Archive for January, 2015

Recently I was watching one of those home buying shows with my wife.  We enjoy sitting at night and watching a show like that on Netflix to just wind down from the day.  In several episodes of late I have noticed a trend; many young families looking to buy a new home do not see a need for having a formal dining room.  Not that there is anything special about a formal dining room.  We in America like our houses big in comparison to most homes in the world.  I am not advocating the need for a big home, but rather, seeing this pattern made me think about what a dining room symbolizes.  To me, it symbolizes family.  I can count on one hand how many times my family growing up ate around the dining room table.  We would sometimes eat together, but it was always on TV trays in front of some show.  I remember once I was grown thinking that if the Lord allowed me to have a family, I wanted to make it a regular routine to eat as a family around the dinner table.  It seems that for many, the family table has gone the way of the dinosaurs.  I believe there is still great value in having a family table and using it often.  Here are a few reasons why I believe we should still be eating our meals around the table.

It is a place of teaching:

            There are many valuable lessons that can be taught at the family table.  The children learn to allow adults to have conversation without them having to be the center of attention.  The children learn to interact with adults in a proper way.  It allows the children to see how grownups interact with each other.  It also allows the children to learn to sit still . . . which is not always an easy lesson with three boys under the age of five in the Burrell home.  Finally, it is a good place for the children to learn how to pray.  We pray before each meal, and the child often get a turn in repeating after my wife or me when we pray.  It is a great place for teaching.

It is a place to show appreciation: 

Growing up, I remember my little family often going to four different rooms of the house to eat.  We would just grab our food and go our own ways, never really giving thought to the time and effort my mother put into cooking the meal.  One tradition we have in our home is that we try to show the cook our appreciations by giving them “Harrumphs” (saying harrumph and softly hitting the table at the same time) to show our appreciation for the good food.  This is not always the most elegant thing, but we want the cook (most often my wife) to know that we are grateful she has taken the time to prepare such a wonderful meal for the family.  We want the cook to know that their work is appreciated.

It is a place that shows time with family has value:

            We live in a very busy world.  Most parents get less than 15 minutes of meaningful conversation each week with their children.  The family is pulled in a million different directions.  My wife and I decided before we ever wed that we wanted to put a high priority on family life.  We are selfish, and fail at it often, but we believe that having our meals together each day should be a priority.  We believe that family time is valuable.  We believe that it should be fought for, because so often it is fought against.  We are blessed to be able to have 2 or 3 half hour meals together each day (my job affords that luxury).  This helps us to keep our family as a priority but it also shows our children that time with them matters. Time with the family is valuable.

It is a place for family worship:

            There are many places a family can choose to do their devotion together.  There is no one place better than another, but for us it works out to do it at the dinner table.  We often do it either after breakfast, or after our dinner.  The most important thing is that you do.  The dining room table works well for us.  It allows the little ones to have a place to put their hands.  It provides the older ones with fewer distractions (no toys or electronics at the table).  It allows us to just focus on the Lord and enjoy time with Him and each other while worshiping Him.  The dinner table is, for us, a place of worship.

We love the family table.  We laugh there.  We cry there.  We pray there.  We sing there.  We learn there.  We play games there.  We make messes there.  We do a lot there.  It is a wonderful place that I think way too many people are missing out on.  It is after all just a table, but what it represents for my family is so much more.  Where do you eat as a family?  Where do you worship as a family?  I encourage you to think about gathering your family around the dinner table, if you do not already, and just see what kind of memories you can make there.  I hope you don’t let your family table go the ways of the dinosaurs.  I hope you make memories, and not fossils of that old piece of wood.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell.

Advertisements

Have you ever wondered what the day in and day out life of a Christian is supposed to look like?  We know the big commands like “Go and make disciples,” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.”  However, we don’t have a lot of texts that show us how to do these things in the day-to-day life.  In my particular denomination (SBC) sometimes we have a tendency to elevate our foreign missionaries to a very high level.  If we are not careful, we can make them out to be “Super Christians.”  I do not want to downplay the sacrifice required of all of our missionaries, but I also want to be careful not to elevate them to a place that is not God-honoring either.  God has called every single Christian to certain standards.  He has called us all to do a certain job.  The missionary has no higher calling than the school teacher if God has called you to teach school for His glory.  So, just what does that normal Christian life look like for both the factory worker and the pastor . . . the missionary and the stay-at-home mom?

Watchman Nee, a church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century, wrote a book nearly 100 years ago entitled “The Normal Christian Life.”  In it he wrote, “I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher.  I consecrate myself to God to do His will where I am, be it in school, office, or kitchen, or wherever He may, in His wisdom, send me.”  I believe there is great wisdom in this saying.  If we want to see what this looks like, what the “The Normal Christian Life” looks like, I believe we can look at Paul’s exhortation to the Christians in Thessalonica in I Thessalonians 4:1-12.  He provides three commands for them that are just as applicable today as they were 2000 years ago.

Be Pure (I Thess. 4:3-8)

To be specific, he tells them and be sexually pure.  The word Paul uses here for sexual purity covers every type of sexual sin imagined (if you want a list see Deuteronomy 22).  The Christian who lived in Thessalonica lived in a very sexually perverted society, which is not that different from the world we live in today.  His instructions to them were simple . . . God has called us to remain pure, and thus you need to remain pure in this area, even if your culture does not.  Today we need to be reminded of this as well.  Recently statistics have shown that over 50% of men within the church look at pornography on a regular basis, and 30% of pastors have admitted to having an extra marital affair with someone within the church.  These statistics are scary and very disheartening.  A person cannot have a growing and thriving relationship with God while being sexually impure at the same time.  The normal everyday Christian (From John Piper to Jimmy Wright) has been called to be sexually pure . . . day in and day out.  You want to be a disciple of Jesus? . . . Be pure.

Be Loving (I Thess. 4:9-10)

The second command Paul gives is to be a person who loves much and loves well . . . specifically to his brother in Christ.  They had been taught by God through scripture and the example of Jesus, as well as the example of Paul when he lived with them.  They had already been doing a good job of this, yet Paul tells them to do it even more.  If we want to know what a disciple of Christ looks like and how one is to act . . . it must start and end with love.  Why did the Lord give the spiritual gifts?  He gave them for the outbuilding of the church.  What is the greatest commandment and the 2nd that is like it? . . . Love.  If we want to live a normal Christian life we need to be a people who are known for our love.  People should know we are Christians by our love . . . our actions toward others.  A disciple of Christ is one who loves the Lord so much that they desire to show their devotion to Him by loving others.

 Be Diligent (I Thess. 4:11-12)

The last command that we see is a call for diligence among all of God’s people.  He says that we are to be diligent in living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working hard.  There are many commands throughout scripture that go along with these charges.  One of my favorites is found in II Thessalonians 3:10.  It says, “for even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (This rule works great with children, by the way, when they don’t want to clean their room.)  Christians above all people should be a person that does not want to bring attention to themselves, but at the same time tending closely to what the Lord has given them to do as a vocation according Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  When we understand that our salvation is completely from the Lord and whatever we do we should give Him glory in . . . it should make us want to be diligent in it.  This is a normal everyday thing that the Lord has called us to.

Sometimes we over spiritualize what the Lord has called us to do.  Because we still battle with our flesh at times it is easy to let a bit of pride creep up in our lives and feel like we want to be noticed.  However, I believe Tim Challies has given some good advice when he said that we need to “Be content to be unremarkable.”  In a day and age when we elevate Christian pastors and musicians to a level that many believe they will never be able to attain it seems like a good time to remind us all that God may have called us all to different vocations . . . but He has called us all too certainly live the normal Christian life.  If you want to live a life that is pleasing to God you need to be sure to Be Pure, Be Loving, and Be Diligent.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell