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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Adopted Texas man, 71, meets biological sisters after submitting DNA kit

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You and I were created for relationship. It's by design that when we're born into the world, we are
born into a family. If those familial relationships are severed or lost, other relationships are
sought to fill the void. Sometimes efforts are made to rediscover lost relationships with family

Dennis Blackstone and his twin brother, Doug, were adopted in Dallas in 1951 at the age of three.
Sadly, Doug was killed in a car crash on February 13, 1979. Dennis, grieving the loss of his
brother, began to wonder about his biological family. Who were my parents? Do I have any other
siblings? He began to search for answers to these questions.

Blackstone discovered the names of his biological parents when a judge unsealed his adoption papers
in 2000. Did he have any other siblings? Blackstone submitted a sample of his DNA to 23andme, a
website that offers genetic testing services, hoping to discover any siblings lost to him.

Earlier this month, 23andme contacted Blackstone to inform him that they had found a first cousin.
This cousin revealed that Blackstone did indeed have a sibling - an older sister named Connie Rusk.

71-years-old Blackstone - with the help of his wife and support of his children and adoptive family
- found contact information for Rusk, age 74. He reached out to her, asking if they could meet.
Rusk, who lives only 40 miles from Blackstone, responded that she would be delighted to meet her
brother. On Sunday, February 17, 2019, Rusk and Blackstone - along with his wife, children, and
grandchildren - met in Grapevine, Texas. After 70 years of separation, it was a reunion filled with
tears of joy.

"My little brother finding me after 70 plus years is the most wonderful thing that could ever happen
to me," said Rusk.

During this same reunion, Blackstone also met his two-half sisters, who are from his biological
mother's second marriage. "[They] wouldn't let me go. They hugged and hugged and hugged," he said.
"I now have two other half sisters I didn't know existed in the world." *

You and I were created for relationship. We need that human connection, whether it's biological or
through adoption.

Even more fundamentally, you and I were created for a relationship with God. Sadly, our sins
separate us from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). When we try to fill that "God-shaped void" in our lives with
relationships with other people and things, these relationships don't satisfy that deep, primary
need for relationship with God.

Here's the Good News: God is searching for us. He wants us to be united with Him in His family. He
went to great lengths to make that relationship possible. It cost the life of His Son Jesus, who
died on the cross for our sins so that we can have forgiveness and be reconciled to God (Ephesians

If we will place our faith and trust in Jesus (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 (immersed) into Christ
(Acts 2:38), then God will forgive us of our sins, add us to His family, and give us the gift of
eternal life (Acts 2:41, 47; Romans 6:23). God will continue to cleanse us of that sin that
separates as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

If YOU go searching for God (and that search will involve a study of His Word, the Bible), what you
will find is that He's been waiting for you. He's waiting for YOU to accept His offer of salvation
and reunion and eternal life.

Won't YOU accept His offer on His terms?

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" - 1
John 3:1

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Adopted Texas man, 71, meets biological sisters after submitting DNA
kit: 'I just lost it'" by Madeline Farber of Fox News,, 2/21/19.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

How to understand the Bible

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If God’s Word Says it, why interpret otherwise?


If God speaks in Scripture, why do believers argue over interpretation? It is surely our duty to get out of the Bible only what God has put in. That’s what interpreting Scripture means. Rightly interpreting Scripture is not the same as just believing what you want to believe. See how to interpret properly under the appropriate headings below.

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God 2 not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,3 a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:14-19


Rather than “quarrel about words,” or indulge in “irreverent babble,” Christians stand before God, “approved” and “unashamed”, when they “rightly handle” God’s word of truth. “Rightly handling” is literally “cutting right” as distinct from cutting it how we like. The New Living Translation has “correctly explains.” The Contemporary English Version has “teaches only the true message.”

“The Lord knows those who are his.” In the context of 2 Timothy 2:19, those who are “the Lord’s” are those who correctly handle the word of truth. To correctly handle the truth includes correctly interpreting it. Not just interpreting it, but correctly interpreting it. Anything other than this is corrupting God’s word.

However, when we insist on truth, there are those who pour cold water on our efforts by saying something like: “That’s just your interpretation” – as though we were just giving an opinion no better than that of anyone else.


Our Interpretation Must be the Correct Interpretation

Of course, it is our interpretation or explanation, but we believe it is the correct interpretation based on sound rules for interpreting Scripture, and we should insist on such correct interpretation. Why? Because God has said how important this is! What is the use of having God’s word if we do not interpret and explain it correctly?

How can we ever refute false teachers if we can never be sure of our interpretation? What is the point of the following Scripture if we can never be sure we have interpreted God’s word correctly?

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ Ephesians 4:14-15.

“Speaking the truth in love” is only possible if we interpret correctly.

How to Interpret Correctly

As long as we interpret …

·    In total context in the light of the “whole counsel of God,” Acts 20:27; (compare Matthew 4:4);

·    “not shrinking from declaring anything profitable,” Acts 20:20, even if it goes against our wants;

·    refraining from twisting Scripture to fit preconceived theories, 2 Peter 3:15-18;

·    not using one Scripture so as to contradict another Scripture. Matthew 4:5-7; and

·    without using denominational traditions as the standard for interpreting. Matthew 15:1-14

If we interpret in these ways, we’re not being arrogant, nor claiming infallibility - but are simply being good Bible students, as would have been Timothy – “a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Our interpretation of Scripture must equate to “rightly handling the word of truth.” Our aim must be to seek to find only what God has revealed in the Scriptures – nothing more and nothing less. We must be thorough.  Matthew 15:1-14; 22:23-33; Luke 24:25; Philippians 1:27-28; 2 Peter 3:16-20. Read all Scriptures quoted.


Divinely Inspired Scripture must be correctly interpreted, otherwise it is useless

The Scripture God has been careful to reveal or release to inspired apostles and prophets, 2 Timothy 3:16, we must be careful to interpret and explain correctly. When you put 2 Timothy 2:15 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 together, you realise that we all have a responsibility to treat God’s inspired word with great respect by accurately interpreting and explaining it in the light of God’s predetermined plan. Isaiah 55:3-11; Habakkuk 2:2-3. The common idea that everyone can have their own interpretation of Scripture, as though what God says is only a matter of personal opinion, is disrespectful and nonsensical. What God revealed without error we must interpret without error. For example, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” Mark 16:16, is really very easy to interpret. It says what it says. The only reason many believers misinterpret it as “He who believes is saved and then should be baptized,” is because of their misunderstanding of salvation by faith. They regard baptism as a work of human merit, which therefore cannot save. Thus they twist the meaning of Mark 16:16. This is not smart. 2 Peter 3:15-18

Scripture was not the result of someone’s private interpretation of God’s thoughts

We also need to deal with another Scripture that has led to much confusion: knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20, KJV.

This is an unfortunate translation as it seems to be saying that no individual should interpret Scripture, when, it is

actually saying: no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. ESV.

In other words, the passage is speaking about the origin of prophecy, and not the explanation of prophecy. This is all made clear in the context:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21

The original word translated “interpretation” is epilusis which has the idea of an unloosing, a releasing  or a revelation. A closely related form of the same word is translated ‘revelation’ in Galatians 1:12.

We will “do well to pay attention” to God’s prophetic word because it originated or was revealed – not by the

will of man; nor by someone’s own interpretation of God’s thoughts – but by men who were led by the Holy Spirit to reveal it unerringly. Scripture did not originate from a man’s understanding, but from God Himself!

And so accurate was God’s prophecy that Peter, hundreds of years after the prophecy, said that he personally witnessed what was prophesied:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honour and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 2 Peter 1:16-18

     God doesn’t make mistakes in revelation and so we shouldn’t make mistakes in interpretation.


A healthy attitude toward the Bible, and listening to the right teachers, is a must

Look at the following example of believers with the right attitude:

For you remember, brothers, our labour and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct towards you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

                    May those who hear our interpretation of Scripture also say the words of verse 13 above to us!

The Berean Jews had an even more “noble” mind about these matters than the Thessalonians. They checked the Scriptures to see if the apostles had taught things correctly!! Acts 17:1-11.

Oh that our fellow-Christians, as well as sinners being evangelised, would have that noble mind and so check the Scriptures that are taught them! It’s far more noble to listen to God’s word being taught, and then obey it, than to glibly cry: “That’s just your interpretation!” Be a good Bible student. May the words of Jesus motivate our desire to be so:  But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:20-25


A good chapter on listening to God and understanding is Isaiah 48. Note especially verse 16. NLT makes it clear.

“Pay attention to what you hear.” Mark 4:24.  “Pay attention, therefore, to how you listen.” Luke 8:18. Jesus doesn’t say: “Interpret my words as you want!” Because false teachers are everywhere, Matthew 7:15; 24:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-13, we must differentiate between true and false interpretations. 2 Peter 3:15-18; 1 John 4:1.


Your salvation depends on humbly receiving the word of God correctly interpreted

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth … Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God … receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:16-21


Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of

the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. Acts 18:8


Why were they baptized? Because Jesus said that baptism and faith are essential to salvation. Mark 16:15-16. The apostles had no problem with this, as is evident throughout the Book of Acts. See also Acts 2:38; 16:30-34 and 22:16. Does this contradict John 3:16? How could it, since God’s words can never contradict? God’s word harmonizes – faith and baptism go together in saving sinners. As does repentance. Luke 13:3. Only those who have wrongly concluded that salvation is by faith only, without baptism, have a problem with this. There is a wide road and a narrow road. Follow the narrow road to life. Matthew 7:13-29. Don’t let the majority sway you from the truth God has revealed.  “The truth will set you free.” John 8:24-59. The true believer in Jesus must abide in all that Jesus has taught, and not pick and choose what they will believe. Read John 8:24-59 to see this. Some who initially believe later want to throw stones when they don’t like something Jesus says! Study 2 Timothy 3:13-17


David Carr


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Indian man to sue his parents for giving birth to him 'without his consent

Can You Believe It?

I had a hard time believing it when I heard about it. Yet, I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised.

The headline read, "Indian man to sue his parents for giving birth to him 'without his consent',
wants to be paid for his life." What?

In a YouTube video, a 27-year-old man, Raphael Samuel, claims that he is suing his parents because
"he was conceived without his consent and therefore his parents should pay for his life."

"I want everyone in India and the world to realize one thing that they are born without their
consent. I want them to understand that they do not owe their parents anything," he said. "If we are
born without our consent, we should be maintained for our life. We should be paid by our parents to

Lukas Mikelionis of Fox News states that "Samuel has been reported as a follower of antinatalism, an
increasingly popular yet bizarre ideology that believes that it's morally wrong for people to
procreate and takes a nihilistic approach towards human life, saying [that] humanity brings only

Samuel says he loves his parents. "I love my parents, and we have a great relationship, but they
had me for their joy and their pleasure," he told The Print last month. "My life has been amazing,
but I don't see why I should put another life through the rigmarole of school and finding a career,
especially when they didn't ask to exist," he said. Samuel appears to be speaking of his own life
in that statement.

Interestingly, Samuel shared a Facebook post that is said to be from his mother in which she
allegedly states: "If Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have
sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault." *

What are we to make of Samuel's position?

This writer believes this is selfishness gone to seed. Samuel would suggest that it was the
selfishness of his parents that brought him into the world; they were seeking only their own
pleasure. But Samuel's focus is only on himself. "My parents should pay for my life." Samuel's
comments may be summarized by, "It's all about ME."

But it's not.

To be self-centered is off-center. The world doesn't revolve around me. And if I think or act like
it should, I am setting myself up for misery.

If we're going to "get it right," we must recognize that our world should "revolve around" Christ.
He should be the "center of our universe," the focus of our lives.

Christ created us as an expression of His power and of His love (Colossians 1:16). He created us
with the ability to choose to love Him in return, or not. When we choose to make Him the center of
our universe, we get it right. When we put anything or anyone else in that place, we are off-center
because we are self-centered. Self-centeredness (selfishness) leads to self-deception and sin.

But here's the amazing thing: God still loves us and He wants to save us (1 Timothy 2:4)! God gave
His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and when we submit our lives to Him, He will save us
and give us eternal life (Romans 6:23; 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). He will
continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to put Him first by walking in the light of His Word
(1 John 1:7).

No, Samuel, life is not all about you. It's not about me either. It's about Christ. If we'll just
put Him at the center of our universe and submit our lives to Him, then "our world" will be right.

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Indian man to sue his parents for giving birth to him 'without his
consent', wants to be paid for his life" by Lukas Mikelionis of Fox News,, 2/7/19.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How often should I attend church?

Are You Faithful?

It was a sunny Saturday morning. James stepped outside to get his morning paper. Only a moment later James returned with a disgusted look on his face. No paper! James said, "I'm gonna have to get me a new paper boy. He's just not faithful." The problem was that James' paperboy would deliver about 1 out of every 3 days. Fred was in a hurry to get to work, but it happened again. His car wouldn't start. He had hoped this used second vehicle would be just what he needed, but about 1 out of every 3 turns of the ignition, the car wouldn't start. Fred told his wife, "I'm gonna have to trade that car in. I just need one that's more faithful."

Are James and Fred right to call the paperboy and the car unfaithful? Would you be pleased with a paperboy who delivered I day out of 3? Would you be pleased with a car that only started 2 out of 3 times? Certainly not. The apostle Paul was chosen by God to carry the gospel because God counted him faithful. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry" (1 Tim. 1:12). Paul was trustworthy. God could count on him when He needed him. Paul would never fail in his duty to God.

What about me and my attendance to the assemblies of God's people? My brethren are counting on me to be there. I need to consider the impact of my absence upon them. My presence helps to stir up my brothers and sisters to love and good works Furthermore, I am drawing near to God and holding fast to my faith (Heb. 10:23-25). Am I faithful if I hit one out of every 3 services? Am I faithful if I hit 2 out of 3? Does God consider me reliable and trustworthy? Is he pleased with such performance? It's something to think about, isn't it? If I wouldn't call the paperboy faithful and the used car faithful then why do I consider myself faithful in my service to God if my performance is no better? All of us need to realize our obligations to God and to our brethren regarding our attendance. We grow weaker through our absence.

- by Jeff May


Monday, February 11, 2019




No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light--2 Cor. 11:15


 An illusionist is a person who makes something appear to be real or true but is quite different from what it seems to be. Satan is the world's greatest illusionist!  He is an expert in using the triple temptations of fleshly desires, pride of life and lust of the eyes making them appear to me what they are not (1 John 2:15-17).  Understand this. Satan has access to us every waking moment and he knows our strengths as well as our weaknesses. He is our enemy! He is an opportunist and looks for any little foothold we will give him and every area of our life that we fail to constantly guard, he will seize upon it. The warning in 1 Peter 5:8 to be sober of spirit and be alert should be taken seriously by each one of us.


In our fight against this powerful enemy, it is essential that we put on the whole armor of God, gird ourselves with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, shod our feet with the gospel of peace, take up the shield of faith, put on the helmet of salvation and take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Eph. 6:10-18).


We all have bibles, in fact most of us have several. What is the condition of those bibles? Are they covered with dust? Do they just sit on a bookshelf with a lot of other books? What do they look like? Are they marked up, pages crinkled, dog eared, maybe some torn from use? If the bible (word of God) is not used, it might as well be a million miles away. Satan will do everything he can to convince us that we have time to do everything under the sun but no time to study God's word. My friends, we had best make the time to let God's word fill our hearts, mold our thoughts and guide our lives (2 Pert. 3:18; 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Phil. 4:6-9). The life robbed of God's word will be one of ignorance when there should be knowledge. It will be a life of uncertainty where there should be certainty. It will be a life of confusion where there should be peace, weakness where there should be strength. It will be a life that places it's trust in man when there should be trust in God (Acts 17:23; 1 John 5:13; Phil. 4:7; Eph. 6:10; Prov. 3:5; Matt. 15:8-9).


The battle against Satan will not be an easy one but as  a faithful child of God we will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one because greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world (Eph. 6:16; 1 John 4:4).


Charles Hicks

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Four Chaplains

It happened 76 years ago today: February 3, 1943.

A U.S. troop ship named The Dorchester was carrying more than nine hundred soldiers and military personnel across the North Atlantic on their way to serve in World War II.  In the blackness of night, a German submarine, a U-boat, fired torpedoes at The Dorchester.  One of the torpedoes hit the middle of the ship, fatally damaging it.  The torpedo knocked out the Dorchester's electrical system, leaving the ship dark.  There was pandemonium on board.  The Dorchester swiftly began to sink.

Aboard the ship were four military chaplains, from four different faiths.  They had been classmates at the Army Chaplains School at Harvard University, where they prepared for assignments in the European theater.  The four of them were sailing on board The Dorchester to report to their new assignments.  The four chaplains were Methodist minister George L. Fox, Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Roman Catholic priest John P. Washington, and Reformed Church in America minister Clark V. Poling.

The four chaplains sought to calm the men and organize an orderly evacuation of the ship and helped guide wounded men to safety.  As life jackets were passed out to the men, the supply ran out before each man had one.  The chaplains removed their own life jackets and gave them to others.  They helped as many men as they could into lifeboats, and then linked arms and, saying prayers and singing hymns, went down with the ship.

A survivor, Grady Clark, gave this account: “As I swam away from the ship, I looked back.  The flares had lighted everything.  The bow came up high and she slid under.  The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men.  They had done everything they could.  I did not see them again.  They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”

Only 230 of the 904 men aboard the ship were rescued.  The others either drowned or died because of hypothermia in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

The four chaplains gave their lives so that others might live. *

In so doing, they demonstrated what Jesus has done for all of us.

But only the sinless Son of God could pay the penalty for the sins of mankind.  This is what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins.  “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).  He died so that we could live.  Because He gave His life for us, we can receive salvation and eternal life through Him.

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 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 cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

On this, the 76th anniversary of the heroic actions of the Four Chaplains, let us remember their sacrifice.  May their sacrifice point to the One Who gave Himself for us so that we can be saved for an eternity.

Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life on His terms?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from Wikipedia article “The Four Chaplains” and “Real heroes: four died so others might live” by Bob Greene, CNN Contributor,, 2/3/13.

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