Category Archives: Church Life

Preachers’ Wives’ Retreat

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This may sound like an odd topic for a Legacy of Faith post. You may also think it is only for a very limited audience, but I hope you’ll take the time to read this post.

While doing a lesson for preachers’ wives at Polishing the Pulpit several years ago I made some comments about this role that touched the hearts of several people. One lady in particular, Carrie Voss, came up to me and said, “We need to have a retreat for preachers’ wives and you need to speak at it.” I agreed that it would be helpful for ladies in the same role to gather in one place, and I agreed to be the speaker (in the back of my mind thinking it would never happen). I underestimated Carrie!

A few weeks later she contacted me to say she had found a place to have the retreat and gave me the date. I don’t remember what each lady paid to attend the retreat, but it was minimal and, working with that limited budget, Carrie made it all happen. Twenty-seven preachers’ wives of all ages gathered together for a weekend of sharing, laughing, crying, singing, praying, and enjoying the company of those who understood the role of a preachers’ wife.

This year (2016) we had our fifth retreat and I was again privileged to speak to a group of eighty-six ladies from all over the United States. The retreat has not only grown in number, but also in helpfulness for those attending. Classes on many different topics are held and break-out sessions on how to handle certain situations are beneficial to all in attendance (especially those who are new to this role of preacher’s wife). 

I want to share with you just a short list of blessings I take away from the retreat:

  • Love. I come away from the retreat feeling more love for God and His word as well as more love and respect for my husband as he does this important work. I also come away from the retreat with love for the women I meet who tirelessly work, supporting their husbands in this great task.
  • Encouragement. It is so helpful to realize that Christians are never alone. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of this, especially if you are a preacher’s family living some distance away from parents and other extended family.
  • Understanding. As we interact with each other at the retreat I gain understanding about how to deal with certain situations. 
  • Forgiveness. This is sometimes very difficult when feelings are involved, but the retreat helps me understand that I need forgiveness on a daily basis, so I must learn to forgive others also.
  • Strength. It is important to be spiritually strong. Just as we gain strength when we worship with our church family, as a preacher’s wife, I gain great strength by gathering with other preachers’ wives.
  • Joy. When I hear beautiful voices blending together as we sing, laughter as stories are told, conversations as meals are shared, prayers led from sincere pure hearts…I cry tears of joy.
  • Thankfulness. I come away feeling thankful for so many things…God and His word, my husband, my children and grandchildren, my role in life, my brothers and sisters in Christ, these fellow preachers’ wives, and the list could go on and on. 

If you are reading this post and you are a preacher, try to encourage your wife to attend next year’s retreat. If you are not a preacher, why not give this information to your preacher or his wife, or maybe one of the elders who may encourage your preacher’s wife to attend next year’s retreat? 

If you are a preacher’s wife, take steps toward attending next year’s retreat. You’ll be so glad you did!!! I sure would love to see you there!!!

The 2017 Preachers’ Wives’ Retreat will be held in Bowling Green, Kentucky on April 28-30, 2017. Registration cost for the retreat is $50.  Contact information: www.preacherswiferetreat.com or carrie@aspoonfulofmagictravel.com

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”   Psalm 16:11


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Your Day Has Not Been Wasted

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…if you have reached out to someone with the Gospel of Jesus, the only message that can save their soul.

…if you have encouraged someone who is downtrodden.

…if you have been faithful to your spouse and shown that you would marry him or her all over again.

…if you have told your children you love them and spent time pouring into their lives.

…if you have drunk deeply from the Word of God and drawn ever closer to Him.

Then, no matter what else you might not have gotten done, or what you feel a failure for, your day has not been wasted.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

You Say You Want to Go to Heaven, but You Really Don’t…

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Take a poll of any cross section of people and ask them if they want to go to heaven. Most would reply with a resounding, “Yes!” Now take another poll asking the same question to only Christians. Your positive answer to heaven should be near 100%.
But it is time for a Christian reality check. Because while your words say you want to go to heaven your actions clearly state that you don’t.
1. If you really wanted to go to heaven, you would talk about it more! Now that summer is approaching everybody is talking about their plans. They boast of vacations to the beach and treks all over the country. Facebook posts and Instagram pictures and all other forms of social media are replete with nothing but the excitement and documentation of these journeys. But rarely do I hear such excitement from Christians about going to heaven. I don’t see stories of how they were able to secure tickets or how much they anticipate the experience. And I don’t see them inviting their friends and family to come with them. Why not? I must conclude that people are investing more of their heart in these temporary trips.
2. If you really wanted to go to heaven, then you would be getting ready! Every trip involves preparation. We buy new things for trips. We get our clothes washed and packed. We arrange for all business to be taken care of. We make sure even those for whom we are responsible are provided for. So many Christians must not really want to go to heaven because they have not started packing. If anything I see them getting more and more things that they don’t need for the journey. Their spiritual clothes are dirty but they have just been piling them in the hamper. And they are not taking care of the spiritual business of forgiving others, repenting of sin, and preaching the gospel. I must conclude that not getting ready means not really wanting to go.
3. If you really wanted to go to heaven, then you would want to go right now! Who wants to go to the beach? Who wants to go to Disneyworld? Usually, everyone says, “I do and I want to go today! I can’t wait!” But ask most Christian people about heaven and they say they want to go later. They have things they still want to do and see here on earth. They might say they want to watch their children and grandchildren grow up and that they want to live a full life here on earth first. I don’t recall 1st century Christians ever feeling that way. 21st century Christians don’t get it. How sad! Obviously, they don’t understand heaven. They have missed the whole point. Once you have been raised with Christ you are supposed to, “Set your affections on things above; not on things of the earth. For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3). I must conclude that people who want to go to Florida today and heaven later must really, really love Florida more than they should. Or maybe they just don’t realize how superior heaven is to the beach and God is to music stars and Mickey Mouse.
You see, if you really wanted to go to heaven, it would be in your heart and mind with such anticipation, that you could hardly stand another minute of this old world. You would talk about it, prepare for it, and desire it all day, every day. It is hard to long for heaven and earth at the same time. Our hearts and our citizenship can only reside in one place.
Maybe we should take that poll again…Do you really want to go to heaven? Help me to believe you…
“Earth holds no treasures but perish with using, however precious they be. Yet there’s a country to which I am going. Heaven holds all to me” – Tillit S. Teddlie
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Motivated by What?

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Recently, I was preaching in another community. During my time there I saw something that I thought was worthy of some consideration.

What I saw was a church sign. That’s not really all that remarkable. I have seen more church signs than I can remember. We even have one where I preach!

Most church signs inform those who pass by about the identity of the group that meets inside that particular building. Other information that is deemed pertinent is usually included on those signs (schedule and times of classes and services, phone number for the office, etc.).

Sometimes some of those signs have other messages. The message may change from time to time. One of my tasks at a congregation where I used to preach was to regularly put something on our sign that was scriptural, informative, helpful, thought-provoking, and/or challenging. 

Sometimes those signs have a permanent message. Often that message seems to be intended to serve as a “slogan” for that particular group. At other times, the permanent message is something that the people hope will further identify them and/or provide helpful information.

If the message on the sign I saw recently is intended as their “slogan,” they may want to do some rethinking. Here is that message:

MOTIVATED BY PRIDE

I wondered what these people are proud of? Is it their history? Is it the service they offer to the community? Is it their “standing” in the community? Is it their name (which is not found in the Bible)? Is it their doctrine (some of which also lacks a biblical foundation)?

I do not know what they are proud of, but I am afraid that I know one thing. I’m afraid they’ve missed a very important emphasis in the New Testament. 

The highest (and really only) motivation for a Christian or a group of Christians is not pride. It is not even what might be considered the opposite of pride; humility.

What Paul wrote may never appear on anybody’s church sign. It does appear in God’s Word, however.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3, ESV, emphasis added).

Whether the discussion is about my (our) service to God, our relationship with one another, or our attempts to “…seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), it is absolutely imperative that we must be…

MOTIVATED BY LOVE


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Soren Keirkegaard on Why We Treat the Bible As Difficult [Quote]

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The End is Near!

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“The end is near!”

How do those words make you feel? Well, if you are like most people, it probably depends on the context. Right now, those words sound glorious to me because I thought of them in reference to the fact that school ends for the year in just 2 days.

Summertime, here we come!!!

As I thought about what those words mean to me right now, it made me consider how they make me feel in a spiritual context. How do I (or you) feel when I think “the end is near” in reference to my earthly life as a whole? James 4:14 tells us that our lives are like a mist or vapor that “appears for a little time and then vanishes.” So, to borrow a phrase, while the days seem long, the years are short.

Does this make me uncomfortable? Or do I have the same attitude as Paul in Philippians 1:21 where he wrote, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Do I look forward to the coming of Christ with expectation and hope? Can I end my prayers the way John ends the book of Revelation: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”?

It is my prayer that I can hear the words “the end is near” in reference to my life and be filled with “the peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) because “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12).

I hope you can, too.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:38-39


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About Video Games in Worship

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I see it virtually everywhere I preach, both at 9th Avenue as well as in various guest speaking opportunities. It is a trend that is disheartening to me, not just as a preacher of the Gospel, but also just one who loves the hearts of children and who wants to see them grow to love God and His Word.

It is kids playing video games during worship.

They bring their iPad, tablet, or phone and while many of us are singing “I Surrender All,” they are striving for a high score. While we are praying to God, they are playing baseball. While we are mining the depths of God’s Word, they are on Minecraft.

Parents, may I just ask: what are we teaching our children about worship?

It’s boring.

It’s only for adults.

It can’t compete with electronics.

It’s something you do if you can’t find something more interesting.

Those lessons, spoken or unspoken, are what your children are picking up when you allow them to play games during worship.

And I know that there are plenty of Bible apps and websites that are also being used by some. That said, I have randomly asked children at places I have spoken about what they were doing on their iPad (or other device) during worship. Never–not a single time–has it had something to do with the sermon. It has always–every single time–been about playing a game or watching videos. (Yes, I’ve seen kids with headphones hooked up to their tablet during worship. Not a good way to show that they are paying attention to the worship service!)

Is this what we want for our children? As we are gathering around God’s throne to praise His holy name, do we want our kids to be off in virtual gameland? If I may say so, I want my children right in God’s throneroom with me as I praise Him!

Excuses, More Excuses

“They can’t sit still through a whole sermon.” “They pick up quite a bit as it is.” “They don’t understand what’s going on.” “It helps me worship because they are still and quiet, at least.”

I’ve heard all the excuses. They just don’t fly. Worship is something that children must be trained in, and it starts when they are very little. What’s more, if they are trained how to act during worship when they are younger, children will most likely come to enjoy worship as they grow up.

Of course, children will be restless during worship (especially the sermon). That’s part of it, and it is understandable. But putting Temple Run in front of their face is not the answer. All that teaches our kids is that they can act up in worship, and they are rewarded for it!

What Can I Do?

I am not saying that children–especially smaller children–need to sit perfectly still during a worship service with just a King James Bible open to the text for the sermon.

But there are far better things to do, or even to give your children, than a video game (or social media access, for the older ones).

When they are really small, give them Bible pictures, Bible story “board-books,” or even small stuffed animals (and whisper in their ear, “God made the dog on day 6,” or “God made the birdie on day 5”). That way, though they have something in their hands, or that they are looking at, it is teaching them to focus on their wonderful Lord during these few minutes.

As they grow a little older, Bible story books are a good idea. Also, make sure they are at least trying to sing and that they are still during the prayers. They can do this much!

Another idea is to have little worship worksheets that they can draw and write on. (Note: We offer these for free in our “Training for Worship” pdf that’s in our store. Again, it’s free!) These sheets let them write the names of the songs or something we prayed about. Have your children draw a picture of something the preacher talked about on the sheets, or write down the verses he used in his sermon.

It’s Not Easy, but It’s Worth It

I know that all this means that you may struggle to worship at times. During those younger years, those children are forming such valuable thoughts in their little minds. Wouldn’t you rather struggle a little bit and have them grow up loving to worship and understanding what is going on?

Then please, not for the sake of the preacher, but for the sake of the souls of your children, nix the video games.

Replace Mindcraft with Matthew.

Replace Temple Run with Titus.

Replace sports games with singing with grace.

God is worthy of your effort. It will be a fight for awhile, but the eternal destiny of your child is in the balance. It’s worth every effort.

Resources

“Training for Worship” [Arrows in Our Hand podcast. Contains other helpful links, especially for parents of smaller children.]

“Training Your Children for Worship” [A Legacy of Faith podcast]


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Dry Places

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Jesus once healed a man that had been mute and demon-possessed. The multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel” (Matt. 9:33). The Pharisees, however, were not so thoroughly convinced. They claimed that Jesus had cast out demons by Beelzebub, ruler of the demons (Luke 11:15). In Luke’s account, Jesus answered their challenge by appealing to the nature of any kingdom – “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls (Luke 11:17, NKJV).

Jesus went on to explain that it would make no sense for Beelzebub to cast out his own (Luke 11:18-19). He testified that His casting out demons by the power of God was a sign of the establishment of His kingdom (Luke 11:20). He proved by both word and work He was mightier than any devil, even as a strong man may be overcome by one who is stronger (Luke 11:21-23).

Speaking about the nature of unclean spirits, Jesus continued, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest and finding none, he says, I will return to my house from which I came. And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order” (Luke 11:24-25).

There is something in that phrase – “he goes through dry places, seeking rest and finding none” – that speaks to the common calamity of man in his search for spiritual peace. Men often seek for rest in places that do nothing but leave them with empty, worthless lives, with nothing eternal on which to lean.

Consider the pursuits of wealth and fame, and all physical, temporary pleasures. Think of the variety of dry places to which humanity goes looking for fulfillment. None of these hold the key to happiness and rest. Paul said to Timothy that these are but a “temptation and a snare…foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9). If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that sometimes we go looking for comfort in dry places.

Jesus said that the evil spirit is wise enough to eventually realize that the only solution is to “return to the house from which I came” (Luke 11:25). The prodigal figured this out as well (Luke 15:17-18). Hopefully, we too will be wise enough to see that our own safe resting place is in the Father’s house (John 14:2).

Jesus ended His teaching here with a warning. Although the evil spirit had been removed from the man, He said that spirit’s ultimate goal was to return with “seven other spirits more wicked than himself…enter and dwell there,” and then,“the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:26). Satan’s temptations will not end. The harder we try to fight him, the more concentrated He will become. The only solution is to make sure that we clean the house and lock the door.

Jesus Christ is the stronger man. He can overpower Satan and reign in us if we let Him. He will not lead us to dry places, but into green pastures and beside still waters (Psalm 23:2). As Jesus finished speaking, a woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed you!” (Luke 11:27).Jesus responded with the formula for avoiding dry places. He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).


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If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words… (A Short Post on Modesty)

It has probably been over a quarter of a century since I first saw the cartoon reproduced below. I have tried at various times over the years to find it. I was unsuccessful until somebody posted it not long ago on Facebook.

I will let the picture speak for itself with only a few statements from me. 

First, in the past twenty-five years or so, even the outfit on the right would cover more than what some wear today.

Second, a similar picture could be produced showing the inconsistency in the wardrobe choices of some men and boys. What if a t-shirt and boxer shorts were on the left and what passes for swimwear for guys was on the right?

Third (and sadly), I know some who wear the name of Christ who need to consider this. I pray that all of us will.

WORLD'S STANDARD - GOD'S STANDARD


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Episode 54: “Small Changes, Big Results” with Scotty Studer [Podcast]

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Every person and every family would like to be better in various areas of life. Oftentimes, though, we see changes as massive and overwhelming. In his new ebook, Small Changes, Big Results, Scotty Studer shares 26 ways we can see great results in different areas of our lives with just a few simple but intentional changes. On the podcast this week, he talks about the ebook, and shares a few insights just for our podcast listeners.

LOFpodcast

Get the eBook for Your Kindle

Small Changes, Big Results [Amazon Kindle store]

Other Resources/Links Mentioned in the Program

Screen Free Weekend” [previous podcast with Scotty]

Scotty Studer’s website

“Power for Today” [devotional magazine]

5 Minutes with God [Amazon]

5 Minutes with God, volume 2 [Amazon]

Meditations of My Heart [Sain Publications]