Archives for : October2009

The church built by Christ

    One of the most interesting observations one makes as he studies the Bible is God’s “consistency.”  For example: God has always placed water between His people and the people of the World. Flood waters between Noah and the people of the world; the waters of the Red Sea between His people and the Egyptians; the waters of the Jordan River was all that separated His people from the Promised Land; and today, the waters of baptism. Consider the number “3.” There are three dispensations: Patriarchal, Mosaic, and the Christian dispensation, which is the last (Hebrews 9:26); there is the Godhead consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; man consists of the body, soul and spirit. Also, 50 days after being set free from Egyptian bondage, the Law of Moses was given, and 50 days after the Resurrection, when we were set free from the bondage of sin, the Law of Christ was given.  When we are aware of God’s consistency, we can learn a great deal about how God works.

    Consider the Ark of Noah, and the church built by Christ. Noah’s ark was made of one material, gopher wood. Christ church is made of one material, living stones (1Peter 2:5).  There was only one door into the Ark, and only one door into the church (John 10:9).  In the flood that destroyed the world, only one family was saved, Noah’s family. In the fire that will one day destroy the world, only one family will be saved, Christ’s family, His church (1Timothy 3:15).

    It is most important to understand that all those saved in Noah’s day were in the Ark. Likewise, all those who shall be saved in the final destruction of this earth (2Peter 3:10), will be in the Lord’s church.

    God told Noah that if he wanted to be saved, he would have to get into the Ark and stay there.  Likewise, we have to get into the Lord’s church and stay there. The only way to get into the Lord’s church is for God to add you to it (Acts 2:47). He will do that when you hear His word, believe it, and obey it (Acts 2:38-41).

The times we live in

 
IN THEIR BOOK, “WHY ME?”, Pesach Krauss and Morrie Goldfisher tell a story about two men who cut down an aged hardwood… 
 
The woodcutter’s observations about the inner rings within the old tree are compelling:
 
“…I sometimes tell patients the parable about the two wood choppers who had taken down a tree that was over one hundred years old.  Looking at the growth rings to determine the tree’s age, the younger man noticed that there were five very narrow rings.  He concluded that there had been a five-year-drought, during which the tree had shown very little growth.  However, the other lumberman, a wise, old man with a philosophical bent, had a different viewpoint.  He contended that the dry years actually were the most significant in the tree’s history.  His reason: Because of the drought, the tree had to force its roots down further to get the water and the minerals it needed.  With a strengthened root system, it was able to grow faster and taller when conditions improved”/1
 
Observations:
 
1.  All of us inevitably experience “dry years” at some juncture in our lives“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  Like the apostle Paul, we can identify with those occasional periods of trouble and burden; they are an inescapable part of the human condition (cf. Job 14:1; 2 Corinthians 12:7).
 
2.  “Dry years” tend to be intense, but limited in duration“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17; cf. Romans 8:18).  In a manner of speaking, a part of what I hear Peter and Paul saying is that while a five-year drought is harsh and difficult to tolerate, it eventually comes to an end.  (Mike Benson)
 
1/ Pesach Krauss and Morrie Goldfisher, “A Time of Trouble Is a Time To Grow,” WHY ME? — Coping with Grief, Loss, and Change, 71.
 
“Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:23-28).

"A Really Good Scare"

Halloween survey – take a moment to vote in the Halloween poll:

  [polldaddy poll=2186859]

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Halloween seems to be getting more ghoulish?  The holiday now ranks as the second most lucrative in terms of retail sales, and is commonly ranked as the second favorite day of the year (trailing only Christmas and well ahead of Thanksgiving).  Displays of costumes, decorations and candy can be seen in stores weeks ahead of the October 31 date.  In the city where I live there is an entire store that opens only for the weeks ahead of the date.

I’m not bothered by the fascination with dress-up and collection of candy that is so typically Halloween.  But I am disturbed by the increasing focus on death and gore.  Films play in theaters which are absolutely graphic.  (I base this on movie trailers and reviews since I don’t personally view such movies.)  Haunted houses are much more than ghosts jumping out to shout “Boo!”  Deranged killers bearing chain saws and bloody axes are staples of these live (?) experiences.

What are we to conclude?  That people just enjoy a really good scare now and then?  Glenn Sparks, professor of communication at Purdue University, admits that there are many who fall into that category.  But many don’t.  He offered this advice in a 2006 interview: “Take
your apprehension seriously. Some people may have not been able to cope well with previous scares. Being spooked can result in unwanted
and obtrusive images that can leave someone shaken and can even disrupt important activities such as getting a good night’s sleep.”
(http://www.newswise.com)

Powerful thoughts can be implanted into impressionable minds during Halloween events.  Are these the kinds of thoughts we ought to
entertain?  Paul wrote about the importance of placing our minds under the Lordship of Jesus Christ: “For the weapons of our warfare are not
carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).  Aggressive action is what Paul describes, seeking to drive out evil thoughts and to replace them with godly ideas.

How did Paul arrive at the notion that some thoughts ought to be conquered?  Likely he learned it from Jesus.  Hear what the Savior said about our thoughts in Luke 11:34,35: “The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.”

Does it not sound to  you as if Jesus is urging us to be careful about  the things we allow into our minds?  Will scenes of carnage and mayhem, staples of Halloween films, have an effect on the way we think?

As children we often sang this truth: “O be careful little eyes what you see.”  Turns out this is needed advice for adults, too.  Hear it once more, this time from David, a man after God’s own heart: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me” (Psalm 101:3).  No, if we don’t allow our eyes to gaze upon disturbing scenes, they will not cling to us.

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

Timothy D. Hall

OUR VALUE SYSTEM

At Niagara Falls is a spot where a young lady lost her life in folly.  The scene was breathless, and she wanted a souvenir.  She leaned over the brink above the falls to pick a beautiful flower.  The earth beneath her feet did not support her, and screaming she fell hundreds of feet down onto a rock.  She exchanged her life for a little flower (cf. Matt. 16:26). 

Two little boys came upon a rain-swollen river.  They saw a rabbit stranded on a tree limb being pummeled by the rushing waters.  One of the boys decided to try and rescue the frightened creature, despite the pleading counsel of his friend.  With great difficulty, the boy exhausted himself getting to the animal.  He placed it carefully inside his jacket and attempted to return to the bank of the river.  The current proved too strong for the tired little boy, and he perished.  When rescuers arrived on the scene and retrieved the boy from the water, they found the rabbit inside his jacket.  One of them held up the little creature and said, “He gave his life for this.”
I love flowers (ask Tony and Suanna Raburn) and rabbits.  Yet, they are not worth a human life.  In fact, Jesus says that one soul is worth more than all the material goods of the whole world!  The soul is so valuable that God came in the flesh to die on a cross to save it from sin and eternal punishment.  The value of human life to God is crystal clear.  Yet, as we go about our daily routines, making choices and decisions, are we reflecting that same level of appreciation for our own lives and destinies?  It may not be an object of nature that captures too much of our attention or affection.  It may be a habit, an addiction, bitterness, resentment, an unforgiving heart, a secret sin, an unholy relationship, a destructive friendship, or any number of things.  But, like that flower or that little rabbit, however precious or attractive or endearing it may seem, it is not worth the exchange of our life for it!  Let us maintain a proper value system that takes into account the value of our souls.
–Neal Pollard

BUY NOW is a key advertising slogan

     When was the last time you saw some type of commercial that was trying to sell you something? I saw several this morning, and I bet it has not been long for you either. It is funny to me how they always want us to “Act Now!” They use phrases like “Huge Investment Opportunity! Must Act Now!” “We will throw 2 of these in, but you must call now!” Have you ever wondered why they are always trying to get people to do it at that very moment? I found an interesting article listing “10 Ways to Get Customers to Buy Now” by April Duncan (Click Here to Read Article). Listen to the 10 ways they try to draw us in. I am sure you will recognize most of them:

1. Give a Deadline for Ordering.
2. Advise of a Price Increase.
3. Establish a Trial/Introductory Period.
4. Free gift.
5. “No Risk” Trial.
6. “Not Available in Stores.”
7. Offer an Upgrade
8. Free supplies/accessories.
9. Use Action Phrases (Call Now. Toll Free. 24 Hours a Day).
10. Avoid Passive Phrases (Call us when your ready to order).

     These are the types of tactics they use to get people to think and feel like they need to make a move immediately or they will miss out on one of the greatest opportunities of their life! But why do they want people to act immediately? It is because they do not want us to think out our decisions. They want us to do it right away without careful consideration about our finances, if we really need it, and if this is really a quality product.
     In a similar way as the commercials, Satan wants us to make hasty decisions and not carefully think about our situation or the consequences. It is interesting that there are many passages about being sensible (Titus 1:8; 2:2, 5-6; Proverbs 14:8, 15, 18; etc). One of the best ones is Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age…” Sensibility is about thinking things through and being rational about our decisions. If we do not think things through then we will be much more likely to fall into sin. The reason the Lord has told us to be sensible is so we will realize that righteousness is always the correct decision.
     Whether it is in regards to a silly commercial, our finances, sin, or anything else, let’s make sure we are thinking about the decisions we make. The choices we make today may very well influence ourselves, our family, our friends, and many other people down the road. Let’s be sensible and realize the best choice is always to obey the Lord.

— Brett Petrillo

THE SPIDER AND THE DEVIL

THE SPIDER AND THE DEVIL

I have to begin by telling you that I am not a big fan of spiders. I know they serve a purpose in our world, but I am happy if they choose to serve it somewhere other than where I am.

This past Sunday morning I began the presentation of my sermon as usual. I have a lapel microphone, so I normally move the larger boom microphone to the side and ignore it during my presentation of God’s word. As I was speaking I noticed some movement from the corner of my eye. Of course I was concentrating on my message, “The Gates of Hell,” but I kept noticing the movement. I finally focused on the movement for a split second and saw it was a spider, about one fourth of an inch in size. It was hanging from a single strand of its web and climbing up and down repeatedly.

I tried to block out that movement and concentrate on my message, but occasionally would “sneak a peek” at the spider, just to make sure where it was. It wasn’t bothering me, but it was a distraction.

Later on the way home I told my wife about the incident and her response surprised me. She said, “It wasn’t just a spider, it was Satan, he didn’t want your lesson preached”. I thought “WOW,” she just could be right.

Later I mentioned the incident to several of our members and no one else had noticed it. I checked the microphone that afternoon and there was no sign of the spider. Now I don’t doubt that there was a real spider even if I couldn’t find it later, but could the Devil use such a small thing to distract someone?

Yes, I believe he can and does. I know that he doesn’t have any real power in the world today other than deceit, deception and distraction. His power was broken when Christ rose from the grave. The devil has no power over us that we don’t let him have.

He also deceives and uses many people in the world through the use of people who seem religious and holy. The apostle Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 to describe how Satan works. “Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.” (NLT)

Counterfeit power, deception, distracting us from what is really important, that’s how the devil works. He is the ultimate conman, trying desperately to drag us down to his level of corruption by distracting us from the truth and that will bring about our spiritual death. That’s why Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5:8-9a, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” (NLT)

So, what is your distraction today, how is the devil working on you? Could it be through the computer screen you stare at so long, ungodly movies or television programs? What about the tabloid papers, magazines or books, maybe the songs you listen to or the friends you keep or the text messages that cross the line of purity. Or, maybe it’s simply a spider that distracts you while you are trying to share the message of God’s power and his love.

Whatever it takes, the Devil will use, so “stay alert, watch out for your great enemy, the devil.”

Russ Lawson  
Vote in my “spider survey”  – [polldaddy poll=2172793]

ICU

“ICU.”  Many instantly recognize those letters and know that they stand for “Intensive Care Unit.”  And many – if not most – have either spent time in ICU or have waited on friends and loved ones who need the specialized medical care found in this unit of the hospital.

Turn your attention for a moment to the waiting room where friends and family wait for news of the well-being of their loved one.  Consider the insights of Wes Seelinger in his experience in the ICU waiting room:

“I have spent long hours in the intensive care waiting room … watching with anguished people … listening to urgent questions: ‘Will my husband make it?  Will my child walk again?  How do you live without your companion of thirty years?’

“The intensive care waiting room is different from any other place in the world …  and the people who wait are different. They can’t do enough for each other.  No one is rude.  The distinctions of race and class melt away.  A person is a father first, a black or white man second.  The garbage man loves his wife as much as the university professor loves his.  Everyone knows that loving someone else is what life is all about.”

This is the truth, whether or not you are in the ICU waiting room!  Jesus was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?” He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34-39).  Life is all about loving God and loving others; that’s the way God designed it.

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).  God loves us so much that He wants to save us and add us to His eternal family to live with Him forever in heaven.  

His eternal family is the church – God’s ICU, HIS Intensive Care Unit!

You can be saved from your sins and added to God’s family (Acts 2:41,47) 
by believing in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from your sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

God provides special care in His ICU, the church.  Won’t YOU submit to Him and become a part of His eternal family today?

David A. Sargent, Minister

Bible study survey

How often and how long do you study the Bible?  Participate in this survey to form a survey on how often and how long people usually study the Bible.

[polldaddy poll=2169510]

[polldaddy poll=2169515]

Five weeks of freedom – Tom Wacaster

I have commented in previous articles that I hesitate to be drawn into a battle of political issues in my weekly “Tom’s Pen.” I tempered that comment with the observation that when our liberties are affected to such an extent that it threatens our service to God, then I feel compelled to take my concern to those with whom I am acquainted. This week’s “Tom’s Pen” is, admittedly, political in nature; but the consequences of the issue here addressed reaches far beyond the political – even into the lives of each and every one of you who receive this weekly article. The last couple of days I have received considerable email concerning an upcoming treaty that our President seems willing and anxious to sign. One website had this note (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/16/obama-poised-to-cede-us-sovereignty-in-copenhagen-claims-british-lord-monckton/):

“The Minnesota Free Market Institute hosted an event at Bethel Uiversity in St. Paul on Wednesday evening, October 14th. Keynote speaker Lord Christopher Monckton, former science adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, gave a scathing and lengthy presentation, complete with detailed charts, graphs, facts, and figures which culminated in the utter decimation of both the pop culture concept of global warming and the credible threat of any significant anthropomorphic climate change.

“While it is virtually impossible to provide our readers with a full summary of Monckton’s presentation, we have selected a portion that deserves immediate attention by every concerned citizen of this country. The concern Monckton speaks to may well prove the single most important issue facing the American nation, bigger than health care, bigger than cap and trade, and worth every citizen’s focused attention. Here are Monckton’s closing remarks of his speech last week:

At [the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in] Copenhagen, this December, weeks away, a treaty will be signed. Your president will sign it. Most of the third world countries will sign it, because they think they’re going to get money out of it. Most of the left-wing regime from the European Union will rubber stamp it. Virtually nobody won’t sign it.

I read that treaty. And what it says is this: That a world government is going to be created. The word ‘government’ actually appears as the first of three purposes of the new entity. The second purpose is the transfer of wealth from the countries of the West to third world countries, in satisfaction of what is called, coyly, ‘climate debt’ – because we’ve been burning CO2 and they haven’t. We’ve been screwing up the climate and they haven’t. And the third purpose of this new entity, this government, is enforcement.

How many of you think that the word ‘election’ or ‘democracy’ or ‘vote’ or ‘ballot’ occurs anywhere in the 200 pages of that treaty? Quite right, it doesn’t appear once. So, at last, the communists who piled out of the Berlin Wall and into the environmental movement, who took over Greenpeace so that my friends who funded it left within a year, because [the communists] captured it – Now the apotheosis as at hand. They are about to impose a communist world government on the world. You have a president who has very strong sympathies with that point of view. He’s going to sign it. He’ll sign anything. He’s a Nobel Peace Prize [winner]; of course he’ll sign it.

And the trouble is this; if that treaty is signed, it takes precedence over your Constitution (sic), and you can’t resign from that treaty unless you get agreement from all the other state parties – And because you’ll be the biggest paying country, they’re not going to let you out of it.

So, thank you, America. You were the beacon of freedom to the world. It is a privilege merely to stand on this soil of freedom while it is still free. But, in the next few weeks, unless you stop it, your president will sign your freedom, your democracy, and your humanity away forever. And neither you nor any subsequent government you may elect will have any power whatsoever to take it back. That is how serious it is. I’ve read the treaty. I’ve seen this stuff about [world] government and climate debt and enforcement. They are going to do this to you whether you like it or not.

But I think it is here, here in your great nation, which I so love and I so admire – it is here that perhaps, at this eleventh hour, at the fifty-ninth minute and fifty-ninth second, you will rise up and you will stop your president from signing that dreadful treaty, that purposeless treaty. For there is no problem with climate and, even if there were, an economic treaty does nothing to [help] it.

So I end by saying to you the words that Winston Churchill addressed to your president in the darkest hour before the dawn of freedom in the Second World War. He quoted from your great poet Longfellow:

Sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!”

I will temper Monckton’s remarks with the fact that 2/3 of our Senate would have to sign on to that treaty. Some may think such is not likely but with the likes of Obama, Polosi, and Reed at the helm of this country, we dare not underestimate their intention to do all within their power to drum up the votes, or simply ignore the political process and ram-rod this through as they have determined to do with the health bill.

In the closing months of last year I wrote an article entitled, “Has The Time Come For Judgment Upon America.” It may very well be that this treaty will be the catalyst, perhaps even the final block that will forever render our Constitution null and void. Yes, dear reader, we may very well have left only five weeks of Freedom!

A study of First Corinthians

 1)      Most call 1 Cor. the “love” chapter and Paul certainly does say much about love.

2)      In fact, he uses several verbs in this chapter to describe how love acts.

3)      Our study beings with verse 4 – READ

a)      A person with true love “sufferes long.”  This means someone is patient.

b)      Suffering long means someone is patient in the midst of trying circumstances.

c)      Rather than have a short temper, people with love have a “long temper.”

4)      Next in the description of love is the word “kind.”

5)      How many children want a “kind” mother and father?  All children want kind parents?
How many men want a “kind” wife and how many women want a “kind” man?

a)      Kind has been described as “being sweet to all.”

b)      In Prov. 31 there is a reference to the “law of kindness” being part of a “worthy woman’s tongue.”

c)      Suffering long and “being kind” will lay a good and solid foundation for any home.

6)      Next on our list we see the word “envy” in the middle of verse 4.

i)        This term describes a very strong emotion.

ii)      Sometimes it is positive and sometimes it is negative.

iii)    If we “envy” other families, we are not going to have happy and good homes.

iv)    If we envy the physical home someone else has, we will not be satisfied with our house.

b)      Towards the end of verse 4 we find the word “vauneth.”

c)      In Classical Greek a related word meant “a talker; an exaggerator.”

d)     There are people who boast, brag and criticize others with aggressive speech.

i)        Bragging in one’s family does not strengthen the bonds of marriage.

ii)      Prov. 27:2 says, “Let others praise you.”  This is good advice for the family.

e)      Husbands do not like boasting wives and wives do not like bragging husbands.

f)       Lastly in verse 4 we read about being “puffed up.”

i)        Some think they are always right and others are always wrong.

ii)      This can happen in families.

iii)    Children might think they ways and ideas are always right—their parents know nothing.

iv)    A husband thinks his way is always right, or a wife thinks her way is always right.

v)      Families where everyone thinks they are always right are headed for trouble.

g)      Let’s now turn our attention to verse 5 – READ

i)        Love keeps people away from “unseemly” activity.

ii)      Unseemly can be defined as disgraceful and indecent behavior.

iii)    Children can disgrace their parents.  Next in the list of love is “seeking its own.”

iv)    This, like many of the other qualities, is a present tense verb.

h)       Some people are always seeking their own best interest.  Next in verse 5 Paul said, true love is “not provoked.”

i)        Sources that define words say this means “to become angry.”

ii)      Paul meant love keeps people from flying into a rage; people are not carried away into anger.

i)        The 5th verse ends by saying love “Does not take account of evil.”

i)        “Account” or “think” was an accounting term; it described debts entered on a ledger.

ii)      Personal history can be used as a weapon.

iii)                God says this is not love and this is not going to make for a strong family.

iv)    Verse 6– READ   First, love does “not rejoice in unrighteousness.”

v)      Unrighteousness means “wickedness, injustice.”  It is the complete opposite of righteousness.

j)        If we have true love and want a strong family, we “rejoice with the truth.”

k)      This means a person has integrity of character; he lives a life in harmony with the truth.

l)        A person will be the type of husband, wife, or child God wants and describes in His word.

i)        Verse 7– READ  Love “bears” all things.

ii)      Love causes men people to bear with situations that are undesirable and unpleasant.

m)    Love also “believes” all things (love makes us believe the best about people and situations).

n)   Finally, family has hope.  Families and all others need hope. 

If you truly love God, you will obey Him (Jn. 14:15; 15:14).

New Pledge of Allegiance

[polldaddy poll=2154119]

The following poem is said to have been written by a 15 year old student from Arizona; it has been around for a while (at least since 2002), but maybe it bears circulation again:

 
Now I sit me down in school  
Where praying is against the rule  
For this great nation under God  
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If Scripture now the class recites,  
It violates the Bill of Rights .  
And anytime my head I bow  
Becomes a Federal matter now..
 

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,  
That’s no offense; it’s a freedom scene.  
The law is specific, the law is precise.  
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.  
 

For praying in a public hall  
Might offend someone with no faith at all.  
In silence alone we must meditate,  
God’s name is prohibited by the state.
 

We’re allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,  
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks..  
They’ve outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.  
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,  
And the ‘unwed daddy,’ our Senior King.  
It’s ‘inappropriate’ to teach right from wrong,  
We’re taught that such ‘judgments’ do not belong.

We can get our condoms and birth controls,  
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem pole s .  
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,  
No word of God must reach this crowd.  
 

It’s scary here I must confess,  
When chaos reigns the school’s a mess.  
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:  
Should I be shot; My soul please take!  
Amen

A thief with scruples

DENNIS LEE CURTIS was arrested in 1992 in Rapid City, South Dakota for armed robbery….
 
Curtis apparently had scruples about his thievery.  In his wallet the police found a sheet of paper on which was written the following code, a sort of a robber’s rules:

1. I will not kill anyone unless I have to.

2. I will take cash and food stamps-no checks.

3. I will rob only at night.

4. I will not wear a mask.

5. I will not rob mini-marts or 7-Eleven stores.

6. If I get chased by cops on foot, I will get away. If chased by a vehicle, I will not put the lives of innocent civilians on the line.

7. I will rob only seven months out of the year.

8. I will enjoy robbing from the rich to give to the poor.

This thief had a sense of morality, but it was flawed.  When he stood before the court, he was not judged by the standards he had set for himself but by the higher law of the state.  Likewise when we stand before God, we will not be judged by the code of morality we have written for ourselves but by God’s perfect law. (Brian Burrell)

The Lord's Supper

A PORTRAIT IN oils by a great artist may be viewed in different lights…
 
To the utterly inartistic eye, it may be esteemed or valued according to the cost of the frame, the paint, and the canvas.  A farmer once exclaimed, when told of the value of a certain picture: “Why, I could paint all the fences and buildings on my farm at one-tenth of the amount.”  But the artistic eye sees in the picture beauties that fill his soul with rapturous delight.
 
THOUGHT: So, to the unspiritual, the Lord’s Supper is mere bread and fruit of the vine, and so little of it that it is worthless.  But the spiritual eye sees the portrait of Jesus, not only the bodily form, dying on the cross; but the loving heart of the redeemer is laid bare to view as it is nowhere else.  (J. C. Ferdinand Pittman)
 
“For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:29).
[polldaddy poll=2152698]

Are you motivated by love?

[polldaddy poll=2147086]

The story is told of a woman who lived with a perfectionist husband who always criticized her.  She never kept the house clean enough nor did she dress up to his unrealistic expectations.  He even gave her a list of rules to be obeyed if she was to keep him happy.  When she failed in any area, he quickly responded with verbal abuse.  Eventually, he died and as time went by she fell in love with another man who was kind and loving.  Her heart’s desire was to please him in any way she could.  His patience and encouragement restored her self esteem and enriched her life. 

One day while going through some old papers, she came across the list of duties from her first husband.  To her amazement she was now choosing to do, out of love, the very things her former husband had demanded her to perform as a part of duty.  The rules had produced resentment on her part toward her former husband; the love she had for her present husband brought joyful submission.  In both cases the same duties were performed; but the motivation in each case was quite different.   Is your service to God motivated by Law or Love?

How highly do you value the church?

[polldaddy poll=2143945] 

    No doubt you have heard preachers close their sermons with something like, “Come to the altar and be saved. You don’t need to be a member of any church to be saved. Being a part of a church has nothing to do with being saved!”
    That’s a frightening statement to make, because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the Savior of His Body, and His Body is His Church! (Eph. 5:23 – Col. 1:18).
CONSIDER:
    1.    Acts 20:28 tells us that the Lord’s church was purchased with His BLOOD. Can something that was purchased with the Blood of Christ actually be unimportant?
    2.    In Acts 2:47, we are told that all the saved were added to the church (KJV). Should people believe preachers that are saying that the institution to which all the saved belong has nothing to do with salvation?
    3.    Christ gave Himself for His church (Eph. 5:25). What kind of spiritual insanity would teach people that the church for which Christ “gave Himself” is unnecessary?
    4.    Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). Why would Jesus build something unimportant?
    5.    Should something that was the specific subject of thousands of years of prophecy be considered “unimportant?”
 
    Why is the church important? Why did Jesus build His church? There are two main reasons, but first and foremost is for the FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS.  People are by nature social beings. They want to be a part of a group. Even God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18). Man was not created to live alone, he was created to live in fellowship, and the church partially fulfills this need.
    The NT speaks much concerning the fellowship of believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the FELLOWSHIP, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:32).  “If we walk in the light…we have FELLOWSHIP with one another…” (1Jn 1:7).
    This Christian fellowship is vital for our spiritual lives. Part of this fellowship involves encouraging one another to live right before God. “Exhort one another every day…that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13).  How many times do we feel like throwing up our hands and quitting? How many times do we think “I just can’t live like God expects me to live anymore?”  Encouragement through fellowship can help to alleviate this attitude. Paul writes, “Brethren, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…” (Gal. 6:1-2). It’s sad, but it seems when we need help “spiritually” the last place we go is to our brethren! Yet this is one of the reasons for the establishment of the church.
    The church must be a place of love. “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God…” (1Jn 4:7).  This world is a cold place, and the church must be a place where people can “escape the cold.” The church must be a place where people are loved, where one’s concerns and fears can be expressed, and where one doesn’t have to pretend to be something he isn’t.
    This type of fellowship will attract unbelievers. So many in this world care only for themselves; they will trample upon anyone who gets in their way. But Christians are to look at one another differently. They are to put the needs of others in front of themselves, and for many in this world, that would be a welcome change. Where are we going to turn when difficult times come? If we cannot turn to those whom we know genuinely love us and are concerned about us, where do we go?
    The church serves a valuable service to its members – – the FELLOWSHIP of believers. If you view the church simply as a “necessary inconvience” then it’s apparent that you do not understand what the Lord’s church is, and that is reason for concern. You can provide a valuable service to the church simply by fellowshipping with your brethren, both in and out of the assembly. The church IS important!

–Toby Miller

Cast-off Items

[polldaddy poll=2142343]

John Bowes, chairman of the parent company of Wham-O, the maker of Frisbees, once participated in a charity effort. He sent thousands of the plastic flying discs to an orphanage in Angola, Africa. He thought the children there would enjoy playing with them.

Several months later, a representative of Bowes’ company visited the orphanage. One of the nuns thanked him for the wonderful “plates” that his company had sent them. She told him the children were eating off the Frisbees, carrying water with them, and even catching fish with them. When the representative explained how the Frisbees were intended to be used,
the nun was even more delighted that the children would also be able to enjoy them as toys.

On one level, that story is rather amusing. On another, it is very sad. There are people who would prize even our cast-off items, who would be grateful to eat what we throw away.

–Adapted from Gary B. Swanson, Frisbees and Guerillas

Bible reading poll

[polldaddy poll=2139757]

Survey on church attendance

Needy African children

A Cup of Rice
  by Mike Benson

You’re lazily flipping through the channels on your new
flat screen TV. Despite the vast array of viewing
options, there’s nothing worth watching, at least for
the moment. Your thumb stops on a random station. It’s
a half-hour long commercial for “Feed the Children.”

The broadcast depicts a hungry African child. His arms
and legs exhibit no muscle at all. He’s a veritable
skeleton with dark brown skin stretched over the bones.
Green bottle flies encircle his eyes and ears. His
belly is unnaturally distended and swollen. He’s weak,
pale, sickly, and frail. He’s had one “meal” in the
past seven days. A small cup of rice.

A phone number flashes at the bottom of the television.
You’re being asked to donate. Just the change out of
your pocket. For the price of a cheap cup of coffee you
could support this poor, starving child. You could put
food in his growling belly. Your heart and emotions are
aroused by this under-nourished youth. “How in the
world does he make it?” you ask yourself. “He can’t
live on one meal a week.” Determined to help, you pick
up the phone and punch in the 800 number.

Stay with me for just a moment.

We all recognize that to be healthy, we must maintain a
steady, balanced diet. We can’t skip meals for days on
end. We certainly can’t live off of a single meal once
a week.

And yet, isn’t that exactly what we’re doing when our
only source of spiritual nourishment comes from the
Sunday morning sermon?

When we habitually skip Sunday morning Bible class,
aren’t we saying that we can be healthy and strong by
eating just one meal a week?

When we miss the Sunday evening and Wednesday night
assemblies at church, and the only time we take in
real, biblical sustenance is the 11 o’clock Lord’s Day
message, aren’t we saying — at least by our actions —
that a child of God only has to eat one meal every
seven days?

When we fail to open our Bibles at home and pour
through the sacred Word each day, but then manage to
“squeak in” at the last minute for that one hour
worship assembly on the first day of the week, aren’t
we communicating that a Christian requires little food
for the soul?

A small cup of rice, indeed. What we acknowledge in the
physical realm, we tend to forget in the spiritual.
Some of us are starving ourselves to death (Hosea 4:6)
and we don’t even realize it!

When we go to the New Testament book of Acts, we find a
group of folks who understood the correlation between
regular Scripture “meals” and a strong, maturing faith.
The text says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble
character than the Thessalonians, for they received the
message with great eagerness and examined the
Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”
(Acts 17:11 NIV).

Did you catch that? The Bereans were more nobly
disposed than the Thessalonians because (1) they
received the spoken Word with great eagerness (A. T.
Robertson says “eagerness” carries the idea of rushing
forward/1), and because (2) they “examined the
Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was
true.”

Watch it! The Berean Jews were commended because they
personally investigated the Old Testament prophecies to
which Paul appealed on a DAILY basis. You might say the
Thessalonians had a cup of rice once a week, while the
Bereans ate “three squares” a day.

Dear Christian, if the Word is food (Matthew 4:4; cf.
Psalm 19:9,10; Jeremiah 15:16; John 6:26,63), and it
is, shouldn’t we “pull up to the table” and fill our
plates every day? If we can make time for television,
sports, shopping at the mall, going to the movies and a
myriad of other fleshly pursuits, we certainly can make
time to read and study God’s Word.

When would be the best time for you to delve into your
Bible? At the breakfast table? During break at work?
Before you go to bed after the kids are asleep? Pick a
time that’s best for you and then enjoy the meal!
_______
1/ Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 274.

The host of heaven cannot be numbered!

It is estimated by current astronomers that there are about Ten Billion galaxies within range of the powerful 200-inch telescope. Consider the fact that Einstein figured total space to be at least 100,000 times greater than observable space, and our most recent and best guesses bring the total up to at least 100 Septillion stars in the universe!! If you have trouble visualizing that figure (like me), here is what it looks like written out… 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s a one with 26 zeros behind it!) When God used the hand of Jeremiah to write, “the host of heaven cannot be numbered,” he really meant it!!! To count the stars would be like trying to count every single grain of sand on all the shores of the earth (Genesis 22:17). If everyone in the world were to unite in an effort to count the stars, each person would count more than 50 Billion of them without the same star being counted twice! Is it not amazing that the God who made them all knows each one by name (Psalm 147:4)? Is it not even more impressive that he cares for you and me more than these (Matthew 6:25-34)?

 —  Ryan Roark