Archives for : September2012

Predictions for 2012

In the midst of these challenges and struggles, what can the people of God be sure of in 2012?

1. God will still be on His throne.

2. Christ will still live to make intercession for us.

3. The Bible will still have the answer to our most important questions.

4. Prayer will still be the most powerful “tool” at our disposal.

5. The blood of Christ will still cleanse us of our sins.

6. God will still be praised and honored by His people.

7. God will still pour out His blessings on His people.

8. There will still be faithful gospel preaching.

9. Jesus will still love us.

10. There will still be room at the cross.

11. Jesus will still save those who come to Him.

Of course, as we made these “predictions,” we worked various scripture passages into them, showing that, regardless of what life may bring to us this year, we can be sure of the above.

We need to be often reminded that — as the ancient prophet stated and as the New Testament apostle quoted him — “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25).

Each of the preceding predictions will be fulfilled unless the Lord returns between now and December 31st, 2012.

–by Hugh Fulford

What Not To Do When You Don’t Know What To Say

We have all been there.  It may have been a situation where a family is struggling with the loss of a loved one or the aftermath of some tragedy.  It may be when confronted or asked a difficult question.  It may have been one of those “awkward” moments where you were one of the ones feeling the tension of painful silence.  In all of these scenarios, we may well be thinking, “Somebody needs to say ‘something.'”  Some of us may go further and thing that “somebody” means “us.”

I would love to be privy to Peter’s thought processes on those occasions where he “popped” off in one of those tense moments.  We have long considered Peter “Mr. Impetuosity.”  Indeed, he could be rash and reckless with his tongue.  The account of Jesus’ transfiguration (i.e., “his clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them”-Mark 9:3) seems to me to at least have a humorous tinge to it despite the significance of the moment showing the superiority of Christ over the leading lights among Old Testament leaders and prophets.  Mark 9:5 shows Peter spouting off his grand plan to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  But, why did he spout?  The text says, “Because he did not know what to say” (6).  That makes me smile because I can relate!  Anyone who knows me well knows I have had occasions where I spoke to break the awkward silence and tension of the moment and not always with the most eloquent results.  Can you relate?
What can help us avoid doing the wrong thing when we don’t know what to say?

First, think before you speak.  How much damage control would be done if we ran our comments through an internal, mental filter?  “How will this sound?”  “Is my attitude right?”  “Am I giving thought to tone?”  “What about message content?”  “Is it the right thing for the moment?”  “Will this be helpful or harmful?”  Of course, common sense is assumed to be a part of this internal process, but just pausing to think will be of great benefit.  The book of Proverbs repeatedly mentions the prudent man as one who carefully maintains the tongue at crucial times (12:23; 13:16; 17:28).  He thinks before he speaks.

Second, think about whether you should speak.  The old adage “silence is golden” has lost favor in this information age.  We are accustomed to noise, even at times where silence is the natural, obvious choice.  Job’s friends excelled when they first came to Job.  They just sat with him.  It was the best thing they could have done.  Unfortunately, thereafter, they said just about every wrong thing that could be said.  Sometimes, we should not say anything.  We should either be content to “be” or, as is usually the case, focus on being a learner and observer rather than a lecturer or orator.  There are occasions when the think we do not say is the very best thing we could say (by our example).

Third, think about what is the best thing to speak.  Several books and articles have been written to recommend what should or should not be said in difficult moments.  It is a biblical concept that we should shape our speech with supplication and study.  In other words, let us pray about saying the right things and fill our heart with the Word so that “God’s language” is a regularly part of our mental makeup and verbal vocabulary.
Peter reminds me that I am in good company when I misspeak, either out of fear, doubt, or cluelessness.  But, he also shows me what it looks like when I do.  That motivates me to want to try to always let my “speech be with grace, as though seasoned by salt, so that [I] will know how [I] should respond to each person” (Col. 4:6).
Neal Pollard

JOHN WOODEN, THE famous UCLA basketball coach

JOHN WOODEN, THE famous UCLA basketball coach, always kept a cross in his pocket…

He said he kept it there to remind himself that there was something more important in life than basketball.

THOUGHT: The cross (Philippians 2:8) ought to remind us that there is something more important in life than anything else.

It’s more important than politics.

It’s more important than business.

It’s more important than romance.

It’s more important than education.

It’s more important than your career.

It’s more important than your health.

It’s more important than your safety.

It’s more important than your very life!

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

–Mike Benson

Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye every one

A disturbing story has been reported by “Mail Online”, the electronic version of “The Daily Mail”, a British tabloid. Simone Back, a 42- year-old charity worker who lived in England, posted a message on her FaceBook page on Christmas Day. The message said simply, “Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye every one.”

I’ll confess my ignorance of FaceBook protocol, but the story said Ms. Back had 1,082 “friends”. Some of them lived within walking distance. Some commented on her statement within minutes of it being posted, mocking her for being a habitual overdoser and a liar. A day later someone notified Simone’s 60-year-old mother about the comments. This time, they learned, Simone had not lied.

Just because a person is listed as a friend on FaceBook doesn’t mean there’s a real relationship. It simply means access to one another’s messages has been granted. Yet it seems some of those who read the comments should have notified authorities.

Things like this happened before social networking arrived on our computers. People have issued calls for help, calls that fell on deaf ears. Others may think the pleas are exaggerated, insincere or merely attempts to gain attention and sympathy. They learn too late that the pleas were real. The person really was going through a crisis, and intervention was genuinely needed.

This is not a new problem for people. Proverbs 21:13 shows that calls for help have often been ignored: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” The priest and the Levite in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan show that people have long been capable of ignoring the plight of others who are in distress (Luke 10:25-37).

Could such a miserable scenario be in my future? If there comes a time when my life hangs in the balance, will others ignore my calls for help? Most importantly, would God refuse to help me?

Good news abounds in the Bible, and God’s willingness to help anyone leads the list. When a person submits to God’s simple will, God declares His gladness to help. James 4:10 is one such statement of this hope: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Many witnesses appear in the pages of Scripture to affirm that God has done just that. Take, for example, David’s deposition in Psalm 34:6: “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” Jonah appealed to the Lord from inside a large fish: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me” (Jonah 2:2).

This doesn’t mean that God will give us what we ask for in our time of trouble. Consider what happened with God’s own Son: “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear” (Hebrews 5:7). Some might say that God didn’t answer Jesus’ call for help; Jesus later died on the cross. But note again those words: “and was heard”. God hears His people, but He will do what is best for them, not necessarily what they think is best at the moment.

As a child of God, I can know that my calls for help will not be ignored! He knows best what I need.

Timothy D. Hall

First John 1:9

Tonight a man told me he was going to “make a confession” and this is precisely what he did.  He spoke of how he had spent time with and money on women like Rahab (Jas. 2:25).

The bluntness of this man’s confession reminded me of 1 John 1:9:  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This passage, of course, was written to Christians, and it contains an important truth.  God tells His people to confess their wrongs.  Rather than hint about what we have done, overlook what we have done, or just “summarize things,” God says confess.

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

Are you someone who truly confesses your sins to God?

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

The hormones heat up … and the brain cells melt down

When we are overcome by the heat of the moment, our thoughts become as flexible as a run away train.

Seductive words lead to aroused emotions that lead to impassioned actions that exhibit a one-track mind.

The hormones heat up … and the brain cells melt down.

It’s not that our hearing aid is turned down, it’s that our passion has drowned out any warning signals — from our conscience, from our friends, from our spiritual upbringing — that might have been transmitted. Passion muffles the hearing.

“My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword” (Proverbs 5:1-4, ESV).

“Be attentive,” the wise man pleads, “incline your ear.” The warning signs are there, but are we listening? Sometimes when a parent takes the time to warn, to teach a child, when the drug drop takes place, or the moment of seduction occurs, then the conscience has a chance of stopping the train of thought.

When the seductive words begin, smooth as graphite, sweet as saccharine, the wise man knows that the capacity to reason well is impaired. “Is this right?” becomes, “This feels good!” “What are the consequences?” becomes “I deserve this, I’ve been so lonely!”

Runaway trains don’t stop on a dime, and runaway passions will break several barriers before they come to a halt.

You can’t stop the train; you have to get off!

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

WHAT AM I DOING THAT IRRITATES OTHERS?

I heard a story about a student named Donald MacDonald from the Isle of Skye (in Scotland), who was admitted into the prestigious Oxford University, and was living in the hall of residence in his first year there. His clan was so excited that one of their own had made it into the upper class of education, but they were concerned how he would do in “that strange land.”  After the first month, his mother came to visit.

“And how do you find the English students, Donald?” she asked.

“Mother,” he replied in his thick brogue. “They’re such terrible, noisy people.  The one on that side keeps banging his head against the wall, and won’t stop.  The one on the other side screams and screams and screams, away into the night.”

“Oh Donald!  How do you manage to put up with these awful noisy English neighbors?”

“Mother, I do nothing.  I just ignore them.  I just stay here quietly, playing my bagpipes…”

Sometimes it helps to realize that when we find people to be so irritating, it may well be that they find us to be the same (and perhaps for better reason).  Even deeds done with the best of intentions can be irritating. Solomon said,

“He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.” (Proverbs 27:14)

I suppose we could ask ourselves the question, “What am I doing that may be irritating others around me?”  But I think we would be better served to ask it in a more positive way:  “What am I doing to be a blessing to others around me?”

“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23)

Alan Smith

Your Bible might have some mistakes!

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

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

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

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

New technology can be a great thing, but it is not always perfect.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Frugal: to save

FRUGAL ME?

Mary’s fourth grade homework assignment was to make sentences using the words in her spelling list, along with the definition. Coming across the word “frugal” in the list, she asked her father what it meant. He explained that being frugal meant you saved something.

Her paper read:

Frugal: to save

Sentence:  Maid Marion fell into a pit when she went walking in the woods so she yelled for someone to come get her out.  She yelled “Frugal me, Frugal me!”

It’s easy see how a fourth grader could confuse the words, but while the word “frugal” and the idea of saving are closely related, they are miles apart when it comes to Christianity.  The New Testament speaks often of our reconciliation with God as “salvation”.  Jesus himself said:

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

But God was far from frugal in His efforts to save us.  Centuries of preparation, the sacrifice of His only Son, the heartache of being rejected, God’s patience in waiting for us to respond — there was nothing frugal in any of it.  Quite the contrary, God lavishly poured out all that He had in the hopes of saving us.  “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15)

Praise be to God both for His willingness to save us and His unwillingness to be frugal about it!

Alan Smith

The world’s most unwanted ship, the Pelicano

ONE AUTHOR TELLS the story of the world’s most unwanted ship, the Pelicano…

No country in the world wanted her.  No country allowed her to land.  She was a seaworthy ship and had reputable owners.

The problem was that she was filled with 15,000 tons of trash.  It ranged from orange peelings to beer bottles to newspaper and dozens of other items.  She was filled with the 1986 summer trash from Philadelphia.  That’s when the municipal workers went on strike and the trash piled higher and higher.  No one wanted it.  The owners of the Pelicano thought they could make money by transporting it elsewhere.  But no one wanted it.  It was too much and then too old and now possibly toxic.

No one wants a trash-filled ship.  Very few want those in their life whose mind and heart are filled with trash.  Trash contaminates our relationships.  Think of it this way:

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s acts.
Today’s bigotry is tomorrow’s hate crime.
Today’s anger is tomorrow’s abuse.
Today’s lust is tomorrow’s adultery.
Today’s greed is tomorrow’s embezzlement.
Today’s fear is tomorrow’s reality.

Some folks don’t know we have an option.  Listening to our vocabulary, you’d think we are the victims of our own thoughts.

Do you think we have a choice of what thoughts we entertain or invite in?   Paul said we do: “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).  Our task is to face every thought and say, “Hold it right there.  You are not allowed into my mind!”

The author went on to say, “What if you did that?  What if you took every thought captive?  What if you refused to let any trash enter your mind?

You are not a victim of your thoughts.  You have a vote; you have a choice.  You can exercise thought prevention.  You can also exercise thought permission.  Remember, your thoughts turn into your actions.  (H. Norman Wright and Larry Renetzky)

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).

Mike Benson

Drinking a half gallon of liquor a day

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

Now, after getting involved with the Indiana court system because of his drinking, he openly acknowledges the truth found in Prov. 20:1:  “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise.”

Make smart, wise, and Biblical choices.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

He exited the plane without his parachute.

     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 they 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

An unlimited supply of “grenades”

IMAGINE A PERSON you love very much…

They are a wonderful person and a terrific FRIEND – smart and capable. You have a great rapport, and enjoy the times you are together. You laugh together, and can share sorrows too. You treasure the relationship.

There is one dark side to this friend…they have an unlimited supply of “grenades.” Periodically, if they’re having a bad day or even for no reason that you can discern, they grab one…hold it close…and pull the pin.

As you’re standing there, watching, horrified, the explosion happens. They destroy a part of themselves. And not just that, but the shrapnel from the blast injures anyone who is close… including you and other people that you care about.

Your friend calls loudly for sympathy and help, crying, wanting someone else to deal with the mess…someone else to ease the pain…surprised when some seem to be hurt or back away…”poor me” has become their perspective now.

Many times you’ve tried to “help,” to grab the grenade away. You’ve stepped in and cleaned up. Your friend smiles an almost indiscernible smile…their responsibility has been lessened by you. You’ve pretty much said, “It’s ok to keep doing this. You can’t help it. I’m capable and you aren’t. There is no way out for you.”

In time the wounds heal, leaving scars both on you and your friend, and on those around.

Suddenly you realize that your friend is reaching for another grenade…

Finally you realize they will continue to reach for another one as long as they have the box…

Finally it dawns on that YOU are powerless to stop the madness.

Things to be learned:

1) The true fact is that only GOD can take the grenades away. And then only if your friend will GIVE THEM OVER to Him. No one else can do this by proxy. Words might encourage them in this direction, but ultimately they must have the deep desire to stop the hurt and the destruction of both themselves and those around them.

2) Reaping the CONSEQUENCES of their actions can be a powerful motivator.

3) God commands we forgive, up to 70 x 7, or infinitely. This means not holding a grudge or being bitter. God does not command that we fully restore trust however…we are not obligated to remain as close, or to continually place ourselves in the position of being wounded. Limits can be set.

4) There are a bunch of ex-grenade-holders out there willing and ready to help! …And help means imparting a “You and God CAN end this!” attitude to your friend. Many of these have formed helping groups! Yay! If your friend resists this help, they are likely not truly committed to ending the vicious cycle of destruction. (Cherie Vestal)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Mike Benson

Elvis Presley’s Bible

Last week, a Bible that was given to Elvis Presley in 1957 by his aunt and uncle was auctioned off.  It is clear that Elvis actually read and used this Bible, for it contained several marginal notes written in his own handwriting.  One such note is found in the margin of Luke 9.  It says, “For what is a man advantaged if he should gain the whole world and lose himself or be castaway.”  Interesting insight from a man who had so much of what this world values.

But to the real point of this article.  The Bible sold for $97,000.00.  What I find of particular interest is that the value of this Bible was determined by the person who owned it.  Oh, I understand how the whole “celebrity thing” works, but I just thought it was ironic that (from the world’s point of view) the owner of this Bible brought value to the Bible.  However, the Bible is “priceless” no matter who owns it, and frankly, the value of a Bible is not increased by its owner, rather the Bible brings value to its owner.  Give it some thought.

Copyright © 2012, Steve Higginbotham.

The police bungled the investigation

“One of the most famous trials in history was that of Benjamin Francois Courvoisier in London in 1840, who is now immortalized in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Courvoisier was a Swiss valet accused of killing his elderly employer, Lord William Russell. What made this trial notorious was the argument for the defense. The police had bungled the investigation. The evidence against Courvoisier was entirely circumstantial or had been planted. One of the officers had perjured himself, and the maid’s testimony brought suspicion on herself.

“The defense attorney, Charles Phillips, was convinced of the innocence of Courvoisier and cross-examined witnesses aggressively. At the beginning of the second day of the trial, however, Courvoisier confessed privately to his lawyer that he had committed the murder. When asked if he was going to plead guilty, he replied to Charles Phillips, ‘No, sir, I expect you to defend me to the utmost.’ Phillips was faced with a dilemma. Should he declare to the court that the man was guilty, or should he defend Courvoisier as best he could? Should he break the confidentiality of the client-lawyer relationship, or should he help a guilty man to possibly go free? Which is more important — truth or professional duty?” (Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths – Living with Biblical Tensions, p. 11-12).

Before I reveal what the lawyer chose, what would you have done in this situation? Would you be loyal to your profession and the guilty man, or turn him over? As it turns out, Charles Phillips decided to defend the man. Despite his efforts, the man was convicted. However, when this decision became public, Charles Phillips was heavily criticized for his decision.

While this may not have been a tough decision for some, people are often faced with difficult decisions. Consider the following: Can I be saved, and if so, how? Which church is the right one? Can I and should I fix my marriage? Should I date this person? Who should I be friends with? Should I continue to watch this TV show or movie? Do I need to stop doing something I enjoy?

All the answers to questions like these can be found in Scripture. The Bible is more than just a good book, it is the ultimate instruction book specifically given by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It gives us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 3:9). There is simply no greater way to improve life than through Scripture. We just need to take the time to read and study its divine contents.

P.S. If you have been looking for some of the answers to the above questions, or others, please don’t hesitate to ask. We can help show you what answers God’s Word gives.

–Brett Petrillo

THINK ABOUT ONE THING

If you are a golfer, you’ll appreciate these humorous observations about the game of golf:

*  The game of golf is 90% mental and 10% mental.

*  Since bad shots come in groups of three, a fourth bad shot is actually the beginning of the next group of three.

*  No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse.

*  Counting on your opponent to inform you when he breaks a rule is like expecting him to make fun of his own haircut.

*  The shortest distance between any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the center of a very large tree.

*  There are two kinds of bounces; unfair bounces and bounces just the way you meant to play it.

*  You can hit a two acre fairway 10% of the time and a two-inch branch 90% of the time.

*  Every time a golfer makes a birdie, he must subsequently make two triple bogeys to restore the fundamental equilibrium of the universe.

*  Hazards attract, fairways repel.

*  A ball you can see in the rough from 50 yards away is not yours.

*  If there is a ball in the fringe and a ball in the bunker, your ball is in the bunker.

*  Never try to keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.

It’s the last one that I can best relate to.  I may well be the worst golfer in the world.  I’ve had a few people argue with me about that, but after they’ve played a round with me, they stop arguing.  My problem with golf is that I have to think about everything.  Hold the club just right, hold the elbow right, don’t hit my head on the backswing, keep my eyes on the ball, keep my head down and the knees bent.  And watch out for the tree; there’s always a tree to worry about!  You can’t think about all that and then hit a golf ball!

Living the Christian life can sometimes feel the same way – Don’t do this!  Don’t do that!  Don’t go there!  And make sure you do this!  It can be overwhelming at times.  Sometimes I think we make Christianity more difficult than it needs to be.  Paul wrote:

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)

What if we lived our lives asking one question and one question only, “Am I living my life in a way that brings glory to God?”  Do people see that I’m treating my wife and my children in a way that brings honor to God?  Am I working at my job in a way that causes the name of God to be glorified?  Can the cashier at the grocery store or the teacher in my classroom honor my God because of the way I behave while I am around them?

Three hundred thoughts can be overwhelming.  Try living today with just one thought – “Am I living in a way that brings glory to God?”

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Being Honest In A Dishonest World

In a world of “dog eat dog, take care of number one,” honesty and integrity are rare. I recently came across the following statistics:  “In a recent year, according to the FBI crime report, 13,200,080 crimes were reported in the United States [did you get that number, TW].  Ninety percent of these involved property and included such crimes as burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson.  The National Coalition to Prevent Shoplifting says this crime now amounts to $24 billion annually.  Employee thefts amount to another $22 billion.  Tax cheating, according to the IRS, is big business in our nation. Auditing of nearly 2 million returns in a recent year showed derelict tax payers owed $10.5 billion.  For a dozen years we have had 1 million divorces annually. Infidelity, marital dishonesty, has been given as the number one reason for marital breakups in our family troubled land.”   Those are frightening statistics!  On every hand we are faced with those who are dishonest.  It has become a way of life.  But God’s call is to maintain honesty and integrity.  “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). “That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without” (1 Thess. 4:12).  “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Cor 8:21).

Having survived another political campaign season, it is refreshing not to have to endure the seeming endless array of political campaign ads either accusing or excusing the political candidates of dishonesty, lying, fraud, et al.  One interesting quote I came across this last year had to do with a prominent politically active couple.   A renowned newspaper columnist observed: “We know that the Clintons are liars. But what scares me is that they do it so well.”   If the truth were known, it is not just politicians and used car dealers whose “reputation” precedes them; according to the above statistical information dishonesty has infected our populace from the head to the foot.   And now that the next President, Vice President, Congress and House of Representatives are in place and soon to be inaugurated or initiated into office, we hold our breath in anticipation of what “scandal” will rock Washington next.  It has almost become a way of life, and a sad one at that.

Major William Dean died in 1985. He was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and was considered one of American’s greatest heroes.  He fought in the Korean war and was captured and tortured. Dean resisted all efforts by the communists to extract military information from him. In order to maintain his sanity he would resort to mind games, or reciting passages from the Bible.  One day the general was informed by his captors that he was to be taken out and shot.  A firing squad was standing in readiness.  The condemned was granted a few moments in which to write a letter to his wife.  He penned what he thought would be his last words. In addition to the words of love and devotion to his wife, he wrote a sentence for his son.  “Tell Bill the word is ‘integrity.'”   There are two passages that I want to leave with you. “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity than he that is perverse in his lips and is a fool” (Proverbs 19:1).  “Jehovah, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle?  Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart” (Psalms 15:1-2).

by Tom Wacaster

REMEMBER THE SCARS

John Gordon was a respected general for the South in the Civil War.  After the war, he was running for the United States Senate, but a man who had served under him in the war, angry over some political incident, was determined to see him defeated.  Everyone knew this man would fight Gordon’s bid to become a senator.

During the convention, he angrily stamped down the aisle with his anti-Gordon vote in hand.  As he saw Gordon sitting on the platform, he noticed how his once handsome face was disfigured with the scars of battle — marks of his willingness to suffer and bleed for a cause he believed in.

The old soldier was stricken with remorse.  Overcome with emotion, he exclaimed, “It’s no use; I can’t do it.  Here’s my vote for John Gordon.” Then, turning to the general, he said, “Forgive me, General.  I had forgotten the scars.”

What a difference it makes in our lives when we remember the scars!  With so many things to distract us, we don’t often take time each day to reflect on what Jesus went through on the cross for us.  But, when we are tempted to stray, it is a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice that has the power to draw us back to him.

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

May I encourage you this morning to take a moment to pause and “remember the scars”.

–Alan Smith

UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

JOHN WOODEN, THE famous UCLA basketball coach, always kept a cross in his pocket…

He said he kept it there to remind himself that there was something more important in life than basketball.

THOUGHT: The cross (Philippians 2:8) ought to remind us that there is something more important in life than anything else.

It’s more important than politics.

It’s more important than business.

It’s more important than romance.

It’s more important than education.

It’s more important than your career.

It’s more important than your health.

It’s more important than your safety.

It’s more important than your very life!

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Mike Benson

It’s Not My Job!

A parent says to his child, “Please clean up the mess in the living room.”

The child says to the parent, “But I didn’t make the mess!”

The parent says to the child, “Did I ask you who made the mess, or to clean up the mess?”

“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest,” (Proverbs 6:6-8, ESV).

In thirty three years of church work, the most common phrase I have heard is this: “Something must be done!”

So many times church members do nothing more than point out congregational faults.

Imagine a full-grown man, almost six-foot tall, leaning over an anthill and observing the tiny creature’s team work and initiative.

This plucky insect, without “chief, officer or ruler” carries out its responsibilities without being told, coerced, petted or bribed. Are provisions needed at harvest? The ant gets to work on the task of harvesting. Will there be a drought in winter? The ant sets about rectifying the need.

The ant doesn’t point out the luxurious lifestyle of the queen ant or the mistakes of manager ants. He simply sees the need and gets the job done.

To the ant, the words “Something must be done” are turned around to, “I must do something.”

So go consider the ant, and be wise.

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net