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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#Missy Franklin

Olympic swimming is incredibly exciting to watch. Such as watching the young
Missy Franklin come from behind to win the gold and seeing if Michael Phelps
still has some speed left in him. All of this swimming excitement has made
some people (myself included) desire to jump in the pool and swim as fast as
possible, just for the fun it. One man took these excited feelings a bit too

A 34-year-old British man was overtaken with Olympic fever while at the
beach in Biarritz, France. He told his friends that he was going to swim
across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City to show his excitement for the
games. His friends knew he was a strong swimmer, so they let him jump in the
water thinking he was joking and would turn around soon enough. Before long,
the man was out of sight.

This man's ambitious goal was soon interrupted by a rescue helicopter. A
diver jumped down, swam over to the man, and reminded him that the distance
from Biarritz to New York City was 3,595 miles. Despite the warning, the man
boasted of his awesome aquatic skills and kept on swimming. As a point of
comparison, the average Olympic swimmer swims at about 5 mph (and they are
swimming as hard as they can by the way). Swimming 3,595 miles at an
incredible 5 mph would still take 30 days! Thankfully, the man eventually
came to his senses and was rescued.

This man reminded me of the examples Jesus gave in Luke 14:27-32. Jesus
speaks of a man who tries to build a tower without calculating if he can
afford it and of the king who takes his army into battle without considering
if he can win. Scripture consistently encourages us to think before we speak
or act (Proverbs 3:5-6; 11:14; 15:22; etc). Of all the advice given, some of
the best is stated in Proverbs 16:1-3, "The plans of the heart belong to
man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man
are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your
works to the Lord and your plans will be established."

It can be hard to remember to make good decisions, especially when that
Olympic fever comes. So, here is a little tip to guide us in making better
decisions. I call it the 3 P's of good decisions: (1) Pray, (2) Ponder, and
(3) Prepare. Following these 3 easy steps can be the difference between a
making bad decision and following God's plan for you. So, next time we feel
like swimming across the Atlantic, changing jobs, moving, or even a small
decision, let's remember the 3 P's of good decisions.

--Brett Petrillo

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Are You Adopted?

Several years ago, I was working in my office when I received a phone call.
It was a phone call from a man whom I had never met by the name of Daniel

Daniel said, "David, I have an unusual question to ask you."

"Uh, okay" I responded. "What is your question?"

"David, are you adopted?"

"Well," I responded, "I don't think so, but I can ask my parents. Why do
you ask?"

Daniel began telling me that he and his two brothers were adopted out to
different families when they were all very young. They could not keep in
contact with one another as they were growing up because none of the
brothers knew where the others had gone. Daniel said he had been able to
find and get reacquainted with one of his brothers. Now they were trying to
find their other long, lost brother. They wondered if I might be their

Daniel had seen my picture in the Magnolia Messenger, an informational and
instructional religious publication edited by A.L. Franks of Kosciusko, MS.
Daniel thought that there may be some family resemblance in our looks, so he
decided to call and ask if I had been adopted as a child.

My parents, Glenn & Sara Sargent, assure me that I am their biological
child. But if I were not, they would still be my loving parents! They have
taken care of me since I was born into the world, and they still bless me
with their wisdom, their example, and even frequent meals and occasional
help with household projects! (I am blessed to live about a mile away from
my parents.)

Even if I wasn't related to them biologically, they have loved me as their
son, and I have loved them as my parents. If I had not been born into their
family, I would count it a privilege to be adopted by them.

There is something very special about parents choosing a child to love and
nurture as their very own. Adoption is a beautiful thing, especially the
opportunity that each of us has to be adopted into God's family!

Each one of us had been "orphaned" because of our sin, but God loves us so
much that He wants to "adopt" us into His family. Please read Romans
8:15-17 and Galatians 4:4-7. At just the right time, God sent His Son to
redeem us from the bondage of sin and to give us the opportunity to be
adopted into His family (the church) as His children -- with all the
privileges, responsibilities, and rewards that He has for His children.

God adopts and accepts us into His family when... we place our faith and
trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts
17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized into
Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27).

Friend, God wants to adopt YOU into His family, but YOU have to accept His

Won't YOU?

P.S. Daniel, I may not be your brother in the flesh, but because of Jesus,
you and I are brothers in the Lord! What a blessing to be "blood-related"
(by the cleansing blood of Jesus) in God's Family, the church!

David A. Sargent

Friday, July 27, 2012


What does Chick-Fil-A and the Boy Scouts of America have in common? If you
have kept up with the buzz lately, both of these groups are receiving heavy
backlash for their stance against homosexuality. In response, Eagle Scouts
have mailed in their medals to voice their disapproval. Others have vowed to
no longer eat at Chick-Fil-A. There has been a huge amount of pressure put
on by our culture lately to accept homosexuality. Such messages have come
from videos, news cites, and even President Obama. Is our culture right? Has
Chick-Fil-A and the Boy Scouts of America gone too far? As some are
claiming, is this anti-gay stance just growing a new generation of prejudice
and hate?

Determining which side is "right" and "wrong" can be slippery. Hopefully we
can all agree that there is a right and wrong answer and the ultimate
authority on this topic is God. After all, He said in Isaiah 55:8-9, "'For
My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' declares the
Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher
than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" God determines what is
right and wrong, not men, not the President, and not our culture. It is
ultimately His words we must follow (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). So,
where should we stand?

Here is what God has said on this topic:
The only approved intimate, sexual, and marital relationship is between a
man and a woman (Genesis 1-2; 2:18f; 2:24; Matthew 19:1f; 1 Corinthians
3:18f; Ephesians 5:22f; 1 Peter 3:1f; etc).
Homosexuality was condemned in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:22, 29; etc).
Homosexuality was punished by death in the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:13).
Entire cities were destroyed by God because of homosexuality (Genesis 19; 2
Peter 2:6-8; Jude 5-7).
Homosexuality is a choice that can be changed and controlled (1 Corinthians
6:9-11, especially vs. 11 - "such were some of you").
Homosexuality is called unnatural and condemned in the New Testament (Romans
1:26-28; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; etc).
One has to do a lot of twisting and contorting to get around all of God's
teaching on this topic. God has clearly stated that homosexuality is wrong.
This doesn't mean God hates the sinner, but He does hate the sin. We should
never act ugly and hateful towards homosexuals, but we most definitely
should speak against this sin! Therefore, we should show also support for
the position Chick-Fil-A and the Boy Scouts have taken and applaud them for
their boldness. We should even join with them in proclaiming God's truth
about homosexuality.

Chances are very unlikely that taking this stance against homosexuality will
be popular, but the truth has rarely been popular in the first place
(Galatians 4:16). Even God Son was persecuted, ridiculed, and killed for
teaching the unpopular truth! For this reason, I pray that we have the
courage to repeat the apostles' bold exclamation, "We must obey God rather
than men" (Acts 5:29).

Brett Petrillo

Monday, July 23, 2012

Facts about suicide

by Tom Wacaster

Sometime in the week of March, 1997, in Rancho Santa Fe, California, the 39 members of Heaven's gate cult committed suicide. The suicide of the cult members (21 women and 18 men, ranging in ages from 26 to 72) was seemingly prompted by the belief that a UFO traveling in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet had come for them. They believed it was time for them to shed their earthly bodies and move on. They had orchestrated the worst mass suicide in the United States history.

Reverend James Warren "Jim" Jones was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which is best known for the November 18, 1978 mass suicide of 909 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana along with the killings of five other people at a nearby airstrip. Over 200 children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of whom were forcibly made to ingest cyanide by the elite Temple members. The incident in Guyana ranks among the largest mass suicides in history, though most likely it involved forced suicide and/or murder, and was the single greatest loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001.

While these two notable examples of suicide are the tragic consequence of believing and following error, the majority of suicides come as a result of despair and frustration with life and an attempt to escape. Last week we examined euthanasia. The morality of suicide crosses paths with euthanasia when the individual seeks to end his life because of suffering or supposedly noble reasons. Oregon passed a doctor assisted suicide law, allowing doctors to assist in the suicide of a patient who wanted to end his life. This so called "Death With Dignity Act" is just one area in which suicide is being considered an easy way out for individuals facing a sense of hopelessness in life. Michael McDaniel shared these frightening statistics with his readers: "For 15 to 24-year olds, suicide is the third leading cause of death, following accidents and homicide. Every year, an average of 1,890 suicides occur among teens 15-19. More than 1,600 of them are boys. Although girls are mor e likely to attempt suicide, boys are four times more likely to die." Times of hardship often brings a spike in suicide levels. For example, the Great Depression of 1929, which suddenly brought economic ruin to thousands of people accustomed to a decade of prosperity, caused an immediate and dramatic spike in suicides. Suicide rates, which averaged 12.1 per 100,000 people in the decade prior to the Depression, jumped to an alarming 18.9 in the year of Wall Street's crash. The suicide rate remained higher than normal throughout the remainder of the Great Depression, then fell sharply during World War II. Comparing that to suicide rates in our generation, the rate in 2007 was 1 suicide every 15 minutes, for a total of 33,300 in that year. In 2008 the rate increased by 33%, and another 15% in 2009. Suicide is often an attempt to escape the frustrations of life rather than face the hardship that one might have to face as a consequence of various circumstances (many of those! the result of a persons unwise choices). Suicide has been evident in every society and in every generation. My mission travels have taken me to various parts of the world, and it is not uncommon to hear in the news that someone else has taken his life. From Russia, to India, to the United States, no country is exempt from the ravages of sin and the attempt to escape the consequences thereof by the taking of one's own life. More than 100 years ago J.C. McQuiddy wrote these words in the September 1908 issue of the Gospel Advocate (quote provided by Daniel Cates): "Nor does the discordant note end here; for, tired and worn-out with the emptiness of life, thousands are seeking rest in oblivion and slinking out of a hollow sham of life by the back alley of suicide. In the city of Pittsburg, there was a death every day in this way during the first eighteen days of July. This strange mania is constantly gaining ground, and is not confined to lunatics and nerveless, diseased! people, but people apparently sane and healthy often choose this fate . Life is actually getting to be terrifying in its aspects."

All of this is an indication of a growing disrespect for life in general, and a despair toward life in times of distress and/or sickness. Unfortunately an increasing number of people from of all ages are turning to suicide to escape the mental anguish that plagues them. Webster defines suicide as "the act of killing oneself intentionally; in law, the act of self-destruction by a person sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility." One important element in that definition are the words, "a person sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility." The late Guy N. Woods conducted the open forum at Freed Hardeman Lectures for more than 30 years. Unfortunately his comments on suicide were not published in either of the two volumes of "Questions and Answers." I recall hearing him address this issue from time to time, and though I cannot quote him exactly, his thoughts were in agreement with Webster's definition of suicide. The key to understanding the right or wrong of suicide centers around whether or not the act was "intentional" and if the person was indeed "sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility." When a person has lost his ability to reason clearly and logically, and kills himself, that person certainly is innocent before God because of the Almighty's very nature. God's compassion, mercy, and love certainly come into focus here. But when a person, "sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility," who chooses to intentionally take his life, that is another matter. While there may be exceptions to the case, a Christian "sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility," who intentionally takes his life is demonstrating a selfish attitude. Solomon concluded that the one who lives a lone and self indulgent life is actually showing contempt for those who have sound judgment (cf. Proverbs 18:1).

One principle that needs to be emphasized here is that suffering may be a providential means God uses to mature a person spiritually. Job is a good example here. This great man of God had done nothing to deserve his suffering. Unknown to Job was the fact that Satan had been allowed by God to inflict Job with pain in order to demonstrate that man's great faith in the face of adversity. Had Job committed suicide Satan would have won the argument. Instead Job was "blameless and upright" (1:1), and he refused to heed the advice of his wife to "curse God and die" (2:9-10). Job's days of suffering humbled the man so that he listened to God's rebuke and repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:6).

Paul is another good example of someone who benefited from suffering. Whatever Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was, God refused to remove that thorn, and instead provided Paul with the grace to handle his situation with faith and confidence in God. Never once did Paul entertain the idea of committing suicide to find relief from the persecution of his enemies.

As our society increasingly turns its back on God, the more frustrating and meaningless life will become, and more people will turn to suicide as an escape. You and I have a great opportunity to demonstrate to others the Christian life that offers hope and joy. Let us be faithful toward this end.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he
stands in moments
of comfort and convenience, but where he stands
at times of
challenge and controversy." (Martin
Luther King)

A few days ago, while listening to a talk radio program, I heard a statement
made in regards to former President Ronald Reagan that caused me to start
thinking about the subject of our lesson today. That subject will be - the
character of a person. The statement consisted of these words: "The measure
of a man."
The gist of my thoughts today center around the question of "How do we
measure a man (a person)? We know, of course, that man's yardstick is far
different from God's. Let's look first at some of the ways man measures

They look at factors like the circumstances of one's birth. Proverbially,
were they born on the "right side of the tracks?" How wealthy are they or
their family? One of the prominent factors in man's judging is physical
characteristics. IE: are they handsome/pretty or plain/ugly? You see, these
and other factors are only important in the shallowness of a lot of people's
minds. Hopefully you'll see that my point here today is that, regardless of
any of the above factors, we can still live a life of character.

Let's go back to Pres. Reagan for a moment. A reporter once wrote a column
about him and in it he said several things that I found fitting to our
lesson today. He said that even those who disagreed with him liked and
respected him. Shouldn't this be a visible characteristic of a Christian
today? I think so and in support of that opinion I'd like you to read the
words of Paul in 2 Cor. 6:1-6. If we stand for the truth with "love
unfeigned" we might be disagreed with, but we should still be respected. And
it's Christ who is glorified by that respect.

The reporter further described Reagan's character with the following
descriptors: courage, honesty, kindness, persistence and "almost heroic
patience in the face of setbacks." Read again Paul's words in 2 Cor. 6 and
then turn to 2 Pet. 1:5-8 and see if the so-called "Christian graces" doesn't
fit here also.
The reporter also penned the line in his column that goes directly to our
lesson thoughts here. He wrote: "The true measure of a man is not his
talent, intelligence, wealth or career success - character is what counts."

It's the character of a Christian that allows us to approach the grace of
God. It's the character of a Christian that causes them to remain "faithful
unto death." It's the character of a Christian that gives us the courage to
stand for right and truth at times when it might be unpopular and
The Bible tells us that none of us are inherently good. That all of us "have
sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) We've all made
mistakes, have erred, and will continue to do so as long as we draw breath.
But we know that we are saved by the Grace of God, through faith in Jesus
Christ and it is my humble opinion that it's our Christian character that
keeps us faithful.

If you'll allow me, I'll cite to you another example of character from a man
of history. In 1894 a Captain in the French Army by the name of Alfred
Dreyfus was falsely accused of being a spy for Germany by some anti-semitic
army officers (Dreyfus was Jewish), convicted by a secret court martial and
sentenced to imprisonment on Devil's Island. This became known as The
Dreyfus Affair.

He spent 5 years in that terrible prison and once was offered a pardon, but
he refused it on the grounds that to accept it would mean admitting that he
was guilty of the charges and he was not guilty. Even though they tried to
keep this affair secret, it became known and the famous author, Emile Zola,
along with others, began a public outcry which resulted in his exoneration
and restoration to being an officer in the French army. He served with
distinction and honor through WW1 and following the war, was made an
"Officer of the Legion of Honor." He was a man highly respected and honored
by his countrymen.

I believe that Alfred Dreyfus can provide us with a great example of a
person of character. He was courageous in the face of the enemy, persistent
in the face of great tribulation and false accusations, not to mention
"heroic patience in the face of setbacks." Plus, when he was exonerated, he
did not show bitterness and hatred towards his country or fellow citizens.
He returned and served honorably and was recognized and respected for his

And now let me summarize my thoughts here. Yes, it's nice when we possess
the character that causes our fellow man to respect, admire and even like
us. I repeat my belief that a Christian should have that reputation and
recognition with their fellow man. But it's what our character is with God
that really counts.
Do we possess those Christian characteristics pointed out to us in the
scriptures. Characteristics such as those mentioned by Peter (2Pet. 1:5-8).
And those spoken of by Paul in Gal. 5:22-23. I'll repeat what I said
earlier - it's these characteristics that allow us to approach the grace of

Remember what I said earlier about how man measures his fellow man? That
wealth and material things seem to count a lot in man's way of measuring? I
had an acquaintance tell me the other day something her mother said to her
when she was a child growing up on a ranch. She had asked her mother if they
were poor and her mother, obviously a very wise woman told her: "We're not
poor, we just don't have any money."

We can have all the money in the world. Have reached a high career plateau.
Been born into wonderful circumstances with great opportunities available.
We might even be blessed with "movie star" looks or a great physique. We
could have all these things and yet, when it comes to character, be poor.
A Christian might be lacking in the things that man sees as methods of
measuring, but if possessed of Christian characteristics - will never be
poor by God's measuring stick.

Ron Covey

Signs of #autism

William LaFever, a 28-year-old man, called his father from Boulder, UT one day in June to inform him that some of his hiking gear had been stolen and that he was out of money.  LaFever told his father that he would make his way to Page, Arizona, where he'd be able to receive a wire transfer of funds.

The family didn't hear from LaFever for weeks.  They feared for his life and called for help.

The Utah Highway Patrol and the Garfield County Sheriff's office began searching for LaFever.  The search to find him became more and more urgent not only because LaFever had been in the desert for three weeks but also because he has autism.

Shane Oldfield, a helicopter pilot for the Utah Highway Patrol, remembered that he had learned in a recent search and rescue class that individuals with autism are drawn to water.  So Oldfield and Deputy Ray Gardner of the Garfield County Sheriff's Office decided to fly over the Escalante River to search for LaFever.  In their first pass over the river last Thursday afternoon, they spotted LaFever sitting in the river, waving his arms.  He was alive but out of food, dangerously emaciated, and near death.  "He couldn't walk.  He couldn't crawl.  He was down to rolling," said Oldfield. *

There is another "search and rescue" mission that is ongoing in which Someone is looking for YOU and ME.

You and I are lost because of our sins.  Sin leaves us spiritually emaciated and destined for destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

But Jesus, the Son of God, came to this world "seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).  Jesus "knows where to find us" because He knows to what we are drawn: sin (see James 1:14-15).  He also knows that every one of us has failed to resist
temptation and sinned in the sight of God (Romans 3:23).  But because of His great love for us, He died on the cross so that we might have forgiveness for our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).

Jesus will rescue us when we place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).

Jesus already knows where we are and how desperately we need to be rescued.  We can be saved if we will accept His offer on His terms.

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent

Friday, July 20, 2012

#aurora #Colorado #shooting

Our community is experiencing unspeakable grief. A young man became a
hardened, merciless killer overnight in our city, killing at least a dozen
and injuring several dozen more. Grief and confusion abound. People are
struggling for answers.
It is transparently clear that this exemplifies a symptom of sin-sickness in
society, but that observation will not bring back a single victim or undo
this horrific crime. What we have right now is an opportunity to share with
the fearful and hurting the God of all comfort.

Paul so describes Him in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. In those few verses alone,
Paul uses the word comfort 10 times. Look at the different ways Paul assures
us of God's comfort, which will help us in traumatic circumstances like

God's comfort is comprehensive (3). Apart from Him, man is ultimately
comfortless. He is the God of all grace (Rom. 15:5), but He's also the God
of all comfort. Nowhere else we go to find it is legitimate, apart from Him.
The Bible uses two metaphors to describe His comprehensive comfort, first of
a shepherd (Isa. 40:11) and the second is that of a mother (Isa. 66:13).
This is fitting, since God is both gentle and strong, nurturing and

God's comfort is plentiful (5). Jesus said He came to bring us abundant life
(Jn. 10:10). Abundance is a key word in 2 Corinthians. It means to be more
than enough, with some left over. We may often see abundant poverty and
suffering, but even when there's suffering, hardship or trial we can be
confident that "God's grace is sufficient for us" (2 Cor. 12:7).
God's comfort is located (5). Comfort literally means "to call to one's
side." If all comfort is available only in God, it makes sense that we must
answer the call to walk by His side to have it. Paul says God's promises are
fulfilled through Christ, including the promise of comfort (1:20). So, I
must be in Him and right with Him to have comfort through Him.

God's comfort is effective (6). It is effective in the patient enduring of
what we suffer. God will deliver us, but biblical comfort is not simply an
emotional sedative or anesthesia. David Garland has said, "God's comfort
strengthens weak knees and sagging spirits so that one faces the troubles of
life with unbending resolve and unending assurance." We can be like the
little boy, separated from his mom in the mall. He was looking around for
her and getting scared. He began to cry because everyone was a stranger,
everything looked so confusing, and every store was packed. He didn't have
his Mom. Suddenly, his mom found him and picked him up. He stopped crying,
not because his surroundings changed, but because of whose arms he was in.
What makes God's comfort effect is that God's the one offering it!

May we find comfort from the God of all comfort at this trying time!

Neal Pollard

I heard a very prominent political figure addressing this tragedy and
filling his speech with references to God and Scripture. How refreshing!
God has the best answers for our nation's trials and struggles.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

sermon outline on king Rehoboam

Taxmaggedon is coming January 1st. Families will see an average
tax increase of $4,138. Baby boomers' average will be $4,223 and low-income
taxpayers can expect a $1,207 increase. Millennial will take an average hike
of $1,099 and retirees $857, according to the Heritage Foundation.

Will Rogers said, "The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't
get worse every time Congress meets."

God began His human creation with Adam and Eve and they quickly
multiplied and replenished the earth. But just as quickly as they
multiplied, they paganized. They turned violent and corrupt. So, in a sense,
God surgically removed the majority of the human race from His plan and
eventually focused on Abraham.

The story of King Rehoboam is the story of God removing the
majority of Israel because of idolatry so that He might focus on one
family - the family of David, or in the words of the prophets - the remnant.
King Rehoboam was ideal for this purpose because of his nature. He was what
we might call today a "tax and spend liberal."

King Solomon had a strong and successful foreign policy. Part of
that was due to the fact that his father was a defense hawk. Another reason
King Solomon had a successful foreign policy was because he developed his
own "dollar-diplomacy". This made Solomon the wealthiest man in the annals
of human history.

The problem was that King Solomon, despite his wisdom that
superseded all the wisdom of all the men who had ever lived before him, did
not follow God's law like he should. The Bible says that King Solomon's
wives led his heart away from God. To punish King Solomon for his reckless
abandon of God's laws, the Lord raised up three adversaries - Hadad the
Edomite, then Rezon king of Aram and Jeroboam who was King Solomon's
Secretary of Labor.

That brings us to Solomon's successor - King Rehoboam. King
Rehoboam did not have the diplomatic success that his father had. It was
difficult for him to keep the alliances which his father had formed. He
wanted to maintain the same appearances of success and prosperity that was
evident during the reign of King Solomon. But he could not do it based
solely on his foreign trade.

When the people hear that King Rehoboam is going to increase
taxes - make them even heavier and higher than his father, the people break
off and create their own nation - the nation of Israel with its capital
eventually at Samaria.

In the ensuing years, King Rehoboam was faithful to God. The
priests left the northern tribes of Israel as Jeroboam built golden calves
to worship in Dan and Bethel - and these priests came down and joined
themselves to King Rehoboam and the nation of Judah. These were fairly good
days for the southern tribes of Judah.

In 2 Chronicles 11:17 tells us that King Rehoboam walked in the
way of David and Solomon - in the sense that he pretty-much followed God's
law - the law of Moses - for three years. But as with so many people - with
King Saul and King Solomon and the United States of America in the 21st
century, in the midst of prosperity comes an intense secularism and
religious matters, spiritual focus gets pushed to the side - 2 Chronicles
12. Observe verse 1.

Because God had forsaken the prosperity of Israel, the leaders
of Israel humbled themselves before God. Notice that the word "humble"
occurs four times between verses 6 and 12. But ultimately, observe verse 14
of chapter 12: "He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the

What we learn from this lesson:
High and exorbitant taxes have a way of destroying nations and, ironically,
creating new nations.
God can use evil men to accomplish his work - Rehoboam, Nebuchadnezzar,
Pontius Pilate.
God expects faithful obedience then and He expects faithful obedience now.
Even if the nation divides because of high taxes, God is still at work and
He'll be faithful to the remnant who remains faithful to Him.

--Paul Holland

Life Happens

I've heard the phrase, "Life Happens" several times lately and have more
than once seen it used as an excuse for not doing what the person knew they
should be doing. One family told me that they had always intended on being
involved in church, but "life happened" and for the past 40 years they had
just been too busy to attend.

Perhaps what folks really mean when they say "life happens," is that there
is a change of priorities in their lives, but that happens to all of us
doesn't it?

This past week we just finished a great Vacation Bible School with our
church. It was full of youth and enthusiasm and in general recharged the
spirits of all who were involved, but it also took its toll physically. The
day the VBS ended I started getting sick. It just so happened that I had a
doctors appointment for my yearly physical in which everything came out
great, except for the fact that I was beginning to get sick. The doctor did
prescribe medication for me which was a good thing, because the next day I
became really sick with a throat and bronchial infection. I told my wife, "I
don't have time to be sick," but that wasn't true, I had to make time to be
sick, because "life happened," to me. My priorities had to change and
instead of ministering to others, I had to be ministered to.

Priorities are funny things, because they do change. We have our plans, our
goals, and our priorities in a certain order. We may not write them down, we
may just hold them in our minds, but each of us has them. Some folks are so
rigid in their lives that if "life happens" they are destroyed, others just
go with life, rearrange things and move on.

In our 45 years of marriage my wife and I have changed some of our
priorities, we have adjusted to opportunities and challenges through the
years because it's true, "life happens." However one priority has never
changed. Our number one priority is that of serving God. All of our other
priorities revolve around that one key priority. That priority is the key
that gives our lives stability and purpose.

That's why when someone calls or comes by when it is time for us to go and
meet with our church family there is no conflict in our minds. We know our
priorities. When some difficulty or tragedy happens in life there is never a
question as to how this will affect our relationship to God, because we know
our priorities.

Yes, life happens to each and every one of us, but if you have your
priorities right, your spiritual house built on the solid foundation, life
will happen, but it will not change what is truly important in your life.
Jesus put it this way: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and
puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against
that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
(Matthew 7:24-25)

Russ Lawson

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What is euthanasia?

On November 22, 1998, CBS's 60 Minutes ran a 14 minute segment that featured
retired pathologist Dr. Jack Kevorkian killing 52 year old ALS suffer Thomas
Youk. It was the top rated program for its time slot, according to Nielsen
ratings. A lethal injection of potassium chloride was administered by
Kevorkian on September 17 in Youk's Michigan home and it was video-taped.
The American Medical Association issued a news release calling Youk's death
"an outrageous violation of medicine's code of ethics." Kevorkian
acknowledged assisting in 130 suicides since December 1990. He has been
prosecuted 10 times, eventually being convicted of taking life in November
of 1998. As a result of Youk's death, Kevorkian was charged with first
degree murder. He stated that what he did could not be considered a "crime
in any society which deems itself enlightened." We will see at the close of
this article exactly how "enlightened" a society is that takes such a

In 1973 the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand. The baby boomers had
cast off all restraints and as a consequence there was a "boom" in unwanted
out-of-wedlock pregnancies. In order to eliminate these unwanted children
and/or cover up the sin of fornication, abortion was legitimized and the
wholesale slaughter of the unborn began. Since that infamous decision by the
high court more than 54 million babies have been destroyed at the hand of
doctors who were willing to cast off their Hippocratic oath in exchange for
the almighty dollar. Little did the Supreme Court realize that their
decision would pave the way for other "bioethical issues" that would follow
in the years to come. On that cold day in January 1973 the value of life
itself was diminished, and the consequences would be far reaching. While
abortion demonstrates a flagrant disrespect for life in the womb, euthanasia
does the same for life outside the womb. If euthanasia is permitted, what
age or physi cal condition shall we allow the cessation of life to take
place? Who is to decide? Politicians? Doctors? Proponents of euthanasia such
as Peter Singer, Princeton University professor of ethics, have entered the
metaphysical realm to seek justification, openly and boldly asserting that
being homo sapiens is not the crucial factor in whether a person should be
allowed to live or be put to death by society. In his words, "It is, rather,
characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make
a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore,
cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other
self-conscious beings" (Practical Ethics, 2nd edition, page 182). Any
rational being knows full well that if such a view is accepted with regard
to infants and/or children, the application at the other end of life's
spectrum is inevitable. Robert Bork, in his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah,
made this astute observation:!

The systematic killing of unborn children in huge numbers is part of a
general disregard for human life that has been growing for some time …
It is permissible to kill the unborn human for convenience, it is surely
permissible to kill those thought to be soon to die for the same reason. And
it is inevitable that many who are not in danger of imminent death will be
killed to relieve their families of burdens. Convenience is becoming the
theme of our culture. Humans tend to be inconvenient at both ends of their
lives" (page 172).

So far the advocates for euthanasia have limited their attempts to make
euthanasia to those who are suffering and wish to end their own lives in
some form of "easy death" treatment. Dutch pediatrician Eduard Verhagen,
however, goes beyond the personal approval of killing someone who is
suffering to allowing doctors to make the decision. In an article from
'Catholic World News,' May 2, 2005, this particular doctor suggests that
"Death can be more humane than continued life if (life) involves extreme
suffering." To be more frank, he is suggesting that the doctor is actually
more caring and humane if he takes it upon himself to end a patient's life.
This doctor even admitted to having lethally injected four newborns. I would
not want this man to be my doctor in my declining years of life, would you?

Perhaps it would be good to provide a definition of euthanasia. A synonym
that is being bandied about is "mercy killing." Our English word euthanasia
comes from the Greek words, 'eu' and 'thanatos,' and literally means "good
death." Of course some have blurred the issue by using such euphemisms as
"death with dignity," "right to die," and "mercy killing." But regardless of
the language, the act is the same and the right or wrong of that act must be
measured in the light of God's word. The key word here is "killing." There
is a vast difference between "mercy killing" and allowing someone to die if
that person is already dying. On occasions a patient may request that no
treatment be given that might artificially extend his life. That is not
euthanasia. Some years ago former Surgeon General Everett Koop said, "The
whole thing about euthanasia comes down to one word: motive. If your motive
is to alleviate suffering while a person is going through the throes of
dying, a nd you are using medication that alleviates suffering, even though
it might shorten his life by a few hours, that is not euthanasia. But if you
are giving him a drug intended to shorten his life, then your motivation is
for euthanasia."

One need only to examine the record of King Saul's death to determine the
Bible's view of "mercy killing." David was horrified at the manner in which
an innocent bystander took it upon himself to end Saul's suffering, albeit
at Saul’s request (see 2 Samuel 1:5-6). Job never sought to bring
relief to his suffering by euthanasia, either self inflicted or at the hands
of another. Of course Job's wife is another story for she told Job to "curse
God and die." While she would go the route of euthanasia to alleviate pain,
Job trusted in God.

I will close this week's article with an observation from Henry Farrar,

I did not go to medical school to learn how to kill, In fact, I do not know
one physician who goes to medical school to learn how to kill. Physicians go
to learn how to preserve life. Euthanasia is an obscure word invented to
soften the hammer thud of murder. Supporters of euthanasia, such as Dr. Jack
Kevorkian and today's physicians who follow in the train of Adolf Hitler,
have forgotten their reaons for becoming physicians. God joined together
flesh and spirit and created life, and a man has no right to burst it
asunder. The gradual increase of murders in Nazi Germany started with forced
sterilization in 1933. In 1934 abortion of undesirable unborn children
began. In 1939 euthanasia began for deformed children, then mass killing of
the insane. Mass killing of the Jews began in 1941. Atheistic and
materialistic professors and physicians followed Hitler's program of hate
and murder of those who stood in his way. Will the United States slide down
that same slippery slope to murder of all the useless, socially unproductive
people and the elderly?" (Gospel Advocate, January 1999, page 27).

by Tom Wacaster

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, the first in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, is
about a nation divided into twelve districts, under the control of the
Capital. To keep the districts under control, the Capital stages the "Hunger
Games" each year. Each district is to supply a teenage boy and a teenage
girl to compete - to the death. The games have gone on for 75 years.

If morality finds its origins in society, there is nothing wrong
with the Hunger Games. If morality is based on what a society decides is
good or not good, there can be nothing morally wrong with such a
competition. One could not argue that the fight to the death was inherently
wrong if there is no standard of morality outside of society.

That's the problem when people want to say that society
determines what is right and wrong. Homosexuality is right because society
says it's okay. Divorce for any reason is okay because society has grown to
accept it. Adultery is okay because "everyone does it." Evolutionary
anthropologists like to say that all these "mores" we have developed based
on societal standards and what we, as humans, have observed is beneficial
for us.

It does not take long once you get into The Hunger Games to see
that everyone does not approve. Why? Because instinctively we know that
society does not determine what is right and wrong. There is a standard of
morality that is beyond and outside of society. There is a moral law that is
over and regulates even society. That moral law is codified in the New
Testament, the revelation of Jesus Christ. "Do unto others as you would have
them do to you" (Matthew 7:12). That is the most succinct yet comprehensive
moral law in human history.

According to an article in The Washington Times, Suzanne Collins
is a Catholic (March 31, 2012). While we disagree with much of Catholic
teaching, they do recognize that there are moral absolutes and those
absolutes are revealed in the Bible. I would be interested to know if
Collins was intending to send any theological (or political) messages with
her book.

For the thinking audience, she implicitly argued for the Moral
Law Giver - God Almighty.

--Paul Holland

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Give and it shall be given unto you

I was in a position to overhear a conversation regarding religion and "going to church" the other day wherein one person was telling another that you couldn't go to church anymore without the subject of "giving" being mentioned in some way. Of course the "giving" being spoken of was referring to the giving or contributing of money. I'm sure that you've heard or been involved in conversations regarding this subject in the past also. It's not a new or unfamiliar statement uttered by some people, is it? I'd like to address this subject of "giving" with you today and offer some thoughts about it for you to consider.

If I were a preacher and deciding to speak on the subject of "giving," which needs to be the topic of a sermon every now and then, I think that I'd offer these thoughts. Let me just start off by citing an oft-used passage pertaining to our subject that's commonly heard in lessons on "giving." Actually we usually only hear the first part of a verse found in Luke 6:38 and that first part is this: "Give and it shall be given unto you...." The rest of the verse is not quoted much of the time, but rest assured, we'll get back to it later.

You've probably also noticed that those eight words are cited almost all the time by radio and television evangelists trying to get their audiences to send them money. And, it's usually accompanied by stories of how someone sent in some money and within a short period of time received some sort of windfall of funds. All because they donated some money to this particular program.

My point here is, that in just about all cases, both from the pulpit of the Church and the media programs, the "giving" relates to money. Posing myself as a preacher and deciding to speak on "giving" here's the way I'd address it and I hope that you don't find my thoughts too radical here.

First off, I'd say to those people, like the person I overheard complaining about hearing about "giving" every time he went to church, I suspect that they don't attend church very often. That perhaps it's just their karma to so seldom be there that they just happen to hear a lesson on "giving." Maybe, if they went more often, they'd hear a lot of other good lessons from the scriptures which they are otherwise missing. I'd try to do this in a loving manner though.

I think the next point of my sermon would be to point out another phrase that's often heard by our fore mentioned speakers and that is "the power of giving." As said earlier, this generally relates to the reaping of some sort of monetary, earthly rewards for having made a contribution. I would take this phrase and talk about things that it relates to other than financial.

I believe that the "power of giving" relates to far more things than money. I believe that the "power of giving" is really more about things such as "time" or "kindness" or doing one's "duty." Couldn't we even relate our "giving" to "praise and honor" to God? Of course we can. The apostle Paul even said so in so many words when he said in 1 Cor. 7:5 that if we don't "give" ourselves to these things we put ourselves in danger of allowing Satan to enter our lives.

In another oft-cited verse relating to "giving" (2 Cor. 9:7) we see these words: "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."

And yes, Paul here is referring to the monetary gifts made by the churches of Macedonia toward the "poor saints of Jerusalem" (Rom 15:26) but I think there is more to be learned by Paul's words in 2 Cor. than relates to just money given. Let's just look a some of them.

In the 8th chapter he tells us that they "first gave their own selves to the Lord" and then they gave their money to Paul. (Vs. 5) Notice in verse 7 that they "abounded in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence." But then notice what else they "abounded" in - "love." I see these things mentioned in verse 7 as being the things which they "first gave their own selves" to towards God.

It's my opinion that it's the "giving" of these things that allowed them to give monetarily with a "cheerful heart." Plus, by their "giving" or "abounding" in the non-monetary things we see in 9:8 that "God is able to make all grace abound" toward them. That they would have "all sufficiency in all things" and "abundance for every good work." That, brethren, is the "power of giving."

In the next point of my lesson, I would switch from The Scriptures for a moment and tell you about some things that science has found out about "giving." And here again, I'm not talking mainly about money "giving." Scientists say that there are certain hormones created in our bodies when we're "giving." These hormones are the ones that bring about the feeling of well-being and increased pleasure. In a nutshell, by "giving" help to others, we're helping ourselves at the same time. Does science's findings go a long way to helping us understand the words of Christ in Acts 20:35 "It is more blessed to give than to receive." I think they do.

At this point of my sermon I'd return to The Scriptures and make another point about "giving" meaning a lot more than just money. The Gospel of Christ is replete with scripture telling Christians that they are "servants." Here's a few that you can look up and verify what I say: Rom. 6:18, 6:22, Eph. 6:6, and Col. 3:22. There are many more, but these should be sufficient to get the point across.

Back to the point - a servant "serves." I'll just use one passage to conclude this point and I find it in Gal. 5:13 where we see that it is "through love that we serve one another." Isn't this what motivated the Macedonians to "give" cheerfully? I'd conclude this point with the thought that "service" to others, done through "love" is what causes God to "abound" blessings to us. And that "service," in it's various forms, is as much a part of "giving," if not more so, than money.

I think that I'd close my lesson by returning to our original scriptural reference, Luke 6:38 and use the last part of the verse to make my final point. Notice how that verse ends: "For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." I would tie these words to one more verse from 2 Cor. 9 where Paul says that "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."

My point: that "giving" is just like "sowing." And this is the rule for all forms of "giving." I would ask my audience two questions in closing this lesson. (1) You're the farmer - how much seed are you planting? And (2) When your period of farming and servitude is over - how do you want your epitaph to read? A "good and faithful servant" OR a "wicked and slothful servant?" It's your call.

Ron Covey

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Who was Daniel Boone?

What American isn't a fan of Daniel Boone? This legendary figure helped
open up
the heart of the continent to early settlers of our country. After reading
relatively new biography of Boone last year, I have an even greater respect
the risks this man took.

Today, while working with a church in London, Kentucky, I spent some spare
at Levi Jackson State Park. I spotted a trail that took off into the woods.
Upon closer inspection I learned that this was part of the "Daniel Boone
the trail he blazed to lead settlers from North Carolina into Kentucky. In
day, the best passage into the new territory was unknown. By following this
path, pioneers stood a better chance of reaching their desired destinations.

I wonder why no one has named a portable navigation device a "Boone"? There
numerous times that I've wanted to get somewhere, but don't know the way.
the GPS, I almost never have any trouble getting there. How times have
since Ol' Dan'l hacked his way through wilderness!

A similar challenge confronted the descendants of Jacob (renamed "Israel" by
God) as they headed out of Egypt in search of their new Promised Land.
was this land? How would they get there? Even Moses was not equipped with
information needed for that journey.

God had the information, though, and He was there to lead the people. "And
Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by
in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He
not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from
before the people" (Exodus 13:21,22). Even Daniel Boone didn't offer
escort to every party that traveled the Trace. But God led His people

Let's now talk about our own journey, the one we're taking right now toward
eternity. If you know anything about the Bible, you know the desired
destination. We want to reach heaven, to be in the very presence of God.
you know the way, however? Not unless you know the One who blazed the

Here is how the work of Jesus is presented to us: "Therefore, brethren,
boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way
which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh" (Hebrews
10:19,20). The trail Jesus opened for us was a painful one for Him. Only
His death on the cross could we ever hope to arrive in the presence of God.

To put the idea in its simplest terms we turn to Jesus Himself: "I am the
the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John
14:6). If our aim is to find our way to eternal bliss, the challenge is
We must be in Christ.

And how does one come to be found in Christ? Consider what we're told in
Galatians 3:26,27: "For you are all children of God through faith in Christ
Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
The terms are simple. The trail has been cleared. All who desire to reach
heaven are now able if they are willing to submit to the Lord's authority.

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

Timothy Hall

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What does the Bible say about capital punishment?

Capital Punishment

On May 13, 1981, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Bobby Grant Lambert was walking out of a Safeway supermarket in Houston, Texas. An assailant approached Lambert and put his hand into Lambert's rear pocket. When Lambert resisted, the assailant pulled out a pistol and held it to Lambert's head. Lambert dropped his groceries and the assailant shot him in the chest. As the assailant fled, Lambert stumbled back into the grocery store, where he died. The robber got away with the change from a $100 bill, although police later found $6000 in $100 bills on the victim's body. Graham was arrested, convicted and sentenced to be executed. Hollywood elites took interest in Graham's case, and along with various "rights" advocates, every attempt was made to stop the execution of Graham. Consequently it gook almost 20 years before Graham would be executed by lethal injection.

On the evening of July 19, 1976, Gary Gilmore robbed and murdered Max Jensen, a Sinclair gas station employee at 168 East and 800 North in Orem, Utah. The next evening, he robbed and murdered Bennie Bushnell, a motel manager at City Center Inn at 150 West and 300 South in Provo. He murdered these people even though they complied with his demands. As he disposed of the .22 caliber pistol used in both killings, he accidentally shot himself in the hand, leaving a trail of blood from the gun all the way to the service garage where he had left his truck to be repaired shortly before the murder of Bushnell. Michael Simpson witnessed Gilmore hiding the gun in the bushes, seeing the blood and hearing on a police scanner of the shooting at the nearby motel, wrote down Gilmore's license number and called the police. Gilmore was charged with the murders of Bushnell and Jensen, although the latter case never went to trial, apparently because there were no eyewitnesses. Gilmore was tried and convicted, and executed on January 17, 1977 at 8:07 a.m. by firing squad at Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah.

Karla Faye Tucker, after having spent the weekend of May 12, 1983 doing drugs with her boyfriend Danny Garret, burglarized the home of Jerry Dean, and in the process played a part in the gruesome murder of Dean. Both Tucker and Garret were tried and sentenced to death in September of that year. The interesting thing about Tucker's imprisonment was her conversion to "Christianity" and her subsequent marriage to her prison minister. She was executed on February 3, 1998. She was the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War.

The list of "notable" and "not-so-notable" executions could go on, enough to fill dozens, if not hundreds of bulletin pages this size. Every time an execution takes place those opposed to the punishment lift their voices in horror suggesting that "capital punishment does not work." Of course it would depend upon the motive behind capital punishment as to whether or not it "works." Capital punishment advocates suggest that it is a deterrent, and that the very existence of capital punishment has served as a successful element in reducing crime. It has long been acknowledged that the absence or uncertainty of punishment is an encouragement to do evil. The wise man Solomon tells us that "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Those who oppose capital punishment argue that it does not serve as a deterrent. Among the most outspoken are those on death row who scream at the "unfair" and "cruel" judicial system for the situation in which they now find themselves. To this I would make three observations: First, convicted criminals would not be in favor of capital punishment for obvious reasons. Second, the proof of a death penalty deterrent will be found in the many who actually refrained from such violence due to the fear of death. Finally, the death penalty has lost much of its designed force due to the failure of, or capricious manner in its application and administration. Those who oppose capital punishment will often pick up on a case of wrongful conviction to which the death penalty was the attached punishment, and will plead that it is unjust because it takes the life of an innocent person. Of course there are those who plead "cruel and unusual punishment." The one element that so many fail to realize (or choose to forget) is that capital punishment is just that - "punishment." It is the penalty one pays for taking ! the life of another. The late and lamented British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher correctly pointed out, "People who go out prepared to take the lives of other people forfeit their own right to live. I believe that the death penalty should be used only very rarely, but I believe that noone should go out certain that no matter how cruel, how vicious, how hideous their murder, they themselves will not suffer the death penalty." Whether or not it serves as a successful deterrent is not the issue when it comes to determining the right and wrong of the practice. Even if it could be proven that it has no effect in deterring crime, it should still be administered as punishment to those who take the life of another!

Capital punishment was first authorized by God in the days of Noah in Genesis 9:5-6: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made he man." In Exodus 21:12 it is stated, "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death." If one responds that these are Old Testament passages and thus not applicable in this situation we would point out that the sacredness of life and capital punishment are clearly taught in the New Testament as well. "Thou shalt not kill" is found five times in the New Testament (Matt. 5:21, 27; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 13:9; James 2:11). By using the familiar commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" in New Testament application it is obvious that some sort of punishment is to be meted out to those who take the life of another. What is that punishment? Paul tells us something about the authority of government in these matters in Romans 13:4: "For he is the minister of god to thee for good. B ut if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." The sword was an instrument of death. If one is going to argue Biblically as to the divine authority for capital punishment he must give careful and serious consideration to these words by Paul.

I'll close with this astute quote from Theodore Roosevelt: "As regards capital cases, the trouble is that emotional men and women always see only the individual whose fate is up at the moment, and neither his victim nor the many millions of unknown individuals who would in the long run be harmed by what they ask."

by Tom Wacaster

Monday, July 9, 2012

How many churches lack a full time preacher?


    I'm reasonably confident that most are familiar with the above statement, knowing it is what God said in Genesis 2:18 concerning Adam.  Though Adam lived in a paradise and was surrounded by many animals, still he was alone.  He was alone because he had no one else like himself with which to associate. God solved the problem by creating woman. 


            The principle ingrained in the statement that it is not good that man should be alone, has several applications reaching out beyond the marriage relationship.  For example, it is not good if a man has no friends.  Life is so much more tolerable and meaningful if a man has at least one good friend.  Preachers are notorious for having no friends. Sure we are surrounded by many people, most who treat us well and would come to our rescue if we had a need. Still, a preacher must be "on guard" at every word he speaks knowing that it can be twisted, taken out of context, and used against him if the circumstances are ripe.  We were warned about this in Preaching School, but at the time, I didn't believe it.  Thirty years later - - I believe it.  I know a preacher who was good friends with a non-Christian whom he had grown-up with.  The preacher kept encouraging him to come to his church.  Finally, the man told him, "We're too good of friends for me to start coming to your church."  The more I think about that, the more truth I see in it. While there are some exceptions, the rule is if a preacher has a real friend, it will be another preacher.  If such cannot be found, "burn-out" most likely occurs, and another empty pulpit is added to the already 8,000 pulpits that are void of a fulltime preacher in our Brotherhood.


            Also, we can see the wisdom of God in commanding a weekly assembly of those who are of "like precious faith."  Why? Because it is not good that man should be alone.  Assembling with fellow Christians allows us to absorb strength and encouragement from one another.  Failing to associate with fellow Christians could lead us to develop the "Elijah complex," i.e. thinking we are the only real Christian left. "Not forsaking the assembly" has tangent applications that are beneficial beyond what is specifically stated in Hebrews 10:24-25.


            There is also a "divine" principle in the statement that "it is not good that man should be alone."  It has to do with the "communion" that Christians take on the first day of every week. The word "communion" should destroy the word "aloneness."  Not only do we have fellowship with one another, but also with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1John 1:3).


            A good wife is precious;  a good friend is precious;  fellow Christians are precious, and communion with God is precious. Why? Because "it is not good that man should be alone."


                                        --Toby Miller

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

When The Storms Of Life Are Raging

When I preached in Livingston, Alabama, Selman Falls would often lead us in
singing the song, "He Will Hide Me." This M.E. Servoss hymn was in the
Songs of the Church hymnal. Servoss, a woman from Chicago ("Mary
Elizabeth"), was a prolific hymn writer. This was maybe her most notable
hymn. Perhaps no imagery is more graphic in scripture than depicting
troubles as a storm (cf. Psalm 55:8; Proverbs 1:27; Isaiah 25:4-5; 1 Timothy
1:19; etc.). Storms are frightening and damaging. I sat in a hallway with
my head in my lap in Junior High in Franklin, Georgia, during a tornado and
my family and I rode out a hurricane in Virginia in 2003. The unknown of
what the storm will do adds to its ferocity.

I read David McCullough's Johnstown Flood, about the torrential rains that
broke the Little Fork dam and unleashed a calamity of its kind unmatched in
modern, U.S. History. People were completely swept away, crushed by debris,
drowned, and even burned to death. The storms of that late May day in 1889
cost 2,209 people their lives. McCullough tells about Victor Heiser's
incredible survival in this flood. He climbed into a barn just before the
powerful waters blew through the property and he watched the family house
(in which his parents were) instantly demolished. The barn was carried
downstream in such a way that it barely missed whole houses, freight train
cars, barns, and the like before the then sixteen year old Heiser found
refuge with nineteen others in the attic of a two-story brick house
commandeered by the flood. Along the way, he witnessed the deaths of
several not so blessed as he. Heiser made the most of the blessing. He
grew up, became a doctor, and it is estimated that he saved as many as two
million lives through the development of the first effective treatment
against leprosy. He died at the age of 99 in 1972.
Most storm survivors are not as acclaimed and famous as Victor Heiser. So
many have taken hold of the hand which calms the storms and have enjoyed the
Lord's guidance as they weathered their own storms of tragedy, trouble, and
transgression. They reached their end, many of them having aided others to
escape through Christ! Spurgeon and a friend saw a weather vane upon which
were written the words, "God is love." The friend objected, saying, "God's
love is not so fickle and transient. That vane is not correct." To which
Spurgeon replied, "No, friend, you have misunderstood its meaning. It is
correct. It suggests that God is love, which ever way the wind blows."

Donna Dungan, a wonderful Christian lady who has lived along the Gulf Coast
where many fierce storms have blown, wrote a poem to comfort a friend
suffering from an unknown virus that eventually took her life. Her
beautiful words may bring you comfort as you deal with your storms. I close
with it.

Though a fierce storm is raging about you

And you fear there is nothing you can do

There's a place in your heart where He meets you

And in the eye of the storm He carries you through

Don't let go, don't try to leave the eye, or the storm will take you in

Nothing will overtake you while you are holding on to Him

There is a place of peace and rest that is safe from the battles of life

A place in your heart where He will shield you from worry and strife

Our Lord never sleeps nor slumbers while His children are in pain

He alone has the power to hold you up until you are whole again

Oh, please don't let go--just hold on

In the eye of the storm just hold on.

--Neal Pollard

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Flight 93 Memorial

Well, another month has come and gone. Actually, it seems like it has flown by. Helps me to better understand the words of Job when he lamented that his "days" were passing "swifter than a weaver's shuttle." (Job 7:6) In down-home parlance, that means "faster than a Chevrolet race car." Well, however you want to picture it, time just sometimes seems to speed by pretty quickly, doesn't it?

Today I'm going to present to you some thoughts as sort of a potpourri of spiritual lessons. A couple of short lessons, each having a spiritual point to them. I hope that you find them beneficial to your soul and my prayer is that they are in approval with God's Way.

As most of you know, my wife and I returned recently from a trip to Washington DC and, as we usually do, took some back roads and visited various parts of our country. One of the places we stopped, actually came upon it by accident as we were headed toward another historical site, was the "Flight 93 Memorial." Refreshing your memory, that was the airline flight that the passengers took over from the 9-11 hijackers and crashed it in the gentle rolling hills of Pennsylvania.

As we tuned off of the highway en route to the memorial I noticed a grove of freshly planted evergreen trees alongside the roadway. As we neared the actual memorial I observed several more groves being planted. I was to learn from the caretaker that this was the first part of what will eventually be 40 groves of 40 trees representing the 40 passengers and crew members who perished on Flight 93. There is a phrase there that reads "A common field one day. A field of honor forever."

I was reminded of another memorial consisting of a grove of trees honoring a group of people also killed by Muslim extremists. In 2005 in Madrid, Spain, terrorists set off a bomb in the train station killing 192 innocent people. Spain has planted a grove of 192 trees to represent those killed by the bombing and they've named it the "Forest Of The Absent."

Here's my spiritual tie in to the memorial trees of these two incidents - to their purpose for being planted in honor of something. There's a beautiful psalm written by David to the glory and honor of God and it's found in 1 Chron. 16. It was to be sung to the people and I can easily see this as a memorial to God. The entirety of the song is seen in verses 8 through 36 but I'd like to point out verse 33 for you to consider: "Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because He cometh to judge the earth."

My second short lesson sort of relates to what I said about the passing of time as three days from now, Lord willing, we'll celebrate the 4th of July, the day that our nation declared it's independence from England. Here's a few thoughts of mine regarding that occasion.

The first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says that it's "self evident that all men are created equal." What I found interesting about that statement is, that those men who framed and wrote both the Declaration and the Constitution were wealthy individuals. Remember the times in which these documents were written: times of slavery and bondage.

They were actually times wherein many people were not seen as being equal with some others. Not only materially-wise, but in rank or social standing. Recall, there was no democratic nation anywhere then. They were governed by royalty. They certainly did not see the non-royalty class as being equal to them. And the framers of our nation were born and raised in this atmosphere. Yet, they started off by saying that "all men are created equal." I find that amazing.

How could that have occurred? Something this foreign to the thinking and mores of that day? Here's my humble opinion - God! The basis of my belief in this opinion: many documents and letters from those early days speak about their asking for God's guidance in creating this nation. The Dec. of Ind. even has these words written at the end of the declaration: that they "relied on the protection of Divine Providence" in their work.

One of those framers was Benjamin Franklin, an extraordinary individual. In a speech, relative to the establishment of the Constitution, he said these words: "The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men."

There are many other examples that could be cited but time and space preclude the use of them. Back to my opinion: I firmly believe, that by their stated reliance in the direction of "Divine Providence - God" a nation, foreign in nature and commonly held beliefs, was established. One wherein "all are equal." No one has any more or any less rights than their fellow citizens. Am I the only one to see God's hand, His influence if you will, in this endeavor? I hope not.

Psalm 33:12 says "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord..." I believe that our nation started out having our God as our Lord, but I'm afraid that we have, as a nation, left Him. Remember from studies of the Old Testament how Israel was formed as a nation by God and was tremendously blessed by Him. Then recall how they, over a few generations of time, left him to pursue other gods? Do you remember what he said of them? How He referred to them as "a nation void of counsel?" (Deut. 32:28) Are we becoming a nation such as that?

Personally, I'm afraid that we are. It seems like every poll taken regarding Christianity or religious faith shows a smaller percentage of Americans that profess to believe in or follow God. As our nation turns from God it makes me wonder what gods it's turning to. My guess - that we're now "worshiping and serving the creature more than the Creator." (Rom. 1:25) And I think that we're rapidly becoming a "nation void of counsel."

Ron Covey

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