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Not So Blithe In Blytheville
BY
Andy Bustanoby
(C) June 18, 2005



     BLYTHEVILLE, Ark.  (UPI)

     The newspaper article headlined, "When Christians Fall Out . . .
     Beware!  Preacher Stomped; Women Pull Hair."  According to the
     article, schism at the New Providence Baptist Church had become so
     bad, the preacher resigned.  Following his resignation sermon, he
     was interrupted by the head deacon, Charles Buck, who wanted to make
     an announcement.  When the pastor wouldn't recognize him, a fight
     broke out.  According to the paper:

         Women started arguing and "got into a little hair-pulling combat
     in the
         vestibule . . . that sparked a fight between some men," Buck
     said.

         The preacher, the Rev. Edward R. Black, said he was hit by a man
         "with such force that they tell me my glasses flew from the
     foyer two
         rows into the church."

         Then two women attacked him, one swatting him in the eye with a
         crutch.  The preacher said, "I was lying on the floor, and three
     of them
         were stomping me with their feet."

     The whole matter wound up in court.

     This was over thirty-five years ago.  I had just started preaching
     through the book of 1 Corinthians when I read this in the newspaper.
     I was preparing to preach on 1:10-17.  There, Paul addresses the
     problem of division in the church.  I called the sermon, "How To
     Wreck A Church."

     I made a joke of it, like, This could never happen to us.  I told
     the congregation that the trouble started when the town was named.
     They meant to call it Blitheville--"light hearted in disposition,
     cheerful."  But there was a hostile faction on the Town Naming
     Committee that prevailed.  Though they got the spelling wrong, they
     did get the secondary meaning right, which suited them to the man:
     "carefree, heedless:  a blithe disregard for someone's feelings."

     For some reason, everyone didn't laugh.

     The irony of the story is that it would take me a few years to
     understand why everyone didn't laugh.  Though I had been called to
     the church with a very large vote of the congregation, the small
     faction that voted against me precipitated an insurgency, which over
     four years was so damaging to the spirit of the church, that I
     eventually resigned--in the middle of an ugly congregational
     meeting.

     I don't know how Christianity is doing in Blytheville today, but
     according to Google, Corinth isn't doing too well. Ninety-eight
     percent of the Greek people aren't following Paul, Apollos, Cephas
     or Christ.  They are followers of the Christian Orthodox Church of
     Greece.

                                    # # #

     6-18-2005

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                           Rainy Days and Mondays

     If you're an old music lover--old, and a music lover, or a lover of
     old music--you'll recogize the name Karen Carpenter and the song,
     Rainy Days and Mondays (always get me down).  Probably the best
     female vocalist of the 60's and 70's, she died in 1983 at age
     thirty-two from heart failure, a complication from anorexia nervosa.

     I was listening to her CD today.  There's a line in Rainy Days that
     goes, "I always run to the one who loves me."  The thought came to
     mind, But suppose there's nobody there to run to on those rainy
     days?

     Her solution is in her hit, I Just Fall In Love Again. But I can
     tell you that after twenty-five years as a marriage and family
     therapist more people are hurt in these kinds of falls than any
     other.

     Is this where you are?  One fall too many?  Have you considered that
     perhaps you need to get acquainted with a loving Father before you
     find a loving mate--a Father who knows something about love?  I'm
     not saying that God is a substitute for a flesh-and-blood mate.  But
     I am saying that your problems with rainy days and Mondays may have
     something to do with your relationship with the Father, first and
     foremost.

     Perhaps you've been running your life too long by yourself.  How
     about letting this loving Father into your life to give you some
     direction?  Jesus Christ came to show the way.  He said, "I am The
     Way, The Truth and The Life.  No man comes to the Father except by
     Me" (John 14:6).

     Perhaps He has the cure for rainy days and Mondays.

                                    # # #

     6-25-2005

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     I'm not much of a chess player, but I know enough about the game to
     recognize a tough opponent, understand his moves and find
     intellectual and emotional excitement in the end game.  Fewer pieces
     are left on the board, you know your opponent's tactics and the
     tension builds.

     I realized today that getting older is a lot like this.  Going on
     seventy-five, I know a lot about my opponent--the world, the flesh
     and the devil--the evil trinity.  With the end game is in sight, I'm
     really excited!   God's "coaching" has brought an intensity and
     excitement to my life that matches my youth, when I was born-again
     at the age of seventeen.

     How's the end game going for you?  Not too well?  Is the end game
     more a muddled mess with the prospect of finishing with a loss and
     spirits low?

     It's not too late.  In a chess game, it may be unlikely, with a
     tough opponent, that you could pull off a checkmate.  But it can be
     pulled off in the end game of life.

     I've known my "Coach" for almost fifty-eight years.  I was
     introduced to Him when someone told me, "God so loved the world that
     He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should
     not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

     Are you running out of moves?  Listen to the Coach.  Give the evil
     trinity an end game checkmate.

                                    # # #

     7-2-2005

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                             The Murmuring Monk

     I was preparing a sermon titled, "Knowing God's Will and Doing It."
     It was based on Philippians 2:12-16.  When I read, "Do all things
     without murmurings and disputings," I thought about the story of the
     murmuring monk.

   A man who admired a certain monastic order believed it was God's will
   for him to become a monk.  This particular order required a vow of
   silence, which the man gladly gave.  The vow meant that he could speak
   only two words a year, and then, only at his yearly audience with the
   abbot, the head of the monastery.

   After his first year at the monastery, the monk appeared before the
   abbot, and when the abbot nodded at the monk, a signal to speak, the
   monk said, "Bed, hard."  The abbot nodded again, ending the interview.

   The second year, the monk appeared before the abbot, and when permitted
   to speak, he said, "Cell, cold."  The abbot nodded, and the monk left.

   The third year, the monk appeared before the abbot, and when permitted
   to speak, he said, "Food, terrible."   The abbot nodded and the monk
   left.

   The fourth year, the monk appeared before the abbot, and when permitted
   to speak, he said, "I quit."  The abbot replied, "Brother, I'm not
   surprised.  All you have done for the past four years is complain."

   The abbot was quite right.  Though eight words of complaint in four
   years is a lot better than the rest of us can do, the abbot made his
   point.  Whether we are part of a monastery or a church, if we all know
   God's will and experience His energizing us to do it, we should be able
   to do all things without murmurings and disputings.

   At the next church business meeting, remember the murmuring monk.

                                    # # #

     7-9-2005

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                  "You're Nobody 'Till Somebody Loves You"

     Yeah, I've been listening to some of that old music again.  I mean,
     really old.  How about Dean Martin singing this 1950's favorite?

     As with so many of the old love songs, the music's good, but the
     lyrics are sad.  The song brings back memories.  It was very popular
     when I was a marriage and family therapist.  Many of my single
     clients could identify with, "You're nobody until somebody loves
     you/ You're nobody until somebody cares."

     But sadder still were the clients who told me stories of growing up
     with parents who loved them conditionally.  No, the parents didn't
     say it in so many words, but the verbal and nonverbal message was,
     I'll love you if . . . , but love never came.  It was manipulative.
     It kept the child hoping that love would come if he or she tried
     hard enough to please.

     What was sadder, still, was the married client who told the same
     story, and then appended it with, "And I had to marry the same kind
     of person.  I'm still loved conditionally, with conditions I can
     never meet."

     Perhaps you know the feeling.  That's the bad news.  But the good
     news is a love that has been given  sacrificially and
     unconditionally.

     The Apostle Paul said, "You see, at just the right time, when we
     were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very  rarely
     will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone
     might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for
     us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom
     5: 6-8 - NIV).

     We were powerless to please a loving Father by keeping the Ten
     Commandments and the rest of the law.  This is why Jesus' Sermon On
     the Mount taught that if you're attempting to reach heaven by
     keeping the law, you must be perfect (Mt. 5:48).

     God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us an unconditional,
     sacrificial love--the sacrificial lamb of God sent to take away our
     sins.  All the Father asks is that we accept this gift of love--come
     to the Father through Jesus who calls Himself the door to the
     sheepfold.

     Perhaps if you embrace this unconditional love it will blot out the
     memories of that conditional love you've been haunted with--parents,
     who, perhaps are still living, but still not loving.  Maybe there's
     a husband or wife who is doing the same.

     You may ask how do you qualify for this Father's unconditional
     love.  If you're still a sinner, you qualify.

                                    # # #

     7-16-2005

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                                B-Flat Please

     In my 5/21/05 blog I wrote about my desire to be a professional
     pianist.  The Lord had other plans.  But I have fond memories of
     playing the piano in a dance band.

     Whenever we were going to play a gig, it was my responsibility to
     give the band a B-Flat on the piano to get their instruments tuned
     up.  Of course, if we were an orchestra with strings,  we would tune
     up to A (that being an open string).

     Beautiful music requires a band that's in tune.  But why did we tune
     to the B-Flat on the piano?  It's the way brass and woodwind
     instruments are made.  They are B-Flat instruments.  This means that
     when they match the piano's B-Flat, they are in tune.  Each
     instrument can, and must, make adjustments until it is in tune with
     the piano.  There is no debate as to what it means to be in tune
     with each other.  There is a fundamental point of agreement.
     B-Flat!

     I thought of this while listening to the news today.  I finally got
     tired of hearing the cacaphony of reporters and talking heads with
     their "fair and balanced debate" over the president's speech on the
     war against terrorism.  I don't know if it's just because I'm
     getting old, but the sound seems to be getting more and more out of
     tune.

     American culture has the idea that truth is relative.  If that is
     so, there's no such thing as being in tune with each other on the
     basis of fact.   It's almost as though the greater the dissonance,
     the greater the evidence that we're making beautiful music!

     Ah, but I have not given up hope.   Paul, writing to the
     Thessalonians about the second coming of Christ, prays for Jesus
     Christ to encourage them.

     The day* is coming when The Maestro will finally stop this noise.
     When He is done with His foes at Armageddon, He will put this
     dissonant world in tune.  I see Him step onstage, call for silence,
     and say, "Piano, B-Flat please."

     *2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

                                    # # #

     7-23-2005

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                        Stop Trying To Be Spiritual
                            (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

     When you read in the bulletin this morning that I'm going to preach
     on "Stop Trying To Be Spiritual," you may wonder what's going on.
     Pastor Hamrick preached a sermon two weeks ago called, "What It
     Means To Be Spiritual."  Now I come along and announce that I'm
     going to tell you to stop trying to be spiritual!

     Then again, some of you may have felt a great sense of relief.  If
     you're like most Christians in the world today, you've found out
     that trying to be a spiritual doesn't seem to work too well.  I
     remember as a young Christian being terribly discouraged trying to
     be spiritual.

     This was the problem the Corinthians were having.  They were trying
     to be spiritual, but it didn't seem to do any good.

     Now don't jump to conclusions.  The Pastor and I are on the same
     page.  I'm not going to try to persuade you to give up on
     Christianity.  I want to show you what your problem may be.

                   Trying To Be Spiritual Is Bound To Fail

     As we look at 1Corinthians 3:1-4, I want you to see, first of all,
     that trying to be spiritual is bound to fail.

     Paul opens Chapter 3, with this rebuke:

         Brothers, I could not address you [about the factional problem]
     as spiritual [people] but
         as worldly--mere infants in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1).

     He is telling them that trying to be spiritual is bound to fail.
     You may ask where I get that from verse 1.  Look at the word
     "worldly."

     Unfortunately, the word "worldly" is a poor translation.  The Greek
     word literally means, "fleshly."  Fleshly doesn't mean "outrageously
     immoral."  In fact, a very prim an proper church member can be
     fleshly.  Fleshly means running your life by your own effort.  It
     stands in contrast with "spiritual" where God is running your life
     by the power of the Holy Spirit.

     Fleshly behavior is usually the result of spiritual immaturity.
     Many Christians think that spirituality is achieved by trying to
     obey the Ten Commandments.  And if they fail, they assume they are
     not trying hard enough.  They don't realize that's not how you
     become spiritual.  And they don't know how to be spiritual because
     they're spiritually immature.

     This was Paul's dilemma with the Corinthians.  How do you solve
     spiritual problems like factionalism, jealousy and quarreling with
     people who don't know what it means to be spiritual?

     Think about it.  Many pastors today face this problem today.

     Perhaps I can illustrate it this way.  Let's say we have a problem
     of spiritual immaturity here.

     I go around to each member and ask these questions.

     I ask, Are you a born-again Christian?  Have you put your faith in
     Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life--the way of
     salvation?  If you truly are a believer, you'll say, Yes.

     Then I ask you, Will you tell me, as a Christian, how a person is
     supposed to live a spiritual life?  If  you're the average Christian
     you will probably tell me, Try hard to obey the Ten Commandments.

     Now you'd probably be irritated with me if I were to tell you that
     your last answer is a big problem.  It shows all the signs of
     spiritual immaturity to say that you live a spiritual life by trying
     hard to obey the Ten Commandments.  That's not the way to the
     spiritual life.

     This is the problem that Paul had with the Corinthians.  He is
     saying, I can't speak to you as spiritual people because you have
     the wrong idea of what it means to be spiritual.  You are
     fleshly--you think that the spiritual life is achieved by your
     trying.  At this point in our interview,  I probably wouldn't sound
     very friendly telling you that.

     And if that's how I came across, you would probably say, with some
     irritation, Well how do you think you're supposed to live a
     spiritual life?

     The word "spiritual" gives us a clue that it has something to do
     with a work of the Holy Spirit and not a work of our own.  Let me
     explain the difference between running my own life and letting God
     do it.  The Bible tells us,

         Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man,
     with
         his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in
         knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col. 3:9-10).

     What's this putting off the old man and putting on the new man?
     Paul is describing specifically what happened when we were saved.
     The old man, the old nature we received from Adam, was crucified
     with Christ.  He's not dead, but put out of business.  The old man
     was put off when we were saved.  The new man, our born-again spirit,
     was put on when we were saved.

     Now follow me closely.  This is an accomplished fact.  Nothing more
     needs to be done except believe it!

     When the Bible tells us, then, that we are to put off the old man
     and put on the new man, it's not saying,  Try to be spiritual.  It's
     telling us that just as Christ did everything necessary to save us,
     He has done everything necessary to give us a holy, spiritual life.
     Now believe it!  It is by faith we appropriate our salvation.  It is
     by faith we are released from the power of the old man and receive
     the power of the new man!  We put off and put on by faith in what
     Christ has already done.

     The Bible uses the expression, "obedience by faith," which means,
     "obedience that comes by faith."

     Yes, we are to be obedient.  But how we are obedient is crucial.  It
     is not I, but Christ.

     No doubt, you're acquainted with the name Frank Sinatra, the
     vocalist.  In 1968 he recorded a song that is still popular today.
     It's called, "I Did It May Way."

     The first stanza of the song goes this way:

                          And now, the end is here
                       And so I face the final curtain
                        My Friend, I'll say it clear
                  I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
                        I've lived a life that's full
                    I've traveled each and ev'ry highway
               And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

     Frank Sinatra died May 15, 1998.  Bill Clinton, president at the
     time, eulogized Frank in the news and said this:  "Frank will be
     missed profoundly by millions around the world.  But his music and
     movies will ensure that 'Ol' Blue Eyes' is never forgotten.  Today,
     I think every American would have to smile and say he really did do
     it his way."

     The Bible lets us know that the way of salvation is not by doing it
     our way.  Christ is the door to the sheepfold.

     But let's say that Frank was saved before his death.  And let's say
     he really wanted to obey God and be a spiritual Christian.  Yes,
     he'd have to give up "my way."  It would have to be obedience to
     God's way.

     But that's only half the problem.  Frank also would have to give up,
     "I Did It."

     You see, there are two parts to being spiritual.  One part is
     obedience to God's way.  The other part is how we are obedient.  Do
     we say with Frank, "I did it . . ."?  Or do we say, "Christ has done
     it through the obedience that comes by my faith, not by my trying"?

     The Corinthians didn't understand this.  They were fleshly--they ran
     their lives by their own power.  They did it their way.

     Paul speaks of their immaturity further in verse 2:

         I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.
     Indeed, you are still not
         ready (1 Cor. 3:2).

     Milk and meat have to do with the level of instruction, not
     different doctrines.  There are not some doctrines that are milk and
     others that are meat.  They are all milk or meat depending on how
     deep we go.  The doctrine of salvation is often regarded as milk,
     but it is a very profound doctrine, and there is much meat in it.

     When Paul initially was in Corinth teaching the church, he was there
     for a year-and-a-half.  He had difficulty taking them deep enough to
     understand how to be spiritual.  Now, perhaps two to five years have
     passed since these people were saved, and word comes back to Paul
     that they are in the same spiritual condition as when they were
     first saved.  They still didn't know that we live the spiritual life
     by faith in what Christ has already done instead trying hard to do
     it by ourselves.  "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not
     ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready."

     You may ask, Where does Paul get off saying this?  He's judging
     these people.

     This is not the kind of judging Christ condemns.  Paul is a fruit
     inspector.

     But you will say, That's still judging.  Yes, it's the kind of
     judging that the church should have done.  Paul looks at them and
     inspects the fruit of their lives.  Paul sees their quarreling and
     jealousy as something that they should have judged--which brings me
     to my second point.

               Trying To Be Spiritual Leads To Sinful Behavior

     Not only is trying hard to be spiritual bound to fail, trying hard
     to be spiritual leads to sinful behavior.

     Yes, you heard me right.  Trying hard to be spiritual leads to
     sinful behavior.

     You'll say, Well, I'm not going to try to be spiritual any more.   I
     hope so.  Hear me out.

     Look at verse 3.

         "You are still worldly [fleshly, running your own lives].  For
     since there is jealousy
         and quarreling among you, are you not worldly [fleshly]?  Are
     you not acting like
         mere [fleshly] men?  For when one says, "I follow Paul," and
     another, "I follow
         Apollos, are you not mere [fleshly] men (1 Cor. 3:3-4)?

     Their factional behavior betrays their spiritual condition.  You've
     heard the old saying:  If it walks like a duck and quacks like a
     duck, it must be a duck.  If it walks like a fleshly man and quacks
     like a fleshly man, it must be a fleshly man who runs his own life.

     I know that it sounds paradoxical, but trying to be spiritual
     actually leads to sinful behavior.  How can that be?  How can trying
     to be spiritual lead to sinful behavior?

     In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul recalls that when he was a baby
     Christian he had the same problem.  He knew he was saved by faith,
     but he didn't know that Christ had already delivered him from his
     sin nature and given him a new nature.  So he tried to keep the
     law.  When he tried, the law showed him that he couldn't do it.What
     was happening?  He says, Sin took advantage of the situation.  Sin
     used the law to show me that I couldn't be spiritual by trying. It
     showed me that I was still under the power of sin (Rom. 7:8).

     This was the Corinthian problem.  They couldn't be spiritual by
     trying.  Sin took advantage of their attempts at keeping the law by
     goading them into the sinful behavior of quarreling and jealousy.
     It showed them that they still didn't know how to deal with the
     power of sin in their lives.

     If you've ever been in a church that had a problem with factions--I
     am of Paul; I am of Apollos--you will understand jealousy and
     quarreling.  In his sermon two weeks ago, the Pastor gave us a good
     picture of Paul and Apollos.

     Apollos was eloquent and learned.  And I think that the Corinthians
     were awed by his style and manner.  This may be why Paul says in 1
     Corinthians 2:1, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with
     eloquence or superior wisdom . . . ."  He wasn't putting down
     Apollos.  I think that Paul in his humility would say, Apollos
     certainly outshines me in eloquence and wisdom.

     Men like Apollos, whether they are good-looking or not, often have a
     powerful personalities that people find beautiful.  Look at your TV
     preachers.  All of them have powerful personalities that draw
     people.

     Paul wasn't this kind of person.  What is more, he probably had an
     eye disease that disfigured his face. In fact, Paul may have been
     downright ugly.  The one thing Paul had going for him was his
     apostleship--he was uniquely chosen by God to write much of the New
     Testament.  Though Apollos was well-versed in the Old Testament,
     Paul, as an apostle, was getting new revelation from God.

     Now when you put Paul up against Apollos, you get a hint of what the
     quarreling and jealousy was about--not between them, but between the
     Corinthian factions.  In fact, Paul had a lot of confidence in
     Apollos and sent him to Corinth to minister in his absence.  But I
     can image that the quarreling between the Corinthian factions was
     over which one was smarter.  The Paul faction would point to his
     apostleship.  The Apollos faction would point to his knowledge of
     the Old Testament.  The Apollos faction would also point to his
     eloquence and tremendous personality.  The Paul faction was probably
     jealous that Apollos did have that over Paul--but they wouldn't
     admit it!

     Spiritual people wouldn't do this!  They wouldn't make these
     comparisons.  They would be glad that God was so rich in his gifts
     to the Corinthian church that they had two wonderful men:  Paul and
     Apollos.  And in verse twenty-two, Cephas, the Apostle Peter, is
     also mentioned.  Praise God; the Corinthian church had three
     wonderful teachers.

     But the Corinthians were worldly--fleshly.  Holy Spirit was not
     influencing their judgments.  Their judgments were based on the
     fleshly question, Who's the best!

     A church that is a unified body of Christ, together in the power of
     the Holy Spirit, is glad for all of the members of the body.  As
     Paul says later in his letter to the Corinthians, comparing the
     human body to the body of Christ, One member of the body doesn't say
     to the other, I have no need of you.

     Many years ago I knew of a situation that was very much like the
     Paul and Apollos situation.  A seminary professor, whom I believe to
     be one of the outstanding preachers in this country, was invited to
     candidate for a church.  The church did not give him a positive vote
     and turned him down.  It certainly couldn't have been because of his
     preaching.  He is outstanding.  The only thing I can imagine is that
     he is a rather homely fellow.

     As providence would have it, he recommended one of his students to
     the pulpit committee.  The church voted to have student fill the
     vacancy.  The only thing I can conclude is that the vote was based
     on appearances and not on the quality of preaching.

                                 Conclusion

     Spiritual immaturity is still a scourge in the church today.  We
     need to deal with problems like factionalism, where quarreling and
     jealousy are a spiritual problem.  But we first need to know what
     "spiritual" is in order to deal with our spiritual problems.
     Spiritual immaturity stands in the way.

     I invite you today to stop trying to be  spiritual.  Let Frank
     Sinatra's philosophy die with him.  It's not, "I Did It My Way."
     It's not even, I did it.  Being spiritual is through obedience that
     comes by faith.

                                    # # #

     7-30-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

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   4. mailto:?body=Here's%20an%20article%20I%20think%20you'll%20find%20interesting.%20%20http://withChrist.org/AndyB/7302005.htm

                    I Got An E-Mail From Blind Bartimaeus

     I got an e-mail from blind Bartimaeus.  Well, let me back up and
     explain.  He is blind, and I got an e-mail, but he isn't the
     two-thousand-year-old beggar from Jericho mentioned in Mark 10:46.
     But his website is called Bartimaeus Alliance of the Blind,
     [1]http://thegems.shellworld.net

     Bartimaeus, that is, Grant (his real name) originally wrote me in
     February 2005 after coming across this blog in withChrist.org.  I
     was amazed that a blind man used a computer and was so conversant by
     e-mail!  But this was just the start of finding out how amazing this
     man is.  Not only is he now his own web curator, he also has
     produced on the web nine of Lewis Sperry Chafer's writings.  He also
     ministers to the blind and sighted readers of his website.  But he
     is even more amazing when you hear his story.

     He was blinded in a tragic accident at age seven and at age fifteen
     suddenly lost both of his parents in an automobile accident.  Though
     he had made a profession of faith in Christ at age six, he wrestled
     with doubts about his relationship with the Lord for many years.  At
     age twenty-nine, he heard a Sunday school lesson on 1 Corinthians
     15:1-5 and saw clearly, with the eyes of his mind, that Christ died
     for his sins.  He recently told me in an e-mail, "It was then the
     Spirit enlightened me, and I thought, 'I don't know what day I first
     believed that gospel message, but I know what I believed and believe
     it now.'"  Grant is now sixty-five, married, with two daughters and
     one grandchild.

     I've mused over this story for some time.  Here is a man blinded at
     age seven and losing both parents at age fifteen.  He had every
     reason to shake his fist in God's face and ask, What do you think
     you're doing?

     How do we explain this?  The God of miracles is still making the
     blind to see.  Yes, Grant is still physically blind, but perhaps he
     sees something, my friend, that you are blind to.  The Apostle Paul,
     again, writing to the Corinthians, said,

         But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  in
     whom the god of this world hath blinded
         the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the
     glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image
         of God, should shine unto them (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

     That gospel (the "good news") that Grant saw with the eyes of his
     mind is the simple message that Christ died for our sins, was
     buried, rose from the dead, and seen by upwards of five-hundred
     people at the same time.

     God can take away that blindness of your mind if you will pin your
     faith on Jesus Christ.  I would love to get an e-mail from another
     "blind Bartimaeus" who now can see.

                                    # # #

     8-6-2005

                         [2]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

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References

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   4. http://www.withChrist.org/copyright.htm
   5. mailto:?body=Here's%20an%20article%20I%20think%20you'll%20find%20interesting.%20%20http://withChrist.org/AndyB/862005.htm

                    Is God Trying To Get Your Attention?

     In the old days when mules were used for plowing, a farmer, who gave
     up farming, didn't know what to do with his unemployed mule.  He had
     grown very attached to the beast.  Finally, he decided to put it out
     to pasture.

     The farmer's neighbor, who need a mule, noticed the idle mule in the
     pasture and asked if he could buy it.  The owner said, "I've had
     this mule for many years and am quite attached to it.  I'll sell it
     to you if you promise to take very good care of it.  I don't want
     you mistreating it." The neighbor agreed.

     Several days later the new owner went back to the previous owner
     complaining that the mule was stubborn and would do no work.  So the
     previous owner went to see what was going on.

     "Let me see what you're doing," the former owner asked.  So the new
     owner got behind the mule and plow, shook the reins, and yelled, "Ye
     Ha!" to get the mule to start plowing.

     Nothing!  The mule just stood there. Several times the farmer
     yelled, "Ye Ha," but still nothing.

     The former owner said, "You're doing everything right, except for
     one thing."  He got behind the plow, took the reins in one hand, and
     with several feet of slack rein in the other hand, he smacked the
     mule twice on the rear end, and yelled, "Ye Ha!"  The mule
     obediently began plowing.

     The new owner was amazed.  When he found his tongue, he said, "Wait
     a minute.  You told me to take very good care of this mule and not
     mistreat it, and here you go and smack it with the reins."

     "That's right," the former owner said.  "But if you're going to get
     him to do what he's supposed to do, you have to get his attention
     first."

     I thought of this story when I was reading Hebrews 12 on
     chastening.  "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,
     nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:  for whom the Lord loveth he
     chasteneth . . ." (Heb. 12:5b-6).  In Scripture, instruction and
     chastening are inseparable.

     The Hebrew word musar is used twenty-four times in the Book of
     Proverbs where instruction and chastisment are almost synonymous.
     It is a truism of education that if we are to be instructed, the
     instructor must first have our attention!

     Perhaps that sharp pain you're feeling on your gluteus maximus is a
     message from The Instructor that He wants your attention.

                                    # # #

     8-13-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

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                          Watch Out; They're Back!

     The full-page color ad in a popular magazine sounded familiar, but I
     couldn't place it because no religious group identified itself.  It
     offered a free booklet called Revelation:  The Mystery Unveiled!

     It didn't take much work on Google to track them down.  Of course it
     sounded familiar--a Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God
     redux.

     Armstrong, who died in 1986, opened the way for Roderick Meredith to
     fill the vacuum he left.   Meredith, whose doctrines follow the
     teachings of Armstrong, is now the leader of the Living Church of
     God, a cult with a crazy mixture of theology taken from the
     Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, Adventism, and Church of God 7th
     Day.

     An informative website on this dangerous cult can be found at
     [1]http://www.exitsupportnetwork.com/artcls/meredith.htm *  In
     addition to information on the cult, the site has published letters
     about the Living Church of God shooting spree that occurred during
     Sabbath services in Brookfield, Wisconsin on March 12, 2005.  The
     website also offers two other informative articles:   "Identifying
     Marks of an Exploitive, Abusive Group" and "Lifton's Eight Criteria
     of Mind Control," which includes how it is used by Armstrong's
     disciples.

     New believers are in danger of being snared by this cult by what
     appears to be a belief in Christ as the way of salvation.  In their
     booklet, Is This the ONLY Day of SALVATION?, Scripture is widely
     quoted pointing to Christ as the way of salvation.  And yet,
     grace-faith salvation is, in reality, denied by Meredith who teaches
     that you must keep certain Old Testament laws and rituals in order
     to obey God and to be born again.  And that, according to Meredith,
     doesn't occur until the resurrection!

     The exhortation by the Apostle Peter is timely in view of this.  He
     says, "Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on
     your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of
     lawless men and fall from your secure position.  But grow in the
     grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be
     glory both now and forever!  Amen" (2 Pet. 3:17-18).

     In other words, watch out; they're back!

     * This website is offered for information only and does not
     represent a blanket endorsement of it.

                                    # # #

     8-20-2005

                         [2]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

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References

   1. http://www.exitsupportnetwork.com/artcls/meredith.htm
   2. http://www.withChrist.org/AndyB/abustanoby.htm
   3. mailto:fgasb@rivnet.net
   4. http://www.withChrist.org/copyright.htm
   5. mailto:?body=Here's%20an%20article%20I%20think%20you'll%20find%20interesting.%20%20http://withChrist.org/AndyB/8202005.htm

                             Does Your Dog Bite?

     One of the amusing scenes from Peter Seller's classic Pink Panther
     series of films is where he goes into a small hotel to get a room.
     Sellers, playing the part of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, steps
     up to a desk where a room clerk is standing, and a dog is lying at
     his feet beside him.

     Clouseau, asking for a room in his heavy French accent, says, "Do
     you have a 'urhoom'?"  The clerk says, "A what?"  Clouseau says
     with  annoyed emphasis, "A urhoom!"

     The clerk says, "Do you mean, a room?"  Clouseau answers with great
     annoyance, "That's what I said, you idiot--a urhoom!"

     The clerk replied that he did, and while Clouseau waited for the
     clerk to register him, he noticed the dog lying on the floor beside
     him.   Clouseau asked the clerk, "Does your dog bite?"  The clerk
     said, "No, he doesn't."

     Clouseau bent over to pet the dog, which suddenly snapped at his
     hand and growled.  Clouseau, quickly stepped back and said
     indignantly, "I thought your dog didn't bite!"  The clerk, without
     looking up, said, "That's not my dog."

     Of course the hilarity of the scene was heightened by the fact that
     the clerk knew full well what Clouseau was asking but was ready to
     tell a "deceptive truth" to get even for being called an idiot.

     I wonder how many times we do this kind of thing.  We won't tell a
     lie, but the truth we tell may not be a lie but really is a
     deception.  We may do it to get even with someone, or we may do it
     to get ourselves out of a difficult situation.  But in either case,
     it's a deception.

     Perhaps we would be less glib about this practice if we would
     remember that we learned it from the father of lies, the Devil
     himself (John 8:44).  Remember the story of the Fall?  The Devil
     told Eve that if she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and
     evil, she would not die, but she would be like God, knowing good and
     evil (Gen. 3:4-5).

     This was a masterful deception.  It was true that she wouldn't
     physically drop dead the moment she ate.  And when she ate she would
     also know good and evil.  But this was, no doubt, the worst
     deception the human race ever experienced.

     The next time you consider deception rather than an outright lie,
     give it some thought.  And, by the way, if I ever ask you if your
     dog bites, let's make sure we both know what dog I'm talking about.

                                    # # #

     8-27-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

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References

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   4. mailto:?body=Here's%20an%20article%20I%20think%20you'll%20find%20interesting.%20%20http://withChrist.org/AndyB/8272005.htm

                           The Wars You Can't Win

     No, this isn't about our current war on terrorism.  It's about
     guerrilla warfare in the church.

     After thirteen years in the pastorate, I left in 1973.  I was a
     "pastoral dropout."  Though I don't have any statistics on the
     present situation in the pastorate, my search through Google reveals
     that a great deal of attention is being given to the subject.

     The reason for my leaving the pastorate is a long story.  But you
     can read it in the Christianity Today publication, Leadership
     (Winter 1993, Volume XIV, Number 1).  The entire issue is on church
     conflict.  Or you can get a copy of my article by sending me an
     e-mail (see address at end of blog).

     Though there are many reasons for pastors leaving, the lament that
     breaks my heart, one that I hear again and again, is that of Elijah
     whom The Apostle Paul quotes:

         "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars;
         I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me" (Rom.
     11:3).

     That may sound a bit melodramatic, but not to those who have been
     there or are there now.  For those who are there now, I share with
     you the major points of my conclusion, "Signs of a No-Win War."

     **Is there a history of factionalism?  Sometimes new pastors are not
     aware of past problems in the church.  Even though I knew of some
     when I accepted the pastorate of this church, I was naive.

     **Are your peace initiatives having no effect?  Not only did my
     efforts at making peace have no effect, the guerrillas kept sniping
     at me and my family after we left.

     **Are the leaders willing to pay the price to win the war?  What
     kind of elders and deacons do you have?  Are they spiritually minded
     people with some combat experience?  There will be casualties.

     **Is there enough popular support to win the war?  While I had over
     eighty-percent of the congregation behind me, other factors made me
     realize that this would be an unnecessarily bloody war.

     **Is the opposition willing to negotiate, or do they demand
     unconditional surrender?  They demanded unconditional surrender.

     **Are you unable to protect your own family?  This was probably the
     hardest part.  My wife and four sons were being wounded too.

     **Do you know why you're fighting?  Is there any element in your
     personality that drives you to win?  I'm not talking about being led
     of God.  I'm talking about a fleshly need to win.

     If you are a pastor facing what may look like a no-win situation,
     I'd be happy to correspond with you.  We may not know what God is
     doing, but He does.  I end my article in Leadership with these
     words:

         Though this episode of my life was painful, if I could write a
         finale, it would read as Job's:  "The Lord blessed the latter
         part of [his] life more than the first."

                                    # # #

     9-3-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

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                         And Then There Were Eleven

     Though seminarians are not taught that success in the pastorate is
     measured by the size of their church, everything that they see while
     in seminary and after graduation says just the opposite.  Pastors
     invited to speak at the seminary are from megachurches.  Television
     preachers usually are pastors with megachurches.  But this fixation
     on the megachurch may be a source of discouragement to the majority
     of the nation's pastors.

     A study done at Duke University reveals that two-thirds of all
     pastors preach to congregations of one-hundred or less.  And only
     twenty-five percent of churchgoers attend such churches.  This means
     that two-thirds of the pastors in this country minister to
     twenty-five percent of the church-going public.

     The significance of these statistics to me is this.  If numbers
     mean  success, two-thirds of the pastorate is not successful!  I
     don't accept that conclusion, but I'm sure that many pastors feel
     that way.

     I often think of the ministry of Jesus.  He came to die for our sins
     and to establish a church that would proclaim His gospel.  In three
     years of ministry, He poured most of His time, attention, teaching
     and life into just twelve men, yet one betrayed Him.  Though the
     failure was in Judas, not Jesus, that's more than eight percent of
     this small band.

     Considering numbers, this wasn't very promising.   Though three
     thousand were added to the church on the Day of Pentecost, we don't
     read of megachurches in the New Testament.  We read of individuals
     and the discipling of individuals.  Even the most extensive list of
     believers recorded in Scripture at the end of Paul's letter to the
     Romans reveals that there were not so many believers in Rome that
     they got lost in the crowd.  Two letters were written to just one
     man--Timothy, Paul's son in the faith.  Titus, whom Paul also calls
     a son in the faith, gets a letter and a place in the New Testament.
     Though two believers and a house-church are greeted in the letter to
     Philemon, the burden of the letter is to this slave master about his
     slave.

     What I'm getting at is this.  Christianity has not made an impact on
     the world through the building of megachurches.  It's impact on the
     world comes through the building of individual believers.

     For you pastors who minister to the few, my prayers are that God may
     give you the kind of faithful eleven that Jesus discipled.  Therein
     lies the future of the church.

                                    # # #

     9-10-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

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References

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                         Is Falling In Love Enough?

     I'm not an expert on safety issues, but I will hazard a guess that
     more people are hurt in falls than in any other kind of injury.  And
     the type of fall that I have seen produce the most injuries is
     falling in love!  I offer this as a result of my observations over
     twenty-five years as a marriage and family therapist.

     When I ask, Is falling in love enough, I'm asking if it's enough to
     keep a marriage going?  According to the duet Nat King Cole and his
     daughter sing, "If I fall in love, it will be forever."  Don't kid
     yourself.  It won't be.  Unless there is more to your relationship
     than falling in love, it won't last long.

     Psychologist Everett Shostrom, years ago, made an extensive study of
     male/female love, and as a result of his findings, he developed an
     excellent test called The Caring Relationship Inventory.  He
     examines five types of love essential to a lasting marriage and
     developed a questionaire and evaluation scales to see what kind and
     how much of these loves exist in any given marriage.  The loves he
     examines are eros, agape, friendship, empathy and self-love.

                                    Eros

     I mention eros first because this is the primary emotion that
     precipitates falling in love.  It isn't just the sexy look of the
     significant other.  An attractive personality plays a large part.
     But we fantasize things about that personality that may not be true
     at all, or, we might not see that the traits we admire are really
     excessive and maladaptive when you really get to know this person.
     A strong, competent man may turn out to be so controlling he
     smothers you.  A modest, demure woman may assure a man that she
     would never try to control him, but she may actually be
     maladaptively self-effacing, always punishing herself for real or
     imagined failures.  Wounding herself, she may not be a fully
     functional mate.

     These two types are often attracted to each other.  But after
     marriage, they are shocked by extreme behavior.  Someone put it well
     when he said, Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener.

                                    Agape

     Agape love is essential to the marriage if it is to survive.  While
     eros survives on finding your mate attractive, agape love does not
     require it.  Agape chooses to love.  It does not require the other
     person to be attractive.

     This is the love wherewith God loved us.  God so loved (agape) the
     world that He sent His only begotten son to die for us.  While we
     were yet sinners, Christ died for us!  This is the love the
     Corinthians were told would help them deal with the problem of
     division in the church (1 Cor. 13).

     The need for agape is essential to marriage.  All marriages suffer
     in some degree to a loss of eros, and there is a degree of falling
     out of love.  In our relationship with God we love Him because He
     first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).  I have found that when a husband or
     wife shows agape love, the mate is very likely to love in return.

     It is for this reason that the current practice of couples living
     together to see if it works, or to see if they are really in love,
     is foolish.  It is foolish because it lacks the committment to each
     other that is found in agape, the choice, the decision to love and
     make it work.

                                 Friendship

     Friendship in marriage is essential because it occupies us about
     something besides each other.  But at the same time, it promotes a
     togetherness.  Eros is a face to face relationship; friendship is a
     shoulder to shoulder relationship.

     I often think of this as my wife, Fay and I, sit side by side in our
     recliner chairs, looking out of the picture windows at the beautiful
     bay in front of us.  As we enjoy the scenery together, we talk about
     what is currently going on in our lives and reminisce about the
     events of almost fifty-five years of marriage.  We remember how
     together we invested our lives in getting an education, our time in
     the pastorate, in establishing a business, in raising four wonderful
     sons and now are enjoying the benefits of ten grandchildren and four
     great-grandchildren.

     And we also recognize the differentness in our personalities that
     made essentially different contributions to our marriage and the
     rearing of our children.  We see the wisdom of God in creating male
     and female and counterparts (Gen. 2:20).  And that differentness is
     respected because we see it as a God-ordained differentness.

     Friendship is about something besides each other.  Friendship is a
     respect of differentness where each brings something essentially
     different to the relationship.

                                   Empathy

     Empathy is the ability to enter into what other people are feeling
     and feel it with them.  It's extremely important for husbands to
     understand this.

     Men tend to be creatures of the head; women tend to be creatures of
     the heart.  Because of this, men tend to be problem solvers.  They
     are ready to take out the calculator and explore solutions.  Women,
     on the other hand, touched by feelings, need to talk about the
     problem.  Talking to someone who is empathetic enables her to get in
     touch with her feelings in ways that she can't do just by thinking
     about the problem.  Talking with an empathetic person often brings
     to light feelings that she didn't realize she had.  She is able to
     understand her feelings better.  And often, because she understands
     her feelings better, she is less troubled by the problem.  Many
     times I have found that women will conclude that there is not a
     problem that needs solving.

     This phenomenon is not a liability to the marriage but a definite
     asset.  Women are able to explore dimensions of a problem in ways
     that man does not naturally do--the feeling or
     human dimensions of the problem.  As counterparts, they bring
     together the best in problem solving--the objective and the
     subjective.

                                  Self-love

     It may seem strange to speak of self-love in a husband/wife
     relationship.  Aren't we supposed to love others instead of
     ourselves?

     The answer is this.  We can't begin to love others unless we are
     fully functional persons ourselves.  We must understand that unless
     we have a healthy view of our own wants, wishes and needs, we're not
     going to have a healthy view of the wants, wishes and needs of our
     mate.

     The Bible speaks of self-love when it speaks of the creation of male
     and female (Gen. 2:24) and the husband/wife relationship being a
     picture of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-33).  They are one
     flesh; the husband loves his wife as his own body.  A healthy
     self-love promotes a healthy understanding of the needs of our mate.

                                 Conclusion

     The absence of any of these five loves, eros, agape, friendship,
     empathy and self-love, can create a dangerous void in a marriage and
     may hasten the process of falling out of love.  Competent counseling
     can go a long way to developing these qualities in a relationship.

     Is falling in love enough?  No, it isn't!

                                    # # #

     9-17-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

                                 [2]Email Me

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References

   1. http://www.withChrist.org/AndyB/abustanoby.htm
   2. mailto:fgasb@rivnet.net
   3. http://www.withChrist.org/copyright.htm
   4. mailto:?body=Here's%20an%20article%20I%20think%20you'll%20find%20interesting.%20%20http://withChrist.org/AndyB/9172005.htm

                     Where Is My Mate; Where Is My Nest?

     I live on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.  Practically every day
     I take a cruise on my boat.  One of the things I love to do is watch
     the osprey and listen to music on my boat CD.

     Osprey frequent our area, and this is the season for raising and
     fledging their little ones to migrate when the fall comes.  The
     osprey love to build their nests on high channel markers that are
     secure from predators.

     For the past few weeks I've noticed a female on a channel marker
     without a nest, and when I pass her, she fusses at me, and then
     flies away.  I've been wondering where her mate is.  They should
     have their nest by now, and she should be sitting on her eggs.  This
     just contributed to the emotions I was feeling as I cruised.

     We had a tragic accident in our town.  A woman lost her husband, a
     police officer, on their sixth anniversary.  I was thinking about
     her, feeling very teary.  When the osprey shouted at me, I wept.  I
     felt she was screaming, Where's my mate; where's my nest?  And then
     to top it off, my CD started to play, Everybody Needs Somebody
     Sometime.

     This week, I am going to talk to this new widow.  What can I say?
     Several times before, in this blog, I have confessed my inability to
     explain what God is doing.

     All I know is this.  Either God is God of all or He is not God at
     all.  My only comfort is that which came to Job.  We may not know
     what He's doing, but God knows what He's doing.

                                    # # #

     9-24-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

                                 [2]Email Me

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References

   1. http://www.withChrist.org/AndyB/abustanoby.htm
   2. mailto:fgasb@rivnet.net
   3. http://www.withChrist.org/copyright.htm
   4. mailto:?body=Here's%20an%20article%20I%20think%20you'll%20find%20interesting.%20%20http://withChrist.org/AndyB/9242005.htm

                                 "Hi, Dad!"

         He was a good looking, well-built young man.  He greeted me with
     a smile and said, "Hi, Dad!"
         "Do I know you?" I asked.
         "I'm your third son!"
         "You're not my third son.  My third son is Peter."
         "No," he replied.  "I'm your third son.  Peter is your fourth
     son.  Jonathan is your fifth son.  Stephen and David are your first
     and second sons."

     Then I snapped out of my fantasy.  I wasn't in heaven as I
     imagined.  I was drifting in my boat on calm water thinking of
     eternity, thinking of my family--four sons, ten grandchildren and
     four great-grandchildren.  But, yes, a fifth son came into sight in
     my fantasy.  Having sired four sons, I can imagine this fifth child
     is also a son.  Let me explain.

         When I was in seminary over forty-five years ago, my wife became
     pregnant for the third time.  We had two wonderful sons already,
     Steve and Dave, and looked forward to the birth of a third child.
     The doctor had told us that Fay's pregnancy was going normally and
     that the child was developing properly.
         Early one morning Fay developed abdominal cramps, went to the
     bathroom, and in few minutes urgently called me.
         "Come here!  I've had a miscarriage.  I need your help."
         When I went into the bathroom she said, "I need you to pull the
     umbilical cord loose."
         Dumbfounded, and in a daze I did as I was instructed--pulled the
     cord loose, and the dead fetus fell into the toilet.
         We called the doctor who came by to see her and look at the
     fetus.  When he came he asked, "Where is the fetus?"
         "In the bathroom," I replied.
         We went to the bathroom, and he asked again, "Where is the
     fetus?"
         "It's in the toilet."
         The doctor looked at me as if to say, "Well, get it."
         I was still in a daze, but got a wash basin, reached into the
     bloody water, and retrieved the fetus.
         It looked like a small human child.  I couldn't guess the age,
     and the doctor never told us.  In fact, he told us very little and
     left.  Yes, left us with the fetus.
         I don't remember much after that except that I asked a seminary
     buddy to help me bury the fetus.  I needed someone with me for
     emotional strength.  This was not a fetus.  It was our expected
     third child.

     This is what my fantasy was all about.  I was in heaven with my
     family--not four sons, but with five sons.  I have thought of this
     before-- that I really have five children, probably all sons.  But
     this is the first time in my world of fantasy that I saw him and met
     him.

     You see, I'm one of those people who believes that human life starts
     at conception.  David the psalmist said, "Behold, I was shapen in
     iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me . . ." (Ps. 51: 5
     KJV).  Only of a human being can it be said that he was conceived as
     a sinner.  And only by the grace of God can such a sinner find a
     home in heaven.

     Yes, he's gone ahead of the rest of the family.  But a reunion is
     coming.  It won't be too long before his mother and I will see him.
     This time I'll be able to answer him.  My first words will be, "Hi,
     son.  Give us a hug."

                                    # # #

     10-1-2005

                         [1]Andy Bustanoby Home Page

                                 [2]Email Me

                   [3]Copyright  1996-2005 WithChrist.org

                        [4]Mail this page to a friend

References

   1. http://www.withChrist.org/AndyB/abustanoby.htm
   2. mailto:fgasb@rivnet.net
   3. http://www.withChrist.org/copyright.htm
   4. mailto:?body=Here's%20an%20article%20I%20think%20you'll%20find%20interesting.%20%20http://withChrist.org/AndyB/1012005.htm

                         "FW: FW: Stop The Fiction"

     The forwarded fiction keeps coming, in spite of my blog on 6-4-05, "I
     Got Some Leaven In My E-Mail."  This time it was about the price of
     gasoline and what we should do about it.  The exact letter was
     debunked over a year ago by Snopes.com (Urban Legends).

     The thing that bothers me is that my mailing list is made up mostly
     of Christians, and Christians are circulating fiction and "urban
     legends" to each other without checking them out.  Do you know that
     non-Christians are doing the same thing with the subject of
     "religion," and often, Christianity in particular?  I just checked
     "religion" in Snopes.com and found twenty-five false statements
     being circulated under "religion."

     When we do this, we give credence to the unbeliever's assertion that
     we Christians are easily hoaxed--the biggest ones being our belief
     in the Bible and Christianity.   This is my "FW: FW:" to you to stop
     the fiction.  Check it out first with TruthOrFiction.com or
     Snopes.com.  Don't give the impression that Christians don't check
     out the truth.

                                    # # #

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