WISE LEADERSHIP NEEDED IN THE CURRENT CONFLICTMarch 12 2004 at 6:12 AM
|John Waddey (no login)|
from IP address 188.8.131.52
WISE LEADERSHIP NEEDED IN THE CURRENT CONFLICT
A struggle is underway for the heart and soul of Churches of Christ. A small band of well-trained and highly motivated agents of change are challenging preachers and elders of churches of Christ for the leadership of their flocks. While the champions of change likely cannot claim over three hundred congregations under their banner at this time, they do control some of our most prestigious churches and schools. Thus they are in position to shape the thinking of a multitude of young people, including young preachers, who will soon be taking their new ideas into more congregations. In too many cases, leaders of local congregations are failing to meet the challenge of these false teachers.
The following ideas on leadership are especially relevant to today's situation.
I. "Two things, well considered, would prevent many quarrels; first to have it well ascertained whether we are not disputing about terms rather than things, and, second, to examine whether that on which we differ is worth contending about"
(Cotton). There is considerable difference in holding and teaching a doctrine that is false and simply using non-traditional vocabulary. In every generation the young devise new ways to express their thoughts. Paul warns against striving over words (II Tim. 2:14) But he also condemned those whose teaching and conduct were contrary to sound doctrine (I Tim. 1:10). There are scores of insignificant things in the Bible text about which we may disagree with no damage done. But when it comes to the fundamentals of Christianity regarding our faith worship and practice we must be united.
In waging successful warfare, a wise general will be very careful in choosing the battles to which commits his troops. A hundred hills maybe of no strategic value but one may be of absolute importance. For that one piece of ground he will fight. So in our fight of faith. The big issue is not new hymns, nor is it the use of projectors. It is not, how long we extend the communion service or how short the sermon is. The issues worthy of contention are those involving principles essential to being acceptable to God. Among those issues we must address are things that have to do with salvation.
Is man saved by grace through faith, before and without obedience in baptism? The Scripture plainly says that sins are washed away when we are baptized (Acts 22:16). The Lord adds to his church those who have been baptized (Acts 2:38, 47; I Cor. 12:13). The way in which we approach God in worship is an essential matter. Worship based on human traditions is vain, useless and unacceptable (Matt. 15:6, 9). Thus when men tamper with our singing, our communion and the nature of our public worship (by turning it into a charismatic style) then we must take a stand.
A major short-coming of our response thus far has been the many skirmishes fought on matters that are non-essential.
II. "Fortunate is the person who has developed the self-control to steer a straight course towards his objective in life, without being swayed from his purpose by either commendation or condemnation"
(Napoleon Hill). Every preacher and elder must be committed to leading his people in the straitened and narrow way of Christ. When he teaches the truth of the gospel without fear or favor; when he reproves and rebukes error (II Tim. 4: 2); when he contends earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), there will be some who flay him. If he speaks smooth words that sinners love to hear there will be those who flatter him (Is. 30:10). To successfully resist the pressure to compromise the faith and drift with the tides of change; a man must be fully persuaded in his own mind and resolved long before the challenge appears. Only then well he be able to stay the course even if he must travel alone.
III. "The ability to keep a cool head in an emergency, maintain poise in the midst of excitement, and to refuse to be stampeded are true marks of leadership"
(R. Shannon). In the months and years ahead a thousand battles will be fought as faithful Christians find their congregations being infiltrated by those who wish to lead them away from the path laid out by Jesus.
It will not be enough just to know God's will on the points of contention. Only leaders with "cool heads" and spiritual wisdom will be able to excise the problem without disrupting and harming the body. Rash decisions and actions can be as destructive as that caused by the promoters of change. If any man "lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally" (Jas. 1:5). Leaders of even temperament will not despair, nor will they overreact. They will not resort to unethical methods. Nor will they sacrifice truth for tranquility. They will not be stampeded into unhealthy change nor stubbornly refuse to accept that which is right and beneficial for the congregation. May God grant such wisdom to all who lead his people.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 184.108.40.206 on Mar 12, 2004 8:32 AM|
AN APPEAL TO PREACHERS AND ELDERS
|March 13 2004, 2:10 AM |
AN APPEAL TO PREACHERS AND ELDERS
A war is raging. The enemy is working day and night to undermine the authority of Christ's Word and impose their ideas on His church. Many of our soldiers seem unaware of the fact.
They go about their business as if all was rosy in the kingdom; seeing no threats of danger at all. Others are trying to avoid the conflict like the draft dodgers who fled to Canada during the Viet Nam War. If the church is to survive for generations yet to come, the soldiers of Christ must arise.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). Christ considers his preachers and elders to be soldiers in the army of heaven. They are not peacetime solders with weekend duty. They are involved in a mortal struggle with the prince of the powers of the air (Eph. 2:2). Daily they must face his hosts of wicked spirits (Eph. 6:12).
Take Your Place in the Lines.
Christ's expectation is that we be good soldiers (II Tim. 2:3). He expects us to "fight the good fight of faith" (I Tim. 6:12). There is no place for slackers, dodgers, malingerers, deserters or on-lookers in the army of Christ. We are on active duty with a lifetime enlistment (Rev. 2:10). We must faithful march forth with the King of Kings (Rev. 19:14). One of the great problems facing today's church is that many preachers and elders have not the will, the desire or the sense of loyalty to their King to take their place in the lines against the forces of evil
Use Your Sword.
To be of any significant value in war, a soldier must have a weapon, know how to use it and have the courage to engage the enemy. Christ has provided us a powerful and effective weapon, "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). Not everyone that owns a Bible is prepared to use it effectively. Not every soldier has the fortitude to stand in the gap and defend the kingdom against her enemies (Ezek. 22:30). Read your Bible, teach it and wield it effectively against every false teaching that appears before you.
"Quit Ye Like Men."
These words of Paul (I Cor. 16:13), remind us of the serious nature of our conflict. Christianity is not debate club or child's play. Neither is our war a game. It is a titanic struggle for the souls of men; for the heart of a nation. It is a mortal conflict with the devil and his angels. It is a war for the heart of our civilization, our culture and the church. At stake are the minds and hearts of our children. Faith and courage are essential elements in good soldiers.
Never Surrender. Victory is our only option
. As Paul wrote these lines, he had in mind those Roman soldiers who enabled Rome to rule the civilized world of his day. They were invincible because they were trained to never surrender. If defeated today, they were trained to regroup and fight again tomorrow. In every war there is a problem keeping the fighting spirit of the troops at high level. Surveying our Christian soldiers, it is evident that some have grown weary of the strife, some are discouraged by the success of our enemy. Some have been wounded, or have grown old in the conflict. As it was during the Viet Nam conflict, some have been persuaded that to continue the battle is wrong, useless or hopeless. In the dark dreary day of Word War II, courageous Winston Churchill
addressed the students of his alma mater. His subject was the war, which at that time was going badly against England. The eloquent leader summed up his speech with these stirring words, "Never, never, never surrender
." So it must be for those of us privileged to serve in the army of Christ. There are thousands of foes without, arrayed against us with deadly intent. Sadly there are traitors and turncoats within the church. They are devoting their energies to undermining the authority of our King. They are subverting the faith, worship and practice of the church by sowing discord among the citizens of the kingdom. In the face of all these enemies of our Lord, we must "Never, never, never, surrender."
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 220.127.116.11 on Mar 13, 2004 8:17 AM|
|Victor M. Eskew|
ELDERSHIP: They Have Ceased Watching
|June 25 2004, 2:55 AM |
They Have Ceased Watching
By Victor M. Eskew
The office of a bishop is a good work (I Tim. 3:1). It is to be taken only by those of high quality (I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The office yields great reward (I Tim. 5:17; 1 Peter 5:4). It involves the greatest responsibilities (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:9; Heb. 13:17).
Elders are to watch for the souls of the congregation they oversee.
This duty is found in Hebrews 13:17.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
The soul of every member of the local congregation is to be watched over by the elders. When they stand before the judgment seat of Christ, they will give an account of how well they fulfilled this duty. This is an awesome and fearful task, is it not?
Sadly, many elderships have ceased watching
. Members involve themselves in all manner of sinful practices, and elders say nothing. False teaching spews from the pulpit and classroom and is overlooked.
Individuals leave the fold, and we make no effort to bring them back.
The situation is like the one which developed in Ezekiel's day:
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them. Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds: Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost: but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them (Ezek. 34:1-6).
Several reasons might be given why elders have ceased watching for the souls of the members of their congregations.
One of these is fear. They fear the reaction of the sheep
if they faithfully practice their responsibility. They will be ridiculed and charged with meddling. They will be shunned and avoided.
Another reason they have ceased watching is indifference
. They do not care that Satan devours members. Their only concern is meeting the budget each week.
Another reason they fail is the overwhelming magnitude of their task
. They look and see tens and hundreds who are their responsibility. To do their job properly would require hour after hour, day after day of energy-draining, heart-rending work. Rather than make the effort to begin, they push their responsibility aside.
If elders would faithfully discharge their responsibility, they could drastically change the present course of the church.
Sin in the lives of members would decrease. Church attendance and contributions would increase. The office of a bishop would be looked upon with respect and honor, as it should be.
Elders, remember you will give an account of your faithfulness to your duties.
May God not say of you, what God said of the shepherds of Israel: "Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand. . . ." (Ezek. 34:10).
Christians Must Contend for the Faith
|January 23 2005, 5:33 AM |
CHRISTIANS MUST CONTEND FOR THE FAITH
Christianity was born in a crucible of controversy. Real flesh and blood men bravely crisscrossed the pagan Roman world, preaching the gospel. They planted congregations of Christians in every community that would receive them. They encountered hostile enemies without and subtle deceivers within. Either of which would surely have destroyed the infant church had they not boldly resisted their assaults. The little epistle of Jude is a classical defense of the true faith of Christ. The author urges the disciples to rally in defense of the sacred cause of Jesus against false teachers. I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in privily...ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4). In these words we see the following lessons:
I. The Faith Is Something Which Is Delivered to Us. Our faith was passed down to us from past generations. We did not discover its great principles and truths all by ourselves. The Christian faith originated with Jesus. He then entrusted it to his apostles (Heb. 2:3-4). The Holy Spirit brought to their remembrance all he had said to them (John 14:26). The apostles first taught and then recorded the faith in their books and epistles and placed it in the hands of the various congregations. The things they wrote were the commandments of the Lord (I Cor. 14:37). Loyal churches continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42).
Each Christian has the duty to teach and protect the faith and pass it on to the coming generation. This principle has always been true. Moses taught Israel to make them (Gods truths) known unto thy children and they childrens children (Deut. 4:9). We continually look back to the stream of truth which flows down to us from ancient Jerusalem (Is. 2:3).
II. Our Faith Was Delivered Once and For All. The Christian faith is an unchangeable commodity. It is permanent and enduring. It never needs revision as mens creeds do. It is always relevant, never obsolete. These facts are true because of its divine origin. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He is eternal and unchanging (Heb. 13:8) and so is his word (Matt. 24:35). Christianity is a completed system and allows no additions or deletions. We are forbidden to go beyond what is written (I Cor. 4:6 ASV). Those who go beyond the doctrine of Christ have not God (II John 10). Curses rest upon those who either add to or take from the faith of Jesus (Rev. 22:18-19). Such writings as the Book of Mormon, the Watchtower, Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures, and those of Ellen G. White are excluded and condemned as spurious.
III. The Christian Faith Was Entrusted to Gods Saints. Saints are those who are saved by Jesus and members of his church. The Corinthian Christians were addressed as saints (I Cor. 1:1-2). They were sanctified when they were washed in the name of the Lord Jesus (I Cor. 6:11). We are washed in the name of Christ when we are baptized to wash away our sins (Acts 22:16). The faith is not the exclusive possession of any one individual or group. Anyone, anywhere, with a Bible in hand can know and do Gods will and be acceptable to him. Scripture is not of private interpretation (II Pet. 1:20-21). Nor is it the private property of any church such as the Roman Catholic Church. God has given every saint the sacred privilege and responsibility to study the faith, teach and defend it. When the early brethren were scattered abroad, they went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:1-4). Selfish men would seek to restrict these privileges to a professional clergy.
IV. The Faith of Christ Must be Defended. Paul was set for the defense of the gospel (Phil. 1:16). Our faith is always under fire by unbelievers, false teachers and hedonists. Sadly the church suffers from heretics within her midst. Every Christian should be a defender of the faith. Each one should be ready to give an answer to any man that asks a reason for his/her hope (I Pet. 3:15). All must be prepared to fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12). We must prepare ourselves to defend the faith against the hosts of wicked spirits in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). There are such enemies as militant atheism, evolutionary dogma and the promoters of immorality such as homosexuality, pornography and abortion. There are heathen religions and denominations and cults with which we must contend. We must also be concerned about those who attack church or seek to corrupt her with their own ideas and opinions. We must oppose both legalism and liberalism within the church. Our methods of defense are numerous. Men must be trained to both preach and teach the truth in love (Eph.4:15). We need soldiers to write tracts and articles, letters to editors and books setting forth the case for the Lords true gospel. We need to talk about Gods ways in our daily associations, whether at home or at work (Deut. 6:6-9). Capable men are needed to publicly engage the enemy on the forensic platform (Prov. 25:9). Elders must exercise careful oversight to protect their congregations against false teachers (Tit. 3:10). We are blind and foolish if we think we are immune to the poison of false doctrine. Only those willing to contend for the faith will survive the conflict.
Kings and queens of England wear as one of their titles, Defender of the faith, but this honor is not for them alone. Each soul that wears the name Christian is privileged to contend earnestly for the holy faith of Jesus.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
Should There Be a Code of Conduct for Shepherds?
|October 10 2005, 12:00 AM |
Maybe, its not yet common knowledge
but churches need to be informed that when Rick Warrens culture-driven church growth scheme [a.k.a. Community Church Movement], which usually creates conflict when implemented, has a well-prepared resolution program to counter the damage and provide healing.
Some congregations, including Madison, have experienced severe conflicts. Theres one churchperhaps one among severalwhich has come up with a Code of Conduct for its elders to abide by. Please evaluate the following. Is such a code to be scripture-supported in every way and, if so, which one or ones are to be excluded from the code? Or, is it simply to be used as a practical guide, whether or not it is with limited scriptural basis, just so unity and peace can be achieved?
Heres a sample code for the elders derived from the Christian Chronicle. [The name of the local congregation is omitted]
Code of Conduct for Shepherds
March 01, 2002
The Christian Chronicle -
Sunday, August 22, 1999
All shepherds have agreed to the following stipulations. Their purpose is to lay the ground rules for the interaction of the shepherds for the benefit of the congregation and the eldership. By signing this statement, I agree to abide by these policies.
Having read this code of conduct, I pledge to abide by it and count it a privilege to serve as a shepherd at the _____________ Church of Christ.
- Although I am a shepherd of the ___________ Church of Christ, I am also part of the flock within the eldership and I will submit to the eldership as I expect every other member to have a submissive spirit. If I am asked to resign by the eldership, I will do so immediately without questioning their judgment.
- Decisions made by the eldership are made by majority vote, not by minority rule.
- If I am not present for a vote, I will not bring up any issue decided upon in my absence for the purpose of reversing that decision.
- Once the eldership has decided an issue, I will support it even if I did not agree with the decision.
- I will refrain from making major decisions on my own realizing that I have no authority as an individual elder. Authority resides in the eldership as a whole.
- I will treat my fellow elders with respect and as an equal.
- I will not engage in derogatory discussions about any elder or the eldership, any deacon or staff member. I will at all times speak positively about the leadership or I will not speak at all.
When Change Agents Seduce a Congregation
|November 7 2005, 7:45 AM |
PUT THE BIBLE BACK IN THE BIBLE SCHOOL
The church exists to reach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15). By definition the Bible School is a learning environment where people study the Word of God. A visit to some of the liberal Protestant churches in your neighborhood would reveal that there can be a Bible School which does not teach God's Book. But a closer look would also reveal that they are dying churches with dwindling attendance and an uncommitted membership. Lest we be proud, we should take a long hard look at our classes. More often than we wish to admit, a child can attend our Bible classes for years and still be virtually illiterate in Scripture knowledge. Some of our current problems are the result of a weak Bible School program. The reasons are many but some causes are:
This problem is usually reflected in ill-kept classrooms, literature not available on time, teachers not present when class assembles and no discipline in the classroom. Such a situation is a recipe for an educational disaster. As overseers of the church who bear responsibility for the souls of the flock, elders must see that such a scenario never occurs in their congregation (Heb. 13:17). If it has already happened, elders should post an "all hands on deck" alert and take all necessary action to rectify the situation.
- Untrained teachers who know not how or what to teach;
- Unprepared teachers who fail in their duty to their pupils;
- Poor literature and teaching aids which have little Biblical content and/or poorly present God's Truth;
- A Bible school program in disarray and confusion;
- Unmotivated students who come to class unprepared and manifest no interest in learning;
- Uncaring parents who make no effort to help their kids learn at home or be prepared for their Bible Classes;
- Irregular attendance with frequent absentees and tardies.
Change agents will find it hard to seduce a well taught congregation! Let this be the year when we put the Bible back in to the Bible School!
- Make an immediate inspection to determine the extent of your problem.
- Reshuffle your workers to see that competent people are put in charge of repairing the damage done.
- Examine and evaluate your literature, if it is from a denominational publisher, or weak in Bible content, retire it and find new materials that will truly teach students the Word of the Lord.
- Meet with your teachers. Let them know that you expect their best efforts if they are to teach.
- Attend the various classes and observe what is being taught and how effectively it is being done. Don't hesitate to give specific suggestions to your teachers for improving their work.
- Speak to the students. Tell them the value of their class, urge them to be good students.
- Mount the pulpit and tell the flock how important Bible School is and their need to be actively involved in it.
- Have your preacher deliver meaningful lessons on the value of Bible Study, the privilege and duty of teaching, the need for faithful attendance at Bible Class.
- Plan a program and have a drive for increasing Bible School attendance and enrollment. Set some challenging goals.
- Pray for God's help and guidance in safely leading your flock from here to eternity; that your charge will truly grow in grace and knowledge (II Pet 3:18).
- Insist that everyone involved in your Bible School program exalt God's Word! Have each student bring his Bible, then study it, memorize it, learn its practical lessons and how to live them. Make it clear that Bible Class hour is not for play, or entertainment, not for babysitting, but for learning!
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
"INCREMENTALISM; ONE OF SATAN'S DEVICES" (by John Waddey)
|March 13 2006, 7:57 AM |
INCREMENTALISM: ONE OF SATAN'S DEVICES
Bill and Hillary Clinton accomplished much of their political agenda by a method described as incrementalism. That which was unacceptable could not be passed in one large package was accomplished in several small incremental steps. This method of reaching unpopular goals has been effectively used by the feminists and the homosexual rights movement. Observing the success of this approach in the volatile world of politics, the change agents at work among us have adopted this incremental approach to reach their goal of imposing major changes on the church.
In his book Women in the Church, Carroll Osburn quotes Mary Tolbert who writes, "Feminist hermeneutics stands over against patriarchal hermeneutics (its goal achieved CO) by small unnoticed acts of subversion. Numerous such incremental changes, like erosion, will eventually bring down the fortress" (p. 32). Those conversant with what is occurring in our churches and schools will immediately recognize some of those small acts of subversion that are transpiring today: a woman chaplain at one of our Christian Universities; a woman associate preacher here; a female co-teacher of an adult class there; schools offering women courses in ministry and featuring women preachers on their lectureship; books advocating expanded roles for women in church leadership. At the end of the day one is not surprise to read that a church here and another there has a woman preacher in their pulpit.
Similarly, change agents are attacking the foundations of the church by a series of incremental changes that "like erosion will bring down the fortress." Many of the proposed changes are small and at first seem of little consequence. But added together and in time a congregation one day awakens to find that they are no longer a church of Christ. Few change agents are so confident or stupid as to try to grab control of a church in one bold move. It is a step by step process which they patiently pursue. They might ridicule the efforts of past brethren, or seek to shame their hearers for their old fashioned faith and views. They propose more contemporary services, perhaps a praise team to improve the worship. Guest speakers are brought in to promote the proposed agenda. Young people are gently led to use instruments in their devotionals. Younger ladies who have absorbed feminist views are encouraged to reach for leadership roles in the church. Collegiates and young adults are used as a leverage tool for accepting changes. If we want them to stay or to bring their friends, some changes must be made. Fun is poked at the old faith and practices long held by the church. The great success of certain denominational churches is held up as a worthy example. Young people are taken to programs that offer new and unconventional activities for worship. New elders and deacons are proposed that will be sympathetic to the change agenda. Step by step the process advances until the foundations are totally undermined and finally the resistance crumbles. The few hold-outs are encouraged to get with the program or leave. The results: another church has been subverted and changed into a denominational body.
Tragically many elders are totally oblivious to the incremental changes their preachers, youth ministers or campus ministers are initiating. The majority of their members sit in silence while a small handful who are committed to change step by step work their project. Brethren we are under attack in every quarter. If we continue with the current level of indifference and unconcern, we will surely be overwhelmed. Remember the losses we suffered a century ago. That generation of change agents swept away eighty five percent of our brethren and congregations; most of our mission work, all of our schools. Shall we suffer the same fate all over again? Remember their goal; "one step at a time until the fortress falls."
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
PARABLE OF THE QUARRELSOME SHEPHERDS
|August 25 2007, 8:10 PM |
PARABLE OF THE QUARRELSOME SHEPHERDS
Once there were three shepherds who pastured their flocks in a desolate area. They went their separate ways by day but each evening they sheltered their flocks in a common fold. Although all worked for a common master they did not get along very well. One was naturally cranky, another a jealous sort and the third was very sensitive and his feelings easily hurt. Each night when the sheep were in the fold the men would gather about a common fire, eat their food and talk. Unfortunately their conversations often turned fractious and bitter. One night their quarreling grew intense. As they shouted and threatened one another, wolves were sneaking ever closer to the darkened fold. The men came to blows, it was an awful sight. While they battled each other, the wolves saw their opportunity. They dashed into the fold tearing at the sheep and scattering them. They made off with several of the lambs.
The next morning the owner came to check on his sheep. He was shocked and angry at what he found. His sheep were scattered. Many were wounded, others were dead. The shepherds were battered and bruised but not from protecting their sheep. They had exhausted themselves fighting each other. The owner was furious. They were driven from his presence as unfit to serve him.
And the teacher explained that the sheep are God's people, the shepherds his preachers. The wolves are those who would lead the people into a new kind of faith and worship. He that hath an ear should give heed to the parable.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now