Category Archives: Family

Parenting Through the Storms of Life

parenting through the storms of life

Earlier this week, we had a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. While it did not last very long, it was quite strong. In fact, at about 1:05 AM, I heard the loudest clap of thunder I believe I have ever heard. Immediately, both of our kids were awake, and I was checking on them.

The imagery of storms is often used to describe difficult times in life. We speak of the “storms of life” as a way to talk about times of loss, struggle, or depression. Just as children need us during literal storms, they need parents during those storms of life, too.

What can parents do to help their children through the storms of life? Think about how you handle weather storms. There are three things we must have.

1. Courage. It is not that we act as if the storms are not real; instead, we show that we can face them with strength. A child will get more scared if a parent acts as if he/she has never seen a storm before. Instead, with the help of God, we must courageously walk through this time.

2. Concern. A parent must avoid seeming truly afraid, but a healthy level of concern is necessary to lead. Preparations help greatly, but concern needs to be shown throughout the storm. During a terrible weather storm, a parent may watch the TV weather or check updates on the smartphone. During a storm of life, continually searching for information shows that the storm is real, but that the parent is staying on top of things.

3. Calm. This may seem like the same thing as courage, but it is a calmness that only comes from having peace in the Lord. We will be truly frightened at times in our life, but the one who is walking with the Lord has peace in the midst of the storm. A child can pick up on that, and will be more likely to ask about our faith when we are peaceful, when it seems the storms of life are raging.

During the storm recently, I lay in the bed with my daughter, trying to just be calm, so she would go back to sleep. At one point, though, I was glad she stayed awake. The reason was simple. She raised her head up, put her lips to my cheek and gave me a little kiss. Then, she said, “Thank you, daddy.”

It wasn’t that hard to earn that “thank you” during a thunderstorm, but a parent who has courage, concern, and calm will earn a much bigger “thank you” from a child when a true storm of life rages.

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Adrian Peterson and Biblical Discipline

[Note: During the month of October, our friends at The Light Network are releasing program to raise awareness about domestic violence. I was interviewed for an upcoming episode of the program “Culture Shock” on the issue of disciplining children. In connection with that, I submit the following article as part of their “blog hop,” helping to promote awareness. To learn more, visit this page on their website. –Adam]

adrian peterson and biblical discipline

I am a fan of sports. I have been geared up for the beginning of the new NFL season, and have enjoyed watching a few minutes of action so far this season. But the off the field news around the National Football League so far this year has been bad piled on top of bad.

In one of the more high-profile stories, Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson was arrested in Texas. The charges stemmed from a “whooping” (his words) he gave his then-four year old son. The spanking with a switch left the boy with bruises, cuts, and other injuries, showing that this was more than a regular form of discipline.

My goal in this post is not to speak to the specifics of the Peterson case. Instead, it is to show how cases like these work against the Biblical concept of discipline.

The Bible makes it clear that parents are to discipline their children. That discipline needs to come in the form of both positive encouragement and reinforcement, as well as correcting mistakes. It is up to each household to decide what form(s) of punishment work best for each of their children.

Included in that discussion, however, should be some thoughts on spanking a child. The Bible certainly speaks to the issue:

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24).

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol” (Proverbs 23:13-14).

When some read these passages, they get the idea that the Bible is pro-child abuse. There are two things we must keep in mind, however.

1. These are proverbs. While inspired, the type of literature itself helps us interpret these statements. Proverbs are statements of general truth. Used as a general guide to govern our life, they provide helpful wisdom for everyday decisions. They are not statements of command (unless they are backed up by other clear, Biblical teaching). Disciplining children is a Biblical command; the specific method(s) used to do so is not given with a “thus saith the Lord.”

2. Other Biblical standards. Spanking a child (or, to borrow from Solomon, using the rod) is allowed by Scripture, but the Bible also calls the people of God to be people who have self control. We are to be patient and kind. So spanking should never be the only punishment, and it should also only be administered under control. If anger is our primary driving force, we are not being led by the Spirit of God.

And then, you have Adrian Peterson.

Because he is a celebrity, and he clearly used spanking as a way to discipline, Peterson makes all spanking an easy target for those who want to label it as child abuse. What he did seems clearly to fall under that heading.

With patience and guidance, though, spanking does not have to be abusive. Parents need great wisdom to know when to use this type of punishment, but they also need great patience to be sure they are simply correcting, and not abusing.

What are some ways we can spank our children without being abusive? From one who is far from perfect, let me give you 5 suggestions.

1. Do Not *Only* Spank. In other words, spanking should be one of the forms of punishment parents use. If we spank for every little thing a child does, it will exasperate the child quickly.

2. Start early. A small spat on the hand of a toddler is difficult for a parent to do, but it will help quell the number of times a stronger spanking must be given later.

3. Know your limit. This is where we avoid Adrian Peterson-like endings to these episodes. You will be angry, of course, because your child has done something wrong and/or hurtful. Do not let anger be your only driving force, though. Know when to stop. A couple of swats is usually sufficient. (Oh, and spank on the behind. Do not slap your child’s face. That is nothing short of demeaning and degrading. I believe God put a little extra “padding” on our children’s behinds for a reason!)

4. Be consistent. No parent is going to be perfectly consistent, but do your best. If lying is considered a rule that is punishable via spanking, then spank each time a child tells an untruth.

5. Forgive quickly. With small children, just a few moments after the spanking, be ready to give hugs and words of encouragement that the child will grow from this and do better. Reinforce your unending love for that child immediately.

I know this is controversial territory, and stories like the one with Adrian Peterson only grow the controversy. But there is a Biblical way to administer a spanking without being abusive. May God grant every parent the wisdom and patience to know the best way to lovingly discipline each child He has placed in their care.

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One Step to Improve Your Marriage

one step to improve your marriage

Every marriage will go through times where sparks aren’t flying. No matter how wonderful a marriage might be, there will be times when the doldrums threaten to take over. These times do not necessarily mean that sin is involved (although that could be the case). More often, it is just the hurry and hustle of life that pushes a rift between husband and wife.

Too often, a couple simply assumes that it will “be this way,” and they fail to grow back together.

Even more tragically, too many let these seasons push them permanently apart, and the union is dissolved.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to know that there will be seasons that are not easy, but that does not mean it has to be that way all the time.

Instead of searching for “6 ways to fix things” or “10 steps to get out of this” posts, let me give you a one step approach. I’m not saying this one step will fix every problem, but if you will take this one step, you will see improvement, if even in small increments.

What is the one step?

Study your spouse.

“Wait,” you say. “I know my spouse. I’m married to him/her. I’ve ‘done life’ with them for years. What are you talking about?”

I’m talking about studying your spouse today. She is not the same woman you married in every way. He is not the same man. In some ways, your spouse is a better person, and (admittedly) in some areas there is still room for improvement. Not every interest has stayed exactly the same through all these years. New fears have become part of life, as have new ways of finding joy.

In each of these areas, there are ways where you can serve. If you discover something new that brings fear or discouragement to your spouse, you can speak great levels of strength to that part of life. If you learn that your spouse just isn’t into what they used to enjoy, you can gain from the search for something new to do together.

Too often, we get married, and then put our relationships on autopilot. We just assume that the person we married will never really change (except the obvious physical changes that come through the years). But I know that I am not exactly the same as I was back when I said, “I do.” Why, then, should I expect that my spouse will be just the same?

This can be scary ground, sure. You might discover insecurities or fears that you do not particularly like. But it provides you a way to speak strength into your spouse in ways that really make an impact. It provides you with ways to grow in areas of strength that you may have not even realized were there.

While it will still take a great deal of effort to see major improvement in your relationship, I can guarantee that if you will prayerfully and seriously study your spouse, you will be motivated to speak and act in ways that will provide improvement.

It may just be step one…but it is a powerful first step.

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5 Mistakes Parents Keep Making

5 mistakes parents keep making

As I write this I am scooting my chair up to the table and fastening a bib around my neck in order to keep from allowing any humble pie to get on my clothes.

Parenting is tough! I have made and continue to make many mistakes. I constantly pray to God for help and forgiveness. But thankfully, with God as my heavenly parent and with His manual close by, in this process of being a father I am learning. Through my own misguided struggles as well as my observations of others, I would like to share with you five major mistakes parents continually make.

Some parents worship their children rather than worshiping God.

It is easy to love our children and to do things for them. We are happy when they are happy. But when does their happiness become too important to us? What children want and what children need are not always the same. Our children are here to be loved but not worshiped. We need God-centered homes rather than kid-centered homes. Our lives are supposed to be about God first so our relationships must be guided by the same principle (Exodus 20:3).

Some parents try to live their second childhood through their children.

Maybe it is because they never got to live their first childhood, since their own parents rode piggyback, too. Parents need to be parents. When you grow up you are supposed to put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11). It is time parents stop trying to make their kids be the sports stars they never were. No more with the baby pageants. No more with the crazy parents in the stands. No more with the excessive efforts to make the world adore your children. God loves them. You love them. That should suffice.

Some parents believe that their children can do nothing wrong.

Let me qualify this problem by saying it usually only starts when the kids leave the house. We may see their faults at home, but the minute a teacher or friend or authority figure accuses our child of anything but excellence, the guard goes up. If our children are going to have any respect for authority, we have to back up those people who are not us who are trying to do their best for our children. Your kids not only can do wrong but they certainly will. When others see your children struggling, take it to heart. They may draw attention to something they need help with that you have been unable to see because you are their parent.

Some parents choose friendship over discipline.

Sorry, mom and dad. You cannot be your teenager’s BFF. Not now anyway. Right now they need boundaries. Right now they need to be told, “No.” Right now they need you to tell them that even though that is cool and popular with their friends it is not cool and popular with you and it is absolutely not good with God. Friendship is easier than discipline. It is tempting to be a neat parent. But wimping out when it is time for discipline will lead to disrespect. They may not like you now when you keep them from getting their way. But they will love you and thank you later and be your best friend when everyone becomes an adult.

Some parents don’t let their kids be kids.

This one may be the biggest mistake of all. In an age of information our kids are learning things they don’t need to learn. Children cannot process adult topics and problems and they were never meant to. In the name of entertainment we have all said, “Oh, I think they can handle this movie,” and then came regret. Not limiting their internet and phone access and exposure is the same as letting them play with the devil as if he were a schoolmate. Giving into pressure from others about having “the talk” too early keeps a child from retaining innocence. The days are coming when sin will be real and innocence will be gone forever. Our young children are sinless now. Why would we initiate and encourage the process?

Children are our heritage and joy. They are both our greatest blessing and our greatest responsibility. There is too much at stake to keeping reliving the same mistakes over and over.

Remember the child. Ask God for help. Do your best. Pray often.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

(Matthew 18:6)

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Surprising News about Steve Jobs (and Other Tech People)

I realize that this post may be VERY lengthy, but I thought it was worth considering. A few weeks ago I wrote about our society being a “non-connected connected society.” The words below are a portion of a transcript of Dr. Albert Mohler’s podcast; The BriefingWhat he said is, in my opinion, surprising and very important.

I hope you’ll take the time to read his  words and the words of those whom he quoted.

–Jim Faughn

Tech executive parents understand vulnerability of children to technology

As I said, we live in a very ironic age – and in this case, a new irony comes to light. Sometimes it takes an unbeliever to make a profoundly important point about the centrality of belief. Earlier this week, millions upon millions of people appeared to be waiting – transfixed – for the latest announcement from technology giant, Apple. Even as people in the past waited for a word from the Lord, or word from the king, millions of people these days appear to be waiting for nothing more than a word from Apple. Apple chairman Tim Cook revealed a line of new products, including two new smartphones – the iPhones – and also a promised Apple watch. But all that is eclipsed by an article that appeared in yesterday’s edition of theNew York Times, the article really had nothing to do with the announcement made by Apple this week, but it has a great deal to do with the late Steve Jobs, Apple’s iconic former leader.

The headline in the New York Times is a shocker, “Steve Jobs Was A Low-Tech Parent.” Nick Bilton, writing in the disruptions columns of the paper writes, and I quote,

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls [he writes]. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming. “So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Bilton then writes,

I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow. Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.

Bilton then writes,

Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.

Nick Bilton says he was dumbfounded by the statement from Steve Jobs, and perplexed by the paradox of all these technology chief executives who do not allow their children and teenagers to have much access to the technologies they develop and then sell. Back to his article, he writes

Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, [aged] 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Remember, that was said by Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired magazine, now chief executive of yet another technology firm. Nick Bilton then writes and I quote,

The dangers he is referring to include exposure to harmful content like pornography, bullying from other kids, and perhaps worse of all, becoming addicted to their devices, [he then adds the words] just like their parents.

Later in the article Nick Bilton tells us that most of these technology executives believe that the age of their children and teenagers is of utmost importance.

Children under 10 seem to be most susceptible to becoming addicted, so these parents draw the line at not allowing any gadgets during the week. On weekends, there are limits of 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphone use. And 10- to 14-year-olds are allowed to use computers on school nights, but only for homework.

These technology executives told Bilton they have very clear restrictions for both children and teenagers on social networks. Then Bilton writes,

There is one rule that is universal among the tech parents I polled. “This is rule No. 1: There are no screens in the bedroom. Period. Ever,”

Bilton ends his article by referring to a conversation he had with Walter Isaacson, the major biographers of Steve Jobs. Isaacson told Bilton

“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

In his article Nick Bilton asked a very interesting question, what do these technology executives know that other parents don’t know? Well, the obvious answer to that question appears to be this: technology never comes without a cost, technology, as the late French theologian Jacques Ellul said, always comes with a price. And that price is always exacted, and that price is particularly high among the vulnerable, and these tech parents, executives all, seen be very concerned about the fact that when it comes to their children and teenagers, they are the most vulnerable – and given that vulnerability, parents have to take kinds of defensive action such as are revealed in this article. But one of the most important insights from this column by Nick Bilton is that these tech executives, as parents, not only know something that other parents seem not to know, more importantly they are also doing something that other parents apparently aren’t doing – they are setting clear limits, they are not allowing the children to set their own parameters in terms of the use of these technologies, and they are using a word that is all too foreign to many parents but all too necessary to children and teenagers. That’s that short two letter word – no. These tech executives, as parents, are revealing to the world by this article that they are accustomed to say no to their own children about the devices they themselves have invented and developed and are now marketing to the world. So here’s a wake-up call for all parents – if technology executives know something that you don’t know, you need to know it fast, and this article is a quick way to get there. But it’s not only about knowing something, that is the dangers of these technologies and the addictive nature of these technologies in the lives, especially of the young, but also that parents have to be ready to do something. So add this irony to the ironies of the day – Steve Jobs may have been a high-tech executive, but he was a low-tech parent.

–Albert Mohler

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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Photo credit: Daily Mail (UK)

 

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.

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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

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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