Forum Terrace Church of Christ is a family of believers located in Grand Prairie, Texas. We invite you to come and worship God with us!
Operating as usual
The Stay in Place
Weekday Touch Base
Issue #22 - Tuesday, May 5, 2020
When I first agreed to teach the new two-year-old class, I must admit I was a little bit apprehensive. It had been twenty years since I last taught this age group and my daughter, Tia, was one of my students. The day before beginning this class I told my wife, Beverley, that we needed to stop by the county kennel and pick up three puppies. Why? So I can hand them out in class, so the kids would have something to occupy them for forty-five minutes. And at the end of class when they drug their new, furry friends out to their parents, I would immediately be fired as their teacher and promptly replaced with a responsible adult. In spite of everything, after twenty weeks in the classroom I have come to the conclusion that it is by far the best class I have ever had the privilege to teach. They have learned a few things from me. Like toddlers singing “Jesus Loves Me” in bass. However, I must admit that they have taught me a few things along the way that I did not know.
The lessons each Sunday was about Jesus. For about three weeks the lessons focused on the love of Jesus and how He loved all the children of the world. We would sing the song:
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world
During part of the class session I would allow the three of them to crawl up onto the table to watch the powerpoint presentation. It would feature each week a picture of Jesus with a variety of children from around the world with a couple of them sitting on his lap. These two-year-olds could relate to the picture, because one of the was African American, another was asian/hispanic and the third was a white, blue eyed blond. After the presentation each week they would crawl back off the table into their seats. However, one Sunday morning instead of going back to their seat all three decided to crawl over into my lap. Surprised I said, “Hey, boys and girls you know the drill. It is time to get back in your seats.” Just then the lady who came in to assist me with the class pointed to the picture on the laptop screen and the large one just like it hanging on the classroom bulletin board . It was Jesus with the little children. She said, “they are just acting out the lesson.” So I let them sit on my lap and we sang “Jesus loves the little children” before they returned to their seats.
Little two year olds can teach a teacher a lot about the importance of modeling the lessons of the Bible. They learn by play and acting out the lessons. Playing the role of Jesus plays an essential part in teaching.
Jesus used children to teach His disciples. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matt. 18:1-5). Later “little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there” (Matt. 19:13-15).
Jesus wanted His disciples to watch and learn from the little children. Little children need to watch and learn from us about Jesus.
-- Daniel R. Vess
The Stay in Place
Weekday Touch Base
Issue #8 - Wednesday, April 15, 2020
My daughter Tia has always liked to draw. The little artist in her became very apparent from the time she was young. We were always buying her something new to use to draw, like glow in the dark crayons. One Sunday afternoon she was coloring away with these when I noticed the time. “Its getting late. Run and go get dressed for Sunday evening services,” I barked. She did not have time to put up her crayons.
When arrived home, it was evident from the crime scene in the den that the family dog, Spencer, had taken advantage of our oversight. The bits and pieces of crayons and their wrappers were littered all over the carpet. Spencer was hiding, because he knew he was in the wrong. We cleaned up the mess and did not think anything more about it.
Three or four days later I came home, ate supper, and afterward when it was dark out, I glanced outside into the black back yard. Something was odd. Something was glowing. It was here and there in several locations in the backyard. “Beverley, do we have lightening bugs” I asked my wife. “No. I have never seen any in our backyard. Besides it too late in the year for lightening bugs.”
My curiosity demanded I find a flashlight and investigate. The glow led me to a surprise. It was glow came from dog p**p.
At this point I had one of those eureka moments. What a great invention this would be. Glow in the dark dog food, so pet owners would not have the foul experience of stepping in doggy doo doo in the dark (the last phrase I like saying it even better than writing it). Not only could they avoid such a mishap, they could find and pick it up and dispose of it even in the dark. This would be real handy for those who work late and have to take their dog for a walk in the park where they would be required one to pick up after their dog. However, my invention would never see the light of day. Glowing in the dark dog food never came to the shelves of the local pet store. It seems Crayola and Purina were not interested.
There have been many accidental and unintended discoveries throughout history. One of them involved walking a dog. In 1941 a Swiss electrical engineer named George de Mestral after walking his dog came home and began picking the burs out of his dogs fur. A closer investigation of the burs led him to patent Velcro.
A Raytheon engineer was working with a magentron when he discovered the chocolate bar in his pocket melted when he was next to the running device. This led to the unexpected discovery of the microwave which is now found in many kitchens across the globe. And made the king of microwave popcorn, Orville Redenbacher, rich.
Diabetics have been bless with the artificial sugar substitute, “Sweet’N Low” due to an accidental discovery. A chemist forgot to wash his hands upon going to lunch. When he tasted something sweet on his fingers.
The Bible is also filled with accidental discoveries which have changed history. Moses was tending sheep when he discovered a burning bush. The city of Samaria was besieged by the Syrian army and starving to death. One day four lepers when out and accidently discovered the Syrian camp empty. God had scared them away and they left all their food supplies behind. Years later when the Assyrians were besieging Jerusalem King Hezekiah prayed to God for help. The next day the inhabitants of capital of Judah were surprised to find 185,000 dead Assyrians outside their gates. After Naaman dipped seven times in the Jordan River he discovered that his leprosy was gone. And a couple of women along with Peter and John discovered the empty tomb of Jesus one Sunday morning.
The Bible is filled with surprises for readers who accidentally stumble on God’s will and have their lives changed forever. A homosexual finds passages condemning his life style and repents. A man comes across James 2:24 and rejects salvation by faith only and is baptized for the forgiveness of sins. However, these discoveries are not accidents. God put those things in his book for us to discover. If you only pick up the Bible and start investigating its pages you too will make some unexpected discoveries.
– Daniel R. Vess
The Stay in Place
Weekday Touch Base
Issue #7 - Tuesday, April 14, 2020
A Bad Habit: Do You Have It?
Have I ever told you about my good friend Russ from my childhood. Well, while I was preaching in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Russ came by from Texas on a visit. While he was there, he would go out on the back porch for a smoke. My four year old son Jamin love to have visitors come by and became Russ’ shadow during his stay. One time while Russ was out on the porch enjoying a smoke, Jamin came out through the sliding glass door and ask Russ what he was doing. Russ told home he would soon come back in the house after he finished his smoke. Jamin sat down beside him and proceeded to lecture him on all the evils of smoking. A couple of years later Russ told me that you had finally kicked the habit and gave up smoking. He said he had calculated that if he had saved up all the money that he had spent on ci******es, he would have had enough to buy a brand new Cadillac. Although economics was not what persuaded him to stop smoking. He said he could not get out of his mind the haunting message about the evils of smoking from my four year old son.
Beverley and I have lost too many friends and family over the years. Those whose lives were shorten unnecessary due to an addition to those “coffin nails.” So we started early indoctrinating our children about the consequences of smoking. As far as I know neither one was ever even tempted to smoke. In fact, we just might have over sold it just a bit. One day while sitting at the dinner table with the family, our daughter Tia, made an observation on just how bad smoking really can be. From the depths of her innocent three year old mind came this concern. “Mama, wouldn’t it be just terrible is thief broke into our house while we were at church and smoked!”
Smokers are already at a much higher risk for stroke, cancer, and heart disease. But smokers are especially vulnerable to Covid-19. “Given how dangerous this disease is and how fast everything's moving, all of the evidence that we're seeing is pointing in the direction that both smoking (could) increase your risk of contracting disease and, if you get it, make it worse,” said Stanton Glantz, Director of the Centre for To***co Research Control and Education. Given the risk many are looking for ways to kick the habit before they end up in ICU on a ventilator fighting for their lives.
Now let me stop meddling and go to preaching. Va**ng and smoking is not a entitlement or right of those created in the image of God. From the every beginning God did not give man the right to do anything he wanted to with is own body. In fact, when the first couple ate of the forbidden fruit, they brought upon themselves and mankind a malady far worse than Covid-19. Sin entered the world (Rom. 5:12). With regard to the old argument: “It is my body and I will do what I want to with it” consider what Paul wrote. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if one of the side benefits of Covid-19 was motivating people to stop smoking. Perhaps all of us need to reflect on the need to evaluate our own risky habits during this time.
– Daniel R. Vess
The Stay in Place Weekday Touch Base
Issue #6 - Monday, April 13, 2020
Did All Your Sins Go Down the Drain?
A few years ago Hai and Gina Pham came back home from south Texas on a visit. They wanted Beverley and I to talk to their daughter, Syrene who wanted to know about being baptized. They had studied with her but wanted someone else to talk with her since she was only ten years old. I had had the privilege of baptizing both of Syrene’s parents years earlier and was delighted to learn of the next generation preparing to obey the Gospel. After an hour and a half we all agreed she was a scriptural candidate for baptism. So off the baptistry we went where her parents had been immersed some twenty years earlier.
While her father was baptizing Syrene I could not help but remember a conversation I had with her back when she was four years old. Hai and I were working around the baptistry when she asked if she could come up and sit on the steps and watch us. I told her it would be okay as long as she stayed there. Her father and I had been working in the ceiling above the baptistry earlier in the day and some white flakes from the ceiling tiles had peppered the water surface of the baptistry. Syrene asked, “Mr. Dan, can I ask you a question?” “Sure. What’s up?” I responded. In a serious tone she asked, “That white stuff floating on the water. Is that people’s sins from when they got baptized?”
Well, that is something to think about. What happens to our sins? The preacher Anaias told Saul the persecutor, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). So where do they go when God washes them away. Below are just a few verses which will help tell us what God does with those sins.
• “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us”(Psalm 103:12).
• “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet,
• they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Is. 1:18).
• “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Is. 44:22).
• “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
• “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
• “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).
• “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
So based on what we have learned, God removes, makes them white as snow, blotted out like a thick cloud, cast into the sea, taken away, remembers no more, and cleanses all our sins. Sin is gone forever from our soul. That does not mean we can never sin again. It does mean that sin has not gone down the baptistry drain. After all I have never had to call a plumber out to clear the sins that were stopping up the church plumbing.
– Daniel R. Vess
The Stay in Place
Weekday Touch Base
Friday, April 10, 2020, Issue #5
Soul Saving While Under Lock Down
Peter Navarro a presidential aide has warned of the “increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1.2 million souls," according to the Times. Lost souls is a concern. In fact Jesus came and died to save lost “souls.” Often the term “soul” is used in reference to human life. In referring to the sinking of the Titanic someone will say that “more than 1500 souls were lost.” When the Bible uses the term soul it will often refer to the eternal being housed in the physical body. The eternal soul of man. Jesus made this distinction when He said, “and do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). And when He said, “for whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24,26).
Jesus was mission from Heaven to earth was all about saving souls. He sent out the apostles to preach the Gospel and save souls. “ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). Today, Christians are to concern themselves with saving the soul’s of sinners. “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
However, there are times when it is difficult to reach out and save the lost souls of the world. For example, right now we are under lock down in our homes and do not have contact with the many lost souls of this world. In times of persecution it was difficult for Paul and Silas. However singing and praying in the inner prison of the jail in Philippi they were able to teach the Gospel to the Jailor and his household (Acts 16:25f). Paul later demonstrated the ability to save lost souls while under house arrest in Rome. “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).
Just what can you do to help share the Gospel with lost souls while under lock down in your house? Below are a few suggestions for your consideration:
See the coronavirus as an unique opportunity not a obstacle.
The phone, internet, etc. are great communication tools than can still be used for sharing the Gospel.
Look for opportunities to start a conversation about the needs of their soul during this time. When you have a chance to talk or write someone, remind them when the topic of Covid-19 and death that anyone could die from anything at about any moment. No one is promised tomorrow (James 4:13). Focus their attention of their soul and not just their physical health.
Invite neighbors and friends, former co-workers, and even you enemies to join our Zoom Bible Studies and sermons.
Refer them to the resources on our website www.forumterrace.org.
You not be able to hand out tracts but the mail services is still working (pdf copies of tracts can be found on our website to print and/or send).
Email a lesson, link, letter of loving concern in the lost.
And if someone wants to meet in person to discuss the possibility of being baptized, well then, it is time to put on you big boy pants and take a chance. In fact, you can call me. I will go anywhere at anytime to share the Gospel. Or send them to me I will put my dog and elderly mother up and gladly baptize them in my pool even if they have a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.
– Daniel R. Vess
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