Category Archives: Church Life

One Thing You Lack

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In Luke 18 (and Mark 10), we read the account of the rich young ruler who famously asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Imagine his excitement when Jesus began naming off things he had done, in his own words, “from [his] youth.” Here is where the rich young ruler and I part ways.

You see, most people use this passage to talk about how Jesus can see into your heart and know what “one thing you lack.” And He can do that with ease. He knows our every thought. Of course, He knows what we lack! But here is what I am thinking …

I wish I only lacked one thing!

I’m afraid that if I asked Jesus where I was lacking, the list would be long. No, scratch that. I know it would be long. But this post isn’t a plea for people to reassure me or a pity party, because I believe all of you who are reading this are in the same boat with me! Not to be insulting, but we all lack a lot.

That’s why grace is so wonderful! We can never be good enough, check off enough commandments, fulfill enough areas of service … do anything to merit heaven. In fact, God made it that way so that we can never even try to take credit for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Because of this amazing grace we are able to celebrate the fact that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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 8:37-39)

Because of God’s grace we can thankfully say with Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am,” (1 Corinthians 15:10a) and like the Ethiopian eunuch who contacted that grace through baptism in Acts 8, we can go on our way rejoicing instead of hanging our head like the rich young ruler. We know we are lacking but our God–and His grace–is not!


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Free Resource: Ruth Review Sheets for Family Devotionals [Printable]

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Several months ago, we shared with you some review sheets we used in our family to teach and review the book of Matthew in our family devotionals. [Find out more here.]

Today, we are sharing another book of the Bible and (are you ready?) next week we will release another!

The free pdf we are sharing today is from the book of Ruth and consists of a single pdf that is divided into six lessons. Each lesson contains questions straight from the text (usually about 8-10), review questions (3 or 4), and one memory verse.

As usual, I made these on my lunch breaks or between meetings, so you will probably find a few typos or some questions that could be worded in a more succinct fashion. Still, we hope you find these sheets to be a good aid, and that they help your children learn the wonderful and beautiful account of Ruth.

To preview or download the sheets in pdf format, click on this link or on the picture below.

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Finally, to access our store, which contains several other free printables, follow this link. We hope these free resources help your family dig into God’s Word together!

As we said, another freebie is coming next Wednesday! Be on the lookout for it.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

You Are Not Good Enough

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I have good news and bad news. What do you want to hear first? Usually, people say the good news. That has never made a whole lot of sense to me. I want to hear the good news last. I want to end on a positive note. So let’s go against the grain and start with the bad news.
The bad news is that you are not good enough for God. You are not good enough for heaven. You in many ways are not even good enough for the kingdom (church) in the sense that your example is often imperfect and your hypocrisy can at times be more of a detriment to the cause than it is a blessing.
This bad news leaves you in a lost state. There are no good deeds you can perform to make up for the sins you have committed. Sin separates you from God (Isaiah 59:1, 2). And there is not one person who is going to go through adulthood without sinning (Rom.3:23). Not one is righteous (Rom. 3:10). If we keep the entire covenant and yet stumble even in just one aspect we are guilty of the whole thing (James 2:10). So yes there is bad news – I mean really bad news. Your sin disqualifies you from ever being perfect and good enough to enter heaven. You are in a serious bind.
Ok, on with the good news. The good news is that Jesus is good enough. Before he was even born his parents were told to name him Jesus (“Jehovah is salvation”), “…for He will save the people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). He was tempted in every way a human being can be, and yet did not sin (Heb. 4:15). Knowing no sin he became sin on the cross for us and paid the price of death so that the rest of humanity could become the righteousness of God through him (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus became the answer to the fact that the human race is not good enough.
At the end of your life, you are going to step on the scale. You are going to be judged, weighed, and examined. And this is a very fearful thing because as we have already stated, you are not good enough, and you are not going to measure up, no matter how good of a person you are in this life.
But what if when it was your turn to step on the scale, Jesus stepped on it for you? What if he was the one who was examined, judged, and weighed? What if he took your place? In that moment, you would understand grace. In that moment, you would be thankful that somebody died so that you could live.
All the time I hear people saying they could never be a Christian because of all of the terrible things they have done.  They say they could never be forgiven. They say that they could never be good enough for the church or heaven or God. Well, guess what? Join the club.
But Jesus is good enough. And this is why he came. He came so that we could understand the grace and love and mercy of Jehovah. He came so that we could rise above our limitations as human beings and experience the joy of being children of God. He came, so that our eternal part, the part he made in his image, could reach its potential, and forever live in heaven with him, the Father of us all.
You are not good enough. As long as you are in the flesh you never will be. But Jesus is good enough.
This being the case, isn’t it about time you stop trying to earn your way to heaven? Isn’t it about time you stop with the excuses and feelings of inadequacy? Isn’t it about time for you to come to Jesus?
“But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” – Hebrews 7:24-26
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“…To No One’s Regret”

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Power, notoriety, and influence do not necessarily translate into respect, honor, and love. This can be seen in the inspired information we have concerning a man who had all of the former and none of the latter.

His name was Jehoram. During his life, he held a position of great authority. He was the king of Judah for eight years. You can read some information about him and his reign in 2 Chronicles 21.  That information ends with these words:

He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed to no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. (2 Chron. 21:20, ESV, emphasis added)

My purpose here is not to delve into a study of Old Testament history. Our interest here is not to go into (gruesome) details about the manner of his death.

What that verse has made me do and what I hope it will encourage all of us to do is to look into the mirror. Better yet, in the words of scripture, “Examine yourselves…” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Will there be any regrets when I die? Will there be any when you die?

Will my wife miss my voice, my company, and/or my embrace? Will she only miss the paycheck I faithfully brought home each week or the interesting things we bought or did together? Will she find that they can have those things and do those things just as well without me? Will I be no more to her than whatever inheritance and/or insurance policy I leave behind? Will she remember and miss a man who demonstrated the kind of love Paul writes about in Ephesians 5:25?

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (ESV).

What about my children and grandchildren? Will they only be proud of whatever success I’ve had in my chosen career? Will I have been a stranger to them during my life? Will they have any memories of me other than watching me as I left the house and came home from whatever that job was that I had?

Will they know that their dad loved them more than he could ever express? Will they remember sacrifices of time, energy, and financial resources that were made because of them? Will they remember a man who took seriously his duty in providing spiritual instruction and training to them?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4, ESV)

Will any of my church family, my neighbors, and my friends miss me? Will they notice that I’m gone? Will they regret that I’m gone? In Matthew 5:13, the Lord refers to those who are truly His followers as “the salt of the earth.” Will people who knew me remember me in that way? Will they remember me as one who “added flavor” to the lives of those with whom I came into contact or as one who was good at “rubbing salt into wounds?” 

Maybe another passage would be instructive as each of considers how we are to live our lives and what kind of legacy we will be leaving:

The years of our life are seventy,

or even by reason of strength eighty;

yet their span is but toil and trouble;

they are soon gone, and we fly away…

So teach us to number our days

that we may get a heart of wisdom

(Psalm 90:10, 12, ESV).

Surely none of us would want people to spend the rest of their lives in mourning once we are gone. If we truly love people, it seems to me that we would want them to “go on with their lives.”

At the same time, I pray that it could never be said about any of us that he/she “…departed to no one’s regret.”


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Episode 63: Personal Evangelism in a Small Town (with Rob Whitacre) [Podcast]

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Every Christian knows that personal evangelism is not optional. However, when you live in a small town or rural setting, it is easy to come up with excuses to not teach others the Gospel.

On this week’s podcast, recorded at Polishing the Pulpit, Rob Whitacre joins Adam to talk about how personal evangelism can be done in any setting. They also discuss how every member of the family can play a vital role in helping to lead someone to Christ.

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Resources

World Video Bible School [homepage]

Contact Rob Whitacre to order “Personal Evangelism Seminar” on DVD

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Spiritual Beauty

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A couple of weekends ago, I spoke at a ladies’ day on the topic of spiritual beauty. As I prepared for this topic, I consulted Sheila Butt’s book, Seeking Spiritual Beauty.

In chapter 4, Sheila writes,

We need to make sure that young ladies in the church are taught and demonstrated the right priorities. We need to let them know that they are made in the image of God and that they are very special. We need to praise them for visiting the nursing homes and taking care of a young mother’s children for her. We need to praise them for their modesty and their love and concern for others. And most of all, we need to be modeling spiritual beauty for them.

I remember thinking that most people would say they agree with this statement, but so many people don’t live their lives in agreement.

For instance, how many parents will spend vast amounts of time making sure their children excel at sports but don’t have time to make sure their children could say the books of the Bible? How many parents arrange schedules to accommodate all the activities their children are involved in, but draw the line at the church event that they “don’t have time for”?

You see, our lives are a living picture of what we think is valuable. If we believe something is valuable we prioritize it. When we allow the spiritual things in life to be crowded out by worldly, physical things, we are making the statement that spiritual things are not as important. Our kids will hear that statement loud and clear.

When we praise them for visiting nursing homes as much as we praise them for scoring the winning basket, when we praise them for understanding the book of Galatians as much as we praise them for understanding math, when we praise them for being kind and considerate as much as we praise them for having beautiful clothes, they’ll believe us when we say that “Spiritual things are more important.”


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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

What Have You Done for Him Lately?

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I love hearing Christians tell stories about people they have helped. It encourages me to hear about someone they have taught the Gospel to who is now a faithful Christian. It motivates me to hear about a missionary they have supported or a case where someone needed benevolent help and a Christian stepped up and provided it.

Personally, I do not ever try to listen to these stories as if my brothers or sisters are bragging. Rather, when we have a “win,” we like to talk about it. And that is great!

However, I sometimes hear something in these stories that truly concerns me.

[Disclaimer: I am just as guilty of what I’m getting ready to say as anyone else. That’s why I’m writing this post!]

That concern comes from this fact: often when these stories are told, it is as if the person was helped or taught just a matter of a few days or weeks ago. As the story unfolds, however, it might have been years or even decades since this brother or sister aided that person.

Even more tragical is this: sometimes, it is the last person that Christian really, sacrificially stepped up and helped!

As Christians, we get rejected or hurt so often that, when we finally have a “win,” it can be easy for us to rest on our laurels. After all, we have finally helped someone become a Christian, or we have had an opportunity to truly sacrifice to help someone in the name of Jesus. So, we can carry that victory with us for years (or more) and point back to it as our defining moment.

If we are not careful, though, we can treat that one event as just a checkmark we have made.

I’ve held a personal Bible study with someone. Check.

I’ve given a significant amount of money to someone. Check.

I’ve supported a missionary out of my own pocket. Check.

All those things are good, but Christianity is not about checking something off a list one time.

Christianity is a lifestyle!

In other words, I need to ask myself: am I continually and constantly seeking to teach people the saving message of Jesus, or am I just resting on the fact that I did it one time?

Am I looking for opportunities to give and help in sacrificial ways on an ongoing basis, or am I satisfied with the fact that I did it one time for “that guy” way back in the day?

Am I constantly praying for, and seeking to help as I am able, good works (such as missionaries, children’s homes, and Christian schools) or do I just remember that one time I did so and think that is enough?

Christianity is more than doing a good work. It is about constantly being the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” It is about consistently letting our light shine so that God gets the glory (Matthew 5:13-16). It is about doing good at every opportunity we might have (Galatians 6:10). It is about continually going and making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

In other words, Christianity is about being like Jesus, who did not do one good act then fold up His ministry and say, “Look at that one thing I did back then.” It is about following the example of the One who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).

Be grateful and proud of your victories. Never forget them, for they give you motivation and joy.

But ask yourself daily: what have I done for Him lately…

…or even today?


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

A World War II Veteran and the National Anthem

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Last Monday evening I was given the opportunity to speak at a small congregation during their series of gospel meetings. At the end of the service, as we were exiting the building the local preacher introduced me to an elderly gentleman who was walking out.  I noticed he was using a cane to steady himself. The preacher informed me that this man had fought in the Battle of the Bulge. This immediately encouraged me to have a conversation about the man’s work and sacrifice in that effort.
He was still fairly light on his feet and his eyes had not dimmed. He was mentally intact and well-spoken, yet humble, quiet, and kind. I thanked him for his service to our country. His words were few, but he told me that he was not drafted for the cause, but that he volunteered for it because he believed in it so completely. He also said he was so thankful for the home front. He said if it had not been for all of the support the armed forces had been receiving from home they would have never been able to have success in the battle overseas. For three and half years this man, now mid-nineties, had fought and sacrificed and given his life to his country. As he passed me and headed down the church steps I could have no other feelings than appreciation, thanksgiving, and respect.
Imagine believing in something so strongly that you would be able to offer up your life for it voluntarily! There was a time in the history of our nation when what we were doing and why was entirely more clear. With all of the recent controversy and media hype over the Kaepernick kneel at the playing of the national anthem, I am reminded that those who are now choosing to kneel have been given that freedom by none other than the people who once bled and died for its existence.
If there is any kneeling to be done, let us kneel at the feet of those who made our country great! If there is any kneeling to be done, let it be out of respect and sadness and humility rather than out of protest! If there is any kneeling to be done, let it not be for our personal, divisive, political agenda but rather let be for no other purpose than to serve and protect and sacrifice and pay honor to the colors of freedom and the unity of the hearts of the people who still live in the greatest country in the world!
There is another emblem of freedom that was first raised at Golgotha. It stands today as a symbol of international and eternal freedom for all those who come to terms with its meaning. When its song calls to us, will we hear it? Will we obey it? Will we respond to it? Those who sit in church buildings and refuse to observe its anthem are no different in some respects than those who declare citizenship and yet refuse to observe the very call that makes them free.
But you cannot be drafted. You have to volunteer. You have to believe in the cause so completely that you would lay down your life for it. That’s the only way true freedom has or ever will be gained.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” – Mark 8:35
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[Quote] What the Abundant Life of John 10:10 Means

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Source: God’s Game Plan: Strategies for Abundant Living (page 18)

Let’s Get Together and Eat

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How often have I said those words? How often have those words been said to me? I couldn’t even begin to guess how many times in my life as a minister’s wife I have extended that offer, or had that offer extended to me.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear, “Let’s get together and eat?” If you’re like most people you begin to think of all of the restaurants that are in your town or city. We all have favorite places that we love to eat, and we frequent them often.

But, what happened to the time when an invitation to get together and eat meant preparing a meal in your home and enjoying the company in a quiet, inviting atmosphere? 

The home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus comes to my mind. I’m sure when Jesus came to their home, a meal was prepared. After all, wasn’t Martha “distracted with much serving?” (Luke 10:40) Don’t you know that Jesus and those with Him enjoyed a time to have a meal and just sit, relax, and talk?

And that’s the point, isn’t it? We are all so busy and caught up in our own lives that we can’t even take the time to make a meal for our own family – much less prepare one for company! 

May I suggest a return to the practice of the hospitality of inviting people into your home for a simple meal and some comfortable conversation? Here are a few people who need to be invited into your home:

  • Those who can’t afford to invite you into their home. They seldom get invited to someone’s home to eat because they can’t return the favor. 
  • That young couple you may have noticed at church who seem to be struggling in their marriage.
  • The elders and their wives who spend so much time and effort in watching for your souls.
  • Those widows and widowers who spend many hours at home eating alone.
  • Those teens who love to have a devo in someone’s home instead of in the fellowship building.
  • Those who have demanding work schedules and don’t get home-cooked meals often.

This list could go on and on, but I think you get my point!

Why not come up with a simple menu, straighten up the house, and invite someone over to eat a meal at your dining room table? Then you can move to the “soft chairs” and have some conversation. They will never forget your hospitality. You will never regret the blessing you will receive from this simple act of hospitality.

Let’s change the meaning of “let’s get together to eat.”


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