Thursday, March 31, 2011

Watch Your Language

The power of speech is one of the greatest powers God has given us.  With the tongue, men can praise God, pray, preach the gospel, and lead the lost to Christ.  What a privilege!  What a challenge!  But with that same tongue he can tell lies that ruin another person’s reputation or break a person’s heart.  The ability to speak words is to possess the ability to influence others and accomplish great tasks.  Speech also possesses the ability to tear down, destroy, dishearten, and accomplish much evil.  It can be full of strengthening grace or it can be full of venomous poison.  It can ennoble one’s character; it can also taint it.  When we are careless with our tongues, we are being careless with our souls.  Christians are urged to always let their speech be characterized by grace (Col. 4:6).  There are several sins that can be committed with the tongue.

GOSSIP.  One reason why gossip is so destructive is the rate of speed with which it travels.  God warned Israel that they were not to be slanderers among the people (Lev. ).  A gossiper is often the source of the destruction of friendships (Prov. ; 17:9).  Superior people usually talk about ideas; average people talk about things; little people too often talk about others.  Some of God’s great soldiers have been shot in the back with the arrows of rumor, slander, and false charges.  “My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (Jas. ).

PROFANITY.  George Washington said, “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”  Television, radio, movies, videos, the printed page, and the internet are filled with the “verbal vomit” of people who have no respect for God or man.  What a tragedy!  Corrupt speech is not to exude from man’s mouth (Eph. ).

EUPHEMISMS.  These are words considered less offensive than profanity; nonetheless, they are just as wrong.  Some examples of euphemisms are: gosh, golly, gee, darn, doggone, heck, confounded.  Out of ignorance Christians sometimes use these words that are just as offensive to God as profanity.  In the judgment we shall give account of our speech (Mt. ).  Let us be careful that our speech is pure, seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Golden Opportunities

(The following appeared in a recent bulletin of the Huntingdon church of Christ, Huntingdon, TN.  The author is unknown.)

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” ( 2 Cor. 4:17).

In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway.  He hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.

Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.  Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables.  Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road.  After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.  After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.  The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many of us never understand.  Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Pathways and Two Destinies

The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.  The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
-       Proverbs 4:18-19

These words of Solomon place before us a vivid contrast between “the path of the righteous” and “the way of the wicked.”  They tell us that from God’s standpoint there are only two classes of people in the world --- the righteous and the wicked.  To which class do you belong?

The righteous are in the minority; the wicked are in the majority.  In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus stated that there would be many on the “broad way” that leads to destruction in contrast to the few on the “narrow way” that leads to life. 

The righteous are in the light; the wicked are in a state of darkness.  Christians are in the light because their source of light is Jesus (John ).  They have been translated out of darkness into light (Colossians -13).  The spiritual condition of every man who is without Christ is extremely dark and bleak (2 Corinthians 4:4).   

The path of the righteous gets brighter; the way of the wicked gets darker.  The experience of the Christian is that of walking in the light (1 John 1:7) which increases in brightness through the years.  In contrast, the wicked stumble because they are in the darkness. 

The righteous have a glorious prospect; the wicked have a terrible prospect.  The righteous await a home prepared for them by the carpenter of Israel (John 14:2-3).  The wicked have a bleak future ahead with no hope of escaping (Matthew ).  On which road are you traveling --- the road that has a glorious prospect, or the road that has a terrible prospect?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Power of Prevailing Prayer

It is said that the apostle James had knees that were worn hard by his constant habit of kneeling in prayer.  If this is true, we have the testimony of a man who had proven the power of prayer in his own life.  He practiced what he preached.  He wrote, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James , KJV).  The inference of these words is that there is a kind of prayer that avails little or nothing and could be described as ineffective, vain, and useless.  Perhaps you have felt at times that your prayers were ineffective or powerless.  Could your prayers have been characterized by the following?

      Prayer with a wrong motive cannot prevail.  Selfish prayer is the reason why some do not receive that for which they ask (James 4:3).  Maybe the reason why your prayers don’t prevail is because they are so self-centered that God is crowded out.  If sin is practiced, prayer cannot prevail.  If we knowingly harbor sin in our life, God will not hear us (Psalms 66:18). 

      An unforgiving spirit will hinder prayer.  “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15, ESV).  An unwillingness to be reconciled to another hinders prayer (Matthew 5:23-24).  Maintaining a proper relationship with a brother in Christ is a priority if we expect God to hear our prayers.  We cannot be right with God and remain estranged from our brethren. 

      A wrong family relationship hinders prayer (1 Peter 3:7).  If our relationship with members of our family is not all that it should be, prayer is obstructed.  When a husband and wife regularly join hands in prayer, they remain joined together in life.

      “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  May we take this admonition to our hearts and be encouraged to pray effectively to God’s glory!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Read A Book and Raise A Child

There is probably no job that requires more tact, wisdom, understanding, and love than the responsibility of raising children properly.  There are many ingredients that combine to make for a successful effort in child-rearing.  One ingredient is the administration of proper discipline.  The goal of parental discipline should be the eventual capability of self-discipline by the time a child reaches adulthood.  Perhaps it is in the area of discipline that many parents feel they have failed their children the most.

      I will have to admit that I possessed “wiser” insights into disciplining children before I became a parent.  To exercise proper discipline is not easy for parents.  My children are now grown and have families of their own, but I will probably never graduate from the “School of Fatherhood.”

      The subject of discipline provokes more discussion and the greatest differences of opinion among parents than just about anything else regarding parenting.  It is a subject that can create guilt problems for parents who have already raised their children.  It can also create frustration for parents who are in the process of raising theirs.  One thing for certain, you will not find all the answers to raising children by reading a book --- unless it is THE BOOK!  Permit me to share some principles of discipline that are found in the Bible.

      Discipline is a proof of parental love.  “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs , ESV).  Dr. James Dobson wisely wrote, parents should “…identify the rules well in advance; let there be no doubt about what is and is not acceptable behavior…Discipline and love are not antithetical; one is a function of the other” (Dare To Discipline, pg. 29).

      Don’t wait until it is too late before you decide to exercise discipline.  “Discipline your son while there is hope” (Proverbs ).  Some parents wait until the child has already established a rebellious spirit before deciding that discipline needs to be implemented.  By then “the twig is bent” and it is extremely difficult, though not impossible, to change the child.

      Proper discipline will not hurt a child.  “If you strike him with a rod, he will not die” (Proverbs ).  This passage is not recommending physical abuse; neither is it suggesting that physical punishment is the only method of child training.  However, parents need to understand that crying is not a barometer of pain and neither are tears an indication of successful discipline.

      Discipline is not a mechanism for releasing parental anger (Ephesians 6:4).  What exasperates children most is not discipline, but unjust accusations, unfair punishment, nagging, sarcasm, or short-fused anger.

      Parents, read God’s book and practice what it teaches.  It will make you a better parent.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Six Gallons Each Day

The television reports of the conflict that occurred a few years ago in Kuwait gave new insight into the biblical account of Israel’s exodus from Egypt in the days of Moses.  The scenes that were portrayed on television of what the Arabian desert is like helps us understand certain parts of the wilderness in which the Jews wandered for forty years. 

      One of the first news reports coming out of “Operation Desert Shield” told of an American general who instructed his soldiers to drink at least six gallons of water every day to avoid dehydration.  There was talk of transporting barges filled with fresh water to seaports just so the demands for water could be met.

      Using the figure of six gallons for each soldier each day, consider just how much water the Israelites in the Old Testament would have needed as they trekked across the wilderness for forty years.  Instead of the 50,000 soldiers the United States had in Saudi Arabia, Moses had 603,550 men of war with him in the Sinai Peninsula.  This number only included those “…from twenty years old and above—all who are able to go to war” (Numbers 1:3).  It did not include those from the tribe of Levi (22,000), the aged or infirm men, the wives most of them must have had, nor the children.  Assuming that 95% of the men were married and each had at least three children the total number that left Egypt would have exceeded three million.  If six gallons is a true figure (and who can argue with a general!), the daily requirement for the Israelites would have been 18,000,000 gallons of water each day for forty years!  When you consider the fact that water was needed for other purposes, including water for their animals, the numbers become astronomical.  Yet, “…they did not thirst when He led them through the deserts.  He made the water flow out of the rock for them; He split the rock, and the water gushed forth” (Isaiah 48:21).

      The miracles associated with the exodus of Israel from Egypt show how great our God is.  He who cared for them cares for us!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Repentance or Re-adjustment?

A man once went to the doctor complaining of an ulcer.  The doctor asked if there might be some undue stress in his life that would cause such a problem.  He answered, “Yes, I’m having an affair with a woman in another city.  I drive there twice a week in my old pick-up to see her and it keeps breaking down on the way home and I have to continually devise excuses to tell my wife why I am late.”  The doctor suggested that he needed to make some hard decisions about his personal priorities if he was to ever get well.  About six months later the patient came back completely cured.  The doctor asked if had made some change in his life.  The man replied, “Yup, got me a new pick-up.”

Many people try to solve their problems caused by sin with a re-adjustment rather than with repentance.  The major difficulty with that approach is that re-adjustment doesn’t solve anything; it only delays the consequences.  The message of Jesus is one of genuine repentance (Mt. 4:17) which is a change of heart that results in a change of life.  It requires openness and honesty with self and God.  Repentance is a direct challenge to man’s will power.  Perhaps that is the reason why it is not only a neglected command of God, but one that is among the hardest to obey.

How are you handling the sins of your life?  Are you repenting, or are you attempting some kind of re-adjustment?  Think about it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Have you ever been the victim of unjust criticism?  How did it make you feel?  Have you participated in carping criticism?  Have you noticed that some people seem to be born in the “objective case” and “kickative mood”?  They rarely see anything positive in anyone or anything.  They are forever complaining about or criticizing something.  They never seem satisfied.  Criticism is one of Satan’s major weapons to impede progress.  Criticism divides a man’s power and prevents his being a force for anything.  A saying that was often repeated by people of the previous generation was that if you punch a dog in the nose long enough, he will stop wagging his tail.  In other words, if you criticize a person long enough and severely enough it will eventually wear him down and discourage him from making real progress.  It has the effect of knocking all the gumption and power out of a person.

Criticism is something that we cannot avoid entirely, even when we may be doing the right thing.  In fact, sometimes people are criticized for doing the right thing by those who have no interest in righteous conduct.  Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy toward criticism is revealed in these words: “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.  I do the very best I know how, the very best I can and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.  If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter.  If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

Lincoln was right.  We need to rise above criticism and not allow it to prevent us from doing the right thing.  Rather than being guilty of unjust criticism, we need to be as complimentary as possible.  Compliments never hurt people; in fact, more people die from broken hearts than swelled heads. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Best Daddy That Ever Lived

The late Dwight L. Moody told the story of a man whose small son was dying of an incurable illness.  He held his father's hand, who asked him, "Son, you are not afraid of death, are you?"  The son replied, "I hate to leave you, but when I die I will go to heaven where Jesus lives."  "Yes, my son," said the heartbroken father.  The glazing eyes of the dying child sparkled as he gripped the hand he was holding, and with his last breath murmured, "When I get to heaven, the first thing I will do will be to walk right up to Jesus, and tell him, 'I had the best daddy that ever lived.'"

A great father sets a godly example before his children.  This provides a solid foundation for the child to emulate in his own life.  He loves them with all his heart and shows it by spending time with them.  He listens to them when they are young so they will talk to him when they are older.  He establishes some reasonable and clearly defined guidelines and limitations so they will learn to respect all authority.  Just as a mother bird pushes the young fledgling out of the nest that he may learn to fly, so a wise parent will prepare his child for the time in his life when he must stand on his own.  It hurts to see our children experience the bumps and knocks of life without interfering, but it has to be done.  It is necessary for their maturation.  The ultimate goal of parents is to work themselves out of a job. 

Perhaps the greatest and most difficult responsibility of fathers is that of leading their children.  To the child, a parent is the greatest person in the world, and he will follow the parent in whatever direction he is led.  A six-year-old child took a pair of scissors and cut off the hair on top of his head because he wanted a bald spot like his Daddy's.  He was later disappointed when his hair grew back and his Daddy's didn't.  Our children are wanting to follow our steps.  Where are we leading them?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Which Way?

A man visited New York City for the first time and became turned around and confused.  One evening during the rush hour, he stopped at a newsstand in the heart of Times Square and asked the vendor which direction was north.  “Look, buddy,” he replied in a loud and annoyed voice, “We got uptown, we got downtown, and we got cross-town.  We don’t got north.”

While that is poor English, it does depict our modern religious scene in America.  In far too many cases, religion has lost its bearing.  Some churches seem like enterprises, and others seem like concerts.  Still others seem caught up in ritualism or in displaying their righteousness before men.  One has to wonder where the cross is in all this.  Where is north?

New Testament Christianity is first and foremost centered on Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).  Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn. ).  Crucifixion on a cross was meant by the Romans to be a horrible and shameful death, reserved for the vilest criminals.  While the Lord’s crucifixion was the darkest moment in the annals of human history, it was the brightest moment in divine history in making human redemption possible.  Without it we would have no hope, only gloom and despair.

We must go back to the cross and stand firm, not moved by the culture of our day or the pressure to compromise our faith for popularity.  We must not give in to any substitution of the Christian faith.  It is the death of Christ that should be emphasized, not entertainment, social reforms, political interests, or business ventures.  It is the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified that is the attraction force that brings men out of a life of sin into a life of righteousness.  The Lord did not come to take men out of the slums, but to take the slum out of men. 

More Is Better?

The television commercial portrayed a young family looking wistfully at a pleasure boat.  The problem was that they didn’t have enough money to purchase the boat.  It was at this point that a particular bank was mentioned as the institution that would provide the needed money to the family through a generous loan.  The next scene depicted the happy family driving off in their car pulling the newly purchased pleasure boat.  Then the statement was made that “more is better” and for one to come and borrow the money from this bank in order to buy whatever one desired.  But, is more, better?  Not necessarily so.

It seems that in every age there are those who equate happiness with material possessions.  Yet Jesus warned against this idea when he said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke ). 

We all need to learn that material wealth can never bring satisfaction even if we had enough money to purchase everything that our hearts desired.   Solomon illustrates this truth.  He had everything a person could hope for in the way of material gain; yet, when viewed from the perspective of eternity he wrote that material prosperity was vain and a mere grasping for the wind; that there was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11). Later, from the deep reservoir of his own experience, he wrote the following, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase.  This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).  More is not always better.  The possession of material things does not insure peace of mind, contentment, and happiness. Such is obtained only by having a right relationship with God.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The High Cost of Low Living

A chameleon, that lizard-like mocker, can change its colors to meet its surroundings.  Sin is like that.  Such subtlety with regard to sin has overwhelmed many casual souls.  Sin is dangerous because the Devil is shrewd and man is gullible.

The Devil causes sin to have a certain allure, but those who nibble at the bait are never really satisfied.  The pleasures of sin are deceptive, temporary, high-priced and eternally a poor bargain.  They only produce remorse, corruption and heartache.

The entrance gate to a parking lot opens quickly and one is able to enter without paying, but there is a price to be paid at the exit,  In like manner, the gate quickly opens for the first cigarette, or that chew of tobacco, that first beer, or that first act of sexual immorality, but it could cost an arm and a leg, or a heart and a lung.  You could end up paying the maximum cost – your life and your soul.  Sin hides the truth and makes promises that are never kept.  Sin is a dead-end street and a hollow, empty, senseless shell.

Let us not be deceived into thinking that just because there is no price at the entrance, there will be no price at the exit.  We need to pay attention to Paul’s words to the Galatians in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”  Indeed, there is a high cost to low living.  The pleasures of sin are just not worth the price that has to be paid.  However, the joys of Christianity are too glorious to miss.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Quickly the Gate Opens

An old farmer from the country went to the big city hospital to visit a dear friend.  He was told he would have to park in the visitor’s parking lot.  He was surprised when he drove up to the entrance that the little gate lifted immediately.  He drove right in and parked his car in the shade.  He made his visit, returned to his car and drove to the exit, but it didn’t open.  It required money to get out.  He paid the fare and mumbled to himself as he drove away, “Maybe they changed my oil and rotated my tires while I was there.”

This example accurately illustrates sin.  It is so easy to get involved in sin and is very difficult to get out from under a sinful lifestyle.  Habits are easy to start and so difficult to break.  Satan has always said you can get in now and pay later.  Not only does he get the original price back, but with higher interest.  The momentary, fleeting pleasure of sin is all the bait the Devil needs with some people.  Many people sink into the quagmire of evil without realizing how deadly Satan’s slimy pit can be.  The apostle Paul warned us about being outwitted by Satan and admonished us not to be ignorant of his designs (2 Cor. 2:11, ESV).

Monday, March 14, 2011


(The following is taken from an article written by Mike Underwood and has been edited for the sake of brevity)

It sounds terrible, doesn't it?  Well, it is!  It is a disease that destroys the nervous system of the human body.  In other words, if a person has this disease he can't feel pain, his nerves aren't allowed to send messages to the brain to tell it that some part of the body is in pain.  WOW!  That sounds like a great disease to have, doesn't it?  Wouldn't it be nice not to ever have to experience pain again?  When the doctor gave us a shot - no problem.  Dental office visits would become just a time of relaxation in a comfortable laid back chair.  Broken hips, contractions, busted lips, dog bites, bee stings, sitting on the practical joker's tack - all become as painless as eating cotton candy.  But at what cost?  What would happen if a person who had this disease laid his hand on a hot stove?  He wouldn't feel the pain, but the hand would still burn and infection would eventually set in.  Or what if he got cut on the back of his leg and never knew it?  If the cut was bad enough he could bleed to death without ever knowing he was injured.

I don't know anyone who has this disease in the body.  But there are many who have ganglioneuropathy of the soul.  It doesn't bother them or hurt them when they sin.  Oh, it used to hurt.  It would pain their conscience something terrible.  But now that this disease has set in, nothing seems to bother them any more.  The wound caused by missing worship services has long been calloused.  It doesn't hurt any more when they use the Lord's name in vain.  Telling a lie is just as natural as breathing anymore.  The conscience has been seared over as with a hot iron (1 Tim. 4:2).

Some might think this is a great disease - not having to feel guilt anymore.  But, again we must ask the question, "At what cost?"  If sin no longer bothers you, then spiritual ganglioneuropathy is fatal.  CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN (Mk. 2:17). 
Don't let your soul's "nervouse system" be destroyed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Love of God

        The grandest truth in inspiration was penned by the apostle Paul, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Before He suffered one of the most horrible deaths known to man, Jesus was ridiculed, mocked, spat upon, and beaten; yet He endured all of it for the joy of redeeming man from the penalty of sin (Heb. 12:2).  Such deep love is incomprehensible to finite man.  Frederick Lehman tried to capture its depth in a song he wrote entitled, “The Love of God.”  Verse three was written by someone else and was penciled on the wall of a narrow room in an insane asylum by a man said to be demented.  The profound lines were discovered when they laid him in his coffin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"I Can Sleep When the Wind Blows"

        Years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast.  He constantly advertised for hired hands.  Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic.  They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.
        As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals.  Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer.  “Are you a good farm hand?” the farmer asked him.  “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man.
        Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him.  The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.
        Then one night the wind howled loudly as it blew from offshore.  Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters.  He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up!  A storm is coming!  Tie things down before they blow away!”
        The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir.  I told you I can sleep when the wind blows.”  Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot.  Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm.
        To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins.  The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred.  The shutters were tightly secured.  Everything was tied down.  Nothing could blow away.  The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.
        When you’re prepared spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear.  Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life?
        The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm.  We secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves in the Word of God.  We don’t need to understand everything; we just need to hold His hand to have peace in the middle of storms.  Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jn. 14:27).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just A Mouse Story

        A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.  “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered.  He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.  Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse sounded the warning.  “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me.  I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house!  There is a mousetrap in the house!”  The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray.  Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house!  There is a mousetrap in the house!”  The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse.  I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap--alone.  That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.  The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught.  In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.  The snake bit the farmer’s wife.  The farmer rushed her to the hospital.  After treatment she was returned home, but she developed a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.  But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock.  To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died.  So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.  The mouse looked upon it all with great sadness from his crack in the wall.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember – when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.  We are all involved in this journey called life.  Remember, each of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry; our lives are woven together.  The Bible says, “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself” (Rom. 14:7).

It Was Only A Quarter

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted the invitation of a church in Houston, Texas to be their minister.  Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area.  When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change.  As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, "You'd better give the quarter back.  It would be wrong to keep it."  Then he thought, "Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter.  Who would worry about this little amount?  Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it.  Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet."

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, "Here, you gave me too much change."  The driver, with a smile, replied, "Aren't you the new preacher in town? I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship.  I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change.  I'll see you at church on Sunday."

When the preacher stepped off the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, "Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter." 
Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is an example of how much people watch us as Christians and will put us to the test!  Always be on guard and remember that you carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself "Christian."

Watch your thoughts; they become words.  Watch your words; they become actions.  Watch your actions; they become habits.  Watch your habits; they become your character.  Watch your character; it
becomes your destiny.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How To Stop Church Gossip

Matilda, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Several members did not approve of her extra curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.  She made a mistake, however, when she accused Frank, a new member, of  being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told Frank (and several others) that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing.  Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny... he said nothing.

Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Matilda's house...walked home...and left it there all night!

You gotta love Frank!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Encouragement, Thou Art A Jewel

Little Johnny comes home from school with his report card in hand and a big smile on his face.  You know it must be good by just observing his body language.  Sure enough, you open it up and see that he has received straight “A’s.”  You are so proud of him and you tell him so.  You pat him on the back and perhaps take him out for a special treat at his favorite eating place.

        Tim has excelled in basketball and is the star player on his school team.  He leads them to the tournament championship.  You commend him for his superb play and remind him that the team probably could not have done so well without him.

        All parents like to see their children achieve well in school and in the sports arena.  We find it a pleasure to encourage children like Johnny and Tim who do so well.  But, wait a minute!  Is this encouragement or mere praise?  Suppose Johnny didn’t bring home straight “A’s.”  Suppose Tim played in a losing cause instead of winning the championship?  Would we have been just as quick to compliment them?  It’s my observation that there is a difference between praise and encouragement.  Praise says that I am proud of you for what you do.  Encouragement says that I am proud of you for who you are.  Praise leaves the subtle message to children that they have to excel in order to receive parental commendation.  If they don’t perform well, their parents will remain silent.  On the other hand, encouragement conveys respect and appreciation to children even though they may not finish at the top.  This builds character and confidence.  As a parent, do you encourage your children, or do you praise them only when they excel?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

O the Depth and the Riches

One of the most familiar and best-loved parables the Lord told is that of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15).  It is a story replete with rebellion, desperation, ingratitude, immorality, rejection and, above all, genuine love and the reconciliation it produced.  A father’s youngest son demanded his inheritance before his father even died.  He ungratefully took the money, went to another country, threw off parental restraints and “squandered his estate with loose living” (Lk. 15:13).  His older brother accused him of devouring it with harlots (Lk. 15:30).  When his money ran out and a severe famine occurred his so-called friends abandoned him as well.  He was reduced to the lowly and despicable task of feeding pigs.  He became so hungry that he even desired to eat food the pigs ate.  Fortunately, he came to realize his sad plight and determined to return home.  While he was still some distance from home his father recognized him and ran to meet him, embraced him and kissed him.  The father brought the best robe and put it on him, signifying that he was receiving him back with honor.  He put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet indicating that he was being received as a master and heir, not a slave.  In the parable Jesus was painting a mental picture of God’s great love for sinful men who are penitent.

        Parents would do well to emulate that kind of tender and compassionate love for their children.  It would eliminate child abuse, hateful speech, inconsiderate “put-downs,” and other forms of mistreatment.  Children function much better where there is an environment of genuine affection and love.  Their behavior may not always be what we parents would desire, but we should love them anyway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You're "Gonna" Mess Up

A poor farmer had reached the “end of his rope” and he was in hopeless financial straits.  His crops had failed and there was no money left to feed his family or keep up the farm.  He had no more credit left.  He decided that the only thing he could do was rob a bank.  Desperate measures to be sure, but he was a desperate man.  He had never robbed a bank before, but he drew up a plan.  He found an old rusty pistol, a bag to put the money in, and wrote a note which said, “Don’t mess with me; this is a stick up.”  He was very nervous as he entered the bank.  He went up to the teller’s window, gave the teller his gun and said, “Don’t stick with me; this is a mess up.”

        Most parents can identify with the farmer’s nervousness.  In one way or another, all of us “mess up” from time to time.  We try hard not to make a mistake, but invariably our humanness evidences itself and we foul up.  Children are usually pretty resilient and are able to handle the mistakes parents make provided there is a consistently good example set before them.  Typically, they learn far more from our lifestyle than they do our words.  God complimented Abraham when He said concerning him that he would “command his children after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice” (Gen. 18:19, NASV).  Like every parent, there were times when he “messed up,” but he was a good parent and a devoted servant of God.  You can be a good parent as well, even though you occasionally mess up, provided you set before your children a consistent godly example for them to follow.