What Are We Selling?

Posted by Stacy Lewis on July 22, 2014 @ 9:57 PM

Post by: Craig Waddell, elder at the church that meets at Center, KY

The Center congregation of the Lord’s church is currently planning to operate a booth at each of our two local harvest celebrations, the Seven Springs Sorghum Festival and the Metcalfe County Pumpkin Festival. When we signed up for both festivities, we were asked, “What will you be selling?” Each representative naturally assumed that the church will be using the booths for fundraising since most of the other individuals, organizations, companies, and clubs will be doing so. We explained that we do not plan to sell anything, but that everything visitors will receive from us will be totally free of charge, and we will simply be trying to give the people of the community a chance to meet the members of the church and the members of the church a chance to build relationships with the people of the community. Although we won’t be selling anything, the question has made me wonder, metaphorically speaking, on an every day basis, as we try to convince others of their need to accept the saving grace of God, what do christians think they are “selling”?

In our first planning meeting for these festivals, several things were suggested as props for the booth itself and as give-away drawing cards: a banner with the church name, refrigerator magnets with worship service times and contact information, literature and Bible correspondence courses, shopping bags imprinted with the church name and information, bottles of water, matching tee shirts, a group picture of the whole congregation, etc. At first glance, the majority of these suggestions seem to indicate that we believe that we are advertising and “selling” the church, and in particular our congregation. If that is the case, then we are failing at our attempt to carry out the great commission, which states that we are to make disciples of Jesus by preaching the gospel and baptizing those who believe that gospel. (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16) However, a closer examination of the Bible’s teachings concerning the relationship of the church and Jesus Christ prove that to promote the church is to promote Christ, and to offer Jesus’ saving blood to someone is to offer that person a membership into His church.

Jesus and the church which He bought with His blood (Acts 20:28) are inseparable. Every person who is saved by the blood of Christ is added to the church. (Acts 2:47) Why? Because Jesus is both the Savior and Head of the body, the church (Eph. 5:22-33) Whatever one does to the church, one does to Christ; if one persecutes the church, he persecutes Christ (Acts 8:1-4; 9:1-5); if one tries to divide the church, he tries to divide Christ (1 Cor. 1:10-13); if one preaches Christ, he preaches the things concerning the church (Acts 8:5-12; Mt. 16:13-19). One cannot preach Jesus without preaching His church, and one cannot uphold the church without upholding Jesus.

A christian’s life is to be devoted to convincing other people of their need for the saving grace of God. In some cases, one may be able to accomplish this task without building a relationship with the hearers; they may respond when a stranger lifts up Jesus before their truth-seeking eyes. In other cases, those needing salvation may need to witness the positive, life-altering changes a relationship with Jesus has produced in someone else, they may need to be taught about the church which they will be added to and the work in which Jesus will expect them to be engaged, and they may need to develop a relationship with those whom they will continually fellowship should they decide to answer the call of the cross. In either case, Christians are not “selling” anything, but they are giving away the greatest gift man has ever known – God’s amazing grace. When we offer salvation through Jesus, we offer a free membership into his body; to teach how to enter the church is to teach how to accept salvation. It is impossible to enter the blood without entering the blood-bought body.

GOD, HOW DO I RECEIVE MY BLOOD BOUGHT GIFT?

Posted by Stacy Lewis on June 21, 2014 @ 11:13 AM

Post written by Craig Waddell, elder at the church that meets in Center, KY

Salvation is a gift (Rom. 6:23). Grace is the attribute of God which purchased that gift and offers it to the world (Eph.1:6-7). Like any gift, salvation must be accepted by the recipient (2 Cor. 6:1; 2 Thess. 2:10; Acts 2:41; James 1:21; Col. 2:6). Acceptation requires action on the part of the recipient, be it external or internal action. An action is a deed. A deed is a work, regardless of our being able to see it accomplished or not. Therefore, acceptation of salvation requires works of obedience on the part of the recipient (Heb. 5:9; Mt. 7:21-23; James 2:14-26; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). This work may be internal and invisible, external and visible, or both. Many people do not realize this; they believe a decision or invisible action which a person totally performs inside himself to be something other than a work. Many also consider every visible action a person performs to be the work which Paul negates in Ephesians 2:8-9. Grace offers the gift of salvation and it is accepted through faith. Faith is a work, an action, which a person performs inside himself. (John 6:26-29); please note the commands to actively engage in the act of believing. (Acts 16:30-31; Rom. 10:9). Faith brings forth more actions (works) such as diligently seeking God (Heb. 11:6), crucifying our old man of sin (Gal. 2:20), committing our lives to him (2 Tim 1:12), calling on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:13), etc.; some of these can be seen or heard, while others can’t. Repentance is a work which occurs inside the recipient; please note the commands to engage in the act of repenting (Acts2:38; 3:19). Repentance produces external actions which others can see (Mt. 3:8). Confession is an external work which is motivated by the recipient’s faith and repentance (Rom. 10:9-10; Mt. 10:32-33). One must work his mouth to confess the Lord Jesus with his mouth; he may stand perfectly still, but his mouth must move by his on volition in order for him to confess unto salvation. Since all three of these prerequisites for salvation are active imperatives and each must be present in a person’s life in order for him to receive the gift, then there are indeed actions a person must perform before he can confidently say, “I have been saved by the blood of Jesus.”

Very few people teach true “faith only” salvation. Any time a person uses the word “and” in conjunction with “believe” when he is explaining the plan of salvation, he becomes a “faith and works” proponent; he is saying that a person’s faith must cause him to do something in order for him to receive the gift of salvation. A person who proclaims, “Believe and call upon the name of the Lord,” is saying, “Have faith and perform the work of calling on the name of the Lord.” Many will say, “This is done inside oneself where no one else can see it. It is done in prayer and therefore is not a work.” Calling on the name of the Lord in any way, whether internally or externally, whether visibly or invisibly, is an action and thus a work done by man through his own volition. Prayer is a work; whether offered silently in one’s heart or vocally in the hearing of others, whether a “sinner’s prayer” or a “believer’s prayer”, whether offered on one’s own behalf or on behalf of another, praying is action and therefore a work. Any time we encourage someone to call on the name of the Lord or to ask Jesus into his heart, we are admitting that man must do something in order to accept the grace offered gift of salvation.

Most disagreements concern the “something” connected to “believe” that man must do in order to receive salvation. Many argue that “calling on the name of the Lord” sounds like prayer. Prayer can be done individually, silently, personally, and invisibly, therefore, to these people, it should not be classified a work. They then reason that the Bible must mean that calling on the name of the Lord is praying. The question that we need to ask is, “What does the Bible say one must do in order to call on the name of the Lord?” The Bible clearly provides an answer to this question. Acts 22:16, “And now why tarriest thou, arise and be baptized, calling on the name of the Lord.” For many, this can’t be right because baptism is an external, visible action, and thus it must be one of the works Paul nullifies in Ephesians 2. Remember, an action is an action whether invisible or visible; a work is a work whether external or internal. When faced with a choice, a person may judge one act to be less of a work than another act, because he can’t see it done or it doesn’t take as much energy to do it, but that does not make his judgment correct. A person may choose one act over another because it fits his theology better, but that does not make it the right choice. Only the One who bought the gift can choose the conditions of its acceptation, and God has chosen baptism as the way one calls on the name of his Son.

The belief that one accepts the gift of salvation through prayer without one being baptized creates many problems. In that situation, a person would be saved without having his sins remitted or washed away (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). He would be saved without having crucified the old man of sin and becoming a new man (Rom. 6:3-6). He would be saved outside of Christ (Gal.3:26-27). He would be saved without having put on Christ (Gal.3:26-27). He would be saved outside the church, the group of people of which Christ is the savior (Eph. 5:23-27). He would be saved without having submitted to an ordinance which the Bible plainly claims saves us (1 Peter 3:21).

We are saved by grace through faith, only when through our faith we actively seek to accept the grace-offered gift by calling on the name of the Lord in baptism.

The Great Physician

Posted by Stacy Lewis on June 15, 2014 @ 4:39 PM

Post written by: Craig Waddell, elder at Center church of Christ

Many times, the virus or bacteria that is causing the debilitating or lethal infection/disease today entered the body months, even years ago. The "bug" lay dormant and undetected during that time. Once the germ activated and began multiplying, the body demonstrated symptoms - a momentary sharp pain, an unusual smell, atypical weight loss and weakness, etc. - but the person refused to acknowledge the significance of the symptoms, reasoning, "I'm too young. I'm living too active and healthy of a lifestyle. I have no family history. I don't have time for this. It wouldn't happen to me. Etc." Maybe the patient even mentioned the symptoms in passing to a physician, and, for whatever reason, the doctor's response seemed to indicate there was no need for concern. Then today, everything seemed to hit at once and humanity's physical weakness and mortality became evident.

The same type of spiritual scenario plays out on a daily basis. In fact, most who experience a debilitating or even lethal spiritual reaction today, contracted the germ long ago; the seed of doubt or disbelief was planted in their hearts years before they first began to notice its possible existence. As it began to grow within their hearts, most of these people experienced symptoms, but they either refused to acknowledge the signs and discomfort or they didn't realize the seriousness of the situation. Maybe they mentioned some of their questions to trusted religious mentors, but the mentors' responses seemed to indicate there was no need for concern. Then for each of them, one day, everything seemed to hit at once, and each became aware of his/her weakness of faith and the good possibility that his/her faith may have died. We may not be able to avoid contacting and contracting the germs which cause spiritual doubt and disbelief, but may we never ignore or deny the symptoms these viruses cause, and may we always seek the caring advice of the Great Physician.

DID JESUS EVER CONDEMN A PERSON FOR BEING A HOMOSEXUAL?

Posted by Stacy Lewis on May 22, 2014 @ 9:09 AM

Written by: Craig Waddell, elder at Center Church of Christ

“Jesus never condemned a person for being a homosexual.” This and similar quotations cross FaceBook news feeds on a semi-regular basis, especially during an election year. The context implies that while incarnate upon this earth, Jesus encountered one or more people practicing homosexuality and either chose not to confront them about their sexual preference or chose not to condemn them to either physical or spiritual death. Is this a valid statement? I don’t know, but neither does the author. The Bible is the only legitimate record of the years which Jesus lived upon this earth in human form; the four Gospels contain the majority of that history. The writers of the Gospels did not claim that their historical records were an unabridged narration of every event, encounter, and oration of Jesus during His ministry. In fact, John clearly states that he could not record everything Jesus did or said because the volume would be too massive. (John 20:30-31, 21:25) Any one arguing either for or against the beginning statement with its implications would be arguing from the silence of the scriptures and out of ignorance. A better way of addressing the matter is asking, “Did Jesus ever teach anything that related to the sexuality of mankind, and how should His teaching influence a person’s choice concerning practicing homosexuality?” The Bible is clear on the answer to this question.

On one occasion, the Pharisees tried to ensnare Jesus by asking Him about Moses’ doctrine concerning divorce. (Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12) Jesus had already dealt with this issue in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:27-32), but He knew that the people needed to know the reason why He taught that it was sinful to end a marriage through divorce, or to put away one spouse and then remarry a different one. (Please note that one, and only one, scriptural reason is given for divorce and remarriage - fornication, or in our language today, one spouse cheating or having an affair.) Jesus based His answer upon the very writings from which the Pharisees were crafting their distorted question, but He went back further, all the way to the beginning of time; there are some foundational principles established at creation that have never changed and will never change no matter how long the earth exists or how “enlightened” man becomes, and the God-ordained context in which sexual intimacy is intended to be experienced is one of those basic principles.

Jesus, in teaching God’s and His intent concerning sexual intimacy said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man (male) leave father (male) and mother (female) and shall cleave to his wife (female): and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-6, parenthetics and bold-typed emphasis mine CW) When God created the earth, Jesus was the agent by which everything was created. (John1:1-5,14; Hebrews 1:1-3) We were made for Jesus (Colossians 1:15-17), not as a toy to be played with, but as an heirloom to be valued and cherished. In the above passage, Jesus teaches that He by the Father’s command gave us the bodies they both wanted us to have, male and female, so that a male and female could be joined together in a God-tied union which man was not to untie, the two were to become one flesh (enjoy sexual intimacy), and in so doing produce another generation of males and females who could do the same. Any kind of sexual experience outside of this God-ordained marital context is classified as fornication, this includes, but is not limited to promiscuity, homosexuality, pedophilia, and prostitution. In fornication, “the limits which are willed by God (in this case in the realm of sexual ethics) are obliterated.” (The New International Dictionary of Theology; Colin Brown, Ed.;Vol.1, page 497) Thus, by this statement, Jesus told all mankind God’s expectations concerning sex and marriage; these expectations have existed from the very beginning and will endure until the end of time.

Jesus also said that anyone who received those whom He would send forth, received Him. (John 13:20) Jesus sent the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles to “open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18) Therefore, to receive the teachings of the Apostle Paul is to receive the teachings of Jesus. Paul, himself, claimed this fact. (1 Corinthians 14:37)

Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome, used the majority of his ink trying to convince both Jew and Gentile that the need for Christ’s salvation is universal. Before one can understand the need for salvation, he must be convinced and convicted of his sinfulness. The first chapter of the book of Romans was designed to convict the Gentiles. Paul described the condition of the Gentiles as holding the truth in unrighteousness and thus deserving the wrath of God. He said that they were vain, their foolish heart was darkened, and they professed themselves to be wise, but had become fools. They had changed the truth of God into a lie and had worshiped the created more than the creator. Due to these sinful desires and attitudes, God gave them up to their own “unclean lusts” and “vile affections” as they “dishonored their own bodies between themselves.” Out of all the rebellious and destructive acts that are in this world, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul chose to illustrate this “reprobate” way of life with the following words: “even the women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly.” (Romans 1:18-32) In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul listed several activities which unrighteous people engage in. He stated that these acts will keep the participants from inheriting the Kingdom of God. The practice of homosexuality is specifically named as one of those sinful activities. According to Paul, some of the Corinthians had been involved in this type of lifestyle, but they were no longer practicing it since they had been washed, sanctified, and justified. Could the Corinthians, or any of the other christians continue to participate in these sins and still be saved?

Paul would say in Romans 6:12, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” In Colossians 3:5-7, Paul would tell the brethren that they were to consider their bodies dead to such practices as fornication, lusts, impurity, and evil desires; they had once given into these sinful practices, but now must rid themselves of them. In the vision which John saw while on the Isle of Patmos, God said, “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8) John would say later that anyone who does the commands of Jesus will have a right to the tree of life, and may enter into the city (the new Jerusalem), but those who practiced the sins listed above would remain outside that city. (Revelation 22:14,15) .

While He was incarnate here on this earth, did Jesus ever condemn anyone for practicing homosexuality? We do not know either way because the Bible doesn’t tell us. Did Jesus and those whom he sent teach specific doctrinal principles concerning sexual intimacy and the God-ordained context in which it is intended to be experienced? Absolutely. Will the world accept those doctrinal principles as a law to govern their lives? The majority probably won’t. Will there be adverse consequences for this rejection? Absolutely. How do we know? The Bible tells us so.

Let's Start a Revolution - #FFF

Posted by Stacy Lewis on May 01, 2014 @ 3:55 PM

Post written by: Jeremy Prichard

If you're reading this blog then you're probably aware of the weekly social media ritual known as #TBT.  That is, Throw Back Thursday.  If not, it's a weekly devotion of some to post pictures of themselves or loved ones from years gone by and remember "the good old days".  Believe it or not, this is my first ever #TBT posting of any sort.  Its not that the good old days weren't that good.  They were.  I guess I'm just not that much of a social media junkie - more of a "take a peak every couple of days" kind of person.

Anyway, you can bet that every Thursday for the next many that roll around there will be people posting and commenting on Throw Back Thursday pictures.  There's nothing necessarily wrong with it but it got me to thinking about why we don't see many posts looking forward in time.  Nearly all of the posts I see are about past events.  So, let's start a revolution with a new social media phenomenon.  Let's call it #FFF (Flash Forward Friday).  Let's see if we can get people thinking about the life that's ahead of them and their loved ones, if only for just one small moment on one day.

Ok, let's flash way forward...all the way to the Judgment Day.  When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Whether its #TBT or #FFF, let's live our lives today and every day so that when times of reflection do come and we pause to look back on our lives that we're not ashamed.  Much more, that our Lord Jesus Christ is not ashamed of us!  Think about it.  The things we do in this life will determine our eternal destiny in the next life.  Take time to be holy!

By the way, about the photo.  This is probably my all time favorite photo of my youth, for two reasons.  First, because of the funny looking bunch that we are.  (If you can't laugh at yourself then you're way too serious!).  Second, because of the wisdom of my father to always be behind the camera, thus saving himself from the embarrassing #TBT posts.  One of these days my kids may think that about me too since I'm always taking photos of them and rarely get photographed myself.  Hah!

IS FISHING FOR MEN YOUR LIFESTYLE OR PASTTIME?

Posted by Stacy Lewis on April 08, 2014 @ 2:11 PM

Written by: Craig Waddell, elder at the church of Christ that meets in Center, KY

“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt. 4:19)  With these words, Jesus invited a couple of professional fishermen to accept a change of lifestyle.  Until this time, Peter’s and Andrew’s lives revolved around casting nets into the Sea of Galilee.  When they chose to accept Jesus’ call, they understood that He was not commissioning them to fish for men as a pastime, but as a way of life.  Did they ever fish for fish again?  Yes, but never with the same enthusiasm or for the same reason.

We have been invited to accept an identical commission.  The disciples were told to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . .” (my emphasis) (Mt. 28:19, 20) The task of fishing for men has been passed down from generation to generation of christians. Those who successfully carry out their assignment realize that it must form the hub of their lives. Many christians have a very difficult time understanding this concept.

Most of us, from the time we are young, are taught that making money is to be the focal point around which we build and develop our lifestyles.  We may be taught that we should never love money, and that we should never flaunt our success before others.  We may be taught that we are to make money for the noble purposes of supporting ourselves and our families, and to generously give to those in need, but in the end, we are taught that our career is to come first, occupying the biggest portion of our time, and then our hobbies may be engaged in as a form of relaxation. For most people, fishing is a pastime, something done during leisure time, when there’s nothing more important pressing, a way of enjoying spending some of that hard earned money.  Centering our entire lives around such an activity would be considered foolish by the majority of our society.

Is it no wonder then that we seem to view fishing for men more as a pastime rather than a lifestyle?  When we hear the term “fishing”, our mind automatically thinks of an activity that should be done only when there is nothing more productive to do; it does not matter that the souls of men, the objects of our angling, are the most valuable catch in the world, we still view teaching others about Jesus as a sideline and not a way of life.  So the question today:  Is fishing for men your hobby or your lifestyle?  No matter what we choose as an occupation, may our lives always revolve around a desire to fish.

Sin's Gravitational Pull

Posted by Stacy Lewis on March 28, 2014 @ 5:28 AM

Written by: Jeremy Prichard

Have you ever known anyone that has been carried away by sin?  I mean, an addict.  Someone who's very nature is to sin?  There sin is almost like a gravitational pull that's constantly weighting them down.

Now, can you remember back before that person became an addict?  Can you remember the slippery slope of bad decision after bad decision that they made leading up to their addiction to sin? 

We all face the constant appeal of sin, the tugging lure of temptation.  And, we all are capable of becoming slaves to sin just like the sin addict discussed above.  Sin is so deceiving.  It starts small but grows and grows until it's over taken us.  We don't see it sneaking up on us until it's too late and we're drowning in it's seduction.  Its kind of like a personal horror story I had once while on vacation.

Many years ago, shortly after Steph and I got married we went on vacation to Mexico to a place called Playa Del Carmen (about an hour or so south of Cancun).  We were on a secluded beach early one morning and were lucky enough to be the only two people on the beach at that time.  This place was absolutely beautiful!   Powdery white sand, softly swaying palm trees, crystal clear water with gently rolling waves.  Ahh, I wish we were there now.  It was a scene from a postcard and there was definitely nothing scary about the place.  We splashed and played around in the water for a little while, slowly getting slightly further from the shore and into deeper water.  When, all of the sudden we found ourselves trapped in a riptide and stuck behind a giant jetty where the waves crashed and sucked us under.  Crashed and sucked us under.  We went from a peaceful splash to nearly drowning all in a matter of seconds.  Steph isn't afraid of the water, but she's also no olympic swimmer.  I was a decent swimmer and in better shape back then but after what seemed like 10 or 15 minutes (which was probably more like 10 or 15 seconds), I was completely exhausted from trying to stay afloat myself while constantly pushing Steph up above the waves to help keep her head above water.  I remember thinking that we were going to die and there was nothing more that I could do about it.  We were both screaming for help and both praying for help too....when, out of nowhere a guy on a windsurfer appeared.  He drug us onto his surfboard and swam all three of us back to shore.  Then he disappeared.  Or, at least it seemed that way.  Praise God, we were safe and on solid ground again.

Now, isn't sin a lot like that?  Satan never rests.  He never stops trying to drag us down and pull us under his spell.  He's constantly seeking someone to destroy.  And you know what, faithful Christians are his main target!  No need wasting time on the souls he already owns.  He wants to punish his enemy so he's trying to hurt God's children.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (I Cor. 10:12).  Take courage, He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).   Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

Constantly pray (I Thess. 5:17).  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (I Cor. 10:13).

Abstain from every appearance of evil (I Thess 5:22).  White lies lead to gray lies which lead to black lies, but in reality all sin leads to death. 
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:15-17).

The best part of the story?  God's saving grace is free for all who will accept it.  God doesn't force us to accept His grace but stands ready with arms outstretched to receive us back to Himself.  He does not want anyone to fall prey to Satan and sent His Son, Jesus, to be the one-time for all time sacrifice to pay for our sinful ways.  As David said, He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure (Psalm 40:2).  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  By His love and mercy we are more than able to overcome our temptations and sin!

Enslaved by a Bad Attitude?

Posted by Stacy Lewis on March 14, 2014 @ 6:33 PM

Written by: Jeremy Prichard

Have you ever met someone who always seems to fear the worst?  Think the worst?  Or maybe even subconsciously hope for the worst just so there would be something for them to keep talking about?  Those people have enslaving attitudes; attitudes that rob them of their freedom to be and do good.

With all that’s going on in the world today and knowing that we have so many brothers in Christ whose freedoms have been taken away for various reasons – war, prison, sin, etc. – we need to work hard to make sure we don’t rob ourselves of our own freedoms through bad attitudes.

Here are three suggestions to help with the temptation of a bad attitude. 

1)      “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men.” (Col. 3:23)  In other words, “humble yourself and HE will lift you up”!  This is true not just in work, but in life.

2)      “…if there is anything good, anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

3)      “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” (John Wooden)

Consider printing this and reading it every time you feel yourself tempted to have a bad attitude.  Will you also share it with others so they may do the same?

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.

It will make or break a company…a church…a home.

The remarkable think is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only think we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you…

We are in charge of our attitudes.” (Charles Swindoll)

Oh, to be able to reach such faith and maturity to say, like Paul, “I have learned, in whatever state I am in, therein to be content.” (Phil. 4:11)

Now smile – Jesus loves you!!

I Walk Among You

Posted by Stacy Lewis on March 10, 2014 @ 9:51 AM

Post written by Craig Waddell, elder at Center church of Christ, after a recent mission trip to Cusco, Peru.

I walk among you, knowing that you and I are both made in the image of the same God.

I walk among you, striving to believe that you and I are the same, and in so many ways we are; we cry, we laugh, we love, we try to be strong, we desire help when we are weak, we desire to communicate with each other, we want to succeed, and we desire respect.

I walk among you in a land that is strange to me, but it is home to you. I hear you speak an unfamiliar language and watch you proudly showcase your ageless culture, the only way of life that you have ever known, the heritage left to you by your respected forefathers.

As I walk among you, sometimes I pity you because you will never have the opportunity to enjoy the luxuries that I take for granted. Sometimes I envy the simplicity of your existence, a simplicity that was intended from the beginning. Sometimes I fear you, not that you have given me a reason to, but I am out of my comfort zone, and so I must confess, I am a little afraid. But for the most part, I trust you to help me find my way when I am lost, and to treat me kindly when I confess my inabilities to understand your customs, because I know that you would desire the same from me should our circumstances be reversed.

As I walk among you, I want you to know that I love you, not because we have a close relationship which has developed over time, and not because you have earned my love by doing something for me, for we have just met one another; I love you because we are indeed made in the image of the same God and we will both one day stand before Him in all His majesty as our judge. I like to think that I have the same love for you that Christ has for all mankind. Deep within my heart, I believe that is the reason that I am here walking among you; I want to allow the abundant love which Christ has bestowed upon me to overflow in service to you. But as long as our differences so raptly hold my focus, I must ask myself if I truly love you with the love of the Lord.

I walk among some of you as brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to believe that I neither hold prejudices nor make any distinctions between us, but sometimes there does seem to be a national distinction which leads to an “us and them” mentality. Is this a suppressed feeling of separation? Do I secretly believe us unequal? I pray not, for I truly want us to be the blended family our Father desires us to be since we have all been bought and redeemed with the same blood.

I walk among you, asking myself if I am truly selflessly serving you, or if I selfishly believe my presence here will put another star in my crown. I don’t know. But one thing I do know. I hope to walk among you again next year, and maybe I can be a little closer to developing that love which I so dearly want to exhibit toward all mankind, but especially toward you; the totally selfless love of Jesus our Savior and Lord.

What Did That Penny Cost You?

Posted by Stacy Lewis on February 14, 2014 @ 1:12 PM

Written by: Craig Waddell

One of the first “Duh!” moments that occurred after Sarah and I married, and I found myself as the man of the house in charge of making repairs, concerned an appliance that would not work and an old time fuse box.  I knew enough to check the fuses and even to try changing them, but I still couldn’t get the washer to operate.  When Daddy came down to help, the first thing he did was screw the fuse in tighter, and “Viola!” the washer ran like a brand new one.

Fuses are electrical safety devices intended to keep an appliance or tool from burning out due to pulling too much amperage.  They also prevent the household electrical wiring from overheating and possibly causing a fire.  Each fuse has an amperage rating and only a specified maximum amperage fuse or less is supposed to be used in certain circuits, depending upon the size of the electrical wiring and its purpose.  The old small-based, screw-in type fuses were single use and considered “safe” because the threaded shafts were different lengths so that only a 15 amp fuse would work in a 15 amp circuit, etc. As it is with most safety features, many people found this to be annoying and inconvenient; a small fuse shot, the appliance wouldn’t work, there was no time to run to the store or it was in the middle of the night when no stores were open, so what could they do?  They either had to do without or they had to find a way to replace the annoying blown fuse with a stronger one.  People soon discovered that a penny was just the right size and thickness to bypass the safety feature and a 20 amp or even 30 amp fuse could be screwed in to replace the 15 amp.  They often reasoned that the stronger fuse would work better anyway since the higher the amperage, the less likely that it would shoot again, and thus they would save money and time. The problem?  Since the safety device would not work correctly, wires melted and fires burned down houses.  What did that penny cost those people?  Their home and sometimes their lives.

We have a built in safety feature.  It is called our conscience.  When we are young, that safety feature is very sensitive and can easily “shoot” which is a good thing; how many times do we tell our kids, “If someone asks you to do something that doesn’t seem or feel right, don’t do it.”  As we grow older, that sensitive conscience becomes inconvenient and it’s continual “blowing” annoys us because it won’t let us do what we want to do without our feeling guilty.   We search for ways to bypass this safety feature and soon we discover that inserting a penny will allow us to install a stronger fuse which requires more shocking immorality to cause our conscience to prick our hearts.  “I’m an adult,” is one penny many use, but it bypasses the fact that simply growing older does not transform anything from sin to righteousness.  “Different circumstances allow for different reactions” is another penny people insert behind their conscience in order to screw in a stronger safety device and thus by reasoning that their specific station in life justifies their practicing a sinful act, they can do so without pricking their consciences.  Other pennies range from, “Everybody’s doing it,” to “I’m only hurting myself,” to “Times have changed.”  What do these pennies cost these people when their consciences do not “blow” as they should?  Their families, their self-esteem, their dignity, and many times their eternal souls.

“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” (1 Tim. 4:2)

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1 Tim. 1:5)

“Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)

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