Archive for the ‘family’ Category

 

12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child by Abraham Piper

“Many parents are brokenhearted and completely baffled by their unbelieving son or daughter. They have no clue why the child they raised well is making such awful, destructive decisions. I’ve never been one of these parents, but I have been one of these sons. Reflecting back on that experience, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child.”

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids by David Murray

“Introduce your 6 to 12-year-olds to the most important passages and big-picture story line of the Bible! Each of the 365 entries includes a brief Scripture passage and space to write a daily prayer, along with either a question to answer or a verse to write out.”

From Preparing to Maintaining . . . Here Are Some Helpful Books For Every Season of Your Love Life by Adam Burrell

“One of the most rewarding things that I get to do as a pastor to families is to be a resource for them.  I have been blessed with the gift of time as a pastor.  During this time, I have been able to sort through a lot of books and studies dealing with family life.  With all of the thousands of books out there dealing with pre-marriage, young marriage, renewing and renovating one’s marriage, and child-rearing, I have gathered a list of several great books that I believe are helpful that I would like to share.”

Hope and Help for Parents (A Sermon) by Randy Patton

Pastor and Nouthetic counselor, Randy Patton, preaches a very helpful sermon on raising and rearing children from Ephesians 6:4.  It is both deeply biblical and practical at the same time.  I would encourage you to set aside an hour to listen to this sermon.

Risen Motherhood (A Book Review) by Tim Challies

“Risen Motherhood is a strong work and one that nicely fits a niche. Where so many books on mothering are essentially legalistic and offer news no better than ‘you need to try harder,’ this one grounds mothers in the finished work of Jesus Christ. It aptly shows that the gospel really does make every bit of difference not only in eternity but in everyday life as well.”

Dating Principles by Voddie Baucham

During a Q&A at the “Abide Faith, Hope, Love” conference Dr. Baucham answers the question, “What are biblical principles for Christian dating?”  He provides some very helpful and biblical principles for what Christian dating should look like.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Imagine the scene at Thanksgiving.  You have the table set just perfectly.  You have the adults’ table, and the kids’ table with everyone’s plates, cutlery, and origami folded napkins prepared for your family to enjoy a wonderful meal together.  You have your spot for the turkey, your spot for the ham, and all the other fixings for your meal.  You know exactly where everything goes to make your Thanksgiving experience optimal.  Now picture something different: plates just tossed everywhere, no napkins, there is a fork here or there, and the spoons are actually dirty . . . oh, and the kids’ table has been completely forgotten.  Is this a picture of Thanksgiving bliss, or a recipe for disaster?  Any mother that saw this second scene would immediately rush to reset the table(s).

While most of us would like to think our homes function more like the hallmark picture that was painted first, the reality is, sometimes in our day to day family life we find ourselves at the second table and we just want to throw up our hands and throw in the towel.  Life gets hectic.  Children get disrespectful.  It can seem like everything is just flipped upside-down.  If this is the case in your home, as it is in mine at times, let me suggest something . . . it may be time to reset the table.

Resetting our Roles

Scripture clearly identifies the roles of all family members in the home.  God is the supreme authority in any Christian home.  Everyone must submit to Him and His Word.  If things seem to be flipped upside-down in your home, chances are the Lord is not looked at as the supreme authority there.  Next, we find the father is called to be the spiritual leader in the home.  He is to be the head of the house (Ephesians 5:23).  If things at home have gotten unruly, how is the father helping to straighten it up?  Since he is the head, he must be involved in the fix.  Next, we find the role of wife and mother.  While she is to be submissive to her husband, she also has been given the responsibility to be the keeper of the home (Titus 2:4-5).  In this role, she has authority over the children just as the father does.  And when we come to the children, their role is to be submissive to both mom and dad as they submit to the Lord.  This is the structure that the Lord expects in an orderly home.  And if your family table has dirty and broken dishes lying around, chances are, the roles have been subverted in some way.  It may be time for a reset.

Resetting our Responsibilities

Thinking through the roles in the home should allow us to see our responsibilities clearly.  When a child expresses their desire to “not eat their vegetables” with a loud but silent eye role of disgust . . . they need to remember their role.  A child is responsible to obey his or her father and mother (Ephesians 6:1).  Their responsibility is to eat that vegetable out of honor and appreciation (Philippians 2:14).  Their responsibility is not to offer an opinion (unless allowed by the parents), but to remember their role and respond appropriately. A mother has authority over the child and is to assist her husband in carrying out his responsibilities (Ephesians 5:22, Titus 2:4).  A father is charged with teaching, encouraging, and disciplining his child as well as loving and leading his wife (Ephesians 5:25-29, Ephesians 6:1).  In the home, everyone has responsibilities.  When spaghetti starts flying, or voices get raised in disagreement, chances are the responsibilities have been tossed aside.  This is when everything becomes a mess.  It is time for a reset.

Resetting our Relationships 

In many homes in America, the children rule the house.  While they do not pay the mortgage, the car payment, provide food to eat, shelter, or clothing . . . many children think that the home revolves around them and their needs.  And unfortunately, many parents allow this to happen.  At first, it is innocent and can even seem funny when your 4-year old says, “Mommy, get me some milk” while playing with her toys.  Yet, it isn’t nearly as funny, when your 16-year-old starts to tell you when and where they are going on Friday instead of asking permission to do so.  It can be easy to let their schedules rule us.  Many of us want them to be well-rounded and involved in a variety of things that stimulate personal growth.  So, we run them from the ball field to piano practice.  Then there are church functions and other school activities.  We become slaves to their schedule.  Then it happens.  The children become the center of all that is done.  The mother becomes the taxi driver.  The father . . .the fan.  The relationship that God designed for the good of the home has become a chaotic blur instead of a blessing.  If this routine has distorted the relationships in your home, it may well be time for a reset.

Joel Beeke has said, “You are either the best or worst book that your children will ever read.”  This is a profound statement.  The way our children see us live out the truth of scriptures will either shape them for the good, or the bad.   When we think about our homes, most of us, I imagine, want it to be a place of fond memories, love, and encouragement.  But, to do this, there has to be order.  If there is no order at dinner time, there can be no dinner time.  Without order, there will be little fond memories, a lack of love, and frustration more than encouragement.  Just like the dinner table, our homes need order.  God has set the order for our homes.  Husbands, love your wife well.  Fathers, be active in the training of your children.  Wives, respect and love your husbands.  Mom, love your children enough to teach and require order.  Children, obey and honor your parents.  It is required by God.  Children will be accountable to God for this.

The family table is a wonderful place.  It is here where we can often see it as a metaphor for life in the home.  So, if your family table looks like something that Joanna Gains has staged, that is a blessing.  But don’t let it become an issue of pride.  Praise the Lord for His blessings in it, but continue to pursue a godly home humbly.  But, if it looks a little more like the dinner scene from the 1991 classic “Hook” movie, it may be time to start afresh and reset that table.  The Lord has provided the way to do so.  It may take some time and some work, but it will be well worth the effort.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Are Sundays Good for Babies?

The quick answer to the question is, Yes!  Megan Hill reminds us that, “ . . . The disruption of Sunday is a chance to remember that even our schedules are under the Lord’s authority. Once a week, the Lord breaks into our routine and reminds us that naptimes and snacktimes are not ultimate, nor are they determined by our own desires. In all things, we serve the Lord.”

Does Your Schedule Know You’re a Christian Dad?

“We probably won’t see an app come along anytime soon that informs us how our schedule lines up with our responsibilities as Christian dads. But we can pray that the Holy Spirit will grow our love for the gospel and our desire to faithfully instruct our children from that love with as much of our schedule as we can within the limited years in which God places them in our care.”

Five Lessons Learned from Twenty Years of Marriage

These are 5 timeless lessons that we can all learn from, whether you are a newlywed or you have been married for 40 years.  Divito says, “ . . .We still have many struggles. We argue, we can become cold and distant toward one another, and we don’t always see things eye-to-eye. But because of God’s love for us, with Christ’s grace toward us, and by the Holy Spirit’s strength in us, our marriage is like a beautiful flower that continues to flourish with age.” This is a refreshing reminder to all would be married couples or seasoned couples alike.

How to Have Assurance of Your Salvation

“Are you plagued with fears and doubts regarding your salvation? Ask yourself a couple of very important questions as you examine your own soul. Do you have evidence that the Spirit of God is causing you to hate sin and to fight against it? Do you have a love for the church of Jesus Christ? If this is not true of you—you may simply have religion, but your religion apart from genuine faith in Jesus Christ is empty and vain.”

How to Teach Kids to Tell the Truth

“If you’re going to use words—and you are—mean them. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. If you say, “Turn off the video game”—and they ignore you, and you do nothing—then not only does “turn off the video game” come to mean nothing, but all your words lose value. You make your words into a kind of lie, for “turn off the video game” apparently doesn’t mean what it seems to say.”

Young Children are Tricking Parents and Viewing Porn at Alarming Rates

Do you really know what your teens have on their phones?  In this piece we find, “The devastating effects of porn are widely known within the scientific community today, but what many don’t consider is how exposure to porn at an early age can lead to long-term negative social, emotional and cognitive effects.”  This is pretty eye-opening.  I would encourage every parent who allows their youth to have a smart phone to check this out.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

As your children start to grow older one of the best gifts that you can give them is good theology. This should come in the way of good preaching, and teaching within the local church and the home of course. Yet one of the most helpful and lasting ways of doing this is by helping them to start building a good theological library. The idea would be to start purchasing 2-3 books a year, from the time they are 12 until about the age of 21, so that by the time they are an adult they have many wonderful theological resources at their fingertips to help them grow in grace and maturity. Below is a list of the top 25/26 book suggestion to start your young adult’s theological library.

Basic Theology:

  1. Systematic Theology”- Wayne Grudem

This is a monster of a book. It isn’t one that you simply sit down to read from cover to cover, but more of a theological encyclopedia. It hits on every major theme and doctrine of scripture and provides a thorough Biblical explanation of each.

  1. Christian Beliefs” –    Wayne Grudem

This is the small and more digestible companion to Wayne Grudem’s larger Systematic Theology books. It is a palatable book that is meant to explain the 20 basic doctrines that every Christian should know.

  1. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” –Donald Whitney

This is one of the most helpful books written within the last 50 years. It will help in building lifelong spiritual habits and disciplines.

  1. Just Do Something” – Kevin DeYoung

As the book title says, it is “a liberating approach to finding God’s will.” It is simple, conscience, and practical, yet straight from scripture.

  1. Knowing God” – J.I. Packer

We are told to “renew our minds” in Romans 12. One of the best ways to do this is by getting to know God more personally. This is what Packer’s book does . . . he helps the readers to know God on an extremely intimate level.

  1. What is the Gospel?” – Greg Gilbert

Knowing the gospel and understanding the gospel is key for the people of God. It is a doctrine that we never graduate from. This little book explains the big truths of the gospel in a bit size way. It is wonderful recourse to read over and over again.

  1. Father, Son, Holy Spirit” – Bruce Ware

This is the best and most practical treatment of the trinity written this decade. It is written from a pastoral perspective, and is invaluable in it’s applications.

  1. 9 Marks of a Healthy Church” – Mark Dever

Where a person attends church matters deeply. In this book Dever explains what a healthy church should look like. There are many “churches” out there, but this is a guide that will help your young adult to find a healthy one as they grow into adulthood.

  1. The Holiness of God” – R.C.Sproul

This is the single greatest work that the late Dr. Sproul ever wrote. It is here where R.C. explains the true nature of God. You will not be able to walk away from this unchanged.

  1. Chosen by God” – R.C. Sproul

The balance between man’s responsibility and God’s sovereign choice of sinners unto salvation has been a topic of debate for millennia. In this book Dr. Sproul explains the doctrine of predestination in a simple but biblical way.

 

Apologetics:

  1. Expository Apologetics” – Voddie Baucham

Expository Apologetics is written with the conviction that apologetics should be both biblical and accessible for the normal layman.  This book is filled with real-world examples and practical advice.  It will equip your young adult with the tools they need to think biblically and to give an answer for the “reason for the hope that is in you.”

  1. Reason to Believe” – R.C. Sproul

R.C. works though 10 of the most common objections to the Christian faith.  It is a short book (160 pages) but rather full when it comes to its content and helpful in cementing our belief in the Christian faith.

  1. Scripture Alone” – James White

James White provides a thorough explanation of why the Bible is true, faithful, and completely trustworthy.

 

Bible Helps:

  1. ESV Study Bible

The English Standard Version is a faithful word for word translation. This Study Bible has over 12,000 helpful study notes for the reader’s enjoyment and study. It is good for every believer to have a robust study Bible.

  1. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

This is a helpful resource that can really make scripture come alive. It has more than 700 full color graphics, archaeological research, and canonical book summaries and outlines that will enhance the study of God’s Word.

  1.   “Hymns of Grace

This is the best hymn book on the market that provides both Christ-centered new hymns mixed with the older and traditional sacred hymnody. The songs have deep and rich theology put to music. It is a wonderful resource to just read at times and soak in the glories of our God and King through its wealth of truths.

 

General Reading:

  1. The Valley of Vision

This is a wonderful book to read devotionally.  It is a book made up of Puritan prayers. Besides its poetic beauty, it also provides a peek into the prayer life of some our heroes of the past. Its aim is to cause us to worship and praise our Lord as we read and meditate on the words and even recite the heartfelt prayers as our own.

  1. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” – John Foxe

In 1563, John Foxe published an account of the life of Christian martyrs, beginning with Stephen and ending with the most recent martyrs of his day. This book is a faithful reminder of how God used figures such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and so many others has given us our rich Christian heritage. It’s a book every Christian should own.

  1. Pilgrim’s Progress” – John Bunyan

This is simply the greatest work of fiction ever written. It is an allegorical work that explains the pilgrimage from spiritual death unto spiritual life. C.H. Spurgeon said, “Next to the Bible, the book I value most is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times. It is a volume of which I never seem to tire; and the secret of its freshness is that it is so largely compiled from the Scriptures.”  It is a classic that believers everywhere need to read at least once.

  1. Shadow of the Almighty” – Elizabeth Elliot

This is a wonderfully moving biography of the life and ultimate martyrdom of Jim Elliot (and four other missionaries) at the hands of the Auca Indians in Ecuador, 1958. Elisabeth Elliot uses her late husband’s diaries to paint the full picture of Jim’s devotion to the Lord, his mission, and points to the complete majesty of the Almighty.

  1. Through Gates of Splendor” – Elizabeth Elliot

This is the follow up book to Shadow of the Almighty. This details the events that occurred after the missionaries’ death. It shows how the sovereign hand of God would eventually save almost the entire village.

  1. Don’t Waste Your Life” – John Piper

John Piper packs a real punch in this book.  He challenges an entire generation to let their life count for something. He dares them not to live for themselves but to take godly risk for the sake of the Kingdom. It’s a convicting and possibly life changing book.

  1. 50 Critical Questions” – John Piper & Wayne Grudum

Piper and Grudum set out to answer 50 questions about the roles and responsibilities in both men and woman in light of a complementarian view of men/woman. It is a good book to read cover to cover, but it can also be used as a reference book like an encyclopedia as well.

  1. 50 People Every Christian Should Know” – Warren Wiersbe

This gives a basic overview of 50 different Christians throughout church history that have had major impacts on Christendom. Every biographical sketch is only about 5 pages long and is easily digestible.

  1. Screwtape Letters” – C.S. Lewis

This is one of Lewis’ best and most unique works in my opinion. It is written from the perspective between an experienced demon and a demon apprentice. Wormwood (the apprentice) seeks help in securing the damnation of a young “believer.” Their correspondence offers interesting insights on temptation, pride, and the ultimate victory of faith over evil forces.

  1. Radical Womanhood” –  Carolyn McCulley (For Woman)

This is a book about learning to have genuine feminine faith in a feminist world.  It is both scripturally sound and extremely practical. It speaks to everyone Christian woman at any age.

27.  “Thoughts for Young Men” –  J.C. Ryle  (For Guys)

This is biblical, timeless and practical advice for all young men. What if we knew the solution to most of the problems within the church and the world — but did little to nothing about it? Pastor and author J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) asked a similar question more than a century ago in Thoughts for Young Men as he observed the spiritual condition of young men in the culture.

There are so many other books that could have been put on this list.  The thing about growing in grace and having wonderful resources is that it is a lifelong endeavor. It doesn’t start when you are 25, and this list doesn’t have to stop when a person reaches the age of 22. It is my hope that we will all want to be like Paul as we grow old, who in his last few years wanted his “books, and above all the parchments” (II Timothy 4:13). He wanted to study and write. He didn’t just want to live out his life and grow no longer. No, he wanted to “finish the race.” He wanted to keep the faith and finish well. The fact is, most teens are just starting their race. We should want to help them get a good start, and building their theological library is a good and proper way to start. It is a worthy investment. And parents, I hope that it is one that you will consider. You will not regret it.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Encouragement For Parents Raising Teens

In this short video, Andrew Peterson offers some words of encouragement for raising teenagers as a Christian while living in this modern culture. He says, “When they were first born, my wife and I dedicated them to the Lord. So, in one since they have never belonged to me . . . so we live in the tension of that right now.” The tension that he details is the fact that they belong to him and his wife, yet they also belong to God. If you have 90 seconds, give it a listen.

Family Worship Bible Guide

Joel Beeke and Reformation Heritage have teamed up to produce a wonderful resource for family worship. It is “comprised of family worship thoughts extracted from the Reformation Heritage Study Bible and presenting rich devotional thoughts on all 1,189 chapters of Scripture, this Family Worship Bible Guide may go hand in hand with your Bible to help you lead and nurture your family’s worship and spiritual growth. Use this resource every day alongside Scripture to read each chapter’s major takeaways aloud and then discuss them with your family. With the Holy Spirit’s blessing, this book will transform you and your family!”

Five Thoughts on Training Boys to Be Godly Men

This is an article that I wrote 4 years ago that I believe still rings true today. Maybe it can be of some help to young fathers today.  It may help you understand that “while we cannot make our children trust in the Lord, we can certainly train them up in a way that is biblical and practical at the same time.” I have observed (both from other godly fathers and from scripture) at least 5 ways that I believe can do just that.

It’s Never ‘Just Business’ at Work

Sometime people get the idea that our work is “just work.”  Some believe that it is only a means to provide for yourself or your family. In this article, Brad Larson, challenges that idea and shows what your work is really about. He writes, “’It’s just business,’ they say. But it’s not. When we’re dealing with immortal beings made in the image of a beautiful God, it’s never just business. It’s a divinely appointed opportunity to showcase him and share his love.”

Teens and Body Image

If you have a teen you may know that many today struggle with their self image. They struggle with how they appear before others. They struggle with not having the body of some airbrushed model on the cover page of a magazine. Much of this is misplaced, but it is a real struggle nonetheless. Julie Lowe helps parents think through this issue from a Biblical perspective.  She writes, “This creates a unique challenge, but also opportunities, for parents to minister to their kids. We are all easily consumed and influenced by the world around us. Yet, this is not how God calls his people to live. Instead of taking our cues and standards from the world, it is our Creator who gives us meaning and identity.”

 Wait to Date Until You Can Marry

Casual dating is to modern culture as riding a horse was to a cowboy back in the 1800’s . . . “it is just what you do.” However, this hasn’t always been so. In this article Marshall Segal explains why young people should wait to date and 4 things they can do to prepare for marriage while they wait.  I enjoyed his final charge: “Surprise your friends (and everyone else) by being content to wait to date until you can marry, because you already have everything you need in God.”  I believe this a great article on the subject for both parents and teens to both read.

When Every Kid has a Smartphone, Odds are they aren’t Doing Smart Things with it

Dr. Albert Mohler on his daily briefing a few weeks back hit on some new information that was in an article from the USA today.  Feel free to listen to his entire daily briefing, but if you only want this clip you can fast forward to the 16:45 minute mark.  He provides some excellent commentary and some parental challenges as well.

Soli Deo Gloria

Adam B. Burrell

“Are We Really in Danger of Making an Idol of the Family?”Kevin DeYoung

I love everything about family ministry.  I have been doing it for over 16 years, and Lord willing will do it for the rest of my life.  The spiritual growth of our families should be of utmost importance to us all.  However, there is a real danger when we put too high a priority on family that it will undermine what God has said that He desires for us.  DeYoung writes, “In a world hellbent on redefining marriage and undermining the fundamental importance of the family, Christians would do well to honor and support all those trying to nurture healthy families. And yet, virtually every pastor in America can tell you stories of churchgoers who have functionally displaced God in favor of the family.”

Husbands, We’re Called to Help Our Wives Grow in Christ” – Randy Alcorn

This is a subject that I have written on many times, but Randy Alcorn really writes a helpful article on the subject on the husband’s responsibility in helping his wife grow in grace as well.  He writes, “There’s a lot of stuff out there that isn’t going to draw you or your wife’s mind and heart toward God. Part of loving and leading her is pointing her toward things that will. The payoff is huge for her, you, your kids, and everyone her life touches.”

“Parents, Take Note of the Spiritual Practices Common to Kids Who Flourish As Adults” – Trevin Wax

As Christian parents, we all want to see our children come to faith and flourish in their Christian walk.  Trevin Wax has provided 5 common practices that will, by God’s grace, help in your children’s spiritual progress in their faith.  “The research indicated that children who remained faithful as young adults  . . . grew up in homes where certain practices were present.”

Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus in Song” – Sovereign Grace Music

If you are looking for some newer Christmas music for this holiday season, this is a wonderful album that your family would enjoy.  This came out a few years back, but if you haven’t had a chance to listen to it, I would encourage you to do so.  “The reality of the incarnation, the Son of God taking on our flesh and bones to save us, will be an eternal source of wonder, gratefulness, and joy. These fourteen songs are our attempt to capture that mystery in song. The long night is over and the light of the world has come. Prepare Him room.”

Profile of an Evangelistic Home” – Joel Beeke

Have you ever wondered what an evangelistic home might look like?  Here is a sermon that gives a glimpse into what it could look like in your home.  Dr. Beeke gives this chilling reminder in his sermon, “Other than the Bible, you are the best or worst book your children will ever read.”  He lays out what the gospel-centered home looked like in the past, and what it might look like today based off of biblical principles.

The Torchlighters Heroes of the Faith – DVD Set” 

If you have ever wanted your children to know more about some of the heroes of the faith, then here you can find the animated, true-life stories of Christian heroes retold for young people. In each 30 minute video you can lean about people such as Augustine, Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, Jim Elliot, Eric Liddell, and Samuel Morris.  These are wonderfully made DVDs that will allow your children to see God through the lives of great men and women of old.  You can buy all 17 episodes at a discounted price for a limited time.

 Why My Family Doesn’t Do Santa” – Josh Buice

It is an age old debate within Christian circles. . . Santa or no Santa.  I believe Dr. Buice provides pastoral and fatherly insight on why his family doesn’t do Santa.  He writes, “We want our children to look at the story of a jolly old man who visits us on a red sleigh behind Rudolph and a host of other flying reindeer and find no comparison to the story of the second Person of the Trinity leaving heaven’s throne to be born into poverty as he clothed himself in human flesh—entering the world through the womb of a virgin girl—in order to save his people from their sins.” As you prepare for the Christmas season, maybe this will spark a healthy discussion within your family.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

At some point in time in life you have probably had a friend or acquaintance that seemed to have no real positive value in your life.  Instead of building you up, they seem to tear down.  Instead of pushing you on toward holiness, they drag you back toward worldliness.  Instead of making your more like Christ, they end up encouraging you to make devilish decisions.  These relationships can be toxic.  Yet, even when you know they are toxic, it can still be hard to discern how to deal with them.  Do you simply cut them off?  Do you stay in the relationship (often to your detriment) in hopes of changing them?  Do you simply just deal with it and the inevitable consequences that will follow because of the relationship?  I believe Scripture provides some definitive answers when it comes to these types of toxic relationships.  Here are a few things to consider.

Consider What Bad Relationships Can do to You

Weather it be a friend, a family member, or someone that you are romantically involved with, whoever you choose to spend your time with will influence you.  Solomon reminds us that “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” in Proverbs 13:20.  This indicates that those who are influenced by fools often become foolish themselves.  Paul reminds us what bad company can do as well when he writes this warning to the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (I Corinthians 15:33).   Choosing to stay close friends with bad company often leads an otherwise “good” person to do bad things.  Some of these bad things can even lead to great harm.  Look no further than Psalm 1 for this truth.  The man who doesn’t walk, stand, nor sit with the wicked in agreement is said to be “blessed.”  Yet the wicked, who do these things, their way ends poorly.  The writer simply writes that they, “will perish.”  Both Old Testament and New Testament writer provide the same warning: bad relationships can cause great harm to both the soul and body of the persons who are in them.  This is what a bad relationship can do.

Consider What you Might Need to do With These Relationships

You may know that the relationship is not positive, but what can you do about it?  Maybe you have been friends for years.  Yet, what is more important, your relationship to them or your relationship with the Lord?  If they are having a negative effect on your relationship with God, something must be done.  I would tell you to take your soul into account.  Paul says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (II Corinthians 13:5).  If this relationship is causing you to sin and you have noticed that you are growing callused to your sin, you need to stop and examine your faith.  If your faith isn’t calling your into warrior-like action against sin, you may well not have genuine saving faith.  It is a scary thing to know that on judgment day that there will be many who cry “Lord, Lord” yet know Him not.  This is why an examination is needed.

After you examine yourself, and if you find yourself to be in the faith it may be time to take some extreme measures in this relationship.  Jesus, in the most famous sermon ever preached, uses hyperbole to express how big a deal it is to get sin under control.  While talking about lust he says, “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out . . . if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off” (Matthew 5:28-30).  He is not suggesting physical self mutilation but rather, spiritual mortification.  While this text is directly speaking to sexual sin, the principle can also be applied here by extension.  If your friendship or romantic relationship is toxic, it may be time for a complete detox so as to provide your spirit with the proper nourishment it needs.  Bad relationships most often drain spiritual nourishment, and don’t replenish. It may well be time to cut off this relationship altogether.

Consider How to Help Those Relationships

It is likely that these toxic relationships simply need to end.  The Proverbs are filled with wisdom on this topic.  However, how do you do that in a God honoring way?  The writer of Hebrews says, Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).  Pursue peace with them.  Explain to them that your relationship with the Lord is suffering and that you need time to focus on Him.  Explain that your current relationship isn’t helping with this.  They may or may not respond to that well, but they need to see your priority is to please God rather than man.

Secondly, you should pray for your friend.  This is one of the areas where Paul commands Timothy to pray.  He writes, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (I Timothy 2:1).  If you are a believer, you have access to the throne room of God that allows you to intercede on their behalf.  You likely, need to have them out of your life for some time physically, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop caring for them in the way of prayer. This is a great way to show that you love them.

Finally, the best possible thing that you could do for them is to present the gospel to them.  The great commission demands us to go and make disciples.  Your friend needs more than good morals, they need the gospel.  They don’t need your friendship as much as they need the favor of the Father.  This is their only hope.  So, pursue peace though explaining your need to back away, pray for them, and if possible present the gospel to them as well.

At best we only get 80-100 years here on earth.  That is actually a very short amount of time when you think about it.  With so little time here, why would you waste it on a toxic relationship?  The Lord has called us to be both salt and light.  We are told to engage the world, but at the same time not to be conformed to it.  So, yes, seek genuine friendships with people who may not be like you . . . who may not even be Christians.  However, do not let them influence you in an unholy way.  If you see this type of toxicity, it is time to pull back from that which is providing the poison.   In a world where we are told that everything seems to be poisoning us (from our food to our water) our relationships are something that we have control over.  Choose what is healthy . . . avoid that which is toxic.  It seems like sound advice for what we put into our body.  Yet, how much more true is it when we think about our soul?

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

  1. A Warning for Parents: Instagram is Full of Porn.

Jonathon Van Maren provides an eye opening warning for all users of the ever so popular social media platform, Instagram.  He writes, “Searching for terms like “nude,” “babes” or “sexy” or variations thereof or the name of any porn star in the site’s search bar will quickly uncover accounts that flout the site’s ban on nudity and aren’t filtered to prevent minors from seeing them. #Sexy has more than 57 million posts, many of which are clips from porn videos while #porngirls has more than 300,000 of them.”  This is a helpful article that sounds a warning when trying to help our youth (and ourselves) sort though a world that is saturated with sexual bear traps.

  1. Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions

David Platt will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming G3 Conference on the Mission of God.  Pastor Platt delivered a soul stirring sermon on missions at the T4G Conference in 2012 that has had a lasting impact on many.  He starts out by making this statement, “I have one overarching truth . . . A high view of God’s sovereignty fuels death-defying devotions to global missions.”  For the next hour he lays out the truth with passion and scripture.  It is the best sermon that I have ever heard on missions, and one that I believe would benefit your soul when thinking about the mission of God for His church.  I would encourage you to take the time to soak it in and worship our sovereign Lord through it.

  1. Getty Kids Hymnal – Family Hymn Sing

The Getty’s have released the newest children’s CD, and it is excellent.  This time they have recorded many of the churches most cherished hymns sung by children.  If you would like to have your children learn some of the hymns of the faith in a fun way, I would encourage you to check out this new album.  They have recorded songs such as, “All Creatures of our God and King,” “Jesus Paid it All,” and “Power in the Blood.” They have also added some newer hymns as well like, “His Mercy is More,” “In Christ Alone,” and “He Will Hold Me Fast.”  It would be a great album to own as a family and enjoy these hymns of the faith playing in your home and car.

  1. Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional

Would you like to do something special for the up and coming Christmas season with your family?  This is a way to “share God’s best gift with your family this year and start a lifetime of traditions with this gospel-focused . . . family devotional. Each week includes Bible readings, fun Christmas activities, songs, and an original Christmas story.”  This is set up to start on the Monday after Thanksgiving, so secure your copy now.  I truly believe it will be a blessing to your family as it will point all the fun of Christmas to our wonderful and sovereign Savior.

  1. “Who Do You Love More Anyway, Your Children or Your Spouse?”

A few years back I asked the question of where we place our love when it comes to our family.  Do you love your spouse more or your child?  I wrote that,“Children are a blessing.  Children are a gift from God.  We are to love them.  We are to train them.  We are to thank God for them.  However, they should never consistently come before your spouse.  Marriage, not parenthood, is a picture of Christ and the Church.  Marriage is a life-long covenant by design.  While parenthood is life-long as well, the meat of it is only brief.”  It is a question that I challenge you to ponder on today.  I hope this article will help you to think through this question.

  1. “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.”

This is one of the more challenging books that I have read in the past several years.  It was both extremely convicting, yet extremely practical. “Drawing from the insights of numerous thinkers, published studies, and his own research, writer Tony Reinke identifies twelve potent ways our smartphones have changed us — for good and bad. Reinke calls us to cultivate wise thinking and healthy habits in the digital age, encouraging us to maximize the many blessings, to avoid the various pitfalls, and to wisely wield the most powerful gadget of human connection ever unleashed.”  If you want to be challenged in your daily Smartphone habits, this is the book to do it.  If you would like listen to a 30 minute podcast with an interview with Tony Reinke on the book, you can also check that out here.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Family worship is a concept that has long been forgotten for many through the years of church history. It is a concept that can be both exhilarating, but also paralyzing. Family worship at its most basic level, is simply taking time to gather the family to read the Bible, pray, and worship the Lord on a regular basis in your home. It is true that there is no direct command found in scripture imploring fathers and families to do family worship, but it is a great application to direct commands found all over the canon of scripture.  Here are just a few examples:

            Deuteronomy 6:4-7: This text implores parents to “Teach them diligently to your children . . .” Telling them that the Lord is One, and that they should love the Lord with all that they are.

            Psalm 78: This Psalm has some strong commandments to fathers to teach their children about the things of God, and for this to continue on, not just to your children, but to your children’s children. This was a command to tell the coming generations the glorious deeds of the Lord.

           Ephesians 5:25-26:  Here we find husbands are told to “Wash them (their wives) in the Word.”  It also explained that children are to be brought “up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

            I Timothy 3:4-5 we find the qualifications of being an elder. He “must manage his house well.”

One of the best and easiest ways to apply these commands is to have regular family worship in your home. After looking over these verses you may be convinced that this is a good idea, but what does it actually look like? Since that vast majority of people didn’t grow up in a home where this was practiced, what should it look like? Here are a few points to consider if you want family worship to be a profitable and successful experience in your home.

Consider the Elements:

Generally speaking, there are three parts to family worship. You read the Bible, pray the Bible, and sing the Bible. They are much like the same elements that you find in a typical corporate worship setting. However, there is no preacher (other than the parents), and there is no choir or worship team, other than those sitting in your home. There is no need to hire someone to come in and do these things for you. God has actually equipped you the parent (practically the father), to lead in this manner. All it takes is having everyone sit quietly (or mostly quiet if you have small ones) and read a portion of scripture. Then you explain it to the best of your ability.  You pick a song that the family knows and sing it (if you can play an instrument that is even better).  It can be something as simple as the Doxology with no music, but I would encourage you not to skip this part if possible. Finally, close in prayer. That is it. Simple and easy, but it can have eternal significance.

Consider the Brevity:

Your average church service lasts about an hour. You may think of your family worship like a small church service on Sunday, however much shorter. You should want family worship to be a delight and not a drudgery. Ephesians 6:4 gives warning to fathers not to “provoke your children to wrath.” If you are just starting family worship and it is a new concept to your family, please remember that it is new to your family as well. If you try to make it too long, you may be provoking your children. You may very well work up to a 30-minute family devotion, but brevity is key here. It is good to start off with no more than 10-15 minutes. Read 15 – 20 verses in the Bible. Take 3 or 4 minutes to explain it and to ask questions. Spend 2 or 3 minutes in prayer and sing a quick song. Try to set a regular time that you plan to do this and try to stick to it most days. Remember, it does not have to be anything super formal, but there does need to be a sense of reverence. You are worshiping and honoring God after all, even if it is in your pajamas.

Consider the Content: 

When your children are small, you may not want to go straight to Song of Solomon or Revelation. It may not be helpful. Consider reading Proverbs, the book of James, or even some of the narrative portions in the Old Testament. There are some great stories there that will allow you as a parent to point to the gospel and give just simple and practical advice. If you feel like you don’t know the Bible well enough to teach, invest in a good study Bible. Take 10 minutes to read the passage before-hand with the notes so you can explain it. You only need to be one step ahead to teach. As the children get older have them get involved. Fathers, have your wife be a regular part of worship. She is gifted in ways that you are not. Have your children read the scripture. Have them pray. Have them help lead the song(s). This is part of training and teaching them not just the things of God, but also how to lead their families when they get older.

John Piper emphasizes the commitment to family worship by saying, “You have to decide how important you think these family moments are. It is possible for little ones, teenagers, and parents. You may have to work at it, but it can be done.” Family worship has been a blessing to my family. I love hearing my children sing praise to God at the top of their little lungs. I love hearing them answer and ask great questions that come from our Bible reading. I love having them repeat prayers after their mother and I. It is a commitment that my wife and I made that we would do on a regular basis early on in our marriage. While it is true that this is just one way to apply the clear commands of God to teach, train, and lead our homes, I believe it to be the best one. I don’t think when you get older and you look back on your time as a parent, that you will ever regret the time you spent around the dinner or coffee table worshiping the Lord together.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

God has created the church to function as the primary disciple making mechanism.  One of the ways the Lord has structured this is for older men to teach the younger men how to live a godly life.  Some of this teaching, of course, is formal.  Maybe this comes in the form of a 40 year old man teaching a Sunday School class to a bunch of middle school boys.  Formal teaching is needed; however, much of what is taught comes in the form of the informal.  This may look like a faithful deacon cleaning the church grounds each week that is noticed by the young boy walking home from school, or the quiet man in the balcony running the sound board week after week.  Paul instructed Titus about the roles of men as far as discipleship in a letter written to him.  There he wrote,

“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness . . . Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”(Titus 2:1-6)

As I reflect on these words, I am humbled and encouraged at the same time.  I am humbled because the Lord has blessed me with so many Titus 2 men over the different seasons of my life.  I am encouraged because as I strive to be a Titus 2 man for younger men, I still look to and have older men pouring into me.  This is the natural process that God intended.  Truly, all men need Titus 2 men in every time of life.  Here are just a few times and season when this is true.

You needed one when you were young:

Growing up in a conservative Baptist church in the Bible-belt afforded me an embarrassment of riches when it came to godly men in my life.   I had my family, neighbors, and many church members that filled this Titus 2 man role well.  I saw them serving their families, serving their church, and their communities, and even taking time to disciple me in a variety of ways.  God used both the formal instruction (Sunday school, Wednesday night classes, etc.) and the informal “God talks” to help shape me spiritually.  After my salvation at the age of 21, I could look back and see how each had a hand in my spiritual formation.  As a young man, I needed them to not just share the gospel, but I needed to be shown as well.  I needed a Titus 2 man when I was young.

You need one now:

Now that I am in my mid-30’s, a staff member at a church, and a seminary graduate, one might think that there would be no need to have these types of men around to help any longer.  Yet, God in his infinite wisdom knew that I would still need council and wisdom from those in their 40’s, 60’s, and 80’s.  While I have some wisdom built up, I by no means have all the wisdom I need.  I still need to know how to love my wife better, raise children when they are being difficult, and sort through other various life issues in a biblical way.  I need the 55 year old man to take me out to lunch and give me a loving word of exhortation that I am working too much and need to spend more time with God and my family.  This is part of his role in being “sober-minded.”  I need this man in my life now, and so does every Christian man.

You will need one when you are old:

Once I get into my golden years, the need for Titus 2 men will not change.  I hope one day to be the 60-year-old man that has taken a 25 year old newly married man under my wing for a year and poured into him about how to live out the gospel in his home.  I hope to be a man that is teaching his grandchildren about the majesty of God.  However, just because the roles shift and your primary role is to be that of Paul instead of Timothy doesn’t mean that you do not still need wisdom and guidance from another older and more seasoned man than you.  That might come in the way of reading books from men of old.  It may come in the way of digging up old sermons from people like Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, or reading commentaries from Matthew Henry.  When a man makes it to this point in his life, he should relish in the opportunity to fulfill this role, yet he should not stop learning.  Even in his old age, Paul never stopped (II Timothy 4:13).  This is what a Titus 2 man does.  He is “self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.”  I am in need of that kind of man now, and will always been in need of one.

             I am so thankful for the Titus 2 men in my life, both in my past, and the ones that I have today.  I am thankful that they have taught me to pass it on.  I pray that it is a pattern that is carried on as long as the Lord gives me life.  However, it is not just something for the super spiritual.  It is not just something for the “professional.”  God has given us all the ability to do this.  He has made us all competent to council (Romans 15:14).  The reality is, we are all mentoring or discipling others by how we live our lives.  Scripture describes what it should look like in Titus 2.  Here is my question to you who are reading this: where are you in the process?  Here are a few questions to consider.

  1. Are you purposefully discipling someone?
  2. Are you a young man who is seeking someone to guide you?
  3. If you are not currently doing so, would you be willing to purposefully step into this role of being an older man training a young man?
  4. Would you, young man, be willing to have an older godly man speak into your life?

God has given us the great gift of each other to help train each other in godliness.  Take advantage of this time.  We need each other.  Through it, you may be surprised at what it does both in you and the one that you are with as well.  To all the Titus 2 men out there . . . I admire you.  Keep it up.  It is worth the investment.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell