SOURCE: For Better or For Kids by Patrick & Ruth Schwenk. (Page 220)
SOURCE: For Better or For Kids by Patrick & Ruth Schwenk. (Page 220)
Yesterday something happened that gave my wife and children cause to celebrate. We had a late day – two hours late to school due to bad weather. I decided to take advantage of the extra hours in the morning.
We went out to breakfast together. It was a prayer breakfast. We used the time we never have on a Monday in which we are usually in a rush to get ready. We talked. We ate a sit-down meal together. We discussed the week ahead. Then I asked them all to tell me something specifically they wanted to pray about. It was a great morning for our family. It was also a very humbling moment for me as a father.
How often do you pray together as a family? I am not talking about a quick prayer before a meal or a brief nighttime prayer you may have with your spouse or your kids. I am talking about an organized gathering where you share your thoughts and anxieties and spend some quality time together with every member of the family present in unified supplication to Jehovah God.
We need to pray more together. The family at home needs to communicate and then pray. The local congregation that constitutes your spiritual family needs to communicate and then pray. But we don’t! We are in too much of a hurry!
And just as we go too fast in praying before a meal at home, we often rush through every instance in prayer with the church. There seems to be a time limit on the Lord’s Supper. I mean, after all, we have got to get the preacher up there ASAP so we don’t go over! If old man Jones leads the closing prayer and he gets long winded the people begin to fidget! And when is the last time you heard a prayer in the assembly that was more than five minutes long?
Slow down to pray. Whatever is going on can wait. Your work for the day will hang out and still be ready for you until you are done praying.
We need to repent about our prayer lives! We have robbed ourselves, our families, and our Father from prayer time by simply not making it a priority. We think we are doing a great job as parents because we are making every practice, getting all the homework done, and being on task for each and every responsibility. I would rather have a child who wasn’t as good at basketball as the other kids, if my child knew how to pray. I would rather have a child that gets B’s than a kid who gets A’s if my child was one who walked and talked with God. I’d rather have the laundry backed up and the kitchen not as tidy as long as I had a spouse who was allowed the time to have a healthy prayer life with me and my children.
It just hit me yesterday. In doing the right thing about prayer for once I realized I had been doing the wrong thing most of the time. Families MUST share quality spiritual time together and pray. This is true for the church and it’s true for the home.
If you are an elder and you are reading this I ask that you consider making 2017 a year of prayer for your church family. If you are a parent I suggest you to the same thing for your home. You will not regret it. I left breakfast for once feeling like a pretty good husband and father. Not because I am good, but because my family had together just talked to the One who alone IS good, and that is God. We left everything at His feet. We trusted Him and His will and it gave us peace. We came together in love and care for one another in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And it was wonderful.
“Father, forgive me for not praying as I should. Forgive me for not leading my family in prayer as I should. Forgive me for all the times I didn’t make time for a conversation with You. Because You are what I need the most. And You are who I love the most. I am looking forward to talking to You more. Thank You for always being there to listen and help me. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Whatever you are doing, you have not done as much as you can do…until at first you have prayed.
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray…” – 1 Timothy 2:8
AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum
Photo background credit: BillAC on Creative Commons
The picture reproduced here is an image of the way things used to be. It is also an image of the way things had never been before.
Four of us used to gather around a table to eat – just like the picture shows. In that way, the picture shows the way things used to be.
Four of us had never gathered around a table at a Panera Bread in Nashville. In that way, the picture shows the way things never had been before.
This picture was taken on the next to last day of 2016. It was taken close to the end of a whirlwind and emotional week for the “Faughn Family of Four.”
On Sunday of that week, I had preached for the last time as the full-time minister for the Central church of Christ in Paducah, Kentucky. I completed sixteen years of work with that congregation in that capacity and over thirty-eight years as a full-time gospel preacher. On Monday of that week, our family finally got together to open Christmas presents and enjoy some time together for a few days.
On Wednesday, our son and his family left for their home in Haleyville, Alabama. On Thursday, our daughter and her family left for their home in Cookeville, Tennessee.
On Friday, the four of us met in Nashville because our son is a life-long Nebraska Cornhuskers fan. He had never had the opportunity to see them play in person, but they were to play later on that Friday in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee.
His wife had surprised him with a ticket to the game as a Christmas present. Our son-in-law did the legwork and secured that ticket and three more so that the four of us could enjoy the game together. (Yes, all the rest of us paid for our own tickets.)
As you can see from the picture, his sister (our daughter) probably enjoyed the game more than he did. She has become a Tennessee Volunteers fan and, as you may know, the Vols beat the Huskers on that Friday.
It wasn’t about wins and losses on that Friday, though. It was about the four of us being together. It was about, as my late mother-in-law used to say, “making memories.”
The four of us spent a little time that Friday trying to remember when it was that just the four of us did something special like this together. None of us could come up with a definite answer to that. There have been some changes over the years. For one thing, when the family got together earlier that week for Christmas, there were not just four of us. There were eleven of us.
While I could not come up with a specific memory of the last time the four of us did something special together, I did come up with a very distinct memory. I remember very well the night before we took our daughter to Freed-Hardeman University in order for her to begin her freshman year there.
I remember the four of us lying on a bed together and “just talking.” I can remember all four of us crying.
As long as I have a memory, I will never forget something her brother said that night. Through the tears, he said, “It’ll never be the same again.”
I’m not sure he realized then how right he was. In the years since that statement was made, there have been more changes than I need to document here. There have been changes in the composition, ages, and locations of our family. Degrees have been earned. Careers have changed. Loved ones have been lost. The list could go on and on.
The words of a song that we sometimes sing present a pretty accurate view of the changes we all experience. The words also present to us some valuable admonition/advice.
Time is filled with swift transition –
Naught of earth unmoved can stand.
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
Along with the admonition and advice in that song, I would add the following from one who has lived long enough to see more changes than I can remember.
Treasure time with your family and others with whom you share your life. Do all you can to make good memories. Do not take any moment, event, or experience for granted.
Remember that it’ll never be the same again.
AUTHOR: JIM FAUGHN
SOURCE: For Better or For Kids by Patrick & Ruth Schwenk (page 76)
Next week, we will celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving. So today, to help you prepare, I would like to share a simple idea that our family did a few years ago that really made Thanksgiving more meaningful. And it only takes about five minutes!
Before Thanksgiving, we bought some wide ribbon and wrote various questions on the ribbon with a Sharpie. (Make sure the ribbon is wide enough to write on, and thick enough so the Sharpie doesn’t bleed through.) Some questions were fairly simple and some were more contemplative. We then tied the ribbon around napkins and placed them at each plate. By the way, we were careful to place the simple questions at the kids’ places at the table.
After the meal, we simply went around the table and everyone answered his or her question. Some of the questions included:
Who is one person you are thankful for this year?
What is one event you were thankful for this year?
What is one event this year where you saw God’s providence in your life?
This is a great way to generate some meaningful conversation. In fact, some family members wanted a chance to answer someone else’s question even after answering their own!
Now I am not a crafty person, but this is one of those projects that even I can do. It’s also one that could be made to be really pretty, too, and add a lot to your Thanksgiving table. It is my hope that this will help you and your family have a wonderful holiday, one that is full of true thanksgiving.
AUTHOR: Leah Faughn
Leslie Stahl may not be well known to those of us who choose to worship on Sunday evenings. That may be due to the fact that she is a regular contributor to the long-running (on Sunday evenings) CBS program 60 Minutes.
Ms. Stahl (she is married, but is one of those thoroughly modern women who does not use her husband’s last name) also appears on other CBS news shows. As the picture of her book cover shows, she is also an author.
Recently, I watched part of an interview with her about her new book. (The interview was not on 60 Minutes, by the way.) As you can see from the picture of the cover of the book, the book is about being a grandparent and how, at least in her mind, that role has changed in recent years.
What you cannot see is the “behind the scenes” story about how the picture was taken. I found that part of the interview to be more fascinating than Ms. Stahl’s views about being a grandparent.
What the picture supposedly shows is a grandmother sitting with two adorable granddaughters who are fascinated with a book. According to Ms. Stahl, that is not what was going on when the picture was taken.
According to her, the older granddaughter was, indeed, fascinated by the book. She posed willingly for the picture.
That was definitely not the case with the younger granddaughter. She was causing all kinds of problems until a solution was found.
The solution was that somebody thought to tape an iPhone into the book!
The smaller child is not reading. She is being entertained! She was, in fact, watching a movie! Instead of connecting her mind with the book and her will to that of her grandmother, she was “connected” to an electronic device.
I’m not so much of an old fogey that I resent and oppose modern technology. I went online to find the picture of the book. I’m typing these words on a computer. I plan to attach this post to an email to send to our son. You may read this on a computer or some sort of digital device. As I see it, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of that.
However, in my mind, there is a danger when entertainment becomes a substitute for some very important things. I have in mind things like true education, interaction with family members and others, and worship. Have you ever noticed that many of us don’t talk about what we think any longer? Instead, we talk about how we feel.
I am not advocating that computers, tablets, or smartphones should be thrown into the trash. I am advocating, though, that these things need to be put aside fairly often in favor of an old-fashioned book.
Read. Think about what you read. “Argue with” what you read. Take notes. Make comments in the margins. Do something besides turning your mind off and a device on.
Maybe we could even expand on this a little. Instead of an email or text message, how about a handwritten note? Instead of Snapchat (whatever that is), how about a phone call? Instead of a Facebook post, how about a personal visit and conversation? Instead of being LinkedIn, how about being “tuned in” to your spouse, your children, your friends, and others as they communicate with you?
How about being connected to the things that really matter instead of things that are of much less importance?
“We are at war.”
On this day, October 27, in 1962, those words were ones many Americans feared. It was on this date that the Cuban Missile Crisis tensions “reached their height.” [For those in our family who are wondering how I came by this historical knowledge, I can read the Internet, you know.] ☺ Even though I wasn’t alive then, I’m sure had those words–“We are at war”–been reported, people would have paid attention!
That said, on this October 27, in 2016, we are at war. Did that get your attention? We are at war! Not in a physical sense, but in a war that matters much more than who controls a particular piece of land or sea, or who has the largest arsenal in this world. In our recent Gospel Meeting with Jay Lockhart, he reminded that we, as Christians, are at war. He reminded us that our enemy is ever present and determined.
However, our war is not with physical powers. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” I don’t know about you, but I have seen a lot of this darkness in recent days. The Devil is alive and well in America, and we, as Christians need to realize we are at war with him and his influence!
Thankfully, God has not left us defenseless in the world. Second Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, “… the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”.
During this election cycle, I have heard many prayers for our country, our selection of the next leader, our future, and for our country to turn back to God. That is all excellent and, I believe, one of the ways we can fight in the war. But election season is only that – a season; in terms of our thoughts today, it is just one battle.
But we are in a war! I need to be praying daily and taking advantage of that promised Divine power to destroy strongholds Satan feels like he has won. May we ever seek to fortify the castles of our homes, our children’s lives, our churches, and yes, our country. To do that, we must “…take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).
Fortify our homes with faith, our communities with truth, our children with righteousness, our hearts with the word of God. And “finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10, emphasis mine).
Sound the battle cry!
See, the foe is nigh;
Raise the standard high for the Lord;
Gird your armor on,
Stand firm, every one;
Rest your cause upon His holy Word.
– William F. Sherwin
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.”
It was an epic battle; one waged in the middle of the night with nothing but our instincts and intellect to see who would be the victor. What began just a couple of minutes after the stroke of midnight ended over a half-hour later. I came out on top of this battle, the conqueror over nature.
I caught the mouse.
We had a mouse loose in our bathroom. That little critter refused to just get on the sticky trap (what was he thinking?), so I forged into the bathroom with a sword and shield to slay the beast.
(Okay, so it was a dustpan and plastic sack. Let me have my moment, please.)
Finally, 35 minutes later, I emerged victorious and cleared our house of this nuisance that we had been trying to catch for about three days.
It was when I returned back in the house from disposing of the furry creature that my precious wife said those words that every man longs to hear. Well, first she made certain I had finished the job by asking, “Did you catch it?”
(Not too romantic so far, I know.)
When I was able to nod my head, though, she said, “You’re my hero.”
That’s what every man longs for in his heart. There is something deep down in a man’s chest that wants a beautiful lady–which my wife is–to call him her hero.
But when she said it that night, something inside me finally clicked.
Too often, the Hollywood version of a hero has to sail across the seas to slay a dragon (not just a mouse). It is the major event, one that provides the epic moment. It’s as if that one event wins the heart of the girl, and then…well…they live happily ever after.
Husbands, I want us all to come to an important realization. If you want to be your wife’s hero, I can give you a one-step process.
You ready? Here it is: slay a dragon.
…and your pride is that dragon.
What I mean is simply this: there is something you can do every day to slay the dragon of self and show your wife that she means more to you than anyone else.
It is not a single epic battle. It is a daily practice of doing something to show your wife that her life is more important than your self.
What could it look like?
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of debt. It could be something as simple as cutting up a credit card or selling that prized boat or collectible gun to put the financial security of your family before your hobbies.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of passing on spiritual leadership. Lead your family in a prayer before breakfast, or sit down and read a few verses of the Bible to your kids tonight.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of apathy. Get off the couch and roughhouse with the kids some. Do the dishes after supper. Prepare a family budget. Help your kids with their homework.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of taking your wife for granted. Send her a text (right now would be good) just telling her that you love her. Plan your next date night and put it on your calendar–and let nothing take its place on that calendar.
Maybe you need to slay the dragon of laziness by catching that mouse, instead of expecting her to do it!
But here’s the thing: you cannot believe the Hollywood hype. Being your wife’s hero does not happen with one epic battle and then all is well forever and ever.
Being your wife’s hero happens daily, with decisions that may seem small, but that build in her heart a trust for the one who is putting her first every single day. The man who shows that winning her heart is a daily desire; not a one-time event.
I want to be my wife’s hero. Often–very often–I am anything but heroic, but a decision every day to put her first will help me win her heart daily.
It may not have involved dramatic music or an epic battle made for the big screen. But catching a furry little mouse in the middle of the night was enough to remind this husband that he can be his wife’s hero.
If I can say that I have done something every day to keep that heroic status with my wife, what could be better than that? My name may never be in a heroic tale or an epic film, but in the heart of a beautiful lady who wears my name, I can be a hero. That’s what matters.
…and they lived happily ever after.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn