A Great Faith Quote for Your Weekend

Ever worry about the future? Ever wonder what tomorrow will hold?

Then take this simple quotation to heart. May it bless you today…and beyond.

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When Your Children Ask about Baptism

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The conversations have started, but they are still very sporadic. With a 10-year-old and a soon-to-be 9-year-old, we are not surprised that our children have started asking questions from time-to-time about baptism.

If you raise your children going to church and Bible classes, the questions are going to start, and likely, they are going to start quite early in life. After all, they hear preachers extend the invitation constantly. Hopefully, they have been present to see people put Christ on in baptism. And probably, they have studied God’s plan of salvation in Bible school, at least a time or two. Their classrooms may even have a chart that is always there, constantly showing them the plan of salvation.

So, it is in their mind, and that’s a good thing!

How are parents to handle these conversations? While this is not meant to be a perfect list, I want to share some principles that we are trying to adhere to as our children ask about baptism. We certainly are not exact in this, but we are trying.

  1. Treat Every Question Respectfully and Seriously. Even if your child asks what you might consider to be a silly question, they are still talking about the most important decision that could ever be made. Treat it with respect, and show them Scripture to point out either their truth or the error of what they are saying.
  2. Let Your Children Bring It Up. Too many parents of smaller children are so concerned with “getting their kids baptized” that they force the conversation. Your child, most likely, will bring it up when it is on his/her mind. Let the conversations happen at their pace. But always–and I mean, always–be willing to talk about it when it is brought up!
  3. Always Appeal to Scripture. This should go without saying, but if anyone–including your kid–is considering becoming a child of God we dare not take them anywhere but to the standard of God’s Word. These do not have to be hour-long explanations of passages, but a look at Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:1-4; and other verses needs to always stand as the basis of our conversation.
  4. Talk Clearly about Sin. One of the most difficult things for many parents to do is to talk about the actual, Biblical purpose of baptism: to liberate us from our sins. While children make mistakes and even do things that are “wrong” at times, a person must have a clear understanding of the need for forgiveness of sins before he/she is ready to be baptized.
  5. Ask about Repentance and the “Need” for Baptism. Especially when I was a youth minister, I would often have a very young person ask to be baptized. I never tried to push them away, but I always tried to talk about if they needed to “repent.” If they said, “No,” I knew they weren’t ready. Also, ask about when they think they might want to be baptized. If they say, “Maybe next week,” or “in a few days,” they simply aren’t prepared. When one knows his/her need for salvation and to turn from sin, only then are they ready–but they are ready right then!

The final tip I will give is one that I have borrowed many times from the excellent little book Am I Ready to be Baptized? by Kyle Butt and John Farber. When a child is seriously considering being baptized, have that child write down why he or she is preparing to be baptized, and write date the paper (or notecard). Remember, let the child write this in his/her own words. Once they have written this down, put the paper or card away.

One of these days, that child will likely question his/her baptism. Did I know enough? Was I sure what I was doing?

When those question arise, simply pull out that paper or card and read. The language may be child-like, but it will let him/her know if they were ready. Typically, if a child is willing to write it down, they are ready, because, in a child-like fashion, they can express just what they needed to do, and it lines up perfectly with the simple plan that God has in place to save people.

It is hard to think of anything that is holier as a parent that the honor and privilege of talking to your children about becoming a brother or a sister in Christ. Treat it as the important thing that young person will ever talk about, because it is!

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Daddies and Daughters

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Recently we have been in the season of the dad/daughter dinner date. I have seen literally hundreds of Facebook posts of pictures with fathers and daughters going to special venues and celebrating their relationship. That our culture is embracing the reality that we need to invest special time and effort into our children is a positive thing. With this being said, I have some specific things I would like to say to all dads out there when it comes to their daughters.

  1. One night on the town is not enough. Please don’t think that just because you had a date night and dressed up and made a special evening out of it that this makes you exempt from the daily responsibilities of being there for your daughter. Sometimes we think that one big gift, or money, or a special event is going to be adequate to fulfill the needs of our children. We argue that work hours are providing hours when the reality is that home hours provide what is most important. Kids need their parents in their lives every single day. The average father only spends a few minutes  per week with each child. This has to change.
  2. Don’t just dress them up, dress them modestly. As a father who has a little girl, there is one thing I have not been able to wrap my head around. Where are the fathers of these young girls and teenagers who are going around without enough clothes or inappropriate, provocative attire? Fathers should know that men are visual creatures and are tempted by what they see. The last thing in this world I want is for my daughter to be inviting men to lust by the way she dresses. Some may say, well moms have the biggest part in clothing styles and outfits. Nonsense! You are the head of the household, fathers! Step up and be a man. If you think a behavior in your family is unrighteous, you have both the power and the responsibility to shut that behavior or activity down.
  3. Show your daughters how a lady should be treated. Obviously, the best way to do this is to treat their mom that way. Never ever yell at her mother! Never use foul language or make derogatory statements about her mother! Never show the slightest hint of physical bullying or threatening behavior towards her mother. Your wife needs to be adored, respected, and lifted up on a pedestal. She needs to be cared for, protected, and handled delicately and with steadfast love. Daughters are going to look for husbands that are like their daddies. Be the husband to your wife that you want the husband to your daughter to be.
  4. Shelter your daughters from evil. You really have a very short time to do this. They are being exposed to evil from every corner. Mass media and social networks are after your daughter. The world is trying to paint a different picture of what a woman is than the one God has painted. Be involved and even be nosey. For her sake don’t be a fool and make assumptions that nothing bad is going to happen to her. Boys and men will try to get to her as she ages. Girls and women who are wicked will try to get her to do the things they do. Fathers, intensely shelter your daughters and don’t be afraid of being labeled as an over-protective parent. My parents were certainly over-protective compared to other parents and I was not allowed to do what all the other kids were doing. I have only one word in my reply to their constant hovering – “Thanks!”
  5. Be their best friend. Do things with them. Listen to them. Adore them. Celebrate them. Rejoice because of them. And yes, let them have you wrapped around their finger for a while. They are leaving! Cherish this NOW! You want their husband to one day be their best friend when you are gone. That will be his role and she should expect this from the man she marries. She won’t let him be her best friend if you are not.

I conclude this article with a few tears. I have a little girl and she is absolutely the apple of my eye. I thank God for her. I never thought being a parent could be like ths:

“May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.” – Psalm 144:12

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A Trophy

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Have you heard the new definition of the word “trophy?” I had not until I attended a meeting for an advisory council on which I serve for one of our local high schools. During the meeting, the discussion turned to a program designed to discourage sexual activity among the students.

During that discussion, I learned about something that takes place on a regular basis among high school students today. A girl is asked by a friend if she is planning to give her boyfriend (or any other boy, for that matter) a trophy

I’m old enough (and out of touch enough) to remember when a trophy was something a high school student received for excellence in the classroom, in sports, on the speech team, the band, etc. Usually, those trophies were displayed proudly for a while and then packed away in some obscure place.

It shocked me to learn that, to today’s high school students, there is another meaning for the word “trophy.” When used in the sense mentioned above, the trophy being referred to is a baby!

I received a real wake-up call at that meeting. I knew that a lot of things had changed since my high school days. I found out that day how much some things have changed.

I also was reminded that it is way past time for God’s people to wake up to what is going on in our society and to do all that we can to positively influence it. Our Lord called his followers the “…salt of the earth…” (Matt. 5:13). 

Usually, when we think of that verse, we are reminded of our need to be distinctive. While that is, indeed, true, I believe it is time to raise another question. What good does it do if God’s people are, in fact, distinctive but never “get out of the salt shaker?” What happens if we sit in the comfort of our homes and church buildings and never try to make an impact on society?

I think I learned at least part of the answer to that during the advisory council meeting. The Bible teaches that a precious child should be brought into this world by two people who have already determined to “… bring [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4, ESV). Instead, we have now reached the place in our society where immortal souls begin their earthly journey as a trophy!

It has been a few months now since I attended that meeting, but the passing of time has not kept me from regularly asking myself an old question I’m sure you’ve heard before:

“What on earth am I doing for heaven’s sake?”

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Episode 51: How OpenDNS Can Help Protect Your Family or Your Church Online (guest Chad Landman) [Podcast]

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On last week’s episode of the podcast, we began a two-part series on managing media in the home. Today, as a follow-up, we are joined by Chad Landman. Chad shares how OpenDNS can help families manage the internet in their home, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime. Also, anyone of any technical level can set this up.

LOFpodcast

Resources

OpenDNS [homepage]

use.opendns.com [This page walks you through setting up OpenDNS on virtually any device in a simple, straightforward manner.]

Home Security [The three “tiers” Chad and Adam discuss on the site. Remember, tiers 1 and 2 are absolutely free.]

Active Digital Parenting [Chad’s page devoted to his seminar, and free resources]

Ministry Bits [Chad’s tech podcast]

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Take Heart

Take Heart

Do you ever have the feeling like you are being hindered in every good thing you’re trying to do? It can be so frustrating to be trying to do your best, and still feel like you are lagging behind in your spiritual life. Since this world is ruled by the devil, he can and will use anything in this world to hinder our walk with God, and he hurls so many obstacles along our path in walking with God. 

It shouldn’t surprise us when we face these obstacles. Every day in this world we will have them. Every day we will try to overcome them, and I hate to bear the bad news, but we cannot overcome them. We can try every gimmick, every Pinterest idea, every great book, and we will not overcome them.

There is Good News!

There is good news, though. In John 16:33, Jesus is talking to His apostles. He is preparing them for His death. After preparing them for what will happen to them in this world He tells them, “I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus has overcome the world. If we depend on Him, and His teachings, we can overcome our troubles in the world.

Two Common Obstacles

What are some obstacles in your world? What are those things that hinder your spiritual life? How can you let Jesus help you overcome those things?

Are you hindered by a hectic schedule that leaves no time for Bible study? Remember Jesus’ words to Martha. When Martha was frustrated because Mary was too busy listening to Jesus, He reminded her that Mary had chosen the better part. We, too, can overcome that hectic schedule and choose the better part in our life.

Are you hindered by a fear of disease or death? We cannot forget that Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” God never wanted sickness and death to be a part of our lives. Remember it was the devil who lied to Eve and said, “You shall not surely die.” But, she did die when she sinned. Eve didn’t just die spiritually; she began to die physically as well.

The Power of Jesus

You see, when Jesus died and rose again, He not only conquered our spiritual death by sin, He conquered our physical death by sin as well. Jesus’ sacrifice ensures that our physical death is not our end. As a Christian, we must keep this in our mind when we contemplate sickness and dying.

It’s true. There will be many things that hinder us on our journey through this world. These are just two, but there are many, many more.

But, if we will lean on Jesus and His words we will overcome, so take heart.

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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

7 Be-Attitudes of Church Bulletins

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I will admit at the outset: I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with church bulletins. I love them when they truly serve a purpose and are done well. I hate them when it is obvious that a congregation has a church bulletin because…well…they’ve always had a church bulletin (and it shows).

I will also make this disclaimer: I do not claim to always be part of producing a perfect bulletin. I do try to help make our “Family Newsletter” at 9th Avenue the best it can be, but I see things virtually every week that can be improved.

7 Suggestions

It is in that spirit that I offer this list. These are some be-attitudes of church bulletins. In other words, this is the “Do” list, and I pray it encourages each congregation that has a bulletin to produce the best document they can.

  1. Be Purposeful. What is the purpose of your church’s bulletin? Is it strictly in-house information? Is it evangelistic? Is it meant to take the place of spoken announcements? Is it for worship, or meant to be read during the week, previewing Sunday? Too many congregations try to do a mishmash of things with their newsletter. In doing so, we usually accomplish very little.
  2. Be Encouraging. I know there was a time for “writing people up” in the church’s bulletin. I firmly believe those days are (long) gone as an effective use of space. The bulletin needs to be filled with things that put wind in the sails of people who are looking for something positive in this world. Surely, you can find something good and positive to print; after all, we are sharing the gospel–the good news!
  3. Be Cutting. I don’t mean that we should be cutting people down. Instead, I mean that, when we print, less is more. If your bulletin is filled from top-to-bottom and left-to-right with tiny print, the odds I am going to read it are basically zero. Give people some white space, so their eyes can rest for a moment. I know there is a lot going on, but should the Lord tarry, you’ve got next week to print something, too! You don’t have to fill every week’s bulletin with thousands of words. (Of course, one way to keep much of the same material and still add white space is to increase the size of the paper.)
  4. Be Editorializing. I am not a perfect editor. I try to find obvious mistakes and correct them, but mistakes still get through (probably every week). Still, it is obvious when a bulletin has just been thrown together and there has been no editing whatsoever. Whoever edits the bulletin (and if it can be more than one person, that’s always a plus) should at least give some regard to the grammar and spelling. Remember, if guests pick up the bulletin, the shoddiness or the excellence speaks volumes about how we are.
  5. Be Graphic. No, I don’t mean we should put shocking material in our newsletters. What I mean is that the word “bulletin” does not have to mean “text-only.” A well-done graphic can stand out very well in the newsletter. We often use our back page to put graphics for upcoming events or sermon series, but any part of the bulletin can be done in a well-done graphic design.
  6. Be Design-Conscious. I do not have a design degree, and I am certainly not an expert, but we must move off the days of putting a piece of clip-art on the front page and then six or seven different fonts on the middle pages of our “news and notes” in the bulletin. Having some sense of design is not difficult any longer, and the most common programs used to create bulletins (Word, Publisher, and Pages) actually make it quite easy. Also, a good resource (though a bit dated) to have on your shelf is The Non-Designer’s Design Book. I read this book several years ago, and it really made me think about some very simple techniques to make bulletins, sign-up sheets, and other materials as visually appealing as possible with very little skill in that area.
  7. Be Willing to Change. I know, I know. We don’t like change. I do not think a bulletin should change every week or month, but a facelift every so often can do a lot of good. Most medium-to-large congregations have someone who can design a nice template to use. If you don’t have someone, it may fall on you, but even just changing the size, font, or header to be more appealing can add interest.

Should we even have church bulletins any longer? That’s a discussion for a different time. But if a congregation decides to have them, I pray that these seven suggestions help us all use this medium to the glory of God and the growth of His people.

Examples of Great Bulletins

I thought I would end by giving some examples of great bulletins. Remember, these are listed here for their visual appeal and ease of use.

House to House, Heart to Heart [PDF; Jacksonville, Alabama, church of Christ] This is not a “bulletin,” per se, but is a fantastic example of great design for a similar purpose. Graphically appealing and very informative.

The Beacon [PDF; Beltline church of Christ; Decatur, AL] I really like the graphic appeal of the front of their newsletter. It is meant to be used more as a worship bulletin.

Hillsboro Herald [PDF; Hillsboro church of Christ; Nashville, TN] While this newsletter uses a lot of words, notice how they keep the fonts clean and use several colors to keep it interesting. Also, note their front page, which emphasizes their current theme.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: Nigel Lamb on Creative Commons

Prisoners are Listening

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When Paul and Silas were arrested and unmercifully beaten with rods for preaching the gospel, they were found doing something that was by no means typical. Having their hands and feet fastened in stocks in the inner prison of Philippi, and still suffering from the terrible torture they had received, the Bible says, “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25).

Have you ever wondered about the content of their prayers? Were they prayers of thanksgiving that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41)? Were they prayers for boldness to continue to preach the word of God in spite of persecution (Acts 4:29)? Were the prayers that those who were in prison with them, including all the workers in the jail, might hear the gospel and receive it during their stay (Phil. 1:12-13)? Were they prayers for deliverance from imprisonment (Acts 12:5)?

They Were Singing, but Others were Listening

Have you ever wondered what they must have been singing? Were they songs of praise, or joy, or suffering, or freedom, or help? Whatever they were praying and singing, it made an impact. A great earthquake rocked the jail and opened all the cells. The jailer and his family were converted to Christianity the same day, and Paul and Silas walked away free men. But one other statement in this passage also seems to be very significant. At the end of verse 25 the text includes this addition to the songs and prayers of these missionaries: “…and the prisoners were listening to them.”

The prisoners were listening. They may have had no choice to listen and were, therefore, a “captive audience.” They may have been listening because they were amazed that Paul and Silas could have such an incredible attitude concerning the severity of the beatings and their incarceration. They may have been listening because they were not used to hearing prayers and songs – perhaps none of them customarily practiced such things. But in any event, they were listening. It makes one wonder what the eventual results may have been for some of the fellow prisoners of Silas and Paul.

This Detail is for Us

Why would the Holy Spirit include this tidbit of information in the historical account of the Acts of the Apostles? There is no follow-up information that leads the reader to believe that anything further ever developed in the hearts and minds of these prisoners of Philippi. It occurs to me that maybe this statement was written for us.

You see, we live in a world full of prisoners. Multitudes of people are imprisoned by sin that will eventually lead to the loss of their eternal souls. They walk and talk on earth but are shackled by its temporary limitations. They have been taken captive by the devil as live prisoners to do his will, and they need to hear the gospel and obey it to escape Satan’s deceptive snare (2 Tim. 2:25-26).

We just happen to be in the presence of spiritual prisoners every day. We may not consider that they watch and listen, but they most certainly do. When we go into the workplace with our fellow employees, prisoners are listening. When we go to school and sit down at our desks with fellow classmates, prisoners are listening. When we are in the stands at a ballgame, when we are at the store, when we are anywhere in public, prisoners are listening.

I wonder if they hear our prayers? I wonder if they feel our songs? I wonder if they know that though we are temporarily bound with them in the flesh and in this present world, that within we have been set free?

“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

– Matthew 25:36

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Some Forgettable Names

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Have you ever wondered why the Bible contains so many lists of names? Admittedly, all of those “begats” get a little tedious at times; especially when it is difficult to determine exactly what all of those names have to do with the lineage of our Lord, the history of Israel, or some other subject we may find to be fascinating or important.

Who Are These Guys?

While one reads Genesis 36, a list like this is found. In verses 31 through 39 of that chapter, there is a list of eight different kings of Edom. If you want extra credit on some Bible exam, here are their names: Bela, Jobab, Husham, Hadad, Samlah, Shaul, Ball-hanan, and Hadar.

While I don’t expect that most of us will remember those names very long, I do hope that all of us will remember an important lesson contained in these verses. Each time there is a change in rulers, we read that “________ died, and ________ reigned in his place.”

It is likely that, as each of these men served as a king, he could have thought that he was really making a name for himself. Surely, his name and his accomplishments would be remembered for as long as the world stood. Instead, their names are forgotten except by those may have very, very good memories of Bible facts, names, and places. 

Life is Like a Mist

What the brief biblical record of their reigns can remind us of is the brevity of life. Long before James reminded us that our life is “…a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:17), the brief record of these kings suggests very strongly to us that there are things much more important that titles, power, prestige, and notoriety.

Someday (maybe sooner than we think) somebody else will be doing the job we are now doing; somebody else will be occupying the house in which we now live. In short, somebody else will “in our place.”

You may not know the name Amy Carmichael any better than you know the names of those kings of Edom. Even if you don’t know her name, you might have read or heard the following words that are attributed to her:

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,

only what’s done for God will last.

That’s worth remembering!

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Episode 50: Myths on Managing Media in the Home [Podcast]

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Being a parent is difficult, and the ever-connected worlds of mass and social media make it even more difficult. On today’s podcast, Adam shares some myths about managing media in the home when there are kids around.

The myths are taken from Bob Waliszewski’s book Plugged-In Parenting.

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