Archive for the ‘family’ Category

I was recently asked the question “Is having different theological convictions as Christians a deal breaker when it comes to pursuing a mate for marriage?”  This is not the first time this type of question has come up, and I am sure it won’t be the last.  This is an interesting question that actually has a two part answer.  Here are a few things to think about if you, or someone you love, find yourself in this predicament.

What the Bible Says:

When it comes to marriage, the biblical model is between one man and one woman for life (Matthew 19:3-6).  Not only is it supposed to be between one man and one woman but it is also supposed to be between two people who are not “unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14).  There have been a variety of interpretations about this verse in years past.  But one clear implication is that marriage between a believer and an unbeliever is strictly forbidden.  Some have tried to make this verse mean that two people from different ethnicities should not get married based off this command from Paul.  Some have even tried to make it mean (by implication) that two people from different denominational backgrounds should not wed.  However, these interpretations are clearly not what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Corinthian church 2000 years ago.  He vividly makes the distinction between those who know Jesus, and those who do not, and that is it.  He writes in Romans 10:12, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”  It is pretty plain when he writes “Do not be unequally yoked” that he is making only one command; no interfaith relationships for Christians . . . and that is it here.  Black and White, Presbyterian and Baptist, if they are Christians they can be married.  However, is that the whole story?  As long as the two are Christians, then it is okay to marry?

There are other things to consider (like has a person been divorced before?) for sure, but scripturally speaking, the only requirement is for the two people to be equally yoked together.  If they are not, then the Lord forbids it.  But, before you go and marry the first Christian you come to, there are some areas of wisdom that you need to consider as well.

What Wisdom Says:

The Bible speaks highly of marriage and even encourages Christians to get married (Proverbs 18:22).  Nevertheless, it is important that you think through the process before making a binding marriage covenant.  The question that we are trying to answer is not “Should Christians get married?”, but rather, “Should people of different theological convictions get married?”  Here is where wisdom kicks in with biblical truth.  When two people get married, they bring with them their theology.  If one person wants kids, and the other does not, wisdom would say, you need to work through that before ever giving the other person a ring.  If the woman is a complete egalitarian (women and men are interchangeable when it comes to functional roles in leadership and in the household) and the man a complementarian (men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage) then this could bring all sorts of problems when talking about spiritual leadership and authority in the home.  That could be a recipe for disaster.  If one is Arminian and one a Calvinist, how do they deal with the sin of a young child?  Holding these different views may well play a role in discipline of children of how you share the gospel even.  These are questions that need to be hammered out before any nuptials.  Wisdom would also say, how convicted am I of certain doctrines?  If one is completely convinced of infant baptism, and the other of believer’s baptism, it may be hard to work through this one . . . and it may be best to find someone else with similar convictions if a consensus is not found.  Theology matters and it will order how a home and family is run.

So, should people of different theological convictions get married?  Considering all of this, the main thing that binds a couple together is the Lord.  As long as the basics of the Christian faith are agreed upon (in the minds, hearts, and the lives) then the secondary stuff can be worked through, but do not make the mistake in thinking that they do not matter, because they do.  There may be some theological beliefs that simply do not compute with each other.  There are different denominations because of doctrinal differences.  This does not mean that all true Christians, no matter the church, are not still brothers in Christ.  However, wisdom says that to covenant together in church membership, everyone should hold closely to the same views so as to be able to hold each other accountable (Galatians 6:1-2).  The same is true in marriage; while it could be lawful for two to be married, will it be profitable for the sake of the kingdom?  Will your marriage be able to be a picture of the love between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32)?  If theological convictions run deep and they cannot be agreed up, then maybe it would be best to find another to yoke yourself with.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Advertisements

Mother’s Day is just one of those man-made holidays that seem hard to just pass over.  I mean, who does not love their mother, right?  God really gave you a great gift if you had a godly mother.  As I was trying to think through what I could do to honor my mother this year I started thinking about all the things she passed on to me.  While I could name a myriad of godly qualities, there are five lessons that I learned by example through her life that stick out more than others.

Have a Love for the Lord:

There is nothing more important in my mother’s life than her relationship with the Lord.  She loves Him so.  She would often speak of Him, when I was a child, with such reverence but also intimacy.  She loves him so much, that she knew it to be her chief duty to pass it on to her children.  No matter what has happened in her life, even in great tragedy, her resolve and love for the Lord has never waned.  This is the most important lesson she passed on to my brother and I; to always love the Lord and have Him preeminent in our lives.

Have a Love for Your Family:

Second only to her love for the Lord is her love for her family.  She and my father decided it was best for her to stay home with my brother and me until we were old enough to go to school.  After we started our formal education she went to work so as to help provide for the family economy.  No matter how hard she worked, she (and my father) was always there for all of me and my brother’s sporting events, which were many since I played 3 sports.  Not only was she there for sporting events, but for everything else in my life as well.  She always took a deep interest in the things of my life.  She would deny things that she might want to do so as to be able to provide for my brother, father, and I.  She loves her family, and she would do anything for us.  She is a beautiful example of what it means to love your family.

Have a Love for Your Local Church:

I cannot remember a time in my life when my parents were not active in serving within the church.  My mother taught Sunday school, directed the youth, taught the youngest of children in Mission Friends class, and as a family we would clean the church each week.  She believes in serving the Lord through serving the church.  Any time the doors of the church were open, our family was there.  This is something that she and my father have passed down to me as well.  I don’t just love the church because I am paid by it, but because it was instilled into me at a young age that if I was part of the bride of Christ, then I was to also serve her.  To this day my Mom serves her church faithfully, and I thank her for helping to place that desire in me.

Have a Sacrificial Heart:

As is true for many godly women, my mother is one who is willing to sacrifice her time, talent, and treasures for the sake of the Lord and her family.  Almost to a fault at times, my mother didn’t (and still does not) know how to say “no” when it came to helping others.  I have seen her out to all hours of the night preparing the church for a special service, or helping a person who was in need.  While she never neglected my father or us boys, she was always willing to sacrifice whatever was needed to bring glory to God and build the Kingdom.  Her sacrifice hasn’t gone unnoticed.  It is like her heart is simply shaped with this disposition, and for that I am grateful.

Have a Love for Godly Music:

The Lord blessed my family with a love for music.  All four of us enjoy(ed) singing and playing instruments.  Now while The Eagles or the Credence Clearwater Revival could sometimes be heard blaring from our windows, more often than not it was some type of Christian music.  One of my earliest memories is traveling with my parents and their Christian quartet, The Woodlandairs, to different churches on the weekends playing Southern Gospel Music.  While my taste for Southern Gospel Music has never been too great, singing some of the great hymns of our faith that my mother would often sing around the house and at church is deeply rooted in my being.  Both my father and my mother established in me a love for godly music, and while I strayed from it through much of my teen years, the memories of it never left me, and would once again captivate me in my 20’s and do still today.  A love for music, but more importantly music that honored God, is a gift and a life lesson my mother passed on to me that is invaluable.

While Mother’s Day is a special day when we remember our Moms, it is also a day to look back on the lessons that they have taught us.  I hope the Lord blesses me with another 30 years with my mother, however, if the Lord was to take her home today, she would leave me with enough of a legacy to last two life-times.  This list of lessons is not unique to my mother only I am sure, but how thankful I am that it is true of this woman that I will always simply just call “Mom”.  I thank the Lord for mothers who love the Lord so much that they have no greater job on earth than to pass that love on to their children.  Thank you mom for doing so with your children.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

One of the highlights of my day is sitting around the family table with my wife and children for family worship.  Inevitably, something comes up two or three times a week and we miss it, but we have been in the practice since my wife and I have been married.  This last year we have started doing just a little something different that has seemed to enhance our worship time tremendously.  It is so simple, yet it has been revolutionary for our family.

I am a Bible teacher at heart.  I have often dreamt of teaching my children about theology, church history, and the wonders of our great God.  However, in my dreaming stage it is often geared toward the future and not the present.  All four of my children are under the age of seven and I have often thought that they are not ready for a study on hermeneutics (the science of interpreting the Bible) or systematic theology.  Yet, this last year, without even realizing we were doing it at first, that is exactly what has happened.  We have always asked questions at the end of the Bible reading, but we now ask three simple questions before we ever start reading the Bible.  These questions are the same questions every time.  They are so easy to answer that even my 2-year-old can answer them (after he has heard his older siblings answer them 50 times).

Here are the three questions that my wife and I ask my children, and I would like to encourage you to do the same and just see how the Lord uses it.

Who wrote this book of the Bible?

We have been reading through the gospel of Mark for the past couple of months.  So, each day I ask the same question, “Who wrote the Gospel of Mark”?  I try to ask a different child this question each day so that all of them get a chance through the week to answer different questions.  Of course, the answer is Mark.  Now, this does take a little work from the parents on the front end to know who wrote the book of the Bible you are studying, but any good study Bible can provide this answer for you with a little reading.  By the end of the first week, usually all of the children have this one down.

Who was the book written to?

This piggybacks on the back of the first question.  It goes like this for us . . . “Who did Mark write his gospel to?”  To which they answer, “to the Christians in Rome.”  Of the 66 books of the Bible, only 40 of the human authors have been identified.  For some books the author is anonymous.  If that is true of the book of the Bible you are reading, just be honest about it.  The truth is, there is one divine Author (II Timothy 3:16).  While it is often helpful to know the human author, it is not necessary.  Nonetheless, it is a basic Bible study question, and one that will help lead you, and your children, to get the truth and application of a text.

Why was the book written?

This is the third and last question that we ask.  This  question, like the two above, is linked to the others.  We will say, “Why did Mark write his gospel?”  See how they continue to build on each other?  Repetition is key for most people when learning.  They will then eagerly (most of the time) respond, “To tell the Christians in Rome that Jesus was the Messiah.”  It is amazing to see the children start to get into the reading more since they know these truths about it.  Often we point out or have the child tell us how Mark shows that Jesus is the Messiah from a particular passage.  This just continues to reiterate that which they have already learned.  It is remarkable.

There are the three easy and simple questions.  It is amazing to see how much better our family worship time is now because of getting the kids more involved.  These are the same three questions that we, as students of the Bible, should be asking ourselves every time we pick up the Word to better help us truly hear from God.  It is Jessica’s and my hope that we will ingrain this type of Bible study into the minds of our children so that it becomes common place for them as they start to read and study the Bible more when they get older.  To be honest though, it has even helped my wife and me as much as the children when we are reminded of these things every time we read with them.  It just makes Scripture come alive.  So, if you would really like to help your kids become better students of God’s Word, just ask these three little questions . . . over and over and over again.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

The Blessing of Family

Posted: September 28, 2015 in family
Tags: , , ,

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in his epistle, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above . . .” (James 1:17a).  Some of those gifts are: salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Holy Scripture.  It truly is amazing to think about all the good gifts that we as Christian people have been given by our Lord.  Recently, I was overwhelmed by the thought of my family.  I believe that having a godly family would have to be in my top 5 list of “good gifts from above.”  Not everyone has a godly family.  For that sake, not everyone has been given the gift of a spouse or children.  When I started thinking about the blessing that the Lord had given me, it caused me to just stop and thank the Lord.

That same morning the kids and I were playing around after breakfast and family devotions.  I was playing the guitar, which is common in the Burrell home.  While watching the children running around and squealing with joy while playing with each other I started fooling around with my guitar and a few lines of a song started coming out.  It had been nearly a decade since I had written a song, but after just 30 short minutes I plucked my way through a melody and had written out some words to a song that I have now named “The Family Song” (pretty ingenious title I know). I also put a video together to go along with the song.

If you have any interest, this is a little brief history of my family by the way of a song.  The Lord has abundantly blessed me with the gift of family.  We are by no means perfect.  We are by no means a perfect model family.  I still get angry with my children when they do not obey.  I don’t always act like Christ to my wife.  I still struggle with issues of pride and selfishness from time to time.  However, the Lord who is both gracious and full of mercy has chosen to give me a family.  For that, I am eternally grateful . . . and because of that I sing.

We got married back in 2008
We said our vows and then set off to celebrate . . .  We made a covenant.
Then we had a girl, and we named her Belle
It means beautiful, and I think it fits her well . . . She means the world to me.
Then came our son, we named him Corban Blake
He’s just like his dad in every single way  . . . He was a gift from God.

We were just a happy family.
Trying to be what God wanted us to be.
We were just a happy family.
Trying to be what God wanted us to be.

But we weren’t done.  He gave us Gideon.
A silent warrior from the very beginning . . . He has his mother’s smile.
Josiah was named after the mighty king.
Oh what a joy that little rowdy boy brings . . . But he’ll be big someday.

Now we’re just one big happy family.
Trying to bring glory to our King.
Now we’re just one big happy family.
Trying to point all the glory to our King.

God has been so kind to bless us now.
We need to praise Him each day somehow.
His mercies are fresh and new each morn.
But there are some days that we need more.

Now we’re just one big happy family.
Trying to bring glory to our King.
Now we’re just one big happy family.
Trying to point all the glory to our King.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. 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.  No matter where you are in your life, single or married, I believe these books may be an encouragement to you if you desire to do a little reading.  Each book is listed in order of importance in my opinion.

While Courting /Dating or Preparing:

  1. “Boy Meets Girl” By Joshua Harris
  2. “What He Must Be” – Voddie Baucham  
  3. “The Purity Principle” – By Randy Alcorn
  4. “50 Crucial Questions” – John Piper and Wayne Grudem
  5. “Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood” – John Piper and Wayne Grudem

While Engaged or Just Beginning Your Marriage:

  1. “When Sinners Say I Do” – By Dave Harvey
  2. “Intended for Pleasure” – By Ed Wheat
  3. “Total Money Makeover” – By Dave Ramsey
  4. “The Intimate Marriage”By R.C. Sproul
  5. “First 90 days of Marriage” – By Eric and Leslie Ludy
  6. “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” – By Bruce Ware
  7. “The Five Love Languages” – By Gary Chapman

To Read to Refresh Your Marriage:

  1. “Sacred Marriage” – By Gary Thomas
  2. “Love and Respect” – By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
  3. “His Needs Her Needs” – By Willard F. Hardy, Jr.

To Read If You Have Children:

  1. “Give Them Grace” – By Elyse M. Fitzpatrickand Jessica Thompson
  2. “Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home” – By Donald Whitney
  3. “Family Driven Faith” – Voddie Baucham

             There are many great books on these different subjects, but these are all books that have been helpful to me, and I pray will be to you as well.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks we will be trading in swimsuits for school clothes and beach time for books.  Summer seems to go by quicker now than it ever has before.  For some parents the return to school cannot come soon enough, but for others it brings anxiety.  This is the first (official) year that my wife and I will start schooling, and I must admit that it is a little scary to think about my children’s education.  I want them to get the best education that they can get while being in an environment that fosters godliness.  For our family, we have chosen to homeschool.  I know that this is not the best choice for everyone; but no matter your schooling choice, we can all use some encouragement as the new school year starts back.  Over the next several weeks I am going to be publishing a series of blogs aimed to do just that . . . encourage the parent on the upcoming school year.

I have asked three guests to write on their preferred schooling option (Public School, Homesschool, Private Christian School) and give we parents some hopeful words on the upcoming school year.  Each one has sent their children through all 12/13 years of schooling with great success.  Among those now adult children are doctors, teachers, nurses, authors, computer-techs, farmers, actuaries, musicians, and a whole host of other things.  More importantly than their vocational success is that almost across the board, they all have grown to be godly men and women.  This is ultimately what we as Christian parents are striving for.  A good job is great, but a godly heart is what we all desire.  They get there not just through reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also by knowing and serving God.  That may seem daunting, but I believe we can be encouraged by those who have walked through it before and have come out on the other side.

For your benefit, here is a quick bio on the guest writers so that you can have a little info on the people who are writing.

Dale Slater (Public School):

Mrs. Dale Slater taught in the public school system for more than 30 years.  She and her husband were blessed to have 3 children who all went though this school system.  Dale was the single most influential teachers for me during my schooling years.  While she taught me much about math, she taught me much more about the Lord.  She was a daily godly example to her students and anyone that was around her.  Both she and her husband did not just teach their children at school, but more importantly, at home.  There is no one else I can think of who would be better able to encourage families who have chosen this option to school their children.

Desiree Sheats (Homeschool):

Desiree is one of the godliest and humble women I have ever known.  She and her husband were blessed with 12 children of their own plus one that they adopted.  She has just recently graduated, after 30 years of homeschooling, her last of 13 children.  When my wife and I need direction or affirmation on our choice of education for our children, this is who we run to.  The Lord has given her a heart for the homeschool community and the wisdom to encourage many generations to come.  While never formally obtaining more than a high-school diploma herself, with the Lord’s guidance she and her husband educated their children in not just math, science, and English, but also in the things of God, which has had the most lasting impact on her children.

William “Bill” Butt (Christian School):

Dr. Butt saw fit to send all 3 of his children through 12 impressionable years of Christian education.  Not only did he send his children through a top-notch Christian school but he also taught at this school part-time in subjects such as systematic theology and apologetics in order to prepare the future generation to be able to defend their faith.  Dr. Butt is a doctor of medicine, but his heart is geared toward teaching the things of God.  This is most evident for anyone that has ever been around him for very long.  All of his children were the benefactors of such a school system, and I believe his words will be an encouragement to families who have chosen this avenue of education for their children.

No matter what educational choice you make for your children, we all need encouragement to press on.  I hope this series of blogs will help you to do just that.  It is not meant to be a debate on which system is better, but rather to encourage you as a parent where you are.  If you are still struggling through this decision for your children, let me suggest this little book called Perspectives on Your Child’s Education” which gives a very well balanced view on the four potential types of education choices that parents face.

I pray as school starts back soon, you will find comfort in these words and any anxiety that you may have will be placed at the foot of the cross.  We are all commanded to educate our children, whether we delegate that responsibility or not.  So in doing so, pray for them, play with them, and participate in that education process for the glory of God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

In 2012, the average American making 50k a year spent over $2600 on entertainment.  That is about $200 a month.  That is more than the average person gives to charity annually.  We are entertained in many different ways; movies, music, games, sports, etc.   Americans spend more time and money on entertainment today than any other nation in the history or the world.  We like to be entertained.  There is nothing wrong with being entertained.   In fact, if the Westminster Catechism is correct stating that man’s chief end is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” then good godly entertainment is certainly one way we can enjoy Him.  However, not all (or even most) entertainment that we spend money on today falls under the “godly entertainment” category.  Let us not say, on the other hand, that all entertainment must be inherently Christian for Christians to partake in and enjoy.

Is it okay to watch and enjoy a football, soccer, or baseball game without feeling sinful?  Most certainly!  Nevertheless, there is also a way to watch these things and it be sinful, depending on your motive.  How are we to discern what to watch and listen to in the way of entertainment?  I believe the Philippians 4:8 test is the best way to do this.  Paul wrote,

 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Before you turn on The Game of Thorns or Downton Abby, and before you download that new Taylor Swift album, take this test and hopefully you will be able to see if you should be spending your time, money, and energy on it.  Before you do anything, ask yourself these questions.

Is it True?

Can this (movie, book, TV program, etc.) be found in God’s Word as something that is true?  For example, can you listen to a love song not written by a Christian? I would say yes, as long as it is something that lines up with the truth of God, and is not distorting it.  If it lines up with the truth that is found in scripture and your conscience allows . . why not?  Remember that all truth is ultimately God’s truth.

Is it Honorable?

This is to say, is it something that is honorable to God?  Is it something where people are making light of sex? Then no, this is not honorable. Is it a game that glorifies violence? Again, I would say no, that is not honorable. What about a book that makes you lust after its character?  Is that honorable? NO!  You get the point.

Is it Just?

Is this something that is in harmony with God’s Word?  What about music that is glorifying getting drunk or songs where the singer is bragging about themselves?  I don’t think these are things that are justifiable to the Lord.  And what about watching some kid being beat up on YouTube?  Sorry, I don’t think that is justifiable entertainment either.

Is it Pure?

Is this promoting good or godly morals?  Is the music video, TV show, or movie that is showing people making out in a provocative way okay?  The question is, how is watching this going to make you more pure?  Peering through a window watching a couple make out would be a good way to have yourself arrested wouldn’t it?  There is not much difference in watching it on TV.  If it is not pure, you do not need to be entertained by it.

Is it Lovely?

Is this pleasing, kind, or gracious?  Is it okay to read a good hearted story about someone overcoming adversity?  Sure, we all love to hear these kinds of stories.  Actually, it often points us to the gospel.  There are plenty of feel good movies and books that are not overtly Christian that fall into this category.  However, if it is not pleasing, kind, or gracious, then the Philippians 4:8 test would say to “not think on these things.”  It is inevitable that you will have to face things that are not lovely in your life, but to openly be entertained by them is a different matter.

Is it Commendable?

Is it respectful?  Is it of high character?  Is this something that you could recommend to your friends or a Christian family?  I love war movies.  My all time favorite is Braveheart (but only the edited version).  I have recommended it to many people over the years.  However, there are some songs, articles, TV shows, and movies that could never fall under this category that I have been sinfully amused by in the past.  If you would not be willing tore commend it to your pastor, there is a great chance the Lord would not want you to participate in being entertained by it either.

These seven questions have helped guide me into making better choices in entertainment for my family.  They apply to movies, music, books, and even sporting events.  I love all sorts of entertainment. So, if Paul can quote a pagan poet (Acts 17:28) and it become part of the canon, it seems to be okay to be entertained by things that are not distinctly Christian as well as long as they fall into the above listed guidelines.  The next time you want to run to the theater to watch the newest flick, or click to download the newest album on iTunes . . . take the Philippians 4:8 test first and see if it is something the Lord would be okay with.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

When you think back to the day you got married, there should be two important words that come to mind.  Those two words said that you wanted to join in covenant with your spouse.  You said “I do” in promise to be true to your loved one, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love them and honor them all the days of your life.  You looked into the eyes of your spouse with great anticipation of the life to come.  To that life to come, you said . . . “I do!”  But, what you might not have realized with that “I do”, came “I’m done” as well.   While many have found this list to be untrue (as evidenced by a divorce rate hovering around 50%), the “I’m done” is the other side of the “I do” coin, if your promises were true that day.  Here are a list of a few “I’m done’s” if you forgot to flip over that “I do” coin on that ceremonious day.

“I’m Done Looking”

When you said “I do” that meant for life (until death do us part).  When you are married, you have decided that you have already caught the right one, which means you are done looking for another one.  Some people like to say it is okay to look as long as you don’t touch . . . the problem with that philosophy is when you look hard, you are already touching with your heart.  Looking at someone else as a possible mate is telling your current one that they are not good enough.  But that is not what you said the day you took your vows.  So, “I do” also means “I’m done looking”.

“I’m Done Holding Another”

Those words, “To have and to hold” mean different things to different people.  For my wife, that means she wants me to go to bed at the same time as her each night.  When you said “I do” you also said that you would hold on to each other exclusively.  Holding on to one another also means letting go of others.  When you said “I do,” that not only meant that you would no longer be with another person physically, but mentally as well.  It is not just your body that becomes one flesh, but your mind as well, which is why you also said I’m done holding onto anyone else.  I do give you my heart.  I do give you my body, and I am done holding on to anyone in my past that ever possibly had a part of me (an exception would be if your previous spouse had died).  This is to say, “I do to you, and I am done with all others of my past.”

“I’m Done Putting Myself First” 

You may have a similar story to mine… I got married in my late 20’s.  That meant I had already been an adult for close to 10 years.   I was set in my ways of doing things.  However, when I said those two words I ceased being myself, and became one flesh with another.  When you have that one flesh union you are supposed to put that person’s needs before your own (Phil. 2:3).  For example . . . “I want to go hunting this weekend.”  Have you talked to the other side of your flesh about that?  Or, “I want to go on a weekend shopping retreat with the girls.”  Have you spoken to your husband about that one?  So, when you and your spouse said “I do” in those marriage vows, you also said, “I’m done putting myself first.”

Marriage is wonderful.  It is sanctifying.  It shows the picture of Christ and the church.  When you were drawn unto the Lord and came to know Him in a personal way, you not only became a new person, but you also did away (through Christ while continuing to be sanctified) with the old person.  This is the same thing you did when you got married.  You said to your husband or wife, “I do choose to marry you . . . and only you for life, and I am done living with only myself in mind.  I do and I am done.”

Can you think of any other “I’m done’s” that I missed?  Feel free to add them to the list.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell

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.