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Creative Biblical content at the intersection of life and faith.

5 - Recalculate Your Situation

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.  (James 1:9-11 ESV)
To help us see the opportunity of adversity we must not only recalculate our expectation (namely for how God answers prayer), but we must also recalculate our situation.
A lot of times we gauge God’s opinion of us based on the stuff we have in our lives.  
I am healthy.  I am blessed.
I am sick.  I am cursed.
I was promoted at work.  God loves me.
I lost my job.  God hates me.
A situational faith is fickle.
James chooses wealth to expose our miscalculation of the situation.  The wealthy person believes that he or she must be doing something right because they have so much.  A false pride and sense of security develops.  
The poor person believes that he or she must be doing something wrong because they have so little.  A false humility and a misguided spirituality develops.  
You can’t gauge God’s love based on your stuff.  According to James 1:9-11, we need to realize that situations quickly change.  
James teaches that the lowly brother doesn’t need to focus on his lack, but on the lift.  
He says that the rich brother doesn’t need to focus on his provision, but on his pursuit.  
What does this mean?  Whether we are healthy or sick.  Whether we are rich or poor.  Whether we are in good times or in hard times - it is all a trial of faith.  
There are lots of people with lots of money and God is displeased in the way they are handling it, why, because they are pursuing the wrong thing.  One day, life will drop, they may lose it all and in the meantime they lose their faith.  Why, because their faith was equal to their wealth - which is never enough.
A faith that is based on the blessings of wealth is far from life proof.  When the account dries up, that form of faith will also go bankrupt.
On the flip-side, there are lots of people with little money and God is equally as displeased in the way they are handling it.  Why?  God is displeased because we are so prone to believe in our moment of lack that our greatest need is money.  They think that it is money that will lift them up, but it isn’t.  It is God.  Until your pursuit becomes more about God than money, you will never have a LIFE PROOF faith.

A life proof faith remains steadfast in abundance as well as in lack.  The Word of God determines the truth about faith, not your situation.  Our health and bank accounts are volatile and vulnerable.  God never changes.  Our situations should not make determinations about our faith, instead a life proof faith make a determination in any situation to trust the Lord.  

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4 - The Opportunity of Adversity - Recalculated Expectations

If we know God is working even when the situation is unwelcome, and we know that we are most changed when we are most challenged, then we must conclude that adversity is not a drudgery; adversity is an opportunity.  This is why James calls for us to “count it all joy (1:2).”

Easier said than done, right?  Why can’t we count it all joy?  Why is it so hard to see the opportunity of adversity?  
MISCALCULATION
The reason we can’t see the opportunity of adversity is because we “can’t count” we miscalculate.
From 1:5-18 James calls for us to make some recalculations.  We need to recalculate three aspects of adversity: expectations, situations, and temptations.
Recalculate Expectations
One thing I can say with a fair amount of certainty, when times get tough, people pray.  When we pray, we do so with a fair amount of expectations.  Those expectations, unmet, often lead to frustration.
Why isn’t God answering my prayer?  
Expectations go unmet.  We feel as if faith has failed.  Once again, we hit hard times and we are shattered.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  (James 1:5-8 ESV)
This paragraph talks about something God wants to generously give us in our trials.  What is it?
While it is true that we serve a miracle working God who can change any situation, notice what the verse doesn’t say.  
God heals, but the verse doesn’t say God generously heals.
God provides, but the verse doesn’t say God generously gives us a bunch of money.
God opens doors of opportunity for His people, but the verse doesn’t say God generously gives us a new job.
God is sovereign over the nations, but the verse doesn’t even say God generously stopped the persecution that James’ readers were going through so they could go back home.
The verse says that God generously gives wisdom.  Wisdom is the the ability to know God’s will.  Wisdom is making the right choice.  Wisdom the ability to foresee the bad consequences of foolish choices because you know what God says.  
Wisdom is the ability to not make a bad situation worse.  
The Bible says God gives it generously.  This is an interesting word in that in one sense means exactly what you think it means, yet in another sense it doesn’t at all mean what you think it means.  
Generosity is the word used to describe the guy at the ice cream counter who doesn’t just give you one “technical” scoop; generosity means that he keeps digging down in the barrel and he pushes the ice cream down on the cone, he packs it on, and then goes in one more time to make sure you have a huge ball of ice cream up on top of that cone!  Generosity means he is going to give you more than the cone can hold!  Technically, one scoop can be 4 ounces.  Generously one scoop is the size of a basketball!  That’s generosity.  That’s the obvious meaning. 
God gives His people big scoops of wisdom.
However, generosity also means that God is also no arbitrary.  He is not wasteful.  He is purposeful.  There is a sense in the word in which it also means single-minded or focused.  And it is this meaning, single minded focus, that we don’t often associate with generosity.  
Have you ever seen the footage of the rich guy who goes to the mall at Christmas and dumps a basket of $100 bills over the rail?  The people below go crazy in the scramble to scoop up the money.  The rich man is celebrated as generous.  He may be generous, but is that kind of generosity effective?
In my experience I have found that a person who truly needs $100 is not at the mall.  Where will the basket full of money end up?  Will it accomplish anything truly good or has the rich man just given the people below $100 license to be greedy and wasteful?  There is no way to know.  
God is not the guy who dumps a bunch of money over the rail of the mall at Christmas time to see people go crazy over it - that’s not generosity, that’s publicity.
God is the guy who often goes unnamed, who finds a need, seeks to solve a problem, and makes a generous but calculated investment into something that is going to truly make a difference.
God has generous focus. 
Notice who He is generous toward, single minded, focused people.  Not the double-minded man, who is devoted to doing God’s will one day, but not the next.  He is not generous to the one who shows up all pious and religious when he’s in a mess.  He’s not generous to those who want only to change their situation but are not interesting in changing their life.  He is not generous to those who want prayer answered but are not interested at all about strengthening their faith.
God is interested in giving generous amounts of wisdom to people who are interested in knowing and doing what God wants them to do.
When you are in adversity what do you ask God for and why?  What’s your expectation?  Are you concerned about THINGS changing or are you concerned about your LIFE being changed?  
A lifeproof faith is concerned about encasing us in a generous amount of God given wisdom.  The expectation is guidance, insight, information for navigation; not necessarily escape.  When we recalculate our expectations, we see the opportunity of adversity clearly.  Wisdom helps us to learn things about God and about life that will contribute to our steadfastness; that will help us to hold up the next time life drops.  Wisdom makes a generous, calculated contribution to making us, like 1:4 says, “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” 

If you want a Lifeproof faith that sees adversity as an opportunity, recalculate your expectations for answered prayer.  Ask for wisdom - God gives it generously to God focused people.
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3 - It’s All in What You Know - You Are Changing

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4 ESV)

Yesterday we said that we can count it all joy in the trail because we know that God is working even when a situation is unwelcome.  According to James 1:2-4, there is also joy in knowing a second truth in the trial.

We are most changed when we are most challenged.
If you have ever worked out in a public gym, scenes such as these should be familiar.





The problem is that most of the people who become the hilarious spectacle known as the epic gym failure are usually wearing the nicest gym clothes.  They look the part - often a little “too much.”  They speak the language.  They drink the shakes.  They have mastered “the grunt.” They sit on all of the equipment, but they have no idea how to use it.
What ensues is an epic demonstration of weakness, form, and ignorance.  
Isn’t that often the case with our faith?  We talk a big game when things are going great, but there is no real strength to our faith.  Then, when life drops, we can’t hold up under the weight.  
Throughout his letter, James will confront 6 versions of weak faith that talk a big game, but have no strength and are easily shattered when life drops.

a)  1:19-27 - the person who hears the sermons, but there is no noticeable life change.
b)  2:1-13 -  the church that is judgmental, prejudice, and partial. 
c)  2:14-26 - the guy who says he believes, but does nothing.
d)  3:1-18 - the person who has the vocabulary of faith, but otherwise can’t control his tongue.
e)  4:1-17 - the church that is full of infighting, division, and worldliness.
f)  5:1-20 - the church that has real needs, but has no power because it is full of doctrinal error and greed.
If we were honest about our faith and honest about the modern church, especially in light of James’ 6 epic failures, we would say “it is not working” and that “it is now effective” and that “it is not powerful.”
We need strength.  The trial is key to the development of our strength.

The word steadfastness means the ability to hold up under something.  James says that in our trials that the longer we hold up under it, the stronger we will become.  But strength is not the only goal.  The ultimate goal is that we may be perfect, which means mature, complete, lacking nothing.  That means in short, that we develop such a strong faith that it becomes LIFEPROOF.

And this is what we want, a strong effective faith.  Look at what is happening at the end of the book.  Someone is suffering and so they are called to pray, anoint the person with oil and confess sin.  The effect is that the person is forgiven and healed.  The paragraph says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  It is a powerful, effective faith that works!   

The Book of James is about saving us from gross error that when tested will shatter our faith.  The book ends, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (5:19-20).”  In other words, we need to save them from being shattered.  We need to encase our life in a faith that is real. 

If we are going to change, we must be challenged.

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2 - It’s All in What You Know - God is Working

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4 ESV)
Count it all joy?  Seriously?
When life drops it is hard to see the joy.
You’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, joy?
The pressure at your work is difficult to bear, joy?
You and your spouse hardly talk, joy?
There is too much month at the end of the money, joy?
1st century Jews of the dispersion who have fled for your life from intense persecution, are you having fun yet?
Joy?
According to James, it’s all in what you know.
According to these verses, we know two things in the trial
We know that even when the situation is unwelcome, God is working.
The verse refers to “trials of various kinds.”  The trial is an unwelcome situation.  Money issue.  Physical issue.  In the case of the first readers of James, persecution.  These are the life drops - the difficulties of being on an imperfect planet with imperfect people.  
James teaches us that even though a situation is unwelcome and unexpected that no situation is ever beyond the bounds of the sovereignty of God.  Life will drop you.  God will not.
As a matter of fact, the passage says in 1:12 that God is paying attention to our response and He rewards us when we respond rightly to the trial.  So we can count it joy because we know that God is not only working, He is watching.
There are various places in the Bible in which people stayed encouraged during adversity.  How?  Because they didn’t necessarily understand the significance of what was happening, but they knew God was working.  
  • In Acts 5 the apostles were arrested and beaten for preaching the name of Christ.  That is certainly unwelcome.  But the Bible says they left the council “rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”  They saw God working in what was otherwise unwelcome.
  • In Hebrews the author speaks of the chastening of God, discipline He brings into our lives.  Certainly unwelcome, but not unwarranted and something in which God is working.  “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  He. 12:11
  • Paul had a thorn in his flesh he asked God to remove.  God refused.  He did so to teach Paul about His grace.  The thorn was unwelcome but God was working.

Your situation may be unwelcome, but be assured, God is working.  Joy.
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1 - Lifedrops

Whether you are a smartphone lover or a hater who only has one out of necessity, we all share a common fear, THE DROP.  In an instant your $600 window to the world becomes a useless piece of shattered glass.  
The company Lifeproof has created a successful business by manufacturing what has become a necessary accessory to the smartphone - protection.  Lifeproof makes no technological contribution to your device; instead Lifeproof helps your phone do the one thing your phone does not do well - LIFE.
The people at Lifeproof know what is coming at your phone - YOU.  Drops.  Toilets.  Kids.  Sweat.  Dogs.  A lonely, lost overnight stay in the last place you set it down - in the rain.  There is no app for that.
James writes a letter to a group of Jewish Christians in the 1st century who started well.  If you heard them speak the language of faith, you would detect no issues with the lingo.  But they are suffering a serious life drop.  Dispersion.  They are being persecuted.  They are fleeing and as they do they leave behind everything familiar - family, work, peace.  
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.  (James 1:1 ESV)
But you must understand, James was not writing them because they were scattered.  James was writing to them because they were shattered.
So how are you doing with those “life drops?”
In many ways our life is like our phone.  It looks and sounds great when things are going well, but when life drops, we easily shatter.  Don’t you agree?  It should be much more difficult to fall apart.
In chapter 1 verse 2, James mentions “trials of various kinds”; life drops.  Financial issues.  Physical issues.  Marital issues.  Family issues.  Whatever form they take, trials are unwelcome, unexpected experiences.  We all have them.
Whatever the trial brings, these are the moments that go deeper than what you say.  They go deeper than what people see.  It is easy to say all is well and look the part.  But when the hard stuff hits, one of two things will happen - you will either hold together or shatter.
The Book of James is about encasing your soul in something life proof - authentic faith.  
My intent with these posts is to flesh out in print a teaching from the book of James as I also flesh it out through preaching to our church.  Hopefully the print versions will be a blessing as it will afford me the opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas from my preaching notes that may not necessarily make their way into the pulpit version.  

Follow along.  Let’s encase our soul in a life proof faith. 
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Rival Racers Share Their Story

In January of this year, car owner Randall Hill of Hill Motorsports was in my home asking for prayer for a rival driver, the Bad Boy of Dalton, Craig Reece.  In mid-July Craig found new life in Christ and came walking into the church I serve.  After the service two of the great teams in dirt track racing stood together in reconciliation through the power of the gospel.  A few weeks later these men allowed me to interview them about their story.  I could not have preached a better sermon about the power of sharing your story than these men demonstrated that day.  If you are a racing fan, this is an interview you will not want to miss.  If you are a Christian, this is a powerful demonstration of the importance of sharing your story.  You may not know a lot of theology, but you know what Christ has done for you.  Share your story, people are dying to know.


">Rival Racers Share Their Story from Brian Branam on Vimeo.

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Parent Resources for Conversations with Your Kids about Media (The Topics Series)

The Topics Series
Parent Resource Sheet
Media, Movies, Apps, and Games


Biblical Truths we can’t ignore:

  1. Human nature has been ruined by sin.
  2. God has given us His son to redeem us from sin.
  3. God has called the redeemed to live a holy life. 
  4. Satan has a real agenda to pervert truth and steal, kill, and destroy life.
  5. Media choices may not condemn us, but they will desensitize us to the truths of the gospel that are supposed to impact our life.
  6. Parents are given the responsibility to disciple their children and to be the guardians of the home.
  7. Kids don’t think like adults.  There is less of a discernible line in their minds between fact and fiction.  They need parental guidance.
  8. Even though there are no Bible verses that speak directly about our modern day movie rating system, video games, or apps - there are plenty of principles the Bible teaches that should govern our approach to media.


Romans 12:1–2

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. 

Matthew 15:18–20

18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” 

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 

Proverbs 10:23

Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding. 

Philippians 4:8

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

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Romans 8:5–12

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 

Psalm 101:3

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 

Use Discernment:  (by Kris Roberts, http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/mind-over-media-kris-roberts-sermon-on-entertainment-67516.asp)

M – Message – What is the message and how is it coming across?
E – Effect – What effect does this have on me?
D – Damage – Will I suffer damage from this? (ex. unhealthy fantasies)
I – Instead – What could I be doing instead? (ex. productive, constructive)
A – Ask God – Does this glorify God, - 

Our discernment usually begins with one question - will I enjoy it or do my kids like it?  Personal happiness, displeasure, or personal taste is not the standard.  We should be more concerned that our media choices reflect obedience to God - John 14:15.


9 Facts About Social Media You Should Know - Joe Carter (http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-social-media/)

1. If social media companies were countries: Facebook (over 1.1 billion users) would be the world's most populous, behind only China. Google Plus (693 million active users) would be number three and Twitter (554 million users) would be fourth, ahead of both India and the United States.

2. One out of every seven minutes spent online is on Facebook. Each day Facebook users spend 10.5 billion minutes (almost 20,000 years) on the social network (excluding mobile devices).

3. Every minute of every day: 684,478 pieces of content are shared on Facebook; Instagram users share 3,600 new photos; Foursquare users perform 2,083 check-ins.

4. There are 58 million tweets per day; 9,100 happen every second. 222 million Twitters don't tweet but watch other people tweet.

5. The average Pinterest user spends 98 minutes per month on the site and 14.2 minutes per visit, has 171 pins, 229 followers, 3 boards, and 28 likes.

6. Women account for most users of social media. The male vs. female ratio of social media users: Facebook - 60% female/40% male; Twitter - 60% female/40% male; Pinterest - 79% female/21% male; Google Plus - 29% female/71% male; LinkedIn - 55% female/45% male.

7. Older users account for the recent growth of social media platforms. On Twitter the 55-64 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic with 79% growth rate since 2012. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook's and Google Plus' networks are the 45 to 54 year age bracket at 46% and 56% respectively.

8. We interact with our mobile devices 40 to 80 times a day. 91% of mobile Internet access is for social activities. 73% of smartphone owners access social networks through apps at least once per day. 50% of smart phones connect to Facebook every hour of every day.

9. 45 percent of church staff use Facebook every day. 51 percent of churches said that at least one of their senior staff regularly blogs or updates social media. 56 percent allowed or encouraged staff members to update their personal social media pages while at work. 46 percent of churches say that social media is their most effective outreach method.



7 dangerous Apps that parents need to know about, A look into the some of the scariest Apps for your kids
by Kristin Peaks  (http://www.checkupnewsroom.com/7-dangerous-apps-that-parents-need-to-know-about/)

I work in public relations at Cook Children's. It's my job to be on social networking sites, peruse the internet and keep up with the latest Apps offered on smartphones. It's a great job and I love what I do, but over the last couple years, I have learned so much about the dangers of Smart Phone Apps. It's downright scary.
Technology, especially if you're a little behind the times, can be very deceptive. Your kids may be downloading Apps that you think are innocent and just a simple way for them to keep in contact with their buddies, but unfortunately, this isn't always the case.
To keep your children safe, it's best that you monitor their phone. Look through their apps, texts and pictures. They may feel that you're invading their privacy, but let's be honest... You're paying the phone bill, so you can do whatever you want! So, as you monitor your kid's phone, keep an eye out for these 7 apps you may not be aware of, that in my opinion are very dangerous:
Yik Yak - This App is one of the newest and one of the most dangerous. It allows users to post text-only Yaks of up to 200 characters. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking. Users are exposed to - and contributing -sexually explicit content, abusive language and personal attacks so severe that schools are starting to block the App on their Wi-Fi. Although the posts are anonymous, kids start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users.
SnapChat - This App allows users to send photos that will disappear after 10 seconds. Once the recipient opens the picture, the timer starts. Then it's gone. From both the sender's phone and the recipient's phone. However, the recipient can take a screen shot of the photo and have it to share with others. This App enables kids to feel more comfortable "sexting" with peers.
 
KiK Messenger - This is a private messenger app and is coveted by those under 18 for a number of reasons. The App allows kids to send private messages that their parents can't see. There is very little you can do to verify the identity of someone on Kik, which obviously poses the risk of sexual predators chatting with your child. And again, this is an easy tool for sexting.
 
Poof -The Poof App allows users to make Apps disappear on their phone with one touch. Kids can hide every app they don't want you to see on their phone. All they have to do is open the App and select the ones they don't want you to see. Very scary! The good news about this App is it is no longer available, which isn't uncommon for these types of Apps. But, if it was downloaded before it was deleted from the App store, your child may still have it. Keep in mind that Apps like this are created and then terminated pretty quickly by Android and Apple stores, but there are similar ones being created constantly. Some other names include: Hidden AppsApp Lock and Hide It Pro.
 
Omegle - This App has been around since 2008, with video chat added in 2009.  When you use Omegle you do not identify yourself through the service - chat participants are only identified as "You" and "Stranger". You don't have to register for the App. However, you can connect Omegle to your Facebook account to find chat partners with similar interests.  When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App will receive your Facebook "likes" and try to match you with a stranger with similar likes. This is not okay for children. There is a high risk of sexual predators and you don't want your kids giving out their personal information, much less even talking to strangers.
 
Whisper - This is a meeting App that encourages users to post secrets. You post anonymously, but it displays the area you are posting from. You can search for users posting within a mile from you. A quick look at the App and you can see that online relationships are forming constantly on this App, but you never know the person behind the computer or phone. One man in Washington was convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl he met on this App just last year.
 
Down - This application, which used to be called "Bang with Friends," is connected to Facebook. Users can categorize their Facebook friends in one of two ways: they can indicate whether or not a friend is someone they'd like to hang with or someone they are "down" to hook up with. The slogan for the App: "The anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night." If that alone doesn't scare you, I don't know what will!


This list is important, but understand it will not stay current.  The app marketplaces change every day.  Some apps that are censored by parents, are simply redistributed with different names.  It can be overwhelming to keep up with your kids and their online habits. But just remember to check their phones often, and even more importantly have real life conversations with them. Rules do not replace values.  Rules may be a starting place, but teaching your kids the importance of sharing your Biblically based values is the only true guard for their heart.  Discuss the dangers of the Apps and make sure they understand the need to keep personal information private. 

Resources:
PluggedInOnline - pluggedin.com - movie, books, and television reviews by Focus on the Family.
Covenant Eyes - covenanteyes.com - internet safety, accountability, and filtering.

Protect Your Family Online - A How To Guide for Parents - http://www.covenanteyes.com/learn-to-protect-your-family-with-this-free-how-to-guide/?utm_campaign=porn-stats



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How to Talk to Your Kids about Modesty

We live in a society that is quickly losing a sense of decency, modesty, or shame.  The Bible, however, calls for God's people to observe a sense of modesty.  How do you talk to your kids about this subject?  Here are 10 "Do Not" principles that you may find helpful:

  • Do not teach that the body is a bad thing. Gen. 1:31.  Modesty is not because there is a problem with the body, it is because there is a problem with our mind.  Before they sinned, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed.  After sin, even though they were married and there is no indication that there was anyone else in the garden, they looked at their nakedness in a different way than they had before.  As a result, they covered themselves.  Let's be honest, we live in a world of perversion and uncovering the body is provocative.  Call it art, call it beauty, naked is naked.  I have read articles that object saying that we should honor the person without objectifying the body.  Ultimately we do want to see people as parts of the body of Christ rather than just seeing people as body parts.  Yet, again, really hard to do when that person is naked.  It's the nature of the way we think.  Modesty is an answer to our situation.  We are sinners.  Sinners are tempted, enticed, and think bad things.  Cover up.
  • Do not teach that the body is their own.  The attitude of the culture is that one can do what one wills to do with their own body.  The Bible calls for us to practice a different ethic.  1 Corinthians 6 and 7 teaches that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that the body is also something that one can surrender to their spouse.  We need to have conversation about modesty in the broader conversation about sexuality and marriage.  In a culture that is undermining marriage, the church needs to be more proactive at teaching marriage and purity.  Modesty is not just covering up, but it is saving up for a grander goal that God has for us.
  • Do not think that if your kids are wearing what you said they could wear that the mission is accomplished.  Legislation is not life change, it is legalism.  However, this does not mean there is not a place for rules.  Even though someone may not understand the heart of a law, laws are necessary to protect us.  Even in the garden when Adam and Eve sinned God made a correction.  They covered themselves with fig leaves, God covered them with animal skin.  There is a broader picture of atonement here, but our Heavenly Father was the first one to say to His children were not going to go out of the house wearing that!  They needed to put more on themselves.  Legalism takes the life out of principles.  Modesty is not about a certain color, length, or texture of anything.  It is about a mindset that is considerate of others.  Interestingly, the Bible never defines modesty, it just uses words like appropriate, modest, respectable. The word modest comes from a Greek Word that talks about a person in a crowded room of excellence; perhaps there are skilled actors on the stage, singers, or musicians.  All the attention in the room is directed toward something beautiful, then in an act of vulgarity you break that attention and draw it towards yourself.  This is the idea modesty is rooted in.  Modesty is a position of humility that realizes life is not about you.  We need to teach the heart of this principle, not simply legislate obedience.
  • Do not make modesty an issue of conviction, but of aspiration.  Modesty is about loving God and loving His body (His people), not magnifying your own. G.K. Chesterson stated that it was a mistake when we moved modesty from the organ of aspiration to the organ of conviction.  Our goal is glory for our Lord, not guilt over what we wear.  Modesty teaches that we want to be pleasing to Him and mindful of His people.  We don't measure our shorts because a Baptist believes it, we wear what we wear because we love the Lord and His church.
  • Do not teach that modesty is a matter of clothing, but rather that it is an issue of the heart.  If it is always a fight about clothing, there probably needs to be some conversation about deeper things.  It may not be an issue of the shirt, it may be an issue of the heart.  The Bible teaches that modesty is a heart issue, not a fashion one. (Luke 6:45, 1 Peter 3:3-4)
  • Do not teach that modesty is about what you wear only, but it is also about the way you wear it.  Interestingly, 1 Timothy 2:9 was about overdressing not underdressing.  Let's be honest, for the ladies, they wear what they wear not for other guys, but for other girls.  Have you ever been sitting in the waiting area of a crowded restaurant?  Next time you do, when a woman walks in, watch the eyes of the other ladies around her.  They check out her shoes, then her clothes, then her purse, then how she got her hair "did."  Watch their face, you can tell what they think :).  It's funny!  Modesty means that I don't dress just to best someone else.  There is an attitude of Christian con tenement that should permeate everything we do (and put on).
  • Do not teach that modesty is an issue for your daughters and leave your sons out of the conversation.  We need to teach our sons to honor the ladies, not victimize them.  Job made a covenant with his eyes.  Jesus taught that to look lustfully on a woman was to commit adultery in the heart.  We need to teach our sons that girls are not giving guys permission based on what they wear.  I read a great statement in an article published by Relevant magazine by Sharon Hodde Miller, "Love your sisters by exercising the fruit of self-control and “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Love your sisters by taking ownership in this resistance, rather than letting the bulk of the burden fall on us."
  • Do not teach modesty without modeling it.  Modesty does not just apply to the way we dress, but it is about a sloppy, vulgar, selfish life.  Modesty is seen in every venue of life from the way one keeps the house, speaks in public, or posts online.  Overly loud and obnoxious can be just as offensive as an outfit that is too short and too tight.  If our kids are to receive the message of modesty it is something that must be modeled at home, in society, and at church.  Titus 2:3-5
  • Do not teach that modesty makes you more beautiful.  There was a popular message that sounded attractive, but was dishonest, "Modest is hottest."  Yet, modesty is not a beauty issue at all, it is about consideration of others.  A person who dresses modest may not be "hot" at all.  In fact, by societies standards, probably not.  At the same time modest doesn't mean I have to look like a potato sack either.  When the Lord sent Samuel to seek out a new king he revealed to us that the issue for the Lord is not outward appearance at all, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  For humans beauty is often a relative issue anyway.  Recently a free lance journalist sent an untouched picture of her natural face to 25 graphic artists in various countries and simply asked, "Make me beautiful."  What she received back was 25 various versions of herself compliments of photoshop.  Check out the project here.
  • Do not give up on teaching modesty just because it modesty is more difficult.  In a culture that seems to value "uncovered" it is not easy to find modest clothing at times.  It is especially difficult in the warmer seasons, and especially true of swimwear for women.  When it comes to our children we cannot trust a sexually addicted culture that does not value censorship and moral protection for our children.  The fashion industry will probably not applaud what you are trying to teach your children.  Furthermore, your children may not get support at school, at the pool, and you may not get any help from other parents.  And there may be some rare occasion of life in which your children don't agree with your values. As shocking as this may be, remember, you are still the parent.  For Christian parents this is where the church should be especially helpful.  In a Christ centered counter-culture there should be support, not undermining of the message.  Parents need to talk to one another as well as to their children about modesty. 
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Love Songs (Points from Sunday 6/29/14)

Sermon:  Love Songs
Series: Psalms and Songs
Text:  Psalm 33

Love is arguably the most common theme in music.  With an incredible capacity to love and to receive love it should be no surprise we find love so interesting and inspiring.  At the same time we have a heart that is vulnerable and explosive.  When it comes to love we often experience as much exhilaration as we do confusion.  

In today’s music there are basically four types of love songs.  1) Pure romance.  This is the song that makes the ladies melt.  It is romeo with a beat.  Much like John Legend’s “All of me” it is all about the words.  2)  I’m not like the other guys.  These songs pick up the important theme of rebuilding trust in someone after a broken heart.  Justin Timberlake’s “Not a Bad Thing” is a prime example.  “I know people make promises, all the time, then turn right around and break them.  When someone cuts your heart, open with a knife and you’re bleeding, but I could be that guy, to heal it over time, and I won’t stop until you believe it.”  3)  Lust at first sight.  It’s not really about love as much as it is about immediate attraction and a wild night.  Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” exemplifies this genre.  4)  Finally, we have the break up song.  No one is better at break ups than Taylor Swift.  She doesn’t have anything currently topping the charts, but someone is going to break her heart soon and she will get over it by slicing him open on 12 tracks and sell 10 million copies.   

If you listen to today’s music it is not hard to hear the volatility of our experience in love.  Yet, God puts on display for His people a perfect picture of redeeming love.  In Psalm 33 David writes a song for stringed instruments and he says in verse 21, “For our heart is glad in Him because we trust His holy name.”  In the song David celebrates 4 things about God as a true lover.

A true lover:

  1. Speaks a trustworthy word (Psalm 33:4a, 6-9).  Everything God says comes true.  He does not simply make empty romantic promises, but His Word comes to pass.  The right response is to stand in awe of Him in worship (v. 8).  For those who are married, never underestimate the power of your words.  Especially for the men, we need to be mindful of our words toward our wives.  For those who are single and searching, find someone that can be trusted.  Someone who is always backtracking, covering for themselves, and having to constantly explain why what they said doesn’t match what they did, is not a fit lover - move on.
  2. Does a faithful work (Psalm 33:4b, 10-12).  We will constantly deal with difficulty when it comes to life and love.  Yet even though the nations rage against the Lord, His plans do not fail.  What He has determined to do, He will do.  He is faithful because He is able.  As Timberlake’s song insinuates, it is difficult to trust people.  Yet he croons in a vulgar way that if his lover will go out, do whatever she wants to do with whoever she wants to do it with, that she will find in the end, he is the one.  is that really the way we want to arrive at the truth?  You will never find someone higher by looking lower.  If you want to find truly love, you have to know where to truly look.  In the Lord we find a lover who has not only envisioned a plan for us, but is faithful to perform on His Word.  For the married couples, are you simply coexisting, or is there a dream and a plan for your marriage?  What are your goals.  We need in our marriage to be constantly working and fostering faithfulness for one another.  For the searching singles, find someone like our God in the most basic ways - working!  Find someone with ambition, a plan, goals and who is working toward those ends. 
  3. Goes a righteous way (Psalm 33:5a, 13-17).  David finds in the Lord someone who does right.  Sheeran’s song is the age old story of the one night stand.  Yet we need to realize that our life is not a music video, our life has real consequences.  David writes two Psalms about the misery of the consequences of a night driven by lust (Psalm 32 and 51).  The conviction of the Lord was greatly on him and the guilt of his sin made his body ache in the heaviness of shame.  You can’t get to the right place going the wrong way.  You can’t find the right thing looking in the wrong place.  David says that the Lord looks down from heaven on us and he fashions our hearts and deeds in His hands.  This means He is mindful of all we do, nothing escapes His righteous gaze.  Whether a searching single or married, we need to have a vision for righteous, redeeming love.  We need a love that God honors, that has purity at its heart and Christ and the church as its vision.  God does not trash us in lust, but He redeems us in love.
  4. Extends a lasting love (Psalm 33:5b, 18-22).  There is no breakup song for God.  No lover has been more attested as being faithful and loyal as He.  In the Lord David found for his heart gladness and hope.  He knew the Lord would not fail.  When we realize how we have been loved by God and we celebrate His love it informs us and prepares us to give and receive love to others.  God’s lasting love shows us the boundaries of love.  His love for us shows us where love works and where love is not love at all but unrighteous lust.  God’s love informs us in that it raises our expectations and standards.  Even when we are disappointed in love, we are not looking lower but higher because of the lasting love God extends to us.  God’s lasting love also gives us a place of grace.  The lasting love of God requires grace.  Ultimately we are an unfaithful, unrighteous people, yet God gives steadfast love to His people.  God’s love gives us grace and stability we can extend to others, which will go a long way in repairing relationships.

As much as we hear on the radio about love, we need to see what redeemed love looks like.  God has given us an incredible capacity for love and passion, yet in a sinful world much of what we hear is merely a perversion of truth.  The love God has for His people is a perfect love.  When we seek Him first, it helps us to be more discerning with the messages we hear, but it also helps us to be more loving toward those around us.  Paul said in Phil. 1:9 that our love needs to abound, grow more and more with knowledge and all discernment.  


If you are heart broken and looking for true love.  Repent of sin and receive the love of God He has given to us in His son Jesus Christ.  Receive Him as Lord and Savior and follow Him as a disciple.  Only by experiencing redeeming love can we sort though the chaos of love in this life and know what true love is (Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-10, 13).  
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