"I DON'T believe in setting goals.This may hinder the work of God. To do this is only to impress men, and this is a false motivation."
The author of this philosophical gem is a Christian minister. However, in this expression he has completely ignored the real causes of his own hesitancy. The simple fact is he is afraid. Yes, afraid to set a goal because he might not reach it. This in his mind would occasion "loss of face," but this can only happen when one sets a goal to impress someone else. But there are righteous motives for setting goals: (1) To heighten one's own expectation of the blessings of God. This necessitates setting the goal well beyond previous achievements. (2) In highway travel a man sets for himself a goal each day in terms of the miles he expects to travel. This goes a long way in determining his pace and the frequency of stops. (3) It will inspire others. You will notice the use of the word "inspire" rather than "impress" for selfish purposes. No man is an island, no man walks alone. It is a fact that a minister with consecrated, unselfish high objectives may lead others to aspire and more fervently press toward the fulfillment of their goals.
There is a valid objection to competition in spiritual exercise. Some have sprinkled "holy water" on the competitive exercise by calling it "godly competition." There is little godliness in any form of competition in matters spiritual that involves another human being. It is this that engenders jealousy and infrequently unprincipled procedures in the accomplishment of one's task, but there is nothing wrong with competition with one's self, to seek in each succeeding year to improve on the previous years' results. I well know that the individual minister must police his motives in this matter, and when the apparent success of a brother exceeds one's own, the tendency to depreciate must be diligently resisted through prayer and the study of the Word of God. These impulses are not always the product of goal setting. "Of goals and souls we must safely conclude that the setting of goals for the winning of souls is a royal aspiration as long as man is in competition with himself. And if in the process he exceeds all others, so let it be. Amen."
E. E. C.
WILL THE DEACONS PLEASE STAND
PAUL'S counsel concerning worship in the churches is clear and emphatic: "Let all things be done decently and in order." "Order is the first law of heaven" we are told. Mere ritual can and often does degenerate into lifeless form. But a well-ordered, Spirit-filled, worship service uplifts the congregation and promotes spiritual growth. What we say as leaders of worship and what we leave unsaid are equally important.
At a church we recently visited we were deeply impressed by the smooth, quiet order and grace that characterized all that happened. Shakespeare's statement, "Art is known by the little bit," was certainly true that day. One small example will indicate what we mean by "quiet order." When the time came for the offering to be received, the elder said something like this: "What a joy it is to express our love to the Lord by our tithes and offerings. Let us ask His blessing on this part of our worship." At that precise moment the deacons, seated in various places, stood to their feet. Then the customary brief prayer was offered. Those men did not have to be asked to stand; they knew. As observers it seemed to us that the word "worship" at the end of the elder's brief prayer gave them their cue. In any case they knew when to rise, and all acted quietly. It seems a bit juvenile to have to say: "Will the deacons please stand." Deacons are intelligent men, chosen because they are capable of leadership. Why should they have to be asked to stand as if they were children?
Every other part of that worship service was dignified and well ordered, revealing wise and efficient planning. The counsel of the Lord had real meaning that day. "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools. . . . Therefore let thy words be few" (Eccl. 5:1, 2). Remember, every unnecessary word or act tends to destroy the true spirit of worship.
R. A. A.
HOW TO DETECT COUNTERFEITS
A COUNTERFEIT-MONEY maker never prints a bill with his own name on it. He invariably endorses his fake money with the true name of authority. Satan shrewdly does the same. His errors are always put forth in God's name. To discern between truth and error, right and wrong, demands not only a careful, intellectual scrutiny of every religious concept but a sensitized life resulting from an intimate union with God. This union can be had only by having God, His doctrines, and ourselves merged into one. "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, bath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9). The one with this experience detects error regardless of whose name is signed to it.
J. R. S.