Monthly Archives: April 2010


I read a reference yesterday that mentioned Damocles. I had heard the name before, but never read the story so I looked it up, are you familiar with it?

“The story is told of Damocles, an excessively flattering courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse, a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse.
He exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first hand that fortune. In the evening a banquet was held, where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging by a single piece of horsehair directly above his head. Immediately, he lost all taste for the fine foods and beautiful servers and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.” (

Most of us occasionally imagine ourselves living a different life. We may even fanaticize about being born rich, living in a different place, a
different country, having a different wife or husband. It may be that you’ve dreamed of having children that behave better or parents that love more. We may dream about what it would be like to have a body that functions perfectly or is our imagined perfect age instead of being disabled, old or even young. We might dream of having power to command or freedom from responsibility to do whatever our heart desires. In the story of Damocles we see the lesson taught; that what we imagine to be the perfect life; may have drawbacks or problems we never imagined (like
a sword hanging over your head). What we desire or want badly may not be quite as desirable as we like to think it would be.  I may be dating myself, but I remember watching the television program “Star Trek” when it was first on television. There was one episode that has stayed
with me for all of these years. In that episode the character “Mr. Spock” was forced to fight for the woman to whom he was engaged. He won, but then gave up the right to the woman. He turned to the man who now would be joined to this woman and said some words that tell a truth which most of us fail to realize until too late. These may not be exact, but the meaning is the same:  “You may find that having is not as pleasing as thing as wanting”.

How many times in our lives have we wanted something so badly, only to be disappointed when we finally get whatever it was we wanted? Spock was right, “having very often is not as pleasing as wanting, or as we had imaged it to be.”

How satisfied are you with your life? The apostle Paul had this to say about it writing to a group of Christians who were concerned for his welfare in Philippians 4:1-13. He wrote: “It is a great and truly Christian joy to me that after all this time you have shown such renewed interest in my welfare.  I don’t mean that you had forgotten me, but up till now you had no opportunity of expressing your concern. Nor do I mean that I have been in actual need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry, of facing either plenty or poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.” (Philip’s Translation)

So how are you doing? God still has a lot of work to do on me to get me to that point!  Russ Lawson

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Unusual Bibles – unusual Bible versions

Today I found a copy of the “Sportsmen Bible,” a Bible that is carried by CBD (Christian Book Distributors).  My copy was boxed, still in plastic, and discounted to just $3.00!  For this price I purchased two of them.  In addition to having both the Old and New Testaments, this Bible version  has  tips written for hunters & fishermen.  I also have some copies of the “cotton patch version.”

What interesting and unusual copies of the Bible do you have?

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Getting back to your first love

Before And After Falling In Love……

B – You take my breath away
A – I feel like I’m suffocating

B – She says she loves the way I take control of the situation
A – She called me a controlling, manipulative egomaniac

B – Saturday Night Fever
A – Monday Night Football

B – He makes me feel like a million dollars
A – If I had a dime for every stupid thing he’s done…

B – The Sound of Music
A – The Sound of Silence

B – $60/dozen
A – $1.50/stem

B – We agree on everything!
A – Doesn’t she have a mind of her own?

B – Ideal
A – Idle

B – I love a woman with curves
A- I never said you were fat

B – He’s completely lost without me
A – Why won’t he ever ask for directions?

B – Time stood still
A – This relationship is going nowhere

B – You look so seductive in black
A – Your clothes are so depressing

B – I can hardly believe we found each other
A – I can’t believe I ended up with someone like you

Those of you who have been married a while can relate to the above. Even if your relationship has improved through the years, there was something about those early years — the excitement and thrill of first falling in love — that causes you to look back with a sigh. One of the secrets of a successful marriage is found in striving to recapture the excitement of those early years in the midst of our commitment to longevity.

That’s also one of the secrets of living the Christian life. If you’ve been a Christian for a number of years, chances are you can look back at the time when you first “fell in love” with Christ. There was an excitement that accompanied the newness of your Christian life. But, the newness wore off and, after a while, Christian living may have become somewhat mundane. We need to strive to recapture the excitement of those early years in the midst of our commitment to longevity.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works….” (Rev. 2:4-5a)

It is important that we remember and recapture that excitement of being a child of God — the feeling of being cleansed of sin, the desire to share our excitement with everyone else we know, the intention to do everything we can to serve the One we love with all our hearts.

May you never lose that first love. But, if you have lost it, may you seek to recapture it.

Alan Smith

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Do you neglect old people?

The conversation took place many years ago, but I remember it vividly. A well-known preacher was in town to conduct a gospel meeting. As I gave him a tour of some of the sights of our area one morning, I was surprised at how he confided in me.

Tears rolled down his cheeks as he spoke of health afflictions that had beset his family. For many years friends were constantly dropping by. Now, hardly anyone even called. Age and infirmity had separated him from most of those who had once been close.

I’ve seen it on other occasions. Those who enjoy good health are welcomed into the mainstream of social activities. When limitations make it difficult to get out, everyone seems affected. Isolation makes the burden of physical afflictions even more painful.

A scene from long ago is recorded in Nehemiah 8. A remnant of God’s people had returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity and were gathered safely behind newly-rebuilt city walls. Ezra led the assembly in reading the law of God, assisted by several Levites.

As the reading continued, sobbing was heard, “for all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law” (Nehemiah 8:9, NKJV). Ezra urged them not to cry, “for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

How unfortunate that not all could be present to hear Ezra’s exhortation on joy. As in any community, some were unable to meet due to age, infirmities, illnesses, etc. But these were not forgotten on that occasion. Ezra instructed them to “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared” (Nehemiah 8:10). No one was to be left out. Spread the joy to all, they were told.

God still teaches that all need encouragement, whether ambulatory or not. To whom did the Son of Man grant admission to the “kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”? Two criteria mentioned were “I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:31,36).

If people cannot come to our assemblies, must they be forgotten? Must the old adage that says “Out of sight, out of mind” describe the Lord’s church?

Spending time with an aged friend in a nursing home may not be a popular pastime. We can give many reasons for not paying a visit to someone no longer able to be out. But again we must ask the piercing question: Whom do we serve?

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

by Tim Hall

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A "hostage policy"

A U.S. jail has an interesting policy. If a guard is taken prisoner, the stated policy is to let the captured official die instead of agree to a prisoner’s demands. It has been said that in this facility a supervisor would watch an inmate kill an officer rather than succumb to a hostage situation involving a guard.

A “no negotiation” policy with prisoners sounds harsh but is understandable. When we look at God we find that He also has a “no negotiation” policy.

God has given His word and He will not make exceptions to what His word says. In Jn. 10:35 Jesus said the Scripture “cannot be broken” (God will not deviate from what is said in His word).

God’s conditions for salvation, what He requires for worship, and what He demands for faithful Christian service are expressed in the Bible. Not only are all these things expressed, God will not bargain with man on any of these things.

We must come to God on His terms and serve Him in the way He has said or we will not have heaven as our home.
Are you following God in the exact ways described in and by the Bible?

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Professor Arai of Saga, Japan has developed a system whereby PC users can input text simply by looking at an on-screen keyboard.

When the user gazes at a character for one second, the system, which uses a miniature camera, detects their line of sight and types in the appropriate character. The system, called Mitsumeru Dake in Japanese, means “Just Look”!

A miniature camera, attached to the computer notes the positions of three points for each eye: the inner corner of the eye, the inner extremity of the eyebrow, and the center of the pupil. By following the line of sight, it recognizes the exact location on the screen at which the user is looking.

Professor Arai says his system provides a very accurate method of inputting text. Even people wearing glasses can use the system.

Professor Arai was prompted to develop his system by the arrival, five years ago, of a student at the university who had cerebral palsy. The university had revamped the toilet facilities and installed ramps throughout the campus, but the student’s mother had to operate her son’s computer.

“I thought then that I needed to do something to help such people,” says Professor Arai.

Since Professor Arai’s invention, bedridden people or those with impaired use of their hands can easily use the system to communicate their needs, even in hospitals, e.g. to ask for a nurse, or to indicate that they are thirsty.*

Neil Verwey provides the following insight: “Spiritually, we need MORE help than disabled people, so let’s constantly fix our gaze on God.”

“I lift up my eyes to You,
to You whose throne is in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he shows us His mercy.”
(Psalm 123:1-2).

Spiritually, WE are HELPLESS and LOST in our sins! (Ephesians 2:1-3)

“But because of His GREAT love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,” can “make us ALIVE with Christ even when we were DEAD in transgressions” through His saving grace that is accessed through our obedient faith (see Ephesians 2:4-9).

Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
His redeeming blood will wash away our sins when we “look to Him” by placing our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

The Lord has promised that if WE WILL “just look” to Him in trusting obedience, then HE WILL extend His mercy and grace to us!

Won’t YOU “just look” to Him with an active, obedient faith?

David A. Sargent

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5 tips on prayer

Let Us Pray Specifically. Speak to God in specific terms. Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Ph. 4:6). God knows everything that is going on in all our lives, but He still says ask (cf. Mt. 7:7). May it never be said of us that we do not have because we did not ask (cf. Js. 4:2). Prayers of the Bible are notable for how specific they often are. Pray for people by name. Pray for circumstances in detail. Pray for specific outcomes.

Let Us Pray Sincerely. Pour out your heart to God. Take away any pretense, selfishness, or self-serving thoughts. Hold nothing back, knowing that God will understand the content of your intent (Rm. 8:26). Do not let formality or rote repetition cast a shadow over your prayer life.

Let Us Pray Submissively. Pray understanding that God’s will must be done, not just in matters of sickness but in all matters (Mt. 6:10). Submission and humility are linked (Js. 4:7-10). God is sovereign and can see what we cannot see, even in the circumstances closest to our hearts. Ask with Abraham, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Ge. 18:25). Trust not only in His power when you pray, but in His wisdom and perfect nature. Then, no matter what, you can say, “It is well with my soul.”

Let Us Pray Surely. James, speaking of making requests of God, counsels us to “ask in faith, with no doubting” (1:6). Jesus assures us, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Mt. 21:22). Let us trust in the importance of our trusting in God’s power to do whatever is within the framework of His perfect will. Truly believe in the power of prayer. Have that confidence!

Let Us Pray Steadfastly. Be like David, who said, “But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice” (Ps. 55:16-17). “Be constant in prayer” (Rm. 12:12). If such persistence can sway the heart of the wicked, how much more can our prayers influence the Righteous and Holy God (cf. Lk. 18:1-7)? Night and day found Paul praying exceedingly for the Thessalonians (1 Th. 3:10). The prophetess Anna did the same for possibly decades of time (Lk. 2:37).

Remember that the prayers of righteous people are productive (Js. 5:16). Let us be valiant soldiers in praying for especially each other, as well as the lost and ourselves. Perhaps nothing preaches the profound importance of our prayers to God more than the symbol of Revelation 8:1-4. The seventh seal is broken and there is silence in heaven for a half hour, a brief but significant moment. What causes the silence? It is the prayers of the saints coming up to God and the attention God pays to those prayers. How humbling and awesome, that our prayers mean that much to God! Let us not neglect this great reservoir of power God has asked us to use!

Neal Pollard

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Six Reasons Why I Don’t Play The Lottery

Just because the government may sanction something, that does not make it right. I do not play the Lottery because (1) It is addictive: The evidence is overwhelming. 5 million gambling addicts, “Compulsive Gamblers Hotline,” “Gamblers Anonymous,” and “Your 1-800 toll free number” all attest to the addictive nature of this vice. (2) It seeks to gain at the expense of others: Do your math. Cost of ticket = $1; Jackpot = $1 million; Number of winners = 1; Number of losers = 999,999. The majority of participants come from the poor and impoverished. (3) It violates Matthew 7:12: “All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them…” The gambler hates these words of Christ because he does not desire that others do to him what he seeks to do unto others. (4) It is bad stewardship: God’s gracious gifts are not to be squandered. “Every good gift…is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (Jas. 1:17). We are stewards of what God has given us, and “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). (5) It violates the work ethic: God’s instructions to us is that we labor with our hands in order that we may have whereof to give to him that hath need (Eph. 4:28). (6) It fails the “fruit test” of our Lord: “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:17). Everywhere gambling has gone, organized crime is not far behind. Heartache, addiction, loss, misery, poverty, and divorce are just a few of the undesirable fruits associated with gambling. Beloved, let us “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22).

by Tom Wacaster

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What do you "count"?

An unknown poet, at least unknown to me, wrote these words:

Count your blessings, not your crosses
Count your gains and not your losses
Count your joys and not your woes
Count your friends and not your foes
Count your smiles and not your tears
Count your courage, not your fears
Count your full years, not your lean
Count your kind deeds, not your mean
Count your health instead of your wealth
Count on God and not yourself.

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