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Friday, August 31, 2012

#Republican National Convention concluded in Tampa, Florida

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that we're in the midst of campaign
season.
Last night the Republican National Convention concluded in Tampa, Florida.
Next
Tuesday the Democrats will gather in Charlotte, North Carolina for their
convention. Other lesser-known parties will conduct their campaigns in
various
ways, though their chances for electing a President are considerably
smaller.

I find that "campaign" is a word from the French. Literally it means "open
country". It envisions groups of people - armies, for example - that leave
their homes and take to the open country on a mission. The word "camp", not
surprisingly, is derived from "campaign".

For many, it requires a special goal to lure them from the comforts of their
home to the open country. Political campaigns apparently meet those
criteria.
Thousands of people take time to travel to the convention site at
significant
personal expense, crowding into noisy venues to cheer on their favorite
candidate. If you watch any of the political conventions, you know that
enthusiasm runs high.

Similar campaigns are about to begin, though quite different in nature.
College
and professional football teams are gearing up for the beginning of this
year's
"campaigns". The goal is to win a championship. Along the course of the
season, millions will be swept out into the open country (football stadiums)
to
cheer on their favorite teams and players.

The greatest campaign of all time was launched nearly two thousand years
ago.
Though Jesus spent only about three years in His earthly ministry, His
impact
was huge. As He prepared to depart the planet, He gave this charge to those
who
would carry on His mission: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to
every creature" (Mark 16:15). I can't think of a more expansive open
country
than the entire world, can you? This is The Campaign of all times!

An outside observer would think The Campaign got off to a rocky start. Yes,
the
opening day was dramatic; three thousand who heard Peter's first
proclamation of
the gospel responded by being baptized into Christ (Acts 2:41). But just
two
chapters later the disciples of Jesus got their first taste of opposition.
By
chapter 7 of Acts we meet the first Christian to die for his faith, Stephen.
The first verses of chapter 8 speak of an official backlash to Christianity.
This would surely put a damper on The Campaign; probably even squelch it,
right?

Acts 8:4 makes a most surprising declaration: "Therefore those who were
scattered went everywhere preaching the word". Instead of smothering the
excitement of following Christ, persecution actually fanned the flames! As
Tertullian wrote in 197 AD, "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the
church".
The Campaign just would not be shut down.

How does The Campaign fare in 2012 AD? That's a question that can only be
answered by each individual follower of Jesus. Do I dare to compare my
faith
with that of the apostle Paul? "For this reason I also suffer these things;
nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am
persuaded
that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2
Timothy
1:12). We serve the same Lord that Paul served. Do we carry on The
Campaign
with his fervor?

Timothy D. Hall

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Anger, A Natural Emotion

The story was told of a little boy who asked his daddy how wars begin.
Here's the exchange:

"Well, take the First World War," said his father. "That got started when
Germany invaded Belgium."

Immediately his wife interrupted him: "Tell the boy the truth. It began
because somebody was murdered." The husband drew himself up with an air of
superiority and snapped back, "Are you answering the question, or am I?"
Turning her back upon him in a huff, the wife walked out of the room and
slammed the door as hard as she could.

When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard, an uneasy silence
followed, broken at length by the son when he said, "Daddy, you don't have
to tell me any more; I know now!"

There's nothing wrong with anger. It's a natural human emotion. The Lord
became angry (Mt. 21:12). Add to that, the apostle Paul told us to be angry.
"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Eph.
4:26).

When we see injustice, we become angry.

When we observe evil, we become angry

When we or someone we love is mistreated, we become angry.

Even when we fail, we might become angry with ourselves.

There are a number of occasions when we find that the natural emotion is
anger. That's fine, provided that anger is channeled properly.

Repressing your anger will make you physically ill.

Taking your anger out on those you love will make them ill.

Someone once said, "Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry
with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, and in the
right way--at is not easy."

Inappropriate anger is something God tells us to avoid.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking,
be put away from you, with all malice" (Eph. 4:31).

"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy
communication out of your mouth" (Col. 3:8).

Just a reminder this morning for us to keep our words and our actions in
check.

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

For previous devotionals, visit www.NeilRichey.com.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to be a better golfer

Tuesday: "Your T'ward is Off"

I occasionally golf with a fellow that likes to say, "your t'ward's off." He
typically enjoys saying that after I hit a long drive that ends up on the
wrong fairway.

There are times in life when we seemingly make very little progress. We're
constantly working at something but never seem to accomplish what we're
working for.

It reminds me of the story I read about a guy who was lost. He pulled off
the side of the road and asked a lady for directions. "How far is it to
_______?" Well," the woman said, "if you keep going the way you're headed,
it's about twenty-five thousand miles. But if you turn around, it's about
three miles." My golfing buddy would have told him that his t'ward was off.

In your life's journey, are you accomplishing what you set out to do? If
not, maybe your "t'ward's off."

Are you the husband/wife and father/mother you need to be (Eph. 5:20-6:4)?

Are you the employer/employee you need to be (Eph. 6:5-9)?

Are you the Bible student you need to be (2 Tm. 2:15)?

Are you the Christian servant you need to be (Gal. 5:13)?

Are you the faithful worshipper that you need to be (Heb. 10:23-27)?

Are you the forgiving brother/sister in Christ that you need to be (Mt.
18:15-35)?

If you're struggling in some area of your life, then here are some things
you can do to fix your "t'ward":

Decide that today's going to be different!

Today, get down on your knees and tell God your sorry for the mistakes, and
you're ready to rededicate yourself to Him.

Today, resolve to change who you are as a spouse and parent--make such a
change in your life that even the dog won't recognize you.

Today, decide you are going to be the most energetic, the most productive
employee that your boss has ever seen.

Today, start a daily reading plan. You can easily read the Bible in a year
by just reading a few chapters a day.

Today, get into the life of someone who needs you. Serve them!

Today, be making plans on how you're going to worship the Lord on His day.
Preparation for worship begins with proper living now.

Today, reach out to that brother you've been holding a grudge against which
has affected your attitude, your worship, and your overall love for life.
Tell him/her, "I'm sorry. I love you and I want us to go to heaven
together."

I hope you have terrific Tuesday!

For previous devotionals, visit www.NeilRichey.com.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven

Today I'd like to present a couple of thoughts brought about by either a scripture that I read and it related to a story or news item OR a story/news item I came across and it reminded me of a Bible passage. Either way, here's a couple of thoughts for you to consider this morning.

The scripture reading for my first thought is found in Matt. 7:21, that oft-cited verse where Jesus says: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

What reminded me of this verse is something I read about a play/movie from the '70's entitled "Jesus Christ Superstar." I've never watched this movie, only read a little blurb about it and it's actually one of the scenes talked about in it that caught my attention. It was depicting Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem a week before His death on the cross. Here's what I found interesting and relative to our passage.

As He was entering the city there were great crowds of people lining the road shouting "Hosannah" and waving palm fronds. Obviously a very joyous and worshipful occasion. The people in the movie were singing "Christ you know I love you, did you see I waved?"

If you read about this event in the Bible record you'll see that there was "a very great multitude" gathered for His entry. That the "whole city was moved" by this occasion and they were asking, "Who is this?" (Matt. 21) In answer to their question, Matthew identifies Him as "Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." and John says He's the "King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord." (Jn. 12:13)

Such was the scene on that Sunday a week prior to His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. Yet, just a few days later we read where another multitude gathered but this time they were crying "Crucify Him, crucify Him." Right here in the same city with only a few days having passed.

Now my thought here is, I wonder how many of the people were part of both multitudes? The first multitude welcomed and worshiped Him. The second one, as we say in flying, was 180 degrees different, crying "crucify Him." What could have happened in those few days? My guess: the political winds changed and Jesus was seen more as a threat than a blessing to the ruling Jewish hierarchy of the day.

He went from being welcomed as the "King of Israel" to being treated like a common criminal as crucifixion was the method of capital punishment for common criminals. And, we know from the Bible record that He took the place of a real criminal who was guilty of his crimes.

Okay, here's my closing thought about this little lesson. We all know of Christians, members of the Church, who have "fallen away" or, as Rev. 2:4 puts it, "left their first love." I see these members, had they been citizens of Jerusalem back then, as participants of both "multitudes." I base my opinion on the words of Heb. 6:4-7 where it says that when we "fall away" from being "partakers of the Holy Spirit," basically renouncing God's Word, that in effect, we're "crucifying" the "Son of God" again. Would not this be the same situation of being a member of both multitudes?

Now, let's shift gears, change the subject matter and look at another thought based on scripture and news items/stories. The topic of discussion is the "Mission of the Church." This topic was occasioned by my having heard or read a phrase often used in military and/or corporate parlance. That phrase is "mission statement."

I'll start off by asking you, What is the mission of the Church? Now, before you answer, I want you to understand that "the Church" is not some nebulous entity. We, you and I, are "the Church." And, "the Church" does in fact have a mission statement. Allow me to provide that mission statement to you at this time.

"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:10-11)

Perhaps, like military or corporate people, we might be asked to define our "mission statement." How would you answer if asked to state a Christian's mission statement? I think an all around good answer would be something along this line: To do the absolute best job we can to show our part of the world the "glorious gospel of Christ." (2 Cor. 4:4)

Think about it. Isn't that a Christian's mission? Their charge? 2 Cor. 4:4-7 tells us that Christ's gospel is to be "shone" to the unbelievers of the world. That it has been left to us, the "earthen vessels," to shine forth the "light" that we've received in our "hearts." We, "the Church" are to "make known" this Gospel. This "manifold wisdom of God." That is the Church's mission.

A while back I read about a man, a Christian, who was being recruited for a high level corporate position and during his interview, he was asked what his "purpose in life" was? I think that his answer to that question can serve all Christians as a simple, yet concise response should we be asked what our "purpose," our Christian "mission statement" is while here on earth.

The man answered: "To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can." Can't we say the same thing?

Ron Covey

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Yes, I made a mistake. But nobody's perfect

Have you ever heard that statement? Have you ever said it?

Consider the insights of A.R. Gallaher on "nobody's perfect": "It is a
statement normally used by such as you and me to expresses a fault in each
one of us. This statement though is not used in a negative connotation. It
is a positive statement expressing that compared to everyone else, I am the
same as they; therefore, I am normal and to be accepted by everyone else. We
use the expression to excuse ourselves or others of receiving blame or guilt
over some kind of behavior. Expressing "nobody's perfect," we find
commonality with all those around us and sometimes even feel better that we
are not like the murderers, rapists, thieves, or other commonly held notions
of 'REAL BAD PEOPLE.'

"I ask you to contemplate how terrible and totally depraved that statement
is and the one who utters it. We are not saying that it is wrong to make
the statement; only that the statement expresses a horrible truth that
absolutely needs a remedy."

"Murder is wrong, raping is wrong, theft is wrong; but so is lying, gossip,
seeing a neighbor in need and not helping, greed, fornication, deceit,
pride, disobeying parents, envy, jealousy, and much more given in Romans 1.

We are all guilty, guilty, guilty! There is no "degree" of sin with God [in
the sense that ANY sin makes us guilty before God]. There is no "lesser of
two evils."

When we realize that we are lost and need something from God to make us
acceptable, then we will never use 'nobody's perfect' in a positive way. It
should rip out our insides and cause us to fall on our knees and release any
dignity and pride we had to ask God to forgive us. I believe with every
fiber of my being that until the complete knowledge of how loathsome my sins
are to God, I will not comprehend what God did for me in sending His
forgiveness in the person of His Son."

It's true. Nobody's perfect. "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the
glory of God," and the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23). And the holy
God can have nothing to do with sin. Habakkuk the prophet spoke the truth
when he said to God: "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot
tolerate wrong" (1:13). Nobody's perfect, and that condemns us all.

But God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we might have
forgiveness and life (Ephesians 1:7). "For God made Him [Jesus] who knew no
sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him"
(2 Corinthians 5:21). "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so
that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have
been healed" (1 Peter 2:24).

In order to accept His salvation and the gift of eternal life; one must
place his faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in
repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and
are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

It's true. Nobody's perfect. That's the problem! We need a Savior.

Jesus IS that Savior.

Won't YOU submit your life to the Savior?

-- A.R. Gallaher and David A. Sargent

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fairfield, Ohio hos

 

    I visited my brother last week who is in a Fairfield, Ohio hospital. As usual, when we get together we talk about "old times."  We reminisced a fishing trip that we took when we were both teenagers.  It was going to be the fishing trip that ended all fishing trips!  We thoroughly planned the excursion, overlooking nothing.  We would go to a gravel peninsula that protruded out into the Little Wabash River just west of Huntington, Indiana. 

            Upon arrival at the sight, we parked the truck in the woods about 100 yards from the sight. We lugged a generator through the weeds and briars, along with two 50 foot extension cords and two flood lights. Returning to the truck, we gathered up two lawn chairs and a large cooler that contained our bait, soft drinks, ring bologna, Ritz crackers, hotdogs, and red licorice. We finally got around to taking our fishing poles and tackle boxes to the sight. 

            The next hour was spent setting everything up just right so nothing would interfere with our pulling in the massive amount of fish we were going to catch. However, before it got too dark, we thought it would be a good idea to gather wood for the camp fire.  With the fire going, we decided to roast some hotdogs; after all, we wouldn't want to be eating and have to drop our food to pull in a fish!

            Finally, after about three hours, with the camp fire blooming, the generator running, the flood lights on, and our bellies full, we set our lawn chairs next to the current and begin to fish.

            About 15 minutes later, we both decided we were tired and out of the mood to fish, and began the process of loading up all our gear and going home.  All the planning, all the hard work of preparation, all the good intentions, fatigued us and put us out of the mood to fish.  All our great expectations to "catch fish" became null and void due mainly to our over-abundant planning and preparation, and feeling that everything needed to be "just right" before we could begin fishing.

            As I think back on this episode, it reminds me of a lot of some church programs.

                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                        --Toby Miller

What is gobbledygook?

For some unknown reason I woke up this morning with the word "Gobbledygook"
on my mind. Perhaps because I was dealing with lots of detailed, legal type
reading yesterday. Now, I know how the word is used and what it means in our
American culture, but my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know
more about the word, so I did some checking as to how the word came into
being.

It seems that on "May 21, 1944 by Maury Maverick, a congressman from Texas
was the originator. His comments, recorded in the New York Times Magazine,
were made when Maverick was the Democratic chairman of the US Congress
Smaller War Plants Committee. He was being critical of the obscure language
used by other committee members. The allusion was to a turkey, "always
gobbledy gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity". (Wikipedia)

Basically, Gobbledygook is any comment that is hard to understand or perhaps
uses phrases twisting language to make it difficult to understand what the
writer or speaker is really saying. Some might use the word
"incomprehensible" to describe this; however I like the sound of the word
"Gobbledygook".

In my "professional" opinion, I believe at times it is possible for people's
lives to become gobbledygook. There are times when our lives become so mixed
up, so out of control, so unmanageable that to figure out what is necessary
in life becomes gobbledygook (or incomprehensible to us). We really don't
know where to go, what to do next, how to solve the overwhelming problems we
face.

I in no way want to make it sound like I have no problems or that I believe
that all problems are easily solved. However I really do believe that with
the right background and foundation our problems can be solved "more"
easily.

I really believe that when Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all of
you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest," he
means what he says. He does not say that he will make the problem go away,
but in him we have hope of something that goes beyond the problem.

You see that is the answer to overcoming the gobbledygook that our lives
sometime become. It is not expecting that the problems will all magically be
taken away, but in knowing that our life consists of more than what is going
on in it at this instant. If we have that hope in Christ, then we can deal
with the present and temporary messes our lives sometimes become.

There is a passage of scripture I have often used at funerals, which speaks
of our hope. Paul begins in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, "But I would not have you
to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow
not, even as others which have no hope." Then he goes ahead and tells of our
resurrection and eternal life with God. It is when we feel that we have "no
hope" that or life becomes gobbledygook or "incomprehensible" to us. We
can't see any answer to the problems we face. Here is the problem as
described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4. He says: "Satan, who is the god of
this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are
unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand
this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God."

Which one are you seeing in your life?

Russ Lawson

Saturday, August 18, 2012

noted French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre

The noted French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre`, studied the Pine
Processionary Caterpillar in great detail. He observed that these
caterpillars would follow a lead caterpillar in a single-file line. This
behavior is not only the reason why it was given its name, but it can also
be a deadly characteristic.

Consider an experiment that Fabre` conducted with some processionary
caterpillars. Allen Campbell described the experiment: "He took a
flowerpot and placed a number of caterpillars in single-file around the
circumference of the pot's rim. Each caterpillar's head touched the
caterpillar in front of it. Fabre` then placed the caterpillars' favorite
food in the middle of the circle created by the caterpillars' procession
around the rim of the flowerpot. Each caterpillar followed the one ahead
thinking that it was heading for the food....

Round and round went those silly insects - for seven days! After a week of
this mindless activity, the caterpillars started to drop dead because of
exhaustion and starvation. All that they had to do to avoid death was to
stop the senseless circling of the flowerpot and head directly toward the
food-less than six inches away from those ever-circling crawlers. However,
the processionary caterpillars were locked into this lifestyle and couldn't
extricate themselves from this mindless behavior." *

Caterpillars aren't the only ones that can wander in circles. We need
direction, too!

Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah declared: "O LORD, I know the way of man is
not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps"
(Jeremiah 10:23).

Jesus asked, "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the
ditch?" (Luke 6:39).

So many people wander around aimlessly, wondering about the purpose of life.
Some attempt to validate their lifestyles by seeking legitimacy in the
approval of the crowd. Others find meaning and purpose in certain
activities, but they are headed for a ditch!

Really there are only two ways to travel: the broad way or the narrow way.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that
leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is
the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who
find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

The "broad" way is the way of sin that leads to destruction. It's the easy
way, the popular way. It leads to destruction.

The "narrow" way is less popular. It can be difficult, but this is the way
that leads to eternal life. Jesus is the Way (John 14:6), for He died on
the cross so that we might have forgiveness for our sins and eternal life in
heaven (Ephesians 1:7).

To follow Jesus in the narrow way, we must place our faith and trust in Him
(Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess
Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) in His name for
the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Then we must continue to walk in the
light of His word (1 John 1:7).

Stop walking in circles; it's a DEAD end! Follow Jesus - He will lead you
to LIFE eternal!

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent

Monday, August 13, 2012

Social Darwinism

Politics is in the news again, as it is every four years during the
Presidential race, and on a lesser scale every two years with the election
of our Representatives and Senators. The pundits and politicians present
platitudes and promises that would help save America or "civilization as we
know it," but seldom do they actually provide a solution to the ills
plaguing society. I guess I am a remnant of the "old school," having been
raised with a sense of moral responsibility impressed upon my mind through
instruction, and on my backside with a leather strap. Unfortunately this new
generation receives neither instruction or discipline, and the abysmal
ignorance of God, declining moral responsibility, and disregard for godly
living has created a void that is being filled by humanistic thinking that
views man as nothing more than an animal on a par with a cockroach; the only
difference is his molecular sequence. I was handed a clipping from the Fort
Worth Star Telegram th is past week with the following heading: "Dem
platform panel backs gay marriage." Details are provided in what follows:
"The national Democratic Party's platform committee endorsed gay marriage
Saturday [August 11, 2012, TW] for the first time and called for the repeal
of a federal law that recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman."
Scott Dibble (one wonders if the "r" was left out of the last name) speaks
with the wisdom of the world: "Young people are looking for a political home
right now. This has become a defining moral question of our time." By the
way, Dibble is gay; what else would you expect? To bolster the Democratic
Party's new platform on this matter, Dibble adds, "This certainly has been a
journey for people for this country a journey for our president." The
article closes with a statement regarding the Democratic Party's call "for
the repeal of a 1996 law, signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, that
recognizes marriage as between a man and a! woman."

It is rather unfortunate that the "religious elite" of our society has
clamored loud and long that politics and religion do not mix. An appeal to
the imaginary "separation of church and state" clause in our Constitution
appears to have settled the issue, and any attempt on the part of preachers
and good and godly men and women to expose that myth is met with an eyes of
suspicion and disdain. No, it is not the business of the church to engage in
politics; but it IS the business of the church to stand for and proclaim the
will of God, whether it be in the factory, the home, or in the halls of
Congress. I read of nothing in the Bible that says the child of God is to
teach everywhere except in government circles; do you? So some observations
are in order.

First, why would any faithful Christian want to align himself with a
political party that has an agenda so opposed to God and His divine will? I
simply ask you, beloved: Which party comes to the defense of homosexuality?
Which party supports and defends abortion? What political party now wants to
redefine the home as God would have it so as to include marriage between two
people of the same sex? What party would favor the removal of the Bible from
public display, or strip our country of monuments and memorials that give
honor to the God Who, in His divine providence, brought about a nation so
blessed as ours? To ask is to answer. To vote for a "representative" in the
halls of Congress who favors such ungodly behavior is to say in effect,
"This man or woman is MY Representative; he or she represents me." When you
step into a voting booth this November and pull the lever for such ungodly
Representatives or Senators, you are, in the words of the apostle John,
"partaker in their evil deeds" (2 John 11).

Second, Mr. Dibble would have us to believe that the newly established
platform supporting homosexual marriages will in no way affect our religious
freedoms. Quoting from the article, he writes: "We also support the freedom
of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as
religious sacrament without government interference." The wording is
carefully chosen so as to leave the impression that those who oppose such
unions will be free to teach as they wish. But that is not what Dibble said.
He specifically said that religious entities will be given freedom to decide
how to administer marriage; the government will decide the definition of
marriage - not the Bible. In Canada, where homosexual marriages have already
been made the law of the land, opposition to that law is considered
opposition to the government itself and susceptible to prosecution. Isolated
cases of preachers and churches being fined and/or imprisoned are already a
reality in Canada. It will happen here.

Third, our President looks upon those who would adapt a more conservative
approach to government in economics and social issues as practicing, in his
words, "thinly veiled social Darwinism." He bandies about the phrase in an
effort to make it appear that responsibility in economics is actually
irresponsibility. If you have ever seen 'The Princes Bride,' you may
remember where Inigo Montoya made the observation regarding his inept
leader's repeated use of the word "inconceivable." It is certainly
applicable here: "You keep using that word ... I do not think it means what
you think it means." A closer look at the words "social Darwinism" reveals
that it does not mean what the President thinks it means. Darwinism is
related to the idea of evolution, and in particular evolution by natural
selection. Humanism takes its "no-God" philosophy, shackles it to Darwinism,
and in the realm of societal progression seeks a utopia on government's
selection of the fittest . It is, in short, the idea that the government
should aggressively step in and direct the course of human evolution.
"Social" is defined by Wikipedia as the "characteristic of living organisms
as applied to populations of humans and other animals. It always refers to
the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective
co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and
irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary." Hence,
"social Darwinism" is the government's intervention in the interaction of
humans in any given society. Common sense tells us that when Government
attempts to force upon a people a behavior that it (the Government) deems
acceptable, then, and only then, are the words used in their true context.
When Government attempts to force upon its citizens a new concept of moral
behavior, such as "same sex marriages," acceptance of abortion, et al. that
is "social Darwinism." ! When a people refuse to accept what government
forces upon them because of what they perceive to be their God-given rights
and responsibility, that is anything but social Darwinism. Someone once
observed that if he were allowed to define the terms he could, in effect,
prove anything. That is precisely what the President of the United States
wants to do - redefine terms; and the truth suffers as a result.

Finally, you and I are engaged in a battle for the very survival of a
culture built upon God and His word. Few of those who maintain a "thus saith
the Lord" in matters of doctrine would deny the importance of doing all
within their power to uphold the purity of the church. Why is it that some
refuse to see the responsibility we have to uphold the same purity when it
comes to the system of government under which we, at least for the present,
have the power to choose. Our Constitution still reads, "We the people ... "
If we remain silent, refusing to let our light shine, timidly bowing to the
foolish notion that "politics and religion don't mix," we will have no one
to blame but ourselves when these freedoms are taken from us. Yes, we have
the sacred obligation to submit to the government, whatever form, or however
evil it may become. But while we still can, we have the same sacred
obligation to do all within our power to prevent the rise of social
Darwinism presently being promoted by the humanists and atheists, as well as
misinformed and misguided politicians.

by Tom Wacaster

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A happy lady with a sweet and easy laugh

Maria Garcia has been described as "a happy lady with a sweet and easy
laugh." She also suffers from dementia and cannot remember things very well.
However, when Garcia awakens each morning, she walks into the living room
and asks one of her caregivers a routine question: "Is my mother up yet?"

Garcia's mother, Rosario Schielzeth, continues to be Garcia's primary
caregiver and companion. The remarkable thing about this is that Garcia is
86-years-old, and her mother is 104! This mother and daughter have rarely
been apart during their lives. In fact, they have spent over 60 years living
together in the same house. And when Garcia's health began to fail, her
mother has always been there to help her.

Schielzeth reads the newspaper each morning and seeks to keep her daughter's
mind active by keeping her updated on current events. She also reminds
Garcia of what day it is, if she has eaten, and the whereabouts of their
dog, Frankie.

"She lovingly reminds her, which is a difficult thing, I would imagine, at
104 to have patience over and over again," said Carol Festari, one of
Garcia's 24-hour caregivers.

Sprinkled throughout their Sarasota, FL home are some stunning paintings
done through the years by the talented Garcia. One of her paintings hangs
over her mother's bed. It is of two people sitting together in the
countryside, near some serene water, having a picnic lunch on a beautiful
day. The two people in the painting are a mother and daughter, a tribute, no
doubt, to the lasting love that is being lived out each day between the
painter and her mother. *

Their love also reminds us of the love of the Creator for His creation...

It was because of His love that God created mankind, and a world that was
perfectly suited to sustain man's life. But man "messed up" God's perfect
creation by disobeying God's will (see Genesis 3).

We all have followed suit: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory
of God" (Romans 3:23). But God still loves us and cares for us!

He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our
sins so that we might be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of
eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).

God will save those who place their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31),
turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men
(Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the
forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).

His Word (The Bible) is a "constant reminder" of His provision for man. It
is the cross of Christ that stands as the emblem of God's unending love for
His creation (see 1 John 4:9-10).

He has assured us of His continued care and eternal life, if we will just
accept His offer of salvation on His terms.

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

#Obsessive-compulsive disorder

"Obsession"

To say that the 15-year-old boy is into his video games is an
understatement.
He was so into "Modern Warfare 3" on his Xbox game system that he emerged
from
his room only to take quick bathroom breaks and to grab a snack. After four
days he finally came out, however, to be taken to the hospital to be treated
for
dehydration. Reportedly he is doing fine in Columbus, Ohio.

Yes, his activities seem to qualify for the label "obsession". An obsession
is
an activity which we just can't put down or turn off. We're hearing more
and
more such stories of people becoming obsessed with video games.

Some obsessions are harmless. There are those who have to keep the
different
foods on their plate separated. If one touches the other, it somehow causes
the
meal to lose its appeal. (Wonder how they keep these separated in their
stomach?)

But sometimes obsessions become serious issues. "Obsessive-compulsive
disorder"
- OCD - has become a familiar term, and may require professional
intervention.
"Monk", the television program, portrays a detective who suffers from this
disorder. His determination to keep things in perfect order and to keep his
home spotless and sterile often interferes with his ability to do his job.
In
real life, OCD is not a laughing matter.

In the word of God there is one behavior over which we are encouraged to
obsess
(if we may use the term loosely). Doing so will lead to a better life, one
that
will please the Lord.

As Joshua prepared to lead Israel into the Promised Land, God spoke
important
instructions. One thing was especially needful: "This Book of the Law shall
not
depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you
may
observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make
your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8).

The few things that we do "day and night" are vital matters that we do
without
thinking: breathing, circulating blood throughout our bodies, etc. Here is
one
activity, though, which requires deliberate thought and resolve. Could
meditating in God's Book of the Law have been that important? That seems
clearly to be the case.

The generation that arose after Joshua demonstrated what happens when
careful
study of God's word is neglected: "When all that generation had been
gathered to
their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord
nor
the work which He had done for Israel" (Judges 2:10). A casual reading of
Judges shows a nation in chaos. If only they had heeded the Lord's
instruction!

The admonition to us is the same. "But his delight is in the law of the
Lord,
and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree
planted by
the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf
also
shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:2,3).

Here is one obsession we should desire; it will lead to a much improved
life.

Timothy D. Hall

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Triumph can’t be had without a struggle

                      "Triumph can't be had without a struggle." (Wilma Rudolph)

I, like most of you this past week, have been watching the Olympic Games in London. The athleticism of the athletes, irregardless of their chosen sport, simply amazes me. And the one thing that all of us know is, that it did not come without a lot of hard work and suffering. Without lots of diligence paid towards the goal of being the best in that discipline.

We know that all of them have dedicated themselves to that cause of attaining a gold medal that proclaims them to be Nr. 1 in the world. Like the quote of Wilma Rudolph, reaching the status of "best in the world" doesn't come without lots of struggle.

Probably many of you don't even know who Wilma Rudolph is or what she accomplished during her life in sports, especially the Olympic events. In a moment I'll enlighten you a bit about her and you'll see why I chose to use her story to provide a segue into a spiritual lesson for today.

But first, a few more thoughts regarding the Olympics in general. Last Wednesday night, just prior to Bible study, several of us were discussing the "games" going on in London and I expressed my opinion of some things about them that I didn't care a whole lot for. I'll take a moment and briefly relate those things to you.

Basically, I much prefer to watch events that are judged "objectively" rather than those who are judged "subjectively." Here's why. An event whose winner is determined by "subjective" judging simply means that a panel of human judges voted on how well they performed and awarded them a numerical score based upon that judgment.

Do you think that human biases, or even how they feel at the moment has any bearing on the rendering of their scores? Of course they do. Proof of that can be seen in the various scores given by the panel of judges. They vary in their personal opinions of how the athlete performed. They all watched the same performance and yet, came up with different scores. How come?

No, I much prefer the events where the results are derived from the "objective" manner. IE: the winner can be easily determined because they ran faster, swam faster, jumped higher or lifted more weight than their fellow competitors. If you received the gold medal it's because you crossed the finish line first, thus running faster than every other person in the race. Not hard to know who the fastest runner on two feet is in the world.

And here's another thing about all the athletes that I fully recognize: the superb abilities that they possess regardless of whichever discipline they participate in. I recognize that to reach the physical and mental state of being able to compete against the world's best athletes one has to spend years of practice with great diligence involved to reach that athletic level. That tremendous efforts have been spent towards the goal of being the best.

The Bible says that we'll have tribulations, trials and sufferings "such as are common to man" occur in our lives. (1Cor. 10:13) The question begs, will they deter us from our goal of eternal life in heaven? Our "gold medal," so to speak. Will we have the same dedication, show the same diligence and perseverance to succeed in our soul's endeavor as the Olympic athletes do in attaining their goals?

Wilma gives us a good example of the determination and perseverance it takes to overcome life's tribulations and trials so let's go back to her for a moment. She was a premature baby weighing only 4 ½ pounds at birth and was the 20th of 24 children in the Rudolph family. In her early childhood she suffered through double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio which caused her to lose the use of her left leg and required her to wear braces on her legs. (Isn't it a wonderful blessing that we don't see children wearing these polio braces any more?)

She hated those braces and was determined to get them off. Think of how much of a struggle it must have been to just walk normally without them. Well, she did get them off and walk without them, but in reality did much, much more.

When she was 16 years old she competed in the Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, winning a bronze medal in a running event. Then in 1960, at the Rome Olympics, she became the first American to win three gold medals in the same Olympics. She was first in the 100 meter race, first in the 200 meter race and anchored the 4x100 relay race to victory. In accomplishing these feats, she broke all three world records for those events and became the "fastest woman in the world."

Yes, she had her struggles, many of them. Did they deter or stop her from attaining her goal? Absolutely not! But, here's where I tie her story into our lesson today. In her own words, she said that she did not accomplish her great victories alone - she had help, the help of her brothers and sisters. Both to keep her from giving up and to help her exercise, but mainly to encourage her to keep striving towards her goals.

Well, we may not be Olympic athletes and we may never set any world records during our lifetimes, but that's not really our goal, is it? Isn't our goal "not of this world?" (John 15:19) Like the example set by Wilma and the other Olympic athletes, we're striving for a goal that's attainable by all men - eternal life with God and Christ in heaven.

The apostle Paul says something I find appropriate to both our spiritual lesson and the Olympic Games. In Phil. 3:13-14 he gives us these words: "Brethren, I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." (NLT)

And another passage by Paul also relates to Christians and the Olympic athletes. In 2Tim. 2:5 he writes: "Athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules." (NLT) And then a few verses farther down the page (11-12) we find these encouraging words given us: "This is a trustworthy saying: if we die with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him...." But, remember the words about "following the rules?" Paul adds the last half of verse 12 as a warning: "If we deny Him, He will deny us."

                    "Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth

                                            him out of them all." Psa. 34:19

Ron Covey

Friday, August 3, 2012

#James #Holmes

The world has heard of the terrible massacre of 12 people and the injuries
of 58 others when James Holmes opened fire on a movie theater full of people
on July 20 in Aurora, Colorado.

Now the question looms, "Could it have been prevented?"

This question is asked because Fox News has reported that Holmes mailed a
notebook "full of details about how he was going to kill people" to a
University of Colorado psychiatrist before the attack. A source told Fox
News that the notebook contained "drawings of what he was going to do in
it - drawings and illustrations of the massacre."

However, it has also been reported that the parcel containing the notebook
may have sat unopened in a mailroom for up to a week before it was
discovered on the Monday following the Friday night atrocity.

Could the massacre have been prevented if the notebook had been opened prior
to that Friday night? Perhaps. But, the sad reality is it was not opened.
And, as Neal Pollard has stated, "In that the book was not opened, it had no
chance of saving any of those whose life was either ended or permanently
changed."

But there is another book that if unopened and ignored could lead to an even
greater calamity. But if it is opened and heeded, its contents will lead
people to the greatest joy.

Pollard writes: "There is another book that has gone unopened by the
majority. It is a book that details life rather than death. It inspires hope
and not fear. It details, step by step, where we all came from, why we are
here, what we are to do, and where we are going." That book is the Bible.
It is a book that informs the reader of how to enjoy the abundant life now
and eternal life to come (John 10:10; Mark 10:29-30).

The Book also informs us of man's greatest problem: SIN, and the terrible,
eternal punishment that will be administered to those who reject God's offer
of salvation from sin (Matthew 7:13-14).

But God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). He loves us so much
that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, so that through
Jesus, we might have forgiveness and life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).

The Book teaches us that if we will only: place our faith and trust in Him
(Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess
Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized into Christ for the
forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27), then our sins can be
washed away by the blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5; Acts 22:16). Then, as we
continue to walk in the light of His Word, the blood of Jesus will continue
to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

IF --only we will open the Book, read it, and heed it.

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dr. Bill Owens, Sr., founder and president of the national "Coalition of African American Pastors,"

There is a group of people right now who are probably facing as much heat
and peer pressure than anyone else in our culture. They identify themselves
by race and a moral issue, one that is certainly the current focal point of
the popular media. They are conservative, black ministers who insist that
they stand with the Bible on what defines marriage and, thus, are in
absolute disagreement with the president on the matter of same sex
marriages. Dr. Bill Owens, Sr., founder and president of the national
"Coalition of African American Pastors," noted that the Civil Rights
Movement was significant in making it possible for our president to be
elected but that this movement did not involve suffering and death in order
to enable men to marry men and women to marry women. Emmett C. Burns, Jr.,
a very prominent black, Baltimore preacher, publicly withdrew his support of
the president over his same sex marriage support. Tony Evans, bestselling
author and megachurch pastor, told NPR in forthright terms that "The Bible
is clear...sexual relationships are to be between men and women within the
context of marriage" (npr.org). Lorenzo Albacete points out that black
religious leaders in North Carolina helped to defeat a constitutional
amendment prohibiting gay marriage and domestic partnership
(www.ilsussidiario.net). On the other coast, Dr. Ken Hutcherson, a Baptist
pastor, said "that he would never vote for someone who believes in same sex
marriage and abortion, 'regardless of who it is, regardless how white they
are, regardless how black they are'" (www.christianpost.com).

In a social climate polarized, sometimes blindly, along racial, economic,
and other special interests lines, how refreshing to see a group of people
uniting and looking past color and trying to arrive at a decision based on
right or wrong rather than a lesser agenda. While these men are tragically
wrong on some fundamental doctrinal points that are of eternal importance,
they are praiseworthy for exemplifying honesty on this issue. Their spirit
of courage challenges us to be loving and kind, but firm and forthright in
defense of God's will.

This is not a political commentary. There are troubling stands taken by
both our major parties. This is about homosexuality and society. God has
made His "position," as creator and founder of marriage and the home,
crystal clear. His "creation" are beholden to follow it or disregard it to
their own everlasting harm. I am thankful for those who do not put politics
before biblical precepts. May we imbibe of their spirit when it comes to
all biblical matters.

Neal Pollard

The calm between storms

I was talking with one of our members this week, asking how they were
getting along. She said, "Well, I think we are past the difficult times
right now." To which I replied, "Well, it may just be calm between storms."

That's really true, (I think)! This adventure we call life seems to go from
one difficulty or challenge to another for most people. It seems that it is
rare for someone's life to go smoothly with no storms or no disturbances in
it. What often defines us; is how we deal with the storms of life. What
keeps us steady or keeps us from getting blown away when difficult, stormy
times hit our lives?

There is an old hymn titled, "We have an anchor" that says it well. Notice
the words:

"Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, When the clouds unfold their
wings of strife? When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain, Will
your anchor drift or firm remain?

It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand, For 'tis well secured by
the Savior's hand; And the cables, passed from His heart to mine, Can defy
that blast, thro' strength divine.

It will firmly hold in the straits of fear, When the breakers have told the
reef is near; Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow, Not an angry
wave shall our bark overflow.

Chorus:
We have an anchor that keeps the soul Steadfast and sure while the billows
roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the
Savior's love."

The writer of Hebrews says it this way: "So God has given both his promise
and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for
God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great
confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong
and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into
God's inner sanctuary." (Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT)

What is your anchor? We all face storms at sometime or another and often we
have periods of calm, but we know that as long as Satan has influence over
people, the storms will come again. What is your anchor in the times of
storms? If it is not God and His Word, then it will never really hold when
the storms come in your life, (cf. Matthew 7:24-29).

Russ Lawson

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