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Monday, May 31, 2010

What did Jesus look like?

THE BIBLE DOES describe the physical appearance of many people...

Moses was said to be a beautiful child. People spoke of King Saul as being handsome, standing a head taller than anyone in Israel. David and Solomon were both "ruddy," handsome men.

But what of Jesus?

Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Not a word about a regal nose, handsome visage, or muscular body. In fact, the Bible tells us virtually nothing about Jesus' looks. Only that he "has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" ( Isa. 53:2 NKJV).

From those words we might presume Jesus wasn't handsome, at least not in the way modern artists portray Him. Apparently, in the mind of God, this was a nonissue. Jesus' words and character and love drew people to Him, not His dashing good looks. (Mark Littleton)

We probably put too much emphasis on a person's outside.

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" ( 1 Sam. 16:7; cf. v. 12). -- Mike Benson


parable of ten virgins


            Wouldn't you like to have revealed to you certain things that have been kept secret since the beginning of the world? You can!  All you need to do is study and rightly divide the parables of our Lord. In Matthew 13:35, a quoted prophecy says about Jesus, "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world." 

            One such parable that is as relevant as tomorrows newspaper, is found in Matthew 25:1-13. This is a parable about ten virgins. By "virgins," it is referring to religious people who are looking to Jesus for salvation in the same principle as Matthew 7:22.  Paul refers to the Lord's church as being made up of "virgins" in 2Corinthians 11:2. By "virgins" he means those who have been born again (John 3:3-5), and have been cleansed from all past sins by the blood of Christ.

            This makes the parable of the "Ten Virgins" disturbing. While all were "virgins," half of them were unable to enter in and be with the Bridegroom. All ten were waiting with great anticipation, but only five were able to enter in. All ten had made preparation to meet the Bridegroom, but only five had made enough preparation. Those who had done all they could do to prepare for the "coming," are called "wise." Those who did too little are called "foolish."

            Many today in denominationalism and other religious organizations, think there is nothing to do toward our salvation. They are wrong.  This parable emphatically teaches we must be "prepared" for the coming of the Bridegroom, our Lord. The New Testament teaches us "how" to prepare.

            Jesus did not tell this parabolic truth to try and scare us - - though some need to be scared by it. He is teaching that we need to be FULLY prepared, because "we knoweth not when the Bridegroom shall come."

            If you could read the obituaries this morning from every newspaper in the world, how many hundreds of thousands of souls do you suppose went into eternity yesterday?  How about in just the past hour?

            When it comes to paying attention to spiritual things, most will procrastinate. That is why well known authors, such as Hal Lindsey, and many others, can get rich by predicting the second coming of Christ. Hal Lindsey predicted Christ's return to take place in 1988. Millions gobbled-up his book because people want to pinpoint the return of the Bridegroom. Why? Because if they learn that Jesus is returning on Sunday morning, they'll wait till Saturday night to "repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38).

            The Bible teaches that we must not put off till tomorrow what we know we should do today, because our life is but a vapor, here for moment, then it vanishes away (James 4:14). "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2Corinthians 6:2b).

            The "five" were not called "foolish" because they were simpletons; they were called foolish because they did not make full preparation to meet the Bridegroom. Even though they had "good intentions;" and even though they were looking forward to His coming, and even though they had made SOME preparation, still, they were shut out because they did not make all the preparations necessary.

            Like many today, they believe and that's it. Some believe and will even confess their belief. Some believe, confess, change their lives, and are even baptized, but there is not enough "oil in their lamp," and they burn out, and therefore cannot "let their light shine" (Matt. 5:16).

            Now, WHY do you suppose Jesus told this parable? What do you think He wants us to learn from it? I'll tell you why; because He doesn't want you to make the same mistake.

            In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells another parable about a "wise" man and a "foolish" man. The one was wise because he was building his life on the solid rock foundation of God's Word. The other was foolish because he built his life on a sandy foundation. Both houses looked the same on the outside, but when the "rains" brought judgment upon the houses, the one built on sand collapsed.

            If Jesus was to use you as example today, would He say you are wise?  or  foolish? -- Toby Miller


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General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic

Neil Hanson conceived an intriguing book idea and the end result he describes in its introduction:
    They are of different nationalities, backgrounds, personalities, and
    circumstances. They are not clichéd stereotypes: Iowa farm-boys,
    chirpy Cockneys, Prussians with bristling moustaches.  They are
    young men, barely beginning life's journey, each with their own hopes,
    fears, ambitions and dreams. Their tracks, faint as smoke in the wind,
    intersect time and again, but they are united only in death, for each
    was killed on the Somme, within gunshot sound of each other, and
    each--like 3 million of their fellows--has no known grave. They
    disappeared as completely as if they had "gone through a mirror,
    leaving only a diminishing shadow." No trace remained; the war had
    claimed even their names. Their story is the story of the Unknown
    Soldiers" (Unknown Soldiers, xiv-xv).
Hanson chose German Paul Hub, Briton Alec  Reader, and American George Seibold.  Somehow, it becomes more gripping when these "unknowns" have a name.  Eventually, many of the countries involved in World War I had organized tributes to those who died without proper burial and consecrated tombs to symbolized all those brave, but anonymous, soldiers who fell in war.

General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, a post-war organization of veterans, decreed General Order No. 11.  It read,
    The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing the flowers,
    or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their
    country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city,
    village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of
    ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange
    such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit
Known originally as Decoration Day, Memorial Day grew out of the respectful desire to honor the dead by maintaining and sprucing up the headstones of those who fell in combat.

As time passes, fewer people are aware of the roots of this holiday and people in fewer numbers turn out to graveyards and cemeteries to perform these tasks.  The sacrifices of our war dead can come to be taken for granted and forgotten.  This is tragic, whether we know the name of the soldier whose remains are interred in that grave or not.  They have given the ultimate to preserve our freedoms, rights, and privileges.  We are the ready recipients of such blessings, and it is fitting for us to remember these heroes.

Somewhere in Palestine, and many have tried to pinpoint rocks and caves as the precise spot, there is the tomb that held Jesus from Friday night to Sunday morning.  While Mary, Peter, John, and others visited that tomb, they found no dead to commemorate.  Thus, there was no need to decorate or memorialize it.  Instead, we memorialize the death, burial, and resurrection through the Lord's Supper each Sunday. Christ's sacrifice gives us every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).  We are saved because of what He gave (1 Tim. 2:4-5).  May we never let the passage of time cause us to forget or neglect. May we ever honor and revere the Hero of Calvary.
Neal Pollard

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day sermon


    Next Monday is Memorial Day.  It is a patriotic holiday set aside to remember those who gave their lives in military service. It is observed the last Monday of May each year.  The government made it a Federal holiday in 1971. No one knows exactly when or where Memorial Day was first observed.  According to tradition, it originated during the Civil War when some Southern women chose May 30 to decorate the graves of both from the Union and Confederate Armies (World Book Encyclopedia "Memorial Day").

    We need to remember those who have given us the freedom and liberties that we enjoy in this country. You may have seen the following as it made the rounds in cyber space, but it is worth reading again:

It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

    Not only are we thankful for those who have given their lives for us, but we are mindful and appreciative of the young men and women who are serving us today through the military.  We are especially mindful of those from this congregation.

A Spiritual Memorial Day

    Each Sunday faithful followers of Christ gather in the appointed assembly for the purpose of a memorial - remembering the death of Christ (Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 11:23ff). Without His death we would still be dead in our sins and iniquities.  But, because of His death we have freedom, forgiveness, and hope of a future home with Him in heaven.  Whereas it has taken the death of thousands to give us the freedoms we enjoy in this country, His blood was so powerful that it took only the death of one to give us spiritual freedom.

    May we never let His death or this memorial become mundane.  May it always be a fresh and real reminder each Lord's Day of the great sacrifice that was made on our behalf.
--Wayne Burger

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

camping in the mountains of Colorado

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, my family was camping in the mountains of Colorado...
We have arrived there late in the afternoon, and we picked out a nice spot close to a beautiful river.  While I was attending to the chores of setting up and organizing our camp, the children went off to play. 
As the sun began to set, we started rounding up the children and hustling them back into our campground before it got completely dark.  Our four-year-old son, Scott, was missing.  The river was making so much noise that my calls were drowned out, and its roar was a constant reminder of danger.
Panic began to build.  Where was he?  Had he wandered out of the campground?  Had he wandered up or down the river?  The last time I saw him, he was playing at the edge of the water with a little boat he had made.
By now you could barely distinguish the camp as the rays of the setting sun were further blocked by the forest.  A chilling reality gripped me.  I only had a few minutes before darkness made my search nearly impossible.
What should I do?
First, I want to tell you some of the things I did not do.
I did not organize any classes on how to find lost children.
I did not hold any rallies to enlist volunteers to help me.
I did not wait until someone came along with was better qualified than I to search.
I did not fail to do anything for fear of doing the wrong thing.
Now, I want to tell you what I did do.
I acted immediately. 
I ran around the campground. 
I dashed up and down the river. 
I called Scott's name, in spite of the roaring river. 
I searched the churning waters. 
I stopped total strangers to describe him, and they joined in the search. 
Nothing else mattered for that period of time.  Finding him was my top priority.
After running all over the campground and up and down the river, I still could not find him.  Not knowing what else to do, I decided to go back to camp to figure out what to do next.  Scott and I arrived at the same time.  He was walking nonchalantly into our campground, oblivious to everything; I was still on a dead run.
An old preacher once said, "If a man has a soul, and he has, and if that soul can be won or lost for eternity, and it can, then the most important thing in the world is to bring a man to Jesus Christ."  (Don Humphrey)
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).
Mike Benson

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Possible New Human Ancestor Found in Siberia

       "Possible New Human Ancestor Found in Siberia."  This was the title of an article I read about a month ago.  As usual, they claim this is "a new and unknown type of pre-human that lived alongside modern humans and Neanderthals" (See Full Article Here).  What always gets me with these "findings," is how they can develop entire pictures, dates, stories, and conclusions about this "ancestor" with a very small amount of evidence.  In this case, they are basing all of this on some genetic material pulled off a pinky finger bone.  Through some type of testing, they concluded this was probably some sort evolutionary ancestor.  They have given it the name "Woman X."
       I think it is awfully interesting how final and absolute these articles make their findings sound.  However, when they are disproven, why do we rarely hear that they were mistaken?  In fact, they usually remain in museums and are taught as fact. Unfortunately, there is an evolutionary bias that shines a positive light on evolution, and tries to hide anything that may be opposed to it. 
       I would like to remind everyone that not one single transition bone has ever been found.  Not even one.  If we truly evolved over a period of billions of years, and there were many different "in-between" stages in our development, then why have scientists never been able to find any of these "in-between" fossils?  We have many fossils of dinosaurs and other creatures that supposedly lived before humans, so obviously these "missing links" did not just disintegrate or disappear with time.  So then where are they?  If we truly follow the evidence, the reason no transitional fossils have been found is simply because there are not any.
       There have been countless claims about finding the "missing link" or the "human ancestor."  However, every one of them has been identified as either a human, an ape, or a fake.  All of the previous missing links such as Lucy, Neanderthal Man, Nebraska Man, Piltdown Man, Java Man, Rhodesian Man, etc, were claimed as missing links. Every single one of these was eventually identified as a human, an ape, or a fake combination (Brad Harrub and Burt Thompson, The Truth About Human Origins).  While this newest "ancestor" has not been disproved yet, consistency tells us that it is only a matter of time before it will be.
       The Lord has very clearly told us how everything came into existence (Genesis 1-2).  There is overwhelming evidence not only to support God's existence, but that this earth was created by Him.  God has not hidden this fact from us, but is "clearly seen" by those who are honestly looking (Romans 1:19-21).  No matter what evidence appears against the Lord, let's never lose heart. True science always agrees with God and the Bible.
Brett Petrillo

Monday, May 24, 2010

What is repentance?

What is a good definition for "repentance?"  How should we define "repentance?
Repentance is "a regret for the ill done in that past, and out of all this a change of life for the better" (Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 259).

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The value of remembering

Neal Pollard
What system do you have for remembering things? I am not sure what the connection is, but some people tie a string around their finger to remember an important date or appointment.  Some people just write on their hand.  Others live day a day-timer, PDA, blackberry, or iPad.

What do we do to keep from forgetting what is important to us spiritually?  Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:12-13 that he was stirring them up by reminding them.  Studying God's Word awakens our memory to things we may have forgotten, things we have not looked deeply into in the past, or brings something to our attention in a way it has not previously.  It is noteworthy that he was reminding them of something they already knew.  False teachers were trying to distract and deceive them from what they knew.

Bible study is good for us to keep from falling into the traps of false teaching. Many of us come to the Lord from religious groups that teach something different from the Bibile about salvation, worship, the end of time, leadership, or the like.  Keep your Bible and your heart open to what you study, and you will keep reminding yourself of the joy and blessings of New Testament Christianity.

Later in the letter, Peter writes, "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior" (3:1-2).  That covers everything--the Old Testament and the New Testament.  It is also a reminder that if you live another 50 or 75 years, you will always need to study and remind yourself of what the Bible says on every subject.

If you have ever lost or forgotten something important that cost you in some way, you learned the value of remembering.  If you have ever been to a memorial or monument, you have benefited from that reflection.  If you want to grow in your faith and knowledge, be stirred up by being reminded of the important, spiritual things revealed in Scripture.
--Neal Pollard

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Jonah's "great commission."


            Yesterday, I preached on Jonah's "great commission." Here is one man given a commission by God to evangelize the city of Nineveh. One man given the task to evangelize over 190 square miles. Most of us know the story well. Jonah didn't want to do it; he tried to run away from the responsibility; and he didn't even like the people to whom he was to preach. However, God convinced him, rather dramatically, that he was going to do it anyway.  So, with "whale-driven determination," Jonah goes to the plush city of an estimated 60,000 people, and begins preaching, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be over-thrown!"

            What if God had given "us" this commission? That is, what if God had told the modern church to evangelize such an area? How would we react?  Well, we would probably have to form committees and consider our approach;  we would have to section-off the city into various districts; we would have to obtain hundreds of ministers (pulpit ministers, youth ministers, family counseling ministers, music ministers, etc.).  We would then have to construct hundreds of buildings in order to have places for the people to come and hear the preaching. Next, we would have to wait till we had enough money to finance the mission. 

            What I am saying is this: Sometimes the machinery that we think we need to carry out our responsibilities to the "Great Commission" of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20), or even evangelize our own area, become so bogged down with technical preparation, the work never gets done.  However, in this event, God uses one ordinary man to preach a simple, monotonous, negative sermon, that resulted in the salvation of the entire city.

            God no longer raises up individual prophets like Jonah - - He doesn't have to, because He has raised up an individual "BODY" to prophesy to the world - - His church.

            One of the most encouraging points to me is considering "why" God sent Nineveh a preacher in the first place.  They were a heathen nation steep in sin, yet He sent them a preacher with a message. The answer lies in Ezekiel 33:11, "I take no delight in the death of the wicked."  I'm wondering why God would ever destroy the wicked if He takes no pleasure in doing so. After all, He is God. He shouldn't have to do anything He doesn't delight in. However, the answer lies within the question:  "Because He is God."  Because God is "Light" (John 8:12), it's impossible for Him to fellowship darkness (1John 1:5). Light always dispenses darkness. If  we retain "darkness" in our life, we are not in fellowship with God. That's why we have to have our "darkness" (sins), washed away in the blood of Christ by repentance, baptism, and obedience of faith before we can be in God's Family. This is also why Hell is referred to as a "place of outer darkness" (Matt. 25:30) - - because God is not in Hell.

            God spared Nineveh this time because they repented. About 160 years later, they fell back into sin, refused to repent, and God destroyed them.

            The very fact that the world remains today is proof that God desires our salvation. And though He cannot fellowship sin, we can have our sins washed away by the blood of Christ. There's only one way to be saved and that's by obedience to the Gospel (Romans 1:16).  But, like always, from the Garden of Eden to the present day, God gives us the choice.   Stay Hungry (Matt. 5:6) - - Toby Miller


Important life lessons

It's been a while since I did an editorial consisting of several short lessons instead of just one main topic and I think I'll try that again today. I've saved up several little thoughts that I felt needed to be considered but, taken individually, they just didn't fill up an entire editorial space. Here they are in no particular order, just sort of randomly offered.

First thought: If you're like me you probably don't like taking tests, especially those of the "medical" type. Well, the other day they were talking on the radio about something called a "Successful Aging Exposition." It's designed to teach people how to age. Let me ask you, doesn't that sort of come naturally? I think so and if there's a test involved I'm pretty sure that I can "ace" that puppy.

Next thought: I'm going to talk for a moment about the thought of "worth" in the sense of the "value" of something. Where this thought originated was from a little blurb I happened across that was written by a newsman about a well-known government official from the Vietnam era administration following his death. He wrote concerning this official: He was "The original bean-counter. A man who knew the cost of everything, but the worth of nothing."

I immediately thought about the Jews of Christ's day when I read that piece. About how Jesus told them in Matthew the 23rd chapter basically the same thing in regards to what was important about the Law. That they knew it, at least their version of it, down to the Nth degree, IE: "the cost", but they did not know the value or the worth of it. (Verse 23)

In further looking at those people and that time, Jesus also taught them and us, a lesson about the value, the worth of something. In Matt. 16:26 He asked them a rhetorical question that shows us this lesson. He asked, "For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul." When you examine that trade, it's a poor bargain. One has not realized the "worth" of the deal, because they've traded something "eternal" for something "temporary."

Before we leave this thought of "worth" allow me to remind you of what the Jews back then thought the Messiah, the Savior of the world, was "worth." In Matt. 27:9 we see that they "Took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was valued, whom they or the children of Israel did value." Don't you agree with me when I say that they knew the cost, but had no inkling of the "worth," the "value?"

Next thought: A couple of months ago I presented a lesson about the Holy Spirit being a "guide." I'd like to comment a little further on the idea of our "guide" here for just a moment. This little thought popped into my head as I was reading the words in the title of an old familiar hymn, written by Fanny J. Crosby. When one recalls that she was blind, these words take on even more meaning. The song: "All The Way My Savior Leads Me."

This thought is short and sweet. In the form of a question; What better a guide can one have?" Who better to follow "all the way?" All the way to where? The Father in heaven and eternal life there. And, another way of looking at the words "all the way" is to recognize that they mean "in everything."

Next thought: Like me, I'm sure that many of you have seen some of the commercials on television advertizing some type of medicine that is supposed to help people overcome "depression." And I'm fully aware that, in many cases, depression is a form of mental illness and I'm not addressing that form of depression here in this thought. I'm going to offer my opinion of what I feel causes a lot of people to be "depressed" at times.

It has to do with many of the factors of our current economic situation and that I fully agree can be depressing. Perhaps that's why the financial experts refer to it as a "Depression" because it "depresses" so many people. Anyway, I feel that one of the mitigating factors leading people to be depressed is that "they spend too much time thinking about what thy DON'T have versus what they DO have."

It's my opinion that Christians should not suffer this type of depression. I'm speaking here of the depression that comes from worrying over material things. That a true Christian won't be depressed over something they DON'T have. And the reason they shouldn't is because they are aware of what they DO have - the "blessings" that come from being "in Christ."

These consist of "spiritual blessings" and not the possession of "material things." And one of the greatest "blessings" that relate to our lives here on earth is the blessing of "peace." As in "peace of mind" that allows us to avoid being depressed over a lack of "things." Because we recognize that "things" are only relegated to this life, this world, and that they will pass away. They won't survive the end of the world as it's pictured in God's Word.

What's the ultimate "blessing" to the faithful Christian? To find the answer to that question, let's just look at a couple of closing passages. The first one is in Rev. 22:7 where it reads: "Behold I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

And then the one that brings this all home to us, Rev. 22:14: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Let's always keep this in mind as we journey through this life and allow me to give you one more thought to keep in mind about our Christian journey.

    We are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience.

    We are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience.

Ron Covey

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Fog on North Atlantic Ocean

The darkness seemed especially deep because of the fog that hovered over the North Atlantic Ocean . In contrast, the atmosphere aboard the Italian luxury liner was light and festive. Farewell parties were in progress as the ocean liner was to dock in New York City harbor the following day.

Suddenly a sharp, unexpected lurch of the ship, coupled with a grinding crash and flickering lights, sent a panic among the passengers. Then the ship stabilized, and the lights returned to a steady brightness. The passengers began to calm down, and a deceptively reassuring voice was reported to have come over the ship's intercom. Again and again the resonant voice said, "This is no emergency."

But a 30-foot gash in the ocean liner's side where the sharp bow of the Swedish liner Stockholm had struck the Andrea Doria was left gaping open to the sea. In a matter of hours the Andrea Doria slithered beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic , and fifty people died that summer night in 1956. *

God's Word warns of "danger ahead" for this world:

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).

The "Day of the Lord" will be a day of Judgment for ALL.  "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

 The Risen One who will judge the World is Jesus, God's Son.  One day "He will judge the world in righteousness," but NOW He is the Savior of the world. 

Our sins condemn us along with the world.  But because of His great love for us, God gave His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).  Through His atoning sacrifice, those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Christ before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38) have their sins washed away.  Then, as long as one continues to "walk in the light" of His Word, the blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse him from sin (1 John 1:7).

Those who accept His offer of salvation on His terms need not fear the Judgment to come, for they have prepared themselves by being clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27).  For them, Jesus' return is welcomed, not feared.

That summer night in 1956 fifty people died in the North Atlantic Ocean because they thought that the danger was not real.  What happened to them PHYSICALLY can happen to us SPIRITUALLY - UNLESS we heed the warnings and submit our lives to the Savior, who one day, be our Judge.

Won't YOU accept the Savior's offer?

David A. Sargent, Minister

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Falling off the edge of a cliff

I heard a story recently about three kids who went camping in the mountains. While high in the mountains they came to the edge which had a steep and long drop. Two of the three kids stayed away from the edge because they knew the great danger that it could present. However, one of the kids wanted to see exactly how deep the drop off was, so he walk towards the edge. He knew that danger presented it self but that did not detour him, his curiosity was too strong. When this young man came near to the cliff he slipped on some loose gravel. Had he fallen off the cliff death would certainly be the outcome. Luckily, as he was sliding ever closer to this great ravine he was able to grab onto a near by shrub. This kept him from plummeting to his death. I found this story interesting because it reminds me of what so many do with their Christian lives. They risk great danger by continually putting themselves in the way of temptation. Scripture continually encourages us to flee from sin. Paul told Timothy to "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (II Timothy 2:22). If we are truly pursuing righteousness there is simply no way that we can flirt with sin. Let us always be people who flee from sin and peruse righteousness. If we stay away from the cliff there is no way for us to fall off.
Garrett Bookout

John Kanary, Chicken Soup for the Soul

The following story comes from John Kanary in "Chicken Soup for the

Charlie Boswell was blinded during World War II while rescuing his
friend from a tank that was under fire. He was a great athlete before his
accident and in a testimony to his talent and determination he decided to
try a brand new sport, a sport he never imagined playing, even with his
eyesight .!

Through determination and a deep love for the game he became the
National Blind Golf Champion! He won that honor 13 times. One of his heroes
was the great golfer Ben Hogan, so it truly was an honor for Charlie to win
the Ben Hogan Award in 1958.

Upon meeting Ben Hogan, Charlie was awestruck and stated that he had
one wish and it was to have one round of golf with the great Ben Hogan. Mr.
Hogan agreed that playing a round together would be an honor for him as
well, as he had heard about all of Charlie's accomplishments and truly
admired his skills.

"Would you like to play for money, Mr. Hogan?" blurted out Charlie.

"I can't play you for money, it wouldn't be fair!" said Mr. Hogan.

"Aw, come on, Mr. Hogan.....$1,000 per hole!"

"I can't, what would people think of me, taking advantage of you and
your circumstance," replied the sighted golfer.

"Chicken, Mr. Hogan?"

"Okay," blurted a frustrated Hogan, "but I am going to play my best!"

"I wouldn't expect anything else," said the confident Boswell.

"You're on Mr. Boswell, you name the time and the place!"

A very self-assured Boswell responded: "10 o'clock . . . tonight!"

Timing is everything! As Solomon said, "To everything there is a
season, a time for every purpose under heaven." (Eccl. 3:1). But the problem
for me has always been doing or saying something at the right time. So
often, I'll leave a conversation and hours later be thinking, "That's what I
should have said!", but it's too late, the time has passed.

Solomon also said, "A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a
word spoken in due season, how good it is!" (Prov. 15:23), or as the NCV
translates it, "People enjoy giving good advice. Saying the right word at
the right time is so pleasing."

Father, may the words I speak today be "the right words at the right
time" both to be of help to others and to be a glory to You. In Jesus' name,

Alan Smith

BP oil spill

Early this morning, I heard about Greenpeace activists storming the British Petroleum building in London, England, yesterday.  They were reacting to the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and unleashed a potential environmental disaster along the U.S. gulf coast.  On St. Jame's Square, near Pall Mall, Greenpeace "campaigners" scaled the building and unfurled a banner with the words "british polluters" on it.  On their web site, the organization makes it clear that offshore drilling, "oil addiction," and the extraction and development of oil and gas are offensive and undesirable.  A read of their charter leaves one with the unmistakeable impression that they would consider the cessation of drilling and manufacture of petroleum-based products (like oil and gas) environmental nirvana (some content from and "The Guardian," 5/20/10).  With all that in mind, I could not help but ask, "How do these activists get to these protests?"  Do they always walk or ride their bikes?  Do they ever take a bus, car, or plane to these events?

Consistency may be a jewel, but it is a rarity!  All of us struggle with making our message match our manifestation and making our declarations square up with our deeds.  We are all better at telling others how to improve themselves, even if oblivious to our own path to betterment.

The Bible often speaks about the greater need for "self examination" than "brother inspection."  Jesus warned against speck hunting in the other guy, even as we struggle to peer over the lumber in our own eye (Mt. 7:2-5).  We can do this as parents regarding the way others rear their children (or we might have the audacity to try without the benefit of parental experience ourselves).  We might be eager and desirous of correcting a fallen brother, blind to spiritual impediments that hinder our effectiveness in such "outreach."  Hypocrisy is distasteful, especially when our brother or sister is guilty of it.

We do not want to see wildlife destroyed in the production of oil, but such radical response is often fraught with inconsistency.  In our own lives, let us be careful not to own uneven scales.  Instead, let us be charitable, patient, and spiritual in our attempts to help others (cf. Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:32).  We will be better respected and infinitely better received.
--Neal Pollard

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bear Creek Trail

Bob Turner and I began running together around Labor Day, 2008.  We've already logged well over a thousand miles together, and as you might imagine in that distance and the length of time that takes to accomplish we have had some experiences.  We have run in cold, sleet, snow, rain, and more than once have tried to traverse layers of ice.  We see walkers, runners, and bikers of all stripes and varieties, but the furrier wildlife has been diverse and interesting, too.  We have run past elk, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, hawks, owls, prairie dogs, and squirrels.  Only once did we not try to shoo or run past an animal.  In a pre-dawn run a few months ago, we saw a skunk on the Bear Creek Trail.  What's more, he had his tail in the air.  I have never felt more deference and respect for a creature than I did that fateful morning.  We waited patiently for him to assess us as a non-threat and to decide to meander away from the trail.  Then, we proceeded with hastened pace.

Why do you give more humble submission to a ten-pound stinker than a thousand-pound bull elk?  Both can do you harm, but the kinds of harm stands in stark contrast.  All those animals must be handled with care, but it is harder to do that with a skunk than the others.  They are equipped and ready to take aim at perceived threats in a way only time and tomato juice can heal.

We all encounter skunks on the road.  I am not talking about the little black ones with a white stripe down the back.  I mean the hypersensitive, chip-on-the-shoulder, perpetually offended, type.  The kind who are looking for slights and offenses to which they can offer ready retaliation--the lashers, the strikers, and the reactors.  

When I think of Jesus, I cannot envision a Man listening for the barb in Thaddeus' remark or looking for the slight in Thomas' behavior.  He knew what was in the hearts of all men (John 2:25), but that did not make avoiding hypersensitivity easier.  Imagine how you would feel toward others if you knew with perfect clarity what they were thinking about you at all times.  He was truly offended by so many (1 Pet. 2:23), but He did not respond in kind.  

I want to be more like Jesus.  That means I am going to be more like a lamb and less like a skunk.  I will try to put the best construction on people's motives, thoughts, words, and actions.  I don't have to be naive or fearful to do that.  I have to be patient, wise, understanding, and full of self-discipline to do that.  Surely, I will want to strive toward that!  It will help me not to be a stinker that others would rather avoid!

Neal Pollard

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flooding in Nashville, TN

       Many of us are aware of the devastating flood that happened in the Nashville area not long ago (as well as other parts in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky).  While I have seen reports and pictures, it is still hard to comprehend the pain many people have gone through.  With over a billion dollars in damage and many killed, this has truly been a tragedy.
       I recently watched a video report of what people were experiencing and, surprisingly, I was very encouraged with some of their attitudes.  When asked if she was worried, one particular woman responded, "Yeah...but I'm gonna be okay.  We're gonna be okay" (Click Here for Video).  This particular statement really stood out to me because she is exactly right. Things are very hard right now, but they will be okay.  It may not happen for months or even years, but sooner or later things will be okay.
       In our personal lives, there is no telling what tragedies we may have to face.  However, one thing is for certain, "We're gonna be okay." See, we serve the One who created and controls everything.  No matter what we face in this life, we are going to be ok.  While we may not always get everything we want, God will take care of our needs (Matthew 6:25-34).  Even when the Lord decides our life is finished, to those who are faithful He has promised an unfathomable life of happiness with Him (2 Corinthians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 1:4).  If this is not hope in the midst of tragedy, then what is?  May we always keep pressing towards the goal no matter what trials we face.  Let's remember the words of Job 1:21-22, "'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the LORD.'  Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God."  --Brett Petrillo

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Does God test us or tempt us?

YOU MIGHT ASK, "Why does God need to test us...?
Doesn't He know everything, including what we would do in every situation?"  Yes, God knows--but we don't!  God doesn't test us in order to find out something He doesn't already know.  He tests us so that we can learn about ourselves and His love, power and faithfulness.
In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah.  Isaac was Abraham's only son by his wife, Sarah--the son God had promised to Abraham.  By demanding that Isaac be sacrificed, God seemed to be nullifying His covenant of making a great nation out of Abraham.  How could God's promise be fulfilled if Isaac was dead?
God tested Abraham to reveal whether or not Abraham truly trusted His promise.  Yes, God knew what Abraham would do, but He wanted Abraham to know as well.  So God put Abraham to the test--and Abraham passed it.  As Abraham raised his knife to sacrifice his own son, God stopped him and provided a sacrificial ram instead.
THOUGHT: Every test involves obedience in one way or another.  When God tests us, He reveals the true state of our hearts.  (Os Hillman)
"Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart" (Psalm 26:2).
--Mike Benson

Monday, May 17, 2010

Teenagers and the church


Christian Ethics & Youth


    There is the tendency for older Christians to kind of "shrug-off" the younger Christians. "Ah, they're the church of tomorrow."  Well, that's true, but they are also important members of the church today, and if we older Christians don't uphold our responsibilities to them, there won't be any church "tomorrow."

    In too many aspects, we expect nothing from our young Christians. We joke about how they "have to sow their wild oats!" In too many areas, we even encourage them to be just like all the other young people in the world who have never committed themselves to Jesus Christ.

            The command to "seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first" is not only given to older Christians, but also the young.  Is the command to "exercise yourself unto godliness" and, "be an example of them that believe" (1Tim. 4:7 & 12), a goal that older Christians only should strive for, or should it include the young as well?  Paul instructs Timothy, "Let no one despise thy youth" (1Tim. 4:12). That is, don't behave in such a way that people consider you too immature to be taken seriously.

            In God's divine plan, it is in the home where young people are to find their primary encouragement for spiritual growth (Eph. 6:4) - - but in order for this to be accomplished, our children must realize their subordination and submission to parental jurisdiction (Eph. 6:1).

            It is no strange thing that to be qualified for the Eldership, Christian men must be able to rule their own house according to the Bible (1Tim. 3:4). If they cannot rule their own house according to the Bible, they will not be able to rule God's House according to the Bible.

            If the young Christian is still living at home, he is expected to obey his parents as well as the Eldership. If the young Christian cannot obey his parents whom he can see, how can he obey God whom he cannot see? (1John 4:20).

            Even if the young Christian is still in school, he is to be careful "to keep his behavior seemly among the Gentiles" (1Pet. 2:12). Some will undoubtedly say, "Toby, I think that's asking a little too much from our young people who have been baptized into Christ!"  "Oh? Well, why then were they baptized into Christ?"

            A young man was once brought before Alexander the Great guilty of a crime. Alexander the Great asked him, "What is your name?" The young man replied, "Alexander."  The great Grecian leader commanded, "Either change your name, or change your life."  The same principle applies to Christianity: either change your life, or stop calling yourself a Christian. Somewhere the polluted modern day definition of what it means to be a true Bible Christian has to be challenged (cf. 1John 4:1).

            Christians of all ages should/must be in the process of allowing the Holy Spirit to change their lives into the image of Christ (2Corinthians 3:18), and that is accomplished by following the Holy Spirit inspired Word.  But this is becoming extremely difficult because the Word of God is being proclaimed from pulpits around the world in much less clarity than in decades gone by. It seems that a generation has arisen "that knoweth not God" (cf. Judges 2:10), or at least has lost its ability to discern truth from error (cf. Ezekiel 44:23).

            My advice to young people is: Don't be just another leaf that blows in the wind;  Don't be just another drop of water that runs down the gutter;  Don't let peer-pressure turn you into just another puppet;  and don't let the desire to be "popular" put you on a dead-end street.  Be somebody that's worth being – be different – be peculiar (Titus 2:14) – "come out from among them and be ye separate" (2Cor. 6:17) – be a Christian, and "let your manner of life be worthy of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:27a).

                                                                                                                                                 - - Toby Miller

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Breaking free from sin - a sermon on how to get out of sin

--Mike Benson

Friday, May 14, 2010

An illustration of kind speech

"Níor bhris focal maith fiacail riamh."

"A good word never broke a tooth."

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

What is 710? 710 is OIL spelled upside down

I heard about a lady (I won't speculate as to what color her hair was) who went into an auto parts store. She asked for a seven-ten cap.

The employees all looked at each other and say, "What's a seven-ten cap?"

She says, "You know, it's right on the engine. Mine got lost somehow and I need a new one."

"What kind of a car is it on," they ask. Perhaps it was an old Datsun 710 but no, she says, "It's a Buick."

"OK, lady, how big is it?"

She makes a circle with her hands about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

"What does it do?" they ask.

She says, "I don't know, but its always been there."

One of the employees gives her a note pad and asks her if she can draw a picture of it. So she makes a circle about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and in the center she writes 710.

The guys behind the counter are looking at it upside down as she writes it...and they just fall down behind the counter because they are laughing so hard.

One guy finally says, "I think you want an oil cap."

She says, "Seven-ten cap, oil cap, I don't care what you call it, I just need one, and I don't see what is so funny about it."

(by the way, in case you haven't figured it out by now, the word "OIL" upside down looks like "710")

Perspective makes all the difference. Things look differently when we look at them upside down. I'm reminded of the Christians in Thessalonica who were accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). The truth, though, they were turning the world right-side up. We live in a world that looks at things upside-down.

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5:20).

The world looks at material things and calls them "items of great value." It looks at sin and immorality and calls it "good and right." It looks at lies and calls them "truth." It can be very confusing unless we realize the need to turn things around and look at them from an eternal perspective.

If things in your life "don't look quite right," perhaps you've been looking at things upside-down and you need to allow God to help you to turn things around.

Alan Smith
First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

F. Barn Morrison and The Sucker Festival

   "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." (Psa. 2:12)

That's a statement by the Psalmist David, described by God as being "a man after His own heart." (1Sam. 13:14 & Acts 13:22) In fact, if you run a reference on the word trust, you'll find that David referred to trusting in God many times in the Psalms. I'd like to take that word and that thought for our lesson today.

When you think about it, God is the absolute only one you can trust in. The Apostle Paul said that we shouldn't even trust in ourselves (1Cor. 1:9) and if we can't trust ourselves, it stands to reason that we can't really trust anyone else in this world. Without getting in to a lot of elaboration, let's just make the point this way: Have you ever trusted in someone or something and been disappointed? I rest my case!

Back in 1950 a man by the name of F. Barn Morrison came to the little town of Wetumka, Oklahoma. He persuaded the towns people to put up a sum of money to be used to bring a circus to town. They didn't know him, but he must have appeared to be trustworthy because they donated the money to him and went about preparing for the coming of the circus.

They bought lots of food and beverages and souvenirs to be sold to all of the people who were bound to come to the circus. Everyone was tremendously excited over the thought of a circus actually coming to their little town. Children just couldn't wait.

Well, you can easily guess what happened. All their joy turned to misery when they learned that Mr. Morrison had skipped out of town with the money and no circus was coming. They had been had. They were victims of having placed their trust in another human being. I guess we could say that they had "misplaced their trust."

But that is not an isolated incident, is it? We are victims of this all the time. Everyone of us has misplaced our trust many times over and as long as we inhabit this body and this world, we'll no doubt be guilty of doing so again. There is always someone out there who will deceive us, or delude us into doing something (or not doing something) because we "trust them."

But, just like everything else about "earthly life" this doesn't apply to God. He is the only entity that mankind can trust. That's because everything about this world changes, but God is not of this world. He changes not (Mal. 3:6). We trust Him and we trust His Word.

Here's something I don't know if you've ever thought about. Trust with God is a two-way street. What I mean by that is this; Paul says in 1 Tim. 4:10 that "we trust in the living God..." And, as David said, we're "blessed" by doing so. That's one side of the street.

The other side of the street is, that God trusts us. Maybe you never thought of it this way, but He has entrusted Christians with the most valuable treasure ever - the Gospel. And "treasure" is exactly the right word. Paul tells us in 2Cor. 4:7 that the "glorious Gospel" (the treasure) has been placed in "earthen vessels" (us). This treasure is the power by which mankind can receive salvation, therefore eternal life. I ask you, what could possibly be more valuable?

We believe in God and His Word, and because of that belief we trust Him to fulfil that which He has promised. And because we trust Him, we obey Him. And, if we can trust him to reward those who are obedient, we can also trust Him to punish those who are not because He also promises that.

Think about this little lesson as we close today. In 1Thess. 2:4 we read that we are "allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel..." It's entrusted unto us for one reason. Not to be hidden away or hoarded, but to teach it to the world. Perhaps you've never considered just how much trust God has in you. So much so that He's trusted you with the most valuable thing He ever gave to the world.

In light of that thought, you have to ask yourself this question. Can God count on you to handle it right? Or, has He misplaced His trust?

                "As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried:

                 He is a shield to all those that trust in Him." (Psa. 18:30)

Ron Covey

Epilogue: Just in case you might be wondering what happened back in Wetumka, Oklahoma, allow me to tell you, ala Paul Harvey, the rest of the story. Since they had lots of food, beverages and stuff gathered for the circus that wasn't coming, they decided to hold a town party anyway. Since everyone was already prepared to have a good time, and it wouldn't interfere with anything else, they had a four-day celebration and named it "The Sucker Festival." The town has continued the festival almost every year since.

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at  Other Bible commentary material from includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book coupon - discount coupon for Bible books

If you are in the market for Bible commentary and Bible study material, you may wish to visit, a web site that offers a variety of Bible study and Bible commentary information. Now there is even a "coupon" that can be used when ordering the Bible commentaries from the web site; here is the link:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fred Astaire

"The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any."

Fred Astaire, American film and Broadway stage dancer (1899-1987)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tithing: Should I tithe?

Have you questions about "tithes" and "tithing?" Wondering if you should "pay a tithe" at the place where you worship? Ever wonder what the Bible says about "church giving?" Through get a new article on "tithing" – learn what the Bible says about tithes on line here -

If you are interested in God and Christianity, you may also be interested in check out the special study on "New Testament Christianity" located here:

Doctrine simply means teaching.


This Saturday (May 15th), I'll be speaking on a Lectureship at the church in Defiance, Ohio on the assigned subject: "Doctrine, Does It Matter?"

            Doctrine simply means "teaching." When Jesus said in John 7:16, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me," He was referring to His teaching. That is, His teaching / doctrine was God's doctrine.

            In John 14:26, and 16:13, Jesus told His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit upon them, and the Holy Spirit would inspire them to teach only what He taught – which was God's doctrine. This means that whether Jesus Himself taught it, or the inspired apostles taught it, each word had its origin from the mind of God the Father.

            In John 7:16, Jesus said, "My doctrine…"  Please note that the word "doctrine" is singular. Therefore, God did not have Jesus and the apostles teach different conflicting doctrines. When we find various conflicting "church doctrines" today, be assured they are not God's doctrines, for God cannot contradict Himself.

            There is only ONE way to know we have the absolute truth that God intended us to have and that is to interpret every verse so that it harmonizes with every other verse. When we do this, we have a beautiful melody like that which the angels sang at the birth of our Lord.

            Problem is, the majority of religious people simply shop around through the smorgasbord of religion and put only those things on their plate that suits their life-style, then erroneously refer to themselves as "Christians."  True Bible doctrine is not about what we "like" or "dislike." It is about what God says is necessary for us to do that will allow Him to save us through the blood of Christ.

            Since God "never changes" (Malachi 3:6), and Jesus "is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), and since there is "no variation, not even a shadow of turning with God" (James 1:17b), then whatever Jesus taught in the first century is the same that He teaches in the 21st century, because He never changes!  If Jesus condemned adultery in the 1st century, He condemns it today, because He never changes; if He condemned false religions in the 1st century, He condemns it today, because He never changes. Jesus had only ONE doctrine in the 1st century, so He has only ONE today, because He never changes.

            Jesus established only one church in the 1st century, so He has only one church today, because He never changes. The one church of Jesus Christ is not governed by 400+ doctrines that we see in modern denominationalism today.  Each individual denominational church is governed by a different doctrine that sets them apart from every other denominational church. Yet all these different churches that teach different doctrines, claim to be a part of the one church that is governed by the one doctrine that Jesus taught!  That is a lie propagated by the "father of all liars" (John 8:44).

            Reading through the NT, we read of the "doctrine of Christ" (2John 9);  the "doctrine of Balaam" and "doctrine of the Nicolaitans" (Rev. 2:14-15). We read of the "doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt. 16:12; "doctrines of demons" (1Tim. 4:1); "various and strange doctrines;" "destructive doctrines" (2Peter 2:1); and "the doctrines of men" (Colossians 2:22). While most would not purposely follow "doctrines of demons," they are easily persuaded to blindly follow the "doctrines of men," both of which are condemned.

            Does doctrine matter?  The answer is either "Yes" or "No." It cannot be: "It kind of matters," or "It matters some of the time." The answer is either "Yes it does matter," or  "No it does not matter."

            Men try to change the doctrine of Christ to adjust to our changing society. God is NOT adjustable!  On the Great Judgment Day, Methodist will not be judged according to Methodist doctrine; Baptist will not be judged by Baptist doctrine; Catholics will not be judged by Catholic doctrine; Pentecostals will not be judged by Pentecostal doctrine, etc.  All the world will be judged by the "Doctrine of Christ" (John 12:48). We must love it – believe it – and obey it.

- - Toby Miller

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How to be saved

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