Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One More Sermon to Preach

Message found on a note in an aging preacher's office:
"One of the great joys of my life - Preaching! As for 'talent' I don't even compare to some! (But) as for 'appreciation' - No one is more grateful than I! God blessed me and I'm thankful! God's allowed me to preach 35 years, found a place for me in service, used me..."

This note belonged to Charles K. Burgess, a preacher in the church for the last 50 years. He gave his life in service to the Herren's Chapel church of Christ for the last 42 years. As I attended his funeral today, I thought about how I want to be remembered. I thought about what type of life I want to lead. I thought about faith, family, and fellowship within the kingdom of God.

But above all, I thought about one person's deep and endless love and devotion to God. Those who are not preachers may not know it, but preaching the gospel is really nothing more than a person's public celebration of their relationship with God. Although I was never blessed to personally know Charles Burgess, I feel like I do know him in a very personal way. We share the same goals, dreams, and wishes for here and eternity. He loved God and the church, so do I. He loved his family, so do I. He loved the lost, so do I. He had a passion for preaching, so do I. He prayed Hezekiah's prayer when he first contracted cancer, so did I.

The litmus test for a person's love for God is their life's work. I think it is safe to say that if you simply looked at the life of Charles K. Burgess, the most natural reponse would be, "That man loved the Lord." And after all, when all is said and done, what could be better? Jesus said this is the first and greatest commandment (Matt. 22:37).

This Lord's day morning, I am honored to preach one of the great sermons first preached by Charles Burgess. This is his outline, but the words and ideas belong to our God. I know I can't preach it like Charles could. But I believe he and I share the same passion for the message, and hope for the results.

My favorite point in his outline, is the last one. It is the one I truly want to share from my heart to yours today. It is powerful if you will receive it, and I think that as we honor Brother Burgess, we can see the benefits of its message:

"We have but one life to live; how are we living it?"

"...through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks." ~ Heb. 11:4

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jars of Clay

This week I am a counselor at Short Mountain Bible Camp. I have the new campers, ten-year-old boys. Yes, it has already been a very interesting experience. I am here primarily because this is my oldest son's first time at camp. I have not been back in years. Being here, although work, is a great blessing.

My campers need me. They are lost up here. It is quite overwhelming at times. As I look at these young, innocent boys, I think about how fragile they are and how much potential they have. At this point in their lives they can still fall either way. I recognize the burden upon all of those who will impact their lives in the short term to raise them up to be children of God.

One verse that I have noticed up here on the mountain over and over again is found in Matt. 19:14, Mark 10:14, and Luke 18:16 - "But Jesus called them to Him and said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.'" I recall this being painted on the wall of the orphanage we visited in Ascuncion, Paraguay. Every child is so special to God. Jesus knew how to have a pure and peaceful relationship with children. His kindness to them was natural, and His affection for them was real. I think I have seen a little bit of what Jesus sees, while I have been looking at these children this week. It makes me feel better about myself, both in heart and in mind.

Our kids need us. They need a relationship with us and with God. Let's not forget it. They are clay, waiting to be molded by our hands and by the hands of our Father. Take some time out of your life to make a difference in the life of the child. I think I am beginning to understand, that to do so would be the most Christ-like thing any person could ever do.

"But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." ~ Isaiah 64:8

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father Time

Upon initial glance at the title, one might think they are about to read of the mythical person, elderly and bearded, dressed in a robe, and carrying a scythe and an hourglass. But this article is not referencing the abstract symbol of the constant one way direction in which time is moving. It is however, a reminder of 1. The brevity of life, and 2. The small amount of time we have to make an impact on our children.

One of my favorite illustrations on parenting comes from Silas Shotwell, written in the periodical Homemade, September, 1987: "Charles Francis Adams, the 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one's ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly."

This Father's Day, I am thankful for the great blessing God has afforded me to be able to hear the words, "Dad" and "Daddy" from my three sweet, wonderful children. No minute I have ever spent with them in my lifetime has ever been wasted. Time and experience in family counseling has also taught me that the most important thing that you can give your children is your time. If you couple this with the natural, affectionate love all parents should have for their children, and finish it off with the gift of knowledge concerning their heavenly Father, then you have done everything that God expects a parent to do for a child.

According to Dr. George Rekers, a well known minister and psychologist, "A positive and continuous relationship to one's father has been found to be associated with a good self-concept, higher self- esteem, higher self-confidence in personal and social interaction, higher moral maturity, reduced rates of unwed teen pregnancy, greater internal control and higher career aspirations. Fathers who are affectionate, nurturing and actively involved in child-rearing are more likely to have well- adjusted children."

Beyond all of this. I know why I want to spend time with my kids. Because they not only make me a better person, but they give me more satisfaction than anything I could do alone. Second only to salvation, children are the greatest gift any person can receive.

As a Father, I know how much I love my children. It is one of the simplest truths in my life. I have a heavenly Father who feels the same about me. He wants to spend time with me. He gave His only Son to prove it.

"And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." ~ Eph. 6:4

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Make A Difference

Dear Brethren,

Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May God continually bless you in the good things you do for the church in His name.

As briefly as I can, I want to make you aware of a situation in the church that needs some urgent attention. Last year I preached a gospel meeting at the Marshalltown church of Christ in Marshalltown, Iowa. This is a church I have been associated with for about 12 years. It is a mission point that leans heavily on the aid from churches all over the United States.

One of the deacons, Reggie Holt, from the Pulaski St. congregation in Lawrenceburg, TN accompanied me on the trip last year. He is an electrician for the Lawrenceburg Utility System. As we looked at the building they are about to purchase, we saw that they needed a new heating and air-conditioning unit. They are going to buy the building for a song if we can get the heat and air fixed. When I preached the meeting last June, we met each night in 95-98 degree weather with no cooling system. They have found a way to worship in these conditions for over a year now. How many of our members here would show up if we had to do the same? How could we grow the kingdom in such a situation?

If we can raise $15,000.00 through every contact we have, they will be able to get a new system and also buy the building. It is on the main drag in town, and will make them a viable church in their community. There are over 50 counties in Iowa that no longer have a church of Christ in them. The group in Marshalltown is the most faithful, hard-working, dedicated group of Christians I have met. We need to help them.

We are asking for 150 people to give $100 each. We will take any assistance from any church or individual we can get. When the money is raised we will not ask for a dime over $15,000.00. If you can help in any way in this special effort, we would appreciate it so much. If you have any questions about anything concerning this work I am more than happy to tell you everything I know. I have visited and worked with the church there on many occasions over the last 12 years. Please help!

This is not for us. This is for souls. This is for Christ. This is for our God.

In the love of Christ,

Jeremiah Tatum
Work: 931-432-2333 Cell: 931-629-5585 Fax: 931-432-2338
Email: jeremiahtatum@bellsouth.net
Websites: www.backtothebible.blogspot.com, www.willowcoc.com

Please make your check payable to:

Marshalltown church of Christ
23 ½ South Center St.
Marshalltown, IA 50158

You can memo the check A/C Unit

If you want to send via paypal, you can send it to jeremiahtatum@bellsouth.net and I will deliver the funds (this method was suggested by a friend who pledged some money for this cause).


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Unfinished Symphony

George McDonald writes in his book, Restoring Your Spiritual Passion - "It is said of one of the famous composers that he had a rebellious son who used to come in late at night after his father and mother had gone to bed. And before going to his own room, he would go to his father's piano and slowly, as well as loudly, play a simple scale, all but the final note. Then leaving the scale uncompleted, he would retire to his room. Meanwhile the father, hearing the scale minus the final note, would writhe on his bed, his mind unable to relax because the scale was unresolved. Finally, in consternation, he would stumble down the stairs and hit the previously unstruck note. Only then would his mind surrender to sleep once again."

Our Father in heaven is not only the Father of spirits, and the Father of creation, He is the master composer of the music of our lives. I cannot but think sometimes about how He wants to make our lives beautiful, but be because of our own rebellion, we refuse to allow some of the necessary notes He has written to be played. The parts of His will we leave out disrupt the direction and flow of the music. Before long our lives scarcely resemble anything worthy of admiration. Rather than being a soothing source of comfort to our Father, our lives becomes a source of His frustration. His patience and mercy keep Him from intervening, but because of His nature He eventually will have to make an adjustment.

Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor is commonly known as the "Unfinished Symphony." People have searched for the remaining portions of this musical work for nearly 200 years. It has been debated that some of his other works were actually the completion of the symphony, but no evidence can support this for sure. What can be said without a doubt is simply this - the music is incomplete, and nobody knows why!

Take a look today at the song of your life. Are there notes God has written that you refuse to play? Is there something missing in the music, because you are leaving out the section that will make it complete? The power and beauty of your life is wholly dependent upon the finishing touch. Nobody will complete your song like Jesus. For those who truly love God, the Savior is the last line of the symphony. Christ Jesus is the strength of their song.

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." ~ Isaiah 12:2