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.
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).
“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
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?
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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.
East Side Church of Christ (Cleveland, TN; where Jeff Archey preaches)
KidSing cards (West Huntsville church of Christ
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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.
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.
“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.
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.
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?”
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
For pretty much my whole life, I have heard people fuss about what to wear to Sunday worship. I trust that this one blog article will not settle things, but I do want us all to think through some of the more common “arguments,” and see if they are really helpful.
Regularly, I hear people say that we should wear our best to worship. Often, this is followed by some story of a grandparent or uncle who “only had one pair of overalls, but he would wash those things and wear them every Sunday, because they were the best he had.”
I think there is some validity to wearing our best, but may I throw a monkey wrench in the argument? How many people who hold to this idea do not really follow their own rule?
For example, I know a lot of ladies who say that we should wear our ” very best” every Sunday, but their wedding dress is in a closet or an attic. Isn’t that gorgeous gown their “best”? Isn’t it “better” than the dresses they choose each Sunday?
Further, if we are to wear our “very best,” wouldn’t that imply that we wear the same outfit each week, since it is impossible to have two or three or four “very best” outfits?
I know that’s not the heart behind this side of the argument, but if we are going to argue that we need to wear our “best,” that is what we are actually saying.
On the other hand, there are people who dress very casually for worship, though they have nicer clothing, and then justify it by saying, “God sees my heart. He doesn’t care about the outside.”
Now, it is certainly true that God sees our heart. He knows it perfectly; in reality, He knows our heart better than we ourselves do. Scripture regularly teaches us to guard our heart and to make certain that what is on our “inside” is pure.
But does that mean that God has no concern whatsoever for what is on the outside? Of course not! What we do on the outside is a reflection of what is in our heart. (If it isn’t, we are being hypocritical.)
To intentionally dress casually for worship says something. It does speak, whether we want it to or not, about how we feel about worship. But is worship casual? Is it something that is just routine? Is coming before the Almighty Creator just another activity to be checked off our casual to-do list each week?
So, if it isn’t wearing your best and if it isn’t casual, what is it?
First, let me say that there is no verse of Scripture that mandates what we are to wear each Lord’s Day. It may be appropriate to wear a coat and tie in America and it may be completely inappropriate in some other culture in the world where coats and ties are virtually unknown.
However, should we not seek to show respect when we come to worship? That one concept may solve the issue.
If I dress “to the nines,” is it because I am wanting to honor God, or because I want people to compliment me on my new outfit or jewelry? Remember, it was being overdressed and ostentatious that was condemned as immodest in 1 Timothy 2:8-10. Showing off our wealth or status is not respectful in a setting where the glory is to go only to God.
However, if I “dress down” for worship, is that respectful of my Creator? Is that not saying that I treat this all-important time of the week as just another routine or as not worthy of any sort of preparation?
Personally, I do believe we should dress well for worship, but we may not be able to wear our absolute best outfit week after week. Instead, we need to realize that we are coming into the presence of a holy God at His invitation. That deserves respect.
To some, that may mean wearing the only pair of jeans in your closet that are not stained from the waist to the cuffs. For others, it may mean a dress that’s a little out of fashion, but still is modest and clean. To others, it might mean a bowtie and suitcoat.
The point is: it comes down to an attitude of respect for the Lord. I want to dress in a way that shows that I am taking worship as a respectful time; not as a time to show off, and not as a time that is just mundane and ordinary. God is worthy of my respect, and that does display itself in how I choose to dress.
As I said, I’m certain this article won’t change everyone’s mind. You may totally disagree. In fact, you may think this was a waste of almost 900 words. But worship is the most important thing we do each week, and is always worth our time, to make sure we are treating that time in the same way our Lord does. To that end, I pray this post has been helpful.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
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Many people–and, it seems, especially mothers–talk about “me time.” A couple of years ago, a blogger wrote a powerful article about how having true “me time” as a mother is a myth. She took a lot of heat for the article, but it sparked some good discussion.
On this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah talk about the article [which you can find here] and about how mothers need a little “me time,” but how the ideal of this concept is really a myth for mothers who truly want to impact their children.
“The ‘Me Time’ Myth” [Your Mom Has a Blog]
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Last Wednesday, we released review sheets to help teach the book of Ruth to your children. [Find out more here.] We also promised, though, that something else was coming this Wednesday.
So today, we are pleased to let you know that we have review sheets for another book of the Bible ready to release, and it is the wonderful book of Esther.
As with our sheets on Matthew and Ruth, these sheets each contain about 10 questions directly from the text, 3 or 4 discussion questions, and a memory verse. Also, as with the other sheets, these were created during little snippets of time, so we are certain you’ll find some typos. We apologize, but hey, we’re busy folks!
We hope these sheets help you teach this wonderful story of God’s providence! To access the sheets, click this link or the picture below.
Also, to find all our free printable resources visit our store by following this link.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
Want to start building a good library? Visit our store from A Legacy of Faith to find several volumes that we have written or to which we have contributed.