A Church Growth Tip from An 8-Year-Old

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Some who read this will know that, a few months ago, our son and his family moved from a metropolitan area to a much smaller town. The town to which they moved had been their home a few years earlier. For our son and his wife, it was somewhat of a homecoming.

However, this was not exactly true for their children. Due to their ages, they do not remember as much as do their parents about the smaller town.

Recently, I took advantage of an opportunity to talk to our eight-year-old grandson about the move. I asked what I thought was a pretty open-ended question. I merely asked him how he liked it where he now lives and how it compared to city they had left.

I thought it was very interesting that he said nothing at all about the populations of the two places, the places to shop in either place, the recreational opportunities, or many other things that one might consider to be very important. He chose something completely different to talk about.

His first (and only) thought had to do with the number of friends he had in each place. He liked the fact that there were more friends on the street where he and his family used to live in the larger community. At the same time, he told me that he also had a lot of friends where he is now; especially at church. His “final analysis” was that both places were good.

I know that church growth is a fascination for many people. It would almost not be an exaggeration to say that it is an obsession for some.

Books are written; seminars are conducted; speeches are made; CDs and DVDs are produced, and so on. All of this is done in order to help local congregations to grow. 

While I am sure that most, if not all, of these have much to be said for them, it is my very firm belief that none of them will produce the desired results if a congregation is not friendly.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that providing a friendly atmosphere would do more to attract and keep people than any other technique devised by some of the “church growth experts” of our day. Things like architecture, facilities, worship styles, building location, etc. struggle to overcome a cold, unloving, and unwelcoming group of people.

We all know people who desperately need to have a close relationship with the Lord. It might very well be that a close relationship with a Christian could help pave the way for that relationship with Him.

I’m thankful to our grandson for a reminder.

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What I Wish the Church Knew about the Preacher’s Family

[Note: This week’s guest post comes to us from our friend Dale Jenkins. To learn more about Dale, check out his information following today’s article.]

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The apostle Paul wrote: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV). The New Living Translation says: “We ourselves are like fragile clay jars.” To Timothy he wrote that “… in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work…” (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

I’m not much of a cook but I do occasionally attempt to create something in the kitchen or at the grill and in 35 years of adult life I’ve never had a pot, pan, platter, or plate complain or focus on itself. 

Yet we face the multi-headed challenge: Any family illustration seems to be the most applicable, relatable, and remembered illustration, but they are also the most difficult. You see, we don’t want to embarrass them. After all, they are not illustrations – they are family. 

Further we don’t want people to believe they are perfect (wife or kids). I’ll never forget an old brother telling me about a preacher he heard once who went on and on about how grand his wife was. The guy said: “I knew his wife, and she wasn’t nearly as good as mine is.” Well, I’m not debating either guy; I’m just making the point that we are in a challenging position. If we don’t mention family, people wonder if we don’t love or appreciate them; however, if we do, people think we are overly exhausting them. 

But I’ve been asked to write about what I’d want the church to know about the preacher’s family. So here goes.

Anyone who knows me knows I spend a lot of my time trying to encourage preachers and their families, but the bottom line is the “preacher’s family” is just a family. A family trying to go to heaven. A family with flaws. A family that sometimes has disagreements and “unscheduled discussions” (i.e. arguments), a family that hurts, a family that experiences loss, a family that has to live on a budget. A family that likes to laugh and create memories together. A family that isn’t serious all the time.  And as a preacher with a family: I am a dad trying to train my children to love the Lord, a husband trying to support my wife, a man trying to be “more than an infidel.”

1. My wife is my wife not your employee. I happen to preach but some think that tells them all about my wife. She married ME – hopefully not “the preacher.” I married her – not “the preacher’s wife.” And if she ever told me that for us to continue as a husband and wife I’d have to stop preaching, I’d divorce preaching as a job before I’d divorce her as my wife. You didn’t hire her, her name isn’t on the paycheck, and while when you get me you get some of the fruit of her blessing in my life – let her be that – my wife. She is a Christian and therefore should be held to a higher standard, but no higher than any other Christian.

2. While I appreciate the respect that I think a preacher should receive I don’t pretend to have it all together in my life. The respect is for the role–for what I do–not for me. So let’s talk about my kids. They, too, are human. They will make mistakes. Treat them like you would other kids that make mistakes. Would you not let a man teach a class because his children failed publicly? Would you gossip about the faults and failures or go to the elders about mistakes of a deacon’s kid? It’s not their “fault” their dad preaches. Don’t make it harder on them or hold them to a higher standard. I’m not asking for special treatment for my kids; just that you treat them fairly.

3. Respect my family time like you would that of others. I know I have to be careful here because many jobs have demanding and odd hours that call you away from your family. One of the differences between this job and “most” others is that it is 24 hours a day. A plumber may get a call in the middle of the night or when he is on family vacation or sitting down to supper but he can say “no” and the only repercussion is that he doesn’t get that business. It’s much more complicated when you preach – and you know it if you’ve ever had a sudden sickness, death in the family, traumatic event and called the preacher. So, while we’re not asking you not to call, we do ask that you at least be aware that there are somewhat unique sacrifices that I knew I was asking for when I decided to preach BUT my family didn’t. So would you pray for them when I’m called away and for me for the wisdom to know how to handle that. To ministers I might add a personal note here: I always tried to do some special things for my family when my “job” asked “them” to sacrifice to make up for that.

4. IF you know that I am under-compensated for my job remember my kids at special times. Note, not all of us are underpaid and even those who are signed up for and agreed to the salary received. But if you know that what I do is a sacrifice figure out a way to bless us a little. 

Bottom line: Even though we believe what we get to do is very special (holding forth the Word of Life and shining Light into darkness), we do not want you to believe that we are any more special than any other soul out there. We are just Christians who want to go to heaven and, like every other Christian, want to take as many with us as possible. We are just husbands and dads and families trying to be a Christian family. We are just clay pots, vessels – happy to be in the Lord’s Cabinet.

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Dale Jenkins is a preacher’s kid married to a preacher’s kid they have two preacher’s kids who have three preacher’s kids. By the goodness of God and the grace of a good wife, they all love the Lord. He preaches at Spring Meadows in Spring Hill and helps run The Jenkins Institute.

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Cousins’ Camp 2015: “Discovering Who You Are and Whose You Are”

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Cousins’ Camp 2015 is now in the history books for the Faughn family. Three years ago, I borrowed an idea from my friend Sheila Butt and launched our version of Cousins’ Camp. I had heard Sheila talk about getting her grandchildren together for activities, devotionals, and lots of fun things. I loved the idea, so I borrowed it and began our version of the camp.

Our camp, which is held at our home, begins on Thursday and runs through Monday at lunch. We run it very much like church camp. I’ll never forget the first time after breakfast when I said, “It’s cabin clean-up time,” and they all got up and went to their “cabins” and made beds, picked up clothes, lined up shoes, and made their space as neat as possible. Grampy (the camp director), their mothers (the counselors), and I (the chief cook and bottle washer) were all shocked, but we loved it! Grampy judged the “cabins” and they had a great time when the counselors came in last. After lunch that first day I thought I would try another tactic, so I said, “It’s cabin rest time.” All five of them got up and went to their “cabins” and rested (not too quietly) for about 45 minutes. Jim, the girls, and I had a great time visiting with each other during this time!

We keep a flexible schedule at camp and keep them busy with crafts, games, and other activities during the day. One of their favorites is “sidewalk chalk.” We have a long sidewalk in front of our house, so we give each one of them a square of the sidewalk and a box of sidewalk chalk and a theme to display in their drawing. When they are finished, everyone gathers around each drawing and the artist has to explain how his or her drawing displays the theme. It is amazing to see their creativity and their connection to spiritual things. I usually tear up just listening to them.

Corn hole, kick ball, game playing, singing, apron making, letter painting, bubble blowing, giggling, eating, and lots of other activities take place at cousins’ camp. This year we went on a field trip to the Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee. It was a wonderful place for them to see history and learn while having lots of fun. I was thrilled when they all were looking at the displays of dinosaur bones and other relics, and turned to me and said, “This didn’t happen millions of years ago! This is evolution, and not right!” It was such a great moment to teach them that they need to continue to believe and teach others how false evolution is.

One of my favorite times happens when we are slowing down and getting ready to go to bed for the night. We have a devotional with everyone gathered around. Grampy does a devotional on Thursday and Sunday night. On Friday and Saturday nights, our grandsons do the devotionals. They are growing as young men who love the Lord and I have been impressed by what they talk about in their devos. They talk about great-grandparents, grandparents, and other people who have influenced their lives. They turn to passages of scripture and teach from the Word. We sing and pray together and share our thoughts and emotions with one another. We say “I love you” many times.

[View more pictures of Cousins’ Camp 2015 here on Amber Tatum’s Facebook page.]

I could go on and on about Cousins’ Camp, but I want to end by telling you some of my observations about spending time together as family.I hope it will encourage you to make a special effort to spend time with your family.

  • Memories are made that will last a lifetime. 
  • Conflicts happen and it is a golden opportunity to teach them how God would have us handle conflicts.
  • Laughter is plentiful and so important. It helps with so many things.
  • We recognize that we are part of each other.
  • We teach about the spiritual family and how it is much like our physical family.
  • Hugs and kisses are plentiful.
  • Manners are taught.
  • Love abounds – for each other…and especially for God.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”  Psalm 127:3

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“Above All”

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The original idea was not to write a song, but those of us who love the hymn “Above All” are thankful it became one.
Paul Baloche sat down one day and said he just wanted to worship God in a personal way. He said that, as he did, he started focusing on things that people consider important, but that Christ was so much greater than any of those things; things like power, fame, riches, and even wisdom. He said that, as that thought captured his mind, he just praised God with these words: “Lord, you are above all kingdoms, above all, thrones, above all wonders the world has ever known.”
He realized that this would make a good song, though that was not his original purpose. For about a year, Paul tried to write a chorus that went along with the short verses he had written, but nothing fit.
Finally, he sat down with a songwriter named Lenny LeBlanc. Paul gave him around 20 song ideas, but only this unfinished song, “Above All,” caught his attention. Remember, this was after a year of trying to think of a chorus. Literally, the next day, Lenny LeBlanc said, “What about, ‘Crucified, laid behind a stone…like a rose trampled on the ground.’” At that point, that’s all he had, but it was exactly what Paul had been looking for.
In his own words, Paul said his reaction was this: “What a contrast, what a picture. That’s Jesus. The One who is and always will be above us, was willing to be crucified and rejected, just to demonstrate His love for an unappreciative world.”
Both Paul and Lenny ironed out the final wording of this song, and said that, once they realized it was complete, they read through it again and wept because of how much it made them think of Jesus and what He did for a world that, in the words of the song, trampled Him like a rose on the ground.
The song “Above All” finds its power in contrast. The verses speak of how majestic and powerful Christ before He was born into this world. He was above all.
John opens his account of the Gospel by showing us that Jesus was, in fact, God from the very beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
That’s what Christ gave up when He came to this earth. Paul would show us that. In Philippians 2, Paul was telling the congregation at Philippi to avoid rivalry and conceit. And the example he gives is none other than Jesus Himself, “Who, though He was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (vv.6-7).
Jesus was God. He was above all. But He gave all of that up to come to this world. Not only that, He was “despised and rejected of men,” as Isaiah had prophesied in chapter 53. He did not come to this world as some guru who stood on the mountain tops. He wasn’t some handsome person that people would be drawn to for all the wrong and worldly reasons. Instead, He came in a lowly manner and tried to point people back to being true followers of God.
And people did not like it. They rejected the light because they loved darkness more than the light. Paul would go on to say in Philippians 2: “And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v.8).
But why? Why did Jesus do that? I love the way the song “Above All” puts it. “Like a rose trampled on the ground, you took the fall and thought of me above all.”
“You took the fall.” What a powerful thought!! Jesus went through all that pain and suffering so you and I don’t have to! He took our place. Scholars use the fancy phrase “substitutionary atonement,” but the idea is simply that Jesus took my place of suffering. And He did so because He thought of me above all.
Jesus did not count even equality with God as more important than my salvation, and yours. What a Savior! What a Lord!
Do you think of Him above all?
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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

The Good Confession

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When Paul wrote his first epistle to the young preacher Timothy, he referred to Timothy’s conversion in the following manner, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:12). While Timothy had professed to be a follower of Christ and had testified of his faith and his knowledge of the Christ on several occasions through preaching, Paul is probably specifically discussing the moment when Timothy became a child of God and was added to the church. This most likely happened during Paul’s initial missionary trips to Lystra, Timothy’s hometown (Acts 14 and 16).

Paul also reminded the church of Christ at Rome, “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). From this text and other passages it is definitely clear that the Bible teaches that confession of faith in Christ is a prerequisite to salvation. There are also other absolutes required by God which are revealed in the Scriptures, including hearing the word (Rom. 10:14-17), believing in Christ (John 3:16, 8:24), and immersion in the name of Jesus (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).

Paul called Timothy’s profession of faith, “the good confession.” What did he mean by that? And what was this confession exactly? And what did it signify? It was “good” because a confession of faith in Jesus represents a heart that has accepted the truth of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice and which has also been changed by the power of heavenly love to obediently submit to the will of God. This confession involves both an acknowledgement of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and a commitment to service to the Lord for the rest of one’s earthly life. The significance of confessing Christ is that it honors God and glorifies Jesus as the one and only Lord of lords and King of kings – understanding that Jesus alone is the one through whom we can be acceptable to God (John 14:6). It truly is a good confession, a beautiful confession, and a necessary confession!

Recently, through some of our missionaries working in India, I found this statement which I believe is extremely powerful and perhaps best sums up what a biblical confession of faith in Christ really involves:

Confession before baptism in India – “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. I believe that He died, was buried, and resurrected from death. I believe that He built His church and I confess His name and will be faithful unto my death to the Christ and His church.”

The good confession is more than just admitting that we believe in Jesus. It makes us ready for our immersion by which we can be cleansed of all past sins and contact the saving blood of Jesus. It is also a spoken covenant to God by which we put Him in charge and commit ourselves to His kingdom for the rest of our lives. It is not the good confession because it comes from our lips. It is the good confession because God is good in spite of our sin. It is the good confession because it admits that without the blood of Jesus and the love of His cross we are nothing but lost.

“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” – Acts 8:36-37

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I Am Now Ready

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Luke records the parable that our Lord taught about a man who was prepared to live, but who was not ready to die. The man had “…much goods laid up for many years” (Luke 12:19). He had forgotten one thing; he might not have many years left. As we read about the man whom God called a fool (v. 20), we should be impressed with the necessity of preparing for our own departure from this life. 

Some seemingly have missed the point of this parable. They apparently focus on the question asked the man was asked: “…[T]hen whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided” (v. 20)? 

These people are careful to take care of all of that. They make adequate preparation for funds for their own burial; they have their will made out so that a proper distribution of their material possessions will be made; an adequate insurance policy, trust fund, etc. will provide for those left behind.

Like the man in the parable, they have forgotten one very important thing. We remember that the statement that led to the question was, “…[T]his night thy soul shall be required of thee… (v. 20).

We are not prepared for death (or really for life for that matter) until we have made adequate preparation concerning our soul.

As far as I am able to determine, we have no way of knowing what, if any arrangements, Paul made for his burial, his possessions, etc. We do know, though, that he wrote these words:  “…I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim. 4:6). 

Paul’s confidence about his death was based on his relationship with the Lord.  I’m praying that the same can be said about you…and me.

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How Grown Children Can Show Honor to Their Parents

[NOTE: This week’s guest post comes to us from Weylan Deaver. To learn more about Weylan, check out his bio information at the end of this week’s article.]

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Echoing the Fifth Commandment (Exod. 20:12), Paul writes, “Honor your father and mother” (Eph. 6:2, ESV). The precept applies across covenants, since it is in both Old and New Testaments. It is a basic moral law for mankind. Paul’s instruction is that children obey their parents (v. 1) and honor their parents (v. 2), which results in the children’s well-being, including “that you may live long in the land” (v. 3). Considering that last clause, and with no evidence to the contrary, the principle of honoring one’s parents applies without expiration. Whether we are children at home or adults on our own, we are to honor parents.

The verb, “honor,” translates the Greek timao, which Thayer’s lexicon defines as “to estimate, to fix the value…to revere” (p. 624). To “honor” parents is to make an accurate appraisal which produces required respect, realizing the debt owed them. Now, if that is the definition, what is the application?

The only obligation in the context associated with honoring parents is to “obey your parents.” We generally take that as applying to children living under their parents’ roof, and with good reason. For example, in marriage both spouses are to leave their parents in establishing a new home (Eph. 5:31). A man’s role does not include governing his grown children who have homes and families of their own. If so, it would imply that a wife is obligated to submit to both her husband and her father, with no solution for when the two differ. Instead of such an unworkable arrangement, God says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). So, while obeying is part of honoring parents while children still live at home, children who have moved out and make their own decisions are still obligated to honor their parents.

But, how? Here, inspiration leaves much to our judgment and imagination, revealing the wisdom of God since there are a thousand ways in which the principle can find expression. Having said that, here are just a few considerations.

First, if your parents raised you to be a Christian, be one. There is no better way to honor their legacy of faithfulness. If they failed to teach you the gospel, then learn it and be a Christian anyway, as the noblest thing you can do (even if they don’t immediately recognize it) is to live a godly example in front of parents (and everyone else). Not to mention, your soul depends on it.

Second, keep in touch with your parents. Surely, you cannot honor parents by having little to no contact. If they live far away, technology makes interactive options easier than ever via phone call, email, text, etc. How simple it is, with a smartphone, to take a picture and send it to Mom or Dad. Those little points of contact keep others “in the loop,” and mean more than the small effort it takes to make them happen. Though it seems technology dominates communication, don’t underestimate the impact of a handwritten letter.

Third, ask and value parental advice. The Bible places a premium on older age; it comes by life experience, supplemented with wisdom. “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man” (Lev. 19:32). Rather than be put out to pasture, the previous generation is to be respected. They are a resource who can help us out of a difficulty, or help us avoid it in the first place. The idea that brainpower peaks in our youth is not biblical. The older ought to know more than the younger, especially if they have logged many a year in the Lord’s service. “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation” (Psalm 71:18). To ignore a godly parent’s wisdom is often proof of a child’s foolishness.

Fourth, see to their care. It is, after all, the duty of children to take care of their parents when the time comes. Whatever assistance the government might provide, it is still the case that responsibility rests with grown children to care for aging parents. “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8; study also vv. 3-16). This is part of what it means to “honor your father and mother.” And, just as God’s “commandments are not burdensome” if we love him (1 John 5:3), it is an honor to help our parents if we love them. Perhaps it is the least we can do for those without whom we would not even exist.

Fifth, when your parents are gone, honor them by telling future generations about their lives, especially if they were faithful to the Lord. Memories of righteous ancestors can be a powerful motivator to help keep us walking in the light. God intends we do all we can in order to bring about multi-generational faithfulness, meaning our children are taught to be Christians, so that their children become Christians, on and on. If our parents or great-grandparents are waiting in Paradise, we want our children to know who they are, and to anticipate meeting them there some day.

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Weylan Deaver is a graduate of the Southwest School of Bible Studies, Freed-Hardeman University, and the Bear Valley Bible Institute. He preaches for the Sherman Drive church of Christ in Denton, Texas and serves on the faculty for the online program of Tennessee Bible College. He and his wife, Cheri, have four homeschooled children. His hobbies include hunting and songwriting. Follow on Twitter @wdeaver.

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3 Marriage Books to Read This Summer

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We love reading. Whenever we get extra money, it is tempting to just go on a spending spree of nothing but books. Some we read for entertainment; others for information.

There are some books, though, that just add value to some area of your life. Today, I want to share three books that, if you have not read them, will add value to your home; specifically, your marriage.

 

TO READ TOGETHER: His Needs, Her Needs

his needs her needsA classic book, Willard Harley’s book discusses what each gender in a marriage needs the most. It also discusses how husbands and wives can detract from each other’s “love tank” even without knowing it, simply because they are not perceiving their spouse’s true needs.

This is a great book to read together, aloud, and discuss. Get a copy here.

TO READ AND DISCUSS: The 5 Love Languages

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I recommend spouses read a chapter each, then sit down and discuss it. Another classic, Gary Chapman’s book is simple and straightforward, but lends itself well to further discussion. If you will read with an open mind, you will find yourself learning a great deal more about your spouse. Get a copy here.

TO GET THINGS IN ORDER: The Total Money Makeover

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Dave Ramsey’s best-selling book is still a must-read, but it is also a must do. I see couples regularly who are struggling with finances, and it is tearing apart more than just their bank accounts. It is pulling at the seams of their marriage. This simple book provides the basic blueprint for couples to get this part of their marriage on track. This is a wonderful volume to read on vacation, or just over a free weekend. Get a copy here.

And, if I may add one non-marriage book, the summer is a great time to dig into the Psalms, so why not check out my new book, Hymns of the Heart! Here’s where you can get a copy.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

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The Hypocritical Blanket

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Almost every night, I say a prayer with my son and tell him goodnight. Though sometimes, admittedly, I rush through these last few moments before he goes to sleep, they are some of my favorite minutes of the day.

Some nights we read a story, every night we pray. He says a prayer, then I say one. I tell him “good night” and “I love you,” then his lights go out. It’s a routine I hope does not end anytime soon.

The other night, though, another step had to be taken. I was pulling up his blanket over him when I noticed I didn’t have hold of the sheet underneath. So, I reached way down to nearly the foot of his bed and grabbed the sheet, which was all wadded up down there.

As I pulled it up, I just looked at my 8-year-old son with a face that basically said, “Please explain this.” After his usual “What?” he said, “It looks made up that way.”

He was right. The blanket is thick enough that it covered up the sheet that had never been properly made up. It looked fine, but the sheet was now all wrinkled and creased.

As I heard him say that (with a sly little grin on his face that had me just a tad worried), my mind went to my own life. Are there times when I cover up a thought or an action with enough Christian stuff that I sure look like I’m all made up for the Lord?

You see, too often, we put on a good front, but our insides are all wrinkled and creased by sin. Anyone can put on a nice dress or a shirt and tie and smile for an hour at church. Anyone can shake hands and say the ever-popular “fine” when asked how they are doing.

We all look made up.

Inside, though, are we a wrinkled mess of secret sin?

That’s my lesson from a blanket (that was made up properly last night. I checked!).

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

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Healthy Boundaries

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The last few weeks have been exhausting to say the least. Events and decisions in America have been so polarizing lately. Sometimes it is hard to even want to hear another word about all of the controversy. But we must remember that important subjects are going to cause opinionated discussions. We are not just talking about freedoms and rights in America. We are dealing with issues that are going to determine where people are going to spend eternity.

I don’t know about you, but lately I have been considering the level of my association with some people who in the past I have considered friends. Many people I am acquainted with have been very vocal in their support of things that the Bible clearly condemns. What am I supposed to do about that?

The biggest problem is that I cannot have an open and intelligent discussion with some of them about what God’s word says because they will not accept it as authority. They would rather cower to social pressure and the political agenda, and they refuse to call what is right, right and what is wrong, wrong. It makes it very hard to move forward in any kind of relationship with anyone who has their mind made up and refuses to be shaped by the holy word of God.

Jesus told his disciples, “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” (Matthew 10:11-15).

It is purely ironic that as per the present hour in our world certain cities are mentioned here. But what is Jesus saying? He is reminding His followers that there are going to be times when we cannot get through to people with the truth. If we have made an honest effort and the truth is not received, we need to move on. I must first love people enough to have tough discussions which may bring about some soul searching and needed changes. Once that talk has taken place, if people fail to respect the authority of the written word of God, I need to travel along and let them go.

Christians are to be separate from the world. They have, by the grace of God, been set upon a rock. Christ did not die on a cross so that our faith would waver every time a political or spiritual controversy comes along. When struggles do arise we need to be engaged in profitable conversations. And if need be, we must choose to walk away from any relationship that would weaken our faith or cause us to be entangled in the cares of this life.

Setting proper boundaries in our relationships with others will promote health for us spiritually and keep us on the narrow path that leads to heaven. We need help and guidance from our God to make those necessary and wise decisions. It is my prayer that He will help us to know when to stay in the house one more night, and when to shake the dust off our feet and move on.

“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” 2 Cor. 6:15

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