Celebrations

celebrations

You can find out a good deal about a person simply by observing what they celebrate. To celebrate is to “observe or commemorate with ceremonies or festivities.” There are certainly times where celebration is in order. But it seems that our self-centered world is rejoicing in many things that are not worthy of celebration.

We should not celebrate when we perform ordinary responsibilities. Twice this year an NFL defensive player has injured himself and perhaps ended his career for celebrating the execution of a tackle. Stephen Tulloch and Lamarr Houston both tore their ACL’s because they tried to jump and make a dance move after they sacked the quarterback. They are supposed to sack the quarterback. They should have gone back to the huddle and prepared for the next play. God made us in such a way that we can’t kick ourselves our pat ourselves on the back. We should understand that doing our job is the least we can do.

“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ” – Luke 17:10

We should not celebrate when people suffer. We justify such feelings if the one suffering has been unkind to us or hurt us. We tend to enjoy watching the defeat of any person who is or has made themselves our rival. Perhaps we may even go so far as wishing for bad things to happen to certain people for reasons that seem fair to us. And yet God never rejoices over the loss of a soul, no matter the reason. And love never rejoices when sin abounds or when wounds are inflicted.

“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ – Ezekiel 33:11

We should not celebrate when the game hasn’t ended. “The Music City Miracle,” “The Bluegrass Miracle,” and “The Play to Beat the Band,” should all remind us that the game isn’t over until the last second has come off the clock. Many people misunderstand salvation by believing it happens in a baptistery. In reality it begins with grace that comes from God alone, it is realized in obedience, and that same obedience that gave birth to forgiveness is required until our physical death. We can live in grace and at the same time understand that in stewards it is required that one be found faithful.

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” – Mark 13:13

We should not celebrate a victory that comes at too high a cost. One Sunday morning an elder met a Christian baseball coach in a restaurant at lunchtime. The baseball team had just come from the field having won a tournament, and the elder had come from worship. A stressful greeting was met with the coach making this comment, “I am sorry we missed the assembly, but at least we won the game.” Unfortunately the coach was mistaken. There were no winners on that field on that particular Sunday. Every person who forsook the assembly lost. In spiritual matters Jesus taught that we can only win by losing.  When we let God be first-place in all things, everyone wins. If a choice we are making cannot be celebrated in eternity, it cannot be celebrated now.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matthew 16:26

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Training Your Children for Worship 2: Family Devotionals on the Acts of Worship {Free Printables}

Last week, we shared the first of four free printables to help you train your children for worship. If you missed that one, which was a devotional guide about worship, click here and you can get it for free.

To continue with the free stuff, we have another family devotional guide for you this week. This time, though, it is a SET of devotional guides. There are five in all, one for each of the five avenues of worship.

As with the other guides, these are meant to help you have family devotionals that are only about 10 minutes in length and that help by getting input from the children.

Just as a tip, it might be good to focus on one avenue of worship each week. In fact (as a head’s up), our free printable next Wednesday will help you focus on one of the avenues of worship (prayer).

We hope you find these helpful, and we hope you’ll pass them along through social media so others can benefit from them, as well.

Simply click on the picture below, and you will be taken to a page where you can view and/or download the guides. Enjoy!

acts of worship 2

Friendly Fire

[NOTE: This post was originally published on jimfaughn.com. It is reprinted here with permission.]

friendly fire

Military spokesmen and the news media seem to use a variety of phrases in an attempt to sanitize some of the unpleasant aspects of war. From time to time, we hear reports of troops being wounded or killed by “friendly fire.” That somehow sounds better than having to report that the damage was done by one of our own bullets, missiles, bombs, etc.

Sometimes, the evidence indicates that the fire was not so friendly. At times, some apparently take advantage of the confusion caused by the intensity of a particular battle to settle some personal grudge with a fellow soldier (maybe a superior officer).

I have wondered at times how often “friendly fire” damages the Lord’s army. Could it possibly be that some of our wounds and casualties come from our own ranks?

We know that Paul had to deal with “…perils among false brethren” (2 Cor. 11:26). He also warned that: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15).

Sadly, it seems that some have neither learned from Paul’s experience, nor heeded his warning. Some in the Lord’s army seem more intent fighting a brother or sister, discrediting them, spreading gossip about them, and/or ignoring them than they are on waging war against our real enemy.

“Friendly fire” among us may cause the loss of two souls. The one “fired at” may be so wounded that he or she never recovers. The one who does the “firing” is most certainly damage beyond measure until and unless he or she repents.

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Why We Made Our 7-Year-Old Sign a Minecraft Contract

minecraft contract

Minecraft. I know very little about this game, except that our son has been begging us to download it for months. It is one of the few times he has truly fixated on something for more than a few days.

After doing some light research and seeing that is a fairly harmless game, we decided to let him get the game on Leah’s iPad…

after he signed a contract.

That’s right, our 7-year-old had to sign a contract to get and play the game.

The short document stated such things as:

  • He would pay for the game himself out of his saving jar.
  • If he complained when told to turn the game off, he could not play it for 2 weeks.
  • He can only play for one hour on Saturdays and at other times only with permission.
  • If we catch him playing the game at other times, the game is taken away for a month.

We read the contract with him and he signed it (after writing “I will agree”…how cute is that?), then gave us the money for the game. Leah and I also signed it (as “mommy” and “daddy”).

Now, at this point, some of you think we are tyrants. He’s seven years old. How could we possibly do this to our son?

Better: why would we do this?

Well…

It teaches him about responsibility. He is responsible for paying for the game and for checking with us for upgrades or other downloads.

It holds him accountable. He knows the contract, and we are keeping it posted on our refrigerator. He cannot claim to just “forget,” and things be okay.

It keeps us accountable. We signed the document, too. So, if we just let him get away with things that break the contract, it will chip away at our influence.

It is how things are done in real life. We sign our names to things all the time as adults. It is better for him to learn about this now with such a small thing, than to have his name on his first contract be for a job, rent agreement, or mortgage, where the money involved and level of responsibility are so much higher.

QUESTION: What do you think of this parenting tactic? Share your reactions in the comments!

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {October 24, 2014 edition}

Things just continue to churn here at A Legacy of Faith. If we haven’t told you recently, thank you! You have helped our site continue to grow, and we simply pray that you are encouraged by each post and podcast you receive from us. This site takes some work, but it is a labor of love, and we hope you enjoy it.

Now, on to this week’s family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

Grieving Miscarriage {Start2Finish}

7 Thoughtful Ways to Raise Non-Materialistic Children {ChristianPF}

Suggestions for Influencing Teens {National Center for Biblical Parenting}

7 Strategies for Talking to Your Kids about Sex {for the family}

Our Week in Review

The following were our five most-viewed posts over the past week. These were not necessarily published in the last 7 days; they just drew the most views. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

#5: Episode 7: Training Your Children for Worship {Podcast} (October 16. 2014)

#4: What if Satan Subpoenaed Your Sermons? (October 16, 2014)

#3: An Important Lesson from an Unexpected Source (October 20, 2014)

#2: Training Your Children for Worship 1: A Devotional on Worship {Free Printable} (October 22, 2014)

#1: On Disruptive Children in Worship (October 21, 2014)

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What Did Jesus Really Look Like?

what did jesus really look like

Images of art and culture often shape our minds concerning those faces we have never seen. The depictions of historical figures before the days of photographs have often cast into our minds a portrayal that may not be completely accurate.  How many times have you gotten to know a radio personality by ear, had a vision of that person in your mind, and then saw them on television or in a photograph – only to find they look completely different than what you had imagined?

If one were to compare the picture that the Bible paints of Jesus with the last 2000 years of  portraits of Christ from art and culture, there would be a stark contrast between the true Jesus and the one we have come to know. Just google “what did Jesus look like” and search images. You will find everything from blonde and beardless to a man of Asian or African descent. The point is that people have decided to paint their own image of who they would like for Him to be and what they would be comfortable with as far as a Savior is concerned. But I would like you to think for a few moments with me about a man that was more beautiful than we could imagine, but not in physical appearance.

Jesus was a rugged man. He was a carpenter and he had carpenter’s hands. They would have been rough and calloused. They would have been cracked and possibly scarred. They would not have been soft and gentle. They were beautiful because they were working hands.

Jesus was a strong man. He was a man’s man. We get the image from pictures that he was slight of build and not too muscular. Pictures show him as average in size, and at times even effeminate. But I know of a man who drove out money changers and overturned tables in the temple. He took a whip and drove men of prominence and influence away from God’s holy place of worship. Nobody dared fight back. He was a man who could win a physical match against one or more like himself. This makes his physically imposing appearance even more beautiful. Children longed to sit on his lap, and he willingly went to the cross without objection when people he could have handled were spitting in his face.

Jesus was not a good looking man. This may bother you. You may want him to be handsome, but the Bible says that he was not. One version says, “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him” (Isaiah 53:2). He was of Jewish decent and so he looked like a common male of his culture and time. Unless you knew him personally you would not have said, “This must be the Son of God.” He often slipped through crowds unnoticed (Luke 4:30; John 5:15, 7:11, 11:56). The people he grew up with saw just another boy from Nazareth. The women who came to him did not do so because he looked like a movie star. They were often broken and just needed someone who cared. This makes the face of Jesus so much more beautiful. It was not what was seen in the outer man that drew multitudes, it was what was coming out of him from within.

Jesus probably didn’t have long hair. But you’ve probably never seen him depicted without it. You see the beard, the flowing locks, and the glowing countenance. The men of his day did not wear their hair long, and if they did it was often thought of as a disgrace (1 Cor. 11:14). It is likely he had a beard as this was common among the Jewish men. This would have made him even more unrecognizable. In short there was nothing about him in outward appearance that would have made anyone give him a second look. This makes the appearance of Jesus more beautiful, in that in reminds us that God sees beauty in what may be viewed by humanity as common or plain.

Jesus had a humble birth. He was raised in a poor family. He was not attractive. He had to work hard. He walked lonely and dusty roads. He was despised and rejected and we did not esteem him. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid our faces from him. Jesus was all of these things because God loved us too much to send a Redeemer that looked the way we would have wanted. He sent the Advocate we needed. The real Jesus is too beautiful for pictures and portraits. Only God can paint a Savior.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

– 2 Corinthians 4:6

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Training Your Children for Worship 1: A Devotional on Worship {Free Printable}

In our latest podcast, Leah and I talked about the importance of training our children for worship. Also in that podcast, we mentioned how we are going to be sharing some posts and printables to help you do that. We have settled on four posts–to be released on Wednesdays–and today is the first in those posts.

The importance of a family discussing things in the home cannot be overstated. Through family devotionals, a family can gain a great deal of closeness and can focus more clearly on connecting with God. These times are also wonderful training grounds to discuss areas in which we want our children to grow. (By the way, if you are new to the idea of a family devotional, here is a post I wrote over four years ago that will help you focus on what to be doing.)

So, for the first two posts in this series (today and next Wednesday), we are going to share brief devotional guides to help you focus your family on worship. The first is a simple printable that gives you an outline of a short devotional on worship in general. The devotional is not meant to last more than about 10 minutes, but has a lot of questions, to help your children be involved in the learning process.

We have also included a song to sing at both the beginning and end called “We Will Glorify.” If you happen to be unfamiliar with this song, you can find it here and learn it ahead of time. It is a simple song, and one that will help focus your minds on what worship really means.

We hope you enjoy this first printable, and we’ll be back next Wednesday with a great set of guides to help you with more family devotionals!

(Click on the picture and a new tab will open with the printable, ready for you to use!)

worship guide 2

On Disruptive Children in Worship

on disruptive children in worship

As a preacher, I get asked a lot of interesting questions. Often, people are just seeking my opinion on a matter, while at other times, they are questions about how certain things affect (or don’t) my work.

One of the more common questions I get asked is along these lines: Do crying babies bother you when you are preaching?

My immediate answer is “No!” I can honestly say that, probably only once or twice, has a child’s “disruption” disrupted me while preaching. Thankfully, I have been told that it wasn’t noticed by those listening. Instead, it was all in just my train of thought and trying to keep my thinking straight.

So, if you are a parent with a baby who cries in worship, this post is not written to complain. You are bringing your baby or small child to worship. Those cries are music to my ears, because a parent has that child right where that little one needs to be!

That said, are there times when a child needs to be taken out of a worship service? Sure. A baby, toddler, or small child can get disruptive, especially to those who are sitting nearby and doing their best to worship the Lord. Let me say, they are doing their best to focus on the Lord, not your child. They may have “a look” on their face, but if that person has the heart of a Christian, it is not because they are angry with you. They might be frustrated, but if they have ever been a parent, they understand what you are going through.

So what can a parent do when a child gets disruptive? Here are 5 suggestions for dealing with a disruptive child in worship.

1. Have quiet things for the child to do. One way to help some children is to distract their minds. But, please, have these distractions be quiet things, like Bible books or puzzles. I have known of parents who let their baby play with a cell phone during worship, and we can all guess how that turned out!

2. Have “related” things for the child to do. This is similar, but I believe it is best to make sure what the child is doing is still related to the Bible and worship. Please do not think that letting a child play Temple Run or Minecraft on your iPad is going to help. The child will learn to act up to get to play a favorite game!

3. Do not be embarrassed in taking your child out. I know this is easier said than done (I’ve taken my children out when someone else was preaching), but you are doing your job as a parent. There is no shame in that.

4. Take them out, but do not reward them. Parents, please do not take your child out if you are going to give that child candy or just let them play around on the floor! When you must take a child out for disrupting worship, calm the child by singing or just letting the child rest. If the child has been intentionally disruptive…well…let’s just say it this way: do not make the trip out a pleasant experience. If you reward the negative behavior, guess what you will get more of next Sunday?

5. Make the trips out as brief as possible. Yes, sometimes the sermon is boring, but take the child out, get your point across, and come back in. A child needs to learn to be in the worship service by actually being in the worship service, not taking 30 minute trips to the cry room. Every child is different, but just a few minutes is usually sufficient, unless a child is physically ill.

As I said before, this post is not written to pick on parents who have children when their children cry. Mine have done it, and I’m sure they will probably have to be taken out again sometime for discipline.

Even if they cry, parents please bring those children to worship! They are learning about worship, and you are doing a great job in having them present.

[NOTE: Tomorrow, we will release the first of our "Training Your Children for Worship" posts with a free printable! To learn more about this series of posts, check out this podcast.]

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An Important Lesson from an Unexpected Source

an important lesson from an unexpected source

I’ve been reading a book our son gave me for my birthday. The name of the book is When Pride Still Mattered:  A Life of Vince Lombardi. The author of the book is David Maraniss. Even the most casual observer of “the sports world” probably recognizes that Vince Lombardi coached the Green Bay Packers and led them to a number of NFL championships (five world championships in nine years, to be exact).

This is not a book from which I would expect to find much about God, religion, etc. I thought I would only learn about a man who is legendary as a football coach. I thought I’d learn some interesting things about his family, his coaching career, some of his philosophy of life and coaching, etc. I am not too far into the book and I have, in fact, already learned some of that.

One of the things I learned was that, as a youth, Vince Lombardi had a desire to become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, he even began some training with that goal in mind.

It was in that context and about that period in Lombardi’s life that Mr. Maraniss wrote these words:

Daily mass became a lifelong practice, often cited as evidence of his extraordinary faith.   True enough, but as Lombardi himself explained in later years, he was expected to worship every day when he was growing up, so it had become a habit; his religion was as much a matter of discipline and routine as devotion (p. 25).

I don’t know about you, but, to me, those words are striking and challenging. In these few words, there is a contrast between a concept of Christianity that is characterized by practice, habit, discipline and routine on the one hand and faith and devotion on the other.

It seems to me that this contrast is seen in the New Testament. The Jewish religious leaders who were so opposed to Jesus could be said to have habitual, disciplined, and routine practices. For them, this could have been the “sum total” of their commitment to God.

Jesus would challenge them and us with statements such as:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:37-39, NKJV).

When the “record book” of my life is opened (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10, Rev. 20:121-13), what will be revealed? Will my life be seen as one based only on obligation and duty or will I be seen as one who lived his life based on faith and devotion.

The “Lombardi Trophy” will not be handed out on that day. That temporal trophy is now given each year to the winner of the Super Bowl.

What will be given on that day will be “the crown of life.” The recipients of that high and eternal honor will be those whose lives are characterized by love for Jesus (cf. James 1:12) and faithfulness to Him (Rev. 2:10).

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {October 17, 2014 edition}

The signs of Autumn continue to grow all around us. From the beautiful changing leaves to the vitriol on Facebook over college football, it is obvious that the seasons are changing. The longer I live, the more I believe that time just seems to speed up and seasons slip quickly by. I hope we will all take the time to notice the beauty of the changing seasons.

With that said, we move on to this week’s family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

A Love Story: 3 Things Every Father Needs to Tell His Daughter {We are THAT Family}

10 Things I Want My Sons to Have When They Leave Home {Life and Favor}

Making Time for Your Spouse When Life is Busy {for the family}

Buy Your Kids an Alarm, and Take Away the Cell! {Life in the Kingdom}

For Sale {The Morning Drive}

The Ultimate List of 100 Non-Toy Gift Ideas {Raising Memories}

Our Week in Review

The following were our five most-viewed posts over the past week. These were not necessarily published in the last 7 days; they just drew the most views. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

#5: Is This Progress? (October 13, 2014)

#4: The Purpose of God’s Mercy (October 14, 2014)

#3: Why the “Right Side of History” Argument Works, but Shouldn’t (October 15, 2014)

#2: Can We Choose When to Die? (October 10, 2014)

#1: What if Satan Subpoenaed Your Sermons? (October 16, 2014)

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