Unfaithful Child/Spouse Archives 2011

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  • Teaching Little Children by Whit Sasser
  • When Your Child Leaves God by Jim Lee
  • Helping the Faithful Spouse (in-law) by Pat Gates
  • Training Our Children to Respect and Honor God in Our Worship Assemblies (response from Pat Gates to email) 
  • Teach Your Child to Love Worship by Forrest Moyer
  • Training Our Children To Respect and Honor God in Our Worship Assemblies, Distracting Clothing - Part 2 of 3  by Pat Gates
  • Modest Dress With Propiety and Moderation by Tim Nichols
  • My Appearance (poem)
  • Can Dressing Up Become a Distraction by Pat Gates
  • Dress Code by Jeffrey Hamilton
  • The Shoes (poem)
  • TRAINING OUR CHILDREN TO RESPECT AND HONOR GOD IN OUR WORSHIP ASSEMBLIES-Part 3 of 3 by Pat Gates
  • I Was Lost and You Were in a Hurry (poem)

Teaching Little Children

"Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world." Those words of a familiar song paint a beautiful picture of little children. They are so innocent and pure...as pure as anyone ever can be.

But what will become of our little children in 10, 15 and 20 years from now? What they will be will depend largely upon what they are taught in the very near future. Now, I am not concerned about what they will be taught of mathematics or computer science; I'm sure they will be well trained in the sciences. But what will they learn about living and about dying and about preparation for the life hereafter?

There is just one book that can truly prepare these children for life and for eternity. That is God's book, the Bible. But where will they learn it? The schools cannot teach it. Even many churches are not teaching the Bible to the children who are in their care. The spend their time playing instead of learning And what about the parents? Most parents know little about the Bible and do not take the time to teach what little they do know.

The likelihood is that most of our little children will grow up ignorant of God, of Christ, and the teachings of the Bible. But what about your children? Or Grandchildren? Let me encourage you to take the time to learn the Scriptures for yourself, and then take the time to teach your children what they need to know. It is the best possible investment you can make in the lives and souls of those you love the best.
Whit Sasser/Exhortations and Stuff

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When Your Child Leaves God 

by Jim Lee

Many of you parents who will read this, know by experience the horrific impact this circumstance can have on you. In the past, I have often sympathized and grieved with other brothers and sisters who have gone through the heart wrenching experience of seeing a child of theirs turn their back on God, and return back to the world.

Parents are usually at a lost for words when this happens. Others will question themselves, asking "What did we do wrong?"; "Where did we go wrong?"; "Were we too strict?"; "Did we set a bad example?" etc. And sometimes, even the preacher or elders are at a loss of words to help during this difficult time. Sometimes, all we can do is "weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).

As I write this article, I write with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, because we too have now experience what so many others have ... a child who has turned from God. Having been blest with three precious sons, we have been overjoyed by this blessing. What precious memories we have of them. My wife Sandi and I have done what we believe the Bible teaches on raising our sons. They all three have been baptized for 13, 11, and 10 years now. Two preach the gospel, and the other son has such a tremendous ability in the Scriptures; however, knowing the Scriptures and living by the Scriptures makes a huge difference (Luke 6:46).

In a previous article, I stated that as Christians, we are at war. How that we have to be on guard daily with the armor of God on, for if we walk out into the world without our armor, we are more less walking right into the enemy’s camp. We are at a serious disadvantage unless we prepare ourselves for battle (II Corinthians 2:11). Sin enters our lives via "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life" (II John 2:15-17). And according to James 1:14-15, when we allow ourselves to be drawn away by our own lust, we then become enticed (tempted), and then when our lust conceives, it brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished brings forth death (spiritual separation from God).

And this is where our son is now. Separated from his God. On the road to eternal destruction. In preaching on the home as God would have it, I will often quote Psalms 127:3 "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord. ..." I hope I am thinking right on this scripture, it seems to be saying, that our children are a gift from God, thus an heritage, and He (God) wants them back so they can receive their inheritance.

It has to please our Heavenly Father, when He sees His children, raising their children in the light of His word. As godly parents, we are preparing another generation of Christians to carry on in the battle. Thus our fervent duty to train and teach them according to God’s Holy Word (Ephesians 6:1,4; Colossians 3:20-21). This we feel we have done. Yes, how I wish we could carry our children on into heaven by proxy, but this would violate God’s design in making mankind a creature of choice. e.g. Adam and Eve had a choice to obey or disobey God (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-7). Those in the days of Noah had a choice to listen to a preacher of righteousness or reject his message (Genesis 6 and 7). Joshua told those of his day to make a choice (Joshua 24:15). In the New Testament, the very same principle is found. Jesus said in John 12:48, "He that rejecteth Me and receiveth not My words,hath one that judgeth him:the word that I have spoken,the same will judge him in the last day." Paul told the church at Rome in Romans 14:12, "So then everyone of us will give account of ourselves before God." To the church in Corinth, he says, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10).

I can see why the apostle Paul said there was power in the gospel in Romans 1:16-17. Yes, it (the gospel) is the power of God unto salvation, but it (the gospel) also forces us to make a choice every time it’s preached -- to obey or disobey. Nothing else in this old world has that much power!

Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, "He that is not with me is against me." Our God has done everything He can to keep us out of hell. He has given us His only begotten Son, He has given us His inspired word, and He has given us time to obey His will.

Thus it is my fervent prayer, that God will continue His longsuffering and patience towards our son, but not to our son only, but to all the other godly parents who are feeling the same hurt that we are feeling due to your child turning his back on God. Will you pray for all of us please?

Remember, that the devil is a thief and a murderer. Jesus spoke of him as such in John 10:10, "The thief cometh not, but to steal and to kill, and to destroy." How many Christian homes has he invaded and done serious harm to? For sure brethren, let’s not be guilty of offering him an invitation into our homes! Whenever he shows up, "resist him and he will flee" (James 4:7).

And for those of you whose children are remaining faithful to God, relish this time and verbalize to them how proud you are to seeing them being good examples to others and living for God, for they are the next generation of Christians. May they remain "rooted and grounded." In closing,brethren, we are strong believers in prayer and we believe, just as the Bible states in James 5:16, that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." And it’s our prayer, that by the time this article is printed, our son has been greeted back home by both of his fathers (Luke 15:20)!

http://lavistachurchofchrist.org

Note from Pat: I don't know when this article was written so that must be kept in mind in regards to brother Lee's son.  Changes may have occurred since this was written. 

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"A topic I would like discussed on this page is: The extended family whose family member was the adulterer and the heartache you go through while trying to help the spouse who was left."

RESPONSE FROM PAT:
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This is indeed, a very painful situation you are in. I do want to commend you for being just in your evaluation of the situation and displaying kindness to the in-law. These two qualities have their foundation in love.
Love is just. Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth, 1 Cor. 13:6. He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD, Pro 17:15.
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Love is patient and kind. Love suffers long and is kind, 1 Cor. 13:4. There are times when supporting the in-law may be very painful when you have to hear the wrongs done by your family member and witness other's grief when you may be holding back your own. What a difficult situation! However, putting patience and kindness into practice will help the faithful in-law in his/her despair and will be appreciated by all who witness your Christ-like spirit.
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Patience and kindness is also need for the unfaithful. These go hand in hand with justice, truth, and righteousness. The goal is to bring the lost soul back to the Lord. Letting your loved one know you don’t approve of his/her actions and that you will not support them in sin and, at the same time, being patient and kind in your speech will show them you love them and always will.
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What can help your pain?
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Take confidence that you are pleasing God in your justice and kindness. Pleasing our heavenly Father should be our greatest joy and only in the Lord can we rejoice as we are going through the trials in this life.
Pray.  Tell your Father about all your pain. Ask Him for strength, wisdom, and patience. He will provide.
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Stand firm against disagreeing family members. There may be others in your family that disapprove that you are disciplining your unfaithful loved one (discipline in any form – even stating they are in sin). The family may tell you that your family comes first and, instead of supporting the in-law, you need to be accepting your loved one’s choices and give them the support instead. Again, "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD," Pro 17:15. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me," Matt. 10:37.
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Stand firm against accusations from the unfaithful family member. When a person wants to be involved in sin, most, if not all, seek a way to try and place blame on others so they can either lose their own burden of guilt or to gain sympathy, thus understanding, which can lead to a continued relationship with acceptance. Don’t fall for this. Keep doing what is right and just, not only for the sake of the spouse, but for your sake and your loved one’s. Accepting their sinful situation without any form of discipline is enabling them and you will be partially responsible for their ongoing departure from the Lord and from their family. See scriptures in last point.
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Don't get discouraged if the spouse becomes more distant. Perhaps their relationship is so painful, as it is to you, that the spouse just doesn’t have the strength of will to endure it at the moment. Be patient, as that will get better.
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Seek strength and comfort from someone you can trust.
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Keep hope before you. While I’ve been writing like there is no hope for repentance and reconciliation, that is not what I believe. Keep hopeful, keep trying, keep praying and trusting. Be ready to support all who desire your help and strength. May God bless you in this difficult, but loving, endeavor.

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TRAINING OUR CHILDREN TO RESPECT AND HONOR GOD IN OUR WORSHIP ASSEMBLIES

Part 1

FROM THE MAIL: Have you read or written anything about behavior in worship service?  If not, maybe someone could write something? I know of a place that behavior during worship service is horrendous!!  Parents seriously need to be taught to discipline their children in church.  They will not listen to a "single person."  I am Not the only person that thinks things are out of control.  I know who I should be telling, but that is useless.  Parents have been asked over and over to keep their kids from running in the building, to no avail. Parents do not make their kids sit in the pew, they allow them to play with kids in front and behind them all through the service. Adults play with kids in front of them and behind them.  Kids are passed over the pews in front and behind them. 

Parents obviously are not teaching their kids how to behave, to respect others, if adults refuse to behave, kids never will.  I asked a man once about his granddaughter who was sitting with him why he doesn't have her sit down during church instead of standing and staring toward the back, he said, some kids just can't sit still.  HOGWASH, If an (adult) will bother to make them they will!  I know there are places where kids are expected to sit still, in school, kids generally do run lose in restaurants, etc. 

Adults? talk all through services,preaching, singing, prayers, this is a horrible example to set.  They show NO respect for God or anyone.  Someone told me, who sits in the back, it is ridiculous how many people go in and out all through services, some people several times.  HELP!!! 

from Melanie Cavender:  This is a huge problem in the church services today but I believe it is a society issue.   I do not understand why the young Moms cannot control their children and why they are so unwilling to listen to those of us who have already raised our little ones.  They act as if we absolutely mistreated our children because we were willing to do what God teaches is a parent's God-given responsibility.  They act as if we are so clueless to their situation.  I do not know how they think our children made it to adulthood seemingly un-scarred from being disciplined as God taught parents to do.  They are so scared they are going to scar their child that they are un-willing to step up and make their children realize there is a definite authority figure who has to be obeyed. 

The scriptures teach us that it is our God-given responsibility to discipline our children and we will be held accountable for how we raise our children.  They need to start from the beginning of that child's life letting them know there is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior and stick to it.  There is a consequence for every action.  Consistency is hard especially when it is easier to take the path of least resistance.  Do these Moms not realize every woman in that church building has struggled with keeping a child quiet during a worship service?  Ask an older Christian how they did it.  Be willing to listen.  Do not take the stance that it's too late....I've already messed up.  It is never too late to teach a child proper conduct .

If a child knows there is a consequence for improper behavior, it is obvious.  How a child acts during a worship service is a mere reflection of what is going on at home. Worship is to be a quiet, respectful time.  You have to teach a child there are times to be quiet.  You should not have to bring every toy under the sun OR everything from the kitchen pantry for a child to make it through a worship service.  Why would a child want to be quiet and respectful if it does not seem any different than being at home playing and eating?  Moms need to limit what they bring into the service and realize what you bring in now many times sets the stage for the child at an early age to never LEARN to be respectful in a worship service.  Yes, children need things to entertain them when they are LITTLE but Moms need to be the adult and make wise choices as to what those items need to be.  Set aside a special bag that the little one knows is only for "church" if they are a toddler.  

If a baby, choose toys that do not make noise to disturb others who are trying to worship.  You need to make the child be quiet during worship...YOU are the adult who has to set the example.  If it is a baby, as soon as that child starts to cry, GET UP and go to the nursery!  That is why they are in the building as everyone knows a baby cries at will but it is your responsibility to not disturb others.  Everyone understands you cannot make a baby stop crying BUT you can get up and leave the service and go to a room that has been provided especially for this situation.  Today most of these rooms have TVs so you can still be a part of the worship.  HOWEVER, if the child is a toddler, you need to make it clear to the child that when they are in "church" they have to behave and if they do not , there is a consequence.  IF they do not, it is YOUR responsibility to get up, take the child out, discipline them (as there is always a consequence to misbehavior). It is understandable that sometimes there has to be an immediate action for something a child does, but again as soon as that child starts to cry, GET UP and get out of the service.  Calm the child down, explain why you took them out, and then GO BACK IN!  You can't let the child think that going out of the service means it is play time.  You are training this child to behave in a respectful way while in worship.  If you take them out to play, what does that teach them?  Children are extremely smart and are able to replicate behavior to get what they want.  You are then teaching them the exact opposite of what you need to be teaching them...if I act up, I get to go out and play. 

Parents have to be consistent and do not think "Oh, you don't know what my child is like."  Every parent in that service has gone through what you are trying to do.  Ask someone who has raised their children how they did it.  No one expects a new parent to know all the answers so be willing to ask those with experience to help you do the best job you can do.


 Three excellent points to remember from Melanie's response. Thank you Melanie! Good to hear from you. Please write again!

  • The scriptures teach us that it is our God-given responsibility to discipline our children and we will be held accountable for how we raise our children. They need to start from the beginning of that child's life letting them know there is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior and stick to it. There is a consequence for every action.
  • Why would a child want to be quiet and respectful if it does not seem any different than being at home playing and eating.
  • Do not take the stance that it's too late....I've already messed up. It is never too late to teach a child proper conduct.

Here's a list from myself and others of do's and don't's for helping our children learn to respect and honor Christ and His church during worship and bible class. If you'd like to add to the list use the comment box provided at the end of the list. Thanks!

 Do not just teach your children to be quiet, teach them to reverence and respect God, and to be thankful.

Be sure and practice reverence and respect to God at home during prayers, bible readings, and language.

Make sure you don't give your children the impression you are worshipping God just because it is a command and you have no other choice. If that's your attitude, it will be your children's as well. Even small children need to see and hear your love and joy of worship.

Make sure your child gets adequate rest Saturday night.

Make sure your child is prepared for his Bible class.

Give your child their own Bible and teach them to respect it.

About disciplining before you take the child out. Quiet reprimand is fine unless you have to repeat it a few times, then it may be disturbing to others. Spanking in the auditorium? That's more disrupting than the child was. Wait until you get outside to discipline.

Younger teenagers should not be allowed to sit in the back, away from the parent's view. It's too tempting to talk, pass notes, etc.

Don't allow children to visit grandma's pew in the middle of the worship service. (There may be times when you have to send the child to someone else if you have to take a baby out or go out yourself, but please don't do this just because the child dediced she/he wants to sit with grandma.)

Limit visits to water fountain and/or bathroom. Yes, there are times this can't be helped but please try and get them to go before worship begins.

Don't give threats of discipline when they get home but not follow through. That's useless and the child will begin to ignore your threats.

Crayons and paper may be fine for the very young but please make sure they don't make too much noise in crinkling the paper or coloring so hard it's noisy. Or marking song books, seats, and leaving papers laying around.

Don't leave mess  on seats... crumbs, gum wrappers, crayons, crayon marks, papers.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:11)

“Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.” (Proverbs 19:18)

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)

“Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13)

“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)

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Teach Your Child To Love Worship

Forrest D. Moyer

A very serious problem exists among religious families: sometimes their children who have been brought up "in the church" are anxious to "get out of the house" so they won’t "have to go to church" anymore. This is a perplexing problem fraught with serious consequences. Why does a child want to "get away from" the church? What kind of children from what kind of families do so? I don’t know all the answers to questions like this, but let me suggest a few thoughts.

I believe that one real source of this attitude is that children are not taught to love the worship of the Lord. From the time they are infants the parents are yelling at them on Sundays to "hurry up and get up ‘cause we have to go to church" with the emphasis on "have." Nothing is said about the joy of worship. Nothing is said about the wonderful privilege that is ours. Children are taught that "going to church" is a drudge. No wonder they want to get away from it.

When children are in the assembly, often they are allowed to play with all sorts of toys and games. This causes them to think that the assembly is some place to play games; and then when they are older and too big to play games, they are bored with what is going on. Many children are not taught to sing. They are allowed to play when worship to God in song is being rendered. If they are not taught to sing as tiny tots, then as they grow older they will not sing. Parents, do you teach your children the words to songs at home so they will know them and be able to join in the singing? It is a sad sight to see teenagers just sitting and looking around instead of singing. No wonder they have no interest. They are not taught reverence during prayer. They keep on playing instead of being taught to always bow their heads in reverence. If you took your child to the funeral of a loved one, would you give him games to play? Would you allow him to "do his own thing" or would you teach him reverence and respect for the dead? No, our worship is not a funeral, but it is holy and children need to be taught that it is.

They must be taught to study the Word. Are you studying the class lessons with your children every day? Are you teaching them to enjoy that part of the day and really look forward to it? If this is the environment of a child, you will seldom see him wander away from the Lord. Those who are taught to study the Bible are the ones who listen to sermons and lessons. They are the ones who will understand much more of the lessons that are being presented. (And, by the way, what happened to the teenagers all sitting at the front? What an inspiration that is to the whole congregation!) These are the ones who grow up to love the Lord and stay with Him.

Friend, what are you teaching your children? To love God and His worship, His word, and His people? What you teach your child, who is a tiny tot now, will determine where he will be when he is old. Seems like Solomon said something like that somewhere.

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TRAINING OUR CHILDREN TO RESPECT AND HONOR GOD IN OUR WORSHIP ASSEMBLIES

Part 2 of 3

by Pat Gates

 

To help our children remain faithful throughout their lives we need to give them a good solid foundation of respect towards Almighty God. We do this by teaching them who God is and how we are to please Him, as revealed in the holy scriptures. We need to make sure they understand God is One to be feared, to be glorified, to be honored, and adored; that He is praiseworthy and one with whom we bow ourselves in humble submission. In order for our children to learn this, they must see it in ourselves and hear not only instruction but see our example of respect towards our Creator and Savior.

While we must live holy lives throughout the week, our children should witness our true respect towards God in our treatment of the worship assembly. We must show complete honor to Christ and His church by our own actions and in our teaching and discipline in our children's actions during the worship service. Distractions from our focus on why we are assembled must be eliminated, as much as depends on us, and we and our children must not become purposeful distractions for others (not talking about crying babies and situations we can't help).

This month we are going to continue our thoughts on what can distract from our worship of God when we are gathered as a church for the purpose of honoring and adoring God the Father, our Savior, Jesus, and the word the Holy Spirit has revealed unto us.

Distractions During Our Worship Service and Bible Class.

Improper Clothing

The topic of improper clothing we're going to discuss is clothing that may distract our thoughts from worshipping God to things of this world. While I won't be discussing whether a man should wear a suit and tie or whether women should always wear dresses, I will talk about two types of clothing that we need to teach our children to avoid when they join the congregation in worship: (1) Cartoons and t-shirts that distract our thoughts and (2) Immodest clothing (which, of course, should never be worn). We are physical and our eyes take in everything around us and we may find ourselves easily distracted with clothing that may be nice and proper, but be that as it may, it is up to us to bring our thoughts captive unto Christ as well as not becoming a stumbling block to others who are trying to worship God
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(1) Clothing that entertains or makes a statement. The t-shirts and tie above are examples of distractions. Without creating a dress code, saying there should be no t-shirts or ties with pictures on them, we should ask ourselves and our children if the shirt and tie is a temptation to change other's focus on the Lord to something physical such as favorite musicians, cartoons, politics, or sports. As I said we all can be distracted even over proper attire, but what if the t-shirts or tie (above) are being worn while waiting on the Lord's table or leading in scripture reading or singing? Where would everyone's thoughts immediately go? If you think this is extreme and no one would do this, how about a song leader who wore a t-shirt with a bus on it and it was advertising a local denomination? I saw that one myself. It was a young man still living at home. He should never have been allowed to walk out of that house wearing that shirt, whether he was the song leader or not. He wanted to make a statement and it wasn't about focusing on the Lord, but focusing on his own rebellion.  
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I received the following email on the topic of how clothing could distract from honoring Christ during worship:
The word "modest" means well-arranged. It implies shamefacedness and sobriety in dress. We are coming before the Lord of Hosts! What we do is supposed to be in an atmosphere of reverence. Anything that might distract a worshipper should be worn elsewhere! While it may be cute or funny, Christ's death is not funny, and one who cannot bring reverence to the Table should not be leading. 

I'll never forget during one Lord's Day when a guy's Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer tie ( a musical tie) went off during the Lord's supper because a fellow's grandbaby pressed the button on his tie right then. As people sat reflecting on the emblems in this massive auditorium, "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" played.

At another place, I heard about the men passing around this hideous tie. Someone new had to wear it each week! It became the running joke to spot who had the hideous tie on! Again-- not why we come to worship!
In yet a third situation, all the men among themselves started seeing who could come up with the absolute worst tie! So you had scores of men running around in bad ties! What do you think people were concentrating on in those services?
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I have heard of sport's bets being made and whoever lost had to wear a ridiculous type of clothing on Sunday. If this type of bet is taking place at someone's wedding or funeral or if silly ties or political and sports t-shirts are being worn we would think it disrespectful. But how much more disrespectful is it to wear clothing as a joke at a time when we are coming together as the Lord's church to honor our Lord and Savior?! If we had the chance to meet at the dinner table of one of our physical heroes would we put thought into what we are wearing? Of course. How much more should we dress to honor the One who is worthy to be honored? When the body of Christ comes together to praise its King it is a time to focus on things that are above, not on things of this earth. It is a time to direct our thoughts to God, not ourselves and we need to teach our children this, for not only their sakes, but for the sake of the church.
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This being said, God is also not impressed with our stylish and expensive clothing and we will have thoughts on that further down the page.

(2) Distracting immodest clothing. At all times we mothers should be teaching our children, by word and example, to dress in modest apparel with shamefastness. Is there ever a time when we shouldn't? Weddings? Vacations? Sports? Parties? Unfortunately, I often see two standards of modesty practiced by Christians (Facebook is a good source for proof of this). Some Christian parents and teenagers give themselves license to dress anyway they want to when they are attending a wedding or party or anything "fancy." Low-cut clothing on these mothers and their daughters would never appear on them when they meet with the church but take a look at their facebook page and you'll find pictures of them in bathing suits, low-cut or strapless formal wear, short shorts, and mini dresses. I've seen a mother who calls herself a "Christian" who posts pictures in facebook of her teenage daughter in a bikini. Is there no shame? Is there no concern about other Christians who her daughter will tempt much less all the strangers who will see her almost naked daughter? OK, I said I was going to focus on the assembly and I got carried away, but Facebook has been an eye-opening experience as well as a very discouraging one. 

Now for the assembly of the saints in regards to teaching our children to honor God in modesty and not to purposely become a distraction during worship service. I realize there may be times (not often) when we women dress immodestly when we don't realize it. When slits in skirts first became popular I had a skirt that I wore thinking it was fine. One day I caught a glimsp of myself in a mirror and discovered when I walked or stood a certain way much more of my leg was being revealed than I realized. I was embarrassed to think I  had been wearing that and not knowing so I would suggest getting yourself and your daughters a full length mirror.  Most of the time, however, I believe women and teenage girls know when their clothing is revealing and, if not, then we are failing to examine ourselves as well as teaching our children to do so.

Our children may not think too much of how they dress around Christian men... after-all they're Christians! They don't get tempted. Wrong! They are human. Men who serve the Lord's supper have mentioned how they've had to look away due to immodest clothing. We should never allow ourselves or our children to become a distraction to God's people and be a temptation of impure thoughts. And we shouldn't dress in such a way as a man has to force himself to look away instead of concentrating on the worship and praise of God. Do we want ourselves and our daughters to be the cause of a spiritual and fleshly battle being waged in a brother's mind due to our immodesty when his thoughts should be focused on his Savior? May it never happen!

Cleavage and too much leg showing are problems, but so are tight jeans. Again I've seen young Christian women who would not wear low-cut dresses and blouses to Bible class but they may wear very tight pants or jeans - some even sitting in the front rows.  It's a distraction to me and I'm sure it's much more of a distraction to the men. Ladies, we need to become more aware of ourselves and of our children and try our best not to become a distraction as well as a temptation by wearing immodest clothing.  

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I really like the following article. I highlighted, in red, some good thoughts, but in reality the whole article would be in red if I highlighted every good thought! -Pat

Modest Dress with Propriety and Moderation

by Tim Nichols

The perceived extremes regarding any Bible principle do not alter the principle. There really are some Biblical principles that relate to dress. The fact that some well-meaning people have gone to extremes regarding them does not remove them. Whether you admire or disapprove of the veiled women among some religious groups who cover themselves from head to toe or those who wear only the plainest possible garments of black and white, does not change the truth that there really is a sort of dress code that God imposes upon His children. It is sad that Christians sometimes suppose that the plain garments of the Amish and some other groups are extreme in one direction while seeming not to notice that the clothing worn by so many around us every day of the week is extreme in the other.

Television and movies may very well have become the measures by which some have wrongly ascertained the norms, not recognizing that these examples are extremes and often beyond the limits imposed by God's word. If the lines between what is appropriate and what is extreme are not always easily defined, they exist -- and the Christian can certainly find a manner of dress that is absolutely within the bounds. There may be a "gray area" between how far one can lean over the side of a high cliff and yet be safe -- and how far is too dangerous -- but most of us seem to know how to remain on the safe side of that line without claiming that we have found its exact location. If there is an extreme that might be called "excessive modesty" (an oxymoron?) on the one hand, there is a more dangerous extreme that inspiration calls "the attire of a harlot" (Proverbs 7:10).

Paul was not just giving his opinion when he was inspired to write that Christian women ought to "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, ... which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works" (1 Timothy 2:9-10). He was simply telling the truth. Modesty is first of all a condition of the heart and it is expressed or, conversely, shown not to exist by outward behavior and dress (Isaiah 3:16-24). The word that Paul used means "orderly, well-arranged, decent, modest" (Vine's). It is a quality that must be possessed and expressed by one who would serve as an elder (1 Timothy 3:2 -- translated "good behavior" and not connected with apparel in this case). It follows that a decent person will wear decent clothing and behave decently. The inner person will be expressed by what is on the outside (1 Peter 3:3-5).

The word for "propriety" (translated "shamefacedness" in the KJV) conveys the idea of "a sense of shame, modest..." (Vine's). It is not the idea of awkwardness that would cause one to become easily embarrassed without cause. It is more a sense of the point at which shame is in order and a keeping of oneself from that which ought to cause shame -- in order to remain free from it.

The word for "moderation" (translated "sobriety" in the KJV) "denotes soundness of mind... 'sound judgment' practically expresses the meaning...." (Vine's). These words obviously impart an obligation upon a woman to give careful thought to how her dress might complement her good works in "professing godliness."

While there may be some disagreement as to the exact point at which the line is crossed from acceptable to too tight, too short, too much flesh exposed, too flashy, too inviting of lustful thoughts... there is plenty of room for morally right choices to be made before those lines are approached. These principles can be followed. Maybe a few suggestions will help the process along.

Before leaving home, look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Why am I wearing this?" If your self-learned motive seems to violate any of these (or other) Bible principles, then it is time to change your outfit.

Look in the mirror and ask, "What will be the likely impression that others will have when they see me wearing this?" You might want to picture specific people, -- the elderly, the young, the brethren, the opposite sex.... Are you able to foresee any result of wearing what you have on that might hinder your profession of godliness? If so, then it is time to change your clothes. In the end, this is not a matter of merely avoiding criticism from others. It is a matter of really, from the depths of your heart, wanting to live a life that will glorify God. "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation" (Psalm 149:4).

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Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (Can we apply this verse to immodest clothing or clothing that may purposely distract from spiritual thoughts?) 1Co 8:13

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD. Jer 6:15

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14).


 

The following poem is to reflect our attitude towards our worship to God. I haven't posted it to say anything derogatory towards those who can't afford nice clothing (I can't) - more about that towards the end of the page - but to give thought inwardly and outwardly to please our God and Savior. We know our Lord is not impressed with clothing but He may be unimpressed with a purposeful lack of respect. We are meeting with the saints to honor God, not to honor men by dressing in finery or even dressing "down" just to please man or ourselves. Let all things be done in moderation, in modesty and humility.

           My Appearance

I go to see a girl-friend;
My clothes are nice and neat.
I comb the hair on my head
And shine the shoes on my feet.
.
My best friend is getting married;
He's asked me to be "best man."
I want to make his wedding great,
So I dress the best I can.
.
I'll attend a funeral tomorrow;
I will look my very best.
A brand new shirt and tie,
Plus a new suit and vest.
.
Now it's Sunday morning;
I will worship God today.
My clothes won't be too tidy,
And my hair in disarray.
.
My shirt will be open,
To show the hair on my chest...
And I'm not really too concerned,
Whether or not my pants are pressed.
.
I’ll wear a “tee” with a message,
To be cool, and to impress;
“Grunge” is good enough –
God likes the way I dress.
.
Why is it when before mere men.
I want to look my best,
But when I come to worship God,
I don't care how I'm dressed?
.
                                     -Anon.

 

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Can dressing "up" become a distraction?

As with so many choices we have to make in this life, we need to choose our clothing in wisdom and moderation. We can dress "down" in ways to please others (or ourselves) and ignore the fact we are meeting to worship Almighty God. Our clothing can reflect our attitude. Many years ago I was a substitute teacher for migrant worker's children. I was told never to wear jeans as the children need teachers who will inspire them to better themselves. Perhaps not wearing jeans and distracting clothing to our worship and Bible classes will inspire the children to learn more respect towards God.

On the other hand, because we are coming together to worship God, we need to remember Who we are worshiping and what God expects from us. Is He impressed by our clothing? Are we wearing clothing that we want to impress others with? Are we being a stumbling block to the poor? Take a look at the rest of the page in regards to placing too much emphasis on clothing that may show off our higher financial status in life (with the attitude of doing so). Could this be a distraction as well? (Even a distraction to our own purpose of meeting with the saints.)  -Pat Gates

 

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ON THE OTHER HAND...


1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “Do not murder.”[c]Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.


 

Dress Code

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Why do we pull out our best clothing each Sunday in preparation for attending services? Many of us have our "Sunday Best" – those outfits reserved for Sundays and other special occasions. The thought of attending services in anything but our best clothing is so repulsive that many people would rather miss service than to show up in anything less than suitable.

To be sure, the peer pressure is great. In my younger days, women were expected to wear a modest cut dress to Sunday services. I remember the dismay that pervaded a congregation in my youth when a woman who wore only pants suits began attending services. It didn't seem to matter that pants suits had been in style for quite a while. In fact, I'm sure that every woman in the congregation had at least one pants suit in her closet. It also didn't matter that the woman didn't even own a dress at that time. Nor did the fact that no man would be caught in one of these outfits. People were upset that she wasn't wearing a dress to services.

Men also had a dress code. They were expected to wear at least a tie on Sunday, though a full suit was considered more proper when serving at the Lord's table or when preaching from the pulpit. You could get by without a tie at mid-week services, but never on Sunday. I knew of two congregations where a man would not be called upon to serve at the Lord's table if he was not wearing a suit.

We started asking why do we have such traditions? Frequently, I'm told that we ought to "give our best to the Master." I tried to find this phrase in the Scripture, but it doesn't exist. It seems to be based on some of the principles in the Old Law which regulated sacrifices. In Deuteronomy 17:1, the Israelites were told not to sacrifice flawed animals. God expected a Jew to offer up the best of his flock. Even in criminal justice, a robber repaid his victims with the best that he had (Exodus 22:5). Giving up something that won't be missed is not much of a sacrifice. A true sacrifice involves giving up something that we care about. It shows God that we care for Him more than any material possession.

Can this principle be applied to dressing up on Sunday? What sacrifice is being made when we try to look our best before men? Except for the poor, owning and wearing a nice outfit does not cause any hardship. Except for little boys, most of the people seem to enjoy putting on their finery. Therefore, dressing up on Sunday can't be compared to the sacrifices that the Jews made under the Old Law.

Another common argument is that Sunday is a special day and as such deserves special attire. Please think about this carefully: when we dress up on Sunday, are we striving to please God or are we trying to please the people who will see us? Jesus taught us to quietly serve God and not to call attention to ourselves (Matthew 6:1-5). We are not to show off our piety before men.

There is one passage that discusses attire at the worship service – James 2:1-13. James very plainly states that no one is to discriminate on the basis of what another is wearing. If we do so:

  1. We show partiality, and so are judges with evil thought;
  2. We dishonor the poor;
  3. We break the law to love our neighbor as ourselves; and
  4. We are showing no mercy.

Some believe this passage only applies to strangers in our midst. Regular members should dress appropriately. However, James makes no such distinction in this passage.

God is impartial between rich and the poor. Being rich does not give a person any special privileges (Job 34:19). Rather, God accepts all who fear him and do his will (Acts 10:34).

Being poor is not shameful. We can be short on funds, but rich in spirit (Revelation 2:9). Yet, people insult the poor when they require a minimum standard for attire in the worship service. Don't they realize that the poor will find their way to God before the rich? God has chosen the poor, so that no one can find cause to boast (I Corinthians 1:26-31). God promised to treat us as we have treated others (Luke 6:37-38). What awaits those who exclude Christians from participation in the worship because they think their attire is not satisfactory?

God has not set a standard for the quality of our attire. Some don't mind that a few cannot afford good clothes, but ... "at least wear the best that you have" or "at least wear clean clothes to church " However, take a look at James again. The poor man in the example came in "dirty clothes" (NASB), "shabby clothes" (NIV), or "filthy clothes" (NKJV). In John 7:24, Jesus said that judging by appearances was wrong. It is wrong to judge a man by just what we see and it is wrong to judge a man by just what he wears.

Does this mean that a Christian may wear whatever he desires? No, God does set guidelines that we must follow, not just in worship but in all aspects of our lives. In I Timothy 2:9-10 Paul instructs women select clothing that exemplifies three qualities: modest, propriety, and moderation. The word “modest” comes from the Greek word komios, and it refers to things that are orderly, showing good behavior, or respectable. “Propriety” is from the word aidos, and means to have a sense of shame, bashfulness, or reverence. “Moderation” is from the word sophrosune; it means having good sense, a soundness of mind, and a display of self-restraint. Sensual or lewd attire is ruled out by these guidelines. It doesn’t demonstrate the Christian’s way of life (Ephesians 4:17-24). Nor should Christians select outfits that puts their wealth on display (I Peter 3:3-4). Nor should we chose clothes that demonstrate rebellion against the standards of society (I Thessalonians 5:14). Society does have informal rules of conduct governing correct behavior, including respectfulness demonstrated in the selection of clothing.

God sets the guidelines, but we run into problems when fashion changes. There was a time that you would never see a salesman without a tie. Today, the wearing of ties is becoming increasingly rare. At one time, women always wore dresses – especially in public. Now dresses are reserved for formal occasions. Yet, some brethren, remembering the old standards, insist that anything different is disrespectful. We must be very careful not to enforce our opinions as if they were God’s commandments (Matthew 15:9). If a congregation insists that its members wear ties or dresses, what will they do when ties and dress go out of fashion? And they will go out of fashion – they certainly weren’t around in Jesus’ day. When Christians set specific standards not found in the Scriptures, is it any different from the Pharisees establishing detailed rules concerning what precisely constituted work on the Sabbath or how to avoid becoming unclean?

If we take a look at the song, "Give of Your Best to the Master," we can find excellent instruction on what true sacrifice involves. We need to dedicate the best time of our lives to God instead of time that is convenient for us. Solomon instructs us to serve God while we are still young and have the energy to serve well (Ecclesiastes 12:1). If we wait until we are older, we won't be able to do as much as when we were young. We have so little time on the earth. We need to spend that time wisely (Ephesians 5:16, Psalm 90:12).

We also need to give God the best place in our lives. Jesus instructs us to put the kingdom of God first in our lives (Matthew 6:33). The church is more important than food, clothing or other things that we may deem as necessities. Paul instructed Timothy to give himself wholly to reading, exhortation, and to doctrine (I Timothy 4:14). If we have our priorities straight, all of our day-to-day cares will take care of themselves. However, if things like work become more important to us than serving God, we will lose the most important thing of all -- our souls.

God is not asking for anything more than what He has already given us. He gave the best that He had, his Son, so that we might be brought back to His fold. God gave us such an incredible gift, not because we were something special, but because we were so undeserving of His love. Even when we return the best that we have to God, it is too small a gift to repay God for his rich blessings. Can we give back to God anything less than the best that we have? We must give God our true best, not fancy clothing at worship, but whole-hearted service to our Master.

http://lavistachurchofchrist.org


The Shoes

My alarm went off -- it was Sunday again;
I was tired -- it was my one day to sleep in.
But the guilt I'd have felt the rest of the day
Would have been too much, so I'd go; I'd pray.

At the church, I bowed my head in humble prayer
Before I closed my eyes, I saw his shoes there
The shoes of man siting next to me
Were touching my own and I sighed.

With plenty of room on either side,
I thought, "why do our soles have to touch?"
It bothered me so; he was glued to my shoe,
But it didn't seem to bother him much.

Then the prayer began: "Heavenly Father," someone said--
But I thought, "Does this man with the shoes have no pride?"
They were dusty, worn, scratched end to end.
What's worse, there were holes on the side!

"Thank You for blessings," the prayer went on.
The shoe man said a quite "amen."
I tried to focus on the prayer,
But my thoughts were on his shoes again.

Aren't we supposed to look our best
When walking through that door?
"Well, this certainly isn't it," I thought,
Glancing toward the floor.

Then the prayer ended and songs of praise began.
The shoe man was loud, sounding proud as he sang.
He lifted the rafters; his hands raised high;
The Lord surely heard his voice from the sky.

Then the offering was passed; what I threw in was steep.
The shoe man reached into his pockets, so deep,
And I tried to see what he pulled out to put in,
Then I heard a soft "clink," as when silver hits tin.

The sermon bored me to tears--
And no lie--
It was the same for the shoe man,
For tears fell from his eyes.

At the end of the service, as is custom here,
We must greet the visitors and show them good cheer.
But I was moved inside to want to meet this man,
So after the closing, I shook his hand.

He was old, his skin dark, his hair a mess.
I thanked him for coming, for being our guest,
He said, "My name's Charlie, glad to meet you, my friend,"
And there were tears in his eyes -- but he had a wide grin.

"Let me explain," he said, wiping his eyes, face bowed low.
"I've been coming for months, you're the first to say, "Hello."
I know I don't look like all the rest,
But I always try to look my best."

"I polish my shoes before my long walk,
But by the time I get here they're as dirty as chalk."
My heart fell to my knees, but I held back my tears,
He continued, "And I must apologize for sitting so near."

"But I know when I get here, I must look a sight.
And I thought. . . if I touched you, our souls might unite."
I was silent for a moment knowing anything I said
Would pale in comparison, so I spoke from my heart not my head.

"Oh, you've touched me," I said. "And taught me, in part,
That the best of a man is what's in his heart."
The rest, I thought, this man will never know. . .
How thankful I am that he touched my soul!

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TRAINING OUR CHILDREN TO RESPECT AND HONOR GOD IN OUR WORSHIP ASSEMBLIES

Part 3 of 3

by Pat Gates

To help our children remain faithful throughout their lives we need to give them a good solid foundation of respect towards Almighty God. We do this by teaching them who God is and how we are to please Him, as revealed in the holy scriptures. We need to make sure they understand God is One to be feared, to be glorified, to be honored, and adored; that He is praiseworthy and one with whom we bow ourselves in humble submission. In order for our children to learn this, they must see it in ourselves and hear not only instruction but see our example of respect towards our Creator and Savior.

While we must live holy lives throughout the week, our children should witness our true respect towards God in our treatment of the worship assembly. We must show complete honor to Christ and His church by our own actions and in our teaching and discipline in our children's actions during the worship service. Distractions from our focus on why we are assembled must be eliminated, as much as depends on us, and we and our children must not become purposeful distractions for others (not talking about crying babies and situations we can't help).

This month we are going to continue our thoughts on what can distract from our worship of God when we are gathered as a church for the purpose of honoring and adoring God the Father, our Savior, Jesus, and the word the Holy Spirit has revealed unto us.

(1) Pew Ownership. First of all, nothing is wrong with sitting in the same pew every Sunday and even if you wanted to change pews every week, most likely, you will fail in your pursuit due to the fact most are content to remain in "their place." What does become wrong is when we become so adamant about "our pew" that we get put-out when someone beats us to our seat. We may excuse a visitor (still feeling a tiny bit irritated) but if it is someone who is a part of that local congregation we may feel apalled that the person took our seat when he knows it's ours. First of all, this feeling is silly and petty but, more importantly, do our child know we are put-out with that family or do they see us humbly sitting somewhere else, not placing emphasis on something as fleshly as demanding our pew.

Here are some examples of "pew ownership"  that should never become a distraction from our purpose of assembly.

  • Getting upset if the back seats are reserved for visitors, late-comers, the ill, or parents with babies. I've known of a family that quit coming due to their back pew being taken away from them for this reason. They were upset that became such an issue when, in actuality, they were the ones making it an issue.
  • Refusing to move in the center of the pew when asked by the announcer to make room for visitors. Our children are listening and noticing how much we care if visitors are made to feel welcomed.
  • Standing at the end of "our" pew until the occupants move toward the center or squeezing in to make a point, even though other seats are available.
  • Refusing to sit closer to the front. Period. I've heard of a congregation where there was a gospel meeting and the front pews from half way up, on one side of the building were empty, because the "regulars" took their regular seat in the back pews. It was not encouraging to the speaker nor to visitors and even some of the members of that local congregation were embarrassed by it. At what other function do we choose to always sit in the back seats? Are we so attached to our pew that our comfort zone is more important than looking like we are anxious to hear the gospel and be encouraging to those around us?
  • Looking for the best seat or refusing to sit anywhere other than near friends.
  • Sitting where it is the quickest to get out and get home.

We may not teach, by mouth, things that are discouraging and fleshly to our children but they observe our actions and learn from them.

(2) Temptation of cell phones. Who would have thought, a few years ago, we would all be carrying around tiny phones, even our children doing so! It has been a wonderful invention, but like many inventions, there are also problems that occur. If you feel compelled to send a text that isn't necessary to send, during worship service, please refrain from doing so. How often would a text be necessary? Perhaps once in a long time there may be an emergency to come up when you have an ill loved one at home and they can text you if they need you right away, but if there is not an emergency, what are you teaching the young people around you?

A phone in the hands of teenagers can be very tempting during worship, especially if they sit on the back pew without supervision. Texting friends, playing games, searching the internet and who knows what can all be done on phones now. I didn't have this situation when I was raising my boys but I do believe if I was a mother now, raising teenagers, I would not allow a phone to be taken to the church building. It's too much of a temptation when all our heart, mind, and soul should be focusing on the One we serve.  

One important thing to note: For those of you who are not aware some people use their phones, computers, and other electronic devices during services or Bible class because they have the Bible downloaded and they are reading the Bible off of these devices. As far as allowing our children to do this, wisdom needs to be used to make sure there is no temptation to use the device for anything not concerned with spiritual worship.

(3) Apathy and lack of respect. Our children watch and learn. Read the following list of items that make an impression on visitors. Are we teaching our children to make a good impression on visitors? Or the opposite?

Things that Impress Visitors

  • Two or three prayers that cannot be heard.
  • Members that daydream or sleep throughout the sermon.
  • Members who pass notes during the Lord’s Supper.
  • Members who never open their mouths during the singing.
  • Floors cluttered with dirty gum wrappers, Kleenex, baby’s cookie crumbs, scraps of stuff.
  • Scribbling in and playing with the hymnals.
  • Giggling.
  • Members who whisper, talk, write notes, pass pictures, etc, all through the services.
  • Persistent late-comers who disturb and distract their fellow worshippers.
  • Members who do not speak to visitors.
  • Announcements that are mumbled.
  • Singing that is lifeless and insincere.
  • Members who look like they wish they could be elsewhere.

unknown

(4) Apathy or Shyness when it comes to visitors. My mom always made it a point to meet visitors even when I knew it wasn't always easy for her. By her example I saw how important a few kind words of welcome are to those who have made an effort to join us in worship. What kind of example are we being to our children? Believe me, if they never see you speak to a visitor, most likely they won't care to when they become an adult. How can we ignore this much needed lesson?

How can we ignore a visitor? Our Lord sees us ignoring one who is searching for truth or perhaps one who is a child of God who cares enough to worship Him when out of town. What do you think the Lord thinks about us when we don't speak to visitors and don't care about our children learning to do so?

Read the following excellent paragraph.

I Was Lost and You Were in a Hurry

Author Unknown

I attended your services Sunday evening. You wouldn't remember me. I was there looking for something - I think I would have found it if you had not been in such a hurry. You sang hymns about a loving Lord. I felt a tight choking sensation, and my heart beat faster. Your preacher's message was thrilling. I realized I was lost and from the way he spoke, it seemed important to have a Savior.

The preacher finished his appeal and asked you to stand and sing another of those beautiful songs you know so well. I swallowed a lump in my throat and wished I knew the joy of which you sang. I was about to answer the call of the Gospel, when I heard a buzzing beside me. When I looked around, you were picking up toys and telling your children to get ready to leave. In front of me were whisperers and gigglers. A couple had already headed for the door. The ushers rushed about stacking chairs and opening doors. Beside me, you were frowning at your watch as if time were running out.

Seeing what I saw, I didn't want to look anymore. My eyes burned, my throat hurt, my feet wouldn't walk down the aisle. I could see that you really didn't care. This salvation the preacher had been telling about was not as important to you as getting out "on time." I only wanted to get away. I waited until services were over and walked out among you - alone unnoticed - and lost. Lost, because you were in a hurry. Lost, because it appeared you didn't really care if I was saved.

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November 2017