The speck, the beam, and the eye

Being guilty of sin doesn’t mean it’s wrong to say another person’s sin is wrong. After all, if we say we have no sin the truth isn’t where we live spiritually (1 John 1:8). But this isn’t to say there’s not a present problem if we think we can correct the “smaller” sin (unintentional and intentional mistakes alike) of others while actually living (habitually committing) in a “larger” sin ourself without it being a major issue.

Removing the speck while having a beam in our eye (Matthew 7:1-5) has to do with requiring more of ourselves than we do of others instead of the vice-versa!

Removing our own speck before dealing with another’s beam has to do with understanding the seriousness of the lesson ourself before we try to teach someone else. It has to do with seeing ourself before attempting to help others see.

Take, as a rough illustration, the following example from an actual online spelling test given to a sister-in-Christ’s young child:

Continue reading

#christian-living, #illustrations, #judging-others

Christians Should Be Like Groundhogs

By Johnny O. Trail — It is amazing to consider what one can learn from a children’s book. At one time my son, Noah, liked for me to read from his book Groundhog Gets A Say. Since February is when we celebrate Groundhog Day, I took special notice of what Noah’s book had to say about groundhogs. As I read to him when he was younger, I was convinced that Christians need to be more like groundhogs.

Did you know that groundhogs move about seven hundred pounds of rock and dirt a day? No one should ever accuse a groundhog of being lazy (Swallow 2007). Many farmers have complained about the manner in which their barns and hay sheds have been undermined by families of groundhogs. It is amazing to think of such a relatively small animal moving such a large volume of dirt and rock. There are two principles that Christians can glean from this fact. Continue reading

#groundhogs, #illustrations, #johnnyotrail

Why second-grader Jesse didn't like school

Sherrie Porter just shared this and allowed me to pass it on.

I was reminded today of something my nephew said years ago when he was in 2nd grade: Jesse was visiting my grandmother, his great grandmother, a retired school teacher. She asked Jesse how he liked school and he said he didn’t! Grandma chuckled and asked him why? Jesse said, “Because the teachers are always trying to teach me something I don’t know!” He was in 2nd grade. He was honest. I’ve noticed a lot of people never grow out of that stage, though they lose Jesse’s candor and honesty.

Great story and true observation there, Sherrie!

#christian-growth, #illustrations

Hugh’s News & Views (Knowing The Bible)



Once upon a time there was a church without a pastor. (Here I appropriate the use of the word “pastor” as it is used in most denominational churches, not as it is used in the New Testament.) The Board of the church had interviewed several prospective ministers, but so far none were to their liking. Some were too bold, some were too quiet, some were too harsh, some were too flashy, and some, they thought, were just not pretty enough. Continue reading

#bible-knowledge, #hughfulford, #illustrations

Guest Article: Anti-Virus Software for the Brain by Joshua Gulley

1 Peter 1:15-16 is what I thought of when I read this great article by Josh:

The longer I am a Christian, the more keenly aware I am of my need for God’s grace. We are supposed to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), and I believe this to be my greatest failure as a follower of Jesus. We are supposed to have a filter—a kind of screening process our minds use to dismiss material that is not going to be healthy for us to think about. Philippians 4:8 describes the standard: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Using this set of requirements, we should probably dismiss MOST of the things we encounter on a daily basis as food for thought. I struggle to do this. There are images or ideas that enter my mind at times, and I know immediately that they are unhealthy for my spirit, yet I allow myself to follow them out. And, just like a mature tree is harder to remove from the ground than a sprout (and leaves an uglier spot in the ground once removed)—or just like the cooking dish is harder to clean after it has dried for hours—a thought process is harder to avoid once you have allowed it to take root in your mind. Once those neurons carve out a new path, they like to return and travel it again.

God, help us to apply the filtration process in Philippians 4:8 to keep our brains free of the kind of trash that tends to lead us away from Christ. – Joshua Gulley

Josh is a member of the Smithville church of Christ and he teaches music at the High School level. 

#christian-living, #christianity, #guest-article, #heart-issues, #holiness, #illustrations, #spiritual-analogies, #thoughts

Illustration: Bible Study

It Needs to Be Used…

General George Washington had known nothing but defeat in the American Revolution until the famous victory at Trenton on Christmas Day night, 1776.  Every school child knows how Washington attacked the Hessians unawares and defeated them.

But what is not so well known is that the commanding officer at Trenton, Colonel Gottlieb Rall, had been warned of Washington’s surprise attack.  The evening before, Colonel Rall had been passed a note by a Tory farmer of the impending attack.  Yet he put the note aside unread as he played chess [some accounts say cards, ccd] and drank with other officers.  Colonel Rall was mortally wounded in the battle, and the note of warning was later found in his pocket…unopened.

God has given us the best information available on how to live, yet His Holy Word often lies unread at our fingertips.  It bulges with both promises and warnings.  The promises inspire us and refresh us to take courage.  The warnings are like flashing red lights that stop us in our self-destructive paths.  How foolish to ignore the cautions of God’s Word that would detour us from self-destruction!

“Blessed is he that readeth … and keep those things which are written therein…” (Rev 1:3)

Adapted from John Scott –
[Originally via The Friend of Truth, 4/27/2003, came to me via David Lemmons, then further adapted based on additional historical research]

#bible-study, #illustrations, #preparation

A Quarter and A Christian

I got this story sent to me in an email not too long ago. I’m sure it’s just one of those “chain like” emails that gets around a lot, but I thought there may be some here who had not read it. I used it last Sunday in Keltonburg’s bulletin. I don’t know the author but the story makes a great point. I hope someone can use it.

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, ‘You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.’ Then he thought, ‘Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a ‘gift from God’ and keep quiet.’ When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, ‘Here, you gave me too much change.’

The driver, with a smile, replied, ‘Aren’t you the new preacher in town?’ ‘Yes’ he replied. ‘Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you at church on Sunday.’ When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, ‘Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.’

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard – and remember — You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself ‘Christian.’

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

#christian-living, #example, #honesty, #illustrations, #stories

The Model T

Henry Ford’s Model T changed the world. He would produce 15 million of them from 1908 to 1927, eventually for a cost of less than $300 (in 1925), making modern transportation available to the common man. The engine had 20 horsepower. It could reach a top speed of 45 miles per hour. And it was started by a hand crank.

But one thing about the Model T: if you wanted one— if you wanted to join the revolution—you had to be willing to go backward! Uphill anyway. The gas tank was located under the front seat, and because it fed gas to the engine only by gravity (and because the reverse gear was more powerful), the Model T frequently had to be driven up steep hills backward. It was the price you paid to own the “Tin Lizzie.”

Sometimes, to make progress, we have to be willing to go backward; that is, we have to be willing to humble ourselves.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Taken from Billy Ray’s Illustrations

“Thoughts For Today to Brighten Your Day” by Glenn, Mercedes and Lauren Hitchcock

#humility, #illustrations

Funny Way to Make A Serious to Point

Here’s a short, but good and funny article from Harry Middleton of the Lebanon Road church in Nashville, TN.

It’s titled: Search the scriptures!!! I thought someone may want to use it for a reference or a bulletin article.

Great truths may sometimes be stated in amusing ways. I found the following statement of truth amusing and thought provoking. It is taken from “Wells of Thought.”

Jacob Ditzler and J. S. Sweeny were having a debate on the scriptural mode of baptism. Ditzler showed a secondary meaning of the word BAPTIZE to wash or sprinkle.

In reply, brother Sweeny showed that a secondary meaning of BELIEVE was to have an opinion and a secondary meaning of SAVE was to be pickled.

Then he gave the resulting translation of Mark 16:16, “He that hath an opinion and is sprinkled shall be pickled.”

He then raised the question, “Is it our aim to see what we can make out of the scriptures, or is it to find out what God has said?”

#baptism, #biblical-interpretation, #doctrine, #humor, #illustrations

Illustration: The Battle Against Lust

[This illustration comes from All Pro Dad, via their “Play of the Day” e-mail.  I highly recommend this (as well as Family First‘s “Family Minute”) to all the dads out there.  To subscribe, go here (for Family First, click here).  Oh, and they have a version for the moms, too – click here to sign up for iMom‘s “Espresso Minute.”  –Chad]

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were seductress, mermaid-like creatures who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.  The Greek hero Odysseus had to sail by this dangerous vortex and, in order not to plunge into ruin, come up with a plan.  According to author Kim Luret,
“Odysseus instructed his crew to first plug their ears with beeswax and once that was done, to tie him securely to the mast.  His orders were strict–the sailors were not to remove the wax from their ears, nor respond to him in any way until the ship had safely passed the island of the Sirens.
As they got within earshot of the Sirens, Odysseus became as a man possessed. He had never heard anything so alluring or beautiful. He was utterly captivated and began fighting against the ropes, shouting impassioned orders for the crew to turn the ship towards the island.  Unable to hear his commands, the sailors ignored him. They hunched over their oars and rowed with a fury.
This infuriated Odysseus.  He threatened execution to all who disobeyed his orders to free him at once and turn the ship around.  But the sailors neither heard him nor cared. They had made an agreement in advance to report to and obey the real Odysseus, not this inflamed creature who’d gone temporarily mad. Their orders came from truth and reason, not from a lie and insanity. And by sticking to their pre-planned agreement, captain and crew got out alive.
Once they’d made a safe distance from that dangerous place, the sailors removed the beeswax from their ears and untied their captain. No longer within earshot of the Sirens, Odysseus was himself again. And he thanked his crew for staying true to the orders from his real self.”
For many men, the situation Odysseus found himself in is akin to the fight against lust.  If we don’t take radical steps to protect ourselves, we’ll shipwreck our lives.  Here are 10 practical ways to help in your battle against sexual lust.

#illustrations, #lust, #temptation

A Cricket in New York City

Here’s a link to an article by Brett Pertillo from the Bear Valley congregation in Colorado with an excellent sermon illustration about our heart’s focus called, “A Cricket in New York City.

In my little ole’ opinion it’s the best illustration I’ve heard in quite a while. Easy to remember with an excellent and easy to understand point too. I used it this past Wednesday night for the invitation along with the song “Who at the Door is Standing” with an emphasis of listening for the knock at our heart. Thought some of you could use it too.

Have a blessed day.

#heart, #illustrations, #sermon-seed

Illustration: The Boy & the Circus

A little boy who lived far out in the country in the late 1800s had reached the age of twelve and had never in all his life seen a circus. You can imagine his excitement, when one day a poster went up at school announcing that on the next Saturday a traveling circus was coming to the nearby town. He ran home with the glad news and the question, “Daddy, can I go?” Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to the lad. “If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time,” he said, “I’ll see to it that you have the money to

Come Saturday morning, the chores were done and the little boy stood by the breakfast table, dressed in his Sunday best. His father reached down into the pocket of his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill—the most money the little boy had possessed at one time in all his life. The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town.

The boy was so excited; his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground all the way. As he neared the outskirts of the village, he noticed people lining the streets, and he worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening. Lo and behold, it was the approaching spectacle of a circus parade!

The parade was the grandest thing this lad had ever seen. Caged animals snarled as they passed, bands beat their rhythms and sounded shining horns, midgets performed acrobatics while flags and ribbons swirled overhead. Finally, after everything had passed where he was standing, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly painted lace, brought up the rear. As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill. Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned around and went home.

What had happened? The boy thought he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade!

How many of us can relate to this young man? Are you experiencing all that God has for you? The Christian life is a marvelous adventure, an exciting journey. Don’t be content to float in a sea of mediocrity, settling for second best. Do you want the abundant life that Jesus promised? Do you want to live life to its fullest? Then aim higher than the parade. Our Father provided the payment (I Cor. 6:19-20) and the main event is Heavenly. Believe the Scriptures – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

–Adopted from Wayne Rice: “Hot Illustrations”

via “Thoughts For Today to Brighten Your Day” by Glenn, Mercedes & Lauren Hitchcock, 5/7/2012

#illustrations, #mediocrity, #missing-gods-blessings

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

Illustration: Purpose in Life

Josh McDowell told this great story:

An executive hirer, a “headhunter” who goes out and hires corporation executives for other firms, once told me, “When I get an executive that I’m trying to hire for someone else, I like to disarm him. I offer him a drink, take my coat off, then my vest, undo my tie, throw up my feet and talk about baseball, football, family, whatever, until he’s all relaxed. Then, when I think I’ve got him relaxed, I lean over, look him square in the eye and say, “What’s your purpose in life?” It’s amazing how top executives fall apart at that question.

“Well, I was interviewing this fellow the other day, had him all disarmed, with my feet up on his desk, talking about football. Then I leaned up and said, ‘What’s your purpose in life, Bob?’ And he said, without blinking an eye, ‘To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.’ For the first time in my career I was speechless.”

What a great answer! Clearly, this was something Bob often thought about and actually lived. Put yourself in this interview for a minute. What would you have said to this executive headhunter? Would you have an answer or would you fumble around trying to think about the right thing to say?

Many times we as Christians have been told about the purpose of life. The problem is, we don’t take it literally. We may know the right answer, t we don’t actually think it and live it. Can something really be our purpose in life if we rarely think about it and don’t live it? Certainly not.

Bob had it right. Our purpose in this life is to get to heaven (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Matthew 7:21-27; 1 Peter 3:21), and take as many with us as we can (Matthew 28:19-20). Let’s not just know, but actually LIVE the purpose of this life, “To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.”

by Brett Petrillo, via “The Daily Bread” e-devotional, Bear Valley Church of Christ (Denver, CO), 4/3/2012

#conviction, #illustrations, #purpose, #purpose-in-life, #spiritual-purpose

Illustration: Self-Destruction

Once there was an eagle soaring high in the sky and as it flew, almost out of sight, it became unsteady and finally began to fall. It plunged to the earth in a pasture near to men.

Both men approached the eagle and found it shaking and trembling. In its claw was a rattlesnake. The eagle had caught the reptile, soared in the sky, and finally lost the battle when the snake bit it. There it lay, holding the very thing that killed it!

People, unfortunately, are very similar. They have the thing from which they hope to derive some pleasure, but, like the eagle in the story, they are fighting a losing battle and are holding onto the very thing that will mean their spiritual death. How sad that a soul is lost because they won’t turn loose!

Am I holding onto something today that will ultimately destroy my soul?  If so, why not let it go while I still can?

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Col. 3:5-6, NKJV).

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:13-14, NKJV).

#illustrations, #self-destructive-behavior, #sin