Archives for : January2011

The place to confront and criticize someone about unfaithful, fault-ridden behavior

 Criticism is sometimes needed and justified. Jesus taught, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15Matthew 18:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

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). Jesus did not tell us to imagine or find fault with anyone – He only tells us to point out what is really there. And He is clear the first step to clearing up a fault between my brother and myself is to go tell it to the brother alone – not behind his back and not to everybody else in town or in the church.

The place to confront and criticize someone about unfaithful, fault-ridden behavior is to his or her face – not on Facebook or other social networks where others look on and weigh in. And not with a crude anonymous note, no matter how right you may think that is. The point is not to deny that all of us are sometimes guilty of faults and deserve constructive criticism. The point is that criticism, to be effective, must be done by the right person at the right time in the right place with the right attitude for the for right reasons. We should not criticize such criticism.

All that having been said, Jesus found fault with a very widespread human fault in Matthew 7:1-5Matthew 7:1-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

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– the fault of being a faultfinder! This passage bluntly states, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (vs 1), and goes on to warn that in the end we will be judged and measured by the same judgement and measure we have used to judge and measure others (vs 2). The Lord points out that some folks focus on a “mote” or “speck” in their brother’s eye, even to the point of trying to remove it – and all the while the faultfinder has a “beam” or “plank” protruding from his own eye! So ridiculous is the picture Jesus paints it is hard to believe His original hearers did not roar with laughter as He pointed out how extreme some faultfinders can be. Careful now.

Contrary to the way some interpret this passage, Jesus is not okay with leaving a “speck” in the eye (or life), let alone a “plank” – whether in mine or my brother’s. If you’ve ever had a speck in your eye you know even the tiniest speck makes for a great deal of discomfort and dysfunction. The problem, and the proper solution, is stated by the Lord in verse 5 -“Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

The folks Jesus finds fault with in this passage are faultfinders – people who search for and find even the tiniest of faults in others while blind to mountain-sized faults in their own lives. Such people find fault with everybody and everything. Their criticism knows no boundaries or limits. Jesus was the only faultless and flawless human being who ever lived, but that didn’t keep some from criticizing and finding fault with Him, to the point they eventually crucified Him.

All this reminds me of the old story about two taxidermists walking the sidewalk. They stopped before a window where an owl was on display. They began to criticize the way the owl was mounted. Its eyes did not look natural; its wings were not rightly proportioned; its feathers were not neatly arranged; its feet did not look real; its head was cocked at an odd angle. So they said. When they finished with their criticism, the owl turned his head, and winked at them! You need to know that if you are a faultfinder, Jesus Christ will find fault with you. Think about it.

–Dan Gulley

Great victories are won when ordinary people execute their assigned tasks

I ONCE HEARD interviews with survivors from World War II…
 
The soldiers recalled how they spent a particular day. One sat in a foxhole; once or twice, a German tank drove by and he shot at it. Others played cards and frittered away the time. A few got involved in furious firefights. Mostly, the day passed like any other. Later, they learned they had just participated in one of the largest, most decisive engagements of the war, the Battle of the Bulge. It didn’t feel decisive at the time because none had the big picture.
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8Micah 6:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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–Mike Benson

Great victories are won when ordinary people execute their assigned tasks.

Perhaps you sense you’re in a spiritual rut. Stay at your assigned task!  Obedience to God offers the way out of our futility.  (Philip Yancey)

Is Bible reading as important as chemotherapy for a cancer patient?

 “Two friends walk toward a destination. The path has at times been steep and is not always smooth. Their pace is labored as they come to a fork in the road. The road that branches off goes downhill and is attractively landscaped. There are no signs, however, to tell them where this new path will lead. They can’t resist the temptation, and head downhill on the easier path. The farther they go, however, the farther they are from their destination.

That people often choose the easier course is no surprise to any of us; we’re often guilty of the same. But do we calculate the price of taking that easier course? Will it lead to a place we really want to be?

Susan Jacoby is on a campaign to awaken Americans. The title of her newly published book, “The Age Of Unreason”, may not prompt multitudes to rush out to bookstores, but she has a message that needs to be heard. Americans, she contends, are being “dumbed down” because they more often choose entertainment than information.

In a recent interview with “U.S. News & World Report”, Jacoby talks about “infotainment”. As one can quickly see, it’s a combination of the words “information” and “entertainment”. In our culture, the emphasis is usually on the latter. More Americans choose to be entertained by the electronic media (television and the Internet, e.g.) than to be informed by the more “rational” means (books or other print media). She states, “Video culture, as it appears in the digital media, gives you a quick hit but doesn’t encourage you to go further. It substitutes for reading more” (“The Ignorant American”, March 10, 2008, p. 22).

Jacoby’s title for her article in the “Washington Post”, February 24, 2008, commands more attention: “We Actually Love Being Idiots”. In that article she pointed to a 2007 study by the National Endowment For The Arts. “In 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later, only 67 percent did. And more than 40 percent of Americans under 44 did not read a single book – fiction or nonfiction – over the course of a year.” She concluded her point by noting that the latter results arose as personal computing, Web surfing and video games became commonplace.

Is there a price to be paid for this surge in infotainment? Those who have laughed at Jay Leno’s “Jay Walking” segments on “The Tonight Show” know that many Americans lack even basic facts that once were common. A similar interview was conducted on an esteemed college’s campus. Students were asked whether a certain event had happened in the nineteenth century or in the 1800s. None of the respondents shown on the video caught the fact that the two answers were the same.

Jacoby points to many such indicators that Americans are turning away from intellectual pursuits (as simple as reading a novel) in favor of YouTube and other electronic cotton candy. She uses the word “antirational” to describe the trend. Others use stronger terms such as “anti-intellectual”. Michael Albert, on zmag.org flatly states, “An ‘anti-rationality’ trend is sweeping our society.”

The choices before us couldn’t be clearer: One involves mental concentration and focus; the other requires only that we get comfortable, tune in and watch. Under the guise of “relaxation”, many of us choose a path that takes us farther from where we want to be.

How do you suppose this trend affects our nation’s Bible literacy? In a “Jay Walking” skit from March 2007, Leno asked one young lady to complete the following: “In the beginning, God created …” She responded with the answer, “Peace” (the correct answer is “the heavens and the earth”). When asked how many commandments there were, she answered “twelve”. (I wish I could tell you that Leno has difficulty finding such people to interview!)

Is it really so important that we know the teachings of the Bible? While our society might answer “Of course not!”, let’s consider some statements from this Book. Proverbs 3 is a good place to begin: “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. … Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold” (Proverbs 3:1-2,13-14Proverbs 3:1-2,13-14
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3 1 My son, forget not my law; But let thy heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to thee. 13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, And the man that getteth understanding. 14 For the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, And the profit thereof than fine gold.

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). According to this, time spent reading God’s word will lead to a much richer life.

The book of Psalms opens with a warning against associating with people who care nothing for God’s teachings (such as the characters we regularly see depicted on television and on the Internet). The better choice of how to spend our time is this: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2Psalm 1:2
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2 But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night.

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). If we had the ability to drop in on homes throughout America this evening, how many would be found with open Bibles?

The problem was present long ago in the days of the prophet Micah. He observed this about God’s people: “If a man should walk in a false spirit, and speak a lie, saying, ‘I will prophesy to you of wine and drink,’ even he would be the prattler of this people” (Micah 2:11Micah 2:11
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11 If a man walking in a spirit of falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

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). Then, as now, a person doesn’t generally draw a large audience by talking about God’s word. If you want to deliver lectures on wines and fine dining, though, an entire television network may spring up around you!

Let’s see if we can make this clear: Suppose a person was diagnosed with cancer. He is told, however, that with chemotherapy the problem can be cured. When told when those treatments will take place, he refuses: “I can’t do chemotherapy then! That’s when my favorite show on TV comes on.” Would we consider such a person foolish?

Are we suggesting that Bible reading is as important as chemotherapy for a cancer patient? No – we’re saying it’s more important. We base that claim on James 1:21James 1:21
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21 Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

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: “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Chemotherapy, if successful, can add years to a person’s life. God’s word can lead to salvation of one’s soul, and that’s an issue of eternity!

Perhaps you remember Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders. Only one built his house in a way that it could withstand a vicious storm. What was Jesus’ application for us? “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24Matthew 7:24
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24 Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock:

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). Are we interested in building a life that will withstand the storms of life? Are we hearing “these sayings of” Jesus, much less, doing them?

We face today a literal avalanche of entertainment options. When you finally get a moment to relax, you have dozens of choices of what to do. But only one of those choices will open the door to a better life on earth as well as a blissful eternity. It’s not the easiest path, and it requires more effort than the others. Make sure you know the consequences before you make your choice. And then make time for God’s word!

Would you like to know more about beginning your own study of God’s word? Get in touch with me, and let me tell you about simple ways to get started in reading this Book of books. God gave this Book for all people, and I know you can understand it by following simple principles. Let’s talk about that today!

–author unknown

Unauthorized scribbling

Richard Fairchild tells about a story that appeared years ago in the Christian Reader. It was called “Priceless Scribbles.” It concerns a father who touched his child’s life in an unexpected way. A young boy watched as his father walked into the living room. The boy noticed that his younger brother, John, began to cower slightly as his father entered. The older boy sensed that John had done something wrong. Then he saw from a distance what his brother had done. The younger boy had opened his father’s brand new hymnal and scribbled all over the first page with a pen.

Staring at their father fearfully, both brothers waited for John’s punishment. Their father picked up his prized hymnal, looked at it carefully and then sat down, without saying a word. Books were precious to him; he was a minister with several academic degrees. For him, books were knowledge. What he did next was remarkable, says the author of this story. Instead of punishing his brother, instead of scolding, or yelling, his father took the pen from the little boy’s hand, and then wrote in the book himself, alongside the scribbles that John had made. Here is what that father wrote: “John’s work, 1959, age 2. How many times have I looked into your beautiful face and into your warm, alert eyes looking up at me and thanked God for the one who has now scribbled in my new hymnal. You have made the book sacred, as have your brother and sister to so much of my life.”

“Wow,” thought the older brother, “This is punishment?” The author of the story, now an adult, goes on to say how that hymnal became a treasured family possession, how it was tangible proof that their parents loved them, how it taught the lesson that what really matters is people, not objects; patience, not judgment; love, not anger.

–author unknown

Four preachers had a series of theological arguments

     There once were four preachers who had a series of theological arguments, and three were always in agreement against the fourth.  One day, the odd preacher out, after the usual “3 to 1, majority rules” statement that signified that he had lost again, decided to appeal to a higher authority.
 
     “Oh, God!” he cried. “I know in my heart that I am right and they are wrong!  Please give me a sign to prove it to them!”
 
     It was a beautiful, sunny day.  As soon as the preacher finished his prayer, a storm cloud moved across the sky above the four.  It rumbled once and dissolved.  “A sign from God!  See, I’m right, I knew it!”  But the other three disagreed, pointing out that storm clouds form on hot days.
 
     So the preacher prayed again: “Oh, God, I need a bigger sign to show that I am right and they are wrong.  So please, God, a bigger sign!”  This time four storm clouds appeared, rushed toward each other to form one big cloud, and a bolt of lightning slammed into a tree on a nearby hill.
 
     “I told you I was right!” cried the preacher, but his friends insisted that nothing had happened that could not be explained by natural causes.
 
     The preacher was getting ready to ask for a *very big* sign, but just as he said, “Oh God…,” the sky turned pitch black, the earth shook, and a deep, booming voice said, “HEEEEEEEE’S RIIIIIIIGHT!”
 
     The preacher put his hands on his hips, turned to the other three, and said, “Well?”
 
     “So,” shrugged one of the other preachers, “now it’s 3 to 2.”
 
     It’s a serious problem.  The problem of putting God’s words on an equal level with man’s words.  But spiritual truth is not determined by taking a vote.  In fact, even if 1,000 people agree with us, it makes no difference unless we agree with God.
 
     As Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17John 17:17
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17 Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.

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     That’s why Paul was so determined that the Thessalonians know the source of his teaching.
 
     “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” (I Thess. 2:13ss. 2:13
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13 The fig-tree ripeneth her green figs, And the vines are in blossom; They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

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     Father, in the confusion of so many voices telling us what is right and what is wrong, may we look to your word for truth.  Thank you for being a God of truth, one in whom we can place our utmost confidence.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

The Doctor Is In

In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy is playing her role as psychiatrist. She sits in her booth with the sign that reads: “Psychiatric Help – 5 cents.” The sign below says, “The Doctor Is In.” Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “Your life is like a house.”

In the next frame, she says reflectively, “You want your house to have a solid foundation, don’t you?” Charlie Brown has a kind of blank look on his face. Lucy says, “Of course you do.”

Charlie Brown is still silent – saying nothing. Then in the fourth frame, psychiatrist Lucy says, “So don’t build your house on the sand, Charlie Brown.” About that time, a huge wind comes up and blows the booth down. Lucy, sitting in the rubble says, “Or use cheap nails.”

On what are you building your life?

Thinking about Vacation Bible School?

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It will be here sooner than you think and here are some great tips from a great preacher (Neal Pollard)!
 
    I know we call our V.B.S. “Bible Discovery Days,” but it comes during summer vacation and it emphasizes the Bible.  Growing up in the Lord’s church, I remember fondly the days of V.B.S.  As a preacher, I have worked with congregations in them for nearly twenty years (I believe this year’s was perhaps the best I have seen).  Here is what V.B.S. means to me.
    Very Beneficial Service.  Whatever you do as a part of Vacation Bible School, it is important.  Some soul may be in heaven someday because of some part, large or small, you play during VBS.  Teachers and other volunteers benefit from your service (Matt. 20:26-28Matt. 20:26-28
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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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).  The students benefit from the service rendered (2 Tim. 2:22 Tim. 2:2
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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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).  The Kingdom of God benefits from those who serve through great programs like VBS.
    Victory By Study.   A relevant, practical, and uplifting theme is always a winner.  Who would expect otherwise?  As an elder once said, “If the kids from the community want to learn the Bible, they’ll want to be at our VBS.”  The same is true of the children of Christians.  Every night attended should help every student grow in faith, the key to victory (1 Jn. 5:41 Jn. 5:4
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4 For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith.

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    Vacating Bad Situations.  Simply by being present, each student will avoid being at a place doing things they should not do.  But, through good Bible teaching, they will learn to better appreciate the difference between right and wrong and good and evil.  VBS is a sin-preventative.  It is a righteousness-preservative.  Sin is trashed.  Evil is bashed.  Naughtiness is thrashed.  VBS is devoted to promoting 1 Corinthians 15:331 Corinthians 15:33
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33 Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.

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and 1 Thessalonians 5:221 Thessalonians 5:22
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22 abstain from every form of evil.

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    Voicing Biblical Sentiments.  Through VBS, the church gets another chance to promote God’s truth.  Each lesson will give heavenly guidance on how to grow up living in a way that will lead one to heaven.  It will be a lot of fun, and in the process, it will build faith.
    Voices Blending Sweetly.  The little ones are not little adults.  VBS provides children with a focus on their level, in ways and means they understand.  “Fun songs” will be “bellowed” out all week long.  For some, every song will be new.  For others, most songs will be familiar.  However, for all, there will be enthusiastic participation.  There is something about singing that reaches the hearts of nearly everyone.  VBS songs are special and provide a lifetime of memories for the kids.
    Vividly Bright Specimens.  Each adult who attends, is involved, and is supportive is pledging allegiance to the Lord’s side.  Forestalling vacation plans, household chores, and other obligations will be blessed.  Those little kids will remember seeing your faces.  The Lord also keeps a record, which is perfect.  Too, it will make your bright light shine brighter (Matt. 5:14-16Matt. 5:14-16
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14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. 16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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    Please do all you can to make VBS the very best it can be.  Involve yourself in eternity.  Support VBS!

Alas and did my savior bleed

1)      ALAS is an expression of sadness, grief, concern, pity, sorrow.

2)      Today some might say something like WOW, though this is not quite as respectful in this case.

3)      This song says our Savior bled and this should have a significant impact on our lives.

4)      This morning we will look at the “bleeding savior” from the standpoint of the first four NT books.

a)      Our beginning point is Mt. 26.

5)      Mt. 26:31Mt. 26:31
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31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended in me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

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– READ

6)      Jesus offered a very special prayer – verse 39 – READ

7)      Jesus not only prayed this prayer once, He prayed it two more times (verse 44).

8)      Verse 45 says the time came when Jesus was “betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

9)      Verse 47 – READ

10)  After Jesus was taken into custody He began to go through a series of trials.

11)  Verse 57 refers to His being taken to the house of “Caiaphas” where “scribes and elders” were.

12)  Mt. 26:67Mt. 26:67
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67 Then did they spit in his face and buffet him: and some smote him with the palms of their hands,

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says Jesus was “spit on” and this act was not done on His clothing.

a)      Then we come to Mt. 27; here we find Jesus was “scourged” – verse 26 – READ

b)      The treatment in Mt. 26 was not pleasurable; the “scourging was enough to actually kill people.

13)  Then Jesus experienced the things described in verses 29-30 – READ

14)  Jesus was offered a pain killer (verse 34), but He refused to drink it.

15)  The crucifixion is recorded in verse 35 and the mockery He faced is found in verse 44.

 THESE ARE THE BASIC FACTS FROM MATTHEW SO LET’S TURN TO THE NEXT ACCOUNT OF WHAT JESUS FACED; THIS IS FOUND IN MARK 14.

 a)      Verse 56 of Mk. 14 says “many” came forward to serve as “false witnesses” against Jesus.

b)      Jesus was abused physically, mentally, and verbally.

2)      Notice this little detail from Mk. 15:19Mk. 15:19
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19 And they smote his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.

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– READ

3)      Jesus received “worship” before His death – people kneeled before Him and offered worship.

4)      Jesus was brought to the place of death and crucified with “two malefactors” (Lk. 23:33Lk. 23:33
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33 And when they came unto the place which is called The skull, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left.

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5)      Here is what we find in verse 34 – READ

6)      Jesus’ concern for others is also seen in John’s account.

7)      Jn. 19:25Jn. 19:25
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25 These things therefore the soldiers did. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

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says “stand by the cross of Jesus his mother.”

8)      The time came when He used some of His strength to send her away, verse 27.

 WITH THE BASIC FACTS IN MIND ABOUT JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS, LET’S RETURN TO THE WORDS THAT WE OFTEN SING.

 a)      The question “did my savior bleed” is almost rhetorical – YES He did!

b)      He bled from the crown of thorns that was placed on His head.

2)      His body would have bled from the scourging He received.

3)      His body may have bled because of the people who struck Him in the face.

4)      We sing in our song:  Was it for crimes I had done that He “groaned” upon the tree?  Yes; this is true.

5)      Since Jesus has done this for us, we need to have a “thankful heart” (line four).

6)      We sing “melt mine eyes with tears.”

7)      Worship is a time to come and say “thank you” to God.

8)      It is also a time to remember Jesus’ death that saves us from sin.

a)      There is the “Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10Rev. 1:10
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10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet

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b)      The Lord not only has a “day,” He has a “supper.”

9)      Christians remembered Jesus’ death every single week because of what it represents.

10) Are we faithfully serving the One who died for us?

Do NOT eat Autumn Monkshood

Tasty in Soup? In April 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned consumers not to consume a poisonous flowering perennial plant commonly called Autumn Monkshood. The warning was issued because several of the plants distributed by Valleybrook Gardens, Ltd., a Canadian nursery located in British Columbia, had been mislabeled suggesting that they were edible….

The label should have read, “All parts of this plant are toxic,” but an employee changed it to, “All parts of this plant are TASTY in soup.” According to Michael Benoit, the nursery’s general manager, “The employee was making a practical joke and thought it would be caught by a horticulturist.”

The FDA warned: “All parts of this plant are poisonous! Cooking will NOT detoxify the toxic compounds.” In its warning the Agency listed the symptoms of being poisoned by the plant including cardiovascular complications: “DEATH could occur due to ventricular arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) or direct paralysis of the heart.”

The FDA reported that Valleybrook Gardens called all of its accounts, including nurseries in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington State and Idaho in the U.S., and notified them of the situation and asked them to pull the incorrect labels. Thankfully, when the FDA issued the report on April 26, 2001, there were no known illnesses or injuries. *

The Autumn Monkshood plants are not the ONLY harmful things to be mislabeled.

The Bible warns us of the deceitfulness of SIN (Hebrews 3:13Hebrews 3:13
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13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin:

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). Although it is often “labeled” as something good and enjoyable, it is DEADLY (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23
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23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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). The bad news is that ALL of us have succumbed to sin’s temptation (Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
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23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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) and are in danger of suffering its consequences.

But God has a remedy….

Because of His GREAT love for us, He sent His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16John 3:16
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16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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). WHEN we believe in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and are baptized (immersed) into Him (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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.

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), THEN He will cleanse us from sin. And, as we walk in the light of His Word, He will continue to cleanse us from sin (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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).

Although mislabeled, sin CAN be “tasty” (pleasurable), but ONLY for a season (Hebrews 11:25Hebrews 11:25
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25 choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

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). In the end, it is COSTLY and DEADLY!

Won’t YOU accept God’s remedy?

 — David A. Sargent, Minister

Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree

“Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree” was the title of a popular song in the 1970s written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown.  It was recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn among others.  The words of the song tell a story from the perspective of a convict who has just been released from prison after a three-year term.  He wants to know if the woman that he loves has forgiven him and if she still loves him.  Previously he had written a letter to his sweetheart with instructions as to how he would know if she still loved him or not.  The instructions make up the chorus of the song:

Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the old oak tree
It’s been three long years
Do you still want me?
If I don’t see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree
I’ll stay on the bus
Forget about us
Put the blame on me
If I don’t see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree

Would she tie a yellow ribbon around the tree?  Had he been forgiven? Did she still love him, and would she welcome him home?  He could not bear to look…..

But as the bus approached the designated oak, the occupants who were aware of his agonizing situation erupted in cheers and applause.  The man looked and to his astonishment….there was not one, but ONE HUNDRED yellow ribbons tied to the old oak tree!  Because of those ribbons, he knew that she still loved him and welcomed him home. *

Like the man on the bus, WE are sometimes fearful because we are guilty of sin and know that we are to blame.  We wonder, “Can I truly be forgiven for my mistakes?”

There is another tree that reveals God’s answer.  The answer is: “Yes, I love you and will forgive you.”  The “tree” that reveals the answer is the cross of Jesus Christ!   

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8Romans 5:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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).  On the cross, He paid the price for OUR sins so that we might have forgiveness (2 Corinthians 5:212 Corinthians 5:21
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21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

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).

God will forgive those who: believe in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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.

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).  He will continue to forgive those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (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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).

Through the cross of Christ, God says, “I love you and I forgive you.”

Won’t YOU accept His forgiveness through your trusting obedience?

–David A. Sargent

An antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers

 The following ads are reported to have been taken from actual newspapers:

1) Free puppies: ½ cocker spaniel, ½ sneaky neighbor dog

2) Snow blower for sale … only used on snowy days

3) For sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.

4) 2 wire mesh butchering gloves: 1 five-finger, 1 three-finger, pair $15

5) Lost: small apricot poodle. Reward. Neutered. Like one of the family.

6) Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children

7) Nordic Track $300. Hardly used. Call Chubbie.

8) Found: Dirty white dog. Looks like rat. Been out awhile. Better be reward.

9) Hummels — largest selection ever. “If it’s in stock, we have it!”

10) Georgia Peaches, California grown — 89 cents/lb.

11) Nice parachute: never opened — used once, slightly stained

12) Tired of working for only $9.75 per hour? We offer profit sharing and flexible hours. Starting pay — $7-9 per hour

13) For sale by owner — complete set of Encyclopedia Brittanica. 45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1,000 obo. No longer needed. Got married last weekend. Wife knows everything.

14) LOST: One-eyed, three-legged male dog. Answers to the name “Lucky.”

 I’m going to share with you one of my “pet peeves.” I don’t like the word “lucky.” And, no, it has nothing to do with the ad above. I enjoy many good things in life. I have a lot of wonderful things happen to me. And there are times that I am tempted to say, “You know, I’ve been pretty lucky.” But then I recall that my good fortune is due not to luck or happenchance, but to the hand of Almighty God. I’m not lucky; I’m blessed! God has richly provided for me in ways far beyond what I expect or deserve.

 Can you picture Esther saying, “Wasn’t it lucky that the king was willing to hear my plea?”? Can you picture Paul saying, “Wasn’t it lucky that we weren’t killed in that shipwreck?”? Can you picture Daniel saying, “Wasn’t it lucky that the lions didn’t eat me?”?

 Then why would I dare speak of how “lucky” I’ve been in my life? It’s not luck — it’s the providential care of a loving God!

 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…..” (James 1:17James 1:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.

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). Thank you, Father, for blessing my life so richly!

Alan Smith

A man who paid for sin

Tonight a man told me he was going to “make a confession” and this is precisely what he did.  He spoke of how he had spent time with and money on women like Rahab (Jas. 2:25Jas. 2:25
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25 And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way?

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).

The bluntness of this man’s confession reminded me of 1 John 1:91 John 1:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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:  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This passage, of course, was written to Christians and it contains an important truth.  God tells His people to confess their wrongs.  Rather than hint about what we have done, overlook what we have done, or just “summarize things,” God says confess

God already knows what we have and have not done, but He still requires His people to acknowledge their wrongs.  This act encourages us to avoid the things we have done wrong and it is an on-going reminder of God’s grace.

Are we someone who truly confesses our sins to God?

I found an error in the Bible

Within the last year i-pads, smart phones,  and e-book readers have become immensely popular.  These devices are so commonplace many Christians now read the Bible in an electronic format. 

If you use any electronic device to read the Bible, please bear in mind this warning:  You may find a mistake.  Over the last few years I have found at least three errors in the electronic version of the Bible I use and the latest one popped up today. 

The ASV of 1901 is supposed to say:  “and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.”  An electronic version of this passage says:  “and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of them and women.”

While “e-errors” may be relatively rare in our electronic forms of the Bible, they are there!

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Any idiot can face a crisis…

How has your life been going this week? Have you been facing any struggles, problems or difficulties? If you have as someone said, “Situation Normal”.

I ran across a really interesting quote this week that helps us put things into perspective. Anton Chekhov wrote, “Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s the day to day living that wears you out.” If you think about it, that is very much just common sense! It does not take a college degree to understand that concept, because that is what REAL life is like.

Our world seems to put a lot of emphasis on things being “perfect”. We want the perfect mate, perfect children, a perfect job, a perfect family or in short, a “perfect life”. I don’t know where our society has come up with their definition of what “perfect” is in any of those categories, but I dare say that none of us is approaching perfection in any of them.

Perfection in earthly things is a man made (or perhaps woman made also) concept. You may or may not have seen the movie “the Stepford wives”. The idea behind it is that the wives of the men in the town of Stepford were altered to become “the men’s” idea of perfection. They behaved in a certain way and talked in a certain way because they literally were programmed to do so.

The point is that none of us live what might be called “perfect” lives here on this earth. We all face struggles, most of the time on a daily basis and most of the time they are known only to us. My life might look perfect to you, because I don’t share my inner struggles or turmoil with you, you see only the crisis times that can’t be hidden. The problem is that as mister Chekhov said, “Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s the day to day living that wears you out.”

So how do we do it, how do we survive our day to day life? I know it seems almost too simple to many people, but the apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:71 Peter 5:7
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7 casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.

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, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.”

In 1932 Charles Frederick wrote the words of a hymn (No one ever cared for me like Jesus), that describes our relationship with God. Notice those words:

“I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus, Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true. I would tell you how He changed my life completely; He did something no other friend could do. No one ever cared for me like Jesus; There’s no other friend so kind as He. No one else could take the sin and darkness from me; O how much He cared for me”

Who do you trust to keep you safe and lift you up from the day to day attacks by Satan? Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:26Proverbs 28:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; But whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

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, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe”.

Are you walking daily in the wisdom that comes through a deep relationship with the Lord? If not, then you are probably struggling more than you need. I’m not saying that all of your problems will disappear, but it will help you put them in perspective! You see, this life is only temporary and eventually we are going to get to live forever with our Lord! No more worries, no more problems! So hang in there and hold fast to the Lord Jesus!

Russ Lawson

A 30-day indulgence in sin

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Yesterday a man told me of how he has gone through several difficulties in his life.  Because his past circumstances have been so hard, he decided to indulge in some heavy drinking to ease his pain.  He told himself he would only drink for one month.  This 30-day indulgence turned into four years of drinking and he sometimes drank a half gallon of liquor a day.

Now, after getting involved with the Indiana court system because of his drinking, he openly acknowledges the truth found in Prov. 20:1Prov. 20:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise.

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:  “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise.”

A new year has come.  Make smart, wise, and Biblical choices. 

Brad, www.abiblecommentary.com

Congratulations On Your New Location

A man opened a new business and his best friend sent him a floral arrangement. The friend dropped by a few days later and was sorry to see the flowers had a card that read, “Rest In Peace.” He called the florist to complain, and the florist said, “It could be worse. Somewhere in this city is an arrangement in a cemetery that reads, “Congratulations On Your New Location.” Spiritually speaking, the same message could be sent to those who have died to sin and been buried with Christ in baptism. Romans 6:3-4Romans 6:3-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

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reminds us that baptism plays a vital role in changing our spiritual location! That passage reads, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” A simple and unbiased reading of this passage makes clear that baptism is a burial that blesses!

Baptism blesses first of all because it is “into Jesus Christ.” Spiritually speaking, there are and always will be only two spheres of spiritual existence: either “in Christ” or “in the world.” The difference in these two spiritual locations in writing is a matter of only a few letters, but the difference in reality is incalculable. Salvation is “in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:102 Timothy 2:10
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10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

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); eternal life is “in His (God’s) Son” (I John 5:11John 5:11
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11 But he answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

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); every spiritual blessing is located “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3Ephesians 1:3
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3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:

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); and for those who are “in Christ” there is now “no condemnation” (Romans 8:1Romans 8:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.

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). The list could go on and on, but those who are “in Christ” are in a sphere of comprehensive and superlative spiritual provisions! Contrast that to those who are not in Christ: “without Christ …. having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12Ephesians 2:12
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12 that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

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Baptism blesses again because it is “into His (Christ’s) death.” That is, baptism gives us access to the benefits of Christ’s death! A bank may have millions of dollars in its vault. But all that money helps an individual not one bit unless he/she can access it. Baptism buries us into Christ’s death, thereby giving us access to all the things Jesus died to accomplish for us (forgiveness, salvation, sanctification, etc.).

Baptism blesses yet again because after burial into Christ’s death we are raised to walk in “newness of life.” Baptism is a tomb where we bury the old man of sin. But it is also a womb from which God raises us to “newness of life.” While debates about baptism continue among believers in Christ, the Bible clearly portrays baptism as a burial that blesses!

Dan Gulley