Category Archives: Family

Sneaky Idols

I think it was the great “philosopher” Yogi Berra who said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” In his unique way, he said something that is really true.

The following thought may not be quite as profound as that, but I think that it is also true. I think one can hear a lot just be listening. It might be a bit more accurate to suggest that a person can learn a lot just by listening.

It seems that real listening is happening less and less. All you have to do is to watch and listen to some of the “talking heads” on cable news channels. They all talk at the same time. Nobody seems to be really listening to anybody else’s point of view. Each person seems to be intent on presenting his or her own point of view as loudly and as forcefully (and sometimes as rudely) as they can. 

Fortunately, I was listening to one of my fellow elders a little while back. I’m glad I was not trying to talk while he was talking. I’m also glad I wasn’t distracted to the point that I did not catch something he said.

He was talking about the sin of idolatry. Specifically, he was talking about people in the Bible who made their own idols and worshiped them. 

He then said this (and I’m pretty sure this is word-for-word):

“Their idols were intentional. Ours just kind of sneak up on us.”

I believe that he is right about that. 

I know he was right about the first part. We do, in fact, read in the Bible about people and nations who built “gods” and foolishly worshiped them. 

Sadly, there are people and places today where exactly the same thing is done. Years ago, I made two mission trips to India. Unless you have been there yourself, you cannot fully comprehend how many idols, temples, altars, etc. there are in that nation.

I think that most of us know that India is only one nation where this is a normal and accepted way of life. It would be impossible to know for sure how many millions of people live and worship lifeless idols.

However, as sad as that it, it was the second part of his statement that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about recently. I’m wondering if it would also be impossible to know how many people worship idols that “sneak up on us.” Those “idols” and those people are the ones that concern me the most. I even wonder if I might see one of those people when I look in the mirror.

I recently was asked to speak on priorities. While working on that lesson, I came across a quote that is both simple and profound at the same time. 

Our priorities are best reflected by how we spend our time.

I think that the quote could be “tweaked” a little to reflect what my brother had in mind when he made his statement. Here are some “tweaks” that come to mind.

Our idols are those things (and people) with which (whom) we spend the greatest amount of time.

Our idols are those things (and people) which (who) consume the bulk of our resources.

Our idols are those things (and people) about which (whom) we are most excited.

Our idols are those things (and people) to which (whom) we are the most loyal.

I suppose the list could go on and on, but I think that those statements are enough to prompt some self-examination. I know it has caused me to do some of that. 

My brother’s statement helped to make me a little more alert to some real dangers. I’ve always known that God will not accept any place other than first place in my life. I’ve been reminded that I need to be alert to those “sneaky idols” that could cost me my soul.

I love my wife, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren. I have some very good friends with whom I enjoy spending time. I am very thankful to live in the society in which I live and the freedoms and rights I have merely because I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am thankful for those who have defended those freedoms and rights in the past and those who continue to do so today. I am grateful to have so many modern conveniences and opportunities for both employment and recreation. I am grateful for my education and the financial resources with which I have been blessed. 

However, I need to be careful to not let any or all of that come between my Father and me. If I do, I might as well build an altar on which to offer a sacrifice or erect a statue and bow down to it. 

How about you? Have any idols “sneaked up” on you?


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: pavan on Creative Commons

Episode 87: Polishing the Pulpit Preview, “Is Satan Stealing Our Families?” and More! [Podcast]

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On this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah talk about the beginning of the homeschool year. Then, they preview Polishing the Pulpit, both in general and some of the lessons they are presenting. Finally, they discuss a great article about how things that are not sinful can begin to eat away at our families and become idols. Resources below.

Links

Polishing the Pulpit [Homepage]

Polishing the Pulpit Schedule [pdf]

Is Satan Stealing Our Families?” [Brie Gowen]

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Me and _______

In 1972, a singer by the name of Billy Paul recorded and released Me and Mrs. Jones. Even if you have not heard the song, you might guess that, in the words of the song, “We got a thing going on.”

I’m sure that, when that song was released, both preachers and English teachers were disturbed. Preachers (and anybody else concerned about biblical morality) were probably and justifiably concerned about the open way in which two people who had no right to be meeting were, in fact, doing just that at a designated place and time every day.

English teachers probably pulled their hair out because of at least two phrases in the song. After all, would it have been all that difficult to say “We’ve got a thing going on” instead of We?

There is another phrase in the song, however, that English teachers today might not even notice. It is used a lot. It is used so often that it “sounds right” to many people. 

It is still wrong!

I really try not to be a grammar Nazi. I make enough of my own mistakes to keep me from being overly critical of others.

At the same time, I cringe every time I hear “Me and _____” instead of “_____ and I.”

I am afraid that more is being communicated than a lack of understanding of, and appreciation for, the English language. For one thing, I am wondering if there is a subtle indictment of our entire educational system since I have heard college graduates routinely use that phrase. 

It seems that I’m hearing that phrase almost everywhere I go. I even hear it when I stay home and turn on my television or radio. I’ve heard educators use that phrase. I’ve heard politicians use it. I’ve heard it from pulpits.   

It really doesn’t matter where I hear it; where it is said; or who says it. What bothers me the most is that there seems to be a (probably unintended) elevation of the person using that phrase over any other person in the discussion. If that is the case, it would be just the opposite of the biblical injunction to “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3, ESV). 

I realize that I make more than my share of mistakes and that each mistake has the potential of hindering my effectiveness as I try to represent Christ and win others to Him. I also know that other subjects are much more import than this one. I just thought I’d weigh in on this particular one at this time.

I’ll save other concerns for a whole nother discussion.

See! I told you I wasn’t perfect either!!


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: Wesley Fryer on Creative Commons

A Television Commercial, A Phone Call, & A Public Service Announcement

Since I don’t pay much attention to television commercials for alcoholic beverages, I almost missed something I think is important. You may not agree that it is important, but maybe you will agree that it is at least interesting and thought-provoking.

The commercial was for Jack Daniels whiskey. Did I really hear what I thought I’d heard? Were they really saying that the town in which this beverage is distilled is “dry?” 

I did some checking on the internet and found out that this was, indeed, what they were saying. The sale of alcoholic beverages is against the law in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I found out more than that. I discovered that the entire county (Moore County) is “dry!” 

When I found that out, my mind went back to an incident that took place possibly a quarter of a century ago. I was working on some material about the dangers involved in drinking alcoholic beverages. I decided to make an unusual phone call.

At that time, we lived about twenty miles or so from a distributor for a major beer company. I decided to place a call to this business and do a little “unusual research.”

I did everything I could to keep them from thinking that I was trying to “ambush” them. I identified myself as a preacher and explained what I was doing to the person with whom I was talking. I then asked what I thought was a fairly simple question: “Do you allow the drivers of your trucks to drink?”

The person on the other end of the call seemed to be incredulous. As I remember it, the question was: “Do you mean while they are working?” 

When I answered that this was what I was asking, you would have thought from the reaction on the other end of the line that the person knew she was dealing with a real nut case. Her answer was emphatic: “Of course not!” 

I had a follow-up question: “Not at all?” The other person in the conversation quickly and firmly assured me that this was the policy. Once again, I thought I could tell from the tone of her voice that she thought I needed to “get some help.”

Here is where we are so far. The entire county in which a famous whiskey is distilled is dry. Also, the policy of a distributor for what is probably the largest beer company in the world is that they will not allow their drivers to use their product while they are “on the clock.” 

What does all of this have to do with a public service announcement? Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere for quite some time, you’ve probably both seen and heard it.

Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

Since I am a preacher (at least part-time now), I might be expected to approach everything from a biblical perspective. I decided to approach this slightly differently this time. Instead of questioning and/or arguing about exactly what the Bible teaches about the use of alcoholic beverages, I thought it might be good to let different sources weigh in on the discussion.

It seems to me that, even if I had never seen a Bible, I would have a pretty good reason to avoid alcohol altogether. After all; what other product can you think about that never wants you to see their best customers?

Since I do have a Bible, I understand that my purpose in life is to do my best to glorify God in all that I do. I, for one, would find that very difficult to do with a can of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of whiskey in my hand.


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 86: A Powerful Phrase for Moms, Phases in Parenting, and More! [Podcast]

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On this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah share an article with a great phrase for mothers to connect with other mothers, a post about the phrases of parenting, a good Bible reading resource, and some fun banter.

(But no music, due to a wild internet week.)

Enjoy it all–except the music–and find the resources below.

Resources

The Most Powerful Thing You Can Say to Another Mom” (PopSugar)

There’s More to Life Than This Temporary Phase” (Your Mom Has a Blog)

Bible Reading “Time” Chart (Facebook)

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Things I Noticed from a Visiting Youth Group

We have been blessed for the last few days to have a youth group from Arnold, Missouri visiting with us at our congregation in Paducah. There are twenty-four of them including chaperones, and they came our way to knock on doors in our community, invite people to our Vacation Bible School, help with that Bible School, and do other service projects in our community.

It has been extremely HOT for the last few days, but they worked tirelessly at the jobs they were assigned.

Jim and I were blessed to have one of the chaperones and one of the teens in our home for those few days, and to spend some time with all of the group as they met for morning devotionals and gatherings before they went to work.

I want to share with you some of the things I noticed about these young people and those adults who came with them to chaperone.

  • There was no complaining!  Did you read what I wrote about it being HOT? Let me say it again – it was HOT, but I never heard one word of complaint from any of those teens or adults.
  • They were ALL appropriately dressed, and no one complained about having to wear clothing that represented Christ as they went from house to house. No shorts or skirts were too short. No shirts were too low. No T-shirts had questionable pictures or words on them (the boys all worn shirts with collars).
  • They were respectful to all who were around them. They talked to those of us who are older, as well as to those who were younger than they are. Statements like “please” and “thank you” were heard often.
  • They followed the rules and didn’t seem offended that they had to obey them. You see, they had been told the rules before they ever came on the trip, and rather than complain about how unfair they are, they respected their leaders and obeyed those rules.
  • They weren’t late.  8:30 is early in the morning for teenagers, but that was their assigned time to arrive at the building for a devo before going out to knock doors. They were there, appropriately dressed, with smiles on their faces and ready to take on the task. No one stayed in bed because they were tired.
  • It was obvious to me that they have been taught by their parents and church leaders to have respect for their parents and elders who made this trip possible for them. I learned that they have to meet certain requirements to be able to go on this trip. They either meet them or they don’t go. Wow!
  • I was told that as they rode their bus to the different areas of town, they sang devo songs. They weren’t on their phones. They didn’t have earphones in their ears. They weren’t talking about one another. They were singing praises to God. What better way to prepare to take His word to the lost?
  • They were a blessing to all with whom they came in contact.  Some doors were slammed in their faces. Some words were said that were unkind and unnecessary. Some people represented the devil. These young people represented Christ, their families, and their church well.

Did I write this post to show my gratitude for some special people from Arnold, Missouri? Yes.

Did I write this post to plead with all parents, elders, and congregations to hold their young people to a standard which is becoming to Christ? A thousand times, Yes.

It can be done. I saw it this week.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing these young people our way.


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Is the Line “Teen Vogue” Crossed Enough to Wake Parents Up?

In case you missed it, “Teen Vogue” released an article in recent days that many parents found shocking. [Warning: If your kids are around, you might not want them to read any further!]

The article’s main title is “Anal Sex: What You Need to Know.”

Remember, this was in “Teen Vogue.” Target age? 12-18. Meaning? They are teaching children to do things that are not only immoral but, in many cases, illegal.

Not to mention, depraved.

The article, subtitled, “How to Do It the RIGHT Way” (all caps in original), teaches your teenagers that this is a perfectly normal way to explore sex, and that they just need to know what to expect, both good and bad. It does not matter if they are straight, homosexual, male, female, whatever. This is just another way of having sex. That’s what, do I need to say it again, “Teen Vogue” is sharing these days.

Complete with charts and quotes, the article explains what used to be commonly called “sodomy” in detail, all while being playful enough to make sure teens don’t feel bad for experimenting with this “other way” of having sex.

Shocked yet?

I’ve seen a few reactions to the article. “Your Mom Has a Blog” wrote an excellent one, which was how I first came to know about the article in the first place.

I want to take a little different angle than just to blast “Teen Vogue” for their article, though.

I want to ask if this is enough to finally wake parents up.

For years, preachers, teachers, youth workers, elders, and others have been trying to inform parents about how our culture is continuing a downward slide in sexual morals, and it is targeting our young people.

Many have taught for years about skimpy clothing, only to be told that it’s just not that big of a deal, and kids should be allowed to be in fashion so no one makes fun of them.

Classes and sermons have been presented about immoral television shows and movies and music, only to have parents say that “it’s just entertainment” and “I can’t understand it anyway,” or “it’s just a phase.”

Some are still bold enough to show that viewing internet pornography or other sexually-explicit material is growing more and more common, only to have parents act like they don’t want to know what their kids are doing because they are afraid of finding out.

And some even hear parents–Christian parents–excuse and cover up and ignore when their kids are engaged in sexual activity. They figure their kids are “going to do it anyway,” so they just look the other way and act like it’s no big deal.

So, may I ask: is this article from “Teen Vogue” enough to wake us up? Is this enough to let us know that the culture really is that sexually deviant? Is this enough to show parents that it doesn’t start with articles like the one “Teen Vogue” published, but that this is just another step downward in our moral regression?

If not, what will it take?

Parents, the culture at large is feeding on our children. It wants them to think that “my way” is all that really matters, and that personal autonomy is the god of the age.

If you think that starts–or that it ends–with one article for teens about anal sex, then it’s time you woke up.

And it’s time we all started actually parenting our kids, and quit letting the culture do our job for us.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Are Fathers Really All That Important?

Is Dad just a joke? Are fathers really needed? Are they important at all?

Recently I listened to a podcast that referred to some material I found interesting and challenging.  I read the transcript of the podcast. I then read the material to which the podcast referred.

Those sources are:

While one might expect Dr. Mohler to approach any subject from a religious perspective, one would not expect NPR to do so. That is what I found fascinating. The material produced by them relied heavily on an interview with Alan Blankstein who, according to NPR, “…has spent a lifetime advocating for kids who struggle in school.” According to some information I have found out about him, religious implications would not be paramount in his mind.  He appears to be one who is mostly interested in the practical.

Without any commentary on my part about each point, here are some of the things I “pulled” from the material produced by NPR & Mr. Blankstein:

  • 24.7 million children in the United States do not live with a biological father.
  • Children are four times more likely to be poor if the father is not around.
  • Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out (of school).
  • Girls are twice as likely to suffer from obesity without the father present.
  • Girls whose fathers are not present are four times more likely to get pregnant as teenagers.

Those are just a few of the facts that caught my attention. 

Here are some questions I had after listening to and reading the material:

  • What about those children who have a biological father in the house, but have one who could be described as a “deadbeat dad?” 
  • What about the ones whose dads are not deadbeats, but who leave all of the parenting up to the mother?
  • What about the dad who spends more time with his buddies and hobbies than he does with his wife and children?
  • What about the dad who is more interested in his career than his family?

I read something in a book that I think applies to this discussion.  See what you think.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,

but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord

(Eph. 6:4, ESV, emphasis added).


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 85: Technology in Worship, Modesty for Kids, Marriage Myths…and More! [Podcast]

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On this week’s program, Adam and Leah take some time to discuss three very important subjects. What about kids have tech in worship? Why modesty for kids really matters? What are some common myths our culture tells us about marriage?

The links to these articles can be found below.

Resources

Children and Technology in Church” (PreachingHelp)

He Looked Down: A Powerful Lesson on Immodesty and Respect” (A Legacy of Faith)

5 Myths Our Culture Tells Us about Marriage” (Of the Hearth)

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He Looked Down : A Powerful Lesson on Immodesty and Respect

A preaching friend of mine told me a true story about a little boy, and it was a story that stuck with me. He was saying that this young man–probably 5 or 6 years of age–was visiting someone else’s house and they were watching TV.

They noticed that the little boy would look down every once in awhile. He wasn’t playing on a phone or tablet. He didn’t have a book in his hands. He just looked down every so often.

Finally, they asked this little boy why he kept looking down and the young boy’s response shamed and woke up his friend’s family.

He pointed at the television and said, “She’s not dressed enough and momma always taught me to look away when a girl wasn’t dressed right so I wouldn’t embarrass her.”

We live in a society that is immodest to its core. You don’t even have to see clothes on people; just walk through the stores and notice what fashions are for sale these days. Mothers tell me all the time how difficult it is to find modest clothes for teen and preteen girls.

Consider:

When the bikini was introduced, it was so scandalous that no fashion model would wear it. A local stripper had to be hired to model it in a fashion show. Now? Christian girls post pictures of themselves on social media proudly wearing their bikini.

There was a time when shorts were considered inappropriate at nearly all times. Now? Many stores are selling shorts that are so short that the pockets (the inside lining) actually is longer than the denim (or other material) that makes up the legs.

Messaging on clothes for even little girls has gone from pictures of a horse or something about being sweet to messages about how “hot” I am or even how “sexy.” And these are clothes for 8, 9, and 10-year old girls.

Many Christian men now struggle to attend high school football games (or other sports), or to sit in certain seats, because the cheerleading, dance team, and baton twirling outfits have become so indecently short and revealing they know they do not need to see them. And when we see pictures of older cheerleading outfits, what does our society do? We laugh at how “modest” and “outdated” they were.

And it’s not just the ladies. Men used to take care of their bodies but cover them in public. Now, men take selfies without shirts on or with very tight and short shirts to show off their sculpted bodies, and they plaster the pictures all over social media.

I just wonder how often Christians are being like that little boy, and looking away.

We have too many people who are just swimming in the culture and acting like it is no big deal. We have many others who even join in, adding pictures of their uncovered skin to social media or sending pictures in texts. We have tons of people who decide to be modest at home, but who go to the beach, amusement park, water park, or lake and shed more and more clothing in front of anyone who happens to be there.

And when we do, something dies.

What is it? Respect.

A little bit of respect for God dies. He created our bodies not to be flaunted and used to our own glory and pride, but in use to His glory.

A little bit of respect for our spouse (or future spouse) dies. Each time I allow someone else to “drink in” more of my body, I am taking away something that is very special to my spouse, or I am taking away something special from the one I am saving myself for in a future marriage.

A little bit of respect for children dies. When I show off more and more of myself in a sexualized way, I am teaching children that this is how to get attention and that it’s all okay. I’m making them think–at younger and younger ages–that your body and sexuality is all that really matters.

A little bit of respect for culture and society dies. With each small movement toward immodesty, our culture becomes more indecent, undermining the very fabric of civilization.

A little bit of respect for myself dies. While I may tell the world, “I’ve got it, so I flaunt it,” I know, deep down, that I am more than just a body. Still, I suppress that part of my thinking and just go on, plunging deeper into the world’s narrative and removing myself from honoring my soul.

I’m not trying to give a list of “how short” or “how tight” or “how little fabric.” Folks, we know. We know the first time we pick something up off the rack or the shelf and something inside of us asks, “Is this appropriate?” We know the first time we put something on and it’s a little tighter than we might like. And, we know when a child looks away like that little boy.

I never want to be the reason why anyone has to look away. I never want anyone in my family to be that reason, either.

And I never want any Christian to be that reason. So, for the sake not just of one little boy, but for the sake of God, our spouse, children, society, and ourselves, let’s clothe ourselves modestly, forgetting the ways of the world, and thinking as people who bear the image of God in our souls.

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn