|Don't Let Them Bring You Down|
By David Diestelkamp
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” ~Ephesians 6:4
children up in the training and admonition of the Lord requires faith,
intent, and perseverance. It has been correctly observed that raising
children “isn’t for wimps.” For some, the level of the challenge is an
excuse to compromise, while for others it is a perfecting and purifying
of godliness are greatest when they involve close relationships. The
closer the relationship, the greater the opportunity for epic failure
and spectacular success. This is why the sacrifice of young Isaac was
such a faith demonstration for Abraham (Gen. 22; Heb. 11:17). Parents
must not allow the bond they enjoy, and even crave, with their children
to compromise the bond (fellowship) they have with God.
a child is very young it is hard to imagine it could be anything but a
joy to “bring them up.” However, when a child develops a will of its
own, parents at times must choose between God’s will and the child’s
will. Often it will be physically and emotionally easier to leave them
to their own devices. Proverbs warns that this “child left to himself
brings shame…” (Prov. 29:15). Although it can be exasperating and
create fissures in our relationships, we must not waver in our efforts
to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Cosby jokes that a parent’s true goal is really just one thing: quiet.
Unfortunately there is more truth to this than we may like to admit. It
is certainly quieter physically, emotionally, and relationship-wise to
allow our children to have their way. Training and discipline require
effort and sometimes conflict, both of which we usually try to avoid in
life. It’s at times like these that we need to remember that doing
nothing is doing something! “He who spares his rod hates his son, but
he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24).
will attempt to wear you down. They learn early the effectiveness of
crying, then tantrums, then pouting, then begging, then threatening and
shaming. They are testing if “no” means “no.” They are testing if this
is the “training of the Lord” or just the parent’s selfish whim.
are supposed to be learning that honoring their father and mother is
“…the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and
you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:2-3). They are being taught to
obey “…in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). It isn’t about them
always understanding why right is right. It certainly isn’t about them
always agreeing that something is right. They are learning that you do
things because they are right.
things aren’t changed by crying, tantrums, pouting, begging, threating
and shaming. When such reactions wear parents down, resulting in
compromise, children learn that “right” can be negotiated, compromised
and changed. In the end, parental compromise of what is right in the
name of peace can produce in children a sense of lawlessness and
anarchy which touches both their physical and spiritual lives.
to “bring up” our children, but if we’re not careful they can “bring us
down.” Perhaps the greatest threat we face is in allowing parental love
and loyalty to be perverted so as to train and admonish parents in the
ways of the world. For example, parents may swallow the line: “I love
my child too much to tell them ‘no’” or “I couldn’t bear to discipline
my child.” Although these wear the mask of love, they are not of God,
but of the world.
know that parents are tempted to change their convictions about modest
clothing because their children want to be considered in style,
attractive or popular. Heart strings are pulled when children say they
are considered weird because they can’t stay out all night, go to a
dance, or go to an immoral movie. Parents may see tears when they
refuse to buy into the latest materialistic trend, opting for
contentment with what they have. Refusing to miss church assemblies for
school events, sports, and vacations will seem unreasonable to most,
but not to godly parents. Even in worst case scenarios, teaching and
rebuke will not be opposed, moral teaching like God’s law on divorce
and remarriage will not be rewritten, and church discipline will not be
rejected by Christians, even when application is made to their
children. And when children decide that the God of the Bible too strict
or politically incorrect, godly parents will not welcome the diluted
idol god invented by modern religion to deceive children and parents
of faith are convinced that application of God’s will to their
children’s lives is right and therefore must not be compromised.
Parents of faith are intent in their unwavering active training of
their children in the way of God because it is what is best for them.
Parents of faith persevere, holding to the application of truth no
matter what the real or threatened consequence to self, child, or
parents bring their children to Jesus because there is no other One to
“bring them up.” “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of
eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). Parents, bring up your children in the
training and admonition of the Lord. Do not let your children bring
you, and them, down in the training and admonition of the world.
940 N. Elmwood Drive, Aurora, IL 60506
By Robert E. Speer
years ago—Ouch! Has it really been that long?—my family and I responded
to a plea from another family to join them in a work they were trying
to establish on the southern shores of Lake Superior. When we arrived
the number of families, including ours, was two. Several months later,
the man in the other family was given a job promotion, so he and his
family moved away, leaving us alone. The nearest church in the state
was 200 miles away.
invited another family to join us, and then a third, and not long after
that a young couple came to join our ranks. The numbers grew slowly at
the time, and the church continues to meet in that community. It is
still comparatively small but, small or not, a faithful band of saints
is the legacy that began 52 years ago.
things stand out in memory: The closeness we felt among those few
members, and the difficulty of maintaining survival level support. The
common reply among those who bothered to respond, with variations, was,
“You don’t have enough people to justify our financial support.” I
struggled with this for five years, occasionally falling back on
part-time secular work to feed the family and pay the rent. And then,
with regrets, I moved on.
would be a pitiful story if I were the only preacher to face this
indignity. More the pity, however, with others involved, this story has
been repeated many times over the years. And the attitude continues. I
hasten to say that our brethren, when adequately informed, are the most
generous people in the world. Yet, far too often, far too many who are
capable of supporting men in difficult places have given up on the
“little” church; the numbers, they say, do not justify supporting
preachers working among saints so few.
attitude is still with us, as proved by two recent situations coming to
my attention: two different states, two small congregations and two
experienced preachers willing to work with them. It has been suggested
that if the numbers were larger—say, 75 or 80 people—and/or the
preacher better known, support would be provided.
is wrong with this picture? Several things, and it is observed that
there are preachers who contribute to the baleful situation. To
illustrate: A young preacher begins his work with a small church. Then,
after getting some experience and some “pulpit polish” he moves up;
that is, to a larger congregation, one that is self supporting. Then,
with a bit of ambition and a little more time he is able to obtain a
position with a still larger church, one not only self supporting but
one with elders and deacons. This is not an indictment of all young
preachers, but if you are able to read this you are able to recognize
that it does happen.
the pendulum the other way, I am aware of a congregation that has grown
to the point that it is not only self supporting and guided by the
wisdom and example of godly elders but has also determined to have a
young preacher join them and their seasoned preacher. In a time frame
to be determined they will be instrumental, after the young preacher
has gained experience, knowledge and confidence, in sending out one of
these men to begin a new work. Which one? The older, seasoned preacher
will be sent out to begin and work with a church without elders while
the younger one will remain under the tutelage and encouragement of
elders. This case is rare. What a wonderful thing it would be if it
were emulated over and over!
appeal is that congregations capable of supporting a preacher “in the
field” not judge the worthiness of the work on the basis of head count.
Assuming Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said “a labourer
is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7, KJV; or, “a laborer is worthy of his
wages,” NKJV), I plead for the support of competent men who are willing
to work with smaller numbers in view of development and growth of those
groups. Please don’t make beggars —and paupers—of those who are willing
to go where others will not.
Indeed, preach the word! May God bless you in this effort.
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596 Marseille Boulevard, Winchester, KY 40391
By Al Diestelkamp
we have opportunity to study the Bible with people who have been taught
in sectarian churches, a discussion about the necessity of water
baptism for salvation is often met with the question, “But what about
the thief on the cross?”
one will even say, “I just want to be saved like the thief on the
cross.” For many years I employed the usual argumentation to show that
thief lived and died under a different dispensation. While that is a
legitimate argument, and one that eventually must be made, lately I’ve
taken a slightly different approach: I agree with them that the only
way anyone can be saved is the very same way the thief was saved.
their attention, I remind them that the thief was not the first to be
saved by Jesus speaking their sins forgiven. Three of the gospel
writers tell how a paralytic was brought by some friends to Jesus
(probably for physical healing), who seeing their faith, said to the
man, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matt. 9:2;
also Mk. 2:5 and Lk. 5:20).
another occasion, Jesus, after allowing a sinful woman to kiss and
anoint His feet, said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has
saved you. Go in peace” (Lk. 7:48-50). Her faith, combined with Jesus’
words provided her salvation from sins.
though Jesus didn’t use the words, “Your sins are forgiven” to the
thief on the cross, He definitely implied it when He said, “Assuredly,
I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43).
what was it that saved the thief on the cross? It was the faith he
expressed when he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into
Your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42), combined with Jesus’ words.
back to my declaration: The only way anyone can be saved is the very
same way the thief was saved—by Jesus’ word! Jesus isn’t physically
with us here on earth to speak our sins forgiven, but he left His word
in His last will and testament. That word is just as powerful as it was
when He walked on this earth. Listen to the words of Jesus: “He who
believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16).
in commissioning His apostles to “make disciples of all the nations,”
not only told them to baptize them, but also to teach them “to observe
all things that I have commanded you...” (Matt. 28:19-20). Later we
find His disciples telling sinners to “Repent, and let every one of you
be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...”
That is the word of Christ!Back to top
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
By Andy Diestelkamp
was a dark and stormy night...” Wednesday, May 25th, 2011, tornado
warnings had been issued for our immediate area. At 6:30 p.m., a glance
at the weather radar on my computer revealed a line of angry red storms
headed right for us. My guess was that they would hit Pontiac close to
7:00 p.m...Bible study time. I made a quick phone call to the other
elder just moments later, and we decided to call as many as we could
and tell them to stay home. I knew we would not catch everyone, so I
went to the church building. Sure enough, one was already there waiting
in his car. As he left, another couple from out of town drove up and
parked a good distance away and walked to the building. As I apologized
and explained our rationale for canceling, the wind picked up mightily
and it started to pour. “Right decision,” I thought to myself. (The
previous Sunday night’s devastation in Joplin, Missouri, was still
fresh on my mind.) I invited the couple to go to our house (three
blocks away) to
wait out the storm. The power flickered off and back on again. I stayed
at the building until about 7:05. As I got in the car to come
home, the winds had already subsided, and I got a phone call saying the
warning was called off. “Wrong decision?” I wondered to myself.
article is not about my brief second-guessing of our decision to cancel
a Wednesday night Bible study. We’ve done that before, we’ll likely
have occasion to do it again. Yet, this caused me to give consideration
to the motives behind the choices we make.
beings created in the image of God, we have been given the
responsibility to make choices and decisions. God could have
preprogrammed us to do only what He wants us to do, but it is obvious
that the sovereign God chose to grant us free will. To suggest that
human free will is an affront to God’s sovereignty is itself an affront
to the sovereignty of God because it ignores the fact that God has
consistently given man the responsibility to discern and choose between
good and evil (e.g. Deut. 30:15-20; Josh. 24;15; Prov. 1:28-33; Heb.
the beginning, man has demonstrated a propensity for rationalizing his
evil choices. Scripture abounds with examples of how we do this. Eve
knew God’s expectations (Gen. 3:2,3), but she allowed her own lusts to
cloud her decision-making. She rationalized that the fruit was good for
food. She figured that something that appealing could not be wrong. She
reasoned that the wisdom acquired would be a good thing (vs. 6).
However, such lust-laden decisions are not limited to choices between
inherent good and evil but include what many would categorize as
liberties. Beware, it is not wrong for things to be tasty, beautiful,
or mind-expanding; but if those are the primary motivations for our
rationale to partake of them, then we are ripe for being seduced by
we are capable of offering what we think are good reasons to justify
our actions, God is not mocked. He knows the difference between our
given reasons and our real reasons. When Saul was confronted about his
failure to destroy the Amalekites, his good reasons included the
opportunity to make sacrifices to God, but the real reason was that he
feared the people more than he feared God (1 Sam. 15:13-24). When God
asked Adam why he was hiding himself, Adam said it was because he was
naked. That sounds like a good reason. When God asked Adam if he had
eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam explained that the woman God had
given to him gave it to him. This was true! However, the real reason
that Adam ate of the fruit and hid himself was because he listened to
his wife rather than listening to God (Gen. 3:17).
face it. Sometimes we make the choices that we do simply because we are
afraid to lead as we ought. This applies not only to kings and husbands
but to parents, elders, preachers, and all our varied roles in
relationships with others. We have to make it our aim to be
well-pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5:9), for if it is people that we are
primarily seeking to please, then we are not Christians (Gal. 1:10).
noted before, our approach to godly decision-making does not apply just
to choices between inherent good or evil. Decisions between two or more
permissible options still require us to keep spiritual principles
foremost in our decision-making. What may inherently be a liberty may
not be helpful or even right to do, depending on the circumstances (1
Cor. 10:23,24). Are our choices simply based on what’s best for us? Do
we consider and give preference to what might be best for others? We
should (Rom. 12:10). We do not glorify God when we exercise a “right”
without consideration of whether or not it helps others and is in
harmony with godly principles.
sometimes refer to a person’s scriptural “right” to divorce. However,
the action of divorce is never presented as a “right” in Scripture. We
infer the “right” from Jesus’ exception to His teaching against the
violence of divorce (Matt. 19:9). However, Jesus never intended that
inferred “right” to be used in violation of the rest of His teaching on
how we treat others (cf. the Sermon on the Mount—Matt. 5-7 or His
teaching immediately preceding—Matt. 18:15-35). Indeed, some will use
(and creatively expand) Jesus’ exception as their reason for divorce,
even though they have real reasons for which Jesus did not give
exception. To allow men to separate what God has joined together
without challenging their motives simply because they have “the right”
is a violation of the spirit of our Lord’s teaching.
Martha on one occasion entreated Jesus to tell Mary to help with the
serving, His response was that Mary had made the better choice in
sitting at Jesus’ feet to hear His teaching (Lk. 10:38-42). I know that
many people bristle at this story because Martha was doing good in
showing hospitality. Serving others is not only praised in Scripture;
it is commanded. However, the truth is Martha was “distracted with much
serving” and was “worried and troubled about many things” that, while
good, were not as important as what Mary had chosen to do.
our lives are so cluttered and consumed by things that are “good” that
there is little room for the things that are better. We may have the
liberty or the “right” to do a host of things, but if those things
distract us from doing what is better, then we are abusing our
liberties and rights.
or not to meet on any given evening for Bible study is a matter of
liberty. Therefore, whether or not to cancel such a study as we did is
a matter of personal judgment. Perhaps you would not have made the call
we made. Let us be careful about judging one another on these matters
of liberty. However, if the real reason I wanted to cancel Bible study
that evening was to avoid the embarrassing fact that I (the preacher)
had not done my Bible lesson (saved by the tornado warning!), then
surely you see that I would have abused a liberty.
realm of liberty is not a spiritual vacuum wherein God has no opinion
about the choices we make and our reasons for them. Indeed, it is into
that realm that Christ has called us. Therefore, His principles must
accompany us. There is no realm of liberty where Christ does not go
with us. Therefore, let us be careful about the choices we make and the
reasons we give because God knows if the real reason is to love and serve or if it is simply an occasion for the flesh (Gal. 5:13).
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323 E. Indiana Ave., Pontiac, Illinois 61764
By Al Diestelkamp
|For The Good of The Congregation|
words in the title of this article are sometimes used when trying to
jus-tify some decision. Brethren might suggest a preacher ought to find
another place to work, ostensibly “for the good of the congregation.”
Or, without any suggestion from the brethren, a preacher might decide
that it is in the best interests of the congregation for him to move on
to other challenges. Sometimes these are just an excuses, while at
other times they may legitimate reasons. Certainly, the good of the
congregation should affect all our decisions.
have some biblical examples of individual as well as collective
decisions that were made based on “the good of the congregation.” Some
of these were wise choices; others were not:
used this argument when He called Moses to leave his comfortable
surroundings to lead the Hebrew children out of Egypt (Ex.
3:7-10). Admittedly, Moses was somewhat resistant at first, but
eventually came around to God’s point of view. At age eighty, Moses’
willingness was for the benefit of the congregation—not himself.
God miraculously freed the Hebrew children from bondage, and challenged
them to take possession of the promised land, they had a choice to
make. They undoubtedly thought it in the best interest of the
congregation to believe the ten unfaithful spies and reject the
minority report of Joshua and Caleb (Num. 13-14). This, of course,
proved to be an excuse that led to 40 years of wandering, instead of
later, the shipmates of Jonah decided, “for the good of the
congregation,” to throw the prophet overboard (Jon. 1). On the surface
that might seem to have been the wrong decision, but since it was part
of God’s plan, it was the right decision.
a problem arose in the Jerusalem church over the perceived neglect of a
minority group among them (Ac. 6), the apostles proposed a solution
that proved to be not only in the best interest of the congregation,
but also “pleased the whole multitude” (v.5).
sure the disciples in Jerusalem thought they were acting in the best
interest of the congregation when they failed to believe that Saul of
Tarsus was a true disciple. To their credit, when presented with the
evidence from the mouth of Barnabas they accepted him among them “for
the good of the congregation” (Ac. 9:26-28).
the apostle Paul was resisted so much by the Jews in Corinth, he shook
his garments and declared that he would “go to the Gentiles” (Ac.
18:6). Later Apollos went to that same area and was able to “show
from the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Ac. 18:24-28). Here we
have an example of two very different decisions, both proving to be
“for the good of the congregation.”
apostle Paul’s instructions to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 5:1-13)
regarding discipline, telling them to “purge out the old leaven” and to
“put away from yourselves that wicked person,” was “for the good of the
Christian, when making decisions, ought to take into consideration the
good of the congregation of which he is a member. This may require some
sacrifice of desires or ambitions. It’s not too much to ask,
considering all our Lord sacrificed “for the good of His congregation”
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112