Volume 38 July-August-September, 2007 Number 3

THINK ONLINE CONTENTS
That There May Be Equality - Al Diestelkamp
And Yet We Still Call it the Lord's Day - Al Diestelkamp
'Incredible' Beginning - Andy Diestelkamp
Why Go to Hell Twice? - David Diestelkamp
Border Crossing - Matt Hennecke
Transformers - Al Diestelkamp


That There May Be
Equality
By Al Diestelkamp
The apostle Paul, in urging brethren in Corinth to follow through on their desire to aid needy saints in other congregations, expressed that he did not want them to be burdened, "but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack--that there may be equality" (2 Cor. 8:14).

Though he never used the "equality" plea regarding evangelism and edification, we see that churches with financial ability made things more "equal" by supporting gospel preachers to work with other congregations (2 Cor. 11:8).

Here in the United States, scriptural cooperation flourished during the decades of the 1950's and 1960's with able churches helping new or struggling churches by supporting preachers. The struggles and ultimate division over unscriptural methods of benevolence and evangelism took a huge toll on many congregations which had formerly been good about supporting preachers working with smaller congregations.

Now, several decades later, in much more prosperous times, there are many congre-gations which, because of their numbers and/or economic situations, have an abundance of resources for their work, while many other congregations lack the funds needed for productive work.

There has always been some inequality in such matters. Needless to say, there always will be some disparity, but it is my observation that an ever-widening gap regarding financial abilities has produced two kinds of churches--the "haves" and "have-nots." A growing number of congregations have huge treasuries.

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And Yet We Still Call It the Lord's Day
By Al Diestelkamp
No doubt, you've heard what the world thinks about Sundays. Sundays are for:

Sleeping late...
Leisurely breakfasts...
Dressing down...
Traveling...
Family gatherings...
Shopping...
Sporting events...
Homework...
Yard work...
Repairs around the house...
Part-time jobs...
And the list goes on...

Christians have learned that most of these things can be done on Sundays as long as they squeeze in a couple of hours of worship. You'll notice that none of the aforementioned activities are wrong in and of themselves, and with the exception of sleeping late, any of them can probably be done on Sunday without being guilty of sin. However, many Christians clutter their lives so full of non-spiritual activities--even on Sunday--that to call Sunday "the Lord's day" is a bit of a stretch.

As a result, it's best to stay out of the way of the church building door when the last "Amen" is said, lest you get run over by those rushing out to get to their other interests. Some even beat the rush by leaving during the invitation song. That way if someone responds to the Lord's invitation they won't be intimidated into staying to witness a new birth or hear a confession of a brother or sister in Christ.

The "clutter" in Christians lives often affects more than the so-called Lord's day. Congregations often make up worship assignment schedules which, after all the necessary changes, looks more like a baseball manager's lineup card after a 15-inning game. Don't even dream of planning for a week-long gospel meeting, even months in advance, without having several members announce that they have something that will get in the way of attending.

Please don't get the idea that I'm opposed to Christians occasionally being away from their local congregations. We all have circumstances which force us to be away at times, and we need some time to be away on vacation. However, we all need to limit time away lest we hinder our collective work. After all, part of our "reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1) involves sacrifice.


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By Andy Diestelkamp
The beginnings of things always intrigue us. We often mark them with great ceremony at the time if we anticipate their importance (weddings, ribbon-cutting grand openings, signings, etc.). We frequently research beginnings if only later we realize someone's or something's importance (the work of historians). It is therefore of no surprise that thinking men and women have often pondered the beginning of the physical universe.

While many are content to not give it any consideration and perhaps assume that because it is here it has always been here, most observe and realize that all physical things have measurable deterioration and, therefore, cannot be eternal but must have had a beginning point.

Essentially, there are two possibilities for how the physical began: 1) It happened by accident, or 2) It happened on purpose. Expressed another way: 1) It happened by random chance, or 2) It happened by design. Stated yet another way: 1) It began spontaneously from ignorant nothingness, or 2) It began intentionally from intelligence.

In modern parlance it is the debate between "Big Bang" and "Intelligent Design" or "evolution vs. creation." While some have attempted to harmonize the general theory of evolution and creation theory, at its core such an attempt is futile. To borrow from the apostle Paul, "what fellowship has purpose with accident, what communion has design with chance, what accord has intelligence with ignorance, what agreement has creation with evolution," (adapted from 2 Cor. 6:14-16). The answer is none.

When anyone is challenged to give a historical explanation for the existence of something physical, spontaneous generation from nothing is never considered sound reasoning. Yet this is what modern science teaches is the best explanation for the beginning of all things.

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Why Go to Hell Twice?
By David Diestelkamp

Arguably, the statement, "My life is hell on earth," is false. Of course, exaggeration is understandable during times of intense suffering--but what if it wasn't exaggeration? What if life really is so bad that worse cannot be imagined? Well, God still insists that eternal hell is worse, since it is total absence of the presence of His glory (2 Thess. 1:8). Faith says, no matter what happens in this life, to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9) is not the answer.

If someone maintains that their life truly is "hell on earth," then surely they will get their fill of it here and do everything possible to go to heaven in eternity! If life is hellish, why go to hell twice? Why let temporary suffering lead to eternal suffering? Any glimpse of hell someone may think they get in this life should serve as driving motivation, pushing them to find the way to heaven and to do whatever is necessary to go that way.

Why do so many blame God for evil and suffering, rather than Satan? Why do so many choose an eternity in hell rather than in heaven? The biggest problem we face is that it hurts now! It's hard, perhaps even impossible, to ignore searing pain, even if we are told it is temporary or that something better awaits us in eternity. The cry is, "Make it go away now!" The temptation is to deprecate future eternal spiritual bliss while desperately searching for and clinging to false promises of temporary physical relief.

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Border Crossing
By Matt Hennecke
They want citizenship. No, that's not strong enough--they desperately want citizenship. Why? Because they have been living in horrible circumstances--in desolation, in despair, in distress. Every day sees them and their loved ones slip further and further away. And what do you expect? Just give them a glimmer of hope, just show them the promise of a new life in a new country and they'd be fools not to jump at the chance. Anyone would.

The problem is, they want citizenship without going through the proper channels. They want to have all the benefits of citizenship but don't want to follow the established procedures. Laws? Rules? Regulations? Forget it.

And so they sidestep the entrance requirements. But here's the thing: though they blend in and pretend to be citizens, they really aren't citizens. They don't really enjoy the benefits of citizenship. They're aliens.

Oh, did you think I was talking about the thousands of Mexicans who illegally climb the border fences in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas every month for a chance to live and work in the United States? No, I wasn't talking about them, I was talking about....

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TRANSFORMERS
By Al Diestelkamp
If you haven't seen the movie Transformers, you've probably seen the commercials for it, and if you've been around children you've likely been introduced to the toys that inspired the movie. What appears to be one thing, when manipulated turns into something completely different.

The apostle Paul, in writing to the Christians in Rome urged them to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). So, in one sense we should all be transformers.

However, a Christian must be quite different from the toy, which is able to be changed back to its original form at the whim of the child in whose hands it is found. The Christian, after being transformed must remain a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17)--a "new man" (Eph. 4:17-24), not allowing the world to manipulate him back into his former self.

The church member (I wouldn't call him a Christian) who appears to be spiritual and righteous on Sunday, but is worldly during the week, or in different surroundings, has become a transformer of the worst kind--a hypocrite.


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Men's Overnight Study
The fourth annual Men's Overnight Bible Study will be held Friday night through Saturday afternoon September 14-15, 2007 at a campground near Manteno, Illinois. It is hoped this event will encourage and edify men in their particular roles in the Kingdom--helping them be better Christians. Men can get away from the pressures of their lives and come together to focus on male issues which generally are not often, or as candidly addressed, in congregational Bible studies. It allows Christians from some distance to make or rekindle friendships, and to strengthen every man in Christ Jesus. Following are the topics and speakers:

"We Are Normal" - Rick Liggin
"What Does It Mean To Be A Man?" (ages 12-22) - Jeremy Dehut
"Show Yourself To Be An Example" (post college age) - Bryan Bickford
"The Blessings of Being Single" (for singles of any age) - Ryan Barclay
"Would Your Wife Choose You?" (for married men) - Joe Novak
"Is It Impossible for A 'Real Man' Not To Look?" - Andy Diestelkamp
"He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease" - Steve Bonk
"It's Not An Opinion" - Keith Barclay

This event is organized by Christians in the northern and central Illinois area, and is not the work of any congregation. It is the result of the efforts put forth by its organizers and those willing to lead the various Bible studies. For more information and online registration go to: www.freewebs.com/mensbiblestudy, or e-mail Tim Zydek at timzzz61@core.com

 

DIRECTORY OF CHURCHES

The Lord's Church in the Upper-Midwest, is a booklet containing directory information and brief histories of non-institutional churches in northern Illinois, northwest Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Single copies are $7 including sales tax, postage and handling, if mailed. Additional copies in the same mailing (or copies not involving shipping) are $5 each. Order from:

Diestelkamp Printing
P.O. Box 891 Cortland, IL 60112
(815) 756-9840 or Email al@thinkonthesethings.com


About Think's Editor - Al Diestelkamp
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