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Friday, June 23, 2017

What is real cheese?

DID YOU KNOW...Any cheese which is labeled as "processed cheese" is really only 49% cheese (even thought it is labeled as “Real Cheese”. The other 51% is coloring, binders, preservatives, and stabilizers. So… does that make processed cheese “real” cheese or only a “cheese like” product. How close to “the real thing,” does something need to be before it is considered… well… real?


DID YOU KNOW... that there are no regulations regarding the labeling of Honey? A product can have as little as 1% honey (the rest corn syrup), and still be labeled as 100% honey. How much honey does it need to be real honey.


DID YOU KNOW… that many who claim to be Christians, don’t read their bible regularly, don’t attend the worship periods of the church, don’t share their faith with others, don’t fellowship with other Christians, often don’t live their lives as if Christ lived within them, yet are still labeled as “Christians”. How much much of God’s directions or commands do you need to keep to still be considered a “real” Christian?


John wrote in 1 John 2:3-4, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” So… how much does it take to be a real Christian according to God’s Word? It seems to me that God is saying that it takes (at least trying to give), 100% of our lives to him.

Is 49% of the real thing enough? Well, that’s one of the reasons we don’t buy “processed cheese,” I want the “real” thing. Do you think that God will be satisfied with 49% of your life?


--Russ Lawson

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Does the meaning of the Greek word "psallo" authorize instrumental music?

"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19).

In this famous text, the expression "making melody" comes from the Greek word "psallo." Some have argued that this word, in its original usage, implied the use of instrumental accompaniment to the singing that occurred during the worship services of the early church. In response to this claim, consider these points:

1) All authorities and commentators are in agreement that the early Christians in the first century did not use musical instruments in their worship assemblies. Therefore, those who knew the language and used it as their native tongue DID NOT understand the meaning of the word to include the use of the instrument.

2) Around 600-700 AD, the Greek Orthodox church split from the Roman Catholic church, and one of the main contentions was the use of musical instruments. Those who knew the Greek language at that time DID NOT understand "psallo" to include the use of instruments. Interestingly, the Greek Orthodox church continues to this day to only sing and not use instruments in their assemblies.

3) In the last several centuries, there have been dozens of English translations of the New Testament. Among all of the hundreds of scholars who translated those versions, NONE of them believed that the word "psallo" should be translated to mean "sing with instrumental accompaniment."

So, think of it this way: in the first century, then around 600-700AD, and in this modern day, those who knew and know the Greek language the best have NEVER believed or taught that the word "psallo" should be translated to include the idea of instrumental accompaniment.

- by Greg Gwin



Genesis 4 relates man's first attempt to worship God. Abel, a shepherd, brought an offering of the firstlings of his lock. Cain, a farmer, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. The Bible says, "And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering, but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard" (vv. 4-5). Whatever may have been the difference in this case, one thing is clear: God does not accept everything offered Him as worship.

The Concept of Worship - Worship is our acknowledgment of God's worth. Occasionally, the Bible uses the term of everyday living which respects His will (Romans 12:2). Mostly, worship refers to special acts of devotion intended to express to God our regard for Him. Either way, the underlying principle is reverence for God. Worship may therefore be defined as a reverent attitude which is expressed by a life of service and special acts of devotion.

Common Mistakes - The prophets of the Old Testament had much to say about the ancient Israelites' worship. While the forms were different back then - offering animal sacrifices, burning incense, tithing, etc. - we can still learn much from their experiences. The prophets identified three common mistakes: (1) People often mixed their own preferences with God's instructions. Instead of honoring God by doing what He said, they added or substituted what they liked. (2) Even when people were doing exactly what God said, worship at times became a boring ritual. Isaiah called it "lip service," "traditions learned by rote" (29:13). (3) Daily lives were too often segregated from what people expressed in formal worship. People praised God in songs and prayers but lived in complete disregard for His will. This was perhaps the prophets' most common complaint (Isaiah 1:10-17; Jeremiah 7:1-11; Amos 4:1-4; 8:4-6; etc.). Surely you understand why God would not accept worship from people who are just going through the motions or who substitute their own will for His. How does that honor Him?

Modern Applications - Jesus taught that "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). Spirit emphasizes that worship is the product of a spiritual relationship. Worship is a privilege, not a right. It is the privilege of those who are in Christ, who "through Him . . . offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Hebrews 12:15). Both in the formal sense and the broad sense of daily living, it is the conscious expression of a heart devoted to God. Truth emphasizes worship as God directs. Only that kind truly honors him. Omission of spirit leaves empty formalism. Omission of truth results in honoring self, not God.

The New Testament reveals several avenues of formal worship, either in individual or group settings. The history of the first-century church begins, "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). Instruction in God's word clearly has a part in our assemblies. Breaking bread refers to eating the Lord's Supper, a memorial of Jesus' death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This is to be eaten on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), the day also specified for the contribution, a means of Christians joining together to do the work God has assigned us collectively (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Prayer is our means of communicating with God, both for praise and requests (1 Timothy 2:1-6). Singing is another means of praising God, with the added benefit of teaching and admonishing each other (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

Whether done individually or collectively, God's honor, not our pleasure, is the goal of worship. Therefore, His word dictates what is done and how. Is it surprising that the means He has given appeal more to the spirit than the flesh? How it looks, how it sounds, how it feels - these are not the critical factors. Instead, God says, "Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26). Remember, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).

- by Frank Himmel

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Rolf Christoffersen, a sailor in the Norwegian Navy

The Love Letter


Earlier this year Melissa Fahy and her father were renovating her New Jersey home when they found a letter in the gap under the stairs.  The letter was postmarked May 1945, apparently written by a previous owner of the home.


It was a love letter from a woman named Virginia to her husband, Rolf Christoffersen, a sailor in the Norwegian Navy at the time.  Virginia wrote: “I love you, Rolf, as I love the warm sun.  That is what you are to my life, the sun about which everything else revolves for me.”  Somehow Virginia’s letter got lost beneath the stairs.


But Melissa Fahy was determined to get that letter to its rightful owner — if it was possible – even if it was 72 years later.  She turned to Facebook for help, and within hours Facebook users had located the couple’s son.  Rolf Christoffersen is now 96 years old and living in California.  Rolf’s son read the letter to his father.  Virginia Christoffersen had died six years earlier, but the letter was a reminder that her love had not. *


If you search around your home, you’ll probably find at least one copy of a love letter.  It’s a love letter from God; it is His Word.  It is much more than a love letter, but the fundamental message is one of love – that God loves you and wants to save you.


“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).


This love letter proclaims the great love of God for us even though we aren’t that lovable.  Our sins separate us from God and destine us for destruction (Isaiah 59:1-2; Matthew 7:13-14).


“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Because of His great love for us, Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we can be saved from sin and receive the gift of eternal life.


“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. {10} This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10 NIV).


God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  The blood that Jesus shed on the cross for our sins will continue to cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).


The Bible: it’s a love letter from God.  Won’t YOU read it, embrace it, and cherish it?  Won’t YOU accept and reciprocate the offer of love from the heavenly Father who gave His Son to die for you?


The core message of the Bible is the salvation of man through Christ to the glory of God.  Once you understand and embrace that message through your trusting obedience, Jesus will be the “Son” around which everything else revolves in your life.


-- David A. Sargent


* Sources: Associated Press, “Love Letter Reaches WWII Vet 72 Years Later,” (5/12/2017) and Bill Ray’s Illustrations for Sermons (


David A. Sargent

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

'Traditional', 'Contemporary', or Scriptural Worship?

'Traditional', 'Contemporary', or Scriptural?

A nearby denomination advertises that it has two worship services each Sunday morning.  One is "traditional" and the other is called "contemporary."  While we have not visited either one, we suspect that these distinctions indicate that the first follows the routine patterns that have been observed in that denomination for many years.  The "contemporary" service, on the other hand, likely breaks those long standing practices and seeks to attract a younger, more religiously 'liberated' crowd.

The whole notion of choice in this matter of worship is what deserves our attention.  Choice is good, even preferable in many realms.  We would be upset if we had no freedom to choose houses, cars, clothes, food, etc.  In these areas we have a preference, and we act upon it.  We allow that others may choose differently, and that is okay.  "To each his own," we say.

But, men have mistakenly concluded that we are also free to choose what we like in worship specifically, and in religion generally.  The "church of your choice" was a popular slogan many years ago.  We don't hear that phrase much any more, but we certainly see that the concept has taken root.  The denominations are full of people who have sought and found what appeals to them.  What God wants -- what He has commanded and authorized -- seems to be of little concern.

Jesus taught that "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).  This important verse emphasizes two key aspects of acceptable worship.  It must be "in spirit" -- indicating that the Father expects a sincere, heart-felt service. Without it, He is not pleased (Matthew 15:8).  But our worship must also be "in truth," that is, in accordance with the commands of the Scripture.  Those who do not submit to the authority of God's law will not be saved (Matthew 7:21-23).

"Traditional" or "contemporary" is the choice offered by men, but the only right choice is to serve God according to the truth of Scriptures.  Anything else is an eternal mistake.  Think!

- by Greg Gwin

Saturday, June 3, 2017

God paid a tremendous price for us to be able to be saved

Love Overflowing


Haley to Dad: “Dad, did you feel the same excitement after each of your children was born?”  (Haley is the fourth of four children in our family.)


Dad to Haley:  “Absolutely!”


Haley asked this question on the day that our oldest daughter, Britney, gave birth to a baby boy – the first child born to Britney and Clint – and our first grandchild: Lincoln Ross Mitchell!


As a postscript to our discussion, I added: “But when your children have children of their own…”  I couldn’t complete my answer because the tears began to flow.  I struggled to find words to describe the magnitude of my love and gratitude for our new grandson.


Now I think I understand why so many grandparents had been telling me that “there’s nothing like having grandchildren!”


Here is what I’ve realized: when that little one that you and your spouse joyfully welcomed into the world as her parents, that you loved and raised to adulthood, the one for whom you have always wanted the very best, and that you couldn’t love any more than you do… then has a child of her own – a child that you also get to love, cherish, and SPOIL…  (I’m smiling.)  When you get to see your child experience the wonder of bringing a baby into the world and see her life changed by having the privilege of caring for her child and begin the process of raising him to be a good, godly man like his Daddy…  Then the love that you have for your own child (and ALL of your children) and this grandchild just overflows!


Is this what you were trying to tell me, grandparents?


I don’t think my heart could be any fuller!


I wonder if this may give us a hint as to how God feels when someone makes the decision to accept His offer of salvation and become a child of God by being born again into His family.  After all, we belong to God because He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).  But then, even though we’ve marred that image due to our sins, He still loves us, desires to save us, and wants to add us to His family (see Romans 5:8-10; 1 Timothy 2:4; Ephesians 2:8-22).


And when we accept His offer of salvation on His terms, He joyfully welcomes us into His family!


God paid a tremendous price for us to be able to be saved and become a part of His family.  He gave His one and only Son (Jesus) to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).  It was because of His great love for us that He gave His Son for us (Romans 5:8).


God will save, add to His family, and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).


“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1 NIV).  It is love overflowing.


Won’t YOU accept His loving offer through your trusting obedience?


-- David A. Sargent, Lincoln’s “Bug” (Grandpa)


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