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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stories about 911

On April 4 a Maryland woman dialed 911 when her husband experienced breathing
problems.  She was transferred to a dispatcher whose job was to send an
ambulance to their home.

But when she was transferred, all she heard was silence.  Then she heard the
sound of someone snoring.  Her repeated "Hello? Hello?" failed to rouse the
sleepy dispatcher, and the original 911 operator came back on the line.  Hearing
the snoring, he asked the woman if that was her husband who was making the
sounds.

For six minutes the snoring continued, even while the woman announced that her
husband was turning blue.  Finally he awoke, took down their address and called
for an ambulance to rush to their aid.  As it turns out, the husband is now
doing well and is back home.

In one sense it's understandable why this dispatcher was snoozing; he was in his
18th hour of a 24-hour shift.  But few would say that makes everything OK; when
we need help, we sometimes need it immediately.  Those who field emergency calls
for help need to somehow stay awake.

Nearly three millennia ago Elijah, a prophet of God, challenged the prophets of
the so-called god Baal to a duel.  All they had to do to prove that Baal was
powerful was to have him send fire from above and consume the sacrifice that had
been laid on an altar.  If Baal truly was a god, that should be no problem at
all.

The cries of these prophets went unheeded, though.  No fire consumed their
sacrifice.  After a time Elijah began to mock them: "Cry aloud, for he is a god;
either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is
sleeping and must be awakened" (1 Kings 18:27).  But no fire ever came.  Baal
must have been a sound sleeper!  (Baal, of course, was no god at all.)

Elijah had no such problem.  Even after dousing the sacrifice with buckets of
water, God sent fire from heaven to consume the offering, along with the water,
the rocks and the dust (1 Kings 18:36-38).  No one mocked God that day.  He was
not snoozing, but responded to Elijah's cry for help.

Psalm 121 is a beautiful statement of God's readiness to come to His people's
aid: "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow
your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps
Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:2-4).

Sometimes we call upon God for help; sometimes we need that help urgently.  One
thing we can be assured of is that God won't be snoring on the other end.  A
profound statement on the nature of God is one that God made about Himself: "...
I am God, and not man" (Hosea 11:9).  We must never think that God is like us.
We slumber through others' crises; God won't.

In God we trust because of assurances like Psalm 18:3: "I will call upon the
Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies."  He is
waiting for us to call.

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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Near the Summit

Had he chosen to continue climbing, Ben-Yehuda (age 24) would have been the
youngest Israeli ever to make it to the summit of Mt. Everest. Instead, he
chose to help his friend....

Nadav Ben-Yehuda was maneuvering through the last 1,000 meters from Mount
Everest's Camp IV to its summit on May 19 when he saw a body sprawled
motionlessly on the icy ridges. He was shocked to find that it was his
friend from the base camp,

Aydin Irmak, a 46-year-old American of Turkish origin. Even though he was
only 250 meters from reaching the world's highest peak, Ben-Yehuda said his
decision to help his friend was "automatic."

Ben-Yehuda told The Associated Press that Irmak "was in a dire state and
without basic equipment." Irmak later revealed that on his return from the
summit, he had collapsed in the extreme conditions, without an oxygen
supply, a flashlight and a backpack.
Ben-Yehuda lifted Irmak over his shoulders and carried his friend alongside
his Sherpa guide for about 8 hours back down to Camp IV. Both Ben-Yehuda
and Irmak suffered burns on their faces from the negative 40-degree
Fahrenheit temperatures. But, they are both alive!

Despite growing tensions between their native countries of Israel and
Turkey, Ben-Yehuda and Irmak continue to think of one another as friends,
even brothers.

"I believe I almost died," said Irmak. "Nadav saved my life." *

This meaningful account of rescue and relationship illustrates another
demonstration of the same that can have direct application in our own lives.

When WE were lost on the slopes of sin, unable to save ourselves, and
destined to die, Jesus came from the Summit of all summits - heaven itself -
to save us (see Phil 2:5-8).

Even though our sins made us enemies with God, Jesus rescued us. In order
to save us, Jesus had to give His own life as payment for our sins. "For
when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the
ungodly. . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we
were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6,8).

In order to be saved and have eternal life, we must accept Jesus' offer of
salvation. Jesus will save those who will place their faith and trust in
Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31),
confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into
Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

Because of our sins, we can never reach the Summit (heaven) on our own. But
because of His great love for us, Jesus left the Summit to save us so that
one day, because of what He has done for us, WE may enter the eternal Summit
of life and joy in heaven!
Won't YOU accept His offer?

David A. Sargent

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Bible study link

A new link to promote online Bible commentaries has been posted at the *big church directory* site - http://www.bigchurchdirectory.com/httpwwwabiblecommentarycom.html.  This is one more reminder that online Bible commentaries are FREE at www.abiblecommentary.com!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gary Connery

"Surviving The Fall"

Let me say at the outset - don't try this at home! But when I read the
headline
about the 42-year-old man diving 2,400 feet out of a helicopter without a
parachute, I had to read more.

It happened yesterday in England when stuntman Gary Connery (no known
relationship to Sean) staged the feat. Thousands were on hand to watch from
a
distance as Connery dropped from the helicopter half a mile above the earth.
Normally a person could not hope to survive a fall from that distance, or
even a
tenth of that distance.

Enabling Connery to pull off the feat without a serious injury were two
factors:
First, he wore a suit that enabled him to glide, rather than free-fall. If
you've ever seen a flying squirrel leap out of a tree, that's what the
stuntman
looked like. By the time he hit the ground he was descending at a rate of
only
15 miles per hour.

The second factor is that he didn't actually hit the ground. He landed on a
carefully arranged stack of 18,600 cardboard boxes. Empty boxes, I might
add,
meaning that the stack formed an effective cushion to break his fall.

Connery's feat is impressive; no doubt about that. But the only way he
could
have survived such a fall involved extraordinary means.

Satan once tried to get Jesus to perform a similar death-defying feat.
Standing
atop the pinnacle of the temple, Satan urged the Son of God to "throw
Yourself
down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and
'In
their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a
stone'"
(Matthew 4:6). In one respect Satan was right: Had Jesus given in to the
temptation, residents of Jerusalem would have been talking for days about
this
amazing Man.

But there was a greater Fall Jesus had in mind, and that led Him to reject
the
devil's suggestion. Jesus came to earth on a mission: "For the Son of Man
has
come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Mankind had
fallen
because of sin, and without the extraordinary measures taken by Jesus, none
of
us could survive this most lethal of all falls.

In John's gospel we learn of a woman who had been caught in the act of
adultery
(where, by the way, was the man?). Under the Law of Moses, she could have
been
stoned. Jesus, though, saw through the hypocrisy of her accusers, and
eventually they were exposed and all slinked away shamefully. Jesus turned
to
the woman: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (John 8:11). Her
physical life had been saved. More importantly, her soul was now on course
to
find eternal salvation.

Jesus then spoke these words: "I am the light of the world. He who follows
Me
shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).
Walking in
that light, none of us need stumble again.

Without Christ we are all in a state of free-fall. Unless we turn to the
Savior
and accept the extraordinary measures He put in place, we have no hope of
surviving the Fall. While there is time, let us go to Him!

Timothy D. Hall

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act

 
                         "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a

                          revolutionary act." George Orwell, in his book "1984"

That quote by the author, George Orwell, from his famous novel "1984", coupled with a lot of recent news events and the political season we're presently infected with caused me to, once again, think about, and thus opine on, TRUTH. Hopefully, these thoughts will be presented in an understandable manner and will be worth your consideration.

A few years ago there was a TV show about a lawyer who was very successful at winning cases for his clients. In one episode he was explaining his philosophy for his trial preparation and one of his stated guidelines was: "Truth is relative. Pick one that works."

I ask you, is that not a great example of a phenomenon that we are seeing all to frequently anymore? In my humble opinion, this seems to be the philosophy behind the things told to us by politicians, the news media and people involved in those recent news events I mentioned earlier. I'll leave it up to you to pick the event. There's plenty of them out there to choose from, believe me.

Whether they're talking about war, or about politics in general, doesn't it seem that "truth is relative" to whatever fits the occasion? Whatever benefits them? And, in the area of news events, that seems to be the same principle employed by the various sides involved in the controversy. IE: Whatever benefits or pushes public opinion, and/or sympathy, to their side of the matter.

I mentioned the word "war" in the above paragraph (and you can watch for it to crop up again later in our editorial) but haven't we heard so many contradicting news stories (pick any recent war) that it's hard to know what to believe? A former Governor of California, Hiram Johnson, once said, "The first casualty when war comes is truth." Perhaps he wasn't wrong when he said that.

Yes, I believe that man puts out a lot of "truths" that he feels "relative" to whatever occasion he's concerned with. And "untruth" has been around ever since the Garden of Eden when Satan told Eve his "relative" version of "truth" and it certainly did not benefit her, or mankind, since then. It cost her and Adam their home in paradise.

Another phrase that we hear a lot is that we've got to "level the playing field." That seems to be a current political catchphrase we're hearing more and more of. Think about what's being inferred here by this "leveling." It means the rules (the truth) has to be altered or changed in order to benefit people percentage-wise.

Here again, the "truth" has to be made "relative" to the occasion, doesn't it? There can't be any hard and fast "truths" you know, because some might be excluded if there are. So, we have to make things "relative" and thereby "level the playing field."

The problem with man's philosophy regarding "truth" being "relative" is that it carries over from the secular world into the religious world. It induces man into believing that he can make God's Truth "relative." That he can alter God's rules to fit man's way of thinking and thereby make it easier for more people to benefit by the rules change. "Truth" then becomes "relative."

See, if man doesn't "level the playing field," spiritually-speaking, then many are going to be excluded from God's blessings because of having not followed His Truth. People don't want to be told they're wrong if they don't follow God's rules. I'm reminded of something said by the apostle Paul to the Galatians when he asked them "Have I now become your enemy because I'm telling you the truth?" (4:18)

When you think about all of the "relative truths" we're bombarded by on all sides today, the philosophy of "picking the one that works" depending on the situation, doesn't what Paul said relate directly to the quote by Orwell? That someone telling "The Truth" is now performing a "revolutionary act"?

I told you that we'd see the word "war" again before this editorial concluded and now is as good a time as any to get back to that thought. In John 18, verses 37 & 38 we find something I found to be very interesting and I'll explain my interest here. Jesus is on trial before Pilate and in verse 37 Pilate asks Jesus if he was a king. In answering that question, Jesus tells him that the reason ("cause") he came into the world was to "bear witness unto the truth." IE: He came to bring The Truth.

Then in verse 38 we see Pilate ask that oft-sermonized question: "What is truth?" Now, normally, this is where the teacher/preacher goes on into their lesson on teaching about "truth." I'd like you to notice something not usually mentioned. After asking this great question, he didn't even wait for the answer - he walked away.

It seems to me that his question was asked more in a mocking sense, or in jest rather than actually wanting an answer. I repeat myself - he apparently didn't want to know what the truth was because he just walked away. Do you think that a lot of people in this world are just like Pilate in that they just walk away from The Truth. That they really don't want to know it? I do.

I'm going to close our thoughts today by reciting a couple of verses from a poem written by James Russell Lowell entitled: The Present Crisis, a poem written just prior to the Civil War and inspired by the events leading up to it.

The following two verses of the poem were selected by me, in that I felt them fitting to our thoughts here today.

              Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,

              In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;

              Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,

              Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,

              And the choice goes by forever 'twist that darkness and that light.

              Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record,

              One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;

              Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne, -

              Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,

              Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

Never forget, our war with Satan began in the Garden of Eden and is still going strong. He is still attacking the Truth as much now as he did then and sees it as a victory when he can convince men that "truth is relative."

Ron Covey

 

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to save a marriage from divorce

There is nothing quite like hiking up a Colorado mountain and seeing the "payoff."  There can be meadows and easy, level stretches, but there are also steep uphill strains and downhill gallops that are physically and mentally challenging.  At times, you even have to stop to get a breather.  But, any complaints and aggravation melts away from that mountaintop view.  Whether the Crags with the Vaughts, Bergen Peak and Bierstadt Lake Trail with the Autreys, Hays Creek Falls with the Raburns, or Herman's Gulch with a bunch of Christian friends, there are so many beautiful views en route to the summit.
It seems to me that marriage is so much like that.  Sure, there are strains and difficulties, starts and stops, but there are payoffs along the way and such an ultimate payoff in persevering to the "top."  Just as there can be such an education about nature along the way of the hike, there is such an education about what it means to be married while climbing the road of life.  Here are a few things I have learned, looking back on 20 wonderful years of marriage to Kathy.
  • "I'm sorry" and "I was wrong" are not easy, but are essential, to say.  Often.
  • We can learn to enjoy each other's diversions, interests, and hobbies.
  • Quantity time is quality time.
  • Together beats alone, hands down--for vacation, recreation, occupation, etc.
  • Sticking together, whatever adversities and trials come (and they will come...to everybody), are so worth it that there are no words to describe it.
  • Two lives can become so intertwined--through your children, your friends, your co-workers, your church family, etc. It is an amazing part of the wisdom of God!
  • Intimacy is a word that grows in power and meaning with every new day.
  • You will forever be "figuring out" your mate.
  • In some regards neither of you changes, but in most ways you both do.
  • God is the only "glue" guaranteed to hold together and grow a happy marriage!
What an awesome conclusion God reached when He said at the creation, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18). With similar sentiment, the inspired Paul wrote, "In the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman" (1 Cor. 11:11).  From my vantage point, that truth makes for such a beautiful view!
 
--Neal Pollard
 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Income Redistribution

Income Redistribution

The antagonism against capitalism is stronger today than we have
seen it in a long time. There was a strong current against capitalism in the
early 20th century during the height of the progressive movement. Many
people are upset at the gulf between the wealthy and the poor.

Some five decades after President Lyndon Johnson declared his
famous war on poverty, according to the Heritage Foundation
(www.heritage.org), the U. S. has spent $19.8 trillion dollars on poverty
programs. But we have more people on government assistance and receiving
food stamps than ever before. Jesus said, "You always have the poor with
you, but you will not always have me." (Matthew 26:11).

There will always be an income gap between the wealthy and the
poor. That is due to chance and luck as well as initiative, hard work,
skill, education, and industriousness.

But income equality will be here one day. It will not be by
government mandate. It will be by divine mandate. It will not be here on
this earth. It will be at the grave. The sons of Korah sing: "Be not afraid
when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he
dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him"
(Psalm 49:16-17). The grave is the great income-equalizer. The poor and the
wealthy both die and then stand before God as penniless as they were when
they came into the world.

Let us not get distraught at the wealthy. Certainly, let us not
get envious or jealous of the wealthy. Rather, let us use what wealth we
have to serve God supremely and our fellow-man sacrificially. That is what
matters.

--Paul Holland

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis


I heard the siren in my early years.  It was during the 1960's, when the Cold
War was in full force and tensions were high following the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The siren was sounded every month or so, just to make sure it was working.
Though it was two miles away from where we lived, we could hear it clearly.  I'm
thankful it was never put to use for an actual emergency.

There are still reasons to alert the public regarding emergent events.  Threats
of tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, etc. need to be communicated so losses in
both property and lives can be minimized.  But how can such alarms be sounded
today so most people will hear?

Beginning very soon the federal government will launch a new sort of "siren".
FEMA, in conjunction with the FCC and cell phone companies, will begin sending
text messages to areas under threat of some emergency.  You won't need to sign
up for the service; if your phone receives text messages (mine doesn't), you'll
be included whenever such a warning is sent out.

Before sirens, bells were rung to call people together to fight a fire or for a
public meeting.  These new electronic "bells" may help save lives, and you'll
have to agree that's a good thing.

More than 2,500 years ago, God gave a message of warning to a prophet named
Habakkuk.  Since it was a warning, God ordered that the message be broadcast in
clear terms: "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who
reads it" (Habakkuk 2:2).  For a long time I understood that to mean that people
would run for fear upon hearing the message.  But I was wrong.

If you contract with a billboard agency to advertise your product you expect
your message to be displayed in a way that can be easily read.  Will anyone stop
their car so they can read a message in tiny print?  Hardly!  That's why
messages on billboards are composed in big and bold lettering.  That's what God
was telling the prophet - make the message plain.

The Bible contains a message that is both alarming and soothing.  Here's how
Paul stated it: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all
men ..." (Titus 2:11).  It's alarming because it proclaims that we need to be
saved; but the news is good because salvation is available for all.

The message of salvation is of universal importance since sin is a universal
dilemma.  That's why Jesus ordered "text messages" to be sent to all inhabitants
of earth: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He
who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be
condemned" (Mark 16:15,16).  Condemnation or salvation - those are the choices
we face.  Thank God we have been warned!

And thank God we are given a message of power: "For I am not ashamed of the
gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who
believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).  Now we can
know not only about the dangers upon us, but also the means of escape that have
been put in place.

We are facing an emergency with eternal implications.  Let us pay attention to
God's warnings.

Timothy D. Hall

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Public Resolution 25

                                        "The sweetest sounds to mortals given

                                        Are heard in Mother, Home and Heaven."

                                                                         Wm. Goldsmith Brown

Today I imagine that just about everyone can guess what the topic of our editorial is about. Maybe just a little hint is necessary. It's the second Sunday in May which is dedicated to a very important person in all of our lives. Yes, our mothers.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed Public Resolution 25 which established the 2nd Sunday of May as Mother's Day forevermore. The story behind this day being set aside to honor our mothers is one that I found very interesting. I hope you will also.

Mother's Day owes its existence to a woman named Anna May Jarvis, who was born May 1, 1864, the daughter of a minister. When Anna was 42 years old and working for an insurance company in Philadelphia, her mother passed away with her death occurring on the 2nd Sunday of May, 1906.

Following her mother's death, Anna became obsessed with the desire of seeing her mother, and motherhood in general, honored annually throughout the world. It started slowly, with the first celebration being a church service where her mother had been a Sunday school teacher. This inaugural occasion was on May 10, 1908, in Grafton, West Virginia.

Three years later, the state of West Virginia made Mother's Day a statewide observance. Then in 1914, President Wilson signed the resolution making it a nationwide observance. You would have thought that Anna would have been very happy to see her dream fulfilled, but in one way she wasn't.

She was now fifty years old and she quit her job with the insurance company in order to devote full time opposition to the commercialization of Mother's Day. Wherever she could speak out and have an influence against the profiteering by merchants as Mother's Day approached, she did so. She would go so far as to appear at florist's conventions and express her feelings about their promoting Mother's Day for a profit. She devoted the last 34 years of her life to this cause. How do you think she'd feel about the efforts at profiteering by the merchants of today?

Finally, she became too old and feeble to carry on her battle against the commercialization of Mother's Day. She was placed in a sanitarium in West Chester, PA, where she was blind, deaf and penniless. She passed away there in 1948 at the age of 84 years.

Because of her efforts, the nation set aside one day of the year in honor of all mothers. It honored her mother, who had died on the 2nd Sunday of May, by that day being the one established for all mothers to be honored. There's an irony to this story in that Anna May Jarvis, whose efforts brought this day into being, would never be honored by it, as she was never married and was never a mother.

In reality, we should honor our mothers every day of the year and not just the one that an act of government set aside. Many of our mothers are no longer with us here, but spiritually they are and we honor their memory.

Yes, mothers are deserving of being honored at all times. I think that we men sometimes get to thinking about how important our jobs are and what great service we render to mankind, but in all honesty, a mother not only has the greatest job, but just about in all cases, bears the hardest burdens.

You see, mothers have a tremendous responsibility. Prov. 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." With very rare and scattered exceptions noted, who does the burden of raising children fall upon? The mothers, of course.

A writer/philosopher of the 1800's by the name of Walter S. Lander once truly said, "children are what the mothers are." Could this help explain why our society seems to be in such a mess nowadays? How are the children being raised?

Another man once said that "the mother's face and voice is the first conscious objects that an infant soul is aware of and that she stands in the place of God to the child." Prov. 1:8 tells us to "not forsake the law of thy mother" and Lev. 19:3 commanded that all men "respect (fear)" their mother. I'm here to tell you, that my mother commanded great fear and respect, especially when she was armed with a peach tree switch.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher once said, "A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary." It's no secret that a mother goes through many trials and tribulations in raising children to be responsible adults. But, no matter how many trials and tribulations child-rearing brings, real mothers wouldn't trade motherhood for anything else. Maybe Mark Twain was close to being right when he said, "My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."

In our lifetimes, many a mother's child has gone off to war and faced terrible situations, but probably the worst situations were faced by the mothers who could only stand by, watching and waiting, while their children went into deadly conflicts. A poet by the name of Joaquin Miller wrote a poem entitled The Bravest Battle. One stanza goes like this:

The bravest battle that was ever fought;

                                                Shall I tell you where and when?

                                                On the maps of the world you will find it not;

                                                It was fought by the mothers of men.

In John 19:25 we find 10 words that speak volumes. It is written so simply, yet I don't think that we can fully comprehend all of what must have been besetting Mary's soul on this occasion. Perhaps only a mother can come the closest to understanding. Notice these words; "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother."

Jesus's last instruction to a disciple, prior to his death, was regarding the care of his mother. In John 19:26-27 we see Jesus saying to his mother to behold John as her son and for John to behold Mary as his mother. It goes on to say that from that day forward, she lived in his home as if she was his mother.

And lastly, this thought. When troubles beset us and things just don't seem to go right. When the world seems to close in on us and it seems that our enemies are about to overwhelm us, we have the words of Isaiah to tell us how the Lord cares for us. Note what he uses as an example of God's care in Isa. 66:13. "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem."

Ron Covey

Friday, May 11, 2012

Song Subdivisions

 One of my favorite bands (Tony Raburn's definite favorite) is Rush.  One of their songs, "Subdivisions," talks about how much peer pressure is a part of life.  Conform and be cool or be cast out, they sing.  The world certainly works that way.  I went to high school in coastal Georgia, a very large school in a military town.  Did we ever have "groups."  We had goths, headbangers, preps, jocks, rednecks, geeks, and a large number of ethnic groups.  While some were harder to pigeon hole and felt at home in multiple groups, there was much "subdivision" in the high school halls and shopping malls.  The worldly way of thinking is to divide, group, alienate, and pit one against another.


Through the cross, Jesus died to eliminate enmity and division. Jews and Gentiles were divided, but the cross was God's tool of reconciling them back together.  This place of unity is called the "one body" (Eph. 2:16).  That "one body" is identified as the church (Eph. 1:22-23).  This means that God designated a place where subdivisions do not belong.  The church is to be a people who are united (Eph. 4:1ff).  We come into Christ from so many different places.  Perhaps we were goths, headbangers, preps, et al, but when we come into Christ we are one body.  This can be uncomfortable and unnatural, but it is what sets apart God's "set apart" from those who conform to the world.  In Christ, we are transformed (cf. Rom. 12:2).  Our effort is to be toward oneness.  It must be to eliminate all barriers, race, education, income, background, and whatever other distinctions the world is prone to make.


It is one of the great blessings of Christianity!  Let the world prejudge, make distinctions, and isolate.  The church is to be a welcoming, loving, and uniting group!  May this ever be our focus and desire.  Jesus was willing to die for that ideal (cf. John 17:20-21).

 

--Neal Pollard

 

Monday, May 7, 2012

THE MASTER MERITS MORE THAN MEDIOCRITY


In our giving--not grudgingly, stingily, just the leftovers and the afterthoughts; sacrifice.

In our living--be a light, be salt, make a difference for Christ in the world each day. Know that morality and example matter.

In our attending--not just Sunday morning or if nothing else is going on; come evenings and during special events like lectureships, seminars, and gospel meetings.

In our serving--whether in the sunlight or the shade, white-collar or blue-collar tasks, whether thanked or thankless the task.

In our praying--unselfishly, faithfully, constantly, praising and thanking along with the requesting.

In our speaking--take courage, keep it pure and wholesome, unite with your words.

In our loving--sincerely, fervently, without favor, following the example of Christ.

In our forgiving--from the heart, permanently, without digging it back up, humbly.

In our studying--dig, use word-study tools, pen and paper, perspiration, zeal.

In our evangelizing--pray about it, work up the nerve, and do it, consistently.

In our leading--be it elders and the church, parents and children, saints and sinners.

In our teaching--pray, prepare, and present with passion; avoid laziness and volunteer
In our feeling--be joyful, be positive even in discouraging circumstances, be gentle always.

In our uniting--lead others to come together in Christ; avoid and discourage cliques, build up His body, remember it is His (Eph. 4:16).

In our worshiping--put your heart in it; be enthusiastic; pay attention; yearn to co-participate with other saints in glorifying God wholeheartedly

He is the Great I Am.  He gave the most precious gift.  He loves us infinitely more than anyone else.  He will ultimately judge us. He is Awesome and worthy!  He is the source of every spiritual blessing.  He will never forsake us or leave us. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift.  He deserves our best!


--Neal Pollard

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Matthew 7:13-14

                        "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy

                         that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For

                         the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those

                         who find it are few." (Christ's words in Matthew 7:13-14)

Let me just start this editorial off by asking a question - Is anybody going to hell? I'd like you to think about that question as I offer you some more thoughts to be considered on our topic of "hell" today.

With our question in mind, I'd like you to consider the society we live in today. Isn't it safe to say that it's about the most permissive society this old world has ever seen? That it's the most tolerant of aberrant behavior, regardless of whichever form that behavior takes, of any society heretofore? Sure seems that way to me.

As far as religion goes, I doubt that there has ever been as many philosophies and doctrines available for people to follow as exists now. A person can find just about anything they want to believe in that scratches their "itching ears." On the flip side, they can believe in nothing at all if they're so disposed. And now here is where I'm going with this: the largest majority of them, either category, believe that they are still alright with God.

Why I say that is based upon some polls that I found very interesting and I hope you do also. The first one I'm going to mention is a street poll taken by a radio station in the Dallas area (a few years back) wherein they sent a reporter out on to the streets with a microphone to ask one simple question: "Who's going to hell?"

The reporter made a random sampling of about 500 people, asking his one question, and the results of his polling is what I found interesting. Approximately 98% of those polled said that they didn't know anybody whom they thought was going to hell. 98%! In carrying that thought on out, do you realize that's almost everyone?

Well, that poll got me interested enough to see if any others had been taken along this subject line and, sure enough, there were others. Here's some more interesting figures resulting from polls regarding heaven and hell. A Fox News poll of a few years ago found that 91% of Americans believe in God. Of that percentage, 87% said that they believed in heaven. I find that interesting, in of itself. However, only 74% of Americans believe in hell.

Let's look at a Gallup poll taken around the same time as the Fox News poll. They said that 90% of Americans believed in God yet only 81% believed in heaven. As to the existence of hell, only 70% said they believed there was a hell.

The Gallup poll delved a little deeper into this topic and said that, of those who professed a belief in heaven, 79% thinks that they're going there, 15% weren't sure and 6% figured they were going to hell. Now, pay attention to these percentages shown by our polls.

Another poll taken in California (where else?) showed that, of all those contacted in this poll who said they believed in heaven and hell, only ½ of 1% thinks that they're going to hell. Looking back over the results of the polls I mentioned, I ask again - "Is anybody going to hell?"

Well, we know what the pollsters say, now let's look at what the Bible says about hell. You know, many people think that hell is just a place that preachers have dreamed up to scare people and get control of their lives. That's not what God says about this place.

Jesus talked a lot about hell, didn't He? In Matt. 10:28 He described hell as a place where both the body and the soul will be destroyed. I think that we can safely say that it's not going to be a happy place to be because He tells us in Matt. 13:42 that it consists of a "furnace of fire" and that there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth." A description that's repeated several times by Christ. By the way, the Greek definition of the word "gnashing" refers to a grating of the teeth as if in pain or suffering. No, I don't see any happy campers there, do you?

And, you won't be alone there as Matt. 25:41 tells that those sent there, the one's on His "left hand," will join the devil and his angels as this is the place "prepared" for them and their followers. I could go on about the description of hell as other Bible writers also talk about it, but suffice it to say that hell is a terrible, terrible place to have to spend eternity. That means forever!

In referring back to our poll results did you notice that there are more people who believe in heaven than believe in hell? Perhaps people just don't want to believe that such a terrible place exists and therefore can't contemplate anyone being sent there. Yet, more believe in heaven than hell for the opposite reason: that heaven is such a beautifully described place that everyone likes to see themselves as going there. Here's an interesting thing for you to consider at this point - that the New Testament has as much, if not more, material that warns people of hell than promises them heaven.

Not only does the Bible very plainly teach that hell is a real place, that it is there for a purpose, the eternal home of the disobedient soul, it also tells us who the occupants will share space with. Besides the devil and his angels, were your soul to be one of those on God's "left hand," and sentenced to hell, let me tell you who you'd be rubbing spiritual elbows with. See, the Bible tells us who's going to hell and it doesn't appear that God considered any poll results before telling us.

In 1 Cor. 6:9-10 we get a detailed breakdown of hells occupants - "fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with men (homosexuals), thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners." We know that's where they'll be located because it tells us in that passage that they won't "inherit the kingdom of God." If these aren't destined for heaven, there's only one other place for them to go.

Another passage that answers the radio reporter's question regarding "Who's going to hell?" is found in Rev. 20:15 where the occupants of hell are lumped in to one grouping: "whomsoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (You might also read Rev. 21:8 and 22:15)

Recall our opening scripture from Matt. 7:13-14? Let me take you to a verse just a little ways past that passage and thereby show you who the "few" are that will occupy heaven. Note verse 21 where it reads: "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." The operative word - DOES!

Ron Covey

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Patricia Krentcil of New Jersey called the *tanning mom*

By now you've likely heard about the "tanning mom".  Patricia Krentcil of New
Jersey was arrested recently on charges of child endangerment.  Her 5-year-old
daughter told her school teacher that she was hurting from being in a tanning
booth.  School officials alerted authorities, who arrested Krentcil after
further investigation.  If convicted of the charges, she could spend 10 years in
prison.

We must always be careful about judging someone guilty before they are tried in
court, but it's obvious from video that this mother values a darkened
complexion.  The owner of a local tanning salon confirmed that Krentcil pays
$100 per month for unlimited tanning, and says she visits about 20 times a month
for 12-minute tanning sessions.  Dermatologists who have been interviewed have
suggested that she may be suffering from a condition known as "tanerexia".

For years it has been fashionable to sport a deep tan; sunbathing and visits to
tanning salons have been common activities.  In recent years we've heard more
warnings about the effects of prolonged exposure to the sun.  Melanoma, we've
learned, is a serious condition that might develop, as well as a host of other
skin cancers.  Nowadays pale skin is valued again.

As we're discussing harmful exposure, let's not forget another area in which
exposure can lead to damage.  The wise man suggested this hundreds of years ago:
"The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his
mother" (Proverbs 29:15).  The principle is clear: Children will often choose
thoughts and activities which lead to shame.  They need responsible parents who
will monitor their activities closely.

Solomon could not have known when he wrote those words about the dangers of
television and the Internet.  Still, dangers abounded in his day with immoral
activity and people of ill repute lurking in the shadows.  Those same kinds of
influences remain in our "advanced" civilization.  And the harm such things can
cause is just as threatening to young minds.

Solomon learned some of his wisdom from his father, David.  In Psalm 101:3 David
shared insights on protecting the mind and the soul: "I will set nothing wicked
before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to
me."  Evil influences did not originate with modern media.  Even in ancient
times it was vital to filter the things upon which one gazed.

David should have more consistently followed his own advice.  A dark episode in
the king's life involved his relationship with another man's wife.  How did his
affair with Bathsheba begin?  "Then it happened one evening that David arose
from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house.  And from the roof he
saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold" (2 Samuel
11:2).  Upon seeing this sight, David should have "changed channels".  But he
didn't.

Children don't always know that the things they view are harmful.  That's why
parents need to be involved.  As adults we should know that some scenes will
lead to harmful exposure.  And while skin cancer is a potentially lethal
condition, it doesn't begin to compare to the damage caused by sin.

The antidote: Exposure to as much Sonlight as possible!  There's no harm in that
- only good.

Timothy D. Hall.
 

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