Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          November 17, 2013                                                                                                                            NO. 38



Several years ago, a Christian who was the president of a large state university stated his belief that students do not lose their faith because of evolution in the science department or humanism in the philosophy, psychology, or sociology departments. Rather, he felt that they become so absorbed with secular studies and secular activities that they do not take time for spiritual things. They neglect attendance at services, neglect Bible study and make their friends among worldly people. They die spiritually, not from poison but from spiritual malnutrition. Today, this is happening to children long before they get to college. And some of the finest, best intentioned and most sacrificial and loving parents are contributing to it.

Please pardon a personal reference. My parents were very concerned about keeping control of their children. My father complained 50 years ago that the schools were trying to take over the rearing of children and he was determined not to let that happen to his family. Anything the school planned that conflicted with church activities was considered an encroachment by the school. We did not participate in organized sports, either in school or in summer programs. We did not play in the band or join the scouts. As a rule, when school was out we came home.

You may think my parents extreme. Perhaps they were. But one thing was certain: We had time for whatever Christians were doing anywhere in the areas where we lived. We not only attended every regular service and every service of gospel meetings in our home congregation, but we attended most services of any meeting anywhere in driving distance even when meetings lasted the greater part of two weeks. Preachers who came preaching in the area learned to expect the Hall family near the front of the building night after night. I never remember going out of town for a ball game, but I remember many trips out of town to gospel meetings and lectureships. Those gospel preachers became our heroes and the members of those congregations became the friends whose respect and confidence we most desired.

This is not to say that all parents should adopt the policies of my parents. I did not adhere to all of them in raising my children. But surely some limits need to be imposed on the run-away secularism now so common. Children are the busiest people in town. Schools have lengthened the school day and long bus rides often require children to leave home very early in the morning and return late in the afternoon. Then they have homework to get. Much extra time in school is spent in humanistic activities. Children are constantly exposed to vulgarity and profanity not only from fellow-students, but even from teachers. They desperately need counteracting spiritual influences.

Many conscientious parents, however, want still more secular opportunities for their children than the standard curriculum provides. They encourage participation in extra-curricular sports organized by the school and in others that are privately organized, occupying afternoons and Saturdays and even portions of Sundays as well as the summer months. Students not inclined to sports are encouraged to join the band with long hours of after-school practice, summer band camps, compulsory Friday night football in the fall and concerts in the spring. In addition, there are often private music lessons. Scouts also provide wholesome experiences, and parents want their children to be involved. In fact, they feel that their children are deprived if they miss any of these opportunities, and so to provide them parents pack their own schedules full, taxiing the children here and there and sacrificially spending their energy and money.

What is wrong with these things? Generally nothing. The problem is that they are dominating children's lives. No wonder it has become impossible to plan a gospel meeting at a time when it does not conflict with some kind of secular activity! No wonder it is exceptional when students attend every night of such a meeting! No wonder very few parents and even fewer young people are to be seen at special services beyond their own congregation!

A negative attitude seems to be developing toward anything the church plans beyond the usual Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night assemblies or toward any extension of evening activities beyond one hour. The church is considered insensitive when anything is planned that encroaches on children's busy secular activities.

When do we expect our children to change from this heavily weighted emphasis on this world to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness''? If they become accustomed to a secular schedule in elementary school, high school will only increase the pressure. College allows still less time for the Lord unless there is a purposeful determination to keep the lid on secular demands. If such priorities have not been learned under the guidance of parents, it is unlikely they will be developed when students are on their own in college. By the time those school years of immersion in secularism are over, there is usually very little spiritual life left in them.

And it all begins when they are young!

---Sewell Hall

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Have you noticed how easy it is to find the time to do the things we really enjoy doing and how hard it is to find the time to do the things we do not enjoy doing? Could it be that this explains why it is so hard for some to find time to study the Bible or teach it to others, but seem to have no problem finding time to watch their favorite TV program or engage in some recreational activity?

Have you noticed how much our attitude toward something or someone can make any task either one of joy or one of weariness?  The priests in Malachi's day viewed their service to God as "what a weariness is it" (Malachi 1:13). Their attitude toward God (a lack of love and devotion) caused them to have this attitude toward serving Him. Is it possible that the same could be true today? When we hear those who claim to be Christians complaining about everything they are called upon to do (assembling with the saints, giving, study of His word, etc.) it tells us a great deal about their attitude toward God.  Their attitude is the same as that of the priests mentioned in Malachi. More importantly, God's attitude toward them is the same, also. “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Malachi 3:6). “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,’ Says the Lord of hosts,’Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.’” (Malachi 1:10).

Brethren, let us make sure we have our priorities in order. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’” Matthew 6:31-33.

---James Hahn

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

--- E.R. Hall, Jr.





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