Eldon Tenniswood - Elders Meeting - California - 1975

It's possible most of you people in this meeting have never been in a meeting like his before. To begin, we workers in California have appreciated very much the help all of you elders have been to us.  After Uncle Willie was taken from us, and we workers gathered together for a better understanding of the need of the Kingdom, and how we could work together in unity, we thought that it may be a good thing for us to have a meeting with you elders.  The purpose of the meeting is to strengthen our fellowship and help us see our responsibilities.  Everyone has responsibilities in God's family.  Some of us who have a little more responsibility than others would like to have your help so we can work together with a "solid front."

 

Thinking of this meeting, Philippians 1:1 came to me, "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons."  This is God's perfect plan, and this is why He gave us elders, or bishops, to help us in this work. You will notice in this chapter that it speaks of Paul and Timothy as servants of Jesus Christ. Then it mentions the saints, bishops and deacons.  This is what we have in the meeting here tonight. We have those who have gone forth to carry the gospel message, and I am glad to be numbered among them.  Then there are elders, or bishops, who have been entrusted with the care of a meeting in their home.  There are deacons, or those who are helping the elders or bishops.  Then there are the saints.  This is God's perfect plan, and as we work together, we have fellowship- one with another. The church is subject to the elder, and we would like you to remember that the elder is subject to the servants (the ministers) in our fellowship, and the ministers are subject to Christ, and Christ is subject to God.  When we all fill our place, there is fellowship.  This is the purpose of our meeting - to strengthen this fellowship we have in Christ.  This meeting is for the elders mostly. But then there are those who assist the elder, and they must know their responsibilities.  We are very happy to have you children here because you have responsibilities, as the meeting is in your hone.  You children are young and have a reverence for God, and as you keep true to God, then He can use you to help other people see that this fellowship is of Cod.

 

We are a fellowship of brethren.  You will notice that there was a church in Philemon's home. Philemon 1:1, "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow labourer."  We like to think of him as an elder.  There was a tribute paid to his wife, "Our beloved Apphia," who was working together with her husband.  Archippus was a fellow-soldier of Paul and Timothy, so you can say he must have been in the work.  What a nice influence prevailed in that home to have encouraged that boy to give his life in the harvest field.  We like best of all to have the meeting in the home of the elder.  However, some of you here tonight have a meeting in your home and the elder comes to your home.  We have planned this because we feel it is about the best we can do under the circumstances, but when the time comes when we can have the meeting in an elder's home, we would like to do that.  I am so thankful that you all want to work together with us in this great work of God.

 

The qualifications of an elder given in I Timothy 3:1-3 and Titus 1:5-9 give us a very high standard, and those of you who are elders, elders' wives, and children will find it helpful to read these qualifications often.  Paul left Timothy at Ephesus, I Timothy 1:3, to put certain things in order in the church.  There were problems in the church and this quality of elders would be a great help to the people.  Some were teaching another doctrine and they didn't know they were "off the track."  They thought they knew, but had lost their sense of being childlike, and Paul sent Timothy to help them.  There were a number of things out of order, I Timothy 2:1-3.  Some of them weren't very respectful of the rulers, and he asked them to pray for those in authority.  Sometimes it may not be so hard to pray for the rulers, and other times it would be very difficult, especially if your opinion differs from theirs.  We might think we have some pretty bad politicians in our country but if we had lived in Paul's day, we would have been under a tyrant, Nero.  Paul was asking them to pray for those in authority so the people of God could worship in spirit and truth.  I think this would be a very good policy for all of God's people today, to pray for their rulers.

 

I was asked one time if I voted.  I was told that was the responsibility of every good citizen. I said I prayed for the rulers, and that was better than voting for them.  Another man asked me whether I was Democrat or Republican.  He said, "You ought not to be ashamed of your politics."  I told him it took all my time to be a Christian, let alone a Republican or Democrat.  I appreciate our country, but there is one country I put above every other country, and that is the Kingdom of God of which I am a citizen.  I'll  vote 100% for Christ and would encourage you to also.  We can get taken up with this world, and the next thing, we are lost in it.  We had an elder who had such a bad spirit toward President Roosevelt that he lost out for eleven years, because he hated him. You cannot hate anyone and worship God - it is impossible.  Conditions may get worse - but whatever you do, pray for the rulers that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all Godliness and honesty.

 

I Timothy 2:8-12, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which be-cometh women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

 

Paul was trying to help the men so they would be able to pray effectively.  Maybe it is a little more difficult for us menfolk to pray than for the ladies.  You cannot pray when you are angry, or when you have a bad spirit toward anyone.  "To lift up holy hands without wrath," in another translation it is put, "Lifting up holy hands which are unstained from wrath or strife."  I like that for us menfolk.  You elders, and we as God's servants, as men, should be an example to other men. Women have had a hard time ever since Bible days trying to be modest.  With the trend going one way and then another, they have had a time staying modest in an immodest world.  The elders' wives can be an example and thereby be a strength to the church.  Sometimes they are not; however, we encourage them to be modest in an immodest world.

 

Qualifications of an elder.  The workers today have some problems, and you elders can be a real help to us.  We as workers watch over the church because we love you, and what makes it easier is your love for us.  We thank God for this.  I Timonthy 3:1-13.  "A bishop then must be blameless," or, above reproach.  If a person doesn't pay his debts, it is a reproach;  and if a person doesn't live a clean life and use his neighbors or others kind and right, it is a reproach.  The elders must be above reproach.  "Faithful to his one wife," "vigilant," or wide awake.  A watchman must be wide awake.  What is he looking for?  Anything that will endanger the church entrusted to him - marvelous!  What can he do?  Only sound the warning.  If people are childlike and take that little warning, it will save them from defeat.  When I was in Scotland, I marveled at the stone walls in the fields.  I liked the workmanship.  I liked to examine them and finally got a drawing of how they were constructed so strongly.  They built them to separate fields and to keep the sheep from going over the precipices.  If one sheep goes over the precipice, all the flock follows   It would be nice if the elder is wide awake.  When he sees a little danger, he could sound an alarm as a loving Father does to his children.  "Sober."  When we think about sobriety, we usually think about one who hasn't been drinking strong drink, his tongue isn't too thick, but I like this definition, "serious-minded, well balanced and not affected by passion, excitement, or prejudice."  Unexcited when things don't go quite right, keeping calm, cool and collected.  Prejudice - hearing a story and not being upset, but waiting long enough to hear the other side.  We can be so prejudiced in ourselves that we couldn't see both sides of the problem.  In our home we had two referees, Dad and Mom.  I didn't think too much of it as a boy, but I marvel at it now.  They had the ability to see two sides.  If we can do that, it will help us very much.  It's nice to keep sober.  "Of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach."  It's wonderful to be given to hospitality.  That wouldn't mean just giving away everything you have, but to be careful; entertaining, but not going beyond your means. Just entertain with the means you have, and if they don't like that, it is the best you can do and don't be embarrassed by it.  When the Lord sent us homeless, and we come to your home, it might not be what you would like it to be, but it's more than we have, and we can appreciate what you provide and all that makes your home a home to us.

 

"One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity," or who wins obedience from his children.  You know, children, that's what we like - when we have an elder, and his children respect their father and mother.  The secret of children respecting their father and mother is this - they respect their father, because the Father loves and respects his wife, and these two are always working together.  I am so sorry in our fellowship there are some who are not practicing this.  The mother and father can't see alike, and the children know it, and here they are, frustrated.  It makes the poor children distressed.  If you fathers and mothers have any complaints between you, try to get where the children can't hear and come to an understanding before you go out to speak with your children.  Do you children know there are quite a number of people who come to conventions for the first time and are greatly impressed by the respect and conduct of you children, both in and out of the meetings?  Many people observe the meeting home. When the children of the home are respectful in the neighborhood, the neighbors watch, and as you children keep true to the Lord, it's a wonderful sign that the preservation of the Holy Spirit is able to keep young people in this world of sin from this immoral world in which we are living. Children, I hope you will help us.  When we were children growing up and as yet hadn't made our choice, when we would go away from the home to visit, our father and mother would say, "Remember, the meeting is in our home."  Sometimes when it wasn't in our home, they said, "Remember, you can help people if you will be true to God.  If you are not, people won't believe in the truth."  They tried their best to hold us back from the things that were so alluring in the world.  We children could only be with children we could invite into our home.  You children can be a wonderful help to God if you keep true when you have a meeting in your home.

 

The qualifications of an elder are very high, I Timothy 3:1-13.  We cannot always find elders like this.  What can we do when we cannot find this quality of elders?  Maybe I can tell you about one place where we had to choose an elder and neither of two families qualified.  There was no place for the meeting except in one of these homes.  Some said the one home would be better because the husband and wife were agreeable with one another; however, they only thought of themselves and their children, and some might not be welcome in their home as they were critical of most people.  In the other home, the husband and wife had a hard time getting along with one another.  I don't know how they ever got married, they were so opposite, but they were hospitable and kind.  We went to them and told them we needed a home for the meeting, but we didn't feel right in choosing their home because they couldn't get along with one another, they quarreled so much.  They agreed to try and overcome this problem, but we had to talk to them at times.  Today they have a real love for each other, and the little church is still there.  I thank God for His work accomplished in their lives. If you can't get along with one another and you aren't willing to humble and submit yourselves, your home isn't a good place for the meeting.  The women at Ephesus were written to by Paul and told to be in subjection to their own husband.  Oh, sure, they would listen to someone else, but not their own husband.  Not all those people, are dead.  That's why Paul wrote as he did to Timothy, I Timothy 2:12, "But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."  She was not to usurp authority over her own husband.  In some homes, the man wants to be the boss, and sometimes it's the woman who wants to be the boss, but God created the man to be the head of the home, to love his wife as Christ loved His church.  He created woman to be a help meet for her husband.  Brothers and sisters, when you get into fellowship with God, that will help you to submit, to fit into God's plan, and you cannot help but be happy in your home.  This is God's order.  When people don't come up to these qualifications but they want to be useful, then God comes in and works a miracle if they submit themselves to Him.  There are miracles in our meeting tonight, and it is a miracle of God that I am here with you.  The deacons are under the same qualifications as the elders; their work is similar.

 

There are qualifications for the wives of elders and deacons.  I Timothy 3:11, "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things."  Not slanderers.  Slander is "a false report meant to do harm to the good name and reputation of another."  Workers, and elders and their wives, must be tight-lipped, never betraying the confidential things others have entrusted us with, except they give us permission so another can help them who has more experience.

 

Responsibilities of an elder.  Acts 20:28-32, I Peter 5:2-4.  Do you children have little responsibilities at home?  Does your mother give you work to do and see you get it done?  Or do you start it and leave it?  I feel sorry for children who have a father and mother who don't pay much attention to the children, because it makes it very hard when they get married and have to take on responsibilities, and they can't take it then.  I always thought my mother could find enough work for a regiment of soldiers.  I had three sisters and sometimes I had to do dishes, which to me was girls' work.  That's what I was told to do, and I had to do it and do it the way Mother wanted it done.  I learned a little responsibility.  We had chores to do on the farm, and it didn't matter if we had company.  We had to do the chores.  We children thought our parents were so cruel that we wished for other parents at times.  It is a wonderful privilege you parents have to help your children so they can fit into life later.  The fear of God, or a reverence for God, is one of the best things, as it is the beginning of wisdom.  When you have it in you, you can't help but give it to your children.  You might not think it will take.  Moses' parents had him for a little while, them he was in Egypt forty years, but he had the fear of God put into him as a little boy, and it brought him back to the teaching his parents gave him.

 

The responsibility of the elder is to feed God's lambs and sheep.  Acts 20:28-32.  "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after then.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”  Paul spoke to the elders at Ephesus about wolves.  Oh, my brothers, can you get the picture?  Maybe you don't know sheep and have never been around them, but Paul was going away, and those men were entrusted with that little flock and he said he knew that after he left, grievous wolves would enter in and devour the flock.  I happened to be hone once visiting my parents on the farm.  The neighbors called and said the dogs were in the sheep, so we rushed to the sheep.  We saw some of my father's best sheep dead or bleeding to death.  The dogs had attacked the sheep and torn huge chunks of flesh from their necks, hips and sides.  They had to be killed.  I never saw anything worse happen to sheep.  I thought of some people in our fellowship, some who have even been in the ministry, and what gets into them, I don't know, but they have a hate for some of the very best in God's family, and they want to snap at them and dig at them and injure them all they can.  When you read, "Beware of dogs," they aren't four-legged, but two-legged dogs, and they have hate in their heart and they snap out at people who have a lamb-like nature like Jesus   The last night Jesus lived, He was like a lamb led out to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.  Those people hated Jesus so much that they spat on Him, smote Him, derided Him, gave Him a mock trial, nailed Him to the cross, hoisted the cross up and stuck it in a hole, and He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  When I see that picture I am ashamed of myself.  Sometimes when we get hurt and someone says unkind things to us or about us, we want to fight back.  Let us struggle to be like Jesus, the Lamb of God.

 

Paul said, "Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost bath made you overseers to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."  We, as the servants of God, appoint the elders.  That's what they did in the New Testament days, and that's what we do today, but it is the Holy Ghost that makes you an elder.  Paul was a marvelous speaker, thinker and writer, but he said it was God that made him a minister of Christ.  He worked him all over and worked in him the meekness and the gentleness of Christ.  "Feed the flock of God which he hath purchased with his own blood."  This would show us how precious the little group that meets in your home is to God.  How much did Christ pay for you?  Could He have paid more than His blood?  He gave His life for you and for me.  I am sorry to say that I haven't appreciated God's people like I should.  It is easy to forget God paid the same price for them as He did for me.  Maybe I should just illustrate my point.  When I was a boy, one of our neighbors was the first to get thoroughbred Holstein cattle in our area, and he paid a thousand dollars apiece for the male and female.  One thousand dollars in 1912 - you can imagine what they would cost today.  He had children who could feed the other cattle, but not these two.  He weighed their feed, fed them, took care of them, and they had the best place in his barn.  That's how interested he was in taking care of them, because of the price he paid of them.  One thousand dollars is nothing.  Jesus gave His life for every one in your church.  How much do you think of those people?  There are enemies outside.  What did he say to the elders?  They felt helpless.  We know how you feel.  We feel that way too.  We can hardly do anything.  The 32nd verse can be a consolation to you.  "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."  Isn't that a comfort, to know that Paul was commending these people to God?  If they would pray and worship God, they could be built up so they would glorify God, and they could help these lambs and sheep in the little church and protect them from the wolves, or the men who would come among them and try to lead them away.

 

Feed the flock of God.  If we don't have Christ in us, we think we are so important and think we can speak so much better than others - tragic!  The devil can blind us to our own self.  I Peter 5:2-4, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."  "Feed the flock of God.”   What are you going to feed them with?  This day and age, people are talking about vitamins and nutrition and what's real good for you, and some are getting more sick all the time.  Maybe I should tell you about my dad's sheep.  It will illustrate my point.  Once when I was home visiting my parents, I asked my father why his sheep looked so scrawny.  Dad loved sheep, and they usually looked nice.  He told me that they had so much rain that year and the grass grew fast, but there wasn't much food value in the grass and hay and he didn't have any money to buy grain, so the sheep had to suffer.  Do you get the point?  When God tells you and us workers to feed the flock of God, there is no skimpiness on food.  His storehouse is abundant, but sometimes I am not diligent about getting it.  Jesus told His disciples the secret in Luke 11.  They came and asked Him to teach them to pray.  They were given the sample prayer. "And he said unto them, which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.  And  I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh  receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."  Suppose some people come to your home hungry, and you don't have a thing to give them, so you go to one of your friends to beg bread at midnight, but he says he is in bed with his family and can't get up.  Why did he get up?  You wouldn't go away, you just kept crying out for bread for your friend.  He couldn't sleep anyhow, so he had to get up to get rid of you.  What do we do when we pray for bread?  Are we just casual about it?  If we remember the flock was purchased by the blood of Jesus, we will beg, beg and continue to beg for food to feed them.

 

By feeding the flock of God, we don't mean speaking long in a meeting.  We have enjoyed being in the Sunday Morning Meetings where the elder is very short in his testimony and very good.  Most of those meetings where the elder was short in giving his testimony, the others were short also. Not all.  Some people just want to be heard.  Some people have to have a lot to say.  When I was a boy, an Irish worker was in a meeting and said, "Some people come to the meeting with a great big sheaf of wheat on their shoulder, and here in the meeting they have to thresh it, grind it, bake it and serve it, and it takes twenty minutes or so."  Why don't you have a nice little cake when you come, all ready to serve?  If anyone comes regularly to your meeting and speaks over five minutes, he is out of his place.  But maybe you will make exceptions for us when we come once a year.  We visited a home the other day for a meeting, and I'm ashamed to say how long since I had been there for a meeting.  And some I haven't been to yet, but we shall try to get to your meeting   We appreciate you having that little meeting and for that fellowship which is so rich.  I Peter 5:2, "taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly," doing it because you want to, not because you have to.  “Not being lords."  I am not supposed to lord it over you.  We are only servants, and we pray that God will give us grace to stay in that place so we can serve.  We can advise you, but we are not to be lords over you.

 

"Ensamples to the flock," the elders to the men in the church and the elders' wives to the women.  The elder’s wife is not to lord it over people either.  Sometimes it is pretty hard when you put a meeting in the home, and the woman kind of bosses the house and wants to say what everyone should do.  A dear old soul, now dead and gone, had a meeting in her home because it was convenient and centrally located.  But we had been there long enough to know what would happen.  We told her that at 10:15 A.M. Sunday Morning that room no longer belonged to her.  The elder was in charge. She agreed, but she couldn't help but tell people where to sit and anything else that had to be done.  We had to go back and tell her this couldn't be.  We went back and finally got it through to her that she could sit and those people could come in, sit down, and be given a hymnbook without her help.  She was boss in her home, and it was pretty hard for her to submit to the elder.  We are thankful God is able to change people, and we would like to pray for people more earnestly who have a struggle, like myself.  If you are an example to the flock and feed the flock of God, when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you will receive a crown of glory.  My dear brothers and sisters here in this meeting, we hope that we can be awakened to our responsibilities.  My companion during my fifth year in the work corrected me on more things that I was doing wrong than any of my companions.  Some criticized me, but they didn't tell me how to do it better.  He told me about my pouty disposition when things didn't go my way, and how I gave him the "quiet treatment," not speaking for a while.  Terrible!  Acting like a five-year-old.  Sometimes in a home, one is miffed and won't speak. I feel sorry, because I have been over that road, and it is terrible when we do that.  Now when we are awakened to these things, maybe it will help us to put it aside.

 

The meeting place is one of the places where we can feed people.  Sometimes we can help people by a visit.  Since Uncle Willie passed away and more care has come my direction, I don't have much time to visit the older people in the hospitals, to visit in the homes and have Bible studies, but you elders and your wives could take a little tine to help the flock of God.  Now that's a sacrifice.  To visit someone when they are weary and be a comfort to them will pay great dividends, because you are looking after God's people.  When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will have a crown of glory that fadeth not away.  Many times we are disappointed because some people are ungrateful for the help we endeavor to give, but if we can always remember, if we care for the flock, then when the Chief Shepherd appears, we shall receive more than what is due us.

 

There are four parts to our Sunday Morning Meetings - singing, praying, speaking (I Corinthians 14) and the breaking of bread (I Corinthians 11:17-34.) 

 

SINGING IN THE MEETING.  Sing in the spirit and sing with the understanding.  You folk may have a habit like I do, just singing along with others and not paying attention to the words we sing.  It's wonderful to sing together in the meeting and to get the message in the hymn. 

 

PRAYING IN THE MEETING.  We pray with the spirit, and we pray with understanding, not just saying a repetitious prayer.  Having something special in mind is what is good.  When Jesus prayed, He had something special in mind, especially in public.  He didn't pray the same prayer all the time, nor did He pray long prayers in public; they are for the secret place. We need to pray loud enough in the meeting so all the people can hear and say "Amen."  If we beg, or pray, God to help us so we can help others, it would be an unselfish prayer, like in our Hymn #205, "Lord, speak to me, that I may speak." 

 

SPEAKING IN THE MEETING.  This is the same as feeding, having something helpful for ourselves and passing it on to others.  You could read a chapter and speak on all the verses, and if it is not from God, it will not help others.  We need to beg something from God that will help us to feed others.

 

BREAKING OF BREAD.   This is the perpetuation of the Old Testament passover feast.  It is a beautiful picture when Jesus ate the last passover feast with His disciples that last night of His life.  "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer."  They ate the lamb, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also be took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."  I Corinthians 11:23-25.  He was the Lamb.  The old covenant was fulfilled when Jesus, the Lamb, died on the cross.  We like the breaking of bread in a home that is clean and orderly, a prepared home for the breaking of bread.  There was one home my companion and I were ashamed to go to for meeting.  On the front porch was an old broken-down davenport, with the cushions torn open by the dog, weeds around the house partly hid old cans which were scattered around the front and bark yards.  The inside of the home wasn’t much better.  My companion and I helped to repair the porch, paint the house and clean both the front and back yards, hauled away all the old junk.  We helped them clean up the inside of the house also.  Some of their neighbors wished we would paint their houses also!  After we had the place clean, we taught them a little about the order of the home for the breaking of bread, that it must be clean and orderly, even if it has a dirt floor.  When the Children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness, their camp had to be clean.  The priest must be clean to enter the sanctuary or they would die, no one unclean could go into the court of the tabernacle.  It was difficult for these people to keep their home clean, so we moved the meeting and learned later the workers had never appointed that home for a meeting place.

 

When preparing the emblems, have a nice-sized piece of bread, perhaps a slice with the edges removed on a plate or saucer and plenty of grape juice.  We'd like the emblems to be placed in the center of the room if possible, but that is not always possible.  We like to have them where they can be seen.  One time we were in a home where there was little room, so they set the emblems back in another room.  My suggestion was to take my chair out, and I would sit in the back room.  The emblems are the most important thing in the little Sunday Morning Meeting, as the bread reminds us of the broken body of Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, "I am the Bread of Life."  The wine reminds us of His blood which was given for our redemption.  When we give thanks for the bread and for the fruit of the vine, we should be as specific as we are at the table when we give thanks for our food.  When we break off a piece of bread (not just a crumb), we are telling all in the meeting that we are willing for all the Word of God in our life.  This reminds me of the perfect surrender Jesus made of His life to His Father's will.  When we take the emblem of Jesus' shed blood, the fruit of the vine, we are telling all in the meeting we are purchased by the blood of Jesus and we are not our own, to do what we desire, but rather to do His will for us.  Because we believe in Jesus and are willing to walk in the light, as He is in the light, and have fellowship (forgiveness) one with another, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  Sometimes we do not feel like breaking bread because of past defeats.  God has made marvelous provision for us.  In our meetings we sing, pray and speak.  There is a message for us in every hymn in our book, as well as in the prayers and testimonies of others.  The opportunity has come to examine ourselves, apply the Word of God to ourselves.  Are we willing to put things right?  If we acknowledge our wrong to God and repent (feel badly enough about it to forsake the wrong), are willing to forgive others whether they apologize to us or not, the blood of Jesus cleanses us instantly.  Then we have the privilege of breaking bread and it will be a blessing to us.  It may be necessary after the meeting to go to others and make an apology.  However, if we are not willing to put away wrong things, then the breaking of bread can be a damnation to us, which is worse than if we had never broken bread.

 

The last night Jesus sat with His disciples, they were all purposed in heart to be true to Him except Judas, who had gone to the chief priests and bargained to betray Jesus.  They all went out of the meeting and forsook Him; they did not realize how weak they were.  Jesus had compassion on them because they didn't intend to do it.  It was different with Judas.  Before the meeting, he had made a bargain with the chief priests to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  Judas broke bread with Jesus and His disciples, had a chance to repent, but he rose up and went out and it was night, night in two ways.  The night was dark, but after he betrayed Jesus, he entered into the darkest experience of his life, and hanged himself.  If we partake of these emblems and are not willing to put away the wrong and forgive in our hearts, it is eating and drinking damnation to ourselves, not discerning the Lord's body.  It is good for us to have these truths impressed upon our minds and hearts Some in the church in Corinth were weak and sickly and some had died spiritually, because they did not break bread in the right way.

 

We workers have appreciated the questions you had in your minds.  We may not be able to answer them to your satisfaction, but it will give us an avenue of communication.  When you have a question don't be afraid to come to us; we shall try to answer it or get an answer for you.

 

WHAT IS THE PROPER COVERING FOR THE EMBLEMS, NAPKIN OR SARAN WRAP?  We prefer a clean white napkin, because the napkin is used in the eastern states, Europe, and other countries.  We think it is best to be uniform.

 

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO UNCOVER THE EMBLEMS?  Someone suggested uncovering the emblems before we sing a hymn before taking the emblems.  Sometimes we don't sing a hymn due to the time element. It would be respectful to turn back the napkin before giving thanks for the bread.  However, this may not be possible because of no screens on the windows or doors to keep out the flies.

 

WHAT IS THE FEELING ABOUT WOMEN GIVING THANKS FOR THE EMBLEMS?  We like to see the men taking most of the responsibility for this.  If there is hesitation and one of the ladies would like to give thanks for the emblems, that is good.

 

WHAT IS THE PROPER DISPOSAL OF THE EMBLEMS?  The meeting in the hone perpetuates the passover feast mentioned in Exodus 12.  Any part of the lamb which was left over was to be burned with fire. The bread represents the body of Jesus and we feel it should be burned.  (Exodus 12:10)  The blood of the animals was to be poured out on the ground and covered with dust.  Leviticus 17:13, Dt. 12:16.  We feel it would be best to pour the wine out on the ground.

 

SHOULD THERE BE TWO CUPS AND TWO PIECES OF BREAD IN A LARGER MEETING?  We prefer to use one cup because it signifies fellowship as we pass it from one to another.  Some feel it takes too long to pass the bread and the wine when there is only one cup, but this is the most consecrated part of the meeting and we don't object to waiting for all to drink of the one cup.

 

SHOULD THE BREAD BE TAKEN OFF THE PLATE WHEN PASSED?  In some places they do take the bread off the plate and pass it.  The reason we pass the bread on a plate or saucer is because of the unsaved people in our meetings.  When we pass it on a plate, they just take hold of the plate and pass it along to the person next to them.  Sometimes strangers hesitate to touch the bread and I can understand and appreciate their feelings.

 

SHOULD SOMEONE WHO NEVER TAKES PART IN THE MEETING TAKE THE EMBLEMS?  We feel the breaking of bread is for those who participate in the meeting.  Romans 10:9, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in thine heart that God bath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."  According to this scripture, to have salvation, we must confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and the meeting is a good place to do so.  If we are not grateful for what the Lord has done for us, it would be best to not partake of the emblems.

 

WHERE SHOULD THE EMBLEMS BE PLACED IN THE ROOM?  There is no better place for the emblems than in the center of the room.  This is difficult due to the seating arrangement in some homes, but it should be in the room where the meeting is held.

 

IS A CIRCULAR SEATING ARRANGEMENT BEST WHEN POSSIBLE?  The circular seating is excellent, but it is seldom possible.

 

SHOULD CHILDREN PASS THE EMBLEMS TO THE NEXT PERSON?  This depends on the age of the children. If they are old enough and careful, it is nice for them to pass the emblems to the next person, but not when too young.

 

SHOULD THE ELDER PASS THE WINE INDIVIDUALLY?  No.  The bread and the wine should always be passed from one person to the other when possible, as this speaks of fellowship.  Sometimes the elder must help pass it because of the seating arrangement as the one person cannot reach the person who is to receive it next.

 

SHOULD THE ELDER DRINK ALL THE WINE THAT IS LEFT?  "Drink ye all of it," Matthew 26:27.  When Willie Phyn was here from New Zealand, I asked him about this scripture, as he worked in Greece. Willie said the Greek New Testament reads, "All of you drink it." Jesus desired all His disciples to drink of the cup.  What is left over, pour it on the ground.

 

SHOULD THE EMBLEMS BE PASSED TO ALL (EXCEPT SMALL CHILDREN) EVEN IF THEY DON'T PARTAKE?  Yes. If strangers are in the meeting, you can explain before breaking bread what is taught in I Corinthians 11:23-29. This will help them to understand it is an individual choice and the responsibility is upon the person who partakes of the emblems of Jesus' broken body and shed blood.

 

SHOULD THE EMBLEMS BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY?  Yes.  We would like the elder to take the emblems out of the room when the meeting is aver.

 

WOULD IT BE ALL RIGHT TO ASK ALL TO REMAIN SEATED AFTER THE MEETING UNTIL THE EMBLEMS COULD BE REMOVED FROM THE CENTER OF THE ROOM TO AVOID THE POSSIBILITY OF THEM BEING TIPPED OVER AND IN THE SPIRIT OF REVERENCE FOR THEM? It would be a mark of reverence if we all sat while the elder removed the emblems from the room.

 

WOULD IT BE BETTER TO HAVE NOTHING ON THE TABLE WITH THE EMBLEMS, SUCH AS FLOWERS?  It is best to just have the emblems on the table, no flowers.  Nothing is more beautiful than the emblems that remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus that was given for our redemption.

 

WHEN YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE HOME HAVE MADE THEIR CHOICE, IS IT ALL RIGHT THEN FOR THEM TO PREPARE THE EMBLEMS IF THEY WANT TO HAVE A PART IN THIS?  Yes, as long as it is done under the supervision of the parents and done right, we have no objection.

 

WHAT KIND OF A CONTAINER IS BEST FOR THE WINE FOR CONVENIENCE IN PASSING, SIZE, ETC.?  SHOULD THE SAME CONTAINER ALWAYS BE USED?  Before I visited the Orient, I felt the container should be a cup. In the Orient, the cup they use has no handle on it.  It is similar to the glass we drink from.  The cup means a vessel we drink from, whether it be a cup or what we call a glass.  It is not necessary to always use the same container; however, if you would like to do this, we have no objection.  The vessel must be clean.

 

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT STRANGERS WHO ATTEND REGULARLY AND PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS?  Someone who knows the party and is in the spirit should remind them what they are doing and explain to them what Jesus taught in I Corinthians 11:23-29.

 

WHO DECIDES WHO IS WORTHY TO PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS?  Each person is to examine himself and decide whether he partakes of the emblems or not, I Corinthians 11:28.

 

IS IT SCRIPTURAL TO PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS IN A PLACE SUCH AS A MOUNTAIN CABIN WHEN A FEW GATHER THERE? The only place where the bread should be broken is in a home that is consecrated for the meeting.  If you go to the mountains for recreation or a vacation. try to go to a home that has been chosen by the workers for the Sunday Morning Meeting and the breaking of bread.

 

IS IT MORE BECOMING FOR THE ELDER TO TAKE AWAY THE EMBLEMS AT THE CLOSE OF THE MEETING THAN FOR HIS WIFE TO DO SO? Yes, it is the responsibility of the elder.  If the elder comes to the meeting to lead the meeting, it is the elder's responsibility to take away the emblems at the close of the meeting.  If someone else leads the meeting in the absence of the elder, arrange with him ahead of time to take care of the emblems.

 

AFTER PROFESSING, BEFORE BAPTISM, SHOULD PEOPLE PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS?  This question was answered for me at a Church of Christ meeting that I attended about 25 years ago.  Two ladies who were coming to our meetings invited  me to go with them to their service.  The minister was speaking about Hebrews 3.  He used the scripture about God leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt and they were baptized in the cloud and in the sea, and he added, "This day was Israel saved," giving the impression that the Children of Israel were not saved until they were baptized.  He challenged anyone in the meeting to prove a person could be saved before baptism.  When he asked for questions, I said, "Do you people believe that the passover feast was a true type of Christ?" He said, "Yes, we do." Then I replied, "You people believe that the Children of Israel partook of Christ, the Passover Lamb, before they were saved. How could they partake of Christ before they were saved?" When a person surrenders to Christ and receives of His Holy Spirit and has came to the age of accountability and then they wish to. break bread and are willing for all the will of God, no matter what it might mean or cost, they can break bread.  Sometimes children who haven't come to the age of accountability do not fully understand the responsibility of being a Christian and it is best for them to wait until after they are baptized to break bread.  Once we had two girls who wished to be baptized.  I didn't think they were old enough to take that step and I inquired of Jack Carroll.  He told me this, "The father and mother should bear most of this responsibility, as they know if the children pray and are having fellowship with the Lord. Get the girls and their parents together and ask the parents if their children understand what it means to be baptized."  The father said one of the girls was ready but the other one was not ready, as she didn't feel her need to pray and to be separated from the world.  The older girl said, "I will wait for my sister." This is why we feel the children should wait until after they are baptized before breaking bread.  We are not baptized to make us Christians, but because we are Christians.

 

IS BAPTISM A NECESSARY PART OF SALVATION?  Yes.  Jesus said in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."

 

SHOULD THE ELDER STAND OR SIT WHEN HE TAKES THE EMBLEMS?  Perhaps this is what is meant by this question - when the elder who is passing the bread and wine is quite a ways from his chair, should he go back to his chair and sit down for the partaking of the emblems, or should he take the emblems from where he is standing?  Either would be all right with us.

 

SHOULD A SONG BE SUNG JUST PRIOR TO PASSING THE EMBLEMS?  An appropriate hymn or a verse of a hymn is nice before we break bread; however, if the meeting has been long, we can omit singing and break bread.  An hour and a half is plenty long for a meeting.

 

SHOULD SOMEONE BE POINTEDLY ASKED TO GIVE THANKS FOR THE EMBLEMS?  It is in order to ask someone to give thanks for the bread or for the wine.  Sometimes I pointedly give my companion a poke.

 

SHOULD GRAPE JUICE OR WINE BE USED?  We can use either.  It must be the fruit of the vine. Grape juice is what we customarily use in California.  We like it best because there may be someone in the meeting fighting the alcoholic habit which was acquired before professing, and it is very difficult to take wine without arousing the old appetite which craves for it.  In some parts of the world, it is difficult to get grape juice, so they use fermented wine.

 

IF THE PRESCRIBED JUICE IS NOT AVAILABLE (ONLY IN EMERGENCIES) WHAT COULD BE USED?  Nothing. It must be the fruit of the vine.  If grape juice or wine is not available, omit breaking of bread.

 

WHY DON'T WE USE UNLEAVENED BREAD FOR THE EMBLEMS?  Unleavened bread was used for the Passover because all leaven was put out of the house, Exodus 12:15. Jesus ate the last Passover with His disciples.  In Leviticus 23:15-17, which was on the first day of the week, the Feast of Pentecost, Acts 2, they were to have leaven in the loaves they baked.

 

              OLD TESTAMENT              NEW TESTAMENT

              PASSOVER FEAST             BREAKING OF BREAD

1.              Preparation                         Exodus12:19                            I Corinthians 5:6-8

2.              Place (home)                      Exodus12:3                               Luke 22:7-13

3.              Number                              Exodus12:3                              Matthew 18:20

4.              Time                                   Exodus12:18                            Acts 20:7

5.              Purpose                              Exodus12:14                            Luke 22:19-20

6.              Manner                               Exodus12:5-10                         I Corinthians 11:23-31

7.              Partakers                            Exodus12:43                            Acts 2:42; 20:7

 

IS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE ELDER AND HIS WIFE TO NOT SHOW PARTIALITY WHEN VISITING THOSE WHO MEET IN THEIR HOME?  It is never good to show partiality by the elder, his wife, or those in the work.  "If we have respect to persons, we commit sin," James 2:9.

 

ARE ELDERS TO CONSULT THE WORKERS BEFORE ASKING PEOPLE TO CONDUCT THE MEETING WHEN THEY ARE AWAY?  Yes, always (except alternate elders).  Usually there is someone appointed by the workers to take the place of the elder when he is not present.  The elder should let the person know ahead of time that he won't be present in the meeting.  However, if the elder knows a faithful man who has been an elder and is qualified, it is all right for him to take the meeting.  In California, we have so many coming and going from other states that it is best to be careful.  If you are a young man and an older elder comes to visit, it is all right to ask him to lead the meeting when he has been proven and has our recommendation.

 

IS IT WISE FOR THE ELDER'S WIFE TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR MEETINGS, ETC.?  If love is abundant in the meeting, it is all right.  Let me tell you what has happened.  I have asked the elder's wife to call people and tell them about a meeting we had planned to have on the spur of the moment.  She called the different churches and told them about the meeting.  Some of the people felt she had made the arrangement.  Now I tell the elder's wife when she calls the different churches for me, to say, "Eldon wished me to call you and give you this message."  If the elder hasn't time to call and asks his wife to do so, it is best if she would say, "John wanted me to call you and tell you about these arrangements."  For the elder's wife just to go ahead and make arrangements without the consent of her husband or the workers would be out of place.

 

SHOULD ELDERS KEEP THE CHURCH INFORMED ABOUT FUNERALS AND OTHER MATTERS?  Yes, it is a good policy, as oftentimes some people do not hear.

 

SHOULD ELDERS NOTIFY WORKERS IN THE AREA WHEN SOMEONE IN THEIR MEETING IS SICK, IN THE HOSPITAL OR NOT GETTING OUT TO MEETINGS, ETC.?  Yes, they would if they are good under-shepherds.

 

IS IT MORE BECOMING FOR THE ELDER TO MAKE THE ANNOUNCEMENTS AND PASS OUT THE LISTS, ETC., THAN FOR HIS WIFE TO DO SO?  The wife would be out of place unless the elder asked the wife, or children, to pass out the lists   The elder is the one to take the responsibility of making announcements. Sometimes the elders' wives are too bossy.  One lady had the habit of telling people where to sit and what to do when they came to the meeting.  We had to tell her that at 10:15 A.M. on Sunday, the room was no longer hers, if we were to have the meeting there.  She was not to tell the people where to sit or what to do.  The elder was in charge of the room until the meeting was over.

 

IS IT WISE FOR ELDERS AND OTHERS TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR YOUNG CONVERTS OR SHOULD THEY WORK TOGETHER WITH THE WORKERS?  It is very important for you to work together with the workers.  One nice young couple came to our meetings and decided and some of the people who were half-hearted wanted to make arrangements for them and occupy their time.  We had to go to the young people and tell them we did not approve of some of the things they were doing, as that belonged to the world. However, if you have any suggestions that would help young converts get to meetings, etc., it would be nice if you could mention it to the workers.

 

HOW FAR SHOULD AN ELDER GO IN SETTLING PROBLEMS?  WHERE DOES HIS AUTHORITY END AND THE WORKERS' RESPONSIBILITY BEGIN?  The Holy Spirit will teach a person where his responsibility begins and ends.  It is wonderful to have a peacemaker in the church to help solve problems.  We are wise if we do like Galatians 6:1 instructs us,  “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."  When we go in the Spirit to settle a problem, we never make it worse.  I have gone and failed to go in the spirit of meekness and the matter was made worse, and I had to go back and apologize for not having the right spirit.  If you feel you cannot handle the problem, talk to somebody who knows the person well.  If you need help, be sure to consult the workers.  Where does the workers' responsibility start?  If you cannot solve the problem, I suppose that is where the workers' responsibility starts.

 

IF SOME HAVEN'T TAKEN PART IN A MEETING, SHOULD THE ELDER, IN A SPIRIT OF ENCOURAGEMENT, ASK IF SOMEONE ELSE WOULD LIKE A WORD BEFORE HE TAKES PART?  IS THIS UNDUE PRESSURE?  No, it is a kindly way to ask if others would like a word.  When there is hesitation between speaking or praying in a meeting, we are wasting God's time.  We should be ready to speak or pray in harmony with our brethren.  If we have a message on our hearts, speak it without wasting time.  The elder needn't always wait until the last.  If you take a humble part yourself, it may encourage others to have a short word.

 

HOW MUCH SHOULD THE WIFE AND CHILDREN OF THE ELDER PARTICIPATE IN HIS RESPONSIBILITIES, SUCH AS PREPARING THE ROOM, VISITING, ETC.? If the wife and children work together with the elder, everything will work out all right.  The Holy Spirit will not only give us words to say when we are in a "tight spot," but will also give us discernment as to what we should do to work in harmony with others.

 

IF SOMEONE IN THE MEETING HAS A PERSONALITY, OR EVEN A PHYSICAL OR MENTAL HANDICAP THAT IRRITATES OTHERS, WHAT RESPONSIBILITY DOES THE ELDER AND HIS WIFE HAVE TO WORK THIS OUT WITH ALL CONCERNED?  We should be very kind toward the person who has a personality conflict   He might not have had the same chance as we, and any kindness we will give them will enrich us.  A young mother we knew had two beautiful children.  There was a neighbor girl who had a harelip who loved to play with her little daughters.  This young woman didn't like the little girl because of her harelip and wasn’t kind to her.  The next child that this young mother had was born with a harelip.  We can encourage people to be compassionate toward those who have a personality or even a physical or mental handicap that irritates others, because we do not know what is in the future for us.

 

WHEN SOME IN THE MEETING DON'T ATTEND REGULARLY, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT GETTING IN TOUCH WITH THEM, EVEN WHEN THEY MISS ONE SUNDAY?  Some of our people have been so concerned when anyone misses the meeting that they call them up to see if they are well.  Once in a while the people who were absent are angry because they think the people are trying to interfere with their business. If they didn't call up, some would say they could be sick or die and nobody would care for them. There are two sides, and it is nice if we have the wisdom of God to help people.  One young couple had a grievance towards some in the little meeting at home; they stayed away from a meeting and said to themselves if anyone would come and ask them why they weren't in the meeting, they would tell them what was wrong in no uncertain terms.  My father was the elder, but didn't know what their thoughts were.  When Dad went to their home and shook hands, he said, "We missed you so much in the meeting this morning."  They couldn't say anything - this disarmed them and they were ashamed for not being in the meeting.  If we can call on people in the spirit of meekness and be kind, this will heal many wounds.  When one sheep is missing, a good shepherd will always go to look for the sheep.

 

"WHEN THE HOUR WAS COME, HE SAT DOWN AND THE TWELVE APOSTLES WITH HIM,"  WAS THIS IN THE EVENING?  Yes, it was in the evening.  The passover began at sunset on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, and on the evening of the fifteenth day of the feast of unleavened bread, Leviticus 23:5-6.

 

SHOULD THE ELDER GREET EACH PERSON AT THE DOOR AS THEY COME TO THE FELLOWSHIP MEETINGS?  Greeting the people at the door by the elder is not necessary as they arrive; however, some elders like to do this, and we have no objection.

 

WHAT IS THE ELDER'S RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD SOME WHO DON'T FEEL THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MID-WEEK MEETING?  There isn't much the elder can do but encourage them to come to be a help to others in the church.

 

SHOULD PROPER TUNE AND TIMING BE STRESSED IN OUR SINGING OF HYMNS?  It is good to have the proper tune and timing, but this is very difficult to have in our meetings.  Before we had music books, we learned the songs from those who sang solos at convention.  A soloist has the liberty to emphasize words.  We seldom have the timing correct and it is difficult to have this in our meetings.  We like it when it is proper, but the most important thing is to sing in harmony, making melody in our hearts to the Lord.

 

IF A BROTHER IS ABLE AND IN THE MEETING, IS IT MORE FITTING FOR HIM TO LEAD THE HYMNS THAN FOR A SISTER?  It would be nice for him to lead the singing because we have heard some people say we are a group which has the ladies lead all the singing.

 

IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR A DIVORCED AND REMARRIED PERSON WHO CAN TAKE NO PART IN MEETINGS TO CHOOSE A HYMN?  We would rather they wouldn't choose a hymn in the meeting.

 

SHOULD THE ELDER ALWAYS CHOOSE THE FIRST HYMN?  In our hymnbook we have gospel hymns, prayer hymns and hymns that strengthen our fellowship.  Jack Carroll said he liked to see the elders choose the first hymn, so the meeting would be started with an appropriate hymn.  When we have some in the meeting who would choose an appropriate hymn, that would be all right.

 

IS IT ALL RIGHT FOR THE ELDER TO NOT GIVE OUT ANY HYMNS?  It would be all right, if appropriate hymns are chosen.

 

WHEN CERTAIN ONES ALWAYS GIVE OUT A HYMN, SHOULD SOMETHING BE SAID TO GIVE A CHANCE FOR ALL TO CHOOSE?  Perhaps one could say, "There are some of you who haven't given out a hymn for a long time; would you have a choice of a hymn?"  It would need to be said kindly.

 

WHAT ABOUT NON-PROFESSING CHILDREN CHOOSING HYMNS IN MEETINGS (LITTLE ONES, SIX YEARS OLD OR SO)?  We would rather they asked their parents and if it is an appropriate hymn, then their parents could ask for the hymn.

 

IS IT PROPER WHEN SOMEONE CHOOSES A HYMN FOR THE PERSON WHO LEADS THE HYMN TO SAY WE WILL OMIT SINGING TWO VERSES, OR IS THIS THE ELDER'S PLACE?  This is the elder's responsibility to suggest only two verses, or the whole hymn.

 

SHOULD WE KNEEL DURING PRAYER?  I always liked to kneel when we could in the meetings.  Paul Boyd had a hearing problem, and when he and I were together he told me one day he hadn't heard any prayers in the meeting.  When people knelt to pray and their faces were down in overstuffed chairs, or davenports, or even straight chairs, and they didn't pray loudly, Paul couldn't hear.  We were doing what I wanted to do, and I was not considering others with a hearing problem, for which I was very sorry.  Now in the meetings, I would like to consider the older ones who cannot hear so well. If we bow our heads, they can hear better.  It is good to do what is best for the edifying of all in the meeting.  In some parts of the world, they stand when they pray like we do when we give our testimonies.  It isn't the position we are in that is important, but the motive of our hearts in pouring out thanks to our Heavenly Father.  Let us pray loudly enough so all can hear and say "Amen."

 

IF A MEETING IS LARGE AND TENDS TO BE TOO LONG, WOULD IT BE BETTER FOR AN ELDER TO SUGGEST BREVITY OR FOR HE AND HIS WIFE TO NOT TAKE PART?  It is good for the elder to mention that it would be nice if the testimonies were brief.  Then if they don't take the hint, do like Jack Jackson - he went to a place that hadn't had workers for six or seven months.  There were only four people in the meeting and they took all the time.  He said the next time he was in the meeting he would speak, as it was time for the meeting to be over.  If you run into difficulties, tell us and maybe we can help you.  Some people have told me they just cannot condense their thoughts.  Tom Webb, one of our Irish workers, told this in a meeting in Detroit one time, "Come to the meeting with bread.  Some people come in with a great big sheaf of wheat, then they have to thresh it and grind it and mix it and bake it and serve it, which. takes so long.  If we come with bread, it's condensed and tasty."

 

SHOULD HABITUALLY LONG SPEAKERS BE ENCOURAGED NOT TO DO SO, AND HOW?  I wish I knew how to help them   Perhaps it would be best for some of us workers to speak to them about speaking too long.

 

HOW PROMPTLY SHOULD WE EXPECT PEOPLE TO LEAVE AFTER THE MEETING IS OVER?  It is nice to greet one another after the meeting is over and then leave.  It isn't best to have prolonged visiting or for children to play in the house or on the street right after the meeting is over.

 

ON UNION SUNDAYS, WHEN THERE ARE TWO CHURCHES MET TOGETHER, SHOULD THE ELDERS TAKE TURNS LEADING THE MEETING, OR SHOULD THE ELDER IN WHOSE HOME THE MEETING IS LEAD ALL THE MEETINGS?  We do not like for elders to take turns leading the meetings.  One person must be responsible.  The elder in whose home the meeting is held is responsible.  If he wishes to have the other elder lead some of the meetings, he can ask him to do so.  This saves any confusion about who leads the meeting.

 

IS IT GOOD TO TAKE TURNS LEADING THE WEDNESDAY EVENING BIBLE STUDIES?  We prefer one person to be responsible to lead the Bible study.

 

SOME FEEL A FELLOWSHIP MEETING SHOULD BE OVER WITHIN AN HOUR.  WHAT IS BEST?  We do not like meetings to exceed an  hour and a half.

 

DO THE ELDERS HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CANCELING THE SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE STUDIES IF MOST IN THE MEETING GO ELSEWHERE, LIKE TO THE GOSPEL MEETING IN ANOTHER FIELD?  It is best for the elders to consult the workers before any meetings are canceled.

 

WHAT IF SOME FEEL TWO MEETINGS ON SUNDAY ARE TOO MUCH AND OTHERS ENJOY THEM?  IT OFTEN SPLITS A CHURCH.  There are some people who like the Sunday Night Meeting and are interested in studying the Bible.  All of God's people should be anxious to help them and to have the meeting.  Some people would rather have a social gathering.  If we choose social friendship, we are building with wood, hay, and stubble.  If we are having fellowship with the Lord and His people, we are building gold, silver, and precious stones.  It is the elder's responsibility to feed the flock.  Every one of them should desire to pour out their life to help people, the same as we.  Most of us workers have two meetings on Sunday because we are anxious to help people and those who have never responded to the gospel.  If our people do not care to gather with their church, their love for the Lord must be growing cold.

 

SHOULD MEETING HOMES HAVE RADIOS AND HI-FI’S?  There has always been the tendency of God's people drifting toward the world as mentioned in Psalms 106:13-15, "They soon forget his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.  And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul."  About all the hi-fi music you can get is from the world.  We have stayed in unsaved homes where we have music from morning to night, and it is very difficult for us to get that music out of our minds when we go to pray.  Remember Jesus said, "If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."  If we deny ourselves worldly music, we will benefit spiritually from our Heavenly Father.  If people want worldly music and start feeding on it, they will become like the world.  Remember, Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom and the next thing, he was there.  Some people want the radio for the weather reports.  If a person is going to feed on what comes over the radio, they are going to be like what they feed on.  If we feed on Jesus, then we will become like Him. We like to see the meeting home consecrated to the Lord, where His people can come and be encouraged to lay down their lives for Christ.

 

WHAT RESPONSIBILITY DOES A MEETING HOME HAVE TOWARD NEIGHBORS IN MATTERS OF NEATNESS, CLEANLINESS, QUIETNESS, ETC.?  The meeting home should be an example of neatness, cleanliness and quietness in the neighborhood, as it represents the place where God meets with His people on the first day of the week.

 

WHEN A MEETING HOME HAS OLDER CHILDREN LIVING AT HOME WHO DON’T PROFESS, BUT ARE SELF-SUPPORTING, WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED OF THEM?  We can expect them to be courteous and to respect the meeting.  One cannot make them do it.  One of our elders had ten children.  The two oldest boys were self-supporting and at home. They didn't wish to sit in the meeting anymore.  The mother had a talk with them and asked then, "Do you like the home clean?  Do you like the way we cook the meals, and having them on tine?  Do you like a clean bed to sleep in and clean clothes to wear? These are some of the things I am doing for you and the one thing I ask you boys to do is to come in and sit in the Sunday Morning Meeting and respect the Lord, God's people and us."  As long as those boys were at home, they were always in the Sunday Morning Meeting because of the loving, kind way the mother spoke to then.  This is a problem in some homes, and I feel very sorry for people after having raised their children, they disrespect the little meeting.  One day we are all going to stand before God.  My heart goes out to you people who have children who disrespect the Lord, you and your home.  We know it is not your purpose to have it this way.

 

IS THERE EVER AN APPROPRIATE TIME FOR WOMEN TO WEAR MEN'S CLOTHING?  Two years ago a lady said to me, "What do you think of Deuteronomy 22:5?"  I said, “What is that scripture?"  This lady handed me her Bible and I read, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaimeth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God."  She replied, "What are the exceptions?"  "Let's read it again."  I didn't notice any exceptions.  Do you?  Most of the women of the world wish to wear that which pertains unto a man and for this reason, our women folk are tempted to do the same.  Some have mentioned, "What you read is from the Old Testament and has been fulfilled."  What was an abomination to God in the Old Testament is an abomination today. What God hated then is what He hates now.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, and so is God.  Could you think of people who say they love the Lord doing things that are am abomination to Him?  Jesus said in John 8:29, "He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."  We can speak in meeting, pray and break bread, but if we are not doing the things which please God, love is lacking.  John 14:21, 23.  Some of our people say that women’s wear is women's apparel, not men’s.  We notice they didn't wear it a few years ago.  It is nice to see a lady in the world dressed like a lady, and not like a man.  If it is admirable to see women in the world dressed like ladies, isn't it much more so for our women professing godliness to be dressed like ladies?

 

IS IT BECOMING FOR A WOMAN PROFESSING GODLINESS TO WEAR A DIAMOND RING?  We read something about that in I Peter 3:3, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold or putting on of apparel," and in I Timothy 2:9-10, "Not with broided hair, (elaborate hairdos) or gold, or pearls, or costly array."  At the wedding of an unsaved couple, I noticed the judge asked the girl to take off her diamond ring and then during the marriage ceremony, he put the wedding band on her finger, but the judge didn't put the diamond ring back on her hand. The diamond ring had served its purpose by showing the young woman was engaged.  When the young lady put the diamond ring back on, it's for adornment and the Scripture would teach against this custom.

 

IS THERE SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THE SHORT DRESSES AMONG US?  People who don't wish to comply with the scripture are difficult to help, but we can remind them what is taught in Colossians 3:25, "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, and there is no respect of persons."

 

WHAT WOULD BE AN ELDER'S RESPONSIBILITY IF THE FREEDOM FOR WORKERS TO GO FORTH AS THEY DO NOW WERE TAKEN AWAY FROM US, AS IN CUBA AND OTHER PLACES?  The Holy Spirit would teach elders what to do, and how to help God's precious flock.

 

WOULD IT BE WISE TO CHECK WITH THE WORKERS BEFORE PASSING AROUND NOTES AND OTHER PRINTED MATTER WITHIN A CHURCH?  Yes, it would be wise.  Jack Jackson told us there were some notes being passed around on the second coning of Christ with his name on them and he did not write them.  He wished for anyone who saw them to burn them.  Someone had put his name on the paper.  Recently some notes were given to me which were supposed to be Jack Carroll's handwritten notes.  They were not, because I know his handwriting, and the presentation of the scripture was not his style.  Let us advise all people to be very careful with the notes we give others to read.

 

WHAT SHOULD THE SISTER WORKERS' DUTIES BE IN MATTERS OF TROUBLE IN THE CHURCH?  The sister workers work in harmony with us in matters they cannot handle, and we appreciate their help.

 

ARE DIVORCED AND REMARRIED PEOPLE WHO KNEW NOTHING OF THE TRUTH BEFORE REMARRYING STILL LIVING IN ADULTERY?  This is a question I cannot answer.  When I went into the work in 1927, those who had never heard the truth before they were divorced and remarried were received into fellowship and baptized.  The older workers felt that they didn't know anything about the truth when they divorced and remarried and they did it in ignorance.  We workers leave that in God's hands and we know that He will take care of it in His time and way.  We workers do take a definite stand when people who decided to serve the Lord are divorced and remarried.  We have an outline on this and if anyone wishes one, we can give it to you to study.

 

WHAT ABOUT ACCEPTING INVITATIONS TO A NEIGHBOR'S OR RELATIVE'S HOME TO WATCH CERTAIN PROGRAMS ON TV?  We feel very sorry for any person who likes to do this, as the scripture teaches us in I John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

 

COULD PREACHING AGAINST DRESS, HAIR AND STEREOS AT CONVENTION AND SPECIAL MEETINGS BE CHANGED TO SPEAKING INDIVIDUALLY TO ANY WHO ARE DOING WRONG?  WE HAVE WONDERED AT THE HELPFULNESS OF SPEAKING ABOUT THESE THINGS TO STRANGERS LISTENING IN, AND IF IT HAS PROVEN A GOOD THING TO DO?  Our conventions and special meetings are for our people and if you bring strangers, they are welcome.  If what is spoken about dress, hair and stereos is spoken in the Spirit, it is always helpful to our people and is helpful to strangers.  In our gospel meetings when we speak the truth of the gospel, many strangers are offended, as they were in Jesus' day.

 

ARE WE AS ELDERS SUPPOSED TO ADVISE OUR CHURCH ABOUT THE CONCLUSION COME TO AND THE RESULTS OF THIS MEETING?  Yes, you can feel free to speak to all what has been discussed here.

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT MEN WEAR TIES TO THE SUNDAY MORNING MEETING?  It is very becoming in our country to wear a tie to special gatherings and we feel it is becoming for us to wear a tie when we gather before the Lord, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

 

SHOULD FLOWERS (OR A GIFT) BE SENT TO A FUNERAL FROM A CHURCH (OR INDIVIDUAL) WHEN WE KNOW THERE WILL BE AN EXCESS OF FLOWERS AT THE FUNERAL?  We don't mind a few flowers at a funeral, but it doesn't become our fellowship to overdo in buying flowers.  We don't like to see the church take up collections for them.  We don't like to see a collection taken up for anything.  In the Bible days, I Corinthians 16, it wasn't convenient to send help to those poor saints at Jerusalem, as it would be today.  The only way to send it was to choose certain men to take it, as it wasn't safe for one or two persons to go by themselves.  They chose certain people to take it to Jerusalem and give it to the saints.  When a collection is taken up, oftentimes people who can't afford to give feel obligated to give anyway.  Instead of buying flowers, it would be good to give the people five or ten dollars to help pay the expenses of the funeral.

 

SHOULD SAINTS NOTIFY THE PEOPLE IN WHOSE HOME THE MEETING IS HELD IF THEY ARE GOING TO BE ABSENT?  It would be very thoughtful of the saints to notify those in the meeting home if they are going to be absent.

 

SHOULD GOD'S PEOPLE GO TO PLACES OF ENTERTAINMENT SUCH AS DISNEYLAND, KNOTT'S BERRY FARM, CIRCUSES, ICE FOLLIES, ROSE BOWL PARADE, SPORTS EVENTS, ETC.?  If we are walking in the Spirit or being guided by the Holy Spirit, we will feel very uncomfortable in a place of worldly entertainment, and it would be best to heed the warning of the Spirit.  When I was young, I loved sports, and after I decided, the Holy Spirit moved me to give them up completely.  Any money I had spent going to the games, I wanted to use for the extension of God's Kingdom.  The Holy Spirit taught me this, as it would have been selfish for me to spend money for my own entertainment when I could help in the work of the Lord.  When you introduce children into sports, it is just an avenue that starts them out into the world.  The sport world, the pleasure world, the music world, the political world, the financial world will never encourage people to serve the Lord.

 

God would like to choose out of the world a people for His Name.  Galatians 1:4, "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father."  Sometimes we don't think the world is so evil until we are ensnared.  There have been a few places I have gone and something inside my heart told me I shouldn't be there and I never went back.  We have a wonderful hymn in our hymnbook, #43, "Take the world, but give me Jesus, all it's joys are but a name; but His love abideth ever, through eternal years the same."

 

We pray that the meeting we have had here will unite our hearts in a bond of fellowship that will enable us to work together in harmony for the extending of God's great Kingdom.  Let us try to feed and protect the precious flock of God so that they can have a better inheritance in Christ.  It is an eternal inheritance and when life is over, we will enjoy the inheritance in a fuller measure.