Category Archives: Church Life

The Universal Church

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As you begin to read this short article, please do me a favor. Please do not think in any way that I believe that I know more than other people just because I have been out of the country. Please do not think that I am prejudiced against any person in this part of the country. Please understand that this article is being written out of a pure heart and sincere love for God and His people. With these things in mind, I would like to address some problems that exist in the minds and hearts of many Christians.

1. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who do not have a global view of the church. They may not even have a respect for the needs to establish the church on a national level. Sometimes we are limiting our focus to the local congregation. Although God has organized the local church and has commanded us to be a part of it, we are supposed to have the best interest of the souls of all people in every country in the world in our hearts. I have heard many Christians over the last few years asking why we are still going into other countries with the gospel. The reason is simple: Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature…” (Mark 16:15-16). He also said, “Go there and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matt. 28:19). The great commission has not changed. The entire world will always be in desperate need of the good news of Jesus Christ.

2. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who would be uncomfortable in the true church just because it might be in a different setting. While recently across the world, I was blessed to worship with people of a different nationality, different skin color, different language, and different culture. Their social customs were not always easy to adjust to. The buildings they met in were not as comfortable. But I want to tell you that I was spiritually blessed beyond measure. To see the Bible being obeyed in the same manner by a group of individuals across the world is a reminder of the power of God and the truth of His Word. The building, the pews, the temperature, and all of the physical blessings are absolutely nothing more than facilitators. The core of the matter is the truth of the doctrine and the humility of the hearts that have assembled to obey it. If you have never worshiped with brethren across the globe – oh what you have missed!

3. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who are not concerned about the lost enough to say anything. If a truck were bearing down on you, about to run you over, at some point I would be forced to jump in and push you out of the way. I would have to hate you a great deal to do nothing. The road to hell is wide. But we don’t want to offend anyone, so we are willing to let people who have been created in God’s image travel on it. We ought to have the mind of Christ, who left the comfort of heaven and emptied Himself to die on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). I have recently determined in my own life a recommitment to evangelism. I am going to take some risks in my relationships because I love people too much to be popular with everyone by remaining silent.

People need the Lord. I am one of them. Whether in our community or across the world, without the blood of Jesus, there is not a person on this earth that will enter heaven. So for those who live next door and for those who see a different set of stars than I do, I am going to do my part.

“And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.” ~ Acts 10:42


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Will You Trade Places with Me?

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About a month ago, we had a native of Antigua, Guatemala as a guest speaker where I preach. During his lesson, our brother made what seemed to be an off-hand remark. It didn’t seem “scripted.” It just seemed to happen.

At one point in his presentation, he was talking about our nation. He shared with us his opinion that we are blessed to live in the greatest nation in the world. He made it clear that his opinion was that of an “outsider.” Brother Isaacs was also talking about the fact that he is not a citizen of our nation. 

During the portion of his presentation in which he was talking about our nation, he made a couple of statements and asked a question that still rings in my ears. His statements were to let us know that he is, in fact, not a citizen of the United States and that he would like to be. It was at that point that he looked at one of our members and delivered the “off the cuff remark” that has stuck with me ever since:

“Will you trade places with me?

I thought that, just before our national holiday we call Thanksgiving Day, it might be a good time to remind all of us that there are millions, if not billions, of people in the world who would trade places with any one of us in a heartbeat. That, in itself, is something for which to be thankful. 

I am very well aware of the fact that, as a nation, we have drifted a long, long way from the moorings that were dear to our Founding Fathers as they began this grand experiment called “The United States of America.” At the same time, I am also well aware of the fact that we are, indeed, blessed more than many of us realize to be able to be citizens of this wonderful nation. Hopefully, our brother’s remark will help us to express our gratitude to God every day for blessing us so richly. Hopefully, too, it will encourage us to pray and work in order to make this a nation which is, in fact, under God. That will be my prayer this Thanksgiving Day.

I hope that you and your family have a wonderful day this Thursday. I hope that the day will help you to remember all of your blessings and the One who is responsible for them.


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How Deeply Do You Love the Local Church?

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Some time ago, I was visiting a small congregation nearby for an event. The fellowship was sweet, as I knew a fairly large number of the people who were present. Following the event, we stood around and talked for a long time.

One of those who was present was an older gentleman who I would guess to be in his early 70s. He is a true “gentle” man, and a person I admire. The place where this event was occurring was his home congregation, and he walked up to me, shook my hand, and thanked me for coming.

Then, a few tears began to moisten his eyes. Honestly, I didn’t know what was happening, but what he said next caused me to think very deeply. I don’t remember his words verbatim, but here is something very close to what he told me:

We had such a good crowd today. It reminded me of the old days, when this room was full every week.

I didn’t know how to respond, but I said something like, “It certainly has been a good day, hasn’t it?”

His response, still with a few tears in his eyes, was remarkable. This gentle older man looked at me with a determination that is too rarely seen, and he said, “I think we’re going to do that again.”


I love that there were tears welling up in his eyes for both statements, both one of sadness and one of strength.

It made me think about how deeply I love the local church. And it made me think about how much I want it not just to “stay the way it is,” but to grow and prosper. I want the congregation where I work, worship, and serve to be a shining light that the community cannot miss and that glorifies God throughout the world.

God loves local congregations. If He did not, there would not be so much of the New Testament written specifically to certain congregations (Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, et. al.). Jesus would not have had John write seven short letters to seven specific churches to point out both their triumphs and their failures (Revelation 2-3).

But sometimes it can be easy to love just the “comfort” of a local congregation and to not love it the same way Christ does. No doubt, the local congregation should be a family, and with that atmosphere comes a level of comfort.

To truly love the local church as deeply as Christ does, though, I must work for it! I must help it grow! I must talk it up and not run it down! I must show others how wonderful it is! I must want others to be part of it! I must be active in it!

Are you just remembering the good ol’ days with a few tears, or are there still some tears that well up in your eyes when you think and dream about what could still be yet to come? The answer to that question may be enough to show how hard you will work and fight for the local church.

“For Christ and the church” be our earnest prayer,

Let us follow HIs banner, the cross daily bear;

Let us yield, wholly yield, to the gospel’s pow’r,

And serve faithfully ev’ry day, ev’ry hour.

(E.E. Hewitt)


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Holiday Suffering or Holiday Cheer?

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When the apostle Paul wrote by inspiration to the church at Corinth, he sadly had to discipline them concerning their improper observance of the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Corinthians 11:17 he begins such a discussion by saying, “Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.” They had been commanded to come together by the Lord, but they were dishonoring the feast. You see, it is entirely possible for us to assemble for all of the right reasons while doing all of the wrong things. If this were to be the case, it would be better for not to assemble at all.

With this in mind, I think about the coming of the holiday season. There will be more “coming together” in the next two months than during any other time of year. Whether they be family gatherings, office parties, or joining with friends, there will be a great deal of assembling. I think in the midst of all of it, we might want to remember why we are going to be gathering in the first place.

Hopefully, we won’t be gathering out of a sense of obligation. Usually about mid-November I start hearing the horror stories of families who are dealing with dreadful turmoil anticipating the “well we have to do this so let’s get it over with” holiday season. What’s the point? Are we really accomplishing anything running to 5 or 6 different places just trying to make sure nobody is offended? Are we really going to force false holiday greetings when there has been no desire to reconcile problems and conflicts in a meaningful way for perhaps years at a time? If we are coming together let’s do it because everyone wants to. How does God feel when people decide to visit His house because they feel obligated?

Hopefully, we won’t be gathering out of a sense of social or vocational pressure. How many Christians will attend office gatherings and other social holiday parties where things will be going on that they completely disagree with from a moral standpoint? Is our desire for popularity or our hope to move up the business ladder worth sacrificing what we believe? Will we subject ourselves to problems and temptations and say that we are doing this all in the name of Jesus? If you make a decision to attend any questionable social event, are you naïve enough to think that your influence and your Christian walk will go forward unaffected? Again, how does God feel when His blood-bought people choose to cash in their eternal inheritance by refusing to be separated from the world?

Hopefully, we won’t be gathering out of a sense of materialism. Christmastime can become the perfect monetary storm that delivers a family to financial ruin if they are not careful. The constant pressure from society to buy and buy and buy some more is a relentless wave of deception that will eventually bring us and our bank account to our knees. And what for? Does the health of our relationships with family and friends hinge upon how much money we are foolishly spending? Are we really so enamored with the physical world that our happiness depends on how many gifts were given and or received on December 25th? Will God be pleased with people who are possessed with possessions more than they are with the spiritual and eternal blessings He has freely given to us all?

Paul told the Corinthians in essence that they were ruining the most wonderful time of the week because their priorities and activities were completely out of control! In the same way, what we often call “the most wonderful time of the year” can become the most terrible time of the year if we forget why we are coming together. We need to be dedicated to the principle of gathering for the better and not for the worse. If we assemble, let’s do it to bless one another and let’s gather to the glory of God!

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him.” – Psalm 89:7


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Salty or Seasoned with Salt?

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Have you ever heard anybody’s speech/language described as “salty?” You don’t hear that expression as much as has been the case in the past. What it usually is referring to is what could also be described as “very colorful language.” In other words, we are talking about something that is, at best, questionable and, at worst, vulgar.

In those days when this expression was more common, “salty language” was offensive to most people. To be sure, there were those who thought it was cute, funny, etc., but most people were turned off by both the language and the person using it.

All of this came to mind when I recently thought of Paul’s admonition to Christians in Colossians 4:6:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

I believe it is fairly obvious that Paul was not advocating rude, crude, vulgar, offensive, and/or suggestive language. What, then, could he have meant?

The answer may be found in our Lord’s dealing with the person we sometimes refer to as the “woman at the well” (cf. John 4:4ff). As you read this account of His earthly ministry, you will notice that He was critical of both her lifestyle and her religion. He made it very clear that He approved of neither.

However, He was able to discuss these matters with her in a way that did not offend her. Instead, He was able to communicate in a way that turned her into one of His “promoters.” It could be said that His discussion of “living water” made her thirsty for something she did not have. 

Speech that is gracious–seasoned with salt–has a way of doing that. Salty language does not!

As I interact with people, I need to ask myself whether my speech and my lifestyle create in others a desire to know more about Jesus or if they alienate people. Do I give people hope or do I make them feel hopeless? Do I offer help or do I write people off?

How about you? Is your speech salty or is it seasoned with salt?

The eternal destiny of others–and yourself–may depend on your answer.


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Time for Tuning?

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It was past time. After moving from California to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and then to 2 houses in Cookeville, Tennessee, my husband’s childhood piano was desperate for a tuning. Granted, it had only been sounding really “off” the last few weeks so we really made it longer than one would expect between tunings, especially considering that we have 2 children who have taken lessons and it is a preferred way for Jeremiah to relax.

But lately, things just hadn’t been the same. Chords weren’t ringing true. Melodies were slightly off key. All in all something just wasn’t right. So we called in the expert: the piano tuner. Not only did this man show up with all the right tools, but he has an impeccable ear and is vastly talented at playing the piano himself. By the time he was done, our upright was back to its rich, full, finely-tuned sound. And then he scooted the piano back in place.

That’s all it took. Already a couple of strings were back out of tune! Thankfully, he was the one who double checked and made the necessary adjustments before he left. I was amazed! Several moves, including across the country before we needed a tune up and then one little shift in position and it needed work again.

Later, as I considered what I had seen with our piano tuning experience, I began to see a spiritual application. Sometimes we go a long time before reaching out to the only One who can set things right in our lives. At other times, some small thing happens to us and we immediately turn to Him. The key here is not how long it takes us to realize that only the Master can make our lives a thing of beauty again. The key is that He is always there, always with just the right tool and the perfect “ear” to make our lives sing His praise in perfect harmony with His will once again. He, and He alone, is the master tuner of our lives.

Psalm 95:1-7 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods.  In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.”


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3 Powerful Lessons from Suffering

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Michele Cushatt is a lady I admire from afar. I have known of her name for a few years, due to her interaction with Michael Hyatt. Some time ago, she became the co-host of Michael’s weekly podcast on leadership, “This is Your Life.”

On this week’s episode of the program, Michele tells her own story of triumph. You see, she was not on the program for quite a long time, because she was battling cancer. I do not want to give away too much of her story, but her cancer surgery caused her to lose–and have to have reconstructed–about two-thirds of her tongue. (And keep in mind, part of her work is as a paid public speaker.)

On the other side of her surgery and treatments, she speaks openly about what she has been through. And on this week’s podcast, Michele ended the show by sharing three thoughts. When I heard them, I knew I wanted to share them with you on this blog.

We all suffer in various ways, and perspective is key to how we face any struggles we might go through. To help us, here are the three thoughts from Michele that I found powerful.

  1. Suffering is inevitable. If you think you will get through this life with no suffering, you are fooling yourself. While we do not need to sit around and wait for bad things to happen, we need to realize that something is going to happen at some point. That helps us when the “why” question starts to rear its ugly head. Sometimes the “why” is simply because people suffer.
  2. The lessons are invaluable. If we go through suffering without learning lessons, we are even worse off! We learn lessons about ourselves, about the faithfulness of God, about true friendship, about priorities, and more. Hearing or reading from people who have been through suffering and have learned from it is a powerful tool.
  3. The rewards are incomprehensible. Suffering sometimes can even lead to the end of our life, but the rewards we gain from suffering can be absolutely amazing. For faithful Christians, even if our life ends, we gain the greatest reward possible. But should our suffering not lead to death, there are still rewards that we might have never considered before the storms of life overcame us.

I have not gone through protracted periods of major suffering in my life, but I have been knocked down a number of times. For those seasons, I am thankful, because God and true friends have seen me through. Maybe you are suffering as you read these words. I pray Michele’s reminders help you and give you strength as you face each day.


Michelle’s website

This is Your Life [Podcast with Michael Hyatt]

“The Transformative Power of Suffering” [The program I used for the inspiration behind this post]


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

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Why We Can’t See What We Are Doing

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You can’t see what you are doing. There is an object that is blocking your view. Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 7:1-5:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Why are we so preoccupied with everyone else’s behavior? Is it really that we care about the souls of others? Is it really that we want God and His word to prevail? Is it really that we want the church to shine in this dark and sinful world? Is it really that we are saddened by the choices and activities of those who should know better? If all of these things are truly the things about which we are concerned, do we have the same level of indignation about them in our own personal lives?

Many people abuse this passage and determine that Jesus is saying that people can do whatever they want to do and that they are not to be judged for doing it. To conclude such would be a gross mishandling of the text. Ecclesiastes states that, “…God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:14). And while Jesus here condemns hypocrisy, He does not condemn making wise and righteous judgments (John 7:24). The point of emphasis here is not the do’s and don’ts of what is morally right or wrong.

Jesus was teaching a lesson about self-awareness. This whole passage rises and falls on the reality that we are all sinful, and that we need to concentrate on fixing those individual problems which are going to cost us our souls. The plank has got to go – as does the speck! But the reason the speck is rarely removed is because we are trying to get it out when the beam remains. So when it comes to our noble efforts to correct others, this is why everybody always ends up poking each other in the eye.

Guess what, friends? There is sin in the church. There are people who attend worship with you that are worldly, who have terrible priorities, who are not serving, who have negative attitudes, and who generally are making the church look bad to the rest of the world. But before you start fixing everybody’s spiritual problems, make sure that you do not fall into the same category as they do. One of the saddest sights in the Lord’s kingdom is observing a Christian dogmatically correct another Christian while the rest of the church watches that same Christian overlook a major flaw they have themselves.

How ironic it is that we always think we have the speck and the other person the plank! Work on YOU! (Phil. 2:12). Work hard on you! And when you have been humbled by the process of plank removal you will be much more careful to patiently and lovingly help another person remove that which takes a lot of time and a delicate attention.

It is your job to help others! But it is also your responsibility to make sure you can see what you are doing.


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If Nobody Objects

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Donna and I had a new experience fairly recently. For the first time in our lives, we attended a Home Owners’ Association meeting. In many ways, it was an educational and very interesting experience. 

I think I may agree with our son. When I texted him and told him where we were, he sent back a message that he had attended one such meeting while he and his family lived in Nashville. He also said that he’d only learned one thing–to never go to another one!

My education began at the very beginning of the meeting. The person in charge informed the residents that there is now a minister (me) in the community. 

That brief introduction was followed by a statement that was my introduction to a way of thinking that was foreign to me. Our new neighbors were told that I had been asked to open the meeting with a prayer and would do so “if nobody objects.”

To me, those three words are merely one indication of how far (in the wrong direction) we have traveled as a society. I believe that to be true for at least a couple of reasons.

First, I am old enough to remember when public prayer was the norm in all sorts of situations. It was almost unthinkable to begin just about any gathering without a prayer. Sadly, those days are vanishing; if they have not already vanished.

Secondly, I was reminded of the power of a small, but determined minority. It seemed obvious to me that one objection could have derailed the plan that the meeting would begin with a prayer. 

I am, in no way, in favor of a powerful majority trampling on the rights of an oppressed minority. At the same time, I am growing very weary of a vocal minority “setting the agenda” for a society, a community, an educational system, and/or the church. 

The fact of the matter is that I did pray. The meeting was conducted. After the meeting, we adjourned.

As we took one of our neighbors home and then went to our own house, I thought, “This is not the same world in which I grew up. This is not even the same world in which I spent my earlier adult years.”

If things keep going in the direction they are and with the speed they are, I’m wondering how many restrictions will be placed on my children and grandchildren by the time they are my age. I’m wondering whether they will run afoul of the governmental officials and enforcers of the law if they choose to even pray privately

I, for one, would like to sound an alarm that we are in very serious trouble if we do not return to God and His Word–and do that sooner rather than later. Later may be too late. 

I need to sound that alarm whether or not anybody objects. 

Will you join me?


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A Season of Thanksgiving

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The holiday season is upon us, and that means that my favorite holiday is just around the corner. I love Thanksgiving because it takes me back in my memory to a very happy time in my life when all of my family would gather on the fourth Thursday in November and enjoy a feast of food and fellowship. 

I can still recall the smells and tastes of some of those wonderful dishes we enjoyed. I can still recall my grandmother’s kitchen where my mother and aunts, along with my grandmother, worked beside each other to prepare a feast. There was laughter, conversation, instruction, and often a reprimand when those of us who were younger got in the way.

After my grandmother and grandfather had passed from this life, our day of thanksgiving moved to my childhood home. My mother, along with whoever was available to help, could provide a feast equal to those of my younger days.

Now that my parents are gone, I love Thanksgiving because my children and their families still gather with us for a time of wonderful fellowship and food. My daughter and daughter-in-law work beside me in the kitchen to provide a feast for our family.

At this time of year, many people pause and reflect upon the things for which they are thankful in this life. I am often challenged on Facebook to “list for ten consecutive days a blessing for which I am thankful.” Since I don’t accept challenges on FB, this often goes by the wayside. I am, however, thankful for many things.

I hope you will not only read the following list of things for which I am thankful, but also will be challenged to make your own list –at least mentally – of all of the things for which you have to be thankful on a daily basis.

I am thankful for:

…God, my Father, who loves me and provides a way for me to live with Him one day.  (John 3:16)

…Jesus, my Brother, who set that perfect example for my life.  (1 Peter 2:21)

…the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which allowed men to write the Bible – my guide through this life on my way to Heaven.  (Psalm 119:105)

…family members in the past who led me and helped me to develop my faith. (Deut. 6: 7)

…my husband – the spiritual leader in our home and a man whom I love and respect. (Eph. 5:33)

…the self-sacrificing love that my husband gives me on a daily basis. (Eph. 5:25)

…my children and their mates. (Psalm 127: 3)

…my grandchildren who are being reared in Christian homes. (3 John: 4)

…time spent with my children and grandchildren singing praises to God. (Psalm 100:1-2)

…the congregation with which I am privileged to worship and serve God. (Phil. 1: 3-5)

…the men who selflessly serve as elders and deacons in my congregation.  (1 Tim. 5:17)

…the ministers who faithfully teach and preach the word every week.  (Romans 10:14-15)

…the women who nurture and lovingly care for so many who are in need.  (Prov. 31)

…the challenges in life which build character within me.  (James 1:2)

…the beauty of nature around me and the changing of the seasons. (Psalm 8:3-4)

…the promises of God, and the fact that I never have to doubt them. (Hebrews 10:23)

…the fact that this list could go on forever.

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:18


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