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Disaster to Hope

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Tonk Talk by Mark T. Tonkery 

It was a dark day in the history of Israel. Upon their first entrance into the promised land as a nation, God told Israel to conquer Jericho by marching around the city. On the seventh day of marching around the city as God instructed, the walls of Jericho came down (Josh. 6:15-21). God also commanded that Israel not take anything from the city, only Rahab and her family were to be rescued, everything else, the silver, gold, bronze, and iron was considered sacred to the Lord and must go into the Lord’s treasury (Josh. 6:19). Later in Joshua chapter seven, we find out that Achan disobeyed the Lord and stole several of the items from Jericho. Joshua found out about the stolen items when his army was defeated by the city of Ai, and it was later determined that Achan had stolen from the remains of Jericho. Joshua and all of Israel took Achan, the items he stole, his family, and all his possessions to the Valley of Achor (Josh. 7:24). There all of Israel stoned Achan, and his family and then burned them and heaped up a large pile of rocks where their remains lay (Josh. 7:25-26).

The place where Achan and his family were stoned and burned was called “the Valley of Achor” which means the “valley of trouble or disaster.” This area would be known for generations of Israelites as a place of disgrace, dishonor, and punishment. The pile of rocks would have been a perpetual reminder to all future generations that one must obey the Lord or there would be consequences for disobedience.

One can only imagine what it must have been like to pass by the Valley of Achor. Maybe it was like the time I went along with the church group from South Point, Ohio and we visited the old prison in Moundsville, West Virginia. As we went on the tour and saw the prison cells and then passed by the electric chair, there was a sickening feeling that came over me, even a type of fear. I was horror-struck at what I saw and heard as the tour guide shared stories about the people who were imprisoned and even died there. If you have ever visited that place, you know what I am talking about. The Valley of Achor was such a place.

Scripture does not say much about the Valley of Achor until we come to Hosea 2:15. In Hosea chapter two God declares that he is going to bring punishment upon Israel for her wickedness and unfaithfulness but after His punishment, He is going to restore Israel. Notice, Hos. 2:15, “And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt” (ESV).

This place of disaster is now going to be a “door of hope.” It is a reminder that we each have our own “Valley of Achor.” We each have had those times in our life where we have had terrible and disastrous things happen because of our poor choices and sin. The good news is that we do not have to live there, through Jesus Christ we can have a new beginning and a new start. Jesus is our “door of hope.”

Jesus states in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Only Jesus Christ can offer the troubled in our world the “door of hope.”

Through Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection our troubled past can be forgiven, and we can have a new beginning through Him. When we confess Christ as the Son of God (Mt. 10:32), repent of our sins, and put Christ on in baptism (Acts 2:38), we enter the door of hope in Christ. Christ waits for the lost to enter the “door of hope.” Are you willing to enter through it? Think about it!

 

Christmas Is Costly

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

            I have heard many people say how costly and expensive Christmas is.  Many people get themselves in such a financial condition, buying gifts, hosting parties, and such that they will be paying on their credit cards bills for the next five months.  So I guess Christmas is costly.  

But in our rush to buy presents and spend money, think about how costly it was for Jesus to come to this earth:

 

  • It cost Joseph the embarrassment and rumors that his soon-to-be wife was pregnant with a child that was not his.
  • It cost Mary her comfort to have her Son born in a stable and to lay him in a manger.
  • It cost Mary and Joseph the benefits of home during a long period of exile in Egypt to protect the babe Jesus.
  • It cost mothers in and around Bethlehem the massacre of their babies by the cruel order of Herod.
  • It cost the shepherds the complacency of their shepherds' life, with the call to go to the manger and to tell the good news.
  • It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts and changed lives.
  • It cost the early apostles and the early church persecution and sometimes death.
  • It cost Paul, John, and Peter as well as other missionaries of Christ untold suffering and hardship to spread the good news.
  • It cost Stephen and James and other Christian martyrs of all ages their lives for Christ's sake.
  • More than all this, it cost God the Father His own Son-He sent Him to the earth to save men.
  • It cost Jesus a life of sacrifice and service, a death cruel and unmatched in history. (Author Unknown)

 

            So before we complain about how much Christmas cost us or any other thing cost us for that matter; think about how much it cost Christ Jesus to come to this world to die for our sins and redeem all people.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.   And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…”

(Philippians 2:5-9)

By Mark T. Tonkery

Wow! What a Great Effort!

Friday, December 17, 2021

A week ago, Kentucky and several states around were hit with a deadly tornado. Many people lost their lives, and many more lost their homes and businesses from the tornado. As soon as the disaster was reported I had several contact me to see how they could help. After talking to our  

elders and other congregations a plan was put together to collect and take items needed to May field, KY; one of the areas hit the hardest by the tornado.  

It was short notice but as soon as the message was sent out on the “call tree” and placed on social media the donations started to come in. There were many congregations contacting us wanting to help, individuals brought donations in and helped load and pack things to be sent to Kentucky.  

 It was amazing to see the members of the Camden Ave. congregation and the area congregations working together. It was the Body of Christ functioning, each doing their part as Rom.  12:4-6, teaches, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” Wow, did our congregation and others use their gifts! 

 As I think about the past week’s events, I came across the following story: When Anwar Sadat of Egypt was assassinated, they provided a temporary burial place beside Egypt’s Unknown Soldier. How interesting that Egypt’s best-known soldier should be buried beside Egypt’s Unknown Soldier! In the kingdom of God, there are many unknown soldiers. They march right beside the well-known soldiers. They each do their part. What each soldier in Christ does is important! Without their work, the well-known (the preachers, elders, and deacons) would not be as known. Without the widows, widowers, the retired couples, the college students, the middle-aged, the singles, the mothers, fathers, etc. nothing would be accomplished! 

 Thank you to all the soldiers of Christ, who helped, donated, packed, folded, loaded, gave,  hauled, and volunteered. Thank you for being the active, and faithful Body of Christ. Without you,  we could not do what we have done! 

Gal. 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who  are of the household of faith.” 

P.S. We are still learning what the needs of the people are in Mayfield, KY, and will do our best to inform the congregation of their needs. Thank you again for  

your concern, help, and ongoing help. The donations were  

taken to the Seven Oaks Church of Christ, in Mayfield,  

KY. May God bless you! Mark T. 

What are we teaching our children?

Thursday, December 16, 2021

                         In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north, so they built the great Chinese wall. It was so high they knew no one could climb over it and so thick that nothing could break it down. They settled back to enjoy their security. During the first 100 years of the wall's existence, China was invaded three times. Not once did the barbaric hordes break down the wall or climb over the top. Each time they bribed a gatekeeper and then marched right through the gates.  The Chinese were so busy relying upon the walls of stone that they forgot to teach integrity to their children.

                   Even today we can have the best home security systems, the finest health care money can buy, the safest car, or live in the securest neighborhoods and still lose our children to drugs, alcohol, immorality, or other harmful influences.  The key is what are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them right from wrong?  Are we actively involved in their lives?  Do we know their friends?  Do we know what is going on at school? Are we being a family to our children?  And most important are we teaching our children to put the Lord God first in their lives?

                   Isaiah 54:13, states, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”

The success of our children and our families depends on many things but the main thing the Bible teaches us is to center our lives on the Lord.

                  One of the saddest passages of the Bible is Hosea 4:6 which reads, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”

                  Notice this verse’s warning; if we do not teach, model, and set godly examples for our children, they will fall away from God.  Hosea 4:6 goes on to teach that God will even ignore our children because we chose not to follow Him.  

                  Why would God ignore our children? Because we have not taught our children to know and follow the Lord.  They cannot know and follow the Lord if we have not made God a priority in our life.

                   The wisdom of the Wall of China still rings true today.  Don’t be so busy relying on physical things to bring us security, but spend time with your children teaching them things of God that will give them security for eternity.  

 

By Mark T. Tonkery

Greet one another

Monday, December 13, 2021

 “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more” (1 Thess. 4:9-10).

Paul in 1 Thess. 4:9-10 commends the Thessalonians on their brotherly love and encourages them to keep on loving one another.  I feel that way, and I am sure you do too about the Camden Ave. congregation, we are a warm and friendly group of Christian but Paul would want us to keep up the good work in being friendly and kind to one another.  Not only is this biblical but it is also important to growing the church of Christ.

In a recent survey by Thom S. Rainer, he reported that 41% of Non-Christians who became Christians and 61% of Christians who transferred their membership to another congregation came because of the friendliness of the congregation. Of course, there are other major factors like evangelism, doctrine, and Biblical preaching, but we must not overlook friendliness of the members of the congregation, our friendliness is important to helping teach and showing the lost what we believe about Christ and His Word.   

      Many individuals have either turned to or away from the Lord because of the welcome extended or neglected by a local church.  All Christians should be concerned about being friendly and greeting one another especially our guests at every service.  Here are some suggestions that may help each of us in greeting those who visit the services of the church: 

  • Go to our guests and welcome them; do not wait for them to come to you and introduce yourself.
  • Greet all age groups.
  • After you have met them, help introduce them to others.
  • Especially if they have children show them their classroom, nursery, and restrooms.
  • Make sure they receive a bulletin.
  • Invite them to other church activities, church dinners, or out to lunch.
  • Ask them to fill out a visitor’s card and place it in the offering basket.
  • Ask them to sit beside you.
  • Invite them back to our next time of meeting.

“Five minutes—that is all it takes to make a positive or negative impression on guests to our worship services. Those first impressions often determine if guests will return. Because those first five minutes are so important, we want to do everything we can to make sure our guests are sought out, greeted, and made to feel welcome.

I am asking ALL of our members to take one simple step to help make sure our guests feel welcome. For the first five minutes before or after each worship service is started or dismissed, will you look for guests to greet. This is the most important thing we can do to be seen as a friendly and warm congregation. Will you invest five minutes in eternity?” (Adopted from:  http://yourchurchcangrow.com

Remember: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” (Proverbs 18:24).

Written by Mark T. Tonkery 

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