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I've just had an amazing 10 days. As you read this I'm on my way back from an annual trip to Tanzania, East Africa. In fact, this message is arriving in your email box while I'm about 35,000 feet in the air traveling at about 500 mph. I should be just south of Greenland about now. Lord's willing, I'll be home today in time for dinner.

Each year I travel to a little village in Tanzania called Kisongo, which is located just outside the large city of Arusha. It's the location of the Andrew Connally School of Preaching where they train Africans who will go back to their home countries to preach the Gospel. 

While I was instructing in the school on the book of Hebrews, my travel companions were in the village sharing God's Word with folks who had recently attended the East Africa Gospel Meeting, hosted by the Kisongo church of Christ. As a result of their work, 12 people were baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. It was such a successful week that one of the local evangelist's, Charles, said that "the devil is taking a real beating this week." He was right. 

Far too often it seems that the devil puts a beating on us. The Bible says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pt. 5:8). It sure was nice to take a few chunks out of the devil's hide this week. 

Everyday we can win little battles against our adversary. When we tell someone about Jesus, choose to do right instead of wrong, spend time with God's Word or in prayer, we're slowly defeating the devil. One of these days he will be forever be defeated, and we'll be in our eternal reward.

This week, let's give the devil a beating he will never forget!

 
 
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It seems as though Christians are blurring the lines of righteousness now more than ever. Don’t misunderstand, this is not a judgment on the heart of anyone. It is however an observation and judgment of improper thinking and actions. We cannot sell out to the Hollywood, reality TV driven, Big Brother, Bachelor(ette), DWTS world around us. We must be more interested in faithfulness than the latest trend or fashion. 

Speaking of fashion, someone recently asked if ____________ was a faithful Christian. I responded with “so far as I know.” I was asked, “did you see what __________ was wearing?” I said “no.” I went on to say that some folks wear clothing that is inappropriate and do so unknowingly. They love God, want to serve Him, and want to go to heaven just like you. They simply have not thought about it; and perhaps have never been taken aside and told what modesty is and is not.

Here are a couple of reminders for us that will help us to make better choices about the clothing that we wear—whether we’re talking about our beach attire, athletic clothing, school/work apparel, or even our Sunday go to church outfits. 

Help people to focus on the fact that you’re saved rather than sexy. Paul wrote, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works" (1 Tm. 2:9,10). In order for one to profess godliness with good works (to show a mind of salvation over sexualization), I must adorn myself in modest apparel. 

The word "adorn" means to arrange. The word "modest" is from the Greek, kosmios, meaning: "orderly, well arranged, decent, modest, harmonious arrangement, adornment" (Strong's Dictionary, Power Bible CD). Webster defines modest as "observing the proprieties of sex, chaste, decent." 

Just think honestly about it. When worn in public, do short skirts, short shorts, swimsuits, tight jeans, tight shirts, shirts that rise too high or a neckline that plunges too low; do these things observe the respectability of sex, chastity, and decency? If my fashion choices leave little to one’s imagination, what am I proclaiming to the world? May I suggest that we’re telling the world that we want to be just like you—less interested in being holy and saved, and more interested in being noticed and sexy.

Be more interested in wearing clothes fashioned by God than the Gap. Admittedly, I don’t know what the exact line of demarcation is between what is too little when it comes to what we wear. However, I believe we can know with certainly that there are some things we wear that are clearly out of bounds. To help our understanding of what God says that faithful fashion is, let’s consider a principle brought out by Moses in the first book of the Bible.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they realized they were both naked. So, they clothed themselves. God said, “you don’t have enough clothes on” (Gen. 3:7). So, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). The coat, according to the Hebrew word kethoneth, that God made for them was a long shirt-like garment, generally with sleeves, that covered Adam and Eve from their shoulders to their knees (Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies).  

One immediately asks the question, "Why clothe Adam and Eve in this way? There was no one else around to look at them." Is it possible that God was setting a moral standard for man with respect to "modest apparel?" Remember that God's moral law never changes. It has never been right to steal, cheat, murder,...to dress immodestly, etc. 

From the illustration above, it would seem that God's standard for "modest apparel" exceeds man's. Someone may say, “It's a little radical to say that I ought to wear a garment that covers my shoulders to my knees.” Who cares what someone may say. 

Let’s be more concerned about being faithful than we are about being fashionable. Let’s wear clothes that have been fashioned by God rather than the Gap—or whatever the trendy shopping store is these days. :-)


 
 
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A few days ago I learned that one of our church members had a car that quit on him. The problem was a bad engine. In order to get his car running again he needed to take it to his mechanic who would then be able to install a new engine for him.

What if, after the car was returned to this individual, it still ran poorly? Would you think the old engine had really been replaced with a new one? Or, would you think that the old engine had been tinkered with just enough to run? You would probably think the latter. 

There are times that we are like that tinkered with engine. We may say that we're going to be a better parent, a more loving spouse, be a faithful Christian, and so on. For the next few days, it appears as though we're doing a better job. Yet, it doesn't last. Why? It's because we haven't truly repented in our mind and committed ourselves to changing our heart.

The Bible says, "...be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rm. 12:2b).

Let's not be like the engine that's been fixed up just enough to run for a little while. Instead, we should allow our hearts to be totally transformed so that we can be faithful Christians for the long haul. 

Have a great day!

 
 
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At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together, else we shall all hang separately."

Division surrounds us--Democrat/Republican, rich/poor, conservative/liberal, educated/uneducated, and we could go on and on. Sadly, the same can be said for the church. Forget doctrine-dividers. Some brethren just can't get along. "She didn't talk to me." "He looked at me funny." "Did you see what she had on?" "My, if my children acted that way..." "Did you hear what he did?" 

However, when Jesus died for the church, he did so that he might have one united body of believers--a church that loves one another, and looks for the best within one another. Add to that, a church united is something that is good and pleasant. Paul, the apostle, beseeched early Christians to be such a church. Here's what the Bible says:
  • "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one..." (Jn. 17:20-21).
  • "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psa. 133:1). 
  • "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10).
The giant Redwoods in California don't have a deep root system. Instead, their roots intertwine with other roots giving them stability and the capability to grow tall and strong. The Hebrews writer would remind us to have a similar "root system." He says, "...exhort one another daily..." (Heb. 3:13). Or, to borrow from Franklin, "hang together."

Let's be united with a common love one for the other. After all, we share in common a loving Savior!

 

Loyalty

09/02/2014

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In Warren Wiersbe's, On Being a Servant of God, the author quotes the famous Amercan psychiatrist Karl Menninger who said this:

Loyalty means not that I am you, or that I agree with everything you say or that I believe you are always right. Loyalty means that I share a common ideal with you and that regardless of minor differences we fight for it, shoulder to shoulder, confident in one another's good faith, trust, constancy, and affection.

If we're honest with ourselves many if not most of us would say that we really only have a few close friends--those who are loyal to us, and us them. There are only a few people with whom we can let our hair down and be ourselves, knowing that while we may differ on some things we can speak freely without being held suspect. 

Sometimes, we need to be able to speak out loud and bounce ideas, thoughts, and even questions about things so that we can grow in our knowledge, and even in our daily Christian walk. Strange, if we can't feel safe and free to ask questions and think out loud with brethren, who can we open up with? 
 
I'm thankful that I have a friend who allows me the opportunity to think freely, and then if my thoughts drift, he lovingly corrects me with his words of truth. His name is Jesus. He's my loyal friend.

The Bible says, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Pro. 18:24).

We'd all do well to find and be friends like Jesus. But when they're hard to find, remember that Jesus promises to be your friend.

I hope you have a great day!  

 
 
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A few months ago I read about a man named George, minister in a northeastern town years ago. Here's how the story went:

One Sunday morning he came to the church building carrying an old rusty and bent bird cage, and when it came time to preach, he sat it on the pulpit. A number of eyebrows were raised as they couldn't understand what the preacher was doing.

George began to explain. "I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. At the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the boy and asked, "What you got there son?" "Just some old birds," came the reply. "What are you gonna do with them? I asked. "Take 'em home and have fun with 'em," he answered. "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time." "But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?" 'Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy. "They like birds. I'll take 'em to them." 

The minister was silent for a minute and then asked, "How much do you want for those birds?" "Huh? Why, you don't want them birds, mister. They're just plain old field birds. They don't sing--they aint even pretty!" "How much?" The boy sized up the minister and said, "$10." He reached into his packet and handed the boy a ten dollar bill. The boy was gone, and the man sat down the cage, opened the door and let the birds go.


About 2,000 years ago, the devil was playing with some unattractive birds--sinners. Jesus asked, what do you plan to do with those sinners? "Oh, I plan to have some fun with them." "I plan to corrupt them. I'm going to make them miserable. I will wreck their homes. In short, I'm going to destroy their lives." 

Jesus sized up the situation and said, what will you take for those sinners? The devil said, you don't want these sinners. They're unattractive, corruptible, they'll disappointment you time and time again. You don't want them, Jesus." Jesus said, "how much?" "Your life--your blood."

Friend, Jesus freely paid the price. It should be our aim to show him honor, and praise him everyday for his paying the price for us. 

The Bible says, "For ye are bought with a price:therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20).

Have a great day!

 
 
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Did you know that the average man . . . 
  • is 5’ 9”?
  • has not completed college?
  • earns $29,000 per year?
  • does not know his cholesterol count—but it’s 211?
  • watches 27 hours of TV each week?
  • cries once per month?
  • eats his corn on the cob in circles, not across?
  • will not stop to ask for directions when he’s in the car?

Did you know that on an average day in the Unites States that . . . 
  • 176,810,950 eggs are laid?
  • 21,000 gallons of oil are spilled from tankers and barges?
  • 63,000 cars crash?
  • 1.1 million people are in the hospital?
  • 500 million cups of coffee are drunk?

Did you know that the average Christian . . . 
  • will participate in the public singing of 20,000 hymns in his life?
  • will join their hearts with other Christians in 7,000 public prayers?
  • will hear approximately 4,000 sermons in his life?
  • will not convert a single person to Jesus?

But did you know that you, whom God requires to be more than just average, has the power to . . . 
  • change a life for the better by showing them the love of Jesus (Phil. 2:1-8)?
  • take one soul and alter their destiny forever by pointing them in the direction of heaven (Mk. 16:15-16)?
  • can take a child under his wing and teach him how to preach sermons that will reach into the hearts of thousands (Pro. 22:6)?
  • have a meaningful marriage of love and respect that can change generations to come (Eph. 5:22-31)?

God calls us to live above the level of mediocrity. While some things are beyond our control, the life of a Christian can be far above the average. In point of fact, it must be!

The Bible says, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8).

I hope you have a great day!




Sources:

Parade Magazine

American Averages

Hearts on Fire: A Strategy for Dynamic Evangelism


 
 
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I believe it was C.L. Sayler who wrote the following story called the "Padded Cross."

Well, here I am, Lord. You said, "take up your cross." and I'm here to do it. It's not easy, you know, this self-denial thing. I mean to go through with it though, yes Sir. I'll be you wish more people were willing to be disciples like me. I've counted the cost and surrendered my life and ... it's not an easy road.

You mind if I look over these crosses? I'd kind of like a new one. I'm not fussy, You understand, but a disciple has to be relevant these days. I was wondering...are there any that are vinyl padded? I'm thinking of attracting others, You see, and if I could show them a comfortable cross I'm sure I could win a lot more. Got to keep up with the population explosion and all. And I need something durable so I can treasure it always...oh, is there one that's sort of flat so it would fit under my coat? One shouldn't be too obvious.


Funny, there doesn't seem to be much choice here. Just that coarse, rough wood. I mean, that would hurt. Don't you have something more distinctive, Lord? I can tell You right now, none of my friends are going to be impressed by this shoddy workmanship. They'll think I'm a nut or something. And my family will be just mortified.

What's that? ...It's either one of these or forget the whole thing?...But, Lord, I want to be your disciple. I mean, just being with You is all that counts, but life has a balance, too. ...But You don't understand, nobody lives that way today. Who's going to be attracted by this self-denial bit? I mean, I want to, but let's not overdo it. Start getting radical like this and they'll have me off to the funny farm...know what I mean? 

I mean, being a disciple is challenging and exciting, and I want to do it, but I do have some rights, You know. Now, let's see. No blood O.K.? I just can't stand the thought of that, Lord...Lord? 
Now, where do you suppose He went?


Jesus teaches us that we must be willing to take up our cross to follow Him. But what does that mean? 

Some speak of bearing their cross when they suffer things like illness, job loss, or sadness. While these are some of life's tragedies, they certainly are not what Jesus had in mind when he talked about us bearing the cross (Mt. 16:24).

Paul tells us that the cross was a sign of shame (Gal. 3:13). The Bible says, "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Pt. 4:13). It could then be said that the cross we bear is that of self-sacrifice, and the service of others. Our cross, is His cross.

Something to think about today, because each day we're to be bearing the cross.

 
 
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Ezekiel was a priest and later was called by God to be a prophet. His ministry began toward the end of the time period of history we commonly refer to as “Judah Alone.” From such passages as 2 Kings 24:14-17, we learn that Ezekiel was deported, along with Judah, to Babylonia in about 597 B.C. It wasn’t until about five years later that he began to prophesy (Ezek 1:2). During the time in which Ezekiel was prophesying Nebuchadnezzar took the city of Jerusalem, destroying it in 586 B.C. Shortly following this event (565 B.C.) Ezekiel penned the words found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. It’s a great read!

This text deals with Ezekiel’s vision in which he finds himself in the “valley of dry bones.” It was there that the question was asked, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel, a man of faith, said “O Lord God, thou knowest.” When Ezekiel obeyed the voice of the Lord those bones were brought to life. 

What about in our own lives? Do we need our dried up bones to be brought back to life? Do we need to experience a revival?

If we are not as evangelistic as we once were, then we need a revival. 

If we've allowed worldliness to take hold of us and mold us into something other than being Christlike, then we need a revival.

If we don’t know the Bible like we once did, then we need a revival. 

If spiritual conversation embarrasses us, then we need a revival. 

If we rationalize for sin, we need a revival. 

If materialism dominates our lives, then we need a revival. 

If we're not bothered over the fact that many of our friends and neighbors are lost in sin, then we need a revival.

Yes, sometimes there needs to be a rekindling of the fire in our bones. We need a revival.

If you've read through this list and think to yourself that some of these things describe who you are today, then here's what you do: repent. 

When the people of Nehemiah's day needed to experience a real revival, notice what the prophet prayed: 

“Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned” (Neh. 1:6).

We rekindle that fire, we experience that revival, through repentance and prayer. 

 
 
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As time allows I try to fly for a couple of hours every week, or at least every other week. Much of my flying these days is with an instructor as I'm working on additional ratings to add to my pilot's license. So, you'll understand why this little story caught my attention.

A small plane with an instructor and student on board hit the runway and bounced repeatedly until it came to a stop. The instructor turned to the student and said, "That was a very bad landing you just made." "Me?" replied the student. "I thought you were landing!"

There's really no excuse for this. A student pilot who is seeking his license, and a licensed pilot who is trying to get his instrument rating will eventually fly with a flight examiner. One of the things he will be critiqued on is whether or not there is a clear passing of the controls over to the other pilot. One would say, "You have the controls." The other responds, "I have the controls." Or, something like that. 

There are times that we are flying through life and we fail to recognize that God has told us, "I have the controls." 

The Proverbs writer said, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil" (Pro. 3:5-7). The Proverbs writer is saying to pass the controls over to God. 


Sometimes we need to be reminded of who has the airplane. It will make a difference in our landings.


Have a great day!