Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Seventy-Year Life

    Suppose God granted you a life of seventy years? How would you spend it? An average person would spend it like this:
Three years getting an education.
Eight years recreating and relaxing.
Six years eating.
Four years talking.
Fourteen years working.
Three years reading.
Twenty-four years sleeping.

How much time do you give to God? If you went to church every week and prayed for five minutes every morning and evening, you would give God five-months out of seventy years.

- 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


Basic Item Plus Extras

   There’s a story about a farmer who had purchased a number of cars from a local dealer, but had never been able to get a break on the "optional extras." One day the car dealer called the farmer to say he was coming out to buy a cow from him. The farmer placed a sticker on the cow with the following information:

Basic cow.    500.00
Self-propelled system.    175.00
Deluxe two tone exterior.    75.00
Four-chamber fuel storage energy conversion system (special stomach package)      175.00
Product storage compartment with four accessible spigots @ 15.00 each    60.00
Cowhide upholstery    250.00
Dual horns    20.00
Insect zapped/swatter    18.00
Fertilizer feature    160.00
Documentation fee    50.25
Dealer preparation        163.50
Total Cost    $1,646.75
Notes:
*All factory-fitted extras are non-removable, non-optional.
*Taxes, registration, and use permit to be arranged by new owner
*Delivery available for extra charge.

    Oh how those extras can add up. But you know, God gives lots of extras – air to breathe, trees, grass, flowers, lakes, mountains, friends, families. the list is endless. Then there’s His word and all the spiritual blessings in Christ. Aren’t you glad God does not charge extra for the extras? Enjoy all that God provides, and have a really good day.

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola Church of Christ, Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan serves the congregation as minister.  He may be contacted at
Geraldcowan1931@aol.com



Changing As We Grow Older

By Alan Smith

    A young boy was looking through the family album and asked his mother, "Who's this fellow on the beach with you with all the muscles and curly hair?"
    "That's your father."
    "Then who's the old bald-headed man who lives with us now?"
    Let's be honest -- we all change as the years pass, and some of the changes are not for the better!  Physically speaking, few 50- or 60-year-olds have improved physically from what they were like when they were 20 or 30 years old.
    But the more important thing is how we are changing spiritually.  In Ephesians 4, Paul talks about putting off the old man (sinful actions and attitudes) and putting on the new man (Christ-like qualities).  That's not a once-in-a-lifetime activity.  It's an ongoing process.
    If we are going to grow, we must change.  And what is the goal?
    "...so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more." (2 Corinthians 3:18)
     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

By Steve Higginbotham

     Maybe you’ve heard the story about the school teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his snow boots. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots just didn't want to go on. Finally, after much struggling, she got both boots on only to hear the little boy say, "They're on the wrong feet."
     She looked, and sure enough, they were. It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on but she managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots on the right feet.
     He then announced, "These aren't my boots." She bit her tongue rather than scream, "Why didn't you say so?" Once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet.
     No sooner had they gotten the boots off when he said, "They're my brother's boots. My Mom made me wear 'em." Now she didn't know if she should laugh or cry. She mustered up what grace and courage she had left to wrestle the boots on his feet again.
     Helping him into his coat, she asked, "Now, where are your mittens?" He said, "I stuffed 'em in the toes of my boots." - (Biblical Parenting)
     (Psalm 127:3,5) – “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord…Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them…”

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at
http://www.karnschurch.org


The Geese

By David Sargent

     “Incarnation” – n. Literally, “en-flesh-ment” (Latin carnis—”flesh”); the doctrine that the Son of God became human (John 1:14).  Incarnation, in the Christian understanding, means that Christ was both God and human. – The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook
     There was once a man who didn't believe in the Incarnation and was skeptical about God.  He and his family lived in a farm community.  His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in her faith.  He sometimes mocked her faith and her religious observances.
     One snowy morning around Christmas time, she was taking the children to a church service.  She pleaded with him to come, but he firmly refused.  He ridiculed the idea of the incarnation of Christ and dismissed it as nonsense.  "Why would God lower himself and become a human like us?!  It's such a ridiculous story!" he said.  So she and the children left to worship while he stayed home.
     After they left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As he looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening.
     Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window.  Another thump.  He looked through the window but couldn't see.  So, he ventured outside.  In the field near his house he saw a strange sight: a flock of geese!  They had apparently been flying south to a warmer climate when they got caught in the snow storm.  The snow had become too blinding and the wind too violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They fluttered their wings and flew around the field in circles blindly and aimlessly.
     The man had compassion for them and wanted to help them.  He thought to himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm." He tried many things to get them to go into the barn.  In frustration, he went over and tried to run after them and chase them toward the barn. They only got scared and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter.
     Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they follow me!  Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm!  How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them!"  He thought for a moment and realized that they just won't follow a human.  He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them?  The only way would be for me to become like those geese.  If only I could become like one of them!  Then I could save them!  They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."
     Then he began to understand the Incarnation... We are like the geese -- blind, gone astray, perishing.  God became like us so He could show us the way and make a way available to save us. That is the meaning of the Incarnation, he realized in his heart. *

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
And we beheld His glory,
The glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
Full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

     Jesus came to save us!  To accomplish this mission, He not only had to become a man, He also had to die on the cross for our sins (1 John 2:2).
     Jesus WILL save those who place their faith and trust 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) into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
     The Incarnation: God became one of us so that He could show us the way to eternal life.
     Won’t YOU follow Him?

* Unknown Author; slightly adapted from “The Geese” as it appears at
http://www.opossumsal.com/Birds/TheGeese.html

- 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

Getting Our Attention

     John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words and playing soft music. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. In desperation, John threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d seriously injured the parrot, John quickly opened the door, and the parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched finger. He said, “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgiveable behavior.” John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, “May I ask what the turkey did?”
      “But now you yourselves are to put off all these:  anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Col. 3:8 

- 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 [Adapted from The Greenfield Gleaner, 2008]


Helping Another to Win

     Even the "pros" need help at times. . .
Steve Stricker claims that it’s part of being a PGA tour veteran that you help your fellow golfers.  So before the WGC-Cadillac Championship last week in Doral, FL, Stricker spent some time helping Tiger Woods with his putting game.  It worked!  Woods won the Championship!  In second place – just two shots behind – was… yes, Steve Stricker!
     Woods had been unhappy with his putting at the Honda Classic two weeks ago.  He bumped into Stricker after a practice round at Doral before the tournament and told him about his frustration with his putting game.  Stricker worked with Woods for about 45-minutes, helping him get back to the putting stance that had served him well previously.
     The 46-year-old Stricker said that it was not the first time he had helped out Woods or other players.  "It's kind of the nature of our game. Older players have done it with me and now I'm one of those older players, I guess, and when somebody asks me for help, I tend to give it to them," he said.
     Stricker, by finishing 2nd in the tournament, nabbed a purse of $869,852.94.  The victorious Woods, however, pocketed $1,441,176.47!  Neal Pollard observed: “Once you have finished staggering at such incredible ‘earnings,’ consider the magnanimity of Stricker: He helped his opponent win.” *
     If you and I are “professional” at anything, it is sinning!  “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because of our sin, we’re not just “losing”; we’ve LOST “the game” and are destined for destruction. We don’t just need HELP; we need a Savior!
     God loves us so much that He gave His Son to die on the cross as payment for our sins.  Even though we were His “opponents” (His enemies, due to our sin, Romans 5:6-10), He came to save us.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
     He paid the price for our sins so that we might share in His victory over sin and death.  Because of His victory, we can receive the GIFT of eternal life (Romans 6:23).  He provided for us (salvation) what we could not accomplish for ourselves!   “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
      We can SHARE in Christ’s victory when. . . we place our faith and trust in Him (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) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to lead to victory those who continue to follow Him faithfully (1 John 1:7).
      Because we are lost without Him, Jesus came to save us!
     Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and life?  Then YOU can share in His victory!

- 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 “Steve Stricker Putting Lesson Helps Tiger Woods To Victory At WGC-Cadillac Championship” by Simon Evans of Reuters in the Huffington Post (
www.huffingtonpost.com) and “Helping Your Opponent Win” by Neal Pollard in Daily Bread (3/11/13), an e-mail ministry of the Bear Valley church of Christ in Denver, CO (www.bearvalleycofc.com).

Hopeless? Not So Fast

By Steve Higginbotham

     Harrison Okene unexpectedly found himself in a hopeless situation earlier this year.  He found himself on the bottom of the ocean, in a small air-pocket in his overturned tugboat, sunk by a rogue wave.  Harrison was in total darkness, disoriented, all alone, and dressed only in boxer shorts in freezing temperatures.  For 60 hours, he fumbled in total darkness, trembled due to the cold, listened while fish were consuming the bodies of his fellow crewmen, and waited for his oxygen supply to run out.
     Then when his oxygen supply was just about gone, an amazing thing happened.  A rescue diver appeared.  Harrison was given oxygen, led to a decompression chamber, and gradually raised to the surface.  Snatched from the jaws of death.  What seemed like a hopeless situation only proved to be the setting for his salvation.  Now Harrison lives to tell others of how he was saved.
     Have you ever felt spiritually hopeless?  Have you ever felt that you were beyond the reach of God's saving grace?  Then let me remind you of this.  If a drunken, incestuous father (Lot); a lying harlot (Rahab); a murderous adulterer (David); and a persecutor of the church (Saul/Paul) can be forgiven and held up as examples of great men and women of faith, then there's hope for you too!
     Try an image the joy and relief Harrison Okene must have experienced when he reached out and touched his rescuers hand!  Hope from hopelessness!  Likewise, imagine the joy and relief that is experienced by the sinner who reaches out and takes hold of the Savior's hand!  Hope from hopelessness!
     To those of you who have been saved by God, and now have life; tell others about it!  Tell how God rescued you from a hopeless situation and gave you hope!  "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" (Psalm 107:2).
   
- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

ttp://www.karnschurch.org

It Will Be Worth It

   A ninety-year-old man approached a preacher after worship.  The man had been blind from birth, and told the preacher he wanted to “see” him.  He ran his fingers over the minister’s face, and then began to cry.
   “When I open my eyes for the first time, you know who I will be looking at, don’t you?”
   The preacher said, “Yes, you will be looking at Jesus.”
   The man then cried out with joy.  “It is worth being blind for ninety years to know that the first time I open my eyes I will be looking at Jesus!”
   “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him”  (Revelation 1:7).

- 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


I've Messed Up

Editors have a difficult job as is evident from these mishaps:

~  IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you are one of hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our Easy Sky Diving book, please make the following correction: on page 8, line 7, the words "state zip code" should have read "pull rip cord."
~ It was incorrectly reported last Friday that today is T-shirt Appreciation Day.  In fact, it is actually Teacher Appreciation Day.
~ There are two important corrections to the information in the update on our Deep Relaxation professional development program.  First, the program will include meditation, not medication.  Second, it is experiential, not experimental.
~ Our newspaper carried the notice last week that Mr. Oscar Hoffnagle is a defective on the police force.  This was a typographical error.  Mr. Hoffnagle is, of course, a detective on the police farce.
~ Apology:  I originally wrote, "Woodrow Wilson's wife grazed sheep on front lawn of the White House." I'm sorry that typesetting inadvertently left out the word "sheep."
~ In one edition of today's Food Section, an inaccurate number of jalapeno peppers was given for Jeanette Crowley's Southwestern chicken salad recipe.  The recipe should call for two, not 21, jalapeno peppers.
~ The marriage of Miss Freda vanAmburg and Willie Branton, which was announced in this paper a few weeks ago, was a mistake which we wish to correct.
    We've all been there.  We've all said something we shouldn't have said, or we said something in a way that was hurtful (often when we didn't intend to do so).  Newspaper editors have learned that whenever they make a mistake, the best thing to do is to publicly announce (as quickly as possible), “I've messed up.  I didn't intend to but I did, and I want you to know that I’m sorry.”
    It’s a lesson we would all do well to learn.  Instead of denying responsibility, instead of pretending it never happened, instead of making excuses, we need to learn to say, “I've messed up.  I didn't intend to but I did, and I want you to know that I’m sorry.”
    That kind of honesty is necessary to restore our relationship with people around us.  More than that, it is necessary to restore our relationship with God.
    “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)
    The one thing that is absolutely necessary to restore relationships is the thing we often find most difficult – honesty.  Perhaps there’s someone whom you have hurt recently by your words or your deeds.  Don’t put it off.  Let them know, “I've messed up.  I didn't intend to but I did, and I want you to know that I’m sorry.”  Doing that won’t be a mistake you’ll need to correct later!
    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


Jesus Has Left The Building

By Steve Higginbotham

     After Elvis would finish performing at one of his concerts, his fans would be left cheering for more, hoping that he would come back on stage to sing another song.  Then the P.A. announcer would make the statement, “Elvis has left the building.”  That was the queue to the fans that the concert was over and it was time to leave.
     Well, if I may use that phrase as a jumping off point, I think the church needs to realize that “Jesus has left the building.”  This leaves us with a decision to make.  Will we stay huddled in the building, practicing a very limited in scope, form of Christianity?  Or will we leave the building too, and follow Jesus?
     Friends, Jesus has left the building, and he needs his church to follow him and leave the building too.  Our assemblies of worship and study are wonderful.  And Jesus joins us in them.  However, Jesus doesn’t stay in an empty building all week long, just waiting for the next worship service.  Likewise, the church needs to assemble, but it also needs to follow Jesus and “leave the building.” 
     When Sunday’s over, let’s leave the building and throughout the week, engage society, challenge culture, call men to holiness, be lights in the workplace and at school, and point people to Jesus.

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at
http://www.karnschurch.org



Move Along!

     When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts , he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch) he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished.
     As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.
     “Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?” “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.” “But I’m starved,” the governor said. “Sorry,” the woman said again.... “Only ONE to a customer.”
     Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around.
     “Do you know WHO I am?” he said. “I am the GOVERNOR of this state.”
     “Do you know WHO I am?” the woman responded. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken.  Move along, mister.” *
     That was quite a lesson on authority, wasn’t it?  It was a lesson in humility, too. Who is the authority in YOUR life?  It is important that we get it right.
     Many times, we like to be “in charge” – or at least think we are.  We even try to
“throw our weight around” in order to have things our own way.
     The TRUTH is: WE are not in charge - there is a higher Authority!  And we need to learn to HUMBLE ourselves and SUBMIT to this Authority while we can. God
has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).  Jesus died on the cross to become our Savior – to pay the price for our sins.  Then Jesus rose from the dead three days later.  Now, He lives to be our Lord!
     EVERY tongue WILL confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11). 
The only question is WHEN? To confess it NOW means salvation; to WAIT to confess it on the Day of Judgment will mean condemnation....
     Jesus said, "Not everyone who SAYS to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who DOES the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
     To confess Christ as Lord – AND to have Him as our Savior – means to trust and obey Him: believing in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance to follow Him (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and to be baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  Confessing Christ as Lord also requires that we continue to follow Him faithfully.
     "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not DO the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
     We need to “move along” in obedience to the Lord.  Have YOU submitted your life to the Lord?

- 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


* Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, Page 5-6



No Recollection

By Alan Smith

    I heard this story about the owner of a Rolls Royce.  It certainly sounds as if could be true:
    The great British automaker takes great pride in the reliability of their handcrafted automobiles.  An obviously wealthy owner of a Rolls took it to Europe on an extended trip.  While traveling in France the car had some mechanical problem.  He called the Rolls Royce factory and asked that they send out a mechanic straightaway to fix the problem.
    The company responded in royal fashion.  They put a mechanic on a private jet with all of the necessary tools and flew him over to France to make the repairs.  The owner was so wealthy that he wasn't at all concerned about the cost, and he would not spare any expense to assure that his beloved Rolls Royce was properly repaired.
    However, after several months he realized he had not received a bill.  He directed his secretary to contact the Rolls Royce factory to inquire about the bill.  He received a prompt reply from the Rolls Royce company.  With typical British aplomb, it said simply, "We have no recollection or record of any Rolls Royce having ever had a breakdown or being in need of repair anywhere in France."
    That reminds me of how God treats us when he forgives us of sin.  Sometimes we have a harder time forgiving ourselves than does God.  We sometimes feel weighed down with the burden of guilt long after God has removed the burden of sin.  We need to follow God's instructions to find forgiveness, then trust that God has kept his promise to forgive.  Like Rolls Royce, God says, "I have no recollection or record of any sin being committed."  Take comfort from these words:
    "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psa. 103:12)
    "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Heb. 8:12)
    Praise be to the God who "forgets" when He forgives!
   
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 Oil Of Kindness

   I read of a man who carried a little can of oil wherever he went.  If he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a drop of oil on the hinges, and if a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch.  So he passed through life lubricating all the creaking places, making it a little more pleasant for those who followed after him.
   There is no telling how many lives you and I could keep from rusting and squeaking, and how many gates we could open to happiness, if only we would take a little oil of brotherly love and human kindness.  Let us use it wherever we are, for there are many lives rusting away in sin.

- Author unknown; 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

Put A Pebble In Their Shoe

By Steve Higginbotham

     "Have a personal Bible study with somebody?  Sorry, not for me!  That's just asking for a never ending argument."  If that's your view of personal evangelism and Bible study, maybe you need to rethink how you've gone about it in the past.
     Inevitably, during a Bible study, the time will come when you reach a critical point.  It's that time when you've shown a person to be inconsistent, or when you've shown a person a passage that contradicts what he was affirming.  The Scriptures have backed them in a corner.  What happens then?
     Well, what often happens next is that we drive and hammer that point home.  We don't let up, and we demand an answer or a retraction?  We want to claim victory for our superior logistic skills.
     However, the Bible teaches us to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2), but it qualifies the way we are to do that.  We are to preach the word with “all longsuffering.”
     Friends, coming around to truth sometimes takes time.  Mulling something over, and weighing all the evidences may require more than an initial hearing.  Therefore, instead of being quick to claim victory, it would be much more beneficial to quickly tell the person with whom you're studying that he doesn't need to feel like he has to provide an immediate answer.  Encourage him to think about it.  After all, the point of a Bible study is not to "win an argument," but to learn the will of God.
     To sum it up, your goal is simply to “put a pebble in their shoe.”  Give them something to think about.  Leave a thought that nags at them, won't let them get comfortable, and won’t give them rest until they find resolution through further study.  Those with good and honest hearts will have to do something about it.  So let’s get after it.  Instead of demanding someone to say "Uncle," simply put a pebble in his shoe and let the word of God work in their heart...or shoe.  Give it some thought. 

 - Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at
http://www.karnschurch.org


"Scutniks"

By David Sargent

     One of the worst snowstorms to hit Washington, D.C. in decades buffeted the city on January 13, 1982.  Storm conditions delayed the departure of Air Florida Flight 90 by an hour and forty-five minutes.  When the Boeing 737 took off from Washington National Airport, it was unable to stay aloft and crashed into the 14th Street Bridge, which spans the Potomac River, just two minutes after leaving the runway.  The plane vanished into the river except for the tail section, which had separated from the body of the aircraft and floated.  When emergency services arrived, they discovered 5 passengers and one flight attendant had survived the crash, and they were clinging to the tail section in the icy waters.
     The waters of the Potomac were extremely cold, just one degree above freezing. 
A person can only manage to stay alive in this frigid water for about 30 minutes.  Rescuers were frantically trying to get to the surviving passengers as quickly as possible.  When their inflatable boats could not navigate through the ice-filled waters,
a U.S. Park Police Helicopter Unit was called.  Many onlookers, including a television news camera man, witnessed the amazing rescue efforts of pilot Don Usher and paramedic Gene Windsor.
     After successfully retrieving a passenger (Bert Hamilton) and the flight attendant (Kelly Duncan), Usher and Windsor went back and lowered two lifelines from the helicopter to the remaining surviving passengers.  One of the passengers, Arland D. Williams, Jr., caught one of the lines and passed it on to Joe Stiley, the most severely injured survivor.  Stiley slipped the line around his waist and grabbed Priscilla Tirado, who was hysterical, having lost her husband and baby.  Nikki Felch took the second line.  As they were being dragged to shore, Tirado and Felch lost their grip and fell back into the water.  Felch was wearing a lifejacket, so Tirado became the immediate priority of the rescue efforts.

     Tirado was slashing in the icy water, eyes wide and wild-looking; she was going into shock.  After several attempts, she was unable to cling to the life-ring that was lowered to her.  By this time, she was traumatized, exhausted, and temporarily blinded from aviation fuel.  She began to drown.
     Martin “Lennie” Scutnik, a low-level manager at the U.S. Congressional Budget office, was observing the situation.  At this point, he decided that he could watch no more. 
“I absolutely thought she was going to die if I didn’t go in and get her.”  Scutnik removed his coat and boots and jumped into the icy waters, swam out to Tirado, and dragged her to safety.
     Nikki Felch was rescued by the helicopter unit.  Unfortunately, when the unit went back to rescue Arland D. Williams, he could not be found.  He, along with the tail of the jet, had sunk beneath the waters.  (See
A Heroic Sacrifice, Living Water, 9/15/06).
     Less than a month later, President Ronald Reagan invited Lennie Scutnik to attend the 1982 State of the Union Address, where he was seated next to the First Lady.  When President Reagan recognized Scutnik, he received a long standing ovation.  Heroes like Scutnik are now celebrated at nearly every State of the Union Address.  The Washington Press Corps often refers to them as ‘Scutniks’.
     The selflessness and sacrifice of the “Scutniks” provide a glimpse of the Greatest Hero of all: JESUS CHRIST.
     When WE were “drowning” in sin and doomed to eternal destruction, God sent His Son Jesus to rescue us.  Jesus gave His life so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and so that we “should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).
     Jesus will save those who cling to the Lifeline (Jesus Himself) by.... placing their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from their sins in repentance
(Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse those who continue to trust Him and follow Him as a way of life (1 John 1:7).
     Won’t YOU cling to the Lifeline through your trusting obedience?

* Information gleaned from http://listverse.com/2010/10/09/top-10-real-life-good-samaritans/ and
www.wikipedia.com.

- 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

Starting Over

By Alan Smith

    During a Sunday-morning worship service, a mother tried everything she could think of — including rewards, scoldings, and threats — to get her fidgety 7-year-old son to be quiet.  Nothing worked.  Finally, about halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered something in the little boy’s ear.
    He immediately stopped fidgeting and sat quietly for the rest of the service.  Afterward, a friend sitting in the row behind asked the young mother what she had said to her son.
    The mother smiled and replied, “If you don’t be quiet, the preacher is going to lose his place, and then he’ll have to start his sermon all over again.”
    As much as little boys (and most of the rest of us) dislike the idea of having the preacher “start over”, it’s not something that any of us like to do in our own lives.  But there are times when we need to start over.
    When it comes to trying to live godly lives, we all mess up.  As good as our intentions are, as much as we promise ourselves that “I’ll never make that mistake again”, we find ourselves at the throne of God time and again, seeking grace and mercy, and having to start over.  It’s not easy, and it requires humility on our part, but fortunately, God gives us that opportunity when we truly repent.
    Just as difficult are the trials we face that force us to start over.  Maybe you've had a serious illness or injury, and it finally looks like you’re going to get well, but there’s a setback in your health which requires you to start all over again.  That news can be more devastating than the original diagnosis.  Or maybe it’s a financial problem you’re facing.  And just when it looked like there was a light at the end of the tunnel, your car or the washing machine breaks down or the kids need braces, and you’re back to square one trying to get your debt cleared up.
    Such experiences require a perseverance that says, “No matter how long it takes, no matter how many setbacks I have, no matter how many times I have start over, I will not give up.”  As Solomon wrote: “Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again.” (Proverbs 24:16, NET).  It's not a question of whether we will fall.  We will fall, but the righteous man, the wise man, continues to rise up and is willing to start over time and again.
    If you find yourself discouraged today because you've failed God, may you seek His forgiveness and start over living the life that God wants you to live.  If you're facing trials today that leave you wondering what's the use in trying any more, may God provide you strength to rise up and start over!
   
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



Use the Tide

     An old gentleman states that when he was a small boy, he lived on the coast. One morning after a great storm he saw an old ship stranded. The storm had blown her in, and she was badly damaged and deserted by her crew. He said that sometimes, when the tide would come in strongly and surround the old ship, she would almost be loosed from her moorings and go out. He stated that often he would go and stand by her and hope she would go out. He would say, “Go out, old ship; go out with the tide.” But she never did. Finally, one morning after a severe storm he went down to look at the old ship, but the storm had blown her to pieces. Only the floating pieces of the old wreck were to be seen. She had many an opportunity, but she never went out.
     How like many a backslider! The tide of opportunity to repent has risen for many and it was hoped they would go out from their sinful ways, but they settled back and never went out. If we are not living as we should, we had better take advantage of the opportunity to repent while the “tide is in.” Jesus said: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Remember: “I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2). Now is the only time we are guaranteed—for the “tide may soon be out.”


- 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

Valentine’s Day

By Steve Higginbotham

     You’ve probably heard the story about the young man who wouldn’t marry unless the girl he picked to marry had the approval of his mother.  This young man would bring home girl after girl to meet his mother, only to have his mother disapprove.  After several years of trying, this young man finally found a girl his mother just absolutely adored!  In fact, she was just like his mother.  Now the only problem is, his father doesn’t like her.
     In a time when marriage is being assaulted on so many fronts (e.g. co-habitation, homosexual marriage, divorce, adultery, etc.) what is needed more than anything is for men and woman to return to the time tested and proven pattern that God gave us for marriage.  While volume after volume can be written, giving instructions as to how to have a happy marriage, God had a way to sum it up in a few short principles.

·        Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).
·        Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and as you love your own body (Ephesians 5:25,28).
·        Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:23).
·        It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

     Observing just these four principles alone would eliminate most of the marital problems that people face today.  Friends, the key to a better marriage is a better relationship with God.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at
http://www.karnschurch.org


We Need A Big Club

By Alan Smith

    A hunter was walking through the jungle when he found a huge dead elephant with a pygmy standing beside it.
    Amazed, he asked, "Did you kill that?"
    The pygmy said, "Yes."
    The hunter asked, "How could a little bloke like you kill a huge beast like that?"
    "I killed it with my club."
    The astonished hunter asked, "How big is your club?"
    The pygmy replied, "There's about 60 of us."
    There is great value in having a "club" of people who will fight with you, work with you, and be there for you when you need assistance.  Solomon put it this way:
    "If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself?  Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break." (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12)
    God obviously knew that we need that support as we seek to follow Him.  Think about it -- why did God establish the church?  We don't need the church to worship God -- we can worship God anywhere and at any time.  We don't even need the church to serve God -- I can serve God in a multitude of ways on my own.
    But what I do need the church for is to provide support, encouragement and strength as I walk the Christian path.  I need a "club" to help me do battle against Satan.  I need people around me who will help me to see ways that I'm not reflecting the image of Jesus Christ, and encourage me to move in that direction.  I need brothers and sisters in the Lord who will show me what love is and teach me to learn to love as well.  I need people who can rejoice with me when things are going great and cry with me when my world is shattered.  I need the church!
    Thank you, Lord, for surrounding me with a big "club" of people who are such a blessing to me!  I can't imagine having to travel this journey alone and I'm so thankful that you saw the need and met it long before I even realized there was a need.  In the name of Jesus who unites us in this body, 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


When the Bible Was Put into Chapters and Verses

The Bible has 66 books, divided into 1189 chapters consisting of 31,173verses. The Bible was divided into chapters by Stephen Langton about 1228. The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan in 1448 and the New Testament by Robert Stephanus in 1551. The first printed Bible into verses was an Old Testament Latin edition by Pagninus, printed in 1528. The first complete English version of the Bible divided into verses was the Geneva Bible, printed in 1560.

- 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