Many of the suggestions presented in our monthly “Christian Living” articles may be used by individuals, families, or within the context of local churches. These articles are designed to inform and inspire Christians to celebrate their Christian heritage and provide means of spiritual growth. Parents and grandparents may employ some or all of these suggestions in developing a family altar and cultivating a Christian home. Local church leaders will readily recognize suggestions that may be incorporated into the life of their respective congregations.
What is true of gardening is also true of every level of spiritual life: “What we will not labor to cultivate will soon be taken over by weeds.” It is work to maintain the family altar; it is work to have a Christian home. It is also work to cultivate a godly church, and if we are unwilling to diligently labor to maintain a godly life, family, and church, weeds will soon strangle the spiritual life of each!
March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The equivalent of March in the Southern Hemisphere is September, and in the Northern Hemisphere, March 1st is the beginning of the meteorological spring.
March receives its name from ancient Rome when it was the first month of the year and was called Martius, being derived from Mars or Ares, the Greek god of war. In Mediterranean Rome, March was the first month of spring and was regarded as the logical period to begin military campaigns.
The name of this month, “March,” and its pagan origin should cause ardent Christians to re-examine the application of their faith to every-day life. The Greeks and Romans did not hesitate to unite their pagan faith to every aspect of life, including the months of the year. As the Greeks and Romans sought to paganize all of life, let true believers seek to Christianize all aspects of personal, ecclesiastical, and social life. Such an effort is a true civilizing influence.
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Observance: February or soon after
Like the vast majority of America’s Founding Fathers, the great American statesman, Daniel Webster, believed in the importance of the distribution and reading of Christian literature. Webster once wrote the following concerning the importance of good Christian materials:
If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, then error will be. If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.
Tragically, many Christian homes and churches sense little or no obligation to inspire their families or church members with quality Christian materials. As a result, our homes and churches exercise comparatively little spiritual, intellectual, and moral influence. But the month of February or March is a good opportunity to focus attention upon the importance of good Christian literature and audio and video resources.
In the local church, each Sunday morning during the month, one previously selected member of the congregation may take several minutes to suggest important works that address current issues of interest, doctrinal truths of timeless value, historical insight, or other subjects of importance to the family or congregation. Frequently laity have special interests and expertise that may be drawn upon to inform, instruct, and inspire the entire congregation. To ensure that the suggested reading materials are appropriate, the pastor or other designated individual should review them.
In recent decades, subscription drives for denominational periodicals have greatly diminished. Local churches and pastors should be earnest supporters of sincere efforts to circulate materials that are beneficial to personal spiritual growth, the devotional life of the family, and the advocacy of doctrinal and church distinctives.See our basic list of suggested reading material in this article: Twelve Books Every Christian Should Read.
Observance: Late winter or early spring
The Lord has promised that his Word would not return unto Him void or without influence. Two times a year may be established to emphasize the memorization of Scripture, one of which being in February. Families should be encouraged to continue the practice of biblical memorization in their devotional exercises. However, denominational and local churches should systematically identify times when the special emphasis is placed upon biblical memorization. Though children are frequently the objects of such efforts, adults should not be left out of consideration. Too frequently adults fail to commit the Word of God to memory and are ill-equipped to address moral, spiritual, political, and other issues as they arise in day-to-day life. Trusting Scripture to memory will equip believers to respond appropriately to trials and temptations and ensure spiritual victory as they pass through these experiences.One of the best resources for children and adult memorization is Scripture Memory Fellowship. Click this box to navigate to their site.
Observance: Begins first Sunday in September
Robert Raikes is often credited with having started the Sunday School movement, but it was British Methodist Hannah Ball, a native of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England, who was the first to initiate a Sunday school in 1769.
Christian homes are provided with an example of the necessity of Christian education in the institution of the Sunday school in local churches. Most churches begin a new Sunday School year on the first Sunday in September which continues throughout the year on a quarterly basis (September, December, March, and June). Christian homes should recognize the need to establish the discipline of Christian education, allowing the Sunday school in the local church to remind Christian homes of this important discipline. Allow the beginning of September to remind you of the need to develop Christian education in your heart and home throughout the year, and develop a plan for Christian education for your home!
Observance: On or before March 17
St. Patrick was one of the greatest missionaries of the Christian Church. Captured as a young man, Patrick was taken to Ireland where he served his master by tending his swine. After several years, Patrick escaped his bonds of slavery and managed to find his way back home, which is present-day England. Before long, Patrick received a call to return to the land of his captors as a missionary of Christ. Obedient to the leading of GodÕs Spirit, he returned to Ireland to conduct an exemplary ministry. As a result, the British Isles and mainland Europe were greatly influenced by the spiritual descendants of Patrick.
As is true for many of the Apostles, Church history has failed to provide extensive details about many of the early Church’s greatest heroes. St. Patrick is among those we wish we were provided with more details concerning his life and ministry, but what is known concerning him evokes deep admiration and respect. Because of the inclination in the human heart to make idols out of individuals and objects, there can be little doubt that God intentionally removed unnecessary obstacles to right worship, and, therefore, obscured detailed information concerning the Churches earliest and most notable leaders. What remains concerning Patrick, however, is sufficient to elicit admiration and encouragement for the contemporary believer.Please click the box to navigate to our podcast and article on the life of Patrick.
Observance: Bishop Thomas Ken passed away on March 19, 1711
Though the name, Thomas Ken, may not be immediately recognized by most Christians, his Doxology is widely known and sung throughout Christendom. As a Christian and Anglican Bishop, Ken should also be remembered for his courageous moral stand against the immoral King Charles II. Where Christian leaders fail to take a stand for what is right, church and society greatly suffer under the withering onslaught of mediocrity and spiritual death. Bishop Ken died on March 19, 1711 in the midst of very humble circumstances because of his stand for Christ.Click this box to navigate to our article on Bishop Thomas Ken: Standing Against the King.
Observance: Holy Week
Two special services are offered for use during Holy Week, Service of the Cross and Tenebrae: A Service of Darkness. Though it is unlikely that both services would be used in any single year, they are presented below for the consideration of pastors and their congregations.
The Service of the Cross may become a powerful Maundy Thursday or Good Friday tradition within your church. As members of the congregation enter the place of worship, they are given a worship folder with a square nail tethered to a piece of paper. The plan of salvation is artfully related through a series of reading. Then, worshippers are instructed to write on the paper any sin or sorrow which should be given to the Lord, and at the appointed time in the service, they are invited to drive their nails in a place of their choosing on the cross placed at the front of the sanctuary. This simple act is intended to express contrition and repentance for sin and a confidence that the cross of Christ was sufficient to bear the sins and sorrows of the entire world. The impression of hammers striking the nails is a very sobering one. Served with the elements of the Lord’s Supper, this service will live long in the hearts of worshippers. The service, including communion, is about an hour in length.
Observance: Holy Week
In far too many churches, the frenetic personal schedules of many believers does not make allowance for participation in meaningful and symbolic dramatic presentations. This fact often robs the individual and congregation of some of the most important moments in personal and collective worship. One of the ways to reverse this trend and achieve a balance between personal schedules and meaningful drama in the church is through scripted dramatic presentations, and the Easter season provides opportunity that is seldom equaled and never excelled in the Church year.
A Tenebrae Service is an attempt to dramatize the closing days of ChristÕs ministry on earth leading up to and including the events of Good Friday. This service begins in light, commemorating the significant events of ChristÕs movement toward the cross, and culminates in darkness expressive of the extinguishing of the physical life of the Messiah of the world, Jesus Christ. Few experiences bring the audience to the awareness of the spiritual realities of the Easter season.
First week of March: No cussing/swearing week. See our article, The Christian and Swearing
1789, March 2: Last session of the Continental Congress at Fraunces Tavern is adjourned sine die. Philip Pell of New York was the sole member in attendance
1775, March 23: To avoid interference from Lieutenant-Governor Dunmore and his Royal Marines, the Second Virginia Convention met March 20, 1775 inland at Richmond–in what is now called St. John’s Church–instead of the Capitol in Williamsburg. Delegate Patrick Henry presented resolutions to raise a militia, and to put Virginia in a posture of defense. Henry’s opponents urged caution and patience until the crown replied to Congress’ latest petition for reconciliation.
1857, March: In March 1857, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Dred Scott versus Sandford. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney opined that blacks were not citizens, and derived no rights from the Constitution. Lincoln denounced the decision, alleging it was the product of a conspiracy of Democrats to support the Slave Power. Lincoln argued, “The authors of the Declaration of Independence never intended ‘to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity’, but they ‘did consider all men created equal, equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.”
1861, March 4: Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president.