When Is It Time to Appoint Elders and Deacons?

September 27, 2011 by  
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First a congregation must recognize the authority, purpose and need to fill the roles of elders and deacons.

The New Testament certainly addresses those issues.

I Timothy 3:1-3, Titus 1:5-9, Acts 14:21-23, Philippians 1:1, Acts 6:1-6

After congregations have successfully installed elders and deacons then the question arises, when do we add to or replace men that can no longer serve for whatever reason.

Years ago many of us that are now members of the Franklin Church were part of another congregation. We had four spiritually strong, qualified elders. They were men of leadership and vision.

In a relatively short period of time, one elder had a heart attack and died at a seemingly young age. One elder became gravely ill and was admitted to a nursing home and was never able to resume his duties as an elder. One elder was stricken with cancer and died.

Selecting men to serve as elders in an “emergency” puts the congregation and the men asked to serve in a stressful situation. The congregation feeling pressured to appoint elders may approach men who are not fully qualified. Men may agree to serve who do not meet the qualification or who do not have the desire at that time to serve.

When is the time right to appoint elders and deacons ? N O W !

As a congregation we should always be watchful for men that are qualified to serve as elders. We should always look to men qualified to become deacons, when there are specific task to be accomplished.

Men of the congregation should be constantly working to prepare themselves to meet the qualifications to become an elder or a deacon. This should be a natural part of spiritual growth.

Brethren, let’s not wait for an “emergency” situation to occur. Let’s prepare our congregation and help our brothers prepare themselves to serve in whatever area of the Lord’s work that they are qualified and have the heart felt desire to serve.

– David Coleman

 

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No Retirement In The Lord’s Work

Our culture in the USA has taught us that you work hard until 65 or 70 and then it’s time to retire from everything, relax, and do whatever your heart desires or in other words, nothing at all, including spiritually.  That’s not what we read in the Bible.  Take the story of Caleb.  Caleb stands as an inspiring and encouraging example of having enormous spiritual energy at the age of 85.  He first appears as one of the 12 spies that Moses sent out to scout the land of Canaan.  Upon returning, all 12 men confirmed the land’s beautiful layout, but 10 of the scouts focused on the land’s fearless inhabitants (Num. 13:31-33).  Joshua and Caleb believed that God would find a way for Israel to conquer the Canaanites (Num. 14:6-9), telling the Israelites to immediately take the land (Num.13:30), but the people wanted to stone both Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:1-4, 10).  God protected them and punished the people (Num. 14:11-38).  Later, God rewarded Caleb and Joshua for their faithfulness.  Among all those who left Egypt, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones to enter the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey.

I’m sure that Caleb witnessed many people die over the 45 year period of wandering in the wilderness, but his faith did not diminish in that time (Josh. 14:6-15).  In (Josh. 14:10-11), Caleb states, “ today, I am 85 years old.  I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then.”  (NLT version)

WOW, 85 years old and Caleb still had the spunk of a 40 year old.  I’m sure that Caleb helped preach over several funerals too, over that 45 year period in the wilderness, and he still had a great attitude and faith in his creator.  I’m also impressed with the fact that since Joshua was in the spotlight after the death of Moses, Caleb was not jealous, but faithful in serving God in whatever situation he was in, to the fullest, and didn’t lose his spiritual energy or zeal for serving God.  He never made an excuse because of his age either.  His testimony reveals his character and rock solid faith in God and his promises.

We need to overcome the obstacles, including the doubts and fears in our lives, as Caleb did, and accept the reliable promises of God with staunch faith and courage even in our golden years.  It’s very encouraging to see older men like Ward Hogland, preaching Christ at 87, as strong as he did in his 40’s, with the courage and conviction to preach the truth.  When I see men like Bill Cavender, who preached the gospel up until a few months before his death, whose faith never wavered, and he looked so forward to being with God, even though he’d miss his earthly family here; that is encouraging and teaches us what Biblical faith is all about.  As we approach our later years and are rounding 3rd base, let’s serve God with unabated vigor, serving God faithfully and believing in his promises, trusting his grace, until our last breath, just like Caleb did.

– Phil Barnes

 

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Count Your Blessings

For many years we have sung the song “Count Your Many Blessings.” This is a very old song, but with a most relevant message for us today.

It seems today as if God blessing us is equated with our personal financial (material) condition.

Having talents, education and abilities to provide financially for our families certainly is a blessing from God. However, if we see our financial independence and ability to earn a living as our only blessing from God, we have really missed the point of the song and the true meaning of God’s blessings toward us.

If we go back to the verse of the song that says, “Name them one by one” and we actually sit down and list all of the ways God has blessed us, we will definitely understand how blessed we are.

What’s on your list, mine surely is not finished or complete. Somehow making a list, writing them down, giving them some thought helps us realize just what a blessed people we are.

With the economic hardships that many people are experiencing today, if we equate God’s blessings with our financial health we will truly miss all the other wonderful ways that God has blessed us.

Think about how God has blessed you, write them down -”Count Your Many Blessings, Name Them One By One.”

Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.

Matthew 6:31 & 33 “Therefore take no thought, saying what shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you“.

–David Coleman

 

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Our Hope because of the Unchanging Nature of Christ

Last weekend, Franklin, Tennessee had over 15 inches of rain within 30 hours.  In my 53 years, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed as much water in such a short period of time.  There was flooding all over the Middle Tennessee area causing death and devastation affecting so many people.  With it comes so much uncertainty about life on earth. Relatives and friends are sick and dying, people losing jobs, children and spouses abused, divorce all over the globe, and I could go on and on.  You can get so easily discouraged if you let this world fill your thoughts with all the suffering and misery that goes with it.

One thing is for certain and for sure, God loves mankind and proved it by sending His one and only begotten Son to the cross.

Although people change over the years and relationships come and go with friends and family members , Jesus hasn’t and doesn’t change, and never will.  Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”  Is there anything more comforting than the thought of God never changing!  Man has always been able to count on God for every situation in life.  That is such a comforting thought in this day and time.

Even though we have been blessed in this country and have so much, life is a challenge and we are constantly facing the temptations of life.  We have decisions to make every day, and God is the only one that we can count on daily, 100% of the time, to be there with us and for me as I trust in him and serve him.  No matter what I encounter in this life, through today’s challenges and victories, and tomorrow’s losses, the Bible tells me there is a foundation and anchor in my soul whom I can count on. That person is Jesus Christ, who is  with me, and getting me through every situation and temptation in life.

So, as the Hebrew writer encourages the Christian in chapter 13, and verse 6, by writing, “so that we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What shall man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).   I can’t state it any plainer than the Bible.

–Phil Barnes

P.S. The house pictured above is David and Jennifer Barlar’s. They are members at Franklin. If you would like to help the Barlars, contact Ryan Thomley at rdthomley@gmail.com. You can also go to the Facebook page he has set up to find out more info about how to help– A Flood of Love. (ELC)

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Faith: The Foundation of the Christian Life

April 15, 2010 by  
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One day I was talking to a man that builds houses. I told him I have seen houses in a certain area that were not all that old, but had problems with cracks in the brick walls, sagging roofs and other structural problems. I have also seen other houses in the same area that are much older but have no structural issues. He said the difference is the houses with problems probably have a bad foundation and the ones without problems have a good strong one. I found this same principle in the Bible. Luke 6:48-49 says, “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was build on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who builded a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

The Christian life is built on a foundation of faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8). What is faith? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We also read in Romans 8:24-25,“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Faith then is believing in something you cannot see or touch. To illustrate this point, I have personally not seen the beautiful country of Scotland, but I believe it exists, or I have faith based on evidences that it exists. I believe or have faith that the Bible is the inspired word of God, based on evidences that we find in the Bible, as well as ancient manuscripts found and read by Bible scholars.

When we read the Bible we must have faith.From a human standpoint, we cannot explain how God spoke the world and all the universe, as well as all animals and mankind into existence. We cannot explain how Noah could build a craft as large as the ark where two or more of all kinds of animals on the earth as well as eight people lived for over a year. Without faith I cannot explain how a man could have been swallowed by a great fish, live inside it for three days and survive. Without faith I could not understand how a man who had been dead for several days was raised from the grave to live again.

The Christian life must be built on a strong foundation of faith, Paul summarizes the topic of faith in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” If you have a strong faith in God and his teaching you will be able to withstand the temptations placed on you by the devil, but if you have a weak faith or have doubt you will never be able to overcome the many temptations placed on you by the devil. Faith can grow and mature by a regular study of the Bible and applying the principles found therein to your life.

–by Don Adair

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Doubt is Different from Not Understanding God’s Plan

When I was growing up in the country there were certain things I experienced that were without a doubt real and easily believable. Take for instance when my dog had confronted a skunk; I smelled the odor and the evidence left no doubt what had taken place. Looking west and seeing the colors as the sunset were just beautiful. Before eating dinner one evening I picked up a pan with food in it and was reminded very quickly, it was hot; didn’t take long to realize it was either.

I remember driving a tractor while helping dad with the crops many years ago. He instructed me to steer the tractor in a certain direction. From my position in the drivers seat I could see the steel drum in front of the tractor but dad could not see it from where he was standing. I didn’t run over the drum but ran against it. How did I know dad was upset? I heard him in no questionable terms. Dad pretty well let his feeling be known in words that are not printable. Once on a vacation trip my granddaughter wanted me to taste one of those jelly bean type candies, I did and it was horrible. She laughed and told me the flavor was earwax and dirt. I certainly had no doubt as to what it tasted like.

I have used the above examples to illustrate the way we identify something. These 5 senses leave little doubt that what we hear, see, smell, taste, and touch are real.  But there is something in this life that a lot of people have and it can’t be detected by one of these senses: Faith.

Faith as used in the New Testament is defined as “firm persuasion,” a conviction based upon hearing. We read in the Scriptures things that are true.  We cannot determine this  by the 5 senses.  How do we determine it is true?  We read in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” When read, God’s word produces a firm persuasion and a conviction in our heart based on the Word. For the best definition of Faith notice Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the substance or assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In this verse, which is the only definition of faith revealed in the Scriptures, the root word from which “substance” is translated means “ that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on.” In the last part of the verse the root word from which we translate “evidence” signifies a “conviction” in the mind by the substance as hearing reveals it. This faith is the evidence that it is and cannot but be so. We cannot see it, otherwise it would not be faith. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, ”We walk by faith and not by sight.” If we could prove by the 5 senses that faith existed then we would be walking by sight and not by faith.

But some have doubts about what the Scriptures reveal. There are certain  things I don’t understand and can’t explain other than that is the way God accomplishes His purpose. His thoughts are so far above ours and His ways past finding out. But doubts and not understanding are completely different. One may believe that God raised Jesus from the dead on the 3rd day, and that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and yet have doubts what God said happened in other instances. My question is “How do you determine which to believe and which to doubt?” We cannot say one miraculous event is believable and another we doubt.  Doesn’t this show a lack of faith on our part of believing God accomplishes things in his own way?

Consider when Jesus told Peter to come to him from the boat in Matthew 14:31. Peter walked on the water but when he looked around he started to sink. Jesus extended his hand said, “O you of little faith why did you doubt?” The context of James 1:6-8 certainly applies here. The one doubting is described in verse 7 – 8. Let us accept the fact that there are some things God has done. The way He accomplished his purpose we may not understand. But not understanding and doubting what God says and the way He has done things are totally different. May we pray to understand as we increase our faith and not doubt what is revealed in Scripture.

-Jimmy Frasier

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A Clean Slate

When God, thru Moses, led his people to the Promised Land, he instructed them to drive out all the inhabitants of the land. These people were idol worshipers and God did not want his people mixing with them for fear that the Jews would take on their idol worship and forsake God.

Given a Clean Slate, they could worship and serve the true God as he instructed and remain faithful to Him alone.

King Josiah served God from an early age. One of his first acts in serving God was to tear down the “high places” and destroy the wooden, carved and molded images. He too was creating a Clean Slate for the children of God to begin serving God again without the baggage of the previous evil kings.

The history of the Jewish people reveals that they were repeatedly rejecting God and turning to idols and worship of false gods.

When one is baptized to become a Christian we also are given the opportunity of a Clean Slate.

Psalm 51:7 says “we shall be whiter than snow.” All of our previous sins are forgiven by the grace of God. Yes, we will stumble and fall from time to time, but Christ’s blood continually cleanses us from our sins as we repent of them.

Let us not be like Israel of old. Let’s not turn back to our former lusts of the flesh. Let’s not take up our “idols” and reject God in doing so.

We have a Clean Slate – let’s fill it with good things (Philippians 4:8).

-David Coleman

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God’s Grace in Time of Troubles

I Peter 5:6-10 has always been one of my most comforting and favorite passages, especially as I grow older.  There are times in our life when things kind of seem unbearable.  During those times, we often feel like we’re the only ones going through this type of mental anguish and pity ourselves.  Peter warns and encourages us by stating, ” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time” (I Peter 5:6). God’s help will come at just the right time. “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).  

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us the same thing.  Take your cares and worries to God. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).  I Thessalonians 5:6,8 also warns us to be alert and sober.  

Perhaps Peter remembered his own difficulty in  keeping awake during Christ’s agony in Gethsemane.  (see Matt.26:36-46)  “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world” (I Peter 5:9).  How comforting to know that there are others who are going through the same trials as we have to endure, and they have not wavered under the storms of life.  

God has always provided a way for us to handle any situation in life. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, and strengthen and establish you” (I Peter 5:10).  God has always provided a way for us to handle things in this life through his grace and providence.  We must be patient and endure the storms of life in order to make it to heaven.  

Life is short and eternity is forever. We can prevail by the grace of God. 

–Phil Barnes

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In God We Trust

March 11, 2010 by  
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The phrase, “In God We Trust”, is found on the United States’ currency.  I fear it will not be there for very much longer.  Why?  As a nation, the majority seems to have lost their trust in God. The polls suggest a majority of Americans still believe in God, but how can anyone have faith in someone or something they no longer trust.  We know the biblical definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”(NASB).  Thus, we have the difference in belief and faith; trust!  Do we really trust God?  When we receive a promise and feel assured the promise will be delivered, we must necessarily trust the promise giver.

In Joshua 1, God spoke to Joshua encouraging him to be strong and courageous in the face of the daunting task of taking the promised land.  In His encouragement, He promised Joshua something that would bolster his courage; in verse 5 He tells him – “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”  What it came down to; did Joshua merely believe in God or did he believe God.  Did he trust God when He said to enter the land which He was giving the people; the land of promise?  The question we all have to ask ourselves is, do we just acknowledge God or do we really believe Him and trust Him?

When we read about the examples of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we read about people who really trusted God.  God had made each of them promises.  Each acted boldly based on their trust that God would keep His promises.  Verse 13 tells us they trusted in God and His promises though they died without seeing the promises fulfilled.  God has made us promises.  Do we trust Him so as to act boldly based on those promises even if we do not see them fulfilled in this physical life?

This is a time in my life when I see the world not knowing who to trust anymore.  Marriages fail due to a violation of the trust spouses place in each other.  We see our current financial crisis because individuals with great power have violated the trust placed in them.  Many see our government in what appears to be a complete shambles, so they have lost their trust in its ability to govern effectively anymore.  When all else fails and when our trusted companions let us down, we can still trust in our God.  We may not see the results we long for while on this earth, but do not construe this to mean that the results will not come.  I often ask myself, do I want what I want now because I have placed too much emphasis on the here and now, or do I trust God to keep His most precious promise in the judgment?  I strive to have a faith like Paul’s when he said in 2 Timothy 1:12 – “… for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (NASB).

I take great comfort in the words of Jesus when He spoke to Thomas about you and me in John 20:29 – “…Because you have seen Me, have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed”(NASB).  As a part of that faith, we must truly trust in God and Jesus to fulfill the promises made to us all.  True faith and trust comes from knowledge of God and the history of His promise keeping.  This knowledge is not found in philosophy or secular education; it is found in the Bible according to Romans 10:17.  God has revealed Himself to us through His Word.  But even beyond that, He has revealed Himself to us through His creation.  Romans 1:18-22 tells us that God’s creation reveals His power, and by its very existence, man knows God.  Verse 20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  Verse 21 tells us that some did not acknowledge God because of their futile speculations and their hearts became darkened.  Verse 22 says “Professing to be wise, they became fools.”  I am reminded of the Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, who while in space said he did not see God up there.  Yet, astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders of Apollo 8, chose to read from Genesis 1 about God’s creation.  As Romans 1 tells us, some may come to distrust God to the point they no longer acknowledge God.  Their hearts have become darkened.

Let’s all be guided by the wisdom found in Proverbs 3:5-8 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.”  Do I possess all knowledge and all understanding? No! But I do know God and am determined to obey His will whether I understand it completely or not.  It’s a matter of trust.

In God we must trust!

-Ron Adams

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What if You Make the Wrong Choice?

Which Road Will You Choose?

      In this wonderful country of ours, that allows all Americans freedom of religion, some people believe the Bible was written by inspired men. They believe it describes a God who created man, the earth and the entire universe. They also believe it contains God’s plan of redemption, from the Old Testament through the New Testament culminating with Christ’s death on the cross. In God’s plan, Jesus lives a sinless life and was sacrificed so we can have forgiveness of sins. The New Testament also describes the establishment of the Lord’s church, and the spread of the gospel throughout the known world. We believe the New Testament reveals that men will be judged and will either go into heaven to be with the Lord or suffer in hell with the devil and his angels.

      There are other people who choose not to believe in God. They refuse to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that when we die there is no life after death. There are still other people that believe in parts of the Bible. They believe there is a God and some of the Bible is inspired by Him, but some of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, was written by uninspired men and is mostly composed of myths and fables.

      Now let’s consider the above scenarios. I believe with all my heart the Bible is from God and that we will be judged for the way we live. But for this discussion, let’s say there is no Heaven or Hell, when we die, all ends. Those individuals that followed the Bible lived a wonderful stress free life. They did not cheat on their spouses; therefore they were not eaten up with guilt, always afraid of being caught by their mate. They did not cheat on their income tax; therefore, they are not afraid of an IRS audit which would catch them. Because of their spiritual training before they married, they do not commit sexual sins that might lead to a pregnancy or contracted some type of sexually transmitted disease. If they get sick or become incapacitated in any way, their brothers and sisters in Christ will take care of them. When they lose a loved one, their brothers and sisters in Christ will be there to comfort them, prepare food for their family and many other acts of kindness. There are many more reasons I could give why being a faithful Christian results in a wonderful life on the earth.

      Now for all those that reject God and his Bible nor accept God as our Creator but reject parts of his Holy Scriptures, would their life be as happy as the individuals described in the above paragraph? I have personally known some that I worked with that rejected God and his teaching. They decided to enjoy the worldly life style. They wanted to have a good old time doing what they wanted to do. Some were having affairs, always lying to there mate, always worrying about getting caught. I have known others addicted to drugs and alcohol that lost their family and jobs. They were mental wrecks. I have known others addicted to the internet and all the things it had to offer, i.e., pornography and other impure things. They would spend hours on the computer filling their mind with filth and garbage found there. How could anybody be happy with this life style?

      Now let us fast forward to the end of time, and we find out there is a God, there is a judgment day when all people will be judged for the way they lived. We find out there is a Heaven and a Hell. What happens to those that loved the Lord and lived their lives as His children?  We read in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who do my commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and enter through the gate to the city.” Also in Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from your eyes there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

      This is what happens to those individuals that reject all or part of God’s Holy Scriptures, and lived a life contrary to the scriptures. We read in Luke 13:27-28, “He will say I tell you, I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from me all you workers of iniquity. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the other prophets in the kingdom of God and yourself thrust out.”

      Also, in Revelation 21:7-8,  “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But the cowardly, unbelievers, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstones, which is the second death.”

What if you make the wrong choice???

-Don Adair

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