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The Biggest Tombstone In The Cemetery
Death and cemeteries are nothing new for any of us. Through the years our family members, fellow Christians, neighbors and friends have died. The death of a loved one is a very painful experience. Someday, like everyone else, your physical body will die. However, physical death is not our end. When your physical body dies, your spirit does not die. Attending a funeral or a walk the cemetery serves as a vivid reminder that we all will face death because of the curse brought on when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. (Genesis 3) Death is a reality; it is not just an imaginary proposition. Solomon wrote, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12) Death is coming to everyone! A while back Benjamin Faulkenberry and I were standing beside one another in a cemetery. Beside us was a very large tombstone. This must have been the biggest tombstone in the cemetery. However, I do know that having the biggest tombstone in the cemetery does not guarantee a right relationship with God.
Graves and tombstones are nothing new. On the 6th page of the little Bible that I am using this morning we read of death. The first death that is recorded in the Bible was by murder. “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:8) From that day onward there have been graves, grave markers or tombstones of some kind, and cemeteries. Sarah was buried in the cave of Machpelah. (Genesis 23:19) Rachel was buried along the way to Bethlehem. “Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.” (Genesis 35:19-20) In 2 Kings 23:17 you can visit the tomb of the young prophet who was deceived by an old prophet and later killed. The grave was marked well with some inscription. The old prophet had helped to make this grave well known. Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathaea. He wrapped His body in a clean linen cloth, and “laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” (Matthew 27:57-60)
A person might have the biggest tombstone in the cemetery because they were loved deeply. It is a wonderful thing when family members are loved, respected and appreciated. But, please never forget that funerals, fancy cemeteries and tombstones are for the living and not for the dead. Love and honor your family while they live, so they can know and be blessed by your concern. The same principles that John used to encourage the church to love should also encourage the family to love. John wrote, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11) Our love for family members must be shown while they are alive. Providing the biggest tombstone in the cemetery for their grave means nothing to them. It is impossible to go to heaven without loving our brethren. (1 John 3:14-15) This same love must also be shown for your families. Having the biggest tombstone in the cemetery does not guarantee a right relationship with God, nor is it real proof of family love.
A person might have the biggest tombstone in the cemetery because family members feel guilty for having neglected them during their lifetime. Our daily actions with our family are so important, if we are to demonstrate love to them. We must speak loving words to our family. Encouraging and building up our family must be at the forefront of our daily actions and words. Family love is the opposite of, “bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking.” Kindness, forgiveness and being tenderhearted must describe our relationship to our family. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:29-32) Having the biggest tombstone in the cemetery does not guarantee a right relationship with God, nor does it make up for our failure to love our family members.
A person might have the biggest tombstone in the cemetery; but the question does not have to do with the size of the tombstone, but rather the depth of that person’s relationship with God. The fact that we are the bride of Christ means that we must have a deep and an abiding relationship with Him. Christians literally become one with Jesus. (John 17:21-23) This relationship is so intimate that our lives must be lived in the image and likeness of our Lord. The Bible tells us, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8) Our relationship with the Lord demands that we keep our attention focused on God daily. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) If I tell the person I am a Christian that should describe my relationship with God. Those who are not Christians are serving Satan; those who are Christians maintain a strong relationship with the Lord. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) Having the biggest tombstone in the cemetery does not guarantee a right relationship with God.
Having the biggest tombstone in the cemetery has nothing to do with your salvation. You would be much better off to be buried in some unmarked grave somewhere and go to heaven, than to have the biggest tombstone in the cemetery and go to hell. The only answer to the sin problem is the precious blood of Jesus. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) To become a Christian, you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Matthew 16:16), and be baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27) This is the Bible way of salvation. There is no other way to be at peace with God and man. The only ground for forgiveness is Jesus' death! If we have not contacted the blood of Jesus, then we have no salvation.
---- Charles Box
News & Notes
1. Prayer List: Baptist South: Billy Rogers (grandfather of Hunter & Hannah Owens). In Need of Prayer: Bryson Box, Douglas Butts, Terry Claunch, Johnny Cole, Camren Coleman, Lisa Cook, Paul Cotrell, Bonnie Croley, Tim Croley, John Curry, Nell Daughtry, Mary Goodwin, Bill Hammonds, Richard Harrell, Michael Hartin, Devin Hawkins, Austin Herring, James Holmes, Sue Hunt, Charlie Jones, Felice Kendrick, Peggy Lassiter, Josey McCeary, Katherine Myers, Barley Newton, Ruby Norman, Alice Padgett, Rebekah Pierce, Bill Perry, William Pierce, Terry Reaves, Linda Reynolds, Johnny Sims, Evelyn Smith, Andy Taylor, Mary Lou Terrell, Alice Thompson, Leroy Waller, Barbara Woods, and Betty & Wayne Young. Crowne Health Care: Dorothy Buck, Jewel Cauthen, Gladys Childs, Arlene Coletrane, Ruth Davis, Betty Findley, Davis & Ruth Hester, Kathy Johnson, Sarah Knight, and Annie Ruth Tetter. Pine Needle: Lydia Ann Raybon and Elizabeth Perdue.
2. Baptized Into Christ: We rejoice that Jordan Blackmon was baptized into Christ. Jordan is the daughter of Tate Blackmon and granddaughter of Gail Blackmon. Address: 1054 Mt Pisgah Road, Georgiana, AL 36033 – Birthday: April 11th. Please encourage Jordan.
3. Our Lord’s Invitation: Please remember Hannah Owens in your personal, private prayers. Hannah, we love you.
4. Sympathy Expressed: Our love and sympathy is expressed to Alicia Hammonds and her family in the death of her grandfather, Jimmy Culver.
5. Guyana Mission Trip: Charles Box and Bobby Terrell are making a trip to Guyana on May 8th – 22nd. Please pray for their safety and especially pray for Brother Bobby’s health as on this trip. The churches in Guyana need our help, encouragement, and prayers.
6. Anniversary: Celebrating an anniversary this week: May 8th Marty and Alicia Sexton.
7. Birthdays: Celebrating a birthday this week: May 4th Ricky Bagents, May 6th Nelson Daughtry, Christa Stallings, and John Thompson, and May 8th Evelyn Lewis.
8. Wedding Invitation: God has led two lives to take one path. Brittany Renay Olive and Bryan Matthew Brown together with their parents invite you to witness their vows as they begin their joyful journey on Friday, the twentieth of June two thousand and fourteen at six o’clock in the evening, the Grand on Foster 170 North Foster Street in Dothan.
9. Vacation Bible School: Vacation Bible School – Walnut Street Church of Christ – June 22nd – 26th – 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. “Happily Ever After…The Salvation Story” is the theme for this year’s VBS.
10. Backwoods Christian Camp Walk-A-Thon: Eli and Eden Powell will be participating in the annual fund raiser for Backwoods Christian Camp. They will be walking 5 miles (thought they may break up their walk into several trips). If you choose to sponsor them in this effort, please make checks payable to Backwoods Christian Camp and hand them to Darrell.
11. Thank You: Your kindness is special and so are you! Thank you for all the calls, cards and visits. Most of all thank you for your thoughts and prayers. My family and I appreciate every one!! Austin Herring
12. Muscle and a Shovel: If you would like a copy of the Muscle and a Shovel, we have more. The price per a copy will be $12.86. See Deborah Stallings to purchase one. You can pay cash or write a check to the Walnut Street Church of Christ and please denote at the bottom for book! Evangelize by giving one to a friend.
13. Getting to Know Our City: Here is some demographic information on Greenville: Population 8,135, Male 3,671, Female 4,464, Median age (years) 35.3, Median age (male) 32.1, Median age (female) 38.3, White 3,390, Black 4,511, Indian 4, Asian 147, Hawaiian 4, Hispanic 102, Total Households 3,332, Average family size 3.06, and Housing units 3,698.
Youth Ministry May 2014
For those of you who wish to keep up with the activities that are available to our youth, here is a rundown of what the May youth calendar holds.
May 1st is our weekly Thursday night teen activity. This is bring a friend night, so invite a guest and plan to be at the church building from 6-8 P.M.
May 3rd is the first Saturday of the month and youth of all ages are encouraged to come to Crowne Health for our nursing home class at 10 A.M.
May 4th is our usual teen fellowship after evening services. We’ll go out for supper or some kind of snack together.
May 11th is the area wide youth devotional at Faulkner University. The van will leave the building at 3:45 and we hope to arrive home by 8:30.
May 15th will be the guys’/girls’ divided devo. We’ll all meet at the building at 6 P.M., then divide up for the evening’s activities.
May 22nd will be our occasional “Fun Thursday” for the teenagers. Meet at the building at 4 P.M. We will go to Montgomery for supper and a fun outing (TBA), and plan to arrive home by 9 P.M.
There will not be a teen devotional this month because the Powells will be out of town the 25th-31st, but we ARE trying to find hosts for future teen devos. If you are willing to host at your home or at the church building, please see Darrell.
June 1st after evening services we will honor our graduating seniors. The class of 2014 includes Alaina Bagents and Hunter Owens. Please plan to stay for this time of fellowship. And, if you’re able, please bring finger foods.
Our goal is to facilitate enough spiritually focused activities that everyone can participate in something. Let's teach our youth to choose godly things over worldly things and all go to heaven together!