Time Well-Spent

A certain man often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his adult mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together.

After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone to check the journal that this man’s father had kept, and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the father’s perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

Let us never underestimate the importance of time that a parent spends with a child! The value is immeasurable!

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”—Deuteronomy 6:6-7


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Healthy Fear

Yesterday I noticed something extremely unusual. A fox was sitting on the front steps of a country church building. I parked my car near the fox, but he just looked at me as if he did not have a care in the world. Even after I got out of the car, he showed no fear whatsoever.

I, however, was a bit afraid. A fox that shows no fear of humans is likely sick, and perhaps dangerous.

My friend Karen lives right across the road from the church, and I wanted her to know about the situation, so I knocked on her door. She informed me that there was a family of foxes that had taken up residence near the church building, and that they were not afraid of people.

It would have been good, for their own sake, for the foxes to have a healthy fear of humans.

In the same way, it is good for humans to have a healthy fear of the Lord. Those who don’t fear God—well, there’s just something wrong with that.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”—Proverbs 1:7.


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No Cussin’!

Years ago the city council of South Pasadena, California, did something unusual. They adopted a resolution calling for one week off from swearing. It was called, “No Cussin’ Week”. No one would be arrested or fined, but it was an attempt to encourage more civility in our conversations. Interestingly, it was a 14-year-old boy who suggested the idea. The young man, who admits that he occasionally cussed, started a “No Cussin’ Club” at school.

One can only hope that such initiatives will encourage others to be more careful in their use of language.

The Bible continually warns us against inappropriate language and exhorts us to use speech that is holy and uplifting.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”—Ephesians 4:29


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Accepting the Pardon

President Andrew Jackson

About the year 1830, a man named George Wilson killed a man. Wilson was tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged. However, President Andrew Jackson sent him a pardon. But Wilson did a strange thing. He refused to accept the pardon! No one seemed to know what to do about this, so the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Marshall wrote the court’s opinion. In it he said, “A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.” And so he was.

Through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus, God has pardoned every member of the human race. However, for the pardon to be valid, it must be accepted.

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”—Mark 16:16.


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Always Praying

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” How can we do that? What does it even mean, anyway, to “pray continually”?

Here is what Mandy Smith says about the matter—“Having a daily time of prayer is essential, but we must be careful not to divide our lives into ‘prayer time’ and ‘non-prayer time’. Our daily prayer time should be the time when we only pray, not the only time when we pray.”

Maybe she has something there. What do you think?

In any case, let us always be pursuing a prayerful lifestyle.


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We Know the Words

Blues fans sing the National Anthem

Devoted St. Louis Blues fans gathered at the Enterprise Center to watch their beloved team on the big screen as they played in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night. A glitch in the video system caused the game feed to freeze during the National Anthem. That was no problem for the fans. They started singing “The Star Spangled Banner” themselves! Someone later noted that he never had been so proud to be a Blues fan.

This shows that there is much unity in our country when it comes to patriotism. If only the church could be so united! If only we knew the words of the Bible so well that they could bind us together in love and service! What a witness that would be to the world!

“My prayer is…that all of them may be one…so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”—John 17:20-21


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Lesson in Forgiveness

Bill Buckner

Retired baseball player Bill Buckner died Monday at the age of 69. Buckner was a good fielder and a great hitter, amassing 2,715 hits in a career that spanned over 2 decades. Buckner won a batting title in 1980 and made the All-Star team in 1981.

However, Bill Buckner is best-known for making a crucial error in the 1986 World Series. A ground ball went under his glove and through his legs, allowing the winning run to score in Game 6. Buckner’s team, the Red Sox, went on to lose Game 7, and the series, to the Mets.

Many Boston fans were angry at Buckner for years to come, some of them saying mean and despicable things about him, sometimes to his face. But he did not allow one honest mistake to define him. He was gracious and forgiving, and, years later, the fans embraced Buckner as one of their heroes.

The lesson here is to be gracious in defeat. Don’t allow any mistake or misfortune to define you. And always be willing to forgive those who mistreat you.

After Bill Buckner’s death, his family released a statement that included these words: “Our hearts are broken but we are at peace knowing he is in the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

That explains Buckner’s willingness to forgive. He took seriously the forgiveness that he had received from Jesus, and he knew that it was his responsibility to offer forgiveness to those who wronged him.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”—Colossians 3:13


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Define Wicked

When you hear the word “wicked”, what do you think of? We might think of terrorism, sexual immorality, murder, stealing, lying, child abuse, etc. There are many actions that most Christians have no problem calling “wicked”.

However, Jesus seems to have a much broader definition of the word “wicked” than many of us do. In the parable of the three servants in Matthew 25, the master says to the third man, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (Matthew 25:26). Why was he wicked? Simply because he had neglected to fulfill his duty. Jesus says that wickedness includes not using what we have been given. Wickedness in this case is just plain old laziness. According to Jesus’ definition of wickedness, there must be a lot of wicked people in a lot of churches, because there are a lot of people who profess to follow Jesus, but aren’t doing anything to prove their faith!

May we always allow Jesus to have the last word! In this case, let us allow Jesus to define “wicked” for us. And let us never fall into a wicked, lazy lifestyle!


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Gifted Differently

We like to say that we are all created equal, but we aren’t. Not really. Some people are so naturally beautiful that they could be actors or models. Others of us look like we fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!

Some people could look at a huge project and in just a few minutes have it organized in their mind. Other people couldn’t organize a two-car parade!

The Bible says that we all have different gifts and abilities. Just like the human body is made up of many parts with various functions, the body of Christ (the Church) is made up of different parts. Each part has its own function.

Let’s understand that we are gifted differently, and let’s appreciate each other’s contribution to the body of Christ while fulfilling our own function.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…”—Romans 12:6


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Held Accountable

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a parable about three servants who were entrusted with a sum of money to be invested for him. After a period of time, the master held the servants accountable for their actions. The first two showed a return for their investment, and they were praised and rewarded by the master. The third servant, however, failed to gain anything for the master. He hid the money that was entrusted to him and gave it back to him without any gain whatsoever. This servant was harshly criticized and severely punished.

John MacArthur says, “The third servant…put aside what God had given him and went about his own selfish business. He called himself a servant of God but demonstrated conclusively he was not…The failure of the third servant to use that with which he had been entrusted by his master represents the emptiness, uselessness, and worthlessness of a life in which profession of faith in Christ is proved false and meaningless by the careless waste of privilege and opportunity.”

Like the three servants in the parable, we all will be held accountable for our decisions about being faithful in our service to Jesus. Let’s make sure that he finds us faithful!

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”—Matthew 25:21


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