Keeping Your Church Secure by Rodney Weaver
Excerpted from the August 2016 issue, this article by Rodney Weaver describes how essential it is that elders and church leaders become proactive and deliberate in their security plans.
Reprinted from the April 2016 issue of Gospel Advocate Magazine, this article discusses the Gospel Advocate’s benefits to and connections with preachers of the gospel.
Periodicals in the Restoration Movement have had a tremendous influence on the brotherhood. Each, in its own way, has sought to inform, inspire and influence its readers on matters it deemed important. For over 160 years the Gospel Advocate has withstood the test of time, connecting with churches, encouraging elders and partnering with preachers. It strives to have a balance in its approach to Scripture and church issues.
While accepting his new role in 2011, current editor, Greg Tidwell, reminded us that, “Tolbert Fanning and William Lipscomb began publication of the Gospel Advocate in 1855 ‘with the hope of rendering some good service in the cause of truth’” (Gospel Advocate, September 2011, p. 3). The Gospel Advocate remains true to that vision of rendering good service in the cause of truth, and preachers, in particular, have benefitted from it.
Known as “Old Reliable,” the magazine has served as a regular source of information and inspiration for generations of preachers. A number of ministers shared their thoughts with me for this article concerning how the Gospel Advocate has impacted their ministry. Like me, several of them were second- or third-generation preachers and shared how the magazine was important to the ministries of their fathers as well.
A common thread soon became apparent as I read the responses. Sound, reliable, balanced, trustworthy, informative and inspiring were among the terms used. One comment in particular seemed to encapsulate the minister-magazine relationship. This minister said the magazine was “like a good friend walking beside me in my ministry.”
The career of a preacher can be demanding. The position calls for a very giving person. A preacher will draw upon his knowledge and is expected to give advice, answers, encouragement and direction for others. That storehouse of knowledge will give out unless it is continually replenished by study. The Gospel Advocate is an excellent way to supplement a regular regiment of study.
Preachers are always on the lookout for good sermon material. The Gospel Advocate articles are great for sermon ideas, and many are easily adapted to sermons in their published form. The articles are logically organized, practical in application, and contain an abundance of pertinent Bible references. They are sources of spiritual insight and encouragement.
Each issue carries a variety of subject matter even though many of the articles will reflect the overall theme of the issue. The special series or theme will usually provide four to five articles on the subject, suitable in many cases for a short series of sermons.
Articles can be removed from the magazine and filed for future use if an immediate need is not present. This is especially helpful to preachers when a topic is building in popularity but is not yet needed for discussion in the local work.
Several years ago I purchased the entire library of a man who was no longer preaching. His topical files were filled with Gospel Advocate articles, and they proved to be a very rich and immediate resource on a wide range of subjects including worship, grace, church discipline, women’s roles, baptism, the Holy Spirit, modesty and shepherding.
The nature of the articles is timeless. The biblical answers to lust, worship or forgiveness do not change from one decade to the next. Preachers who have access to any issue of the Gospel Advocate have access to good, solid sermon material.
Our brotherhood is not immune to conflict and disputes. The Gospel Advocate is timely in addressing current issues facing the church and offers well-reasoned articles to assist preachers, elders and others in understanding the subjects.
The editorials are especially helpful when new concerns arise. Although no periodical, school or congregation speaks for the church, the Gospel Advocate does not retreat from the opportunity to fairly describe an issue and lay it alongside the Bible for consideration. The soundness of the editors over the years has been an asset for the magazine, helping keep the focus on the Bible and our need to revisit the pleas of the Restoration Movement.
With its unparalleled length of publication in the brotherhood, the magazine also is a great source when researching past conflicts among brethren. Some doctrinal issues, such as instrumental music or women’s roles, tend to be revived from generation to generation. The same questions and arguments are inevitably raised and discussed among members of the current day. Many perhaps have no idea that these issues were previously discussed at length.
Preachers can benefit from a review of the articles and editorials from previous decades. A careful review will help him quickly assess the principle elements of the subject and become confidently prepared to address the issue in his current setting.
Aside from the articles and editorials, each issue also contains other departments of interest. My routine each month is first to read through these “lighter” areas and then read the “heavier” articles when I set aside the time to read more deeply.
“The Anderson Files” is a collection of noteworthy items from the publisher and former editor, Neil W. Anderson. This popular segment contains short entries celebrating milestones, sharing good ideas and applauding individuals and churches who make a difference.
A page of book reviews introduces newly published works to the readers each month. Preachers or the associate editor Dennis Loyd, who compiles this section, often write these reviews. Books included in this section are always worthy of purchase, and the reviews are very helpful.
The obituary page includes tributes to recently fallen soldiers for the Lord. Over the years, this long-standing element of the publication has given birth to the Gospel Advocate Obituary Index (gaobit.lipscomb.edu), which is one of the most complete compilations of deaths in the Restoration Movement spanning from 1855 to 1994. In addition to this collection, every December issue of the GA since 1983 includes an index with the listed obituaries for the year.
Although the Gospel Advocate is a national publication, several regional or local events are often advertised. Recent advertised events of interest include the Affirming the Faith Seminar in Oklahoma City, Okla., and the Reconnect Men’s Conference in Peachtree City, Ga. Even if a reader is unable to attend such events, it is still encouraging to know what is being done in the brotherhood. The continued success of such programs can also inspire other churches and preachers to see the need to provide similar programs in their own area.
Preachers are better equipped to teach others as they have the opportunity to learn from a wide array of experienced writers in the Gospel Advocate. “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 NKJV). We are indebted to the Gospel Advocate for inspiring preachers for greater service by supplying content that informs, encourages and strengthens.
Mike Baker preaches for the Florence Boulevard Church of Christ in Florence, Ala., and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted from the March 2016 issue of Gospel Advocate Magazine, this article discusses the fact that if we lose our conviction in the authority of Scripture, we will have lost the light of His presence.
“If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Jesus warns in Matthew 6:23 (ESV). When that which is supposed to provide light becomes darkness, the darkness is overwhelming. Spiritual light comes from God. When those who claim to be spiritual abandon the Word of God, they become the source of devastating darkness. As David Lipscomb warned his readers:
“There is one great danger in seeking union among men – that is, in uniting with men we may separate from God. Often when we seek to get closer to one body we move away from another. We must be careful not to separate from God, because a union without God is a union in falsehood, a union with death. In any union of Christians, God must be the center and the head. We come into union with God by doing his commandments, by following his directions, and by walking in the light, as he is in the light” (Gospel Advocate, 1909, pp.1486-87).
The church of Christ is dividing into two irreconcilable camps. On one side are those who have kept the same faith. On the other side are those who are experimenting with a broad range of differing faiths. And there is a vast gulf between these two sides, separating the light from the darkness.
Reprinted from the February 2016 issue of Gospel Advocate Magazine, this article discusses the fact that a crucial part of the Christian life is getting along with the brethren.
Mark Twain once said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” For most, the term “sacred cow” has come to represent a stubborn loyalty to a long-standing tradition or institution that impedes natural processes. For as long as the church has existed, differences have existed among the brethren and will continue to exist among the brethren until the Lord comes back. How we handle these differences is the key to church unity. A crucial part of the Christian life is getting along with the brethren.
It is the right question for almost all of us. Honest hearts want to do what is right. When a person becomes a Christian or matures and gains a deeper understanding of Christian commitment or experiences a newfound prosperity, it is natural to ask the very practical question of how much I should give to support the work of the church and to other charities, public and private. When we consider that our Savior taught and exemplified that self-sacrifice for others and a loving regard for those most in need lies at the heart of doing our Father’s will and is essential to our salvation, it is natural for us to ask, whatever we have previously decided to give, “Are we giving enough?”
Reprinted from the September 2015 issue of Gospel Advocate Magazine, this article discusses the fact that the focus on women being allowed to preach has shifted from seeking biblical authority to the idea of purely giftedness in public speaking.
In June 2013, I walked into a session at the Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholar’s Conference hosted by Lipscomb University. It was titled “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Strategies for Social Change Within the Churches of Christ.”
I was attending the conference as a favor to my former professor and friend. He needed me to present my dissertation to highlight the doctorate of ministry program at his particular school. The title of the session concerning social change interested me because of my work on reaching out in my local community. Naively I believed the session would address evangelistic strategies in connecting with the downtrodden within local communities. This was not the case.
Instead the session was dealing with forcing a feminist agenda within the fellowship of the churches of Christ. I was surprised. The session used 1 Corinthians 4:20 as the thematic text. The verse states: “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (ESV). The leader of the panel discussion noted that the time for talk within the churches of Christ on gender equality has come to an end. Now, those who are advocates of this position were advised to use political power to force the churches of Christ to embrace full immersion of women within official leadership in the church.
Reprinted from the August 2015 issue of Gospel Advocate Magazine, this article reminds us that the responsibility to teach God’s Word lies at the feet of the parents.
There is an old saying, “The family that prays together, stays together.” No doubt this sentiment is more important these days than ever before. To this end, we at the Richmond Church of Christ in Richmond, Ky., have begun our “Family Devotional Week” program. The idea behind the concept is a simple one: make time at home to study God’s Word with your family.
Plenty of scriptures show the importance God puts on the study of His Word in our homes and lives (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15). Obviously the young preacher Timothy had plenty of home study about the scriptures when you read Paul’s writing in 2 Timothy 1:5: “I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (NKJV). Timothy learned at the feet of this mother and grandmother. His “genuine faith” came as a result of the teachings of his family.
Tolbert Fanning and William Lipscomb, the founders of the Gospel Advocate, possessed clarity of purpose. They were diligent students of the Word. Their goal in publishing the paper was “the maintenance of the doctrine of salvation through the gospel of the grace of God.” They knew “the gospel was the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16) and believed men were saved only through obedience to the gospel.
When David Lipscomb joined up with Fanning after the Civil War, his conviction for biblical truth caused him to sacrifice personal time and money throughout his 50 years as editor to keep the Gospel Advocate’s influence strong. He maintained his warnings about innovations being introduced into the church such as instrumental music, external agencies doing the work of the church, women’s role in the church and a wide acceptance of higher criticism that denied the inspiration and authority of the Bible.
Reprinted from the June 2015 issue of Gospel Advocate Magazine, this article reminds us that there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ.
A few years ago I heard a retired state trooper tell about his witnessing the execution of a man in the electric chair in Huntsville, Texas, in the 1950s. Have you ever seen anyone executed? I don’t know of anyone else who has.
Executions in our country today are fairly private and, supposedly, humane. The Bill of Rights forbids “cruel and unusual punishments.” In Jesus’ day they were quite public. Crucifixion was not unusual in Jesus’ day, but it was unspeakably cruel. The stark reality is that Jesus died in a shameful, horribly painful way – the death of a common criminal. Had He been executed by the Jewish method, He would have been stoned (John 8:59; 10:31; 11:8). But because Rome was in control, He died by the Roman method.
Jesus’ cross was between two others. Consider how the man on the middle cross was in some ways similar to yet vastly different from the others dying there with Him.