Yes, It’s a Pandemic

[395 words] Uncontrolled disease can be horrific. With the current worries about the spread of a new coronavirus dubbed “COVID-19,” we have heard the terms “epidemic” and “pandemic” tossed around quite a bit. An epidemic occurs when a disease affects a greater number of people than is usual for an area, and a pandemic is when that epidemic goes worldwide. With pandemics, health officials search diligently for the cause, the mode of transmission, and possible clues to protecting the world population. As governments and health systems struggle to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, we are reminded of the worldwide scourge...

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Security of Believers

[308 words] One of the basic doctrines of Calvinism is the impossibility of apostasy. This teaching says that once a person becomes a Christian there is nothing he or she can do to be lost One man went so far as to say that even if he murdered someone in cold blood he could not be lost. This is not the kind of security that is taught in the Bible. For the Christian, eternal life is based on faithfulness throughout life. Peter said to those who add the “Christian Graces”: “For if you do these things you will never stumble”...

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My Brother

[335 words] “Afterwards the LORD asked Cain, “Where is Abel?” “How should I know?” he answered, “Am I supposed to look after my brother?” (Genesis 4:9 CEV) In 1964, a young woman was stabbed and raped outside her Queens apartment while witnesses observed and did nothing. The perp even left and returned to resume stabbing her. The New York Times claimed that 38 witnesses observed this crime and did nothing. One of those witnesses later said, “I just didn’t want to get involved.” Clinical experiments show that witnesses are less likely to help a crime victim if there are other...

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The Day Jesus Cleaned House

[336 words] Why did Jesus have to cleanse the temple? Why was He not content to just let things go on business as usual? In John 2, Jesus “cleans house” literally because those Jews had made the temple a “house of merchandise” (John 2:16). There were things, behaviors, and attitudes that didn’t belong in a house dedicated to the Lord. 1 Corinthians talks about the temple of the Lord being both the individual human body and the collective body of the church (see 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20). Can Christians look with the eyes of Jesus and see the point when...

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Of Fools and Blind Faith

[335 words] Both evidence and reason point convincingly to faith in God. The charge of “blind faith,” often leveled against the conviction of believers, better describes the plight of those who see a world without God. “For every house is built by someone, and He that built all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4, McCord.) A house suggests a builder. To imagine a house building itself, or accidentally exploding into existence, is to contemplate the absurd. Such a nonsensical notion, absent any empirical, philosophical, or historical foundation, is “blind faith” to the extreme. But there is a faith equally ridiculous and...

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Credibility from Mountaintops

[363 words] There are many people who look on those who are religious as naïve, that is, people with good intentions, but devoted people deluded by ideas not based in reality. Though this is hardly the case, it matters not; some just choose to think this because they desire to live in accordance with what the world presents. Unfortunately, many Christians give them reason to think this because they themselves do not align their lives with the confession of Christ they express. In my devotional reading this past week, I read 1 John 1:1-4. As I read, I reflected on...

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Are You Tired?

[351 words] “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue.” Job 14:1-2 reminds us life is hard and short.  This is not “news” to any of us! We are all aware of the challenges of life that we each face everyday. The obstacles we deal with range from physical, emotional, relational, financial and so many more. In sum, the pain we see, feel, and anticipate is extremely hard. The older we get the more we realize...

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Wedding Vows Are to Be Honored

[357 words] “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife…through sickness and health, until death do you part?” “I do.” “Do you take this man…until death do you part?” “I do.” “Before God and these witnesses, I now pronounce you man and wife.” Of course, you have heard or spoken similar words at your own or someone’s wedding. That moment when someone confirms their vow and intent with “I do” is a little tense. It is a big responsibility to take on. That’s the point isn’t it? “I do” has to mean something. No one replies “I...

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God’s GPS of Salvation

[351 words] Our technological society has become very familiar with the “GPS” which facilitates navigating from point A to point B. When properly set, the GPS ideally prevents one from becoming “lost” when driving. I totally depend upon my GPS to navigate me through an unfamiliar city or location. I love it for the miles and the gasoline it saves me, not to mention all of the stress in wandering from street to street trying to find my way. In His unlimited wisdom, our Creator recognized man’s desperate need for a “spiritual GPS.” His inspired prophet declared, “I know, O...

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Beds, Aren’t You Glad We Have Them!

[352 words] It was another cold rainy morning. I just wanted to go back home and curl up in my bed. Sound familiar? It got me thinking about the word bed in the Bible. The word bed is mentioned in the Bible about 108 times in the King James Version. We know that people made beds and bedding as time passed but we are just not sure when. It is not until Genesis 48:2 that we come across a word that is translated as bed. Israel [Jacob] is nearing the end of his life and getting ready to die. He...

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Ants

[307 words] In the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, the ant is portrayed as wise because he prepares for winter while the grasshopper lacks the common sense to acknowledge its approach and thus suffers and dies. God seemingly did infuse the ant with an instinct to cooperate and work for the common good of the colony. God tells the lazy person to observe the ant and be wise. (Proverbs 6:6) Some species cut leaves upon which they float across streams. Others form a chain of bodies to span open spaces, while some wage war and make forced laborers...

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Securing Their Hearts

[387 words] How shall the young secure their hearts and guard their lives from sin? Thy Word, the choicest rules impart to keep the conscience clean! Where in the world can young people learn what is holy and pure and right? The words of that old song clearly and lovingly convey the solitary truth that Biblical guidance is really the only way that our young people can survive in a world full of wickedness (I John 2:15-17). Even though they may not tell us directly, our young people desire some things of us every single time we see them: Encouragement...

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Family in the Faith

[328 words] Throughout Paul’s missionary journeys recorded in the book of Acts, he interacts with a number of young men who variously traveled with him, ran errands for him, and continued the work in a congregation begun by him. However, while the text mentions a few of these younger preachers, the relationship Paul had with Timothy serves as a poignant model that deserves careful attention and emulation. After ten years of working together, Paul wrote his first inspired epistle to Timothy, and even the opening salutation reveals the spiritual depth of their relationship: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by...

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Times of Grief

[343 words] Have you ever been in such emotional pain that your heart felt like it was literally aching? The worst pain in this life is not always physical. Often times it’s the emotional pain of saying “good bye” that can drive us to our knees. It can make us lash out in anger. It can make the toughest man alive break down in tears, and it can crush a young person’s spirit. Why would a God of love and compassion let such a thing happen? If He cares, but He can’t do anything about it, wouldn’t that mean He’s...

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A Walk Down Memory Lane

[303 words] Bill drove into his hometown for one more chore. His mother’s funeral had been a month earlier. His dad had passed away two years ago. Today, he had to sign final papers to sell his childhood home. He arrived in town a little early, so he decided to take one last look at the house where he’d grown up. Inside, there were memories in every corner. He saw the doorframe where his dad had marked his growth each year. He stood in the kitchen where he had watched his mom bake cookies. He remembered the fun times as...

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Help Wanted

[302 words] The kingdom of Christ has the following positions available for immediate employment: Ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) – Must be willing to represent Christ honestly, honorably, and faithfully. Bakers (Matt. 13:33) – Must be able to add leavening properly. Farmers (Matt. 13:3) – Must be willing to rise early and sow the seed in all kinds of weather. Fishermen (Matt. 4:19) – Must be very patient and skilled. Guards (1 Tim. 6:20) – Must be able to stay alert at all times. Harvest Workers (Matt. 9:38) – Must be able to work hard when the harvest is ready without...

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Good Communication Requires Wisdom

[324 words] The root cause of conflict points back to “poor communication.” How many of us want to be “heard?” How many times do we feel we failed in a conversation? My parents would not be happy and would say to me, “You shouldn’t speak before you think!”  Forty-six years later, I still struggle to understand what they were saying to me. But, I have a clearer understanding of their teaching as I think back to the many times I have “dropped the ball” when trying to express myself or listen to others as they expressed themselves. Sharing the Gospel...

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Dealing with Shame

[341 words] Rayden Overbay is a 12-year-old with special needs from Yukon, Oklahoma. He became somewhat famous not long ago because of the terrible way he was treated. A video of him being bullied went viral. He was bullied to such a degree—he felt such shame—that he had written, “I want to kill myself” on his arm. What can be done in such a situation? How can we help someone recover? What is the remedy for the shame that they feel? Being from Oklahoma, the Sooners football team took it upon themselves to try and make things right. They made...

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The Importance of Knowledge

[387 words] It has been suggested that the word “knowledge” is the key word of 2 Peter. A quick reading of Peter’s letter shows why that may be true. In the New King James Version, the word appears five times in chapter 1, once in chapter 2, and is found in the final verse of chapter 3. You also find “know,” “knowing,” “known,” and “knows” a total of eight times. There is an essential connection between knowledge and true freedom. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Paul tied salvation...

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Why Do Some Attend the ‘Optional’ Worship Services and Bible Classes?

[388 words] It has always been a struggle to get every member of the local church to attend all Bible classes and worship services. Yes, they will come to the A.M. worship service, but not to the other periods of Bible study and worship. When asked why, they will respond: “Those services are optional. They are not commanded by God.” My question is: “If these are optional services, why do some people choose to attend them?” Could it be their love for God?Could it be their love for truth?Could it be their love for worship?Could it be their desire for...

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Maybe I Can Wait

[331 words] The Houston Airport had a problem. Over and over, a major complaint from its customers was that they had to wait too long for their bags after the flight. So the executives worked to address the issue. They added new staff, streamlined the process and were able cut wait time from as long as 30 minutes in some cases to an average of only 8 minutes. Still complaint kept pouring in. They did everything they could to shrink the time, but 8 minutes was about as fast as they were going to get. Yet irate customers still bemoaned...

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Reasons to Rejoice!

[329 words] The Bible speaks a number of times regarding rejoicing. David once stated, “This is the day which the Lord has made,” and then he added, “We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24). Why isn’t that just as true today as the day David wrote it? A celebrated writer once wrote, “Every new day is a miracle.” The point: “the Lord did not owe us another day, but He gave it to us.” In the days of Nehemiah, when the people of God had combined their efforts in a great cause, they were coaxed to rejoice,...

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Am I Being A Good Sibling?

[364 words] As the oldest in my family, I was held responsible for my younger siblings’ actions. There were times I would be put in charge. There were times I just happened to be with them when they got in trouble or hurt. Suddenly, it was my responsibility. I should have been watching them, I should have warned them, I was the one who should have known better. I should have known not to grab the rope swing and jump off the shed in the back yard. Israel was told to warn, speak out, and to dissuade those who are...

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Through Him

[363 words] Christianity is all about our relationship with Jesus. He died for us and we are to live for Him. Upon obeying the gospel, we gain a lot of “prepositional aspects” having to do with ourselves and Jesus: we are in Him, with Him, and for Him. But there is another preposition that describes one more important aspect of our relationship with Jesus Christ – it is the word “through.” Take a look at these passages and see the powerful relationship we are to have “through Him”: • Our salvation is made available “through Him” (John 3:17). • True...

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It Isn’t Hard to Find the Flaws

[352 words] Take a moment to think about what happens in the course of a typical day. The coffee’s too hot (or not hot enough) or it tastes funny. The car in front of me is going too slow. The internet’s malfunctioning. The waitress has forgotten me. My coworker is lazy or undependable. My spouse did that annoying thing again. I can’t believe my child left that mess or didn’t do the simple thing I asked. My friend was thoughtless. Think about how easy it is to become critical of everything and everyone. Basic to human nature is a tendency to...

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Thanksgiving All Year Long?

[345 words] On November 11, 1620, about 102 settlers aboard the Mayflower arrived in the New World, and there was nothing to greet them except the harsh reality of a New England winter. Within five months, over half their number had died of starvation, cold, and disease. How amazing, then, that these “pilgrims” could still find reasons to be thankful in spite of such hardship! In more modern times, Thanksgiving brings to mind warm memories of turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, family togetherness, and football games on television. Thanksgiving is a time when we pause to remember how blessed we...

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Healing A Broken Heart

[310 words] “We spend the first half of our life making friends, we spend the second half of our life burying them.” — Unknown How many of us have said “goodbye” to a friend or family member at the funeral home? I find myself attempting to provide comfort to others and watch people I care about suffer due to lives ending. I, like you, want badly to help others during the most difficult time of life. What do I do? What do I say? How can I go on? How do I deal with the void of loss in my...

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Mimicking a Viper

[384 words] What looks like a Gaboon viper, sounds like a Gaboon viper, and acts like a Gaboon viper? A Gaboon viper, of course. Also, the Congolese giant toad. With its two-inch fangs, the Gaboon viper is one of the largest vipers in Africa. The Congolese giant toad can be found only in the same habitat as the Gaboon viper. With a body that resembles the head of the viper, in that it is the same color and size, the toad can also mimic the sound of the hissing snake. And, when the toad is threatened, it will raise its...

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Have You Decided Who You Are?

[373 words] What would you do to be at the birth of your child? Would you miss work? Skip an important meeting? Risk disappointing customers and co-workers? That’s the decision Daniel Hudson faced recently. Only Daniel isn’t in the corporate world; he’s a relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals. And, despite it being the first game of the National League Championship, Daniel’s decision was easy—go to the birth. For Hudson, family is a top priority. He explained: “baseball is what I do; it isn’t who I am.” He made the decision to be at the birth, no matter what the...

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Vintage Gospel Advocate: A Call for Spurgeon to Preach Only the Truth

[353 words] Editor’s Note: Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a famous denominational preacher. Spurgeon collected a great following during his day, and his influence is still felt among the denominations today. The following comments regarding Spurgeon’s work and influence are from James A. Butler, a member of the Lord’s church, and were printed in the Gospel Advocate in 1860. I wish that one Trans-Atlantic orator would present the Law of Remission as found in the New Testament, to his people for three consecutive Lord’s days; and this would test the fact to whether those boasted-of multitudes assemble to hear Spurgeon or...

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The Hug Heard Around the World

[325 words] Having been convicted of murdering Botham Jean, a member of the Dallas West church of Christ, the last thing Amber Guyger probably expected to hear at her sentencing were the words “I forgive you” from a member of the victim’s family.  After reading a statement which expressed forgiveness and even a wish that she wouldn’t have to go to jail, Jean’s brother Brandt asked the judge for permission to give Guyger a hug. The dramatic scene was recorded on video and shared throughout the world via television and internet. “I wasn’t going to say this in front of...

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Diligence and Neglect

[320 words] The apostle Peter, in the early part of his second letter, gives emphasis to the importance of Christians being diligent in the development of spiritual qualities. How diligent did he want them to be? He urges, “…giving all diligence…” (2 Pet. 1:5). Later, he adds, “…be even more diligent…” (2 Pet. 1:12). Since Peter wanted these saints to be diligent, he also knew the need for him to be certain he did not neglect his duty to call their attention to such important matters. He recognized he would have been negligent if he failed to remind them and...

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The Highjacking of Our Language

[310 words] Over the years, many great phrases and hand gestures have been adopted by anti-Christian people as terms of derision and hate. The most recent has been a gesture I’ve used all my life: the “OK hand gesture.” It’s a simple gesture, you make an “O” with the forefinger and the thumb and the remaining three fingers stick out. It was a sign used to show acceptance and agreement of what was said or done. I’m in good company in using it. A simple internet search showed pictures of such celebrities as President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Jimmy Chou...

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My Tailor-Made God

[316 words] In your Bible reading, do you ever come across something that doesn’t fit into your theology? The margins of my daily reading Bible are full of my comments, references, and a few question marks. The question marks mean that I don’t know God as well as I need to. They say, “Your theology (understanding of God) is too small.” I wonder if we too often pick and choose passages to support our idea of how we want God to be…and ignore others. One of the passages that became popular (used as a basis of articles, books, and sermons)...

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What Is Peace?

[307 words] Peace can be defined as “tranquility, harmony, or security.” Depending on the situation, it could also mean “prosperity” or “well-being.” The different forms of the word peace are found 429 times in the King James Version of the Bible. There are also different types of peace: false peace, inner peace, peace with God, and peace with man. God instructs us to seek peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). We should be a people who are peaceful and seek to live peaceful lives. “Let us therefore make every effort to...

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Left Behind, Missing Our Family and Friends

[347 words] I am thankful each day to rise and participate in life. However, I am seeing more and more of my family, friends, and those who have meant so much to me pass away. We know grief and death are part of life (Hebrews 9:27), but I think we all yearn to spend more time with those we have loved and devoted time to. We are left behind. What are we to do? Our connection with the one we are missing will dictate our reaction. Our level of grief mirrors the level of our love. We know life doesn’t...

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It Goes Without Saying

[318 words] We’ve all probably heard the adage that the majority of communication is nonverbal. This notion is from Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of the book Silent Messages. In his research, he found that only 7 percent of any message is conveyed through words, the rest (38 percent through certain vocal elements and 55 percent through nonverbal elements) is unspoken.  What we say is more about how we say it and the influence of other factors that make the message. Our smile conveys sincerity. Our dress imparts seriousness (or the lack thereof). A head nod implies conviction. This isn’t just...

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The Gathering

[333 words] The phenomenon is called “shikadamari“ in Japanese. A loose translation would be, “deer gathering spot.” A large population of free-roaming deer live in and around the Japanese city of Nara, spending most of their time in the city park. Every summer evening at around 6:30, over 600 deer gather in the same spot for the same amount of time. The deer quietly come together, sit down for about an hour, then stand back up and disperse to different parts of the park. While onlookers are impressed by the display of consistency of the gathering of the deer, nobody...

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The Christian and the World

[329 words] Do you know what you look like when you dress like the world? The world. Do you know what you sound like when you speak like the world? The world. Do you know what you “smell” like when you commune with the world? The world. Do you know what you become like when you act like the world? The world. Note the following combined verses from the Bible concerning the Christian’s relationship to the world and worldly things, and consider the way you dress, speak, associate, and act: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is...

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Interesting Fish Facts From The Bible!

[341 words] God created fish and all the things that live in the water on the fifth day. “And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.’ So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:20-21). This is one day before the creation of man, therefore fish have been around...

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