Marriage & Family

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Posted 4/15/14 at 1:22 PM | Bill Blacquiere

If Jesus Loves the Little Children, Why Do So Many Suffer?

Sometimes the pain of seeing people suffer is almost too much too handle. Our families who adopt children from poverty-stricken developing countries like Ethiopia or Ghana tell us that, when they return to their homes, they are overwhelmed by what they have seen. They have difficulty sleeping and wrestle with feelings of guilt. They are so moved by what they have experienced that they don’t know what to do about it—they aren’t sure how to understand such human misery in light of their Christian faith.

According to best-selling author Philip Yancey, the unsettling they feel is a good thing. Philip’s new book, The Question That Never Goes Away, addresses the same question he raised nearly 37 years ago as a young journalist in his first book, Where Is God When It Hurts? This time, however, he reflects on three events: the tsunami in Japan that took the lives of 20,000 people, the civil war in Sarajevo that killed 10,000 citizens, and the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 children and 6 adults dead. Philip was invited to speak at special ceremonies commemorating each of these tragedies.

What good, if any, can arise out of tragedies such as these, and how do we reconcile our faith in a loving God with the ongoing suffering throughout the world? In a fascinating conversation here, Philip shares what he has learned from a lifetime of struggling with these questions. FULL POST

Posted 4/15/14 at 11:53 AM | Tim Challies |

1 comment

The Porn-Free Family Plan

I am a father of three children who are fully part of the digital generation. They are as comfortable with iPods as I am with a paperback and have only ever known a world where almost all of us have cell phones with us at all times, where Facebook is a teenager’s rite-of-passage, where every home has five or ten or twenty devices that can access the rest of the world through the Internet. Yet I know of the dangers that are lurking out there, waiting to draw them in.

I want to protect my children in a world like this, but I want to do more than that. I want to disciple my children to live virtuously, to use these new technologies for good purposes instead of bad ones. I believe this is a crucial part of my calling as a parent. To address this great need, I have put together what I call The Porn-Free Family Plan. It is a plan designed to protect my children from online dangers so that I can train them to use their devices and technologies well.

The Porn-Free Family Plan

A thorough plan needs to account for three types of device: FULL POST

Posted 4/14/14 at 4:18 PM | Barry Bowen

Two Months After Death, I still Think of Dad Daily

My dad

February 13th, the day before Valentine's Day, my dad died at 79 years of age.

Saturday I visited Mom and told her, "Every day I think of Dad." She responded, "I miss him too." She expressed those words with love, not sadness.

In the novel A Walk to Remember, author Nicholas Sparks writes, "There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well."

Easter is less than a week away and it shows how God overcame death. The Bible also promises that God will resurrect his people in the future. What an amazing event to look forward to.

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." - 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 FULL POST

Posted 4/14/14 at 1:42 PM | Tim Challies |

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Help! My Kids Are Looking at Porn!

Photo: Flickr/Paul Townsend - Creative Commons

I hear it so, so often: “Help! My kids are looking at porn!” A few days ago one mom wrote to say that she and her husband had allowed their young teenaged boys access to the Internet to play an online video game, thinking they had taught and trained the boys well enough that they would be able to resist whatever temptation they encountered out there. They were wrong, and had just learned that for the past four months, when mom and dad left the house for a date or to run some errands, the boys had been looking at pornography. What should they do? How should they respond?

I have dedicated a lot of attention over the past several years to the battle against pornography and would like to offer a two-part answer. Today I will address the immediate response and tomorrow I want to help you put together a plan that will protect your family in the future, both preventing those who want to look at porn and protecting those who don’t yet know that it exists.

For today, here are some suggestions for how to respond when you learn that your children have been looking at or looking for pornography.

Don’t Despair

Different parents react in different ways when it comes to their children and pornography. Some treat it in a matter-of-fact manner while others respond with more emotion and can find themselves on the brink of utter despair. Guard yourself against those depths of despair. While this situation is difficult and painful, it does not mean the world is ending; it does not necessarily mean your children are unsaved and certainly does not mean they are unsaveable. By looking at porn they have opened up a window to their heart and you now have the opportunity to address it in a helpful way. Despair will only interfere with your ability to do this effectively. FULL POST

Posted 4/13/14 at 2:51 PM | Ann Frailey

Christian Authors - Onward and Upward

I have been blessed with the opportunity of reviewing several Christian authors' new books lately and though they may not all be literary geniuses I must say they all bring something to the table that is sorely lacking in today's culture - a passion for God. But the funny things is that even though they may be pouring their hearts out in stories, poetry, plays, and blogs they seem to get the cold shoulder from those who should have a vested interest in keeping their hope alive. If a Christian really believes that Christ's mission is lived out today in the minds, hearts and souls of those who love Him then wouldn't we want to do what we can to keep that faith and hope alive? But sadly, what I see happening is very similar to what happened to the Fellowship in The Lord of the Rings. Everone is so busy telling everyone else how to defeat the enemy, how to use the weapons at hand, how to destroy the evil in our midst - that we end up focusing so much on the enemy we forget the whole point of Christianity, the whole point of Good Friday, the whole point of a Redeemer- to love our enemies. Simple. But hard.

Anyway, I have found, through painful suffering that Christ was right. If you love anyone - it has to be with the same love that loves our enemies. If we love to hate - if we love to correct and tell everyone what is wrong with the world and everyone else in it - we may well be missing the hope that makes love real. People can do evil things (we frequently do) but we are still worth loving. At least - God thinks so. FULL POST

Posted 4/11/14 at 9:42 AM | Karen Farris

Investing Without Money

Taking a break from the waiting room, I walked down the hospital corridor. That’s when I saw her name boldly engraved on a large plaque over the double doors. Mrs. L. was wealthy enough to have paid for the entire hospital, so seeing a wing named after her wasn’t surprising. But what was unusual was our friendship—all those years ago.

It began on an unbearably hot day. The strawberry pickers had finished hours ago, I’d moved the irrigation lines, and now was cleaning all the picking buckets. Just then, I saw the dust billowing behind a car coming to our farm. I groaned at the thought of more u-pickers. I just wanted to take a shower and be left alone.

An older woman hopped out of the car with energy that defied her tightly curled white hair. She wanted to pick, so I grabbed a clean bucket. If this old lady wanted to get on her hands and knees and pick in the hot sun, who was I to stop her? FULL POST

Posted 4/10/14 at 12:51 PM | Bill Blacquiere

You’re Invited: Northeast Adoption Summit

If you live in the northeastern part of the United States and are interested in adoption or foster care, you have a wonderful opportunity to join other Christians who will be gathering later this month on behalf of vulnerable children everywhere. The first-ever Northeast Adoption Summit (NEAS) convenes in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on April 25–26, an event that will provide inspiration and training for both pre-adoptive and adoptive parents.

This event grows out of the success of the Christian Alliance for Orphans’ (CAFO) annual Summit that brings together thousands of Christians from around the world who are all dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children. I’ve seen firsthand just how helpful this global event is, and I felt we could replicate it at a regional level to meet the growing interest among Christians to learn what it means to provide a safe and secure family to a child. The organization I lead, Bethany Christian Services, is partnering with Adoption Learning Partners, Holt International Children’s Services, and Lifesong for Orphans to sponsor this two-day summit, and we would love to have you join us. FULL POST

Posted 4/8/14 at 4:50 PM | Trace Embry

2 Ways to Train Your Teen to Achieve High Standards

In my work with families; I see time and time again in today’s culture, there doesn’t seem to be a lot expected from our teens. Lackluster performances and low expectations too often satisfy parents.

If you desire a son or daughter with distinguished character, you will need to be proactive in setting a high standard for the tasks and projects you have in your home.

Require Household Chores
First, ensure your teen takes ownership around the home by being responsible for household chores.

As he completes these chores, be certain they are completed with excellence. As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Use this scripture as a guiding principle.

While your teen may not like doing chores at times, by completing them with excellence, over time, they will respect both you and themselves.

By assigning your child household chores such as; dishes, cleaning toilets, mopping floor, or painting trim, and requiring excellence in their work, your teen will learn how to hold a high standard for himself. FULL POST

Posted 4/8/14 at 3:40 PM | Brian Wallace

Teaching Social Media Etiquette

With the rising popularity of social media, teaching etiquette rules is more important than it has ever been. This infographic outlines some of the basics.

Posted 4/8/14 at 10:16 AM | Bill Blacquiere

Journeys of Faith: Changing the Way Churches Do Ministry

Susie Reeder is the Minister of Missions at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, an adoptive mother, an advocate for orphan care, and a supporter of the Faith To Action Initiative.

The Faith To Action Initiative is a coming together of like-minded organizations to raise awareness of best practices in orphan care around the world. I’d like to tell you about how a study they provide has changed the life of my church.

As the mother of two adopted children, my personal passion was and is for orphans. But when I became the Minister of Missions at Snyder Memorial Baptist, I was careful not to make my passion for orphan care the church’s passion. I did, however, lead mission trips. During a 2012 trip to Moldova in Eastern Europe, we visited a state-run orphanage, and there I realized that orphan care is God’s passion. Therefore, orphan care should be a passion for every body of believers.

I led a 6-week pilot study called Journeys of Faith, part of the Faith To Action Initiative. Their goal is to move the church from simply supporting orphanages to providing community-based care for those affected by extreme poverty. This study, which focuses primarily on community-based orphan care in Africa, gave us a call to respond to the orphan crisis by engaging our church in providing care to vulnerable children. FULL POST

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