Growing In Godliness Blog
Author: Gary Watson
By Gary Watson
Hebrews 10:24-25: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
Note from this passage that we have a command to meet together as the saints. The reasons given for meeting are to stir one another to love and good works and to encourage one another. Also, other passages of scripture show that we are to meet to remember the Lord’s death and to worship God.
Some have lax attitudes toward meeting with the saints. They may believe that elders view those with consistent attendance at assemblies of the saints as better than those who do not assemble consistently. They may view attendance as a check-off requirement.
This writing does not address those who are home-bound due to illness or other medical or ambulatory limitations. This writing addresses those who do not see meeting with fellow Christians as essential to pleasing God. Some might say work schedules keep them from regular attendance. This writing does not address those who work and desire to be at assemblies. THIS WRITING ADDRESSES THE BELIEF THAT ATTENDANCE IS NOT ESSENTIAL TO A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE.
Let’s look at how the very first Christians viewed their assembling together: Acts 2:42-47: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God…”
A facebook piece pokes fun at lax attendance attitudes:
Borrowed and OUCH!!!!
What would it look like if the disciples valued worship and community like many believers do their church gatherings?
Peter - "My mother-in-law came in for the weekend."
Andrew - "I was up kinda late last night."
James (the son of Zebedee) - "Really needed some 'me' time."
John - "I was there last week. Besides, I'm not really being fed."
Philip - "Finally had a sunny day to hit the lake."
Bartholomew - "Had brunch scheduled with my Uncle Zed."
Thomas - "I doubt it would have been any good today."
Matthew - "I had to get my taxes done."
James (the son of Alphaeus) - "My dad (Alphaeus) wanted to fish today."
Thaddaeus - "The kids needed a rest day."
Simon - "I didn't hear my alarm. Because I didn't set it. Because I don't have one."
Judas - "Getting tired of hearing the same old message."
Going to church is not about checking a religious box off your "make God happy" list. It's about being invested in the lives of others; participating in the mission of the gospel; loving and being loved. Following Jesus was never meant to be a solo experience. Pull up a seat at the table. It is a level table and there is room for all of us.
Help for Parents When They have Friction with their Sons and Daughters
By Gary Watson
Many scriptures demand that a Christian live a moral life:
- “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11).
- “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22; 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:11).
- “Flee from all evil” (2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Tim. 6:11; 1 Cor. 6:18).
- “Put off the old man of sin” (Eph. 4:22, 24).
Historically speaking, when children fall away, there is usually a pattern which could be described as follows:
Four Generation Fade
- Parents don’t make church a high priority for their kids
- Kids grow up & make it less of a priority for their kids
- Those kids grow up & make it no priority for their kids
- Those kids grow up with no concept of God
In other words, priorities today impact generations!
Many Scriptures call for parents to raise their children to be good people.
God spoke of Abraham, saying, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him" (Gen. 18:19)
One prime example of effective parenting comes from the New Testament:
“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, that without ceasing, I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Tim. 1:3-5).
At many points in their history, the children of Israel turned away from God. One such instance is recorded in the second chapter of the book of Judges. "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals" (Judg. 2:10-11). The previous generation's failure to properly teach its children about the effect of God's guiding hand on the nation of Israel is doubtlessly a major contributing factor in the latter generation's departure from God.
Parents can make mistakes in raising their children instead of following the clear teaching in Ephesians 6:4. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Some examples are:
- Cruel and harsh punishment.
- Unjust punishment. Sometimes children are punished when they do not deserve to be spanked or to have privileges taken from them. Sometimes the parent comes home from a bad day at work totally frustrated. To vent his anger, the parent will spank his children for things for which they would not be punished on any other day of the week. The children can detect this; they know that they were punished unjustly and will grow up hating the parent who habitually acts this way. Parents should not punish their children because they (the parents) do not feel good; that is not the purpose of punishment.
- Inconsistent punishment. Parents will say to their children, "If you do that again, I am going to give you a spanking." The child does it again and nothing happens. The child learns that mom or dad really do not mean what they say.
- Showing partiality. The story of Jacob and Esau shows the sorry results which occur in a family when one or both parents show partiality to their children.
God's word gives priceless guidance for broken hearts, including the broken hearts of parents with wayward children. Their hearts throb with anguish and pain as they struggle with the question, "What can we do to please God and to rescue our children as we pass through this fiery trial?“ David prayed, "Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice" (Ps. 55:1-2, 16-17).
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (Jas. 1:5).
Following are four suggestions to help parents in this situation:
1. Put God First.
Jesus warned that exaggerated fear for the material needs of life can divert our attention from life's first priority (Matt. 6:24-34). Nothing must be allowed to interfere with our focus on a right relationship with God. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). We must not let excessive anxiety over our children's bad choices and conduct obscure our faith in God.
We must determine to obey God no matter what our children may do. Jesus said in Matthew 10:37, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Sympathizing with our children's sinful conduct, enabling them to continue in it, or joining with them in sin will harden their hearts. As Paul said, "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). Our children must know we love them, but we love God more!
2. Put Our Trust in God
How could any good result from the tragedy of wayward children? Let us learn to trust that God will bring spiritual good out of our trials as He promises. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (Jas. 1:2-4)
3. Remove Stumbling Blocks and Correct Sin
There are cases where parents have committed sins, even sins against the child, which are a stumbling block to the wayward child. Such parents should openly confess their sins, seek reconciliation, and change their conduct. Jesus said our worship is not accepted until we do so (Matt. 5:23-24). Failure to do so will bring the wrath of Jesus on us on the Judgment Day: "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matt. 18:6). Confessing and correcting our sins against other people opens a door for healing to begin.
4. Press on in Serving God
Let us focus on growing spiritually and on the future reward of heaven, not on our past mistakes or the sins of our children. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
We must not be embittered, demoralized, or paralyzed by the sinful attitudes and actions of our wayward children. Every lost soul is wayward from God. If we cannot help our own children, we must remember that every soul is equally precious to God, and we can help someone.
Getting Back to the Basics of Being a Christian
By Gary Watson
As a teacher I long ago learned that youngsters cannot learn without knowing some basics such as reading, writing, math computation, etc. Maybe we sometimes forget some basics of pleasing God.
I remember a little sentence which says that what it means to be a Christian is to know that without Christ, I am nothing. Self examination should prompt us to evaluate whether our lives are something if we are pursuing what it means to please God.
If I am pleasing God, I will do what He wants me to do and be what he wants me to be. Obviously, I do not deserve salvation for my meritorious works (Ephesians 2:8-10), but if I am trying to please God, I will do His works.
What will a faithful Christian do? Here are a few suggestions for us to think about:
1). Spend time in the Word so that I will know what to follow and what not to follow.
- Psalm 1:1-2: 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
2). Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Communicating with the Father through prayer has many beneficial blessings. Here is one of many:
- Matthew 26:41: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
3). Meet often with Christians. We should know that attendance alone is not a good work that merits salvation, but there are several reasons that we should meet with fellow Christians.
- First, it is a command according to Hebrews 10:24-25: 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
- In addition to being a command, we also worship God and remember His Son’s death on the first day of the week. Some might ask, “Well, how often should I assemble?” That is a works focus rather than a spiritually minded focus. If the doors are open and you are able, assemble.
4). Let my light shine.
- Our influence on others should be apparent in our lives. Here again, how we live does make a difference, for our manner of life should have an influence on others for the right reason.
- Matt. 5:13-16: 13 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
5). Teach others
- There are many ways we can teach others: verbal teaching of the Word to those who are willing to listen, inviting others to assemblies, and living a life pleasing to God are a few.
2 Timothy 2:1-2: 1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
6). Love the Brotherhood.
- 1 Peter 2:17: Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
- The apostle John wants us to know this, as written in 1 John 3:14-18.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
- “There are some simple signs of affection, which - if genuine - are perfectly right and to be encouraged, but do not in themselves fulfill the full measure of brotherly love. To smile and greet your brethren with warmth, courtesy and hospitality. To shake someone's hand or give someone a hug. That kind of attention is certainly acceptable and can be of service in our relationships with each other.
“But let's not entertain the idea that these gestures somehow complete our obligation. The apostle John is telling us of the extent of brotherly love. Verse 16 requires no spin; it is not written in apocalyptic language. ‘By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.’ (1 John 3:16)
“This is love for the brethren that finds ultimate expression in an act of sacrifice that is exemplified by THE SACRIFICE of all sacrifices. The question needs a lot of thought. I shake hands with my brethren; I greet Christians; I may give someone a hug and to the extent of my ability, I may write a check to help a brother in need. All of that is fine - but I'm not yet to the matter at hand. Would I give my life for the good of my brother in Christ? Let's be clear, John says we ought to! This is not about dying for buildings or even an idea! NO, this is giving yourself, your life, for your brother. That's what it means to love the brotherhood.” (By Warren E. Berkley from Expository Files 14.4; April 2007) 1.
7). Always use pure speech.
- God’s Word is full of admonitions about what we say and the way we say it. James 3:10-12: 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
James 1:19-21: 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
- Never holding a grudge is an integral part of pure speech and proper attitude.
Eph. 4:31-32: 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
8). Follow Jesus' example.
- 1 Peter 2: 21" For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
- “Jesus left us the perfect example. He is the perfect "writing copy" we must strive to reproduce in our own life. His sinless perfection is apparent from the couplet quoted from Isaiah 53:9 "Who committed no sin, Nor was guile found in his mouth." While Peter refers especially to Jesus' perfect example of patience in suffering, Isaiah spoke prophetically of the Lord's absolute freedom from sin, as other writers and the history of Jesus' life show. No other human ever lived without sin. Even the most righteous men are examples to others only as they follow Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). Jesus lived above sin because he had perfect self-control and because he had a perfect consciousness of God, being fully committed to him in all things.” (Earl Kimbrough in Guardian of Truth XXXVIII, No. 22, p. 1, December 1, 1994)
9). Buy the truth.
- God’s truth is so valuable that we should invest in it heavily. We should live by God’s truth, study His truth, make application of His truth to our lives.
2 Thess. 2:10-12: 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Proverbs 23:23: Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
10). Not resent correction.
- It is easy to become defensive when others ask us about our actions and words and offer correction.
Hebrews 12:5-11: 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Let us strive to be Christians who please God.
1.The section quoted in number 6 comes from Expository Files. Following is a quote on using material from their site: “Feel free to upload EXPOSITORY FILES into local BBS networks. And, if you want your friends and associates to have a copy, regard this as freeware; load it onto a disk and pass it on.”
2.Scripture quotes are from the ESV.
How Long, O Lord?
By Gary Watson
David was being hunted in the mountains by Saul. Saul's jealousy had prompted him to make a vow to take the life of David. David flees for his life and while in the mountains, he wrote Psalm 13. (http://www.fbbc.com/messages/hyles_psalms.htm). It might be observed that David was so stressed that he felt alone and deserted.
Psalm 13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress has many common effects on our bodies:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
Common effects of stress on your mood
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
Common effects of stress on your behavior
- Overeating or undereating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
- Exercising less often
Scripture abound in assuring us that God will help us cope with stress. 1 Peter 5 strongly assures us that God will help.
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever.
Note the assurances, challenges, and attitudes necessary as the passage describes: we must humble ourselves, submit ourselves to God, be sober-minded, and watchful. We must resist the doubt and despair Satan causes. We need to be firm in the faith even if we suffer a while.
The words of Isaiah should reassure us:
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Elders and Leadership
by Gary Watson
The role, work, and characteristics of elders are clearly listed in Titus and 1st Timothy. Examining the nature of elder leadership will help us understand God’s plan for the effective work of congregations.
“Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to "win" as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring. Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.” (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_41.htm)
The professional and business world knows the importance of good leadership for accomplishing their goals. Following is an analysis of leadership skills from the business and professional world coupled with appropriate scriptures.
1.Open-minded and Humble
Is he self-willed (head strong, contentious)? (Titus 1:7)
*Greek word authades ‘selfwilled’ is used twice in the NT, here and in II Peter 2:10. Denotes one who is “dominated by self-interest, and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserts his own will” (Expository Dictionary of NT Words, by W.E. Vine).
*“one so far overvauling any determination at which he has himself once arrived that he will not be removed from it (Trench’s NT Synonyms).
*Such words as “self-satisfied, arbitrary, unconsidered, morose, gruff, blatant, and shameless” (Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of NT)
*“human impulse violating obedience to the divine command
Meek, considerate, kind, peaceable. Able to bear, endure strain. Not harsh nor unkind in manner.
2.Empathetic- Just (Tit. 1:8). One fair in his dealings, exact, upright, acting without partiality.
*“Watchful and vigilant imply acute perception of what is dangerous or potentially so” (Duncan, p 23)
*Watchful, both for himself and all the flock (Acts 20:28).
Given to hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8). A lover of hospitality. Not forgetful to entertain strangers (Heb. 13:2). Entertains members and strangers in the home - having the spirit of the good Samaritan. Shows a warm welcome to visitors at services, sets an example for the flock to follow.
*Gentle -- patient (1 Tim. 3:3).
*Meek, considerate, kind, peaceable. Able to bear, endure strain. Not harsh nor unkind in manner.
4.Confident- Desire the work (1 Timothy 3:1).
*Desire is translated from 2 Greek words. First, “to stretch one’s self out in order to touch or grasp something, to reach after or desire something” (J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, p 452). The second, “to have a desire for, long for” (Thayer, p 238). The later is equal to our expression, “to set one’s heart upon” (Thayer).
5.Ethical and has Integrity Is he a lover of money (covetous, greedy)? (1 Tim. 3:3)
*An unhealthy desire for material possessions – an inordinate desire for money. Unholy desire for gain.
*One against whom no evil charge can be sustained -- innocent -- not guilty of evil. This does not mean that elders must be sinless (Romans 3:23, I John 1:8). Jesus is the only man who ever lived a sinlessly perfect life (Heb 4:15). This man must be a man about whom no uncomplimentary evil rumors are circulated; character is to be unimpeachable. Elders must be men who live pure, clean lives.
*Good common sense, mature in judgment, not frivolous, flighty, or flippant. But prudent, dignified, quiet, cool, collected, grave. Realizing the importance and earnestness of life.
*Humble- Not a novice from the Greek is “newly planted”. KJV margin note – “One newly come to the faith”.
*Why? “lest being lifted up with pride he fall into condemnation of the devil” – suggesting the sin for which Satan was expelled from heaven was the sin of pride (Luke 10:18).
7.Communicative, Accountable- 1 Peter 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
Temperate (Tit. 1:8).
*One self-controlled, using moderation so as to blend the faculties to the highest degree. Ability to deny self.
Not given to wine (no brawler) Does he drink alcoholic beverages?
*The Greek word paroinos, literally means “by or beside wine”. A marginal note in the KJV says, “ready to quarrel, and offer wrong, as one in wine.” The ASV translates the word “no brawler”.
*Wine is generic determined based upon context. It can mean in the grape, freshly squeezed, or fermented.
*If drinking any amount of alcoholic beverages is wrong, why didn’t Paul say that elders should not drink wine at all?
*Elders cannot be brawlers b/c their examples would be tarnished and it is behavior that is contrary to the kingdom of our Lord.
*Elderships would be unable to meet and make decisions without brawling, quarrelling, being contentious, as if they had been drinking strong fermented drink.
*Is he soon angry (quick tempered)? (Titus 1:7)
8. Disciplined and character- Good testimony (report) from without (1 Tim. 3:7).
* One who has a good report from those which are without (not members of the church). Well respected by those outside the church. Well thought of by outsiders.
*“What kind of reputation does he have among the people with whom he lives and where he work?
*What do the people with whom he has done business think of him?
*What kind of reputation does he have among his own neighbors?
*What kind of estimate of the church will these people have when they learn he has been appointed to serve as one of the overseers of the flock
Well governed, able to manage own household well.
A. His children not accused of riot or unruly.
B. His children must be in subjection with all gravity.
C. His children must be faithful, believing.
D. His wife cannot be the "boss" but must be in subjection
E. The reason: "For if a man know not how to rule his own house,
how shall he take care of the church of God?"
F. To meet the qualifications, an elder MUST have children. If he
has none, there is no way of knowing whether he has the ability
to so govern and rule the congregation.
10.Courageous It takes a lot of courage to correct others. Convince ejlegcw el-eng’-kho; of uncertain affinity; to confute, admonish: — convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.
Elders and all members are important to the work of the church, evangelism, and achieving the goal of eternal life with our Father.
(This writing is based on: Here are the top 19 leadership qualities you should look for in a candidate.