I think a general rule is the more worthwhile something is the harder it is to get it. In school it wouldn’t have been hard for me to pass a class with a “D.” I could do that with almost no effort at all, but the much more valuable “A” took a lot more work. If something is extremely valuable it might even be unattainable. Could I get a small diamond to ask Raeanne to marry me? Sure, with some saving and sacrifice. Could I obtain the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond? Uhh . . .not legally. And since I’m a minister instead of a master criminal not illegally either. Get how this works? The best things tend to be super hard to get. But I hope this doesn’t discourage people from pursing God. I hope this principle doesn’t convince people to abandon seeking God’s Word.
Even though every Word from God is more precious than diamonds it is amazingly accessible to us. As Moses once said, God’s Word “is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:12-14). I think righteous people would happily cross the ocean to receive a word from God . . . but they don’t have to. God loves us so much that He has put something incredibly valuable within reach.
The Word is in our hearts so that we may seek (and find) God. I’ve watched a few Indiana Jones movies in my time, where Harrison Ford goes on incredibly difficult quests to obtain priceless artifacts. Perhaps that’s how many people view seeking God. They may think the quest to get to God would be so difficult, the obstacles so great, it’s not really worth the effort. Perhaps these people would be surprised to know that God is not far away. The obstacles to get to God are great but they have already been overcome by Christ. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27). What is it worth to you to be near God? How worthwhile would that be? Rejoice that God has made this an exception to the rule! God is worth more than the whole world but He is not far from each one of us.
Written by Doug Wells
It is hard to believe, but my daughters are talking about going to college, they are in high school and it will not be long before they take that big step into adulthood and college life. So, as a parent, I have been thinking a lot about my daughters going to college as well. Although I would like for my daughters and every Christian to go to a Christian college, I realize that this may not be possible for some, because of degree programs, finances, scholarships, and many other reasons. But even if a person goes to a Christian College there are still some things they should be thinking about as one starts living life on their own. So, whether a person is going to a Christian College or a public College they should think about the following:
- First, as one goes off to college, they must keep seeking God and putting Him first (Mt. 6:33). It is often in college that one can be tempted to ignore God and follow a crowd of friends that may choose a way of life that is contrary to the will of God. So, keep seeking God, studying the Bible, praying, and obeying Him in your everyday life.
- Second, find a church home and be committed to that local body of Christians, not only will this help one keep their focus on the Lord, but it will have one develop friendship and a community of believers that can be a family, while one is away from their own family and church home (Heb. 11:24,25). Plus, they may give you a home cooked meal occasionally.
- Third, find and develop friendships with fellow Christians, this again is where the local congregation will be of great importance. We tend to be influenced by our friends, whether good or evil. Remember 1 Cor. 15:33, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
- Fourth, go on a mission trip. One of the greatest spiritual building events in my college years was when I went on mission trips; I went on three mission trips in college and was blessed every time. Whether the mission trip is foreign or domestic look for an opportunity to go. Most Christian colleges offer mission trip opportunities during spring break, and summer breaks, but there are many missionaries looking for groups to come and help them throughout the year. Even if one does not go to a Christian College there are still many opportunities to go on a short-term mission trip. One place to check out opportunities for short term mission trips is Disciple Trips their web page is: http://www.discipletrips.com/about-us. These are mission trips supported and sponsored by members of the church of Christ.
This is just a short list of spiritual things that a Christian should be looking for during their college years. The goal is to develop one's own spiritual life, and grow as a Christian, so one will go to Heaven.
Young people and parents, please be very prayerful and wise in your choice of college or university it will point you in the direction that you will live the rest of your life, please make sure that direction is helping you get to Heaven.
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
An old Indian used to meditate every morning on the banks of a river. One day, when he finished meditating, he saw a scorpion floating helplessly on the water, close to drowning. As the scorpion came near, the old man reached out to rescue it. When he touched it, however, the scorpion stung him. Instantly, the man withdrew his hand. But soon he tried to save the scorpion again. This time it stung him so severely with its poisonous tail that his hand began to swell and bleed, and his face contorted with pain. At that point, a bystander saw what was happening and said, “Hey, stupid old man, what’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for such an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save an ungrateful scorpion?” Looking the bystander straight in the eye, the old man replied, “My friend, just because it’s the scorpion’s nature to sting does not change my nature to save.”
How many times have we “stung” our Lord, Jesus Christ with the sting of sin? A careless word, thoughts of lust, greed, selfishness, and the list could go on and on of the numerous sins that you and I commit that only “sting” and hurt our Lord, who loves us so very much. Yet the Bible reminds us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 puts it this way, “For God so loved the world that he gave his and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus loves so much that He was willing to lay down His life to die on the cross. Not only did Jesus show us His great love for us, but the crucifixion also accomplished the eternal plan of God to provide salvation from our sins. Although He had committed no sin, Jesus "bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed" (1 Peter 2:22-24).
Although our sin “stung” Christ when He died, it also became a great blessing – as it became the means of salvation to all who will: place their trust in Jesus (Hebrews 11:6), repent of sin (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), be baptized (immersed) so that their sins can be forgiven (Acts 2:38), AND live faithfully to Him until death (Revelation 2:10). Sometimes, even after we have become a Christian, we still “sting” Christ with our sins. 1 John 1:7-10 reminds us to confess our sins and continue to live in the light of Christ. It does not make sense, but the very hands that have saved us are the ones that we sometimes harm.
Although this is true, it is still the nature of Christ to save.
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Everyone knows the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11). Even people who don’t know much Bible know this story, and in fact it is often used against people who do know a lot of Bible. It’s very easy to cast any religious folks who try to take a moral stand as the hypocrites with the rocks.
People use the phrase “cast the first stone” to say, “If you have ever sinned, you have no right to judge my sin.” But that is not the moral of this story at all.
Jesus is not saying we can never confront someone else’s sin, and he is not throwing out traditional values. He is not doing what so many people try to do with this story because so often they ignore the last line:
John 8:10-11 (NIV) Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
No one, sir,” she said.
Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
He doesn’t say, “Well, you know, the Old Testament stuff is really harsh and contradictory, and those narrow restrictions on our sexuality are entirely unrealistic.”
Jesus never ignored or minimized anything God said about right and wrong. He doesn’t flinch one bit when telling her the way she was living was immoral.
But he doesn’t just leave her there in her sin with no hope. That’s what the Pharisees did: they all walk away and leave her like a scrap of litter on the side of the road.
We don’t want to be like them. So I just want to pull out two simple applications for us. Here’s the first: Scriptures are not to be thrown like rocks at people we don’t like.
Nobody is going to care if a scripture is true if you are hurling it at them like a rock. I hate the videos on Facebook that promise to show an atheist or a liberal get “demolished” by someone quoting scripture. I don’t want to demolish anyone. I want to be able to share God’s word in a way that makes people at least willing to listen, to engage in a conversation.
There is a right way to tell someone they are wrong. In John 8 Jesus told both the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery that they were wrong, and he used scripture, but he didn’t destroy anyone. He did it quietly and decently, and in a way that called everyone to be better.
And that leads to our second application: Our concern over sin should be about how that sin is damaging a real person.
What these Pharisees did to her had nothing to do with defending marriage or really even upholding scripture. This woman was not a real person to the Pharisees. The Pharisees presented this woman to Jesus like a trick question on a quiz so they could “demolish” him. She was just something to talk about.
That feels like what we do so often now. Church, I just want to remind you when you get on social media, or when you start talking about a certain person or group that you don’t like, to check your motives. The politicians on both sides of the aisle are all real people. Liberal or conservative, black or white, pagan or homosexual or protestor, they are all sons and daughters, parents and spouses to someone. We need to remember that when we talk about them. We need to ask if we’d act differently if we really did care about saving them instead of demolishing them.
Fred B. Craddock tells the following story:
"At Fannin County Hospital, ministers take turns being chaplain for the week. I took my turn, and the week I was on watch, there was a baby born. Not a lot born in that little bitty thirty-bed hospital. But I went there, it was about nine o’clock in the morning, and I saw all these people gathered, looking through the glass. There was that little bitty new baby, and it looked like a clan of people gathered around. I said, "What is it, boy or girl?"
"It’s a girl."
"What’s the name?"
"Well, is the father over here in this group?"
"No." Looked back over there, and leaning against the wall, was a young man.
He said, "I’m the father."
I said, "Baby’s name Elizabeth?"
"Beautiful baby." She was squirming – you couldn’t hear through the glass – but she was squirming and red faced, and all like that. I thought maybe he might be concerned, and I said, "Now, she’s not sick. It’s good for babies to scream and do all that. It clears out their lungs and gets their voices going. It’s all right."
He said, "Oh, I know she’s not sick. But she’s mad, preacher." I said, "Why’s she mad?" He said, "Well, wouldn’t you be mad? One minute you’re with God in heaven and the next minute you’re in Georgia."
I said, "You believe she was with God before she came here?
He said, "Oh, yeah."
I said, "You think she’ll remember?"
He said, "Well, that’s up to her mother and me. It’s up to the church. We’ve got to see that she remembers, ‘cause if she forgets, she’s a goner." (Craddock Stories, p.127)
We might not agree with the young father’s thinking totally but he does state an important truth about his young daughter’s future; if his daughter is ever to have a home in Heaven it is up to him and his wife and the church to help her get there.
This is what the Bible has been telling us all along in Ephesians 6:4, it reads, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
And as a congregation of God’s people it is our goal to help children get to Heaven. Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
This is why we at the Camden Ave. Church of Christ offer weekly Bible School, Vacation Bible School, encourage Christian youth camp, and do what we can for our youth’s spiritual life by offering other spiritual activities. We want to do our part in helping our children go to Heaven. But parents must do their part in seeing the importance of these spiritual activities and getting your children to these spiritual opportunities.
If we do not help our children get to Heaven, who will? Think about it!
Mark T. Tonkery