Happy Mother’s Day

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It is that time of year again. One day in 365 that all who are living should observe—Mother’s Day. Why not? Do not our mothers deserve a day in her honor? I believe so. I know so. In this mixed up world in which we live, a lot of people probably think there is nothing so special about Mother’s Day. But—all living human beings owe their earthly existence to mother. Many Christians owe their Christian life to their mothers.

A Mother’s Impact. A mother, human as she is, is that wonderful creature whose love knows no bounds is never wavering, never waning. A mother, perhaps, is the rarest of all of God’s creation. A University of Michigan survey reported 80% of 11-18 year-old girls desired to be just like their mothers. This suggests that one s mother is a very strong force in a child’s life.

The Scriptures recognize the power of a mother’s influence. Paul reminded Timothy of the vital role his mother Eunice had on his life and faith. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure dwells in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5, ESV). Timothy’s faith was genuine and unwavering. While Timothy’s biblical faith came from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), his faith was deeply influenced by his mother Lois. That is the way it ought to be.

What Great Men Have Said about Their Mothers. Paul’s testimony of Eunice on Timothy’s faith is apparent. Famous men have spoken highly of their mothers. Consider.

  • Napoleon said, “the future destiny of the child is always the work of the mother.”
  • Theodore Roosevelt said, “She (mother) is more important by far than the successful statesman, businessman, artist, or scientist.”
  • Jewish Talmud asks, “Who is best taught?” and then answers, “He that is taught by his mother.”
  • Emerson said, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
  • Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am, or can be, I owe to my mother.”

Why Is a Mother’s Influence so Powerful? The more we learn about life the more we understand the importance of mothers and fathers. Mothers ought to encourage. Who does not remember their mother saying, “Go ahead you can do it?” Mothers expect their children to do the right thing. The recent episode of the Baltimore mother who removed her son from rioting and protesting and brought him home is an example. Mothers ought to give independence and self-confidence. Good mothers help as much as needed, but expects her child to learn to stand on his own two feet. Mothers ought to give us emotional stability. While life is a struggle in so many ways, and for so many, our mothers really ought to be a pattern of emotional stability.

A Mother’s Lasting Influence of Their Children. Most know of Sir Walter Scott’s great poetry and literature, many do not know of his mother’s deep love for poetry and literature. A good influence.

Lord Byron was greatly influenced by his mother. Byron’s mother had a horrible temper. She influenced Byron wrongly. Byron’s parents were morally unrestrained, unfaithful to their marriage vows, and devoid of spiritual values. Byron learned to indulge in the sins of his parents. He left great poetry, but he left us an example of what happens to children when parents are careless and sinful.

A young mother was reading the Bible to her baby. A friend asked, “Surely you do not think your baby understands what you are reading?” Mother replied, “No, he does not understand now. But I want his earliest memory to be that of seeing and hearing the Bible.” God bless good mothers.

– W. Terry Varner

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God’s Best Friend

The creation that we have been provided is both a testimony to man’s search for his Creator (Acts 17:24-27) and a visual lesson for man’s search for himself in that creation. The wisdom of scripture urges us to consider ants (Prov 6:6), dogs (Prov 26:11), rock badgers, locusts, lizards (Prov 30:24-28), the lilies of the field (Matt 6:26), or even the fowls of the air (Matt 6:28) in order that we may obtain wisdom ourselves. Not only the creation but also the creatures which inhabit it can teach us how to better seek and serve out Lord.

Let us then consider then the dog, not his questionable digestion habits (Prov 26:11), but its role as a beneficial companion. In the Old Testament eating a dog or touching its carcass would make one ritually unclean for a time (Lev 11:27-28), yet they seem to be present within the cities of the Israelites as work animals (Exo 22:31; Ps 68:23; Matt 15:26-27). Even in our culture today dogs are considered inedible by the majority of society, but the work animal is now considered “man’s best friend.”

I began to give consideration to my own “best friend” Jack, when I was attempting to get him accustomed to me as his new owner. Jack came to us at the age of two and Jack is not a small dog. He was however very friendly and in his own way doing his best to show us how much he appreciated all the care and attention we showered on him. At feeding time, however, he would begin to growl at me after I would finish pouring. In effect he was telling me to back off, and I would oblige him, because I empathized with Jack. I knew how hard it was to get used to a new owner. I too thought I knew better than the Lord and I would grumble and complain when the blessings and prosperity I thought were mine to keep, and how mad I would be when the Lord came to take them away (Prov 16:18; Luke 12:13-24).

This became a problem as sometimes things would get in his bowl that he shouldn’t eat, and sometimes when his bowl had a few bits left he wouldn’t let me refill it. But I knew he was trying to understand because his tail wagged even as he growled. And as he watched I would carefully return the bowl, with more food or with a treat, until the growling stopped and he only sat and wagged his tail as he waited for me to do whatever it was I was doing, trusting that whatever it was it would all be all right in the end.
As Christians, each of us desires to be God’s best friend. Which includes love (John 14:15), obedience (John 15:14), and trust (Isa 40:31). When something is taken from us, let us wait on the Lord, trusting him in obedience, realizing we are being prepared for something much more than the food of today, or the promotion of tomorrow (Rom 8:28-34). Let us set with untroubled tails wagging, knowing our best friend will never let us down (John 14:1-6).

– James M. Barnette

The Statue of Responsibility

We are all familiar with the Statue of Liberty that is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.  The copper statue measures 305 feet and 1 inch from ground level to the torch.  To those seeking Liberty and the American way, she (Lady Liberty) is a welcome sight.  The Statue of Liberty is on the East Coast of the United States.  Some people want to build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.  Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are being considered for locations for this structure.  The 305 foot Statue of Responsibility would be much more than just a book-end to the Statue of Liberty.  The prototype of this proposed structure consists of a pair of clasped hands oriented vertically symbolizing the responsibility that comes with liberty.

The original idea of the Statue of Responsibility was the vision of world renowned Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived the holocaust and went on to publish the best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning.  In this work, published in 1946, he expressed his vision like this:  “Freedom, however, is not the last word.  Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth.  Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness.  In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.  That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

Dr. Frankl enjoyed his time spent in America and admired much about it.  But he took exception to what appeared to be a commonly accepted view of equating freedom with a license to do virtually anything one wants.

The concept of liberty and responsibility are not foreign to the Bible.  One can find the inscription on the Liberty Bell in Leviticus 25:10, “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”  In regards to spiritual liberty, Isaiah 61:1 is read by Jesus in the Synagogue in Nazareth Luke 4:17-19, “. . .The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.  He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  This was fulfilled in Jesus.  In the above discussion of Liberty and responsibility- Viktor Frankl made a powerful observation that liberty is not a license to do anything one wants.  The concept that liberty is not a license is not new.  The apostle Paul penned these inspired words long before thoughts of a building the Statue of responsibility were conceived.  Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the Liberty by which Christ has made us free” and Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh. . .”  Physically we may look at the Statue of Liberty and be reminded of the responsibility of freedom.  Spiritually may we also look into the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25) and known we are set free from our bondage of sin through obedience to the gospel plan of salvation, not to do anything we please, but being mindful that with freedom comes responsibility.

– Michael Foresha

Are Mighty Towers Hindering Me?

The sharp sound of hammers hitting chisels hitting stone permeated the air in ancient Shinar, as a crowd of builders have come together to build a tower. Now, this was no ordinary building, this tower was going to be tall enough to reach Heaven itself. The workers caught the attention of God, when He went down to inspect the work of the men, the Lord was not pleased with what He saw. So God decided to hinder the building project forever.
Instantaneously, confusion turned the construction site of the tower of Babel into turmoil. The Divine caused the men to speak different languages. The men, unable to communicate with one another, went their separate ways, and the once potentially magnificent tower of Babel was left to corrode into the beginning pages of the Pentateuch.
Found in Genesis 11.1-9, the Tower of Babel explains how all of the languages in the world came to be, it has become a staple in Sunday School Classes around the world. Like any great story, the Tower of Babel has a moral. If you are like me, you have been told the moral of the Tower of Babel is: prideful man shouldn’t think that they can build a tower to see God (or something along those lines). While it is true that pride is a horrible and sinful character trait; that is not what the Tower of Babel is teaching. To see what the moral is, and why God caused men to speak different languages, we have to look at Genesis 9.1: “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.’” 
After the genealogy of Noah given in Genesis 10, we see the Biblical narrative of early man continue in Genesis 11.1-2, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.”  The descendants of Noah were keeping the first part of God’s command by being fruitful and multiplying, but were neglecting the second half of God’s command to “fill the earth. When we read of the Tower of Babel, the entire human race was in one location working together to build a tower to the “heavens” (Gn. 11.4).
The Jewish people had three heavens: the sky, outer-space, and Heaven (where God dwells). The Hebrew word for heavens found in Genesis 11.4 is the same word used to describe the atmosphere around earth (the firmament) in Genesis 1.9. That means that the builders of the Tower of Babel were not trying to build a tower to God or the Heaven; they were simply trying to build a tall and impressive building, one that reached the sky (think ancient skyscraper). They wanted to build the tower to make a great city and a name for themselves “…lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the earth (Gn. 11.4).”
It was not pride that caused God to confuse the people building the Babel’s Tower, but a refusal to obey. They were comfortable staying together neglecting the command to spread out and fill the earth. God forced them to obey making it impossible for them to work with one another. That is the true story of the Tower of Babel, and the true moral of the story is: don’t allow your personal preferences or comfort stop you from following the commands of God. Take a lesson from the Tower of Babel. Get out of your comfort zone and go out and do His Will, “…’And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mk. 16.15).”
– Zachary Guiler

Why Every Church Needs Elders

Some words make us very nervous. Among the world’s most nerve-racking words are the simple little words, “all” and “every.” Whenever someone dares use such words, objectors are quick to offer possible exceptions, so as to take the edge off these words. So if someone says, “Every church needs elders,” there are bound to be people who object. That’s why I pray you’ll not object too quickly and you’ll let me explain why every church needs elders.

  1. Every Church Needs Elders Because the Bible Says So

On Paul’s first missionary journey, he and Barnabas appointed elders “in every church” (Acts 14:23). This has always amazed me, but it is what the text says. The churches established on Paul’s first missionary journey all had elders when he left them and returned to Antioch.

On the island of Crete, the apostle Paul gave the task of appointing elders to the evangelist Titus. Paul wrote to Titus, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). Every town that had a church, needed to have elders. The way Paul phrases this instruction indicates that every church without elders is an unfinished state and is in need of someone to put things in order.

  1. Every Church Needs Elders Because Their Role is Important

Every church not only needs elders, but they need the right kind of elders. Every church needs men who meet the qualifications (Titus 1:5-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-7) and who are willing to do the work. Elders are the shepherds of the flock (Acts 20:28) and as such, they have a very important role:

  • being teachers of truth (Titus 1:9)
  • guarding the flock against false teaching (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:9-16)
  • keeping watch over the souls of the congregation (Hebrews 13:17)
  • praying with the sick (James 5:14)
  • being overseers of the affairs of the congregation (1 Timothy 3:1)
  1. Every Church Needs Elders Because Every Christian Needs Shepherds

Sheep need shepherds. That is a simple truth, but one that is often overlooked. We tend to think it’s just some sheep who need shepherds. We think sick sheep, new sheep, or not-so-smart sheep need shepherds. But for some reason, some of us think we are so spiritually mature that we really don’t need shepherds.

I need shepherds. You need shepherds. We all need shepherds.

Congregations in the New Testament not only had shepherds, but had a plurality of shepherds, for one reason (I believe) that even a shepherd needs to be shepherded. Elders are not only the congregation’s shepherds, they are each other’s shepherds as well. They mentor each other, hold each other accountable, teach each other, and confess their sins and struggles to each other. At least that’s the way it should be.

Each and every one of us needs to be led. We need people over us. We need accountability. We need to take instruction. We need to obey and submit (Hebrews 13:17). Submission is good for the soul. It humbles us and makes us more like Christ.

  1. Every Church Needs Elders Because the Church is Not a Democracy

In the First Century, as well as today, there will almost always be a period of time during a congregation’s infancy when they have no elders. During that time, decisions will inevitably have to be made for the congregation. How should a congregation make decisions during that time? As far as I can tell, Scripture simply doesn’t say; unless, of course, the apostles and evangelists simply told congregations what they should do in every matter until elders could be appointed.

Many congregations resort to men’s meetings or congregational meetings, in which decisions are made democratically. I suppose we think this is biblical because we live in a democracy. And even if this is an acceptable short-term arrangement, I don’t believe it should be seen as a long-term solution. After all, I can’t think of any example of this in Scripture.

The church is not a democracy. It is a monarchy. Christ is the head and there are specific offices in His church: “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). We have a hard time understanding Christ’s Lordship over the universal church if every single one of us gets a say in everything that happens in the local church.

But What If There Are No Men Qualified?

I understand that many will protest what they are reading here and say, “There are many congregations without qualified men or without men willing to serve, surely they don’t need elders.” I understand this predicament. I’ve worshiped with – and love dearly – many congregations in this predicament.

The Bible says a sinner needs water in order to be baptized. Someone might think an exception should be made for people who don’t have any water, but I would say that’s not true. I would say a person with no water needs to find water, not make an exception. When we don’t have what the Bible says we need, we must find a way to get what we need.

Congregations need to feel the tension of understanding, “We don’t have elders right now, but we NEED elders.” It is only when they feel this tension that hard, but necessary, decisions can be made:

  • Should we consider merging with another congregation, even if that means driving a few extra miles?
  • Should we consider financially supporting older men to move to our community and serve as our elders?
  • Should we simply begin a concerted effort to train and equip some of our middle-age men, so they are able to serve as elders in the next few years.

I understand there may be times when we must go years without elders, but even during those times, we must not get comfortable with that situation.

Before It Even Begins

Maybe if we realized every church needs elders, we would consider that before we begin a new congregation. Sometimes a new congregation is formed simply because a group of Christians won’t get along with their brethren and they say, “Fine, we’ll just start a new congregation.” Perhaps understanding that every church needs elders might help brethren bear with one another in love a little more (Ephesians 4:2).

Even when a congregation is formed with the very best motives and intentions, consideration ought to be given to the question, “Who will serve as our elders?” Isn’t it funny, we often consider how to acquire a building before we consider the question of elders. There is nothing in Scripture that says a congregation needs to own a building, but there is plenty that says a congregation needs elders.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

Wes is a good man, and brother in Christ. He is the minister at the Baker Heights church of Christ in Abilene, TX .  Check out his site: http://www.radicallychristian.com/

Winning The Battle Against Sin

Not once does the Bible condone sin, nor whitewash its earthly or eternal consequences. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”, Paul asked in Romans six. And the solemn answer rings forth, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans. 6:1-2). No, the Bible always pictures sin for what it is, and for what it does to those who participate in it.

Sin is transgression of God’s law (I John. 3:4). It is missing the mark, or going beyond what God authorized (I Corinthians. 4:6, II John. 9). Sin robs man of his innocence and leads to great misery (Proverbs. 13:15). Sin destroys our fellowship with God (I John. 1), erecting a wall of enmity between us and God.

Isaiah wrote, “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah. 59:1-2). Willful sin, if continued in after learning the truth, voids the sacrifice of Jesus, and condemns your soul at Judgement (Hebrews. 10:26-31). Ultimately, sin’s price is death, “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans. 6:23a).

However, thanks be to God, He has not left us hopelessly lost in our sins! Though the wages of sin is death, the “good news” is that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans. 6:23b)! Yes, we’ve all failed the Lord miserably, but He wants us to get up, and learn from our mistakes, and go on paying the price of trying to serve Him.

Occasionally, we make terrible choices in life, because of ignorance, or immaturity, and sometimes because we’re just plain rebellious. When we do, we buy for ourselves lots of trouble. Wishing we had not sinned will not make the guilt, nor the consequences of our sin go away. Ignoring your sin, or trying to hide it will only add to your pain and increase your guilt.

Don’t compound the problem by denying your sin, or by letting it defeat or destroy you. Rather, deal with the reality of your sin, as you seek God’s help for overcoming it, and His strength for living with its earthly consequences. Repenting of our sins, confessing them to God, and others, if necessary, and asking for forgiveness, is the only way to be freed from sin’s eternal stain, by the amazing grace of Christ.

Sin’s unpleasant consequences must always be dealt with in this earthly vale, but the eternal consequences can be avoided. John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John. 1:9). Paul penned, “…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians. 3:13-14). Peter admonished, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter. 5:6-7). “The Son of Thunder,” “the Persecutor,” and “the Denier” knew whereof they wrote. They had all failed the Lord miserably at times, but they all kept pressing on. They knew the race will be won not by the perfect, but by the patient, persevering souls who will not let sin destroy them.

Yes, when sin knocks you down, don’t let it keep you down. Don’t wallow in the mire! Get up, change up, fess up, pray up, and PRESS ON!

 

Where Does God Fit?

Football, baseball, soccer, Facebook, Candy Crush, shopping, work, family time, sleep, friends, cars, motorcycles, gardening, eating, cooking, home repairs, cutting grass, shoveling snow…..

With all these things in life where is there room for God?  With more advancements in technology, entertainment and the comforts of home, we have secluded ourselves from the outside world. We stay home and are entertained with the television, playing games, and watching YouTube videos in the heated and cooled environment of our homes and rarely take the time to socialize and befriend our neighbors, besides the casual “hello.  How are you?” greeting.

I greatly fear that this society norm is making its way through the Lord’s church.  There seems to be a decreased desire to spend additional time fellowshipping with other Christians and studying God’s word together.  I recently conducted a survey concerning Sunday Evening services.  The majority of those who replied, expressed that they did not regularly attend evening services because they were too busy or too tired.

We all spend too much time worrying and working towards things we cannot change and not enough time seeking after the Kingdom of God (Mt. 6:25-34).  Paul’s states that Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things (1 Tim 4:8).  It serves as a reminder for us to be more focused on the spiritual than the physical.

What (or who) has made us so busy that we have little time left of our day and week to spend in worship and study to God? – Satan! When we are too busy and exhausted to serve and worship God, Satan has won.  Let us never be too busy to serve God.

If it is the case that we are involved in multitudes of activities and find ourselves with little time, serve God in what you are doing.  Matthew records Jesus’ statement, “Go therefore” (Mt. 28:19) and the idea of the wording is “Having gone” – While you are doing whatever it is that you need to do throughout your day, serve God in addition.  Utilize Facebook as an evangelistic tool. When you have a family gathering talk about scripture.  When you are at the soccer fields watching your child compete tell your story of salvation. Talk to the waitress about your faith, leave them contact information about the church along with your tip.  There are ample opportunities for us to serve His Kingdom through are busy schedules and bring glory to God. (1 Pt. 4:11)

~ David S. Deagel