Am I All That?

Am I being the image of Jesus he calls me to be?

Do I serve like he serves, knowing that some whom I serve will be ungrateful or apathetic? I am so glad he keeps on serving even though the ungrateful one is often me.

Do I have compassion like him? I have tons of compassion. Well, okay, is mostly for myself, but isn’t that still compassion? No one throws as good a pity party. You may have even been invited.

Am I forgiving the way he is? Not once has Jesus ever savored the “power” of having something to hold over another. Yes, that does feel good, doesn’t it, that feeling of superiority over someone who’s messed up? Wow; I am so glad that I am to learn from Jesus, when it comes to forgiving rather that he from me.

Am I humble as he is humble? He allowed himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter for my sake. But me? I am independent and self-sufficient and I refuse to be led anywhere. Well, okay, I am writing this, so I suppose I am somewhat open to being led even if sometimes it is more like I am being dragged along while kicking and screaming. Is that sufficient humility?

I haven’t gotten it quite right yet; how about you?

Jesus said, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’”, Luke 17:10

Encouraged to Encourage

My computer immediately put a blue line under the second “Encourage” above, meaning the system program questions the legitimacy of this word in that place.

But there is no question in our minds about the value of encouragement, is there? I mean, when is it out of place to put some courage into someone to help them do well?

If you could go back in time, whom would you like to think that you would have encouraged?

Would you have encouraged Eve to be satisfied with what she already had? How much suffering a little positive influence may have saved. It boggles the mind.

What about Cain? Would you have nudged him to humble himself and be blessed?

What would you have said to the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt that might have kept them from losing faith and dying in the wilderness?

What would you have said to Mary, when she was a young girl carrying a baby out of wedlock who would grow up to save us all?

How about when John was imprisoned, waiting to be executed unjustly? Do you believe he could have benefitted from a positive word from you?

Yes, if we had only been there back then!

But we weren’t there then, we are only here now. So what will the record of history show that you did encourage? Perhaps more importantly, WHOM will the record show that you encouraged?

Look around you….. the opportunities to put courage into someone who needs it are literally unlimited!

Court is Now in Session

A man by the name of Derek Chauvin is presently on trial for the death of another man named George Floyd.

It is feared that there may be reprisals if the outcome does not satisfy those whose minds are already made up regarding his guilt. Perhaps this fact, more so than the actual verdict, is what scares most folks the most.

Regardless of how passionately some feel about this case, there is coming a day when this trial and all others like it will be the farthest things from all of our minds.

On that day we will each be called before our Creator to give an account for ourselves. We will be the ones on trial, and even the best of us are sure to be found guilty and eternally condemned.

And no one will dispute the verdict. Sentence will be passed and there will be no appeal. Our deeds will be evident to all and the question of our guilt will be settled. We have lied, we have stolen, we have lusted, hated, sworn, scorned, cheated, deceived, disobeyed, injured, maligned, gossiped, fornicated, abused, debased, ignored, profaned, indulged, mocked, perverted, ridiculed, bullied, betrayed, attacked, cowered, neglected, vaunted & presumed too many times for us to recall. But it will all be there for everyone to see clearly and nothing will be overlooked.

There is hope, however. The judge, it seems, has arranged for his son to be our defense attorney if we want him to do so. What’s more, he has even arranged for his son to pay the debt for our lawlessness long before we get to trial. In fact, his plan confers his son’s perfect righteousness on each of us in exchange for our faith so that we can stand before the judge (the father and appointer of our lawyer) with nothing but his son’s righteousness showing on us.

This fantastic deal is available to everyone, but sadly, not everyone will avail themselves of it. In fact, few will seek it out, even though it has been available for around 2,000 years now.

But what will you do? Will Jesus be your hope? Will you be found “Not Guilty” by reason of Jesus’ sacrifice?

Or….. will you be one of those many who failed to appreciate what both the judge and his son have done for you?

As always, your choice; but you need to understand that your trial date has already been set.

To God Be the Glory

Here are pictures and names of the Gonzalez family who were baptized by Gumer Gonzales (brother to the father of this family) who was converted through BibleTalk & our website.

About time we had some good news, huh?

— Marty

The pictures of their baptism that took place at our home by our brother in Christ on 4/4/2021. My brother in law Yerik Gonzalez, his wife Ivette, son Yerik and daughter Julia and my mother in law Felicita Casas.

To the glory of God and his faithfulness and for testimony to the wonderful ministry in the Choctaw Church of Christ. God bless.

Sincerely,

Janet Rodriguez

The Resurrection of Christ

This coming weekend is Easter Sunday. The day known around America as the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. His resurrection was predicted in the Old Testament and came to fruition in the New and this is the day our country has set aside to celebrate the plan God put together at the very beginning of time so that we may have a hope of being in Heaven with Him. So, as people all over the world reflect on Jesus’ resurrection, let us take time to do so as well.

In John 17: 1-26, Jesus is in the garden praying to the Lord before His crucifixion. While praying, not only does He speak about His resurrection but in the same breath prays for something specific. He specifically prayed for this one thing several times: unity among believers. First, among the disciples in verses 6-19 and then for us; those “Who would believe in Me through the hearing of their Word” in verses 20-26. Each time Jesus prays, He says for, “Them to be one as You and I are one.” speaking of the believers being united as Jesus and God are.

Why would unity be a focus of Jesus’ prayer? There are many answers, but I believe they all stem from one core answer, and that is: ununified believers are unsuccessful at spreading the Gospel. Down at the very core of our Christianity, our mission is to spread the Word of Christ. That is the point of establishing a church in an area. Ununified believers will focus on “internal problems” instead of coming together over small things and going out to save souls. Ununified believers don’t show the outward love that attracts people to listening to the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection. Just turn on any movie and you can see what society thinks of Christians. Any ununified sports team would play very poorly until they come together, and this truth is no different for the Church; except that this isn’t a game.

So, as we come together this Sunday and every Sunday after to celebrate the death and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, let us remember what Jesus Himself said and asked for of God when He ascended to the Father; unity among believers.

Psalm 133, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!

For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”

Are You Raising Good People?
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will drive it far from him”, Proverbs 22:15

Children are foolish unless we teach & train them to be otherwise. If you want to avoid having foolish children, you have to put forth some effort. Trust me, it is not easy, and you won’t get it right all the time, but God provides some guidance and authorizes you to enforce it.

Eli was a priest, but God brought judgment against his house because he refused to restrain his sons from evil (1st Samuel 2:12-17 & 3:11-14). What is the lesson for us?

Restrain your children, parents. Yes, I know, you’re told by the “experts” that you will stunt their growth and curb their creativity if you rein them in. Wrong. Teach and enforce manners. Teach and enforce respectful behavior. Teach and enforce fairness & thoughtfulness towards others. Point them firmly in the right direction. Imagine them as the arrows they are described as in Psalm 127:4; will you allow them to be shot about at random, or will you carefully aim them at specific worthwhile targets?

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently”, Proverbs 13:24

Wow! God says being lax in discipline is hatred towards a child. The world calls a good spanking abuse. But what would we expect the devil’s world to say? This teaching of God’s needs to be observed like all the rest. When your children challenge your authority as parents, it is time to take immediate action.

“Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death….Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol”Proverbs 19:18 & 23:13-14

You only have so much time to shape their thinking, so start early and be consistent. Isn’t it interesting that God says spanking our children won’t kill them, but refusing to do so will?

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it”, Proverbs 22:6

Godly adults are no accident. Someone showed them how. You are the parent. You are the adult and showing your children how to be Godly is your number one responsibility.

What to Do If You Are Sad

1. Give your sadness time – While pain resulting from an injury (either physical or emotional) is usually the greatest at first, the process of healing begins almost immediately. It is a process, however, and cannot be rushed. Give yourself permission to hurt for a while and allow the hurt to subside. Even Jobs three “friends” sat quietly with him for seven days , saying nothing (Job 2:11-13).

2. Pray – James wrote, “Is anyone suffering, let him pray”, (5:13). Perhaps James took his cue from Jesus who in his extreme distress went to his father in prayer (Matthew 26:36-46). Talk specifically about your sadness to God. In trying to express it to him, you may figure a lot of things out for yourself. Only opening up to God can provide the peace that is beyond explaining (see Philippians 4:6-7 on that).

3. Do the next most right thing you can think of, regardless of how small and unrelated it may seem. Restore some order to offset the pain – time is still moving forward, and you must eventually move on with it. Make your bed. Do the dishes. Mow the yard, etc. God did not put Adam in the garden to relax and take it easy, but to till it and to keep it (Genesis 2:15). We cultivate happiness when we do what is good as we were designed to do.

4. Serve – do something for someone else who needs it. We are not meant to spend our lives thinking of ourselves. Encourage someone in person or over the phone. Make cookies for a neighbor. Visit a shut-in, etc. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Following his example always leads us upwards!

5. Count your blessings – there are always good things on which you can focus. This will help you see how much good there is in your life which helps to cope with that which is not so good. All in keeping with two Biblical admonitions… A) to think on things worthy of praise, Philippians 4:8, and… B) to set our minds on things above, Colossians 3:1-2.

Keeping a Blessing, a Blessing

Live streaming! Who would have thought 20+ years ago that the Lord’s people while physically separated could stay in touch with worship & Bible classes through the internet? I have thanked God many times for this technology.

Circumstances have often dictated temporary interruptions. Snow, ice, hail storms, tornadoes, power-outages, etc. have all proven to be good reasons to cancel or postpone assemblies. After such threats pass, however, the church comes back together.

I believe we have done well to observe for a while some reasonable restrictions for everyone’s health & safety. Even Miriam, Moses’ sister, had to be “quarantined” outside the camp for a time when stricken with leprosy (see Numbers 12:1-15). After a time, however, Miriam was received back into the camp and they all moved on.

We too, have had a time “outside the camp”. I am grateful for our technology that has helped us through our separation from one another. My concern now is that some will come to see the internet as a substitute for assembling in person.

Please don’t let that be you! I encourage you to refuse to allow such a good blessing to become a curse. While being much better than total isolation, live streaming is surely no substitute in the mind of God for our actually coming together.

The Good Lord longs for your presence, and so do the rest of us. As Psalm 100 exhorts, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

How are People Made?

Well, of course we know what must be done to get a baby, right? This alone shows us that it is not by means of our genius that these little blessings come into being.

The physical body of a baby is a miraculous sort of thing. You have a nearly microscopic egg that is fertilized by a single microscopic sperm and voila, you have all the makings of a tiny person, and in nine months or so, there he is without any real conscious effort on the part of mom or dad at all. Even though we all got our start this way, the process from beginning to end surpasses all convention of human design & construction.

What about the sentient consciousness that makes people people? There is the real mystery; the coming to be of a mind that observes, thinks and reasons on the physical level, but also on a much higher and more intricately complex level as well. It is so commonplace that we simply take it for granted that all human beings think and reason in the abstract, of morality and of right & wrong.

Where does all of this come from since none of it is of our making?

Does it not seem to you that if human life were merely the accidental result of the interaction of elements over time, that we could figure out in the laboratory? But we’ve never even come close. Not a single scientist understands our existence.

But God does. He understands because he is the author of our lives. It follows that he understands you and me too, who and what we are!

Isn’t that what we all want, to be understood? That’s what God does. He understands us even though we don’t fully understand ourselves. That’s why he sent Jesus because he understood our need for a savior. That’s why he’s prepared a place for us because he understood our need for a home, a real, lasting home.

For sure, only God understands how people are made, and only God can bring us home.

CHASING MY TAIL!

Have you ever watched a dog chase his tail? He works at it so hard but most times he is unsuccessful in capturing that elusive target. No matter how many times he tries or how hard he tries, it seems just out of his reach. Oh, occasionally he grasps it, but when he does, he can't continue that way. He has no hope in his victory, but it doesn't stop him from trying.

As for my Christian walk, I often feel like that dog chasing his tail. I try to live a Christ-like life, but no matter how hard I try, it eludes me. One day I think I've done a good job, until I really examine my day and realize I fell short in so many ways. Occasionally, I seem to seize the idea of how I should conduct myself, only to recognize I cannot maintain my grip. It slips away from me. All the while, Satan laughs at my struggle as we do a dog chasing his tail.

But the difference, the comfort and assurance, is that as a Christian I have hope! God is interested in my struggle. He understands that, unlike the dog with no chance of holding on to his tail, I will eventually be rewarded a winner in Christ Jesus for my efforts. Contrary to the dog, who usually gives up and seeks other activities, I must continue the chase until He calls me home to my success. God has promised to allow me to live with Him because His Son bought me a long time ago.

So Christians, take heart. God is aware of your chase and if you obey His gospel, He will give us victory!

1 Cor. 15:57-58..."But thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."