Category Archives: Family

The Most Influential Woman in My Life

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Today is my mother’s birthday. In Proverbs 31:28 we are told of the children of an excellent woman growing up and calling their mother blessed. On my mother’s birthday, I want to honor her by giving you just a few of the reasons that I consider my mother the most influential woman in my life.

  1. My mom taught me that, in every circumstance, God must come first. We never missed any services of the church for ball games, school functions, practices, or anything else. We were always taught that even extra church activities were more important than anything else we had going on. Back then, that just meant missing practice and consequentially sitting on the bench during the next ball game. Today, that means that my desires and wants come after what God would have me do.
  2. My mom taught me that you should never be ashamed to be “just a wife and mother.” My mom was always a stay at home mom. She fully focused on my dad and us. She was never ashamed and never embarrassed. She was always there for everything we ever did. She was the stabilizer in our family. She was devoted to our family as a unit. Back then, that meant a mom who was there after school every day and a mom who was at every ballgame. Today, that means that I don’t feel unfulfilled just because I am “only” a wife and mother.
  3. My mom taught me that each family must live “within their means.” As I said earlier, my mom was always a stay at home mom. We always lived on one income – and not a huge one at that. We never had fancy cars. We usually didn’t receive as many gifts for birthdays and Christmas as our friends did. We hardly ever went out to eat. Mom always let us know that things didn’t make you happy. She also always reminded us that we were better off than most people. Back then, that just meant not having everything my friends had. Today, that means I am better able to accept that sometimes I need to “do without” to achieve a greater purpose.
  4. My mom showed me how to be selfless. She always was. She gave herself the burned toast. She gave up her chair. The other person–whether her child or a stranger–was more important than herself. Back then, that just meant me enjoying “unburned” toast. Today, that means when I am tired and want to think of myself, even without me realizing it, I’ll picture my mom. I remember the countless times she was tired and just kept on for the sake of someone other than herself.

I could keep on listing the ways. When I think about the innumerable ways my mother has molded me into the person that I am, it helps me see what an impact I will have on my daughter and how she will be very much like me.

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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

Five Minutes with Bartimaeus

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And they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprand up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52)

It was only five minutes, but I won’t soon forget it.

We were rushing around the Opryland Hotel at Lads to Leaders. Bible Bowl was done and we had just a few minutes to go to our room, let the kids practice leading their songs, and freshen up a bit before heading out to song leading.

But as we walked by one of the giant ballrooms, I just knew we needed to pause for a minute or two. Call it a dad’s intuition. Call it luck. Call it whatever you like, but I just knew it was the right thing to do.

See, in that giant ballroom, there was another event going on. It is event named after the blind man of the story told above: Bartimaeus. A few years ago, Lads to Leaders made the very wise decision to offer an event for people of all ages who have special needs. They create art work. They lead singing. They give speeches. They read Scripture.

And it is as moving as anything you will ever see.

I felt like my kids needed to see it, so we veered right and headed into the ballroom, sitting near the door.

A young man was leading a song. I don’t remember what it was, but everyone was standing and following along.

Then, they announced the name of another young man. I would guess he was probably mid-teens, maybe even twenty. He wanted to lead “This Little Light of Mine.”

From his wheelchair.

And he could scarcely talk.

But his finger went in the air and he–for all intents and purposes–grunted his way through the song. He did “blow” when it was time to say, “Don’t let Satan [blow] it out; I’m gonna let it shine.”

I watched him. Then I watched my children.

They followed along as if the greatest song leader in the brotherhood were leading them. So did everyone else in the room, even though we were singing a “little kid” song, and could not understand our leader.

But that was just the thing. We could understand him. Oh, we might not have been able to pick out many specific words from that song, but we could understand his heart. His Christian light was shining, and I have no doubt in my mind that he is going to let his light shine all the time, and that he will not hide it under a bushel (no!).

We only stayed five minutes, but I honestly think those five minutes changed the whole tenor of our trip.

When we got back to the room, I asked our kids (ages 10 and, on that day, 9) why they thought we had done that. Why had we paused in the middle of a crazy busy day to sing “This Little Light of Mine” with someone we could not understand?

Their answers were innocent, but profound. They realized that it encouraged the leader to have people there to sing along. They knew it made them feel good to make him feel good.

Then, with tears literally streaming down my face, I hugged my kids up close and I told them they were right, but that there was more. I said something like this: “It’s because I wanted you to see what you have. I don’t care if you never win a trophy or medal for leading a song or giving a speech. I want you to thank God every day that you are able to do those things so easily. I know your daddy sure is thankful.”

With that, we all cried, and I think they got it.

Bartimaeus could never have known that his name would still be used 2000 years later as encouragement to some very special people. He just wanted to meet Jesus, and he overcame a great difficulty to do so.

2000 years later, some very special people overcame so much more than I have ever had to just to sing a song. But they taught a lesson in just five minutes that changed my family.

For every “Bartimaeus” out there, may God be praised.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

A Cure for the Polly Pitiful Syndrome

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A few of us are old enough and sophisticated enough remember that classic, very intellectual television show called “Hee-Haw.” For those who are not old enough to remember, “Hee-Haw” was neither class nor intellectual. One of the sets for the show was a corn field. That was most appropriate because the show was, indeed, very corny.

If you do remember that show, you probably remember the recurring skit during which the following lyrics were sung:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me

Deep, dark depression, excessive misery

If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all

Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

How often do you sing that song? If you’ve never even heard that song, how often do you feel like you could sing it? How often do you play the role of Polly Pitiful?

I recently found a cure for the “Polly Pitiful Syndrome.” If we are talking only in terms of material blessings, I encourage you to see what you think about it.

While listening to a recording of one of brother Don Blackwell’s presentations at last year’s Polishing the Pulpit, he mentioned a website that I invite you to check out:

www.globalrichlist.com

This website works in one of two ways. You can enter your personal “portfolio” and/or you can enter your yearly income. The website will then give you information about your economic well-being as it relates to the entire population of the world. 

Try it. You may be very pleasantly surprised. You may not feel like singing the song above as often as you might otherwise.

Of course, the Christian should be singing an entirely different song anyway.  Some of its lyrics are:

This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

As a Christian, it would be a wonderful idea to stop thinking about what I may or may not have of a material nature and have the attitude of a man who wrote these words while in a Roman prison:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).

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For All Lads to Leaders Participants

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When a Church Family Struggles

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Of all the descriptions found in the New Testament for the church, I suppose my favorite is that of a family. That image is the one I include in sermons more often than any other, and I think it is the easiest picture to relate to on the local, congregational level.

The picture of the church as a family has many positive connotations. We think of times when we share memories. We think of laughing and crying together. We think of meals together and times when we just spend time together because we love each other deeply.

It’s Not All Positive

There is, however, another side of this image.

Families often struggle.

There is no family that is perfectly functional. We all, no matter how healthy our physical family might be, have some level of dysfunction somewhere. Obviously, there are some cases that are extreme, but every home has struggles.

And the same is true of the church. It is true of your local congregation.

No matter how vibrant and seemingly mature a congregation may happen to be, there are always struggles and squabbles that are going on. They are real. They hurt.

If we are not careful, they can also greatly tarnish the image of the church as a family.

Turning a Negative into a Positive

While there are going to be some negative times, a church that is willing to work through those struggles will come out stronger on the other side. Even in a strong physical family, there will be times of stress, arguing, and maybe even fighting (at least, to some level). It is made up of individuals who still struggle with selfishness and sin.

But when a family works through those issues in grace and love, it comes out stronger on the other side.

That is exactly what a church family must do, as well. It must work through its struggles and squabbles in grace and love, with Scripture always as the guide. When that congregation does, it comes out stronger on the other side.

Practically Speaking

What does working through these squabbles look like? Here are a few simple suggestions to help.

  1.  “Divorce” is off-limits. In our physical family, no matter how strained our lives might get, divorce is not an option. Too many Christians, when a congregation goes through a struggle, threaten to “divorce.” They threaten to leave. It’s convenient, and (seemingly) not as painful. But it is a tactic that it hurtful and based on selfishness. Do not bring this up over simple squabbles or differences in personality.
  2. Tackle One Issue at a Time. In conflict resolution, there is a term for bringing up everything in one argument, even if it not related to the issue at hand. It is “kitchen sink fighting” (because you bring up everything, including the kitchen sink). When a congregation goes through a time of struggle, leaders do well to keep people focused on one issue at a time. There may be several issues, but you cannot work through them all simultaneously.
  3. If God has Spoken, that Settles It. I wish this went without saying, but it still needs to be said. If we are arguing over a matter of Scripture, there is nothing to argue about. At that point, we are not arguing with each other; we are arguing with God. If He has spoken, that settles the matter. My feelings or wants are subservient to the will of the Lord.
  4. Communication from Leaders Must be Constant, Firm, and Gracious. There is no way to overstate the importance of communication in times of trouble. In a physical family, just avoiding the issue does not make it go away. That’s also true in a congregation. Leaders need to speak clearly and boldly, but they must also maintain grace. Also, the communication from–and with–leaders needs to be constant. It should not appear to be some “edict from on high;” rather, it should be one piece of an ongoing conversation about something that is vital.
  5. The Church that Prays Together… Even through struggles, a congregation needs to pray. Even more, a congregation must be willing to pray specifically for struggles that are known and are threatening the unity and love of the church. While prayer should not be used to run people down, seeking God’s wisdom and guidance is never a bad thing!

Conclusion

I love that we are part of God’s family. The vast majority of the time that imagery is positive and fills our soul with joy. There are, however, times when that picture can be strained. Every family struggles, and every congregation will fuss at times, too.

The key is to work through those issues, treating each other like Philemon was to treat Onesimus, like a “beloved brother.” We are God’s family, and that means we better be willing to work together.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Spring has Sprung!

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It’s here! It’s finally here! My favorite season of the year is upon us: spring. I love all four seasons but there is something about spring that just makes me happy. The warm days after the biting cold of winter … The beautiful display of fresh colors as redbud trees, weeping willow trees, daffodils, and hyacinths bloom and bud … The freedom of my toes as they enjoy open air sandals … These all make me happy.

I think one of the reasons I love spring so much is the realization of hope. While I love snow days with the most hopeful of students, there comes a point where the gray, cold days of winter begin to weigh me down. At some point, I long for the days when I won’t have to put on a heavy coat for every trip outside my home. At some point, it seems as though I will never feel warm and energetic again. At some point, it seems the sun will never share its joy and warmth again.

And then comes the spring. Spring that brings new life. Spring that renews energy. Spring that warms both the arms and the soul.

While I love spring for the physical blessings and renewal in brings, I also love it because it is an onslaught of reminders that the same type of renewal and beauty is available at all times spiritually with God. He can take the darkest, dreariest life and inject warmth, color, and life!

1 Peter 1:3 tells us that, as Christians, we have a living hope! Ephesians 2 reminds us that we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Friends, that is hope!

So, as you enjoy the colors, scents, and sensations of this wonderful time of year, remember the spiritual hope and renewal that comes through Christ and thank God for spring!

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5 Things a Real Man Has on His Calendar

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I admit it: I live by a calendar and to-do list. I am a total time nerd.

Side note: If Google Calendar ever goes out of existence, I might just be going out of existence, too!

Admittedly, though, I have struggled through the years with a calendar that was filled by everyone else. A few years ago, however, I heard a fellow preacher teach a session at Polishing the Pulpit about time management. He suggested (very strongly) that we need to put everything on our calendars.

I started doing that as best as I could, and what a difference it has made!

The reason is simple: when you put everything on your calendar, your priorities truly set the agenda. This is not necessarily about being a time management ninja; it is about spending time doing what is most important.

With that in mind, I want to speak to men. Specifically, Christian husbands and fathers.

Too many men put “the game” on their calendar (which is fine), but not things that are of far more eternal value.

So, what does a real man have on his calendar? Here are some things to make sure you prioritize on your calendar.

1. Worship

I am a preacher, and yes, I have worship on my calendar. Well, sort of. You see, 9th Avenue has a public Google Calendar with all our events, and we make certain to include worship. I simply subscribe to that calendar (which you can see here), and am reminded of worship.

It may seem silly to have that on my calendar, but if nothing else, it shows my children the absolute priority of worship in our lives. But also, to be honest, there are some dads who need that reminder, and that is okay (at least for awhile).

2. Time with His Wife

Husbands and wives need to continue to date each other. And it must be a priority.

Husbands, let me put it this way: if you are not prioritizing time with your wife, then it is as if you are “dating” your job and hobbies before her.

You may not have the resources to go on a date every week, but surely you can find something romantic to do together once each month. Put it on the calendar and don’t move it for anything, save a major emergency.

3. Specific Time with His Children

Daddy/daughter dates. Specific outings with that strapping boy. It is so easy to let those things slide in all the hurry of life. It is also easy to take your kids to their ball games (or band rehearsals, whatever) and act as if that has been special time.

Real men spend time alone with each of their children. It does not have to be extravagant. It could just be taking her out for an ice cream cone, or taking your boy to shoot hoops in the park.

By the way, it may almost seem callous or cold to actually put these on the calendar, but I disagree. We set the times as a family for one “big” outing each month (we call them “daddy/daughter date” and “time with Turner”). Of course, we do other things together throughout the month, but the kids anticipate these special days or evenings so much.

4: Time Alone with God

I will confess: I do not add this to my calendar now, but I used to, until it became part of my daily routine. For many busy men, reading the Bible and/or prayer time falls by the wayside, simply because it is not given a priority on the calendar. There is no shame in having “time with God” or “read Bible” on your calendar, if it helps you grow closer to the Lord.

5. Birthdays and Anniversary

I know the dates of my wife’s birthday. I know the dates of when my two precious children were born. I know the date of my wedding anniversary.

But I also know I am way busy, so they are on my calendar. I want to see those dates upcoming, not just so I won’t forget to buy something, but so that, from first light in the morning until bedtime, I am celebrating those special days with my family through words of affirmation and praise!

Conclusion

Let me ask, how differently would your life look if these five things were prioritized on your calendar? Would you be closer to the Lord? Would you be more connected with your wife? Would you know the heart of your children better?

Then get out whatever you use for a calendar and start putting your priorities on that grid. That’s what real men do!

RESOURCES

Need a little help with organizing your calendars? Especially if you use Google Calendar (or would like to try it), here are a few resources you might want to check out.

“Google Calendar Tutorial 2015: Quick Start” [VIDEO; YouTube; A very basic starter guide, but very well done]

“Why I’m Trying Google Keep for My To-Do Lists” [VIDEO; Katch.me; I made this video about 2 months ago on Periscope, and am still using Google Keep for my to-do lists.]

“5 Hidden Google Calendar Gems” [VIDEO; YouTube; A bit more advanced, but I love the ideas on this video, and have used almost all of them at one time or another.]

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Should You Spank Your Children?

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It is amazing how the order of words in a sentence can change a statement. What if the title of this article was changed by a slight adjustment in the first two words? It would read, “You should spank your children.”

Certainly if that was the title, more people would be tempted to keep reading. But we are not interested in some flamboyant ploy, or a persuasive human opinion, or a controversial platform. We are interested in truth. Let’s just answer the question: Should parents spank their children as a means of discipline?

The fact that we are even having this conversation goes to show that we are a far cry from where we were a generation ago. My dad used a razor strap. Most of the older generations got to pick their own switch. Sometimes it was a ping-pong paddle or a clothes hanger or a wooden spoon or just a hand – whatever was available. I was spanked regularly for the majority of my developmental years. Many of you out there could say the same. I am sure thankful my parents did so. I was willful and sinful and I needed well-defined boundaries established in my life.

Before we go any further we need to recognize that any form of discipline can lead to abuse. Children who are never touched could still be locked in closets, disallowed access to food and water and shelter, or verbally and mentally abused. There is also no doubt that any physical form of discipline can be taken too far. In 1979, Sweden was the first country to pass a law that forbids any type of physical corporal punishment from parent to child. The last time I was in New Zealand, I was informed of the “No smacking” law – their terminology for the same type of legislation. These laws were incorporated to curtail the rampant child abuse that once existed in these countries. The legislation includes some discretion on the part of law enforcement as to how these laws are interpreted and prosecuted on a case to case basis. Certainly for the safety of children some of these laws can serve a protective purpose.

So there I was Friday night at the Redbox in front of Walgreens when my 8-year-old had a meltdown. She had been going that direction for a few hours (parents you know what I mean). She was begging for some form of readjustment. Right on the spot I gave her a couple swats on the backside. She immediately responded with silence and calmed down. I was confident in the decision I made but also reflective as we drove home of how that might be interpreted by any onlooker. We have always spanked our three children when it was necessary. We have never wanted to. We have never enjoyed it. And we have never failed to explain it or follow it up with teaching and a confirmation of our love for each one of them.

I want to be blunt. I don’t need a twenty-first-century child psychologist to tell me how to raise my children. I am worn out with that stuff. I need my heavenly Father. I need His word. He created us, and he knows what is best for us. He knows how to discipline us. And although there are many forms of punishment, and not all work the same with every child, spanking is not only an option, it is a commandment. And my job as a parent is to do whatever it takes to help my child to respect authority and acquire a healthy fear of the Lord. Children MUST accept correction and understand healthy boundaries if they are to successfully follow God and bless others in this world.

God’s word tells us that if we do not receive our heavenly Father’s chastening then we are illegitimate and, therefore, cannot be called children of God (Hebrews 12:8). It says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). Once more it says, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die” (Proverbs 23:13). While there are no literal beatings and no actual rods being used in our home, certainly we understand the point.

My children are depending on me. I have to answer to God and I have to answer to them when it comes to my part in their development. I am not interested in being “PC.” I am not concerned about cultural changes or public opinion when it comes to their raising. I am interested in the truth. The truth is that spanking is a part of parenting and is at times necessary. At least, it is if we are parenting God’s way…

“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” – Proverbs 13:24

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Why We Need to be Careful When We’re “Just Kidding”

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Anybody who knows me is aware of the fact that I like to laugh. In fact, I agree with a preacher friend of mine who told me years ago that those who might be critical of him because they think he uses too much humor when he preaches might be very proud of him if they knew how much humor he stifles when he preaches!

I often seem to find humor in situations that are not seen as humorous by anybody else. That can cause some real problems at times. I’ve had to apologize more than once for that.

I’ve also had to apologize for something else. I’m wondering how many others have had to do the same or have needed to do the same, but have not done so.

You see, there have been times when I’ve explained away and/or tried to excuse my behavior by trying to convince myself and/or others that I was laughing with somebody. The awful truth is that I was actually laughing at somebody.

I can assure you that this was never done intentionally. Often the person or people in question made it appear as though I was, in fact, laughing with them. After all, they were laughing, too. They seemed to enjoy the joke, situation, or practical joke as much as I was.

How was I to know that, when they were all alone, they were experiencing heartache, anger, or frustration because of my words or actions?

Years ago, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recorded a song that has been re-recorded many times. The song was entitled “The Tracks of My Tears.” 

Although the song was about the heartache felt over the loss of a girlfriend, consider these words as they relate to all of our relationships:

People say I’m the life of the party

‘Cause I tell a joke or two.

Although I may be laughing loud and hearty,

Deep inside I’m blue.

So take a good look at my face.

You’ll see my smile looks out of place.

If you’ll look closer, it’s easy to trace

The tracks of my tears.

May I encourage all of us, including me, to be more sensitive to the feelings of others? Many very close relationships–including friendships, marriages, and churches–have suffered sometimes permanent damage because somebody was just kidding.

That could be at least one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write the following: “Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29, ESV, emphasis added).

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When Your Children Ask about Baptism

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The conversations have started, but they are still very sporadic. With a 10-year-old and a soon-to-be 9-year-old, we are not surprised that our children have started asking questions from time-to-time about baptism.

If you raise your children going to church and Bible classes, the questions are going to start, and likely, they are going to start quite early in life. After all, they hear preachers extend the invitation constantly. Hopefully, they have been present to see people put Christ on in baptism. And probably, they have studied God’s plan of salvation in Bible school, at least a time or two. Their classrooms may even have a chart that is always there, constantly showing them the plan of salvation.

So, it is in their mind, and that’s a good thing!

How are parents to handle these conversations? While this is not meant to be a perfect list, I want to share some principles that we are trying to adhere to as our children ask about baptism. We certainly are not exact in this, but we are trying.

  1. Treat Every Question Respectfully and Seriously. Even if your child asks what you might consider to be a silly question, they are still talking about the most important decision that could ever be made. Treat it with respect, and show them Scripture to point out either their truth or the error of what they are saying.
  2. Let Your Children Bring It Up. Too many parents of smaller children are so concerned with “getting their kids baptized” that they force the conversation. Your child, most likely, will bring it up when it is on his/her mind. Let the conversations happen at their pace. But always–and I mean, always–be willing to talk about it when it is brought up!
  3. Always Appeal to Scripture. This should go without saying, but if anyone–including your kid–is considering becoming a child of God we dare not take them anywhere but to the standard of God’s Word. These do not have to be hour-long explanations of passages, but a look at Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:1-4; and other verses needs to always stand as the basis of our conversation.
  4. Talk Clearly about Sin. One of the most difficult things for many parents to do is to talk about the actual, Biblical purpose of baptism: to liberate us from our sins. While children make mistakes and even do things that are “wrong” at times, a person must have a clear understanding of the need for forgiveness of sins before he/she is ready to be baptized.
  5. Ask about Repentance and the “Need” for Baptism. Especially when I was a youth minister, I would often have a very young person ask to be baptized. I never tried to push them away, but I always tried to talk about if they needed to “repent.” If they said, “No,” I knew they weren’t ready. Also, ask about when they think they might want to be baptized. If they say, “Maybe next week,” or “in a few days,” they simply aren’t prepared. When one knows his/her need for salvation and to turn from sin, only then are they ready–but they are ready right then!

The final tip I will give is one that I have borrowed many times from the excellent little book Am I Ready to be Baptized? by Kyle Butt and John Farber. When a child is seriously considering being baptized, have that child write down why he or she is preparing to be baptized, and write date the paper (or notecard). Remember, let the child write this in his/her own words. Once they have written this down, put the paper or card away.

One of these days, that child will likely question his/her baptism. Did I know enough? Was I sure what I was doing?

When those question arise, simply pull out that paper or card and read. The language may be child-like, but it will let him/her know if they were ready. Typically, if a child is willing to write it down, they are ready, because, in a child-like fashion, they can express just what they needed to do, and it lines up perfectly with the simple plan that God has in place to save people.

It is hard to think of anything that is holier as a parent that the honor and privilege of talking to your children about becoming a brother or a sister in Christ. Treat it as the important thing that young person will ever talk about, because it is!

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn