Tuesday, April 19, 2011


(This story first appeared in an old issue of Sports Illustrated, then published in Glad Tidings, and later appeared in the bulletin of the Huntingdon church of Christ.)

      The game was played in Wellington, Florida.  In it, a seven-year-old first baseman, Tanner Munsey, fielded a ground ball and tried to tag a runner going from first to second base.  The umpire, Laura Benson, called the runner out, but young Tanner immediately ran to her side and said, “Ma’am, I didn’t tag the runner.”  Umpire Benson reversed herself, sent the runner to second base, and Tanner’s coach gave him the game ball for his honesty.

      Two weeks later, Laura Benson was again the umpire and Tanner was playing shortstop when a similar play occurred.  This time Benson ruled that Tanner had missed the tag on a runner going to third base, and she called the runner safe.  Tanner looked at Benson and without saying a word, tossed the ball to the catcher and returned to his position.

      Benson sensed something was wrong.  “Did you tag the runner?” she asked Tanner.  His reply, “Yes.”  Benson then called the runner out.  The opposing coaches protested until she explained what had happened two weeks earlier.  “If a kid is that honest,” she said, “I have to give it to him.”

      It may be that no Christian characteristic has suffered more in our society than honesty.  It’s lacking in the workplace, it’s lacking in many of our marriages, it’s lacking in our government, and sometimes it’s even lacking in our churches.  Like Diogenes of ancient Greece, we sometimes feel the urge to take our lantern and begin our search for an honest man.

      There is something about Christians that should stand out like a neon sign on a dark night.  Jesus wants His people to be known as a people of truth.  We should establish a reputation, like Tanner, for speaking the truth even when it would benefit us to do otherwise.  Then, and only then, will those around us trust what we say without hesitation, without wondering whether or not we really mean what we say.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Several years ago there was an elementary teacher named Mrs. Thompson who greeted her fifth grade class on the first day of school.  Seated on the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.  Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.  And Teddy could be unpleasant.  In the passing days her frustration with Teddy grew to the point that she actually took delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

The school where she taught required the teachers to review each child’s past records.  She put Teddy’s off until last.  However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.  At first Teddy’s teachers gave him a glowing report, but things got progressively worse.  Teddy’s mother was seriously ill and finally died when he was in the third grade.  His fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.  He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself.  She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s.  His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery store.  Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.  Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume.  But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.  Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.”  After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.  On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Instead, she began to teach children.  Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.  The more she encouraged him the faster he responded.  By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.  Teddy went on to graduate from high school, third in his class.  Four years later he graduated from college with the highest of honors.  He continued his schooling until he received a medical degree.  Through the years he kept in touch with Mrs. Thompson assuring her that she was the best teacher he ever had.

One spring Mrs. Thompson received a letter from Teddy saying that he had met this girl and they were going to be married.  He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.  Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.  And guess what?  She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.  And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.  They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me.  Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”  Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back, “Teddy, you have it all wrong.  You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference.  I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”  Are you making a difference in someone else’s life?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Home

The home is the foundation of our society.  As the home goes, so goes the nation.  If moral, ethical, and spiritual values are well entrenched in the home, the nation exists on a sure foundation.  A nation’s strength is not in its military might, its economic vitality, or its system of government, but in its practice of righteousness.  Solomon declared by the inspiration of God, “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. ).  Instruction in right and wrong conduct should clearly be taught in the home.  The right should be upheld and the wrong should be opposed.  Honesty, morality, proper treatment of others, justice, and integrity needs to be ingrained in children.  Cruelty, lying, immorality, disrespect, and injustice should be opposed.

What are some things we need to do to strengthen our homes and make them a productive and happy environment?  I know it may sound trite and “politically incorrect” to some people, but family devotions in which spouses, parents, and children read the Bible and pray together would go a long way toward stabilizing the home.  A nation upon its knees in prayer and Bible study is the most awe-inspiring and powerful force in the world.  The devil trembles when he sees this happening.  A greater emphasis on the Bible in the home will improve husband-wife relationships and parent-child relationships, as well.  It would develop a healthy respect for the law and enable us to have the wisdom to pass laws that would be just.

A four-fold platform for the health of any nation is related in 2 Chron. 7:14: humility, prayer, seeking God, and turning from its wicked ways.  No mention is made of armament, financial power, intellectual prowess, or material prosperity.  In the words of a Frenchman, “America is great because America is good; when she ceases to be good she will cease to be great.” 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Abortion's Impact

Several years ago a panel of Florida judges upheld a $108,800 fine against a man who poached 1088 turtle eggs from a state park.  The public defender argued that an egg isn’t a turtle until it hatches; but the prosecutor affirmed that 80-90% of marine turtle eggs are fertile, and therefore each egg must be considered a unit of marine life.  The judges agreed with the prosecutor and fined the man $100 for each egg poached!  It is legal lunacy to argue that laws protecting unhatched marine turtles are perfectly alright, but laws protecting the life of unborn humans are unconstitutional.

Consider this: more Americans have died because of abortion than have died in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, both World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan combined!  More babies are killed every day in America than the total number of people killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Where is the outrage?  Why isn’t there an enormous public outcry over such an immense loss of life?  A most perplexing aspect of this is that so many people who support abortion oppose capital punishment.  How can people demand that killing an innocent unborn child is legal and out of the same mouth argue that executing convicted murderers should be outlawed?  Groups like the National Organization of Women and the ACLU support the continued legalization of abortion on demand and oppose the death penalty.  They argue that since life begins at birth it is not the taking of human life to abort an unborn child.  The Bible affirms differently in Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 1:41.  Human life begins in the womb and to abort a child before birth is the shedding of innocent blood and that, the Lord hates (Proverbs ).

Try as one might to justify this barbaric practice, abortion does not meet God’s approval.  Friends, when we can open a newspaper or turn on a television and learn of people protesting the execution of convicted murderers and rapists while “protecting” a woman’s “right to choose,” we have it all backwards.  May God help us to stop calling evil good and good evil before it is too late.  To prevent an unwanted pregnancy, stop engaging in immoral activity!  There are other alternatives besides abortion for those who find themselves in an unwanted pregnancy.  God’s mercy is extended to those who may seek his forgiveness for their lack of mercy when they aborted a child.  Abortion is wrong, but God is merciful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Some people’s idea of forgiveness involves merely overlooking a matter, at least for a short period of time.  They “bury the hatchet,” but leave the handle sticking out just in case they need to resurrect the matter that supposedly has been forgiven.  They leave a matter buried as long as it is to their advantage to do so, but are quick to recall it when they feel they can use it as leverage.  In such cases, true forgiveness has not taken place.

Thankfully, God doesn’t treat man in that fashion when He forgives him of sin; otherwise, we would forever be under the condemnation of an omniscient God.  Jeremiah prophetically pointed to the forgiveness provided man through Jesus Christ when he spoke of our sins and iniquities no longer being remembered by God (Jer. 31:31-34).  The inspired writer of Hebrews declared the basis for divine forgiveness when he said, “Apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).  Jesus shed His blood at Calvary to become man’s sin bearer.  We deserve eternal condemnation in the eternal flames of hell, but obedient man does not suffer that fate because of God’s mercy.  We appropriate the blood of Jesus when we are buried with Him in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4).  Baptism is the culminating action of obedience that washes away our sins (Acts 22:16).

There is a direct relationship between our receiving forgiveness from God and our willingness to forgive our fellowman.  If we don’t forgive those who wrong us, neither will God forgive our sins against Him (Mt. 6:14-15).  Forgiveness lifts heavy burdens from life; whereas, harboring malice and ill-will compounds problems rather than solves them.  Forgiveness involves forgetfulness and no longer resurrects old wounds.  Is there someone in your background whom you have not forgiven?  If so, such an attitude will do you more harm than the other person.

Wisdom From Above

In the entrance hall of Rockefeller Center in New York City there are four large murals that depict the progress of mankind.  The first painting is a picture of primitive man laboring with his hands in an attempt to survive in his alien environment.  In the second scene, he has become the inventor of tools, and the comforts of his civilization are multiplying.  The third mural shows man to be both master and servant of the machine, and the vast forces of the material world are under his direction and control.  The last picture shows Christ delivering the Sermon on the Mount, and reaching up toward Him are struggling masses of men, women, and children.  Underneath the mural are these words:

Man’s ultimate destiny depends not on
whether he can learn new lessons or make new
discoveries or conquests, but on his
acceptance of the lesson taught him close to
2,000 years ago.

This is the artist’s way of saying that true wisdom for man is adjustment to, and acceptance of, God’s revealed truth.  It lies in seeing himself, the creature, in right perspective to God, the Creator, and in acting accordingly.  Truly, we must seek the qualities possessed by Christ Himself who is “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. ).

Friday, April 8, 2011


Jealousy is a work of the flesh (Gal. -21) which is ruinous to the character of man.  It is a sin of disposition which is both mean and wicked.  The difference between jealousy and envy is that jealousy fears to lose what it has while envy is pained at seeing another have.  Both are a malicious spirit that seeks to deny or destroy the good it sees in others.  Solomon declared that “…jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance” (Prov. ).

Man’s history is clouded with fits of jealousy that have wreaked havoc.  Cain was jealous of his brother Abel and murdered him (Gen. 4:1-8).  Sarah’s jealousy of Hagar motivated her to treat Hagar harshly (Gen. 16:1-6).  King Saul’s jealousy of David blinded him to the admirable qualities David possessed which could have been utilized for the benefit of the nation of Israel (1 Sam. 18:8-30).  The brother of the prodigal son was unable to rejoice in the recovery of his fallen brother because of jealousy (Lk. -32).

Jealousy has no cultural, racial, social or economic barriers.  It has afflicted all people and been the ruin of many.  It has divided families, destroyed friendships, ruined health, split churches and afflicted many preachers.  Jealousy acts as a wedge to destroy harmony and unity between preachers and elders, the elders and the congregation, as well as between fellow elders.  Indeed, it has a destructive power about it that is difficult to overcome.  “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Prov. 27:4).  The apostle James stated that “…where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (Jas. ).

Jealousy is a manifestation of spiritual immaturity (1 Cor. 3:3).  It will dwarf, wither, and shrivel the soul and fill one’s life with hatred and bitterness and make life miserable and wretched.  To love is to rejoice in another’s good and to seek his welfare; this is Godlike.  To be filled with jealousy is to have the murderous hatred of Cain who slew his brother; this is satanic.  Be Godlike!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Status of Marriage Today

Literature is saturated with articles describing the plight of the American style of marriage and family.  From many different sources editors, educators, sociologists, anthropologists, politicians, and ministers are voicing their concern.  If one is not convinced that difficulties exist, he has not been reading, or has not been in touch with people, or is an idealist!

People today are concerned about marriage and the family.  Changes are taking place in the family structure and in the permanency of marriage.  It has been said that “throwaway marriages” have become part of the fabric of American society.  Divorce is now in the background of most people.

The attitude that many take toward marriage was heard in the office of a marriage counselor when a young woman said, “When I got married I was looking for an ideal, but I got an ordeal and now I want a new deal!”  A cartoon in the Los Angeles Times pictured a preacher performing a wedding, and instead of the usual, “till death do you part,” he said, “till divorce do you part.”  This is not entirely unreal.

As a consequence of the breakdown of this social institution, people are groping, more or less blindly, to find alternatives to marriage.  Living together without marriage, living in communes, extensive child care centers, serial monogamy (with one divorce after another), new divorce laws which do away with the concept of guilt – have all been tried as alternatives and, alas, have been found wanting.

The problem is not with the institution of marriage; it lies with the individuals who enter that relationship and their attitudes toward it and one another.  There is another alternative to the problems of marriage other than the ones which have already been suggested and it is this, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalms 127:1).  Building our marriages on the principles set forth in the Bible will contribute to the permanency and joy of the home.  For too long many have turned to other sources than the Bible for guidance in the establishment and maintenance of the home.  Read the Bible, pray, and worship God together.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daily Bread: Unashamed of the Gospel

Daily Bread: Unashamed of the Gospel: "The vast efforts of the apostle Paul at preaching the gospel took him to many cities and villages throughout the world. One city to wh..."

Unashamed of the Gospel

The vast efforts of the apostle Paul at preaching the gospel took him to many cities and villages throughout the world.  One city to which he had not traveled when he wrote the book of Romans was Rome.  His failure, however, was not due to any embarrassment he felt regarding the message or his role in proclaiming it.  He wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. ). 

The word “gospel” is an encompassing word which includes the virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, powerful resurrection, and promised second coming of Christ.  It is the good news of all that God has done for the salvation of lost man.  It refers to every aspect of the Christian life regulated in the New Testament.  Some viewed this message as foolishness and were ashamed of it (1 Cor. ).  Paul was not among them.  He was not ashamed of the source of the gospel (God), its subject (Christ), its revealer (the Holy Spirit), nor of the high ideals and philosophy of life held out by the gospel.  He was not ashamed of the hope or goal of the gospel (eternal life).  Though such may be demeaned and ridiculed by the undiscerning, there is no justifiable reason why Christians should be apologetic of the gospel of Christ.  Wherever it is proclaimed, this gospel is charged with power.  It creates faith, reveals God’s righteousness, brings fulfillment of hope, and intervenes in the lives of men.  Paul had seen the gospel bring a man to his knees in Philippi, turn a demented girl into a rational person, purify a wicked and corrupt people in Corinth, and establish congregations all over Asia and Europe.  He had literally seen the gospel turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6)!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Then?

(The writer of the following is unknown.)

When all the great plants of our cities
   Have turned out their last finished work;
When our merchants have sold their last yard of silk,
   And dismissed the tired, weary clerk;
When our banks have taken in their last dollar
   And declared their last dividend;
When the Judge of the world says, "Closed for the night,"
   And asks for a balance - WHAT THEN?

When the chorus has sung its last anthem
   And the preacher has said his last prayer;
When the people have heard their last sermon
   And the sound has died out on the air;
When the Bible lies closed on the altar
   And the pews are all empty of men,
When we all stand facing the record
   And the Great Book is opened - WHAT THEN?

When the actor has played his last drama
   And the mimic has made his last fun;
When the film has flashed its last picture
   And the billboard displayed its last run;
When the crowds seeking pleasure have vanished,
   And gone out into darkness again,
When the Trumpet of all Ages is sounded
   And we all stand before God - WHAT THEN?

When the bugle's last call sinks in silence
   And the long, marching columns stand still;
When the Captain has given his last orders,
   And they've captured the last fort and hill,
When the flag has been hauled from the masthead,
   And all wounded soldiers have checked in;
When a world that rejected its Savior,
   Is asked for a reason - WHAT THEN?