Keep Christ Out of Christmas

Posted: December 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

It is appalling to many that a gospel preacher who unreservedly believes that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God would tell the world to “keep Christ out of Christmas.” Yet, many preachers, including this one, do just that.

This grows out of the belief that what is written in scriptures contains the complete will of God and Christians are taught not to go beyond its teaching to preach any other gospel than what was preached then (see 2 Tim 3:15-16; Gal 1:6-9; 2 John 9). What the Bible teaches is everything that any man needs to know to obey and please God. Any teaching beyond this is merely the “teaching” or “traditions” of men.

When Jews during the public ministry of Jesus sought to bind ceremonial washing of hands before a meal, Jesus condemned it as a “tradition” of men and rebuked the Pharisees for teaching and practicing it. He said, first of all, that to add traditions of men like this one to God’s word makes the word of God “void” or ineffective (Matt 15:6). He also said that men worship and serve God in vain if they teach for doctrines the precepts and commandments of men (Matt 15:9).

Note, with this background, that it was more than 250 years after the New Testament was written that men officially set December 25 as the day for celebrating the birth of Christ. Others said it should be observed January 6, February 2, March 25, April 19, May 20, and November 17 (see Americana Encyclopedia). The fact is that no one knows the day Jesus was born. Furthermore, because of changes from the Jewish calendar to the Roman calendar, men are not exactly sure even the year of Jesus’ birth.

But what is clear is that there are no New Testament references to Christians in the first century commemorating in any way the birth of Jesus. Why, if they did not observe “Christmas,” are believers in Christ today so insistent that it be done in the 21st century?

What we do know about remembering Jesus is what Jesus Himself planned for His disciples. When He ate the last Passover feast with the twelve, He took some of the “unleavened bread” and “fruit of the vine” and told the disciples to “eat” and “drink” this in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:14-23). Read the New Testament and you will find no other special “remembrance” of Jesus.

The New Testament does tell us that the disciples assembled upon the first day of the week to break bread which included eating unleavened bread and drinking from the cup as Jesus had taught (see Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:23-26). They did this to remember Jesus, to proclaim His death, and discern His body till He comes again.

Remember that it was on the first day of the week that Jesus arose from the dead (see John 20:1). And, thus, it is fitting that disciples who are commanded to assemble would do so on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). It also makes sense that in the assembly and in the communion service with Jesus they would remember His body which bore the punishment of their sins and His blood which atoned for their sins to provide forgiveness (see 1 Peter 2:21-24; Rom 3:24-25; Matt 26:26-28).

It is remarkable that churches assemble today on the first day of the week (the day Jesus arose and the day the first-century church memorialized His death) and have no communion service. And beyond this, these churches are appalled and critical of Christians who meet every first day of the week to remember Jesus in the observance of the Lord’s Supper, as He commanded, and then refuse to obey a tradition of men honoring His birth that is nowhere taught in the Bible. Rather interesting and strange. But to the point: we keep Christ out of Christmas because men, not God, put Him there.

-L. A.

 


Sound Doctrine

Posted: November 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

One of the disturbing trends of twenty-first century religion is man’s aversion to doctrine. The very word itself is anathema in many circles. Anyone who mentions the idea or uses the word is viewed with suspicion, cast aside as a relic of the past, and deemed unfit for modern times.

The problem begins with the word “doctrine” itself. “Doctrine” sounds creedal, narrow-minded, hardheaded, and unloving. To “indoctrinate” someone, many perceive, is to brainwash him: to bias his thinking with untruths, half-truths, fallacious reasoning, slanted statistics, impractical theories, etc. “Doctrinal” men, it is often believed, are pernicious fellows with a hidden agenda that alienates people and destroys individuals.

These impressions are not altogether unfounded. When men of the Reformation era returned to the Bible as a basis for authority, they wrote human creeds that alienated people from God and one another; and they were also careless in both their use of the Bible, logic, and facts in defense of their doctrinal statements. Division, of course, resulted (hundreds of them) and the idea of “doctrine” fell into disrepute—a horror to avoid.

Division, however, must not of itself become the basis for rejecting “doctrine.” If that be the case, then men must reject Jesus. He admittedly and openly came not “to send peace on earth, but a sword” and “to set a man at variance” with his own family—much more with society in general (see Matt 10:34-39). The doctrine of Jesus set Himself and His own disciples at odds with Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, etc. And it ultimately brought total rejection and the crucifixion of Jesus.

The problem, then, is not doctrine; it’s the abuses that are often associated with doctrine that must be eliminated. The term “doctrine” itself is a legitimate and acceptable term. It comes from a Latin word doctrina which means—“teaching”; the “doctrine of Christ” is the “teaching of Christ.” Jesus Himself used the word when He said: “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me” (John 7:16, KJV).

To reject the “doctrine of Christ” is to reject God, the one who sent Christ and from whom the “doctrine” came. When the apostles preached the gospel at Pentecost by the Holy Spirit they “indoctrinated” those first disciples, and those obedient believers “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). The apostle Paul charged men with arrogance, ignorance, and a divisive spirit when they consented not to “sound doctrine”—even the teaching, doctrine, and words of Jesus (1 Tim 6:3-5).

Doctrinal soundness gets a bad rap by many because it is so restrictive. It hems folks in and erects walls of truth around a person’s life. How to be saved, for example, is dictated; how the church is organized or is to worship is spelled out specifically; how one is to live a moral life puts restraints on folks; how to be a father/husband or mother/wife is precise; and so it is with life in general.

A person must, for example, be immersed in water to be saved—sprinkling or pouring water on someone’s head will not do (see Rom 6:4). Congregational singing and making melody in the heart is taught rather than choirs, quartets, rock bands, and mechanical praise (Eph 5:19). Moral uprightness is a must—honesty, sex only in marriage, faithfulness to one’s wife unto death, no divorce except for fornication, modesty and purity in dress code, no drunkenness or drugs (see Heb 13:4; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Matt 19:9; 1 Tim 2:9-10; Gal 5:19-21).

These do not constitute a complete list but is suggestive of the need for doctrinal soundness. Disciples of Christ today, as disciples in the first century, must abide in the doctrine and teaching of Christ. Fellowship with the Father and the Son depends on it. As the apostle John wrote: “Whosoever transgresses and abides not in the doctrine of Christ has not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son“ (2 John 9).

The word “doctrine” must not deter any man from learning and obeying the teaching of Christ.

-L. A.

 


Evangelism Report – November 2014

Posted: November 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim 4:2)

Over the last month, it seems the word has been in season. Opportunities to study with those in our community have continued to multiply. Much patience is going to be required before these seeds show significant growth, but we are hopeful we will see some fruit when the harvest comes around.

Our meetup group studies have continued to be successful. Out of the 4 studies we conducted this month we have had 3 new visitors as well as some return visitors. I have had two new personal studies arise from these contacts. Our online membership has increased from 17 to 23. We have 3 more studies scheduled for December to finish out the books of James and Ephesians.

Starting in January we will be starting 3 new meetup group studies. Scott Bale will be leading a study of Philippians in Des Peres on the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7pm. I will be leading a study of Genesis in Webster Groves on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7pm. L. A. will be leading a study of Acts on the 4th Monday of each month at 7pm. We plan to start posting these studies in the News and Notes section of our bulletin and would like to encourage more members to join in on this effort.

Another effort that has been growing is my monthly service at the Lakeview Park retirement home. This is the facility where Anna Barton lives. For some time I have been conducting a 2pm service in their “chapel” every 4th Sunday of the month. Recently I have been preaching through some of my evangelism material. Our attendance has consistently increased over the last 5 or 6 months. Last Sunday we nearly filled the seats with over 10 residents.

Next month we will meet on Sunday Dec. 28 at 2pm.   I plan to bring extra folding chairs if there are any brethren who would like to come with me. We usually sing a few songs from a supplement I have compiled, solicit prayer requests from the residents, and then I present a 15 minute lesson. In all, the service usually lasts 35-40 minutes.

This is both an evangelistic effort and an encouragement to Ms. Anna, who is no longer able to make it to the assembly. Our hope is that in time some of the residents who regularly attend will be interested in having personal bible studies.

Another evangelistic effort that is making slow progress is the production of evangelism videos for our website. This past week I met with my brother-in-law, Craig Dehut, to get some advice on the best approach for shooting these videos. He works for a video production company in Indianapolis. He helped me set up what I need to start shooting these videos. My hope is to have the first video edited and ready to go sometime in January.

While most of our evangelistic efforts are still in the seedling stage, this report would not be complete without mentioning some of the fruit we have seen. As most of you know, Will Harms committed his life to Christ and had his sins washed away in baptism on Nov. 15.

While God deserves all the glory for this wondrous event, this is a harvest of much sowing and watering over the past 16 years. Seeds were sown early on by Will’s mother. Bible class teachers helped to further cultivate and nourish his heart. Examples of other godly men and women in his life encouraged him to think more seriously about his soul. Will reached out to me with some questions recently and through a few studies was brought to the point of conversion.

Remember, every day we are planting seeds. We are influencing the hearts of those around us by our words and actions. Let us continue to encourage our young people as they begin to think more seriously about their souls. And let us continue to encourage those like Will who are just beginning their new life with Christ.

-Grady

 


Emptied Himself

Posted: November 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Take a look at Philippians 2:7, and ask, “Of what did Jesus empty Himself?” Answer: Himself.

We so often want to supply other objects of which He emptied Himself. “He emptied Himself of His _____ (fill in the blank).” But that’s not what the text says. The text says He emptied Himself, and that’s a big difference from saying that He emptied Himself “of” this or that.

Jesus didn’t emptied Himself “of” other things or characteristics or attributes. He emptied Himself. Let that sink in.

Look at the context. Paul is encouraging unity through proper attitudes and conduct. “Conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). He wants them to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (2:1-2). How can this happen? By doing “nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” and looking out  for the interests of others (vv. 3-4). In other words, they will achieve this unity and love by having the mind of Christ (v. 5). What was the mind of Christ? Though God, He emptied Himself. He took the form of the Servant. He went to the cross. He did nothing from selfishness or empty conceit; He regarded others as more important than Himself. This is what “emptied Himself” means. He humbled Himself by going to the cross. God humbled Himself by dying on a cross. If He can do that, how dare we think we are so special as to deserve our own preferences and desires!

Now compare Isaiah 53. The suffering Servant was pierced through for our transgressions. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was crushed for our iniquities. Notice especially verse 12: He “poured out Himself to death.” He emptied Himself. It is because of this that we are healed and forgiven.

Now, for personal application, consider a similar statement in Luke 9:23. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

“He must deny himself.” Deny self, not “deny himself of this or that.” The Lord doesn’t want a portion of us. He doesn’t want a bit of this or that. He wants us. He wants you. All of you. All of me. This may indeed be the most difficult command of all, for how often does “self” keep getting in the way?

Jesus is our example. He emptied Himself and He wants us to do the same. Only after self-emptying, self-denial, will the true life and glory follow.

-Doy Moyer

 


On Having Hope

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Pet 1:6).

When Peter said that we may be “grieved by various trials,” he spoke a truth that has been borne out in the experience of most of us. This world is far from what it would have been had sin never entered the picture. It is a “vale of tears,” a place where sorrow and suffering are the common lot of all.

But the suffering is only one side of the truth, at least as far as Christians are concerned. If we suffer, we also “greatly rejoice.” Ironic though it may seem, we are able, because of our hope in Christ, to rejoice even while we suffer. When Paul spoke of the difficulties that might have to be encountered by Christians, he said, “yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37). God does not eliminate the possibility of difficulty having to be endured; He gives us a hope that will see us through the difficulties. Indeed, it is in all these things—not despite them—that we are more than conquerors.

It is a pity if we ever ignore or underestimate the difference that hope makes in the life of the Christian. Yet we have a tendency to do that. If we’ve been Christians very long, we may not remember what it was like to try to deal with the sufferings of this life with no hope of anything better than this life. But one hour back in that situation would remind us how valuable our hope is.

We need not evade the truth: if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then we are still dead in our sins and there is no hope (1 Cor 15:14-19). Take away the eternal hope, and Christianity is not a “nice way to live”; it is a
pathetic joke.

But the hope of the Christian is real, and we need to rejoice in the difference that it makes in the quality of our lives. We, like our brother Paul, “are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body (2 Cor 4:8-10). If it weren’t for Christ, there are days when the darkness would be too dark and the pain too painful, to pretend that this life is worth living.

“If it were not for hope the heart would break” (English Proverb).

-Gary Henry

 


Aliens on Earth, Adopted in Heaven

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen…” (1 Pet 1:1).

Aliens—This world is where we eat, sleep, work, and play. We live in houses with our names signed to the deed and painted on the mailbox out front. We give these dwellings a personal touch with decorations of “home sweet home” and family pictures hanging on the wall. But we must recognize that there are no “permanent addresses” here on earth.

We are strangers, foreigners, and pilgrims in this world. Our homeland lies far away in a land unlike anything seen here on earth. We don’t belong here any more than the little green Martians in our science fiction novels. While our flying saucer might be temporarily out of commission, this planet is just a pit stop.

Our homeland, however, is much greater than any planet in any galaxy of this vast universe. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Php 3:20). Our “home sweet home” is the eternal abode of an all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving God—the Creator of this universe.

There is a reservation in heaven with our name on it (1 Pet 1:4). A dwelling place prepared for us by Jesus Himself (John 14:2-3). Like the weary traveler longing for his nice warm bed or the soldier overseas longing for his family’s embrace, we must keep our eyes fixed on our heavenly home.

Scattered—Though we may “come in peace” our unworldly character will rarely be met with a warm welcome. The immoral culture in which we live does not always take kindly to outsiders. We don’t conform to their social expectations or way of life (Rom 12:2). We should not be surprised when we are ridiculed and rejected.

The Christians of Peter’s day had been scattered from their earthly homes by persecution. In Old Testament times the Jewish dispersion had been deported from their promised land by the oppressive powers of Babylon and Assyria. This early church diaspora had been cast out by the reigning power of Rome (Acts 18:2).

Christians, as well as their Jewish predecessors, were viewed as incessant trouble makers by the Roman empire. They did not participate in many public events where Caesar was honored in a way nearing deification. They swore allegiance to a different “Lord” and “Savior” (the titles commonly ascribed to Caesar). They were treated as outcasts, if not full–out rebels.

Our allegiance to the Lord can often provoke similar response. We refuse to bow down to the altars of material wealth and fleshly indulgence worshipped so enthusiastically by our culture. We have rebelled against the way of the world and can expect to be ostracized for it. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).

Chosen—The world may not want us, but God does. Society may have cast us out, but God welcomes us in. He has opened up His home to us and chosen us to be part of His family. We could never deserve His attention or affection. Yet, when we were helpless orphans, God came down to this earth and said, “I want you.”

And even greater, He demonstrated it to us. Out of all the riches of His grace, He gave the most precious possession of all to purchase us—the blood of His Son (1 Pet 1:18-19). In God’s eyes, we were worth dying for.

The price having been paid, He took away our filthy garments, released us from the shackles of sin, and tenderly carried us home to live with Him. We have been redeemed. We have been chosen. We now have a Father who loves us and a home where we belong.

We may still have a long road ahead of us. There may be many a dark day to come in our pilgrimage through this world. We will be tempted to pitch our tents toward Sodom at times, or start building our barns within the city walls (Gen 13:12; 19:2). Yet if we stay true to our heavenly heritage, we can look forward to a warm welcome home at the end of our journey. Though rejected by the world, we are chosen by God and He wants us to live with Him.

-Grady

 


Friends: A Matter of Salvation

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Few of us, I’m certain, think of “friends” as vital to salvation. We think of salvation as coming from a direct relationship with God and Christ. And, of course, this is true. Friends or relatives cannot obey the gospel for us. We can only be saved if we ourselves respond to the gospel in the obedience of faith. Theoretically, we are saved solely by Christ, through His blood, and by the power of the gospel at work in our lives.

What this ignores is the difficulty any person has in serving God alone. Without the encouragement and help of “friends” in Christ, many among us have faced times when we could have given up. I recall brethren in the time I have been at Kirkwood who have abandoned the Lord in part because they became “loners” among us. I am persuaded that if the truth were known, there are many more than what we know. Practically speaking, I am convinced that having close friends in the church is a matter of salvation—a matter of whether or not we go to heaven. And there is no doubt in my mind that some among us do not faithfully assemble because they don’t really have any close friends here. Why is this so?

Negativity—I’ve noticed in some cases that brethren have no friends in the church because they are so negative. They are full of complaints about the world, their job, the church, their family, etc. It’s as though nothing is worthwhile. The glass is always half empty; a stretch of good highway is remembered for one pothole; a mild winter is described by one weekend of ice or several inches of snow; a beautiful, sunny day is remembered by a lightning storm late that night. Brethren have folks like this into their homes, see their negativism, and conveniently ignore them thereafter.

Inhospitable—A few who complain about lack of hospitality among the brethren never have brethren into their homes. Some speak of how long they have been at Kirkwood and not one family has had them into their home. One has to wonder about the mindset of brethren who just sit back and wait for others to be hospitable—and then complain when they receive no invitations. And then when they do receive an invitation, they never respond with an invitation of their own to develop ongoing relationships.

Unfriendly—And what about brethren who themselves are unfriendly? They dash out the front doors before anyone other than the preacher gets a chance to speak to them. And a few will stand around waiting for someone to speak to them. You can almost see a challenge in their demeanor: I’m going to stand here to see if anyone will speak to me or to see how long it takes for someone to acknowledge my presence. The Psalmist tells us that to have a friend “a man…must show himself friendly” (Prov 18:24, KJV).

Brethren, I do not write these words to offer my own “complaints” or to manifest an “unfriendly” spirit toward brethren who have no friends. I write it because I seriously believe this problem is vital to the salvation of some brethren among us. If these kinds of attitudes persist, these brethren will cultivate no friends, become discouraged to the point of despondency, and do one of two things: (1) Go to another congregation and start the process all over again; (2) Or they will begin to forsake the assemblies and drift away completely from the Lord.

The matter of “friends” in the Lord, brethren, is no joking matter. This is of utmost importance to all of us. We need to take seriously the matter of seeing positive good in life, being hospitable to brethren who need friends, and opening up and making ourselves friendly to one another. I seriously believe the salvation of souls depends on it. Please, take this seriously, brethren!! Make yourselves friendly for your own sake and for the sake of other brethren!!

-L. A.

 


Maturity

Posted: November 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Our English word “maturity” comes from a Latin word that means “ripe” and is used to describe something that is fully developed or grown. It is used of fruit, plants, animals, and man. It may describe a man’s intellect, his moral, his physical, or his character development. Some folks are mature in one area of growth and immature in others. Fully mature people are well-rounded in all aspects of being.

Maturity in the New Testament is usually described by either the term “full-grown” or “perfect.” James speaks of brethren who are “perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (1:2-4). Paul writes of a Christian becoming a “full-grown man” who measures up to the fullness of the stature of Christ (Eph 4:13).

The words “full-grown” and “perfect” come from the same Greek word (teleios), which denotes a projected end or goal. God, in other words, has designed a quality of life for His people, and the mature, perfect, full-grown Christian is one who has grown and developed until he has reached that goal.

Reaching maturity is not just a nice idea. It is essential to what Christians are called to be. This was evident in the church at Corinth. They were divided into several warring sects because they lacked maturity. Paul wrote to identify this problem, its flaws, and to provoke correction (see 1 Cor 1:10-13; 3:1-4). We cannot avoid these problems unless we grow up in Christ.

Maturity/Knowledge.Maturity in Christ begins with growth in knowledge. Those who do not mature in knowledge can expect to be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error” (Eph 4:14). Full-grown men exercise their senses to learn and discern between good and evil (Heb 5:14). Without maturity in knowledge troublemakers arise, many are deceived, and division or parties result (see 1 Tim 1:3, 18-20).

Maturity/Character. Knowledge, however, is not equivalent to character. Knowledge sustains the same relationship to character as eating does to nourishment. Eating is the act of ingesting food into the body and does not of itself guarantee that the nutrition of the food will be assimilated into the cells, parts, and organs of the body. So it is with knowledge. Inculcating knowledge into one’s mind and understanding is no assurance that the principles of truth will be incorporated into one’s person. It is one thing to know the truth and another to be “nourished In the words of faith” (1 Tim 4:6).

Division also occurs in the church when brethren fail to grow up spiritually and, as a result, lack the character of Jesus. Paul, for example, could not write unto the Corinthians as “unto spiritual” but as “unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ” (1 Cor 3:1). These brethren had not assimilated qualities of love, patience, self-control, humility, meekness—several of many character traits that bind brethren together even when they have differences.

The church at no time has been totally free from division that results from a lack of knowledge, understanding, or appreciation of authority. Brethren often without understanding and in the absence of authority push and push their views until the church divides. Maturity in knowledge would eliminate division and the heartache it causes.

But neither has the church at any time fully escaped division produced by immaturity of character and the carnal spirit. Strong-willed brethren over matters of judgment will pick and pick at one another until feelings are hurt, relations are strained, and they cease to speak to one another. Before it is over they talk to others, build up followers, and create parties. Maturity in character eliminates biting and devouring one another and the alienation and destruction that follow.

Maturity is not an option, brethren. It is authorized and demanded both in knowledge and character. When babes in Christ do not grow up, trouble and division follow.

-L. A.

 


Doing Our Part

Posted: November 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Harold Holzer’s book Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President contains an interesting response from Abraham Lincoln to a letter sent to him by Major General David Hunter. Hunter declared himself “mortified, humiliated, insulted and disgraced” because he had been given a small command in Kansas when mere brigadiers were leading larger armies elsewhere. Lincoln responded in characteristic patience: “I… am sincerely your friend; and if, as such, I dare to make a suggestion, I would say you are adopting the best possible way to ruin yourself. ‘Act well your part, there all the honor lies.’ He who does something at the head of one Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred.”

The Apostle John called it “the pride of life” and it has reared its ugly head time and again in the course of human affairs.

Adam and Eve partook of forbidden fruit because they thought God was holding something back that they deserved. “I have my rights” has been the undoing of too many to count.

The Tower of Babel was the scene of pitiful little man trying to climb into the “Big League,” God’s League. “We deserve to be recognized” they cried, though as it turned out, in several different tongues that none of the rest of them knew.

The Corinthians thought “tongue-speaking” was the cat’s meow and if you didn’t possess this gift then you were second-rate. That is, until the Apostle Paul got hold of them and reminded them that love is the greatest gift, and that God placed the parts in the body where God wanted them to be and that all parts were necessary to the properly functioning body. Imagine, he says, a body without ears, or eyes, or nose, or limbs. I have a feeling that the fellow who has lost one of these knows rather acutely how valuable they are. Now humbled, having taken a lowly ear or thumb for granted, he would give all his money to have them back. What a sorry thing pride is!

How much like General Hunter we all are. We deserve more recognition; a bigger piece of the pie. And if we don’t get it, then we start hating the one who has it, like Cain did Abel and Saul, David. Paul’s admonition is true (not only for possessions): “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Php4:11).

Would that we could learn to be content with who and what we are. Would that we learn the secret to happiness by being the best we can possibly be without envying others whose talents range in levels far above ours. Would that we could learn to praise God for their talent and not believe we are diminished because someone else soars higher and farther than we do. Would that we could learn the simple and profound truth: “Act well your part, there all the honor lies.”

It is God who forms the body just as He pleases (cf. 1 Cor 12:18, 24, 28). Will we take up this arrogant, self-centered complaint with God? Do you suppose His answer might be to show us the nail prints in His hands and feet (cf. Php 2:1-11)? Maybe a thumb isn’t as glorious as the eye or mouth, but try functioning without a thumb to see how greatly its value increases in our mind.

It was because one lowly colonel held his regiment fast on the extreme right of the Union line that Gettysburg didn’t become a cataclysmic Federal defeat leading to a far different outcome of the Civil War. It was not General Meade who stopped the South at Little Round Top on June 2, 1863, but an unknown colonel named Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. One hill; one regiment; one man’s dogged determination to hold it at all cost. It was not McClellan that went on to glory, but Grant, because one would fight and the other would not.

Do you suppose the Lord may say to us in the Day of Judgment: “He who did something at the head of one Regiment far eclipsed him who did nothing at the head of a hundred.” Sounds like the Parable of the Talents, doesn’t it? The captain of ten must hold his place in the line if the captain of a thousand is ever to receive his due.

It is the best advice — life-changing, malcontent-shattering advice: “Do your part well, for there all honor lies.”

-Chuck Durham

 


Are You Too Busy?

Posted: November 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

We live in busy times. Most of us with children at home find ourselves coming and going all the time. The calendar is full of activities. There is very little “down time” or quiet time. Our busy schedules often keep some of us from helping out in the kingdom. For instance, the elders may ask a man to consider serving as a deacon. Without even thinking about the great service that he could render, the person declines saying, “I can’t right now, I’m just too busy.” Or, someone is asked to teach a Bible class. The opportunity is turned down because the person is too busy.

Being “too busy” can be an easy excuse for simply not stepping up and doing what we should. Saying “I’m too busy,” sounds so much better than saying, “No, I just don’t want to.” Being busy is assumed to be the banner of a successful parent. Being busy means you are not lazy, bored, or dull. We are just busy people.

But have you ever considered that Moses was busy tending his flock when God called him to lead Israel. Gideon was busy threshing wheat when God called him to service. David was busy caring for his father’s sheep when God appointed him king. Nehemiah was busy serving the king when he decided to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Peter and John were busy fishing when Jesus called them to follow him. God never used the lazy or idle. He goes to those who are already at work and busy.

It takes time to teach a class ,or open your home to hospitality, or to write a card of encouragement, or have a home Bible study, or to serve as an elder or deacon. Those that are busy doing those things have families, jobs, hobbies, and commitments just like everyone else. In fact, you will find those that are very busy in the kingdom have to fight time commitments, juggle their schedules, sometimes miss activities they’d like to go to just like everyone else. There are times they would like to just lay on the couch and watch TV. There are times when they get stressed because they feel pulled in more than one direction. But they have found some things that others fail to see.

They have found that being busy in the kingdom is worth the sacrifice they must make. They are making a difference and what they are doing is a good work.

They have found that making time for kingdom work teaches their children a valuable lesson. You don’t do everything you want to do first and then if you have any extra time, find something to do for God. You make time for God. You work your schedule to include God. You make time for the work of the Lord. The Lord found time to die on the cross for us. The Lord finds time to bless us and answer our prayers.

There are many busy folks in the kingdom. You are making a difference and we are thankful for that. Being busy is not an excuse for not doing what God wants of us.

-Roger Shouse