Why I Love the G3 Conference

In January 2013, in Douglasville, Georgia a conference was born.  Now there were many other conferences that one could attend in Reformed circles.  At the time there was T4G, Shepherds’ Conference, Bethlehem Conference, and Ligonier.  Those were (and still are) all fine conferences, and truth be told, G3 was never formed to compete with them.  It was formed with the purpose of having a solid, theologically rich conference in the southeast which hoped to strengthen the local church.  I first heard about the conference while attending the Ligonier Conference in 2012.  At that time I was on staff at a Baptist church in the Atlanta area, and when I saw that there was going to be a conference this close to me, I knew that I wanted to attend.  When January rolled around, two friends and I descended on the little town just west of Atlanta and my life has forever been changed because of it.

When I think of G3, I always think of it with fond memories.  I have yet to miss a single conference in the last seven years and Lord willing, I will continue on with that trajectory.  With the 8th annual conference beginning this week, I wanted to express why I think G3 is special and why I love G3 so much.  And like any good Reformed guy, I have 5 points or reasons why.

The Fellowship

I have heard many people say that meeting each year at G3 is like having an annual family reunion.  Getting to see old friends in the vendor hall or meeting someone new while waiting in line for lunch and talking about the glories of God is just one of the benefits of the conference. This conference provides a place of genuine love, genuine friendship, and genuine worship all in one place.  It is where so many of the “one another” passages are able to be applied.  One of the reasons I love G3 is simply because of the fellowship of both the local church and the church universal.  It is indeed a sweet fellowship shared by all.

The Singing

One of the first things that struck me at the very first conference in 2013 was the singing.  I have been to a lot of concerts and special church singings in my life, but there was just something different about the singing that first year.  There were 700 voices lifted as one.  The music was good, but it was the voices of the congregation that carried the songs.  It was a mix of old and new hymnody, but every song was dripping with theological truth.  Every year it is the same . . .  Christ-centered, robust singing. This year we are expecting over 5,000 in attendance.  What a joy it will be to sing with so many, lifting praise and making melody in our heart to the Lord.

The Accessibility

One of the unique things about G3 is that there is no fencing of the speakers.  At many conferences, the preacher often stays in the green room while they are not speaking.  The attendees do not really get a chance to interact with the speakers.  This is not the case at this conference.  It is common to see many of the speakers out and about roaming the vendor hall, or sitting in the back of the conference center listening to one of the other speakers.  Many will stand and talk to conference-goers after their sessions or during the break.  The speakers are human.  They are not superhuman and untouchable.  At G3, one is able to speak with a Tim Challies or a Paul Washer just like you would your own pastor after the morning service.  It is a unique feature that I am thankful for.

The Church

Long before I became an elder at Pray’s Mill Baptist Church I was attending the conference.  There has always been a heavy emphasis placed on the local church.  It is always stated each year, “This conference is not a reality.  This is a taste of heaven where every one of like-mind gathers to worship.”  These words are true.  We gather to be encouraged, but then scatter to go back to our own local place of worship.  The hope is that when you leave you will be encouraged to go back to serve the Lord through your local church.  Pray’s Mill members love to serve the attendees of the conference.  Over half of our congregation helps serve in some capacity.  The very genesis of this conference was by a local church with the purpose of strengthening the local church and you can see how the Lord has done just that over the years.  If you look over the audience you will find young and old, black and white, yellow and red, pastor and janitor, men and women.  This is the church.  I love the emphasis on the local church while gathered with the church universal.  This is just another reason that I love G3.

The Preaching

By far the best part of the conference is the preaching.  There is a wide diversity of preachers who stand in the pulpit each year, but one thing that has always remained consistent is the quality of the preaching.  In my 7 years of attending this conference, I have to say that I cannot remember a “bad sermon.”  Richard Baxter has famously said, “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”  This is what it seems like is being done sermon after sermon at the conference.  The Lord is magnified.  The Scriptures are held high and exposited.  The listeners have no choice but to respond to the heralded.  Over the years I have wept, laughed, been deeply moved by my own sin, and rejoiced in the truths of the gospel, all of this because of the Spirit’s work in me through the preaching of the Word.  Bar none, the preaching at G3 is at the top of the list of why I love G3.

I don’t love G3 just because the Lord used it to move my family to Douglasville, Georgia.  Long before I ever became a pastor at Pray’s Mill I loved this conference.  I have long called this week in January “my second Christmas.”  Now I get the pleasure of working alongside an amazing church that is made up of some amazing people to help put on the conference.  What a joy and a blessing.  I love G3 because for three days I get to worship the Lord through the preached Word and sing gospel-rich songs with some of my most favorite people on the planet.  The Lord has used this conference to enrich my soul over the years.  I have no doubt that he will do the same this week. I have made many friends because of this conference.  I have many memories because of it as well.  Yet more than that, I have grown to love the Lord more because of it . . . and that is truly why I can say, “I love the G3 Conference.”

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Don’t Let Satan Rob You of Your Repentance

Repentance is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given His people.  While repentance is something that is a command (Acts 17:30), we also see that it is a generous gift (Acts 11:18, II Timothy 2:25) as well.  A few years ago, I was reading a book by the late Dr. RC Sproul.  In it, he provided an illustration that has profoundly impacted my way of thinking about repentance.  He wrote about an encounter that he once had with one of his parishioners.  He explained:

 “A man distraught about a guilt problem once came to me saying, ‘I’ve asked God to forgive me of a sin over and over, but I still feel guilty.  What can I do?’ This situation did not involve the multiple repetitions of the same sin, but the multiple confession of a sin committed once.

‘You must pray again and ask God to forgive you,’ I replied.  A look of frustrated impatience came to his eyes. ‘But, I’ve done that!’ he exclaimed.  ‘I’ve asked God over and over again to forgive me.  What good will it do to ask him again?’

In my reply I applied the proverbial firm force of the board to the head of the mule: ‘I’m not suggesting that you ask God to forgive you for that sin.  I’m asking you to seek forgiveness for your arrogance.’

The man was incredulous.  ‘Arrogance? What arrogance?’ the man was assuming that his repeated entireties for a pardon were proof positive of his humility.  He was so contrite over his sin that he felt he had to repent for it forever.  His sin was too great to be pardoned by one dose of repentance.  He was going to suffer for his sin no matter how gracious God was.   Pride had fixed a barrier to this man’s acceptance of forgiveness. When God promised us that He will forgive us, we insult His integrity when we refuse to accept it.  To forgive ourselves after God has forgiven us is a duty as well as a privilege.[1]

I don’t think this man’s experience is unique.  Indeed, I think it is actually very common. However, it is thinking like this that has allowed Satan to rob us of the joy of repentance.  This should never be the case for the believer. There are two ways that Satan can rob a Christian of their repentance, yet we don’t have to let him.

Don’t let him trick you into thinking you don’t need to repent of the “small” sins.

“Little sins” can often go unnoticed by the human eye and heart.  Let’s say that you didn’t pay enough money at the parking meter today, and you ended up getting a ticket.  Truth be told, it kind of frustrated you and Romans 13 doesn’t really feel like it applies here right?  Your husband did something to hurt you, though he didn’t even know it.  You go to bed angry, but by the next morning you just brush it off and go on.  Your child has talked back for the third time today, and that was the last straw.  You discipline them, but you did so in anger.  You justify your over-reaching discipline by saying to yourself, “They were in the wrong.  They didn’t honor me.”  It seems like small stuff to many, but it is not in the eyes of God.  Though it may seem insignificant, it is the local government’s right to put in parking meters on their property.  And as Christians, we are called to “obey the government” and “those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God” (Romans 13:1-2).  Even though your husband may have frustrated you, it was your responsibility to “not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).  While your children needed discipline for their dishonor, we as parents are to discipline them in love, and not out of anger or done so out of control (Ephesians 6:4).  When we let these “little sins” go unrepented, we are robbed of our proper communion with the Lord.  Don’t let Satan convince you that those “small” sins are not worth praying about.

Don’t let him drag you down with guilt from past sins if they are forgiven sins.

Guilt and shame have their place. The Holy Spirit uses them to bring a person to repentance (II Corinthians 7:10). Yet, once a person repents of their sin, then their guilt and shame are removed (Romans 8:1). This is the beauty of repentance.  The psalmist reminds us of a great truth when he wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).  When we sin, we must repent.  When we repent we must realize that God is the one to whom we have offended.   And while there still may be earthly consequences for our sins, we can rest in knowing that our standing with God is righteous.  We do not have to crumble under the weight of guilt and shame the way Dr. Sproul’s parishioner did.  Satan would love to do this to you.  If he can rob you of your joy and freedom in Christ by reminding you of your past sin, he will do so.  Yet in Christ, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).   Let us all remember as Dr. Sproul has said, “When God promised us that He will forgive us, we insult His integrity when we refuse to accept it.  To forgive ourselves after God has forgiven us is a duty as well as a privilege.[2]

When we turn away from our sin, we are to turn to God.  When we do this, he accepts our repentant plea.  When God says that something is good, we must believe it.  Repentance is a gift from God to his people. So, next time you want to forget about that little sin, DON’T.  Repent of it, and be freed from the guilt of it.  The next time you want to fall to your knees under the weight of a past sin that Satan brings to your remembrance, DON’T.  Plead the blood and know that God has forgiven you of that sin, and in that forgiveness, you no longer must bear the weight of guilt and shame.  Jesus took it for you.  You bear it no more.   Don’t let Satan rob you of your repentance.  If you are the Lord’s, you are free in Christ, so matter what Satan may try to make you think.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

[1] Sproul, R.C. Does Prayer Change Things. (Lake Mary: Ligonier Ministries, 2009), 39-40.

[2] Sproul, R.C. Does Prayer Change Things. (Lake Mary: Ligonier Ministries, 2009), 40.

Family Toolbox (October 2019)

Albert Mohler Offers 10 Points on Complementarianism in the SBC

“Albert Mohler delivered a timely and needed chapel message on complementarianism. It is a message that is timely not only for our seminary community but also for the entire denomination . . .”

Go Home and Love Your Wife by Voddie Baucham

In this 3 minute clip, Dr. Voddie Baucham explains why it is “absolutely inexcusable for a Christian man to stop loving his wife.”  He explains how love is an act of the will and a choice, not based on feelings, yet not void of feelings either.

Help! My Teen Is Questioning the Faith by Melissa Kruger

“So when your teens start to wrestle with their faith, don’t freak out. Don’t get angry. Don’t be insecure. Don’t fret. Don’t be condescending. Take your concerns to God and entrust your fears to him. Be patient and prayerful, loving and kind. Help your teen find answers to their questions, but know that only the Spirit can give discernment.”

IOS 13 Parental Controls Explained

“On September 19, 2019, iOS 13 released to the public. As usual, a number of things changed but we wanted to focus in on three changes that impact parents and kids the most: Photo Privacy, Screen Time, and Apple Watch.

Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper

“Don’t let Christmas sneak up on you this year. Prepare your heart and take joy in the spiritual journey that leads you to that holy day! Dr. Piper offers 25 devotional readings to sweeten your worship of God’s Son this December, keeping candy and candles in their proper place and adoring Jesus above all.”

Modesty Matters: What not to Wear by Tim Challies

“It is not a sin to look handsome or to look beautiful. Far from it! However, it is a sin to dress in such a way that you deliberately draw attention to yourself instead of to God. If your great desire is to be noticed, you will not be concerned with displaying godly character.”

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

 

 

The Family Toolbox (September 2019)

 

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

Is it Time to Reset the Family Table, Spiritually Speaking?

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

The Family Toolbox (April 2019)

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

The Family Toolbox (February 2019)

Can social media good outweigh the bad?

A recent study from Pew Research found that over two-thirds of teenagers ages 13-17 feel like they experience positive benefits from using social media, while less than half say they experience negative effects. Facts & Trends speaks about how parents and church leaders can use these statistics to help teens navigate the complicated and ever-prominent world of social media.

Few churched teenagers become devout young adults.

In a recent survey we find that most young adults who attended church as a teenager say they believe in God today, but fewer consider themselves devout Christians. And as a whole, they have conflicting recollections about the churches they attended in high school. LifeWay Research surveyed more than 2,000 American adults between the ages of 23 and 30 who attended a Protestant church twice a month or more for at least a year as a teenager.  Here are the results.

How can we glorify God with our time?

In this video, Tim Challies talks about redeeming our time in a busy world that vies for our time every second of the day.  This is some helpful information if you would like to know how to use your time better for the sake of the Kingdom.

The most significant lessons we’ve learned as parents.

In this video interview Michael and Melissa Kruger reflect on parenting as their oldest daughter is preparing to leave home for college in the fall. That kind of milestone makes parents stop and reflect on what they’ve learned in 18 years of parenting.  Listen as they give some good advice on parenting that may provide helpful for you.

The sufficiency of Scripture for manhood and womanhood.

In this sermon Dr. Voddie Baucham explains how today, Christians and churches have drifted away from Scripture and are affected by modern culture’s redefinition of manhood of womanhood. He goes on to make the case for why we must return to Scripture as being all-sufficient for every aspect of life, including the determination of manhood and womanhood.

Training your children in family worship.

This discipline of family worship is something that is very dear to me.  In this short video Dr. Joel Beeke gives some practical advice on how to train your children to participate in family worship.  He says, “Training your children for family worship – to do family worship when they have their own family – is an important aspect of daily family devotions. This is best accomplished by the older children seeing the parents teaching the younger children and occasionally delegating leading family worship to them when appropriate.”

When a child disobeys: six steps for healthy correction.

Correcting children can be a matter of babies and bathwater. How do we preserve the phenomenal God-given potential these children possess, without condoning the defiance that boils over from the cauldron of their sinful little hearts? How do we love the baby well and hate the dirty bathwater?  Here, Sam Crabtree explains.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

The Family Toolbox (January 2019)

5 Ways Athletes Have a Unique Gospel Platform

In this article David Qaoud provides 5 unique opportunities that athletes have when it comes to sharing the gospel.  He writes, “You can’t fake it on a team. Your true self comes out. If you claim Christ but you’re a hypocrite, you’ll put a bad taste in others’ mouths. If you claim Christ and your actions and words align, however, you may not have to summon the courage to initiate every gospel conversation; people will likely come to you.”

5 Ways to Help Affair-Proof Your Marriage

Here are 5 tips that I have found helpful in fighting to keep your marriage pure and affair-proof.  “It is a scary thing to see what seems to be a good and godly marriage come to an end because of an unfaithful spouse.  Most of these affairs do not happen overnight.  Most who have an affair do not just end up in the bed with a total stranger and wake up the next morning and wonder how they got there.  It started out as “innocent” conversations, but then it progressed from there.”

Has Your Child Been Looking at Bad Stuff Online?

Tim Challies gives great pastoral advice in his latest VLOG on how to navigate the uncomfortable conversations with your children if you have found out that they have been looking at inappropriate images of sites on the internet.  He provides some very good wisdom and counsel for concerned parents.

How Can We Prioritize Our Marriage over Work and Kids?

In this episode of “Ask Pastor John” John Piper answers the question, “How do we keep our marriage a priority when life is so busy with kids, work, and the other duties of life?”  Pastor John offers some practical and biblical advice on the subject.

I Have an Hour a Day to Read — How Much Should Be Bible?

In this episode of “Ask Pastor John” John Pipers provides some tips on how to read scripture and solid theological books for those that don’t have much time in the day.  His answer might surprise you . . . but I feel certain that it will encourage you to read more to the glory of God.

Our Daughter’s Nightly Struggle (Not just for parents with daughters)

If your child has a smart phone, you may have noticed that it seems more like an extra appendage than just simply a tool to call and keep in touch with other people.  To separate a teen from their phone is akin to separating a mama bear from her cubs.  In this short article, you will find what one parent did to separate their daughter from her digital Pharaoh.  Their decision had a wonderful effect on their daughter, and it may be something that you want to consider doing for your family as well.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

 

Building a Theological Library for Your Teen

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 28 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.

28. “Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girls Guide to Maturing in Christ” – Lindsey Carlson

This is written specifically for teen girls who have made a profession of faith in Christ.  It is written as a type of “What’s next?” book to help girls grow in their faith.

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

Family Toolbox (December 2018)

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