Christian Living RSS feed for this section

He Purposes A Crop

My wife and I pray together every morning for the members of our assembly and for a needy world as well as ourselves. It is a privilege the Lord has granted to us in these days, to engage with others in intercession and we are able to do so in a greater measure than ever before now that child rearing is long passed and increasing age has forced us into semi-retirement. We are learning that the things that happen to all as we go through the cycles of life may bring not only unwanted experiences but increased opportunities. For the Christian nothing is without purpose or meaning. F.W. Faber wrote:

“Ill that He blesses is our good, And unbless’d good is ill;
And all is right that
seems most wrong,
If it be His sweet will.

Read more

Editorial: Young Men Arise!

In designing the local church the Lord provided for the care and protection of the flock through elders. These men are also referred to as overseers (poorly translated in the KJV and NKJV as bishops) or shepherds. Overseers, elders and shepherds refer to the same person but each word emphasizes a different aspect of his work.

Elders are part of a mature fellowship of believers and was an important part of the establishing of local churches in apostolic times.1 We take this New Testament example to be our binding authority in the present day and make every effort to copy this.

It is important to notice that elders were always in a plurality in the New Testament. Wm. Hoste writes: ‘In apostolic times one church had several bishops. In Christendom one bishop has several Churches.’2 This can be substantiated by noticing the plural reference every time elders are mentioned in the New Testament.

The plurality of overseers has proven to be a blessing to the local church. The variety of age, temperament, personality, maturity and experience combine to give the flock a rich resource in the function of shepherding.  The shared responsibility enables men to continue to function year after year and avoid the mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that may overtake one man responsible for everything.

The flock is not at risk when one elder is no longer able to carry out his work as others are already in place. There is safety and security in a ‘multitude of counsellors’ (Pro. 11:14). “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Pro. 15:22). “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (Pro. 24:6). “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Today however we notice that in many assemblies few seem willing to rise to challenge of oversight work.  The reasons for this are not easy to identify but some of these might be the explanation.

It could be that some, particularly younger men, feel inadequate or unqualified for the task at hand. The qualifications of oversight are not light. A review of those qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are enough to set any man back.  No serious minded candidate for shepherd work would easily rate himself as meeting the qualifications. But those qualifications, while a necessity, were not given to potential elders to assess themselves, but to others who would identify elders. No man doing oversight work that I ever met boldly claims himself to be qualified, he leaves that for others to assess.

Perhaps another reason some are not willing to rise to the occasion of elder work is a feeling of not having sufficient time to do the work. It is a good sign when a young man thinking of oversight work has a sober assessment of the fact that it will take time and work. In the present time in Western economies the working world places big demands on working men. The technology that promises saving of time and labour seems to be running us more and more. The work day seems to be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with constant work contact. A young man considering oversight work has to make some hard decisions in perhaps foregoing big opportunities in business or career. This is not an easy decision to make and limiting one’s time in earning income is not as simple as working less hours. But accepting big responsibilities, promotions and advancements may have to be curtailed if God’s people are going to be cared for. To gain in this world and to lose out on God’s calling is the height of folly.

It is possible that in some cases assemblies have suffered with a dysfunctional group of elders. This may prevent a young man from joining such a group. In such cases the potential shepherd must be in prayer and seek the counsel of wiser believers. It may be the assembly needs some additional shepherds to correct the dysfunctional nature of the present oversight.  It will not be easy, but it may be necessary to endure some difficulties until things can be put right.

I have always tried to point out to candidates for oversight work that elders are made by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 20:28) “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  In other words, if God has made a man an elder, he really has no choice in the matter. It is not a question of deciding whether I want to be an elder, it is a question of am I going to be obedient to the call of God upon my life. This making of shepherds by the Holy Spirit is as significant as God calling a man or women to full time missionary or other service.

Young men, arise!

Endnotes

1 Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5

2 Wm. Hoste, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, John Ritchie Limited, pg. 29

Read more

Christian Fellowship – Words that Promote Fellowship

Then they that feared the Lord spoke often to one another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name” (Malachi 3:16)

Over four hundred years later the risen Christ asked two of His followers, “What manner of communications are these that you have?” (Luke 24:17). It is a question we sometimes need to ask ourselves. By offering hospitality, providing physical assistance and sharing financially, we show fellowship with other believers. Such things give evidence of the genuineness of our love and care. However it is only how we speak when with them that shows whether we know the joy to be found in conversational fellowship. That is the subject of this article.

Read more

Some Thoughts on Congregational Singing

Some time ago I was asked to write an article about singing in the church. Before I do, let me quickly give you some personal background, so you will know from what perspective I am writing. I became Christian at age 19, and for the first 20 years after my salvation attended a lively non-denominational church, where I also functioned as piano/bass player, choir director, and where at times I would lead congregational singing. Most songs we sang were contemporary choruses, many of which contained much scripture. From there my family moved on to a more traditional church, where the majority of the songs consisted of hymns, many written during the 18th and 19thcenturies. Here I also directed a choir, and have been frequently involved in worship and song-leading.

Read more

What We Ought To Do

 

If I had entitled this article “What I ought to do” you might have thought, “If he knows what he ought to do why doesn’t he quit talking about it and just do it?” If I had written “you” instead, some might have decided to bypass this article altogether. But the title reads “we” because both of us need to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit says about our privileges and responsibilities. There are things we should be doing, or doing with greater zeal. So before you turn away, think of this article as a reminder to us both. Peter’s second letter had that character. He was deeply concerned that we not only gain access to the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, but that we have an abundant entrance into it. For that reason he says, “I will always be ready to remind you of these things even though you already know them… to stir you up by way of reminder… (that) you may be able to call these things to mind… stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder”, (2 Pet. 1:12-15; 3:1).

Read more

Misplaced Loves – 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Do we really love like we should? What and how we love tells what kind of people we are. According to our text, one of the signs of the last times is the manifestation of misplaced love. God created us with a capacity to know and love Him. That was soon perverted in Eden, as Genesis 3 and 4 record, and has only gotten worse in the ensuing ages. This sinful disposition, like a cancer, cannot become something good.

Read more

Consciences in Conflict

The Disney classic “Pinocchio” popularized the saying “Let your conscience be your guide.” In a previous article we cautioned against individuals thinking that because they have peace about acting in a certain way, it is something of which God approves. We saw that, in the Scriptures, the charge to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts” is addressed to a group and not just to one person. That begs a question: What then is the value of an individual’s conscience?

Conscience is the inner voice that approves or disapproves of what you have done or are thinking of doing; it is more like a judge than a guide. The verdicts it hands down can be accurate or misleading depending on how long ago it was calibrated or tuned.

Read more

The Soul’s Warning System – Our Conscience: Romans 2:14-15

Large commercial aircraft have what is known as “A ground proximity warning system” (GPWS) that warns the pilot the plane is getting near the ground or mountains. In the late 1980’s a Colombian based airline (Avianca) was flying through the night in Spain. Suddenly a computerized voice said “pull up, pull up.” The pilot apparently ignored the warning. So a second time the voice said“pull up.”Again the pilot ignored the warning and soon after the plane crashed into the hillside killing the pilot, co-pilot, all the crew and all the passengers. The GPWS had warned of danger.

Read more

What is the meaning of the Heart in the Scriptures?

When David Livingston died on May 1, 1873 his heart was removed and buried in the African soil. He was so beloved that the Africans wanted his heart to remain in their land. His body was prepared and shipped back to England. There he was interned in Westminster Abbey.

Read more

Needed Negatives for the New Year

Many years ago there was a popular song which had as its main theme, “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” Make no mistake about it, in true Christianity the accent is definitely on the positive, and this is where it belongs in the believer’s daily life, but the negative cannot be eliminated. It is part and parcel of God’s holy Word. For example, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is gloriously positive in the avalanche of truth it unfolds to the enlightened heart, yet the negative is by no means eliminated as highlighted by several practical exhortations in 4:17-32 (eg. “walk not as other Gentiles walk,” (vs. 17); “be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (vs. 26); “let him that stole steal no more” (vs. 28); “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth” (vs. 29;) “and grieve not the Holy Spirit” (vs. 30)

Read more