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Thursday, June 30, 2011

This lady needs help

 
I'm not one who spends much time at all on YouTube, but I'll take a
look at videos others recommend for my viewing.  As you likely know,
there are some bizarre things to be seen at YouTube.  Yes, there are
some cute videos, too, like the dog who seems to be talking as his
master teases him about food that the dog will not get to enjoy.
Videos go "viral" when they have something of particular interest.

One such clip that has gone viral is of a woman who appears to be
doing a personal biography for a dating service.  She begins
innocently enough, telling her name and where she attended college.
Very quickly she begins talking about her love for cats, and that's
all she can talk about (through tears at times) for the next couple of
minutes.  "This lady needs help" was the response both my wife and I
gave upon viewing this three-minute clip.

I've since learned that there are good reasons to believe that the
video was a setup; she wasn't being genuine, but acting.  Almost 11
million have viewed the video (as I write this), and most will feel as
I do when they get wind of its phony nature.  We'll all feel duped,
feeling this lady is making big deposits from the money she's earned
as a result of the millions of hits.

"Duped" and "Internet" seem to go hand-in-hand, don't they?  Not
everything (or maybe even most things) that appear on the Internet are
dishonest.  But "scam" and "phishing" are terms we've learned well as
a result of being connected to the worldwide web.  We've learned to be
more careful about whom we'll trust.

The apostle Peter assured his first-century readers that they were not
being duped.  "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we
made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but
were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).  John begins his
first letter with similar verification: "That which was from the
beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the
Word of life ..." (1 John 1:1).  There's no trickery with these
authors; they were firsthand witnesses.

Behind the apostles and other inspired writers, however, is the
ultimate in truth: God Himself.  Constantly the truthfulness of God is
stressed throughout the Bible.  "The fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous
altogether" (Psalm 19:9).  Paul wrote "In hope of eternal life which
God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus 1:2).

The world is full of confidence men, sordid souls who lie through
smiling lips.  When they're finished, you've purchased a product or a
service that turns out to be nothing more than thin air.  It matters
not that you are left penniless; they're already on the way to meet
their next victim.

Where do such despicable tendencies come from?  Jesus tell us: "...
When [the devil] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for
he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44).  Those who deceive us
have learned their trade from Satan.

The choice before us is clear: Do we allow God to mold us, or Satan?
God is trustworthy, faithful and true.  Satan is ... well, you know
the rest of that story.

Timothy D. Hall

How to be an honorable man

 

In the matter of giving money to needy, first-century saints, Paul makes the statement, "For we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Cor. 8:21). Every child of God needs the same desire to be and do what is honorable in the sight of men. Often times, we do not stop to ask if the words we say, the information we share, the efforts we make, the ambitions we possess, or the actions we take are honorable. Yet, intentions and motivations matter.

In fact, it is a matter of the heart. Paul said to think on honorable things (Phil. 4:8). This word means "worthy of respect and honor, noble, dignified, and serious" and is used of men who would be elders (1 Tim. 3:8), aged men (Ti. 2:2), Christian women (1 Tim. 3:11), and used by Josephus and Hermes to describe people of the highest quality (BDAG 919). Inherent in the word is the idea of trustworthiness, being aboveboard, and not possessed of an ugly, hidden agenda. It describes one who is exactly what he seems, and what he seems is righteous. What a fragile quality, one so easily spoiled by indiscretion and intemperance! Each of us needs to ask, concerning our thoughts, words, and deeds, "Is it honorable?"

 

The church is often hurt by those whose plans and motives are less than honorable. It is important that our agenda never be selfish or our intent malicious. Such vices as gossip, hypercriticism, greed, envy, railing, bitterness, and jealousy are many times driven by dishonorableness. Cloaking one's true feelings, in a hypocritical or two-faced manner, is not honorable. Flattery and false praise is not honorable. Leading people to believe something that is not true or the whole truth, to make ourselves look better or justified, is not honorable. The list is nearly endless.

It is important that we care about being honorable. It is important in business dealings, interacting with the opposite sex, and in promises made. It is also important in how we treat one another in the family of God. Like Paul, may we have regard for what is honorable in the eyes of God and men.

 

Neal Pollard
 

Sermon on God's calling people

When Americans answer the telephone, most of them simply say, "Hello."
I have heard that the response is a bit different in other countries.

- Germans answer a ringing phone with their last name.
- In Denmark, the Danes will answer with both their first and last names.
- Russians say, "I'm listening."
- The curious French say, "Hello, who's on the line?"
- Italians greet callers with "Ready" upon which the caller demands, "Who's
speaking?"
- The Spanish give the command, "Speak!"
- The Chinese proclaim, "Hey, hey, who are you?"

If you live in a different country, I'd be interested in knowing what
is your traditional way of answering a phone.

Just as there are different ways of answering phone calls, there are
also different ways to answering a call from God. God has called each of
us. We are "called to be saints" (Romans 1:7), "called into the fellowship
of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (I Cor. 1:9), called "according to his
own purpose and grace" (2 Timothy 1:9).

But those who are called by God have different ways of answering that
call. Moses answered God's call by saying, "Who am I?" (Exodus 3:11).
Gideon answered, "I am the least in my father's house." (Judges 6:15).
Zechariah answered, "How shall I know this?" (Luke 1:18). Isaiah answered,
"Here am I. Send me." (Isaiah 6:8).

How will you answer God's call in your life? It's a call that demands
much from you (God calls asking for nothing less than everything you have),
but it is a call that offers the presence of God in your life as you fulfill
your calling. Will you answer His call? Will you be the man or woman of
God that He has called you to be? Are you willing to accept the
responsibility that God has laid on you?

God is calling. How will you answer?


Alan Smith

I'm proud to be an American

One of my favorite all time songs is, "I'm proud to be an American." It's
become an especially popular song since the tragedy of 9/11. It seems though
that some folks have a problem with taking pride in their country. I don't
have that problem at all, I'm proud to be an American and I want everyone to
know it.

Those who have a problem with being "Proud of America," reason (with all
sincerity) that "pride goes before a fall" or that warnings about "the vain
pride of life" some how prohibits us from having pride in our country. I
don't think that is true at all.

When I was in grade school, junior high or high school, we were taught to
take pride in our county. The same thing was true in the church where I grew
up. We were taught to honor those who made us the great country we are. To
honor those who serve in our military to keep us free. My father was a WWII
Navy veteran and I later joined the Navy myself. As a young man I imagined
some day having a home of my own and flying the flag of the United States
proudly in my front yard.

Does being a Christian somehow prohibit us from taking pride in our country
or honoring those who made us great? No, I don't believe that for a minute.
I don't think it is outside of an acceptable application to remember the
words of Jesus in Matthew 22:21 "give to Caesar (governmental powers) what
belongs to Caesar, (governmental powers) and give to God what belongs to
God."

Paul tells us that God is ultimately in control of all that happens in our
countries. Romans 13:1 tells us, "Everyone must submit to governing
authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of
authority have been placed there by God." So, when we honor our nation and
show pride in it's accomplishments we need to remember ultimately the words
which are still in our Pledge of Allegiance that proclaim that we are still
"One Nation Under God." As much as some elements of our society try to deny
it and try to erase that phrase from our memory, it will never change the
fact that God is in control of our country and our world!

I'm proud to be an American as we celebrate our "Independence Day" on the
4th of July. I pray that wherever you are and in whatever country you live
that you honor our God along with your nation at all times.

Russ Lawson

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God, gay marriage and the Bible

As one of our United States legalizes same-sex marriage and one of our state's openly gay politicians announces his upcoming plans to become a parent with his partner, homosexuality makes an often-traveled trip to center stage in American politics and sociology. It brought to mind Paul's writing to the church at Rome. After discussing the sin of women committing homosexuality, Paul says that "men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (1:27). To read Edward Gibbons and others' writings on the rampant practice of homosexuality of an empire that eventually fell certainly calls to mind the ancient writer's axiom that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Prov. 14:34). The prophets repeatedly foretold the doom of heathen nations due to their immorality. Thus, nations pay the price for the immorality of its citizens. But, there is something more specific seemingly intended by Paul in the words afore-quoted.

 

What is the due penalty for the perversion described by Paul? Some have pondered whether or not, at least in modern times, AIDS is such a penalty. Yet, though F. LaGard Smith acknowledged it might be (Sodom's Second Coming 12), he also notes, "thousands of drug-using adults, as well as innocent children, are dying of the disease as well; and, of course, lesbians are hardly touched by it" (ibid.). Certainly, promiscuous sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual, exposes one to the risk of disease and sickness. However, Paul's focus seems on the spiritual consequences of practicing this sin. First, it is perversion. It changes God's natural design for sexuality and the family structure. Second, it is punishable. Paul says that those who practice this behavior subject themselves to a "due penalty." Contextually, that penalty extends to the eternal (32). Third, it is prurient. Paul's exact wording is "indecent acts," a word which in literal usage meant "deformed," "unattractive," and "unpresentable" (cf. 1 Cor. 12:23). So, acts modified by such a word present God's view concerning their immoral nature.

The bottom line is that there is a spiritual price to pay for sin, and this extends to homosexuality! It is a due penalty, exacted because the acts are indecent and perverse.

 

Mounce calls these verses the clearest New Testament teaching on homosexuality, adding that Paul herein describes it "'shameful,' 'unnatural,' 'indecent,' and as a 'perversion.' By contrast, the Greco-Roman society of Paul's day tolerated homosexuality with considerable ease. Among some advocates it was viewed as superior to heterosexuality. Barclay notes that "fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors were homosexuals" (Vol 27: Romans 82). No matter how accepting of sin a society is, God's immutable law of sowing and reaping will come to fruition. May we respect that and revere Him.

Neal Pollard

 

Sermon outline on David's adultery with Batsheba

 

Although God declared of David, "I have found a man after my heart, who shall do all my will," inspiration records the tragic and hypocritical conduct of that great king who served as a type of our Lord. "At the time when kings go forth to battle…David tarried still at Jerusalem" (2 Kings 11:1). Because of his neglect of kingly responsibilities the door was opened for temptation, leading to sin, which in turn produced all manner of sorrow in the life of David. Because of David's sin with Bathsheba, God brought upon this king, and his kingdom, endless strife and bloodshed. The sin could not go unpunished. David needed to be brought to the realization that he had committed a horrible thing in the sight of God. The Holy and Just God of heaven wanted to get across to David, with the greatest degree of intensity, exactly how offensive and grievous the nature of his sin. So, God sent Nathan unto David with this simple story: There were two men in one city; one was rich, the other poor. The rich man had an abundance of flocks, but the poor man had only one little ewe lamb. This poor man had brought up the lamb, feeding and nourishing it. The lamb was very close to the family, even a part of the family. In fact, this little lamb was more like a beloved pet than a common livestock on the farm. One day there came a traveler through this small town. He visited the rich man, and wanting to be hospitable, the rich man desired to offer him some food, but he did not want to kill any of his own flock. And so, instead, the rich man took the poor man's single lamb, killed it, and dressed it for the stranger. Within this story is manifested a degree of selfishness that is a reproach to any man. There may be some sin-hardened soul who cannot see in this parable the unjust treatment of the poor man. Most men can quickly and easily grasp the selfish demeanor of this rich man, and the injustice perpetrated against the one who was poor. Fortunately, David had not reached the point in his trek away from God where common sense no longer prevailed. The king immediately saw in the story the selfish and sinful nature of the rich man, and consequently David's anger was kindled. The king decreed death to the man who had done this selfish thing. And then Nathan dropped the "bombshell!" "David," he said, "Thou art the man! YOU, in having taken Bathsheba, are guilty of the same crime of selfishness and injustice of which this rich man is guilty. YOU have taken that which did not belong to you! YOU have robbed another of that which was rightfully his." David immediately saw the application, and with a penitent heart declared, "I have sinned against the Lord." From this tragic account in the life of David we can learn some important truths relative to sin.

 

First, selfishness, like the love of money, is a root of all kinds of evil. More often than not it will lead to other sins deemed unimaginable when first the sin of selfishness took root and bore seed in the heart of its victim. In the case of David, his selfish desire for the gratification of the flesh led to deceit, denial, and disrespect for the life of another. David caused the husband of Bathsheba, Uriah, to get drunk in an effort to cover up his sin. When that did not work, he purposefully and with malice aforethought, arranged for the murder of Uriah. Selfishness will cause a man to worship the wrong 'god,' and/or worship the right God in the wrong way. Selfishness will cause a man to mistreat his fellow man, by overt actions against that man or by neglect of doing good toward another. Selfishness will allow a doctor to invade the womb of a mother and destroy the life of an innocent child, all in the name of the "rights of the mother." Selfishness cries out for "my rights," with little or no respect for what God might have to say on the matter.

 

Second, any sin against our fellow man is, in fact, a sin against God. David realized this and stated such in Psalms 51:4: "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight." Any mistreatment of our fellow man is a direct slap in the face of God. Joseph was another good and godly man who recognized the full extent of sin. Unlike David, however, he took the steps to avoid a sin with Potiphar's wife and fled the scene before sin had time to take root.

Third, sin blinds. David could not possibly have foreseen the extent of his wrong doing so long as he was caught up in sin. He was blind to the nature of sin, the guilt of his sin, or the fruit that his sin would bear. The Hebrews writer warns us about the deceitfulness of sin: "But exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called Today; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13). Perhaps we would be wise to pray for more Nathans who will shake us out of our spiritual blindness with the blunt affirmation, "Thou art the man."

 

Fourth, punishment follows sin as sure as night follows day. Because of David's sin, his own family would fight for his kingdom, and David would rule over a kingdom as a man of war rather than a king of peace. When we sin, punishment follows. Sometimes punishment is quickly forthcoming; sometimes it is delayed. But whether now, or in the hereafter, it is certain. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life" (Gal. 6:7-8).


Sometimes I wonder – if Nathan were alive today, and God still confronted us with our sins by the prophets, as He did in the days of old – how many of us might he point a finger at and declare, "Thou art the man!"? Yes, I wonder…..


by Tom Wacaster

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

History U.S. Army Rangers

 

 

 

One of the most legendary fighting forces in military history is the U.S. Army Rangers, the elite fighters of that branch of the armed forces. Their fame and lore is derived from many true stories of valor and bravery. The modern Rangers began service in World War II, though their heritage is traced back to the early 17th Century.

 

In World War II, Darby's Battalion infiltrated the German lines in Sicily and wiped out nearly all of a "German parachute regiment during close in, night, bayonet and hand-to-hand fighting" (Ranger Handbook, ii). Two other Ranger battalions were in action on D-Day, landing at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, and engaged in bitter fighting that allowed the allies to breakthrough and drive inland from the beaches they invaded. There, their motto was formed, that "Rangers lead the way." "Merrill's Marauders," as other Ranger units serving in the Pacific Theatre were known, were volunteers of "a high state of physical ruggedness and stamina" who were to come from jungle-trained and tested units (ibid.).

The official 75th Ranger regiment website speaks of their many attributes, like physical strength, intelligence, toughness, courage, and discipline. They state, "Rangers are self-starters, adventurers, and hard chargers" (www.goarmy.com). They are model soldiers who have it engrained in them to never quit. They are soldiers of personal excellence and character, on and off duty.

 

While these soldiers are among the most elite to have ever fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy, there is another group of soldiers whose mission is greater, whose character must be more outstanding, and whose potential peril outweighs all others. They are the soldiers about whom Paul speaks in Ephesians six. They fight "against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (6:12). This formidable enemy is led by none other than a devil whose schemes (6:11) have eternally defeated the majority of mankind in human history to have ever faced him. Defeating him and his forces requires divinely designed and issued armor (6:10, 13-17). Souls are in the balance, and the Lord needs us to rescue them. Eternity is what is at stake. How we live and conduct ourselves in this world spells the difference in our success and failure. Romans 12:2 urges Christians not to be conformed but be transformed. Are we being led by the world, or are we spiritually those "who lead the way"? The Lord needs nothing from us that exceeds this!

 

--Neal Pollard

 

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem

 

    A near unthinkable situation existed in Jerusalem. The city had turned its back on Truth. God raised up Jeremiah to warn the people to "repent or perish."  The people paid no attention to the preaching. God tells Jeremiah He will destroy the city. Jeremiah pleads with God, and God tells Jeremiah, "Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem…If you can find a man who executes judgment, and who seeks the truth, I will pardon the city" (Jeremiah 5:1). 

            Now we don't want to get the wrong picture here of Jerusalem. The men were very *religious* and even said, "As the Lord lives."  Yet, God said they "swear falsely."  (Jeremiah 5:2).  There was an abundance of men in the city, but none possessed the qualities of godliness that is according to God's truth.  Real men, according to God's definition, were, and are, in short supply.

            To keep our homes from crumbling, we need godly men; to confront the dangers facing the church, we need godly men; and, to confront all the corruption and moral degradation that's destroying our nation, we need godly men.

            Only one righteous man could have saved Jerusalem, but no such man could be found. Ten righteous men would have saved Sodom and three other cities, but they could not be found.

            Our own society has been infected by men with moral rottenness. We accept lying, cheating, and stealing as acceptable tactics, not to mention abortion, living together outside of marriage, same sex marriages, etc.  And, like an acid, this moral contagion is eating away at the church. More and more we are allowing the world to set the standards of right and wrong. Can there be anything more hideous to our Heavenly Father than ungodly men who consider themselves to be in His church?!

            God wants men with faith like Moses, "who chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:24-25).  God wants men who obey like Abraham, "who when God told him to go he went not even knowing where he was going. He left everything behind, and went" (Hebrews 11:8).  God needs men who pray like Daniel, who prayed three times a day even though it was a threat to his life (Daniel 6:10).

            God explained to the prophet Ezekiel, "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it;  but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads." (Ezekiel 22:29-31).

            God is still looking for men today whose hearts are turned completely toward Him (2Chronicles 16:9).  Are you that kind of man? If not, you should be.  That's the kind of man your wife needs; it's the kind of father your children needs; and it's the kind of man the church needs!

                                                                                                                                                            Toby Miller

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ten Reasons to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

By Mike McManus

 

            The New York Legislature is close to voting for same-sex marriage. When my home state of Maryland considered legalizing "same-sex marriage," as President of Marriage Savers, I testified against it and wrote a letter to legislators detailing ten reasons to oppose it:

 

1.      Gays are not interested in marriage. Massachusetts was the first state to adopt gay

marriage in 2004.  However, there've been only 12,000 same-sex unions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4% of men are gay and 1% of women are lesbian. Thus, of the state's 3.3 million males, there are 132,000 gay men, plus 33,000 lesbians.  Only 14% of the 165,000 have "married" and 86% chose not to do so. Clearly, most are not interested in marriage. 

2.      Why should the definition of marriage be changed when less than a tenth of 2% of the population wants to force that change?  In all 30 states that have added constitutional amendments limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman, traditional marriage has always been upheld by referenda, even in California, which voted for Obama over McCain by 24%.  

3.      Children need a mother and father.  The healthiest children are those reared by a married mother and father.  "Marriage is the union of a husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that can make new life and connect children in love to their mom and dad," says Maggie Gallagher, President of National Organization for Marriage.  

4.       Traditional marriage is exclusive; gay unions are not.  According to Dr. Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project, lifetime infidelity dropped in the 2000s to 16% for males and 10% for females. By contrast, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the number of male partners of a homosexual was four per month.  Is that a healthy environment in which to raise children?    Some argue that gay marriage would reduce promiscuity, but two-thirds report sex outside the marriage in the first year.

5.      States that passed same-sex marriage are rescinding them. After Maine's Legislature voted for same-sex marriage in 2009, Maine voters repealed the law.  Subsequently, two dozen state legislators who voted for it were defeated in 2010.

6.      Homosexual men are 4% of the population but account for half of all new HIV infections and 85% of syphilis cases. According to the CDC, men having sex with men (MSM) account for 48% of the one million people living with HIV, (532,000), 53% of new HIV infections (28,700). 

7.      HIV infections are increasing only in gay men, while decreasing among heterosexuals and drug users. MSM are the only risk group in the U.S. in which new HIV infections have been increasing since the early 1990s.

8.      Homosexual men are banned from donating blood due to the likelihood they will transmit HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.  A lifetime ban has been imposed by all collectors of blood on gay men to protect America's blood supply.

9.      Gay sex is a choice, and one with taxpayer consequences.  Several Marylanders testifying against same-sex marriage spent years in the gay lifestyle, but changed to a heterosexual orientation and have been happily married for years.  If same-sex marriage is legalized, more people will be lured into this unhealthy lifestyle.  A 20-year-old gay has a 50% chance of becoming HIV positive.  Many gays will seek Medicaid to cover costs of deteriorating health.  It is not in the interest of taxpayers to induce more people into this destructive, costly lifestyle.

10.   Gay men live 20 years shorter lives than heterosexuals, according to the only epidemiological study to date.  A tenth of sexually active teens are experimenting with same-sex unions, reports a New York City study, published in the journal Pediatrics.    Why encourage more teens to experiment with this destructive life style?

In summary, unlike heterosexual marriage in which fidelity is the norm for four out of five couples, promiscuity is the norm for homosexuals, even those in committed relationships.  Only a tenth of gays marry if given the legal opportunity to do so.  Most are not interested in marrying .

            If they aren't interested, why force a change in the definition of marriage to benefit a tenth of 2% of the population?  It will only encourage more sexual experimentation among young people with tragic consequences.  They will live 20 years shorter lives.

            For children to thrive, they need to grow up in homes with a married mother and father.  In his 1828 American Dictionary, Noah Webster defined marriage as the "act of uniting a man and a woman for life," because marriage "was instituted …for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children."

 

 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Anthony Weiner scandal

 

I'm sure that, like me, you're tired of all the news media's coverage of Anthony Weiner and his unsavory peccadillos, and not only him, but a seemingly endless number of people, in what we call "high places," being caught, figuratively (and literally), with their pants down.

And we wonder, "Why is this?" What has brought this kind of behavior about? What's causing people to act this way? And, as already mentioned, so many of them lately?

Well, you've probably already guessed that I have an opinion as to "Why" and I'm going to share it with you. I've discussed this reasoning with you in the past, but it's been some time ago and, in light of all the recent news, "ad nauseam," I'm going to re-offer it for you to consider. See if you don't agree with me.

I'd like to first offer a "caveat" and say that I don't make any claims to being an expert in this field, but as far as opinions go, I feel that mine is just as valid as any of the newscasters and pundits offering theirs in their respective media outlets.

Simply stated, in my opinion we've failed in our present society to maintain a set of standards by which people should be expected to live up to. When I say that we've "failed to maintain" our standards, I'm saying that we have, over the course of the last 50 years or so, changed society's standards to fit however it is that we like to act. To behave. Allow me to amplify a bit further on "standards" for a moment.

In Washington DC there exists the National Bureau of Standards. The department of government maintains standards of weights and measures for this country. There is a standard for one foot in length, one yard etc., and other measures of length. Also, a standard is there for units of weight and units of capacity. Here's a question for you: Why is it necessary for this department to exist?

In order to adequately answer that question I think we need to define the meaning of the word "standard." The dictionary gives us this: "(1) something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison. (2) Anything as a rule or a principle that is used as a basis for judgment. (3) A normal requirement of quality. (Now watch this last one) (4) Standards, morals, ethics, habits, etc. established by authority, custom or an individual as acceptable."

It's in the area of #4 that we run into our problem. It's my humble opinion that we, as a nation in general, have gone from operating by standards found in the Bible to operating by standards established by men. Having changed the basis of our standards doesn't it stand to reason that a result would be seen in our morals, ethics, customs & habits? That they would become "acceptable" behavior?

You see, a "standard" is supposed to be something that we measure up to. Something that we can lay alongside for a comparison. The very ideal of a "standard" is to have an unchanging basis so we can tell whether our actions, our rulers and yardsticks, our gas pumps, our grocery store scales, etc. are what they are supposed to be when compared to the basis.

In furtherance of that ideal, if whatever we're measuring doesn't fit the standard, the correction is supposed to lie with us. The method is NOT to make the comparison, look at the difference and then CHANGE THE STANDARD to fit us. But, in reiteration, it's my opinion that we've done exactly that - changed the standard rather than ourselves.

Think about it for a moment. Just about every occupation, even the military, has rearranged (a polite word) their standards and you might be wondering why this has occurred. Simply stated, so that no segment of our society will be offended or left out by not meeting the set standards.

Is it therefore any wonder that we see the types of behavior we've been witnessing these last few years? Any wonder why the "acceptability" of perverse or criminal behavior has broadened like it has.? Why behavior that would have never been openly seen a few years ago is now the accepted norm? The sad answer to those "thought questions" is that we've constantly changed our standards to fit our changing mores and behavior.

A short illustrative story and then we'll close our thoughts for today. Back during the great Civil War, during the heavy fighting of one of the battles, a Confederate soldier was assigned to carry the "colors." The "Standard" or the flag, if you will. The reason for someone "posting the colors" is so that the other soldiers know where to go, where they are supposed to be.

Our young "standard bearer" made his way through the fighting, to a position out in front of the rest of his unit. He planted the "colors" and when he looked around, he was the only one out there. One of his comrades yelled out, "Bring the colors back down nearer the troops. The fighting is too heavy, we can't come up any higher."

The young soldier bearing the "Standards" replied, "The flag is firmly planted. Tell the troops to move up to the flag."

To tie our thoughts to a spiritual lesson today, let me just do it this way. In Luke 13:23 the apostles asked Jesus a question that I'm going use to wrap up this lesson. They asked Him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" This question and Jesus's subsequent reply indicates that many will not be. Will be lost.

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus had told them about the "broad way" and the "narrow way" and if you think about it, the "narrow way/gate" is the standard by which the saved will be measured. Look at what He said in answer to their question: "strive to enter through the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Luke 13:23-24 (ESV)

What was done here was this: the standard was set. It was not changed, even though Christ knew that "many" would not meet it and would be eternally lost. What did not happen was this: He did not gather a panel of apostles/disciples together and seek their input as to the setting of standards for entry into heaven.

I don't know about you, but I for one, feel comforted by the fact that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." That the "standards" for salvation was set by Him and was not, nor will be, changed so that a lot of people will not be "offended or left out."

There's two ways for standards and people to be joined. Either we lower the standards to fit the people's level, or we bring the people up to fit the standards. Unfortunately, society as taken the first option and I believe this to be the reason for most of the aberrant behavior we're witnessing lately.

As we saw in Luke 13, the "standards" are firmly set in place. Applying the Confederate soldier's admonition, let's move up to where they are.

Ron Covey

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rescatar a los que perecen

a) Esta mañana queremos mirar a este himno en tres categorías.
b) que es descrito por las palabras de este himno?
c) ¿Qué significa esta canción decir que estamos tratando de hacer?
d) Finalmente, ¿cómo estamos tratando de lograr lo que cantan?
2) El autor de esta canción utiliza las palabras "pierden" y "morir".
3) Cada persona en esta sala se encuentra en estado de descomposición.
4) 2 Cor. 04:16 - LEA
5) 19:26 Job dice el cuerpo del hombre se destruye.
6) Heb. 9:27 dice que el hombre tiene una cita con la muerte.
7) No sólo estamos en un estado de descomposición, que son, al cantar "caído".
8) El hombre es un "caído" criatura.
a) Ef. 2:01 dice que el hombre está "muerto" debido a "delitos y pecados."
b) En caso de que "decimos que no tenemos pecado, nos engañamos y la verdad no está en nosotros" (1 Jn. 1:8).
9) Las palabras de nuestra canción también dicen que el hombre ha sido "aplastados por el tentador".
10) Nuestro cuerpo físico no sólo se lleva a cabo, nuestro espíritu eterno ha sido mancillada por el pecado.
11) Cada persona que se va desgastando en un sentido físico. Los responsables por sus pecados también perecen en un sentido espiritual.

PORQUE ESTÁN MURIENDO y porque el pecado afecta a TODOS los que son responsables de sus acciones, cantar acerca de "rescate" de nuestro prójimo.

1) Nuestra canción también lo describe como "el cuidado de los moribundos".
2) Cuando cantamos esta canción decimos "levantar a los caídos."
3) Jesús pudo haber venido a la tierra y hacer varias cosas maravillosas.
a) Se podría haber terminado hambre en el mundo.
b) Podría haber terminado la opresión romana para el pueblo judío.
4) Lc. 19:10 - LEA
5) Jesús reconoció que la gente está "perdido".
6) Jesús creía en "el rescate de los que perecen."
7) Lc. 19:05, dice el Señor vio a un hombre en un árbol y le dijo que bajara de ese lugar.
8) Nuestro deber es "decirles de Jesús, el poderoso para salvar."
9) Si miramos hacia atrás en la semana que acaba de terminar, ¿A cuántas personas nos encontramos con que están "muriendo"?

A algunos les gustaría tirar el LIFELINE PERO NO ESTÁ SEGURO DE CÓMO HACERLO.

1) Una de las palabras clave en nuestra canción es "arrebatar".
2) Otra palabra importante en nuestra canción es "compasión".
3) Junto con la pena que es la palabra "llorar" - ". Llorar por el que yerra"
4) Algunos de los "extraviados" los que cantan acerca de ellos han caído los cristianos.
5) El pueblo de Dios quiere "la vida a los caídos."
6) Estas cosas requieren a menudo "paciencia", otra palabra clave en nuestro himno.
7) Se puede rescatar a los que perecen por lo que las personas tengan una Biblia.
8) Podemos hacerles saber que estaría encantado de hablar con ellos acerca de la Biblia.
9) Podemos mano de un programa de lectura de la Biblia.
10) Se les puede dar un folleto sobre cómo estudiar la Biblia o por qué el Antiguo Testamento es diferente de lo nuevo.
11) Hemos CD libre de que la gente pueda tener la Biblia en su ordenador.
 

Hymn rescue the perishing

                                   

a)      This morning we want to look at this hymn under three headings.

b)      WHO is described by the words in this hymn?

c)      WHAT does this song say we are trying to do?

d)     Finally, HOW are we trying to accomplish what we sing?

2)      The writer of this song used the words "perishing" and "dying."

3)      Every single person in this room is in a state of decay.

4)      2 Cor. 4:16 – READ

5)      Job 19:26 says man's body is destroyed.

6)      Heb. 9:27 says man has an appointment with death. 

7)      We are not only in a state of decay, we are, as we sing "fallen."

8)      Man is a "fallen" creature.

a)      Eph. 2:1 says man is "dead" because of "trespasses and sins."

b)      If we "say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn. 1:8).

9)      The words of our song also say man has been "crushed by the tempter."

10)  Our physical bodies are not only wearing out, our eternal spirit has been sullied by sin.

11)  Every single person is perishing in a physical sense.  Those accountable for their sins are also perishing in a spiritual sense.

 

BECAUSE WE ARE DYING AND BECAUSE SIN AFFECTS ALL WHO ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS, WE SING ABOUT "RESCUING" OUR FELLOW-MAN.

 

1)      Our song also describes this as "care for the dying."

2)      When we sing this song we claim to "lift up the fallen."

3)      Jesus could have come to the earth and done several wonderful things.

a)      He could have ended world hunger.

b)      He could have terminated the Roman oppression for the Jewish people.

4)      Lk. 19:10 – READ

5)      Jesus recognized that people are "lost."

6)      Jesus believed in "rescuing the perishing."

7)      Lk. 19:5 says the Lord saw a man in a tree and he told him to come down from that place.

8)      Our duty is to "tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save."

9)      If we look back at the week that just ended, how many people did we meet who are "perishing"?

 

SOME WOULD LIKE TO THROW OUT THE LIFELINE BUT THEY ARE NOT SURE HOW TO DO IT.

 

1)      One of the key words in our song is "snatch."

2)      Another important word in our song is "pity."

3)      Along with pity there is the word "weep" – "weep over the erring one."

4)      Some of the "erring" ones we sing about are fallen Christians.

5)      God's people want to "life up the fallen."

6)      These things often require "patience," another key word in our hymn.

7)      We can rescue the perishing by making sure people have a Bible.

8)      We can let them know we would be glad to talk to them about the Bible.

9)      We can hand them a Bible reading schedule.

10)  We can give them a tract on how to study the Bible or why the Old Testament is different from the new.

11)  We have free CD's so people can have the Bible on their computer.

 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Metta World Peace

Last night sixty young men heard their names called in the 2011 NBA
Draft.  Each of these hopes to make a name for himself doing what he
loves best - playing basketball.  Some may turn out to be superstars;
others may not even make the roster of the team that drafted them.
But they have a shot at making their names household words.

One NBA player has made a name for himself in the wrong way.  Ron
Artest gained widespread attention a few years ago by charging into
the stands and fighting with a fan who was heckling him and his team.
Artest has respectable talent as a basketball player, but many of us
think of his habit of dying his hair strange colors when his name is
mentioned.

Soon there will officially be no basketball player named Ron Artest.
Papers have been filed to legally change his name to Metta World
Peace.  "Metta" is supposedly a word from the Sanskrit language that
means "friendliness" or "benevolence".  Perhaps Artest - er, Peace -
is trying hard to change his image.  A change in names just might be
the trick (though most regard the new name as bizarre).

Names in the Bible are often of great significance.  "Jacob" received
his name at birth, a word that means "supplanter".  That's not a
flattering name, but it pointed to the fact that he would push aside
his older twin brother for the coveted birthright.  Later in life,
though, God gave this man a new name.

"And [God] said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but
Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have
prevailed'" (Genesis 32:28).  Did this new name give Jacob a new view
of himself?  Very likely it did, for it was an assurance from God
Himself that he was a "prince with God" (the literal meaning of the
word "Israel").

Another change of names was prophesied by Isaiah almost 700 years
before the time of Christ: "The Gentiles shall see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory.  You shall be called by a new name, which
the mouth of the Lord will name" (Isaiah 62:2).  For a long time no
one really knew what this prophecy meant.  Who would receive that new
name?  What would it be?

The answer seems clear after reading the first chapters of the book of
Acts.  That book describes the rapid increase of those who followed
Jesus Christ.  Despite intense persecution, multitudes of people made
the decision to live the life Jesus modeled and taught.
Appropriately, these followers were usually identified as "disciples"
or "believers".

In Acts 11:26, a new name appears: "... And the disciples were first
called Christians in Antioch."  That name appears only twice more in
the New Testament (Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16).  But does anyone
doubt that it became the name by which all followers of Christ have
since been known?  In fact, that's what the word "Christian" means:
one who is "of Christ".

Perhaps the name was used by enemies of Christ as a form of derision.
But those who put their trust in God's Son pay no attention to such
taunts.  They are glad to take the name of the Savior as their own.  A
bride is happy to wear the name of her husband; Christians, as members
of Christ's church, are His bride (Ephesians 5:22-32).  We are thus
honored to be given this new name!


Timothy D. Hall

Thursday, June 23, 2011

David McCullough

 

Mike Ripperton passed along an excellent article out of the Wall Street Journal, an interview Brian Bolduc had with my favorite secular author, David McCullough. Mr. McCullough has long bemoaned the state of historical illiteracy in our society. That is, so many of our children are fed so much political correctness while receiving little to no education on important historical facts and their significance in the development of our nation. The latest release from the Department of Education's 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress estimates "only 12% of high school seniors have a firm grip on our nation's history." McCullough lists the culprits. One is a personnel problem, with history teachers often not in possession of a specific degree in history and not lovers of history themselves. As he put it, "You can't love something you don't know anymore than you can love someone you don't know." Another is a method problem, as history is often taught categorically rather than chronologically. Another is an agenda problem, where political correctness trumps historical accuracy. The last problem he specifies is a curriculum problem. In essence, the history books are boring! It is of no small concern to me how ignorant we are of our own national history! (cf. http://online.wsj.com, 6/18/11).

 

The spiritual parallel is striking, at least to me. The home is the frontline of defense and offense in the spiritual equipping of our children. Their knowledge, or lack thereof, is foremost the responsibility of the home. The church's Bible School program is to be a dependable supplement and reinforcement of the home's biblical education of its children. How are we doing? Are we giving our children what they need to function in today's world. Knowledge and application are both vital. As teachers, we need to know the Book. As we do, we will come to love it and the One it proclaims. We need to be wise when it comes to the methods we use, not relying solely on topical studies to the neglect of covering all the Bible's material. Certainly, we should avoid an eisegetical approach to scripture, reading into the Scripture what we already believe. Any agenda must be checked at the door when teaching God's Word, with an honest desire to glean from it God intended to say.

Biblical ignorance could not be more costly (Hos. 4:6)! Let us return to placing such a premium on knowing God's Word that we once again earn the reputation of being people of the book, those who know and cite "book, chapter, and verse." McCullough's reaction to historical ignorance was to simply say, "It's shocking." To fail to know the Bible is more than that. It's tragic! Let us be like the blessed man, whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night" (Ps. 1:2).  --Neal Pollard

 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Guidance for Prospective Missionaries

 

Some missionaries are very successful at finding supporting and sponsoring congregations, but probably most potential missionaries are lost to the mission field, giving up on their call because they do not approach congregations at the right time or in the best way.  Maybe they do not have funds to spend time seeking help.  Maybe they do not have the personal skills to raise funds.

Here are some suggestions to pass along to future missionaries:

    1.  Plan ahead.  Devise a strategy that includes one's current qualifications, experience(s) to date, a purpose statement, a time line, a budget estimate, and a commitment goal.

    2.  Solicit help only during the months of July-September.  Congregations having mission budgets frequently plan the following year's activity during October and November.  They must be influenced and convinced prior to their budget time.

    3.  Expect to be put off a year.  It takes time to become acquainted, placed in line for consideration, for a slot to open in an already filled budget, and for interest to jell.

    4.  Don't become discouraged.  Congregational cultivation may take several years.  Most active mission churches annually have dozens of requests to consider and limited amounts of funds to allocate.

    5. Be willing to compromise.  Where you want to go may not be where a church wants to support, but may have a work in which you can participate.

    6.  Support may not be obtained from one place, be willing to put together a package which includes partial support from several churches.

    7.  Do your homework:  most active churches have web sites including their mission efforts.  Some contain reports from the field where you can learn of returning missionaries.  Most have a phone number where you can contact some member of the mission committee.

    8.  Phone calls to mission committees are better than unread solicitation letters.  When interest is expressed, a follow-up letter will be welcomed, and more importantly, read.

    9.  Be willing to appear before the mission committee in person.  If invited, be prepared with something to hand out and something to show in a relatively short time.

  10.  Express appreciation for the opportunity to share your plans, be patient in receiving a response from your presentation, and pray the Lord's will be done by you and them. 

 

Then, there are two groups who regularly look for qualified missionaries to train and help:. http://www.greatcities.org/     http://www.mrnet.org/.  I recommend seekers contact either to learn both about churches willing to support, and locations needing workers.  Both use the team approach which appears to have the greatest success. 

 

Ernest Clevenger

Granny White church, Nashville, Tennessee

 

 

Hold your ground, even when the heat is on

Things I learned from a snowman:

~ It's okay if you're a little bottom heavy.

~ Hold your ground, even when the heat is on.

~ Wearing white is always appropriate.

~ Winter is the best of the four seasons.

~ It takes a few extra rolls to make a good midsection.

~ There's nothing better than a foul weather friend.

~ The key to life is to be a jolly, happy soul.

~ We're all made up of mostly water.

~ You know you've made it when they write a song about you.

~ Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize!

~ Don't get too much sun.

~ It's embarrassing when you can't look down and see your feet.

~ It's fun to hang out in your front yard.

~ Always put your best foot forward.

~ There's no stopping you once you're on a roll.

There's actually a few good pieces of advice in there, from a biblical
standpoint. I especially like the second item on the list: "Hold your
ground, even when the heat is on."

That could be used as a summary statement for Peter's first epistle, which
was written to Christians who were suffering persecution as a result of
their faith. Here is some of what Peter wrote to encourage them:

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him
glorify God in this matter....Therefore let those who suffer according to
the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful
Creator." (I Peter 4:16,19).

I urge you today to commit yourself to doing good no matter what the
opposition may be. And next time you see a snowman, be reminded of this
truth: "Hold your ground, even when the heat is on."

Alan Smith

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Katherine Lee Bates’ poem/song

My inspiration for today's editorial thoughts comes from two places which I'll try and combine here for some things I'd like you to consider. One of the "places" is my recent road trip across this country and back, and the second "place" is one of the most beautiful songs/poems ever penned.

First, let's look at the trip. I've written before about a lot of the things pertaining to the annual Run For The Wall in Washington DC. Things such as the patriotic events we encounter in the various towns and cities we pass through as we journey. What I haven't really written about though, is my thoughts on the country itself that we see on our route. That's what I'd like to try and picture for you today.

On May the 18th, 2011, a cold, drizzly sort of day, myself and about 300 motorcycle riders departed Ontario, California in route to our nation's capital, a structured journey of 10 days duration. At the very onset of the trip, while passing through the Cajon Pass climbing out of the valley basin, all of a sudden the gray clouds parted and sunlight poured down through on us for a short period of time. Enough that I could see my wife and friends waving American flags and bidding us Godspeed on our journey. It was the first time on this trip tears came to eyes. It wouldn't be the last.

We passed on to the Mohave Desert of Southern California on a rare wind-free day with moderate temperatures. We crossed the Colorado River at Needles, Ca. and began the climb up the mountains to Williams, Az. Our moderate temperatures became 6" of snow before we got there. Still, the snow-covered mountains were beautiful. Me, I just cranked the heater up a tad in my truck and motored on.

In Gallup, New Mexico another storm caught up with us and pelted us with hail for a few moments. Even through that, the storm clouds were awesome. The mountains of Northern New Mexico were found in their usual state - majestic and beautiful. Even Eastern Colorado, with it's seemingly endless prairies and fields was great to travel through this year.

Those of you who have ever traveled I-70 know how flat, and yet interesting, the Western part of Kansas is until you finally get to some trees in the Eastern portion of the state. Then we're passing through the rolling green hills of Missouri until we cross the mighty Mississippi River at St. Louis. Southern Illinois and Indiana are just about the greenest green farmland you'll ever see.

Kentucky, with it's "bluegrass" looks awfully green to me. It's sort of like Illinois and Indiana on green steroids. Then we come to West Virginia where the roads are going up and down and around anywhere in the state. It was here that we again encountered God blessing the earth with rain and hail. It was the worst hail storm I've ever been "blessed with" and, even though you worried about damage, it was still awe-inspiring to witness. The last day took us through the rolling, green hills of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and into Washington DC, the capital of our nation and all of its sights and wonders.

Having traveled the general route and area that Katherine Lee Bates traveled back in 1893, in a very small way, I can relate to her thoughts on the nature of our country as she passed through and viewed it's varied scenes and vistas. I just wish I could express my thoughts as well as she did when she sat down in her hotel room in Denver, Colorado and penned the words to a poem she entitled "O Beautiful For Spacious Skies." As we now know, it was later put to music and renamed - "America The Beautiful." I can only attest to the truth of the title of that poem/song and say - it truly is beautiful.

In just a moment I'll provide you with the words of this song, but first, I'd like to just mention a couple of things that relate to it. My trip to DC was in remembrance of those of our military who were either Killed In Action or were still Missing In Action from recent wars. The Civil War had not been over very long before Miss Bates wrote her poem and I'd like to think the third verse significant to that war and all wars since fought for our freedoms.

The second verse seems to me to almost be a prayer recognizing that our nation's citizens need to be vigilant in controlling themselves and in so doing, keeping America great. The words "Thy liberty in law" is speaking of God's Law. Wouldn't it be a far better country if we all controlled ourselves according to His Law? Now, let's read together the words of Katherine Lee Bates' most beautiful poem/song.

        O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain,

        For purple mountain majesties, Above the fruited plain!

        America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

        And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!

      

        O beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern, impassioned stress

        A thoroughfare for freedom beat, Across the wilderness!

        America! America! God mend thine every flaw,

        Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!

       

        O beautiful for heroes proved, In liberating strife,

        Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!

        America! America! My God thy gold refine,

        Till all success be nobleness, And every gain divine!

 

        O beautiful for patriot dream, That sees beyond the years,

        Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears!

        America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

        And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!

In closing, based upon my life of 70 years, my study of the Bible and my travels throughout much of this country, I totally believe that if there is one nation that God has shed His grace on, it's America. That's why it's beyond any form of reasoning in my mind, that our country seems bent on removing God from the soul of our nation. I think that we should all pray that He continues to "shed His grace" on us.

Ron Covey

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