Monthly Archives: November 2011

Do You Have Rabies?

I’m sure you’ve heard the story about the man who was bitten by a dog. He went to the doctor to be checked over, and sure enough, the doctor returned with the news that the man had indeed been infected with rabies.

The man then asked the doctor for a piece of paper and a pen, and he began writing. The doctor was taken back by this request and finally assumed that this man was writing out his will, so the doctor said, “Sir, I know being told you have rabies is something you never want to hear, but be assured, medicine has advanced through the years, and this is no longer fatal. Therefore, there’s no need to make out your will. You’ll be fine in just a few weeks.” Upon hearing this, the man looked at the doctor and said, “My will? I’m not making out my will. I’m making a list of people I’m going to bite before I’m cured!”

We probably all know people who are like this man, and if we’re perfectly honest without ourselves, we may sometimes succumb to this attitude too. However, the apostle Paul said, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

If you were infected with rabies, would you be asking your doctor for a pen and piece of paper? Give it some thought.

by Steve Higginbotham

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Having An *Empty Nest*

Thanksgiving break is over for my youngest child. She will drive off into the sunset today, back to Freed-Hardeman University. She is enjoying her freshman year, and for that I am glad. My husband and I treasure the few moments when we see her these days. Parents who share the bittersweet times when the children leave the nest know what I mean.

It’s always a source of wonderment to me at this time of year to notice the empty nests in the branches of our dozen or so trees on our property. It’s a sort of forlorn feeling as I imagine the baby birds with their mouths wide open, waiting to be fed by Momma and Daddy birds. Where are they now? Did they make it? Do they ever see their siblings or their parents? When did they leave that nest? I remember with a smile the furtive way the adult birds would look around, worm in beak, right before they flew to that exact spot, nest unseen.

One thing is for certain now that the sheltering screen of leaves is gone, the nest is most definitely deserted. The one in my hedge up against the front porch sits half-skewed and a little broken on one side. Its bit of red string dangling off of it is reminiscent of Rahab’s signal to the Israelites. But no one remains in the nest to be rescued. The fates of my melodious little friends are sealed, for good or for ill, for their short lives. This little home has served its purpose. It will be put into the trash can after this gardener takes off the Christmas lights that now adorn the trees and shrubs.

Another thing that is certain is that the mother and father bird are no longer in the nest. In my fascination with the baby birds’ flights, I never contemplated before now that the parents also move on. They don’t sit in the nest pining for their young. They leave also. While their lives are not over, they are most definitely not stuck in the past, nor in those shabby old nests.

This newly realized fact must have some meaning in my life, now that I am a new empty-nester. I never did picture myself playing bingo or sitting in a rocker and pining for the good times gone by. There is so much to do! God has a new plan for me that does not necessarily involve child-rearing.

Our children’s births were spread out over an unusually long span of time, and that is probably why I can also see the value in the empty nest. This week has been wonderful having some of our children back in the nest for a little mothering! Conversely, I will also enjoy the peace of the coming solitude. The quietness is also sweet, after 34 years of children in the home. My husband and I get a little alone-time at last!

Isn’t it wonderful how our lives can have different phases, and that we can move to new good works time after time? I do miss my children, but I choose to embrace this stage in life.

“His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me,” says the old song. Jesus highlights God’s knowledge of these little events in a sparrow’s life to illustrate God’s tender care for us (Matthew 10:29–31). Just as He never stops caring for us, we don’t ever want to stop serving Him and increasing our talents for service.

Mommy and Daddy birds have wings, too. Look, I’m flying!

–Christine Berglund

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I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table

TWO MEN WERE walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull…

Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence.  The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it.  Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!”  John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.”  “But you must!” implored his companion.  “The bull is catching up to us.”  “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ’O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful…’”

If there is one sin that most prevalent today, it is the sin of ingratitude.  God does so much for us.  Our indebtedness to him is enormous and yet we rarely or at least infrequently offer thanks for what he has done.  In fact, many Christians fail offer thanks over their meals much less offer thanks over all that God does in their lives.  We are much like the little boy who was given an orange by a man. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?”  The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it.”

For a child of God thankfulness is not confined to a day or a season, it is an attitude that we should have everyday and every hour.  Michael Belcher

11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”  Luke 17:11-19

–Mike Benson

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What one factor destroys many marriages?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Sadly the elderly minister showed the young couple to the door, and returned to his desk. You could still smell the gun smoke of rancor and accusation in the room. He feared for these kids.

He had been in ministry for almost fifty years, and in that time had counseled with literally hundreds of couples. He leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head, and reflected. What one factor, he thought, most commonly destroyed marriages? Was it adultery? Physical abuse? Money?

The pretty young woman had complained that her husband did not make enough money, and compared him to her brother, a stockbroker, who made hundreds of thousands a year, and kept his wife in new cars, new clothes, and a beautiful house. The young man, broad in the shoulders and in the prime of his life, accused her of complaining whenever he spent time fishing with his buddies.

There was no headline material in this session, no steamy stories of betrayal discovered, or passion.

Just plain selfishness.

Neither person was willing to offer himself completely to the other; neither was willing to consider his partner’s needs first.

It was she who had put it into words: “I thought the point of our marriage was for him to make me happy.” Well, when life is all about what you get, and not what you give, he thought, then this is the result. It was so sad, the solution so simple, and it was so hard to make them see.

Long before the affair, or the big blowout fight, or the breakup of the marriage, there was always selfishness.

–Stan Mitchell @

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A panicked bride

The day after a young couple had returned from their honeymoon, the bride called her mother in a panic.

“What’s the matter, dear? Was the honeymoon dreadful?”

“No, but oh, Mama! As soon as we got home, he started using the most horrible language! Horrible four-letter words!”

“Darling, shh,” said her mother. “Calm down and tell me what he said that was so awful.”

“Oh, Mama, it’s so embarrassing,” cried the still sobbing bride. “He said words like COOK, IRON, WASH, DUST!”

A cheerful heart is good medicine… (Prov 17:22a) The Good, Clean Funnies List
A cheerful heart is good medicine… (Prov 17:22a)
Mail address: GCFL, Box 100, Harvest, AL 35749, USA

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I'll see you on Easter

There are some things that I’m sure run through the minds of every preacher, but they are suppressed by our better judgment before they are ever spoken. For me, one of those unspoken thoughts occurs every Sunday prior to Christmas. I always find myself suppressing the urge to say, “Good to see everyone today. I hope to see some of you again next Sunday, and for the rest of you, I’ll see you on Easter.” – (See why those thoughts need suppressing?)

While the problem of only attending church twice a year is a problem that should not be addressed in the above fashion, it is a problem that does need to be addressed. The “twice-a-year church goer” is so common place in our society that today’s Urban Dictionary has given such people a name. They’re called “CEO’s” (Christmas & Easter Only).

Don’t misunderstand, I’m thankful when people think of Jesus, even if it is only twice a year. They need to think of him more, but twice is a starting point. I don’t want to criticize their movement in the right direction, but I don’t want them to think that such shallow commitment is equivalent to discipleship and sufficient to please God.

Being a Christian is so much more than attending church services twice a year. It is total commitment. It is self-denial. It is sacrifice. It is a pattern to be lived so others may follow. It is a life lived in response to the death of an innocent caused by our negligence. It is a sacred trust of one’s life into the hands of God.

Upon reflection, how could anyone seriously think that “twice-a-year” is an appropriate response to the eternal redemptive working of God which culminated in the horrific death of His Son? How could anything less than our entire lives – all we have to offer – be an acceptable response to God?

Next Sunday, our churches will be filled with CEO’s. What will we do with this opportunity? Certainly we must use “tact,” but not to the exclusion of “contact.” God’s word gives us the solution, “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

–Steve Higginbotham, MercEmail

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It won't happen to me

Some time ago, Cliff May started his article, “Future Shockwave,” this way:

“If you don’t live in Washington, New York, or another big city, you may think: ‘Even if the terrorists do strike again on American soil, my hometown and my family probably aren’t in danger.'”/1

Won’t happen to me. I’ll let New York go down the tubes, but I’ll be OK.

Human nature thinks it will happen to the other guy, or it will happen sometime down the road, so I don’t have to worry about it.

People get killed, maimed and mangled on the streets and highways every day, but plenty of souls refuse to wear seat belts and drive carelessly because they tell themselves, “It won’t happen to me.”

Drugs burn out users’ brains, and alcohol robs life from millions, but people keep drugging and drinking, because they tell themselves, “It won’t happen to me.”

Singles and marrieds have sex with multiple partners and never dream of getting a disease from their immorality, because they tell themselves, “It won’t happen to me.”

Good king Hezekiah got his life extended by 15 years and bungled when he showed the Babylonians all his treasures. When Isaiah told him his wealth would be carried away to Babylon and his descendants would be made eunuchs, he thought, “At least there will be peace and stability during my lifetime” (2 Kings 20:19 NET).

Even good guys can think it won’t happen to them.

Israel had suffered from Babylon’s incursions, exiles lived far from their homes and Ezekiel still spoke of more judgment to come from God’s hand. But they thought, “Ah, this is too far ahead to think about.”

“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Take note, son of man, the house of Israel is saying, “The vision that he sees is for distant days; he is prophesying about the far future.” Therefore say to them, “This is what the sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer! The word I speak will come to pass, declares the sovereign Lord”‘” (Ezekiel 12:26-28).

A rich man had his portfolio stuffed with stocks and futures, so he decided to retire and live the good life. Death? Won’t happen to me!

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).

I mustn’t tell myself it won’t happen to me. If the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day and the rich fool are any indication, the Lord may MAKE it happen to me for payback for my foolishness and arrogance.

The worst spot to think this is about my soul.

I can lose it before I blink. So I must be prepared. Every minute. Every place.

Here’s my paraphrase of an apostle.

“Don’t let your salvation slip between your fingers. God said, ‘I heard you in the nick of time, I helped you when it really mattered. Salvation Day.’ When is that day for you? It’s right now. Today. This very minute. Act now. Get right with God.”

Now go read 2 Corinthians 6:1-2.

— J. Randal Matheny via

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Don't tell people about the cross, it doesn't work

A WELL-KNOWN preacher once gave the following advice to a group of churches concerning their approach to evangelism:

“Don’t tell people about the cross, it doesn’t work.  Too many evangelistic efforts fail because they focus too much on the cross.  Just tell them God loves them and has a plan for them.”  He continued, “The message of a crucified Jew is ridiculous to the modern mind.  So move onto something better.  A crucified Messiah is stupid, but promise them prosperity, give them emotional experiences, provide them with self-esteem and then you’ll fill the pews.”

THOUGHTS: Avoiding the cross and catering to people’s external needs might “fill the pews,” but they will be pews filled with people still dying in their sins.  Without the cross, the Bible is just another neat story book.  Without the cross, Christianity is no more than a self-help seminar.  It was the cross that God displayed His wisdom and power.  (Mitchell Skelton)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

–Mike Benson

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Do you have a *slave card*?

Should we be amazed that Americans willingly sell their freedom for a measly price? Yet, many Americans eagerly swipe their slave card simply because they are impatient, to impress others or to make themselves feel good. Even Hebrew slaves gained more when forfeiting their liberty.

With red, white and blue flapping in the breeze above our heads while echoes about this being the land of opportunity still ringing in our ears, we often might wonder why any ancient Hebrew slave would have willingly rejected his right to go free. Scripture offered a powerful reason.

If the slave had been given a wife and she had bore him children, after the seventh year he could go free but his wife and children could not. However, this newly emancipated individual could chose, out of love for his family, to perpetually sacrifice his independence in order to remain with them (Exodus 21:2-6).

What is more difficult to fathom involves Americans willingly selling their independence merely to stimulate temporary feelings of self-worth or because they are too impatient to wait. Yet, according to the principle in Proverbs 22:7 (“the borrower is slave to the lender”), that is the price for swiping your credit card when you can not pay the bill in full.

During this holiday season, liberty will once again be undervalued as modern slavery thrives. For an embarrassingly small value, Americans will make a Faustian bargain trading their future time and work in order to satisfy an immediate desire. Long after the borrowed amount has been repaid, they will continue to toil enabling their masters to reap their own dreams at the expense of slave sweat.

–Barry Newton @

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Extra Terrestrial Commission *welcome wagon*

Faith In The Far-Fetched While Skeptical Of The Sure

“Shall the voters for the City and County of Denver adopt an initiated
Ordinance to require the creation of an extraterrestrial affairs commission
to help ensure the health, safety, and cultural awareness of Denver
residents and visitors in relation to potential encounters or interactions
with extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles, and fund such
commissions from grants, gifts, and donations?”  Yes___ No ___

Jeff Peckman, a Denver resident, was able to secure ten thousand signatures and get this ballot title drawn for next year’s elections. Peckman created the Extra Terrestrial Commission to be a “welcome wagon” when the aliens show up in the Mile High city.

This is not a joke.  At least, I am not joking with you.

This raises a question that is intriguing.  How many people in this nation believe there are extraterrestrial beings out there and/or down here?  What is the basis for their faith? We have seen TV specials or magazines or photos of alleged space ships or aliens.  People claim to have been abducted or to have had close encounters with them.  Some even suggest that aliens are responsible for the creation and design of this planet and its inhabitants (dodging, though not artfully, the tough question of how the aliens came into being).  Some, though I dearly hope a scant minority, earnestly believe there are “extraterrestrial intelligent beings” out there.

A growing number seem strident in their denial of what the Bible proposes.  The Word of God gives a simple, logical explanation for our origins.  It explains the purpose of mankind on this earth.  It speaks of a God in heaven and an eternal future either with Him or separated from Him.  People scoff away such a possibility, ridiculing the intelligence and sanity of those who trust this to be true.  They can be the butt of jokes.

The proposed alternative to special creation by an uncaused, eternal, and intelligent being is uncaused, eternal matter giving rise to design, intelligence, morality, procreative abilities, and much more.  How did that dust get here?  How did it grow more complicated?  How did some of it gradually become a fern or a hippopotamus or a barnacle or a rock or a human being? How did an octillion more things happen to get us from that power-packed, uncaused mass of stuff to the boundless, ordered universe in which we now live, breathe, and comprehend?

The most reasonable explanation involves a loving God who created man in His own image, who created for mankind a world fit to be inhabited–complete with food and water and the other essentials to make life perpetuated from generation to generation.  Not only does it best explain design, the cosmos, morality, intelligence, and the like, it makes reasonable the idea that such a Being, God, could communicate His thoughts, intentions, and will through scripture and superintend the process of revelation that gives us, even today, precisely what He wanted us to know.
Mindless chance, aliens, or a loving, limitless God.  What seems most reasonable?

=-Neal Pollard

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