FAD DIETS AND OUR FAMILY

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  • Wednesday, December 29, 2010
  • This is how the Lockyers and Wegrzyns worked off all the food and trimmings of Christmas. A rousing game of hockey on the farm pond does wonders. It also rearranges joints and gets the blood flowing (sometimes spilling).  Happy New Year!

    'O HOLY NIGHT' BY DAVID PHELPS

  • Friday, December 24, 2010
  • Don't know anyone (other than I suppose the angels themselves) who sings and expresses this song better ... enjoy on this Christmas Eve

    GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY TO YOU

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  • From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "Joy Born At Bethlehem," delivered December 24, 1871


    The joy which this first gospel preacher spoke of was no mean one, for he said, “I bring you good tidings” — that alone were joy: and not good tidings of joy only, but “good tidings of great joy.” Every word is emphatic, as if to show that the gospel is above all things intended to promote, and will most abundantly create the greatest possible joy in the human heart wherever it is received.


    Man is like a harp unstrung, and the music of his soul’s living strings is discordant, his whole nature wails with sorrow; but the son of David, that mighty harper, has come to restore the harmony of humanity, and where his gracious fingers move among the strings, the touch of the fingers of an incarnate God brings forth music sweet as that of the spheres, and melody rich as a seraph’s canticle. Would God that all men felt that divine hand.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM PASTOR GEORGE AND DEB

    "...and behold, a great multitude.."

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  • Tuesday, December 21, 2010
  • Revelation 7:9-12 is a "I can't wait" event. A taste of what it is going to be like happened in Nigeria where over 2 million people came together and this is what it sounds like when they break in praise ...

    CHRISTMAS AS ONLY A MOTHER CAN UNDERSTAND

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  • There is a part of the Christmas story that I can somewhat relate to as a father but not in any way to the same degree that a mother can. My daughter is one tough woman- always has been (her mother taught her) and now living with 7 men-boys (husband + 6 boys)- but this song brought out the tender mother in her when she first heard it. So for you moms, if you take the time to watch this video of Jill Phillips singing "Labor of Love" (from the Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God album) with scenes from the film The Nativity, make sure you are braced for the emotion that the song tends to bring forth.

    PARENTS OF TEENS: HERE IS A MUST READ!

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  • Monday, December 20, 2010
  • Ran across this article this morning and it hits home since I have had this kind of conversation with several parents lately. If you are the parent of a teen or even close to that age, this is a great read and the questions are spot-on and should be asked.

    David Murray is the author and a professor at the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and is President of Head, Heart, Hand Media; a Christian film company. He writes:

    I’m far from an expert on this, but I thought I’d share some thoughts about my first few years of parenting teenagers. I hope that some of these reflections might help some of my fellow-strugglers.

    From what I have experienced, and also witnessed in pastoral ministry, there seems to be three tensions that define the teenage years.

    HOW TO SAVE TIME AND MONEY DECORATING

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  • Wednesday, December 15, 2010
  • SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS OVER THE HOLIDAYS

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  • I am right where many of you are... the hardest people to share the gospel with are those in our family. They all know me too well and even as a "paid, professional holy man" as I am, it is still awkward.

    C.J. Mahaney has commented and opened up a great sermon by Spurgeon on this very topic. Here is C.J.'s introduction to the sermon, and then if you would like sound counsel on how to share with your family, take the 10-15 minutes to read the sermon. It is inspiring and practical.

    C.J. writes:

    On Sunday morning, December 21, 1856, Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon to prepare his growing church for the coming Christmas season. He titled it “Going Home,” and the aim of the message was to encourage each member of his congregation to humbly, wisely, and appropriately find opportunities to share their personal testimony with family and friends.

    Spurgeon had become the pastor of New Park Street Church in April, 1854. At that time the church had 232 members. By Christmas of 1856 the membership had risen quickly to around 4,000. A large number of newly converted Christians needed to be prepared for their return home for Christmas.

    ANDREW PETERSON CONCERT - DOWN TO THE WIRE

  • Wednesday, December 8, 2010
  • If you are looking for a great concert for Christmas, I once again recommend Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb" concert this Friday at Berean. Still plenty of seats available at 15 dollars a pop. Here are a few songs from what is the biblical storyline of Christmas. The second one is my grandson's favorite titled "Matthew's Begats." You can purchase tickets at Lincoln Berean Church



    JEWISH HISTORY WITH A BEAT FIXED

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  • Tuesday, December 7, 2010
  • If you tried the video to the post about Jewish history .. try it again. The video is corrected and should work now. It is worth the watch and you will have the song in your head the rest of the day.

    MEMORIZING TITUS: ARE YOU UP TO IT?

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  • I was thinking of my own discipline for memorizing God's Word and thought I would next try to tackle the book of Titus since Pastor Tom is preaching it. Have you ever memorized a whole book of the Bible? I have done a few and find it especially enriching as passages of Scripture are suddenly understood in their context and the richness of the language comes alive.

    Titus is only 46 verses and if you break it down into 3 a week (except 4 the last week), you can have it memorized in 15 weeks. Pastor Tom will still be preaching it in 15 weeks. So even if you start January 1, you will still likely beat him to the end.

    Our household (Deb and I) challenged Bill and Brit and their sons to do the same. (Asa who is 4 gets a break but still will do some of the passages.) At the end of the 15 weeks, we will have a Titus "verse" quiz at the dinner table and spontaneously someone will be picked to recite verses and then Grandpa will stop them at a point and someone will pick it up from there. If they all do it right, they will receive a reward. We will receive the reward of the blessing of hearing the Word from their lips praying they are treasuring it in their hearts.

    The way I memorize Scripture is I buy 3 X 5 cards on a spiral binding and write out the verses. I then do most of my memory work in the car. Even if I just do it coming to church and home each day, I will have spent 20 minutes on memorization. Doing it this way keeps my personal devotion time focused on other disciplines.

    If you want to hear or read a great message about Scripture memorization, here is John Piper's message Thy Word I Have Treasured in My Heart.

    PARENTING CHILDREN WHO MAY HAVE "CURSED GOD IN THEIR HEART"

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  • The following article is by Pastor Tahbiti Anyabwile of the First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman Island.

    “And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.” (Job 1:5)


    It seems Job suffered for his children before he suffered for his children. Before the calamitous news of their death, Job worried about an even greater potential tragedy–their spiritual death.

    This righteous man longed for his children to love and honor God. It’s the desire of all godly parents.

    But Job lacked the one attribute most parents wish they had: omniscience. How could he know what his adult sons and daughters did when he was not around? How could he know what lie in the hearts of his children? Had they “cursed God in their hearts”? What a terrifying set of questions for any parent. This is why we don’t sleep until all the children arrive home safely. This is why we ask questions about friends we don’t know very well. This is why we sometimes inspect their rooms or ask searching questions while hoping not to offend. What if our children live double lives? What if they curse God in their hearts?

    How does this righteous man deal with the questions and worry? how does he deal with not knowing? He appeals to the One who does know, who sees all. The very God Job feared His children might have cursed is Job’s Great Ally in the war for his children’s hearts. Job wants what God wants–a godly offspring (Mal. 2:15). God, then, is Job’s Warrior in this battle.

    So, Job does two things. First, he consecrates his children. He sets them apart for God. His children do not belong to him; they belong to the Lord of life. If children are arrows in a parent’s quiver, Job aims His directly at the courts of God. One can only speculate about how much greater Job’s suffering and difficulty would have been if he maintained an idolatrous hold on his children. Certainly losing all his children in one day was as unimaginable a disaster possible. But would he have maintained faith and sanity had he prized his children above God, or built his life on his children, or found his ultimate joy in his children? Consecrating his children was not only right and godly, ultimately it provided a measure of protection. This is how Job could reply to his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10) Or, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

    Second, Job interceded for each of his children. Notice “he would rise early in the morning.” The earliest business of day was prayer for Job. He made his offerings to God on behalf of each child’s soul. For if they cursed God in their hearts, only God could renew their hearts. If their offense was against God, only God could relent and forgive them. They needed help from God, and Job the faithful father went to God early, interceding for their deliverance. Notice: “thus Job did continually.” Here’s a portrait of a persistently pleading parent. He conquers his helplessness by appealing to the Almighty.

    These things are written for our instruction (1 Cor. 10:6). How kind of God to leave us in His word such a compelling and clear example to follow. Let us set apart our children to the Lord, and renew our prayers on their behalf. Conquer parental anxiety with petitions to our covenant God who knows our children and renews the heart.

    JEWISH HISTORY TO A BEAT

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  • Monday, December 6, 2010
  • I grew up in New York where there are more Jewish people than in Israel. Part of my experience as a boy was to be exposed to the Jewish culture and Christmas time always reminds me of their Chanukah celebration. Our school programs were always one half Christmas and one half Chanukah so I learned not only the story but their songs. The story of Chanukah occurs between the Old and New Testament and is a glorious one of victory and sets up the Christmas story. You should find out about it and share it with your children and then this video will make more sense to you.  I found it quite fun. It brought back many memories of families sharing the lighting of the Menorah and playing games with the dradles. Enjoy and shalom.


    HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE ADVENT CALENDAR

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  • Thursday, December 2, 2010
  • Ever since I was a boy, I have been fascinated by astronomy. I used to know the night sky constellations like the back of my hand. I have since lost some of the touch but being that I have chores to do each night, I always give the night sky a look and seek out constellations and other happenings in the universe. If you share such a fascination, you will enjoy, along with me, the Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar where a new picture will be posted each day. Though some of the blurbs may be unbiblical, the pictures will be amazing and tell of the glory of God and declare the work of His hands. They pour forth speech and night to night reveal knowledge. (Psalm 19:1,2) The picture is an example from day 1. Enjoy what God has displayed.

    31 WAYS TO PRAY FOR YOUR CHILDREN

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  • Wednesday, December 1, 2010
  • As the new year approaches, many of us will start out with commitments to do things better. Here is a tool that may help you as a parent in praying for your children that you can start today. Bob Hostetler has 31 categories to pray for your children where you can focus on one each day. This is a great tool so check it out ..

    31 Ways to Pray for Your Children

    A RESPONSE TO "WHO NEEDS MARRIAGE?"

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  • Tuesday, November 30, 2010
  • A couple of weeks ago Time magazine featured the story "Who Needs Marriage?" It set off a storm of responses. Al Mohler who is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is as C.J. Mahaney calls him, "the smartest man on the face of the planet and he is on our side," has written a response worth reading.

    Who Needs Marriage? TIME Asked the Question — Do You Have an Answer?
    Who needs marriage? I do. You do. We all do — and for reasons far more fundamental than can be explained “in purely practical terms.”
    Monday, November 29, 2010
    “When an institution so central to human experience suddenly changes shape in the space of a generation or two, it’s worth trying to figure out why.” Belinda Luscombe of TIME magazine made that observation in the course of reporting on a major study of marriage undertaken by TIME and the Pew Research Center. In the cover story for the magazine’s November 29, 2010 edition, Luscombe summarizes their findings with a blunt statement: “What we found is that marriage, whatever its social, spiritual, or symbolic appeal, is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be.”

    Without doubt, marriage has been utterly transformed in the modern world. In Western nations, the concept of marriage as a sacred covenant has given way to the idea that marriage is merely a legal contract. The limitation of sexual intercourse to marriage went the way of the Sexual Revolution, even as the ideal of permanence gave way to no-fault divorce and serial monogamy. And as for monogamy, that may be on shaky ground, too. These days, you can’t take anything for granted.

    ANOTHER MALL AMBUSHED!

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  • Friday, November 26, 2010
  • BE THE ONE OUT OF THE TEN

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  • Wednesday, November 24, 2010
  • This Thanksgiving, don't be one of the 9 but be the one of the ten. HAPPY THANKSGIVING

    "Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:15-17)



    
    

    SUGGESTIONS FOR CHILDREN'S MUSIC GIFTS

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  • Tuesday, November 23, 2010
  • Follow the link for some great suggestions of Bible-saturated, gospel-centered music for children if you are looking for ideas for Christmas. There are additional ideas if you read some of the comments.

    CHILDREN'S MUSIC

    A GREAT CHRISTMAS EVENT

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  • Friday, November 19, 2010
  • We will miss Christmas on 84th Street and the telling of the Christmas story but have a wonderful alternative event to recommend to you. Berean Church is hosting Andrew Peterson (my personal favorite Christian artist) doing "Behold the Lamb of God" on Friday, December 10.  Andrew takes you on a musical journey from the promise to the prophets to the incarnation. It is a biblical theology of God born a man saturated with Scripture and moving us through the glorious narrative of the wonder of incarnation.

    Tickets are only $15.00 ($20.00 for the premium seats) which I think are pretty cheap for concerts these days. My guarantee is that you will be nourished and blessed as we move into the Christmas season. Tickets can be purchased at the Berean website below and the video is a taste of two of the songs he will bring.
    http://www.lincolnberean.org/ministries/worship-arts/worship-arts-concert-series-upcoming-shows/

    TO THE GALS: MY WIFE IS DEFINITELY READING THIS!

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  • Deb and I will be celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary next week (on Thanksgiving Day) and this counsel from Jani Ortlund is not radical for us, but we are not quite 6 seconds each morning. Something tells me we will be .. :) How about you?  Jani is the wife of Pastor Ray Ortlund of Immanuel Church in Nashville.

    What can six seconds do for you? Woman to woman, let me encourage you that just six seconds a day can help safeguard your marriage.

    How you say goodbye as you and your husband begin your day can help you build a lifelong romance. Ray and I send each other off each morning with a six-second kiss, and after 39 years of marriage, I highly recommend it!

    After years of a quick shout from somewhere near the back door, it started with “Goodbye, honey. See you tonight . . .” which left us both wanting more. It stopped when we decided that before we went out to face our day we would scout the other out, wrap each other up in a warm embrace, and begin our day with an intimate, very married, six-second kiss.

    Try it. Tomorrow when you say goodbye, take your husband’s face in your hands. Look deeply into his eyes. Ask him to hold you for just six seconds. Tell him you love him. Admire him. Tell him you can’t wait until the day is done and you’ll have time together again, and then kiss him like you mean it.

    Go ahead. Try it! Your young children will grow up feeling secure in the love between their parents. Your adolescents will blush, groan, and hope their friends don’t see you. Your teens will hope that someday they can build a marriage like their parents. And if there are no children around? Hmmmm, now there’s an interesting situation!

    “Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go . . .” Song of Solomon 3:4



    MY RECOMMENDATION FOR ADVENT READINGS

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  • Thursday, November 18, 2010
  • I am looking forward to the Advent Season for a devotional reading that I highly recommend for you and your family ... Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus; Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas edited by Nancy Guthrie. I used this last year and found it an extraordinary read. The book is 22 readings for Advent by such writers as George Whitfield, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, Charles Spurgeon, Saint Augustine, John MacArthur, J.C. Ryle, and many others. It is published by Crossway and I present this to you now so you can have it in time to read during the Advent season. List price is about $12.

    J C RYLE - TRAINING YOUR CHILD TO KNOW THE BIBLE

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  • “You cannot make your children love the Bible, I admit. No one but the Holy Spirit can give us a heart to delight in the Word. But you can make sure that your children are acquainted with the Bible; and remember that they can never become acquainted with that blessed book too soon, or too well.

    “See that your children read the Bible reverently. Train them to look upon it, not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the Word of God, written by the Holy Spirit Himself—all true, all profitable, and able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ.

    “See that they read it regularly. Train them to regard it as their soul’s daily food—as something essential to their soul’s daily health. I well know that you cannot make this anything more than a form; but there is no telling the amount of sin which a mere form may indirectly restrain.

    “See that they read it all. You need not shrink from bringing any doctrine before them. You need not assume that the leading doctrines of Christianity are things which children cannot understand. Children understand far more of the Bible than we are apt to suppose.

    “Fill their minds with Scripture. Let the Word dwell in them richly. Give them the Bible, the whole Bible, even while they are young.”

              -JC Ryle: The Duties of Parents

    An Example of Preaching the Gospel to Your Children

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  • Saturday, November 13, 2010
  • Below is a great example by Brian Croft, a pastor in Louisville, Kentucky on teaching his children about Christ's imputed righteousness. It appears by words to be a subject over their heads but like all aspects of doctrine, the more you understand the great riches of the gospel, the better you will be able to explain it to a child. They can understand it! Perhaps try this lesson yourself in your home and let your children be amazed by the gospel.

    I am currently preaching through 1 Samuel. Last week Israel asked a provoking question after some of the men carelessly looked in the ark and they died. The question was, “Who is able to stand before this holy God.” (1 Sam. 6:20) As I read the passage with my family throughout the week, some interesting discussions came from it. One conversation in particular was how do we answer this question, “How can a sinner stand before God?” Once we established that no sinner can, it created a wonderful opportunity to talk about the specific details of the gospel.

    We talk about the gospel constantly in our house and in our family devotions with our children. However, what this question provided was an opportunity to discuss specifically how does a sinner stand in the presence of a holy God. In other words, how do you explain Christ bearing our sin and Christ’s righteousness being given to us to a child? Here is what followed and my hope is that it could act as a template to teach our children other deep theological truths that make the gospel so sweet and accessible to them.

    SALVATION IS FOR QUITTERS

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  • Wednesday, November 10, 2010
  • From Michael Wittmer of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
    Read: Ephesians 2:1-10


    God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (2:8-9).

    Wildlife officials in my town vainly tried to save a duck which had an arrow sticking through its breast. The wounded duck ate the bread which the rescuers threw her way, but she flew away whenever their nets came close. It’s hard to blame the duck. She didn’t understand that the same self-reliance which normally kept her alive was now preventing her from receiving the help she needed.

    We are that duck. Crippled by the self-inflicted wound of our sin, we stubbornly think that we can survive by trying harder. But every flap of our wings sucks the arrow in, and if we don’t get help soon we will bleed out.

    OH! TO HAVE BEEN AT MACYS THIS DAY!

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  • Monday, November 8, 2010
  • This is awesome. “On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation’s “Random Acts of Culture” at Macy’s in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world’s largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers.”

    FEEL OUR PAIN IN THE CHURCH OFFICE

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  • Friday, October 29, 2010
  • With the addition of Pastor Michael K. to the staff, we have had to deal with a serious communication issue on a daily basis. Many of you have heard his mom and dad (Franklin and Sarah) teach and we all smile and act like we understand them with their accent. So we do with Michael on a daily basis. So you feel our pain, check out Bill Cosby and have a laugh

    WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR DINNER TABLE?

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  • Erik Raymond, Pastor at Emmaus Bible (formerly Omaha Bible South) and our speaker at the men's retreat posted this challenge to pass on to you....

    If you want to engage in an interesting social experiment, the next time you go out to eat, look around. Watch the people that are eating. I have been captivated with what I’ve seen.

    People hover over their plates or don’t put their burgers down. The only time they open their mouths is to put more food in it. It is amazing. I have watched married couples, dating couples, friends, and coworkers sit together and rarely say a word, just gorge their faces. And the eating is typically fast too.

    You may be wondering if I’ve just parachuted in from another planet or something. The answer is no. However, I think the habits of others have just recently hit home for me. Literally.

    Our dinner table is made up of seven people. The kids range in age from 15 months to 15 years. And recently I have seen an increase in the speed eating and a decrease in the conversation.

    MORE THAN HALLOWEEN THIS WEEKEND

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  • Thursday, October 28, 2010
  • October 31 draws our attention to Halloween but it should also be a day of remembrance and teaching to our children of the celebration of The Reformation. It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther decided he could not remain silent any longer and nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to a door and began what would be known as The Reformation. It is the birth of the Protestant Church and a movement that would actually go on for nearly 200 years. Of the many things that came from the movement, the greatest was called the “durchruch” by Luther, or the “breakthrough.” What this means is that Luther rediscovered the gospel. I trust that every day is a “durchruch” for you as you discover the gospel in all aspects of life.

    You can learn all about the Reformation two fairly quickly ways this week. One is that Omaha Bible Church is hosting Stephen Nichols on Saturday, a reseach professor at Lancaster Bible College and nationally known church history expert who will be talking about the Reformation. Costs only $5 and includes lunch. You can register at http://www.omahabiblechurch.org/home/events/2010-fall-family-conference .  Another option is get Stephen Nichols' book, The Reformation; How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World.  I am nearly done reading it and highly recommend it to all. It is entertaining and very informative.


    Enjoy what I think is the best single performance of the great Reformation hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” written by Martin Luther and performed by Steve Green.

    J.C. Ryle - Watching Over Your Child's Soul

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  • Tuesday, October 26, 2010
  • “Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you truly love them, then often think about their souls. Nothing should concern you as greatly as their eternal destiny. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die."

    “This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all that you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, ‘How will this affect their souls?"

    “A true Christian must not be a slave to what’s currently ‘in-fashion,’ if he wants to train his child for heaven. He must not be content to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is customary, or to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them, or to let them form bad habits, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children’s souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called odd and strange. What if it is? The time is short—the customs of this world are passing away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for the earth—for God, rather than for man—he is the parent that will be called wise in the end.”

    ~ J.C. Ryle: The Duties of Parents

    GUARDING SABBATH FOR YOUR CHILDREN

  • Friday, October 22, 2010
  • I found this an interesting read on a topic that seems to be an area where parents are seeking wisdom. I believe that Jen Wilkin offers some very sound wisdom. Worth the read. The emphasis in the first paragraph is mine...

    By Jen Wilken, http://jenwilkin.blogspot.com/

    My oldest son started high school this fall. At his orientation the counselors took a portion of the program to speak to parents about the greatest challenge they see students face in school. I expected to hear about poor study habits or substance abuse, but to my initial surprise, these were not at the top of the list. Apparently, the greatest challenge presenting itself in the office of the high school guidance counselor is a growing number of kids struggling with anxiety and depression. Can you guess why? A combination of over-scheduling and sleep deprivation, linked to two main contributors: electronics use and extracurricular activities. We were encouraged as parents to go home and talk to our teenagers about setting boundaries in both these areas. Parents across the auditorium scribbled notes furiously as the counselors outlined some suggestions: limit texting, monitor bedtimes, cut back on team practices. I couldn’t help but think to myself: tonight there will be many demonstrations of teenage angst when mom shows up with her new list of suggestions.

    "I'M SORRY" -- Oh Really!

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  • I had the privilege of doing a wedding last week and the heart of my instruction to the bride and the groom was the power of the gospel and how it applies to forgiveness that must be a daily pattern in marriage. I have personally experienced and seen it in all marriages that our daily marriage health is tied up in our understanding of confession, repentance and forgiveness continuously.

    A great resource on understanding these concepts not only in marriage but in all relatioships is Ken Sande’s book, “Peacemaker.” There are a variety of resources that the Peacemaker Ministry provides that are centered upon the Scriptures and the gospel.

    One area that I fight myself with and see all too often in other marriage is the weakness of apology and how often it says nothing. Ken Sande writes:

    As God opens your eyes to see how you have sinned against others, he simultaneously offers you a way to find freedom from your past wrongs. It is called confession. Many people have never experienced this freedom because they have never learned how to confess their wrongs honestly and unconditionally. Instead, they use words like these: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I suppose I could have done a better job.” “I guess it’s not all your fault.” These token statements rarely trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs. One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s.

    J C Ryle: IT IS UP TO US TO TRAIN OUR CHILDREN

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  • “We heavily depend on those who bring us up. We get from them a taste and a bias which clings to us most of the days of our lives. We learn the language of our mothers and fathers, and learn to speak it almost without thinking, and unquestionably we catch something of their manners, ways, and mind at the same time. Time will tell, how much we all owe to early impressions, and how many things in us may be traced back to the seeds sown in the days of our infancy, by those who were around us."

    “And all this is one of God’s merciful arrangements. He gives your children a mind that will receive impressions like moist clay. He gives them a disposition at the starting-point of life to believe what you tell them, and to take for granted what you advise them, and to trust your word rather than a stranger’s. He gives you, in short, a golden opportunity of doing them good. See that you do not neglect such an opportunity. Once you let it slip, it is gone forever."

    “I know that you cannot convert your child. I know that they who are born again are born, not of the will of man, but of God. But I also know that God specifically says, “Train a child in the way he should go,” and that He never gave a command to men and women which He would not give them the grace to perform. And I also know that our duty is not to stand still and dispute the command, but to go forward and obey it. It is only when we move out in obedience that God will meet us. The path of obedience is the way in which He gives the blessing. We only have to do as the servants were commanded at the marriage feast in Cana, to fill the water-pots with water, and we may safely leave it to the Lord to turn that water into wine.”
    ~ J.C. Ryle: The Duties of Parents

    HOW BIG IS YOUR UNIVERSE?

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  • Wednesday, October 20, 2010
  • I have discovered in my old age that in my sinful, self-centeredness, I often think the universe ought to revolve around me. I may have seen it in a few others too.. I remember reading that when Teddy Roosevelt thought he was someone really important, he would look to the heavens and be reminded how vast the universe was and how small he really is.

    Take a few minutes to watch this video (ignore the mention of the big bang) that measures out the universe as we know it at this point in time in terms of vastness and then remember how big you really are and that God has marked off the heavens by the span of His hand (Isaiah 40:12)

    J C RYLE AND PARENTING

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  • One of my favorite writers is J.C. Ryle. His book, “Holiness” written in 1877 was one of the most nourishing books to my heart I have ever read. Known as a great theologian, bishop, preacher and man, many folks may forget that John Charles Ryle was also a parent to five children.

    J.C. Ryle suffered much heartache in his life. Most heartbreaking was the fact that he was widowed three times. Here is a brief snapshot of Ryle’s marriage and family life as described by William P. Farley:

    “Ryle suffered through the poor health of his first two wives. At age 29, he married Matilda Plumptre. After a few years, she died leaving him a baby daughter to care for. Then, death took his mother, older brother, and younger sister. He felt like Job undergoing God’s trials."

    “At age 33, he married longtime friend, Jessie Walker, and once again, joy and happiness filled his rural cottage. After 6 months of marriage, Jessie developed a lingering sickness from which she never recovered. Ryle nursed her for 10 years while managing their growing family (Jessie gave birth to four children). In addition to this stress, he managed his pastoral responsibilities."

    THE MYSTERY OF MARRIAGE

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  • Thursday, October 14, 2010

  • Southern Seminary’s Jim Hamilton has posted online his excellent essay, The Mystery of Marriage, from For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper.

    Here is the opening paragraph, which provides a preview of the essay:

    Marriage holds a unique place in all the Bible: what else joins two image-bearers together as one, serves as a key concept for understanding the relationship between Yahweh and Israel then Christ and the church, and consequently affords to every married couple the opportunity to live out the gospel? God sets himself on display in marriage, which means that God shows his glory in marriage. Thus, the thesis of this essay is that marriage exists as a unique display of God’s glory.

    In order to establish and exposit this thesis we will look first at the way that marriage joins two persons in the likeness of God as one.

    From there the second section explores the way that Yahweh’s relationship to Israel is treated as a marriage, and the third section of this essay will examine the way that marriage exists to portray the relationship between Christ and the church.

    The final section will look at marriages as mini-dramas of the gospel.


    This is a rich biblical-theological reflection, well worth reading. You can read the entire chapter at this site: http://jimhamilton.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/fameofgodsnamechap13.pdf or better yet, purchase the book, For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper.

    BACK ON-STATION

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  • Thanks to all of you who told me that you had been praying that I would find refreshment and restoration during my vacation time. God met Deb and I in very special ways and we made a good dent in the work around the farm. It is never done but progress was made. I did not get out to fish but I am still itching to with the good weather. Deb and I did cover alot of miles keeping a horse between us and the ground and enjoyed the changing colors of the countryside. Thanks again for your care to pray.

    GOING ON VACATION

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  • Friday, September 10, 2010

  • Just letting you know that there will probably be no postings for the next few weeks and that I am not planning on abandoning the webpage. Will be taking a few weeks away from the ministry work and do some Eastern Nebraska ranching. Deb and I still have lots of clean-up to do from last winter and need to set things up for this winter. Pasture fences to fix, trees to cut and clear, and wood to chop for firewood. We will spend considerable time on the horses and take advantage of the mornings for extended devotions. See you back in October ranch-hardened.
    P.S. I am also plannning on fishing on our farm pond and I will post lunker pictures as I catch them. :)

    Recommendations for Children's Bibles

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  • Friday, September 3, 2010
  • This is a repeat of an earlier post but the question for buying Bibles for children has come up again with the Christmas season and here are my top 3 recommendations:
    1. For young children: The Big Picture Story Bible
    Here is what the publisher says: "No child is too young to begin learning about the greatest love story of all God's love for his people, as portrayed in the Bible. David R. Helm and Gail Schoonmaker collaborate to create a beautifully illustrated book of Bible stories especially for children, written with simplicity. Rather than simply retelling the most familiar short scenes from the Bible, this book presents the "big picture", the unified story running through the Old and New Testaments. This delightful book will help children learn the Bible's whole story and begin to appreciate the fulfillment of God's promise to his people. The Big Picture Bible Story Book is perfect for parents to read to their children, and eventually, for children to read on their own. It is an excellent way to introduce them to a book that will guide them through all of life."


    2. For preschool through early elementary: The Jesus Storybook Bible, Every Story Whispers His Name.Here is what the publisher says: "Containing forty-six Bible stories from creation to Revelation with beautiful, rich, and vibrant artwork, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures and discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God's great story of salvation - and at the center of their story, too."




    3. For the reader and a full text Bible, I recommend the Children's ESV Bible (even though Pastor Tom teaches from the NASB). It reads easier and has over 200 illustrations that are well done.

    The Puritan Marriage Prayer

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  • Wednesday, September 1, 2010
  • Last weekend I had the privilege of taking Jonathan and Juanita Trexel through a recommitment of their marriage vows as they celebrated their 27th anniversary. I closed the ceremony with what is known as the traditional Puritan Marriage Prayer which seemed to touch many who were in attendance. Here is the prayer as I stated it for Jonathan and Juanita, for you to be blessed by as well:

    Oh, God of love, you have established the marriage of Jonathan and Juanita for the sake of your glory and the gospel. Yours was the plan and only with You can they work it out with joy. You have said it is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helpmate for him. Their joys are doubled since the happiness of one is the happiness of the other. Their burdens halved as they have shared them.

    Dear Father, we would ask that you would bless Jonathan. Bless him as a provider of nourishment and raiment and sustain him in all the expectations and pressures of his battle for bread. May his strength be Juanita’s protection, his character be her boast and her pride and may he continue to live that she finds in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs.

    And dear Heavenly Father, we would ask that you bless Juanita. Continue to give her tenderness that will make her great, a deep sense of understanding and a great faith in You. Give her inner beauty of soul that never fades. That eternal youth that is found in holding fast the things that never age.

    Give both of them a continued great spiritual purpose in life as they seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Loving You best they shall love each other the more and faithful unto each other they will be. May they not expect that perfection of each other that belongs to You alone. May they minimize each other’s weaknesses, be swift to praise and magnify each other’s points of comeliness and strength and see each other through a lover’s kind and patient eyes.

    Now make such assignments to them on the scroll of Your will as You bless them and develop their character as they walk together. Give them a little something to forgive every day that they may grow in the grace of longsuffering. Give them enough tears to keep them tender, enough hurts to keep them human, enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours and enough success to make them sure they walk with You. May they never take each other’s love for granted but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims “out of this world, You have chosen me.”

    When life is done and the sun is setting, may they be found then as now, hand in hand thanking You for each other. May they serve You happily, faithfully together until at last one shall lay the other into the arms of Jesus.

    This we ask through Jesus Christ, the great Lover of our souls. Amen

    The Gospel and Your 8-Year-Old - It Matters!

  • Thursday, August 26, 2010
  • by Jay Younts, Shepherd Press

    Your eight-year-old hears things. Your son hears wild stories. Your daughter sees the constant allure of commercials. He hears the taunts of the schoolyard. She feels an inner dread growing out of her many fears. How do you help your eight-year-old child with such difficult issues? What is needed most is the news of the gospel; specifically, the good news of the grace of God.

    The word gospel means "good news." Matthew speaks of the Jesus proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. That is, the good news of the kingdom where Jesus is King. This good news means that people can be rescued from darkness. Your eight-year-old already knows something of this darkness. He knows the darkness personally from the fears and brokenness caused by his own sin. He also knows of the darkness from the ugliness of the world around him. Perhaps he has experienced the death of someone close to him. Or perhaps she has heard the cruel taunts of other children. He may have experienced the vicious devastation of a "natural" disaster or the ravages of war. Whatever the source, he has seen and experienced the attacks of the kingdom of darkness. He was born a slave to this darkness. The good news is that Jesus is able to rescue him from darkness. The gospel matters.

    The Gospel: Simple Yet Profound

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  • Wednesday, August 25, 2010
  • This simple song along with the animation would make a great family discussion. Show it to your kids and talk about it after you carefully digest the message yourself.

    The Bible Is Not About You

  • Tuesday, August 24, 2010
  • Pastor Tim Keller makes this point clear that the Bible is not about you but is about Jesus Christ. To read verses contrary to this is to miss the point. Caution about this video: It may change the way you read your Bible in less than 4 minutes.

    The Gospel & Your Toddler - It Matters!

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  • Wednesday, August 18, 2010
  • By Jay Younts, Shepherd Press
    The Gospel Matters For Your Toddler

    For most, the statement that the gospel matters for toddlers lacks a sense of immediacy. This seems more suitable for older children and adults. However, this perspective reveals a common underlying problem. The problem is that information transfer is seen as the primary method of bringing people to Christ. In other words, you tell someone about Christ and hope they will respond. The person to whom you are speaking is the one who holds the cards. Your role is ultimately passive.

    Biblically, the spread of the gospel is more appropriately tied to the imagery of search and rescue in a time of war. The setting is not one of communication of information in a time of peace. In Matthew 28 Jesus says that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. Then, he instructs his followers to make disciples of all the nations. Christ does not say to give information about the gospel, he simply says to make disciples. In the first chapter of Colossians Paul says that we have been rescued from the domain of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light. This passage describes rescuing people from imminent danger. These two passages call to mind the classic warfare waged between light and darkness. This is how we should consider Christ's command to bring the gospel to all nations. The Scriptures do not paint a picture of asking someone's permission to tell them about Jesus Christ. Rather, the picture is of someone committed to a mission of searching for and rescuing the lost. This mission defines life itself for those who undertake it.

    A Profile in Courage .. Not!

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  • Friday, August 13, 2010
  • Sorry if you follow this page that I have not posted anything for a few weeks. I will try and pick it up again.

    When I saw this video I screamed at this guy! All kinds of essays came to my mind but I will allow our brother Erik Raymond of Omaha Bible Church in Bellevue speak as he does a much better job than I would have.



    Guys ... Don't shy away from the foul balls headed at your family!

    Erik writes:

    A line drive is hit at a Major League baseball game right at a guy and his girlfriend. The guy bails and the girl takes it off the arm. Then the sideline reporter comes down and gives it to him.

    At the risk of over spiritualizing this, I just want to note that this is a great cultural snapshot of something that is lost in the fall. Instead of standing in there and protecting his girlfriend (like he said he would) he is overly concerned with himself and he cowardly bails on her. As men we do this when we fall down on the job of leading and loving our wife through gospel service. To not lead is to retreat into a shell of a man.

    So yes this guy breaks all sorts of conventional man laws, none can argue this. But, even more he reminds us of the ugliness of being a cowardly guy and the priority of manning up in all areas of life, not just in catching foul balls. Only the gospel can bring true, enduring change to men.

    Dancing in the Minefields

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  • Wednesday, July 14, 2010
  • Here is a song by my favorite Christian artist, Andrew Peterson, from his about to be released album "Counting Stars." This song, "Dancing in the Minefields" is of the joys and the trials of marriage. Enjoy and I look forward to the album release in a couple of weeks.

    Video Games, Idols, and Your Child's Heart

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  • Wednesday, July 7, 2010
  • The following is from Sovereign Grace Ministries and is an interview with C.J. Mahaney.

    Video games are one of the most influential and time consuming recreational activities in our society today. On average gamers spend 18 hours per week playing video games. This extensive time investment is reflected in the money invested in video game consoles and software. In 2009, $19.7 billion was spent on video games worldwide, $2.6 billion more than was spent on movies in both box office ticket sales and DVD sales combined.* Many parents are surprised to discover that video games generate more profit than Hollywood.

    What this all means is that few children escape the influence of video games, and the temptation to idolatry.

    It's The Dad Life

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  • Wednesday, June 30, 2010
  • Here is one for the dads... Enjoy!


    Dad Life from Church on the Move on Vimeo.

    Kids Catching on in the Gospel-Centered Home

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  • Thursday, June 17, 2010

  • Bill and Brita (my son-in-law and daughter) have a young dog that at this time likes to run away. It usually comes back or they find it on the golf course close to their home. Last week after one of the storms, Liberty did not return. They prayed before going to bed that Liberty would come back sometime in the night but the boys woke up to discover that was not the case. They continued to pray that Liberty was safe and would return home.

    Later in the day, Brita called the Capital Humane Society just in case Liberty was picked up. At first they replied that there was no dog there by the description and then corrected themselves and said a dog had been brought in by the County Sheriff meeting that description. Going over to pick up the dog, Brita explained to the boys that they would now have to pay for Liberty to get her back. Here is where teaching the gospel kicked in.

    A discussion among the boys broke out that this kind of sounded like redemption. That Liberty had run away and in her folly became a prisoner to her sin and if they do not pay for her to be released, Liberty may end up being put to death. However, even though she does not deserve it, they will pay for her release and lovingly bring her home, rescuing her.

    The boys caught the connection when they stated that it all sounds like what Christ did for us for our sin and identified it as redemption. Thanks Bill and Brit … your father is unashamedly proud.

    What is the Gospel?

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  • Monday, June 14, 2010
  • Clearly presented in this clip. Simple yet so profound.


    What is the Gospel? from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

    Successful Parenting

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  • Thursday, June 10, 2010
  • By Ed Welch, CCEF

    Everyone who has children thinks about the question: How can I be an effective or even successful parent? I have yet to meet a parent who simply wanted to pass children off into the next stage of life with basic physical health in tact but nothing more. (Reminds me of the time I babysat a friend’s goldfish while he was on vacation–simple survival—that was my only goal.)

    We want our children to thrive, and we want to contribute whatever we can to make that happen.

    Parenting, of course, is not a precise recipe. Follow the steps and . . . voila, out pops a fear-of-the-Lord, covenant-keeping, wise young adult. Such parenting would actually oppose the way God does things. All we would have to do is trust in our steps and everything goes fine. Instead, the (much better) system we have received is one where we parent by faith. We trust in Christ every step of the way. We pray tons and love the best we can. Yet, there are some basic directions available to us.

    SELECT PRINCIPLES ON BEING A BIBLICALLY FAITHFUL MAN AND HUSBAND

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  • Tuesday, June 8, 2010
  • These are some notes from a talk that Dr.Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, Southern Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky gave at a recent seminar. Dr. Ware is one of my favorite theologians and teachers. He also is a proven husband and father. These notes are worth a read and prayerful consideration:


    1. Love. 1) Loving God increasingly w/ all my heart, soul, mind and strength; loving Christ and the cross; loving the gospel — these are the foundation for all else. Drawing from God all I need to be the man and husband God has called me to be is my strength and hope. 2) Loving my wife as Christ loves the Church — this is the umbrella principle for marriage; everything else flows from this responsibility and privilege (Eph 5:25ff).
    2. Leadership. Biblical manhood involves cultivating, embracing, and exercising leadership initiative, especially spiritual leadership initiative. This is a principle that applies to young men and adult single men just as well as to married men. Cultivate, embrace, and exercise spiritual leadership initiative. In marriage, my love for my wife involves and requires that I exert leadership in our relationship. My headship of my wife means I’m responsible for her spiritual growth and well-being. And as a father, I’m responsible in ways that my wife is not for the spiritual development of our children (Eph 6:1-4). And again, to do this, I must be seeking God and growing personally. Only out of the storehouse of my own soul’s growth in God can I assist my wife to grow spiritually.
    3. Example. Lead by example as much as by admonition and instruction. Set the example in: consistent times in the Word and prayer; in sacrificial service for your wife, children, church family members, and community needs; in giving faithfully, generously, and regularly of your finances; in humble admission of wrong-doing along with confession, asking forgiveness, and repentance. Fight pride, fight defensiveness, fight carnality before others.
    4. Authority. All three points above imply and invoke the concept of male-headship. Yes, God has given special authority to husbands and fathers. Learn, though, the correct expression of healthy, constructive, upbuilding, God-honoring, Christ-following authority. Resist and reject the sinful extremes of 1) harshness, bossiness, mean-spirited authoritarianism, and of 2) laziness, apathy, lethargy, negligence, and abdication of authority to the women in our lives. Learn to blend firmness with gentleness, truth with grace, a firm hand with a warm smile.
    5. Acceptance. Each of us is unique as God has made us. We should accept others’ differences w/o thinking ourselves to be either superior or inferior to others. In marriage, my wife is unique, and so in many ways, she is not like me. I need to accept who she is, prayerfully and sensitively seeking to assist her in changing what is sinful and needs to be changed, and accepting what is “just different.”
    6. Listening. One of my wife’s biggest and most real needs is my attentive and respectful listening ear. She loves to share her experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings, concerns, hurts, joys, etc. I can minister to my wife more than one might think by offering her caring, responsive, and respectful listening and interaction. Learn to listen sympathetically w/o rushing to “fix it” solutions. Connect first heart to heart, then later heart to head. Establish regular times of mutual sharing (yes, mutual), keep short accounts, and act on what you hear and learn.
    7. Understanding. I need to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7), to learn her needs, her sensitivities. I should seek to know the desires and felt needs of my wife and, when appropriate and possible, fulfill these. I need to discover her “language of love” and make every effort to love her in ways she feels loved.
    8. Work. A man’s main sense of identity, responsibility, and purpose is found in his work. Wives want to take pride in their husbands, and taking pride in their work is an important part of this. Women are not meant to bear the financial weight of a marriage or family, so husbands must work hard and responsibly. As important as work is to a man’s identity and fulfillment, we must not allow work to overshadow our commitment to and time with our wives first, and also to our children. Work hard, work well, work to the honor of Christ, and then put work to rest.
    9. Sexuality. My wife is my only legitimate sexual experience, and I am hers. So, learning to love sexually with increasing skill and pleasure is vitally important to the satisfaction and intimacy of our marriage. See human sexuality for what it is — the good gift of God to be experienced in marriage, as God has designed.
    10. Home. She cares much about our home. The “honey-do” list is far more important to her than she is likely to let on. In love for her, I must pay attention to her requests and treat them as important. But more important even than this is cultivating the “culture” and “ethos” of our home. Develop an atmosphere of appreciation, respect, kindness, service, holiness, happiness, gratefulness, contentment, forgiveness — all as expressions of our love for God and one another.

    A FOCUS ON MEN-FATHERS-HUSBANDS THIS MONTH

  • Wednesday, June 2, 2010
  • This month I will focus my postings for the men. I know that probably not many look at this site so if you are a wife and see something that might be good for your husband to see, go ahead and try to get him to give it a look. To prime the pump he will probably enjoy this video by the 835 Crew (and the girls ought to be able to laugh at themselves with this as well) :)

    ONE MORE MAY TRIBUTE TO MOMS

  • Monday, May 24, 2010
  • Even though every day is one to give tribute to moms, here is one more before we turn to June and look to hilight dads.

    STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT PARENTING AND PORNOGRAPHY

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  • Thursday, May 20, 2010
  • Randy Alcorn in this brief video hits the nail on the head on the issue of pornography. Do not be naive about it. The issue of pornography in the home comes across my desk by a family in the church several times a month. It is a point issue
    for me this upcoming year to address with men and their leading their homes.

    Would you buy your son a stack of pornographic magazines? from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

    A GREAT REMINDER OF THE BATTLE AND WHO WINS

  • Tuesday, May 18, 2010

  • Read this quote this morning from Charles Spurgeon's sermon, "The Upper Hand."

    Sin cannot get confirmed dominion over the child of God, because God hath promised that it shall not. “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” Oh! how I live these “shalls!” There seems something grand in them. “Sin shall not.” Ah! Satan may come with temptation, but when God says, “Sin shall not have dominion,” it is as when the sea comes up in the fullness of its strength, and the Almighty saith - “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther; here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”


    If there were no other promise in the Bible but this one, and I knew no more theology than that promise teaches me, I would be most happy. “Sin shall not have dominion.” O my God, if thou sayest it shall not, then I know it shall not. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he promised it, and shall it not stand good? If you trust in Jesus Christ, before sin can ever fully rule over you, God’s promise must be broken, and, beloved, that shall never be.

    THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING IN YOUR MARRIAGE

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  • Wednesday, May 12, 2010
  • I posted this video once before in the short version. Here is the extended version and this might just save your marriage so it is worth the ten minutes:

    BECAUSE I AM THE MOM

  • Saturday, May 8, 2010
  • Happy Mother's Day

    Pilgrim: A Musical Production of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

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  • Thursday, May 6, 2010
  • I want to share with you a production that appears to be a "must-have" to your home video collection. I know there will be a copy at the Lockyer house for grandkids time with Grandpa and then lots of discussion. Here is a review of the production by Tony Reinke and a short promotional video.

    I doubt any product has more potential for introducing the themes of Bunyan's classic to a new generation of Christians quite like the new DVD of the musical simply titled Pilgrim. The Pilgrim DVD is a recording of a performance at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. The high school students from the church performed all the acting and their work is exceptional.

    But the real brilliance of Pilgrim is the theology of the script. One of my favorite scenes is between Goodwill, played by an energetic Irish woman, and Christian. Christian has not yet been to the cross. Watch how the theology unfolds:

    Christian: I'm a mess. I need get myself cleaned up before I get there [to the cross].

    Goodwill: You can't. Oh, lots of pilgrims put off going to the cross so they can clean themselves up first, but you can't do that on your own. The King is the only one who can make you clean. He loves you, despite your dirt.

    Christian: I guess it's good to know He loves me ...(shrugs) ... makes me feel better about myself.

    Goodwill: Oh, laddie! He doesn't love ye to make you feel better about yerself. He loves ye because that's WHO HE IS. He died for ye to purchase ye back from the Prince of Destruction. He plans ta do a work in ye, Pilgrim, ta conform ye to His lovin' image. And He wants to make sure ye git home safely.

    Christian: Home?! NO! I want to go to the Celestial City.

    Goodwill: Once you git to the cross, the Celestial City becomes yer new home.

    Christian
    : Oh, right. That's why I'm here. That's why I made my decision.

    Goodwill
    : Your decision.

    Christian
    : Yeah, you know, to come down this road. I'm glad I'm finally doing it.

    Goodwill: (chuckling) Ah, lad, ye think yer desire to walk this road began with you? No, Laddie. It began with the King. He put that desire in ye. He started it! On yer own, ye wouldn't have come this way. And I'll tell ye somethin' more. It's a blessed promise from that book [the Bible]. Since this wasn't your idea but His, the same One who started His good work in ye will carry it through. Right to the finish.

    The Pilgrim DVD is just under two hours in length and currently sells online for $18.00. I make no hesitation in saying this is a must-have addition to your family library. We recently enjoyed the presentation for our family movie night, and we used the theology of the film as a means of further discussion on the various spiritual themes. The allegory is brought forth in striking imagery and acting and singing. And while it is a serious and sobering production--how could an allegory about the Christian life not be serious and sobering?--there is some delightful humor at times, too.

    Taken together I would say Pilgrim is an epic achievement in the long Bunyan legacy.

    You can purchase Pilgrim at http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=O9250-00-41. And here's brief trailer for the DVD:

    Charles Spurgeon and His Mom: A Tribute To All Faithful Moms

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  • Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother; neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring. A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of "mother" is creation's blot. Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother. Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent; others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me. How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, "Oh, that my son might live before Thee!" Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,-that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities; and her smiles have never faded from my recollection,-the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good thing in me towards the Lord God of Israel.

    Well do I remember hearing my father speak of an incident that greatly impressed him. He used to be frequently away from home preaching, and at one time, as he was on his way to a service, he feared that he was neglecting his own family while caring for the souls of others. He therefore turned back, and went to his home. On arriving there, he was surprised to find no one in the lower rooms of the house; but, on ascending the stairs, he heard a sound as of someone engaged in prayer. On listening at the bedroom door, he discovered that it was my mother, pleading most earnestly for the salvation of all her children, and specially praying for Charles, her first-born and strong-willed son. My father felt that he might safely go about his Master's business while his dear wife was caring so well for the spiritual interests of the boys and girls at home, so he did not disturb her, but proceeded at once to fulfil his preaching engagement.

    SOMETHING ELSE TO THINK ABOUT: What if Satan really took over?

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  • Tuesday, May 4, 2010
  • One of my favorite books that I read last year was "Christless Christianity, The Alternate Gospel of the American Church" by Michael Horton. In his book he states:
    What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached.

    THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING OF THE GLORY OF GOD

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  • Thursday, April 29, 2010
  • The pictures that came from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano were spectacular and at the same time clear reminders of how the creation points us to the awesome glory of God. These two reminded me of Acts 2: 19, 20: “And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.”

    WHAT IF GOD WOULD GET UP AND LEAVE YOUR HOME?

  • Monday, April 26, 2010
  • I have been reading through the book, "Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus" by D.A. Carson. In his chapter titled "The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb," Dr Carson gives the challenges that face the American church. I thought while reading them that they are the same challenges that not only the "household of God" faces but also our own households. Some of these are:
    -The problems of prosperity (potential for pride, self-sufficiency)
    -The rapid pace of life that squeezes what is important to the periphery
    -The urgent replacing the important
    -The digital replacing the personal
    -Mass media affecting our thinking leaving us entertained, titillated or even bored
    -The impact of Madison Avenue establishing our self-identity in many things that have no eternal significance
    -The pressure that allows us to be "religious" provided it does not really matter or is private

    Do you like me, often find that we blame what ails our family on sociological, historical, political, economic, psychological, or medical causes? Though we should not ignore these categories, the problem is that they lead us to look for solutions in the same places. Isn't there a cosmic tension going on between God and the Devil?

    So this leads me to the question I asked myself for my home. What if God got up and walked out of my house? Would I notice? Would I miss Him or do I have all the solutions figured out through the categories above?

    Reading the Book of Revelation reminds me that there is an underlying cause for the hostility and suffering that falls upon the church and the home. The Devil would like me to forget that.

    D.A. Carson writes this prayer that perhaps we need to take to heart:
    Forbid, Lord God, that we should rest so comfortably in our easy and restless society, that we forget that one of the driving dimensions of Christian experience is warfare - not against flesh and blood but against all the hosts of darkness who are filled with rage against us. Help us, Lord God, to see the enemy and then to deploy the gospel answers, the gospel arms, the gospel solutions, which alone are sufficient in this conflict. So return us to the cross, to faithful, glorious, grateful proclamation of the gospel, to self-death that we may follow the Lord Jesus, who died and rose on our behalf. AMEN AND AMEN.

    Select Principles on Being a Biblically Faithful Man and Husband by Dr. Bruce Ware

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  • Tuesday, April 20, 2010
  • 1. Love. 1) Loving God increasingly w/ all my heart, soul, mind and strength; loving Christ and the cross; loving the gospel — these are the foundation for all else. Drawing from God all I need to be the man and husband God has called me to be is my strength and hope. 2) Loving my wife as Christ loves the Church — this is the umbrella principle for marriage; everything else flows from this responsibility and privilege (Eph 5:25ff).

    2. Leadership. Biblical manhood involves cultivating, embracing, and exercising leadership initiative, especially spiritual leadership initiative. This is a principle that applies to young men and adult single men just as well as to married men. Cultivate, embrace, and exercise spiritual leadership initiative. In marriage, my love for my wife involves and requires that I exert leadership in our relationship. My headship of my wife means I’m responsible for her spiritual growth and well-being. And as a father, I’m responsible in ways that my wife is not for the spiritual development of our children (Eph 6:1-4). And again, to do this, I must be seeking God and growing personally. Only out of the storehouse of my own soul’s growth in God can I assist my wife to grow spiritually.

    3. Example. Lead by example as much as by admonition and instruction. Set the example in: consistent times in the Word and prayer; in sacrificial service for your wife, children, church family members, and community needs; in giving faithfully, generously, and regularly of your finances; in humble admission of wrong-doing along with confession, asking forgiveness, and repentance. Fight pride, fight defensiveness, fight carnality before others.

    4. Authority. All three points above imply and invoke the concept of male-headship. Yes, God has given special authority to husbands and fathers. Learn, though, the correct expression of healthy, constructive, upbuilding, God-honoring, Christ-following authority. Resist and reject the sinful extremes of 1) harshness, bossiness, mean-spirited authoritarianism, and of 2) laziness, apathy, lethargy, negligence, and abdication of authority to the women in our lives. Learn to blend firmness with gentleness, truth with grace, a firm hand with a warm smile.

    5. Acceptance. Each of us is unique as God has made us. We should accept others’ differences w/o thinking ourselves to be either superior or inferior to others. In marriage, my wife is unique, and so in many ways, she is not like me. I need to accept who she is, prayerfully and sensitively seeking to assist her in changing what is sinful and needs to be changed, and accepting what is “just different.”

    6. Listening. One of my wife’s biggest and most real needs is my attentive and respectful listening ear. She loves to share her experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings, concerns, hurts, joys, etc. I can minister to my wife more than one might think by offering her caring, responsive, and respectful listening and interaction. Learn to listen sympathetically w/o rushing to “fix it” solutions. Connect first heart to heart, then later heart to head. Establish regular times of mutual sharing (yes, mutual), keep short accounts, and act on what you hear and learn.

    7. Understanding. I need to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7), to learn her needs, her sensitivities. I should seek to know the desires and felt needs of my wife and, when appropriate and possible, fulfill these. I need to discover her “language of love” and make every effort to love her in ways she feels loved.

    8. Work. A man’s main sense of identity, responsibility, and purpose is found in his work. Wives want to take pride in their husbands, and taking pride in their work is an important part of this. Women are not meant to bear the financial weight of a marriage or family, so husbands must work hard and responsibly. As important as work is to a man’s identity and fulfillment, we must not allow work to overshadow our commitment to and time with our wives first, and also to our children. Work hard, work well, work to the honor of Christ, and then put work to rest.

    9. Sexuality. My wife is my only legitimate sexual experience, and I am hers. So, learning to love sexually with increasing skill and pleasure is vitally important to the satisfaction and intimacy of our marriage. See human sexuality for what it is — the good gift of God to be experienced in marriage, as God has designed.

    10. Home. She cares much about our home. The “honey-do” list is far more important to her than she is likely to let on. In love for her, I must pay attention to her requests and treat them as important. But more important even than this is cultivating the “culture” and “ethos” of our home. Develop an atmosphere of appreciation, respect, kindness, service, holiness, happiness, gratefulness, contentment, forgiveness — all as expressions of our love for God and one another.

    MEN: HOW DO YOU SPIRITUALLY LEAD YOUR FAMILY?

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  • Thursday, April 15, 2010

  • I hope to run several postings on this and that some would be from those who read this blog. I will write about how I did and how I am now but to prime the pump, here is an article by Justin Hyde, pastor at Christ Church, Brenham, Texas.

    Many people ask me, "What do 'family devotions' look like at your house?" or, "How do you pastor your family?" or even more simply, "Do you pray or read the Bible with your wife and children?" Here is one attempt to answer those questions.

    1. Routine
    Our family works best with a routine. My wife and I, and our children, have a reasonably regular weekly schedule. Our "family devotions" fit into the larger rhythm and routines of our household (e.g. dinner, bedtime, etc.). Additionally, it is important to note that there are explicit and implicit aspects to our daily spiritual devotion. The bulk of the explicit aspects happen at night between when I get home from work and when I go to bed.

    2. Intentional Evenings
    I get home from work between 5:30PM and 5:45PM each night. But I have to prepare myself before 5:30PM so that I can hit the ground running when I walk in the door. Though I am invariably tired from my day's work, I have to remind myself that the most important part of my vocation happens after 5:30PM, not before. I am tempted to mentally "clock out" on my drive home, which would be easy. Yet I have to consciously prepare myself to give more energy, more attention, and more dedicated focus as soon as I walk through the door and am greeted by my 5 year old son, 3 year old daughter, newborn son, and wife than I have all day. This takes prayer, practice, and intentionality. It's easy to fail.

    Husbands/dads, don't clock-out on your way home; be ready to be present and engaged; don't let your kids or wife expect to hear your formulaic: "I'm tired;" turn your phone off (I recently read something like this: "If you touched your wife as much as you touch your iPhone your marriage would be in a much better spot."); cancel your cable TV; repent of your addiction to new projects, hobbies, and distractions.

    Wives, be gracious; be forgiving; learn and grow with your husband; make your home inviting and pleasing; manage the stress level (for you and the kids) before dad gets home (i.e. don't let the water boil all day so that it's boiling over the top right when dad's car pulls up).

    3. Time To Play
    We eat dinner at 6:00PM. So I walk in the door and devote myself to the kids for 20-30 minutes. Rarely do I take 5 steps into the house before having a 5 year old around my left leg and a 3 year old around my right leg (and now, often, a baby in my arms). Dads, your kids are ready to see you. Ready to punch you. Ready to kiss you. Ready to play. Ready to build. Ready to read. And of course your wife needs this from you too if she's making dinner or just needing a break after her long day. Husbands, remind yourself daily that your wife is likely more exhausted than you are by 5:30PM. Serve her well. This is also a good time to teach the kids about setting the table, helping to pick up the living room, honoring mom, serving a younger sibling, etc. But mainly this is a good time to play.

    4. Mealtime
    We always eat dinner together around the dinner table. My wife is hospitable, creative, thoughtful, carefree, and eager to worship through a shared meal. Our table is often decorated with candles, and sometimes flowers. We drink wine. We celebrate. We laugh. We joke. We make silly faces. We eat great food. We often, almost without fail, enjoy a dessert. We hold hands to pray. We take our time. Our children are watching and learning and savoring all of this.

    5. Cleanup
    After dinner we usually clean up (sometimes we wait until the kids are asleep). The children help with dishes, help put things away, help clean up. It doesn't take long and the payoff in relaxation and focus is often worth the price of clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. Yet regardless of whether we clean up now or later, our attention is devoted to the children from 5:30PM to 7:30PM. After dinner, we play. We read. We build towers. We go on adventures. We explore. We tickle.

    6. Bible Time
    At 7:15PM we all start winding down and I tell the kids: "15 more minutes of ____, and then it's 7:30PM." My kids know exactly what I mean. At 7:30PM it's Bible time. We all gather in the living room (if we're not there already); we get the Bible; and the kids pile on my lap. For the longest time we read the ESV Illustrated Family Bible. This Bible uses the actual ESV text but the stories are selective and the images are great and colorful.

    Recently, we began using The Early Readers Bible only because Jonas received it as a Christmas gift. This is a great Bible too, but it's not the actual ESV text, which I prefer. It's a Bible written for young readers. Our 5 year old can blast through this easily, and sometimes I'll let him read during our devotional time, though rarely. At this stage I think it's important for me to lead this time and shepherd them as I read aloud. The great thing about The Early Readers Bible is the questions after each section. Very helpful.

    Dads, it's important for you to call the family together. Don't force mom to keep looking at her watch, to always be waiting for you, to nag you to get started. Call the family together. Get the Bible. Know where/what you're reading. Lead your family. Wives, this may be new or unfamiliar for many dads. Go easy on him. Encourage him. Honor his leadership. Don't undermine. Don't criticize. Model respect and love for your children to see. And remember, the kids are watching.

    7. Questions & Answers
    After we read a section of Scripture I ask questions. I ask questions about the story, about the characters, about the doctrines or themes within the story, about applying the text to the real life of 5- and 3-year-olds. In addition to asking questions about the text itself, our children also memorize the Small Children's Catechism by Chris Schlect. I cannot overstate the importance of catechism in the home. Someone has said, "Preaching without catechism is like building a house without pouring a foundation." So true. Other helpful resources are The Big Book of Questions and Answers (Sinclair Ferguson), My 1st Book of Questions and Answers (Carine Mackenzie), and Big Truths for Young Hearts (Bruce Ware).

    8. Family Prayer
    Then we all pray. We take prayer requests (this is important because the kids need to see dad asking mom how he can pray for her). And each of us pray. Sometimes I ask the kids to pray for certain things. Sometimes I ask the older to pray for the younger. Sometimes they want to say the Lord's Prayer (which means you need to help them memorize it when they're two or three). Sometime it's random.

    Moms and dads, you need to guard this time so that the children don't grow to despise it. This needs to be an encouraging, graceful, loving, fun, sometimes silly, patient, and fruitful time. Be honest with one another. Teach your kids how to care, how to be sensitive to others' needs, how to articulate what they're feeling. Make disciples.

    9. Bedtime
    Now it's bedtime. Love those kids. Hug and kiss and tickle and snuggle like crazy.

    10. Explicit vs. Implicit
    Most of the above routine is explicit training and devotion. Yet each of those elements fit into the larger mosaic of what it means to be a part of our family. These explicit elements would only go so far (but not far enough) if not paired with the implicit aspects of the daily spiritual development that are more subtle and mundane.

    The implicit aspects are the constant opportunities to listen to your kids, to talk to them, to tell them about Jesus, to tell them about something you read in Scripture, something you've wondered about God, to connect the dots between dinner and worship, to live a life of celebration and sacrifice.

    The legitimacy of your "devotion time" is only as solid as the legitimacy of your devotional life. In other words, I reap the rich spiritual benefits at 7:30PM each night because I tilled the soil that morning, during the day, at dinner, and so on. Quality time doesn't replace quantity. In fact, you can only enjoy the quality because you've invested in the quantity. The implicit is the foundation that sustains the rest, only most people don't see the foundation so it's easy to ignore.

    Please know, I fail often. I need much grace. God has given me a forgiving wife and patient kids. Husbands/dads, this is the most important work you'll ever do, and it will have more impact than anything you could imagine. Wives/moms, encourage your man to lead; create conditions in which he can succeed. Couples, be patient and forgiving. Don't be short-sighted. Love well. And savor your time together.

    May God help us pastor our families well.