Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 17, 1960
NUMBER 44, PAGE 12-13

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Crumbling Standards

Some years ago, probably with the birth and growth of modern rationalism, there arose an attitude dedicated to the "debunking" of most of the mores of human conduct. Patriotism; honesty; chastity; honest toil; thrift; personal responsibility for aged parents and other destitute relatives; the belief in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures basic to a recognition of their absolute authority over human conduct; belief in God; belief in the deity of Jesus of Nazareth, his virgin birth, his resurrection from the dead, and his consequent ascension and glorification at God's right hand; along with other standards of human conduct which have been sacred through many weary centuries of time have become the targets of the dedicated "debunkers." The fruit of their efforts is seen on every hand. The standards which have stood the test of the centuries have crumbled and fallen in ruins leaving a great portion of the world dedicated to sensuality, to greed, and to violence. The moral decadence of our country may be read in the cold statistics of juvenile delinquency; divorce; crime; alcoholism; socialism; pornographic literature, movies, and television; nudity and semi-nudity of respectable society; greed and theft in highest governmental circles etc., etc., etc.

Even in the church of the living God we may find this spirit at work. Social drinking, dancing, mixed bathing, semi-nudity (shorts and other play clothes), gambling (football and baseball pools, betting on golf, buying and selling chances on various articles of value, bingo) are not only practiced by many but defended as proper. From time to time, we shall be dealing with such practices, as far as Christians are concerned, in the Gospel Visitor. We are neither prudes nor extremists relative to Christian living, but we believe that there are certain high, ethical principles to which every Christian must subscribe and by which every child of God must order his life. These principles are timeless; they are as eternal as God himself. They are never outmoded and defy "debunking." There follows a short article by some unknown writer on the subject of "gambling" which we believe to be timely. We copied it from one of the many bulletins which come to our desk.

Why Gambling Is Wrong

Life Magazine says the United States is the "gamblingest nation that ever existed." Fifty million adults and many more minors are betting thirty billion dollars a year. The annual profit to the bookmakers and others on the receiving end is six billion, more than the combined profits of U. S. Steel, General Motors and 97 other of the largest manufacturing firms.

Many say they see no harm in gambling as it is only taking a chance. They say the farmer takes his chance in planting a crop and the motorist takes his chance driving down the highway. Gambling is not just taking a chance; it is the taking of a chance at the expense of another. There are three legitimate means of transferring money. These are: (1) The law of labor (physical or mental) where a person actually earns the money he receives by time and energy expended. (2) The law of exchange, in which a commodity is exchanged for its value in money (or goods J.W.A.). (3) The law of love, in which something is given without any desire or expectation of any return.

Gambling comes under none of these laws. It is the very opposite of the law of love, being based on the idea of getting something for nothing. It is common knowledge that the slot machines are set so that you cannot win. Gambling is wrong because it denies the integrity of work (Ephesians 4:28: "Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.") It takes food from the mouths of gamblers' children and denies them clothes and shelter. Gambling is stealing in the same sense that dueling is murder! The dueler takes another's life by his consent.

A recent Fortune poll showed 55.3% of the people declared themselves in favor of lotteries for churches and other charities. A Gallup poll found that 54% of the people favor legal lottery to defray the expense of our national defense effort. (The old doctrine of the "end justifies the means." J.W.A.)

There are many members of the church who may be found matching pennies or nickels (flipping for a "coke" or a "beer"), placing small bets, buying chances, punching boards or entering the office football pot. Shame on us! We condemn gambling on a large scale but plant and water it in our own back-yards! (Copied from the Westvue Messenger, Westvue Church of Christ, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Nov. 17, 1959.)

In New Testament times, men "took knowledge" of the disciples of the Lord "that they had been with Jesus." Do your fellows see Jesus in you?" Let us be careful to do as Paul urged: "Let every man prove his own work, and then shall have rejoicing in himself and not in another" and "Abstain from every appearance of evil." (J.W.A.)

Chasing Shadows

Have you ever seen a small but ambitious dog chasing madly and barking wildly at the shadow of a bird flying high above the yard in which the little animal makes his home. The sight is ludicrous and provokes a smile, yet many of us who smile at such antics are in realms infinitely more important guilty of the same. So much of life is spent by us in chasing shadows. A wrong perspective and a false sense of values cause us to spend priceless hours of life's short day in the pursuit of that which is but a shadow of life's real meaning.

A shadow often looms large, indeed, if seen in a certain light. In fact, shadows often are larger than substances which cast them. Many are deceived by the apparent greatness of the shadow and spend their time in chasing it rather than the substance.

Often, in the work of the church, Christians spend their time in chasing shadows. Much of our time, effort, and money is spent in the pursuit of that which looms large only in the light of the adulation, adoration, and admiration of the world. That which will impress the world rather than that which will honor God and save the souls of men often is the object of our pursuit.

Edgar A. Guest recognizes this ever-present human tendency in a charming little poem called:


We can be great by helping one another

We can be loved for very simple deeds:

Who has the grateful mention of a brother

Has really all the honor that he needs.

We can be famous for our works of kindness —

Fame is not born alone of strength or skill;

It sometimes comes from deafness and from blindness

To petty words and faults, and loving still.

We can be rich in gentle smiles and sunny:

A jeweled soul exceeds a royal crown.

The richest men sometimes have little money, And Croesus oft's the poorest man in town.

— Edgar A. Guest.

Let us look to the substance rather than the shadow. Once really seen, it may not be worth our effort. On the other hand, no real acquisition was ever accomplished by the pursuit of the shadow of that desired. Jesus warned: "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Evidently, men of his day too were chasing shadows. (J.W.A.)

My Words To You

I would speak helpful words today To you along my busy Way:

Brief words to reach your passing ear, Choice words to show a friend is near,

Wise words to linger for a while, Amusing words to help you smile,

Strong forceful words to make you blink, Inquiring words so you will think,

Kind words to ease your aching heart, Brave words to help you do your part,

Bright words of cheer to make hearts light, Assuring words so fears take flight,

Some warning words to guide your feet, Warm friendly words for those you meet,

Quite humble words to make you wise, Inspiring words to raise your eyes;

To help me speak these words today, I pause along my way to pray.

— Leslie E. Dunkin, Nuggets.

In The Wrong House

When We Hear Some Of The Preaching That Is Being Done In The Church Of The Lord These Days And Observe Some Of The Practices Of Professed New Testament Christian And People Who Have For Over A Hundred Years Been Pleading For A Restoration Of Apostolic Christianity, We Are Reminded Of A Story We Read Recently. It Seems That A Middle-Aged Man Left Home For A Children's Party At The Home Of A Friend. On Arriving He Said To The Person Who Let Him In, "Don't Announce Me. I'll Just Surprise Them." Leaving His Coat And Hat In The Hall, He Opened The Door To The Living- Room And Listened For A Moment To The Buzz Of Conversation That Came To His Ears Through The Small Opening. Then, Without Looking Into The Room First, He Dropped Upon His Hands And Knees And Entered Neighing Like A Horse And Stamping His Hands And Feet. Suddenly There Was A Dead Silence. The Middle-Aged Man Looked Up And Found A Half-Dozen Adults Staring At Him With Amazement And Alarm. He Was In The Wrong House.

If some of the worthy laborers in the kingdom of God of a generation or so ago should be permitted to come back from the realm of departed spirits and should wander into some of the meeting houses of modern churches of Christ, we wonder if they too might not feel that they were in "the wrong house." It is amazing how easy it has been for many to find a means of justifying in religious practice what was so roundly condemned only a few years past.


High School Marriages

One of the manias of modern society is the craze to have too much too soon. The old virtue of waiting and working to obtain is exactly what we called it "an old (obsolete) virtue." Precocious youth wants a hot-rod when it ought to be pedaling a "bike," a boy friend when it ought to be playing with dolls.

Young married people want a $30,000.00 ranch-style home in an elite suburb when they should be living in a frame cottage on Thrift Avenue.

High school boys and girls rush into the sacred institution of marriage and assume the responsibilities of household bills and children when they should be solving algebra problems and attending football games. There is a time for everything that is right and proper, but nothing is made better by rushing into it before time. The divorce courts bear mute testimony to this truth with reference to marriage. Someone has well said, "How can the teenager who isn't ready to make a success of high school think he is ready to make a success of marriage."

Marriage is divinely ordained for man's good. It is hedged about divine laws. It should not be entered in-advisedly or hurriedly, but in the fear of God. Christian young people should realize that marriage is "until death do us part." Divorce is not a part of the Christian's thinking- "what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" is the principle by which he lives. A relationship so sacred and permanent deserves mature consideration. It was never designed to satisfy the whims and unrestrained desires of precocious infants. (J.W.A.)