One of my favorite Bible songs to sing with my children when they were younger was the Days of Creation song. Many of you may recognize today’s title from the verse about Day 4: “Day 4, day, 4: Sun and moon and stars galore!”
At my school, we are gearing up for a very special day involving those elements of God’s universe. Quoting from the website GreatAmericanEclipse.com:
On August 21, 2017, millions of people across the United States will see nature’s most wondrous spectacle — a total eclipse of the Sun. It is a scene of unimaginable beauty; the Moon completely blocks the Sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the Sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky. This is your guide to understand, prepare for, and view this rare celestial event.
I recently attended a training geared toward helping teachers incorporate this great event into the standards they are required to cover. There were amazing and creative ways to help even our youngest students gain knowledge from this event. One of my favorites involved our kindergarteners getting to chart the sun’s position at different times of the day on a panoramic photo of our actual school.
One thing stood out to me in this training that was probably not intended. The presenters kept talking about the rarity of this event and how many different elements have to be precisely in line for this to occur. The moon has to be at an exact distance from the earth in its orbit. The tilt must be perfect. The website I referenced above says it this way: “We on Earth occupy a celestial sweet spot to witness this sight.”
And yet, many of the online videos and scientific sites refer to coincidence. They seem amazed that the universe could randomly and yet perfectly align for this to happen. May I suggest that it’s because it wasn’t random and didn’t “just happen”?!
Design demands a designer and since they were very little, my children have known that the Designer, on Day 4, made the sun and moon and stars galore! To put it in God’s words from Genesis 1:14-19:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
For the record, many of my public school coworkers agree with my sentiments. Parents, make sure your children do, too. I encourage you to look up this August 21, whether you are in the path of totality, as we in Cookeville are, or under the penumbra (partial eclipse). As you look up and view this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime event, remember the Designer who designed it and marvel at His works.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” ~Psalm 19:1
AUTHOR: Amber Tatum
[NOTE: A few weeks ago, I published a version of the following list on Facebook. It received a lot of attention, but I pulled it down due to some people taking over the comments. What follows is a slightly edited version (for grammar, not for content) of that post that I hope will make us all think. –Adam]
Over the past year or so, I have seen a lot of posts by a lot of people condemning brothers in Christ by name; including large numbers who are not even at the same congregation. For some time, I have avoided calling names in the pulpit, in our bulletin, etc. I am not saying it is a sin to do so, but here are six reasons why I have refrained:
Yes, we must deal with false teachers, but maybe we need to spend time in our prayer closets first. Then, maybe we need to deal with them lovingly and face-to-face, instead of trying to shame them on our own personal platforms.
With that in mind, here are some objections that I would like to address as well.
Again, I am not saying it is a sin to mention names. I have friends who do, and I do not condemn them for it. I would venture to say that there is a good chance one of these days I might find it necessary to do so.
So far in my ministry, though, I have avoided such, and I hope the reasons listed above will cause us all to think before we decide to talk about someone–especially someone we’ve never or rarely even met–by writing them up. In our sermons, our classes, our bulletins, and (yes) on our Facebook walls, let’s shine the light of Christ and do our best to talk about issues and doctrines, not people and personalities.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
A wealthy man had a friend who was a good contractor but had been down on his luck. Wanting to do him a favor, the rich man hired his friend with the following stipulations: “Here is $200,000.00. Build me a new home. If you do a good job, I will pay you very well.”
Excited, the contractor went to work. A $200,000.00 fund was a bountiful resource. But the more he thought about it, the more he wanted a part of the money for himself. He began to cut corners – cheap lumber, shoddy plumbing, watered-down cement, and so on. He tried to hide the poorly constructed house with a great paint job. On the outside, everything looked good. He was ready to present the house. When he was all finished, he saved $40,000.00. After putting the extra money in his pocket, he went to drop off the keys to the new homeowner.
When the wealthy man greeted him, a smile of great charity came across his face. He said to the contractor, “Thank you so much for all of your time and efforts. You have done a wonderful job! Now it’s my turn to do something for you. I really don’t need a new house, the one I have is fine. My payment is to give you the house. After all, you built it.”
Proverbs 11:3 says – “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.” Integrity is defined as “honesty, sincerity, completeness, unimpaired condition.” Acting with integrity implies being truthful, thorough, and displaying righteousness which comes from the heart.
Concerning his ministering and teaching Paul wrote by the Spirit to Titus saying, “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:7).
Notice that integrity is expected “in all things.” People who will cheat for a dime will also cheat for more. Therefore, Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is also unjust in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11).
Consider the contractor. He was willing to sacrifice integrity for $40,000.00. It was going to cost much more to fix the house than the money he was able to save. If he would have only built it properly, he could have moved right in. The consequences were simple. He built a house not fit for living in. He built a house that needed to be condemned.
Each and every day you and I are building an eternal home. One day the Lord will come with keys in hand, saying, “Enter into your eternal abode. My payment is to give you this house. After all, you built it!” Makes a person think about how they’re building…
As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, and set me before Your face forever” – Psalm 41:12
AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum
Your children are ___________.
How would you fill in that blank? Better yet; how would you like for others to fill in that blank?
Those of us who are parents (or grandparents) have probably had the experience of somebody filling in that blank for us. It may have been in the course of a conversation. It may have been in some sort of formal setting. It could be almost anywhere. It could be almost any time.
Somebody will walk up to us, drop us a note, send a text, call us on the phone, or in some way communicate to us what his or her opinion is of our children. We may have tears after that experience.
They may be tears of anger. Some inconsiderate and unfeeling person has said something to us that did not help at all. In fact, it seemed as though their only intention was to hurt.
Because I have been hurt, the tears may have been tears of pain. To be sure, the criticism that caused the hurt may have been totally justified. It still hurts when I learn that my child has done or said something that goes against everything I’ve tried to instill in him or her.
The tears may be tears of sorrow. Along with the hurt (and maybe the anger), I may feel genuine sorrow because of what my child has done or said. I may also be moved to tears for how the words, deeds, or lifestyle has affected my child. He or she may be in a situation and/or an environment that is nowhere near optimal.
Of course, there is another possibility. I could hear something about my child that brings tears of joy!
Here is where the real soul-searching begins. What could be said about your child that would cause you to shed tears of joy? What word would you put in that blank that would accomplish that?
May I suggest a few that would do that for a lot of people?
May I suggest a word that is not on that list? May I also suggest that it takes a lot of hard work on the part of parents? May I further suggest that the reason that this is not said to more parents about more children is that far too many parents are entirely too concerned about some of the “blank fillers” I’ve already suggested?
Along with all of those suggestions, it must be acknowledged that children do not come with guarantees. All of us know godly, devoted parents who worked diligently and prayerfully to “…bring (their children) up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This is not being written as any sort of blanket indictment of parents who cannot hear the word that I have in mind.
What I am trying to suggest is that there will, indeed, be tears of anger, pain, and sorrow in every family. What I am suggesting is that those tears will not compare to the tears of joy if somebody can truthfully say –
Your children are faithful.
AUTHOR: Jim Faughn
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On release date for this episode, Adam and Leah’s homeschool year is ending. So, they take this episode to catch you up on what is going on in their lives, as well as some of the ups and downs of homeschooling through the 2016-2017 year. We hope you enjoy their interaction.
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Yay! It’s strawberry picking time here in Kentucky. I love this time of year for lots of reasons, but one of my favorite reasons is because I love strawberries. While I’m not making pies these days because of a different eating plan, I still use this recipe for guests and have many fond memories of making and taking this pie to potlucks and other gatherings. I hope you enjoy it!
1 cup water
½ to ¾ cup sugar
2 and ½ Tbsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 and ½ Tbsp strawberry gelatin (sugar free doesn’t work)
Drop of red food coloring (optional)
3 to 4 cups of washed strawberries (sliced if you prefer)
1 baked pie crust
Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Pour in the cup of water and mix thoroughly. Put in microwave and cook for 1 minute. Stir. Continue to cook at 30 second intervals until it is thickened.
Add strawberry gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add coloring if you choose.
Let cool on the kitchen counter. When cool, fold in your strawberries and pour into a 9-inch baked pie crust.
Chill until congealed and then serve with fresh whipped cream.
YUM!!! Hope you enjoy this easy strawberry pie!
To Download or Print a Free Copy of the Recipe, Click the Image Below
Recently, I preached a sermon on church discipline. No, it was not because the elders asked me to, nor because the congregation was preparing to withdraw fellowship from anyone (at least, not so far as I know). Instead, it was to remind people of the context in which Jesus famously stated, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).
That’s right. It wasn’t in the context of worshiping in a hotel room while on vacation. It was about those difficult conversations that must take place with erring brothers and sisters.
However, when we consider the process of church discipline, it is easy to look at the “step-by-step” process and forget that there is a step that should be in place before the process ever begins.
Jesus made it clear in Matthew 18:15-20 what the process should look like. Paul would reiterate it in 1 Corinthians 5 and elsewhere. We know this is a Biblical subject, even if it is one that is often overlooked.
Basically, the process is to go to one who has sinned against you one-on-one, seeking to restore him or her. If that does not work, you take witnesses (notice: not “yes-men!”) with the same intention: that of restoration.
If that difficult step does not work, then–and only then–should the church assembly be made aware of the situation, and it should seek restoration as a body of believers.
All along the way, the goal is restoration. The constant prayer should be that the “next step” never has to be taken, because the one who has sin in his or her life has repented and returned to the Lord.
But, should these steps not work, Jesus said, “And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17). Paul added that are “not even to eat with such a one” (1 Corinthians 5:11). In other words, any contact we have with this person should be toward restoration; never mere social activities that express brotherhood or open fellowship.
That’s the process. It is difficult, but it is straightforward.
In all of this, though, there is a first step that should take place before the process ever begins.
In reality, it is not a “first step,” because it is something that must be in place for church discipline to be effective.
What is it?
The church must be such a strong and loving fellowship that the one who has sinned has something to miss!
If the church is filled with fussing, feuding, and infighting, why would anyone want to return to that?
When these conversations occur with one who has sinned, if they are filled with rancor and cruelty, instead of love and clear Bible teaching, why would someone wish to return?
If no one tried to welcome that “one new guy” who looks a little different, why would he return when efforts are made?
Church discipline works, when we follow God’s plan, that is. It is not out-dated. It is not a relic of past days. It is a Biblical command, just as much as baptism and the Lord’s supper are commands to be obeyed.
But step one of the process begins long before a willful sin is committed. It starts with every member seeking to make the congregation a loving family, so that no one would ever want to fall away or leave.
When sin does occur, and the process of church discipline must take place, love overflows. That’s right: church discipline is a loving act when done properly.
There is a love for God and His Word that is expressed in obedience to His plan for church discipline. Is following this plan easy? Of course not! (Which is why, by the way, Jesus promised to be with those who are in these conversations in Matthew 18:20). But we love God so much that we will follow His plan, no matter what.
There is a love for the one who has sinned. Love does not excuse nor overlook sin. Instead, love reaches out and seeks to restore and correct through Biblical instruction and encouragement.
And there is love among the whole congregation. We must support one another through the process, and we must be such a loving place that the one who is in the wrong desires that fellowship and family atmosphere again.
That…not a one-on-one conversation…is step one in church discipline. Because it is what should be in place before the process ever starts.
Is it found where you are?
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
Why do you go to work each week? Is it because you like your job? If so, that makes the job somewhat easier. Hopefully, we can all find a vocation that we enjoy. Is the fact that you like your job enough to satisfy you? Do you work because you want to keep busy and you don’t want to be lazy or bored? Or do you work to get paid?
Ah, there it is! The truth comes out! We might like our job and we may be glad that we have something to do but at the end of the week, we need a paycheck because that is how the world works. We work to earn a wage. We need the money so that we can provide for ourselves and our families.
Well, guess what? I have good news! There is work out there for you to do that you can enjoy without getting paid. In fact, we might not even call it work at all. No, it’s not volunteering, like we might do through some type of community service. We all know that being involved in an effort like that can be rewarding because we are serving others and helping those who are in need. But in a sense we are still working to get paid when we volunteer to do community service – we are paid with the feeling we get when others are encouraged or blessed by our activity.
But there is a work that you can enjoy knowing that you are not going to receive anything at all. I am talking about doing something in the name of Christ. Some people might refer to this as Christians doing “good works.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, for example, Jesus discussed being salt and light in the world so that people might see our good works and glorify the Father (Matt. 5:14-16). There are works to do in the kingdom of God. They are works that build up the church, spread the gospel to the world, and show obedience to the Lord. Throughout the New Testament, we can see the church was involved in these kinds of works (Eph. 2:10).
But here is what I want to point out about the work you do for Christ. It doesn’t pay anything. If it did, then we could be saved by works. But we are NOT saved by works (Eph. 2:9). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). We are saved when we access God’s grace by obedience to the gospel as we repent and are immersed in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). But there is absolutely no work involved in our salvation. The work we do comes on the other side of the cross. And God is not dependent on our works as if He needed anything (Acts 17:25). But we serve Him regardless because we are motivated by what he has already done for us.
You see, when you understand what Christ did for you on the cross you will never again work in the kingdom to get paid. You will work because you love God. You will enjoy the work because when work is motivated by love it ceases to feel like work – instead it is simply an act of celebration for the way the love of Christ makes you feel. And with that type of motivation – any act of service becomes a blessing – but it is still absent of being a wage. Salvation was given at no cost to humanity. Loving obedience to Christ is simply the natural response to the perfect love and will of God.
So Christian, get out there and work for the Lord (Col. 3:17)! And remember, when it comes to being a part of the church, we are not working to get paid. We are working because Jesus paid.
“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20
AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum
It was my privilege to attend the Lads to Leaders convention in Nashville not long ago. It provided an all too rare opportunity (in my mind) for all of our family to be together. Between Donna and me, we were able to see all five of our grandchildren as they participated in various activities.
While Lads to Leaders was treasured by us as a special family time, it also proved to be a time of spiritual growth and renewal. What a blessing it was to see so many young people use their considerable talents in various avenues of service to the Lord and His people! What an experience it was to worship on Sunday morning with what was estimated to be about 6,000 other Christians! What an encouragement it was to hear some young men preach to that many people and to do such a wonderful job!
The thoughts that are becoming the words I am typing now began to germinate as I heard one of those young men speak. During his presentation, he quoted 1 Corinthians 14:33. I will reproduce that verse here from two different translations:
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints (KJV).
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints (ESV).
There are many others who know much more than I do about the original languages of the Bible and the various sources/manuscripts from which we have various translations. I will leave it to them to discuss whether “author” or “God” is the best translation in the opening thought conveyed in this verse.
It is not that part of the verse that has me wondering. I think that it is very clear that peace is from God, while confusion is not. If this verse does not make that clear, there are many, many other passages which do.
What has me wondering is the last part of that verse. There is no way of knowing how many times I have read that verse. There is no way of knowing how many times I have used it myself in sermons, Bible classes, etc.
However, it was not until I heard that young man quote it on that particular Sunday morning, that I really began to wonder. I haven’t stopped wondering yet. I may never stop wondering.
Please look at the verse again. Read it slowly. Read it again. Let it sink in.
Then, ask yourself a couple of questions that I wondered about when I heard the young man quote the verse and have been wondering about ever since:
How much confusion does there have to be in order for the Lord to no longer view a group of people as “…a church of the saints?”
If an atmosphere of peace is found in “all the churches of the saints,” what is the identity of a church that is known for rancor, disharmony, etc.?
I may never satisfy my curiosity about those questions (and others very similar to them). I have already spent a great deal of time wondering about the answers to them. I could easily go to my grave still wondering about all of the implications of 1 Corinthians 14:33.
While I will probably still spend time wondering about that verse, there is something else on which I need to focus and on which I need to spend my time. I’m praying that all who read these words will join me in that effort.
It seems to me that my individual effort and our combined effort would go a long, long way toward something that has an impact on something other than the identification of the congregation of which we are members. It has an impact on our own individual identity.
Listen to Jesus as He says:
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matt. 5:9).
Here is what I’m really wondering about. I’m wondering if I am doing all I can to live up to these inspired words:
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Rom. 14:19).
The characteristic of every congregation is dependent to some degree on the character and effort of each individual member. Is your congregation truly a “church of the saints?” Is that true because of your efforts?
I’m just wondering.
AUTHOR: Jim Faughn