Category Archives: Family

An Appropriate Place for “George”

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What you are about to read is the very first paragraph of an uncorrected proof of a book that is scheduled for publication on August 25, 2015. Let’s see if you find anything strange about that paragraph:

George pulled a silver house key out of the smallest pocket of a large red backpack. Mom had sewn the key in so that it wouldn’t get lost, but the yarn wasn’t quite long enough to reach the keyhole if the bag rested on the ground. Instead, George had to steady herself awkwardly on one foot while the backpack rested on her other knee. She wiggled the key until it clicked into place.

It wasn’t really too difficult to catch, was it? Somebody named George was referred to as “herself,” “her,” and “she.”

The publisher of this book is Scholastic Press. As you probably already know, the target audience for Scholastic Press is young people; especially young people involved in public education. 

The person who allowed me to borrow a copy of this book is both a public school teacher and a Christian sister. From both of these perspectives, she is appalled that anybody would publish anything like George for people of any age to read. I join with her in being appalled at the specific agenda and target audience for this book.

Enclosed with the book was a letter from The Editors at Scholastic Reading Club. I will reproduce below (without comment) almost all of the letter. The only information I am not including is the place to provide feedback and the thanks from the editors to those who have a “…commitment to getting books into your students’ hands…”

Please read the bulk of the letter very carefully. You will find both the message the book is sending and the target age group to whom it is being sent.

Dear Reading Club Teacher,

Our commitment at Scholastic Reading Club is to bring you books that open the world to you and your students–to help them find themselves and others in literature.

George by Alex Gino is scheduled for publication on August 25, 2015. It is s special novel starring an eight-year-old girl named Melissa, who was born a boy named George.

George, the middle grade novel, just like George, the character, faces head-on a complex subject that is very much in public discourse. We wanted you to have a chance to read it prior to publication.

Everyone who’s read George has been talking about it, in both the Scholastic offices and in the publishing community. Librarians and bookstores have said that there is a place for George on their shelves, and we would like to invite you to join the conversation. What do you think of George, and do you see a place for it in your classroom?

I had planned to write a letter to Scholastic Press, but could not find a physical address for them. I did find a place on their website where I could–and did–express my opinion about this book. If you would like to do the same, I sent my message to this location: http://scholastic.custhelp.com/app/ask

It is my opinion that the only appropriate place for a book of this nature is in the trashcan. What do you think?

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Book cover photo via Scholastic Book Club

Love Wins

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Despite the title, this is not another article about the recent Supreme Court decision. For my personal beliefs on that issue, click here and/or here. If you struggle with your feelings toward our government and the direction our country is headed, I would direct you here or here.

That said, despite all of the misuse of the phrase “love wins,” love does, in fact, win!

Love wins in our marriages when a husband and wife follow the example Christ, given to us in Ephesians 5:25-33. Instead of a home where the battle for supremacy is waged at every turn, you have a unit functioning together in love: forgiving, supporting, encouraging, and helping each other as God would have us to do.

Love wins with our children when we “bring [our children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Instead of homes ruled by childish whims and tantrums, we will have homes where children are disciplined in love (Proverbs 13:24) and teaching is done through example, discussion, and instruction instead of yelling, demanding, and domineering. Love wins when our children respond in kind, respecting, obeying, and honoring their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3; Proverbs 31:28).

Love wins in our churches when members support each other and recognize the varying functions that God gave to each as He willed (1 Corinthians 12:11). When the behind-the-scenes members do not envy the public eye members and the public eye members learn to appreciate and validate the behind-the-scenes members, love lets them understand that all those gifts were distributed “for the common good” not for arguments and divisions (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

The list could go on: love wins in our schools, our friendships, our workplaces … The list is infinite. That is because the Source of love is infinite. May we never forget the ultimate definition of love found in 1 John 4:7, “God is love.” In fact, reading 1 John 4 tells us that if we do not allow love to rule, we cannot even know God.

Love: not accept, tolerate, like, permit or condone.

Love – as defined and exemplified by God – wins every time.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

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Photo background credit:  Leland Francisco on Creative Commons

#RediscoverNature : Kids Need to be Outdoors

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We can read all the articles and books we want about raising our children, and the experts seem to disagree on a lot of issues. But there are certain things that nearly every expert agrees on. One of those things is that children need to be outside.

When you think back to your childhood, what are some of your best memories of just being a kid? Nature Valley asked that of three generations, and put the answers in a short video. You must see this:

(Video not playing? Click here to watch on YouTube.)

If that doesn’t open your eyes, I’m not sure what will!

Now most of us can make excuses and say that we are different. “Our kids don’t spend that much time with a tablet or phone.” Really? Why don’t you ask your kids what their memories of their childhood are so far.

For most of our kids, it would be some movie or video game. Of course, those things are part of our childhood, but if those things are our major memories, we have a problem!

Parents, limit the time your kids are on screens. Limit the time they are indoors. If you must, make them go outside and play and pretend. Take them to a farm. Take them on a nature walk. Send them outside with a couple of empty boxes and watch them make magic with their imaginations. A few weeks ago, our kids even held a “funeral” for a dead animal they found in the yard (complete with Turner reading Scripture–Genesis 1:1–and leading a song). Those memories are the ones kids need to build up their imaginations and discover the amazing world God has created around them.

When they are 25 or 30, what will they say they remember most about childhood? Will it be the time they spent on their iPad, or the time they explored the world right in their own backyard?

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: Travis Swan on Creative Commons

How Families Can Encourage Children to be Missionaries

[NOTE: This week’s guest post comes from Jessica Markwood. To learn more about Jessica, check out her bio at the end of today’s post.]

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We often joke about praying for missionaries to rise up and spread the Gospel in this dark world … but that they’ll be someone else’s children. It’s difficult to wish our children into the sin-sick world where they risk disappointment, rejection, and their very lives. But it’s into that world that God sent His own Son, and the world into which God sends His children – perhaps your children – still. In a world increasingly harder to reach we must influence the youth in our lives to go increasingly farther. We must foster faith in them that carries Christ into the workplace, classroom, ghettoes, public sphere, and unreached ends of the earth. If we want children to grow in Christ we must prepare them to go for Christ.

Let them see you

The best way to encourage the young people in your life to live missionally is to set an example of living missionally. The only way to truly teach the Great Commission is to live it. Exemplifying a passion for God, dedication to prayer, drive toward evangelism, love for truth, submission to others, detachment from materialism, joy in living, and hope for Heaven will inspire the same in others.

Let them see God

The world doesn’t hold back any punches when it comes to living faithfully. Nothing challenges my faith more than encountering the struggles of a lost world. Regurgitating a family member’s faith doesn’t solve the problem of evil, eradicate poverty, save those who have never heard the gospel, explain the Trinity, or answer any number of difficult questions that the world asks. Children have to be personally transformed by the gospel before they can transform others with it. Raise them in spirit and in truth, but also to seek spirit and truth for themselves.

Let them see the world

Many of us are afraid of the world – for good reason. The news shows us war, pestilence, poverty, and corruption. But it’s far scarier than the media portrays. The world is terrifying because so much of it operates outside of the Kingdom of God. But for those within the Kingdom the world offers an incredible opportunity to bring hope to beautiful people of a despairing world. Families can neither shield children from the realities of the world nor paint a picture of the world bent on destruction. Children must be able to seek the good in the world, because they will never seek to save something they do not love. Just as God loved the world in such a way that He gave up his Son for it, so we must love the world enough to give up our children to advance Christ’s kingdom in it.

Let them experience diversity

Like a lot of other kids who were raised in the church, I grew up in a bubble. Everyone with whom I interact is just like me. Luckily, I had a pretty porous bubble that afforded me opportunities to interact with people of various worldviews. We are called to go into the world, but thanks to globalization, much of the world has come to us. Just outside the bubble stand people of various ages, backgrounds, economic brackets, ethnicities, political stances, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, and opinions. The experiences that expanded my comfort zone made the words “Muslim,” and “drug addict,” and “atheist” more than abstract groups of people. They are names. Those names are some of my biggest motivators to study Scripture, share Christ, and serve others. Effective missions are not fueled by intellect or obligation, but love.

Let them do what they love

We tend to limit our understanding of ministry. What’s so incredible about the body of Christ is that it doesn’t only function behind a pulpit, but also in the classroom, on the ball field, on social media, across the street, and across the world. I once thought the only thing I could do was teach children’s class, and let me tell you – children’s class is not my forte. As I grew I realized that there were infinite opportunities to minister to others doing things that I loved. The best way to ensure that your child loves ministry wherever they are is to teach them how to make ministries out of the things they love. Every passion is a way to reach a different group of people with a different service in a different way. Don’t put ministry in a box – make ministry their world.

Let them do the impossible

Nicholas Kristof, a non-religious human rights journalist, recently wrote an article about “Dr. Tom,” a Christian doctor diligently serving in the rural Nuba Mountains of South Sudan. Kristof notes, “…the people I’ve encountered over the years in the most impossible places – like Nuba, where anyone reasonable has fled – are disproportionately unreasonable because of their faith.” The Gospel often calls upon the unreasonable to attempt the unreasonable for a God who can do far beyond reason. Jesus, meek and mild, also calls for the extravagant. The faith to which we are called moves mountains into the sea, pushes camels through needle eyes, and prevails against the gates of hell.  Let childlike faith pursue great things for God, even if they seem naïve or impossible. For what is impossible with man, and what you may think is impossible with your children, is possible with God.

If we’re going to raise children to be faithful, we must also raise them to be missional. Faith in Christ and participation in His mission are inseparable. As we strive to see the next generation progress and be better off than we are, may we not forget to mold people with faith that is stronger, influence that is wider, and love that is fiercer than ours – even when it scares us. Because the Great Commission is not only a command, but a promise from the omnipotent Lord to all who follow it. “And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

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Jessica Markwood is a student at Harding University and a member of the Lebanon Road church of Christ in Nashville. She has been on numerous mission trips in the states and around the world, and has a heart for missions. Check out her blog, “Rivers and Roads.”

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Photo background credit: sigmama on Creative Commons

The Most Common Problem with Problem Solving

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Every person, group, and relationship has them. As much as we want to do things that are right all the time, there are still going to be problems. And problems need to be solved.

Meetings are held. Conversations are had. But, when all is said and done, the problem is still there.

Admittedly, there are countless reasons why the problem does not get solved. Each situation is different, and I know this post is painting with a broad brush. Still, I think there is one common reason why many problems do not get solved.

What is it? We talk about the problem instead of solving the problem.

We name the problem. We mention that there is a problem. We talk about how bad the problem is…

…and then we dismiss or leave, thinking we have taken care of things.

But the one thing that has not been done is actually laying out a plan to solve the problem, which was the intended purpose.

Just think about the latest squabble in your house, or about a lingering issue at work. Is the problem still there because, for days (weeks? months?) people have just talked about the fact that a problem exists, but no one has stepped up with a plan to actually solve it? I think, if we are honest, we will find that to be the case more often than not.

Now, this post would not be complete if I didn’t share how to solve this problem.

The solution should be very clear, though. It is simply to never leave a meeting or discussion without coming up with an action step that leads toward a solution.

You may not solve the problem all the way through, but you are also not just tabling the problem until the next meeting, when you will mention that the problem is still there. Something–anything–that can be done to move toward a solution is better than just talking around the issue.

So the next time you have a problem to discuss as a couple, family, congregation, eldership, business, or any other group, resolve that you will not leave the discussion without laying out a “next step.” It may not be the final step, but it will at least be a step in the right direction: the direction of a solution.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

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What I Wish the Church Knew about the Preacher’s Family

[Note: This week’s guest post comes to us from our friend Dale Jenkins. To learn more about Dale, check out his information following today’s article.]

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The apostle Paul wrote: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV). The New Living Translation says: “We ourselves are like fragile clay jars.” To Timothy he wrote that “… in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work…” (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

I’m not much of a cook but I do occasionally attempt to create something in the kitchen or at the grill and in 35 years of adult life I’ve never had a pot, pan, platter, or plate complain or focus on itself. 

Yet we face the multi-headed challenge: Any family illustration seems to be the most applicable, relatable, and remembered illustration, but they are also the most difficult. You see, we don’t want to embarrass them. After all, they are not illustrations – they are family. 

Further we don’t want people to believe they are perfect (wife or kids). I’ll never forget an old brother telling me about a preacher he heard once who went on and on about how grand his wife was. The guy said: “I knew his wife, and she wasn’t nearly as good as mine is.” Well, I’m not debating either guy; I’m just making the point that we are in a challenging position. If we don’t mention family, people wonder if we don’t love or appreciate them; however, if we do, people think we are overly exhausting them. 

But I’ve been asked to write about what I’d want the church to know about the preacher’s family. So here goes.

Anyone who knows me knows I spend a lot of my time trying to encourage preachers and their families, but the bottom line is the “preacher’s family” is just a family. A family trying to go to heaven. A family with flaws. A family that sometimes has disagreements and “unscheduled discussions” (i.e. arguments), a family that hurts, a family that experiences loss, a family that has to live on a budget. A family that likes to laugh and create memories together. A family that isn’t serious all the time.  And as a preacher with a family: I am a dad trying to train my children to love the Lord, a husband trying to support my wife, a man trying to be “more than an infidel.”

1. My wife is my wife not your employee. I happen to preach but some think that tells them all about my wife. She married ME – hopefully not “the preacher.” I married her – not “the preacher’s wife.” And if she ever told me that for us to continue as a husband and wife I’d have to stop preaching, I’d divorce preaching as a job before I’d divorce her as my wife. You didn’t hire her, her name isn’t on the paycheck, and while when you get me you get some of the fruit of her blessing in my life – let her be that – my wife. She is a Christian and therefore should be held to a higher standard, but no higher than any other Christian.

2. While I appreciate the respect that I think a preacher should receive I don’t pretend to have it all together in my life. The respect is for the role–for what I do–not for me. So let’s talk about my kids. They, too, are human. They will make mistakes. Treat them like you would other kids that make mistakes. Would you not let a man teach a class because his children failed publicly? Would you gossip about the faults and failures or go to the elders about mistakes of a deacon’s kid? It’s not their “fault” their dad preaches. Don’t make it harder on them or hold them to a higher standard. I’m not asking for special treatment for my kids; just that you treat them fairly.

3. Respect my family time like you would that of others. I know I have to be careful here because many jobs have demanding and odd hours that call you away from your family. One of the differences between this job and “most” others is that it is 24 hours a day. A plumber may get a call in the middle of the night or when he is on family vacation or sitting down to supper but he can say “no” and the only repercussion is that he doesn’t get that business. It’s much more complicated when you preach – and you know it if you’ve ever had a sudden sickness, death in the family, traumatic event and called the preacher. So, while we’re not asking you not to call, we do ask that you at least be aware that there are somewhat unique sacrifices that I knew I was asking for when I decided to preach BUT my family didn’t. So would you pray for them when I’m called away and for me for the wisdom to know how to handle that. To ministers I might add a personal note here: I always tried to do some special things for my family when my “job” asked “them” to sacrifice to make up for that.

4. IF you know that I am under-compensated for my job remember my kids at special times. Note, not all of us are underpaid and even those who are signed up for and agreed to the salary received. But if you know that what I do is a sacrifice figure out a way to bless us a little. 

Bottom line: Even though we believe what we get to do is very special (holding forth the Word of Life and shining Light into darkness), we do not want you to believe that we are any more special than any other soul out there. We are just Christians who want to go to heaven and, like every other Christian, want to take as many with us as possible. We are just husbands and dads and families trying to be a Christian family. We are just clay pots, vessels – happy to be in the Lord’s Cabinet.

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Dale Jenkins is a preacher’s kid married to a preacher’s kid they have two preacher’s kids who have three preacher’s kids. By the goodness of God and the grace of a good wife, they all love the Lord. He preaches at Spring Meadows in Spring Hill and helps run The Jenkins Institute.

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Photo background credit: Kamaljith KV on Creative Commons

Cousins’ Camp 2015: “Discovering Who You Are and Whose You Are”

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Cousins’ Camp 2015 is now in the history books for the Faughn family. Three years ago, I borrowed an idea from my friend Sheila Butt and launched our version of Cousins’ Camp. I had heard Sheila talk about getting her grandchildren together for activities, devotionals, and lots of fun things. I loved the idea, so I borrowed it and began our version of the camp.

Our camp, which is held at our home, begins on Thursday and runs through Monday at lunch. We run it very much like church camp. I’ll never forget the first time after breakfast when I said, “It’s cabin clean-up time,” and they all got up and went to their “cabins” and made beds, picked up clothes, lined up shoes, and made their space as neat as possible. Grampy (the camp director), their mothers (the counselors), and I (the chief cook and bottle washer) were all shocked, but we loved it! Grampy judged the “cabins” and they had a great time when the counselors came in last. After lunch that first day I thought I would try another tactic, so I said, “It’s cabin rest time.” All five of them got up and went to their “cabins” and rested (not too quietly) for about 45 minutes. Jim, the girls, and I had a great time visiting with each other during this time!

We keep a flexible schedule at camp and keep them busy with crafts, games, and other activities during the day. One of their favorites is “sidewalk chalk.” We have a long sidewalk in front of our house, so we give each one of them a square of the sidewalk and a box of sidewalk chalk and a theme to display in their drawing. When they are finished, everyone gathers around each drawing and the artist has to explain how his or her drawing displays the theme. It is amazing to see their creativity and their connection to spiritual things. I usually tear up just listening to them.

Corn hole, kick ball, game playing, singing, apron making, letter painting, bubble blowing, giggling, eating, and lots of other activities take place at cousins’ camp. This year we went on a field trip to the Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee. It was a wonderful place for them to see history and learn while having lots of fun. I was thrilled when they all were looking at the displays of dinosaur bones and other relics, and turned to me and said, “This didn’t happen millions of years ago! This is evolution, and not right!” It was such a great moment to teach them that they need to continue to believe and teach others how false evolution is.

One of my favorite times happens when we are slowing down and getting ready to go to bed for the night. We have a devotional with everyone gathered around. Grampy does a devotional on Thursday and Sunday night. On Friday and Saturday nights, our grandsons do the devotionals. They are growing as young men who love the Lord and I have been impressed by what they talk about in their devos. They talk about great-grandparents, grandparents, and other people who have influenced their lives. They turn to passages of scripture and teach from the Word. We sing and pray together and share our thoughts and emotions with one another. We say “I love you” many times.

[View more pictures of Cousins’ Camp 2015 here on Amber Tatum’s Facebook page.]

I could go on and on about Cousins’ Camp, but I want to end by telling you some of my observations about spending time together as family.I hope it will encourage you to make a special effort to spend time with your family.

  • Memories are made that will last a lifetime. 
  • Conflicts happen and it is a golden opportunity to teach them how God would have us handle conflicts.
  • Laughter is plentiful and so important. It helps with so many things.
  • We recognize that we are part of each other.
  • We teach about the spiritual family and how it is much like our physical family.
  • Hugs and kisses are plentiful.
  • Manners are taught.
  • Love abounds – for each other…and especially for God.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”  Psalm 127:3

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How Grown Children Can Show Honor to Their Parents

[NOTE: This week’s guest post comes to us from Weylan Deaver. To learn more about Weylan, check out his bio information at the end of this week’s article.]

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Echoing the Fifth Commandment (Exod. 20:12), Paul writes, “Honor your father and mother” (Eph. 6:2, ESV). The precept applies across covenants, since it is in both Old and New Testaments. It is a basic moral law for mankind. Paul’s instruction is that children obey their parents (v. 1) and honor their parents (v. 2), which results in the children’s well-being, including “that you may live long in the land” (v. 3). Considering that last clause, and with no evidence to the contrary, the principle of honoring one’s parents applies without expiration. Whether we are children at home or adults on our own, we are to honor parents.

The verb, “honor,” translates the Greek timao, which Thayer’s lexicon defines as “to estimate, to fix the value…to revere” (p. 624). To “honor” parents is to make an accurate appraisal which produces required respect, realizing the debt owed them. Now, if that is the definition, what is the application?

The only obligation in the context associated with honoring parents is to “obey your parents.” We generally take that as applying to children living under their parents’ roof, and with good reason. For example, in marriage both spouses are to leave their parents in establishing a new home (Eph. 5:31). A man’s role does not include governing his grown children who have homes and families of their own. If so, it would imply that a wife is obligated to submit to both her husband and her father, with no solution for when the two differ. Instead of such an unworkable arrangement, God says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). So, while obeying is part of honoring parents while children still live at home, children who have moved out and make their own decisions are still obligated to honor their parents.

But, how? Here, inspiration leaves much to our judgment and imagination, revealing the wisdom of God since there are a thousand ways in which the principle can find expression. Having said that, here are just a few considerations.

First, if your parents raised you to be a Christian, be one. There is no better way to honor their legacy of faithfulness. If they failed to teach you the gospel, then learn it and be a Christian anyway, as the noblest thing you can do (even if they don’t immediately recognize it) is to live a godly example in front of parents (and everyone else). Not to mention, your soul depends on it.

Second, keep in touch with your parents. Surely, you cannot honor parents by having little to no contact. If they live far away, technology makes interactive options easier than ever via phone call, email, text, etc. How simple it is, with a smartphone, to take a picture and send it to Mom or Dad. Those little points of contact keep others “in the loop,” and mean more than the small effort it takes to make them happen. Though it seems technology dominates communication, don’t underestimate the impact of a handwritten letter.

Third, ask and value parental advice. The Bible places a premium on older age; it comes by life experience, supplemented with wisdom. “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man” (Lev. 19:32). Rather than be put out to pasture, the previous generation is to be respected. They are a resource who can help us out of a difficulty, or help us avoid it in the first place. The idea that brainpower peaks in our youth is not biblical. The older ought to know more than the younger, especially if they have logged many a year in the Lord’s service. “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation” (Psalm 71:18). To ignore a godly parent’s wisdom is often proof of a child’s foolishness.

Fourth, see to their care. It is, after all, the duty of children to take care of their parents when the time comes. Whatever assistance the government might provide, it is still the case that responsibility rests with grown children to care for aging parents. “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8; study also vv. 3-16). This is part of what it means to “honor your father and mother.” And, just as God’s “commandments are not burdensome” if we love him (1 John 5:3), it is an honor to help our parents if we love them. Perhaps it is the least we can do for those without whom we would not even exist.

Fifth, when your parents are gone, honor them by telling future generations about their lives, especially if they were faithful to the Lord. Memories of righteous ancestors can be a powerful motivator to help keep us walking in the light. God intends we do all we can in order to bring about multi-generational faithfulness, meaning our children are taught to be Christians, so that their children become Christians, on and on. If our parents or great-grandparents are waiting in Paradise, we want our children to know who they are, and to anticipate meeting them there some day.

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Weylan Deaver is a graduate of the Southwest School of Bible Studies, Freed-Hardeman University, and the Bear Valley Bible Institute. He preaches for the Sherman Drive church of Christ in Denton, Texas and serves on the faculty for the online program of Tennessee Bible College. He and his wife, Cheri, have four homeschooled children. His hobbies include hunting and songwriting. Follow on Twitter @wdeaver.

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3 Marriage Books to Read This Summer

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We love reading. Whenever we get extra money, it is tempting to just go on a spending spree of nothing but books. Some we read for entertainment; others for information.

There are some books, though, that just add value to some area of your life. Today, I want to share three books that, if you have not read them, will add value to your home; specifically, your marriage.

 

TO READ TOGETHER: His Needs, Her Needs

his needs her needsA classic book, Willard Harley’s book discusses what each gender in a marriage needs the most. It also discusses how husbands and wives can detract from each other’s “love tank” even without knowing it, simply because they are not perceiving their spouse’s true needs.

This is a great book to read together, aloud, and discuss. Get a copy here.

TO READ AND DISCUSS: The 5 Love Languages

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I recommend spouses read a chapter each, then sit down and discuss it. Another classic, Gary Chapman’s book is simple and straightforward, but lends itself well to further discussion. If you will read with an open mind, you will find yourself learning a great deal more about your spouse. Get a copy here.

TO GET THINGS IN ORDER: The Total Money Makeover

total money makeover

Dave Ramsey’s best-selling book is still a must-read, but it is also a must do. I see couples regularly who are struggling with finances, and it is tearing apart more than just their bank accounts. It is pulling at the seams of their marriage. This simple book provides the basic blueprint for couples to get this part of their marriage on track. This is a wonderful volume to read on vacation, or just over a free weekend. Get a copy here.

And, if I may add one non-marriage book, the summer is a great time to dig into the Psalms, so why not check out my new book, Hymns of the Heart! Here’s where you can get a copy.

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: LW Yang on Creative Commons

The Hypocritical Blanket

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Almost every night, I say a prayer with my son and tell him goodnight. Though sometimes, admittedly, I rush through these last few moments before he goes to sleep, they are some of my favorite minutes of the day.

Some nights we read a story, every night we pray. He says a prayer, then I say one. I tell him “good night” and “I love you,” then his lights go out. It’s a routine I hope does not end anytime soon.

The other night, though, another step had to be taken. I was pulling up his blanket over him when I noticed I didn’t have hold of the sheet underneath. So, I reached way down to nearly the foot of his bed and grabbed the sheet, which was all wadded up down there.

As I pulled it up, I just looked at my 8-year-old son with a face that basically said, “Please explain this.” After his usual “What?” he said, “It looks made up that way.”

He was right. The blanket is thick enough that it covered up the sheet that had never been properly made up. It looked fine, but the sheet was now all wrinkled and creased.

As I heard him say that (with a sly little grin on his face that had me just a tad worried), my mind went to my own life. Are there times when I cover up a thought or an action with enough Christian stuff that I sure look like I’m all made up for the Lord?

You see, too often, we put on a good front, but our insides are all wrinkled and creased by sin. Anyone can put on a nice dress or a shirt and tie and smile for an hour at church. Anyone can shake hands and say the ever-popular “fine” when asked how they are doing.

We all look made up.

Inside, though, are we a wrinkled mess of secret sin?

That’s my lesson from a blanket (that was made up properly last night. I checked!).

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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Photo background credit: Gregory Bodnar on Creative Commons