“The end is near!”
How do those words make you feel? Well, if you are like most people, it probably depends on the context. Right now, those words sound glorious to me because I thought of them in reference to the fact that school ends for the year in just 2 days.
Summertime, here we come!!!
As I thought about what those words mean to me right now, it made me consider how they make me feel in a spiritual context. How do I (or you) feel when I think “the end is near” in reference to my earthly life as a whole? James 4:14 tells us that our lives are like a mist or vapor that “appears for a little time and then vanishes.” So, to borrow a phrase, while the days seem long, the years are short.
Does this make me uncomfortable? Or do I have the same attitude as Paul in Philippians 1:21 where he wrote, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Do I look forward to the coming of Christ with expectation and hope? Can I end my prayers the way John ends the book of Revelation: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”?
It is my prayer that I can hear the words “the end is near” in reference to my life and be filled with “the peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) because “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12).
I hope you can, too.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:38-39
I see it virtually everywhere I preach, both at 9th Avenue as well as in various guest speaking opportunities. It is a trend that is disheartening to me, not just as a preacher of the Gospel, but also just one who loves the hearts of children and who wants to see them grow to love God and His Word.
It is kids playing video games during worship.
They bring their iPad, tablet, or phone and while many of us are singing “I Surrender All,” they are striving for a high score. While we are praying to God, they are playing baseball. While we are mining the depths of God’s Word, they are on Minecraft.
Parents, may I just ask: what are we teaching our children about worship?
It’s only for adults.
It can’t compete with electronics.
It’s something you do if you can’t find something more interesting.
Those lessons, spoken or unspoken, are what your children are picking up when you allow them to play games during worship.
And I know that there are plenty of Bible apps and websites that are also being used by some. That said, I have randomly asked children at places I have spoken about what they were doing on their iPad (or other device) during worship. Never–not a single time–has it had something to do with the sermon. It has always–every single time–been about playing a game or watching videos. (Yes, I’ve seen kids with headphones hooked up to their tablet during worship. Not a good way to show that they are paying attention to the worship service!)
Is this what we want for our children? As we are gathering around God’s throne to praise His holy name, do we want our kids to be off in virtual gameland? If I may say so, I want my children right in God’s throneroom with me as I praise Him!
“They can’t sit still through a whole sermon.” “They pick up quite a bit as it is.” “They don’t understand what’s going on.” “It helps me worship because they are still and quiet, at least.”
I’ve heard all the excuses. They just don’t fly. Worship is something that children must be trained in, and it starts when they are very little. What’s more, if they are trained how to act during worship when they are younger, children will most likely come to enjoy worship as they grow up.
Of course, children will be restless during worship (especially the sermon). That’s part of it, and it is understandable. But putting Temple Run in front of their face is not the answer. All that teaches our kids is that they can act up in worship, and they are rewarded for it!
I am not saying that children–especially smaller children–need to sit perfectly still during a worship service with just a King James Bible open to the text for the sermon.
But there are far better things to do, or even to give your children, than a video game (or social media access, for the older ones).
When they are really small, give them Bible pictures, Bible story “board-books,” or even small stuffed animals (and whisper in their ear, “God made the dog on day 6,” or “God made the birdie on day 5”). That way, though they have something in their hands, or that they are looking at, it is teaching them to focus on their wonderful Lord during these few minutes.
As they grow a little older, Bible story books are a good idea. Also, make sure they are at least trying to sing and that they are still during the prayers. They can do this much!
Another idea is to have little worship worksheets that they can draw and write on. (Note: We offer these for free in our “Training for Worship” pdf that’s in our store. Again, it’s free!) These sheets let them write the names of the songs or something we prayed about. Have your children draw a picture of something the preacher talked about on the sheets, or write down the verses he used in his sermon.
I know that all this means that you may struggle to worship at times. During those younger years, those children are forming such valuable thoughts in their little minds. Wouldn’t you rather struggle a little bit and have them grow up loving to worship and understanding what is going on?
Then please, not for the sake of the preacher, but for the sake of the souls of your children, nix the video games.
Replace Mindcraft with Matthew.
Replace Temple Run with Titus.
Replace sports games with singing with grace.
God is worthy of your effort. It will be a fight for awhile, but the eternal destiny of your child is in the balance. It’s worth every effort.
“Training for Worship” [Arrows in Our Hand podcast. Contains other helpful links, especially for parents of smaller children.]
“Training Your Children for Worship” [A Legacy of Faith podcast]
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
Jesus once healed a man that had been mute and demon-possessed. The multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel” (Matt. 9:33). The Pharisees, however, were not so thoroughly convinced. They claimed that Jesus had cast out demons by Beelzebub, ruler of the demons (Luke 11:15). In Luke’s account, Jesus answered their challenge by appealing to the nature of any kingdom – “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls (Luke 11:17, NKJV).
Jesus went on to explain that it would make no sense for Beelzebub to cast out his own (Luke 11:18-19). He testified that His casting out demons by the power of God was a sign of the establishment of His kingdom (Luke 11:20). He proved by both word and work He was mightier than any devil, even as a strong man may be overcome by one who is stronger (Luke 11:21-23).
Speaking about the nature of unclean spirits, Jesus continued, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest and finding none, he says, I will return to my house from which I came. And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order” (Luke 11:24-25).
There is something in that phrase – “he goes through dry places, seeking rest and finding none” – that speaks to the common calamity of man in his search for spiritual peace. Men often seek for rest in places that do nothing but leave them with empty, worthless lives, with nothing eternal on which to lean.
Consider the pursuits of wealth and fame, and all physical, temporary pleasures. Think of the variety of dry places to which humanity goes looking for fulfillment. None of these hold the key to happiness and rest. Paul said to Timothy that these are but a “temptation and a snare…foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9). If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that sometimes we go looking for comfort in dry places.
Jesus said that the evil spirit is wise enough to eventually realize that the only solution is to “return to the house from which I came” (Luke 11:25). The prodigal figured this out as well (Luke 15:17-18). Hopefully, we too will be wise enough to see that our own safe resting place is in the Father’s house (John 14:2).
Jesus ended His teaching here with a warning. Although the evil spirit had been removed from the man, He said that spirit’s ultimate goal was to return with “seven other spirits more wicked than himself…enter and dwell there,” and then,“the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:26). Satan’s temptations will not end. The harder we try to fight him, the more concentrated He will become. The only solution is to make sure that we clean the house and lock the door.
Jesus Christ is the stronger man. He can overpower Satan and reign in us if we let Him. He will not lead us to dry places, but into green pastures and beside still waters (Psalm 23:2). As Jesus finished speaking, a woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed you!” (Luke 11:27).Jesus responded with the formula for avoiding dry places. He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).
It has probably been over a quarter of a century since I first saw the cartoon reproduced below. I have tried at various times over the years to find it. I was unsuccessful until somebody posted it not long ago on Facebook.
I will let the picture speak for itself with only a few statements from me.
First, in the past twenty-five years or so, even the outfit on the right would cover more than what some wear today.
Second, a similar picture could be produced showing the inconsistency in the wardrobe choices of some men and boys. What if a t-shirt and boxer shorts were on the left and what passes for swimwear for guys was on the right?
Third (and sadly), I know some who wear the name of Christ who need to consider this. I pray that all of us will.
(Player not displaying or working? Click here.)
Every person and every family would like to be better in various areas of life. Oftentimes, though, we see changes as massive and overwhelming. In his new ebook, Small Changes, Big Results, Scotty Studer shares 26 ways we can see great results in different areas of our lives with just a few simple but intentional changes. On the podcast this week, he talks about the ebook, and shares a few insights just for our podcast listeners.
Get the eBook for Your Kindle
Small Changes, Big Results [Amazon Kindle store]
Other Resources/Links Mentioned in the Program
“Screen Free Weekend” [previous podcast with Scotty]
“Power for Today” [devotional magazine]
5 Minutes with God [Amazon]
5 Minutes with God, volume 2 [Amazon]
It has been quite some time since we took a day and just gave you some news from A Legacy of Faith. In the past several months, we have seen tremendous growth, especially in our number of email subscribers. Thank you!
Since we have so many new readers, we wanted to take just one day and let you know about a couple of places on our website you may not have visited yet, where you can get more from us.
Yes, we have a store. No, it isn’t a big money-maker. In fact, there are many things in our store that are totally free!
In our store, you will find a number of free printables, mostly designed for families. We do not ask for any money or information. You simply click and download the materials, totally free!
There are, too, some books that either we have written or that we have contributed to. Jim Faughn’s book, God Give Us Christian Homes, and Adam Faughn’s Hymns of the Heart can both be found in our store, along with five books that various members of the Legacy of Faith family have written chapters for.
To visit our store, simply click here and see what all you can find.
While none of us are world-famous speakers, each of us at A Legacy of Faith speaks several times each year (away from our normal work).
While these schedules are changing regularly, we try to keep a running list up and current on one page of our website. If you see a place near you where we will be speaking, we’d love to meet you!
To find our speaking schedule, follow this link.
We provide A Legacy of Faith totally free of charge. With blog posts and podcasts, we strive to encourage members of the Lord’s church as best we can.
To do this, though, costs money. We never want A Legacy of Faith to become a major money-making endeavor, but it does cost money. That said, we are grateful for a number of people who have agreed to be supporters of our site. (Those of you who subscribe through email see their names at the bottom of every day’s articles.)
Through the site Patreon, you can support our work monthly. We also have a PayPal account, where you can make a one-time donation to help offset our costs. Every dollar that is given is put back into the hosting fees, podcast, email support costs, and other costs of running our site. We do not “make” anything off the site.
To find out more about how to support us through Patreon or Paypal, follow this link.
As we said at the beginning, we rarely take the time to have a post like this. We hope you didn’t mind this quick commercial break.
Tomorrow, it will be back to our regularly scheduled…posting.
We were sitting in a class for elementary students at Maywood Christian Camp. The first Saturday in May of each year, the area youth ministers provide a wonderful day called “Madness in May” for K-6 students. Bible classes, food, and fun fill the day, and the children really grow throughout the day.
As we sat with our group from 9th Avenue in a class about Abraham’s faith, the teacher asked a question about going to heaven. The students started talking about what one needed to do to go to heaven, and how it takes faith. The teacher then said something like this: “Won’t it be great to be with God some day?”
It was then that a young child said words that touched my heart, and caused me to do some self-examination. This precious boy said, “I want to be with God every day!”
My heart swelled with joy at those innocent words.
Of course, we want to be with God in a very special way in heaven when this life is over. And, of course, there is a sense in which God is always with us (and for that I am so grateful!).
But there should also be an ever-growing desire in my heart to want to spend time with the Lord each and every day.
In all the hurry and hustle of our modern lives, our to-do lists fill up with things that are important, but that often crowd out the most important thing: drawing nearer to our Lord. It has been called “the tyranny of the urgent.” It has to get done today–or even right this moment–so we do it, all the while knowing that the urgent is drowning out the deepest cries of our heart for what is most important.
When is the last time you spent time with just you and the Lord?
Compare that answer with how often you desire to spend time praying to God, reading and meditating on His Word, and just being alone with Him in wonder and awe of His glorious majesty.
Even if it literally takes putting it on your calendar, do it!
Maybe it is prayer time in the morning. Maybe it is reading and praying on your lunch break. Maybe it is an evening stroll around the neighborhood as you think of God’s wonderful power in creation. Maybe it is a personal or family devotional time that becomes a regular tradition.
Whatever it is, as people who love the Lord, should we not desire to spend time with Him every day? Then let’s do just that.
I just want to be where You are,
Dwelling daily in Your presence;
I don’t want to worship from afar,
Draw me near to where You are.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
They waited with great anxiety. They peered out their windows in terror. Then their worst fears were realized. They saw Pharaoh’s men coming to take their baby boys away forever. These innocent children were being executed by the thousands. No Israelite sons were left out of the slaughter. Parents kissed their babies and clung to them with all their might. But the Egyptian soldiers snatched them from mothers’ arms and sent them to their deaths, casting them into the Nile (Ex. 1:22).
Yet there was one family who refused to let that happen. One family who refused to let their child meet an untimely death. The Hebrew writer says, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command” (Heb. 11:23). Can’t you just see Jocabed saying, “Not in my house! Not with my child! Not now! Not ever!”?
God worked with Moses’ parents by great providence to allow him to live. An ark of bulrushes was the plan, and a sister to stand close by. Sprinkle in a touch of compassion from a daughter of the king, and a Hebrew nurse who was Moses’ actual mother and there it was: God’s answer for a family willing to act by faith. A merciful Creator granted more than could have been imagined. Salvation not only came to the family of Moses, but eventually to all Israel.
In the present hour, it is unfortunate that many parents do not understand what is going on in the world. They look not with caution out windows hoping their worst fears won’t be realized. They suspect not those who are ready to carry their children away to death. They fear not the difficulties awaiting their children outside their homes. In fact, it may even be said that what is going on within the home is often more troubling than what rages without.
But they are still coming. They are coming to take our children away from safety. They are coming to take our children away from happiness. They are coming to take our children away from hope. Who are they? What do they want? What will they do?
They are the cares of the world. They are the riches of the world. They are the teachings of men. They are the sins of the flesh.
They want their time and effort. They want their hearts and minds. They want their hopes and dreams. They want their very lives.
They will take them out of the church. They will take them away from God. They will take them away from spiritual things. They will destroy their souls in hell.
Yes, they are certainly coming. They are coming to every home. But faithful parents will not let them. “Not in my house! Not with my child! Not now! Not ever!”
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ~ Joshua 24:15
She is a very friendly lady. She seems genuinely happy on those rare occasions when we meet. She’s visited one of the worship services where I preach with a mutual friend of ours. When I visited with her in her home after that, she told me that she enjoyed the experience. Recently, when I saw her, she told me the same thing.
However, as I encouraged her to return, she also told me that she has “a church home.” She was very kind when she said it. She appreciated my concern, but the message was clear. She has a church home and is not all that interested discussing any other possibilities.
It wasn’t always that way. In our conversations, I learned that one of the families where I preach used to pick her up when she was younger and take her to Bible study and worship with them. Please notice the word “take.” The word is not “bring.” Although the family I am writing about worships with us now, all of what this lady was talking about happened elsewhere.
She has told me about how she enjoyed those childhood experiences. She’s told me on more than one occasion about the friends she made–and still has–because of those experiences. She also told me something else that made my heart sink.
If you noticed the title above, it starts with an ellipsis. Those three dots indicate that there is more to the quote and, sadly, more to this lady’s story. Here is her entire quote (at least as I remember it):
“___________ has always had a history of splits, disagreements, and not getting along. When I got married, I decided that I might as well go with my husband.”
May I ask what to me is a sobering, introspective, and eternally important question? May I ask which, if any, of the following groups of people please the Lord? Is He pleased with a group of people with–
I am not, in any way, arguing that none of those first four things listed are unimportant. They are, without a doubt, extremely and eternally important.
While we strive to preach, teach, and practice the truth about all of those matters, may we never forget these words from the lips of the One whose name we wear:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you are also 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, emphasis added).