GriefShare Begins Tuesday Night

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STARTS TUESDAY, August 25th at 6:00 at Forsythe Church of Christ.

The basic fact of life is that every life must come to an end. No matter what efforts we make to extend our days, we have to admit that our lives are temporary. Remember the familiar verse in James?

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  ~James 4:14

That’s why we have GriefShare. People we love and that mean so much to us are now gone. Left behind in their place are empty chairs at the table. We’d like to tell them about our day, but they are no longer able to sit down with us and listen. The experience of grief can settle in and we can find it difficult to take steps forward.

GriefShare is a 13 week support group that is led by people who know what the pain of grief is like. We watch a DVD presentation that helps us identify the characteristics of grief, how our faith interacts with grief, and how God can help us move forward.

GriefShare doesn’t solve the problem of grief. If we truly loved someone, we will always miss their presence in our lives. But the days do not have to be as painful as they are now. Here’s a segment from GriefShare. More information below.

Christina’s Story from Church Initiative on Vimeo.

If you or someone you know is suffering from grief, please share with them this information today. Encourage them to participate in this free course that offers so much consolation and information. There is a workbook that costs $15.00, and it will assist you in walking through the daily exercises of grief recovery.

Gary and Chryste Whisenhunt and Carol Ogle are my partners in leading this class. Each has helped grieving people through support groups for many years. You’ll be blessed by their presence and sweet spirit.

GriefShare begins Tuesday, August 25th at 6:00 pm. We meet at Forsythe Church of Christ for 13 weeks. You can register at our church website HERE or just show up. We look forward to this season of GriefShare because in our experience this program helps move people ahead in beautiful ways.

For more information and resources, visit GRIEFSHARE.ORG.

JD

A Historic Day

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A Historic Day

The first worship service of the Forsythe Church of Christ was July 17, 1966. Three men served as the first elders of the congregation: Simon Johnson, Otis Johnson, and Max Riley. Although they are deceased, their influence lives on in the lives of our charter members and those who knew them.

Over the years there have been a total of fifteen men who would be named as elders of the Forsythe church. In addition to the three already mentioned, Frank Arrant, Tommy Barker, Rudy Burns, Finis Fisher, Jack Howard, Richard Myers, James Potts, Jim Williams, White Graves, Mike Riley, Micah Harper, and Ronnie Teague have served as Shepherds of this congregation. The last four names in that list are our current elders.

When I think about the fifteen men who have guided our church over the past forty-nine years I realize that this is a historic day. The addition of three elders is a significant movement, and one that I believe we can credit to God. I urge each of you to pray often for our seven elders, their wives and their families. The manner in which they have agreed to serve will at times be difficult and demanding. The responsibility to help us move deeper into the mission of God in Ouachita Parish may challenge us to greater commitment. Let us do all we can to make their service a joy because while it is true that they are serving us, they are mostly serving God. Sol Graves, Kevin Smith, and Paul Benjamin are being ordained as elders of our church today with the unanimous support of the Forsythe church of Christ.

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I pray that as we look back on this day in years to come that we see this as the kind of visionary time when the first three men agreed to serve as Shepherds, fueling nearly fifty years of ministry in this place.

God be near, we depend on You.                        

John Dobbs

Kingdom Shepherds

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Kingdom Shepherds

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For the past few weeks we have been praying about and considering today’s addition of three elders to the leadership of our church. This is a significant milestone for our church and it is a special time for us all. When we talk about “elders” we might all have a little different idea about the work of Shepherding in our church. 

Today I want to briefly look at six key New Testament words that describe this immensely important work. By nature word studies can seem tedious. These six Greek words have given us in English the words pastor, shepherd, bishop, overseer, elder, and presbyter – all emphasizing aspects of the service of one group of men. We are going to be brief in our look at these words, but we ask that they inform us as to the roles these men will fulfill.

1. Poimen – Pastor, Shepherd

It is used in the NT of literal shepherds with sheep. It also describes the idea of leadership in passages. It also is applied to Jesus, our “Chief Shepherd”. It is used in verb form to mean to ‘feed, tend, rule’. As it relates to elders:

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…

Acts 20:28 [AMP] Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd (tend and feed and guide) the church of the Lord ….

1 Peter 5:2 [AMP] Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility]…

2. Presbuteros – Older; Council

Has some OT connection to the elders of the city, the rulers, council which governed the city. Several instances in the NT:

Acts 14:23 … they had appointed elders for them in each church…

1 Timothy 5:1 [KJV] Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father. (Most modern translations have ‘older man’.)

1 Timothy 5:17, 19  Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching … Never admit any charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Titus 1:5 …appoint elders in every town…

“…Points to leadership by men of seniority, prominence, experience, and wisdom … A specific age for such a person is not given; and age alone does not qualify one.” – Jack P. Lewis

3. Episkopos – Overseer, Bishop, Superintendent

Jesus is called the ‘overseers of our souls” in 1 Peter 2:25. Four times this word is used to describe the work of an elder.

Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers…

1 Timothy 3:1  [AMP] If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).

4. Tous hegoumenous humon – Rule Over You

This unusual description is only found in Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24.

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. … Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you. … Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings.

This is not the kind of ruling that is unjust, uncaring, or unyielding. It is, though, an authoritative word. If the elders are to do their work well, they must oversee us and rule our church well.

5. Proistanai – Rules Well

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching…

Romans 12:8 …the leader, in diligence…. [Ruler, KJV]

1 Thess 5:12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you…

6. Oikonomos – A Steward

Titus 1:7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless…

Often overlooked, but an important concept. A steward is someone who manages something for someone else. The elders are not gods, they are managing the church for God. The elders are not autonomous, nor legislators, but they are accountable to God and under God.

An elder is a shepherd, older, overseer, rules well, a steward.

“One must be impressed with how the terms used for elders are two-edge swords. They are humbling so that the possessor has no ground for boasting; yet they are exalting, demanding recognition on the part of those led.” – Jack P. Lewis

Each of these NT words gives us a picture of the kind of man God desires to serve as elders in the church. Elders are men who are shepherding the flock, exercising their wisdom and faith, keeping the church on track with God’s Word, serving and loving the church, and all with a view that the church belongs to God.

Today as we ordain three men to serve in this capacity, I believe we have found three such men.

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Ordination

Paul Benjamin         Sol Graves        Kevin Smith

God has spoken graciously through his church calling you to tend his sheep. You are being asked to assume the responsibilities of shepherd, overseer, and elder.

Will you serve Jesus Christ as your Lord?

Will you teach and model the gospel of Christ?

Will you ensure the healthy teaching that strengthens us?

Will you guide us patiently and prayerfully?

Will you lean on the Spirit of God as you equip the church for acts of faithfulness?

Will you mentor and shepherd the other leaders God gives to the church?

Will you lead us rather than appease us, resolving to keep us focused on God’s purposes?

Will you pray for us when we are sick, minister to us when we are hurting, and rejoice with us when we are blessed?

Will you work in harmony with your fellow shepherds and with the church?

Will you be great among us by serving as Christ did?

Elders’ Response: “With God’s help we will.”

A Pledge of Support:

The Commitment of the Congregation

Church, our worship today confesses our belief that God has called these men to shepherd our congregation. Our actions from this point forward ought to reflect that belief and it requires commitment on our part.

Brothers and sisters …

Will you follow these men in service for the sake of Christ?

Will you be respectful of their leadership and imitate their faith?

Will you support them in prayer and serve them in peace?

Will you “lift up their arms” even as they care for our souls?

Will you do all of this knowing that it pleases the Lord and shows the world the perfection of his ways?

If you so agree and pledge, then I ask you to affirm by saying:

“With God’s help we will!”

Prayer of blessing for the church: White Graves

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Note: Tonight there will be a Fish Fry at the home of Sol and Jana Graves. That will be our evening assembly today.

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Resources:

Greek Words for Elders by Jack P. Lewis, June & July 1979, Firm Foundation

“Elders” New Testament Word List by Cecil May, Jr. , undated.

Elder Ordination Service, West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR (LINK)