Three for Thursday: Featured Posts for 10/4/12

Below you will find three blog posts I’ve read recently that have stood out to me as having excellent information. If you’re a regular reader of our blog you know we have a diverse set of interests. These posts reflect that diversity.

Physical Health

Tips For Burning More Fat With Cold Thermogenesis

You know we’re all about using the cold to improve health. In fact, we just started a log of our cold exposure that we’ll be sharing with you soon. This is an excellent post by Ben Greenfield explaining why using ice for health and weight loss works. He includes a great bibliography in the post as well.

Spiritual Health

The Wife of Influence: 13 Wives in 13 Days….Wives of the Bible Series

 This is a fantastic blog series idea. Jolene, from The Alabaster Jar, is writing a series on 13 wives in the Bible and what we can learn from them. In this first post, Jolene introduces the notorious Eve.

“She frustrates me to no end. I know no one is perfect, but come on now, when was the last time you took counsel from a….. Snake!  Really, a snake? This woman needs no introduction because we all know she is Eve. She’s THE woman who caused the fall of mankind because she was deceived.”

Want to read more? Go check out Jolene’s blog and read the words of challenge and encouragement she gives to wives in this post. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the posts in this series!

Homeschooling & Family

How to Host a Reformation Day Celebration

Gena, from IChooseJoy.org, shares her Reformation Day celebration ideas. I had never even thought of having a Reformation Day party, but what a cool idea! I’m so excited by the idea that I’ve talked with another family from church and they’re willing to not only host but also plan the party! How cool is that? In case you wondered, Reformation Day is October 31st.

We hope you enjoy one or more of these posts as much as we did!

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Why I Baptized My Babies (Summary)

Thanks to everyone who has been reading my series on infant baptism. I’ve tried to outline the reasons why my opinion shifted from a creedobaptist to a paedobaptist position.

Below you’ll see a listing of all the posts in this series.

Part 1 – Covenant Kids

What started my journey was the nagging question: Just how does God see my kids? As part of the church? Totally lost? His people? Pagans? I started out completely closed to the idea of infant baptism. But I wanted to know who my children were in the eyes of God. This opened the door to my exploration.

Part 2 – All in the Family

My first stop along this journey was when I started to embrace a more biblical view of the family. While I didn’t find paedobaptist arguments convincing yet, I found myself more and more drawn to their understanding of God’s covenant community and covenant family.

Part 3 – My Objections

I had some serious objections to infant baptism. This post outlines 4 critical ones.

Part 4 Circumcision: A Seal of the Promise

If it’s true that infants in the church should be baptized like those in the old covenant were circumcised, this would mean that circumcision held profound spiritual significance. But as someone from a baptistic background, I believed circumcision was merely a mark of Jewish ethnic identity. I needed to have this notion overturned.

Part 5 God’s Generational Faithfulness

One of the reasons I rejected the idea of infant baptism was because I believed an advantage of the new covenant was that only professing believers would be considered a part of God’s people. Therefore only believers should be given the mark of membership. The old covenant was too inclusive, I thought, embracing members by virtue of their parentage and not their faith. In order to buy into infant baptism, this assumption needed to be dismantled.

Part 6 – From Circumcision to Baptism

In order to believe in infant baptism, I needed to believe baptism somehow replaced circumcision, but there are no statements in the Bible to this effect. Why do paedobaptists believe baptism is the New Testament counterpart to circumcision?

Part 7 – Baptized Born Again Believers

My biggest objection to infant baptism was my belief that baptism is always linked to a personal profession of faith and a believer’s personal union with Christ. How could an infant be united to Christ? How could we baptize someone who is unable to profess faith? If paedobaptists couldn’t explain this one, there was no way they would win me to their side.

Part 8 – The Household Connection

With my objections answered, I searched for some sign from the New Testament that baptism was for more than just professing believers. I originally believed the absence of infant baptisms in the Bible was a clear indication that it was wrong: I later came to see this silence as one of the greatest arguments for it.

Part 9 – The Difference It Makes

Since my children have been baptized, how has this new theological position changed the way I think about baptism? About God? About my kids?

Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 9)

In these last 8 posts I’ve been telling the story of my move from the Baptist to the paedobaptist position. While I’ve attempted to give a reasoned defense of this position, my posts are as much biographical as they are theological. I’ve only outlined specific aspects of this debate with which I personally wrestled, certainly not every possible angle or every relevant Bible passage.

For this final post, I want to share what difference this change has made in my life.

How I understand baptism

I used to believe baptism was first and foremost saying something about me: I am united with Christ; I am forgiven; I am born again. But now I see baptism as first something about Christ.

Credobaptists and paedobaptists alike agree that the act of baptism symbolizes or demonstrates spiritual realities. But historically there has been a great divergence of opinion over what exactly it symbolized in baptism. Continue reading

Child Training Bible: Winner of our Giveaway

We had more than 80 entries for the Child Training Bible kit (a $9 value). Today’s winner will be getting the Child Training Bible Key, three Scripture Tabbing Charts, and assembly instructions.

We placed all the names in a list randomizer. Then I called my mother-in-law and asked her to choose a number at random.

And the winner is…

Tami Lewis!

Enjoy your Child Training Bible! For everyone else, please go to ChildTrainingBible.com and check out their products!

The Child Training Bible: Review & Giveaway!

I was so excited to have the chance to review the Child Training Bible (CTB). I am always on the look-out for resources that can assist Luke and I as we seek to raise our four sons in a way that will glorify God.

More specifically, the integration of Scripture into the lives our children is something we continually seek after. It’s not always easy having Scripture on the tips our tongues that correspond with behaviors and attitudes we see in our children though. Continue reading

Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 8)

Eventually I came to what I believed was the crux of the debate about baptism. The crucial question I asked myself was: Is it likely the apostles understood baptism as a household rite and ceremony, like circumcision was, or is it more likely they understood it as something only meant for individuals—specifically believers?

The Baptist in me saw a clear case for baptizing individual believers: the Bible speaks to baptized men and women as if their baptism meant something to them personally—as if it went hand-in-hand with their conversion. Baptist and paedobaptist alike recognize that baptism in the New Testament is coupled with conversion. But going back to our crucial question, I asked myself: Was conversion to the faith something only individuals did, or was it something for whole households as well?

The Covenant with Abraham’s Household

The Bible is full of covenants, solemn agreements between God and specific groups of people. A foundational covenant God established between Himself and His chosen people is the Abrahamic covenant. God’s first promise to Abraham has profound implications for us:

“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

God would spend the rest of Abraham’s lifetime spelling out the implications of these promises and building on them: a promised land, a promised family and nation, and a promised blessing. God would later ratify these promises through a formal compact or covenant (Genesis 15:18; 17:1-14; Exodus 2:24).

There are many aspects to this covenant, but three observations are relevant to our discussion of baptism. Continue reading

10 Biblical Reasons We Should Appreciate Wine

If you know me well, you know I make my own beer and wine. If you know me really well, you know I really enjoy a frosty mug of IPA or a nice glass of Malbec.

But on more than one occasion I’ve been asked how I could possibly defend my enjoyment of alcohol being a Christian.

I believe the more we embrace a Biblical worldview, the more we will learn to appreciate the good gifts God has given to us, and that includes wine.

I also understand there are some who believe differently than me in this matter. It is not my point here to “quarrel over opinions” (Romans 14:1). Food and drink are not central matters when it comes to gospel-living. As Paul said, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (v.17).

My only point here is to share with you some of what I’ve learned from God’s Word that has informed my opinions about alcohol. Why do I think it is biblical to appreciate wine? Continue reading

Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 7)

As a father wrestling with this question about infant baptism, after studying this subject for a year or so, I looked back and realized how far my opinions had shifted.

  • I had started to celebrate the truth of God’s “generational faithfulness“: God promises his kindness to my children and their children after them. God considers my children to be a part of His covenant community. They are considered holy, set apart unto Him.
  • I started to embrace the belief that the sign of circumcision, given to Abraham, was not merely an ethnic sign: in it God sealed Abraham’s family as his own and signed to them His promise of righteousness.
  • I started to understand that baptism in the New Testament occupies the place circumcision had in the Old. I could see more of the parallels between these two rites.

But I then came to what I considered the linchpin of my whole baptistic theology. This was the one objection to infant baptism that I believed was insurmountable. It seemed to me, reading through the New Testament, that baptism and personal salvation go hand-in-hand. If infant baptism is a biblical practice, why is baptism so commonly paired with personal faith in Christ? If infant baptism is right, why is baptism often paired with regeneration? Can infants have saving faith? Can they be born again?

This was the one area of baptistic theology I was most unwilling to yield. I thought, of course there is continuity between the Old and New Testaments, between circumcision and baptism, but aren’t there also discontinuities? Yes, God’s covenant with Abraham embraces both testaments, but there is also progression, isn’t there? As I read the New Testament, it seemed one of the fundamental changes between circumcision and baptism is who receives the covenant sign: before, the sign was given by virtue of family connection, but now it is given to those who profess personal faith. Continue reading

4 Reasons Why Men Like Porn

Recently this post was republished by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. I originally wrote it for Covenant Eyes. I’d love to get your take on this subject.

. . . .

A Conversation Guide for Accountability Partners

One of the tasks of a good friend or accountability partner to someone who is entrenched in pornography is to help them understand their own heart. Why do they run to porn again and again? Solomon reminds us that “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water” (we often can’t see our own motivations) “but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5). A wise friend helps to draw out of others the deeper motivations they are unable or unwilling to see in themselves.

As an accountability partner, it is important to understand the allure of pornography: What deeper motivations keep men coming back to it again and again? What are good accountability questions we can ask to get to the root of the problem?

1. Porn is easy, but relationships are hard.

Relationships, especially our closest relationships, involve work. Every day we are required to care what’s going on in others’ lives. We must put up with sour moods, offensive behavior, and selfishness—both in ourselves and in others.

In contrast, porn offers men a feeling of risk-free intimacy. Pornography offers men a fantasy world where they are required to know nobody, require no romance, and no self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. And for many men the payoff is great: not only can they avoid the messiness of real relationships, they can also feel the delight of a million virtual women catering to their every whim.

Good Accountability Question: Has there been a relationship in your life recently that has been unusually difficult? Continue reading

Bible Memory with Children

As I discussed in a prior post, Bible memory is a very important part of our family devotions. It is a discipline we believe has a lasting impact even on our young children. It’s a discipline we believe we will reap the benefits of for the rest of our lives.

We begin Bible memorization with our boys as soon as they are able to put sentences together. It seems like this was around 2 years old for both Bradley and Cameron. We begin working through full chapters or large portions of chapters with our children and shy away from individual verses (though there are exceptions).

Some have skeptically asked how children so young can be expected to memorize long portions of scripture, to which we heartily respond that childhood is the perfect time to memorize scripture. Young children are like sponges. They retain a vast amount of information with relative ease.

What technique do we use?

The technique we use with our children is the same as we use ourselves. It really isn’t anything fancy. First, we choose a passage we’d like to work on as a family. Then, we begin by going over the first verse or the first part of the first verse if it happens to be a long verse. We go over that several times and have the kids repeat after us. As nights progress we quiz each other on the segment. When most of us seem to have it, we then add the next portion of scripture, continuing to recite what we have already mastered. We continue in this manner until we have the whole passage memorized.

We recite the scripture during our family bedtime devotions and the kids and I work on the passage first thing in the morning as part of the first school subject of the day: memory time. We use the Charlotte mason memory system, for many more things than just Bible memory, and we’ve found it has really helped us move information into our long term memory.

If you are looking for some good passages to start with the following is a list of a few our family has worked on: Psalm 1, Psalm 130, Psalm 131, and Romans 12. I’d urge you to begin scripture memory as a family now! Helping your children learn this discipline young is ideal. Don’t be intimidated by longer passages. Even if it takes you a year or more to memorize a chapter, the spiritual rewards you will reap are worth the time and effort.

We would enjoy hearing more from you, our readers. What scriptures have you enjoyed memorizing with your children? Are there any tricks or tips you have for helping you kids (or yourself) memorize the Bible?