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  • Joshua Gulley 8:06 am on December 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus, John 14:15, , , ,   

    scary words 

    I didn’t check to verify this, but I’ve been told that Ronald Reagan once said the nine scariest words that can come out of a man’s mouth are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

    Humorous statement from the president that reflects a bit of truth about the way our government works. Jesus once spoke a nine-word sentence that troubles me at times. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, NASB).

    Lord, You demonstrated Your love for us by dying in our stead. Help us demonstrate our love for You by keeping Your commandments.

  • Joshua Gulley 12:11 pm on November 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, John 9,   

    One Thing I Do Know 

    In John 9, Jesus heals a blind man on the Sabbath Day. Since he had been blind since birth, what a joyous, life-changing moment this must have been, right? But unfortunately, one of the first things his newly functioning eyes witnessed was Pharisees descending upon him like hounds on a trapped coon. They had an agenda and the man and his parents knew it, so they felt like they were walking on thin ice answering their questions. To them, this wonderful gift of sight from Jesus may have appeared to be a curse at first. Typical of life–when you obtain something worth rejoicing about, there’s somebody there trying to drain all the joy out of it for you.

    About the 4th time they came to him asking him what happened, they began basically by trying to bully him into calling Jesus a sinner. His response is one of my favorite verses. It was profound in its simplicity: “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” He didn’t yet know that Jesus was the Messiah; he hadn’t been told much about Jesus at all, and he didn’t go trying to fabricate an answer. He just told them what he knew, which was enough for both parties to make a choice. Might we learn from this that we don’t have to be experts before we tell people about Jesus.

    Lord, thank You for providing the account of Jesus and this blind man. Grant us the integrity to admit what we don’t know, the courage to speak what we do, and the wisdom to let the truth guide our thoughts, words, and actions.

  • Eugene Adkins 7:12 am on November 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , jesus, personal shortcomings   

    Easy to be around 

    As long as a person wasn’t living life with a faux front, Jesus was easy to be around. For the most part, when it came to people interacting with Jesus, imperfection was actually able to relate to and relax around perfection. They knew they didn’t belong in his presence but they knew they had nowhere else to go (Luke 5:8; John 6:68). I guess that’s why I came and why I stay all in one sentence.

    He reveals what I already know about myself, even the stuff that I don’t want to see, but he keeps those shortcomings between him and me. 

    That sentence may be bad English, but it’s good doctrine and theology because Jesus came in the flesh to be around us despite our shortcomings, and that’s why we can still find it easy to be around him.

    For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

  • TFRStaff 7:00 am on November 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus, , , , types and shadows   

    Jonah – A Type of Jesus 

    There is a form of music called the “sonata-allegro” format, in which there are three segments—exposition, development, and recapitulation. The concept is that you present a melody called a “theme” in the exposition, perform more-or-less recognizable variations of it in the development, and then restate it almost verbatim in the recapitulation, often a bit more dramatically. The Bible is kind of the ultimate demonstration of the “sonata-allegro” format. Exposition Man breaks his covenant with God, and God seeks to restore the broken relationship. Development – the rest of the Old Testament—the flood and Noah, the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with Moses, the judges, the prophets, etc. Recapitulation – Jesus reconciles man to God on the cross. What I have written below has probably been noticed before and written about hundreds of times, but you always feel like you’ve got something when you discover it for yourself.

    The second paragraph below will mirror the first one. The best way to see the comparison is to read the first sentence in the first paragraph below, followed by the first sentence in the second paragraph below; then the second sentence in the first paragraph, followed by the second sentence in the second paragraph, etc.

    It was the will of God for Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah knew that the men on board needed to sacrifice him to calm the wrath of God being demonstrated in the storm. The men did not want to throw him overboard; but the will of God cannot be prevented, so no matter how hard the men tried to row, the storm kept them from reaching shore. So the men prayed, declaring their innocence in the matter. They threw Jonah overboard, and the wrath of God subsided, resulting in the abating of the storm. The men then knew that Jonah’s God is the real God, and they turned to Him. Jonah then spends three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, before being vomited onto the shore.

    It was the will of God for Jesus to go to Golgotha (Matthew 26:39-42). Jesus knew the angry mob needed to sacrifice Him to calm the wrath of God, which would otherwise be demonstrated in the final judgment of all mankind. Pilate was hesitant to sentence Him to death (Matthew 27:22-23); but the will of God cannot be prevented, so no matter how hard Pilate tried to avoid sentencing Jesus, the angry mob continued to demand His life. So Pilate washed his hands before the crowd, declaring his innocence in the matter (Matthew 27:24). He handed Jesus over to be crucified (Matthew 27:26), and when this was accomplished, the wrath of God subsided, resulting in salvation for mankind. Upon the signs accompanying His death (the veil rent in two, the earthquake), the guards keeping watch over Jesus knew that He was the real God, and they were frightened. Jesus spent three days and three nights in the tomb before being seen alive on the third day.

    The symmetry is amazing. Parallelism is a desired feature in all kinds of artwork, from architecture to music to painting to sculptures to story-telling to dance to fill in the blank. God is the ultimate Artist, and His Word contains beautiful demonstrations of this effect. Should we be surprised? After all, He programmed our brains to search for it. – Joshua Gulley 

    Josh is a teacher of music at the High School level and a member among the saints at the Smithville Church of Christ

  • Eugene Adkins 6:48 am on November 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , jesus, , ,   

    A Poem about The Lordship of Jesus 

    Here’s a little poem that I wrote about the Lordship of Jesus this morning. I didn’t really have enough time to come up with a proper title, so if you can think of one that fits really well pass it along in a comment. I hope you find it useful for something.


    It goes without saying, there is no doubt

    Jesus is Lord of all, He’ll return with a shout

    He’s the Light of the world, shining brightly for all

    But have you closed your eyes, sadly ignoring His call?


    If your answer is yes, then with your heart repent

    Quit fighting His grace; allow your resistance to relent

    For if we remain stubborn, spurning the grace-filled call

    Then we’ll one day we’ll see, that He’s truly Lord of all!


    So walk in the light, for that way is safe

    He’ll help us along, He’ll watch over our fate

    But if we delay, and walk not in the way

    We will still take a knee, but in a whole different way!


    And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:35 am on November 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus, ,   

    A Real Return On Investment 

    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-45)

    Why did the two people in the parables sell everything they had to get what they had found? Because what they had found was more valuable than all they had.

    A good point to walk away with from this is that we can put our all into the kingdom of God and we’ll still get a greater return than what we could ever invest because the ROI of Wall Street has nothing on the ROI of the street of gold!

    But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

  • Eugene Adkins 7:14 am on November 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , jesus, Matthew 16, , , , the rock   

    The Real Rock of the Church 

    When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:13-21 – NET)

    Unfortunately there are some in the religious world who completely miss the point of the above exchange between Jesus, the Son of God, and his chosen apostle, Peter. They sadly believe that these verses teach that the church of Christ, both locally and universally, was built upon Peter instead of what Jesus actually said the church would be built upon. Peter, along with the other apostles and prophets of God, helped to establish the foundation of the church through his teachings (Ephesians 2:20), but Peter is not the rock of Matthew 16:18 that the church is built upon.

    The rock of Matthew 16:18 that the church is built upon is the foundational principle of Jesus’ sonship, not Peter’s apostleship. Jesus is the rock of the church in every way. And keeping things in the context of the above quoted scriptures, how, outside of the Father’s verbal declaration (Matthew 17:4-5; 2 Peter 1:16-19) and the witness of the scriptures of God (Psalm 2; Hebrews 1:1-4), was Jesus proven to be the Son of God? It was by his resurrection from the dead!

    From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:1-4 – NET)

    This is why Jesus said the gates of Hades would not prevail or overpower the church’s foundation. Because death itself would not prevent the church from being built! The keys to the entrance of the kingdom were given to Peter (along with the other apostles, prophets and teachers of God) to use to let people into the kingdom, the church – but only Jesus has the keys to let people escape death, and their benefit is enjoyed through a belief in Jesus, the Son of God, and his conquering of death (John 11:25-26; Acts 2:22-41; Romans 10:9-10; Revelation 1:12-18).

    This is why the scriptures refer to the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:18-23; Colossians 1:12-18) as the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23) – because Jesus was, is and forever will be the firstborn from the dead, which is the foundational principle of the church’s existence.

    My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness and his victory over the grave as the Christ, the Son of God, and the rest of the church rests upon that rock for that is the rock, the true word of God’s grace, that Peter, James, John, Paul and the rest of the apostles and prophets built the church’s faith upon (Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 1:3). And to attempt to build the church upon any other foundation is to miss the foundation, the true rock, which was revealed to Peter by the Father through Jesus his Son in Matthew 16:13-21.

    We are coworkers belonging to God. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11 – NET)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:38 am on November 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus,   

    Around the corner or already here? 

    If you check out the calendar (America’s version) you’ll notice that Thanksgiving is already around the corner!

    But the question for us, as Christians (no matter what country we’re living in), asks, “Is thanksgiving already in our hearts?”

    Thanksgiving isn’t an attitude that just happens. It’s intentional. It goes beyond the physical to the spiritual. It remembers where our blessings come from and where they abide (Ephesians 1:3).

    We may face unpleasant situations across the spectrum, but as Christians we can hold on to the root (Romans 15:12) that leads to a thanksgiving that sprouts out and bears the fruit in our heart that can be seen and heard continually – Jesus!

    Therefore by [Jesus] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15 – NKJV)

  • TFRStaff 6:44 am on October 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , jesus, , Peacemaker,   

    Peacemaker or Peace-Breaker 

    Percival Wilde once described a man with these memorable words: “He made enemies as naturally as soap makes suds.” Think about soap and suds for a moment. You don’t have to work very hard to get soap to make suds. Just mix a little water with the soap and agitate it slightly — and presto — out come the suds. Some people are like that. They make enemies easily. Agitate them ever so slightly and they are ready to go to war, if not with weapons at least with words. It just seems to be in some people’s nature to make and see other people as enemies. Thousands of years ago the psalmist found himself living around people who didn’t care about getting along with others — “My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6-7). Sadly, daily headlines and simple observation reveal that our own world is populated by far too few who are for peace and far too many who are for war. The proof of that is all around us. The God Christians worship is called the “God of peace” (Romans 15:13). The Christ Christians seek to follow was described by a prophet as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). And the gospel Christians preach to the world is referred to in the Bible as the “gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15). All the more tragic, then, that we live in a world at war. Unless you are from another planet and just arrived today, you know there is war between nations. And here at home in America there is a lack of peace on our streets. The FBI “crime clock” reports a violent crime is committed every 23.5 seconds (huffingtonpost.com, 1/16/13). We are disgusted and stunned that violence now frequently enters the hallways and classrooms of our public schools, turning them into war-zones and killing fields. TV programming is saturated with violent acts. In many homes in America children and spouses are abused and even murdered. And thanks to “a woman’s right to choose,” violence has invaded and destroyed even the peace of the womb, making the womb, statistically, the most dangerous place to live in America. As some anonymous wag has noted, the most amazing thing about someone being arrested for disturbing the peace these days is that they found any peace to disturb.

    How challenging, then, the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called the children of God.” God’s children are known for trying to make peace. Now, while there is more to being a child of God than being a “peacemaker” (see John 3:3-5; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38, etc.), there certainly is not less. That’s why an inspired writer directed us bluntly in Hebrews 12:14 to “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” To be God’s sons and daughters is to take on His nature. And the gospel forcefully demonstrates His nature is to make peace, even when the cost is supreme (see Ephesians 2:12-17 and Colossians 1:20). It is no surprise then that Romans 14:19 lays down this directive to Christians: “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” Christians must seek to make peace, even as we wage “the good warfare” and “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12). Get real and search your heart: are you making war or peace? Are you a peacemaker or a peace-breaker? Think about it.

    Dan Gulley – Smithville Church of Christ

  • TFRStaff 1:52 pm on October 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, , ,   

    People Hang on His Every Word 

    While I cannot praise the beer industry for its product, I have to admit that beer companies rank near the top in coming up with memorable commercials. One of them has recently been making some funny twists to several clichés and attributing them to “the most interesting man in the world.” One of these went this way: “people hang on his every word—even the prepositions.”

    The last half of Luke 19 describes Jesus’s “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. The last two verses tell that He was teaching on a daily basis in the temple while the chief priests and scribes were trying to figure out how to kill Him. They couldn’t come up with anything, though, because according to verse 48, “All the people were hanging on to every word He said” (even the prepositions! J).

    As a curious side note, people are divided over Jesus’s prepositions, or at least the ones the apostles left for us in the name of Jesus. The most prevalent error proclaimed by the denominational world stems in part from a misunderstanding of the word “for” in the invitation of the first gospel sermon recorded in the book of Acts. “Let every one of you repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” Does that word for mean “because of” or “in order to obtain”? Millions of people believe it means the former, when a thorough study of the New Testament would indicate the latter. But that’s not the point I was intending to make—we’ll get back to the trunk of the tree now.

    “All the people were hanging on to every word He said.” I bet many of those people would be present for that first gospel sermon a couple of months later; I bet many of them would respond to the gospel and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Several years down the road, I bet many of them were racing to the assembly to be present for the first public reading of Mark’s account of the life of Jesus (or Matthew or whoever’s gospel came first). I bet many of them did what Jesus’s mother did by treasuring these things, pondering them in their hearts (Luke 2:19). God, forgive us when we get into such a routine that we don’t think about You or the Words You have left for us. Help us realize that the Scriptures are the most valuable resource on this planet, and may we “hang on every word.” – Joshua Gulley

    Josh is a member of the church at the Smithville Church of Christ and a teacher of music at the High School level

  • TFRStaff 6:30 am on October 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , jesus, ,   

    A Sanitizer For The Soul 

    I am looking at an eight ounce bottle of hand sanitizer. The kind you pump into your palm and then feel the cool sensation and smell the alcohol-like smell as it presumably kills millions of potentially life-threatening germs and bacteria living on your skin! The brand-name is “germ-X hand sanitizer.” In bold red letters at the bottom of the bottle are these words: “Kills 99.99% of germs.” The prevalence of such products reminds me we live in a dirty world. Several years ago a news report in Nashville revealed that bacteria was found on 50 of 51 public places and things examined, including telephones, computer keyboards, restaurant salad bars, etc. Believe it or not, one of the cleanest places found were commode seat lids! The news segment was entitled, “IT’S A DIRTY WORLD!” In our hyper-health-conscious age, Americans are more concerned about dirt than ever. We use cleaners, disinfectants, and antiseptics. Soap is big business. We scrub, clean, deodorize, sanitize, and sterilize because we know dirt can be dangerous and even deadly to physical life. So we wash and clean our clothes, cars, hands, heads, houses, bodies, and buildings. We filter our water and air and demand the food supply be kept pure. We wouldn’t want impurities in our lungs or livers. Or cholesterol in our veins, lead in the pipes and paint, asbestos in the walls, second-hand smoke in the room, or smog in the atmosphere. We even insist landfills be “sanitary,” and spend billions to insure waste is disposed of in a way that doesn’t pollute the water table or land!

    I applaud our commitment to physical cleanness and purity. But our hands are not the only things that need sanitizing. On any given day in America, we are exposed to thousands of spiritual germs and bacteria. Spiritual toxins and impurities constantly seek to enter and pollute our spiritual hearts! Our culture is saturated with dirty words and images and sights and sounds. Dirt and germs seek entry into our hearts through our eyes and ears. These days TV could easily be taken to stand for “trashy values.” It’s getting harder and harder to find decent TV programming during prime-time viewing hours. Dirt also comes packaged in much of the music that fills the air and millions of iPods. Doug Stone released a song in 1992 that warned, “They ought to put warning labels on those sad country songs.” We might add on those sexually suggestive country songs, too. And not just country — also rock and pop and hip-hop! I could go on but don’t need to. You know I am telling you the truth. We live in sinful and morally dirty world that seeks to pollute our hearts. That’s why Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:8 are so critical — “Blessed are, the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” We don’t just need a hand sanitizer. Because of contact with sin, we need a heart sanitizer. Thank God we have one! “If we walk in the light as He is the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). We apply that sanitizer to our souls when we respond to Christ’s call to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). It is truly a dirty world, but the blood of Christ is powerful enough to sanitize our souls and make our hearts pure. Do you have a pure heart?

    Dan Gulley –  Smithville church of Christ

  • Eugene Adkins 7:08 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , jesus, ,   

    What part of _____________ don’t you understand? 

    I had a person the other day try to tell me that he, me, you, the apostle Paul or any other “saint” couldn’t be sure about the eternal destination of the soul and that God’s people of the past never presumed to know where they were heading to after death.

    My answer to anyone who makes a claim like that is what part of 1 John 5:13 don’t you understand?

    The apostle of Jesus Christ whom we know personally claimed to be teaching the truth concerning our sins, Jesus’ death and the complete forgiveness that we can enjoy because of it plainly said:

    • “I have put these things in writing for you who have faith in the name of the Son of God, so that you may be certain that you have eternal life.” (BBE)
    • “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (NET)
    • “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (NASB)
    • “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (KJV)

    On and on the translations go. The Greek is so plain and so closed to any type of “personal interpretation” that virtually any translation worth the smallest amount of salt at all will practically say the same thing!

    So now, can a person be sure they are saved? Absolutely they can. According to John himself that was the whole point of writing what he wrote. And to say otherwise due to some supposed oral tradition, written tradition or personal tradition is to break away from the clearly revealed “tradition” passed down from God’s apostle!

    Have faith! Read the rest of John’s letter for in it we can find the assurance that we need when it comes to our sins, Jesus’ death and the complete forgiveness that we can enjoy because of it. Be faithful! John’s letter reveals that the standard of faithfulness is not left up to the whims of culture or manmade leaderships, and his letter reveals that faithfulness comes with the promise of reward – a reward that we can be sure of just as the apostle Paul also taught (2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Corinthians 13:5).

    There is a difference between the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” and the doctrine of the blessed assurance that Jesus came to deliver through a covenant sealed with blood strong enough to completely blot out my sin no matter how I or anyone else feels about it!

    When we walk upon the sure foundations revealed by the word of God we won’t have to walk on eggshells, glass or pins and needles when it comes to salvation, for when we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus is always ready and capable of cleansing us from every sin; and therein is the difference between religion and relationship!

    If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 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.” (1 John 1:6-9 – NKJV)

    • Joseph Richardson 9:50 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      There is a distinction, too, that I think whomever you were talking to might have been making that you are not making. You talk about “being saved” largely in the present tense, and the possibility (or not) of “losing one’s salvation.” But the biblical authors write about salvation in several different tenses: for example, according to Paul, we “have been saved” (e.g. Eph 2:8), we “are being saved” (e.g. 1 Cor 15:2), and we “will be saved” on the Last Day (e.g. 1 Cor 3:15). And it’s true that Paul says he “does not even judge [himself],” that although he is not aware of anything against himself, it is up to God, “who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart” (1 Cor 4:4–5) to be his final judge.

      And John tells us that absolutely, we can have assurance that we have been saved, that we have eternal life, that Jesus has washed away our sins. But even you seem to admit the possibility of walking away from that salvation and eternal life (correct me if I’m wrong). John exhorts his readers to “abide in Him” (e.g. 1 John 2:28), and that “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (1 John 3:10): for John, we can have assurance that we have eternal life but we still must abide in the light.

      The person you were talking to (a Catholic, I suspect?) would probably readily say that he has been saved through Baptism, through which Christ washed away his sins and through which he has been born again to Christ’s new and eternal life. The difference is the emphasis he was making, and I think you may have been misunderstanding each other. Just as Paul can say he has been saved but yet cannot presume to judge himself before the final day, we can say that we have been saved, and have assurance of that, and yet we cannot have absolute assurance that we will still be abiding in Him up to the end.

      • Eugene Adkins 10:13 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        There was no distinction to make. His position was that you could have no confidence/assurance in your salvation and that I was making myself a pope for having any other belief.

        If he would be honest enough to be consistent with his position he would take issue with the first sentence of your second paragraph.

        I’m not seeming to admit anything. I’m plainly saying that there is a world of difference between the assurance of salvation and saying anything close to once you’re saved you’re always saved. I’ve done several posts, posts that you have even commented on, that say this much.

        As to your last comment I would again ask, “What part of 1 John 5:13 don’t you understand?” John says he wrote what he wrote so Christians could be certain that they had eternal life. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that to anyone who actually takes the time to read 1 John.

        There was no misunderstanding on my part for I do not believe in once saved always saved, but I do believe that a person can be sure of his or her salvation because the Bible says we can, and that’s what he was saying isn’t possible.

        • Joseph Richardson 10:35 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          So then, I don’t understand the distinction you are making. What is the difference between “one saved, always saved” and “being sure of one’s salvation”?

        • Eugene Adkins 10:39 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          You already referred to it once. It’s the principle that John was teaching in 1 John 1:6-9. A principle that in no way affects believing that a person can know he or she is saved and also a principle that warns about the danger of sin, which is a danger that is completely ignored by the doctrine of once saved always saved.

        • Joseph Richardson 10:42 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          So then, we agree? Why are you arguing with me? We can have assurance that we have been saved, but that still leaves the possibility of “losing our salvation” through sin. Are we not saying the same thing?

        • Eugene Adkins 11:16 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          Um, who’s arguing with who here???

          To say that, “…we can say that we have been saved, and have assurance of that, and yet we cannot have absolute assurance that we will still be abiding in Him up to the end” has nothing to do with what I was taking about in the post. It’s a different topic and not even a statement that I necessarily 100% agree with but regardless you can say that to a certain extent about everything in life (James 4:13-15). The post had to do with a person saying that a Christian can never have assurance in his or her salvation. And the Bible is too clear – God does not want a person walking around on eggshells when it comes to being in a right relationship with Him through Jesus (John 8:31-32).

          You can never be good enough or do enough good works to ever say “now my salvation is secure” but you can, according to the Bible, abide in Jesus and be completely comfortable with knowing where you’re going when you die. I John 5:13 is too plain to say otherwise and it does not subtract anything from what 1 John 1:6-9 is saying because that’s exactly what he’s pointing back to. John said “he wrote these things” which includes all of what we call the 5 chapters that make up the letter.

        • Joseph Richardson 11:30 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          Well then, that’s exactly what I’m saying also. We are in complete agreement. I’m not sure to whom you were talking and replying to in this post, and they may very well misunderstand. The distinction I am talking about is exactly the same distinction you are making, just using different language. You talk about being assured in one’s salvation but still being warned of the danger of sin. Catholics (at least, Catholics who know what they are talking about) make a distinction between initial, progressive, and final salvation — as Scripture does itself (we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved). We can have assurance of the first two but not of the last.

          Your presumption that Catholics believe we “have to be good enough or do enough good works” to be saved is where you are misunderstanding us, I think. That’s not what we believe. To say that we don’t have assurance of our final salvation is not to say that we think Christ’s salvation is any less perfect and absolute — it’s only having the humility to say that we are not above sin and that we could still screw up. And the distinction the person you were talking to seems to have been making is that — and it does seem this way to many if not most Catholics (especially those who have never been Protestants) — it seems like great hubris to say that one has absolute assurance that one will be saved. Because to a Catholic, that sounds not as if one is trusting in God for salvation, but as if one is trusting in himself.

        • Eugene Adkins 11:43 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          Your presumption that I’m talking to Catholics is your presumption. In the post I said that I was talking to anybody who made the claim that people cannot be sure of his or her eternal destination. The person I was talking to was arguing against that fact, and I guarantee according to the major attitude they were showing toward me, and if they were consistent in their position with you, that he would tell you that he knows what he’s talking about and that I have made myself a pope for saying otherwise, so if you agree with me then I guess you’re a pope too whether or not you knew it.

        • Joseph Richardson 11:49 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          You’ve given every indication that you were talking to a Catholic, and haven’t denied it when I’ve suggested it above. The idea of “making oneself a pope” itself suggests that you were talking to a Catholic. But I’m sorry if I’m mistaken. And, I’m sure you’ll readily admit, not everyone who claims to know that they’re talking about, knows what they are talking about. ;)

        • Eugene Adkins 11:59 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink

          Yes, the original conversation was with a Catholic, but the post that I wrote wasn’t “targeted” at any one person but rather at one personal belief that says a person can’t be sure that he or she is saved. I am fairly confident, and you’re more than welcome to point it out if I’m wrong, that I used a variety of words to make sure that my “target” for the post was very broad in scope.

  • TFRStaff 6:22 am on October 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Government Shutdown, jesus, ,   


    Due to the conflicts that arise among men and their varying viewpoints of what is the best direction to go, governments face challenges. Sometimes those governments lack funding needed. Programs come and go; some being sustained while others cut. National debts grow and governments face temporary shutdowns or go bankrupt altogether. Governments even crumble and disappear. Because of this, the citizens of those governments are impacted. However, a lack of stability based merely upon the decisions of humanity should not surprise us. Solutions based merely upon the finite mind are not always the best. The imperfect cannot bring about perfection!

    From where do we seek to find stability for life? Where do we turn with the expectation of truly finding wisdom for adequately addressing our greatest needs? If it is from among men, our focus is too low and our expectation will be disappointed. It is from above that we have hope that will not disappoint us. (Romans 5:5)

    In Isaiah we read. . .

    “(6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) OF THE INCREASE OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND OF PEACE THERE WILL BE NO END, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

    As was prophesied, Jesus came, HIS KINGDOM was established, (Luke 1:32-33; Revelation 11:15), and citizenship in it is still available. Regardless of what is going on throughout the world today, HIS KINGDOM is still open for business. While the decisions of mankind seem to continually increase the DEBT OF SIN, the price our Lord paid for our redemption through His blood on the cross is still adequate and available to satisfy that debt! As the Lord’s Sovereignty encompasses more hearts in this world, the expansion of HIS KINGDOM of grace continues with each moment within it making our life better and better. May we truly appreciate the citizenship that is ours in Heaven (Philippians 3:20-21) as we know it is in Christ we have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3 ESV) Regardless of this world’s shutdowns, with the Lord our prayers will still be heard, forgiveness will still be granted, and blessings will still be delivered!

    Have a great day PLACING YOUR HIGHEST ALLEGIANCE ABOVE! – Carl Hanson

    “teEn-MAIL” is sent out daily by Carl Hanson, preacher for the Church of  Christ in Port Townsend, Washington, USA, located at 230 A Street, Port  Townsend, WA 98368. Come visit us if in the area.  http://www.porttownsendchurchofchrist.org

    Some previous “teEn-MAIL” focuses may be viewed at http://www.teenmailbiblestudy.org

  • TFRStaff 6:34 am on October 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: jesus, , , ,   

    What Are You Hungry For? 

    Dennis the Menace once said, “I said I’m hungry enough to eat a horse. I didn’t say nothin’ about carrots.” At times our hunger is more for what tastes good to us than what is good for us. Fran Lebowitz noted, “Mealtime is the only time of the day when children resolutely refuse to eat.” They often hold out for a “Happy Meal” or something sweeter to the taste than carrots or spinach, etc.! The burning question for millions in our culture is not, “Are you hungry?” but “What are you hungry for?” We have to get that worked out because practically every town and city in our nation offers a plethora of places to eat. Do you want Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, even Thai? Will it be fish tonight, or pork, or a steak, or chicken? Sushi anyone? Maybe spaghetti or pizza? In our “go out to eat” culture, the choices are seemingly endless, and so, to reiterate, we often hear the question, “What are you hungry for?” Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser revealed that we often opt to feed on “fast food.” In his 2001 best selling book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Schlosser reported that Americans spend more money on fast food than on higher education, computers, computer software or new cars. In fact, according to Schlosser, we spend more on fast food than movies, books, magazines, newspaper and recorded music — combined. That’s a lot of Big Mac’s and Krystals and Chic-Filets and Frosties and tater tots.

    So, what are you hungry for? Americans crave a fast fill-up for all kinds of hungers — fortune, fame, fun, power, possessions, sensual pleasure, etc. But Christ challenges us to think outside the Big Mac box when He says in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” These words compel us to think beyond the felt, physical needs of the body to the deeper spiritual needs of the soul. God wants us to experience a hunger and thirst for the holy. In a world with more appetite for what feels right than for what God says is right, Christians must maintain an acute appetite for righteousness and the things that feed it. I grew up on a farm where we had cows, ponies, chickens, and even a few pigs to tend and feed. One thing became clear through my experiences on that farm — if a cow or horse or pig is healthy, it has an intense appetite for the stuff cows and horses and pigs eat and drink — clover, crushed corn and grain sorghum, other grains, hay and, of course, water. And they stayed busy feeding their hunger and slaking their thirst. You never had to brow beat them or preach sermons reminding them to eat and to drink the things that livestock are supposed to eat and drink! Their appetites and how and what to feed them came built-in. Now, there are no “holy cows,” but Christians are called to be holy and love what is right. Do you hunger and thirst for the holy? Are you on a diet that feeds righteousness — Bible reading, prayer, worship assemblies, etc.? What are you feeding and drinking into your mind and heart and home? Just what are you hungry for? Think about it.

    “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and He who believes in Me shall never thirst” – Jesus Christ, John 6:35

    Dan Gulley – Smithville Church of Christ

  • Eugene Adkins 6:32 am on September 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, , ,   

    Guest Article: Where’s Jesus? by Joshua Gulley 

    Here’s a good article that reminds us about the importance of feeding our faith over our ego and allowing God’s grace to accomplish what we could never earn.

    Where’s Jesus? by Joshua Gulley

    Luke 5:15-16 – “The news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would slip away to the wilderness and pray.”

    Hold on a minute! I thought this was what Jesus’s job was—to spread the gospel of the kingdom of God, to heal people, to cast out demons, to raise people from the dead, to encourage, to do miracles, to teach, to exhort, to rebuke! You’re telling me that Jesus turned down opportunities to do the Lord’s work?! You mean they had a door-knocking event and He didn’t show up? You mean to tell me that there was a work camp going on and He skipped it? Are you trying to say that there was a revival meeting that night and He didn’t attend?

    I’m being overly dramatic, of course. But the fact remains that there was good work available for the doing, and Jesus chose not to be there. How can this be so? I think Jesus had already learned a couple of things that take some experience to figure out—a couple of things that I understand in theory at this point of my life, but have not quite perfected in practice just yet.

    First is that your own relationship with God has to be in proper order before anything else can be acceptable. There are always good things to be doing, but if we are always doing good things, we are not taking time to stay close to God ourselves.

    Second is that overworking yourself is not good. There are several reasons for this, but the important one here is that when we are working all the time, we may be accomplishing a lot, but we may also be tempted to develop an unhealthy pride in the things we accomplish. I may knock on 500 doors and conduct 30 Bible studies and grade a thousand correspondence courses and mow a dozen yards and clean five gutters and visit 20 widows and carry 40 meals to the sick before I realize that by keeping up with my stats, I’m developing a “salvation by credit” kind of attitude. To twist Paul’s words a bit, I may give all my possessions to feed the poor and surrender my body to be burned, but without the blood of Jesus, none of that will get me to heaven. God is pleased with the good we accomplish as long as we keep in mind that He doesn’t need us to do it. He deserves every bit of our devotion, but ironically, that devotion can be misplaced and actually cause us to move away from God. “Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

    Paul perhaps captures it best in Ephesians 2:8-10. “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We can’t let Satan guilt us into thinking we’ve got to do more, more, more. When you find yourself patting yourself on the back for something good you just did (boasting), then it’s time to go back to the other side of the semicolon to remember that salvation is a gift—not wages. Lord, help us know when it is time to slip away into the wilderness and pray. – Joshua Gulley

    Josh is a member at the Smithville Church of Christ and a teacher of music at the High School level

  • Eugene Adkins 6:53 am on September 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, ,   

    Facing Mortality 

    We face our mortality every time we look in the mirror.

    A body made of dirt. A soul made by the hands of God. It’s easy to confuse the two; at least it’s easier to see one before the other.

    We can eat right, exercise, wear sunscreen, stretch in the morning, brush our teeth everyday and even floss and the results eventually lead to the same inevitable conclusion.

    But was this body ever made to always last?

    I think I remember reading something about two trees in the garden. One was for knowledge of opposing mindsets and the other for something called life (Genesis 2:9). Even in a sinless state the body still needed something “extra” to keep the dirt from breaking down.

    There can be great pain when we face our mortality. But does there always have to be?

    In the face of mortality we can look for and see the face of immortality.

    In the face of mortality we can look for and see the face of the one who not only faced his fleshly mortality, he stared it down and he conquered it!

    Young, old, male, female, rich, poor, educated, ignorant, red, yellow, black or white – we all face the same thing everyday and one day we will all see the same one who sees us.

    But will our mortality be ready for the immortality to come?

    in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-58)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:28 am on September 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Forms, , , , jesus, , , Plato   

    Guest Article: Plato and Paul by Joshua Gulley 

    Plato and Paul by Joshua Gulley

    As a diversion lately I’ve been reading a textbook I kept from college: Philosophy: History and Problems. In a chapter about Plato the authors describe his theory of “Forms.” Basically, forms are the essence of a thing—you and I, being humans, are copies, imitations, or manifestations of the form called “humanness.” Perhaps a better example would be the form called “Beauty,” of which there are many diverse expressions. A rose, for example, displays characteristics of the form “Beauty.” It doesn’t exhaust the characteristics of beauty, because beauty can be manifested in other things—a sunset, for example, or an attractive person, or a relationship that works properly. The things that display the form “beauty” are almost endless. The point is that these individual things are only manifestations of the “form,” which is said to exist independently of the things which are copies of it. In support of this idea is the fact that we make value judgments about the quality of things. We say that one particular “car” is better than another car, implying that there is a standard—an “ultimate car”—by which we measure the quality of a particular car—and one model is closer to that standard than another.

    Like other philosophies, I suppose this one has weaknesses, but that’s not the reason I brought this one up. I find this philosophy of “forms” intriguing because it suggests there are two worlds—one that is made up of the things we see and handle, which are, as Plato suggests, copies of the true “forms” that exist separately from our experience. The analogies could be pushed to the extreme, but I think this aligns perfectly with what we understand from reading the Bible. There is a physical world—a world of the flesh, the things we experience. Then there is a spiritual world—a world of the “forms” or virtues that find expression in the physical world. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” All these we can imagine as “forms” which find expression in the actions we portray in everyday life. I’m ninth in line at Wal-Mart at the only register that is open despite the fact that it’s Wednesday night and they should know there will be an onslaught of customers, but instead of huffing, puffing, and describing the managers using creative adjectives, I make use of the time by saying a silent prayer, getting to know someone in line next to me, or thinking of all the things God has done for me today that I don’t deserve. My doing so is not the ultimate picture of “patience,” but it is a reflection of that “form” which exists separately from my individual demonstration of it.

    I believe the apostle Paul has Plato’s back here. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Lord, may our lives be filled with demonstrations of those “forms” You call us to pursue; and by so doing, help us reflect Jesus, who is our life.

    Josh is a teacher of music at the High School level and is a member among the saints who belong to the Smithville Church of Christ

    • Scott Shifferd Jr. 9:16 am on September 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      You could really run with this thought. Consider that form of doctrine to which we obeyed from the heart (Rom. 6:17). Then consider that form or pattern of doctrine in the example of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-7, cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). From here, think of how we are conformed (Phil. 3:9-11). Thank you for the springboard.

      • Eugene Adkins 4:44 am on September 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I definitely thought of Philippians 3 too. Romans 8:29 was another area that came to mind.

        Thanks for commenting, Scott. I’ll pass along your thanks.

  • Eugene Adkins 7:07 am on September 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Ninja Warrior, , jesus, , , ,   

    The Frustration of Falling Short 

    I’ve been a fan of the TV show “Ninja Warrior” long before it ever came to shores of America for a couple of reasons.

    1) It looks like fun!

    2) It looks like a lot of fun!!

    But at the same time I know the competition is serious business. Major, major training goes on. People’s lives are revolutionized, physically speaking, because of their desire to complete the physically and mentally grueling four-stage course. Thousands of people, including professional athletes, have attempted to conquer the feat lying before them to reach the top of “Mt. Midoriyama” but a very, very, very limited few have actually reached their goal.

    If you watch the show very long you’ll know one thing to be true – to fall short of your goal is to fall frustratingly short in a way that words can hardly describe! You see, if don’t already know, you only get one shot per year. Your run has to be perfect for it’s all or none!

    I hear a spiritual application in that!!!

    To fall short, well the spiritual application there is about as clear as day to anyone familiar with the word “sin” itself. But in case you don’t know, the word “sin” literally means, “to miss the mark, or to fall short of the standard.” And when it comes to life a standard from God has been given and it requires perfection. His righteousness is the standard and our sin causes us to fall miserably short of the goal!

    Yet when we, as Christians, fall short, slip, have a misstep or a momentary break in our concentration we have one who is there to pick us back. We have one who is willing and able to allow His righteousness to win the victory at Mt. Zion for us! We have a Savior who completed the courses of life and he completed them perfectly for us as Paul said in Romans 3:22-26: “…For there is no difference;  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    But at the same time this Savior expects us to train, to fight, to run and to encourage others as they compete on their way through the stages of life and that’s why God’s word encourages us to stay in the game, to keep on keeping on even when failure comes our way. Jesus has the won the victory for us. He has the met the standard on our behalf. But He will not make us get up and He will not make us finish if we do not want to. And in that I say let’s keep going, competing and running toward the rest that will be found on top of Mt. Zion by faith our faith in Jesus lest we know what it feels like to fall frustratingly short of it all!

    Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Hebrews 4:1-2 – NKJV)

  • Eugene Adkins 7:11 am on September 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: jesus, , wounded heart   

    Wounded Hearts 

    Every day an untold number of hearts are wounded around the world. Sometimes it happens two or three at a time. Sometimes it happens two or three thousand at a time. And yes, it even happens two or three million at a time!

    There is much danger in a wounded heart. It’s a wound that causes sobriety and stupor to collide head on with one another.

    Wounded hearts remind us of our frailty, our humanity and mortality. Generational wars can be fought because of one wounded heart, and one wounded heart can solve generational wars.

    Wounded hearts compel us to find an answer and solution; both of which depend upon the depth of the wound and the health of the heart that’s suffering.

    Even God’s people have never been immune to wounded hearts – we suffer alongside the worldly hearted.

    My heart hurts because so many hearts have been wounded on this day, yet I know that my hurt is nothing compared to theirs.

    So why bother with trying to be healed if it will only happen time and time again?

    Because there is a heart that was wounded by us all and yet that very heart still offers to heal our wounds that were not caused by him!

    But it was for our sins he was wounded, and for our evil doings he was crushed: he took the punishment by which we have peace, and by his wounds we are made well.” (Isaiah 53:3 – BBE)

  • TFRStaff 5:21 am on September 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, ,   

    Motivated Mercy 

    Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:13 *NKJV)

    Now I know that forgiving another is hard for us to do at times, but when we remember how very much God has forgiven us; it becomes much less difficult to do. After all, just thinking about God’s tremendous Love and Forgiveness can help us to forgive and love each other.

    So as God’s Children we should; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)

    Therefore; Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

    So, forgive those who offend you, and do not try to get even; For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (Hebrews 10:30)

    When we consider how much God has loved every man, and how much He has forgiven each of us, well, it takes my breath away. Would I love a roach enough to let my child die that that critter might live? I don’t think so. Yet, the difference and the space between God and man is far greater than that between man and a roach. But God loved us enough to let Jesus die for us. And that means that God loved every single person on the face of the earth that much. With that in mind, how can I possibly hate any other person, and not be willing to forgive them?

    Wishing you a beautiful day on God’s green Earth, and may; The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21)

    Doc Phillips

    Fredericksburg Church of Christ, TX


  • Eugene Adkins 6:51 am on August 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, , , Simon the Pharisee, , spiritual debt   

    A Thought on Mercy 

    Here’s a thought that I’m going to work in during my sermon based within the context of Luke 7:36-50 (Simon the Pharisee and the woman sinner).

    “If you owe someone 1,000$ and your neighbor owes 10,000$, and the note is due the next day, but you’re both out of work, who’s in trouble? – That’s why we’re all dependent upon the mercy of God through the Son of God who can pay off our notes through his blood.”

    Read Luke’s account of what happened that day in a Pharisee’s house and the point becomes clear.

    I thought you might be able to use it for a devotional thought or a sermon seed.

  • TFRStaff 6:29 am on August 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ad Hominem, , Eternal Punishment, , Goodness of God, , jesus, Nature of the body, Nature of the Soul, , , , , , , the Resurrection, ,   

    The Goodness of God and Eternal Punishment By Wayne Jackson 

    The late Bertrand Russell, a renowned British agnostic, wrote a small publication titled, Why I Am Not A Christian. One of the reasons he cited for his unbelief was that Jesus Christ taught that there is an eternal hell for the wicked.

    Russell could not harmonize Christ’s doctrine about hell with the biblical position of a just and benevolent God; hence, he rejected the teaching of Jesus and inclined toward the belief that there is no God. Russell, who lived a life of reckless abandon, echoed the sentiments of Cain: “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” On that basis, he became a determined opponent of true religion.

    The problem of reconciling eternal retribution with the goodness of God also has had a significant impact on the religious world. Many religions, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and the World Wide Church of God (Armstrongism), have rejected the doctrine of the eternal punishment of the wicked. Even the churches of Christ have had their advocates of this erroneous viewpoint (see Fudge, Smith).

    Ad Hominem Arguments

    An ad hominem argument (meaning, “to the man”) is the type of reasoning that focuses on an opponent’s inconsistency. Let us, at the outset of this discussion, utilize this form of argument in response to the “no hell” theory.

    First, a major premise of the “no eternal punishment” dogma is the notion that such is at variance with true justice. The argument might be framed like this. The Bible speaks of a just and good God; it also teaches the doctrine of eternal hell. These two positions are mutually exclusive. Therefore, the Scriptures are inconsistent and cannot be true.

    We insist, however, that those who thus argue are under obligation to defend their use of the terms “just” and “good.” By whose standard are these character traits to be measured? Critics of the Bible must not be allowed to become “theological dictionaries unto themselves.” Their reasoning is based solely upon their own ideas of how goodness and justice should be expressed.

    If it is true that the Scriptures teach that God has appointed eternal punishment for impenitently evil people, and if it likewise is correct that the Bible affirms the justice and goodness of Jehovah, then it must follow that eternal punishment is not inconsistent with the nature of God. It is at odds only with some men’s perception of goodness and justice.

    Second, no one (skeptic or otherwise) is ready to concede that evildoers are unworthy of any type of punishment. It is recognized that no society could survive in such an atmosphere. Should the rapist, the robber, and the murderer be told: “Admittedly, you have done wrong, but we (society) will not punish you for your crimes. This would be unjust”? Is there anyone who argues that there should be no consequences resulting from criminal conduct? Surely not! It is conceded, therefore, that punishment is not inconsistent with true justice.

    Third, let us take our reasoning a step further. Is it the case that genuine justice can be served even when an evil man’s punishment is extended beyond the time involved in the commission of his crime? Do we, for example, in our criminal justice system, ask the murderer, “Sir, how long did it take you to kill your wife?”—then assign his incarceration accordingly? Would justice be maintained by such an approach?

    Here, then, is the point. True justice, combined with genuine goodness, allows the possibility that a wrongdoer may be required to suffer a penalty that is considerably longer than the duration of his evil. The real issue, therefore, is not punishment per se, or even protracted punishment; rather, it is eternal punishment. The skeptic (or religious materialist) simply wants to tell God how long the penalty is to be! Remember, however, in a system of true justice, the offender is not allowed to set his own sentence.

    Eternal Punishment and a Just God

    Since no one has ever returned from the dead to discuss his or her personal experiences, this issue is not one that can be settled by human speculation; rather, it must be decided by divine revelation. When the relevant biblical data is assembled, it will be seen, even from man’s jaundiced viewpoint, that the fact of eternal punishment is not inconsistent with the character of a righteous God. Our case will be set forth in a series of interrelated propositions. (More …)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:14 am on August 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , jesus, , , , ,   

    To Him Who Thinks He Sits Take Heed Lest He Fall! 

    But when you come, go and take the lowest seat, so that when the giver of the feast comes, he may say to you, Friend, come up higher; and then you will have honour in the eyes of all the others who are there.” (Luke 14:10 – BBE)

    Taking a seat and being given a seat aren’t always the same thing. While they both can be a preference, only one can be done with presumptuousness while the other will only be done with prudence.

    It was never Jesus’ goal with his lessons to get a person to think less of themselves per say – his goal was to get people to think rightly of themselves. A failure to think rightly was, and still is, a driving force behind many our decisions that are made wrongly.

    While he is better known for saying, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 – NKJV), to this situation the apostle Paul may have said, “To him who thinks he sits take heed lest he falls.

    Jesus had no problems with people who wanted to RSVP in the kingdom of God, for that he required; the problem was with people who wanted to proclaim themselves a VIP in the kingdom of God by seating themselves at the table!

    Let us all learn the lesson that says pride may lift us up in the eyes of others, but it is the Lord who will sit us down at his table.

    And in the same way, let the younger men be ruled by the older ones. Let all of you put away pride and make yourselves ready to be servants: for God is a hater of pride, but he gives grace to those who make themselves low. For this cause make yourselves low under the strong hand of God, so that when the time comes you may be lifted up;” (1 Peter 5:5-6 – BBE)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:50 am on August 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Consumerism, jesus,   

    We are what we consume! 

    The American culture is unabashedly a culture of consumerism. From the geriatric to the goo-goo’s and gah-gah’s and everywhere in between there is a product out there that is a must have, and the product placement to remind us is everywhere! My little daughter even has a tiny little toy person with a cell-phone in their hand, and it didn’t take her long to put that little phone up to her ear and say “hello.” Funny, but not funny!

    The world says you’re only as cool, hip, and up-to-date as the latest version of whatever thing that you’ve bought. The emphasis there being on the very last word of that sentence! What people forget is that these companies are not that interested in whether or not something is actually that cool, but only that we think it’s cool enough to spend some cold hard cash, or even better, some flaming hot debt to buy their product with their line of credit! They repeatedly remind us that we are what we consume, and without realizing it we take the bait – hook, line and sinker.

    The Bible also reminds us that we are what we consume. We either try to become full of the bread that perishes (you know, the stuff that’s constantly going out of fashion), or we take a seat at the table that’s serving the Bread of Life. When Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:51) He put something on the menu that was meant to stay because He knew that we are what we consume, and what we consume will eventually consume us for the good or for the bad.

    The world is constantly offering change to keep our attention and the appetite of our carnal bellies full, but the word of God encourages us to keep our attention fixed upon the One who will not change nor send us away spiritually empty (Hebrews 13:8, John 6:53-58).

    I’m not saying that buying stuff is evil in-and-of-itself, but if Jesus warned the people of His day about consuming the wrong things then how much more would He warn a consumer based economy that has little to do with physical bread and even less to do with the spiritual?

    For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:18-20)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:38 am on August 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , False Judgments, Harvest, jesus, , , the changing power of Jesus,   

    An Unlikely Harvester 

    The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”…The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him.” (John 4:25-26, 28-30)

    After meeting the man who gave her a drink from the fountain of life, the thirsty woman forgets her waterpot and gets to work spreading the word about Jesus. And what was that word? It was, “Come meet a man who told me about everything I’ve done – I think I’ve found who we as a people have been looking for.” When she said she believed that the coming Christ would be able to tell all that needed to be told, she meant what she said and she was willing to tell others about it!

    This woman was ready for a change. She went from thirsty to quenched. She went from collecting water for others to collecting others for the water. And I don’t about you, but I bet that man she was living with (John 4:16-18) slept by himself that night.

    Jesus didn’t only know what the woman at the well had done in her life, he knew what she could do, he knew what she was capable of and he knew what she could be all at the same time! Because of this the disciples were going watch one of the most unlikely harvesters that they had ever seen start bringing in the sheaves to Jesus.

    We never know who might just bring more people to Jesus than we thought if we just focus on who they could be with Jesus instead of who they are without him!

    Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

    Related Article:

    • kenandjean92 11:48 am on August 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      We are taught that we are to hunger and thrust after righteousness. The woman at the well didn’t know that she was thirsty until she spoke to Jesus after which she was filled and wanted to spread the good word. We should all take a lesson away from her and be filled with His righteousness and eagerly spread the good news as the women at the well did.

  • Eugene Adkins 6:36 am on July 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Barrier of Religion, , , jesus, , Mount Gerizim, , , , The Christ of the Samaritans,   

    When Jesus Broke Down the Barrier of Religion in Samaria 

    Read John 4:19-26 and you’ll see Jesus knocking down one huge barrier in Samaria that still stands between many people and God today. And the craziest thing about the method that Jesus used was that he actually used God to do it!

    When the Samaritan woman at the well brings up the issue of religion Jesus gets her back to the point that a lot of people in religion miss by getting her back to the starting point instead of focusing solely on the end point. And why did he do that? Because the fastest way to tear down a wall is by starting at the bottom where it rests on the foundation; not by hitting all of the bricks that are sitting on top.

    Now were the Samaritans wrong in their religion and religious behavior? Yes! They accepted the Torah as God’s word, but they rejected the prophets. They worshipped God but they rejected the circumstances God required (i.e. they chose Mt. Gerizim and their own priests over Jerusalem and the Levites). They had a desire to be God’s people but they fought against the people of God. So yes, Jesus does correct the woman, but he doesn’t tackle these issues in-depth one at a time – instead he gets her away from Judea, away from Samaria and away from religion for a moment by getting her back to God.

    Jesus tells the woman what kind of person God is looking for. He knew what kind of person she was, she knew what kind of person she was, but Jesus brings her to God by telling her what kind of person she could be! He lets her know that the time had come when God would remove the religious barriers that separated people. There would be no more Samaritan, no more Jew, no more Mt. Gerizim and no more Jerusalem to use as barriers, but rather an acceptance of people by God who had a hunger for him. Not a hunger for religion, but a hunger for a relationship.

    And guess who gets brought up when the barriers get torn down? The Messiah! The same Messiah introduced by John the apostle in John 1:1,14, the same Messiah proclaimed by John the baptizer in John 1:29, the same Messiah who taught a top-notch Pharisee that a physical birth wasn’t going to be enough to be a member of God’s kingdom in John 3:3-5 and the same Messiah who would create a body of united believers by breaking down barriers through his broken body.

    It was the very Messiah who was revealing some raw truth to woman living in a religiously cooked world when he told her that he was the one that the thirsty people in Samaria were looking for! This Messiah was Jesus the Christ, the one who knew how to tear down a barrier that didn’t belong where it was.

    But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

    Related Article:

  • Michael Summers 11:31 am on July 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus, Mark 13, ,   

    Has Jesus Left Our Temple? 

    C.E.W. Dorris wrote these provocative words concerning Jesus’ departure from the temple in Mark 13:
    “Sad the day for us when Jesus leaves our temple, and his voice is no longer heard pleading in our souls.”
    His words evoke memory of Jesus standing at the door of the hearts of Laodicean Christians in Revelation 3. Do we sometimes ignore Jesus as we would an unwelcome guest? Do we mentally and spiritually pretend that we’re not home when our conscience senses his knocking?
    Jesus calls us to follow him. That call requires attention in all areas of life, in making decisions and in forgiving as he forgives as well as in preaching sound doctrine.
    Have we surrendered all? Is the voice of Jesus still pleading in our souls?

    • Lillian 9:01 pm on July 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I believe we sometimes ignore Jesus. I have at times, not proud to say it, but it is a fact. When something is being taught and you aren’t comfortable with it, but remain silent or do not take the time to look up the truth in the Bible. I consider that ignoring Jesus. Hopefully I am doing better on this issue. I question more and read more and discuss more with friends. The ultimate decision is mine with the Lord.

      • Michael Summers 11:59 pm on July 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        You have a great attitude, Lillian. I especially appreciate that you see the need to look up the truth in the Bible. I must admit that there have been times when I have taken the time to look up what the Bible had to say when I was uncomfortable with what was said or practiced, only to find that my expectation or previous belief was wrong. When the practice or teaching is wrong, we must address it firmly, yet with love. Jude verses 20-23 are helpful in this regard, as are the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 18.

  • TFRStaff 6:38 am on July 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , jesus, Royals   


    Everyday there are children born into this world. Those  births are very significant to the parents who anticipated the day and look  ahead to what that child might become. For some of those births there is more of  A STIR than others. Monday, July 22, 2013, there was a birth in England greatly  anticipated by both the media and by citizenry not only in England, but around  the world. There was wonder as to whether it would be a prince or a princess who  would be in the line of royalty. That wonder was even accompanied by bets being  wagered not only on the gender, but also the date of the birth, the name that  would be chosen, and many other things associated with this coming child.  Monday, the news was announced and greeted with cheers that a prince had been  born. Now THE STIR continues with guesses as to what this child will eventually  be named; a name I understand will have to be approved by the Queen.

    Many years before what I would say was the most  significant birth in the history of man, God revealed through His prophet  Isaiah. . .

    “(6) For TO US A CHILD IS BORN,  to us A SON IS GIVEN; and THE GOVERNMENT SHALL BE UPON HIS SHOULDER, and HIS NAME shall be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE  OF PEACE. (7) Of the INCREASE OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND OF PEACE there will be NO  END, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold  it with justice and with righteousness FROM THIS TIME FORTH AND FOREVERMORE. The  zeal of THE LORD OF HOSTS WILL DO THIS.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

    Of this birth, many lived in great anticipation. (i.e.  Simeon at the temple, Luke 2:25-36) There was A STIR among shepherds as they  were told of the birth (Luke 2:8-20) and among some wise men who traveled from  the east to seek Him out. (Matthew 2:1-12). There was also A STIR within  government circles as Herod became alarmed at the thought of the rising of A KING. (Matthew 2:2-3 & 16) There continues to be A STIR within the hearts of  all who have come to know Jesus and the salvation He came to provide. Today, His  reign continues and we are blessed citizens of His eternal kingdom.

    I in no way wish to minimize the beloved addition to the  family of Prince William and Duchess Kate. Perhaps we should keep them in prayer  for the challenges they might face raising a child in the often intrusive eyes  of the world. However, the birth of Jesus — God becoming flesh to live among us  (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-2 & 14) — remains a significant acknowledgment for  the world today, having implications for the present life and for the eternity  to come. Praise God for the Holy Monarchy under which we are presently blessed  to live. Because of Jesus, eternal hope can remain STIRRED UP in our heart. May  we continue to share the Good News so that the hearts of others may BE STIRRED.


    “teEn-MAIL” is sent out daily by Carl Hanson, preacher for the Church of Christ in Port Townsend, Washington, USA, located at 230 A Street, Port  Townsend, WA 98368.   http://www.porttownsendchurchofchrist.org

    Some previous “teEn-MAIL” focuses may be viewed at http://www.teenmailbiblestudy.org

  • Eugene Adkins 6:34 am on July 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus, , , ,   

    Guest Article: An Astonishing Sermon by Dan Gulley 

    Here’s a great article by a loved brother in Christ that sums up the Sermon on the Mount in a strong way:

    George F. Burns verbalized what many people think about sermons. He said, “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, and to have the two as close together as possible.” That reminds me of the young preacher who moved to his first located work. In a planning session, the beginner asked the elders what they suggested he preach about. One of them spoke up and said, “About Heaven, and fifteen minutes.” In this electronic age of thirty-second attention spans one of the greatest sins a preacher can commit is to preach “too long.” And no doubt some preachers (yours truly included!) occasionally continue to pump after the well is dry! However preachers or people in the pews feel about sermons, Jesus Christ proved two thousand years ago sermons need not be overly-long to be effective. Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 contain what the world has long known as the “Sermon on the Mount,” a title taken, no doubt, from the fact that Jesus “went up on a mountain” near Capernaum in Galilee and preached it (5:1-3). The three chapters are divided into 111 verses (New King James Version) and the entire sermon can be read in less than fifteen minutes. The subjects addressed in it include some of the Lord’s most familiar teachings:

    • the “beatitudes” (5:3-12)
    • a terse and sobering statement about divorce and remarriage (5:31-32)
    • salt and light of the world metaphors (5:14-16)
    • show-time religion (6:lff)
    • the “Lord’s prayer” (6:9-13)
    • laying up treasure in heaven and not on earth (6:19-21)
    • make God your master and not mammon or money (6:24)
    • do not worry about food and drink and clothing to the point those and other physical things become the consuming priority in life, but “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and trust God to give us the things we need (6:25-33)
    • the speck and plank in the eye illustration about hypercritical judging (7:1-5)
    • the few who enter the narrow gate and difficult way that leads to life versus the many who travel by the wide gate and broad way that leads to destruction (7:13-14)
    • warning about false prophets in sheep’s clothing (7:15)
    • and ending up with the warning that calling Jesus “Lord, Lord” won’t gain God’s approval unless there is a corresponding obedience to the will of the Father in heaven (7:21-23)
    • and, of course, the famous illustration of the “wise man who built his house on the rock” by hearing and doing the teachings of Jesus versus the foolish man who “built his house on the sand” because, although he heard Jesus’ teaching, did not do them (7:24-28).

    Sermons are sometimes met with a yawn in our secular, digital, over-stimulated age. But Matthew tells us, “when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished (amazed, mystified) at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (7:28-29). Sermons rarely “astonish” and amaze people these days. Do sermons ever ‘astonish” you — not because of the power and personality of the preacher, but because the soul-searching and conscience capturing words and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ get inside your heart and mind and cause a stir? When Jesus and His apostles preached, the sermon always left people mad, sad, or glad — but it never left them the same. The most astonishing thing about Jesus’ sayings these days is how rarely they astonish those who hear them. – Dan Gulley

    Dan Gulley serves as an elder and preacher for the Smithville Church of Christ

  • Eugene Adkins 6:24 am on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , jesus, , , , Sermon Snippet from John 3   

    Sermon Snippet from John 3:22-36 

    I preached a sermon yesterday from John 3:22-36 called, “Relationships, Relationships.”

    One of the relationships that I focused on was the one that John the groomsman and Jesus the bridegroom had.

    John may be better known as a powerful preacher than a humble one. After all, he’d tell people to turn the cat around if they told him he was rubbing the fur the wrong way. But in reality he was as humble as any other preacher we can find in God’s word when it came to his work.

    John understood the necessity of humility in God’s people. He knew that the Lord rewards humility (Psalm 149:4), and humility was something that he wanted his own disciples to pick up on from the beginning when it came to his relationship with Jesus. It was John who mouthed the familiar words which say, “…He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” (John 1:27)

    John preached with the power of Elijah but he gave way to the increase of Jesus’ work and popularity with the meekness and humility of Moses. That’s only one reason why Jesus said, “…among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist….” (Matthew 11:11)

    John modeled humility across multiple spectrums in a way that’s worth striving to impersonate when he said, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

    When is the last time that we could honestly say in our relationship with Jesus that we have decreased so He could increase? How long has it really been? It’s something worth asking and answering if we, like John, desire a proper relationship with Jesus.

  • Eugene Adkins 12:17 pm on July 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, , , serving others,   

    Guest Article: The Grieving Consoler by Joshua Gulley 

    Here’s an excellent article written by a good brother in Christ about overcoming setbacks and grief through serving others:

    The Grieving Consoler by Joshua Gulley

     I don’t know what kind of relationship Jesus shared with John the Baptizer. Did their separate callings take them in different paths in which they rarely got to see each other? Did they often visit one another while growing up? I do know that once they began their ministry, they each recognized the other’s role in the will of God, prophesied in the Scriptures. The Bible records compliments paid by each to the other when speaking to large crowds. When John sent messengers to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, Jesus replied in a beautifully poetic fashion: “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not made to stumble because of Me” (Matthew 11:5-6).

    So they perhaps had some personal affection for one another. The Bible doesn’t say directly, but in Matthew 14 when Jesus heard that John had been beheaded, He “withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” We can surmise that Jesus must have been seeking solitude in order to grieve the loss of His friend. Nowadays when a man’s relative dies, we gather to him in crowds to comfort and console him. But in this instance, it was Jesus who we would suppose needed consolation, yet the Scripture says He was the one who felt compassion for the crowd. Perhaps His retreat on the sea, thinking about John’s untimely death, His own death coming a relatively short time in the future, and the temporary nature of man’s time on earth made Him more sensitive to the present needs of His fellow-man. Whatever the case, here we see the ultimate fulfillment of the command to “look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

    And herein might we learn a lesson: perhaps there are some people who seem to retreat from society after loved ones die, becoming bitter and aloof, dwelling on their own sorrow and tribulation. The Master, however, did not do this. Rather, His grief seemed to create more room in His heart for the people who were still there. Lord, help us that grief in our own lives will cause us to count even more precious the ones remaining.

    Josh teaches music at the High School level and he is a member of the Smithville Church of Christ

  • Michael Summers 8:50 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , jesus, , , , ,   

    Job’s Friends, Labeling, and Us 

    We label items to help us account for them and use them efficiently. Both leaders and office workers use carefully named folders (computer and traditional) to organize their material. Labels help to find and also help us to understand. The packaging for food and other commercial items will inform us what is inside, whether it has been inspected, what risks it poses to us (proper use, calories, fat grams, etc.), and how to dispose of it after use. Labels sometimes confuse or misdirect. Signs on dumpsters that state, “This is not a dumpster,” clearly misinform. A dumpster (a large container for item disposal) is a specifically designed piece of equipment. The sign-maker perhaps should have written, “This dumpster is for recycling only. Do not place trash in it.”
    We also label people. Soldiers wear uniforms that often have their names and ranks affixed. Soldiers who have trained in special skills may wear badges that identify those skills. Workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries wear uniforms that identify their employer, their name, and their place within the organization. Prisoners today often wear brightly colored uniforms that identify them as such. We may also describe people according their height, weight, skin pigmentation, religious preference, and a variety of other variables. During Jesus’ ministry, a disciple tried to label someone by asking, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born…? We sometimes label people verbally with derogatory descriptions.
    Friends of the biblical character Job also labeled him. They said, “Wicked man (Job 15:20),” “blustering wind (8:2),”deceitful (11:11).” We ourselves find it easy to criticize those friends even when, if we reflected, we might have done the same as they. Job rebuked them for their labeling of him. To reinforce the righteousness of such rebuke, God himself berated the frustrated advisors of Job. We spot some of their mistakes easily. They misjudged Job’s character, despite having known him for years. Job reminded them in the twenty-ninth chapter of Job how his words had commanded the respect of community leaders. Job had rescued the poor and championed the cause of strangers. He had clothed himself in righteousness and justice. Job’s friends no longer remembered those days. The Job they saw before them deserved rebuke, or so they thought. His loss of family, his financial devastation and physical suffering compelled them to conclude that Job must have sinned greatly to warrant such severe punishment from God.
    Job’s friends struggled because their worldview did not allow for a series of catastrophes devastating a righteous person. We too struggle today when we encounter new situations or meet people who challenge the categories we use to label people, events, and religious doctrines. Job’s friends, despite their faults, actually did a few things right. Before they castigated him, they wept with him, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads to show their grief over his situation. They sat silently with him for several days. They failed, however, to listen; they failed to consider that the origins of Job’s suffering might be more complex than they imagined. They spoke from ignorance.
    Some labels accurately define what they describe. Poison warnings on bottles save lives. Jesus sometimes labeled people, calling some religious leaders “hypocrites” and a devoted disciple who didn’t quite understand his master’s mission “Satan.”
    Labels can destroy lives. People sometimes harm themselves after being labeled wrongly by people who did not know them, or envied them, or just had wrong information. Labels can destroy ministry. Judaizing teachers labeled Paul. I observed on on-line discussion in which a preacher asked if a church fit a one-word (label) description. An intriguing aspect of the ensuing discussion was that subsequent contributors had different definitions for the label or even admitted their confusion as to what the questioner meant by the term. Ignorance makes labels dangerous. We may not know what another believes.
    Job’s friends started well. They grieved with him. They sat silently with him. Still they did not truly understand Job. If only they had listened. Will we?

  • Michael Summers 11:55 am on July 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , jesus, , ,   

    Long May Our Land Be Bright With Freedom’s Holy Light 

    An American patriotic hymn’s final verse is a prayer:
    “Our father’s God, to Thee,
    Author of liberty,
    To Thee we sing;
    Long may our land be bright
    With freedom’s holy light;
    Protect us by Thy might,
    Great God, our King.”

    When we sing this prayer, written in 1832 by Samuel Smith, we remember passages that talk about Christ’s concern for freedom. When Jesus preached in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, he read a passage from Isaiah 61:1-2:
    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19). He chastised religious leaders who attempted to go beyond the word of God in binding additional requirements on God’s people. He modeled how freedom works best when exercised with discipline and respect for others. Jesus could converse with people whom others disdained because of their lifestyle because he could see their potential for being God’s people. He could forgive people who tried to hurt him and even people who had committed adultery, but express anguish over others who tried to deny help to suffering individuals because of religious laws. Jesus understood, as they did not, that submission means giving up my desires and wants to serve another, not making another into a clone of myself. Freedom does not mean doing whatever one wants. The same biblical chapter that begins, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” also warns that those who engage in the acts of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God, and concludes, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another” (Galatians 5:1, 19-21, 26). Freedom is messy. Sometimes I am bothered by something I observe in a congregation, but when I search the Scriptures, pray, and perhaps check out the history there, I realize they are merely exercising their freedom in Christ. That sometimes is hard for me to admit, because I thought initially that they were wrong and needed to be corrected. On the other hand, some times what people do or tolerate is wrong and should be corrected (Note Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, whom the apostle corrected on several issues. Christ’s letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3) also emphasize that there are limits to individual and congregational freedom in Christ. What helps me is to imitate what Barnabas did at Antioch and look for the grace of God at work (Acts 11). Freedom, whether in our nation or in the church, may make us uncomfortable, but so long as it is in harmony with the word of God, we rejoice because we too are free in Christ.
    We celebrate the beginnings of our nation’s independence and its continuing quest for freedom for its citizens. We moan because someone else’s freedom conflicts with our own. We worry when our freedoms (both as citizens and Christians) seem to be threatened. Let’s keep singing and praying that God will protect us and our nations (for those who live elsewhere), that he will use us to bring liberating light into the lives of our neighbors and our enemies, that we will grow in love and in disciplined use of the freedoms God has given us.

  • Eugene Adkins 6:33 am on June 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus, , Skin in the Game, , Vested Interest   

    “Skin in the Game” 

    The phrase “skin in the game” is a reference concerning a personal interest that one has in something of great consequence. Often times the phrase is made in connection to a financial investment made with one’s own resources. Consider that description and it becomes easier to imagine how the phrase could be used to describe other situations of personal interest.

    When it comes to the salvation of our soul, Jesus put his “skin in the game” both metaphorically and literally! He humbled himself by leaving the glories of Heaven, exchanging them for a life contained inside the skin and bones of the human body (John 1:14, Philippians 2:5-7). He made his body available to receive the pain-filled smacks, punches, whips, thorns and nails that ultimately lead to him experiencing a physical death so he could be our atoning sacrifice and compassionate high priest (Philippians 2:8-11, Hebrews 2:6-18, 10:1-10).

    Jesus’ critics can accuse him of a lot of things, but they can never accuse him of not having any “skin in the game” for without his “skin” the “game” would be over for them and us!

    Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

    Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:12-15)

  • Eugene Adkins 8:48 am on May 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alpha and Omega, , Fraternities, , , , jesus, Sororities   

    The Most Important Greek Letters 

    Icon for Greek Alphabet. Used in Vorlage:Griec...

    As many young Christians leave the High School arena and prepare to enter into the college realm they are going to be encouraged to give some thought into joining a fraternity house or a sorority club who proudly identify themselves with the various letters of the Greek alphabet. So what should you do as a young Christian in the face of the promising temptations that they offer? The answer is simple. Remember that the most important letters of the Greek alphabet are the Alpha and the Omega, and if their plans, ethics and morality don’t fit in between those two then you need to remind yourself that the house of the Lord will take you farther than any other house on campus.

    I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:24 am on May 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , jesus, , ,   

    Don’t Live on the Spiriutal “What If” Street 

    For the past 8 months or so I’ve been working with maps as my daytime “profession.” The other day I saw an “interesting” street named “What If” and thought there are a lot more people living on that street than there are houses!

    Of all the “What If” streets we can live on, the spiritual one can be the roughest, yet we know it can be avoided to an extent. May I add that I believe there’s a difference between wondering “What if I had done this a little better?” and “What if I had done anything at all?”

    Paul encouraged people to follow him as he followed Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1), he wished that all others were as he was with the exception of his chains (Acts 26:29), and at the end of his life he was content with his decisions, labor and destination (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Sounds to me like “What If Street” wasn’t on his spiritual map!

    Did Paul have regrets? Sure he did! But his advice for that topic was move off of “What If Street” and move over to “Press Ahead Avenue” (Philippians 3:13-14).

    Life can be hard, and there will be times when we’re going to make the wrong choices; but we can choose the right Savior. We can choose the Savior who will help us move off of that spiritual “What If Street” and right into a home located on “Heavenly Homes Boulevard” that He has built just for us.

    Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4 – NKJV)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:39 am on May 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Conversion to Christianity, , , jesus, ,   

    Where’s the Peace? 

    I was a young, young child when it aired but even I know the restaurant commercial that’s had such a lasting effect with the lady asking, “Where’s the beef?”

    The emphasis, or point, was about how the talk didn’t match the walk, and now the punch line is used to make the same point on various topics. This morning I’d like to take the word “beef” and replace it with the word “peace” when it comes to the topic of Islam.

    There’s a story out there (which isn’t getting a whole lot of press attention due to something about the IRS, Benghazi and something else about the AP and wiretaps, but you can read the story here if you’d like) about two men who may be asking, “Where’s the peace?” One man has been sentenced to receive 300 lashes with a whip and a 6 year prison term, and the other man has been sentenced to 200 lashes and a 2 year prison term. And for what? For helping a woman “convert to Christianity” and escaping the country to find asylum in another nation. With a reaction like that, I “wonder” why she had to seek asylum somewhere??? Hmmm.

    I do not completely agree with the doctrinal stance of the two men or with the stated theological experience given by the woman as a part her conversion, but placing that to the side for a moment I can’t help but ask, “Where’s the peace?” I guess it all depends upon one’s definition of peace.

    When one leaves “Christianity” it’s tears that get shed by others (Philippians 3:18), not blood!

    So where’s the peace? The peace is found in Jesus and in no other.

    May peace be with you; my peace I give to you: I give it not as the world gives….” (John 14:27 – BBE)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:36 am on May 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , jesus, , ,   

    Tools of the Trade 

    Crown of Thorns

    Crown of Thorns (Doug1021)

    A scourge, striking rods, a crown of thorns, a hammer, some nails and a couple of pieces of rough and scarred wood! What did these things build? Our salvation!

    What a stumbling block. What a moment of confusion. What a time of rejection. What a time of reconciliation.

    To the world then, and to the world today, a crucified savior is a crux, a contradictory statement and a conclusion that just doesn’t add up. It’s good that Nazareth’s carpenter didn’t use the world’s math while building what had been drawn up.

    A few days afterward, an empty tomb would put the pins in the door that had been hung at Calvary and all those who were willing to place their faith in Jesus as the Son of God would have access to the kingdom of God through the very tools of the trade that had tried to destroy it.

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God…But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24, 30)

    • J. Randal Matheny 6:39 am on May 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Pins in the door. The finished product.

      • Eugene Adkins 6:47 pm on May 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:8)

        Finished indeed!

  • jdh2010 8:52 am on May 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: deify, jesus,   

    Beware Elevating Men 

    My brethren, we must be careful to avoid elevating men to too high a status.

    Men are mortal and commit sins. If the Old Testament teaches anything, it teaches the hazard of putting men on a pedestal and glorifying them.

    An example of this is Solomon. When he was young, Solomon started life as a good person. But when he became king, he changed. He married a daughter of Pharaoh, strictly forbidden under the Mosaic law, and murdered two men, one of which had been initially pardoned by his father. After Solomon’s life was over, his nation divided and both parts were finally deported.

    Yet, to this day there are people who glorify Solomon for building a temple, something God specifically told NO ONE to do (2 Samuel 7:7).

    If we would glorify anyone who has lived on the earth, let us glorify Jesus Christ. The Lord Christ is the only person who ever lived on the planet who obeyed the whole Mosaic Law. The Lord Christ is the only person who ever lived on the planet that is worthy of praise!

    Humanism has used the educational system in the U.S. to teach people to deify people. In every school in every county of every state there are pictures of presidents and other people children are taught to revere. If the truth was taught along with the fables of these men, then children would know they are HUMANS, not gods.

    We must be the influence that teaches people to worship GOD.

  • jdh2010 3:45 pm on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: jesus, rememeber   


    My wife has decided to go into a new business. She’s going to start making memory enhancers. You know what a memory enhancer is, don’t you? It’s a piece of string tied on a finger designed to call to mind something forgotten.

     Everyone needs reminders about important things.  The apostle Paul told the young preacher Titus to remind people of a few things. In Titus 3:1-2, Paul wrote, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”

     We are to be subordinate to the powers that be, according to one translation. Christians submit. That’s what we do. Jesus’ life was an example of submission to the will of God the Father. The Lord Jesus went to the cross willingly for our sins. Yes, he prayed that “this cup may pass from me” in Gethsemane, but he submitted to his Father’s will and died for us. Aren’t we glad Jesus did? Where would we be had he not bled and died to save us from sin?

    Paul wrote that Titus should remind people to be ready for every good work. To be ready means to be prepared. It does not mean that good works should be avoided. People will know us as Christians by what we do and what we don’t do (Matthew 5:16). They will either see the light from us in our good works, or they will see no light at all. We need to be reminded how important it is for us to be about our Father’s business as our Lord Jesus was.

     There is also a reminder in Paul’s letter “to speak evil of no one.” This is far from the fashion currently. People these days have so little patience with others. Many people forget we’re all human and we commit sin. Instead of condemning others by using our tongues as a viper uses its fangs, let’s remember we’re all human.The apostle wrote in Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous; no, not one.”

    Yes, there are important things for which we need reminders. Let us remember the Christian characteristics of submission, ready for every good work and to speak evil of no one. In doing these things, we’ll become more like Jesus, which is our main goal in life.

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