The story was told about the old Indian poet who took one of his poems to the local preacher. It went like this:

Go on, go on, go on, go on,
     Go on, go on, go on, go on,
Go on, go on, go on, go on,
     Go on, go on, go on, go on,

I don't know, perhaps the poet felt like the preacher's sermons went on and on and on. One thing for sure about this poem though, it teaches that one should be persistent. 

Read the following statements about persistence.

"No one would have ever crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in a storm" (Charles Kettering).

"The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones" (a Chinese proverb).

"Failure is the path of least persistence."

"I'm a slow walker, but I never walk back" (Abraham Lincoln).

The Bible teaches us that we should be persistent in life. It took persistence for Moses to lead the Israelites to the border of the promised land. It took persistence for the Jews to rebuild the Temple and the Jerusalem walls. It took persistence for John the baptist to keep sharing the message of the coming Messiah, even to the point of death. It took persistence for Jesus to walk the streets of earth knowing that his human end would come on a cruel and lonely cross. 

As the apostle Paul challenged believers who were being led astray by those who denied the bodily resurrection, he said, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unlovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). In short, be persistent.

We're called to endure faithfully unto the end (Rev. 2:10). Remember, "stopping at third base adds no more to the score than striking out." So, keep running the bases. Run all the way home. Be stedfast unto heaven's door--which will be open to every faithful and persistent child of God.  

Have a great day!

Have you seen the commercials advertising for Ancestry.com? Every time that I watch those ads I want to sign up for their service to search out my family history. That kind of thing just fascinates me. I remember a few years ago being at Ellis Island in New York and seeing a book with the names of people who immigrated here years ago. There were four names in that book with the last name "Richey." I figure that they're my relatives.

This morning I read about a couple of guys that were talking about family histories when one of them said that he sure wished he knew more about his family heritage. He said, "I've always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can't afford to hire someone." He asked his friend if he had any suggestions. His buddy said, "Sure, I know an easy way to find out all about your family background. Just run for office."

If I decide to research my family tree, I think I'll just go down the website path.

Did you know that as Christians we have another incredible heritage. One that can be traced back with great accuracy? From Genesis to Acts we can read as the story of the faith unfolds from the creation of man to the appearance of Jesus the Christ on earth, to the birth of his church in the book of Acts. Then, we can read with great care how we can be part of that church, and be called Christians, tracing our spiritual family heritage back to Jesus. 

It makes for fascinating research. Too, you don't have to run for office and it doesn't cost you monthly internet fees. You probably have all the research material you need at home on a shelf--your Bible.

On these cold winter days, why not curl up with a good book and do some research on your "family tree." Be like those noble Berean's and search the Scripture (Acts 17:11). You'll be blessed by what you discover.

Have a great day!

Emily and I recently had a young man to the house for Sunday lunch. He's one of the people that I've been studying with, and one whom I believe is close to obeying the Gospel. 

After lunch, we talked about his work. During our conversation I was impressed by the courage and perseverant attitude that it takes to go door to door to develop a client book for his livelihood--financial investing. There have been occasions when folks have called the police on him to escort him out of their neighborhood. I thought it humorous when he would then ask the police officer about his retirement plan and if he was ready. When the officer said no, my friend would hand him a business card and say, "let's talk." 

As I listened to him I thought, that's just not for me. I'm not sure I could do what he does. Then it hit me, that's exactly what we do (or should). We should be looking for opportunities to share the greatest retirement plan ever. Then, when one door closes, we should be looking for the next opportunity.

Last night I met a fellow at a restaurant that recently moved to the area from FL. He's a chef at one of our local restaurants. He's quite religious and even has Bible studies in his backyard. I asked if I could join him. I gave him a card, invited him to church, and asked him to give me a call. 

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a guy at the gas station about the spiritual. One thing led to another and now we have a standing midweek Bible study every week. 

Several weeks ago I started studying with a young lady in prison. About a month into the study she told me about three girls on her block that would like to study as well. So, I will be meeting with them this week for our first Bible study. 

One of my neighbors is going through a hard time right now and so we've been helping her out when we can. She's quite busy so it's hard to nail down an opportunity to sit and study together. So, I asked her if she'd read a book for me and then let me know her thoughts. She agreed, and I gave her Muscle and a Shovel. She's been reading it, and so far has enjoyed it. I'm anxiously waiting for her to finish it up so we can talk. 

I'm sure you have similar stories, and may God bless you for what you're doing for His glory. The opportunities to share Jesus with people are all around us. We just have to take advantage of them.

The point of all this is to encourage us and challenge us to build up that "client book"--to borrow the terminology from my friend above. Anyone of us could be busy with Bible studies, and spiritual discussions on a regular basis if we would but take advantage of the opportunities that are put before us each week.  

Several years ago I heard the story of a fifteen-year-old Christian young lady who invited her best friend to attend a revival at her home congregation. Night after night the Gospel was preached, and night after night this young lady's heart was touched. Finally, on the last night of the series of lessons, the invitation was extended to folks to obey the Gospel. The friend of the Christian young lady went down the aisle in tears and said, "I want to be baptized for the remission of my sins." And, she was.

A few years later, she went to college, all the while being faithful to the Lord. She found a Christian man to marry. Shortly thereafter they had two children (one a boy and one a girl). The boy became a Gospel preacher--and as I recall from the story, he converted hundreds. The girl married a Gospel preacher and was a faithful companion to her husband. 

Hundreds or more souls were saved because one young lady had the courage to take advantage of an opportunity to bring a friend to Jesus.

Let's resolve to do the same. If we really love Jesus, and if we're really grateful for what He did for us (Jn. 3:16), then I think we will. 

Have a great day!

My Lord said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mt. 5:16). The best I can tell, there's no limitation to this. 

In other words, shining forth a good example is not restricted to the church building, or to Sunday service, or when just around church folks. Truth be told, where it's most important to let our lights shine is at home, on the job, at school, and even on social media sites. True Christianity radiates from within and is on display everywhere, and all the time. 

Question, do people know that you're a Christian? They shouldn't have to ask you. They should be able to witness it for themselves. 

William Barclay wrote:

Our Christianity should make a difference in the way we order a meal from a waitress or treat the shop assistant behind the counter.

Christianity should make a difference in the conscientiousness of our work, and in the courtesy with which we serve the public and in the consideration with which we live within our own homes.

Christianity is a full-time job. It's not a past time practiced only on Sunday. It demands our best behavior every day. 

George Bailey (not the "It's a Wonderful Life" guy) said, "Nothing is more contagious than an example." What kind of example are you setting? It's contagious. What are folks picking up from you? 

I hope you have a great day!

Years ago when Warren Sapp was describing his love and devotion for his coach, Tony Dungy, he said, "I would take a bullet for him--if it wouldn't kill me."

The Bible teaches us to be so devoted to Jesus and His cause that we'd be willing to die for Him. Perhaps you're familiar with Jesus' words written by John who said, "...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).

How do you know that you'd be willing to "take a bullet for Jesus"? You first have to be willing to live your life for Him. To be so lost in His cause that living your life as a voluntary self-sacrifice comes, well natural.

Here are a couple of passages that we should press upon our hearts:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but 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. 12:1-2).

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Mt. 16:24-25).

Have a great day living for Jesus!

This morning I read a funny story about a plumber who was called to a job in order to fix a leak. He looked at the suspect pipe, then grabbed his hammer and hit the pipe as hard as he could. The leak stopped! He handed the customer the bill which amounted to $250.35. 

Furious about this total the homeowner said, "You were here only two minutes and all you did was hit the pipe." So, the plumber itemized the bill as follows: "Wear and tear on the hammer--35 cents. Knowing where to hit--$250.00."

Experience is a great teacher, and paying attention to the sage advice of those who have been around the block a time or two can save us from a lot of personal turmoil. But, we have to be willing to listen.

The Bible tells us about one such man that listened to the wisdom of his father-in-law. Though wise and important to God's cause, he didn't know everything, nor was he too proud to accept input from others. The man to which I'm referring is Moses--God's deliverer. 

While leading Israel from the land of bondage to one of bounty, he was faced with many tasks. One of which was handling disputes between the Israelites. The Bible says, "And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening" (Ex. 18:13).

Jethro, his father-in-law, saw what was going on and said "...What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?...The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone" (Ex. 18:17-18).

One of the great lessons for us is to listen to those who have more wisdom than we do. Most of the time, when folks try to share with us it's not out of a desire to hear themselves talk, but because they care and want to help.

I hope you have a great day! 

The days of sitting, rocking, and talking on the front porch with a neighbor, friend, or even total stranger may be gone. However the need for visiting folks is just as important as it ever was. 

"Well, we don't have a visitation program in our church," someone says. Who says you need a program to do what should really just be part of your Christianity. "Easy for you to say, preacher. You're paid to visit." 

If I know my heart, I would be engaged in regular visitation even if I wasn't a preacher--in part because of my upbringing. I can't remember a time that my family and I didn't make regular visits to homes, hospitals, nursing homes, door knocking to set up Bible studies, and so on. 

It started with my childhood, and I've carried it through to the present, a heart for ministry--visiting.  There has rarely been a month (for the last many years, a week) go by where visitation and personal Bible studies have not been part and parcel to my life. I reckon that if I could have it both ways, I'd spend 100% percent of my work day studying, and the other 100% of it visiting and conducting Bible studies. :-) Most preachers would I suppose. Now one of my great joys is instilling this discipline in the hearts of my children.

There is a wonderful illustration of the need for visiting in Luke 10:25-37. It tells of a man who was overtaken by thieves. His clothes were stolen, his body beaten, and he was left for dead in the street. The first two who came upon the tattered and tired man were religious individuals--a priest and a Levite. The priest didn't stop. He never made eye contact. He may have even crossed the street to walk on the other side. The Levite, who also should have known better, stopped and stared, but then behaved like the priest and walked on the other side.

It wasn't until a Samaritan saw him and had compassion on him that the abused was "visited"--looked upon, inspected, and then taken care of. Notice the order of this "visit." The Samaritan (1) approached the man, (2) served the man, (3) cared for the man, and (4) cared for the man some more.

While that's fascinating, what comes next should really stir us. Jesus says, "...Go, and do thou likewise" (v. 36). 

Jesus wants us to visit. I can think of no greater gift you can give yourself, your family, a friend or neighbor this year than to share your love by making a visit. Think about it.

I hope you have a great day!

Did you know that your Bible keeps a diary? It does. 

Let me share with you some of the entries from one person's Bible.

Jan. 15 -- Been resting for a week. The first few nights after the first of the year, my owner read me regularly, but has forgotten me I guess.

Feb. 2 --Clean up. I was dusted, with other things and put back in my place.

Feb. 12 -- Owner used me for a short time after dinner, looked up a few verses. Went to Sunday school.

March 7 -- Clean up. Dusted and in my old place again.

April 2 -- Busy day. Owner led a devotional meeting and had to look up references. He had an awful time finding me.

May 5 -- In Grandma's lap all afternoon. She is here on a visit. She let a tear fall on Colossians 2:5-7.

May 6 -- In Grandma's lap again this afternoon. It's a comfortable spot. Sometimes she reads me and sometimes she talks to me.

May 10 -- Grandma's gone...

July 1 -- Packed in a trunk with clothes. Off on a vacation.

July 10 -- Still in the trunk; everything else has been out.

July 15 -- Home again, and in my old place. Quite a journey, though I do not see why I went.

October 10 -- Was carried to church today and held up to be counted. 

December 31 -- Tomorrow I expect to have a knife run into me by each member of the family, blindfolded in turn and then a finger placed upon a verse to find their good luck verse. (Suppose the finger rests on John 5:39?)

Since every Bible is keeping a journal, what do you suppose your Bible's journal says about your reading and study habits? Would it have a special entry for each and every day? Would it say, about you, that you are a regular Bible student? 

In just a few days, we'll kick off 2015. What if you made the decision now to start with a daily Bible reading plan. Don't wait until January 1st. Start the habit now. If you do, it's far less likely that you'll give it up just a few days into the new year. 

See that your Bible's diary has great entries all through the year.

Have a great day!

P.S. The Piedmont Road church of Christ has a Bible reading plan each year that can be found on the church's website (click here). Beginning January 1, 2015, we will have two plans. One plan is to read the Bible through in a year. The other plan is a monthly read through the New Testament. If you'd like one of these reading schedules, you'll be able to find it on the church website beginning in January. Or, if you're a member of the Piedmont Road church of Christ, you can pick the schedule up at the welcome table in the foyer.

Sain, Harold. Scrapbook No. 2: Sermon Supplements, Sermons in Rhyme, Sentence Sermons, Paragraph Sermons. 1st Edition. p. 5.

In a book I'm reading it shared the story about a family that was faced with some rather challenging news. It was discovered that the wife and mother of this family of four had a malignant tumor. The good news was that the doctors were convinced they could remove it and all would be well. However, it would be a long recovery.

Like many homes, the mother was the heart and soul of the family and was quite the homemaker. Due to her condition she was not going to be able to complete her normal duties, and her children were too small to pick up the slack. Her husband did all he could, but he also had to keep up with his responsibilities at work. Both his and her parents lived many miles away, so they were not able to help with the day to day chores. 

Thankfully, this good family were members of a great church that really cared for one another, just like family should. So, during the illness and recovery from surgery there was constant foot traffic around the house. Church members cooked meals, did laundry, took care of the yard, ran errands, and helped care for the kids. What a blessing!

When the woman healed from her surgery, one of the neighbors went over to visit with her and to ask about all the visitors she had during her time of difficulty. The woman explained what these folks were doing each day and told her neighbor that these people were part of her extended family--her church family. To which the neighbor replied, "I want to know more about this church. I want a family like that."

After months of study and visiting with the local church of Christ, the neighbor was baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of her sins and she thereby became a member of this extended family too.

Amazing what letting our light shine before others can do for our neighborhood, community, and the world a large. Come to think of it, that's precisely what Jesus taught us to do and the result will be to God's glory.

The Bible says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mt. 5:16). Is your light shining?

Have a great day!

Some folks just can't keep secrets. I'm not talking about betraying a confidence. I'm referring to something like wanting to give someone a gift, or do something special, and then just can't wait until "the appointed time." Something within you says, "I just can't hold out any longer. I have to give this gift". 

I have a tendency to be like that! Ask Emily. The anticipation and the excitement just kills me and I can't hold out any longer. I justify why it would be best to go ahead and "just do it." Are you ever like that? Or, is it just me?

This time of year is the worst. I wonder, have you already bought someone a gift, and instead of waiting until Christmas you just had to give it to them early?

In the New Testament we find Jesus saying "my time is not yet come." You know why? He and His Father were working together on a precious gift. They didn't want to give it early, they had to wait until just the right moment.

After the personal prayer service of Jesus in a lonely garden, interrupted by a so-called friend and a multitude carrying swords, it was time to give the gift. 

After the Lord's disciples forsook Him, the Bible says, "And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away . . ." (Mt. 26:57). The special "package" was then delivered.

Oh, this gift was anticipated from the beginning. But it wasn't the anticipation that killed the Giver. It was the death itself. That was the anticipated gift. 

Thanks be to God that He waited to give the perfect gift at just the right time. 

Today, if you have not accepted that gift, I hope you'll think about doing so. I'd love to share with you what the Bible says you must do to accept that gracious gift by faith. 

Have a great day!