Category Archives: Family

A Quote for Dads

father quote

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To My Daughter on Her 8th Birthday


Someone is very happy to be an 8-year-old!

Dear Precious Treasure,

Eight years ago, God showed Himself to us in a way that only He could orchestrate. It was very early in the morning, but your mommy and me were wide awake, because you were about to make us parents. And remember, just a few weeks earlier, we had thought that might never happen.

Our amazing God, however, had different plans, and brought you into our world through the glorious process of adoption. I do not know if you will ever adopt a child, but I do know that unless you do, you will never know the feeling we had–and continue to have–for how our Lord brought you into our lives.

From very early on, I nicknamed you “Precious Treasure,” because I firmly believe that is exactly what you are. Sometimes, we shorten it to “Precious,” but I pray you always remember that daddy calls you by both, and believes that you are a treasure, truly valuable and rare. You are the only Mary Carol Faughn in this world, and that makes you wonderful.

Today, you turn 8 years old. Pardon your mother and me if we get a little nostalgic and weepy-eyed on your birthdays. It’s not easy to see another year tick away when it seems like you were just learning to crawl a few months ago. Sometimes, when I hug you, I can almost still hear you say “I mimiched” (I’m finished) as you down another bottle in my arms. You haven’t said that in years, but those sweet words from your smiling face ring in my mind quite often.

Now, here you are at 8. You are a good speller and very smart. We are grateful that you are remembering Bible facts and learning how to read.

More than any of that, though, we are proud of the wonderfully sweet qualities that you have always possessed. You serve others, young or old. You want people to be happy, and will do nearly anything to help people. Your hugs brighten days, and your full-faced smile lightens every room you enter. Your heart could not be any more tender.

Precious, these are qualities your mother and I pray never leave you. As you continue to grow, my prayer is that you continue to follow the example of your mother. God blessed you with a glorious example of what a real Christian lady should be. No matter what grades you might make or how wealthy you might be one day, there is nothing that could make me more proud than to say that you became a Christian and lived every day like a lady.

I know I have told you before, but I could never say it enough: I am proud to be your daddy, and no words can express the gratitude your mother and I have to God for bringing you to us 8 years ago. You may have grown in someone else’s tummy, but you had our heart from the first sonogram. From you holding my finger with your tiny hands as a baby, now you hold my hand on our daddy-dates. I know that, one day, you’ll hold someone else’s hand, and that’s okay, so long as you are always holding the hand of Jesus.

I love you.

Happy birthday, Mary Carol.


Finding Margin in My Life

One of my common sayings to folks is, “I’d rather be busy than bored.” I mean that, too. While I enjoy some downtime like everyone else, I get really fidgety really quickly if there is nothing to do.

However, earlier this year, I began noticing that I was having trouble with two things. One was saying “no” to any request made of me, and the other was concentration.

Then it hit me: maybe these two things are related. (Yes, I’m a little slow to put things together.)

So, a couple of months ago, I started a search. It is ongoing, and is also a struggle for someone who likes to get things done. The search was/is for ways to add margin back into my life. So far, the steps may seem small to you, but I am already feeling the effects in a positive way.

Among the changes:

  • I quit a long-time fantasy football league. I am still enjoying playing fantasy, but am in fewer leagues, so I can concentrate on the teams I have (and, I’m doing quite well!).
  • I unsubscribed from a few podcasts and blogs. I probably still have too many, but this one change a saved me hours each week.
  • I gave myself a major extension on a writing deadline for our publishing company. The material will still get done, but it doesn’t have to get done in a matter of weeks.
  • Oh, and you may have noticed that we have settled in on 3 blog posts most weeks instead of 5.

In addition, I have started dutifully keeping a to-do list for each day. I went old-school and keep a small spiral notebook with me at all times. Most days, there are 5-8 items on the list (today, there are 8), and having it by me constantly has really helped with concentration.

Now, you may read this and think that it is just a guy getting lazy. You may think it’s not spiritual for me to stop (or slow down) certain activities in my life. I want to challenge that thinking.

Are we to be busy? Yes. Christians need never be lazy. We need to be workers, and need to be diligent in our service of Jesus Christ. But why are we busy?

It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted. (Marie O’Conner)

We must remember, Christians, that we are to care for all that God has entrusted to us, and that includes our physical bodies, our families, and other relationships. It also includes our personal time with Him, which is often the first thing that gets pushed to the edges of our lives. If we are spending all our energy doing more and more for everyone else, we are not being good stewards of all that God has given to us. As I told some friends, my goal in this search for margin is to slow down my schedule just a little bit before it slows me down.

My challenge for you today is really simple. Take a few days to really think about your life. Where is there a lack of balance? Where is there something that is causing you to feel drained, but you just keep doing it anyway? Do you struggle with finding margin–even “mental margin”–in your life?

Then say “no” to something. Drop something from your routine. Feel the joy that comes from being able to concentrate on just a few things. Be a good worker, but find the balance that is necessary to keep your body and relationships healthy.

Above all, make sure God is not marginalized.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to move on to #2 on my to-do list.

QUESTION: How do you find margin in your schedule, and why is it important to you?


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Christian Vegetation and the TV Set

We live in a “veg out” society. We work very hard, and there are times when we just want to sit in front of the TV set and mindlessly flip through channels for a few minutes. At other times, we just want to have the tube on and watch a TV show that doesn’t make us think.


Let me say at the outset of this post, that I am not saying that doing this is always wrong. We need to rest, and some people find that just having the TV on is a good way to let their brain wind down from a hard day.

However, I want to challenge us all in one way when it comes to vegging out. It comes from the “greatest command.” Here is the challenging question: What am I putting in front of my eyes and does it show that I love the Lord with all my mind? Far too often, we will sit and watch just about anything “just because it’s on.” To say it bluntly: that’s how Satan wants you to handle your downtime.

The devil doesn’t want your mind, so much as he doesn’t want your mind on. <Tweet This>

Think of the world in which we live. Think of how many of us gain information. Think of how visual our world has become. Now–stay with me–think of how often we prayerfully evaluate what we see and watch.

We have become a people who thinks with our eyes instead of through our eyes! William Blake, the British poet and writer of the late 1700s and early 1800s said it very well:

This life’s dim windows of the soul

Distorts the heavens from pole to pole

And leads you to believe a lie

When you see with, not through, the eye.

Ravi Zacharias summarizes this in a few powerful words: “We now learn to listen with our eyes and think with our feelings.”

Do you see that around you? Do you see that in you?

Think of the shows you watch. Are there characters that live immoral lives, maybe through adultery or homosexuality? Are there themes of violence or vice that serve as a backdrop to the program? Is Christianity respected or used as a joke?

But then, think about our reason for having these shows on. “I’m not really thinking about it, so it doesn’t affect me.” Or, “It’s just a show. It’s all for entertainment.”

Did you notice a missing reason?

I’m watching this and God would be proud of me for doing so.

Why don’t we use that reason? Why don’t we evaluate what we see through the filter of Scripture first, then through a discerning and thinking mind. Of course, we do not have to just watch sermons each time the TV set is on, but if we are going to honor our Lord in all we do, we need to be viewing things where godly morality and respect are involved.

And, yes, I’ll say it: that means a vast majority of modern TV programs should not be viewed by Christians.

  • Just one recent episode of Breaking Bad contained some 11 different curse words (many used multiple times), and the name of our Lord Jesus was taken in vain six different times. [Source]
  • The pilot episode of Under the Dome included a lesbian mother, a nude-from-behind woman, and at least 22 curse words, in addition to taking God’s name in vain. [Source]

These are just two examples and trust me when I say I’m not “picking on” these shows. I chose them at random because I have seen and heard many Christians talk about watching them and I wanted to see what they were about. As much as my family loves, for example, The Cosby Show, there are episodes we do not watch, and other scenes we skip.

But here is the struggle: far too often we just use the excuse, “I’m not really thinking about it. It’s just on.” That’s just not good enough for God’s people. Our minds are able to pick up on what we are watching, if it we claim it is “mindless.” We must be discerning and thinking, not just taking in anything that happens to be on the tube. If we are not filtering TV programs through the lens of God’s Word first and foremost, what are we letting have an effect on our thoughts and emotions? What messages–no matter how subtle–are we allowing to creep into our thinking?

Veg out. Relax. Turn on the TV.

But compare what you are seeing with God’s holiness, and view prayerfully.

QUESTION: What are some tips for TV viewing with a discerning mind?


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Abortion: Just Part of the Narrative

A few weeks ago, NBA player Udonis Haslem married his college sweetheart. It’s been over 10 years since they were in school, but now they are husband and wife. Their story has had many twists and turns, but now they are finally wed. The new Mrs. Haslem, Faith Rein, is also an athlete and was in college as a track star. Neither one is a major international superstar in their chosen sport, but the New York Times recently felt that their marriage was worth sharing with the world.

And there is no question why. Their story is a perfect one to share the newspaper’s unashamed support of abortion.

In fact, the way the paper presents their story, an abortion is just part of the narrative for this couple. Additionally, the abortion did not happen just a few weeks or months ago. It happened back when they were in college, over a decade ago.

In 2001, Rein became pregnant. Here’s how the Times shares the information:

Their first challenge took place the following spring when she became pregnant. It was her junior and his senior year, and he had begun training for the N.B.A. draft. Despite the pregnancy, she was busy with track meets and helping him complete homework. The timing was bad.

The article goes on to talk about how Haslem didn’t like the idea of abortion, but supported Rein in her decision. That showed her “he had a big heart and was the whole package.”

The article, then, shifts to their “next challenge,” which was when Haslem was not selected in the NBA draft, and had to consider playing overseas. After working his way up through the NBA’s summer system, he got to play for a few teams, and was finally signed by the Miami Heat, where he still plays.

When I was first told this story, I immediately went to the New York Times article. What was remarkable to me was this: the abortion was just presented as one in a series of “challenges.” It was equal to career struggles, injuries, and times of separation for Haslem and Rein. And, as you can see in the portions quoted above, the abortion is presented as one of the issues that brought this couple closer together.

This presentation is perfect for outlets like the Times. Not only do they fully support abortion for any reason, they do not really consider it an issue any more. They simply want abortion to be part of the story, and equal to any other “challenge” a couple might face. What the Times did not tell us in this glowing announcement was how selfish this decision was. Did you notice? She had track meets. She was helping Mr. Haslem with his homework, so he could do well in school. The Times tells us, “The timing was bad.”

So, what is the narrative we are being told? If a baby comes along and the timing isn’t right, don’t let that slow you down. Of course, I guess no one thinks about how much time was spent in the process of conception. If only a few moments, I guess the timing wasn’t too bad for that, but having a baby sure would mess things up.

That’s the society in which we live, and that’s the story we are constantly fed by our media. Babies are only to be “had” if they fit MY lifestyle. If the timing or the finances aren’t just where I think I want them, then be sure I keep things on the track I have laid out for MY life. And, then, our world will consider it all just part of MY story.

Instead of such selfishness and lack of consideration for life, we need to remember that children “are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). They are not a nuisance. They are not something put in our way to keep us from reaching our goals. If we will keep control of ourselves, we will put sex where God did–in the marriage relationship–and enjoy the children that may be given to us as a blessing from the Lord.

Abortion ends life, and does so out of selfishness. There is nothing to celebrate there, and nothing to consider just part of a normal narrative.

QUESTION: What are some other subtle ways abortion is being passed off as normal in our media?


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Husbands, It’s Time to Be a Real Man: Stop the Affair Before It Starts

Today’s post is blunt. Very blunt. But it comes from a heart that wants men to be true men of God. I am in the midst of reading Steve Farrar’s excellent book Point Man as part of my mentoring group requirement for this month. It is a book I have read before, but I feel every man–especially married man–needs to read. To say Farrar is to the point would be an understatement, but he states exactly what men need to hear.

Recently, as I was reading, I came to chapter three, which is entitled “Real Men Don’t.” The crux of that chapter led me to think of this post, and my desire is simply to be as blunt as Farrar is, but in fewer words. You could say that “idea credit” goes to him, but I pray my additional thoughts are helpful and straightforward.

The point of the chapter is this: Real men don’t commit adultery (page 56).


Wow…how’s that for a hard-hitting sentence on a blog that is usually so encouraging? But this is a subject that needs to be addressed, because I am fearful that some of the men reading these words are already walking down the path toward that horrible sin.

Even more tragic? Some of them don’t even know it.

Or, maybe, they just aren’t willing to admit it.

Since ours is a fairly small site (as far as readership goes), I think I have a fairly decent grasp on who is reading these words. Of the male readers, many are in ministry, and I would dare say that 80% or more (and maybe far more) of our readers worship regularly. It is easy to state that the vast majority of the readers of this site are Christians, and a large number are leaders in the Christian community.

Gentlemen, some of us need to lead our private lives as well as we are leading our public lives.

Some of you preach on Sunday about home and family and marriage and grace and forgiveness and agape love, and then you are chatting online with an old flame from high school. Others are leading singing or teaching Bible classes and then feeling a strong emotional attachment to the new coworker down the hall. Some are singing “God Give Us Christian Homes” on Sunday night, and then spending extra hours at the office to make sure the “adorable” lady in the next cubicle sees you. Some are dressing up for a lunch outing with the crew from work because “she” will be there, and dressing down when it’s date night with your wife.

Men, you are headed toward adultery. It is as simple as that.

Don’t believe me? Then will you believe the Lord God?

The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet,
her soft words are oh so smooth.
But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth,
a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.
She’s dancing down the primrose path to Death;
she’s headed straight for Hell and taking you with her. (Proverbs 5:3-5, The Message)

The wise response to this type of woman is given just a few verses later. “Keep your way far from her” (Proverbs 5:8, ESV). That’s straightforward advice, but it will stop the walk down the path of destruction.

“But,” someone might be thinking, “This woman makes me feel good, and things aren’t so great at the house right now.” One of the parts of Farrar’s chapter really caught my eye. He wrote about how affairs seem to be a “way out” or an “escape,” but they never are. Read these words very prayerfully:

The problem is simply this: When you leave your wife to commit adultery with another woman, you take yourself with you. And you are your biggest problem. I am my biggest problem, and you are yours. You are walking into this new relationship with the same personality, strengths, and weaknesses you have in your current marriage. And if you can’t work things out with your current wife, what makes you think it will be any different with another woman? You are a major part of the problem, and unfortunately, you must take yourself along with you. (pages 66-67, emphasis added)

Men, that should cause every one of us to shudder in fear over any steps we might have taken toward another woman, whether those steps are physical or digital. You are the problem.

You may be struggling at home. Guess what? Every man who has ever been married has struggled at home! Intimacy may be lacking, or virtually non-existent. Your wife may have a sickness or disease that has left her physically tired or emotionally off-kilter at times. Bills, disruptive children, or a myriad of other things may make going home more stressful than being at work.

No one ever said it would be easy.

And that’s why I am challenging you today. You see, it takes a real man to not only stay, but stay and serve. It takes a real man to avoid the easy way out or the cheap thrill. It takes a real man to run away from temptation and serve his wife, no matter if he feels like serving or not.

If there is another woman you have felt attracted to, it’s time for you to be a real man by God’s standards. Society says that you getting in bed with her makes you a real man. The Lord says that saying “no” and being a caring, strong, supportive, loving, and Scripturally-grounded husband is being a real man.

Husbands, it’s time to be a real man.

QUESTION: What is your reaction to this blunt and serious post? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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A Prayer You Can Say “Amen” to Every Time

I am very proud of my kids, though we often have to discipline them. They often shine forth a good heart, and for that love and goodness we are so grateful.


Turner regularly leads our prayers at mealtime, and I’m thankful he is willing to do this. As with a lot of little kids, much of the prayer is repetitive, but he is getting better at praying for different people and things. I am glad for both the things he prays for often and the things that are not a common in his prayers. Both show a heart that is thinking about what is being taken before God’s throne.

Sometimes, too, his grammar is just a bit off, but that’s okay. There is a glorious innocence in that which I need to have more of in my own prayers. That child-like grammar plays into this post today.

You see, there is one phrase that Turner has been praying quite often lately that just makes my heart swell. It is a statement that you can say “amen” to every time. What is it?

“Thank You that we go to heaven one day.”

Look at the faith and innocence of that statement! He is praying those words as if they are already done. And here’s the beautiful part: if I will just live following the way of Jesus Christ, it is already done! God has already perfectly done His part, and Jesus fulfilled His role and took my place. The way is set and the promise is sure, if I will just follow it.

I want to be in heaven, and I am so grateful that I serve a God who is gracious enough that He allows us to be assured of our home in the paradise of eternity if we will just walk in loving, obedient faith.

By the way, if you are struggling and are not sure of your home in heaven, please contact us. We’d love to help you in any way we can to know more about Jesus.


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The Power and Progression of Prejudice

Last night I preached a sermon that wasn’t easy to present. The subject matter was that of prejudice, and the difficulty in preaching such a sermon is that no one likes to think that they struggle with that problem, but we all have (and probably do) toward some group of people.


The sermon came from Acts 22, where Paul is giving a defense before a Jewish audience. He is rehearsing his religious life, and the crowd is listening in total silence (v.2). That is, until…

Verse 22 begins with this sentence: “Up to this word they listened to him.” What word? “Gentiles” (v.21). This group was so prejudice against Gentiles that they did not even want Paul to finish his speech after using that awful word.

But what happens next is what we spent some time with in our sermon last night. In the next couple of verses, we see just how powerful prejudice is, and how it progresses out of a heart that is filled with darkness.

1. Prejudice Closes Hearing Ears. When the Jews heard that word “Gentiles,” they were done listening. Nothing else Paul could have said would have gotten their true attention again. Today, we may feel the same way toward women, or Hispanics, or some other group. There is something like skin color, ethnic background, gender, or age, over which they have no control, but for some reason–completely uninformed reason–we will not truly listen to them or about them.

2. Prejudice Opens Cruel Mouths. After awhile, however, hearing isn’t enough. We begin to participate in the spewing of prejudice words. Verse 22 continues, “Then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth!’” Verse 23 tells us they were shouting these things. How many Christians will post lyrics that are degrading to women on their Facebook page? How many forward emails where the only “humor” is racial in nature? That’s what prejudice does: it opens cruel mouths.

3. Prejudice Moves Violent Arms. But, after awhile, words are not enough. Verse 23 states that the Jews “were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air.” Possibly they were getting more range of motion to throw stones at Paul. Or, they might have just been so angry they were acting like madmen. Whatever the case, they were done talking and were going to react violently out of their prejudice. We may never try to kill someone over prejudice, but our hearts can become to hardened that we fail to feel for them any more. (As an aside, one of the proven dangers of pornography is that it deadens a man’s sensitivity to the news of a woman being raped, since he has filled his mind with degrading pictures or videos of women.) A young person may join a gang and have no feeling for the elderly being attacked by the gang. One race may simply attack another for no other reason than skin color.

None of us likes to think we are prejudice, but we still struggle with “seeing as man sees” instead of how God’s sees: the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). This coming Sunday will be the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech. Sadly, not all of his dream has come true, but you and I can be part of the solution. May we look at people, not by the color of their skin, but by the “content of their character.”

After all, that’s how our God sees.


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[Infographic] What I Want My Children to Be

Today’s post is my first attempt at an infographic. It isn’t very fancy, but it comes straight from my heart.

Enjoy it, and share it.

What I Want My Son to Become (In Spite of What Culture Says)


Last weekend, we braved “Tax-Free Weekend” at Wal-Mart to buy school supplies for the kids. Actually, we survived this experienced, which is a small accomplishment in itself.

As Leah was looking at her list for the kids, she wanted each child to select a 3-ring binder as an “extra” notebook, just to keep loose papers in. She had in mind a cool notebook with a nice design for each child. Mary Carol immediately spotted a pink and green design. It was colorful and loud, so she knew it was hers. Then it was time for Turner to select his. So we looked…

and looked…

and looked.

Even the workers could not figure out why we were struggling to find a masculine design. “We have these,” they would say, pointing to plain blue or red. Leah was calm, but tried to get them to understand that we were looking for a design that was masculine.

Literally, there were none.

Now, we could have found an anime design or something like that, but we thought it was odd that not a single notebook could be found with truly masculine colors or designs on it.

And it seems that this is just a tiny example of what is happening to boys in our society.

Culture tries to push boys to the margins. One one side, you have the rude, obnoxious, and crude boy who learns that a real man fights and cusses. He makes fun of everyone and does whatever is necessary to get his own way. On the other side, you have the idea that there is not any real difference between boys and girls, so boys should be feminized. They should just have to adjust to a world where everything is equal.

Which begs the question: If everything is equal, why do boys have to be feminine?

I do not want my son on either of these margins. As Turner grows and matures, I have a specific goal for him. I do not know if we will hit that goal, but it is where we are pointing him. In a culture that wants to mold Turner in the margins, my desire is different. Here is what I pray he will become.

1. Spiritually Strong. Obviously, this is first and primary on my mind. The world needs people who are spiritually strong, but the Church and culture at large is starved for males who are spiritually strong. I want Turner to desire to be like Jesus, who never once wavered from His goal to complete the work that God had for Him to do. I want him to look at the qualifications for being an elder in the Lord’s Church (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), and see those as a benchmark for living his life daily, whether he ever becomes an elder or not.

2. Unashamedly Male. It is not a sin to be a guy, nor is it shameful. “Male and female [God] created them” (Genesis 1:27). Both genders are created in God’s image, and both have extremely valuable roles to play in all parts of society. There are certain arenas of life where either gender can do a tremendous job, but that does not mean male and female are always the same. I want Turner to appreciate being a male and to not let society cause him to feel shame for it.

3. A True Gentleman. Turner already desires to protect his mother. In fact, until just a few months ago, I could not kiss Leah in front of Turner without him trying to pry us apart! I want him to always have that trait within him. I want him to show real honor and respect for ladies (as well as others, such as the aged). I desire for Turner to be mannerly and genteel. In a world that says that chivalry is dead, I want him to be a knight in shining armor!

4. Heaven-Centered. His feet may walk across the grass and soil of Tennessee or beyond, but I pray that Turner realizes that his “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), and that this realization provides the orientation for his life. With that realization, he will know how to treat others, how to stand for truth, how to love like Christ, and how to prioritize each decision in life.

Son, this culture says that what you are is no big deal. That is simply not true. God created you as our wonderful son, and we are going to do all we can to help you realize that you are wonderful because you are a son. In a society that tries to push real manhood to the margins, I pray you will not only be grateful for being a male, but you will show others what it means to be a man after God’s own heart and design.

I love you, son.

QUESTION: Do you feel that we are right in thinking that society is pushing boys to the margins? If so, where do you see this happening?


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