Praying for Zach

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School was almost out for the summer. Just those last few days remained and eleven-year-old boys wanted to play in the yard when they got home from school. 

The day had begun just like any other day. The bus picked Zach up for school, he spent the day there, and the bus delivered him back in front of his house that afternoon. He started for his house, but as is often the case, some friends were playing across the road from his house, so he did a u-turn and started running across the road, as he had done many times before. A car topped the hill and Zach was in the road. 

Many lives were changed in that instant of time. Zach was hit and sustained critical injuries.  As I’m writing this he is in Kosair Children’s Hospital fighting for his life – a life which will never be the same. The life of the young 18-year-old woman who was driving the car was changed forever. The lives of the family members of both of these young people were changed forever. Our church family was changed forever. 

Hundreds (possibly thousands) of prayers have been sent before the throne of God on behalf of both of these young people. Our prayer has been for Zach to be healed and be able to return to his normal life. Our prayer for the young woman who was driving the car has been for her to realize that it was an accident. She was not doing anything wrong at that particular moment, and yet lives were changed. 

Our loving and faithful God will answer our prayers in the best way, because He always knows what is best. Even when I can’t understand the answer I receive, God knows what is best, and I trust Him to always do what is best.

Life is precious. A split second can change a life forever. Trust God and continue to pray earnestly. I’m praying for Zach, and trusting God to handle whatever comes.

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”  James 4:14-15

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Being Imperfect in a Pinterest World

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The picture above is the garden I had in my mind all winter. I thought about it, marked it out, planned what we would plant, and dreamed about harvesting loads of perfect veggies all summer long from a garden plot that would make HGTV want to have a special program dedicated to how perfect my garden was.

That’s what I just knew was going to happen.

Then, I took this picture early last Saturday morning.

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Yep, that was the way my garden looked. Admittedly, I worked in it quite a lot on Saturday and it looks some better, but it is still pretty embarrassing. It just is not what I wanted it to be. With all the irons in the fire that I’ve got, I just have not had/made the time to take care of it the way it needs to be.

And then, I jump online and see perfect garden after perfect garden. It’s enough to make me want to just not do it next year.

But this isn’t a post about gardening.

It’s a post about the all-too-easy comparison game that we can fall prey to in the Internet age. From that perfect Pinterest pin to how happy all your friends on Facebook seem to be, it is easy to wonder what is wrong with your life. You aren’t that happy 24/7. Not everything you try to grow/cook/sew/bake/make looks that perfect.

What’s wrong with me? you wonder.

For the Christian, it can get even more difficult. We want to do everything just right. After all, aren’t we to do everything to glorify God? Then how can imperfections and even failures bring Him glory?

If you are ever tempted to think less of yourself because of these comparisons, let me share some advice.

1. Stop Comparing. What you do is great. It does not have to be Pinterest perfect. It does not have to look like it is going on the front of a magazine. Quit comparing!

2. Start Cherishing. In other words, cherish the time you spend doing what you enjoy. Even if the results are not as perfect as what other people get, enjoy the journey. Are you growing closer to God? Are you spending the journey with your family? Then who cares if the final result isn’t worthy of a Facebook album!?!

3. Give Yourself Permission to be Imperfect. It’s okay!!!!!!!!! (Is that enough exclamation points?) Even in our Christian walk, God only expects us to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). While our goal is perfection, the journey and the maturity we gain from the journey is what helps us move ever closer to that goal. You don’t have to be the best mom or dad or employee or elder or whatever. Just be the best you can be, and with God’s grace that will be enough.

4. Remember, No One is Perfect. Not even those people who seem to be able to do everything and do it all so that Pinterest takes notice. No one is perfect. Remember, they “set up” their pictures. They have failed at recipies. They aren’t always smiling. While we do not revel in the mistakes or down moments in the lives of others, it is worth remembering that everyone has seasons of life that do not go well.

So, enjoy the journey and do what’s most important. Me? I need to weed my garden, but I’m going to make sure I’m walking with God and that my family is taken care of first. If weeds keep coming, it’s okay. There’s always next year.

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Author: Adam Faughn

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The Chariot Ride

[NOTE: This post from Jeremiah Tatum was originally posted on his personal blog, Ancient Words, in 2008. We have reprinted it here with his permission for his article this week.]

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Everybody needs somebody. Once on the road to Gaza a man came upon a chariot. In the chariot he saw a man who was reading from the book of Isaiah. But the man didn’t understand what he was reading. So the man in the chariot invited the man on the road to join him in his chariot. Everybody needs somebody.
One of the greatest honors one can ever receive is an invitation into someone else’s chariot. Seldom do people allow others to ride with them. On occasion, I have been offered such a ride. I am so thankful to those who have asked me to ride with them. In some small way I hope I have helped to make a difference.

There have also been times when I have invited others into my chariot. I am thankful that they were willing to spend time with me, and could help me understand the truth in a better way. They had to be patient with me. They had to know the truth themselves before they could show it to me. I am so grateful for their influence and the changes and hope that their moments in my chariot brought into my life.
We are all riding in a chariot. But where we may be able to go depends on our willingness from time to time to let others ride with us. God urges us, not only to allow others to ride, but also to overtake chariots who need guidance, faith , and hope. And at the end of our lives, when we get to our desired destination, there will be no doubt in our minds about how we were able to arrive safely. In our hearts we will know what made the difference. It was what we learned on the chariot ride.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” ~ Acts 8:29
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What is the Message “Up in Front?”

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A number of years ago, I read a book that disturbed me and challenged me at the same time. The book was written by individuals who had left the church I read about in my Bible and had either joined with various religious groups or had given up on religion entirely. 

My spiritual journey had taken me in the opposite direction as was the case with these people. I had left a religious group composed of sincere and well-intentioned people, but who wore a name not found in God’s Word for His people. These people whom I loved then and love now also believed and practiced some things for which I found no biblical authority.

My journey took me to a group that appealed (appeals) to the New Testament as the exclusive authority for all that is done and taught religiously. Since Jesus promised to build His church (cf. Matt. 16:18) and since He is its head (cf. Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18), I am humbled and honored to be a member of the church which does have a biblical name. That name, of course, can be found in Romans 16:16 wherein we read “…the churches of Christ greet you” (ESV).

As already stated, the authors of the book I read went in a different direction. I was interested in knowing what caused them to do that. 

As I remember it, I found the typical responses. I remember reading about such things as hypocrisy, “church politics,” lack of love, lack of involvement, and a host of other things. While all of those saddened me greatly, I was, unfortunately, not surprised to read some of these indictments (which, by the way, existed in the first-century church, too).

It may have been a quarter of a century since I read the book, but I am still challenged by one comment in the book. The word picture presented by the author is still as fresh in my mind today as it was when I first read it.

This person told how the former place of worship had information in the front sharing the attendance and contribution. This was in contrast to the current place of worship. It had a huge cross literally hanging over the head of the preacher. The author’s comment on this was that the emphasis of one group seemed to be on how they were doing while the message of the other group was on what the Lord did.

As I type these words, I’m thinking about what the people with whom I worship have in front of them as I preach. To their left, they see a list of song numbers–what we are going to do or have done during that period of worship. On their right, they see that board that reports on our attendance and contribution–how we are doing.  Behind me, they see a baptistery–a reminder of what they need to do or have already done

It is my prayer that the man in the middle of all of this (me) is, in the words of Paul, focused on “…Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul left little doubt about what people saw when he preached. He identified the people of Galatia as those “…before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3:1, NASU).

The spiritual journey of every individual needs to lead to the foot of the cross.

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How Stateside Families Can Support Missionary Families

[Editors Note: This week’s guest post is from Daniel Gaines. Find out more about Daniel, his family, and their work in Tanzania at the end of today’s article.]

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When a family packs up their household, says goodbye to their friends and family, and moves to serve the Lord in another part of the world they go through tons of adjustments. You might think that the biggest challenge is adapting to their new culture. While that can be a huge challenge, it is likely one that your missionary anticipated. 

A challenge that he may not have expected is the feeling of isolation that often comes from life in a foreign mission field. The missionary family is now separated from everything familiar by thousands of miles. While friends back home are gathering for the lectureships, camps, conventions, gospel meetings and other events that once were a big part of life, the missionaries are watching from afar. There are no more youth sports, school activities, or family get-togethers. The things that once connected them to church and community are gone, leaving a void of disconnectedness in their place. 

That is where stateside families come in. You are a sort of lifeline or anchor in the missionary family’s home culture. As you support them, you remind them that they are not alone and forgotten. You remind them that you are on the team with them and that they are appreciated and loved. 

Here are five ways that you can support and connect with a missionary family: 

1. Prayer

Pray for them. Regularly. By name. Most missionaries strongly believe in the power of prayer. When they ask for your prayers, it is not just vain lip service. They really want the prayers. Even the apostle Paul sought out intercessory prayer in his behalf in Colossians 4:3-4: “Praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word… that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.” If Paul needed prayers, then the rest of us certainly do!

Pray for missionaries at church. This also reminds other Christians about this need. Pray for missionaries at home. It reminds your family of the importance of missions. Be like Epaphras, and labor earnestly for us in your prayers (Colossians 4:12)

TIP: Read their mission reports so that you can pray about specific things that are going on.  Then send a quick message saying, “We prayed for you tonight!”

2. Communicate

This is one area that is so much easier today than it used to be. When I was a child living in Cameroon we didn’t have a phone, but we knew a guy who did. We could make a long drive to his house and use it, then reimburse him for the expense – which was about $8-10 per minute. A 10-minute call to the US would cost $100 in 1980’s money!  Needless to say, we did not make many phone calls.

Now, living in Tanzania I can call the US for free thanks to internet services like MagicJack. I can even have face-to-face conversations through Skype and Facetime. Also, email, Facebook, and blogs make it possible for missionaries to communicate reports of their work essentially in real time. There is no more waiting for quarterly newsletters. If churches haven’t heard from their missionaries in a few weeks, then they wonder what’s wrong. 

The marvels of communication technology do work both ways, however. It means that it is easier than ever to send out an encouraging message to your missionaries. A quick note acknowledging a recent report and offering a few words of encouragement or thanks can mean a lot to your missionaries. “Like” and “Share” their reports with others. It reassures them that they are not working in a vacuum, and that their efforts matter to the folks back home.  

TIP: Be patient in your correspondence. Things like time differences and power outages mean that your missionary may not respond as instantly as your office coworker. Give him a couple of days. 

3. Financial Support

It has been said, “An underfunded missionary is a distracted missionary.” How can a missionary be properly focused on his work if he has to spend large amounts of time trying to raise money to make up for funding shortages? Many missionaries end up leaving the field over funding frustrations.

I once assumed that almost all mission funding came from congregations. However, the reality is that a large portion of our funds come directly from individuals. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a great number of Christians contribute directly to missions from their household budgets in addition to their church contributions. 

TIP: Obviously this helps the missionaries, but it is also good for the stateside family. Even if you can only do $25 per month, then that makes you regular partners in the work that is taking place. You are putting your money where your mouth is, as it were, and demonstrating to your family that mission work is important. Become a “sender” (Romans 10:14-15). 

4. Care packages

The air fills with electric excitement when my children see me walk into the house carrying a package. An onlooker would think it was Christmas morning as the kids tear into the package filled with treats and trinkets from America. Even the small children receive the message that there are people back home that care about them enough to send this reminder of their love. What a great way to show you care!

TIP: Try to be thoughtful of the ages and genders of any children in the family, and send things that you think they would enjoy. If possible, contact the missionaries beforehand to get ideas of things that they would like, but can’t find in their area. Then put the package together with a Bible class, care group, or just as a family. You’ll put big smiles on the faces of a missionary family.

5. Visit

Go visit the mission field in person. It might be the trip of a lifetime for you, and you’ll get to see what happens in a mission field first-hand. Pictures and reports really just can’t do it justice, and your faith is going to grow through the experience. 

Take your teenage children with you. They need to see how real people live in other parts of the world.  My father took me with him on a campaign to Suriname when I was in 9th grade. Honestly, I wasn’t a huge amount of help on the trip aside from passing out some flyers. However, the trip was a huge help to me. This was a turning point in my life that really began my desire to become a minister. If I hadn’t taken that trip, then I probably wouldn’t be a missionary or even a minister today. 

TIP: Airlines on international flights usually allow you two suitcases per person. Plan to only use one for yourself. Then contact the missionaries and offer to let them use your extra bag. Through sites like Amazon, we can shop online but shipping is prohibitive. Tell the missionary, “Hey, I’ve got 50 pounds worth of space, and it’s yours. Just send to my house anything you want me to bring.” This consideration doesn’t cost you anything, but would be very, very helpful to a missionary family.

Doing any combination of these five things will help hold up the hands of your missionaries, and make you fellow workers sharing in their efforts.  World evangelism is a team effort.  It takes good people working together on the home front and in the field to make it happen. 

To God be the glory!

———-africa family

Daniel and Tiffany Gaines, along with their children (Abby, Josiah, and Levi), are serving the Lord and His church in Tanzania, Africa where Daniel is the director of the Andrew Connally School of Preaching.  You can follow their work by liking their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/TanzanianMissions and by reading their blog at:  http://tanzanianmissions.blogspot.com/ 

You can contact Daniel at Daniel-gaines@hotmail.com

FURTHER, please keep this family in your prayers. Since writing this article, Tiffany and the children have had to come back to the United States to take care of a medical need with one of the children. Daniel is currently alone in Tanzania. Pray for them as they are separated for a fairly extended time.

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Checkout Lines and Teaching Values

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I stood in the checkout line at Walmart while the clerk finished scanning all of my items. All of the sudden I had a tremendous sinking feeling down in my stomach. For once, it wasn’t caused by watching the grocery bill get larger and larger.

The feeling was caused by watching the people behind me in the line. I watched as an old woman rolled up to the line in an electronic riding carts. With her, there were two young women who appeared to be in their twenties, or possibly younger. There were one or two kids with them.

Just as they walked up to the counter, a worker brought up a stack of phone cards and some other electronic thing – I didn’t get a good look at that. They placed some clothing and two or three pairs of shoes for the kids on the counter. I didn’t know for sure what was about to happen, but my intuition told me that it wasn’t going to be good. I was afraid an old woman was about to pay for some pretty expensive items for these young people. The sinking feeling was in my stomach because I wasn’t sure the woman even knew what she was about to pay for.

To be fair, I told myself that maybe the young women were going to pay for all of those phone cards and the kids’ shoes and clothes. I told myself that maybe the old woman offered to pay for all of those items, because, after all, I did overhear one of the young women offer to take the older woman by to visit someone. Maybe this was her way of saying “thanks for bring me to the grocery store.”

In these short moments, my mind raced about what I should do. I thought maybe I should just come out and ask, “Wow! Are you buying all of these expensive things for them? How nice!” I thought about being snarky and asking the checkout clerk in an intentional loud voice, “Just wondering. Do you ever have lazy young people come in and buy a lot of items at the expense of some elderly person?” I even thought about just coming out and asking, “If you are about to let her pay for those, please just let me pay for those things. Then at least you would be taking advantage of me, a woman married to a hard working husband, and not an old woman who can’t afford it.” 

I didn’t say anything, though. After all, I really didn’t know for sure what was going on.  In other words, I was trying not to judge this situation, but my intuition just made me feel as if something was not right about it.

Still, even if I had judged this particular situation completely wrong, I have been in enough checkout lines to know that what I feared was going on does happen often. With that in my mind, I left the store nearly in tears. I was sad because it is a terrible thing to take advantage of someone. I was also frustrated because I felt like I should do something, or at least try to.

The sadness and frustration slowly went away. As it did, a feeling of determination took its place.

I was determined to teach my children better. With the help of God and because of my extreme influence in the lives of an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, I would teach my kids to be better. To do that, I resolved more than ever to teach three things:

  1. I will teach them to honor the elderly. I will not allow disrespectful talk about elderly people in our home. I will make sure they get a steady dose of visiting elderly people in their homes, in our home, and at church. I will make sure they spend their own money to buy something for an elderly person on a regular basis.
  2. I will teach them how to work hard; I will not allow laziness. They will be responsible for regular chores. I will not allow video games, television, and play to dominate their time.
  3. I will teach them that they weren’t put on this earth to be served, but to serve. Using the example of our Lord (cf. Mark 10:45), I will constantly put them in situations and places where they serve other people.

I know I am not the only young mother who is deceived by society and the Devil himself about her value. It is so easy to want to give up or focus on something different from your family. Our society tells young women that if they want to be valuable to world, they need to do something in addition to raising a family. Too many women leave the rearing of children to someone else, because they feel like they need to do something more “important” with their lives. 

This really isn’t an article on women working outside the home. This is an article written by a young woman who sometimes wonders if she is doing enough for the church, for her country, for society, for God. Today, I felt the weight of my responsibility as a mother on my shoulders. I felt like I can make a difference. That difference begins in the lives of that 9-year-old girl and that 8-year-old boy.

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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

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“Hymns of the Heart” Now Ready to Order!

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The book that I have been writing for a long time is now available. We are thrilled to let you know that Hymns of the Heart: Discovering God in the Psalms can now be ordered from our friends at Start2Finish books.

The book is not meant to be a verse-by-verse exposition of all 150 of the Psalms. Instead, I chose 35 that I feel help the reader connect more deeply with the Lord, and I tried to write in a fairly conversational style about each of the selected Psalms. Thanks to some amazing editing (which was very needed!), the book is designed to help the reader draw closer to the Lord. From the beginning through the end, the editors did a great job of helping that theme come through each chapter, and I am grateful for their effort.

We are also indebted to Dr. Jay Lockhart for his willingness to write the forward to Hymns of the Heart. His forward, the 35 chapters, and the final epilogue provide about 330 pages of material, all designed to help the reader understand more about the awesome God we serve. Our circumstances may be positive, negative, or even boring, but we can draw near to Jehovah through every circumstance if we will just seek Him. The inspired poems of the Psalms help us do that.

The description of the book, found on the back cover, gives a clearer picture of what we were trying to accomplish in writing this volume:

God is high and holy, but he is also near to his people. It can seem difficult at times for us to grasp how our King can also be our Friend. Perhaps no book of the Bible better demonstrates the desire to understand God than Psalms. Running the entire gamut of emotions, the writers of these great poems sought to draw near to God and both honor and know him. In doing so, they aid us in expressing our hearts and minds to God.

Hymns of the Heart walks the reader through 35 of these psalms, looking to the meaning of the original text while pointing to God’s majesty and glory. As you reflect on the Psalms, may your heart be drawn to the Lord and may you stand amazed at his love for his people.

The book is available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions. Even though the official release date is not until June 16, if you order the book now, it will ship out and you will receive it. We hope you will get a copy, and then spread the word about this new book.

eBooks are $9.99, while the paperback edition is $14.99. The book is about 330 pages in length and the folks at Start2Finish Books helped to make it a good looking and well-laid-out product. We appreciate all they are doing to help people study Scripture, and we are humbled they were willing to produce our book as part of their product line.

To learn more, or to order your copy, you can visit either Start2Finish books, or order it from Amazon.

While Reading the Bible, Did We See Jesus?

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He was talking to God’s people. But they did not understand who He was. This must have been frustrating to Jesus. John put it this way, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10-11). They did not understand what He was saying. But Jesus kept talking to them anyway.

One thing in particular He said to the Jews is very intriguing. In John 5:39 He explained, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” The spiritual leaders of Israel read God’s book and yet they missed Jesus. It made me wonder if you and I ever do the same?

While trying to find out from the Bible how to obey God do we forget we are saved by the grace and power of the cross?

While searching the Scriptures for the will of God do we forget how much He loves us?

When reading about the church of the New Testament, do we understand that it was because these early disciples wanted to suffer like Jesus suffered that they were even willing to die for their faith?

Whenever we read the Bible, are we looking at it as a self-help book, or are we instead simply in awe of the scheme of redemption that included the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God?

Have we, through our study and practice, ritualized worship and Bible study and prayer and thus trivialized Jesus?

He was the Son of God. He was right there in front of them. He was talking to God’s people about God’s love and eternal plan. But they had their noses so deep in the Law and their hearts so steeped in their human traditions, that they missed out on Jesus!

May God help us, that when we open up His word we never fail to see the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us! If we miss Jesus, we miss everything.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2:9

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The Church What Helps People

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If you were alive and at least somewhat acquainted with the church of Christ prior to 1984, you probably remember a man by the name of Ira North. Brother North was probably best known as the preacher for the Madison (TN) church of Christ. During his thirty-two years there, it grew from about 400 to over 5,000. 

Along with his normal preaching duties, he also was the speaker for a weekly television program called The Amazing Grace Bible Class. He was also a faculty member at what was then David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). He was an author and served for a time as editor of the Gospel Advocate

While actually doing some research for something else, I came across something written by brother North after his death by his wife of forty-three years. Along with other things, she wrote:

Ira frequently related the incident about the “Church What Helps People.” One afternoon he was in the office after everyone else was gone. There was a timid knock at his outside door. He went to the door and there stood two frightened little girls.

“Mister, is this the church what helps people.” they asked.

“Well, I’ll declare!” Ira quickly replied. “There are 750 churches in this town and you have found the right one! What can I do for you?”

“Our daddy’s sick and we are hungry,” they said.

“Well, we’ll fix that. Come with me.”

He took them to the food room and found the door locked.

“Well, what do you know – somebody forgot and locked the door.”

He picked up a hammer and broke the lock and sent the little girls home with their arms filled with sacks of food. Before leaving them he invited them to Bible school the next Sunday.

It has been observed by people who are much more in tune with things than I am that, over time, every congregation of God’s people develops an identity and/or a reputation. It is my observation that this is rarely limited to one description. For example; a congregation can (and should) be known as both “sound” and “evangelistic.”

Wouldn’t it be great to be known (among other things) as “the church what helps people?”  What are you doing to make that a reality?

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5 Things Every Congregation CAN Do to Encourage Families

[Editor’s note: Today’s post comes to us from Dan Jenkins. Dan is a great gospel preacher, and we appreciate him taking the time to write for us. To find out more about Dan, read his information following today’s article.]

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It is obvious that the strength of the church is found in the homes of those who make up the local congregation. However, we tend to often limit our consideration to those homes and families where there are Christian parents and young children. The reality is this: because of our changing world this is only one kind of family. Remember that there are families in the church where there are single parents. Then there are families in the church where there is only one parent who is a Christian. There are also families with empty nests where the children who were once part of that family no longer are there. The church must not overlook these kinds of families and their needs. Finally there are single people, widows, widowers and others people in the congregation. This final group is not overlooked in the Bible for the psalmist said, “God sets the solitary in families” (Psa. 68:6). The church must realize that congregations are used by God to help these individuals be part of a family. However, our emphasis in this study will focus on “regular” families.

Congregations CAN Remind Parents of Their Role in the Spirituality of the Family

As the church has focused on children there has developed a tendency for our homes to rely on the church for the spiritual welfare of the home. Years ago, homes were places which reflected the instruction of Moses, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise it” (Deut. 6:7). Congregations need to remind parents that it is impossible for the local congregation to develop deeply spiritual young people without the assistance of the home. There is perhaps no greater help congregations can give to families than to regularly emphasize this truth.

Think about this. Sometimes we tend to say that the church is losing its young people, but such is not the case. The church was never given young people, they were given to parents. The primary blame for the lack of spiritual development of the family lies with the family. It is vital that families be reminded of this truth.

Congregations CAN Provide Tracts, Books, Blogs, Classes and Seminars About the Family

This point might seem unnecessary, but the average Christian family likely does not have a reliable source to find materials that would enhance the spirituality of the family. Church leaders would be wise in using the assembly to provide information and help create homes that are closer to God. There are devotional tracts and booklets, and entire books which could help in this area. In this technological age there are blogs written by godly men and women which most homes are not aware even exist. In view of the demise of spirituality in the home, congregations should regularly have sermons, Bible classes and special workshops to make our homes different from those in the world. In the absence of these truths based on His word, our homes are being shaped by the ungodly and often seem no different from those homes where God is not honored.

Congregations CAN Help Families Become Part of the Church and its Worship

The presence of children in worship and their behavior have created a situation in the church where some families may feel they are not welcomed in the assembly. Those of us who grew up in the church, sitting beside our both of our parents in the pews, forget that the world has changed and so has the membership of those in the church. Many young parents were raised by parents who rarely took them to worship and what we have known by our own experiences are unknown to them. One congregation surveyed its membership to discover how many young parents actually grew up sitting in the assembly every week and 60% of young parents never had this blessing.

Because of this, congregations would be wise to provide instructions and encouragement to those who are struggling with their children. We should praise those parents when they are doing things right (such praise simply reinforces the right way to train children), instead of staring down parents when their children create awkward situations which disturb the worship. Older Christian women can become “grandmothers” to such children in worship to show by example how it should be done.

Some Christians also contribute to the negative behavior of children by playing with children who sit around them or in front of them. Such not only disturbs the attention of others in the assembly, but also makes children view worship as a “fun” time and not a worship time.

Congregations CAN Help New Families Feel a Part of the Local Congregation

The church is an ever-changing and growing congregation of God’s people. New families are moving into the area. There are also newlyweds who have created a new family and often struggle to find their place. There are families with new children and the presence of these children changes their place in the makeup of the congregation. There are newly baptized husbands/wives whose mates were already part of the church, but now there is a family united in Christ. Each of these new situations should be addressed by older Christians.

Congregations CAN Be Part of God’s Plan to Put the Solitary into Families

It is in this area where the church is often the weakest. In far too many places activities primarily involve couples; thus, single, divorced, widows, and other lonely people need to know what family is all about. The Lord describes the church as a family (1Tim. 3:15), and God expects His people to be the family for solitary people. God knew there would be widows and described pure and undefiled religion as being shown by how we help widows and orphans.

So look around the congregation where you worship. Then as part of that congregation do all you can to help the families in that congregation. It can make an eternal difference in the lives of those around you.

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Dan Jenkins has preached for over fifty years around the world and for the past thirty-five years has preached in West Palm Beach, Florida. He and his wife have four children, thirteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. There is an abundance of material found on the website of the Palm Beach Lakes congregation:  www.pblcoc.org

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Photo background credit: Keoni Cabral on Creative Commons