Category Archives: Family

Spring has Sprung!

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It’s here! It’s finally here! My favorite season of the year is upon us: spring. I love all four seasons but there is something about spring that just makes me happy. The warm days after the biting cold of winter … The beautiful display of fresh colors as redbud trees, weeping willow trees, daffodils, and hyacinths bloom and bud … The freedom of my toes as they enjoy open air sandals … These all make me happy.

I think one of the reasons I love spring so much is the realization of hope. While I love snow days with the most hopeful of students, there comes a point where the gray, cold days of winter begin to weigh me down. At some point, I long for the days when I won’t have to put on a heavy coat for every trip outside my home. At some point, it seems as though I will never feel warm and energetic again. At some point, it seems the sun will never share its joy and warmth again.

And then comes the spring. Spring that brings new life. Spring that renews energy. Spring that warms both the arms and the soul.

While I love spring for the physical blessings and renewal in brings, I also love it because it is an onslaught of reminders that the same type of renewal and beauty is available at all times spiritually with God. He can take the darkest, dreariest life and inject warmth, color, and life!

1 Peter 1:3 tells us that, as Christians, we have a living hope! Ephesians 2 reminds us that we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Friends, that is hope!

So, as you enjoy the colors, scents, and sensations of this wonderful time of year, remember the spiritual hope and renewal that comes through Christ and thank God for spring!

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5 Things a Real Man Has on His Calendar

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I admit it: I live by a calendar and to-do list. I am a total time nerd.

Side note: If Google Calendar ever goes out of existence, I might just be going out of existence, too!

Admittedly, though, I have struggled through the years with a calendar that was filled by everyone else. A few years ago, however, I heard a fellow preacher teach a session at Polishing the Pulpit about time management. He suggested (very strongly) that we need to put everything on our calendars.

I started doing that as best as I could, and what a difference it has made!

The reason is simple: when you put everything on your calendar, your priorities truly set the agenda. This is not necessarily about being a time management ninja; it is about spending time doing what is most important.

With that in mind, I want to speak to men. Specifically, Christian husbands and fathers.

Too many men put “the game” on their calendar (which is fine), but not things that are of far more eternal value.

So, what does a real man have on his calendar? Here are some things to make sure you prioritize on your calendar.

1. Worship

I am a preacher, and yes, I have worship on my calendar. Well, sort of. You see, 9th Avenue has a public Google Calendar with all our events, and we make certain to include worship. I simply subscribe to that calendar (which you can see here), and am reminded of worship.

It may seem silly to have that on my calendar, but if nothing else, it shows my children the absolute priority of worship in our lives. But also, to be honest, there are some dads who need that reminder, and that is okay (at least for awhile).

2. Time with His Wife

Husbands and wives need to continue to date each other. And it must be a priority.

Husbands, let me put it this way: if you are not prioritizing time with your wife, then it is as if you are “dating” your job and hobbies before her.

You may not have the resources to go on a date every week, but surely you can find something romantic to do together once each month. Put it on the calendar and don’t move it for anything, save a major emergency.

3. Specific Time with His Children

Daddy/daughter dates. Specific outings with that strapping boy. It is so easy to let those things slide in all the hurry of life. It is also easy to take your kids to their ball games (or band rehearsals, whatever) and act as if that has been special time.

Real men spend time alone with each of their children. It does not have to be extravagant. It could just be taking her out for an ice cream cone, or taking your boy to shoot hoops in the park.

By the way, it may almost seem callous or cold to actually put these on the calendar, but I disagree. We set the times as a family for one “big” outing each month (we call them “daddy/daughter date” and “time with Turner”). Of course, we do other things together throughout the month, but the kids anticipate these special days or evenings so much.

4: Time Alone with God

I will confess: I do not add this to my calendar now, but I used to, until it became part of my daily routine. For many busy men, reading the Bible and/or prayer time falls by the wayside, simply because it is not given a priority on the calendar. There is no shame in having “time with God” or “read Bible” on your calendar, if it helps you grow closer to the Lord.

5. Birthdays and Anniversary

I know the dates of my wife’s birthday. I know the dates of when my two precious children were born. I know the date of my wedding anniversary.

But I also know I am way busy, so they are on my calendar. I want to see those dates upcoming, not just so I won’t forget to buy something, but so that, from first light in the morning until bedtime, I am celebrating those special days with my family through words of affirmation and praise!

Conclusion

Let me ask, how differently would your life look if these five things were prioritized on your calendar? Would you be closer to the Lord? Would you be more connected with your wife? Would you know the heart of your children better?

Then get out whatever you use for a calendar and start putting your priorities on that grid. That’s what real men do!

RESOURCES

Need a little help with organizing your calendars? Especially if you use Google Calendar (or would like to try it), here are a few resources you might want to check out.

“Google Calendar Tutorial 2015: Quick Start” [VIDEO; YouTube; A very basic starter guide, but very well done]

“Why I’m Trying Google Keep for My To-Do Lists” [VIDEO; Katch.me; I made this video about 2 months ago on Periscope, and am still using Google Keep for my to-do lists.]

“5 Hidden Google Calendar Gems” [VIDEO; YouTube; A bit more advanced, but I love the ideas on this video, and have used almost all of them at one time or another.]

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Should You Spank Your Children?

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It is amazing how the order of words in a sentence can change a statement. What if the title of this article was changed by a slight adjustment in the first two words? It would read, “You should spank your children.”

Certainly if that was the title, more people would be tempted to keep reading. But we are not interested in some flamboyant ploy, or a persuasive human opinion, or a controversial platform. We are interested in truth. Let’s just answer the question: Should parents spank their children as a means of discipline?

The fact that we are even having this conversation goes to show that we are a far cry from where we were a generation ago. My dad used a razor strap. Most of the older generations got to pick their own switch. Sometimes it was a ping-pong paddle or a clothes hanger or a wooden spoon or just a hand – whatever was available. I was spanked regularly for the majority of my developmental years. Many of you out there could say the same. I am sure thankful my parents did so. I was willful and sinful and I needed well-defined boundaries established in my life.

Before we go any further we need to recognize that any form of discipline can lead to abuse. Children who are never touched could still be locked in closets, disallowed access to food and water and shelter, or verbally and mentally abused. There is also no doubt that any physical form of discipline can be taken too far. In 1979, Sweden was the first country to pass a law that forbids any type of physical corporal punishment from parent to child. The last time I was in New Zealand, I was informed of the “No smacking” law – their terminology for the same type of legislation. These laws were incorporated to curtail the rampant child abuse that once existed in these countries. The legislation includes some discretion on the part of law enforcement as to how these laws are interpreted and prosecuted on a case to case basis. Certainly for the safety of children some of these laws can serve a protective purpose.

So there I was Friday night at the Redbox in front of Walgreens when my 8-year-old had a meltdown. She had been going that direction for a few hours (parents you know what I mean). She was begging for some form of readjustment. Right on the spot I gave her a couple swats on the backside. She immediately responded with silence and calmed down. I was confident in the decision I made but also reflective as we drove home of how that might be interpreted by any onlooker. We have always spanked our three children when it was necessary. We have never wanted to. We have never enjoyed it. And we have never failed to explain it or follow it up with teaching and a confirmation of our love for each one of them.

I want to be blunt. I don’t need a twenty-first-century child psychologist to tell me how to raise my children. I am worn out with that stuff. I need my heavenly Father. I need His word. He created us, and he knows what is best for us. He knows how to discipline us. And although there are many forms of punishment, and not all work the same with every child, spanking is not only an option, it is a commandment. And my job as a parent is to do whatever it takes to help my child to respect authority and acquire a healthy fear of the Lord. Children MUST accept correction and understand healthy boundaries if they are to successfully follow God and bless others in this world.

God’s word tells us that if we do not receive our heavenly Father’s chastening then we are illegitimate and, therefore, cannot be called children of God (Hebrews 12:8). It says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). Once more it says, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die” (Proverbs 23:13). While there are no literal beatings and no actual rods being used in our home, certainly we understand the point.

My children are depending on me. I have to answer to God and I have to answer to them when it comes to my part in their development. I am not interested in being “PC.” I am not concerned about cultural changes or public opinion when it comes to their raising. I am interested in the truth. The truth is that spanking is a part of parenting and is at times necessary. At least, it is if we are parenting God’s way…

“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” – Proverbs 13:24

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Why We Need to be Careful When We’re “Just Kidding”

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Anybody who knows me is aware of the fact that I like to laugh. In fact, I agree with a preacher friend of mine who told me years ago that those who might be critical of him because they think he uses too much humor when he preaches might be very proud of him if they knew how much humor he stifles when he preaches!

I often seem to find humor in situations that are not seen as humorous by anybody else. That can cause some real problems at times. I’ve had to apologize more than once for that.

I’ve also had to apologize for something else. I’m wondering how many others have had to do the same or have needed to do the same, but have not done so.

You see, there have been times when I’ve explained away and/or tried to excuse my behavior by trying to convince myself and/or others that I was laughing with somebody. The awful truth is that I was actually laughing at somebody.

I can assure you that this was never done intentionally. Often the person or people in question made it appear as though I was, in fact, laughing with them. After all, they were laughing, too. They seemed to enjoy the joke, situation, or practical joke as much as I was.

How was I to know that, when they were all alone, they were experiencing heartache, anger, or frustration because of my words or actions?

Years ago, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recorded a song that has been re-recorded many times. The song was entitled “The Tracks of My Tears.” 

Although the song was about the heartache felt over the loss of a girlfriend, consider these words as they relate to all of our relationships:

People say I’m the life of the party

‘Cause I tell a joke or two.

Although I may be laughing loud and hearty,

Deep inside I’m blue.

So take a good look at my face.

You’ll see my smile looks out of place.

If you’ll look closer, it’s easy to trace

The tracks of my tears.

May I encourage all of us, including me, to be more sensitive to the feelings of others? Many very close relationships–including friendships, marriages, and churches–have suffered sometimes permanent damage because somebody was just kidding.

That could be at least one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write the following: “Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29, ESV, emphasis added).

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When Your Children Ask about Baptism

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The conversations have started, but they are still very sporadic. With a 10-year-old and a soon-to-be 9-year-old, we are not surprised that our children have started asking questions from time-to-time about baptism.

If you raise your children going to church and Bible classes, the questions are going to start, and likely, they are going to start quite early in life. After all, they hear preachers extend the invitation constantly. Hopefully, they have been present to see people put Christ on in baptism. And probably, they have studied God’s plan of salvation in Bible school, at least a time or two. Their classrooms may even have a chart that is always there, constantly showing them the plan of salvation.

So, it is in their mind, and that’s a good thing!

How are parents to handle these conversations? While this is not meant to be a perfect list, I want to share some principles that we are trying to adhere to as our children ask about baptism. We certainly are not exact in this, but we are trying.

  1. Treat Every Question Respectfully and Seriously. Even if your child asks what you might consider to be a silly question, they are still talking about the most important decision that could ever be made. Treat it with respect, and show them Scripture to point out either their truth or the error of what they are saying.
  2. Let Your Children Bring It Up. Too many parents of smaller children are so concerned with “getting their kids baptized” that they force the conversation. Your child, most likely, will bring it up when it is on his/her mind. Let the conversations happen at their pace. But always–and I mean, always–be willing to talk about it when it is brought up!
  3. Always Appeal to Scripture. This should go without saying, but if anyone–including your kid–is considering becoming a child of God we dare not take them anywhere but to the standard of God’s Word. These do not have to be hour-long explanations of passages, but a look at Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:1-4; and other verses needs to always stand as the basis of our conversation.
  4. Talk Clearly about Sin. One of the most difficult things for many parents to do is to talk about the actual, Biblical purpose of baptism: to liberate us from our sins. While children make mistakes and even do things that are “wrong” at times, a person must have a clear understanding of the need for forgiveness of sins before he/she is ready to be baptized.
  5. Ask about Repentance and the “Need” for Baptism. Especially when I was a youth minister, I would often have a very young person ask to be baptized. I never tried to push them away, but I always tried to talk about if they needed to “repent.” If they said, “No,” I knew they weren’t ready. Also, ask about when they think they might want to be baptized. If they say, “Maybe next week,” or “in a few days,” they simply aren’t prepared. When one knows his/her need for salvation and to turn from sin, only then are they ready–but they are ready right then!

The final tip I will give is one that I have borrowed many times from the excellent little book Am I Ready to be Baptized? by Kyle Butt and John Farber. When a child is seriously considering being baptized, have that child write down why he or she is preparing to be baptized, and write date the paper (or notecard). Remember, let the child write this in his/her own words. Once they have written this down, put the paper or card away.

One of these days, that child will likely question his/her baptism. Did I know enough? Was I sure what I was doing?

When those question arise, simply pull out that paper or card and read. The language may be child-like, but it will let him/her know if they were ready. Typically, if a child is willing to write it down, they are ready, because, in a child-like fashion, they can express just what they needed to do, and it lines up perfectly with the simple plan that God has in place to save people.

It is hard to think of anything that is holier as a parent that the honor and privilege of talking to your children about becoming a brother or a sister in Christ. Treat it as the important thing that young person will ever talk about, because it is!

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Daddies and Daughters

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Recently we have been in the season of the dad/daughter dinner date. I have seen literally hundreds of Facebook posts of pictures with fathers and daughters going to special venues and celebrating their relationship. That our culture is embracing the reality that we need to invest special time and effort into our children is a positive thing. With this being said, I have some specific things I would like to say to all dads out there when it comes to their daughters.

  1. One night on the town is not enough. Please don’t think that just because you had a date night and dressed up and made a special evening out of it that this makes you exempt from the daily responsibilities of being there for your daughter. Sometimes we think that one big gift, or money, or a special event is going to be adequate to fulfill the needs of our children. We argue that work hours are providing hours when the reality is that home hours provide what is most important. Kids need their parents in their lives every single day. The average father only spends a few minutes  per week with each child. This has to change.
  2. Don’t just dress them up, dress them modestly. As a father who has a little girl, there is one thing I have not been able to wrap my head around. Where are the fathers of these young girls and teenagers who are going around without enough clothes or inappropriate, provocative attire? Fathers should know that men are visual creatures and are tempted by what they see. The last thing in this world I want is for my daughter to be inviting men to lust by the way she dresses. Some may say, well moms have the biggest part in clothing styles and outfits. Nonsense! You are the head of the household, fathers! Step up and be a man. If you think a behavior in your family is unrighteous, you have both the power and the responsibility to shut that behavior or activity down.
  3. Show your daughters how a lady should be treated. Obviously, the best way to do this is to treat their mom that way. Never ever yell at her mother! Never use foul language or make derogatory statements about her mother! Never show the slightest hint of physical bullying or threatening behavior towards her mother. Your wife needs to be adored, respected, and lifted up on a pedestal. She needs to be cared for, protected, and handled delicately and with steadfast love. Daughters are going to look for husbands that are like their daddies. Be the husband to your wife that you want the husband to your daughter to be.
  4. Shelter your daughters from evil. You really have a very short time to do this. They are being exposed to evil from every corner. Mass media and social networks are after your daughter. The world is trying to paint a different picture of what a woman is than the one God has painted. Be involved and even be nosey. For her sake don’t be a fool and make assumptions that nothing bad is going to happen to her. Boys and men will try to get to her as she ages. Girls and women who are wicked will try to get her to do the things they do. Fathers, intensely shelter your daughters and don’t be afraid of being labeled as an over-protective parent. My parents were certainly over-protective compared to other parents and I was not allowed to do what all the other kids were doing. I have only one word in my reply to their constant hovering – “Thanks!”
  5. Be their best friend. Do things with them. Listen to them. Adore them. Celebrate them. Rejoice because of them. And yes, let them have you wrapped around their finger for a while. They are leaving! Cherish this NOW! You want their husband to one day be their best friend when you are gone. That will be his role and she should expect this from the man she marries. She won’t let him be her best friend if you are not.

I conclude this article with a few tears. I have a little girl and she is absolutely the apple of my eye. I thank God for her. I never thought being a parent could be like ths:

“May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.” – Psalm 144:12

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A Trophy

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Have you heard the new definition of the word “trophy?” I had not until I attended a meeting for an advisory council on which I serve for one of our local high schools. During the meeting, the discussion turned to a program designed to discourage sexual activity among the students.

During that discussion, I learned about something that takes place on a regular basis among high school students today. A girl is asked by a friend if she is planning to give her boyfriend (or any other boy, for that matter) a trophy

I’m old enough (and out of touch enough) to remember when a trophy was something a high school student received for excellence in the classroom, in sports, on the speech team, the band, etc. Usually, those trophies were displayed proudly for a while and then packed away in some obscure place.

It shocked me to learn that, to today’s high school students, there is another meaning for the word “trophy.” When used in the sense mentioned above, the trophy being referred to is a baby!

I received a real wake-up call at that meeting. I knew that a lot of things had changed since my high school days. I found out that day how much some things have changed.

I also was reminded that it is way past time for God’s people to wake up to what is going on in our society and to do all that we can to positively influence it. Our Lord called his followers the “…salt of the earth…” (Matt. 5:13). 

Usually, when we think of that verse, we are reminded of our need to be distinctive. While that is, indeed, true, I believe it is time to raise another question. What good does it do if God’s people are, in fact, distinctive but never “get out of the salt shaker?” What happens if we sit in the comfort of our homes and church buildings and never try to make an impact on society?

I think I learned at least part of the answer to that during the advisory council meeting. The Bible teaches that a precious child should be brought into this world by two people who have already determined to “… bring [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4, ESV). Instead, we have now reached the place in our society where immortal souls begin their earthly journey as a trophy!

It has been a few months now since I attended that meeting, but the passing of time has not kept me from regularly asking myself an old question I’m sure you’ve heard before:

“What on earth am I doing for heaven’s sake?”

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Episode 51: How OpenDNS Can Help Protect Your Family or Your Church Online (guest Chad Landman) [Podcast]

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On last week’s episode of the podcast, we began a two-part series on managing media in the home. Today, as a follow-up, we are joined by Chad Landman. Chad shares how OpenDNS can help families manage the internet in their home, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime. Also, anyone of any technical level can set this up.

LOFpodcast

Resources

OpenDNS [homepage]

use.opendns.com [This page walks you through setting up OpenDNS on virtually any device in a simple, straightforward manner.]

Home Security [The three “tiers” Chad and Adam discuss on the site. Remember, tiers 1 and 2 are absolutely free.]

Active Digital Parenting [Chad’s page devoted to his seminar, and free resources]

Ministry Bits [Chad’s tech podcast]

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Take Heart

Take Heart

Do you ever have the feeling like you are being hindered in every good thing you’re trying to do? It can be so frustrating to be trying to do your best, and still feel like you are lagging behind in your spiritual life. Since this world is ruled by the devil, he can and will use anything in this world to hinder our walk with God, and he hurls so many obstacles along our path in walking with God. 

It shouldn’t surprise us when we face these obstacles. Every day in this world we will have them. Every day we will try to overcome them, and I hate to bear the bad news, but we cannot overcome them. We can try every gimmick, every Pinterest idea, every great book, and we will not overcome them.

There is Good News!

There is good news, though. In John 16:33, Jesus is talking to His apostles. He is preparing them for His death. After preparing them for what will happen to them in this world He tells them, “I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus has overcome the world. If we depend on Him, and His teachings, we can overcome our troubles in the world.

Two Common Obstacles

What are some obstacles in your world? What are those things that hinder your spiritual life? How can you let Jesus help you overcome those things?

Are you hindered by a hectic schedule that leaves no time for Bible study? Remember Jesus’ words to Martha. When Martha was frustrated because Mary was too busy listening to Jesus, He reminded her that Mary had chosen the better part. We, too, can overcome that hectic schedule and choose the better part in our life.

Are you hindered by a fear of disease or death? We cannot forget that Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” God never wanted sickness and death to be a part of our lives. Remember it was the devil who lied to Eve and said, “You shall not surely die.” But, she did die when she sinned. Eve didn’t just die spiritually; she began to die physically as well.

The Power of Jesus

You see, when Jesus died and rose again, He not only conquered our spiritual death by sin, He conquered our physical death by sin as well. Jesus’ sacrifice ensures that our physical death is not our end. As a Christian, we must keep this in our mind when we contemplate sickness and dying.

It’s true. There will be many things that hinder us on our journey through this world. These are just two, but there are many, many more.

But, if we will lean on Jesus and His words we will overcome, so take heart.

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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

Some Forgettable Names

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Have you ever wondered why the Bible contains so many lists of names? Admittedly, all of those “begats” get a little tedious at times; especially when it is difficult to determine exactly what all of those names have to do with the lineage of our Lord, the history of Israel, or some other subject we may find to be fascinating or important.

Who Are These Guys?

While one reads Genesis 36, a list like this is found. In verses 31 through 39 of that chapter, there is a list of eight different kings of Edom. If you want extra credit on some Bible exam, here are their names: Bela, Jobab, Husham, Hadad, Samlah, Shaul, Ball-hanan, and Hadar.

While I don’t expect that most of us will remember those names very long, I do hope that all of us will remember an important lesson contained in these verses. Each time there is a change in rulers, we read that “________ died, and ________ reigned in his place.”

It is likely that, as each of these men served as a king, he could have thought that he was really making a name for himself. Surely, his name and his accomplishments would be remembered for as long as the world stood. Instead, their names are forgotten except by those may have very, very good memories of Bible facts, names, and places. 

Life is Like a Mist

What the brief biblical record of their reigns can remind us of is the brevity of life. Long before James reminded us that our life is “…a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:17), the brief record of these kings suggests very strongly to us that there are things much more important that titles, power, prestige, and notoriety.

Someday (maybe sooner than we think) somebody else will be doing the job we are now doing; somebody else will be occupying the house in which we now live. In short, somebody else will “in our place.”

You may not know the name Amy Carmichael any better than you know the names of those kings of Edom. Even if you don’t know her name, you might have read or heard the following words that are attributed to her:

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,

only what’s done for God will last.

That’s worth remembering!

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