The Sword and The Trowel
They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one
with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the
builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded (Nehemiah 4:17-18)
Volume 2, Number 3 March, 2010
Things I Have Learned view, the church is perfect with nothing your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). I have
missing; everything is just as it should also noticed that an infant in the family
I obeyed the gospel at the conclusion be. Notwithstanding, I have learned will be sick on the Lord’s Day and re-
of the morning service, January 11, that the greatest problems in the church quire nearly every member of the fam-
1981. That evening I was asked to are usually among those who are mem- ily to render care. However, on any
lead the singing. I continued to lead the bers of it. These problems are caused other day the infant may be sick and
singing and teach every other Wednes- by many things; differences of opinion, such overwhelming care will not be
day Bible Study. The only time I did lack of understanding, ignorance, bad necessary. I have also learned that a
not lead the singing was when I was attitudes, meanness, pettiness, anger, can of peas dropped on the foot on Sat-
preaching. I started preaching in March and lack of consideration, just to name urday hurts more than if it were
of 1981 (prior to this I had preached a few. Until these are removed on the dropped on some day farther removed
some while in the Christian Church). part of the humans in the church, the from the Lord’s Day. Being stoned
For a while I only preached once a problems will only continue. and/or beaten by a mob is nothing com-
month. However, a new work was I have learned that an overwhelming pared to a dropped can of peas (Acts
started in our hometown and Martha number of brethren want someone else 7:58-60; 14:19; et al).
and I became part of it. After July of to do what they are supposed to do I have learned that a good number of
1982 I have been preaching regularly themselves and desire the few that will brethren have no confidence in the
with the exception of a period of two to bear the entire burden of responsibil- Lord's plan for settling personal dis-
months due to a serious health problem ity. They desire someone else to invite agreements (Matt. 18:15-17). This di-
in 1985. Add to this the many Bible someone or to visit someone. The fin- vine plan is oftentimes jettisoned in
Classes and I have had a good number ger of guilt is pointed at everyone else, favor of a telephone generated griping
of opportunities not only to help others but is seldom turned toward its owner. campaign with much lobbying to build
learn, but also to learn a good many Personal responsibility cannot be an opposition. Apparently discussing
things myself. I thank God for what- passed off like a basketball! Even Ju- your problem with everyone else except
ever good I have been able to accom- das recognized his part in what had the one who involved is a better way
plish. I appreciate my experiences. I transpired (Matt. 27:4). Churches that than the Lord devised. Such is blatant
am loathe to bring railing accusations are filled with people who expect some- carnality.
no matter what has happened in the one else to do it get nowhere. "For I have learned that there are a few
past. I do believe I have reached the every man shall bear his own bur- brethren who do not want any kind of
place where I am able offer some re- den" (Gal. 6:5). peace in the church. As a matter of
flections on some of the things I have I have learned that some brethren fact, these same brethren will not be
learned in my limited experience of will quit attending only to later blame happy with peace and will generally try
being before the brethren. the church as though it forced them to to keep some fuss going or start a new
I have learned that God so loved quit when in reality they freely chose to one. Troublemakers seemingly remain
man that He gave His Son and His Son do so. I have also learned that these consistent in making trouble wherever
gave His life so that man could be backslidden brethren will seize every they go. In case after case, it is only a
saved from his sins and live eternally opportunity to lay railing accusations matter of time until once again they are
with God and His Son (Jn. 3:16). against the church. Those who visit embroiled in trouble and found to be at
I have learned that those who are such members must be careful that they the center of it. Those who have a no-
saved are added to the church that the are not seduced into chiming in with torious reputation for such antics and
Son built (Acts 2:47; Matt. 16:18, and their own grievances (Gal. 6:1). will not turn from them are to be re-
that in the church God is glorified (Eph. I have learned that a few brethren jected until they repent (Titus 3:10-11).
3:12). will sometimes miss for excuses that I have learned that nearly all breth-
I have learned that God has provided are inconsistent with their normal ac- ren understand that there is no authority
man with every instruction needed to tion. A couple of inches of snow can to tithe. I have also learned that there is
inform him how to conduct himself as a apparently paralyze brethren and cause a substantial number of brethren who
child of God and as a member of the them to miss services, but a foot of have not learned what it means to give
church (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3; 1 snow cannot keep them from work! as they have been prospered (1 Cor.
Tim. 3:15). From the divine point of "For where your treasure is, there will 16:1-2).
I have sadly learned that some breth- ported, but the Lord still commands terminated for their choice of clothing
ren do not take the time to teach their repentance (Lk. 13:3; Acts 8:22). or personal grooming habits. Some
own children at home nor set a good I have learned that quite a few breth- have been discharged for chewing gum!
example of conduct at home for them. ren actually do believe that godly sor- Preachers have been dismissed for “not
These same parents later send out a roar row is repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). being friendly enough” or “not showing
of outrage at the church when their chil- I have learned that some brethren enough love”; both of which are com-
dren never obey the gospel or become have decided that certain Gospel Meet- pletely arbitrary judgments.
involved in sin. Some parents seem- ing preachers and/or certain papers are I have learned that sometimes breth-
ingly are unable to learn that they are to standards of truth (Jn. 17:17). ren do not like to hear about the things
be involved in the upbringing of their I have learned that there are double they are involved in (Gal. 4:16).
offspring (Eph. 6:4). standards among brethren. The breth- I have learned that there is no substi-
I have learned that a majority of ren and their family members are al- tute for studying the Bible for myself.
brethren expect the preacher and/or lowed to do things, but the preacher and One needs to make sure that what he is
elders to force others to meet responsi- his family are not allowed to do the hearing is according to what is in the
bilities. "If he was any kind of same. I have also learned that some word (Acts 17:11). I cannot pass this
preacher/elder, he would make them do preachers practice the double standard responsibility along to another. I appre-
it." How this forced submission is to be in reverse by insisting that they are due ciate the many who have and who are
accomplished is anyone's guess. The certain considerations that brethren are helping me to learn more of the
complainers do not know and the Bible not. There is no clergy-laity distinction “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph.
is silent as to how to make anyone do of any kind in the New Testament! In 3:8). I have learned that there is noth-
anything they do not wish to do. addition, I have learned that some ing to fear in investigating everything
Forced submission is actually no sub- preachers practice this double standard and anything related to the Scriptures.
mission at all. The church (members) among themselves. Did I mention that Truly “iron sharpens iron” (Prov.
are to be willingly subject to Christ some preachers will, if given an oppor- 27:17). We are made better when we
(Eph. 5:24). tunity, take advantage of almost every- are challenged to study more. Who can
I have learned that some brethren are one they encounter? Some preachers deny it.
convinced that always being in the mi- think more highly of themselves than I have learned that I have not
nority means that a person is always they should. No one is supposed to do learned nor seen everything yet. The
right. Such is romanticism turned into that (Rom. 12:3). Bible is a treasure that always has more
fantasy. Speaking of this same princi- I have learned that brethren will in it to discover and learn. There is also
ple, Roy Cogdill once said of a certain sometimes hide information about some much to learn from experiencing suc-
man, "A preacher can be in trouble problem or illness and then complain cesses and failures with the brethren.
once in a while and be right, but he when nothing is said or no action is I have learned that if we do not learn
cannot be in trouble all of the time and taken (2 Cor. 8:21). It seems that once from the past we will more than likely
always be right." There is much wis- one becomes a preacher or an elder he repeat our failures.
dom to consider in brother Cogdill's is suddenly given the gift of being able I have learned that it is a pleasure to
words. to read minds - - even at a great dis- work with elders who are truly shep-
I have learned that few male breth- tance. I cannot speak for all preachers herds of the flock and concerned first
ren set goals to one day attain the office and elders, but I am still waiting for my and foremost with the best for the
of an elder. The desire should be early power in this area to engage as it would brethren in their charge ((1 Peter 5:30).
and often so the brother can serve in a certainly be very handy in such circum- I have learned that there is a goodly
profitable way (1 Tim. 3:1). stances. number of brethren who are not caught
I have learned that a number of I have learned that some brethren do up in the things previously mentioned
brethren are more interested in the not appreciate the work of a preacher. in this article. They are interested in
physical qualifications of elders than in They are aware of what is said in 2 serving the Lord and “making their
the spiritual ones. There is more con- Timothy 4:1-5, but fail to comprehend calling and election sure” (2 Peter
cern over the number of faithful chil- it. The work of the preacher is errone- 1:10). I appreciate them immensely
dren he has than over his being apt to ously believed by some to be similar to and hope and pray that their tribe will
teach (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim. 3:2). Some- a CEO of some company. In some in- increase.
times brethren set different standards stances he is expected to be a social
for elders than those standards set by activities director for teenagers. Add to
the Lord. this that some hold him as the only one
I have learned that some elders are responsible when it comes to visiting
highly skilled and ready shepherds of the physically ill and spiritually weak
the building and the treasury, but woe- members. While he may have some
fully lacking when it comes to shep- responsibility in some of these areas he A monthly publication for the
herding the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter does not have more responsibility than Church of Christ in Tuckerman.
5:2-3). any other member does. The editor is Terry Sanders.
I have learned a minority of brethren I have learned that preachers are Unless otherwise noted, all
will come forward in response to the seldom fired for anything doctrinal. articles are written by the editor.
invitation not to exhibit repentance, but Preachers will be fired for length of
to report sin. Sin may need to be re- sermon, but not content. They will be