Archives for : November2010

Garmin lifetime map discount code

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If you have a Garmin GPS you are probably considering the “lifetime maps” option.  If you have found this page you have probably already checked out some of the alleged “discount codes” for Garmin’s lifetime map updates and been disappointed.

On “cyber Monday” I got the Garmin lifetime maps for all my Garmin GPS units for $69.99 each.  No waiting for some “scratch off card,” no questions about whether a merchant would send out what was advertised…these were “hassle free” lifetime map updates at the cheapest price on the net.

I found this deal by logging into my Garmin account and selecting the number of lifetime map updates I wanted.  When I went to the “checkout” part of Garmin’s web site, each map was automatically reduced to $69.99.

If you are looking for the “best deal” on “Garmin lifetime map updates,” see if the Garmin site still has this same promotion.

Tragedy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Chann Lork, our missionary in Cambodia, first alerted me to the tragedy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that occurred just a few days before Thanksgiving.  It was a national holiday, the three-day water festival, and Chann says it was like the day of Pentecost when the crowd came together in amazement and started spreading rumors at the commotion of the apostles speaking in tongues.  What happened at the festival has been described as “mass panic.”  Officials investigating the tragedy “found that the natural swaying of a suspension bridge ignited fears it would collapse among an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people on the structure. In frantic efforts to escape, the crowd pressed and heaved, crushing hundreds of people and leading some to dive off the span into the water” (AP, 11/29/10).  Apparently, people began voicing fears that the bridge was going to collapse under the weight of the revelers, and as word spread the rumors escalated.  In the end, 351 died and 395 more were injured (ibid.).  The bridge never collapsed.

Observers of human behavior know how all-too-common this sort of thing is.  There was an old Andy Griffith episode about rumors and gossip, where gossipers transform Barney’s cut finger into him shooting himself dead in less than three hours.  I have seen the same thing in church life, where hearsay and “talebearing” allows a sickness or situation to grow much larger than life.  While these, like old Barn’s situation, can be more humorous than dangerous, there are other times where not getting the story right can be fatal.

Many people build their entire worldview around claims, assertions, and beliefs that are entirely untrue.  Sometimes, that worldview breeds fear and trembling.  I have known people who are certain their dead ancestors were going to pay them a visit, and that prospect was terribly unnerving to them.  People who believe they have seen ghosts and apparitions get obsessed with them and can become irrational.  Others who believe that demon possession happens today, that buy into a premillennial view of the end times with the apocalypse and period of tribulation concepts, that hear doomsday predictors boldly claim the world will end on a specific, imminent date, and the like live in and sometimes spread fear. 

It is a fearful thing to consider going to the Judgment without the blood of Christ covering our sins (cf. 2 Th. 1:7-9; Mt. 25:31-34; Heb. 10:31).  Too many fail to be frightened at the consequences of their continued disobedience.  Yet, others are needlessly frightened or frightened about the wrong things.  They worry about things over which they have no control.  They fail to put their trust in God and His word, and so they are ripe for futile fears.  We rightly consider the tragedy in Cambodia to have been needless and costly, but so is holding on to any belief that is without biblical foundation.  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).

Neal Pollard

Calvary, Not Bethlehem

It happened almost 2,000 years ago; but the residual effect is still with us today.  Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are reminded of that moment in history when the sins of mankind were laid upon the back of our Savior and the Son of God bled and suffered on Calvary that you and I might live.   But for some reason men have a desire to celebrate the birth of Christ rather than His death.  We decorate our houses with glittering lights, wrap our presents in pretty paper, and sing holiday songs for approximately 28 days, and then go on our merry way wishing each other a Happy New Year until the next “black Friday” when the latest gadgets and electronic marvels hit the shelves of Best Buy and Walmart.   While the birth of Jesus is most certainly a significant historical event, it was not God’s wish that we celebrate the birth of Jesus once a year, but that we remember His death once a week.  Every time we break the bread and drink the cup we are reminded of Calvary!  The late Johnny Ramsey so eloquently captured the idea:

 On a hill far away that old rugged Cross beckons lost mankind to a nobler pursuit of life. Out of the depths of despair and ruin untold comes a clarion call from heaven that provides salvation for wayfaring men estranged from God to come back home to the Father who runs to meet the prodigals once enveloped in the pig-pen of iniquity.  The compelling love of the One who died for all (2 Cor. 5:14) draws us to a richer, fuller and purpose filled life that responds to the suffering Savior in obedience, gratitude and loyalty (The Words of Truth, April 25, 1997).

 The real impact of Christianity is not found in a manger one cold December morning.  In fact, evidence suggests that our Lord was born in the early to mid Spring rather than the dead of winter.   The heralding angels, the shepherds, and the wise men all played a part in ushering the Lord and Savior into this world.    We cannot, yea would not diminish the importance of that moment when Mary gave birth to the incarnate Son of God.  Without His birth there would have been no life; and without His sinless life there would have been no value in His death beyond that of ordinary mortal men.  However, it was not His birth, but His death that provides hope. It was His death that unleashed the power of heaven to save men from their sins.  It was Calvary, not Bethlehem, to which the eyes of lost humanity must turn for hope.   It was Calvary, not Bethlehem where the price was paid for the sins of humanity.  It was Calvary, not Bethlehem, where God’s law was fulfilled, divine wrath was satisfied, and the fountain of life was opened and from whence has poured forth the cleansing blood of our Lord for almost 20 centuries.   Yes, all this happened at Calvary, not Bethlehem!

by Tom Wacaster

Tobacco and a chimpanzee

As a little child, I remember learning and loving a song we would sing at Vacation Bible School time and sometimes during the weekly Bible class time.  You may know the song: 

Don’t drink booze, don’t drink booze,
Spend your money on a pair of shoes.
Please don’t smoke, please don’t smoke,
Feed your tobacco to a billy goat.
Please don’t curse, please don’t curse,
I can’t think of anything that’s worse.
Be polite, be polite,
Always treat other people right.
Worship God, worship God,
Don’t go Sunday with a fishing rod. 

Even as a tyke, I knew I was being indoctrinated about the perils of using alcohol, tobacco, and curse words as well as the need for courtesy and faithful attendance.  It so happens that I could see the logic in the lesson it taught. 

The Associated Press reports that Omega, a 12-year-old chimp, has developed a nicotine addiction from his cage at a Lebanese zoo. Omega has not had an ordinary life, even for a chimpanzee in captivity.  He began life as an entertainer in a local restaurant (you can’t make this stuff up!), where he smoked cigarettes until he was too big and strong for that gig.  The last 10 years have been spent at the zoo, where he waited for those moments when a visitor would toss him a cigarette inside his cage.  Animal rights activists are rescuing him, putting him on an Emirates airline flight, and relocating him to a sanctuary in Brazil where it is presumed they will try to rehabilitate him and break his smoking habit.

Omega cannot be held responsible for an unhealthy choice he cannot possibly weigh and rationalize.  Tobacco is an addictive substance, providing a short-term pleasure and creating a dependency that increases with continued use.  He is not made in God’s image (cf. Gen. 1:27), and he has no heaven to gain or hell to lose (cf. Matt. 25:31ff; 2 Cor. 5:10).  We, on the other hand, have been given stewardship over time, money, talents, and other resources, including our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  There are a myriad of choices we make that can harm those bodies, from overeating to drug abuse to tobacco use.  We do not want to make deliberate choices that wear down or weaken those bodies in which we are to be found wholeheartedly serving the Lord.  The list of poor health conditions related to the effects of long-term, regular smoking is very long. 

Beyond that, we should not want to be enslaved to anything or anyone other than our Lord and righteousness.  How sad to see a chimp reduced to taking a drag from a used cigarette.  Sadder still is to see people made in the image of God reduced to nervous, distressed, agitated messes for want of another smoke.  Let us work not to let cigarettes or any other earthly thing make a monkey out of us!

Neal Pollard

Accused of strangulation

Tonight I met up with someone who has been accused of strangling another person. 

As this alleged strangler told me his story I could not help but contemplate his behavior and appearance.  He was not using curse words; his body was not riddled with tattoos and there were none of the “tough guy” signs I would expect to find on an accused strangler.  In fact, everything about this young man made him look like a model citizen.  Why would the police send out three officers to arrest someone who had such a clean-cut appearance and such a pleasant demeanor?

After finishing his story the accused strangler told me he was innocent.  He said the person who called 911 and claimed he had strangled her was a liar with a vendetta. 

I do not know whether this accused strangler is being railroaded or not, but God knows.  According to 1 Cor. 4:5, the Lord will one day return and He “will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.”

Maybe some who read these words have some “secret sins.”  If so, God knows what these things are and these things will be exposed at the end of time.  It is better to deal with “secret things” now than to have them exposed at the Lord’s return.

The beauty of a scar

The following story by Lih Yuh Kuo appears in “Chicken Soup For the Soul”:
 
     A little boy invited his mother to attend his elementary school’s first teacher-parent conference.  To the little boy’s dismay, she said she would go.  This would be the first time that his classmates and teacher met his mother and he was embarrassed by her appearance.  Although she was a beautiful woman, there was a severe scar that covered nearly the entire right side of her face.  The boy never wanted to talk about why or how she got the scar.
 
     At the conference, the people were impressed by the kindness and natural beauty of his mother despite the scar, but the little boy was still embarrassed and hid himself from everyone.  He did, however, get within earshot of a conversation between his mother and his teacher, and heard them speaking.
 
     “How did you get the scar on your face?” the teacher asked.
 
     The mother replied, “When my son was a baby, he was in a room that caught on fire.  Everyone was too afraid to go in because the fire was out of control, so I went in.  As I was running toward his crib, I saw a beam coming down and I placed myself over him trying to shield him.  I was knocked unconscious but fortunately, a fireman came in and saved both of us.”  She touched the burned side of her face.  “This scar will be permanent, but to this day, I have never regretted doing what I did.”
 
     At this point, the little boy came out running towards his mother with tears in his eyes.  He hugged her and felt an overwhelming sense of the sacrifice that his mother had made for him.  He held her hand tightly for the rest of the day.
 
     In a similar manner, Jesus Christ bears a scar — many scars, in fact.  There are those who find that somewhat embarrassing (“You mean to tell me you worship a man who was crucified?”).  However, realizing that his ugly scars are the result of his efforts to save me, they suddenly take on a special beauty.
 
     Those scars led Thomas to say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).  They lead me to say the same thing.  I’m so thankful that something so ugly and horrible has taken on such beauty, because of the great love that Jesus Christ had for me.
 
     “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5).

Alan Smith

Church of Christ preaching jobs

One of the preachers in my local area is looking to relocate and asked if I would help him look on the web and find sites that help preachers find congregations looking for ministers.  I ended up creating a free online ministry jobs forum for preachers looking for new congregations to work with, congregations of the churches of Christ looking for new ministers, and missionaries within the churches of Christ seeking support.  A more general forum for “church of Christ jobs” is also available for use.

I also found and forwarded the following “church of Christ preaching job” web sites to the brother in my local area.  If anyone else knows of sites that might be useful, please e-mail me or post the information here.  Thank you.

The following links are provided as a courtesy.  Stated another way, the following links may contain information I do not agree with or support.  Each of us has an obligation to apply the principle given by Paul in 1 Thess. 5:21.

http://epreacher.org/jobs.html

Preaching jobs list from the Bear Valley School of Preaching

Churches searching for preachers (Brown Trail School of Preaching list)

churches of Christ seeking new ministers (Heritage University list)

Post your preacher’s resume for free (Heritage University)

The Jenkins institute (“the scoop blog”)

Ministry jobs for preachers (Harding University listings)

http://www.ovc.edu/bible/chlookpg.htm

http://www.thebible.net/preachers/pn.html

http://www.cocn.org/churches-looking.html

Oklahoma Christian University list of preaching jobs and churches searching for ministers

http://www.pepperdine.edu/churchrelations/resources/jobs/openings.htm

Sunset School of Preaching

David Lipscomb list for churches seeking ministers and ministers seeking new congregations

https://www.facebook.com/groups/466657760042906/

 

Are you the big church on the corner?

The first call of the morning involved a woman seeking free Christmas gifts for her family.  The gist of the conversation was something like this:

Caller:  “Are you the big church on the corner?”

My response:  “No, that is not us.”

Caller:  “Are you helping people for Christmas this year?”

My response:  “We are not involved in that type of work.”

Caller:  “Goodbye.”

This caller reminded me of Jn. 6:27:  “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.”

In my mind I thought  of how Jn. 6:27 could be applied to “Christmas gifts” and the verse would read something like this:  “Work not for the gifts which perisheth—temporary items like Christmas gifts, but for the gifts which abideth.”

We certainly do need to “work for food” (2 Thess. 3:10), but our primary emphasis needs to be on the spiritual part of life.  How sad that some work so hard to find free Christmas goodies but pay little to no attention to their eternal spirit.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com
 http://bumchecks.com/biblecommentary

ASV

I no longer believe in God

AT THE END of her first quarter at the university, Lenora came home and announced: “I am not going to church anymore…!”
 
Her parents were shocked.  “Lenora, what happened?” wailed Mom.  “You have all those awards for perfect attendance!  And you’ve always seemed glad to worship God.”
 
“I no longer believe in God; he is a myth,” she replied bluntly.  “Dr. Phillips has taught me the truth.”
 
“How did Dr. Phillips teach you that God is a myth?” asked her dad.
 
“It really wasn’t hard.  He pointed out that apples do not grow in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.”
 
“Well?”  Lenora’s father was inquisitive.
 
“Dad.”  Lenora was impatient.  “That being true, the first story in the Bible, the creation story, is a myth.  The Garden of Eden was in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, so Eve could not have eaten an apple as the Bible says.  And if that story is a myth, what not all the others?”
 
“Hold on a minute, Lenora.  Let’s answer three questions.  First, do we know the location of the Garden of Eden?  No.  Second, do we know the nature of the climate in the Garden?  No.  And third, what kind of fruit was forbidden?  The Bible does not say.  The myth here is the apple.  Did Dr. Phillips read the Scriptures?”
 
Lenora shrugged her shoulders and walked away.  To Lenora, her dad was a good, old-fashioned man.  Dr. Phillips was her authority.  Facts no longer mattered to her.  She had decided that all truth is relative, and what she had come to believe was right for her.  Nothing else mattered.  (Robert L. Waggoner)
 
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:13). 
— Mike Benson

A message from Darrel

Today I received an e-mail from “Darrel” entitled “concern.”  Darrel is troubled that our congregational web site does not teach “salvation by faith alone.” 

Darrel asked me to examine more than 30 Scriptures to prove his claim that salvation is by faith alone, but every verse he cited speaks of being saved “by faith” instead of salvation by “faith alone.”

My reply to Darrel included the following statement:  “If you could show me where ‘faith alone’ is used in the Bible to describe salvation, I would be grateful.”

So far Darrell has not written back.  Maybe he has not yet looked at his e-mail or maybe he is searching for just one passage that supports his belief that salvation is by “faith alone.” 

“Faith alone” is found just one time in the New Testament; the NIV uses this exact wording in Jas. 2:24 to say “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”

Many claim we ARE saved by “faith alone,” but God’s inspired spokesman says a person is NOT saved by faith alone.  Who will we believe—God or a man like Darrel? 

PS:  I received a follow-up note from Darrel, but he did not include a verse which says we are “saved by faith alone.” 

Remember:

Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).

We cannot be a child of God without repentance (Lk. 13:3).

We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Tim. 6:12; Acts 8:36-38).

Finally we must be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).

Have we done these things and are we living a faithful Christian life?

How to determine if something is righteous

 
Sometimes, we cannot see the harm in something simply because we have not bothered to actually look for it. Consider these guidelines when determining whether an action is right or wrong:

 The Personal Test: will doing this make me a better or worse Christian?
The Social Test: will doing it influence others to be better or worse Christians?
The Practical Test: will the results of my doing it be desirable?
The Universal Test: if everyone should do this, would it enhance or degrade society?
The Scriptural Test: does the Bible endorse it or is it forbidden — even implied as wrong — by the word of God?
The Stewardship Test: will my doing this constitute a waste of talent God gave me?
The Character Test: what will be the influence of my moral & spiritual stamina?
The Family Test: will it bring discredit & dishonor to my family, and will it embarrass them?
The Publicity Test: would I be willing for friends, fellow Christians, the elders, and the preacher to know about it?
The Common Sense Test: does it agree with plain, everyday, ordinary common sense?
The Fairness Test: is it honest, and it is practicing the “Golden Rule”?
The Problem Test: is it potentially harmful to me and / or others?

No matter what “it” may be, if “it’ fails even one of these tests, we ought to be wise enough to see the harm therein. On such a case, abstinence is the only policy.

Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, ESV

-Source unknown

Burn the Bible but NOT the Koran

DID YOU KNOW…with all the ruckus about one misguided minister threatening to burn Qur’ans on 9/11/10, the U.S. army didn’t hesitate to burn  Bibles in Afghanistan because they were upsetting to local Muslims?  See for yourself at this link:  http://bit.ly/9R4YVy.

So, let me see if I’ve got this right:  It is not ok to burn Qur’ans because that would be offensive to Muslims, but it is ok to burn bibles so as not to offend Muslims?  Yeah, I think I’ve got it right.
–Adopted from “Godthought”

Are you a lazy church member?

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In Acts 28, after Paul and his shipmates survived a shipwreck and landed on Malta, the stranded passengers found themselves cold and wet in a strange place. The natives, however, were friendly and built a fire for them all (Acts 28:2). It is interesting that Paul “gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire” (3). This was when Paul was bitten by an apparently deadly viper.

Somehow, in reading this part of Paul’s journey to Rome, I overlooked a fundamental fact that helped make Paul great. Paul did his part. When the others had built that fire, Paul was not content to let the others do it all. He did his share. Not only that, he did his share even at great, personal cost. He did his share, though he might have rationalized that he had already done so much and been through so much.

Paul noted their unusual kindness and were made to feel very welcome, and he showed his appreciation in a tangible way. You may be a busy, active servant of God. You may have done much in the past for the cause of Christ. Yet, think about how notable it is and inspiring to others, when you gather your own bundle of sticks to help the fire others have started. It may be noted and remembered long after you are gone.

Neal Pollard

Serving God on OUR terms

Have you spent much time thinking about what it means to give your life to God? As my lovely wife said the other day, “it makes your thinker, think,” if you think on it!” Much of the time it seems that folks are more than willing to accept God’s help when they need it, but still want to serve God on their terms! That seems a strange arrangement for people who are called to make a total commitment to the cause of Christ, (but it is one we often seem to want to make). We are happy to accept God’s help and to serve him; to be involved with His work, as long as it falls within what we are willing to do.

I read an interesting little story that speaks about someone’s unwillingness to go beyond what they wish to do. “The young woman sat in her stalled car, waiting for help. Finally two men walked up to her. “I’m out of gas (petrol),” she said with a big smile. “Could you push me to the fueling station?” The men ready to impress a pretty girl, put their muscles to work and began to push the car. After pushing the car for several blocks one of the men looked up, exhausted, to see that they had just passed a fueling station. “Why didn’t you didn’t turn in there?” he yelled. “Oh, I never go there,” the girl shouted back. “You have to pump the gas yourself at that station.”

So many people are fine with commitment, as long it is someone else’s commitment! They are willing for the car to be pushed to the station as long as they are in the driver’s seat, so to speak and even then, don’t require too much of them.

In Matthew 15 Jesus is talking to some folks who claimed to be the “religious cream of the crop,” the Pharisees and Scribes (teachers of the Old Testament law). In verses 7-8, Jesus tells them: “(You) Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me’.” (NKJV) Jesus is talking about commitment here!

Later on in Matthew 23 he points out once again, that those who claimed to be religious leaders didn’t live up to the commitment for which God calls. In verse 3 he told the people, “So practice and obey whatever they say to you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.” (NLT)

Commitment is strange thing, because most of the time it can only truly be judged by God and you, yourself. I can’t judge your heart, I’m limited to judging only the things I see on the outside and often don’t do a good job of that. God however knows what is really going on in your life and so do you, (Hebrews 4:12).

The question for us may be, are you in the driver’s seat or pushing and letting God do the steering for your life? God wants us to let him drive! Are you willing to give up control of your life to God and let him drive? My prayer for you and myself is that we are!

Russ Lawson

Yussif, the Terrible Turk

     The story is told of a man named Yussif, the Terrible Turk.  Yussif was a 350-pound wrestling champion in Europe a couple of generations ago.  After he won the European championship, he sailed to America to wrestle our champ, whose name was Strangler Lewis — a little guy by comparison who weighed just a shade over 200 pounds.
 
     Although he wasn’t very big, Strangler had a simple plan for defeating his opponents and it had never failed to work.  He put his massive arm around the neck of his opponent and cut off the oxygen.  Many an opponent had passed out in the ring with Strangler Lewis.
 
     The problem when he fought Yussif the Turk was that Yussif didn’t have a neck.  His body went from his head to his massive shoulders.  Lewis could never get his hold and it wasn’t long that the Turk flipped Lewis to the mat and pinned him.  After winning the championship, the Turk demanded all five thousand dollars in gold.  After he wrapped the championship belt around his vast waist, he stuffed the gold into the belt and boarded the next ship back to Europe.  He was a success!  He had captured America’s glory and her gold!
 
     He set sail on the SS Bourgogne.  Halfway across the Atlantic, a storm struck and the ship began to sink.  Yussif went over the side with his gold still strapped around his body.  The added weight was too much for the Turk and he sank like an anvil before they could get him into a lifeboat.  He was never seen again.
 
     Maybe you think, “What a fool!  He should have had a lot more sense than that!”  But, the truth of the matter is, we all tend to grasp the things of this world and hold onto them even while we’re sinking.
 
     Solomon made this observation:  “Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun:  There is one alone, without companion:  He has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his labors, nor is his eye satisfied with riches.  But he never asks, ‘For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?’  This also is vanity and a grave misfortune.” (Ecclesiastes 4:8)
 
     Solomon describes a man, like so many today, who doesn’t know how to quit.  He can’t slow down.  He’s driven to succeed,  to achieve, to accumulate.  He works harder and harder to become that successful person he so wants to be.  And never once does he pause long enough to ask the question, “Who am I doing this for?  Why do I feel compelled to run faster and faster in the rat race?”
 
     Success promises a view from the top.  But, without God in the picture, success will drag you down just as it did for Yussif, the Terrible Turk.
 
     “Better is a handful of quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

–Alan Smith

Saved by a sea gull

   On Friday evenings about sunset, on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast, one could regularly see an old man walking — white-haired, bushy eye-browed, slightly bent.  Each and every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return carrying a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to him, and he would feed them from his bucket.  And he would thank them when doing so.
   To the casual observer, his actions would be met with some mixture of bemusement, ridicule and pity. But those who had insight and understanding saw something far different. 
   The old man was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the most decorated American ace pilot of World War I.  Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea.  But then the unexpected occurred.
   Somewhere over the South Pacific, his plane — the Flying Fortress — became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so Rickenbacker and his passengers ditched their plane in the ocean.  For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, the weather, the scorching sun, and their most formidable foe: STARVATION.  Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water.  Their situation looked very bleak.
   At one point, Captain Rickenbacker was dozing with his hat pulled down over his eyes when something remarkable happened: “Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull.  Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull.
   The gull meant FOOD, if I could catch it.”
   Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, seemingly offered itself as a sacrifice.  And Rickenbacker never forgot to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle, a sacrifice that meant salvation to him and others.
   Every Sunday, there are people in various parts of the world that pause to reflect on the ULTIMATE Sacrifice that has been made for mankind.
   The memorial is the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-30) and the participants are Christians.  They are commemorating the death of Jesus, God’s Son, who died on the cross to pay the redemption price for the sins of the world (Eph 1:7; 1 John 2:2).   YOU can also receive the benefits of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice if you will: place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  Then, as Christians, we continue to follow Him and look forward to an ETERNAL home in heaven (Revelation 22). 
   Won’t YOU gratefully accept His offer of salvation on His terms?

                                                           — David A. Sargent

Pizza toppings dropped on the floor

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It was a PR nightmare for Domino’s Pizza.  

Two employees recorded themselves as they carefully concocted a “special treat” for their customers. They ceremoniously dropped pizza toppings on the floor, mashed them around, scraped them up, and daintily arranged them on the pie. They stuck cheese strands up their own noses, extracted them, and giddily sprinkled them over the sauce. They squished and spit the condiments over the top. Then, they uploaded their creativity onto the internet for all to see. 

As my favorite contemporary comedian puts it, “Ya just can’t fix stupid.”  

Of course, the outcry was immediate. Domino’s Pizza was instantly plunged into the highest damage control alert possible. The two employees, who can only be called “Dumb and Dumber,” were fired on the spot. That particular Domino’s outlet was closed for a complete sanitation “do-over.”  

But for anyone who saw the video the damage was done. Did any of you see it?

Did you order a Domino’s Pizza the next day? Have you been haunted by this one single fact: do any of us really know where our food has been before it reaches our table at a restaurant?  

We can joke with our own family in the safety of home about a “five second rule.” But when someone outside our own gene pool is fixing the food . . . 

The entire “you-serve-me” food industry is based upon a certain level of trust. We trust others to prepare good, healthful, quality controlled food.

Without that trust, we would either all be eating only at home, or there would be a great number of employment opportunities for “food tasters.” Even official “food tasters” can’t protect us, though, from the lurking evils of salmonella or e.coli, toxins that we cannot taste and whose symptoms don’t show up immediately. Recently our “trust” in the food industry has been tested and tarnished by tainted spinach, tomatoes, and peanut butter. 

Trust is something we need and something God offers.  Do we have it?

–Author unknown

What would you say if you were about to die?

According to Randy Pausch, “At many colleges, professors are asked to give a ‘last lecture.’  In this talk, they ruminate on what matters most to them.  As they speak, audiences mull the same question: What wisdom would you impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?”

Pausch was asked to give a “last lecture” at Carnegie Mellon University, where he works as a professor in the computer science department.  A few weeks later, Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told that he had only a few months to live.  His opportunity to give a “last lecture” took on new meaning, for in it he wanted to discuss some key lessons that he particularly wanted to leave for his three children. 

The “last lecture” that he presented in September 2007 has been viewed online by millions of people.  An excerpt of his lecture may be read and his entire last lecture may be viewed at Parade.com.

In his “last lecture” Pausch gives several very beneficial lessons like, “Dream Big,” “Dare to Take a Risk,” “Make Time for What Matters,” and “Let Kids Be Themselves.”  In sharing these lessons, Pausch often illustrates the value of the lessons from his own experiences.  He is also able to express these lessons in very thoughtful ways.  Many have benefited by reading and listening to Pausch lessons, and they (we) have been inspired by his marvelous attitude and outlook on life. *

So, what wisdom would YOU impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?

There was once a man named Solomon that gave what could be called a 
“last lecture.”
  His “speech” is recorded in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.  In it, Solomon tells of his experiences in life and the conclusions that he has drawn along the way.  In the end, he reaches a grand conclusion – a lesson that he wanted to leave for all that would come after him:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is the whole duty of man.  

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Heeding Solomon’s wise words today will lead us to Christ – God’s answer for the greatest enemy to the abundant life now and eternal life to come.  The “enemy” is 
our SIN (Romans 3:23).

But God loves us so much that He gave His Son to die for our sins so that we might have forgiveness and the promise of living eternally with Him (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).  God will forgive those who believe in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

Lessons that benefit us as we live our lives now are good.  But lessons that help us experience the abundant life now and eternal life to come are the GREATEST lessons of all!  

Won’t YOU prepare for life and eternity – and influence generations to come to do the same – through your trusting obedience to Christ?

–David A. Sargent, Minister

The eyes of God

 Second Chronicles is perhaps one of the most neglected of the inspired writings among otherwise good Bible students.  I must admit that my yearly trek through the genealogies in 1 and 2 Chronicles takes some patience.  Much of what we read in the Chronicles are a repeat of the material in 1 and 2 Kings with but little difference.  It is interesting, therefore, that on my journey through the Chronicles this year that my eyes happened to light upon a little phrase that I have read a number of times, though only in passing.  But first, some background information. It was the 36th year of the reign of Asa, king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  Asa was instrumental in maintaining pure worship before God. He removed his own mother from being queen because she had made an idol unto false gods (1 Chron. 15:16).  In addition, he brought into the house of God the things that his father Abijah had restored to the temple.  When the 16th chapter opens we learn that Baasha, king of the Northern Kingdom, rose up against Judah.  Rather than depend upon God for protection, Asa turned to Benhadad, the king of Syria, and sought an alliance with that idolatrous nation.  The union was successful and Benhadad retreated from his aggression.  Asa may have won the battle, but he lost what might have otherwise been a blessing from God in the final overthrow and defeat of Syria itself. Hanani the prophet was sent to Asa: “Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thy hand.”  Hanani then makes this interesting statement: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect before him. Herein has thou done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars” (16:9).  Please note these lessons from this record.

 First, God has searching eyes.  Here it is said that He is looking for those “whose heart is perfect toward him.” Jeremiah was once instructed to “run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it” (Jer. 5:1).  Those must have been trying times when a righteous man was hard to find.  Wickedness was rampant.  Both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were, for the most part, corrupt.  How easy it would have been for God to simply turn His back. Instead, God was searching.  Like the prodigal son whose father must have never ceased to look, our Father in heaven keeps searching for one more soul that is “perfect toward him.”

 Second, God has far reaching eyes.  His eyes are said to run “to and fro throughout the whole earth.”  There is no hamlet, no small village, no isolated corner of this globe that can escape the penetrating look of the eyes of God.  “And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).  One wonders by the timing of Hanani’s statement from God whether or not Asa may have attempted to make this “league” with Benhadad in secret. Men may perpetrate and perform their crimes in the dark of night where they THINK they can escape detection.  Law makers and politicians may receive a bribe “under the table” in an effort to conceal their wicked deeds.  But our God sees all, and all will answer to the Almighty for their ungodly deeds.

 Third, God has urgent eyes.  It is said that His eyes “run.”  Time is of the essence.  “The King’s business requires haste” (1 Sam. 21:8).  We must preach the word, “be urgent in season out of season.”  But what it is that makes the search so urgent?  It is the limited time constraint that faces you and me.  Life is but a vapor.  There is no certainty of tomorrow. God knows this.  And I, for one, am happy that He does not linger in searching for those of perfect heart. 

 Fourth, God has revealing eyes.  He was to “shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect.”  I, for one, am glad that God is a revealing God and that He WANTS to make himself known.  How grateful we should be that not only has He made “one of every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” but that God’s desire is that we “should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).  Some years ago it was declared that “God is dead.”   No, God is not dead. He is alive, and He has made Himself known.  For those who miss Him, the fault is solely theirs for God is looking for them, and He is ready and willing to show Himself to those who earnestly seek after Him (Heb. 11:6).

 Finally, God has demanding eyes.  While His love is unconditional, His blessings are for a limited few.  He is strong in behalf of “them whose heart is perfect toward him.”  The context of those words helps me understand what God means by a “heart that is perfect toward him.”  Asa failed to trust God.  He doubted the power of God to fulfill the promises given.  While Asa may have proven himself noteworthy by seeking to eradicate idolatry and return to true worship of Jehovah, he failed in this one area.  He failed to seek God’s advice, and then to follow it when it came to him.  God demands that we bow in submission in every single aspect and area of our life.  Failure to do so will be catastrophic.

–by Tom Wacaster