Sometimes, we just need a little reminder to get us thinking straight. These articles were poignant for the times.
23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
We want the truth, don’t we? Then, it’s up to our leaders to share that truth with us, regardless if it hurts our feelings or goes against how we feel. Hance Dilbeck, our Oklahoma Baptist Executive Director–and good friend of our beloved pastor, Bryan Gilbert– and Brian Hobbs, Editor of the Baptist Messenger, had great articles in the Baptist Messenger. Here are synopses of their articles:
Encourage: Focus on Fundamentals
After giving an anecdote about being unsure about where we are going as church leaders but moving very fast, Hance encourages us from the letters Paul wrote to Timothy. He calls us to slow down and give focus to some fundamentals.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers [lead them on the straight and narrow road].
- Set a good example for your people.
- Read, teach and preach the Word of God.
- Do the work of personal evangelism.
These were good things to hear during this season of social distancing. There is still work to be done, it’s just different work than the ordinary. Maybe it’s one of the ways that God is using Covid 19; we get shaken out of our routines and He points us in new directions for the kingdom’s sake and His glory!
Sword & Trowel: Apocalypse now?
Brian starts out describing an “end times” scenario. The catch is that it was from 1000 A.D. rather than today. He says that a new Lifeway Research poll showed “almost 9 in 10 pastors see at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur shortly before He returns to earth…” We are, indeed, “closer to the end,” but we must realize that events can be misinterpreted.
Brian states that for some people, “an apocalyptic sense of urgency becomes, not a call to prayer and evangelism; it instead devolves into an excuse for either extreme actions or extreme inaction.”
On extreme action, he calls it “short-term survival mode” where people do things and say things that they would not ordinarily do or say based upon Jesus’ impending return. Regardless if He is coming tomorrow, we NEVER have an excuse to be rude or selfish in our behavior and words. Let’s let Him find us being faithful in word and deed.
On extreme inaction, people use it as an “excuse to avoid the long work of obedience.” We hope for Christ’s imminent return, but plan–and work–like it will be in a thousand years (it was for the first millennials).
He finishes his article with this charge: “Brothers and sisters, whether we are living in the last days or not, we cannot be lulled into inaction or extreme action in a sinful manner. Instead, Christians ought to do what we know to do. Live out the Great Commission and the Great Commandment with love and humility, as we advance the Gospel together. These are the great tasks given to us from Jesus.”
This Sunday, Bryan Gilbert will be giving a synopsis of several views on the Return of Christ. What we need to keep in mind is that they all have one major theme: Christ IS Returning. This theme is our rallying point. Our differences of beliefs concerning interpretations of particular passages CANNOT BE BREACHES OF FELLOWSHIP. Christ will return in His time and in His way regardless of how we believe it will happen. Therefore, it CANNOT be a point of contention among the brethren. We must remember that God hates “a man who stirs up dissension among brothers (Proverbs 6:19).”
We all can rejoice in the hope of His impending Return. In the meantime, let’s do the work He has called us to do so that He finds us faithful when He comes for us individually (in death) or collectively (His Return).
Abba, I look forward to seeing how you do it! I suspect that NONE of us has it exactly right–in fact, I’m counting on it. I KNOW that it will be beyond comprehension!!! In the meantime, LORD, direct me to souls that need encouragement (music), souls that need direction (teaching), and souls that need saving (witnessing). I am Your humble servant. Do with me as You will. Amen.