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
1. Pray Immediately Upon Rising - In what better way can we begin the day than by thanking God for His protection and care during the night and by asking for his guidance during the new day? Prayer at the beginning of the day is an insulation against evil throughout the entire day.
2. Pray Before Every Meal - God has provided for our needs in such a bountiful manner! The least we can do is express our gratitude as we sit down to enjoy each meal. In these days when we eat many meals in crowded public restaurants, a few moments of silent prayer often must serve for the audible prayer which we pray around our tables at home.
3. Pray At Set Times - The ancient Jews, and others, reserved specific periods each day for prayer. We find it helpful, too. These regular times serve as reminders and help keep the busy world from crowding out our periods of communion with God. One woman uses her dishwashing time for prayer.
4. Pray When You Are Discouraged - Most of us don’t need much encouragement to pray when we are discouraged or when we face some special problems. At such times prayer comes naturally. It is comforting to know that God listens to our prayers in times of crisis. The Christian has the privilege of leaning upon the Lord in times of difficulty.
5. Pray When You Are Happy - It is easy to pray in times of crisis...and equally easy to forget to pray when life is running smoothly. Christians need to thank God for their happy and prosperous lives.
6. Pray With Your Whole Family
There is something wonderful about a prayer in which both children and parents have a part. Let it be one united prayer, with each member of the family contributing a few sentences about those things closest to his heart, beginning it with the smallest child who is old enough to say a prayer. Then go from child to child and on to parents, until finally the father closes the prayer with the final "amen."
7. Pray Immediately Before Retiring - After the cares and toils of the day the child of God needs to talk with his heavenly Father. There are blunders to be confessed, sins to be forgiven, and there is gratitude to be expressed for the blessings of the day. Sleep will be sweeter if we have committed ourselves to the Lord’s loving care.
8. Pray Fervently - James says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much in its workings" (James 5:16), Christ commended the importunate widow for her persistence (Luke 18). We must feel deeply the things we say to God, and must say them earnestly, fervently in full faith.
Batsell Barrett Baxter
Ironic! Several years ago, at Christmastime it was reported that two dozen gunmen had seized Town Hall in Bethlehem, holding the local governor at bay. Of course news of violence, radical religious extremism and unrest are daily news from this part of the world, And yet, two thousand years ago, an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds in this same land and announced. "We bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people, for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord...and there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to men" (Luke 2:9-14).
I have been asked "Whatever happened to this promise of peace? If the coming of Jesus into the world was meant to bring peace - it certainly never happened! War, crime, civil unrest and rebellion continue to prevail in the world."
My answer is: "Jesus did bring peace!" How do I know? "He brought peace to me!" Jesus promised peace, not to the world on a wholesale basis, but to each individual who loves Him and will keep His word. (John 14:23) He said "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)
The reason that man is troubled and afraid is because he has been alienated by sin from the God who loves and has created us. "Your iniquities have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2) Thomas Aquinas correctly stated that man "cannot rest until he rests in Thee." The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world was to die on the cross - so the just penalty for our sins could be paid. Once our sin had been atoned for by the blood of Jesus - God was free to offer us forgiveness and reconciliation. By the sacrifice of Jesus, God "reconciled all things to Himself...having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled." (Colossians 1:21-22)
Because of the cross of Jesus, I am at peace with God. No longer do I have to be worried about the sins of my past - they have been forgiven! No longer do I have to fear the Judgment - I am justified by the blood of Jesus. Because of Jesus, I have a relationship with God that is based upon love and characterized by hope and the assurance of salvation.
Because Jesus came, not only do we have peace with God, we are also at peace with ourselves. Sin is such a destructive force in the lives of every man. Whether we realize it or not, the sinner is tormented by the guilt of how his actions have hurt both God and his fellowman. Jesus not only offers us peace with God, but He also teaches us to live in peace. In Isaiah 48:18 God lamented, "Oh that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river."
Living by God’s commands not only will bring peace in our own life, it will also allow is to live in peace with one another. I have seen countless examples of dissention between neighbors, families and friends that have been resolved peacefully because the spirit of God prevailed. Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9)
I recently saw a bumper sticker that said it all: Know Jesus - Know peace. No Jesus - No peace! The only way for man to have true peace with God, himself and his fellowman is by obedience to the gospel. That is why the scripture says "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things." (Romans 10:15)
This past week we had a daily reminder of smoke and fire from the old Ames plant fire. The billowing smoke could be seen and smelled for miles. The fire, I am told was very hot and difficult to put out due to chemicals stored there. The Ames fire comes on the heels of the fires in California where many people lost their houses and loved ones. Fire is very devastating.
Although these fires have been tragic and caused a lot of destruction the Bible tells us about another fire that will be even more destructive. The fire of Hell.
God describes Hell in the Bible, so we can understand it and avoid it. God uses our five senses to help us to understand Hell as a real place of punishment. We may not understand every aspect of Hell, but we can understand the following:
- Sight- I can understand darkness, can’t you? Hell is described as: blackness of darkness, 2 Peter 2:17; chains of darkness, Jude 6; and outer darkness, Matthew 8:12.
- Hearing- We can understand and know what pain sounds like, correct? Hell is described as something we hear: weeping and gnashing of teeth, Mt. 8:11, Mt. 13:42, and Mt. 25:30.
- Feeling- One of the worst injuries one can receive is having our body burned. We have all touched a hot pan, or hot part on a car. I know what pain feels like, don’t you? Imagine your whole-body day in and day out full of the feeling of burning. This is also how Hell is described: Unquenchable fire, Mt. 3:12; Eternal fire, Mt. 25:41, 46; and agony, Lk. 16:23.
- Smell- I know what foul air smells like, don’t you? (How many of us smelled the Ames plant fire?). Hell has a smell of burning sulfur: Rev 21:8, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
- Thirst- I know what is to be thirsty, especially after working in the sun on a hot day. Hell is waterless: Zec. 9:11, and Lk. 16:24 the rich man wanted to quench his tongue.
Then add to the fact that the Bible states that this torment will last forever and ever as we see in Revelation 20:10. Hell awaits all who live a Christless life.
Hell is no joke. Hell is real. Hell is hot. Hell is horrible. Hell is for eternity. But we do not have to go there. Christ has provided the way of escape and has provided the forgiveness of our sins. If you are uncertain where you will spend eternity, will you search the scriptures and listen to what they have to say. Will you believe in Christ, confess his name, repent of all your sin, and be baptized for the remission of sins into Jesus Christ and live for Him? (see: Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Rev. 2:10, and Acts 22:16). Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery
Scientists have learned that that the human tongue has a special trait that can heal itself quicker than some other body parts. Apparently, there is a natural anti-biotic in our tongues that helps with the healing process. We are constantly taking in all sorts of potentially harmful micro-organisms, viruses, and other things into our mouths. However, God has made us so that our bodies can ward off these harmful organisms before they ever take root in our bodies.
Our tongues can be anti-biotic in another way as well. We can use our words to bring healing to others. Notice what the Bible teaches, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). How would our world be different if we used our words to heal and not hurt?
God designed our tongues to be “healers” not destroyers. How are you using your words to bring healing to others?
I am Mark T. Tonkery with a minute of meditation from the Camden Ave. church of Christ where you are always welcome.