One

I JUST SPENT $43.87 at the dollar store…
How could I spend so much money at a place where things cost only one dollar? I went in to buy paper cups and craft sticks for a church project and Spanish moss if they had any pretty gift bags.
Turns out the store had all of these things — and much more. Like this cool nail file that has green sparkly flowers on one side. Paper towels, sunglasses, a magazine that’s only slightly out-of-date. Chewing gum. I even found a darling yellow hat for my granddaughter. And this purple pill organizer that lets me put all my supplements for the week in one place.
Wait. I’m beginning to see how I could spend $43.87 at the dollar store. I did it one dollar at a time.
Little things tend to add up. A cookie here, some ice cream there — a pair of jeans that won’t zip. A week too busy for devotional reading, a day so crowded that there’s no time for exercise, an evening when one TV show turns into hours spent staring at the tube — then I wonder why I’m feeling sluggish, physically and spiritually.
But it works in a positive way too. One little act of kindness, one smile at a hassled clerk, one card sent to brighten someone’s day — and the world doesn’t seem as hostile, as hopeless. So here’s to little things. Well managed, they can have big results. Mary Lou Carney
KneEmail: “For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amount; the LORD has blessed you since my coming. And now, when shall I also provide for my own house?” Genesis 30.30
Bible reading for 07.06.11: Acts 14; Job 32, 33
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Dentist

“OPEN WIDER,” requested the dentist, as he began his examination of the patient…
“Oh, no!” he said. “You’ve got the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen — the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen.”
“OK Doc!” replied the patient. “I’m scared enough without you saying something like that twice.”
“I didn’t!” said the dentist. “That was the echo…”
I did something this past week that I never look forward to doing – I went to the dentist. Fortunately, it wasn’t anything traumatic, just a routine cleaning of the teeth. But it reminded me of something I have long believed – that going to the dentist relates to what we’re doing as a church (and specifically, what I’m doing as a preacher). Allow me to explain.
Like many people, I don’t enjoy going to the dentist and I tend to put it off a lot longer than I ought to. It’s not primarily because of the cost (although that’s certainly a factor). And while some people are afraid to go to the dentist, fearing possible pain, that’s never been a problem for me. I don’t mind the sound of the drill, or the poking and the prodding in my mouth. No, the reason I dread going to the dentist has to do with guilt.
You see, I don’t floss as often as I ought to. I know it’s important, but I have always found flossing to be a difficult habit for me to keep up. And whenever I go to the dentist, I know what he’s going to say – “You’re not flossing. Don’t you know how important flossing is? You need to floss!” And I want to say (but don’t), “Yes, I know. I’m guilty! I knew I was guilty before I walked in here. I don’t need you telling what a terrible person I am!”
I understand the position the dentist is in. He wants what is best for my health. If I’m doing something that is not beneficial to my teeth, he has a responsibility to tell me. I don’t want him to stop caring about me. But because of my guilt, I don’t want to hear it, so my response is to simply avoid going to see him.
I wonder how many people there are who approach the church in the same way. They know they’re not living right and when they go to worship, they know what they’re going to hear from the preacher — “You’re not living right. You need to change your life! This is the way you ought to live!” Their response is to say (or to think), “Yes, I know. I’m guilty! I knew I was guilty before I walked in here. I don’t need you telling what a terrible person I am!”
I’m in a situation similar to that of my dentist. I have a responsibility to talk about sin because I care about the spiritual well-being of others. We can’t ignore sin just because talking about it makes people uncomfortable. But if people already feel a burden of guilt and they don’t want to hear about it, they simply stop coming to worship.
As I was considering the awkward position my dentist was in (“Do I say something and make my patient feel more guilty or not say something and show that I don’t care?”), his dental assistant found the perfect words. She said to me, “As you know, you need to floss more. I understand, I have a hard time with it myself.”
Suddenly, I felt at ease. Here was someone who cared enough to tell me what I needed to hear, but who wasn’t looking down at me, criticizing me, and “beating me up”. Instead, we were on the same level, facing the same problem together. All it took was her saying, “I understand what you’re going through. I struggle with that, too.”
What a difference it would make if we could all simply acknowledge to one another, “You’re not doing what’s right, but I understand because I struggle, too.” What a difference it would make if the world could see us, not as a bunch of people looking down on them, criticizing them and “beating them up”, but as a group of people who share in their struggles and who truly desire to help one another to live holier lives.
KneEmail: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…” (Galatians 6:1)
(And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did floss this morning!) Alan Smith
Bible reading for 07.08.11: Acts 15.22-41; Job 36-37
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Parent

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s KneEmail comes from the National Review Online. Please pay special attention to the last three paragraphs. — mb

AS SOON AS the jury proclaimed Casey Anthony “not guilty,” her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, stood up, blank-faced, and walked out of the courtroom.
It was one of the few times since the trial began that the Anthonys did something I could relate to.
Just a few days earlier, Cindy Anthony attempted to convince jurors that she was the person who Google-searched “chloroform” on her home computer. When the searches were determined to have occurred during the time she was clocked in at work and logged into the company computer, she maintained her unlikely story, an obvious attempt to exonerate her daughter.
If Casey’s parents loved her enough to lie for her, there’s also no doubt that they adored their beautiful granddaughter, Caylee. Like so many other grandparents these days, they were the realparents to that little girl, providing the love and stability that their immature, partying, and selfish adult daughter wouldn’t. Casey Anthony didn’t have a job and she and Caylee lived with them — until Caylee disappeared and Casey moved in with her new boyfriend and his roommates. The Anthonys decorated their granddaughter’s room and filled their home and backyard with toys for her, including a playhouse that George Anthony built a floor onto so Caylee wouldn’t have to sit on the ground.
Like the Anthonys, my parents adore their grandkids. Like Mr. Anthony, my daddy lovingly tiled the bottom of the outdoor playhouse at their house for their grandkids. The difference between my parents and the Anthonys is that I can guarantee that if I had anything to do with the disappearance of one of my kids, or if I was lying or withholding information about my child’s whereabouts to the cops, as Casey clearly did and was found guilty of today, my parents would not be trying to help me get away with it. I am absolutely certain that they would be fully cooperating with law enforcement on behalf of their innocent grandchild.
The Casey Anthony verdict didn’t deliver justice for little Caylee. But it did give America some insight into the kind of family dysfunction and parental enabling that produces a mother like Casey: one who could move in with her boyfriend, enter a bikini contest, and get a “Bella Vita” tattoo during the time her little girl’s body was decomposing in a swamp near the family home.
Perhaps the most poignant moment in the trial was when the prosecutor described the way a different mother grieved the loss of her child in an accidental drowning. Sometime after the child was buried, a big storm came. That mother ran out to her child’s gravestone to be with her because, she said, her little girl had never been alone in a storm before. That’s how someone deserving of the title “mother” grieves. Sadly, Casey will never get enough time in prison to reflect on such things. Rachel Campos-Duffy at http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/271149/injustice-rachel-campos-duffy#.ThWzgLQAT8s.facebook
KneEmail: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventers of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:28-32
Bible reading for 07.07.11: Acts 15.1-21; Job 34-35
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Baggage

alexander.jpgCHARLES MERCER’S SHORT book, The Way of Alexander the Great, chronicles the path of this great king of Asia to world domination…
He had led his Macedonian army of less than 50,000 men from Iran to Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and now headed to India. By this time, they had covered almost 9,000 miles, including arduous treks over mountains and snow and unbearable heat. As they approached the Khyber Pass to enter India, Alexander noticed how slowly his troops were moving. While the terrain was partially to blame, the bigger culprit was “the staggering weight of the booty they had with them” (98). They were about to face “fierce mountain warriors” who would contest “nearly ever mile of their progress” (99).
Early one morning, Alexander did what must have been thought unthinkable. Mercer writes, “Alexander set fire to his own baggage wagon and then commanded that his soldiers’ wagons be burned too. Surprisingly few men protested this action. Plutarch says that ‘most of the soldiers, as if they had been inspired, uttering loud outcries and warlike shoutings, supplied one another with what was absolutely necessary and burn and destroyed all that was superfluous’” (ibid).
While Alexander was no doubt driven by conquering the world, he understood that anything that hindered that goal–no matter how seemingly valuable–must be discarded. His men eagerly followed his leadership, regarding the battle more important than the bounty. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that such decision-making led Alexander to indeed overcome all enemies.
THOUGHTS: Alexander, though far from a moral bastion, nonetheless illustrates the spiritual challenge confronting Christians living in this world. Paul teaches that God’s people are in a spiritual battle with Satan and his dark forces (Eph. 6:10ff). It is a battle against forces equipped with “flaming arrows” (Eph. 6:16), “roaring lions” (1 Pet. 5:8) and formidable “schemes” (Eph. 6:11; 2 Cor. 2:11). In addition, we can be beset by our own lusts (cf. Js. 1:13-15). The writer of Hebrews adds that we can get burdened with encumbrances and entanglements (12:2). God has given us impenetrable spiritual armor to face the enemy’s offensive, but we also may have to burn our baggage wagons. Whatever holds us back and keeps us from successfully navigating the narrow way is an ever-present hazard that may be everlastingly costly!
If only we will see what we stand to gain by shedding the weight of the world! We are not attempting world domination, like Alexander was. We are trying to overcome this world (1 John 5:4)! Are you prepared to keep only what is “absolutely necessary and burn and” destroy all that is superfluous? Do we need to burn some baggage wagons? Neal Pollard at http://preacherpollard.wordpress.com/author/preacherpollard/
KneEmail: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12.1
Bible reading for 06.27.11: Acts 8.26-40; Job 8-10
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Fish

fish3.jpgA PAST ISSUE A of Action magazine caught my attention some time ago…
It carried an article about a gentleman from the Philippines by the name of Leopoldo Ducany.
One afternoon, Leopoldo’s wife had brought him a fish which she had purchased at the local market. She asked him to clean it in order that she might prepare it for supper. The meal-to-be was wrapped in a year-old newspaper. As he tore away the paper, Leopoldo noticed an ad for World Bible School. The ad prompted a response, and before long, he was regularly receiving Bible correspondence materials.
At the conclusion of the series of lessons, Leopoldo requested baptism and was added to the body of Christ (Acts 2:47; Galatians 3:27). He made this decision to follow the Lord despite the obvious anti-church sentiment held by Communist rebels in his region.
THOUGHT: I have a thought. If we can (a) reach a man on the other side of the world with (b) a year-old newspaper wrapped around a dead snapperfish, then (c) don’t you think we can reach our local communities with the saving message of Christ…? Mike Benson at http://www.forthright.net/fidelity/evangelism_a_fish_story.html
KneEmail: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19; cf. Acts 1:8).
Bible reading for 06.16.11: Acts 2.22-47; Nehemiah 4-6

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Chip

tvRAY CHARLES observed, “Nowadays they say you need a special chip to put in the TV so kids can’t watch this and that…
In my day, we didn’t need a chip. My mom was the chip. End of story.”
THOUGHT: I believe you will agree that moms need to get back to guiding the house in this way. Wade L. Webster, “A Special Chip,” Riches From My Reading, The Searcher, April 17, 2011
KneEmail: “Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” 1 Timothy 5.14
Bible reading for 06.15.11: Acts 2.1-21; Nehemiah 1-3
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Tongue

lombardiJERRY KRAMER, AN offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers, played on championship teams for legendary coach Vince Lombardi…
Kramer recalled the following story from his days of playing for Lombardi:
“One day during the first year I play for him, he rode me unmercifully, pointing out how slow I was, how weak I was, how stupid I was. He convinced me. By the time I dragged myself into the locker room, I suspected I was the worst guard in league history. I sat in front of my locker, head down, contemplating quitting, when Lombardi came up behind me, messed up my hair and said, ‘Son, one of these days you’re going to be the greatest guard in the league.’ Suddenly I was 10 feet tall, ready to do anything for him.”
THOUGHT: In a simple way, Kramer’s story reveals the gerat power of the tongue. It can kill or make alive. Wade L. Webster, “Riches From My Reading” – The Power of the Tongue, The Searcher, Southaven church of Christ, May 29, 2011
KneEmail: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18.21
Bible reading for 06.14.11: Acts 1; Ezra 9, 10
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Degrees

apolloNORMALLY, WITH NO phone or e-mail interruptions, I look forward to redeeming the time on a plane by writing, reading, or doing correspondence…
But after the battery on my computer ran out, and sitting next to someone for what seemed like forever, I finally struck up a conversation with my next-door neighbor. He was an engineer from the Houston area.
“Petroleum engineer?” I asked.
“No, I work for NASA,” he admitted.
And of course, for the next hour I’m sure that’s something he wished he hadn’t confessed. Like most people my age who grew up watching the build-up of manned space flight to Neil Armstrong leaving his footprints on the moon, I was an astronaut “wannabe” as a kid.
Here at last was my chance to talk to a genuine missle scientist and ask all my questions about space flight! He was patient and shared some incredible behind-the-scenes stories, including his role in the last Apollo space flight. But at one point I hit a nerve when I brought up what I thought was a simple “margin of error” question.
“What are the tolerances you build into the tragectory when you blast off and head to the moon?” I asked him. “For example, after you blast off, could you be just a little off, say like a couple of degrees off on your flight path, without it being such a huge problem?”
Out came his briefcase and his hybrid handheld calculator that would make a Texas Instruments T3000 blush and feel like a slide rule. In wnet the “very approximate” distance of 217,614 miles from earth to the moon (depending on the time of year and apoge of the moon’s orbit around the earth, of course). Fingers flew furiously for a few moments as some Einsteinian calculation continued.
“Be just two degrees off from when you blast off, and roughly talking into account the time and distance traveled,” he said as he turned his calculator toward me, “and you’ll miss not only your point of orbital entry, but you’ll miss the moon by a measly 11,121 miles.”
I wrote down that number on a torn off page of a USA Today that served as an impromptu notepad. “11,121.” I finally left my new NASA friend in peace, but I’ve never forgotten his conclusion or what it can tell us about the most important relationships and areas of our lives.
Add in enough time and distance, and be just two degrees off and you’ll miss your target by miles. I think that thought impacted me so much because it seemed to answer why and how the church of Ephesus had lost her first love. Just be two degrees off from a right heart attitude, add in enough time and distance, and an entire church can end up miles from God’s heart. John Trent, “How a 2 Degree Change Can Ruin or Renew Your Life,” HeartShift, 16-17
KneEmail: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.” Revelation 2.4-5
Bible reading for 06.13.11: John 21; Ezra 6-8
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Wound

knee.jpgWHENEVER YOU ARE impatient in sex, you’re going to do one of two things: you’re going to harm a good relationship, or you’re going to prolong a bad one…
When I say harm a good relationship, one of the worst things you can do is to get into premarital sex because it teaches you to communicate on a surface level. Sex becomes the power of your marriage instead of being the follow-through… You can’t run a marriage on sex.
A toddler, after scraping her knee, went to put some medicine on it as she had seen her mother do. Not knowing where the medicine was, she grabbed something that looked like it. It was in a tube like the one she’d seen her mother use. But the tube she grabbed was Super Glue. After pressing the Band-Aid down tightly, her “owie” felt better–for a time. Untill her mother removed the bandage…
If sex is used to resolve conflicts before marriage, it will be used in the same way after marriage, like the toddler using Super Glue–in a mistaken attempt to heal wounds. On the surface level it appears to be medicine, but it actually causes more harm than good. Things might “stick” together for a time, but the wounds don’t heal any more than did the toddler’s scrape. In fact, using sex to heal conflicts only makes the wounds worse.
If a couple doesn’t change their view on sex once they are married, they will continue to use sex as a substitute for real healing, thinking it’s holding the marriage together. They will look to their marriage bed to tell them if they are close or not. Their intimacy will be no greater than their last sexual experience–and will last about as long.
Biblical love, however, is modeled after Jesus. It does not seek its own pleasure. Heather Jamison, “Not As Strong As We Think,” Reclaiming Intimacy, 87-88
KneEmail: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4.3-8
Bible reading for 06.10.11: John 19.1-22; 2 Chronicles 34-36
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Backbiting

bearTHE TERM BACKBITE comes from the popular sport of bearbaiting in Medival Europe…
In the sport of bearbaiting, a bear was chained to a post and a few dogs were released at a time to attack the bear for the entertainment of the crowd. Sometimes, in the contest, one of the dogs would slip behind the bear and attack him from the rear. Althought good sportsmanship outlawed biting from behind, it was common in such contests.
Over time, the expression came to refer to anyone taking an unfair advantage, such as speaking ill of a person behind his back.
As you know, the Bible condemns backbiting. Wade L. Webster, “Backbiting,” Riches From My Reading, The Searcher, May 29, 2011
KneEmail: “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.” Psalm 101:5
Bible reading for 06.09.11: John 18.19-40; 2 Chronicles 32, 33
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