Category Archives: Church Life

Time to Prepare

Jim and I were privileged to attend an annual holiday dinner for those over 65 years of age where our son preaches. We enjoyed the visit with those people so much. The food was delicious and the talent show that followed the dinner was so much fun.

One of their older members led the prayer before dinner and I appreciated all that he said in that prayer, but one statement really caused me to begin to think. He thanked God that He has given us time to prepare for eternity.

I’ve spent some time pondering on that and I began to wonder if I fully realize that whatever time I spend here on this earth is the time I have to prepare for eternity. Do I just let one day flow into the next day without a real purpose in mind? Do I fritter away time that could be spent doing something that helped prepare me for eternity? Do I recognize the blessing of time to prepare? Do I really understand that for which I am preparing, or is living here on earth all that is important to me?

Here are some thoughts for your consideration:

  • As a wife/husband am I spending time in God’s word studying what He wants me to be in that role? You see, God in His wisdom gave us guidelines all throughout His word concerning the role of wife/husband. A simple study of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 would not only help with our home life but also teach us that the husband-wife relationship is a picture of what the church should be like. Since those who live faithfully in the church will be in heaven one day, I need to prepare by being the kind of wife/husband I need to be.
  • As a young Christian person, am I focusing on God’s command to obey my parents? Many today show no respect for parents (and many parents neither demand nor deserve respect), but God’s word is clear concerning this (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). When you make that decision to put Christ on in baptism, you need to begin preparing for eternity by being obedient to your parents.
  • As an employee, am I preparing for eternity by giving an honest day’s work for a day’s pay or am I simply being a people pleaser (Col. 3:22)? So many today work from their homes, and it would certainly be tempting to just do the minimum and then relax the rest of the day. When you travel for work, do you put in your time and fulfill your full obligation, or cut back just a bit because you are away from home?
  • As members of the body of Christ, are we preparing for eternity by the example we set – in our Bible study, attendance, benevolence, lifestyle, dress, language, entertainment, etc.? Do we just fit in here with the world because that is where we are now, so we’ll live like everyone else around us (2 Cor. 6:14-18)?

I’m praying you’ll add to this list those things which apply specifically to your walk of life.  Isn’t it time for all of us to focus less on the here and now, and more on our eternal home?

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also”  (John 14:2-3 ESV).

Are you preparing for eternity while blessed with the time to do it?

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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Surveying the Old Testament

About 2 years ago, the class I teach on Sunday mornings at 9th Avenue started a major project. We began a survey of the entire Bible. The key word is “survey.” We are not going verse-by-verse. I prefer to say we are going “chunk-by-chunk,” as we are trying to simply see the big picture of Scripture and the major movements of each book.

Last Sunday, we completed the Old Testament, as we surveyed the book of Malachi. I am really proud of the students who have been there for these two years. I know I have struggled to teach some of the portions of the Old Testament, but I have prayed over and over again that our knowledge has grown.

While there are almost countless lessons I have learned from surveying the 39 books of the Old Testament, here are 5 “big picture” lessons that I have taken away over the last two years of this survey.

It Really is All about God. That’s what we are calling our survey: “It’s All about God.” But it is more than a class title. On every column of every page, one simply cannot miss the power, providence, love, wrath, mercy, wisdom, and counsel of God Almighty. Tied to that, I have been reminded of the balanced picture of God that is sometimes lost on those who do not look carefully at the Old Testament. Too many paint Him as some tyrant when there is so much love and grace in the Old Testament.

Sin is Atrocious. Especially as we have looked recently at the prophets, God’s abhorrence of sin is so clear. But when we dig into the accounts of the Old Testament and gain some understanding of what sin does to individuals, families, and even nations, it should help us only draw ever nearer to the Lord. To say some of these accounts are grotesque and frightening is an understatement.

God is Patient and Faithful. If we just read through the Old Testament–maybe in a daily Bible reading plan–one simple fact that can easily be missed is just how much time elapses. Yet, through the centuries that pass in Old Testament history, God continually reaches out to His people despite their rebellion and sin, and God is patient with them far longer than any human could ever be. Further, the covenant God makes with Abraham and then with His people Israel? It is upheld perfectly by the faithful Father, though the people break their covenant multiple times.

Jesus is Everywhere. While the Old Testament is simply building our anticipation for the Promised One, glimpses of Him are all over the place! The number of prophecies and pictures that give us glimpses of the Messiah are staggering if we would just take the time to notice them. It makes turning that “blank page” over to the New Testament so much more exciting.

I’ve Got a Lot More to Learn! There were portions of the Old Testament I had barely studied in depth before. This survey “forced” me (in a good way!) to study them more in-depth, but I came away realizing that I have a great deal more to learn. Books like Ezekiel and Zechariah challenged me greatly but left me excited to tackle them more in-depth in the future.

As I said, I really don’t know how effective I am being as a teacher, but my prayer is that the students are excited about what they have learned. And, now, as we turn to the New Testament, I pray they have a greater background to grasp so many of the pictures and fulfilled prophecies found in these final 27 books.

[By the way, for each book of the Bible we study, I create a simple handout with some background information, so the students can build a small notebook. If you would like to view, download, or print the handouts that I have completed, I upload them to this page on our website, and they are free. Enjoy!]

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: Thoroughly Reviewed on Creative Commons

People of the Book

God has always wanted His people to be “people of the book.” He had Moses write down the book of genealogy so that man could trace himself back to Adam and thus remember his Creator (Genesis 5:1). He had Moses read the book of the law to the Israelites so they would vow to keep every word (Exodus 24:7). Joshua also read the book of the law to God’s people, including every blessing and every curse (Joshua 8:34). Providentially, God allowed Hilkiah, the priest, to find the book when it had been neglected and lost (2 Kings 22:8). Later, after the Jews had returned from captivity, the book was read once again to the whole congregation by Ezra, the scribe, instigating a national revival (Nehemiah 8:1).

In every circumstance, God required that his people take an oath that they would know the book. He made them promise to obey every word in the book. God promised that they would be blessed or cursed based on their keeping or not keeping the words of the book. Every step, every ounce of success for God’s people was always directly related to the book. You can check the book itself.

The success or failure of mankind still rides on the knowledge of and keeping of the book. But in our day and time, there are only a few people in existence who are truly people of the book. Consider the facts:

  • Most people have never studied the Bible. I am not saying they haven’t read the Bible, but rather, they have not studied it. There is a big difference.
  • Most people do not take Bible class seriously. They see it as optional, a bonus, or an unnecessary part of church participation that is for teachers and preachers.
  • Many people scan the Bible looking for answers to certain questions. They do not realize that the best answers are found through a balanced understanding of the entire work.
  • The world, in general, does not show the proper respect for the Bible. If they did, they would not talk about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit as they do. If they did, they would not teach and practice religion the way they do.
  • Satan is keeping the world busy. Too busy with work, school, and recreation for people to spend time listening to what God has to say in the book.

This article is not meant to be harsh, judgmental, or cynical. Its purpose is to remind the reader of the great opportunity God’s people have to be people of the book. When you are people of the book, you know the will of God. When you are people of the book, you can find heavenly answers to earthly struggles. When you are people of the book, you have the peace that comes with knowing that regardless of what you are dealing with, God will deliver you. When you are people of the book, you can do more than feel like or hope that heaven will be your home, you can know it. When you are people of the book, you think differently, act differently, and live differently – and it makes your life and the life of every person around you – better!

Every generation of people has the responsibility to be a people of the book. May we not forget!

And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.” ~ Nehemiah 9:3

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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum


One would like to think that a place of worship would provide a safe environment for people. Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case. 

Not long ago, the largest mass shooting in the history of the state of Texas took place on a Sunday morning at a relatively small church in a small town. According to one report I read, every person who was in attendance that Sunday was either killed or wounded. As the news began to spread, it was widely reported that a total of twenty-six people lost their lives that day. 

I was intrigued by the wording of a report posted a week later on I found one portion of that report to be especially interesting:

The Texas Department of Public Safety said the victims included 10 women, eight children, seven men and the fetus of one victim, Crystal M. Holcombe

The reason I find that wording interesting is that Crystal M. Holcombe was in her eighth month of pregnancy when the shooting took place. Both she and her unborn child (and other members of her family) lost their lives that day.

In the week between the shooting and the report I read, it seems that The New York Times found a “workaround” in order to suggest that a child who had been in the mother’s womb for eight months was only a fetus. If they had given the total number that had been widely reported, they would have included this unborn child among that number. Their worldview apparently would not let them do that, so they broke the numbers down in order to let their readers “do the math” and draw their own conclusions.   

Some may wonder why the original reports used the number twenty-six as the total of people killed on that Sunday morning. The answer may lie in the laws of the state of Texas. 

According to

Texas was among the first states to pass a fetal homicide law. The state’s penal code includes a definition of ‘an individual’ as ‘a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.’

I will not take the time or space here to delve into all of the scriptural, moral, and/or legal arguments that may help to explain why I am opposed to the evil of abortion. I think that the state of Texas did a pretty good job of that in their fetal homicide law.

Until the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which was handed down in 1973, one of the safest environments for an unborn child was in the womb of his/her mother. Since that decision legalized abortion, that is no longer the case.

Since the decision in that case was handed down, a huge number of unborn children have never been blessed with the opportunity to worship or to do anything else. Their lives have ended before they ever left the safety and security of the womb of the mother.

That number of abortions is significantly more than one (the unborn child whose life was ended in Texas recently). It is significantly more than the total of twenty-six who lost their lives on that day. 

It is significantly more than the total current population of the entire state of Texas. In fact, it is a little more than twice that number. According to the latest figures I can find, the population of Texas is 28,797,290.

As I type these words, the current number of abortions performed in this country since 1973 is 59, 937,525 – and counting! (There is actually a website – – that has an “abortion clock” which allows you see that the number change every few seconds.)

It is my prayer that the “creative reporting” of some segments of the news media will not somehow obscure the fact that every soul is precious; including the souls of the unborn. May we never forget that the number of people who lost their lives in a small church in Texas was –


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: Kelly Sue DeConnick on Creative Commons

What Makes a Day Good?

Do you ever have one of those days where you just realize all is going well and things are good in the world? I had one of those today and as I sit here tonight trying to reflect, it makes me wonder: what was so special about today?

What made today so good compared to yesterday or tomorrow? Nothing spectacular really happened. I did manage to get up on time, which is always a nice start for me. It was a normal day at school with a positive start celebrating a recent success of some of my kids. I still had lessons to teach and paperwork to complete. Some of my students were good; others were challenging. I dropped my ranch dressing and made a mess in the floor, but I also had a student find a welded sound without even being asked! My sweet husband brought me a diet soda because I had a faculty meeting straight to a band concert and finally got home after over 12 hours away.

I think, as I sit and reflect on why today was one of the “good ones,” I have realized that my reaction to events and my attitude were a large part of what made the day good. I didn’t take every event – good or bad – and make it all about me. I just let the day happen and was thankful.

In this very busy season, where it is all too easy to let small frustrations ruin a day, don’t miss the gifts God is giving you in each day: the smile of a child, the warmth of a hug, a sincere compliment, air to breathe, people to love. Those things are around us every day, but sometimes we miss them.

As I looked for a Biblical thought to put with what I am trying to express, I was thinking about attitude. And the best example of that (and everything else) is – of course – Jesus, our Savior. In Philippians 2, we read about His attitude of always giving, always emptying Himself on our behalf. That will go a long way in helping you have good days!

Continue reading the book of Philippians and you find another simple, yet powerful, thought that can help you as you seek good days:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

How Titus 2 Will Transform a Church (and Save a Bundle of Money in the Process)

Families are struggling. Even in the church, families are going through rough times. We can act like it isn’t happening, or we can face it head-on.

While there is nothing wrong with this approach, for many congregations the default response is to hire someone. “Let’s get a younger preacher who can relate to these families.” (Never mind the fact that, since he’s young, he’s probably struggling, too!) “Let’s add a family minister to our staff.” “We need to add a counseling center.”

Trust me, none of these are necessarily bad things, and in many cases, they can provide a great help to a congregation.

But in our rush to think of staffing as the solution, are we forgetting a Biblical (oh, and far less expensive) method? It’s found right in the middle of the book of Titus, and it might just transform a congregation.

Interestingly, chapter 2 begins by introducing us to the phrase “sound doctrine” (which just means “healthy teaching”). Typically, when we think of “sound doctrine,” we think of issues like the plan of salvation or pure worship. Those things are true, but what is interesting is this: that’s not the subject under consideration in Titus 2. What is? What is the “sound doctrine” Titus is supposed to preach and hold to? The relationship between older Christians and younger Christians!

For example:

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in the faith, in love, and in steadfastness. (Titus 2:2)

Don’t you think there might be some younger men who would see that type of example and understand what it means to be a godly Christian man? What if these older men were willing to teach some classes or even just take a younger man under their wings and show them what it means to walk in the faith?

What about our Christian ladies? Paul had that covered as well, and it didn’t take bringing on another staff member:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (verses 3-5)

It’s simply about living the right way and being willing to pour that into the next generation.

Here’s what I often see as a problem, though. Younger men and women (and I’ll let you decide what is “younger” and “older”) have some issue and, instead of the church asking a wise older person to teach or help, they simply go to their peers for advice or (more often) validation.

Of course, we need peers as friends. They can provide a sounding board and a place where we can know we are not alone.

But God’s Book says the older ones are to be teaching the younger ones how to do things in this life God’s way!

Older Christians, that means it is time for you to step up to the plate and do what God has commanded you to do! Instead of seeing an issue and helping to pay for another staff member, you roll up your sleeves and help that struggling dad or that hurting mother! You show them what God’s Word says and you share your immense wisdom with them.

But younger Christians, that also means you have to swallow your pride, not think you or your generation has it all figured out, and actually listen to the wisdom of these wonderful saints! Instead of trying to seek out a hired hand who is more “relevant” and in the same boat, why not listen to someone who has been there and still carries himself or herself with Christian grace?

You want to transform a church and help your families? I’ll take God’s plan any day of the week!

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

3 Ways to Stay Positive When You Are Depressed

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….It’s the hap..happiest season of all.” That’s what the song says anyway. It would be great if this were truly the case in every situation.

But in reality, the holidays can be stressful. There are so many things to get done, and the weather turns dark and dreary and cold. People are more depressed from December to February than during any other time of the year. And if there have been major disappointments or if there has been recent loss of life, Christmas can be far from cheerful. So here are a few tips on how to stay positive when all of the circumstances around you are trying to get you down.

1. Remember Your Pit. This week was the 13th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I can tell you I have vivid memories of events and emotions back when I was first thrown into the pit. But I am not in that place today. Level ground sure does feel pretty decent when you remember what it was like to be in deep despair. I think of Joseph, who was cast into a pit by his brothers. I imagine getting out of that pit was his salvation. Even though he became a slave, and even though he was the victim of a terrible lie, and even though he was thrown into prison, eventually he was delivered and became second in the kingdom. Any difficult days Joseph experienced along the way were probably never as bad as the pit. If you want to stay positive and content with today, remember your darkest hours, compare those hours to the salvation of today, and give thanks!

2. Remember Your People. We have all had people and do have people that mean a great deal to us. If we have done anything well, or significant, or if our lives have amounted to anything at all it is probably because of the people who were present long before we had matured enough to accomplish anything. There is a reason Hebrews 11 was written to early Christians. It was a reminder for them to not be discouraged and to press on based on the examples of those who had already endured and won the victory. “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us – looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2). If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Elijah was told by God when he thought he was the only one that there were 7,000 more people just like him. You have people! You have them in the past, you have them in the future, and you have them today! Press on with them! Press on for them!

3. Remember Your Propitiation. “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). To be forgiven, to be redeemed, to be blood-bought, and to be heaven-bound is truly amazing! Jesus has done that for us. He is our propitiation. The word “propitiation” is similar to the word “atonement” or “appeasement” and it basically reminds us that because of Jesus, everything is going to be ok. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful for the grace of God. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that I am truly loved and worth dying for.  When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that this moment of darkness is only temporary. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that anytime now he is coming back to take me home to eternal glory.

I want you to know it is ok to be depressed sometimes. You are a human being and that means you are beset by weakness. Things in life happen and you will be hurt and disappointed from time to time by people and circumstances and just plain old living. But God is above the clouds. Your pit is temporary. Your people are nearby.  And your propitiation is in heaven – watching, guiding, and interceding on your behalf every single day.

There’s more to be glad about than sad about. He was born. He was here. He is risen!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Huge Leadership Principles in One Short Verse

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the unusual tactics employed by Gideon to win a battle against seemingly insurmountable odds. We are given this information in Judges 7 about the size of the opposition to Gideon and his men:

…the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance (Judges 7:12).

As the events recorded in Judges 7 progress, we learn how Gideon’s army shrank from 32,000 to 300. Those of us who are familiar with this material are aware of how that “winnowing’ was done. It is not our purpose here to comment on that.

Our purpose here is to consider some leadership principles suggested by one verse in this inspired account. It seems that these principles would be helpful for any who, like Gideon, are called upon to lead. They would be especially helpful for those, again like Gideon, who are called upon to lead God’s people and to lead them as they deal with what seem to be overwhelming odds.

The verse I have in mind is Judges 7:17:

And he (Gideon) said to them (the 300 men), “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do.”

Did you notice some very important principles in those few words? Gideon then (and godly leaders now) will encourage people to –

  • Look at me

The religious leaders during the days when our Lord was on the earth loved for people to look at them. They wore special clothing and publicly performed various “religious acts” in order to be seen. 

Jesus was not favorably impressed by them, though. He said, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matt. 23:5).

This is not the kind of leadership exemplified by Gideon. It is not the kind exhibited by godly leaders today. It most certainly was not the kind exhibited by the greatest Leader who was ever on the earth.

People need somebody to whom they can look for guidance, confidence, and security. This is especially true when we are engaged in a great spiritual battle. Those who lead God’s people today need to be those who have complete confidence in God, His Word, and His promises. 

Would you voluntarily follow a military leader who told you that there is no chance of winning, but that “We’re going to fight anyway?” Would you play for a coach who told you that the game was already lost before it ever started?

When people looked at Jesus, they saw One whose trust was so complete that He was willing to suffer in terrible ways in order to fulfill God’s plan. He knew that, even though it might look like some battles might be lost, the war would ultimately be won. 

Godly leaders today should follow the example of Paul, who was inspired to write:

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

  • and do likewise

Jesus was not only critical of the pride and arrogance that characterized the religious leaders of the Jews. He was also critical of them because “…they preach, but do not practice” (Matt. 23:3).

This, of course, is in stark contrast with His ministry. Consider the opening verse of the book of Acts. Luke begins his second book with these words: “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1, emphasis added).

There is an old adage that suggests that one cannot push a string. A string must be pulled. That illustration is used to drive home the point that leaders, by definition, lead!

If leaders of God’s people want those under their oversight to be more loving, the leaders need to be more loving. If the desire is to be more evangelistic, they need to be more evangelistic. If there is a need for more commitment, devotion, etc., all of that should start with the leadership. 

  • When I come to the outskirts of the camp

Have you ever noticed where the head coach of a football team is during a game? I can tell you from some very limited experience as a coach that standing along the sidelines is one of the worst places in the world to “see the big picture” of a football game. 

The assistant coaches and others who are positioned high above the action have a much better view and can get a lot better perspective than the head coach who is standing along the sidelines. They may also be sheltered from some inclement weather that the head coach is having to endure with his team along the sidelines.

Did you catch three important words in that last sentence? Those words are with his team! His team needs a sense from the coach that “we are in this together.” One way to do that is to be physically with them during “the heat of the battle.”

It might work to yell “sic ‘em” to a dog, stand back, and watch the dog take care of whatever situation needs to be taken care of. That doesn’t work with people. Effective leaders don’t just shout orders; they roll up their sleeves and get involved.

  • do as I do

In some ways, this phrase may be seen as a repetition of some of what has already been discussed. In at least one way, though, I believe that there is a slight difference. What has been discussed thus far does not necessarily involve action.

At least, it does not have to involve action of a positive nature. It might have been possible for Gideon to have been telling his men to watch him for a sign to retreat or to do a host of other things that would not have been productive.

However, as we learn as we keep reading Judges 7, Gideon had a definite plan in mind. In order for that plan to be successful, it had to be implemented. In order for the plan to be implemented, action had to be taken – by Gideon and by those three hundred men.

Effective leaders lead by example. Effective leaders lead by action. Effective leaders can, with confidence in God and the support of others, accomplish great things for the Lord. 

The most effective Leader the world has ever known did not choose three hundred to carry out His plan. He chose only twelve to be His apostles. After the defection of one of them, He gave only eleven men an almost unbelievable task to “…teach all nations…” (Matt. 28:19) and to “…preach the gospel to every creature… Mark 16:15). He also promised to be with them as they carried out what we know as “The Great Commission” (cf. Matt. 28:20).

It is my prayer that those today who lead the people of God in any way will realize that those “marching orders” are still in force. It is also my prayer that godly leaders today will follow leadership principles found in a variety of places in God’s Word.

Hopefully, these thoughts about the principles practiced by Gideon will be helpful in some way.

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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Is Thanksgiving Over?

The turkey is all gone. The other left-overs have all been eaten or are growing fuzz in their containers in the refrigerator. The blow-up mattresses have all been deflated and put back in their containers. The blankets and extra pillows are back on the closet shelf. The sheets, towels, and tablecloths are all washed and back in the linen closets. Games and songbooks are neatly stored in the cabinet and basket in which they live. 

The noise and laughter of eleven people being under one roof is gone and the house is very quiet again. The memories of funny stories and actions live on in our minds, but Thanksgiving 2017 is over.

Those of you posting on Facebook something for which you are thankful are finally finished since today is the last day of November. When you wake up tomorrow you won’t have to come up with something to post. Yay!

But, for the Christian, should thanksgiving ever be over? Consider, if you will, the following verses from God’s word:

  • David, after being delivered from his enemies, said: “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name” (Psalm 18:49).
  • “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1).
  • “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” And again, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:1,8).
  • The apostle Paul was a firm believer in giving thanks to God. In both of his letters to the Corinthians, he referenced thankfulness. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57), and, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15)
  • He was also thankful for those who were close to him in heart: “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15,16), and “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
  • And then his all-encompassing statement concerning thankfulness: “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

This list could go on and on, but you surely get my point. Every day we live should be full of thanksgiving to the One who created us and continues to bless us. Even in those tough times we all face, God should be thanked. Did you miss that last reference I included in my list? “…In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (emphasis added).

Let’s work together to change how we view thanksgiving. Let’s change our everyday focus from looking for the bad things that are going on in our lives, to seeing the good all around us. When something negative comes your way, search for that glimmer of good that is somewhere in it. I promise, it’s there!

How different our lives would be if we would just focus on that with which God has blessed us and convey our gratitude to Him. Those around us will notice – at home, in your congregation, in your neighborhood, at Wal Mart, or wherever you happen to be.

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100)

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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

What is Your Identity?

We live in a time of labels. Everyone has to have an identity and we seem to want to group together with people based on certain labels. More than that, we live in times where we are continually standing for “rights” or “privileges” based on those labels.

Some are gender-based.

Some are based on ethnicity or skin color.

Many in our modern culture base their identity on their sexuality.

We describe ourselves by our jobs, or marital status, teams we root for, and more.

It seems that, unless we fit into a certain category, we aren’t accepted by today’s world. It’s almost as if you have to check just the right boxes or you aren’t part of the groups that really matter in modern America.

Here’s my problem, though: I see too many Christians standing for these labels and failing to remember a vital fact. What’s the vital fact?

If you are a Christian, that is your identity!

It is not that I stop being male when I become a Christian, but that’s no longer what defines me. Christ is my identity. (By the way, that means that, while there are different roles that men and women play in both the home and the church, there is zero difference in their worth before the heavenly Father.)

It’s not that I no longer am married; but Christ defines all that I do in that role as a husband, because He is my life. (By the way, that means that I will follow what Christ says and love my wife as He loved the Church, being sacrificial for her in all that I do and not seeking my own way all the time.)

It is not that issues of sexuality do not matter anymore, but I will follow what Christ has to say about even that area of life, because He is my Lord and Master. (By the way, that means that only monogamous heterosexual relations between a husband and wife are acceptable to the one who follows Jesus.)

When Christians start identifying themselves by other things first, those things begin to cloud their thinking. I start to think of myself as a Republican or a Democrat. I start to identify first as an American or a person of another nationality.

But when I remember that I put Christ on in baptism, that I wear His name, and that He is my Lord, that must become the only primary identity I wear.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn