Updated FREE Plan for Family Devotions (New Hymn Selections) - Please Share

As we wrote in a former blog post, we at Living Planted believe that singing together as a family is an important part of gathering the family around God and His Word each day. Singing helps place God's eternal truth into our minds and hearts like almost nothing else can do.

However, we understand that the thought of singing in a small group can be rather daunting for some people. And so, we decided to try to go back and make sure the hymns we suggested using both match the theme for the day and yet also were the most singable tunes we could find.

We are proud to announce that a new version of our core resource is now on the website with an updated hymn selection. Obviously, if the first version is working fine for your family, you can continue to use it. But if you are starting new, we would encourage using this new version of this resource.

Also, we want to make clear, that we understand what one family or small group might find singable differs from another.  We have found this to be true even as we discuss our recommendations among ourselves.  So, if there is a hymn that your family simply does not seem to be able to sing, choose another one you might already know that goes with the theme.  If you can not think of one, simply choose any hymn and continue to sing. We believe that it is better to sing something even if it does not go with the theme for the day then to simply skip what God calls us to do by singing. Again, we believe that the Scriptures are full of evidence that God intends for His people to always be singing about Him, His ways, and His Son Jesus.

We would love it also if you would share this blog post to make more people aware of this free resource that they can use in their homes. Also, keep an eye on our site and blog. While there has not been a lot of activity recently, have no doubt we are working on more resources to help you live the Christian Life at home.

What Christians do with Outrage? (in light of Orlando) Talk about it at home.

The story has been everywhere and rightfully so.  A Muslim man enters a nightclub frequently mostly by those who identify themselves as LBGT and opens fire.  The reports say that at least part of the motive was his outrage over homosexual affection he had seen around him in public.  No one knows whether this outrage found Islamic extremism or whether Islamic extremism found this outrage.  Regardless the two came together and this man chose mass violence to manifest his outrage and ideology.  Some are suggesting that this is just the natural outcome of anyone who is "extreme" about their religion.  Those who will not give up any of their beliefs are being painted as hateful people just waiting to explode.  But this simply is not true.  Especially for those in Christ.

It is true.  All of us get outraged at times. We see someone else do something that is particularly repugnant in our eyes. Our pulse rises, our blood pressure rises, and we want to act. Sometime our rage is directed at something that is evil. Other times we get so upset just because we selflessly want something to be different than it is.

But what do we do with that anger? Well, regardless of the inspiration for it, we are to take that anger to the one true God, the Triune God.

Our latest resource at Living Planted expands on this thought.  There are all sorts of issues worthy of discussion that have been touched by the news this weekend.  We hope to help you at least begin those conversations with this resource.  This is one of our Good News resources that tries to help you take events from the new into your home in a way that fosters godly conversations.  Check out all of the Good New resources at this page.  You can also like us on Facebook.

Thinking Through Severe Storms as Christians - FREE RESOURCE

Especially in the center of our country, the storms just keep coming. And these types of storms are very good at capturing everyone's attention.  The loud thunder, the bolts of electrically charged light, and the poundings of various sorts of precipitation demand to be heard and seen.  But when they have our attention, what are we to think about?  Should our thoughts extend only as high as the clouds or beyond?

Is the weather a force largely under God's control?  Is there a Mother Nature that controls all of these things?  Is it all just the result of a bunch of complex variables that one day the scientists will finally understand?

The Scriptures would suggest that God is no doubt at work when weather captures our attention.  He uses it to his ends, namely calling all to repentance and faith.  Help your family understand this oft forgotten truth with Living Planted's newest Good News Resource on God's use of such events for our eternal good.  Each Good news resource in available to download as a single page pdf file.  Download it and print it out and you are ready to discuss this truth with those living in your home.  Check out our other resources as well.  And don't forget to like us on Facebook.

The Beauty of Marriage - Nancy Reagan - Wife in Chief

The nation is mourning the loss of Nancy Reagan.  And while she is remembered for many things, many have noted that she always made clear that her first responsibility was to care for Ronald (or "Ronnie" as she called him) as his wife.  And at least in public, it always seemed like that responsibility to her was a grand privilege.  She famously gazed lovingly time and time again at her husband.  And when one thinks of him and her together, you can't help but rejoice in the gift of marriage itself.  They were unquestionably each better in their own lives because they had each other.

Oh their marriage was not perfect behind closed doors I am sure and President Reagan had a failed marriage before that one, but that should not stop us from lauding marriage appropriately today. As we mourn the loss of Nancy, let us also meditate upon the beauty of marriage.  Let us see her gaze and gaze upwards ourselves to the One who has given marriage itself to humanity as a great gift.

All of us have had bad experiences related to marriage whether as children, spouses, or onlookers.  Our world would like us to believe that marriage is a relic to be filed away in the past.  Today then is a great day to reflect with your family on what a treasure marriage truly is when God is given charge of it.  Use our NEW one page resource on the beauty of marriage to talk about this in your home.  It will only take a few minutes and may have great impact on all those living in your home.   

Check out all of our resources at LivingPlanted.com and like us on Facebook.

New Resource Added - Wisdom Revealed Volume 3

Volume Three of Wisdom Revealed is now available on our resources page.  This volume contains more wisdom from Proverbs 10.  The following proverbs are discussed:

  • “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.”  Proverbs 10:29
  • “The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.” Proverbs 10:30
  • “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.”  Proverbs 10:32  
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Wisdom Revealed is our resource that seeks to bring the wisdom contained in the book of Proverbs into open discussion in the home.  All wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, faith in His saving work through Christ.  But the wisdom God offers to His people does not end there.  It always returns there, but never ends there.  Each volume of Wisdom Revealed contains three proverbs, each followed by a brief discussion of the wisdom contained in it.  After reading one or all three of these proverbs and their explanations, simply engage in discussion about how this wisdom is seen in life and can be further lived out in life.  Confess to one another how each member of the family has failed often to live according to the wisdom given.  Return to Christ for forgiveness.

Singing Together in the Home - A FREE RESOURCE

It is a thought that can bring fear and trembling into some homes.  In others, it is a joy to think about.  What am I talking about?  Singing in the home.  Specifically singing hymns and spiritual songs together in the home.  There are some homes that have musical talent galore.  One person can play the piano, another can sing melody, and yet another loves to harmonize.  Then there are other homes where it might feel like even coming close to singing the melody of a familiar hymn properly would be a great accomplishment.

Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." 

Notice that verse does not mention any level of skill required.  We as God's people are to sing together as a sign of our thankfulness to God for His goodness and salvation.  We make joyful noise to Him, on or off key.  It is part of how God gets His Word to dwell richly in us.

Music has special way of connecting a message to our minds and hearts unlike almost anything else.  Even in a world that increasingly hates the thought of memorizing anything, people can still rattle of the lyrics of a hymn or popular song with ease.  That is the power of music.  It binds the heart and mind together seamlessly.

As long as music has existed, it has always been part of the worship of God’s people.  In fact, music’s highest work is done when it connects the words and promises of God to our minds and hearts. For music filled with the promises of God can bring mourning people comfort and hopeful people joy.   It can teach the simple and make the wise even wiser.

Living Planted has created our core resource with this in mind. A Simple Approach To Daily Devotions is an easy way for those gathered together in one home to sing together. Each week there is a hymn for the family to sing that echoes the themes of the Scripture and memory work suggested for that week.  Download our core resource today on our resources page under the heading Core Resources.  Then get started using it.  If you have questions, comment below or email us.  And don't forget to like our Facebook page in order to not miss future posts and resources.

If you need accompaniment for the hymns, you might look on this website for free resources.  You will find music (.mp3) files for most of the hymns suggested there. (We are not affiliated in any way with this website.)

Resolutions: For Christians?

Resolutions are something most people think about at this time of year.  Some end up making them while others decide their lack of success in keeping resolutions made in former years make the practice of creating new ones not worth the effort.  Those who do make them end up with varying levels of success in keeping them.  No one keeps them perfectly.

Should Christians make resolutions even though we understand the weakness of the flesh? Since we know that we will not keep them perfectly, should we bother at all?

Romans six says of believers, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

Martin Luther said that such dying and rising occurs day by day as the Christian confesses sin and is forgiven by God.   The book of Hebrews tells us that we are to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works."  So, as God gives us new life each day and yes each year, it is good that we would embrace practices that lead us back to His Word and His Son Jesus.

We might say that all other resolutions we make this year are of some value, but resolutions that seek godliness "have value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." (1 Timothy 4:8)

Here at Living Planted, we believe strongly that daily devotions in the home truly hold value for all things.  We invite you to start this New Year in daily prayer and time in God's life-giving Word as a family or individual by using our core resource, A Simple Guide to Daily Devotions which contains a format for daily devotions and a chart that gives you specific Scriptures, hymns, and memory work to use each week.  You can start anytime with our chart, but why not start with week one of the New Year?  This resource is completely free.  Just download it and print it out on legal paper.  Or use it directly from your computer or other device.  If you start using it, we would love to hear what you think.  May God bless your New Year through His Word.

Memorizing - Thing of the past? Or something that should be happening in your home?

Memorizing is often seen in our day as something that used to be done when less sophisticated teaching techniques were not available.  Many claim that they simply cannot memorize anything anymore.  Others claim memory work is just too rote for something as dynamic as the Christian life.

The Scriptures repeatedly call (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 63:6, Psalm 143:5) for God's people to meditate upon  His Word.  And there is perhaps no better way to meditate upon a word than to have it stored in your head and heart. That way meditation can occur at any time or in any place, even when a Bible is not close. The process of committing something to memory is meditation in itself since memorization requires repetition.   Each word memorized is heard time and time again.

There are other benefits as well.  No on can take away what is in your head and heart.  Regardless of where you are or what you are doing, the promises of God will still be with you.  Also ,things memorized tend to be stored in long term memory and are not easily forgotten especially if they are memorized over an extended period of time.  Pastors often marvel at how dementia patients who have forgotten so much still have memorized Scriptures, hymns, and pieces of the liturgy at their beckon call.  Finally, as the Word of Christ dwells in us richly, it influences our thoughts, words, and deeds.  That Word is living and active inside of us.

Living Planted has created our core resource, A Simple Approach To Daily Devotions, as an easy way for those gathered together in one home to memorize the Scriptures together. We also encourage memorizing the key teachings of the Scriptures as they are summarized in Martin Luther's Small Catechism.  Download our core resource today on our resources page under the heading Core Resources.  Then get started using it.  If you have questions, comment below or email us.  And don't forget to like our Facebook page in order to not miss future posts and resources.

Loner Kills at Planned Parenthood Clinic. Talk about it at home.

You have probably heard about it.  Maybe your kids did also.  Just last week another mass shooting.  There are many things that could be talked about in regards to this killing.  But one thing that seems to come up time and time again in these tragedies is that the killers are loners.   The New York Times reports this about the latest loner acting out in violence.

Van Wands, 58, whose wife owns a local saloon, said there were two types of people in the area: the old-timers who put effort into getting to know their neighbors, and the newcomers who wished for solitude. Mr. Dear, he said, fell solidly into the second category.
“That’d be one that preferred to be left alone,” he said.

Living Planted has a resource to help you discuss from a biblical standpoint the dangers of living isolated from other people . Download it now and use it in you home.   Get all of our resources at this link.

A Thanksgiving Day Resource For Your Home

LivingPlanted.com is always happy when good resources are produced for use in the home. Thanksgiving is a time when all Christians know that prayer and thanksgiving to God should be at the center of our celebrations.  How to do this while managing all of the other details of providing hospitality on this day is sometimes the hard part to figure out.  LC-MS (the church body to which both founders of Living Planted belong) Worship has produce a resource that looks very easy to use.  Print it out for each guest now before all the other demands of the day come crashing down.  We heartily recommend it.