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Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut shooting

When the Gentile world decided to cast God out of their lives, and "change the glory of God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things" (Rom. 1:21), they began an inevitable process of plunging into moral depravity. The catalogue of sins listed in Romans 1:24-32 contain some of the most heinous and vile acts imaginable. Included in that list of sins is the loss of "natural affection" (vs. 31). The Greek word is 'astorgos.' The base word here is 'storgos,' and with the negative particle, means the absence of, or being without "natural affection." The word 'storgos' means "to cherish affectionately" (Strong). With the negative particle, Thayer defines the word as "inhuman, unloving" (Thayer). As the events unfolded surrounding the horrible killings in Connecticut this past Friday, the one question that occupied the thinking of many was, "What compels any man to walk into an elementary school and take the lives of children ages 5 to 10?" The death of anyone is bad enough, but to randomly take the lives of innocent children is evidence of a sin-sick soul that has been so overwhelmed by evil that it has lost all ability to reason logically. It is becoming increasingly apparent that our society is nearing, or has surpassed the point where the Gentile world stood when Paul wrote that letter to the church at Rome. The rampant disregard for life, from aborting the unborn child, to the taking of life in some random act of madness, bespeaks our world's plunge into the moral gutter occupied by those of whom Paul speaks. Authorities seek answers; society weeps; and it seems that few, if any realize that the cause of such inhuman acts has been revealed in the word of God. In a Fox News opinion item, Dr. Keith Ablow made this astute observation regarding the events of last Friday:

After the horrific events of Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, an understandable and frequent question has been, "What sort of person can shoot innocent children?" The answer to that question, in short, is this: (1) Certainly, someone who has lost the capacity for human empathy--that God-given quality that allows us to resonate with the suffering of others, and (2) Probably, someone who is, probably unconsciously, making a statement about the random nature of destructiveness, about how innocence and youth confer no safety upon an individual, and about how his rage--likely unexamined and left to fester underground--knows no bounds. The psychiatric diagnoses that can be connected to a lack of empathy are numerous. Someone can have fallen victim to schizophrenia and be suffering the delusion that others must die to save the earth. Hence, there is no grief for the people who must die. Someone can be drug dependent and inebriated to the point that his core empathy is suppressed, due to intoxication. Someone can be personality disordered--a "sociopath" who steals, cheats and commits violent acts without guilt. Yet, these diagnoses still don't speak to the underlying cause of someone losing empathy. What about that?  Regardless of what diagnosis we speak of, we still need to think about what causes those conditions marked by having little or no feeling for others [all emphasis mine, TW].

As I watched CBS news, it was made evident that everything possible was being done, and would be done, to determine the cause of this man's actions. "No stone will be left unturned," so says a Federal Investigator on the scene. Evidently city, state and federal authorities are looking into what might have compelled such an act of violence. Possible suggestions, theories, and scenarios immediately surfaced: Connections with some middle east radical terrorist group; drugs; revenge; desire to simply be popular and see if one might go down in the history books as the worst mass murderer in American history. We will probably never know what motivated that young man to do what he did, because in the wake of his horrible deed he ended his own life as well. But if Paul's description of the Gentile world has any application at all, we can know the root cause of what happened in that quiet little town in Connecticut.

As I listened to CBS News report, I wondered: "In the search for a cause, will authorities take a close look at the young man's educational background? Will they investigate what the public schools did to brainwash this young man into thinking that we are nothing more than a product of evolution? Did the humanistic values implanted in the mind of this man in some science class, or some class on philosophy have any bearing at all on what he did? Does our government share any blame at all with an ever increasing agenda that disrespects life, albeit it abortion, infanticide, or euthanasia?" Why does the death of those 20 children in that remote elementary school in the northeast surprise us, when abortion clinics are killing 136 times that same number of children every single day? Has the expulsion of God from every vestige of the mainstream of American life played any part at all in this, and other similar tragedies? There are consequences to action, and seeds sown eventually have a way of producing fruit akin to and in greater abundance than the original seed itself. What we are witnessing is a meltdown of a once mighty nation that has gorged itself on humanistic philosophy, made itself drunk with material success, and isolated itself from the very God Who blessed this nation in first place. When men walk into a movie theater, an elementary school, a crowded mall, or any other public place and do all within their power to end the lives of other human beings, they are simply acting out what deep inside they believe about life, moral responsibility, and respect for one's fellow man. They are demonstrating first-hand what it means when men loose "natural affection" for their fellow man.

Why are we shocked at what happened this past Friday? Saddened, yes! Angered? Absolutely! Every time another sin sick soul takes it upon himself to randomly kill innocent people - especially innocent children - we scratch our heads and wring our hands and ask, "WHY?" Whether it be a crazed young man in Connecticut, a mad man in Aurora, Colorado, or a lone gunman on some remote street corner in Anytown, USA - in every case, it can be traced to the loss of natural affection for one's fellow man, and for life in general.
--by Tom Wacaster

Sunday, December 16, 2012

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matt. 24:36

I've got to hurry and get this last editorial published for you to consider before next Friday rolls around. You know, the 21st of December, 2012 which, according to the Mayans, is when the world, as we know it, will end. We'll get back to the Mayan's in a moment, but first let's look at some other predictions about the end of the world and the result of those.

I'll lead off this section of our lesson by asking you a question that Christ asked His disciples, recorded in Luke 8:25 "Where is your faith?" I think that's appropriate to start off with here because, to me, that's the basis of whether you attach any credence to predictions by men (there's been many) as to the end of the world.

When we have another prediction of this sort I always think about the cartoons showing a man wearing a "sandwich" sign reading "REPENT - THE END IS NEAR!" He may very well be right because we don't know when the end will come, which is why we're admonished in several scriptures to be ready at all times, one of which is Matt. 25:13. Another scripture we need to know and understand is the one found in Hebrews 9:27. That our death is "the end of the world" as far as our soul is concerned and it's at that point that we'll be "judged."

But, it seems to me that a lot of "prophets of doom" don't seem to care about what the Bible says about no one knowing the "day and hour" when God says that we've gone as far as we're going, time wise. But, what else I find interesting in studying these end-of-the-world predictors is that many of them base their predictions on "calculations" of the scriptures. I guess that they only see the passages they want to see and ignore anything that contradicts their "calculations."

Another thing that amazes me is how much faith a lot of people put in these predictions. Which is why I asked the question: "Where is your faith?" Is it in all of "THE WORD" or do you place your faith in these "doomsday prophets?" I actually know people who believe this latest prediction by the Mayans, or say they do.

Trust me when I tell you that the Mayans are just the latest in a long line of false predictors of the world ending on a certain date. I've got my own opinion of the Mayan calendar, which this prediction is based on, and I'll share that with you in a moment. But first, let me just provide you with a little information regarding some previous predictions that turned out to be wrong. And, there are many to pick from, but here's a sampling.

In the 1st century, almost from the time that Jesus ascended to heaven, many believed that He would return in their generation. (Mt. 25 and 1Thess. 4). A supposed Christian prophetess by the name of Thiota predicted the world to end in the year 848. This caused much fear and alarm which resulted in a lot of people giving her gifts for her prayers to allay this doom. She later confessed that a priest had put her up to predicting the end of the world for profit. (Hmmm, profit?)

Certain dates have had an influence on predictions of "the end." Many thought that Jan. 1, 1000 would bring "the end" as this was a 1000 years after Jesus' death. One prediction that I thought very interesting, and illustrative of what I said earlier about ignoring Bible passages, is the one made by some astrologers that the world would be destroyed "by a flood" on Feb. 1, 1524. Obviously they didn't take into consideration what God said in Gen. 9:11 and 15. Or, if they did, they believed their calculations more than the Bible's words.

Even Christopher Columbus made a prediction that the world would end in 1658. Do you think that superstition played a part in the prediction of the world ending in 1666? Another interesting predictor was a Puritan minister by the name of Cotton Mather. He made three separate predictions that the world would end in 1697, then revised it to 1716, then finally 1736, all of which were wrong.

The Shakers even got into the prediction act by saying 1792 would bring the end and then updated it to 1794 when the first one proved wrong. Of course, so did the second one. William Miller (the Millerites, later to become the 7th Day Adventists) specifically designated Mar. 21, 1844 as the day the world would end. Didn't happen and he said that he'd "miscalculated the scriptures" and moved the date to Oct. 22, 1844. Guess what? Wrong again. Sad thing about his prediction is that thousands believed him and lost everything they had because of their faith in him.

Some of you may remember a guy named Herbert W. Armstrong, a radio preacher who started his own church known as the Worldwide Church of God. He was a prolific prognosticator of doom. First it was 1936, then 1943, then 1972 and finally 1975 before he gave up. Maybe because he died in 1986 is the reason we haven't seen any more predictions from him.

World famous psychic Jeane Dixon said that the planets would align on Feb. 4, 1962 and bring the end of the world. Since we're still here I guess that doesn't speak very well about her "powers." Helps us to understand why God forbade Israel from having anything to do with these sorts of people. (Dt. 18:10-12).

She wasn't the only psychic to predict the end as Edgar Cayse also got into the act. He said we'd come to "the end" in 2000. We didn't and I see that psychic "powers" are equal between the sexes. Chuck Smith, who started Calvary Chapel, predicted the world would end in 1981. Though not a psychic, he was wrong too.

The well-known TV evangelist, Pat Robertson even made some faulty predictions. He first said the world would end in either October or November, 1982, then when that didn't pan out, he revised it to April 29, 2007. Alas, even with the aid of television, he's no better that any of his predecessors at predicting the end of the world.

Prior to our Mayans, probably the latest prognosticator of "the end" is a man named Harold Camping who predicted May 21, 2011 as the big event then, like many of his predecessors, had to update it to Oct. 21, 2011 when May 22nd rolled around. Many of you may not know this but, he had earlier said that 1994 and 1995 would bring "the end." He's still wrong on all accounts.

I see the Mayans as just another blip on the "end-of-the-world radar." I told you that I'd offer you my opinion of their prediction based on their calendar. Since their calendar is inscribed on a stone and Dec. 21st, 2012 is where the calendar ends, could it possibly be that they just ran out of rock?

Here's how I'll close today: if Saturday the 22nd dawns we can add the Mayans to the long list of false "dooms-day prophets" and have our faith reassured that what God says in His Word is true. That "no man" knows when "the end" will occur. Until then, we need to be ready for it at any time.

                            "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh

                                      at an hour when ye think not." Luke 12:40

Ron Covey

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Alzheimer's disease

"The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD is a
progressive and irreversible brain disorder. The actual cause of AD is
unknown. AD slowly damages, and then destroys, a person's memory, judgment,
reasoning skills, personality, autonomy, and bodily functions"

A.R. "Ross" Gallaher's grandmother had Alzheimer's. He recently reflected
on lessons learned from her illness:

I loved my grandmother on my Mom's side of the family because she doted over
her grandchildren. No matter what we did, she always treated us as if we
were the best children in the world. Our Christmases were spent in South
Florida every year running and playing in the orange groves my grandparents
owned. She always had more presents under the tree than I have seen in any
other family setting because she was such a giving person and also felt it
was important to wrap each gift for anyone on her list.

These images were only enhanced when my grandmother succumbed to
Alzheimer's. The last time I saw my grandmother alive, she was in a nursing
home unable to recognize me, my wife Teresa, or any family member including
my mom. I could see that Mom was devastated. It was such a sad end to the
memories and the life of this wonderful lady.

But though she could not remember family and friends, I noticed that she was
tremendously happy. Mom explained that in her mind, she was back home in
Troy AL with her playmates and the family members she had when she was a
child. She did not know that she was an adult; she was back home in familiar
surroundings feeling as safe and happy as any child should feel in the
loving protection of her childhood home. She had forgotten any pain,
hardship, difficulty or loss given to her by life or humanity. Everyone was
her friend or possible playmate.

Though I would not desire this disease on anyone, one element is worth
examining for its glorious value...

Alzheimer's causes memory loss over time. What would the world be like if we
only knew the good, happy memories of life? What would your life and my life
be like if there were no bad memories, none? Who are you if forgiveness
really did work? What would people say about you if the only parts of your
life revealed to others were warm, wonderful expressions of joy and
contentment? Life would be blissful; a perfect example of the kind of life
Jesus wanted us to have.

Jesus asks us to forgive because He has offered us forgiveness. Jesus asks
us to love because He loved us first. Jesus asks us to have an abundant life
because He gave us access to one.

Jesus asks us to forget because He has forgotten our faults.

Given the choice, I choose "selective Alzheimer's" - abundant life here and
eternal life with the one who remembers me as His child.*

YOU can become God's child by... placing your faith and trust in Jesus,
God's Son, who died on the cross for our sins (Acts 16:30-31), turning from
those sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans
10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of
sins (Acts 2:38). Then, by continuing to follow Him, YOU can experience the
abundant life now and receive eternal life to come.

Won't YOU accept God's offer on His terms?

-- A.R. "Ross" Gallaher / David A. Sargent

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Acts 10:38

"My Footprints"

On many of the old Westerns that used to play on television, one scene was
familiar: The lawman in pursuit of the bad guys would occasionally dismount
his horse to examine the ground. Using skills that few today possess, he
tell how many were in the fleeing party, which way they were heading, and
far ahead they were. He could discern that information by examining their

Such scenes remind us that we're not as invisible as we might wish. Whether
it's our footprints, fingerprints, or some other evidence we leave behind,
who are determined to know can usually find out where we've been. Thinking
about committing the perfect crime? Based on what I see on today's criminal
investigation programs, I wouldn't advise it. Even one hair that you didn't
know fell from your head might be enough to bring about your conviction.

Naturalists have long encouraged those of us who enjoy the outdoors to "take
nothing but pictures, and leave nothing behind but footprints". In more
years, others urge us to do all we can to minimize our footprints. They're
talking about the impact we have on our environment - using less natural
resources whenever possible. And that's not a bad idea. I'd like for my
grandchildren to enjoy the clean air, water and fuels that I have been
to enjoy.

Let me now turn your attention to a different kind of "footprint" we might
behind, one that could last for years. When future generations track my
what will they learn?

Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his family when he made this assessment
Jesus' life on earth: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy
and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed
the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). That phrase in the middle of
verse catches my attention: "who went about doing good".

As Peter noted, Jesus could do miraculous deeds, like healing illnesses and
casting out demons. I can't do those things today. But I can surely
Jesus in going about doing good. And that, according to the Bible, is just
God expects of me.

Paul gave instructions to Timothy that apply to comfortable Americans:
those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in
uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to
Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to
share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come,
they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Doing good, being rich in good works, being ready to give and willing to
share -
how many folks like that do you know? Or, let's turn the question around:
many of the folks we know can say that about you and me? What kind of
footprints are we leaving behind us?

Dorcas seems to have been an ordinary Christian. But her legacy reads like
this: She "was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did" (Acts
9:36). No wonder those mourning her passing were weeping (Acts 9:39); that
of person will be missed.

Let us live a life of service to others. In doing so, we'll be walking in
footprints of Jesus.

Timothy D. Hall

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The adjective "light"

We've seen and heard lots of news lately about "Sandy," the storm that struck the East coast late last October, haven't we? Almost daily we hear about the devastation and the resulting clean-up efforts. About all the losses and the heartaches brought by the storm. Seems like "storms" and "heartaches" go together, don't they?

I wasn't there to experience Hurricane Sandy, but I've been in storms before (haven't we all?) both the physical and the other sort of "life storms" that seem to find us at times, no matter where we are. Even though not having been in the area of that storm I can say, with much surety, that a lot of praying went on. Perhaps with a lot of those prayers including the words, "Lord, save me" in them.

I know that I've written editorials on the subject of "storms" before and tied those "storms" into spiritual lessons, but it's always appropriate to look at a lesson on dealing with the "storms" of life. Today seems to be another one of those occasions and I appreciate your considering my words again on the subject.

Before getting into the Biblical references of our lesson, allow me to offer one more commentary: it just seems to me that a lot of people only remember God in the midst of a "storm," whatever shape of form that "storm" is when it comes upon us. It doesn't have to be a "dark and stormy night" like Snoopy starts his stories off with, but "darkness" is really fitting to our "storms," isn't it? The adjective "light" just doesn't come to mind when we talk about "storms," does it?

And "darkness" certainly was part of the scene we're going to use in our Bible reference here today. This reference is found in the 14th chapter of Matthew and in verses 23 thru 33. Please follow along there and make sure that I relate the events in those verses correctly.

First, let's set the scene, so to speak. We know that it was dark because verse 25 tells us that this event occurred "in the fourth watch of the night." That equates to being about 3:00 in the morning. And, we know that it was "a dark and stormy night" because the ship was being "tossed with waves" and the wind "was contrary." Just so that we fully understand this: "contrary" means things like difficult, troubling, hostile or adverse. Generally speaking: something unfavorable.

Certainly not the best time for the apostles of Jesus to be out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee in a little boat. They were there because Jesus had sent them on ahead to the "other side" of the sea while He went onto a mountain to pray.

Now some of the apostles were fishermen and, no doubt, were more used to being in a boat out on the sea, but most of them were occupied on land so, human nature being what it is, I have no trouble seeing them fairly alarmed by their predicament. Me, I'd be scared to death.

And then, to add another fear factor to this scene, they looked out on the water and saw what they thought was a "ghost" coming towards them. (Vs. 26) The Bible says that they were "troubled" by this vision. I'll bet they were. It says that they "cried out in fear." In some places the Bible uses the phrase "sore afraid," which to us Okies, Arkies and Texans means "flat scared."

That's when Jesus called out to them with some words that all of us should take to memory and recall when we're in the midst of our "storms:" "Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid." (ESV) I'm sure that these would have been soothing words for them to hear because it wasn't too long back (Chap. 8) that they had been on the same sea in a little boat, but Jesus had been with them on that occasion. When the storm came up and they were afraid they called out the same thing: "Lord, save us." That's when He "rebuked the winds and the sea" and they calmed down. But, He wasn't with them in the boat this time. (Doesn't that inspire a lesson on "being in the boat with Jesus?)

Thinking about these words brings me to recall some other words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28 when He told His disciples to not be afraid of things that "kill the body" but rather, be afraid of the things that can kill both the "body and the soul." The idea here being, if you're with me (Christ) you're safe from eternal harm. Our "storms" are just one of those things that can take our human life, but can't take our "soul" if its secure in Jesus.

But then, up pops Peter. Good old impetuous Peter who would later on do and say other impetuous things. But Peter is going to serve as a "show and tell" lesson here to the disciples then present and to everyone since. Allow me to explain what I mean by those words.

I see a little different aspect here than most teachers I've heard speak about this occasion in a lesson. In the earlier event on the sea, Jesus chided them about their being of "little faith." I see another "lesson in faith" about to be taught to them here in this event using Peter to accomplish it. Take the time to read both accounts that I'm using today, Matt. 8:23-27 and Matt. 14:23-33. I think that you'll see some very similar words said by Jesus on both occasions.

But, back to Peter on the second occasion. Notice he says, "Lord, IF it is you, command me to come to you on the water." (Vs. 28) Notice my emphasis on "if." Doesn't that sound a little like a test? Now, we know that Jesus knew what was going to happen, don't we? So He simply says, "Come." Like, "OK, come on."

Now Peter didn't hesitate a bit. He left the boat and started walking on the water towards Jesus. But then, he started paying more attention to the "storm" going on around him than he was paying on Jesus. He became "afraid" and "beginning to sink" he called out "Lord, save me." Not an uncommon request, is it?

Jesus "reached out His hand and caught him" and then chided him on his lack of "faith." He asked Peter, "Why did you doubt?" (Vs 31) Let's see if we can see a reason Peter doubted. I think it's pretty simple myself - Peter did what a lot of us do sometimes. He let the "storm" take his focus off of Christ. Instead of paying attention to Christ, he began paying attention to the things going on around his physical life.

Remember I mentioned that he "began to sink?" Isn't that what a lot of us do? We let worldly things pull our attention away from Christ little by little. We don't necessarily go under immediately, as we get less and less focused on Jesus, we slowly sink. We slowly get farther away from Him. But, just as He did with Peter, he will "stretch forth His hand and catch us." However, like Peter, it's upon us to realize that we're sinking and where our salvation is located.

Ron Covey

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Most preachers love the season of Christmas, for some it is the "most
wonderful time of the year." This time of year churches normally see a jump
in attendance from folks who are too busy to attend much of the year. For me
I don't quite feel that way. Now I'm glad that people come to church
anytime, but if it is only once or twice a year, that signals a deeper

It's kind of like this little story. It seems that a pious man, who had
reached the age of 106, suddenly stopped going to church. Alarmed by the old
fellow's absence after so many years of faithful attendance, the preacher
went to see him.

He found him in excellent health, so the preacher asked, "How come after all
these years we don't see you at services anymore?"

The old man lowered his voice. "I'll tell you, he whispered. "When I got to
be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then
100, then 105 and now another year has gone by. So, I figured that God is
very busy and must've forgotten about me, and I don't want to remind Him!"

Why is it that some people only attend church on Christmas or Easter? Do
they think those times are more holy to God than the rest of the year? Do
they think being there for those two services will somehow put them in God's
good graces? Most likely it is because they did it as a child with their
families or even because of the Hallmark movies that remind them of the
importance God and Church.

It is just possible that some folks really don't want to draw attention to
themselves. Or perhaps they feel so badly about themselves that they can't
bear being in the presence of people they perceive as being better than

Those of us who are struggling to serve God know that neither of those
ideas is right. Each and every one of us in our churches are sinners, saved
by the grace of God. We know and understand this and attend our churches on
a regular basis because we want the comfort of being with other people who
are just like us. People who are struggling in a world filled with sin.
That's why when we hear the words of Isaiah 9:6, it means so much more than
Christmas! Read the words again and determine you will be more than a once
or twice a year Christian. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is
given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be
called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The
Prince of Peace."

f you remember that, it truly can be the most wonderful time of the year!

Russ Lawson

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A sermon outline on the apostle Paul

Leaving Antioch
by Tom Wacaster

After Saul was converted, he immediately began preaching the gospel to his fellow Jews. From the beginning of his evangelistic endeavors, he was closely associated with the church at Antioch. There must have been a very special place in Paul's heart for these brethren, if for no other reason than the fact that they had a mutual interest in evangelism. That church became his "sponsoring" congregation, and as they say, "the rest is history." Paul would travel on three missionary journeys into Asia minor, Greece, and Macedonia. The souls saved as a result of their joint venture was a manifestation of the power of the gospel, and Paul's boundless energy as an Apostle of Christ. Those three journeys of Paul kept him away from home for years at a time. When opportunity availed itself, Paul would return to Antioch and give reports and encourage the brethren there. But his feet were never very long in any one place, and scarcely would he arrive home in Antioch before he would head off on another journey to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul had a great love for the church, and would often send greetings to those whom he might know at the congregation to which he might be writing a letter. There are some great lessons in a study of Paul and his association with the brethren at Antioch and those various congregations he had established over the years.

First, Paul was always very generous with his approbation for others. Where possible he would speak an encouraging word. His association with Barnabas ("son of exhortation") must have influenced him for the better. Timothy, Titus, the disciples in Rome - all benefited from Paul's kind remarks. God expects us to speak words of kindness to others, to be encouragers, and build one another up in the faith.

Second, Paul was interested in the souls of men. He was willing to "become all things to all men that he might save some." It was his love for the souls of his fellow Jews, as well as his love for the lost Gentile world, that motivated him to make so many sacrifices for the cause of Christ. Someone once asked me, "What is your favorite mission work?" I enjoy going to Russia because I have opportunity to help train preachers and to watch the church in Syktyvkar grow and develop. I enjoy going to India because of the open hearts and the sheer number of souls we can reach in so short a time. I can teach more lost people in two weeks in India than I can in two decades here in America. Hearts are open and receptive; something that seems to be rare in our society. Perhaps Paul was willing to go to the Gentiles for this reason. The Gentiles were far more receptive to the preaching of the Gospel than the Jews; and while Paul never lost his love for his Jewish brethren and desired anxiously that his brethren in the flesh obey the gospel (Rom.10:1-3), he never let an opportunity to teach the Gentiles escape him.

Third, Paul was an opportunist. He knew that doors of opportunity were often open only for a short time. No doubt he followed his own inspired advice to "redeem the time" (Eph. :18-19), and stood ready to take advantage of any opportunity that might come his way. We, too, must redeem the time. We should be alert to opportunities to teach God's word to others.

Fourth, Paul was a great example to others of what is involved in genuine commitment to Christ. He was willing to be "spent out" for the good of the brethren at Corinth. He proclaimed that he had been "crucified with Christ" in his letter to the Galatian churches. He told the Philippians that he was "set for the defense of the Gospel" (Phil. 1:18-19). Paul did not say and then not do! He both preached and practiced the essence of Christian living. He was the epitome of Christian living and servanthood. He could, perhaps more than any other man, encourage others to "follow me as I have followed Christ" (1 Cor 11:1)

Finally, Paul was optimistic. There was never a spirit of pessimism, or a demonstration of negativity on his part. He believed that Philemon would do beyond what Paul desired. He was confident that the Thessalonians would continue to demonstrate their evangelistic zeal throughout Macedonia. His confidence in Timothy and Titus can be seen in the work he gave them to do. Paul could easily have given up in the face of all the trials and tribulations he faced, and he faced more than his fair share. But he never gave up, and we are the better for it. When you are down and out, discouraged and disappointed, and you think you are barely holding on by the skin of your teeth -- remember Paul.

I have no doubt that Paul had close friends in Antioch (Barnabas, to name only one). Being human, he must have felt a tug at his heart when he had to bid farewell to his close friends and allies in that congregation that has often been referred to as the "Jerusalem congregation of the Gentiles." But knowing that he could be instrumental in saving the souls of men by his separation from them, he was anxious to make the journey. Someone once asked me why I wanted to go on so many mission trips. I will assure you, it is not because I love the weather where I go; it is not because living conditions are superior to those at home; it is not because I want a vacation. It is none of these. When I bid a temporary farewell to my "Antioch" brethren, it is because I rejoice in knowing that God can, and will use me to preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world. That is why I go; and that is why we find Paul so often leaving Antioch.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black friday stories

Three days ago we experienced a joyful occasion. We gathered with family and friends to fellowship around a table loaded with turkey, stuffing and numerous other wonderfully tasty foods and, when all was said and done, the turkey wasn't the only thing stuffed. It was Thanksgiving Day, a uniquely American holiday.

Hardly had our indigestion abated when another "uniquely American" special day arrived with much preliminary fanfare - "Black Friday." Only now it seems to be starting on Thursday evening. I guess that one day, regardless the ridiculously early opening hour, just isn't enough to sell or buy the "have-to-have" merchandise.

Much to my chagrin now, I've actually participated in this event. About 10 years ago would be the time of my lapse of sanity. I really believe that everyone should experience this day at least once in their lives, just so they can say, "I'll never do that again."

Reliving my experience, I got up around O-dark-thirty and drove to one of our large, chain-type stores to get something at a bargain price that I thought that I just couldn't live without. It doesn't matter what the item was - oh okay, it was a turkey deep fryer. After almost freezing to death waiting in line to get in, almost being squashed by a horde of unruly and greedy shoppers, I got my turkey fryer. It's still in the box, unopened, to this very day. Obviously I really needed it, huh?

But, I've been able, with a clear conscience since then, to say, "I'll never do that again" and not have to worry about violating my oath. With what I've said to this point about this "special" Friday, I'd like to sort of segue into some thoughts about another Friday. It wasn't called "Black Friday" back then, but in retrospect, by looking at all that occurred that day, it certainly could have been.

I'm going to condense my comments about this long-past Friday as best I can and I want to say at the outset here, that they are drawn from the following scriptural locations. I'd appreciate it if you'd check them out and make sure that I accurately provide you with what is found there. The source of my comments regarding that Friday is found in the following chapters: Matthew 25-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24 and John 18-20.

Yes, some very interesting and most important events took place on that Friday. No, it wasn't some fantastic sales or stampeding shoppers. Let me just relate some of the things going on back on that day.

By reading the above Scriptures you'll see that on that Friday: Jesus and His disciples shared the Passover Supper together and even sang a hymn. Then Jesus, accompanied by Peter, James and John walked to a small garden where we find Jesus praying and the disciples sleeping.

While Jesus is praying and the disciples sleeping, Judas is betraying. Not only did he betray his Lord and Savior, he also committed suicide on this Friday. On this Friday we find the "Council and priests" conspiring to convict Jesus of "something." To do so, they produce witnesses to falsely testify and worked up the crowd to demand His conviction.

We find that all of this presented a real problem to Pilate who tried three times to not convict Jesus of anything, but this "unruly" mob wouldn't have it so. They only cried out the more - "crucify him, crucify him."

It was also on this Friday that Peter first said that he was willing to die for Jesus, then he slept in the garden, then he denied even knowing who Jesus was. On top of that, the rest of Jesus' disciples "forsook Him and fled." All on the same day.

Jesus is tried in what we'd call a "kangaroo court," convicted, spat on, beaten, mocked and crowned with thorns and led up Calvary's Hill to be put to death in the manner of, and with, common criminals. There He is nailed to the cross and raised between two real criminals.

On this Friday of long past, Jesus is not only suffering the pain and anguish commiserate with that torturous death, He has the additional feeling of being "forsaken" by God, His Father. Yet, during all of these things happening to Him, He still "forgives" His tormentors because they really don't know what they are doing. Then, His life passed from Him.

Now, during this Friday afternoon on Calvary, there are some other strange events taking place in the area. The "earth was quaking" and the "rocks split open." There were even graves opening up and departed souls seen moving about. From noon to three PM the day became night as the sky darkened. The "veil of the Temple" was torn apart.

Yes, all of this took place and Jesus died on this Friday. When you think about it, I think this was really the original "Black Friday." Black because it had all the appearances of a total victory by Satan and evil over God and good.

Can't you just see what else must have been happening that Friday. The "Council" and the priests and Pharisees had been trying to arrest and kill Jesus for several years and now they could celebrate their victory. They had lied and conspired to get rid of this Jesus guy who claimed to be the Messiah. Now they had finally won. Or so they thought.

Jesus was taken from the cross and buried in another man's tomb. Great precautions were made to ensure that He stayed there. You know, He said that if he was killed, he'd rise again in three days so the authorities, even though they didn't believe in Him, weren't taking any chances. And, it's still Friday.

Well, today is Sunday. The first day of the week. And "Black Friday" was three days ago, wasn't it? And what are we celebrating today? The fact that, after all of the events that occurred that Friday past; after all the precautions to make sure Jesus stayed in the grave - He arose.

We sometimes sing an old hymn that has the words "Up from the grave He arose. With a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign." No, three days ago "His foes" thought that they had secured themselves a great victory. As it is to my "chagrin" that I once participated in our modern-day "Black Friday" think how much more "chagrined" Satan and those who participated in the first "Black Friday" must feel.

But, as we close, remember this: we, as Christians, get to share in this victory. The Gospel says that if we are "buried with Him in baptism" then we'll "rise with Him..." (Col. 2:12) Romans 6:4-5 says that, if we've been baptized or "planted" together with Him, we'll be likewise "resurrected" with Him.

I hope that when our modern "Black Fridays" roll around each year, you'll recall the original "Black Friday" and remember that Sunday is coming in three days.

                            "And that He was buried, and that He rose again the

                              third day according to the scriptures. (1Cor. 15:4)

Ron Covey



Morris Siegel

A Refused Inheritance

Doug Parsons once told about Morris Siegel, a homeless man that lived on the
streets of Los Angeles. Morris slept outside and carried everything he
owned in an old shopping cart. He died on December 14, 1989, from natural
causes; his body was found in an alley. But Morris was not a typical
homeless person. He died with $207,421.00 in the bank!

Then WHY was he living on the streets of L.A.?

Ten years earlier, Morris Siegel's father had died and left him a small
fortune. Morris never showed up to claim the money. Finally, the Division
of Unclaimed Property traced him down. They forced him to accept it, even
though he did not show up for the ceremony to receive the money. He did
take enough money to buy an old car in which he slept during bad weather.
Relatives rented an apartment for Morris, but he never went there. He died
with $3.00 in his pocket and a small fortune in the bank. His father had
left him a substantial inheritance, but Morris refused it.... *

It is the desire of God, the Heavenly Father, to give each of US an eternal
inheritance. Even though we were lost in sin, because of His great love for
us, God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, so that we might
become his children and heirs together with Christ. "Now if we are
children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if
indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his
glory" (Romans 8:17).

God wants each of us to become His children in order to give us that eternal
inheritance which includes an eternal home with Him in heaven.

We are "born" into His family when we place our faith and trust in Jesus
(Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus
before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) - "born of the
water and the Spirit" (John 3:3,5) - having our sins washed away by the
blood of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Then, if we will continue to walk in the
light of His Word, He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
(1 John 1:7).

If only we will accept His offer.

Morris Siegel died in poverty on the streets of L.A. because he refused to
accept his father's inheritance! Steve Williams has observed that sadly "to
this day, lost people shuffle around this world, walking up and down blind
alleys of sin, living lives of empty existence, refusing the wealth that God
would give them. They reject Christ and an eternal inheritance."

Rejecting Christ and His offer of salvation and life condemns one to eternal
destruction. DON'T make that tragic mistake!

Accept God's offer of sonship and salvation on His terms.

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Revelation 7:12

           "Blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power,

                  and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." Rev. 7:12

Well, my favorite time of the year has arrived - fall (or autumn). It's my favorite for several reasons, one of which is my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving. However, it's my fervent belief that the idea of "giving thanks" shouldn't be relegated to just one day a year. Rather, we should be of the mind to always be thankful. Maybe it's better said this way: that we should remember to always be thankful. With that said, I'd like to offer some thoughts on both this actual holiday and the general concept of "being thankful" for you to consider.

As to the actual holiday, "Thanksgiving Day," it came into official being in America on Oct. 3rd, 1789 when President George Washington read the "Declaration of Thanksgiving" and declared it to be observed on Thursday, the 26th of November. Of course that day has been changed over the years to its present date of observance being the 4th Thursday of November.

Before I leave the reading of this proclamation by President Washington I'd like to mention a few phrases contained in it. He said that this day should be "devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be." He said that we should "render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection."

I'll just mention a couple of other statements from this declaration and then we'll move on to some further thoughts in our lesson. He mentioned that some of the things we, as a nation, should be thankful for are; "the civil and religious Liberty with which we are blessed." Then, that we should, in general, be thankful "for all the great and various favours which He hath been pleased to confer upon us."

It's sort of hard to imagine a government and politicians saying things like that today, isn't it? I'll speak a bit more to this in a moment.

Let me tell you about another "declaration" of thanksgiving that occurred a few thousand years earlier. Oh yeah, we're not the first to recognize that an official day of thanksgiving be observed. You remember good old Nehemiah, don't you? Well, at least reading about him in the book by the same name. As a little background information on him, he was an honored servant to the king of Persia while the Jews were in captivity. Being such, he was allowed to return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding the walls of the city.

At the completion of the wall building they appointed a day for the dedication ceremony. It tells us in Neh. 12:27 that this day was set up to be a "day of gladness and thanksgiving." And just who do you suppose they thanked? Further on in verse 46 we read that they offered "songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God."

Reading those passages and thinking about what Pres. Washington said in his declaration made me think about a fairly recent news event occurring in our just-over election. Do you recall where one of our political parties had removed any reference to God in its platform and had to vote to put Him back in?

They remind me of something a person once said to me. He said, "Isn't it interesting...all these people who want to take God out of our lives have no problem celebrating Thanksgiving. Exactly who do they thank?" What a great question.

I don't really like dating myself, but I recall a phrase that was once commonly heard used. I'm referring to the phrase "much obliged." We don't hear that much anymore, do we? I like it because it reflects the attitude of gratefulness. Of people who have gratitude for what they've received. I believe that when we do our best to remove God from society, we end up with a strictly "secular society."

Enlarging on this thought, it's my belief that a "secular society" is an "ungrateful society." It becomes just the opposite, it becomes an "entitlement society." When it reaches that disposition they don't feel "obliged" to be grateful for anything that they've beneficially received. They're entitled to it so where's the need to thank anyone, especially God.

You know the Bible tells us what a "secular society" looks like. Open your Bible to 2 Timothy the 3rd chapter and note some of the characteristics of a godless society (secular or worldly) especially that it is "unthankful." (Vs 2) You'll also see that this kind of society is made up of "the covetous, the boasters, the proud, the blasphemers, the disobedient to parents and the unholy." I have a great fear that much of our current-day society fits these characteristics.

There is a phrase seen several times throughout the Bible that I like and it relates well with my thoughts today. The phrase - "due season." As in, things occurring at the appropriate time. I mentioned earlier that this time of the year is my favorite season and I see this holiday as being the most appropriate time for an official observance of thanks.

It's the "due season" for several reasons. I like the clear and warm days, coupled with the cool nights. I like the beauty we see around us at this time of the year. The leaves changing colors, and in some parts of the country, it is spectacular. It's also an appropriate time because of harvest and the reaping of God's bounty we are so richly blessed with. All in all, it's just "due season" for "thanksgiving."

In closing, this coming Thursday let's take a lesson from Israel of Nehemiah's day and render our "thanks unto God" first and then try not to commit suicide with a fork afterward. Furthermore, let's always be "grateful" and "much obliged" to Him every day of the year and strive to not become a member of the "secular society."

I'll leave you with a closing passage that should always be paramount in a Christian's way of life:

                        "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also

                         ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Col. 3:15

Ron Covey

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Count Your Blessings

An American preacher told of being on a mission trip to the island of Tobago
where, in a worship service, a woman requested the song, "Count Your
Blessings." She did so by raising a hand without fingers and speaking from
a face with neither nose nor ears. She was a member of the leper colony
where the service was being held.*

Erma Bombeck once wrote: "An estimated 1.5 million people are living today
after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be
among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had
cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday,
she thought long and hard and finally said, 'I don't know. I have two
sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!' The kid is
right." **

Have you counted your blessings recently? Are you thankful?

In the United States, we're approaching the Thanksgiving Holiday. Yet,
thanksgiving should be something we do every day.

The Amplified Bible gives this reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "Thank
[God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful
and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ
Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]."

Did you catch that? "No matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful
and give thanks." It can be difficult to follow this instruction,
especially if our circumstances are challenging.

But if a woman with no fingers can sing "Count Your Blessings," can't WE
find the blessings in our own lives? If a little girl suffering with cancer
can find joy in two sticker books and a doll, can't WE rejoice in the
blessings that we have?

"In Christ Jesus," there are countless reasons to be thankful, even in the
midst of the most difficult of circumstances.

The most difficult and deadly "circumstance" is to be lost because of our
sins (Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 6:23). But God loves us so much that He gave
His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24).
Those who accept His offer of salvation through their trusting obedience are
placed "in Christ" where all spiritual blessings are enjoyed (Ephesians
1:3) - blessings like the forgiveness of sins, the hope of eternal life,
peace that surpasses understanding, and being a part of God's family.

One accepts God's offer of salvation and is placed "in Christ" when he:
places his faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turns from his sin in
repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confesses Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and
is baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38;
Galatians 3:27).

No matter how difficult your current circumstances may be, YOU can have
every reason to be thankful if you accept God's offer of salvation and life
on His terms.

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vera Oliphant

Vera Oliphant is like most 16-year-olds; she spends a good bit of time on her
cell phone.  When she went to visit her uncle who lives in a desert area outside
of San Diego, she couldn't pick up a signal for her phone.  She began walking up
a hill in hopes of catching a signal at the higher elevation.

Vera said she heard the rattles before spotting the snakes.  She instinctively
began backing up, but that was the wrong move.  The mother rattlesnake, in
defense of her territory and her five babies, bit the teenager at least six
times.  After spending four days in intensive care and receiving 24 vials of
antivenom, Vera will be OK.  The nerves in her right leg will be affected for a
few years, but she has to count herself lucky to have escaped what could have
been a fatal incident.

The advent of smart phones has led to many accidents while the user is
distracted.  Driving an automobile demands full focus at all times, but many
believe they can text or surf safely while driving.  Others have learned that
even walking while texting can lead to serious consequences.  Vera's case,
however, is unique.  Who ever heard of walking into a den of snakes while using
a phone?

On second thought, maybe her case is not unique.  Thousands of others, I'm
confident, have been led into such a den while using new technologies.  No,
actual rattlesnakes are not what I have in mind, but a snake of a much more
sinister variety.

This "snake" has been around as long as people have populated the earth.  In the
Garden of Eden this serpent challenged the authority of the One who held the
title to the Garden.  Eventually he wore down the resistance of Eve, and she
broke the one law (that we know of) which God had given her and Adam to observe
(Genesis 3:1-6).  Soon she and her husband wished they had kept their focus!

David didn't have the technology we today enjoy, but he knew the dangers of
losing focus.  In Psalm 101:3,4 he shares this wisdom: "I will set nothing
wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not
cling to me.  A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know
wickedness."  Those are words that need to be applied before I pick up my phone,
my mouse or my television remote.  So much wickedness to see; such a deadly
rattlesnake waiting to strike!

Christians are not immune to such temptations.  Paul's warnings to the
Christians at Corinth are still needed: "Flee sexual immorality. ... Or do you
not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you
have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1
Corinthians 6:18-20).

The work of the serpent (Satan) goes on.  Those who walk upon this earth do well
to remain alert, taking care not to walk into his dens of activity.  The venom
he inflicts has lethal, eternal effects.

Can anyone deal with such a foe?  Yes: "So the great dragon was cast out, that
serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was
cast out to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:9).
The One who cast him out of heaven will one day fling him completely out of the
paths of God's people (Revelation 20:10).  As long as we keep near the Lord we
are safe from this ancient foe (see James 4:7,8).

Timothy D. Hall

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age

"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains 'What is worth defending? What is worth dying for?"                                                   LTC (RET.) DAVE GROSSMAN

As today is the 11th day of November in the year of Our Lord, 2012, you've no doubt surmised that the subject matter of our lesson today will be based upon some thoughts involving Veteran's Day. If you so surmised, you'd be absolutely right. I started this editorial off with the above quote by LTC Grossman as I intend to tie the thoughts expressed within it to some of my thoughts relating to both today as a national holiday observance and the observance of The Lord's Day.

Yes, today is a day of observance. Secularly speaking, in America it's called Veteran's Day wherein we observe and honor our nation's military veteran's for their sacrifice in the defense of our freedom. Religiously speaking, it's still a day of observance in that it's Sunday, the first day of the week in which we observe and honor the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. My thoughts today will center around these two observations.

Honor is certainly due to all of our nation's veterans. I am an unabashed and outspoken proponent of honoring our military veterans. I would love to be able to adequately express how much I respect them and how I feel about what our country owes them, but I'm afraid that my abilities in this regard is sorely lacking. So, to all veterans who read this and to the families of those who have passed on I simply say "THANK YOU" from the innermost depths of my heart.

As great an honor that's due to our veterans, the greater honor, nay, the highest degree of honor, is due to Jesus Christ. You may never have thought of it this way, but Christ is a veteran, and in reality, our greatest veteran. Why I say that is because He has already met and defeated our greatest enemy, Satan.

Let me enlarge a little on that thought. Our nation's veterans whom we are honoring today sacrificed in many ways, including much loss of life itself, and by that sacrifice, insures for us a "temporal" period of freedom from the powers that would physically enslave us.

Christ's sacrifice insures for us an "eternal" deliverance from powers that would also enslave us, IE: Satan and sin, which is his chief weapon. So, back to what I said about His being a veteran - He met the enemy and defeated him at Calvary. What better "General" could we have to lead us?

I'd like to return to some thoughts about our military veterans for a few minutes since this is their special day of the year. One of my favorite old black and white filmed war movies is The Gallant Hours and the setting is some naval battles of WW2 in the Pacific. A great actor, James Cagney, stars in it as Admiral Bull Halsey.

The battles depicted in the movie actually occurred at a time when our Navy was still reeling from the destruction of Pearl Harbor. We were facing a much larger foe in the armies and navies of Japan. It was in the Coral Sea area that it was determined that we would have to make a stand or else Australia, New Zealand and all of that part of the world would fall under the domination of Japan. Yes, it was time for a "stand."

In the movie, Cagney quoted something said by the real Adm. Halsey and I have always remembered it and have wanted to use it in an editorial. Today provides me that opportunity. A subordinate officer mentioned to him that someone was "a great man." Halsey replied, "There aren't any great men. There are only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet."

What a tremendous statement that can be applied to us as Christians. There will be times in our lives that we have to take a "stand." Circumstances which we are forced to meet. Probably no chapter in the Bible better speaks to this than the 6th chapter of Ephesians. This is the chapter (vs 10-17) that tells us about those "circumstances" or challenges which will come our way. Places where we'll have to take a stand.

It's here that we find that we don't fight these battles alone. That we have the "whole armor of God" at our disposal when we make our "stand." (vs 13) Plus, we have a weapon with which to fight back against the adversary - the "sword of the Spirit, the word of God." This is the same weapon wielded by which our greatest Veteran, Jesus Christ, defeated the Devil. "It is written....!" (Matt. 4:3-11)

But, like all weapons, we must know how to use them for them to be of any use to us. In other words, we have to be trained in their usage. It is exactly for this purpose that we constantly study "The Word" in order to be able to "wield our sword" effectively. There is a well-known Latin phrase that I feel is fitting to use here: "Sic Vis Pacem Parabellum." The literal translation is "If you wish for peace, prepare for war." A more modern usage of it is stated simply: "Peace through Strength."

My application of this phrase: we will be better prepared and not as vulnerable when our constant enemy, Satan, attacks if we have prepared to meet him. And, as Adm. Halsey said, and I adapt and paraphrase, we're just ordinary Christians that are always going to have to face the challenges of "the Devil." And it is only through Christ that we are "great enough" to meet those challenges.

In closing, let me opine just a little more on veterans. There is nothing glorious about war. As Gen. Sherman said after the Civil War - "War is hell." It is my opinion that none of our honored veterans sacrificed their lives for glory. If I had to pick one word to illustrate their sacrifice, I would choose the word "LOVE."  Love for our country, our freedoms, but especially for each other, their fellow soldiers.

Christians fight the "good fight" for the same reason - LOVE! Love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ and the sacrifice made for mankind, and love of the brethren. We fight to save our eternal soul and the souls of our brethren and fellow men. Going back to our preamble, this is the most "noble and worthy thing" we can do and is the most "honorable" thing because we are "defending" the cause of Christ, His Gospel.

Ron Covey



Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg

Following the July 1-3, 1863, Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil
War, a section of the battlefield was designated as a cemetery for the
soldiers slain in the battle. A ceremony was planned for November 19, 1863
for the "Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg." Edward
Everett was selected to give the chief oration. President Abraham Lincoln
was invited to formally dedicate the site. The organizational committee
expressed to President Lincoln: "It is the desire that, after the Oration,
you, as Chief Executive of the nation, formally set apart these grounds to
their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks."

These "few appropriate remarks" - the Gettysburg Address - that Lincoln
would share on that historic occasion have come to be regarded as one of the
greatest speeches in American history. In just over two minutes, Lincoln
"examined the founding principles of the United States in the context of the
Civil War, and memorialized the sacrifices of those who gave their lives at
Gettysburg and extolled virtues for the listeners (and the nation) to ensure
the survival of America's representative democracy" (Wikipedia).

Although the President was asked to dedicate the ground for the cemetery, he
concluded his Address with a challenge to the living:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before
us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause
for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation,
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the
people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

There is an even greater cause for which Jesus Christ, God's Son, was
willing to give "the last full measure of devotion." The "cause" was the
plan of God for the salvation of man that would be accomplished through the
death (and resurrection!) of His Son as payment for the sins of mankind.

Man's greatest problem has always been sin! And sin leads to eternal
destruction (see Matthew 7:13-14). But God loves us so much that He gave
His Son to die on the cross that we might be redeemed (Ephesians 1:7).
Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life
for his friends" (John 15:13). Jesus expressed "the last full measure of
devotion" to His heavenly Father and to accomplishing His Father's will by
giving His life for us.

In order to accept the Father's offer of salvation and life, one must place
his faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance
(Acts 17:30-31) confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized
(immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians

Then (adapting Lincoln's words to reflect spiritual truths), out of
gratitude for what Jesus has done for us, we should "take increased devotion
to that cause for which [Jesus] gave the last full measure of devotion -
that we here highly resolve that [Jesus] shall not have died in vain - that
[all those who accept Christ's offer], shall have a new birth of freedom" -
freedom from the bondage of sin and death.

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." - John 8:36

Won't YOU accept His offer of freedom, salvation, and life?

David A. Sargent

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blayne Barber Q School

When I was involved with Boy Scouting, I spent a little time trying to learn
use of a compass. A compass, if it's working properly, always points to
north. One who is skilled in orienteering knows how to use such information
find his way. Such a skill was never mine, however, and I've found a GPS to
a better alternative.

Each of us have within us an inner compass. This (we call it a conscience)
isn't helpful in finding physical directions, but when it comes to moral
direction it can be quite effective. If it's used, that is, it can be
But many ignore the promptings of this direction-finder.

Blayne Barber has attracted attention for the skillful use of his inner
Barber is an aspiring professional golfer. Last week he was on his way
that goal. He was doing quite well in "Q School", a setting where golfers
compete to see who will be allowed to play in PGA events. Barber was close
receiving his qualification. Then he disqualified himself.

Earlier in the week Barber was about to make a shot, and wondered if he had
brushed a leaf, an act that carries a two-stroke penalty. His brother, who
acting as his caddy, stated confidently that he had not brushed the leaf.
Still, Barber assessed himself a one-stroke penalty just in case.

Six days later Barber gave in to his conscience and notified authorities
that he
was disqualifying himself. His uncertainty over whether or not he committed
violation was too strong, and removing himself from competition would settle
matter. He states he now feels peace and has no regrets. The majority of
golfing world is giving him a hearty round of applause.

What do we do when no one is looking? Can we live with ourselves after
embezzling funds that no one is likely to miss? When no police officer is
present to clock our speed? When we falsify the figures we enter on the
form? Too many, it seems, have learned to ignore their conscience.

The apostle Paul once made a strong statement: "... I myself always strive
have a conscience without offense toward God and men" (Acts 24:16). That
strike some as hypocritical. Didn't Paul once lead the persecution against
early church? Was he not responsible for arresting and even executing
otherwise-innocent men and women?

He did indeed do such things - until he realized his error. After meeting
on the road to Damascus, he humbled himself by asking, "Lord, what do You
me to do?" (Acts 9:6). Later he would affirm, "Therefore, King Agrippa, I
not disobedient to the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19).

An old adage says, "Let your conscience be your guide." To a point that is
true. But Paul had a good conscience even as he led the effort to
Christianity. Here's the first question: Are we listening to God? Do we
what He has commanded us to do?

Once we know the will of God (from reading the Bible), then the conscience's
value shines, as it pulls us along to do what is right. If we ignore this
compass, we expose ourselves to this possibility: "Having faith and a good
conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered
shipwreck" (1 Timothy 1:19). Let's not be shipwrecked. After finding true
faith in God's word, let's then heed the promptings of our consciences.

Timothy D. Hall

How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if he had taken a poll in the land of Israel? . . . It isn't polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership

Harry S. Truman is quoted as saying:

"How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if he had taken a poll in the land of Israel? . . . It isn't polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership."

If you wait for approval or permission to do right by someone, that opportunity may never come.

If you're waiting for the right time to correct a personal offense, you may wait until it's too late.

If it's the perfect opportunity you're looking for to share the Gospel of Jesus, then every other opportunity will have passed you by.

If you want the go ahead from a neighbor to do for them a good deed to show you care, the nod may never come.

If you're looking for approval from friends and family to render complete and total dedication to the Lord, you may wait for a tomorrow that never happens.

The Bible says, "For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).

What if you always waited for permission to do the right thing? Something to think about.

I hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith

The Bible says, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man
that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to
think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the
measure of faith" (Rm. 12:3).
I remember studying this passage in the preaching school when the instructor
said that this verse contains four rules for living. Here they are:

#1 You have to know who you are.

#2 You have to learn to accept who you are.

#3 You have to appreciate that you are who you are by God's grace.

#4 You have to use who you are to the glory of God.

So, who are you? You're a man, or woman. You have successes and failures,
joys and pains. You're normal, just like everybody else around you. If
you're a Christian, you were a sinner saved by grace through faith for a
high purpose of serving and glorifying God. That's the point or purpose of
who you are.

Have you accepted who you are and what you can do for Him? Don't try to be
somebody and something that you are not. Just be you, and use your talents,
as God authorizes of course, to His glory.

Whatever abilities you have, they are a result of the grace of God--they're
not solely based on you. Remember what Paul said, "by the grace of God I am
what I am."

Finally, it is a God-given privilege to be a servant in His kingdom--making
contributions when and where you can.

Spend some time today with Life's Operating Handbook and learn the rules for

Have a great day!

For previous devotionals, visit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


It's Election Day!  After today the controversies, media debates, and political
ads will finally come to a stop and the next President of the United States will
 be decided. Millions of people are gathering at the polls to cast their votes.
 However, no matter your political affiliation, no matter who you vote for, and
no matter which man ends up taking office, there is something important for every
Christian to remember.

God's reminder comes to us from Romans 13:1, "Every person is to be in subjection
to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those
which exist are established by God."  There are three important phrases to emphasize
in this passage.

1) "Every person." Every person must submit to the government. There are no exceptions
to this command. This does not mean we agree with everything the government does,
but we must "submit to the governing authorities" nonetheless. Keep in mind this
 command was written to people under the corrupt, evil, and persecuting rule of
the Romans. We need to submit to our government, which is not nearly as bad as Rome's

2) "Established by God." Even though some evil and corrupt men have come into power
in times past, this verse clearly says God establishes the governing authorities
 (John 19:11). This certainly does not mean God accepts and stands behind the government's
decisions, Jesus sure didn't during His time, but God has at least allowed these
 people to come into power. Therefore, no matter who is chosen as the next president,
we must recognize God has placed this person into power and, as stated above, be
 in subjection to this man.

3) "No authority except from God." This is by far the most important phrase of this
verse.  No matter who is in charge, no matter what laws are passed, God is still
 in charge. None of the governing authorities would be in power at all if God did
not allow them to be. Our Lord is the ultimate authority in the world. As such,
this means God's laws come first even above ones established by our government that
may contradict Him.

It's easy to get emotionally attached to one candidate or another and become disheartened
if another is chosen. However, let's remember we still must stand in subjection
to the President and all governing authorities because God establishes them. We
are even called on to pray for such men (1 Timothy 2:2). Beyond all else though,
 let's draw comfort from the fact that our God is the King of kings, the Lord of
 lords, the Ultimate Authority, the Supreme Ruler, and the Perfect President.
Brett Petrillo

Who will occupy the White House as President ?

Today's the day! Or should I say, tonight's the night? If the returns come
in in a timely manner, we'll find out who will occupy the White House as
President of the United States this January. Will President Obama return for
another four years? Or, will it be presidential hopeful, Governor Romney? I
don't know. But here's what I do know:

#1 I have a responsibility to whomever is elected today. The Good Book says,
"Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (1 Pt. 2:17;
cf. Tit. 3:1-2). We owe our elected leader the honor and respect that the
office demands.

#2 Whether you vote today for a Republican candidate or Democratic
candidate, you will owe the winner your respect. While we may not always
agree with any particular Administration we still owe the office of the
President of the United States our respect. Paul said, "To speak evil of no
man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men" (Tit.
3:2). Over the last several months we've heard folks from both sides of the
political aisle speaking disrespectfully about one another. Is the "Golden
Rule" principle no longer valid? "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and
the prophets" (Mt. 7:12).

#3 Whether you vote today for a Republican candidate or Democratic
candidate, you will owe the winner your prayers. Francis Bacon once said,
"In this world, only God and the angels may be spectators." My friends, Mr.
Bacon was completely wrong. God is still in control. One of the prophets of
old said, "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he
that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have
called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the
waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow
thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither
shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isa. 43:1-2). Since God still works in
the lives of men, we must pray. Prayer is what calls upon the power of the
One who created heaven and earth and everything therein. Prayer is what
opens the door to the throne room wherein sits the One who healed the sick,
raised the dead, delivered the wanderers, and made salvation possible for
all. My friends, great things happen when we pray.

#4 Whether you vote today for a Republican candidate or Democratic
candidate, you will owe the winner your voice. For these past many months,
folks have voiced their concern, about what matters most to them--economy,
jobs, moral matters, etc. But don't stop now! Our voice can, must, and will
continue to be heard on Capitol Hill and in the White House with respect to
these matters. It is my hope that as we express our thoughts and concerns to
the one we elect--whomever he is, that we will do so with firmness but with
kindness. Remember how that Paul said, "But speaking the truth in love, may
grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15).

November is the month of Thanksgiving. So many have taken to the social
media sites and making daily posts for what they're thankful for. Let me
tell you what I'm thankful for:

#1 I'm thankful for the great country in which we live.

#2 I'm thankful that we can share ideas without the fear of imprisonment.

#3 I'm thankful that we live in a land of prosperity--compared to many
nations around us.

#4 I'm thankful that we live in a free society that allows us to worship
whenever and wherever we so choose.

#5 I'm thankful that we have people who are willing to sacrifice their own
lives for these freedoms.

#6 I'm also thankful for men like President Obama and Governor Romney, as
well as the many other political figures who choose to serve in the
political arena and endure some of the loneliest positions of power that

#7 Above all, I'm thankful for the God who still rules heaven and earth with
a hand of mercy, love, and kindness.

For previous devotionals, visit

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Countdown

Tomorrow's the big day! It's operation, "we decide." We decide who we will
hire for the position of Commander and Chief of our great republic for the
next four years. Who will it be? A large part of it will be determined based
on how the hopefuls have answered and continue to answer the questions we've
been posing over the past week.

So, this morning. As we draw this devotional series to a close--one more
tomorrow--here's the last question, Scripture, and prayer.

We've taught our children from as little as they are able to understand--do
not lie! Sir, if you are to have my vote tomorrow, will you be honest with
God, yourself, and the American people? Will you vow to tell the truth?

"Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear
God, men of truth,..." (Ex. 18:21).

Father in heaven. We've been praying about tomorrow for some time now. We
know that Your eyes are over the righteous and Your ears are attentive to
their prayers. Hear us, God. Give us wisdom to make the right decision
tomorrow. May we elect a man that will fear Thee, and be honest with us. In
Jesus' name. Amen.

For previous devotionals, visit

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Is it scriptural for Christians to vote?

During my career (?) as an editorialist I've seen a few articles, always
around election time, that asked a question such as "Should Christians
vote?" Or, also asked in this way: "Is it scriptural for Christians to
vote?" Since next Tuesday is "Election Day" I'd like to tread on what some
may say is "shaky ground" and offer some thoughts brought to fore by the
above two questions.
Let me start by saying that it's my personal feeling that it's the duty and
responsibility of all eligible Christians to vote. And, to vote for leaders
who will keep us the closest to God's principles as possible.

As a scriptural reference to my opinions here I'd like to direct your
attention to some words of Paul to Timothy and they're found in 1 Tim.
2:1-4. In order to save editorial space I'm going to paraphrase Paul's
writings here, but I'd appreciate it if you turn your Bible there and read
that passage.

In his letter to Timothy here, Paul says: (1) We're exhorted to petition, to
pray for and to give thanks for all people, especially our leaders and those
in authority. (2) For what reason are we admonished to do these things? So
that we can lead quiet and peaceful lives "in godliness and reverence."

Then (3) Paul says doing these things and having peace in our lives "is good
and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior." And number (4) he sums his
words up with the reason for doing and having these things: because this
fits with God's desire that all will be saved. Will come to know Him and the

Okay, let's break these verses down and look at them in the light of our
subject matter today. First off, if Christians are encouraged to "pray for,"
make "intercessions to" and "give thanks for" our leaders, shouldn't one of
the things we can pray and be thankful for is leaders who are able to bring
us "quiet and peaceful lives?" (That's a rhetorical question in that it
basically answers itself)
You know, as well as I do, that still today, in many parts of the world,
Christians are harassed by their own governments. To the extent that, in
some areas, their very lives are endangered simply by being Christians. I
think it would be very hard to pray for the leaders in places where
opposition to Christianity is supported by the government, don't you?

I believe that because our nation was established on Christian principles,
even though they seem much-diluted at this time, we can still be thankful
for leaders who do promote Christian principles. Be thankful that all our
citizens are guaranteed by the Constitution to have the right and the
privilege and the responsibility to vote. To have a say in who governs us.

Thus, in having that privilege, I see it as my duty towards the goals of God
(IE: "all men to be saved") to cast my vote for the person whom I believe
will be the most useful and effective to that end. And I fully realize that
it lies within the purview of the individual Christian to decide from among
the candidates who best fits the ultimate goal of God.

Let me advance my opinion this way: I believe that Christians have a duty to
do all they can to further the cause of Christ. That's exactly why the
church exists. (See Eph. 3:10-11) Therefore, I further believe that being
able to vote, to have a say in who leads our government, which can directly
or indirectly effect a Christian's ability to spread the Gospel, is a duty
we must perform.
I read an article about recent elections and some statistics reported in it
saddened me. It said that, among those professing to be Christians, 2 of
every 5 did not vote. And another statistic reported that, of that same
"professed" group, 1 in every 5 are not even registered to vote. Do you find
that as sadly interesting as I do?

One of the things that ancient Israel furnishes us is a lot of examples.
Both godly and ungodly. I think we can look at them as a fitting example of
our subject today. Ancient Israel had a history of choosing leaders that
were not approved by God. One good reference of this can be found in Hosea
8:4-5. Please take the time to read that passage.

In my humble opinion, I'm quite sure that God doesn't approve of all the
leaders in our world today just as He didn't approve of all the leaders that
Israel chose for themselves. But, He didn't stop them from choosing them. He
just warned them of the consequences of their choosing. Dare I say "who they

Speaking of consequences: don't we know and recognize that much of the
suffering here on earth is the result (or consequence) of having godless
leadership? That was certainly the results to Israel.

Solomon sort of touched on this principle in the words of Prov. 28:12 where
he says: "When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the
wicked rise, people hide themselves." That's saying in effect, when we have
righteous leaders, it brings glory and honor to the land. But, if the
leaders are wicked, it causes others to seek cover. I ask you, isn't that
just the opposite of "quiet and peaceful lives?" Rather more like lives of
oppression which is not conducive to the cause of Christ and God's goal of
saving all men.
In closing my thoughts today, I'll stick with wise old Solomon for some very
pertinent words, plus offer some words of my own.
First, my words: As Christians I think that we should do our best, as our
duty, to choose leaders who best promote "quiet and peaceful lives" and
thereby promote the principles and goals of God. And, understood in this
opinion of mine is, that we should not choose or elect anyone to lead us
that contradicts God and His principles.

And now, the words of Solomon:

"Righteous exalts a nation, but sin is a
reproach to any people."

Proverbs 14:34

Ron Covey

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