Archives for : June2011

$18,000 cell phone bill

Do you own a cell phone? Do you think your monthly bill is high? The amount you pay is surely far less than the bill received by Bob and Mary St. Germain.

This couple received a bill of nearly $18,000 from Verizon Wireless back in 2006 and it was not a mistake. The St. Germain’s son believed he had free data downloads and used at least 816,000 plus kilobytes which led to the nearly $20,000 bill.

Although an $18,000 cell bill is hard to imagine, it is insignificant when compared to the problem of sin. God says sin separates man from his Maker (Isaiah 59:1-2). God also says the valuable things in life–items such as “silver and gold”–cannot pay the debt for sin (1 Peter 1:18).

If we are old enough to be accountable for our actions, we have been stained by sin (Romans 3:10, 23) and we need the “the lamb of God” who “takes away the sin of the world” (John. 1:29, ASV).

If we have not been “loosed” from our sins by the “blood” of the lamb (Revelation 1:5), here is what we need to do:

* Have faith; we cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). * Decide to repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30).

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

* We must find someone to baptize (immerse) us into the body of Christ (Galatians 3:27) for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). This body is designated as the “Churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16).

Christ has paid our sin debt (Romans 5:6-9), so let us submit to him today.

Verbal mistakes by preachers

“As you know we like to have the truth properly confounded here, so we invite you back tomorrow night to hear brother ____ dispense with the gospel once again”; “Let me assure you that we have gathered here for no other purpose than to think on worldly things”; “It would simply be impossible for one to attend every service and get anything out of the sermons”; “We pray that if there has been any spark of revival lit during this meeting that the Lord will water that spark”; “We are thankful that brother ___ had the audacity to respond to last night’s invitation.” I once read [though difficult to believe actually happened] of a nervous usher who, in asking a lady to move to another seat, said: “Mardon me padom, but you’re occupewing the wrong pie. If you’ll arise and findly kollow me, I’ll sew you to your sheet!”

–Tom Wacaster

A good sermon on modesty

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Aim: to remind women of the need for modesty in worship.

Thesis: all clothing makes a statement – our worship attire especially ought to communicate purity.

TURN to Proverbs 7. In Proverbs the wise man is passing along some friendly advice to young men, and one of the first dangers he highlights is the danger of adultery. He warns against it in all of Chapter 5 – then returns to the subject in Chapter 6 – and then illustrates it again in Chapter 7!

READ Verses 6-27. This vivid little vignette is a reminder that even back then, in the days of Solomon, young men could be naïve and foolish, and women could be just as sorry as men.

This entire passage is a striking story, but I want to call our attention to one verse in particular. Did you notice that when Solomon describes this individual intent on infidelity, he says in Verse 10 she was “dressed like a prostitute”?

QUESTION: Why does Solomon call attention to her clothing? Because our clothing always makes a personal statement. The fashions we choose reflect our personality, and our outer wear is an extension of our inner values.

Why was this wayward wife dressed like a streetwalker? She had chosen apparel that advertised her availability: the message of the clothing she had selected was saying loud and clear, “I may be married, but I’m not moral.” To put it bluntly, her outfit was an invitation to a proposition. Our clothing always makes a personal statement.

That is worth remembering, because we are Christians, and we don’t want to send the wrong message! And that is worth remembering, because as American society becomes increasingly coarse and vulgar and immoral, Christians need to be ever more careful that we don’t inadvertently project a worldly image.

Let me be blunt: given the current fashions in our culture, if a woman was dressed like a prostitute today, she would fit right in! And that’s not just my opinion: Jennifer Moses, a Jewish writer and the mother of teenage daughters, recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That? (March 19-20, 2011, p. C-3). In it she asks:

“Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this – like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves – but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?

With the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily.”

More and more women in our world, both young and old, are wearing less and less. And, they are wearing those provocative outfits in settings in which previous generations would have been ashamed to be seen, including worship assemblies.

This morning’s lesson is a gentle reminder that we all need to think twice about the message our clothing presents, and it has a special application to the ladies for two reasons:

First, today’s sermon is being preached by special request. In the past couple of months several of our ladies have asked me specifically if I would address the subject, because they are concerned about fashion trends in our society and their negative effects on young ladies.

I am sympathetic to the challenges that ladies face when shopping for clothing, because fashions are often dictated by worldly, even ungodly designers, many of them homosexuals who don’t necessarily have a woman’s best interests at heart. And styles are becoming increasingly casual, even at church, which might lull individuals into becoming careless about the decency of their clothing, especially now that we are in the summer months.

Second, men and women are wired differently – men are more easily tempted visually. Jesus recognized this in Sermon on the Mount: in Matthew 5:28 when he says “If a MAN looks at a woman lustfully, he has committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In our series on the life of David last year we saw that when the king was on the roof of his palace, and caught a glimpse of Bathsheba, his eyes led him into sin and ultimately led the nation into civil war.

But honestly, if the situation had been reversed and it was Bathsheba up on the roof, and David in the tub…..well, she might have had a good laugh, but that’s as far as it would have gone.

So ladies, on behalf of all the men, I’m asking you to have some consideration for your brothers, and make sure you’re not a distraction or a temptation. Don’t come to worship with thigh-high hemlines and down-to-there necklines; skintight slacks, skimpy skirts, or short shorts; or backless, strapless, shameless, clueless outfits. Casual clothing is ok – carnal clothing is not.

I want all our ladies to look their best. But if your fashion is not modest, you’ll attract the wrong kind of attention from men and you’ll make the wrong kind of statement about your character. If you have any doubts about the appropriateness of your apparel, find a trusted, mature Christian woman, and ask her.

If you think I have been singling out the ladies, you are half-right. So far I have been speaking to the ladies this morning, but that doesn’t mean men don’t have wardrobe malfunctions of their own. So let me close with some suggestions for us men:

Guys, be sure to read the message on your t-shirt to make sure you aren’t a walking advertisement for worldliness.

Don’t come into worship wearing a baseball cap, cowboy hat, or doo rag – 1 Corinthians 11:7 says that a man worships with his head uncovered as a sign of respect to God.

And if you decide to have a mid-life crisis, don’t show up on Sunday with your shirt half-unbuttoned, because nobody wants to see your hairy chest, even if you are wearing a gold chain on it.

Both men and women should remember that all clothing makes a statement – and while we should be modest seven days a week, our worship attire especially ought to communicate purity of character and reverence towards God. Paul is speaking of the worship assembly in 1 Timothy 2:9 when he says, “I want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety.”

A few moments ago we saw that Solomon’s picture of the wayward wife on the prowl in Proverbs 7 said “She was dressed like a prostitute.” I can never read that passage without thinking of a former prostitute I counseled many years ago. She and her husband came to me from another city and they were having severe marriage problems. They were an unusual pair: he was a wealthy professional; she had once been a streetwalker in New Orleans. And even though she had become a Christian, was now married, and had a couple of kids, this lady had never updated her wardrobe!

Her clothing was, quite frankly, embarrassing. It was one of those situations where I never knew where to look, and I probably made her husband uncomfortable, because I ended up staring at him much of the time!

I helped them patch up their marriage, but as we were concluding what I thought was our last session, the woman asked if she could come back the next week by herself to discuss some personal issues. When she returned, the first thing she said was, “I don’t like the way men look at me. It makes me feel cheap.”

I gently asked, “Do you think it has something to do with your wardrobe?”

“But Dr. Dan, this is all I’ve ever known. Tell me what to do?”

Now, fashion advice is way out of my league, but every so often in a counseling session I get an inspiration, and this time the light bulb went on. I asked the lady, “Do you read any of those women’s magazines? You know, Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, etc.”

“Yes.” “Well, here’s your homework assignment. Take your magazines, thumb through several issues, and cut out pages that represent the way you think men look at you now. Then cut out some pages that represent the way you want them to look at you. Bring them both back to me next week.”

When she returned for her next session the lady was more enthusiastic than I had ever seen her. She had two file folders filled with pages ripped out of magazines. The first folder contained page after page of lingerie ads. “This is how I’ve been presenting myself in public,” she explained. And she was right – up until now her wardrobe had indeed resembled lingerie.

When she opened the second folder, I was surprised. It contained only one photo: of a cowgirl at the rodeo, in boots, jeans, a plaid shirt, and a cowboy hat. I asked, “Is that the way you want to present yourself?” She said firmly, “That’s the image I want.”

I asked her only one question: “Does your husband have a credit card?” The lady laughed, left, and I never saw her again.

A couple of years later, however, I received a letter in the mail. There was no return address, just a postmark from a town in Montana. Puzzled, I opened it, but there wasn’t any identifying information inside, either. No letter, no name, just a small color photo……of a smiling cowgirl, standing with a happy husband and grinning children, and every one of them was dressed in Western wear!

Remember: the fashions we choose reflect our personality, and our outer wear is an extension of our inner values. Let’s make sure the apparel we wear in worship, and every day, communicates a reverence for God!

June 12, 2011 Dan Williams

Sermon: “Modesty” College Avenue church of Christ

Text: Proverbs 7:6-27 El Dorado, Arkansas

Where to buy a copy of the Koran

Islam claims you need to know Arabic to really get the true meaning of the Koran, but it still seems to push various English translations of this so-called “Holy Book.”  I am no expert on the Koran, but one of the better translations seems to be the one done by Asad.  This version used to be sent free upon request, but now it is “free” if you pay $8.95 for shipping.  This is a BIG BOOK so there is definitely some cost to ship it.

If you do a little exploring at you will find that “Opinion Leaders & Policymakers” are offered a free copy of the Koran (they do not pay for the book or shipping).

If you want a good copy of the Koran for your religious library, pay the $8.95 for this version.  You can order it at

How NOT to escape from prison

I HAVE ALWAYS been a fan of Alfred Hitchcock…

In one of his classic TV episodes, he dramatized the story of a wicked woman who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.  In a courtroom scene, the angry woman screamed at the judge and vowed that, no matter where she was imprisoned, she would escape and come back to make him sorry that he had sentenced her.

Guards removed her and she took that infamous bus ride to prison.  En route, she noticed something which was to become part of her escape plan.  She saw an old man, a prison inmate, covering up a grave outside the prison walls.  She soon realized that the only way she could escape was to get a key to the prison’s gate.  And the only inmate who had a key was the old man who assisted in the burial of dead prisoners.  In fact, he not only buried them, but he also built the caskets in which they were buried.  His job included rolling the casket onto an old grave cart outside the walls, lowering it into the hole, and covering it up with dirt.

The old man was going blind and needed cataract surgery.  The woman discovered this fact and approached the old man, telling him that if he would help her escape, outside the walls she had enough money to pay all of his medical expenses.  He could have his eyes completely fixed.

At first, he said, “No, ma’am.  I can’t do that.”

“Oh, yes, you can,” she replied.  “Outside of this place, I have all the money you need to pay for your cataract surgery.  If you help me get out of here, I will give you that money.  If you ever hope to have an operation, you will help me escape.”

Finally, the man reluctantly gave in.  Here was the plan.  The next time she heard the toll of the bell which signaled the death of an inmate, she would slip down to his workroom where he made his caskets.  She was to locate the casket in which the old man had placed the corpse, then secretly slide herself into that same casket and pull the top down tightly.  Early the next morning, the old man would roll her along with the corpse in the casket, out to the place of burial.  He would drop the casket into the hole, dump a little dirt on it, and the next day he would come back, uncover the grave, release the lid on the casket, and she would be free.

A perfect plan…almost.

Late one night she heard the toll of the bell.  Someone had died.  This was her moment!  She secretly slid off her cot and made her way down the hallway.  Looking into the dimly lit room she saw the casket, and without hesitation she lifted the lid and in the darkness slipped into the box.  After squeezing in beside the corpse, she pulled the lid down tightly.  Within a matter of hours she could feel herself being rolled to a grave site.  She smiled as the casket was placed in the hole and clumps of dirt began to hit the top of the casket.  Before long, she was sealed beneath the earth.  Yet she smiled.  In fact, she couldn’t contain her excitement.  She had done it!

Time began to drag.  The next day came and passed into the night and still the old man didn’t show up.  Now she began to worry.  Where was he?  What could possibly have gone wrong?  Why hadn’t he shown up?  She broke into a cold sweat.

In a moment of panic, she lit a match, glanced at the corpse next to her and discovered…the old man himself.  Her only hope lay buried right beside her.

THOUGHT: The greatest encouragement man will ever know is the giving of Jesus Christ to our world.  Through His death, burial, and resurrection, we can have HOPE of eternal life.  (David Jeremiah)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  1 Peter 1:3

–Mike Benson

Magic Mesh door –

It’s summer and you may have seen a commercial for the “Magic Mesh door.”  Like other interesting commercials, people want to know if the magic mesh door really works or if it is a gimmick.  If you have not seen a demonstration of the Magic Mesh door, you may want to visit

You may give your review for the Magic Mesh door below and (or) rate it with the following survey.

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Do you believe in UFO's?

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Last night, for the first time, I saw from our backyard what seemed to be four bluish lights in the sky moving in an unbelievably rapid rotation.  These lights went in multiple directions, merged for a fraction of a second, and then continued their unusual cycle.  The video and pictures I took left me with nothing but black sky.

I have no idea what caused these bizarre lights, but I do know they were caused by something.  Some type of intelligent power was behind this unusual display.

When we look at our environment – the moon, sun, stars, oceans, the human body and all the creatures on the earth and in the rivers and oceans – we must conclude that what we know to exist has been created.  Some type of intelligent design is behind our world and the Bible says this is God (Rom. 1:20).

As you look at things on the earth – rocks, trees, hills, mountains,  flowers, birds and bees – remember Ps 19:1:  “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”

Another V.P. Black sermon on giving

There are three attitudes manifested in the church of Christ concerning giving. And every member of this congregation embraces one of these attitudes.

Attitude Number One that is manifested by many is this: That God will punish me for liberal giving. But someone says, “Surely, Brother Black, no would say that God would punish an individual for liberal giving.” Yes, many, many people believe this. Did you ever hear a person say, “If I were to give as God has prospered me, I could not educate my children”? “If I were to give like the Bible teaches, I could not provide for the necessities of life”? “If I were to give like the Bible teaches, I could not provide for old age”? “Well, naturally, I want to educate my children. Naturally, I want to enjoy the necessities of life. Naturally, I want to provide for old age. But if I do—if I give as God has prospered me, all these will be taken away from me.” Why…that individual actually believes that God will punish him for liberal giving!

Attitude Number Two is this—that many embrace, obviously: That God does not care what I give. And again, I can hear someone say, “Now, Brother Black, surely…surely no one would say that God does not care what a person gives.” Well, let me read you something—this little paper, Just A Minute. Many congregations take it—published in Houston, Texas, by Brother Thurmon [spelling?]. Let me read you a question that was written to Brother Thurmon. “An Elder’s Example in Giving” is the title. This is a question someone wrote Brother Thurmon. It says,

Dear Brother Thurmon, An elder in our congregation made the statement on Sunday morning that, “It made no difference if we gave money or not. That was not important.”

So, here’s an elder in a church telling the members that God does not care what you give, or whether you give.

Attitude Number Three is this: That God blesses one for liberal giving.

Now, every individual in this auditorium embraces, consciously or unconsciously, one of these attitudes—if [whether] you believe that God will punish you for liberal giving, or you believe God doesn’t care, or you believe that God will bless one for liberal giving. Now, what we want to do in the next few minutes is to turn to the Bible to see if God cares about our giving, if God will punish us for our giving, or will He bless us for our giving. Now, if I know my heart—if the Bible teaches that God will punish one for liberal giving, that’s what I intend to teach with all the power of my being, that you may give, but God’s going to punish you for doing it…if the Bible teaches that. If the Bible teaches that God does not care what one gives, that’s exactly what I’m going to preach to the very best of my ability and with all my heart—that God does not care. If the Bible teaches that God will bless one for liberal giving, that’s what I intend to teach.

Now. Let us turn to the Bible and see which of these statements is true. So, we will begin in the Old Testament, and then come to the New Testament.

We will begin in Proverbs, the 3rd chapter, verses 9 and 10: “Honor the Lord with the first of all thine increase, and so shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst forth with new wine.” There are two words I want us to observe in verse 9, “Honor the Lord with the first of all thine increase…”—the word, “FIRST’, and the word, “ALL”.

The Bible places great emphasis upon the word, “first,” in our relationship to God. In 2 Kings, the 17th chapter, beginning with verse 8, there is a classis example. This is where Elijah had been in the wilderness, and the ravens had been feeding him, and he’s drinking from the brook. And the brook dried up, and the ravens ceased to feed him. And then, God spoke to Elijah and said, “Arise, and go to Zarephath…for I have a widow there who will sustain thee.” And Elijah obeyed the voice of God, went to this widow’s house, and when he arrived, she was gathering sticks. And Elijah said to here, “Bring me some water, that I may drink.” And while she was going to get the water, he said, “Fetch me a morsel of bread in thine hand, that I may eat.” And she said, “As the Lord God liveth, I have no bread. I only have a handful of meal. I’m going to bake a little cake. My son and I are going to eat it, and then die.” And Elijah told her, “If you will do this [if you will do as I have asked], as long as the famine lasts in this land, there will always be meal in the barrel to make bread for you and for your son.”

I don’t know that I can fully understand this. I really think I cannot. I was reared during the Depression. My father and mother had 10 boys, but I never remember going hungry. There are many of the luxuries of life that we did not enjoy. But to appreciate this, I want you, in your mind, to think…if you had just one small meal to eat when this service is over today, and then you’re going to die of starvation. There are no grocery stores in this county. Thousands of people have already died of starvation in this county. There’s no food in your house, except enough meal to make one little meal for you and your family, and than you’re going to die.

That was the circumstance of this widow. And Elijah said to her, “If you’ll go and do this, as long as the famine lasts in this land, every time you go to that barrel, there will be meal for you and for your son.” And the Bible says, “…she went…and did…according…to the saying…of Elijah.”

We talk about our faith in God today—how strongly we believe in God. Think of your faith in comparison to this widow. I’ve often thought in reading this, “Why didn’t Elijah say to her, ‘I tell you what you do. You go bake that little cake. You, your son and I will eat it, and then, if you do this, as long as the famine lasts in this land, there will be meal in the barrel for you and your son.” That isn’t what he said. He didn’t say, “You go bake that cake for you, your son and for me.” He said, “You go bake for me the little cake FIRST…”

Now, a question: Why did Elijah ask her to bake for him the little cake FIRST? That was the test of her faith. Why do you suppose Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you”? Why seek them FIRST? That’s the test of our faith!

In 2 Corinthians, the 8th chapter, beginning with verse 1, Paul said, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” Now notice verse 5: “5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first (there’s our word, “FIRST”) gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the Will of God.”

The context of this reading is that, there was a famine in Judea. The brethren over in Macedonia heard about the famine in Judea, and they prayed that they would let them have a part in it. I’ve often thought in studying this that the brethren in Macedonia were just about as poverty-stricken as the brethren were over in Judea! In Macedonia, there had been higher and higher taxation; there had been civil war after civil war; members of the church were being thrown into prison because of their faith in Christ; members of the church were being dismissed from their jobs; and yet, with all this poverty heaped upon them, when they heard of a need over in Judea, they prayed that they would let them have a part in it!

Now, the question is: Why was Macedonia so concerned about helping those poor people in Judea? Paul explains it in verse 5. He said, “…this they did… (speaking of the Macedonians). “…this they did, not as we hoped, but (they) first gave their own selvesto the Lord….” And let me tell you this, my friends, and listen carefully. Until an individual makes a complete surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ, he will always have a problem with his giving! You can write that DOWN on a piece of paper and put it on your refrigerator!! Until an individual makes a complete surrender to Jesus Christ, he will always have a problem with his giving! BUT, when this individual makes that complete surrender, there is no problem. He’s going to become serious about this thing. He’s going to think about how well he’s been blessed, what God has done for him, and then he’s going to say, “To the very best of my ability, I’m going to give as my God has prospered me.”

Now, let us go back to our text [Proverbs 3:9-10]. Notice: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all (ALL!) thine increase…”—the bank account; the CDs [Certificates of Deposit]; the cattle; the farm; the land. Think of everything, all the ways that God has blessed us. And then offer to God the FIRST of all these things.

Now, notice verse 10: “So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Someone wants to know, “Brother Black, how can God bless a man for liberal giving?” I…don’t…KNOW!! I just know that God said that He would do it! I know that a promise is no better than the capacity of the individual who made that promise to fulfill it! For instance: If I should say to you, “If you will meet me in Corinth tomorrow, I’ll give you a hundred-thousand dollars ($100,000.00).” Well, I made you the promise, and you say, “I believe Brother Black,” so you meet me in Corinth tomorrow, but I don’t have $100,000—I can’t give you $100,000. Well, what did I do? I made a promise that I do not have the capacity to fulfill.

So, every individual is faced with a problem: Does God have the ability to do what He said He would do? You need not raise your hand, but let me ask you: Do you believe that God has the capacity to do what He said He would do? Now, you just think for a moment. Well, somebody says, “How can God do it?” I don’t know HOW God can do it! That’s not my business! That’s GOD’S business!! But, my point is, do I believe God?

Let me read you another verse. Ecclesiastes 11:1: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Now notice Proverbs 11:24: “There is he that scattereth abroad, and yet he increases….” This is one of the strangest verses in the Bible. You think how contrary that is to our selfish nature, to our inverted ego! What?!? Take these things that God puts in my hands; I begin to scatter them, supporting the Lords word?!? Supporting orphan homes?!? Supporting Christian education?!? Supporting every good work to the best of my ability?!? I’ll come up empty handed!! Now, just think for a moment. Isn’t that what selfishness is? God puts these things in my hands; I begin to scatter them, doing good; I’ll come up empty-handed. What did GOD say about it? God says there’s the man “that scattereth abroad, and yet…he…INCREASES”!!

Somebody says, “How in the world could that happen?!” I don’t KNOW! If you ever get to heaven, you can ask GOD about it!! That’s our faith! That’s what God said—“There’s he that scattereth abroad, and yet he increases….” I know it’s true, first of all, because God said it; I know it’s true because I am experiencing it. If you’ve tried it, you know it’s true; if you’ve never tried it, then you’re not competent to talk about it! How in the world would you KNOW if you’ve never tried it?! Those who’ve tried it have testified over and over and OVER that God has blessed them for their liberal giving! They all testify to that fact. Those that don’t testify are those who’ve never tried it.

Now, I wish I didn’t have to treat the latter part of that verse, but it’s in there and I’ll read it: “and there is he that withholds more that meet, and [but] it tendeth to poverty.” Someone says, “How could God do that?” I don’t know. I just know God said, “There’s the man that scatterth abroad. I see that he increases.” There’s that man that’s selfish, holding it back, and God says, “I’ll see that it tendeth to lead him to poverty?” Which the meaning is simply this, that which we ought to give to God, and we do not give it, we’re not blessed with it. No, I don’t think a man’s ever been blessed with money that he holds back that he ought to give to God as he’s prospered.

For instance, let me give you an illustration. Now, this is just a simple little illustration. Well, here’s a man in this congregation—according to what God has blessed him, he should be giving $100.00 a week. There may be those who ought to be giving $500.00 a week, I don’t know, or $50.00a week. I don’t know what your prosperity is. But we’re, for the sake of illustration, [saying that] here’s a man who ought to be giving $100.00 a week. But notice that selfish reasoning. He said, “I’m not going to give the $100.00. I know God has blessed, and I ought to do it, but I’m going to keep $50.00 for myself.” Then I console myself by saying, “I’ll still be giving more than the average member of the church.” (And if this would make you feel any better, you’d be giving four or five times more than the average member of the church through out America [if you kept back $50.00 of what God had prospered you, and just gave the $50.00]).

I’m just as convinced as in your midst I stand that man is never blessed with that which he holds back, that he knows in his heart he ought to give to God according to what God has prospered him. Let me read the verse to you again: “There is [he] that scattereth [abroad], and yet [he] increaseth; and there is [the man] that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” Now, notice verse 25—that’s the verse we’re concerned about: “[But] The liberal soul shall be…made…fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself[or shall be watered again]” [Proverbs 11:25].

You know what our basic trouble is? We just…can’t…trust…God, can we? Oh, we believe in God—oh, yes. But do we trust God? You know, there’s a great difference in believing and in trusting.

Years ago, when our children were small, the Barnum and Bailey Circus came to Mobile, and our excuse for going, of course, was to take the children. And so, we went to the Circus. And it was really interesting. After they had done many, many things out there, finally there was a man down at the south end of the tent up on a platform—possibly like 30 or 35 feet above the audience. And he said, “If you will notice, there’s a cable stretched across the top of the tent, and this man on this bicycle is going ride that bicycle across that cable!” And I shall never forget… My son was about five or six years old—that age when they believe everything you tell them? And so, this excited my son, and he asked me, “Daddy, you believe he can do it?” And you know what I told him? I said, “Yes, son. I believe he can.”

Now just suppose some man sitting behind me had heard that conversation. So, this man on the platform says, “He’s getting ready to ride the bicycle across the cable. Is there any man in the audience who believes he can do it [and] will come up and ride on the handle bars with him?” And the man [sitting behind me who heard my conversation with my son] taps me on the shoulder. He raises his hand and says, “This man will ride with him! I just heard him tell his son [that] he believes you could do it!” There were not [There would not be] enough men in that tent to get me on the bicycle!

But someone said, “Did you believe he could do it?”

“Yes, sir, I believed he could do it.”

“Well, if you believed he could do it, why didn’t you ride with him?”

“I didn’t TRUST him!”

And that’s the way many believe in God! Oh, YES, I believe in God! I believe God will do what He said! But, do we trust God? Do we trust Him to the extent [that] we’ll do what He said? Oh, there’s a great difference in believing and in trusting. And our basic trouble with our giving—we just…can’t…trust God. Our faith is not that strong yet—that is, with many.

In Malachi, the 3rd chapter, beginning with verse 8, we read these words: “Will a man…rob God?” That’s some of the strongest language we read about in the Bible—“Will a man rob God?” Let me ask you, would you? Well, of course, you would say, “No.” Suppose I pass a slip of paper down each pew, and say [that] you can fold it up; you don’t have to put your name on it. [Then] I would ask, “Would you rob God?” What would you say? I have an idea [that] every individual would say, “No.” That’s what those Jews said. Malachi asked the question, “Will a man rob God?” And the Jews challenged him. They asked, “Wherein have we robbed Thee [God]?” He said, “In your tithes and in your offerings [“In tithes and offerings.”]. And you’re cursed with a curse: the whole nation is cursed, because you robbed Me [God].” [“Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation.”]

Well then, a question: How did they rob God? Well, in those days, they didn’t have the “First National Bank” or the mutual funds or the CD [Certificates of Deposit] system. So, people put their money—their wealth—in their cattle. And you know what those Jews were doing? The Jew would go out among his cattle and he found a cow that was sick. He knew the cow was going to die, and he says, “I’ll give that cow to God.” He’d keep looking; he’d find another cow that’s fallen into a ditch—she’d broken her hip. He said, “That cow can’t live, so I’ll take that cow and give it to God.” That’s what they were actually doing! And that’s when Malachi said to them, “Why don’t you offer that sick cow to your governor?” It’d be an insult! You won’t offer it to your governor, and yet, you offer it to God! And God said, “You’re cursed with a curse…. The whole nation is cursed, because you’ve robbed Me.”

And then, in verse 10, God said, “Bring all your tithes and offerings into My storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and PROVE ME….” Did you know that you can begin with the first chapter of Genesis; you can read through the last of Revelation, and in all of God’s dealings with mankind throughout all these years, as far as the Bible reveals, only one time God called upon man to prove Him? One time God said to man, “I want you to try ME. I want you to test Me. I want you to prove Me.” Notice what He said: “PROVE ME!…if I will not open [you] the windows of heaven, and fill you life with so many blessings that there might not be room enough in your life to receive them.” [Malachi 3:8-10: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”]

Praise God. What a commitment! What a promise! Now, does God have the capacity to do that? [He says,] “Prove Me; test Me; try Me, and see.”

But I can just hear someone ask in a Bible class, “How in the world could God fill a man’s life with so many blessings that he can’t receive all of them?” Well, let me give you a personal example.

Several years ago—back when I was a younger preacher—about 35 or 40 years ago, I received a letter from a church about a Gospel Meeting, and I laid that letter down and didn’t answer it, because I was going from one meeting to another. I came home the second week, and my wife said, “That number’s on your desk. Did you return it?” [“The telephone number that was in that letter about a Gospel Meeting is on your desk. Did you return, or make the call?”] I said, “No.” I’d return it, but I picked the number up and I went to a meeting in Toledo, Ohio. And I had that number in my pocket, and one night in my motel room I thought [that] this would be a good time to return this call. And it was a call from one of the elders at one of the great churches in the South. And this man said, “Brother Black, we’ve had an elder’s meeting, and we would like for you to move here and become our pulpit minister (whatever that is).” And I said, “Well, I don’t think I can do it.” And so, I did not go.

Well, somebody says, “Why wouldn’t you go?” Well, it was not because of the salary, because the elders…. This man told me, “We’ve had a meeting, and we’ve agreed in the meeting [that] if you would come and preach for us, we’d let you set your salary.” How would you like an offer like that?

So, I said, “No, I can’t come.” Now, listen to me carefully. At that time I was in this full-time meeting work. For many years, I had done local work. I could not continue doing the local work and at the same time be doing this meeting work that I was doing. I had to make a choice between this work, or this work. Either one of them would have been a great work! Doing the local work was a great work. Preaching at meetings was a great work. But, I had to make a choice! So, I made the choice to give up the local work and to go into meeting work. Ah, God was filling up my life with so many blessings [that] I couldn’t accept all of them! That’s how He does it!

If we could just trust God…. And the ONLY thing that God is asking us to do is to give back to Him as He has prospered us. And let me ask you, “What’s wrong with that?”

Now, in the concluding part of this lesson, I want you to turn with me to 2 Corinthians, if you will. And I want you to read some verses with me. The reason I want you to read these verses is because I’ve marked them in my Bible—you may mark your Bible; you may not.

Several years ago I was going to a place to lecture on “Stewardship,” and I was sitting in the preacher’s office, and I was going to discuss the 8th and the 9th chapters of 2 Corinthians, because both chapters talk about “giving.” And I was sitting there and quoting these chapters to myself to see if I’d be able to quote them when I stood before the congregation. Even though I’d memorized these chapters, I began to notice some things now, as I’m quoting them [to myself] that I’d never observed before after studying it over and over to memorize it.

So, I want to read to you the REWARDS in these few short verses that God offers to one for liberal giving. So, if you have your Bibles, 2 Corinthians, the 9th chapter. I want you to notice these statements. We’ll not read every verse—just part of it. Listen to it:

“…he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” verse 9. What’s he talking about? He’s talking about giving. Just suppose there wasn’t another statement in the Bible—[that] that’s the only statement made. That man that gives bountifully is going to reap bountifully!

Notice verse 7. (That was verse 6 [above—not verse 9]). “…God loveth a cheerful giver.” I don’t know. I thought God loved everybody. There must be a special love that God has for a cheerful giver—“God loveth a cheerful giver.”

Now, notice verse 8. I think verse 8 means more to me—possibly more—than any other one promise God’s ever made about our giving. “God…is able…to make all grace…abound toward you….” You know, if I’m saved, I’m going to have to be saved by the grace of God. We plan to talk about that one night. And what a glorious HOPE it is to hear God say, “I’m able to supply ALL the grace that you’ll ever need.” What a promise! What a reward! About what? For liberal giving. How can we read these things and still refuse to give liberally as God has prospered us?

And now, notice verse 9: “…His righteousness remaineth forever.” It shall not pass away. “His righteousness remaineth forever.”

Also notice verse 10: “…and [God] will multiply your seed sown….” I don’t know where every penny goes that I give. I don’t know where every penny goes that you give, but God knows where every penny of it went. And God will multiply the seed sown.

Now, notice verse 12: “…abundant…many thanksgivings unto God….” It’s going to motivate people to offer up thanks to God, because of what you’re doing.

And notice verse 13: “and they’ll glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ….”

And notice verse 14: “And [by] their prayer[s] for you….” What rewards! When people hear about your good deeds, about your good works, it’s going to motivate people to pray for you. I want people to pray for me. For years and years, there was a lady that lived down on the Florida line. She’s gone on to heaven now. But she was one of the finest ladies I think I ever knew. While she was living, just about every week or ten days I’d get a card from her, or a letter. And she’d say, “Brother Black, I know you travel a lot—stay on the road all the time. I want you to know I pray for you every night.” Oh, that meant a lot to me. James says, “The effectual fervent prayer of one man availeth much.” I want thousands of people to pray for V. P. Black! And Paul says [that] when they hear about your liberality, they’re going to pray for you.

Now, after offering all these rewards, notice what he says in verse 15. He changes the subject altogether, and says, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” I can’t describe that to you.

If you’re subject to the invitation, we invite you to come while we stand and sing.

Speaker: V. P. Black Date: April 11, 2004, Sunday Morning Worship Service During a Gospel Meeting Hosted by the Strickland church of Christ in Glen, Mississippi Main Scripture References: Luke 6:38


How well do you understand women?


The following guide has been composed (by “author unknown”) for men to translate what women say into what women really mean.

It’s your decision = “The correct decision should be obvious by now.”

Do what you want = “You’ll pay for this later.”

We need to talk = “I need to complain.”

We need = “I want”

I’m not upset = “Of course I’m upset, you moron!”

You’re so manly = “You need a shave and you sweat a lot.”

This kitchen is so inconvenient = “I want a new house.”

Hang the picture there = “NO, I mean hang it there!”

I heard a noise = “I noticed you were almost asleep.”

Do you love me? = “I’m going to ask for something expensive.”

How much do you love me? = “I did something today you’re really not going to like.”

I’ll be ready in a minute = “Kick off your shoes and find a good game on TV.  It’s going to be a while.”

What’s wrong?  Nothing = “Everything.”

Okay, okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration (translation:  “maybe I can still get out of this without taking too much grief”).  But one of the greatest challenges for men and women is in the realm of communication, isn’t it?  And men, God has given us a tremendous responsibility toward our mates:

“Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” (I Peter 3:7)

With understanding?  Yes, with understanding.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing you have given me through my wife.  She is truly the joy of my life.  As I daily try to express my love for her, help me to grow in my understanding of her, my patience toward her, my expressions of appreciation for her, my willingness to admit wrong and my willingness to forgive her.  In Jesus Christ, Amen.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Be glad you do not live under the Old Testament

Have you ever stopped to consider how many sacrifices were made under the Old Testament?  One is almost shocked at just the lambs that were sacrificed.  Consider the following entry about “lamb sacrifices” from Easton’s Bible Dictionary:

Lamb: Heb. kebes, a male lamb from the first to the third year. Offered daily at the morning and the evening sacrifice (Ex 29:38-42), on the Sabbath day (Num 28:9), at the feast of the New Moon (28:11), of Trumpets (29:2), of Tabernacles (13-40), of Pentecost (Lev 23:18-20), and of the Passover (Ex 12:5), and on many other occasions (1 Chron 29:21; 2 Chron 29:21; Lev 9:3; 14:10-25).

Now God has provided THE lamb (Jn. 1:29, 36) to take away the world’s sins.

Brad Price

Peeling away the outer layers of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount

 I’ve heard two stories lately with a common theme:

 Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick tells a story from his own childhood days. His father had said to his mother, upon leaving the house one Saturday in the morning hours: “Tell Harry that he can cut the grass today, if he feels like it.” Then, halfway down the walk, his father turned once more to add: “And tell Harry that he had better feel like it.”

 A similar story:

 A new elementary school was raising the American flag for the first time. To make the day special, they had invited a Marine Corps color guard to come out and perform the duty for them. The day before the ceremony, the Marine in charge of the unit called to confirm directions to the school. After doing so, he was asked by the school secretary whether he was sending Marines who like children. There was a brief pause on the other end of the line before the man replied, “Ma’am, if I tell them to like children, they will like children.”

 Both of those stories emphasize the point that there is a big difference between doing something and wanting (or liking) to do it. And, as much as a father or a Marine sergeant may command someone to enjoy what they’re doing, it’s just not that simple!

 I wish that it was! I can make Christians attend worship, but what I really desire is for them to WANT to attend worship. I can make Christians give more, but what I really desire to for them to WANT to give more. I can make Christians serve in a variety of capacities, but what I really desire is for them to WANT to serve more. It’s so much harder to change what people want to do than it is to change what they do.

 But it’s not just hard to change it in others — it’s hard to make that change in my own life as well. I often find myself thinking that I need to pray more, study more, visit more, when what I’d really, really like to find such joy in those things that I WANT to do them more.

 When you peel away the outer layers of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and get to the core of what Jesus is saying, this is the principle you find. Jesus doesn’t just want followers who don’t murder; he wants his followers to WANT to live in love. He doesn’t just want followers who don’t commit adultery; he wants his followers to WANT to be people of commitment and integrity. He doesn’t want followers who merely DO the right thing; he wants followers who WANT to do the right thing. He doesn’t just want the actions; he wants the heart.

 “Now the purpose of the comamndment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” (I Timothy 1:5)

 I continue to struggle with how to change people’s hearts. I continue to struggle with how to change my own heart. May we seek to submit ourselves to the only One who can shape and mold us into what we were made to be.

Alan Smith

The wolf and the lamb feeding together

In that marvelous vision known as the “Peaceable Kingdom” (which we find in Isaiah 65), there is the image of the wolf and the lamb feeding together. Well, let me tell you a story about that. Back in the days of pre-perestroika Russia … when hers was a name that made all of us tremble: the Russians brought an exhibit to the World’s Fair that was entitled “World Peace.” In it was a large cage. And in the cage were a little lamb and a Russian wolf … feeding peaceably together. As an exhibit, it was most impressive. And as the fair unfolded, it was spectacularly attended. One day, however, somebody asked the curator the obvious question: “How in the world do you do it?” To which he replied: “Oh, it’s really very simple. We replace the lamb every morning.”

-Peter Gome

Are you like a firecracker or rifle shell?

Did you know there is approximately the same amount of gunpowder in a firecracker as in a rifle shell? But the firecracker is unfocused. It just makes a big noise and accomplishes nothing. The rifle shell, on the other hand, focuses that power in a specific direction and delivers an enormous punch.

You can be a firecracker Christian or a rifle shot Christian. It’s a matter of focus. Paul was a highly focused, rifle shot Christian. He declared, “I press toward the mark for the high call of God in Christ Jesus.”

You can be a firecracker parent or a rifle-shot parent. One makes a lot of noise. The other gets results. It’s a matter of focus. Be cautious about “firecrackers” – Source unknown

How to search the Koran

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Do you have a copy of the Koran?  If not, you should realize this is a BIG BOOK.  My copy of the Koran, which is hardback, weighs about 25 pounds. 

If you have ever looked at the Koran and wondered how you can find out what it teaches on a certain topic or subject, say a quick prayer of thanks for the Internet.  There are online web sites that offer something like a concordance search for the Koran.  This is a great research tool for people like preachers when they want to find information on things like the Koran’s disdain for Jesus’ deity.

When I say disdain for the Lord’s deity, I am not overstating things.  Consider what the Koran says in Surah 19:88-89:

They (“Christians”) say: “(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!”   Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! 

If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, and this is essential to being saved (1 Jn. 4:15), the Islamic faith says you have a “monstrous” belief.  

 Some of the Koran online search services (which are free) include:

Thankless jobs

     I heard recently about a stay-at-home Mom. One evening she went to a PTA meeting and her husband and her oldest daughter got together and decided they would clean up the kitchen for her. They put up all the food, wiped all the counters, washed all the pots and put them away, put the dishes in the dishwasher and ran it. They swept and mopped the floors and then sat down, and awaited her arrival.

     Two hours later she returned from the meeting, took off her coat, hung it up, walked through the kitchen into the den, grabbed the remote control, and began watching television. They followed her over to her chair and stood by her side. Finally she felt them looking over her shoulder and looked up at them and said, “What?”

     Her husband said, “The kitchen.”

     “The kitchen. What?”

     “The kitchen. We cleaned up the kitchen. Didn’t you notice? It’s sparkling clean. We cleaned it for you.”

     The woman replied, “Yes, I noticed. Thankless job, isn’t it?”

     It is so true that a lot of what our wives and mothers do goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Please don’t let that happen in your home! But the same thing can happen at work or around the church. My guess is that there are many people around you who do important tasks but who go unnoticed and unappreciated.

     For example, when is the last time you thanked one of your elders for the work that they do? These men have a very difficult job that involves a great deal of responsibility (and they likely don’t get paid a dime for their efforts). They spend countless hours leading, guiding, shepherding the flock. Take a moment to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.

     Most churches give much thought to the teachers for their children’s Bible classes (except when they’re absent!). We just assume they’ll just show up and do their job, without considering the hours of preparation each week, not to mention their willingness to deal with a room full of active (and sometimes unruly) children week after week. Take a moment to let your children’s teachers know how much you appreciate them.

     The list could go on and on because there are so many people around you who serve in so many ways, and many of them don’t want the spotlight. They prefer to work behind the scenes. But, please don’t take the efforts of others for granted.  Keep your eyes open to the good work that others are doing and “Render therefore to all their due…honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:7). Thank you to all of you who serve in a variety of “thankless jobs.”

Alan Smith

Matthew Henry bible commentary

Matthew Henry is an older resource as far as Bible commentaries go, but he still seems to be popular.  About 3,000 people a month search for his Bible commentaries .

I have added the Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible to and will be adding the entire six volumes of his online bible commentary over the next week or so.

My use of Matthew Henry rarely involves exegetical work.  For me, his value seems to come from those times when I get “stuck” and need just a thought or two to get moving in the right direction.  He often provides just enough insight to help finish out a sermon, Bible class, etc.

If you use Matthew Henry’s commentary, please take  a moment to complete this survey:

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Online Bible commentary

To help those interested in the Bible find the online bible commentary information available through I have added a new page:  On line Bible commentaries are a useful tool in the Scriptures and the web site offers a wide variety of online commentaries from both the Old and New Testaments.

Another attempt to help people find the free online bible commentary resources is:

If you know of anyone looking for online Bible commentaries or a Bible commentary online, please share with them.

A message for all grandparents

Proverbs 16:31 contains a gem of divine wisdom our world desperately needs to affirm- “The silver haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.  ”God does not view older people or gray hair the way many in our culture do.  This bit of divine wisdom reminds us that God’s thoughts very often are not man’s thoughts, and that God often esteems what man tends to eschew.  No matter how culture at large sees gray hair, the church of the living God must affirm the worth and value of older people and we must not diminish the important role they play in our families and in God’s family!

We have a word that describes a gray-haired person whose children now have children- that word is “grandparent!”  Think about that word!  A grandparent has the opportunity to be a“grand”parent! Grandparents have already been around the parenting track more than a few times!  Most of them learned through experience where the potholes and slick spots are located on the race-track of life.   And not a few of them learned many things NOT to do as a parent!  In more cases than not they have invaluable insight and contributions to make to the younger generation struggling with the enormous challenge of being good parents.  We would do well to listen to the counsel and advice of our “grand-parents!”

Erma Bombeck hit the nail on the head about grandparents with this statement- “A grandmother will put the sweater on you when she is cold, feed you when she is hungry, and put you to bed when she is tired.  ”Dave Barry said about grandparents, “You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods of time, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida at the earliest opportunity.  ”  Seriously, grandparents have a grand opportunity to continue helping their families.  What can they do? G- They can set aGodlyexample for young people living in an ungodly age.   R- They can beReliablein a world of where many cannot be trusted to be honest.   A- They can give sound advice in place of the world’s junk-thinking.   N- They canNurturetheir grandchildren when others are too busy for kids.   D-They can giveDirection in a confused world that says any which way will do.   Grandparents – we salute you and thank God for you, for your are truly “grand!”

–Dan Gulley

Why I no longer attend worship

A Christian brother and I went to eat while attending a college lectureship. We were joking with the waitress who seemed rather frustrated with the crowd. We inquired about her religion and she answered: “I quit attending a church because I serve so many impatient Christians.” This hit me hard so I observed the customers. They were rude and demanding. This taught me a great lesson. Nine thousand Christians had assembled to fellowship; our giants were there to lecture; the lectures were powerful enough to convert any sinner; many new programs, missions, and plans were announced. But this lady didn’t hear those sermons. She just saw 9,000 people whose religion had not made them courteous and kind. She saw 9,000 demanding, rude, loud, overbearing people! And if this was Christianity, she didn’t want any part of it. Perhaps this was just her excuse and if so God will judge! But I’m persuaded that more people are saved or lost by trivial courtesies than by good or bad sermons.

The best sermon cannot touch the man whose heart has been touched by the Christian who doesn’t care about people and their feelings. It really is the “little things in life that count.” It is the smile, the thought, the pleasant word, the patience, the name, the handshake. Trivialities can become tragedies–the frown, the hard statement, the impatience, the rudeness. Christians be thoughtful, courteous and kind. CHRISTIANS BE CAREFUL! God is watching! Children are watching! Friends are watching! Total strangers are watching!

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful in much; and he that is unjust in the least is also unjust in much” [Luke 16:10].

–Source unknown

A GREAT tool for all writers and speakers

Are you familiar with  “Wordcounter” is a great resource for any speaker and writer.

The purpose of is given on their web site and here is a summary of what this service does:

“Wordcounter ranks the most frequently used words in any given body of text. Use this to see what words you overuse (is everything a “solution” for you?) or maybe just to find some keywords from a document.”  Also, “Wordcounter is useful for writers, editors, students, and anyone who thinks that they might be speaking redundantly or repetitively — and it’s free!”

If you have tried let others know what you think about it with this survey:

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