Sunday Morning ONLY


What Does The “Sunday Morning Only” Christian Miss?
Neal Pollard


It is an ecclectic club. Some of its members have only ever come one service per week, whose perceivable spiritual progress has been hard to measure. Others, perhaps more tragically, have waned from greater faithfulness in the past to the more tepid attitude toward the sacred assemblies at which God is always present. The Bible makes it clear that those who fail to put Christ first have honored and idolized something above Him. That is an unenviable position in which to find oneself. Yet, these who neglect faithful attendance deprive themselves of so much.

  • They miss information. Bible classes, sermons, table talks, and mid-week devotional talks all help build our knowledge and strengthen our conviction in what we already know is true. This information is like a flashlight for the journey in a dark, dark world (Ps. 119:105). If we take heed to that word, we do well (2 Pet. 1:19). To identify the enemy, you must know all about him.

  • They miss association. The people dearest to God are there. Christ, our Savior, friend, older brother, King, Shepherd, Door, and Mediator, is there. The earliest Christians were steadfast in fellowship with each other, a fellowship contextually shown to be spiritual in nature (Acts 2:42). Paul reminds us we should prefer one another, something we fail to show when we give preference to some other place and event (Rom. 12:10).

  • They miss inspiration. We need our spirits lifted. Others need us to lift their spirits, too (cf. Phil. 2:3-4). In worship we can get our spiritual batteries charged. Coming together helps us each face the world. We are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Eph. 4:23-24). The assemblies aid us in this.

  • They miss provocation. Often, we do things we know we should not do. As such, we need to be provoked or stimulated to do what we already know is right (Heb. 10:24). Sunday-morning-only Christians come nowhere close to obeying Hebrews 3:13 and the admonition to exhort one another daily. At the assemblies, we lift each other up and hold each other’s hands in our common life (cf. 1 Thess. 5:14)

  • They miss edification. We have a responsibility to be here and build up other Christians. Remember, love edifies (1 Cor. 8:1). You cannot do that as well from a remote location. We are to use our abilities to help perfect the saints, to work in ministry, and to build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). That’s a “done together” activity in which those withholding their presence cannot engage.

  • They miss immunization. The world is infected with sin and it is often hard to live for Christ (cf., 1 John 5:19). We can and do “inject” ourselves with strength at every service, an injection that will help us fight off the cancer of sin (cf. Jer. 7:18). Attending all the services strengthens our spiritual health (Ps. 42:11). Who thinks he or she is better equipped to fight alone than with the collective help of the church as well as the special strength available as by God’s design when we assemble together?

  • They miss jubilation. There is nothing as seemingly miserable as the Christian who feels that it is his “duty” to come to at least one service a week and comes out of such a compunction (look at David–Ps. 122:1). It is a shame that “S-M-O” Christians miss the excitement of baptisms and others who come forward for prayers, the encouragement of seeing new Christians participate in worship or young people demonstrating their faith, and the example of others whose words, actions, and attitudes make us glad we are Christians. Few whose hearts and minds have been fully engaged in an assembly will walk away regretting or more depressed than when they arrived.

  • They miss obligation. We are mutually accountable (Rom. 1:14; Heb. 3:13; Col. 3:13; etc.). We are indebted to God (Rom. 8:12). We are commanded by Him to come together (Heb. 10:25). None of these obligations comes with an expiration date. We consider those who shirk their obligations to be irresponsible. What obligation outweighs the one laid upon us by the Lord?

The many, many principles of scripture lead to an unavoidable conclusion. We are to attend all the services. What is more, we should want to be together with Christ and His people at every opportunity. If we do not want this enough to make it happen, maybe something is terribly wrong with our “affections” (cf. Col. 3:1-2).

These are great thoughts, DRL.

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Oh, for the Good Old Days

OH, FOR THE GOOD OLD DAYS!
by Roger Campbell

We often hear folks express the sentiment that “the old days” were better. It seems that the older we get, the more we tend to dwell on what we consider to be the good or positive things from our past. There are others, however, who will bluntly tell you in a heartbeat that they have no desire to go back to the old days. No, sir. To such people, “the old days” meant plowing behind a horse or mule, picking cotton by hand, no indoor plumbing, and, well, you get the picture. For them, “the old days” were a far cry from being good and pleasant days.

On the other hand, we can sympathize with an elderly person that, when recovering from hip replacement surgery, reflects on the time when he was in his youth and could work in the field for ten or twelve hours, then still have the stamina to play ball or swim in the creek for a couple of hours after his work ended. To his way of thinking, his good days are behind him.

We can feel for a woman that is saddened by the reality that her siblings have all scattered into different parts of the country (or world) and they never get together, unless it is for a funeral. She fondly recalls their childhood years together. Times were not easy for them, but they made it, and having a close-knit family really helped them persevere. Now, things have changed, and they will never be the same again. It is easy to understand why she would long for what she calls “the good old days.”

Take note, though, that there are some potential dangers in the spiritual realm when it comes to longing for what we count as “the good old days.” Take, for instance, the children of Israel in Moses’ generation. Even before they crossed the Red Sea, they were spouting out words of dissatisfaction with God’s plan to deliver them from slavery and into the Land of Promise. Hear them complaining to Moses: “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:12). Later, after they left Mt. Sinai and headed toward Canaan, the Israelites stepped up their rhetoric, saying, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick” (Numbers 11:5). Basically, they were saying, “It was so much better back in Egypt. Those were the good old days!” Better in Egypt? You have got to be kidding! Being a slave was better than freedom? Being restricted in their religious activities was better than freely worshipping Jehovah once they escaped Egypt? Somebody was not thinking rationally! Rather than whine about what they thought their lives were lacking, God’s people needed to get on with the business of loving Him with all of their being (Deuteronomy 6:5).

During our six years in what was part of the former USSR, it was not uncommon to hear people express the sentiment that things were “better” before the collapse of the Soviet Union. They did not use the term “the good old days,” but that was apparently what such people felt in their hearts. It was disheartening to hear a few members of the church chime in and say that life really was better under communism. Wait a minute! Under communism, you did not enjoy the religious freedoms that you now have. How could that situation have been better?! And, during your years under communism, you had not yet obeyed the gospel. You were still lost in your sins. After communism fell and the gospel came into your country, you received that saving message and were born again. You stopped being a slave to sin and became a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:17,18). You stopped being dead and were made alive (Ephesians 2:1-5). We understand that some in the former Soviet Union, as well as other places, had more money, more buying power, and in general, in former days were better off materially speaking, but we must never lose sight of the big picture. Enjoying religious freedom and being saved from sin outshines greater material blessings any day of the week! There is no way that any child of God should think of a system that is atheistic and wedded to evolution and other human philosophies as being superior to the privilege of receiving the gospel and being blessed by it.

How about this one? “Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the church was really growing in America. Those were the good years, as far as the church is concerned. It would be great if the church could begin growing like that again.” I was not a member of the church during those two decades when the church was growing so well numerically in this country. There is no doubt that the religious climate was different then. At that time, many more people had respect for what the Bible says. That is why great numbers obeyed it when they learned its message. Yes, we, too, would like to see the church be able to enjoy great numerical growth, provided, of course, that the means of achieving additions is scriptural.

There is another aspect of “the good old days” of church growth in the USA that we must not fail to see. While it is true that the overall environment in society in the 1950’s and 1960’s was more conducive to the spread and acceptance of the gospel, according to what I have been told, it is also true that the church was different in those days from what it is in many cases today. There are two things that quickly come to mind in this regard. First of all, in general, members of the church appear to have been more knowledgeable of the Bible “back then.” That gave them confidence to open the Bible and teach it to others. Second, it is also said that in those years when the church grew extensively in our land, a major factor was the evangelistic zeal of our brothers and sisters. They knew the Bible well and were frequently making an effort to teach it to others. We cannot force the religious climate to change in this nation, but we can make a better effort to know the Book and be more aggressive and outgoing in teaching it. What do you think?

There is one more wishing-for-“the-good-old-days” scenario that we should note. A few members of the church may carefully verbalize it in some private circles, but many others share the same sentiment in their hearts. What sentiment might that be? “Before I became a Christian, I had a lot more fun. I miss those (pre-Christian) times and the things I did back then. Being a Christian has taken all the fun out of life.” The Bible says that in the Christ, we are new creatures and old things have passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). The apostle Paul counted his pre-Christian days and all that meant something to him back then as “dung” (Philippians 3:7,8). You and I ought to share the sentiments that Paul expressed.

Remember that before we obeyed the gospel, we were living in a state of corruption (2 Peter 1:4). We were dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1). We were without the God of heaven, without the Christ, and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12). It is true that sin has its pleasures (Hebrews 11:25), but having a desire to return to our old way of life and once again be what the Bible calls “our old man” (Romans 6:6) just makes no sense. Whatever we might have forsaken in order to follow Jesus, we can live without it! We do not need it. And, whatever we gave up in order to live for the Master, we need to leave it where it belongs, which is in the past, out of sight and out of mind.

As long as we are still living on the earth, the best is yet to come. Why is that? Because as long as we are still in our fleshly bodies, we have not yet departed “to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). Let us stay focused on that place that is “far better” than anything we can experience in this world. Let us all be resolved to keep pressing toward the mark (Philippians 3:14), ever grateful for the blessings and lessons learned in the past, but ever conscience of the fact that faithfulness to God and being in good standing with Him is not about what we were/did, but about who we are/do. Our greatest concern is not, “What were we,” but rather, “What are we, where are we headed, and what is our battle plan for reaching our ultimate goal?” It is okay for us to take time to enjoy precious memories of the old days, but we must go past our reminiscing and accept the reality that we live in the present, not in the past.

— Roger D. Campbell

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Selective Zeal

Selective Zeal

Zeal can’t be choosy. True zeal, the white-hot kind, covers it all.

by J. Randal Matheny

Selective hearing, especially on the part of children or husbands, is a common phenomenon. One hears what one wants to hear and ignores the rest. “Take out the trash,” is one of those phrases that gets tuned out. “Do your homework,” has to be repeated. But say, “There’s ice cream in the freezer,” and reception is crystal clear. Or proclaim that one’s best friend called and the hearer makes a beeline for the telephone.

Zeal also suffers from selectivity. Zeal is an intensity of feeling toward a person or principle. It may be a virtue or take a turn for the bad, as in envy.

Jehu exemplified selective zeal. After he was anointed king over Israel and heard the prophecy that he would destroy the family of Ahab, he systematically pursued and killed all the former king’s descendants. As he carried out his gruesome task, Jehonadab found him and joined him. Jehu told him, “Come with me and see how zealous I am for the Lord’s cause” ( 2 Kings 10:16 NET).

The new ruler exterminated the rest of Ahab’s family in Samaria and eradicated Baal worship from Israel by killing all the false god’s prophets. In his 28-year reign Jehu did well, but his zeal wasn’t as white hot as he professed. “Jehu did not repudiate the sins which Jeroboam son of Nebat had encouraged Israel to commit: the golden calves remained in Bethel and Dan” ( 2 Kings 10:29).

Thus, the inspired writer recorded that “Jehu did not carefully and wholeheartedly obey the law of the Lord God of Israel. He did not repudiate the sins which Jeroboam had encouraged Israel to commit” (v. 31).

The killing of Ahab’s family and the extermination of Baal worship helped Jehu to consolidate control over the kingdom of Israel. While God’s will agreed with Jehu’s desires, he was zealous. He was quick to act. He was thorough. He was decisive.

But when the law of God didn’t further his own purposes, Jehu relaxed. He didn’t think it a priority. Leave that for someone else to take care of. Jehu’s zeal cooled off.

Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6 to tell the religious expert the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind ( Matthew 22:37). The first commandment urges us to a zealous, intense love that gives all, obeys fully, makes every effort to please the Lord.

Our zeal cannot be selective and still please God. No giving up all ungodly relationships except that one that gives us special pleasure. No repentance from sins except that one which has its tentacles wrapped tightly around the heart. No obedience except when it becomes inconvenient. No godliness until the pressure becomes intense.

Zeal means rooting out all idolatry in the heart, putting an end to all sinful relationships, doing what is right in face of all opposition, insisting on truth when all opinions go against you.

Be warned: zeal that doesn’t pick and choose is dangerous. When Jesus cleansed the temple, the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me” ( John 2:17).

Zeal will cause you to do unpopular things, to take shocking action. And it will lead to a cross (v. 18-22).

But like the non-selective zeal of Christ, ours will erupt in resurrection on the other side. In glory for the zealous. In exaltation to the right hand of the Father for the completely obedient.

So let us not spare the horses as we race our chariots not only to Jezreel and Samaria, but to Bethel and Dan as well.

By J. Randal Matheny (28 June 2007, 05:22 AM)
SOURCE: http://www.forthright.net/decisions/selective_zeal.html

DRL

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How To Leave The Perfect Voicemail

by Brett McKay

I’m not a big fan of voicemail. I don’t mind leaving voicemail messages; I just hate having to listen to them. For some strange reason when people know their voice is being recorded, their brain short circuits. What normally would take 30 seconds to say, now takes 2 minutes.

 

I don’t mind it so much for people I know. I have to deal with them on a daily basis, so I can’t hold voicemail grudges against them. However, if someone cold calls me or it’s just an acquaintance that calls, a crappy voicemail annoys me and leaves a bad impression.

I know. It’s superficial, but I’m human. But a prospective employer or client is also human, so there’s a good chance that crappy, unclear, and long voicemails annoy them too.

So, for your consideration, here are 8 tips to help you leave the perfect voicemail and, consequently, a good impression.

  • State your name first. You would think this would be so basic that it shouldn’t even be mentioned. However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten voicemails where people go on and on and I don’t even know who’s talking to me until the very end. Pretty annoying.
  • State the purpose of your call. In as few words as possible, state why you’re calling. Is it in regards to an interview appointment? Are you following up on a previous meeting?
  • Find some common ground. If you’re cold calling someone, your voicemail is your 30 second chance to make a connection and leave a good impression. One of the best ways to make a connection in that short amount of time is mentioning a mutual acquaintance. You could also mention a shared affiliation with an organization.
  • Be brief. Don’t make you listener resent you by leaving 5 minute long messages. People are busy. Listening to 5 minute phone messages is not on the top of their priorities.
  • Leave a specific request. What do you want your listener to do? Sure, you want them to call you back, but why? To answer a question? To set up an appointment? People will appreciate it if you give them specific actions for their call back. That way they’ll know they won’t be wasting a lot of time on the call back trying to figure out what you want.
  • Leave your contact info slowly and clearly. You’ve gotten this far, don’t screw it up by muddling the very information that will allow your listener to get back to you. Go slow and be clear.
  • Consider leaving your e-mail in addition to your phone number. People like choices. Some people like to have conversations on the phone, while others prefer communicating through e-mail. You don’t know what kind of person your listener will be, so leave the option on the table. For many, e-mail correspondence is less threatening and might actually encourage them to reach out to you.
  • Be Brief. Did I mention be brief? Yeah? Make sure to do it.

How To Leave The Perfect Voicemail | The Frugal Law Student

–DRL

Seeing and Knowing

Seeing and Knowing

By Michael E. Brooks

“And Nathaniel said to him, ‘can anything good come out of
Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ Jesus saw Nathanael
coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in
whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus
answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were
under the fig tree, I saw you’” ( John 1:46-48).

It is a frequent occurrence to have an email, a letter, or a
telephone call from someone whose name may be faintly familiar, but
cannot really be placed. The immediate question is, “Do I know this
person?” Obviously I don’t know them very well, if at all. We may have
met at some point, or they may have written or called before, but no
real personal relationship yet exists. I may eventually discover that I
recognize them in the sense of placing them with an identity, or in a
particular location, but this hardly qualifies as “knowing” them.

What are the basic minimum requirements of knowing someone? Most of
us probably begin with recognition of name and face (appearance)
together. If our memories can connect the physical appearance of
someone with their basic identity, we feel a little more comfortable
claiming their acquaintance. But we also are fully aware that there is
much more to who someone is than just name and face. We still have
little or no knowledge of their thoughts, habits, character, desires,
or any of a multitude of other personality components. Such knowledge
is slowly acquired, mainly through repeated contact and interaction.

This makes Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael all the more remarkable.
Upon first meeting him, Jesus announced his identity and character. He
proclaimed Nathanael to be a genuine Israelite and, further, to be of
honest and straightforward character. As proof of the accuracy of
Jesus’ perception, Nathanael showed amazement and wonder that Jesus
could know him so well. Jesus’ explanation was simple, “I saw you.”

Three times in these verses the verb “see” is used. When Nathanael
expressed skepticism that Jesus would prove to be the Messiah, Philip
told him, ‘Come and see.’ As he approached, “Jesus saw Nathanael.” And
when Nathanael was shocked at Jesus’ knowledge of him, Jesus replied,
“I saw you.”

There is a relationship between sight and knowledge. In the legal
arena, eyewitness testimony has great weight. To the scientist,
empirical evidence (i.e., that which can be verified by the physical
senses) serves as proof of theory or hypothesis. Of these senses, none
is of greater value than sight. We all are familiar with the Missouri
slogan, “Show me,” and the common though cynical attitude, “I only
believe what I see for myself.” There is a basis of fact behind these.
We often must see something, or someone, to truly know them.

God sees us. Wherever we may be, and whoever we are, God sees and knows everything about us. David proclaimed,

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down
and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my
path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways” ( Psalm 139:1-3).

He is omniscient, because he is all-seeing and ever present. Just as
Jesus saw Nathanael before Nathanael had come to him, so he sees and
knows all other humans. We cannot escape his presence or his knowledge
( Psalm 139:7).
But this is not a threat. It is rather a great comfort and promise.
There is one who knows all our needs and cares enough to help us fill
them.

May we continuously pray as David, “Search me, O God, and know my
heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked
way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” ( Psalm 139:23-24).

By Michael Brooks (23 June 2007, 12:01 AM)

http://www.forthright.net/field_notes/seeing_and_knowing.html

DRL Note: Great Article!

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Effective Teaching

I have now uploaded a second LONGER STUDY to that section of my LemmonsAid website.

The new file is entitled: Resource Materials for Effective Teaching, and was written by my friend, Allen Webster, about 17 years ago when we were in a class together on METHODS OF TEACHING BIBLE.  Even though there are many new resources to use in teaching Bible Class today, Allen did a great job with this paper and I know it would be a help to any brother or sister who teaches Bible Class.  It is geared toward Adult classes.

To get to the LONGER STUDIES site, please CLICK HERE.

To go directly to Allen’s paper, which is in PDF format, please CLICK HERE.

–DRL

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