Going straight to the Cross
 
Thursday, 24. March 2005

Satan's Tackle Box

by Mike Benson

There's a creek that runs through Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. It's deep and cold and clear, and it serves as habitat for a fairly good size school of rainbow trout. I know that, you see, because I've fished there -- several times, in fact. And without sounding pretentious, I've had some pretty good success there. I've caught my daily limit of seven trout on many occasions. The reason for my good fortune is because I know what the fish like; I've learned what bait is most effective in the creek.

Satan is sort of a fisherman, and he knows what bait is most effective with you and me -- he knows what lure will work. Read passages like Genesis 3, Matthew 4 and James 1 (cf. Genesis 39; 1 John 2) and you'll discover that the Tempter has a "tackle box" full of lures (e.g., illicit sex, alcohol, drugs, food, internet pornography, etc.) that he can flash before us.

But as enticing as Satan's baits might appear, there's ALWAYS a hook embedded inside each of them. And if we ever actually take a "bite," we'll be hauled up on shore and fried (cf. James 1:14,15).

Think about it.

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Thursday, 17. March 2005

Remembering Curt

by Phil Sanders

In 1935 at the age of two, Curtis Booth lost his father, who was murdered by some criminals hijacking his truck. This meant his mother had to go to work as a nurse, leaving his older brothers and sisters to raise him. Life was hard and money scarce for this fatherless family with eight children.

It’s not surprising, then, that Curt would learn many bad habits and end up in prison by age 30. In prison he learned the gospel from some fellow inmates and from my father and mother, Harley and Euletta Sanders. After serving four years in a Kansas prison, Curt came out of prison humble and law-abiding; but he had never obeyed the gospel according to the Scriptures.

The six states that had warrants for his arrest decided they no longer wanted him, and Curt remained free the rest of his life. Though Curt gave up his stealing, in time he once again began to drink and to take drugs. The oil fields of Oklahoma, where he worked, were filled with rough men. In his fifties, Curt’s heart had enlarged, and he weighed more than 400 pounds. His rough life left him obnoxious, foul-mouthed, and in rebellion toward God. Many a morning he woke up in a ditch somewhere after a drunken night hunting raccoons. This was his life until the doctor told him in 1987 that his life was almost over.

That reality opened his eyes and his heart. He remembered all the promises he had made to God in prison and began to contemplate his eternal salvation. He knew that he had never obeyed the gospel. Frantically, he went to every preacher in the small town of Crescent. Not one of them had time for him, and one clergyman threatened to call the law on him. At last he remembered his nephew, a preacher who would know what to do.

The next morning for three hours, Curt, his nephew, and four others studying what to do to be saved. They studied every passage in the New Testament on baptism. Early in the afternoon, Curt, his wife Jenny, and three others walked into the lake behind the house and were baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

An amazing change took place in Curt. Never again did he drink alcohol or use foul language. He began studying God’s Word and teaching in the county jails. Singing, praying, and studying the Bible became his life. Pleasing God became the focus of his every thought. The old man of sin died; he was truly born again.

In time he got involved in a state-wide prison ministry. Since 1987, Curtis Booth baptized more than one thousand inmates into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. You might remember that Curtis Booth was one of two people who sent Bible Correspondence Courses to Jeffrey Dahmer, courses that led to his conversion.

When Curt’s health became so bad that he was forced into a nursing home, he spent his time teaching anyone who would listen. When a resident came to his last hours, Curt would sit at bedside reading Scripture, singing and praying.

Again and again, he thought about the souls of others. He never wanted someone he loved or knew to face God unprepared to go to heaven. God’s grace did not prove vain in his life (1 Cor. 15:10). I thank God for the memories I have of my uncle Curt.

Curtis G. Booth passed from this life and into glory on March 8, 2005.

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Grace Through Faith

by Mike Benson

A man was drowning in a river. His situation was hopeless. Another man on shore saw the drowning man. He called out to his two friends to get a boat, two oars, and a rope. The trio rowed out, threw the rope, whereupon the man in the water took hold, hung on, pulled himself into the boat and was then taken back to shore.

Reflecting on the incident, one man observed, "It was the BOAT that saved him, because without it we could have never gotten to him in time." Another said, "Yes, but it was the OARS that made the difference." Still the third offered, "In a sense the MAN saved himself, for he took hold of the life-line, held on, got into the boat, and stayed there until we reached shore." Finally, the man who nearly drowned said, "It was the MAN on shore who saw me and called for help; it was his compassion that saved me."

Who was right? Was it the boat, the oars, the caring man on shore, or the drowning man himself which made the rescue possible? Actually, all four contributed to the saving of the drowning man.

This parable illustrates our salvation today. It's a combination of factors. Man's part (e.g., obedient faith) and God's part (e.g., unmerited favor/grace).

The Bible says, "For by grace through faith you have been saved..." (Ephesians 2:8,9). Think about it.

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Thursday, 10. March 2005

A Million

By Mike Benson

Mrs. Brown always resented having to arrange her own hair and sew her own clothes, especially while her more "well-to-do" friends boasted of patronizing the finest shops in town. So when the Brown's financial ship finally came in, Mrs. Brown wasted no time in getting a complete salon treatment and buying a whole new wardrobe including the most stunning dress she could find.

Thus attired in sophistication and expensive perfume, she presented herself to Mr. Brown for his approval. "Well, what do you think?" she asked. "Honey," he said, "now you look like a million." "Really?" she asked coyly. "A million dollars?" "No," he said, "a million other women!"

Ladies, the Bible says, "Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair, of wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel, but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit..." (1 Peter 3:3,4). You know, any husband is proud of his wife when she is attractive, but real beauty comes from the heart -- not the store.

Think about it.

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Tuesday, 8. March 2005

Reach

by Phil Sanders

“Reach!” The word means to stretch. It implies an inconvenience. It involves movement. You can’t lean back, relax, get comfortable and then reach. To reach means you must give up some of that comfort—at least for the moment.

Reaching involves a little extra effort to get to something you want. How much extra energy you are willing to spend depends on how badly you want what you’re reaching for. The more it means to you, the farther you are willing to stretch. You might even stretch until it hurts.

It’s not convenient to “reach” up to God to find the hand He so lovingly extends to us. It can be inconvenient to reach out to other people who so desperately need to know someone cares. It’s not even easy to reach within ourselves to find our true feelings and values.

There is, however, no more important way for us to spend our energy than to reach for a life that is pure, clean, and faithful to God. It may seem like a lot of trouble, but it’s worth it!

When we cease reaching, we stop growing. Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14).

This was the Paul who had become an apostle, was inspired by the Holy Spirit, had borne persecution and scars for Jesus, and who did not know whether he would die for Christ or not (Phil. 1:21-24).

Are you still growing? For what are you reaching and stretching? Do you press on? Have you learned all you wished to know? Have you prayed every prayer you should pray? Have you touched every neighbor? Have you taught every class you’ll ever teach?

There is yet so very much to accomplish for the Lord that none of us can afford to sit back and let the world go by. The lost are crying for you to reach out to them. The missionaries are crying for help. There is still so much truth to teach, so many souls to save, and so much kindness to give. Let us not live such easy lives that we forget to reach up and out.

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Forthright Magazine continues, more dynamic than ever! We have groups created for FMag on Facebook and the Churches of Christ Network. Announcement blog is up and going on Preachers Files. Email lists about FMag and FPress are available both on Yahoo and GoogleGroups. And, to top it all off, we're twittering for both on Twitter.com.
by randal @ 1/20/09, 11:55 AM

How to Make Sure That Your Judgment Is Flawless


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This evening read John 5:24--47 How to Make Sure That Your Judgment Is Flawless Yes, it is popular to say that we are not supposed to judge, but the truth is we all make judgments about many things daily. Otherwise, we would never succeed in life. The real question is what is our guide for judging. Why can we not simply follow the example of our Master and Lord? He said, 30 "I can of Myself ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 5:08 AM

Do You Ever Feel Like Just a Name?


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This morning read First Chronicles 1--3 Do You Ever Feel Like Just a Name? Think on the manner, in which the Book of First Chronicles begins, 1 Adam, Seth, Enosh (1 Chr. 1:1). In this way begins the longest genealogy in the Bible. The names continue to the end of the ninth chapter! Were these just names? Adam; who is he? You know there is more in the Bible than the mere mention of his name in ... more ...
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by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 5:03 AM

They Were His Servants


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This morning read Second Kings 24 and 25 They Were His Servants As the writer of Second Kings explains whom the Lord sent against Judah, the writer said that this was 2 ...according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servants the prophets (2 Kin. 24:2). Those great men we have honored for centuries were nothing more than servants of the Lord God. What does that make us? Do you do something ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 5:01 AM
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by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This evening read John 4:30--54 The disciples went into a town to buy food while Jesus remained out of the town. There He engaged a woman in conversation. When the disciples returned, here is what happened, 31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." 32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know" (Joh. 4:31, 32). As you read the Gospel According to John, watch ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 4:59 AM

Having a Tender Heart


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This morning read Second Kings 22 and 23 Having a Tender Heart When Josiah heard the word of God for the first time, he tore his clothes, knowing of the wrath that was upon Jerusalem for the idolatry of his forefathers. Therefore, he sent messengers to a prophetess to inquire of the Lord. He did have a message for Josiah. God said through the prophetess, 19 "...because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 4:56 AM
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