Monthly Archives: October 2009

The church built by Christ

    One of the most interesting observations one makes as he studies the Bible is God’s “consistency.”  For example: God has always placed water between His people and the people of the World. Flood waters between Noah and the people of the world; the waters of the Red Sea between His people and the Egyptians; the waters of the Jordan River was all that separated His people from the Promised Land; and today, the waters of baptism. Consider the number “3.” There are three dispensations: Patriarchal, Mosaic, and the Christian dispensation, which is the last (Hebrews 9:26); there is the Godhead consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; man consists of the body, soul and spirit. Also, 50 days after being set free from Egyptian bondage, the Law of Moses was given, and 50 days after the Resurrection, when we were set free from the bondage of sin, the Law of Christ was given.  When we are aware of God’s consistency, we can learn a great deal about how God works.

    Consider the Ark of Noah, and the church built by Christ. Noah’s ark was made of one material, gopher wood. Christ church is made of one material, living stones (1Peter 2:5).  There was only one door into the Ark, and only one door into the church (John 10:9).  In the flood that destroyed the world, only one family was saved, Noah’s family. In the fire that will one day destroy the world, only one family will be saved, Christ’s family, His church (1Timothy 3:15).

    It is most important to understand that all those saved in Noah’s day were in the Ark. Likewise, all those who shall be saved in the final destruction of this earth (2Peter 3:10), will be in the Lord’s church.

    God told Noah that if he wanted to be saved, he would have to get into the Ark and stay there.  Likewise, we have to get into the Lord’s church and stay there. The only way to get into the Lord’s church is for God to add you to it (Acts 2:47). He will do that when you hear His word, believe it, and obey it (Acts 2:38-41).

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The times we live in

IN THEIR BOOK, “WHY ME?”, Pesach Krauss and Morrie Goldfisher tell a story about two men who cut down an aged hardwood… 
The woodcutter’s observations about the inner rings within the old tree are compelling:
“…I sometimes tell patients the parable about the two wood choppers who had taken down a tree that was over one hundred years old.  Looking at the growth rings to determine the tree’s age, the younger man noticed that there were five very narrow rings.  He concluded that there had been a five-year-drought, during which the tree had shown very little growth.  However, the other lumberman, a wise, old man with a philosophical bent, had a different viewpoint.  He contended that the dry years actually were the most significant in the tree’s history.  His reason: Because of the drought, the tree had to force its roots down further to get the water and the minerals it needed.  With a strengthened root system, it was able to grow faster and taller when conditions improved”/1
1.  All of us inevitably experience “dry years” at some juncture in our lives“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  Like the apostle Paul, we can identify with those occasional periods of trouble and burden; they are an inescapable part of the human condition (cf. Job 14:1; 2 Corinthians 12:7).
2.  “Dry years” tend to be intense, but limited in duration“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17; cf. Romans 8:18).  In a manner of speaking, a part of what I hear Peter and Paul saying is that while a five-year drought is harsh and difficult to tolerate, it eventually comes to an end.  (Mike Benson)
1/ Pesach Krauss and Morrie Goldfisher, “A Time of Trouble Is a Time To Grow,” WHY ME? — Coping with Grief, Loss, and Change, 71.
“Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:23-28).

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"A Really Good Scare"

Halloween survey – take a moment to vote in the Halloween poll:

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Halloween seems to be getting more ghoulish?  The holiday now ranks as the second most lucrative in terms of retail sales, and is commonly ranked as the second favorite day of the year (trailing only Christmas and well ahead of Thanksgiving).  Displays of costumes, decorations and candy can be seen in stores weeks ahead of the October 31 date.  In the city where I live there is an entire store that opens only for the weeks ahead of the date.

I’m not bothered by the fascination with dress-up and collection of candy that is so typically Halloween.  But I am disturbed by the increasing focus on death and gore.  Films play in theaters which are absolutely graphic.  (I base this on movie trailers and reviews since I don’t personally view such movies.)  Haunted houses are much more than ghosts jumping out to shout “Boo!”  Deranged killers bearing chain saws and bloody axes are staples of these live (?) experiences.

What are we to conclude?  That people just enjoy a really good scare now and then?  Glenn Sparks, professor of communication at Purdue University, admits that there are many who fall into that category.  But many don’t.  He offered this advice in a 2006 interview: “Take
your apprehension seriously. Some people may have not been able to cope well with previous scares. Being spooked can result in unwanted
and obtrusive images that can leave someone shaken and can even disrupt important activities such as getting a good night’s sleep.”

Powerful thoughts can be implanted into impressionable minds during Halloween events.  Are these the kinds of thoughts we ought to
entertain?  Paul wrote about the importance of placing our minds under the Lordship of Jesus Christ: “For the weapons of our warfare are not
carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).  Aggressive action is what Paul describes, seeking to drive out evil thoughts and to replace them with godly ideas.

How did Paul arrive at the notion that some thoughts ought to be conquered?  Likely he learned it from Jesus.  Hear what the Savior said about our thoughts in Luke 11:34,35: “The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.”

Does it not sound to  you as if Jesus is urging us to be careful about  the things we allow into our minds?  Will scenes of carnage and mayhem, staples of Halloween films, have an effect on the way we think?

As children we often sang this truth: “O be careful little eyes what you see.”  Turns out this is needed advice for adults, too.  Hear it once more, this time from David, a man after God’s own heart: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me” (Psalm 101:3).  No, if we don’t allow our eyes to gaze upon disturbing scenes, they will not cling to us.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like
to discuss these ideas further.

Timothy D. Hall

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At Niagara Falls is a spot where a young lady lost her life in folly.  The scene was breathless, and she wanted a souvenir.  She leaned over the brink above the falls to pick a beautiful flower.  The earth beneath her feet did not support her, and screaming she fell hundreds of feet down onto a rock.  She exchanged her life for a little flower (cf. Matt. 16:26). 

Two little boys came upon a rain-swollen river.  They saw a rabbit stranded on a tree limb being pummeled by the rushing waters.  One of the boys decided to try and rescue the frightened creature, despite the pleading counsel of his friend.  With great difficulty, the boy exhausted himself getting to the animal.  He placed it carefully inside his jacket and attempted to return to the bank of the river.  The current proved too strong for the tired little boy, and he perished.  When rescuers arrived on the scene and retrieved the boy from the water, they found the rabbit inside his jacket.  One of them held up the little creature and said, “He gave his life for this.”
I love flowers (ask Tony and Suanna Raburn) and rabbits.  Yet, they are not worth a human life.  In fact, Jesus says that one soul is worth more than all the material goods of the whole world!  The soul is so valuable that God came in the flesh to die on a cross to save it from sin and eternal punishment.  The value of human life to God is crystal clear.  Yet, as we go about our daily routines, making choices and decisions, are we reflecting that same level of appreciation for our own lives and destinies?  It may not be an object of nature that captures too much of our attention or affection.  It may be a habit, an addiction, bitterness, resentment, an unforgiving heart, a secret sin, an unholy relationship, a destructive friendship, or any number of things.  But, like that flower or that little rabbit, however precious or attractive or endearing it may seem, it is not worth the exchange of our life for it!  Let us maintain a proper value system that takes into account the value of our souls.
–Neal Pollard

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BUY NOW is a key advertising slogan

     When was the last time you saw some type of commercial that was trying to sell you something? I saw several this morning, and I bet it has not been long for you either. It is funny to me how they always want us to “Act Now!” They use phrases like “Huge Investment Opportunity! Must Act Now!” “We will throw 2 of these in, but you must call now!” Have you ever wondered why they are always trying to get people to do it at that very moment? I found an interesting article listing “10 Ways to Get Customers to Buy Now” by April Duncan (Click Here to Read Article). Listen to the 10 ways they try to draw us in. I am sure you will recognize most of them:

1. Give a Deadline for Ordering.
2. Advise of a Price Increase.
3. Establish a Trial/Introductory Period.
4. Free gift.
5. “No Risk” Trial.
6. “Not Available in Stores.”
7. Offer an Upgrade
8. Free supplies/accessories.
9. Use Action Phrases (Call Now. Toll Free. 24 Hours a Day).
10. Avoid Passive Phrases (Call us when your ready to order).

     These are the types of tactics they use to get people to think and feel like they need to make a move immediately or they will miss out on one of the greatest opportunities of their life! But why do they want people to act immediately? It is because they do not want us to think out our decisions. They want us to do it right away without careful consideration about our finances, if we really need it, and if this is really a quality product.
     In a similar way as the commercials, Satan wants us to make hasty decisions and not carefully think about our situation or the consequences. It is interesting that there are many passages about being sensible (Titus 1:8; 2:2, 5-6; Proverbs 14:8, 15, 18; etc). One of the best ones is Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age…” Sensibility is about thinking things through and being rational about our decisions. If we do not think things through then we will be much more likely to fall into sin. The reason the Lord has told us to be sensible is so we will realize that righteousness is always the correct decision.
     Whether it is in regards to a silly commercial, our finances, sin, or anything else, let’s make sure we are thinking about the decisions we make. The choices we make today may very well influence ourselves, our family, our friends, and many other people down the road. Let’s be sensible and realize the best choice is always to obey the Lord.

— Brett Petrillo

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I have to begin by telling you that I am not a big fan of spiders. I know they serve a purpose in our world, but I am happy if they choose to serve it somewhere other than where I am.

This past Sunday morning I began the presentation of my sermon as usual. I have a lapel microphone, so I normally move the larger boom microphone to the side and ignore it during my presentation of God’s word. As I was speaking I noticed some movement from the corner of my eye. Of course I was concentrating on my message, “The Gates of Hell,” but I kept noticing the movement. I finally focused on the movement for a split second and saw it was a spider, about one fourth of an inch in size. It was hanging from a single strand of its web and climbing up and down repeatedly.

I tried to block out that movement and concentrate on my message, but occasionally would “sneak a peek” at the spider, just to make sure where it was. It wasn’t bothering me, but it was a distraction.

Later on the way home I told my wife about the incident and her response surprised me. She said, “It wasn’t just a spider, it was Satan, he didn’t want your lesson preached”. I thought “WOW,” she just could be right.

Later I mentioned the incident to several of our members and no one else had noticed it. I checked the microphone that afternoon and there was no sign of the spider. Now I don’t doubt that there was a real spider even if I couldn’t find it later, but could the Devil use such a small thing to distract someone?

Yes, I believe he can and does. I know that he doesn’t have any real power in the world today other than deceit, deception and distraction. His power was broken when Christ rose from the grave. The devil has no power over us that we don’t let him have.

He also deceives and uses many people in the world through the use of people who seem religious and holy. The apostle Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 to describe how Satan works. “Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.” (NLT)

Counterfeit power, deception, distracting us from what is really important, that’s how the devil works. He is the ultimate conman, trying desperately to drag us down to his level of corruption by distracting us from the truth and that will bring about our spiritual death. That’s why Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5:8-9a, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” (NLT)

So, what is your distraction today, how is the devil working on you? Could it be through the computer screen you stare at so long, ungodly movies or television programs? What about the tabloid papers, magazines or books, maybe the songs you listen to or the friends you keep or the text messages that cross the line of purity. Or, maybe it’s simply a spider that distracts you while you are trying to share the message of God’s power and his love.

Whatever it takes, the Devil will use, so “stay alert, watch out for your great enemy, the devil.”

Russ Lawson  
Vote in my “spider survey”  –

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“ICU.”  Many instantly recognize those letters and know that they stand for “Intensive Care Unit.”  And many – if not most – have either spent time in ICU or have waited on friends and loved ones who need the specialized medical care found in this unit of the hospital.

Turn your attention for a moment to the waiting room where friends and family wait for news of the well-being of their loved one.  Consider the insights of Wes Seelinger in his experience in the ICU waiting room:

“I have spent long hours in the intensive care waiting room … watching with anguished people … listening to urgent questions: ‘Will my husband make it?  Will my child walk again?  How do you live without your companion of thirty years?’

“The intensive care waiting room is different from any other place in the world …  and the people who wait are different. They can’t do enough for each other.  No one is rude.  The distinctions of race and class melt away.  A person is a father first, a black or white man second.  The garbage man loves his wife as much as the university professor loves his.  Everyone knows that loving someone else is what life is all about.”

This is the truth, whether or not you are in the ICU waiting room!  Jesus was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?” He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34-39).  Life is all about loving God and loving others; that’s the way God designed it.

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).  God loves us so much that He wants to save us and add us to His eternal family to live with Him forever in heaven.  

His eternal family is the church – God’s ICU, HIS Intensive Care Unit!

You can be saved from your sins and added to God’s family (Acts 2:41,47) 
by believing in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from your sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

God provides special care in His ICU, the church.  Won’t YOU submit to Him and become a part of His eternal family today?

David A. Sargent, Minister

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