Archives for : December2012

$18,000 phone bill

Think your cell phone bill is high? It’s likely a bargain in comparison to the tab that Bob and Mary St. Germain of Dover, Mass. were hit with in 2006. Their bill from Verizon Wireless hit almost $18,000 after the couple’s son used his cell phone as a modem for connecting his laptop to the Internet.

The problem was that the St. Germain’s plan, which included phones for three family members, charged them for each kilobyte of data they downloaded. Bryan St. Germain, the couple’s son, who is now 26, used his phone as a tethered modem for his laptop, and downloaded songs on nights and weekends, when he thought he had free minutes. Instead, he was charged for each of the 816,000 kilobytes he downloaded, which bumped the St. Germain’s monthly bill up to $12,233 (http://cellphones.about.com/b/2010/05/02/family-hit-with-18000-cell-phone-bill.htm).

An $18,000 cell bill is nothing compared to the problem of sin.  God says sin separates man from his Maker (Isa. 59:1-2) and valuable items such as “silver and gold” cannot pay for man’s transgressions (1 Pet. 1:18).

Have you had your debt of sin paid and paid in full?

The “method of payment” is clearly found in the Bible.

We cannot please God without faith (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).

Finally we must be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

R U Connected?

“Sometimes I’m so connected, I’m disconnected.” – Dale Jenkins

Dale explains: “Nearly ten years ago I first heard the news report coming from Silicone Valley that men were divorcing their spouses so they would have more time to spend with their computers. I found it hard to believe but as technology has promised more and more – we “friend” folks via FaceBook, “follow” or are “followed” through Twitter, “link” through “linked in,” and expect instant connections through the ever-present cell phone with texting. But like all things of human origin, technology does not deliver all it promises.

“What it has often done is diminish our focus and divide our attention! Obviously I do not believe all technology is bad, after all you’re reading this via a webspace!

“Yet what we often have is ourselves not living in the moment because we are living online. We don’t connect with the person sitting across from us because our chains of thoughts are interrupted by those not present but wanting immediate attention. In a meeting, over dinner, hanging out with friends – our cell phone vibrates and we jump to see who it is. A text beeps in, and we stop everything to give the quick immediate response. An email dings it’s presence, and as people continue talking to us, we read or review it’s contents. A million little things clog our minds for attention while we should be giving attention to our spouse, our children, our brothers and sisters, our friends – or even God!

“How much time is wasted on these tools initially designed to connect us but that often separate us?” *

Dale is right, isn’t he? We often get distracted and as a result, disconnected, from important activities and important people because of our addiction to modern communication technology.

In this age of incredible modern technology, God longs to “connect” with us! But we are often too distracted. God continues to communicate His love to us in many ways but most profoundly through the Gift of His Son, who died on the cross for our sins. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Through Jesus, we can be “connected” with God and receive forgiveness for our sins and live eternally with Him, if we will “connect” with Him.

We can be “connected” with God by: placing our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). We REMAIN “connected” with Him by focusing our attention on Jesus and His Will for our lives (Hebrews 12:1-2).

R U truly connecting with others? You may have to turn your computer and your cell phone off for a while.

Most importantly, R U “connected” with GOD? You CAN be through Jesus!

Don’t allow ANYTHING or ANYONE to distract you from accepting His offer of salvation and living for Him.

David A. Sargent

UFOs in my backyard

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

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

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

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

–Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Can We Really Know things?

“Is it really possible for a person to KNOW the truth?” There are so many opinions about what the Bible teaches. “Is truth even attainable in the religious realm?” These are common questions today.

Consider a few observations from Scripture:

1. How can a person be expected to OBEY (Hebrews 5:8-9) Christ if he is incapable of knowing what constitutes obedience to Christ?

2. How can a person be expected to ABIDE IN (John 8:31) the word of Christ if he is unable to learn and know Christ’s teaching?

3. How can a person be expected to PROVE (1 Thessalonians 5:21; cf. 1 John 4:1) what the Bible says if the truth cannot be distinguished from error?

4. How can a person be expected to CONTEND (Jude 3) earnestly for the truth if the truth is unattainable?

5. How can a person be expected to BEWARE (Matthew 7:15; cf. 2 John 7) of false teachers if there is no discernible way of telling whether or not they are teaching error?

6. How can a person be expected to SPEAK (Ephesians 4:15) the truth in love if he is unable to differentiate between truth and error?

Yes, we can know the truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32; cf. 2 Timothy 3:13-17).

–by Mike Benson

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR FUTURE

This quote got me thinking: “The consequences of today are determined by the actions of the past.  To change your future, alter your decisions today” – Anonymous.  This is one of those quotes that is simple and deep at the same time.

Throughout my life, people have talk to me about their issues.  Many times their problems are haphazard, but often they are self-inflicted.  People seem to forget that they directly influence how their lives will play out.  For example, if you smoke, your life will be shorter.  If you spend more than you make, you will go broke.  If you eat a lot of unhealthy food, you will become overweight.  Our future is determined by the actions we take today.  Therefore, if we want to have a better future, we need to make better choices today.

This same principle applies to our spiritual futures as well.  If we want to improve our spiritual future, we need to make the right spiritual decisions today.  The best decision a person can make spiritually is to follow God words in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Matthew 6:33; Luke 9:23; Proverbs 3:5-6).  When we obey His commands, we know the result is salvation and a blissful life in heaven (1 Peter 3:21; Matthew 7:21-23).

How is your spiritual life right now?  What does your spiritual future look like?  May our goal always be similar to Psalm 119:105,  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Choosing to follow God’s word will lead to a wonderful future in heaven.  Rephrasing the beginning quote, “To change your spiritual future, alter your spiritual decisions today.”  Are there changes that need to be made?

–Brett Petrillo

Only One Conversation You Can Hold with the Devil

There’s only one conversation that you can hold with the devil and win. He comes, not as a friend to chat, but as an adversary to conquer.

The more you listen, the better his chances. The more you argue, the less likely you’ll come out unscathed.

Because, let’s face it, Satan is smarter than we are. He has more experience. He’s been around the block more times. And he knows our weaknesses much better than we do.

So the only conversation to have with the devil is the short one that Jesus had, to cite Bible texts to him and tell him to go away.

Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'” Matthew 4:10 NET

After 40 days of required temptation, Jesus told the devil to go away. Matthew says that the devil left him. But only after our Lord disarmed his temptations three times with biblical citations.

So if you want to be free of the devil, do like Jesus. Know the Scriptures well, use them liberally when temptation comes, and put an end to the conversation.

–J. Randal Matheny

My dad’s a preacher…

I’m sure you heard the one about the little boys who were bragging on their dad’s. One little boy said, “My dad’s an artist. He can work two hours with a piece of canvas and people will pay him $1,000.00. Another boy said, “Big deal. My dad’s a doctor and he can work for an hour in surgery and make $5,000.00. Finally the third boy spoke up and said, “that’s nothing. My dad’s a preacher and he can work for 30 minutes and it takes 8 men to pick up the baskets full of money when he gets done!”

Whatever you dad does or did for a living, I hope it was something you can be proud of. Our father’s sacrificed far more than we will ever know so that our lives could be blessed. If you still have your father, be sure and let him know how much he is loved and appreciated.

Steve Higginbotham.

Memorial Middle School sex survey

A Massachusetts mother of two middle-school daughters filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Memorial Middle School for a sex survey that included questions of a nature too graphic to repeat here.  The school principal asserts that the questions administered to the seventh graders were mandatory to receive a federal grant though the Center for Disease Control (CDC) denies the requirement, saying only seven states have school districts that even ask the question.  What is worse, the test was administered without parental consent.  These questions were part of a national “youth risk behavior study” that includes more matters than just sexual behavior (information via Foxnews.com).

While it is admirable for agencies to identify and seek to help children who are at risk of harm through drug use, abuse, and other legitimate risks, it seems rather risky and not a little risque to expose young minds to concepts and ideas much too mature for their comprehension and which creates an unnatural interest in sexual terminology and concepts.  Those who love God and His Word realize that such exercises as these can create thoughts and stimulate curiosities that were not already there.  Such understand the powerful truth taught by Solomon:  “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23).  What shows up in the life begins in the heart.  How reckless for adults to pollute the hearts of children, potentially contributing to a pathway toward degeneracy and sexual immorality through such volatile questions.  It seems that the survey itself has real potential to create risky behavior in youths.

In an age that seems intent on prematurely exposing children to sexual content, whether in provocative advertising, entertainment venues, video games, music, web sites, and even agencies with a decided, unrighteous moral agenda, we need to go the second mile to protect the hearts, minds, and lives of our youth!  They must know that the things, like fornication, adultery, wickedness, sensuality, and similar evil things “proceed from within and defile the man” (cf. Prov. 7:21-23).  We need young and old minds set on pure thoughts (Ph. 4:8; Mt. 5:8).  Let us not put them at risk, but rather protect them!

–Neal Pollard

There wasn’t any choice but to fight

A Nepalese soldier in the British army, Dipprasad Pun, was stationed as a sentry all by himself.  Corporal Pun noticed approximately 30 Taliban fighters closing on his position.  He told reporters later, “There wasn’t any choice but to fight.  The Taliban were all around the checkpoint.  I was alone….I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I’d kill as many of them as I could before they killed me.”  In this 15-minute attack Pun was surrounded and almost constantly fired on by AK47s and even rocked-propelled grenades.  He endured the 30 soldiers by firing off more than 400 rounds, launching 17 grenades, detonated a mine, and even using his machine gun tripod to hit a Taliban soldier when he had run out of ammunition.  Despite this vicious assault, Pun emerged unscathed.  He was recently honored with the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC).  The CGC is Brittan’s highest honor for bravery and second only to the Victoria Cross.

While we are not enduring AK47s and rocked-propelled grenades, and hopefully never will, we are attacked in many other ways.  Sometimes these are personal attacks on our character.  Other times these are attacks about differing opinions.  But the most common attack of all is sin.  Often these attacks are vicious and hard to endure.  Sometimes we feel bombarded and overwhelmed.  Corporal Pun demonstrated unparalleled bravery.  In our battle with sin, we must bravely defend ourselves against sin and remember that we are protecting the most precious possession we have, our souls.

Let’s keep in mind the powerful and familiar words of 1 Peter 5: 8-9, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”  Satan is a fearful enemy, but we must do what it takes to resist his attacks (Ephesians 6:10-17).  While we will not receive a prestigious metal for defending the attacks of sin, if we stay faithful to the end, we will win the most highly esteemed reward of all, the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

–Brett Petrillo

How to get to heaven

Joe Rosa had already run 7 laps.  He was on his way to breaking the New Jersey state record for the 3,200-meter run.  Then, with one lap left to go, track meet officials came out and forced Joe off the track and out of the race.  With storm clouds looming overhead and lightning striking around, the officials decided to make the safe, and ultimately right, decision to end the race.  They brought the runners off the track and told the crowd to vacate the metal bleachers.  Not only was Joe on his way to breaking the record, but his twin brother was in second place as well.  As you might imagine, many were quite upset with the officials’ decision.  They didn’t understand why the officials didn’t just let one more lap go by.

Surely Joe wanted to finish this race quite badly.  After all of the practice, all the training, and all of the conditioning, this was the moment he had been striving for.  He was probably going to make state history.  But in the end, the weather and the officials got in the way of Joe finishing the race.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all in the race to get to heaven.  However, this is not a race where the first person who crosses the finish line wins.  It is a race where anyone who crosses that line wins.  But unlike Joe Rosa’s race, this is a race that cannot be stopped by threatening weather.  This isn’t even a race that can be halted by officials.  This race is one that continues until death.  The problem is, even though the race goes on, many Christians have already stopped running.  Some are even going the wrong direction.

There are many aspects of this life that try to “force us off the track” and make us quit.  Riches, immorality, lies, blaming God, and the list goes on an on (Galatians 5:7).  As we are running on the path to heaven, we will come across temptations.  If we give in to these temptations we get off track.  Sometimes these temptations even lead people to quit.  Despite all of these temptations, there is not a single aspect on this earth that can “force” you to quit the race to heaven.  Quitting the race to heaven is always a choice.  Joe probably would have done anything to cross that finish line.  Surely he would have braved the weather and the surrounding danger.  He wanted the prize.

What are we willing to do to achieve that prize in heaven?  When it comes to finishing the race or quitting, selfishness is our biggest obstacle.  We have to get out of our own way.  Are we willing to put ourselves aside and obey God (Luke 9:23)?  As Paul said so powerfully, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  No matter what we deal with, let’s make sure we finish the race!

–Brett Petrillo

THE POSITIVE USE OF THE TONGUE

David spoke of his tongue as a pen (Ps. 45:1) and his enemies’ tongues as sharp swords (Ps. 57:4). We learn that God hates a tongue which forms lies (Prov. 6:17).  Isaiah prophesied a future time so happy that it would case “the tongue of the dumb [to] sing” (Isa. 35:6). The ungodly tongue is described by Jeremiah as a “deadly arrow” (Jer. 9:8). James calls the unruly tongue a “fire” (Js. 3:6).

The tongue is unique among the body’s members.  It has so many uses. With taste buds, it judges the palatability of the food we consume. With sensitive nerves, it screens the temperatures of the food and drink which enter the mouth.  William McPherson, who lost his sense of sight, hearing, and all four limbs in a mining explosion, used his tongue to read the Bible in Braille. Coordinating with brain and various, undergirding muscles, the tongue is that powerful tool of communication responsible for speech and song.  Like so much of what God created, it is a neutral invention.  According to how it is used, the tongue is either a blessing or curse upon families, communities, and nations.  Benjamin Franklin wrote, “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.”  How can we identify a tongue positively used?

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL NOT BACKBITE.  Those who wield their tongues positively will say something nice, or at least say nothing at all, about an occupant on the “rumor mill.”  in fact, we should use our tongues to stop the backbiting of others (Prov. 25:23).  A Welsh proverb goes, “Lord, remind us often that a gossip’s mouth is the devil’s mailbag.”  Remember, there’s only one thing more difficult than unscrambling an egg and that’s unspreading a rumor.  We wish only the best for others.  We don’t want to contribute to another’s harm or embarrassment by saying or repeating something evil about them behind their back (Ps. 15:1; Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:20).

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK GOD’S WORD.  On multiple occasions, the psalmist pledged to use his tongue this way (71:24; 119:172).   When opportunities with our neighbors and friends clearly present themselves, how can we refrain our tongues from speaking Bible truth and divine expectations? When the Bible is disparaged in our presence, how can we hold back our tongues from defending words more precious than gold? God’s Word contain “glad tidings” (Acts 13:32; Lk. 8:1; Rom. 10:15).

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK WHOLESOME WORDS. The Bible praises those who use wholesome words (Prov. 15:4; 1 Tim. 6:5). Profanity, vulgar stories, suggestive language and sexual innuendos do not drop off of a positive, wholesome tongue. Instead, we speak words that improve and sustain our good character.

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL BE BRIDLED.  That’s how you know who is religious (Js. 1:26).  A hot head and a positive tongue don’t rest in the same skull. A blessing tongue and a cursing tongue do not lead to the same end (1 Pet. 3:10-11). A hypocritical tongue and a sincere tongue cannot belong to the same individual (1 Jn. 3:18).  Self-control includes tongue-control.
Someone has written, “To speak kindly does not hurt the tongue.”  It may only be about three inches long, but it can be trained not to do miles of damage. It can be positively controlled.  A bridle for the tongue is a necessary tool which, when used, will cause one to be a shining light in the house of God.

–Neal Pollard

There goes a well guarded man

“By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down” (Proverbs 29:4, ESV).

I remember standing on a street corner of an African capital when the nation’s “President for Life” raced by in his motorcade. Uniformed policemen on motorbikes preceded several armored vehicles bristling with weapons. Finally, three Mercedes Benz limousines with windows tinted presumably to keep the exact location of the president a secret moved swiftly, silently by.

I turned to a friend and said, “There goes a well guarded man.” His reply was apt: “No,” he answered, “there goes a frightened man.”

By the way, the president had good reason to be frightened; his is a brutal and unjust rule. He is resented and feared by millions, and assumes that the only way to stay in power is to be more frightening still.

How much easier it would be if he provided a rule characterized by freedom and justice for all! He wouldn’t need the excessive security, because fewer people would want him dead!

In personal relationships, too, we assume that if we want to “get our way,” to avoid having others step all over us, we will have to take the offensive — to step on them first, to insist on our way more loudly.

I have a better idea: Don’t use the KGB. Simply treat people with fairness and kindness!

–Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

 

CONFESSING MURDER 65 YEARS LATER

On a cold rainy night on March 1, 1946, the doorbell rang.  The wife of Felix Gulje answered the door and saw a woman standing there.  The woman claimed that she had a letter to give to Felix.  When he came to the door, he was met by a gun and shot in the chest.  He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.  This murder remained a mystery for 65 years until a few years ago.  After all of this time, Atie Visser, now a 96-year-old woman, confessed to authorities that she had murdered Felix Gulje on that night.  But now that she is so old and frail, they are not going to prosecute her.

It’s troubling that it took Atie Visser 65 years to confess this murder.  You have to wonder what went through her mind over this extensive period of time.  Did she ever feel bad?  Did she regret her actions?  Did guilt ever get to her?  While such questions are nothing but speculation, we do know that her guilty conscience clearly did not play much of a role for a very long time.

Sadly, people are constantly trying to “get away” with crimes in this country.  Today we even have TV shows like “CSI” and “Law and Order” where people are trying to escape the punishment for their actions.  While it seems like there are so many unsolved mysteries out there, it is important to remember the words of Hebrews 4:13,  “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

While Atie Visser got away with murder for 65 years, this murder mystery was never a secret from God.  Even though people try to, and sometimes do, get away with crime, they are not actually getting away with anything.  Too often Christians believe that if they can sin and not get caught that it is acceptable.  It’s not.  Maybe this is our culture rubbing off on us.  We must always remember that we are not getting away with anything (Psalm 33:13-15).  God is always watching (2 Chronicles 16:9).  Nothing is hidden from His sight (Job 34:21).  He knows what we are doing and thinking.  There will come a day when we will have to answer for our actions (Jeremiah 21:14; 32:19; Psalm 62:12; Matthew 16:27).  It took Atie Visser 65-years to confess the sins still staining her hands.  How long will it take us?

Brett Petrillo

15,000 birthday party invitations

She might call it “Thessa ‘Moany,'” the chagrined German girl who accidentally invited 15,000 to her private birthday party via Facebook. She certainly will have quite a story to tell her children and grandchildren. Thessa intended to mark the invitation as private, but nearly 1,500 showed up at her Hamburg-Bramfeld home. In fact, she had to leave her own party. Revelers lit a few fires and alcohol flowed freely, as it so often does even among minors in western Europe. Police described the spontaneous event as mostly peaceful.

To me, it is amazing that a social media tool announcing such a relatively insignificant event could have such an impact and draw such a crowd. Certainly, there may be factors at play, not publicly known, that prompted such a showing, but it demonstrates how quickly “the word” can spread.

This amazing technology is a tool we must use to spread the best news and biggest event the world will ever know! Whether social media like Facebook or Twitter, the internet as a whole to stream audio and video, podcasts, blogs, or any other technological tool, God’s people need to utilize the very frontier where Satan is active and busily working. Should pornographic, violent, hateful, false, and harmful messages be the only ones to which people are exposed? No doubt, it can be done! We can get the Word before everyone in this world and there is no sin in taking shortcuts that move so much quicker than horseback or even ocean liners and steam ships.

Though the world population was so much smaller in the first century, there means of spreading the gospel was also, proportionately slower. Yet, they took the gospel, at least representatively, to “every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23). They went “everywhere” preaching the word (Acts 8:4). How hungry are people for the gospel in Namibia? Nepal? Chile? Cambodia? What about Stumptown, West Virginia? Honey, Pennsylvania? Cuba, Alabama?

There are honest hearts all over the world and in the communities where we live. Let us use every legitimate means to get the word to them, extending them the opportunity to accept the Lord’s invitation and celebrate something better than a 16th birthday–their “new birth” day!

–Neal Pollard

A stupendous, incredible, world-shaking event

WHY TELL PEOPLE to keep quiet about the most stupendous, incredible, world-shaking thing that had happened in their lifetime–that God had come down into human flesh and lived among them like a typical man…?

Because it wasn’t yet Jesus’ time to die: His ministry was not yet complete.  And He knew how the jealous religious leaders would react–precisely the way they did: they sought to kill Him.

You see, Jesus’ identity was the stick that broke the camel’s back for the people who most wanted Him gone (cf. Matthew 26:59-68).  His statements that He was the Son of God were what the Jews decided was the final proof of Jesus’ guilt before the Law: they claimed He blasphemed (“cursed, derided, slandered, and libeled”) God by claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  They could not deal with.  He was everything they believed the Messiah wasn’t.  And he was nothing they thought the Messiah should be.

Nothing inspired more derision, hatred, and revulsion toward Jesus than His claim to be God incarnate.  And nothing brings greater disdain than that claim today.  You can call Jesus a good man, a great prophet, a fine leader, perhaps the greatest man who ever lived.  But utter the words “He wasn’t just a man, He was God,” and you may be in for a fight.

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” they answered the expected ways: “a great prophet, Elijah, etc.”  But Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (cf. Matthew 16:13-16).  Jesus then told Peter this was the “rock” on which He would build His church.  The “rock” wasn’t Peter himself, but rather the confession of Jesus being the Son of God.

THOUGHT: Ultimately, that’s the line of demarcation for everyone.  “Whom do you say He is?” is the question each of us must answer.  How we answer determines where we will spend eternity.  (Mark Litteton)

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

FLEEING TEMPTATION

This story was told by a chemistry teacher at school. A female student wanted to make some potassium hydroxide solution (aqueous) and decided to throw a large lump of potassium into a bucket of water.

Out of the corner of his eye, her professor observed what she was about to do and hurried toward her. After confirming what she was intending to do, he asked her to first stir the water in the bucket for five minutes before adding the potassium.

She was puzzled and asked the purpose of this action. “It will give me time to get away,” said the professor.

There are times when running away is the proper response. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul said to “Flee sexual immorality” (I Cor. 6:18) and “Flee from idolatry.” (I Cor. 10:14). Fleeing is especially important when we encounter temptation. We sometimes make the mistake of putting ourselves in situations where we are tempted, thinking that we are strong enough to handle it. Sometimes we are, but often we are not.

Remember when Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife? She “cast longing eyes on Joseph and she said, ‘Lie with me.'” (Gen. 39:7). Joseph refused to commit adultery with her, but she persisted to the point that finally Joseph needed to flee. “He left his garment in her hand, and fled outside.” (Gen. 39:12).

There may not be a Potiphar’s wife in your life, but there is likely some temptation which you find difficult to resist. If alcohol is your temptation, flee. Make a decision to avoid people and places where alcohol will be readily available. If sexual impurity with a boyfriend or girlfriend is a temptation, flee. Make a decision to avoid situations where you are alone and the temptation is stronger. If inappropriate use of your money is a temptation, flee. Stay away from the mall!

The worst mistake any of us can make is to think that “I can handle it. I know this is a strong temptation but I won’t give in. I’ll hang around close, but I won’t cross the line.” The real question we need to consider is this: “Who (or what) do we want to stay close to?” Because fleeing is not just running away from something; it is also running toward something.

“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” (I Timothy 6:11)

Father, more than anything in this world I desire to be close to you. Help me to flee from those things which tend to pull me away from you, and draw me close. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Alan Smith

December 7, 2012

“Supply Lines”

A siege can be a powerful weapon of war. The strategy is simple: Cut off all possible means of supplying the enemy, and hunger and desperation will eventually lead to his surrender. General Grant used a siege to conquer the heavily fortified city of Vicksburg, MS in 1863. There have been numerous other instances of this strangling tactic throughout the ages.

Supply lines are a part of our everyday lives. We normally don’t think about them, but ships, railroads and trucking lines daily transport essential and nonessential items to our hometowns. A truckers’ strike in 1974 reminded Americans just how vital these lines of supply are. Within just a few days, long lines formed at corner filling stations, and there were periodic shortages of staples like bread and milk. Supply lines must be kept open.

The same principle operates in our physical bodies. The circulation system is an amazing network of veins, arteries and capillaries. If all blood vessels in the average human body were laid end to end, they would circle the earth twice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_vessels). Every cell depends on the nutrients that are supplied by our blood. If the supply line is impeded (e.g. with a tourniquet), a crisis quickly emerges.

Did you know there are also supply lines in place for spiritual needs? Many are not aware of such a blessing, and many don’t even acknowledge that they have spiritual needs. But it’s true; we often run short of courage, peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and a host of other intangibles.

In his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul refers to these supply lines. He says, for example, in 1:19: “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Paul wrote this letter from a prison cell (see 1:7,14, etc.), a place where needs are strongly felt. The apostle’s needs were supplied, however, because others were praying for him and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit) was supplying him.

In the next chapter Paul pointed to another source of needed blessings. Epaphroditus had come to Paul’s place of confinement to deliver a message from his friends in Philippi. While there Epaphroditus did much more: “Because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me” (Philippians 2:30).

We don’t know the details of what Epaphroditus did while serving Paul. But whatever it was, it supplied the great apostle’s needs. That supply line was again vital.

One other supply line is noted toward the end of this letter: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). This supply line is the most vital of all – a sort of spiritual jugular vein! God’s resources cannot be exhausted, and He places them at our service. Even the extreme hardships of a Roman prison cell could not dampen Paul’s spirits as he contemplated this never-ending river of blessings.

Those who read this probably enjoy reliable supply lines for their physical needs. But what about your soul? Is it getting what it desperately needs? God is ready to bring you into His network, and your every need will be provided.

Timothy D. Hall

The poor man shows us how to live humbly

“The poor man utters supplications, but the rich man answers roughly” (Proverbs 18:23 NASB). Limited resources mean you need to be a wiser and better person to succeed. No matter how hard you try though, some people are just rude and will not listen. A rich person can be careless with their words or even mean and often get away with it. This shows a difference between the humble and the proud. The poor man shows us how to live humbly–by not making demands and asking politely. The rich man, however, shows the actions of a proud and ruthless person. In the end, he does himself harm (cf. Proverbs 11:17).

–Jeremy Sprouse

JUST-IF-I’D NEVER SINNED

NOTHING IS WORSE than the memory of a mistake…

It is like a haunting specter, hovering over your shoulder, constantly whispering one word in your ear: “Shame.”  You find it hard to laugh, to hope, to dream.  You know what you did.  You know the pain you have caused.  You cannot believe what you have allowed yourself to become.

Well, God has promised to set us free from our past and allow us to say, “I am JUST-IF-I’D NEVER SINNED!”  Read Romans 3 and 4 and focus on this blessing and the two essentials that make it possible.  (Dan Winkler)

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:21-31).

Mike Benson

A fire sale

I like a bargain as much as the next person. When I heard about the local fire sale set for Friday, I decided to go by Dollar General for a look.

When I arrived at the store, there were cars parked in all directions for nearly two blocks. As I stepped into the front of the business, I could see people literally jammed together searching through the aisles for various smoke-damaged items. It was dark, dirty and smelled like an old cigarette. The check-out lines were incredibly long.

As I stood there in the doorway, I was suddenly struck with a thought: “Why is it that we as people will crowd a store on FRIDAY morning so that we can save a quarter on every dollar, but we won’t crowd the church building on SUNDAY morning in order to save our souls?”

One day all our material goods will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10, 11) and all of the effort we exerted in securing them will be lost forever. Those bargains we sought so diligently to obtain will be no more. On the other hand, the effort that we employed in laying hold on that which is imperishable (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Corinthians 4:18) will be rewarded with eternal life.

Jesus said, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul” (Matthew 16:26). Dear reader, what is of real value to you?

by Mike Benson