Category Archives: Family

The Parable of Two Stained Shirts

two stained shirts

The First Shirt

A certain man was wearing a white-as-snow dress shirt for a date with his wife. He worked quite hard all day on the job, and though his job was boring, he worked with a smile, knowing that his effort was bringing in money to support his family. His home life was stressful, but pleasant, and he was so excited, because tonight was a long-overdue date night with his wife.

The sitter was actually a few minutes early, and the couple left for their date in the cold weather of winter. When they arrived at the restaurant, the man–being a gentleman–helped his wife take off her coat and get in her seat. Then, he walked around to the other side of the table and removed his coat.

As he did, he realized that his pen from work had been slowly leaking ink, and his shirt had a stain right at the base of the pocket. He was ashamed, because he wanted to look nice for his wife, who always was beautiful. Though the stain was small, he knew that her eye would be on it, because…well…that’s what people do.

Of course, she saw the stain. It was hard to miss on this crisp white shirt. And it was especially difficult for her to miss, since she had gotten up early that morning to iron this shirt, because she thought he looked especially handsome in it. Now, all that hard work seemed to be tossed aside by the ink that probably ruined the shirt.

But, the wife, bringing honor and respect to her husband, smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it, honey. When we get time, I’ll do everything I can to clean it up. We can save the shirt, but it will take some work. You just need to get rid of that pen!”

The Second Shirt

Another man, who worked at the same office, was also going home that night. He didn’t know what he was going to see, because his life at home was chaotic. He had “checked out” long ago, and it was obvious that his wife was more interested in raising the kids than in falling in love with him again.

Still, he dressed well for work. Just by coincidence he also donned a crisp white shirt that day that he had ironed the night before while watching the game. He also worked hard all day, because they had to pay for all the cell phone bills, car payments, and cable packages that seemed to bring some entertainment and smiles to the house. They were the only things that seemed to any more.

As he got home, he saw his wife and went to the closet to take off his coat. Wouldn’t you know it? His shirt also had a stain from a company ink pen! Just as with the first man, it was small, but noticeable.

Just as he saw it, his wife came around the corner. As you would expect, her eye went straight to the stain. Her face dropped and she said, “Just throw that thing out. It’s not worth the effort.”

Moral

Every husband or wife, just like the shirts, has stains. We will notice the stains, because that is human nature. The only question for each husband and wife to ask is, Am I willing to do all I can to help and work through the stains, or will I take the “easy” way out and throw my marriage away?

The choice is yours. Your marriage is essential, but are you treating it as dispensable?

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Background photo credit: Robert Sheie on Creative Commons

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A Prayer for Single Christians

Father,

Thank You for blessing the Church with committed Christians. It is a joy to get to work beside such wonderful people, and You have made it so by placing us all together in a wonderful family. Thank You, and we praise You for this blessing.

I confess, though, that I often focus more on those who are married, though not intentionally so. I fear that, too often, I fail to remember my brothers or sisters who are not married, but who are single Christians. But they are so special, and the work done by Your people would not be what it could be without their effort.

Today, Lord, I’m praying to You for them.

I pray for those who would like to find a spouse, but who struggle to do so. Give them strength to press on in patience, even when they feel lonely or even like they are not desirable. Help us to show them they are truly important, and that we could not do all we do in Your Name without them.

I pray for those who have no desire to marry. They are strong, but have to sit through service after service where families are emphasized, knowing all the while they do not have that desire for their own lives. They are dedicated to Your cause, and use their singleness as a real asset. Forgive us when we fail to utilize that asset in our planning and work.

I pray for those who are “single again,” and I ask them to forgive me if that phrase is not one they find proper. Some are hurting, because the person they thought was that “special someone” is still alive, but has walked out, leaving feelings of loneliness, hurt, and abandonment, and adding more pressures in this life than they should have to bear. Help us shoulder those burdens with them, and show Christ in our attitude of compassion.

My prayer is also for those who hurt when certain dates come around, because the man or woman they spent years–or even decades–with has passed from this life. They have so much wisdom from experiences, both good and difficult. May we use their wisdom, while giving them the care and compassion they so much deserve. Father, thank You for these amazing men and women, who show faithfulness through grief.

Lord, help the Church to be a place where those who are single always feel important, and where they can use their talents, wisdom, time, and money to help Your Kingdom grow. Whatever they may need individually, give all of us wisdom and care to see and meet their needs. Whatever they may have to offer in Your Name, let them know that You see their good works, but You also see when they have pain. Help them to know You as their King, but also as their caring Father.

Teach us, Lord, what to say–and what not to say–so that our precious brothers and sisters feel close and comforted by our words as we all seek to serve You together.

Again, Lord, thank You for the family that is the Church, and for every member, no matter their stage in life. And thank You for sending Jesus to make that possible.

In Him,

Amen.

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2014: The Year You Do Your “Great Work”

He was nearing completion of one of the most remarkable renovations of all time. Though a trusted man, he was still just a servant of the king, but was allowed to go home to lead a construction project that boggles the mind in its scope.

…and Nehemiah did it.

In just 52 days, he led a downtrodden people in the rebuilding of the wall surrounding Jerusalem, and in repairing the gates that hung around the wall. It is a remarkable work, but one that could have ceased had Nehemiah lost perspective.

The enemies of the work tried several ways to stop the progress. They realized that, if the people could do this amazing work, they would be re-energized and would be a force. The enemies also realized they could not ransack a city with walls as easily as one that was in ruins! So, they set about to stop the work. Thankfully, due to Nehemiah’s leadership, the enemies failed in their plot.

As the work was nearing completion, the enemies sent a letter to Nehemiah asking for a meeting on the plain of Ono. Nehemiah saw through the little scam, as we are told his realization, “But they intended to do me harm” (Nehemiah 6:2).

His response is one that needs to be our response to naysayers. Read it carefully: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3).

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Here was a man who saw a terribly difficult work, but saw it as great. He saw the danger, but he also saw the finish line, and he refused to let anything stand in his way of doing this great work.

Here is my challenge to you. It is one that challenged me when I got this idea from a recent sermon by Andy Stanley. The challenge is to select your “great work” for 2014 and not let anyone or anything distract you from finishing it.

To help you, we have created the photo that serves as this post’s title header for you, utilizing Nehemiah’s great answer. We want you to put this picture in a place that will inspire you to do your “great work” in 2014.

Maybe for a homemaker, the picture needs to be printed and put on the bedroom door of her children. Moms, you are doing a “great work” in building into the lives of those children. Don’t let anyone steer you away.

Maybe for a businessman, the picture needs to be put above the photos of his family in the office. Ever since that new woman started working down the hall, you’ve let your mind stray a little, and you need to keep about your “great work” of providing for your precious family.

Maybe for a college student, the picture needs to be the wallpaper on his laptop or tablet, so he isn’t tempted to view porn after a late night of studying. The “great work” for him is overcoming a growing addiction that is encouraged by his peers on campus.

Maybe for you, the picture needs to be the background of your phone, because you have a relationship that has gone way too far, and you need to have the encouragement to hit “decline” when he or she calls again. Your “great work” is ending that relationship; stopping it cold.

Maybe for a preacher, the photo needs to be placed inside your Bible, to remind you that, as discouraging as your work might be right now, you are doing a “great work” in being faithful to the Word, no matter how far others may drift away from it.

For you, maybe the picture needs to be placed in your wallet, so the next time you are in the gas station, you won’t spend those few dollars or swipe that card again for cigarettes or a cold one. The “great work” you are doing is overcoming something that has become a habit.

And maybe for you, the picture needs to be on the inside of your front door. Why? So that, each time you leave, you are reminded that someone–a neighbor, coworker, classmate–needs to hear about Jesus, and your “great work” is to share Him…today.

Download the picture, or print it out and put it wherever it will most help you to do your “great thing” for the Lord. Let’s make 2014 the year that our enemy–the devil (1 Peter 5:8)–tries with all his might to get us to stop, but we say, “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down!”

COMMENTS: What is your “Great Work” for 2014? Where will you put the picture to help you? Share in the comments to encourage us all as we strive to do a great work for the Lord!

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Photo background credit: Ski China on Creative Commons

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Praying for the Hurting This Christmas

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” So goes the often-played Christmas song that is beloved by many. For a lot of folks, the holiday season–especially Christmas–is the time of year they most look forward to. There are traditions galore that lend themselves to a happy time for so many people.8192128105_462cc2884a_b

However, for some others Christmas is a very difficult time. They may enjoy a lot of the traditions, but there is a heart that is aching inside. As family and friends enjoy get-togethers and other traditions, they usually have fun, but it is tempered by hurt and pain.

This holiday season, I want us to remember them in prayer. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some who need our prayers.

Recent Divorcees. This is especially true for the innocent party. They remember special gifts or how they had started some new Christmas traditions. Now, those dreams are dashed and they know there is one fewer gift under the tree.

Widows/Widowers. I have talked with some widows, especially in the first year of their loss, who literally dreaded Christmas. There was so much emotion invested in this holiday, and now that is gone. Each year, that place at the table is empty, and it hurts.

Others Who Has Lost Loved Ones. Some families have lost children this year. Can you imagine the pain of not being able to buy gifts and see those little eyes twinkle on Christmas morning? Others have lost a parent or dear friend. They will hurt when they do not see that person around the table.

Doctors and Nurses. I put these on the list, thinking particularly of those who must work on Christmas day. Those who work in nursing homes or assisted living homes also need to be considered. They will do their best to spread some Christmas cheer in places where that is not easy to do.

There are many others who could be added, but I’d like to hear your additions to this list. In the comments, share other people who need special prayers this time of year.

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Photo credit: R. Nial Bradshaw on Creative Commons

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Coca-Cola Captures Young Parenthood Perfectly

A recent Coca-Cola advertisement from Argentina has gone viral for one simple reason: it is the truth. Watch and enjoy.

(trouble viewing video? Click here to watch.)

Being a parent is frustrating, but the rewards could not be greater. The more my children frustrate me, the more I find myself wanting to love them and see them grow and mature. I know this is only a commercial, but what it captures is perfect.

It is also Biblical:

Behold, children are a  heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. … Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. (Psalm 127:3,5)

In a world that says children are a nuisance and get in the way of what’s really important, I’m thankful that Coca-Cola captures what most parents really feel. We may get angry and frustrated, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

QUESTION: What are your reactions to this commercial? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Not All Things in Moderation

For years, people used the simple quip “all things in moderation.” It was a short and memorable statement, meant to show that life was to be lived with balance. It has surely been helpful to many people over the years, as it helped them do fun things, but to look at the bigger picture. For example, the phrase helped people not eat 6 slices of ooey-gooey chocolate fudge cake (yummmmmmm). But I digress.

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As helpful as the old saying is, there are some things I do not want to do in moderation.

No, I’m not talking about sinful things. I shouldn’t want to do those things at all! Instead, I am thinking of good things, but things that I believe should be “out of balance” because they are so high on the priority list that they consume my thoughts and actions.

What are some things I do not want to do in moderation?

1. Bring glory to God. For the Christian, this should be a consuming passion. Every word, thought, and action should be done to His glory. Simply put, there is no way to do this in moderation. We are either bringing Him glory, or we are not.

2. Pursue my wife. We are married, but I want Leah to know that she is the only person on the planet who holds that place in my heart. I want her to know that she is more special to me today than yesterday, and that continues to grow. If I am only pursuing her “in moderation,” how could she ever really know that?

3. Train my children. Is it even possible to raise up in children in a moderate way? Everything they see from me is training them in some way, so why would I ever consider taking time away, or stepping over to some other work? It should be a constant drive in my heart to live before them, discipline them, and teach them at all times.

4. Honor the Lord’s Church. Some try to do this in moderation, because they “go to church” on Sunday, but don’t speak well of His Body throughout the week. Instead, I want to show people that the Church is not only vital, it is wonderful. Daily, let us resolve to bring honor to the blood-bought Body of our Lord.

5. Respect my heritage. Each day, I should be concerned with the family that blessed me in so many ways. As a Christian, I never want to besmirch the name of Christ. In addition, I should be striving to do good so that those who have done good things before me are honored. (By the way, if you do not have such a heritage, you can change this one to “build a respectable heritage.”) Would those who have gone before and done great things be proud of what I am doing daily? That should be constantly on my mind.

COMMENT: There are many other things that should be done constantly, but I want to hear from you. In the comments, share some of your thoughts. What are some other things that should never be done in moderation?

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Photo credit: Todd Petit on Creative Commons

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Victoria’s Shame

I’m in two fantasy football leagues, and qualified for the playoffs in both leagues. This weekend was the first round of the playoffs in each league. So, we got home from worship yesterday morning and I turned on the TV to try to make sure I had the right lineup set.

It was a great few minutes. Leah was just a few feet away, finishing up preparing lunch in the kitchen. The kids were piled in the living room with me, and we were talking and enjoying a few minutes of both “down” and “together” time. The TV went to a commercial, so I checked my phone to see if there was any other football news I needed to know to get ready for the games.

Then, shame entered our house.

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As the commercial break ended, CBS decided to show an advertisement for an upcoming Victoria’s Secret show. The ad started and, of course, I couldn’t find the remote (I later realized it had slipped between the couch cushions). So, I jumped up and stood in front of the TV. As I did, I saw that both of my children had covered their eyes (thankfully).

But as I saw those small children with their faces covered, I felt shame.

I felt shame for my 8-year-old daughter. She is a beautiful little girl, but that’s not the message she’s going to get from Victoria’s Secret. Instead, she is going to be fed the message that she has to look a certain way and flaunt it before a gawking world in order to be beautiful. It is shameful that little girls like her are constantly fed such a skewed image of beauty. We teach Mary Carol that a truly beautiful girl is one who is sweet and who smiles. Our prayer is that our message gets through, instead of the non-secretive message from Victoria.

I felt shame for my 6-year-old son. Here was a moment where my son was curled up on my shoulder, wanting to watch a few minutes of TV with dad. Instead, my son was fed a false view of womanhood; something he should not have to see. Instead, it’s the image he is going to be shown constantly, as his innocent boyhood is stolen by a sex-saturated society. He is going to see the “secret” from Victoria when he shouldn’t have to.

I felt shame for my gorgeous wife. There is no woman on earth more beautiful, both inside and out. Like so many Christian ladies (emphasis on “ladies”), though, she sees this Hollywood-ized view of what is “true” beauty, and lives hearing that that plasticized and in-your-face nudity is what people think is beautiful. Godly, Christian women are both rare and beautiful, but CBS decided to make any who happened to be watching feel like they are less than the best.

I felt shame as a husband and dad. Here I was, having a good moment with my family. We were all in one room, and my choice of channel is what let in such images to our home. No, it was not my choice to see this garbage, but I still felt shame because I’m supposed to protect my home from temptation, and it was forced into all our faces.

I know Victoria’s Secret is not the only store or company who uses such sexuality to sell products. But I was just so angry at having this horrible influence invade my home, when no one in our home asked for it. Such commercials (as well as their billboards, storefronts, etc.) should cause Victoria to feel shame. Instead, they are probably glad that, on this one Sunday, they attacked a family with feelings of shame.

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Photo credit: Audi Inspiration on Creative Commons

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The Faughn Family Christmas Buying Guide : 20 Gifts You Can be Proud to Give

So, you need some Christmas gift ideas. Okay, you probably don’t, since there are a bazillion commercials, ads, and web sites giving you ideas.

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But we want to add our voice to that list. In fact, our goal is to give you 20 items that are (1) affordable, (2) actually good stuff, and (3) in line with Christian values. Oh, and these are not our Christmas list; they are things we either have and enjoy or think you might find to be “just right” for someone on your list.

All of the links below are to Amazon (unless noted otherwise), so just click over, purchase, enjoy having the gifts sent to your door, and pour an extra mug of hot chocolate.

Bibles and Books

English Standard Version Journaling BibleLebanon Road gives these Bibles to our graduating seniors, and they love them. If you know someone who wants to get more serious in taking notes in their Bible, this is a great option, and it isn’t very expensive. The hardcover (which is the only option) is just $23.33, and there are a few options for less through Amazon.

Child Training Bible (not available through Amazon). This fantastic resource helps you mark passages dealing with topics children need to know in a colorful format. Order for $9.00 here. The markers work with an English Standard Version hardback bible, which you can get from Amazon for just $10.57 here.

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Leah and I read this book together not long ago, and it was incredible. This book is for those who may be getting married or couples you like to buy one gift for. A hardcover edition is just $12.44.

Pigma Micron Pens. Okay, so these aren’t books, of course, but if you have someone on your shopping list who likes to make margin notes in their books or Bibles, these are the pens to get. They aren’t terribly expensive, and they rarely bleed through to the other side. The best pack for Bible study has six different colors for only $13.52.

Life Promises for Couples. This is a great little devotional book for a married couple on your shopping list. Compiled by Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, it makes a good gift for a couple who is interested in strengthening their marriage. Pick this book up for just $8.99.

Churches in the Shape of Scripture. This book by my friend Dan Chambers is an easy-to-read page-turner on what makes the Churches of Christ distinct. Would make a great gift for someone in your family who is trying to be evangelistic. The paperback is only $13.49.

Stan Musial: An American Life. My dad is a huge fan of the recently-departed Musial. He greatly enjoyed this book. If you have a baseball fan in your life, you’ll find this book to be a good gift, no matter what team they pull for. Pick it up for just $13.81.

Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. If you have a man on your list who enjoys reading, this is a great book. It is brief, but extremely powerful. The hardback is only $15.16.

Entertainment

The Cosby Show. Of course, this is our favorite TV show of all time. Amazon offers all 8 seasons in one package, but it is actually less expensive to piece together the 8 seasons, so here are the various seasons that you can put together to build up part of the collection, or just go all out and get them all.

Seasons 1 & 2 ($32.99)

Seasons 3 & 4 ($19.89 plus $3.99 shipping)

Seasons 5 & 6 ($18.89 plus $3.99 shipping)

Seasons 7 & 8 ($34.99)

Bewitched. If you have a fan of classic TV on your shopping list, how about a complete series for less than $40? We’ve mined Amazon to find this one. You can get all six seasons of Bewitched for only $36.91 on DVD!

Gilligan’s Island. This classic show was only on the air for three seasons, but they were hilarious. You can get the entire series on DVD for only $29.99.

Tech

TV Guardian LT. We don’t watch a lot of current TV shows, but we have several DVDs we enjoy. Every so often, even these shows use profanity that we do not want to hear, nor do we want our children to hear. The TV Guardian removes this profanity from any close-captioned program or recording (DVD, tape, etc.). We love it! This makes a wonderful family gift starting at about $75.00.

Kindle. While Amazon has produced more upgraded versions of the Kindle, I still use (and love) my older version. It is not only much less expensive, but it is easy on the eyes. If you know someone who loves to read, pick up a Kindle for just $69.00.

Roku 2. So, you know someone who can’t afford a “smart TV?” Get them this wonderful little box, and they can watch all sorts of streaming content on their TV. We use a Roku to stream Netflix, so our whole “cable” bill is less than $10 per month. As of this writing, Amazon has the box for under $50.00.

Quirky Cordies Cable Keeper. This is a small gift, but is very practical for someone in your life who has lots of gadgets they need to plug in and/or charge. It keeps up to five chords separated and neat. Available in four different colors, a pack is just $9.95.

Lemography Smartphone Scanner. One of the more practical gadgets I’ve seen in awhile, this device attaches to your smartphone and scans 35mm film negatives. So, now you can have all those old photos digitized without having to pay someone to do it. The device is just $50.93.

Amazon Prime Membership. A bit pricey for a gift, but if you know someone who loves to shop online, this is a great gift. Provides free shipping on all orders, no matter the size, and many of the items get free two-day shipping. Also provides free streaming of tons of TV shows and movies. A subscription can be gifted for $79.00.

Random

Beau Ties. The bow tie is back, and I am glad. I love bow ties, and i think every guy needs at least one. And, guys, they are really easy to learn how to tie. Some of the best are made by Beau Ties of Vermont. They aren’t cheap, but they look great. Here is a link to a favorite ($45.00), or you can click through to shop around.

Hot Wheels Car Maker. Toy cars are a great gift, but what if you gave a boy the ability to make his own toy cars? Hot Wheels now has a car maker and there are all sorts of available decals and colors. A great and way cool idea for $49.99.

Hydrofarm Germination Station. If you have someone on your list who loves to garden, December is not exactly their favorite time of the year. Why not help them with their soon-to-come Spring start with this small indoor germination device? It’s just $28.46.

So, there you have it. 20 items that are all over the map, but that we hope will help you with your shopping list.

QUESTION: What are some things we’ve missed? Share some of your 2013 shopping ideas in the comments!

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Photo credit: Joe Jukes on Creative Commons

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Two Things to Help You Think of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! We don’t normally post on a holiday, but we wanted to share this with you today, in case you are struggling to really take to heart today’s meaning.

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Thanksgiving is so special because we have so much to be thankful for. Even if your life is not going as you might have planned at the moment, there is something you can thank God for. This short post is designed to give you two ways to help you focus on the real thoughts of gratitude to the Lord.

1. Pinterest “thanks quotes.” On the first day of November, we told you that we were going to try to post a quote or verse about Thanksgiving every day of the month through today. Well…we did it! Today, we will post our 28th quote and these short sayings have certainly been helpful. By the number of re-pins, I’m guessing they’ve been helpful to a lot of people. If you would like to see all the quotes and maybe read them aloud to help with some conversation, here is that board.

2. Thankful napkin holders. On our latest Faughn Family Podcast, we teased something Leah and I were planning to help with some conversation on Thanksgiving day. Now that the day is here, we can let the secret out. We took some simple ribbon and a good pen. We cut the ribbon into 12-inch lengths and wrote short questions on each one. For the children we wrote simple questions like, “What is one reason you are thankful for your grandparents?” or “What is one thing you love about Thanksgiving?” For the adults, of course, the questions are more thoughtful. Our idea is to use these for our dessert napkin holders and talk about the questions and answers between our lunch and dessert, going around the table and letting each person answer his/her question. We think this will help us keep our focus on our blessings for at least a few more minutes than usual.

So, there you have it. These aren’t huge ideas, but maybe they will help you on this Thanksgiving Day to focus for a little while on just how good God has been.

QUESTION: What are some ideas you have or that you currently use to focus on gratitude on Thanksgiving Day?

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Photo credit: Rebecca Wilson on Creative Commons

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Three Reasons I Protect My Marriage

Yesterday, we released our short new eBook, How to Build a Home (Not a House). We often write, and podcast, about marriage and family, because it is one of our great passions. We want families to not only survive, but thrive, despite the constant battle for our homes.

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On June 5, 1999 I stood before a preacher, a crowd of witnesses, and my Lord. Before them all, I said those powerful words, “I do.” As I suppose is true with nearly every new husband, the full weight of what those words meant did not hit me, and they probably still have not fully hit met.

Leah is a treasure, and I firmly believe that God providentially brought us together, but there are other women in the world. And, besides, we live in a “whatever” society, as far as marriage vows go. Why, then, do I fight so hard to protect my marriage?

1. It reflects how Christ protects His Church. As a Christian, I am fully convinced of the truth of Ephesians 5:25-33, where we are told that the husband-wife relationship is an earthly picture of the powerful relationship between Christ and His Church. My life as a husband is meant to show Christ to the world through how I love and lead my wife. Part of that leadership is protection of the covenant we made. Failure to guard those words does not display Christ to a world where He is already so dim to so many.

2. It shows that I am a man of my word.Integrity” is a word that means a lot to me. I am nowhere near perfect, but I want people to know that my word is binding and standing (see James 5:12). There are some things I cannot keep others from thinking about me, but when I said “I do,” I can show that those words resonate and will be kept. When I start flirting with other women or letting my eyes wander, I am forfeiting my integrity. My wife should know that those two simple words, “I do,” are my bond to her forever, and the world should know the same by how I protect my covenant with my wife.

3. Leah is deserving of it. I want a marriage that lasts and is thriving for personal reasons, but I also want such for Leah. She is the woman God gave to me and the one to whom I pledged my life. That was true those years ago, and it continues to be true. As a Christian woman made in the image of God, she is deserving of a man who will stand for the vows of marriage. If she wasn’t, why would I have married her in the first place? But I did, because I knew her to be so, so I want to protect her trust in our relationship and in our vows.

Our world thinks life-long, committed marriage is an antiquated idea. I disagree, and plan to keep protecting my marriage for “as long as we both shall live.”

QUESTION: What other reasons would you give for protecting your marriage? Share your answers in the comments below.

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