Book Review: “Bethlehem Road”

I love the Old Testament book of Ruth. The more I read and study the Bible, the more I find myself drawn to this grand narrative. I also like reading about the book of Ruth, so that I can focus again on the amazing account nestled between the books of Judges and 1 Samuel.

So, when Michael Whitworth wrote a guide to Ruth, I was eager to get it and read it. Simply put, I was not disappointed. As with Whitworth’s other “guides,” Bethlehem Road is a great blend of scholarship and readability that helps the Bible student get the meat of the Word.

Using the death of his own father as the backdrop, this is Whitworth’s most personal volume to date. In the introduction, this tragic story serves to draw the reader in, and then helps transition to the tragic opening of the book of Ruth.

The reader will find that Bethlehem Road helps them gain valuable insight into several customs as well as matters of geography and history that add a great deal of depth to their study. Whitworth, as always, has done his homework and has found several gems that lay under the surface of this great book. One of the major takeaways of this book is the overwhelming sense of God’s providence. The book of Ruth centers on that, and Whitworth makes sure the reader does not miss it.

Divided into four chapter (to coincide with the four chapters of Ruth), the book is a quick read. But do not let the relative brevity of the book keep you away. If you like to study Ruth, the Old Testament in general, or the providence of God, you will find this book to be not only helpful, but delightful.

Pick up a copy here. Read it, and thank me later!

I’ll Try It Out Sometime

I'll try it out sometime

Because of the location of our house and my office, I get to see a lot of high school students walking to or from school. Maybe “trudging” would be a more accurate description — especially in the mornings.

It is not unusual for our paths to intersect when I am walking to or from my office or our house. Every time that happens, I say, “hello,” ask how their day has been, wish them well for the day, kid them about getting smarter every day, etc. I even get a response every once in a while — when they are not too much into the music that is being “mainlined” into their ears.

It happened again recently. I was walking from the house to the office and met a young girl who was walking to school. We exchanged greetings (in spite of the wires hanging out of her ears). I asked her if she lived close by and she said her home was a few blocks away.

It was at that point that I asked her to worship with us. I’m still thinking about her response:

“I’ll try it out sometime.”

The way she shrugged her shoulders and the fact that she had to work her response around yet another bubble she was blowing, didn’t add a great deal of legitimacy to that response. But who knows? Maybe she was serious about “trying us out.” I am praying that she was.

However, at the same time, I’m wondering if her statement is not indicative of how many view the whole concept of religion. For many, it may merely be just something to try out. If it doesn’t “fit,” or suit one’s needs, it can be discarded in favor of something more appealing and satisfying.

The problem with that thinking may, in fact, be found in one word — religion. “Religion,” in itself, is not necessarily a bad word. James wrote in both a positive and negative vein about religion. In the space of two verses, he wrote about a vain, worthless, or useless religion and about a religion that is pure and undefiled.

It is not that the word is bad. What is bad is the thinking that religion is only something we do from time to time.

How about some words that more accurately describe what pleases the Lord? How about words like “commitment,” “servant,” and “sacrifice?” How about the whole concept of Jesus being Lord (with everything that Lordship entails)?

It’s beginning to sound like we’re talking about a lifestyle instead of a fad. It sounds more and more like the purpose of our existence is to please Jesus and glorify Him and His Father instead of pleasing ourselves.

I wonder how many are willing to try that out — all the time.

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {September 5, 2014 edition}

It has been a wonderful couple of weeks. Since we last published a Family Friendly Finds, we have read a lot of great material, and we are thrilled to share with you several family links in this week’s edition.

We continue to see growth in the site, and we appreciate all the encouragement you give us! If you ever feel like you have something to contribute to a post, feel free to comment at the bottom of that post. We read every comment, and would love to have more “engagement” with you through the comments.

With that said, on to this week’s family links!

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

5 Toxic Marriage Habits {The Time Warp Wife}

A Letter from a Dad to Carl’s Jr. and the Women in Their Commercials {Greg Trimble}

Why I’m Glad We Don’t Have Cable or Satellite TV {Of the Hearth}

A Parent’s Ultimate Guide to YouTube {Common Sense Media}

15 Ways to Help Kids Stay Connected with Their Grandparents (Near of Far) {My Kids’ Adventures}

This is Parenting {Life in the Kingdom}

The Way You Give Instructions {National Center for Biblical Parenting}

Our (Two) Weeks in Review

The following were our five most-viewed posts in the past two weeks. These were not necessarily published in the last 14 days; they just drew the most views. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

#5: Marriage is All about “U” (August 27, 2014)

#4: Freeze Tag (August 28, 2014)

#3: Momma’s Fresh Peach Pie (August 29, 2014)

#2: “Ohhhhhhh Boy!” (August 26, 2014)

#1: A Response to Victoria Osteen about Worship (September 2, 2014)

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Episode 4 : 5 Common Homeschool Myths {Podcast}

(Audio not working? Click here to listen on the blog.)

Welcome to episode 4 of A Legacy of Faith’s podcast. In this episode Adam and Leah talk about homeschooling, but from a little different angle. Instead of trying to win you over, we simply talk about 5 common homeschool myths and why they do not need to factor into your thinking if you are considering teaching your children through homeschool.

LOFpodcast (1)

The Myths

1. I Can’t Teach My Own Kids in a Formal Way

2. My Kids Would Hate Being Bottled Up in the House All Day

3. Homeschool Kids Don’t Learn Socialization Skills

4. I Don’t Have the Patience to Do This

5. Homeschooled Kids Don’t Test Well or Do Well in College

Resources

“Number of Homeschoolers in America?” (a2z Homes Cool)

More Information

Join our email newsletter and receive a free eBook here.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

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Visit the show archives

————–

Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

Next Episode (September 18): Our Thoughts on “Smart Money, Smart Kids”

Another Helpful Resource

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Response to Victoria Osteen about Worship

response to victoria osteen

It is only 36 seconds in length, but it has caused waves in the online world. It is a video of Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel Osteen, as she described the reason why we worship.

If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

(Video not playing? Click here to watch on YouTube.)

So, when we worship, it isn’t about God. It’s about us being happy. Overall, that’s the takeaway from Victoria Osteen’s short speech.

If I may, I would like to respond to her words.

1. God’s Primary Concern is Not Our Happiness. It’s Our Holiness. Mrs. Osteen’s words only reflect a very commonly held view in modern religion, and that is that God’s primary concern with my day-to-day walk is that I be happy. While that certainly sounds good, it is not the message of Scripture. Yes, I know we are to be people of joy (Philippians 4:4, et.al.), but joy and happiness are not the same thing. When Paul was shipwrecked, when Christians were run from Jerusalem, and when Stephen was stoned, were they happy? Well, then I guess they weren’t living right in Victoria Osteen’s world. But they were certainly people who were holy, and that is what matters to the Lord (see 1 Peter 1:16).

2. Worship is Primarily toward God. In studying, preaching, and writing about the Psalms this year, I have been filled with this idea in a deeper way than ever. Worship is ascribing to God what He is due. Every aspect of our worship (singing, Bible study, prayer, giving, and communing) is God-centered and is meant to lift Him up as the only One worthy of such adoration. Anything less than that puts something else before God, which is the very definition of idolatry. If I come to worship seeking my own happiness, I have made my personal feelings my idol.

3. Our “Horizontal” Goal in Worship is Teaching and Admonishing, Not Happiness. We are told in the New Testament that our singing is to be such that it teaches and admonishes (Colossians 3:16). There is an encouragement bound up in admonition, but the word also means “to warn.” Teaching can lead to happiness, but not everything we teach is going to make us happy in the moment.

4. Knowing God is Pleased is My Joy. This is where the “God wants you to be happy” doctrine misses it. Their idea is that, if I’m happy then God is happy. Instead, when I have done my best to worship God and I know He is pleased, then am filled with joy.

I know that Victoria Osteen is not the first person to teach this idea of doing what makes you happy and that will please God. But I also know, tragically, she will not be the last. Our joy as Christians is to lift God up before the world, no matter if it brings us some earthly happiness or not. Mrs. Osteen would do well to understand that concept, but so would we all.

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A Labor Day News Dump

Sometimes, you just have to get a lot of stuff out that may not be something for a full post. Today, we thought we’d take advantage of the Labor Day holiday to share with you several items in a rapid fire way. Enjoy your holiday!

Leah’s PtP Slideshow

First, at last week’s Polishing the Pulpit, Leah presented a class to ladies on modest clothes for young girls. We thought you might find her PowerPoint interesting, so, here you go…

Speaking of Polishing the Pulpit…

What an amazing crowd! I don’t remember the exact attendance at the 2013 PtP, but it was about 2800. This year, there were over 3600 who registered for the event. If you are not familiar with Polishing the Pulpit, visit their website and see what all the buzz is about! Then, start making plans to attend in 2015.

Our First Digital Download

Over the years, I (Adam) have written several books and self-published them. We have recently added one of those books, Blessings from Revelation, to our store as a digital download. You can download the pdf version of the book for just $2.50. Click here to visit our store, which currently has one free item and (now) the digital book.

Donation Button

We have said before that A Legacy of Faith is not intended to be a huge money-maker, but we also do have costs associated with running the sites and podcast. If you like what you get from us, we have added a “donate” button to the right-hand sidebar of the blog. You can use it to donate via PayPal. Any amount will help us offset the costs and would be appreciated. (If you are reading through email or rss, click here to visit the blog where the button is found.)

Video Summer Series Update

In early 2014, we told you about the Video Summer Series, “Building Godly Families.” We could not be any more pleased with how that series has been received. At last count, 43 congregations are either currently using the videos, or have registered (for free) to use them in the future! To God be all the glory for how these are being utilized. If you don’t know about this resource, click here to visit the site.

Momma’s Fresh Peach Pie {Recipe}

mommas fresh peach pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

mommas fresh peach pie recipe

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

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

Proverbs 31:10-12

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Freeze Tag

freeze tag

It’s the movie my little girl loves and her older brothers tolerate because of one very funny little snowman and some trolls. This movie has been lauded for amazing songs and parodied in almost every way possible. It has also caused a swirl of controversy over the possibly not-so-hidden agenda of those who created it.

I, of course, am talking about Frozen. It broke the debut record set by the Lion King and changed lives (and ears) of elementary school teachers everywhere. There is much more I could say about this movie, but I want to make one – hopefully – unexpected application.

Many Christians have been upset by a trend set by Disney that is, at best, moving away from traditional family values as established by God (cf. Genesis 2:24). Instead of focusing on that, may I suggest that we spend our energy sending our “own” message?

You see, when I saw Frozen, I saw a young woman in the beginning stages of a romance with the “reindeer king” decide that sacrificing her own wants and even needs was the right thing to do. She knew someone else, her sister, needed her help much more than she needed “true love’s kiss” so she put her desires and her life on hold to offer that help.

Now, I’m sure that’s not the message Disney intended. But instead of allowing the world to dictate what we see and hear, why don’t we make some noise about an altruistic, others-focused love that sounds an awful lot like what we are told to do in the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) and in countless other passages of scripture (e.g. John 15:13, Mark 12:31). Maybe if we as Christians were busier teaching God’s way instead of bemoaning the agenda of others, we could be that light that Christ called us to be (Matthew 5:14).

See the bigger picture. Show the love God wants us to show. Put others first. Play “freeze tag.”

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

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Marriage is All About “U”

marriage is all about u

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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