Leslie Stahl may not be well known to those of us who choose to worship on Sunday evenings. That may be due to the fact that she is a regular contributor to the long-running (on Sunday evenings) CBS program 60 Minutes.
Ms. Stahl (she is married, but is one of those thoroughly modern women who does not use her husband’s last name) also appears on other CBS news shows. As the picture of her book cover shows, she is also an author.
Recently, I watched part of an interview with her about her new book. (The interview was not on 60 Minutes, by the way.) As you can see from the picture of the cover of the book, the book is about being a grandparent and how, at least in her mind, that role has changed in recent years.
What you cannot see is the “behind the scenes” story about how the picture was taken. I found that part of the interview to be more fascinating than Ms. Stahl’s views about being a grandparent.
What the picture supposedly shows is a grandmother sitting with two adorable granddaughters who are fascinated with a book. According to Ms. Stahl, that is not what was going on when the picture was taken.
According to her, the older granddaughter was, indeed, fascinated by the book. She posed willingly for the picture.
That was definitely not the case with the younger granddaughter. She was causing all kinds of problems until a solution was found.
The solution was that somebody thought to tape an iPhone into the book!
The smaller child is not reading. She is being entertained! She was, in fact, watching a movie! Instead of connecting her mind with the book and her will to that of her grandmother, she was “connected” to an electronic device.
I’m not so much of an old fogey that I resent and oppose modern technology. I went online to find the picture of the book. I’m typing these words on a computer. I plan to attach this post to an email to send to our son. You may read this on a computer or some sort of digital device. As I see it, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of that.
However, in my mind, there is a danger when entertainment becomes a substitute for some very important things. I have in mind things like true education, interaction with family members and others, and worship. Have you ever noticed that many of us don’t talk about what we think any longer? Instead, we talk about how we feel.
I am not advocating that computers, tablets, or smartphones should be thrown into the trash. I am advocating, though, that these things need to be put aside fairly often in favor of an old-fashioned book.
Read. Think about what you read. “Argue with” what you read. Take notes. Make comments in the margins. Do something besides turning your mind off and a device on.
Maybe we could even expand on this a little. Instead of an email or text message, how about a handwritten note? Instead of Snapchat (whatever that is), how about a phone call? Instead of a Facebook post, how about a personal visit and conversation? Instead of being LinkedIn, how about being “tuned in” to your spouse, your children, your friends, and others as they communicate with you?
How about being connected to the things that really matter instead of things that are of much less importance?
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Entertainment is not bad in itself, but Christians are to be discerning in all they do. How can we, and our families, enjoy entertainment when there seems to be so little of it to be found? Robert Hatfield joins Adam on this week’s podcast to talk about the dangers of entertainment, as well as how to find wholesome forms of entertainment.
The Light Network (homepage)
Arrows in Our Hand (family podcast)
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This is the last week of this presidential election. For the past few weeks, I have heard the candidates speak about all of the world’s problems. I’ve heard their plans for all of our country’s problems. They’ve expressed concern for one area after another, and they’ve laid out the solutions. As I’ve listened, there has been one solution that hasn’t been discussed – Good mothers! So, today I vote for moms.
I vote for moms who take the phone or iPad out of their children’s hands and replace it with a broom. These children will learn how to work hard.
I vote for moms who quit buying everything for their children. These children will learn that if you want something you have to work for the money to buy it.
I vote for moms who quit trying to keep up with the Joneses. Their children will learn that you don’t always have what everyone else has.
I vote for moms who turn the television off and hand their child a history book. Their children will learn to think critically and not just accept what the television tells them.
I vote for moms who once again wash mouths out with soap. Their children will learn to watch their language.
I vote for moms who are not afraid to say, “Because I said so!” Their children will learn to respect authority.
I vote for moms who make sure their children spend plenty of time with older people. Their children will learn to listen to the wisdom of those who are older than them.
I vote for moms who are not afraid to “turn the car around.” Their children will learn that actions have consequences.
I vote for moms who tell their daughters to put some more clothes on. Those girls will learn that they are worth more than their physical appearance.
I vote for the moms who stand at the door until their son opens it for them. Those boys will learn to respect and honor women.
I vote for moms who teach God’s word to their children. Those children will stand firm in the knowledge that God alone is our hope and peace.
And I vote for moms who do these things day after day after day. They will be the strength this nation needs so desperately.
AUTHOR: Leah Faughn
Photo credit: Brett Neilson on Creative Commons
To Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,
We are down now to just a few days until all this campaigning is over. Let me say, first of all, congratulations. I honestly do not know how you hold up, physically or mentally, through these endless weeks of campaigning. It is impressive and shows your dedication to winning this election. But in just a few days, all that will be over. One of you will be our president-elect and will move to the next phase of this process, preparing to lead our nation, beginning in 2017.
I want you to know that I am a Christian. That frames everything I believe, say, and do. I believe the Bible is from God, and it is the only true path to wisdom, peace, and joy.
But this letter may not be going the direction you think it is. I am not going to write about any specific policy or moral issues that you will, no doubt, face, should you win the White House. If you know that I stand firm on the Word of God as my source of beliefs, then you know where I stand on issues of morality.
Instead, I want to say something else that Scripture demands of me, and I hope it gives you some encouragement should you win next Tuesday.
I am praying for you and will do so throughout your time in office. Just as I have prayed in the past for George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barak Obama, so I will be praying for you.
The Bible teaches me that I am to pray for “all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). It does not give an “out” for me if I happen to disagree with something you do in office. Those to whom that command was originally given lived under the rule of Roman emperors, so I am sure they had much with which to disagree, both in matters of policy and morality. Yet still, they were commanded to pray for their leaders.
So, Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump, that is my pledge to you. Whichever of you sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue beginning next year, I will pray for you. That does not mean I will always agree with you, but I will refuse to be disagreeable. Instead, I will take my concerns before the throne of God and seek to honor the office you hold.
Specifically, I will pray…
…that you will seek the wisdom of God on a regular and constant basis throughout your time in office. His book–the Bible–was, is, and always will be the only standard of right and wrong, and the source of wisdom upon which you can always lean.
…for your family. I cannot imagine the stress that being president of our nation must put on a family. Your spouse and your children need and deserve my prayers, and they will receive them.
…for your health and safety. Being president is an honored position, but it is exceptionally stressful and not everyone in the world looks out for your safety. We want you to lead us for the entirety of your elected time with a full capacity of health and goodwill. To that end, I will pray.
…for your faith in God. He is the Source of all authority. Trust Him. Your soul’s destiny beyond this life is worth more than anything else. Please never lose sight of that, even should you win this lofty office.
There can be no doubt that no American will agree with every action you take while you are in the White House. I will certainly disagree with you on some point of policy, some moral action, or something over the next four years.
But I refuse to be one who wears the name of Christ, then runs to social media to run you down. Instead, I will seek to always let my words be gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6), whether spoken, written, or digitized. And I will take my disagreements, as well as my praise for when you do what I feel is best, to the throne of God, always asking Him to work out His ultimate will.
Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton, you have my prayers. In victory or defeat, you have fought hard and have worked hours that most of us cannot imagine.
More than that, though, one of you will lead our nation based on the ballots cast in just a few days. As a citizen, a husband, a father–as a Christian–please know that many of us will be on our knees before God on your behalf. May you draw strength and Godly wisdom from that fact in your time in office.
Good luck next Tuesday, and may God bless whichever of you leads our nation. To both of you and your families, I bid you Godspeed.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
I suppose that it was what some call “a perfect storm” that has prompted this post. Here are some of the elements in that storm.
The gospel meeting we had recently where I am one of the preachers. During this meeting, our son and son-in-law shared the preaching and song leading duties.
That reminded me that neither one of them is a “kid preacher” any longer – if they ever were. Both of them are grown, mature men who are capable of leading people to Jesus. It gave me confidence that the cause of Christ will not suffer when some of us older ones are no longer able to preach. It may, in fact, be in better hands with them than is has been with some of my generation.
The baptism of one of our granddaughters
Her decision to put Christ on in baptism reminded me that our grandchildren are slowly (sometimes all too quickly) becoming responsible and accountable to our Lord. It reminded me that there are still people who have “…an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15).
I don’t need to join the chorus of the cynics who say that there are no people like that any longer and/or that the gospel has lost its effectiveness.
The resignation of one of our deacons
In the nearly sixteen years I’ve been preaching where I am, we have had more changes in our leadership than I care to try to take the time to count.
Some who are now serving were not even members here then. Some who were serving then have gone on to their reward.
My class reunion
I used to look at those pictures in my hometown newspaper of people who had attended the reunion held fifty years after their graduation. I was somewhat surprised that they were still alive.
I found out this year that twenty-one of our graduating class of 158 no longer are. I also found out that none of us look quite like we did in 1966.
The fact that Donna and I are spending more time on the road
We are away from home more in recent years than has been the case in past years. That keeps us away from our home congregation more than has been the case.
All of that adds up to the realization on my part that change is constant. Nothing is ever just like it was.
It also causes me to think about the fact that the cause of Christ does not depend on people or circumstances.
I am grateful to be a part of the “…kingdom that shall never be destroyed…” and “..shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).
SOURCE: Gospel Advocate, Oct. 2016 (page 48)
“We are at war.”
On this day, October 27, in 1962, those words were ones many Americans feared. It was on this date that the Cuban Missile Crisis tensions “reached their height.” [For those in our family who are wondering how I came by this historical knowledge, I can read the Internet, you know.] ☺ Even though I wasn’t alive then, I’m sure had those words–“We are at war”–been reported, people would have paid attention!
That said, on this October 27, in 2016, we are at war. Did that get your attention? We are at war! Not in a physical sense, but in a war that matters much more than who controls a particular piece of land or sea, or who has the largest arsenal in this world. In our recent Gospel Meeting with Jay Lockhart, he reminded that we, as Christians, are at war. He reminded us that our enemy is ever present and determined.
However, our war is not with physical powers. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” I don’t know about you, but I have seen a lot of this darkness in recent days. The Devil is alive and well in America, and we, as Christians need to realize we are at war with him and his influence!
Thankfully, God has not left us defenseless in the world. Second Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, “… the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”.
During this election cycle, I have heard many prayers for our country, our selection of the next leader, our future, and for our country to turn back to God. That is all excellent and, I believe, one of the ways we can fight in the war. But election season is only that – a season; in terms of our thoughts today, it is just one battle.
But we are in a war! I need to be praying daily and taking advantage of that promised Divine power to destroy strongholds Satan feels like he has won. May we ever seek to fortify the castles of our homes, our children’s lives, our churches, and yes, our country. To do that, we must “…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” (Ephesians 6:13).
Fortify our homes with faith, our communities with truth, our children with righteousness, our hearts with the word of God. And “finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10, emphasis mine).
Sound the battle cry!
See, the foe is nigh;
Raise the standard high for the Lord;
Gird your armor on,
Stand firm, every one;
Rest your cause upon His holy Word.
– William F. Sherwin
There is no way to “rightly divide” Scripture and find authorization to use mechanical instruments of music in worship to the Lord. The New Testament simply does not allow us to use them as we worship God. Passages such as Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 and Hebrews 13:15 make that abundantly clear.
There are Christians who are far more qualified to write on that subject than I am. Many are not “schooled” in formal academics, but they know the Bible, and they can show clearly that we are not to use instruments of music as we worship the Lord together.
However, some of those same people do not sing when we worship. They know all the reasons not to use instruments, but they just sit there through the singing. Today, I want us to consider that avoiding singing is just as sinful as adding to our singing.
One of the major arguments against mechanical instruments is that we are adding to a clear command of God, which we simply cannot do. When the Lord tells us to do something, we have no right to add on our own whims and desires to that command.
For example, when the Lord makes it clear that we are to eat unleavened bread and drink the fruit of the vine when we commune, we dare not add any other elements to that sacred supper. And, when the Lord commands us to sing, we dare not add mechanical instruments to such a clear command.
However, if we just sit there while others are singing, is that not taking away from a command of God? I look out at times across a congregation and I see people who can quote more Scripture than I’ll ever be able to, but they are just sitting silently week after week. Such is taking away from God’s commands, and it is sinful. How would those same people feel if, next Sunday, we only served the fruit of the vine in communion? They would be up in arms, since we are taking away from a command! But by their silence in singing, so are they.
Ephesians 5:18 gives the command to Christians to “be filled with the Spirit.” Over the next three verses, Paul gives several ways that we are filled by the Spirit of God.
In that context, one of those ways is “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (v.19). Paul is making it clear that we are filled with the Holy Spirit when we sing to our Lord out of a reverent and worshipful heart.
So, when someone refuses to sing, what is the clear implication? He or she is not being filled by the Spirit. I do not know all that is implied by being filled with the Spirit of God, but I know this: I want to be so filled!
Trust me, I have heard every excuse in the book as to why people do not sing. Now, let me say, I am not talking about legitimate excuses. Some are feeling ill and are doing their best just to show up. Others may get emotional over the words of a song and have to gather themselves. Some may not know a song very well but are doing their best to learn so they can sing it next time (or even on the next verse).
But there are other excuses that are given, and they just do not hold water for one who is to be worshiping the Lord.
I Don’t Like That Song. So what? There are songs that I do not personally like all that much, either. But worship is not about my preferences! If a song honors the Lord and teaches Biblical truth, then I need to give Him my all by uttering those words.
I Don’t Like the Song Leader. Again, there are song leaders who I think do a better job than others, but that man’s ability is not what determines my heart-felt praise to the Lord. Admittedly, I might have to work a little harder if a song leader is truly deficient, but if he is leading songs that speak truth to the Lord, then I need to sing.
I Can’t Sing. What is nearly always meant by this is, “I don’t have a great vocal ability.” There is not a single command for us to have the voice of an opera singer or Broadway star in order to bring praise to the Lord. In fact, the emphasis is on our heart (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), not on the quality of our musical abilities.
“I worship at a church that doesn’t use instruments. I even ‘amen’ the preacher when he really goes after those instrument-using folks. Doesn’t that make me faithful?” Well, in one sense, it does.
But, dear Christian, let me lovingly remind us all that Christianity is about far more than just avoiding what is wrong. It is about lovingly, passionately, and reverently doing what is right.
It does matter, because our Lord requires us to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to [Him], that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name” (Hebrews 13:15). When I just sit and watch as the singing is going on around me, I am being disobedient to a clear command.
And for disobedience, we will be judged.
So, in the words of one of my favorite old hymns, let’s all “Sing, o sing, His praises!”
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn