Category Archives: Family

Connected to What?

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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.

lesley-stahl-becoming-grandma-book-jacketMs. 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?


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[Episode 66] Family Friendly Entertainment (guest: Robert Hatfield) [Podcast]

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Entertainment is not bad in itself, but Christians are to be discerning in all they do. How can we, and our families, enjoy entertainment when there seems to be so little of it to be found? Robert Hatfield joins Adam on this week’s podcast to talk about the dangers of entertainment, as well as how to find wholesome forms of entertainment.

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Resources

The Light Network (homepage)

The Light Network Facebook group

Arrows in Our Hand (family podcast)

Common Sense Media

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I Vote for Moms

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This is the last week of this presidential election. For the past few weeks, I have heard the candidates speak about all of the world’s problems. I’ve heard their plans for all of our country’s problems. They’ve expressed concern for one area after another, and they’ve laid out the solutions. As I’ve listened, there has been one solution that hasn’t been discussed – Good mothers! So, today I vote for moms.

I vote for moms who take the phone or iPad out of their children’s hands and replace it with a broom. These children will learn how to work hard.

I vote for moms who quit buying everything for their children. These children will learn that if you want something you have to work for the money to buy it.

I vote for moms who quit trying to keep up with the Joneses. Their children will learn that you don’t always have what everyone else has.

I vote for moms who turn the television off and hand their child a history book. Their children will learn to think critically and not just accept what the television tells them.

I vote for moms who once again wash mouths out with soap. Their children will learn to watch their language.

I vote for moms who are not afraid to say, “Because I said so!” Their children will learn to respect authority.

I vote for moms who make sure their children spend plenty of time with older people. Their children will learn to listen to the wisdom of those who are older than them.

I vote for moms who are not afraid to “turn the car around.” Their children will learn that actions have consequences.

I vote for moms who tell their daughters to put some more clothes on. Those girls will learn that they are worth more than their physical appearance.

I vote for the moms who stand at the door until their son opens it for them. Those boys will learn to respect and honor women. 

I vote for moms who teach God’s word to their children. Those children will stand firm in the knowledge that God alone is our hope and peace.

And I vote for moms who do these things day after day after day. They will be the strength this nation needs so desperately.


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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

Photo credit: Brett Neilson on Creative Commons

A Christian’s Open Letter to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

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To Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,

We are down now to just a few days until all this campaigning is over. Let me say, first of all, congratulations. I honestly do not know how you hold up, physically or mentally, through these endless weeks of campaigning. It is impressive and shows your dedication to winning this election. But in just a few days, all that will be over. One of you will be our president-elect and will move to the next phase of this process, preparing to lead our nation, beginning in 2017.

I want you to know that I am a Christian. That frames everything I believe, say, and do. I believe the Bible is from God, and it is the only true path to wisdom, peace, and joy.

But this letter may not be going the direction you think it is. I am not going to write about any specific policy or moral issues that you will, no doubt, face, should you win the White House. If you know that I stand firm on the Word of God as my source of beliefs, then you know where I stand on issues of morality.

Instead, I want to say something else that Scripture demands of me, and I hope it gives you some encouragement should you win next Tuesday.

I am praying for you and will do so throughout your time in office. Just as I have prayed in the past for George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barak Obama, so I will be praying for you.

The Bible teaches me that I am to pray for “all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). It does not give an “out” for me if I happen to disagree with something you do in office. Those to whom that command was originally given lived under the rule of Roman emperors, so I am sure they had much with which to disagree, both in matters of policy and morality. Yet still, they were commanded to pray for their leaders.

So, Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump, that is my pledge to you. Whichever of you sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue beginning next year, I will pray for you. That does not mean I will always agree with you, but I will refuse to be disagreeable. Instead, I will take my concerns before the throne of God and seek to honor the office you hold.

Specifically, I will pray…

…that you will seek the wisdom of God on a regular and constant basis throughout your time in office. His book–the Bible–was, is, and always will be the only standard of right and wrong, and the source of wisdom upon which you can always lean.

…for your family. I cannot imagine the stress that being president of our nation must put on a family. Your spouse and your children need and deserve my prayers, and they will receive them.

…for your health and safety. Being president is an honored position, but it is exceptionally stressful and not everyone in the world looks out for your safety. We want you to lead us for the entirety of your elected time with a full capacity of health and goodwill. To that end, I will pray.

…for your faith in God. He is the Source of all authority. Trust Him. Your soul’s destiny beyond this life is worth more than anything else. Please never lose sight of that, even should you win this lofty office.

There can be no doubt that no American will agree with every action you take while you are in the White House. I will certainly disagree with you on some point of policy, some moral action, or something over the next four years.

But I refuse to be one who wears the name of Christ, then runs to social media to run you down. Instead, I will seek to always let my words be gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6), whether spoken, written, or digitized. And I will take my disagreements, as well as my praise for when you do what I feel is best, to the throne of God, always asking Him to work out His ultimate will.

Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton, you have my prayers. In victory or defeat, you have fought hard and have worked hours that most of us cannot imagine.

More than that, though, one of you will lead our nation based on the ballots cast in just a few days. As a citizen, a husband, a father–as a Christian–please know that many of us will be on our knees before God on your behalf. May you draw strength and Godly wisdom from that fact in your time in office.

Good luck next Tuesday, and may God bless whichever of you leads our nation. To both of you and your families, I bid you Godspeed.

Sincerely,

A Christian


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo credits to Gage Skidmore (Trump picture) and Marc Nozell (Clinton picture)

3 Reasons Why Men Struggle in Relationships

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God made man for relationships. One of the first observations about Adam in Genesis is that God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. So he made the woman – man’s perfect complement. It was God’s desire that one man and one woman live together in a marriage filled with love, commitment, companionship, sacrifice, and hope.
Why is it, then, that relationships are so complicated? The easy answer is that they involve people and people are fallible, weak creatures – immature and in need of experience and sometimes even struggles in order to mature and grow. A more complex answer is that even though men and women were created by God to help each other they are in many ways entirely different. Men are less emotional and more rational. Women intertwine their feelings with all of life’s processes while men compartmentalize. Women are good with commitment and men tend to shy away from it. Men are more prone to move on from a wrong suffered whereas women may be emotionally affected by wounds for a longer period of time.
Men need women for caring and compassion and nurturing. Women need men for protection and security and support. While men tend to be very capable at work, solving problems, fixing things that are broken, and generally laboring and directing and serving in physical ways, they struggle in relationships. There are 3 basic reasons why.
1. Men get easily distracted. There is something about men that causes them to want to live as nomads. Men have a hard time nesting and settling down. God made men with a natural inclination to be outside the home working and providing. This also makes men desirous of hobbies and other excursions that take them away from the time and energy that are necessary for healthy relationships. When there are enjoyable alternatives to relationships men will often entertain them. And since they are not in need of as much emotional support, they can often find fulfillment in things that are more physical in nature.
2. Men struggle with satisfaction. Unfortunately, we live in a world that emphasizes experiences that are mostly carnal in nature. In Hebrews, we read of Moses, who chose to be with God’s people over the passing pleasures of sin. Sin feels good to the flesh. If it didn’t it would not be so alluring. Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. David lied and murdered and committed adultery, all for a woman he saw bathing. Men tend not to think past the moment of satisfaction. Who has the burden of looking attractive? – it’s the women for the men. Our culture has taught men to not be satisfied with women unless they look like the models on the front of magazines. This causes both genders to deal with unrealistic expectations. And men, who are already more carnal then women in their very makeup, are going to fail in any relationship that is not built on more lasting things then momentary pleasure.
3. Men are not good with emotional investments. We can save money for a car or a gun we want to buy, but, as a whole, men struggle with investing in the emotional needs of women. Therefore men don’t often share their part of the emotional workload. They are ready for physical intimacy but they are not very ready for meaningful conversation. Women usually feel disenfranchised in relationships because they feel like their opinions are not important or that they are not understood. Ask a man to fix a faucet or an oil leak and he is quickly happy to do so. Ask him to listen to a problem his wife is having with one of her girlfriends and he is quickly happy to watch the football game. Men desperately need to see that the best investments are not in retirement portfolios but rather the hearts and minds of their wives. When a man is unwilling to talk and share and think and dream with the woman he loves, he is missing out on the best part of what she has to offer.
Men and women are just different. God made us that way. The struggle is real. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t be better. It doesn’t mean that it is impossible for us to understand.
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife…” 1 Pet. 3:7
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Some Thoughts in the Midst of a “Perfect Storm”

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I suppose that it was what some call “a perfect storm” that has prompted this post. Here are some of the elements in that storm.

The gospel meeting we had recently where I am one of the preachers. During this meeting, our son and son-in-law shared the preaching and song leading duties.

That reminded me that neither one of them is a “kid preacher” any longer – if they ever were. Both of them are grown, mature men who are capable of leading people to Jesus. It gave me confidence that the cause of Christ will not suffer when some of us older ones are no longer able to preach. It may, in fact, be in better hands with them than is has been with some of my generation.

The baptism of one of our granddaughters

Her decision to put Christ on in baptism reminded me that our grandchildren are slowly (sometimes all too quickly) becoming responsible and accountable to our Lord. It reminded me that there are still people who have “…an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15).

I don’t need to join the chorus of the cynics who say that there are no people like that any longer and/or that the gospel has lost its effectiveness.

The resignation of one of our deacons

In the nearly sixteen years I’ve been preaching where I am, we have had more changes in our leadership than I care to try to take the time to count. 

Some who are now serving were not even members here then. Some who were serving then have gone on to their reward.

My class reunion

I used to look at those pictures in my hometown newspaper of people who had attended the reunion held fifty years after their graduation. I was somewhat surprised that they were still alive. 

I found out this year that twenty-one of our graduating class of 158 no longer are. I also found out that none of us look quite like we did in 1966.

The fact that Donna and I are spending more time on the road 

We are away from home more in recent years than has been the case in past years. That keeps us away from our home congregation more than has been the case. 

What All These Elements Remind Me Of…

All of that adds up to the realization on my part that change is constant. Nothing is ever just like it was. 

It also causes me to think about the fact that the cause of Christ does not depend on people or circumstances. 

I am grateful to be a part of the “…kingdom that shall never be destroyed…” and “..shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).


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We Are at War

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“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


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Only One

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We recently had a gospel meeting where I preach. Both our son and our son-in-law “traded” the preaching and song leading responsibilities. During that meeting and on a night when our son was doing the preaching, one of our granddaughters was baptized.  I cannot express how my wife and I felt as we watched our son baptize his daughter. 

However, as special as this was to our family, this is not about us – or her. It is about the value of one soul. 

I find it interesting that I listened to a recording of one of the sessions from this year’s Polishing the Pulpit a few days before our gospel meeting started. I will not mention the name of the man who was speaking, but, if I did, his name would be recognized instantly by a large number of people. He has preached the gospel for over fifty-years. He has been on the faculty of one of the schools devoted to training men to preach the gospel for more than thirty years. 

It would be almost impossible to try to calculate the vast number of people who have been affected either directly or indirectly by this man. Heaven’s population will be greater because of him and the men who have been trained by him (and those who have been taught and nurtured by them).

I found his account of his conversion fascinating. I’ve known him for over thirty years, but had never heard this account until I listened to what he had to say at PTP.

He was not a Christian and had no interest in being one when he married his wife. She apparently was a little more interested in spiritual matters than he was, but she also was not a Christian. 

One day, a college student who was in their city on a campaign knocked on their door and gave the wife some information about the scriptures, the church, and the plan of salvation. This led to her some further study. Ultimately, it let to her being baptized into Christ. At that point, she began to pray for her husband to not only become a Christian, but to be a preacher. I think it goes without saying that the Lord looked with favor on her prayers.

The brother who coordinated the campaign all those years ago might have been disappointed. This young wife was the only one who was converted as a direct result of his efforts and the efforts of the students working with him. I have no idea how many houses were visited or pieces of literature were handed out. I only know of one young wife who welcomed the young people, began to study, and became a Christian.

While all of this is fascinating, there is a sad component to all of this. The same brother who organized those campaigns all those years ago is still doing that work. He has reported that it is much more difficult to do these days. It seems that today’s college students (yes, in our schools) don’t have much of an interest in spending even a part of their summers participating in evangelistic campaigns.

Could it be that they are more interested in material things than spiritual matters? Could that be true of all of us?

Could it be that they don’t believe that anybody is lost? Have they bought into the idea that all good people (and maybe even people who aren’t so good) are going to heaven (if there is a heaven)? Could that also be true of the rest of us?

Could it be that they (and we) think that is all about numbers? Do they (we) think that, if large numbers cannot be converted, the whole process is not worth the effort?

My Lord knew that our granddaughter’s soul was worth dying for. He knew that every soul was worth dying for – including yours and those you can lead to Him.

You are important to somebody. Somebody is praying for you. Somebody is praying for those whom you might be able to teach.

Do you think that one soul is worth the effort?

Jesus did!


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Episode 65: How the Church Can Help Parents Raise Pure Children (guest: Jeff Archey) [Podcast]

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We live in times in which impurity is everywhere, but Christian parents want to raise children who are pure and holy. But parents need all the help they can get! On this week’s podcast, Jeff Archey sits down with Adam to talk about how preachers, Bible school teachers, and the entire congregation can have a hand in helping young people grow up pure in an impure world.

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Links Mentioned in This Episode

East Side Church of Christ (Cleveland, TN; where Jeff Archey preaches)

Gospel Broadcasting Network

Polishing the Pulpit

The Ark Encounter

KidSing cards (West Huntsville church of Christ

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It is Not a Decision Until…

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Leadership, according to a book title by the late and beloved Wendell Winkler is “the crisis of our time.” In response to that mindset, there is a whole industry rising up, and if you tried to read all the books or listen to all the podcasts being produced about leadership today you would never finish.

In the midst of that information, though, the major principles are typically quite basic. It is one of those that I want to think about in this post.

That is: what constitutes a decision?

The easy answer to that question is, “We decided to do something.” And you may think that’s the end of the post.

But read that again. What is the “something” you decided to do?

Here’s the thing: real leadership understands that it is not a decision until three things are known.

#1: It’s Not a Decision Until It is Known What is the Next Step

For example, if a congregation is considering hiring a new staff member, that is going to be a multiple-step process. “We need a youth minister” is not a decision! What is the next step that needs to be made in order to bring about the desired result? Will you openly announce that the congregation is looking? Will you write up a job description? Will you form a search committee?

Sometimes, the decision is one step. It isn’t a major deal (maybe buying a small piece of equipment for the office), and the decision is simply to make that purchase. Still, that needs to be stated clearly.

But especially if this is a multi-step process, no real decision has been made until the next step is clearly defined and communicated.

#2: It’s Not a Decision Until It is Known Who Will Make that Next Step

“We” is not usually a good “person” to put in charge! Someone needs to be assigned the task of making certain the next step is completed.

For a congregation’s eldership, it may be one of the elders, or they may ask a deacon, a minister, a Bible school teacher, or someone else to take care of the work. But that person must be told exactly what the next step is. In other words, what is the expectation?

Just saying that “someone” needs to do something leads to one of two extremes. Either one person just keeps taking on more and more responsibility because they cannot stand to see something fall apart, or “someone” morphs into “no one” and the next step is never done.

If there is no “who,” then a decision is not done.

#3: It is Not a Decision Until It is Known When the Next Step is to be Completed

Obviously, there will be exceptions to this, because there are some projects or concepts that cannot be nailed down to a calendar. Still, there should be some clear idea that this is not meant to go on and on forever!

If a piece of equipment is to be ordered and a person is in charge of making that order, then they should be told when the funds will be available and that they can then make that purchase within a certain number of days (say, 30) of that time.

If it is a larger project, people need to understand that it is already going to take awhile to get all the steps done. So, they should know that their report (or purchase, or whatever) needs to be done by “this date.” That way, the process can keep moving forward.

Conclusion

Now, look at the difference. Too many leaders–elders, parents, bosses–make some declaration that basically says (or sounds like), “We decided to do something.”

Contrast that with a true decision: “We have decided to hire a new youth minister. These 8 people will serve on our search committee and their first task is to present the elders with a proposed job description no later than January 10.”

Which do you think is more effective? Which will people gravitate toward? Which will move forward?

To use brother Winkler’s book title, which would help lessen–or even end–“the crises of our time?”

You decide!


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn