Striking the right note

piano-note

Years ago, an elderly couple in a congregation whom we barely knew were often heard to say, “We just want to love everybody.” Their phrase has stuck with me across the decades.

I don’t know what they meant by it. Did they want to ignore the doctrine of Christ and be, back in that day, all-inclusive? Had they been hurt seeing some harsh attitudes in the body of Christ?

They were not prominent people in the congregation. Even their attendance may not have been as regular as one might expect. Back then, their phrase didn’t impress me much. It seemed to leave too much out. Maybe they meant to cut away beliefs or actions important to others. Maybe not.

Whatever they meant by it, they struck the right note. The Way is the path of love, if it is anything. One thing for certain, God just wants to love everybody. And not only wants, but seeks it.

God sent his Son for salvation. He sent his Spirit for transformation. He sent his Word for sanctification. All in the name of love.

Maybe that couple was on to more than I knew. Continue reading

#books, #corollaries, #discipleship, #leadership, #love-of-god, #prayer, #servanthood

And the common people heard him gladly

Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.” (Mark 12:35-37)

Why did the common people make up the majority of Jesus’ eager students?

Was it because of the preconceived notions that some had about the Messiah?

Was it because of the topics that Jesus preached on?

Was it because of the miracles that Jesus performed?

Was it because Jesus had made a mockery of the religious leaders of the day?

Or was it because the “common” people were made up of individuals who had a desire to be a sheep with the shepherd more than being a shepherd with the sheep?

Just a thought.

#common-people, #leadership, #teachings-of-jesus

The Wrong Side of the Bed

 

Have you ever been asked: “Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?” The question is asked because one’s disposition is short and irritable. I suppose we all have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed on occasion. The wrong side of the bed can turn out okay as the day progresses, but that is not often the case with one who is on the wrong side of an issue.

Those on the wrong side of an issue take the quickest exception to that which is said by another, especially the preacher. Those who are emotionally and/or spiritually insecure can quickly interpret that which is said by another in the worst sort of way. Unfortunate though it is, the problem is with the one who is insecure and on the wrong side of an issue.

The wrong side of an issue, in this case, is in direct relation to what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches a particular point (and it makes no difference what the particular teaching is), and this point is sustained in discussion and study, but the one who wants to hold on to a contrary point then begins to find fault, sometimes even leaving the fellowship. I know of churches with a leadership that would be on the wrong side of Bible teaching, have others point it out, but refuse to talk and study the Scriptures further. Why would they do this? Because there is a desire to leave the Lord’s fellowship and go along with a more popular opinion.  This is not always the case, of course.

In any case, by and large, in a local congregation, those on the wrong side of an issue can fail to see the forest because of the trees. That means there is a failure to see the Lord’s way (the forest) because the trees (personal desire) gets in the way. It is bad when one is on the wrong side of an issue, but it is disastrous when that one, or those ones, is on the wrong side on Judgment Day.

 

#bible-study, #leadership, #wrong-side-of-an-issue, #wrong-side-of-the-bed

The Husband is Head

In the “spirit of this world” there is a challenge the Lord’s people have with regard to the Lord’s will concerning the family. In today’s environment, the husband is not the head of the house, but merely a co-authority alongside his wife. The male and female were created (and are still) equal in the Lord’s eyes (Genesis 1:26; 2:18), but with that declaration of the Lord’s, there is also the declaration concerning who the leader in the family is (1 Corinthians 11:3).

When the Lord brought the male and female together that He created, He brought two equals and made them into one whole (Genesis 2:23-24). Though both the male and female are equals, they were given different roles within the family structure. Paul made this plain in his writings to the church at Ephesus and to Timothy (also at Ephesus). To the church he wrote, the husband is the head of his wife like Christ is the head of the church. The very use of the word head in this context indicates authority. Lest we misunderstand what that authority entails, consider the remainder of the chapter (Ephesians 5:22-33).

The word head, indicating authority, is not dictatorial—not even close! It is authority based on love, and love always seeks that which is best for the other person. Christ is the savior of the body, and the husband is to seek to save (or protect) his wife from the outside harm that will surely come to her if he fails to make the right choices in leading his family (poor choices are made by both the male and female in any and all relationships). This is what love does.

The insecure (and spiritually weak) husband who demands that his wife must obey him, this is a man who is operating, not from love, but spiritual infirmity. What kind of spirit of a man will operate in such a way as this? Only one who is insecure and weak of spirit! Someone might object to this sentiment with, “Does not the Scripture say she must obey him in all things”? It does say this with regard to children (Colossians 3:20), but with regard to the wife it does not say this, and the wife is not a child!

In Titus 2:5, Paul exhorts the older women to teach the younger women to be obedient to their husbands (Titus 2:5). Given what we know of God’s love and Jesus’ example, what do you think is in mind? Dictatorial, of course! Hardly. What is in view is a godly disposition that seeks to honor God in one’s life (Titus 2:1-5). A wife who understands her God-ordained role contributes, mightily, to the strength of her family. The husband who understands his God-ordained role leads his family on the path already blazed by the Lord Jesus.

To wrap up this thought, let us reflect (and be reminded) on the work of love. Love seeks that which is best for the other person. With regard to salvation, Jesus sought our best interest (John 3:16; Luke 19:10). With regard to personal relations, man is to love God with all of his being (which means he honors God by obeying Him), and he is to love his neighbor as himself (which means he will seek that which is best for him—as he would himself).

Husbands, love your wives; if God brought you two together, then she is the best thing that has happened to you in personal relations. Wives, love your husbands; if God brought you two together, then not only is he the best thing that happened to you in personal relations, but his example and leadership is of such a quality that he will do you good all of your days. RT

#home, #husband, #leadership, #marriage, #roles, #wife

THE WAY PEOPLE TALK by Winfred Clarke

Here’s a good little bulletin article that actually has a sermon outline for Nehemiah mixed in. I got it from the Montrose Church of Christ which is in a neighboring county. I thought some of you might find it useful.

THE WAY PEOPLE TALK

Most of us are aware that people are going to talk. Men are going to have their say about things. That doesn’t mean that what they say will always be right, but they are going to talk.

What is said by people is an indication of what is in the heart, for it is out of the “abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” So it behooves us to be sure that we say what we ought to say in spite of what people in general may say.

You will see the importance of this in the book of Nehemiah. In the fourth chapter, you will find that which “Judah said,” that which the “adversaries said,” and what Nehemiah “said.” So here are at least three cases of people talking. But a great deal is learned from this as we see the “way people talk.”

Remember that Nehemiah has returned from captivity and had undertaken the task of repairing the walls of the city of Jerusalem for such was “broken down” (Neh. 1:3). The job of restoration was underway as one group after another was given an assignment. As you read chapter three, you will see that one group would be working in one place, and the “next unto them” would be another. This is found time and again in this chapter. Look at verses 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 of chapter three, and you will note this.  In the midst of all this activity, one will find people talking. What sort of voices will you hear?

I. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DOUBT

Listen to those of Judah as they say, “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall” (Neh. 4:10).

This is equal to saying “we can’t.” That means they would reach a point where they will just stop and not try. They would not put forth the effort that it would take for them to move through the rubbish. They would see it as insurmountable.

How often have we heard these voices that would say, “it cannot be done,” but all we had to do was look around, and somebody was doing what some said could not be done. Yes, people will talk about those things that cannot be done, but they can be done.

II. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DEFIANCE

Notice, “And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease (Neh. 4:11).

Here are people who are avowed enemies of the project being undertaken. They are not about to stand aside and allow this work to go unhindered. They will oppose it with all their might. This is nothing new, for the Devil has always opposed that which God would have done. His methods may vary, but he will oppose good works one way or the other.

III. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DETERMINATION

After the voices of those of Judah and the adversaries had been heard, there was need that Nehemiah speak. Somebody ought to say something that would boost the work. Somebody ought to be able to see something good. This is where the leadership of Nehemiah comes to the fore. It is said, “And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your house’s (Neh. 4:14).

Nehemiah was not about to stand back and allow this good work to be destroyed. He is not about to allow those within and without to stop such an effort.

It would indeed have been a sad day for the cause if he had not risen to offer encouragement. Suppose he had taken to bashing the work they were doing. You would never find good men involved in any such talk as this.

Be it to the credit of Nehemiah, that in spite of what others would say, the work would go on and succeed. So will it ever be.

Periodicals and Bulletins, Winfred Clarke

#encouragement, #faith, #guest-article, #leadership, #nehemiah, #sermon-outline, #tongue

Those Who Outlived

     The Scriptures reads, “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:7, NKJV).

     Reflect upon this for a moment and consider a few points. First, the nation of Israel had a great leader in Joshua. He was a fortunate man who had a direct line of communication to the Lord; this was much different than that which any other had. With this fortunate avenue, however, came great responsibility. To him the Lord gave the responsibility of taking the nation into the promised land and executing the Lord’s will. To have failed the Lord would have been disastrous for him and the nation.

Second, Joshua was not a man who could carry this burden all on his own. Whatever strength of character he had, he was still just a man. He needed others to help him and on whom which he could lean. The leadership of Joshua and men who were devoted to the Lord’s way brought much success to Israel. No matter what their failing might have been in the respective lives, because they were devoted to the Lord they had success.

Third, the failings that did actually reside within the nation of Israel did eventually began to show its ugly head when Israel’s great leadership died (Judges 2:1-2).

Why did this happen? I would like to suggest the following possibilities. First, the teaching that was supposed to be done may not have been accomplished to the degree that it should have been. It is important to remember that what the children are taught stays with them the remainder of their days.

Second, it may have been that the leaders taught thoroughly and with much effort, but the children did not take the lessons learned to heart like they should have. That is always a possibility and one to not forget. Ultimately, whatever a person does, whether as a child or as an adult, it is the responsibility of the doer. I can well imagine some of the elders thinking and saying to their peers, “I am very comfortable with the next generation and the leadership they will be exerting. They have demonstrated themselves well as we have tried to lead and teach them.” This could be said with humility, but once the generation of the elders passed on, that which did not take root can (and did) manifest itself in an ugly way.

Third, the teaching may have taken root and things may have started off well enough, but something occurred that distracted the faithful from the path set for them by the Lord. The distractions could have been any number of things; it really matters not what they were. Anything that distracts actually knocks us off track. When one is knocked off track he is bound to do nothing but crash.

It is crucial that we, as parents and leaders in the congregation, instill within others the Lord’s way by the life we live and by the words we use to communicate. We must do this. Then, when they move up and take our place they will be in better position to move the Lord’s way forward and in accordance with His revealed will.

In Judges 2:7-10, we read of a very sad occasion resting with a the following generation; let that not happen with us. RT

#children, #judges, #leadership, #responibility

Why Roll The Dice When You Can Open The Book?

I listened to a sermon yesterday by a preacher for the churches of Christ that made me scratch my head at one point. I can’t say I know much at all about the congregation (although I have my ideas), but what I do know is that they listened to a sermon that I believe missed the point. The preacher was preaching from verses in Acts 1. A great place to study with great points mind you! But the confusion came in when the church, led by Peter’s understanding of the need to replace Judas’ apostleship (bishoprick), needed to choose between Barsabas and Matthias in Acts 1:15-26. The result was that the church ended up casting lots to help reveal God’s will in choosing between the two men.

So the question was/is/may be asked why doesn’t the church do such things today? Is it a reflection of a lack of faith, trust or willingness to allow God to choose if we do not do such things when it comes to leadership or other issues in life? The answer is a resounding, “No!”

For one, the situation in Acts 1 called for the replacement of Judas, and replacing Judas meant that only “one office” was available while two men were candidates. That’s a problem that needed a solution and a solution was found. When it comes to leadership today, the office an elder/pastor/bishop is not restricted to the necessity of one man being chosen…hence no need to roll the dice to choose only one. As a matter of fact the evidence found points in the opposite direction – a plurality of men need to be chosen, not a single individual.

For another reason, there is no need for dice because the qualifications for elders/pastors/bishops are given in the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). Once men have been found who desire to serve the church, the church needs to pray and spend time of great care before the men are given this position of great responsibility. Not one time did Paul tell Timothy or Titus to leave the choosing of these leaders up to the roll of the dice, but rather that the decision should be made carefully keeping in mind the qualifications and the works (ultimately the revealed heart) of the men (1 Timothy 5:22, 24-25).

When one reads the scriptures found in God’s word there are always lessons to be learned, but not always actions to be copied. To say that one must roll the dice to make a decision of a spiritual matter because the apostles did such does necessarily hold water. Did not Gideon (Judges 6:37-40) use fleece to make a decision? Yes, he did, but that doesn’t mean we need to do the same, does it? Different means were used in the past to make a multitude of spiritual decisions, but why try to use them when it comes to appointing leadership in the church after the clear qualifications and directions have already been given? The apostles were not playing games when they rolled the dice nor is the Spirit of God when He has revealed the will of God through God’s word for God’s church (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

When it comes to making major spiritual decisions the scriptures encourage prayer, careful consideration and the study of God’s word; but I see no evidence that the word of God encourages people today to cast lots when it to comes to choosing the leadership in the church. Why roll the dice when you can open the book? Let no one confuse you, a person shows a faith pleasing to God when they simply follow the word that He has given in the scriptures (Romans 10:17).

#acts-1, #apostles, #choices, #church-leadership, #faith, #leadership, #religion