The Auburn Beacon
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

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Thoughts To Ponder

Who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

(2 Corinthians 3:6)

 

 


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Hear David Maxson in a Series on the Book of Daniel Held at the University church of Christ
For Audio and PowerPoint click here!



A Study of the Holy Spirit
Adult Bible Class

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Hear Mark Broyles on "Marriage as God Designed It"

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A Study of Evangelism
(Studies in the Cross of Christ)
College Bible Class by Larry Rouse

 


Studies by David Tant at the University church of Christ

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Building a Biblical Home Bible Class Series

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Moral Issues of Our Time

Wednesday Evening College  Bible Class by Larry Rouse
Wednesday Evenings at 7:00
Download the current outlines:

Lesson 1 - Seeking Wisdom to Overcome Satan
Lesson 2 - Attitudes Towards Others - Pride, Bitterness and Dishonesty
Lesson 3 - The Snare of Drugs and Alcohol

Lesson 4 - The Snare of Sexual Immorality
Lesson 5 - Abortion, Suicide and the Sanctity of Life
Lesson 6 - God's Grace, Transgender Identity and Homosexuality

The Letter and the Spirit
 

by Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.

 

 

Earl Irvin West, in Volume 2 of his The Search For The Ancient Order (p. 250), introduces a chapter called "Prophets of Liberalism," with an astute observation about what he calls "seeds of liberalism":

Whether in the halcyon days of the restoration there could be found the seeds of the later liberalism that swept the brotherhood, may be doubted. Certainly, however, it can never be questioned that these seeds are discovered buried deep in human nature. There are always those who believe they sense something in the "spirit" of a thing contrary to what may be found in its "letter," or, who, reacting against what they consider a radical extreme of isolationism devote their energies to popularizing a movement. The restoration period came to know these individuals following the war between the states. The church appeared to them to be too narrow and restricted, and their ambition therefore was to lift the brotherhood to a "dignified church" in a world of denominationalism, commanding at least some respect from these religious bodies.

I believe West correctly assesses the beginnings of liberalism. It is thinking that interpreting and/or applying law to the "letter" is unnecessarily restrictive, exclusive, or even harsh. So, the liberal thinker turns to something called the "spirit of the law" to relax the restrictions and harshness imposed by the "letter." He may freely admit that the actual wording of the sacred text, strictly applied, would demand a certain thing. However, he appeals to a higher (?) court called "the spirit of the law" for a broader application than the actual wording would permit. Having dismissed the objective "letter," in favor of the more subjective "spirit," he can now freely adjust to the situation at hand. In reality, his so called "spirit of the law" is nothing more than his subjective view of what the law should be.

click here for the entire article..


The Value of Doubt
 

by Larry Rouse

 

Late in his ministry John the Baptist sent two disciples to Jesus with this startling question: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another? (Luke 7:19-20)” To the careful Bible student this question makes no sense when you first consider it. John appears to have doubt about a matter that he had earlier expressed great confidence in. Jesus described John as being the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28)? How can this happen with such a man of faith?

Consider the earlier experiences and statements of John the Baptist. He had witnessed the Holy Spirit come down upon Jesus as a dove and had heard the voice of God from heaven proclaim: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mt 3:17)” Shortly after these events, John boldly proclaimed this eyewitness account to his own disciples. It is from these very men that Jesus would later choose his 12 disciples. Listen to the bold, confident proclamation from John as to the identity of Jesus Christ. “And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” 35Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:32-36)

Possible Causes of John’s Doubt

The bulk of John’s ministry consisted of his strong preaching to the multitudes in the wilderness. He was an outdoors man described as being clothed in camel hair, and eating wild locusts and honey (Mt 3:4). He was arrested and imprisoned for boldly and accurately teaching the will of God. His stand of faith was exactly the stand God wanted him to make. But now he is isolated and soon would be killed. This sudden change of lifestyle would cause any man great pain. It is at this time that a man of faith would step forward and review the very foundations of his faith.

click here for the entire article..


A People of Principle
 

by Tim Nichols

 

Christians, above all others, are to be a people governed by principles. The world may not yield to an obvious code of conduct, but God's children recognize that the distinct teachings of God's Word give us higher and better rules than our own to guide us through life. Just as Luke wrote of "those things which are most surely believed among us" (Luke 1:1), we can speak of our common commitment to settled principles that have been revealed from Heaven. Those precepts are the standards held high by the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim. 3:15). They are honorable, virtuous, and noble (Phi. 4:8-9). Only to the degree that our scruples are shaped by untainted Truth can we live uprightly.

Divine precepts are to be kept diligently (Psa. 119:4). We are to long for, love, and meditate upon them (vv. 15, 40, 159). We can understand them and talk of them (v. 27). They give us comfort and hope when men hold us in derision (vv. 49-56).

Divine principles come as a package (Psa.119:128, 168).We either trust God and obey Him concerning all of our ways, or we do not trust Him at all. He Who inspired the living, powerful Scriptures that are able to discern the thoughts and intents of our hearts knows everything about us and everything about every situation that we will encounter (Heb. 4:12-13).

Divine principles are the hand of God helping us (Psa. 119:173). They require us to acknowledge our own lack of personal wisdom and our need to rely upon Him. Those who count themselves wise enough to value their own wisdom above God's slaps His hand away.

Principles connect with one another (Isa. 28:10-13) and builds upon another and enlarges it. Some make perfect sense only when understood in light of some others. All are consistent with all others. True precepts from the mind of God never contradict each other.

click here for the entire article..


Moral Holiness
 

by John R. Gibson

 

 

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pt 1:13-16). With a full awareness of the hope set before us, Peter calls upon us to reject the ways of sin and live in an obedient and holy manner. As we consider what it means to be holy, we must realize that when we were baptized into Christ we were sanctified and at that point became saints, i.e. holy ones (1 Cor 1:2; 6:11). Yet, in daily living God expects us to become progressively holier. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1).

 While moral behavior encompasses many different things, an area that received special emphasis in the first century and continues to demand the same emphasis in the twenty-first century is sexual morality. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thess 4:3-7). Sexual relations outside a lawful marriage are condemned by God and must be avoided (Heb 13:4; 1 Cor 6:9, 10; Mt 19:9).

How can we live holy and clean lives in regard to sexual behavior? How can we keep ourselves pure? Consider four things we must do.

click here for the entire article..


The Problem of Lying
 

by Dee Bowman

 

 

I preached this last Lord's Day on the problem of lying. I believe it to be one of the most prevalent and damaging problems in the lives of not only the world, but Christians as well. It has become epidemic.  It is in our private relationships, our families, our social lives, our business practices. It's everywhere--at school, at the golf course, at the PTA meeting, even in the church.

Coincidentally, The Houston Post, in its June 4 issue, carried a review of The Day America Told the Truth, a new book by J. Walter Thompson Advertising Exec., Peter Kim and his associate James Patterson. It is an astonishing look at the morals of our people. The picture is not pretty. For instance:

-- 91% of Americans lie regularly

-- 63% of American men and 52% of American women have lied to protect themselves.

-- 40% of the people interviewed admitted to having lied on job applications.

-- 62% think there's nothing morally wrong with the affairs they're having.

-- And get this: 13% of the people have had an affair with a fellow worker.  And 26% have shoplifted.

What a sad description of our times! How deplorable that people have such little regard for truth, such little respect for morality.

Can you believe that?

click here for the entire article..


The Nature and Character of the New Covenant
 

by Larry Ray Hafley

 

Noting and quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34, the Hebrew writer (we will assume it was the apostle Paul) said:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away (Heb. 8:8-13).

Some are confused by Paul's statement that the old covenant was "ready to vanish away." They think it refers to Paul's day. They believe this indicates that the first covenant had not vanished away when Paul wrote, but that it was then "ready to vanish away." However, the moment God mentioned "a new covenant," at that instant He made the first covenant old and "ready to vanish away." Hence, the first covenant was "old" in the days of Jeremiah, not in the time of Paul. It was "ready to vanish away," not in the days of the apostle, but in the days of Jeremiah.

What Covenant?

What was the covenant that was to be done away? It was the one God made when He took the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. That covenant included the ten commandments. "And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone" (Deut. 4:13). Moses said, "The Lord our God made a covenant with us (Israel) in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day" (Deut. 5:2,3). "When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water: And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly" (Deut. 9:9, 10). "And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments" (Ex. 34:27,28).

click here for the entire article..


Is It Wise and Good to Begin Drinking Alcohol?
 

by Doy Moyer

Will anyone defend this: “The wise and good thing to do today is to start drinking alcohol”?

If one says, “But the Bible doesn’t condemn all drinking,” I will respond by asking that question again.

If one says, “But there are passages in the Bible that speak of fermented drinks in a more positive light,” I will respond by asking that question again.

If one says, “The Bible condemns drunkenness, not all drinking,” I will respond by asking that question again.

If one says, “But Jesus made water into wine,” I will respond by asking that question again.

If one says, “But there are other issues, too, like gluttony,” I will respond by asking that question again. If one wishes to start another thread on sugar and candy, he or she is welcome to do so. Not here. Not now.

If one asks, “Are you saying it is a sin and one will go to hell for touching alcohol to the lips at all?” I will respond by asking that question again.

Until the above question is answered, I will continue asking it. None of those responses grapple with the wisdom of the issue of drinking alcohol today; they only look at legal technicalities of a culture very different from ours. None of the responses consider the cultural differences between then and now or the reasons for drinking between then and now (e.g., the need to add it to water then where that need doesn’t exist now). They don’t look at the issue of discernment and wisdom at a time when the problem of alcoholism continues to plague millions. Are you sure the prime reasons for drinking then are identical to now? Are you so certain about it that you will promote modern drinking at the risk of influencing another in a way that could well result in severe consequences? Are you aware of what those risks, today, are?

click here for the entire article..


When Good Men Do Nothing
 

by Wayne Greeson

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” - Edmund Burke

So much of the history of the struggle between good and evil can be explained by Edmund Burke's observation. Time and again those who profess to be good seem to clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to prevail far to often. Seldom is it the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good men are willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right. There are numerous examples of this sad and awful scenario being played out over and over again in the scriptures.

When good men do nothing, they get nothing good done. To be good, one must do good. The Lord commands His people to do good (Lk. 6:35; Eph. 2:10). Christ "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from I all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit. 2:14).

They Get Nothing Good Done

In the parable of the talents, Jesus described a man who did nothing. When he received his Lord's money, he "went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord's money" (Mt. 25:18). When his Lord returned, he returned to the Lord just what he had been given (Mt. 25:25). Notice, the servant did not do any outright evil, such as stealing the money, but then neither did he do anything good. He did nothing and he got nothing good accomplished. His Lord condemned him as a "wicked and slothful servant" (Mt. 25:26)

Jesus rebuked the church at Laodicea for doing nothing. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:15 17).

Too many Christians and too many churches are do nothing. They are standing idly by, they are mere spectators. They sit on the sidelines in stead of actively participating and working for the good. If good wins, they join in the celebration though they did nothing to produce the victory. If evil wins, they will complain long and loud though their own apathy helped produce the undesirable result.

click here for the entire article..


Judging and Casting Stones
 

by Heath Rogers

 

We live in a world that embraces tolerance. "Live and let live" seems to be the ruling spirit of our day. Our culture tells us that we can have and hold our own views, provided they don't condemn the views of other people. When Christians point out and object to the sin and immorality in the lives of other people, we are quickly reminded that we can't do that because our Bible says, "Judge not."

Indeed, Jesus did speak these words of warning to His disciples. Here is the entire quotation: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you,: (Matt. 7:12) A careful look at this passage shows that Jesus did not forbid His followers to make judgments about others. He warned them against making harsh or hypocritical judgments. He stated a general truth, that we will be judged according to the same standard that we use on others.

Can Christians make judgments about other people? Yes, we can. Later in the same text, Jesus warned of "false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits..." (vs. 15-16) False prophets are compared to wolves among sheep because of their deceptive nature and because of the damage that they can do. How are we going to know if a man is a false prophet? Jesus says we must observe his life and make a judgment to determine what kind of person he is ("You will know them by their fruits'). The Bible allows this kind of judgment. Christians are not violating the commandment of verse one when they observe verse sixteen.

click here for the entire article...)


 

A Heart of Wisdom
 

by Doy Moyer

 

“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.” (Prov. 4:7-8).

“Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Prov. 23:23).

Wisdom helps restrain us (cf. Prov. 10:19; 29:11), puts boundaries around our actions, and helps us see that serving God is not just about whether something is technically sinful, but is about gaining understanding and skill in the way we make daily choices. Just asking, “Is it a sin?” is elementary. While it is important to know if something is sinful, if that is the only concern, then it is the question of the novice who has little experience in spiritual discernment. Asking, “Is it wise?” is a mark of maturity and growth that comes from those who understand their times, with knowledge of what to do in their given circumstances (cf. 1 Chron. 12:32; Esth. 1:13). If we wish to move beyond the elementary level to a mature person in Christ (Eph. 4:13), then we need to be asking about what is wise. This is at the heart of discerning right from wrong, especially when something isn’t spelled out exactly.

We don’t simply want to avoid what is technically sinful; we want to choose what is positively wise and moves us in the right direction. There is a difference. One can go through life asking about what is sinful, trying to avoid the technical sin, and yet never fully develop a heart and life of wisdom. The one who only asks, “Is it a sin?” is looking for the edge of the line, wanting only to know if he has crossed it and how close he can get to it before going too far. This mentality can dry up the heart, wearing out the desire to do right because what’s across that line just looks too good. It can result in constantly peering over the edge of the line, wishing to take part on the other side while always having to pull up short and never really understanding why. Consequently, growing weary in doing good can become a familiar reality (cf. Gal. 6:9). This is the one who can never really find true joy in serving God because it’s always about what he’s not supposed to being doing. This becomes a religion of “do nots” rather than one of glorifying God.

(click here for the entire article...)


How to Build Up the Church
 

by Gus Nichols

 

In many places the true church is very weak. The mem­bers are few in number, and poor in this world's goods. In some cases they have no efficient leadership, while in other in­stances the members are often worldly minded and under re­proach. Even in a few cases there is strife and bitterness among the members. In almost all places where the Cause is weak, the members are despised in the eyes of the world, persecuted, and misrepresented. But weak congregations should remember that God does not save by many nor few, and also, they should remember that strong congregations were once weak. Neither should they lose sight of the fact that a large membership does not always mean the church is strong. If the members are weak in faith and in spiritual strength, the church cannot be strong. It is our purpose to offer some simple suggestions, which, when put into practice, will inevitably build up the church.

Attend it Up

Nothing is more encouraging than for all the members to at­tend the public services of the church. We are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Heb. 10:25) The
early disciples came together upon the first day of the week to break bread in memory of Christ.
(Acts 20:7) The first day of every week in the year is the Lord's day. Thus, fifty-two days in each year the disciples celebrated the resurrection of their loving Savior by properly observing the day of the resurrection. (Mk. 16:9; Rev. 1:10) They also celebrated the Lord's death just as often as they did his resurrection. Hence, they observed the Lord's supper on the first day of the week. (Acts 2:42; 20:7) This builds up the church. It edifies and strengthens the members, and shows to the world that we really believe the gospel, and that we are living for the Lord.

Teach It Up

The church cannot grow without the word of God. Peter says: "As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby." (1 Pet. 2:2) When the time comes that a little baby may grow into a strong man or woman without food, then may the church grow without the word of God. Paul says: "I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an in­heritance among all them which are sanctified." (Acts 20:32) Yes, the word "is able to build you up." One can not live the Christian life without the word. Jesus says "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4) Hence, God says: "Feed the church of God."  (Acts 20:28)  In the Commission, the Lord commanded his disciples to teach all nations and baptize them, then teach those baptized to observe all things which he has commanded. (Matt. 28:19-20) Brethren will do better when they are taught better. Members should study to the end that they may be approved of God, and that they may be able to teach others. (2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 5:12)

(click here for the entire article...)


All Seek Their Own
 

by Norman E. Sewell

 

It continues to amaze me how often we read the Scriptures and fail to see some of the statements found in them. A few years ago I was visiting in another community and worshipped on Lords day morning with the local church and heard the preacher there read from Philippians 2:19-24. Notice part of that with me. Paul wrote: But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel" (vv. 19-23). Somehow I had missed the statement "for all seek their own," or at least it had failed to register in my mind. Now, having finally seen it I believe there is a powerful lesson taught by Paul in that short statement, especially when combined with other clear statements of Scripture.

 All of us have experienced dealings with people who show that they are very selfish. Selfishness in fact seems to be part of being human unless we train ourselves not to be, and the only reason to so train ourselves is that God wants us, as his children, not to long for pre-eminence, or to think only of ourselves and what we may want, but of what is also good for each other. Earlier in this same chapter Paul told the Philippian brethren: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4). To the Christians Paul wrote: "Let no one seek his own, but each one the others well-being" (1 Cor. 10:24). In fact, when Paul wrote to the Corinthians showing the nature of the love that God commands us to have he wrote that love "does not seek its own" (1 Cor. 13:5). So loving one another as God demands would do away with such selfishness.

(click here for the entire article...)


The Rat-Race
 

by Fanning Yater Tant

Every one of us inhabits two worlds. One is the outer, visible, material world; the other is the inner world of the spirit. This outer world has in it fire and flood and famine. It has earthquakes, wars, cruelty, and injustice. It has fierce competition, trickery, deceit, the enormous pressure of modern society. It is familiarly called "the rat-race." The other world, the world of the spirit, has to do with one's reaction or response to the rat-race. It is in this inner world that the Christian finds strength and capability to cope with the outer world. This is precisely what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote, "We are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed... Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:8-9, 16-18).

How to Survive

As I write these lines l have just received word of the death by suicide of a lovely twenty-four year old girl in New York City. She was the daughter of a friend of mine (Jewish), and apparently had much to live for. Her parents are wealthy, and the girl had had everything that most people would call "the good life." Educated at one of the most prestigious girls' school of the East, attractive and talented, she had made frequent trips to Europe, Hawaii, and other well publicized vacation spots (including Las Vegas), but her restless spirit had never found that elusive thing without which none of us can long survive inner peace. Agnostic (perhaps atheistic), she simply found herself unable to cope with "the rat-race," and had accepted the solution once contemplated by Shakespeare's melancholy Dane: "To die; to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heartaches and the thousand natural shocks, That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished." Even her Jewish faith could not measure up when the crucial test confronted her. There are certain essentials of the spirit, certain basic requisites that are absolutely vital to survival.

(click here for the entire article...)


Are You Beautiful?
 

by Rick Liggin

 

Modesty aside, do you think you’re attractive? Do you think you’re beautiful, if you’re a woman, or handsome, if you’re a man? Are you concerned about being beautiful, staying beautiful, and being around beautiful (handsome) people? No one wants to be ugly. All of us, to some degree, want to be beautiful or handsome…or, at least, attractive. But how do you determine who is or who is not beautiful? How do you define beauty and attractiveness? For many people, and especially for men, attractiveness and beauty are judged purely by what we see physically—by what a person looks like; by his or her outward appearance.

This was Samson’s problem! You will remember that most of the stories about him in the book of Judges involve a woman: first, his Philistine wife (Judges 14:1-20); then a prostitute (16:1-3); and finally, Delilah (16:4-21). And how was it that Samson chose his women? It was by what she “looked” like to him! That is certainly how he picked his wife. He saw this Philistine woman in Timnah, and he wanted her; so he said to his father, Manoah, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me” (14:1-3; 14:7 – NASB).

Are we as shallow as Samson was in how we “judge” beauty today? Does “beauty” depend on what a person “looks like” to us? Are we too physically oriented when it comes to how we define “beauty”? Let me ask you: what is “attractive” to you? On what basis do you decide who is “beautiful”?

(click here for the entire article...)


Seeing the Road Ahead
 

by Alan Jones

A few years ago I was traveling south on 1-69 in northern Indiana when I encountered a traffic slowdown.  Soon I found out why we had slowed to a crawl.  
There was a horrible accident on the northbound side.

Everyone was slowing down to look. The accident involved two semis. One was turned on its side with all of the glass gone from the tractor. The nose of the other tractor was shoved in like an accordion.

Immediately I prayed for the welfare of the drivers and the comfort of their families.  Their lives had been suddenly and unexpectedly changed.  As the drivers left the terminal for the highway, they did not know what awaited them on the road ahead.  The backup caused by the accident was five miles long and was still growing.  Motorists caught in it had a certain timetable in mind to get to work or to get home from work, to get to a vacation destination or to return home. But, they, too, did not know what awaited them on the road ahead.  Their timetable went out the window.  They were making good time when suddenly and unexpectedly they were forced to stop and wait, and wait, and wait.

Man can’t see the future.  Solomon wrote, “Do not boast about tomorrow. For you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Prov 27:1).  A humble person will plan accordingly.  James admonished, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow, we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we will live and also do this or that.’  But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

(click here for the entire article...)


Burnout
 

by Brian V. Sullivan

 

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary describes "burnout" as: "exhaustion of physical or emotional strength" (p. 189). Burnout is one of those terms that we hear used more often today than we did ten or twenty years ago. It can involve anyone, but often affects people who are in a high stress situation or occupation.

Factors That May Cause Burnout

1. Burnout may be the result of expecting too much from yourself. We speak of someone who imposes unrealistic goals, or standards of what is acceptable or suitable. They may have been reared in homes where they were never commended for what they did. No matter how good it was, it was never quite good enough. As a result, they have set before themselves an impossible level of attainment. Even if they did achieve it, they probably would never find satisfaction in it, for they would not be convinced that it was as good as what others might do. Paul, writing by inspiration, spoke of some who "measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (2 Corinthians 10:12). That measurement cuts both ways. There is the possibility of setting the standard too low, and there is the possibility of setting it too high, but either way Paul says it is "not wise". It is good to realize that God never expected us to do more than what we are able to do, nor should we expect the same of ourselves. Do the best you can do, and rejoice in it, never mind how it stacks up against others or what others might think.

2. Burnout may be the result of one becoming a workaholic. This condition describes someone who gets so wrapped up in their work that they never seem to let it rest. Solomon, in the long ago, suggested that "much study is wearisome to the flesh" (Ecc 12:12). Burnout can happen in many different situations in life, but often is found in those who tend to do excessive amounts of "head-work" rather than "back-work".

(click here for the entire article...)


Majoring and Minoring
 

by Connie W. Adams

 

More and more we are hearing that "we need to major in the gospels and minor in the epistles." What is that all about? What it is about is the so-called "new hermeneutic." It places greater importance on what Jesus said and did than on what the apostles said and did. It is a part of the scheme to rid ourselves of the restraining influences of finding a direct statement, approved apostolic ex-ample or necessary inference to authorize our teaching and practice.

We have some among us who are terrorized by the ghost of tradition. Never mind that traditions are sometimes approved and other times condemned. Paul wrote, "Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern" (Phil. 3:17). He also said, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle" (2 Thess. 2:15). The church at Thessalonica was charged to "withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us" (2 Thess. 3:6). So, all traditions are not to be rejected.

The Source of Apostolic Teaching

Those who worry about putting too much emphasis on the epistles need to be reminded of the source of the message in the epistles. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth, bringing to their remembrance what Jesus had taught them, and revealing to them truth which Jesus had not expressed while with them in person. Read John 16:7-14. Paul said, "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches" and then added, "But we have the mind of Christ"
(
1 Cor. 2:13,16). "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord"
(I Cor. 14:37).

Now, if the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit, had the mind of Christ, and what they wrote were the words of Christ, how say some among us that we need to minor in the epistles?

New Testament congregations which received and obeyed apostolic instruction in the epistles were following the will of Christ. That is why Jude wrote, "But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 17). Those words were a pattern to shape our thinking and practice.

(click here for the entire article...)


Growing Doubts About the Resurrection of the Dead
 

by Wayne Jackson

 

In his defense before Agrippa, Paul asked his Jewish audience: “Why is it judged incredible with you, if God doth raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8).

There have always been those who found the concept of the bodily resurrection incredible, i.e., unbelievable, and their modern counterparts are appearing increasingly—even in today’s church.

False Ideas

The ancient Greeks disdained the notion that the body could ever be raised. Thus when Paul spoke concerning “the resurrection of the dead [ones—plural]” in Athens, his message was mocked (Acts 17:32). During the time of Jesus, the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the body (Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:6-8).

Even some Christians in the primitive church had fallen for this error and so affirmed: “There is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12)—a heresy which Paul attempted to correct. In the late decades of the apostolic age, a sect known as the Gnostics arose, denying the resurrection of the body.

In our own age, atheism, of course, rejects the idea that the human body will be raised from the dead. An article in the Soviet Encyclopedia asserts that the concept of the resurrection is in “decisive contradiction with scientific natural knowledge” (Smith 1999, 455).

Religious modernism repudiates the idea of the resurrection, since, having “demythologized” the Scriptures, it rejects any element of the miraculous.

Cultish groups also have a problem with the doctrine that God will raise the body. The Jehovah’s Witnesses assert that the incorrigibly wicked “will never be remembered for resurrection” (Make Sure of All Things 1953, 314).

(click here for the entire article...)


Christians and Mental Illness
 

by M. W. Bassford

Yesterday, I put up a post about whether suicide was a sin.  This produced a number of wide-ranging and interesting discussions online, but one conversation in particular stood out.  A brother in Christ wrote about his struggles with depression and suicide and complained about what he saw as the insensitivity of his congregation to his problems.

This is an area where the experience of different Christians at different churches can vary dramatically.  There are congregations (and I would include my congregation among them) that have a very compassionate attitude toward mental illness in general and depression in particular.  We talk about these problems from the pulpit and from the lectern, members feel free to be open about their particular issues, and we encourage such members to seek professional help.

On the other extreme (so I’ve heard, though I’ve never seen this in real life) are churches that deny that faithful Christians should struggle with depression at all.  If you’re depressed, the reasoning goes, it points to a failure to put Philippians 4:4 into practice.  Counselors are regarded with extreme suspicion, and members who do have problems with mental illness pop their pills in shadowy disrepute.

This is a complicated issue, but I thought others might be interested in how I see it.  I don’t have any professional training in dealing with depression and mental illness, but I have considerable experience.  Though I was never formally diagnosed, in retrospect it’s clear to me that I’ve gone through periods of clinical depression.  After our daughter died, my wife was suicidally depressed.  The experience led her to go back to school and get a master’s degree in social work, thus becoming a mental-health professional herself.

In addition, I’ve been a hymn writer for 20 years.  The stereotypes about artistic excellence and mental instability have at least some truth to them, so many of my closest friends and collaborators grapple with chronic depression.  Also, in my work as a preacher, I’ve studied and worked with any number of people who battle depression and other mental problems.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that mental illness has been one of the themes of my adult life.

(click here for the entire article...)


 

Student Sunday Night Home Study and Singing 2017

 

Preparing for Marriage by Scott Smelser
Audio of Lesson
Audio of Singing

 

 

Does God Care What I Wear?
(Sermons and Articles on Modesty)

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How to Study the Bible
College Class

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The Place and Work of the Apostles

Wednesday Night College Bible Class by Larry Rouse
Download the current outlines:
Lesson 1 - Learning How God Works
Lesson 2 - God's Authentication of the Apostles (Part 1)
Lesson 3 - God's Authentication of the Apostles (Part 2)

Lesson 4 - The Words Delivered to the Apostles
Lesson 5 - Local Churches and the Apostles
Lesson 6 - Defending the Place of the Apostles

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Hear Bob Buchanon in a Series of Bible Lectures at
the University church of Christ
Jan 13-16, 2013

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Messianic Prophecies in the Book of Isaiah
Adult Bible Class by Larry Rouse
Sunday Mornings at 9:30
Download the current outlines:
Lesson 1 - The Time and Reign of the Messiah
Lesson 2 - The Servant Songs (Isaiah 42)
Lesson 3 - The Servant Songs (Isaiah 49)
Lesson 4 - The Servant Songs (Isaiah 50)
Lesson 5 - The Servant Songs (Isaiah 52-53)
Lesson 6 - The Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7)

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Sermon Series on the Book of 1 John
by Robert Harkrider

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The Christian and Money

Sunday Morning Adult Bible Class by Larry Rouse
Sunday Mornings at 9:30

Download the current outlines:
Lesson 1 - Money and the Revealing of Our Hearts
Lesson 2 - Earning Money

Lesson 3 - Spending Money and Debt

 

A Study of Religious Beliefs

Wednesday Night College Bible Class

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Lesson 1 - Introduction and Approach
Lesson 2 - The Roman Catholic Church
Lesson 3 - An Overview of Islam
Lesson 4 - An Overview of Mormonism
Lesson 5 - An Overview of Pentecostalism
Lesson 6 - An Overview of Calvinism

 


Student Sunday Night Home Study and Singing

 

 

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