Archives for : August2011

We are admonished in Scripture to redeem the time wisely

Time is a precious commodity that each of us has in equal proportion.  We are all given 24 hours in the day, and 365 days in a year.  We are admonished in Scripture to redeem the time wisely. This simply means I am to buy up the opportunities that come my way, and select with great wisdom and prudence how, and upon what, I will spend those precious hours in each day.  There is an accumulative effect of the use of time. For example, in an average 70 year life span, the average person will sleep more than 23 years of his life away (assuming 8 hours of sleep per night).  Over that same 70 year life span you will spend roughly 14 years working, 6 years eating, and 5 years traveling (fortunately, not all at once).  By the same token, time wasted has an accumulative effect, and over the long haul will rob us of a great deal of what could otherwise be significant accomplishments.  Think, for example, about the time we spend watching television. The average American (according to those infamous “polls”) watches TV 6 hours per day. Now that really seems a little high, so lets reduce that by 30%, and use a bench mark of 4 hours per day. That amounts to 28 hours per week, 1460 hours per year, for an accumulative total of more than 72,000 hours in 50 years. Whew! It staggers the imagination.  That is more than 8 years of television!

Now, in comparison, let us consider the “average” time spent in spiritual matters!  If we were to begin the day of our birth spending five minutes each morning and evening in prayer and meditation (which is more than most people spend), and three hours per week in church, at age 70 we would have invested a total of just over 20 months!  Even if one was to spend an additional three hours per week in diligent study of the Bible at home, that would amount to a total of 3.6 years in spiritual involvement of some kind.  Lest you begin to feel that you are robbing from God, let me encourage you with this observation:  Our service to the Lord is not only measured by the hours we spend in worship and study.   Our devotion to God is measured by how we live each and every day.   We are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-14).  How we conduct ourselves in business and pleasure is as much a part of a demonstration of our devotion to God as is our weekly worship to Him.

Unfortunately today’s generation has been raised on a steady diet of self indulgence, and along with that has been a proportionate increase in time spent in pleasure and reveling rather than productive labor and/or serious and sobering meditation.   One author hit the nail on the head when he made this observation:  ‘It is a sad consequence of evolutionary theory that many times people turn inward and only care about themselves…God prefers that we love Him first and put others ahead of ourselves, which means that there is always something positive to do for another.  Whether it is sharing heartaches or rejoicing in good news, we always have ways of benefiting others”  (Gary Summers, Spiritual Perspectives, 7-3-2011, page 3).   How we spend our time benefiting others in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is the difference between time well spent and time squandered on self.

Someone has said, “There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of each week.”  What can be said of the year is just as true with regard to the week, and even our day by day activities.  “We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work” (John 9:4).  I leave you with the words of an unknown poet:

When as a child, I laughed and wept, Time crept; When as a youth, I dreamed and talked, Time walked; When I became a full grown man,
Time ran; When older still I daily grew, Time flew; Soon I shall find in traveling on, Time gone!

by Tom Wacaster

Malaysian woman, 107, fears hubby No. 22 will leave her

I was very shocked to read about a Malaysian woman who is 107 year old and is married to a man who is 70 year younger than her.  I was even more shocked to read that this is her 22nd marriage!  In her previous marriages, some had died and some had divorced.  In this article she was expressing that she was afraid her current husband would leave her for a younger woman, but even if he did she had her eyes on a 50-year-old man.  If this was not already bad enough, her current husband expressed that they fell for each other because it was “God’s will” (CNN News).

What?  It was God’s will that this woman have 22 different husbands over the course of her life just so she eventually finds the one she is with now?  And God had this all planned out?  While many thoughts come to my mind in response to this, I will let God tell us what His will is.  1 Peter 4:1-3 says, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suf.fered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.  For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.” Then we are all familiar with other scriptures such as Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Malachi 2:6, etc.  Obviously God’s will for this couple was for them to cease from such sins as they were committing. So, this couple was absolutely not following God’s will.  God did not approve of this marriage, and likely many of the others before it.

While having the attitude of “God’s will be done” is a good and valid one, this only works when people are actually trying to let God’s will work in their lives.  The goal of this article was not to focus on divorce, but about letting God’s will work in our lives.  Thankfully, God has revealed His will to us in the Bible.  God’s will is never that we live in sin.  No matter what we may think or feel is right, let’s make sure we have God’s approval within the Bible.  Let’s close with Colossians 1:9-12, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”

Brett Petrillo

Hey, preacher, your prayer worked!

I teach a weekly Bible class to prisoners in a work release program.  Before each class begins I offer a prayer that makes mention of the men and women in this facility who are searching for employment, struggling with family issues, etc.

About a month ago a man who was in need of employment came to one of these Bible studies.  The prayer that night included a request for employment and the next morning this fellow was hired at a local business.

This man did not show up for the next few studies, but he did come out for tonight’s class.  He said he had been laid off from the job he received and he would appreciate another prayer.

I do not know why this man missed the last couple of studies at the work release center.  I do know that some treat prayer as little more than a giant wish list.  Many wait till they have a problem or emergency and then hope prayer will provide immediate relief from their crisis.

God is interested in our needs and problems, but He expects us to pray during the good times as well as the bad (Lk. 18:1; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17).

Be regular in prayer and make your prayers effective by being a righteous person (Jas. 5:16).

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

IF YOU BLOG, add reftagger.com!

Just added the wordpress plugin “reftagger” to each of my main blogs – http://www.abiblecommentary.com/blog/ and http://bumchecks.com/biblecommentary/.

As stated on the reftagger homepage, “RefTagger is a tool that lets your website visitors instantly view a Bible passage by hovering their mouse over a Bible reference.”

This is a free and GREAT service to help communicate God’s word to people who use the Internet.

Life without Jesus

I have a vivid memory of a news story that occurred over 20 years ago.  It was a story about a man who was a skydiver that wore a “helmet cam.”  It was his job to video tape the formations of competitive parachute teams.  The newscast shared video of this man’s  fifth and final jump of the day.  The formations were all completed, and as each skydiver pulled their rip-cord and rose out of site, it came time for the photographer to pull his rip-cord.  Suddenly, you could see the helmet cam quickly jerking back and forth… something was obviously wrong.  Believe it or not, the problem was that in all the hustle and bustle, after four previous jumps that day, this camera man jumped out of the plane, forgetting to put on his parachute!

Imagine what a sickening, hopeless feeling it must have been for that man when he came to the realization he had exited the plane without his parachute.  If you think that is bad, think of how sickening and hopeless it will be for countless people when realize they exited life without Jesus.

Friends, if you wouldn’t sit idly by, saying or doing nothing as a person jumped out of an airplane without a parachute, then would you sit idly by as someone exited this world without Jesus?  Speak up!  Let your voice be heard!  The news you possess is urgent and souls hang in the balance.

— Steve Higginbotham

Two VERY different ways to live

A typical life for many unbelievers

Age 1 to 10:  Jack’s parents do not love Jesus.  They are not concerned about teaching Jack to know the Lord.  They spoil him with lots of toys.  He becomes a selfish, undisciplined child.
Age 11 to 20:  Jack dresses in the latest style.  He is interested primarily in sports and girls.  He also turns his attention to money, something he will need if he will support the lifestyle he has in mind.
Age 21 to 30:  Jack starts a very successful business.  He marries Jill, the most popular cheerleader in college.  They go deeply into debt to build a beautiful house in an elite subdivision.  They drive expensive cars.
Age 31 to 40: Jack and Jill decide to have one child.  Jack’s business thrives.  Their friends are of high society.
Age 41 to 50:  Jack needs to get away from the pressures of business.  He buys a yacht.  He begins to think seriously of early retirement.  Jack Jr. is causing problems in school.  Jill is threatening to break up their marriage.  Jack’s hair is flecked with gray.
Age 51 to 60:  Jack is retired.  Jill is gone.  Jack Jr. is in prison on drug related charges.  Money is no problem.  Jack’s hair has turned gray.  There are dark circles under his eyes.
Age 61 to 70:  Jack is diagnosed with an incurable disease.  He is devastated.  A pitiful, stoop—shouldered man looks at him from the mirror.  There is not a trace of the dashing youth of half a century ago.  Where did time go?
Age 71 to 80:  Jack lies awake at night, staring wide-eyed at the black ceiling.  When will the end come?  Where will he go?  What does the future hold for one who is so old?

The other choice:

Age 1 to 10:  John’s parents love Jesus.  They are concerned about teaching John to know the Lord.  He learns the disciplines of holding still in church, sharing his toys, and doing chores.
Age 11 to 20:  John dresses simply and modestly.  He is diligent in school and an eager student of God’s Word.  He lends a steady hand to farm work.
Age 21 to 30:  John marries Jane, a godly woman who feels a strong desire to take the Gospel to a foreign culture.  They live frugally and start a family.
Age 31 to 40:  John and Jane answer the call to serve on a foreign mission.  Finances are tight.  Their friends are the poor people of another culture.
Age 41 to 50:  John sometimes feels weary in the toil of the church, but Jane encourages him at every turn. He sells some property to help a needy family.  the children love their school and fluently speak a second language.  John’s hair is flecked with gray.
Age 51 to 60:  John is tireless.  Jane is gone; cancer took her.  Money is a problem.  John’s hair has turned gray.  John Jr. is also involved in mission outreach.  Money is a problem.  John’s hair has turned gray.  There are dark circles under his eyes.
Age 61 to 70:  John is diagnosed with an incurable disease.  He is resigned.  A pitiful, stoop-shouldered man looks at him from the mirror.  There is not a trace of the strong youth of half a century ago.  Where did time go?
Age 71 to 80:  John lies awake at night, staring thoughtfully at the black ceiling.  “Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” he murmurs.  When can he go?  Oh, when will he step on the streets of Gold?
Gary Miller, Pantego, NC
Used with permission

The Incredible Incubator Bird

When we talk about incredible animals that prove God’s existence, the Megapode (or Australian Incubator Bird) is one that defiantly makes the list.  Let’s discover why this bird is so incredible.

 
When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she will search for a nest that the male has build and make sure it is suitable to her.  The male will make the nest about 3 feet into the ground, 10 or more feet above the ground, and sometimes 50 feet across.  This is obviously not your typical bird’s nest here.  When the female approves, she will then lay her eggs, 20-35 of them, at a rate of one egg ever 3 days for up to seven months.  It is interesting that this bird is not much bigger than a three pound hen, and yet it lays eggs as large as an ostrich egg, and many of them.  Once she is done laying her eggs she will leave the nest and never return or take any part in the incubation.

 
If this wasn’t amazing enough already, the male’s responsibility is what is really astonishing.  While most birds sit on the eggs to keep them warm, this bird doesn’t.  With the eggs buried deeply in the nest, the male works very hard to make sure the nest is at a precise 91 degrees.  If it is even one degree higher or lower, the eggs will not survive.  So, to maintain the temperature, the male will dig down and check the temperature of the eggs.  If it is a particularly hot day, he will put material on the top of the nest, such as sand, to help block the sunlight and keep the eggs cool!  Or if it is a cool day, he will add additional materials to ensure the eggs are kept warm.  Sometimes he will make the nest in just the right way to let sunlight warm the eggs.  Even more incredible is that sometimes the male will use volcanic action to help warm the eggs!  Another responsibility of the male is to keep the nest at 99.5% humidity (if it drops below 80%, the chicks will die).  So, he will dig holes in the nest so moisture is able to get in.  The male digs down many times per day to check on the eggs and adjust the nest if needed.  Scientists today are not completely sure how the male incubator bird is able to check the temperature of the eggs (they think either his tongue or his beak), but whatever the mechanism may be, it is very sensitive and is able to keep precise measurements.

 
As soon as they break out of their eggs, they know immediately that they will need to dig out of the nest.  They were never told this is what they needed to do, but they are born with instinctive directions only God could have implanted.  It will take them 3 days to dig out of the nest.  The chicks will dig their way out of the nest and then they are completely on their own.  The good news is, they will hatch with feathers and the capability to fly.  They are not fed or cared for in any way.  They are now dependent on themselves for survival.  How could a brand new bird, who has never even seen the sun before, know to dig its way out of the nest, know how to fly, and know how to take care of all of its survival needs?  This is obviously not learned from either parent.

 
Evolution talks about how a creature will evolve when there is a need for change.  How could the incubator bird know it needed to check the temperature of the eggs, much less keep them at a precise 91 degrees?  How could he know to keep the humidity above 81%?  How do the chicks know to they are under the ground and need to dig their way out?  And how do the chicks know how to survive without ANY guidance?  An animal that is dead cannot evolve into a different form.  With evolution, this incredible bird would have gone extinct (not to mention MANY others) a long time ago. The Supreme Being of this universe could only have created this bird.  The only possible way for this bird to even be alive today is if God had a hand in all that it does.  Our God truly is an awesome God.  Let’s praise Him for His wonderful creation.  –Brett Petrillo

Bible question: Do you know who Addi was?

This name occurs just one time in the New Testament.

If you do not know who Addi was, you can quickly find the answer on my “Greek word study” blog.

[polldaddy poll=5452952]

 

Hypercritical people

It did not take me very long, despite living life as a preacher, to learn that there are hypercritical people everywhere.  These are the people for whom compliments and praise seem extremely difficult, but for whom complaining, murmuring, and criticizing seems second nature.  Often, they go so far as to question others’ motives or they reveal a very cynical and bitter attitude.  I have found that these folks, whatever good works they do or how actively they participate in church programs, are decided liabilities to the congregation where they are members.  Here are a few reasons why.

Hypercritics kill morale.  No plan is good enough.  No activity is done right.  The hypercritic can be counted on to shoot holes in goals, plans, and ideas.  They can single-handedly such the enthusiasm out of a congregation with the fortitude to stand against or ignore such tirades.

Hypercritics build walls.  They tend to cast situations in the “us” versus “them” mold.  Anyone caught in the cross hairs of their campaigns suffers character assassination.  Such personalities polarize, and they at times go so far as to be divisive.  God condemns such (1 Cor. 1:10; 3:4).  The Lord is to be the only wall builder in His church (Eph. 2:20-21), and His walls unite people with differences under the authority of Christ.  From behind their walls, hypercritics take shots at fellow-soldiers in unfriendly fire.

Hypercritics spread discontent.  Such people tend to lobby for others to join their complaint committee.  That way, they can say, “Several people feel the way I do.”  In reality, the hypercritic often creates such monsters.  Yet, these should beware.  Korah led a hypercritical campaign against Moses which turned out most poorly for him and his cohorts (Num. 16:3,31-35).

Hypercritics run on the deadly fuel of cynicism.  They tend to see the worst side of others.  Hypercriticism, by nature, easily leads one to judge unrighteously and blindly (Matt. 7:1-5).  Anything done must have been done for show.  A good deed had to have had an ulterior motive.  Hypercritics may even think of others Christians as “fakes,” “snobs,” or equally vilifying, presumptuous allegations.  Cynicism may merely come from looking at others as acting as they themselves act.

It must be miserable to go through life predominantly seeing the worst in others and expecting the worst out of everything.  My prayer is that wherever a hypercritical spirit roams, we will “exorcise” it.  Let us use our tongues to praise more and bruise less.

— Neal Pollard

Visitation tips for preachers

Anytime we make a visit with Christ as its motivation there are a few wise things to keep in mind. The impression you leave behind has eternal impact.

If you have any visitation tips for preachers, feel free to post them in the *comment box* below.

  • Always pray and be prayed for before you make your first visit.  God’s blessing of the work you are doing will smooth many of the difficulties you will face. Visitation can be awkward for both parties in the visit. Knowing God is in the group certainly makes it better.
  • Realize you are not going to see harvest before you first sow and cultivate. No farmer expects same day reaping and sowing. You are not in control of the harvest any way, you are a planter and cultivator (1 Cor 3:6).
  • People need to be asked not pushed. Don’t force a visit, ask for permission to come inside, ask if they would like to visit. Allowing the power to be in their hands as much as possible.
  • Always be clean and neat. If you want to make a good impression for the Lord and His church make sure you don’t stink, track dirt or look like disheveled. Carry and use breath mints (Every door, every time).
  • Don’t dress too formally. Dress nice but casual. People will respond to comfortable more than formal.
  • Be sweet and courteous. If the folks are settling down for supper, reschedule your visit. If you can compliment something about their house, yard, children etc., then sincerely make a kind remark.
  • Don’t be shocked by worldliness. You will always face the devil when you do the Lord’s work. Often when we visit it is because the devil has ownership of a situation. We are trying to change that. Don’t expect people to know how to do everything the Christian way. That takes time to learn.
  • Watch your “church language.” Not everyone understands the jargon of church goers. Until people are taught the Bible they won’t know what elders, deacons, baptism and other bible terms mean.
  • You need to know people’s names if you are going to really connect with them. Before you even get to the door have the names memorized. Don’t flaunt their name like a salesman but use it to build rapport. Try to get to know the names of other people living in the house. When and if these visits produce fruit you will win much favor by knowing their names as you see them at the assembly. Children also love to be recognized and greeted.
  • Be unpretentious and sincere during your visit. Be honestly interested in that person, their interests and their needs. Nothing can turn a visit sour worse than false flattery or imitation concern. Take the time to really listen to what people are saying, and respond to their needs.
  • Have a brief plan for your visit. I use the Acrostic FORM. “F” discuss their family, “O” work concerns and interest in their occupation. “R” religious involvement or church background. “M” your message or reason for the visit.

Stick to this simple order so you can keep your visit focused and brief. Work on transitions so they become natural and not contrived.

If you truly love people and have a concern for their soul these things will be pretty natural. Working on them before you visit will help you become a better worker for the Lord.

Joe Chase
North Loop Church of Christ
Gladewater, Texas

In the Good Ole’ Summertime

It never ceases to amaze me. Summer temps rise and people begin wearing clothes that leave little to the imagination. In fact, Adam and Eve’s fig leaves may have covered more skin.

The first man and woman were as innocent in thought and action as little children.  However, immediately following their disobedience in the Garden, the couple’s eyes were opened. They recognized their nakedness, felt guilt and shame, and tried to cover themselves with leaves from a fig tree. Even at that, they hid themselves. This establishes a basic truth: if people are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, they should recognize the wrongness of immodest clothing. God was not satisfied with their leafy attire. He made them tunics of animal skin (Genesis 3:21).

Most people would affirm the rightness of wearing clothes. The question then becomes what is modest and immodest?

First, we should consider what God desires. He wants women to be clothed in a way that does not draw attention to outward appearance – neither immodest or flashy (1 Tim. 2:9-10). God wants women to be clothed with humility, self-control, and good works (1 Peter 3:3-4). A woman’s outward adornment is just a reflection of the character within.

A second thing to consider is the basic difference between men and women. God created men to be visual and tactile (to see and do). He made women to be verbal and emotional (to speak and feel). These differences are perfect in a marriage setting. Young, unmarried women may be naive about this fundamental difference. However, mature women have no excuse.

Men are extremely vulnerable when they see us dressed immodestly. God does not want any Christian to be a stumbling block to others (Romans 14:12-13).

Men define immodest dress as:

• low-waist pants or jeans

• midriff showing

• bare shoulders – strapless tops and dresses

• low necklines – showing cleavage

• thin or sheer tops

• tight or form-fitting clothes

• short skirts

• short-shorts

• visible underwear

Based on their definition, the following questions and mirror test should also help a woman decide what kind of clothing to wear:

Questions –

• Would you wear these clothes if you were meeting Jesus?

• Do you have to tug or pull on this garment?

• Will these clothes help you guard the souls of Christian brothers?

• Could you talk to a man or young man about the Lord?

Mirror test

• Stand in front of a full length mirror (wearing the shoes you have selected)

• Sit in a chair and cross your legs

• Bend over slightly to see if your neckline is too revealing

A woman’s immodest clothing can become a major stumbling block to men. It is unfortunate, but true, that some women come to worship wearing garments that cause their brothers to drift toward sin. The church should be a place of shelter for the minds of men. Some women will quickly counter that men are accountable. This is true. But women are accountable, too. Moms are accountable for the example they set for their girls. Moms and Dads are accountable for the clothes they buy for their girls.

Immodest clothing is seen often in the good ole’ summertime, but is seen in other seasons, too. It is definitely a cultural problem which has seeped into the church. We cannot control the way women of the world dress and influence our husbands or sons. But, we can control what we wear and what we purchase for our daughters. As Christian women, we can refuse to be part of the problem.

Today’s Verse: Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Note: A study book written for young women which covers this topic as well as others is God’s

Girls, published by Publishing Designs, Inc. www.pubishingdesigns.com

Although I cannot vouch for everything on these websites, you may want to check them out:

www.sweetinnocencedresses.com, www.jenclothing.com, www.mikarose.com,

www.themodbod.com

–By Teresa Hampton

Free notes on Minor Propehts

Are you studying the Minor Prophets?  Are you looking for a free online Bible commentary for the Minor Prophets? The lecture notes on the Minor Prophets by Mike Tune may be just what you need!

Get these lectures notes on the Minor Prophets from the www.abiblecommentary.com home page or download them directly in a PDF file at this link:  http://www.abiblecommentary.com/lecturenotesonminorprophets.pdf

WASHING YOUR SINS AWAY

The following true story comes from the “Kids of the Kingdom” section of Christian Reader (July/August 2000):

As a couple drove home from church one afternoon, they were talking about a friend who was going to be baptized that day. As they were saying how proud they were of him, their three-year-old daughter Elizabeth asked, “What does it mean to be baptized?”

Their 5-year-old son Joshua spoke up, “Oh, baptism — that’s when the preacher washes all your senses away.”

Well, that’s not quite what the scriptures teach. I’m sure what that little boy meant (at least, I hope so) is that the scriptures teach that baptism washes our “sins” away.  Ananias said to Saul (later to be known as the apostle Paul):

“And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16)

Don’t misunderstand.  It’s not that there’s magical power in the water.  In fact, the power is not in the water, but in the blood of Jesus Christ.  But as baptism demonstrates a death (to sin), burial (in water) and resurrection to new life, it expresses a faith in Jesus Christ who died, was buried and who rose again the third day (Romans 6:3-4).  And the end result is not a washing of the body, but a washing of the soul — remission of sins (I Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38).

Have you taken this step of faith?

“And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16)

Alan Smith

A few stupid criminal stories:

One man robbed a liquor store at gunpoint and demanded all of the cash from the register. He then asked for some liquor, but the cashier declined saying that he didn’t look 21. The robber again demanded, but the cashier declined saying that he could not give liquor to anyone under 21.  The stupid criminal proceeded to show the cashier his driver’s license to prove he was 21!  The cashier took down his information, gave the robber his liquor, and called the police when he left. The robber was arrested AT HIS HOME later that evening.

Another guy was in a verbal lineup (where you have to say something to see if the victim can identify you by voice). He was told to say “Give me your money or I’ll shoot you”, and he refused to do it. When asked why by the detective, he said “Because that’s not what I said”!

David Posman 33, was arrested in Providence, R.I, after allegedly knocking out an armored car driver and stealing the closest four bags of money. It turned out they contained $800 in PENNIES, weighed 30 pounds each, and slowed him to a stagger during his getaway so that police officers easily jumped him from behind.

David Posman is not the first person to make the mistake of trying to run while being weighed down.  In fact, it happens spiritually all the time. The Hebrew writer talks about sin being a weight that keeps us from effectively running the Christian race.  We can get bogged down with things that pull us away from God.  And, by the way, as with Posman, those things that are weighing us down are not worth nearly as much as we thought they were when we grabbed hold of them.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Anything weighing you down?  May you lay it aside as you run the Christian race today. — Alan Smith

I understand that you are planning to enter the ministry

Frederick Buechner tells of a question asked by his hostess at a Sunday dinner shortly after he concluded he had been called to ministry. Because she was deaf, she spoke louder than most and so all of the guests at the long table heard her and stopped to hear Buechner’s reply.
“I understand that you are planning to enter the ministry,” she said. “Is this your own idea, or have you been poorly advised?”
Buechner had no answer. If he had, he wouldn’t have wanted to shout it, and if he had shouted it, she wouldn’t have heard it. He later understood that she meant no harm. But, even knowing that, her words stayed with him – for years – and every time he recalled them, the feeling of hurt returned.*
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” says Proverbs 18:21 (ESV). “The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness,” James adds (3:6). We know verses like these well enough that when we hear them, it’s a review.
Most of us don’t question the need for that review. We know we are not perfect and that our tongue is often why (Jas. 3:1-2). Periodic reviews help by bringing to mind several relevant biblical texts and times we’ve erred with “filthiness … or crude joking” (Eph. 5:4) or with words of “wrath … anger … and slander” (Eph. 4:31). We feel shame because we recall when we were too much like the pagan world Paul described with its “gossips, slanderers, … boastful, [and] inventors of evil” (Rom. 1:29-30).
Buechner’s story, however, doesn’t really fit any of those texts. It reminds us how often our tongues can inadvertently wound, if not destroy. Something we say lingers for years, influences a person’s view of herself, or reinforces feelings that make his life of faith more difficult. Thus, Ephesians 4:29 fits better: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, . . .”
Because they are often inadvertent – and sometimes colored by the hearer’s perceptions and the complexity of the communication process – it’s hard, if not impossible, to eliminate these failures. But, what if our goal is more modest? What if what we learn from Paul, and Buechner’s experience, is to think more before we speak and say less than we often think we have to say? David Anguish
* Buechner’s story, from his book, The Alphabet of Grace, was recounted by R. Wayne Stacy, “The Power to Bless: James 3:1-12 (A Sermon),” Review and Expositor 97 (2000).

America Firsthand: From Settlement To Reconstruction

Mary Jemison was an illiterate, eighty-year-old woman when she recounted her abduction at the hands of the Seneca Indians to writer James E. Seaver. The year was probably 1758, when Mary would have been fifteen years old. Her first emotions were terror and confusion. She passed a group of white settlers whom the Shawnee had killed and whose corpses they were burning in a fire. She was whisked by canoe to the Seneca village, where she was given a squaw’s clothing, accepted for adoption by the tribe, was taught to speak the Seneca language and not allowed to speak English in the hearing of her “sisters,” had children by a Seneca husband, and eventually measured time, approached life, and spoke as a Seneca Indian. She even grew to feel contempt toward the white people and was completely sympathetic to those who snatched her from her home, saying that “one thing only marred my happiness while I lived with them on the Ohio, and that was the recollection that I once had tender parents, and a home that I loved” (America Firsthand: From Settlement To Reconstruction, Vol. 1, 3rd Ed. by Robert D. Marcus and David Burner. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1995, pp. 61-67).

While Jemison’s fascinating story is not meant to suggest that the Seneca were wholly evil and the European settlers were completely good-history depicts a thoroughly mixed picture of both groups-what is so notable is how time and interaction with her captors eventually, thoroughly changed her attitude and outlook toward them. The Bible speaks of those who are “taken captive” by “the snare of the devil” (2 Tim. 2:26), “the traditions of men” (Col. 2:8), and by the beguiling actions of deceitful, ungodly men (2 Tim. 3:1-6). When we are captivated by Satan and the world, we gradually grow accustomed to worldly dress, habits, and viewpoints. We may even grow contemptuous of the righteousness and truth we once embraced. Sin changes our outlook and skews our perspective. We may have moments of fond recall of the life in God we once enjoyed, but the longer we stay where we are the harder it becomes to break free.

Thankfully, since Jesus came to lead captive a host of captives (Eph. 4:8), we can be freed from the confinement of sin! Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Unlike Jemison’s situation, we only become prisoners by choice, there is a clear right and wrong party, and there is an absolute need to break free of life in spiritual captivity. Rejoice that Jesus makes that possible, and has done all He can to make it happen!
–Neal Pollard

21st Century Idolatry

Materialism. Webster says it is, “the tendency to be more concerned with material than with spiritual values.” Simply put, materialism sets up another object of worship besides God. It replaces God on the throne of one’s heart with the desire for and the pursuit of money and possessions. There is a sort of religious purpose, a devotion of the soul to tangible, temporal concerns.

One student appropriately calls materialism “the gospel of the flesh.” The Biblical word for this is “covetousness” (Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; James 4:2; 2 Peter 2:14). Consider:

Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness…” (Luke 12:15).

To engage in covetousness is to engage in the greedy desire for more things.

The apostle Paul said, “Covetousness…is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5; cf. Ephesians 5:5).

An idolatrous person worships or bows to the inferior (1 Corinthians 8:4; Jeremiah 10:14); he renders ultimate devotion to an object of limited value.

Therefore, materialism bows to the greedy desire for and pursuit of things and exalts such above God.

Another student states it well when he says:

“…Man is bowing down figuratively to an idol when he keeps for himself such. It is remarkable covetousness is listed with fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire; all such passions so detestable within the heart a Christian. Yet, it is listed there evidently because it is what turns the heart of a Christian away from God! It dethrones God from His rightful place. When a man seeks happiness in things, possessions, money, etc., he has dethroned God from his heart” (Roy Lanier, Jr., A Little Contribution, preface).

While our modern-day idols may share little physical similarity to their crude counterparts of wood and stone, we pay them reverence nonetheless. And although the position of our bodies may be somewhat different in that we do not physically bow, the position of our hearts is essentially the same.

Someone inquires, “But where is the line (or dollar amount) at which a child of God becomes materialistic?” The answer may surprise some. In truth, materialism is not determined by income. Wealth, per se, is not an indicator of idolatry. A Christian does not suddenly become a 21st century idolater when his annual paycheck surpasses a certain figure. One can be wealthy and not be materialistic (eg., Abraham — Genesis 13:2; Hebrews 11:8-10; Job — Job 1:3, 21-22; Barnabas — Acts 4:36-37). Conversely, one can be of very modest means and yet be very materially-oriented. We tend to equate materialism with financial prosperity. This is faulty reasoning.

Materialism is not determined by financial APTITUDE, but rather by carnal, covetous ATTITUDE (eg., Achan — Joshua 7:1ff; Gehazi — 2 Kgs. 5:20ff; Ahab — 1 Kings 21:1ff; the rich young ruler — Luke 18:18-27; the rich farmer/fool — Luke 12:13-21; the rich man sometimes called Dives — Luke 16:19-31; the prodigal son — Luke 15:13; Judas — John 12:4-6; 18:2ff; Matthew 26:15; 27:3-5; Acts 1:25; Ananias and Sapphira — Acts 5:1ff; Demetrius — Acts 19:23ff; Felix — Acts 24:24-26; and Demas — 2 Timothy 4:10).

Paul told Timothy that those who are “minded,” (1 Timothy 6:9 ASV)to be rich fall into spiritual peril. The word “minded” has reference to the deliberate exercise of the will and is often translated “desire.” “For the wicked boasts of his hearts desire; he blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord” (Psalms 10:3).

by Mike Benson

Half of the battle against cancer is attitude

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).

June’s friends huddled in the hallway of the hospital.

“We’ve got to be positive,” Janice explained, “because June’s condition is very serious. Half of the battle against cancer is attitude, they say, and we’ve got to help her develop a good attitude. Don’t let the shock of her appearance show on your faces. Make this visit an encouraging one!”

So they filed into the dark room where June lay in fear and trepidation. June smiled, and her smile lit up the room. She held out her hands in welcome, and her eyes seemed even larger and prettier now that her hair had gone because of the treatment.

When they left the room, June’s friends realized that she had encouraged them, not the other way around.

The little book of Philippians uses the word “joy” and “rejoice” fourteen times in four chapters, yet Paul penned these words from prison. Roman prisons were rarely mistaken for Sheraton Hotels. Dingy, rat- infested cells were attended by room service consisting of grim Roman legionaries.

Yet Paul sought to encourage his readers, not the other way around. How could he be so positive under these circumstances?

Perhaps Paul’s contentment didn’t depend on his circumstances! Maybe his attitude stemmed, not from what happened to him, but from who he was.

It was Paul, after all, who declared later in the same book that if we thought about whatever was good, and pure, and lovely we could experience the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7,8).

So who are you?

Read this article online, write your reaction, and read others’ comments as well. Click here: http://bit.ly/qfLWfI

by Stan Mitchell

Un sermón sobre el perdón

PERDÓN ES UN HOMBRE DE CALIDAD HA APRENDIDO DE DIOS, pero el hombre a menudo ha tratado de modificar el tema del perdón para satisfacer sus propios deseos.

1) Ps. 103:12.
2) El este y el oeste son tan opuestas como lo pueden ser.
3) Cuando Dios “quita los pecados” (perdona), este pasaje del Antiguo Testamento dice que han desaparecido por completo.
4) Isa. 38:17.
5) Mic. 07:19 – LEA.
6) Hechos 3:19.

CUANDO vemos cómo Dios perdona y lo comparamos con el perdón a menudo en el mundo, vemos cuán débil idea del mundo del perdón es.

1) Monte. 06:12.
2) Monte. 06:14 – LEA
3) El versículo 15 – LEA
4) El mundo nos dice que el perdón puede ser dado a alguien una vez. Tal vez el doble.
5) Perdonar a alguien tres veces es casi inaudito.
6) Monte. 18:22 – LEA
7) Mt. 18:35 – LEA
8) Jesús dijo que el perdón debe venir del “corazón”.
9) Es fácil decirle a alguien: “Te perdono” – que puede ofrecer el perdón de boquilla.
10) 1 Jn. 01:09 – LEA
11) Cuando se trata de Dios el perdón es “fiel”.
12) Si tenemos que ser perdonados, Dios dice: “Voy a ser confiable en esta materia.”
13) “Yo perdono y me perdono por completo. Usted puede contar con que te perdone si te buscan. ”
14) Si eres un cristiano, que también son fieles a la hora de perdonar?
a) Cuando alguien realmente busca el perdón, lo que fácilmente se extiende a ellos?
b) Si se resisten, como “fiel” podemos estar en esta área?
c) Es posible ser fiel a la primera vez que el perdón se extiende, pero ¿qué pasa con la segunda o tercera?

CUANDO SE TRATA DE ESTE TEMA Muchos piensan que es demasiado difícil.
1) Monte. 18:23-35 – LEA
2) Si es un cristiano, cuántos pecados Dios nos ha limpiado de sólo en los últimos 8 meses o algo así?
a) ¿Ha sido 25? 50? 100? 500? ¿Hemos cometido mil pecados desde 1 de enero de este año?
b) ¿Vamos a decirle a Dios: “Quiero que me perdones de todos los pecados que he cometido hasta ahora en el 2011.
c) Dios, yo también quiero que me perdone por los pecados que pasar para cometer el resto del año.
d) Dios, yo ciertamente no quiero que recordar los pecados de todos los últimos años de mi vida.

3) Si Dios nos ha perdonado que necesitamos para perdonar libre y plenamente los demás.
4) El perdón – el perdón total es posible – cuando nos fijamos en lo que Dios ha hecho por nosotros.
5) Dios quiere que nos perdone y que Él ha hecho todo lo necesario para que esto suceda.

Comentario de Romanos: Comentario de la Biblia en Romanos en español, gratis Español Comentario de la Biblia en el libro de Romanos – http://www.abiblecommentary.com/romanoscomentarioespanol.pdf 

WALKING IN THE LIGHT

A young Marine and his commanding officer board a train headed through the mountains of Switzerland.  They can find no place to sit except for two seats right across the aisle from a young woman and her grandmother.
After a while, it is obvious that the young woman and the young soldier are interested in each because they are giving each other “looks.”  Soon the train passes into a tunnel and it is pitch black. There is a sound of the smack of a kiss followed by the sound of the smack of a slap. When the train emerges from the tunnel, the four sit there without saying a word.
The grandmother is thinking to herself: “It was very brash for that young soldier to kiss my granddaughter, but I’m glad she slapped him.”
The commanding officer is setting there thinking:  “I didn’t think the young Marine was brave enough to kiss the girl, but I sure wish she hadn’t missed him when she slapped and hit me!”
The young woman was sitting and thinking:  “I’m glad the soldier kissed me, but I wish my grandmother had not slapped him!”
The young Marine sat there with a satisfied smile on his face.  He thought to himself:  “Life is good.  When does a fellow have the chance to kiss a beautiful girl and slap his commanding officer all at the same time!”
It is difficult to know exactly what is happening in the dark (as shown by three of the four characters above).  There’s no light by which to gain a proper perspective.  Walking in darkness can be especially dangerous.
It’s not surprising that the apostle John frequently used the images of light and darkness to describe our walk with God.
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:5-7)
I pray that your walk today may be in the light of God’s love.  –Alan Smith