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WARNING: This article may cause discomfort or irritation to some readers
By Al Diestelkamp
suppose it’s only human nature to seek comfort in this life, and I
reckon there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing so, as long as it is
not attained by ignoring more important priorities. However, when our
own comfort and contentment is based on our earthly surroundings, we
risk making choices that result in ignoring the greater good.
doubt, our culture encourages us to surround ourselves with every
imaginable comfort and convenience. One who will “pull down his barns
and build greater” so that later he can “take ease; eat, drink, and be
merry,” is considered a huge success, regardless of Jesus’ warning (see
does not have to be super rich to fall prey to the inordinate desire
for comfort in this life. Easy credit has allowed us to enjoy many
comforts and conveniences we can’t otherwise afford. In order to
meet our obligation to pay for these luxuries we may find ourselves
having to pass up opportunities to do good for the Lord and others.
obsession for comfort and convenience is not limited to the “things” we
can buy. It can be seen in many other choices we make in life.
Where to Worship
you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where there are a number of
sound congregations of the Lord within reasonable distance, a decision
must be made regarding with which one you will work. How do you base
that decision? Too many, I fear, base their decision on where they will
“feel most comfortable.” Making comfort the criteria causes some to
avoid struggling congregations that could really use some help. You may
be turned off by any number of factors: i.e., if they don’t have a
“full-time” preacher; if they are meeting in an out-dated building or a
rented facility; if they can’t afford expensive Bible class materials
(maybe they could with your help); if there aren’t enough children the
ages of your children; and the list goes on.
of choosing where to worship based on self-gratification, why not make
that choice based on where you can do the most good. To adapt a famous
quote from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, “Ask not what
a congregation can do for you; ask what you can do for a congregation.”
quite certain that some who read this will claim they choose more
established congregations over struggling ones because they are
thinking of their children’s spiritual welfare. Actually, I believe
children who grow up in congregations where they see their parents
having to be a vital part of the work do better spiritually than
children in congregations where their parents can coast along with the
crowd. Then when the children grow up and become Christians they will
be prepared to serve, rather than to constantly be served.
Where to Preach
are not exempt from the temptation to seek maximum comfort. However,
what preacher has not read the Spirit-inspired admonition to be willing
to “endure afflictions” (2 Tim. 4:5) in his work as an evangelist? Of
course, we are not to seek afflictions, but neither are we to
completely avoid them.
are some preachers who apparently think it is too much to ask of them
to work with congregations without elders. No doubt, working with
qualified elders is a blessing, and should be more “comfortable” for
the preacher, but if they have truly qualified elders they don’t need a
preacher as much as congregations without elders. To make that a litmus
test in determining where to work might be a bit self-serving.
there are preachers who won’t consider suffering the indignity of
having to beg for support from other congregations, and refuse to go
where the local congregation cannot provide adequate support. Older
preachers, who because of their experience and influence could easily
raise needed support, often leave that task to young men who have great
difficulty in doing so.
inordinate desire for comfort may also explain why preachers flock to
places where the climate is pleasant, leaving other brethren out in the
cold to fend for themselves.
people look forward to a time in life when they can leave the work
force and enjoy retirement. A faithful
Christian, who is so blessed is afforded a unique opportunity to be of
service in a place where the need is great. There are many struggling
churches that could benefit greatly from the addition of a mature man
and his wife. However, if comfort in this life is the primary goal, the retiree is likely to squander that opportunity.
the apostle, after many years of faithful service amid much discomfort
did not consider himself “to have apprehended,” (Phil. 3:13-14). Even
in his declaration that he had “fought the good fight” and “finished
the race” (2 Tim. 4:7) you get the impression from later remarks that
he still had work to do for the Lord.
I’m not suggesting that we purposely seek to bring discomfort into our lives. However, I am
suggesting that in considering our options we make our own personal
“comfort” a lower priority than the good we can accomplish. Our
“comfort” is being prepared by our Lord (Jn. 14:1-4).
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By Ray Ferris
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1 Peter 1:3 we read of a hope that lives for the faithful child of God.
In the old KJV it is called a lively hope, and in later versions it is
referred to as a living hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten
us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from
Perhaps we should note that the word hope
is one that many use carelessly. People use it to express desire for
anything that would be a pleasant experience. It is never used that way
in scripture. The correct meaning of the word is: “1. a feeling that
what is wanted will happen; desire accompanied by anticipation or
expectation. 2. the object of this.” That defines the word as a noun.
As a transitive verb the meaning is: “to expect, look for.” Webster
suggests one check for synonyms under “expect.” When we do so we find
these words: expect, hope, and await. All of these stress the idea of
confidence in what is desired.
Let me illustrate the very
epitome of hope with a biblical text that does not even use the word.
Read Colossians 3:1-4. Did you notice the words seek and set
(or fix) in those verses? Now think about the overall context (back to
2:10-13). Dead people are alive again, and are forgiven. Baptism is
paralleled with circumcision, but one that is without hands. Old
Testament circumcision indicated a Jew was part of the covenant. As a
result of baptism into Christ (Gal. 3:27), into the death of Christ
(Rom. 6:3), and into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) we are part of
the adopted family of God. When we have been “buried with him in
baptism,” we are “risen with him through the faith of the operation of
God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Now, in our text (Col.
3:1-4) we read, “If ye then be risen with Christ,” here is what you can
expect, anticipate, await and hope for: “When Christ, who is our life,
shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
But why would Peter speak of this hope as something that is lively, or living? I believe three primary reasons can be seen: First,
it is living because it is actively involved in the lives and efforts
of Christians. In 1 Corinthian 13:1-7 we read about how love acts in
one’s life. Do you remember how the chapter ends? “And now abideth
faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is
charity.” Why is it the greatest? because it never fails (ends),
extending into eternity. We will no longer have to walk by faith (2
Cor. 5:7), nor will we have to hope because we will have seen
what we had hoped for. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen
is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we
hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom.
8:24-25). Thus, the reason for our hope is because it is an active
(living) involvement in our pursuit of eternal life with God.
it is a living hope because it must be alive in order to act. What is
dead is not able to engage in action. Peter challenges us to act: “But
sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give
an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in
you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). That is impossible if hope
is dead! In Hebrews 6:10-12 the writer mentions the diligence of his
readers that God would not forget. Then he says, “And we desire that
every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of
hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful (lazy, sluggish), but
followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
That hope is illustrated in the life of Abraham, who “after he had
patiently endured, obtained the promise” (vs.15). The immutable counsel
of God to us as “heirs of his promise” is guaranteed by His oath and
His promise so that “we might have a strong consolation, who have fled
for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have
as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth
into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered,
even Jesus...” (Heb. 6:18-20). This is obviously an active living thing
in the lives of the faithful. If our hope dies we have no basis for
reason it must be thought of as a “living hope” may be the most
significant of all. It is based on the resurrection of Jesus. The text
says our God and Father “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” It is impossible to
over-emphasize the significance of that resurrection. I have preached
entire sermons that were designed to stress, from statements in
scripture, the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul shows
indisputable proof of that resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-8), and then makes
repeated arguments why we must believe in it, and in our own
The peak of his argument is found in these
words: “For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised: and if
Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then
they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this
life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But
now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firsfruits of them
that slept” (1 Cor. 15:16-20). My hope lives because Christ lives!! If
that hope dies our reason for living dies. Truly, that hope is the
anchor of the soul, and is both sure and steadfast.
Consider your own hope. Is it alive and active—and what is the basis for it?
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A House Divided
By Steve Fontenot
“A house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12:25). Fathers are charged to train the children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Mothers are to “rule the household” (1 Tim. 5:14, ASV). So, the care and discipline of children is a shared responsibility. Note the plural: “Children, obey your parents…” (Eph. 6:1).Back to top
parent to undermine the others’ authority is to promote a “house
divided.” There will be disagreements between mom and dad, and the man
in the family has been delegated authority over the woman. But the man
who uses (actually misuses) his position to undermine the woman’s
authority in the family is promoting a detrimental situation to all
concerned—a “house divided.” Likewise, the woman who erodes her
husbands authority, whether in his presence or behind his back, is not
“building her house” but “tearing it down with her own hands” (Prov.
We cannot condone that which we believe to be contrary to the will of God (Ac. 5:29). However, we must beware lest we confuse God’s will with our will and opinions. We must make every effort to promote respect for God’s order in the family lest we become a “house divided.”
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By David Diestelkamp
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frustrated woman says to her husband, “You’re so inconsistent!”
Defensively he responds, “Not all the time!” Although humorous in
marriage (because it’s too often true), it isn’t funny in our spiritual
lives (because it’s too often true).
Jesus taught an all or
nothing, “He who is not with Me is against Me,” gospel (Matt. 12:30).
Although spiritual consistency is rooted in repentance and God’s
forgiveness in Christ, we must have hearts which consistently yearn for
the way of God.
Inconsistency & Faith
the demons believe—and tremble!” (Jas. 2:19). So what’s the problem
with demon faith? There is a disparity between what they know, and even
accept as true, and what they do. Even calling Jesus, “Lord” is
inadequate if it doesn’t produce what is consistent with that
confession—doing what He says (Lk. 6:46).
Faith that isn’t based
on God’s word is easily changed by feelings, situations, and false
teaching. This inconsistency is called being “…tossed to and fro and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men…”
(Eph. 4:14). Faith which inconsistently trusts God’s will as a guide
for life is compared to “…a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the
wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from
the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (Jas.
1:6-8). To be consistent, true faith must be anchored on what it knows
to be true in God’s word (Rom. 10:17).
Inconsistency & Hope
main reason behind inconsistency is the false sense of security it
provides. Before others, it is a hypocrisy that says, “I’m better than
I really am.” To self, occasional righteousness provides the
opportunity to accentuate the positive to the downplaying of known
negatives. Sometimes doing right is better than always doing
wrong—right? There is a third choice!
We must consistently
remember that ours is the “hope of eternal life” (Tit. 1:2). The hopes,
promises, and dreams that this life offers pale in comparison to the
“blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God and our
Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13). Inconsistent focus on our true hope
will devastate sober minded decision making ability. Inconsistent
choices are inevitable when they are based on the ever changing hope
this world tries to offer.
Inconsistency & Law
once heard a US Supreme Court justice explain why the Court reluctantly
overturns rulings. He said, “Inconsistency breeds contempt for the
law.” If we change the law whenever it pleases us it loses its meaning
God is our lawgiving King; we are His law keeping
citizens. Inconsistent obedience says to God and others that some of
what God says is important, but some of it isn’t. It actually puts us
in the position of God, determining what is good, and when. Our lives
are to be a “living sacrifice,” not simply in the things we give God,
but in submitting our will fully to God in all things (Rom. 12:1). When
God and others look at us what do they see? Are we lawmakers or law
keepers? Are we the standard or is God?…
Someone said that in
religion there are believers, unbelievers, and make-believers.
Consistent consistency will demonstrate which we are.
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By Robert E. Speer
|The Search for The Righteous
(408?323 BC) was a Greek philosopher and cynic who traveled about
Greece carrying a lantern in the daytime in search of an honest man.
Cynicism was so deeply embedded within him that he was
hypocritical—that is, while he claimed to be looking for an honest man
he would not admit to ever having found one.
seventh century, early sixth century BC) was neither a philosopher nor
a cynic; he was a prophet of God. As such he was instructed: “Run to
and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in
her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes
judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her, though they say,
‘As the Lord lives,’ surely they swear falsely” (Jer. 5:1-2).
Jeremiah, chapter 2, God reminds Israel of when she was “holiness to
the Lord” (vs. 3). Nevertheless she turned against God (vs. 5), even
though He has led and preserved them in the wilderness and into the
bountiful promised land (vss. 6-8). Said Jehovah, “[My people] have
forsaken Me (vs. 13). Yet, He pleads for their return (3:12, 14; 4:1,
14). But for all His pleading and attending promises Israel His people
did not return.
There were many men in Jerusalem, but Jehovah
told Jeremiah to find a man—just one man—who functions justly and seeks
truth, and His people would be pardoned (5:1). But they were defiant.
having a rebellious heart; they had revolted and departed (vs. 23). One
is reminded of Abraham’s plea for Sodom at the time Lot was in that
city (Gen. 18). Abraham’s plea was for sparing the city if 50 righteous
could be found there (vs. 24); or 45 within the city (vs. 28); or 40,
or 30, or 20 should be found there (vss. 28-31). Finally, Abraham said,
“Suppose ten should be found there?” (vs. 32). With 50 and each
descending number named by Abraham, God promised to spare the city. As
it turned out, only one man —Lot—was spared, along with his two
daughters. God destroyed Sodom and other cities of the plain (Gen.
What of the city you live in? Would there be 50
righteous people therein? What of 45? 40? 30? 20? or 10? If only one
righteous person who was honest, dealing justly and seeking truth could
be found within your city and its environ, would that be you?
596 Marseille Boulevard, Winchester, KY 40391
By Andy Diestelkamp
past March 11th our church building was filled to capacity on a Friday
night to hear a sermon from Shawn Daniels entitled “The Unshakable
Kingdom in a Shaken World.” It was not an impromptu lesson in reaction
to the catastrophic earthquake that hit Japan less than 24 hours
earlier and which effectively rippled its way even to the shores of our
country. The message had been planned and advertised for that night
weeks in advance.
I do not make that observation to suggest that
God sent this calamity to serve as a timely sermon illustration for our
gospel meeting. While some who purport to have the divine gift of
prophecy might retroactively claim that they had predicted this event,
such would be merely the revisionist machinations of self-important
false prophets seeking relevance for their misguided ministries. No,
the seismic event was not timely, but the message preached to us on
March 11th was.
Paul wrote, “the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2
Cor. 4:18). As we watch video clips of tsunamis swallowing in a moment
all the things we work for years to obtain (businesses, houses, cars,
etc.), surely we appreciate the relevance of Jesus’ admonition,
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust
destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where
thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19,20).
is not ultimately found in anything physical. In nature there are
things against which we are unable to protect ourselves. When even terra firma
shakes and cracks so as to move the oceans, we are graciously reminded
that our bodies are but dust and our life-spans are vaporous. This
realization drives some to party, “for tomorrow we die,” while others
are driven to their knees to worship their Creator and their only hope
of salvation. While the godless wring their anxious hands over the
future of this globe, the God-fearing fold their hands in prayer,
committing their souls to the only One who offers something truly
As you read this article in the relative calm and comfort of your home, consider how fragile and unstable everything
is in this world. A mere belch of negativity from nature or nations can
send stock markets worldwide into tailspins. The excesses fostered by a
prosperity that only gives God a nominal place on its coinage but
attempts to remove His national influence could easily be our fall.
Economic carelessness fueled by selfish materialism mixed with moral
degradation is a recipe for disaster.
As the late Paul Harvey
frequently observed, “Self-government without self-discipline will not
work.” History is littered with the ruins of fallen people who forgot
that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him
(Heb. 11:6). We would all be wise to be more diligent in our pursuit of
righteousness rather than our pursuit of things that perish with using.
Lest for some arrogant reason we think that it won’t happen to
us (U.S.), God has preserved in His word the condemnation of “His
chosen people,” the nation of Israel. In seeking to be like the nations
around them, they suffered the fate of those nations. In rejecting the
Messiah, their house was left desolate (Matt. 23:38). For nearly two
millennia the ruins of their physical temple have testified to the
truth that nations which reject God will be judged. If God did not
spare Israel, He will not spare us unless we repent. No, the recent
earthquake does not mean that the Japanese are worse sinners than we
are, but it does remind us that, unless we repent, we will all likewise
perish (cf. Luke 13:1-5).
From The Flood (Genesis 6-9) to the
destruction of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:2), we have been amply warned that
“the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the
will of God abides forever” (1 Jn. 2:17). “Both
the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore,
since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought
you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Pet. 3:10,11).
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks...from heaven”
(Heb. 12:25). Jesus Christ is mankind’s salvation and only hope. He
offers citizenship in a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:27-29)
because it is not of this world (Jn. 18:36). His is a church against
which not even the gates of death can prevail (Matt. 16:18). The
kingdoms of earth pass away one by one, but the kingdom of heaven
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|Frederick K. Hennecke|
February 2, 2011, Fred Hennecke died at the age of 89. We note this
here, not only because he is my father-in-law, but also because of his
contribution to this publication. For several years he proofread the
paper before going to press. He is survived by his wife, Virginia; two
daughters, Connie Diestelkamp and Ardis Howell; two sons, Karl and
Matt; ten grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren.
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