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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A sermon on suffering


. .
--Mike Benson


Monday, June 28, 2010

Illustration of The Old Rugged Cross

            We are all familiar with the untouchable classic hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross."  When my wife and I lived and worked in England, several Christians would go down to the busy town square in Birmingham on Saturday afternoons and sing hymns for a couple of hours. Others handed out tracts to those passing by.  

            The majority would simply look at us and walk on by, until we began singing "The Old Rugged Cross." Many would stop and listen to all four verses. 

            There is something about that "Old Rugged Cross," that touches our deepest emotions. Why is that? Is it because when we come face to face with the Cross, we see ourselves as we really are? While many are good at putting on new veneer everyday, the Cross peels it away and exposes us for what we really are, sinners in need of loving forgiveness.  

            You may keep your mind occupied in many different ways and never give the Cross a second thought. You may be like the majority who enjoys looking at the "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger," but when it comes to looking at the Cross, well, they would rather stand back and look at it from a distance. You can get away with that, but only for a little while. There will come a day when you will be forced to consider the One who hung on that "Old Rugged Cross."  Will it be too late? Will the door already be shut? (Matthew 25:10-12). 

            Even though Jesus said the majority would follow the broad path that leads to destruction, why don't you determine to be one of the "few" who finds and follows the narrow path that leads to life eternal (Matthew 7:13-14).  The first step is looking long and hard at "The Old Rugged Cross."  Does it have your name on it? (Psalm 69:28;  Revelation 20:15).   

--Toby Miller

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The peace of the Bible

For a few moments today I'd like to talk to you about something that I really, really love. Something that I, and I believe all of us, long for. Something that we've never totally seen in our lives, but someday hope to attain. Perhaps I should say strive to attain. What I'm talking about is "peace."

Oh, we've had peaceful moments in our lives, but we've never really ever had "total peace," have we. There's just always been something come along or happen that disrupts what short period of peace we were enjoying. And because we've never really had "total peace" in our lives, I believe that it's like infinity or eternity, it's beyond our human comprehension. At least it is for me.

In just a moment I'm going to direct your thoughts to a place and a time where "total peace" will reign eternally. Of course, I'm talking about heaven and we're going to look at the passages that describe heaven to us. We'll look at the allegories and the metaphors used to try and convey to us what a wonderful place heaven is and I say "try" because that's about all they can do when we're dealing with the finite minds of humans. But, beyond the unimaginable beauty described to us, lies this "something" we're looking at for our lesson today - "peace."

I think that I've mentioned to you before that one of our "earthly, temporal" things that I like is old movies. Now you're probably saying to yourself right now, "What's old movies got to do with "peace?" so I'll just try and connect it for you.

If you go back to a time when movies were made that didn't have all the filth and gore, all of the profanity and glorified violence, you'll see (and possibly remember) when movies entertained us without all of those aforementioned items. They had good plots and stories to them. You could even tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys" and even the bad ones didn't use the language so prevalent in today's movies.

One of the things that I appreciate about the old movies is that, much of the time, they portray "peaceful times." Maybe we can even say "innocent times." You know, when the teenagers met at the "malt shop" or the local "drug store." We don't have "drug stores" where I live now, we have "pharmacies." They're not the same thing. In many small towns across America you'll still find "drug stores" with some still having soda fountains and charging 5 cents for a cup of coffee. I miss not having "drug stores." Do you?

But what I'm getting at here is, that we were seeing "peaceful times" being portrayed in the movies. I'm hard-pressed to think of a movie of recent vintage that portrayed anything like "peace." And, I'm not even going to get into where today's teens hangout or what they do. I think all of us have a pretty good idea of those things without me enlarging on them.

When I look at those "peaceful times" I think about how NOT peaceful we are today. That we'll never have total or utter peace while living on this earth. While living in the "plain," this "dimension" of time. So let's look at some passages that tell us why we can never know true "peace" here on earth.

Allow me to refer you to my aforementioned "allegories and metaphors" that describe heaven to us. The 21st chapter of Revelation is where we find the descriptors of heaven given by the Apostle John. I'm not going to mention all of them, but just some that tell us why we'll live eternally in "total peace" there.

If you read verse 4 you'll see that there will be no more "tears." There won't be any reason for crying. There won't be anything there to cause "sorrow." There won't be any "pain." And especially, there won't be anymore "death" of loved ones. Wouldn't you agree with me that those three things have a dramatic effect upon any "peace" in our mortal lives?

And, here's another reason there will be "total peace" in heaven: if you look at verse 8 you'll see that all of the other sources of turmoil in our lives will also be eliminated. Read with me those things that are opposed to "peace." All of the "fearful (cowardly) and the faithless, the abominable (detestable), the murderers and whoremongers (sexually immoral), the sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars" absolutely won't be there. Why? Because they have their own eternal place made exclusively for them. The "lake which burneth with fire and brimstone..."

Now think about what we just read together. Wouldn't we have "peace" here if all of those entities were not present? Absotively, posilutely! But alas, we know that this world has had those kinds of people, those whose activities are opposed to "peace," almost from its very creation. And we also know that they will occupy space in our earthly lives as long as we live in this temporal plain.

Only when this world passes away will God's people know "total peace." And, as we saw in our study, that will be because all of the things that are opposite to "peace" will no longer be among us. What a glorious existence to look forward to.

In closing our thoughts here about "peace" and heaven, let me try and draw you what I envision as a beautiful picture. When we think about arriving in this place of "peace," and we think about our loved ones already there, let me draw your attention to a couple more descriptors of heaven. In Rev. 21:21 we see where the "street of the city is pure gold" and then in 22:1 we read where there's a "crystal river," the "water of life" coming from the throne of God. Wouldn't you like to meet those loved ones at the intersection of "the crystal river" and the "golden street?"

Ron Covey

Friday, June 25, 2010

Marinela Reka

       There are many times when we underestimate the power of prayer.  Not that we do not understand how powerful God is or that He answers prayers, but I think many times we forget how many different ways, situations, and reasons there can be to pray for someone.  I read an interesting poem today called "I Will Pray for You" (by Marinela Reka):
If you have a cold
Or even worse the flu
Then just tell me and...
I will pray for you
If you have done a sin
And it is stuck like glue
Then just give me a call and...
I will pray for you
If someone close has died
Or another family issue
As soon as I find out...
I will pray for you
If you got into trouble
That you can't undo
Then with all my heart...
I will pray for you
I hope one day when I am down
Or simply feeling blue
You will pray for me...
Just like I prayed for you.
       We do a good job of praying for those who are sick, but this poem can be an eye-opener to the many other reasons we could and should pray for others as well as ask for prayers.  There is nothing shameful in asking for prayers in other situations besides sickness and traveling.  James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."  No matter what we are praying about, above all else, let's just remember to keep praying for each other.

Brett Petrillo

Jerry Whipple

Imagine lying in a hammock in the warm summer sun. A slight breeze draws a contented sigh from you as you close your eyes. Within moments you're drifting off to a restful summer nap.
Now change the scene slightly. Instead of a hammock you're lying on an inflatable raft, bobbing along in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The alcohol you imbibed makes it impossible to stay awake.
Instead of sleep, you're in a stupor. And you're awakened only when the Coast Guard arrives — one mile from shore — to rescue you.
That last scene wasn't just imaginary; it happened to Jerry Whipple on June 24, 2010. Authorities stated in the Associated Press report that they suspect Mr. Whipple was very drunk. Jerry should thank the boaters who spotted him, still unconscious, and alerted rescue personnel. Things could have turned out much worse.
Mr. Whipple and many others should consider advice given thousands of years ago: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1, NKJV).
Many will be mocking this seafaring fellow after reading the story. But they will not be the first to mock him.
Another passage in Proverbs sounds almost prophetic. After noting the poisonous effects of intoxicating substances, this is added:
 "Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 'They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?'" (Proverbs 23:34,35).
Statistics vary, but all will admit that there are millions in America who are enslaved to alcohol. How many of these made a decision to become addicted? Not one; they all began drinking with the thought that they could handle their liquor. But they couldn't.
Like Jerry Whipple, they drifted further with each drink from being in control. How much better if they had never taken that first drink!
Some will argue that the Bible doesn't tell us not to drink wine; rather, it warns us against drunkenness.
In response we would ask that they consider 1 Corinthians 6:12: "All things are lawful for me, but a I will not be brought under the power of any."
Can anyone state with absolute certainty that their drinking will not lead to addiction? Why would you want to roll those dice?
Jerry Whipple has been rescued from the perils he faced at sea. Will he allow himself to be rescued from that which put him in the imperiled condition to begin with?
--Tim Hall

Thursday, June 24, 2010

   Nigeria has suffered from a spate of building collapses due to builder negligence.  In the Lagos suburb of Bariga, a building collapsed due to the contractor using bamboo as rebar in the foundation.  A three-story building built over a drainage channel in Orile-Iganmu caved in and killed five people. The country has no enforceable national building code, often uses unskilled laborers, has negligent inspection practices, and generally lacks a uniform checks and balances system to hold builders accountable.  This has led to widespread concerns that a great many more buildings, often on shoddy foundations, will eventually buckle (
   Entire lives and even institutions are the same way.  Godless communism is a sandy foundation since it does not honor hard work or achievement, thus killing incentive, ethics, and ultimately morality.  Godless capitalism is as shaky a foundation, where greed, lust, and avarice blind people to their moral responsibilities in pursuit of materialistic goals.  Godless autocracy will cause a society to crumble as it is rife for corruption, violence, and mass abuse.  
   Spiritually, it makes all the difference what the foundation is.  Build on anything other than Christ and His Word and the result is eternal ruin.  One may enjoy temporary success, in this life.  However, there will be forever to pay for choosing the wrong platform on which to build a life or a religious institution.  Paul said there is no other foundation than Christ (1 Co. 3:11).  Jesus said the lasting foundation upon which He would build His church was His divine identity (Mat. 16:18-19).  Paul told Timothy "the firm foundation of God stands" (2 Ti. 2:19).  Deviate from that material and ensure foundation problems.  It matters upon what we build our lives, both now and especially in the end
--Neal Pollard

Neal Pollard

The "Bike To Work" crowd means business.  They have a web site, a strategy group, a mission statement, and an acronym (BTWD-Bike To Work Day).  Their aim is to "reduce congestion and improve air quality."  They probably also want participants to enjoy biking and get healthy, but the main interest appears to be environmental.  I am not writing this to be critical, though for six and a half miles I had to dodge ten times the regular number of bicyclists on the Bear Creek Trail.  I admire their dedication and the success they have enjoyed in getting so many to become involved.  They had food stations set up along the trail, they got media attention, and they were organized to the point to setting up a registration process online or physically in downtown Denver.  They proclaimed today the annual "Bike To Work Day" and they followed through to be sure everyone knew about it.

This initiative may or may not enjoy huge success in meeting their objective, but if they do not it will not be from lack of trying.  They will undoubtedly win converts to their cause, and they already have.  The thing that strikes me is that they truly believe in their cause, and their efforts prove it!

The early church was all about the business of spreading the good news about Christ. It made it into their conversations (Acts 8:4) and to the top of their priority list (cf. Mat. 6:33).  They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).  They were able to get the gospel to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23).  They did it without media attention, though profane and secular writers certainly took notice of them (often contemptuously).  They had limited resources, community support, history, or respectability.  But, they grew, which a cursory study of Acts readily shows.  What they had was a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3) and a life with Christ at the center.

How is our fervor for the Lord?  Are we ready to do what it takes to "get the word out" and convert as many as we can?  How deeply do we believe in the cause we sing, pray, and preach about each week?  Whatever else we may hope to accomplish individually or as the church, our main interest should always be the souls of mankind.  We will never have to tell anyone what our emphasis is.  It will be obvious!  May we have the fervor of our first-century counterparts and get out the word about the Lord!

--Neal Pollard

23rd tournament at Wimbledon

Millions will be watching a tennis match scheduled for later today.
Not because they have heard of either of the players; John Isner of
the U.S. is seeded 23rd in the tournament at Wimbledon; his opponent,
Nicolas Mahut of France, is ranked 148th in the world.  The interest
is there because these two warriors have already played for 10 hours -
in the same match!

Let's have a quick refresher on the rules of tennis.  To win a match a
player must win three sets (men's rules).  To win a set, he must win
six games, and he must win by at least a margin of two games.  If the
match goes to a fifth set, they play for as long as needed until one
of them has a two-game margin.

Isner and Mahut played close to three hours to get through four sets.
The fifth set has been going for 7 hours, 6 minutes and counting.  The
match began on Tuesday, but was suspended because of darkness.  The
same happened on Wednesday.  At 3:30 p.m. today they will try again to
reach a decision.  (No previous match in professional tennis history
has ever gone nearly so long.)

I shake my head in amazement as I consider what these two are doing.
Would I hang in there for so long?  I frankly doubt it.  For one, I
know my body couldn't endure it.  But even if the body was able, would
I be willing to keep slugging it out?  Or would I deliberately flub
just so I could get back to the locker room and down some more
Gatorade?  There would be no shame in such an act after battling for
so long.

The apostle Paul once wrote about the need for endurance in living the
Christian life: "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,
but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an
imperishable crown" (1 Corinthians 9:24,25).

Isner and Mahut are a long way from winning the coveted championship
at Wimbledon.  No one gives either of them much of a chance.  But even
if they did, they would be handed a silver cup which would soon
tarnish and would someday be destroyed.  Compare that to the prize
awaiting all Christians who successfully finish their assigned course!

But living faithfully can be so draining!  We sometimes wonder if it's
worth the effort.  Why not just flub the next serve and join the
spectators in the stands?  One inspired writer pointed to others who
had endured, and then gave this exhortation: "Therefore we also, since
we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside
every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run
with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).  If we
need additional motivation, he tells us to look to the example of
Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

People haven't changed very much in the 2,000 years since that epistle
was written.  Our temptation to throw in the towel was felt by those
Christians long ago: "Therefore do not cast away your confidence,
which has great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that after
you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise" (Hebrews

Take some time to contemplate the slugfest making headlines at
Wimbledon.  Then ask: "If they can hang in there in hopes of winning
some metal trophy, why can't I keep going as I run for the eternal

-- Timothy D. Hall

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baby's first steps


       Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I were thrilled as we watched our 11-month-old daughter walk for the first time.  We were even more amazed that she took three steps on her first try.  We had always heard and seen other children do it, but it was so incredibly special to see our daughter reach such a milestone.
       As I began to think more about her first steps, it reminded me of how much she has grown.  When we look back, she seems like such a big girl compared to how she used to be several months earlier.  However, I also thought about what our reaction would be if she stopped growing and stayed right were she is now in her development and maturity.  It would be a tough situation and we would seek a professional's help in order to keep her growing and developing. See, it is only natural for a baby to grow, develop, and mature.
       When we think about our spiritual lives, growth, development, and maturity are not all that different.  When a person first becomes a Christian, there is naturally going to be many new things to learn, but as time goes on that person is expected to grow and not stay the exact same way.  In fact, if a person is not growing spiritually, then something is usually wrong.  In Hebrews 5:12-14, the writer tells us that as time progresses a person needs to transition from the basic teachings (milk) to become mature in his discerning of good and evil (solid food).
       So what about our spiritual lives?  Have we stopped growing?  Are we in the same stage spiritually as we were years ago?  Or have we seen progress in our biblical knowledge, spiritual growth, and maturity?  If we are not growing spiritually, then something is wrong.  But more importantly, if we are not growing and producing fruit for the Lord, we will be cut off from Him (John 15:1-5).  Let's always continue to "press on to maturity" (Hebrews 6:1) and never stop growing in the Lord.
-- Brett Petrillo

Monday, June 21, 2010

Truth is Fallen In The Streets, Isaiah 59



When Israel turned away from God, the only direction morally, nationally, and socially, was a downward spiral into ungodly behavior and spiritual suicide.  Isaiah was one of those fiery prophets who was sent to Judah to attempt repentance and reform on the part of the people.  For the most part his efforts were futile, and eventually the nation was carried into Babylonian captivity where they would lick their wounds for seventy years.    One of the most touching, yet tragic chapters in Isaiah is the 59th.   It contains a vivid portrayal of how far Judah had apostatized.  Their "hands are defiled with blood; and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness" (verse 3).   "Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths" (verse 7).  "The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings; they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace" (verse 8).  "For our transgressions are multiplied before thee" (verse 12).   Quite a catalogue of sin, is it not?   Perhaps the saddest in all the chapter is found in verse 14: "And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter."     What Isaiah said regarding Judah is descriptive of every single nation that has forgotten God, our own America not being exempt in the least!    No doubt Isaiah was describing a cause and effect that had come to epitomize the horrible state of affairs that existed in Judah at the time of his writing.   


My exposure to television is quite limited seeing I "pulled the plug" on my cable service almost 18 months ago.  This does not mean that I have become isolated or in some way insulated from the "happenings" in Washington, as well as "Main Street USA."   The rapid decline of the moral and political situation in our country is almost dizzying!  One can scarcely get a grip on some outrageous act of injustice or ungodliness before he is slapped in the face with something else that causes him to wring his hands in absolute bewilderment.    Were we to lay a portrait of Judah side by side with a portrait of our nation, yea the world, we would conclude that the same artist had painted both pictures.  That artist is the devil, and his canvass is the hearts and souls of men.  Before looking at the cause, consider for a moment the effect of Satan's destructive dirty work!


"Judgment is turned away backward."  Can any doubt that the powers that be have turned things "away backward"?    Both words beg consideration.  The politicians in Washington, the professors in institutions of higher learning, and the purveyors of filth in Hollywood have turned away from God.  Their ears refuse to listen to God's word, their goal in life in adamant rebellion to the divine will.  Consequently everything is backward!  Good is called evil, and evil good!   Homosexuality is perceived as being honorable while those who oppose such behavior are branded as homophobic.  What was a vice fifty years ago is now considered a virtue in many circles.  Gambling, alcoholic indulgence, dancing, are considered acceptable and those who oppose on the grounds of Biblical principles are the antagonists and troublemakers.  


"Justice standeth afar off."    Youth were once admonished, "Crime does not pay."  Today, crime not only pays (and pays well in many cases), the criminal is often protected by liberal and ungodly judges who overturn convictions on a mere "technicality" of the law.  The innocent are wronged, and the guilty go unpunished.  As in the days of Judah, justice so often stands far off today.


"Equity cannot enter."  The Hebrew word 'nek-o-khaw' means "straight forwardness, that is, integrity" (Strong).   There is, without doubt, a lack of integrity in our present world.  Bars and locks protect our houses and automobiles; thieves scour the neighborhoods and internet for unsuspecting victims from whom they can steal.   Business dealing are only as strong as the legal document that exists to keep both parties honest, and in many cases the "loopholes" included by unscrupulous lawyers negates the intended power of the contract itself.   It has not been that long ago when neighbors were neighbors, and houses were often left unlocked when families went off to the market or to church services.  


Why the sad state of affairs?  Why is it that we are witnessing the very collapse of Western civilization as we know it?  Isaiah gives the answer: "Truth is fallen in the street."  It is not that truth had been defeated, for the truth of the matter is, truth will always remain truth.  Samuel Johnson is credited with having said, "Let it be remembered, that the nature of things is not alterable by our perception - or lack therein. We cannot remake or unmake truth; it is our business only to find it and then respond accordingly. No proposition can become less certain by being neglected. It is to no purpose to wish, to suppose, that to be false, which is in itself true, and therefore to acquiesce in our own wishes and suppositions; when the matter is of eternal consequence, to doubt obstinately without grounds of doubt, and to determine without examination, is the last degree of folly and absurdity."   When Isaiah said "truth is fallen in the streets" it was heaven's way of saying that men have trodden upon truth by disregarding, denying and disputing its factuality!   The point was made by one author thus (author  unknown):


Truth never dies.  The ages come and go.

The mountains wear away, the stars retire.

Destruction lays earth's mighty cities low;

And empires, states, and dynasties expire;

But caught and handed onward by the wise,

Truth never dies.


Though unreceived and scoffed at through the years;

Though made the butt of ridicule and jest;

Though held aloft for mockery and jeers,

Insulted by the insolence of lies,

Truth never dies.


It answers not.  It does not take offense,

But with a mighty silence bides its time;

As some great cliff that braves the elements

And lifts through all the storms its head sublime,

And never dies.


As rests the Sphinx amid Egyptian sands;

As looms on high the snowy peak and crest;

As firm and patient as Gibraltar stands,

So truth, unwearied, waits the era blessed

When men shall turn to it with great surprise.

Truth never dies.


As stalwart solders of the cross of Christ, let us determine we shall never let truth fall in the streets.  If we will march courageously forward, the truth will prevail, and with God's great mercy our nation will be spared.  All else spells only disaster. 

By Tom Wacaster

Friday, June 18, 2010

Definitino of "DIY" - "Do it yourself"

We live in a world where it seems that most folks are into "doing it
yourself". We even have given the idea its own acronym, "DIY" and devote
countless television programs to the concept. I personally, love doing it
myself. It always gives me a great sense of accomplishment to complete a
project myself, rather than paying someone else to do it. I guess it is in
the "male genes", when our grandson was little he wanted to do everything by
himself, his standard phrase when he was beginning to speak was, "I do it!"

Doing it yourself is Okay for some things, the problem is however, that some
folks want to even carry this concept into their religious life. They want a
"do it yourself religion". In the last verse of the book of Judges we read,
"In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right
in their own eyes." (Judges 21:25, NLT) It's amazing isn't it as we consider
our world to realize, that in the past couple thousand years that people
haven't really changed! We still want to "do it ourselves," and at times
would prefer not to be accountable to anyone. An overwhelming number of
people want to do whatever seems right in their own eyes regardless of what
God or even our society says about it!

We need to impress upon those with whom we come into contact that: "Do it
yourself religion" is no more acceptable than developing a private "Do it
yourself code of morals and ethics".

Yes, God does expect our relationship to him to be on an individual basis.
He does hold us accountable as individuals for our choices concerning
morality and ethics in our lives, but these things are governed according to
guidelines which He has given us. Just having the right "spirit" in us is
not enough! Jesus said, in John 4:23 that God requires us to worship him "in
Spirit and in Truth". In other words, there are some things which are just
not pleasing to God. Just because we decide we "like" something or "want" to
do something in a certain way, does not make it acceptable to God.

Jesus said in John 12:48-49, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My
words, has that which judges him, the word that I have spoken will judge him
in the last day. "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father
who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak."

Paul gives a stern warning to the young man Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3. Notice
what he says" "For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to
right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for
teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear." In verse 4 he
continues: "they will reject the truth and be happy with made up stories."

Jesus made a very important point in John 8:31-32 where we read: "Jesus said
to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you keep
obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set
you free."

Let me encourage you not to worry about what other people in our nation (and
world) are doing. Rather, make it your "Do it yourself" project, to do what
God asks, no more and no less.

Russ Lawson

Monday, June 14, 2010

Colton Harris-Moore

       The first time I heard the name "Colton Harris-Moore," otherwise known as "The Barefoot Bandit," was a few days ago when my wife showed me an article written about him in People magazine.  Let me just give you an idea of who this kid is:  He is 19 years old and is currently a wanted criminal.  He is wanted for "stealing and crash-landing four small planes, hot-wiring boats, breaking into vacation homes, and eluding manhunts by slipping into the woods," not to mention he is also "a suspect in some 100 crimes" (People, June 2010, p. 135-6).  He received the nickname, "Barefoot Bandit," since he deliberately leaves his footprints at crime scenes.  Unfortunately, he has become very popular with many people.  As a result, people have put his face on mugs, t-shirts, created 2 Facebook fan pages (one with over 40,300 fans), a general website fan page, and some are even in the process of writing a book and a movie about him.  Now, as interesting as he may be, Colton is a criminal, an outlaw, but he has become ridiculously popular and even idolized.  In fact, one of his Facebook fans said, "Keep flying man!  You are a true American hero!" (Ibid).  As I looked at his fan-page today, there were several other comments from people saying how they liked him and approved of his actions.
       I have to admit that Colton's story is colorful and interesting.  For example, he has stolen, flown, and crash-landed four planes without any piloting experience.  However, what he is doing is wrong and sinful.  I was extremely shocked that so many people support him, defend him, and admire him like a hero.  Why is it that our culture seems so supportive of sinful behavior sometimes? I fear our culture may be heading more and more towards the people in Jeremiah 8:12 who "did not know how to blush."  Our culture is becoming so comfortable, and even supportive, with crime and sin that it no longer is embarrassed by it.
       Colton is not "a true American hero" and his behavior is anything but "heroic." May we never become comfortable and support sinful behavior, especially if it is sin in our own lives.  Let's abide by the words found in Romans 12:9, "Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."
Brett Petrillo

This Old House


                    "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle

                     were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not

                        made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2Cor. 5:1

The other day I was listening to some of my "old" country music (and I have to 'fess up that I prefer it to the "new" country music) when an old song came forth from the speakers that caused me to think and that thinking resulted in this editorial. I'm going to talk for a few minutes about "houses" as they relate to our physical "house," the body, because my inspiration was the song "This Old House" written by Stuart Hamblen and sung by just about everyone at one time or another.

And, as I usually do, I found some interesting sidelights surrounding this song and writer. As famous and much-performed as this song was, Stuart had another one that is probably even more famous and is very unique in the music world. This more well-known song is entitled "It Is No Secret What God Can Do."

What makes it unique is, that it was what is referred to in the music business as being a "triple-crossover." What that means is that it reached #1 on the Country chart, #1 on the Gospel chart and #1 on the Pop Ballad chart - all at the same time. You might also be interested to know that Stuart was inspired to write it because of something his friend said to him. That friend was John Wayne.

Anyway, I got to thinking about "my house" as I listened to the words of "This Old House" and I had no trouble relating it to the condition of the "house" pictured in the song. The "house" in Stuart's song was getting pretty run down and in need of repairs. My "house" can certainly relate to that at times. It most assuredly is not in the shape it once was and no doubt ever will be again.

But, what I'm more concerned with as regards my "house" is not the "exterior," but the shape of the "interior." You see, it's the "interior" of our "houses" that relate to the parable told by Jesus about the two "houses." (Mt. 7:24-27) It's the base upon which our "house" is built that determines the shape of the "interior" and it's the "interior" that determines the strength of our "house."

In thinking about the interior of my "house" I'm reminded of something I once read about one of our country's forefathers, John Quincy Adams, who made this reply when asked by a friend, "How are you?" It's said that he very slowly turned towards his friend and replied, "Fine, sir, fine! But this old tenement that John Quincy lives in is not so good. The underpinning is about to fall away. The thatch is all gone off the roof, and the windows are so dim John Quincy can hardly see out anymore. As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise me if before the winter's over he had to move out. But, as for John Quincy Adams, he never was better...never was better."

I don't think my "tenement" has reached the shape of John Q's, except for the "thatch," but the point is that his "interior" he believed was in fine shape. I believe that my "house" is built on the one foundation that allows me to concur and say amen to John Q. Adam's assessment of his "house."

Of all the passages in the Bible that relate to our physical bodies as "houses" I like best the one found in 2Cor. 5:1 where we can read that, at some point in time, our "earthly house of this tabernacle" will be "dissolved." I like that rendition, that portrayal, don't you? And when that "dissolving" occurs, if I've been faithful to Jesus Christ, the foundation upon which my "house" is built, then I'll receive a new "house." One "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Yes, someday I (and you) won't "need this house no longer." Won't "need this house no more." Won't be any time left to "fix the shingles, fix the floor nor oil the hinges." We won't even get to "mend the window frame." The exterior of our old house will just be "all tuckered out." But, if the "interior" of our "house" is in fine order, then we'll be "ready to meet the Saints."

We'll move into a new "house" that's not affected by time because it's an "eternal" structure. There will never be a need or a reason for repairs to it. It'll last forever. Let's all of us do our best to be faithful to the Gospel of Christ because that is the only way that we'll ever be able to take occupancy of that "house" that's not "dissolvable."

Ron Covey

Jesus used the Bible!


            One might think that while Jesus was on earth, being the Son of God, He would have very little use for the Scriptures. But a simple glimpse at His life and ministry reveals just the opposite. On every hand we find Him quoting Scripture or alluding to its content in His teaching, and personally submitting His life to the authority of the Scriptures. Whether He was struggling with Satan in temptation (Luke 4:1-13), teaching crowds by the sea shore (Luke 5:1-11), or instructing His disciples on a hillside (Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7), Jesus' words were always punctuated with citations from the Scriptures.

            They were on His lips in prayer, and even in His sufferings. His mind was so saturated with the words of Scripture that He used them to express His own feelings.  The anguish of David centuries earlier became the expression of His own agony as He cried from the cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"  (Matthew 27:46).  Even His last words while on the cross was a quote from Psalm 31:5, "Into Thy hands I commit My Spirit" (Luke 23:46).

            Furthermore, Jesus totally submitted His life to the authority of the Scriptures. Why didn't He ask to be rescued from the cross?  "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled?" (Matthew 26:53-54).  He said He "must go to Jerusalem and be classed among criminals because "that which is written must be fulfilled" (Luke 18:31-33;  22:37).

            Jesus' view of the Scriptures is very different from that of the majority of the modern world. As Jesus became obedient unto His Heavenly Father's will, even unto death on the cross (Philippians 2:8), we who desire to "walk in His footsteps,"  must strive to follow the example He has given us. (1Peter 2:21).  The secular world will "snicker," ridicule, insult, and even "hate us," but that's OK, because in John 15:18, Jesus said it would be this way. (Another fulfillment of Scripture).

            Remember, there has never been a more truthful, loving preacher than Jesus – and they still nailed Him to a cross. "A servant is not greater than his Master" (John 13:16).  


--Toby Miller

Thursday, June 10, 2010

God's timetable

At one time or another, most of us have questions about God's timing. It
seems that we wait and wait, and sometimes wait some more and wonder what
God has in mind for our lives, if anything at all.

We ask questions like, "When will I find a job?" or "When will my children
return to the Lord?" or "Why doesn't my spouse believe like I do?" or
"Doesn't God have someone out there for me to marry and if he does, why is
he taking so long to bring us together?" Maybe you are just asking, "How can
God allow this situation (whatever it may be) to go on?"

We wait and ask questions and wonder when, if ever, God will give an answer.
You probably already know that God's timing is almost never out timing,
however notice what David had to say about it in Psalms 27:14. David wrote,
"Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait
for the Lord!" How does this verse apply to you situation and how long you
have been waiting for an answer? Think about David's background.

In the book of 1st. Samuel we see that King Saul was rejected as king over
Israel because of his disobedience to God. In chapter 16 Samuel is told to
go to Bethlehem, to the home of Jesse and there he will anoint one of
Jesse's sons as the new king over Israel. David though "just a youth" is
anointed king, but it was more than 20 years before he sat on the throne.
For 20 years that promise hung over David's head as he waited for it to be
fulfilled. For 20 years it stood between him and relationships with King
Saul. For most of that 20 years Saul hunted for David, trying to kill him.
For part of that 20 years David actually had to flee the country and live in
another country for safety, even though he was anointed King over Israel by
God's prophet, at God's command.

So when David wrote, "Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take
courage; yes, wait for the Lord!" he knew what it was to wait for the Lord
to answer and act in his life. I like the way one modern paraphrase puts
this verse, "Stay with GOD! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay
with God!" (MSG)

So, how long have you been waiting, 20 years? Has the king (or president) of
your country had his army out hunting you, trying to kill you? Probably not,
if you are like most of us, your problems and your questions are more in the
nature of what is happening to you in some physical way dealing with family,
jobs, houses and health. David councils, "Wait for the Lord". Or "Stay with
the Lord, Don't quit". That's my council also.

Notice one final scripture from the Apostle Paul, "We can rejoice, too, when
we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us, they
help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in
us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.

Russ Lawson

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bible commentary, Bible commentaries, commentary on the Bible

Bible commentary and on-line Bible commentary: Get a FREE commentary on the Bible if you follow these terms and conditions)

Bible commentary on Genesis, Bible commentary on Joshua and Judges, Acts, a longer Bible commentary on the book of Acts, Bible commentary on Romans,
a chapter by chapter Bible commentary on Romans, First Corinthians Bible commentary, a chapter by chapter Bible commentary on First Corinthians,
Bible commentary on Second Corinthians, Bible commentary on Ephesians, Bible commentary on Philippians, Bible commentary on Colossians, Bible commentary on First and Second Thessalonians, Bible commentary on Philemon, Bible commentary on Hebrews, Bible commentary on James, Bible commentary on Revelation.

Armando Galarraga perfect game


       Whether you are an avid sports fan or not, you most likely have heard the name Armando Galarraga, or at least what happened to him last week.  Before this game, only 26 pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball had ever thrown a perfect game.  What this means is that every single batter either strikes out or is thrown out.  No batter over the course of the game ever makes it to first base by getting a hit or even getting walked.  Every single batter gets out.
       With Armando Galarraga's case, he had pitched a perfect game so far and was now facing the very last batter of the game.  The batter hit the ball within reach of the first baseman, who then threw it to Galarraga to make the final out.  Galarraga caught the ball, and stepped on the bag before the batter.  Could this be the 27th perfect game ever pitched?  Not this time.  Things looked differently to first base umpire Jim Joyce, who called the batter SAFE.  However, as the replays showed, the batter was clearly out.  So, Jim Joyce blew the call and in effect ripped away a perfect game from Armando Galarraga.
(Watch It Here)
       While this is an incredible story in itself, the events that transpired after this were truly shocking and provide great spiritual application for us today.
       (1) Never repay evil with evil.  While obviously what Jim Joyce did would not be considered "evil," he clearly had made the wrong call and stripped Galarraga of what was rightly his. But what did Galarraga do after the call was made?  He simply smiled, walked back to the mound, and finished the game. Galarraga could have gotten very angry and said some very negative things to Joyce, but he simply took it, smiled, and finished the game.  Even afterwards when he had seen a replay, Armando just said that Jim Joyce was human, he made a mistake, and that he did not blame him for the bad call. What an incredible attitude! I do not know of a better way Galarraga could have responded to the situation.  I instantly have great respect for Galarraga.
       This reminds us of Luke 6:27-28, "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  Whether people treat us wrong, do evil to us, misrepresent us, or whatever it may be, let's always do good in return.  I do not know if Galarraga is religious at all, but I know that he wonderfully portrayed an attitude that should be present in all Christians.
        (2) Make Things Right - Repent.  While many umpires stand their ground even when they are wrong, this was not the case with Jim Joyce.  During the game he thought he was correct and stood his ground.  But after the game, the very first thing he did is ask to see the instant replay.  He wanted to see if he was wrong...and he was.  After he saw that he had blown the call and striped Galarraga of a perfect game, he soon called for a press conference.  In this press conference, with obvious guilt and sadness, he admitted that he missed the call, that this was probably the most important call of his career, and he had stripped Galarraga of the perfect game. To make things even worse, the very next day Joyce was to be the home-plate umpire for the game, and the team sent out Galarraga to deliver the batting line-up for his team.  During the exchange, Jim Joyce was very emotional and even cried as the batting line-up was delivered.  This is obviously a man who was deeply sorry for the wrong call he had made and truly cared.
Brett Petrillo

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bad parents


 "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward" (Psalm  127:3).  No gift or asset exceeds their value, the value of children!  And, no, they do not always drink their drinks "spill-free," make 100s on their tests, make us proud by their conduct, or get along with others just so.  Yet, who would really trade them in?

    Parents must be a present force for good in their children's lives!  They must seriously and joyfully undertake the privilege parenting presents.  Adults should regularly have a physical to ascertain their fitness.  In the same way, parents should have a regular spiritual to ascertain their fitness as parents.

    Upon examination, some parents find their:

    HEAD in the clouds!  Some children could never be guilty of any wrongdoing under any circumstances.  The teachers and others children with whom the child has problems are always to blame.  Really?!

  MIND in the gutter. Where will many children view their first pornography or nudity on the screen?  Yes, in the home.  Mom? Dad?  Are we guarding our lips (Titus 2:8) and hearts (Proverbs 4:23)?

    NOSE to the grindstone!  Sixty-hour workweeks, ten hours in commute, forty-two hours for sleep, and parents have left, at most, eight hours per day for their children.  If one bathes and dresses for work, chews his meals with care, buys groceries, pays bills, and watches the average daily dose of TV, how much time do the kids get?

    Down in the MOUTH!  It is true, children imitate the behavior modeled before them.  In an age of grumbling and complaining, parents must teach by example that such is not the way God wants to act (cf. Acts 2:14).

    EYES on the prize!  Spiritual focus is vital for successful parenting to occur (2 Corinthians 5:7).  When parents emphasize Christ above all, emulate Christ rather than any other, and esteem heaven rather than earth, children being to see things more clearly, too.

    The Great Physician says it all (parents should pay extra special attention) when he says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matthew 22:37).  Parents, let's always work on "shaping up" for our children's sakes!


Neal Pollard

Monday, June 7, 2010

What does it mean to be two faced?

Recently, I witnessed something I have seen before but that never gets easier to watch.  A person who on several occasions has had something negative and disparaging to say about another person when he was not around was speaking to him, using sweet, flattering and complimentary words.  The same person has used similar words in speaking to me.  It left me cold, certain that I cannot trust the kind words this person directs my way.

By definition, one is two-faced who is "marked by deliberate deceptiveness especially by pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another" (Princeton University, Wordnet).  One etymology source says the first recorded use of "two face" was in 1619, though nothing more is said of that record (  But, many scholars see the origin of the concept in Roman mythology and the god Janus for whom the month January is named.  He is said, as a symbol of change, to see into the past with one face and into the future with another face.  His faces pointed in the opposite direction (  Apparently, the concept morphed from looking two directions to showing two sets of feelings, being duplicitous, deceitful, and hypocritical.  

When you do a New Testament word study, the word most closely akin to "two faced" is "hypocrisy."  In fact, the word itself is simply a transliteration (writing or printing out a letter or word using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language) of the Greek word.  The original word first was theatrical language meaning "playacting."  Thus, the verb form of the word, found in Luke 20:20, is used to describe how the scribes and high priests pretended to be sincere in order to trap Jesus.

Such a practice is dishonest, for it makes the subject of the hypocrisy think you feel or believe one way when in reality you do not (cf. Mt. 23:28).  Such a practice is harmful to influence, because in showing others your "second face" you reveal yourself as not genuine, trustworthy, or honorable (cf. Gal. 2:13).  Such a practice is sinful and, thus spiritual darkness.  Peter says to "put it aside" (1 Pet. 2:1).  

Let us be careful that we do not confuse attempted tact and diplomacy with dishonesty, evil influence, and sin.  Let us keep our ethics aboveboard and our integrity intact.  Let us have one face, the same face, for everyone wherever we are and to whomever we speak.
Neal Pollard

sentimental culture


            In this nation, we have developed a "sentimental culture." By that I mean, many have developed a self-pitying attitude that causes them to be acutely affected by emotional matters. We want everything to be warm, fuzzy, and romantic. Anything that challenges that warm, fuzzy and romantic feeling is met with resistance.  This plays out in politics as well as our personal lives. It's plagued denominationalism for a hundred years, and is even seeping into the church of our Lord.

            Just how "warm, fuzzy, and romantic is the God who flooded the entire world, ridding it of every man, woman and child, because of sin? How about the God who destroyed the mighty Egyptian army in order to save His chosen people?  The incarnate God who vilified the religious hypocrisy of the Pharisees? or the God who overturned the money-changers tables in the temple? Or the God who quiets storms and then scolds His disciples for their lack of faith? How warm, fuzzy, and romantic is the God who confronts demons and casts them out?

            Contrary to popular belief, God does not burst into tears when I stub my toe, or accidentally step on my dog's foot.  Yes, God is love (1John 4:16), but He is also a "consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).

            We are getting too comfortable with God. We expect Him to make us feel warm and fuzzy all the time. However, the Bible does not give us such a picture of the God who endured the Cross to save us from our sins.  God is Holy and majestic beyond our imagination; even the Seraph Angels that come into His presence cover their faces because of the great glory of our Creator (Isaiah 6:2-3).

            In spite of this, it seems we are always trying to whittle Him down to the size of our small minds, insisting on confining Him within the boundaries that only WE are comfortable with. We refuse to think of Him in any way other than what is convenient to our particular lifestyle. When we do this, we are NOT dealing with the God of creation, or the Christ of the Cross, but rather we are dealing with a god that we  have created in their own image.

            In our minds, we build our own little temples. We confine God to our imagination, and offer only those sacrifices that we want to offer.  We turn away from the command to "offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto the Lord" (Romans 12:1-2).

            The church of the first century "…had peace and were edified. And walking in the FEAR of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied" (Acts 9:31). It seems that the majority has no idea what it means to "walk in FEAR of the Lord." They consider God to be too sentimental toward their petty, worldly pursuits. Their arguments go something like this: "Jesus wants me to be happy, and I am more happy with this man than my husband, so Jesus wants me to divorce my husband and marry this man!" 

            We are to "fear" God, and "love" Him. Perhaps an illustration would be like gathering around a campfire with your children. You enjoy the flames, warmth, and family fellowship the campfire offers; but at the same time you instill in your children a healthy sense of fear of that fire that you are enjoying so much, knowing that fire can burn, maim, and even kill. The same could be said about electricity. We enjoy thousands of benefits from the power of electricity, but still, we must live by the rules of electricity. Much harm, and even death can come if we don't. The same is true with God.

            God came to us in Jesus Christ; He stormed through Galilee; stilled violent storms; healed the sick and disfigured; and even gave life to stone-cold dead bodies. There is the tendency to think of Jesus in only a sentimental way. We are told that He can sympathize with our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15), and that's Good News! But let's never forget that He is "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14). He came to show us the Way to the Heavenly Father through the remission of sins. We must live our lives within the perimeter of His rules (the Bible). God has so laid-out these rules that it is impossible to keep them unless we genuinely love Him. To love Him, we must know Him. To know Him, we must learn of Him. Jesus invites us all, "Come learn of Me…" (Matthew 11:29). Study your Bible   --Toby Miller
                                                                                                                    Stay Hungry - Toby Miller

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