How to View a Crisis

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There are a lot of reasons why I am glad that I was not born in China. Among those reasons would be that, according to what I’ve read, the Chinese language has about 50,000 characters or ideographs. I have enough trouble with our twenty-six letters!

I have read also that the character for crisis is really a combination of two other ideographs. The Chinese put the character for danger and the one for opportunities together to form the word crisis.

I think that is an interesting way to view a crisis. Sometimes all we seem to be able to see is the danger in a crisis. Maybe we need to also look for the opportunities that crises present to us. 

A couple of those opportunities come to my mind readily. There are many, many more than two, but for our space here we will mention only two.

First, if we will practice that way of looking at things, we will have a positive impact on others. We may, in fact, “preach” a better sermon by our actions during a crisis than any actual sermon delivered by a talented and knowledgeable preacher.

Second (and probably most importantly for us), a crisis gives us to learn by experience our dependence upon the Lord. We will be much better people for having done so.

I am thinking of one person about whom we read in the Old Testament. It is obvious that Joseph faced a great number of crises in his life. Hopefully, as I look back on the ones in my life, I can say what he said to his brothers:

…you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good… (Gen. 50:20, NASV)

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {March 27, 2015 edition}

It has been a wonderful week! While you may not have known it from our blog or social media involvement, we have actually been on vacation the last few days. And when I saw “we,” I mean all of the members of A Legacy of Faith! We enjoyed a couple of days together in the Smokey Mountains and just got to be together and do family stuff. It was wonderful.

Still, we tried to deliver articles each day and we hope you enjoyed the posts we published during the week.

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

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

Parents Matter {Matthew’s Musings}. The title of this article may seem obvious, but the post shares some very important information to back up the simple fact that young people need–and want–the input of parents.

Dear Kids: This is What I Want You to Know about For Better or Worse {We are THAT Family}. It’s part of traditional wedding vows, but “for better or worse” needs to be seen for what it is. This fantastic post does just that.

Helping Kids Win Friends The Old Fashioned Way {The MOB Society}. Children need friends, but they need to know how to gain those friends properly. How can we help our children (especially our sons) with this skill?

Your Date Night Checklist {Mark Merrill}. You decide to have a date night. Now what? This post shares some things to remember each time you go out with your spouse.

How Good Parents Miss Child Sexual Abuse and 5 Questions to Change That {Lauren’s Kids}. The title pretty much says it all, but this is an eye-opening post for any parent!

9 Ways to Balance AND Enjoy Your Busy Family Life {Jackie Bledsoe}. A very practical post for all of us who feel that family always seems to get squeezed out of our run-around schedules.

on the other end of the spectrum: The Blessing of Boredom {for the family}. When is the last time you were actually bored? It may not be as bad as it sounds, for you or your family!

Put Down Your Phone & Turn Off the TV {Arrows in Our Hand}. A great podcast episode from a great podcast!

Firmness in Relationship {National Institute for Biblical Parenting}. Parents need to be kind, but that should never take away from them being firm with their children.

Giving Our Boys “God-Confidence” {The MOB Society}. Too many people think self-confidence is the answer, but there’s something far deeper our sons need.

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily written during the last 7 days, but they drew the most views in that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (July 5, 2013)

#4: How to Stop Quarrelling (March 24, 2015)

#3: The Problem with Comfortable Churches (March 25, 2015)

#2: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

#1: Bigger and Better (March 23, 2015)

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Episode 24: 10 Quick and Easy Service Projects Your Family Can Do {Podcast}

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Our podcasts in March have been dedicated to the relationship between the family and the church. In this final episode, we provide 10 service projects that families can do to shine the glory of God and serve their fellow man.

Enjoy them all, with links to how to do them, below!

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The 10 Service Projects

To learn more about each project, simply click on the pictures!

1. Organize a Food Drive for a Local Hospital

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2. Create placemats for Meals on Wheels (or a similar program)

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3. Clean up a local park or neighborhood.

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4. Create a fleece hat for a child who doesn’t have much.

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5. Take part in Kid President’s “Socktober” each year

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6. Make a small plant holder from old cans and take to a nursing home or hospital.

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7. Send a care package to our troops.

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8. Make a chemotherapy care kit.

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9. Make “socks of love” for a homeless shelter.

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10. Make craft bags for a children’s hospital.

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Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

 

 

 

The Problem with Comfortable Churches

I am thankful for a comfortable place in which to worship. Throughout the years, I have been blessed to worship with people who kept the building clean, nice, and comfortable. That is a wonderful blessing.

But sometimes, our churches can be a bit too comfortable.

No, I am not talking about the church building. I am talking about how many of our congregations can become places where we use the guise of worshiping God as a cover for really worshiping our own comfort.

Think about it. How many of us decide where to worship based more on “what this congregation can give me” than “does this congregation glorify God?” How many families leave a congregation over nothing more than deciding the church did not offer just the right programming or have just the right “feel” for them?

Several times, I have heard Thom Rainer (on this podcast) talk about how the Baby Boomer generation treated church as something where we come to “get” something. That mindset grows into our programming, as most of what we do is inward focused. We think more of the comfort of our own than about reaching the lost.

Additionally, we sometimes wonder why those from without will say they are uncomfortable coming in. After all, we are comfortable; why shouldn’t they be?

Maybe it is because we can be too comfortable with nothing more than being comfortable!

I still believe there are people who are wanting to connect with God and with other people. In fact, Generation X started a movement that the Millennials are taking to new heights. That is making sure the horizontal of a congregation (how they treat other people) matches up with what they say the vertical is (how they praise God and preach).

We preach forgiveness, but when someone responds to the invitation, are we more concerned about the extra 5 minutes it is going to keep us away from our noon meal?

We preach unity, but do we just head out the door with no conversation as soon as the “amen” is said?

We preach evangelism, but when someone from the “outside” comes in–as obvious of an evangelistic opportunity as there is–do we just walk by silently?

We praise God that He is no respecter or persons, but when someone comes in dressed in something we do not consider the “Sunday best,” do we look at them as if they are out of place?

It can be easy, if we are not careful, to make the church more about my comfort than about truly glorifying God. Such is nothing more than idolatry, and I become the idol.

Be thankful that you have a comfortable building. Be grateful that you can feel comfortable being around your brothers and sisters in Christ.

But may we never make our comfort the highest aim of the Church. There will be many in hell who were very comfortable for a couple of hours each Sunday, but who never deeply sought the will of God at any other time.

How to Stop Quarreling

When I was growing up it was a pretty normal thing for kids at Studebaker Elementary to be found somewhere fighting. It was a part of the social order. Kids dared each other, challenged each other, and put each other up to it. There were always the willing participants, and those who were forced into action against their will, and then there were the people who never fought but just loved to watch it and talk about it. Looking back I only take one major lesson from all of the fighting I saw on the playground, at the park, in the cafeteria, and on the walk home: Most fighting never solves anything.

I think sometimes in the church quarreling exists because we have the same three classes of people. Those happy to fight, those thrust into the fight, and those who love to watch and talk about it. While for Christ’s sake we are commanded to defend the faith, about 99% of the battles that we deal with are battles of our own invention.  I don’t know what one of the three categories you fit into, but let me at least give you a quick formula for how you can walk away from the whole event altogether.

Jesus told a parable about a man who had 100 sheep. One of the sheep got lost, and so the shepherd left the 99 and went after the 1. He searched in the wilderness until he found it. When he found it, he laid it upon his shoulders, rejoicing (Luke 15:3-5). Good shepherds relieve weary and wandering sheep. They cause their troubles and anxieties to cease. They save by resting the hurting lamb on their shoulders. They climb with the sheep and carry it to higher ground. Jesus was telling a parable about Himself. He was telling us that He is to be identified as a shepherd. Shepherds are peaceful beings. They live a life of peace and they care for helpless animals. Love and joy and kindness characterize the way of the shepherd. The only fighting they ever do is a last resort, and the intentions are still to deliver the innocent.

What if we tried to be more like the shepherd? Jesus said many are like wolves.  Jesus said some are only helpless sheep. Jesus said some are not true shepherds, but rather just hired help, willing to stand by and watch the fight. But the loving shepherd is the one who really cares. He stands in the gap. He thinks of ways to feed and refresh the sheep. He considers it his pleasure to watch them live and grow in peace. He gets personal with them. He invests in relationships with them. The last thing he would ever want to see is one of his sheep in the middle of a fight.

We don’t have to be so quarrelsome. It is possible to go from a trouble maker to a peacekeeper. Peter went from sword slinger to soul saver. Paul went from persecutor to preacher. And since Pentecost, people have allowed the story of Jesus to change their hearts from insolence and hatred to hearts of knowledge and purpose and love. This is the gospel’s aim.

The easiest way to stop fighting is to be like the Shepherd. We do not have a Father who has His arms folded, accusing. We have a Father who is running to us with arms open. He knows the only true battle remaining is the battle we are having with ourselves. And He is here to catch us. He is here to end it. He is here to solve the problem. He is here to give us peace.

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” – Isaiah 40:11

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Bigger and Better

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Recently a young man whom I have known since he was a boy was (in his words) “dismissed” from a congregation where he was preaching.  As I was reading some of the comments on Facebook about this, I noticed that some of his friends were hoping for bigger and better things for him.  What you will read below are some of the things I said to him via Facebook.  I have changed some of the details and reworded some of it, but the words below still share the essence of what I said.  I am presenting them here because I believe–or at least I hope–that others might benefit somewhat from them.

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I had already told the young man that I was sorry to hear his news.  Then I posted at least a version of the following:

I’ve seen a comment or two about hoping for bigger and better things for you. I’d like to weigh in on that.

As you know, I left a church that had over 400 worshiping together on a typical Sunday morning for a job that looked at the time like it was bigger and better. It was my privilege to work for Freed-Hardeman University for 4 1/2 years and to wear an impressive title: Director of Off-Campus Advancement. It didn’t take all that long for me to realize that I needed to be preaching full time again. So…14+ years ago, my wife and I began working with a church whose members were overjoyed if there were 60-70 people worshiping on a Sunday morning. I am told that, at one point, the number was more like 35-40.

I could have viewed this as a “dead end job” or a “stepping stone to something better.” I chose neither one of those courses. I determined to do as much as I could for as long as I could right here. Without any doubt, I can honestly say that the Lord has blessed our work and our lives.

We are not perfect and we have, indeed, had our challenges, but in my (admittedly prejudiced) opinion, there is nothing better. “Bigger”–bigger memberships, bigger salaries, bigger buildings, bigger houses, bigger names in the brotherhood–may not always be better.

In my opinion, what is better is to find a group of people who love the Lord and love each other and who will let you work with them (not for them) to bring glory to God and bring the lost to our Savior. THAT is my prayer for you, your wife, and your kids.

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {March 20, 2015 edition}

Once each month, we take this space to thank our Patreon supporters. We are so thankful that these individuals support our work at A Legacy of Faith. We have said before that this is something we greatly enjoy doing, but it does take money to run all the things associated with A Legacy of Faith. The helps of our supporters is very much appreciated.

Those who contribute at least $5 each month to our work are Debbie Hallman, Janis Taylor, and Faapisa. For their contributions each month, we say a heart-felt “Thank You!”

Now, on to our family links for this week.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

An Easy Way to Do Family Devos {Life in the Kingdom}. A great resource recommendation for families with smaller children!

Losing Children {The Morning Drive}. If you’ve ever lost a child for even a few moments, you know the panic that sets in. But what about losing a child spiritually? Shouldn’t that cause us to work hard to never lose them?

Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults {Christina Cleveland}. I do not agree with some of the denominational terminology in this post, but the overriding principle is one that every congregation needs to read very thoughtfully.

Leaving a Legacy of Faith for Your Children {for the family}. Okay, if you include “A Legacy of Faith” in your title, we are going to notice, but this is a very powerful post anyway.

Yes, You Can Make TV Time Count {Common Sense Media}. Watching TV is not always a bad thing, so what can parents do to make the best use of watching a TV show or movie with their kids? This post gives some helpful suggestions to show that watching television need not always be a mindless activity.

3 Ways to Watch Your Mouth in Marriage {iMom}. Communication is important, but the Bible warns us over and again about the need to guard our words. That can be a struggle, even in marriage.

Jesus Cares about Your Haircut {Your Mom has a Blog}. This post is not going where you might think, but is a powerful reminder that every child needs to hear: Jesus knows you and cares for you!

When Kids Tend to Blame Others {National Center for Biblical Parenting}. Some very practical tips to help parents guide their children when they play the “blame game.”

What to Do When Your Kids are Texting Instead of Talking {Mark Merrill}. A great post on managing electronics and keeping the lines of communication open in your home.

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily written during the last 7 days, but they drew the most views in that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (July 5, 2013)

#4: A Reminder from a Difficult Child (March 18, 2015)

#3: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

#2: A Seven-Word Sermon (March 16, 2015)

#1: The Worst Thing That Could Ever Happen to You (March 17, 2015)

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Episode 23: What Families Can Do to Support the Church {Podcast}

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March rolls on, and we continue on the podcast to talk about the relationship between the church and the family. This week, Leah could not be with Adam to record, but the show much go on, so Adam speaks about some things families can do that will support the church.

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Show Outline

6 Things Families Can Do to Support the Church

1. Teach and show proper respect for authority

2. Maintain proper discipline

3. Teach and maintain proper priorities

4. Grow a love for the local congregation

5. Teach and show basic concepts of stewardship

6. Cultivate an appreciation for true worship

Why Do We Often Fail to Do This

1. It’s hard!

2. We’re too busy doing our own thing.

Episode Resources

[Podcast] “Training Your Children for Worship

[Podcast] “Our Thoughts on Smart Money, Smart Kids

[Book] Smart Money, Smart Kids

[Printable pdf] “Training for Worship” Family Devotional Guides

More from A Legacy of Faith

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——————

Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

A Reminder from a Difficult Child

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We are blessed with two good kids, but they are not always so good. And, especially when he was younger, our son was quite the difficult child at times. He has shown himself to be stubborn and to have a very strong temper.

Thankfully, we are seeing him grow and mature, but that old way still comes out at times. And, considering they are still kids, both our children are difficult at times.

If you are parent, you have had those moments. You just wonder how you can handle that child. You throw your hands up and wonder if you can do it. You cry or just get totally frustrated.

All children are difficult at times, and some are just difficult nearly all the way through. It is just a fact of life. Even parents who say they had easy children, if you push them enough, will admit there was a season when it wasn’t so easy, or a negative trait that had to be overcome.

But the next time your child has one of “those” seasons, or the next time you are ready to just quit, may I challenge you?

Remember that God is your Father, and you aren’t that easy, either.

Think of where you were when you began your spiritual journey, and you will see quite a few rough edges. You will notice times along the way where God had to discipline you out of His love. You will see multiple times where you failed Him.

In short, you are a difficult child.

But your Father stays with you and helps you grow into who you should be to His glory…

…which is exactly your job as a parent.

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The Worst Thing That Could Ever Happen to You

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The worst thing that could ever happen to you would be for you to always get your own way. That’s right, there could be no greater problem than if your life were completely free from problems. What kind of person would rise from years of nothing but good things happening all the time? Such a person would not have the opportunity to develop character. There would be no leaning on sources of greater strength. There would be no need to work on any type of solution. There would be little thoughtfulness of the plight of others. A problem-free life is a life devoid of the existence of a deep and abiding faith.

Noah became Noah through the flood. Abraham became Abraham through the offering. Moses became Moses through the wilderness. David became David through the battle with the giant. What was only unrealized potential in these heroes of faith would never have surfaced without the circumstances for which they would have never asked.

How would you like to live through 120 years of boat building only to see the world nearly come to an end? Or how would you like to have to sacrifice your child? Would you want to be exiled for 40 years in a desert, or would you be excited about facing a nine-foot warrior one-on-one with the fate of your nation hanging in the balance?

There is life as we see it and then there is life as God sees it. It is absolutely essential to our personal growth that we meet difficult and sometimes insurmountable challenges. God knows we cannot face these challenges alone, and so He operates in such a way to allow for these challenges so that we can rely on Him to deliver us. Paul said,

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

Funny, isn’t it, how we pray for things to go just as we hope they will? Later on, we find out that we were much better off not getting what we wished for. Even in the lean times, when we have desperately cried out for the removal of a situation or circumstance that we never wanted, we end up realizing that the answer was not for God to immediately remove the obstacle from our path. Christianity is the discipleship of Jesus, who Himself prayed for the cup to pass but instead was glorified by the drinking of even the very last drop.

The next time you think you are in the worst place you have ever been, the next time you see no hope, no light, no solution – consider Jesus. This is not the worst thing that could ever happen – it already happened to Him at Calvary. It happened so you would not get your own way about everything. It happened so you would realize that His way is best.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord. Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust…”

– Psalm 40:1-4a.

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