Looking for a Strong Leader ... (Standing Watch) 12 min. video
Teaching God (Sabbath Meditations)
don’t usually get excited about school piano recitals. It’s one thing
to endure your own children struggle to find the right key night after
night for weeks on end, but sitting through two hours of other people’s
kids doing the same thing is downright painful. But this recital was
different. Because every note was played on key? No. It wasn’t any less
painful to endure. It was special because my son actually participated.
At the end of another recital, he announced to us that
he’d had enough. He no longer wanted to play the piano. This was
devastating to me. One gift I’ve been determined to impart to my
children is a gift that I personally was never given: the gift of music.
I had hoped that both of my children would at least advance to a level
where their ability to produce beautiful music could bring a lifetime of
enjoyment. My hopes, it seemed, were being derailed.
blame him, though, for wanting to quit. The fun had gone out of it for
him. Only a year earlier, you couldn’t drag him away from the piano. Now
it took an act of congress to get him to practice for even ten minutes.
Some of his loss of enthusiasm I attributed to adolescence; lacking the
discipline and maturity to do what it takes to learn. But the lion’s
share of his dying enthusiasm I blamed on his teacher. This well meaning
lady's style of instruction consisted of methodically working through
principles of music theory and technique by practicing lifeless,
outdated music. She also put a great deal of pressure on the kids to
participate in local piano competitions and recitals. I suspected she
was concerned less with what the children gained from the experience
than with promoting her piano lesson business in the local community.
Neither of these approaches worked well with my son.
So after his
adamant announcement we decided to switch tracks. After a brief hiatus
we found another piano instructor with a decidedly different approach to
music instruction. What a refreshing change it was. The first thing
this teacher asked when the kids walked into her house was what kind of
music they enjoyed. “That’s the music you’re going to play.” Over the
next several months of lessons we were impressed that this instructor
seemed less concerned that our kids master the mechanics of the music
they played than that they be sufficiently motivated by their enjoyment
in playing it. Her reasoning was simple. If you teach the love of music,
interest will be maintained over time, and the rest, the method,
correct technique, will come naturally. If you teach method first, the
love will die, and eventually, so will the learning.
I believe there
is a lot of wisdom in that approach. I immediately saw the fruits of it
in my children, particularly my son. They couldn’t wait to get to the
music store to pick out their music and get to the piano.
I think it
would pay for our churches to apply this approach in their efforts to
teach their members’ children about God. I’ve seen too many Bible school
curricula that jump immediately into the mechanics; the ‘what’ of our
faith; without first teaching the ‘why’. Absent that context; absent an
active relationship to build on; the ‘what’ just becomes information.
much greater would be our success if we strived first to instill in our
children a loving relationship with God, before funneling lists of
memory scriptures and doctrinal statements into their heads. If our
children develop a love for God, interest in a relationship with Him
will be maintained, and the rest will come naturally. They will want to
read His book. They will want to be where other members of His family
are. They will want to please Him. It’s that simple.
My son did a great job at the recital. Oh, he hit a wrong note a few times ... but it was all music to my ears.
Thanksgiving (Children of God)
often do we say, ‘thank you’, in our prayers? The USA the
most blessed nation that has ever existed, and we, because of our
calling, are the most blessed people who have ever lived. Thursday is
Thanksgiving Day. It is not one of God's Holy Days, but it is
appropriate for us, as the people of God, to be thankful
to God for the tremendous blessings He has poured out on this great
land and us, His people.
greatest blessing God has given us is His Son, Jesus Christ, as our
Savior. How thankful should we be for His Spirit - which enables us
to begin to live as He lived? Even the faith that God’s plan will
come to pass is a gift to be thankful for. His gifts are of infinite
and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been
taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.’ (Colossians2:7)
than a century ago, President Abraham Lincoln realized that the hand
of God had blessed this land of America more than any in the history
of the earth. In 1863, he wrote: ‘We have been the recipients of
the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many
years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and
power as no other nation has ever grown.’
and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving,
and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever.’ (Revelation
expects us to be a thankful people, because we have not received all
these blessings due to our own ingenuity. It is God who has blessed
America greatly: first of all in fulfillment of His promise to
faithful Abraham over 2500 years ago, then we are blessed as God
directs His plan for the USA in general, and then finally, toward us
brethren in particular. We owe all the thanksgiving to God.
every thing give
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’
are becoming an unthankful and ungrateful people. Thanksgiving Day
means ‘Turkey day’ for too many. It means turkey and
pumpkins – but increasingly less emphasis on giving the Almighty
Creator God the thanks.
Seldom do we as a people recognize God for the blessings, protection,
and abundance that we enjoy. We think, for the most part, ‘We
did it ourselves.’
they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither
God is the giver of all the good things we possess!
Truth and freedom of religion, victories, peace, family, friends,
food, health, clothes, homes, liberty, education … and an endless
list of all sorts of blessings. We would have none of these if it
weren't for the generosity of God. He must always be given the full
enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through
an incredible time and country we live in! We have meat, and fruit,
and vegetables, and fresh flowers all year long. We have it better
than King Solomon. We have telescopes to see God's beautiful creation
as never before - we can even view our own beautiful earth from outer
space! How that would have inspired David.
I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving,
and tell of all thy wondrous works.’ (Psalms
as we are reminded to be thankful this week, let’s be sure to
remember the source of all blessings. God withholds no blessing that
good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from
the Father.’ (James
every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known unto God.’ (Philippians
Brethren, let’s be eternally appreciative of God’s mercy.
unto the LORD; for He is good; for his mercy endureth forever.’
The Purposes of Leadership (First Century Christianity)
elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor,
especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. (1Ti.5:17)
word for rule here could also be translated as manage and probably
should be. The unfortunate use of the word ‘rule’ insinuates that elders
are somehow rulers who have much more authority over the flock than
what is intended. To be an elder in a community or in a religious
setting from days gone by meant that a man was considered honorable,
trustworthy, temperate, and had had sufficient life experience to help
mentor others through crises. The traditional purpose of being an elder
is to motivate people or a community to help themselves, not to rule
over them. The elders are also supposed to be the ones who decide when
‘enough is enough’ and take action to solve egregious problems.
path to becoming one who can be thought of as an elder or a leader is
messy. It is very easy for us to make bad decisions in our own lives,
where we know most of the facts and still blow it, for lack of a better
word. It is much easier to ‘blow it’ for someone else when counseling or
helping someone through a crises and not having access to all the
facts. This is why Paul writes not to lay hands on someone hastily later
on in 1 Timothy 5. Giving someone authority without sufficient
experience is a recipe for disaster.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul
actually chides that assembly, not only for allowing immorality in their
midst, but also for not handling it themselves. Delegation is a key to
leadership. The people in the assembly know the problems best so they
have the best chance of bringing things to a proper resolution. When
someone of a much higher rank has to stop the work they normally do and
get involved in internal matters, it shows a breakdown of the system and
shakes confidence. This person likely doesn’t have all the facts, does
not know all the players, and has a real uphill climb to making a just
decision. Paul actually cites the Torah, Deuteronomy 17:7, to show the
Corinthians that the assembly is supposed to take care of itself.
you’ll notice in the verse above, elders don’t have to be teachers. This
is a common misconception in assemblies, as so much emphasis is placed
on teaching. Being able to teach is a fine thing, it is necessary for
the body to be educated by people like this, and those who undertake the
time to study and teach are to be respected. But don’t mistake someone
who can give a good sermon as automatically being a leader, because they
might not have an assembly or might lack the life experience required
for spiritual leadership.
Speakers have a slightly different standard
than elders. The third chapter of James tells us the fate of teachers,
but verse one will suffice for the purpose of this article: Let not many
of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur
a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)
We who teach come under stricter
scrutiny from the Most High. James goes on to analogize the tongue to
the rudder of a ship. Those who are eloquent and can put together a nice
presentation have the power to either direct the ship in the right
direction or to take the ship off course. This responsibility is
immense, but it is not precisely the same position or skill set as and
elder. It is immensely more difficult to keep a ship on course,
especially a sailing ship of James’s day than it is to drift off course
Elders, deacons, and leaders in the assembly are people
who are dedicated to Yahweh and His Son, to the administration of their
assemblies, and to keeping their assemblies moving in a God focused
manner. These are people who manage the money of the assembly, manage
the actual weekly service, visit the sick, help the poor, and keep track
of things that need to be kept track of. They help young parents when
the young parents need counseling or encouragement. They console when
there is a tragedy. They even correct those smooth talking teachers from
time to time, as well.
But the moral of the story is that the
purpose of leadership in the assembly is to build up the assembly and
make sure the bride is ready when the Husband returns. The leadership
are also supposed to guard the assembly against evil forces, but to do
so with patience and discernment. This requires a lot of faith,
patience, and dedication.
How Will God Judge ISIS? (OzWitness)
have all seen the wickedness of ISIS, and their latest boastful claim
to have brought down the Russian plane over Sinai with over 200
holidaymakers aboard is just the latest horrific crime this ‘death
cult’ has, in all probability committed.
evil criminals are not soldiers in the sense of those who respect the
Geneva Convention and the ‘rules of war’, which were designed to
protect innocent civilians. No, these evil men enslave, rape, loot,
steal, murder and torture at will. No evil is beyond them and they
delight in filming and broadcasting their criminal depravities. So,
how will God deal with them? When captured would they become
prisoners of war, entitled to hospital and humane treatment ? The
Bible provides a clear answer.
long time ago men had become as wicked as ISIS, so evil that God
decided the only solution was to start again with just one righteous
man’s family. Everyone perished in the ensuing flood, except Noah
and his kin: Genesis
‘He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the
ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens.
They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those
who were with him in the ark.’
cities in Canaan had become so depraved that the name of one of them
became synonymous with a deviant sexual practice, and both Sodom and
Gomorrah were completely consumed by fire from heaven.
‘Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah
sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew
those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the
cities, and what grew on the ground.’
I’ve been there and collected the evidence, in the form of still
remaining sulphurous brimstone balls which had burned their way
deep into the ground.
still, when God delivered the land of Canaan into the hands of Israel
after they escaped from Egypt, the Caananites had become so wicked in
sacrificing their children to idols that God gave these instructions
when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before you; you shalt
smite them, and utterly destroy them; you shalt make no covenant
with them, nor shew mercy unto them,’
we see that when God is faced with such gross evil, the instant death
penalty is His just solution, in order to eliminate such wickedness
from the earth. The Bible also reveals that all who die will be
resurrected to physical life and judgment . After any punishment due
they will be given their chance to repent and learn how to live by
think that this is just for the Old Testament. Jesus Christ said,
‘For I am the Lord, I change not,’
Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.’
a result of our own wickedness, in the coming
Tribulation, the punishment of mankind will be so severe that there
will be few men left: Isaiah 24:6,
‘Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their
guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few
are left.’ NIV.
Why did Paul call the Corinthians fools? (Morning Companion)
They only asked a question. But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 1 Corinthians 15:35)
“Answer a fool according to his folly ... Answer not a fool according to his folly.” (Proverbs 26:4,5)
Corinthians had a question for Paul: what kind of a body will we have
in the resurrection? Many have asked questions like this. Will we
recognize each other? Will we have a resemblance to how we look now?
(Ugh!) Or will we look like we did in our 20s? (Better!) Paul, however,
answers the question with a sharp rebuke: “Fools!” (1 Corinthians 15:36)
all due respect to Paul, those questions aren’t foolish at all. We want
answers. Why does he call the Corinthians fools for asking a question
that any of us might ask? Understanding Paul's response to the
Corinthians’ question can act as an excellent example of a cardinal rule
of Bible study: get the context.
The Corinthian church was a
troubled church. They were blessed with many gifts (1 Corinthians 12
& 14), but along with their many gifts they carried baggage from
their background. Their Classical Greek culture led them to ask a lot of
questions, many of which we see Paul referring to throughout this
letter (7:1,25; 8:1; 9:1, etc.) Along with this admirable quality, they
were also infused with Dualism, a carry-over from Greek philosophy,
which manifested itself in Christianity in the form of Gnosticism.
Gnosticism in all its various forms made a sharp distinction between the
physical and spiritual.
Paul’s epistles, the General Epistles, and
many of the next generation of church leaders confronted this heresy,
and it’s evident from Paul’s frequent references to “knowledge” (Greek:
gnosis) in 1 Corinthians that it was an issue in this congregation.
its core Gnosticism teaches that the physical world, including our
physical bodies, are ultimately worthless. In some iterations of
Gnosticism the physical is completely evil and the creation of an evil
demiurge, who was the Yahweh of the Old Testament. Therefore at death
our souls would be released from this demon-inspired physical world and
freed into the spirit realm, which is of the true God.
If that is the
case, why is there any need for a resurrection of the body? Why was
there a need for Jesus’s physical body to disappear from the tomb?
Wouldn’t it make sense that being liberated from the evil physical world
would eliminate any need for a ‘resurrection’? A resurrection to what?
Wouldn’t his soul already be in a glorified, spiritual place?
exactly what Paul felt a need to address in 1 Corinthians 15. “Now if
it is preached that he rose from the dead, how do some among you say
that there is no resurrection from the dead?” (v.12). So when they ask
the questions, “How are the dead raised up?” and “with what body do the
come?” - they likely weren’t asking the question because they wanted an
answer. Some of them had their minds made up and were trying to trap
Paul. They wanted nothing more than to be contentious.
When you and I
ask that question, I would hope we ask it because we really want an
answer. Paul would have given us the answer without first calling us
fools. Even then, he answered the question anyway because, as the
proverb says, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in
his own conceit.”