Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Best Marriage Advice

By Don Loftis

After creating Eve especially for Adam, the Bible says, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24).
     Marriage certainly demands a sense of connectedness. Husbands and wives must be aware of each others needs and come to share each others dreams. Through common experiences and quality communication, partners reach common values.
     However, far too often, couples damage their marriage by “going it alone.” Personal goals can create competition rather than camaraderie. Too much involvement in individual interests (hobbies, travels, etc.) sabotages the intent of the unity candle.
     Noted writer and counselor, Willard Harley warns that shared activities are mandatory in developing a lasting relationship. He reminds us that we “fell in love” spending time together, and we will likely “fall out of love” if we fail to stay connected.
     Years ago on the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson interviewed an eight-year-old boy who was being honored for rescuing two friends from a coal mine in West Virginia. Johnny detected that the boy attended Sunday School, so he asked him what he was learning. The young fellow said that last week they had studied about Jesus turning water to wine at a wedding. Amidst the crowd’s laughter, Johnny asked him what he had learned from that story. Fidgeting for a moment, the boy raised his head and answered, “If you’re going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus!”
     In childlike honesty, millions of people heard the best marriage advice ever offered. How well have we followed it?

- via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

Family Bonds or Ball-n-chain

By Eugene Adkins

   Many homes in the church are suffering from a bad dose of worldly thinking when it comes to the family and the arrangements God has given. His design has been clear for thousands of years despite the political, cultural and even “religious” attempts of the past and present to cloud it. God takes the family and the roles He has designated seriously whether we decide to or not.
   Marriage comes before “shacking up” and “baby-making.” Playing house will never be the same as the real deal (John 4:16-18). The wrong attitude toward this is dangerous; calling it whatever we want will not change what it is; it will cost a person their soul! (Hebrews 13:4)
   Marriage is a relationship for men and women alone! One at a time! Designed to last a lifetime! Fornication is the one and only exception! (Matthew 19:1-9) God is more concerned with holiness than with happiness. A match made in heaven must first have heaven’s blessings.
   Husbands are meant to be the head of the family. That means the leader and decision maker for the family (in accordance with God’s will – 1 Corinthians 11:3). Responsibility is not an optional accessory.  A husband must love their wife more than self (Ephesians 5:25,28,29). That’s huge! Have a problem with that take it up with God; see where that gets you. Treat your wife like trash and your relationship with her and God may end up in the landfill! (1 Peter 3:7)
   Wives are expected to respect, support and help their husband (Ephesians 5:23,24,33). Want to be your own boss? Then stay single. Want to start a successful family? Then follow the successful plan. Feminine is beautiful – feminism is ugly and self-damaging. Nothing is stronger or more beautiful than a godly wife! (1st Peter 3:1-6)
   Parents raise your children according to God’s rules and children obey your parents! (Ephesians 6:1-4) Easy? Nope. Expected? Yup! Nuff said.
   The family was designed to hold us together not hold us down! Examine God’s word and His way. He has not changed His mind concerning His design. Have you? 

- Eugene Adkins is the assistant minister for the church of Christ at Keltonburg in Smithville, TN. Visit their website at http://web.blomand.net/~j1s/Index.htm

Ten Simple Steps To A Happier Life

By Glen Hitchcock
1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start counting your blessings. (Psalm 68:19) 2. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing wrong. Just make sure YOU keep doing what is right. (Philippians 4:8) 3. Perform one totally selfless act each and every day. And don’t tell anyone about it. (Galatians 6:10) 4. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) 5. Let others be right once in a while, and sometimes even let them be wrong without correcting them. (Ephesians 4:21-32) 6. Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Your body can’t function at the best of its ability (as God intends) if you won’t let it. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20) 7. Make a vow to be kind in all situations. There are only two choices: kind or un-kind. Why not choose kindness? (Ephesians 4:31. Romans 12:21) 8. Treat your loved ones like there is no tomorrow. There may not be. (James 4:14) 9. Listen more than you talk. (You’ll be surprised at what you learn.) (James 1:19) 10.Take pleasure in the small things of life. (A good book, a jigsaw puzzle, a cup of coffee, the sound of a child’s laughter, the glory of God’s creation all around us.) (Zechariah 4:10)
- via The Contender, the weekly bulletin published by the Walnut Grove Church of Christ in Benton, KY.  Kevin Williams preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the church's website: http://walnutgrovechurchofchrist.org/

Monday, May 20, 2013

Things That Smell Good

By Joe Chesser
    Last week my wife, Areva, cut some fresh flowers, some red roses and a white peony, and put them in a vase and set them beside our recliner.  It wasn’t long after that that I made it to the recliner, and it wasn’t long after that that I noticed a sweet fragrance coming from the flowers.  I assumed the fragrance was coming from the roses.  Expert that I am with fragrances, it smelled like roses to me.  But no! Upon closer whiffing it was the peony that smelled so sweet.  In fact, the roses had little or no fragrance at all!
    We all love things that smell good.  Right now, our backyard is filled with the pleasing fragrance of honeysuckle.  What comes to your mind when you think of things that have a very pleasing fragrance?  Bread baking, bacon frying, and fresh sheets on the bed that have been dried on the clothesline are some things I think of.  Also I like the smell of a new car and freshly cut grass and lilacs?  I love the smell of sautéed onions and cinnamon rolls and campfires? And I’m sure there are hundreds of things you could add to this list.  But I bet skunks, dead fish and rotten eggs wouldn’t make the list! 
    Things that smell good to us give us pleasure; things that don’t smell good repulse us.  We want to be around things that smell good; we want to be far away from those that stink (that includes people, doesn’t it?). And God is no different from us in that respect.  There are some things that smell good to Him and some that don’t.
                        But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession
                        in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the
                        knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among
                        those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one
                        we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.
                                                                                                            2 Corinthians 2:14-16
    In the Old Testament, God wanted the priests to burn incense, a pleasing aroma to God (Exodus 30:7-8). Since that law was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), we no longer burn incense as a fragrant offering to God.  However, that doesn’t mean that God no longer cares for sweet fragrant offerings.  It’s just that now the fragrance that gives God the greatest pleasure is not incense burning on an altar, but Christians: “we are to God the aroma of Christ.  As people living in and for Christ, we offer the fragrant spiritual aroma of love and holiness and grace which God loves.  Like taking a long, deep breath of the freshness in the air following a rain compares to how God thinks of Christians.
    Not everyone around us agrees.  There are some who think Christians smell like death.  They can’t stand to be around us. They avoid us at all costs.  They prefer the stench of the pigpen of corruption and sin.  That’s why we need to “spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (Christ).
    Peonies will always smell good and skunks will always stink, but you can choose the fragrance you offer to God.  My hope is that you will choose to smell good to God!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.cofcfruitland.com/

The Value of a Godly Mother

By Johnny Ramsey
    Someone has well stated that three of the grandest words in our vocabulary are heaven, home and mother. How deeply indebted we are to godly women. The tribute to virtuous mothers in Proverbs 31 informs us that their children will count such a person as a distinct blessing to their life upon the earth. One of the most famous lines in literature reminds us: “If I were hanged on the highest hill I know whose love would follow me still—Mother of mine, Mother of mine!”
     In many ways, we acknowledge that the most powerful person on earth is a godly mother. Yes, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “All that I have accomplished I owe to my angel mother.”
     The Bible, in many passages, pays homage to the tremendous contribution of women who truly seek God’s kingdom first. Some of the most tender and touching sections of scripture make reference to mothers like Hannah, Lois, and Eunice. Such godly women raised sons like Samuel and Timothy, who valiantly served Jehovah. Many of us today who preach the gospel of Christ do so because of parents who encouraged us to serve the Lord. The debt we owe to our beloved mothers just cannot be estimated.
     Women with meek and quiet spirits as we read about in 1 Peter and 1 Timothy, are rare in this day and time, but such will always be of incomparable value. Mothers who take time to be keepers at home, and who grow in their love and care of their children, are indeed the salt of the earth (Titus 2:3-5).
     Wise parents never forget that “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14;34) and “the house of the wicked shall be overthrown” (Proverbs 14:11), so they reflect on the following words:
I saw tomorrow look at me
From little children’s eyes
And thought how carefully
We would teach
If we were really wise.”
     The Psalmist was inspired to write monumental words: “Except the Lord build the house  they labor in vain who build it.”
     Godly mothers who take the time to truly make home a delightful place contribute mightily to the precious memories we sing about  at funerals of loved ones. But sadly, we find today that we are all so busy making money that we never take valuable moments to make lives more meaningful. Norman Trott powerfully wrote: “No time for God? That day when sickness comes or trouble finds you out  and you cry out for God, will He have time for you?”
     The hardest work in all the earth is being a godly mother. She goes down into the very pit of death to bring a child into the world. She labors incessantly in the first months of the infant’s sojourn just to keep the child alive. For the next 20 years, she will spend a great portion of her time feeding, clothing, educating and caring for her offspring. No one deserves more loving gratitude than spiritually-minded mothers!
     Allowing each letter in “godly” to represent a trait or quality of proper motherhood ought to tell us a lot about her value.
Gracious...In spite of our lack of expressed appreciation, our mothers are still gracious toward us.
Observant...A wise mother keeps a close watch over her offspring lest evil habits or companions hinder us.
Dedicated...Genuine commitment and loyalty to the challenge of rearing children is her trademark.
Lovely...Physical beauty has nothing to do with the loveliness of godly mothers who truly care!
Yearning...to her dying breath, she will still be pleading for all the children to live for Jesus.
     More women across America desperately need to take time to be holy. Fashion may be important, but spirituality is at the top of the list for women striving to please God and help their children go to heaven. Silver and gold shall not deliver us in the day of God’s wrath (Zephaniah 1:18), but  purity and love for truth will be valuable always. The mother of John the      Immerser was righteous, obedient and constant in the love of God (Luke 1:6). We need more women like that in our era also.
     A London magazine asked the question on its editorial page, “What Is Home?” Hundreds of letters poured in. The seven best ones were published. As I carefully read the seven gems the editor selected, it became evident  that the one person who made those classic rejoinders possible was Mother!
     What kind of a woman makes a godly parent?
Motivator...Yes, she “provokes us unto love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Opportunist...She sees her motherhood as an opportunity to mold her children to serve God (Proverbs 22:6).
Teacher...She never fails to instruct in the way of holiness (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Happy...She enjoys the challenge of guiding the home    (1 Timothy 5:14).
Example...She practices hospitality without grudging          (1 Peter 4:9).
Reliable...You can count on her to constantly seek first the kingdom (Matthew 6:33).
     Without contradiction, when you find a virtuous woman, she is far more valuable than precious jewels (Proverbs 31:10). One of the Bible’s tenderest scenes portrays the care of a man for His mother. On the cross, in deepest love, our Savior made provision for Mary’s care (John 19).
     Let us take time to be grateful for godly mothers who helped us along the way. We are just too busy if we fail to take time out to say, “God bless you, Mother, for all you have done for me.”
     Only eternity will properly reveal the marvelous contribution godly mothers made toward the population of heaven!      — via Christian Bible Teacher

- via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

And You Thought You Had One Career

    A woman named Emily, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office, was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.  She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.  "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job, or are you just a..?"
    "Of course I have a job," snapped Emily.  "I'm a mother."
    "We don't list 'mother' as an occupation; 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.
    I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation-this time at our own Town Hall.  The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."  "What is your occupation?" she probed.
    What made me say it, I do not know.  The words simply popped out.  "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."
    The clerk paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right.
    I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words.
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold black ink on the official questionnaire.
    "Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"
    Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field (normally I would have said indoors and out).  I 'm working for my Masters, (the whole family), and already have four credits (all daughters).  Of course the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it).  But the job is more challenging."  There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
    As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants-ages 13, 7, and 3.  Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model (a 6-month-old baby), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.
    I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another mother."
    Motherhood-what a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door.
    Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Rela-tions" and great grandmothers Executive Senior Research Associates"? I think so!!! I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants."
    Please send this to another Mother, Grandmother, and Aunt you know! They will be delighted with their "new" position in life!
     "The best way for a woman to have a few minutes to herself at the close of the day is to start doing the dishes."

 - via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Becoming Like Children

By Don Loftis

     As you look around Sunday, you will notice that we have some of the most precious children in all the world. Their smiles are contagious and their hugs will melt your heart. Jesus must have had a similar thought when he told his competitive disciples, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3-4).
     Jesus was highlighting childlike humility as essential to our obedience and our willingness to accept divine grace. Children also forgive the hurts of others more easily than their parents.
     Paul highlights the innocence of children writing in I Cor. 14:20, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature.”
     A mother was driving her young daughter to pre-school one day. When the convertible that was driving in front of them stopped at a light, the lady riding in the passenger seat stood up and waved. Noticing that the woman was completely naked, the mother was horrified. Her daughter, seeing all that was happening, said, “Mommy, look at that lady, she isn’t wearing a seat belt.” Oh for the innocence of a child.
     Let’s give thanks for all of our youngsters. They keep us young and inspire us about the future. They bring out the best in our efforts to set good examples. And maybe most importantly, they teach us what the Lord wants us to be like as the children of His kingdom.

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Need For Mothers

By W. Frank Walton

    We are commanded to “honor your…mother” (Eph 6:2). This imaginary classified ad for a mother illustrates the great work that good and godly mothers do day in and day out.
    IMMEDIATE OPENING: There is a need for a Christian woman who has a well-rounded personality to help nurture children, with the help of an adult male, and thereby shape the next generation. She must be loving, patient and understanding, especially with a Christ-like demeanor. She must demonstrate strength of character and perseverance under various stressful conditions. This work requires stamina, involving long hours around the clock. Applicant must have management skills to multi-task various demands without going crazy. She must posses practical nursing skills, dietary expertise, wisdom in counseling, a knowledge of etiquette, cooking and custodial ability. The ability to drive is a must in the transport of children, but no taxi license is required. She must have some basic knowledge of how to do homework. Most importantly, she must have the ability to instill godly virtues, by word and example, into the hearts of impressionable children. No written test is required. There is no salary, but the rewards are heavenly.
    Mothering is a great work of nurturing the next generation. “What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin” (H. W. Beecher). I remember a USA Today report several years ago about crack-drug houses in Chicago, where homeless people lived like a commune in abandoned buildings. Several police officers investigated the scene and a little 9 year old girl ran up and grabbed a female police officer and said, “Will you be my mommy??”
    How touching! There is, in each child, an inbuilt need for a mother’s love.
    For mothers, God’s wants older women to “admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed’ (Titus 2:4-5). Let’s be thankful and appreciative of the great work these good mothers do. These queens of the home make it a well-managed haven of love and virtue (1 Tim 2:14, 5:14).
    Proverbs 31 is God’s advertisement for a worthy mother: “A worthy woman, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…’Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates’” (Prov 31:10,28-31). Abraham Lincoln said, “No man is poor who had a godly mother.”
- via The Contender, the weekly bulletin published by the Walnut Grove Church of Christ in Benton, KY.  Kevin Williams preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the church's website: http://walnutgrovechurchofchrist.org/

A Mother’s Love

By R. W. McAlister

     Mrs. Zebedee, the mother of James & John, was aware of the teachings of Jesus about His kingdom. She was also very aware of the fact that her sons, James & John, were close to Him. She was certain that when the Lord formed His kingdom that they would have positions of responsibility & authority.
     So when the opportunity arose (Matt 20), she came to the Lord. Matthew says that she bowed before Him & made this request (Mt. 20:21), “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.”
     We might very well criticize Mrs. Zebedee for her presumptuousness, but I think there are some valuable lessons we can learn from her in these verses.
     We also need to recognize that when she came to Jesus, while Jesus did not grant her request, neither did He deny it. He simply reminded her of the cost of being seated on the right or left & then told her that it is the Father who determines who will be seated there.
     Now, what are some of the good things we can observe from Mrs. Zebedee?
     First, it was her heart’s desire that her sons might be part of the kingdom, and she came to the Lord with this concern. I can think of no more important task of motherhood than that - to do all you can to ensure that your children are a part of the Kingdom of God. That should be your prayer.
     I know that many mothers pray. Sometimes they pray out of necessity. Sometimes they pray because motherhood is not easy, but extremely difficult. God wants us to pray. The inspired Peter wrote in I Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Never make the mistake of thinking you can handle everything in life alone, especially if you’re a mother. Humble yourself and ask for God’s help, knowing that He cares for you.
     Secondly, not only did Mrs. Zebedee pray that her children would be a part of His kingdom, but she prayed that they would be actively involved in the work of His kingdom.
     It’s not enough just to “show up.” Churches are full of people content just to fill a pew on Sunday mornings, so where does the spirit of service begin? It begins at home, with mothers & fathers setting the example & praying that their sons & daughters might be involved in the work of the kingdom. That’s the way a child should go, mother, for Solomon wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Train your children to serve. If you have boys, encourage them to be Christians – yes – but also preachers, deacons, and elders. Train your daughters to teach Bible class and talk to others individually.
     Third, Mrs. Zebedee had great expectations. She didn’t just pray that her children would be doorkeepers. Granted, she didn’t understand how these positions would be attained, but she wanted her sons on the right hand & left hand of Jesus.
     When you’re working in a kingdom, there are no higher positions than those on the right & left of the King himself, & that’s what she wanted for her sons.
     We may consider Mrs. Zebedee brash & presumptuous, and that’s not wrong, but I admire her boldness. Too often we have settled for mediocrity in the church. For too long we’ve been content with just barely making it through the door. For too long we’ve been content to sit back & let things happen.
     It’s time to strive for excellence - to reach for the very best there is. The Lord calls us to be His disciples, & to be effective workers in His kingdom (Matt. 9:37-38). Mothers: have great expectations of your children in the Lord’s kingdom. Help them “be all they can be” in the Lord’s army!

- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/