PARENTS, HANG IN THERE
Roger D. Campbell
From the outside looking in, being a parent looks like one of the most stress-free, easy tasks that one could imagine. Reality hits home, though, once we become a dad or mom and we are the ones taking care of and being responsible for the little kiddies. Then, without our permission, those little ones turn into turbulent teens. Parents, hang in there!
God wants parents to love their children (Titus 2:4-5). He wants parents to teach them His righteous instructions (Deut. 6:7). He wants parents to be a pattern of good behavior for their children (Matt. 5:16). God also wants parents to discipline their children (Heb. 12:9-11). None of those matters are negotiable — God wants parents to do them, and He wants them done His way.
Sometimes we struggle to maintain our cheerful demeanor and sanity when dealing with our children —dealing with their facial expressions, attitudes, mouths, irresponsibility, ever-changing likes and dislikes, and their day-in-and-day-out stuff. Parents, hang in there! Keep on loving them, keep on praying for them, and keep on helping mold them into instruments conformed to the image of God’s wonderful Son (Rom. 8:29).
If you feel challenged to “hold it together” as a parent, believe me, you are not the first parent who has encountered some testy trials of your patience. Think about Jacob. Two of his sons, Simeon and Levi, acted inappropriately and caused Jacob’s name “to stink” in the land (Gen. 34:30). Your children may make choices which make your family name stink, too. Hang in there.
God’s children, those whom He had “nourished and brought up,” rebelled against Him (Isa. 1:2). If that ever happens to you, God knows your pain. Parents, hang in there.
David’s son, Absalom, sought to undermine David’s authority and peaceful life (2 Sam. 15-18). Your children may try that with you one day. Parents, if that ever occurs, hang in there.
David’s heart was broken when he lost more than one child to physical death (2 Sam. 18:33). Parents, if you have to face the horror of losing a child, or worse yet, experience the horror of seeing your own child turn away from the Lord and die spiritually, hang in there.
If your child tells you, “I hate you,” “I can’t wait to turn eighteen so I can move as far away from you as possible,” or “You have to be the worst mom/dad in the world,” hang in there. When people get all worked up, they say hurtful things that they do not really mean. Keep on loving them, praying for them, and doing your best —that is all you can do, right?
When the Jews were working feverishly to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, their adversaries made a mockery of what they were trying to accomplish (Neh. 4:1-3). Sadly, some people today, out of ignorance or meanness, or both, make fun of Christian parents who are trying their best to raise their children in harmony with the Scriptures.
It is a real tragedy when other members of the church make fun of or talk behind the backs of parents who discipline their children, “drag” them to every single worship service and Bible class, restrict their use of the internet, phones, and TV, refuse to allow them to flaunt their nakedness in public, and demand that they speak respectfully to and about others. Brothers and sisters, if you are striving to raise your children by God’s Book, do not feel intimidated by the devil’s snickers, and do not let the whispers of worldly-minded children of God deter you from being the godly parents that your children need.
Parents, hang in there!
Is Faithful Attendance Important?
It is quite strange to hear some members of the Lord's church express their thoughts about attending all services of the congregation. They have been purchased with the blood of Christ, separated from the world to live according to Christ, enlisted in the army of the Lord, commanded to be lights in the world, and instructed to put the Lord and his work before all other interests. But in some way we have convinced ourselves (deceived, a better word) that faithfulness in attendance is only optional, except for the Lord's supper on Sunday morning, which we do not see as too pressing even then.Please think seriously and look again, before Judgement day comes, to the real truth of the matter:
- Faithfulness is the seventh fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is produced in our lives only when we follow the Holy Spirit's teaching (Gal. 5:22).
- Faithfulness means dependable, constant, reliable, honorable and loyal. Could this be said of our attendance when we only attend once a week?
- Faithful attendance is directly commanded along with holding fast our confession and considering one another as we should (Heb. 10:23-25). Are we practicing the Golden Rule concerning other's interest (Matt. 7:12)?
- Faithful attendance causes the church to be seen as "a city that is set on a hill"; while unfaithful attendance puts our influence "under a bushel" (Matt. 5:14-16).
- Though we are commanded to seek the lost, do we realize that no one can influence any of the lost to be saved while not being faithful (1 Peter 3:1-7).
- Those who substitute faithful attendance for people and/or things of the world will soon have corrupt morals (1 Cor. 15:33).
- Unfaithfulness to all services keeps one from growing "in grace, and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
- Children, whom we are charged with training, will grow up undisciplined in honorable loyalty to the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
- Unfaithfulness in attendance expresses a lack of concern for our souls and ignores those charged with watching and giving an account for our souls in the Judgement (Heb. 13:17).
- Unfaithfulness causes us to miss the fellowship, strength, comfort and peace intended by God in the church (1 John 1:7; Phil. 4:6-8).
- And worst of all, unfaithfulness will cause us to miss Heaven with all its joy, peace and eternal bliss, because sin will not enter there (Please read James 4:17).
One hour with the people of God in worship unto God is more profitable to a citizen of Heaven than all the fleeting pleasures or cankering gold of this world. The bottom line is really found in whether we love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind (Matt. 23:37).
WHY I AM A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
Garland M. Robinson
God has not left it to the judgment of the individual as to what is right and wrong in religion; nor has he given men a choice in regard to what church they belong (as so many declare).
Jesus came into this world to establish his kingdom, which is his church/body (Matt. 16:18-19; Mark 9:1). There is “one body...one faith” (Eph. 4:4-5). The one body is identified as the “church” (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). Jesus is the saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23). Do you think he will save any other body than his? He said he wouldn’t in Matthew 15:13, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, SHALL BE ROOTED UP!”Don’t you want to be in the Lord’s church, the body of the saved?
God has certain principles and laws that must be obeyed:“Forget not my law” ... “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye”(Prov. 3:1; 7:2). Sin is a violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Everyone must abide by the Lord’s way. What seems right to men is the way of death (Prov. 16:25). It is not in man to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23). We must follow God’s directions and be faithful to his commands. When we do, the Lord adds us to the body of the saved which is his church (Acts 2:38,41,47). We have no choice in the matter.
Why should everyone be a member of the church of Christ? Notice these many reasons.
Because it is scriptural in organization.It has elderswho oversee (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:1-7), deaconswho serve (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-13), evangelistswho preach and teach (2 Tim. 4:2-5) and members/saintswho faithfully follow the Lord (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:2). It has no higher authority on earth than the local congregation. There are no earthly headquarters or legislating body to make rules. It’s citizenship is in heaven, not on earth (Phil. 3:20). Every congregation appeals to the Bible and answers only to God.
Because it requires no more or less than that which is set forth in the Scriptures.First Thessalonians 5:21 declares: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”Colossians 3:17 demands authority for everything said and done. The church of Christ works and speaks as the “oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). The Bible is its only creed.
Because it is scriptural in its worship.Worship in the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16) consists of: singingpsalms, hymns and spiritual songs without instrumental accompaniment (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), prayingunto God the Father in the name of Jesus the Son (Matt. 6:9; John 16:23-26; Acts 2:42), givinga freewill contribution on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2), partaking the Lord’s supperon the first day of every week (Acts 20:7; Matt. 26:26-28), and preachingthe Gospel (Acts 20:7).
Because it is the fulfillment of divine prophecy — God’s eternal purpose.Ephesians 3:1-11 explains this well. The Lord’s church is not an accident or substitute. It is spoken of in Isaiah 2:1-4, Micah 4:1-4 and Daniel 2:31-45. It is the eternal kingdom spoken of throughout the ages by the holy prophets (cf. Acts 2:16). Jesus said, “I will build my church”(Matt. 16:18). It is his and wears his name (Rom. 16:16).
Because the Bible is its only creed.The church of Christ has no manual, catechism, discipline or prayer book. The Bible is completely sufficient. “...His divine power hath given unto us all thingsthat pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him....”(2 Peter 1:3). “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnishedunto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It is the book from which all will one day be judged (John 12:48; Rev. 20:12). I want no other! How about you?
Because it is built according to the pattern in the New Testament.There is one builder and head, Jesus the Christ (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 3:3-6; Eph. 1:22-23). “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:19- 20). On what was the church you attend built?
Because it has a Bible name.Why would a bride choose to wear a different name than the groom? “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”(Acts 4:12). Romans 16:16 speaks of congregations everywhere and says, “the churches of Christ salute you.”What name does your church wear?
Because the Gospel is its only drawing power.Gimmicks and gadgets, food and fun, party and recreation will not save. Those drawn by such look for the “loaves and fishes” and will walk away when they are no longer offered (John 6:26-27). Men are drawn to God by the Gospel, nothing else (John 6:44-45; 1 Cor. 1:18-21). It is God’s drawing power to save (Rom. 1:16). Men are saved when they obey it (1 Peter 1:22; Rom. 6:17-18; Heb. 5:8-9; Matt. 7:21-23). What draws you to the church you attend?
“AM I BECOME YOUR ENEMY?”
Noah A. Hackworth
Like Christ, Paul was falsely accused, but the apostle was not given to falsehood or the misrepresentation of truth; no one had more respect for truth than he, and he always spoke it in love (Eph. 4:15). It was Paul himself who called attention to the fact that in a given instance Peter was not “walking uprightly according to truth” (Gal. 2:14). No “right thinking” person seeks or thrives on making enemies, but sometimes it happens. Paul had made some enemies in the Galatian area, but such was certainly not his desire or intent. He had handled himself admirably among them, but there were some who not only disputed the teaching of the apostle, they waged an attack on his person and upon his apostolic credentials. There are those who simply cannot handle truth.The Sadducees, for example, became “sorely troubled (i.e., they got all worked up and became indignant) because the apostles, Peter and John, proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. When we uphold the right and oppose the wrong, we often find ourselves in the camp of the unfriendly. Truth Makes Enemies!
Christians sometimes make enemies because they live and teach the truth. More correctly stated: people often become the enemies of those who consistently live and teach the truth.Consider some of the areas where this is true. First, in the area of putting the Lord first (Matt. 6:33). The fact that one may miss, because of uncontrollable things, the regular assembly on Lord's Day does not admit of doubt. Such things can happen, but there are times when members of the church become careless and/or indifferent, and unnecessarily miss the established Lord's Day worship in order to carry out some plan they have made. They apparently feel completely justified in missing the Sunday morning assembly under the persuasion that they can attend Sunday night. This is unwise, foolish and wrong, and it ought not be done. It is a sad commentary on one's “spiritual strength,” and could cost more than one could “pay” at the judgment.
Paul instructs the Thessalonian brethren to “withdraw themselves from every brother who walks disorderly” (2 Thess. 3:6).Withdraw is from stelloand means “to draw back” (Nestle). Peter had eaten with the Gentiles, which was permissible (cf. Acts 10-11), but when his Jewish brethren came he “drew back” (Gal. 2:12). “Here (2 Thess. 3:6) it is withdrawal from brethren who are out of step” (Rienecker).
CONCLUSION:Only a few areas where enemies are made have been discussed, but this is sufficient to establish the truth of the proposition. None of us need or want enemies, but if we do what the Lord bids us do, if we preach and practice the truth, there will be people who will disagree with us, resent us, and often alienate themselves from us. But the truth must continue. So, in the words of Paul, “Am I (we) become your enemy.”
THE “YOUTH APPROACH” TO PREACHING
Victor M. Eskew
The message of God is holy and divine. It deals with things eternal. It involves the most precious possession of man, his soul. Its delivery should not be mingled with the fluff and slim of the world just to make it palatable for young people. Speakers need to teach sobering thoughts to our children.
A second warning involves the soft, non-offensive messages that are often proclaimed to our youth. Some refer to them as “feel good” lessons. Occasionally, a message of this sort may be warranted. However, we live in extremely dangerous times. Satan and his army are on the march. The precious things of God are under attack. The minds of our youth are being assailed on every front. To protect them, calls for stern, “to the point,” messages. The enemy must be exposed. Our children must be told how to overcome the evil one. They must be exhorted to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) and to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). The minister of the Gospel needs to remember the words of God spoken to the prophet of God long ago: “Son of man, I have made thee a watchmen unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (Ezek. 3:18).
The last warning involves the content of the preacher’s message. Peter told Jesus: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). These words still exist today. They are found in the pages of God’s Word. These are the words that lost man needs to hear. These are the words the church needs more than ever. Ministers of the Gospel need to fill their lessons with a “thus saith the Lord.” Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). He told Titus to “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:10. Peter wrote: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11). Gospel preachers, regardless of the age of their audience, have a responsibility to declare “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
This writer understands the need to meet people where they are. In so doing, however, we must not refuse to tell people what they need to hear. Nor should we soft-soap the powerful message of the Gospel of Christ. Truth is what sets men free (John 8:32). The Word of God enables men to be sanctified (John 17:17). Growth comes by partaking of the Word of God (I Peter 2:2). And, it will be the Word of God that will judge all men, including youth, in the last day (John 12:48). Let’s address our youth and their problems, but let us do so from the divine perspective, not from the human “feel good” approach.
May our “Youth Approach” to preaching harmonize with the Bible greats of the past. We close with Jeremiah’s words to Israel of old: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the way, and see, and ask for the old paths, wherein is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16).