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2910, 2020

Challenges, challenges, challenges!

Weekly Devotional by David Virts

Text: Joshua 14:6-14 Mountains? 

Question of the Day: When does a believer say with Caleb, “Give me that mountain?”

Challenges: we all face them many times throughout life. Some challenges are physical, some mental, some concern people around us in our jobs, neighborhoods, and even in our churches. So what do we do with those challenges? How do we go forth with a major world-wide pandemic starring us in the face (which is happening as I write this), or a political system that is on the verge of collapsing and destroying our country? (This was written just before the election of 2020!) One thing is for sure, everything in our lives up to this point has prepared us for that challenge, but it still seems big and foreboding. In today’s text Caleb saw a challenge and was prepared for it and accepted it—and even asked for it!

“Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, ‘You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8 But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, “Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.”

“10 And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.’ ”

“13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel.”

Here are some observations from the life of Caleb that helped him face that challenge:
1. Years earlier when he saw the challenge that the Anakim faced Israel with, he was not intimidated: they were fierce fighters and huge giants, but no match for a man with God behind him.
2. Caleb reminded Joshua in their meeting at the point of this text that it was the LORD who sent them; His servant, Moses, had accepted a huge challenge in leading Israel, and now he, Caleb saw and gladly accepted a challenge to take part of that land that he had seen years before.
3. It is said a number of times about Caleb, he “wholly followed the LORD his God.” That is key: whenever we follow God with all our might and soul and strength—with His help—we are then ready for a bigger and greater challenge.
4. No matter what the size of the challenge or those we face in that challenge, we must see—as Caleb did—what we can do with God’s strength and His guidance is a do-able task! Never shrink from it; in fact, see it and ask for a challenge: this will prove to you how great and strong our God is in defeating all foes that we face.
5. The other 10 spies shrank back, caused the whole nation of men to grumble and complain, and they were all wiped out before the whole nation could move ahead and conquer the land (remember the 10 were killed in a plague and that whole generation of men died in the wilderness). So our wrong actions can cause devastating national consequences!

And so Caleb stepped up 40+ years later and said of that challenge: “give me that mountain!” Do you face an insurmountable task right now? Do not the giants we face strike fear in the hearts of many people? Will this pandemic ever end? Will the political situation ever calm down so that we can live in peace and harmony? Are we too old to step out and face a challenge (Caleb here was 85 years old!)? Is our Lord about to step out of heaven and return for His beloved church? Are we prepared to rule and reign with Him and clean up the mess that this world has become as we put down evil and let righteousness reign continually in our world? Is that not the challenge of a lifetime?

Prayer: O God, You have laid before Your people a variety of challenges. They all look so large and so impossible and we know that we lack the strength to go forth. But we accept that challenge that You have put before us: in fact, we ask for it because we know that with Your help and strength and guidance all challenges can be met with faith in You!

2910, 2020

Monumental Event!


by David Virts

Scripture Text: Revelation 11:15-19 Title: Monumentous Event!

Question of the Day: What will happen when the time finally comes for the Lord to take over this earth?

As we read through the book of Revelation, we are taken back with the destructive nature of the prophetic predictions—from the massive amount of deaths, to the earthquakes, famines, and pestilences that are mentioned, to the dismantling of the nations, to the devil meeting his doom, and to the setting up of the reign of Jesus Christ here on earth for 1000 years. As these events take place we are struck with one thing: what happens on earth is preceded by an announcement, and many times by an angel, in heaven. As we approach today’s text passage, we find the event that every believer of every age has been waiting for: the announcement from the Throne Room that the time has come to end both man and the devil’s rule on earth, and prepare for rule of the King of kings.

This chapter is the pivot point of the book. When the book began the world was under the dominion of the “ruler of this world” (as Jesus in the book of John referred to Satan three times), and John was feeling the wrath of the world around him as he was in exile on the Island of Patmos; Jesus then was unveiled to John in all of His glory and splendor which He had before the world began; Jesus had addressed the seven churches and the seven “church ages” and let them know that they were to be cleansed and how to overcome in a hostile world; then the Lord began to dismantle the powers that be here on earth, while at the same time He gave others the opportunity to repent just before it was too late.

And then the announcement came that God Almighty had decided that it was time to complete the dismantling of all nations, Satan to have his last great fling, and then be locked up for 1000 years. After the 1000 year reign of Christ, Satan was again loosed for “a little season”, then wiped out with all the rest of those on earth who have rebelled against God, cast the devil into the lake of fire, and set up the great final judgment of all men of all time who have decided that they will take their chances of “good works” and stand before the Great White Throne. After that the “new Jerusalem” is introduced and the new heaven and the new earth as we enter into eternity serving our Great God forever! And in this chapter in today’s we find the pivot point of the whole book!

This is a scene in heaven that happens just after the two witnesses have completed their work here on earth and are raptured. It is at this point that the seventh angel blew his trumpet. Each trumpet blast brings more disaster on earth as God prepares to unveil His Son as “the King of kings and the Lord of lords” and as “The Final Judge” of the universe. The believers in heaven are notified at this point that the time has come, and their excitement builds now as “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” (ESV) Imagine all the believers in heaven, from Abel—the first one to go to paradise—all the way to the two who have just been raptured have just been notified that the time has come for “The King of kings and the Lord of lords” to take His rightful place on earth! This is a monumentous moment for the history of this world! THE TIME HAS FINALLY COME!!!! When that time has finally come, it is also a perfect time for worship. The 24 elders, the ones who are sitting on their thrones around the throne of God, immediately fell on their faces and worshipped God. It is time to give thanks to ‘the Lord God Almighty’, the One who is and who always was, and who has decided that the time has come to take His great power and to begin to reign on earth. The timing is perfect in the plan and purpose of God. This is a time that has been much anticipated by all of mankind—especially by all believers of all time who have lived on earth! This is the event that we have all been waiting for!

So why now and why the wait until this monumentous moment in time? It is all in the plan and purpose of God. From now on, Jesus Christ will move to be the Central Figure on earth and take His rightful role, and it is only right that a worship service in heaven kicks off this great event. The worship service is initiated by the 24 elders that sit on their thrones around The Throne. The two witnesses, who have just been raptured, are here just in time for this worship service. Their “testimony” and the plagues that they poured out on the earth have begun to wrest the power from the evil people on earth, prepare them for the great judgment, and pave the way for the Lord Jesus Christ to come and rule.

And what is the theme of this worship service? Here are the words that are uttered in this worship service: in effect they said we give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty. You are the One who reigns supremely over all; You have always reigned, and You will yet reign over the entire universe! You have exercised Your power and have always been in complete control over all of Your creation. The nations of the world were angry, but the day of Your wrath has come, and the time of death is here, and all men will now stand in judgment. This will be a time to reward both the prophets who foretold this event, and Your faithful servants—the saints—those that have great respect and awe for You; both those who were great and important on earth, and those who seemed insignificant. You will step forward now and destroy them who have destroyed the earth.

And when this worship service has been completed it says that then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of His Covenant was seen in His Temple. At that exact time there were flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, and on earth there was an earthquake and a great hailstorm. And this is how this major event of the history of the world is kicked off! The focus is on Almighty God, His massive power, outbursts of worship to Him, and another unique demonstration of the glory and splendor and awesomeness of our great God!

Prayer: O God, we look forward to and long for this great event. At this point You gave the order for the events that You have planned for all of eternity to take place on earth. Your patience and longsuffering attitude toward sinful man is great, as is Your love and mercy and grace in taking him from a worthless undeserving sinner to a holy child of Yours! We can only imagine what this event will be like and what it will be like to live on earth under the rule of Your Son. We anticipate! We wait! We are greatly inspired! Amen!

2910, 2020


by Geoffrey Jones

In America we have always taken comfort in our holidays, both the official ones and the unofficial ones. We’ve been a hard-working country and appreciated the highpoints and exciting festivals that reward us and cheer us and please our imaginations as each year unwinds.

I’ve written in earlier issues of the joy it gave me, years ago, when I lived in a large old house on a village street and we decorated and prepared for the trick or treaters with bowls of candy and costumed monsters in the attic windows. That, combined with remembrance of taking my children and later grandchildren trick or treating year by year comprise very happy memories for me.

This year, however, tech is being very strict. It prepares us, day by day, with concepts of hiding behind doors and sliding candy down a shute. Or perhaps paying the tech lords for a new app so we can have a “Zoom party” with friends faces smiling in little boxes on our TV or computer screen. WOW! A lot like fahrenheit 451 don’t you think? I hope tech will sell me my script early so I will be ready to read it when the faces appear in all the little windows. Though this sounds sarcastic I don’t mean to dampen the ardor of those trying to preserve some of the spirit, its the folks behind the scenes I’m aiming at. The folks who encourage our pain for their gain.

We are prescribed to by technology so much we’ve pretty much forgotten that these ad people are not doctors. The tech Lords are not complaining about our confusion, though. They are in fact doing extremely well as self appointed planners. Reports of their ever-increasing wealth attest to that.

Well…it gives one pause. Perhaps we should sit out a couple of holidays if only to spend a bit more time thinking. Thinking about what life means to us and where we are right now. And though the tech bots echo “Dont try to think or do research, leave that to the experts…” perhaps we should shut down a few noisy apps and dust off a few books. Look at the past, compare lessons in classic literature and history to a lot that’s happening now. What do you think? 

Happy Halloween. Appreciate comments send to ld_byron37086@yahoo.com

2810, 2020

Cartooning together…

David and Doreen Dotson are more than just partners in marriage. They started cartooning together shortly after meeting and marrying at a Calvary Chapel in El Cajon, California in 1990.

Their first strips were “Sports Barbs,” a sports-oriented cartoon, and “Jonah’s Journey,” a faith-based strip. The couple teamed up again to create “Outzkirts”—a family-friendly cartoon strip that brings wholesome entertainment to readers of all ages. Doreen draws and David does the gags.

The Dotsons created Outzkirts specifically to run in a newspaper for the town they were living in, El Cajon, Ca.

“We wanted to infuse (a local) flavor to the strip,” David said, “so I created Bud, his wife, Edna, and their egotistical dog, Rusty. The name of the strip comes from the fact that the slightly imperfect, but totally endearing family lives on the outskirts of town.

To some, the Dotsons road to success may appear to have been as straight as the stretch of an old Highway. A peek behind the curtain reveals a path more like the one the biblical prophet Jonah took to reach Nineveh—with all of the fears, balks, and spiritual wrestling matches included.

When David first approached his artistic wife about drawing the cartoon strip, the young mother sought God’s will in prayer.

“Lord, if you were here I could hear your voice and know for sure. I don’t want to do this if it is just a waste of time.”

Her prayer for assurance was answered that same day when, out of the blue, a family friend said he thought Doreen should draw the strip.

“Doreen has a gift,” he said. “Why not use it?”

“The confirmation was a landmark in my Christian life,” Doreen said.

A short time later, the couple listened attentively to a sermon at their church on the prophet Jonah.

“Any time God tells you what to do, Satan will put beautiful ship in front of you to take you the opposite way” Their pastor said.

Doreen’s ship pulled up disguised as a home-based cosmetics business. With the allure of immediate income Doreen jumped on board and sailed away from God’s direction. Another year went by as Doreen fought God’s call to draw the comic strip.

In the meantime, David wrote to Johnny Hart, creator of the comic strip “B.C.” asking for advice on how to get started. A letter in the mail a few weeks later surprised the couple. Hart’s wife wrote asking for samples.

A friend pointed out the return address on the envelope—Nineveh, N.Y. Nineveh is the town Jonah was instructed by God to go to, and didn’t at first.The postmark convicted Doreen.

She realized she had been rebelling after God had clearly answered her prayer for direction. But she still wasn’t convinced.

The next day, David went to his men’s Bible study at church. On the way he, too, asked God for yet another sign that they should pursue the comic strip. Arriving early, he found a quiet place to do his daily devotional reading.

He turned to the assigned reading for the day in the 16th chapter of Matthew.

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” Jesus said. “And there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” David said.

Not long after that final confirmation, the Dotsons created “Outzkirts.”

Although not overtly Christian, the spiritual overtones of the strip are obvious.

“Both Bud and Edna are Christians,” David said. and we use Scripture when the occasion is right.”

Even Rusty the dog displayed his Scripture knowledge when a bubble showed him thinking, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

The couple wanted to hide something in each strip—a kind of “Kilroy Was Here” mark. The answer was obvious.

“The whale appears somewhere in each strip to remind us what God has done and to remind us—not to be like Jonah,” Doreen said.

Outzkirts may not be as well known as other cartoons, but it could very well be on the way. The Dotsons just recently moved from Southern California to Tennessee. They are hoping to expand their fan base in the Volunteer State.

“Our prayer is to always glorify God through our comic strip,” David said.

As Jonah and the Dotsons learned, God sees down the road.

“We should always go where He tells us to go.”

You can see Outzkirts on their website at  www.outzkirts.com



2710, 2020

Long-time MPD Sergeant retires after three decades

Murfreesboro Police Department (MPD) Sergeant Brad Ballard retires after 30 years of dedicated service.

“The men and women of the department are not only best friends, they are family,” Ballard said.  “The best thing I did in life, other than becoming a parent, was becoming a mentor to the officers on the midnight shift.”

Ballard began his career as a patrol officer in April 1990, serving in that role for eight years.

He became a detective in 1998 and continued until 2005, before being promoted to a Training Sergeant.

Ballard also served as a member of the Special Operation Unit (SOU) and was a certified firearms instructor.

He became a Patrol Sergeant in 2009, a position he held until his retirement.

A retirement ceremony honoring Ballard was held Friday, Oct. 23, at the Murfreesboro Police Headquarters. Family, friends, and co-workers attended.

2610, 2020

Rutherford County to reinstate face covering…

Order Effective Wednesday, October 28 at 11:59 p.m. CDT

Mayor Bill Ketron announced Monday afternoon that the Rutherford County Face Covering Order will be reinstated effective Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.

“This is not a decision that I make lightly,” said Ketron. “Our cases in this county hit a record spike over the weekend, with the data indicating a higher transmission rate than that we experienced in late July.”

Local data shows that current cases are 2.8 times the level in early September, with the 7-day average positive rate also doubling since that time.

“These figures are too significant to overlook,” said Ketron. “Hospital officials are beginning to see the number of cases in-house similar to the height of the first wave. We have to act NOW!”

Governor Lee’s Executive Order 63 authorizing County Mayors to require face coverings within their jurisdictions expires on October 30 at 11:59 p.m.; however, Gov. Lee’s office has announced anticipation of the order being extended through the end of the calendar year. Therefore, the Rutherford County Face Covering Order will be in effect until further notice.

“We will continue to monitor our local data daily, assess trends, and consult experts to determine the duration of the order,” said Ketron. “We must do everything we possibly can to keep our schools and our businesses open and our hospitals functioning at normal capacity.”

Ketron reminds citizens that face coverings are not the only protective health measures that should be practiced regularly to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. “We need to be vigilant about washing our hands frequently, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting high contact surfaces, and staying at home when sick. It takes all of these measures together to cut our risks of getting or spreading the virus.”

“While I understand that there are conflicting opinions on face coverings, there is overwhelming evidence supporting that masking, in combination with other preventative actions, is the key to slowing the spread.”

2210, 2020

Man in stolen car arrested for alleged drug possession after causing multi-vehicle crash

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. –  A man, with drugs, in a stolen vehicle plows through a red light causing a multi-vehicle crash after police attempted to make a traffic stop for reckless driving on Tuesday, Oct. 20.  An unknown male passenger is still on the run.

18-year-old Steven Birdwell is facing drug violations, theft, reckless driving, evading arrest, leaving the scene, and several more charges.

A Murfreesboro Police Department (MPD) officer saw Birdwell driving a white Dodge Charger fishing tailing and burning tires on Mercury Blvd. near S. Rutherford Blvd. around 4:47 p.m. Tuesday. After initiating emergency equipment, the driver drove through a red light and was hit by two different vehicles.

Birdwell and a male passenger jumped out of the wrecked vehicle and ran away on foot. Officers took Birdwell into custody at a nearby gas station.  The passenger got away.

Officers discovered what appears to be 10.1 grams of Methamphetamine, a crushed Xanax Bar, and a Meth pipe in the wrecked car. The car was stolen from a used car lot in La Vergne.

MPD and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office K9s searched the area of Arnold Drive and East Main Street looking for the passenger but didn’t find him.

The investigation is on-going.

Troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol are investigating the crash.

2110, 2020

Grandmother appeals for info on granddaughter’s death

Grandmother Annie Maples lives with the pain of two sons dying and now suffers more heartache from the death of her granddaughter, Shontisha Marie Rutland.

Rutland, 22, of Nashville talked to her grandmother frequently and told her earlier in the summer she was going to Murfreesboro. That was their last conversation. Her skeletal remains were discovered in a field July 27 off Mt. Herman Road.

“Losing a child is not the easiest thing in the world,” Maples said. “I know her mom is hurting.”

Maples was close to her granddaughter, whom she described as a “free-hearted person. I started calling her ‘Honey’ when she was a child and she called me ‘Big Honey.’”

Rutland’s grandmother, mother and their extended family have unanswered questions about her death.

“Nobody deserves to be dumped like that,” Maples said. “Someone could have taken her to the hospital. We may never know what truly happened until somebody comes forward.”

Crime Stoppers of Rutherford County is offering a reward up to $1,000 for information about the person who abandoned Rutland’s body.

People who have information may call Crime Stoppers at 615-893-STOP (7867) between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. All calls are anonymous.

Detective Dennis Ward would like anyone with any information about Rutland to contact him so he can give answers to Rutland’s family.

Rutland’s friends may have information about her and her time in Murfreesboro. People who have information are asked to call Ward at 615-904-3060.

Maples asked people who know to please share information about her granddaughter.

“We would appreciate it if anyone out there who knew what happened to her will call,” Maples said.

2010, 2020

Several People Arrested

Several people arrested for stealing thousands of dollars

in items from businesses and selling them to pawn shop

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Chain saws, weed eaters, drills, tools, and home security systems are some of the items Murfreesboro Police Department (MPD) detectives recovered that were stolen from various businesses and sold to a local pawn shop.Robert Cornelison, 34, of Woodbury, is facing four counts of theft, Sandra Cornelison, 39, of Woodbury, is facing four counts of theft and violation of probation, Michael Todd, 38, and Shawna Nickens, 33, both of Murfreesboro, are charged with two counts of theft.  All are accused of stealing merchandise and immediately selling it at Mid-Tenn Pawn Shop, 350 NW Broad Street.  There are outstanding warrants for three more people.

Detectives said between July 1, 2020, and mid-September, the individuals stole more than $35,000 worth of merchandise from several Murfreesboro businesses, including Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, Tractor Supply, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s.

Mid-Tenn Pawn management is cooperating with the investigation.

Detectives were able to identify the thieves from pawn shop records.  Pawn shops are required report their transactions to MPD.

The items were confiscated and most have been returned to the businesses.

Robert Cornelison was released from the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center on $14,000 bond, and Sandra Cornelison was released on a $10,000 bond on Oct. 2.  Todd and Nickens were both released from jail on their own recognizance.

The investigation is on-going.