Category Archives: 2015 – Sept

Life As A Preacher’s Wife – Emily Hatfield

Recently, my husband did an amazing job delving into 1 Corinthians 7 and answering some tough questions about the passage. Throughout the sermon, he made observations about marriage and focus and the husband and wife relationship. As I sat there, I realized I was the only person in the audience who really knew if I should respect the words coming out of his mouth. No one else is married to the preacher. No one else really knows how he treats his wife. No one but me, the preacher’s wife.

There are a lot of women who seem to despise the role of preacher’s wife for one reason or another. Be it the glass house, higher (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations, seeing ‘behind the curtain’ into unfortunate conversations and attitudes…who knows. Some women just really seem to not enjoy being the preacher’s wife, or even being called the preacher’s wife. Me? I don’t really get it.

As I was listening intently to the man I love open the Word that I love, I felt an incredible sense of blessedness. As a preacher’s wife, I get to be married to a man constantly engaged in deep Bible study. Married to a man who will consistently try to better himself, who will freely say I’m sorry, who will forgive me as Christ does. I get to be involved in many people’s lives. Help them through struggles. Greet them with love and cheer when their world might otherwise be in chaos. I get to teach, love, and serve in unique ways because of my proximity to God’s messenger. As one who wasn’t given the opportunity to fulfill that role (1 Tim. 2:12), this is the next best thing, isn’t it?

However, I can sort of understand where some women are coming from. They don’t necessarily thrive on being in the spotlight. They don’t handle awkward or probing questions well. They don’t enjoy being held to a different standard than others, but here’s the thing: we’ve got to get past all of that.

The fact of the matter is, if your husband is a preacher, you are held to a different standard. Your husband proclaims the word of God to groups of people multiple times throughout the week. He will speak on subjects like marriage, holiness, purity of speech and dress, and proper attitudes. Nothing he says will be taken seriously if his wife isn’t living what he preaches. Just like people won’t listen if his own life isn’t in order, the same can be said of his family. How could my husband have gotten into the pulpit Sunday and spoken boldly and confidently about God’s instruction on marriage if his own marriage wasn’t as God intended? It would have been hypocritical. And so, there’s a part I play in his preaching. There’s a standard that has to be different for me. Now, every Christian women should be striving to live to that standard as well, but other people’s souls don’t necessarily depend on that. In our case – they do. Souls will not listen to a preacher whose wife is out of control or standoff-ish. Souls will not feel at ease with a preacher whose wife seems to despise her role, wants to not be involved in all of the ways he’s asking the congregation to be involved. People will tune him out if they see his wife not behaving in a submissive way, a respectful way, a pure and holy way. People will laugh when he preaches on modesty if his wife is known for her low-cut attire.

It may not seem fair, but that’s the way it is. And I, for one, absolutely love it. Maybe it’s the competitive spirit within me, but when I know people are watching, I want to be better. When I know people will be studying me and my family, I want to be sure I am doing things exactly as Christ would have me to do them, lest they be lead in the wrong direction.

So, if you find yourself struggling in your role or nervous to get married to a preacher or bitter because people expect so much of you— change the way you think about it. Realize that God is using you in a unique way, and use your position as the preacher’s wife to help spread the truth of God through your pure, holy, Christ-seeking spirit and influence.

emilyhat.com

Among The Scholars, Once Again – David W. Hester

The 2015 Christian Scholars Conference was held on the campus of Abilene Christian University on June 3-5. As many readers know, I have attended two of these events in the past; I wrote a book, Among The Scholars, in 1994 in part about my experience when I participated. Following the second time in 1996, I thought that it would be my last. So it was a surprise for me when I received an invitation to present a paper in the 2015 conference.

The theme for the event at ACU was “One World.” Knowing from past experience the tilt of the Conference to the extreme Left, I decided that the best approach would be to present fundamental truths in a kind but unapologetic way. Yet, the title and abstract of the presentation would need to be chosen carefully. Thus it was that I submitted the title, “And All Who Believed Were Together (Acts 2:44): A Global Strategic Plan For The Academy.” The presentation would propose a plan to promote diversity and acceptance within the university setting, while at the same time upholding and promoting biblical truth. The model of the Jerusalem church in Acts 2 was the template; yet, the entire presentation would be teaching the truth on salvation, the church, worship, and godly living. Knowing the hostility that many of the participants had in the past towards such, I was not expecting a positive reception.

One bright spot for me was the fact that my wife Brenda and oldest son Will were able to come with me (our youngest son Jonathan was still in school at Auburn and could not make the trip). Having them with me was a boost to my confidence level. A preacher friend of mine, Robert Lukenbill III, was also able to come for part of the conference. Having familiar faces always helps in any situation. Here it would be crucial. Never having visited ACU, I did not know what to expect; yet, having now been there I can frankly say that the ACU campus is very attractive. The building which houses the College of Biblical Studies is quite impressive. It is unfortunate that it is being used by Leftists to promote their agenda.

Drawing from my experiences, I was able to make some comparisons between the 2015 conference and those I attended in the 1990s. One thing that was apparent was the difference in professionalism. In the 1990s, the conference had a feel of insurrection. This was seen not only in the informal dress of many of the participants and attendees, but also in the informal atmosphere. In 2015, the dress of the participants and attendees was far more formal. There were more suits worn. This may seem like a trivial point, but the contrast was striking to me. There was more money invested in the Conference, which was seen in the slickly produced schedule made available to all, as well as the greatly expanded number of participants. Additionally, many brotherhood college and university presidents were present (save those from Freed-Hardeman and Faulkner). Overall, it seemed as if the CSC had adopted a “we’ve arrived” attitude, as if their approach to biblical matters was now the norm.

I also saw a hardened resolve for the Leftist view on everything from the role of women to ecumenism to hostility towards the “traditional” views of brethren in the church. In fact, there were a number of women who were active participants/presenters in the conference (thus violating 1 Timothy 2). There were also a number of denominational participants who were treated as brethren. In some of the sessions, there was a palpable hostility displayed against past perceived grievances by brethren in the 1950s-1970s, particularly those in “positions of power.” By way of example, this particular point was played out in one of the sessions—“Biblical Scholars in Churches of Christ and Questions of Social Justice.” Among the participants were Richard Hughes, Harold Straughn, Victor Hunter, and Robert Randolph. Younger readers may only recognize the first name; many of those over the age of 40 will immediately know the rest. Straughn, Hunter, and Randolph were actively involved in the effort to change the church in the 1960s-1970s. In fact, Hunter was an editor of Mission Journal, which promoted extreme Leftist positions on doctrine. Straughn and Randolph are now active in the Christian Church. During the session, the focus was upon both racial and gender issues. Straughn and Hunter were outspoken in declaring their belief that churches of Christ should always have had a wide role for women in the church, including preaching. They lamented the state of affairs (as they saw it) in the 1950s-1960s. They blamed prominent preachers and editors for the “traditional” positions that were taken.

Yet, it was a presentation of another participant that was shocking. Alisha R. Winn addressed “A Walking Message: Jesus, Social Justice, and Scholarship.” Robert Lukenbill III heard her presentation, and provides the following report: “In the course of her message, she contended that biblical scripture was story telling. She stated to this effect that the one who tells the story determines how the story is told. Winn used Nehemiah and Ezra as examples. She stated that the people of the land (who had inhabited Canaan/Israel while Israel was in captivity) were not the bad guys, but were victims of the Jews attempting to kick them out of their homes. Another thought Winn had was that at the end of Ezra, God never told them to leave their Gentile families in order to be in a right relationship with God; that was something the Jews came up with on their own. Most tellingly, Winn contended that both Ezra and Nehemiah are not inspired, but were mere stories told from the Jewish perspective. As such, the Jews got to pick and choose which details to leave in and take out to push their agenda.” To say that this is stunning would be an understatement. If the Old Testament scriptures are not all fully inspired, then how could one trust the words of Jesus to be true?

By way of comparison, the session I participated in was tame. The participants who were in my session actually had some very good material; the presentations—on “American Slavery” and “Psychology Practice”—were insightful and not at all unbiblical. I was emboldened to present my paper even more directly. At the end of my presentation, the other two participants (as well as the convener from ACU) were highly complementary. Indeed, the presenter on slavery said that my presentation took him back to his childhood days in Georgia, listening to preachers during Gospel Meetings. I took that as high praise.

Overall, the 2015 Christian Scholars Conference was not surprising. It was weighted heavily towards the Left, with few exceptions. That said, it is my conviction that more sound brethren need to be involved in order to try and affect positive change, or at the very least to facilitate true dialogue. In 1992, Jimmy Jividen presented a lecture series at what was then International Bible College on the New Hermeneutic. He happened to mention the Christian Scholars Conference during the series, and emphasized that this was where a lot of strange doctrines were originating. When I asked him how one could present the Truth at the CSC, he replied, “Get on their mailing list.” That simple suggestion changed the course of my life. The quickest way to get involved is to access the website for the Christian Scholars Conference, get on their mailing list, and submit proposals for papers when the time comes to do so. When brethren are willing to stand up and be counted, that is when the Truth shines.

dhester@faulkner.edu

The Gay “Marriage” Bandwagon – Ben Giselbach

Not long ago in our nation’s history, homosexuality was taboo. People commonly looked at homosexual behavior with disgust. Laws were enacted to outlaw various actions attributed to same-sex attraction. But now culture has very rapidly performed a 180-degree shift. A majority of Americans – particularly younger Americans – now approve of homosexual practice.

What happened? Those who support the acceptance of LGBT behavior adopted arguments that became particularly compelling to young people.

This should not come as a surprise to us. The Bible teaches us that homosexuality is a subject by which it is easy to be fooled. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither […] adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, […] will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

Here are some arguments that have proven to be very effective at duping people today:

Gay “marriage” has been packaged like a civil rights issue. I think Millennials grew up reading in their history books about the 1965 civil rights marches in Alabama and thought, “I would have liked to have been a part of that.” Today, homosexuality has become the moral equivalent of being black. This is very interesting, as the social conversation about homosexuality is no longer about what you do, but about who you are. If I were a black man, I would be deeply offended by equating 2015 with 1965. Christians understand that in reality, the issue is not about identity, but about choice. You cannot choose to be black, but you can choose to practice homosexuality (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11). Your temptation does not define you, but your decision to act on your temptation does. Jesus was tempted, yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Gay “marriage” has redefined love. The words of John Mayer’s song, “You love, who you love, who you love,” resonate with people today. Most now think, “There’s enough hate in the world, and here are two men who love each other; what’s wrong with that?”

Our secular world has cheapened “love” to mean “sexual attraction,” and the marriage bed has become the pinnacle of romance. Society’s idea of marriage, which has devolved to merely signify a time-period of commitment, is only a shabby duck-tape attempt to replicate true biblical marriage.

Knowing the new definition of “love,” are you ready for the ramifications of this argument? If society supports a relationship simply because of “love,” what else must society eventually support? Surely a man can “love” his dog. Surely pedophilia can be committed within a “loving” relationship. Surely it is wrong to continue prosecuting teachers for “loving” some of their pupils. Surely a woman can marry several men with whom she is in love.

For Christians, it isn’t about consensual sexual intercourse, but about truly loving God and His Word. It isn’t real love if I allow someone to enter into a relationship with me that God calls “sin.” Eternity, after all, awaits us. A truly loving relationship is founded on the bedrock goal of helping one another get to heaven. It more closely resembles hatred if I am willing to place myself between someone else and heaven.

Gay “marriage” is now seen as progress. Homosexuals have long been able to support one another and enter into covenants with one another. The Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 gave very few freedoms that were not already enjoyed by practicing homosexuals. But it isn’t about rights (they already had those rights); it is about gaining society’s approval.

When Lot had the audacity to deny the men of Sodom their demand to gang-rape his male guests, they replied, “Now he has become the judge!” (Gen. 19:9). Does this sound familiar to the argument used today? “Stop judging us.” “Who are you to say we are wrong?” It isn’t about rights; it is about finding affirmation after God has called certain behavior wrong. People don’t want to be seen as being on the “wrong side of history,” so they go along with this so-called “progress.”

Gay “marriage” has redefined tolerance. If you refuse to endorse homosexual behavior, society will quickly label you as “intolerant.” That is because “tolerance” no longer means peaceful coexistence with contrary views and belief systems. Today, “tolerance” means full support. Either you embrace homosexuality or you are a rotten, bigoted person full of hate. (That escalated quickly, didn’t it?) In the eyes of society, it is impossible to be both compassionate to homosexuals while disapproving of their actions.

With this word game, no wonder young people are supporting gay “marriage” in droves. After all, who wants to be seen as a bigot? They don’t want their peers to think they are “closed-minded” – or worse – “intolerant” (gasp, the thought!).

Now that the courts, the media, and public opinion favor gay “marriage,” what can we do?

  1. Prepare for these arguments. Sometimes we fail to keep ourselves up-to-speed with culture. We are often more aware of the problems of the past and easily have answers to those problems. But times have changed, and Satan has found new ways to package sin that will appeal to a new generation of thinking. Cultural Christianity has already bowed to the pressure to approve of gay marriage. Now, more than ever before, it is important to think like God thinks and live on every drop of God’s Word. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
  2. Prepare our children for these arguments. This goes without saying. But so many of my peers have left the Lord’s Church because their parents did not prepare them how to handle these arguments. I know many children of preachers who have left the church because their fathers failed to equip them with ways to respond to postmodern and emergent arguments in favor of homosexuality (and a host of other issues). From the very beginning, our children need to know what is natural and what is unnatural and unpleasing to God.
  3. Start with the basics when talking to people who support gay “marriage.” When talking to my friends and neighbors who practice or approve of homosexuality, I rarely talk about the sinfulness of homosexuality. Why?They don’t know what sin is. Before you can establish that practicing homosexuality is wrong, there is a host of other issues one must first understand. First, one must believe in the God of the Bible. Second, one must believe in the Bible and the extent of its authority over our lives. One must understand the concept of sola scriptura, that the Bible is not a fluid document, and that God’s Word never takes a back seat to culture. Third, one must grasp the concept of sin, know Who Jesus is, and understand the nature of salvation.If someone does not understand these things, they will never understand the truth about homosexuality (and they will look at you like a close-minded, intolerant bigot).
  4. Think about our words. Because culture now supports gay “marriage,” it is important to choose our words carefully. There are more people who want to demonize your biblical convictions than there are people who tolerate (the old meaning of the word) them. Before you write or say anything, just assume your words could easily appear on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. In other words, don’t say stupid things. If you consider how your words could be interpreted from all sides, the truth will become even brighter.
  5. Model biblical sexuality. The darker our world becomes, the brighter Christianity should shine. Sin brings guilt, confusion, sadness, and doubt. Christians should model what a happy marriage looks like! A truly happy and fulfilling life can only be found in living God’s Way – following His law rather than our own reasoning (Prov. 14:12; Ecc. 12:13; Eph. 2:10).
  6. Rejoice when we feel the pressure. One of the greatest honors is suffering for Christ’s sake. Secular America is particularly hostile toward New Testament Christians. When we face name-calling, loss of opportunity, fines, or lawsuits – we should rejoice! Knowing how unworthy I am of God’s grace – it is an honor to be shamed because of the Name I wear. Glory in these verses:

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” (Phil. 1:29)

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:10)

plainsimplefaith.com

The Canon of Scripture – Terry Wheeler

The number of books in the Holy Bible is important for a variety of reasons. The Protestant edition contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The book of Psalms contains 150 songs. The order of the books in your Bible’s table of contents is based originally on Jerome’s Latin Vulgate edition of the Scriptures, finished in AD 384.

However, the Catholic edition contains some 11 additions called the Apocrypha. They are Jewish literature written between the Testaments (425 BC to 4 BC) which many through the ages have counted useful in their walk with God. Yet no Jew that we know of ever counted them as the Word of God, nor do any of these works claim inspiration. It wasn’t until the Catholic Council of Trent, 2000 years later, that these works were accepted as Scripture. The reason for this change was that the first book of Maccabees allowed for an interpretation of Purgatory. With this vote, the Catholic authorities could say with a straight face that Purgatory was in the Bible. Seriously.

There are also New Testament apocrypha that have been around from the second century which Christians have valued as well. Yet none were added to the 27 books of the New Testament canon, except in certain limited regions or ethnic fellowships.

How did the canon of the Bible develop? Why are only these books in it? These are very important questions that deserve serious consideration.

The term “canon” means “measuring line” and refers to a standard of uniformity, a recognized standard of acceptability. For the Bible, it is that standard that distinguishes men’s writings from God’s Word. A quick consideration of this standard involves a book passing the following tests: Is it authored by an apostle of Christ or a faithful associate of an apostle? Is it true as a whole and in particulars of fact? Is it consistent within itself? Is it consistent in doctrine and fact with other known Scripture? Is it old enough (first century or older)? Does it confess (or deny) inspiration within its pages?

Christianity owes much to Jewish understanding and practice. The Christian canon developed in light of the established Jewish canon–the first Bible. Translated from the Hebrew into Greek, the Septuagint version of the Old Testament was what the early evangelists carried with them to prove Jesus was the Christ. Of course, that brings on the question of how the Jews established their canon.

It began with Moses, Sinai, and the establishment of the Levitical priesthood.   When Moses finished compiling what God desired at first for Israel, Moses deposited the books (scrolls) into the care and keeping of the priests (Deut. 31:9). And so it continued to the end of the Restoration after Babylon. Therefore many of the Old Testament books have that priestly distinction about them. For instance, note the emphasis on Samuel and how the book of Psalms was authored by priests as well as King David, whose affinity for the priesthood is well documented. Plus, so many of the prophets being priests or having priestly connections is explained by the fact that Moses in the beginning appointed the Israelite priests as caretakers of the holy books.

It started with Moses, continued with Samuel, carried through the temple worship leaders, and ended with Ezra, a Levite and scribe who authored at least three books of the Old Testament and who tradition says compiled the final list of the Old Testament canon. This list is upheld by Josephus, Philo, the Septuagint (with the exception of some additions to the psalms), and the papyri found at Masada. It was well established before the council (or school) of Jamnia reiterated and confirmed its belief in the Old Testament books as we have them (ca AD 97). One thing to note is that the book count is different in the Hebrew Bible from what we have only because the books are arranged differently. But the books themselves and their content are the same as are in our Bibles today.

With this background, it was not a big jump for the Christians (the first of whom were Jews at the beginning) to determine that God’s Word, the New Testament, was needed in writing for the church. Even in Paul’s time false writings were being circulated in the name of the apostles which prompted a demand for a true list of apostolic writings to distinguish them from the false (2 Thess. 2:1, 2; 3:17).

The apostles were quick to start sending letters to the infant congregations to help them grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Paul’s letters were the most well known among the churches, Paul urging copies to be made and circulated through the established congregations (1 Cor. 1:2; 4:17; 14:37; 1 Thess. 5:27).

Paul’s epistles were bundled and put into church libraries for authority and reference. As the first century proceeded and the apostles began to show their age, they realized the need to document their knowledge of the life of Christ. The three synoptic gospel accounts were readily received by the church and circulated as a separate collection. When Paul went to Spain, the other apostles (especially Peter) determined to fill in the gap left by his absence and continued writing to the churches. Others continued after the deaths of Paul and Peter, so that these general epistles began yet another collection to be bundled and stored with the churches.

When John was the last apostle standing and after the Lord visited him on Patmos with the Revelation (AD 94), the church urged a gospel account from his hand, which at first was circulated by itself, but then was later bundled with the three others. Tradition holds that John gave final approval in Ephesus to the 27 books of the New Testament canon.

Modern scholarship has wanted to deny the first century authorship of many of these books, saying that a New Testament canon cannot be earlier than the fourth century. But that theory, like so many other theories of the unbelievers, is dashed to pieces by archaeological and textual evidence.

It is true that not every book of the 27 was originally received by all the churches. Hebrews and the Revelation especially had a hard time to be received, as well as 2 Peter. Yet it is just as true that all the early churches knew of them from the second century onward, John having died in AD 98. Hebrews eventually was bundled with the letters of Paul for circulation and distribution.

From a negative perspective, the heretic Marcion sought to remake the New Testament according to his own ideas (he hated the Old Testament and anything that validated it) around AD 145. Diocletian ordered the books of the New Testament confiscated and burned in 303. If there were no New Testament canon already in existence, then what were these enemies of Christ about in these instances?

The facts are that the churches were compiling their canon in the second century. The Gallic Christians reported their persecution to their brethren in 177 and referenced most of the New Testament books in their report. Only ten are missing. Yet that cannot mean these ten were rejected, for the missing books include the book of Mark and four of Paul’s letters.

The earliest list of canonical New Testament books is called the Muratorian Fragment, dated AD 170. Though Matthew and Mark are missing, Luke and John are not. Plus, they still count the gospel as four-fold. In any list of the New Testament canon, these four are at the top. Thus, we can expect the first two books to be lost to wear and tear. With that, there are only four books missing: Hebrews, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and James. Yet it is difficult to say these are rejected because if the others might be, it is unheard of that 1 Peter would ever be. By the third century, church leaders reported that there was an accepted canon for both Old and New Testaments.

With the work of Lucian of Antioch (ca 310) in his efforts to establish a standard Greek text of the New Testament and Constantine’s order for fifty copies of the Bible in Greek (AD 331), it is obvious that by this time the New Testament canon was known and established throughout the empire.

There is no justification for the idea that Constantine created the present New Testament canon for the churches, simply because he could not have gotten away with that. These Christians were used to putting their lives on the line for the Lord. They knew the books they cherished as God’s Word. If Constantine were to have tried to insert himself into the discussion of what was Scripture, adding a book or taking one out, the church would have put that down to government interference and walked away as quickly as possible. That would have been disaster for the emperor who desperately wanted the Christians on his side. No, we can be certain the whole of what Constantine did was to seek to gain their political backing, not try to change their religion.

Even if one ignores Eusibius’ documentation (AD 324) of the biblical canon being well established years before he came along, the fact is no government official, not even Constantine himself, had enough clout to effect a change in the canon which the church had for long years before held as dear to them as their own lives or the lives of their loved ones. Athanasius, famous preacher of the fourth century, published a list of the accepted books in 367. The church council of Carthage in 397 did reiterate to all the churches the books counted authoritative and inspired, which are the 27 books we have known and cherished ourselves all our lives.

Every generation seems to find it necessary to prove again the validity of the canon of the Bible. That’s okay. Cream always rises to the top and its flavor is unmistakable. In like manner, truth cannot be hidden nor God’s revelation lost (2 John 2). The incomparable word of God can never be honestly mistaken for the shallowness of mere men. Every time men look, they will see the light from these pages that can only be classified as divine, the product of inspiration of the Holy Spirit that is God’s Word to us, eternal and indestructible, and all we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1).

jterrywheeler@gmail.com

Editorial: Christians, Do We “Walk The Line”? (September, 2015) – Jon Mitchell, Editor

Recently I followed an online discussion between some preachers known for their soundness in the faith and others whom some might describe as “liberal” in their theology. Over the vehement objections of the liberals, the sound brethren were promoting what they called “precision obedience” of God’s Word (Dt.. 4:2; 5:32; Josh. 1:7; Mt. 7:21-27; Ja. 1:22-25).

The discussion reminded me of Johnny Cash’s classic song, Walk The Line. Its lyrics speak of the great sacrifices a man would make for a woman, thus expressing his obvious deep love for her. Sometimes when I hear the song, I wonder how many of us could honestly say the words of this song about our relationship with God. As Christians, it’s easy to “talk the talk”…but do we “walk the line”? Those who loudly protest the biblical concept of “precision obedience” would apparently think it unnecessary, but are they correct?

Think about it. The song opens by saying, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine/I keep my eyes wide open all the time/I keep the ends out for the tie that binds…” That’s what God wants us to do for him (2 Co. 13:5; 1 Th. 5:1-11; 1 Pt. 5:8). If we’re willing to do it for people we love, surely we can do it if we love God more than them (Mt. 22:37). We do whatever we can to keep strong ties with those whom we love, but do we do the same for God? If our family or friends need us, we don’t hesitate to go to them…yet do we easily find excuses to not attend church, read our Bibles, and pray?

“I find it very, very easy to be true/I find myself alone when each day’s through/ Yes, I’ll admit that I’m a fool for you…” Keeping true to God’s commands is not burdensome unless our prideful selfishness makes it so (1 Jn. 5:3). Obeying him might make it seem like we’re alone in the world because the majority won’t obey him and will think us to be foolish (Mt. 7:13-14; 1 Co. 1:18-31). Are we willing to confess Christ anyway (Mt. 5:10-16; 10:32-33)?

“As sure as night is dark and day is light/I keep you on my mind both day and night/And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right…” So many have a dead faith in God, a faith not backed up by obedient works (Jm. 2:14-26). God wants our faith to be sure, with all our heart (Ac. 8:37). The only way we get that faith is through daily and nightly meditation upon his Word (Rm. 10:17; Ps. 1:1-3). It will be that faith which brings true happiness (Pr. 10:28).

“You’ve got a way to keep me on your side/You give me cause for love that I can’t hide/For you I know I’d even try to turn the tide…” While God does not take away our free will (Josh. 24:15-18), he gives us plenty of motivational reasons to love him. We owe our very existence to him. He sent his Son to take away our sins through a horrible death. He offers us salvation from an eternal hell. What are we willing to do for him (Rv. 2:10)?

“Because you’re mine/I walk the line.” He is our God…but are we truly his followers? If we love him, we will obey him (Jn. 14:15). We will precisely obey him. We will walk the line. — Jon