Episode 22: The Importance of Every Family Member being in Bible Class {Podcast}

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As we continue our March theme of the relationship between the family and the church, we take this week’s program to consider how the Bible school program is a great tool for families to use. But, every member of the family must be involved for it to provide the most help. In this week’s program, we give four reasons why.

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Four Reasons for Every Member to be Involved

1. Bible class provides Biblical education for all ages.

2. Bible class gives parents a great way to lead by example.

3. Bible class allows parents to live out the priority they “say” they have on the Bible and church.

4. Bible class allows each member of the family to connect with others of their own age/life experience.

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Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward


Churches, For the Sake of Families, Keep It Simple

This month on our podcast, Leah and I are spending time thinking about “The Relationship between the Church and the Family.”

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In our first episode of the month, we talked about one issue that I felt needed to be fleshed out a little more, so we talked about it for a few moments, but decided to also put some of those thoughts in a dedicated blog post.

As a preacher, one appeal I often make is for families to try to simplify as much as possible. Children do not need to be involved in a zillion activities (karate, baseball, piano, gymnastics, etc.) in order to be fulfilled. Too often, parents become glorified chauffeurs, running their children to-and-fro from one activity to the next.

Now, am I against children being involved in things? Not at all. But we all know it can get to be too much. Add to that all the clubs, boards, and so on that mom and dad are in, and a family rarely is spending truly quality together.

And then they come to church and are reminded of that again and again.

But if we are honest, it could be that churches also have some of the blame for families being spread so thin.

The announcements are made on Sunday, and your family can’t help but look at one another and see how this week is going to strain your already swelling calendar. This committee is meeting Monday night. The youth group has an activity Tuesday after school. There is a work night Tuesday evening, a meal before Wednesday night Bible study, and another committee meeting Thursday evening. The men have a breakfast Saturday morning, and about the time that’s done, the young people leave for a day trip.

Oh…and we didn’t mention Sunday worship or Bible classes.

And if sister Sally–who is in critical condition–dies, there will be a funeral to attend (and it’s your month on the food committee).

That may be a bit over-the-top, but for many congregations, that is not an unheard of weekly schedule. Six of the seven days have something (and we usually load up Sunday afternoons as much as possible, too).

And then we wonder why are families are not “as involved as they should be.” Let me ask: in which of those things do the vast majority of congregations expect families to be involved? (The answer, whether we want to admit it or not, is “all of them.”)

If we are going to teach that the family is of utmost importance, maybe it is time our church calendars reflected that. I am all for active congregations; in fact, some who know me may be shocked I’m writing an article on this topic. Activities are good, but there are many more efficient ways to be active without using up every evening…and then chastising families for not being involved in every activity.

Here are a few general suggestions for a congregation to consider.

1. Combine events. Instead of a youth “fun” outing each month and a devotional, why not have the devotional on the bus ride to or from the outing? Move the men’s (or women’s) breakfast to Sunday morning instead of Saturday, since the attendees will be coming to the church building anyway.

2. Cancel some activities. I know, we aren’t supposed to cancel anything, but we can become so bloated with activities that very few are effective. Let some go, and free up more time for families. (Not to mention, it will help the activities that remain be more effective, but that’s a different post.)

3. Be respectful of the clock. If you say an event will only take 60 minutes, it should only last 60 minutes (maximum). The more something drags on, that time is taken from families.

It is a delicate balance, to be sure, but to be consistent with what we preach and teach, the church does not need to contribute to the problem of families being too busy. For the sake of family, I urge churches to take a serious look at the calendar, simplify where they can, and encourage families to spend more time together as families.


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The Charismatic Comeback

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Pentecostalism and its tenants arose around the beginning of the 20th century. This religious group first began with a reclaiming of the miraculous spiritual gifts that were characteristic of the apostolic age. To date, their church historians boast over 200 million members worldwide who would fall into the category of “Denominational Pentecostals.”

Slightly separate–but not altogether removed–from the rise of Pentecostalism was the Charismatic Movement of the mid-20th century. The influence and popularity of the notion that the Holy Spirit was once again working miraculously began infiltrating the denominational spectrum. This movement brought forth the creation of “Charismatic Christians;” that is, those who believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in the New Testament are available to contemporary Christians. The gifts are viewed as supernatural, manifested by miracles, signs, and wonders. The specific nature of the gifts include, but are not limited to, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, healing, prophecy, knowledge, and spiritual discernment.

As the Charismatic movement began to spread, so did televangelism. Networks like PTL quickly sprang up and gave rise to money-making schemes and charismatic personalities. But the Jim Bakkers and the Jimmy Swaggarts of the movement soon left the effort lagging and unpopular. Preacher’s mansions, stories of adultery and scandal, combined with the imagery of churches robbing widow ladies of their life’s savings took away quickly from excitement of the charismatic community. Before long momentum was lost, and it was back to denominations doing their own thing as usual.

The 21st century religious culture is different. The charismatic movement is back, and stronger than ever. It just wears a different face. People are once again “hooked on a feeling.” And the modern view of the Holy Spirit is providing the people who love to feel for God exactly what they want. People are shying away from denominationalism. Instead, they are interested in churches that can’t be put in a box. Even people in the Lord’s church have been persuaded into a desire for an anointing that resides somewhere outside of the Biblical text.

The churches with the biggest rise in numbers are basically lingering shadows of Pentecostalism in their beliefs and practices, but they don’t want the name. Instead they want the name of a mountain, or a river, or a creek, or a fruit of the spirit. They want to sound holy, inspirational, and transcendent. They want the world to believe they can come to their church to receive enlightenment and a holy awakening. They tell millennials that they don’t have to believe what their parents believed. And the disgruntled, over-structured middle-aged and the post-high school idealists are flocking to them.

The problem lies in what is being lost in that which seems to be a worthy attempt at spirituality. There is an overall lack of respect for the authority of Scripture. People who attend these churches are often sold on the social aspect of a Christian community, but the community has no true depth. Churches now resemble coffee houses or indoor theme parks.

True Christianity is not outward but inward. It is a taught religion. Its very identity is found in a deep and meaningful study of the word of God. God’s word is unchanging. It is settled in heaven. And the church that is His is not a new church, but rather the same church that Jesus built on Pentecost. It is a pre-denominational entity, the one body of Christians to whom the New Testament was written. The true church still wears a Biblical name, is organized by the authority of Scripture, and worships and practices according to the divine text.

The charismatic comeback has no concerns for such notions. Whatever appeals to the senses, whatever entertains the masses, whatever fills the pews will happily be provided by these new user-friendly churches. It has become less about God and more about the people. It is no longer what can I do for the church, but what can the church do for me? It is no longer what church should I belong to, but it is what is the church of my choice?

The same spirit that said over a century ago, “We want the miraculous gifts back,” is now saying, “We want our right to feel the way we want to feel.” Either way, it is the same spirit. It is the spirit of humanism over the humility that enthrones God. In the end, it will lead to the same destiny. The people will be allowed to shape God into their own image, and in the end the god they serve will cease to be Jehovah. And in the judgment scene this god they have created will deliver about as well as the gods of Mount Carmel. And that won’t be a feeling anyone will want to experience.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4


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A Lost Hour

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When the time changed yesterday, did you get up at 2:00AM and change your clock? If not; why not?  Didn’t you know that Daylight Savings Time officially began then?

Of course, I’m being facetious. Unless you are really a stickler for detail, you probably did what was done at our house. You set your clocks ahead one hour last night before you went to bed.

There is one expression I hear every year as we “spring ahead” and start Daylight Saving Time. Often this practice is described as losing an hour.

To me, there is just something sad about saying that. I don’t like the idea of losing an hour. I understand that, as we “fall back” later this year, we will say that we “gained an hour,” but I still don’t like the idea of losing an hour. 

However, this expression has caused me to do some thinking — and self-evaluating. This expression has caused me to ask myself how many hours I’ve lost without doing anything to the clock? I wonder how often I’ve misused or abused the time I have each day.

In 1982, a board game was released. In 1993, the game was added to the “Games Hall of Fame” by Games magazine. A number of different editions have been produced and multiple millions of the games have been sold. I wonder if the name of that game would characterize how I spend too much of my time?

In case you haven’t guessed, the name of that game is Trivial Pursuit.

I wonder how many hours I’ve lost in trivial pursuit without playing the board game.

According to the English Standard Version of the Bible, there are two passages that admonish us that we need to be “…making the best use of the time” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5).  I’m afraid that, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us would agree that we fall short here.

About a century ago, a man by the name of C.T.Studd wrote a poem entitled Only One Life.  You may not be familiar with him or the entire poem, but I’m sure you’ve heard the words that are repeated throughout the poem:

Only one life, ‘twill soon be passed,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {March 6, 2015 edition}

A few weeks ago, we started a little experiment with this weekly family links post. We tried adding a new section called “From the Twitter Timeline” where we linked to posts that were not necessarily family related, but still helpful.

This week, we have decided to remove that extra section, with the desire of focusing again on family related posts. That said, we are still wanting to give you lots of family links for your weekend reading, so we are going to tweak things yet again.

Our plan for the next few weeks is to “supersize” our list of links, and to give you a very short description of each one, to help you decide which you want to read. Of course, we hope you’ll read all of them, but we hope to have at least 7 posts in each week’s list, so adding a short description should help you if you want to just read a few.

With that said, let’s get to this week’s family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

10 Ways of Showing Complete Fidelity in Marriage {Nurturing Marriage}. While this is a great list, #1 on their list is so important, and something I see/hear all the time that can chip away at a relationship over time.

How to Respond to Hurtful Words in Front of the Kids {Mark Merrill}. Sometimes, a spouse is going to say something hurtful and the children are right there. How should you respond? It’s sad this post is needed, but it is needed.

20 Date Night Conversation Starters {for the family}. You finally get a date night with your spouse. Now, what (besides the kids) can you talk about?

Your Husband Can’t Read Your Mind {Of the Hearth}. A very simple post about how wives can effectively communicate with their husbands.

3 Ways Dads Can Have More Meaningful Conversations with Our Kids {Jackie Bledsoe}. We know time is necessary, but where can we find that time, and how can we use it in ways that are truly effective?

5 Rights of the Bereaved Parent {Still Standing Magazine}. A powerful post about how grieving is okay for parents who have lost a child. Very well done and empowering.

7 Ways to Start an Argument with Your Spouse {Mark Merrill}. A tongue-in-cheek post that really is meant to show why arguments begin, and how to avoid them. You may know everything on this list, but it also may be time for an all-important review!

Learning Lessons {Active Digital Parenting}. Can the future of our children and teens be negatively affected by what they are doing today on social media? This post suggests it most surely can.

Kids Aren’t Expensive, but That Other Thing Sure Is {House to Home}. A post that needs to be read prayerfully. Are kids expensive, or is our greed actually what causes us to have a negative view of children?

Choosing What is Better: Finding Time to Spend with the Lord as a Busy Mom {Of the Hearth}. Not accusatory in any way, this is a very practical post for spiritually-minded moms.

3 Ways to Tell Your Spouse Isn’t Happy, and 1 For You {Project Family}. A very straightforward post that a lot of spouses need to read with open eyes.

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily written during the last 7 days, but they drew the most views in that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Tweaking Our Speaking (March 2, 2015)

#4: Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (July 5, 2013)

#3: There’s More to Life than Likes (March 4, 2015)

#2: The Preacher’s Oath (March 3, 2015)

#1: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

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Episode 21: What Churches Can Do to Help Families {Podcast}

(Click here to listen on the blog.)

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In the month of March, our podcast is designed to talk about the relationship between families and the church. For our first episode, Adam and Leah discuss ways that churches can show real support to families, especially families with children.

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5 Ways Churches Can Support Families

1. Strengthen Ties with Other Christians

2. Serve Families Through the Education Program

3. Show Families New Ways to Teach Children

4. Supply Families Time to be Families

5. Support What (Should be) Happening at Home

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Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward


There’s More to Life than Likes

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I was about to leave my office when I decided to check my email one last time, trying to free up those few moments later in the day for my family.

Am I ever glad I did.

In my email was a message from a family site that I enjoy going to, sharing a couple of new videos they had come out with. One of them caused me to stop and literally say a brief prayer about my own life and parenting.

Here it is (don’t worry, it’s less than a minute long).

(Video not playing? Click here.)

Parents, I want to ask: are we making the life of our families and our children more about how many likes we can garner on social media?

For too many of us, we think that the world needs to know everything our children are doing, and then we somehow don’t feel validated if that post doesn’t receive a significant amount of social media interaction.

All the while, we are setting up our family as more of a reality show, just without the Hollywood budget. Is this really what we want?

Now, before giving some suggestions, let me state this disclaimer. I am not saying that we should never post any pictures or anything else about our family. After all, that is one of the great uses of social media. I love seeing children of my friends as they grow up, and I like knowing various things about those I cannot physically be near due to geography. But do we feel the need to update all the time?

We need to be teaching our children that there is more to life than likes. And some of us adults need to learn that lesson ourselves.

So, how can we do that? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Don’t Post Something from Every Event. They call them “family” outings, so why not keep a few of your outings just for your family?

2. Forget Instagram-worthy Pictures. One of my favorite things about the video above is the dad trying to get the boy to get more excited. Some people are more concerned with how a picture will look to others than about simply enjoying the memory.

3. (Gulp) Don’t Take Pictures. Trust me, I like them, too. But it is nice, every so often, to just go somewhere and not worry about thinking you need a camera or cell phone to remember the experience. Spend the time talking and enjoying, instead of posing.

4. When You Do Post, Forget the Likes. Just because you’re “perfect” zoo picture did not garner tons of likes on Facebook or Instagram, you still (hopefully) have a memory that is far more important than how many other people interact with that one photo.

Take–and post–some pictures, but let’s do our best to spend more of our energy making memories instead of searching for the most social-media-ready pictures.

We are living in a time when social media interaction–or lack of it–has literally been linked to anxiety and depression among young people. But I wonder if the same is true of some of us adults, too. Are we spending more time thinking about how that picture of our children will look to others on Facebook, or are we actually enjoying our children?

In the end, I think we know which one matters more. Now it’s time we lived like it.


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The Preacher’s Oath

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Hippocrates is known by many as the father of medicine in Western culture. As one who believed in moral conduct, he either wrote or at least influenced the formation of the Hippocratic Oath. This 5th century document, written originally in Ionic Greek, has for centuries stood as the archetype by which physicians measure themselves with regard to ethical standards of practice. Though it has been updated and modernized in many ways, versions of the oath are still found to be useful in the field of medicine today. Nearly every graduate of every medical school is expected to sign an oath of conduct that includes the promise to respect human life and acknowledge the inherent value of every individual.

If it is considered important to have a code of conduct when given the responsibility of health care for the human body, it seems to make sense that it would be even more necessary to have a standard of morality regarding the care of the human soul. If Preachers were to have their own official oath – a written document to be signed and followed, what would be included? Here is my own suggestion. Perhaps you can add a few thoughts that deserve inclusion:

“As a preacher of the gospel, according to the work to which I have been appointed by God through His word, I promise that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath, to the utmost of my power and judgment.

I will reverence my Master who has created me, died for me, and by His grace saved me, and who has given me the truth of His holy written word by the power and revelation of the Holy Spirit.

At all times I will put my Lord Jesus Christ and His church first. I will be willing to suffer persecution, punishment, and even death for the cause of Christ and His kingdom. I will protect the sanctity, unity, and identity of the one church that Jesus built at all cost.

I will impart to others the complete teachings of the Scriptures, which I accept in total as the inerrant and sacred breath of God. I will hold nothing back, but in truth and in love I will publicly proclaim God’s message, having rightly divided it, and having studied for my own understanding before attempting to help others understand. I will in my preaching be innocent of the blood of all men.

With regard to helping the sin-sick souls of the earth, I will devise and order for them the best spiritual diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.

Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer a spiritual poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of doctrine to any person in order to deceive or hurt or injure or cause the loss of spiritual life.

Further, I will comport myself and use my knowledge in a godly manner.

I will not judge the soul of any man, but I will leave the judgment to the eternal and heavenly God.

Whatsoever house or place of care I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the host; and I will willingly refrain from doing any wrong, or ever engaging in any relationship or activity that might lead to some temporal benefit for myself, whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to help, without regard to race, gender, or social standing.

Whatever, in the course of my practice, I may see or hear (even when not invited), whatever I may happen to obtain knowledge of, if it be not proper to repeat it, I will keep sacred and secret within my own breast.

May no man seek to glorify me, and even if such may occur, may I denounce such and openly and humbly attribute any and all glory to God. May I never boast in anything except in the cross of Christ.

I will daily, by the grace of God, rise to serve my Master first, help others second, and keep myself last, even to the going down of the sun. For me to live each day will be Christ, and to die will be gain.

If I faithfully observe this oath, may I thrive and prosper in my fortune and profession, and live in the estimation of posterity; or on breach thereof, may the reverse be my fate!”

“For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.” – 2 Corinthians 4:5


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Tweaking Our Speaking

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I’ve been wondering lately if we don’t try to make ourselves feel better with some “vocabulary tweaks.” Is there any chance that we’ve turned things that are not spiritual at all into “spiritually sounding” things by using certain words and phrases.

For example:

Am I really concerned about being a good steward, or am I just a tight-fisted miser?

Am I a faithful Christian, or am I merely a regular worship attender?

Am I truly zealous for the Lord, or am I merely a workaholic?

Does my life exhibit humility and holiness, or am I proud of my rule-keeping?

Am I really concerned about “contend(ing) for the faith” (Jude 3), or am I really just contentious about my opinions and desires?

Am I really a soul winner, or merely a scorekeeper?

Am I interested in the growth of the kingdom, or am I merely interested in swelling my home congregation?

Am I really interested in “…the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), or is there peace only when things are going the way I want them to go?

Do I kid myself into thinking that I am a fisher of men, when, in reality, I am only a keeper of the aquarium?

Do I preach and teach with boldness, or am I just arrogant and obnoxious by nature?

Have I equated sound with negative?

Given enough time and thought, there are probably many others that I could mention, but these are just a few that come to mind. Maybe you could make your own list.

Maybe we all need to look at whatever list we come up with and see if we, indeed, are living up to this Divine directive:

Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God…

(1 Peter 4:11, NASU)


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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {February 27, 2015 edition}

I know this is going to make me sound really old, but can you believe we are one day from being done with two months of this year already? We are just one day from finishing February and beginning March. Just amazing.

As usual, we have a great group of family links for you this week, and we hope you enjoy each one!

By the way, it is just by coincidence that three of the posts this week are lists of 10. I like lists, but that’s a bit odd. Oh well.

On to the family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

What Moms Should Teach Their Sons to Look for in a Girl AND What Moms Should Teach Their Daughters to Look for in a Boy {Daily Bread}

10 Ways to Push Your Spouse Away {Mark Merrill}

10 Simple Ways to Show Your Husband You Love Him {for the family}

I Want My Daughters to Know what a Real Woman Looks Like {We are THAT Family}

The 10 Best Compliments You Can Give Your Wife {Nurturing Marriage}

From the Twitter Timeline

These posts are not necessarily about family, but we shared them throughout the week on Twitter. If you missed them then, we hope you enjoy them now!

Enthusiasm is Contagious! {Preacher Pollard}

How to Read Your Compass {Life and Favor}

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily written during the last seven days, but they drew the most views in that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (July 5, 2013)

#4: The Burden of Truth (February 24, 2015)

#3: A Beautiful Home (February 23, 2015)

#2: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

#1: 49 Reasons to Give Thanks Today (February 25, 2015)

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