The Blessings of Friends and Family

[194 words] It is truly a blessing to be part of a loving family. In like fashion, it is a great blessing to have dear friends. Sadly, not everyone knows what it feels like to be part of such things. All too often we take our family and friends for granted.  If you are so blessed as to have good friends, thank your heavenly Father.  If you are so blessed to have a loving earthly family, thank your heavenly Father.  If you are so blessed as to have a loving spiritual family (meaning you are a member of the body...

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How To Make Sermons Last

[272 words] A preacher posted recently that someone had commented to him, “sermons are ineffective because they are forgotten by the time people get to the restaurant after church.” This statement concerned me because I feel the person who suggested this idea to the preacher put preachers in a negative light (probably not intentionally). I, like you, have heard someone complain from time to time about the preaching, the message, or the presentation. As I have tried to grow spiritually, I’ve learned the hearer has as much of a responsibility to the sermon as the speaker. If the hearer has...

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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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God’s ‘House-Law’

[643 words] Every home has some kind of system in place to keep order. Maybe you were told to take your shoes off at the door, keep your elbows off the table, make your bed in the morning, or brush your teeth more than twice a month. Every home is different and the expectations for conduct and cleanliness vary accordingly. However your home was structured, you were at least bound to a set of rules in some form. God’s house is no different. I’m not just talking about the building we meet in for worship, but that anytime His family...

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A Restoration Observation

[131 words] If I want to grow watermelons in Tennessee today, I do not have to have an unbroken watermelon vine stretching down through all the millennia from the Garden of Eden to Tennessee. All I have to do is plant watermelon seeds in Tennessee today. They will produce in Tennessee today what they have always produced—watermelons! Similarly, to have the undenominational church of the New Testament in the 21st century, we do not need an unbroken line of faithful congregations stretching down through all the centuries from the Day of Pentecost to the present. All we have to do...

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What Would You Be Remembered For?

[222 words] “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). God would be a terrible obituary writer. You know, no matter how the person lived his or her life, the blurb in the newspaper always says glowing things about the person … but God tells it how it is! They were a chosen race, but they had chosen sin. They were a royal priesthood, but they had bowed down to idols of their own making. They were a holy nation, but they had fashioned the Creator in their...

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I Don’t Get Anything Out of the Services

[406 words] Has worship become a lost art? I’m afraid that many of us go through the motions without ever really reaching out to God. Consequently, we tend to leave a service much as we came in. Before long there is the tendency to dismiss the whole concept of assembling for worship. At its best it is boring. At its worst it is almost unbearable. So we throw up our hands, discard church attendance, and find something to do that we really enjoy. We see others that truly look forward to the experience, but for the life of us we...

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The Church is What You Are!

[220 words] The church is built of men and women, not bricks and mortar. As such, it can never be any more faithful or effective than the individual members that comprise it. The Lord’s church in any community will reflect the sins and attitudes of its members.  • If it is a growing church, it is because YOU attended regularly with your family and actively urged others to attend as well.  • If it is an active church, it is because YOU give your time to the program of work.  • If it is a friendly church, it is because...

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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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Some See Less as Better

[293 words] There are some times when less is better. Sometime the less words we speak the better. The less fat intake, the better. The less sin, the better. Sadly, some see less as better in their Christian lives: Less time for worship Less time for Bible study Less time for gospel meetings Fewer verses sung in worship Shorter sermons Fewer fellowship meals Less Bible knowledge Less visiting of the sick and shut-ins Less evangelism Fewer days for VBS Shorter prayers Fewer works of the church that require our time When a church makes a decision to do less, many...

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Bridging Gaps

[353 words] One blade of grass at a time. That’s how the last remaining Inca rope bridge is rebuilt every year. The Q’eswachaka bridge spans the Apurimac river in the Cusco region of Peru. For 600 years, communities from both sides of the bridge have been assembling to cut down the old bridge and rebuild a new one…totally out of local Ichu grass. Women of all ages participate in the gathering of the grass and using it to braid into ropes, which the men of the communities will take and twist into strong cables. The braver of the men will...

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Ten Little Christians

[199 words] Ten Little Christians came to church all the time;One fell out with the preacher, then there were nine.Nine Little Christians stayed up late;One overslept on Sunday, then there were eight.Eight Little Christians on their way to Heaven;One took the low road, then there were seven.Seven Little Christians, chirping like chicks;One didn’t like the singing, then there were six.Six Little Christians seemed very much alive;One took a vacation, then there were five.Five Little Christians pulling for Heaven’s shore;One stopped to take a rest, then there were four.Four Little Christians each as busy as a bee;One had his feelings hurt,...

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What We Need in the Church Today

[353 words] More knocking on doors and less knocking on each other. The great commission demands that we busy ourselves in taking the gospel to others (Mark 16:15). The Bible says, “speak not evil of one another” (James 4:11). It is so much better to be busy doing good rather than evil. More sound heads and fewer soreheads. Perhaps there has never been a time in the history of the church in which we have had a greater need for men sound in the faith and wise in judgment. Sometimes the voice of the wise goes unheeded and the voice...

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It is NOT ‘Just a Church’

[575 words] Jesus promised to do something never before done on earth: He would build His Church upon the great truth that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock l will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Whatever your understanding of the Church may be, it is easy to see from what the Savior said that it must be important to Him. How important is His Church to you? “And they continued steadfastly in...

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The Effective Church

[112 words] …Exalts God (Eph. 3:21). The church is a place of heartfelt praise of its Architect. …Evangelizes the Lost (Matt 28:19-20). The church is a place where the truth of the gospel is presented to all. …Edifies its Members (Eph. 4:16). The church is a place of great love and encouragement.  …Educates the Unlearned (2 Tim. 2:2). The church is a place of teaching the truths of the Word of God. …Equips the Saints (Eph. 4:11-12). The church is a place where people are trained for service. …Eases the Burdens of the Needy (Heb. 13:16). The church is a...

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What You Do in the Church Pew Matters!

[461 words] “You mind your business and I’ll mind mine.” That is the motto of many and I, for one, like it! The Bible teaches us not to be busy-bodies. At the same time, we need to remember that what we do has an impact on others for good or bad. One of the reasons that God has us to come together in an assembly is to provoke one another to “love and good works” and to exhort those around us (Hebrews 10:24-25). What you do in the church pew matters to the preacher. He shouldn’t assume that you are...

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The Watchers

[401 words] When I was a kid I loved collecting and reading comic books. Several characters have stuck with me even today. Among them are a group of alien beings called The Watchers. The Watchers are beings that have great powers to manipulate time, material, and space. They spend their time in observance of all the different worlds of the comic book universe. In doing so, they collect information on every group of beings that can pop up on the pages of Marvel Comics. However, with all their power and all their knowledge, The Watchers were unbelievably boring characters to...

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Me, or We?

[458 words] The story is told of an encounter between a high school principal and a young ninth grader. The principal noticed the young man in the hallway with a very defeated and frustrated look on his face. He asked the young man, “Is everything okay?” The boy replied sternly, “No. I don’t understand all the stuff the math teacher is trying to teach us. I can’t understand all the letters, formulas, and logarithms. It’s impossible.” The principal, with an encouraging tone, said, “I’m sure we can work hard and do it, can’t we?” The boy quickly said, with a...

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It is NOT ‘Just Church’

[577 words] Jesus promised to do something never before done on earth: He would build His Church upon the great truth that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Whatever your understanding of the Church may be, it is easy to see from what the Savior said that it must be important to Him. How important is His Church to you? “And they continued steadfastly in...

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What If You Were the Only One!

[203 words] What if by some happenstance you were the only member of the Church left in your town? Does that seem farfetched? In some places in some cities you might be in that circumstance. If you were to find yourself in this situation, what would you do? Would you simply give up and stay home? Would you try to find the nearest denomination that you might feel comfortable with and forget what you know is right? When the apostle Paul came to the city of Corinth he was the only member of the Church in that city. When he...

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Similarities Between a Pearl and the Church

[430 words] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46). The parable of the pearl of great price is listed among our Lord’s kingdom parables (Matt. 13:1ff). In this particular parable the Lord compares His church to a costly pearl. The pearl is used to show the value of the church and to encourage all to place the Lord and His church first in all choices. Have you ever stopped to consider...

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Remember Who We Are

[291 words] At the beginning, the church’s foremost focus was upon God, not man (Acts 5:29; Galatians 1:10); upon heaven, not earth (Colossians 3:1,2); upon the spirit, not the flesh. (Romans 8:6; 1 Timothy 4:8.) And in spite of severe persecution and constant privations, the church thrived, turning the ancient world “upside down” with the powerful message of the cross. (Acts 14:6.) But times are changing. Many congregations today have more in common with AT&T than with the church of the New Testament. The church in many places seems more concerned with money than with morals, with elders serving more...

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You’re in the Wrong Church

[168 words] If you identify your congregation by a person (pastor or leader) other than Christ, either you’re not in the right church or you’re not the right kind of Christian. Christ does not brook the exaltation of man. The church belongs to him. No person has the right to be known for the work of Christ. “Now I mean this, that each of you is saying, ‘I am with Paul,’ or ‘I am with Apollos,’ or ‘I am with Cephas,’ or ‘I am with Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he? Or were you in...

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They Hoisted the Trophy Without Him

[392 words] It was a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. My son’s Little League All-Star baseball team was playing in the Regional championship game. The team had won their first game earlier that afternoon to advance to the championship round. Just before the start of the game I headed to the dugout to inform both my son and his coach that we would be leaving early so that we could get back in time for church service. Initially my son didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay and play and help his team. I told him later that he...

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Dog Daze

[426 words] When I was a small boy in North Georgia I used to hear the older folks speak of “Dog Days.” I never quite understood what that meant but I got the idea it meant I couldn’t go swimming for fear of catching a fever or something worse. I suppose every part of the country has different phrases to describe some part of a season where things are strongly affected by the weather. It seems to me that dog days used to be in later August and maybe over into “hot” September. Well, it may be a bit early...

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The Church Roll and Body Parts

[532 words] In our ongoing efforts to be the church, the body of Christ, I can’t help but wonder if many folks are missing some vital points. We rightly preach baptism for remission of sins (Acts 2:38). We rightly teach that it is God who adds us to his church (Acts 2:47), and ultimately, he is the one who truly “knows those who are his” (2 Timothy 2:19). I think we also rightly teach that it is appropriate for a person to make it known that he or she wants to “join” (place membership with) a local congregation (Acts 9:26)....

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The Three R’s of a Great Marriage

[513 words] June is definitely the month for weddings, and this past June I presided over two weddings and attended another one. Weddings are stressful, but exciting times. It’s very moving to witness the joining of the lives of a man and a woman in holy matrimony. It brings to mind thoughts of optimism and hope for the future. As far as my advice to newlyweds goes, I usually offer three “R’s” to a sound, successful, and spectacular marriage. Romance. Love is a key element to keeping a marriage vibrant. It is because of love that a marriage should take...

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God Made It Simple

[398 words] The church belongs to God; his by right of purchase; costing him the death of his beloved Son. Since the church belongs to God, it is logically called “the church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2). Since Christ promised to build his church, and paid full price for her with his own blood (Acts 20:28), collectively the congregations of his church can rightfully be referred to as “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16); makes perfect sense. These designations, among others in Scripture, honor and glorify God and his Son. Everyone should be able to embrace these scriptural descriptions and...

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The CHURCH of CHRIST

[74 words] The church spoken of in the Bibleis the product of the mind of God.It exists without man-made creedsor denominational structure.It is the church that belongs to Himby right of purchase.The church of Christ hereis striving to be that body.Our purpose is to reach the lostand bring people to a loving, committed,involved relationship with Christ and His church.Welcome to the church of Christ! via Hinton (OK) Church of Christ...

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Description of the Church

[167 words] The church is not made up of people who believe they are better than others, rather of those who believe they ought to be better than they are. The church is not made up of perfect people, but of people who follow a perfect Lord and realize they ought to do the best they can. The church is not made up of people who never make mistakes, but of those who acknowledge their mistakes and try not to make the same ones again. The church is not trying to withdraw from everyone, but rather to bring everyone into...

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‘Church Stuff’ Really Works!

[396 words] If I were to try to think of a word that best describes God, I suppose it would be “awesome.” Not in the trivial way it is sometimes used but in moments of quiet deliberation when I contemplate his Word, his purpose, and his ways which inspire awe. Throughout the course of my life, I have read things in his Word, abided by them, and watched them come to fruition. I have also read things, rebelled against them, and suffered because of that. In the lives of men, there are at least two dynamics known to have established...

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The Woman at the Well

[349 words] In the text of John 4:6-42, we find a very interesting woman engaged in conversation with the Lord. By and by Jesus tells her to go get her husband and return, to which she replied, “I have no husband.” After Jesus tells her about her five previous marriages and subsequent living condition with a sixth man, she is astonished and goes to report these things to the townsfolk. We will not concern ourselves with the morals or lack thereof, of a woman who lived 2000 years ago. Our knowledge of her situation is at best limited and even...

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Church Shopping

[421 words] “… the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). It seems that more people today are challenging traditional affiliations. For instance, a 2013 Gallup Poll has determined that 42% of American voters consider themselves to be Independent (www.gallup.com). This is the highest number ever of those not expressing an alliance with the Democratic or Republican Party. This trend toward change from traditional institutions is seen in religion as well. In a 2009 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, it was discovered that 44% of Americans have...

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Drop-Outs

[370 words] “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” (Luke 8:14). Frequently members of the church, apparently for no reason at all, quit attending the services. This is usually preceded by a period of indifference and spasmodic attendance. Upon closer investigation it will be found that back of it all there is usually a hindering cause. It may be that the individual has become entangled with some sin, so that he feels so uncomfortable when...

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A Prayer for Our Elders

[181 words] Our Father, let me be a pillar of strength to them, not a thorn to sap their strength, nor a burden on their back to pull them down. Let me support them without striving to possess them; lift up their hands without placing shackles on them. Let me give them my help that they may devote more time to saving others and less time to gratifying my vanity. Let me be unselfish in what I do for them, not selfish and demanding that they do more for me. Help me remember they are ministers to the whole flock....

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There is Another Way!

[213 words] We all like to play the game “what if.” What if cell phones no longer worked, what if TV didn’t come on anymore, what if all of our laptops, iPads, etc., failed? If all that were to happen what could we do? Would all be lost? Now I enjoy all the above mentioned amazing technology, but the game of “what if’ brings up some real solutions. How many of you remember pencils and Big Chief writing tablets? Can you recall the one phone in the hallway? I remember running home from school and turning on the radio. We...

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Don’t Lose Sight of the Mission!

[332 words] King David, not long after establishing Jerusalem as Israel’s military, political and religious center, desired to build the Lord a house. His home of cedar was now complete, but the Ark of the Covenant still remained within a tent (2 Sam. 7:1-2). But the word of the Lord came to Nathan, and that word which was to be spoken to David was a divine denial to the king’s desire (2 Sam. 7:4ft). Although David’s desire to build the Lord a house was good, it was not His will for him to do so. That work would be accomplished...

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Masculinity: Toxic, or Beneficial?

[317 words] There is a tendency in our current society to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In an effort to fight against immoral acts such as sexual harassment, physical abuse, and bullying perpetrated by a small minority of bad apples, mainstream media and social justice warriors have decided to coin the phrase “toxic masculinity” and toss anyone who exhibits manly qualities into that bucket. It is not surprising that a society that seeks to justify and promote homosexuality, cross dressing, and gender ambiguity would also look to vilify the innate characteristics of organic males. After all, if women...

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I Never Intended to Quit!

[290 words] A man who had not attended one service of the church in four years told me he had never thought of quitting the church. I reminded him that he had: (1) Withdrawn his presence from the service; (2) Refused to give his moral support to the activities of the congregation; (3) Withdrawn his financial support, for he had not given one dime to help carry on the Lord’s work. Then I asked “What else would you have to do in order to ‘quit’ the church? As the truth stared to dawn upon him, his expression reflected sober thoughts....

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