A New Phone App

ph6_foldtransparentI want to inform everyone of a new app that will update and replace my old app called “iDevotions.” This new app is called “Preaching Help,” and will contain what was on the old “iDevotions” app, plus more. Presently, the app is available for download for the iPhone/iPad and will soon be available on the Android platform.

History
In 2010, I decided to create an app that would provide people with daily devotional material as well as other things. The only hitch was that I knew nothing about programming.  So I learned of a brother in Christ named Tyler Brassfield, who was a programmer.  Tyler did a great job and creating my app, and at a very affordable cost  (if you’re thinking about creating an app, check with Tyler).  That app had over 5,600 downloads, which I thought was a great success.

The New App
The new app will still contain most of what “iDevotions” contained as well as some new features.  Here’s what you will have access to in the new app:

  1. Weekly Sermons preached at the Karns Church of Christ.  These sermons will be available in audio and video for streaming or download and playback.
  2. MercEmail articles.  These are brief, daily, devotional messages that are intended to encourage or be thought provoking.
  3. Blog.  This app will also make available the the blog articles I write at preachinghelp.org.
  4. Bible Meditations is a new feature to the app.  This will contain archives of my dad, Frank Higginbotham’s, daily radio program he recorded for over 40 years.  These are approximately 7-10 minutes in length.

How You Can Help

  1. Please download the app and give it a try.  You can download from Apple’s App Store.
  2. If you’re an Android user like myself, just be patient.  We’re working on the Android platform and it will be available soon.
  3. Please help spread the news and tell others about this app.  Share this with people in your congregations, or your friends in your contact list.
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The Thief on the Cross

The day Jesus died was a day in which the creation crucified the Creator. Yet, by the irony of divine wisdom, God used this gruesome means of taking life to give life! Not only did Jesus hang on that center cross, but so did the hope of all humanity.  This moment in time, and the transaction that took place on that day, was without question the defining moment in history.

But if that be the case, why is the record of Jesus’ death cluttered with peripheral information about the death of an irrelevant thief who also died that day?  Surely, there’s a bigger story here in the death of Jesus, than to waste ink on the deserved death of a thief.

Well, may I suggest that the death of the thief is not an irrelevant, peripheral event, but an important part of a bigger story? You see, the cross of Jesus proclaims the depth of God’s love in that he was willing to give his only Son (John 3:16).  But alongside that proclamation is the proclamation from the cross upon which the thief died.  This cross proclaimed the scope of God’s love.

The message from the thief’s cross speaks to all of us who struggle with guilt for wasting so much of our lives in sin.  It speaks to those of us who have waited much too long to surrender to Jesus.  It speaks to all of us who have nothing left to offer God but an apology.  The thief’s cross announces that God is a God of grace!

I hope we can find peace in that truth.  Without the cross of Jesus there would be no hope.  But without the thief’s cross, maybe we would doubt if the redemption Jesus secured could reach a sinner like me!

When the thief on the cross had nothing left to offer God but an apology, Jesus promised him Paradise! Thank God for the the redemption procured on the cross of Christ, and also for the hope that is illustrated by the thief’s cross.

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A Brush With Fame

dungy1Have you ever had a brush with fame? I had a professor in college who used to tell, in great detail, how he once sat next to Elizabeth Taylor on a flight. A Christian lady whom I once knew liked to tell how Tex Ritter came to her door after having an automobile accident, wanting to use her phone. Even my wife likes to tell of once sharing a bathroom mirror with Dr. Joyce Brothers. Many of you have similar accounts. I know, I’ve seen your pictures on Facebook! :-)

There’s just something about having a close encounter with a notable person. Those brief encounters remain with us for a lifetime, and we tell our story over and over again to all who will listen.

But now, here’s the thought. For those of you who are Christians, the Creator of this universe is your Heavenly Father. He’s not just your Master, he’s your Father (Galatians 4:6). You’re not just his servant, you’re his child (1 John 3:1).

Imagine that! Let that soak in! In God, you’ve had more than a “brush with fame,” you’re actually his child! Let that story be a lifelong story that you tell over and over to all who will listen!

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Hate Speech

hatespeechbibleRainbow2Is the church guilty of hate speech?  Some would emphatically deny it, but I would be more inclined to say, “guilty as charged.”  Now, don’t dismiss me and stop reading; please hear me out.

I’m not suggesting that the church is guilty of “hate speech from the pulpit.  I would imagine the vast majority of sermons preached from the pulpit with respect to homosexual behavior do not involve “hate speech.” Grant it, they expose homosexual behavior to be sinful (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  I’m sure these sermons will warn of allowing sin to have dominion over one’s life (Romans 6:14), and they will warn of the temporal and eternal consequences of practicing sin (Romans 1:26-27,32).  But surely the rule is that these truths are spoken with the intent to save, and not merely condemn.  The truth, spoken in love, is not hate speech, no matter how it may be received.

However, while I don’t think “hate speech” frequently occurs from the pulpit, I’m not so sure it doesn’t occur in our foyers, fellowship halls, and homes.  What do I mean?  Let me give you an example. Have you ever been in the presence of a brother or sister in Christ while they make insinuating remarks about men who may have some effeminate traits or women who have some masculine traits?  Have you ever been in the presence of a brother or sister in Christ as they questioned the reasons behind the “singleness” of a particular man or woman?  Have you ever been with brothers and sisters in Christ when someone re-enacted a caricature of a limp-wristed, lispy-voiced man or a gruffly-voiced “butchy” type woman?  Better yet, have you ever done it yourself?

Tell me, if you were a person who was secretly struggling with same-sex attraction, but wanting to do right, how would you feel if you were part of this jovial circle of brethren?  Or what if you were parents or siblings of a loved one who was struggling with same-sex attraction, how would you feel?

Such speech alienates those who struggle with  this sinful behavior.  It assures that this person who struggles with this will never approach these fellow Christians for help or understanding. Furthermore, it assures that the family members who guard their loved one’s secret struggle will never ask these fellow Christians to help share their heavy burden.

That said, how can such speech be classified as anything but “hate speech?”

Friends, we need to be a people who stand uncompromisingly against sin, but we also need to be a people who relentlessly love the sinner.  We need to create an environment where sin can be confessed and abandoned, and sinners can find patience, love, and support.  We need to create an environment in which repentant sinners can overcome their past as well as their shame (2 Corinthians 2:7-8). That will never happen as long as we engage in “hate speech.”

While our culture argues about how to define and apply the law with regard to “hate speech,” and while we worry about how this may or may not impact what is said from our pulpits, maybe we ought to give more attention to what is said in our foyers and pews than in our pulpits with respect to “hate speech.”  What do you think?

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205 Virginia Avenue

205205 Virginia Avenue…That’s the address of just one of the 1292  houses in the small town of Chester, WV.  But it’s more than that to me.  It’s “my” house.  It’s the house I grew up in from the time I was two years old until I went off to college and got married.  For the past 30 years, it’s been the house I went to when I visited with my mom and dad.  In all, this house has been occupied by my family and me for the past 51 years!  However all that comes to an end this weekend when my mom vacates this house and goes to live with my sister two hours away.  I never dreamed that leaving behind bricks, mortar, and shingles would be so difficult.

The thought of never again coming back to 205 Virginia Avenue and never again dialing 387-1680 leaves a lump in my throat that I just can’t seem to swallow.  You see, for me, 205 Virginia Avenue isn’t just a mailing address, it’s home.  It’s where I was loved, raised, praised, and disciplined.  It’s where I was taught how to live.

It was in this house where my mom would read me Bible stories, and even teach the neighborhood children.  It was in this house that I would “holler” to my dad from my bedroom late at night to ask him Bible questions.  And instead of telling me it was bed time, he would take the time to “holler” back answers and explanations until I was satisfied.  It was in this house that my sister and I would fold church bulletins on TV trays every Saturday night, and fuss about who had to fold the most.

It was in the shadow of this house that I played hide-n-seek, “army,” baseball, basketball, football, and street hockey. It was on the sidewalks of this house that my dad taught me how to ride a bike. It was here where I learned to mow a yard, and trim/edge a sidewalk (without a weed-eater).  And it was here that my dad taught me how to meticulously care for a car.

So you see, this is why 205 Virginia Avenue is more than bricks and mortar to me.  To me, it’s about family.  It’s about Grandparents, the Nicola’s, the Rine’s, and the Seelbach’s and our New Year Reunions.  But mostly, it’s about my mom, dad, and sister and the memories we created there; memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

So I say goodbye to 205 Virginia Avenue this weekend.  Although we will never occupy this house again, at least in my mind, I can still clearly hear the voices of my mom, dad, and sister, echoing within its rooms.

May the next occupants of this house experience the same kind of joy, love, and pleasant memories with which I have been so blessed.  And if they find any scratches in the hardwood floor, cedar closets, or plaster, I want them to know that my sister did it, not me!

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