VIDEO Oiltown USA (1953)

Jul 20, 2014

Oiltown U.S.A. (1953) is a Christian movie by Billy Graham’s production company. I believe this was the first Billy Graham film. It is historically interesting as a very early evangelistic film.

Directed by Dick Ross. Starring Colleen Townsend, Paul Power, Cindy Walker, Redd Harper, Georgia Lee, and Billy Graham as himself. Also with singer George Beverly Shea as himself.

Plot: Christine Manning returns to her father’s home in Texas for the summer. She soon realizes that her father, oil millionaire Les Manning, is disliked and feared as a ruthless businessman by the people around him. Les Manning has always relied on himself to become successful and has never trusted in God. But he may have to change his ways…

Going First

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

We worked patiently to help our son heal and adjust to his new life with our family. Trauma from his early days in an orphanage was fueling some negative behaviors. While I had enormous compassion for the hardships he experienced in his early days, I felt myself begin to withdraw from him emotionally because of those behaviors. Ashamed, I shared my struggle with his therapist. Her gentle reply hit home: “He needs you to go first . . . to show him he’s worthy of love before he’ll be able to act like it.”

John pushes the recipients of his letter to an incredible depth of love, citing God’s love as both the source and the reason for loving one another (1 John 4:7, 11). I admit I often fail to show such love to others, whether strangers, friends, or my own children. Yet John’s words spark in me renewed desire and ability to do so: God went first. He sent His Son to demonstrate the fullness of His love for each of us. I’m so thankful He doesn’t respond as we all are prone to do by withdrawing His heart from us.

God loved us first so we can love others.

Though our sinful actions don’t invite God’s love, He is unwavering in offering it to us (Rom. 5:8). His “go-first” love compels us to love one another in response to, and as a reflection of, that love.

Thank You, Lord, for loving me in spite of my sin. Help me to “go first” in loving others.

God loved us first so we can love others.

By Kirsten Holmberg 

INSIGHT:Have you found it’s easier to make up after an argument if the other person makes the first move? Maybe they don’t even apologize, but you see in their eyes and hear in their voice that they care about you. If Jesus went first and showed us His love, can we now make that first move and show love to someone else? Mart DeHaan

The Basis for Discernment

Hebrews 4:12-13

Spiritual discernment is the ability to see life from God’s perspective. It requires that we know how He thinks and acts. The Bible is His unchanging, infallible revelation of Himself. However, the Lord doesn’t simply give us a list of facts about His character and ways. All throughout the pages of Scripture, He illustrates who He is and how He operates.

Although an ancient book, the Bible is in no way obsolete. Its stories may have taken place centuries ago, but its principles and applications are still relevant, offering discernment about situations and guidance for decisions.

God’s Word—which Ephesians 6:17 refers to as “the sword of the Spirit”— is active and piercing, like a surgeon’s scalpel. The words don’t simply sit on the page; rather, they penetrate our heart and judge our thoughts and motives. This convicting quality is why some Christians avoid reading the Bible. They prefer to live on a surface level but never understand why they react to situations the way they do. If we don’t want to keep making the same mistakes, it’s essential that we become discerning about ourselves. The way to do that is by approaching the Word of God with an open spirit. Then God will bring to light our hidden motives and unrecognized sins.

Spiritual discernment involves seeing not just circumstances but also ourselves from God’s perspective. Have you learned to embrace the piercing sword of Scripture, or have you avoided doing so because it makes you uncomfortable? Remember, whenever the Lord uses a surgical knife, His purpose is always to make us healthier.

Not So, Lord

“But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” (Acts 10:14)

This response of Peter to the Lord’s command is a self-contradiction. How could He be Peter’s Lord if Peter felt free to disobey His command?

The doctrine and practice of the Lordship of Christ have always been difficult and controversial. Many Christians who have called Him their Savior and Lord nevertheless often feel free to question or disregard His Word. There may be legitimate discussion concerning interpretation of the Word, but there is never justification for questioning its authority, regardless of the pretenses of modern intellectuals or the pressures of public opinion. As the Lord Jesus Christ rebukingly asked, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

There was an earlier occasion when Peter revealed this same inconsistency. When Christ told of His imminent crucifixion, Peter “began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). The Lord, therefore, had to rebuke Peter. It was not Peter’s prerogative, nor is it ours, to question the Word of the Lord, even when we don’t yet understand it.

That kind of attitude can, under certain circumstances, have deadly and eternal consequences. Jesus warned those who would profess His Lordship without its reality: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord. . . . And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Peter learned this lesson and was soon able to confess unreservedly concerning Christ that “he is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). We who “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” for salvation (Acts 16:31) certainly should seek to believe and obey His Word in all things. HMM

His grace is sufficient for Us.

Judges 6:1-16

Judges 6:1

We commonly say that a burnt child dreads the fire, but Israel, after smarting again and again as the result of her sin, returned to it the moment the chastisement was removed, or the judge was dead. Such is the strange infatuation of men:

Judges 6:1

This nation was but a puny enemy, and yet it was too much for sinful Israel. The tribes had formerly reduced the Midianites to a very low condition, and now they are themselves unable to stand before them. See how sin weakens men.

Judges 6:5, 6

These wandering plunderers were hard to grapple with, and must have been a dreadful scourge. It is to such marauders that much of the present deserted condition of Palestine is due.

Judges 6:7, 8

The sending of faithful ministers to a people is a token for good from the Lord, even though their testimony should be rather a rebuke than a consolation;

Judges 6:9, 10

Faithful are the wounds of a friend. God had just cause to complain, and in unveiling Israel’s great sin, the Lord’s servant was going the surest way to build up peace upon a permanent foundation.

Judges 6:12

He found Gideon retired, employed, and distressed; three suitable conditions to warrant a celestial interposition. He had very little wheat, for he had no oxen to thresh it; and he was in great fear of the enemy, and therefore threshed not on the barn floor, but in the winepress; yet in his poverty he received rich grace. God is no respecter of persons.

Judges 6:13

These were commonsense questions, and proved that the enquirer had well considered the matter.

Judges 6:14

It is clear that the angel was the Lord himself. From such lips what power there is in that question, “Have not I sent thee?” And what inspiration followed his glance, when “the Lord looked upon Gideon.”

Judges 6:16

God called Gideon mighty, and made him so, he sent him and went with him, he taught him faith and then honoured his faith. In what manner will the Lord glorify himself in each of us?


What Does the Word ‘Preach’ Mean?

Mark 16:15

In Mark 16:15, Jesus instructed believers, “… Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” But what did Jesus mean when He said that we were supposed to “preach”? Did He mean that every believer must have a pulpit ministry where he or she publicly stands in front of a church and preaches to a congregation? What does the word “preach” mean?

The word “preach” comes from the Greek word kerusso, which means to proclaim, to declare, to announce, or to herald a message. It was the message proclaimed by the kerux, who was the official spokesman or herald of a king. Because the kerux was the appointed, official representative of the king or government, his specific job was to announce with a clear and unquestionable voice the desires, dictates, orders, recent events, news, policy changes, or message that the king or government wished to express to the people.

The position of this kerux (“spokesman” or “herald”) was viewed to be the highest, most noble, privileged position in the kingdom because his position gave him routine access to the king that was afforded only to rare individuals. To be the king’s kerux was an honor and supreme privilege that necessitated the highest level of professionalism and excellent performance.

When the king wanted to give a message to his people, he summoned the kerux. The kerux came to the king’s throne room with writing instrument and paper in hand; then he carefully and accurately penned the communication that the king desired to express to his people. After the king was finished dictating his message, the kerux was allowed to freely speak to the king and to ask questions of clarification to make certain he understood every point of the king’s message. Because this man was speaking on behalf of the king, there was no room for mistakes in his delivery of the message. When he finally stood before the people to announce the message given to him, it had to be accurate, precise, and faithful to what the king wanted to express to his people.

As important as it was for the kerux to accurately understand and communicate the king’s message, it was equally his responsibility to capture and convey the sentiment, heart, and emotions of the king on these various issues. Thus, the kerux was expected to deliver his message with emotional impact in order to properly represent both the word and the heart of the king.

Proper attire was essential for this notable position, for when the kerux stood before the people to speak on behalf of the king, he was also to physically represent the king in all his splendor and glory. The responsibility of publicly representing the king demanded that he dress appropriately, for a shabbily dressed kerux would have been an insult to the honor of the king.

And because the kerux was the primary connection between the people and the king, he was also required to learn how to speak to people in a kind and cultured fashion. If he was rude, his behavior would reflect negatively on the king. If he was kind and courteous, this would reflect favorably on the king. As the king’s spokesman, the kerux understood that every word he spoke, every piece of clothing he wore, and all his actions, both public and private, would ultimately affect people’s opinion of the king. Consequently, because of his great responsibility as the king’s spokesman, he knew that every detail of his life was to be lived honorably, honestly, and uprightly. His personal life, as well as his public life, had to be spotless, immaculate, pristine, gleaming, and squeaky clean—free of accusation.

When the kerux had finished delivering the king’s message to the people, he turned, left the platform from which he spoke, and then remained silent until the king summoned him back to the throne room to give him another message for the people. As the king’s spokesman, he had no right to speak his own mind, give his own personal commentary about what the king meant, or draw any attention to himself. Such actions would be considered gross violations of his position and a guarantee that he would no longer serve as the king’s spokesman.

Keeping all this in mind, let’s consider again what Jesus meant when He commanded that all believers go into all the world “to preach” the Gospel. Since kerusso (“to preach”) is the message of the kerux (“the king’s spokesman”), it is clear that by using the word “preach,” God is communicating several very powerful messages to you and to me.

First, as a believer, you must learn to see yourself as the representative of Jesus Christ. Although you may never stand before a public pulpit to preach, it is a fact that your life is your most important pulpit. What you say and do in your life reflects on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, as a believer, it is absolutely essential that you spend time in the Presence of the Lord so you can hear His Word and capture His heart. You should never think of the time you must spend in God’s Presence praying or reading the Word as laborious or dreadful. It is a high honor that God has given you. He beckons you to come into His throne room so He can speak to you, share with you His heart, and then empower you with His Spirit to take the message to people who are desperately waiting for it. Never forget that you possess a position of great privilege.

Third, as a believer, it is imperative that you learn how to dress appropriately and how to speak kindly, courteously, and in a way that brings honor to Jesus. If your appearance communicates a low standard because you dress like a slob, never comb your hair, always look unprofessional, or allow yourself to remain overweight (yes, I know this last one affects many people, but what I am saying is true)—this is exactly the image you are imparting about Jesus Christ.

Would the president of a nation allow His spokesman to be aired on television in a sweatshirt or tennis shoes? Would a national public representative dare to go on national television to speak on behalf of the government looking like a slob? Of course not! It would be disrespectful to the office or the person the spokesman represented. Likewise, we must think about what we look like, what we sound like, and how we are perceived. We are not representing ourselves; we are representing Jesus Christ.

Fourth, as a believer, you must realize that your private life is just as important as your public life. If you publicly declare the Gospel, but later it is discovered that your private life is a horrible mess and a complete contradiction of what you’ve been preaching, this, too, will reflect poorly on the Gospel.

The lost world loathes hypocrites but enjoys it immensely when a preacher or believer is found to be a contradiction of the message he or she preaches. So never forget that as the Lord’s spokesman, you are required to do everything possible to maintain a life that is spotless, immaculate, pristine, gleaming, and squeaky clean—free of accusation.

Fifth, as a believer and a representative of Jesus Christ, you must make a decision to refrain from making personal comments that are not your business to make. Speak what Jesus tells you to speak—but if someone tries to draw you into a debate or a conversation regarding a matter you know nothing about, just remain silent. You are not required to speak or to act like an authority regarding issues about which you are not an authority!

You see, preaching the Gospel is what you do every day of your life by the way you live and conduct yourself. It is true that public pulpit ministry is a very special gift and honor that some are called to do. But the truth is, you preach every day that you get up and faithfully go to work! You preach when you choose to dress modestly or when you speak kindly to your fellow employees, believers, or friends. All these things reflect on the message of the Gospel.

So as you obey Jesus’ words to take the Gospel to every ethnic group, culture, custom, civilization, and sphere where you personally have influence, always be mindful of the fact that you are His kerux in those places. You are His personal representative, and everything you do and say preaches about Jesus Christ!

And as you go through each day, always make sure you set aside time in God’s Presence to obtain His Word and capture His heart. Then you’ll be able to turn to those you touch every day of your life and give them the message and heart that God has imparted to you on their behalf.


Lord, I ask You to please help me become an honorable representation of who You are! I am sorry for allowing myself in the past to live a low standard that gave a wrong impression about You. Now I understand that I am Your face and Your voice to the people around me. To the best of my ability, I want to speak courteously, dress appropriately, act professionally, and live in a Christ-like manner so I can accurately portray Your Word and Your heart. I know this is going to require some changes in my life, so today I am asking You to help me as I take steps toward becoming a worthy representative who brings only honor to the King of kings.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I am the spokesman of the Lord. As His representative, I live respectfully, honorably, and in a way that brings glory to His name. I behave professionally; I speak courteously and kindly to others; I dress appropriately as His representative; and I preach the Gospel with excellence by the way I live both my public and private life. As a believer, I accept my assignment to be one of God’s messengers to my generation!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. After reading today’s Sparkling Gem, how do you feel you are doing at accurately representing Jesus Christ with your life? Does your life preach a message that brings honor or disgrace to Him?
  2. Do you see any changes you need to make in the way you dress, speak, or act so you can present a better view of Jesus to those who don’t know Him? If the answer is yes, what are those changes you need to make?
  3. Why don’t you make a list of those changes and put that list somewhere in your home where you will see it every day and be reminded to work diligently on improving those areas of your life?



My friend, my guess is that you have every reason to be cynical about life! After all, haven’t you been short-changed, not given due respect… exploited, and shunted aside?


Of course you have! But isn’t that how most of us have been treated from time to time?


Sadly, cynicism brings with it the seeds of spiritual paralysis and ineffectiveness in ministering to others…


After all, who wants to be around a bitter, brittle fud who expends his energy decrying life’s injustices?


So how can we avoid this cancer of the soul? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Stop grousing over the way it wasEspecially if you were right.
  • Accept the fact that in time your influence will probably diminish, and you will receive increasingly fewer accolades.
  • Focus on what is right, not on what is wrong.
  • Stay active in ministering personally to others. Getting down and dirty into peoples lives will help keep you fresh and on your knees, and too busy to bother with pampering yourself in cynicism.
  • Affect what you can and should, and then commit the rest to God, keeping in mind that He probably has not yet designated you to be The Chancellor of the Universe.
  • Instead of being a critic of the next generation, be a source of encouragement, and their champion.
  • Dont let unresolved conflicts remain.

Jesus’ response to His unjust treatment should serve as our model:


When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23)


In observing older people around us, it is apparent that many have become sullen over their situation in life.


QUESTION: Do you plan to be one of them, or one of those rare, joyful, senior citizens around whom young people love to collect?


Given your present mind-set, into which camp do you think you are heading?



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