Back on the right track

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well. Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2.1-3

Timothy was a young man. Paul considered him as a son in the faith. He encourages Timothy to teach faithful people what he himself has heard Paul teach others. These people need to be able to teach others so that the gospel will spread.

Paul is encouraging Timothy to think on some general principles. He gives three examples of people and their situations in life: a soldier, an athlete, and the farmer. The soldier is only valuable if he stays focused on his mission. If he becomes distracted with civilian life, he can lose his focus and put all in jeopardy. An athlete will not be crowned the winner if he does not abide by the rules of the sport. If he breaks the rules, he is disqualified. Finally, the farmer who sows the seed and works hard to have a crop should be the first to reap the benefits of his labor. However, if he does not work then there will be no crop.

Paul encourages Timothy to think about what he was telling him. We understand that Timothy was easily caught up in discussions that were not productive in any way. Apparently he was fearful to take a stand or perhaps to offend. Paul gently points him back to the right track where focus and persistence are necessary.

We need to be careful and heed Paul’s words. We need to stay focused on what is important which is teaching others who can teach others. This is our mission.

#risingjoy #2-Timothy #focus

Jesus had a focal point

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. Hebrews 12.1-3

During my first pregnancy, my husband and I took Lamaze classes at the local hospital. I learned how to breathe my way through labor by having a breathing technique and a focal point. My focal point in my first pregnancy was a tiny red bear. Without a doubt, focusing on that little bear helped me to manage the labor pains in a positive way.

We are in a race. The prize for those who finish the race is a heavenly one. There will be many distractions thrown our way to slow us down or take us out of the race all together. We cannot let that happen. The great cloud of witnesses that are cheering for us are those who are mentioned in Hebrews 11.

We must get rid of the things that weigh us down as well as the sin that is so tempting. God has promised an escape from the temptations if I will but look for it, 1 Corinthians 10.13. This race is one of endurance.

To win this race, we have to have a sharp focus. We can have no better focus than Jesus. He has already run the race and finished it. Jesus had a focal point. It was the joy set before him of sitting at the right hand of God. He did not grow weary to the point of giving up. He is our example. Let us sharpen our focus!

#risingjoy #Hebrews #Focus

Don’t get sidetracked

By A.B. Simpson — 0ne of Satan’s favorite employees is the switchman. He likes nothing better than to sidetrack one of God’s express trains sent on some blessed mission and filled with the fire of a holy purpose.

Something will come up in the pathway of the earnest man to attract his attention and occupy his strength and thought. Sometimes it is a little irritation or provocation. Sometimes it is some petty grievance he stops to pursue or adjust. Sometimes it is somebody else’s business in which he becomes interested, and he feels bound to rectify. Before he knows it, he is absorbed in many distracting cares and interests that turn him aside from the great purpose of his life.

Perhaps he does not do much harm, but he has missed his connection. He has left the main line.

Let all these things alone. Let grievances come and go, but press forward steadily and irresistibly, crying as you speed toward the goal, This one thing I do!Philippians 3:13

#devotional #sidetracked #focus

Staying on the right path

There was a man who bought himself a new hunting dog. Eager to see how the dog would perform, the hunter took him out one day, hoping to track some big game. Sure enough, the dog picked up the trail of a bear! The hunter was excited, and thought, “I really have a hunting dog now!”

However, the dog suddenly stopped, sniffed a while, and then turned and headed in another direction. The hunter soon realized a deer had crossed the path of the bear, and the dog was now trailing the deer. While on the deer’s trail, the dog caught the scent of a rabbit, that, somewhere along the line, had crossed the path of the deer. Now the dog was trailing the rabbit.

On and on the dog went, and finally, the tired, breathless hunter caught up with his “prize” dog, only to find it triumphantly barking down a small hole. Investigation revealed the hole was the home of a mouse.

Sometimes we are like that hunting dog. We’re often distracted by things which cross the path we’re traveling in life. We find ourselves pulled in this or that direction, not remaining on the right path. We start out right, but end up off-course.

Christians are sometimes pulled off the right path by the cares, riches and pleasures of life (Luke 8:14; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; Hebrews 10:24-25). Some let various experiences pull them away—sickness, financial loss, death, or being mistreated by another.

If you have been pulled away from the right path, ponder the path of your feet (Proverbs 4:26), and arise, and come back today (Luke 15:18).

Charles Pugh III, Voice of Truth International, Vol. 7, published in “The Sower,” 2017-05-14.

#focus #repentance #distractions

‘Greatest threat to faith: distraction’

There is much wrong with this article in particulars, but its main point is powerful. Also, excuse the two adapted paintings.

“If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation. Christian leaders seem to think that they need more distraction to counter the distraction. Their services have degenerated into emotional spasms, their spaces drowned with light and noise and locked shut throughout the day, when their darkness and silence might actually draw those whose minds and souls have grown web-weary.”

Andrew Sullivan: My Distraction Sickness — and Yours

#busy, #distraction, #focus, #technology

What should our focus be?


Our focus should be on loving and serving God. Our aim should be that of going to heaven when we die.

Many are focused on material things. Even in religion the focus is on entertainment, show and fun; instead of on God the Bible, truth and service. Continue reading

#focus, #jesus-christ

Have a Good Day

Each person probably has their own definition or standard for what a good day is. Some might think being able to watch football all day would be great. Some might think that spending the whole day with family would be the best day ever. There are as many different ways to have a good day as there are people. Continue reading

#days, #focus, #good, #relationships


This past Sunday I asked our morning Bible study class: “When it comes to the changing things of life (a) which encourage us? (b) which make us uncomfortable? (c) which are distressing? Though class members noted quite a number of things for each of these three categories, I had begun each with the same word: “technology.” For me “technology” rests in all three areas. I love what the computer and internet connections around the world have opened the door for me to do. However, getting accustomed to using such technology is not always comfortable to me because upgrades change the way I have done things for so long and I then fear messing things up. Technology also has added a great deal of stress to my life at times when I have begun to depend on it so much and then it stops functioning properly. Therein — associated with computer technology — is “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly!” I guess you could say I almost have a love/hate relationship with technology.

Over the past several months, with issues over the “teEn-MAIL” website and then my computer hard drive crashing (resulting in the loss of addresses for some of the over 1400 subscribers) and being replaced only to then have the motherboard go out several months later, I was getting frustrated enough to wonder if it was time to stop trying to keep “teEn-MAIL” going out. After all, it has been a part of my ministry since 1998 and Facebook has provided another means for some to read, so maybe it was time. I want to thank those who e-mailed to let me know it was being missed and have encouraged me to continue. God Willing, it shall.

Thinking of all the changes that take place in this world, I am so thankful for what is CONSTANT and UNCHANGING of which we can anchor our life and our hope. Sunday’s class discussion was focusing on the words of the Hebrew writer where we read. . .


Amidst all the changes in this life — “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly!” — that is the BEST REMINDER we can have for focusing and keeping life grounded in what matters most. To know in a changing world we have an UNCHANGING SAVIOR, our hope can remain in the blessed eternity yet to come.


– Carl Hanson

(“teEn-MAIL” is sent out daily by Carl Hanson, preacher for the Port Townsend Church of Christ located at 230 A Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368 USA. Come visit us if in the area.

#focus, #frustrations, #jesus, #technology-in-ministry

Hugh’s News & Views (Focus)



Cleon Lyles was one of the great pulpiteers in churches of Christ in the mid-twentieth century. Frequently, brother Lyles would begin a sermon by saying, “Now let’s think about some things before we think about some other things.” This was his way of saying that before we can understand some things there are some other things on which we need to gain some clarity.

As Christians, we know what we need to think about most in life: 1) God, His greatness, goodness, power, love, mercy, grace, care and protection; 2) Christ, His life, teaching, death for our sins, burial, resurrection, ascension, coronation, reign, intercession, and second coming; 3) the church, the privilege of membership in it and our involvement, service, spiritual growth, and worship experienced therein. These are the things that we want to think about and give priority to in our lives. I believe that the vast majority of Christians are sincere in their faith and really do want to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Continue reading

#focus, #hughfulford, #important-things, #priorities

Who’s the one getting the praise again?

On page 3 (and continued on page 12) of this month’s Christian Chronicle there’s a story that praises a congregation’s “western themed cowboy church Sunday” out on an old movie ranch. Well yee-haw! I didn’t realize that it should take any theme other than God and Jesus’ sacrifice to get a person’s schedule centered back around worship, Bible study, fellowship and good works. But something else got my attention too while I was reading about the congregation’s get-together.

Included with the story is a sizeable picture of an audience sitting in the middle-ground with trays for communion in the foreground and a “praise team” in the background. Contrary to the picture though, I believe the order of the arrangements were completely the opposite. And by that I mean that the “praise team” was front and center with the communion trays sitting nicely in the backseat.

I never have understood the name “praise team” when it comes to the churches of Christ who are looking to spice up the worship services by adding a little more “spirituality” and “good emotions” to the mix. If you’re going to have “praise teams” then have them. But at least be honest enough with yourself and with others to call them what they are. They’re choirs without the robes! The rest of the religious world has no problem with calling their “praise teams” by the proper name. The only thing that I can figure is that they don’t want to look like or sound like the rest of the religious world too much. Too late! If it walks and quacks like a duck, then odds are it’s a duck!

And all duck references aside, please know that I didn’t grow up attending the worship services of the churches of Christ, so I’m more than just a little familiar with what I say. And I know that some won’t like what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyways.

“Praise teams” take the attention off of worshipping God as a congregation in song by putting the emphasis on certain singers above the others. Try to spin it however you want – that’s the truth! I’ve seen the “applications” for those “praise teams” before. You have to be considered worthy to join. They’re not interested in making a “joyful noise” unto the Lord – they’re interested in people-pleasing notes and lyrics. “Praise teams” are exclusionary by their very nature and that’s why I am 100% against them. They take an act that’s meant to lift up God and they turn it into an act that lifts them up. And it doesn’t matter if it’s people up on the stage or “miked-up” voices in the pews; the goal is the same – a “better sounding” version of the song to the ears of people when the goal should be God centered worship.

“Praise teams” and their promoters need to remember who’s meant to get the praise during the church’s worship of God and start forgetting about what sounds “good” to their own ears.

#focus, #god, #praise-teams, #singing, #worship

A Thought Worth Sharing

by Brittany Davis

When my husband and I were dating we had many “disagreements” and one time in particular he told me I couldn’t see the forest for the trees; he was right. I was so caught up in the details and slight nuances I perceived as major obstacles that I was putting a strain on our relationship. Sometimes we have to take a step back and really look at what we have and be thankful. Instead of noticing all of the minute ways it could be improved.

In Esther 5 Haman had a severe case of this same issue. Esther 5:9-13 says,

“So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh. Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king. Moreover Haman said, “Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared; and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king. Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”

Someone looking at Haman from the outside would have said that guy has it all. But all Haman could see was one man refusing to tremble before him. His refusal to look the other way cost him his place in the king’s court, his riches, his family and ultimately his life.

Is there something in your life that is vexing your spirit that could be overlooked or completely ignored? Maybe like me it was something in a relationship, perhaps like Haman it’s someone who just gets under your skin or maybe it’s a task you have to accomplish.

Consider whatever it is and decide if all of the good things in your life outweigh the burden of this thing. Don’t be like Haman and close your eyes to all that God has blessed you with and only open your eyes to the one thing or person that bothers you.

Proverbs 11:16-17 says, “A gracious woman retains honor, but ruthless men retain riches. The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

Be gracious and merciful and don’t trouble your own flesh by focusing on things you’re better off ignoring. Instead focus on the good then let go and let God.

In Christ, Steve Preston

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#focus, #gratitude, #one-thing, #vexation

Inside Out and Upside Down

A friend recently decided to buy a car because his was wearing out. Sounds like a simple thing, but it turned him inside out and upside down.

His problems buying the car illustrated what can happen to a person when he is consumed with the pursuit of things. He became despondent because he could not close the deal and had to leave what he desired sitting in the parking lot. His despondency turned to depression.

Being denied the object of desire is not a feeling people like. In this age of instant gratification, having someone say no to what we want is difficult to accept. What often follows is a time-consuming attempt to fulfill our desire. When that happens, focus shifts from important things (like serving God) to useless things (like getting what is desired).

This is one of Satan’s traps. Focus is something that must remain constant. Shifting focus away from serving God to the accumulation of things has troubled many people. Simon the Sorcerer was a person who obeyed the gospel and embarked on a life of serving God (Acts 8:13), but his focus shifted from that service to the gratification of a desire.

Simon, who had been used to a life in which people paid attention to what he said and did, saw the apostles impart the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17). Simon offered the apostles money to be able to do the same. His focus had been shifted from the service of God to the attainment of power. He was not interested in having the gift, but to grant the gift as the apostles had (Acts 8:20). His request was met by strong condemnation from Peter. The apostle told him, “Repent, therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart be forgiven thee,” (Acts 8:22).

To his credit, Simon realized his sin and decided to turn from it. So should all whose focus falls from God on the pursuit of things or power for personal benefit.

Materialism is a very real trouble in our world. Because the world is composed of things, it is easy to believe things are more necessary than God. We must remember things will burn up (2 Peter 3:10). A person may find himself turned inside out and upside down by the pursuit of things that will be nothing more than ashes.

Our eternal souls are worth more than that aren’t they?

#focus, #life, #serving-god

Illustration: On the Way to the Barn…

There’s an old story about a farmer who one morning decided to plow the south forty acres.  His tractor needed oil, so he started for the barn to get it, but on the way noticed that the pigs hadn’t been fed.  Near the corn crib was a pile of sacks, reminding him that the potatoes were sprouting.  But, on his way to the potato pit, he passed the woodpile and remembered that the kitchen stove was burning low.  While picking up the wood, he saw that one of his chickens was ailing, so he dropped the wood to doctor the chicken…and so it was till the end of the day, and he still hadn’t oiled the tractor or plowed the south field.

Is your Christian life like this trip to the barn?  Do you have grand visions of great service that never gets done?  Have you found too many “other things” to do that interfere with your goal of being a productive servant in God’s kingdom?

The only way you and I will “get to the barn” of Christian service is to get our priorities in order.  The farmer in the story didn’t have any priorities.  He just flowed with the tide of events around him.  Our life contains plenty of “pigs to feed,” “wood to cut,” and “chickens to doctor.”  But, we can’t allow them to get in our way of serving God.  If we will make the commitment and extend our effort, God will make a way for us to “get to the barn.”    —George Miller

Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver. And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” (1 Kgs. 20:39-40a)

#christian-living, #focus, #illustrations, #priorities, #service, #work

“Looking Unto Jesus”

One of the most compelling phrases in the book of Hebrews is found in Hebrews 12:2:

Looking Unto Jesus.” The NASB renders this phrase, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus.Continue reading

#author, #compelling, #competition, #crowd, #eyes, #faith, #focus, #hebrews, #jesus, #phrase, #successful

How do I keep a good attitude? By mainta…

How do I keep a good attitude? By maintaining a spiritual mindset – keeping focused on those things above – looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith – looking for that “better country” (Colossians 3:1-2; Hebrews 12:1-2; Hebrews 11:16). Many times in my mind, I sing “This world Is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”

If we’ll think of this world as just our temporary dwelling place, and that we are nothing more than “strangers and pilgrims” on it (Hebrews 11:13), we’ll have a better attitude toward life and living.

Brethren, there’s something “better” ahead of us!

#attitude, #country, #dwelling, #faith, #focus, #jesus, #mindset, #pilgrim, #spiritual, #stranger