My Great-Grandmother’s Gift To Me

20140929_143635When I was just a little boy, my great-grandmother gave me a couple 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars. With my parents’ help, I’ve been able to keep them through the years without losing them. The coins my great-grandmother gave me weren’t in “mint” condition, but to me their value isn’t measured in silver, but in sentiment.

Now with that said, allow me to make a point from my great-grandmother’s silver dollars.  The picture you see above contains only one of the silver dollars my great-grandmother gave me. The other silver dollar is a counterfeit.  (Go ahead and double click on the picture to make it larger and compare the two coins).  Both coins have the appearance of age (one artificially induced).  Both look silver, but only one is actually silver, the other is a brass slug made to look silver.  Both coins weigh the same amount.  Both coins involve intricate artwork and design. But only one of the coins is the genuine item.  The other is a counterfeit, manufactured in China, and intended to deceive novice coin collectors.

Careful examination of the two coins can reveal which is real and which is counterfeit.  One is a bit thicker than the other.  When you drop them, one has a “ring” of genuine currency, while the other has a dull sound.  One contains a few flaws, especially on the flip side of the coin that exposes it as a counterfeit.  But my point is this…unless you’re really informed and vigilant, you could easily be deceived into accepting what is worthless when you thought you were in possession of something of value.

Do you see how the same thing can occur with respect to the church and Christianity?  Jesus promised to build his church (Matthew 16:18).  Since that time, the Devil’s most effective tactic to keep you out of the church is to flood the world with counterfeits.  No church presents itself as a counterfeit.  All of them have features that resemble the real thing.  But similarity is not sufficient.  We’re looking for the real thing.  Please friends, regardless of what church you’re a part of, investigate and compare what you’re investing yourself into with the trustworthy standard of God’s word.

(Want to guess which one is real and which one is counterfeit?  Leave your guess in the comments).

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A Useful Bible Study Tool

penHave you ever “ruined” a Bible by using a marker that bled through the other side of the page?  Have you ever torn a page while trying to highlight or underline a text with a pen?  Have you ever “smudged” a page because the ink wasn’t dry when you turned the page?  Are you like me in that you have searched for the perfect Bible highlighter?  If so, you may not need to search anymore!

Several years ago, my dad gave me a “Pentel Automatic Crayon Pencil” as a gift, and I’ve loved it ever since!  It’s been so useful to me, that I keep one on my desk in my office, and one on my bed side table at home. This pen is the perfect Bible highlighter!

Here are a few features:

  • It holds 8 different colors of markers.  With a simple twist, you can change from one color to another. This allows you, if you want, to color code some of your highlights as you wish.  This also keeps you from having to keep up with four or five different colored highlighters.
  • You can easily purchase refills without having to purchase a new pen.
  • The best feature, in my opinion, is that the “crayon” highlighters do not smudge, bleed through the page, or require a lot of force to highlight on the page.

If you like to mark in your Bible, this may be the perfect Bible highlighter for you.  Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.

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Guard Your Eyes (A Facebook Rant)

King David once said, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3).  That rule of life by which the psalmist lived is a rule of life we need to consider, yet today. I know there is evil in the world.  I know that men can do horrific things to other men.  I know that terrible crimes are being committed against fellow human beings somewhere in this world as I type this article, but I don’t need or want to be exposed to a video of it!

I understand what a beheading is without someone posting a gruesome video of one.  I understand the carnage of lining dozens of men up on their knees, whose hands are tied behind their backs, and summarily executing them. However, I don’t need to see a video to grasp the horror and sinfulness of such actions.

I’m disturbed that Christians can post such videos on their Facebook pages for all the world to see, then stand in the pulpit, or stand in Bible class, or sit down with their own children and grandchildren, and instruct them not to attend certain movies that are rated “R” because of the violence.  If we don’t want to set “make-believe violence” before the eyes of our children, then what logic allows us to set real violence before our children?

The images we set before our eyes are not easily forgotten.  Many images we see will remain with us for the rest of our lives.  Are these the images we want engraved in our minds?  Better yet, are these the images we want engraved in the minds of our youth, who happen to see these videos on their Facebook feeds?

What makes us think it is alright to post a graphic video of a murder?  Whatever that rationale may be, would it also apply to rape?  Would anyone think it’s appropriate to voyeuristically watch and post a graphic video of rape on Facebook?  Is rape more offensive than murder?  To me, it seems to be a rather strange ethical standard that would allow one and prohibit the other.

Friends, I’m not saying that we should look the other way while atrocities occur in this world. I’m not saying we should be ignorant of the threats to life and freedom.  What I am saying is that indiscriminately sharing graphic depictions of such atrocities on Facebook is not a solution, but just another part of the problem. Please share what you think in the comments section.

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16094667_mOne Sunday morning, a preacher pointed out to one of the elders that the flower arrangement that sits in front of the pulpit was missing. The elder hadn’t noticed it, but he certainly did now. This elder pulled all the other elders to the side and asked them if they had any knowledge of what had happened to the flower arrangement. None of them knew; so the search for the missing flower arrangement was on.

The elders called a special meeting with the deacons and asked them to help locate this arrangement due to its great value; after all, the florist billed the church several hundred dollars for that arrangement. Every room in the church building, every closet, and every cabinet was turned upside down looking for that missing flower arrangement. Announcements were made in the church bulletin, emails were sent out, and even a phone tree message was sent to every family in the church. Still, they had no luck in recovering the missing flower arrangement.

After looking at a “bare” pulpit for a month, the preacher got up to preach, reached down behind the pulpit, pulled out the missing flower arrangement, and placed it on its rightful stand in front of the pulpit. There were audible sighs of relief that could be heard from the unsuspecting congregation. But what followed next was this preacher’s shortest, and perhaps his best and most convicting sermon he ever preached. He simply said, “I must confess, I am the one who took the flower arrangement. Why? Because I just wanted to see if, as a church, we were more stirred and moved to action by a missing flower arrangement than we were a missing soul.”

Well, what about you? If you were a member of that church, would you have been convicted of misplaced priorities that morning? Give it some thought.

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Twice Owned

20140807_200404One of the pleasant memories my wife has of her childhood is when she and her father would perform a duet together. Kim would play the piano and her father would play the fiddle. Their duets brought them a lot of joy and family fun.

However, Kim’s dad suffered from the crippling effects of rheumatoid arthritis. By the age of 35, he was disabled and could no longer work.  Eventually his hands became so distorted from the effects of his arthritis, playing his fiddle became impossible.  So Kim’s dad reluctantly sold his fiddle, and used the money to support his family.

Fast-forward twenty years.  Kim’s dad had passed away, and for a Christmas gift, I determined to try to locate the fiddle her dad once owned and sold. Fortunately, with a little help from Kim’s sister, we were able to locate the person who purchased his fiddle, and he still had it in his possession.

The present owner of the fiddle knew that he had something of great value to me, and he asked for much more than what most people would think the fiddle was worth.  But to me, I would have paid any price so that Kim could own that fiddle again.

That purchase gives me a little insight into how God must have felt when he bought us back with the blood of his Son.  How much must God love us to pay such a high price to own us again?

Friends, don’t ever doubt that God loves you.  He paid a fantastic price so that you could be twice owned!

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