Archives for : August2009

Focused on the wrong thing

       While crossing the US-Mexican border on his bicycle, Pedro Gonzalez was stopped by a border guard who pointed to two sacks Pedro had on his shoulders. “What’s in the bags?”, asked the guard. “Sand,” said Pedro.”Get them off – we’ll take a look,” said the guard. Pedro did as he was told. He put down the two sacks and poured out the contents. Sure enough, they contained nothing more than sand. The border guard stood there scratching his head for a while then he told Pedro to empty his pockets. Pedro complied by pulling his pockets inside out revealing that there was nothing in them. The Border guard was sure that this Mexican was a smuggler. Even so, he told Pedro that he was free to go. So Pedro carefully scooped up the sand in his hands and reloaded the two sacks. Putting them back on his shoulders, Pedro continued across the border.

       A week later, the same thing happened. Again the border guard stopped Pedro and demanded to see what was in the two sacks. Once again, they contained nothing but sand. As Pedro was leaving, the border guard thought to himself, “Maybe he’s just testing me! Maybe he’s going to keep doing this hoping that I’ll quit searching his sacks! Well, I know he’s got to be a smuggler so I’ll keep stopping him and searching his bags. That Mexican won’t fool me!” This went on every week for six months. Each time, the border guard found nothing but sand in Pedro’s sacks

       One day, the Border guard was waiting for Pedro to appear with the sand bags. He was convinced that Pedro was guilty of smuggling something into the U.S. This time he was going to find out what it was! However, Pedro failed to appear.  A few days later, the guard happened to meet Pedro in El Paso. “Say friend, you sure drove me crazy”, said the guard. “I knew you were smuggling something across the border. I won’t say a word – but what were you smuggling across the border? I know you had to be smuggling something!” A big grin spread across Pedro’s face and he replied, “Bicycles!”

       The border guard had his eyes on the wrong things.  His eyes were focused on the sacks Pedro was carrying!  If he had focused on what Pedro was riding, he could have seen that it was a different bike each time!  His eyes were on the wrong thing!

Hebrews 12:2:  “Looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of (our) faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”


Someone has composed this list (from a variety of sources) of “Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went Out Into the Real World”:

*  Never continue dating anyone who is rude to the waiter.

*  Some people are working backstage, some are playing in the orchestra, some are on-stage singing, some are in the audience as critics, some are there to applaud.  Know who and where you are.

*  The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship: “I apologize” and “You are right.”

*  Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

*  When you make a mistake, make amends immediately.  It’s easier to eat crow while it’s still warm.

*  The only really good advice that I remember my mother ever gave me was, “Go!  You might meet somebody!”

*  If he says that you are too good for him, believe it.

*  I’ve learned to pick my battles; I ask myself, “Will this matter one year from now?  How about one month?  One week?  One day?”

*  The shortest line is always the longest.

*  Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect, it just means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.

*  If you woke up breathing, congratulations!  You have another chance!

     There’s a lot of biblical truth in many of the statements above, especially the last statement.  How often have you done something really stupid and said to yourself, “I wish I could have a second chance”?  The truth is, God has given you a second chance.  He’s given you hundreds of second chances.  You’re not guaranteed another one, but the fact that you got up out of bed today means that you have one more opportunity to make right anything that has destroyed your relationship with God or others.

     Many people have questioned why Jesus has not yet returned like he promised he would.  Here’s one reason:

     “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise [to return], as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

     If you woke up breathing, congratulations!  You have another chance!  Don’t waste it.

— Alan Smith

How times have changed!

“First dentistry was painless.
Then bicycles were chainless,
Carriages were horseless,
And many laws enforceless.

Next cookery was fireless,
Telegraphy was wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless,
And coffee caffeineless.

Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy was hatless,
The proper diet fatless.

New motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religion–godless.”

~Arthur Guiterman, “Gaily the Troubadour”

Tested by freedom and hardship

According to Pavel Poloz (1987) an exile from Russia – “In Russia, Christians are tested by hardship, but in America you are tested by freedom. And testing by freedom is much harder. Nobody pressures you about your religion. So you relax and are not so concentrated on Christ, on His teaching, how He wants you to live.”

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Very sweet, Indeed!

 The names Lindt, Neuhaus, Toblerone, and Godiva are world-renowned for their unique and delicious blends of chocolate and other confectionery. In Europe, there are over thirty museums dedicated to chocolate, such as the Imhoff Schokolade Museum in Cologne, which celebrates 3,000 years of chocolate making by allowing visitors to drink daily from their chocolate fountain.

One of the tools that confectionery makers may use is a process known as batch distillation, where a liquid is poured into a kettle and heat is applied. The undesirable components, such as water, ethers, alcohols, acids and other lightweight materials are driven off by the heat; in fact workers call these substances “lights.” The molecules composing these substances are usually free standing and do not bond with neighboring molecules to give higher molecular weight. The desirable product, however, is not driven away but stays in the kettle and sweetens as the heating proceeds. The molecules of this product readily interact with others to form tight bonds and intertwine to give heavy molecular weight.

When the right amount and duration of heat has been applied, the process is stopped to give the end product a perfect texture and taste. Great care is taken to apply only as much heat as the product can bear, so as not to form carbon or “caramelize” it. By staying in the kettle and being transformed by the heat, soupy and viscous liquids are converted into delectable products which people all over the world cherish and enjoy daily.

The process of making chocolate illustrates a process that God would like to implement in YOUR LIFE and MINE – with our cooperation. First,

God would like to remove the “undesirable components” from our lives; Our SINS! Sin separates us from God and from all that is truly good (Isaiah 59:1-2). Sin also leads to eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46). In order to receive the abundant life now (John 10:10) and eternal life to come (Romans 6:23), the impurity of sin must be removed from our lives. God, in His love, has provided the means of purging these impurities from our lives. He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross (Ephesians 1:7). To be cleansed from our sins through His atoning sacrifice, we must believe and trust Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38).

Secondly, God wants to transform our lives into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This process requires “heat” – the challenge of living for Christ in an ungodly society. With our faithful cooperation, by His grace, God will mold us more and more into the image and likeness of Jesus – a life that is very sweet, indeed.

Won’t YOU allow Him to make something sweet out of YOUR life?

In order to enjoy the GREATER RICHES of forgiveness and life, we must renounce our false gods and submit to the one TRUE God. We must believe and trust in Him (Hebrews 11:6) and His Son (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).

 The two sisters have now realized that winning isn’t everything; it can be accompanied by great loss. But through Christ, if we will choose to “lose” our focus on dead idols and turn to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9), then in the end, we will WIN! Where’s YOUR focus?

 — Terry Livingston & David A. Sargent

An offensive savior

“THE WORLD HAS no problem accepting and following a religious leader who permits them to stay in their sins… but they will crucify the man who dares to point them to a narrow gate that leads to a narrow way” (Warren Wiersbe). “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10). –Mike Benson


This word came courtesy of one of the boy’s magazines (God’s World News: TOP STORY, Vol. 23, No. 17, 2/5/08, p. 8).  “Magniloquence,” a word seemingly requiring an unabridged dictionary, means “employing impressive words and an exaggeratedly solemn and dignified style or using important- sounding words” (Encarta).  To use the word in a sentence, “The preacher magniloquently threw around words like ‘magniloquence.'” 

The Bible places a great premium on the sort of words and speech we use (cf. Mt. 12:36-37; Col. 4:6).  Apparently, “big talkers” are not a novelty of today.  In fact, one finds a surprising number of contexts and discussions centering around such.  Peter warns of certain lawless individuals who speak “out arrogant words of vanity” (2 Pet. 2:18; cf. Jude 16).  Paul, warning of coming difficult times, included in the list of qualities making for such those who were boastful and arrogant (2 Tim. 3:1ff).  The same type characteristics show up in Paul’s condemnation of Gentiles’ sinfulness in Romans 1:30.  Many other texts indicate this same malady of the mouth.

Certainly, these inspired writers seem to speak of something that goes much farther than even magniloquence.  Yet, it serves as a good reminder.  Why would we try to talk or act in some way to make us look important, smart, sophisticated, successful, or the like?  It may be a lack of common sense, failing to consider our audience.  It may be insecurity, compensating for other shortcomings.  It may ambition, trying to impress the “right kind” of folks. 

Let us be reminded that being pretentious, i.e., “making claims to some distinction, importance, etc.”–whatever form that takes–means failing to imitate Christ.  He called for humility and the avoidance of selfish ambition (cf. Rom. 2:8; Phil. 1:17; Js. 3:14,16).  We should be intent on lifting up Christ, not magnifying self.  May be make conscious effort to let that attitude show up in our choices, our deeds, and our speech!

Comments on the Masonic Lodge

The authority on Masonry is “Morals and Dogma of the Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,” by Albert Pike.   Another principle source for study is “Masonry Defined,” by Albert G. Mackey.   Quotes from these books are not quotes by any of the “enemies” of Masonry, but their own words from respected authorities among Masons themselves.  I want to share a few quotes from these authoritative works, and then draw some conclusions.  

In referring to the Masonic altar, Mackey wrote: “It is a sacred utensil of religion, intended, like the altars of the ancient temples, for religious uses, and thus identifying Masonry, by its necessary existence in our lodges, as a religious institution.  Its presence should also lead the contemplative Mason to view the ceremonies in which it is employed with solemn reverence, as being a part of a really religious worship” (page 65).   In that same book, Mackey advocates that Masonry gets “its religion from the ancient priesthood” (page 333).   And again: “When Masonry established its system partly on the ancient rites and partly on the Jewish ceremonies, it founded its third degree as the Adytum (forbidden place) or holy of holies of all its mysteries, the exclusive place into which none but the most worthy – the priesthood of Masonry – the masters in Israel – were permitted to enter” (page 156).  Let us ask our queerest, can a faithful child of God be a participant or supporter of any religious organization other than the church for which our Lord shed His precious blood?  To ask is to answer!  There is only ONE body of Christ (Eph. 4:4), and it is in THAT body that salvation will be attained (Eph. 5:23).  To join ourselves to another religious organization constitutes spiritual adultery.  Our Lord said, “Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). 

Second, Masonry claims that true knowledge comes through their secret organization rather than the Bible and Christ our Lord.  This secret fraternal organization claims that “all the true ideas of Deity” come through their system of religion.  Mackey averred that “of all human societies, Freemasonry is undoubtedly, under all circumstances, the fittest to form the truly good man” (page 208), and that in following Masonry, you would thereby “be faithful to yourself, to your fellows, and to God” (Morals and Dogmas, page 113).  If you think Masons consider the Bible as the superior revelation, then consider the following:  “To the Christian Mason the Book of the Law is the Old and New Testament; to the Jew, the Old Testament, to the Muslim, the Koran; to the Brahman, the Vedas; and to the Parsee, the Zendavesta” (page 78-79, Mackey).   Pike averred, “the doctrines of the Bible are often not clothed in the language of strict truth” (page 224, Morals and Dogma).  God’s inspired spokesman, Paul, told us that “very scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every god work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Peter told us that “his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).   Masonry would supplant the life giving word with soul damning human doctrine and philosophy!

Third, the Masons have a mock “communion” service called the “fraternal supper.”  Listen to Pike’s description of this blasphemous memorial:  “The fraternal supper, of bread which nourishes, and of wine which refreshes and exhilarates, symbolic of the time which is to come, when all mankind shall be one great harmonious brotherhood” (page 538-539, Morals and Dogma).   This fraternal supper is referred to as “the chief symbol of man’s ultimate redemption and regeneration” (page 538-539). 

Well, we could go on and speak of their “baptism,” anointing with oil, and white robes.  Brethren, the child of God cannot partake in these things and be pleasing to God.  Let us examine all things in the light of God’s word, hold to that which is good, and cast off all that is out of harmony with God’s word. 

–Tom Wacaster

Judas Iscariot and Suicide


A.  The most notorious and universally scorned of all the disciples is Judas Iscariot—the betrayer.

      1.  He betrayed the perfect, sinless, holy Son of God for a handful of money.

      2.  He spent three years with Jesus, but for all of that time his heart was only growing hard and hateful.

B.  Here was a man who drew as close to the Savior as it is humanly possible to be.

      1.  He enjoyed every privilege Christ afforded.

      2.  He was intimately familiar with everything Jesus taught.

 1.  Jesus                                               all night before selecting the twelve.  Lk. 6:11-13; cf. 22:3; Jn. 15:16

 2.  Thought:  Was it unwise for Jesus to select Judas as one of the twelve in the first place?

 3.  Jesus knew from the                                                                that Judas would betray Him.  Jn. 6:64; cf. Psm. 41:9; 55:12-14; Zech.


 4.  Was Judas a rational man?  (Would Jesus have selected an irrational man)?

 Was Judas responsible for his own actions or was he coerced into doing what he did? 

  1. People who are perfectly rational sometimes do impulsive, drastic things they later regret very much.
  2. NOTE:  A person can become mentally ill and then, in that state, do things for which they are not morally accountable.
  3. NOTE:  Every person is accountable for his or her actions up to the point of losing rationality.

 5.  What were the requirements for one to be an apostle?  Acts 1:21, 22

 6.  What specific role did Judas fulfill as one of the twelve?  Jn. 12:6

 Judas was living covertly with the fact that he was a                                           .  Jn. 13:29

  1. What was his attitude towards money?  Jn. 12:2-5; cf. Mt. 20:2
  2. QUESTION:  Did this sin have any impact on why he later killed himself?      
  3. Judas had every opportunity to turn from his error.

1)       He heard every lesson Jesus taught during His ministry.  

2)      Many of those lessons applied directly to him.  cf. Lk. 16:1-3; Mt. 22:11-14; 6:19-34; Lk. 13:13-21; Mt. 23:1-(Did he ever apply any of these messages?  Why did he keep up his deceit)?

 7.  What expectations did the twelve have about following Jesus?  Mt. 19:27; cf. Lk. 18:29-30

 8.  What did Judas do immediately after he did not gain access to the money from the perfume?  Mt. 26:14-16;

     Ex. 21:32  (Note: At the very moment when Jesus was instituting the Lord’s Supper, Judas was making arrangements

     for His capture).  cf. Lk. 22:39; Jn. 18:2

 9.  Did Jesus know Judas would betray Him?  Jn. 13:10-11, 18-19, 21; Mt. 26:22

 10.  Exactly how did Judas die?  Mt. 27:5; Acts 1:18-19

 11.  Did Jesus know Judas would commit suicide?  (Why didn’t Jesus prevent Judas from killing himself)?

 12.  Did the other eleven see any suicidal tendencies in Judas prior to the time he took his own life?

 13.  Did the other eleven feel any guilt for not seeing the “signals” in Judas prior to his death?

A sermon on time

“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Eph. 5:16: KW—08.09.09 #1 in a series


A.  Does any adult here have absolutely enough time in your day?  (Raise your hands if you do). 

      1.  Did any of you get 25 hours in any day this past week?

      2.  Most of the people I talk to believe that they would be more effective if they just had more time.


B.  Foundational idea #1: “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I

      myself should become disqualified.”  1 Cor. 9:27

      1.  We typically think of this verse as a response to the false doctrine of “once-saved, always saved.”

      2.  Note the phrase, “…I discipline my body and bring it into subjection…”

            a.  The Greek word translated “discipline,” upotiazw, means to strike under the eye, to beat black and blue.

            b.  The Greek word translated “subjection,” doulagwgw, means to lead into slavery, to make a slave or to treat

                 one as a slave

            c.  They only person I can really discipline and bring into subjection (i.e., control) is me—Mike Benson. 

            d.  The phrase “time management” is really a misnomer.  (Time management isn’t really about time management

                  at all; it is about LIFE-management). 

                  .  I can’t slow time down, move it forward (e.g., waiting for vacation), or pause it.    

                  .  All I can do is manage myself and how I use the twenty-four hours granted me by God. 


 C.  Foundational idea #2: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine…”  1 Tim. 4:16

      1.  It is easy to get caught up in the hectic demands of my day and leave the really important stuff undone.  (Henry

            David Thoreau said, “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants.  The question is, what are we busy about?”).  

      2.  Occasionally I need to stop and evaluate myself and the use of my time. 

            a.  “What am I doing?”  “How am I doing?”

            b.  “Is this THE most effective use of my time?”  “Then another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go

                 and bury my father.’  But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’”  Mt. 8:21-22

                 1)  There is a conflict in this passage about time (e.g., what activity should take precedence—follow Jesus or

                      make funeral arrangements)?

                 2)  Normally a man was exempted from a whole string of important religious duties in the event of a loved

                       one’s death.

                 3)  Burial was carried out the day the person died (cf. Acts 5:6, 10), but mourning customs followed throughout

                       the subsequent week. 

                 4)  BTW, Jesus was not suggesting that we leave the deceased bodies of our loved ones lying about the

                       countryside.  (He was telling the man to let those who were spiritually dead to bury this loved one who was

                       physically dead).

                 5)  Many of our daily decisions, including the use of our time, do not involve good or evil, right or wrong, but

                       rather what is good, better, and best.


D.  I need to evaluate how I use my time and then learn how to control and manage myself.  4 truths: 

      1.  God has given me 168 hours each week, 24 hours each day—no more, no less. 

      2.  No one knows when time will stop.  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor

            the Son, but only the Father.”  Mk. 13:32

      3.  Everyone lives now.   

      4.  Becoming a Christian obligates me to view and use my time differently than the world does.

            a.  My goal is not to find more time, but to use my time more wisely.

            b.  If there is a leak in my bathtub, I want to patch it up.  If there are leaks in my time, then I need to repair them. 


I.  My time is limited.


    A.  I have to come to grips with this reality.  (I’m not going to get an additional hour today or any day).  “I must work

          the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”  Jn. 9:4 


          1.  Gen. 1:14  “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the

               night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.”


          2.  Job 14:1-2  “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower and

               fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue.” 

          3.  Job 7:6  “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.” 

          4.  Job 9:25  “Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good.”

          5.  Gen. 47:9  “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty

               years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life…” 

          6.  David said in 1 Chron. 29:15, “Our days on earth are as a shadow…” 

          7.  James 4:14  “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor

               that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”


    B.  Thought: What I do with my life and time will have an impact on my eternity—where there is no time.       


II.  My activities are typically either pressing or consequential. 


     A.  Definitions:

           1.  Pressing means “demanding immediate attention or urgent” (e.g., emergency mode).

           2.  Consequential means “significant or important.” 

                 a.  Question: Are these definitions identical?  No. 

                 b.  Why then do we treat them the same way?  (We often treat those things which are pressing as though they

                       are consequential, don’t we)? 


     B.  Test:


           1.  Is this activity consequential or pressing?  (Note: Some things can be both consequential and pressing).  Ex:

                Joe Rhodes found a 5 ½ ft. rattlesnake in his backyard just a few feet away from where his grandsons were

                picking up golf balls.   

           2.  Examples:

                .  No milk for breakfast.

                .  An appointment for a blood test and biopsy to determine if I have bone cancer.

                .  A 10 page term paper due this coming Friday.

                .  Being 10 minutes late for a luncheon date with a friend.

                .  Being 30 minutes late for your child’s ballgame.

                .  Being 3 months late with your house payment.

                .  Being baptized.

                .  A sore throat.

                .  A child’s high fever.

                .  Playing a favorite game on Facebook.  “And he said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place

                   and rest a while.’  For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”  Mk. 6:31    

                .  Attending Bible class.

                .  Putting out a fire on the stove.

                .  Checking the oil in your car.

                .  Finishing your taxes. 

                .  Cleaning and picking up your house.      

                .  Getting dinner on the table for company.  “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village,

                    and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who

                    also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she

                    approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her

                    to help me.’  And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about

                    many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away

                    from her.’”  Lk. 10:38-42

                    a.  I don’t hear Jesus saying that preparing a meal and eating is unimportant.

                    b.  I do hear Jesus making a distinction between what is consequential and what is pressing.  (Martha got the

                         the two confused). 

                    c.  When I am guilty of making that which is pressing into something consequential, I need to go back and

                         study 1 Tim. 4:16—“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine…” 

                    d.  May I suggest that how I manage myself and my time is, in fact, a doctrinal issue.  “Redeeming the time…”

                         Eph. 5:16

                         1)  Redeeming the time refers to buying up the opportunity (as a wise purchaser who realizes the value

                               of certain merchandise and buys it before the option to make the purchase is no longer available).  Ex:

                               Brian finding a great deal on muzzleloaders 

                         2)   We all relate to time in different ways: referees call time, prisoners serve time, musicians mark time,

                               historians record time, loafers kill time, statisticians keep time.  (As a Christian I am to redeem time). 


III.  I need to learn to differentiate between the pressing and the consequential and act accordingly. 


      A.  Example: laziness 


            1.  Prov. 10:5  “He who gathers in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.” 

                  a.  What happens if I am napping during the time when the crops are ripe and ready to be picked? 

                  b.  Not only is it shameful to sleep when I should be working, but it is consequential.   

            2.  Prov. 19:15  “Slothfulness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.”

                  a.  What happens if I choose to be lazy instead of going out and trying to find a job?

                  b.  Laziness is consequential.  “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not

                        work, neither shall he eat.”  2 Thess. 3:10 

            3.  Prov. 20:4  “The sluggard will not plow because of winter; therefore he will beg during the harvest and have


                  a.  What happens if I wait for comfortable temperatures before I start working in my vegetable garden?

                  b.  A lot of people have learned that not working is consequential. 


     B.  Example: preparing for famine


           1.  cf. Gen. 41

                a.  Joseph had been cast into prison because he had allegedly attempted to rape Potiphar’s wife.  cf. Gen. 39

                b.  While in prison, he correctly interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker.  cf. Gen. 40

                c.  Two years later, Pharaoh also had dreams which could not be interpreted.  cf. Gen. 41:1-8

                     .  The butler then remembered Joseph.  cf. Gen. 41:9-13

                     .  Pharaoh called for Joseph and asked him to interpret the dreams.  cf. Gen. 41:14-24

                     .  Joseph interpreted the dreams and told Pharaoh what was going to transpire over the next fourteen

                        years.  cf. Gen. 41:25ff

                d.  Question: Was preparing for the seven years of famine pressing or consequential?

           2.  There are often a number of things that are screaming for my immediate attention.

                 a.  From both a practical as well as a spiritual perspective, if I am constantly doing the pressing things, I may

                      find myself very hungry come “famine time”! 

                      .  If I spend too much time talking with my friends, I may have to stay up all night to finish a paper for class.

                         (I might even fail the class because the paper was late or was rushed and not prepared thoughtfully).

                      .  If I don’t put out that little flame under the eye of the stove while it is small today, I may be looking for a

                         new place to live tomorrow. 

                      .  If I spend hours learning to play a game on the internet, but my best friend steps into eternity in a lost

                         condition because I never learned how to teach him, was it worth the trade?  

                      .  If I’m too busy to spend quality and quantity time with my children when they are young, I might lose

                         them to the world when they go out on their own.

                      .  If I did the pressing stuff and neglected taking my children to Bible study, I shouldn’t be surprised if they

                         fall away because the word was never really ingrained in their hearts.

                      .  If I am constantly running around with my friends, but I neglect the emotional and physical needs of

                         my mate, I shouldn’t be surprised when he or she starts talking about divorce.    

                      .  If I’m too busy with work or pleasure to be immersed and involve myself in the work of the Lord, I will

                         be lost.  “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a

                         man give in exchange for his soul?”  Mt. 16:26

                 b.  Are you willing to take a few moments now and make an honest appraisal of your time? 



A.  How have you done this week?  Did you carry out pressing stuff or consequential stuff?

           1.  Did you do the stuff that really mattered or were you running around in emergency mode doing the pressing


      2.  What do you need to do with the time you have RIGHT NOW?

            .  Rethink what you’ll do with your afternoon?

            .  Publicly repent and ask for prayers?  Be immersed?

B.  Illust: A read of an old Norwegian who had kept very careful notes of his life in a series of notebooks he kept on the

      shelf of his business.  On his eightieth birthday he went to the store and pulled the books from the shelf and began

      to compute his life.  He was surprised to find that he had spent five of his eighty years waiting on customers.  He

      had spent six months tying neckties, three months scolding children who had been running around the store, and

      eight days telling his dogs to lie down and be quiet. 

      1.  Some stuff is pressing; some stuff is consequential. 

      2.  We need to learn to distinguish between the two and then act accordingly.

C.  “Does anybody really know what time it is?”  (Lyrics)


      As I was walking down the street one day
      A man came up to me and asked me
      What the time was that was on my watch, yeah
      And I said

      Does anybody really know what time it is?
      Does anybody really care?
      If so I can’t imagine why
      We’ve all got time enough to cry

      And I was walking down the street one day
      A pretty lady looked at me and said
      Her diamond watch had stopped cold dead
      And I said

      Does anybody really know what time it is?
      Does anybody really care?
      If so I can’t imagine why
      We’ve all got time enough to cry

      And I was walking down the street one day
      Being pushed and shoved by people trying to beat the clock
      Oh, oh, I just don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, oh
      And I said, yes, I said

      Does anybody really know what time it is?
      Does anybody really care?
      If so I can’t imagine why
      We’ve all got time enough to die

      Everybody’s working
      I don’t care about time
      I don’t care


D.  “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of

      God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Col. 3:1-2







“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Eph. 5:16: KW—08.09.09


A.  Do you have enough time in your day?


B.  Foundational idea #1: 1 Cor. 9:27

      1.  Definitions:

            a.  “Discipline” means:

            b.  “Subjection” means:

      2.  The only person I can really discipline and bring into subjection is:


C.  Foundational idea #2: 1 Tim. 4:6

      1.  What is the danger of getting caught up in the hectic demands of the day?

      2.  What was the man’s problem?  Mt. 8:21-22


D.  I need to evaluated how I use my time and then learn how to manage myself.  4 truths:






I.  My time is                                                                      .


    A.  Verses:  Gen. 1:14; Job 14:1-2; 7:6; 9:25; Gen. 47:9; 1 Chron. 29:15; Jas. 4:14


    B.  What I do with my life and time will have an impact on                                                                         .


II.  My activities are typically either                                        or                                                                            .


     A.  Definitions:

           1.  Pressing means:

           2.  Consequential means:

     B.  Are these definitions the same?


     C.  Test:


                .  No milk for breakfast                         

                .  An appointment for a blood test and biopsy

                .  A 10 page term paper due this coming Friday

                .  Being 10 minutes late for a luncheon date with a friend

                .  Being 30 minutes late for your child’s ballgame

                .  Being 3 months late with your house payment

                .  Being baptized

                .  A sore throat

                .  A child’s high fever

                .  Playing a game on Facebook

                .  Attending Bible class

                .  Putting out a fire on the stove

                .  Checking oil in your car

                .  Finishing your taxes

                .  Cleaning and picking up your house

                .  Getting dinner on the table for company

                   a.  What was Martha’s problem?  Lk. 10:38-42

                   b.  Eph. 5:16


III.  I need to learn to                                                     between the pressing and the consequential and                           .


      A.  Prov. 10:5; 19:15; 20:4


      B.  Gen. 41



“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Eph. 5:16: KW—08.09.09 #2 in a series


A.  Illust: General Stonewall Jackson was involved in his famous 1862 campaign through the Shenandoah Valley of

      Virginia.  It was necessary for the general to get his army across a river one night, so he gave orders to the engineers

      to make a way for the artillery and wagons to go over.  He also called his wagon-master, who was a blacksmith, to

      headquarters and gave him instructions to get the wagon train across the river as fast as possible.  The engineers

      went to work in their usual manner to devise a bridge.  The blacksmith, knowing only that something was to be done

      in the most practical way, gathered a force and with logs and rocks and fence rails improvised a bridge of his own.

      Between midnight and day he awakened General Jackson and said, “General, we have got all the wagons and artillery

      across.”  The astonished general asked, “Where are the engineers?”  The blacksmith replied, “They’re over there in a

      tent still drawing pictures and planning a bridge.”

      1.  To borrow from last week’s message, sometimes I’m working on pressing matters (i.e., urgent), when I should be

            working on consequential matters (i.e., important). 

            a.  Sometimes I am drawing up plans and blueprints when I ought to be building bridges.

            b.  That’s why we’re asking the question in this series, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

      2.  In last Sunday’s lesson we started talking about not so much time management, but life management.

            a.  The truth is, I can’t slow time down (e.g., when I’m doing something I really enjoy), I can’t move fast forward it

                 (e.g., when  facing hardship), nor can I put it on pause if I need to think.  (Time moves on whether I want it to

                 or not). 

            b.  I’m not in control of time; I am in control of myself.  “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest,

                  when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  1 Cor. 9:27

                  1)  Subjection means “to treat one as a slave.”

                  2)  Question: “Am I a slave to Jesus and His priorities for my life, or am I a slave to my ever urgent schedule?”

                        a)  Occasionally I need to evaluate how I use my time and then manage myself.  “Take heed to yourself and

                              to the doctrine…”  1 Tim. 4:16

                        b)   I need to ask myself, “How am I doing?”  “Is this THE MOST effective use of my time?”

B.  Observations from last week’s message:

      1.  My time is limited.  (James said it is like a vapor; vapors typically don’t hang around very long).  Jas. 4:14    

      2.  Most of my activities are typically either pressing or consequential.  Jesus told Martha, “…Martha, Martha, you are

            worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed…”  Lk. 10:41b-42a

            a.  Martha was so caught up in the preparations of a meal for the preacher, that she overlooked the fact that the

                 Bread of Life—the Son of God was sitting right there in her living room. 

            b.  Many times we confuse pressing stuff with consequential stuff.

      3.  I need to learn to differentiate between the pressing and the consequential and act accordingly.  (If Joseph had

           waited seven years before he had started on preparations for famine, a lot of people would have starved to


C.  On a personal note, I have been somewhat concerned about this past week’s impending schedule:

      1.  Schedule:

           .  Regular Monday staff meeting, plus other individual meetings

           .  Daily email devotional—KneEmail

           .  Bi-weekly Article for Forthright website

           .  Preparation for: a) New Christian’s class on Wed. at 6:00, b) two sermons and Powerpoint, c) Sunday AM Bible

              class, 2 lessons and Ppt for SEC on Saturday in Birmingham, Thursday Shepherd’s class, counseling, and

              visitation, email

              a.  Unexpected things: benevolence, email requests, phone calls, unscheduled meetings, etc.

              b.  We had company at the house and Lanore’s birthday was Thursday. 

      2.  I thought, “How can I do everything that needs to be accomplished?”  “How can I live with the limitations of


D.  Both God and I are involved in this equation of “time”management: 


I.  God has given me time.  “This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psm. 118:24


    .  The Lord is in charge of time; in fact, He transcends time.  (He created lights in the sky for signs and seasons, days

       and years).  cf. Gen. 1:14

    .  I am responsible for how I use the time God has granted me.  “Redeeming the time…” Eph. 5:16


     A.  Time has built in/inherent limitations.  “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they

           are eighty years…”  Psm. 90:10


           1.  With few exceptions, most people live to be in their seventies or eighties at best. 

           2.  At some intervals during that life there are things that have to be done (i.e., sleep, eat, etc.).  (As much as I may

                want to, I can’t do everything and so it is futile to try).


     B.  Even Jesus was limited by time while He was on earth.  “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day

           the night is coming when no one can work.”  Jn. 9:4  (Ponder that for just a moment—“Jesus was limited…”). 


           1.  God the Son is eternal.  “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  Jn. 8:58

                a.  Notice he did not say, “I was,” but “I AM” denoting eternality. 

                b.  His Jewish listeners could only interpret His statement as blasphemy. 

           2.  But Jesus the Son of Man was bound by the limitations of time. 

                a.  He couldn’t heal and help everybody.  “And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place

                     and rest a while.’  For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”  Mk. 6:31

                b.  Jesus in the flesh (cf. Jn. 1:14) needed to:

                     1)  Eat.

                     2)  Rest, sleep.  “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the

                           waves.  But He was asleep.”  Mt. 8:24

                c.  If Jesus was limited in time while He was on the earth, then I surely am!

                     1)  And again, to borrow from last week, I have to come to grips with that reality.

                     2)  Lance Armstrong said, “Time is limited, so I better wake up every morning fresh and know that I have just

                           one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and



II.  God has given me talents and abilities.


     A.  I can’t do everything, but I can do some things.  “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country,

           who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and

           to another one, to each according to his ability…”  Mt. 25:14-15a


     B.  He has given me the ability to do certain things very well (i.e., in an excellent way).  “His lord said to him, ‘Well

           done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things…”  Mt. 25:21a


           1.  Examples: 

                 a.  If you car broke down, you wouldn’t want to call Mike Benson.  (I don’t have the talent to do much more

                      than change a flat tire).

                 b.  If you needed medical attention for an emergency, you wouldn’t want to call me.  (I don’t have the talent,

                      training, or skill to do much more than apply a band aid). 

           2.  But if you were looking for someone who knows something about, for example, conflict management or art

                and photography, you might come to me.

                a.  I’m not trying to boast or be arrogant; I’m simply saying God has given me certain talents that I have chosen

                     to develop.

                b.  God has given all of us talents.  Ex: Write, cook, create and decorate, manage, teach, organize, etc.    

                     1)  What we do with our time and talents is critical!

                     2)  If I want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from God at the Judgment Day, I

                           have to use what He has given me in an advantageous fashion.  “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good

                           and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things…  Enter into the joy of your lord.”  Mt. 25:21 


III.  God has promised me wisdom.


      A.  Promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will

            be given him.”  Jas. 1:5


            1.  Note that James did not say, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him study philosophy or let him meditate…”

                  a.  Knowledge (i.e., the possession of facts) is gained through study.

                  b.  But wisdom, understanding, and insight is a gift of God as is salvation.  “For the wages of sin is death, but

                       the (free) gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Rom. 6:23 

            2.  Do you need wisdom in terms of how match your talents with your time?    


       B.  Watch the phrase, “…who gives to all liberally and without reproach…”


             1.  Liberally, aplws, means “simply, unreservedly, freely.”  Ex:  

                   a.  When someone has made a request of you, have you gotten involved reluctantly, grudgingly, or made


                   b.  The phrase “without reproach” suggests that God not only gives generously, but He does so without

                        complaining, “You’re always asking for something from Me!” 

             2.  God will grant me wisdom as I listen to Him in His word and go to Him in prayer, but it is my responsibility to

                  use the gift He has offered.


IV.  I need to know my priorities


       A.  Daniel 3:1ff


             1.  Details:

                   .  The year in which the events of Daniel 3 take place is not given in Scripture.  (Tradition says it was around

                      the 18th year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign).

                   .  The king had a great image of gold constructed—probably in his likeness.  v. 1  (It was most likely created to

                      give glory to both Nebuchadnezzar as well as the god Marduk).

                   .  Government officials held a royal dedication ceremony.  vv. 2-3

                   .  A decree was made when then certain music was played, everyone was to bow down in homage.  vv. 4-7

                   .  Anyone who disobeyed this new law was to be cast into a fiery furnace.  v. 6

                   .  Certain Chaldeans came to accuse Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-Nego.  vv. 8-12  (This may have been

                      because these Jews as foreigners had prestigious positions in the Babylonian kingdom, and Jehovah

                      had also received a place of prominence).  cf. 1:6-7

                   .  Nebuchadnezzar gave the three men an ultimatum—bow or burn!  vv. 14-15

             2.  “Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to

                  answer you in this matter.  If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning

                  fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we

                  do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’”  Dan. 3:16-18

                  a.  These three men understood that if God favored them then they would be delivered from the furnace; if

                       Jehovah chose not to miraculously intervene, they would be dispatched into God’s eternal care. 

                  b.  The flame of their faith exceeded the heat of the furnace!  (Note: Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-Nego knew

                       their priorities!)


       B.  When I know my priorities, my schedule begins to fall into place.  (It is one thing to say and sing that I love God;

            another thing entirely to put that into practice in my daily walk)!


            1.  God has given me time, talents, and wisdom; assuming I know what is paramount in my life, THEN I can begin

                  to decide what to do and what not to do each day.

            2.  “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.”  Col. 4:5



A.  When was the last time you heard yourself say the following words…?  “Not tonight.”  “Later.”  “I’m too tired!”  or

      “I’m too busy.”

B.  Example:  The seven-year-old boy asked his father, “Daddy, could you build me a fort?”  Daddy said that he could.

      The child’s every waking moment was filled with the excitement and anticipation of working on his own fort.


      The child was nearly bursting with enthusiasm as his father came home from work the next day.  “Tonight, Daddy,

      can we build the fort?”  “Not tonight, son, I’m just too tired.”



      On the second night daddy postponed once more saying, “Tonight I have a report to do.  It must be finished by

      tomorrow.”  On the third night, daddy’s explanation was a bit longer, “Son, your mother and I have made a promise

      to go to a party.  Do you understand promises?”  Indeed, the child did understand about promises.  These were

      filled with other statements to postpone the building, but still the child persisted.



      On a Friday morning, the child heard his daddy say, “Tonight you hurry right home from school and we’ll build the

      fort.”  The excitement the little boy felt was indescribable.  Not one thing was gained from his day’s experience in

      school because all he could think about was the moment he would be working with his dad on that special fort.


      The bell rang signaling the end of the day.  The boy leaped from his desk, bolted out the front door, and maybe he

      reasoned like this: “I can run all the way home; it’s only seven blocks.”  With a head full of dreams and happiness, the

      boy ran as fast as he could, not at all aware of the too familiar world passing by.  As he entered the busy road, he

      looked neither left nor right.  A truck appeared out of nowhere and the two collided.  An ambulance took the lad to

      the hospital emergency room where the first evaluation contained only one word…“Coma.”  Dad received the call

      and drove recklessly to the hospital.  He pushed past people to enter his son’s room and stood for what seemed like

      an eternity at the foot of his child’s bed.  The father watched as his little boy opened his eyes and a smile appeared.

      He listened then as the child said, “Daddy, we won’t have to build that fort tonight after all,” and then he died.


      I believe that the little boy is okay, but Dad is not okay.  Dad is thinner now and he’s quieter.  Dad loses his hair in

      circular patches and when it grows back, it grows back without color.  He wonders where to turn from relief from

      the guilt and the pain.  To whom can he say, “I wish I had never postponed those requests?”  We may lose daddy,

      too.  (Jim Kern, Build the Fort Today, 42-43)

B.  Brethren, are there any “fort projects” you need to attend to?

      1.  God has given you this day.

      2.  God has given you talents.

      3.  God has promised you wisdom.

      4.  What is your priority?

           a.  Some here need to repent of sin; others need to be immersed for the remission of sins.

           b.  What will you do with the next ten minutes God has granted you?  “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It

                Is…?”  “Does Anybody Really Care…?”

























“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Jn. 9:4: KW—08.09.09 #2 in a series


A.  Illust: General Stonewall Jackson

B.  Review

      1.  My time is                                                               .


      2.  My activities are typically either                                                     or                                                            .


      3.  I need to learn to                                                                 between the pressing and the consequential and act



C.  “How can I do everything I want and need to do?” 


I.  God has given me                                                       .  Psm. 118:24


    .  Who is in charge of time?  Gen. 1:14


    .  What is my responsibility to that truth?  Eph. 5:16


    A.  Time has built in                                                     .  Psm. 90:10


    B.  Even                            was limited by time!  Jn. 9:4; 8:58; Mk. 6:31; Mt. 8:24


II.  God has given me                                                                                     .  Mt. 25:14-15


     A.  I can’t do                                                  , but I can do                                                      very well.  Mt. 25:21a


     B.  What we do with our time and talents is                                                    !  Mt. 25:21


III.  God has promised me                                            .  Jas. 1:5


       A.  Where exactly does this come from?


       B.  Explain the phrase, “…Who gives to all liberally and without reproach…” in your own words.





IV.  I need to know my                                                  .  Dan. 3


       A.  Who were the main characters in this true story?  What were the circumstances?


       B.  When I know my priorities, my                                                     begins to                                                                             .



A.  “Not tonight.”  “Later.” 

B.  “Fort projects…”

–Mike Benson

The Bible never gets old

DID YOU EVER notice how quickly things get old or outdated…?

I thought about this the other day as I taught my class at college. They’re on the cutting edge by providing a laptop computer for each student. It wasn’t too long ago when it was innovative for a college to have computers for students in the library. Then it was cutting edge to provide them for dorm rooms. But someday even personal laptops will become obsolete as well.

Everything man creates will eventually go out of date. Everything gets old. Everything, that is, but the gospel. The gospel is over 2,000 years old. And though there have been a lot of updated Bible translations, the gospel is still as relevant today as it was when it was written.  (Dave Branon)

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
–Mike Benson

Do We Love the Lord More?

 “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs” (John 21:15). Do We Love the Lord More Than Our Kinsmen?

If we do, we will not let them keep us from obeying the gospel. We will be willing to leave the religion they have accepted if it is proven wrong. We will not let them keep us from attending the services of the Lord’s church. Remember, Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

 Do We Love the Lord More Than Money? If we do, we will not make the heaping of riches the chief object of our living. We will give liberally of our means to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Remember, the Lord said, “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Do We Love the Lord More Than Pleasure? If we do, we will not engage in that which is forbidden, that which will hurt our influence for Christ. Remember, the Lord, in speaking of perilous times, said men shall be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Do We Love the Lord More Than Praise of Men? If we do, we will be willing to stand for the Lord and the right, though we must stand alone (2 Timothy 4:16-17). The chief rulers “did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). The Lord should be the supreme object of our affection (Matthew 22:37). May we learn to sing, and mean it, “More love to thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!”

-Wendell Winkler


I read recently about a wife who who frustrated at always being corrected by her husband.  She decided the next time it happened she would have a comeback.  That moment finally arrived, and she was ready.

     “You know,” she challenged, “even a broken clock is right once a day.”

     He looked at her and replied, “Twice.”

     Nobody enjoys being corrected, even if it’s done in a kind, loving way.  But correction may serve a useful purpose.  We need to listen to it and, if possible, profit by it. 

     As someone has said, “We learn much from the disagreeable things people say, for they make us think, whereas the good things only make us glad.”

     For Christians, correction should be a stepping-stone to spiritual growth!  It’s an opportunity to learn what we’re doing wrong and what we need to do better.  It provides us with the motivation we need to change and mature. 

     But our pride often stands in the way of our gaining anything from correction.  We don’t want to admit our shortcomings.  We react to admonishment by pouting, retaliating in anger or attempting to rationalize our behavior.

     Peter is a good example for us.  He had a lot of excellent qualities that made him a great servant of God — his leadership, his frankness, his energy, his devotion.  But there’s one quality in particular that helped Peter grow to the great leader that he was.  Peter was correctable.  And a correctable person is able to learn and grow.

     On at least eight different occasions, the Bible tells us that Peter blew it.  He sank in the Sea of Galilee.  He rebuked Jesus for talking about his death.  He spoke out of turn at the transfiguration.  He initially refused to let Jesus wash his feet.  He went to sleep in Gethsemane.  He cut off the ear of Mal­chus.  He denied any relationship with Jesus.  And he practiced racial discrim­ination against his Gentile brothers at Antioch.

     And every time he failed, Peter received some kind of admonition, usually verbal — from Paul, from Jesus, from God.  And each time, Peter humbly received his admonition, then pressed on in his Master’s service.

    “If you listen to correction to improve your life, you will live among the wise. Those who refuse correction hate themselves, but those who accept correction gain understanding.” (Proverbs 15:31-32, NCV)

–Alan Smith

My Cat Unplugged My Alarm Clock

A few years ago, the Baltimore Sun wrote an article about the outlandish excuses some people gave for not coming into work.  To sample this pathetic pool, there was, “my cat unplugged my alarm clock.”  “I couldn’t find my shoes.”  “My garage door is broken.”  “My cat has hairballs.”  “My partner and I need to practice for the square-dancing contest in town today.” But, John Campanelli of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, relates perhaps the most classic excuse I have ever heard.  It was related to him by Andrea Barnett, a human resources rep, whose MIA employee gave the excuse that he had been in jail.  He had borrowed a friend’s car to get to work, which car was reported stolen by police.  He said he was put in jail for possession of stolen property, a car he said had been used in a robbery.  This caused the police to grill him about it, which kept him from calling in to work.  He eventually convinced law enforcement of his innocence, thus earning his release.  Incredible story!  Incredibly untrue, Barnett found out when she called the sheriff’s office for whom that was a revelation.  Runners up from Campanelli’s article include the man who was experiencing morning sickness due to his wife’s pregnancy or the guy who had to make an emergency visit to the dentist to remove dental floss that got lodged between his teeth getting ready that morning.

Excuses are not confined to employees.  Students give excuses for late or incomplete assignments.  Spouses and children give excuses to other family members for bad behavior or shortcomings.  Leaders give excuses to followers, and followers give excuses to leaders.  If we are honest, nearly all of us have been guilty of excuse-making.  What we must guard against is perpetually making excuses for failing to do the will of God!  Those who make any excuse to explain why they have not become a Christian will not successfully put them past the Lord on the great day of judgment (cf. Acts 17:30; 2 Th. 1:7-8; Jude 15).  Christians who needed to publicly repent of a sinful lifestyle cannot expect to be successful standing before that same, perfect Judge (cf. Matt. 25:34-40).  

Let us also strive to avoid flimsy excuses we give for lack of involvement or for failure to faithfully attend worship services.  On the surface, these excuses may sound good to us.  But, if we will step back and try to look at it from heaven’s perspective, it may sound less important and solid.  Maybe we have not thought it through, that we are choosing things that are solely earthly, material, and temporary to the neglect of God’s will and purpose.  We may need new and different excuses to cover our failures, but will they work in the end?  God has placed us on this earth to accomplish His purpose, but if we fritter away our days and years on what will decay and dissolve to the indifference and disregard for heavenly matters what will we tell Him?  Whatever we say, will it be less hollow or shallow than the excuses the fine workers of Baltimore and Cleveland gave?  Rather than excuses, let us give God our best efforts.  Instead of rationalizing why we cannot, let us realize why we can (cf. Phil. 4:13; 1 John 4:19).

Neal Pollard

Three Faithful Jews

One of the most remarkable stories of God’s care for and deliverance of His children can be found in Daniel chapter three.  Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had made an image of enormous height, and had set it in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.  When the image was dedicated, a host of dignitaries from across the country were invited to attend.  At that dedication Nebuchadnezzar commanded that at what time they heard the sound of certain musical instruments, they were to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had made.    If anyone refused to bow before the image he would receive swift and sure punishment.  Among the Hebrew captives living in Babylon were three men, better known to us by their Chaldean names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  When the command was given to bow before the image, these three faithful Jews stood their ground and refused to bow before that idol.  They were brought before the king.  “Bow or burn!”  As if the threat were not enough, the king added ridicule to his rage: “And who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?” 

 These young Hebrews, captives in a foreign land, threatened with certain death, could easily have escaped a most horrible death by simply bowing before a “god” that really was no god at all.  But truth was at stake; God’s honor was being threatened; God’s power was being questioned.  No!  They would not bow.  “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  What courage!  The king was so angry that his very countenance was changed! “Heat the furnace seven times more than normally heated!”    The three Hebrew children were bound and cast into the furnace.  The fire was so hot that even those soldiers who cast these men into the furnace were themselves consumed by the heat of the fire.    As if to assure himself, king Nebuchadnezzar peered into the flame to see what he might see.  In the midst of the flames walked  (no longer bound, we might add), these three faithful Jews, suffering no hurt from the flames of the king’s retribution.  But they were not by themselves, for in the midst of the flames, and walking by their side was One like unto the Son of God.    “Come forth,” cried the king!  And when these three Hebrews stepped from the flames, that fire had no power upon their bodies, their hair was not singed, their garments were unscathed, and they did not even have the smell of smoke upon them.  

 Here are three important lessons to learn:  (1) It is never right to compromise!  These three Hebrews may have reasoned that they were in a strange land; who would know whether they bowed before some stupid, powerless, insignificant idol?  God would know! And those about them would know!   (2) Courage arises from deep conviction and personal regard for principle.    Who was it that said heroes die but once, but cowards die many deaths?  Even if God Almighty chose not to deliver these three men from death in the fiery furnace, truth was at stake!  They would not bow before that idol. They could face death with a courageous confidence that they were right in their choice.  It is reported that when Polycarp was about to be burned at the stake that he calmly said to the man about to light the flame, “See how my hands are steady while yours tremble!”   (3) Life’s fiery furnaces are unavoidable!  “Yea, all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).  Given enough time, you will face the choice of either bowing before the “king’s image” or maintaining loyalty to the King of kings.   How you respond to the “king’s edict” will determine whether or not the King confesses you before the Father in heaven.


The first time I recall understanding the significance of the story in 2 Kings 6:30 was sitting in a class taught by Wendell Winkler.  He called the lesson “Hidden Cares.”  He told us to remember that sitting in the audience each week we preached would be any number of folks carrying around hidden cares.  Getting nearer to twenty years of full-time preaching, I become more aware of that every day.  In fact, preaching this past Sunday on the woman in Mark five who had been suffering for twelve years, I was reminded of this as I looked into the faces of individuals suffering in a variety of ways.  While we usually know some of the burdens our brothers and sisters are bearing, there are still many others whose troubles are not as widely known.

Jehoram is no Old Testament hero, but is rather a wicked Israelite king.  He does not make the cut for the Hebrews eleven list and he does not even behave properly regarding Elisha after the event mentioned in the verse above, but he does illustrate the many who walk around with hidden cares.  The verse reads, “When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes-now he was passing by on the wall-and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body.”

The sackcloth was coarsely woven cloth, often made of goat’s hair.  It was worn to show mourning and submission to God.  No doubt, wearing one of these for any length of time would bring itching, irritation, and discomfort.  The garment was apparently meant to reflect outwardly the feelings of the heart and affliction of the spirit of the wearer.

Whether we are preaching or teaching or simply dealing with one another, may we keep a few things in mind.  At any given point, the person with whom we are dealing is likely wearing their own “hidden sackcloth.”  We may not be able to tell this by looking at their facial expressions or through any verbal cues when we converse.  Further, the hidden cares they carry may affect the way they respond to us.  Let us not assume they are upset with us or that it is even about us at all.  Finally, keep in mind that people cope with their hidden cares in different ways.  It is no reflection on the quality of our friendship or relationship if they do not share it.  Each of us must determine how, when, and with whom we disclose these things.  Let us pray for family, church family, coworkers, neighbors, and others with whom we have relationship as they wear these unseen cares.

To those with sackcloth underneath, remember that God has made us family.  There are those you can trust to help bear the burdens.  Pray about this and then act.  Let these cares refine your relationship with God and sharpen your focus on the place where there will be no such cares.  Remember that God is gracious and will not give you more than you can bear.  This may seem doubtful at times, but on the other side of the sorrow it will be clear. 

No matter how “spiffily” or “slobbily” one is dressed, be aware that underneath may be that figurative sackcloth.  May this drive us to be more compassionate and understanding in our dealings with one another. — Neal Pollard

A Lot Of Empty Yesterdays

 An incident from the American Revolution illustrates what tragedy can result from procrastination. It is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops in Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn’t bother to read it until the game was finished. Then, realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed and the rest of the regiment were captured. Nolbert Quayle said, “Only a few minutes’ delay cost him his life, his honor, and the liberty of his soldiers. Earth’s history is strewn with the wrecks of half-finished plans and unexecuted resolutions. ‘Tomorrow’ is the excuse of the lazy and refuge of the incompetent.”

Unfortunately the above scenario could be repeated dozens, if not hundreds of times throughout the history of mankind. Battles have been lost, business opportunities squandered, and personal relationships neglected for the simple reason that someone thought they had plenty of time. The most tragic consequence of procrastination, however, is the loss of one’s soul. Perhaps the one parable that so illustrates the tragedy of procrastination is that of the foolish virgins as set forth in Matthew 25:1-13. In contrast to the five wise virgins who kept their wicks trimmed and their flasks filled with oil, the five foolish virgins evidently thought they could, at the last moment, borrow from others in preparation for the coming of the bridegroom. Their negligence forever barred them from the wedding feast. So serious was their neglect that the bridegroom confessed, “Verity I say unto you, I know you not.”

Can you imagine the regret that will be ours should we find ourselves on that last day being turned away from that eternal home, not because of some immoral character, or because we were vile or horrible; rather because we simply neglected the opportunities that came our way.

The Holy Spirit reminds us in the Sacred Record that “Today” is the day of salvation. “Tomorrow” is not on heaven’s calendar, and “yesterday” is a page in every man’s spiritual log book that reflects how he treated “today.”

 In Meredith Wilson’s “Music Man,” Robert Preston plays the part of a con-artist who comes to River City, Iowa to form a “boys band” for his own financial gain. As the story develops Harold Hill (played by Preston) unexpectedly falls in love with the local librarian Marian Paroo (played by Shirley Jones) and asks her to go out with him. He invites her to meet him at the footbridge that crosses the stream running through the park. She responds, “Please, some other time. Maybe tomorrow.” He continues to press her to meet with him; she continues to refuse. Finally, in exasperation Professor Hill says, “Pile up enough tomorrows and you’ll find that you’ve collected nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.” — by Tom Wacaster


A prison escape gone bad

I HAVE ALWAYS been a fan of Alfred Hitchcock…
In one of his classic TV episodes, he dramatized the story of a wicked woman who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.  In a courtroom scene, the angry woman screamed at the judge and vowed that, no matter where she was imprisoned, she would escape and come back to make him sorry that he had sentenced her.
Guards removed her and she took that infamous bus ride to prison.  En route, she noticed something which was to become part of her escape plan.  She saw an old man, a prison inmate, covering up a grave outside the prison walls.  She soon realized that the only way she could escape was to get a key to the prison’s gate.  And the only inmate who had a key was the old man who assisted in the burial of dead prisoners.  In fact, he not only buried them, but he also built the caskets in which they were buried.  His job included rolling the casket onto an old grave cart outside the walls, lowering it into the hole, and covering it up with dirt.
The old man was going blind and needed cataract surgery.  The womoan discovered this fact and approached the old man, telling him that if he would help her escape, outside the walls she had enough money to pay all of his medical expenses.  He could have his eyes completely fixed.
At first, he said, “No, ma’am.  I can’t do that.”
“Oh, yes, you can,” she replied.  “Outside of this place, I have all the money you need to pay for your cataract surgery.  If you help me get out of here, I will give you that money.  If you ever hope to have an operation, you will help me escape.”
Finally, the man reluctantly gave in.  Here was the plan.  The next time she heard the toll of the bell which signaled the death of an inmate, she would slip down to his workroom where he made his caskets.  She was to locate the casket in which the old man had placed the corpse, then secretly slide herself into that same casket and pull the top down tightly.  Early the next morning, the old man would roll her along with the corpse in the casket, out to the place of burial.  He would drop the casket into the hole, dump a little dirt on it, and the next day he would come back, uncover the grave, release the lid on the casket, and she would be free.
A perfect plan…almost.
Late one night she heard the toll of the bell.  Someone had died.  This was her moment!  She secretly slid off her cot and made her way down the hallway.  Looking into the dimly lit room she saw the casket, and without hesitation she lifted the lid and in the darkness slipped into the box.  After squeezing in beside the corpse, she pulled the lid down tightly.  Within a matter of hours she could feel herself being rolled to a grave site.  She smiled as the casket was placed in the hole and clumps of dirt began to hit the top of the casket.  Before long, she was sealed beneath the earth.  Yet she smiled.  In fact, she couldn’t contain her excitement.  She had done it!
Time began to drag.  The next day came and passed into the night and still the old man didn’t show up.  Now she began to worry.  Where was he?  What could possibly have gone wrong?  Why hadn’t he shown up?  She broke into a cold sweat. 
In a moment of panic, she lit a match, glanced at the corpse next to her and discovered…the old man himself.  Her only hope lay buried right beside her.
THOUGHT: The greatest encouragement man will ever know is the giving of Jesus Christ to our world.  Through His death, burial, and resurrection, we can have HOPE of eternal life.  (David Jeremiah)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  1 Peter 1:3
–Mike Benson

A sermon on the preposition down

The preposition “down” 

1)      When we look at the New Testament we find the word “down” being used to describe people.

2)      When people worshipped deity, they sometimes “fell down” and worshipped.

3)      People showed the deepest and fullest respect and reverence for God that they could show.

4)      This falling down was not associated with the false claims of Pentecostalism.

5)      People had a recognition of who God is and they responded with the most submissive type of posture.

a)      We find our first example of this in Mt. 2:11.

6)      These men believed Jesus was “king of the Jews” and they wanted to “worship him” (verse 2).

a)      What earthly king deserves worship?

b)      These men did not come from across town; they apparently journeyed for several months one way.

7)      These men may have had close to ten months total travel time, plus some preparation time.

a)      Mt. 2:11 – READ

b)      Jesus was a small child, but these men treated the Lord in the most respectful way they could.

c)      They “fell down” before the child and they “worshipped” this child.

8)      The devil (Satan) must know a little something about worship.

9)      He spent some time in heaven and heaven is a place of worship, so Satan knows how worship should operate.

10)  Let’s look at Mt. 4; the specific reference is Mt. 4:9.

11)  Many think Satan simply wanted Jesus to “worship” him.

12)  This is not quite what the text says – let’s get the exact wording  – Mt. 4:9 – READ

a)      Satan wanted Jesus to “fall down” and then worship.

b)      Why use the extra words “fall down”?

13)  In Mt. 2 and Mt. 4 the same point is being made about worship.

14)  In worship we acknowledge someone’s greatness and our weaknesses.

15)  This point is explained and illustrated once again in Mt. 18.

a)      The debtor “fell down” and “worshiped” the Lord and asked for patience on paying the debt.

b)      The master of the servant was moved by this act and had “compassion” (verse 27).

16)  Our attitudes and our actions sometimes speak volumes.

17)  When it comes to worship, some pretend and they can be good at pretending.

18)  In Mt. 27:29 we find an example of pretend worship.

19)  Our next reference comes from Mk. 1:7.

20)  The 7th verse of Mk. 1 – READ

21)  – READ Mk. 3:11.

a)      Demons fell down before God.  Why did these creatures do this?

b)      They recognized God (in this case Jesus) for who He is.

22)  All too often we have people (even in the church) who do not really stop to think about who God is.

23)  God is the ultimate power and authority and we are to be in awe of Him.

24)  A woman had a daughter who was sick – demon possessed – Mk. 7:25.

a)      She came to Jesus and “fell down” at His feet.

25)  After Lazarus died, Jesus went to this home.

26)  Jn. 11:32 says Mary “fell down at his feet.”

27)  There are some people we would not want to submit to and kneel before.

Jesus is not on this list.