Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 7 July 2014
Page 7

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

Working Now, We
Will Rest When We Die

Marilyn LaStrape

Marilyn LaStrapeThe apostle John wrote in Revelation 14:13, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’”

When Jesus Christ had John to write to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3, He made this statement to every one of those churches: “I know your works.” Paul admonished us in Galatians 6:9-10, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Christians don’t ever give up! Speaking of Himself, Jesus said in John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” Solomon put it like this in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.”

From these few of countless passages where God has called us to the work, where did some of us ever get the idea that once we were saved that there was nothing left to do but wait for the Lord’s return? How did some of us confuse getting saved being equal to getting out the lawn chair, getting in the recliner or the hammock – or reaching for the remote to the TV or the DVD player? Don’t we understand there is work to do, and there is work on every hand?

God gave Adam physical work and mental work, and he lived in a paradise home! After God created Adam, Genesis 2:8 and 16 reads, “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.” “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” To engage Adam’s mind in a worthwhile pursuit, verse 19 says, “Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.”

A close study of Scripture reveals that rest is of the most temporary nature even after the most monumental task has been achieved. After Elijah faced and executed the 450 false prophets of Baal, he ran because Jezebel had vowed to kill him (1 Kings 18 and 19). He prayed that he might die because he felt he was no better than his fathers, so he laid down and slept. An angel came, touched him and told him to arise and eat. The angel came a second time and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you” (1 Kings 19:7b). Elijah went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.

When he got to the mountain, 1 Kings 19:9 says, “And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” So Elijah said he had been very zealous for God; the children of Israel had forsaken His covenant and torn down His altars and killed the prophets; he alone was left, and they were seeking his life. Later, God asked him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah responded as before. It is then that God informed him that He had reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees had not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that had not kissed him (1 Kings 19:13-14, 18). God had more work for this great man to do!

These and many other passages should fortify and encourage us to continue in the work. First Corinthians 15:58 is a familiar verse that strengthens. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Notice Paul said we are to abound in our labor in the Lord.

Of course, our working must be balanced with resting. We see this example in Mark 6:7-13 when Jesus called the apostles to Himself and began to send them out two by two to preach. Mark 6:30-32 says, “Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” Jesus called them aside to rest a while, but not for an indefinite sabbatical! These twelve men had much work to do!

Jesus often went out to the Mount of Olives after a day of teaching and preaching, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, and raising the dead. Yet, Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews did not let that stop him; this man came to Jesus by night (John 3:1-2)! Jesus took full advantage of the opportunity to teach him about the new birth for entrance into the kingdom of God. Jesus took the time to explain to Nicodemus exactly what He meant and how His teaching on the spiritual birth had to be obeyed to accomplish reconciliation to God (John 3:3-21).

Whatever we are going to do in the kingdom, we must do it in this present moment because now is all we have. Advancing age and health issues will naturally demand that some concessions must and should be made. This does not mean that we suspend or terminate our service to God and others without ever intending to return to the work. Revelation 22:12 is crystal clear. Jesus said, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Rest follows work! We are working for Him now, and we will rest when we die!

Don’t Drop that Baton

Beth Johnson

At times I have wondered if some of the world’s church-related statistics have not been worded in such a way as to discourage parents – especially Christian parents. “They’re leaving!” It’s hard to miss that ugly declaration in bulletins and periodicals everywhere. One such report from George Barna’s stats proclaimed that an average of 70% of teens will leave the church after high school graduation. Should we be frightened? What should be our response?

One blogger testifies that families and the church are dysfunctional and that kids want to get away from both. They want to find their own “functionality” for their lives without the problems they see around them (Woodman).

Not only are the children leaving, but scores of women are said to have already left the church for institutions where their voices may be heard from the pulpits and stages. Supposedly even preachers are leaving for systems where they are not so restricted by laws (Palmer).

My husband and I have given birth to three strong-willed, independent-thinking children, beginning with our firstborn in 1963. Later, we adopted two more equally strong-willed children whose families were not there for them. While I was a public schoolteacher, my husband was a fulltime minister, and after more than a half-century of investing our lives in our children’s spiritual development, supplementing their education, eventually beginning to homeschool, we have learned a whole lot about what it means to transfer the baton to the next generation.

Early on we learned that home educators are particularly blessed with an edge. They have the benefit of access to their children 24/7, leading by example and exercising a powerful influence, primarily because they have the luxuries of time and togetherness. Yes, after I became a homeschooling mom, my thoughts have often been occupied with pencils, papers and curriculum, but my overriding mission and passion has always been more about imparting spiritual concepts to our children than simply pursuing an academic agenda.

The average Christian parent whose children are sent out to be educated doesn’t get to see his school-aged child for seven to ten hours of each weekday, because during those hours children are on the way to school, being influenced by the world in school or on the way home from school. That same child may spend about as much time sleeping in his bed at night. The hours left for meaningful parent-child interaction are not only few, but they also are chock-full of stressed carpools, debriefing, dinner preparations, chores, homework and assorted extracurricular activities. The fact is, the world’s formal schooling holds families hostage to a system that dominates their days, nights and weekends. Within that system, only crumbs of time are left for directing the children toward discipleship.

Worse yet, while the vice of secular academia grips these vulnerable kids in its jaws, they are likely to be exposed to all manner of negative influences during their countless hours on campus. In public schools it’s no secret that their course of study will be permeated with secular humanistic philosophy (Secular Humanism), while at the same time they could be dodging bullets (“Timeline”), bullies (Bullying), blatant sexual perversity (Wetzel) and peer pressure, to name a few of the dangers they could encounter daily. Let’s be honest, private schools cannot guarantee a child exemption from such hazards.

On weekends (if there’s time after soccer, hockey, band and football), this same parent may drop his children off to attend church programs designed to save them from the deplorable indoctrination experienced while engaged in their educational institution. Crazy, wouldn’t you say? Such programs are just one more way for the world to take the children away from the influence of the parents.

Local churches too often offer elaborate décor, Wii games, basketball, air hockey, and other age-appropriate amusements. These folks are serious about impacting the youth, but in my decades of experience, I have learned that providing myriad special youth nights and extravagant pleasure for teens doesn’t keep the teen sheep in the fold. Institutions will not save our kids. It’s up to parents to create our own revolution in our homes for our sons and daughters.

I said “home educators have an edge,” but I didn’t say “they have it in the bag.” Many enthusiastic homeschool parents are smugly touting their youngsters the “signs and wonders following them,” but a word of caution: babes under your wing aren’t yet adults who’ve decided to follow Jesus.

I’ve met many disappointed parents and heard much debate related to this topic. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve found what I think is the non-negotiable in this all-important matter of getting – and keeping – our kids in the race (Hebrews 12:1-2).

It begins with us. The good news is that we are the models! Wow! There is so much power in our very own hands to impact the next generation! The bad news is that we are – the models. Sigh! What a huge responsibility we have before God to make right choices for the sake of our children.

It’s my conviction that we pass on to our children far more than our physical DNA. Our sons and daughters will reflect what we are. We establish the standard and cast the mold, and that’s serious stuff. We can preach truth day-in-and-day-out, but if we aren’t living it, kids know that. You can’t get anything past them.

So, what are you? I’m not asking if you’re a church member, a homeschool parent, how much money you give or what good works you do. What we are and what we do can be two very different things. Are we simply religious followers in systems, attending to those duties prescribed by the church or traditions of men, or are we decidedly dedicated disciples of Christ, recognizing that “…he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15)?

As Christian parents, we are far more than educators equipping our students for a future vocation; we are the primary ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our impressionable youngsters. Isn’t that sobering?

If we believe Jesus’ statement that the “disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40), our mission is paramount. We cannot deny that our toughest job is to first lead ourselves strongly (with the baton firmly in hand) to grow into the image of our Master (Ephesians 4:11-13). Let’s be done with lesser things and “So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24)!

Works Cited

Barna, George. BarnaGroup. 1 Jan 2014. <www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/534-fivemyths-about-young-adult-church-dropouts>.

Bullying Statistics. 14 Jan 2014. <http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/school-bullying.html>.

Palmer, Sean. “It’s You, Not Me: Why More and More Ministers Are Leaving the Churches of Christ.” The Palmer Perspective. 31 Oct 2013. 14 Jan 2014. < http://www.thepalmerperspective.com/2013/10/31/its-you-not-me-why-more-more-minister-are-leaving-churches-of-christ/>.

Secular Humanism. 14 Jan 2014. <http://secular-humanism.com/>.

“Timeline of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings.” 14 Jan 2014. <http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777958.html>.

Wetzel, Dan. “Steubenville High School Football Players Found Guilty of Raping 16-year-old Girl.” Yahoo Sports. 17 Mar 2013. 14 Jan 2014. <http://sports.yahoo.com/news/highschool--steubenville-high-school-football-players-found-guilty-of-raping-16-year-old-girl-164129528.html>.

Woodman, Leo. “Why Do Young People Leave the Church?” The Gospel Beacon. 13 Jan 2014. 14 Jan 2014. <http://thegospelbeacon.blogspot.com/2014/01/why-do-young-people-leave-church.html>.

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