Archives for : December2010

Do NOT smile!

“Stop smiling!”  DMV photographers in Virginia are joining Arkansas, Nevada, and Indiana as states requiring grin-free pictures on residents’ drivers licenses.  Apparently, face-recognition software is thrown off by curled up kissers.  The objective is to curtail fraudulent drivers licenses.  So, by rule, there will be no smiling when the photographer says “cheese.”

Like you, I know a great many people who need no such rule–whether at a DMV or any one of a million other locations.  They are perpetually miserable, and their faces show it.  Incredibly, too many of those I know like this claim to be Christians.  They sport their sour dispositions and spread thunder clouds and downpours wherever they go.  To borrow Paul’s words on more than one occasion, “My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

“Happiness” is synonymous with “Christianity.”  The Christian’s life is far from problem-, stress-, or trouble-free, but the greatest problem (sin) is solved, the greatest stress (earthly concerns) is benign, and the greatest trouble (death) is surmountable.  People hurt us, betray us, offend us, and undermine us, but we are heaven bound!    We can be happy because “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31Rom. 8:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

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).  Isn’t it hard to obey commands like “be thankful” (Col. 3:15Col. 3:15
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15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.

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), “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4Phil. 4:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice.

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), “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matt. 5:12Matt. 5:12
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12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.

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; Luke’s account says, “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy”–6:23), or similar injunctions with a sour face and a permanent frown?  

Matthew Hite was eight years old when he took his first missionary trip to Tanzania.  While there, he made up a little game he called “Sweet And Sour.”  He would smile at all the pedestrians walking down the road.  If they smiled, he counted it as a “sweet.”  If they scowled or simply failed to smile, he counted it as a “sour.”  Almost everyone of the impoverished people of that nation were “sweets.”  Are you a “sweet” or a “sour”?  If you are a Christian, remember that God has not imposed a “no smile rule” on you.  If anything, He’s done the opposite!

–Neal Pollard

How well do you *hear*?

          A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan.  It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people.  Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening.  Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”
 
     His friend said, “What?  You must be crazy.  You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!”
 
     “No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said, “I heard a cricket.”
 
     “That’s crazy,” said the friend.
 
     The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing.  He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket.  His friend was utterly amazed.
 
     “That’s incredible,” said his friend.  “You must have super-human ears!”
 
     “No,” said the Native American.  “My ears are no different from yours.   It all depends on what you’re listening for.”
 
     “But that can’t be!” said the friend.  “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.”
 
     “Yes, it’s true,” came the reply.  “It depends on what is really important to you.  Here, let me show you.”
 
     He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk.  And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.
 
     “See what I mean?” asked the Native American.  “It all depends on what’s important to you.”
 
     What’s important to you?  What do you listen for?  Are there times that you fail to listen to God or see what God is doing in your life because you are focused on other things that are more important to you?
 
     Jesus said, “For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.  But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.” (Matt. 13:15-16Matt. 13:15-16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.

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     Father, we pray at the beginning of this new year — amidst all the distractions of the world all around us, may our ears always be open to your voice, and our eyes open to your glory.  In Jesus’ name, amen.
 
Have a great day!

Alan Smith

I will let you choose how you are to die

     The court jester was overcome with grief.  His world was at an end!  For a long time he had served the Caliph at Baghdad and his court, keeping them amused whenever they called upon him.  But in a moment of thoughtlessness he had displeased his ruler who had ordered that he be put to death.

     “However,” said the Caliph, “in consideration of the merry jests you’ve told me all these years, I will let you choose how you are to die.”

     “O most generous Caliph,” replied the jester, “if it’s all the same to you, I choose death by old age!”

     I suppose, if given a choice, that’s the choice all of us would make.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), though, that choice is not ours to make.  We know (all too well) the fragile nature of life.  And perhaps it is for the best.  If we were guaranteed 90 years on this earth, we would be mighty tempted to wait until the last year or so to get serious about God (just like putting off those term papers in college!).  With a realization of the uncertainty of life, we recognize the need to be prepared at all times.

     “LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.” (Psa. 39:4-5Psa. 39:4-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Jehovah, make me to know mine end, And the measure of my days, what it is; Let me know how frail I am. 5 Behold, thou hast made my days as handbreadths; And my life-time is as nothing before thee: Surely every man at his best estate is altogether vanity. Selah

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     May you be prepared for the joys that await when this life is over!

Alan Smith

Giving God less than 100%

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 “HERE IS A great eternal truth…

Life cannot be divided into compartments in some of which God is involved and in others of which He is not involved; there cannot be one kind of language in the church and another kind of language in the shipyard or the factory or the office; there cannot be one kind of conduct in the church and another kind of conduct in the business world. The fact is that God does not need to be invited into certain departments of life, and kept out of others. He is everywhere, all through life and in every activity of life. He hears not only the words which are spoken in His name; He hears all words; and there cannot be any such thing as a form of words which evades bringing God into any transaction. We will regard all promises as sacred if we remember that all promises are made in the presence of God.” (William Barclay)

“That you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10Philippians 1:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ;

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–Mike Benson

Who was in charge of the plane?

It’s Wednesday, August 10, 1994st 10, 1994
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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. You are a passenger aboard flight 2033 from Seoul, South Korea to the resort island of Cheju. You and 151 fellow-vacationers are looking forward to a much- needed rest.

The jetliner is only moments from touchdown. You glance out the thick, two-ply window. The plane is scarcely 30 feet off the ground, but it’s obviously moving far too fast. The runway is soaked from a local tropical storm and wind shear is making the landing all-the-more precarious. When the aircraft does reach the earth, it is more than 1,700 meters beyond the landing threshold. A harrowing, split second later the plane crashes through a guard post and then slams into the airport safety barricade. You are terror-stricken.

The two cockpit occupants escape out the nearest window. With the assistance of the six-member cabin crew, you and your seat-mates escape only moments before the plane is engulfed in flames.

A Transportation Ministry investigation reveals the incredible news. The flight was on final approach when a conflict arose between the Captain and co-pilot. That’s right, a conflict! The real reason for the crash wasn’t because of the inclement weather, but because of a clash of wills.

Co-pilot, Chung Chan-kyu, asked Captain Barry Woods numerous times whether he wanted to “go around.” (Chan-kyu was convinced that there was not sufficient distance for the Airbus to land safely without crossing the end of Runway 6). When Woods said, “No,” Chan-kyu grabbed the throttles to take control. The two argued and scuffled as the plane hurtled toward the ground. Transcripts from the flight report that the Captain shouted, “No!” “No!” and “What are you doing?! Don’t… Wait, man… You’re gonna kill us!”

As I read the story, I found myself wondering aloud, “Who was in charge of the plane…?!” Only one of the pilots had the right to land the craft, but neither would relinquish his power.

“Who’s going to be first?” “Who’s going to land the plane?” That sounds a lot like the apostles to me. They fussed over the same fundamental issue. When Jesus announced that He would “be betrayed into the hands of men” (Luke 9:44Luke 9:44
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44 Let these words sink into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered up into the hands of men.

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), the twelve began a verbal “tussle” over who would take charge when he was gone. The text says, “Then an argument arose among them as to who should be greatest” (Luke 9:46Luke 9:46
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

46 And there arose a reasoning among them, which of them was the greatest.

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, Phillips). (The King James version translates the word argument as “reasoning;” the term in the Greek is dialogismos and refers to a heated debate). As improbable as it may sound, the very men whom Jesus taught and trained often wrangled (Matthew 20:20-28Matthew 20:20-28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, worshipping him, and asking a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wouldest thou? She saith unto him, Command that these my two sons may sit, one on thy right hand, and one on thy left hand, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? They say unto him, We are able. 23 He saith unto them, My cup indeed ye shall drink: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left hand, is not mine to give; but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared of my Father. 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation concerning the two brethren. 25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; 27 and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: 28 even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

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; Mark 9:34Mark 9:34
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34 But they held their peace: for they had disputed one with another on the way, who was the greatest.

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; Luke 22:24Luke 22:24
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24 And there arose also a contention among them, which of them was accounted to be greatest.

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) for position and status over what they believed would be (Acts 1:6Acts 1:6
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6 They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?

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) the future kingdom.

I’ve come to the conclusion that “Who’s going to be first?” is THE underlying issue; it is THE core problem — in most arguments. Folks want power; they want to be first. In a manner of speaking, they want to “grab the throttles” and control the plane themselves. People are strange, aren’t they? They want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention. Chan-kyu and Woods did. The apostles did. We do. Think about it, and you will probably agree. Nobody wants to be second in command; nobody wants to play second fiddle. And that is why disagreements arise.

When church members have a “falling-out,” it is usually over power issues and who’s going to be in control. When married partners quarrel, it is often over who is going to be in charge of the checkbook and how money is to be spent. When siblings argue, it is typically over who’s going to be first. “Why is his piece of cake bigger than mine?!” “Why does he get to stay out past midnight, but I have to be in before 11:00re 11:00
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se začne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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?” When nations war and fight, it is typically over which country is going to dominate and rule. When presidential candidates vie for political office, it is always over “who’s going to fly the plane.” Both Democrats and Republicans want to “grab the throttles” and take the lead in our country.

When arguments do occur, I find it helpful to take a step backwards and ask, “What’s happening here?” “Why are people fussing?” You see, once we can determine the actual cause (i.e., pride) of the discord, we then can begin to work on a solution, just as Jesus did. He used a little child to illustrate the real way to “first place” and greatness. The Bible says, “Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great'” (Luke 9:46Luke 9:46
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46 And there arose a reasoning among them, which of them was the greatest.

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-48 NKJV).

What was Jesus’ point? Simply that if you want to be “high,” you must first — like a child — be “low” (i.e., humble, 1 Peter 5:61 Peter 5:6
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6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time;

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). You must manifest a serving nature (John 13:1John 13:1
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13 1 Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto his Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

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ff) and lack the personal, selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3,4Philippians 2:3,4
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3  doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

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; Galatians 5:26Galatians 5:26
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26 Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.

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; Romans 12:10Romans 12:10
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10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another;

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) that is so prevalent among adults. You must imbibe the spirit of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11Philippians 2:5-11
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5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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) and “receive” (i.e., assist) others.

Have you been in argument lately? Are you ready to “grab the throttles?” (Don’t feel too bad, the apostles could relate). Look at a small child…and remember. –Mike Benson

Children and the Lord's Supper

MOST PARENTS HAVE seen this happen…
 
As the communion tray passes by, our little one stretches to see its contents, then in a stage whisper says: “Mom, can I have some juice too?”  Of course, you could say flat out, “No!” but most parents wisely respond, “Not yet.”

“No you can’t,” and “Not yet” are quite different responses, you know. Sometimes it’s important to wait. Delay is not denial. Waiting for the proper time is not idle waiting, nor is it empty.

Anticipation is the best preparation for the moment of fulfillment.

Of course, our kids could take crackers and juice right with all the other participants, but they would not be partaking of the body and blood of the Lord, and the special nature of this ceremony would be lost on them.

Delayed gratification is not popular in our culture, but there are times when it is important. I remember the first time I took communion. I was twelve years old, and it was the week after I was baptized. What a very special moment that was!

Human beings are always in such a hurry. God, I have noticed, allows for nature to take its course. And it doesn’t hurt for our children to observe baptisms, and the Lord’s Supper, and to begin to form the idea that one day, they, too, will grow to participate in and appreciate these grownup mysteries.  (Stan Mitchell)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14Psalm 27:14
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14 Wait for Jehovah: Be strong, and let thy heart take courage; Yea, wait thou for Jehovah.

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).  — Mike Benson

Marriage for *three* instead of *two*

Triad marriages.  If you have not heard of them, you probably will very soon.  This is the idea that a marriage consists of three or more people instead of the traditional two.
 
The arguments that have been used to justify homosexual marriages also justify triad unions.  If homosexuality is justified because “two people have a loving and committed relationship” (and this is a common argument), a triad marriage can be justified if “three people have a loving and committed relationship.”  If marriage is simply a state “for those who love each other” (another argument to justify homosexual unions), then logic and consistency say a marriage can involve 2, 3, 4 or more people who all “love each other.” 
 
Homosexuality has frequently been justified on the basis of discrimination.  If it is wrong to “discriminate” against two homosexual men or two lesbians, why is it right to “discriminate” against three men or three women who want to marry each another?  Why give two homosexual men the right to marry but deny this same right to three men?  If a man can support two wives, or two other men, will the world judge him as a wrongdoer?  If so, what is the basis for the condemnation?
 
Will our society continue to say that we cannot “discriminate” on things such as race and religion, but we can discriminate when it comes to the number of spouses we have?  If our laws do not limit the number of divorces a person may file for, what gives it the right to regulate a person’s number of marriage partners?  If it would be wrong for our government to limit the number of children a family can have, why is it right to limit the number of spouses one can have? 
 
Triad marriages were a predicated consequence a long time ago and they should come as no surprise to us.  Lest we think marriages with multiple partners is an idea “way out in left field,” think about where the United States used to be and where it is now.  The Ward and Jude Cleaver days are long gone.  Readers might be interested in doing a little reading on the world poly amory association — http://www.worldpolyamoryassociation.org/about.html.  This is a group that supports multiple partners and here is a short quote from them:
 
“Polyamory (loving many) is a high art form and a profound spiritual path which encourages honesty, authentic relating, conscious connections, kind communication and unconditional love. Relating polyamorously frees all of us, awakens the world and propels the planet towards peace.”
 
Too many Christians have been too quiet for too long about the distortions to God’s plan for marriage.  Triad marriages can be an effective tool to show people that the rejection of God’s plan for marriage does not result in love, freedom and toleration.  Rejecting what the world labels as “traditional marriage” leads to chaos and moral decay.
 
  Know what God’s plan for marriage is (Mt. 19:5-9Mt. 19:5-9
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5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? 6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses for your hardness of heart suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it hath not been so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.

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) and kindly and lovingly convey that to a very confused world.

A husband who burped

I knew a couple who got an annulment on the grounds that he was rude to his wife. It’s the strangest thing you’ve ever heard. She went to court and claimed that he burped all the time. That’s the truth! I actually knew the people. Well, the judge granted an annulment on the basis that it was apparent the man did not love the woman, or he would have been more considerate of her than to burp all the time. Now that’s an extreme story, but it illustrates the point. Love is not rude.
 
–John MacArthur

This story is a year old, but is anything different?

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KABUL (Reuters) – Bibles in Afghan languages sent to a U.S. soldier at a base in Afghanistan were confiscated and destroyed to ensure that troops did not breach regulations which forbid proselytizing, a military spokeswoman said.

The US military has denied its soldiers tried to convert Afghans to Christianity, after Qatar-based Al Jazeera television showed soldiers at a bible class on a base with a stack of bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages.

U.S. Central Command’s General Order Number 1 forbids troops on active duty — including all those based in Iraq and Afghanistan — from trying to convert people to another religion.

“I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera’s clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed,” spokeswoman Major Jennifer Willis said at Bagram air base, north of Kabul.

Military officials have said the bibles were sent through private mail to an evangelical Christian soldier by his church back home. The soldier brought them to the bible study class where they were filmed.

Trying to convert Muslims to another faith is a crime in Afghanistan. An Afghan man who converted to Christianity was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2006 but was allowed to leave the country after an international uproar.

Unsure of your salvation?

When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he expressed great confidence in his eternal salvation: “I know him whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:122 Tim. 1:12
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12 For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day.

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).  Again, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day” (2 Tim 4:72 Tim 4:7
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7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith:

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). John said, “I have written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:131 John 5:13
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13 These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.

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).  And yet, in spite of so many passages that speak positively of our “blessed assurance,” there are a great number of our brethren who doubt their salvation!  That doubt is reflected in a gloomy disposition of despair and despondency characteristic of a world in darkness. 

 One sister in Oklahoma used to say, “Too many of my brethren act as if they were baptized in vinegar.” One of the most beautiful passages in all the Bible is 1 John 1:71 John 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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– “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  There are two important truths that emerge from this passage.  First, while walking “in the light” we are still going to sin.  All too often we demand of ourselves that which we are not capable of giving, namely sinless perfection.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8).  Second, we have the cleansing blood of our Lord at our constant disposal.  Like an ever flowing fountain, limitless in its resources, and powerful in its efficacy, our Lord’s blood will wash away every single sin and remove the guilt associated with it. No wonder John could, in this same letter, write of our assurance of salvation (5:13).

 It was once said, “A joyless saint will never win a joyful sinner to Christ.”  If your lack of assurance has robbed you of the joy of Christian living, how can you ever expect to convert someone who, though living in error, has greater confidence of his salvation than do you?  No wonder Paul told us to “rejoice in the Lord always.”  And as if to drive the point home, he immediately repeats, “again, I will say, REJOICE!”  Beloved, we CAN know that we are saved, and with that assurance comes the great joy of Christian living! 

— Tom Wacaster

Are you ready to die?

A local barber became a Christian on a certain Sunday morning.  Being excited about his new found faith, this man wanted to share the news about Jesus with all his customers.

The barber opened his shop on the Monday after his conversion and in walked a customer.  The barber situated this man in the chair, put the hair apron on him, and then proceeded to get a pair of scissors from the counter.  With scissors in hand the barber approached the man in the chair and said:  “Are you prepared to die?”

The terrified customer leaped from the chair and escaped through the nearest door.

This story, which is said to be true, contains some interesting lessons.  First, it reminds Christians about the need to be evangelistic (Mk. 16:15-16Mk. 16:15-16
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15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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).  Second, it reminds us to choose our words carefully.  We may know what we mean, but others may not (Col. 4:5-6Col. 4:5-6
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5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

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).  Third, a time will come when either we die (Heb. 9:27Heb. 9:27
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27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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) or the Lord will return (2 Thess. 1:7-102 Thess. 1:7-10
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7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, 8 rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: 9 who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed in that day.

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).

The question posted by the barber is very important so I am going to put it to you, dear reader.  Are you ready to die?

If you are not sure about your relationship with God, please study the following items.

Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6Heb. 11:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

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We cannot be a child of God without repentance (Lk. 13:3Lk. 13:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

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We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Tim. 6:121 Tim. 6:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.

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; Acts 8:36-38Acts 8:36-38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

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We must also be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27Gal. 3:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16Acts 2:38; 22:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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) and then “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:71 Jn. 1:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

4,000 sermons, 20,000 songs, 8,000 public prayers

 In his book, Hearts on Fire, Don Humphrey exposes our spiritual passivity. He notes:

“The average member of the church of Christ has heard 4,000 sermons, sung 20,000 songs, participated in 8,000 public prayers … and converted zero sinners” [p. 3]. … God never intended for Christianity to be church-building centered. The message from God in the New Testament is that He intends for us to go to the lost (Matthew 28:19,20Matthew 28:19,20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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; Acts 26:16-18Acts 26:16-18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for to this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee; 17 delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee, 18 to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me.

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; Romans 1:14,15Romans 1:14,15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome.

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; 2 Timothy 2:22 Timothy 2:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

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). Instead, our usual evangelistic program involves having a nice building and nice services to which the lost can come. And if they don’t come, they are not reached. If our church-building evangelism method could win America, it would already have done so” [p. 7]. … Our problem is that we have become spiritually lethargic. We are like a car stuck in a snow-drift —- the wheels are spinning and the motor is racing, but there is no forward motion. Congregations have full calendars with lots of programs and activities but no forward direction that will keep the main thing the main thing —- growth. We have become indifferent. It doesn’t really matter to us that we are not growing. People are lost, and we are evangelistically inactive. … Perhaps the Devil learned a lesson [from first-century Christianity] … Today he is not persecuting us; he is lulling us to sleep…” [pp. 12-13.]

20 year search comes to an end

About twenty years ago I began searching for some rare religious books.  A few of these books have been found and purchased over the years, but most are volumes I have never been able to see let alone buy.

About ten years ago someone told me one of the books on my list is worthless—a small paperback that was hardly worth printing.  When I asked this fellow if we were talking about the same book, he assured me we were.

Although I did not think the man was lying, his claim seemed doubtful because another book by this same author is outstanding.  Since it didn’t hurt to keep looking, I have continued to watch for a copy of this “worthless paperback” for the past ten years.

Today some unusual circumstances alerted me to the fact that this book is again being sold via “print on demand” and single copies are available.  Today I was also able to hold and examine a copy of this book at a seminary library.  Rather than be a small paperback, this is a hardbound book of almost 600 pages and the material is truly outstanding.

Many of the great things in life come through searching and this is certainly true in the area of religion.  In Mt. 7:7Mt. 7:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

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Jesus said:  “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”  In Mt. 13:44Mt. 13:44
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

44 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field; which a man found, and hid; and in his joy he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

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Jesus said:  “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field ; which a man found, and hid; and in his joy he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”

Some of our searching may seem fruitless and almost endless.  Others may try to discourage us in our search for God, truth, and heaven.  In the end faithful searchers often find they are blessed beyond their wildest dreams.

  Keep searching, especially as it relates to being and staying in a right relationship with God.

*Out of season* preaching

In an instant, Jim Scudder was living a nightmare.

The missionary and his son, John, had traveled from their home in Nyeri, Kenya, to the capital, Nairobi, to obtain a visa for John to attend Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.

As they pulled up to a guesthouse on a recent Wednesday night, five armed men jumped into their car. The hijackers forced the Scudders into the back of the car and started driving.

They threatened the Christians and shoved guns into their chests. They took Jim Scudder’s cash and bank cards and forced him to withdraw money from automated teller machines.

The hijackers also robbed other people, forcing them into the car. All the while, said the missionary’s daughter, Anna Edgeston, “Dad talked of being a Christian and the joy that he and John experienced due to being Christians. His missionary work never stopped, even in the midst of danger.” Jim Scudder has served in Kenya since the 1970s, said Roger Pritchett, missions minister for the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, Ark.

The missionary’s first wife died in childbirth, and he remarried Grace, a native Kenyan. The couple and three of their children work among the Kikuyu people. Pleasant Valley has supported their work for 20 years, Pritchett said.

After driving around Nairobi for several hours, the kidnappers ambushed another motorist. They left the Scudders and their car outside an apartment complex.

“One of the kidnappers asked that Dad pray for them due to the work they do,” Edgeston said.

In addition to cash, the kidnappers took Jim Scudder’s wedding ring, which he had worn for more than 32 years, his daughter said.

She asked fellow Christians to pray for her father and brother as they cope with the psychological effects of the ordeal.

 
For original post see http://bit.ly/gvYUcl

Did asteroids kill dinosaurs?

     An article entitled “Maybe an Asteroid Didn’t Kill the Dinosaurs” by Jeffrey Kluger caught my attention the other day:
  
     “When a scientific principle is common knowledge even in grammar school, you know it has long since crossed the line from theory to established fact. That’s the case with dinosaur extinction. Some 65 million years ago – as we’ve all come to know – an asteroid struck the earth, sending up a cloud that blocked the sun and cooled the planet. That, in turn, wiped out the dinosaurs and made way for the rise of mammals…Now, however, a study in the Journal of the Geological Society throws all that into question…The fossil record shows that a riot of species was thriving; above it, 65% of them went suddenly missing… they sampled 30 feet higher – and 300,000 years later – that they saw the die-offs.  ‘The mass extinction level can be seen above this interval,’ Keller says. ‘Not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub [the name of the meteor] impact.’  Keller’s and Addate’s species samplings are not, of course, conclusive…But since the new digs were so close to ground zero, the immediate species loss ought to be have been – if anything – greater there than anywhere else in the world.  Instead, the animals seemed to escape unharmed.”

 
     As I read this article (and even before I began reading it), I thought to myself, “Well DUH!  Of course an asteroid did not kill the dinosaurs.  Are there any other obvious conclusions you guys would like to finally figure out?”
     However, what I found interesting about this article was they were calling the asteroid which killed the dinosaurs an “established fact.”  Even more so, they claimed any scientific principle taught in grammar school crosses over from theory to “established fact.”  One other so-called “establish fact” taught in schools would be evolution.  But what I found most remarkable was they were actually challenging something most of America teaches and believes in.  Typically this is met with extremely harsh resistance and the burying of the truth (the actual established facts).
     Why is it when other people bring evidence against other so-called “establish facts” the scientific community and our culture cannot have courage to say, “Maybe we didn’t come from the Big Bang;” “Maybe we didn’t evolve from animals;” “Maybe we need to rethink some things here;” “Maybe the Bible is correct”?
     If there is anything to learn from this article it is that just because something is called true in schools and in this culture does not make it an “established fact.”  Here are some topics our culture generally claims as “established facts.”  (1) Evolution.  (2) Abortion is acceptable.  (3) Homosexuality is natural.  (4) Premarital sex is no big deal.  (5) Divorce for any reason is okay.  (6) Getting drunk is just fine and it’s fun.  While most people accept these claims, they are anything but the truth.  The real place to get the answers, the truth, and the “established” facts cannot be from men, but only from God (Proverbs 12:15; 14:12; 19:21; 21:2, 29-31Proverbs 12:15; 14:12; 19:21; 21:2, 29-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes; But he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsel. 12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death. 21 There are many devices in a man's heart; But the counsel of Jehovah, that shall stand. 2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes; But Jehovah weigheth the hearts.

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; Isaiah 55:8-9Isaiah 55:8-9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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; Jeremiah 10:23Jeremiah 10:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

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; etc).  Here is what God says about these:
     (1) Evolution is false: Genesis 1:1, 11, 12Genesis 1:1, 11, 12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The First Book of Moses, called Genesis 1 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 11 And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good.

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; Psalm 148:5Psalm 148:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Let them praise the name of Jehovah; For he commanded, and they were created.

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; 1 Corinthians 15:38-391 Corinthians 15:38-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes.

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; etc.
     (2) Abortion is unacceptable: Same Greek word for child used before birth (Luke 1:41Luke 1:41
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

41 And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit;

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) and after birth (Luke 18:15Luke 18:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 And they were bringing unto him also their babes, that he should touch them: but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

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); Psalm 139:13-15; 22:10-11Psalm 139:13-15; 22:10-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother's womb. 14 I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My frame was not hidden from thee, When I was made in secret, And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 10 I was cast upon thee from the womb; Thou art my God since my mother bare me. 11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; For there is none to help.

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; Galatians 1:15Galatians 1:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace,

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; etc.
     (3) Homosexuality is wrong and unnatural: Romans 1:18, 24-27Romans 1:18, 24-27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 24 Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: 25 for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.

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; Genesis 19:4-5, 11-13, 24Genesis 19:4-5, 11-13, 24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; 5 and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men that came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door. 12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whomsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of the place: 13 for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxed great before Jehovah: and Jehovah hath sent us to destroy it. 24 Then Jehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven;

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; 1 Corinthians 6:91 Corinthians 6:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men,

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; Matthew 19:4-5Matthew 19:4-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 And he answered and said, Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?

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; etc.
     (4) Premarital Sex is not acceptable: 1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 8-91 Corinthians 7:1-2, 8-9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

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; Hebrews 13:4Hebrews 13:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4  Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

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; etc.
     (5) Divorce: God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16Malachi 2:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 For I hate putting away, saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, and him that covereth his garment with violence, saith Jehovah of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

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).  Divorce only allowed through sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:9Matthew 5:31-32; 19:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 It was said also, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.

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; Mark 10:11-12Mark 10:11-12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her: 12 and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery.

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; Luke 16:18Luke 16:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband committeth adultery.

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; etc).
     (6) Drunkenness is wrong: Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise. 29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? Who hath complaining? who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; They that go to seek out mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, When it sparkleth in the cup, When it goeth down smoothly: 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, And stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange things, And thy heart shall utter perverse things. 34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, Or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not hurt; They have beaten me, and I felt it not: When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

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; Galatians 5:16-24Galatians 5:16-24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 21 envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.

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; Ephesians 5:15-21Ephesians 5:15-21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.

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; etc.
     We when look at God’s Word, there is truly no better place to turn for answers.  Let’s make sure our “established facts” come from the only One who has established the facts, the Lord. 
Brett Petrillo