Category Archives: Family

30 Life Lessons from “The Cosby Show”

30 life lessons from the cosby show

Over the weekend, “The Cosby Show” celebrated the 30th anniversary of its debut on NBC. Yes, just typing that makes me feel old.

While this is not a perfect TV show, I believe it is the best regular series in this history of television. It was legitimately humorous, and didn’t feel the need to be scandalous. It was morally clean almost all the way through, and even gave families something positive to talk about, instead of trying to sheepishly avoid certain topics usually discussed on television.

So, in honor of the 30th anniversary of “The Cosby Show,” today we share with you 30 life lessons. Some are humorous and some are serious, but all are better learned wearing a colorful sweater and with cool jazz playing in the background.

Enjoy!

1. Respect Your Grandparents. One of the greatest aspects of the program was how often the grandparents were involved in the lives of the children. They were present for the major events in life, and were always talked about with respect.

2. Never Let Your Sister Make Your Clothing. A Gorden Gartrelle shirt–or Ichy Amarada–or whatever should never be left in the hands of someone with so little experience.

3. Reading is a Key Part of Life. I love the emphasis in the show on reading and learning. Cliff and Claire were constantly reading books or magazines, and the children were often told to “go to the library.”

4. Husbands and Wives Should Stay Romantic. Flirting was constant between Dr. and Mrs. Huxtable, and they were always doing things for one another. Such should be the case with husbands and wives. Keep the romance bright!

5. Kids are Rich, but Not with Money. “Your mother and I are rich; you have nothing.” What a great line! But, the children were also told that they were rich, just not with things. They were rich in love and relationships.

6. Be “the House” that Others Want to Visit. Almost every episode featured someone coming to the house. Some were family. Some were friends. Some were friends of friends. And they were people of all ages. I want to be “that house”–the one people just feel drawn to by hospitality.

7. Education is Invaluable. The final episode is Theo’s college graduation, and the show constantly focuses on the schooling (elementary, high school, and college) of the children. The parents regularly talk about their own college experiences. They build in their children a love of learning.

8. Volunteer in Your Community. In later years, the show featured Cliff and Claire helping at a local community center. This “giving back” was a key message of the show, and one more people could take to heart.

9. Zrbtts are Great Signs of Affection. What is a zrbtt? It is blowing on the cheek of someone you love, instead of kissing them. While zrbtts were seen early in the show, there was a touching scene near the end of the last season where a now-teen Rudy zrbtts her dad to show her affection.

10. Talk about Family Heritage Often. I love how often family stories are told, and how family heirlooms are part of the weaving together of the show. Doing this helps children feel grounded and part of something larger than themselves.

11. “The Government Comes for the Regular People First.” Monopoly money and a boy who thinks he has it all figured out. When Cliff teaches Theo that taxes come off the top of a paycheck, life starts to sink in for the boy.

12. Dads are to be Old Yeller. Cliff was famous for how “rough” he was on the boyfriends of his daughters. His explanation? “I’m like Old Yeller.” Boys will be careful when they come by that house. (Of course, he’s then reminded that, at the end of the movie, “They shot Old Yeller.”)

13. Celebrate Purity. We are never shown “the talk,” but it is obvious that it was given. When a decision for purity was made, it was celebrated. When Cliff finds out that Denise was a virgin on her wedding night, he celebrates. Would that every parent had this same attitude!

14. Spend Time with Children. I love the interaction that the family has with children. There are so many episodes where kids are being treated to something nice (dinner, a show, or just a party) by the Huxtables. While the kids are not in charge, they are being shown that they are special, and are gaining life skills through this intentional time.

15. Wear Old Clothes when Buying a Car.

16. When You Try too Hard to Impress a Girl, It Will Backfire. The more Theo tries to impress girls, the more it blows up in his face. From trying to talk more mature to opening his shirt to show his manly physique, it just never works. When he is just himself, he gets the girl.

17. It’s Okay to Say the Word “Cancer.” One of the more poignant episodes is when a friend of Theo’s is in the hospital with cancer. Theo can’t bring himself to say the “c word” until the friend says it to him. I like the humanity of that exchange.

18. Go to Church. While church was not a focus of the program, they did not hide it, either. There are a few episodes set in church, and they talk regularly about going. Would that more programs at least mentioned church in a positive light.

19. “Go Discover America” is Not a Bad Thing to Tell Your Got-It-All-Figured-Out Teenager. This may be Leah’s favorite line ever on the show.

20. Modesty is Important. When Vanessa and her friends form a new girl group, they select outfits that have them “flinging parts from one end to the other.” The simple statement from Claire is to go “put some clothes on.” Amen!

21. Junk Food is a Man’s Best Friend. Cliff and junk food. How many running jokes did this show have about hoagies, chips, and desserts? And he was a doctor!

22. Sometimes–Not Often, but Sometimes–You Have to Tell Your Kids Exactly What’s On Your Mind. When Vanessa and her friends lie and travel to see the band The Wretched, she is left with no question as to how her parents feel about it.

23. Get Away Sometimes. Cliff and Claire live in a house with five children (and more people as they years go by). Yet, they took the time to go on dates, take vacations, and have get-aways. Every couple needs these times to reconnect and unwind.

24. The Salary of Early 1900s Coal Miners Will Mean a Lot to You When You Have Children. I love how Cliff often tells his kids what people earned before he was even born. It was a way to help them appreciate what they have without complaining.

25. It is Okay for Parents to Laugh at Themselves. There was a lot of laughter in the Huxtable house, and sometimes it was the parents realizing they had done something dumb. That’s okay. However……..

26. It is Not Okay for Parents to Lose Control of the House. One of the major features of “The Cosby Show” was that the kids did not run the household. There was never a question as to who was in charge, and that needs to be reinforced in our homes today.

27. Talk. A Lot. Have you noticed how often the TV was on in the show? It wasn’t much. But there were a lot of conversation around the dinner table or sitting on the couch.

28. When You Argue, Make Up Quickly. In one episode, Cliff and Claire argue and decide to go to bed angry (for the first time in their marriage). It only takes part of the next day before they make up. While the way in which they make up may be a bit strange (“desk dancing” over the phone), it just shows that couples need to make up quickly instead of letting bitterness grow.

29. Make Your Home the Safest Place in Your Child’s Life. In reality, outside of the humor, I think this is the overall message I take away from “The Cosby Show.” The kids just want to be at home, because they feel connected and safe.

30. Lip-Syncing is a Perfectly Acceptable Form of Entertainment. Just watch the video. It is, in my mind, the single greatest scene in the history of American comedic television.

By the way, if you have never bought the 8 seasons on “The Cosby Show” on DVD, do so! Enjoy them with your family. Here’s a link to the first 2 seasons for less than $10.

QUESTION: What is your favorite “life lesson” from “The Cosby Show?” Share yours in the comments below!

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I Want My Kids to Know Grace

I want my kids to know grace

I am 41, married, and have three children, ages 13, 10, and 7. I am a Christian. I am ready for Jesus to come today. I am ready not because I am perfect, but because I have obeyed the gospel according to the grace of God. I am also ready because I will admit I have some safety about it in my mind. You see, my wife is a Christian, my oldest son is a Christian, and my two youngest are still sinless and therefore safe. The 10 year-old is heading to the place where innocence will soon be lost. But for now, I have the selfish confidence of knowing that according to God’s promises my family will live in heaven eternally.

After I was diagnosed with cancer, I began to almost beg for Jesus to come back. I did not like the prospects of dying and leaving my family without a husband and father. I knew that if He were to return, everything would be solved. This is my human side. I know that in reality, for every Christian, whether Jesus comes today or 10,000 years from now – the minute He comes everything will be better.

But I would like to share with you a thought I have had for years now concerning my kids. In their younger years they have no worries about anything spiritually because they have no sin. What a comfort for a parent to know that all of their children are going to heaven! It is easy for me to pray for Christ to come right now when my children cannot be lost!

However, there is one thing I think I want my children to know that I now know. It’s called “Grace.” I love God now more than I ever have before because of grace. I know I am wretched and worthless, and my lacking state of righteousness is like a filthy rag in the presence of the holy and perfect God of heaven. But knowing just how sinful and weak I am helps me to understand the power of God’s love that can only be felt by the incomprehensible nature of His matchless grace.

Until one has sinned, one cannot understand grace. I would love my children to remain innocent forever. But God foresaw in creating mankind that man would be blessed by His grace. This doesn’t mean God wanted man to fall. It hurts God every time we sin. But God makes good things from bad. It is never right to sin. And yet the grace of God has the power to turn my worst mistake into my greatest victory. Through grace God has revealed more about Himself than we could have known had we remained perfect.

I want my children to know that even though they sin, God loves them anyway. I want my children to know that even though they don’t like themselves sometimes, God loves them anyway. I want my children to know that even though they don’t deserve to live in heaven, God loves them anyway. I want my children to know that even though they are less than what they want to be, and sometimes they are ready to completely give up, and even in a time when they have turned their backs on God and left Him completely, God loves them anyway. Because when they figure out what grace is all about, they will have the capacity to love and be loved like never before. And God is calling all of us to that kind of love and He is doing so only through grace.

It would still be best if Jesus would come back in the next ten seconds. But if God chooses to wait another 2,000 years, then I want my children’s children to know everything there is to know about God’s grace. Because to this point, I know of nothing more amazing.

“…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

– Ephesians 3:16-19

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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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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.

——————————–

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

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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Another Helpful Resource

One of the goals of A Legacy of Faith is to help families. I thought I’d use my space today to inform you about another resource. It is a resource that I believe you will find to be very valuable.

My friend and brother in Christ, Lance Cordle, preaches for the church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. In 1999, he began publishing The Family Friend. The subtitle says that it is “a collection of articles and quotes to aid your family in daily living.” Lance describes this publication as “kind of a family-article Reader’s Digest.”

I have checked with Lance and he has told me that he would be glad to send this monthly publication to anybody who contacts him to make a request. The normal schedule is for The Family Friend to be sent out on the second weekend of every month. You can receive this either by “snail mail” or by providing your email address to Lance.

Most of the past issues are archived. You can find them at on the Calvert City website by clicking here.

If you would like to subscribe to this helpful publication, please send a request to Lance at lance AT calvertchurchofchrist DOT com. In the subject line, type “Subscribe TFF.”

I hope you’ll take advantage of this helpful resource!

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Momma’s Fresh Peach Pie {Recipe}

mommas fresh peach pie

It’s that time of year again. The peaches are ripe and plentiful. I know a little bit about peaches because that was my dad’s favorite fruit. This time of year always stirs some memories within me now that both of my parents are gone. Dad would spend more than he normally would for this precious fruit just because he loved it so much. Oh, he complained a lot about the price, but he still bought the peaches.

What I remember even more vividly than his love for peaches was the way my mother would always use them to please him. She peeled and sliced them and served them for breakfast along with the bacon and eggs she cooked. She even worked hard to preserve them so that he could have some in the winter. But nothing was better, in my opinion, than her fresh peach pie.

My mother worked as a surgical nurse – long, hard hours – often being called back to work during the night for emergency surgeries. Her uniform was always starched and ironed and pure white. Her white shoes were always polished and shining. She kept an immaculate house. She served us good meals and sewed clothes so we would have something new to wear occasionally. All of these things were very important to her and she made sure she taught me much of it. She had made a commitment to be a good mother – and she was one of the best.

She also had made a commitment to be a good wife, even though my dad was not a faithful Christian for much of their marriage. She lived every day of her life helping other people and everyone benefitted from her service. Dad and Mom were married for 60 years before my dad left this life. He watched her live a faithful Christian life for all of that time. First Peter 3:1-2 is one of my favorite passages: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” My dad came back to the Lord for the last years of their marriage. I know her example around him had much to do with that decision.

I still make fresh peach pie from Mom’s recipe. My daughter makes fresh pie from that same recipe. I am hoping that she will teach my granddaughter to make that same pie.

Let me share her easy recipe with you. I hope you are committed to being the faithful wife and mother God intended for you to be. Maybe her pie will help you toward doing something pleasing for your family.

mommas fresh peach pie recipe

[Feel free to print out or pin on Pinterest!]

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life.  

Proverbs 31:10-12

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Marriage is All About “U”

marriage is all about u

We have often heard it said that marriage is not all about you. A good marriage is one where a great deal of sacrifice takes place, and where the other person’s needs are put above our own.

But, maybe, marriage should be all about you…or, actually, all about “U.”

There are three “u’s” that a marriage needs to have. Each of these can be found in Genesis 2:24, which states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become on flesh.” Based upon those famous words, notice three important things about marriage.

1. Unique. Leaving father and mother implies that this new marriage is establishing a new, unique home. While the parents still should have input from their years of wisdom and experience, they should allow this new home to flourish and, yes, to work through mistakes on their own.

2. United. The word “joined” carries the idea of “glued.” Nothing should be able to separate this new home, because the husband and wife are so glued to one another. Every other relationship (work, children, parents, etc.)–save the covenant between a person and God–must be subordinated to the relationship between this man and this woman.

3. Union. They are now “one flesh,” which means more than the sexual relationship. In every humanly-possible way, this man and woman should be “one.” Dan Winkler suggests five areas this must be true:

  • Natural (the helpmeet relationship)
  • Intimate (they must remain monogamous)
  • Sexual (the marriage bed is undefiled, Hebrews 13:4)
  • Spiritual (they should help one another glorify God and go to heaven)
  • Permanent (“’til death do us part”)

So, as you can see, marriage really is all about “U!”

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What I Learned when I Quit Facebook

what i learned when i quit facebook

I like to communicate. I like a room full of people. I like activity. I like to share ideas and thoughts and dreams with others. I am a people person. The advancement of social media for a person like me has caused a reaction similar to that of my six-year old daughter when she recently tried a new dish. She took one bite and said, “Where have you been all my life?!”

As an evangelist I use social media for the gospel’s sake. I have had countless Bible studies and private spiritual discussions involving counseling online. I have left “chat” immediately to meet the very people I have been chatting with at the church building to baptize them. I do not deny many friend requests because I want to be a link between people and God. This is my job. I know Jesus is the only mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5), but I want to be a link between people and the mediator. I care for souls and this love for people influences my decisions within the social realm.

But social media can take over your life if you are not careful. I had to cancel my Facebook account once and start again when the number of friends reached over 3000. Slowly but surely it began to build again. By the end of last year, I needed a break. I decided to quit all social media for a month with absolutely no cheating. I did not look on anyone else’s page. I did not ask questions. If people started talking about anything related to social media I walked away. It was a refreshing experience. Several realizations came in the process.

1. Social media can become an addiction just like anything else. It can drain time and energy and productivity. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a blessing in many ways and it is not wrong to engage in it. But if you want to know if you are addicted I have one easy litmus test: Do you ever sit in your office or at home at night on your computer, phone, or tablet refreshing newsfeed? Yeah, you may have a problem.

2. Social media can keep a person from engaging in real relationships. If you have to use media to have a relationship with someone, you may be living in a false reality. Some use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to create a person they want people to see but is not truly them. They post certain pictures and say certain things in order to project the person they wish they were. Looks can be deceiving. The best person you are is the person you are in public – talking with people, working, and being a regular part of society. The world deserves the real you. You need to contribute and be functional in the outside world. Never hide behind technology.

3. Social media keeps us in the loop. It’s the 21st century. Some people might want to think about deciding to enter it with the rest of us. I was amazed at how much information I was gleaning from social media, especially Facebook. My timeline for gathering information or finding out about situations was considerably affected when I left. If you want to minister to people information is valuable. I lost several opportunities to be a Christian influence when I stepped away for a month. In truth I am definitely closer on some level to people whom I communicate with electronically. If you don’t answer email, text, return calls, or do any social media in today’s world you are almost a hermit. Sometimes people reject these avenues of communication because they really are very private and just want to be left alone.

4. Quitting anything you habitually practice is healthy for you physically, mentally, and spiritually. I would suggest at least a short break from anything that consumes a fair amount of your time. You are missing out on the rest of the world if you dwell too often with the same people in the same places. You need to drive outside of town on a clear night and just look at the stars for a while. You need to take your kids fishing or to the park. You need to go have a long and meaningful one-on-one conversation with an older person you love who will not be here forever. If you will step away for a few days or weeks you will be practicing one of the fruits of the spirit: self-control. And let’s face it, self-control is the hardest spiritual fruit of all for anyone to grow – and the tree God wants us to be growing cannot plug in to an electronic outlet. The only real and lasting power is in His Word.

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”

– Philippians 3:7

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A Disconnected Connected Society

a disconnected connected society

Posts, tweets, pins, links, updates…

The list goes on and on.

IMHO, we are becoming the most disconnected connected people who have ever lived. (By the way; did you see how cool I am? I know tech speak for “in my humble opinion!”)

We know what is going on with somebody half-way around the world whom we have  “accepted” as a “friend” (even though we’ve never met them), or “follow,” are “linked in with,” or are in some other way connected electronically. At the same time, we have no idea what is going on with our spouse who is sitting right next to us; our children who live in the same house; our real friends who have been there for us at difficult times in our lives; the people who live next door to us; and/or a host of other people we used to know and spend time with before we got hooked on our electronic devices.

People who know me know that I’m sort of a sucker for this stuff. I guess it started with the iPhone.  I was among the millions who were “wowed” by it. I couldn’t believe that one little device was capable of doing all that it could do.

It took me a while to get an iPhone, but, once I did, I was hooked. Although I’ve gone to the dark side and now have an Android phone (and tablet), I’m still intrigued by the possibilities that electronics provide for us.

I’m also intrigued and saddened by what I am observing; that is, when I look up from my phone or tablet. Increasingly, I am seeing (and sometimes participating in) a scenario in which family members, friends, etc. can all be in the same room and are all communicating. The problem is that they (we) are communicating with somebody somewhere else. Instead of sharing their (our) lives with those who should be the closest to us, something as trivial as a joke or a cute picture is being shared with somebody who may not even care enough to look at it.

I’ve never had the privilege of sitting right behind home plate in the front row of a major league baseball game. I don’t expect I ever will have that privilege.

However, as I’m sitting at home miles away from the stadium, I’ve watched as that center-field camera zooms in to the home plate area. I have seen people who occupy a seat I can only dream of having. I’ve watched them texting, emailing, or doing something other than watching the game. I’m wondering how much money they spent on those tickets — and why.

When was the last time you went to a sporting event (maybe even a little league game in which your child was playing) and just watched the game?

When was the last time you enjoyed some of God’s wonderful creation without feeling compelled to share your experience with the world?

When was the last time you and your spouse had an uninterrupted real conversation?

When was the last time your entire family sat around the same table at the same time and enjoyed a meal without any electronic interference?

When was the last time you “unplugged” and just lived life with those whom you love?

I’m beginning to think that there is, in fact, a disconnected connected society. I’m beginning to also think I’m a part of that society.

How about you?

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