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Estes Echo

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Estes Echo

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Estes Echo

Me, a Teacher?

I have lived in Tennessee for a long time and thus have learned to appreciate things like the Smoky Mountains, mules, Mennonites, the Vols, and even country music. Do you remember the country song titled “Who’s going to fill their shoes?” by George Jones back in 1986? In the song the Possum asked who would replace the legends of country music that had given their “heart and soul to get to me and you.” I used to wonder when I heard that song about an institution that is much more important than the country music establishment: the church. Who will be our future elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class teachers, servants, members…who will fill our shoes?

I believe that three groups are most effective in determining the answer to that question: 1) church leaders, 2) parents and 3) Bible class teachers. There are men and women who taught me from my mother’s knee about God and His love for us that I will forever be indebted to. Some of you are those kinds of people. You give hours and years of your lives to benefit us and our children and their children. Thank you. You are doing a great job and are offering a consistent and effective ministry.

If you are a Christian, you are also a teacher. Paul referred to this principle in 2 Timothy 2:2 when he talked about how the Christians in Ephesus could take the things that had been taught and teach them to others so that they too could teach others. It is a self-reciprocating process. You are taught, you teach, and the people you teach teach. Can you think of a better way to leave a legacy? Christians illustrate God to others. God Himself was a teacher (Isaiah 30:20). Jesus taught God’s will (John 7:16) with authority (Matt. 7:28-29; Luke 20:1-2; 24:27). Jesus was a popular Temple teacher (Luke 21:37-38). As Christian teachers we should first teach others to trust God. It is a part of our continued effort to glorify God. We are not motivated to teach by recognition or power. Instead we pray that God will use us in our imperfections and limited wisdom to teach others that He is not limited or imperfect. Secondly, we should also teach others to remember God’s works. Israel and the early church often forgot to do this and their failure to teach led to apostasy. Let’s not make this same mistake. Third, we should teach others to obey God’s Word. Obedience is a learned behavior. Children who go undisciplined rebel. We are not obedient just to keep a list of rules, but rather we are obedient because we are seeking to have a real relationship with God and respond to what He has graciously done for us. Every Christian is a teacher. Let us make sure that we teach so that one day the “shoes” of those leading God’s people today will be filled by those who are well equipped for the task.

–Doug Burleson

Estes Echo

We live in a connected world. Mobile technologies are pervasive. This technological advancement is considered by most to be a good thing. However, as often is the case, good things often become challenges. Such can be the case now as our political season is well underway and our connected status besieges us with political news, news that is rarely healthy or positive. More times than not, the news story is full of selfish desires, hate, and negativity.

If we are not careful this barrage of selfish desires, hate, and negativity will influence us, even affecting us spiritually. Reading and hearing this kind of rhetoric can slowly change who we are. Things that obviously are counter to appropriate Christian behavior can slip into our lives and all at once become acceptable behavior. Things that have always been counter to our faith now move into our lives and weaken a once vibrant faith. When this occurs, a tremendous spiritual danger arises, one that Satan will use. Take this as a warning and consciously make an effort to monitor and control the mind siege brought about by our use of technology.

What can we do in this regard? In addition to managing our technology by using filters or turning it off for periods, I suggest we look at the book of Jude and here is why.

Jude is a short book, only 25 verses in length. Although dealing with false teachers that had gained access to the church, Jude’s teachings also provide a way to deal with the kind of things that negatively influence us or challenge our faith. In fact, one could argue that the kind of political rhetoric we are referring to could be considered false teaching in that it can encourage attitudes and activities counter to what Christians should display or be involved with. Our trust in the essential truth we hold to, the Gospel message as the only true way, must be protected.

Although the source of problems that Jude refers to may be different than what we confront today, the result can be the same, falling from the very beliefs that assure our salvation. Allowing selfish desires to control our thoughts and actions (vs 16) will eventually permit the deterioration of our beloved faith. So instead of being besieged by the political fallout of selfish desires, hatred, and negativity, let’s do what Jude encouraged his readers to do. In verse 3 he asks his readers to contend for the faith, meaning to fight diligently against the difficulties facing the one true faith. Beginning in verse 20, he suggests that we build ourselves up in the holiest faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, abiding in God’s love, which includes our demonstration of godly love. All of which will help recognize false rhetoric and in turn help us to stay focused in contending for and defending the faith.

–Mark Scott

Estes Echo

A Penalty for Integrity

Mark Wilson is a professional golfer that few readers will know by name. He currently ranks 172nd in the PGA Tour, and has not finished in the top 10 in any of the 20 events he has played in 2016. Since going pro in 1997, Wilson has placed 1st in only 5 out of 358 events. His first championship came after 10 years of playing professional golf, on March 5, 2007. At the end of regulation play, Wilson was tied with three other players. He then had to defeat them in a playoff to clinch the victory. Wilson could easily have won in regulation play, however, if he hadn’t been so concerned with being a person of integrity.

As Wilson took a shot at the 5th hole, an opponent behind him asked his own caddie what club Wilson had just used. Wilson’s caddie overheard, turned around, and casually told the pair what club Wilson had used. After finishing the hole, Wilson spoke with an official about a possible violation of the rules. The second part of the PGA’s eighth rule restricts players from giving advice to any opponents. Wilson told the official what had happened and the official quickly decided to penalize Wilson two strokes.

It would have been easy for Mark Wilson to simply ignore the unintentional violation, to address it privately to the caddie only, or to rationalize that he should not be penalized for someone else’s mistake. Instead, Wilson recognized that “the rules of golf are there to be fair for everyone” and he told the official of the possible violation (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-golf-pga-wilson-idUSL0535218320070305). He took a penalty to maintain integrity. When Wilson willingly took the penalty, he could not have known that doing so would put him in a playoff to win. One wonders whether he would have taken the penalty if he could have known that it might cost him his first championship. For a person of integrity, however, honesty must be maintained even when it comes at a cost.

Jesus said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’” (Matthew 5:37, NKJV), teaching that what we say should be truthful at all times (cf. Col. 3:9; 1 John 1:6; Rev. 21:8). As Christians, we should examine our own heart. Am I willing to face penalties to maintain my integrity? Am I willing to pay fines and fees to maintain my integrity? Am I willing to lose my job to maintain my integrity? Am I willing to lose a friendship to maintain my integrity? Am I willing to be persecuted to maintain my integrity? In all actuality, if I would give up integrity for money, fame, to be accepted, or for anything else, then I am not truly a person of integrity. When asked, “Do you still hold fast your integrity?” (Job 2:9), I pray that my answer will always be, “Yes, no matter what.”

-James H. Dalton

Estes Echo

God is Near

If God were to ride to work with you one morning, what would you say? Would you praise Him? Would you ask Him to help you with your struggles? What would you say to God? Far too often we forget just how close God really is. How close are you to God? Your answer may be “very close!” but my guess would be that most of us would say that we could be much closer to God than what we are now. One of my favorite songs is “Nearer Still Nearer,” and the message that it has speaks so powerfully to me. How near are you to God?

I once heard Barry England say, “The nearer we allow God to be, the farther Satan becomes.” When have you been most susceptible to sin? Was it when you were reading God’s Word daily? Was it when you were talking to God through prayer on a regular basis? Probably not. If we come near to God, He will come near to us. And if God is near you, then Satan will have go work really hard to get you. That comforts me to know that God is on our side. If God is on our side, who can be against us? Not even the devil. If we stay close to the cross, not only is God close to us, but He is within us! That’s pretty near if you ask me! With our eyes fixated on Christ and the Spirit that we read about in Galatians 5, we have the whole Godhead with us. Isn’t that exciting? I encourage us that wherever we are in our spiritual walk with God that we will not become lazy. Instead, recommit every day to His will and develop a closeness to Him that you’ve never had before. God is always near us. Are you near to Him?

–Alex Blackwelder

Estes Echo

WILL YOU NOT REVIVE US AGAIN?

Psalm 85:6

About forty years ago, when I was a student at Freed-Hardeman University, the Estes Church of Christ was my church home. What a privilege to come back home and preach in a revival on September 11-14.

In the few days together, we will be looking at some of life’s greatest questions. The Bible, the B-I-B-L-E, is Basic Information Before Leaving Earth. Sometimes I like to say that the Bible, the B-I-B-L-E, is Basic Inquiries Before Leaving Earth. You see, the Bible is filled with a number of wonderful questions. Questions like…

  • Will you not revive us again?
  • Why has all this happened to us?
  • What must I do to be saved?
  • Why do you wait?

Man doesn’t have the answers to the key questions of life, but God does. In fact, he has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (ll Peter 1:3).

As we anticipate our revival, there are a few things that I want you to do. First, pray. Pray for the success of the revival. Pray for the church and the community. Pray for me, your visiting evangelist. Pray for God to be glorified and the lost to be saved. As Paul said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).

Second, plan. Plan on being present for every service. I know that life is busy. There are classes to attend, work to manage, schedules to keep, places to be and new friends to make. So much demands our time and attention. But put first things first. Come for every service and have a little fellowship with Jesus. Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

Third, plead. Plead with a loved one to come. Pass on an invitation to a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker or a classmate. Perhaps you could say, “Hey, let’s have dinner together on Tuesday evening and then we will go and share a spiritual meal together.” All of us can be like Philip. We can say to someone we love, “Come and see” (John 1:46).

Fourth, be positive. Expect great things to happen. Will anybody be saved? Will a backslidden brother repent? Will the prodigal come home? Will the discouraged be encouraged? Be optimistic. Be enthusiastic. Anticipate awesome results. Paul penned in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Fifth, prepare. Prepare your heart to receive the word of God. As the Bereans, receive the messages with great eagerness and examine daily the things that will be said (Acts 17:11). Prepare your soul for eternity. As Amos said to ancient Israel, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).

I’m excited about being at Estes. If we do our part, God will do his part. I’ve got an idea–why don’t you stop right now and pray for the revival. Pray as did the Psalmist, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).

Go ahead. Pray.

–Keith Parker, evangelist, Hendersonville, TN

Estes Echo

God’s Providence in our Evangelism

God cares very much about everybody. God loves everybody. God especially cares very much about and loves his children. Read what Jesus says about this in Matthew 6:25-34.

God wants everybody to live eternally in heaven. Read what Paul says about this in Acts 17:22-31. Jesus died on the cross so all the sins of every single soul may be washed away. Read what Paul says about this in Romans 5:18-21. God’s perfect plan of salvation was devised before our world was formed. Read what Paul says about this in Ephesians 1:3-14.

God sent Jesus into our world at just exactly the right moment. Read what Paul says about this in Galatians 4:1-7. God knew that was just exactly the right moment. God had observed what actions we had taken up to that precisely right time. In fact, he had directed, guided and/or otherwise influenced at least some of those actions. The Bible gives us some insight into some of his directions, guidance and influence, however, it is silent about many of his ways. God’s ways are simply beyond our comprehension. Read what Isaiah reveals about this in Isaiah 55:6-13.

God plans for people to find out about him by you and me telling them about him. When we talk about God, a lot of people will think we are fools. However, some people will see the power of God and the wisdom of God when we talk about him. Read what Paul told the Corinthians about this in I Corinthians 1:18-25. So, let’s start talking!

Yes, but. I’m scared. I may make someone mad. I may lose friends. I may become one of those folks everybody tries to avoid because I’m looked at as a religious fanatic. You are absolutely right. You may be scared, and some or all of that stuff may happen. So? I would very much not like to be fined, jailed or otherwise punished for talking about God. I would very much not like my family’s welfare endangered by my being punished for talking about God. Could that possibly happen? Yes. You could be persecuted just like Hebrews 11 and secular history tell us God’s people were persecuted. I do not want to go through any of that. But. “What then shall we say to these things?” God is for us. Read Romans 8:31-39 to see just how completely God protects us. Read what Jesus told Peter in Mark 10:28-31 about what happens when God’s people sacrifice themselves to God. Read what Jesus said discipleship means and the protections that go along with it in Matthew 10:26-31.

When someone greets you with “How are you”, a simple response like “Truly blessed” may trigger a conversation. When you greet someone with “How are you?” and they reply “Well, I woke up this morning!”, you might reply with “Yes, life is good. I am, though, looking forward to what’s coming next” or something like that. Nothing obnoxious, just something to maybe get them thinking about eternity. Truly listening when someone is talking, being compassionate, and genuinely caring about others may lead to conversations about God. Just plant seeds and water wherever you can. God will provide the increase. Exactly how will he do that? Exactly what will happen to you in this life? I don’t know. God knows. Read what John heard about that in Revelation 2:8-11.

–Gary Irwin

Estes Echo

A New Era in Haiti

Continuing to do mission work in Haiti without our sister Roberta is a new era indeed. We counted on her faith, energy, wisdom, and enthusiasm to make good things happen. It requires many people to do what she was doing, and the fact is that we will never replace her. It is the Lord’s work, however, and that is never supposed to depend on just one person.

Martial and Ketsy Viciere are the new houseparents employed by the Estes congregation to care for the children at Sonlight Children’s Home. They have two children of their own, a daughter and a son. They love these young people and are doing a good job. It is always difficult when a family loses a parent and then others have to step in to provide care. Please pray for the children and the Vicieres in this transition.

Widlord and Karen Thomas are the new innkeepers at our guest house for campaign teams. Karen is from Paris, Texas, and she is jumping into the work with both feet. She is already learning the language and is ready to tackle any challenge. Please pray for these newlyweds as they both adjust to married life and as Karen integrates into Haitian culture and ministry as a missionary.

Another element of this new era is the transition of older young people (over 18) out of the children’s home. Estes is committed to helping them transition to greater independence over the next two years. Unemployment is high in Haiti (60-70%) and it is not simple for them to get a job and become self-sufficient. Recognizing that each one of these young adults is unique, we have been working for several months to develop transition plans for each one. The intent is that they will have food, clothing, shelter, educational opportunities, and spiritual guidance during this time. Please pray for them to be able to find meaningful work and to continue to grow as disciples.

–Jesse Robertson

Estes Echo

Don’t Miss It!

On the morning of Jan. 12, 2007, a man stood in a metro station in Washington DC and began to play the violin. He played six Bach pieces in a span of about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle-aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but soon looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother nudged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Just two days before this incident, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

On this day, the tremendous talent and skill of a virtuoso went largely unnoticed by most of the passers-by. Is it possible that we might be missing something even greater? God has put his virtuosity on display throughout time: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). Don’t miss it!

–Mark Blackwelder