Monthly Archives: June 2010

How important is integrity?

SOMETIMES IT’S HARD to sell people on the value of integrity…
From all outward appearances, it doesn’t “pay” to be honest.
There were certainly times in the life of Joseph when he must have been tempted to say, “What good has it ever done to me to walk the straight path?”  Here was a young man who remained committed to integrity no matter what the cost.  Sold into slavery by his own brothers, he was eventually falsely accused and thrown into a dungeon before finally being vindicated by the Lord.
When Joseph ran from the crude seduction of Potiphar’s wife, he wasn’t just running from a woman.  He was running from anything that would abort God’s purposes in his life.
Do you remember what he told that adulteress (probably again and again)?  “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9).
He chose God’s way.  He chose to see God’s purposes fulfilled in his life rather than fulfilling a passing fleshly fancy.  He feared losing God’s blessing upon his life.  That’s why he didn’t walk or stroll out of that woman’s presence, he RAN. 
THOUGHT: Integrity says, what I am in public, I am also in private.  Integrity is what you do when you’re alone, and no one’s eye is upon you but the Lord’s.  (Ron Mehl)
“Discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you” (Proverbs 2:11).
–Mike Benson
Joseph avoided sexual sin

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A survey on magnetic pens

A poll on gravity defying Magnetic Pens –

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       People just amaze me sometimes, and that is not always a good thing.  In a recent article I read, people gathered around the Grand Hyatt at Washington D.C to protest, get this, the spelling bee!  Now, people will gather and protest many controversial topics, but the spelling bee?  The people who were there represented the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society.  Their agenda?  To simplify the way we spell words.  The protestors had signs that read messages like this, “Enuf is enuf; enough is too much.”
       Ok, now I know the English language is not the simplest language.  It has strange spelling and breaks nearly every rule it has, but is this really something worth protesting?  We have terrible actions such as homosexuality and abortion, we are living in a culture that elevates impurity and sinful living, and yet they are protesting about the spelling of words?  What a terrible waste of time and energy.
       As I read this article, I was reminded of people who are contentious and  argumentative about pointless things.  Titus 3:9 says, “But avoid foolish controversies…for they are unprofitable and worthless.”  Now, I am not talking about things where the Lord has specified and given commands about.  Any command we see in the Bible is something we should stand firm and be unmovable with. 
       However, let’s be careful about the things we are arguing and protesting about that are not biblical commands.  Are they really worth our time or would our time be better spent elsewhere?  Too many times we get caught up with the pet peeves and minor details and we forget the main focus of this life and in the church (Matthew 6:33).  Is our opinion really important enough to cause disunity in the church and possibly turn someone away from the Lord? Too many churches have been split and people have been driven away from the Lord due to foolish controversies. While we all have our own opinions and ways we like to do things, is it really so bad if someone does it a bit differently?  Let’s strive to be people who always encourage peace when it is about insignificant things (Romans 12:18) but firm on the commands from the Bible.

–Brett Petrillo

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Paul Harvey asked the question of how so many out of state homeless people were able to get to Hawaii.  Joel John Roberts, who writes  a homeless blog for the city of Los Angeles, California, suggests that local communities are paying the plane tickets for the homeless to go to Hawaii.  The rationale is that it is harder for the homeless to make their way back to the mainland.  At least one state representative is pleading with the state of Hawaii to pay $100,000 to return these homeless people back to their original communities.  Rida Cabanilla, who is Hawaii’s chairwoman of the Housing Committee, points to a University of Hawaii study that reveals nearly 1,000 people or 19 percent of the homeless population of Hawaii have been there less than a year.  Nearly half the homeless population did not live in Hawaii ten years ago.
The Hawaii homeless are not a “one size fits all” community.  A good number of these folks were sold on the imagery of Hawaii as a place to sit and sip drinks on the beach.  Reality has been harsh for these folks.  Some had no idea it would be so expensive and could not afford to elevated prices of the island state.  Some are content to visit the soup kitchens and live in a tent.  Some mention various hardships that have left them with no choice but to remain.  But, Cabanilla and others would love for all of them to go back home.
A couple of things stand out to me.  First, how many people have pursued “paradise” only to find out that reality was much different from what they dreamed it would be?  Others are content to live in squalor and cling to “paradise” because they think it does not get any better.  People are deceived by sin, even calling good “evil” and evil “good” (cf. Isa. 5:20).  Second, there are a good many people out there who it seems nobody wants.  Nobody wants to pay them attention or wants to have to deal with them.  Yet, God loves them and paid the highest price to redeem them, too.  What should our attitude as Christians be toward them?  Finally, there is a sense in which Christians are not at home in this world.  On occasion, we may feel as though we are undesirable to the worldly mind and the present culture.  It is good for us to remember that we are pilgrims and strangers on this earth (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11).  We will not be at home until we reach that “long home,” that “home of the soul.”  One thing is for sure.  Nobody should feel “homeless” in God’s family.  Paul calls the church “the household of God” (1 Tim. 3:15).  There is a place for everybody in this spiritual home on earth.  May we each take our place there.
Neal Pollard

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Trust: In whom do we trust?

IT’S IMPORTANT TO be careful where you place your trust…

Some barbers say “trust me” as half of your eyebrow falls into your lap.

Some dentists say “trust me” as they drill down deeper than Exxon.

Some postal workers say “trust me,” stamp your package “Fragile,” and then drop-kick it into the parcel bin.

Some manicurists say “trust me,” as they push your cuticles back to your elbow.

Some mechanics say “trust me,” then make your engine purr like a kitten…with strep throat.

Some friends say “trust me” as they borrow your favorite shirt, accidentally wash it in hot water, then hand you back a swatch.

A lot of people say “trust me,” but don’t quite earn your trust. They fall short of their promises, and leave you wishing you hadn’t placed your faith in them in the first place.

THOUGHT: Aren’t you glad, though, that when God says “trust Me,” you can? (Martha Bolton)

–Mike Benson

“He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him” ( Prov. 30:5b KJV).

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A Golden Opulence Sundae

Have you ever eaten expensive ice cream?  If so, it probably was not nearly as good as the “golden opulence sundae.” 

The golden opulence sundae is a desert from a New York eatery—a dessert covered in 23-carat edible gold leaf.  Tahitian vanilla ice cream is mixed with Madagascar vanilla beans and chunks of rare Chuao chocolate from Venezuela.  The cost for this average sized treat is one thousand dollars.

The next time you enjoy a sundae with Hershey’s chocolate syrup and a maraschino cherry, someone else may be enjoying a “golden opulence sundae” with the world’s most expensive chocolates, gold-covered almonds, and Grande Passion caviar.  Of course, the 18-carat gold spoon used to eat this treat is not a keepsake, but the Baccarat crystal goblet that holds it is. 

Some people enjoy the very best of life.  They have the best food, the most luxurious clothing, and mansions for houses.  Jesus once spoke of a “certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day” (Lk. 16:19).  Although this man seemed to “have it all,” Jesus said his great banquets and fine clothing were only temporary and ultimately offered no comfort to him.  Notice these additional points from Lk. 16:22-25: 

 “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried.  23 And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.  25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish.” 

Most will never taste or see a golden opulence sundae, but all can be “content with what they have” (Heb. 13:5).  Accountable people can also live in such a way where they will receive an eternal inheritance that surpasses the most luxurious life on earth (1 Pet. 1:4). 

Are you a faithful child of God who will receive the eternal inheritance for the saved?

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Thou Shalt Not Cut the Ends Off Thy Neighbor's Logs

In a frontier settlement out west, the people were engaged in the lumbering business. The town wanted a church so they built a building and called in a minister.  The preacher was well received, and everybody “liked” him.  Then one day he visited the lumbering operation down at the river. He noticed some of the members pulling logs out of the river that had been floating down from another company upstream. Each log was marked with the owner’s mark. The members would saw the end off the log and put their own mark on it, and push it back into the river to float down to the mill. This greatly disturbed the preacher.

    The next Sunday he prepared a forceful sermon on the “Golden Rule.”  At the close of the services, his people lined up and congratulated him: “Wonderful message! Mighty fine preaching!  I really enjoyed your sermon!” 

    However, as the preacher watched the river that week, he saw the members continuing to steal logs. This bothered him even more. The following Sunday, he preached another forceful sermon on the subject: “Thou Shalt Not Steal!”  Again, as the members filed out of the church building, they shook his hand and congratulated him on the wonderful, powerful message.

    Thinking he finally got his message across, the preacher again went to the river, but to his dismay, the members were still pulling logs out of the river, cutting the ends off of them, and replacing the other company’s mark with their mark.

    The following Sunday, he got into the pulpit and preached: “Thou Shalt Not Cut the Ends Off Thy Neighbor’s Logs!”  Immediately after the sermon, the church ran him out of town.

    The apostle Paul said the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine, but would heap to themselves teachers who would preach only what they wanted to hear (2Timothy 4:2-4).  People would continue to be religious and go to church, but they would not endure the Truth.  That’s sad, because only the truth can set us free (John 8:32).

    Paul said the time would come, and that time is here. How many sermons have you heard lately on Sin, Repentance, and Hell?  It seems most sermons today embrace the “Easy Believism,” “Feel Good,” religion of “Prosperity.” Pulpits have conditioned their audiences that God’s main goal for their life is to make them “happy.” Therefore, whatever makes them happy, or feel good, must be a Godsend, even if it involves drugs, alcohol, or adultery. One lady said, “This man makes me happy, and since God wants me to be happy, I believe He wants me to divorce my husband and marry him!”  Worship is being arranged around whatever entertains the audience and makes them feel good with little, if any, emphasis on the Way that even Jesus called “straight and narrow” (Matthew 7:13-14). 

    Many have ears to hear, but cannot hear (Mark 8:18). They sit in a church building year after year judging the preacher’s performance. They will tolerate all kinds of sins being condemned except their own.  Many preachers are bowing to the pressure to “tickle the ears of their hearers” and are therefore preaching a powerless gospel.

    The main work of Satan is to deceive (Rev. 12:9; 2Corinthians 11:13-15). Have you ever wondered how he is doing that?  It is by taking our emphasis off the only thing that can set us free, i.e. the Truth, which is the Word of God (John 17:17). 

— Toby Miller

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A New Tower Of Babel?

“Chilling” is a word that comes to mind in reading the article published in the “New York Times” on June 11, 2010.
Entitled “Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday,” the article describes a conference held recently in California where forty people paid $15,000.00 each to attend a course sponsored by Singularity University.
“Singularity” is the key word. Those behind this movement have one goal in mind: the merging of humans and machines. Supported generously by the co-founders of Google, the aim is to blend the intelligence of humans with the durability of machines.
Yes, eternal life is in their sights.
Ashlee Vance, author of the article, states the vision of Singularity University:
 “…human beings and machines will so effortlessly and elegantly merge that poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past.”
Raymond Kurzweil, an outspoken proponent of the University, boasts that he will be able to live for hundreds of years. He will also be able to resurrect the dead, including his own father. He’s helping to produce a movie to be released later this year: “The Singularity Is Near: A True Story About The Future.”
If you wonder whether anyone of intelligence buys into these ideas, Vance notes that hundreds of students worldwide apply for one of the 80 spots in a 10-week graduate course. Those chosen will pay $25,000.00 each to attend.
Long ago, people banded together on an ambitious project: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4, NKJV).
We’re not given all the details behind that project, but God clearly did not approve. To thwart their efforts he imposed different languages. No longer able to communicate, the project was abandoned.
We’re not predicting that Singularity University will be disrupted by Divine intervention. But the ambitions behind it appear to be similar to those in Babel. Man has often attempted to “make a name” for himself, only to see his efforts crash and burn.
The sons of Korah sang a message in Psalm 46, that needs to be heard today: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).
Hundreds of years later the apostle Paul addressed a group of intellectuals who worshiped every deity but the true God. He reminded them that “they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).
Eternal life is already within our grasp (Romans 6:23). Merging people with machines will prove to be futile. Merging people with the will of God is the key.
by Tim Hall

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Some thoughts on "assumption"

 It is perhaps the most dangerous thought we can entertain. It SEEMS right. It MUST be right. In fact, it HAS to be right.

Webster calls it an “assumption.” “A fact or statement taken for granted.” Note the key phrase in that definition, “taken for granted.”

An assumption is neither truth nor reality; is not fact. An assumption is merely personal conjecture. It is an unsubstantiated belief or idea based often times upon the circumstances in my own life.

• David assumed a soldier who had been away from his wife would immediately return to her tender affections. The king couldn’t control his sexual appetite (2 Samuel 11:2-4), and so he figured Uriah couldn’t either (vv. 6-9).

• Sarah assumed couples well in to their retirement years couldn’t have children (Genesis 18:10-15). She figured that because she had lived past the years of childbearing, any idea about a future “seed” (Genesis 22:17-18), simply wasn’t possible.

• Isaac assumed his wife and younger son would be honest and forthright (Genesis 27). The Patriarch had previously engaged in deception himself (ch. 26), but he didn’t think that other members of his family would follow his example.

• Herod assumed an infant referred to as “King of the Jews” might attempt to usurp his power (Matthew 2:1-8). His insecurity led to the murder of many innocent children (v. 16).

• The Jews assumed the Messiah would overthrow Roman tyranny and oppression. Their prejudices and false interpretations (Acts 1:6) blinded them to the possibility of a spiritual Deliverer.

A lot of folks experience conflict because they often entertain false assumptions. They fuss, disagree and divide because they’ve made certain unconfirmed “mental jumps” about people, ideas, or actions.

When someone walks by us without saying hello, we assume that they must be upset or angry at us. “What have I done wrong?” “It must be something I said…” Could it be, in reality, that our friend has something heavy on his or her heart, and is so engrossed in thought that they simply don’t see us? Are there other possibilities?

When someone starts yawning during a sermon or lesson, we assume that it must be because we’re doing a poor job in terms of delivery and that our message is boring. Could it be, in reality, that a student didn’t sleep well the previous night and is simply tired? Maybe they had a sick child to take care of during the time most folks sleep.

When a spouse doesn’t exhibit typical affection (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) towards his or her mate, we assume it must be because the love and desire is absent from the marriage. Could there be other reasons as to why physical intimacy is not being initiated? What about fatigue? What about stress at work? What about sickness? What about financial burdens that are affecting the family? Could there be other mitigating factors?

When an elder of the congregation doesn’t call us when we’re sick at home, we assume it must be because he doesn’t care about us. It is possible that they haven’t called us because they simply don’t know we are ill (James 5:14)?

Many times we not only assume, but we assume the worst, about a person or situation. The consequences of that kind of thinking can be harmful and costly.

Jesus was the only man who could read minds (John 2:24- 25; cf. Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Lk. 5:22; 6:8; 11:17). He knew exactly what others were thinking. You and I don’t have that luxury; we’re not God (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139:23). Deity can see through our façade and ascertain our true motives.

The only way we can know what other people are thinking is if they tell us. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him…?” (1 Corinthians 2:11a).

Are you disappointed by somebody’s action or inaction? Have you assumed the worst? Wouldn’t it be better to find out for sure? Go. Ask (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Communicate. The truth will make you free.

Mike Benson

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