In Romans 13:7, Paul gives this instruction: “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
Since the first part of Romans 13 is about submission to the authorities we often apply Romans 13:1-7 to our governments (federal, state, and local).
But cannot respect and honor be owed to someone other than a government authority? Absolutely! Respect and honor can be owed to just about anyone.
Take, for example, elders. They immediately come to mind when thinking about people to whom respect and honor is due. 1 Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor…”
In 1 Timothy 6:1-2 Paul tells Timothy that slaves are consider their masters as worthy of honor...especially if those masters are also believers.
And in 1 Timothy 5:3ff Paul tells how the church can and should honor “widows who are truly widows.”
These are just the instructions Paul gives in one short letter to Timothy. Clearly there are many people who deserve our respect and honor.
Allow me to tell you about one person in particular here at Eastgate who deserves our respect and honor.
According to the calendar on the wall of the office, today, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, is what is known as Administrative Professionals Day (also known as Secretaries Day).
For more than 15½ years, Donna Noll has served as the church secretary for us. She handles many difficult tasks (for one, she has to work with me on a daily basis!) and she does these tasks in a commendable fashion.
I don’t know how long it has been since you mentioned to Donna how much you appreciate the work she does at the office, but however long it has been, well, that’s too long.
Please join me in paying respect and honor to Donna Noll for the work she does...we owe it to her!
(I'm sorry but I forgot to post this last week. I'd like to think it won't happen again, but it probably will! :) )
Have you heard the fable about “The Tortious and the Hare?” I thought so. A fable is defined by one dictionary source as “a short, fictional tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters.” Fables, by definition are made up, fictional stories.
In “The Tortious and the Hare” there is a race between a tortious and a rabbit. Naturally we would expect the rabbit to win by a mile...but he gets distracted and ends up losing. The moral of the story is “slow and steady wins the race.”
So the other day I was looking at Facebook and saw a “sponsored video” that caught my eye. Apparently some people in China or Japan decided to test this fabled fable. They set up what looked to be a 10 yard/meter, straight track with two lanes.
In lane one was a rabbit. In lane two, a tortious. They released the two and immediately the rabbit sprinted to a commanding lead...but then the rabbit turned around and started back towards the starting line. Then turned off to the side, first to the left, then to the right.
Meanwhile, in lane two the tortious was slowly but steadily progressing towards the finish line. The rabbit was being urged on by the human handler, but was more interested in peaking over the walls on the side of the “track.”
Then, it was all over! The tortious crossed the finish line while the rabbit was still playing around at the mid point of the course.
So the fable of “The Tortious and the Hare” is not actually a work of fiction...it is true (in at least one case). So the moral of the story must also be true: “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Too often we see others “running ahead of us” in a spiritual sense and we can’t help but look at them and think, “WOW! There’s really no hope for me. All is lost.” We see them and how far and fast they are growing and think, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could do that!”
Maybe we see this on a personal level...maybe on a congregational level. We see a church that is growing by leaps and bounds. They have all manner of programs, people are at their building everyday and every night of the week doing something.
We might even envy churches like that: they are big and getting bigger (while we seem small and getting smaller). They have more people than they know what to do with (while we seem to struggle finding enough men to lead our worship assemblies without using someone twice).
But, when you investigate further, you find that those other places are preaching a “different” gospel...which is really not the gospel at all (see Galatians 1).
They want to make church “fun” and “entertaining.” No need to take up a cross and follow Jesus (see Matthew 10:38, Luke 9:23). Just come to “church” on Sunday and the rest of the week is yours!
They teach that a sinner can be saved by just saying a prayer, no need for baptism...except as a sign that you are already saved (see Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:1-14; et.al.).
We can’t afford to get distracted and take our eyes off the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). We can’t afford to run ahead and not continue in the teaching of Christ (2 John 9).
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. We need to grow. However what some see as growth is actually not...it is them following after, perhaps, well intentioned distractions.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:14 that, “...the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life…”
Sometimes slow and steady growth is what is needed to stay on the narrow and hard way that leads to our ultimate goal.
I came across the following blog this past week. It is written by someone named “Manglo” and it was first published July 4, 2016. and found it to say something very important, that I have been trying to say, but have been unable to say as powerfully as, well, the following:
In a Q&A, Carl Trueman was asked about why churches today are losing their young people. Typical answers to this question range from things like the temptations of this world or the irrelevance of the church–your typical answers. But Trueman makes a keen and convicting connection between our parenting and apostasy.
“The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday. If the sun shines out and their friends are going to the beach, do you decide to skip church and go to the beach? In which case, you send signals to your children that it is not important.” (Carl Trueman)
Now we know that artificially taking your kids to church neither bestows salvation nor guarantees it. God is obviously not honored by external religious acts without heart worship. This type of legalism is not the subject of this discussion. This is about parenting and the weight of the responsibility behind how they prioritize their time and lifestyle choices for their families.
Parents makes choices all the time for their families. As they decide on what takes priority in family, every choice is carefully observed and taken into the heart of their children. Yes, they are watching you, and they are learning from you.
Maybe the reason why our children have no love for Christ is due to the fact that we as parents do not show any love or passion for Christ, evidenced by how we prioritize our time both on Sundays and during the week. When television, sports, school, hobbies even family itself are elevated to a place of idolatry and replace the vital Christian responsibilities, then we tell our children that Christ is secondary to all these things. We tell our children that it is not necessary to take up your cross and die to yourself daily in order to follow Christ. We tell them that you only have to live for Christ when it’s convenient for you. We tell them it is okay to sacrifice time with all-satisfying Savior if something “more fun” or “more important” comes along (sarcasm indicated by quotation marks if you didn’t catch that). And this sounds like a clear path to apostasy if you ask me.
Let’s evaluate where our hearts are by observing are choices. Do you prioritize the local church? Do you prioritize the worship of Christ in your home and on Sundays? Do you prioritize serving Him and worshiping Him in the contexts of school and work? This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever miss a Sunday or that you can’t have any extracurricular activities. Instead, it is a sobering reminder that we shouldn’t put the things of God at the bottom of the priority list, because it tells our children that Christ is at the bottom of our priority list. And the God of this universe does not belong there.
My prayer is that we all would improve in this area. But beware, maybe we don’t see this because Christ isn’t a priority in our lives. And if He isn’t a priority in our lives, then our children will know and follow suit.
All I could find myself saying is “Amen!”
Article can be found at:
As most of you probably know, Rachel is graduating from High School in 52 days (if you’re reading this on April 5, 2017). That’s 52 actual days, not school days.
Siloam Springs High School has an activity for all the graduates called Project Graduation on the night of graduation. It is, in essence, designed to keep the graduates from making poor decisions and/or celebrating in ways that they are, well, not old enough to celebrate. They will have entertainment, games and prizes. It’s really not a bad program.
Some of you know that I recently helped plan a golf tournament to fund the 2017 edition of Project Graduation for SSHS. Part of planning a golf tournament is recruiting sponsors...which is not very easy when you consider that Project Graduation has already done several fund raisers and there are other school groups doing fund raisers. Many of the businesses are tapped out.
There were several businesses here in town that I thought about approaching with “sponsorship opportunities.” I drove by these businesses countless times in the past couple of months...but they were busy, closed, “would just say no,” or for whatever reason, I did not stop. I guess I figured I’d catch them next time.
Well, guess what? I drove by some of those same businesses this week and it hit me: I had never gone in and asked them about helping sponsor the golf tournament. And now, their opportunity to help sponsor the “2017 Siloam Springs High School Project Graduation Golf Classic” is gone forever!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m being overly dramatic because next year there will be a Project Graduation golf tournament they can sponsor...so their opportunity is not “gone forever.”
But their opportunity to help with the 2017 golf event IS LOST FOREVER. There will never be another golf tournament supporting Project Graduation for the class of 2017 of Siloam Springs High School.
I hope you can see where I am going with this. I had the chance to share the opportunity to participate in a really good thing with others, and I blew it. I didn’t even ask. Now the chance is gone forever.
You have contact everyday with people you know (friends, family members, business associates, etc.) who you are planning to invite to church, ask why they haven’t been at church, share the gospel with, etc. But you just haven’t done it.
And, you know, it works both ways. We can wait too long to respond as well. On Monday morning we received a check for a hole sponsorship...but the business was not listed as a hole sponsor because they did not get their money in on time.
Thinking there’s always going to be plenty of time or planning to wait until the last minute to make things right with God is another of Satan’s most deadly weapons. What, exactly, are you waiting for?
There’s going to come a day when it is too late. Jesus will have returned and your opportunity will be lost forever. Even if they say “no” you’ll have done your part. What are you waiting for? It’s too big a risk not to tell it TODAY!