Stewardship Of Time

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Exodus 20:8-11

Now it came to pass that spring turned to summer again. God’s people raised their voices and said: “Recreation is my shepherd. I shall not stay at home;
He maketh me to lie down in a sleeping bag: He leadeth me down the interstate each weekend: He restoreth my suntan; He leadeth me to State parks for comfort’s sake. Even though I stray on the Lord’s Day, I will fear no reprimand, for Thou art with me; my rod and gas tank runneth dry. Surely my trailer shall follow me all the weekends this summer, and I shall return to the House of the Lord this fall.” But then it is hunting season, and that’s a another psalm.

Many people hope to be elected to heaven who are not even running for the office. Excuses abound for not attending church. The Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia ran an ad targeted for excuse-prone professionals living in downtown. The lead line read, “Jesus Hated Church, Too!” “It’s boring. The people are phony. The politics are less than righteous. Jesus hated the same things. But he never used it as an excuse not to worship. Maybe he knew something you don’t.”

When we talk about “stewardship” we always think, money. In this stewardship series we know that we are called to be good stewards of the earth and this body. A steward is a manager or superintendent of another’s household. Today we are talking about the stewardship of the “Sabbath.” Sabbath in Hebrew means “rest.” It was the day of rest for all God’s people.

The fourth of the Ten Commandments says, Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. If we were to be honest with ourselves we would confess that we are not very faithful in giving God our tithes. And the tithe is not even one of the Ten Commandments. Here is a Commandment and so many of us are less than faithful to it.

The Sabbath was distinctive and was treated at length in the Bible. The account of the creation states that God “rested on the seventh day” (Gen 2:2).
The Sabbath was a means of binding together more closely the chosen people and keeping them apart from the rest of mankind. Two reasons are given for its observance in Israel-God’s resting on the seventh day of creation (Ex 20:8-11; 31:16-17) and Israel’s having been a “slave in the land of Egypt” and having been brought “out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm” (Deut 5:15). In other words, the Sabbath defines who we are and reminds us to whom we belong. It goes without saying that “rest” is important!

A Hassidic story tells of a little boy playing hide-and-seek with his friends. For some unknown reason they stopped playing while he was hiding. He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house to see what was troubling him and to comfort him. After learning what had happened, the grandfather said, “Do not weep, my child, because the boys did not come to find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment. All of life is like a game between God and us. Only it is God who is weeping, for we are not playing the game fairly. God is waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things.”

There is a blessing for those who give this time to God. Three things happened to the bread [the manna] in Exodus 16. First, everybody had enough. But because Israel had learned to believe in scarcity in Egypt, people started to hoard the bread. Secondly, when they tried to bank it, to invest it, it turned sour and rotted, because you cannot store up God’s generosity. Finally, Moses said, “You know what we ought to do? We ought to do what God did in Genesis 1. We ought to have a Sabbath.” Sabbath means that there’s enough bread, that we don’t have to hustle every day of our lives.

A Christian man was once urged by his employer to work on Sunday. “Doesn’t your Bible say that if your ox falls into a ditch on the Sabbath, you may pull him out?” “Yes,” replied the other; “but if the ox had the habit of falling into the same ditch every Sabbath, I would either fill up the pit or sell the ox.”

In the present dispensation of grace Sunday perpetuates the truth that one-seventh of one’s time belongs to God. As Paul writes to the young church in Roman he says, One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. (Romans 14:5)
What Paul is saying is that it is not so much the day as it is in giving the time to God.

The day is not as important as the time we give to God. The reality is that a little bit of every day should belong to God. God may require 1/10th of the money that passes through our lives, but He requires 1/7th of our time. Time is more important than even money to God.

The Mayfly lives only six hours! It gets its name from the fact that it hatches in the month of May. Yet the eggs of the Mayfly do not hatch for three years!
A six-hour lifetime seems mighty brief, but then 90 seem short to the human who has reached them. If we could compare our longest life-span with eternity, we’d have a real sense of perspective. We’d know what is important and what is insignificant. And we’d know how best to use our years.

The oldest living things on earth are the bristlecone pines in the Iyno National Forest in California. They have endured for over 4,900 years. The oldest dates from 2900 B.C. These trees were growing when Moses was given the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. They were already ancient when Christ was on earth. Remarkable they still produce seeds that germinate and grow. But man will live longer. Eventually the bristlecone pines will die, but the human soul was made for eternity. Maybe it is worth giving God some time!

Stewardship Of Life

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Luke 19:11-27

There are two mandates that God’s word gives us about life. The first is that life is a gift of God and therefore has sanctity. The second is that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore to be cared for because it is special. We call these two things, the stewardship of life.

Little Jimmy was in the garden filling in a hole when his neighbor peered over the fence. Interested in what the cheeky-faced youngster was up to, he politely asked, “What are you up to there, Jimmy?” “My goldfish died,” replied Jimmy tearfully, without looking up, “and I’ve just buried him.” The neighbor was concerned, “That’s an awfully big hole for a goldfish, isn’t it?” Little Jimmy patted down the last heap of earth then replied, “That’s because he’s inside your cat.”

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:9)
God created life and therefore that which was created in God’s image was to be treated with respect. You shall not murder, was a command to protect human life and guide decency. No one was to stretch out their hand and harm another individual. Even the Koran, the Islamic holy book, bans murder.

When religious extremists claim they hear the voice of God, (whether Islamic, Christian or otherwise) they are actually hearing the thunder of their own desires to shape history. It comes out of self motivation and not divine direction. Those who murder innocent human beings are not in God’s will, but are criminal.

Should those who did this crime be brought to justice? Yes! The New Testament is clear that God allows the existence of government for the purpose of punishing evil doers. As a free and democratic people, we must use the same standards to bring those who are guilty of this crime to justice that we would use on ourselves. Before we punish anyone we must be certain beyond a reasonable doubt.

Nothing can justify the horrible crime that took place on Tuesday, 9-11-2001 and those involved must and should be punished. But every time we point the finger at someone else, three fingers come back at us. Why is there so much American hatred in the middle east that would prompt this type of aggression? Could it be that we used Afghanistan as a puppet to fight Russia during a cold war? Could it be that the US backed the Shah of Iran for thirty years for oil, even though he did horrible things to his people? It is not just a question of bringing to justice those who have done wrong, but making right and living justly with all people.

Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:23) Violence is less likely when we are at peace with our neighbor. Violence begets violence, it is never acceptable.

Reconciliation starts with us. I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil 4:2) Justice begins with ourselves.

Paul writes, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19) Then we begin to understand why God calls us to live at such a high standard. This earthen vessel belongs to God. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Prov 3:7)

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44)

Debbie Blye worked in a book store and writes of her experience one day.
She noticed a man standing outside the door of the book store before it was time to open. The clothes indicated that he was Hasidic Jew. She let him in early. He said, “I want to know about Jesus?” She said, “We have some wonderful books over here.” “No,” he said, “I want you to tell me about Jesus.” She writes, “My Episcopal soul shivered because I was not equipped to tell him about Jesus.”

We forget that we live in a body that does not belong to us, but to God.
It is the residence of the Holy Spirit. We take care of this body because it reflects how well we take care of God’s Temple.

Perhaps death itself will be a big revelation for all of us. That moment in time when it “dawns” on us. “They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ (Matt 25:44)

Stewardship Of The Earth

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Genesis 2:15

I am reminded of a story about a snail that got beaten up by two turtles. When he went to the police they asked him, “Did you get a good look at the turtles that beat you up?” He said, “I don’t know, it all happened so fast…” Polluting our world is happening so fast.

Belatedly, the world is waking up to the realization that when God told Adam and Eve to “subdue” the earth, he didn’t mean pollute it, poison it or turn it into a wasteland. And Christians are waking up to the idea that conserving “this fragile earth, our island home,” is an essential part of good stewardship.
We should also be aware by now that the global family is in this together. Yes, we can be alarmed by the cutting and burning of the Amazon rain forest and its impact on the world’s climate. But save some of that concern for the leveling of the forests in our own Pacific Northwest.

God put Adam and Eve in a garden and said, ‘I prepared a place for you. You are to conserve it, that’s ecology, and cultivate it, which means perfect it. I want you to make it better, not tear it up.’ It makes me wonder how we will do in the next century? Jesus said, In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1) Will we take any better care of our next home then we have this one?

In the early 1800’s Henry David Thoreau writes, “Men think that it is essential that the nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour . . . but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain.

Our lives are to be a spiritual calling. We are not just to waste away 80 or 90 years of our lives. Why is the spot of red in the forest so beautiful when we think it’s a flower, and so horrible when we find it’s a candy wrapper? Because we know that it is not our home. There comes to all people ultimately the awareness that this earth is the wrong place.

And that the earth is merely a waiting room for our permanent home. C. S. Lewis once said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” God made the sun — it gives heat, light, guidance. God made the moon — it gives tidal pull, moonbeams, decoration. God made the stars — they give beauty, direction, a point of orientation, awe. God made the air — it gives oxygen, life, balmy breezes. God made the clouds — they give shade, beauty, rain, cooling. God made the earth — it gives grandeur, solidity, resources, gems, nourishment. God made humanity, more specifically, God made you — You give — What?

A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man’s greatest tragedy, God’s heaviest grief. When God set up the land for the Israelites, He gave us some insight about His feeling of the land. This is the best of the land and must not pass into other hands, because it is holy to the LORD. (Ezek 48:14) In the Law God reveals, A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. (Lev 27:30)

What is at the root of our problem? Humanity has to conquer! The root of the (ecological) crisis is the will to dominate, and that this desire derives theologically from the concept among Christians of a dominating God. The tower of Babel, was mankind’s rebellion. Humans, seeing themselves in the image of this dominating God, thought they were meant to dominate nature. We forget that the earth is not only God’s property; it is also God’s presence.

The Sabbath is wise environmental politics. “Israel is given the land, not the land to Israel.” I have never believed that we were to have domination of the Earth. I believe we were set on Earth to be stewards, not masters of the created order; managers under the owner, God.

Mere longing for a better world can be a lazy person’s way to face life. There is an old story of a farmer who said lightning struck an old shed and thus saved him the trouble of tearing it down, and rain washed off his car and saved him that chore too. When asked what he was doing now, he replied, “Waiting for an earthquake to shake the potatoes out of the ground.”

Reported to be seen on a sign outside a church in Houston, Texas: ‘The meek shall inherit the earth.’ Underneath it, a graffitist had scrawled “But not the mineral rights.” We can no longer afford to be meek when it comes to the world we live in. We worry about cost, the loss of jobs, and higher prices. Maybe the more important fear is the loss of life, birth defects and not having a planet that is worth living on.

I believe we can live on earth according to the teachings of Jesus, and that the greatest happiness will come to the world when man obeys His commandment “Love ye one another.” I believe that the welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:9)

A Few Words with Your Pastor

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1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

This is the Week Of The Ministry. A mother and her four-year-old daughter were in a hospital waiting room when a minister came in who was wearing a clergy collar. The little girl was fascinated with the collar and kept staring at the pastor. He noticed it out of the corner of his eye and went up to the little girl and asked, “Do you know what this collar means?” She looked up and said, “I sure do. It kills fleas for six months!”

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.” Spanish proverb: An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.

We are called by many title; clergy, priest, minister, pastor, preacher and rector, just to name a few. The pastor has been long standing in God’s word. Our very first priest (clergy) is recorded early in the Book of Genesis. Gen 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

The Church has always viewed that it was God’s responsibility to “call” ministers. 1 Sam 3:1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, `Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.

Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Scripture teaches that God gives talents to those He has called. It is our tradition to test that call. We require the individual to receive an education. 2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. A farmer who looked up in the sky and saw clouds form the letters “GPC.” He dropped everything and goes to preach Christ. The congregation that heard him preach said, “Go Plow Corn.” As a part of our seminary education we are forced to look closely at our calling.

Ministers have derived their immediate authority to preach, teach, lead worship, care for souls and perform their other duties from the Church and from the Bible. Apart from the Church and the Scriptures, the minister has no authority. It is God’s Word that calls the clergy person and sets the standards for the clergy.

I find three important qualities in those called to be ministers. Faith: Abraham was called to leave Ur and go to the promise land. Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so what is seen was not made out of what was visible. The clergy are men and women full of faith, yet they are human and make mistakes.

Leadership: Moses grew up in the household of Pharaoh and received the best training and education possible. He was a reluctant leader but a well respected leader. The story of Moses shows that God enables the leader to be a lead.

Obedience: King David was a great leader and a man of faith. But David also shows us something of obedience. Sure, he was human and did some very dumb things, but always came back to obedience.

Paul writes, “we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.” When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it was a valuable plant.

A New Righteousness

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Luke 2:22-40

A man took his wife and mother-in-law to Jerusalem on a trip. The mother-in-law while in Jerusalem died unexpectedly. The mortuary said to the man as he was making arrangements; We can bury her here for $150 or it will take $5,000.00 to send her back to the states. The man thought about it and said, “I will pay the $5,000 to send her back home.” The mortician said, “She must be a special mother-in-law.” The man said, “Well, I heard that a man died here and after three days came back to life and I just can’t take any chances.”

Jesus was in every way a Jew whose parents “fulfilled all righteousness” by presenting him to God at the temple in Jerusalem. While they were there in obedience to the law, Simeon and Anna were there in obedience to the Spirit. The two old people’s recognition of Jesus was the beginning of a new age, and the old order would be turned upside down.

Paul speaks of the “fullness of time” when Christ came into the world. (Galatians 4:4)An old man holds in his arms a baby, an old man who had almost given up hope for Israel. And the old man sings with joy because he has seen the salvation of his people. An old woman also sings. She had spent her days at the temple in constant prayer and fasting, signs of deep contrition and mourning. Yet at the moment she saw the newborn child, she began to praise God. How will our congregation receive this call to complete, uninhibited joy? There is something about us that is hesitant to embrace fulfillment when it is offered. There is something about us that holds back when confronted by the summons to rejoice. Is it because so often we have been disappointed in our hopes? Is it because there is something a bit humiliating in admitting that what we need is completely in the hands of God? The incarnation, at last God with us, in the flesh! We had waited, down through the dim millennia we had waited. We have prayed with the prophets, “God, come down and save us!

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. (1 Corinthians 3) God’s goal for humanity has always been righteousness. Purity of heart and rectitude of life; being and doing right. The righteousness of Christ denotes not only His absolute perfection but is taken for His perfect obedience to the law and suffering the penalty thereof in our stead. For you and me righteousness is holy and upright living, in accordance with God’s standard. The word righteousness comes from a root word that means “straightness.” Righteousness is a moral concept.

For example, Adam and Eve would have acted righteously in their relationship with God if they had obeyed Him, because His commands defined that relationship. The Ten Commandments and related laws defined Israel’s relationship with God. To obey those laws was to act righteously, because such obedience maintained the covenant relationship between God and His people.

There are four stages that God has led us through. Conscience: Adam and Eve were granted freedom with only one boundary. The sole test is obedience or disobedience. Covenant or promise. The covenant was with Abraham. Now it is not so much obedience as it is trust. Trust me and I will make you a great nation. We generally appear to go to God only when we are in trouble, only when things are not going well. When our lives are right again, we forget God. Isn’t it interesting that we seem to adore God only in our bad times, when we grieve, not in our good times when we rejoice? Law: In the Old Testament the term righteousness is used to define man’s relationship with God and with other people. In the context of relationships, righteous action is action that promotes the peace and well-being of human beings in their relationships to one another. God gave Moses the Law on the mountain. Sin is disobedience to the terms that define man’s relationship with God and with other people. Since the FALL in the Garden of Eden, man is inherently unrighteous. Man cannot be righteous in the sight of God on his own merits. Therefore, man must have God’s righteousness imputed, or transferred, to him. Grace. The cross of Jesus is a public demonstration of God’s righteousness. God accounts or transfers the righteousness of Christ to those who trust in Him. We do not become righteous because of our inherent goodness; God sees us as righteous because of our identification by faith with His Son.

He who keeps his face towards the sun shall find that the shadows fall behind him. When an observatory is about to be built, the site selected is always on same high mountain. The aim is to find a place with is a clear, unobstructed view of the heavens. Similarly, faith requires for its heavenly vision, the highlands of holiness and separation, the pure sky of a consecrated life.

John Grisham (Author) once said, I have never been tempted to resort to gratuitous sex, profanity, or violence. I couldn’t write a book that I would be embarrassed for my kids to read a few years from now. Plus, my mother would kill me.

True spirituality manifests itself in certain dominant desires. First is the desire to be holy rather than happy. A man may be considered spiritual when he wants to see the honor of God advanced through his life even if it means that he himself must suffer temporary dishonor or loss. The spiritual man wants to carry his cross. Again, a Christian is spiritual when he sees everything from God’s viewpoint. Another desire of the spiritual man is to die right rather than to live wrong. The desire to see others advance at his expense. The spiritual man habitually makes eternity-judgments instead of time-judgments.

A Happy Home

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Proverbs 17:6

A teacher asked her students on the Friday before Mother’s Day to share with the class what their mothers did for a living. The first little child got up and said that his mother was a dentist. The second little child said her mother was a stay at home mom. The third child said his mother was an exotic dancer at one of the nude bars in town. The teacher was greatly surprised and hurried the class along in sharing. Later she asked Johnny, “Are you sure your mother is an exotic dancer?” “No, I just said that because I was embarrassed by what she really does.” What does she really do? “She is an accountant for Arthur Anderson.”

Jonathan and I were having dinner one evening with the family of a lady I was dating. Her dad said to Jonathan, “I bet you got teased a lot at school by your friends about your dad being a minister?” “No, not at all. I just didn’t tell them.” Proverbs (22:6) says, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

I was reared in a very dysfunctional home and so by the time that I became a husband and a father, I very much wanted to offer a Christian home. What is a Christian home and how do we “train a child in the way they should go?” All of us are different and have different tastes, likes and dislikes. Let me share with you four (4) things that I have found true in my own family as I reflect back and what I find present in other successful families.

Communication is a key to a Christian family! You have to talk with the ones you love. We currently have an environment in the home where we are involved in every community activity that is possible. By the time that we have attended all the activities and transported every child, we are exhausted. Many times, parents live out their dreams in their children and exhaust each other in the process. In my family we had all our evening meals together. It was not always easy and everyone had to make sacrifices to do it. However, it was a time of catching up with each others lives. It was at that meal table that my son said, “Dad, there are some things that parents should never know about their child.” It was also at that meal table a couple of years later that I found out what was behind that statement. The meal table gave us an opportunity to talk about life. It was a support group for each family member. It was a place to talk about temptations: Social, financial and sexual. Meal time has always been a special time in the life of believers. The Disciples were always reclining at the table. Jesus fed 5,000 on a grassy shore line. And everyone knows how powerful the Last Supper was.

Share the faith story as you know it and understand it! We talked about God. At the meal table is was not uncommon to end in a theological debate, which led to a better understanding of each others faith journey. We played games like Bible Trivia. Children need to know and understand why they believe what that believe. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Tim 1:5) When the children were small, we would gather around us on Christmas Eve and read the Christmas story. We would often read the little story of “The Other Wise Man.” I find it interesting even now how both children feel Christmas is never complete until we have read the Christmas story. People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15)

Lead your family by living the Christian example! More is learned by watching than is ever learned from being told. Somewhere our faith has to stop being just talked about and just lived. To Train a child in the way he should go, is to allow the child to see how to live life. First of all, never be fooled into thinking that you are hiding your problems from your children. The children are watching! Children learn how to be husbands and wives from us. It is only when a husband and wife pray together before God that they find the secret of true harmony in a marriage. The differences in their temperaments, ideas, and tastes enrich their home instead of endangering it. There will be no further question of one imposing his/her will on the other. They find the art of forgiveness. Family life is about forgiving. We learn mutual submission. You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (James 2:22)

Make your family a priority! Few people neglect family and home because they plan it. It is necessary to schedule family time. There are even times to schedule to be away from Church. If I am too busy for my family now, I will be too busy for them ten years from now. The motor home was a blessing in our lives. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)

It is not always easy to rear a Christian family. There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.

The family is the institution of God laying at the foundation of all human society. Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife'”. Parental obligations include the maintenance of children and their education in its fullest sense.

A Church Leader

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Titus 1:5-9

A henpecked husband went to a psychologist to learn to assert himself. The psychologist told him, “You do not have to accept your wife’s bullying,” he said. “You need to go home right now and let her know that you’re your own boss.” The husband was encouraged to take the doctor’s advice. He went home and slammed the door on his way in. He shook his fist in his wife’s face, and shouted, “From now on you’ll do what I say, woman! Go get my supper, then go upstairs and lay out my clothes. After I eat, I’m going out with the boys. You can stay here where you belong. By the way, do you know who is going to tie my tie for me?” “I sure do,” said his wife calmly, “the undertaker.”

A mother and her small daughter were walking past the house in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln once lived. The lights were burning inside, making the home seem warm and inviting. They paused for a few minutes as the mother told the girl what a great President Mr. Lincoln had been and how the whole nation mourned when he died. The youngster listened with rapt attention. Then, noticing the glow coming from the windows, she said, “Look, Momma. When Mr. Lincoln went away, he left the lights on.” The influence of our lives continues even after we die. Notice what the writer of Hebrews said of Abel — “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.” (Hebrews 11:4). What we do for the Lord can have a positive influence on succeeding generations.

There are many leaders in the life of the Church, some hold an office and some do not. Elders and Diaconate are to be servant leaders, not rulers or dictators. God doesn’t want His people to be used by petty, self-serving tyrants. Servant leaders have chosen a life of service on behalf of others.
Like the servant Christ, they sacrifice their time and energy for the good of others. I suppose that leadership at one time meant muscle but today it means getting along with people.

In early times books were scarce, and the aged of the tribes were the depositories of the traditions of bygone generations. The old leaders, moreover, had the most experience and were the heads of large families, over whom they exercised authority. Because old age was identified with matured wisdom, knowledge, and experience, and a reward for a virtuous and godly life, the aged were from time immemorial chosen to fill the official positions in the community. After the return from the Exile, the office rose into higher significance and fuller organization. With every synagogue there was connected a government of elders, varying in number according to the population attached to it. The rulers of the synagogue and the elders of the people were substantially one, and a certain number of those elders belonged to the Sanhedrin. Elders first came into prominence on the scattering abroad of the disciples and the withdrawing of the apostles from Jerusalem, following the death of Stephen.

The origin of the office of deacon is usually related to the events described in Acts 6:1-6. The young Christian church in Jerusalem was experiencing growing pains, and it had become increasingly difficult for the apostles to distribute charitable gifts to its needy members without neglecting their ministry of prayer and preaching. To meet this critical need, seven people were chosen by the congregation and presented to the apostles.

An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. To be blameless is to be redeemed, a Christian. They have to have only one spouse or less. If the individual has children, what type of life do they live? Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. To not be overbearing means not being a dictator. The leader must be in control of his/her temper. The leader must not be an alcoholic. The leader must work in a respectable trade. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. To be hospitable is to be kind and compassionate. The leader genuinely pursues good and not evil. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. The leader must know something of scripture and his/her relationship with God.

Elisabeth Elliot’s book “The Mark Of A Man,” has a chapter entitled “A Take-charge Man Is A Servant,” where she relates a story about her late husband Addison Leitch. “When he was dean of a small college in Pennsylvania, he learned that the walls of a certain men’s dormitory were smeared with shaving cream, peanut butter, and jelly. He went over to investigate. Of course not a soul around had any idea how it could possibly have happened. In room after room he met with surprised innocence. He had several options. He could make every man in the dormitory go to work and clean it up. He could call the custodian. There was a third option. Addison went and got a bucket and a brush and set to work himself. One by one doors opened, heads popped out, word spread of what the dean of the college was doing, and soon he was not alone in the scrub job.” “The power of servanthood. It commands respect. It does not demand it.”

During the waning years of the depression in a small Southeastern Idaho community, I used to stop by Mr. Miller’s roadside stand for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used, extensively. One particular day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes, but I was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me. “Hello Barry, how are you today?” “H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas … sure look good.” “They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?” “Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.” “Good. Anything I can help you with?” “No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.” “Would you like to take some home?” “No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.” “Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?” “All I got’s my prize marble here.” “Is that right? Let me see it.” “Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.” “I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?” “Not ‘zackley… but, almost.” “Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.” Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said: “There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one perhaps,” sometime later, I learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival at the mortuary, we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform, and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts . . . very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing–smiling and composed–by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes. Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. “Those three young men, that just left, were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size . . . they came to pay their debt.” With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles. Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our deeds.