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The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide by Gary Thomas

The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide by Gary Thomas

Free Kindle book for a limited time. {Today 12/17/13 Kindles are $49}

In this companion resource to The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas helps dating and engaged couples work through the critical issues and questions they must address before they decide to marry. The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide features 9 sessions of biblical study for couples, as well as a pastor/counselor’s premarital plan for walking a couple through the guide.

The The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why? is available for $2.99 for a limited time.  I have read this book and it is one of the better books dealing with dating or courting relationships.  It does not go off into the extremes of patriarchy where the father picks the fellow for his daughter nor does it leave couples floundering around hoping that dating gets them the “perfect” marriage partner.

What if you stopped looking for a “soul mate” and started looking for a “sole mate”—someone who will live out with you the great purpose of God? What if dating isn’t about finding “the one” but making a wise choice so you can better serve the One who loves you most? What if God didn’t design relationships to make you happy but to make you holy?

In The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas will transform the way you look at romantic relationships. Whether you are single, dating, or engaged, Gary’s unique perspective on dating will prepare you for a satisfying, spiritually enriching marriage even before you walk down the aisle. As Gary reminds us, a good marriage is not something you find—it’s something you make.


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Obedient Children – John Piper

Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children

A Tragedy in the Making

I witnessed such a scenario in the making on a plane last week. I watched a mother preparing her son to be shot.

I was sitting behind her and her son, who may have been seven years old. He was playing on his digital tablet. The flight attendant announced that all electronic devices should be turned off for take off. He didn’t turn it off. The mother didn’t require it. As the flight attendant walked by, she said he needed to turn it off and kept moving. He didn’t do it. The mother didn’t require it.

One last time, the flight attendant stood over them and said that the boy would need to give the device to his mother. He turned it off. When the flight attendant took her seat, the boy turned his device back on, and kept it on through the take off. The mother did nothing. I thought to myself, she is training him to be shot by police.

… Continue reading Here.


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Extraordinarily Ordinary Christians

Funny how a topic just keeps popping up here and there.  Back in July, Tim Challies posted about Ordinary Christians and a Great Commission.  That was a topic of discussion with others with the post “Just” a Mom and The Great Commission.  The sum of some of the discussion is that just being Christian wives and mothers is ‘Radical’ today.  A similar topic actually came up again in our ladies’ Titus 2 Bible Study.  How does it look to share the gospel and witness to the those outside our family for a mom of little ones or a variety of ages at home?  Should that even be a focal point for us?  Then when you add in homeschooling that even increases the load at home.

Jesus spent the majority of His time with twelve disciples as He was going along. He even narrowed that group several times to four of what is commonly called the “inner circle”, consisting of Peter, Andrew, James and John.  It was very rare for Jesus to be separate from His disciples except when He went away to pray.  So surely there is nothing wrong with us as moms focusing on making disciples, our children, by making sure we are with them in the mundane things of life leading, guiding and teaching.  We might haul them with us when we go out to serve others but generally they should be our focus.

{The God of the Mundane by Matt B. Redmond, who is actually from Birmingham, Alabama, fits this whole discussion.}

Yesterday I read this post from Michael Horton Ordinary: The New Radical?  While it covers a similar topic as Challies post, it does point out some different ideas.

“Many Christians express astonishment when a fellow believer is content with an ordinary Christian life, with an ordinary church, among ordinary Christians, where God showers his extraordinary gifts through ordinary means of grace.”

“Facing each day with ordinary callings to ordinary people all around us is much more difficult than chasing dreams.”

“My target isn’t activism itself, but the marginalization of the ordinary as the richest site of both God’s activity and ours.  Our problem isn’t that we are too active. Rather, it is that we have been prone to successive sprints instead of the long-distance run.  There’s nothing wrong with energy.  The danger is that we’re burning out ourselves—and each other—on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations.  It’s an impatience with the familiar, sometimes slow, and mostly imperceptible aspects of life.

Think of the things that matter most to us.  They aren’t movements; they are institutions.  They require us to submit to a community, to be “tied down” in ways that clip our restless wings.  Yet in the process, the discipline brings wisdom and delight.”

These all remind me of the saying “You can die for your wife, but can you die to yourself day by day for her?”  What if you turned it around and asked “You can die for Christ, but can you die to yourself for Christ every day in your ordinary everyday life?”  Is Christ more glorified by our going out to the ends of the earth or by our serving Him in the mundane, ordinary things of life?  The world, even Christians, praise those who go to the ends of the earth to share the gospel but where is the praise for unclogging the toilets at church so a congregation can gather to worship the Lord?

Missionaries in Africa or China use books and Bibles produced and published by Christian printing houses.  They use commentaries written by theologians.  They use computer Bible programs designed by programmers.  They use paper produced in factories. Drive cars made by assembly line workers. We need those who labor to teach in seminaries and colleges.  We need those who focus on school so they can be our doctors and nurses.  Even in the local church we need those ordinary Christians.  The ones who repair the broken windows, clean the toilets and mop the floors.  The church and the missionaries need men who work hard 40 – 60 hours a week to support families and yet sacrifice to share hard earned money to support Kingdom work.  We even need bank tellers to help us transfer the money to where it is needed.

So how do believers mesh the idea of leading quiet lives at home with the push to be radical, missionaries to the world?

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (ESV)

9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,

11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,

12 so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

How does “to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands” in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 look?


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Guarding Your Heart

What does the saying “Guard your Heart” mean to you?

A lot of that may depend on your age.  When I was young (a long, long time ago), I don’t think I ever heard that expression.  But often today you will hear that phrase tossed around usually directed toward our youth and especially toward our young ladies. Most often in the ideology of “guarding your heart” during relationships in dating.

Where does that phrase originate?

Proverbs 4:23 has the expression “guard your heart“.  Now probably all of us have read that verse many times especially since Proverbs is a book of the Bible that is easy to read and is full of essentially sound bites of information.  Sound bites is about all of the Bible, or even any reading, many today do.  But unless you are younger, a part of homeschooling or a part of the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” generation you may not have thought much about that phrase beyond the level of any other verse.

What might surprise you is this verse is one of many verses in the Bible that are often taken out of context and given meaning beyond what was intended in the Bible and by the Lord.

Take some time reading Proverbs 4:23 and we’ll look closer at it later.  You might be surprised. 😉

~~~~~~~~

Guard Your Heart series

 


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Courtship is Like Potty Training …

First the disclaimers …

No, I don’t have anyone courting anyone.

No, I don’t have anyone interested in courting anyone.

No, I’m not trying to push my kids into courting.

No, I don’t have any experience with courting.

So yes this is all in theory.

Now hopefully that will limit the rumors. 😉

Had to get that out of the way for my kids sake.

 

Anyway back to the topic.  Spring has sprung around here and with it came some weddings and wedding showers plus a multitude of other things.  And kittens …  (Anyone want kittens?)  Thus we have had lots of opportunity to discuss the matter and watch how others have proceeded.  Some have been the typical public school and dating process while others have been the homeschooling and courting method.  Guess what? They are equally just as married when everything is said and done.  It is the process that is the interesting part and this has been part of our discussions.

 

Courting Is Like Potty Training

1)      Everyone has an opinion on how it should be done and many are eager to share their opinion.

2)      Sometimes everyone is ready except those who should be.

3)      May involve tears.

4)      May take lots of time or be rather quick.

5)      Many things sound great in theory but do not actually work in practice.

6)      There is no magic age.

7)      Patience is a virtue.

8)      Watch for cues of interest.

9)      Requires physical (fiscal) and emotional readiness.

10)   Although the parent maybe ready, the child may not be ready or maybe the child is ready and not the parent.  Sometimes everyone else but the parent and child are ready.

11)   May be messy.

12)   Pressure from others “Isn’t it about time … ?

13)   You can have read all the books but that doesn’t necessarily help in your particular case.

14)   Sometimes observing others makes things easier.

15)   In the end you often look back and think “Why was that a big deal, it wasn’t that bad?

 

But like I said everything is in theory until you’ve put it into practice. 😉


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You, Your Family and the Internet

You, Your Family and the Internet – free kindle book

How may Christians better understand the dangers and opportunities offered by the Internet? This book resource, written by an expert in the field, explains and illustrates what the technologies are and guides readers to draw on biblical principles (such as self-control and accountability) to help them to apply these to the dangers at hand. It also encourages believers to make the best use of opportunities that arise from judicious use of the World Wide Web.

Today some two billion people around the world use the Internet. Almost 80% of North Americans are connected to the web. But even as we use it, few of us understand the dizzying array of its applications and implications. David Clark guides us through the complexities of the Internet with simple, clear explanations. Even better, he unveils the spiritual implications of the Internet, both positive and negative. Pastors, parents, and teachers will greatly appreciate this book, as will the everyday Christian who, like me, is struggling to keep up with the ever-expanding universe of cyber-space, desiring to use it to God’s glory and the welfare of our families and Christ’s church.

Dr. Joel Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Much has been written about living as Christians in this digital world; much more will be written in the days and years to come. The unique strength of David Clark’s contribution is in his application of key biblical principles that will guide our use of these technologies and inform our dedication to them.

Tim Challies, Author and Blogger, Ontario, Canada

Limited time free kindle book.


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Kathleen Norris – Mother

Kathleen Norris – Mother 

“There’s something magnificent in a woman like your mother, who begins eight destinies instead of one … Responsibility, – that’s what other women say they are afraid of! But it seems to me there’s no responsibility like that of decreeing that young lives simply shall not be.  Why, what good is learning, or elegance of manner, or painfully acquired fineness of speech, and taste and point of view, if you are not going to distil it into growing plants, the only real hope we have in the world!”

 

Mother is an amazing book about a young lady who rejects the idea that a woman’s calling is in her home.  She leaves home to find fulfillment in a career and social life, but in the end, God brings her back and shows her what it really is to be a mother.

The review also includes a link to a free copy of the small book.

Review by Berean Daughter

Continue reading the review here.


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Trying to Turn Apples In To Oranges

Most of us as Christian parents understand that we need to help our children grow into fruit bearing believers. However, often parents aren’t content with the fruit a child does produce. Some parents want orange trees while another wants an apple tree, yet a third parent may work really hard to produce a kumquat. There is nothing wrong with any of the above fruit but the problem comes when you try to turn an apple tree into a kumquat.

How do parents do that?

A parent may value education and deem it to be very important. I’m talking the focus on education beyond the typically expected learning of reading, math and science, the upper levels of education. They work hard to teach their child everything they possibly need to succeed in educational endeavors. They may struggle financially paying for a special private school which should ensure their child’s advancement educationally. Education can be a fruit if the child becomes a believer. The child could grow to be a very sound seminary professor who writes a well referenced Systematic Theology Book, like Grudem or Hodge. The child could become a world renowned doctor who finds the cure to cancer. Education as a fruit all depends on the Christian walk of the individual. Otherwise that same well educated individual might write a book trying to refute the existence of Jesus or develop a test so that imperfect babies can be aborted at the time a women finds out she is pregnant.

There are lots of fruit and good works that we can encourage our children in developing. Depending on their walk with the Lord will determine if they produce bad fruit or good fruit. But what happens if their parent tries to change the fruit from one type to another? To me this verse references that idea.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

What is the way he should go?

There are some ways that all children should go. They should be taught how to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit until they have the Holy Spirit guiding them along. Thus all children should bear the fruits of peace, patience, kindness and love like it says in Galatians 5:22. But when it comes to other matters we need the guidance of the Lord and also we need to know our children. While education itself is not a bad thing, we are not training our child in the way he should go if specific educational pursuits aren’t what the Lord has planned for him. See the Lord has good works planned for our children.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God has your child’s good works prepared beforehand. We as parents are to strive to equip our children to do those good works not to choose what good works they should do.

Most everyone knows examples of how in the secular world parents seek to produce apples from kumquat trees even to the point of plucking off the baby kumquats and trying to graft apples to the tree. Such as the father who wants a football star son and is driving his son to achieve football greatness yet the son wants to develop his skill in photography. Or the mom who wants a poised ballerina for a daughter but the daughter loves working with animals. We, looking from our standpoint, can easily see the problems with these examples. Of course, we as Christians and even as homeschooling families would not do that. Or do we?

How many times do we see an older homeschooled child and think that is what I want my child to be like? I’m not talking character or respectfulness but the actual skills (the fruit or works). Maybe an older teen girl bakes wonderful cakes, breads and pies which not only blesses her family and friends but provides a steady source of income. Now there is nothing wrong with teaching our daughters to bake and cook. All daughters should have at least a basic grasp of cooking. But what happens if we push for our daughter to be another “Miss Baker” while her heart’s desire is to play the violin. Can music not be as valid and as good of a fruit as baking?

Maybe we’ve got a son who dreams of owning a large farm with homegrown cattle, chickens and vegetables. He loves to ride and work on tractors but struggles with sitting still for school. Now granted there is a reasonable amount of education that all children should receive. But does that mean the parents need to pressure that child into achieving high scores on the ACT and going to college when he would rather learn from “Mr. Farmer” down the road forgoing the expense of college.

I seem old lately. 🙁  Old when it comes to homeschooling, at least, partly because I’ve grown so much and homeschooling has become so much easier to me. See I’m not trying to produce peaches from my life when in reality I’m a cherry tree. Gone are the days when I’m searching for the perfect curriculum or the perfect parenting book. Gone are the days when I read about a family that homeschools feeling we have failed to do so much. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try new things or change things when something doesn’t work well. But I’m not driving myself to be what I am not.

Baking bread happens around here but it isn’t a daily thing. It is also isn’t something I feel I must do to be a good mom. We sew some, but I found that I can buy clothes from thrift stores cheaper and with less hassle than making all our clothes. I’ve learned to take good but slightly imperfect clothes and make them work by sewing slits closed, adding an insert to the top or layering items. We have animals, which works well for us but that doesn’t mean every good homeschool family must raise chickens and goats. We have a garden, but not enough to sell and raise money. One child plays piano and violin for the church. She also teaches lessons now. My oldest son is the one everyone comes to for computer questions and repairs. That is some of the fruit and good works we produce here. I’m striving not to force them into some preconceived mold of this is what a good Christian homeschool family produces.

How are you trying to force yourself into producing different fruits or good works than God has intended for you?

Do you find yourself pushing for your child to produce fruit not in keeping with the “way he should go” but just your preconcieved ideas of good works and fruit? Or even worse according to the ideas of another “expert” on homeschooling Christian children?


 

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Fruit Bearing Children

Evidence of a Christian life is the fruit we bear.  That isn’t an option but a given.  A Christian bears fruit.

Matt 3:8 (ESV) Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Everyone bears fruit, that isn’t the question.  But as believers we should bear fruit for life, for God, for righteousness and the fruit of light.

Rom 7:4-6 (ESV)

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

Phil 1:9-11 (ESV)

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Eph 5:7-12 (ESV)

7 Therefore do not associate with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Rom 6:20-23 (ESV)

20  When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

According to Galatians 5 there are some other fruits all Christians should bear.

Gal 5:22-23 (ESV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

No option is given. All Christians should bear the following fruits for God:

  • Righteousness
  • Light
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

Believe me, as a parent, teaching children to bear those fruits can be difficult and encompass all your time, partly because we as parents are still learning to bear the same fruits.

Sometimes the Lord blesses us with children who have fewer struggles bearing some of the fruit than others do.  There are babies who are born who naturally are more loving and more joyful while another child in the same family may struggle with being loving and joyful. That doesn’t mean that we as parents can allow that struggling child to get by with less because they display that sin nature more so than another.  We, and they, might have to work harder to produce fruit.  But the fruit will be more cherished when it comes because it required such hard work.

There may be a long time before a child bears fruit on their own.  Just as we don’t expect a real fruit tree to bear an abundance of fruit the first year we plant it.  However, there is a lot we as parents can do to help encourage our children to bear good and lasting fruit.  Just as we would water, fertilize and train a tree, we are doing similar for our children. Those trees that do not eventually bear good and lasting fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matt 3:10 (ESV) Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

While we as parents can only encourage, disciple and train our children to bear righteous fruit, it is the Holy Spirit who will enable our children to bear true Christian fruit.  Prayerfully at some point the Holy Spirit will come along side and convict and guide our children, taking over for us, as they strive to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness.  If your older child who claims to be a Christian is not showing fruit or at least showing buds of fruit you may need to question them and have them consider if they are truly a Christian.

 


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Children Are a Blessing

Children are a blessing, the Lord says so repeatedly.  If they aren’t a blessing to you than you are sinning and should repent.  Either you have spiritual issues such as selfishness and laziness or you have been disobedient and not trained your children.

What if you don’t like your children?

Do You Like Your Children?

As the new school year approaches, I’ve heard more and more “rejoicing” by mothers declaring “just X number of days and the kids will be out of the house”. And while I’m sure there are many, many moms who lament this ending of precious time with their children, there seems to be a disturbing number who do not. I have no doubt these moms LOVE their children; I just don’t think they enjoy them.

Add to that the lack of “generational vision” of raising up godly children, a mammoth-sized feminism force telling them they should pursue their own interests no matter what, no encouragement from older women to be keepers at home, and no cultivated taste for homemaking, and it’s no wonder so many women have fled to the corporate world!

Well, we ladies have a lot of work to do fulfilling our duty as the “older women”….but I find it downright heartbreaking that we have cultivated a whole generation of parents who don’t even enjoy their own children, to the degree they are glad for them to spend a large portion of the day somewhere else.  ….


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