Missing during roll call

On one occasion king Saul was in great distress over an impending battle when all of a sudden the enemy’s camp began to disband before the eyes of Israel’s watchman. When the news was delivered to Saul, his response was:

“…“Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there.”” (1 Samuel 14:17 NKJV)

Oh if it were only so that when the church gave out a “roll call”, her missing soldiers were unknowingly out on the battle field serving God, but sadly such is not the case! Many brothers and sisters are A.W.O.L. and mired in laziness with a vacant zeal and silence when it comes to the roll call of serving God; such is the unjustifiable and pitiful reason for the shortage of Bible class teachers, loving elders and deacons, as well as a vacuum of needed funds for numerous righteous and godly works and missionaries.

May we all learn to be like Jonathan, a servant of God only “absent” from the body when he was busy being its hands and feet. And may we earnestly remember this lesson the next time we begin to think it’s okay to ignore our responsibility of being ready to answer the “roll call” of the church, else the importance of not being found absent by the true roll keeping King, who sees our works, slip our heart and mind.

And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” (Philippians 4:3 NKJV)

#devotional #attendance #serving-God

Making sure our purpose is more about Jesus than self

Based on Paul’s closing comments in Galatians 6:11-18, a question on p. 154 of the Gospel Advocate’s Foundations Adult Bible study book for Galatians (Summer 2018, Lesson 13, Paul’s Farewell) asks, “What steps can we take to ensure our focus remains on Jesus rather than on our accomplishments?”

Here are three simple answers that can aid anyone who wants to make sure what we do is to the glory of God and his wisdom displayed through the cross and not our own self-serving purposes (1 Corinthians 1:18):

  1. Examine our self in the faith that we are called to live by, not our own opinions and feelings (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  2. Do much good (if possible) in secret (Matthew 6:3-4).
  3. Remember Jesus’ sobering words about humility and the relationship between Lord and servant (Luke 17:7-10).

Following the above principals can help us make sure that we are following and serving Jesus in the shadow of his cross instead making our own front and center.

Then he said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

#cross-of-christ, #gospel-advocate, #serving-god

You can do great things through the ordinary

Think you have to cause walls of water to arise from the deep, entreat fire from the heavens, or encounter the angel of the Lord of Hosts to do something great for God?

Read through the gospels again.

Notice how often ordinary things are done to create great moments for God’s glory: touching people, making time for people, talking to people, building people up, and sharing the gospel with people.

Ordinary is a relative term. Doing great things for God is determined by the God we serve when we do them. Do not forget that.

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40 NKJV)

#doing-good, #serving-god

Better late than never

Feel like too much time has passed and your age is preventing you from doing something great for God and his kingdom? Don’t! Think about this line-up for a moment:

  • Moses was 80 years old when he spoke for God before the pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 7:7)
  • Aaron was 83 years old when he stood beside Moses and stood up for God (Exodus 7:7)
  • Samuel served God and Israel as a faithful judge well into his old age (1 Samuel 8:5)
  • Both Simeon and Anna played a wonderful role in introducing Israel’s messiah to the people around the temple despite being well-advanced in years (Luke 2:25-38)
  • Paul “the aged” was a shining light of love and mercy for Jesus to the end (Philemon 9)

This list is incomplete, but your service doesn’t have to be.

Think about it, if the Lord is able to use a junior to accomplish his will, then there’s nothing that can prevent him from being ready and willing to use a senior!

So don’t let the absence of serving God in your youth prevent you from serving God now – in this case, better late than never truly does apply.

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (Titus 2:1-5)

#age, #old-age, #serving-god

Don’t ignore God’s calling

God has a calling for everyone, and his calling demands our attention – it shouldn’t be minimized or ignored like a call from someone we don’t want to talk to…you know, the way we treat certain calls today because of caller id. Remember the time before caller id? The phone would ring and we had to answer it without knowing who was calling or why. Today, whether at home or on the road, our phones let us pick and choose which call we want to answer by revealing the caller – and I’m afraid many of us Christians have the same mentality toward the calling of God to serve him in his kingdom. If we maintain such a mindset toward God’s calling we’ll get stuck with the “I’ll call back later” mentality – a mentality which takes it for granted that God will answer us after our intentional repeated ignoring of him; God has caller id too, you know.

For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

#calling, #serving-god, #spiritual-analogies

Thinking Work!

It has been noted that if one enjoys what they do, they won’t work a day in their life. What is work anyway? Whether we are talking about playing a round of golf or mowing the lawn, have we considered it is the very same muscles that are being used? Also, whether we are working a crossword puzzle or conducting business of some type, the same brain power is being utilized. So, why does what we call “work” seem to tire us more than what we might refer to as “play”? If the same muscles and brain power are put to use it must boil down to attitude and perspective. It would seem that if we could view “work” in the same way we view “play” it could be less wearing on ourselves.

Now, it also stands to reason that if that which is considered “play” seems to become too much “work” then the pleasure it was intended to provide will be lost. When we maintain a wholesome attitude toward both what might be labeled “work” or “play”, we can experience pleasure in both. It is when we think of it too much as “work” that we begin to struggle. Mark Twain is quoted as stating, “Work is not a concrete thing; it is a mental attitude. Nothing is either work or play but thinking makes it so.”

Looking at life in a general sense, Solomon stated. . . Continue reading

#attitude, #god, #play, #serving-god, #work


One evening, as I was leaving our seasonal Winter Shelter, one of the guests asked me of my perspective on religion as compared to certain practices he had observed. Part of my response to him was that religion — as it is expressed in the Scriptures — is not merely ritual, but is practical. It relates to accepting God’s authority for life, good living and helping to meet the needs of others. The questioner then responded, “You are doing that.”

Someone has said, “A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help others.” [original source unknown]

The fact that living a life pleasing to God is more than ritualistic observance is made clear through various passages of Scripture. For example, in response to a questioner seeking to justify himself (Luke 10:29), Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-35) The priest and the Levite appear to have been too focused on their ceremonial cleanness to help one who had A REAL NEED. To press the point we read. . .

“(36) Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (37) He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “YOU GO, AND DO LIKEWISE.”” (Luke 10:36-37 ESV)

On another occasion, when Jesus’ disciples were accused of plucking heads of grain while walking through a grainfield on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded the
faultfinders of David and his men having eaten the bread that was only lawful for the priests to eat. That bread was there was to MEET THE NEED at the time. (Mark 2:23-26) By the time of Jesus’ walk on earth, the “doctrines” of work on the Sabbath had been meticulously defined by the teachers of the law. However, in addressing the practicality, Jesus went on to state. . .

“(27) And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”” (Mark 2:27 ESV)

There are a number of other places Jesus addressed what was done on the Sabbath when He Himself was accused of healing on the Sabbath. In those cases Jesus drew attention to what His accusers were willing to do when it came to their own personal property (i.e. Matthew 12:11-12), exposing more interest in themselves than in being willing to reach out to meet the REAL NEEDS around them.

Perhaps one of the most concise and clearest statements comes from James where we read. . .


Living a “religious” life before God and man is both practical and holy. Purity of life is an issue to be taken very seriously. However, our interaction with others and willingness to MEET REAL NEEDS is also of extreme importance. Are we not glad we have a Heavenly Father aware of and willing to provide for both our spiritual and physical needs? May we be mindful of that with regard to others as we live through each day God provides.


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

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#christian-living, #christianity, #god, #life, #living-the-faith, #practical-lessons, #religion, #service, #serving-god

Guest Article: How To Please Everyone by Tim Woodward

Páramo woolly baby donkey in Chimborazo, Ecuador

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s an older article written by one of the ministers at a sister congregation in the same county as Keltonburg. It includes a great story that illustrates the impossibility of pleasing every person.

A man and his grandson went on a journey one day, walking and leading a donkey. Soon they met a man who said, “How foolish for you to be walking. One of you should be riding the donkey.” So the man put his grandson on the animal.

The next traveler they met frowned and said, “How dreadful for a strong boy to be riding while an old man walks.” With that the boy climbed off the donkey and his grandfather climbed on.

The next person down the road, however, said, “I just can’t believe that a grown man would ride and make a poor little boy walk.” So the man pulled the boy aboard and off they rode on the donkey together.

That is, until they met the fellow who screamed, “I never saw anything so cruel in my life, two intelligent human beings riding on one poor, defenseless donkey.”

Down the road a short distance, the trio met a couple of men traveling together. After they passed, one of the men turned to the other and said, “Did you ever see two bigger fools carrying that donkey?”

How do you please everyone? YOU CAN’T! Don’t even try! Just do your best to please God. Perhaps that’s the lesson Paul had learned when he wrote in Galatians 1:10…”For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” The sooner that each of us learns that we cannot live by the conscience of other men, the better off we will be. While we try to please others we sometimes find ourselves in a far worse predicament than when we first started. So, follow the advice Peter gave in Acts 5:29…”we ought to obey God rather than men.

Tim Woodward, Smithville church of Christ


#guest-article, #ilustration, #pleasing-god, #reputation, #serving-god

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