .  "Like Him thou shalt be…"  I'd rather imitate my friends in the world.

                       .  "Thy friend in thy conduct His likeness shall see…"  Then don't expect me to be that kind of example.

             2.  Holiness is not a water faucet that I turn on and off—it is a way of life!  

 

          B.  Passages:

                .  "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,

                     holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."  Rom.  12:1

                .  "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you

                    are."  1 Cor. 3:17

                .  "That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but

                    that she should be holy and without blemish."  Eph. 5:27

                .  "But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct."  1 Pet. 1:15

                  .  "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may

                     proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."  1 Pet. 2:9

                  .  "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct

                     and godliness."  2 Pet. 3:11

             2.  When is the time to be holy?  (All of the time; it is a way of life). 

 

Concl:

A.  Review:

     1.  What is holiness?  (It is living a life of separation from the world.

     2.  Why should we pursue it?  (Because God commands it, and because it is how we influence people for Christ).

     3.  When should we pursue it?  (Every moment of every day).

B.  Illust:  Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, dreamed of creating an operating system and software to make computers

      easier to use.  He worked day after day on these goals.  Eventually, Microsoft became the most dominant software

      company in the world.  Like Gates, Michael Dell was dedicated in his business of providing consumers with

      computers.  He began the Dell Company in his college dormitory room, and after years of tweaking, the business

      became the leading provider of computers in the world.  The success of both of these men was due largely to their

      dedication.

      1.  We can learn from Gates and Dell. 

           a.  Each had a long-term and attainable goal in mind.

           b.  Both knew their business would not succeed overnight.  (Success would take sacrifice).

      2.  Holiness is achievable for every Christian, but holiness cannot be attained overnight.

           a.  It takes Bible study, prayer, and meditation.

           b.  It requires the sacrifice of self and worldly pleasures.  (But these sacrifices will someday pale in comparison to

                the holiness we'll enjoy in heaven).   "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see

                the Lord."  Heb. 12:14        

 

--Mike Benson


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