Learning from the Ants

By Rebecca Fix

“Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.”
—Proverbs 6:6-8

When I was little, my grandparents had a farm, and my sister and I would go there often and help feed all the animals. I remember one day; I was jumping on ants on the sidewalk. My grandma looked at me mad as ever and explained to me how they were God’s creatures and how they were here for a reason and to never hurt anything God made. She told me to put myself in place of the ant. Would I want to be stepped on if I were small?

I see this passion for all animals in my son. He knows about every bug and wants no harm to come to any of them. We can learn so much from a little creature like the ant.

  • Ants are always moving. They are energetic and work efficiently. I’ve never seen an ant rest—they go right to work and do not stop till the job is finished.
  • Ants are also selfless. If a leaf is too big for one ant to carry, the other ants chip in to help. They are committed to helping their friends succeed.
  • Ants know what needs to be done without being supervised. They know there will come a time when gathering won’t be possible so they store up to prepare for the future.

In today’s society, laziness is becoming more acceptable (perhaps even incentivized), but this passage shows us that being lazy will ultimately lead to devastation. Do we have a self-driven work ethic like ants or do we expect things to always be done for us? Do we set aside money for a time when we might not be able to work or do we receive a paycheck and spend it all immediately. A wise man understands the need for hard work and being frugal just like the ant. Consider the wisdom of God in his creation. Maybe God knew what he was doing when he created the ant—to help us learn because He knew a time would come with laziness would rule the world.

Fixating on What’s Important: A Dad’s Legacy

by Bill Fix

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

As Father’s Day is upon us, I found a 2019 poll that addressed what people said they learned from their fathers. Here’s a sample of the results:

  • 29% – How to cook dinner or grill meat
  • 28% – How to put up a tent
  • 26% – How to tie a necktie
  • 26% – How to hang a picture so it’s level and won’t fall
  • 18% – How to build a fire

I’m not positive, but I believe I learned only one of those skills—tying a full Windsor knot—from my dad. (Much later, I learned the half Windsor and Four-in-Hand knots on my own.) Throughout my childhood, I remember Dad teaching me other useful things like how to change the oil in a car, but if I’d been a participant in the poll mentioned above, the first answer I would have given about what I learned from my father would be Bible history and a respect for God. I can’t tell you who taught me how to throw a baseball or shoot pool, but I certainly learned about burying the old man of sin (Rom. 6), knowing the reason for doing something (1 Pet. 3:15), and Christ’s example of humility (Phil. 2) from my dad.

Aside from direct teaching moments, parents often teach much more through the examples they set. Whether intentional or not, it was through my dad’s example (not necessarily the words he shared) that I learned about the priority of attending services, doing what’s right regardless of what anyone else does, and keeping our commitments.

At the most basic level, the biggest example he set was that he was present. So many people today either don’t know who their fathers are or they seldom, if ever, come around. It’s pretty difficult to teach a child anything, much less fulfill one’s Biblically assigned duties, if fathers are absent or the only lessons they prioritize are about sports and repairs.

Aren’t such spiritual matters and basic character traits the most vital things fathers can teach their children? “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). If more children had been reared in the training and admonition of the Lord, wouldn’t our society be more peaceful and loving?

Fixating on What’s Important: Bible Revisions

by Bill Fix

Although published two years ago, I read an article just a few days ago from The Babylon Bee and was surprised at how believable this satirical piece was. Entitled “New WikiBible Lets Anyone Edit the Scriptures” (published June 7, 2019), this piece seemed so accurate I actually checked online to see if a WikiBible site was live. Surprise—it isn’t. But read this one for yourself:

Utilizing Wikipedia’s tried-and-true method of letting anyone in the world edit its content, so you know it’s reliable, a new WikiBible will let anyone edit the inspired Scriptures.

The online Bible can be edited on the fly by anyone on the planet, with no login required. The creators of the new WikiBible hope that it will encourage people to just edit out verses that offend them or condemn their lifestyle. Verses that don’t fit neatly into your theology can be deleted in a flash.

“Don’t like a verse? Just edit it,” one of the creators of the new Bible, Bob Bell, said in a video announcing the new internet Bible. “Want to inject some values from your modern culture into the text? Have at it. We are no longer restricting by the suffocating, oppressive rigidity of believing what God said. Now we can make Him say what we want Him to say.”

Charismatic believers from around the world are also excited about this, as they can add their personal revelations from God about what they’re supposed to eat for lunch today or their gibberish languages right into the text.

“The Bible is so much better when it’s created by popular consensus, rather than divine inspiration.”

Unfortunately for the exciting new Bible project, at least one person found every verse in the Bible offensive for one reason or another, and the entire copy of God’s Word was deleted within the first few hours of the site’s launch. It’s been replaced with phrases like “You can do it,” “Believe in yourself,” and “The magic was inside you all along.”

While the article above is fictitious, plenty of people today do the exact same thing, whether they admit it or not. Many have determined that the Bible is one or more of the following: an old book of fairy tales; some outdated, misogynistic effort to oppress women and minorities; a book of inspirational messages not to be taken literally, a “love letter” to mankind, or a mere guidebook that we should amend as civilization continues to advance. Thomas Jefferson even famously used a razor and scissors to cut out sections regarding Jesus’ miracles and resurrection to rewrite a Bible that dealt with only philosophy and morals. Denominations edit the Bible by adding creeds and or adopting new policies at conventions. The Catholic belief that the pope is infallible when speaking ex Cathedra on matters of faith and morals and that his pronouncements are binding on all Catholics is just another way of editing the Scriptures.

“If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).

Fixating on What’s Important: Finding Answers

by Bill Fix

black rifle
Photo by Specna Arms on Pexels.com

The news this past week has been dominated by the story of yet another tragic school shooting and various politicians and commentators offering numerous solutions to prevent such disasters from happening in the future. Regardless of whether state, local, and federal governments move to ban or restrict access to certain firearms, provide armed security at all schools, increase and improve mental health programs, or take any other number of actions, how much will really change?

In many ways, our society has been crumbling for decades, and people taking up arms to shoot up a school, church, mall, or movie theater has become the embodiment of our culture’s degradation. When we remove God from everything in public… when people are only interested in serving themselves instead of our Creator or our neighbor… when media glorifies negative news and spotlights the worst in our society… when everyone seeks as much attention as we can get, regardless of whether such attention is positive or negative… this, unfortunately, is the result.

Does American society still uphold traditional values of loving our neighbors; respecting others’ (especially those with whom we disagree) freedoms to enjoy their own life, liberty, and property; or raising our children to be law-abiding, productive citizens?

It’s easy to blame guns, video games, movies, mental health, or the opposing political party for these problems. But solutions directed in these areas don’t address the root problem. Figuring out how to get all citizens to respect everyone and the laws we live under is much more difficult. That’s a problem that government is unlikely to solve because it requires everyone to be on board with a solution. And it requires us all to be unselfish and willing to repent.

While turning peaceful public places into a warzone may be a recent development in the last few decades, widespread evil is not. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Things were so rotten in the days of Noah that God flooded the earth and essentially called a do-over with mankind, beginning anew with Noah and his family. “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done” (Gen. 8:21).

Does Rom. 1:18-32 describe our country today? “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting…”

Plenty of people in this country acknowledge God, but only do so on their own terms. They trust their own human understanding and feelings, instead of God’s wisdom. They aren’t willing to repent of their sins or even concede that certain activities they enjoy could be defined by God as sin. They live in self-assured confidence that because the USA is a “God-fearing country,” He will bless the USA.

Even if this country adopts every preventive measure to address mass shootings, there can be no guarantee the problem will be solved. It only takes one attention-seeking crackpot to go rogue and mess everything up. If all firearms are banned, someone will build a bomb. If someone has never been diagnosed with mental health issues before, how does that person receive treatment and help before it’s too late? We need a return to Biblical values. That begins with parents teaching their children and Christians spreading the gospel to those that need it.

Fixating on What’s Important: Reading

by Bill Fix

A few days ago, I stopped by a bagel shop for breakfast and a change of scenery to finish some work. While there, I observed a group of women meeting for breakfast and a devotional/Bible study. Near the end of their meeting, I couldn’t help but here one lady express to the others how excited she was to be attending their meeting because although her family was religious, she admitted she had never read the Bible before…

I did not interrupt their meeting to inquire further, but I would assume she knows a few things about the Bible and has read several passages before. I assume what she meant is that she never read it cover to cover or perhaps never read substantial portions of it. But now, she was going to do something about that.

Unfortunately, I believe too many people are in the same situation as that lady. For whatever reason, they haven’t ever read the Bible. Maybe they are too busy. Or think it’s too difficult to understand. Or they accept whatever they were taught by a parent, preacher, or friend. After all, how many of us do the same thing with respect to the tax code, the terms & conditions for any sales contract, or the manual for our own vehicles?

Acts 17:11 commends the Bereans for their “fair-mindedness,” as compared to the Thessalonian Jews, because the Bereans “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” These people heard something new and tested it against the Scriptures. They didn’t just take Paul’s word for it, and they didn’t immediately discount it like the Jews from Thessalonica.

Given the amount of conflicting religious doctrines being taught today, a fair-minded person who wants to learn the truth today will read the Bible, study it, meditate on its message, and discern what God’s will for mankind really is. The only way to know the truth is by searching the Scriptures—if we merely do as we see fit without actually reading the Bible, we are directing our own steps and are bound to fail (Jer. 10:23).

How strong can your faith in God really be if you haven’t read His Word?

Why “Liberal” and “Conservative” Churches of Christ?

By Robert Harkrider (Aug. 27, 2017)

During the past three decades many have asked this question. Some sincere brethren who have been caught up in one stream or another never fully understood, and many who were too young before have now grown to adulthood wondering why. It is therefore a good question worthy of repeated investigation.

Labels of “liberal” and “institutional” versus “anti” and “conservative” have been used by some as a prejudicial tool to halt further investigation. Labels used as prejudicial clubs are to be condemned; yet the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are proper when used as adjectives to describe a difference in attitude toward Bible authority, and consequently, a difference in practices. As the years go by, the attitude underlying the division becomes more apparent. We are not separated because one group believes in benevolence and the other does not, nor because of jealousy and envy. We have divided over a basic attitude toward the Bible. A liberal attitude justifies any activity that seems to be a “good work” under the concept, “We do a lot of things for which we have no Bible authority.” A conservative attitude makes a plea to have Bible authority (either generic or specific) for all we do—therefore refraining from involving the church in activities alien to that of the church in the New Testament. Briefly, the walls of innovations which have divided us are built in three areas:

WHO? Who is to do the work of the church? The church? Or a human institution? The church has a God-given work to do, and the Lord made the church sufficient to do its own work. Within the framework of elders and deacons, a local church is the only organization necessary to fulfill its mission of evangelism, edification, and benevolence (Eph. 3:10-11; 4:11-16; 1 Tim. 3:15). However, a wedge was driven when some began to reason that the church may build and maintain a separate institution—a different WHO to do the work of the church. This separate institution is human in origin and control. It is not a church nor governed by the church—yet it receives financial maintenance from the church. Human institutions so arranged (such as benevolent homes, hospitals, colleges, or missionary societies) may be doing a good work. However, when they become leeches on the church, they deny its independence and all-sufficiency and make a “fund-raising house” of God’s church.

HOW? How is the work of the church to be overseen? On a local basis with separate, autonomous congregations? Or may several local churches work as a unit through a sponsoring eldership? The organization of the New Testament church was local in nature, with elders limited to oversight of the work of the flock among them (Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28). We are divided by those who promote “brotherhood works” through a plan of inter-congregational effort with centralized oversight—an unscriptural HOW.

WHAT? What is the mission of the church? Spiritual or also social? It is in this area that the loose attitude toward the Scriptures is becoming more apparent. Though wholesome activities are needed for all, the Lord died for a higher and holier mission than food, fun, and frolic. Let the church be free to spend its energy and resources in spiritual purposes (1 Pet. 2:5; Rom. 14:17) and let the home be busy in providing social needs (1 Cor. 11:22, 34).

How Did the Termite Evolve?

By Fred Melton (Truth Magazine, Mar. 16, 1972)

If you want to see an evolutionist squirm, ask him how the termite evolved. Oh, he will have an answer all right, but you’ll have to try hard to keep a straight face when he explains it to you.

According to current evolutionary theory (it’s changed some since Darwin), “natural selection” progressing toward a higher organism is accomplished only when a chance mutation bestows upon the organism more survival ability—notwithstanding the fact that there is no such thing as a “progressive” mutation.

Now, there are to be found within God’s natural creation many partnerships that are essential to the immediate life of both plant and animal involved in this union. Typical of such interdependent systems is the lowly termite, order—Isoptera. The main problem appears to be the fact that this little creature keeps insisting on eating wood which he himself cannot digest because it contains cellulose. There is, however, a small protozoan animal which colonizes the termite’s stomach that dearly loves to digest wood.

While the Christian is ridiculed for believing in God, who is the designer and prime mover of all causes (including termites and protozoan), the evolutionists, without so much as raising an eyebrow, ask the world to believe that these little insects suffered a mutation which made them want to eat wood they cannot digest. At precisely the same time their bodies, by mutation, became adjusted to enable them to maintain numerous colonies of protozoan in their stomachs while again at that precise time, a mutation chanced to occur in the protozoan which enabled them to live in the stomach of the termite “after which both termite and protozoan lived happily ever after.”

It will not help to say that they evolved together for as typical of all such systems, they will not operate except in a perfected state.

Truly, it may be said that the evolutionist lives by faith alone.

Where Are the Sinners?

by Robert F. Turner (STUFF ABOUT THINGS, 1976)

Has anyone seen a plain, old-fashioned sinner lately? They are getting mighty hard to find.

If the prodigal son were living today (as if he were not), he wouldn’t be a sinner. A juvenile delinquent perhaps, but his parents would be to blame for that. “There are no bad boys,” you know. His wild oats are just youthful exuberance, a normal rebellion against an unjust society. He must be left free to “adjust positively.”

There are no liars today. These fine people are simply extroverts with imaginative talents that should be properly channeled. They evince creative ability; their instability is a facet of their capacity for free uninhibited thought. They may become great poets, lawyers, or preachers.

The drunkard is not really a sinner. He has an inferiority complex and makes a mechanical adjustment (albeit a liquid one) to the problems of today. Besides that, he is sick. He beats his wife, starves his children, and is a scourge to society. So, he needs our sympathetic understanding.

Adultery may be a sin in far-off slums or farm-labor camps, but not among movie stars or popular public figures. And don’t even mention the word when we get close to home. Here it is simply a case of biological maladjustment. The sex pervert was denied “free discussion” at home; his parents were old-fashioned and believed in common decency. His sin—er, I mean his “mistake,” is a fault of our modern society.

But maybe the murderer is a sinner—just maybe! On the other hand, he may be the victim of some early traumatic experience. His mother was over-protective; he was greatly inhibited. He was never allowed to push his oats off the high-chair tray, so now he pushes his wife off the Brooklyn Bridge. Poor fellow!

There may be an element of truth in all these descriptions; but one element, very necessary for correction, is lacking. We are overlooking the moral element. Successful treatment for all of these ills must include a proper dosage of “ought”—moral responsibility, to God and to man. Our generation needs psychiatry, but we must learn that Freud is no substitute for Jesus Christ. We must recognize sin for what it is—viz., sin; and then we will understand better the “Great Physician” who takes away the sins of the world.

Fixating on What’s Important: Change

by Bill Fix

What is our focus in discussing religious matters with others and teaching the gospel? Are we merely trying to get someone to switch a denominational allegiance and be “COC”? Are we focused so much on baptism that we downplay the importance of faith and true repentance? May it not be so.

Becoming a Christian should be like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly. If one is baptized but fails to make a true metamorphosis in belief, character, and action, did he do anything more than just get wet?

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 6: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin… You also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:3-6, 11).

Paul certainly emphasizes the importance of baptism, but equally present here are the elements of faith and repentance. Our faith leads us to make a commitment. True repentance demands we turn from our sins, and we bury our life of sin in a watery grave of baptism as we turn to the Lord. New converts to Christ must understand this change is necessary. How silly would a butterfly look if we saw it fly over to a flower and then change back into a caterpillar. That is how pathetic we appear if, after being converted, we revive our old man of sin and resume walking according to our previous sins…

What Faith Is All About

By Robert F. Turner (Plain Talk, June 1981)

Some years back I received word that a dear friend and brother in the Lord was dying with cancer. I wrote a letter to him, which said in part:

“They say you are going to die—like the rest of us. What have “they” ever known about anything? WE say you are going to live—and we are going to live with you. And we have an empty tomb near Jerusalem that says our hope will become a reality.”

I visited my brother just before his death, and he thanked me for what he called “much needed honesty, in a time like this.” Then he added, “This is when we learn what faith is all about.” I don’t suppose I have yet learned the full meaning of that, but as the years increase, and I see other friends slipping away, it is getting through to me.

The Hebrew writer said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “Substance” is from “sub” plus “stano”—that which stands under, or upholds. That theme is repeated over and over in the chapter: “things seen were not made of things which appear” —or — “Noah, warned of things not yet seen” — or — “Abraham went out, not knowing whether he went” —or — “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off.” Faith moves a man on, when his senses fail him.

We do not refer to self-reliance, or “faith” in oneself. That is but a weak derivative of positive thinking, irrevocably tied to our “this world” existence. Nor do we refer to a faith of despair, a blind “leap of faith” which is no faith at all. Bible faith is based on evidence (Rom. 10:13-17). God’s word has been confirmed by demonstration of its divine source, so that we have reason to believe in the reliability of the message (Mk. 16:17-20; Heb. 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 2:4-5). And our hope of life after death rests upon an empty tomb and reliable witnesses.

The Hebrew writer says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” But faith sees more than a physical beginning in this. Accepting a Creator not only removes the theory of a “chance” beginning, it gives creation a purpose. We are here because an all-wise God had a reason for our existence. Life is not an exercise in futility. In faith we have goals, we accomplish predetermined ends. It is faith that tells us what this life is all about.

We say we “believe”—and surely we do to some extent. That is tested in an elementary way by our willingness to obey initial commands of God. Then, when to further live by divine authority we must part with friends and earthly gain, our faith gets a more severe test. We talk and write about faith, and hope; and we quote words of comfort—to believers, who are bereaved or troubled. But the real test, the “moment of truth,” comes when we are about to turn loose of this life and the ties that have identified and made us what we are. When I am the one who steps into the unknown, and must trust in that which is not seen, I will go in despair, or I will know what faith is all about.