Archives for : April2015

How a nation eventually falls

In Carl Wilson’s book “Our Dance Has Turned to Death” he identified the common pattern of family decline in ancient Greece and Roman empires. Notice how it parallels what is happening in our nation today:

In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical. In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual. The third stage involved a change in men’s sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed. The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize having sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy. In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce. Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy. In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies. Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government.

Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.

–Michael Hatcher

Often, people (especially young people) do not consider their physical location to be something that will lead them to sin

“Passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness” (Proverbs 7:8-9). The naive youth lacking in sense of Proverbs 7:6-7 is already ignoring the voice of wisdom (cf. Proverbs 5:8). Impure thoughts and motives are probably already in the mind of this young man. He is passing through the street near her corner. There are other ways he could have gone. He did not have to come down this road, he wanted to. He may be thinking to himself just a glimpse of her won’t hurt. I can go through here and resist temptation. This rationality is often used by people who really want to succumb to temptation, they just aren’t willing to admit it (even to themselves). He is passing through at a dangerous time. It is dark. He is away from the public eye (he thinks anyways). He knows enough to know what he is doing is wrong and does not want to be observed even passing through this area. This is a time when he is away from the safeguards of public disapproval and wholesome fellowship. He is in the wrong place at the wrong time. We need to be careful about what we are looking at when we are by ourselves and where we are going. Often, people (especially young people) do not consider their physical location to be something that will lead them to sin. Wisdom says otherwise. We should not flirt with temptation by putting ourselves in compromising situations.

–by Jeremy Sprouse

Bible study on the cross of Christ

The cross was supposed to be the bringer of sadness,
But Christ used it to bring eternal joy (1 Peter 1:8-9).

The cross was supposed to be the displayer of shame,
Yet it only showcased Christ’s glory (John 12:23ff).

The cross was supposed to be the place of dishonor,
But it instead brought Christ the ultimate respect He deserves (Hebrews 12:2).

The cross was supposed to be the deliverer of a dose of humility, But through it Christ was exalted to the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

The cross was supposed to be for pain and suffering,
But Christ used it to bring Christians an eternity without pain (Revelation 21:4).

The cross was supposed to be a symbol of fear,
Christ turned it into the symbol of the greatest event that has ever occurred (Matthew 27-28).

The cross was supposed to be the revealer of weakness, But it merely showed that Christ held back His superior power and authority (Matthew 28:18-20).

The cross was supposed to be one of the ultimate punishments, But through it Christ has given us access to the ultimate reward (Revelation 21).

The cross was supposed to be reserved for the guilty,
Yet the Innocent One died on it so that we who are truly guilty can be forgiven (Romans 6:23).

The cross was supposed to be an instrument of death,
But through it Christ became the instrument of eternal life (Acts 2:38).

Brett Petrillo

I am weary of going to services

Time To Go To Church!

“Time to go to church!”  Those five words probably resonate with most of us.  It may be that we’ve heard those words spoken by our parents many times on a Sunday morning, or by our spouses as we try to gather up our children and get everyone to the car.

According to the prophet Malachi, “going to church” had become a “weariness” to the children of God in his day and time (Malachi 1:13).  However that was not so with everyone.  David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord'” (Psalm 122:1).

In 1982, I spent the Summer working as a “preaching intern” for a congregation in Michigan.  One of my duties while there was to go to an elderly man’s house and literally dress him so he could go to church.  He suffered from severe arthritis.  I had to put his shirt and pants on for him, button all the buttons, tighten his belt, and tie his shoes for him. To say the least, I was out of my comfort zone.  And I remember thinking at the time, “If anyone had a reason to stay home, it would have been this man.  God would certainly understand.”  But this man would have none of it!  He wasn’t about to stay home.  He wanted to “go to church,” and paid a painful price to do so.

It was while helping this man get ready for church that Summer that I learned an important truth.  “Church attendance has very little to do with the distance one lives from the building or the inconveniences and difficulties we encounter.  Rather church attendance is more often than not, determined by the distance between one’s heart and God.”  Excuses abound where determination is lacking.

“Time to go to church!”  When you hear those words, are you wearied, or thankful?  Give it some thought.

–Steve Higginbotham

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THE LONESOME LOSER?

He feels displeasure. An event usually triggers this. He reacts to the behavior or problems of another through negative emotion. An element of disbelief or disappointment may be the catalyst for his displeasure.

He feels disfavored. He may feel that God is against him, since he is going through the crisis. He will repeatedly ask, “Why?!”

He feels resentful. In these “lowlight” moments, he can resent the people who rely on his leadership. He may even feel like a surrogate, though stressed-out, parent. He may wonder why God put him into this caregiver role.

He feels helpless. He may feel unequal to the challenge before him. He may not know where to turn or how to resolve whatever the matter or issue is.

He feels overwhelmed. This is where the lonesomeness can feel greatest. He feels burdened down and incapable of carrying such a load. There may even be panic or at least severe dismay.
He feels depressed. He may even want “out of the job.” In severe cases, the depression can give him a distaste for life itself.

It is easy to see that problems leaders confront can seem like a snowball. Often, the reason the problem grows is because the leader is trying to do the work alone. The scenario painted above is not from my expertise or experience. It is an analysis of Moses’ problem in Numbers 11. the displeasure (11:10) and feelings of disfavor (11:11), resentment (11:12), helplessness (11:13), being overwhelmed (11:14) and depression (11:15) had brought this amazing leader to the brink. Moses apparently had a problem with letting go and getting others’ help (see Exodus 18). The answer to both leadership dilemmas was identical. “Let others help!” This time, instead of Jethro, God gave the answer to the “lonesome leader” syndrome. The solution came in the form of 70 men, helpers who would ease Moses’ burdens.

Many other Bible examples show the wisdom of delegation and letting others help shoulder the load. It was God’s idea, so we would expect it to work. It worked for Old Testament Israel. It will help those who lead in spiritual Israel today. Elders and other church leaders who “get” it show wisdom and insight while finding relief and peace of mind in serving God. You can break out of the “lonesome leader” syndrome!

–Neal Pollard

It’s raining fish and frogs

It’s Raining What?
 Most of us are familiar with the phrase, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” but what about “it’s raining fish and frogs”? Apparently there have been several occasions when fish and frogs have actually rained down from the sky (Weather Bug). Fish and frogs haven’t been the only odd things to fall out of the sky. Here are some others.

Money – Several years ago a 24-year-old woman was driving down the road when she noticed money raining down and swirling around. She collected a substantial amount and later turned it in to the police (Reuters).

Golf Balls – Back in 1969, dozens and dozens of actual golf balls, not golf ball sized hail, rained down in Punta Gorda, FL (Popular Mechanics).

Worms – Just a couple of years ago school children laughed and ran for cover when it began to rain worms during their PE class (STV News ).

Spiders – In 2007 a bunch of spiders rained down on some unsuspecting hikers in Argentina. I’m getting chills just thinking about it!

Sharks – Last year a shark fell from the sky and landed on the 12th tee of a golf course in Southern California (Yahoo Travel).

In Scripture, there are also several accounts of strange things falling from the sky. What fell from the sky often depended on the people’s spiritual state. For the wicked, God rained down things like severe hail and fire (Exodus 9:23-25), powder and dust (Deuteronomy 28:24) or fire and brimstone (Luke 17:29; Genesis 19:24). For the righteous people, God rained down manna and quail to provide for their needs (Exodus 16; Psalm 78:24, 27).

Today, the condition of our spiritual lives makes a huge difference as to what God will send our way. If we are sinful, He will “pour out” His wrath and condemnation against us (2 Chronicles 34:21, 24-25). For the godly, He has already “poured out” love and the precious saving blood of His Son for us (Romans 5:5; Matthew 26:28).

What God rains down on us largely hinges on the way we choose to live. Let’s make sure we live in such a way so God rains blessings upon us (Hosea 10:12; Ephesians 1:3-10).

Brett Petrillo

We must not legislate morality!”

When such questions as abortion and euthanasia come up, we are often told by well meaning acquaintances, “We can’t ban abortion! We must not legislate morality!”

Which raises a question: What happens when morality is no longer the basis for our laws? What takes its place?

My lifestyle? My happiness, and my happiness alone?
What if my comfort is detrimental, even deadly to other human souls?

Legislation is all about our belief system. Legislation is on the books (so I’m told) to ban murder. Now where did that moral principle come from? There is also legislation against theft, false testimony (perjury as we call it these days) and so on.

Originally our laws came from an important moral code, the Ten Commandments. As one wit put it, these aren’t the “Ten Suggestions”! God commanded! Here is a moral code that goes beyond my selfishness!

So what happens when an elderly person becomes so sick that he is supposedly no longer a productive member of society? What happens when an unborn child becomes “like a total drag” on my lifestyle? What happens when life is cheapened in this way?

When laws are no longer based on morals…they become based on power! A parent is more powerful than the unborn. Surely no society should be run this way!

Some people worry that a political candidate’s religion will affect his politics; I worry that a political candidate’s lack of religion will affect his politics.

An ancient Jewish Rabbi reminds us that there is another reality:

“You are not your own,” he tells us, “you were bought at a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20, ESV).

There is a higher consideration than my stubborn will! That consideration is God’s sovereign will!

by Stan Mitchell

God’s eyes, finger, hand, heart and feet

GOD’S FEET

When the Bible speaks of God in anatomical terms, His eyes, His finger, His hand, His heart, and His feet, it does so accommodatively. We possess those body parts, and we know how they function. So, to speak of God having them helps us see certain characteristics He possesses. God is spirit (John 4:24). A spirit is not associated with flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). Yet, these are mentioned in Scripture to help paint a mental picture for us.
This is true when it speaks of God’s “feet.” Consider what the Bible says in this regard:

He treads our iniquities under them (Micah 7:19).
• He puts all things in subjection under them (Ephesians 1:22; Hebrews 2:8).
• He walks on the wind and the heaven (Job 22:14; Psalm 104:3).
• He treads on the high places of the earth (Amos 4:13).
• His steps are safe to follow (1 Peter 2:21).
• He walks with the righteous (Genesis 5:22; 6:9).
• He stands at the right hand of the needy (Psalm 109:31).
• He runs to meet the penitent (cf. Luke 15:20).
• He sets us in the way of His steps (Psalm 85:13).

Taken together, references like these point to God’s power, His purity, and His position. He can do whatever He pleases, but He will always do what is right. He will always stand for what is right and good. Therefore, we can and must follow in His footsteps. They lead us to the only place of safety!

–Neal Pollard

Would You Grow Up, Please?

For those who are “vertically challenged,” this is a comment frequently heard. But, sadly, there isn’t much that can be done about shortness.
In Proverbs 1:4 Solomon says that the intent of the proverbs is to give “prudence to the naïve.” The word translated “naïve,” is also translated as “simple.” The word typically refers to youth who are still raw, green and immature. These youthful (and frequently ill-thought-out) behaviors have elicited many a rolling of the eyes to weary parents. They sometimes ask: “Will he/she ever grow up?”

Sadly, some never do. They may grow up physically, but emotionally and spiritually remain in infancy. Yet the Proverbs are designed to help transition one from simplicity to maturity. But this doesn’t happen by accident. How does one “grow up”?

First, by recognizing the need to grow up. Teens have to understand that the free-spirited days of youth will not last forever. They cannot forever live off of mommy and daddy (Note: I’m hoping my kids are reading this!). Paul said that when he became a man he “put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11).

Second, by recognizing that education helps one grow up. One interesting (but not always appreciated) fact is that the Proverbs are designed for youth! Solomon goes on to say that this book is to give “to the youth knowledge and discretion” (1:4). We need to study this book a lot more than we do. Youth need to read this book. No, youth need to study this book.

Third, by recognizing the need to listen and apply the things learned. One might memorize the entire book of Proverbs and still need to grow up. Yet this book will teach one, show one, how to grow up.

Solomon asks the right question in 1:22: “How long, O naïve ones, will you love simplicity?” There comes a time to grow up. Please?

Denny Petrillo

I was a stranger, and ye took me NOT in

Being a local preacher, I do not get to “fill the role” of unknown guest at a congregation very often. Last night, I did. I attended what appeared to be an average congregation, with a mix of ages and of apparent middle-class status. The quality of the Bible class was very good, and there was considerable participation from the members. I was a couple of minutes late, and I chose a random seat. After the class and before a brief devotional, a middle-aged woman asked if I was visiting. She was pleasant, and the conversation went until the devotional began. After the last amen, the lady thanked me for coming. I reached out my hand to greet a couple of others, and a young man near the rear of the building greeted me, asking if I was a visitor. The man who taught the class, who appeared to be the local preacher, asked if I was a visitor. I said yes, and he told me to come again.

By personality, I am considered an extrovert. While the weariness of a long day of travel may have affected my outlook, I believe my assessment is not too inaccurate. Despite the refreshing friendliness of a couple of members, the vast majority of those present passed by me. They did not inquire about me, try to find out about me, and none tried to ascertain whether or not I was a member of the church. Had I been of a mind, I could have easily slipped in and out without notice.

This is not an indictment of a single congregation in one area of the county. In the last few years, the same thing has occurred in other states. My perspective is not one of hypersensitivity, as my feelings were not at all hurt. My concern is for legitimate “strangers” at our assemblies. In most congregations, especially in urban areas, “drop ins” from our community are common, if not weekly, occurrences. Each one has an eternal soul for which Jesus died and which should intensely matter to each of us. It concerns me that on the Great Day, before our Just Judge, our Lord will have taken note of our stewardship of these precious opportunities only to say, “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.” May it never be!

Neal Pollard

Bible study on godliness In 1 Timothy

• We are to be godly in relationship to the world (2:1-7)

• We are to be godly in relationship to our roles in the church, men and then women (2:8-15)

• We are to be godly in relationship to the church by leadership (3:1-13)

• We are to be godly in relationship to Christ (3:13-16)

• We are to be godly in relationship to doctrine (4:1-6)

• We are to be godly in relationship to priorities (4:7-16)

• We are to be godly in relationship to family matters (5:1-16)–specific here is widow care and her need to be godly

• We are to be godly in relationship to leaders by members (5:17-26)

• We are to be godly in relationship to financial matters (6:1-19)

• We are to be godly in relationship to self (6:20-21)

–Neal Pollard

Bad things happen when we are not paying attention

Pay Attention

A man was killed on the local freeway recently. Police report that he first got his car entangled in the cable barrier in the median. He managed to get out safely, but he then walked into oncoming traffic – all the while talking on his cell phone!

This article is not about how distracting and dangerous cell phones are to drivers. It is about allowing ourselves to be distracted on the journey through life. Bad things happen when we are not paying attention, among them…

Sin. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Satan is subtle. He tries to catch us off guard. If we are not careful, sin is the result, with all its ugly consequences. 1 Corinthians 10:12 sounds a warning to overconfident brethren who think they can toy with temptation and not be affected: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Lost Opportunities. “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). What if we are not looking for those opportunities? What if we are focused mostly on self? We will be goats in Jesus’ shepherd picture of judgment: “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” (Matt. 25:44). The goats went to eternal punishment (v. 46).

False Teaching. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert…” (Acts 20:29-31).

Our shepherds must be watchful, yet each of us is responsible to avoid the wolves. John wrote, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world… Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward” (2 John 7-8).

Lack of Readiness. “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42). May God help us all not to be distracted by the scenery or “fall asleep at the wheel” in His service.

– by Frank Himmel

When the Devil begins to pick on some Christians …

We’ll See You After School!

When I was in third grade, I had two boys threaten to beat me up after school one day. They were the Ciccarelli twins – tough guys (it still sends a cold chill down my spine even when I type their name!) I couldn’t understand it. Why did these boys want to beat up a charming, precious little third-grader (according to my mother)? It didn’t make sense to me; I barely knew them. But one thing I knew was that they were going to be waiting for me after school.

And sure enough, after school there they stood waiting. However, I had all day to think about their threat and I took action. I rounded up all my friends, and we all walked home from school together. In fact, we walked right past the Ciccarelli brothers, and they didn’t say a word.

Now, to the point of this story. Why is it that a third-grader may know how to deal with bullying and opposition better than grown Christians? What do I mean? Well, when the Devil begins to pick on some Christians, and make their lives difficult, what’s one of the first things that some Christians do? They stop attending church services. They withdraw from everyone. Instead of drawing on the strength of their brothers and sisters in Christ, they choose to face their enemy all alone.

As a third-grader, I knew that I was going to get “beat up” if I was found all by myself. So I surrounded myself with friends, and avoided the beating. Seems there’s a lesson in there for us.

By Steve Higginbotham

karma and the Bible

I don’t know what has been in the water the last year or two, but it seems like more and more people are beginning to believe in karma. What is karma? It is the belief that a deed we do will directly affect our future. In other words, if I do something bad, then bad things will happen to me, if I do something good, then good things will happen to me. For example, a person told the story about her friend who decided to help a blind man cross the street. Later that day the friend bought a lottery ticket and won a nice chunk of cash. The claim is that this lady brought “good karma” on herself by helping the blind man.

For whatever reason, people are buying into this mindset. There are thousands of testimonies online of people telling about karma in their lives. It’s even been seen in the sports world lately as well. The question is, does the Bible support the idea of karma?

There certainly are similarities to the karma mindset in Scripture. Here are just a few:
– “…Those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it” (Job 4:8).
– “…Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
– “…Treat people the same way you want them to treat you…” (Matthew 7:12).

Clearly Scripture has similar concepts to karma, but by no means does this show that Scripture supports karma. First of all, there are tons of passages about bad things happening to good people and vise-avers (Job 21:6-7; Psalm 73; Jeremiah 12:1-4; Habakkuk 1:13; etc). This is a direct contradiction of karma. Secondly, we can look at men like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and the Apostles and see the difficulties they had to endure even though they were righteous. Not to mention the most righteous and holy person, Jesus Christ, endured more suffering and pain than we can fathom. Third, karma is directly associated with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. These aren’t biblical teachings. People who support the idea of karma, knowingly or unknowingly, are supporting these religious philosophies. Fourth, karma is similar to our culture’s mindset. Our society is very accepting and tolerant. Karma goes along with our flawed culture’s mindset of, “if I’m a good person, I will go to heaven.” This isn’t what Scripture teaches (Matthew 7:21).

Karma is really just a “feel-good” philosophy that only works in a perfect, “cookie-cutter” type world. We do not live in such a world. This life is much more than “being a good person” or “doing good deeds,” as karma and our culture suggest. In some ways karma is just the newest excuse for people to live according to their own standards. While we should strive to be a good person and do good things, above everything else we must strive to be obedient to God and live by His standards (1 John 2:3-6).

Brett Petrillo

Toxic food will cause more than heartburn

We’ve all done this: Eat a really good meal at a restaurant, note that “this chicken may have a little garlic in it,” and feel the garlic pour out of our pores for the next twenty-four hours.

We are what we eat.

More serious effects come from long-time eating habits, too. A steady diet of Hostess Cupcake Twinkies apparently is not good for you. Nor is a regular diet of deep-fried everything. Balance is important, as are fresh fruit and vegetables.

Nutrition for the mind is also important:

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of
life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes on me shall never
thirst'” (John 6:35).

Bread is essential for life. We must have it to live.

Even in modern speech this language is used:

We devour a book. We drink in a television program (a good one, any way). We swallow a story hook-line-and sinker. We chew over a difficult saying. We can (or cannot) stomach what someone says We must eat our own words.

All of these statements indicate that what we dwell on —our mental nutrition– is important. What we read, what we hear, these things affect us, perhaps for an eternity. Beware of a diet of spiritual junk food.

Though some reading may be sweet to the taste, it might also be as insubstantial as Hostess Ding Dongs and insufficient to build good, healthy Christian character.

Conversations, too, can be either healthy, or not.
Negative people may be worse than junk food; they may be toxic.

So what do you read?
What kind of television programming do you watch?
What do you read on the internet?
Is it healthy?

Do you listen admiringly to a negative, critical person as if he is some spiritual guru with all the answers for the church (they frequently have criticisms; rarely helpful suggestions)? Is yours a spiritual diet of continual criticism of the church, its leaders, and its endeavors to serve God?

Beware. This toxic food will cause more than heartburn; it may affect your eternal life.

by Stan Mitchell

A fine of $1,500 and 120 days of house arrest

The Costliness of Shortcuts

William Ray writes the following:

You may have heard about the man who, in September of 2003, decided to ship himself from New York City to Dallas—in a wooden crate! He somehow packed himself in the crate. The crate journeyed by truck, plane, and delivery van—until it finally arrived at his parents’ house. Then he began to break out of the box. When the authorities caught up to him, he explained that he was homesick. He thought it would be cheaper to get home by crate, rather than buy a ticket like everybody else.

What did he get for his troubles? A fine of $1,500 and 120 days of house arrest. At the cost of the fine, he could have purchased four roundtrip tickets to see his parents. How much simpler, and cheaper, it would have been to do the right thing in the first place.

We’re always looking for shortcuts. We want a shortcut to financial success. We’ll cut corners on home improvements to save a dollar or two. Let’s face it, we’re in an eBay, Amazon, Craigslist world where it’s becoming increasingly less of an ordeal to save money and time to get/do what we want.

However, this just won’t work when it comes to our salvation. Instead, if we try to cut corners to get to heaven, then we’ll have an eternal house arrest to think about how it would have been much easier to just do what God said to do.

God’s way is not always simple, but it’s the only way! Are you following his way? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6).

–Neil Richey

What is wrong with the world?

When a London newspaper asked its readers to respond to the question, “What is wrong with the world,” the editor received a reply from philosopher G.K.
Chesterton. It read: “Dear sir, I am.”

Just because it is a cliche doesn’t make it any less true; a better world does begin with me. As does a better community, a better marriage, and a better church.

It is so much easier to complain and criticize than it is to build and strengthen. They don’t build monuments for critics. Critics don’t write great literature, or create art, or even good government. They simply jeer at the sincere, best efforts of those who build.

So what’s wrong with the world? Probably not G.K.
Chesterton, or at least it wasn’t entirely his fault.
Yet he realized that for the world to improve, for it to change, he must act himself to make it so.

We used to sing a song as children — “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.”

“Let your light shine before men that they
may see your good works and glorify your
father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

There’s a lot of darkness out there. Are you adding to the light, or dampening the fire of others? This much is true: there are two kinds of people in the world, or the church: The givers and the takers.

It’s OK to be a taker if you are a child. But even children grow to make their contribution.

So what’s wrong with the world? Any suggestions?

by Stan Mitchell

How quickly the time has gone!

THE FLEETING YEARS

I read two humorous stories lately with a similar theme:

A 5-five-year-old boy was discussing with his father some of the differences between their childhoods. The father pointed out that when he was young, he didn’t have things such as Nintendo, cellphones, computers or digital cameras.

He realized just how huge the generation gap was when his son asked him, “Did you have fruit?”

—————————————-

A 12-year-old girl asked her mother, “Mom, do you have a baby picture of yourself? I need it for a school project.” Her mother gave her one without thinking to ask what the project was.

A few days later she was in the classroom for a parent-teacher meeting when she noticed her face pinned to a mural the students had created. The title of their project was “The oldest thing in my house.”

—————————————–

I am always amazed at how young people view those who are older. I can remember when I was in my early 20’s (35 years ago!) thinking of a couple at church as being very old, almost ancient. That couple is in their 80’s today, which means that 35 years ago…….they were a lot younger than I am now! I can’t help but wonder, is that how young people view me? Do they think that I am very old, almost ancient? Needless to say, my perspective of what constitutes “really old” has changed through the years.

I’m also amazed at how our perspective on the passing of time changes as we get older. Looking ahead as a young man, it seemed as if being in my 50’s was an eternity away. Now, looking back, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in my 20’s. How quickly the time has gone! And every year seems to pass with even more speed.

Peter was so right when he said, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away…” (I Peter 1:24). Job put it this way: “We grow up like flowers and then dry up and die. We are like a passing shadow that does not last.” (Job 14:2, NCV).

The glories of this life are indeed fading and before we know it, they will be gone. Which would be depressing if it were not for the realization that those who are in Christ have an inheritance waiting for us “that does not fade away” (I Peter 1:4).

So, while you are on this earth, make good use of your time (as short as it may be). It will be gone before you know it. But make sure you live your life in a way that gives you something to look forward to when this life is over.

Have a great day! (especially you “really old” people in your 80’s!) 🙂

Alan Smith

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes the judgment

Are we prepared for the end of the world? If Jesus were to return today would we be ready? Where would we end up if we died today? Reader, would we spend an eternity in Abraham’s bosom or in torment (Luke 16:19-31)?

These questions should be on the minds of every person in this world. It is a reality that either we will face the returning Messiah or we will die and make the transition from this realm into the next.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to
die once and after this comes the judgment,”
(Hebrews 9:27).

The key is where we want to spend eternity. This is a personal choice that each and every person must make for themselves. There are only two choices: heaven or the abyss.

Are we prepared to live eternally with our choice?

Individuals who choose to spend eternity in the heavenly abode with our Lord must accept God’s grace.
It is the offer of salvation through the blood of Christ that was shed on the cross (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9).

God has prepared a way for the sinner to receive forgiveness of their sins and that is through the blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:13-14; Hebrews 9:22). It is imperative that we seek God’s way of salvation from his inspired word (Romans 10:17; Matthew 7:24-25).

This knowledge from God’s word should lead the individual to not only a belief in the Lord but in an active faith (Hebrews 11:6; John 20:30-31). From our faith there should come the desire to change our life (repentance) and to conform it to God’s will (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30).

This change should lead us to the declaration
(confession) that Jesus is the LORD of their lives (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9-10). From this we must come in contact with the saving blood of Jesus by being baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).

But it does not end there. We have the imperative that we live a faithful life to God (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 10:22; 1 Corinthians 15:58). It is there that we will spend an eternity in the heavenly abode (Revelation 22:14).

Those who chose to spend eternity with Satan and his minions in the abyss are those who reject God’s way of salvation.

The apostle Paul gives several listings of activities chosen by those who desire to spend eternity away from God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Sadly, some people have been tricked into believing they are living God’s way.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who
does the will of My Father who is in heaven
will enter. “Many will say to Me on that
day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in
Your name, and in Your name cast out demons,
and in Your name perform many miracles?’
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never
knew you; depart from me, you who practice
lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23).

The answer to the question can only be answered on an individual basis. Where do we want to spend eternity?
The choice is ours.

When we stand before the judgment seat of God will we be pleased with our choice?

by John E. Werhan @ www.forthright.net

The pleasure and thrill of sin

“You erected your shrine at the head of every road, and built your high place in every street. Yet you were not like a harlot, because you scorned payment” (Ezekiel
16:31 NKJV).

The world continues to be filled with sin and evil.
Murders, wars, corruption, and all manner of perversions fill our news and our entertainment media.
In many cases one may see motive and some element of logic in immoral actions. In others we shake our heads and wonder, “What were they thinking? Why would anyone do that?”

The prophet Ezekiel relates God’s wonderment at Israel’s rebellion. She had become unfaithful to him, like a wife committing adultery against her husband. He compares her to a harlot (prostitute) which many in “respectable society” would consider the epitome of immorality. But they were even more immoral because their actions were not for any logical or material benefit. They did evil simply because they enjoyed it.

Sin promises pleasure. Whenever we see it depicted in commercials, movies, or other media it is presented with gaiety, fun, and alluring circumstances. We are enticed to enjoy ourselves and forget about any consequences.

Philosophers and anthropologists continue to debate whether humans have an innate moral sense, or whether all behavioral patterns are learned. Whatever the truth is regarding that, there is undoubtedly a natural tendency towards irresponsibility to which many submit.

Paul described dangerous times which would come: “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

This may be a prophecy of a distinct period of human history, and if so, it may have already been fulfilled.
Undeniably, however, it also describes some people who live or have lived at any particular time. Some are just like that, living only for themselves and for immediate sensual gratification. Wickedness, if you will, just for its own sake.

The Bible calls us to a better understanding of life.
There is more to it than physical pleasures or selfish indulgence. We are, and can be, much more than that.
Man has both body and spirit (Genesis 2:7, Romans 8:10). When life is lived only in regard to our material nature the result is tragic loss of that which is most important (Romans 8:5-11).

As spiritual , humans have the potential for communion with God and an eternal relationship. Jesus came “. . .
that [we] might have life, and that [we] might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He taught, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). That statement may be further applied to say, “Life does not consist only of the physical experiences which one has.”

The fact is that sin’s promises are never fulfilled, and wickedness for its own pleasure will always disappoint and fail. Sin leaves us empty and broken.
Those who reject godliness in favor of selfish temporal pleasure will always perish “in outer darkness”
(Matthew 25:30). Christ offers us a better way (John 14:6). Let us live with him and for him.

–by Michael E. Brooks