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Friday, June 29, 2018

The Preacher's Thesis

 "Preacher, exactly what was it you were trying to say last Sunday morning?" I doubt that any remark could be more depressing to a preacher who takes his preaching efforts seriously. Yet, I am convinced that the criticism implied in the above comment is widespread and well deserved. It cannot be doubted that most, if not all, that we have to say in a sermon is true, good, and important. The problem is that there is no coherence to all of it. The hearer cannot put his finger on the exact thrust of the sermon and, hence, is not sure what to do with it all.

                It is evident that' one of the best ways to avoid this problem is for the preacher to settle on a sermon thesis before he begins to develop his sermon outline. A sermon thesis is a one-sentence statement of the point that the preacher wants to make. If a preacher cannot summarize his sermon in one clearly worded statement, then he does not know what he is really trying to say and is not yet ready to deliver that sermon. Again, every word of his sermon may be true, but the effect of his words will be scattered rather than focused. Hence, the audience cannot respond appropriately to his message. Indeed, he cannot be sure himself what he wants his hearers to do. However, if a preacher can settle at the outset of his lesson what one specific point he intends to convince his audience of, then he can organize his thoughts around that point and can thereby marshall his evidence in a persuasive manner.

                The sermon thesis corresponds to the conclusion of a logical argument. In every argument, there are three crucial elements, two of which are readily apparent. The two apparent elements are the conclusion and the evidence that supports that conclusion. The invisible element is the mental operation that we call on inference, whereby one thinks, "This (e.g., the conclusion) is so because that (the evidence) is so." To be effective a sermon need not be logically formal or stilted, but it should be structured so that the audience knows what point it is expected to believe and thus can concentrate on honestly making the inference hoped for by the speaker. Regardless of the kind of sermon being prepared (evangelistic, doctrinal, devotional, etc.), every sermon should have a thesis. Without it, a sermon will leave the audience ultimately undirected, albeit momentarily uplifted.

                The following suggestions for a good thesis may appear to be somewhat arbitrary but I have found them to be excellent guidelines.

1.       Avoid beginning a thesis with the word "to." One usually ends up with a sermon aim or purpose rather than a thesis (e.g. "to convince my hearers of the importance of baptism." This is an aim, not a thesis.)

2.       Make the thesis brief (8-15 words) and uncompounded.

3.       The thesis should be fresh and thought provoking (note the effect of a proverb).

4.       It should be arguable. (Why preach that which no one disputes? In times like these there is much persuading, convicting, and changing of minds that need to be done. If you do not have to work to defend your thesis, your audience may think it trite and unessential to the struggles they are really facing.)

Although the following are not perfect examples, they are somewhat helpful in illustrating the above remarks:

"Every Christian should strive to live so that the truth does not suffer in his hands."
(cf. 1 Tim. 3:15.)

"The place to stop adultery is in the heart." (cf. Matt. 5:28.)

"In our haste to forgive, we often opt for false forgiveness."

"A constant struggle in Christian growth is that of avoiding the pull of the average.''


In view of the seriousness of our message, we ought to make every effort to simplify the listening process for our hearers. One good way to begin simplifying that process is to have well in hand, before we prepare our sermons, a concisely stated sermon thesis.

 By Jerry Gross, Doraville, GA

He was astonished at the teaching of the Lord



So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. Acts 13:4-12


Barnabas, Saul (Paul) and John Mark proclaim the word of the Lord throughout Cyprus, beginning in the synagogues.

The Roman proconsul of Cyprus summoned the preachers to hear the word of God.

Elymas the magician butts in and tries to turn the proconsul from the faith with his magic.

Paul, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, rebukes Elymas and temporarily blinds him.

The proconsul, having seen everything, becomes a believer – being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.


This is a remarkable incident for a number of reasons:


1.  A Roman proconsul wants to hear the gospel. A proconsul is head of government in a senatorial province.

2.  Luke describes him as “a man of intelligence.”

3.  Satan uses a magician to try and deceive the proconsul.

4.  God uses Paul to confirm, with convincing miraculous demonstration, the power of the gospel over the power of magic. The occasional use of miracles in Acts was for the purpose of confirming the gospel. See Mark 16:15-20; Acts 14:1-7; Hebrews 2:3-4. The proconsul is intelligent enough to spot the difference!

5.  His astonishment, though, is not at the miracle by Paul, but at the teaching of the Lord! This is significant.

6.  It is worth noting that miracles on their own are not necessarily convincing to everyone – they don’t always produce belief. There can always be some ambiguity about them. Note the example in Acts 14:1-7, and also note the reaction of the disciples and others to a couple of Jesus’ demonstrations of power. Mark 4:35-41; John 6. Miracles confirm the teaching. They help prove something. They confirm truth. John 20:24-31. But only if you are open to truth. Note the miracles of Jesus in John 9 and 11 and see how Jewish leaders weren’t convinced. Read John 10:1-21 in between these two miracles. See Matthew 16:1-12; John 7:17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

7.  So here we have two conflicting demonstrations of power – the Holy Spirit and a spirit of magic, some teaching of the Lord, an intelligent government leader, and a conversion to Christ as the outcome.

8.  You have to want a relationship with Jesus, based on complete trust in his teaching, even if you aren’t convinced by everything! If you don’t like the teaching, the miracles won’t change your mind about it.


About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled,

saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching

is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks  his own glory; but

the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. John 7:14-18


David Hunter


Monday, June 25, 2018

How apostasy occurs




In his brief, one chapter, but extremely important letter, Jude exhorted his readers to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).  "The faith" is the full, complete, and final revelation from God to man by Christ through the gospel as set forth in the New Testament.  In it God has revealed all that He has done for mankind's redemption from sin and all that man must do in order to establish and maintain a right relationship with God.  It is the "one faith" (Ephesians 4:5).


In the next verse of his epistle Jude explained why it is so important for Christians to earnestly contend for the faith.  He says, "For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4, New King James Version).


The King James Version says "certain men crept in unawares."  The American Standard Version says "certain men crept in privily" (i.e. secretly).  The Revised Standard Version says, "For admission has been secretly gained by some."  The New English Bible puts it quite graphically when it says, "Certain persons have wormed their way in."


This is a picture of false teachers and how they work.  They never advertise themselves as false teachers.  They never say upfront what their agenda is.  They come in surreptitiously (Phillips' translation).  They enter by stealth, unnoticed for who and what they really are, showing great (though false) humility (Colossians 2:23), speaking "great swelling words of emptiness," appearing to be so kind and so loving and so spiritual minded, "flattering people to gain advantage" (II Peter 2:18; Jude 16).


In reality, those who creep in are "false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves," as our Lord warned in Matthew 17:5.  They are "savage wolves" who "come in among you, not sparing the flock," as Paul stated in Acts 20:29. Of such false teachers the apostle said, "And their message will spread like cancer" (gangrene, ASV) (II Timothy 2:17).  Elsewhere he declared, "For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (the undiscerning)" (Romans 16:18).  In the previous verse Paul had plainly said to mark (note) such divisive teachers and avoid them (i.e., have no association with them) (Romans 16:17).


Let me be plain here: What the preceding texts are warning of still occurs today!   False teachers, lacking the integrity to let others know what they really believe about various vital matters, "worm their way in" to various venues in order to influence and change the thinking, practice, tone, and tenor of those settings.


It happens in local congregations.  Preachers come in whose views are not in alignment with New Testament teaching on such matters as instrumental music in the worship of the church, the role of women in the church, and the undenominational nature of the church.  With a liberal, mocking, deriding view of the New Testament as a pattern for the people of God in all ages and how it authorizes, they soon wreak havoc in those congregations.  Men who do not know their right hand from their left spiritually speaking manage to get themselves appointed as elders (worm their way in) and begin to allow such matters as those mentioned above (and a host of others) to be taught and practiced in the local church. Eventually, that church loses its identity as being "of Christ."


It happens in the Bible Departments of our Christian colleges and universities.  While it is not always the case, it is often the case that young and inexperienced men in the faith (as well as sometimes older men) study in denominational seminaries and in schools of divinity attached to secular universities.  Not being "grounded and steadfast in the faith" (Colossians 1:23), they become easy prey for the infidelity and liberalism to which they are exposed in those schools.  They become enamored with the "scholarship" and the academic euphoria found at such schools, and they breathe the very "air" of those institutions.  They come to believe that they have risen above the rest of their "unenlightened brethren back at home." Then they are hired to teach in the Bible Departments of our schools where they bring their unbiblical and liberal views and corrupt the faith of many young people (including young aspiring preachers) who are influenced by them and their teaching.  It has happened again and again, it is happening today, and the Bible Departments of some of our colleges and universities are now completely dominated by such men.


Most recently it has happened in a Middle Tennessee gathering of preachers (and a few non-preachers) who meet for a half a day once a month for study, reflection, and fellowship.  Into this gathering has crept one whose views on several matters are not in line with the known views of most of those attending this gathering.  Yet, he has been welcomed with open arms by some and has been allowed to present and distribute sermon outlines, review books, participate in leadership roles in the meetings, and in general to have an influence on those too easily impressed with what is falsely called "scholarship." 


While some who attend this gathering may agree with (or at least be in sympathy with) his views and those of the university where he serves as a Professor of Bible, nevertheless since I have made known my objection to his participation in these meetings (first to him and later to the group as a whole) a number of attendees have spoken to me about this matter and agree with me.  One of the former regular attendees wrote to me saying, "Dear Hugh, I sincerely appreciate your conscientious stand for truth.  I have struggled with the same feelings of confliction, wanting to be at the meetings but knowing the liberal influences."  Another wrote: "Hugh...agreed with your email on ___________________ (the name of the person).  / I appreciate your stand for the truth."  Others have sent private messages and some have expressed themselves verbally to me about their concern over this situation. 


I understand that this is an informal gathering, and no one has the authority to ban another from attending.  At the same time, no one has the authority to ban me from speaking out and registering my objection to the participation of this person in the meetings.  As noted above, others agree with my objection to his participating in the meetings.  As the old saying goes, "We shall see what we shall see" where this matter is concerned, but we all would do well to heed the admonition and warning of Jude 3-4.


Hugh Fulford

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Sign Club Co.

Breaking the Barrier

Imagine not being able to hear. You can't hear the voices of your loved ones. You can't hear the
birds sing. You can't hear music.

Because you can't hear, you find it almost impossible to communicate. It's difficult to inform
others how you feel or even that you need help.

That's a little bit of what it is like to be deaf.

The difficulty in communicating is what causes many deaf people to be isolated, alone, and

That's why Poppy O'Guin Steele has made it her life's mission to be an advocate for deaf children.

"Her actions prove even louder than her words, whether spoken by mouth or signed by hand" writes Ken
Beck in a recent article in The Christian Chronicle. "She founded the Sign Club Co. in 2012. Since
then the organization, based in Tennessee's Sumner County, has taught sign language to more than
1,800 youngsters, with Steele teaching about 900 of them herself."

"Our No. 1 goal is to create friends for our deaf children," says Steele. "I find that, especially
for deaf children, their safety and literacy is often affected by their isolation. They rarely will
have family or friends around them who communicate in their language. So many of our deaf children
hardly have language at all. We try to create a community around them who can communicate with

One of Steele's Club projects is "Silent Night Dinner," based on a Tuesday night tradition her
parents began. "Anyone who came," she explains, "had to sign or sit quietly, whether we went out to
eat or stayed home." When the selected location is at a restaurant, Steele will give some sign
language training to some of the employees. Then she selects a date and invites the deaf in the
community as well as some of her sign language students to come and share the meal and engage with
one another.

"Once, at a Chick-fil-A where I had taught the staff, one of our deaf teens came in and went to
order in sign language, and the cashier took the order and exchanged money. She then sat down with
the hearing students, and they all had a lovely evening laughing and talking in sign language, and
in that moment I said, 'This is what we do.' This child who sat at lunch by herself was no longer
alone. She had friends and was being a teenager and laughing."

The sound barrier that had isolated a child had been broken.

Because God loves us so much, He has "broken the barrier" that separated us from Him. That barrier
was created by our sins (Isaiah 59:1-2).

To break the sin barrier, God had to send His Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).
Only the sinless Son of God could pay the price for our redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19), and He did.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of
His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

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 of Jesus will continue to wash away the sins of those who continue to walk in the light of His
Word (1 John 1:7).

God has broken through the barrier of sin that kept us from Him by giving His Son to die on the
cross for our sins. We don't have to be separated and lost any more, if only we will accept the
offer of His grace and mercy on His terms. Won't YOU?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Breaking the Sound Barrier" by Ken Beck in The Christian Chronicle, June
1, 2018,

Friday, June 22, 2018

Moving From Fear to Faith

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [Note “Have you still no faith.”  For more rebukes re faith, see 7:18; 8:17f.,21,32f.; 9:19. DC]

Dear Partner in Preaching,

What moves us from fear to faith?

Hold that question for a moment; we’ll come back to it. For now, though, notice with me how similar what we perceive as very distinct responses actually are. Or at least their roots. Think about it. Both fear and faith make sense only in relation to something that is unknown, challenging, difficult, or threatening. I mean, it’s just those kinds of things that make us afraid. And, when you stop to think about it, it’s just those same kinds of things that summon faith to face them. Indeed, in the face of things that are unknown, challenging, difficult, or threatening, it almost seems like there is a clear choice in front of us – fear or faith.

At least, that’s the way Jesus seems to characterize things in today’s story about Jesus’ stilling of the storm, calling out the disciples’ fear and asking why they don’t have faith. Typically, I’m cautious about making such a hard distinction – either faith or fear – because I tend to believe that faith doesn’t so much banish fear as it does make it possible to cope with it. At the same time, it does feel like responding in fear or responding in faith are two very different responses to the same situation. And maybe that’s the issue, not whether you’re afraid, but how you respond.

Which brings me back to my original question: what moves us from fear to faith? Or at least, what enables us – even if we are afraid of something that is unknown, challenging, difficult, or threatening – to act in faith rather than be paralysed by fear?

What struck me while reading this passage from Mark this time is that, interestingly, it’s not the miracle Jesus performs that makes the difference. Indeed, the disciples seems almost more afraid than they did previously. Perhaps it’s shifted from a terror of dying – “do you not care that we are perishing?!” – to more of a holy awe – “who is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?!” – but I’m not sure the actual level of fear has changed.

[It’s as though they don’t understand that Jesus is on their side every moment! Matthew 28:20. DC]

I think this is interesting because we tend to think that faith would be easier to find if we just had a miracle or two to summon and bolster it. But that’s not the case here. Indeed, it’s not the case through all of Mark’s story to this point and even beyond. The disciples have witnessed many, many miracles so far, yet they still don’t know what to expect from Jesus or even who he is. Miracles, it turns out, are ambiguous. [Even with Jesus asleep in the boat, the disciples should have felt secure. They still don’t see who Jesus really is! DC]

There is a poignant scene in the otherwise very violent film Pulp Fiction, when two hitmen, Jules and Vincent, are trying to come to terms with their narrow escape from death. Jules describes their experience as a miracle; Vincent disagrees. After defining a miracle as “God making the impossible possible,” Vincent argues that their escape from death earlier that day doesn’t qualify. Which prompts Jules to say, “Don’t you see, Vincent, that…doesn’t matter. You’re judging this thing the wrong way. It’s not about what. It could be God stopped the bullets, he changed Coke into Pepsi, he found my…car keys. You don’t judge [stuff] like this on merit. Whether or not what we experienced was an according-to-Hoyle miracle is insignificant. What is significant is I felt God’s touch. God got involved.”

“I felt God’s touch. God got involved.” Something similar, I think, is happening in today’s story. The shift in the disciples’ reaction – from “do you not care we are perishing” to “who is this” – signifies a shift from what, the miracle, to who, Jesus. Which leads me to conclude that perhaps the answer to our question – What moves us from fear to faith? – is relationship. It’s the move from what to who, from event to person, from ambiguous miracle to the actual person of Jesus.

And that, Dear Partner, is something we can preach on Sunday. Faith, in the end, isn’t believing certain cognitive propositions about when or how God created the earth, whether or not Jonah lived in the belly of a whale, the nature of Scripture’s authority, or even Mary’s marital status when Jesus was born. Rather, faith is about a relationship, a relationship with the God revealed by the ministry and words and actions of Jesus. And in Mark’s Gospel, the Jesus we meet is relentless in his pursuit of caring for all of God’s children. This very crossing of a rough sea is prompted by Jesus’ determination to get to the other side, to the land of the Gerasenes, a place few rabbis would venture. There he will meet and heal a man possessed by a demon and return him to the community from which he has been ostracized. And then he will come back to more familiar haunts to heal again, this time restoring life to a young girl and healing a woman who has been suffering for more than a decade.

These early chapters of Mark describe again and again Jesus’ determination to free people from all the things that keep them from the abundant life God promises: demon possession, disease, social exclusion, hunger, even death itself. Jesus reveals a God who cares passionately for the wellbeing of all God’s people. This is the One we invite people to trust. And trust, in the end, is the only thing that overcomes fear. Ultimately, you see, the question isn’t what moves us from fear to faith, but who. And the answer is Jesus, the one who will not rest until we see and hear and experience and trust God’s passionate love for us and all the world.

There is a second “who” involved as well, for when we have a hard time trusting, a hard time believing that, in spite

of our shortcomings God still loves us or, for that matter, in spite of those times of loneliness or struggle God is still present in our lives, at those times we gather as a community to read again these stories and remind each other of God’s promises.

And here, Dear Partner, is where things get especially interesting. Because when we do that – when we remind each other of God’s steadfast love – we are stepping into the biblical story to play one of the great roles assigned throughout Scripture. For at critical junctures across the biblical drama, apostles, angels, and prophets will be sent to the people of God to say the four powerful yet simple words that constitute the most frequently repeated command and promise in the Bible: Do not be afraid. And each time we say and hear these words we join all those saints before who, caught up in the Spirit of God, find the courage not just to survive, but to flourish; not just to live, but to live with abundance; and not just to get by, but knowing the favor we enjoy in and through Christ, to dare great things, expect great things, ask for great things, and share great things.

Your words this Sunday, Dear Partner, will help move us from fear to faith be re-introducing us to the God we know in Jesus, equipping us to remind each other of God’s promises and presence, and sending us out in faith to face our fears and confront the challenges of the day with equal measures of courage and compassion. Thank you for your work. Week in and week out, it matters more than you know.

Yours in Christ, David Lose



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Friday, June 15, 2018

"How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?"


But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Romans 10:6-18.


Some observations


1.    “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?”

You don’t simply tell people they have to believe in Jesus, expecting them to believe; you give them some gospel and some Jesus so that they can believe!! See

Mark 16:15-16;

Acts 2:22-37;








2.    Note how believing includes obeying:

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

“For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?””


3.    Send





Be saved


4.    Who has believed what he has heard?

They have not all obeyed the gospel.

--David Hunter


Monday, June 11, 2018

Revelation 14:13--'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!' "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."

 There is nothing more fragile in life than life itself (Job 14:1-2; Isaiah 38:12). We are mortals and as such the day is coming when in just a moment of time we will lay aside this earthly tabernacle and take that journey from whence we will not return. Our hearts should be set on the wonderful city of God, that's the place we should be calling home (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11). One of our grand old songs says it so well: "This world is not my home--I'm just passing through--My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue--The angels beckon me from heaven's open door--And I can't feel at home in this world anymore."


Yes, the day will come when this physical body will cease to exist but that will not mark the end of our existence (2 Cor. 5:1; 1 Cor. 15). The truth is that every step we take in this life just bring us a little closer home and one day we will take that last earthly step. If our love for the world is so great that we spend our lives sowing the lust of the flesh, then when that day comes we will step out into eternity to reap a harvest of condemnation (Gal. 6:7-8). On the other hand if we are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven, we will reap life everlasting in the land where joy will never end (Matt. 6:19-21; 2 Tim. 4:6-8).


Just knowing that when our earthly tabernacle is dissolved, there awaits a home not made with human hands should put a gleam in our eyes, a smile on our face and a bounce in our steps (John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:1). Our pathway through life will sometimes be smooth and easy; sometimes it will be rocky and hard. Whatever it may be, with a faith that will not shrink, with a twinkle in our eyes and a smile on our face, we look forward with great anticipation to the moment in time when we will take that final step (Gal. 2:20;  Phil. 1:21-23).


Charles Hicks

Saturday, June 9, 2018

La tranble

Life-giving Water

"La tranble" — a Creole term for "the shaking" – is the term Haitians use to refer to what claimed
230,000 lives and left 1.5 million people homeless on this impoverished island in the Caribbean.
After "la tranble," Healing Hands International, a humanitarian-based aid organization associated
with Churches of Christ, bought a drilling rig and shipped it to Haiti. Healing Hands has drilled
350 wells on the island to help provide clean water for the Haitians.

Janice Fuller — a 67-year-old grandmother of four — coordinates the annual Walk4Water fundraiser
sponsored by the Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin, Texas to help Healing Hands. She
recently joined a group that traveled to Haiti to drill another well. "I just think how incredible
this is," Fuller said. "These people were drinking dirty water for so long, and now they have a
place to come get clear, clean water because people cared enough to contribute."

Phenix Port-Louis, a Haitian preacher who works with Healing Hands, recalled: "Back in the day,
there were a lot of cases of cholera," referring to an epidemic that killed 10,000 Haitians and
sickened 800,000. "But now we do not have cholera because HHI put a lot of wells in our community,
in our country, so that the Haitians can have water to drink."

One of the wells dug by HHI is in Akdesé, Haiti. Matthew Perry, a 37-year-old father of two who
coordinates the Detroit area Lincoln Park church's Walk4Water, was present for the well's
dedication. He was amazed at what had transpired. "If we dig far enough in the ground, there's
this perfect, clean water right there," Perry said, reflecting. "It's free, provided by God, and
it's drinkable. It's amazing." *

In John 4, we read of a Samaritan woman who went out to Jacob's well in the middle of the day to
draw some water. Jesus sat at that same well and asked the woman to get him some water. She was
amazed because a Jewish man was asking a Samaritan woman for a drink of water.

A dialogue proceeded between Jesus and the woman. Jesus knew that the woman had a thirst that the
water in Jacob's well could not quench. Hers was a spiritual thirst that she had tried to satisfy
in many (failed) relationships.

Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water [the water in Jacob's well] will thirst again;
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will
give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." – John 4:13-14

The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." –
John 4:15

Jesus was speaking of the relationship with God that saves us and brings eternal life. Because of
His great love for us, God gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). He died
for us so that we might drink of the Living Water which connects us with God and provides salvation
and eternal life.

Jesus will provide "living water" to those who: place their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31),
turn from their sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are
baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to quench
the spiritual thirst and keep clean by His cleansing blood, those who continue to follow Him as a
way of life (1 John 1:7).

When it comes to quenching our deep spiritual thirst, all that the world has to offer is polluted.
It will never satisfy. It will kill you! ONLY Jesus offers the Living Water that will quench our
thirst and give us eternal life.

It is freely provided by God. It is truly amazing. Won't YOU drink of that Living Water today?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "1,000 wells around the world" by Bobby Ross, Jr., in The Christian
Chronicle (Vol. 75, No. 6; June 2018) and posted at

Saturday, June 2, 2018


The Winning Word

Imagine being asked to spell "bewusstseinslage." That's the word that Naysa Modi from Frisco, Texas
misspelled causing her to place second in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this past Thursday.

I wouldn't have been able to spell it correctly. I don't ever remember hearing the word much less
knowing what it means. Merriam Webster states that the word comes from the field of psychology and
it means "a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components."

Using the word in this article is probably the only time I will ever use it!

Did you hear what the winning word was in the Spelling Bee?

The word was "koinonia." Karthik Nemanni, 14, of McKinney, Texas spelled this word correctly to
become the 91st champion of the spelling competition.

Hey, I know this word! If asked, I could have spelled it correctly! I could have won the
competition! No, I wouldn't; I can't spell "bewusstseinslage" and probably most of the words that
were provided in the competition.

But I know how to spell "koinonia" and, more importantly, I know what it means. I want all people
to know what it means. and to experience it!

Koinonia is a word that I've learned in studying the Scriptures. It is of Greek origin. Merriam
Webster gives the following definitions: (1) the Christian fellowship or body of believers; (2)
intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and
spiritual community. Example: the koinonia of the disciples with each other and with their Lord.
The basic idea of the Biblical word is active participation.

Through Christ, we can have koinonia (fellowship) with God. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah
59:1-2) and put us on the path to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). But God loves us so much that He
gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). Because the sinless Son of God died on
the cross for our sins, we can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) and enjoy koinonia
(fellowship) with God.

We accept God's offer of salvation, koinonia, and eternal life by placing our faith and trust in
Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before
men (Romans 10:9-10), and by being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins
(Acts 2:38). This is what it means to "obey the Gospel," the Good News that Jesus died for our
sins, was buried, and rose again. Then, as 1 John 1:7 teaches us, as we continue to walk in the
light of God's Word, we continue to have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ
continues to cleanse us from all sin.

In Christ, we can have koinonia (fellowship) with God AND with one another. When we obey the Gospel
of Jesus Christ, we are added to the church, the Family of God (see Acts 2:36-47). We become
brothers and sisters in Christ. We have a special relationship, a wonderful bond that is nurtured
by loving one another, bearing one another's burdens, encouraging one another, and practicing all of
the "one another" passages in Scripture.

Koinonia. We may not always spell it correctly, but may we all experience what it means: a blessed
relationship with God and with His people that has been made possible through Christ.

Do you have koinonia with God and His people? You can, if you'll submit your life to Christ. Won't

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Spelling bee winner is 14-year-old Texan who spelled 'koinonia'
correctly" by Amy Lieu of Fox News,

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