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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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"AT RISK CHRISTIANS"

Mark Twain lived long before the time of "extreme games" and high risk sports such as "BASE" jumping (parachuting off buildings, antennas, cliffs, and bridges), bungee-jumping, sky-diving, ice-boarding, and mountain-climbing. Still, he recognized that some experiences come with inherent risks and unforgettable lessons. He noted, "Uncle Abner said that the person that took a bull by the tail once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn't, and said a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn't ever going to grow dim or doubtful." Have YOU ever grabbed a bull or tried to carry a cat by the tail?! Now that would qualify as an extreme experience, and would definitely place participants at high risk!

There is no reason to believe the apostle Paul ever BASE umped off the Masada (the 2,000" hight rock fortressin the Judean Wilderness), or that he sky dived over the rugged Taurus Mountains in Asia Minor, or oode a wave-runner on the Sea of Galilee, or that he ice-boarded down the lsopes of Mount Hermon in northern Palestine. And there is no record that Paul ever sought to take a bull or tote a cat by the tail. But he was, nevertheless, frequently exposed ot risk and injury. Read Acts 13 onward and 2 Corinthians 11: 23-27 and you will see Paul was an "at-risk" apostle. Because of his love for and commitment to Jesus and His cross and church, Paul often took heat and pressure from a world where Jesus and the corss weren't cool and where preaching them was a hgih risk activbity. Paul's response to all this risk is summed up in two statements in Acts: "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" and "I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (20:24; 21: 13). Paul had decided it was far worse to risk disfavor with God than to endure the risk and pain people put him through.

by Dan Gulley
Smithville Church of Christ