Episode 48: Book Review of “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper [Podcast]

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Resources abound to help marriages and families, but sifting through the piles of materials can be daunting. On this week’s podcast, Adam takes just a few minutes to share with you some strengths and some weaknesses of John Piper’s book This Momentary Marriage. We hope you will listen to this brief review, and if you find the book one you might want to purchase, you can use the link below [affiliate].

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“I’m Desperate for Snow”

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Those were the words of our bleary-eyed, barely-awake 8-year-old on a recent school morning. She had worn her pajamas inside-out and backwards, flushed ice, put a spoon under her pillow, and done her best snow dance, all to no avail. She had to wake up and go. (Don’t feel too bad for her. Her snow routine worked last night and I am currently in comfy sweats on our first official snow day of the year!)

As I have thought (and laughed) about Lyssa and her “desperation” for snow, I couldn’t help but think about David’s plea in Psalm 51:7 where he says, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow;” or the beautiful words of the Lord in Isaiah 1:18: ““Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow….'”

As those Bible words entered my mind, I realized Lyssa wasn’t really that far off. She certainly was thinking of a physical want, but she brought to mind my (our) desperate spiritual need. When talking to Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus says very clearly that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” and “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (verses 3 & 5) Jesus also told his listeners in Matthew 18:3 that unless one is converted and becomes as a little child, will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

What does all that have to do with snow? Snow is a symbol of purity, cleanness, sinlessness. Jesus said unless I enter that state, I cannot see or enter His kingdom. With David, I plead to God: “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” I am spiritually desperate for snow!

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

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4 Reasons a Daddy Should “Date” His Daughter

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Daddy-daughter dates are a blessing in my life. A few years ago, on the eve of Mary Carol starting Kindergarten, I took her on our first date. She still remembers it, to the point that she can tell you which restaurant we went to, where we sat, and what we ate.

Admittedly, I have not been as consistent with these dates as I should have been over the last few years, but each date with my precious girl is a reminder of how special she is. We never do anything all that fancy, but we always enjoy our time together.

Lord willing, tomorrow night we will go on our next date, so it has me thinking about why I do this. Maybe this short list will help another daddy decide to date his daughter. Here are four reasons why I think you should.

  1. Listen to Her Heart. The ultimate key to these dates is that I get uninterrupted time to ask questions and find out what my daughter is really facing and thinking. Of course, we talk about a lot of fun things (she is, after all, just 10-years-old), but I try to ask questions to let me know the troubles and joys that are on her heart. I would not trade our conversations for anything.
  2. Teach Her Manners. Thankfully, my daughter is a sweet and fairly well-mannered girl. However, I desire that she truly be a lady, in the strongest sense of the word. So I try to teach her manners on our dates. She is reminded to say “sir” or “ma’am” to those at restaurants, for example. Whenever she starts dating for real (when she’s, what, about 30? Ha!) I want her to know that those same expectations will be there. On our dates, and on her dates to come, she is expected to dress modestly, and behave like a God-honoring lady.
  3. Show Her What a Gentleman Is. We dress up for our dates. I typically put on a sports coat. I open doors for her. I pay for everything. I walk on the curb side if we are by a road. Why? Because that’s what I expect any young man who dates my daughter to do. Just because he is 15 or 17 or 20 does not give him an excuse to avoid being a true gentleman. It is also the reason I do not end my dates with my daughter with even so much as a kiss on the cheek. I usually walk her to the door, tell her “thank you,” and walk away. That’s what a young gentleman will be expected to do, and I want those expectations built in early.
  4. Allow Me to Let Go of Her…Slowly! I know that one day, some young man will truly sweep my precious treasure off her feet. One day, I will move to the second-most-important man in her life. That’s the way it should be, but I want that to happen slowly. Dating my daughter gives me the opportunity to prepare myself for that day, but to do so slowly and deliberately.

There are a myriad of other reasons why I love my dates with Mary Carol. Each time we leave on a date, I just pray they are as meaningful to her little heart as they are to mine.

RESOURCES

Daddy Dates by Greg Wright [Amazon.com]

88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates by Rob Teigen [Amazon.com]

Some Rules for “Daddy Dates”

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

“You Think You Are the Only Ones Going to Heaven”

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I was raised in the church. I was born in California on a Monday at 7:00 p.m. My parents took me to worship the following Sunday. My grandfather grew up on a farm in west Texas and was converted to Christ as a young teenager and decided to preach the gospel. He spent approximately 20 years overseas and 63 years in the pulpit. He taught us all a love and respect for the authority of the Bible.

When I say, “I was raised in the church,” it simply means I only knew of the church that Jesus built (is there another?) – the church of Acts to Revelation. I was not raised in a denomination or according to a human creed which came later in human history. It was strictly the word of God for us. When my grandfather entered the mission field all he took with him was his Bible. When he “started a church” – he simply founded the same church the apostles and early Christians presented to the world in the first century. We did not seek to have our own interpretation of the Bible, because we understood it had a fixed message that came directly from the Holy Spirit through the pen of chosen men (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

If I count my first opportunities to lead devotionals and Bible classes and extend invitations to the assembly, I have been preaching the gospel for some 26 years. To me, it is the greatest responsibility and the sincerest pleasure. I get to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ to a world that is lost in sin. I get to give them hope because of the teachings of Christ and the salvation He alone can offer (Rom. 1:16-17). I absolutely love my job!

Therefore, I am saddened that I often hear people who are not a part of the New Testament church have such a negative opinion of those who are. I am speaking of either unchurched people or those who are religious but follow teachings not found in God’s holy word. One of the accusations of God’s people is that they, “…think they are the only ones going to heaven.” This is such a discouraging attack. I have come to understand that there are two reasons why this accusation is often made:

1. There really are people who think they get to decide who is going to heaven and who is not.

2. There are people who want to think that everyone is going to heaven regardless of what they believe and practice.

Both of these attitudes are incorrect. The first is wrong because Christ alone will judge the living and the dead at His appearing (2 Tim. 4:1). It has never been a human responsibility to decide who is lost or saved. So we must look to the Bible and let the word of God, alone, speak. All people of accountability are lost because all have sinned and do sin (Rom. 3:23). The wages of sin is death, but eternal life is a free gift offered through Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23). Since God offers the gift, we must meet His terms in order to receive it (Acts 2:38). We are saved because by His grace He adds us to His church upon our obedience (Acts 2:47). The Bible thus plainly teaches that one must be a part of the church Jesus bled and died for in order to be saved (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23).

The second attitude is wrong because it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6). True, Biblical, saving faith is a direct result of adherence to the word of God (Rom. 10:17). We cannot do things however we want to do them and just assume God is going to accept us (Matt. 7:21-27). We must submit to God (James 4:7). We must love Him by keeping His commandments (John 14:15). What we believe and practice matters. Absolute truth does exist and can be understood (John 8:31-32; 18:37). No person will get to heaven on accident. The only way back to the Father is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

We need to stop playing the “us versus them” game. Each one of us will be accountable to God when Jesus returns. On that Day, what we think about another person’s salvation will be completely irrelevant. On that Day, it will only matter what God thinks about mine.

“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” – 2 Timothy 2:19

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You People

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I read an interesting and challenging Facebook post recently. I was interested for a couple of reasons. First, the material was posted by a friend of mine. 

Secondly, I was also interested because he was writing about something we have in common. Both of us have struggled with our weight. 

I read with interest about his significant weight loss during 2015. He has done a magnificent job of combining diet and exercise in order to improve his health. As you can imagine, my friend’s post also challenged me to get more serious about my own health. 

However, that was not the greatest challenge  My greatest challenge was to my own thinking. That challenge has absolutely nothing to do with weight. 

At the suggestion of a cardiologist, my friend began the process of getting himself ready for weight loss surgery. He told of some of the hoops he jumped through in order to get ready for the surgery. He told of his hopes as he finally met with the doctor who would perform his surgery.

My friend also told of the fateful two words that changed everything. I can only try to imagine how he must have felt when the man he had come to for help referred to those who are overweight as “you people.”

As soon as those words were spoken, all hope of dealing with somebody who cared about him and his struggles was gone. It was evident that there never would be a relationship between a person seeking help and somebody who could provide that help. 

My friend decided against the surgery. He tried another route and, thankfully, has been successful.

So, what does that have to do with me? It has a great deal to do with something much more important than physical well-being.  It has to do with something of eternal importance.

Those two words spoken by the surgeon caused me to ask myself:

“How do I react to those who are struggling with sin (and who may be losing that struggle)? What message do I give them, either by my words or my demeanor, when they approach me and ask me if I can help in some way? Do I wrap myself in the cloak of my own sense of self-importance and self-righteousness and look down my nose at those I consider to be ‘you people?’”

There are, of course, many suggestions, methods, products, etc. that promise to help us lose weight. I am very glad that my friend has found a way that is working for him.

In terms of that most important aspect of our existence, consider carefully these words from the lips of Jesus:

…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). 

Wouldn’t it be a shame if somebody never found Him because of the insensitivity of one who claimed to be one of His followers?

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Episode 47: You’re Planning VBS…Already? (with Joey Sparks) [Podcast]

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Planning big events for a congregation can be overwhelming, but one of the secrets is simply to start early. Today on the podcast, Joey Sparks joins Adam, and they discuss the importance of planning for big events, like VBS, over the long term.

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4 Traits of a Quality Bible School Program

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I love Bible school. Even though the family is the greatest influence on a child’s Bible education, I believe a great Bible school program can go a long way in building the faith of that child. After all, Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” If a child grows up hearing the word of God through great Bible classes, his faith will grow. What does this mean for the local church? As I stated earlier, it means that the church should stress the importance of strong, faithful families, but, living in the fallen world that we do, it also means that at times a child will not have the benefit of a faithful family. Many children do not have fathers who “train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Many children do not have mothers who are “opening their mouths with wisdom and looking well to the ways of their household.”

The church can fill in the gaps that some families leave. It is important, then, that the church look at these children as a mission field. More often than should be the case, what a child knows about the Bible is only what the Bible school program is teaching. The Bible school program should be of utmost importance, and it would benefit a congregation to ask, “What does a good Bible school program look like?”

Here are four traits to consider when evaluating your Bible school program:

  1. A Bible school program needs to be Bible-based. You would think that would be obvious. The point of Bible school should be learning about… the Bible.
  2. A Bible school program needs to be thorough. Our children need to learn more in Bible class than Noah’s Ark and Joseph’s coat of many colors. I know I’m exaggerating, but very often big gaps are left in a child’s Bible education. Congregations should choose a curriculum that will take the child through the entire Bible. Even a 1st- and 2nd-grade class can be taught that Haggai and Malachi were prophets who prophesied to the Jews who returned from Babylonian captivity. They need to know that the Jews were discouraged and that these prophets encouraged them to keep on rebuilding the temple and restoring worship in Jerusalem.
  3. The journey through the Bible should be chronological. Nothing can be more confusing to a child than to be taught in Sunday morning class about Jesus being born, then be taught in their Wednesday night class about the Israelites crossing of the Red Sea. Staying with a chronological, linear approach will help ensure that the children will understand how the Bible fits together.
  4. There should be some thought given to the psychological development of children. I mean this: In early elementary ages, a child just needs the information (Bible facts). We should just build his Bible knowledge. In the middle school ages, a child is able to think more abstractly. He can learn those same Bible lessons and learn why events took place and why people behaved in certain ways. Then in high school, the focus should be how to tell others about this.

These four points may seem simple, but when evaluating a Bible school program, it is best to start the evaluation with broad, but simply stated areas. I hope these four traits give you something to consider when trying to have a quality Bible school program.

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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

What Will a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul? (Maybe $1.4billion?)

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One-billion-four-hundred-million dollars.

One-thousand-four-hundred-million.

It’s a lot of money. A whole lot of money. An amount of money I cannot fathom having.

It also is the estimated payout for the winning ticket (or tickets) in tonight’s Powerball drawing. In American history, it is the largest single amount ever said to be the winning amount.

And it has a lot of people talking.

Sales of Powerball tickets have exploded. Last weekend, when the jackpot was over $900,000,000, lines of people stood to get a ticket. Sales now are going even higher.

A lot of Christians play the lottery. Many more will jump in at the chance of becoming an instant billionaire (minus the over 50% tax you pay).

But the question we must always ask is this: Is this right?

Jesus asked the question in Mark 8:37, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Of course, the Lord was not talking about the lottery or gambling specifically, but He was making the overriding principle that there should not be anything of this earth–even a breathtaking amount of wealth or power–that is worth more to us than our soul.

With that in mind, we must make the clear statement: gambling is wrong.

Why? There are a myriad of reasons, but consider just a few in this article.

  1. Gambling is putting something of value to chance with no reason. Some say that gambling is just another form of investing. The two can be the same, if one just throws money at “investments” with no research. Gambling, though, has no basis of research. (Well, other than the house always wins.) Thus, it is poor stewardship.
  2. Gambling uses other people. The lottery takes money from some people and gives it to others, with no real basis behind it other than a lucky guess of numbers. As Christians, we are to treat others like we would want to be treated, and we are to be neighborly to all. To put it simply, Christians are to be givers, not takers.
  3. Gambling feeds a corrupt and preying system. Some suggest that they can afford to gamble in the same way they can afford tickets to a movie, play, concert, or ball game. Such may be true, but the entire system of the lottery preys upon those who cannot afford such things, and instead, who pay money for the “hope and prayer” of striking it rich. Almost every study of zip codes in the US shows that people living in the poorest zip codes spend the most on the lottery.
  4. Gambling is fueled by greed. Why else would someone play? Enough said on this one!

Did you realize that the Bible actually warns against the lottery? Okay, maybe not specifically, but the book of Proverbs, on more than one occasion, does warn against those to try to get rich quickly.

  • “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase” (Proverbs 13:11).
  • “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).

I know a lot of people see playing the lottery (or other forms of gambling) as just another form of entertainment. However, when we really understand the basis for the “gaming” industry, it should cause us to think. It simply is not moral, and it leads to greater problems in the long-run.

To put the matter bluntly, if $1,400,000,000 is enough to make you think about compromising your morality, then this world is your home. Don’t sell your soul for something wrongfully gained. Remember the riches of heaven are not measured in dollars in cents, but instead are found in the glory and honor of God, which cannot be counted.

RESOURCES

If you would like to study this subject a little more, here are a few things to help you.

“The Truth About: Gambling” from World Video Bible School [YouTube]

“A $1.4 Billion Jackpot” from The New You

“Where Does the Bible Condemn Gambling?” by Wayne Jackson [Christian Courier]

“Powerball: That Fever You’re Feeling Has a Name: Dopamine” by Natalie Jacewicz and Emily Benson [San Jose Mercury-News]

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

What They Can’t See

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Something happened this week that sent me absolutely reeling. My 11-year-old son was sitting with my wife in the den when she asked him what time it was. He looked across the room to the DVD player to see the digital registry. Then he got up and walked over to it to get a better look and told my wife the time. She said, “Son, could you not read that from over here?” (My wife could clearly read the time on the VCR from where they were both sitting). He said, “Well not really, I could read the seven.”

More questions needed to be asked immediately. I was called into the room to hear what had taken place. We soon learned that our son could not read the words on the board at school if he was not in the front of the classroom. I remember that feeling. I am near-sighted and have glasses. We took him into our kitchen and set him at a distance from a readable picture. He could not read it. I put my glasses on him and suddenly he could read every word. We realized that after eleven and a half years on this earth our son had not been seeing everything there was to see! He is obviously near-sighted like his dad and needs glasses. He is going to the optometrist tomorrow.

There are several things I learned from this experience that have caused me to do a great deal of thinking. First, there is the obvious sadness that my son had been missing out, and that we should have been aware of it and should have done something about it before now. Second, was the reality that he had been subjected to vision screenings in the past but there was not a high enough standard or adequate follow-up testing to detect the problem my son was having. Finally, there was the reflection that there are many children who do not see well, whose parents don’t know it, and who may never even get to be tested or see an eye doctor. These children will likely have uncorrected vision problems for as long as they live.

In a spiritual context, this is our world. Some people will never even know they are missing out on Jesus and His church. They will never know what they are missing because they have never had anyone pay enough attention to them to notice. They may never be approached by anyone who is willing to put them to the test. There may be no physician or means available to help them fix their problem. Sadly they may go their entire lives without the Lord and never know the difference. It may be hard to imagine, but people sometimes spend an entire lifetime in this world without the only vision that matters, the vision of Christ.

When we found out our son was not seeing everything our first order of business was to actively address the problem and provide the solution. It just bothered us that he wasn’t getting what he deserved – an equal opportunity to see for the first time everything we have been seeing all along. We immediately did something about it. We are excited about how this improved vision will affect the quality of his life.

In the same way, there are people out there who deserve to see Jesus. They deserve to behold for the first time what many of us have been enjoying and embracing the whole time. If we understand the beauty of Christ fully, we know that His glory stands far above the most majestic landscapes that human eyes have ever seen. To not see Jesus is to have never completely existed. To not have an opportunity to witness the Christ is to live a life of blindness when there is no reason to remain blind.

I wonder sometimes if it bothers us enough that people have never seen Jesus. If it does, then we will do something about it. We will take them to the doctor. We will buy them glasses. We will rejoice when they finally see what they can’t see!

“And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.’” – Matthew 4:13-16

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Am I a Participant or a Statement-Maker?

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The football team of the University of Alabama will be playing for the national championship tonight. (I can almost hear the “Roll Tides” from some of the readers of these words now.)    

Before the non-sports fans among us quit reading, this post is not about football. It is not really about any sport for that matter.

While the idea came from a quote made by the head coach of the Alabama football team, the application is about a philosophy of life. More specifically, it is about how I see my role as a child of God.

Just after Alabama won the semi-final game, I watched a television interview with their coach. The reporter reminded him that his team has lost the semi-final game last season. He was then asked what the difference was in that game and the game this season which his team had won convincingly. 

I found his response fascinating, interesting, and challenging. He said (and I think this is a direct quote), “Last year, we just sort of participated. This year, we made a statement.”

As I listened to his response, I thought that the first part was basically “code” for: “We just went through the motions last year. Our hearts were not really in it.”

I’m wondering if people who know me see my concept of Christianity as “just sort of participating.” As they observe how I choose to use my time, talents, and energy, does it look to them as though I’m just going through the motions? 

Even if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, is it evident that I am motivated by a sincere love for the Lord and burning desire to please Him? After all, Alabama ran plays, made tackles, and did all of the other things a football team normally does in both games. According to their coach, the difference was in attitude and effort. 

It might be a good idea for all of us to look into the mirror. Much more than an athletic championship is at stake.

In the words of the apostle Paul (who used athletic analogies): “…Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Cor. 9:25, NKJV).

In the final analysis, there is really no such thing as not making a statement with my life. I am making one every day. Others are observing every day. The Lord is observing every day.

What kind of statements are our lives making?

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