Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {February 27, 2015 edition}

I know this is going to make me sound really old, but can you believe we are one day from being done with two months of this year already? We are just one day from finishing February and beginning March. Just amazing.

As usual, we have a great group of family links for you this week, and we hope you enjoy each one!

By the way, it is just by coincidence that three of the posts this week are lists of 10. I like lists, but that’s a bit odd. Oh well.

On to the family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

What Moms Should Teach Their Sons to Look for in a Girl AND What Moms Should Teach Their Daughters to Look for in a Boy {Daily Bread}

10 Ways to Push Your Spouse Away {Mark Merrill}

10 Simple Ways to Show Your Husband You Love Him {for the family}

I Want My Daughters to Know what a Real Woman Looks Like {We are THAT Family}

The 10 Best Compliments You Can Give Your Wife {Nurturing Marriage}

From the Twitter Timeline

These posts are not necessarily about family, but we shared them throughout the week on Twitter. If you missed them then, we hope you enjoy them now!

Enthusiasm is Contagious! {Preacher Pollard}

How to Read Your Compass {Life and Favor}

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily written during the last seven days, but they drew the most views in that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (July 5, 2013)

#4: The Burden of Truth (February 24, 2015)

#3: A Beautiful Home (February 23, 2015)

#2: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

#1: 49 Reasons to Give Thanks Today (February 25, 2015)

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Episode 20: Are You Bouncing Your Eyes? {Podcast}

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All February, we have been spending our time thinking about love, especially in marriage. In this final and short podcast, we share one very practical way to show love and respect to your spouse, even if your spouse is not nearby.

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Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

49 Reasons to Give Thanks Today

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“If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments,

we would all be much happier.” –John Wooden

The news seems to spread nothing but fear and dread, but Christians need to count their blessings.

In case you need help with that, today’s post simply offers 49 reasons to give thanks today, no matter what might be going on in your life or in the world. Enjoy!

1. God is still on His throne.

2. The blood of Jesus continues to provide salvation.

3. The Bible is still the infallible light for your path.

4. You are able to read this post.

5. God hears every prayer you offer in faith.

6. Today provides another opportunity to bless someone’s life.

7. Someone, somewhere is praying for you.

8. There are still people who stand for the right and will not cower in fear.

9. You live somewhere that has the technology to read this list.

10. There is something to eat near you.

11. You get to choose how to react to your circumstances.

12. You are not a robot, but have emotions to respond to each day.

13. God still keeps His promises.

14. Heaven is real.

15. Somewhere, a soul is being reached through the prayerful work of a friend.

16. There are still elders who stand for the truth.

17. A child was just born instead of aborted.

18. You can look out your window and see proof of God’s creative handiwork.

19. Jesus died just for you…

20. …but He didn’t stay in the grave!

21. A missionary is teaching someone you’ll never meet, at least on this side of eternity.

22. Whether you think so or not, you are loved.

23. You are able to process information and make decisions.

24. You can read the Bible in any number of ways (paper, online, on a tablet, on your phone).

25. Your Father in heaven is longing to hear from you in prayer.

26. Repentance.

27. Mercy.

28. Forgiveness.

29. Grace.

30. God has promised to be with you throughout life.

31. You have all you need to fight the devil.

32. Oh, and he has already lost!

33. You can learn from the past.

34. You have an opportunity today to mend a broken relationship.

35. Laughter.

36. Though people are crying, they are assured the loved one they just buried is safe in the arms of Jesus.

37. A preacher is toiling over a sermon that may not make the “all time best” list, but will teach truth to one who needs to hear it.

38. Jesus Christ nailed the Old Testament to the cross.

39. The invitation of Jesus to come to Him is always open.

40. Many parents are still teaching their children morality.

41. Somewhere, a Christian politician is standing for Biblical morality.

42. Christian teachers refuse to teach evolution and are holding to truth.

43. Thousands of young people are still living for God and will impact this world for good.

44. The book of Acts shows us that, even should persecution come, the Church will flourish.

45. You are still breathing.

46. Genesis 1:1 is still true, so you can know where you came from.

47. If your hope is in Christ, your life is secure.

48. Faith can see you through anything.

49. This list could go on and on and on and…

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The Burden of Truth

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There is such a thing as the “burden of truth.” Such is not to be confused with the “burden of proof” – which is defined as, “A duty placed upon a civil or criminal defendant to prove or disprove a disputed fact.” There is a similarity, however, between the two.  Both are equally tied to a specific responsibility. Both involve a burden, a job that must be accomplished necessitated by the weight of the circumstance. And yet temporary legal matters are not really to be compared with matters of eternal consequence. The existence of divine truth combined with the knowledge of that truth places a monumental burden upon every individual. In the time each person lives on earth, each person has to deal with the truth.

Christians are those who have come to the knowledge of the truth, and that truth has made them free from sin and death by their obedience to the gospel (John 8:31-32; 2 Thess. 2:13). This places them in a new category. They are in a saved state, they have been separated from the world, and now they have a mission to commit that which they have been given to others. While for all people the first part of the burden of truth comes with accepting it and obeying it, an equally important second part of the burden begins when a person becomes a disciple of Christ. They now have something everyone else needs. They now have a responsibility to share it.

One identifying mark of Biblical Christianity is that sincere children of God recognize and feel the need to share what they have. Sadly, there are too many people who claim Jesus who feel no such responsibility. They go from day to day and they are not concerned about the spiritual state of the world. Some “don’t want to get involved.” Some “don’t want to tell anybody what to do.” Others “don’t want to be controversial.” And yet Jesus Christ was and still is the most radical and controversial individual in the history of the universe. What people do with Jesus is going to determine where they will spend eternity. Heaven and hell are set upon a person’s response to Christ.

This is where a Christian feels the burden of truth the most. As a preacher, some days it is hard to get out of bed to a world that is lost in sin and darkness. It is hard to preach for years and watch people stand at the invitation song and look at the ground. Can you imagine how it must have been for our Savior while here on earth, to daily experience the rejection of His own people when all He wanted to do was deliver them? Luke’s gospel presents Jesus on His final entrance into Jerusalem just before His crucifixion, weeping over the city at a distance (Luke 19:41). They would not listen. They would not accept help. They did not want or love or believe in the truth.

The burden also involves the understanding that although everyone is dying from the same disease, you are one of the few who have received the vaccine. What’s more is that you have access to an endless supply of that same, life-saving vaccine, and yet there are people all around you who refuse to allow it to flow within their veins. You know you are slowly watching them die, because the only way the cure can be administered is for each individual to agree to it. This is why every time even one person obeys the gospel there is joy in heaven and in the church. One more person who was certain to die will now have life because they finally allowed for the truth to have its way.

Each day I live here on earth, the burden of the truth reminds me that this world is not my home. Millions are dying without the gospel. This is so hard to take. This reality to me is the saddest thing I can ever know or understand.

I am thankful that, though I am imperfect, the grace of God has been extended to me through the preaching and communication of the Bible. You see, the Bible is the truth. There is no other truth (John 17:17). There is no other way (John 14:6).

Though free from the slavery of sin and death, I now carry on my heart and in my mind and in my life the burden that comes with knowing of God’s eternal plan. And so I press on, imperfectly preaching the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), looking to that day when those who love and obey the gospel will fly away to be forever unburdened, because they have believed and obeyed the truth.

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:3-4

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A Beautiful Home

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On the 75th anniversary of my parents’ wedding day, I posted something on Facebook about the significance of that day to me. I really didn’t expect a lot of comments about that. I was just thinking about them and wanted to remember that day.

I have a cousin who is quite a bit younger than me. In fact, he is enough younger that he was in high school when I taught at that high school. His father and my mother were siblings. As I remember it, we did not really spend that much time together.

However, there must have been enough time spent that my parents made an impression on him. It was, as you will soon read, a very favorable impression.

His was the first of only two comments about my post. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing what he posted with you:

What an awesome tribute to aunt Jenny and uncle Delmar.  I have memories of visiting their beautiful home as a child.  I was young, but my memories say love & safety” (emphasis mine, jf).

“Beautiful” was not a word I would have used to describe that house when I was growing up. It is not a word I would used to describe it now. When I first read my cousin’s remark, I thought that the years must have clouded his memory.

It took me a second or two, but it occurred to me that my cousin did not use the word “house.” Instead, he used the word “home.” 

He may not have intended to say anything significant by using that word. I don’t know. I think that, whatever his intentions were, he expressed something very significant. 

We did not have any of the things that many people think to be necessary for a beautiful house. It was not constructed with beautiful brick. In fact, it was constructed with a material that my dad had to “patch” from time to time. We had only one bathroom with only a tub (no shower). The furniture was far from new. The kitchen was not much bigger than one of the many closets found in many houses today. There was no central heat and air. In fact, during all the years I lived there,  the “air-conditioning unit” was a window fan.  

I think you get the idea. There was not much about that house to make it special.

However, things like love and safety go a long way in making for a special and a beautiful home. I’m glad I got to grow up in an environment like that.

Maybe three words from my cousin’s comment could serve as a challenge to all parents. Your children will, indeed, have memories of how they grew up.  Will they remember material things, or will they remember things like love and safety?

Will they remember a house or a home?

—–

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {February 20, 2015 edition}

If you have not been online much lately, let me give you a quick update from seemingly every person on Facebook: “Brrrr.”

Now, you are caught up with all the news!

This week, before getting to our family links, we want to say “Thank you” to our Patreon supporters! Those who pledge at least $5 each month to our work at A Legacy of Faith get their name mentioned in a Friday post at least once each month. This is the first installment of that practice, and we are thankful to have two who are supporting us at that level.

They are Debby Hallman and Janis Taylor. From all of us at A Legacy of Faith, thank you, thank you, thank you!

With those thank you’s in view, let’s share this week’s family links!

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

How to Communicate Better with Your Spouse {Mark Merrill}

50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They’re 12 {Common Sense Media}

Raising Kids in the Age of Anything-Goes-Sex, Terror & Religious Persecution {We are THAT Family}

5 Tips to Help Keep Your Marriage Spark Alive {for the family}

Your Kids Will Go Where You are Not {Active Digital Parenting}

Keeping it Real While Practicing Hospitality {Of the Hearth}

Fighting for Your Marriage {Mark’s Writings}

3 Ways to Ensure Your Spouse is Feeling the Love {Nurturing Marriage}

When You Worry about Your Children {for the family}

From the Twitter Timeline

These posts were not necessarily family-related, but we found them encouraging and useful enough to share on Twitter. If you missed them on Twitter, we hope you enjoy them now.

50 Shades of Rationalization {Root Downward, Fruit Upward}

Disturbed {Preacher Pollard}

Managing Stress and Anxiety {Life and Favor}

Why You Need to Stop Trying to Feel God’s Presence {Radically Christian}

Control {Ancient Words}

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily written during the last 7 days, but they drew the most views in that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Why Did Jesus Ask Three Times? (February 17, 2015)

#4: Suit and Tie Sunday? (February 10, 2015)

#3: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

#2: Dear Christians, Are We Showing Honor to Our Leaders in Government? (February 18, 2015)

#1: May I Ask My Social Media Friends a Favor? (February 16, 2015)

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Episode 19: 5 Ways to Show Respect to Your Spouse {Podcast}

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In the month of February, we are focusing our podcasts on marital love. This week, Adam and Leah share five ways you can always show respect for your spouse. We hope you find this discussion encouraging and helpful for your marriage.

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The Five Ways

1. Listen Carefully

*Seek to understand.

*Listen if you are not that interested in the subject matter.

*Remember the importance of nonverbal cues, such as body language.

2. Always speak well of your spouse.

*Even if he/she is not present!

*Be honest if he/she has weaknesses, but choose respectful ways to discuss those.

3. Remember important dates.

*Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc.

*Could also be dates of loss (when a mother or father or child died)

*Putting these on your calendar shows a priority to the emotions of your spouse.

4. Never read or view any kind of pornography.

*Doing so shows a disrespect for your spouse in more than just sexual intimacy.

*It makes you think that someone is at least his/her equal, if not greater, than your spouse in an area of marriage that is clearly restricted to the oneness of the union.

5. Consider each other’s feelings and knowledge when making decisions.

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Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

Dear Christians, Are We Showing Honor to Our Leaders in Government?

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Christians live in a time when it seems as though virtually every decision made by leaders in government, especially in higher levels of government, is against them. What are described as “traditional values” are mocked and trampled down, and the Bible is given a token reference at best.

Add to that the age of cynicism in which we live. We are told to trust no one, so we don’t. We nitpick and fault-find to justify not trusting any so-called leader.

Throw the instant nature of sharing information into the mix and you have a serious situation. We can easily hit “share” on any article and it jumps on our Facebook page or Twitter timeline. We can leave comments on blog posts or throw in our thoughts virtually instantaneously on social media.

All of that, though, can lead to a problem. It is when Christians fail to show honor to whom we are commanded to show honor.

I fully understand how we can get frustrated, angry, and upset at various policy decisions. The undertow of immorality and anti-God sentiment seems to only get stronger. Christians in a free country have the ability and right to speak out for what we believe in, and we should exercise that right.

However, we are ultimately governed by the laws of God, which means I cannot just say “anything” in any fashion and be justified in doing so. And that is where, I fear, we often fail.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament make it clear that governmental leaders are not perfect, but are to be honored.

Exodus 22:28: “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”

1 Peter 2:17: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (KJV, “king”).

Romans 13:1-2: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

In each of those passages–one from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament–there is a clear connection between God and governmental leaders. I just wonder if we make that connection in how we speak about our leaders.

Does that mean that Christians are to just follow whatever the government tells us to do? Of course not. The overriding principle is still to “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).

But part of obeying God is how we speak of others, including our governmental leaders. God has made it clear throughout the pages of Scripture that even bad governments sometimes are used to do His ultimate will. (If you don’t believe me, just spend a little time with the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk.)

Still, due to our freedoms, we are able to speak out when something goes against the ways of the Lord. That said, there is a way to speak out against a policy or decision that we feel is unbiblical without dishonoring the leaders.

As I read through Facebook and Twitter, I see people calling our president names like “idiot,” “buffoon,” and other derogatory terms. I see Christians selecting certain politicians and making fun of their physical appearance in extremely derogatory terms. I have even seen Christians say that they wish a particular leader would just die (or, maybe even more horrific, be assassinated).

Is there any way we can say such things and claim to be following the will of God toward our governmental leaders? Somehow, difficult as it might be, we must be willing to separate the way we speak out for or against policies from the way we speak about the policy-makers.

We must always remember that both Peter and Paul wrote in a time when the Roman Empire was ruling. Peter’s first epistle (quoted earlier) was written in a time when Christians were already going through persecution, and he made it clear that it would get worse. Paul wrote the book of Romans when none other than Nero was sitting on the emperor’s seat in Rome. If anyone had reason to disagree with governmental policy, it was these early Christians. Yet, there is a deafening silence at it pertains to speaking out cruelly toward the leaders themselves. Instead, Christians were called to honor them! How much more true should that be in a time when we are far more free than many of our First Century brothers and sisters?

Look at this verse and see if it describes how you talk or write about our governmental leaders: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as it good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Or how about this one: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).

Solomon, himself a leader in government, gave us the well-known proverb, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

So, before you type out that comment on Facebook, click the comment button the blog, or hit “send” on that email to your Congressperson, maybe you need to think twice. Are you speaking out clearly and passionately about an issue while remaining Biblical, or are you speaking cruelly about our leaders in government in a way that goes against the will of God?

Christians must always do the will of God, even in times when it may not be easy. Are you? Am I?

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Why Did Jesus Ask Three Times?

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Last weekend was a “lovely” weekend. Valentine’s Day always sparks the thoughts of love and relationships. You think about the people who love you and the ones you love. You celebrate these relationships in some way.

On the shoreline of Tiberias our Savior had this topic in mind. He had been resurrected, and had appeared 6 times to different people or groups according to the Scriptural record. A seventh appearance, the third among His disciples, is recorded in John 21. In this episode the apostle Peter and six of the other disciples had gone fishing in Galilee. They had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus shows up, and similar to their initial fishing encounter, their luck changes (see Luke 5:1-11).

After eating breakfast, probably off from the rest of the group, Jesus asked Peter a very personal question, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He addressed Peter as He did upon the apostle’s confession of His Messiahship (Matthew 16:16). The “these” of this verse could mean the other disciples, or perhaps the fishing business – “Simon do you love me more than you love all of these other things.” Jesus could have also been asking, “Do you love me more than the others love Me?” Peter had claimed such in the past (Matthew 26:31-35).

Peter said, “Yes.” He loved Jesus. But Jesus asked again. And again the reply was, “Yes.” And then a third time Jesus asked. A third time the answer from Peter was, “Yes.” But by this third time Peter was grieved in his spirit that Jesus was asking the question. This leads the reader to wonder, why did Jesus ask three times? And why was Peter hurt by the end of the conversation?

In the Greek language there are several words for “love.” In this text two different words are used. “Agapao” is the verb form of love that means – “love of the intellect, a disposition that manifests itself in devotion to the object of its interest.” It is the love of the mind and will. It is a calculated disposition of regard and pious inclination. It is the love of admiration and action. Agapao is the highest form of love – it is the love of God.

A second word for love, “Phileo,” is also employed in this discussion. Phileo is – “closeness, warm and spontaneous affection, prompted by a sense of emotion.” It deals with feelings that come from instinct that well up inside a person because of a connection that may be gained or felt through close association. It is the genuine bond of friendship.

When Jesus asked the first two times, He used the word, “Agapao.” “Peter, do you love me with the love of God?” Both times Peter answered with the word, “Phileo.” “Jesus, you know that I love you as a friend.” The third time Jesus asked with the word, “Phileo.” “Peter, do you love me with the love of a friend?” Peter again answered with the same word a third time. “I have fond affection for you.” Grieved in his heart, he affirmed this secondary kind of love.

While many have speculated as to the reason for this question being ask three times (including maybe this was Peter’s opportunity to make up for his 3-fold denial), it seems that the answer lies in the reality that Jesus was challenging the depth of Peter’s love. He was calling him to a higher level of devotion. Peter had claimed many things (Matthew 26:31-35) – including a promise to be put to death for Jesus’ sake. Jesus was testing his allegiance. The fact was that Peter was grieved because he could not at this point boast of a love and devotion to Jesus with the confidence he once had.

Jesus went on to tell Peter, the one He called “the little stone,” that he would indeed prove his love for Jesus through his own death. History alludes to this reality. Peter was crucified for His crucified Savior. Peter did love Jesus with the love of God.

If the resurrected Christ were to walk beside us today, it is likely He would want to ask the same question. Do we love Him supremely? Do we love Him with the love of God? Are we willing to prove it?

How many times would He have to ask you? What would your answer be?

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May I Ask My Social Media Friends a Favor?

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How long is your list of social media outlets that you use? I know I can’t list all of the options out there. I’m not even sure what most of them are. 

My experience is limited to Facebook (and very occasionally) Twitter. That’s it for me. 

That’s enough for me. I see enough on Facebook to prompt me to write these words. I would sincerely like to ask my friends who use Facebook and other things like it to do me (and others) a favor:

If you wear the name “Christian” and you choose to do something other than attend a worship service or Bible class, please do not let the world know about that on Facebook or any of the other ways of sharing “news.”

Before you let the world know that something (sitting at home, a ball game, a movie, a night out with friends and/or family, etc.) is more important to you than worshiping God and studying His Word, you might want to ask yourself some questions.  Here are just a few that come to mind:

Does it bother you that the elders are concerned about what your choices say about your devotion?

Do you really want to see yet another preacher “throw in the towel” because of discouragement?

What if a person you had invited to worship or Bible study was there, but you were not?

What do your choices say to your friends and loved ones about your priorities?

What message is being sent to the people who would love to see you in one of those worship services or Bible classes?

Where would you want to be should the Lord decide to return during a time set aside for the saints to assemble where you are a member?

I fully realize that my request and these questions may jeopardize some of my friendships, social and otherwise. I’d rather jeopardize a friendship, though, than to have a friend jeopardize his or her soul.

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