Growing Up… (In Christ)

Growing up is not always easy. Abuse is more rampant than we would like to admit. Parenting seems to be harder than some would like to admit. Growing up is natural but as the seedling pine needs to be “staked out” as it grows, even so the child needs teaching, guidance and discipline along the way.

Growing up spiritually is pretty much the same. So why have so many missed this much needed process? When a person gives their life to Jesus, having repented of sin and been born of water and Spirit (as Jesus says in John 3), the past is forgiven, the present is a new beginning in Christ, and the future is a walk in grace. How far is the walk? God only knows (cf. Matt. 20.1-16). However, all are walking, growing up in Christ at different rates.

Growing up “in Christ,” is a step by step process. Legalism doesn’t help the process. Liberalism doesn’t help the process. Growing up in Christ isn’t a “hit or miss” process, it is a combination of “fearing God,” “loving God,” and “desiring God.” The babe in Christ may not realize all of this, and this is why good disciplers are needed. Avoiding the extremes of legalism and liberalism and just seeking to know the Lord and follow the Lord and as newborn babes drinking of the milk of the Word without all the traditions of man. “I just want to be a disciple,” is on the heart of all new believers. So the process begins.

Taking baby steps means taking steps which probably involve making mistakes. What baby doesn’t throw up or poop their diapers. Question: Where are the ones who will lovingly feed, help and clean? Often what happens when one is immersed into Christ is we give them a Bible and in essence say, “Good luck!” No wonder they get discouraged. We expect them to simply come to church and go through the same motions weekly and hope they will be “raised in church.” Church does not take the place of parents physically nor spiritually. The one who brought and taught them should be the one(s) who stick with them and help them grow. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes spirituality and gentleness (Galatians 6.1-5).

Growing up in Christ is also very exciting. A new life (old things are passed away) (2 Cor. 5.17), and what a life it can be. What could possibly hinder the new Christian? In a word SIN. It takes time to understand and learn how to appreciate the armor God gives the Christian (Eph. 6.10-17). It takes time for the babe to understand the blessing of the indwelling of the Spirit, what grieves Him, what quenches Him, what He wants or doesn’t want. The new Christian will have “baggage” from the past, and it takes time to deal with this. It takes a caring spiritual parent who understands the dangers that lie ahead.

Growing up in Christ can take some real twists and turns. Sometimes a Christian gets side-tracked, and falls, doing something just wrong. Is this the end? Is this a time for dis-fellowshipping? Is this a time to disown or turn our backs? Is this a time to give up on them? Of course this will not help. Growing up in Christ means growing up in the relationship the Christian has in Christ, and it is hard to lose that. While trying to grow up in a legalistic system “in Christ” is easy to fall from, because we can never seem to “do enough,” “give enough,” “pray enough,” “Sing enough,” “be good enough.” What is needed is a healthy balanced understanding of God’s grace. This is so because a Christian cannot, must not ever come to think of himself as sinless, and thus outside the need of God’s grace. While Christians do sin, and prodigal sons/daughters are found not only in Luke 15, they certainly should not enjoy, boast or gloat in sin. It should grieve them, hurt them, for they have sinned against God. Repentance is to correct ones direction, and it is not just a one time thing, just as growing up is not just a “one time thing.” What is needed is more understanding of the process, as well as encouragement, loving discipline in some cases to bring the fallen back on course. Ignoring the fallen will not help. Gossiping about the fallen will not help. “Black-balling” will not help.

Growing up in Christ may be summed up in the phrase “be patient with me, God isn’t finished yet.” Parents don’t quickly dump a child, pre-teen, teenager, or even a child grown up… “Blood is thicker than water” as the old saying goes. Even when a child has sorely hurt his parents, and caused their hair to turn grey prematurely, they still love. Even when a parent must discipline the “child” the parent will often say or think, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” The Hebrew writer records,

“and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. 11 All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the palsied knees; 13 and make straight paths for your feet, that that which is lame be not turned out of the way, but rather be healed. 14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled; 16 lest there be any fornication, or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright” (Hebrews 12).

Growing up in Christ means beginning, continuing, falling, getting back up, going on to the end in grace! You cannot get many to heaven with fear (of punishment), but you can with love. love can and should be tough and tender, for we all need it.

Dad once told me that back years ago when I wanted to marry, “I wanted to kick you in the pants.” I often think now how I could have used a kick or two. If I had received it, I would probably not liked it at the time, but looking back, it would have been the best thing. The only way this could be is if I knew that Dad really loved me, and I did and do.

Don’t give up on brethren. “Mark” carefully. “Correct” with love. “Avoid” sparingly. Encourage, correct, lift up, help liberally. Who knows, one day you may need it as well. Pine trees need to be ‘staked out” when they are young, but then sometimes even later when the storms come and are too great for the tree, weakness appears, and it’s time to get to work brethren. It is important to win the lost to Christ, but even more, we are to keep the saved.

Grow in grace!





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“Take A Stand”

Did you hear about t

Jack H. Exum Sr. (Dad)

Jack H Exum Sr. (Dad)

he man who, during the Civil War was sympathetic to both sides? He lived on “the line” between the North and South. To show his sympathy for all concerned, he decided it would be good to dress like both… so he combined his uniform. He wore the Confederate Gray coat, and the Union Blue trousers.
All seemed to go well for a while till he found himself in thew midst of a hard fought battle. The Federals shot him in the coat, and the Confederates shot him in the pants.
The moral of the story: “Take a stand!” Stand up and be counted for Jesus. Study, pray, do your own thinking,. “Stand your ground!” No one loves those who are continually indecisive. Jesus said if one is not for him, he counts them as an enemy. STAND FOR CHRIST.
Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (ASV). In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
I don’t know from which bulletin Dad cut this little article, but it brings smiles, and makes you think.
What we add here is this… 1.) Do your own thinking, 2.) Look for principles in the scriptures and ways to apply them. One of the dominant complaints from those in the seats against those in the pulpit is, “There’s always a lot of scriptures but very little application. People are seeking and needing “help for the day.” They do not need a “social Gospel,” nor a “all is great” sermon… scriptures are our only authority but how about fearless application.
Take for example Romans 14-15… How to deal with the weak brother? Most Christians understand about the historical setting of this, but strong preaching applies the principles in the setting of today. Here are a few ideas…
Negative Principle: “Never build a church on issues.” (The important thing about issues is how you deal with them.)
2. PERSONAL CONVICTIONS AND OR CONSCIENCE OR OPINIONS MUST NEVER BE CONSIDERED AS CONGREGATIONAL LAW. (People have a right to their opinions but not the right to push that on others.)
3. A “STUMBLING BLOCK” IS DIFFERENT FROM A “GRUMBLING BLOCK.” The “stumbling block” Paul speaks of is eating meat sacrificed to idols. He say he would not eat meat if it would make someone fall. The one who is strong and will not fall away from Christ should not be using this to “get his way.” He may go to another congregation, but this is his/her option… He can “have his say, but not necessarily get his way.” The “grumbling block,” should be dealt with as such, and not as a “weak brother.”
The “hard head” will not consider other options, opinions, differences. He is like “Johnny one note,” who found his one note and would not play any other. Not all scripture is as clear as others, not every command is given for every culture and time. Give time to consider the who, what, where, when and why. Try and be consistent, and always make sure your conclusion fits within the overall story of the grace of God and His Bible. (Scriptures do not contradict scripture.)
5. APPEASMENT IS NOT UNITY. Preachers musty break free from the thought that they cannot preach what they believe fully or else they will lose their pay check. Elders should not want a “yes-man” in the pulpit. This helps neither the man in the pulpit nor the shepherds who need to grow as well. Appeasing some brother to “keep the peace,” is not the way to unity. Eventually things will come to a “head” and “unity” will be disrupted. Shepherds must deal with the “hot-head.”
Other thoughts on the scriptures:
1.) “The mainest thing is the plainest thing.” The plain teaching of scriptures is that coming to Jesus means faith is seen in repenting and being immersed for the remission of sins. The Spirit of God is then given to each believer (Acts 2:38-39).
2.) Context is still king.
3.) There is a big difference in “can’t” and “won’t.” When someone says “I can’t do…” just ask if they mean “I won’t do…”
Thoughts on the congregational makeup, since most congregations have:

A good principle here is: Each congregation has Christians that are at different stages of development and growth… or the lack thereof (cf. Hebrews 5:11-6:2).
Grow in grace brethren!

Jack Exum Jr.
Jack and Wiwik Exum

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“Finish What You Start!”

Jack H. Exum Sr. (Dad)

Jack H Exum Sr. (Dad)

Dad passed on some valuable principles which still “live on” at least in my life. One of them was “Finish what you start.” Always active, always organized with a rotating list of ten things he needed to do, both for the day and the week, Dad plowed through each one until it was done. This is how he kept things from piling up on him. His ministry, his books, his writing articles, his paying bills, taking care of stuff around the house, taking care of medical appointments, projects big and small… all had a spot on his list and a time for getting it done.
The Bible says regarding the work of God in creation, “Thus the heavens and the earth were FINISHED, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God FINISHED his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation (Genesis 2:1-3) (ESV) (Emphasis mine). He finished what He started!
In Genesis 6:16 God instructed Noah, “A light shalt thou make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt thou FINISH it upward; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (ASV)(Emphasis mine). Genesis 7:5 says, “And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.” He finished the job given him.
In John 17:4 Jesus says, “I glorified you on earth, having ACCOMPLISHED the work that you gave me to do” (ESV)(Emphasis mine). His mission of selecting, training, protecting, preparing his disciples to carry on after His death and resurrection, WAS DONE. He finished what He started.
Jesus said in Luke 13:32 “And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”  In John 19:30 it says, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is FINISHED,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (ESV)(Emphasis mine). The third day He rose from the dead… HE FINISHED WHAT HE STARTED.
Several times Jesus spoke about being his disciple and what this involved… In Luke 14, He speaks about counting the cost. (Something very important in considering a project.) He says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to COMPLETE it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to FINISH, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to FINISH.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (ESV)(Emphasis mine).
Paul speaks to the brethren about their purposed giving, in 2 Corinthians 8:11 he says, “So now FINISH doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have” (ESV)(Emphasis mine).
He says to young Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have FINISHED the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7) (ESV)(Emphasis mine).
“Finish what you start!” Make a list of what needs done. Take each one and count to cost, and begin… but keep on until it is done. Do the same with everything, no matter how small or large the job. Break big jobs down into daily or weekly increments… A mission may even take a life time, but FINISH IT.
Grow in grace brethren….

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Unity – By Jack Exum

UNITY A short outlineA simple outline Dad put together on UNITY.
We will be publishing several outlines which are connected to this subject. A few thoughts are added for continuity.

* Nothing like peace.
* Matters of salvation/ Conscience (Matters of salvation cannot be changed. They are those things which if denied, remove one from the saving grace of Jesus… Matters of conscience on the other hand, are those thing in which there can be differences. Differing on them will not separate one from the saving grace of Jesus.
* MARK -Take note of – Watch out for – Eye ball. (The meaning of “mark” cf. Romans 16:17;  Phil. 3:17). “Mark” (take note of/watch out for) those who are divisive, (destroy the unity of the body). “Mark” (take note of/watch out for) those who follow the example of Paul. So here we have a negative and a positive. Both are meant to protect and build unity.
(Un) scriptural…(Anti) scriptural….(Non) scriptural…. Learn the difference between these and you will go far in maintaining unity. Many things need not to be argued over. Agreeing to disagree at times is okay.
* 100 ISSUES (See how many issues you can list.)
1. Brethren can differ (Are different )(Think different)(Act different)
2. Personal (Conscience-Conviction-Opinion can NEVER be congregational law.
3. Stumbling block or grumbling block. (Taken from Romans 14-15… Learn the difference between the “stumbling block” and the “grumbling block.”
4. Respect each others conscience (Respect each other more than conscience.)
5. Big difference between – WEAK conscience and HARD head.
* You belong to God/Christ (“walk in the light as He is in light”)
* Fellowship is a NOUN not a VERB. (Illustration of triangle – As you and I get closer to God, we get closer to each other.)
* Tin can (Words matter)  Feeling/Fellowship/Relationship many times are destroyed over WORDS! (Go out and shoot your own can… Carry it, use it, teach lessons with it, but more than anything, keep it on your desk and when tempted to “blast” some brother or sister in Christ… remember, you cannot undo or repair the damage…… ever!

There’s the outline… As you can tell, Dad had most of his lesson in his mind and heart. Key words and thoughts and illustrations just kept him moving.

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Everything Relates To The Cross (By Jack Exum)

UNITY ecerything relates to JesusJust a simple drawing Dad did.

For the Christian, the cross of Jesus is central. It cannot be separated from the everyday Christian life. One gets up with the  cross of Christ weighing on the heart, and one goes to bed with the cross.
While liberalism attacks and diminishes the cross of Christ, with all true believers the cross means everything.
* Giving
* Eating or drinking or whatever you do
* Soul winning
* Singing
* Prayer
* Lord’s Supper
* Church attendance
* Resurrection hope
* Food given to the hungry
* Faith/Salvation
* Bible classes
* Teaching and preaching
* Giving a cup of water to the thirsty
Of course you can continue the list. Just imagine what happens when you take the cross of Jesus out of the picture? Or out of our lives? It is then that we lose purpose, and reason for anything on the list.
Do your own study, put scriptures and illustrations where needed… Preach the word!

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