Archives for : August2012

I was never ashamed to confess my ignorance

“Say oh wise man how you have come to such knowledge? Because I was never ashamed to confess my ignorance and ask others.”

Johann Gottfried von Herder, German philosopher, theologian, and poet (1744-1803)

What We Want and What We Need

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Black smoke poured out of the upstairs bedroom window, and Sam could smell the acrid combination of a home burning – melting plastic, carpeting, electrical wiring, all being consumed in the hungry flames of his home, literally going up in smoke.

He had just a few moments to get some things out – the things he needed. His computer? Documents from a safe that had his bank numbers and passports? The new Mercedes sports car he had bought last week, still in the garage, and as yet untouched by the fire?

His mind was cluttered. It ground down to a crawl. And this very instant, he had to decide what he really needed in life, what he could not live without.

Then he heard his wife Serena scream: “Sam, that’s Jordan’s room! He’s still in there!” Jordan with the tousled hair and the dimples in his smile was their three year-old son.

Sam’s wants and wishes vanished. Nothing else mattered except his boy. He held his coat over his head, and threw his shoulder against the crumbling front door. The only thing he needed was his son, back safe in his arms.

There’s a difference between what we want and what we need, though life’s clutter blurs the distinction at times. Don’t let the threat of a fire, temporary or eternal, remind you of that!

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Lies you may be believing!

In a few instances, New Testament passages speak of people who delude themselves or are deluded by others.  Paul was worried about the Colossians being deluded by a persuasive argument made by false teachers (Col. 2:4).  He had warned Rome about those who deceive the unsuspecting (Rom. 16:18).  Then, Paul talks about those whose hearts are hardened by sin who God allows to be deluded so that they believe what is false (2 Th. 2:11).  While his immediate concern is the man of lawlessness discussed in context, how needed are his words in our current climate?  Sadly, so many today like those of every generation, believe the lies told by those in places of influence or who possess a resonating voice in the culture.  What are some lies people believe?

  • Evolution is a flawless theory and creation the simpleton’s choice.
  • Money equals happiness and poverty equals misery.
  • An affair is fun and exciting and marital faithfulness is boring and unfulfilling.
  • Since there are so many more people in religion who reject baptism as essential and embrace instrumental music in worship, “they” must be right and “we” must be wrong.
  • You are only young once, so live life to the fullest and be willing to try anything once.
  • Honesty does not pay.
  • Children should be allowed to make their choices without interference from their parents, even concerning how involved in the church they should be.
  • If I am not happy, I should be allowed to do whatever it takes to be happy.
  • It is my life and I will do as I please (or, “It’s all about me!”).
  • Everybody’s doing “it” (substitute any number of things for “it”).
  • Christians are delusional, sheltered, and the most judgmental, intolerant people on earth.

There are many more, but these are some with which you should be familiar.  So, how do we keep from believing a lie?  We must know the truth, and we can know it (John 8:32).  We must believe the truth (Eph. 1:13).  We must obey the truth (cf. Gal. 5:7).  The only antidote known for such lies is the truth.  Let us stick with that, and we will build immunity from some very deadly and deceiving philosophies out there.

–Neal Pollard

Why, in the realm of religion, do people believe and act as they do?

VIRTUALLY EVERY RELIGION is learned…

New Testament Christianity is no exception to this rule.  When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, after warning him of evil men he said, “But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).  Why then, in the realm of religion, do people believe and act as they do?

Why do our friends in the Catholic Church engage in so much ceremonialism in their various services?  If one should ask such a question, the answer no doubt would be, “This is the way we learned it.”  Ask a Muslim why he believes as he does and the answer most likely will be the same, “This is the way we learned it.”  Why do all people who profess to follow Christ engage in so many unscriptural practices?  The answer is still the same, “This is the way we learned it.”  But from where did they learn it?  Certainly not from the Bible.  If the source of our learning is corrupt, our learning will be no better.

It’s not enough to be taught.  We must concern ourselves with where and by whom we were taught.  Fortunately for Timothy, his faith was instilled in him by a godly mother and grandmother (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5).  So, a hand-me-down faith is not necessarily bad, provided of course, those handing down their faith are sound in the faith.

As Christians, we should ask ourselves why we believe as we do.  Where did we learn it?  We should be able to go to the Scriptures and say, “Here is why I believe as I do.  I learned it from the Bible.”  (Marlin Kilpatrick)

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’  Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44-45).

Mike Benson

 

A squirrel eating an ice cream cone

God feeds the birds (Mt. 6:26) as well as the squirrels.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Seek and ye shall find!

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

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

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

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

Many of the great things in life come through searching and this is certainly true in the area of religion.  In Mt. 7:7 Jesus said:  “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”  In Mt. 13:44 Jesus said:  “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field ; which a man found, and hid; and in his joy he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”

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

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

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

Are you prepared to die?

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

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

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

This story, which is said to be true, contains some interesting lessons.  First, it reminds Christians about the need to be evangelistic (Mk. 16:15-16).  Second, it reminds us to choose our words carefully.  We may know what we mean, but others may not (Col. 4:5-6).  Third, a time will come when either we die (Heb. 9:27) or the Lord will return (2 Thess. 1:7-10).

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

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

Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).

We cannot be a child of God without repentance (Lk. 13:3).

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

We must also be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and then “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7).

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Famous saying by Benjamin Franklin

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN IS accredited with saying that there is nothing in this life that is certain except death and taxes…

Funny, is it not, how neither seems to come at an opportune time?  Death is something that we never come to grips with.  We deny that it happens.  We put it off until another day.  We try to run ahead of it to ensure that it never catches up.  Some even try to buy it off but they never succeed for death comes to us all.

However, this isn’t much comfort when our loved ones pass on.  We have all lost someone near and ear to us.  A grandparent.  An uncle or aunt.  A parent.  A sibling.  A close friend in the prime of life.  And when these deaths occur in trivial circumstances, the pain is almost suffocating.  A friend commits suicide.  Another is taken in an automobile accident.  A grandparent or parent who develops cancer is given only two weeks to live.  An uncle is murdered.

It happens.

It shouldn’t.

But it does.

The pain that comes from death is worse than anything else that humanity can imagine or create.  You see, death represents finality.  That’s it.  It’s the end of the line.  They are gone.  Your loved one is now only a memory.  At least that is true for those who never know Christ.  But for the ones who do, death is only a brief milestone between earth and eternity.  (Michael Whitworth)

“…It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Mike Benson

Is Our Thanksgiving Sincere?

Paul spoke of the Gentiles in this fashion…

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” ( Romans 1:21 ESV).

Did you catch the “progression” in that verse?

* The Gentiles knew God. * The Gentiles did not honor God. * The Gentiles did not give thanks to God. * The Gentiles became futile in their thinking and their hearts were darkened.

Watch it. Even though the Gentiles KNEW God existed (because a creation implied a Creator, vv. 19-20), they did not respond to their knowledge of him. They refused to recognize, acknowledge, or bow down to him in worship.

They did not accept the fact that he was the singular source of all their blessings. They decided that blind fortune or human merit afforded the totality of life’s rewards.

And what was the inevitable result of this failure to express honor and gratitude to God?

Paul said their thinking became futile. The word means “empty.” I find it interesting that the same Greek word translated “futile” is the same word in the Septuagint/1 used for idols (e.g., Leviticus 17:7; 2 Chronicles 11:15). You see, idols are empty; they are nothing.

So instead of building their minds on the reality of God, the Gentiles built them on their own senseless speculation and therefore became futile or empty in their thinking.

I don’t know about you, but I hear a strong warning in Romans 1:21. It is possible for me to know (and even admit) that God exists, but then fail to show my love and gratitude towards him.

The consequences of perennial ingratitude mean that my thinking becomes empty and I lose the ability to make any moral distinctions.

We sometimes wonder how politicians can reference deity but then enact laws that are in direction contradiction to divine revelation. I understand now how that happens. It’s about ingratitude. Thanklessness. Folks who chose not to thank God will inevitably pursue legislation that is empty and void of God’s will.

I need to be more grateful. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be confined to a day, it should be a lifestyle. _______

1/ The Greek translation of the Old Testament.

by Mike Benson @ www.forthright.net

Accused of strangulation

I once met someone who was accused of strangling another person.

As this alleged strangler told me his story I could not help but contemplate his behavior and appearance.  He was not using curse words; his body was not riddled with tattoos and there were none of the “tough guy” signs I would expect to find on an accused strangler.  In fact, everything about this young man made him look like a model citizen.  Why would the police send out three officers to arrest someone who had such a clean-cut appearance and such a pleasant demeanor?

After finishing his story the accused strangler told me he was innocent.  He said the person who called 911 and claimed he had strangled her was a liar with a vendetta.

I do not know whether this accused strangler is being railroaded or not, but God knows.  According to 1 Cor. 4:5, the Lord will one day return and He “will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.”

Maybe some who read these words have some “secret sins.”  If so, God knows what these things are and these things and they will be exposed at the end of time.  It is better to deal with “secret things” now than to have them exposed at the Lord’s return.

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

God has no *plan B*

This is Truth: “There is ONE body, ONE Spirit, ONE hope, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, and ONE God” (Ephesians 4:4-5).

This is False:  “There is MORE than one body, MORE that one Spirit, MORE that one hope, MORE that one Lord, MORE than one faith, MORE than one baptism, and MORE that one God. Consider: can one be saved by believing and following a falsehood?

I fear that many, even in the Lord’s church, while they may not intellectually admit it, have the idea that “somehow” every fairly decent person is going to be saved even if the person doesn’t worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24); even if they don’t seek the kingdom first (Matt. 6:33); even if they don’t take up their cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23); and even if they have never been baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38).

The condition that promotes this fear is the steadily declining urgency to tell others about the Christ of the Bible.  Many confess (by their action and attitude), that they don’t believe that I or anyone else has the right to challenge or question another’s faith!  The Apostle Paul questioned the baptism of 12 men (Acts 19:1-7), and explained to them how their baptism was wrong, and then baptized them according to the Gospel. Today, to question another’s faith seems to be a cardinal sin!

God has only ONE plan of salvation, and that is His Gospel (Romans 1:16); and there is no “plan B.”  We are either saved in the way God says we must be saved, or we are lost.

“What about people who have never heard the Gospel?” Well, if people can go to heaven because they have never heard the Gospel, then we would be doing them an injustice by trying to fulfill our Lord’s Great Commission. Why teach them and take a chance on them refusing it and being lost, when they could be saved if they never heard?  Such logic assumes that people will be with God in Heaven for all eternity precisely because they never heard of Christ!  That is, by their not hearing the Truth, they are assumed to have a free pass into Heaven!

Did Jesus, or did not Jesus say, “NO ONE comes to the Father by Me” (John 14:6)? Did Jesus mean that if you hear My Gospel and obey it, you can come to the Father, but if you don’t hear the Gospel you can come ANYWAY?!

Since there is no effect without a cause, and the effect is a deadening of our urgency to evangelize our friends and neighbors, we must determine the “cause” of this effect and correct it. Could the cause be that we are “drifting away from our great salvation? (Hebrews. 2:1-3).  Paul writes, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith…unless indeed you are disqualified” (2Corinthians 13:5).    –Toby Miller

Free Christmas gifts

The first call of the morning on a December morning was from a woman seeking free Christmas gifts for her family.  The gist of the conversation was something like this:

Caller:  “Are you the big church on the corner?”

My response:  “No, that is not us.”

Caller:  “Are you helping people for Christmas this year?”

My response:  “We are not involved in that type of work.”

Caller:  “Goodbye.”

This caller reminded me of Jn. 6:27:  “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.”

In my mind I thought  of how Jn. 6:27 could be applied to “Christmas gifts” and the verse would read something like this:  “Work not for the gifts which perisheth—temporary items like Christmas gifts—but for the gifts which abideth.”

We certainly do need to “work for food” (2 Thess. 3:10), but our primary emphasis needs to be on the spiritual part of life.  How sad that some work so hard to find free Christmas goodies but pay little to no attention to their eternal spirit.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

The first call of the morning was from a woman seeking free Christmas gifts for her family.  The gist of the conversation was something like this:

Caller:  “Are you the big church on the corner?”

My response:  “No, that is not us.”

Caller:  “Are you helping people for Christmas this year?”

My response:  “We are not involved in that type of work.”

Caller:  “Goodbye.”

This caller reminded me of Jn. 6:27:  “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.”

In my mind I thought  of how Jn. 6:27 could be applied to “Christmas gifts” and the verse would read something like this:  “Work not for the gifts which perisheth—temporary items like Christmas gifts, but for the gifts which abideth.”

We certainly do need to “work for food” (2 Thess. 3:10), but our primary emphasis needs to be on the spiritual part of life.  How sad that some work so hard to find free Christmas goodies but pay little to no attention to their eternal spirit.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

The wrong room!

On June 6, 1981, Doug Whitt and his new bride, Sylvia, were escorted into their hotel’s fancy bridal suite in the wee hours of the morning. In the room they saw a sofa, chairs, and table, but no bed. Then they discovered the sofa was a hide-a-bed, with a lumpy mattress and sagging springs.

After a fitful night’s sleep they woke up in the morning with sore backs. The new husband went to the hotel desk and gave the management a tongue-lashing.

“Did you open the door in the room?” asked the clerk.

Doug went back to the room. He opened the door they had thought was a closet.
And there, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates, was a beautiful bedroom! *

How often WE miss out on life’s greatest blessings because we are looking
in “the wrong room.”  We often look for happiness and fulfillment in the world.
But, we’re looking in the wrong place!

The world offers many pleasures…  Some are acceptable to God and some are not.  A beautiful sunset, the majesty of mountains, brightly colored flowers, inspiring music, etc. are great blessings to man.  But some are sinful in God’s sight.  These are the “pleasures” of which John writes:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love
of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever”
(1 John 2:15-17).

The greatest blessings in life – things like peace, love, forgiveness, and hope — are NOT found in the world; they are found in Christ!  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

And Jesus is the DOOR through which we must enter to receive these truly great and lasting blessings (John 10:7-9).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Our SIN is that barrier that keeps us from the abundant life now and eternal life to come.  But Jesus died on the cross as payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
If we will submit our lives to Him in faith (Acts 16:30-31), repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confession (Romans 10:9-10), and baptism (immersion) in His name (Acts 2:38), then our sins are washed away by His blood and we are found in Christ, where all spiritual blessings are enjoyed!  And, if we will live faithfully to Him, He will lead us to eternal life (1 John 1:7)!

Have YOU been looking in the wrong room?  Enter through the Door of Life on God’s terms and you’ll find, by God’s grace, the greatest blessings of all.

Won’t you?

— David A. Sargent,

An e-mail from *Darrell*

Today I received an e-mail from “Darrell” entitled “concern.”  Darrell is troubled that our congregational web site does not teach “salvation by faith alone.”

Darrell asked me to examine more than 30 Scriptures to prove his claim that salvation is by faith alone, but every verse he cited speaks of being saved “by faith” instead of salvation by “faith alone.”

My reply to Darrell included the following statement:  “If you could show me where “faith alone” is used in the Bible to describe salvation, I would be grateful.”

So far Darrell has not written back.  Maybe he has not yet looked his e-mail or maybe he is searching for just one passage that supports his belief that salvation is by “faith alone.”

“Faith alone” is found just one time in the New Testament; the NIV uses this exact wording in Jas. 2:24 to say “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”

Many claim we ARE saved by “faith alone,” but God’s inspired spokesman says a person is NOT saved by faith alone.  Who will we believe—God or a man like Darrell?

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

A Bible subject involving more than 2,500 verses!

Contradictions of Calvinism by Mike Benson

Bad news travels fast–especially in religious circles. The latest fatality is Dr. Jack Schaaps, “pastor” of the 15,000 member First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Schaaps is 54, married with two children, and has served with the congregation for about eleven years.

He’s also been involved in an illicit relationship with a 16-year-old female church member.

According to news reports, a deacon noticed a text message on Schaap’s cell phone. The image showed preacher and girl engaged in a kiss. When confronted by his church board, Schaaps admitted to having an affair with the youth.

From a legal standpoint, the preacher is not in trouble because the legal age of consent for sexual activity in Indiana is 16. But from a professional, marital, and moral standpoint, Schaaps is in all kinds of hot water.

But here’s the kicker. Jack Schaaps is a Calvinist. Let that marinade around your brain stem for just a moment.

One of the petals of Calvinism (e.g., TULIP) is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints–what is popularly known as “once-saved, always-saved.” The idea is that once God has saved you, there is absolutely nothing you can do to be lost. Period. Dot. End of sentence.

However popular the doctrine may be within the religious world today, it is simply not in harmony with the teaching of Scripture. In reality, there are over 2,500 places in the Bible that teach a child of God can sin and be lost. Here’s a brief sampling from the New Testament:

* In the Parable of the Talents, the servant who buried his one talent was cast into outer darkness (Matthew 25:14-30). * In the Parable of the Soils, some who become children of God have their faith choked by thorns (Mark 4:14- 20). * Some believe for a time, but, fall away because they succumb to temptation (Luke 8:13). * Jesus is the vine and Christians are the branches. A branch that does not bear fruit is cut off and burned. * Judas fell (Acts 1:25). * Ananias and Sapphira were Christians who died in their sins (Acts 5:1-11). * Simon was in danger of losing his soul (Acts 8:20-22). * If a child of God lives according to the flesh, he will die spiritually (Romans 8:12-13). * The brother in the church at Corinth who had his father’s wife was in a lost condition until he repented (1 Corinthians 5:1-3, 5; 2 Corinthians 2:3-11; Revelation 21:27). * A weak brother can perish (1 Corinthians 8:11). * Even Paul could have been castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27). * The Israelites fell and were lost (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). * Some Christians in Galatia had already fallen because they had turned back to elements of the old law (Galatians 5:2-4). * See also 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Ezekiel 3:20; 18:21-25.

The episode in Dr. Schaap’s life is heart-breaking. He has sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. His influence has been destroyed, his marriage has been damaged, and our society continues its downward spiral into the moral abyss.

But perhaps what wrenches my heart most of all is that many, like Dr. Schaaps, do not choose to see in the Word what is clearly illustrated in his life.

How can a person claim to be saved in Christ when his life and teaching are obviously not Christ-like?

Read this article online, write your reaction, and read
others’ comments as well. Click here:
http://tinyurl.com/8tya5yj

I’m dying from cancer. Please pray for my family

Earlier this week, I received an email from an old high school classmate and friend. During our high school years, we were very close. Had a lot of laughs, played a lot of pranks, and helped each other navigate that perilous path that leads one from a boyhood to a young adult. But after graduation from high school, we went our separate ways, and our paths have only briefly crossed once in the past 30 years.until last week.Out of the blue, I received a message from my old friend and it said, “Higgy, I’m dying from cancer. Please pray for my family.”

That was it. Nothing more. Short and to the point. What took only a few seconds to write has consumed my thoughts this past week. So many memories have flooded my mind. Though I haven’t seen this friend but once in 30 years, I feel as though I’ve been transported back through time and the past 30 years haven’t happened. But they have. And I’m heartbroken for my old friend, and will certainly honor his request.

But let this be a reminder to all of us. We’re all dying. Whether we are cognizant of it or not, each day we are a day closer to our death. Therefore, say what you need to say to your friends and family while you have time. Don’t allow loving words to go unspoken, then later to haunt you with regret. Not tomorrow, but today, tell someone you love how you feel. Remember, you and your loved one are dying.

Steve Higginbotham

Are you pressing toward the mark, or just pressing?

“EVERYBODY ENDS UP somewhere in life…

A few people end up somewhere on purpose.”1

The quote reminds me of the words of Paul to the saints at Philippi: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).  Paul had a mark toward which he was running.  Of course, that mark was heaven.

THOUGHT: What about you?  Are you pressing toward the mark, or just pressing?  (Wade Webster)

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

1/ Andy Stanley, Visioneering, p. 8

Mike Benson

For the Red Baron, the temptation of number 81 was too much

THE DAY WAS April 21, 1918…

It occurred during World War I.  Baron Manfred von Richthofen led his flight of triplanes to search for British observation aircraft.  An engagement ensued between a flight of Sopwith Camels led by Canadian Royal Air Force pilot Captain Arthur Roy Brown.  Brown’s friend, Lt. Wilfred May, was a rookie on his first offensive patrol.  May had been ordered to keep out of combat, but he couldn’t resist.  He jammed his guns and, defenseless, headed away from the battle.  Richthofen spotted the lone plane and chose it for kill number 81.  Brown observed the scene below him and dove to help his fellow airman, knowing that May was no match for Richthofen.

Read was happened next: “It was then, with Brown closing from behind, that Richthofen, usually a meticulous and disciplined fighter pilot, made a mistake and broke one of his own rules by following May too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory.  Two miles behind the Allied lines, as Brown caught up with Richthofen and fired, the chase passed over the machinegun nests of Australian Field artillery.”  The debate continues over who fired the fatal shot that passed through Richthofen’s torso.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter–whether hit from the air or the ground, the Red Baron was mortally wounded.

Richthofen was good.  Probably overconfident.  But he broke one of his own rules.  Maybe in his mind he was just stretching the rule a bit.  Or he was distracted by something that appeared too good to be true.  Whatever the cause, he compromised his own standards, which led to his demise.  For the Red Baron, the temptation of number 81 was too much.

THOUGHT: The temptation always exists for you and for me to focus on the wrong things.  it is easy to be distracted by “the number$” or something else.  Then we find ourselves flying too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory, into the bondage of sin, and ultimately to our own destruction (Romans 6:23; Matthew 7:13-14).  The right thing to do is to set our eyes on Jesus and follow Him, for He will lead us to eternal life in heaven.  (David A. Sargent)

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Mike Benson

GIVE YOUR TOBACCO TO A CHIMPANZEE?

As a little child, I remember learning and loving a song we would sing at Vacation Bible School time and sometimes during the weekly Bible class time.  You may know the song:

Don’t drink booze, don’t drink booze,
Spend your money on a pair of shoes.
Please don’t smoke, please don’t smoke,
Feed your tobacco to a billy goat.
Please don’t curse, please don’t curse,
I can’t think of anything that’s worse.
Be polite, be polite,
Always treat other people right.
Worship God, worship God,
Don’t go Sunday with a fishing rod.

Even as a tyke, I knew I was being indoctrinated about the perils of using alcohol, tobacco, and curse words as well as the need for courtesy and faithful attendance.  It so happens that I could see the logic in the lesson it taught.

The Associated Press reports that Omega, a 12-year-old chimp, has developed a nicotine addiction from his cage at a Lebanese zoo. Omega has not had an ordinary life, even for a chimpanzee in captivity.  He began life as an entertainer in a local restaurant (you can’t make this stuff up!), where he smoked cigarettes until he was too big and strong for that gig.  The last 10 years have been spent at the zoo, where he waited for those moments when a visitor would toss him a cigarette inside his cage.  Animal rights activists are rescuing him, putting him on an Emirates airline flight, and relocating him to a sanctuary in Brazil where it is presumed they will try to rehabilitate him and break his smoking habit.
Omega cannot be held responsible for an unhealthy choice he cannot possibly weigh and rationalize.  Tobacco is an addictive substance, providing a short-term pleasure and creating a dependency that increases with continued use.  He is not made in God’s image (cf. Gen. 1:27), and he has no heaven to gain or hell to lose (cf. Matt. 25:31ff; 2 Cor. 5:10).  We, on the other hand, have been given stewardship over time, money, talents, and other resources, including our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  There are a myriad of choices we make that can harm those bodies, from overeating to drug abuse to tobacco use.  We do not want to make deliberate choices that wear down or weaken those bodies in which we are to be found wholeheartedly serving the Lord.  The list of poor health conditions related to the effects of long-term, regular smoking is very long.

Beyond that, we should not want to be enslaved to anything or anyone other than our Lord and righteousness.  How sad to see a chimp reduced to taking a drag from a used cigarette.  Sadder still is to see people made in the image of God reduced to nervous, distressed, agitated messes for want of another smoke.  Let us work not to let cigarettes or any other earthly thing make a monkey out of us!

–Neal Pollard

Is any church the right church?

When my wife and I moved into our house, we noticed a “church of God” right across the street from us.  Since we had never been in this church, we really had no idea what they taught or believed in.  Since they do have a biblical name (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; etc), we did not know if they were teaching the truth and striving to be like the New Testament church.  They have a marquee sign outside the building which usually has a well crafted and thought provoking statement.  I found myself reading their marquee sign often.  However, one morning as I was driving by, their sign read, “Salvation is a Prayer Away.”  These five little words said a great deal about this church.
We live in a time of great religious confusion.  Which church is the correct one?  Which church is teaching truth?  Where is the church of the New Testament?  Are all churches equal in God’s eyes?  While there is much religious debate and confusion, hopefully one statement can be agreed upon: If a church does not teach/practice what the Bible teaches, then it simply cannot be the church found in the New Testament.

Throughout Scripture, people are being warned to watch out for false teachers and doctrine (Matthew 7:15; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; etc).  In 1 Timothy 6:20, Paul said to Timothy, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”– which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith….”  Scripture shows there is false knowledge, false teachers, false doctrines, and even false religions.  This also must mean there is a true church.

God purposely made it so His church would stand out from the rest.  He gave specific commands to be followed.  If one is truly looking for the church found in the New Testament, it can be discovered by what the church does and teaches.  A church is either following God’s commands or not.  Since the Bible is the only inspired guide we have to tell us what is truth and is not truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17), God has given a divine promise that people who seek can, and will, find which church is the true church (Matthew 7:7; John 8:31).

I knew nothing about the church across the street, but just from those five little words, volumes were spoken.  It said they were not the church of the New Testament and they were not teaching the truth, at least about salvation (Acts 2:36-38; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-4; etc).

We live in a culture that presses heavily for religious unity and acceptance.  God clearly wants unity and acceptance, but not at the expense of His commands (Mark 16:16; Matthew 7:21; etc).  With a plethora of different religious thoughts and philosophies, the only way one can determine truth is through the Bible (John 17:17).  God’s word reveals everything people need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).  All of the answers are there.  May we always use His Word to determine not only which church is the true church, but also what truth is, and how it applies to each of us.

Brett Petrillo