If It Doesn’t Make Any Difference

It would be difficult to overstate the tremendous blessings that are ours merely because we have the ability to make our own personal choices. It would also be difficult to overstate the amount of responsibility that is ours because of that ability. To state it simply, I must live with the consequences of the choices I make. 

Sometimes, those consequences are not great. For example, it really does not matter what color or type of vehicle I choose to drive. As long as I can afford it and as long as it meets my needs, it doesn’t really matter if I choose to drive a new car or a used car. I may have a preference for a particular manufacturer, but, in the grand scheme of things, it really matters very little whether I choose a Ford, a Chevy, or some other kind of car.

Does it really matter which restaurant you choose for a particular meal? Are there any real long-term consequences attached to the choice of athletic programs you choose to support? Are you an Apple fan or do you prefer PCs? 

I realize that, in each of these areas and in so many others, we may have some very definite opinions and preferences. I also realize that many of those opinions and preferences really do not matter a great deal.

On the other hand, there are some choices that have serious consequences. There are times when a decision I make really does make a difference. 

For example; let’s say that you own a house, but decide to live in a house owned and occupied by somebody else. If it doesn’t make any difference which house you live in, why not just choose one you like and move in? Would the people who already live in it mind?

What if I was to walk into a room full of people? What if some of those people were married women? What if one of them was my wife? Would it make a difference if I chose to sit with somebody other than her? What if I decided to hold hands or to demonstrate affection in some other way? Would it be acceptable to do that with just any wife in the room?   

What about children? As long as you have the number of children in your home that matches the number of children who are yours, would it really make any difference whether or not the children are actually yours? Would it be just as appropriate to rear the children of a neighbor or friend as it would be to rear your own?

What if you were to go to a doctor and would discover that he/she was looking at x-rays and lab results from the body of somebody else? Would it not make a difference to you? Would you not insist that the doctor look at results of x-rays taken of your body?

At this point, you may be asking yourself what all of this has to do with anything. My suggestion is that it has a great deal to do with where I spend eternity.

You see; I chose the scenarios above purposefully. Each of them relates in some way to the relationship that God has with His people. Each one of them, in some way, points to a choice that will make a difference for eternity.

The church you read about in your Bible is referred to in these terms: “…the house God, which is the church of the living God…” (1 Tim. 3:15). In this sense, the “house” in which I live does make a difference.

The marriage relationship is also used to describe the relationship that exists between the Lord and His church. One very clear description of that may be found in Ephesians 5:22-29. Since the Lord only has one bride, it appears that it does make a difference in this instance as well.

Repeatedly in the New Testament, the relationship between the God and His people is compared to the relationship that exists between a Father and His children. That would mean that the identity of my Father really does make a difference. Surely none of us would want to find ourselves in the position of some of the religious leaders to whom Jesus said these sobering words, “You are of your father, the devil…” (John 8:44).

Please consider carefully these passages:

“…Jesus answered and said…I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:17-18).

“…the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:47).

“And He [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church…” (Col. 1:18).

“There is one body…” (Eph. 4:4).

There are some choices that do make a difference. Some of them make a difference for eternity.

It is my prayer that each of us will choose wisely.


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Soup Weather: Free Printable Recipe

It has turned cooler in Paducah, Kentucky this week! With the crisp, cool weather I begin to think about getting out my soup recipes. Cold weather and hot soup just seem to match up in my mind. 

Since it’s been a while since I shared one of my recipes with you, I thought you might like my version of broccoli cheese soup. It is a low carb recipe, easy to fix, and (in my opinion) delicious!

Put on your sweatshirt, make some delicious soup, and be thankful to God for the great variety He gives us in life…weather, colors of leaves, warm homes, and great varieties of foods. Enjoy!!

Low Carb Broccoli Cheese Soup

4 cups broccoli, chopped (I steam a small bag and use this if I don’t have fresh)

1 small onion, diced

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp. garlic, minced

3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup heavy cream

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ stick of butter

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir together chicken stock, onions, broccoli and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  • Once it comes to a low boil, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in heavy cream, cream cheese and butter and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in cheese until smooth (about 1-2 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with bacon bits, extra shredded cheese, sour cream, or my personal favorite – toasted onions.
  • Serve immediately.

This soup is great as a left-over. It makes 4 servings and contains 7 net carbs per serving. I hope you enjoy it along with the cooler temperatures!

These all look to You, to give them their food in due season.

When You give it to them, they gather it up;

When You open your hand, they are filled with good things.  ~Psalm 104:27-28

To Download or Print This Recipe, Click on the Image Below


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Putting a Hold on Freedom

For many years, the region of Spain known as Catalonia has considered being an independent nation. They have their own language and a fairly bright economy, led by the largest city in the region, Barcelona.

Recently, there was actually a vote among the people of that region and they voted for independence (though, admittedly, turnout was quite low). However, after the vote, they then put a hold on independence.

Now, this is not meant to be a political post or an article about world cultures. I know little about the Catalonian independence movement and I have no idea if it would be a good thing or bad thing if this region should become its own nation.

However, the whole concept of putting a hold on independence drew my attention and made me think of the life of a Christian. It made me wonder how many Christians are putting a hold on freedom.

The promise of God is freedom from our worst possible problem–sin–should we simply obey His will. On the birthday of the church, when asked what to do about their sin, Peter responded, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38).

The word “remission” is fascinating. The original word, aphesis, carries the idea of “liberation from” or “release from bondage.”  Being obedient to the will of God, culminating in the saving act of baptism, liberates us from our sins. We are free!

But then…

…how many Christians still let certain sins hold sway over their life?

…how many Christians allow the guilt of what they have done before conversion take hold and weigh them down?

…how many disciples cannot shake the anxiety that comes from what they used to be before Christ?

There can be no doubt that we might still face certain consequences of our sin here in this life, even if we are liberated from them by the blood of Christ. The murderer who is baptized cannot bring the victim back to life, nor can his/her baptism cause a prison sentence to suddenly be removed. A man caught embezzling money may still be fired or may still have to make serious restitution for that act, even should he obey the will of God in repentance and baptism.

However, just because we face certain earthly consequences, we can no longer let those things remove the joy of being free in our soul from the burden of past sins! Our lives should be lived like the free men and women we have become in Christ.

We should never let anything put a hold on our freedom! Why would you wait to be free?

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins; calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

How to Find Out Who You Are

Last week my grandmother had a birthday. I called her to talk awhile as I could not easily visit. She lives about 7 hours away from us by car. We had sent a floral arrangement to her along with a gift and as we talked, as always, she was gracious and thankful. Then she mentioned something to me that has been on my mind ever since.

She said that her son (my uncle) and his wife had bought her a new Bible she had been wanting. She said it had her name on the front, printed in gold, “Just in case she forgot who she was.” She joked that she was glad to have a book with her name on it, just in case she couldn’t remember her name. She said that now in her old age she could just look down at her Bible and remind herself who she was!

In many ways, my grandmother stumbled upon something in her funny comment that expressed a great truth. I’m sure the world wonders why Christians are so adamant about worship attendance and about prayer and Bible study. They may ponder, as we have our youth day and gospel meeting this week – why those church people want to be down there at their building getting together every night! Is Christianity so involved? Does it take that much commitment and dedication? I believe without a doubt that the answer to those questions is a resounding “Yes!”

When the Lord spoke of discipleship he constantly discussed its costly nature. He said, “If any would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY (emphasis mine), and follow after me” (Luke 9:23). We would note that Jesus said being his disciple involves self-denial, a 24/7 commitment, and willingness to suffer and sacrifice.

We might add, as we look at the example of the New Testament church, that they met not only every Sunday to worship and partake of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2) – but that they met daily with one another and from house to house (Acts 2:42-47). They did these things not only because they wanted to honor God and live obediently, but because once they had made the decision to become people of God, that’s exactly what they decided to spend the majority of their time doing.

As we live the Christian life in this transient and busy world, there is a real danger in forgetting who we are. Just this past Sunday night, two of the three individuals who came forward requesting prayers admitted that their reason for publicly repenting was due to the fact that they had gotten off track in their walk with God. James 1 speaks of the man who looks into the word but then goes away and forgets what kind of man he is. He continues, “But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).

The Bible will help the Christian to remember who they are. But I also believe it is here to help every person find out who they are! If you want to know why you are here and what your purpose is – look no further than the words that come from the mouth of the One who has created all things!

My grandmother is not the only person who needs to look into her Bible to remind herself of who she is. As we age, we all need to look to our Bibles. And I believe we can all do that with great success, whether our name is printed on the cover in gold letters or not.

“I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.” – Psalm 119:93


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Mature Marriage Issues: Dealing with the Death of a Spouse

It seems that we often feel uncomfortable talking about the effects of growing older. As a result, we don’t know how to make adequate preparation for that season of our lives. In my opinion, that is true whether we are discussing the effects of aging on ourselves or on our loved ones. 

Donna and/or I can speak from experience about the effects that aging can have on families. For about twenty years, we were trying to see to the needs of our parents as they grew older and as the aging process really took its toll on each of them (and us). For many of those years, we were doing that while we were not close to our parents geographically and while our children were still at home.

Now, as both of us are “creeping up on” seventy, we are beginning to realize some of the effects of aging on the individual who is actually going through that process. We still may not talk about it as often as we should, but we certainly talk about it more than has been the case earlier in our lives. 

A recent experience caused me to do some research that I might not have otherwise have done on this subject. I thought I would, in some way, share that experience with you. 

At this year’s Polishing the Pulpit, I was given an interesting assignment. The specific title/topic I was given was:

MATURE MARRIAGE ISSUES. Some churches may not be addressing two key areas regarding marriage: (1) Caregiving in marriage and (2) Preparing for life without a long-term mate. The best time to discuss these things is before we have to deal with them.

While doing some research for my presentation, I found material from various sources that I considered to be interesting and informative. I submitted material from three of those sources to those who organize Polishing the Pulpit. They were kind enough to make it available electronically. I also took with me some “hard copies” of those materials to distribute to those who attended the session. 

With the help of our son, who is the brains behind A Legacy of Faith, I am including those handouts here. In my opinion, each one is helpful in different – but practical – ways. 

It is my prayer that they are helpful to you.

[To View or Download These Resources as a PDF, click the picture below.]


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Never Have a Problem with Monday

“Do what you love and you’ll never have a problem with Monday.” A friend of mine had this posted on Facebook recently as a recruiting tool for her business. And there is some definite truth to the statement! I love my job, so Mondays are okay with me. As much as I enjoyed fall break (and believe me, I enjoyed it all!), I didn’t dread going back to work Monday because I love teaching, advocating for, and encouraging my students.

This got me to thinking about other days of the week being satisfying too. And I realized that, for the Christian, every day can be a good day because no matter what we do, we are to do it “as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). If I will see everything I do as being something that I was created to do (Ephesians 2:10), and want to work for the Father’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), then I should have no problem with any day of the week.

Does this mean we will never have a bad day? Of course not! We are human and will still get frustrated when things don’t run smoothly or plans are delayed or any number of other problems arise. I am simply reminding those of us who are Christians that we have a greater purpose–a greater outlook–than the daily “grind” of life. God created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7)! That makes every day amazing, and I have no problem with that!

“You work at your job, you work hard at school
But the things of this life fade away
But if you work for the Lord it is never in vain
And he will guide your feet everyday
So with His word in your heart and His love in your soul
You can press on to the goal

You’ve gotta work at it with all of your heart
Work at it with all of your heart
As working for the Lord and not for man
You’ve gotta work at it with all of your heart”

~Keith Lancaster and Rodney Britt


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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

3 Fun Bible Time Ideas for Families

We readily admit we are not perfect about having a family Bible time each and every night, but it is a highlight of most evenings in our home.

For many families, the problem is getting started. The good thing is that you don’t have to do the same thing each night. You can vary it, and if something doesn’t work for your family, you can move on to something else.

So, in this post, I want to share with you three things we have done (or still do) that are fun and that a family can do together.

IDEA #1: Bible Charades

I will admit, we haven’t done this one often, but it is something we did more when the kids were smaller. The idea is quite simple: just let your kids act out their favorite Bible person or Biblical account and guess. This works well when a Bible school curriculum at the congregation is comprehensive, because your children know a lot of people in the Bible, instead of just one or two.

(Of course, you can do similar games with drawing or other artistic ways of depicting these things.)

IDEA #2: Bible Outburst

This one isn’t free, but it is so fun. In fact, our family played another round just this week (which is where I got the idea for this article this week)!

If you are familiar with the board game “Outburst!” then you know about this game. It is the same rules (trying to guess a list of facts), but all pertaining to the Bible. Several Christian bookstores carry this game, and you can also find it on Amazon here. We love this game for a simple Bible time night, but one where we laugh and learn together.

IDEA #3: Sing

I can’t stress this one enough. It’s just you and your family, so who cares if all the notes are right? Just get out a songbook, or just sing some favorites from church from memory. Without really meaning to, this has become our Saturday evening routine for Bible time, as we typically sing five or six songs together, and try to mix both old and new hymns.

This is fun because everyone can pick out a favorite or two and there is also the fun of trying to learn new songs together, or of teaching old family favorites to your kids.

So, there you go. Three ideas. Which will you use, even this evening?


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

What Place Do Sports Have in the Life of a Christian?

Sports dominate our world. So much so that now they are even used to shape politics and moral and religious thinking. Recent demonstrations by athletes only remind us what a big role athletics play in our lives. It’s not that athletes are supposed to be our cultural heroes – it’s just that they have such a huge forum in which to be heard. And as with any advantage that human beings experience in life – the sporting arena has now become an agent by which society is influenced.

I grew up eating, drinking, and living sports. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. All I wanted was a ball since I was old enough to hold one. We lived next to the baseball park. It was literally on the other side of the chain link fence from my house. I became a player. I became a fan. By the time I was 3 or 4 until my teenage years – sports dominated my mind.

It is my contention that we put too much emphasis on athletics. They are, to many, a god. People become so passionate about their teams that they will drop thousands of dollars on one game. They will beat each other up on social media and they will beat each other up physically in the stands. We have all seen those videos where somebody punches somebody else at a ball game. I remember several years ago attending a late September, playoff-run baseball game in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Cubs in which the game was won in the ninth inning on a dramatic home run. I was with my wife and young son and I was wondering if we were going to get back to our car alive.

This article is not about how the general public should negotiate sports – I know that the world is so dominated by sports that for many, it’s what rules them. I don’t expect for the drunken fan to disappear and I don’t expect ticket prices or player’s salaries to decrease any time soon – because the world loves its sports. We are the 21st-century version of the Roman Coliseum. The world is in it for the long haul! The chariot races will continue! But for a Christian – what place can sports play in our lives? Or better yet – when does our love for sports become too great?

1. Sports must not allow us to lose our influence for Christ.

When we allow our passion for our team to change our attitude for the opponent and, through this, we act like a son of the devil, it’s time to repent. This may be that escalated conversation on a Facebook wall. It may be the way a parent treats a coach or umpire. It may be how our behavior towards our family changes inside our home for a 24-hour period when our team just lost the big game – and we haven’t gotten over it yet. We need to remember – IT IS JUST A GAME! In the scope of eternity is never going to matter what team won or lost any game in any particular year.

2. Sports must not allow us to lose our priorities.

When you are good with missing worship for a sporting event on a weekend, you’ve put that event before the only assembly that deserves your absolute respect and worship. Christian parents should plan a way for their athletic, travel-ball family to worship the Lord on the first day of the week. Christian adults who participate in events that sometimes take place on Sunday need to remember to honor and worship the Lord on that day. You have 24 hours. The top priority in that time frame should be your personal reflection on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

3. Sports must not allow us to lose our children.

You can attend every ball game your kids play. You can travel all over the country with them in their athletic pursuits. You can help them receive scholarships through athletic endeavors and thus avail them to a better education and a better standard of living. But if your kids leave the church it won’t be worth it. Sports need to be taught as beneficial but not essential. We can learn so much about life through playing sports. But the things we need to learn to make it to heaven can only be found in God’s word.

So remember – in a sense, it is about winning and losing. Don’t lose your faculties. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t lose your family. By all means, run to win! Just don’t forget to seek the crown that endures.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

A Retired Preacher Who is Still a Pastor

How many of the following statements confuse you?

  • I began preaching full-time for a congregation in southern Illinois in 1978, but I was not a pastor.
  • I moved to another location in Southeast Missouri in 1985. For eleven years, I served as the full-time preacher there, but I was not a pastor.
  • I began preaching full-time for the Central church of Christ in Paducah in 2001, but I was not a pastor.
  • On December 21, 2003, I started serving that congregation as one of the pastors.
  • From December 21, 2003, until December 31, 2016, I was both a full-time preacher for the Central church and also one of the pastors. 
  • On December 31, 2016, I retired as a full-time preacher for that congregation, but I am still one of its pastors.

Is your head spinning yet? If it is, I think there may be a simple explanation for that.

It may very well be that you are thinking like many in the religious world think. You may be thinking that the local preacher is the pastor of the congregation where he preaches. 

If that is the reason for your confusion, I would encourage you to consult the New Testament. A careful study of that inspired document may clear up your confusion.

As you study, you will find that, in the New Testament church, there is a plurality of men who serve the congregation in a special way. There are different terms used to identify these men and their work. 

I do not intend to make this a tedious word study of either the Greek or the English languages. I will merely make a few points and leave it to the reader to follow the example of the Bereans who spent significant time “…examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11, ESV).

I will refer briefly to only two passages of scripture in order to justify my statement that different terms are used to describe the same group of men in the New Testament. The first passage is in Acts 20:17-38. Among other things in this passage we learn that:

  • Paul was meeting with the elders of the church at Ephesus (v. 17).
  • He called these same men overseers (v. 28). It is interesting to notice in passing that the Greek word translated “overseers” here is translated as “bishops” elsewhere and in other translations.
  • He gave this same group of men an important charged. That charge was to “feed” or “care for” the church (v. 28). The Greek word used here is the verb form of the word that comes to us in the English language as shepherd or pastor.

The other passage where this “interchange” of terms may be seen is in 1 Peter 5.

  • Peter is writing to the elders (v. 1).
  • He instructs those elders to “feed” or “shepherd” the flock of God (v. 2). Again, that word is the verb form of the noun that, in the English language, is pastor.
  • Further, these elders/pastors are to “exercise oversight” (v. 2) or assume the duties of bishops.

In almost forty years of preaching, I have never been the pastor anywhere. I have served as the preacher for three different congregations. I have, for a number of years, been a pastor/elder/bishop for one congregation. 

Please allow me to add one more consideration to this discussion. In the New Testament, there are specific requirements which must be met in order for a man to serve as an elder/bishop/pastor. 

Are you familiar with them? You may find them in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. 

I will not take the time to discuss each one of them. I will only mention two and ask for you to consider them. Both of these have to do with what might be called “family requirements.” The Holy Spirit informs us that an elder/shepherd/pastor must be the husband of one wife and have believing children (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). 

The man who was chosen by the Holy Spirit to pen those words (Paul) was not married and had no children, but he was arguably the best preacher (other than our Lord) the world has ever known. Because of the requirements he wrote down himself, he was never – and could never be – a pastor.

A local congregation may (and many times does) have only one preacher. If that congregation is organized the way the God wants it to be organized, it cannot have only one pastor.

When people ask me if I am the pastor for the Central church of Christ in Paducah, they may not understand what they are asking. They also may not understand my answer when I say, “I am one of them.”


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: Adam Jones on Creative Commons

Episode 91: When Church is the Hardest Places to Go, and Combining Education and Fun on Family Outings [Podcast]

(Player not displaying or working? Click here.)

On this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah share a short article about going to worship when it is the hardest thing to do, and then spend time talking about the importance of families taking educational outings together.

 

Resource

When Church is the Hardest Place to Go” (My Heart, His Words)

 

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