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2017 is upon us. Many of us will set various resolutions, but are we thinking about our spiritual growth as we make those resolutions?
On this very special episode of the podcast, the entire A Legacy of Faith family (Jim & Donna Faughn, Adam & Leah Faughn, and Jeremiah & Amber Tatum) sit around the microphone. Each of them shares one spiritual improvement they are hoping to make in 2017, and that we pray encourages you to think about your spiritual growth in the coming year, too.
Each suggestion is listed below.
Amber Tatum: Be more engaged in what I do, not just do things “because I have to.”
Donna Faughn: To be more supportive of Jim’s role as an elder, and to be more hospitable.
Jeremiah Tatum: As a preacher, to spend more devoted time in study for sermon preparation.
Jim Faughn: To show that, now that I am retired from preaching, as an elder I need to shepherd, and as a Christian who is growing older, I still have a great deal to offer the local congregation.
Leah Faughn: To make certain that, though I am a busy mom, daily Bible study is a top priority.
Adam Faughn: I want to show the children at church that I love them and they are valuable.
To subscribe to A Legacy of Faith by email for free click here.
Each year, we try to take a little peek back at the previous 12 months. Each time we do that, we are grateful.
We are so thankful that anyone actually comes to our site or subscribes to our email list, but when we look back on the previous year, we see that thousands have read our posts and/or listened to our podcast. Trust us, we are humbled!
We try to set goals for our site each year, and 2016 was no exception. We met one of the goals, and got very close on the other two.
We set a goal of crossing 1500 subscribers to our site through email. As of when this post is being written, we are well over that goal, at 1581.
We set a goal of having 1750 Facebook “likes” for our site. We did not reach that goal, but are very close, with 1647.
Finally, our goal was to average 600 downloads per podcast (within the first month of release). The average is slightly over 400 per episode, which is still very encouraging.
The following list shares the 10 most viewed posts since January 1, 2016. Keep in mind that these articles were not necessarily written this year, but they have garnered the most views this year. (Original publication date in parenthesis)
10. “On What to Wear in Worship” (October 12, 2016)
9. “What about Sunday and Wednesday Nights?” (January 5, 2016)
8. “An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ” (December 4, 2014)
7. “You Think You’re the Only Ones Going to Heaven?” (January 19, 2016)
6. “How to Vote as a Christian in the Upcoming Presidential Election” (October 11, 2016)
5. “About Video Games in Worship” (May 18, 2016)
4. “Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” (July 5, 2013)
3. “7 Reasons Why We’ll be in Worship on Christmas Day” (December 14, 2016)
2. “5 Things Elders Need to Hear Regularly” (August 10, 2016)
With all that in mind, we begin to think about the upcoming year. As we said earlier, we want to set some goals. These are not done for our own pride or just for the sake of “numbers.” Instead, we set these goals to motivate ourselves to try to get this material before the eyes of as many people as we can.
So here are three goals for the upcoming year, but we hope to reach and exceed them all.
Email Subscribers. This is, easily, the most important goal, because it helps us track how many people are desiring the content we produce. By the end of 2017, we hope this list has grown to over 1800 subscribers. If you’ve never joined the list (which is totally free), you can do that here.
Facebook “Likes.” The vast majority of the traffic to our site comes from Facebook, so it is important for us to grow this page. We would like for it to at least equal our email list, so we want to have over 2000 likes by the end of the year. If you’ve never liked our page, here it is.
Produce Podcasts All Year. Our podcast has been hit-or-miss in the past, but we have really started to stay on track in the last few months. We produce a program every two weeks, and that is our goal: to never miss a program–producing one every two weeks–throughout all of 2017. (Though we may have a change in format coming. That’s still in the discussion phase. Stay tuned!) If you’re not familiar with our podcast, or would like to see what we have produced so far, here is a link to our archives.
This site exists because of you. You come here. You share articles. You interact with us on Facebook. You download the podcast. We are grateful and humbled by it all.
So, as we start heading toward 2017, we take this opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you!”
With two kids in the house, the excitement in the air can almost be felt. We are just days away from Christmas, and we have done all sorts of things to build the excitement to this day.
But for a lot of people, Christmas comes and Christmas goes and there’s not much worth remembering. Being too focused on the presents under the tree, we put our heart in things and not in the relationships that can be built and cherished on a wonderful day like Christmas.
With that in mind, here are three things you can do this (and every) Christmas to make it one that is not soon forgotten.
Spend Time in Worship. That is easy this year, as Christmas is on Sunday! But, even if it is a year when Christmas is not on Sunday, what better thing could you and your loved ones do than spend a few minutes in devotion to the Lord. It doesn’t even have to be because of that whole “reason for the season” thing. It is simply taking time on a day off to spend focused time in praise to God.
Serve Someone Else. Even on Christmas, there are opportunities to serve others. Some will volunteer at a soup kitchen or other similar place. Others will visit a nursing home. For several years, our family used to sing Christmas carols at an assisted living home. It could be something as simple as taking a plate of leftovers to a neighbor’s house. Whatever it is, it will fill their heart with delight, and help cement the joy of this great day in your own heart.
Slow Down! How many Christmases come and go and we don’t even know where they went due to the flurry of activity and travel? Take some time to just sit with some hot chocolate and visit. Rest awhile. Enjoy each other’s company. Take a few extra minutes around the dinner table to share a story. Slow down!
I know that none of these is profound, but they are ways we can all make Christmas special.
Oh, and if you really pay attention, these are ways we can make every day–holiday or not–special! So, why wait for Christmas?
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
Brother James Burton Coffman was–among other things–a preacher for local congregations, an educator, a lecturer, and an author. Many have in their libraries his commentaries on both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Recently, while doing some work on a sermon, I came across an interesting statement in brother Coffman’s commentary on Matthew. In reality, it was not directly related to the particular lesson on which what I was working. At the same time, it is directly related to everything I need to be as a Christian.
The passage under consideration was this portion of what has come to be known as The Sermon on the Mount:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt. 5:21-22, ESV)
Brother Coffman penned the following words (and more) about that passage:
When it is considered that a derogatory or uncomplimentary remark about a Christian brother is subject to punishment in the ‘hell of fire,’ and when it is considered that much of the journalism so widely received by ‘churches of Christ’ is filled with uncomplimentary, and even false and vicious statements about brethren, the true followers of Christ must stand in awe of the penalties which divine justice shall certainly execute against evil doers. O God, be merciful to thy people!
It seems to me that the words spoken by our Lord about two thousand years ago and the comments written by brother Coffman in 1968 need to be considered today. The words of Jesus and a proper understanding of those words are both timeless and timely.
A person does not have to be mean in order to be sound. He/she should not try to build up by tearing down. Blowing your candle out does not make mine shine any brighter.
May those of us who attempt to preach and teach God’s Word, as well as all who call ourselves Christians, keep the following two principles in our minds and do our best to exemplify them:
A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I (Jesus) have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35, ESV).
…speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15, ESV).
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Books, books, books! We love books! As we get near the end of 2016, Adam takes this week’s podcast to share with you his 10 favorite books that he has read this year. Find the list below if you are interested in ordering any of these volumes for your reading in the coming year.
To see every book I have read (so far) in 2016, click here.
We had two honorable mentions, as we did not include Jim Faughn’s books (for obvious reasons of bias toward them!). But you will want to check out God Give Us Christian Homes and Why Did My Savior Come to Earth? for your own study.
10. God’s Game Plan by Aubrey Johnson
9. Be the Dad She Needs You to Be by Dr. Kevin Leman
8. He Wins, She Wins by Willard Harley
7. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
6. Faith: Responding to Jesus (2015 Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies lectureship)
5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
4. I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian by Thom. S. Rainer
3. The Domino Effect by Tim Lewis
2. How Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews
1. The Sender: A Story about When Right Words Make All the Difference by Kevin Elko and Bill Beausay
To subscribe to A Legacy of Faith by email for free click here.
It happens every few years. Christmas day falls on a Sunday.
Amazingly (and tragically) there are churches that cancel all services on that day or move services to a weeknight. Other congregations decide to only have one worship service or to move the time of services, but they are still meeting on the Lord’s Day to worship the Lord.
Still, a lot of families decide that “since it’s Christmas” they do not have to attend services on that day. After all, it’s a day for family and traditions and it only comes once each year. So, many people will stay at home while the church meets.
However, barring illness or some other unforeseen event, our little family will be in worship on Sunday, December 25. And here are 7 reasons why.
1. Worship is Commanded by the Almighty. Our Lord does not make worship something to be chosen by His followers. Hebrews 10:25 makes it clear that we are not to willfully forsake being together for worship. This is not a suggestion, and it does not have caveats for special holidays.
2. God is More Important than any Holiday. If I am going to say that “God is first in my life,” then there is no holiday that can take His place. There is no holiday that should be able to keep me away from worshiping my Lord.
3. Our Family Will be Together. I am amazed at how many people stay home from worship on Christmas so their family will be together. Our little family will still be together, just dressed up and in a church pew; not in pajamas in front of a fireplace.
4. Our Children Need to Learn Priorities. “Well, since it’s Christmas, we’ll stay home.” In the mind of children, that translates to, “What you want to do is more important than the commands of God.” He is first, and this is a glorious opportunity to teach that.
5. I Want to Encourage Every Christian Who Attends. How discouraging would it be to go to worship and see that a large percentage of your Christian family did not think enough of you to come and encourage you? We are uplifted and encouraged when we attend worship together, and I want to encourage those who make the effort.
6. We are to Obey Our Elders. Elders have no right to cancel Lord’s Day worship altogether, or to move it to another day of the week (that’s another article for another time). Many are making the decision to only have one service or to move the time to best accommodate family traditions. They are not making an ungodly decision, so I am commanded to obey them and to let them rule with joy (Hebrews 13:7; 13:17).
7. There’s Nowhere Else I Want My Family to Be Every Sunday! Whatever date is on the calendar, I want my little family loading in our car and going together to worship God. There are times when one or more of us has been sick and we have not gotten to worship together. I can’t stand it! Each and every Lord’s Day, I want my family to know the joy and the high privilege it is to join hands and hearts together as we worship.
Christmas is special. Each year, we enjoy all kinds of movies, snacks, get-togethers, and gifts. Having kids makes it even more special, as they get so excited for the holiday. The Grinch is not welcome at our house!
That said, no holiday–Christmas included–can ever top the joy and excitement that should fill our soul as we are allowed into the very presence of God to express our adoration and praise to Him. Every Lord’s Day, we should do that with all our enthusiasm…including December 25.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn