Archives for : July2013

WHEN YOUR TROUBLES ARE “ELEVATED”

When the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai opened, I admit to having thought how cool it would be to go to the top of it. The observation deck sits 124 stories and 2717 feet above the ground. The Burj Khalifa is now the tallest building in the world. Apparently, a good number of tourists share my fascination. However, a little over a month after opening to the public, 15 people got an experience of a lifetime. They were stranded in the elevator for 45 minutes due to what has been speculated to be electrical problems. Those stuck in the lift spoke of hearing a small explosion. Tower staff dropped a ladder into the shaft and helped them climb back onto the observation deck (information gleaned from www.thetimesonline.uk/) .

Acrophobia, the fear of heights, can cause your heart to race, your breathing to get heavy, profuse sweating, and claustrophobic feelings. You can feel trapped. But, even if you don’t suffer from acrophobia, you would have been a bit nervous dangling nearly 3000 feet above the ground in a wounded elevator.

Do you ever feel that loss of control and helplessness in circumstances of your own life? You might not trade places with those stranded Dubai tourists, but maybe you can relate to how they must have felt. Maybe you feel hung out to dry, stranded, and alone. You may wonder where God is in the midst of your hurt. You desire rescue, but you are unsure whether help will arrive. If you hung onto your faith through those trials, you know the relief that follows your elevated troubles. What can you do when your troubles are elevated?

Pray! Talk to God about your fears and worries. Trust in God’s providence. Make a plan of action. Seek aid from resources that can help you relieve the issue (whether books, professionals, friends, etc.). Find someone to serve.

Research passages of scripture that relate to our troubles. Quit behaviors or habits that contribute to the troubles.

Find the peace that comes in depending on God’s help and fight worry. Those suggestions are not a panacea or cure-all. They can, however, work like that ladder thrown to those stranded riders. Once back on the deck where all is much clearer, relief can return. Sometimes it simply requires taking some needed steps. I hope you are never stuck in a situation like those poor souls in Dubai, but you will meet trouble. Make us of all that God gives to help in times of trouble and enjoy the rescue He provides.

-Neal Pollard

Raising small children

How to raise children (Mark Reynolds)

Proverbs 18:24

“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24Proverbs 18:24
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24 He that maketh many friends doeth it to his own destruction; But there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

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People often seek popularity, but it brings more trouble than blessings into one’s life. It is better to have one good friend than hundreds of bad ones. A true, genuine friendship creates a relationship that will endure trials, misunderstandings, and mistakes. It creates a loyalty and bond that is not easily undone. Such a relationship can become stronger than even blood ties.

Jeremy Sprouse

Proverbs 18:24Proverbs 18:24
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24 He that maketh many friends doeth it to his own destruction; But there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

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Psalm 139

A couple of months ago, I walked into my daughter’s bedroom and I noticed that she had placed towels on top of all her American Girl baby dolls. So I asked her, “Anne Marie, why do all your dolls have towels over their heads?” She said, “Because of their eyes…they’re all watching me.” Well, I had to laugh because I remember being afraid of a snowman that used to sit in my sister’s room when I was a little boy, and it too had eyes that “watched me.”

But did you know that Psalm 139 teaches us that we cannot escape the “all-seeing” eyes of God? He sees everything. He is always present. And that truth leads me to this question. Do God’s “all-seeing eyes” give you comfort or fear?

For the child of God who is seeking to become more and more like Jesus, the presence and oversight of God in one’s daily walk should be comforting and reassuring; like a child learning to ride a bike as that child’s father runs along side for protection and safety.

But for the one who is carelessly living his life, unconcerned about the will of God, the presence and “all-seeing eyes” of God should be a terrifying proposition.

So which is it for you? Does the fact that God sees everything give you comfort and reassurance, or does this fact make you want to reach for a towel?

–Steve Higginbotham

Nice set of ears you’ve got!

WE DON’T ORDINARILY think of ears as beautiful parts of the body…

They never get featured on the covers of magazines. There are not many songs or poems about ears. No one seems to compliment them. When did anyone come to you and say, “Nice set of ears you’ve got!” In fact, ears take lots of abuse. They get twisted by parents, punctured by metal shafts, invaded by gnats, clogged by wax, burned by the sun, frozen by the cold, and assaulted by a variety of loud noises. Some even get nibbled on now and then.

The truth is that ears are the marvelous creation of God. They are beautiful and the ability to hear is one of God’s most precious gifts. Lindsey Garmon

. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” Proverbs 18:13Proverbs 18:13
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13 He that giveth answer before he heareth, It is folly and shame unto him.

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. “The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15Proverbs 18:15
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15 The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; And the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

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. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19James 1:19
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19 Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

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“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:15Matthew 11:15
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15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

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Mike Benson

Marriage is a commitment

SHE LOOKED HIM right in the eyes and said, “I want a divorce, the romance is gone out of our marriage…

The terms “romance” and “love” are so nebulous to the average person, the court dockets are loaded with divorce evil. Divorce is seldom considered in some Asian cultures. A young man in Hong Kong told some preachers that he did not see his bride until he met her at the altar. Their parents had contracted the marriage when they were children. When asked, what about “falling in love” and “romance” he said, “That is your problem in America. Americans look upon marriage as a romance–we look upon it as a commitment.”

Our generation has been fed a steady diet of romance. In the movies and on TV we are told that a happy marriage is predicated on falling in love. When couples wake up some morning and find marriage has commitments and responsibilities they are disgusted and disillusioned. They find out that marriage is made up of carrying out the garbage, changing diapers, trying to make house payments, and dealing with inlaws and outlaws.

Marriage is a commitment. Falling in love and romance are great if they are understood and practiced in the right context. Movies and TV are a mighty poor place to learn to about life-long marriage. Ward Hargland

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33Ephesians 5:25-33
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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30 because we are members of his body. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. 33 Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband.

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–Mike Benson

Afraid of being bitten?

Several years ago, I had a dog that was hit by a car. Her leg and hip were broken in the accident. Obviously, she was in a lot of pain. So when I picked her up to take her to the vet, do you know what she did? She bit me! I was only trying to be kind and help, but she bit me.

Same song, second verse… Have you ever tried to reach out to someone who was obviously in pain in an effort to help them? When you have done so, have you ever been “bitten” by those you’re trying to help? If so, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. You see, I’ve come to realize that hurt people hurt people.

So here are two challenges. 1) Don’t let your fear of being “bitten” keep you from doing good for others. Seldom does doing good and helping another come without cost. And 2) when you’re hurting, and someone tries to reach out to you and offer you help, resist the urge to “bite” and graciously accept their help, understanding that they are seeking your good.

Steve Higginbotham.

Comfort in being able to anticipate the future

I CANNOT OVERSTATE how frightening it is to lose a sense of control or influence…

People will even choose to stay in familiar situations that they know are not working rather than face the ambiguity of the unknown. Many times a battered wife will remain for years, even a lifetime, with a physically violent husband. Women have reported that, among other reasons, they have stayed with brutal husbands because breaking out of the relationship was even more frightening than the beatings. Even though the situation may be physically and emotionally abusive, such women have at least learned what to expect, and there is an odd comfort in being able to anticipate the future–even a negative future. Daryl Conner

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And He went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8Hebrews 11:8
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8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

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–Mike Benson

Closed pockets!

A PREACHER TRAVELED across the country for a week of meetings…

The only problem was, his baggage didn’t make it. He needed a couple of suits so he went down to the local thrift shop. When he told the salesman, “I’d like to get a couple of suits,” the man smiled, led him to a whole rack of them and said, “Good, we’ve got several. But you need to know they came from the local mortuary. They’ve all been cleaned and pressed, but they were used on men who had passed away. Not a thing wrong with ’em. I just didn’t want that to bother you.”

The preacher said, “No, that’s fine.” He tried a few of the suits on and finally bought two of them for about $25 dollars each. When he got back to this his room, he began to get dressed for the evening’s meetings. As he put one on, he tried to put his hands in the pockets, but couldn’t. Both sides were all sewn up! The suits looked as if they had pockets, but they were just flaps on the coat. He thought about that for a second. “Of course! Deceased people don’t carry stuff with ’em when they die.” He later admitted: “I spent all week trying to stick my hands in my pockets. Had to hang my keys on my belt.” Charles R. Swindoll

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” 1 Timothy 6:71 Timothy 6:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out;

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Mike Benson

Are you ready to quit?

“STAND STILL, AND see the salvation of the LORD…” Exodus 14:13Exodus 14:13
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13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

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These words contain God’s command to the Christian when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut upon the right hand and on the left. What is he to do now?

The Master’s word to him is “stand still.” It will be well for him if, at such times, he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisors come with their suggestions.

Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.”

Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the world’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part; it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.”

Presumption boasts, “If the sea is before you, march into it.” (L. B. Cowman)

THOUGHT: Are you ready to quit? Have you turned backward? Have you started moving ahead before it’s time to do so? Think about it.

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. Exodus 14:13Exodus 14:13
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13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

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Mike Benson

It’s time to get ready for Wednesday night Bible study

Imagine the scene…It’s been a very difficult week at work. You’ve been given more to do than you can possibly get done. Your superiors don’t seem to care that you’re overloaded, they just want results. You’re stressed out and frazzled. Supper is over and it’s Wednesday night, and your spouse says, “It’s time to get ready for Wednesday night Bible study.” Question: What are you thinking at this point?

Some might answer that question with an answer similar to the following, “Oh great! It’s Wednesday night and we have Bible study. I’ve had a rough week, I’m just not up for it tonight.”

Others might answer that question with an answer similar to this, “Oh great! It’s Wednesday night and we have Bible study. I’ve had a rough week, and I need something to lift my spirits.”

Same scenario, different responses. Which would you give? Friends, if our response would be more in line with the first answer, then at least one of two things are wrong. 1) Our assemblies aren’t offering the fellowship and encouragement they should be offering, or 2) We have lost perspective of what a privilege and blessing it is to be able to open God’s word, learn more of Him, and fellowship with the saints.

Have you had a hard week? It’s Wednesday, and most places will have Bible study tonight. What will your decision be?

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘let us go to the house of the Lord!'” (Psalm 122:1Psalm 122:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

A Song of Ascents; of David. 122 1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of Jehovah.

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–Steve Higginbotham

A faithful Christian wife

CONSIDER THAT A faithful Christian wife doesn’t submit to her husband because he is stronger…

She does so because of her conviction that this is God’s will. Most women have within their power to control and manipulate their husband if they chose to do so, and the women of the world wield their emotional, sexual, and sometimes physical control over their husbands. A Christian woman chooses to obey God and submit to her husband’s authority. She submits to her husband because she has submitted to God. (Glenn Colley)

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22Ephesians 5:22
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22 Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

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–Mike Benson

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him

ANTHILLS ARE MADE when a bunch of insignificant creatures get together…

If you ever mistakenly step on an anthill without shoes, their fellowship will make an impact on you. One ant bite might sting a little. Most folks can handle that. But if a person messes with the whole family in an anthill, those ants will gather around your foot and serve notice that you are unwelcome in their house…

One ant can’t create that kind of impact by itself. Gathered together, their combined effect is much greater. Not only do they ward off intruders together, they will also work together to rebuild in a day and a half what was destroyed. (Tony Evans)

“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12Ecclesiastes 4:12
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12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

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Mike Benson/

Beware of the man who can’t laugh at himself

WHICH OF US is not guilty of cutting other people down just for the laughs…?

We enjoy our biting sarcasm and our abilities to ridicule, our stinging quips, our sharp put-downs. The best humor, of course, is joking at our own expense. But we pass up this healthful humor to be thought witty in our daily give-and-take banter. We miss opportunities to encourage others so we can build up our reputations for cleverness.

In an ironic and cynical age, all of us fall into patterns of insult and derision. Mocking the mighty above us or the miserable beneath us becomes a popular sport. With a wisecrack, we betray. Only a thorough sense of our own sinfulness keeps us from taking others too lightly and ourselves too seriously. Beware of the man who can’t laugh at himself. Howard E. Butt, Jr.

“Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather give thanks.” Ephesians 5:4Ephesians 5:4
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4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks.

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–Mike Benson

Don’t let your eyes adjust to the dark

A GOOD FRIEND of mine posted a personal statement on Facebook that says, “Don’t let your eyes adjust to the dark…”

He gives no explanation or elaboration, and for his friends who are unfamiliar with the Bible, the message probably makes no sense.  When I first read it, I assumed it was some inside joke between him and another friend.  But knowing the kind of person he is, it occurred to me that he was talking about spiritual, not physical, darkness.  In fact, his words effectively summarize what Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-23Matthew 6:22-23
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22 The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!

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God created our physical eyes to easily adjust to dark surroundings, but He never intended for our souls to adapt to the darkness of sin and its effects.  To His dismay, however, too many of His children find spiritual darkness normal, and some even find it quite comfortable.  Is this true of you or me?  Have our spiritual eyes adjusted to darkness when:

Sin saturates the shows or movies we watch, the things we read, or the websites we visit?

We see others hurting or suffering and yet feel no compassion for them?

We misuse our mouths with bad language, gossip, harsh criticism, or other cruelty?

The world is often a dark place, and its shadows can easily creep into our lives and overwhelm us.  But God’s light will always eliminate the darkness of sin and as His lights, we can even make this world a brighter place.  “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8Ephesians 5:8
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8 For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light

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).  Blaine Kelly

“The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  Matthew 6:22-23Matthew 6:22-23
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22 The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!

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Mike Benson

The lungi

Ready to Work

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:131 Peter 1:13
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13 Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

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NKJV).

The lungi is a traditional item of clothing for Asian men. It is a simple piece of fabric wrapped around the waist to make what we in the west would consider a skirt. It is typically worn full length, waist to ankles, and is a popular lounging garment for the upper classes.

The poor however often wear the lungi to work and as their normal everyday clothing.

When a man wearing a lungi prepares to engage in heavy labor or athletic activity the loose length of the garment is a hindrance, interfering with his movement and provided potential hazards of tripping or entanglement with tools.

Therefore he will often wrap and tuck the extra length of fabric up around his waist and hips until he can move freely.

This is exactly the literal meaning of the Biblical expression “gird up your loins.” It describes one who tightens his robe or other dress and prepares for work. In the text quoted above, Peter uses it metaphorically to describe a spiritual and intellectual tightening.

He directs us to “gird up the loins of [our] mind.” In other words, to discipline our thinking and our attitudes.

Such girding up he says is necessary to the full realization of our hope in the grace of Jesus. Loose thinking hinders our trust in Christ, and our desire for eternal life with him.

Loose thinking distracts us from the task of serving God and from the necessity of purity in our lives. Our goals are confused. Our way becomes crooked. We are entangled in unnecessary material which may easily lead us to harm.

The sloppy, unnecessary thoughts which so hinder us include such things as worldly desires and pleasures (James 4:1-4James 4:1-4
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4 1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures. 4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.

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), envy or jealousy (Galatians 5:20-21Galatians 5:20-21
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20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 21 envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

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), malice (Ephesians 4:31Ephesians 4:31
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31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice:

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), and hatred (Titus 3:3Titus 3:3
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3 For we also once were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

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When our minds are filled with these things we cannot possibly “set our minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2Colossians 3:2
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2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.

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) or “walk according to the Spirit [minding] the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:1,5Romans 8:1,5
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8 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. 5 For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

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In order to discipline our minds so that we can more effectively put our trust in Jesus, Peter exhorts us to “be sober.” Though the Bible often warns against drunkenness and requires sobriety in the physical sense, that is not the meaning here.

Rather Peter is still discussing the mind, so that he is urging us to think soberly. In this context “soberly” has the primary meaning of seriousness. We are to choose what we spend time thinking about, and direct our minds to things worthy of consideration.

Paul makes the same point in Philippians 4:8Philippians 4:8
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8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

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“Whatsoever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”

Time is valuable, even time spent just thinking. More than that, our thoughts themselves are important.

They may cause us to be defiled (Mark 7:21Mark 7:21
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21 For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,

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). They define our nature (Proverbs 23:7Proverbs 23:7
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7 For as he thinketh within himself, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; But his heart is not with thee.

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). One may sin by just thinking evil (Matthew 5:22, 28Matthew 5:22, 28
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22 but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire. 28 but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

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). One may also praise and glorify God with pure and wholesome thought (Psalms 1:1-2Psalms 1:1-2
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The Book of Psalms Book I 1 1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: 2 But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night.

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In the western world we might admonish, “roll up your sleeves and get to work.” The principle is the same. Remove or restrain anything that gets in the way of service to God. Let us get serious about our Christian walk. Let us apply this principle not just to our bodies, but also to our minds.

Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

Do not envy a man of violence …

From knights in shining armor to gunslingers in westerns, we have always held a fascination with a violent man. Our children are brought up with these as heroes.

How many Marvel Comics would sell, do you suppose, if Superman was constantly sitting down and negotiating with Lex Luther? And how many viewers would feel cheated if Clint Eastwood walked up to a bad guy and said, “Go ahead, make my day. Let’s talk about our differences.”?

There is no young person who is in such grave peril as the one who idealizes a violent man, and there is no society in as grave a position as the one that makes heroes out of its most violent members.

“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways,for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence” (Proverbs 3:31,32Proverbs 3:31,32
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31 Envy thou not the man of violence, And choose none of his ways. 32 For the perverse is an abomination to Jehovah; But his friendship is with the upright.

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, ESV).

These days rap singers hammer their resentment towards women and authority by promising to hurt them. Tough guys like Arnold and Sylvester (Rambo, not the cat!) are admired precisely because they can violently deal with their antagonists.

It is well to remember that outrages will be dealt with, if not in a human court of law, then duly noted in another, superior court. So who are your heroes?

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

God’s timing

SOMETIMES GOD SEEMS to take forever…

You wait and wait and wait.  But when He finally moves, He does more in one hour and you could accomplish in a lifetime.  So it’s your choice: be busily consumed with your paltry attempts or wait on God until He moves in the fulness of His glory and purposes.  God’s sense of timing is like this: He waits forever and then moves suddenly and instantaneously.  There’s only one way to even begin to tune into God’s sense of timing, and that is through waiting.  Waiting transports us out of the temporal, out of our time-zone, and into His time-zone.

God can out-wait anybody.  He just waits and waits, while the crisis looms larger and larger, and He waits some more.  He waits until the crisis becomes an impossible predicament.  And then He waits some more!  Finally, when the remotest chance of escape is completely gone, God intervenes suddenly.  A good example of this is Abraham.

God promised Abraham a son when he was 75 years old, even though Sarah was barren.  And then God waits five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years.  By now it’s too late.  Even if Sarah were not barren, she is now too old, and so is Abraham.  Twenty-five years.  Count them.  Twenty-five interminable years.  Finally, when all natural hope was exhausted, God provided and Sarah became pregnant!  God is the king of wait.  (Bob Sorge)

“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.”  Proverbs 37:7Proverbs 37:7
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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–Mike Benson

The work of pastors

Godly Pastors

Years ago, I was with a group doing mission work in New Zealand. One day we visited a seal colony on the beach. That was extraordinary and something to remember forever.

However, another notable event occurred that bears a lot of consideration as we try to understand discipleship and church leadership. Two men on horseback passed in front of our group driving about two dozen sheep through a gate.

In the western world, we drive sheep while shepherds in other parts of the world lead sheep. “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:4John 10:4
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4 When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

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, NKJV).

There is a profound difference between driving sheep and leading them. If we will take the time to ponder it, we can see a spiritual challenge and a possible obstacle placed before us.

Prideful, stubborn, selfish people see everything in terms of themselves. Through this lens, we see things in a distorted manner. When we hear submission, we equate it with slavery and inferiority.

However, the word carries no such meaning in Scripture. It simply means to place ourselves under something or someone. When we place ourselves under them, it does not mean we are inferior or that we will be abused or mistreated. It is a matter of roles and responsibilities.

Submission is imperative to salvation (James 4:10James 4:10
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10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you.

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“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:22-23Ephesians 5:22-23
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22 Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.

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Christ loves and gives support to his church, so husbands should do the same for their wives. We must treat our wives as treasures given from God (Genesis 2:18-25Genesis 2:18-25
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18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him. 21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

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Similar principles are applied to serving under elders.

The author of Hebrews says,

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17Hebrews 13:17
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17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

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Many bristle at the thought of someone ruling over them. However, shepherds submit to God and are to be gentle and loving, just as a godly husband would. He will elevate the sheep and provide for them in any way that he can.

These pastors should be men that saints will follow and listen to, if they are men of God, following the Savior to heaven. A pastor does not rule with a whip but instructs and leads with gentleness and meekness of heart (1 Corinthians 11:11 Corinthians 11:1
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11 1 Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

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We will say that no one will tell us what to do. Yet, we will follow a firefighter out of a fire, a doctor who seeks a cure for our cancer and a police officer out of a gunfight.

When it suits us, we will follow. However, when our pride consumes us, we refuse. Satan exploits our weaknesses and vanities to draw us away from God.

Why are mortal dangers more important than spiritual dangers?

Pastors watch out for our souls. God will hold them responsible if they do not. Yet, if they do and we refuse to listen, the burden is on our shoulders (Ezekiel 33:1-11Ezekiel 33:1-11
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33 1 And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and set him for their watchman; 3 if, when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning, if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him; whereas if he had taken warning, he would have delivered his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned, and the sword come, and take any person from among them; he is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. 7 So thou, son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die, and thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way; that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thy hand. 9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, and he turn not from his way; he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul. 10 And thou, son of man, say unto the house of Israel: Thus ye speak, saying, Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them; how then can we live? 11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

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Jesus is the Savior and we must give him complete obedience (John 14:15John 14:15
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15 If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.

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). His plan is that we will have leadership in our congregations so that we will have guidance and instruction (Acts 20:28Acts 20:28
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28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.

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Let us trust God’s plan! The omnipotent, omniscient God deserves it.

–Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15Romans 12:15
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15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.

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). Charles Swindoll in his book “Killing Giants, Pulling Thorns,” tells of a little child who lost a playmate to death. One day the child announced to her family that she had gone to comfort the sorrowing mother.

Surprised, and a little alarmed, her family wondered what had happened.

“What did you say?” asked her father.

“Oh nothing,” the little girl responded, “I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.”

I doubt that the most eloquent preacher in town could have communicated better. When someone loses a loved one we are afraid to speak to the bereaved. “I won’t know what to say,” we declare, “What if I say the wrong thing?” we fret.

These fears are natural. But remember in your anxiety that their sorrow is much greater than your discomfort.

I have learned that it is better to try to do something than to leave the bereaved without a word at all, without the touch of a caring friend. Even if you do nothing more than “weep with those who weep,” your very caring has communicated something important.

Most people who are experiencing this don’t expect you to say something that is historically profound. Your words of wisdom won’t dispel the cloud of hurt they are under, and they understand that. What they do want is to know if someone cares.

Hold a hand. Write a card. Pull a thorn out of a throbbing foot. Shed a tear with them.

Those actions will say more than your words can, anyway.

by Stan Mitchell http://tinyurl.com/nmc3l4r