5 Things Elders Need to Hear Regularly

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If it were not tragic, it would be funny. That is this: often, the only thing elders ever hear from the congregation is complaining.

If things are going well, we just assume the elders know we appreciate it. But let things start going downhill–even just a little bit–and we have no problem talking to our shepherds.

Part of being in a position of leadership is understanding that you will hear complaints at times. It comes with the territory. But it really is tragic that too many elders only hear complaints, though they are striving to help people grow closer to the Lord and reach heaven.

Elders are not perfect men, but those who are in this position of leadership are worthy of our consideration and kindness. Additionally, they need to be built up through our words on a regular basis.

To that end, here are 5 things that elders need to hear from each member on a regular basis.

  1. I Pray for You. Carrying the weight of watching over the souls of a congregation is a very heavy task, indeed. Elders need to know that members are regularly bringing their names and concerns before the throne of God.
  2. I Trust You. Our society always leans toward distrust of anyone in any position of leadership. Yes, that bleeds over into the church. Elders need to hear that the members trust their wise judgment. Even if the elders make mistakes, their intent is not to be harmful or disruptive. They need to know that you know that!
  3. I Pray for Your Wife. One of the hardest roles in the church is that of being the wife of an elder. When something is heavy upon the heart of her husband but, due to confidence, he cannot share that with her, it weighs on her heart and mind, as well. She needs your prayers, too, and elders need to know that the members do not treat their wives as some group of “others,” but as ladies who need our prayers.
  4. I Think Our Future is Bright. Elders are constantly hearing from people about how things “used to be.” “Back when we were…” is a very common beginning to many conversations with elders. While that certainly has its place, elders need to know that you think the congregation has a bright and God-glorifying future. While they do not seek nor want the credit, it helps put wind in their sails to know that their vision of what–with God’s help–could be is being shared.
  5. Thank You. Those two words mean the world to anyone, but especially to those in positions of leadership. Long hours, heart-wrenching prayers, and sleepless nights are the parts of the work that most people do not see. All we see is the fruit of all those things. For those things we should be grateful, and that gratitude needs to be regularly expressed.

Elders hold an office that simply is unequaled in its importance. These pastors love souls, and want the church to grow in number, spirit, and unity. They understand the depth and breadth of their position, and they also know the pressures that come with it.

Just a few words, regularly and honestly spoken by the members, will help these men lighten their load and bring more joy to their lives.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Persistence

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The former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge once said,

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Persistence is defined as, “the quality of continuing steadfastly in spite of obstacles.” Synonyms for persistence include endurance, perseverance, and adherence. In our walk with God, Satan is going to try to do everything he can to stop us. We will also, in our weaknesses, put some of our own problems in the way. Persistence is the necessary tool we need to overcome the obstacles of Satan and self.

The Old Testament paints a great picture of what life is really like. The Jew’s Egyptian bondage can be compared to the slavery of sin. Moses serves as a type of Christ, a savior and deliverer appointed by God. The Red Sea is a foreshadowing of the salvation experience later realized in the new covenant. And the wilderness is just life – the reality of our dependence on God! Even though we have been set free in Jesus, we still have a need to mature and choose God every day.

The Hebrew writer, therefore, wrote to the church, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:12-14).

We may think it would sure be nice if we had no worries once we became Christians. But a relationship with Christ is not a guarantee that worldly struggles will cease. Instead, being a Christian means that we now have what it takes to overcome the world through faith. We have the cleansing blood of Christ to take away our sins. We have the motivation of heaven to endure hardship. We have the good news which God has commanded us to share with others in order to make a difference along the way.

There may not be a more important word for the Christian than “persistence.” In the end, it will be the difference between eternal life and eternal condemnation.

“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” ~ Hebrews 10:36


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Keep Checking

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I remember visiting a man a number of years ago who was in the middle of a project at his house. He made his living laying bricks and various kinds of stones on a variety of projects. 

This time he was laying some stones of various sizes on the front of his own house. While I’m sure he took care to make all of his work look good, I’m equally sure he wanted this project at his own house to look very good. I’m also confident that he intended for it to last a long time.

I have no idea how stones of varying shapes and sizes can be laid in such a way to not only look good, but to remain in place. I did learn one trick of the trade by watching him and asking a question.

I noticed that my friend and brother would use a ruler to measure the distance from the stone he was laying to the wall of the house. It didn’t take but a second to do, but it seemed to be an important part of the process. 

I’m reasonably sure that he had measured the distance from the wall to the first stone he had laid. Why wasn’t that one measurement enough? Why did he keep checking the measurement?

I think that even I know the answer to that, even though I’ve never been involved in that process one time in my life. I believe that my friend knew that, even with his experience, it was possible to be off a little here and there if he relied only on his judgment. I believe that he also knew that what might seem to be small discrepancies could cause large problems with the entire job. It would be possible for the entire project to be ruined if he did not keep checking his measurements.

Please read carefully the following passages:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor. 13:5)

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:23-15)

So, how are you doing as you make preparation for your eternal home? When is the last time you checked?


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Our Podcast Returns Next Friday: Here’s Why You Should Care

After a short break for the summer, our podcast from A Legacy of Faith will return next Friday.

LOFpodcast

First of all, let me define the terms. In case you don’t know, a podcast is like a radio program, but is broadcast online, and can be downloaded or even delivered directly to a tablet or smartphone. So, in addition to our usual “text” articles that we share on A Legacy of Faith, we have an “audio” format, too.

The program features Adam as the host of each episode. In some episodes, he is alone, but most of the time, there is a guest with him. That’s why you should care: the list of guests we have lined up for the fall is impressive!

This summer, we have worked hard to set up a list of programs for the fall, and some have even already been recorded. Guests that you will hear from this fall include Westley Hazel, Brad McNutt, and Jeff Archey. In addition, Leah will join Adam on a couple of programs (including next week’s), and there is even a special “roundtable” discussion with Jim, Donna, Adam, Leah, Mary Carol, and Turner!

If you are new to our site, or just have not understood what a podcast is before, take a few moments and visit our archives. This page shares more information about the podcast, and also contains links to all 59 previous episodes.

We are thrilled to be back with you starting next week, and the podcast will continue through the end of the year. We will release a new episode every other week until the end of December. Make sure you subscribe if you use iTunes (or another podcast app on your phone or tablet), or come back every other Friday to listen on our site. Either way, we look forward to sharing A Legacy of Faith: The Podcast with you again, starting next Friday.

Training. Equipping. Arming. Aiming.

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Training. Equipping. Arming. Aiming.

These are words that come to my mind as I think about my children – both my own 3 precious children and those whose time and moldable minds are entrusted to me at different times during the week. In particular, this concept came to mind this week after our Sunday afternoon Bible Bowl practice.

This year, the organizers of the annual Bible Bowl held in Cookeville chose the Old Testament book of Leviticus for us to study. They limited the chapters we are studying to make it age appropriate for even our youngest “bowlers” but there is still a lot of meat (pun intended) in this book. Some of you may be wondering how I link a book full of OT law and directives to equipping our modern-day children.

In my group, made up of 6th- to 8th-grade girls, we are trying to study Leviticus in the framework of God’s whole plan. We are putting it back into the context of the purpose of the old law and the concepts we can see repeated throughout the Bible, even in application to us as New Testament Christians.

Somehow this Sunday, our attempt to “rightly divide the word” led us all the way back to Genesis and a discussion of world history. I wanted the girls to see that they don’t have to learn world history at school and think it is separate from what God gave us in the Bible. Genesis 4 is where you link to the Bronze Age and the invention of musical instruments. They need to see the Bible as factual and relevant to the things they learn in school. They need to be equipped to respectfully discuss with teachers a Biblical worldview. Believe it or not, there are some Christian teachers out there hoping their students will mention these things because once a student brings it up, the teacher can discuss it!

I was so thankful Sunday when one of my young ladies said something to the effect of “Hey, I read about that in that magazine from the church lobby!” You see, our elders provide equipment for our young people and her parents made sure she was using that equipment. My girls (and I) may miss the questions at Bible Bowl about which body part is to be washed before burned, but I hope we will always remember concepts like reverence for God, preparing to worship, God’s plan to save mankind, and how He has always given us exactly what we need.

For this week, I encourage you (and me) to spend some time thinking about the following verses and how we can train, equip, arm, and aim our children toward heaven:

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Ephesians 4:12 “…equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Psalm 127:4 “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.”


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The Election and Evangelism

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Yes, I’m getting ready to write about the election. No, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. Instead, I’m going to try to share a perspective that I believe every Christian needs to have in mind in every election cycle.

I would guess that at least half of my Facebook friends are members of the Lord’s Church. While I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, I do find myself scrolling through my news feed every so often. As I do, here are the types of headlines and shared articles that dominate what my eyes see:

“Hillary Said ‘This’…There Goes Her Candidacy”

“Trump’s Statement that Will Ruin America”

“Why a Vote for the Democrats is a Vote of Hope”

“Why Voting for a Democrat is a Vote for Death”

“Is Donald Our Last Hope as a Nation?”

And on…and on…and on… ad nauseam. Ad infinitum, it seems.

Admittedly, those are not actual headlines I have seen, but you know as well as I do that they very well could be. It is constant, and it is as if a vote for this candidate is the only hope we have, or a vote for that party is going to be the end of all that we know.

Now, before getting to my point, let me say this: I am going to vote. I am grateful for our political process, and I appreciate greatly the honor of living in the United States. I love this nation, and I pray for our country often. I want our nation to be strong for my children and for generations yet to come. So, this post is not about to say that we should avoid voting, or further, that we should avoid caring for our nation.

But here is what I want us to see.

We have been given a gift by living where we live at the time we are living. We live in a free country and have been given the gift of being allowed to express to the world–through various means, especially the internet–whatever we choose. What a blessing, but also what a responsibility!

So, what are we spreading to the world?

That we want them to vote for this person or that candidate, or that we want them to see the good things about this party and why that party is evil.

Now, make what may seem like a terrible transition with me.

On Sunday mornings, we are often bemoaning how “no one wants to hear the Gospel anymore.” We talk about how people are just wrapped up in their own little worlds and do not want to hear the truth about God and heavenly things any longer. They are too much tied up in this world.

Ahem…pardon me while the irony of that sinks in.

Here we are, given a gift of being able to share whatever we want with the world, and instead of giving them the Gospel, we spout politics. Instead of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, we tout everything our favorite candidate says. Instead of warning them of the wiles of the devil, we warn them about some political party.

And then we wonder why people don’t want to hear the Gospel?

It’s because too many Christians are just as caught up in this world as everyone else is.

Our hope is in some political candidate.

Our joy is wrapped up in who wins in November.

Our fear is from a politician or a party.

Yes, I care who wins. I will vote in November and try to do so as thoughtfully and prayerfully as I can. But no matter who wins on Tuesday, November 8, God will still be in charge of all things on Wednesday, November 9.

As we draw nearer to the elections, I just wonder how many Christians will spend more time and effort trying to win people to a party than they will spend trying to win people to the Lord.

This world needs to know that our hope and joy are not tied up in a donkey or an elephant. The only hope, the only source of our joy is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Will you tell people that?


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: DonkeyHotey on Creative Commons

4 Mistakes Husbands Keep Making

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Marriage is not easy. No matter how compatible two people might be, and no matter how much they love each other and are good to each other, marriage is going to initiate challenges that will test the very hearts of the two people who are involved. Having been married for over 18 years and having counseled marriages for about the same amount of time, I can tell you that the struggles in marriage are pretty much the same struggles everywhere. It boils down to the differences between men and women, and how they act and what they individually need. With that being said, and with the realization that I often fail in all of these areas, here are some mistakes we as husbands continually make:
1. Husbands are not as kind to their wives as they should be. It is in little remarks. It is in their body language. Unfortunately for some men, it is temper tantrums and foul language. But in any event, women respond better to tenderness and considerate modes of communication. When a woman feels beaten down she is going to shrivel up. She is not going to respond with affection. 1 Peter 3:7 instructs – “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife…” The word “honor” in this passages literally means “understanding the value” of the wife. When we recognize the value of something we treat it with care and protect it. Husbands need to treat their wives better. If they don’t they should not be surprised when she doesn’t want to be intimate.
2. Husbands are not doing the little things enough. Flowers bought to make up for a blunder are not as effective as a card written on a Tuesday afternoon and left on your wife’s car for no reason at all except to praise her or tell her what she means to you. Major purchases and attempts to quickly fix things that have been broken in the relationship for years are not things that will resonate with her as much as you think. There is no quick fix when trust has been lost, or when feelings have been hurt, or when you have patterned bad behavior. But the little things every day are what she needs in order to feel close to you. Getting up to wash the dishes after supper, putting all your clothes away that she has washed and dried and folded, and taking care of her vehicle’s maintenance before she ever knew it was even time are the little things that make her feel like you are what she can’t do without.
3. Husbands are rarely, if at all, romantic. It is amazing how much more romantic boyfriends are than husbands. What a shame! Especially since husbands have rights and boyfriends have none! When you dated you opened doors and planned events that surrounded her favorite things. You daydreamed about her and you texted her all day and told her how much you missed her. You anticipated the very next time you would see her or hear her voice. Stop taking her for granted. Try to win her heart every day. “When you dated” is saying enough in itself. You should never stop courting her. She is the woman you forsook all others for. This means she is special. If she doesn’t make your heart skip a beat then there is something wrong with your heart. Romance is often felt in husbands but it is simply not expressed. If you think she doesn’t need to be told she is pretty, or that you love her, or that you are thankful for her, you are dead wrong. Just because she has heard those things before doesn’t mean she no longer needs to hear them. Chances are that because she hasn’t heard them very often she simply doesn’t feel them anymore.
4. Husbands are not leading spiritually. God gave men the responsibility to lead their families in the Lord. They may work hard and pay the bills. They may be at all the ball games for the kids. They may provide and protect in many areas. But husbands who have no walk with the Lord are not capable of the kind of leadership a family requires. Even if they had no spiritual examples growing up, husbands still need to seek out a relationship with God for themselves and their family. We cannot blame the present and the future on the past. And there is nothing more calming or attractive to a Christian woman than a man who is personally close to God. Prayers should be the norm. He should be a man who studies the Bible for principles by which he will guide the wife and children. When a wife sees a man pray, cry, or be vulnerable to the point that He shows a need for God and for his companion, she will quickly respond to his side and her heart will be involved.
So husbands, there it is. This is not rocket science. Treat her better. Do the little things. Court her hard. And lead her in the Lord. These are not difficult tasks for a man who loves his wife. They are honors and pleasures.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” – Ephesians 5:25


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Computers and Wooden Boxes

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I had an interesting conversation with a brother in Christ not long ago. As I understand it, his family has owned and operated a lumber yard for many years. I think he served as the second generation owner/operator of the business. In recent years, he has basically turned most of the responsibility over to the next generation. He refers to himself now as a buyer.

This Christian brother is sort of a “cut to the chase” kind of guy. There is not a lot of “fluff” about him. I think that is reflected in the slogan of the lumber yard. That slogan just states that Wood is Good.

I was told that, sometime after his first wife had passed away, he remarried. As might be expected, somebody asked him why he had decided to do that. As I understand it, his answer was something along the lines of, “I liked being married the first time and I think I’ll like it the second time.” His answer, like him, was uncomplicated, straightforward, and honest.

Somehow, a part of our conversation turned to technology. Specifically, we started talking about computers. He told me how the younger members of his family make fun of him for not learning to use a computer. They try to get him at least into the twentieth century, if not the twenty-first. His answer to them is that he didn’t learn to use computers earlier in life and has no interest in learning how now. His “solution” is to ask those who know how to use computers to print (on paper) what they want him to know in order for him to deal with it in a way that is comfortable to him.

He also told me something that he thought was interesting and that he thought I would find interesting. He was right. Here, if my memory has not failed me, are his exact words:

“Guess who they come running to when they want a wooden box built to certain specifications.”

I think that there is a lesson here for the Lord’s people. The church is composed of those who are in the “computer generation.” It is also composed of those in the “wooden box generation.” 

We can isolate ourselves into our own “cells.” We can criticize and make fun of those who are not just like us in ability, skills, knowledge, etc. If we choose that route, the church will become segmented, weakened, and impotent in the eyes of the community and society at large.

The other option is for the computer generation, the wooden box generation, and all the generations in between to join hands and hearts in an effort to do the Lord’s work as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The Holy Spirit has already informed us about which option should be chosen by those who truly love the Lord:

“For as in one body we have many members,

and the members do not all have the same function,

so we, though many, are one body in Christ,

and individually members one of another” (Rom. 12:4-5).


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[Quote] Powerful Words about Preaching

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Source: The Way to Biblical Preaching by Donald G. Miller

Leah’s Easy Eggplant Parmesan

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In our garden this summer, for the first time, we have grown eggplant. I had eaten eggplant before coated in cornmeal and fried like summer squash, but today I wanted to share with you an easy way to make something different: Eggplant Parmesan. This is a very easy and healthy meal!

The first thing I do is mix up an Italian tomato sauce. It is really easy, and I don’t even have real measurements for this, so just fix it to your personal taste. For mine, I use one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce. Then I add garlic powder, onion powder, basil, salt, pepper, and just a little sugar. To be honest, I just add the spices until I like the way it tastes!

The next thing I do is prepare the eggplant slices. First, go ahead and beat one or two eggs in a shallow bowl. Then, mix bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese in another bowl. Next, slice your eggplant. I didn’t even peel mine the first time I made this, but I think you’re supposed to. 

Then, dip the slices of eggplant into the egg and then coat the slices with the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese mixture. Now you are ready to fry them. I cook mine in an iron skillet with vegetable oil (that has been heated up). Let them cook for about two minutes on each side. [Note: You must cook eggplant through. It cannot be eaten raw!]

To serve, I put the eggplant slices on angel hair pasta. Then, I spoon the Italian tomato sauce over that. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top.

Serve this with a green salad and some garlic bread, and you have a yummy meal.