Conceal and Carry

When we hear the phrase “conceal and carry”, we probably think about someone who is practicing their constitutional right to bear arms. However, there is another way we can understand those words. It has to do with the way that people fail to deal with their sins.

Psalm 32:3-5 says: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

When David tried to conceal his sin, he carried its heavy burden with him and felt the pain and misery that goes along with unforgiven sin. Only when he confessed his sin to the Lord was his burden lifted. Then he experienced the joy of being right with God once again.

Are you concealing and carrying your sin? Why not allow the Lord to take that burden from you today?

 

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Stability at the Top

Rick Barnes

In a recent sports story he wrote for the Lexington-Herald Leader, Mark Story documented the recent decline in athletic achievements for the University of Tennessee. Story attributes this slide to the instability in the positions of head coach for the UT football team and their men’s basketball team.

Story writes, “Since the start of 2008, Tennessee has had four (head) football coaches. Current UT men’s basketball head man Rick Barnes is the fourth person to hold that job since 2010-11.” He goes on to say, “No organization can endure that much tumult in high-level positions and not eventually pay a bottom-line price.”

Churches also pay the price for instability in leadership. It has been my experience that good, consistent leadership over a period of years is a common denominator in successful churches.

One theme throughout the Bible is that leadership is of the utmost importance in getting God’s people to move from where they are to where God wants them to be. Those who disregard this important principle do so, not only at their own peril, but also to the detriment of the entire church.

Let each one of us, whether called to lead or not, do our best to promote stability among the leadership in our local congregations. We must take this responsibility very seriously! There is far too much at stake for us to neglect it!

“…If your gift is…to lead, do it diligently…”—Romans 12:6-8.

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”—Hebrews 13:17.

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Strange Position

Pro-life advocates on the front lines

The doctor who owns the only abortion clinic now operating in Kentucky has made some strange comments recently in reference to people who have been protesting outside his clinic. He said that the abortion protesters don’t have a “monopoly on morals”. He considers their tactics harassing and judgmental. He goes on, “Some of the things I see out in front of our clinic, to me, by the pro-life people, don’t represent good Christianity. I just don’t think Jesus would harass people or name-call people or call doctors murderers.”

The man performs abortions, and he has the gall to say that people who point out his crimes against humanity are the ones who don’t represent Christianity! How absurd!

This man says that he attends church every Sunday and is a former Sunday school teacher. You have to wonder what kind of church this is, that a person could attend there every Sunday and then go and do what this man does for a living through the week. What kind of church would allow such a man to teach a Bible class?

This is a strange position, both for the doctor and for the church. The Bible is clearly and consistently pro-life. Anyone who truly follows Jesus will not take the opposite viewpoint.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”—Isaiah 5:20.

 

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What Makes a Hero?

John McCain returns to the Senate

Senator John McCain returned to the Senate yesterday to cast a crucial vote in the on-going process to try to improve our nation’s failing health care system. This was McCain’s first appearance in the Senate since his recent surgery and subsequent diagnosis of brain cancer.

The maverick Senator was given a hero’s welcome when he returned to the Senate floor. Republicans and Democrats alike applauded and whooped as they greeted their ailing colleague. McCain was the recipient of many hugs and handshakes from both sides of the aisle.

What is it about John McCain that could bring the Senators together in such a rare show of unity? In a word—sacrifice. McCain’s well-documented service to his country—which included years of suffering as a prisoner of war—have won the hearts of Americans across the political spectrum. Those who sacrifice so much earn our respect and devotion.

This is the same quality that makes Jesus so beloved by so many people. The fact that Jesus would sacrifice his innocent life to pay for our sins is an attractive story. Jesus himself says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32). The crucified Jesus certainly has drawn a lot of people to himself. That is the power of sacrifice.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”—John 15:13.

 

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Avoiding Conflict

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson has just been granted parole by Nevada officials. Simpson has served 9 years in prison for his involvement in an armed heist.

During his parole hearing, Simpson commented that he has lived a “conflict-free life”.

Really? A lot of people have multiple reasons to disagree with that statement! Most of us would like to live a life that surpasses what Mr. Simpson has managed to accomplish in regards to being conflict-free!

The Bible urges us to try to get along with people. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

This acknowledges that some people are impossible to get along with. However, we have the responsibility to do our best to live at peace with those around us. This means avoiding any unnecessary conflict, which requires a lot of effort on our part.

Hopefully, we can be more successful than Mr. Simpson in avoiding conflict!

 

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10 Reasons I Love Jesus

 

 

 

 

Rex McDonald lists 10 reasons he loves Jesus:

  1. His love for all people.
  2. His selflessness.
  3. His relationship with his Father.
  4. His death for my sins.
  5. His truthfulness.
  6. His power and authority.
  7. He uses ordinary people.
  8. He took time for little things and little ones.
  9. He was normal and abnormal at the same time.
  10. He gives us every reason to be like him.

That’s a pretty good list. What reasons would you add?

“If you love me, keep my commands.”—John 15:15.

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Sweet Words

Psalm 19:10 says that the word of God is “sweeter than honey”. Just how sweet the Bible is depends on how much you hunger for it.

There was once a Christian man who not only had leprosy, he was also blind. He learned to read Braille so that he could read the Bible. However, his leprosy eventually took away his ability to feel the Braille with his fingers.

Not to be deterred, the man began reading his Braille Bible with his tongue. After a while his tongue became somewhat calloused. A doctor advised him to give up reading so that he could continue to enjoy the taste of food. He answered, “Food will nourish me, even if I can’t taste it; but if I give up reading the Bible, I will have nothing to nourish my soul.”

To this man, the word of God truly was “sweeter than honey”.

May it be so with us also!

 

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Tastes Better

Sam Elliott

Writing for The Seattle Times, Moira MacDonald said this about a new movie—“The Hero begins with Sam Elliott’s character, a veteran actor, reading a voice-over about barbecue sauce, and that’s when it hit me: Sam Elliott’s voice is barbecue sauce. Pour it on any movie—and oh, that voice does pour, in thick velvety drops—and it tastes better.”

In the same way, our influence should make people’s lives taste better. Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth. In part that means that we add flavor to people’s lives as we permeate the world in which we live.

As wonderful as Sam Elliott’s voice is, it pales in comparison to the voice of Jesus as we speak his truth into the lives of those around us!

“You are the salt of the earth…”—Matthew 5:13.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”—Colossians 4:6.

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Too Much Stuff (Part 2)

Today I came out of Walmart looking for my car. At first I couldn’t find it. Then I realized that I was looking for our Chrysler Van, when in fact I was driving our Honda Accord! Once I set my sights on the right vehicle, I found it right away.

Owning two vehicles and being able to purchase food and clothing makes me feel blessed. I have been on a couple of mission trips to a remote village in northern Thailand where the people don’t have nearly as much material wealth as most of us possess. In this particular village there were no cars—only one truck and a few motorcycles. Very few of the residents had electricity. None of them had running water. The things we take for granted would be unimaginable riches to these people.

Maybe we have too much stuff. It wouldn’t hurt most of us to try to be more generous to those in need.

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.”—2 Corinthians 8:13.

 

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Too Much Stuff?

I just heard about a lady who befriended a young man from India who was living in the United States. She felt sorry for him since his family was so far away, so she invited him to join her and her husband for dinner one night. When he arrived at their home, the young man asked them if both of the houses belonged to them. They had no idea what he was talking about. Finally they realized that he was referring to the fact that they had a large garage right next to their house. It was awkward for them to explain to this person who had grown up with so little that they found it necessary to build a house for their cars!

We often take for granted all of the luxuries we possess. Sometimes we convince ourselves that these luxuries are actually necessities. Many people in the world live without cell phones, cable television and an automobile for each person in the family who is old enough to drive.

Maybe we have too much stuff. What do you think?

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”—Acts 2:44-45.

 

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