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Our God, He is Alive

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

 

                  How many times have we sung the hymn “Our God, He is Alive”?  It is a beautiful hymn that is still very popular among members of the Lord’s church.    It was written by Aaron Wesley Dicus (1888-1978).  He was a very talented member of the church.   He was a gospel preacher, author, scientist, college professor, inventor, as well as a hymn writer.  Our God, He is Alive is Dicus’ most known hymn.

                   Dicus wrote Our God, He is Alive as a response to the 1960 God is Dead movement. The movement resulted from the book The Death of God, written by Gabriel Vahanian. Vahanian and other leaders in the movement were not actually anti-God, though that was not easy to decipher in all the controversy. Their point was that God was dead in the minds of most people in the sense that modern people showed little concern for God. Nevertheless, the mere mention of God’s death raised the ire of believers across the country, and unbelievers quickly joined the debate to oppose those who affirmed that God remained alive and active.

The controversy escalated and soon saturated the media. From the believers’ perspective, the coverage seemed to be intentionally confrontational. For example, the April 8, 1966 cover of Time magazine simply read, “Is God Dead?” (See the article here: www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,835309,00.html.).

                   Although we are long past the controversy of the 1960’s we still live in a day and time where many people believe God is dead.  Still, yet there are several Christians who show up to worship services on Sunday but live the rest of their lives as if God was dead.  This same attitude was true of many in the First Century when Paul states in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

                   Dicus’ hymn “Our God, He is Alive,” is still a reminder that God is alive, He works in His creation, and is involved by providence in our lives.

Heb. 1:1-2 puts it this way, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” 

“Our God, He Is Alive” is just not a nice hymn to sing, but are words to believe, and live by!  Let us live and act as if we believe “Our God, He is Alive.”  Think about it.

Written by Mark T. Tonkery

 

The Honor of Marriage

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

            There once was a young boy who was playing by the seashore.  While playing he came across some seashells.  He started playing with the shells when to his surprise a white, smooth, round, stone fell out of one of the shells.  He began playing with it when he decided to see how far he could throw this white stone.  As the white stone was in midflight, the little boy realized the true identity of the stone; it was a precious pearl.  At that instant, he yelled for his family to come and help him find this pearl that had landed in the water.  As the family searched the water, they could not find the pearl.  It was gone forever (Author unknown).

             This story reminds me of how many people today treat the marriage covenant between a husband and wife.  Many enter marriage not realizing the value of this precious institution and end up throwing it away.

            Hebrews 13:4 states, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” 

This verse tells us that marriage is an honorable thing before God and should be honored by human beings as well.  The Bible tells us that marriage is honorable for at least six reasons.  First, marriage provides companionship for man and woman, Genesis 2:18.  Second, marriage helps a man and woman to be self-controlled, Hebrews 13:4. Third, marriage completes a man and woman, Genesis 2:23.  Fourth, marriage between a husband and his wife is the best environment for raising children, Genesis 1:28, 9:1, and Malachi 2:15.  Fifth, marriage provides protection for the family, Ephesians 5:25, Titus 2:4-5, and Malachi 2:15. Sixth, marriage is a visual object lesson of the relationship between Christ and his church, Ephesians 5:31-33 and Revelation 21:2.

Are you honoring your marriage?                                                                                     

Written 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 

Laborers are few

Friday, December 10, 2021

 

Tonk Talk 

Luke 10:2, “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 

Jesus told us in Luke 10:2, that when it comes to Kingdom work, there is going to be a shortage of workers.  This is still true today, many congregations are looking for ministers, and even those congregations who have ministers are often looking for Bible class teachers, men to lead during worship services, and servants in other areas of the work of the church.   One of the disappointing aspects of ministry is to hear when no one will step up and serve; in fact, many good works have ceased because no one would lead or support those who lead these efforts.  The following are some suggestions on how we can get more volunteers to help with various works of the church:

·Plan ahead.  Too many times we do not have people to help us in ministry because we simply do not plan ahead.  Many will wait to the last minute to get helpers, and by that time many have already made other plans.  If you are in a leadership position, respect other people’s time, plan ahead, do not wait until the last minute to ask for help. 

·Be involved yourself.  Too many times we cannot find help because we did not support others’ efforts.   If you need volunteers, go help someone else.   When they see you helping them, they are more likely going to be open to the idea of helping you.

·Be an example - When I first came to the congregation here, our elders gave me a job description of the minister’s position.  There were several items listed that one would expect a minister to do such as doing the preaching, teaching, evangelism, etc.   At the conclusion of the job description were these words:

“If there is a good work done by the church, participate as a Christian family and as members of the Camden Avenue Church of Christ as much as possible.  We cannot encourage or expect our members to support efforts that we as leaders do not support.  There occasionally may be conflicts that make participation impossible, but when possible, elders, deacons, ministers, and other recognized leaders - lead by their example.

These words of wisdom from our elders are wise words for all especially those of us who lead other people, lead by example.

·Go ask people to help – I once needed cookies for VBS, so I went to the best cookie makers of the congregation – the grandmas of the congregation.   They were happy to make the cookies for VBS.  After they agreed to make the cookies, I asked these wonderful ladies why they hadn’t made cookies for VBS before.  Do you know what their answer was?  No one had asked them.    This taught me a valuable lesson about recruiting volunteers, people need to be asked.  Too many times we put an announcement in the church bulletin or have it announced from the pulpit and people don’t pay attention because they did not hear it or read it.   Those who do hear the announcement sometimes think the announcement is referring to someone else.  If we want volunteers, go to an individual and ask them personally.

                   It is true as Jesus reminds us that we will always need workers in the Kingdom.  But these four things:   planning ahead, being involved yourself, being an example, and personally asking an individual to help, can be ways we can improve our recruitment of volunteers.    

Written by Mark T. Tonkery

America: Kick the (Co)Habit

Thursday, December 09, 2021

 

If you hear wedding bells, the Census says you're in the minority. For the first time in history, the number of unmarried people (aged 24-34) is actually higher than the number of couples who have tied the knot. According to the 2009 figures, marriage rates have hit an all-time low. Most experts blame the recession. The data seems to indicate that several people are postponing marriage while they hunt for jobs, which is understandable. Unfortunately, it has led to a boom in another trend: people saying "I do" to shacking up. In just one year, the number of cohabiting couples has spiked by 13%--one of, if not the, biggest leaps in a single-year span.

While it may help pay the bills in the short-term, the cohabiting frenzy may do more harm to the economy than good. Marriage happens to be one of the best things Americans can do for the economy! It helps couples build more wealth, reduces poverty levels for women and children, benefits minorities, and gives men an edge in take-home earnings. And those are just the financial reasons. Studies show that live-ins are more likely to: be unhappy, divorce, cheat, feel depressed, get abused--and in the end, they're less likely to marry each other! Cheryl Wetzstein of the Washington Times worries that too many people have a "don't worry, be happy" attitude about moving in together--"similar to what was written about no-fault divorce in the 70s. [And] we all know how well that's worked out," she writes. (Author Unknown)

Heb. 13:4, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."

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