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QUESTION: AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER? WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE IN OUR ROLE OF RESPONSABILITY? WHAT SAY YOU?

                   Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

You may be familiar with the story in which the title for today’s article was spoken, and probably just as familiar with its popular usage today. In the Bible story, Cain had killed his brother Abel and God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” (Genesis 4:9). Cain’s reply was this familiar statement and question: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:10). If the cold-hearted attitude of Cain was not already evident by the murder he had committed, it was surely manifested in his reply to God! As the question is used today, it is usually used as a reply to someone who has asked about the condition or situation of someone else, and is meant to imply that the respondent has no responsibility towards the one in question [who may literally be a brother, or at least a brother in Christ]. And when it is used, there is an underlying resentment that someone would even think we had any responsibility towards this one.

When Cain uttered those now-familiar words, he demonstrated the ultimate in apathy, basically saying, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” It is no different today when disciples of Jesus Christ have this same attitude towards their own brethren! Surely we cannot imagine Jesus ever uttering these words, right? Did Jesus ever demonstrate a lack of concern for others — no matter what their condition or how they got there? If anything, we see Jesus welcomed the potential interaction with — and welcomed an opportunity to care for — others. At no time do we see Jesus turning people away because He simply did not care for them and their condition. Never did He say, “That’s not my responsibility.”

Within the religious world, there are some who see their faith as theirs alone and one that does not seem to actually involve contact or any sort of interaction with others; they are cold and apathetic towards others, and even in cases where they could easily help out a brother or sister in need, all they can see is the other person’s individual responsibility for his own situation and, thus, his personal responsibility to correct it or solve whatever problems have resulted. In so doing, those who refuse to act fail to see their own personal responsibility for helping him! The difficult part in this is getting them to see that the very thing they are demanding of others is being ignored by self! While they coldly demand that the one who ‘got himself into trouble’ somehow extract himself from the situation, the cold-hearted one fails to remember that Jesus has commanded us to help those in need and give without expecting anything in return (cf. Matthew 5:40-42), and has forgotten the rhetorical question of the apostle John, who asked, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (I John 3:17). The answer to that rhetorical question should be obvious: it does not! And in both of these texts, it should be clear that when others are in need, we all have an individual responsibility to help them.

 

Let us note that those passages are also unqualified commands and statements. Jesus did not say we should give our cloak if we think they are worthy, or only if their previous coat was not lost because of their own carelessness, or only if they have tried to get a job to earn money to buy their own cloak; John was not implying that we should help our brother in need only if we think they deserve it, or only if their need did not come because of poor choices, or only if they have gone to government agencies first. God expects us to help others in the same way He has helped us: with grace and mercy — and towards all men.

 

Think about that for just a minute: Where would we be if God helped us in the same manner some brethren ‘help’ others? Can you imagine God looking at man’s spiritual condition and saying to Himself, “Now why should I help them? They got themselves into that situation on their own — they can get themselves out of it!”? And if we sinned more than once after we obeyed the gospel, He would sternly chastise us and set tougher restrictions and higher demands before He would act to forgive us next time. He might even simply refuse after so many times, angry because we keep getting into trouble and He has to keep getting us out. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous when we apply human actions to God? It should!

 

Though the Scriptures are plain about our responsibility toward our brethren, some brethren approach their needy brethren with an attitude that our faith should follow the ‘American spirit of rugged individualism’ that preaches a message of stubborn self-reliance and a refusal to accept help or charity from others unless they have lost both arms and at least one leg. Those who live with this attitude are not content to personally live this way, but steadfastly believe everyone else should, too; so when someone is in need, the first thought that comes to mind is, ‘He got himself into that mess, and he needs to get himself out of it!’ Help is offered only begrudgingly, and even that is often a bare minimum of help that is offered. Often, too, it is a matter of seeking to place blame first and finding solutions later. Surely we can do better than this!

 

What is missing in those who act so parsimoniously with their help is evident: compassion. Maybe it is the brother who grew up and was what many call ‘a self-made man’; because he had a good home life and because he was successful in much of what he has done, he believes that everyone else should have the same successes he had and should have made the same wise choices he did; maybe it is the sister who has a good husband and family who believes the woman who is in a struggling marriage is somehow at fault because her husband has become worldly and is about to leave her for another woman; maybe it is the older woman who has raised godly children who looks contemptuously at the young parents who are struggling to keep the world out of their children and their children out of the world — and are losing. In each of these cases, what is needed is compassion and concern — not a reprimand.

 

A couple comes to you, telling you they have marital problems; how do you respond? A mother comes to you who is afraid she has lost her daughter to the world; how do you respond? A man comes to you telling you he has a problem with gambling or alcohol or pornography; how do you respond? A brother or sister comes to you in need of some temporary financial support; how do you respond? In each of these cases, do you say ‘It’s not my responsibility’ or do you show compassion? Yes [of course], spiritual guidance and Scripture should be given, but let us not be so keen on pointing out past errors and the corrective texts that we forget compassion and mercy. That was a major fault of the Pharisees (cf. Matthew 23:4, 14, 23).

In all cases where God gave His people instruction as to how they were to treat or respond to those in need, there was nothing stated about finding out how they came to be in need; that is not the point! Yes, some brethren will make bad choices and end up in financial need; they still need our help. Yes, some brethren will make bad choices and put themselves in spiritual danger because of unlawful marriages; they still need our help. And, yes, sometimes, parents will not train their children as they should and they will suffer the inevitable consequences later; they still need our help.

Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes, I am. And so are you. Knowing this, let us resolve to be less judgmental or apathetic towards our own brethren — even in times when we think they are undeserving of our time or resources. None of us deserved the spiritual help God gave us, yet He was willing to give His Son for us.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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GOD IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD “REAL MEN”

“WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT REAL MEN”  HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO ALL OUR DADS!!

Real men are becoming a lost commodity. Men who know their role in the family, in society and the world are harder and harder to find.
 
The feminist movement, which has entered its second generation, has failed utterly in its mission to liberate women but has caused many men to lose their sense of masculinity and purpose in marriage and the home. Most men, it would appear, have abdicated their role as family leaders under societal pressures initiated by the feminist movement.
 
Today’s talk shows, classrooms and workplaces repeatedly are heard to advocate the creation of unisex or androgynous human beings with no difference in functions, despite the never-greater volumes of data about the physical and emotional differences between the sexes.
 
The feminist goals include complete mutual decision-making and shared authority in the home, equal sharing of the role of supporting the family financially, and full sharing of home-making and child-care functions. This has been sold as a “fair” system and compared negatively with “traditional” arrangements where separate roles were identified for husbands and wives.
 
While these “goals” have been identified and approved by society in general, the “results” have been catastrophic.
 
Shared leadership concepts have resulted in no leadership because equality of authority is antithetical to the very concept of leadership.
 
With the majority of women insisting on sharing in the income production role that once was the male domain, larger and larger numbers of children are being surrendered to the care of modem day “orphans homes” the day care center and the public school system.
 
As biblical patterns for marriage roles and family life are abandoned there is emerging a rapid increase in sexual dysfunction in marriage and, sometimes, abandonment of natural sexual roles for homosexual perversions. Divorce and the broken home are now more normal in many communities than the intact family.
 
And, without functioning families, children are left without the environment necessary to teach love, morality and personal responsibility. Our overburdened judicial and prison systems are but another manifestation of the end results.
 
What is needed critically today are men who understand their purpose and roles as leaders of their families. Needed are men who carry out their God-ordained duties to wives and children.
 
The Bible teaches, in passages like I Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23, that husbands are to be the “heads” of their wives and families. To people who reject the Bible outright this means nothing but to those who respect God’s word it clearly asserts a husband’s leadership, authority to direct and rule in the home.
 
By understanding the concept of “headship” one can see God’s wisdom. Just as a human body with two heads would be a paralyzed monstrosity so is the home with two heads.
 
Men today need to re-learn what home leadership is all about. Issuing orders, receiving deference and respect may be a part of it but much, much more is involved.
 
God tells the man to be the “provider” for his family in I Timothy 5:8. The authority given a man also calls for him to be a primary teacher and guide to the family, both in word and example.
 
Unlike most typical homes today, God’s ideal home has the husband and father being the principal disciplinarian responsible for training, development, and correction of his children. Passages in the Bible like Ephesians 6:4 show a man he has this responsibility. When he abdicates this job or delegates it completely to his wife, he has failed.
 
The real model for husband-like leadership is found in the example of Jesus himself, not in the macho-ism of the contemporary scene. Jesus led by love, sacrifice and submission of personal well-being and desires to the well-being of others.
 
The feminist movement is not totally responsible for the negative attitudes toward male leadership in the home today. Men who have abused or abdicated their responsibilities in the past are partially the cause.
 
But whatever the past failures and their causes, the crying need today is for men to re-assume their responsibilities and to lead, guide and love their wives and families through the morass of evils that today threaten our homes, nation and world.
 
Leadership will not be easy in our unisex society. But, then, leadership never has been easy. Real men are needed for the task.
 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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QUESTION: ARE YOU GOING TO LEAVE A LASTING LEGACY FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

                       The Legacy We Leave Our Children”

 

Intro.

 
1. We are adept at raising monuments to events, places, people.
 
2. But, time fades memories (Eccl 1:11), and monuments become tarnished (cf. Statue of Liberty).
 
3. What do you want your legacy to be?
 
a. Financial security to your children? cf. Eccl 2:18-19
 
b. Power? Can be abused (Solomon — Rehoboam).
 
c. Prestige / Fame? It is certainly not long-lasting.
 
4. We can leave a memorial which won’t fade nor be tar­nished — Christ living in the hearts and lives of our family and friends!
 
5. Parents: What kind of legacy are we leaving our children? Eph 6:4
 
-“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD… (Psa 127:3)
 
 
 
I. THE LEGACY OF OUR LIFESTYLE, Psa 101:2.
 
A. “An Example is the Best Teacher.” (Actions speak louder than words!)
 
1. Certainly true of family life. (Children will take on the character traits of their parents.)
 
2. Bible insists upon godly example being set for children within the home:
 
a. They will learn by parents’ actions, Exo 12:25-27 (Passover)
 
b. Their actions would provide opportunity to teach their children. (cf. Worship, morals, language, etc.)
 
c. Neglect contributes to sin and ruin, 2 Chrn 30:26.
 
3. Where is there more need for our “lights to shine” than in our homes before our children?! Matt 5:14-16
 
B. “Do as I Say, Not as I Do.”
 
1. Losing battle when parents teach w/o living what they teach.
 
2. If good examples promote good character, then bad examples foster corrupt character, 1 Cor 15:33.
 
3. How do our children see us dealing with:
 
a. Family quarrels (strife), cf. Eph 4:31-32; 5:22, 25.
 
b. Honesty and integrity in work, cf. Eph 4:28; 6:5.
 
c. Conflicts with neighbors, Rom 12:17-18.
 
d. Relationships with brethren (backbiting, etc.), Jas 4:11.
 
e. Priorities of Christianity, cf. Matt 6:33.
 
4. If our children see unrighteousness/hypocrisy in us they can be disillusioned with the gospel and Christianity! Col 3:21
 
C. “Christ in our Hearts – Faith in our Lives” (Eph 3:17).
 
1. Things of God, not worldliness, Col 3:1-2.
 
2. This must be the legacy we leave our children.
 
 
 
II. THE LEGACY OF A WHOLESOME, SPIRITUAL ENVIRONMENT, Eph 6:4 (cf. 1 Sam 1:27-28).
 
A. Put the Word Of God into Our Children’s Hearts, Deut 6:6-9.
 
1. What will achieve this? Daily Bible study and talk.
 
a. Word must first be upon your heart, 6:6.
 
b. Takes diligent, deliberate effort to train our chi1dren, 6:7.
 
c. Consistency: Make Bible study a part of home’s routine, 6:7
 
d. Repetition: God’s word a constant part of life; 6:8-9. (Don’t assume a point once heard is forever learned!)
 
e. Study yourself: You can’t impart what you don’t know! Plus, your example in this is vital.
 
2. Training doesn’t just happen; it takes effort, Prov 22:6.
 
B. Worship Together, cf. Deut 12:12.
 
1. Make going to worship God a pleasant, joyful event — Not a dreaded burden. (By how we prepare, talk about it, etc.)
 
2. Set the pattern of its importance by removing all obstacles that can prevent your presence, Heb 10:25.
 
3. Sing, pray, study together at home – Worship isn’t confined to a church building!
 
C. Insist on Godly, Moral Entertainment (for you and children).
 
1. Phil 4:8: “Garbage in, garbage out.”
 
2. Monitor Internet, TV, movies, music, etc.
 
3. Provide alternatives to school dances, swimming parties, etc. where immoral behavior occurs.
 
 
 
III. THE LEGACY OF RESPECT FOR GOD ABOVE ALL ELSE, Matt 10:37.
 
A. Be on the Lord’s Side When Decision Time Comes, Exo 32:25-26.
 
1. When our children are out by themselves (date, school, work), what will they do?! What we have taught them?
 
2. Joshua influenced his family to fear God above all else, Josh 24:15 (cf. Abraham, Gen 18:19).
 
3. On the other hand, Eli, in fail­ing to stop his sons’ ungodly actions, honored them above God, 1 Sam 2:29; 3:13.
 
4. What a tribute, to know that your children will honor God’s will above all else because you taught them to do so!
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. We must be concerned with the legacy we are leaving our children!
 
2. Epitaphs fade, memories fail and monuments erode, but the works of the righteous have a lasting impact on the world.
 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLICAL BATTLEGROUNDS; MY FRIEND; “THIS IS WAR”

“BATTLEGROUNDS OF THE RIGHTEOUS”

Intro.

1.  2 Tim. 4:7 – “The good fight” (1 Tim. 6:12). Every Christian a soldier!

2.  Every fight is fought somewhere — BATTLEGROUND.

  a.  Battlegrounds are the places we must “fight” to build the kingdom of God – 2 Cor. 10:3-6 (battlegrounds the subject of this lesson).

3.  Conflict not contrary to life of Christian – It is a part of his life!

  a.  Life of Jesus was constant “warfare!” (Jno. 2:13-16; 8:59; 10:31)

  b.  Paul was militant, used much military terminology.

  c.  Nehemiah – Wanted to rebuild walls of Jerusalem. Under his leadership the Jews had to fight on some of the same battlegrounds which we must make our stand today!

 

I.  BATTLEGROUND # 1: RIDICULE & CRITICISM – Neh. 4:1-3, 6 (2:19-20).

  A.  Intended To Cause Us To Doubt Our Cause, Our God & Ourselves – 4:1-3; cf. Matt. 5:11-12; 1 Pet. 4:4, 14.

  B.  Jews’ Response – v. 4-6:

    1.  Prayer (v. 4-5).

    2.  A mind to work – So they did! (v. 6)

  C.  Common Battleground Today!

    1.  Acts 14:2 – Paul faced this problem.

    2.  Even those who should be helping in the work prefer to criticize / minimize the work others are doing!

    3.  We must pray – Phil. 4:6-7.

    4.  We must have a mind to work – 1 Pet. 3:13-17; Gal. 6:9.

  –If allow R/C to keep us from doing God’s will-Satan winning battle!

II.  BATTLEGROUND # 2: OPEN WARFARE – Neh. 4:7-23.

  A.  Physical Threats – 4:8, 11—Jews’ Attitude: We Are Ready!

    1.  v. 13-14 – Armed – Trusting in God.

    2.  v. 15-16 – Worked – Constantly prepared to meet any challenge.

  B.  As They Stood Prepared, So Must We!

    1.  Man are declaring open warfare on the church today:

Challenge our name (church of Christ, Rom. 16:16); our worship (innovations, Jno. 4:24); baptism for r of s (Acts 2:38); our moral standards (modesty, honesty, purity, Tit. 2:11-12; 1 Jno. 2:15); the Bible as inspired/authoritative (2 Tim. 3:16-17); creation & God Himself (evolution, humanism).

    2.  By open warfare mean honest, sincere, gentlemanly defense of truth! (Phil. 1:16)

III.  BATTLEGROUND # 3: INTERNAL TROUBLE – Neh. 5:1-13.

  A.  Mistreatment Of Brethren Complained Against & Corrected.

    1.  Oppression to obtain food to live – 5:1-5.

    2.  Rebuke & resolution – 5:6-13.

    3.  Nehemiah dealt w/ problem in a direct, straightforward way – v. 6ff.

  B.  Factiousness / Strife Will Destroy A Good Work – Gal. 5:13-15, 20, 25-26.

    1.  Illus.: In any marriage “little problems” arise–Must be dealt with.  How they’re handled determines how successful the marriage is.

    2.  Same true w/ local church – How handled & settled could determine whether or not we win the battle! (Acts 6:1-6; 20:29- 30).

 

IV. BATTLEGROUND # 4: COMPROMISE – Neh. 6:1-3 (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

  A.  Compromise Occurs When We Doubt Our Work – cf. v. 3.

    1.  Nehemiah knew his work was great & right!

    2.  cf. 2 Tim. 1:12 – Paul was fully persuaded! Are we?!

    3.  Those who doubt the truth are vulnerable to compromise.

  B.  Compromise Occurs When We Are Afraid – 6:4-9.

    1.  Effort to blackmail Nehemiah with lies.

    2.  Mk. 8:38; Matt. 10:28; Heb. 13:6 – Men can do nothing to us that robs us of our salvation — Only we can do that (by fearing man rather than God!).

  C.  Compromise Occurs When We Trust In Our Own Strength – Neh. 6:15-16; cf. Phil. 4:13; Rom. 8:31, 35-37 (God is our strength!)

Conclusion

Prov. 24:10: In the day of adversity will we be strong in the Lord & the strength of His might?! (Eph. 6:10)

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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