By Connie W. Adams
What’s His Name?
My wife lived in Cleveland, Ohio for 28 years where she still has many friends. Recently we were in a meeting at Lorain Avenue in Cleveland. The last night, one of the men was called on just before service time to make opening remarks. He had some nice things to say about Bobby and how long they had known and appreciated her. Then he said, “And we’ve been glad to have her husband. Let’s see, what is his name?” Well, that’s not all bad. Paul said man is not to think of himself “more highly than he ought to think” (Rom. 12:3).
No Way to Win
We returned home from the Philippines on February 15. Since that time I have written 85 letters to brethren there. At present I still have 50 unanswered letters on my desk from that land. Because of our meeting work we are away from home more than half the time. It is nearly impossible to handle much correspondence during meetings. When we come home there is much to do and a short time to do it since we have to be ready to leave again in a few days. Some days I answer five letters from the Philippines and pick up the mail the same day with eight or ten more! I am not complaining for we love to hear from those dear brethren. But it did sting a little when we got a second letter from a brother before I could answer his first one in which he said it was plain that we did not love them and that if we did we would answer their letters. I have now answered his two letters and explained some of these things to him. Job said his days were “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6) and James said life is even as “a vapor” (Jas. 4:13). How true.
On Growing Older
I heard a fellow say not long ago that it was not too bad to get older except that it sure was inconvenient at times! I used to think that when I reached my present age that life would slow down a great deal. Instead I find it speeding up with more things to do than ever before. Either that, or else it just takes a little longer to get it done. At any rate I take some comfort in the admonition, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head” (Lev. 19:32).
The Effects of Truth
The hearing of the truth does not affect all people the same way. For instance, on the day of Pentecost, when Peter convicted his audience of having slain the Son of God, “they were pricked in their hearts and cried out to Peter and the rest of the apostles ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” They were told to “repent and be baptized” and that same day about 3,000 souls did that very thing (Acts 2:36-41). Sometime later, Stephen preached the same truth to the Jewish council (Acts 6:15). “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” and then stoned him to death (Acts 7:54-60). In one case the message produced genuine repentance. In the other, they killed the messenger. And so even today, the truth stirs some to obedience and others to opposition. We should not be surprised at either reaction.
Making Havoc of the Church
Those who tell us that we ought to preach Christ and not the church would do well to remember that “Saul made havoc of the church” (Acts 8:3), yet when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus, he said “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). Whatever Saul was doing against the church was against Christ. Would it not follow that what is done in favor of the church is also done in favor of Christ? Maybe that is because Christ is the head of the body, the church, and it is not seemly that heads and bodies should be separated from each other. Would it not also follow that to minimize the church would be to minimize Christ?
More and more I hear Christians speak of “our church,” or “her church” or “their church.” Sometimes I suppose reference is simply made to the local church one attends. But something needs to be said for distinct speech. Paul told Titus to “speak thou the things that become sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1). Later, in the same context he said we ought to use “sound speech that cannot be condemned” (v. 8). A generation is growing up which has a blurred concept of the uniqueness of the church of the Lord. In their minds it is one among many denominations. In this case, it happens to be “our church” in contrast to the Baptist or Methodist Church. When Jesus said “upon this rock I will build my church” he used the possessive form. If it is his, then it not mine. Nor yours. Of course, identify the congregation of which you are a voluntary part but remember that all such congregations are “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16).
Why Don’t We Learn?
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul reviewed the history of the wilderness wanderings of Israel and explained why they had to wander so long before entering Canaan. He said God was not well pleased with them. Then he said, “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:6-12). It occurs to me that many do not learn because they are determined to do what they want to do. On the other hand, it may be that they have not heard much teaching based on these examples of disobedience with their dire consequences. Yes, I know, people ought to study these Old Testament accounts on their own. But those of us who teach classes and preach sermons need to instruct our hearers of these events and sound the same warning that Paul did in 1 Corinthians 10. Preachers, are you running out of something to talk about? How about redigging these old wells. I can see at least four sermons right away in this text. “Oh but that would be negative preaching!” Yeah, I know. Isn’t that great!
What to Do With Song Books You No Longer Use
Do you have some song books stored in a closet or work room where you worship that have been there ever since you bought new books? Are they in good condition? What are you going to do with them? Those of us who have preached in the Philippines are continually asked to help them get some song books that still have some wear left. Brethren there love to sing from English song books. We saw places where there were only a few song books and they were in rags. We visited places where three different books were being used and the song leaders would have to announce three different numbers so all could be ready to sing the same song. I have several letters on my desk right now appealing for 25, 50, or 100 song books. Maybe you could get a crew of young people together and tape the spines of books that have no loose pages but a worn spine. Ron Halbrook, Jim McDonald, Earl Mitchell, Jerry Parks, or Danny McKibben (not to mention a number of other good brethren who have visited there in recent years) can supply names and addresses to which these can be sent. M-bags are the cheapest way to ship these. The Post Office can supply them along with instructions on how to prepare them for mailing. You can send as much as 66 pounds in one bag. I had a letter the other day from a good brother who said that the previous Sunday they had 400 present and had 75 song books. That is more books than most places have. Could you help relieve this problem? Thanks. I knew you would if you only knew about it.