Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Lesson on How to Treat People

   During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz.  I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:
   “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”
   Was this some kind of joke? I had seen the cleaning woman several times.  She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?
   I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
   “Absolutely,” said the professor.  “In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say, ‘hello.’” I’ve never forgotten that lesson.
   Her name was Dorothy.


- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Are You Unhappy Were You Are?

    Government surveyors came to Ole's farm in the fall and asked if they could do some surveying. Ole agreed, and Lena even served them a nice meal at noon time.
    The next spring, the two surveyors stopped by and told Ole, "Because you were so kind to us, we wanted to give you this bad news in person instead of by letter."
    Ole replied, "What's the bad news?"
    The surveyors stated, "Well, after our work here, we discovered your farm is not in Minnesota but is actually in Wisconsin!"
    Ole said, "That's the best news I have heard in a long time!  I just told Lena this morning that I don't think I can take another winter in Minnesota."
    That joke reminds me that many people think they would be happier if they were living somewhere else ("the grass is always greener on the other side").  They think that moving will make their lives better. They're unhappy with their friends or their family and they think a change of location will fix their problems. They feel miserable in their job or neighborhood and they want to escape. Everything would be so different if they just lived somewhere else. 
    How much better we would be if we could learn to have the contentment that the apostle Paul did, who was able to say, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." (Philippians 4:11-12).  The truth is that changing locations usually doesn't change anything, because the bigger problem is not in the world around us, but within us.
    May God fill you with his joy and peace so that you can can be content wherever you are right now!
Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com


Asking Questions In The Right Order

    Bob had finally made it to the last round of the TV game show $50,000 Question TV.  Given his choice of a category, he told the host MC that he wanted a question on American History.
    The big night arrived.  Bob made his way onstage in front of the studio and TV audience.  He had become the talk of the week.  He was the best guest this show had ever seen.  The MC stepped up to the mike.
    "Bob, you have chosen American History as your final question.  You know that if you correctly answer this question, you will walk away $50,000 dollars richer.  Are you ready?"
    Bob nodded with a cocky confidence -- the crowd went nuts. He hadn't missed a question all week.
    "Bob, yours is a two-part question. As you know, you may answer either part first.  As a rule, the second half of the question is always easier. Which part would you like to take a stab at first?"
    Bob was becoming more noticeably nervous. American History was his easiest subject, but he wanted to play it safe.  "I'll try the easier part first."
    The MC nodded approvingly. "Here we go Bob. I will ask you the second half first, then the first half."  The audience grew silent with anticipation...
    "Bob, here is your question: And in what year did it happen?"
    In our Christian walk, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked.  And it seems to me that it is important not only to ask the right questions but to ask them in the right order.  The Pharisees, for example, first asked Jesus questions such as, "Why aren't you washing your hands properly?" (Matthew 15:1-3).  Even the disciples of John asked Jesus, "Why don't you fast?" (Matthew 9:14).  It's not that those were bad questions to ask.  The problem was, they were asking those questions first instead of more important questions like, "What can we do in our lives that would demonstrate justice and mercy and faith?" (Matthew 25:23) or "Who is this Jesus?" (Matthew 16:15).
    It's so easy to get caught up asking the wrong questions first.  Questions about premillennialism or the role of women in the church or which translation of the Bible we should read are not bad questions.  For that matter, asking where Cain got his wife isn't a bad question!  But those shouldn't be the first questions we ask.  Questions related to God's nature and God's desire for a relationship with us and how to demonstrate love and faith in our lives must be asked first.  Because if we get the questions out of order, we will find ourselves just as stumped as Bob was in the story above.
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com


Banking Woes

    A young lady came running in tears to her father.  “Dad, you gave me some terrible financial advice!” she cried.
   “I did? What did I tell you?” said the dad.
   “You told me to put my money in that big bank, and now that big bank is in trouble.”
   “What are you talking about? That’s one of the biggest banks in the world,” he said.  “Surely there must be some mistake.”
    “I don’t think so,” she sobbed.  “They just returned one of my checks with a note, saying, ‘insufficient funds!’”

    (There will always be insufficiency of funds if we trust our own goodness.  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” [Rom. 3:23].  Our sufficiency is only in Christ.)

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com


Catching Up

     Two Alabama State Troopers were chasing a Camaro east on I-20 toward Georgia.  When the suspect crossed the Georgia line, the first Trooper pulled over quickly.
     The rookie Trooper pulled in behind him and said, "Hey Sarge, why did you stop?"
     The Sergeant replied, "Stupid rookie, he's in Georgia now.  They're an hour ahead of us, so we'll never catch him."
     I know the feeling.  Not of being in a car chase, but of feeling that there's no way I can ever catch up.  I experience it weekly, if not daily. There never seem to be enough hours in a day.  I always feel one step behind where I ought to be.  Do you know the feeling as well?  Allow me to remind you of a Bible verse:
     "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psa. 46:10)
     But I can't take time to be still!  I have places to go, things to do, phone calls to make, deadlines to meet!
     "Be still, and know that I am God."
     But if I do that, I'll never get caught up!
     "Be still, and know that I am God."
     Father, forgive me of the times that I am in such a hurry that I have no time for you.  Please quiet my spirit and remind me of who you are and how much I need you.  In Jesus' name, amen.
Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com

Children Are Quick

Teacher: “Why are you late?”
Student: Class started before I got here.”

Teacher: Glen, why do you get so dirty?
Glen: I’m a lot closer to the ground than you are.

Teacher: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
Simon: No sir.  I don’t have to ‘cause my Mom is a good cook.

Teacher: Clyde , your composition on “My dog” is exactly the same as your brother’s.  Did you copy his?
Clyde: No sir.  It’s the same dog.

Teacher: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
Harold: a teacher.

 “He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15).

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com


Decline and Fall

   Edward Gibbon lists the following reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire :
1. The rapid increase of divorce, the undermining of the dignity and the sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society;
2. Higher and higher taxes, and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure, sports, becoming every year more exciting, brutal and dishonest.
4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was with the decadence of the people.
5. The decay of religion—faith fading into more form—losing touch with life and becoming important to guide the people.

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com


Free Medical Advice

   Six-year-old Judy complained, “Mother, I’ve got a stomachache.”  “That’s because your stomach is empty,” her mother replied.  “You would feel better if you had something in it.”  That afternoon the minister came to visit, remarking in conversation that he was suffering a headache.  Little Judy perked up.  “That’s because it’s empty,” she said.  You’d feel much better if you had something in it.”

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com


God Sent Help

    A woman received a call that her daughter was sick.  She hurried to the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys inside.
    The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground.  She looked at it and said, “I don’t know how to use this.”
    She bowed her head and asked God to send her some HELP.
    Within 5 minutes a beat-up old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag.  He got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.
    She said, “Yes, my daughter is sick.  I’ve locked my keys in my car.  I must get home.  Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”
    He said, “Sure.”  He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was open.
    She hugged the man, and through tears said, “Thank you SO much! You are a very nice man."
    The man replied, “Lady, I am NOT a nice man.  I just got out of PRISON yesterday.  I was in prison for car theft.”
    The woman hugged the man again, sobbing, “Oh, thank you, God! You even sent me a professional!”

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com


Head Injuries

     The sport of football has undergone a great amount of scrutiny in the last few years. Amateur and professional athletes have endured traumas to their heads that have resulted in concussions and possibly long-term effects such as dementia and memory loss. Studies have been publicized in journals, newspaper articles and documentaries. Results from the light shed on this problem include improvements in headgear and rule-changes concerning tackling. Even with the changes, there is still an awareness that football is a sport that carries the very real possibility of  injury. Players and parents should be aware of the risks. 
     There is another type of head injury, however that is now being discussed   concerning the NFL: verbal abuse. The recent incident involving a player for the Miami dolphins has sparked conversations about this problem. A young offensive lineman withdrew from the team because of abuse that he has   allegedly taken from his teammates. While speculation should be approached with caution, it is still sad  to see these types of things coming from athletic teams.  
     Over the years, we have come to see coaches and players involved in incidents that have resulted in tirades and screaming at individuals or groups. A decrease in sportsmanship and  a marked increase in taunting and trash-talking have been seen in the last twenty years at all levels of athletic events. 
    These types of incidents are also indicative of a social issue involving individuals from all walks of life. People apparently feel justified in saying what- ever comes to their mind, not only by mouth, but also by posting on social net- works as well. 
     Some people believe the answer is  the implement of anti-bullying rules and laws. Ironically, this call comes in the midst of a culture that openly challenges rules and laws. The true answer to this problem lies in an examination of one’s heart and a correction on a personal level. 
     As with most social issues, this problem began at individual levels and became pervasive through society. In other words, it starts in the heart and we must conquer  it one heart at a time. As we live  within the framework of relationships, we must practice self-control and expect others to do the same. Bitterness must not be fostered and encouraged and words must be chosen wisely. 
     Let us heed the words of  Scripture and encourage those around us to do the same. “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a broken spirit, who can bear? . . . “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:16, 21)

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com


I Prayed to God For You

I prayed to God for you today.
Not with a mouth in language skilled
But with the hope that by His care
You would be comforted and filled
With His great love and tenderness; 
That He would help you then to build
Your own life on the solid rock
Of His dear Son whose blood was spilled
To save us from our sins, that with
His love and grace our hearts are filled.
Have you prayed to God for me?

I did not know if you would go
To talk with Him about your need
And so I went on your behalf,
To thank Him for you, and to plead
That He would let me, as His child,
Lend you my strength and intercede
By sharing with you all your load,
That I would not your way impede.
We share each other’s load in love,
To be to friends a friend indeed.
Have you prayed to God for me?

I know the struggle you have had
With thorns and stones that crowd your way,
What hardship you have overcome
In getting where you are today.
I prayed that God would bless you as
You find in Him your strength and stay.
I struggle with those things myself,
And so I ask my friends to pray. .
That I can meet my trials and
Not fall or stumble on my way.
Have you prayed to God for me?


- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola Church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

Is There Anyone Who Thinks He Can Whip Me?

     The following story comes from Robert Norris (via Reader's Digest):
     "My brother and I arrived at boot camp together. On the first morning, our unit was dragged out of bed by our drill sergeant and made to assemble outside. 'My name's Sergeant Jackson,' he snarled. 'Is there anyone here who thinks he can whip me?'
     "My six-foot-three, 280-pound brother raised his hand and said, 'Yes, sir, I do.'
     "Our sergeant grabbed him by the arm and led him out in front of the group.  'Men,' he said, 'this is my new assistant. Now, is there anyone here who thinks he can whip both of us?'"
     That humorous story reminds me of our relationship with God.  As we look out at the world, our pride and our sense of independence may cause us to feel that we can take on anything life has to throw at us.  But life will let us know very quickly that we are no match.  The trials of life have a way of beating us down and causing us to feel helpless at times.
     But God stands by our side and suddenly our confidence is renewed, because there truly is no one or nothing strong enough to defeat us both.  
     "What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
     "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (I John 4:4)
     "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afarid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
     May you find your confidence this day not in your own strength, but in the strength of the One who stands by your side.
Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com

It Is Okay to Be Fred Kaps

     If you went out today and asked people on the street to tell you who Fred Kaps is, you would most likely be met with stunned silence or asked, “Fred who?” But even though it has been almost half a century since they made their first American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th, 1964, people still know who the Beatles are, and most can probably even name John, Paul, George and Ringo if asked to do so. So just what is the connection here with Fred Kaps and the Beatles? Well, Fred Kaps was the unfortunate act who followed that wildly successful Beatles performance that took the nation and the world by storm on that Sunday evening long ago, leaving Beatlemania in its wake, while hardly anyone seemingly remembers Fred Kaps.
      Fred Kaps was actually a quite talented magician. On that fateful night in 1964 he gave a flawless, amazingly wonderful performance involving a card and a salt shaker. Simply because he followed the Beatles that winter evening that fact has virtually become lost to history. But just because people do not remember Fred Kaps does not change for one moment the truth that he did give a splendid performance in his own right.
     Sometimes as Christians we forget that it is okay to be Fred Kaps in our service to the Lord. Even Scripture reminds us of this when Paul writes, 28. And God hath set some in the church, first Apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29. Are all Apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30. Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31. But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:28-31) Paul then went on to give his great exposition of love in the next chapter, and love is something that all of us certainly are capable of giving to others.
     We have a great example given of someone in the Bible whom we are never told had any supernatural gift at all, and yet she is deemed one of the most praiseworthy of individuals in all of Scripture, and her name is Tabitha Dorcas: “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did,” (Acts 9:36). Tabitha Dorcas used what God had given her, a heart full of love and compassion for others, and seamstress’s hands, loving and caring hands that sought to do what they could to benefit others. When she died and Peter was standing among the grieving friends of Dorcas, “all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them” (Acts 9:39b).
     Learn the lesson of Fred Kaps and Tabitha Dorcas. Do not give up on serving the Lord because someone else seemingly is more successful than you are. Do what you can for the Lord while it is still day, for night is coming when no more work can be done. The Lord knows and He will always remember your good works! “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).
               
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx


Lesson in Motivation

     I was reading about a young man who had a date with this very beautiful girl. They took a ride one evening out to the lake. He was riding her around the lake in a car. The moon was shining beautifully out on the lake, and she said to him, "Now if you'll get the top of this car down I'll give you a kiss right here, in the moonlight."
     He was talking to his friend later on and said, "You know, I got that top down in about 10 minutes."
     He said, "10 minutes? I could get mine down in 10 seconds!"
     He said, "I know, but you've a convertible!!"

- Clarence DeLoach, 2013 FHU Lectureship


Making Ourselves Available

    A man was going up to bed, when his wife told him he'd left the light on in the garden shed - she could see it from the bedroom window.  But he said that he hadn't been in the shed that day.  He looked, and there were men in the shed, stealing things.  He rang the police, but they told him that no one was in his area, so no one was available to catch the thieves.
    He said OK, hung up, counted to 30 and rang the police again. "Hello. I just rang you a few seconds ago because there were people in my shed?  Well, you don't have to worry about them now, I've just shot them all."
    Within five minutes there were half a dozen police cars in the area, an Armed Response unit, the works.  Of course, they caught the burglars red-handed. One of the policeman said to this man: "I thought you said you'd shot them!"
    He replied, "I thought you said there was no one available!"
    The same thing happens frequently in my life.  Someone asks me to do something and I respond, "I don't have the time."  Often, what I mean by that is, "I don't regard this as important enough."  The truth is, we find (or make) the time to do whatever we regard to be important.
    Someone has said you can tell a person's priorities by looking at his checkbook.  There is a great deal of validity to that.  We are willing to spend money on the things we think are important.  But perhaps a greater indicator of our priorities would be our planning books -- a record of how our time is spent.
    For all of us, choices must be made.  We don't have time to do everything, so we must choose those things which are of greatest importance to us.  Just be careful that your choices are those things which are also most important to God.  The greatest men and women in the Bible were not those with the greatest resources or talents, but they were men and women who made themselves available to be used by God whenever He called.  May God never hear us say, "Sorry, but I'm not available!"
    "Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV)
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com


No One Made It!

     Sir Isaac Newton was in his office one day when he received a knock at his door. He
opened it to find a good friend of the scientific community who happened to be on the
opposite side of the beginning-of-the-universe controversy.
     As he entered the room his eyes were drawn to a large table on which sat a scale model
of the universe. It was exquisitely detailed—painted even down to the circles of Saturn.
It was mechanical—a handle caused the planets to rotate around the sun. This moving
replica was an amazing phenomenon.
     “My, what a wonderful thing this is!” he exclaimed. “This is the most extraordinary
thing I have seen! What genius put this together? I should really like to shake his hand.”
Sir Newton replied, “No one made it.” His friend retorted, “You must think that I am a
fool...Some very wise and talented person made this.”
     Newton’s reply is still a wise answer to the controversy today on origins: This thing is
but a puny imitation of a much greater system whose laws you know and I know, and I
am not able to convince you that this mere toy is without a designer and a maker. Yet
you profess to believe that the great original from which the design is taken has come
into being without either designer or maker. Now tell me, by what sort of reasoning do
you reach such incongruous conclusions?

Author unknown

- via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere Church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org


Old as the Hills

    The census taker knocked on the lady's door.  She answered all his questions except one.  She refused to tell him her age.
    "But everyone tells their age to the census taker," he said.
    "Did Miss Maisy Hill, and Miss Daisy Hill tell you their ages?" she asked.
    "Certainly," he replied.
    "Well, I'm the same age as they are," she snapped.
    The census taker simply wrote on the form, "As old as the Hills."
    You may have heard that our nation's oldest person, a 113-year-old woman, died recently just weeks before her 114th birthday.  The world's oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, is a Japanese man, who will turn 116 next week. The oldest person ever on record was a Frenchwoman who was 122 when she died in 1997.  All of these could easily be described with the phrase, "As old as the hills."
    But they are all babies when compared with Methuselah.  You recognize his name.  He's known in the Bible for one thing -- being the oldest person mentioned.  969 years old!  That's a lot of years.  And I think it's sad. Not that he was so old, but because that's what he is known for.  He's not known for his great faith, for his moral courage, or for his righteousness. He's known for being old.
    In fact, if you do the math, you come up with an interesting fact -- Methuselah died the year it started flooding.  Was it just a coincidence, or was Methuselah one of the many who perished in that judgment of God?  We don't know.
    I just pray that some day I'll be remembered, not for the number of years I lived upon this earth, but for the way that I lived while I was here.
    "The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness." (Proverbs 16:31)
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com


The Green Jacket

     Two personal friends came very close to winning one of golf’s premier tournaments, the 2009 Masters championship.  Instead, Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell reached a three-man playoff that was won by Angel Cabrera.  Instead of Perry becoming the oldest winner in history, Cabrera became the first golfer from Argentina to wear the coveted green jacket, given to the winner of the tournament.
     Perry’s attitude in defeat put things in proper perspective: “If this is the worst thing that happens to me, I can live with it.”  The Associated Press reported, “He was as gracious as ever.”  Perry said, “I may never get this opportunity again, but I had a lot of fun being in there.  I had the tournament to win.  I lost the tournament.  But Angel hung in there; I was proud of him.”
     Of infinitely more importance than this special GREEN JACKET is a WHITE ROBE pictured in the final book of the Bible.  This imagery reflects wonderful spiritual and eternal blessings.   In Revelation 7:13-14, John wrote: "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from? … These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
     John, guided by the Holy Spirit, also recorded Jesus’ description of some faithful Christians in Sardis: “You have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels” (Revelation 3:4-5).
     In these beautiful, symbolic passages, John describes a splendid reality: because God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins so that we might wear “white robes,” representing the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus (John 3:16).
     Very few of us will ever wear the “GREEN JACKET,”  but EACH of us has a far greater opportunity!  By accepting God’s offer of grace on His terms, we can wear a “WHITE ROBE” of glory! 
     We are clothed with that “WHITE ROBE” when we: believe in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
     Have YOU, in trusting, obedient faith, chosen to receive the Gift offered by Divine grace? 
     Do so while opportunity is yours and continue, in faithfulness, to overcome and to serve God.
     Won’t YOU?


-- Allen Dixon is the uncle of David A. Sargent and member of the Germantown (TN) church of Christ; David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org


Unrecognized Greatness

     It was the middle of the morning rush hour on Friday, January 12, 2007, when a young man in jeans, a T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap stepped off the Metro at the L’Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C.  Standing near a wall in the Plaza, he opened the case that he was carrying and removed a violin.  He placed the violin case on the floor and threw in a few dollars as change hoping to encourage passersby to contribute more.  Then he began to play the violin...
     The young man played feverishly for 43 minutes.  In that time, 1,097 people passed by.  Of those passing through L’Enfant Plaza that morning, only seven people stopped to listen.  Twenty-seven tossed some money into the violin case.  His total earnings totaled $32.17.
     What made this incident so unique?  How was this street musician different from others that would occasionally “set up shop” in similar locations?
     “No one knew it,” reports Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post, “but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written, on one of the most valuable violins ever made.”
     The violinist was the internationally acclaimed virtuoso, Joshua Bell.  His performance in the L’Enfant Plaza Station was arranged by The Washington Post.  It was an experiment: In an unimpressive setting at an inconvenient time, would people stop to appreciate beauty?  Most did not!
     But Joshua Bell is not the only “master” that has gone unnoticed and unappreciated...
John wrote concerning Jesus Christ: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10-11).
     God “put on” flesh and lived among men in the person of Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14)  He was the Son of God, yet many did not recognize Him.  Many others rejected Him.
     Will YOU?
      Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 20:30-31) and the Savior of the World (Luke 2:11).  He will save those who believe in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
      Study His life and teachings, recognize His greatness, trust His promises, and obey His commands.  Follow in His steps and He will lead you to glory.
      Won’t YOU?

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org


* Information gleaned from: “Pearls Before Breakfast” by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Staff Writer, in The Washington Post, Sunday, April 8, 2007. 


Up From the Grave

     In a cemetery in Hanover, Germany, is a grave on which were placed huge slabs
of granite and marble cemented together and fastened with heavy steel clasps. 
     It belongs to a woman who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  Yet strangely, she directed in her will that her grave be made so secure that if there were a resurrection, it could not reach her.  On the marker were inscribed these words:    
     "This burial place must NEVER be opened."
     In time, a seed, covered over by the stones, began to grow.  Slowly it pushed its way through the soil and out from beneath them.  As the trunk enlarged, the great slabs were gradually shifted so that the steel clasps were wrenched from their sockets... 
     A tiny seed had become a tree that had pushed aside the stones.
     The dynamic life force contained in that little seed is a faint reflection of the tremendous power of God's creative word that someday will call to life the bodies of ALL who are in their graves.  Jesus said, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).
     The Divine Guarantee of our OWN resurrection is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.        “But now Christ IS risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits [i.e., the first of many to follow] of those who have fallen asleep [died]. 
     For since by man [Adam] came death, by Man [Jesus] also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).
      The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an integral part of the Gospel (“Good News”) of salvation through Christ (READ 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  The GOOD NEWS is that the righteousness of God is imputed to (or credited to the account) “those of us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised for our justification” (Romans 3:24-25).
     Unbelief CANNOT deter the resurrection. But faith in and obedience to the risen Christ opens the door to blessings that His resurrection guarantees -- a glorious new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-58) AND a home in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5).
     Robert Lowry proclaimed the power of Jesus’ resurrection in the lyrics of the song,
“Up From the Grave He Arose”: “Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes....”
     And because of Jesus, WE can share in His victory over sin and death!
     Won’t YOU, out of an obedient faith (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance
(2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and be buried with Him in baptism so that you can be raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4)?

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:
http://www.creekwoodcc.org


What We Owe

For so many blessings we owe a great debt.
The trouble with us is we quickly forget.
The trouble may be we do not really know
The cost of our comfort and how much we owe
To others for benefits freely received.
We spend time complaining and feel greatly grieved
When we do not get things we think we deserve.
We ought to be looking for ways we can serve,
Expecting no praise, but being content to
“Do unto others what you want done for you.”
The one who has much must be willing to share
With those who have little. We must learn to care.
The Lord proved His love by living and dying
For us, and our love for others means trying
To be like the Lord, and to give as He gives,
To prove by our lives that the Savior still lives.
By living for Him we acknowledge the debt
We can never repay, and must not forget.

 - Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola Church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at
Geraldcowan1931@aol.com


Worry or Pray?

What’s the good of worry? What can worry do?
It never keeps a trouble from overtaking you.
It gives you indigestion, and sleepless hours at night.
It fills your every day with gloom, however fair or bright.
It puts a frown upon your face, and sharpness in your tone;
Makes you unfit to live with others and unfit to live alone.
What’s the good of worry? What can worry do?
It never keeps your troubles from overtaking you.
Pray? Why pray? What good can praying do?
Praying really changes things, arranges life anew.
It’s good for your digestion, gives peaceful sleep at night,
And fills the darkest day with rays of glowing light.
It puts a smile upon your face, a love-note in your tone;
It makes you fit to live with others, and fit to live alone.
What’s the good of praying? What can praying do?
It moves the God of heaven to live and work in you.

                    – Adapted from Author Unknown

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola Church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at
Geraldcowan1931@aol.com