Jaquelle Crowe – The Greatest Gift a Mom Can Give Her Daughter

The Importance of Mother-Daughter Relationships

I’m 20, and my mom is one of my best friends. She’s my safe space, my closest counselor, and my biggest supporter. And it’s been like this for as long as I can remember.

Somehow my relationship with my mom didn’t just survive my teen years; it flourished during them. My teen years are what formed the bond we have now.

But how did that happen?

The Start of One-on-One Discipleship

All my life, my parents have been intentional about cultivating family discipleship. We did family worship each night. My brother and I were homeschooled, and my parents were diligent about worldview training.

But when I was 12, they became intentional about one-on-one discipleship, and I believe it was this that contributed so significantly to building a relationship with my mom.

To continue reading Jaquelle Crowe’s article, click here.

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Chap Bettis – Three Powerful Questions to Unlock the Heart of Your Teen

I have a hobby you might find unusual. I collect questions.

While some people collect dolls, baseball cards, or antiques, I collect questions. You might wonder why I ever started this; and I’ll tell you: I came to recognize what a powerful teaching tool questions were and how they can really serve as a heart connector.

A quick survey of the gospels reveals that Jesus, our Savior and Teacher, asked 307 questions. He used questions to gather information (“How many loaves do you have?”), to teach (“Whose likeness and image is on this coin?”), and to gain commitment (“Who do you say that I am?”).

Too many times as a parent, I want to lecture my child when in fact a question is a much better tool to teach and to strengthen the relationship.

Realizing the power of questions changed how I communicated with my children. As I interacted with my four teens, I found three questions that powerfully unlocked many fruitful conversations.

To continue reading Chap Bettis’ article, click here.

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Michael Boling – Thou Shalt Not Be Snarky!

“Thou shalt not be snarky.” Okay, I will admit that is not actually listed word for word in the Ten Commandments. Or is it?

We do find commands about honoring our father and mother (item number 4). Additionally, Jesus noted in Matthew 22:37-40, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

I would submit that being snarky is likely something not under the umbrella of loving God or our neighbor. After all, the definition of snarky is being “sharply critical, cutting, or snide.” Are those attributes of godly love we find listed in Scripture? Definitely the answer to that question is a resounding and reverberating no!

Love is noted as being patient, kind, does not dishonor others, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Being snarky does the complete opposite of biblical love.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Being snarky is anything but the Fruit of the Spirit.
If a hallmark of the believer is one who loves God and loves their neighbor according to the definition of biblical love and the Fruit of the Spirit, then being snarky needs to be eradicated from our lives. There simply is no place for it whatsoever.

Admittedly, the tongue is the source of great evil. Cutting remarks, jokes at the expense of others, and being sharply critical of others (i.e. the speck in another’s eye while there is a giant redwood tree in your eye) are far too easy actions. Habitual snarky behavior becomes almost second nature. Perhaps at times we don’t intend to be mean, but the nature of snarky comments and actions is just that, namely an attempt to belittle another in an effort to elevate oneself.

All these little one-liners that bring down others and destroy and semblance of constructive conversation and relationships are made all the more easy by social media. Just log on to Twitter and see hashtag this or that or see the latest meme on Facebook. That which seems as nothing more than a funny picture, joke, or comment is actually a snarky and ungodly response to our fellow man.

I think the best way to rid ourselves of this nasty behavior is to follow the wisdom of James 1:19-21 which states, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and every expression of evil, and humbly receive the word planted in you, which can save your souls.”

To put is simply, hush your mouth before it gets you in trouble and perpetuates habitual snarky behavior. Being snarky is nothing more than moral filth.

Think about it!

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Tony Reinke – 3 Reasons We’re Addicted to Digital Distraction

Yep, There’s An App for That

We check our smartphones about 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives.

The impulse is not hard to understand. Our lives are consolidated on our phones: our calendars, our cameras, our pictures, our work, our workouts, our reading, our writing, our credit cards, our maps, our news, our weather, our email, our shopping — all of it can be managed with state-of-the-art apps in powerful little devices we carry everywhere. Even the GPS app on my phone, which guided me to a new coffee shop today, possesses thirty thousand times the processing speed of the seventy-pound onboard navigational computer that guided Apollo 11 to the surface of the moon.

It’s no wonder we habitually grab our phones first thing in the morning, not only to turn off our alarms, but also to check email and social media in a half-conscious state of sleep inertia before our groggy eyes can fully open. If the ever-expanding universe is humankind’s final horizon outward, our phones take us on a limitless voyage inward, and we restart the journey early every morning.

I am no stranger to this instinctive phone grab, but I wanted to see if others shared this pattern, so I surveyed eight thousand Christians about social media routines. More than half of the respondents (54 percent) admitted to checking a smartphone within minutes of waking. When asked whether they were more likely to check email and social media before or after spiritual disciplines on a typical morning, 73 percent said before. This reality is especially concerning if the morning is when we prepare our hearts spiritually for the day.

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Tony Reinke – 10 Things You Should Know about Your Smartphone

1. Your smartphone is not all bad.

My smartphone is my untiring personal assistant, my irreplaceable travel companion, and my lightning-fast connection to friends and family. VR screen. Gaming device. Ballast for daily life. My intelligent friend, my alert wingman, and my ever-ready collaborator.

2. Your smartphone is not all good.

Study after study has shown that too much time on our phones has profound effects on our physical health, including (but not limited to) inactivity and obesity, stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and restlessness, bad posture and sore necks, eye strain and headaches, and hypertension and stress-induced shallow breathing patterns.

The physical consequences of our unwise smartphone habits often go unnoticed, because in the matrix of the digital world, we simply lose a sense of our bodies, our posture, our breathing, and our heart rates.

3. Your smartphone amplifies your addiction to distractions.

We check our smartphones about 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives. While our relationships with our phones may not be lifelong covenant relationships (though carrier contracts can feel like it), I would not be the first to suggest that owning a smartphone is similar to dating a high-maintenance, attention-starved partner.

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Marshall Segal – Does Dating Prepare Us for Marriage – or Divorce?

The common trends in dating today are more likely to prepare you to get divorced than to enjoy and persevere in marriage.

Dating is an intentional pursuit of marriage, not casual preparation for it. Unfortunately, many of us are being told we must date early and often if we ever want to be ready for marriage. For instance, one popular Christian dating book reads, “Dating is an incubator time of discovering the opposite sex, one’s own sexual feelings, moral limits, one’s need for relationship skills, and one’s tastes for people.” Sounds practical and reasonable on the surface. Until you think about putting yourself (or your daughter) into someone else’s “incubator” for a few months, or years, while he or she tries out their “sexual feelings” and “moral limits.” We put too much of ourselves at risk in dating to donate our hearts to someone’s romantic experiment.

The truth is we have given dating far too much credit, and far too much power in our pursuit of marriage. And because we misunderstand and misuse dating, we end up making more and greater mistakes in our search for love.

Wait to Date?

Wait to date until you can marry. That’s my advice for the not-yet-married, reflecting on my personal experience (and failures) in dating and on years of walking with others falling in love (and often falling harder out of love). In short, if we are dating in order to marry, we need to be ready to marry before we begin dating.

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Nathan Bingham – Pixels Are People

Five years ago, our lives radically changed. My wife and I, with our three children, moved from Australia to the United States. This decision to relocate and serve at Ligonier Ministries was significant. Our children were all under five years of age. We said goodbye to our family and friends and sold almost everything we owned. This was “starting over.” But more significant was that we had never been to the United States and had never met anyone from Ligonier in person.

We arrived late one February evening in 2012. The next day, we shared a meal with some of Ligonier’s leadership team. I was suffering from severe jet lag, but I didn’t miss an important lesson: pixels are people. Our previous online interactions had not been between mere pixels on a screen; they were between people. They remembered things I had said (typed) as if I had said them face-to-face. It was also clear that this wasn’t the beginning of our friendship. It was the continuation of a preexisting relationship. They knew me. I knew them. Pixels are people.

The Internet has changed the way we communicate. The ability of an individual to share a message has never been as easy or as far reaching. In March 2015, the world began watching NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spend a year aboard the International Space Station. He documented his experience through images he posted on Instagram. And last night, my parents blew kisses and said goodnight to their grandchildren. They live almost ten thousand miles away in Australia. Thank you, FaceTime.

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Michael Boling – Chat Don’t Spat

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There are times in every husband’s life they would soon rather forget had never taken place. Last night was just such an occasion for me; a time when I was quick to talk, slow to hear, and very quick to anger. We have all had those moments when we come home from a difficult day in the office dealing with angry customers, a seemingly never ending avalanche of work, or any number of other issues that take place daily in the work environment. After a busy day, we yearn for peace and quiet, time to relax and unwind, and for all those household functions to somehow magically have taken place during our absence.

We can all dream can’t we? Well last night was one of those days when after a hard day in the office I came home to what I perceived was a giant mess around the house. Shall we say from that point on I was not on my best behavior which resulted in a heated and not so pleasant conversation with my spouse to include words that were not in any list of biblically mandated actions that should represent godly speech. As soon as those words came out and the concomitant incorrect actions that accompanied those words were completed, I immediately realized what a fool in the biblical sense of the word I had been. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my wrongdoing and I made immediate amends with my wife, apologizing profusely for flying off the handle for really no reason.

Why do I share such a story? I share this rather unbecoming moment in my life to drive home the importance of being vigilant against the emotional outbursts and vehemence that accompany a spirit of anger. Could the house have been picked up a bit better and things placed in their proper location? Yes. Should the dishes have been taken care of, laundry started, floor swept and vacuumed, and homework completed? Yes. Does the lack of any of those events taking place provide cover and excuse for a husband and father to act the part of a foolish person? Unequivocally no!

God has much to say about the tongue and anger in Scripture. Ephesians 4:26-27 exhorts us “”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” This means that being upset is natural. It is what we do with that anger that is the fundamental issue. There is a vast difference between righteous indignation and misplaced rage. Flying off the handle because the dishes are still dirty in no way resides under the umbrella of righteous indignation. The Apostle Paul recognizes that we will become angry. There will be times in life that ruffle our feathers. Yet the command remains, “In your anger do not sin.” Anger is the Greek verb orgizō meaning “to be provoked to anger, be angry, be wroth.” When that urge to go all Incredible Hulk bubbles up, we are to put off such an approach in favor of patience and longsuffering and any number of other fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 29:11 states that “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” I can firmly state I was a fool last night in giving full and complete vent to my anger. This concept of venting is rooted in the Hebrew verb yatsa’ which connotes the idea of an emotion bursting forth or something departing out of someplace. In the case of anger, it portrays the idea of a fool letting loose this sinful attitude of rage and anger from a heart that has not learned to operate in the fruit of the Holy Spirit known as self-control. It is the wise man that “keeps himself under control.”

Another telling verse is found in Proverbs 19:11 which declares, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” The opposite of this verse is the man’s foolishness drives him to impatience and anger and it is his glory to hone in on an offense in anger. Some translations state it is a man’s discretion or prudence that gives him patience. Such a person is able to understand that which is important to be righteously angry about as opposed to instances that are just part of life and can be worked through with a little bit of biting the tongue.

So how does one gain such wisdom? It is quite simply really. There is only one place from which such wisdom flows and that is God. James 1:5 reminds us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” I know I lack wisdom more often than not in many aspects of life, especially this penchant for being foolish when it comes to anger. The road to a solution to such foolishness is to spend time in prayer and in the word of God. It involves putting on the full armor of God to resist the temptation to be angry and to sin in that angry outburst.

Such outbursts can create rather ugly situations, leaving in their wake hurt feelings, mistrust, and a root of bitterness in the hearts of those to whom the anger was directed. As a husband and a father, it is my responsibility to set the spiritual tone for the family and to be the example of what “be angry and do not sin” looks like in action. This is not easy and Scripture never claims it will be; however, the solution to correcting this error is quite simple – Ask God for help!

In your chats, do not spat but rather operate with wisdom, patience, and understanding. In doing so, you will not only be following the clear commands of God’s word, but you will also begin to become a more wiser husband and father in the process, being able to recognize what is important in life and what simply does not rise to the level of creating emotional chaos in the home about. Quite frankly, a few dirty dishes, laundry, unfinished homework, and some dirt on the floor are never more important than treating your family with love, compassion, and mercy.

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Marshall Segal – Don’t Go to Bed with Your Anger

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Anger is not just polarizing among people, but within a person — within me. Ironically, anger in others offends us, while anger in ourselves comforts us — scandal and consolation, both wrapped in red. To surrender our anger feels like mutiny against our own heart. To store our anger for another day feels like a warm fleece blanket on a cool winter night.

We’ve all felt the furnace of wrath rising in us like molten mercury in a thermometer. Different sparks light the fire for each of us: disappointment, failure, disagreement, stress, betrayal, finances, exhaustion, and more. Whatever it is on any given day, anger can leave us lying in bed, contemplating another one-night stand against someone (or everyone).

Then the ten words come to mind we’ve tried hard not to memorize: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). With that strange and familiar chorus ringing in our ears, we may begin to loosen our grip on our wrath and consider how to move toward a spouse, or parent, or son or daughter, or friend, or co-worker to confess, confront (if necessary), and reconcile.

But why? Well, because God said so. But have you ever stopped to think about the wisdom in treating every day as another excuse to forfeit our fury with one another? Consider five reasons (among many) why God is good to ask for our anger each night.

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