Never Have a Problem with Monday

“Do what you love and you’ll never have a problem with Monday.” A friend of mine had this posted on Facebook recently as a recruiting tool for her business. And there is some definite truth to the statement! I love my job, so Mondays are okay with me. As much as I enjoyed fall break (and believe me, I enjoyed it all!), I didn’t dread going back to work Monday because I love teaching, advocating for, and encouraging my students.

This got me to thinking about other days of the week being satisfying too. And I realized that, for the Christian, every day can be a good day because no matter what we do, we are to do it “as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). If I will see everything I do as being something that I was created to do (Ephesians 2:10), and want to work for the Father’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), then I should have no problem with any day of the week.

Does this mean we will never have a bad day? Of course not! We are human and will still get frustrated when things don’t run smoothly or plans are delayed or any number of other problems arise. I am simply reminding those of us who are Christians that we have a greater purpose–a greater outlook–than the daily “grind” of life. God created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7)! That makes every day amazing, and I have no problem with that!

“You work at your job, you work hard at school
But the things of this life fade away
But if you work for the Lord it is never in vain
And he will guide your feet everyday
So with His word in your heart and His love in your soul
You can press on to the goal

You’ve gotta work at it with all of your heart
Work at it with all of your heart
As working for the Lord and not for man
You’ve gotta work at it with all of your heart”

~Keith Lancaster and Rodney Britt


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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

3 Fun Bible Time Ideas for Families

We readily admit we are not perfect about having a family Bible time each and every night, but it is a highlight of most evenings in our home.

For many families, the problem is getting started. The good thing is that you don’t have to do the same thing each night. You can vary it, and if something doesn’t work for your family, you can move on to something else.

So, in this post, I want to share with you three things we have done (or still do) that are fun and that a family can do together.

IDEA #1: Bible Charades

I will admit, we haven’t done this one often, but it is something we did more when the kids were smaller. The idea is quite simple: just let your kids act out their favorite Bible person or Biblical account and guess. This works well when a Bible school curriculum at the congregation is comprehensive, because your children know a lot of people in the Bible, instead of just one or two.

(Of course, you can do similar games with drawing or other artistic ways of depicting these things.)

IDEA #2: Bible Outburst

This one isn’t free, but it is so fun. In fact, our family played another round just this week (which is where I got the idea for this article this week)!

If you are familiar with the board game “Outburst!” then you know about this game. It is the same rules (trying to guess a list of facts), but all pertaining to the Bible. Several Christian bookstores carry this game, and you can also find it on Amazon here. We love this game for a simple Bible time night, but one where we laugh and learn together.

IDEA #3: Sing

I can’t stress this one enough. It’s just you and your family, so who cares if all the notes are right? Just get out a songbook, or just sing some favorites from church from memory. Without really meaning to, this has become our Saturday evening routine for Bible time, as we typically sing five or six songs together, and try to mix both old and new hymns.

This is fun because everyone can pick out a favorite or two and there is also the fun of trying to learn new songs together, or of teaching old family favorites to your kids.

So, there you go. Three ideas. Which will you use, even this evening?


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

What Place Do Sports Have in the Life of a Christian?

Sports dominate our world. So much so that now they are even used to shape politics and moral and religious thinking. Recent demonstrations by athletes only remind us what a big role athletics play in our lives. It’s not that athletes are supposed to be our cultural heroes – it’s just that they have such a huge forum in which to be heard. And as with any advantage that human beings experience in life – the sporting arena has now become an agent by which society is influenced.

I grew up eating, drinking, and living sports. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. All I wanted was a ball since I was old enough to hold one. We lived next to the baseball park. It was literally on the other side of the chain link fence from my house. I became a player. I became a fan. By the time I was 3 or 4 until my teenage years – sports dominated my mind.

It is my contention that we put too much emphasis on athletics. They are, to many, a god. People become so passionate about their teams that they will drop thousands of dollars on one game. They will beat each other up on social media and they will beat each other up physically in the stands. We have all seen those videos where somebody punches somebody else at a ball game. I remember several years ago attending a late September, playoff-run baseball game in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Cubs in which the game was won in the ninth inning on a dramatic home run. I was with my wife and young son and I was wondering if we were going to get back to our car alive.

This article is not about how the general public should negotiate sports – I know that the world is so dominated by sports that for many, it’s what rules them. I don’t expect for the drunken fan to disappear and I don’t expect ticket prices or player’s salaries to decrease any time soon – because the world loves its sports. We are the 21st-century version of the Roman Coliseum. The world is in it for the long haul! The chariot races will continue! But for a Christian – what place can sports play in our lives? Or better yet – when does our love for sports become too great?

1. Sports must not allow us to lose our influence for Christ.

When we allow our passion for our team to change our attitude for the opponent and, through this, we act like a son of the devil, it’s time to repent. This may be that escalated conversation on a Facebook wall. It may be the way a parent treats a coach or umpire. It may be how our behavior towards our family changes inside our home for a 24-hour period when our team just lost the big game – and we haven’t gotten over it yet. We need to remember – IT IS JUST A GAME! In the scope of eternity is never going to matter what team won or lost any game in any particular year.

2. Sports must not allow us to lose our priorities.

When you are good with missing worship for a sporting event on a weekend, you’ve put that event before the only assembly that deserves your absolute respect and worship. Christian parents should plan a way for their athletic, travel-ball family to worship the Lord on the first day of the week. Christian adults who participate in events that sometimes take place on Sunday need to remember to honor and worship the Lord on that day. You have 24 hours. The top priority in that time frame should be your personal reflection on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

3. Sports must not allow us to lose our children.

You can attend every ball game your kids play. You can travel all over the country with them in their athletic pursuits. You can help them receive scholarships through athletic endeavors and thus avail them to a better education and a better standard of living. But if your kids leave the church it won’t be worth it. Sports need to be taught as beneficial but not essential. We can learn so much about life through playing sports. But the things we need to learn to make it to heaven can only be found in God’s word.

So remember – in a sense, it is about winning and losing. Don’t lose your faculties. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t lose your family. By all means, run to win! Just don’t forget to seek the crown that endures.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

A Retired Preacher Who is Still a Pastor

How many of the following statements confuse you?

  • I began preaching full-time for a congregation in southern Illinois in 1978, but I was not a pastor.
  • I moved to another location in Southeast Missouri in 1985. For eleven years, I served as the full-time preacher there, but I was not a pastor.
  • I began preaching full-time for the Central church of Christ in Paducah in 2001, but I was not a pastor.
  • On December 21, 2003, I started serving that congregation as one of the pastors.
  • From December 21, 2003, until December 31, 2016, I was both a full-time preacher for the Central church and also one of the pastors. 
  • On December 31, 2016, I retired as a full-time preacher for that congregation, but I am still one of its pastors.

Is your head spinning yet? If it is, I think there may be a simple explanation for that.

It may very well be that you are thinking like many in the religious world think. You may be thinking that the local preacher is the pastor of the congregation where he preaches. 

If that is the reason for your confusion, I would encourage you to consult the New Testament. A careful study of that inspired document may clear up your confusion.

As you study, you will find that, in the New Testament church, there is a plurality of men who serve the congregation in a special way. There are different terms used to identify these men and their work. 

I do not intend to make this a tedious word study of either the Greek or the English languages. I will merely make a few points and leave it to the reader to follow the example of the Bereans who spent significant time “…examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11, ESV).

I will refer briefly to only two passages of scripture in order to justify my statement that different terms are used to describe the same group of men in the New Testament. The first passage is in Acts 20:17-38. Among other things in this passage we learn that:

  • Paul was meeting with the elders of the church at Ephesus (v. 17).
  • He called these same men overseers (v. 28). It is interesting to notice in passing that the Greek word translated “overseers” here is translated as “bishops” elsewhere and in other translations.
  • He gave this same group of men an important charged. That charge was to “feed” or “care for” the church (v. 28). The Greek word used here is the verb form of the word that comes to us in the English language as shepherd or pastor.

The other passage where this “interchange” of terms may be seen is in 1 Peter 5.

  • Peter is writing to the elders (v. 1).
  • He instructs those elders to “feed” or “shepherd” the flock of God (v. 2). Again, that word is the verb form of the noun that, in the English language, is pastor.
  • Further, these elders/pastors are to “exercise oversight” (v. 2) or assume the duties of bishops.

In almost forty years of preaching, I have never been the pastor anywhere. I have served as the preacher for three different congregations. I have, for a number of years, been a pastor/elder/bishop for one congregation. 

Please allow me to add one more consideration to this discussion. In the New Testament, there are specific requirements which must be met in order for a man to serve as an elder/bishop/pastor. 

Are you familiar with them? You may find them in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. 

I will not take the time to discuss each one of them. I will only mention two and ask for you to consider them. Both of these have to do with what might be called “family requirements.” The Holy Spirit informs us that an elder/shepherd/pastor must be the husband of one wife and have believing children (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). 

The man who was chosen by the Holy Spirit to pen those words (Paul) was not married and had no children, but he was arguably the best preacher (other than our Lord) the world has ever known. Because of the requirements he wrote down himself, he was never – and could never be – a pastor.

A local congregation may (and many times does) have only one preacher. If that congregation is organized the way the God wants it to be organized, it cannot have only one pastor.

When people ask me if I am the pastor for the Central church of Christ in Paducah, they may not understand what they are asking. They also may not understand my answer when I say, “I am one of them.”


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: Adam Jones on Creative Commons

Episode 91: When Church is the Hardest Places to Go, and Combining Education and Fun on Family Outings [Podcast]

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On this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah share a short article about going to worship when it is the hardest thing to do, and then spend time talking about the importance of families taking educational outings together.

 

Resource

When Church is the Hardest Place to Go” (My Heart, His Words)

 

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Mothers and Daughters

My son-in-law called me a few months ago and asked me if I could help him out with something. He had booked a flight and a hotel room for Amber and himself at Pensacola Beach for the first few days of October. It was his birthday gift to her (which he has done for the last several years). They go and enjoy some relaxation on the beach and enjoy the beauty of the ocean and some of their favorite restaurants.

He had, however, failed to check his calendar before he booked this trip. When he did check it, he was booked for a gospel meeting for those same days. So, he called me and asked if I could help him out by taking his place on the trip with Amber. I thought about it for a nanosecond and said, “YES!” Luckily when I checked my calendar after agreeing to go, I had those days free.

We took that trip last week, and there aren’t enough words to tell you how much I enjoyed having that time with my daughter. As I was packing for the trip, I began trying to remember the last time we had been able to spend some time together – just the two of us – and really have time to talk and laugh and enjoy each other’s company. It had been way too long!

I thought about some important things about this mother/daughter relationship that I hope will help those who may be reading this – young or older.

  • She is my best girl friend and I am hers – at this point in time. It has been that way for lots of years. However, it was not that way when she was growing up. We had a warm and loving relationship, but I was not her best friend – I was her parent, her mother. I was teaching and training and disciplining her so she would be prepared for her role as a wife and mother. She had lots of friends, but at that point in time she needed a mother, not another friend.
  • Communication is so vitally important in the mother/daughter relationship. It is important in any relationship, but in this particular case who can explain womanhood to a girl better than her mother? Open lines of communication help your children know that they always have someone they can turn to, even if the topic of conversation is going to be hard to handle. If you are texting, or scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, and your child wants to talk to you…(please hear me on this) PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE AND LISTEN EYEBALL TO EYEBALL TO YOUR CHILD! Girls need to feel free to talk to their mothers. The daughter who can talk to you when she is young and knows that you will take time to really listen, will still be talking to you and asking for your advice when she is older.
  • Time goes by way too quickly. I know some young mothers right now who are so busy taking care of little ones and it may seem to them like they will always be there with you needing help. Trust me, the day will come when they will be out on their own – and it comes all too soon. Cherish the time you have now. Use it to wisely establish a relationship with your child that will never be severed.
  • The Bible doesn’t give us very many examples of mother/daughter relationships, and some of the examples are not very pleasant to read about. Just one example of this is Herodias and her daughter who was prompted by her mother to dance before men and ask for the head of John the Baptist. (Matt. 14)

However, we do read of other mother/daughter relationships: Jochebed and Miriam (the mother and sister of Moses) who worked together to save the life of baby Moses, Naomi and Ruth (a mother and daughter-in-law) who stuck together through some very difficult times, and then we read about the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. When the scriptures tell us that “her children rise up and called her blessed,” I feel sure that she was blessed with sons and daughters. She displays the type of training for her children that would lead to a lasting relationship with them.

I loved my time with my daughter – my friend. We didn’t do anything special other than just spend time talking about all sorts of things – some serious and some not so serious. We enjoyed each other’s company and made a pact to try and do more of this very thing. We are both busy women, but we will be looking for more opportunities to be together. 

I’m praying that you mothers who read this (and you fathers with sons) will realize that time spent with your children, whether while they are young or when they are grown, is one of life’s greatest blessings. Fit it into your busy schedule and enjoy some quality time. 

Thank you, Jeremiah, for this wonderful time with my daughter.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.”  Psalm 127:3


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Some Thoughts on God’s Thoughts (or, A Study of Isaiah 55:6-9)

The book of Isaiah contains many memorable and powerful passages. From the imagery of sin being like scarlet, yet God making them white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) to the prophecy of the “suffering Servant” (chapter 53), the book is filled with treasures.

One of those that is often quoted is found in Isaiah 55:8-9, where Isaiah declared,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I can’t even count how many times I have heard that passage used to speak about how God sees the big picture and how it describes the perfect knowledge of the Lord.

Oh, and I’ve used it that way many, many times myself.

And, most certainly, those things are true. God’s knowledge is perfect, and God is not time-bound, so He does see all things at the same time.

But, is that what Isaiah was saying in this context? Maybe not.

Why do I say that? Because of the previous two verses, where we read these words:

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (emphasis added)

Did you notice the reference in that quotation to the “thoughts” of “the unrighteous man?” And, then, verse 8 begins with the word “for.” In other words, this is all one context.

So, what Isaiah is speaking about when he says that the thoughts of God are not our thoughts is not necessarily the all-knowing nature of God, but, rather, the holiness of God. He does not think unrighteous, impure, unholy thoughts.

If I am correct about that, then it fits with the rest of Isaiah’s book beautifully. Often in this lengthy book, God is referred to beautifully as “the Holy One of Israel” (1:4; 5:19; 10:20; 30:11-12; et.al.). It is in Isaiah that we have the angels calling out to the Lord, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (6:3). And Isaiah constantly was calling the people of God to repent of sin and live holy lives again before Jehovah.

Yes, we should stand in awe of God for His infinite knowledge. He knows more than we do and He does see all time constantly. But Isaiah 55:8-9 is a call to us for something other than that. It is a reminder to us that God never thinks an unrighteous thought. He is holy, and it should be our constant prayer to be holy in all our thinking, as well.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

A Five-Straw Salute

As the son and son-in-law of men who served in one of the branches of our nation’s armed forces, I remember well the twenty-one-gun salute that took place at the committal service for each of them. As a preacher, I have been with countless families as one of their loved ones is laid to rest in this manner. 

That salute and the playing of “Taps” that follows is a very emotional time. I cannot remember a time when tears were not shed because a very special person was remembered in a very special way.

I did not serve in the military.  Although I was at the “prime age” to be involved in the “conflict” in Vietnam, the military decided that they did not want a guy who had torn a knee up in a high school football game.

I was thinking the other day about an appropriate “salute” when it comes time for my graveside service. I think I have an idea.

You see, I’ve taught each of our five grandchildren the fine art of tearing the end off of the paper or plastic that restaurants normally use to put straws in. Once the end is torn off, you can merely remove the rest of the paper or plastic and use the straw. That’s the way boring people do it. 

The grandkids and I have our own way of doing this. It is a lot more fun. You can put the exposed straw into your mouth and “shoot” the remaining paper off. It is even more fun if you can hit an unsuspecting target (hopefully at your own table). 

Grammy may roll her eyes and parents may shake their heads, but Grampy and the grandkids get a kick out of this. At least most of the grandkids do. I think that our sixteen-year-old may be getting a little too “sophisticated” for this, but he’ll get over that someday.

I can see it now! After all of the right words have been said at the cemetery, the straws come out and Grampy gets a five-straw salute! Maybe, instead of tears, Grampy will make the grandkids smile one more time. 

It may not seem like it, but I am actually discussing something serious here. I never really knew my grandparents. Three of them had already passed from this life before I was born and I only saw my maternal grandfather a few times. He passed away when I was very young.

I have no memories of any of my grandparents. I don’t what they sounded like. I don’t what kind of (if any) sense of humor they had. I don’t know what their likes and dislikes were. I don’t know what is like to remember stories told by a grandparent. I’m not even sure where two of them are buried.

The Lord has allowed me to spend time with my grandchildren and to establish a relationship with them. Nobody knows how special that is to me. Nobody knows how much I wish I could spend more time with each of them. Nobody knows how often I think of them and pray for them.

Both of our children and their families live some distance from us. It takes some effort to be able to spend time together. I value any time we can work all of that out.

Those times are not merely a time for fun and foolishness. The fun and foolishness are just a part of a much bigger picture. Those times, along with the serious times, the sad times, and many other types of times are important opportunities. They are opportunities to do what my mother-in-law used to say we were doing when she was with us and our children. I can still hear “Grandma Ruthie” saying, “We’re making memories, aren’t we?”

That statement sums up a lot of what I think families are all about. Families make memories. Families establish legacies and carry them on. 

You and your family have your own traditions. You have your own “inside jokes.” You may even have your own weird uncle or goofy Grampy. Your family may not shoot straws in a restaurant, but you do something that people who are not a part of your family do not understand and can never really be a part of.

Your family (like mine) is unique. There is not another family anywhere exactly like yours. 

Do what you can to let each member know how special he or she is to you. There aren’t many investments you can make that would be better than to invest time making memories with your family. 

Who knows? You may be repaid with your own special salute someday!


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Do Your Part

Today, I want to offer a word of encouragement for those who sometimes feel as if they aren’t doing enough for the Lord. It might be that their health no longer allows them to do what they used to do. It could be a young mother who admires the older ladies of her congregation and yet feels guilt that she can’t do as much. Please read the following and know that whatever the task God has given you to do, it is the right one.

I asked the Lord, “What shall I do?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then He pointed me out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”

I quickly replied, “Oh no, not that.
“Why no one would ever see.
“No matter how well my work was done;
“Not that little place for me.”

The word He spoke, It was not stern,
He answered me tenderly;
“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine.
“Are you working for them or me?
“Nazareth was a little place, and so was Galilee.”

~ unknown

1 Corinthians 12:4-7:

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;
and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit
for the common good.”

Do your part!


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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

You Will Never Out-Dream God

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” –Walt Disney

Congregations sometimes struggle with planning for the future. While there are many reasons for that, a number of those reasons come down to one factor: fear.

We are afraid we don’t have enough money.

We are afraid we won’t grow.

We are afraid that, even though this change has nothing to do with Scripture, people simply will not accept change.

So, we sit back and keep doing what we are doing. Or we make some plans, but they are not challenging in the least.

Of course, we must have a sense of realism, but may I remind us all today that there is no way we could ever out-dream God? Paul wrote of God that He “is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). My paraphrase of that? Whatever your biggest dreams are, they aren’t close to what God can accomplish!

Don’t believe me?

The dream of Jesus was that literally every person on earth would hear of Him, and when He said that, it was addressed to a grand total of 12 people (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Spirit-inspired vision of a congregation is that every member “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). A congregation isn’t what God dreams of until each member looks just like Jesus!

Christ desired that His people be so unified that people would see the resemblance of the Father and the Son in all His people (John 17:21). Perfect unity for all believers is the dream.

The point is this: when someone puts forward an idea that seems too out-there or too difficult, it is so often just shot down by those who are frightened by the prospect of something that audacious.

But whatever dreams we have, they have never been as large as those of our heavenly Father, who “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). If you and the congregation where you attend are not dreaming dreams that big, you just aren’t dreaming big enough.

Or, maybe, your view of God isn’t big enough.

It’s time we tried to dream like He does, and it’s time we started trusting that He will bless our efforts in His name, no matter how large they may be.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn