Ecc 3:1-3, states, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;”
For me, this must be a time for things to break down because I do not remember a time in my life when so many of our things have broken at once. During these past three months, our washing machine broke, our old desktop computer finally broke down for good, one of our house fans stopped working, one of our ceiling fans also broke, our garden house broke too, my glasses broke, and just this morning my alarm clock died; this is just the shortlist and not to mention all the things related to Covid-19. (I very thankful nothing major, expect the washing machine has broken, or at least not yet). Now I don’t know if it is because we have used these items more while we have been staying home or what the reasons are. (One elder I used to work with, would tell me I had too much stuff; maybe he is right).
Now with the way things are made today, very few of these items can be repaired, most can only be recycled or thrown away. Someone has made the commit that we live in a “throw-away” society; rarely do we or can we fix things and for that matter, it is almost as cost affect to buy a new product. Broken things in our eyes are not very useful.
But you know not everything in life that breaks needs to be thrown away. Vance Havner wrote, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
We have a God who uses broken things; He can even use people when sin has broken their lives. Have you noticed as you read the Bible that it is often the broken people, the rebels (Moses), the prodigals (son in Luke 15), and the outcast (Rehab) that God uses?
In fact, often before we can be used in God’s service we too must be broken. It is when we are broken, we have a greater appreciation for what God has done for us, we realize our blessings, and we are more useful in His Kingdom.
Psalm 51:17, tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”
If your life is broken, come to Christ today, let today be a time to build up! Christ can rebuild our broken lives when we confess our faith in Him (Rom. 10:9,10), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30,31), put Him on in baptism for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38) and continue to live faithful unto the Lord (Rev. 2:10).
We sometimes sing, “Bring Christ your broken life, So marred by sin. He will create anew, Make whole again. Your empty wasted years, He will restore, And your iniquities, Remember no more.” (Hymn, Bring Christ your broken life, by T.O. Chisolm).
Will you bring your broken life to Christ today?
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Like plants God has designed the church to grow. It grows when it has the right environment for growing.
Notice 1 Cor. 3:6, tells us, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
So, what is keeping our congregation from growing? Well there are at least three things that prevent a congregation from growing. There maybe be other things, but I believe they would all fall in one or more of the following areas.
First, population of people. If a congregation does not have people, it will not grow numerically or relationally. The church needs people. We are in the people business, saving the lost and keeping the saved, saved (Lk. 19:20, and Eph. 2:10). Many congregations are not growing because the population of the area has declined. For example, in the Parkersburg area when Camden Ave. was at its largest the community’s population was also growing. For the last several years the area has seen a population decline. In the 1960’s the population of Parkersburg was over 45,000. Today the population of Parkersburg is around 29,000. This decline is going to influence the congregation in a negative way. On the other hand, if one would look at communities that have a growing population, then often the church in that area is growing as well. The population effects church growth.
Second, and connected to the population, is the economy of an area. This also effects church growth. People go where the jobs are. If an area has no good paying jobs, then they leave the area looking for work or if they cannot leave, they are forced to make whatever income they can, which is usually less. This influences the church because people will not have the financial resources to give to help support the work of the church. When the church is in a low-income area, it is harder to maintain a church building, support the minister, do evangelistic works, and mission efforts. Although some might argue that we really do not need money to do the Lord’s Work, to preach, teach, and minister to people; maybe there is a truth here, but the reality is we do live in a society that is money based and it can greatly influence the growth and work of the church. After all, it is hard to keep the lights on, repair a roof, or print gospel literature when there are no funds to do such work.
Finally, another essential part of church growth, is spiritual teaching and Christian living. A congregation can have hundreds, even thousands of people, it can be rich, and have members who are great givers in the congregation, but if the preaching and teaching of the church are not scripturally sound and its members are not living by the truth of God’s word, then the church is dead spiritually. Remember the example of the church in Laodicea, Rev. 3:17, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Sin to the church, is like throwing weed killer on one’s garden it will destroy everything it touches. Sin is described in Mark 7:20-23 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 as those things that are contrary to the will of God. So, for the church to grow, we must stop sinning and live obediently to God. Jesus states in Luke 13:5 unless we repent all will perish. We must also understand that repentance is not just about helping the church grow but being made right with Almighty God.
What do you need to repent of? (Part 2 of this article will continue in next week’s bulletin)
How many times have we sat back and just talked about doing something instead of just doing it?
Dr. J. B. Gambrel tells an amusing story from General Stonewall Jackson’s famous valley campaign. Jackson’s army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the other side. After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks, and fence rails he could find and built a bridge.
Long before day light General Jackson was told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river. General Jackson asked where are the engineers and what are they doing? The wagon master’s only reply was that they were in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge. (Pulpit Helps, May, 1991).
Many times, we are like those engineers, making plans and talking about doing something yet never really getting the job done.
This is what people often do with their soul. Just talk about doing something: I will go to church one day, I make things right with God before I die, or several other excuses.
You know on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when those three thousand heard they needed to repent and be baptized they immediately did it. The same with the Eunuch in Acts 8, Cornelius in Acts 10, Lydia and the Philippian Jailor in Acts 16. They all immediately were baptized once they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you believe in Christ is the Son of the living God and that He arose from the grave on the third day (Rom. 10:9,10) then why would you wait to be baptized? Why keep talking about it? Why keep thinking about it? Why keep waiting?
2 Cor. 6:2, states, “For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Today is the only day we may have to repent and be baptized; tomorrow may be to late. What is so important that you delay in becoming a Christian?
Ananias ask Saul later called Paul in Acts 22:16, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” And Saul was baptized immediately.
So, what are you waiting for? Rise and be baptized. Written by Mark T. Tonkery
In was July 1975, I was only five months old and had no clue what was going on in the world, but the Camden Ave. Church of Christ was having Vacation Bible School. It was a five-day V.B.S. and according to the July 27, 1975 church bulletin, the average attendance was 630 people. The attendance for each night was: Monday 619; Tuesday 647; Wednesday 674; Thursday 613; and Friday 593.
Now compare these numbers to last year’s V.B.S. (2018). We have gone from a five-day V.B.S. to a three-day V.B.S. Our average attendance in 2018 was 143. The attendance for each night was Monday 133; Tuesday 146; and Wednesday 152.
Many people will look at these numbers and say, “Well a lot has changed in 44 years.” That is true. We live in different times, we have internet, cell phones, and laptop computers. Our cars have better gas mileage, our homes are more energy efficient, and over all we have more advancements in technology than we did 44 years ago. Along with this people have changed, there is less interest in spiritual things, congregations are closing their doors, and it is getting more difficult to find a faithful gospel preacher. But with all the differences and changes today we need to ask some important questions:
- Has the Bible changed? Mt. 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
- Has the need for salvation changed? 1 Tim. 2:3-4, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
- Does what the Bible teach about the church change? Mt. 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
- Has God changed? Jm. 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
- Has Jesus changed? Heb. 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
- Does what the Bible teach about how one becomes a Christian ever change? Act 2:38-39, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
- Do people still die? Heb 9:27, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,”
Although many things have changed over the past 44 years, the essential things of God have not changed. True, it may be more of a challenge to get people interested in spiritual things and the Bible, this does not mean that God’s word is any less important, it means we must work harder.
44 years ago, we had a great VBS, let us put forth a great effort to do it again! If we did it before we can do it again, it is just going to take a lot of effort and prayer!
Let’s invite our friends and family to V.B.S. July 8,9, and 10. Each night will start at 6:30 p.m. and dismiss at 8:00 p.m. See you and your friends there!!! In Christ, Mark T. Tonkery