Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Family Toolbox (September 2018)

Posted: September 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here are some helpful tools for the family for September 2018.

  1. The Insanity of God.
    A few week s ago my church had a special evening service where we were able to pray for the nations as a corporate body.  In 2017, there was a dramamentry produced called “The Insanity of God.”  This is a film that is based on “the true story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken. After the death of their son, this ordinary couple journeys into the depths of the persecuted church, asking the question- IS JESUS WORTH IT?”  This is not your typical cheesy low-budget Christian film.  It is extremely well done and I believe that it would do you well to pick a copy up so that you can better understand how to pray for the persecuted church as well as worship our marvelous God for his work there and all over the world.
  2.  “Is He Worthy?” – Andrew Peterson
    On Sunday, September 16th Pray’s Mill Baptist Church had the pleasure to take part in our annual “Revelation 5 Sunday” service.  What a blessed day it was.  This past Spring singer and songwriter, Andrew Peterson, released his latest album (Resurrections Letters) and one of the songs on it is entitled “Is He Worthy?”  It is a song based off of Revelation 5.  It is a beautiful song that I have personally worshiped through over the past several months.  It is one that I would commend to you as well if you haven’t heard it.  As you listen,  contemplate what it will be like to worship our Lord with people made up of every tribe, tongue, and nation.
  3.  “Raising Our Children to be in but not of the World” – Tim Challies
    In this quick 7 minute video (or you can read the transcript) Tim gives some helpful tips on how to raise our children to not be helplessly naïve of this world and yet not engrossed in the things of the world either.  Challies says, “So as parents we want to protect our children, yet we also try to raise them so they can exist and thrive in this messed up world.”  This is much needed and simple advice from a brilliant and straightforward teacher of God’s Word.
  4.   “Dads – Preparing Yourself for the Second Shift – Greg Gibson
    A few years back a friend of mine wrote this article for the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that I found to be very helpful when it comes to preparing yourself for your second job when you get home dads, as father/husband. “The second shift is no longer a time of rest, but a time of work.  Good work . . .hard work . . . God-honoring work . . . Warrior-like work. It is here that we work in faithfulness, then fruitfulness, but never idolatry.”  Dads, I hope that you will read this and consider the implications.
  5. ESV Student Study Bible
    Christianbook.com is a wonderful source to find Bibles for inexpensive prices.  It is my desire to get a solid Study Bible into the hands of all teens and pre-teens.  I believe having a hard copy of the Bible is one of the best ways to participate in Sunday school and the sermon each Lord’s Day.  If you child doesn’t already have one, I would suggest taking a look at these nicely designed and trustworthy ESV Student Study Bibles.  They would make a great Christmas present.
  6.  The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden” – Kevin DeYoung
    This is one of the best children’s books that I have ever read.  It has bright and colorful illustrations but the content is theologically rich.  Deyoung, “leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.”  It is one that you will want to put in your family library.
  7.  “5 Principles for Disciplining your Child.” – Melissa Kruger
    There are a lot of different ideas about what the most effective way of disciplining    children.  Here, Melissa Kruger, provides 5 helpful ways for us to correct and train    our children in righteousness.  She proved a helpful reminder when she writes,        “These discipline principles have helped my husband and me, but they are limited.        Only God can change our children’s hearts. All the parenting wisdom in the world        cannot save or transform our children; only Jesus can.”  While only God can fully        change the heart, we too have a responsibility of training and disciplining in a way  that points our children to the freedom found in Christ.  I believe this article may      provide some helpful tips when it comes to the issue of discipline.
    Soli Deo Gloria,Adam B. Burrell

A Prayer for Struggling Moms

Posted: September 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

One of the hardest things in the world as a husband and father is to watch your wife struggle with the day-in and day-out demands on her life when it comes to her children in the home.  Often we men are “fix-it” guys.  We see a problem and we want to drive at a solution to fix it.  There is certainly value in this, but we cannot always fix the difficulty of schedules that need to be kept, the needy children calling for help three times in a thirty second time span for 3 different things, and the hundred other needs that we may never know about.  Men are at work… and that is a good thing.   It is what God intended for us.  Do we men need to be prepared to work our second shift jobs at the family home?  Sure, but our wives need more than this.  They need our daily prayers as well.  This is part of our calling to wash her in the word (Ephesians 5:26), that Paul commanded the Ephesian church to do.

Today I want to offer a prayer that I believe we husbands should be praying over our wives frequently.  Today, you ladies might pray this prayer as well to help you with those little vipers in diapers that we all love so much, yet can put so much stress on our lives.

A Prayer for Patience

It has been said that patience is a virtue.  It is indeed a virtue, but it is not often one that we come by naturally.  Just as it takes a lot of heat and pressure to fuse atoms and carbon together to make a diamond, it often takes heat and pressure time and time again for patience to be produced.  Paul tells the church at Ephesus to walk properly as a Christian when he wrote, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”  Dealing with the fourth spill of the day, and that sinful sassy attitude from your nine year old can be very trying.  The flesh can often fall into a place of weakness.  Yet, scripture encourages us to be patient and long-suffering.  Today, pray for patience.  Pray that the Lord will calm your anxiety and trust that He is doing something through these momentary situations for both you and your children.

A Prayer for Peace

Jeremiah instructed the exiles to pray for peace and prosperity for the city of Babylon in Jeremiah 29.  He said, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  The people of God had just been taken captive by a pagan people.  They were the captives of a war. They were going to be in a foreign land for 70 years, but Jeremiah reminds them to pray for the peace of Babylon.  Now, a young and tired mom may think that a 70 year exile sounds like a better alternative than her daily routine of dealing with a bunch of four and six year olds.  The fact is, this mother is at war.  She is often at war spiritually with her old self, the flesh, who wants her to give into a sinful tirade.  Yet, her new man who is “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24) is to be the victor in this battle.  The end result of war is peace for the victor.  We know that for all those who are in Christ that the victory has already been won.  Thus, today we pray to live within that victory.  Even if your homes may feel like a warzone and you are constantly having to put out small skirmishes, rest in the fact that the Prince of Peace is with you.  Pray that you will respond peacefully, and rest in the work that the Lord is doing.  Flood your mind with the words of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).  Let this bring calm and comfort on those days of trials.

A Prayer for Perseverance

I once heard a pastor remark that it is easier to die as a martyr than to live as one.  What a true statement.  The reason it is true is because of one word: perseverance.  Perseverance is hard work.  It can be soul pounding work.  When you are flush in the face and ready to scream… persevere.  When you cannot handle another midnight call from child number three that they need to eat… persevere.  When your child is in tears over not understanding their math, and you feel helpless to help them yourself… persevere.  Your children are watching how you react when faced with opposition.  What an opportunity to show them the gospel at work.  How you react in times of pressure is an expression of the gospel to them.  Paul writes these words of encouragement to a struggling church, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).  Stressed, sleep deprived, counselor mom, don’t give up and give in to the stresses of the day.  Go to the Lord in prayer.  Go to Him in His Word and be filled.  He alone can give us the rest that we all need.  Trust that He is doing something through the daily stresses and messes.  Respond the way that He wants us to respond. Persevere to the glory of God.

Being a mother is no joke.  It is a very high calling if the Lord calls you to it.  There is no way to get though it without constant and consistent prayer.  Mothers, pray these things today.  Husbands, pray these things over your wife today.  Go to the Lord on her behalf.  Ask the Lord to grant her a respite.  Ask the Lord to grant her an extra measure of patience to deal with your sons.  Ask Him to give her a day of peace, but if there is no peace to have, pray that she may find peace in the storm.  Ask him to give her endurance and perseverance.  Dads, be prepared yourself to get busy as a second-shift dad in helping her when you arrive home.  It is not only your duty, but your privilege as well.  Pray for patience, peace, and perseverance.  And may the Lord be honored in you, struggling mom.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

It is my absolute joy to serve as an Associate Pastor to the families at Pray’s Mill Baptist Church.  One of my jobs as a pastor is to be a source of resources for the families there.  Over the years I have compiled a lot of helpful links and tools that are useful for family ministry.

Each month I plan to provide a list of 5-7 resources that may be helpful in the process of discipleship in your home.  It will simply be entitled “The Family Toolbox.”  I will provide a link and a brief summary in hopes of providing quality tools for your personal family toolbox. The topics will span from issues of child rearing and marriage strengthening , to cultural trends that families need to be aware of.   I take my job of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” very seriously within my local church, but it is also my prayer that these tools will be a blessing to you and your home.   I hope these will be useful.

  1. How to Help Your Children Become Better Sermon Listeners”

In just a few words, pastor David Prince unpacks the question, “How would you explain to children in grade school what a sermon is and what they should be doing during the sermon?”  This is a great blog with quick tips for your young sermon listeners to get all that they can out of the Lord’s Day service.   You can also print out some notes for your young sermon listeners here as well:
Sermon Notes for Older Kids 2
Sermon Notes for Younger Kids

  1. Parental Control for the Internet: Disney Circle (a Review)

There are many internet safety devices out there, and some are better than others.  Here is a quick review on one of the more popular ones.  Disney circle is “a small, white box that pairs with your existing Wi-Fi router.  The Disney Circle Home allows you to control and monitor all of the devices on your home’s Wi-Fi network.”

  1. Passport to Purity

Do you have a pre-teen that needs to hear about sex, purity, and “dating?”  Passport to Purity is a toolkit that is set up for a weekend get away with mom and daughter or father and son.  “The getaway kit equips you to cover what can seem like awkward topics in a fun and engaging way.”  It is one of the best resources for families on the subject.  It looks at these issues from a purely biblical perspective, but in a sensitive way.  I cannot encourage each parent of a preteen enough to check this out.

  1. Make ‘God Talk’ an Everyday Part of Family Life

Have you ever wanted to be able to have more godly conversations with your children and teens?  In this article, Julie Melilli provides a few simple ways to make that a reality in your home.  (I don’t support everything that The Gospel Coalition publishes, but this is a very helpful article on the subject.)

  1. “Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World,” book Reviews

This past weekend my church hosted its first annual “Mother and Daughter Banquet.”  Our guest speaker spoke on the subject of living out a feminine faith in a feminist world.  Here is a quick book review of a book by the same title that Mrs. Christic Henery used as the basis of her talk.  You can also check the book out and purchase a copy of it as well if you are interested in digging a little deeper.

  1. Men of whom the World was not Worthy (Biographical Sermons by John Piper)

Not everyone has the time, nor desire, to sit down and read the biographies of godly men and women of the past.  Now you have the opportunity to learn about them and have your faith strengthened simply by listening.  For the past 25 years Pastor John Piper has been doing biographical sketches/sermons on some of the heroes of the faith in church history.  Each sermon is about an hour long.  It would be perfect to listen to on your drive back and forth from work, while working around the house, or mowing the lawn.  It is one of the most beneficial sermon series that I have ever listened to.

  1. Another “Self-Harm” Challenge to be Aware of

Suicide is a very big deal and the rates of them have increased in recent years.  You may or may not be aware, but there is a new app that your teen and preteen can download that is being deemed as a “suicide” app.  Please be aware of what your children are doing on their phones, and warn them about apps such as this one.

If you find a helpful article that you think would be useful for the church body to read, feel free to shoot me an e-mail (adam@praysmill.com) with the link and I may add it to the monthly list.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you,” readers.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

When you hear the names King David, Alexander the Great, Caesar, or even President Trump, there is one word that could describe them all: power!  Just hearing their names denotes power.  There is power in a name.  There is one name that stands above them all.  It is not just a name, but also a title.  We find it given some 700 years before Jesus was ever born.  Isaiah wrote,

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child
and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

And they shall call him Immanuel . . . Isaiah explains that Immanuel means “God with us” a few verses later (Isaiah 8:10).  Just stop and think about that for a moment.  This means that God would be with us not just in spirit, but in body as well.  This is the same God that created the world (John 1:3).  This God would humble himself to become a human and dwell with us. This is a mind-blowing theological truth.  He didn’t have to come, but out of His love for the Father and the love for His creation, He came to live with us.

Before Isaiah knew all the details, he was looking forward to God’s presence, and in Matthew’s Gospel we find it coming to fruition.  Matthew is not looking forward to God’s presence, but he is presenting it.  Notice what he says,

“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” – Matthew 2:22-23

Matthew is recording one of the most important (if not the most important) events in human history.  This is where we see God coming to dwell with us.  If He does not come to us, there is no going to Him.  If He does not come to us, there is no cross.  Without the cross, there is no salvation.

So what kind of power is in a name?  A lot; there is a lot of power in this name.  Immanuel is not just another name, but it is the greatest of names.  It tells us who Jesus was, and what He was going to do.  This Christmas season, when you sing the old 18th century hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” remember just what it is that you are singing.  You are singing about the advent of Jesus . . . you are singing about the Immanuel who literally came as a child but would go on to be our King, our Shepherd, our substitute, our portion, our God.  That is what is in a name.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Within the last few weeks there has been a new wave of social media videos that many people are talking about.  In a day and age when smart phones are more abundant than smart decisions it seems it is easy to take a video in hopes of trying to get your 15 minutes of fame.  Recently, these videos have turned from simply surprising someone on their birthday, to torturing a mentally handicap person or live-feeding your own suicide.  What often perpetuates these videos is the fact that even news stations pick up because of their popularity and show these horrific videos.  After this they are spread all over social media.  It is a horrible cycle.  One might think that Christians might be immune from such clickbait, but it seems that many Christians are watching these videos as well.  My questions are: to what end does it bring us as Christians?  Should we be entertained by such graphic scenes?  Should we willfully subject ourselves to watch one of our brothers in Christ have their head decapitated?  Should we be watching the latest high school fight video and laugh with glee when some kid is slammed to the ground whether they deserved it or not?  What should our response be to these videos?  I believe there are a few things to consider before you decide to click on that next graphic video.

Should We Thirst for Violence?

One might say that there is violence in the Bible.  Just look at Samson, or even David who was a man after God’s own heart, after all.  They were men of violence.  There is no doubt that there are violent scenes in scripture.  The Bible clearly says that there is a “Time for war” as Solomon wrote, but let us not forget that the Lord told David that he would not be the one who built God’s temple, because of so much violence (1 Chronicles 28:3).  What was one of the reasons God destroyed the world?  “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth,” said the Lord in Genesis 6.  Finally, Jesus told Peter, “he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”  It is obvious that violence (even if that is violence to one’s own body), is not a Christian virtue.  There are times when it is necessary, but it is never something that we should watch with joy.  Violence should make us long for our conquering King to come and put an end to it all, not get our kicks from it.      

How is this Keeping the Second Greatest Commandment?

In Matthew 22 Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was.  He responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This is indeed a great commandment.  However, he didn’t stop there.  With the same breath he said, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The question is, when we click on that “Warning! Graphic Video” link, how are we keeping this commandment of God?  By watching a despicable video of some kid getting punched, or someone walking out in front of a train . . . how is that showing love for your neighbor?  These are people who bear the image of our Maker.  Even if we are just watching this video so we can talk to others about it, in a way we are being entertained by it.  You may not laugh, or even feel good about what you are seeing, but we are putting our desire to see the latest news (gossip) first over the dignity of our neighbor.  How is this loving?  We can still be informed about events, and not partake in a worldly way.  Loving our neighbor is a command, and watching their demise is not a good way to show that love.

Is What You are Seeking Pure?   

Paul told the people of Philippi, “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,” (Philippians 4:8).  Most of these clickbait “graphic videos” do not fall into the category of true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praise worthy, do they?  One of the best ways that I have found to help me discern if I should watch something like this is to ask, “Would I watch this with Jesus?”  If the answer is no, then it is clear that it is not something you should be watching either.  If these videos are not helping you to conform to the image of Christ, it may be that they are helping you conform to the patterns of this world.  That is a step in the wrong direction.   Many of these self-exploiting videos have no purity to them at all, and if this is the case, then we should be very careful not to fill our minds and hearts with images that ultimately were the cause of Jesus’ death upon the cross.  We have enough sin in our own lives that we need forgiveness for.  Do we really need to watch others’?

Violence and graphic content either to oneself or to someone else is not something we should glorify.  In the movie Gladiator (I understand the irony), after swiftly dispatching his opponents, Maximus asks the crowd, “Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?” This is the question that we need to think through today.  Are we entertained by the things that orthodox Christians have been ashamed of for centuries?  Are we entertained by watching things that Jesus had to die for?  The next time you are enticed to keep up with your friends by watching the latest explicit video, please ask yourself these questions.   Be informed yes, but be not conformed to this world.  Remember the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  It is not just those in these videos that will be judged, but also those getting some type of pleasure from watching them.  Be a good neighbor.  Be diligent.  Be on guard, Christian, as the writer of Proverbs reminds us, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

I believe that God is sovereign over all.  That means that He has infinite control over the smallest details of my life just as much as the big ones.  It is good to teach about this truth and it is good to believe this truth.  But when the truth of God’s sovereignty hurts us or takes us by surprise, it could cause us to bring into question the things that we once believed so strongly.

Consider these questions:

When a member of your family is tragically killed, is God still sovereign and good?

When your loved one is suffering to the point that you are praying for the Lord to just take them home, is the Lord still good?

When the sovereignty of God crashes into what would have been considered our happy Christian life, do we still see the Lord’s sovereignty as something to boast about?

Even in times of great trial, God’s control is something that we all should lean on and hold to. Below are three things to think about when dealing with God’s sovereignty and calamity:

The Lord Sympathizes With Our Pain

            We have a God that knows us perfectly, is always with us, and has created us uniquely (Psalm 139:1-18).  He is an intimate Father who cares for His children.  He sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to die in the place of murderers, God-haters, and adulterers.  His perfect Son was substituted for us, an unholy people.  Jesus not only died, He died the worst possible death, an innocent Man, crucified on the cross.  It is upon this same Jesus that we are to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).  The Lord clearly cares for His people.  Some want to say that God’s sovereignty paints a picture of a malicious dictator.  On the contrary, when you understand how intimate God really is you will find Him to be less of a tyrant and more of a loving father.  When His plans run counter to yours, just remember that His love for you has not faltered.  Most of us never doubted our earthly father’s love for us even if we didn’t always understand his ways.  It should be the same with our heavenly Father.  We can rest in the fact that He sympathizes with our pain.  He gave up His own Son to be beaten and die because that was the only way to have His people redeemed.

A Christian Gives Up Right Of Ownership

In Romans chapter 6, Paul reminds us that we were once slaves to sin, having a skewed view of personal freedom. Through Christ we have now become slaves of righteousness, owing our life to the Lord.  If you, by faith, call upon the name of the Lord for salvation, you are giving yourself over to Him and His kingdom.  The Lord sometimes deems it necessary for His glory and His plan to shake up our life with what may seem like unbelievable tragedy.  We must remember that we signed up to have His will be done before our own.  Does this mean that we do not go before Him and petition for the life of our loved one?  In no way!  But in the end, we must remember that we have no right to say when a person lives or dies.  He is the architect of all of life.  He is the giver and taker of life.  When we give up our ownership for something better, namely a relationship with God, we must understand that God’s ways are so much higher and better than our own.  We are no longer the owner of our own life.  We have sold ourselves into the service of the One who is always good and faithful.  His ways are best and can be trusted.

The Lord Works All Things For Good

In times of tragedy some well meaning person may quote Romans 8:28 to you.  Paul said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  While it may be a true verse, it may not bring much comfort to you at the time of a death or another heartbreaking situation.  The verse is, however, key for a broad, proper understanding of God’s sovereignty.  Sometimes in God’s goodness He allows us to see His master plan during seemingly terrible events.  Other times He does not.  The one thing we can trust in is that no matter if we understand all of life or not, He does.  By His very character He is always good.  He is long-suffering.  He is the embodiment of love itself.  Tragedy is a byproduct of sin most of the time.  It is hard to see the Lord working His sovereign will through a situation when clear sin is involved (murder, abortion, unjust firing from a job), but even then God in His wisdom truly is working all things for the good of His name and His people.

The complete sovereignty of God is a wonderful biblical truth.  It has brought my family through some tough times in recent months.  Holding to it does not promise you a life of complete happiness.  What it does promise is to bring a certain amount of peace within life’s storms.  We must always remember that the Lord is in control of the hard times in life and all the good ones, as well.  If you are ever tempted to be angry with God over a terrible situation, just remember all of the wonderful times that He has blessed you with, for those times were His sovereign hands at work too.  When the sovereignty of God collides with your happy little life remember that we can go to Him . . . that we can trust Him . . . and that we can fall at His feet and know that He is with us.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Some times in life things just simply get frustrating and discouraging.  This is true for the newborn Christians as much as it is for the seasoned saint.  It can affect anyone from the average layperson to the experienced minister of the Word.  What do you do to get out of this spiritual valley?  I believe one of the best ways to come out of this season in your life and keep up the good fight for the sake of the Kingdom and the glory of God is to remember . . .

Remember Your Salvation:

Remember that the Lord saved you when you did not deserve to be saved.  However, because of His love for you, he called you out of your sinful life to make you an instrument for him and give you a fully abundant life.  Remember that you are saved by God’s grace.  You were not just saved from something (yourself, and God’s wrath) but to something (good works).  When life gets frustrating, remember the sweet feeling of freedom the day the Lord called you to himself and you responded by faith.

Remember Your Calling:

God has not told you to bring great results, but to be faithful to the calling that he has given you (2 Thess. 1:11).  Results are his part of the deal.  Great numbers of salvation and disciples are great, but Jesus was still faithful in his calling even when all his disciples left him, Peter denied him, and his Father turned from him.  There are seasons when our life seems to flourish, and other times when it seems, in our eyes, to fail.  Nevertheless, if you are being faithful to God and allowing his Word to guide you in your decisions, then “do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Remember Your First Love:

It is so easy to get so caught up in the small details that we forget the big ones.  Even if everything else in your life fails you, the Lord never will.  During a season of life when things are hard, press closer to the Lord.  Be in his Word.  Worship him in song.  Surround yourself with those who love you, but love the Lord even more.  Love your spouse well (if you have one).  Love your children well (if the Lord has blessed you with any), and rest in the fact that the Lord chose you for something.   He didn’t just save you and leave you alone, but he saved you and desires an ongoing relationship with you.  He is your first love . . . and the one that will never disappoint you (when you delight in him first and die to yourself).

So brothers and sisters, I hope that when you look back and remember that you can find rest in the Lord, but also be rejuvenated to take a fresh look at what the Lord is trying to tell you in the midst of your frustration.  Often the Lord uses these things in our lives to grow the fruits of the Spirit in us and conform us to his image.  Don’t fight that . . . just pray for wisdom and wait upon the Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Homeschooling–what could be more challenging, more enjoyable, or more intimidating to a parent? It is a road of tremendous blessing but also of great sanctification for a family. In reflecting on 30 years of teaching my children I have seen many successes and failures, joys and sorrows, satisfactions and regrets. As I consider how to encourage the next generation of homeschoolers, there are two primary areas that come to mind that I feel are essential to your homeschooling success.

Refine Your Vision:

Why are you educating your children? What is your goal? What are you hoping to accomplish and instill in them?  Are we trying to turn out the most academically impressive young adults, or are we looking for children that are wise in the the things of God? I would submit to you that homeschooling is nothing less than the Christian discipleship of your children. It is your response to the command given to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord so that the future generation will declare His praises. It is essential to be continually evaluating to be sure that we stay on the right track. In a culture that exalts the wisdom of man, it is easy to stray off course and miss the training of our children in Godliness. Of course we all want our children to succeed academically, but that does not go far enough. God calls us to disciple our children in the fear of the Lord, for that is where true wisdom is found. We can instill much academic knowledge and miss the fear of God, with the results being disastrous for the next generation. No amount of academic achievement will comfort a parent if their child does not walk in the fear of the Lord.

Keeping your vision in view is what will sustain you on those wonderful days when children are sick, dishes are undone, the housework has fallen by the wayside, math has been bypassed, the mama is frazzled and your life seems like the aftermath of a hurricane. Those are the times you must be able to see that in all the chaos the most needful lessons were still taught, i.e., how to respond to every situation biblically with love, patience and grace, how to lean on the everlasting arms for strength, how to be an example to our children of peace in the chaos, and when we fail at that, we have the opportunity to display a heart of humble repentance before them. It is easy to become discouraged after days like this, but if you are instilling those spiritual lessons in your children, then that was a very profitable homeschool day! The math will come in time, but the character of the child is where the vision must be.

Keep Focused:

The second priority I want to emphasize is keeping focused. That is making sure we are aiming at the target we had in mind. Once you have your vision clearly before you it is a constant battle to refine and refocus your efforts to achieve it. It is so easy to get side tracked, and if we don’t check our trajectory we may well miss the mark we were hoping to hit. There are so many paths and detours along the way, so many different curricula, co-ops, conferences, and activities that it can be hard to discern where to spend your time, money and energy. We must be careful not to let the fun, the interesting or the latest homeschool craze pull us off track. We may often have to refuse things that may be good in order to reach for the best. Keep in mind how you will define whether you have been a successful homeschool parent or not. Will your success be defined by test scores or by whether your children are conformed to the image of Christ? Do you desire most for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?

These words are not meant to negate the importance of striving for academic mastery, but we must keep first things first and the other things will follow. As your children grow in Godliness they will also grow in the pursuit of doing all for His glory, leading to applying themselves to do their best in every area of life. This is certainly the best road to their academic success as well as success in all other areas.

Final Thoughts:

Always remember where true wisdom is found. “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Philippians 3:8).

Homeschooling is definitely not an easy road, but the rewards are innumerable. Keep in mind the admonition of Paul to the Galatians, “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Homeschooling can be a difficult and daunting task, but keep the words of the Psalmist before you continually, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6). Your children’s relationship with their Lord is worth every sacrifice! Do not grow weary in doing good.  Rest in God, teach the best, and continually reevaluate your trajectory and refine or pull back to improve your aim so you may hit the target. Always remember that you “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:14.)

Sincerely,

Desiree Sheats

Forty-two years ago when our first child entered the first grade, I was elated that finally he would be with us all day, since his dad and I were both public school teachers teaching at the same school that he attended.  Five years later another child began Kindergarten, and then yet another five years passed and our last child entered Kindergarten.  All of our children began and graduated from a public school.  They were all leaders and well- grounded in their faith in Jesus.  They made good friends with those who had similar morals, and they reached out to those who were not Christians.  Being followers of Christ, we talked about the things going on at school, and thought about the response we should have.  We were so grateful that our children took a stand against drugs, drinking, and pre-marital sex.  We prayed for them every day asking God to protect their minds and hearts from the evil one who desired to kill, steal, and destroy their faith in Christ.  They were able to be witnesses to students and staff by the way they lived their lives, and some lives have been changed forever, praise the Lord!

Today, however, the enemy seems to have a larger toe-hold in the world, and many of the children of Christian parents are turning from their belief in Jesus.  They are followers, not leaders, and their desire to “fit in” is the driving factor of their lives, not being obedient to Christ.  What their peers say is more important to them than what their parents say.  But, if a child is grounded in his/her faith, strong willed enough to take a stand for what is right and pleasing to God regardless of what stand others take, then that child would be a light in the public school and would probably thrive in that setting.  I believe that there are three areas that must be cultivated if you want your child thrive in a public school setting.       

Parents Must Pray:

Parents should pray, pray, pray for their children, asking the Lord to reveal His will for each of them.  Eventually all children must live in the real world, but they must be grounded sufficiently to withstand the devil.

Parent’s must Educated Their Children in God’s Word:

We must make sure that they have God’s word hidden in their hearts and that they understand how to use the Word to stand firm. That education comes from talks around the dinner table, talks while traveling, talks while taking a walk, talks when doing the dishes, etc (Deuteronomy 6:7) .

Parents Must Live-out Their Faith:

The parents must live their faith day in and day out in front of the children.  The children must see how knowing God is a vital part of their parent’s lives.  One child may need to be home schooled for a few years to get that solid foundation, while another child may be ready to attend public school at Kindergarten age, but the parents living out their faith is a vital part of their children’s preparation.

Our public schools need students and staff who are a light for Jesus.  They need to see Christians who are sold out for Jesus and live their lives everyday depending on Him.  They must see the difference in Christians, so their hearts will long for the peace and joy that knowing Christ brings.  Our job is to make sure our children and grandchildren understand and practice God’s Word.  We must be an example that they can follow since they are watching our lives and picking up our habits.

Sincerely,

Dale Slater

As most of you know, The Supreme Court recently made a ruling allowing gay couples to “marry” all across America.  To many of us, we believe that this was unwise and more importantly, an unbiblical stance.  Marriage has already been defined by the One who created it in the first place.  He is the supreme Judge who is over the Supreme Court.  However, we as Christians need to realize that the country that we live in is much more akin to Babylon than that of ancient Israel.  Our neighbors are no longer the Brady Bunch, and we no longer live in Mayberry.  So, we need to know how to live and what to say in the present day.  We need to act as Christ to a people who are by and large Christless.  If Jesus was here physically, I believe there are 5 things He would say to the LGBT community.

  1. You matter to Me, because I created you in My image.

According to John 3:16, Jesus came to die for a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  No doubt, there are gays who exist within this spectrum.  We know that God has extended some portion of grace to all (although not specifically saving grace) for scripture says that “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,”(Matthew 5:45).  Every person is created in God’s image.  He loves His creation. Those who are homosexuals matter to God in the sense that He extended love to His whole creation. It is not a complete effectual love, but it is love nonetheless.  You matter in His big picture.

  1. I can sympathize with your temptation, for I was also tempted.

Jesus was tempted. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” says the writer of Hebrews in chapter 4:15-16.  Jesus hungered, thirsted, slept, and wept.  Satan even tempted Jesus.  However, in this temptation, He was yet without sin.  Temptation is not sin, but acting upon it is. There are those who have homosexual temptations, but those temptations do not become sin until it is acted upon either through lust or a physical action.  They need to realize that Jesus understands temptation, and through Him, they can have the power to overcome that temptation.  While that thorn in their flesh may never be completely taken away, the Lord can give them the power that they need to overcome temptation (I Corinthians 10:13).

  1. I want you to have true joy, not just temporary satisfaction.

Sin can be enjoyable for a season (Hebrews 11:25).  Why else would people do it if it was not enjoyable? It is desirous for their flesh.  An adulterer must enjoy a one-night stand.  A glutton must enjoy the over eating, otherwise they would stop on their 2nd helping.  But Jesus desires your holiness more than your happiness.  To be holy, one must be redeemed by the Lord.  This happens through recognition of sin, a repentance of that sin, and regeneration for the sinner by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.  Happiness is fleeting, but the state of joy is eternal.  The only way to have eternal joy and not just temporary satisfaction is through Jesus.

  1. I want you to know that you are destroying your body and damning your soul

It is just a simple fact that STDs are rampant among those in this lifestyle.  Statistically, 70-78% of the LGBT community has reported to have had an STD.  Roughly 50% for all people, both gay and straight, who engage in premarital sex are said to have an STD as well.  Homosexual males are 116 times more likely to be murdered and 24 times more likely to commit suicide than their straight male counter-parts.  The decision to be gay often has lasting physical consequences.  But, more importantly than the body’s destruction, is the damning of your soul. It is true that we are ALL born into sin and choose to sin. This sin separates us from God.  The Old Testament law condemned homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22).  Jesus condemned it by alluding to the Old Testament sexual laws as perverse in Matthew 19 and Mark 7.  Paul condemns it by saying “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals . . .” in I Corinthians 6:9-10.  This practice, if unrepented of, will lead you to hell – because it is sin.

  1. I love to save those who are lost.  

Jesus loves to save sinners.  He loves to draw to Himself, gossips, idol worshipers, womanizers, and yes even homosexuals.  In writing to the Roman church Paul said, Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance,” (Romans 2:4).  You cannot remain in your sin and be saved.  It would not be loving to allow a sinner to keep sinning.  It would not be loving to remain silent about the truth.  However, it is loving to warn of the coming destruction for those who refuse to acknowledge the Lord.  To do this there must be a willingness to acknowledge sin, to turn from that sin, and accept Jesus as the Lord, Savior, and Master of your life.  He loves to save those who are perishing, and is willing to save all who call upon His name.

I believe if Jesus was still physically present here on earth, this is what He might say.  However, we as His representatives need to be willing to pass this message on to our neighbor, family, and co-worker.  Yes, this lifestyle is a sin, and because of that, it is not one that is simply an “alternative.”  However, we must recognize our own lostness, sinfulness, and inability to save ourselves as well.  We need to remember that the homosexual community is not our enemy . . . Satan is.  They need Jesus just as much as us.  We must be willing to engage them in a respectful manner and lovingly have this dialog with them.  Jesus will sort out their sin in the end.  Do we let them become a member in the church while practicing this lifestyle?  No, God forbid!  But, the church is a good place for them to be to hear God’s truth and either deny Him or be convicted by His Word.  So, let’s be sure that when we are talking to our LGBT neighbor that we do it in a way that honors God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell