great courage is needed

“Because the ways of God tend to be both counter-intuitive and counter-cultural”, there is an urgent need for “both discernment and courage” in meeting current challenges facing the church. (Tyler Smith, “The Future of Ministry.” Logos Talk. April 25, 2017).

Following God requires serious choices on the part of man. Joshua challenged his people, saying, “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…” (Josh. 24:15). Faithful service to God is the result of making right choices. But right choices are informed choices. As Joshua took on the monumental task of leading God’s people into the Promised Land, Moses charged him to “Be strong and courageous.” His courage moved him in the direction of being careful to obey all the law which had been given through Moses. He was not to “turn from it to the right or to the left.” Then, and only then, would he enjoy success (Josh. 1:7).

While great courage is needed in facing the challenges of the future, discernment is needed so that we can make choices that lead to spiritual prosperity. This is why Moses went on to say, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:8). Knowing the right way is half the battle. The rest is doing it. For this, there is courage and strength, for he says, “Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (vs. 9).

Ultimately, victory comes with the power and presence of the Lord. The apostle John speaks to this matter, saying, “greater is He who is in you that he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). In light of our own strength, we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). But in Christ, we can handle every situation (Ph. 4:13). If we will take advantage of it, God’s word is powerful enough to provide us both with discernment and courage in facing the challenges of living in a world at odds with God’s revelation (Hb. 4:12; Rm. 1:16).

written by Glenn Elliot

Mothers in the Home

More and more, it seems, unbidden bits of wisdom from my mother spring back to mind like a cool, refreshing breeze on a hot summer day. For these sweet reminders of how blessed I have been through the years, I give God thanksgiving and praise for His divine plan for the home. Although it has been over eight years since her passing, memories linger ever clearer in my heart of a mother dedicated to full-time service in the home.

I am reminded of Solomon’s instruction: “My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you” (Proverbs 6:20–22). A mother’s influence lives on in the lives of her children. An often-cited example of this is the apostle Paul’s young protege, Timothy. Paul was mindful of the fact that his sincere faith was first in his grandmother Lois and then in his mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5). This is inspiration’s way of acknowledging the power of a mother’s influence.

Our failure, as a society, to properly honor and appreciate the role of mothers, especially mothers who make great sacrifices in order to be “workers in the home” (Titus 2:5), is something to be greatly lamented. Political correctness has taken its strangle-hold around the neck of the American family, choking out much of the influence of godly mothers. Role reversal is the order of the day. Biblical roles of mothers and fathers–husbands and wives–have been overlooked, forgotten, or despised altogether. In the wake of such confusion are disoriented families looking to big government to meet their parenting concerns.

This leaves us with some vital questions. Will we dare to recapture the spirit of the Christian home? Will we have the courage to assume our respective roles as mothers and fathers? Will we follow after God’s plan as revealed in the Scriptures? It is never too late to do the right thing.

 

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The Father of History

Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, contemporary of Socrates, and dubbed “The Father of History” by Cicero, made the following observation: “Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.”

Arguably the most dedicated and effective missionary in the history of the Lord’s church, the apostle Paul wrote his dear brethren at Philippi from a Roman prison, saying, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12–14).

Endurance is the state of persevering. Endurance is staying under the load when others have given up the burden. It is remaining behind in fearful circumstances when all others have fled. It is continuing on no matter what obstacles or hardships stand in the way. Endurance is not the exciting, flash-in-the-pan virtue that many are seeking. It is a daily discipline requiring earnest trust and devotion.

Following Jesus requires endurance to the end. There is no drop-off point, time off for good behavior, or retirement. We must follow Jesus all the way or we have betrayed the trust that makes us His. In following Jesus, there is “great reward”. But, we must “not throw away our confidence” (Hb. 10:35). In the next verse, the inspired author goes on to say, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”

As Jesus “endured such hostility by sinners against Himself”, stretching forward to complete His mission, saying, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30); so we must “run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…who…endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hb. 12:1-3). The closer to the end, the more earnestly we must strive to carry out Christ’s purpose in our lives. Because of that coming Day, we must “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

 

written by Glenn Elliot

Singing

Singing

 

Due to the floors being redone at Barry church, we met at our house Wednesday night. We were in the living room sitting in a big circle. The adults were in chairs. The children were inside the circle sitting on the floor. We started out singing songs. The intent was to have a Bible study. We all enjoyed the singing so much that we kept on singing. I’ll continue in that study next week. Singing is that way. Once you start, you don’t want to stop. In fact, that is just what we did. We usually stop class around 8, but kept on singing till around 8:30.

 

Have you sung lately? Have you had times where you just wanted to keep on singing? Have you been singing praises to God? Singing has a special power. I know that once every body else left, the children and I were still singing songs. We thought of some church songs, and then some older country songs we used to watch on YouTube (“Will the Circle be Unbroken?”, “Sixteen Tons”, and “The Battle of New Orleans” to name a few.) That got us thinking of even more songs. Before I knew it, Gretchen said, “If you ever want them to calm down to go to bed, you better stop singing.” It was getting late. So I decided I better let them calm down.

 

The next day was the music program at the school. There were even more songs. The school children had worked hard on their songs. They did such a good job. There were several children who were so excited they couldn’t keep still. My youngest was one of them. When, we got home Thursday night, Abigail was humming one of the songs that we had sung in the living room with the church group Wednesday night. Her humming made my heart feel good.

 

If you know me well, you know that there is typically a song playing in my head. That song may be the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” that Abigail was humming Thursday as we went to bed. It may be “Let It Be” as the school children sang at the music program. Or it may be the last Springsteen song I heard in my car, “The River” in case you were wondering. Don’t limit your singing of praise to worship times. This carries over to your everyday life. I’m sure it’s not every song in your head. Hopefully, some of the songs in your head through the week are praises to God. “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.” (Psalm 47:6 NIV)

 

written by: Jimmy Hodges

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Try a Little Kindness

Try a Little Kindness

 

Mrs. Roudebush was my elementary music teacher. She played the piano, and taught us many songs through those years. Some were folk songs like “The Erie Canal”. Others were contemporary songs. One of those songs was “Try a Little Kindness”. I still remember the chorus. “You got to try a little kindness. Yes show a little kindness. Just shine your light for everyone to see. And if you try a little kindness, then you’ll overlook the blindness of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.”

 

Jesus’s name was never used. Scripture was never quoted. Still I could see how this song connected to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus told us to let our light shine so that people would see our good deeds and glorify God (Matthew 5:16). He talked about people who had a beam in their own eye but got on to others about a speck in another’s eye. The kinder we were the more apt we would be to overlook the faults of others (Matthew 7:3). I asked my mom if this was a religious song. I learned it was not. It was actually a song originally recorded by Glen Campbell about 10 before I learned it.

 

I look around me now and the song is still true today – “Try a Little Kindness”. The message of Jesus rings even louder. We need more kindness! We hear the world and national news, and there is all this fussing and fighting. I see the posts on Facebook. If someone is from another political party or has an idea different from yours, watch out! The comments will be vicious. There is a growing tendency to insulate oneself with the thinking that is the same as yours. So you will always think you are right. Then, there is the fussing and fighting at the local level that fills the small town newspapers. Yes, we could use more kindness in the Middle East. We could also use more kindness right here in Pike County. Why don’t you give it a try? Be kind. It doesn’t mean you are a pushover. It doesn’t mean that you are letting everyone else have his or her way. It means you are trying to treat others decently. God made mankind in his image. You are trying to treat others with dignity, even if they are acting undignified at the moment. God still made him. God still made her. You have a choice. Choose to be kind.

 

written by: Jimmy Hodges

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I’m Busy!

“I’m busy,” is a refrain heard over and over again. The children are busy in school, and sports, and all the other activities. The parents are busy working to provide for their families and keep the children involved in all these activities. The grandparents are busy going to doctor’s appointments, being substitute baby sitters by day, and attending the grandchildren’s activities at night. Everyone is busy!

 

Here is the catch. So many times, it is too easy to leave God out of your busy schedule. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Make sure that God is a regular part of your life.

 

Larry Crane had a song in the 90’s that sang, “Leave a little time for peace. Leave a little time for sadness. Leave a little time to see what you can see. Just leave a little time for me.” (I’ll be surprised if anyone other than Clint has heard this song.) Too often, that is people’s view of God. “I’ll leave a little time for him.” But then, the first thing that gets cut is God time. That time may be prayer time, Bible reading time, or getting together with the saints to worship him, or all the above.

 

If you have been operating by the “leave a little time for me” policy, change your ways today. God wants us to seek him first. Start your week off on the right foot by coming to worship him this Sunday. Get your day started on the right key by saying a prayer to him. Get your mind in the right frame by quoting or reading one passage of scripture as you get ready for the day. We are all busy people. It is too easy to put God on the back burner. Make time for him.

 

written by: Jimmy Hodges

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