Most young boys admire and look up to their father as they are growing up. I was no different. I wanted to be just like my father. Grow up to be strong, smart, funny, kind, loving, honest, hard working, a farmer, and many other things just like my father as I got older. As a little boy, a teenager, a young man, and even today, I look to my father as one to emulate.

I know that I was extremely blessed to have the loving, kind parents that mentored me. We all need mentors in our lives. Whether it be parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, other relatives, friends, neighbors, etc., we all need people in our lives that we can look up to. Jeff Jenkins recently said in a leadership training at South Green St., “Everyone needs at least one Barnabas, one Paul, and one Timothy in their life.” That phrase has stuck with me over the last couple of months since hearing it.

One Barnabas—As humans we all love to be encouraged. Encouragement from others is sometimes the only thing that gets us through difficult times. Barnabas was a man of encouragement. We need to have in our life someone that is reaching out to encourage and uplift others. They are selfless and always looking to others’ needs before their own.

One Paul—We need someone in our lives that has been through it before. Someone that we can go to when we need advice, guidance, or help with a problem/struggle that we are experiencing. Paul was a mentor to Timothy. Paul had seen it and experienced it. He was willing to lend advice and council to Timothy as Timothy was growing in the ministry.

One Timothy—As was just mentioned, Timothy was advised by Paul while he was a young man doing the work of the Lord. He was willing to listen and take the advice of Paul and use it. We need someone in our lives that challenges us to be the example that we should be. We need to have someone in our lives that we are looking to help and make a difference in their life.

Who is your Barnabas? Who is your Paul? Who is your Timothy?

Christianity is not some sort of unattainable perfect. It is a perfect however one which is both achievable and down to earth. In the above content, Christians are portrayed as “dear youngsters” and are encouraged to emulate their Father.

At the point when individuals progress toward becoming offspring of God, there ought to be an adjustment in the way they live. The verses which take after our content, Ephesians 5:2-13, address this subject. From them Christians can figure out how to “be imitators of God.”

Stroll In Love (Ephesians 5:2)

One’s “walk” is their way of life. Christians ought to be portrayed as cherishing people. The standard for the Christian’s affection is Christ (John 13:34-35). He should love as Christ cherished, conciliatorily (Eph. 5:25). This is simply the rule of regarding others (Phil. 2:3-8).

Reject Moral Impurity (Ephesians 5:3-5)

Comparable notices are found in Galatians 5:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. In the ethical entanglement of our opportunity, Christians must go to bat for the profound quality of God. For to dismiss God’s standard is to dismiss God. Corrupt acts ought “not be named” among Christians (v. 3).

This incorporates dismissing rapaciousness for it is likewise shameless. The Christian must not be overwhelmed by “things” (Luke 12:15) but rather should rather place them in legitimate viewpoint (Matt. 6:33).

It likewise incorporates “dirtiness” and “silly talking.” Christians must be cautious of what they say and how they say it (Jas. 1:26; 3:2). Words uncover what is in the heart (Matt. 12:34). God’s kids should dependably talk appropriately (Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6).

Prepare for False Teaching (Ephesians 5:6-7)

Each New Testament author cautions of false instructors (cf. Matt. 7:15; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1). The main conceivable answer for the issue of false educating is the expression of God, the Truth (John 8:32; 17:17). The best way to be imitators of God is to know and comply with the Truth. Tragically, that is not generally the case even among the individuals who claim to be God’s kin (Gal. 4:16). Just dutifulness to the Truth of the gospel will sanitize one’s spirit (1 Pet. 1:22).

Christians should consistently endeavor to obey and hone God’s oath and let nobody mislead them.

Be Light In A World Of Darkness (Ephesians 5:8-3)

God draws a reasonable line amongst great and abhorrent, light and obscurity, His kids and the offspring of the fallen angel (Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9). Since He has conveyed Christians from Satan’s murkiness, they should live with Him in light, their lives demonstrating His light (Matt. 5:14). To resemble God, one must stroll in the light (John 8:12; 1 John 1:5-7).

The individuals who have a place with God must “have no cooperation with the unfruitful works of haziness” (v. 11). On the off chance that they are offspring of God, they have a place with the light (1 Thes. 5:5-6) and their lives ought to reflect it.


Verse 14 gives the end reprimand to the content: “Hence He says: ‘Conscious, you who rest, emerge from the dead, and Christ will give you light.'” Life without Christ is an otherworldly trance for it is Christ who spurs and empowers one’s life (Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:1). Surely one who cases to wear the name of Christ should stir and live for Him and by His oath.

Since they are His youngsters, Christians must give their lives a chance to mirror that eminent and consecrated relationship. They should be “imitators of God as dear kids.”

Drop Outs

“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” — Jesus, Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:14

Frequently members of the church, apparently for no reason at all, quit attending the services. This is usually preceded by a period of indifference and spasmodic attendance. Upon closer investigation it will be found that back of it all there is usually a hindering cause. It may be that the individual has become in some entanglement with sin, so that he feels so uncomfortable when studying God’s Word in class, or listening to a gospel sermon, that he prefers to quit attending, rather than be constantly reminded of his ungodliness. His sin may be that of gambling, drinking, filthy speech, unethical business transactions, or some other equally sinful thing. There are many reasons why an individual should not act so. The following are some of them:

1) He owes God a life of service, and if every day that he lives upon the earth were spent in faithful service, he could never compensate for all that God has done for him.

2) Eternity is too long, hell is too hot, and heaven is too beautiful to spend life here in pursuit of things that will cause one to be lost.

3) Setting the proper example before others is the obligation of every professing Christian. It would be tragic to so live as to miss heaven, but it would be doubly tragic to lead others to the place of eternal suffering. Be an example to your family and friends.

4) No one has a lease on life. James said, `Life is as a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away’ (James 4:14). No doubt many will be lost who intended to do something about their condition, but death overtook them before they had prepared to meet God. Don’t let it happen to you!

We need drop-ins, not drop-outs. Be faithful to the Lord when the weather is bad, when you feel bad, when it is tough to do so. Never surrender convictions to the evil of dropping out of Christ.

In virtually every classified section of the newspaper, we find some employer advertising for a “dependable person” to occupy some position of trust and responsibility. I have talked with many business owners who state that finding employees they can count on is their number one problem. No organization can succeed without dependable personnel. The lazy, irresponsible, hit-and-miss type is a shame to his company and hinders its effectiveness.
It is equally true that the local congregation cannot be an effective organization unless it consists of “dependable” Christians; that is, members who will shoulder their responsibilities along with the rest and cooperate to fulfill the mission of the church. While the Bible does not use the word “dependable,” it does use equivalent terms such as “steadfast” and “zealous” (see 1 Corinthians 15:58; Titus 2:14, etc.). Every Christian should be characterized by these terms. He should be one who can be “counted on” at all times.
The sad, but true, fact of the matter is, however, that many congregations have a percentage of undependable members: members who couldn’t hold down a job for a week if they conducted themselves­ toward their work like they do toward the church and its work. Let’s look at a few examples:
Most congregations adopt a particular series of studies for their Bible classes. This is to facilitate the edification program of the church. Members of the church need to be instructed in the knowledge of the Bible. But the effectiveness of the Bible classes and any sermon series is compromised because of those members who are present only now and then, and thus fail to receive the overall benefit from the series of lessons. To have a thoroughly effective edification program, we need members whose presence we can depend upon.
The Bible authorized a pooling of resources of the members on the first day of the week in order to facilitate the work of the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Obviously, any kind of budget or planned expenditure of funds from the church treasury depends upon the consistent, generous contribution of the members. The church needs members who are dependable in their contribution­. We need those who not only are generous, but can be depended upon to plan ahead and give regularly. Because of some who give on an irregular, inconsistent basis, important­ work of the church must be curtailed, plans left unfulfilled, work not completed.
The sum of all that we are trying to say is simply this: the church of our Lord needs each member to be dependable in shouldering our responsibilities; more dedicated in our efforts to put the kingdom of God foremost in our lives. — Bob West, The Milpitas Messenger, August, 1996

A certain man was troubled with dizzy spells, redness in his face and bulging eyes. Every day when he went to his office, he experienced these things. Weekends were not so bad, so he concluded his work was causing his physical discomfort.

He went from one doctor to another and none could tell him what the problem was. He consulted psychiatrists, psychologists and psy­chics. What was wrong? Why was he constantly suffering from dizzy spells, redness in his face and bulg­ing eyes?

He tried everything, it seemed. Nothing helped. He finally resigned himself to the fact that whatever was causing all this was fatal. It bothered him so much he began to lose weight. He couldn’t sleep at night. He feared he would never overcome this. He became a nervous wreck and his health began to deteriorate. He had lost hope that he would ever recover.Text Box:

He decided to prepare for the worst. He made out his will, bought a cemetery plot, instructed the preacher what he wanted at his funeral, and even made arrangements with the local undertaker. He was fully convinced of his soon demise. He even decided to buy a new suit of clothes to be buried in.

When he went into the clothing store he was measured for everything. He picked out shoes, socks, coat, and pants. The sales person asked, “What size shirt will you be need­ing, sir?” “Size 15, please,” he replied. The clerk said, “But, sir, I believe that is a bitsmall. Let me measure your neck size.” After the measurement, the sales person said, “I’m sorry sir, but your will need a 16 1/2, not a size 15.” But the man insisted, “No, I have worn a size 15 for years.”

The sales person tried several times to convince his customer that he needed a 16 1/2, but the man would have nothing of it. Finally, the exasperated sales person said, “Well, sir, if you insist, we’ll get out a size 15, but I must warn you, you will have dizzy spells, get red in the face, and your eyes will bulge out.”

Some people are so set in their ways, they will never admit the obvious. Some are so unwilling to change they appear to prefer to remain spiritually without comfort. Long ago, a very wise men wrote:

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth
unto counsel is wise” (Prov. 12:15).

By Ron Boatwright

When we are baptized for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38), in order to be saved (Mark 16:16), God takes away every sin we have ever committed (Acts 22:16). He wipes our slate clean (1 Corinthians 6:11). He gives us a new beginning and we are born again (John 3:3,5) and we are raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

But after we have been baptized and God has taken away all of our sins, what do we do when we commit other sins? How do we get forgiveness of these sins? For the answer to this let us look at the Epistle of First John. First John was written to Christians who had been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, just as you and I have been.

1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Here this verse says we must be doing two things so that the blood of Jesus Christ will continue to cleanse us of all our sins. 1) We must “walk in the light”, that is we must be following God’s word in the Bible. 2) Also must “have fellowship one with another”, that is we must be regularly worshipping God in His church and working with other Christians. The original Greek word that is translated “cleanses” in this verse means that there is a continual cleansing going on. Herein lies the problem with those who have become unfaithful in their worship. Because they are not having fellowship one with another, they are not longer receiving forgiveness of their sins.

Then we continue to read the next verse 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We must repent and ask God to forgive us, and He will. When we stand before the Lord on Judgment Day we will have no sins and we will go to Heaven. This is very comforting to know that we are being continually cleansed.

By Ron Boatwright

Our number one priority in this life must be to go to Heaven. Nothing else is as important. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Our soul is the most precious thing we have. There is nothing that can equal its value. We read in Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” One certainly does not profit in the tragic loss of his soul.

It is easy in today’s materialistic society to get caught up in the pursuit of materialism if we are not careful. Our Lord says in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” Our bank account needs to be in heaven.

Everyday we need to tell ourselves that the main thing in this life is to go to Heaven. We read in Colossians 3:2, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” We should regularly think about going to Heaven.

Heaven is a prepared place (John 14:2-3) for a prepared people. It will be such a wonderful place, which is beyond our wildest dreams. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” There is no way that Heaven can be described so we as mortal human beings can understand how wonderful it will be.

A person will not accidentally go to Heaven. Going to Heaven is a lifelong race as we read in Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Going to Heaven requires endurance, patience, and persistence. We must finish the race.

As I grow older I realize the truth in this statement more and more.

Steve Jobs died today. Man, if there was ever a person (not divine) who was worthy of being called a visionary it was him. I marvel as I consider where he started, where he has been and what all he accomplished in his brief life. When you’re talking about a man who experienced this level of success, there’s never just one or two things that made it happen. I’m sure he had a tremendous love for what he did, a crazy work ethic, a little luck (right place, right time) and a whole lot of vision. I believe that being able to see a picture of something great and the road map to get there is a God-given gift.

There’s some days when I feel like God has gifted me in that way – especially when it comes to the Church. But you know, even though having a vision is nice and being given the opportunity to implement your vision is a blessing – neither are really worth much unless you choose to find the courage to go after it. Courage is a nice word. We use it a lot to make people look good (or bad). But really, when you peel away the onion, courage is just the application of faith. Now there’s the rub.

This is the point where I go from puffing out my chest (because I am thinking of myself as a visionary) to dropping my head in shame because I don’t have enough faith to go and make the vision happen. This has been me for . . . well, too long. Give me a moment to try and explain why.

When you cast your vision, chart your course and then set out on the journey there’s a really strong possibility that people won’t like it . . . and there’s a few things to choose not to like. It may be kind of simple, some people just may not like you. Others may not agree with the vision. While others may not think the course you’ve charted demonstrated much wisdom. Then of course, there’s likely some who never thought a new vision was needed in the first place. So as a visionary, as a leader, you can imagine where this leaves you. There will always be some folks who simply aren’t happy.

This is part of what impresses me so much about Steve Jobs. Just think about all the innovative products that Apple has produced. Well, actually, there really hasn’t ever been anything produced by Apple that wasn’t innovative. From the outside, all we see is the end result. We see the small personal computer, the iPod, iPhone, iPad (and who knows what else). These are all products that have really molded our culture. But we never heard all the people who said it wouldn’t work. We didn’t really pay attention when his critics were saying how crazy he was for spending so much money on things that wouldn’t sell. All we know is how successful he has been.

The same thing applies to people who have made a big difference in the Lord’s Church – guys who have really cast a vision and had the courage to chase their vision. I think of men like Rick Atchley, Patrick Mead and Terry Rush. I see all that they have accomplished with their own congregations. I hear all the great things about them. I’ve read their books. But what I haven’t realized, until recently, is how much it hurts to be consistently attacked by people who are supposed to be your Christian family. I have never been there when they were corned by an angry Church member who was convinced that they were the Antichrist. And until recently I had never known the pain of seeing your name in print because someone that disagreed with you took it upon themselves to attack you in front of as many people as possible.

For a while now I have tried so hard to not have that kind of experience. I’ve been careful where, when and how I ask difficult questions. I’ve always looked around first before saying something that may seem controversial. In other words, I’ve lacked courage. I’ve lacked faith. I do have a vision and I do have a plan (whether they’re good is another issue). But until recently I hadn’t realized that I lack the amount of faith it takes for a vision and plan to matter. That’s why having a vision is scary. They are such a precious commodity to begin with. So to let one go to waste because it’s not accompanied by faith is . . .

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Okay, here’s one of my questions. What does the phrase salvation issue mean? Often times when we have a scripture or topic come up that we have a disagreement with someone about then we might say that “it’s not a salvation issue so there’s no reason to argue about it.” That’s a tough idea for me to understand. What exactly is and is not a salvation issue? How do we know what is and is not a salvation issue? And just as importantly, why do we feel qualified to say that something is not a salvation issue?

Now let me clarify that I’m guilty of this, very guilty. As a matter of fact, this came up in a conversation I had only two weeks ago. But I’ve got to hold myself accountable and be honest about two real problems I have with this. First, at what point did I accumulate enough wisdom and earn the right to determine what will or will not be a topic for which Heaven’s gates will be opened or closed? Of course my thought here is that I have not and do not. I’m certainly free to develop an opinion or understanding based on the scriptures. But beyond that I am on shaky ground when I begin adjudicating salvation. Jesus Christ died for the right to provide us with salvation. It seems like we have a lot of people running around treating Jesus like the Sheriff with them serving as His deputy. It doesn’t work like that. We don’t know what will be a point of condemnation. So why pretend like we have that knowledge or right (when it comes to ancillary doctrinal issues)?

It seems to me that there is only one definitive issue with which I have been given the knowledge (from the scriptures) and authority (again, from the scriptures) to call a salvation issue – whether or not a person has a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ which can only be initiated by faith through baptism. Now, that’s a definitive statement and I may very well be mistaken. I’m going to continue thinking about it.

The second problem I have is this. If something is wrong, then it’s wrong. For example, if musical instruments is wrong then it’s wrong. If it’s fine, then it’s fine and we need to drop it. Right and wrong, just like truth are not relative concepts. They are definable, distinct and predetermined by God. For me to understand that the scripture identifies that something is wrong and then do it anyway with the understanding that it’s not going to cost me my salvation, well . . . that seems like playing Russian Roulette with all but one chamber loaded.

I do understand the thought behind some people believing or concluding that using musical instruments will not cost another person their salvation (this is assuming that instruments are wrong and the person using them is honest in their belief that its not wrong). For those of us (yes that includes me) who think this way, it seems like that conclusion is based on both the grace and nature of our God. In this example, it’s not a matter of a life lived in willful disobedience to God. So therefore, the thought is that grace would cover such a mistake. Back to the initial point though, I didn’t die for the right to hand out the grace in the first place. So I struggle with saying that some specific decision has removed a person from the covering of that grace.


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I often write about questions for which I struggle to find the answer or am rethinking my answers about. I have an inquisitive mind. I like to look at things from as many points of view, perspectives and angles that I possibly can. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But when it comes to discussing matters of faith, spirituality and religion it can be a scary thing. In my fellowship (Churches of Christ) we have a very bad habit of reacting negatively and even harshly towards people who don’t think like we do. I’m not sure why? I’m not sure where this trend or attitude came from. But I know it’s prevalent, because I have had to deal with it. Perhaps it stems from thinking that “we” are the only group doing Christianity correctly? Well, not perhaps – definitely. Because I was taught to think that. I was shown to think that if there were people who did not think like the group then they had it wrong and needed to be told they had it wrong or else. Well, that just doesn’t work for me anymore.

I have heard and shared this illustration many times – if I was on a deserted island and was just handed a Bible with no other knowledge of Christianity, God, Faith or Religion would I come up with what I believe and practice now? That is an honest and worthwhile question because it points the questioner back to and only to the inspired Word of God. It doesn’t make me a liberal or a false teacher or any other words we carelessly throw around. But because of these words and others like them, that type of a question is a scary one for some people. Because not being accepted by the group or being ostracized by the group is a scary place to be. So, too frequently people continue to live in the fear and darkness of their doubts and questions instead of searching for the light bringing truth found only in God’s Word.

I often flip back and forth between those two worlds. I know that every time I write about a question that I’m working through it troubles people and those people develop opinions about me. Sometimes I hear about them, but I know that usually they prefer to just speak to their friends about me instead. However, there are times like this week when I get notes from people from all over the world. People who I don’t know and have never met that will fight through their tears just enough to write and thank me for my thoughts. And then go on to share their story of living in the dark because they are scared of what stepping out into the light will bring.

Well, this is my line in the sand. I invite you to join me in the Light of God’s Word and not man’s opinion on God’s Word. There are sure to be times when my conclusions are wrong and I need to be shown my error. But I will no longer allow my fear to dictate my pursuit of the Truth of my Savior. His death is worth too much to me to do that anymore. Because you know, the line in the sand for me is this realization: I am so much more afraid of having to stand before God and seeing disappointment in His eyes because I lacked the Courage to stand up for Him and to be an advocate for those are not able to stand up for themselves than I am afraid of some people who hide behind words that have been stripped of the Love of Christ.

So from now on, through God’s grace and mercy, I will live in the light of His Word. I will rest in the Peace found in His care. I will allow His strength to overcome my weaknesses. I will strive to live out the motto that many of us have accepted – to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. But above all else, I will live each day of my life to do the best I can to fulfill the two laws that my Savior says are the greatest: to love the Lord my God with my Heart, and with all my Soul, and with all my Mind. And to love my neighbor as myself.

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