Archives for : November2013

IF YOU EAT pumpkin pie …

“What’s It Really Made Of?”

Today millions of folks across the United States of America will sit down to enjoy a nice slice of pumpkin pie (with a generous dollop of whipped cream, of course!). What could be more “Thanksgiving” than that, except perhaps the turkey and dressing?

But is that really pumpkin in the pie you’re about to enjoy? If the pie was made with canned pumpkin (which we suspect the vast majority of pies utilize), you’re not actually eating pumpkin. You’re eating squash.

I just came across this bit of information, so (being the skeptical person I am) I had to check it out. It turns out that multiple web sites confirm this little-known detail. The vegetable that has been cooked, pureed and canned is actually some form of winter squash. Pumpkin just doesn’t have the same naturally sweet flavor.

Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbita family, I’ve learned, a family which also includes – you guessed it – squashes and gourds. As one web site put it, “The difference between pumpkins, gourds and squash is that a gourd is generally something you look at, you cook squash and you carve a pumpkin.” (http://voices.yahoo.com/the-difference-between-pumpkins-gourds-squash-6691116.html)

I don’t think I’ve spoiled anyone’s appetite for pumpkin pie by relating these facts. But it does remind us that things are not always as they seem. Sometimes we do well to examine what we have long accepted.

The apostle Paul wrote long ago to urge Christians to examine themselves. We may think we are pleasing God in what we are doing, but maybe He’s not pleased at all. Who would know that better than the former Saul of Tarsus (see 1 Timothy 1:12-16)?!

One thing Christians in earliest times practiced each week (and some of us still do) was to partake of the Lord’s supper. What’s the point? “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28). A prime reason to engage in this act is to reflect on the genuineness of our discipleship.

In another letter Paul wrote this: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). “Disqualified” as a follower of Jesus? Now there’s a sobering thought!

If God has told me to use pumpkin in making my pies, I shouldn’t substitute squash. Of course, God has said nothing about making pies. But He has given us lots of other details to follow as we live for Him. It’s time to ask, “What’s my faith really made of?”

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

Timothy D. Hall

Let’s be thankful

An attitude of gratitude
Gives anyone the latitude
To exapress with joy
Each girl or boy
Or adult, too, with fortitude
That “I am blessed”
And if it’s confessed
We all are given
From God in heaven
What’s right and best.
But everywhere
From here to there
Folks forget to say
Or thank Him and pray
“Thanks for Your care!”

–Neal Pollard

 

Let us loose the grip of this world

Why being thankful may be impossible

 The bane of the Western world is materialism. We’ve been known for waste and greed in the United States for a very long time. Yet, we’ve been humbled by recent developments. Has it helped?

We spend a lot of money for Thanksgiving and then we go into debt on Black Friday. We thank God for what we have on Thursday and then bow to possessions on Friday.

The American economy has been a disaster over the past decade. /1

* The national debt is more than $17 Trillion. * Personal debt is more than $16 Trillion. * Almost 48 million people are on food stamps. * More than 91 million people are out of the work force

More than 21 million people are unemployed.

Despite these staggering numbers, stores are filled with consumers spending money that they don’t have for the latest toys and gadgets. Nothing can stop the swipe of credit cards.

We cannot imagine how revolted God is at the materialism of the United States of America. So many souls could be reached with the money we spend on frivolities.

* Are we more appreciative of what we have in these lean years? * Have our attitudes changed about possessions and money? * Are we more thankful for what we have? * Have we cut our giving to God so we can keep spending?

God has always seen money as a tool to live our lives and to serve God.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, NKJV).

God wants us to use everything we have–money included- -to bring glory to his Son (Ephesians 3:20-21). If we’ll live for him, God will “open for [us] the windows of heaven and pour out such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God should be our wealth and glory, not money and things. We cannot truly be thankful until we break our addiction to possessions.

God doesn’t have Spenders Anonymous meetings. Instead, he has repentance (Luke 13:3-5) and transformation (Romans 12:1-2). Will we step up and admit we are too materialistic or will we continue to rationalize it away and keep spending?

Let us loose the grip of this world, humble ourselves before God and be thankful to our core.

________ 1/ http://www.usdebtclock.org/

 

Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

 

Is your robe white?

Our world often pays a great deal of attention to a person’s race.  What really matters is the color of a person’s “robe” (Rev. 7:13-14).

Brad Price
http://www.lordletmegrow.com/

Ex-Gay Awareness Month

Most of us have heard of Gay Awareness Month (October), but how about Ex-Gay Awareness Month?  This past September marked the first annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month.  The emphasis of this movement is simply to show that some, who use to be gay, have changed.  It’s not surprising we didn’t hear about this since our society, especially the media, places such a huge emphasis on the acceptance of homosexuality.

As you might imagine, this movement has already received a lot of criticism and backlash.  However, I’m very glad Ex-Gay Awareness Month has started because it points to an extremely important and fundamental truth about homosexuality; it is a choice.

Some might object, “But homosexuals can’t control the feelings they have.  They didn’t ask for them.”  People have inappropriate feelings towards the same gender, but some have inappropriate feelings towards the opposite gender.  Some have sinful desires to get drunk, do drugs, smoke, steal, or gossip.  Some people have desires to murder and abuse their wives or children.  Everyone struggles with something.  No one asks to have these desires.  We all have desires we don’t want and never asked for.  However, the fact that we have sinful desires does not make it right to act on them.

Supporters of homosexuality often argue that those who are gay were “born that way” and “cannot change the way they are.”  Logically, would God create homosexuals and then condemn them for something they cannot change?  Considers what God says:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Whether it is homosexuality or some other sin, it can be controlled and changed.  Since this is the case, people are not born gay and most definitely can change their ways.  In this same book just a few chapters away, God also says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

While we all deal with sinful desires, but God is never going to allow us to face something we cannot walk away from.  Let’s make no mistake, homosexuality is a choice, as is all sin.  The fact that there is an Ex-Gay Awareness Month, and examples of people who have walked away from homosexuality, further points to this biblical truth.  — Neal Pollard

The vocabulary of the Spirit

THE SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN learns the vocabulary of the Spirit and makes use of it…

He knows the meaning of justification, sanctification, adoption, propitiation, election, inspiration, and so forth.  In understanding God’s vocabulary, we come to understand God’s word and will for our lives.  If the engineering student can grasp the technical terms of chemistry, physics, or electronics, why should it different for Christians, taught by the Spirit, to grasp the vocabulary of Christian truth?  Warren Wiersbe

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”  1 Corinthians 2:12-13

Mike Benson

The spirit of God or the spirit of greed –

Which of these spirits is most attractive to us?

Matt 6:24:  No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Brad Price, www.lordletmegrow.com

–Thought taken from Strange Fire by John MacArthur

Turning sinners from the error of their ways

DURING THE ATTACK on Pearl Harbor, nurses ran out of marker and so they used their own lipstick write to write on the foreheads of wounded patients…

“M” meant a sailor had received morphine.

“C” meant he was in critical condition.

“F” meant he was fatally wounded.

THOUGHT:  Imagine nearly all of the people you meet in your daily walk has a letter “F” on their forehead.  They are fatally wounded by sin (Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23 and its effects.  Will you simply stand by and watch them perish, or will you offer them the ONLY life-giving, soul-saving, cure (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)?

“Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  James 5:20; cf. Jude 23

Mike Benson

We are sinners

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”

These are the opening words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  November 19, 2013, will mark the 150th anniversary of this famous speech.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  On this same site four and a half months earlier, the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Abraham Lincoln’s carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day and only a little over two minutes in duration, came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history.

But it hasn’t always been regarded as highly…

This week a Pennsylvania newspaper confessed that it should have recognized the greatness of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at the time it was delivered.  The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, about 35 miles northeast of Gettysburg, retracted a dismissive editorial penned by its Civil War-era predecessor, The Harrisburg Patriot & Union.  The retraction said the newspaper’s November 1863 coverage was wrong when it described the speech as “silly remarks” that deserved a “veil of oblivion.”  The paper now says it regrets the error of not seeing its “momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting significance.” *

There is a “document” that should be recognized for its momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and ETERNAL significance.  That document is the BIBLE, God’s Word.  What makes the Bible so valuable is the content of its message:  The very words of God.  It is a priceless treasure!

Consider the words of an unknown author as he gave tribute to the Word of God:

Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.
Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions immutable.
READ it to be wise, BELIEVE it to be safe, and PRACTICE it to be holy!

The Word of God reveals the state of man: we are sinners, and unless our situation is remedied, we are doomed to destruction (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Mat 7:13-14)

The Word of God reveals the Way of salvation: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Jesus is the Way of salvation (John 14:6), for He paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross on our behalf (Eph 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

To access the Way of Salvation… the Word of God teaches us that we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  Then, as we walk in the light as He is in the light, then the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John1:7)

Never underestimate the value of God’s Word!  It is of ETERNAL significance!

Won’t YOU “read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy” by trusting and obeying Christ today?

David Sargent

We’re not home yet

GOD’S PLAN OF salvation has completely leveled the playing field…

In almost every area of life people have some kind of advantage.  In the system called Christianity, all so-called advantages disappear.  This is conclusive proof that God views the prominent people of society in the same way as factory workers and housewives.  Men may put more value on the converted souls of the rich, powerful, well-educated and “well-connected,” but God does not.

An elderly couple had worked in Africa for many years.  They were returning to the United States on an ocean liner.  On this same ship was President Teddy Roosevelt (he was returning from a big game hunting expedition).  The missionary couple watched the fanfare given the President and his entourage.  When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet him.  The Mayor was there to welcome him.  Several newspapers had sent reporters to cover his return.

During the commotion the missionary couple slipped quietly off the ship and found a cheap apartment.  They had no pension, were in poor health, and felt discouraged.  The husband was especially disturbed.  He could not understand how God would allow the President to be treated so well while the years of service he and his wife had offered seemed to be unnoticed and unappreciated.  He claimed that God was being unfair to them.  He bitterly complained to his wife.  She finally turned to him and said, “We’re not home yet.”  Brad Price

“And the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption–that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.'”  1 Cor. 1:28-30

Mike Benson

 

NO RECOLLECTION

I heard this story about the owner of a Rolls Royce.  It certainly sounds as if could be true:

The great British automaker takes great pride in the reliability of their handcrafted automobiles.   An obviously wealthy owner of a Rolls took it to Europe on an extended trip.  While traveling in France the car had some mechanical problem.  He called the Rolls Royce factory and asked that they send out a mechanic straightaway to fix the problem.

The company responded in royal fashion.  They put a mechanic on a private jet with all of the necessary tools and flew him over to France to make the repairs.  The owner was so wealthy that he wasn’t at all concerned about the cost, and he would not spare any expense to assure that his beloved Rolls Royce was properly repaired.

However, after several months he realized he had not received a bill.  He directed his secretary to contact the Rolls Royce factory to inquire about the bill.  He received a prompt reply from the Rolls Royce company.  With typical British aplomb, it said simply, “We have no recollection or record of any Rolls Royce having ever had a breakdown or being in need of repair anywhere in France.”

That reminds me of how God treats us when he forgives us of sin.  Sometimes we have a harder time forgiving ourselves than does God.  We sometimes feel weighed down with the burden of guilt long after God has removed the burden of sin.  We need to follow God’s instructions to find forgiveness, then trust that God has kept his promise to forgive.  Like Rolls Royce, God says, “I have no recollection or record of any sin being committed.”  Take comfort from these words:

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psa. 103:12)

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8:12)

Praise be to the God who “forgets” when He forgives!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

MURDER OR SUICIDE?

Today’s story (which is a bit longer than usual)  can only be labeled as “bizarre”.  This is an edited version of a speech that was given in 1994 at an awards dinner for the American Association for Forensic Science.  While some sources refer to this as a “true story” by AAFS President Don Mills, other sources are I believe more accurate when they describe this as a “tall tale on complex forensics”.

On March 23, 1994, a medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound of the head.  Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide (he left a note indicating his despondency).  He was unaware that a safety net had been set up at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and his attempt to kill himself would not succeed.  As he fell past the ninth floor, however, he was hit by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly.

Suicide or homicide?  If Opus was going to die anyway, it would still be categorized as suicide. But the fact that his suicide attempt would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to believe it was homicide.  The room on the ninth floor out of which the shotgun blast came was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he threatened her with the shotgun. He was so upset that, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window striking Opus.

When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, he is guilty of the murder of subject B. When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it was his long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her – therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness, though, who saw the old couple’s son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal incident.  It seems that the mother cut off her son’s financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. The case now became one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

However, further investigation revealed that the son had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother’s murder. This led the son, Ronald Opus, to jump off a ten-story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through the ninth story window.

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

So often we find that attempts to hurt others only hurt us in the end.  For example, if we refuse to forgive someone, thinking “I’ll show them!”, we end up suffering the consequences of bitterness in our own lives.

But the opposite is also true.  Attempts to do good to others come back to benefit us in the end.  Jesus said that how we treat others will determine how we ourselves are treated, often by men, and most certainly by God.

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged.  Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  (Luke 6:37-38)

May you do much good to others today, and may much good find its way back to you in return.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea

Just yesterday I returned home from my first trip to Israel. Wow, it was a trip that I will never forget. It certainly helped to put countless biblical events into perspective. One of the interesting things I noticed while in Israel is that there are two seas. You know them, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is alive. It is still fished by local people, and its banks are alive with lush vegetation. In stark contrast to the Sea of Galilee is the Dead Sea. It is appropriately named, because nothing lives in its waters, and the land that surrounds it is barren and desolate.

How can two seas, which are so close together, be so different? Both seas are fed by the same water supply, the Jordan river. So what accounts for one being alive and the other dead? The answer is this simple. The Sea of Galilee not only receives fresh water from the Jordan, but it gives that same fresh water on to the Dead Sea. However, while the Dead Sea receives the fresh waters from the Jordan, it has not outlet, it doesn’t give, it hoards all that it receives, and is thus dead.

Come to think of it, there are two kinds of people in this world. Which are you?

Steve Higginbotham

http://crossward.org/bullsandgoats

Visit http://crossward.org/bullsandgoats and then reflect on the power of Jesus’ blood and how great it is to live under the New Testament.
Brad Price
www.lordletmegrow.com – a free Bible study web site

The Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh

The Omni William Penn Hotel is one of Pittsburgh’s swankiest hotels.  Imagine the surprise when some hotel guests checked into the Presidential Suite and found a homeless man sleeping on the couch!

When hotel security officers arrived on the scene, they woke him up, took him to their office, and called the police.  Jeffrey Lennon Watson, 48, told police he was from Los Angeles and was passing through the city to return to California.  He informed them that he had been in Pittsburgh for over a month and “sleeps wherever he can locate somewhere comfortable to rest his head.”

According to the Associated Press, there aren’t too many places more comfortable than Watson’s chosen location. The 16th-floor suite features a 1,300-square-foot parlor plus three bedrooms, and includes crystal chandeliers, a dining room, grand piano, a full kitchenette, and sitting room, according to the hotel’s website. The site doesn’t state how much the room costs.

So how did he get in there?  Police don’t know how long Watson had been in the suite or how he got in.  Hotel general manager Eric DeStefano offered the following explanation:

The parlor area of the Presidential suite is “a general-use area for receptions and small events. The door had been programmed to remain unlocked for an event earlier that day. As soon as the occupant was discovered, he was escorted off the property,” DeStefano said.

Police took Watson to the Allegheny County Jail, where he remained Wednesday unable to post $15,000 bond. He faces a preliminary hearing Nov. 19 on charges of criminal trespass and theft of services, according to online court records. *

God has promised that those who follow Him will live forever with Him in heaven (see 1 Peter 1:3-5).  Contemplating the splendor of heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9) and the pristine holiness of God, one may feel as “out of place” as a homeless man in a ritzy hotel!

Imagine one angel saying to another concerning you or me: “How’d HE get in here?”

And the answer is: Jesus!

Although our SIN separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and can keep us out of heaven and destined for the second death (cf. Revelation 21:8), God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we can be saved and live eternally with Him in heaven (Hebrews 10:19-20)!

Jesus will save and give eternal life to those who accept His offer on His terms: place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continually cleanse the sins of those who continue to walk in the light of His word (1 John 1:7).

And one day when, by the grace of God, we are in heaven and we’re asked, “How’d YOU get in here?”  We can answer with loving adoration and endless praise: “Jesus!”

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

Won’t YOU accept Jesus’ offer on His terms?

* Information gleaned from Joe Mandak of the Associated Press

David A. Sargent

Mephibosheth

In our Sunday morning Bible class last week we studied the life of Mephibosheth. This lesser known man of the Bible was the grandson of King Saul. He lived a difficult life. Because of Saul’s failures his family was forced to leave the kingdom.

As a small child, Mephibosheth, due to the a terrible fall, became crippled in both feet. He was taken to the land of Lo-debar. The name means a place without pasture, a place of desolation. Mephibosheth was destined to live the rest of his life away from his home in a desolate place.

King David, because of his friendship and covenant with Jonathan, son of Saul, sought out Mephibosheth.

When he was found, David ordered that he be brought to him. David told Mephibosheth that he would restore to him all the land that had belonged to his grandfather, and that there would be a permanent place reserved for him at the King’s table (2 Samuel 9:7).

Every child of God has a kinship with Mephibosheth. Like him, because of the fall, we are all crippled. Like him, because of sin we are alienated from the King and his kingdom (Ephesians 2:12).

Like Mephibosheth we are brought back to the kingdom, not because of some great thing we have done, but because of God’s love (Ephesians 2:13).

We have a perpetual invitation to come to the throne room of the King (Hebrews 4:14-16). Like him, we have a permanent seat at the King’s table (Mark 14:25).

As we gather around the table of the King this week, let us be mindful of Mephibosheth. Let us remember where we came from and how we arrived at this moment in our lives.

Let us remember that we are all crippled people who have been made whole. Let us remember that it is because of God’s love that we are able to gather. Let us be thankful for God’s amazing grace that offers us a seat at the King’s table.

Jeff A. Jenkins @ www.forthright.net

Jesus, the perfect Lamb

FOR A MOMENT, stretch your imagination…

The manger was near Bethlehem’s sheep pastures, and the shepherds were summoned by heaven.  They were Jews, caring for sheep.  At the same time the priests had their eye on breeding a particular quality of lambs, those without spot or blemish.

Now fast forward thirty-three years.  When Jesus is making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the shepherds are bringing in the sheep, and particular attention is paid to the candidates for the Passover sacrifices.  As Jesus is being tried by Pilate, the priests are carefully examining those sheep.  As they are satisfied they are saying, “I see no blemish in this one…”  Perhaps about that time Pilate is saying, “I find no fault in Him.”  As the blade is put to the throats of the lambs, the nails are driven into the hands of Jesus.  He was, after all, the perfect Lamb of God.  Glenn Colley

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  1 Peter 1:18-19

Mike Benson