A Phone Call…and My Prayer Life

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We had enjoyed having our family spend the holidays with us. Our children and grandchildren had left earlier that day for their homes. Neither one of us were feeling well, so the job of putting clean sheets on the beds they had slept in would be left for another day…

…or so we thought.

All of that changed at about 9:45 p.m. with one phone call. The call was from out of state. A family was going through a real crisis. I am not exaggerating when I say that it could easily have been a life or death type of crisis. 

The caller informed us that one of the members of the family was either in, or close to, Paducah. Because there was a genuine concern about this person’s safety, I was being asked if this person could spend the night with us. Of course, the answer was, “Yes.”

So, instead of getting some rest and trying to fight off whatever Donna and I were dealing with, a bed had to be made available and other preparations had to be made for our newest houseguest. We waited.

We didn’t have to wait long. The person arrived. Until about 1:00 the next morning we offered a few suggestions, made some recommendations, and tried to empathize. Mostly, though, we just listened. We just “tried to be there” for somebody who needed a “port in the storm” for an evening.

Later that morning, our houseguest left and headed for home. We haven’t heard how things are going since that late night and early morning.

As I reflect on all of that, I have two thoughts. First, we hope that our efforts helped somewhat. We would do it again without question. Though a number of miles separate us, that family was then, and is now, in our prayers.

The second thought I have is a little (okay, a lot) more introspective. I wonder how often I call on God only when there is a crisis. How often do I want Him to be “there for me” when life seems to be caving in, but “put Him on the shelf” when things seem to be perking along just fine?

We do not want to intrude, but it would be nice to know how things are going with our friends. It is always great to hear from people you know and love “just because,” and not just when there is a crisis.

I can only imagine how my Father feels when I fail to communicate with Him regularly just because I love Him; want to express my gratitude to Him; and share with Him my joys as well as my sorrows.

My prayer life could use some improvement.  How about yours?

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {January 30, 2015 edition}

What a wonderful week! We hit a bit of an odd, but cool, milestone on the blog, and we were honored to be part of another Christian podcast.

First, the podcast. Our friends Wesley and Denise Skelton host a new program on The Light Network called “Arrows in Our Hand: Parenting with a Purpose.” Last Friday evening, Leah and I were honored to be interviewed for their program and the interview was released this week. We love this new show (and not just because we were on it), and you will gain a great deal by listening and subscribing to what they have to teach through the program. Check out their show archives, including the program we were part of, here.

Then, the milestone. On Tuesday, I got an email saying that our newsletter could not be sent for that day. I thought it was some technical issue that was going to take up my entire day to solve. Instead, it was because our email list has grown so much that we had maxed out our free account with our email client, MailChimp! Though we now have to pay to send out the emails, we are glad for the reason. We are now just shy of 700 subscribers and are thankful for the growth. You can sign up to join the list at the bottom of this post. By the way, if you would like to help us offset the cost of running A Legacy of Faith, we have created a Patreon account, where you can give each month to help us. In fact, we have made it so that you can give as little as $1 per month! To learn more about helping us in this way, go here.

Whew! All that said, let’s move on to this week’s family links!

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

Google Search of the Week: How to Talk to Your Wife about 50 Shades of Grey {Your Mom as a Blog}

What If I Got Hit by a Bus {for the family}

5 Things That You Think Say “I Love You,” but Don’t {Mark Merrill}

How Girls are Seeking (and Subverting) Approval Online {Common Sense Media}

From the Twitter Timeline

These are posts that are not necessarily family related, but that we tweeted during the week. In case you missed them on Twitter, enjoy them now!

Learning How to Tell Someone “No” {Jon Acuff}

One Old-Tech Secret for High Achievers {Michael Hyatt}

Was It Free? {The Morning Drive}

Fear of Public Speaking {Seth Godin}

“No Matter What” Obedience {Preacher Pollard’s Blog}

Stop Saying “God Knows My Heart” to Excuse Sin {Radically Christian}

Our Week in Review

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

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

#4: It is For a Good Cause (January 26, 2015)

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

#2: Separation Anxiety (January 27, 2015)

#1: Racy Ads and the Places We Go (Yes, This Is about Carl’s, Jr….Sort Of) (January 28, 2015)

Connect with A Legacy of Faith

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Episode 16: A Mother’s Heart {Podcast}

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A mother’s heart is filled with treasure. In this week’s devotional-length podcast, we think about having that kind of heart as a mother.

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Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

Racy Ads and the Places We Go (Yes, This is about Carl’s Jr., Sort Of)

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It is Super Bowl time. For many, the game is primary, while for others, the commercials are looked forward to with just as much anticipation. With a huge number of people watching the game, advertisers have long focused huge amounts of effort and revenue in creating ads that will be talked about long after the final whistle blows on the game.

In recent years, some companies have made a name for themselves with racy, sexually-charged ads that have gotten talked about, which is the goal, I guess. Most companies have started to turn away from this style of commercial (thankfully). It is reported that even GoDaddy.com, one of the first to try to shock viewers with sexually-charged ads, will have a very tame ad this year.

But not Carl’s Jr.

The hamburger chain continues to churn out ads that use women to sell fries and burgers. The ad they will show in the western US during the Super Bowl this year will, according to media reports, feature a woman who seems to be nude, but turns out to be wearing a bikini in the end.

Now, this article is not going where you think it is going. I am not going to call for a boycott of Carl’s Jr., although that might be a wise thing to do. I am not going to turn this into an argument about watching TV with discretion, even though that is certainly needed.

Instead, I want you to consider something that a Carl’s Jr. representative said as to why they do not feel this advertisement is over the line.

“We don’t show anything you wouldn’t see at the beach.”

When I read that comment in a news report, I was stunned. What stunned me was how so many people are completely outraged that this kind of ad would be on television, but then who will see exactly the same type of clothing (or lack of it) by their own choice by some of the places they choose to go.

Is it a sin to go to the beach? No. However, do we ever take the time to consider what we are putting into our minds when we go where people are wearing next-to-nothing all around us? Why do we not have the same outrage at that as so many seem to have for this advertisement?

You see, it is far easier to complain about a few seconds of flesh when we would rather be watching “the game” than it is to complain about seeing the same thing at a place we want to be. I want to go to the beach, so I will just overlook the scantily clad people all around, even if I am filling my mind with the same images that Carl’s Jr. is putting before my eyes on Super Bowl Sunday.

All I am calling for in this article is a return to discretion. As Christians, we must think about all we see, do, and say through the lens of God’s holy Word. That begins by putting the Bible into my heart, but it also takes thinking about the decisions we make each day, including the places we choose to go, even just to unwind.

Will I go places at times where someone might be dressed immodestly? Yes, but I am going to do all I can to make sure that is accidental and not an intentional choice.

Why don’t I go to movies where I know a woman is going to be scantily clad, or even nude? Because my mind and heart need to be only on my wife.

Why have I never taken my kids to a waterpark to splash around in the hot summer sun? Because I know without a doubt I would see things that I do not need to see as a Christian man.

Why do I avert my eyes when I know there is a Victoria’s Secret store coming around the bend at a mall? Because I do not need to intentionally see things on other women that should be reserved only for my precious spouse.

Yes, my family has been to the beach. However, before going, we made sure it was a time of year when few people would be there, and we searched to find a fairly empty stretch of sand. It took some work, but we found a spot where it was just us pretty much as far as the eye could see. Then, we had a great time with no regrets over things we might have been putting into our minds.

Too many Christians only think about the “fun” part of life. Instead, we all need to think about the pure fun and enjoy things that provide entertainment without darkening our consciences.

What choices do you need to make to have fun without willfully seeing immodesty all around you? It will take effort, but it is worth it to keep your heart and mind pure.

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Separation Anxiety

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I literally couldn’t breathe. It was an overwhelming feeling. It came at a place and in a time I was not expecting. This is just how grief goes.

It was a Wednesday morning and I was in the Kroger supermarket in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. I had gone back for a visit to see my mom and grandparents. It had been at least six months since my father had been taken from us by a sudden and unexpected death. But I was reliving the anxiety of the separation all over again.

If you are not a spring chicken you probably know about the senior discount at Kroger. If you are sixty or older it used to be that on Wednesdays you could receive money off on groceries. My parents always believed in getting the best deal for their money. So Wednesdays became a day on which they would shop together.

I don’t even remember why I went in Kroger on that day. But I do remember walking down the aisle and seeing all of these older couples together buying groceries. I had a brief and instant moment of realization that almost made me fall on the ground. My parents were supposed to be one of those couples! My father was supposed to be here and be with my mother together in our family! They were supposed to grow old together and he was supposed to be here for us! But he was gone. It took my breath away. I gasped. I could not get any air. I began to cry. And it had been six months – six months!

Recently one of our friends experienced the death of two siblings within a short time. To her they were more than siblings, they were like two of her parents. She lost her mother when she was very young and these older siblings basically raised her from infancy. Her grief is great because there is true anxiety in being separated from the people you don’t know how to live without.

As we talked in the church foyer I could sympathize with the feelings she was experiencing. That person you loved and were so close to is gone. You talked to them every day. You keep picking up the phone to call them but then you remember you can’t. They are not coming back. The feeling of emptiness and loss is powerful and overwhelming. This is the true definition of bereavement.

As I continued to talk with my dear friend I remembered the experience in Kroger. And then I came to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of a truth that was both spiritual in nature and certainly more important. In this life we have time to cope with the grief. We have a hope of heaven. We have a knowledge of the rest and comfort of our departed loved ones. By the grace of God we have the promise of an eternal reunion.

But hell will not be this way. We will be separated from God, from our family and friends, and from every ounce of joy that we have had or could ever know. The anxiety of this separation is a large part of what makes hell so unimaginably terrible. The moments of loss we experience in temporary seasons here will in hell be an eternal reality that never lessens in its sting and in its sorrow.

Our physical death is not a choice. Sin has sealed its coming since the fall. We can do nothing about it. The seasons of grief that will come to us because of physical death are a part of life. But to be spiritually dead, this is our own predicament. To be separated from God is a reality no person should ever want to experience. It leads to a whole new and different kind of anxiety that desperately calls for a solution.

This is why Jesus came. This is why He died and rose again. This is why His sacrifice demands a response.

“…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. 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.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

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It Is For a Good Cause

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“It is for a good cause.”

How many times have you heard those words? How many different kinds of activities have been promoted and justified with that statement? 

Sometimes it takes something totally absurd to make us stop and think about our actions. I remember such an absurd thing I read in a newspaper years ago.

There was an advertisement for an event that was for what probably was a very good cause. The ad said that the proceeds from the event would go to a specific charity: Dads Against Drugs. 

I am a dad. In fact I am a granddad. I am also against drugs. 

However, I chose not to participate in this fundraiser that was “for a good cause.”

The event being promoted was a topless car wash. (The pictures in the paper made it pretty clear that the fundraiser had nothing to do with washing convertible automobiles, either.)

I would hope that all of us can see the absurdity of “helping a good cause” in this way. I would also hope that this extreme example might cause some of us to think about other things that have gradually gained acceptance over the years.

For example; a favorite fund-raising activity for some organizations is a raffle. My dictionary defines raffle as, “A lottery in which a number of persons buy chances on a prize.” There is another word in that same dictionary that has a very similar definition. The definition is “to play a game of chance for money or other stakes.” The word being defined here is gamble. 

There are many other examples of similar activities and “reasoning.” I won’t get on my soapbox and discuss all of them here.

However, I will make one suggestion. If you are involved in some club, organization, cause, etc. that you think is worthy of my being asked for financial support, why not just ask me to make a donation?

It might surprise some people to learn how many generous people there are in the world. It might also come as a surprise that the direct approach often works better than gimmicks.

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {January 23, 2015 edition}

We have a treat for you this week. As we often do here at A Legacy of Faith, we are trying something different. Usually, there are three sections to our weekly family links post (“This Week’s Finds,” “Our Week in Review,” and “Connect with A Legacy of Faith”).

This week, we are trying something new and adding even more links for you to enjoy. We are calling this new section “From the Twitter Timeline.” The idea behind this section is that, throughout the week, I tweet links to various articles that may or may not have to do with family issues. In fact, most do not, because I am saving the family links for this post. However, not everyone follows us on Twitter and you may not have seen these great articles on a variety of topics.

We still want to have the family links separate, however, so we are adding the other links as its own section in our Friday Finds. So…on to the family links, then the other articles you may find interesting.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

Why I Chose to No Longer Wear Leggings {Veronica Partridge}

…and a good follow up: Veronica Partridge’s Proclamation {Preacher Pollard’s Blog}

3 Common Traits of the Family That Has “Everything” {for the family}

Marriage Check-In Questions {Of the Hearth}

Men Need a Revival {Project Family}

The Most Dangerous Apps for Kids {Active Digital Parenting}

7 Things Husbands Should Stop Doing  AND 7 Things Wives Should Stop Doing {Mark Merrill}

20 Things I Want My Daughters to Understand about Being a Woman {Your Mom Has a Blog}

From the Twitter Timeline

When God Doesn’t Answer {Growing in Your Walk with Christ}

Has Country Music Gone Drunk and Party Crazy? {Life in the Kingdom}

Advice from a Preacher, Elder, and an Apostle to Elders {New Shepherd’s Orientation and Seasoned Shepherd’s Revitalization}

Someone’s Been Talking about You {Thinking Out Loud}

A Simple Guide for Christians on the Internet {Your Mom Has a Blog}

Our Week in Review

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

#5: The First Step in Evangelism (It Might Not be What You Think) (January 14, 2015)

#4: Should Christians “Do” Right or “Believe” Right? (January 21, 2015)

#3: Kids Say the Truest Things (January 19, 2015)

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

#1: A Covenant Worth Keeping (January 20, 2015)

Connect with A Legacy of Faith

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To join 1018 Facebook fans, use the box below or follow this link.

Episode 15: Parents and Mentors (with Dale Sadler) {Podcast}

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

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Parents have many roles; they wear many hats. One that is rarely discussed, though, is the parent as a mentor for his/her children. In this episode, Adam is joined by counselor and youth minister Dale Sadler to discuss what a parent as a mentor looks like, and what it means to the family structure.

This interview comes out of Dale’s newest book, Generations to Come: Becoming All Things to Your Child.

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Resources

Generations to Come (paperback)

Dale’s other eBook, 28 Days to a Better Marriage

More from A Legacy of Faith

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Music Credit

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

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

Should Christians “Do” Right or “Believe” Right?

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If you want to stir the pot, religiously, write or speak on some particular issue. While there will be some who very thoughtfully share their studies about Biblical context or historical settings, there will be others who always respond with something along these lines: “We shouldn’t be worried about [insert issue here]. We should be out living our faith.”

I could not agree more with the final part of that sentiment. Here is the problem, though: the “living” that so many talk about is only drawing people to part of the Gospel, and not to the fullness of belief in Scripture.

We cannot reach people with just part of the Bible. We must live out the Gospel in fullness, and teach people its fullness, too.

For example, people want to tell us that Jesus was near to the brokenhearted, the outcasts, and sinners. That is as true as can be. However, they fail to mention that the Lord also spoke to such issues as the necessity of baptism and the one church He would build. He did not reach people and then say, “Now, just go on your merry way, living however you want to live.” Instead, the Lord would tell people, “Go and sin no more.”

Paul ended virtually every letter he wrote with a string of ways to “live out” our faith (e.g., “Pray without ceasing”) that are usually quite easy to share with others, especially when lifted from the context of the letter. You see, he nearly always began each letter with a deeply theological and faith-building section that needed to be inculcated into the mind of the Christian. (If you want probably the deepest example of this, spend some serious time in the book of Colossians.)

You see, it is not about just “believing” or just “doing.”

I must believe right and do right.

And I will not do all the “right” I can until I believe right.

When I come to believe what Scripture says, for example, about how every person is my neighbor, I will do what I can to reach each person with the love and compassion of Christ. I will try to help the poor, touch the untouchable, and do so many other things that many people say the Church is woefully short on.

But, when I come to believe what Scripture says, for example, about the necessity of baptism, I will also do right in defending the faith and speaking the truth in love about such issues.

Yes, I know there are countless lost souls out there who need to know the love and mercy and grace of God. So, I believe Him and strive to reach out to them through compassion.

But we must also know those same lost souls cannot be partially saved, so we must reach out to them with the fullness of Scripture, not just with the parts we think are palatable and easy.

Jesus both taught and did (Acts 1:1). Why would be not follow His example?

Let’s believe all that is right, and do all the right we can.

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A Covenant Worth Keeping

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And so it begins. The previews are now showing for “50 Shades of Grey.” Honestly, it makes me sick. Go to the movie theatre and you will be reminded that there are many movies that don’t need to be seen. Do we even screen what is on the big screen? I know many people who consider themselves Christians who have absolutely no problem letting Satan have control of their lives for two hours while they are entertained. And they have done it so many times that their hearts are calloused. They believe it is their God given right to watch activities that if they participated in them themselves would seal their doom in eternal hell.

The saddest thing about writing this article is that I know that the majority of people are going to think that I am close-minded when it comes to entertainment. They would love to begin an argument about degrees of sin. But if what that really means is that I am open to what God wants for me and closed to what the world wants – then I am alright with that. I want to be like Job, who said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look with lust upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1). I understand what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5:27-28 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

I know that sin begins in the mind and heart; therefore I want to make a covenant with my eyes, to avoid putting my heart and mind in jeopardy. Does this mean that I can be perfect and never lust? Does this mean it is possible for me to completely avoid temptation? Does this mean that I have made a decision that I will never sin again, and that in making such a decision that I will never break my promise to God? My desire to make a covenant with my eyes cannot mean any of those things because I am human. But such a covenant needs to be made so that I will intentionally not put myself in situations where failure is a very good and certainly real possibility.

I believe humans, though weak because of their carnal side, are also intelligent enough to discern between good and evil. It is in our initial discernment that wise decisions and moral decisions can be made. True Christianity is not just a ceremonial washing of sins. It also involves a game-plan from God. This is what the New Testament can provide. I need to live for God on purpose in every waking moment of my life. That means making moral decisions to fight against what my flesh may be suggesting. It involves making covenants, not just with some parts of my body, but with my entire body, soul and spirit.

As a Christian, there are some things I will not do. There I some places I will not go. There are some things I will not watch or listen to. There are some people I will not follow. Since I have decided to follow Jesus, the only other people I can follow must also be following Him. This is a black and white issue. There is no “grey” area.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” – Romans 8:7

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