Monthly Archives: March 2010

Watch your car speed or else!

Did you see this interesting news story about speeders in USA Today?  If not, the link is here:  In some cases just 5 miles over the speed limit can now get you a ticket.

Take my “speeding survey” and let others know how you feel about “speeders in a recession.”

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Wheat or weeds

Mt. 13 is a chapter where the Lord gave a number of parables, one of which involved “tares.”

  1. Verse 36 – READ
  2. The explanation of this parable begins with verse 37 – READ

1)      The Lord wants this seed to produce “sons of the kingdom.”

2)      Jesus wants to have faithful followers throughout the world – verse 38 – READ

a)      This parable reminds us of Mk. 16:15 – Jesus said He wanted His word taken to “Every creature.”

b)      Jesus wants to have disciples throughout the entire earth.

3)      We often think about the “seed” as describing the word of God and this is true.

4)      Here the “good seed” describes the “sons of the kingdom.”

5)      Rom. 1:16 says God’s power to salvation is the gospel.

6)      In a sea of sin Jesus wants us to be a bright beacon.

7)      At the end of verse 38 Jesus said there are some “tares” in along with the wheat.

8)      God says there are going to be some “weeds” that try to impact our spiritual life.

a)      As our children go through school they are going to be surrounded by weeds.

b)      Adults will be surrounded by weeds in their places of employment.

c)      Some of our family members may be like weeds.

9)      In the physical realm we can often instantly recognize weeds.

10)   “Tares” (an undesirable crop) were planted along with the good crop.

11)  This reminds us that Satan seeks to surround Christians with weeds and he does.

12)  One of Satan’s tactics is trying to fill the earth with weeds.

13)  Verse 26 – READ

14)  In life there are times in life when we can’t pull out a weed because it will destroy a plant.

a)      Verse 39 – READ

b)      Weeds come from the devil and he is always trying to plant a new crop of weeds.

2)      There are consequences for this becoming involved with weeds – verse 40 – READ .

a)      God knows about all the “weeds” in life.

b)      At the proper time God will destroy each and every weed.

c)      Jesus said this will happen at the “end of the world” – verse 40 – READ

d)     Verse 41 even uses the word “all” – READ

3)      In eternity God will have a “weed free” kingdom.

4)      There will not be a single “weed” in heaven.

a)      If we are not a “son of God” (a child of God), we are like a weed.

b)      We may not be like the biggest weed or like the ugliest weed.

c)      All that we need to miss out on heaven is to fall into the “weed category.”

5)      All who are categorized in this way are going to have a very bad ending – verse 42 – READ

6)      Since we know what will happen to people who did not choose to please God, what about others?

7)      Verse 43 – READ

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Study To Shew Thyself Approved

Most of our readers are probably aware of Paul’s admonition to Timothy (KJV): “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).   Strictly speaking, the Greek word that has been translated “study” (spoudazo) means “to make effort, be prompt or earnest…diligence, be diligent, endeavour, labour” (Strong).  It means “to hasten, make haste” (Thayer).  The word was used in ancient military literature to compliment a soldier who followed his orders out of more than a sense of duty or obligation, but because the warrior was convinced that the fight was worth the sacrifice.  He not only followed his orders but he believed in them.  Of the infantry man who gave his all in the line of fire, it was said he had spoudason.  He was intensely in pursuit of his objective.   The King James translators selected the word “study” in view of the closing words of the verse: “rightly dividing the word of truth.”  It seems rather obvious that in order for someone to “rightly divide the word of truth” he must be “diligent” in something that would help him to achieve that end; hence he must be a good “student” of the word. 

 Study is hard work. There is a difference between “reading” and “studying.”  A person might “read” the newspaper, but unless he is deeply involved in the stock market, it is unlikely that a person would spend much time “studying” the newspaper.  Study is a gathering of facts; it is determining the meaning of words, and their relationship one to another in any given sentence, paragraph or larger context such as a book, manuscript or essay.  Study seeks to determine the meaning of a passage based upon the intent of the author.   A good student of any science or art takes the time to study various fields related to the particular subject he is endeavoring to learn.  It is no different with the Bible. 

 Study begins with reading the Bible; unfortunately most folks never get past this first step.   Having read a passage, the challenge lies in digging deep into that passage to glean heaven’s meaning, and then make application to our life.  It has been properly observed, “The books which help you most are those which make you think most. The hardest way of learning is by easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty” (author unknown).   No book challenges the thinking of men more than the Bible.   Simple in its structure, it is a storehouse of spiritual truth that is easily understood while at the same time challenging to even the most scholarly of men.  As one writer put it, “The Bible is an ocean of knowledge that little children can wade around in, yet no man can fathom the depths thereof.” 

 Perhaps one of the reasons men do not study the Bible is due to a failure to understand the rich value of Bible study.  The following is attributed to Henry Van Dyke: “Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its  own everywhere.  It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man.  Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life.  The wicked and proud tremble at its warnings, but to the wounded and penitent it has a mother’s voice.  It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that love, sympathy, devotion, memory, and hope put on the beautiful garments of its treasured speech.  No man is poor or desolate who  has this treasure for his own.  When the landscape darkens, and the trembling pilgrim comes to the valley of the shadow, he is not afraid to enter; he takes the rod and staff of scripture in his hand; he says to friend and comrade, ‘Goodbye; we shall meet again’; and, confronted by that support, he goes toward the lonely pass as one who walks through darkness to light”

 Perhaps as this year draws to a close it would benefit each of us to make our resolution a month in advance of ushering in 2009.  Let each one of us determine that we are going to be students of God’s word so that we might reap the wonderful spiritual benefits that comes with “Giving diligence to show thyself approved unto God.”

By Tom Wacaster

Reading the Bible versus studying the Bible:  A Bible survey on reading the Bible versus studying the Bible.  Do you most often “read the Bible” or do you most often “study the Bible”?

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Survey on new health care bill

Do you like the new health care bill?

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Charles Drew, director of the National Blood Bank Program

A brilliant medical doctor discovered the use of blood plasma that resulted in saving thousands of lives in World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War. At Pearl Harbor, for example, 96% of those who received plasma, survived. After World War II Charles Drew was named director of the National Blood Bank Program, and devoted himself to teaching doctors at Howard University Medical School.

On April 1, 1950, while driving some young doctors to a conference he was involved in an automobile accident in Burlington, N.C. He was rushed to a hospital where his life could have been saved by plasma. But Dr. Drew was denied admission to the hospital because his skin was black. He died on the way to another hospital 26 miles away.

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azteca flour tortillas

Do you use azteca flour tortillas?  My family used to LOVE the azteca flour tortillas for their thickness and this was the only brand we bought.  Some time ago we noticed that these tortillas seem to be thinner.  We thought maybe we just had an unusual batch and have bought this produict at other times but now they always seem thinner.  Has azteca changed their  tortillas?  Are azteca flour tortillas thinner than in the past?  If so, was this something customers requested?  If you have tried the Meijer brand of tortillas, do you think Meijer tortillas are like what you used to get with the azteca brand? 

Let others know what you think about azteca tortillas with this “azteca flour tortilla survey”:

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The new preacher loaded his car with his large family and visited an old deacon on the farm. After the introductions there was an awkward pause as the unexpected guests looked for chairs upon which to sit. The parlor had only two chairs.

 “Brother, I don’t believe you have enough chairs,” suggested the preacher.

 “That ain’t it,” muttered the old man. “I got plenty of chairs — just too much company!”

 Some Christians make it clear they don’t want to spend too much time with other Christians, but how important is our fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ! Living in a hostile environment, we need the encouragement that comes from those who share the same hopes and goals that we do.

 God knew that we would need each other, that the Christian life would be difficult if not impossible to live in isolation. That’s what the church is all about. The early Christians certainly recognized the value of being together:

 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” (Acts 2:46, NIV)

 Take time today to spend a few moments with a fellow Christian, encouraging and being encouraged. Just be sure to have plenty of chairs ready!

Alan Smith

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Are You A Pouter?

Pouting is popular with the prepubescent, but occasionally it occurs in even the older.  The latter would be especially amusing, if not for how pathetic they appear.  Pouting is, by design, an exercise in immature manipulation and an expression of excessive self-centeredness.  Perhaps the best (worst?) example of this mode of operation comes from the infamous Ahab, arguably Israel’s most wicked king.  After his encounter with the prophet who rebuked him for failing to kill Syrian King Ben-Hadad, Ahab “went to his house sullen and displeased” (1 Kings 20:43).  “After these things” (1 Kings 21:1), Ahab desperately wanted to own the vineyard of his unfortunate neighbor, Naboth.  Naboth declined the purchase offer, leaving Ahab once again to go “into his house sullen and displeased” (1 Kings 21:4).  Can you almost envision him slamming the door and stomping with his lip protruding?  There are even hints of his pouting when Jehoshaphat asks for a true prophet and Ahab begrudgingly acknowledges the existence of Micaiah (1 Kings 22).  Ahab says of the good prophet, “I hat him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (8).  You read about him and you want to say with exasperation, “Be a man, why don’t you?”
Do we ever struggle with pouting?  Your initial response may be, “Are you kidding?  Never!”  Not even with your spouse, when you disagree, cannot have your way, or do not have your wishes granted?  Not even with the elders, when they make a judgment call you totally disagree with or they choose not to enact an idea you have?  Not even with a friend, when you feel they neglected you or they seemingly chose someone or something over you? 
Here is a test we can take.  Call it the “pouting test.” 
  • When displeased in a matter, do you clam up and expect the other person to read your mind?
  • If something is not done your way, do you try to punish the other person by passive resistance, gossip, silence, or other verbal or non-verbal clues that scream your unhappiness?
  • How do you handle it if told, backed by rational evidence, that it is too expensive, too unreasonable, too much or not enough in whatever way?
  • Do you give off physical sounds of sulking or pouting-clear visual cues of your displeasure?
I remember, as a teenager, not liking my mom telling me, “Nobody ever gets their way all the time.”  We understand the logic of that, but when do we ever have a single occasion when we feel our way is not the best way?  If we thought of it, thought it through, and built our case, surely that is the way it ought to be.  The problem with that thinking is that we are not living on a deserted island.  We are surrounded by people able to independently exercise judgment, form opinions, and make decisions.  Sociability, in marriage, friendships, the church, on the job, with parents, and elsewhere, demands an attitude that puts others before self (my Philippians class will remember that principle).  Let us encourage each other to grow toward spiritual maturity, part of which includes putting away things like Ahabean pouting.
–Neal Pollard
How to deal with pouting: Take this “pouting survey:

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Curing Scurvy – how to cure scurvy

Today, only “primates” and guinea pigs get scurvy since their bodies cannot process a natural vitamin so needed to prevent it. Rarely, if ever, do you hear of a human today coming down with scurvy, yet in the heyday of shipping on the open seas (the 17th-19th centuries) it is commonly said that a million people died of the disease. Stephen R. Brown, who literally wrote the book on “Scurvy,” described the vicious ailment. He says, “Scurvy is a hideous and frightful affliction by which the body’s connective tissue degenerates, resulting in bleeding gums, wobbly teeth, rot-reeking breath, anemic lethargy, physical weakness, the opening of old wounds, and the separating of once healed broken bones. Untreated, it leads to a slow, agonizing, and inevitable death.” Though Hippocrates, who was alive the same time as the prophets Zechariah and Malachi, knew about scurvy, it was not until the early 1800s that steps were taken to eliminate the scourge of scurvy.

The most amazing thing is that the cure for scurvy was suggested almost 300 years before people began to believe in and utilize it. Such well-known and highly-regarded people as Portuguese explorers Pedro Cabral (1510) and Vasco da Gama (1510s), French explorer Jacques Cartier ( 1535), British surgeon James Lind (1753), British sea captain James Cook (1776), and many others suggested that citrus fruits and even to a lesser degree green vegetables could prevent scurvy. Sometimes, natives in lands where these explorers went knew these facts. Other times, the cure was found in a desperate means of guesswork or the process of elimination. Yet, the results, when Vitamin C was given to sailors, was dramatic and seemingly miraculous.

In fact, it was too obvious and too easy. Many doubted the cure because it just could not be that simple. It had to be something more hidden, complex, or nefarious. But, finally, in the 19th century, after a million sailors had succumbed to it, did the cure “catch on” with people. How tragic!

Yet, for 2,000 years, people have done the same thing with baptism with infinitely more tragic results. The Bible makes abundantly clear the role baptism plays in curing man’s greatest problem (Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 22:16; Romans 6:1-6; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21). However, the vast majority of the religious world rejects that baptism is essential to salvation. Some reason that it cannot be that simple, that immersing someone in water cannot be so important to God and His plan for saving us. So, they refuse to be baptized. Many religious people, Christ-believing people just will not be baptized to have their sins washed away. The Lord has spelled out the cure. We must place greater faith in God’s wisdom than man’s wisdom! The cure is evident and simple, but we still must submit to it.

Neal Pollard

Vitamin Survey – take this “vitamin survey”:

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In Kent, England, you can go to “Digger World,” and enjoy and even reenact your favorite parts of the Bob The Builder show and books. Or if you prefer a Buddhist-themed amusement park, you might try Suoi Tien Park in Vietnam–complete with waterfalls coming out a sage’s beard or an aerial bicycle ride over a lake filled with 1,500 crocodiles. What fun! If in the Baltic region, try “Stalin World.” This is Lithuania’s attempt to remind people of the dark days of Communism. You can even be interrogated by a KGB officer and wear a gas mask! America is not exempt from eclectic amusement parks, as New York’s Coney Island that perhaps enjoyed its heydays in the heart of the 20th Century. Freak shows and side shows aplenty give Coney Island its offbeat reputation (information from

People find the strangest things to amuse themselves. Back in the period of the Judges, the Philistines found a deadly means of “amusing themselves.” It was the Samson Show they all came out to see, the last thing 3,000 of them ever witnessed. Do you ever wonder what they tried to get Samson to do or why they thought that trotting out the formerly strong, now blinded judge would be amusing? Their amusement became their annihilation (see Judges 16:25-30).

God created us intelligent beings, and with that endowed us with creativity, inquisitiveness, aesthetic appreciation, ingenuity, and the like. Put another way, we often enjoy being amused. It might be a funny comedian or movie, a hobby, books and literature, or any number of similar things. Amusement can be a great way to cope with the often painful realities of life.

Yet, let us keep something in mind about the ways we amuse ourselves. God has guidelines that govern such things. Beware any amusements that pander to the lusts of the flesh and detract from our cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:19-23). If we are amused by the sinful, the smutty, and the suggestive things of life, we are setting ourselves up for a more terrible end than that experienced by Samson’s tormentors. There is nothing in the world worth our embracing it to the loss of our own soul (cf. Matt. 16:26). Enjoy life! Have fun! But avoid anything that will drive a wedge between you and God because that’s not funny!

Coney Island Poll: Have you ever visited Coney Island?

Neal Pollard

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