Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

The Blessing of Family

Posted: September 28, 2015 in family
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James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in his epistle, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above . . .” (James 1:17a).  Some of those gifts are: salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Holy Scripture.  It truly is amazing to think about all the good gifts that we as Christian people have been given by our Lord.  Recently, I was overwhelmed by the thought of my family.  I believe that having a godly family would have to be in my top 5 list of “good gifts from above.”  Not everyone has a godly family.  For that sake, not everyone has been given the gift of a spouse or children.  When I started thinking about the blessing that the Lord had given me, it caused me to just stop and thank the Lord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

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

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

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

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

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

Is it True?

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

Is it Honorable?

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

Is it Just?

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

Is it Pure?

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

Is it Lovely?

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

Is it Commendable?

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Should Christians Get Tattoos?

Posted: February 16, 2015 in Bible, Uncategorized
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Let’s face it: tattoos are more popular now than they have ever been. Roughly 21% of all adults in America are said to have at least one tattoo. In the last 30 years they have become more culturally accepted than at any other time in history. At one time they were considered to be a sign of rebellion, but now they are seen as more of a sign of self-expression. Formerly, they were only for sailors and ruffians, but now doctors, lawyers, and even pastors are frequenting tattoo shops to get inked. The question is, while it may be more popular and more accepted now than ever, is it something that Christians should participate in? To be upfront, I have 4 tattoos myself.  I got them all before the age of 21, and now that I am older and more mature in my faith I wish I had not gotten them. While I am not ashamed of the content of the tattoos, I simply wish I had not done it.  This does not expressly mean it is wrong for everyone, especially the Christian. In short, scripture is not clear-cut on the issue of Tattooing, but the Bible does say some things that may guide you in a better understanding of tattoos for yourself.

The Leviticus Argument:

There is only one place that the word tattoo is used in scripture. We find it in Leviticus 19:28. Most English translations render it this way, “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.”  While the word tattoo is not in the original language (“mark your body” is the best translation) the idea of it certainly is.  So, shouldn’t this be enough to end the argument? Scripture says it right? To understand this scripture it must be put into its context. According to your view of Jesus’ fulfillment of the OT law, a different argument could be made here. I (along with most of the Church over the past 500 years) hold to a moral law perspective: Only the moral laws still apply from the OT. I believe scripture supports that Jesus fulfilled this temporary law that was given specifically to the nation of Israel for a specific time. Leviticus 19:28 was a specific law for a specific people with a specific purpose. The law was intended to set Israel apart from cultural Egypt that was known for tattooing themselves for their dead. Tattoos were seen as an offering to the gods who ruled the dead. Thus, when the Lord brought his people out of the land, he told them not to tattoo. If in Christ the law has already been paid for and no longer binding on Christians, then Leviticus 19:28 does not seem to aid in the discussion on modern tattooing for the Christian. The Levitical argument used by some to forbid tattooing does not seem to hold much weight.

The I Corinthians 6 Argument:

Once we become Christians, we give ourselves over to the Lord including our bodies. Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The context of this has to do with joining oneself to a prostitute; however, there seems to be many implications for this truth as well. Every act of fornication, or any other sin committed by the believer in the “temple” was/is a very big deal. In the Old Testament, the High Priest would enter only once a year, and only after extensive cleansing, or he would be struck down by the Lord.  A case could be made to say that tattooing your body is a defilement of the temple. But if you go down that road too far, you could make that argument for eating unhealthy food, for piercing your ears, for smoking, and so on. The list is endless. Therefore, we need not make fast and overarching laws based on 1 Corinthians 6.  Nevertheless, the “temple” mandate of this text is enough for me personally to never get another tattoo.  I don’t believe this Scripture can be made into a mandated law for all Christians. While it does aid in the narrative, the argument from 1 Corinthians 6 is not an end-all on the discussion of Christians and tattoos.

Discernment in Tattooing: 

Since scripture does not have a clear stance on the subject, how then are we to discern whether it is lawful for a Christian to get a tattoo?  I would suggest asking a few questions before you ever get stuck with the needle.

1.  What is your motive? If it is to “stick it” to your parents or another authority (pun intended), then Ephesians 6 would forbid it. If you are trying to draw attention to yourself (pun intended), then James 4:6 does not seem to support that view either. If there is a way to draw attention to Jesus and him alone, then this is the only motive I can see that the Lord would accept.

2.  Have you prayed about it? There is much that can be discerned through prayer. God has told us to commit all things unto him (Psalm 37:5). Before you do something as permanent as a tattoo, it would be wise to seek the Lord’s blessing on it.

 3.  Is this going to glorify God? The content of your tattoo is very important if you decide the Lord has permitted you to get one. It should be something that is glorifying God.  After all, I Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If you don’t know the answer to that, then let me suggest you wait until you have a definitive answer. Remember, “DO ALL THINGS,” this includes tattoos.

4.  Will 45 year old you regret this Tattoo? – Many regret ever getting them.  Will you?

5.  Money, Message, Placement – these are all practical things you need to consider as well.  Is it good stewardship? What does it say to others about you? Will I be able to get a job if I am showing this tattoo off?

Does the Bible have a clear answer on the subject of tattoos?  No, but there does seem to be some good guidelines in Scripture. Ultimately, the decision is up to the person getting one. It does need to be an informed decision not one made out of ignorance. Finally, the law of liberty (Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8) must be applied I believe. Nevertheless Paul’s words, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable” should ring in our ears when searching through this subject. For myself, my conscience would never allow me to get another one. If you are considering getting one and you are a Christian, I would suggest doing your research . . . and more importantly seeking the Lord for your answer.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell

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.  It is hard to imagine on your wedding day that an affair could ever take place; but if we are not careful, we can let an adulterous heart slip in (which is sin in itself), which can easily lead to adulterous actions.  With so many people seemingly falling into this sin, it seems like we need to prepare ourselves against such things.  If a person wants to have an affair, they will find a way to do so, but most people that I know of do not want to have an affair.  However, it seems like many people do little preventive work to keep it from happening.  I will be the first to say that I need to apply these principles as much as anyone.  “My heart is deceitfully wicked above all things” as well.  Yet, through the strengthening of the Lord we do not have to be overcome by sin.  Here are some ways we can be proactive toward helping affair-proof our marriages.  I sincerely hope that you will consider them.

Don’t forget about your covenant:

When you got married you made a covenant with not only your spouse but also with God that you would remain faithful to each other “until death do us part.”  When you decide to go down the pathway of an affair you not only break that covenantal promise to your spouse, but you sin against, lie to, and break your covenant with God as well.  To break a covenant with your spouse is shameful, but to break it with God is fearful.  If the thought of an affair ever enters you mind, don’t forget that you are not just telling your spouse that they no longer “do it for you”, but you are telling God that your desire for that other person is more important that you desire to please Him.

Don’t be alone with a person of the opposite sex:

Before I got into ministry, a very wise pastor once told me, “You need to make it a rule to try your best to never be alone with another woman in a room (or car) that is not your direct family.”  I have found this counsel to be very wise.  I believe this is a principle that we should all take, not just pastors.  Scripture tells us that we are to “flee from the appearance of evil,” in I Thessalonians 5:22.  If you are never alone with a person of the opposite sex, it will make it hard to allow an affair to take place.  If you must ride together in a vehicle, then if they ride in the front seat, you ride in the back or vice verse.  Your marriage is worth fighting for and keeping pure.  It may seem uncomfortable to tell the person who you are riding with why you are not sitting next to them, but I promise you . . . your spouse will love you for it.  This is just another way of preparing yourself beforehand to “flee from the APPEARANCE of evil.”

Don’t have “close” friends of the opposite sex:

What I mean by “close” friends is to say an exclusive friend who your spouse is not friends with also.  I certainly have friends who are women.  However, once I got married, I gave up the right to have them as a “best friend” or exclusive “close friend” due to my special relationship with my wife.  I love her too much to allow a close relationship with another woman to possibly hinder ours.   It is not wise to have friends of the opposite sex that you have lengthy phone, e-mail, text, or even face-to-face conversations with.  If you are finding time to just “run into each other” at the store each week, or you just happen to “get coffee at the same place” together each Saturday morning after your run, then it may be time to change up your routine.  If you don’t, you might wake up one morning and find yourself on the road to an affair.

Don’t have closed social media accounts:

            If you have social media accounts then your spouse should have your passwords and have open regular access to them.  If they do not, are you trying to hide something?  Most people are not trying to hide anything, but allowing your spouse this open access to your social accounts shows transparency to them and would also help keep you from trying to do things that your spouse might not approve of (remember, you are one flesh now).  It is also not wise to be “friends” with someone on your social network that you might have once had a dating relationship with.  Why be friends with someone who you once had feelings for?  If you and your spouse are going through a hard time, then it might be easy to try to find some comfort through an old flame.  Having old girlfriends or boyfriends on Facebook, Twitter, or even in your e-mail contacts is not wise.  Avoid old flames, and enjoy your current eternal one.  It is too easy to just “check out” your old friend and see what they are up to these days.  This has led many down a road that has ended in affairs and even divorce.  Just avoid the temptation and just say no to your Ex’s friend invite.

Do have someone you are accountable to:

If you want to help affair-proof your marriage, one helpful way of doing this is by having an accountability partner who will ask you tough questions.  Find a close friend, of the same sex, that does not mind asking you about your thought life and your dealings with people of the opposite sex.  I truly believe that for a majority of people who have had affairs, if they would have had godly people speaking into their lives asking them these hard questions then it could have helped stopped the affair before it ever stated.  It is a wise thing to heed the Proverb to let “Iron sharpen Iron.”  Having someone ask you if “you have been with a person of the opposite sex in an ungodly way or a way that would offend your spouse in the last few weeks” really makes you take an inventory of your life.  Having someone there who can help you pray though your struggles is a huge blessing.  If we are honest with friends about our dealings with others, this can be one major step in helping to keep our “marriage bed pure.”

There you have it.  Here are 5 ways that if subscribed to, will help prevent an extra-marital affair.  There are a variety of others.  Do you and your spouse have any established guidelines or practices to help affair-proof your marriage?  Have you found anything specifically helpful in keeping your marriage pure?  If so, please feel free to share . . .

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell