Tony Elder

Tony Elder

Last weekend I was planning to watch one of the big rivalry college football games in our area of the country. However, as the day approached, it became clear that I would be occupied elsewhere. Instead of spending my afternoon in front of a TV set, I was standing in an ICU room in a hospital closely watching another monitor – one that showed the fading vital signs of a patient. I was present with a family as they dealt with the agony of saying goodbye to a loved one as he left this world and entered eternity.

The big game was not completely out of the minds of those gathered in that room. It was occasionally mentioned, especially in light of a couple of the family members who were each wearing clothing of opposing teams. But that heralded sporting contest took a back seat to the life-and-death issues playing out in that hospital. The situation before us reminded us of what was really important in life. I came away from the afternoon not feeling like I had missed anything through not being able to watch the ballgame, but thankful that I hadn’t missed the opportunity to share those precious moments with a grieving family as they entrusted their loved one into the caring hands of his Heavenly Father.

Sometimes I fear that many of us don’t have our priorities in proper order. We’re ignoring the more vital issues of our day while playing games – focusing on activities and topics which can seem so important at times, but which pale in comparison to the weightier matters going on in our world today. There are life-and-death issues playing out around us and we’re busy playing our normal games – whether it’s the activities much of the rest of the world deems important and focuses on or whether it’s religious games being played out in churches and among those who call themselves Christians.

I don’t believe I’m exaggerating the conditions of our times and allowing that perspective to transform me into a wild-eyed alarmist. Others seem to be waking up to the seriousness of our situation and the potentially dire prospects for the future. Another writer in this newspaper recently concluded his column by suggesting that we are witnessing the decline of civilization as we know it. Shouldn’t that concern us? Our world, our society, our nation, and even the church all seem to be seriously-ill patients with fading vital signs due largely to our turning away from God, His Word, and Christian values. Spiritually, much of our world and religious world are on life support.

I’m not suggesting that we need to sell our possessions and go to some mountaintop to wait for Jesus’ return. I’m not even encouraging us to forsake our normal activities or forget about such events as big college football games. However, we do need to check our priorities. In the midst of all the busy-ness of our lives we need to keep in mind what’s really important. There are lost souls around us who need Jesus. There are people who are being deceived by false teachings who need to hear the truth. There are churches which are busy with good activities being generated strictly through well-intentioned human effort, but which are suffering from a deadness due to the absence of the Holy Spirit and the supernatural power of God.

The world as we know it, along with the freedoms we have enjoyed as Christians in this nation, are being threatened. As we hear the heartbeat of our nation growing weaker and the breathing of the church becoming shallower, we need to be earnestly praying, repenting and seeking wisdom from God and the fullness of His Spirit for the work we need to be doing.

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The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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