Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {September 18, 2014 edition}

It is time for more family links! We hope you enjoy this weekly feature, as we enjoy sharing with you some of what caught our eye over the last few days.

Here’s this week’s slate of family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

3 Practical Ways to Bless Your Spouse {for the family}

Reducing Stress {The Morning Drive}

Is Spanking Child Abuse? {Focus on the Family}

Your Emergency Fund is for More Than Emergencies — Believe It! {ChristianPF}

The Value of Training {National Center for Biblical Parenting}

Our Week in Review

The following were our five most-viewed posts over the past week. These were not necessarily published in the last 7 days; they just drew the most views. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

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

#4: A Response to Victoria Osteen about Worship (September 2, 2014)

#3: Transgender Children’s Book. Surprised? You Shouldn’t Be. (September 17, 2014)

#2: You Do Not Believe (September 16, 2014)

#1: Our Tearful Announcement (September 15, 2014)

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Episode 5 : Our Thoughts on “Smart Money, Smart Kids” {Podcast}

(Audio not working? Click here to listen on the blog.)

Welcome to episode 5 of A Legacy of Faith’s podcast. In this program, Adam and Leah take a few minutes to review their impressions of Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey’s book Smart Money, Smart Kids. We also share how we are not perfect at following these principles, but how the overall message of this book can help you and your family.

LOFpodcast (1)

Our Takeaways

1. Children need to be taught the “opportunity cost” of money. Once they have spend money, they cannot spend it somewhere else.

2. Kids need to learn to work, and that money comes from doing a job well.

3. Help children continue with their natural tendency toward giving.

4. Breaking the cycle of student loans can break the entire cycle of debt in your family tree.

Get the Book

Order Smart Money, Smart Kids from Amazon. ($14.73 hardcover / $9.99 Kindle)

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Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

Next Episode (October 2, 2014): “Teaching Kids about Worship”

Transgender Children’s Books. Surprised? You Shouldn’t Be.

transgender childrens books

A recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece had a fairly provocative title: “Heather Has Two Genders.” The title, of course, hearkened back to the infamous children’s book that clearly announced a new wave of sexual revolution in our society, Heather Has Two Mommies.

Back then, Christians were told to just keep quiet if we said that the homosexual movement was just one step down a path of total revolution. We were right, of course, and we are now reaping the whirlwind.

One sign of that is the constant growth of support for the transgender community. Subtly, “gay” rights was changed to “LGBT” rights (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), as if they were all the same. Our Vice-President, Joe Biden, even stated that “transgender discrimination” is “the civil rights issue of our time.”

Now…and this should come as no surprise…the agenda is moving to indoctrinate your children (and mine). How?

Through story.

Welcome to the new age, where we now have transgender children’s books. Over the next several months, a number of titles (including coloring books) will draw in children to the plight of boys and girls who are struggling with their gender. Some stories will show children “succeeding” in changing genders, while others will draw in your children with stories of a character’s struggle to “overcome” being “trapped” in a biologically assigned gender.

The recent release of I Am Jazz only continued the push of this type of literature, and other titles are planned for the future. Other books already published for children include 10,000 Dresses, When Kayla was Kyle, My Princess Boy, and the book with the most postmodern title possible: Be Who You Are.

Christians can push this off as no big deal, or we can remember a simple fact: stories are powerful.

How often have you been drawn into a film or novel, only to finally “wake up” and realize that what you were drawn into was immoral? As Christians, we have probably all had that experience. (Sadly, some of us refuse to wake up, but that’s another blog post for another day.)

Can you imagine, then, the difficulty children will have to not connect with a well-written story that is clearly pushing an agenda? They may not even be old enough to understand that a boy cannot “naturally” change to a girl (or vice versa), but they will connect emotionally with the struggle or the “success” of the person in the book.

Those who are pushing this agenda know that, if they can plant a seed early in the mind of a child, they will at least cause that child to be more accepting of the behavior later in life. As Christian parents, we simply must be planting a different seed: the Word of God.

It should not surprise us that these books are available and growing in number. Don’t be surprised if (when?) they are made into TV shows or movies. But just because they are being talked about doesn’t mean you have to let your child read the books or watch the programming. You are still the parent, and your job as a Christian parent is to fill your child’s mind with the knowledge and wonder of God.

Oh, and don’t be surprised when Heather has three daddies or five genders. And don’t be surprised when there’s a children’s book about it.

Resources

Heather Has Two Genders” (Wall Street Journal)

Joe Biden: Transgender Discrimination is ‘The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time‘” (Huffington Post)

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You Do Not Believe

you do not believe

It is very peculiar that we as a body of believers are often accused of not believing in certain things. Here is a list of ideas that from time to time people claim about us:

  1. “You are the folks who don’t believe in miracles.” This of course is not true. We believe in every miraculous event recorded in the Bible. We believe that God is omnipotent and that the very universe we live in was formed by His unlimited miraculous power. If we did not believe in miracles, we would have no hope, because the resurrection of Christ was the greatest miracle of all (1 Cor. 15:1-20).
  2. “You are the folks who don’t believe in prophecy.” This of course is not true. We believe in every Biblical prophecy recorded. We believe in the prophecies concerning judgment and eternity yet to be fulfilled. We believe that the prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the incarnate God, who has accomplished His work (John 5:39; Luke 24:44).
  3. “You are the folks who don’t believe in music.” This of course is not true. We believe in every example of musical worship displayed by the New Testament church. We believe that this is the pattern we are obligated to follow (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12).
  4. “You are the folks who don’t believe others are saved.” This of course is not true. We believe “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). We believe “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Ac. 2:38). We believe “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Ac. 4:12). We believe “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

It is not that we do not believe in miracles, prophecy, music, or the salvation of others. It is simply that concerning these we choose to believe God’s commandments, rather than man’s opinion.

“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” ~ Acts 15:11

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Our Tearful Announcement

Yesterday, part of the Legacy of Faith family had quite a few tears to wipe away. Adam and Leah announced that they are leaving Lebanon Road after 6 1/2 years, and moving to fill the pulpit of the 9th Avenue church of Christ in Haleyville, Alabama. Below is a copy of the letter that Adam read to the wonderful people of Lebanon Road.

While they are thrilled about moving to 9th Avenue, sharing the news to people you love so dearly is difficult, and yesterday was no different.

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To Our Family at Lebanon Road,

Solomon wrote, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Sometimes, trying to determine which season it is, and what is best in those seasons, however, is difficult. But, we come to you today with an announcement that we pray is right for this season. After countless hours of prayer, thought, and conversation, I have decided that it is time to move to a different work. With that in mind, I informed our elders last week that I was resigning as the preacher at Lebanon Road. While we will be here for several more weeks, the decision has been made, and we felt the need to announce it publically today, so that the Lebanon Road family could all hear about it at the same time.

Let me say from the outset of this announcement that I hate the timing of this. Today is a highlight for this congregation, and needs to be treated as such. As clearly as I can, let me say this: my decision has absolutely nothing to do with any disagreement with our elders, nor any dissatisfaction with the three being installed today. I trust all 9 of these men, and their great leadership is just one of the many factors that made this decision so difficult. I apologize sincerely for taking away from a day that is wonderful for this congregation.

I also want it to be known that we are not being asked to leave, nor feeling forced in any way. We love Lebanon Road and are happy here. We feel, however, that this decision is in the best interest of the Kingdom of God, and we have agonized in prayer over it.

We do not yet know a date, but we will be moving to Haleyville, Alabama, where I will become the pulpit minister for the 9th Avenue church of Christ. This is the same congregation from which we moved here, though before, I served as their youth minister. The elders of that congregation have confidence that I and my family can use both our experience and knowledge to help them, and we are simply praying that we do not betray that confidence. So, sometime in late November or early December, we will begin our work in Haleyville.

Allow me to make two promises. First, for our remaining time here, we will continue to work hard. While distractions always come in the midst of moving, I will do my best to keep preaching, teaching, visiting, and doing all the other things necessary to be faithful to the Lord’s command to work as unto Him, and faithful to your trust in me as a preacher.

Second, I do not know the process or timing the elders have in mind concerning looking for a new pulpit minister. Whatever process they determine, and whatever timing they determine, I will not stand in the way. If they decide to begin the process while I am still here, I will continue to support our elders and will not be jealous of the pulpit, if they feel the need to have someone else preach. If they decide to wait until we have left, I will honor my word in preaching each Sunday and will continue to pray that the process that is agreed upon in seeking a new preacher is the best.

We love you, and we want you to know that this has been a hard decision to make. In the 78 months I have been the pulpit minister here, not once have I made the first move in looking for a place to move. I’ve never even tried out anywhere…including 9th Avenue. We have tried to be not only as hard-working as possible, but also as dedicated to Lebanon Road as possible. In both, I am certain we have not been perfect, but it has not been for a lack of care or love for you.

As I said earlier, I hate the timing of this, because it puts a damper on an otherwise good day. But we are going to go forward in honoring this congregation and her elders, because they are worthy of honor. We will always honor Lebanon Road, because you stand for the truth and you have been far kinder to us than we could have ever been to you. Your gracious attitude and friendly demeanor have helped us more than you will ever know. About 6 ½ years ago, we moved here, and Lebanon Road became the first congregation which I served as a pulpit minister. We cannot forget how wonderful and gracious you have been, and we pray we have returned that favor to you, along with our thanks.

We simply ask for your prayers, and we hope you know that you will always be in ours.

We love you.

Adam, Leah, Mary Carol, and Turner

Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {September 12, 2014 edition}

Welcome to our weekly family links post! We hope you enjoy all the things to read that we have for you, and that they encourage you this weekend.

But first…

Tomorrow, Jim Faughn and I will be speaking together at a youth rally at Bootheel Youth Camp in Bloomfield, Missouri. We would love to see you there. If you are near that area, here is the Facebook page about the rally.

Now, on to this week’s family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

The Danger of Protecting Our Kids from Unhappiness {We are THAT Family}

Steve Jobs was a Low-Tech Parent {New York Times}

A Note on the Table {A Bible Commentary Blog}

The Target: Young People & Families {Robert Hatfield}

The Value of Correction {National Center for Biblical Parenting}

Our Week in Review

The following were our five most-viewed posts over the past week. These were not necessarily published in the last 7 days; they just drew the most views. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

#5: Momma’s Fresh Peach Pie {Recipe} (August 29, 2014)

#4: I’ll Try it Out Sometime (September 8, 2014)

#3: The ABC’s of a Healthy Home (September 10, 2014)

#2: The Church and Inexpensive Online Technology (September 11, 2014)

#1: A Response to Victoria Osteen about Worship (September 2, 2014)

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The Church and Inexpensive Online Technology

the church and online technology

“Church” and “technology.” Two words that don’t seem like they belong in the same sentence, unless it is “the technology at church isn’t working.”

But in our online world, churches can have a major impact using technology. Yes, it takes a little work. No, it should never take the place of personal, one-on-one conversations and encouragement.

But technology can be a great tool to help spread the message of Christ, both near and far. Still, there are hangups.

Too often, the singular hangup is money. For so many years, anything under the umbrella of “tech” was code for “expensive.” In the last handful of years, though, all that has changed. (After all, how do you think we keep this site going? It’s not from our overflowing coffers!)

In this post, I want to share some ways through which nearly any congregation can flood the internet with good material for very (very) little money.

1. Social Media. In reality, this is the least expensive way to utilize online technology for a congregation. If done well, it can also be highly effective. Considering how many members are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms, why not meet them there? Facebook and Twitter are wonderful tools for building pages that include both information and encouragement. Instagram is a great way to share pictures, as well as cool invitations. All of these are totally free, and just require someone (or several people) willing to keep them up to date. With a little work, these can reach into a community, and show a congregation that is active and encouraging.

2. Podcasting. It is amazing to me how inexpensively a congregation can produce a podcast. If a congregation has a computer that can record sermons digitally, it can literally cost nothing. (Here’s a tutorial on how to do this for free.) For just a few dollars a month (less than $20), a congregation can go all out and make more of a “show” type of podcast (like A Legacy of Faith, for example). Since the world of podcasts is less saturated than blogging, but is growing, this is a great way to get messages out to the world.

3. Blogging. Even if a blog is nothing more than bulletin articles, it is a great way to get Biblical information out. There are several free blogging platforms (Blogger, Tumblr, etc.), or a blog can be incorporated into the church’s website, usually at no additional cost. Again, this takes some dedication, in order to produce new content regularly, but it is a good way to share messages in a bit more relaxed way. (Before you decide to start, though, take a moment and read this quick “before you start blogging” post I wrote some time back.)

4. Website. A church website can be wonderful and cost almost nothing. Hosting fees can be found for less than $10/month (in fact, here’s the hosting site we use for this blog, and it is just $4.95/month for a 3-year commitment), and then anything else you do, cost-wise, is up to you. There are free templates, as well as paid ones. There are free ways to do pictures, graphics, etc., or you can pay for them. Just remember to keep the site up to date!!!

Now, add it all up: Social media (free), podcasting (less than $20/month, and could be free), blogging (free), website (less than $10/month). A congregation can flood the internet with good material for less than $30 each month, and could even do ALL FOUR of these things for less than that, if they chose.

So, here is the question: why aren’t we doing that? In a time when online technology is so inexpensive, the church needs to dedicate itself to putting content online regularly to help people both near and far learn more about the Gospel.

QUESTION: What are some other ways a congregation can effectively utilize online technology for very little money? Share your suggestions in the comments!

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The ABC’s of a Healthy Home

abcs of a healthy home

There are so many traits that a home needs to have in order to be healthy and godly. While not every trait is going to be perfect all the time, if a couple is growing and maturing in the necessary areas, their home will be better for it.

While this is not an exhaustive list, we present to you today the ABC’s of a healthy home.

A is for Acceptance. This does not mean you accept sin, since that is never acceptable. It means that you accept personality differences and quirks.

B is for Be careful what you say. Proverbs 15:1 reminds us that a “harsh word stirs up strife.” The children’s song, “O be careful little mouth what you say” is very good marriage advice!

C is for Commitment. Marriage does not need to be viewed as a contract, because contracts can be too easily broken. Marriage is a covenant, meant to be fulfilled with commitment no matter what the external circumstances might be.

D is for Discipline. It takes both self discipline and the discipline of Scripture to be all that we should be in our homes.

E is for Expect rain. While everything may seem like it is roses and unicorns (or Fudge Rounds and M&M’s) on the wedding day, there are going to be times when difficulties come. Don’t invite them, but expect them. Oh, and prepare for them.

F is for Forgiveness. Christians are commanded to be forgiving people, and that should not just be reserved for “church folk.” Our spouse deserves forgiveness. After all, we have been forgiven in order to forgive others.

G is for God is first. The picture of a triangle is a good one. When husband and wife are individually growing closer to the Lord–at the top of the triangle–they are automatically growing closer to each other.

H is for Hold up your spouse. Lift him or her up in your words, both when they are present and when they are not. Do not berate your spouse, even if he or she is not present.

I is for “I” becomes “we.” When you get married, your pronouns need to change. It is no longer about “I.” It is now about “we” and “us.”

J is for Jump-start your marriage. No matter how good you think your marriage might be, do something to make it better. Read a book (11 recommended titles here). Attend a marriage seminar. Read a marriage blog or article. Listen to a marriage podcast. Go to counseling, just as a “tune-up.” There is always room to grow.

K is for Kick out temptations. If there is something that is tempting you to think things about your spouse that are unhealthy, kick those unhealthy things out. If there are things (or people) who are tempting to be unfaithful, kick them out!

L is for Love unconditionally. Agape love is not just a feeling. It is something that is done with the other person’s best interest at heart. (Sounds a lot like “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer…”)

M is for Manage your money and media. These two things can easily take over a marriage instead of being under control. Neither is bad in itself, but both must be managed, so they can too easily consume your time and energy.

N is for No negative criticism. There is a way to say negative things in a way that still brings encouragement to your spouse. Find it and use it.

O is for Openness. If it is in your mind or on your heart, it is “fair game” to speak about with your spouse.

P is for Prayer. Pray for your spouse, and pray with your spouse. A lot.

Q is for Quit complaining! If you are complaining about your spouse, you need to look in the mirror and ask, “Why did I marry this person?” You made the decision, so quit complaining!

R is for Respect. In words and actions, show the highest levels of respect you can for your spouse. (Husbands and wives need to read Ephesians 5:33 very carefully together.)

S is for Sacrifice. Jesus is our perfect Example, in that He gave Himself for the church. That is the standard, and it needs to shine forth every day in our homes.

T is for Tend your own garden. If you are feeling emotionally attracted to anyone other than your spouse, you need to take care of your own household. Tend your own garden. Put your mind back at home and put your efforts there first.

U is for Unity. “Whatever God has joined together, let not man separate.”

V is for Value. A virtuous wife’s value is “far above rubies” and her husband praises her (Proverbs 31:10, 28). Speak in words that show great value to your spouse.

W is for Watch your calendar. Put family things on your calendar first. Worship times, family devotionals, prayer times, dates with your spouse, and family vacations need to be a priority on the calendar before anything else.

X is for X-ray yourself. If your marriage is not what you might want, don’t just lob criticism at your spouse. Look at yourself and see where you need to improve.

Y is for Yearn for heaven together. Marriage is a wonderful way to help your spouse get to heaven. Long for that together.

Z is for Zealously love the Lord. He must come first, and He will bless your marriage if you put Him as the head of your house.

COMMENTS? Add your thoughts to the ABC’s of a healthy home in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

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Book Review: “Bethlehem Road”

I love the Old Testament book of Ruth. The more I read and study the Bible, the more I find myself drawn to this grand narrative. I also like reading about the book of Ruth, so that I can focus again on the amazing account nestled between the books of Judges and 1 Samuel.

So, when Michael Whitworth wrote a guide to Ruth, I was eager to get it and read it. Simply put, I was not disappointed. As with Whitworth’s other “guides,” Bethlehem Road is a great blend of scholarship and readability that helps the Bible student get the meat of the Word.

Using the death of his own father as the backdrop, this is Whitworth’s most personal volume to date. In the introduction, this tragic story serves to draw the reader in, and then helps transition to the tragic opening of the book of Ruth.

The reader will find that Bethlehem Road helps them gain valuable insight into several customs as well as matters of geography and history that add a great deal of depth to their study. Whitworth, as always, has done his homework and has found several gems that lay under the surface of this great book. One of the major takeaways of this book is the overwhelming sense of God’s providence. The book of Ruth centers on that, and Whitworth makes sure the reader does not miss it.

Divided into four chapter (to coincide with the four chapters of Ruth), the book is a quick read. But do not let the relative brevity of the book keep you away. If you like to study Ruth, the Old Testament in general, or the providence of God, you will find this book to be not only helpful, but delightful.

Pick up a copy here. Read it, and thank me later!

I’ll Try It Out Sometime

I'll try it out sometime

Because of the location of our house and my office, I get to see a lot of high school students walking to or from school. Maybe “trudging” would be a more accurate description — especially in the mornings.

It is not unusual for our paths to intersect when I am walking to or from my office or our house. Every time that happens, I say, “hello,” ask how their day has been, wish them well for the day, kid them about getting smarter every day, etc. I even get a response every once in a while — when they are not too much into the music that is being “mainlined” into their ears.

It happened again recently. I was walking from the house to the office and met a young girl who was walking to school. We exchanged greetings (in spite of the wires hanging out of her ears). I asked her if she lived close by and she said her home was a few blocks away.

It was at that point that I asked her to worship with us. I’m still thinking about her response:

“I’ll try it out sometime.”

The way she shrugged her shoulders and the fact that she had to work her response around yet another bubble she was blowing, didn’t add a great deal of legitimacy to that response. But who knows? Maybe she was serious about “trying us out.” I am praying that she was.

However, at the same time, I’m wondering if her statement is not indicative of how many view the whole concept of religion. For many, it may merely be just something to try out. If it doesn’t “fit,” or suit one’s needs, it can be discarded in favor of something more appealing and satisfying.

The problem with that thinking may, in fact, be found in one word — religion. “Religion,” in itself, is not necessarily a bad word. James wrote in both a positive and negative vein about religion. In the space of two verses, he wrote about a vain, worthless, or useless religion and about a religion that is pure and undefiled.

It is not that the word is bad. What is bad is the thinking that religion is only something we do from time to time.

How about some words that more accurately describe what pleases the Lord? How about words like “commitment,” “servant,” and “sacrifice?” How about the whole concept of Jesus being Lord (with everything that Lordship entails)?

It’s beginning to sound like we’re talking about a lifestyle instead of a fad. It sounds more and more like the purpose of our existence is to please Jesus and glorify Him and His Father instead of pleasing ourselves.

I wonder how many are willing to try that out — all the time.

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