Sunday, June 26, 2022

Love is...

By Ron Thomas

 

    Love is an action, less an emotion (though not necessarily unconnected). Love always seeks that which is best for the other person, even if the other person does not see it or want it. What is best for the other person can be drawn from two sources. This which originates in a person or that which originates in God. If the former, look and see where this has gotten us. We live in a society full of moral and emotional corruption. Those who criticize the latter fail to see what love truly is and refuse to see that the love of Gods is not the problem, only that people in their selfishness have corrupted God's love for their own ends.

    Love is frequently seen as an emotion that allows the other person to be who they are, and while this may be an aspect of love, it is not love. Would you allow a person to be who they are if they are destructive to self, or others? Neither is love is an emotion that seeks to satisfy self in earthly pleasures, though it is frequently used in that context. That is nothing but hedonism, selfishness.

    When you say, "I love you" - what is it you mean? Perhaps you may have difficulty giving clarity to this. With the Lord, there is no difficulty. What did He mean? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). 

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. www.sunrushchurchofchrist.org


Not Worth A Plugged Nickel

By Joe Slater

 

    In early America some coins were made with a small silver disc in the center to give them value. A plugged nickel was one with the silver disc removed and replaced with a less valuable metal – thus to this day an item of little or no value is “not worth a plugged nickel.”

    King David wrote long ago, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold” (Psalm 19:9b-10a). Another psalmist agreed: “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver” (119:72).

    Tragically, subsequent generations in Israel distorted God’s word with human traditions. At the time Jesus walked this earth, the religious elite viewed those traditions as equal to Scripture or even above it! They sharply criticized Jesus and His disciples for disregarding “the tradition of the elders” (i.e. the ancestors). But Jesus turned the tables on them! “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3). Those traditions weren’t worth a plugged nickel! Jesus laid it on the line, applying Isaiah 29:13 to them: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips. But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).

    Members of Christ’s body in the 21st century are not immune from the temptation to elevate human tradition as being equal to God’s word or even above it. Let us be ever vigilant to view Holy Scripture as of supreme value! “Have it your way” (the Burger King slogan) must never be our approach to spiritual matters. Compared to the precious word of God, nothing else is worth a plugged nickel!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com


It’s Not Wrong to Wonder Why, Just Don’t Forget Who

By Edd Sterchi


    “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to

You, ‘Violence!’ and You will not save...For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous...” Twenty-six hundred years ago the prophet Habakkuk opened his book with these words, but they could have very well been written this past week. Violence abounds and we wonder why.

    Actually the why is easily answered – it is because of sin. Sin has ruined the world and death, disease, and violence abound because of it. But there is another “why” that often enters our minds when violence rears its ugly head. Habakkuk wondered it too – why would God allow such violence to happen? It’s not wrong to wonder such things.

    In the end, Habakkuk realized that God will make things right at the proper time. He learned to continue to trust God and realized that his praise for God should also continue regardless of the circumstances (read Habakkuk 3). He knew that he could always draw strength from God – even in uncertain times. We can (and should) too.

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/


Who Made God?

By Gerald Cowan

 

    Where did God come from?

    This is a common question, usually from atheists and skeptics, but sometimes from children too. All of us, even children, seem to know intuitively that everything which happens or exists had to have a cause, something or someone, that produced it or made it happen. If that is true, then God must also need a cause. God is something, so God must have been produced by some cause outside himself. If we say God is an exception to the rule can there be other exceptions too? The conclusion the atheist or unbelieving skeptic seeks to arrive at is that there is no God, that the claim for the existence of God is illogical. Therefore the existence of God is impossible – He does not and cannot really exist. Here’s the logic: if what we call God had to have a beginning and a cause that produced Him, then there would have to be an endless regression of causes for the caused. Who caused the cause that caused God to exist, and who caused the cause that caused the cause that caused God to exist, etc ad infinitum. It would be illogical, an exercise in futile nonsense. Anything that needs a cause cannot be called God. So, if God needed a cause then God is not God, and if God is not God there is nothing that can be called God – therefore, there is no God. However, there is a simple but profound answer to this. We tell our children, “Nobody made God. God has always been. God has no beginning and no end – God is eternal; God is forever.”  That usually satisfies a child. But maturing thought and reason ask more. To be acceptable and satisfying our answer must be logical and complete. At least it must be immune to logical contradiction.

    It is important to insist on two major dicta. First: something cannot come from nothing, and there can be no exception. If nothing at all exists then nothing at all can come from it and nothing at all will ever exist. Nothing makes or produces itself. Second: for every existing thing there must have been a prior sufficient cause that produced it. In this case it is a logical philosophical necessity that there be one, but only one, exception to the rule. There must be one and only one uncaused cause, one who is eternal and absolutely perfect in every conceivable attribute who could then cause everything else to become and be. Only such a perfect being could be called God. How can we prove this? Remember, as we know and must admit, nothing has come or can come from nothing. If there were ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence, then nothing would have ever come into existence. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had always to have been in existence. That ever-existing thing is what we call God. God is the uncaused Being who caused everything else to come into existence. God is the uncreated Creator who created all existing things, the universe and everything in it. An existing God is a logical, philosophical, and ontological necessity.

    We have shown His existence to be a logical or philosophical necessity. But what do we mean by ontological necessity? This too is a matter of philosophy, but it is stated either directly or by necessary inference in the Bible. It applies more to the attributes of the existing God than to His necessary existence. Do not forget the essential point: nothing makes or creates itself; nothing brings itself into existence. The existence of any created thing ultimately requires an original uncreated creator. But what about the attributes of the Uncaused Cause?  What kind of being is it? Here is where ontology is the determining factor. Ontology is sometimes defined as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” But that is an awkward easily misconstrued statement that ends up being meaningless. Simply stated, it is an argument from perfection. For every manifestation or attribute it is necessary to assume that the perfect form of the attribute exists. Notice how this applies to what can be called the essential attributes of God.  With regard to essential being, God is eternal, as we have already noted. Scripture makes the claim often. His very name JEHOVAH means the everlasting One who was and is and will be, the Eternal. A necessary corollary to eternality is immutability. Material things are subject to change and decay, but the eternal One is unchanging, not subject to change. “Behold, I am the Lord (God); I change not” (Mal. 3:6). He is non-material Spirit – unchanging and non-material, the perfect form of being. (John 4:24). He is perfect in knowledge – omniscient, all-knowing. There is nothing past, present, or future that is hidden from Him, nothing that He does not know – including what you think and intend at any time (Heb. 4:12-13). He is perfect in power, omnipotent, almighty, all powerful (Rev. 19:6). He is not limited in presence. He is everywhere all the time, omnipresent and therefore able to know all things at all times (Psalm 139:7-12). The sum of all this is that God is perfect in all aspects of His being. So there you have it: God is perfect, the eternal, unchanging, all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere-present Spirit. We can also apply the principle of ontology to the relative attributes of God, such as love, truth, law and the many sub-sets in each of them. Nobody can find a flaw or imperfection in anything about God. His love is perfect, and it is impossible for Him to lie, impossible for Him to do or want to do anything that is wrong. The God who necessarily exists is necessarily perfect, in His essential being and in all His attributes.

    One last thing: perfection requires oneness, a unit and not a union or a multiplicity. So there is ONE GOD, one and only one, now, forever, and eternally (Ex. 20:1-2, Deut. 6:4, 1 Cor. 8:4-6). Fractions are by nature incomplete, imperfect. A composite whole is imperfect too, unless the parts are integral, having no separate identity or existence apart from the whole. So there are not many Gods, and the One True God is not a composite of several separate Gods. Of course, that brings up the doctrine of “Trinity” – the concept of “one God in three persons” but still only one God?  Is that a Union of three – a multiple God – or somehow a true singularity?  The question requires much more space and will be treated separately at another time.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com


I’d Like to Think They Knew

By Adam Faughn

 

    A few weeks ago, our family was looking for a quick devotional idea. It had been a busy evening, but we wanted to have a family devo. So, we had this idea: we simply asked the kids if there were any songs they could think of that we sing in worship that they did not understand.

    After thinking for a few moments, our son mentioned the song "Let the Lower Lights be Burning." I think the way he worded his question was, "what's that all about?" We rehearsed the lyrics and then talked about how it shares the responsibility we all have of bringing people to the safe "harbor" of Jesus.

    Last Sunday night, we sang that song in worship. As soon as it showed up on the PowerPoint screen, I had to look over toward our kids to see if it "clicked" that we had just talked about this song a few days earlier. Well, they are teenagers, so they did not look back our way, but I would like to think that it was in their mind. Far more than that, however, I would like to think that now, when they sing that song, they understand the beautiful imagery of it and the responsibility it reminds us that we each have in our service of Jesus.

    All this had me thinking: do we think about what we sing? Do we even understand some of the lyrics that we sing?

    Now, to be fair, some songs are more difficult than others lyrically. Some are older and use words (or word pictures) that may seem a bit outdated to us, especially to younger people. Others may have to "force" words a bit to make the lyrics fit within the parameters of a poem. Additionally, since we are dealing with poetry, there are some lyrics that are so image-driven that the message can almost get lost if we are not truly thinking about what we are singing.

    It just causes me to wonder: is our mind truly engaged when we sing, or do we just go through the words with little-to-no thought? A number of years ago, I had a man who was probably in his early 50s and had been "in the church" since he was a boy come up to me and ask me about the song, "Bringing in the Sheaves." He admitted that he had sung that song his whole life and had no idea what "sheaves" were, so he did not really know what he had been singing for all those decades!

    I am not suggesting that we have to "get" every lyric the first time we read it. What I am suggesting is that we need to think about what we sing. Are there lyrics you have sung for years and years but do not really know what they mean? Are there some words that are a bit archaic, and you are not totally sure of how they fit with the message of the song? If so, don't you think it is time to take a few moments to consider words that you are offering to God in worship?

    From "Night with ebon pinion brooded o'er the vale" to singing about the "panoply of God," there are some lyrics that may be confusing to us. It would be a wonderful way to spend a few moments to truly think through the lyrics of those songs, focus on the meaning of them, and let them help build your faith once you have a greater understanding of them.

    It simply does not make sense to worship God with words that we do not understand. After all, worship is meant to combine our heart and our mind, so we need to do our best to understand what we are offering to Him (see 1 Corinthians 14:15). Will you take the time to study and consider what you are offering to Him through the words that come from your lips? (Hebrews 13:15)
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.


Monday, June 20, 2022

The Most Important Book

By David Sargent

     Toward the end of 2008 what was billed as the world’s most expensive new book went on display at the New York Public Library. There are more expensive old books, but this is a new book produced by the Italian publisher Marilena Ferrari. It’s cost: over $100,000!
     The book depicts the life and work of Michelangelo, including photographs of his drawings and sculptures, creations from the Sistine Chapel, and his personal poetry.
It weighs 62 lbs, has a front cover of white marble, and is covered with red silk velvet. Its paper is from one of Italy’s oldest paper mills – the mill where Picasso bought his art paper.
     Each book takes six months to make and comes with a 500-year warranty!  As of December 2008, more than 20 of the books had been sold to buyers around the world.
     These books are valuable because of the craft, quality of materials, and time that goes into their production.  After all, the books don’t contain Michelangelo’s actual art, just photos of it! *
     But there is ANOTHER book that is much more valuable…
     The most important book ever printed – and the most valuable book – is the BIBLE, God’s Word.  What makes the Bible so valuable is the content of its message: the very words of God.  It is a priceless treasure!
     Christians at Thessalonica understood the value of this Book.  Paul commended them, saying: “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” – 1 Thess 2:13
     Consider the words of an unknown author as he gave tribute to the Word of God:
     This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.
     Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions immutable.
     READ it to be wise, BELIEVE it to be safe, and PRACTICE it to be holy!
     The Word of God reveals the state of man: we are sinners, and unless our situation is remedied, we are doomed to destruction (Rom 3:23; 6:23; Matt 7:13-14).
     The Word of God reveals the Way of salvation: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Jesus is the Way of salvation (John 14:6), for He paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross on our behalf (Eph 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
     To access the Way of Salvation... the Word of God teaches us that we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance  (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  Then, as we walk in the light as He is in the light, then the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
     God’s Word is THE most important Book!  Read it to be wise, believe and obey it to be saved, and practice it to be holy.
     Won’t YOU?
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* Reference: www.dailymail.co.uk 11-26-08 as cited www.illustrationsforsermons.com


What Do You Think?

By Ron Thomas

 

    When you think of the church of Christ, what comes to mind? A building? Perhaps the people, maybe some bad experiences that you would like to forget. Maybe all of these.  What does the Lord think when He thinks of the church of Christ?

    You may know the various passages within the New Testament to give a quick answer, and I suspect your use of those passages would be handled plenty fine. Yet, there might be more to say on the matter than you might realize. The Lord’s apostle wrote, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).

    Notice three terms. Since the church of our Lord consists of people, the first term to notice is living stones. Do stones live? No, they don’t. What does the Lord mean then? It’s a figurative term at two levels. First, stones are not living, so it’s figurative.

    Second, people are not rocks, so that, too, is figurative. Stones and rocks convey something solid, and even though there is no life in them, with the Lord, those that are part of His household have life and they have it more abundantly. In a community where people are dead in sin, the head of the corner (Cornerstone) will have those who are part of the church of Christ on solid ground very much alive.

    A second term we want to consider is spiritual house offering up spiritual sacrifices. How can this be? Are we not physical people walking into a material building, singing with the heart the Lord gave at creation? We are but we are more than that which is called material, we have been created in such a way that there are three parts to us. Paul said we are body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Note that only one of the three is physical, material, the other two non-material, non-physical.

    Some find it hard to distinguish between soul and spirit, but I suggest the separation fits well along this line: soul would be the life given to us from God; spirit would be the same, but it will go back to the Lord to be judged; the material is that which decays.

    While we may have difficulty making a distinction between soul and spirit, we have no difficulty in understanding the nature of worship between the material and spiritual.

    The third term we will think on is a holy priesthood. The priest in the Old Testament was a go-between, a mediator between the one who worships and the Almighty. That go-between is eliminated; you now have direct access to the Lord. Don’t fail to notice the word holy. This word means you have separated yourself from the ways of the world and choose to serve Him who called you. Because of your decision, the Lord set you apart for His service.

    What does the Lord think when He thinks of the church of Christ? It’s the church that belongs to Christ, made up of those saved from their sins, called to be living stones, built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).

  The life you live, is that a life acceptable to God? 

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. www.sunrushchurchofchrist.org


“You Give Them Something to Eat”

By Joe Chesser

 

    Our vision is so limited at times that when Jesus challenges us to think outside of the box, what most of us see are only the difficulties and impossibilities. But Jesus wants us to do better than that. He wants us to see things as he sees them. He wants us to walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5.7). He wants us to open our eyes to see the fields that are white for harvest (John 4.35). He wants our minds to be transformed so that we can discern what God’s will is in contrast to how the world thinks (Romans 12.2).

    There was a time when Jesus was teaching 1000s of people in a deserted place. As evening came, the disciples went to Jesus because they could see a problem. They knew the crowd was hungry, so they proposed sending them into the nearby villages to buy their dinner (Matthew 14.15). Instead, Jesus challenged them, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14.16). Thinking like the world instead of like Jesus, the apostles thought, “That’s not going to happen. That’s impossible.” Philip thought it would take more than 200 day’s wages to buy enough bread for the crowd just to have a little (Mark 6.37; John 6.7). Andrew found a boy with 5 loaves and two fish, but as he said, “but what are they for so many?” (John 6.9). From their logic, there was no conceivable way to give them food to eat.

    But Jesus wanted them to look beyond the impossibilities of their own abilities and their own limited resources to see what they could do with the help of Jesus. John tells us that when Jesus told them to give the people something to eat, it was a test, for he knew what he would do (John 6.6). In the end, the disciples did give the people something to eat as they distributed what Jesus had supplied (Mark 6.41).

    Jesus is challenging us to think outside the box to see things as God sees them. He’s calling us as His church to have our minds transformed away from conformity to the world. He’s telling us to lift up our eyes to see the plentiful harvest, to take the gospel to all nations (Matthew 28.19-20). He wants us to financially support those who are preaching the good news all over the world (Romans 10.14-15). He teaches us to take care of widows and orphans (James 1.27) and contribute to the needs of the saints and show hospitality (Romans 12.13). He even expects us to learn to love our enemies, and forgive them (Matthew 5.44; Luke 23.34). Hopefully we’ll learn from the mistakes of the disciples and realize that it’s not with our own skills and resources alone that God expects us to do these things. Hopefully we’ll never again see God’s challenges as too expensive or too difficult. Hopefully we’ll learn to live by the principle that the angel Gabriel told Mary when announcing Jesus’ birth, “nothing is impossible with God!” (Like 1.37).

    Jesus knows we need his help in doing the Father’s will. So, when he tests us with seemingly impossible challenges, let’s reply in our hearts and actions with faith, assurance and confidence in his power and will to supply “seed to the sower and bread for food” and to increase the harvest of our righteousness (2 Corinthians 9.10).

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


The Savior Settles the Issue!

By Edd Sterchi

 

    When did mankind appear upon the earth? Many people disagree. Some think evolution allowed man to ascend from a lower life form. Others think that God created man instantly out of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life (based upon Gen. 1-2). Many Christians even disagree on this issue, despite what the Bible says. Some even blend the two ideas – that God created man via the evolutionary process. Still others say that Gen. 1-2 are poetical accounts of what ancient man believed, but are not fact concerning the origin of man. Sometimes the debate gets quite heated. How can we find the truth?

    What if Jesus could answer the question for us? Would we accept that? Well, He did. When He was questioned about divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19, Jesus then gave an answer that included the origin of the home and the origin of man. In part, He said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’” (Matthew 19:4).

    Note that Jesus said that God “made” that initial pair. The word Jesus used for “made” in that passage is the word “poieo” and means “to produce, to fashion, to create.” In fact, the English Standard Version has translated that word as “created.” Additionally, the Greek tense (the aorist) indicates that this was an individual specific act. If Jesus wanted to give the impression that God made mankind through a slow, developmental process, He would have used the imperfect tense, which suggests a progressive ongoing action as viewed in the past. But He didn’t, because He knew that they were made all at once.

    Note also that Jesus said that God made them “male and female.” Jesus did not subscribe to the notion that life was originally an asexual or bisexual blob of some sort that ultimately evolved into male and female. He said that they were intentionally created male and female and remained that way all along.

    Finally, note that Jesus said that God made them male and female “at the beginning.” Mark’s parallel passage in Mark 10:6 says that this was at “the beginning of the creation.” Jesus puts mankind at the creation of the world, not millions of years afterwards (cf. Exodus 20:11).

    Without a doubt, Jesus confirmed the idea of divine, intentional, instant creation of mankind as their origin – and He ought to know, for He was there (Genesis 1:26-27; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16).

    I know this: If I believe exactly what My Lord knew and spoke about the origin of man, I will not be wrong. Hallelujah, the Savior settles the issue!

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/


Some Don’t Need a Holiday

By Adam Faughn

    Recently, we had the first "Friday the 13th" of 2022. May was the first month of this year that had that date on the calendar, which also made it a day that some celebrated. In fact, there is a decent chance some of us celebrated, even if we did not know it.
    While this holiday may not be on the calendar on your wall or computer screen, the 
first "Friday the 13th" of each year is celebrated by some as "National Blame Someone Else Day." (And, no, I'm not kidding. It's a real thing!) If you are looking for the next chance to celebrate, by the way, the first "Friday the 13th" of 2023 comes early. It is in January.
    In learning about this holiday, I found a couple of remarks about it to be very interesting. While I hope they were said (or typed) with tongue firmly in cheek, they may reveal a great deal about how many people live their lives. Maybe the most telling was a website called daysoftheyear.com, which called this holiday "the compulsive liar's dream day."
    While the idea of such a day on our calendar, even in jest, may be a bit humorous, it also sheds light on how blaming other people is commonplace and has been from near the very beginning. In Scripture, we read of several who decided to blame others for their sins.

  • Even in the Garden of Eden, Eve blamed the serpent for her decision to take and eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:13).
  • But she learned to shift the blame from her husband, Adam, who had blamed Eve and, by extension, God Himself for his sin (Genesis 3:12).
  • King Saul blamed the people for taking spoils from a battle when they had been commanded to destroy everything (1 Samuel 15:21).
    But these are not outliers. I believe, if we are honest, we would each have to admit that we have tried to shift the blame for our own sins and mistakes to other people instead of simply taking responsibility for what we have chosen to do.
    That is what we must constantly keep in mind: we choose right or wrong. It is true that there are influences that tempt us to do things that are wrong. It is also true that we live in a dark culture, so the "pull" to evil is strong.
    The fact is, however, we still choose to do what is right or what is wrong. God has not created us to be victims of our circumstances. He has not made us helpless, even in the face of strong temptations. He has given each of us the ability to choose, and He has given us His inspired Word, which tells us the way of righteousness and wisdom.
    Further, it tells us something that we are so quick to blame other people when we choose sin. It may speak to how we inherently know that we have to answer for our decisions and that we have to answer to Someone Who is greater than we are. If that were not the case, why would we be so quick to want to absolve ourselves of a wrong choice? Yes, it is in part to attempt to "get out of it" quickly. But it seems there is something deeper, and that is that we know we must answer for what we have chosen.
    As God's people, though, we should take ownership of our sinful decisions. That is true because it is the right thing to do. But it is also true because, only when we do, can we seek God's forgiveness immediately. That, above all else, should be what we want. Our desire should not be just to get out of a situation but to be saved from it by God Himself.
    While "Blame Someone Else Day" only comes once each year, far too many of us are tempted to celebrate it every day (and even multiple times each day). Yes, we may be tempted in that direction, but may we remember that each day is an opportunity to do something far better: to live righteously and to be grateful for the forgiving grace of God when we fail to do so.
    Instead of blaming someone else, may we accept His forgiveness and then strive to do better each day. That would seem to be a way to make much better use of our time (cf. Ephesians 5:16)."For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Corinthians 5:10)

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Lord, Give Me Patience!

By Bill Brandstatter

 

    A preacher I once knew had a sign on his desk that read “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now.” That is the way we often are with patience. I heard, growing up, the statement, “Don’t ever pray for patience.” Yet, the Bible teaches learning patience can be beneficial to us. It is the learning of it that often gives us problems.

    I have often considered myself to be a very patient person, yet during the last three months, I have had to learn it even more. People have told me to have more patience. James wrote: “Knowing the testing of your faith produces patience; but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKIV) According to James, learning patience can make us more complete as a Christian. He also states we should pray for wisdom in chapter 1:5. My understanding is that he is referring to wisdom to deal with trials and to learn patience.

    The Bible gives us examples of patience. God is the ultimate example. Peter tells us, “When once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water.” (1 Pet. 3:20)

    Peter also tells us more about God’s patience. His patience is for our benefit. In 2 Pet. 3:9, he writes: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

    James tells us the prophets are examples of patience: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience” (James 5:10 NKJV). When we think about how long many of the prophets preached and what all they went through we can learn from their examples.

    Job was a perfect example of patience. He lost everything and still did not charge God foolishly. (Job 1:22) At the end of the book of Job, he was rewarded for his faithfulness and his patience. The Bible says, “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed, the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)

    Let us learn to be patient. It doesn’t come naturally. God may be putting us through a trial in our lives to help us learn patience. If so, it will make us better people to deal with the affairs of this life. It will help us in teaching others. It will better prepare us for heaven, our ultimate goal.

Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Job’s Reaction to a Really Bad Day

By Jim Faughn

 

    What is your first reaction when things go badly for you? What would you do if you lost just about everything except your life? What if all of that happened almost “all at once?”

    As I try to internalize those questions, I’m not always completely satisfied with my answers. I’m afraid that, at the very least, I would have a “pity party.” I’m afraid that the question, “Why me?” would come to my mind (and might even be expressed). I would hope that I would not blame God, but I know many who have done just that.

    Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the book of Job. As we open the book, we are introduced to a man in the very first verse as one who was “…blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

    That description of Job did not mean that he was somehow inoculated or isolated from unpleasant experiences. In fact, “unpleasant” does not come close to what Job experienced during the course of a single day. Before we read the end of chapter one, we are reading about Job losing his material possessions and his children. I am not at all trying to minimize what may have happened in your life or in mine, but I seriously doubt that most of us have had a day quite that bad.

    What I am intrigued by and, at the same time, challenged by is Job’s reaction to all of this. The concluding verses of chapter one informs us of that reaction:

    Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22)

    There is a lot to “unpack” in those three verses. I’m quite sure that there is much more than what you will read here. Let me just mention a few things in terms of contrasts between what might be “normal” reactions and the reactions of Job.

• Instead of standing and shaking his fist at God, Job fell on the ground.

• Instead of turning his back on God, Job worshiped God.

• Instead of thinking that he was in charge of his own fortunes and blessings, Job recognized that God was actually in control of all of this.

• Instead of blaspheming God, Job did not sin.

• Instead of thinking that God was unfair, Job did not “charge God with wrong.”

    I don’t know about you, but I know I can learn a lot from “a man in the land of Uz.”
- Jim Faughn, a retired preacher, serves as an elder for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  From the Legacy of Faith blog He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org


Bridling the Tongue

By David R. Ferguson

 

    James 1:26 [NAS] says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” This isn’t just referring to what we say, it also refers to what we choose to post and share on social media. Pay attention to what you are saying. Your speech is one of the most important parts of your witness.

    No matter where you are, at home, at work, at play, at church, or in any organization or group you decide to join, your tongue reveals what’s in your heart. In fact, an argument can be made that what one posts and shares on social media is even more egregious than what we say.

    James also writes, “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our body’s parts as that which defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by Hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one among mankind can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:5-8 [NAS] Since the tongue is untamed, sometimes we say things we immediately regret saying. So, it’s worse to post vile and despicable things than it is to speak them because posting involves forethought. When we do so, we are making a conscience choice to say something that is intended to hurt others. It isn’t simply reactionary as can happen with the tongue.

    The reason we react the way we do, however, is because of the condition of our heart. Remember, our Lord and Savior said, “For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.” He then added, “But I tell you that for every careless word that people speak, they will give an account of it on the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37 [NAS]) For Christians, we need to make doubly sure that we bridle our tongue and think twice before posting and sharing on social media. We must do all in our power to live our life for Jesus Christ, never forgetting that we “were once darkness, but now [we] are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8 [NAS]).

    May God bless you as you serve Him!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com


The Bargain of a Lifetime

By Adam Faughn

 

    In 2018, a woman in Texas was shopping at a local Goodwill store and made a purchase. It was a statue that she knew was fairly old, but she was not sure exactly what she had until after some research. For $34.99, she made the purchase and immediately started taking pictures in the car to try to start the research.

    Now, four years later, that same statue is headed to a museum in Germany after being on display in a museum in San Antonio. Why? Because the bust was brought to the United States from Germany by a soldier following World War II. The statue goes back much further than that, however. It has been verified to be a 2000-year-old bust of a Roman commander. It is, quite simply, a priceless piece of history.

    To summarize, for basically $40 plus some sales tax, this woman had purchased something that would be nearly impossible to put a value on, as far as dollars and cents go.

    However, I would almost guarantee that you already own something that is of even higher value than what that woman found. In fact, I would guess that some of you have it where you can see it even as you read this article. And the item also goes back in time to around the same time as that statue found in Texas.

    Oh, the value as far as dollars and cents may not be the same as that statue. In fact, you can get what I am talking about for free online or just for a few dollars at many stores.

    It is, of course, a Bible. Completed about 2000 years ago, the message contained in that book is of more value than all the statues on earth combined because it is of eternal worth. It contains the very mind of God revealed to us. It contains everything that we need "for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). It is the message by which we will be judged (John 12:48; Revelation 20:12). It contains hope, patience, and comfort (Romans 15:4). It is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16) and guides us to being "equipped for every good work" (v.17). It is "a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path" (Psalm 119:105).

    But here is what each of us has to ask ourselves: how will we treat this priceless treasure? For some, it is like that statue was to many people. It is something of interest, but not of any more interest than other things that might be in a store. It is nice to have, but they can take it or leave it.

    For those who truly understand what a treasure it is, though, the Bible is invaluable. It is studied and read. It is thought about constantly. It is seen for what it is: the Book that draws us closer to our heavenly Father. Do I see it as the treasure that is it?

Holy Bible, Book divine;

Precious treasure, thou art mine.

Lamp to my feet and a light to my way

to guide me safely home.

(William B. Bradbury, 1858)

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.


Which Way Is West?

By Joe Chesser

 

    About 10 years ago Areva and Brandon were looking at some dark clouds and talking about whether or not it would rain before they finished working in the garden.  Brandon commented that the rain always comes from the west, to which Grandma asked, “And which way is west?”  “Well,” he said, “in the winter west is that way, but in the summer it is that way.”

    I think if Brandon had used a compass his answer would have been different.  With a magnetic compass he’d quickly discover that west is always 90 degrees left of due north. North is always north.  It doesn’t change … ever.  Even in Missouri in the winter when the sun comes up in the southeast instead of east, north is still the same direction.  We know that. But I can see how a youngster who knows that the sun is supposed to come up in the east and goes down in the west could get confused.  As the earth tilts and rotates around the sun, its relation to the sun will vary.  If you use the sun as the standard, west will be in one direction in the winter and another in the summer. But if you use a properly calibrated gyrocompass that reacts to the rotation of the earth instead of the variable positioning of the sun, you’ll find that west is always in the same direction no matter what time of year it may be or where you are on the earth.  A compass is a trustworthy navigational instrument for determining direction.

    The Bible is like a compass, but in a much more important way.  A compass will help you determine which way is west, but it won’t help you find out which way is heaven.  Only the Bible can do that because only the Bible will always point to Jesus.  Just as on a compass north is always north, in the Bible Jesus is always “the way, the truth and the life.” No one can get to the Father (heaven) except by him (John 14:6; Hebrews 13:8). Nothing in all of creation can alter that.

    Unfortunately, most people are trusting in something other than the Bible for their spiritual compass (Matthew 7:13-14).  And as a result, one person thinks he can get to heaven one way and another person thinks he can get there a different way.  Of course, to reach those conclusions they have to use a standard different from each other, and at least one of them must use a standard different from than Bible.  Their standards may be parents, culture, false teachers, personal preferences, misunderstandings, etc.  But one thing is for certain: the Bible teaches that there is only one God, one Lord, one Spirit, one faith, one hope, one baptism and one body (the church – Ephesians 4:4-6, 1:22-23).  God is not the source of religious confusion and misdirection (1 Corinthians 14:33). God doesn’t point one way for one person and another way for a different person. God wants no divisions among us (1 Corinthians 1:10).  Jesus prayed just before He went to the cross that all of His disciples down through the ages would be united as a witness of His Sonship (John 17:23).

    Like west is always west, Jesus and the Bible are always the way to heaven.

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Sunday, June 5, 2022

What You Treasure Is A Serious Matter

By Joe Chesser

 

    Jesus was never flippant when he spoke about what we treasure. Never! What we choose to treasure was (and is) always a matter of utmost importance. For example, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered it up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13.44). Is Jesus saying that if we consider the kingdom of heaven our treasure, then we will with joy give up everything we have to in order to possess it? If so, I must ask myself if God’s kingdom is worth that much to me? Or do I treasure some other things that I am unwilling to give up? Things such as my time, my money, or other things I enjoy doing?

    How you answer these questions is a serious matter. It’s a matter of eternal significance. It’s a matter that determines whether you follow Jesus ... or not! In Matthew 19 there is a story of a young man who asked Jesus about eternal life. He was a good man, a religious man. He knew and had kept the commandments since his youth. But Jesus knew this young man’s heart. Jesus told him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor, and then follow him. If he would do that he would have treasure in heaven. It was decision time. Did he treasure his extreme worldly wealth or did he treasure the kingdom of heaven? Although it made him sorrowful, he still chose to keep his worldly wealth and leave Jesus behind. He had kept all the laws, but in his heart he treasured his money more than the treasure Jesus promised.

    It's not just what we do that matters. It’s what’s in our hearts, for our hearts determine what we treasure. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6.21). He also said, “The good person out of his good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6.45).

    These things are not new to you. You’ve read them and heard them over and over. But being familiar with them doesn’t make them less important. What you treasure is a serious matter. It is of utmost importance. We should never tire of examining and re-examining our hearts (2 Corinthians 13.5), because today we are being challenged more than ever to abandon what we once treasured to satisfy things of less importance. And we can’t blame COVID. It’s a matter of the heart. I am not attempting to judge anyone’s heart, but from what I’ve read in brotherhood publications and personally seen, the kingdom of heaven does seem to be less treasured among us than just a few years ago. Attendance is down, especially for the evening assemblies; congregations are closing their doors at an alarming rate; feelings seem to be replacing truth; evangelism is directed more and more towards what attracts people (services and programs) rather than lifting up the crucified Christ and teaching the gospel.

    However, only you and the Lord knows what’s in your heart. Only you and the Lord knows if you are willing to sell everything you have (Luke 14.33) in order to have treasure in heaven. Only you and the Lord knows to what extent you treasure His kingdom. My hope is that we all will seriously examine our own hearts to see if we truly treasure the kingdom of heaven enough to give it our all. My hope is that collectively the Lord’s people will “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6.33) and let everything else fall into place.

     “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered it up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13.44).

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary

By Joe Slater

 

    The song is right – burdens really are lifted at Calvary! Our Savior Himself invited, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus didn’t shed His blood and die on the cross so you could carry your sin around like a ball and chain for the rest of your life. He offers rest!

    Jesus made a point of saying “heavy laden.” He

extends His grace to those who have committed “big” sins as well as transgressors in less extreme ways. Even as life was draining from Him, Jesus lifted the burden of a violent criminal who, only a short time before, had mocked Him. Jesus told him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

    Sometime later Jesus lifted the burden of Saul of Tarsus, a man who absolutely hated Him and was doing everything in his power to destroy the church. Innumerable disciples of Jesus had suffered arrest, torture, imprisonment, and even death at this man’s behest. So awful were his crimes that he later referred to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Yet Jesus lifted even Saul’s enormous burden of sin! “For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16). If I may paraphrase, “If Jesus can save me (and He did) then He can save anyone!”

    Even before the cross, God’s people found relief from sin because Christ’s blood reached back to them just as it reaches forward to us. David’s burden made him feel lifeless and crushed until “I acknowledged my sin to You . . . and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:3-5).

    So often we react to our sin with self-loathing and beating ourselves up. While such responses are understandable, they can never “fix” the problem! Only Jesus can do that.

    Burdens are lifted at Calvary!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com

The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, That's the Book for Me!

By Edd Sterchi

 

    The Bible is the most amazing document known to mankind. Consider that it is a compilation of 66 different books written by 40 different individuals over the course of 1,600 years, and yet it is perfect in harmony, history, accuracy, and advice.

    Notice what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 has to say about the Bible: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God(1), and is profitable for doctrine(2)...for instruction in righteousness (3), that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work(4).”

1. The Bible is from God. It is not a document containing man’s opinion – it is God’s Holy Word. Like the Psalmist said, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalms 12:6). Being from God, let us be reminded that the Bible is pure and perfect and all we need.

2. The Bible contains religious doctrine. How the church is to go about conducting proper worship and work is found within its sacred pages. Paul wrote God-inspired words to Timothy so that he and others would know “how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church” (1 Timothy 3:15). Since the church is from God, it makes sense to follow only the guidelines He established for it, which is only in the Bible – it is all we need.

3. Everything pertaining to salvation matters and godly living is clearly revealed to us in the Bible. Men may devise many plans of salvation, but the Word of God reveals only one. The first century Christians obeyed the “word of truth, the gospel of...salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). The word of God was all they needed, and it is all we need today, as well.

4. Men can be made complete and productive through following Biblical precepts. In the Holy Writ we find our highest calling. In Ephesians, we Christians are reminded that we were “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (2:10) and that we are blessed with “every spiritual blessing” (1:3). The Bible guides us toward every good thing to be and do – it is all we need.

    Wouldn’t it be great if everyone would shed their denominational dogmas, man-made creeds, and diverse opinions and doctrines, and simply follow the Bible only? Truly we would then be doing what God desires. The Bible – it’s truly all we need.

    The song we learned long ago still rings true today:

The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that's the Book for me!

I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/


Don’t Downplay the Cross

By Adam Faughn

 

    When taken seriously, one of Jesus's most demanding commands is found in Luke 9, where He told what it takes to "truly" be a follower of His:

If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

Each portion of that command is challenging, but focus for a few moments on the command to "take up cross daily." It can be easy to downplay the depth of that command and how challenging it really is. There are several ways we can do that, and they all come from a failure to truly remember what a cross was used for and how horrific it was.

    At times, we can downplay the command by making the cross commonplace. That is, we just do not see it as anything more than a symbol. Maybe we do this by making it into jewelry or other similar things, which is not necessarily wrong, but the cross can just become a "thing" in our minds if we do not really think about it.

    At other times, we downplay the command by talking about regular issues of life and comparing them to the cross. We might go through a surgery or an illness and speak of it as being our "cross to bear." Again, I am not saying this is sinful in and of itself, but that type of language can cause the cross to be something that is more common. It is something that is painful but normal.

    What we must always keep in the forefront of our minds is that the cross was a method of execution, and it was meant to be torturous. To state the matter bluntly: people died on crosses.

    So, when Jesus said that we must "take up cross," He was stating that we must die! Obviously, the Lord was not saying that we must physically die in order to follow Him (although following Him might lead to death for some people). He was, rather, saying that our former person must be gone, as good as dead. And take note of the fact that Jesus said this was to happen "daily."

    Each day, we must die to selfishness. We must die to sin. We must die to the way of the world. So, the cross takes on a whole new meaning in our life because we see it for what it is, and it is not pretty or easy.

    Paul gives us the mindset we should have about the cross and what it should mean in our daily walk in one of his most well-known passages. Knowing that the cross was a method of execution, He made it clear that this should be what defines us in our Christian life:

 I have been crucified with Christ.

 It is no longer I who live, but

 Christ Who lives in me. And the

 life that I now live in the flesh I

 live by faith in The Son of God,

Who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

    That is what the cross should mean. It is dying daily to ourselves so that Christ can live through us. Let's not downplay the cross; let's make it what it is meant to be: the place where we die to self and exalt Jesus.

"But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.


Finding Favor in the Eyes of God

By Brian Mitchell

 

5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD (GEN.6:5-8).

    As much as I hate to admit it, this sounds pretty similar to the days in which we live. It is pretty difficult to read these words and not see that the societal circumstances described in the days of Noah bear a striking similarity to the times in which we find ourselves living. In fact, Paul writes thousands of years later about a time when circumstances would be similar to those described in the days of Noah—2 Tim.3:1-5. The point is simple and that is that there have always been evil and wicked men among us, and it has always displeased God.

    In fact, it was those circumstances described in Genesis that led God to destroy the world which He had created with the Great Flood. And this leads to a great question; can a man live right in times such as these? Given the times we live in it would be understandable to ask whether or not one could really live a life that is pleasing to God in the midst of such sin and perversion. We know that we are supposed to—Tit.2:11-12.  But can it really be done and if so, how?

    The answer of course is yes. We can live right in our day and time regardless of how many around us want to follow their own path in life. Even in Gen.6, when God was pronouncing judgment upon the world He had made and preparing to destroy it with the flood, there are some encouraging words to be found about one man. A man, that in spite of his circumstances, managed to live righteously in the eyes of God; a man named Noah—Gen.6:8.

    Thus, Noah serves as an example of the fact that men can still be pleasing to God, even if they live in a world where “every intent of the thoughts of men’s heart are continually evil.” Why? Because even in a wicked world, Noah found favor in the eyes of God.

- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at https://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.net


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Dads: Define Your Success the Right Way

By Adam Faughn

    Looking at the world through the lens of the Bible, it is obvious that our culture is in very dangerous times. Morally speaking, the larger culture in which we find ourselves is seemingly running headlong away from any sense of Biblical morality and is trans-planting it with perversion, rebellion against authority, and a "no one can tell me what to do" attitude.
    One sign of that dangerous trend has been going on for a long time, and that is the subversion of fatherhood in the culture. A man who would strive to just be a good dad is the brunt of countless jokes.  Because he might not be the richest or the strongest or the wildest, he is treated as weak and boring. He is the idiot in the sitcoms. He is the punching bag in many gossip sessions. He "can't do anything right."
    This is a very dangerous sign because, when we look at the Bible, a man who would simply be a good and faithful dad is held up as a lynchpin in the home and in society.  It is fathers who are told to "bring [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).  Do mothers not have a role in that?  There is no doubt that they do, but the primary weight of responsibility lands squarely on the shoulders of the father. A real man, no matter what society says, is a man who shoulders that responsibility with every fiber of his being.
    Years ago, Clifton Rogers wrote a poem that expresses the heart of a dad who has his priorities in order:

I may never be as clever as my neighbor down the street,
I may never be as wealthy as some other men I meet,
I may never have the glory that some other men have had,
But I've got to be successful as a little fellow's dad.

There are certain dreams I cherish that I'd like to see come true,
There are things I would accomplish ere my working time is through,
But the task my heart is set on is to guide a little lad,
And to make myself successful as a little fellow's dad.

I may never come to glory, I may never gather gold,
Men may count me as a failure when my business tale is told,
But if he who follows after shall be manly, I'll be glad,
For  I'll  know  I've  been  successful  as  a little fellow's dad.

It's the one job I dream of; it's the task I think of most;
If  I  fail  that  growing  youngster,  I'd have nothing else to boast;
For though wealth and fame I'd gather, all my future would be sad,
If I failed to be successful as that little fellow's dad.


My "lad" is not so little anymore (nor is my girl), but I fully get the feeling of that poem. Certainly, there are wishes and dreams I might have that my children could "hold me back" on, because it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy and money to raise children.  But when my priorities are aligned with the will of God, my children are not holding me back at all, because I am doing the most important work any dad could ever do when I spend time with them and in-still Biblical values in their hearts.
    Dads, if you are being a faithful and godly dad, society will make fun of you and try to tell you to feel as if your role is nothing but outdated, overbearing, or just drudgery. But we know better! We know that God gave us these children to raise, teach, discipline, and disciple, and if we are doing that with every ounce of our bring, we are a true success.
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.