Struggles

January 28, 2010

Struggles 

    

An unknown author writes “A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.”

Inspiration records that Paul was involved in “confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Just as a butterfly must go through the struggle of freeing itself from the cocoon to be able to fly, so must Christians go through various struggles to fly heavenward.

Perhaps this will allow us to better understand the words of James, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (Jam. 1:2-4). Beloved, we need struggles.

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

Tom Moore

Avenue T Church of Christ

2009 West Avenue T

Temple, Texas 76504

www.good-news-network.org

 

FROM WHERE DID WE COME?

January 28, 2010

FROM WHERE DID WE COME?

            One of the most basic questions on the mind of mankind is the issue of origin.  Clearly, the Bible says man was created by God Almighty.  Genesis chapters 1-3 discuss the matter of creation.  Therein, is included the information as to man’s origin.  However, many questions remain, even among those who believe in creation.

            Volumes have been written on the subject of the origin of man.  Long and publicised debates have drawn large audiences and have remained the subject of other debates for generations.  The matter is not fully settled in the mind of so many.  Every generation of youths are challenged to settle the matter.  Often, they are pulled between the faith handed to them from their parents and the instructions they have received at church and what they are told at school.  Some hold on to the faith while others depart and believe in evolution (the most common alternative offered).

            In my opinion, we often try to make more of the creation story in Genesis than what it was ever intended to convey.  That should not be interpreted to hint that there is the least doubt on my part about the truth of the record.  What I mean is that people have tried to find the answer to the question “HOW”? when the real answer there is another arrangement of the same letters.  God did not intend in about three pages of a bible to explain all the details of how the creation occurred.  He was explaining “WHO” was involved in the creation.  It was HE who did it all.  When we try to explain in human terms what the Lord Almighty did, we will always fall short.  We will always fail.  Thus, faith is required.  (Hebrews 11:1, 6,  II Corinthians 5:7)

            If the subject interests the reader, you might be wondering “from where did www.good-news-network.org come?  How did we get started?  When and how this ministry began is an interesting story.  Let me give some insight.

            It is our belief the www.good-news-network.org began in the mind of God.  It had its physical beginning in a private home in a suburb of Dallas, TX.  In June, 1999, we began broadcasting the Gospel 24/7 worldwide on one channel.  In time, the facilities at the home were outgrown and office space was rented and other channels were added.  Several years ago, we moved into the facilities used by the Walnut Hill Church of Christ in Dallas, TX and have broadcast from there since. 

            The capacity to broadcast live from originating sites has been available for several years.  In the recent years, we have become able to translate English-spoken sermons into various other languages and archive them for listeners worldwide.  Every year, more and more listeners discover www.good-news-network.org and become regulars.  With approximately one quarter of the world’s population using the Internet and our having all the languages, than number should only increase.

            That is a brief account of whence came www.good-news-network.org has come.  Where do we go from here?  That may be the subject of another issue of the newsletter.  Keep reading.

W. E. (Willie) Hamblen 

newsletter@good-news-network.org

“…….’TIL THE STORM PASSES BY”

December 30, 2009

                                                “…….’TIL THE STORM PASSES BY”

             In worship assemblies, church groups often sing a hymn which expresses a prayer to be able to be held in God’s hand “til the storm passes by”.  One is likely to find himself in several “storms” in a normal lifespan.  Those storms are played out on various stages in different people’s lives.  There is no pattern.  There is little prediction.  They just come and we must deal with them the best we are able.  The storms come from different directions and assail us in unexpected ways, on all sides.  A storm       is raging in the life of someone we know, if not our own most of the time. 

            Though we are aware of the threats which may be encountered in this life, one should not lose heart.  Although it becomes indelibly clear that there is no “Heaven on Earth”, nor will there be, there is a way to achieve happiness and contentment in our time in this life.  How does one find that path?  Often men have asked, “What must I do to be saved?” 

            This life is a proving ground.  The “here and now” of this existence is not intended to be the ultimate.  The storms serve to test the medal and the faith in God to take care of us.  They test the spiritual fiber of the soul.  The storms remind  that this is not our ultimate home and that there is a better existence awaiting the faithful.  If this life offered “peace, perfect peace”, where would be the longing for Heaven?  

            In January, my wife and I love go to the warm beach.  Earlier this year, as we walked on the beautiful white beach at Panama City Beach, Florida, I was musing about how wonderful is God’s creation and of the enjoyable spot in which we found ourselves.  We were warm and able to walk on the beach with only long sleeve shirts part of the time.  I thought of how wonderful it would be to enjoy such a climate all the time.  Even then, there were fellow Americans in the northern part of the States who suffered from bitter cold.  When my life seems good, others are suffering. 

            However, I was reminded that on another day (when Hurricane Katrina visited south Florida), people to the north walked in peace while the storm ravaged the Gulf Coast.  Reconstruction that was in progress on a pier nearby reminded me that storms come everywhere, at some point in life. 

            Storms of life come in the form of family crisis, illnesses, accidents, financial losses, and broken hearts.  Everyone seeks safety from such threats, few find a way to successfully cope.  We are ill-equipped to bring peace to our fellowman in trouble nor to escape the ravages of the storm for ourselves.  What or who can save us? 

            God is with us in our suffering on this earth.  He tells us in His Word, the Bible, how we may attain the answer to our question: “What must I do to be saved?”  However, we will not reach the full safety of “the hollow of His hand” until we join Him in Heaven.  We dare not trust in the stormy “here and now” of this life.  Rather, we should seek His way and obey His plan of Salvation of the soul.  The only safe place is with Him and we dare not jeopardize that prospect by becoming entangled in the world in which we find ourselves (temporarily) existing. 

            If we may help you find the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”, please contact us and we will help you find His way to safety. 

W. E. (Willie) Hamblen

Newsletter@good-news-network.org

www.good-news-network.org

Sight For The Blind

December 18, 2009

www.Good-News-Network.org  

Sight For The Blind  

A young boy of 9 was sitting in his father’s workshop watching his dad work on a harness. “Someday Father,” said Louis, “I want to be a harness-maker, just like you.” “Why not start now?” said the father. He took a piece of leather and drew a design on it. “Now” he said, “take the hole-punch and hammer out this design, but be careful that you don’t hit your hand.” Excited, the boy began to work, but when he hit the hole-punch; it flew out of his hand and pierced his eye! He lost his sight in that eye. Later, as fate would have it, sight in the other eye failed. Louis was now totally blind. A few years later, Louis was sitting in the family garden when a friend handed him a pinecone. As he ran his sensitive fingers over the cone, an idea came to him. He became enthusiastic and began to create an alphabet of raised dots on paper so that the blind could feel and interpret. Thus, Louis Braille in 1818 opened up a whole new world for the blind.  

About 2,000 years ago Jesus was involved in a similar work providing the blind a way to see. Jesus came into the world that He might bring mankind out of spiritual darkness. Concerning Jesus, John declared, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not” (John 1:1-5).Though Jesus came that we might have light, sadly, many refuse that light. Why? – listen to the words of Jesus, “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).  

How is your spiritual vision? Do you choose to remain in darkness? – If so, one day you will be cast into “outer darkness” (Mat. 25:30) and there to spend an eternity in torment. On the other hand, those who obey the truth come to the light (John 3:21) – we must “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). 

Think About It! 

 Have A Great Day! 

 Tom Moore

Avenue T Church of Christ

2009 West Avenue T

Temple, Texas 76504

http://avenuetchurchofchrist.com

TIGER WOODS’ “TRANSGRESSION”

December 8, 2009

 TIGER WOODS’ “TRANSGRESSION” 

              Tiger Woods and his wife have, it is reported, had distress in the last several days.  At issue, seems to be the “transgression” to which Tiger Woods has admitted.  In recent years there have been multiple people of prominence who have been caught in certain “transgressions”. 

            What, exactly, is “transgression”? The answer to that question, in this “post modern” society, depends upon how each person may wish to define the word.  Past President Bill Clinton referred to the question of how one defines “is” in reference to his indiscretion in the Oval Office.

One does not know how Tiger Woods defines “transgression” or if he will ever define what he meant when he used the term.  

             Literally, “transgression” means to cross over a line and in the realm of morality, it means to violate what is expected and acceptable.  In terms of the ethical or moral climate, “transgression” could refer to a violation of a trust, the breaking of a vow or covenant.  In another age, such a transgression would have caused a certain degree of stigma.  However, most people today do not take a second glance when they hear such news.  In fact, people are rushing to claim they shared in Tiger Woods’ “transgression”. 

            The Scriptures define “transgression” as sin.  “Sin” means to miss the mark that has been set as the target for acceptable behavior.  It means to cross the line or course that has been set as a barrier to protect one from certain consequences that come as a result of violating the parameters put in place by God.  Those boundaries are not put there to deprive one, but to protect one from going beyond the safe zone.  When one insists on crossing the line, he sins.  That is, he violates the rules of acceptable behavior.  See I John 3:2. 

            When people sin, it seems they almost never think they will be discovered.  They believe they are being discreet and their secret will be guarded.  However, that is almost never the case.

In fact, the Scriptures promise “your sins will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)  King David could testify as to how hard it is to cover sin. (II Samuel 11-12, Psalms 51:1-4) 

            If one wishes to see a “catalog of sin”, such a list is found in several places in Scripture.  Some examples are found in the following passages. 

            Galatians 5:19-21

            I Corinthians 6:7-20

            Revelation 21:8

            Proverbs 6:16-19 

            One of the most often used excuses for sin is that it (whatever is at issue) is “done by everyone”.  However, God specifically said one cannot justify sin in that way.  His admonition is that we should “not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2) besides, it never is true that all are involved in any given misbehavior (sin). 

            There are always consequences that follow sin.  God spoke of the consequences which would result from Israel’s failure to keep His commandments in Leviticus 26:14-43.  One of the results is the fact that innocent people are affected by the actions of others.  Often, it is those whom one loves most who suffer for his bad choice, thus his “transgression”.  Children often view such behavior as acceptable when they see it in adults whom they love.  In the next generation, they also make similar mistakes, due to the poor mentoring they have received.  

            Ultimately, everyone sins (Romans 3:10, 23), however, through Jesus, there can be forgiveness (Romans 6:23).  No wonder, He is our Hope. (Colossians 1:27) 

W. E. (Willie) Hamblen

www.Good-News-Network.org 
newsletter@Good-News-Network.org

           

HOW TO SAVE THE EARTH

December 8, 2009

 HOW TO SAVE THE EARTH  

Earth Day is a relatively new concept in the culture of North America.  On the other hand, it is apparent that Native Americans were very conscious of the need to save the earth for future generations.  When one removes the politics involved in the need to conserve, there are definite signs we need a consciousness of what God has provided and the need to treat it respect and appreciation. 

 Laying aside the “global warming” arguments and the attending political agendas, and the “going green” hype, there is biblical precedent to support the notion that Christians should consider their relationship to the earth.  While the church usually focuses (and it should) on saving souls, there is a moral principle that requires that each generation insure the continuation of provisions for the next.  

Some basic truths that are involved include the following:

1.                  We are part of the earth (at least for awhile).

2.                  We are part of each other.

3.                  Those that follow depend upon us to leave something.

4.                  What we have received, we should pass on to another generation.   

            While the earth is capable of providing food for over 6.5 billion people, if it is abused and not properly respected, some will go hungry.  Some are hungry now.  There are those who are trying desperately to spread the availability of food, but they need help.  The job being done by some is remarkable, but it still is not enough.  More are needed to participate.   

            It is reported that the solid waste generated in the United States every year is enough to fill a four-lane highway, stacked 10 feet deep, and long enough to circle the earth.  Over half the landfills in the country are 80% filled and few new ones are being permitted each decade.  A country that has enjoyed affluence has learned to be less than concerned for conservation.  

            Points to bring into consideration on the question of saving the earth should include:   

I.                   THE EARTH BELONGS TO GOD (Psalms 24:1)   

            “The earth is the Lord’s , and all its fullness, the world and those that dwell therein.” 

            God created the earth for His purposes.  He put man here to care for the earth according to Genesis 2:15-17.  He is in charge, according to Psalms 47:7.   

            “For God is the King of all the earth.  Sing to him a psalm of praise.”  

            Among the provisions God gave for conserving the earth was the establishment of the Year of Jubilee.  Notice instructions to its purpose in Leviticus 25:3-4, 11-12, and 18-22).  God knew the earth would need rest and provided that rest in this part of the Law of Moses.   

II.                JESUS PRACTICED CONSERVATION   

            While it is true the the primary role of Jesus on the earth was to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), He demonstrated a consciousness of the need to conserve.  Note the cases when he did the miracles to create sufficient food to provide for 5,000 people on one occasion and 4,000 on another occasion.  In both cases, he instructed that the leftovers be collected.  In so doing, He taught a lesson opposing waste and demonstrated that littering is inappropriate.  Find Matthew’s record of these events in chapter 14:13-21 and chapter 15: 32-37.   

III.             WE WHO “SOJOURN” HERE ARE TO BE STEWARDS

             The earth still belongs to God.  We who live here awhile should take care of the earth as He has instructed.  We get to use it for awhile, but it is not ours.  Psalms 119:19 presents a very important point that we should remember.  “I am a stranger on earth.”  The Apostle Peter reminded Christians in I Peter 2:11-12 that we need to see ourselves as “strangers and pilgrims” in our time on the earth.  It does not belong to us.  We borrow and use it for a season. 

             With Jesus, our first calling is to save souls.  While we use this earth as a stage, on which to perform our calling, we should seek to preserve it and conserve it for those who follow.

 W. E. (WILLIE) HAMBLEN 

www.Good-News-Network.org

newsletter@Good-News-Network.org

THANKSGIVING – Is it a religious holiday?

November 25, 2009

www.Good-News-Network.org 

THANKSGIVING

  (Is it a religious holiday?)  

            People in the United States celebrate several holidays every year.  Other countries have their own special days too.  As for the holidays celebrated in the United States, a good many have a religious connection and some are celebrated in religious ways.  However, most of those holidays have no legitimate biblical connection, though people of the Christian faith celebrate them religiously.     

            Examples of holidays that often are celebrated religiously, but have no biblical basis are Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.  Quickly, some will argue that Christmas is based on the birth of Jesus and Easter is to celebrate His resurrection.  That is the case in the mind of those who see the holidays as religious.  However, there is no place in the New Testament that instructs to celebrate the birth of Jesus and there is no place that instructs to celebrate one first day of the week above another.    

            There is no record of the apostles and the early church celebrating the birth of Jesus and no indication that they every celebrated his resurrection on a “special” first day of the week.  It is apparent that the early church remembered the resurrection every first day of the week, with equal significance given to each.    

            Halloween is based on superstition and has its roots in witchcraft and sorcery, both of which are condemned in the Bible.  Yet people of the Christian faith seem to participate in the celebrations just as do those who subscribe to the practice of witchcraft and who believe in witches and ghosts.  There is no biblical basis for the celebrations and no biblical authority nor precedent for Christians to participate.    

            Thanksgiving, however, is another issue.  A Christian can celebrate Thanksgiving with every reason to feel religious about it.  If there is an American holiday that has biblical basis, it is Thanksgiving.  The forefathers of this country first introduced the idea of having a special day set apart to offer thanks to God.  In the summer of 1621, the Plymouth Colony stopped to give thanks in what is deemed “the first Thanksgiving”. The following year brought drought and there was a day of prayer.  In the years 1777-1784, each year the Continental Congress issued a proclamation for a special day of thanksgiving.  The leaders in the Continental Congress definitely believed that the thanks should be given to God, as they made multiple references to Him in their Proclamations.  The references to God in those proclamations numbered as follows:    

             1777- 13 references 

             1778- 6 references 

             1779- 9 references 

             1780- 8 references 

             1781- 9 references 

             1782- 10 references 

             1783- 15 references 

             1784- 16 references    

            In 1889, George Washington issued a proclamation for a day of thanksgiving, with 14 references to God.  Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 made the celebration of Thanksgiving an official national holiday for the first time.  Since Washington first proclaimed a day of thanksgiving, 28 more presidents have also issued similar proclamations.  As recently as 2008, George W. Bush issued a proclamation containing 8 references to God and five quotes from Washington and Lincoln.    

            The Bible is replete with references to the need for an attitude of gratitude.  In the Old Testament, examples of such exhortation are found in: 

            Psalms 100: 1-5 

            Psalms 69:30  “I will magnify Him with Thanksgiving.” 

            Psalms 95:2   “Come before His face with Thanksgiving.”           

 Thanksgiving was often expressed through songs in the Old Testament.  

See examples in the following:

          Psalms 147: 7  “Sing unto the Lord with Thanksgiving.”                        

          Nehemiah 12:27-28a, 31, 38, 46-47 

             At a dedication of the re-built Jerusalem wall.

            It was also made clear in the Old Testament that it was a serious offense to fail to acknowledge God as the source of all blessings.  Note the message in the following passages. 

            Psalms 103:1-22, Deuteronomy  8: 10-20   

            The New Testament also urged gratitude in the mind of the followers of Christianity.  Consider the following.    

            Colossians 3: 12-16  “Above all, be grateful” 

             Ephesians 5:19-20    “Always giving thanks”
            I Thessalonians 5:16-18  “In all things, give thanks.”    

            Even in John’s Revelation, which offers a glimpse of Heaven, thanksgiving is shown to be a part of the spirit of those found there.  

Note:  Revelation 4:9 and Revelation 7:11-12    

            Therefore, it is clear than Thanksgiving Day is a day Christians can definitely celebrate with religious conviction. Still, there is no proclamation in the Bible that indicates one should be thankful just one day of the year, we are to be grateful to God for all things, all the time.  

  W. E. (Willie) Hamblen

newsletter@good-news-network.org