Archives for : June2012

Things to look forward to in retirement

A few days ago, my parents shared these thoughts about retirement with me:

Question: How many days are there in a week for a retiree?
Answer: 6 Saturdays, 1 Sunday

Question: How many retirees does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but it might take all day.

Question: What’s the biggest gripe of retirees?
Answer: There’s not enough time to get everything done.

Question: Among retirees, what is considered to be formal attire?
Answer: Tied shoes.

Question: Why do retirees count pennies?
Answer: They’re the only ones who have the time.

Question: What is someone called who enjoys work and refuses to retire?
Answer: NUTS!

Question: What do retirees call a long lunch?
Answer: Normal.

Question: Why does a retiree often say he doesn’t miss work, but he misses the people he used to work with?
Answer: He is too polite to tell the whole truth.

Question: What do you do all week when you retire?
Answer: Monday through Friday, NOTHING….. Saturday & Sunday, you rest.

I suppose it’s only natural that we all look forward to being able to retire someday (although I do think most of us have a distorted view of what retirement is going to be like). A bigger concern of mine, though, has to do with Christians who seem to be anxious to reach “retirement age” in the church. They can’t seem to wait until they can pass off all their responsibilities to those who are younger so they can just sit back and relax.

Don’t get me wrong — I understand that, as we get older, we may not be able to physically do what we were able to do 30 years ago, but there is much that we can still do. I don’t see any of God’s men or women “retiring” in the scriptures and, in fact, if everyone retired from doing the Lord’s work at the age of 62 or 65, we would have missed out on some of the greatest examples of faith that have been recorded.

So, if you want to look forward to retirement, go ahead. But may we all have the attitude that says, “Whether I’m working or retired, I will serve God with everything I have until the day I die! In fact, I look forward to retirement because it will give me more time to devote to the Lord!”

“O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18)

Alan Smith

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Here are some sayings that you may or may not be familiar with:

Veni, Vidi, Vici — I came, I saw, I conquered

Veni, Vidi, Verily — I came, I saw, I concurred

Veni, Vidi, Vista — I came, I saw, what a great view!

Veni, Vidi, Venison — I came, I saw, I ran over a deer

Veni, Vidi, Velcro — I came, I saw; I stuck around

Veni, Vidi, Visa — I came, I saw, I went shopping

Veni, Vidi, Vegi — I came, I saw, I had a salad

Veni, Vidi, VCR — I came, I saw, I went home and rented the video

Veni, Vidi, Vinny — I came, I saw, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse

Veni, Vidi, DaVinci — I came, I saw, I painted the Sistine Chapel

Veni, Vipi, Vici — I came, I’m a very important person, I conquered

Allow me to add one more:

Veni, Vidi, Dei Vici — I came, I saw, God conquered

Remember the twelve spies sent into the land of Canaan? Ten came back and said, “There’s no way we can conquer this land! The people are too big and too strong! Let’s go back to Egypt!”

Only Joshua and Caleb had faith that God would keep his promise. Their attitude was, “We came, we saw, and we are confident that God will conquer.”

“But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, “a land which flows with milk and honey.”‘” (Numbers 14:6-8)

How about you? Ever felt like a grasshopper compared to some of the obstacles you face? But if the Lord is on your side (or more accurately, if you are on the Lord’s side), the victory will be yours.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Veni, Vidi, Dei Vici!

Have a great day!

–Alan Smith

Fear only ONE thing!

It was the first camping experience for Jed.  As soon as he had pitched his tent, he went for a hike in the woods.  In about fifteen minutes he rushed back into camp, bleeding and disheveled.

“What happened?” asked a fellow camper.

“I was chased by a black snake!” cried the frightened Jed.

The camper laughed and retorted, “A black snake isn’t deadly.”

“Listen,” groaned Jed, “If he can make you jump off a fifty-foot cliff, he is!”
There are any number of things in this world that may frighten us.  For some of you, it may be snakes, or spiders or rats.  For others, it may be great heights or the thought of flying in an airplane.  For others, there is a fear of losing your health or losing your job.  For most, there is a fear of death.

It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  I understand him to mean that the way we react to fear is often more dangerous than the thing we fear.  Fear can cause us to make rash decisions.  At other times, fear can paralyze us so that we do nothing at all.
It is significant to me that the command Jesus gave his disciples more than any other was “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid.”  The storm is raging.  “Fear not!”  There are those who seek to do us harm.  “Fear not!”  The girl has died.  “Fear not!”  We would regard all of those situations as legitimate reasons to fear.  But Jesus made it clear that when He is present, fear is inappropriate.  He is capable of handling anything we face, including death!

So what is it that causes you to live in fear?  What is it that produces such anxiety that you have trouble going to sleep at night?  Turn it over to the One who has promised to watch over you.  “Fear not!”  Trust Him.

“I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4) 

   –Alan Smith

Gettin’ married’s like taking a bath in a tub of hot water. After awhile, it ain’t so hot

Dan Erickson reported in an online sermon that Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I read where one wife plans to divorce her husband as soon as she can find a way to do so without making him happy.” In spite of the fact that the Bible says whoever finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22), millions of people find themselves under a mountain of marriage misery. Their experience mirrors what the late great Minnie Pearl once said about marriage — “Gettin’ married’s like taking a bath in a tub of hot water. After awhile, it ain’t so hot.” So it would seem for many. The fire has fizzled and the love didn’t last. These past fifty years have seen America become the most divorce-prone nation on earth. Many who said “I do” really didn’t, at least not “until death do us part.” More like, “until debt do us part.” Instead of “so long as we both shall live” the real truth for many is “until one of us is tired of it.” In spite of the fact that God is on record as saying He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), large numbers of people now view divorce as being morally neutral, a liberating and life-enhancing option to be exercised if/when the marriage magic disappears. Rock star Rod Stewart, himself twice divorced, verbalized the casual attitude toward marriage he and millions of others have acted out. He said, “I think marriage vows should be changed, because they’ve been in existence for 600 years, when people used to live until they were only 35. So they only had to be with each other for 12 years, then they would die anyway. But now, it’s a big commitment because you’re going to be with someone for 50 years. It’s impossible. The vows should be written like a dog’s license that has to be renewed every year.” (

Stewart’s statement reminds us that millions have simply lost their way as regards marriage and God’s will for it. Men have by and large rejected what the Lord has to say about marriage and divorce. Many criticize the Bible’s teaching on this subject as hard and unfair. While I would never accuse Rod Stewart of being a Bible scholar, he is right about one thing – marriage is a big commitment. Three verses from 1 Corinthians 7 remind us just how big — “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: a wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. . . .A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (verses 10-11, 39). The point in this article is not to deny that marriage is rough, tough work, sometimes more sour than it is sweet, more hurt than it is happiness, more give than it is receive. Anybody who says it isn’t has never been married. But none of that changes the fact that a marriage must be based on commitment, not convenience, if it is to last. A good marriage is not easy but neither is it impossible. What is required is a deep-seated commitment to the will of God and one’s mate.

Dan Gulley

Are people really this ignorant about the Bible?

Free Tickets to the Fair

This past weekend, we attended the Tennessee Valley Fair with a couple friends.  As we were leaving the fair and returning to our car, we noticed that there was a long line of people who were in line to purchase entry tickets.  My friend happened to have a few unused, extra tickets, so he went over to the line and said, “I’ll give you two free tickets into the fair if you can tell me how many books there are in the Bible.”  The answers started pouring in, “2!”  “4!”  “16!”  “33!” “50!”  The guesses continued for quite some time.  No one in that long line of people could tell my friend how many books were in the Bible.  It wasn’t like he asked them to name of the books of the Bible, just give the number of books.  No one could do it.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.  It’s caused me to consider that some day we will all stand before God and have to give an answer in order to obtain something of much greater value than just entrance into the fair.  Friends, how prepared will you be to give an answer then?

Steve Higginbotham

What is it like to be a preacher?

Some say my life and work as a preacher has been far from dull, and that may be true.  Here are some of things I have experienced–in recent times–as a preacher.

I conducted a Bible study with six men in a work release program and one of these fellows had what I would call an “emotional melt down.”   This man is plagued by many issues and he is searching for peace.

Just hours after the work release study the phone rang and the caller was someone I had met several years ago.  Although this person is now living in a different state, he thought I could help his female acquaintance, a woman who believes she is possessed by the devil and must find inner peace.  There was also a fellow from about a week ago who thought a “death angel” was after him and he too wanted peace, but he will be featured in another article.

People and circumstances differ, but my work as a preacher tells me many are seeking the thing called “peace.”  Many would trade fame, money, and even give up good health for “peace.”

The Bible says peace is available.  In Phil. 4:7 Paul said, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”

No God, no true peace.  Know God and find peace.

Brad Price

A Church That Could Care Less

Someone has observed that in a world that couldn’t care less, Christians are people who couldn’t care more. True enough. But consider this twist. Maybe Christians should be people who couldn’t care less! A number of years ago I ran across a short article that reported the bulletin of a church in a small town carried this message on the front page: “The Church That Could Care Less.” Turning the page, the message continued, “We could care less where you come from. We could care less where you’ve been. We could care less what you have. The thing we really do care about is you, and so does God.” Wow! What a great twist on a great truth! In an uncaring world, Christians are to be people who love and care.

Sometimes congregations and Christians forget that. Some stray into believing the only thing that matters in religion is being “right” about what we believe. We are constantly reminded of the importance of being a “sound” church and preaching “sound doctrine.” Let me assure you, I have no desire to detract from that emphasis. In fact, one of the things that attracted me more than thirty-five years ago, and which continues to thrill my soul to this day, is the widespread desire and emphasis in many churches of Christ to “buy the truth, and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23a).   Congregations and Christians who have no desire or concern to be “sound” are in great danger of drifting away from the truth into fables and false doctrines (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

What I want to take issue with in this article is the notion that a church (or preacher or elder or any other Christian) is “sound” and pleasing to God simply on the basis that it knows and believes and preaches truth in the absence of love. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 the apostle Paul uses the phrase “but have not love” three times to remind us even the most extreme expressions of religiosity add up to a big fat zero if devoid of love. Read those verses and you will be reminded that religious practice without love is also without profit. It is possible to sing without the instrument, pray and preach and do the Lord’s Supper and give financially in a way that is outwardly true to the Word — and yet not profit spiritually at all. Let me say it loud and let me say it clear — an unloving preacher, elder, Christian, or congregation is not “sound” according to the Bible.

If you’re still not convinced, read Revelation 2:1-7 where Jesus acknowledged that the church of Christ at first century Ephesus was a hard-working, sin-hating, clean-living, Bible-believing, lie-opposing, teacher-testing, truth-loving, doctrinally sound, untiring, persevering church that was stubbornly standing fast for the truth. But there is a fly in the sugar-bowl! Jesus told this church, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (verse 4). He describes this congregation as having “fallen” and calls on them to repent (verse 5). I’m not suggesting that we love the truth less — I’m urging us to love people more. While a church may love without fully practicing the truth, no church can fully practice the truth and not love.

Dan Gulley

Are YOU one of the FEW?

ARISTARCHUS, MARK AND Justus were the only Jewish Christians who stood with Paul…

The others may have been those of whom Paul wrote, “The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains” (Philippians 1:15-16).  Yes, only three!

There were only a few saved in the ark (1 Peter 3:20-21).

Only two of those twenty old and upward, who came out of Egypt, entered the promise land (Numbers 32:11-12).

Sardis had only “a few names” who had not defiled their garments (Revelation 3:4).

Jesus said, “Many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

He also said “there are few who find” the difficult way and narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14).

May the Lord help us to stand among the few.  (Wendell Winkler)

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

–Mike Benson

Maybe you need to turn off the tv!

Perhaps front and foremost in the minds of most Americans right now is the economy. With Congress having passed the largest spending bill in the history of our country, the increasing loss of jobs, and the fact that Wall Street as well as the overall economy plunging to new lows, many economic “advisers” are scrambling to determine the best course of action to take, and what recommendation to make to their clients regarding their investments. The rule of thumb when it comes to investments is to maintain “consistency” – don’t jump “in” and “out” of the market; just remain consistent in the ups and downs of a market economy and the give and take of the economy will usually balance out in the long run. In the final analysis, however, no one knows what the future holds and the best we can do is use what wisdom the Lord gave us to guide us in our decisions. Unfortunately hind-sight is always better than fore-sight, and our timing in matters pertaining to the material has a lot to do with whether we come out in the positive or suffer with others who have lost their life’s savings in such times as these. Someone has pointed out, “Life is all about timing; the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable attainable! Have the patience, wait it out. It’s all about timing.” Of course those words of wisdom were addressed to precisely what I was speaking about above. But permit me, if you will, to make a little different application of those “timely” words.

You and I are limited by time. We are moving from the “now” to “what shall be.” Our “tomorrow” quickly becomes “today” and “today” is soon in the “past.” So quickly do the days, weeks and years pass that we respect the words of Moses with increasing appreciation: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten, Or even by reason of strength fourscore years; Yet is their pride but labor and sorrow; For it is soon gone, and we fly away” (Psa. 90:10). 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 let’s 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!

–by Tom Wacaster

Why Christians need to be close to one another

CHURCH MEMBERS NEED to be close to church members…

Anytime a Christian creates distance between himself and the church, he is under a great threat of falling away from the faith.  Some folks prefer to not be too involved with the work of the church, choosing rather to fall somewhere between “visitors” and “members”.  They come on Snday mornings to worship God, which is good in itself, but have little or no other interaction with the other Christians in the church for the rest of the week.

Take a valuable history lesson:

When ther great nation of israel prepared to cross the Jordan and take Canaan away from the enemies of God, and thus be blessed, two of the twelve tribes stalled.    1 “Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock; and when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock, 2 the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Shebam, Nebo, and Beon, 4 the country which the LORD defeated before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” 5 Therefore they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan” (Numbers 32:1-5).

The request regarding cattle sounded reasonable, as do most arguments which excuse compromise, but it was compromise none the less.  Their loyalty should have been to God’s people.  In other words, they said, “We like it here in the suburbs of Canaan.  You all go in and fight all the battles of Canaan, and we’ll just be content to build our houses here.”  Moses said, “No way!”  “Shall your brethren go up and fight while you sit here in comfort?”  No.  You come fight the battles of Canaan, and then if you choose, you may come live here in the suburbs of God’s Canaan land.”

And so they did.  Weren’t they like some Christians today who are half-hearted in their loyalty to the Lord’s church?

Let’s look at another scene, after many years have passed.  Israel has had times of great faith and obedience, but many more of idolatry and disobedience.  Ultimately, a divided Israel would fall into the hands of the idolatrous enemies, Assyria and Babylon, because of their worldliness in bowing to the gods of the heathen.  That fact is widely known.  But I want you to see something else.  Which tribes in Isarel went down first?  We see in 1 Chronicles 5:25-26 that is was Reuben and Gad.

As history progressed, it appears that they bowed first to the gods of the nearby peoples; and now they are the first to go into captivity.  Half-heartedness in the united work of God’s people always seems and easy way to be religious, but it costs, not pays.

The solution is to grow out of it!  Never be satisfied with keeping your distance from the activities of the Lord’s church.  Attend all the services of the Lord’s church.  Find a good work you can enjoy doing, and get at it.  Take advantage of opportunities to be around other Christians.

Be close, stay close, and let’s help each other go to heaven.  Glenn Colley

“Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?”  Ecclesiastes 4:11

–Mike Benson

If saved, barely saved

“ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS saved” is wrong–the Bible teaches that one can fall from grace…

However, “If saved, barely saved,” is equally wrong!  We not only teach that “One can fall from grace–he probably will!”  Brethren come to worship to be “horsewhipped!”  How morbid!  You cannot whip brethren fifty-two Sundays a year and develop matured Christians!  Happy people sing (James 5:13)!  Our brethren worship in fear not faith!  …Christians cannot worship without “Blessed Assurance!”  We are so afraid of falling we don’t know where we are standing!  We have preached guilt but not grace.

Some wish to “die in the baptistry.”  How pathetic!  We are born to live not born to be born!  According to our thinking it would be “Christian mercy” to kill all new converts immediately after baptism!  If we can trust in birth (baptism), we cannot we trust in life?  If we can know we are saved ten minutes after baptism, why not ten years?  (Charles Hodge)

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

–Mike Benson

How David was a type of Christ

Have you ever considered how David and some events in his life looked forward to Jesus and some of His work?

“David’s struggle with Goliath answers to Christ’s struggle with Satan. In both cases, it was the enemy’s own weapon which was used to destroy him (Hebrews 2:14). Both David and Christ were sent by their father with a message to the brethren. Both were rejected. David was, in a sense, a mediator between the lines of Israel and the Philistines; Christ is the one Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).”

–Coffman’s commentary on the NT, Mt. 1

Do you seek to please God or man?

Our recent bout with winter weather reminds me of a story about an old railroad conductor.

It seems that on one particularly frigid night, he was ever-so-carefully punching tickets at the entrance to a train car.

Several of the passengers were huddled outside, shivering in the cold, waiting to get on board, when suddenly one of the folks said in a rather critical tone, “You’re not very popular tonight, conductor.” To which the conductor calmly replied, “I’m mainly interested in being in good standing with the superintendent of this railroad.”

Doing what is right is not always popular, but our primary goal ought to be to place our “Heavenly Superintendent” and not to worry so much about what other people say.

The Bible urges, “Therefore we make it our aim … to be pleasing to Him” (1 Corinthians 5:9).

Good reader, which is more important to you: to be pleasing to God, or to be pleasing to men? Think about it.

Mike Benson

Some charming women

I once visited a local detention center and witnessed some female inmates attempting to woo a male guard. These ladies seemed to know all the right moves and really turned on the charm to get what they wanted. As I witnessed these women trying to entice an officer to do their bidding, I could not help but think of Prov. 31:30: “Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; (But) a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised.”

The wise man knew charm can be deceptive; hopefully the guards at this facility are wise enough to realize this truth. The wise man also said beauty does not last.

Good looks, charm, money, and fame can help people carve out a pretty nice life for themselves. In the end what really matters is whether or not we are right with God.

Are you, dear reader, right with Him?

Brad Price

He pulled the knobs off his radio

The story is told of a man who once bought a new radio, brought it home, and placed it on the refrigerator. He then plugged it in, turned to WSM in Nashville (home of the Grand Ole Opry) and proceeded to do the most unusual thing. He pulled all the knobs off! He had already tuned in all he ever wanted or expected to hear, and so he chose to limit his radio reception to one station.

Perhaps if more in the world would do this with regard to the word of God we would have a lot less religious confusion in the world. Too many are tuning in to every channel of doctrine. Paul warns, “Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). We must tune only into God’s channel His holy word, for our direction. This is why Jeremiah declared, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).

– Tom Moore

How a pea grew inside a man

A man who thought he had lung cancer went to a doctor. Rather than be diagnosed with cancer, a physician found a pea growing inside him.

Ron Sveden, a 75 year-old from Massachusetts, was a man who had a pea sprouting in his lung. Sveden’s symptoms of fatigue, coughing and a loss of appetite were caused by a single pea that “went to the wrong place and sprouted.” Thankfully the sprouted pea has been removed and Sveden was said to be recovering when this article was first written.

Speaking of peas and growth, how are you doing? Are you “growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18)? Are some things “growing” (sprouting) in your life that need to be removed? Make sure you have the “right things” growing in the “right places.”

Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid

NEHEMIAH RETURNED TO the ruins of Jerusalem to restore the city…

He rallied the remnant people of Israel, and they immediately began rebuilding the wall. Several naysayers and antagonistic groups attempted to intimidate the workers and stall the work. Then word came to Nehemiah and his workers that the enemies were about to attack. Listen to the anxious voices around Nehemiah:

We are exhausted: “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot build the wall.”

We are doomed: “Our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.'”

We are outnumbered: “Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.'”

The situation became highly charged with anxiety: Nehemiah’s workers were anxious. The antagonists also became anxious, fearing the Jews might actually succeed in rebuilding the wall and take power.

However, rather than joining in the anxious fray of his people and of their enemies, Nehemiah remained calm, creative, and focus on the goal. He calmed his people’s fears and then galvanized them to action. In fifty-two days the wall stood at its full height. Rather than freeze, flee, or even fight, Nehemiah led his people through the emotional pain to which they subjected themselves and accomplished the task. (Jon Mullican)

“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid'” (Matthew 14:27).

–Mike Benson

Noah took God at His word

NOAH CONSTRUCTED THE ark by faith (Hebrews 11:7)…

Did Noah spend a hundred years building the ark with an uncertifiable faith? Did Noah’s faith declare, “I believe that God is, that He has instructed me to build an ark, but I cannot prove it?” Did Noah step forth from the ark with an uncorroborated faith that leaps around in the dark? Noah knew that God is, that God has spoken, and that God had enjoined him to erect an ark. Noah knew that it was God who fragmented the earth and immersed it in water, and not some explosive accident of nature. Noah knew that it was God who guided the ark through the massive turbulence and safely secured it on the mountain of Ararat. Noah took God at His word and did what he was told to do. That is what faith is, and that is what faith does. (Frank Chessser)

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:17).

–Mike Benson

Is failing to pray a sin?

All those who behave wickedly do not understand – those who devour my people as if they were eating bread, and do not call out to the Lord. Psalm 14:4 NET

We think of failing to prayer, of calling out to the Lord, as an oversight. A slip-up. One of those items we didn’t check off our list. Important, sure, but like a lot of other things we didn’t get around to doing today.

But tomorrow we’ll make time for it. So we tell ourselves. So we lie to ourselves. So we justify ourselves to God.

The Lord looks down from heaven to see if anyone is seeking him. How he must be disappointed over and over again!

To God, not praying is part of the extreme evil of his people. None righteous. They rip off their fellow Christians. They’re practical atheists. They don’t even pray! (Read verse 1-3.)

Failure to pray is evil, for without prayer we attempt to do things on our own power.

Without prayer, we seek our own way.

Without prayer, we are the gods of our own lives, the very idols we have set up to worship.

Without prayer, we attempt the change we want to see in ourselves and our world.

Without prayer, we are lost, weak, without direction, without power, without understanding.

Without prayer, we are evil to the core.

What’s your prayer today?

–J. Randal Matheny @

A global tobacco epidemic

Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are men who need little introduction. Gates, founder of the Microsoft empire, and Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, are both rich beyond imagination. On Wednesday of this week, they declared their intention to pool some of their resources for a worthy cause.

The focus of their efforts is an attempt to curb smoking in developing nations. Most in the United States now know that smoking cigarettes poses serious threats to one’s health. People in other countries, like China and India, have not been adequately warned, believe Bloomberg and Gates. Together they have pledged half a billion dollars to fight “a global tobacco epidemic.”

We applaud the efforts of these billionaires. Their actions qualify as an example of philanthropy. Perhaps others will be motivated by their examples to be more generous on behalf of others.

The word “philanthropy” comes from the Greek, the language of the New Testament. “Phil” refers to “love” and “anthropos” is the word for “man”. The word is found in the Bible, most notably in Titus 3:4-5: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared … he saved us …” (NKJV) “Love” in that verse is translated from “philanthropia,” and is a concept upon which our salvation depends. Had God not felt this love toward man, we would have been abandoned in a hopeless struggle with sin.

If God’s love for mankind shows itself in clear and powerful ways, should God’s people not also seek to show their love for others? Can we be described as philanthropic?

Helping people attain healthier lifestyles is a noble aim, but it falls far short of helping them reach salvation. On this point, Paul’s questions continue to demand an answer: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14,15).

Imagine the eternal good that could be accomplished with half a billion dollars! Missionaries could be placed in distant locations; radio broadcasts could preach God’s word where congregations do not yet exist; food, clothing and shelter could prepare the way for the gospel in areas ravaged by natural disaster. People will only be able to call upon the Lord when they know about him. Tragically, millions in our world have still not heard of Jesus.

We can’t wait for a Bill Gates or a Michael Bloomberg to fund the spread of the gospel. But thousands of Christians can step forward with smaller amounts, and this “seed” will go far in reaching the lost (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-11). While individual giving to charitable institutions declines, disciples who trust the promises of God must demonstrate their superior philanthropy.

Tim Hall