Category Archives: Family

6 Ways to Encourage Your Children to be Readers

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Let me say at the outset: when I was a young person (especially a teenager), I did not like reading. I think it was because in school we “had” to read certain books. I’m glad for that experience now, but I didn’t like it at the time.

Today, Leah and I both love reading. We try to find books all the time and add them to our shelves. And we want our children to be readers. They both are, to an extent. Of course, some kids will enjoy reading more than others. That’s to be expected, and it is okay. We firmly believe, though, that reading is a major key to their future.

We believe that first and foremost because God’s will is revealed in a book–the Bible–that must be read and followed if we are to be found faithful.

But we also believe that because virtually every occupation requires reading if one is to be successful. So, we heavily stress reading in our home. Here are some simple things you can do to encourage your children to be readers.

1. Have Lots of Books in the House. You don’t have to have a house where every nook and cranny is filled with books, but studies prove that houses that have more books have children to enjoy reading more. Get lots of books on things that interest them. Visit used book stores, yard sales, and utilize the internet to get books for very little money. We rarely buy a new book (unless it is for a birthday or Christmas gift), choosing rather to get three or four used books for the same money. Put the books in visible places and just let the kids migrate to topics that interest them.

2. Be a Reader Yourself. Example is a powerful teacher. If you are always telling your kids to read while you are watching TV, they will rarely develop a love for reading. But if they see you open the Bible, a novel, or a good history book on a regular basis, they will be curious as to why you find those “book things” so interesting.

3. Read to Your Children. A parent reading to a child creates a positive experience around books and reading, making it more likely that the child will want to read for him or herself. After all, what little kid does not want to be like mom and dad? So, if “big people” read to children, then don’t be surprised to find your daughter reading to her dolls or your son reading to his stuffed animals. That’s fantastic!

4. Be a Regular at the Local Library. My wife is great about taking our kids to the library and letting them read there, as well as check out books to bring home. Libraries, in many places, also offer special reading programs for children that are a great to let them connect with other children who enjoy reading and stories. (And the books are free!)

5. Let Them Write Their Own Stories. Kids need to learn that these great stories do not just come from thin air, but someone had to write them down, and it was a difficult process! By writing their own stories, they see just how much work–but fun work–goes into making those great stories they like to read.

6. Expect Them to Read. This is huge. What parents expect and hold their children accountable for will get done. I don’t think we necessarily have to have a “required reading list” (although that’s not a bad idea at times), but simply expecting children to read a book each week, or a short story book each day, is a great thing for parents to do. It does not need to be harshly enforced, but a stated expectation helps the child see that reading is a regular part of life.

Now that you are done reading this post…go read something…to your kids!

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Episode 28: Children, Obey Your Parents in the Lord {Podcast}

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Today marks the final episode in our April emphasis on “What an Ephesians Home Looks Like.” After considering the Biblical role of wives and husbands, today Adam and Leah discuss Ephesians 6:1-4, and the role that children play in making a home what it should be.

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Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

(Photo credit: Pixel Pro Photography on Creative Commons)

While We Can

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James wrote, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). As we age we realize the truth of this statement. It reminds us there are certain things we must do while we can.

1. We must love our parents while we can. The lyrics to a song with this sentiment say it best:

They tied our shoes, took us to school, patched our worn-out jeans. They soothed our tears and calmed our fears, and listened to our dreams. Somewhere along their golden years, their hair has lost its sheen. The notes to hymn one-hundred-ten crackle when they sing. And now they are alone, no children’s voices fill their empty homes. We must love them while we can, we must love them while we can. For time just seems to hurry by, and the days slip into years. And the moments that we have will disappear. So love them while we can.

Those who care for aging parents deal with frustration, challenges, and loss that no one else can understand. It often leaves them feeling that they just can’t take anymore. But the time will soon come when their parents will be gone and they will miss them. They deserve love today. We will regret not showing them the love they have shown for us. We must love them while we can.

2. We must teach our children about God while we can. Other lyrics to the song go as follows:

“The folks who taught us our first words, still have much to say. The silver secrets of the world, lie beneath those crowns of gray. As they approach the end, we change our role from children to best friend.”

The relationship we have with our children constantly changes. One minute they take first steps and the next minute those steps are leading them right out the door. Ball games and school projects, sleepovers and birthday parties, family vacations and back-to-school nights…they all fill this precious time we have with our children. But our pinnacle task is to use the moments we have been given with our young children to help them to know the Lord and His word.

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It is not in the leaving but rather in the lack of training wherein we lose our children to the world. We must teach our children about God while we can.

3. We must obey the gospel while we can. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 describes the coming of Christ and His judgment on the lost: “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What does it mean to obey the gospel? The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-3). Paul wrote, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3). The Bible teaches that we contact the saving blood of Christ through immersion in water, because of our repentant faith and confession that Jesus is the Son of God.

We can shuffle our feet all we want to. We can debate about our lack of our perfection, doubt our commitment, or argue about the plan. But if we do not obey the gospel, we will lose our eternal souls. Death will come in a moment, and it is unlikely that we will know the hour of its arrival. We must obey the gospel while we can.

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:16

“For man also does not know his time…” – Ecclesiastes 9:12

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Episode 27: Husbands, Love Your Wives

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The month of April continues, and we continue to look at the book of Ephesians. This week, Adam and Leah discuss what it means for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. We hope you enjoy this practical discussion of a very important text.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 4.39.55 PM

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——————

Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

(Photo credit: Pixel Pro Photography on Creative Commons)

Singing in the Dents

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Several years ago on a Wednesday evening after Bible class, I was sitting with my young son Luke over in the wing of the church building. We were singing, and as we sang (he was still learning to read) we kept our fingers in the songbook in order to follow the words. I remember that he was picking the words up so quickly and I can recall feeling that there was no other thing that could please me more than to hear my child sing to the Lord.

Later that evening when we went to bed, I was reading a Bible story to him. (This had become our custom every night right before he went to sleep). In the middle of reading Luke interrupted me and said, “Daddy, when I am big like you I am going to sing in the dents.” It took me just a few seconds, but I realized he was talking about the notes that follow the melody down in the bass clef when the sopranos aren’t singing. It takes a deeper voice that knows those particular parts of the song to “sing in the dents.”

As I get older, I think more and more about what legacy I may be leaving to my children. Trials of life and the uncertainty of the future keeps these thoughts ever nearer to my mind and heart. And even if it is something as simple as “singing in the dents,” it brings me great joy that when Luke wants to be anything like his father, it has do to with spiritual things. Incidentally, now that is he is fourteen he is doing a pretty good job down there in the dents.

Parents, please, please teach your children about God. Turn off your electronics and put away your phones for a while and open His word. Sing about Him and pray to Him with your children. Sing aloud in the assembly, whether you think your voice is good or not. Leave a legacy to your children that will reach into eternity in a positive way. Your decisions, though seemingly small, are the difference makers in your children’s future in the Lord.

The time that our children will be in our home is very short. Ask an empty nester. They could tell younger parents a great deal about the things that really matter. They know that the church of the future is counting on families to do a better job in emphasizing the spiritual aspects of our lives in Christ than what we have done in the past. Somebody once observed – “The reason why the church loses 50% of its young people to the world is because it has never had 50% to lose in the first place.” The point is simply that 50% of the parents have never been truly converted to Christ! If this is the case, what are we supposed to expect from the kids?

My heart is full when I see young people who desire to know the Lord. I am excited to see their parents bring them to Bible class, Lads to Leaders, Bible Bowl, and other events with the brethren. I understand what this can mean for them on earth and in heaven. And I look forward to the time when all the saints will praise God for eternity in everlasting peace with God the Father, Son, and Spirit. It is my earnest and fervent prayer, that others yet unreached by the gospel will also be there – where my son and I, by the grace of God, and according to our obedience, will be forever, “singing in the dents.”

“Time is filled with swift transition. Naught of earth unmoved can stand.

Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”

~ Jennie Wilson

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Episode 26: Wives, Submit to Your Own Husbands {Podcast}

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In April, we are thinking on the podcast about the book of Ephesians and what an “Ephesians home” looks like. This week, Leah joins Adam for a short discussion on one of the more controversial passages in the Bible. Paul told wives to submit to their own husbands. What does that mean? How can that be done? Listen in on this important conversation in this week’s podcast.

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More from A Legacy of Faith

To subscribe to A Legacy of Faith by email for free (and get a free eBook) click here.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

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Visit the show archives

——————

Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

(Photo credit: Pixel Pro Photography on Creative Commons)

5 Steps to Family Financial Freedom

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Do you ever feel like your money controls you instead of the other way around? If you are like most Americans, you probably have felt that way (and many of you probably still do).

Handling money is not easy. Oh, it sounds easy, but actually doing it properly takes both focus and discipline. Trust me, I may be writing this post, but that does not mean I/we are perfect at any of this stuff! This is one of those “I need it as much as anyone else” type articles.

You are not going to read anything in this post that will turn a light bulb on in your head. Everything here you have heard before. However, actually doing these things will help you walk toward real financial freedom. It may take time, and there will certainly be roadblocks along the way, but these 5 steps are necessary if you want to take control of your money, and do so for God’s glory, over time.

1. Have a Detailed Monthly Budget. One of our most-viewed posts ever on this site deals with writing a budget (you can read it here), but those who think about each month and pay attention for that month–every month–are more likely to win over time. Some months will be tight, while others will be easier, but treat each month as a separate entity and you will see some progress over time.

2. Spend Less than You Make. We all know this, but how many of us just do not follow it? There are so many ways to overspend, and many of us figure we can out-earn our spending. Instead, just do what your grandmother said: Live within your means. Then, be wise with the extras!

3. Get Out of Debt. How much money would you have if you weren’t paying a car loan, student loan, home equity loan, and credit cards? Now, is debt sinful? No. But to load yourself down with debt is unwise. The best way to handle debt is to avoid it if at all possible, and to get out of it when you have it as quickly as possible. We recommend Dave Ramsey’s “Debt Snowball,” but the key is to have a plan that frees up those debt payments to do other things, and then to follow that plan relentlessly! (It worked for us!!!)

4. Be a Generous Giver. It seems counterproductive, but those who truly win with money know how to be generous in their giving. If you are generous, you may never be super rich, but you will truly be free with money because you will have the proper attitude toward money. Additionally, it is quite amazing how so many times, those who learn to give also become recipients of more. That should never be our motivation, but it does happen quite often.

5. Save before You Spend. Save for emergencies. Save for big purchases (cars, furniture, vacations, etc.). Save for retirement. Save for college. Before you do any spending with your money, set some aside for the future. This helps you plan for the future while also keeping your spending more in check.

As we said, none of these is all that deep. You know all of them. Doing them over time, though, is what will help you and your family know true financial freedom, whether you ever have a ton of money or not. You see, real financial freedom is not a dollar amount; it is an attitude toward the financial blessings God has given.

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Where the Grass is Greener

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If you have been married for any length of time you have had moments of unhappiness. Remember, your vows predicted it: in SICKNESS and in health, for richer or POORER, for better and for WORSE. Every marriage is going to be a struggle. Sometimes when the struggles are prolonged people began to think about getting out.

Across the fence they see pasture, that is, greener grass. They see a friend or co-worker of the opposite sex who listens to them. They see this person in all their good moments. They don’t see their bad attitudes. They don’t have to live with their bad choices. They don’t see them when they are unattractive. They only see them in the sunshine.

If it is not another person that people see, perhaps it is the peacefulness of the field. No more fighting. No more rejection. No more animosity. Married folks began to think that no spouse would be better than a spouse they have learned to loathe. They think the peaceful field is easy. They don’t see the forest just beyond that field which they must later pass through. They forget how much they need someone to hold their hand.

If you are married, I want you to know that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. You made a commitment before God and many witnesses that God wants and expects you to keep. Your co-worker or close friend is not your spouse. Though different, they have just as many problems and weaknesses. If you hop the fence you will find the ground muddier than you thought it would be.

The grass is actually greener on your side. If it is not, it is because you have not cultivated it as you should. Think about it. You can only work the ground on your side. You can only plant anew on your side of the fence. God will help you to grow what you have sown. He can change the soil. He can do what you think is impossible in your field if you let Him.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5 that married couples are one flesh, and that they should nourish and cherish their relationship. This means submission to one another in the fear of God. This means learning to be unselfish. This means making sacrifices like Christ made for the church. This means the washing of water by the Word.

If we will search deep within ourselves and look at our spouse again in the love of our vows, we will remember where our happiness has its brightest hope. We will remember why we said, “I do,” and we will find even more reasons to say, “I still do.” In reality, marriage has nothing to do with the grass being green. Marriage is more about knowing that there is something special happening underneath the soil that only a husband and wife can see, and that something involves the power of God. And as I recall, there has only ever been one Shepherd who knows where the green pastures are, and He alone knows how to lead us to them.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…” ~ (Psalm 23:1-3a)

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I’m Adopted

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My daughter is the girl I call “Precious” and “Sweet Girl.” Ever since a nurse put her little ink-covered footprint on my hand, my little girl has been daddy’s girl. We have gone on dates together, danced in our living room together, and read countless books together.

She’s my daughter…

…by adoption. The story of her adoption is remarkable, but so is every adoption story. Every adoption may be similar to another, but no two are alike. I never get tired of hearing adoption stories, because there is always a detail that makes it unique.

Recently, though, my sweet girl has been asking a lot of questions. At age 9, she is inquisitive, but my daughter also has a heart that just will not stop. So, she is trying to grasp just what this whole “I’m adopted” thing means. We talk to her openly about it, but only as she wants to. Lately, though, that has been quite a lot.

Part of what we have told her is something she cannot fully understand. Honestly though, it is not something I fully understand, but it is something that I appreciate more and more in my life.

What is it?

I’m adopted, too.

No, my mom and dad did not go through some system or agency or orphanage to bring me into their home. I was born from my mommy’s tummy (thanks for the constant jalapeno pepper eating, mom), and raised by them.

Biologically, I am not adopted, but I’m adopted in a far more profound way.

Consider this: the New Testament makes it clear that every child of God is His child by adoption. Read the following passages carefully.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Romans 8:15)

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Galatians 4:5)

“[God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).

Did you notice something? In comparing our conversion to Christ with adoption, the Bible says that this is something that happened in the past. Obviously, that is the case. When one obeys the will of God, he/she becomes a child of God. If you are a Christian, that is something that happened in your past, when by faith you put Christ on in baptism.

However, the impact of that–the results of being adopted by the Lord–are ongoing. We are His children by adoption…not we were.

We are completely, totally, and fully part of the family of God. Whatever He gives as a Father, He will give to us, because we are His children. And we are His children by adoption.

If that isn’t amazing enough, consider this: when God adopts us into His family, we become joint heirs with Jesus Christ. (Let that one sink in.) Don’t believe me? In one of those “adoption” passages, Paul continued with these remarkable words:

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:16-17, emphasis added).

Jesus is the very Son of God. While He is the “only begotten” (John 3:16), we become children of God through adoption and, thus, are heirs of the home of the Father, heaven. I simply cannot fathom that.

My precious treasure of a daughter will never fully understand what a blessing it is to be adopted. I am not a perfect father, but I am most definitely her father. All I can ever give as a dad is hers without reservation.

But each day I live, I am trying to understand more fully how blessed I am by Jehovah, that He would adopt me into His family and bless me in ways that I cannot describe.

I’m adopted, and though I can’t understand it fully, I’m thankful for my Father who brought me into His family.

Are you adopted?

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Some Things I Learned about Family in a Cabin in the Mountains

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When you’re trying to find time for a family vacation and all three of the men in the family are preachers, it’s hard to accomplish the task. Recently, however, after a couple of years of trying, we managed to find the time to spend four days together in the Smokey Mountains. Eleven of us were closed in a cabin with three levels – one for each family.  As the wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, I learned some very important things.

Families NEED to be together – or maybe I should say I needed to be with my husband, children, and grandchildren. There is such joy in being away from anyone’s home and the responsibilities that go along with it. Relaxation is a necessity and when family members who love one another get together all are able to relax.

Laughter is great for the physical body and for the soul. As you might imagine, we did a lot of laughing in that cabin. Stories were told about our family that have been told many times before, but are still funny to us because they are part of our history. New stories were lived out that will serve as a source of laughter in the future. I’m reminded of some of Solomon’s words, “…he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15)

Any problem can be worked out if you want it to be.  As you might imagine with eleven of us in one cabin there were a few problems that came up. Different ideas of what to do, what and where we all would eat, the cost of extra activities, and a stomach bug that bit one of our little ones, were all problems that we faced. But, when you think about each other more than you think about yourself, any problem can be solved (Philippians 2:3-4).

Children teach valuable lessons.  Lessons like sharing, laughing, joy, singing, cleaning the cabin, and asking questions like, “where are we going for Bible study Wednesday night?” all taught some very valuable lessons. Things don’t make children happy. Spending time with people they love does.

Love grows when you spend time together.  My heart is full of love for my physical family. Our children are grown and have families of their own, but when the three generations can spend time together, our love for one another grows even stronger. Our love for God also grows stronger, because we are made more aware of His infinite wisdom in creating the earthly family. As we sang together “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, the Lord surrounds His people…,” I felt my love grow not only for my family, but also for the God who loves all of us.

One cabin.  Four days.  But memories that will last a lifetime.

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