Archives for : September2015

Much trouble may be avoided if one is able to read signs correctly.

Reading Sign

“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing him asked that he would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red;” and in the morning, “It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.” Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times'” (Matthew 16:1-3 NKJV).

A group of campaigners traveled to a national park in Nigeria for a break after several days of work, hoping to see some African animals. As we went through the park towards headquarters to register and get our rooms for the night, we stopped to see an area of old hand-dug dry wells.

The group scattered out looking into different wells. As we did so we heard an animal in the bush around us, but were not particularly concerned.

One man stopped at a well that had a pole sticking out of it, and without thinking much about it, he shook the pole. Suddenly, a female baboon, which had been in the bottom of the well, rushed up the pole, out of the well, almost in the man’s face.

As she fled, a large male baboon (apparently her mate) rushed to meet and protect her. Belatedly, we realized that the situation could have been dangerous, but, thankfully, the animals left without incident.

More experienced visitors to the park would undoubtedly have recognized the sounds we heard as the warning calls of the baboon. None of us were able to identify them; therefore we did not properly interpret the signs of potential confrontation and danger.

Much trouble may be avoided if one is able to read signs correctly. This applies not only to danger from jungle animals, but to weather, political difficulties, crime, violence, and also to spiritual danger.

Jesus rebuked the religious leadership of his day for being more able to read the signs of weather, than those of the purpose and plans of God.

His criticism is particularly appropriate because Jesus’ coming was predicted in vivid detail by the prophets of the Old Testament period.

The Pharisees and Sadducees prided themselves on their knowledge of and obedience to the Scriptures, including the prophets. If anyone were able to recognize and acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, sent by God, it should have been them. Yet they were the most adamant in denying his true identity.

Many Christians today are far more knowledgeable about physical matters pertaining to this world than their Bibles and the will of God. They discuss political personalities and events to minutest detail.

They know the ups and downs of the stock market. They can talk for hours about their favorite sports teams. But they may be completely blind to spiritual problems in their lives and relationships, and have little concept of what God desires for them.

Psalm 1 praises the righteous man, described as blessed by God, stable and enduring as a tree planted by a stream of water (verse 3). His dominate characteristic is that “[h]is delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night” (verse 2).

Such a man has his priorities right. He is able to read the signs that really matter, those which will determine his ultimate destiny and success.

Frequently in his ministry Jesus taught that one must “watch” (Matthew 25:13), “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41), and “be ready” (Matthew 24:44), because of temptations and also because of future events within God’s purposes.

That watchfulness and preparation included knowledge of God’s revealed word.

“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet . . . then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).

Not all of the signs revealed in the Bible refer to apocalyptic or eschatological events. Many pertain to our spiritual condition, and the needs and problems we face in this life.

Like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day, too many modern believers take their knowledge of God for granted and do not polish their skills at reading signs — especially those signs that truly matter.

Tragically, events which they could be prepared for will ultimately surprise and destroy them. Let us watch and pray, being always ready for God’s will to be done.

Michael E. Brooks @


Dave Allen has been all around the world with his military career.  He has taken assignments, particular in time of war, that carried him into and out of several time zones, often in a 24 to 48 hour period.  He once had a six month period where he never slept in the same time zone two nights in a row.  He was constantly on a C-130, going from place to place.  That is so far beyond “jet lag” that it is hard to comprehend for one who has never attempted it.

He said that after a month or so of that schedule and being exhausted from lack of sleep due to the time changes, his body began to adapt to this short-circuiting by sleeping whenever it was time to sleep where they were that night.  Basically, circumstances caused his “body clock” to be rewired!  It was in this context that Dave spoke of the “circadian rhythm.” The American Heritage Science Dictionary defines it as “A daily cycle of biological activity based on a 24-hour period and influenced by regular variations in the environment, such as the alternation of night and day. Circadian rhythms include sleeping and waking in animals, flower closing and opening in angiosperms, and tissue growth and differentiation in fungi.”  Normally, in one time zone, darkness is the cue for sleep and daylight is the cue for being awake.  But that can become skewed. Apparently, as Dave proved, the body can adapt even in the most extreme circumstances and give one the “body clock” needed for whatever circumstance.

What is your spiritual “circadian rhythm”?  God has equipped us with His Word, with a conscience, and external examples and influences that should supply us with a healthy view of right and wrong.  So long as we do not violate the conscience by ignoring and disobeying God’s Word or choosing improper influences, we keep the right perspective.  However, the conscience can become seared (1 Tim. 4:2)  We can get past feeling (Eph. 4:19).  We can turn our ears from the truth and be turned to fables (2 Tim. 4:3).  We can even believe what is false (2 Th. 2:11).  When this happens, we adapt our sense of right and wrong to what we come to believe or practice.  Isaiah’s peers did that, famously calling good “evil” and “evil” good.

A society’s value system can get turned upside down, and so can an individual’s.  This adaptation goes against God’s intended order, but the consequences of such an adaptation could not be more negative.  Let us be careful not to allow ourselves down a road where we “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Rom. 1:25).  In the spiritual realm, this is not a matter of indifference.

–Neal Pollard

Someone who has tasted death has a way of grabbing our attention

A FIREMAN I KNOW once got trapped in a burning house…

He had gotten disoriented in a hallway when fire broke out at both ends of the hall. He believed that he was going to die that day. With smoke and flame all around him, he simply did not know which way to go. All he knew was that he did not have much time. At what seemed to be the last second, the smoke cleared a bit, and he saw sunlight coming into a window at one end of the hall. He ran to it, broke it out with an ax, and climbed to safety. His fellow firemen treated him as if he had returned from the dead.

Someone who has tasted death has a way of grabbing our attention. No wonder, then, that King Nebuchadnezzar was so amazed when the three young Hebrew men emerged alive from the furnace. Everyone in the palace knew what had happened. This was not some fluke in which the men managed to find a way out of danger on their own. Only God could have brought them out. The Scripture says it was as if they had never gone into the fire at all: “there was no smell of fire on them” (v. 27).

The king was moved to praise the one true God who had saved the men from the furnace. He even decreed that no one could even so much as speak against their God. Don M. Aycock & Mark Sutton, “Dead Men Walking,” Still God’s Man, 220-221

God still saves (cf., 1 Peter 3:20-22) from the fire (Jude 1:2-3). He still resurrects (cf., Romans 6:5) from the dead. Do you know Him (1 John 2:3-4; 3:1; 5:20; Philippians 3:10)?

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:26-30

Mike Benson

What are we missing in our family communication skills?


Carla’s face reddens with anger and her eyes flash as her mother, Jennifer, tells her she cannot go to the movie until her room is clean. Carla screams, “You hate me!” She turns and storms into her room.

Carla’s words pierce like swords and warm tears sting Jennifer’s face. How could her own flesh and blood hate her, after all she has done for her?

Innumerable parents have heard these kinds of painful words from their family members. What are we missing in our family communication skills?

We look for anything that we can to help us develop better relationships. The deeper we go into the study of relationships, the more complex and nuanced the lessons.

Each of us has memories that store everything that happens in our relationships. We log the yellow colors of peace and love, as well as the reds of anger. Collectively, they constitute the dialogue of our familial bonds.

Each moment, whether good or bad, greets us when we face a new situation and conversation. We do not start over every day with a blank slate.

Jennifer does not like something her husband, Tom, says. She blurts out, “I thought you loved me!” Jennifer has just picked up Carla’s sword.

Jennifer needs to return to her log and remember all of Tom’s expressions of love. She needs to read the notations of flowers, gifts, hugs, kisses he has given her. With these in mind, should she not give him the benefit of the doubt?

We are not talking about occasions when adultery or abuse enters the relationship. We are talking about daily moments when we forget how our family members feel about us, separate from their momentary anger.

We should not have to start over every day. We have earned the benefit of the doubt.

Jennifer goes to Tom. He is hesitant thinking the storm still rages. “Honey, I’m sorry. I know you love me. I must have misunderstood. You deserve the benefit of the doubt. What did you really mean?”

Tom relaxes and they converse as lovers, rather than adversaries. Later, Carla moves slowly to her mother and says, “Mom, I know how you feel about me. I was just mad. I’m sorry.” Jennifer smiles and tearfully hugs her precious daughter.

“Carla, I realized today that we need to remember that we love each other and to give each other credit for that. We are always family”

“That makes sense, Momma. We don’t need to act like little children. Life is too short.”

Are we mature enough to give our loved ones the benefit of the doubt?

Richard Mansel

Psalm 1

IF I OFFERED you a method to make a million dollars, and it was a sure thing, would you listen…?

What if I offered you the ability to live your life in a wise, godly manner? Would you listen? Sorry, but I do not have the million dollar deal figured out, but I do know where to find the process for living.

That process is found in Psalm 1. It contrasts the difference between the man who wants to live in a godly manner and the one who does not. The contrast is between day and night. One many follows the way of God and is blessed. What is his process? First, he makes his own decisions about what he is going to do. He avoids evil company and refuses to associate with people who are cynical about everything. We often have to work with such people, of course, but we do not need to spend our “off” time with them.

The godly man looks to the true source of wisdom and strength — God Himself. He drinks in godliness as a tree drinks in the water running along its roots. Because of that action and attitude, the man yields fruit. He prospers.

On the other hand, the man who lives as if God were irrelevant is like chaff. He is blown away and has no lasting impact on life. Evil is its own worst enemy and is self-destructive. As the psalmist puts it, “The way of the wicked will perish” (v. 6). Oh, that might not happen right away. In fact, some of the world’s biggest scoundrels seem to have it all. But appearances are deceptive. What they build will not last.

God keeps the way of His people: “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous” (v. 6). These two ways of living could not be more diverse. One way is day; the other way is night.

Where do you live? Don M. Aycock & Mark Sutton, “The Difference Between Day and Night,” Still God’s Man, 147-148

1 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1

Mike Benson

Priorities are a tricky thing

Frank Haven was born August 1, 1924. This is an interesting fact, one canoeing enthusiasts are more apt to know than others. Yet, it is interesting to to note circumstances surrounding his birth. His father, Bill Havens, was a member of the Yale rowing crew selected to compete in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France. But, Bill’s wife was pregnant and out of loyalty and concern for her he decided not to travel over and compete. It turns out that Frank was born after the closing ceremonies.

Somewhere along the line, Frank decided to become a competitive canoeist. In 1952, Frank won the Gold Medal in canoeing at the Helsinki, Finland, Olympics. He also won the national canoeing championship seven out of 12 years between 1950 and 1961, and he also won Silver at the 1948 Olympics (info taken from

Bill was committed to his wife. He had a proper understanding of priorities and in what order they should be placed. Priorities are a tricky thing. We tend to place them in the order we convince ourselves they belong. Often, we simply give in to our tendencies, desires, and preferences, then rationalize that we have chosen what is truly most important. While we might make the right choice if put into a “big” situation like Frank Haven faced, but what about “little” situations that pop up every day? Maybe we convince ourselves our kids really need our encouragement and support as they play a sport, so we choose to take them there on a Sunday morning. Maybe we let an opportunity to evangelize go by the boards because we are concerned we will sacrifice good rapport with someone. Maybe we are tired after a long day at work, so we choose to watch TV rather than call, write, or visit that struggling Christian who crosses our minds.

Sometimes, it is hard to know if our choice is a winning or losing choice. It may take some time (or even eternity) before we know for sure. Jesus teaches that sometimes we must lose to win (Matt. 16:25). It is a matter of determining what we are choosing to lose and what we stand to win!

Neal Pollard

Do you need restoration?

HAVE YOU EVER rummaged through your attic or your basement and found something you had forgotten that was important to you…?

You look at that picture or hold that object, and your mind floods with memories that put a smile on your lips or a lump in your throat. You wonder how you could have forgotten about it because it was so important.

King Josiah started a program of restoring the temple in Jerusalem, which had been neglected. In the process of the restoration, workmen found a book that had also been neglected. It was the “Book of the Law.” Scholars believe that it was the book of Deuteronomy, or at least key portions of it. When Josiah heard its content, he was personally grieved, and then he led his people in a process of national reformation.

The Word of God has that kind of power. How could anyone stand up to its strength and act unmoved? Many people today ignore the Bible and act as if it were nothing but a dusty collection of ancient tales. But it has the power to restore men and nations to their proper relationship with God.

Do you need restoration? Like Josiah, do you need to be shaken out of your ruts? Don M. Aycock & Mark Sutton, “Restored,” Still God’s Man, 106

“Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.’ And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.” 2 Kings 22:8

Mike Benson

A Bible study on Joy (Jn. 15:11)

An understanding of “joy” begins with the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament we see how a variety of human experiences resulted in “joy.”

1. __________________ (Song of Solomon 1:4)
2. __________________ (Prov. 5:18)
3. __________________ (Ps. 113:9) _______________ & _______________ (Isa. 9:3)
4. __________________ (Lk. 15:4-7)
5. __________________ (Lk. 15:11-32)
6. __________________ (Mt. 13:44)
7. __________________ (Phil. 2:28)
8. __________________ (Heb. 13:17)
9. __________________ (Ps. 32:11)
10. __________________ (Ps. 40:16)
11. __________________ (Ps. 63:11)
12. __________________ (Ps. 119:14)
13. __________________ (Neh. 8:10)
14. __________________ (Ex. 18:9-11).
15. __________________ (Deut. 16:13-15; Ps. 122:1)
16. __________________ (Mt. 13:20)
17. __________________ (Jn. 3:29-30)
18. __________________ (Lk. 24:52)
19. __________________ (Lk. 1:14)
20. __________________ (2 Cor. 8:2)
21. __________________ (Heb. 12:2, 11)
22. __________________ (Jas. 1:2)
23. __________________ (Jn. 16:20)
24. __________________ (Jn. 16:21)
25. __________________ (Lk. 10:20)
26. __________________ (Mt. 25:21)
27. __________________ (Gal. 5:22)
28. __________________ (3 Jn. 4)

He’s a crook managing other crooks

WHEN I THINK of Zacchaeus, I see Danny DeVito–someone short, crooked, and a little flamboyant…

As an employee of the Roman government who made himself rich by skimming the tax money, Zacchaeus was ostracized from Jewish society.  He’s scum.  And since he manages the local tax collectors, he’s a crook managing other crooks.  His mere presence disgusts his fellow Jews because he is a reminder that they are an occupied country.  Roman soldiers stand next to his tollbooth, enforcing his collections.

But Jesus boldly intrudes into Zacchaeus’s life.  He stops and looks up at him, and then invites Himself over for dinner and to stay the night.  This is similar to the President stopping his motorcade to say he’s coming to your house–Jesus is the hottest thing to hit Israel in a few hundred years.  If you were Zacchaeus, you’d be honored.  Yet I doubt the President would say “I must stay” or “come down immediately” (literally, “hurry up”).

But in the first century “good people” didn’t eat with tax collectors because a meal was not just about eating; it was a sharing of life.  Jesus’ willingness to eat with Zacchaeus told everyone that Jesus not only accepted the tax collector, He also forgave him.  This disgusted the crowd.  Jesus had broken a social taboo.

When we love, we get dirty.  Here the dirt comes the opinions of people who look down on Jesus for associating with someone who has stolen from his fellow Jews and divided their money between himself and the Roman government.

Why does Jesus intrude?  He’s on a God-directed mission to seek and save what was lost.  Jesus sought out Zacchaes.  He didn’t just wait for people to come to Him.  He is an invading king.  But what a strange kingdom:  the poor, outcasts, prostitutes, Samaritans, and women!  No wonder Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  Paul E. Miller, “Saying ‘Yes’ To Gentle Intrusion,” Love Walked Among Us, 149-150

Mike Benson



Just Go!

Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:25-27 NKJV).

As I looked through pictures of some of my mission trips recently, I began to list the various means of travel that I have used. Air travel obviously enables me to quickly and comfortably reach distant places.

Once in the field, however, many other transportation methods become necessary. These have included modern cars and vans, four wheel drive vehicles, commercial buses, trucks (riding in the bed), tractors, motorcycles, motorized rickshaws, “people haulers” and “tuk-tuks,” pony, donkey, or ox carts, bicycle rickshaws and rickshaw “vans” bicycles, boats, ferries, plus a considerable amount of plain old walking.

I have walked through rice fields, bamboo thickets, rhododendron and hemlock forests, rocky hills, high mountain passes, and over innumerable foot logs, not to mention many miles on city streets and muddy rural roads.

It is often stated that in the great commission, Jesus commands “Go,” but he does not specify how. A biography of the late evangelist Marshall Keeble is entitled, “From Mule Back to Super Jet with the Gospel.”

Not every place on earth may be reached by four lane highways. Sometimes we must be more inventive or daring in order to reach “every creature.”

Probably no one has embraced this necessity more willingly or effectively than the apostle Paul. In the enumeration of his experiences partially quoted above, he includes “in journeys often,” then goes on to mention many perils associated with those journeys.

As one visualizes the circumstances of those perils he realizes that Paul traveled by land and by boat, suffering from every common danger of each — fatigue, exposure, robbery, thirst, shipwreck, storm – and perhaps many others. None of these stopped him from his traveling on behalf of lost souls and the glorification of God.

Though we are not always told how he traveled on land, some common methods are mentioned in the New Testament, including horseback (Acts 23:24), chariot (Acts 9:28), and walking (Acts 20:13).

Paul simply went wherever he could, and by whatever means was available. Little, save the Holy Spirit himself, hindered or limited his efforts (Acts 16:6- 10).

Today there are many individuals who have physical, family, or other restrictions which limit their ability to travel or the means by which they travel. Thankfully, the Spirit makes it plain that there are many avenues by which we may serve God, and not every person may or must use each avenue. Some can go and preach, others can send (Romans 10:13-15).

Let us be careful, however, that we do not ignore opportunities and abilities to go, using the difficulty of travel as our excuse.

I am not sure how God is going to receive our “I don’t like to fly” explanation of why we did not do more to reach the lost billions of souls in Asia, Africa and elsewhere (actually I am pretty sure that such excuses will sound pretty lame even to us).

I suspect that after three shipwrecks, Paul may not have been too fond of boats. But he continued to use them because his desire to preach the gospel was greater than his fear.

The New Testament is not overly concerned with Christians’ physical comfort and safety. It is greatly concerned with the souls of the lost.

The great commission is still Jesus’ parting command to believers. We must emulate Paul and other great evangelists of the past, quit complaining about our inconvenience, and just Go!

Michael E. Brooks @

Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste

Wasted Resources

As one who has gardened, I often marvel at the process. In the spring I till the ground and bury small seeds under the soil.

Over the next few weeks the plants grow and vegetables are produced. I sometimes think, as I eat the beans I’ve harvested, of the phenomenon I’ve witnessed. Out of inedible dirt has come nourishing food for me and my family.

The wise man had this in mind in Proverbs 13:23: “Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste” (NKJV).

The first part of the proverb is what we’ve described: the wonder of being able to make food appear out of the ground. The second part points to unrealized potential. It speaks of soil that could do much good, but instead lies fallow (untilled).

Why was this ground not put to work? There are two views of what the writer had in mind. First, some say that the injustice of others has kept the poor man from working his field. Someone seized his assets and that is why he remains poor.

Others argue that “justice” is better translated as “judgment.” It refers to the landowner’s slothfulness. His lack of industriousness keeps the food in the soil. What might have been will never be because he is lazy or distracted by other pursuits.

In either event, God has provided a resource that has the potential to bless many. How sad when those resources are wasted!

Many Christians have learned the fine art of “poor mouthing.” When asked about their involvement in the work of the kingdom, they reply that they’re not capable of doing the work. Someone else will have to carry the burden. But is that really true? Are there some who have been given no resources at all?

Peter answered that question clearly: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

In the next verse he mentioned two such gifts: speaking (whether in preaching or in conversation), and ministering our various gifts to others. No one, though, can truthfully claim to be without any gifts at all.

As I dig potatoes from the soil in the fall, I’m made aware of the grace of God. Energy invested in tilling the ground will bless me and others whom I love. But will I also till the spiritual soil God has provided? Using these resources, I’ll bring blessings upon myself and others.

How sad to see rich soil left untended!

–by Tim Hall @

His marriage was crumbling, his teenage children defiant and, he feared, on drugs.

Circus Juggler

John’s life was spinning out of control. The image that came to his mind was of a circus performer who rode a unicycle and juggled those flaming sticks.

John spent his entire day trying to run from one burning fire to the next, trying to put them all out.

His marriage was crumbling, his teenage children defiant and, he feared, on drugs. His job demanded sixty-hour weeks, and he dare not slow the pace down because there were others who would dearly love to take his job.

Then there was his health — his doctor had just told him that he had high blood pressure, and he needed to lose weight, stop smoking and reduce the stress in his life.

Stress? What stress? If he stopped the cycle, the whole circus would go up in flames!

Then a friend gave him the best advice he had ever heard. “You’ll never catch up with all of life’s demands at once. Why don’t you just master the most important one? Prioritize! Make your life right with God, and the other things will fall into place.”

John did just that. He started going to church. He began to read his Bible. He obeyed the things God told him to do in the scripture. And it worked! He still worked long hours, but his life began to quit its downward spiral.

The unicycle stopped, and the fires went out. When John made God the center of his existence, the rest of his life became less chaotic. The odd thing was that with God Proverbs 16:7in the center of his life, all the other relationships came into focus, too.

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7, ESV).

–by Stan Mitchell

Centurions and the Bible

The Centurion

The life of a Roman centurion was one of combat, leadership and the continued pursuit of seniority and rank.

A centurion usually commanded a “century” of 80-100 soldiers, but some of them rose to the senior ranks and were the backbone of the Roman legion. A senior centurion, or prima pilus was only outranked by seven other officers in the legion, and was considered a member of the senior staff of the legate, who commanded the legion.

To be considered for senior command, a centurion had to be fiercely loyal to Rome and have no other considerations in his mind. Rome and the emperor were his gods, so it is quite surprising to see such a dedicated soldier developing a love for God’s law and a desire to see Jesus (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10).

There’s more. This centurion cared about a slave. The centurion’s servant was a slave, and slaves were generally considered property by Romans. Yet this centurion had compassion on a servant that had become ill and close to death.

Humility was not a common quality in Romans, perhaps much less among centurions, but this one did not believe himself worthy to address Jesus (Luke 7:7). He asked the Jews to intercede on his behalf, which they did.

While the world is filled with the proud, in the eyes of God, it is much better to be like this centurion (Proverbs 29:23).

The centurion was willing to believe and obey Jesus. The Lord said that the soldier possessed “great faith” (Luke 7:9), because the commander told Jesus that all the Savior had to do was “say in a word,” and his servant would be healed.

The centurion demonstrates many things about the new kingdom of faith in Christ Jesus, starting with the beginnings of a kingdom based on faithful obedience, not birth; a kingdom based not on personal merit, but on the mercy of Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7); and a kingdom formed on the greatness of godliness and humility.

As important as these matters are, the centurion shows the importance of becoming involved in something he believed mattered. Isn’t that one of the really important lessons for us who live in a world that doesn’t want to get involved?

The centurion didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch his friend die. May we all have the same kind of love and desire as this humble soldier, and get involved in teaching the world about Jesus!

by John Henson @

Truth is always a better teacher than fiction, don’t you think?

Like Slave or King?

The book market is littered with dozens of books on how to have a great life.

A person could learn anything from how to plant a garden to how to follow some television doctor’s prescription for marriage and relationships. That may be entertaining, but is it sound?

The Bible, on the other hand, is filled with actual examples of people, how they conducted their lives and the consequences that ensued. Truth is always a better teacher than fiction, don’t you think?

Let’s see one of the great examples of how the Bible teaches.

In 2 Kings 5, there are four main characters: the leper Naaman, a slave maiden whose name we do not know, a king named Jehoram, and a prophet named Elisha. The lives of all four of these people would become intertwined with real-life lessons for our benefit.

Naaman, a successful leader and a general in the Syrian army, had a problem. He had leprosy. He was the enemy of Israel and an oppressor and kidnapper. However, he was a dying man who needed a cure.

Enter the slave girl. She’s working as a servant and had no status in life, except that she knew the truth. She knew about the one true God and about a prophet in Israel who could help Naaman. She could have withheld the truth from him, instead she told him there was a prophet in the land who would cure him of his dread disease.

Jehoram, the king, was not of the same mind as the slave girl. He didn’t want this powerful man in his kingdom and wasn’t about to make his enemy whole again.

When we look at the example of the slave girl and of Jehoram, which one did the right thing? The answer is perfectly clear, isn’t it?

The slave girl shared the truth with Naaman and this seemingly insignificant person saved the life of a mighty man. Jehoram, however, would have gladly remained silent and allowed Naaman to die.

How does this apply to my life? When it comes to telling others about Jesus, are we like the slave girl, or like Jehoram? Are we willing to share the good news of Jesus with others and help save their souls, or are we like Jehoram and hoard the good news, keeping it to ourselves?

If we teach, others may live. If we remain silent, many could die spiritually. Let’s start teaching.

by John Henson @


If we saw this little bird out in the wilderness, we probably would not think it is anything special.  We would be completely mistaken though.  God has given this bird some very unique abilities that make it extra special and worth exploring.  The name of this bird is the American Dipper.

The American Dipper is commonly found in mountainous regions around fast moving rivers.  The reason this is the case is because this is where it gets most of its food. It does not just go around the shores and pick up little morsels here and there though.  It literally dives down and swims around the river to get food.  It is actually diving and swimming against the current with ease in order to get the food it needs.

Since it does these things, God has given this bird some unique upgrades to make this possible in the first place.  (1) It is equipped with an extra transparent eyelid (called a nictitating membrane) that allows it to see under water. (2) It has scale like flaps to close up it’s nostrils so they do not fill up with water when diving. (3) Even though it lives in mountainous regions with icy waters, this bird has special feathers and glands that produce a type of “waterproofing oil” to keep the bird dry and warm even when diving.  (4) Since it uses its wings to swim (as opposed to webbed feet like ducks), it’s wings are extra powerful so it can fight the current of the river and move around with incredible ease and accuracy.  (5) It has air sacs in inside to help with submerging and buoyancy.

(Click Here for Video of This Bird in Action) –

The American Dipper truly is an incredible bird.  God has obviously placed some very special skills in this bird.  As we always say, there is little that evolution can offer as to how an animal like this would develop the ability to fly, swim, and all that it takes to do both with such ease.  How could it know to develop the extra eyelid, the nostril flaps, extra warm feathers, air sacs, and everything else?  God has made our creation special (Genesis 1), and in this creation we are able to see the evidence of Him (Romans 1:20).

–Brett Petrillo



A preacher once declared that he never made friends in the congregation he served because he knew he would have to say goodbye one day

Till we meet again

“Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection” (Arthur Schopenhauer).

* I was just four when I stood at an airport and said goodbye to my friend Chucky at the Salisbury airport in Rhodesia. I asked my parents if he would ever come back “from the sky.”

* I was almost eighteen when I said goodbye to Paul. He was killed in an auto accident, just a year older than I.

* I was forty-five years old when I stood at the grave of my mother and said goodbye.

A preacher once declared that he never made friends in the congregation he served because he knew he would have to say goodbye one day. I have made friends in every congregation I have served!

I have endured this “foretaste of death” too many times to take my brethren for granted. I will not tell them I appreciate them for the first time at a graveside, or a farewell potluck dinner. I will not abandon them at the drop of a hat for a trifle.

And I will appreciate the opportunities I have to be with them, to sing and pray, to listen reverently, attentively, to our Father speak. Because worship with these brethren is a “foretaste of the resurrection.”

Our songs tell us of this sweet fellowship. “We gather here, in Jesus name.” “We gather together, to ask the Lord’s blessing.” We meet each other “in sweet communion.” When we “asunder part,” it gives us “inward pain.”

And friends, time is precious.

I can’t understand a child of God who turns his brother into a “pillar of salt” in his haste to get out of the church building after services. I can’t understand a Christian who has to be bribed or browbeaten into returning Sunday night. What if you miss seeing a sister in Christ … and something happens where you belatedly realize the next time you see her will be in heaven?

Friends, our spiritual family is precious.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:11 ESV).

Some friends I will only see again in heaven. But I hope to see you this Sunday!

Stan Mitchell

The preacher won’t thank God for such a terrible day

A minister was known for always thanking God in his public prayers. One Sunday morning was particularly terrible and gloomy. A church member though to himself, “Certainly the preacher won’t thank God for such a terrible day.” When the preacher got up and began to pray, he said, “We thank Thee, O God, that every day is not always like this.”

Anyone can be thankful when life is good. It really takes some effort to be thankful when life is difficult. Being thankful is a practiced skill. It’s a mindset we have to constantly work on. When we do, we are likely to find many, many wonderful parts of our lives to give thanks for, especially the small ones we take for granted.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

God wants us to be thankful people. Finding something to be thankful for may take some time, it may take some creativity, and it may even send us into deep thought. No matter what it takes, let’s practice the habit of being thankful.

–Brett Petrillo

A “treasure” which not rust, cannot be stolen, nor can it be destroyed by moths (Matthew 6:19-20).

Missed Fortune

There is a regular gambler at the Nugget Hotel & Casino in Nevada. He goes there a couple of days a week to try his luck on the video poker machine. When asked how he is doing, 76-year-old Ron Wayne replies, “I’m living off my Social Security and I do a modest trade in collectors’ stamps and coins.”

On April 1, 1976, the same Ron Wayne started working for a new computer company: drafting documents, mediating disputes, and creating an operating manual. For this work, he was awarded a 10% stake in the new company.

But he had early misgivings. He had been unsuccessful in starting a previous business. He had racked up thousands of dollars in debt and was concerned that history would repeat itself with this new job. In order to make this newly formed company a success, it would require a lot of hard work and could be a very rough ride, one which he was reluctant to take!

Eleven days after he helped form the company, Ron removed himself from the company charter. He was paid $800 for his 10% stake in this fledgling computer company which they named… “Apple Computers.”

As you probably know, that stock eventually exploded in value. If his short-lived career at Apple had gone differently, he would be holding a different kind of winnings: 10% of Apple’s stock. Today, that stock would be worth $22 billion! Ron Wayne sold it for $800.

Yet, there is a far GREATER fortune available to ALL that sadly, MANY are forfeiting TODAY!

This “fortune” cannot be calculated monetarily for it is worth more than all the silver and gold in the world (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19). This “treasure” will not rust, cannot be stolen, nor can it be destroyed by moths (Matthew 6:19-20). It is eternal, unlike the temporal things of this world (1 John 2:15-17). It is not something that can be earned (Ephesians 2:8-9) or won; it is a gift that must be accepted on the right terms.

The “FORTUNE” is ETERNAL LIFE  and FORGIVENESS of SIN made possible through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2).

This GIFT is available to ALL those who will place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their 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 sins (Acts 2:38).

PLEASE don’t squander YOUR opportunity to receive this FORTUNE”…

Trust and obey Jesus today!

— David A. Sargent


The average child laughs 150 times a day


Since this article is about laughter, it seemed appropriate to start off with a joke:

A group of expectant fathers were in a waiting room, while their wives were in the process of delivering babies. A nurse came in and announced to one man that his wife had just given birth to twins. “That’s quite a coincidence” he responded, “I play for the Minnesota Twins!” A few minutes later another nurse came in and announced to another man that he was the father of triplets. “That’s amazing,” he exclaimed, “I work for the 3M company.” At that point, a third man slipped off his chair and laid down on the floor. Somebody asked him if he was feeling ill. “No,” he responded, “I just happen to work for the 7-up company.”

We all enjoy a good laugh. Unfortunately, we probably do not laugh as much as we should. An interesting statistic states, “While the average child laughs 150 times a day, say researchers at the University of Michigan, the average adult laughs only 15 times”(Youth Worker Update, Signs of the Times, August, 1993, p. 6). How often do you think you laugh? Do you laugh often, rarely, or maybe somewhere in-between? When we think about it, adults really do laugh a whole lot less then most children.

As Christians, we should be especially happy and full of laughter. Why? Because of scriptures like this, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal” (John 3:16). God loves us so much that He sent Christ so we can have eternal life with Him. This should make us extremely happy, and as a result, we should laugh more. Christians have a lot to be happy about.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” God has given us so much joy partly because He knows how healthy it can be. According to some facts, laughter can reduce stress, boost the immune system, help fight infection, and reduce pain. Overall, happiness, joy, and laughter really are a good for us.

As we go on living our lives, let’s remember the joy that we have in Christ. If we have lost that joy or have not yet attained it, let’s get it. Let’s remember the incredible joy and happiness that is found in God and to let that cheerfulness out.
–Brett Petrillo

Unleash the Power

Writing to Glorify God

God calls us to spread the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15). As long as the message is not compromised, the style of communication resides with the imagination and technologies of man.

The written word has stirred hearts for thousands of years. Nations rise and fall on the power of words. They open hearts or shatter them forever. Souls move into the light or run to darkness through the power of ink on canvas.

How do we move people for good with our humble thoughts? What methods will stir the passions of men and bring them closer to God? If we will produce impactful words that lead readers to salvation, we must consider these four concepts.

1. Unleash the Power.

We must open our minds to the potency of language. Seeking the right word requires that we are familiar with the language. The storehouses of our mind brim with resources, because we have planted and harvested.

A writer who will not read is a writer who will not be read. If we will not fill our plate, we cannot eat.

The tool of language will be ineffective, if it is dulled by lack of use. Learn new words and their meanings and allow them to become partners in your art.

Become a voracious and judicious reader. Become a student of quality writers. Study their craft and emulate, as necessary. Seek out advice on growing as a penman. No one is born a masterful writer or artist. It requires knowledge, study, sweat and blood. Do the work because souls are worth the price we pay.

2. Weigh the Words.

Experienced writers know that great articles are not in the writing, but in the editing. Jumbled thoughts take people nowhere, but to confusion. Razor sharp words keep the attention of their readers.

Spend more time editing than writing. Painstakingly examine every word. Be ruthless and pare the piece down until it is tight and seamless. Ensure that the reader remains in the article. Polish the pacing and rhythm so the reader is carried along with the stream of ideas.

3. Wrestle the Barriers.

All readers bring a set of defenses to a Biblical article, ready to protect their sins and weaknesses. We must be wiser than their schemes.

A skilled writer will study the human mind and patterns of behavior, so they can penetrate the walls we all place around ourselves. Our words must go under their defenses, so the word of God will hit the mark and hearts can be changed.

4. Challenge the Reader.

Paul calls us to speak the “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). However, we must be penetrating and address sin, without attacking the person. We are trying to turn them toward God, not to kill and mount them on our wall.

Know the Book and the most incisive ways to soften the hardest hearts. Utilize the Word of God to pierce the souls of men (Acts 2:37). We seek salvation above everything else.

To produce meaningful writing, we must create portable images. Write visually and the reader will enter the story. Use illustrations and images that convey the meaning and they will spring to life in vivid colors. Jesus used parables and we follow his lead in producing moving pictures for the reader.

Will we write an article or the article? Will we seek to make a difference or meet a deadline? Souls matter more than cold bylines.

God’s mission deserves our best. Open the Word to the world and show the Savior to the people. The responsibility is daunting but the rewards are golden.

Richard Mansel