||By David Diestelkamp
The anticipatory words of Jesus,
build My church…” (Mt 16:18) have lost their
luster with a
lot of people today. Some in the denominational world are fed up,
discouraged and distracted--and are quitting. Some are seeing their
churches as man-made institutions and are tiring of leaders marketing
to them as though they are consumers.
have come to expect churches to be more like non-profit organizations
and less like religious groups--they easily become dissatisfied and
move on, becoming serial quitters as they frequently shop for a group
with more amenities.
tempted by this trend. The lure of greener grass, something new and
exciting, different relationships, and less structure, lures them to
quit assembling with God’s people. And local churches feel
shrinking numbers and are tempted to respond by trying to meet
people’s perceived needs with unlawful activities and
faces an attack from people who want to be spiritual, but
want anything to do with a church. They view quitting church as
quitting organized religion, as quitting an outdated organization which
is out of touch with modern life. They want to claim to believe in a
perfect God without the hassle of having to associate with imperfect
people (Christians). They wonder if Jesus had lived today if He would
have said, “I will build my website,” or
home and read my blog.”
the broadest sense, the church is all people who have been purchased by
the blood of Christ (Eph. 20:28). Christ adds people to this number
when they obey Him and are saved (Ac. 2:38, 47). In this sense, the
church exists as an expression of the collective possession of Christ.
Those who say they want nothing to do with the church are therefore
saying they do not want to be one of the saved. Those who reject all
concepts of the church are rejecting Christ and His sacrifice for them.
However, most who reject the church will say they are leaving the
people--they want Christ, but not “organized
might be said they want to be one of the people of God, but not
physically with others who are His people.
word church is also used to describe a group of disciples in a common
location who worship and do spiritual work together (example: 1 Cor.
1:2; Phil. 1:1). Assembling with, working with, and worshipping with
other faithful disciples is Christ’s will (Heb. 10:24-25; Ac.
11:26). Disciples may choose
with which faithful disciples to assemble and work (Ac. 9:26).
But Christ expects His disciples to be “…longsuffering,
bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-3). That means the
solution to problems, conflicts, and dissatisfaction isn’t to
just leave. Resolving problems, not quitting, is to be a high priority
among disciples because what we do together as Christ’s church
glorifies Him (Eph. 3:21) and edifies each other (Eph. 4:16).
Those Who Leave
quitting must never involve or lead to quitting the Lord. It often
does. Personal desires and goals may make exchanging our souls by
quitting seem worth temporary rewards (Matt. 16:26). Frustrations,
disappointments, and problems involving our lives and other people must
not cause us to abandon Christ and His church.
Ultimately, irreconcilable differences over truth or edification may
cause us to choose to work and worship with different faithful
disciples. Unfortunately, most who leave do so because of hurt
feelings, personalities, certain doctrinal teachings, and disagreements
over matters of opinion. In the heat of problems or in the despair of
discouragement, quitting may seem an easy solution, even what is best.
However, love should unify disciples, making giving up and quitting our
relationships unimaginably painful.
Those Who Stay
Those left behind
often feel hurt, abandoned, and angry. Problems are left unresolved and
some who were involved aren’t even around to help clean them up.
Like Samuel, God has to remind them, “…they have not
rejected you, but they have rejected me” (1 Sam. 8:7). Pride must
give way to sorrow over the breaking of fellowship and the loss of a
soul if in quitting they have left the Lord.
Preachers, elders, teachers and saints would do well to do serious soul
searching when people quit. It isn’t right for people to quit,
but those who cause offenses share in the guilt (Matt. 18:7). Not every
quitter’s charge is true and not everything they are looking for
can legitimately be supplied by the church, but not all complaints are
false. “Test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21)
In the decision to
quit or stay, God is often forgotten. The whole concept of the church
is disdained because of the frailties of man. What is ignored is that
the church is a visible demonstration of the “manifold wisdom of
God” (Eph. 3:10). He adds to the number those who are being
saved, but some respond by saying, “I want to be spiritual, but
not linked to anyone else.” He gives His people other disciples
with which to work and worship so His name can be glorified and they
can be built up, but some say, “No thanks! The work required to
get along with each other isn’t worth it.” We honor God
when we value being His church.
God knows there will be those who go, “…out from us, but
they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have
continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest,
that none of them were of us” (1 Jn. 2:19). God knows some will
quit, whether they realize it or not, because they simply do not want
to be His people as He wills them to be. Continuing with God’s
people is His will and to quit His people is to quit Him.
940 N. Elmwood Drive, Aurora,
'Keepers At Home'
women are to encourage the younger women to be “keepers at
home” (Tit. 2:3-5, KJV); “workers at
“homemakers” (NKJV); “busy at
“good managers of the household” (NRSV);
their duties at home” (NET).
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon tells us the word translated
“keepers/workers at home” means,
‘the (watch or) keeper of a house’ (Sophocles,
Aris-tophanes, Pausanias, Plutarch, others). b. tropically,
‘keeping at home and taking care of household affairs,
domestic.’” The word is derived either from house +
[oikov, ergou - “workers at home”], or, house +
[koiso, ourov - “keepers at home”] (a MSS
It is clearly a word pointing to fulfilling the responsibilities of
caring for a family.
Older women who have a “healthy”
of responsibility conforming to the purpose of our redemption in Christ
(Tit. 2:1, 11-15) are to teach younger women “to
kind of woman. This would seem to include teaching them that they have
this responsibility--that it’s an honorable, God-given
responsibility, and what it entails. This would be rather difficult for
an older woman who had given her heart and life to business, civil,
social, or physical pursuits and responsibilities.
Specifics do not exclude, and this
word would not exclude a woman from working in a secular job, serving
in a political capacity, or being an athlete, but Paul instructs that
being a “homemaker” should be taught to younger women, and
here about women being taught to devote themselves to these other
pursuits (nor is that focus taught anywhere in Scripture). Has our
society--even men and women who are Christians--reversed this emphasis,
stressing and teaching the importance and skills of business, etc. and
failing to teach and emphasize the role of being “good managers
household”? And if a woman’s physical and mental energies
in other pursuits, how good a “manager” will she be of the
how many duties will go “unfulfilled”?
have become little more than “houses” to show off our
and demonstrate the level of economic status we have attained. Houses
are used as children factories where children are conceived and then
pushed out of the way so material and worldly priorities can be
pursued, rather than a place where children are nurtured in moral and
spiritual character, taught responsibility, and experience the
comforting assurance of love, peace, and security. Because of a failure
to develop and cultivate the family relationship, the stage is set for
conflict, unhappiness, discontentment, and even divorce, rather than
providing the example of commitment, selflessness, and sacrifice for
one’s family and for God, and the joys such priorities bring.
We need women who will
learn and devote themselves to the home and
thereby in time be the “older women” who will “train
the younger women”
in this God-intended role. We need men who will encourage their wives
and their daughters to be devoted to making the home all God intended
and reaping the powerful fruit that can be had from women who are
“working at home,” rather than pushing their wives and
mother into the world so they can have more “things.” And
preachers who will preach that this is God’s plan, for that is
Paul told Titus to teach in the churches on the island of Crete.
Crestline Road, Humble, TX 77396
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By Al Diestelkamp
video game system allows those of us who have abandoned most forms of
exercise to “pretend” to go bowling in our living
a virtual reality setting. Instead of lifting a heavy ball the
“bowler” uses a hand-held controller the size of a
remote and goes through the motions as if bowling a real ball. It can
be very satisfying when you end up with a better score than you ever
get at the bowling alley.
The idea is that this is better for you than other video games in that
you’re at least supposed to get up out of your easy chair to
the game. I was buying into that concept until one of my friends beat
me without ever getting out of his chair. It’s beside the
but I was also beat by a child who wasn’t big enough to lift
real bowling ball.
This convinced me that someone whose only bowling experience was with
this video game would surely be disappointed if they ever tried real
It occurred to me that many churches have developed an appealing
alternative to the real gospel of Christ--sort of a virtual gospel
(Gal. 1:6-7). With it no heavy lifting of obedience is required.
Instead of a Bible, their “controller” is a handy
“statement of faith” written by men. Those who
Wii church” are entertained, and at the same time impressed
their ability to master what they think is
After being spoiled by the hype and convenience of “Wii
gospel,” those who have never been exposed to the real gospel
Christ as revealed in the New Testament are likely to be disappointed
if they ever get around to giving it a hearing.
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P.O. Box 891,
Cortland, Illinois 60112
Our Carnal Culture of
By Andy Diestelkamp
When Paul wrote to the
Christians that he “could not speak to [them] as to spiritual
but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ,” (1 Cor. 3:1) he was
specifically referring to their calling themselves after men. However,
it is clear from the rest of Paul’s letter that the carnal
infecting that church began with the lusts of individuals (i.e., 1 Cor.
5:6). A church inevitably reflects the values of its members,
especially its leadership.
Corinthian culture was
materialistic and immoral. Most of the Christians who comprised that
church were likely products of that culture (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11).
Therefore, their fleshly inclinations, if unchecked by the spirit,
would tend to find their way into not only their personal lives, but
into the work and worship of that church.
This problem was not
unique to Corinth but was true of other first century churches. It is
just as possible for modern churches to think they are alive when, in
fact, they are dead (Rev. 3:1), or rich when, really, they are poor
(Rev. 3:17). In our culture of material affluence, the inclination of
the people, even in allegedly spiritual contexts, is to expect and
emphasize comfort in all realms: physical, aesthetic, organizational,
and even doctrinal.
is exemplified in many church buildings. It is one thing to logically
deduce from Scripture the need for a place to assemble and therein find
authority for using church funds to build structures to accommodate
such assemblies. It is another to make such buildings reflect or appeal
to our carnal culture of comfort. No, I am not suggesting that comfort
is inherently wrong, but the emphasis upon such liberty may indicate
motives that are more carnal than spiritual.
With affluence often
comes a desire for a more polished image and a professional approach to
teaching and the assembled worship. If we think about it, this is
comfort driven also. As a rule, listeners prefer to hear speakers who
have good voice quality, dynamism, excellent vocabulary, vibrant
illustrations, humorous anecdotes, and powerful visual aids. There is
nothing wrong with any of these per se, but none of them is essential
to effectively communicate the gospel. Those concerned with appearances
want “their preacher” to talk smoothly, dress smartly, and
keep it short. We are often more concerned with image and comfort than
we are with content.
Once we have done
this, it is but a short step into making it a priority to make people
feel comfortable spiritually. Again, comfort is not inherently bad, and
the Scriptures certainly provide spiritual comfort, but when
instruction and correction are needed, it is imperative that we preach
the word and not tickle ears (2 Tim 4:1-5). Let us not forget that the
word of God is described as a sword (Heb. 4:12), and people who were
converted were pricked in their hearts (Ac. 2:37). Beware buying into
the idea that conversions to Christ and spiritual growth come via
Leaving the glory of
heaven was not comfortable for Jesus. His life in the flesh was not
comfortable. Certainly, the cross was not comfortable. Therefore,
professing disciples of Jesus Christ must not think themselves above
their teacher (Matt. 10:24) and put a premium upon comfort. Indeed, we
have become soft in our culture of comfort and should give serious heed
to Jesus’ observation about how hard it is for those who are rich
(that’s us, brethren) to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Lk.
323 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764
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By Leslie Diestelkamp (1911-1995)
really a shortage of preachers of the gospel? Well, I suppose there
will never be as many as there should be who are willing to go out into
the highways and byways of the whole world proclaiming Christ. But
usually what we hear about a preacher shortage is not a consideration
of the needs of destitute fields, but it pertains to the obvious fact
that there are not enough qualified men so that each congregation here
in America can have a “full-time” preacher.
Yet I don’t believe there really is a preacher shortage.
every congregation can have the services of a capable and devoted man
in preaching the word of God. Many congregations will have to utilize
the abilities of all the Christians to run the errands, visit the sick
and do much of the personal work, but there are plenty of men who are
able to do the preaching of the word.
Many such men want to support themselves. Some do this because they
want financial remuneration comparable to other Christians so that they
can provide for the niceties of life for their families. Others do it
so that they can provide security for the later years for themselves
and their wives. But is this wrong? Surely we have not imposed an
unwritten vow of poverty upon a man just because he preaches the gospel.
One Christian was showing me the acreage and house he had recently
purchased for his retirement. When I expressed appreciation for his
wisdom and then remarked, perhaps wistfully, that I didn’t
one square foot of land anywhere he exclaimed, “Oh, well, you
don’t need it!” It took a moment of reflection for
accept his statement as a compliment. I think he meant that my
children, my brethren and my God would take care of my wife and me. And
I believe it is so, but it would surely also be right for a preacher,
if he desires, to work with his own hands to supply the necessities of
life, and at the same time using the abundance of leisure which our
modern way of life provides to study the word and to preach the gospel.
The preacher who supports himself can do effective work in many places,
and at the same time he can help congregations that are unable to
support a man. In other places he can do the local preaching while the
congregation supports a man in some destitute field. I am aware that
the Bible teaches that one who preaches the gospel may live of the
gospel (1 Cor. 9:14), and I am grateful that brethren generally are
eager to provide his necessities. Realistically, I know that many
congregations will have to be content without a full-time preacher. I
hope such brethren will not be disappointed, but that they will,
without complaint work enthusiastically with the men who support
There are plenty of full-time preachers who regularly preach to
congregations in which several men who sit and listen are just as
capable as the speaker. Why not activate these men to help fill the
supposed shortage? Indeed, there is not a real preacher shortage, but
in some cases considerable inactivity on the part of many very able men
who could be busy preaching, but are content to sit and listen to
another. In other cases there is a desire on the part of congregations
to hire a man to be a full-time administrative executive who will also
do enough visiting and personal work so that the members will feel
relieved of this obligation. Oh, yes, they will also let him preach two
or three times per week.
Indeed, if those who are able to preach will do so, and if
congregations will be willing to work with and use a faithful man who
supports himself, there will be no preacher shortage.
This article originally appeared
Magazine, November, 1968
By Al Diestelkamp
time ago, a Saturday morning was dedicated to washing the windows
(inside and out) at our house. They needed washing, and the next
afternoon we were to have many people at our house for a social
gathering. After that job was completed I proceeded to scrape and paint
the trim around the doors of our otherwise maintenance-free exterior.
was finishing up the painting, and noticing how nice it looked in
contrast to the peeling paint, I realized that visitors would not
likely take note of the effort. No one would comment about how
sparkling clean the windows were, nor how freshly white the trim
However, had we not cleaned the windows, or had I not painted the trim,
some might have noticed that these jobs hadn’t been done.
Our lives are much like that. Few will notice when we do what is right,
but many will notice when we do wrong. In reality, this should not
upset us. Our purpose in doing what is right should be to please God.
It should never be for our own glory.
Doing right is our duty, and Jesus said, “When you have done
those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are
servants. We have done what was our duty to do’”
P.O. Box 891,
Cortland, Illinois 60112
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By Matt Hennecke
A childhood accident
resulted in poet Elizabeth Barrett becoming an invalid and recluse.
Despite her isolation her early poetry drew the attention of Robert
Browning who began courting her. He eventually asked for her hand in
marriage and Elizabeth and Robert were married in 1846. But
there’s more to the story.
her youth, Elizabeth
had been watched closely by her tyrannical father. He was strict beyond
reason and attempted to prevent suitors from courting her. In fact, he
did not want any of his children to marry. As a result, Elizabeth and
Robert eloped, their wedding held in secret because of her
the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the
rest of their lives--exiled from her parents. Even though her parents
had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost
weekly she wrote them letters. Some were fairly lengthy, others short
and poetical in form. Not once did they reply.
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After ten years, Elizabeth received a large box in the mail. Inside,
she found all of her letters. Not a single one had been opened.
Elizabeth’s years of writing, her letters pleading for
reconciliation--were for naught.
Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English
literature. Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship
with Elizabeth might have been restored. These events were reported in
the Daily Walk in May 30, 1992.
What makes the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning so compelling is
that it is so similar to another story. A story that is repeated over
and over again--generation after generation.
You see, I am aware of other letters which have been written but not
read. Beautiful letters. Letters of reconciliation. Letters of hope. We
know them better as epistles. These letters, written by men, but
authored by God through the Holy Spirit have been written for our
reconciliation, for our salvation. Sadly, they often go unnoticed,
unread, unheeded. Indeed, the entire Bible, God’s Word, is a
pleading for reconciliation. What is amazing is that God is pleading
with us for reconciliation but He has done nothing wrong. We are the
ones who have gone astray (2 Peter 2:15), and yet God stoops to beg for
In Colossians 1:18-23, Paul speaking of Christ says, “it was
Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
through Him to reconcile all to Himself, having made peace through the
blood of His cross” Why? Why would God give His only begotten
for all of us who have gone astray? Paul tells us in verse 22:
“in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and
reproach.” Paul’s letter speaks of reconciliation
hope. Are you listening? What a beautiful letter. It would be a shame
if it were never read, or if read, ignored.
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