Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Character: The Essential Quality of Leadership

Posted on: March 19th, 2023

He saw it happen but somehow it didn’t register in his mind. The peanut butter was in the cart, but somehow it never made it to the conveyor belt that carried it by the cashier. The bag boy just picked it up, unpaid for, and put it in the paper sack. And a few seconds later everyone was out the door, into the car, and headed down the street toward home. Just outside the parking lot, the man realized what had happened. He checked the ticket to make sure and, sure enough, he had not paid for the peanut butter. This presented a character test. What does he do? Likely no one even saw it happen. He’s certain that the cashier didn’t see it. Even the bag boy probably didn’t realize the mistake he had made. But the man did. What to do?

Option one: Don’t think about it any more. Carry the peanut butter home and make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, eat, drink your milk, and enjoy. It’s not a great expense. The store will never miss the inventory. More than one jar of peanut butter has been destroyed on the floor. It was as much their mistake as yours. And the things are over-priced anyway. They call it rationalization.

Option two: (and the right one): Turn the car and the restless kids around. Explain to them why you have to go back to the store. Listen to their moans. Go into the store slightly embarrassed. Explain to the cashier what had happened. Pay for the peanut butter. And go home to eat (and sleep) with a clear conscience.

That’s a lot of fuss over one small jar of peanut butter, you say? Maybe so. But the peanut butter is not the real issue here. The issue is character. Integrity. Honesty. Jesus said, “He who if faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10). If a person would, however innocently it may occur, take a jar of peanut butter without paying for it, you certainly couldn’t trust him with the company store. Integrity has no price tag, whether small or great.

I once read that character is what you are when no one is looking. I like that. It’s first an issue within you. It is how and what you decide that you are going to be. It is the principle by which you live. And, in another sense, you either or a person of character or you are not. And you are the one who decides.

I wouldn’t take anything for the lesson I taught my children when I turned around and carried that peanut butter back into the story to pay for it. Actually, I couldn’t do anything else at the time. But this was an opportunity to state in unmistakable terms something about the kind of person I wanted to be … and it said something to them about the kind of person I wanted to be … and it said something to them about the kind of person I wanted them to be. I also like the impression it made upon that cashier. I didn’t know her. But I think I made her day. I have often wondered if , in her quiet and meditative moments, she ever recalls the men who returned to pay for the peanut butter?

Now, lest you think that relating this is self-righteous on my part, I want you to know that I have probably, in my own spiritual weakness, failed more character tests than I have passed. But I did pass this one. And there’ll be another.

I have written this for the purpose of provoking your mind to think about character. What it is, and its importance as we discuss the topic of leadership whether religious or civil. Character is the essential foundation of good leadership. It is the indispensable quality of a good role model.
by Jim Deason – via The Jackson Drive Reporter, Nov. 15, 2009

Reflections of the Psalms – Psalms 87

Posted on: March 12th, 2023

In the first part of this short psalm, or song, the writer praised Jerusalem. For the nation of Israel, Jerusalem was special, because it was within the walls of Jerusalem that the Lord God had chosen to dwell with His people in His temple. The words “holy mountain” and “Zion” were descriptions of Jerusalem.

The praise was for a physical location, because the covenant God had made with Israel was a physical covenant. The people were promised land and children. The signs and symbols of that covenant were physical in nature. Faith was joined to sight. The temple could be seen and touched, the city physically existed, the growing population was tangible proof of God’s promise to Abraham. All of these were essential to the faith of Israel.

From the first words of praise, the psalmist expanded the picture to consider other nations as well. In verse 4, the word “Rahab” was a poetic name for Egypt. Notice that all the historic enemies of Israel would eventually acknowledge the Lord. The psalmist could see that one day, all nations would accept Jerusalem as a special place.

In verses 6 and 7, the message was that the Lord would designate, or set apart, those who are HIS people. Throughout the Old Testament scriptures the message was stated that God would know, protect and accept His people.

In arid lands, water was survival and a source wealth. Without water, a person could not hope to survive. The discovery of water was good news and great blessings. For the Israelites, their survival and wealth was found in God. Eventually, others would realize that their own survival and salvation would come from the true headwaters of life – the Living God.

For the Christian, the imagery in this psalm carries a double meaning. Israel’s hope was a physical hope. But for every promise within this psalm, the Christian can say, “If Israel was blessed in such a way, how much GREATER is my blessings?!” Jerusalem is special for a different reason. Jesus Christ died there and was resurrected there. Throughout the New Testament scriptures, Jerusalem (Zion) is a symbol of the NEW covenant established through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:18-24). Where Israel had a physical temple, the church is the temple of God. The world is hostile, but will be forced to acknowledge the good done, the special place of God’s family. If Sod’s people are known, God’s CHILDREN are certainly known by their Father. If Israel looked to water for survival, Christians look to the “living water” which flows into every Christian.

Psalm 87 is a song of praise and reassurance of the care and promises of God. What a blessed assurance Christians have through Jesus Christ – Lord, King and Savior!

God’s Completed Revelation

Posted on: March 5th, 2023

I have often wondered what it was like to live in the Garden of Eden, be challenged to build an ark, or be told to leave my homeland and family, and journey to a place I knew not. What would it have been like to live in Moses’ sandals; to see a burning bush not consumed by fire, then be told to return to Egypt and demand the release of God’s people from an evil Pharaoh? What was it like to see the Red Sea parted, to be saved by God’s Power, only to complain and rebel against the Almighty?

What would it have been like to be at Jericho “when the walls came tumbling down”? Israel was warned to love God and keep His commandments, and yet, they did not. Their rebellion brought on God’s punishment and when they repented, He raised up judges to deliver them. They defied Him again by demanding a king to rule over them. We can read about the united kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon and the mistakes each ruler made. Then came the divided kingdom, the kings of Judah and Israel, and how each nation rebelled against God. We know about the prophets who encouraged faithfulness and warned about judgment.

If it were possible to go back in time, just once, to see history unfold, I would choose to see our LORD’s ministry, to hear Him speak in a way that was described as, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” While Christ was a master teacher in so many ways, I believe it was His message that was unlike anything people had heard before. He made fantastic and unimaginable claims about Himself and His mission, all of which were backed up by miracles. While there is much about our LORD’s life not recorded, the Gospels reveal what we need to know Him.

What was it like to be in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and to hear the first gospel message, or to be scattered abroad preaching the word? I think it would have been amazing to witness Paul’s ministry, but then saddening to see the hardships and difficulties associated with his efforts. Men of inspiration wrote to various churches and individuals to encourage, buildup, and admonish when needed. Christians were reminded to be hopeful and remain faithful in their service.

Among other things, the Bible is an historical account of mankind, with bits and pieces revealed as God intended. Each person lives only a moment in time and cannot really know what it was like back then or what it will be like in the future. From what we know, God did not tell Adam and Eve about Abraham, and Abraham did not know about Moses, and Moses did not know David, and you get the picture.

In whatever time a person lived, God revealed what people needed to know. Many promises and prophecies were given, along with the details of what God wanted from people at a particular time. By the end of the first century AD, God had completed His revelation to man. Nothing more will be given by way of instruction or promises. We have the completed Word of God.

I am sure that God’s Word continues to live and that literal translations reveal exactly what He wants us to know. There is an abundance of testimony and evidence supporting faith in God revelation. Sadly, many are losing confidence in Bible translations, and they are abandoning its message and God ‘s will. I am reminded, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. It is a good time to be living, as it has always been.

“We Are Able!”

Posted on: February 26th, 2023

The twelve spies sent into Canaan had all seen the same land, the same cities and the same people —yet only two had confidence that they could conquer its inhabitants. Caleb said, “…Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men that went up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Num. 13:30,31). Obviously, it was what was in the spies, not Canaan, that made the big difference in their reports.

As God’s people bound for another promised land, we find our journey can likewise be affected by our attitudes toward obstacles and opposition. All too often we find our progress impeded with the “grasshopper” complex that says, “We are not able”; “We can’t do it!” To be sure, we must be practical and realistic — but these must never become disguises to hide a fearful and cowardly disposition. Perhaps “we can’t do it” because we just don’t want to — or, because we are not willing to put forth the effort or expense. Any number of different “grasshopper” motives may be responsible for our “wilderness wanderings” and lack of accomplishment. When this is allowed, we become our own worst enemies.

For this reason the confidence of Caleb is still needful among God’s people! —the kind that says, “We are able!” For example, in spite of all reports and excuses to the contrary, we are able to grow as a church. True, we will have opposition from within and without but, remember, that was the environment in which the early church had its greatest growth! Even when we have an unimpressive meeting place in a poor location; even if we don’t have all that many young people; and even if some may not want the truth, we can still have some growth if we will it and work at it.

To conclude otherwise is practically the guarantee of decadence. “We are not able” is a fitting epitaph for many a dead church.

A similar and equally discouraging report often heard in the camp of God’s people is that “we are not able” to do personal evangelism. Yes, we know the value of a soul (Matt. 16:26). We know the gospel is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16). We know the fate of the lost (1 Thes. 1:9F). And we know God looks to His people (faithful men to teach others (2 Tim. 2:2). Yet, for some inexplicable reason many (if not most) Christians are not lifting a finger to help others to the promised land! We could not ask for more favorable conditions in which to contact and teach others and to spread the gospel! — yet, “We are not able”. WHY? Unprepared? Unconcerned? Too busy? We need desperately to face up to why we are not involving ourselves in this most urgent and important work! We can do something to help save the lost! We are able!

Finally, we are still able to have good gospel meetings. It is discouraging to hear reports to the contrary. We hear, “they won’t work”, but the problem is usually that we won’t work! When the gospel is preached and received into good hearts, only good can result (Lk. 8:15). How we need Caleb’s confidence!

The Old Paths

Posted on: February 19th, 2023

The time Jeremiah the prophet lived upon the earth was a time of apostasy from God; a time when those who pretended to be God’s people had followed after strange gods and false worship. Their lives were full of hypocrisy and their hearts full of evil thoughts. But let the ancient prophet himself describe the conditions which he met as he attempted to uphold the word of God’s truth.

“Their transgressions are many and their backslidings have increased. How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in harlots’ houses.” (Jer. 5:6-8)

People of today have forgotten God and all that pertains to godliness. We should strive to walk in the old paths as Jeremiah asked Israel to do. (Jer. 6:16) The churches of today have compromised with the world. They have turned their precincts into a place of mushy book reviews, little pink teas, and gambling of various kinds.

We must return to God and follow the “old paths”. The church of Christ endeavors to do this by seeking a restoration of New Testament Christianity.

My dad was going through some “OLD” bulletins and articles, and came across some that he had authored. The preceding article was one of those and it was written when he preached for the Westside congregation in Phoenix, Arizona. It was dated September 23, 1956, which means he penned these words about ten months before my birth and adoption by him and mom (Lois Starling). My family is very blessed to still have dad around, he is ninety-seven years old and still does pretty well for his age.

I chose the one about “Old Paths” because it demonstrates a consistent problem between God and man. While God, the Creator, has the absolute right to govern man, man routinely turns his back on God. Apostasy, false worship, and hypocrisy creep into man’s service due to a rebellious spirit. People who should know better often backslid and forsake the Almighty LORD.

The very points my father made some 67 years ago, were based on the “Old Paths” mentioned by Jeremiah, and the prophet was encouraging the people of his day to go back to the “Old Paths” of an earlier Israel, a time when the people were more faithful to God.

We need to be teaching the same message today. People are still forsaking the “Old Paths”, but now it is the teaching of the New Testament. Warnings upon warnings were given by Christ and the inspired teachers of the Lord’s Family. Specific dangers and details were revealed, and yet Christians left the “Old Paths” of respecting Divine authority. (Rev. 22:18-19) The early church had its own problems, with some endanger of loosing their relationship with Christ. (Rev. 2 &3)

If we have forsaken the “Old Paths” of the gospel message, we need to return. It is the true gospel message that saves those who submit. (Rom. 1:16-17). It is not too late, but some day it will be. Just as time ran out on Judah during Jeremiah’s day, so it will someday for us.

Easy Installation

Posted on: February 12th, 2023

A few years ago, after putting up with a leaking kitchen faucet for several months, I decided it was time to do some repair work. I found a new set of faucets at the local hardware store. The package promised “Easy installation—no tools needed to install.” While that statement was true, they failed to mention you need a basin wrench, vise grips and an air hammer to remove the old faucets. It took three hours to remove the old set, and only ten minutes to install the new one.

The manufacturer who promised “easy installation” assumed you had a kitchen sink, but lacked faucets. The instructions did not even mention that you had to remove the old set first (I figured that out all by myself).

The whole mess under the kitchen sink reminded me of some of the “positive preachers” among us. Their message is just fine if the audience is composed of people who were raised on a desert island.

Every audience I ever addressed had some folks who were brought up in denominationalism. While I would rather preach about heaven, I always felt compelled to “put all the cards on the table” first. It would be much easier to put on a Dale Carnegie “smiley face” and pretend everything is okay. Such would be a neglect of duty.

When Peter preached the first gospel sermon he undoubtedly offended many religious individuals. He accused them of killing the Son of God (Acts 2:23). He could have tried to gain their confidence by “fair words” and later preached what they needed to hear. But, what would have happened if some of these people had died before Peter got around to proclaiming the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)?

When I know people in the audience have never heard the gospel plan of salvation, I make sure they hear it before I’m done. I have never apologized for this. Those who want the truth will not be offended by plain preaching. In Acts seven, Stephen preached nearly the same sermon Peter did in Acts two. The men in Stephen’s audience were “cut to the heart” (Acts 7:54). But, because their hearts were hardened by sin, they decided to kill this faithful preacher of the word of God.

If I were to preach to a group of Catholics, they might enjoy a good lesson about the errors of Islam. But, a sermon on the one true church would be more in order. If someone could give me a guarantee that death would not come to any of us for several years, I might “build up” to a lesson on the church. In leu of such guarantees, I will continue to preach what I believe the audience needs.
Several years ago I put a small sign on the pulpit to remind me of the apostle Paul. I do not recall where I borrowed the quote, but it simply said, “The apostle Paul—He preached as though he’d never preach again, a dying man to dying men.”

Paul reminded the church at Corinth that his speech and preaching was not with “persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4, 5).

Timothy was warned the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine, but would “turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:4). Such men are alive today. Despite the desires of some, we need preachers who will “be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, (and) do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5).

David Padfield
The Church Of Christ In Zion, Illinois

As For Me and My House

Posted on: February 5th, 2023

Joshua had taken the Israelites as far as he could go.  He confessed that he was “old, advanced in years” (Josh. 23:2) and “going the way of all the earth” (23:14).  He had served his time and purpose, leading the conquest across the Jordan into Canaan. But he knew his end was near.
     One of his last acts of service to Israel was to gather them at Shechem for a farewell address (24:1).  This was the same site where God promised Abraham the land (Gen. 12:6-7), where Jacob put away the foreign gods of his family (Gen. 35:1-4), where Jacob’s bones were later buried after the exodus (Josh. 24:32).  How appropriate that on this same stage, Joshua made the statement that ought to be written in every heart and home, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:15).
     Good homes are not a matter of chance; they are a matter of choice.  “Choose for yourselves” indicates that if you want a godly family, you’re going to have to make some decisions along the way.  A household that takes the approach of “let’s just try this and see if it works” is building on a foundation of sand.  It is inviting failure from the start.
     We certainly have no trouble making decisions when it comes to the wedding ceremony.  We choose the right place, the right flowers, the right music.  But all too often, we do so with little or no thought as to what kind of home we will have once the honeymoon is over.
     “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  What choices will you make concerning you and your house?
     Will you decide to let the Lord in?  It amazes me how people try to divorce God from the home.  A fellow preacher was once asked by a family member who was not a Christian to perform their wedding ceremony.  Their only request: “we don’t want you to say anything about God during the service.”  For obvious reasons, he refused.
     God is the creator of the home.  It is not a human invention.  It is not a secular creation.  It is a divine relationship crafted in the mind of man’s Creator (Gen. 2:18-25).  It was God who saw that it was not good for man to dwell alone.  It was God who fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken out of Adam.  It was God who joined them together to become one flesh. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (127:1).  Choose this for your house.  It won’t happen by chance.
Will you decide to value family values?  Some choices we make are on the individual level; “as for me.”   But some choices effect the whole family; “as for me and my house.”  Joshua, the military leader of a nation, did not neglect his primary responsibility as a husband and father.  Neither did he send his family ahead or leave them behind but vowed that they would serve the Lord together.
     When you don’t value the owner’s manual for the home, you neglect the important and necessary roles given to the family (Eph. 5:22–6:4).  Each member has their own decisions that must be made.  Husbands are to see the worthiness of their wives and choose to love them as Christ loved His church.  Wives are to recognize the authority of their husbands and submit to them as the spiritual head of the house.  Children are to appreciate the wisdom and experience of their parents and decide to honor and obey them.  Fathers are to treasure the young souls entrusted to them and show them the way home to the Father.
     We serve the Lord when we serve in the place we have been assigned.  When each person values their part, it makes for a happy home.  You can’t put a price tag on that.
     Will you decide to make home improvement a priority?  “Choose for yourselves today.”  Joshua certainly understood that time was of the essence in his own situation.  But that same urgency extends to every home of every generation.
     Making the home what it ought to be takes time and hard work.  And it comes by first choosing to place family matters over every other household chore.  If the time to do that is not right now, when will the moment come?  When there is no communication left in the marriage?  When the kids are out of the house and raising their own families?  If you keep waiting for a good time to bring it up, you might miss the door of opportunity.  Choose today.  No one will do it for you.
     What legacy will you leave your family when you go the way of all the earth?  Let it be your decision to serve the Lord, with hopes that they will make the same choice both for them and for their own house.

Chain Reaction

Posted on: January 29th, 2023

In Acts 16:20 , Paul and Silas have just faced a crowd, that rose up against them and beat them, for proclaiming customs not like those of the their own. The chief magistrates then tore off their robes, only adding to the humiliation, and ordered the chief jailer to guard them securely.   He received this command and threw them into the inner prison, fastening their feet into stocks. Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Let us take a moment to pause there. Take a moment to think of our own lives.  Today we face our own onslaught of daily struggles and difficulties, but in all honesty, our modern day trials pale in comparison to the pain and anguish that Paul and Silas had to deal with.  These men not only kept the faith, but demonstrated it outwardly; praying and singing to God.  We will continue to examine the chain of events set off by their faith in verse 26 and following.
Suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. And when the jailer had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!” And he called for the lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour in the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household (Acts 16: 26-33).
As written in verse 33, the jailer and ALL his household were baptized.  If only we could know how many souls were saved that night; all because Paul and Silas relied on their faith, and demonstrated joy and praise to God while in prison, under mental duress and physical suffering. 
Each day every single one of us wakes up with our own mountain to climb, whether it be a stressful job, financial strain, grief, illness, marital strife, challenges with trying to build a Christian home in a sinful world; the list goes on. Insert your problems here.  We must still walk in Faith. Faith that God is on his throne and will see us through the steepest summits and scariest descents.
God used Paul and Silas’ extreme adversity to help spread the Gospel.  The jailer went from contemplating taking his own life to trembling at their feet, asking what he must do to be saved, all because Paul and Silas chose to worship and praise God in ALL circumstances.  This brings to mind another verse written by Paul, Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”   We can use this scripture as motivation to find contentment in the daily grind of life.  Finding contentment in the mundane often leads your mind to think on things in a more spiritual manner, illuminating the blessings God has placed before you. Paul again extends his wisdom in Colossians 3 urging them to “keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
You never know when a seemingly ordinary interaction with someone may lead to a chain reaction of not only saving one soul, but perhaps a soul and their entire household.   Paul and Silas were not consumed with thought about their own well being; they submitted themselves to God, and praised his name. I can personally admit that I often ease into my day focused on my own challenges, my busy schedule, and my own family.  It takes a concerted effort to “take off” daily self- mindedness and see the needs of others and opportunities God is setting before us. 
Three Simple Ways We Can Demonstrate Our Faith Daily:
Put on the Word – Start off right by setting your mind right.
“Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things
that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).
Share the Word – Don’t be afraid to act on an opportunity to turn conversation to God.  “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel” (Rom. 1:16).
Be the Word – Exemplify God in your daily actions. “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27)
We must strive to demonstrate faith in all circumstances, and perhaps, we might just turn one everyday moment into a chain reaction of obedience and generations of souls saved.

The Chameleon Syndrome

Posted on: January 22nd, 2023

Chameleons are interesting little lizards.  We have them on our deck all the time.  They live in the plants.  When Norma waters, they dart in and out of the greenery as if they don’t want a drop to fall on them.  They’re hard to see because they are the same greenish color as the plants.  Sometimes you see them sunning on the deck.  When they do, they become, by some natural instinct, the same dingy brown color as the board on which they are reposed.  It’s an amazing ability.  Only those reptiles of the family of the chamaeleonidae can do it, I am told.

I have no inclination toward herpetology, but it seems to me that those who do so have made a mistake here.  There’s another animal which is disposed to change colors in accordance with its surroundings.  It’s man. 

Just like the chameleon, man has this ability to look just like what is round about him.  There is, in fact, a very strong pressure to conform.  Most of us struggle, trying to resist the temptation to look like the world, trying to maintain our true colors.  As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green.” Especially when everything around you cries out for you to adapt.

There’s a bit of hypocrisy in calling yourself a Christian and complying with the world at the same time.  It’s hard to spot a Christian when he talks just like world.  It’s hard to know that a young lady is devoted to higher ideals when her dress is the same provocative attire as the rest of society.  And you just never would figure out that a fellow’s a Christian when he frequents the same haunts as those who profess no allegiance to Christ.  And that’s what hypocrisy is–play acting.  It’s pretending to be something you are not.  It’s putting on a different uniform, changing colors to fit the occasion.  James (4:4) refers to those who would practice such duplicity as “adulterers and adulteresses.” 

But there’s another side to this business of the chameleon syndrome it seems to me.  There are those among us who have the ability to change colors on Sundays–and maybe on Wednesday nights.  They look like us.  They use the same terminology, even have the same way of pronouncing things.  They seem to have the same convictions about the church and its work.  They know all the right names, can cite all the present issues, can even name some of the prominent preachers among their list of friends.  But deep down, they are not of us.  They just look like us.  Their color changes back on Monday.

God warned us that we should be careful to not let the world draw us away.  “And be not conformed to this world,” He says (Rom. 12:2), a sure indication that there is a magnetism about our environs.  In Colossians 3:1 we are told to “set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”  And in I Jno. 2:15, “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”  The world wants us, that’s for sure.  God knew it would.  

It’s a difficult assignment, but we must show our true colors at all times (I Pet. 3:15).  We cannot serve God and mammon at once (Matt. 6:24).  The true Christian is the constant Christian, and his constancy is not determined by externalities, nor by circumstances, but by faith.  He reasons by that faith.  That faith is consistent and continual.  He will be who he is regardless of the situation.

The chameleon is fitted with this interesting ability to change colors in order to protect himself.  If we’re not careful, we’ll do the same thing:  in order to avoid the pressures of the world–to keep from being uncomfortable–we’ll adapt to our surroundings.

Good Works

Posted on: January 15th, 2023

“What’s the Least I Can Do?” (And Still Get to Heaven)

            Imagine a preacher and a congregation coming together to talk about working together and everything seems to be going great.  They agree doctrinally, they genuinely like one another as people, and they both have a similar zeal and vision for the future.  As everyone is getting ready to pack things up for the night and head home to a bright new future together the preacher says, “I have just one more question.  What’s the least amount of work I need to do here and still be supported?  What are we talking; one, two sermons a week, a Bible class, maybe a bulletin.  What’s the least I need to do for y’all to be happy with me?”  Immediately, I think we could see and agree that the problem is not so much the question as it is the attitude behind the question.
            It’s a preposterous question that we know no one would actually ever ask; right?  The very concept of someone wanting to do the “least amount of work possible” is oftentimes even shameful in our society.  And yet, while sometimes people may not ask the question out loud, we can observe them routinely asking the question through their behavior.  People who seem to constantly/continuously “do” the least possible.  The least they believe to be necessary.  Consider the concept in a few relationships.
            Work – The person who shows up late, complains about their job, wants to always go home early, and yet they know they need the job and they know they have to work to pay the bills, but they aren’t going to give their most.  They seem to always be straddling that fine line of doing the absolute least they can do and yet still be employed.
            Marriage – What about the spouse that, yes, they don’t drink, or curse, or do drugs, or are abusive, and don’t cheat – all of these things they realize could lead to the destruction of their marriage, but at the same time they do not love, listen, forgive, participate in the marriage the way they truly should?  They seem to always be seeking to give the least they can to the marriage but still remain married.
            Parents – What about parents who provide a home for their children but don’t engage their children spiritually? They pay for stuff and take their kids places but aren’t truly involved in “raising” (training) them?
            Children – What about children who make it their job to make their parents’ lives difficult? Children who only call on birthdays and holidays? Children who do the least amount of work they can possibly get away with and still be in good standing with their parents.
            Time and time again we observe people’s actions in these various relationships and identify people who through their actions are saying “What’s the least I can do in this relationship and still have it?” But now, what has God said about all of these?
            Children – “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well- pleasing in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)  When are children to honor and obey their parents? Always, and in all ways.  That’s what obedience is. (Jeremiah 35:10&18)
            Parents – “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
            Marriage – “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. “ (Ephesians 5:22)  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5:25)
            Work – “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Colossians 3:23) (Of course, this assumes you would work hard for the Lord.)
            There is a common thread through each of these relationships and that is that the minimum effort/work God expects of us is our maximum.  It is no different when it comes to our relationship with Him.  “What’s the least I can do and still go to heaven?” There’s actually a verse that tells us that. “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH” (Mark 12:30).  God has given us His everything, and He expects everything from us as well.  Let’s work to love God and proclaim it through good and godly attitude and actions.
            “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21)

David Osteen