Archives for : October2013

Digital bus

These posts will be discontinued till 11/5

“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:5-71 Timothy 1:5-7
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5 But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned: 6 from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm.

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NKJV).

On a recent trip to northern Bangladesh we fell in behind a bus and noticed an unusual description – “Digital bus.” My companions in the van discussed what could be “digital” about an ordinary looking beat up Bangla bus.

Just a few minutes later we were stopped in traffic at an intersection. A vendor came to our window, trying to sell us handcrafted baskets and other novelties.

On his head was a stack of woven cane hats which he pointed to when I would not buy any of the other merchandise. After my first refusal he pointed to the hats again, smiled broadly and said, “Digital.”

It is not unusual here in South Asia to find English advertising which uses words in strange ways. After all English is not commonly spoken; even those who have studied it to some degree often have minimum proficiency.

Names are chosen for their sound, or faddish popularity, not because they are fitting to a particular application. Adjectives may be wildly mismatched to corresponding nouns.

This practice is relatively harmless and even amusing in the context of billboards, buses and street vendors. But in other arenas such misuse of language can be exceedingly harmful.

In the text at the beginning of this article, Paul describes a loss of faith which resulted from idle talk and careless use of language. Just because they loved to talk about things which they did not understand, some were led completely away from their belief in the Gospel.

Peter exhorts, “If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” ( 1 Peter 4:111 Peter 4:11
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11 if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; is any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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). I have often applied that statement to preaching and teaching on religious matters.

Peter does not necessarily restrict his command in this way. We are to be careful of every word we speak, using our tongues and language to honor God and serve mankind.

There is considerable emphasis in the New Testament on the importance of every word we speak, and the necessity of using care in our language.

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification” ( Ephesians 4:29Ephesians 4:29
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29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.

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“Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of 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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“These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to their own advantage” (Jude 16).

“Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:41 Timothy 1:4
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4 neither to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questionings, rather than a dispensation of God which is in faith; so do I now.

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When a street vendor or sales person in Bangladesh uses an English word he does not really understand, no harm may be done. When Christian people use words incorrectly, without proper understanding, the result may be corruption of doctrine and loss of faith.

Our predecessors in the Restoration heritage correctly insisted, “let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.

Let us call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in Bible ways.” Or, more Scripturally, let us speak as the oracles of God.

by Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

Gentle Spaces News

MAKING PEACE

The following story came to me by way of “Chicken Soul For the Soul”. Its source is listed as “Gentle Spaces News”.

A wise old gentleman retired and purchased a modest home near a junior high school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment . . . then a new school year began. The very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful, after-school enthusiasm, came down his street, beating merrily on every trash can they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.

The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. Stopping them, he said, “You kids are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. Used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favor? I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.”

The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the trash cans. After a few days, the old-timer greeted the kids again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. “This recession’s really putting a big dent in my income,” he told them. “From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.” The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they did accept his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus.

A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street. “Look.” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?”

“A lousy quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think we’re going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re nuts! No way, mister. We quit!” And the old man enjoyed peace and serenity for the rest of his days.

A wise man indeed! He discovered something that most of us spend our whole lives searching for — a way to make peace. Granted, his peace was a “peace and quiet”, while we seek to bring about a deeper level of peace, but the principle is the same.

In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:9Matthew 5:9
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9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.

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), Jesus included peacemakers among those who would be blessed. I stand in awe of those who have the ability to reconcile people who have been fussing and fighting.

Allow these words of Paul to speak to us: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men….. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” (Romans 12:18; 14:19Romans 12:18; 14:19
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18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men. 19 So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another.

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May God bless us with wisdom to find ways to do just that.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Indian relocation – 1829

Slavery and the treatment of Native Americans are two of the most shameful events in American history. Likewise, the Trail of Tears is one of our nation’s lowest points.

Before the term Manifest Destiny entered the American lexicon, the concept was very real. White settlers filled the countryside. As a result, their land-hunger became voracious.

“Between 1816 and 1840, tribes located between the original states and the Mississippi River, including Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, signed more than 40 treaties ceding their lands to the U.S.”/1

President Andrew Jackson established the policy of Indian relocation in 1829. The next year, gravity took hold and the future of the Cherokee Indians took a tragic turn when settlers discovered gold on Cherokee land. /2

Cherokee leaders tried to save their people by signing the New Echota treaty in 1835. The treaty ceded “all Cherokee territory east of the Mississippi to the U.S., in exchange for $5 million and new homelands in Indian Territory.”/3

Soon, the Cherokee nation was on their way to Oklahoma. Their journey, in their own tongue, became known as, “The trail where they cried.”/4

We can take their tragedy and make application to our Christian walk.

First, life is neither fair nor just. Spiritually, we find opposition at every step. Satan, the god of this world, attacks us daily in his quest to decimate God’s people (2 Corinthians 4:42 Corinthians 4:4
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4 in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them.

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; John 8:44John 8:44
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44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

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; Job 1-2; Ephesians 6:12Ephesians 6:12
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12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

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As a result, we will face persecution and hardship as Satan attempts to destroy our faith (2 Timothy 3:122 Timothy 3:12
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12 Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

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). As Christians, we should see the broader view of man’s existence, we must be aware of these attacks, realizing why they occur and what they mean (John 17:14John 17:14
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14 I have given them thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

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). Sin made the world unfair, not God.

Second, in a lesser way, we all have our own Trail of Tears. Sorrow is an undeniable part of the human experience. Sin came into the world and death followed (Genesis 3). We are born with our own tears and we die with the tears of others.

Wayne Jackson wrote, “Human beings are the only biological creatures on earth to shed tears in times of emotional distress.”/5 Grief and tears fill the pages of Scripture (Job). Death perpetually waits for our last end (Hebrews 9:27Hebrews 9:27
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27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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The Cherokee, and the other tribes involved, suffered a horrible wrong that still resonates. Let us not allow Satan the opportunity to do the same to us as Christians.

–Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net
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1/ http://www.nps.gov/trte/historyculture/stories.htm
2/ Ibid.
3/ Ibid.
4/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears
5/ https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/614-the-trail-of-tears

Communication in marriage

“Comfortable”

Jake drove over to the next county to buy a new bull for the farm. It cost more than expected, and he was left with only one dollar. This was a problem since he needed to let his wife know that he’d bought the bull so she could come get it with the truck–and telegrams cost a dollar a word. He thought for a while and said, “Go ahead and just make it this one word: comfortable.” “How’s that going to get your point across?” asked the clerk. “Don’t worry,” said Jake. “Sue’s not the greatest reader. She’ll say it real slow” (via THE FURROW, March 2010, p. 28).

How is your communication in marriage? Do you know your mate well enough to know how best to give and receive messages? Sometimes we get so comfortable that we begin to make assumptions about what our spouse knows and understands. How can we dwell together in knowledge without making the investment in one another, an investment that includes time, talking, and attention (cf. 1 Pet. 3:71 Pet. 3:7
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7 Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.

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)? Such biblical mandates as “love” (Eph. 5:25Eph. 5:25
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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;

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; Ti. 2:4) and “submission” (Eph. 5:22-24Eph. 5:22-24
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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. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything.

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) cannot be properly obeyed without knowing one another and communicating.

We should be comfortable with each other, at ease and not on pins and needles in a marriage. How miserable that must be! Yet, when comfortable means presumption and assumption we may be in more trouble than a man with a bull and no way to get him home! Let’s become comfortable with communicating.

Neal Pollard

Ambush – Proverbs 12:6

“The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers them” (Proverbs 12:6Proverbs 12:6
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6 The words of the wicked are of lying in wait for blood; But the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

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, ESV).

The desert was still and quiet. The red rock-rimmed mesas stood silent sentinel over the wagon that made its way up and away from the river it had just crossed. Choking dust rose behind it, marking its location for the watching eyes that followed its progress.

Bandits lay flat on the warm rocks above them, watching it as it rocked and creaked along. They fingered their rifles impatiently, waiting for the exact moment when they would attack.

There was a place where the trail narrowed between huge granite boulders, when the unsuspecting family would be most vulnerable. When the wagon reached those rocks, they would strike.

We all know the scene from a dozen Hollywood productions, but have you ever considered the possibility of your words waiting in ambush, seeking the right moment to attack?

Can you imagine your words like gunshots firing on unsuspecting victims, tearing into the fabric and flesh, wounding and killing their victims?

Words have a life of their own. They lie in ambush, waiting to insult a person of color, to break the heart of a child with glasses, to betray a supposedly best friend.

The unsuspecting victim reads the e-mail that questions his integrity, the church leader overhears a wildly inaccurate accusation. The words kick and scream, ricochet and destroy.

Don’t leave your words to “lie in wait for blood.” Tie them down, bury them. Better still, don’t fire them at all!

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Proverbs 12:6Proverbs 12:6
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6 The words of the wicked are of lying in wait for blood; But the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

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I’ve just shot them all

A man was going up to bed, when his wife told him he’d left the light on in the garden shed – she could see it from the bedroom window. But he said that he hadn’t been in the shed that day. He looked, and there were men in the shed, stealing things. He rang the police, but they told him that no one was in his area, so no one was available to catch the thieves.

He said OK, hung up, counted to 30 and rang the police again. “Hello. I just rang you a few seconds ago because there were people in my shed? Well, you don’t have to worry about them now, I’ve just shot them all.”

Within five minutes there were half a dozen police cars in the area, an Armed Response unit, the works. Of course, they caught the burglars red-handed. One of the policeman said to this man: “I thought you said you’d shot them!”

He replied, “I thought you said there was no one available!”

The same thing happens frequently in my life. Someone asks me to do something and I respond, “I don’t have the time.” Often, what I mean by that is, “I don’t regard this as important enough.” The truth is, we find (or make) the time to do whatever we regard to be important.

Someone has said you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at his checkbook. There is a great deal of validity to that. We are willing to spend money on the things we think are important. But perhaps a greater indicator of our priorities would be our planning books — a record of how our time is spent.

For all of us, choices must be made. We don’t have time to do everything, so we must choose those things which are of greatest importance to us. Just be careful that your choices are those things which are also most important to God. The greatest men and women in the Bible were not those with the greatest resources or talents, but they were men and women who made themselves available to be used by God whenever He called. May God never hear us say, “Sorry, but I’m not available!”

“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17Ephesians 5:15-17
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15 Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

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Alan Smith

Perhaps she needs better laundry soap

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning, while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

“That laundry is not very clean,” she said. “She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: “Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.”

The husband said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

– via THE SOWER, Arthur, IL., Ron Bartanen,

Why does God allow people to suffer?

On September 11, 2001, the sky was clear and blue. It was one of the most beautiful days in recent memory.

Pilots took off at the behest of air traffic controllers. Military jets prepared and lifted off for training missions. All was normal and people’s spirits lifted high on the breeze.

People watching news channels heard of a small plane crashing into the North tower of the World Trade Center at 8:45 A.M. People were shocked at the terrible accident.

Airline personnel wondered how a pilot could make such an error on such a clear day.

Bad and unclear information circulates among planes, pilots and controllers. The day continues as normal. At 9:03, news channels show an airliner crash into the South Tower live and in stunning color.

Everyone stops breathing for a second.

Mass confusion ensues. People hear rumors and reports on their cellphones and computers and tell flight personnel. They dismiss these reports as mistakes.

At 9:17, all New York airports shut down. Controllers re-route airliners without explanation. Controllers are overwhelmed and speak as few words as possible.

Military jets scramble into the sky with and without weapons. No one knows who is in charge. Pilots hear a variety of stories such as bombs exploding at the White House and the Pentagon.

Innocent planes come close to being shot down because of inaccurate or incomplete reports. Fighter planes fill the New York airspace and nearly run into each other and become increasingly frustrated at the lack of clear guidelines. Different planes and software lead to incompatibility and communication nightmares.

The problem was that no single person knew everything that was happening. People held scraps of the page, rather than the entire sheet. Therefore, no one understood the bigger picture and chaos reigned.

People frequently ask the question, “Why does God allow people to suffer?” “Why doesn’t he take care of his children?”

Just like people on September 11, no one on earth has a complete picture of what is happening. We are not omniscient. We see scraps of the page, filled with false or incomplete knowledge. Accordingly, we cannot make perfectly informed decisions. We cannot see all the pieces on the board. We do not see God’s providence in action.

God can indeed see the entire picture, coming and going (1 John 3:201 John 3:20
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20 because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

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). He looks down on time, as we do at our dinner table, at all the pieces in their place. His infinite wisdom and knowledge allow him to see the consequences and opportunities decades in advance. He also knows his infinite plan as it is steered through time.

Job and his friends discussed God, like he was not there. Finally, God speaks and his message is that man has no idea how powerful he is. He sees and does things we cannot even imagine as fallible humans (Job 38-41).

We suffer because of our own sins and weaknesses. We suffer because of the actions of others and because our bodies are weak and break down.

God sees what is possible, without violating man’s freewill or altering the Lord’s plan of salvation. His depth of understanding is so vast, that man is hopeless to grasp it.

We just need to accept by faith that God has our best interests at heart and that he is consummate goodness (Psalm 145:9Psalm 145:9
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9 Jehovah is good to all; And his tender mercies are over all his works.

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). Let us leave the rest to him and absorb his word, so we will be wise.

Let God do the leading. He is perfectly capable.

Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

Building Self-Esteem

What is “self-esteem?” “Esteem” comes from the Latin aestimare, which means “to value, to appraise, to estimate.” So “esteem” means “to have great regard for; value highly; respect; consider; regard.” “Self-esteem” would then be “to have great regard for yourself, to value yourself highly, to respect yourself.”

How can we develop a healthy self-regard? For one thing, we must accept responsibility for our own self-esteem (Galatians 6:5Galatians 6:5
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5 For each man shall bear his own burden.

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). We are, without a doubt, influenced by our upbringing and how our parents reared us. But, how we view ourselves and how we impact our future, depends on our own thinking, our own decisions. If you find yourself thinking, “This is who I am, I’ll never change” – then you’ll never change. We have to accept responsibility for ourselves and our thinking.

Secondly, we need to work on how we think (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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). We often over-generalize, make things worse than they are, and view the 80% positive in our lives through the lines of the 20% negative. When someone criticizes one aspect of our behavior, personality, etc., we often think to ourselves “I am no good” or “They don’t like anything about me.” None of that is true and we need to remind ourselves of that.

In a book written by a teacher, The Excellent 11 by Ron Clark, Mr. Clark tells how, as a 5th-grade history teacher, he challenged all his class to memorize all the presidents (42 at the time). It was a pass or fail test, too. Most kids knew they could not do it in a month’s time. But, Mr. Clark made up a rap and did other things to help the kids do it. Guess how many kids passed the test. All of them. You can image how much that affected the self-esteem of those kids. They went from being challenged to do something they thought was impossible, to seeing that they could do it. If you can do that, what else can you do?

Sometimes, our own worst enemy is our own negative thinking and negative self-image.  Third, we need to set realistic goals for ourselves (Phil. 3:13-14Phil. 3:13-14
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13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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). Sometimes we expect more out of ourselves than what we can realistically accomplish. We then fail and it affects our view of ourselves when, in reality, we should not have been trying something outside of our skill-set. In addition to that, we need to forgive ourselves.  Sometimes, forgiving others comes easier than forgiving ourselves. Take a look at Mark 1:4Mark 1:4
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4 John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins.

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and verse 18. The word “forgiveness” in Mark 1:4Mark 1:4
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4 John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins.

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and “left” in Mark 1:18Mark 1:18
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18 And straightway they left the nets, and followed him.

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are in the same word family. In other words, to “forgive” means to “leave behind.” We need to forgive ourselves of sins we’ve made and then leave them in the past. We do not need to periodically bring them up and beat ourselves up over them.

We are not prisoners of our past nor victims of our circumstances. We can change what we can change. Build on your strengths; recognize that God has designed you in a unique way and expects you to use your unique capacities to honor Him. He’ll give you the strength to do it. You should feel good about that.

–Paul Holland

We Need REAL Men!

Television can be really irritating, especially if you are a man. Men are typically portrayed as bungling idiots who are delivered weekly from the brink of disaster by a thoughtful, intelligent, and caring woman.

I am hard pressed to think of one show where a strong, intelligent, and caring man is portrayed in a family setting. If a man is thus depicted on TV, he is usually a homosexual. I know it’s only television, but I also know the power of TV.

I’m ready to bring Ward Cleaver and Jim Anderson back into our family rooms. They were much better examples than Homer Simpson and Ray Romano. They were strong, intelligent, and God-fearing.

They represented the ideal in fatherhood. Many of us from that generation were fortunate to have fathers like them. Today’s generation desperately needs that kind of role model again.

We need men who love their families. Paul challenged husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25Ephesians 5:25
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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;

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). A real man will not permit work or hobbies to come before God and family.

We need men who will lead their homes. Many women find themselves placed in a leadership role because their husbands have abdicated their leadership position. Again, the Scriptures demand, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18Colossians 3:18
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18 Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

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But, it’s hard to submit when the man of the house is still a boy! I always remind newlyweds that this headship does not mean that a man is his wife’s oppressor and she his servant. Instead, he is her protector, and she is his helper!

We need men who will take an active role in child rearing. It is not by accident that fathers are warned: “… provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4Ephesians 6:4
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4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.

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The Divine plan for the family demands an active role for fathers. This is a privilege and not simply a duty.

We need men who will provide a spiritual foundation for the home. God said of Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19Genesis 18:19
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19 For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

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What does God know about us?

–by Roger Rush @ www.forthright.net

Honorable discharge from the U.S. Army

The story is told of a poor old Indian who walked into a Western military camp to beg for food. They found suspended from his neck a locket, inside of which they found a piece of paper containing his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. The paper, entitling him to a pension, was signed by none other than George Washington. Perhaps because not many native Americans actually enlisted individually to fight as soldiers in the Revolutionary War, this old vet may have been unaware of procedure and protocol or of the value of that piece of paper which he likely could not read. He was entitled to what the Government had to offer, but he did not know to ask. Thus, rather than having his needs supplied, he was severely deprived.

However sad and tragic this man’s story seems, how many children of God entitled to the privileges of strength and help from prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship find themselves spiritually starving, alone, and struggling? God is their Father. Jesus is their elder Brother. All spiritual blessings are theirs. Yet, they do not seek and ask. How sad that there are Christians with access to all the help of heaven who have chosen to be lonely beggars! May we live up to that worthy name and life into which we were called when we were baptized into Christ.

–Neal Pollard

THINK NOBODY’S WATCHING?

A family was rushing to get to the movies. The parents told the children they had to leave “right now” at which point their teenage daughter headed for the bathroom to apply makeup. Her father yelled for her to get in the car immediately, and headed to the garage grumbling.

On the way to the theater, the father glanced in the rear view mirror and saw his daughter applying lipstick and blush, which produced the predictable lecture. “Look at your mom,” he said. “She didn’t put on any makeup just to go sit in a dark movie theater.”

The daughter’s response was, “Yeah, but Mom doesn’t need makeup.”

The mother’s heart was swelling with the compliment, and she turned back to thank this sweet, wonderful daughter just as she continued, “Nobody looks at her.”

I’m sure there have been times when your choice of clothing or the way you got yourself ready in the morning was determined by whether anybody would see you or not. If you’re just going to be around the house where no one can see you, you may dress one way. If you’re planning to be out in public, you’ll likely dress another way.

Sometimes, though, we make the mistake of determining our actions in the same way. If we think someone is watching, we’re careful to do what’s right. But if we think no one is paying attention, we tend not to be quite as careful. We think, “Nobody’s looking at me anyway!”

The truth is, though, you constantly being watched (and not just by God!). If you have children, you can be sure they see and hear everything you say and do! When you’re in line at the grocery store, others are watching. When you work in your office, others are watching. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, others are watching. When you go to the Post Office, others are watching.

That shouldn’t make us nervous or bothered. Rather, it reminds us that everywhere we go, we have an opportunity to live in a way that honors and glorifies God! Always be conscious of that opportunity.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16Matthew 5:16
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16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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Somebody’s watching!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

WHAT TO DO WHEN BITTEN BY A VENOMOUS SNAKE

As one who could not be more creeped out by snakes, I was thrilled for my sons to tell me what was the deadliest snake in the world. The Inland Taipan, native to Australia, is the most venomous land snake on earth, and it has the most toxic venom known to exist. Yet, it is a shy snake, not known to be aggressive toward humans. Far more people die from cobras, rattlesnakes, and mambas (!) than reclusive, though deadly, snakes like the Taipan, the boomslang, and the tiger snake.

Mike O’Shea, author of Venemous Snakes of the World, was interviewed by Princeton University Press, and in the course of the conversation he mentioned many of the fables and myths about treating poisonous snake bites that actually do more harm than good. He listed tourniquets, razor-cuts, venom extractors, and herbal, magical, or traditional treatments, and all of us have heard of some or all of these suggested “cures,” as wrong ways to treat such a bite. Then he said what was most effective: keep the bite area and the victim still, keep the victim awake and as reassured as possible, keep pressure on neurotoxic bites, keep the airways clear, and perform CPR as needed. Obviously, in all cases, the biggest, best thing to do is get the victim medical help and get a description of the offender if unable to kill and bring it with you and the victim to the hospital.

The Bible calls the devil “the serpent of old” (Rev. 12:9; 20:2Rev. 12:9; 20:2
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9 And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

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). It also draws some correlation between the serpent and the devil in 2 Corinthians 11:3, 13-142 Corinthians 11:3, 13-14
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3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.

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(deceiving and craftiness). Most feel certain that the devil was involved in the Eden events in which a serpent beguiled Eve. Likening the work and effects of the devil to that of a deadly snake is not a stretch.

If a species of snake enjoyed in physical terms the success the devil enjoys in spiritual terms, every health and emergency services agency in every nation around the world would rise up today and make its eradication their top priority. They would not rest until this creature was fought and defeated. To say they would be diligent would be to grossly understate the matter.

Yet, the devil is inserting his toxic poison into the hearts of willing victims every second of time. If only the worst he could do was kill the body. He is ruining souls (cf. 2 Tim. 2:25-262 Tim. 2:25-26
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25 in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.

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), which impacts eternity.

We should avoid places where he is likely to be (1 The. 5:22he. 5:22
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). We should take precautions (1 Pet. 5:81 Pet. 5:8
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8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,

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11 that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

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). We should fight him (1 Pet. 5:91 Pet. 5:9
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9 whom withstand stedfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world.

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; Js. 4:8Js. 4:8
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; Eph. 6:11Eph. 6:11
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11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

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If we are “bitten” by him, we need to seek help, being reassured that Christ has the power to heal us if we properly treat the “wound.” As scary as the devil can seem, God is more powerful. We have the help of others at our disposal, but more importantly we have God’s help and His cure is 100% successful if applied.

–Neal Pollard

God is still faithful

WHEN THE X-RAY comes back and it doesn’t look good, remember…God is still faithful…

When you read that heart-breaking note from your mate, remember…God is still faithful.

When you hear the worst kind of news about one of your children, remember…God is still faithful.

He has not abandoned you, though you’re tempted to think He has. Charles Swindoll

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:91 Corinthians 1:9
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9 God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Mike Benson

Been insulted lately?

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult” (Proverbs 12:16Proverbs 12:16
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16 A fool's vexation is presently known; But a prudent man concealeth shame.

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A couple of years ago, I had the experience of driving on a New Jersey turnpike. Let’s just say that those folks need a few of those “Drive Friendly” signs you see in Texas.

Because I was unsure of the exit I needed (It couldn’t have been my poor driving, right?), I inconvenienced several good New Jersey drivers (or were they New Yorkers on their way back home?).

The point of which is to say that I received a number of exhortations and encouragements from my fellow highway users. Some rolled their windows down to make polite inquiries about my ancestry; others used, well, some form of sign language.

Life is tough, and being insulted is probably inevitable. Being a church leader seems to place an automatic target on the back of one’s shirt. We’re fair game for disgruntled members, the immature, atheists and pagans alike!

The question is, have you been a “fool” by the Proverbs’ definition? Some people’s temperament is tinder dry, ready to ignite indignantly at everything that happens. Like an anti-personnel mine, they are ready to blow up at the mere touch of a toe on the trigger.

Don’t assume that everything you hear is an insult, and even if it is, ask yourself if showing your annoyance is prudent. Solomon says that the “wise” person “overlooks an insult.”

Sometimes the best advice when insulted is to simply walk away.

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

GOD KNOWS WHAT IS BEST

The story is told about a king who had a close friend. This friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) by remarking, “This is good, God knows what is best.”

One day, the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king, but he had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, because after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, “This is good, God knows what is best.” To which the king replied, “No, this is NOT good!” and ordered his soldiers to put his friend into jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured the king and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to it. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So after untying the king, they chased him out of the village.

When the king reached his palace, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. “You were right” the king said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied, “This is good, God knows what is best.”

“What do you mean, ‘this is good’! How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”

The king’s friend replied, “Remember that God Almighty knows best and if I had NOT been in jail, I would have been with you on that hunting trip.”

The story isn’t true, but the message is. How we need a faith that truly believes that we have a God who is in control. A faith that can say, as Joseph did, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20Genesis 50:20
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20 And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

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A faith that we can say, as Paul did, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28Romans 8:28
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28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

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A faith that we can say, as James did, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (James 1:2James 1:2
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2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations;

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It is so easy to look back over our lives and see how God has been there every step of the way, how He has taken care of us and provided for us. But how difficult it is to see God at work in the midst of our pain and suffering. God, increase our faith! Help us to see you in all that we experience and to truly believe that “God knows what is best!”

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Why play football?

I PLAYED FOOTBALL in college…

I wasn’t very big–only 150 pounds–and I wasn’t very good. I got hurt a lot. I broke my arm once, my neck once, and my nose six times.

When I tell people about it, they always ask me, “Why did you keep doing it?”

For the longest time I had no answer.

Then one day it hit me. If there hadn’t been any fans in the stands cheering me on–my family and friends–I wouldn’t have kept playing and trying so hard. But there were, so I did. Tom Malone, former President and COO of Milliken and Company

“But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” Exodus 17:12Exodus 17:12
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12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

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Mike Benson

Discovering the Treasure of Marriage

LET’S CONSIDER THAT prized trophy or treasured car…

Would you consider leaving it outside in the open, exposed to the elements of nature, animals, dirty-fingered kids, and inconsiderate neighbors? Probably not. More likely you would shield it from these elements. You might make sure it has a special place in the garage or on an out-of-reach shelf. You would likely cover it with glass and polish it often, or park at the far end of the parking lot to avoid dings in your doors. You would do your best to protect your treasure.

Do you best to shield and protect your spouse from things that may be harmful to him or her. This may mean providing adequate housing and a safe car to drive. It may mean standing up against those who may be cutting your spouse down (even if they are your family). It may mean walking together in a dark parking lot or hold him or her close during a storm. Maybe it means protecting your spouse from negative aspects of yourself (i.e., mean words, irresponsible behaviors) by working hard to overcome those behaviors. As you focus on treating your spouse like the priceless gift that he or she is, many of those negative aspects of yourself will disappear. Yes, you can control these. You probably already do when you are at work, church, or a new acquaintance’s house. But it seems the more comfortable we feel with someone, the more we let down these controls. Don’t let comfort do away with appropriate control. All of these positive behaviors are protective in nature and will help your spouse feel treasured by you. (Debbie L. Cherry, Discovering the Treasure of Marriage, 72-73).

“Love always protects…” 1 Corinthians 13:71 Corinthians 13:7
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7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

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Mike Benson

Religious division

FIVE FARMERS BOUGHT a big sack of seed and agreed to plant their respective fields with the seed that came from that one bag…

The seed was supposed to have been pure and unmixed.

After some weeks had passed, the farmers met together over breakfast and reported their yield.

The first man was said, “Fellas, the seed that I took from that bag produced some of the finest sweet corn I have ever seen.”

Somewhat chagrined, the second farmer said, “That’s odd, because the seed I took out of that bag produced yellow squash.”

The, the third spoke, “This is weird. The seed I took from the bag yielded yellow bell peppers.”

The fourth farmer chimed in, “My seed yielded yellow onions.”

Finally, the fifth man reported, “The seed that I took from that bag produced little, yellow tomatoes.”

THOUGHT: We have the same predicament in the religious world today. Different men claim to be reading from the same word of God. They plant “seed” into the fertile heart-soil of men, but it is obvious that DIFFERENT seed is being sown, because DIFFERENT crops (e.g., Christians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, etc.) are springing up! Seed produces after its own kind (Genesis 1:11-12Genesis 1:11-12
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11 And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good.

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; cf., Galatians 6:7Galatians 6:7
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7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

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Roy Lanier once observed, “The seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11Luke 8:11
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11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

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) will produce the kingdom; it will not produce anything different from the kingdom… It has never been known to produce anything other than the kingdom of God, the church of the Lord. The Word of God preached in this community always produced exactly what it produced in another community when preached there. But we have several hundred different religious denominations in the world today, different from each other in name, doctrine, and practice.

Why are all of these different bodies in existence? They have been produced by the sowing of seed, the preaching of religious doctrines. Just as sure as there are bodies differing from each other, seeds differing from each other have been sown. If the same kind of seed had been sown in every community, the same results would have been produced… So the gospel preached in Jerusalem which produced the kingdom of God, the church of Christ, will not when preached in America produce a hundred different denominations. The fact that the many denominations are in existence is positive proof that something different from the Gospel, the Word of God, has been preached.” Mike Benson

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:101 Corinthians 1:10
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10 Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

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; cf. 3:1-4