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seen the television shows that “make- over” people so they are hardly
recognizable even to those who know them. Experts are brought in to
choose just the right clothes, hairstyle, and makeup for them. They
look and even act like different people. Paul says that sometimes Satan
does the same thing—he “…transforms himself into an angel of light” (2
Cor. 11:14). It’s a clear warning to those of us who think we know him.
But we need to take this a little farther to see it in our current
What do you suppose an “angel of light” is like?
In Scripture, light is a consistent meta- phor for the pure nature of
God and the way of righteousness (1 Tim. 6:16; Jas. 1:17; 1 Jn. 1:5).
Darkness is the way of sin from which we have been called “…into His
marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). So, an “angel of light” would be a
“messenger” or someone who presents himself as being consistent with
the nature of God and the way of righteousness and one who claims and
appears to be in “His marvelous light.” It is someone who is an
advocate for the things of “light” (righteous- ness and truth) over the
things of “darkness” (sin and error).
the obvious point of 2 Corinthians 11:14 is that things aren’t always
as they appear. False apostles and deceitful workers don’t always wear
black hats. It’s an old trick: “…as the serpent deceived Eve by his
craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is
Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Now this may state the obvious, but Satan only
needs to masquerade himself and his ways when people are truly
interested in the light and in avoiding darkness. Just how hard does he
have to try to disguise himself today?|
Do we think nothing of letting Satan enter our houses through our TV’s
and portray fornication in front of us? Where is the masquerade? Do we
laugh over Satan’s silly drunken behavior? Do we accept his greed and
covetousness and selfish ambitions as success and happiness? Where is
the deception? When lewdness is style, lies are the “loving” thing, and
heresies are just being politically correct, Satan doesn’t even need to
wear a mask. Why would Satan pretend to bear the fruit of the Spirit
when the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-23) are the accepted norm?
should come as a shock to us that Satan generally need not mask himself
among us, but it gets worse. If Satan were to disguise himself as an
angel of light, it would likely seriously harm his influence today.
Angels of light are not popular on TV or in the movies. Angels of light
are not generally elected to government office. Angels of light are not
tolerated long in pulpits. Angels of light seem boring on dates or
backward, weird, judgmental, or hateful.
Look at Satan. The mask is off and he is not hiding. Pure evil is
before us. We must not harden our hearts (Heb. 3:8, 13) or allow our
consciences to be seared (1 Tim. 4:2). Actively “Set your mind on
things above, not on the things on earth. For you died, and your life
is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then
you will also appear with Him in glory”(Col. 3:2-4). Satan is not
afraid to show himself in our world today. Look at him and his filthy,
evil, death-filled world. Look at Jesus and His pure, righteous,
eternal life-filled kingdom. Take a good, long look. The masquerade is
over. The choice is clear.
940 N. Elmwood Dr., Aurora, Illinois 60506
Sheep In Wolves' Clothing
By AL DIESTELKAMP
all heard of and been warned about “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matt.
7:15), but do we recognize the absurdity of sheep in wolves’
clothing? When Jesus told His disciples, “Behold,
I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16), He never
intended that His sheep imitate wolves.
Borrowing Jesus’ illustration, suppose a sheep, in order to survive,
dressed up as a wolf (thinking wolves would leave him alone). To truly
convince the wolves, he would have to occasionally kill a lamb. The
shepherd, judging from the actions of the “acting” sheep, would kill
The moral: Sheep better act like sheep and Christians better act like Christ.
|One is not truly a Christian
simply because he believed and was baptized. Jesus said, “You will know
them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs
from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad
tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad
tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut
down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know
them” (Matt. 7:16).
Jesus has called us to be different from the world and to appear different from the worldly. Are we acting like sheep, following the lead of our loving Shepherd, or do our actions disguise us as wolves?
260 N. Aspen Dr., Cortland, Illinois 60112
By ANDY DIESTELKAMP
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past November my cousin David and I returned to Sierra Leone and
rendezvoused there with Sunday Ayandare of Nigeria. This was my fifth
three-week journey to this impoverished country since 2011. (We had to
skip a couple of years when Sierra Leone was at the center of the ebola
epidemic). This country is only about the size of South Carolina, but
it is not particularly easy to travel about because of the poor
infrastructure. We have primarily worked in Bo, the country’s second
largest city. Bo is a four-hour drive from the airport in Lungi which
is located on the Atlantic coast just north of the capital city of
Freetown. Sierra Leone is just seven degrees north of the equator. The
tropical climate quickly saps us northerners of our
The average American would be shocked and depressed by the degree of
poverty that he would observe there. Most Americans and many Sierra
Leonians assume that our “missionary work” is benevolent (digging
wells, building hospitals, etc.). Indeed, many people believe this is
the best good that could be done for such a poor people. Missionary
societies have been sending white men there for centuries to address
social problems; but what this nation needs is what every nation
needs—a good dose of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the truly
best work that can be done.
The desire to address people’s social needs first as a means of
cultivating the soil of their hearts for spiritual planting will always
be there. It be- comes all the more tempting when the disparity
|between economies is so great. Alleviating im-
mediate individual needs is often relatively afford- able on a
case-by-case basis. However, my grandfather did a lot of work in
Nigeria in the 50’s and 60’s and noted in his autobiography that “The
argument is made that ‘We have to heal their bodies before we can save
their souls,’ or ‘You can’t preach salvation to starving people.’” His
response to this rationale was, “Pure, unadulter- ated truth will save
souls, whether they be hungry, sick or ignorant. More or less than that
pure truth may fill church buildings and may win the applause of men,
but it will not put names [in] the book of life.” A more modern
aphorism is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how
much you care.” Is this why the people rejected all of God’s prophets
from Abel to Zechariah as they labored to present the Word of God and
get people to repent? No, indeed, the people rejected God’s prophets
because the people did not want to repent and return to God’s ways.
I believe we should have compassion (and we do); but it is not
compassionate to systematically offer a social gospel as the
prerequisite to hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, offering a
social gospel creates all kinds of problems which inevitably result
from cultivating a love of money and material things and leads to
jealousies, rivalries, corruption, heresies, and every other evil
thing. In the end, the prioritization of social and economic needs
above spiritual needs does not truly convert people to Jesus Christ but
rather to an ostensibly benevolent organization which, in
|the long run, makes and keeps the recipients dependent on “the system.”
We could make some applications of this
truth to politics within our own country. However, our work is
spiritual, not political. We find that these people—who are in the
depths of poverty—are willing to sit for hours in a “coffee shop”
(picture a frame of wooden poles covered in corrugated metal) listening
to the reading of Scripture and discussing its implications for our
lives. The social problems in all countries could begin to be addressed
much more effectively if people would first truly submit to Jesus as
Lord. My hope for Sierra Leone is that at least people there will
patiently listen to and discuss the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not
certain that Americans sitting in a Starbucks would give me three
minutes of their attention, let alone three hours.
What are your greatest concerns for you, your family, and your nation?
Do these concerns re- volve around having economic prosperity, social
justice, and equality for all? I suggest that our greatest concerns
must be spiritual and that true hope is grounded in the truth of God’s
Word which offers salvation to all, regardless of this life’s
circumstances. Our faith must not be in democ- racy, capitalism,
patriotism, social programs, denominations, or missionary societies.
Our faith must be in Jesus Christ and the message He sent into all the
world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15,16; Ac. 2:14-39, etc.).
323 E. Indiana Ave., Pontiac, Illinois 61764
By STEVE FONTENOT
undeniably spells “failed marriage.” But what of those marriages where
the rule is unhappiness? While they may stay together, is this
relationship what God intended?
Commitment affects the success or failure of a marriage—not simply a
commitment to stay together but a commitment to be what God wants a
husband or wife to be. It is one thing to be a “wife” because you were
joined in a covenant of marriage; it is quite another to be a “helper
suitable” for one’s husband (Gen. 2:18). It takes more than a piece of
paper and a ring to be a “companion.” A companion is one who shares
one’s life, dispelling loneliness, sharing burdens, and providing
mental, social, physical, and spiritual (Lk 2:52) camaraderie which
“corresponds” (Gen. 2:18, NASB footnote) to the unique individual to
whom one is pledged. Likewise, commitment to “cleave” to a wife
involves more than bringing home the beans or just being home. Plopping
down in front of the TV, burying oneself in a newspaper, or going out
to pursue one’s hobbies when your wife has looked forward all day to conversation,
|attention, and affection from her mate is hardly reflective of one who
understands and is committed to being a loving companion.
Husbands, are you committed to “love your wives as Christ also loved
the church” (Eph 5:25) and “live with your wives in an understanding
way...and grant her honor...” (1 Pet. 3:7)? Wives, are you committed to
“respecting” (Eph. 5:31) your husband in his solemn role as leader of
your family, striving to “do him good and not evil all the days of your
life” (Prov. 31:12)? Are you committed to meeting one another’s sexual
needs and interests (1 Cor. 7:1-5)?
Haphazard, lazy, selfish attitudes and conduct will not produce
successful marriages. You may not divorce, but without commitment to
the love, service, and honor of one another, your marriage will “fail”
to reach the potential God intended.
318542 Crestline Road, Humble, Texas 77396
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That We Would Not Trust in Ourselves
By RICK LIGGIN
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we do not want you to be unaware, breth- ren, of our affliction which
came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our
strength, so that we despaired even of life; in- deed, we had the
sentence of death within our- selves so that we would not trust in
ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so
great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our
hope” (2 Cor. 1:8-10).|
I would not for one moment begin to compare the struggles of my life
with those of the apostle Paul. He certainly faced (on more than one
oc- casion) excessive burdens that threatened, not only his personal
peace, but even his physical life. And that is most especially true of
the time he refers to in our text, while he was in Asia (cf. Ac.
19:1ff): that was a truly difficult time for the apostle Paul. And so,
I know that my struggles pale in significance when com- pared to the
apostle’s. But for me, in my own little world, especially over the last
year or so, I have come to identify with the apostle and his ever-
increasing awareness that we cannot trust in ourselves, but must trust
in the living God who raises the dead.
It’s been a tough year, this 2017: one of the toughest of my life…in my
work as a preacher, and especially in my efforts to be a spiritual
leader. It’s not important that you know the exact nature of the trial
that we in our local congregation have suffered through together since
November of last year; but it is important that you know that it has
been, at least for us, a tough experience to endure. It’s been a time
in which we have felt “excessively burdened, beyond our strength”; a
time in which we have known real despair and ugly discouragement; a
time of uncertainty and doubt. But what is most important for you to
know is that during this past year, God has shown me that I must not
trust in myself, but in Him.
so unnerving about it all, though, is this: I thought—I really
believed—I was putting my trust in God! And I did trust Him; I really
did depend on Him. But I didn’t realize how much I was actually also
trusting in me…in my own ability and in my own wisdom. It took the
difficulties of this past year to make me see just how much I was
really doing that. Indeed, through the difficulties of this past year,
my good God has patiently taught me not to trust in me, but to trust
fully in Him! When you find yourself in tears on your knees by your
bed, with only your good wife kneeling next to you, and you’re crying
out, “Father, I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!” that’s
when you realize how totally inadequate you are and how much you
desperately need Him.
When our awful trial raised its ugly head a
little over a year ago, it shook me to my core…and I was scared! I knew
that those around me were going to need wise spiritual leadership to
get through it…and I was scared! I was scared about a lot of things,
but I was mostly scared that as a spiritual leader, I didn’t know
enough and wasn’t wise enough and didn’t have enough endurance to help
us through this awful ugly struggle. I began to really doubt myself: my
ability to lead, my ability to exercise good judgment, and my ability
to make the right choices. But God has taught me through all these
events (and through some good spiritual brothers and sisters) that He
is not limited by my failure to always “get it right,” to make all the
right decisions and all the right choices. He has taught me that if
we—His servants—put our trust in Him and do our best to follow His
revealed Word, no matter how hard it might be…if we will diligently
make a good faith effort to really “get it right,” all the while being
humble enough to acknowledge and correct any mis- takes, then He can
make it all work out right, no matter how badly we might fumble it!
own twelve apostles were all flawed men: men who were full of faults
and weaknesses and failings; and they didn’t always “get it right!” But
they were committed to Him and to living in an unbending way by His
sure and steadfast Word; and starting with these twelve flawed men,
Christ turned the world upside down in one generation with the gospel
of His grace! I have learned over this past year in ways more practical
than I ever imagined that we serve a God who can take tragedy and turn
it to triumph! He has the uncanny ability to turn the tables on Satan,
and use his own devilish works against him to accomplish good (Ac.
8:1-4; Phil. 1:12-18; Jas. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:1-5). I have learned that in
the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength (cf. 2
Chron. 14:11); in the battle that seemingly cannot be won, our God can
conquer and win anyway! All it takes is for His people to believe in
Him, to trust Him…to trust Him enough to follow Him no matter what.
I am not thankful for the tragic trial that we have had to face this
last year. It has torn apart families; it has broken people; and souls
have been lost—and it is not yet really over! So, no, I am not thankful
for these difficult events. I truly hope that what happened here among
us never happens again…anywhere. But even though I am not thankful for
the trial itself, I am thankful for the lessons my good God and Father
has taught me in these events. Events like these are allowed to occur,
“so that we will not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the
dead.” And in His good time and in His own way, He “will deliver us, He
on whom we have set our hope.” Indeed, I have learned that our God is
good...our God is always good, no matter what. And I am determined to
trust Him. I hope you will too.
315 E. Almond Dr., Washington, Illinois 61571
By AL DIESTELKAMP
are all about giving and receiving. We live in a selfish environment in
which receiv- ing is often valued above giving—this, despite our Lord’s
statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Ac. 20:35).
When we think of giving, too often we think of giving “things” when
really the best gift is the giving of self. As a French proverb says,
“He gives nothing who does not give himself.”
Jesus is the prime example of a selfless giver. What an understatement
it was when the apostle Paul wrote, “He gave gifts to men” (Eph. 4:8).
Each use of His miraculous power, His com- passion, His mercy, and His
life was a gift of part of Him. Notice how many times Jesus’ use of His
powers was prompted by His compassion as He saw the plight of the
Perhaps the primary purpose of His miracles was to prove who He was and
to confirm the word that He taught, but He could have done this in
other ways. When He saw the sick, “He was moved with compassion for
them, and He healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14). When two blind men
called out to Him for mercy, “Jesus had compassion and touched their
eyes” (Matt. 20:34). In healing a man with leprosy—one who, according to the Law of Moses, was not to be touched—“Jesus, moved with compassion,
out His hand and touched him” (Mk. 14:41). Observing a widow who was
grieving over the loss of her only son, “He had compassion on her and
said to her, ‘Do not weep’” before raising the young man from the dead
(Lk. 7:13). Jesus’ feeding of thousands with a few loaves and fishes
was prompted by “compassion on the multitude” because they had followed
Him for days with nothing to eat (Matt. 15:32).
Even Jesus’ teaching was prompted by His compassion. “And Jesus, when
He came out, saw the multitude and was moved with com- passion for them
because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to
teach them many things” (Mk. 6:34).
As His disciples, we need to learn the art of giving ourselves away.
The marvelous thing about the giving of oneself is that it will result
in us being blessed for doing so. There’s a “reward” which comes from
personal sacrifice. “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who
hides his eyes will have many curses” (Prov. 28:27).
Even Jesus is rewarded for His giving of Him- self. Each time a
sinner accepts His redemptive gift of salvation, “there is joy in the
presence of the angels of God” (Lk. 15:10).
first day of the week glory is given to Jesus as we gather with other
Christians to “proclaim the Lord’s death” (1 Cor. 11:26).
Most of us are involved in a number of relationships, all of which provide ample opportunity for us to give ourselves away.
Whenever there is giving, there is also receiving. When we are in
genuine need of help, we must be willing to allow others to give of
themselves to us. This may require the receiver to swallow pride in
order to accept help. To refuse help when it is needed is to deny
others of the reward they receive from giving of themselves.
However, neither should we be satisfied to always be on the receiving
end. We need to “pass it forward.” Then, and only then, will we
experience the truth of our Lord’s statement, “It is more blessed to
give than to receive.” One of the greatest barriers to contentment in
this life is our reluctance to make sacrifices for the good of others
and particularly for the good of Christ and His church. Try giving
260 N. Aspen Dr., Cortland, Illinois 60112
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By EDGAR A. GUEST
There are little eyes upon you,
and they’re watching night and day;
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say;
There are little hands all eager
to do everything you do,
And a little boy that’s dreaming
of the day he’ll be like you.
You’re the little fellow’s idol,
you’re the wisest of the wise;
In his little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise;
He believes in you devoutly,
holds that all you say and do
He will say and do in your way
when he’s grown up just like you.
Oh, it sometimes makes me shudder
when I hear my boy repeat
Some careless phrase I’ve uttered
in the language of the street;
And it sets my heart to grieving
when some little fault I see
And I know beyond all doubting
that he picked it up from me.
There’s a wide-eyed little fellow
who believes you’re always right,
And his ears are always open
and he watches day and night;
You are setting an example
every day in all you do
For the little boy who’s waiting
to grow up to be like you.
Copyright 2009 Think on
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