Category Archives: Family

“I Have No Daddy”

Sometimes, unscripted TV really does do something that touches the heart. Such was the case with this video that has been making the rounds the last couple of days. Watch the 39-second clip from Jenny Jones:

(Trouble viewing? Click here.)

It is a clip like this that makes me want to get on a mountain and shout. Instead, I’m going to use this blog as my megaphone.

I am tired of being told by the entertainment world and a feminist-gone-wild society that my role is not important. Dads who are truly dads know what it is like to work hard, have constant stress, fight the temptations of our enemy, and try to guide lives toward the future, only to turn on the TV and be the laughingstock of nearly every program.

Yes, men, it is time we did our job well, and it is time we became the hard-working servant-leaders that God requires. But I know plenty of dads who are doing just that, and then we are the brunt of humor for not being cool, or we are crushed by societal trends for being domineering.

That little boy spoke more wisdom in his honest statement than most of our society ever well. Every one of us who is a dad and who is not doing our all to be for our boys and girls what we should be needs to get on our knees before God and repent, then we need to get about being the dad that those children deserve.

But to all of you dads who are godly servants and who are aiming your arrows toward heaven through exhausting work and fervent prayer, thank you. You are the daddy those kids not only deserve, you are the one they need. Keep it up!

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$19 and My Redemption Price

Monday morning was almost a perfect morning around our house.

Almost.

Everyone was up early and happy. Chores were being done, and it looked like everything was going to go like clockwork. However, if you have children, you know that this is just not going to happen.

The kids had done so well, until a small pair of cheap headphones became the source of anger. Fussing for a moment, the children decided to turn the headphones into a wishbone. In the end, both of them lost.

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We decided to make them pay for the headphones out of the money they earn from doing chores. The headphones were cheap ones, only costing about $8, so we made each child bring us $4, since they were both at fault.

About 20 minutes later, though, I was reminded of my own spiritual condition.

As we sat down for breakfast, Mary Carol had written a note to “mommy and daddy.” It said something like this: “I’m sorry about breaking the thing. There are 19 dollars on my bed for you.”

As she brought the note to breakfast, though, she also brought the $19 and handed it to Leah. It was, I think, all the money in her “saving” jar. If it wan’t, it was most of it.

Of course, Mary Carol is eight years of age. She also is about as tender-hearted as could be. She truly felt badly about the headphones. What was her reaction? Give more to be sure she is forgiven.

As I thought about that, it occurred to me that I have tried so many times to do the same thing with God. Of course, there are conditions to salvation. It is a free gift (Romans 6:23), but that gift must be taken. And, since God offers the gift, He has the right to tell us how we should take it.

Too often, though, when I know my sin, I try to add on more just to be sure God really forgives me. If I just pray 30 more minutes every day, that’ll take care of the problem. If I read my Bible more (or read a hard book like Ezekiel instead of the easy ones like James), then maybe God will be happier with me. If I promise to try really hard the next time and invite a neighbor to VBS, maybe God will be more likely to forgive me.

I’ve become my 8-year-old, trying to bring an extra $19, thinking that will make up for my mistake in some extra-special way.

But here’s the difference, and it is what makes the Gospel such a beautiful story. Mary Carol had to bring her hard-earned $4 to pay for the headphones. We made her do that to teach her a lesson. She had to pay a price to learn something about respect and responsibility.

When I come to Jesus, though, He has already paid the price for my redemption. I must come on His terms, but I don’t have to bring my extra $19. I don’t even have to bring my $4. Must I obey God? Of course, but not to earn salvation. I obey Him because I trust that the debt is cancelled.

I just need to bring my obedient trust, and realize that the price has already been paid.

“He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay…”

QUESTION: Why do we often feel “obligated” to go above and beyond to earn God’s forgiveness? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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No More “Automatic” Mondays

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Probably 75% of the time our family is in the car together, we play CDs of worship songs. I’m really proud of our kids for singing along and learning songs, both old and new, that praise God and teach Christian doctrine.

But we do listen to the radio at times, as both of our kids really like music (and they have a dad who does as well). We have found a station in Nashville that plays mostly tame music–we still have to turn away or off at times–and the kids know a few of the songs. Personally, I’m glad they know more worship songs!

Recently, Turner was singing an 80’s favorite around the house, but I noticed he wasn’t getting the lyrics exactly right. (He has a dad with the same problem!) The Bangles sang the famous tune “Manic Monday,” in which the lead line simply says, “It’s just another manic Monday.”

Turner, however, was singing, “It’s just an automatic Monday.” I couldn’t help but laugh, but it makes sense. Let’s be honest, how often do you use the word “manic?”

But as I was thinking recently about his mis-lyric, it hit me that he may have been singing something that too many people feel. A lot of folks just have “automatic” Mondays?

Nearly every week, when I jump on Facebook or Twitter on Monday, my feed is flooded with messages about how “I hate Monday,” or “I wish it were the weekend again.” There are so many complaints about how hard it’s going to be to “get going again,” for no other reason than that it’s Monday.

Today, I’m issuing a challenge. In honor of Turner’s mis-lyric, I’m issuing the No More Automatic Mondays Challenge.

Take a few moments today to get excited about facing the new week. Find someone who needs some encouragement and lift them up. Be grateful for your job and for the income it provides. Stop looking forward to the end of the workweek, and get something done today that even you are amazed you could do on a Monday.

There are days that are harder than others, no doubt. But complaining about a day, just because it is Monday, will not help us be the shining light we should be for the Lord. Even on Monday, He made the day, so let’s honor Him with all we do.

Who is with me? Who is ready to take the No More Automatic Mondays Challenge?

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Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on Creative Commons

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An Un-Common Core

So much has been made recently over “Common Core,” which is designed to bring states under certain standards of education through the public school system. Emotions are high, as everyone has an opinion on nearly every aspect of this system. I have seen nearly countless Facebook and Twitter posts concerning Common Core, mostly attacking the system for various reasons.

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Some of you are already thinking, “Here it comes. This is the ‘we should homeschool our children to avoid this kind of stuff’ post.” Nope. While we do homeschool our children, this post has nothing to do with that.

This post has to do with parents providing an un-common core for their children.

Your children need a different kind of “core” than any a school can give. It doesn’t matter where your children go to school, or if they are homeschooled, there is something that simply cannot happen from 8AM-3PM in a classroom setting.

This is not changed if your children are being taught creation or evolution. It is not changed if they are being fed modern views of sexuality or God’s view of purity. It is not changed if they are in Kindergarten or about to graduate from high school. Public, private, parochial, home-, magnet, or any other name can come before “school,” and this will not change.

It is the very core of their being, and only you can really provide it.

So what is it?

It is the inner character that is only built by a father and mother living out the Gospel 24-hours each day before their children.

There really can be no substitute. When a child walks in to his or her home, there should be a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ being lived out in that home. Dad needs to reflect the image of the heavenly Father. He is to love as Christ loved the Church. He is to be sacrificial, loving, kind, warning, disciplining, merciful, gracious, instructive, and true to convictions. In reality, his goal is perfection; and though he will never reach it, he cannot choose to avoid the responsibility.

Mom needs to reflect the glory of the Church. Her submission does not denote some level of inferiority, but of rare grace. She is to be respectful, kind, forgiving, serious, holding to a pattern, and willing to reach out in healing. Again, her goal is perfection. She won’t reach it, but the effort must be maintained.

Think of the “core” that a child gets who sees such an example. The child sees the balance of male and female. There is leadership and submission. There is punishment and forgiveness. There is love and respect. There is tenderness and discipline.

…and there is consistency.

There is the Gospel, built into the life of a young man or young woman. And that young man or young woman will have the character and conviction to face whatever comes his or her way. His or her parents have taken the time to work on the core of the child, and have not spent their time in selfish endeavors or teaching the child to think of the superficial. The Gospel deals with our core being, so we must deal with the core of our children!

Teachers, administrators and coaches do amazing work, and I am truly thankful for them. None of them, though, no matter how good at their job, can fully build that “core” into a child. They certainly can help, but it is not their job to raise my children. Instead, it takes constant attention to the awesome responsibility of raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That, parents, is a responsibility given to us, and to us alone.

Parents, it’s time we accepted that responsibility. You only have a few years until your children are grown. No one else–not Washington, not your state, not the school, and not even the church–can take your place. No one else will have a bigger impact on your children than you will.

If we do our job, our children will not be like the world around them. They will be quite un-common, but at their very core, they will be faithful to the Lord. The real question is: Shouldn’t that be just what we want? Then start focusing on their core being. Teach them to think of their soul first. Teach them morality before money. Teach them the Lord before looks. Teach them faith over fashion. Teach them Scripture over sports. Show them the Savior’s Gospel before self glory.

After all, if we work on their core faith in God, the other matters will take care of themselves.

Will your children be common at the core, or will you raise them to be uncommon? The answer to that question is your responsibility. Let’s raise children with an un-common core.

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A Quote for Dads

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Enjoy other great quotes of life and faith on Pinterest.

To My Daughter on Her 8th Birthday

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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.

Daddy

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.

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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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Photo credit: Iain Watson on Creative Commons

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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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Photo credit: CodyR on Creative Commons

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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).

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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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Photo credit: Andy Bullock on Creative Commons

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