Sharing with Steve
My favorite Christian magazine has been Discipleship Journal. It ceased publication several years ago, but I have retained most of the issues that I received. Often on the last page they would have an article simply entitled, Classics. These were words written by men of old that were deemed encouraging and profitable for growing in Christ. I would like to share one of those articles with you. This is from the March/April 2000 issue. The author is Ambrose of Milan. He lived from 340 AD until 397 AD. He was the bishop of Milan, Italy, and was a wise and learned teacher known throughout the Roman Empire for his elegant writings and persuasive preaching. The article is fairly long, but worthy of your reading. Here goes:
Guard Your Mouth, Guard Your Heart
The wise know when to speak and when to keep silent.
Now what ought we to learn before everything else, but to be silent, that we may be able to speak? Otherwise, our voice might condemn us before the voice of another can acquit us, for it is written: “By your words you will be condemned” (Mt. 12:37). Why, then, should we hasten to undergo the danger of condemnation by speaking, when we can be safer by keeping silent?
How many people have I seen fall into sin by speaking, yet scarcely anyone have I ever seen sin by keeping silent! And so it is more difficult to know how to keep silent than how to speak. I know that most persons speak because they do not know how to keep silent. In fact, it is seldom that anyone is silent even when speaking profits him nothing.
He is wise, then, who knows how to keep silent. Therefore the saints of the Lord loved to keep silence, because they knew that a man’s voice is often the utterance of sin, and a man’s speech is the beginning of human error. David, the saint of the Lord, said: “I will take heed to my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue” (Ps. 39:1).
We are chastised by the silent reproaches of our thoughts and by the judgment of our conscience. In a similar way, we are chastised by the lash of our own voice, when we say things by which our soul is mortally injured, and our mind is sorely wounded. But who is there who has his heart so clean from the impurities of sin that he does not offend in his tongue? And so, as David saw there was no one who could keep his mouth free from evil speaking, he laid upon himself a law to maintain innocence by a rule of silence, with a view to avoiding by silence those faults which he could only with difficulty escape in speaking.
Hearing the Lord
Let us harken, then, to the master of precaution: “I said, ‘I will take heed to my ways.’” One can take heed if one is not hasty in speaking. The law says: “Hear, O Israel” (Dt. 6:4). It does not say “speak” but “hear.”
The first word from God says to you: Hear! If you hear, you will take heed to your ways; and if you have fallen, quickly amend your ways. For “how does a young man amend his way, except in taking heed to the word of the Lord?” (Ps. 119:9). Be silent, therefore, first of all, and listen to God, so that you will not fail to speak rightly.
What then? Are we to be always mute? Certainly not. For “there is a time to keep silence and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7). If, then, we will have to give an account for every idle word (see Mt. 12:36), let us take care that we will not have to give an account also for an idle silence. David, therefore, did not enjoin on himself total silence but rather watchfulness.
Bind up your words so that they do not run riot, and grow wanton, and gather up sins for themselves through too much talking. Rather let them be confined and held back within their own banks. An overflowing river quickly gathers mud. Sobriety of mind has its reins by which it is directed and guided.
Let there be a door to your mouth, so that it may be shut when need arises; and let it be carefully barred, so that no one my rouse your voice to anger, provoking you to pay back abuse with abuse. You have heard: “Be angry and do not sin” (Ps. 4:4). Therefore, although we may be angry (this arises from the motions of our nature, not from our will), let us not utter with our mouth one evil word, lest we fall into sin; but let there be a yoke and a balance to our words–that is, humility and moderation, so that our tongue may be subject to our mind.
Let the tongue be held in check with a tight rein; let it have its own means of restraint, by which it can be recalled to moderation. Let it utter words tried by the scales of justice, so that there may be seriousness in our meaning, weight in our speech, and due measure in our words.
Guarding Your Heart
Let us guard our hearts, even as we guard our mouths. Both have been written about in Scripture. As we have noted, we are bidden to take heed to our mouth; in another place we are told: “Keep your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23).
A pure inner life is a valuable possession. Hedge in, then, this possession of yours, in-close it with thought, guard it with thorns–that is, with pious care–lest the fierce passions of the flesh should rush upon it and lead it captive, lest strong emotions should assault it and, overstepping their bounds, carry off its fruit. Guard your inner life. Do not neglect or disregard it as though it were without worth, for it is a valuable possession; truly valuable indeed, for its fruit is not perishable and only for a time, but is lasting and of use for eternal salvation. Cultivate, therefore, this possession–your heart–as the ground you carefully tend.
Sisters-in-Service annual garage sale.
August 23,24,25 at Bright’s house, 2136 Oklahoma Ave. R.H. All proceeds go to support the agenda of Sisters-in-Service. Gather all donates and begin bringing them to Bright’s the week of the sale. For more info, see Lynn Ross or Elaine Bright.
We are continuing our sermons based on the book, Believe. We will be concluding the section of acting like Christ and starting the section on being like Christ. Here are the sermons, dates, and key ideas:
Sunday, August 5 – Chapter 19 – Giving My Resources
Key Idea – I give my resources to fulfill God’s purposes
Sunday, August 12 – Chapter 20 – Sharing My Faith
Key Idea – I share my faith with others to fulfill God’s purposes
Sunday, August 19 – Chapter 21 – Love
Key Idea – I am committed to loving God and loving others
Sunday, August 26 – Chapter 22 – Joy
Key Idea – Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life
Our mowing teams have been doing a great job this year. According to the schedule we are on the downside of the lawn mowing. Here is the schedule:
The week of August 5 – The Blue Team
The week of August 12 – The Green Team
The week of August 19 – The Red Team
The week of August 26 – The Orange Team
Missions Ministry: Focus on New Churches of Christ Evangelism (NCCE)
New Churches of Christ Evangelism: Building God’s Kingdom One Church At A Time
NCCE seeks to plant healthy, reproducing churches throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond. In fact, over the past 50 years dozens of churches have been planted by this ministry, which works as an extension of Churches of Christ/Christian Churches in the Great Lakes area.
NCCE is committed to being proactive, urgently seeking to plant new Restoration churches throughout the Great Lakes region. Even so, they remain focused, not on the number of churches planted, but on the souls won for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Quality does matter and it is their goal to plant enduring churches faithful to the word of God fulfilling both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
In 2015 a goal of launching eight churches in eight years was established. As of 2018, NCCE is on track to reach this goal. Following are some updates from the most recent newsletter we received from Executive Director Matt Schantz:
- “The Lakes Church” in Fruitport, MI was launched in October 2017, and is really growing. The services are excellent, there is a good spirit of joy in the body, lots of volunteers, creative and inspiring messages.
- We are supporting a new church launch in Saginaw, reinvesting proceeds from a church in that area which closed a few years ago. More news to come on this launch.
- We are also assisting with a church launch in Ubly, MI, partnering with the Novesta Christian Church. Ubly is a small community, with an excellent core group meeting weekly.
Please pray for the ministry of NCCE, as they continue to seek the next communities for church planting, and church planters to partner with them in this vital effort to reach the lost for Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah Cox – August 4
Steve & Phyllis Martin (Ann.) – August 5
Mike & Cindy Gerstenlauer (Ann.) – August 6
Don & Ruth Edwards (Ann.) – August 10
Lynn Ross – August 13
Elaine Bright – August 14
Phyllis Martin – August 14
June Thomas – August 19
Brad & Mary Koster (Ann.) – August 24
Ron Lindhagen – August 24
Ron Murphy – August 30
Bonnie Iseman – August 30