October 2003

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

OCTOBER, 2003

From the pastor

Dear friends and Church family, greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you have attended our worship service over the last month, you have noticed that my heart has been greatly stirred for our people.  In one sense, I feel I have been called to preach all over again.  The whole counsel of God has been neglected by many of our people and many wonderful truths are being ignored.  I remember a sermon that I delivered to our Church, before I was ordained, and a visitor came up to me after the services and said, "You have just preached a Missionary Baptist sermon in a Primitive Baptist Church."  Even then, I was made to wonder how such a thing could be.  Were there parts of the Bible for the Missionary and parts for the Primitive?  Yet, in one sense, I have found his testimony to be somewhat prophetical, like the graffiti on the wall, or the accusations of our enemies when they called us Christians.  Both parties are guilty as charged.  While one offers the free will of man in the midst of every discourse, the other must never, ever, disrupt the flock with duty or change.  Thus, only certain texts are accepted and men on both sides are deemed solid, able and orthodox by such standards.  The byproduct of these extremes is the same: moral decay. While one has followed the prescription of man's free will to "get saved", they can now live as they wish. No need to go to church, pray or read their Bibles, they have been "saved".  They can commit fornication, adultery, get drunk, live together unwed, yet, they are "saved".  May I say, they are not saved from anything!  On the other hand, there are those who have been "saved by grace" who are in the same category: without law.  There is no need to go to church or read their Bibles either because they have been "saved by grace".  They can commit all of the above sins without regard to God because they have been "saved by grace".  May I say again, they have not been saved from anything.  Both extremes live without law unto God.  Thus we see moral decay everywhere.  According to Oxford's Dictionary, there was a sect of people, calling themselves Christians, who maintained that the moral law was not binding upon Christians under the law of grace.  They were called antinomians which came to mean "without law".  Surely, there is no new thing under the sun!!

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the great Welsh preachers of last century, whose preaching brought about a revival, said something that fits the religion of our day: "….present-day preaching does not even annoy men, but leaves them precisely where they were, without a ruffle and without the slightest disturbance…The church is regarded as a sort of dispensary where drugs and soothing mixtures are distributed and in which every one should be eased and comforted.  And the one theme of the church MUST BE (emphasis mine) 'the love of God.'  Anyone who happens to break these rules and who produces a disturbing effect upon members of his congregation is regarded as an objectionable person."

He being dead yet speaks to my heart as if he were here today and attending some of our meetings. Today, there are tons of religion, yet, ounces of true Christianity. Let us pray that the Lord will deliver us from our fears and give us the grace we need to preach the whole counsel of God and give us a love for our people that we will do so in meekness. We become denominational when we must follow a set of rules regarding preaching concerning what we can and can not preach.  Let God be true and every man a liar, let men arise who are bold enough to preach the whole counsel of God to sinners who have been taken captive by Satan; to love them enough to deliver them from darkness to light; and from the power of Satan unto God.  I still have the old fashioned belief that God will faithfully honor His own word when it is preached in meekness and sincerity.  This includes rebukes, preaching every jot and tittle of the law, holding it up before the face of sinners and showing them their sin that they might find their comfort in a crucified and risen Savior. Many Jehudis live among us today, who cut up the prophet's words with a penknife and throw them in the fire. The Lord did not write a portion of the law on our hearts, He wrote it all.  We would ask those who only preach parts of scripture to print a new version of the Bible containing only those texts they deem appropriate. As John has written, "And if any man shall take away(emphasis mine) from the words of the book o this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."  It seems that this has literally come to pass in many places, on all sides of fences, where the whole counsel of God is not preached.     

At this time of spiritual decay, I am calling for a closer walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Christianity is more than having one's name on a church roster.  A real Christian wants, longs, to be in God's house and hear His message expounded.  They want to be with other Christians. A Christian is a person who has a living and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  This relationship is not static, it is dynamic.  A Christian longs for this relationship to grow day by day.  His chief joy is Christ, His word and His house.  His relationship is with a Person, not a creed.  

Lloyd Jones said something else that came home to my heart, reminding me of the blessings and honor of God's call to be a Christian: "I want to get back the discipline of the church-discipline for the minister as for the members-and to recapture the glorious conception of the Christian life, that men may feel that there is no honor which can be conferred upon them so great as their church membership, and that ministers may feel that there is nothing in life to be compared with the preaching of this glorious and incomparable gospel."

We can learn a lot from great preachers whose messages stirred hearts and brought them into humble submission to our Lord Jesus Christ.  I feel that God is calling me to step up to the plate.  Will you step up with me?  

What is happening at DONALDSON

Harmony Church was constituted in 1903.  The time of our 100 year service to celebrate this great occasion is rapidly approaching.  Let us be prayerful that our Lord Jesus Christ will be greatly honored in these services for He is the One that this meeting is all about.  

We have invited Elder Charles Sandage and Elder J.R. Rakes to be with us for our service on Saturday night, October 25th, beginning with a potluck supper at 5:30. Elder Rakes will be with Macedonia Church on Friday night as well as with us again on Sunday night at 7 p.m. A lot has happened in the last 100 years.  Let us thank our unchanging God that He has blessed this church to continue when other things have ceased to exist.

Our library fund continues to grow.  Hopefully, in the next few months we will be ready to begin work.  Let us thank the Lord for this work that continues to prosper!  

Book review

In our library, we have a pamphlet put together by Elder Michael Gowens, entitled, "A Parents Guide to Family Devotions".  This little pamphlet has some wonderful suggestions to help dedicated fathers and mothers begin their own personal family devotionals. Brother Michael included a newspaper clipping in this booklet that we used in one of our devotionals that I share with you.  "Frantic Families Have Misplaced Priorities"-by John Rosemond:

Several months ago, I wrote a column on the "Frantic Family Syndrome"—the hectic lifestyle that results from racing children to and from various after-school activities.  A number of journalists from around the country have since asked me a number of follow-up questions, several of which I reprint below, along with my answers.

Question: What has caused so many American families to become frantic?

Answer: The "Frantic Family Syndrome" is the predictable consequence of shifting the emphasis in child rearing from character development to the development of specific skills.  When it was understood that the primary role of parents was that of teaching children right from wrong, to be respectful of legitimate authority, to accept responsibility for their own behaviors and so on, it was likewise understood that the most important experiences a child could have took place within the family unit.  

Today, because parents tend to think that education in specific skills is utmost, they also think the most important experiences a child can have are those provided by various third parties-coaches, tutors and the like.  Of course, the more skill, the better-or so parents think-therefore, the overcrowded "parenting' schedules that typify many of today's families.

Q: What are the consequences of this to children and families?

A: There are actually two very different consequences--real and perceived.  The real consequences are (a) parents and children are overscheduled and therefore overstressed,(b)family communication and intimacy suffer, and most unfortunately of all, (c) children are denied the benefits of something that can never be replaced: this is, child-hoods spent in relaxed, close-knit family units in which they have plenty of time to absorb their families' values as well as just sit back and smell the roses.  The perceived consequence is that children are developing all these supposedly wonderful talents. 

Q: Why do parents subject themselves to a lifestyle that's so obviously stressful?  

A: These parents are driven, first, by anxiety that if they don’t enroll their children in all these various "opportunities," their kids will fall behind other children and never be able to catch up.  Second, there's the insidious notion that the more acts of selfless service one performs for one's children, the better a parent one is.  In short, these parents have become caught up on the modern "mob psychology" of parenting.  

Q: What do you say to parents who are caught up in "Frantic Family Syndrome?"

A:  I point out that if their children grow up with lots of different skills, but lack strength of character and family values, their skills won't amount to a hill of beans.  It's character that makes the difference in life, and character develops courtesy of and apprenticeship in a loving, relaxed family.  Unfortunately, too many children these days are growing up in the back seats of their parents' cars, talking to the backs of their parents' heads and eating fast food while on the run from one largely irrelevant activity to another.  

Q: Can you give parents just one kernel of advice"

A.  Regardless of the number of children in a family, I advise parents to limit their children's activities such that the family is able to eat a minimum of five relaxed evening meals together per week where there isn't the need to go somewhere immediately afterward.

By the way, a recent survey revealed that more National Honors students reported growing up in families that ate most evening meals together more that any other single variable. Again, character produces skills.  It doesn't happen the other way around.

As parents, we can become so concerned with our children excelling in events, projects, sports and entertainment, that we neglect the thing that God has placed utmost in parental responsibility: spiritual training.      

I encourage our mothers and fathers to follow the pattern of the New Testament church that we advocate in the teaching of our children(Ephesians 6:4).  The father is to be the spiritual leader of the home.  We say we do not believe in Sunday Schools, yet it seems that few families actually have devotionals in their own homes.  I find that there are many adults who are willing to teach a Sunday School, who will not open their Bibles in their own homes and teach their own children.  If you would like some help in starting a family devotional in your own home, please let me know and I will come to your home, with your family, and help you to get started.  If you have children at home, it is never to late to begin…..the sooner the better.  If your spouse presents a spiritual roadblock, pray that the Lord will move their hearts for your children's sake.  I promise you, the blessings are unsearchable!

Remember in prayer

Sister Jean Thomason has had outpatient surgery for a lump under her arm. 

Jacqueline Burroughs has been suffering with kidney stones.  

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