Category Archives: Family

“We Turned Off the TV and Studied the Bible”

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I will not reveal the name of the person who spoke those words to me recently, but they made a powerful impact. They were spoken by a man–a husband and father–who is just trying.

He came up to me and had a question about a particularly difficult statement in the Bible. At first, I thought he was asking just for his own information, or maybe because it was something being discussed in a Bible class. I tried to help him understand the passage as best I could (off the top of my head), and he thanked me.

But then he came right out and said that he and his little family had been studying that passage the night before. And that’s when he said, “Last night, we turned off the TV and studied the Bible.”

In my eyes, that is courage!

It may not seem like a major step to some people, but to be the real leader in the home, it takes steps like that one. How many of us who would think that isn’t a major step in faith won’t even make that step?

Dads, how many of us need to get our families back into the Bible?

How many of us need to say “no” to something like TV, or another sport, or a night out with the guys in order to do just that?

How many of us simply need to make family Bible study a priority?

It is a step of courage…and you can do it!

Will you?

To help you make that step of courage, check out these two resources:

1. “Training for Worship” resource packet [pdf]. These are meant for worship, but some are home devotional ideas to help you prepare your children for worship. They are a free printable pdf.

2. How to Lead Your Family in Home Devotionals {blog post}

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: Sunil Soundarapandian on Creative Commons

How Lads to Leaders Can Help Families

[Editors note: This week’s guest post comes to us from Ben Giselbach. You can learn more about Ben at the conclusion of today’s article.]

The oldest and most important institution is the home, and the biggest responsibility of parents is to raise their children right (Deuteronomy 6:20-25). Ever since God charged parents to instill in them a love for God and His Word (cf. Ephesians 6:4), parents have asked, “What is the best way to do this?”

Well, do you know the best way to teach your children to love God and His Word? I suppose we could spend hours combing the web for advice on how to teach our children. And we would find as much a diversity of opinions as we would blog posts on the subject. I’m not offering a ‘magic pill’ on how to raise Godly children, but I do want to share with you how Lads to Leaders can be an effective tool in helping parents in their responsibility to raise children in the Lord. There are no gimmicks to the program – it simply provides a structured way of teaching God’s Word to our young people.

What Is Lads to Leaders?

Lads to Leaders is the oldest and largest training program used by churches of Christ. Just as publications like the Gospel Advocate provide books and articles, and evangelism tools like House to House provide sound materials for teaching, Lads to Leaders provides curriculum and a teaching framework that elderships can adapt for their respective congregations.

With a modest beginning in 1968, Lads to Leaders has grown into a program that offers up to 38 events in which churches can participate. From teaching boys how to lead songs and prepare sermons, to teaching girls how to teach Bible classes and to be loving keepers at home, L2L has a wide range of activities in which parents and churches can elect to participate.

Here are some ways L2L can specifically benefit your own home:

Material For Family Bible Time

We know it is our primary responsibility as parents, not the church, to teach our children God’s Word. Yet parents often feel challenged by their own knowledge of the Bible to regularly teach every day in their homes. L2L offers a wide range of curriculum that can offer plenty of material to help keep your family Bible studies fresh. Most importantly, L2L goes out its way to ensure only sound, doctrinally pure resources are offered.

Training Boys And Girls How To Be Better Providers And Keepers

It is important that boys and girls learn basic practical skills that will help them be better mothers and fathers in the future. Proverbs 31, for example, lists several qualities of the godly keeper of the home; she knows how to cook (v. 15), sew (v. 13), set the table (v. 27), manage money (v. 16), and be hospitable (v. 20). These skills, along with many others, are developed by girls participating in the Keepers event. Boys, in the Providers event, are taught important skills like child discipline, car maintenance, home security, and how to be spiritual leaders in their [future] families.

The Keepers and Providers events in Lads to Leaders are unique. Not only do other leadership programs lack something similar, but Keepers and Providers build relationships among members at church. Your child is taught by older members at your congregation how to develop these skills, creating a mentoring environment with older Christians.

Further, the Keepers and Providers events offer both young men and young ladies the ability to choose one category each year from the complimentary event. For instance, a young man can choose to learn cooking and a young lady can learn car maintenance.

Spiritual Extra-Curricular Activities

Parents are often willing to spend hundreds of dollars every year for their children to participate in athletics and other extra-curricular activities. While these are often beneficial to your children, the most important thing you can offer your children is the ability to grow spiritually. With soccer and football, the best that can happen is that your child becomes a professional sports player later in life. But with Lads to Leaders, the best that can happen is that you prepare your children to be leaders in the home, leaders in the church, and ultimately faithful Christians. In view of eternity, which scenario matters the most to you?

Bridging The Gap Between The Physical Family And The Spiritual Family

Christians make the best fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives. Why? Because they are seeking first the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, raising our children to be leaders in the church strengthens their faith, and in turn makes them better leaders in the home.

Young people need to understand that they are not the church of tomorrow – they are the church of today. Show me a church without young people, and I will show you a dead church. Just as young Timothy played an important role in the 1st century church (cf. 1 Timothy 4:11-13), your children play an important role in the 21st century church. Lads to Leaders teaches young people how to be leaders in the church now, so they will be leaders in the church tomorrow. When your boy is actively learning how to publicly lead a song, give a devotional – and when your girl is actively learning how to speak at ladies’ Bible studies and teach children – the Lord’s church becomes part of their identity at an early age.

Conclusion

After studying congregations that use L2L, we discovered that there is a retention rate of at least 85% among those who participated in the program for ten years. That means nearly nine out of ten kids, by the time they become independent of their parents, remain faithful to the Lord. Lads to Leaders strengthens churches, which in turn strengthens families.

Time did not allow us to talk about all of the events Lads to Leaders has to offer, such as Bible Bowl, Debate, GIFTS, GUARD, Centurion of Scripture, Art Says It, and Good Samaritan (to name only a few). If you want to know more about L2L, contact me, Ben, by sending an email to ben@lads2leaders.com.

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Ben Giselbach began working for Lads to Leaders in 2014 and is doing a tremendous job helping to grow this already-great program. He is married to the former Hannah Colley, and they are the proud parents of a newborn son, Ezra. Ben also maintains a blog, Plain Simple Faith.

Today

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Today.

Is all we are assured of.

Today.

Is full of opportunities.

Today.

Is a chance to correct the hurts of yesterday.

Today.

Is your chance to forgive.

Today.

Is your chance to be forgiven.

Today.

Is the day to say “I love you”…and prove it.

Today.

Is your chance to be ready for the eternal tomorrow.

Today.

How will you spend it?

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Author: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: Sasha Wolff on Creative Commons

One of the Most Frustrating Things about Being the Head of the House

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God has stated that the man is to be the head of the household. In a home where God’s plan is followed, every person has a vital role, but the final decisions rest with the husband. Of course, a godly husband understands that he is under the ultimate authority of Christ, so he dare not be a cruel dictator in the home.

With that headship, though, comes dramatic responsibility. The weight of all those decisions rests on his shoulders. A godly husband understands that he will give account to God Almighty for how he has led his home. It is, without a doubt, a daunting task.

And there are frustrations with it. He wants to do well, but he knows he cannot be perfect. He wants his home to be godly, peaceful, kind, welcoming, nurturing, and so many other good and positive things.

…and some days just stink.

There are days when he just does not think he can do it anymore. No, he isn’t thinking of leaving, but he just thinks about sitting on the couch and doing nothing; about mentally and emotionally checking out. After all, that’s easier than trying to carry the weight of responsibility.

When does he feel this way? It is when the problems are ones that are deeper than surface-level.

He sees his wife frustrated.

He knows his children are struggling emotionally.

He feels that his daughter’s heart is broken.

He understands there is stress abounding in his teenage son.

And what is the reaction of this godly head of the household? He is frustrated. In fact, he is frustrated not just because these things are present in the home, but he is frustrated in a way that those who are not the head of a household simply cannot fully understand.

His frustration is this: as a man, he is, by nature, a problem solver and a fixer…and he knows he can’t easily fix this.

There is no tool at Lowe’s that will mend a broken heart.

There isn’t a piece of machinery from Home Depot that will help calm his wife’s heart.

He has found easy fixes for things before, but these issues have no easy solution. It isn’t that he is against hard work. In fact, as a man of God, he works very hard. It is simply that, when it comes to trying to help in this area, he does not know how to most easily and efficiently fix things. He is out of his comfort zone, and he is frustrated because he loves these people so much, and he so much wants to help, but he is not even sure of the first step to take.

(After all, there’s not even an instruction manual for all this!)

So, the next time your husband seems to have eyes glazed over as if he isn’t listening; the next time your dad seems to be in a distant place and you think he isn’t hearing you; when you think he is just not connecting; remember this: if he is a man of God, he is having a fight with himself.

He is so desperately wanting to help fix the problem, but he knows it will take a great deal of work in an area in which he is not naturally equipped.

He is trying to see the end result of fixing the problem, but he cannot figure out what step one is.

He is hurting for you…because you are part of him, and he can’t stand it that those under his care are hurting.

In other words, he is doing his human-level best to be a man of God, and he is realizing–again–that he is woefully inadequate…

…but as a man of God, he is going to try.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

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3 Ways to Porn Proof Your House This Weekend

[Editors Note: This week’s guest post is from Chad Landman. Find out more about Chad, and many of his good works, at the end of today’s article.]

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According to the Huffington Post, porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter…*combined.* While numbers have been misleading saying exactly how much of the internet is pornography (numbers fluctuate erratically based upon different sources between 18 and 80 percent), the traffic to these sites can be measured with some accuracy, and most sources say that it’s around 30% of all internet traffic that visits porn sites. People are visiting these sites – of that there is no doubt.

Every 1 in 5 searches made on a mobile device are for porn. The average age of the first internet exposure to pornography has dropped dramatically in the last 15 years, from 14 in 2000, 11 in 2009, to just 8 years old in 2014.

Does that scare you? It should.

According to Richard L. Bready of Saint Anselem College, “Porn use is a greater threat to our national well-being than our economy.”

So what are you doing about it?

Today I’d like to present you with three ways to porn-proof your home this weekend.

1) Make a list of all devices that connect to the internet. Think about all of them. Your son’s iPod Touch, your daughter’s Kindle Fire, your own mobile phones and your laptop in the living room. Are you even aware of what devices are in your own home? Most aren’t. The first step in porn-proofing is to identify what devices access the internet in your home, and then you’ll have a better idea of how to attack this problem. Get out a legal pad and make two columns: “Device” and “Security.” The device could be anything – your DVR, your Smart TV, a tablet, even your refrigerator these days. For Security, write down whatever passwords access the device, and note what parental controls you have set on those devices. I can’t speak for most other devices, but iOS has some pretty comprehensive parental controls built right in to the operating system, as does Windows. You can check out my How-To guides for iOS and PC’s here.

2) Keep all devices in a public place and set limits. Ten years ago, this wasn’t as difficult because you had one desktop or laptop computer – there were hardly any tablets or smartphones to speak of. One of the things that parents always tell me when I go to congregations to speak about internet safety is that they wish they would have not allowed devices in their kids’ bedrooms. Before it was televisions, now it’s tablets and smartphones. It won’t be a popular decision with your family, but if you can keep them in eyesight while they’re home and set parental controls and time limits while you’re not home, it will go a long way to porn-proofing your home.

If you have a PC laptop or desktop at home, Microsoft has some excellent built-in parental controls to set timers on what your child or even your spouse can use. For iOS devices, I recommend the excellent app called Curbi. Curbi lets you set time limits and parental controls on your device when it’s connected with your child’s device. It has a small fee per month, but ask this question: would you pay the price of a latte to help protect your family in the digital space?

3) Talk to your family. This sounds simple to say, but it’s also hard to do. How many times have you talked to your kids this month about sex, drugs, or alcohol? If you’re a good parent, these subjects come up regularly. How about the internet? When was the last time you checked the browsing history on your daughter’s tablet? Or the Youtube videos your son has been watching on his iPhone? Studies have shown that kids that know if their parents are watching and actively talking to them about their internet use (and this goes for spouses too) are much less likely to seek out the bad things on the internet and are more cautious where they tread. Make sure your family knows where you stand. Have them sign a Parent-Child Device Contract. Explain to them the consequences of their behavior online. But most importantly, keep it in the conversation as much as you can.

These are three very simple and basic ideas to porn-proof your home, and these are just the start. Porn-proofing your home and keeping your family safe online is a full-time job. My prayer today is for you to have the faith maintain vigilance in the seemingly insurmountable task of keeping your family safe online.

We must always remember that we must build every facet of our homes with God in mind, and this includes internet safety. Psalm 127.1 – Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

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Chad Landman is the Education Minister at the Graymere Church of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee. He writes on his personal blog at chadl.co, on the Active Digital Parenting blog on Start2Finish, and talks about technology in ministry on his podcast Ministry Bits

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They Were Moses’ Nephews. They Were Aaron’s Sons

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God expects His people to take worship seriously. In the Patriarchal age, Cain was denied acceptance when he offered the wrong sacrifice with the wrong attitude. During the time when the Law of Moses was in effect, the Israelites were often found sinful in their worship in both heart and habit. In the New Testament age, we are commanded to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God, which is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1-2). Jesus said that the Father would be seeking true worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). God wants us to honor Him. He wants us to regard Him as holy. He wants us to be obedient. He wants our worship to be about Him so He can be glorified and we can be encouraged. He will not accept human substitutes.

This is why what two Levites once did was so terribly evil (Leviticus 10:1-2).

Nadab and Abihu were priests. They were sons of Aaron, the first high priest of the house of Israel. They stood between God and His people and helped to atone for the daily sins of the children of God. They had been given the responsibility to carry out the worship and sacrifices of God’s holy tabernacle. This was the same tabernacle that contained the Ark of the Covenant within. This was the same tabernacle where God appeared before them from time to time in the form of a cloud or of fire. This was the same tabernacle where God’s presence was ever abiding just above the mercy seat. This was the same tabernacle where God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend, face to face.

They were Moses’ nephews. They were Aaron’s sons. They knew better than to offer strange fire to the one and only, pure and powerful Jehovah! But they did it anyway. And so God’s justice demanded they be consumed. In a moment, they were dust. God always means what He says. He is never wrong and He never has to apologize for His sovereignty or His holiness. When these men were killed by fire from heaven, Moses told Aaron not to say a word. Aaron held his peace. Yet they were Moses’ nephews! They were Aaron’s sons!

This life-event in the history of God’s people brings to mind two astounding Bible truths:

1. No matter how much we love our children, they are going to be held accountable for their actions. The soul that sins will die (Ezekiel 18:20). It doesn’t matter if it is your child or not. It does not matter how much you love them. It does not matter how much you are willing to help them. It does not matter if you would even be willing to take their place in hell so that they could have your place in heaven. Each one of us is going to give an account of ourselves to God individually (2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Romans 14:12).

2. Every sinner is somebody’s child. We often tend to be unaffected by the fact that countless souls are lost. Maybe they have hurt many people and maybe they have made terrible choices. Maybe they are foreigners in a culture far removed from us, speaking a language we do not understand. But how do we feel when it is our kid who has to be picked up at the police station? How do we feel when it is our kid who has left the church? How do we feel when it is our kid who is the prodigal? God is longsuffering because every person who disobeys Him is, in reality, one of His own children. It is hard to imagine how Moses and Aaron must have felt about the condemnation of their own flesh and blood. It makes our hearts groan for them. Perhaps this tragedy helped them to have patience and compassion in their roles of leadership when the rest of God’s people were being so stubborn, faithless, and disobedient.

Disobedience to God should always break our hearts. It should break our hearts for the one who has been disobedient. It should break our hearts for the One who has disobeyed. It should break our hearts for the families it destroys.

Look out among you, my friends.  Sin is serious and it will separate us eternally from those we love. If Moses and Aaron weren’t excused from the consequences of sin, neither shall we be.

They were Moses’ nephews. They were Aaron’s sons. But they were lost!

“Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, ‘I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace.” – Leviticus 10:3

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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

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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——————

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)