Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Sacrifice of Thanks-Giving

Did you know that giving thanks is considered a sacrifice by God? Psalm 116 describes this often overlooked aspect of gratefulness:
“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 116:17


Why would God regard thanks-giving as a sacrifice? What is the cost for those who are grateful?


Expressing gratefulness mandates that we surrender our natural tendency to murmur.

Complaining is often our instinctive default when things don’t go our way, while thankfulness requires effort. The good news is that you can cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" by choosing to thank God for what you do have rather than murmuring about what you don’t have.

Practical Ways to Demonstrate Gratefulness toward God:

  • Keep a Gratefulness Journal. Several years ago, I received a decorated notebook at an autumn ladies conference that I designated to record everyday and not so common blessings for which I am thankful. Listed within the pages are such things as gratefulness for God's provision and allowing us to join Him in meeting basic needs of others to protecting our daughters when during a car accident.
  • Begin each new day by thanking God for your health and strength and other blessings you usually take for granted.
  • Look for benefits in the things that normally cause you to murmur. 
  • Thank God for the trials He allows in your life for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
  • Sing songs of praise and thankfulness to the Lord.

Practical Ways to Demonstrate Gratefulness toward Others:

  • Tell them! Make a habit of saying “Thank you!”
  • Write letters or cards, thanking them for what they have done and for the qualities demonstrated through their actions.
  • Public recognition. Tell others about the kind deeds they did and how you have benefited by those deeds.
  • Give gifts of appreciation. The thoughtfulness behind the gift means more than the cost.
  • Spend time with them. Sometimes quality time or a special outing is more valuable than a letter or a gift.
  • Pray for them, and inform them of your prayers.

Thankfulness, like love, requires action. And just like any other character quality, the more we practice gratefulness, the more proficient we become.

Sacrificial thanks-giving soon transforms into consistent thanks-living.

Thankful Challenge:

Make a list of blessings in your life that you have to be thankful for and post the list in a prominent place (for most of us, that would be in the kitchen, near the sink or on the fridge). Whenever you feel the urge to murmur, read aloud from the list, thanking God for each blessing. By choosing gratefulness, you are surrendering to the Lord your right to complain.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Still Cooking in My Mama's Kitchen (Why Some Adult Daughters Remain at Home)

This is part 2 in the Stay-at-Home Adult Child series. 
Read part 1: Why Some Guys Never Leave the Nest here.

Once upon a time she was your darling baby girl, mommy and daddy's precious little princess. But time has passed and she's not so little anymore. You blink and suddenly your little sweet pea is a mature, grown woman. Now what?

Just a couple of generations ago there would be no question regarding the matter. It was simply taken for granted that daughters would continue to live at home with their family until the day they were married, no matter how long Prince Charming tarried.

In recent years the feminist movement has drastically changed the household landscape. Career-minded daughters now frequently head off to college before embarking on their journey into the wide-open world to forge their own independent path. College bound or not, most single women choose to live on their own before marriage.

There remains a remnant however, of women, growing in numbers, who have made the counter-cultural choice to remain at home under the protection and authority of their parents until marriage.

Several of these young ladies share their thoughts here regarding why they have decided that cooking in their mama's kitchen is the best option for them.

Emily Long, our third-born daughter, is a 22 year old Christ-follower, who is also a passionate singer, lover of many things including children, music, fiddling, helping and ministering to others, and a discipleship leader to a lovely group of girls. She writes occasionally at her blog (where you can also view the full-length, unabridged version of this post) at Bright Light in a Dark World

Why at the age of 22 am I still living at home? I am capable, responsible, and hard working. So why am I still "pining away at home, waiting by my window, looking out towards the road, singing 'Someday My Prince Will Come', while wiping my siblings' noses and slaving in my mother's kitchen?"

What do you think of when you hear the word "home"? I think of safety, love, care, concern, authority, and sharing. A place to share ideas, get advice, being with people who know your faults, and love you anyway. A place where you can be yourself, talk freely, and sleep without having to worry about your safety. I have no concern about where my next meal is going to come from, or fear that I will be rejected for my faith. I am surrounded by people I agree with on many subjects, and hold the same general convictions about things. I fit in. I am accepted as a person. I have my own talents, and I am encouraged to grow and strengthen them.

And, yes, this is where I have learned to cook, clean, care for children, lean on others for help, build people up, submit to authority, consider how hard marriage can be and what it takes to make it work, debate, and search out what I believe. I was not trained to just "grow up", I was trained how to thrive. All from the best teachers in the world; my parents.

I love it here, and wouldn't want to be any other place until it is time to start my own home, or unless God calls me to serve somewhere else.

Stephanie Farrar is a 23 year old daughter of the Living King who enjoys photography, children, and spending time with her family, which includes shopping with her mom and sisters. Other interests she pursues are playing the piano and sewing. Check out her photography page at Extraordinary Moments on Facebook.

The first reason I choose to remain at home is because of the headship protection. I believe that God gave us headship protection of our fathers. I don't believe that he would give that to us as females, let us loose from it because we don't need it, only to turn around and put us under the headship protection of our husband when we are married!

I believe these single years are a really special time in my life. I am able to focus on serving my family and continue to be a part of their day-to-day life, which is something that is lost when you are away from home or married.

Another great aspect is that living at home is much more affordable! I could never live out on my own as cheaply as living with my family.

Also, because I am not currently managing my own household, I have the time and availability to minister to others.

Hannah Porter is an industrious 20 year old who enjoys fiddling, serving and ministering to those in need, encouraging others believers,  and playing her ukulele. She is a member of the band Autumn's Dawn and writes lovely songs. She doesn't yet blog, but judging from the writing below, I think she should!  

While growing up in a solid Christ-Centered home my parents have patiently raised and taught me so much about life. In considering the question "Why do I choose to stay under my parents authority?" I realized this very thing has been one of my deepest struggles. I'm going to be real here, I stated they patiently raised me, I
was ‘the child who would question everything you do or say.’ Always asking "Why." That was me. Does anyone relate, or was that just me? On top of that, many times I’d do the very opposite of what you wanted. Unless I was somehow forced to comply or the reasoning was to my liking. Let's just say, I grew up being extremely willful, stubborn and conniving. Often internally resisting to do anything just because someone said so, or because I was supposed to. Most of the time I just wouldn't. Sum that up and then imagine how that little person, moving on into the teenage years, might take to the whole idea of staying under their parents authority. Yeah! Not so well. The Lord was faithful to work on my heart, drawing me to him. In my early teens I came to know a personal relationship with Christ. This changed a lot for me, especially since the Holy Spirit’s conviction was only getting stronger in the area of my defiance of authority.

I am now 20 years old, still living at home, and plan to do so until I marry. In this season of life, I've found I mostly spend my time investing in my family and others. Our home is open to everyone and we often have people coming and going all hours of the day; Which provides many opportunities to help out with daily household stuff! There are always opportunities to help Dad (as he runs his own company) with different things. I also play a lot of music, which I began studying at 8 years old. I really enjoy fiddling with a band, playing violin or piano for weddings, or just jamming around for fun!

But I must say a lot of my time is spent with our fast growing family. I have 5 siblings, 3 (soon to be 4) are married. All together there are 13 nieces and nephews (plus 2 on the way) for me to love on. Once my sister gets married in just a few short months, it will be me and my younger brother still living at home together with my wonderful Mom and Dad.

Question: what/who determines authority? God does (Romans 13:1). He is the One Who sets authorities in place.

Another question pops into my mind: What is an authority? An authority is someone who has been given the right to give direction, make decisions, and enforce obedience. They are also given the responsibility to protect and guard. They often have quite a bit of power to influence you and situations in your life. When I was young, even though I understood this, I would always come back to one thought that was frustrating to me - "Just because I am born to two people in this world, does that instantly make them my authority?" Sort of! I have learned there is something deeper to it than that though... It is much more then just being born that decides who is your authority. Clearly our Heavenly Father is the Ultimate Authority. And it is God who places others in authority over us.

God commands us to honor and obey our parents. The issue is, while obedience can be forced, submission from the heart cannot. That is one reason why a daily growing walk with Christ is vital for every follower of Christ, and for me especially. It is a daily choice, choosing to submit to those whom God has ordained as authorities.To me, this whole thing is a heart matter and decision, not just simply a direct “You Must Stay Under Your Parents Authority” command. I see that some times as Christians we get so caught up in the commands, but totally miss the heart of the command.

Therefore the question at hand: Why do I choose to remain under the authority of my parents? My answer: God has clearly shown us in His word,that my Dad is head of our family, as Christ is head of the Church. My Mom is his completer in that task, and fellow comrade through life.

I have the freedom and choice to stay under their authority, or choose someone other than my parents to come under. For me the simple fact remains, I am a Bond Servant of Jesus Christ.I have chosen to live by faith, through God revealing His desire, and stay under my parents authority. Simply because it is honoring to the Lord for me to do so. (1 Peter 2:13-17) I believe that the command given to honor and obey my parents (Ephesians 6:1-3) also reflects the heart of God for me to recognize the direct authority figure he has selectively placed in my life by His perfect design. Submitting to them with the complete purpose of honoring and glorifying my Heavenly Father. Trusting in Him to work through my parents' authority on my behalf according to his will and purposes for my life.

As far as I'm concerned, it is a matter of fully trusting and submitting to my King!

Stephanie Long is our eldest daughter at home, and my right arm gal. She is the lead singer and guitarist of The Long Family Singers ministry, enjoys sharing her love of music through teaching guitar and flute, while also working for a local weaver. She keeps our family informed of the political arena and current world events. Her heroine is Janet Parshall.

I have learned a many great skills while living at home such as life management and how to direct all my siblings to work together to accomplish any given task.

I've learned firsthand how to run a home and have had lots of practice. I'm grateful that when I get married someday, I will be equipped and prepared and won't be wondering what on earth am I supposed to do?

At the age of 26, I realize and acknowledge that I don't know it all. Since I am a fairly gullible person, who knows what traps I might fall into if I wasn't under my dad's protection?

Another aspect of living at home that I truly appreciate is being with the ones I've grown up with, because they are all very important to me. Until I'm married, I am able to daily interact with the family God has placed me in and continue to cultivate relationships and continue learning from them.

For me, home is the very best place to be!

Rachelle Myers is an enthusiastic 19 year old who is currently enrolled in college courses, while passing on the gift of music by teaching piano, as well as playing in the church orchestra. She blesses others with her charming smile and quick wit.

What is the purpose of being under the authority of parents in the home?

Many people have thought of the whys, or hows, or even joys of staying at home until marriage, which is all good! But I decided to come by a different perspective: what does it mean to stay at home?

Think of a picture like a link from us to God: At the top is God and His Son, Jesus; below God are our parents, and then us. God places our parents as authority over us, and under Him, as delegates. Yes, He does directly lead us through His Word, but God created parents to lead us until we cleave to our husbands. Romans 13:1 says "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." And what are we appointed to do? “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1. Have a question about anything in life? Always ask God, but ask your parents too. God created them to be delegates from Him to you, so usually what they say will be what God wants you to hear (and yes, that can be especially hard for us teens).

Now what happens when we decide to honor authority? First of all, honoring authority comes from love. We love Jesus, right? If we love Him, we want to obey him, right? It’s the same for staying under the authority of parents. If we love them, we’d want to stay at home and follow what they say. That being said, if we reject Christ’s love, then we become under the authority of our own self-man’s nature. To reject our parents is to reject Christ. They are His direct line from Him to us until we leave our parents and cleave to our husband and become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). In this way, to rebel away from the family/parents’ and into the world is to leave His protection.

This is what it means to stay at home. God has given your parents as leaders in your life to follow in their will, and thereby God's. Outside of His will and away from parents’ authority, the world becomes your new authority, your sinful nature leading to destruction and separation. But under God's will, staying under your parents authority, He will give you everything you need (Matthew 6:33). 

God will direct your life through your parents. So listen to them. ;)

In the Bible we generally see daughters remaining under their father's headship until marriage, being supported and protected by him until another man assumes that role as her husband. I've found nothing that indicates that it would be considered a sin to send your daughter away to college, however there are principles that indicate that it can be unwise, exposing her to temptations and dangers that would be best to avoid.


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