Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Little Jam on the Bread

The teacher asked the pupils to tell the meaning of loving-kindness. A little boy jumped up and said, "Well, if I was hungry and someone gave me a piece of bread that would be kindness. But it they put a little jam on it, that would be loving kindness."


Pulpit Helps
, November 1996, p. 8.

An Unforgettable Fragrance

By Randy Fenter

"But Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphant procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. for we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. "For to one we are the smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life." II Corinthians 2:14-16

When a Roman conqueror returned to the city, the Senate would arrange for him a triumphal procession. Swelling throngs would engulf the procession, cheering the conqueror as he rode by. Marching before the conqueror's chariot were captives bearing smoking pots of incense and wearing garlands of flowers. These prisoners would be allowed to return to their native country and serve as Rome's emissaries.

Behind the chariot marched other captives; these men and women were joined together with heavy chains that clattered over the rough cobblestones. For them, the procession was a cruel gauntlet ending in death.

To the first group the sweet smell of garlands and incense was "the fragrance of life." To the second group it was "the smell of death." That is precisely the effect we have on others as God, through us, "spreads everywhere the fragrance of knowledge of Him." We do not leave the world the same. As God spreads the fragrance of Jesus over the world through us, we affect people in one of two ways; they either become bitter or better. Either way, they go away differently. To those who refuse the King of Kings we are "the smell of death." They know the demands of the conqueror and they refuse him. To those who freely give up their citizenship to accept citizenship in His Kingdom, we are the "fragrance of life."

To both groups we are an unforgettable fragrance. We leave no one the same.


"Come Unto Me," the weekly bulletin of the Richfield Church of Christ, Richfield, MN, June 18, 1996, p. 2. 

And There They Crucified Him

By Dwaine Powell

Everywhere you turn, the cross of Jesus Christ was there in Paul's life. It was central in his teachings and it was the core of his life. Nothing mattered more than the cross. When the Christians would gather together, the cross of Jesus was there. And when they left, the cross would follow them. Paul made us aware of the "beauty" of that cross. What better way could you describe the love of God demonstrated, he would tell the Christians in Rome. He also made us aware of the challenge the cross brings to our lives. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and have himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) This was the essence of his life, and the essence fo life for all who cherish the old rugged cross.

However, it is alarming at how the cross of Jesus is not central to our lives. I am not talking about our assembly. Our songs, our prayers, our reflection around the Lord's Table, the messages that are brought, all have the cross of Jesus in plain view. I'm talking about afterwards when we leave and go our separate ways. Does the cross of Jesus follow you home? Does it impact your marriage, your family, your relationship with your roommates? Is the cross of Jesus present at your workplace? Is it next to you in the classroom? How about on the lake, the golf course, or the battlefield? Is the cross of Jesus central in your every day life? Does it govern your thoughts? Does it shape your behavior? Are you crucified with Christ? Like Paul, is the cross of Jesus Christ the central core of your life?

If the cross is not present outside of our assembly, it is we who have hauled it out of sight. It is we who must restore it to the central place it deserves. The following piece by George MacLeod conveys a firm conviction that, hopefully, you possess.

I simply argue that the cross be raised again

at the center of the market place
as well as on the steeple of the church,
I am recovering the claim that
Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral
between two candles,
But on a cross between two thieves;
on a town garbage heap;
at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan
that they had to write His title
in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek ...
And at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
and thieves curse and soldiers gamble.
Because that is where He died,
and that is what He died about.
And that is where Christ's men ought to be,
and what church people ought to be about.


The Friendly Visitor
, the weekly bulletin of the Auburn Church of Christ, Auburn, AL; June 5, 1997, p. 1. 

Aware Too Late

By Victor Knowles

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) loved his wife. She loved to help her husband in his writing career. But she became ill with cancer and was confined to bed. Though he loved her dearly, Carlyle was so busy writing that he rarely found time to stay at her bedside.

The day of her burial it rained and the mud was deep. After the funeral, Carlyle returned home, deeply shaken. He went into his wife's bedroom, sat down on a chair beside her bed, realizing he had not spent enough time with her in her illness.

From the bedside table he picked up her diary and began to read. One line smote his heart: "Yesterday he spent an hour with me and it was like being in heaven. I love his so." He turned the page and this time his heart was broken, for she had written, "I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won't come today."

Carlyle threw the diary to the floor and rushed back to the cemetery in the rain. Friends found him face down in the mud at the newly made grace. He was weeping, saying over and over, "If I had only known!  If I had only known!"


Pulpit Helps
, date unknown.

Blunders Can Have Great Value

By Rubel Shelly

The March 13 issue of
Coin World carries exciting news for coin collectors. The Philadelphia mint struck a number of 1995 pennies with a faulty die. What's so exciting about a "boo-boo" at the mind? It makes those coins with the out-of-focus words "Liberty" and "In God" valuable items for collectors.

Early estimates are that the penny could be worth somewhere between $175 and $225. That amounts to quite a return on a paltry one-cent investment!


Pulpit Helps
, April 1996, p. 8.

Customer Slashed For Too Many Items in Express Lane

MILWAUKEE (Associated Press) — A supermarket customer was charged Saturday with cutting off part of a woman’s nose after that woman went to an express checkout lane with too many items.

Etharine Pettigrew, 41, was charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, which carries a maximum sentence of a $10,000 fine and two years in prison.

The victim, 27-year-old Vickie Lemons, was slashed with a pocket knife in a parking lot Wednesday, police Capt. Joseph Purpero said.

She lost about half her nose and had to undergo surgery, said her fiance, James Powell.

A counter clerk whose lane was free motioned to Lemons even though she had more than the 10 items allowed at that cash register.


Southeast Missourian
, April 12, 1998, p. 6A.

Forgetting Our Purpose

By John Gipson

Most people have a more rounded education than mine. They read the comics - something I haven't done since Dick Tracy, Dagwood and Blondie, Smilin' Jack and Li'l Abner. I guess I just got out of the habit.

However, a few years ago Allen Isbell sent me a comic strip entitled Kudzu by Doug Marlette. Since that time I can proudly say that I read one comic strip each day.

A recent offering shows the preacher, holding his Bible, standing in front of the church house door. A rather large and aggressive lady has him cornered, and she is giving him what for. "What - No tanning salon?!... No juice bar!... No food court!... No fitness center!... No jacuzzi!... No sauna!... No skating rink!... AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A HOUSE OF WORSHIP!"

This brought to mind a time when Jesus went in the temple and found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, along with the money-changers at their business. You can imagine the noise, odor, and general commotion. The atmosphere must have been somewhat like a county fair, or carnival. Was Jesus pleased? Hardly! He cleaned them out - lock, stock and barrel.

God's intention was that the house which was called by His name should "be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (Isaiah 56:7). but in time the original purpose had been largely forgotten. God's house had become a house of trade occupied by a den of robbers.

And if we are not careful, we will repeat the same mistake and forget what God's house (the church) is all about today.


, the weekly bulletin of the Sixth and Izard Church of Christ, Little Rock, AR; March 6, 1997, p. 1.

Glory Be To God For Everything

By John Gipson

These words, "Glory be to God for everything," were spoken by a preacher who had suffered much. John Chrysostom had experienced his first exile in Cucusos, where he was kindly treated and could write to his friends and could receive frequent visits.

But in 407 A.D. this changed. The eastern emperor decided on a more distant, much harsher exile. As J. N. D. Kelly recounts the story, two praetorian guards were to take him to Pityus on the eastern shores of the Black Sea. Chrysostom was frail, but forced to walk. The guards had been promised promotion if their prisoner died in route. After a cruel journey to a hamlet (today Bizeri), Chrysostom is described as "racked with fever, his face burnt brick red by the hot summer sun, he was at the end of his tether."

His last words were: "Glory be to God for everything."

I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul. He enjoins us to give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father in everything, and always (Ephesians 5:20).

It was a secret Paul had learned - regardless of his circumstances. He could sing praises to God at midnight while he experienced the discomfort of Philippian stocks.

When one truly appreciates the grace of God in not sparing His own Son, but given Him up for us all, he has no doubt that God will "also give us all things with him" (Romans 5:32).

"And it is when we learn by experience," says F. F. Bruce, "that, to those who love Him, God makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), that we can wholeheartedly give Him thanks 'always for all things.'"


Keynoter, the weekly bulletin of the Sixth and Izard Church of Christ, Little Rock, AR; November 2, 1995, p. 3. 

Hey, Soldier! Whose Side Are You On?

By Al Maxey

The tale is told of a soldier during the Civil War who simply could not make up his mind which side of the conflict he supported. Thus, he dressed in a blue coat and gray pants, and walked down the center of the battlefield confident of his approval by both sides ... and was immediately shot by both sides.

Jesus tells us we can't be "fence riders" when the issues involve matters of eternal consequence. We must choose. "You are either with Me, or against Me," our Lord declares., "but you cannot be both!"

A story is related of an elderly German woman who, as her village was being entered by an American unit during the final days of the second world war, stood in the middle of the street holding a small U.S. flag. Her friends told her she was crazy; she should hid and wait to see who would win. She replied, "I want them to know which side I'm on!"


Taken from Hey, Soldier! Whose Side Are You On? Pulpit Helps, November 1996, p. 8.

If We Were Really Wise

By Helen M. Young

Socrates said over 2,000 years ago: "Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim, “Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to who one day you must relinquish it all.”

We are concerned about the little training in the bible which the children of America are receiving.  We do not claim to know exactly how it can be done in every instance, but we are committed to the proposition that America's greatest need is spiritual rather than material. We believe we must restore God to the central place in our training program for our children.

If God is our creator, if He is our Father, if He is the one who sustains us, and gives us every blessing, then we cannot really understand anything in his universe apart from Him. Every thing relates to Him. We came from Him. We live to fulfill His purpose for us. We shall face Him in judgment. He cannot be ignored or relegated to the periphery of our life with impunity.

We pray that God will help our generation to restore Him to His proper place in the training of our children.

"I saw tomorrow look at me

From little children's eyes,
And thought how carefully we would teach
If we were really wise."



Listening To Churchill

By Charles Hodge

Without any argument Winston Churchill was a great, powerful orator. His speeches saved England. He also agreed with Hodge. I feel better when someone agrees! Winston knew preaching was not talent. He was a habitual stutterer with a congenital lisp. He did know the power of oration - greater than that of a kind. He studied, practiced, made himself a speaker. Preaching is not talent.

He also preached preparation. H. M. Goodwyn said, "Preparation is the hardest part." Coach Wilkinson said, "It is not the will to win but the will to prepare." Winston got up his own speeches. To him, preparation was crucial. He said, "The three most difficult things were to climb a ladder leading toward you, to kiss a girl leaning from you, and to make an after-dinner speech." He tirelessly honed his drafts and rehearsed his delivery. He underlined ... added dots and dashes ... to emphasize. Nothing was left to chance. He despised unprepared speakers who "winged it." "He is one of those who before he gets up, does not know what he is going to say; when he is speaking, does not know what he is saying, and when he has sat down doesn't know what he has said." PREPARATION.

Churchill also advised to vary the pose, change the pitch, and never forget the pause. Pretty good stuff!

Then, the clincher. This is for preachers only. The rest of you cease reading. Churchill said, "The most practical delivery is worthless without sincerity or conviction." POW! Preachers are not making speeches - they are stating a message from God. Preachers are not performers trying to make a "10" as in gymnastics. Words made by pollsters, image-shapers, ultimately fail. You can practice - you can prepare - but insincerity will kill it! Preachers are to be men who know the hard-won principles, who live them -

Then preach them! Thank you, Winston!


Keynoter, the weekly bulletin of the Sixth and Izard Church of Christ, Little Rock, AR; June 13, 1996, p. 3. 


By Rubel Shelly

At the 1988 Olympics, Dan Jansen was given a good chance to win gold medals in speed-skating. In his best event, the 500 meters, he crashed and ell coming out of the first turn. Later, in the 1,000 meters, skating a gold-medal pace and two-thirds through the event, he caught a skate blade in the ice on a straightway and tumbled into a heap.

Years of discipline, training, and hoping went sprawling on the ice with him. He must have been devastated. But he handled it with such grace. "What's happened in the last week has absolutely put things in a different perspective." Jansen said, "and I don't feel as bad as I would have."

You see, his 27-year-old sister had died earlier on the day of his first race. It put his failure to win an Olympic medal in perspective for him.

Whatever you have done is probably neither as wonderful nor as dreadful as you are tempted to think it is. Someone else can do better. Many others have done worse. God is till on his throne, and life goes on.


Pulpit Helps
, November 1996, p. 8.

Sentenced To Church For a Year

By Bob Plunket

That is right! U.S. District Judge David O. Below, Jr., sentenced Emma Jean Oliver to one year of church attendance with death about the only excuse for missing. A probation officer was assigned to enforce it. Emma Jean has four children. She was guilty of drug trafficking and faced a three year sentence in a federal penitentiary and an $250,000 fine.

It shook the legal world. One side said, "What kind of message does this send to drug traffickers if they know their sentence will be sitting in church for a n hour or two a week." Another side said, "It makes church attendance sound like a punishment when it should be a joy." Surely some will cry, "It is unconstitutional." What this really shows is the total frustration of judges. She has no $250,000 fine money. Who will take care of the children if she goes to prison? After three years will she start all over in drug trafficking?

What judges are noticing is this. Parents who take their children to Sunday school and worship and then live and practice these Christian principles at home have about a ninety percent success rate with their children. Some have said, "Oh, we took our children to church, but just look at them." Nothing could be more frustrating to a child than to hear the beautiful principles ad values of Jesus and then live with parents who never practice them.

The judge was sending a message here to parents, and the message is this. If you love your children and want them to grow up with values and convictions and to lead a productive life, take them to Jesus, the greatest teacher and the greatest life that has ever been lived, and then live this life before them at home. There are a few of these who are overcome by the world and peer pressure but only a few. Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not ...' (Matthew 19:14). The wise man said, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart" (Proverbs 22:6).

And how is Emma doing? Emma has not missed a service and she says she loves it. Emma says being with better people is making her better. What if the judge had sentenced Emma to us? What would she see in our house? The whole country is watching Emma's case.


The Messenger, the weekly bulletin of the Slicer Street Church of Christ in Kennett, MO, date unknown. 

She Bought a Fancy Coffin

By Jim Bassett

Mrs. Frances Hiller of Wilmington, Massachusetts, passed away in the spring of 1900. Mrs. Hiller was not known for the substance of her life, but for the dreams of her death.

She bought a $30,000 carved coffin, placed it in her parlor, and frequently climbed into it to show visitors just how glorious she would appear. After tiring of that in-and-out process, she placed a wax dummy in the ornate box and dressed it in her $20,000 funeral robe. Thirty-five years after her death, the gaudy Hiller mausoleum, which included an identical coffin containing her husband, was seen as an eyesore and destroyed.

The reason folks are so preoccupied with their burial status is usually due to their lack of belief in God's Word. For Christians, there are these comforting words: 'Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands' (2 Cor. 5:1).


Pulpit Helps
, date unknown.

They Did It All

The little boy listened as the Sunday school teacher read the Bible. He raised his hand with a question, and said, "The Bible says that the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. The children of Israel built the Temple. The children of Israel did this and the children of Israel did that. Didn't the grown-ups ever do anything?"



Twice to the Rescue

A young English aristocrat, happening on a inviting pond, found it irresistible and, shedding his clothes, jumped into the refreshing cool water for a pleasant swim. Unexpectedly seized by fierce cramps, he was unable to swim back to shore. Desperately he cried for help. Another young man working in a field nearby heard the noise and rushed to the pond as quickly as possible. seeing the youth slipping beneath the surface, he jumped in and saved him.

The next day the young fellow who came to the rescue was approached by the father of the boy he had saved. A rich man, he wanted to show his gratitude. Eventually his conversation coaxed from the rough hewn young man an expression of his hidden desire  to study medicine, so the grateful father promised to pay for him to go to medicine school. He went, and he excelled.

According to Peter Marshall, some years later Winston Churchill became gravely ill with pneumonia in Africa and, knowing of the wonder drug penicillin, asked for Dr. Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, to come to his aid. So Fleming came by express flight, administered the drug and saved Churchill's life - for the second time! For he had saved him in the bond years earlier.


Pulpit Helps
, date unknown.

Ty Cobb at 70

When Ty Cobb was 70, a reporter asked him, "What do you think you'd hit if you were playing these days?"

Cobb, who was a life-time .367 hitter, said, "About .290, maybe .300."

The reporter said, "That's because of the travel, the night games, the artificial turf, and all the new pitches like the slider, right?"

"No," said Cobb, "it's because I'm 70."

Whether we are looking forward to it or not, we're all getting older.

Truth is, old age frightens most of us. I think Jonathan Swift was right when he said, "Every man desires to live long, but no man wants to be old."

Old age should be something looked upon with honor and respect. The Jews were commanded, "You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man..." (Lev. 19:32).

But we live in a society where youth is glorified, so age is something you cover up or deny. The talents and skills of the elderly, acquired over a lifetime, are often ignored. Perhaps, a sense of not feeling of value to others leads to questions of value in the sight of God.

Even David expressed his fear when he prayed to God, "Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails." (Psa. 71:9).

Fortunately, we know that God will not forsake us then (or at any other time!). Though we may not be able to do at 70 what we could do at 40, there is much to be offered (both to God and others) in the "golden years".

May God help us to appreciate and respect those who are our elders.


Alan Smith's "Thought For The Day," date unknown. This piece, although not attributed, is found also at Christian Stories.