This past week our hearts were broken to hear of the passing of young Eli Clark. Many in the congregation know the family very well. I was first acquainted with Eli and his family through Ohio Valley Christian Camp a few years ago.
Since hearing about Eli’s cancer diagnosis and now his passing I have been asked why did God allow this to happen? This is similar to what Solomon asked in Ecclesiastes 7:15, “In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.” It seems that even Solomon did not understand such situations. So, I do not pretend to understand why this happened to young Eli nor do I have all the answers. But, the scriptures do provide us with some comfort.
Such as Isaiah 57:1-2 which states, “The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.”
This passage reminds us that sometimes the devout and the righteous die and are taken away from calamity and enter God’s peace. For whatever the reason the righteous and devout are taken away from us, it may be that God is helping the individual avoid further or worse calamity, evil, or other troubles. For the Christian, death is not always a bad thing, sometimes God may allow it to protect us from more evil. Although for those who are left to continue to live upon this earth they miss and grieve for those who depart to the next life, we must take comfort that they have peace. Revelation 14:13 also reaffirms this by saying, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
In closing there are many questions when it comes to the death of a young person. Although God’s Word can comfort us, and we can have faith in the fact that God will take care of those who pass from this earth at an early age or any age. We still hurt and grieve the passing of our loved ones. Maybe we can relate to King David in 2 Samuel 12:22-23, He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
We each will go to the grave or meet Jesus Christ in the air at His second coming. Heb. 9:27 teaches, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” There are no promises in this life that we will live to an old age, but whether we are young or old Rev. 2:10 encourages us to, “…Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” May each one of us be faithful unto death, whenever that day may come.
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Have you ever had something like this happen to you? A while ago I was getting ready to come to the office and as I was getting ready and gathering my books and papers that I had been using at home and wanted to bring to the office I laid them on the table. I then made my lunch. I looked quickly at my belongings, to make sure I had everything and then went out the door. I came to the office and started getting right to work it was about 8:30 a.m. I never really stop until about 11:30 a.m. and thought well I better get ready to eat my lunch. So, I got up and went into the refrigerator and did not see my lunch. I thought, “oh know I left my lunch in the hot car great.” So, I ran to the car and there was nothing there. Then I start to really panic where is my lunch? So, I ran back into the building and checked the refrigerator again; it still was not there. Then I ran to my office and looked it over and my lunch was nowhere to be found. Then it dawned on me, I must have left it at the house. Sure, enough at the end of the day I found my lunch sitting on the table at home where I left it.
Have you ever forgot your lunch? Don’t you hate having that lost feeling? You know that feeling when you have lost your keys or your eyeglasses? You feel like you are in a dark room and cannot find the door. Your stomach starts to knot up, you get nervous, your voice may raise a little, and you start panicking as you're frantically looking for your lost keys? Glasses? Or lunch?
As I thought about my “lost” lunch, I wonder if God ever feels that way when He sees people He created, whom He gives food, water, clothing, and so many other blessings; lost? I wonder if God ever wrings His hands, waiting for those who are lost to come home? I wonder if God ever paces the floor and wonders when Johnny or Sarah are ever going to come to their senses and repent? I wonder if God ever looks at the lost and says I have given you my Son what more can I do to show you I love you? I do not know if God ever gets that lost feeling as we do when we lose something, but I do know that God does not want anyone lost.
Notice these verses:
- 1 Tim. 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
- 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
I believe these verses sum it up very well; God does not want anyone to be lost.
I do not like the way I feel when I have lost something; I wonder why we would want God to feel that way? I wonder why we would keep Him waiting?
Acts 22:16, asks a very important question, “And now why do you wait? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
Today is the time to stop the waiting, now is the time to be found in Christ. Will you confess your belief in Christ, repent of your sin, and be baptized into Christ? God is waiting for you. What are you waiting for?
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
I first met him in 1968. I loved him from the start. He was an inspiration to all who knew him. He had a smile that never quit. His humility and sweetness were so evident. I believe it was true that he had no enemies. All who knew him loved him. We just knew him as "Hud" McGee. His likeness and image speak to me even now after all the years.
I finally asked him, "Hud, you have so many friends, how do you do that?" His answer came in an expected humble and quiet way.
"Well," he said, " through the years I have tried to make as many new friends as possible, and I've done all I could to keep all my old friends, too." Is that a profound answer? Well, maybe and maybe not. Perhaps the profundity lies in its simplicity!
Friends are such a valuable commodity. Friends, to me, are worth more than all the money and wealth in the world. My friends keep me going. I couldn't make it without them. I want to make as many new friends as possible. And I don't want to lose even one of my old friends.
Thanks "Hud," for the lesson! I hope to see you again, old friend! - Tom Butterfield
Remember when novels used to end with, “And they lived happily ever after”? I venture to guess that rarely, if ever, has a marriage been entered into with a desire for less than “happiness every after.” Charlie, a teenager, asked his uncle Ted, who had been married for more than 50years, what was the secret to a happy marriage. Uncle Ted answered, “You can be happy in your marriage if you choose to be happy.” Here are a few rules that will help marriages become happier:
1. Make a decision to be happy.
2. Think kind and happy thoughts about each other.
3. Choose to say positive things to each other.
4. Choose to have fun time together.
5. Always keep the forgiveness door open.
6. Choose to send out positive vibes to each other.
7. Choose to be optimistic even in tough times.
8. Choose to be kind and courteous to each other.
9. Keep conversations cheerful and open…listen.
10. Remember each day is the first day of the rest of your life.
11. Live with the end in view.
12. Get up on the “right side” of the bed.
Happiness in marriage is a choice that originates inside the heart. It doesn’t depend on external trappings or circumstances.
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