She was a nurse. She quit the other day. It was not due to her refusing to be vaccinated or a problem with her pay. It was her patients that made her quit. The story goes there was this guy who was dealing with Covid, and he was having lung problems. He ended up having a lung transplant. The doctors and nurses watched this man very carefully, especially this one nurse. She really cared for her patients. As this man was recovering, he would sneak out of the hospital and go to the liquor store. He would get drunk and come back to the hospital at night, cold, wheezing, and coughing. He was a mess.
This nurse would rush to his aid, get the oxygen, and nurse him, even going over her eight-hour shift. She was tired, she had back problems, her leg muscles were all knotted up. Standing sixteen hours will do that to you. But finally, she nursed this man back to health, he was breathing again, she takes away the oxygen, and then there he went back to the liquor store. This happened over and over, with different patients.
So, at the end of her shift one night she had enough; she finally quit. Why should I care? They don’t care! Let them die she said. The next morning, she goes to work.[i]
Then there is this preacher. He quit too. It wasn’t because of a bad sermon he preached, or even an elders’ meeting that did not go so well. It was the church members who made him quit. The story goes that each Sunday he would do his very best to present the word of God. He would study for hours each week to prepare his sermons, “to rightly divide the word of truth.” He would sometimes spend hours studying the Bible with people, some who wanted to become a Christian, others who were Christians but needed more teaching. At the conclusion of each sermon and Bible study, he heard the same thing, “thank you, preacher,” or “great lesson, preacher.” As the person would go back into the world, being mean, unforgiving, sleeping around, drinking, using profanity, and every other sin one can think of.
Didn’t they listen to anything I shared from God’s word? He would say to himself. Then Sunday came; again. There were the people again, coming in late, weary from their wrongdoings, bad attitudes, and blatant disregard for spiritual things. They had not changed from the week before or even the weeks before of Biblical preaching. They had not repented, changed, or corrected their lives at all. This happened week after week. Like the Apostle Paul, this preacher carried the daily pressure of the church (2 Cor. 11:28). He was tired emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Yet, the preacher mustered his strength once again as he mounted the pulpit.
He got through the sermons on this Sunday, but that night he was at his “wit's end”; the “final straw had been drawn”; he quit. He finally quit. Why should I care? They don’t care! They don’t listen! They don’t repent! Let them die in their sins he said.
The next morning, he goes to work.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
i Adapted from a story by Fred B. Craddock (Craddock Stories, P.41)
Have you ever invited someone to a party or other event and your invitation was ignored? Or worse yet someone made an excuse for not being there and you later found out that they did not really want to come to your event, to begin with? How did this make you feel? Now, I think we all know and understand that things come up, and things happen; but it is very hurtful when someone excuses themselves because they simply do not want to participate.
One example of this is found In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus tells a parable about A king who is hosting a wedding banquet for his son. The king’s servants were sent to all those who were invited to come, but those invited refused to come to the banquet by making all kinds of excuses. Someone has said, “excuses are defined as a "dressed up lie." This seems to be true for the people invited to the banquet because they were more concerned with their possessions and pursuits (farms, business, etc.), while others mistreated the servants and killed them. They simply did not care about the king, his son, his servants, or the invitation.
One commentator stated, “In the East, as elsewhere, it is expected that invited guests will accept a royal invitation as a matter of duty. It is also expected that wedding guests will come with appropriate gifts – expensive gifts. Refusal to attend the wedding conveys the message that the king’s son is not worthy of a gift, that the guest do not approve of the marriage, and that they no longer render allegiance to the king.” (Kistemaker, p. 93). Therefore, the king takes such forceful actions against those who made excuses for not coming to the wedding banquet. The king in Jesus’ parable then sends out the invitation again to everyone along the highways and byways.
Jesus’ point is that the Jews, the first group to be invited rejected God’s invitation by making excuses and refusing to accept Him as the Messiah. The second group is the Gentiles.
This parable is a reminder that God repeatedly calls people to follow Christ, to worship Him, to be dedicated to serving Him, to fellowship, to live godly lives, and to deepening our relationship with Him but if we make excuses for not doing so, the time of grace will end for us.
I am amazed how many times people who say they are willing and ready to go to heaven, say they love Jesus, and may even serve as church leaders, sometimes make excuses for not serving the Lord.
According to one list in Bits & Pieces, November 1989, p. 18. The Top Ten Most Used Excuse are 1. I forgot. 2. No one told me to go ahead. 3. I didn't think it was that important. 4. Wait until the boss comes back and ask him. 5. I didn't know you were in a hurry for it. 6. That's the way we've always done it. 7. That's not in my department. 8. How was I to know this was different? 9. I'm waiting for an O.K. and 10. That's his job--not mine.
How many of these excuses have you heard? More importantly how many of these have you used?
The next time you are called upon to serve the Lord or you see a job that needs to be completed in the church and are tempted to make an excuse, remember in the parable in Matthew 14 that it did not fare well for those who made excuses, and neither will we if we continue to make excuses for not following the Lord. God’s word has already told us what we need to do, may we do it without excuse. Think about it and do! By Mark T. Tonkery
The new minister in a small town spent the first four days calling on all the members, trying to get them to come to his first service. He failed. They didn’t come. So he placed a notice in the local newspaper stating that, since the church was dead, it was his duty to give it an appropriate burial. The funeral was to be held at 2 o’clock on the following Sunday.
Morbidly curious, the whole town turned out. In front of the pulpit, they saw a coffin covered with flowers. The minister read the obituary and delivered a eulogy. Then he invited the congregation to step forward and pay their respects to the departed. The long line filed by. Each one looked into the casket and then turned away with a sheepish guilty look. In the coffin was a large mirror, tilted at just the right angle so that anyone who looked would see himself.
No doubt the story is apocryphal [fictional]—No preacher would dare to do it. But I know a few preachers who would like to do it and quite a few folks for whom it might be appropriate.
-Bulletin Digest via Marion, IL-
On August 28, 2021, wonderful tributes were made to a man who impacted thousands of people for good and for God. Jack Zorn was the man who was memorialized that day with glory to the God that he served.
One of the people who spoke at Dr. Zorn’s funeral was a distinguished African American man in uniform. The uniformed man may not have been known by many in attendance at the funeral, but this man knew and deeply appreciated Dr. Zorn. He shared that day and also on Facebook how Dr. Zorn had impacted his life. Here is his Facebook post:
I've always wanted to be an aviator since age six… When I was about 13, I would ride my bicycle from Mobile Hwy to Dannelly Field Airport [in Montgomery, AL] just to hang on the gate all day long watching F-4 Phantoms takeoff and land. One day a wonderful man named Dr. Jack Zorn (Lads to Leaders founder) saw me hanging around the fence at Montgomery Aviation and asked if I wanted to come inside and get a close up of his Cessna 182 (N1444S). Of course I accepted because I had never seen the inside of a cockpit up close. Later he received permission from my mother and we actually went flying on several occasions. I initially got in trouble because my mother didn't know her son was riding a bicycle on Highway 80 chasing F-4's, but she knew my passion. I thank the Lord for allowing our paths to cross, and I pray that he knows that it was an ordained meeting that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I now pay it forward to the youth in hopes that I may impact a young life the same way he impacted mine. I will forever miss him! To God be the glory!
Thomas Day, First Officer
ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI, IGI
Because of Dr. Zorn’s encouragement, Thomas Day fulfilled his dream of becoming an airplane pilot.
A good friend of mine, Steve Phillips, shared Day’s Facebook post on his page. Dr. Zorn’s daughter, Rhonda Fernandez, posted a comment thanking Steve for sharing the information and included these words of reflection: “[I’m] so proud of Daddy. [Here was] a little boy – many days a week for a very long period of time [with] his nose in the chain link fence, invisible to all except Daddy.”
That young teen, Thomas Day, is forever grateful that Dr. Zorn noticed him, befriended him, and encouraged him to fulfill his dreams.
Dr. Zorn “noticed” many young people throughout his life and encouraged them to become Christians and leaders in the church. By his example, his influence, and the Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes Program that he began, my children, many children at Creekwood Church of Christ, and thousands of children throughout the world have been impacted and challenged to become Christian leaders.
I think Dr. Zorn “noticed” people because every soul is important to God. Every person has sinned (Romans 3:23) and desperately needs a Savior. God loves every person so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
Dear reader, God has “noticed” you and wants to save you for an eternity. Won’t you accept His loving offer by trusting and obeying Jesus?
-- David A. Sargent
P.S. With love, appreciation, and admiration for Dr. Jack Zorn (1934-2021) for his love for God, Jesus, the Word of God, and for his passion to teach and train young people to become Christian leaders.
David A. Sargent, Minister
Church of Christ at Creekwood
1901 Schillinger Rd. S.
Mobile, Alabama 36695
Archived issues of Living Water can be viewed and accessed from our website at:
Imagine what you and I would miss if we were to move from our country to any of the world's poorest countries… like Laos, Paraguay, Chad, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh. Can you imagine it? Someone has shared the following:
·Your home would be approximately as large as an American garage if you had a home.
·Your family wardrobe would consist of one outfit per person, shoes for the head of the family and no shoes and few worn garments make up the rest of your wardrobe.
·In your pantry, if you had food you'd probably have dried meat and a few vegetables a little flour, salt and sugar, moldy potatoes, dried beans, onions only rice dried meat, vegetables, powdered milk.
When reading this, our worries are a little less worrisome, our cares are not as concerning and our wants are humbled and our needs are more focused.
When comparing our lives to others we are very blessed. We have food to spare and even throw away, we have a wide selection of clothing and shoes. Our homes are warm and our cars are too! Then when it comes to the church we are even more blessed, we have many wonderful people we worship with, talented people that lead our worship and teach our Bible classes. We can look at our bulletin and bulletin boards around the building and there are many opportunities to continue to grow in our faith and to fellowship with other Christians.
With all these comforts and eases it is easy to take for granted the blessing we receive.
But we have these blessings for a reason. They are there to remind us that God is good and that he has provided for us.
Ezekiel 34:26- 31 states, “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing, and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen anymore. Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord GOD.”
We often sing the hymn “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God hath done!” Have you ever really counted your blessings and really see what God has done for us?
The next time you start to criticize, grumble, or complain remember how blessed you really are! Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery