Two boys were put in I.S.S. (in school suspension). The one boy asked, "Whatcha in for?" "I got caught talking to Bill. You?" "I got caught talking to God."

Strange how talking to God can get one into trouble, especially when you consider all the benefits it affords. Martin Luther once said, "The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes."

Once again, prayer has made it's way into the spotlight this week--and I don't mean in a good way. Seems like when people invoke God in a public way they're often chastised and demeaned. It won't be a surprise to many of us if one day we're put in jail for praying at the dinner table of our favorite restaurant. 

I hope that we never stop talking to God, even if threatened with prison time. Because, ". . . this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hearth us" (1 Jn. 5:14).

I hope you have a great day!

Do you know what you want to do with your life? Perhaps you're already doing it--"living the dream", as one of our deacons likes to say. 

At the age of 12, a scrawny pre-teen asked Bill Hewlett, founder of Hewlett-Packard, if he could have some computer parts. He was trying to build a computer. Steve Jobs would later build the Apple empire and develop an almost cult like following. He knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, even at age 12. 

To make your dreams a reality it takes a couple of things--vision and goals, and old fashion hard work. Any successful organization I've ever read about had these qualities. 

As Christians, we would do well to have vision, and goals for our future--and then have a plan of action to pursue them. It's not just the long term goals that we should think about, but the short term ones as well. For example:

I want to read my New Testament through monthly. I will therefore read nine chapters each day.

I want to make one visit each week. I will contact the church office on Monday morning and ask for the name of one family that I might go see this week.

I want to study the Bible with somebody, anybody. I will write down the names of 10 people I want to study with. Then, I'll ask them for the study. If I'm turned down 10 times, I'll repeat the process.

I want to teach a Bible class. I will find a good teacher to mentor me, and will sit in his/her class to learn techniques that will make me affective in the classroom.

Think of some area of service that you would really like to participate in--have a goal. Then, formulate a plan to be successful.

Above all, let's be sure that our goals and plans are rooted in a desire to do the will of the Lord (Jn. 6:40).

Have a great day!   

Christianity is more than religion it's a lifestyle. Religion is a set of beliefs, but Christianity is where we take correct, biblical beliefs and allow them to radiate from within. Christianity is who we are, how we think, what we say and do. Religion is easy; Christianity, well that's an entirely different matter. 

Anybody can put on a suit or dress and go to church on Sunday. We all can read our Bible. We can participate in the occasional church activity, or even give someone in need a meal or a few bucks for gas. 

If I'm religious, I just see Jesus on occasion. If I'm a Christian, Jesus lives in me and others will see Him everyday. The religious person is often focussed on what others are doing, whereas the Christian pays attention to what he's doing for Jesus. The religious person is interested in the status quo, but the Christian lives above the level of mediocrity and goes the second, third, and fourth miles. The religious person considers the church to be just another organization or business, where the Christian recognizes that his business is to live for Jesus. 

My Lord said, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mt. 5:14-16). 

If we're truly disciples, more than just religiously right, then we'll make a difference in our own little world. A world which consists of our family, neighbors, co-workers, waiters, home repair folks, and so on. 

Mark Twain said, "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." 

Let's not be religious only, but let's only be Christians. You see, "Religion can offer a man a burial service, but Christ offers every man new, abundant, and everlasting life" (Wilma Reed).

Have a great day!

I suppose most of us have said things and done things that we wish we could take back. Perhaps we've made life changing decisions that if we had it to do over again we would have chosen differently. We'd love to be able to press the "do-over" button.

We all make mistakes; we all need a chance to start over and do better. Thankfully, with the dawn of every day, a contrite and penitent hearted individual can wake up and begin again with a clean slate.

Someone wrote:

I've shut the door on Yesterday,
It's sorrows and mistakes;
I've locked within its gloomy walls
Past failures and heartaches,
And now I throw the key away
To seek another room,
And furnish it with hope and smiles
And every springtime bloom.

No thought shall enter this abode
That has a hint of pain,
And worry, malice and distrust
Shall never therein reign.
I've shut the door on Yesterday
and thrown the key away--
Tomorrow holds no doubt for me,
Since I have found today.

God is a God of second chances and multiple do-overs. A point that is clearly seen in the answer to Peter's question when he asked, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Jesus said, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven" (Mt. 18:21-22).

Thanks be to God for second chances. But here's a question for you. Are you extending that same benefit to others? Are you helping others to see the beauty of a new day? 

Something I'm thinking about today.

I hope you have a great day!

Of all the wise man's words, I suppose that some of my favorites are these: "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding" (Pro. 17:28). 

There's just something about a man who knows when to say his piece, and hold his peace. The fact of the matter is, those who are more selective with when they speak are often taken far more seriously than those who always have something to say. 

This morning I read a story about a man by the name of Luigi Tarisio. When he died, he left very few worldly possessions behind. That is, with the exception of nearly 250 fiddles which he spent a lifetime collecting. He's not the only collector to have hidden away the melodious sounds by resigning the instruments to an attic. In fact, ". . . when the greatest Stradivarius was first played it had had 147 silent years."

I'm not suggesting that you be Monk like and hold your tongue for years, or forever. Rather, choose more carefully when you do speak.

Holding your tongue will keep you out of trouble (Pro. 21:23), and it will also cause the words you choose to speak to have a greater impact. 

Remember that "He who is a man of silence is a man of sense."

I hope you have a great day!

Henry Varley said, "The world has yet to see what God can do with and through and in a man who is fully consecrated to him."

Imagine what our homes, places of business, and even the church would be like if we had men and women who were willing to separate themselves completely and totally to God's business rather than their own. I mean all of us!

What if we all admitted our wrongs and vowed to change?

What if we all were willing to listen to one another and recognize that their input was/is valuable?

What if we all decided to be less selfish and more selfless?

What if we all made the effort to be kind to others, even when others aren't so kind to us?

What if we all committed to making the best of what ever situation we find ourself in, and if we don't like that situation, what if rather than complain about it, we change it?

What if we all held ourselves to a higher standard first, before expecting the same from others?

What if we all chose to talk to one another about issues we may have with them rather than talk about them to others? And, what if we simply chose not to have so many issues with others and learn to accept the fact that "not everyone is just like me"?

What if we all agreed that we would commit to treating others the way we wanted to be treated?

What if we all decided to tell just one person about Jesus this week? 

What if we all committed ourselves to truly being the Christian that God, from His word, has called us to be?

Seth Wilson said, "It doesn't take such a great man to be a Christian; it just takes all there is of him."

One of the things that controls human destiny, and we might add our eternal destiny, are these words from Solomon: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might . . ." (Eccl. 9:10).

What if we all did that?

I hope you have a great day!

If I'm honest with myself, I would have to admit that there are occasions when my prayer life is not as it should be. So, I'll ask God to forgive me on those occasions and then make an effort to do better.

Prayer does such great things for Christians. And why wouldn't it? It's the only way we can call upon the creator of the universe to assist us in our times of need.

Marriage problems? Pray about them.

An enemy that constantly distracts you from being the Christian you need to be? Pray for him.

The fear of the unknown--whether job security, the future of your children, or retirement? Pray about those things.

Philip Melanchthon said, "The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer." 

I like how one person put it. "A lot of kneeling keeps you in good standing with God. If your knees are knocking, kneel on them."

The Bible says, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us" (1 Jn. 5:14).

I hope you have a great day!

While I hate the cancer that destroys the body, I also hate the cancer that kills the spirit. Fred Smith said, "Cynicism is cancer of the spirit. The bad cells of sarcasm attack the good cells of hope and, if undiagnosed, will eventually destroy them."

Distrusting others without cause--and by "cause" I don't mean the gossip of a third party. Disparaging the motives of another without truly knowing their character. Believing the worst about people, charging them with selfishness without really trying to understand them. All of these are cynical attitudes and behaviors. 

Rather than having a pessimistic view toward others, why not look for the positive? Reminds me of the boy who came home with his report card full of poor grades. "What have you to say about this?" asked his father. "One thing for sure," the boy replied, "Dad, you can be proud. You know I haven't been cheating!"

We would do well to remember that as Christians we are to be a flavoring influence to those around us. Part of that must be a positive and optimistic attitude, and one void of cynicism. 

The Bible says, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good of nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men" (Mt. 5:13). 

Have a great day!

All of the miracles of our Lord are impressive, but the one where Jesus healed the paralytic is especially so to me. 

In Mark 2:1-12 we are immediately taken back to a first century home located in Capernaum. It was likely just a small flat, rectangular in shape with an open courtyard in the center area. There would have been one door to enter the home, and through the door an enclosed porch area where the Lord would have been as he preached to the people. The roof of the flat would have been made of tiles.

The man whom the Bible calls a paralytic (sick of the palsy), was carried by friends to the home where Jesus was preaching. Since there was a massive crowd hindering this sick man’s friends ability to carry the paralytic near to the Lord, they made their way to the rooftop and began to break away those tiles and then lowered their sick friend to Jesus’ side. As a result of their faith the man was made whole.

What can we learn from this remarkable miracle? I only want to mention two things. First, we learn that there was one who was helpless; and second, there were some who were helpers. The helpless was obviously the paralytic. Anywhere he wanted to go, he had to be carried. Add to that, he had no ability to heal himself. Like the paralytic, there are countless souls in the communities in which we live who are helpless. They are lost in sin and do not have the ability to heal themselves (Micah 6:7; Eph. 2:8-9). Our job as Christians is to reach out to the helpless. 

Secondly, there were some who were helpers. Friends of the paralytic each took a corner of the bed upon which the sick man lay and carried him to be near the Lord. It’s obvious that the paralytic was not the only one who had faith that Jesus had the power to heal. The text says that he was healed because of “their” faith. Those who are lost in sin need Christians to be their friends. They need people like you and me who will care enough to show them the way to Jesus.

Let's help the helpless. Have a great day!

One researcher said that the average child laughs 150 times in a day. In contrast, the average adult only laughs 15 times a day.
Sometimes our lives become so serious that we forget to take time to laugh and enjoy life. Laughter does a body good, and it does something for the spirit of man as well.

Dennis Wholey, author of Are You Happy? reports that according to expert opinion, perhaps only 20 percent of Americans are happy (Our Daily Bread, October 11, 1994).

Speaking to the subject of happiness, the apostle Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). If anybody should be happy, it's a Christian. But, what makes Christians happy? 

Several years ago, while listening to a sermon on the topic of Christians and happiness, I wrote down the following items:

Having children makes Christians happy. “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Psa. 127:4,5).

The ability to work makes Christians happy. “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psa. 128:2).

Being obedient to God makes Christians happy. “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he” (Pro. 16:20).

Practicing compassion makes Christians happy. “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Pro. 14:21).

Learning to help others makes Christians happy. “If ye know these things [how to be a servant], happy are ye if ye do them” (Jn. 13:17).

Are you a happy Christian? If not, why not? God has given you reasons to rejoice.