My 2015 Word of the Year

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For the past couple of years, there seems to have been a trend of people selecting a single word to focus on for each year. The word typically represents some area of life in which the person wants to improve, or at the very least, in which he/she wants to focus.

In late 2013, I thought about doing this for 2014, but (honestly) just never selected my word. I thought about it, but just did not put any real time into it, so I let it go.

However, as 2014 wound down and 2015 approached, I knew this was something I wanted to try. Moving and the holidays made it where I didn’t select a word until a few days into the year, but that’s okay. Today, I want to share my thought process and reveal the word I have chosen for 2015.

From the time I started thinking about my word for 2015, I had a general concept that I wanted to work on. Thinking of one word to convey that, however, proved more difficult than I thought.

In short, I want to improve on things such as manners and having a dignified spirit. I do not feel these are things I am woefully inadequate at, but they are areas I need to spend some time focusing on, for sure. Further, I see these ways declining in the larger society, and I would like to do what I can to buck that trend.

Knowing that, I narrowed my thinking down to three words. The were quite similar, but the one I chose seems to capture all of this the best. It may be a very specific word, but I think it puts in my mind what I want to be better at.

First, I considered the word “manners.” While manners are certainly part of what I want to improve upon this year, that seemed to not capture the dignity part of what I was thinking.

So, I moved to the word “gentleman.” I liked this word, and almost went with it, but I think this word has taken on such a double meaning (think “gentleman’s club,” for example) that it did not capture, in a focused way, what I wanted.

Finally, after a lot of thought and prayer, I have settled on this word for 2015:

“Chivalry”

That may be a very old-fashioned word, but it is what I feel is lacking among many men in our society, including myself. It includes having very good manners, but it also carries the sense of dignity that I want to have in my life.

I settled on this word for three reasons:

1. Spiritual. Some may think that a man who treats ladies properly and has great manners is a bit odd, but no one can think that a man who has chivalry is a stumbling block to knowledge of God. Honoring others through good manners and real dignity will mean that I do not stand in the way of people seeing Christ in my life.

2. Relational. Other people deserve to be honored. Most importantly, this goes for my wife, who deserves to be honored simply because she is a lady and she is my wife. But others deserve to be treated with true dignity. I am going to work on things like standing before those who are older than I am, saying “yes ma’am” and “no sir” more often, and trying to bring dignity to various conversations. This should be done for the simple reason that people deserve to be treated with dignity.

3. Parental. As a dad, I want my son to be a man who still is chivalrous simply by following my example. I want my daughter to know that this is how a real man treats ladies, especially the lady to whom he has pledged his life.

Will I be perfect at this? Certainly not! That is why I have chosen it for my word. I have a long way to go to be a man who has real dignity and decorum in all settings and who treats people with the respect and honor they deserve. But a few steps in that direction this year will be a great way to spend 2015.

Here’s to being a person of chivalry!

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I Am Not Going to Do That

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There are some things that must be done in life that are not on the top of the favorites list. Kids don’t want to eat their vegetables.  People are generally afraid of public speaking and they don’t like trips to the dentist. Not everyone smiles at a Monday morning after a long holiday. Life demands doing many things that are not always fun or easy. Some people work at hospitals and nursing homes. Some people pick up our garbage. Others are advocates for those who are abused. Not every job is full of tasks that are enjoyable all the time.

This is why I sometimes struggle when I hear preachers of the gospel say that there are certain things they are not willing to do. “I will preach on Sundays, but don’t expect me to visit much.” “I will write articles, but I am not going to deliver food to the sick.” “I will study and teach Bible classes, but I am not going door to door.” “I will prepare radio programs, but I am not going to drive Brother Jones to his appointment.”

I could make a very long list of things that preachers end up doing that they will never learn about in college or preacher’s training school. It would take up several pages. Many of the things on the list would not be believed by those who read it, except for preachers who have been working for quite some time and who have been there and done that. But I will say this: There is absolutely nothing that I will not do for people as a servant of Jesus Christ.

People are created in God’s image. People need other people. Every person who preaches the gospel must be dedicated to becoming all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:22). When you sign up for evangelism you have to lay personal preferences aside and just go. The commission says, “Go.” You don’t go on your terms. You certainly aren’t saved on your terms.

If you want to preach the gospel, you can’t have an “I am not going to do that” list. And really, if you are going to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, you can’t have one either. Jesus left heaven, being equal with the Father, humbled Himself, came in the likeness of men, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And this is the mind of Christ that we are all supposed to have ourselves (Phil. 2:5-8).

I leave you with these thoughts: The world needs the gospel. It is the only power that exists that saves men eternally (Rom. 1:16). Christians are the envoys of this glorious message. It must be delivered at every cost. If not us, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?

“If You say go, we will go. If You say wait, we will wait. If You say step out on the water, and they say it can’t be done, we’ll fix our eyes on You and we will come.” – Rita Springer

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24

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From Passive to Participation

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Most of the people who will be reading these words will know that A Legacy of Faith is a cooperative effort. It is the brainchild of our son, Adam , but he would be the first to tell anybody that it is not a “one man show.”

While he does most of the work, he has asked other members of our family to contribute to it from time to time. His wife, Leah, contributes blog posts; as do his sister Amber Tatum and her husband, Jeremiah Tatum. Mom and Dad even “get into the act” every so often. My wife, Donna, and I submit materials for the blog.

What some may not know is that A Legacy of Faith is a “multi-media” endeavor. One example of that is Adam and Leah produce a podcast every two weeks. [Editor’s note: Starting last week, we started experimenting with a weekly podcast on Thursdays.] In their words, the podcast is “…designed to help your family survive the day, plan for tomorrow, and always keep an eye on eternity.”

The purpose of this article is to comment on a phrase I heard during one of the podcasts. Adam and Leah were talking about some ideas for helping young children understand the importance of, and prepare for, worship. In a phrase that Adam said just kind of came to him as he was talking, he said the purpose was to move the children “from passive to participation.”

It has been weeks since I first heard that podcast and that phrase, but I keep thinking about it. It seems to me that this should be a worthy goal for any parent, elder, preacher, Bible class teacher — anybody. Should it not be at least a part of our purpose to guide people to a place where their worship, indeed their entire relationship with God, moves from passivity to participation?

It occurs to me, though, that, before I can help others do that, I need to look into the mirror. It would seem to me that it would be very difficult to encourage, exhort, or to use any other means to move people to participation if, in my own life, they see nothing but a person who is passive. 

Is it not true that James was trying to encourage people to move from passive to participation when he wrote the following?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (James 1:22-25, ESV, emphasis added)

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The Real Philippians 4:13

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What you are about to read may burst your bubble. You have come to know the verse in the Bible that reads, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” This may be one of the top ten most misunderstood passages in the Bible. There is no doubt that it is an inspirational verse. It is an empowering verse. But take a closer look. You may be missing its true meaning.

If one were to take a poll of young people and ask for their favorite Bible verse, this verse would probably be number one. I know because I have conducted the survey more than once. This one usually wins because (1) It is fairly short and easy to remember, and (2) it is a positive verse and young people are looking for power passages like this one. Most of the time, Philippians 4:13 is interpreted to mean, I can do anything I put my mind to with Christ’s help. While that sentiment is not Biblically incorrect from a spiritual standpoint, when Paul wrote this, the original text describes something entirely different in his mind.

Paul was in prison. He did not know if he was going to live or die (see chapter 1). The Philippian congregation had been one of his biggest supporters, both emotionally and physically. They had wanted to help him more and so they had sent Epaphroditus as one who would assist (Phil. 2:25, 30). In Philippians 4:10-12, Paul shows appreciation for their desire to help, and he includes these thoughts:

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

It is within this context that the apostle says, literally, “I have the power to overcome everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Paul was not saying that Jesus was going to give him strength to accomplish whatever he had set his mind to do. He was actually telling these Christian brethren that he could endure imprisonment, persecution, and even death for the cause of Christ, because Jesus was giving him the strength to prevail. This passage was written by a man in duress, who had learned that he did not need much to find satisfaction. The emphasis is steadfast endurance in tribulation. Paul is saying no matter how bad it gets, Jesus will get him through it.

It is wonderful that people have latched on to this powerful passage. For whatever reason, the words of this verse have seemed to resonate with multitudes of Christians. Just remember, this passage is not about setting your personal goals and achieving them. While God can empower us to reach unlimited heights, He is most interested with your humble obedience to Hs greater will. Philippians 4:13 is about God’s power to help you face tribulation in the name of His Son.

And when you think about it, is there a nobler thing for any Christian, than to endure suffering for the One who came to earth and died to save men from sin?

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

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Episode 12: Getting 2015 Off to a Great S.T.A.R.T. {Podcast}

(Player not working? Click here to listen on the blog.)

2015 is here! How can you get your year off to a good start? In this short devotional podcast, we share five ways to get going in 2015 in a great way. Below, see the five ways, and find resources to help you.

LOFpodcast (1)

Off to a Great S.T.A.R.T.

S= Stand in the awe of God

T= Trust in the blood of Jesus

A= Attend worship regularly, as well as the other activities of the church

R= Read through the Bible (or at least one of the Testaments)

T= Take it to the Lord in prayer

Resources

Article: “Read the Bible in 2015” [Biblical Notes]

Bible Reading Plans:

Through the Bible [pdf]

New Testament [pdf]

Old Testament [pdf]

More from A Legacy of Faith

To subscribe to A Legacy of Faith by email for free (and get a free eBook) click here.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Subscribe via rss

Find us on Stitcher Radio

Visit the show archives

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Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

Our 2014 Year in Review

A year that began as the Faughn Family of Four ended as A Legacy of Faith. This has been a major year of transition for our site, and we are amazed by the reception our family site has received. From Facebook likes to email subscribers to podcast listeners, we have been amazed by the way you have helped us get through the switch to A Legacy of Faith and then helped us hit numbers that we have trouble believing are real.

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So, as we end this calendar year, here is our 2014 year in review, and our plans for 2015. Enjoy!

Top 14 Posts of ’14

As 2014 comes to a close, we thought it would be interesting to see what articles drew the most views this year. Here are our top 14 posts, by number of views, from 2014 (publication date in parenthesis).

#14: “Before Your Kids’ Eyes” : 6 Things Your Kids Need to See You Do Daily (March 28, 2014)

#13: Why Your Son Doesn’t Answer: Understanding a Boy’s Brain (February 12, 2014)

#12: Welcome to A Legacy of Faith (June 12, 2014)

#11: Our Tearful Announcement (September 15, 2014)

#10: 5 Mistakes Parents Making (September 30, 2014)

#9: 10 Budget Basics for Families (March 12, 2014)

#8: We Homeschool, but You Don’t Have To (or, “Why a Lot of Homeschoolers Give Homseschooling a Bad Name”) (January 17, 2014)

#7: 6 Small Things that Erode Marital Trust (July 9, 2014)

#6: The Implications of Goodbye (August 12, 2014)

#5: On Disruptive Children in Worship (October 21, 2014)

#4: The Main Issue is Not the Role of Women (or Instrumental Music or…) (December 11, 2014)

#3: A Response to Victoria Osteen about Worship (September 2, 2014)

#2: Dressing Our Daughter for Who We Want Her to Be (March 4, 2014)

#1: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue Church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

Some Observations from the Top 14

From those top 14 posts, and the rest of the articles from this year, here are some things we observe.

1. Draw a line at #14. These top 14 were clearly the top 14 posts, but interestingly, starting at #15, there were a lot of posts clumped together in number of views. From #15 through about #30 the numbers were almost exactly the same, as far as the number of views each post had. It was almost as if it were meant to be “14 for ’14!”

2. Mondays are not a good day for blogging. If I am correct in my calendar-ing, only 1 post in our top 14 comes from a Monday. No matter who is writing the articles, the middle days of the week easily get more page views than Mondays on a consistent basis.

3. Lists still draw views. We do not write a lot of “5 of this” or “10 of that” kind of posts. But nearly every post like that we have written this year was in the top 14 of the year.

4. Surprise post tops the list. Our #1 post of the year is also the most viewed post of all time on our site. When I wrote it, I didn’t think it would draw many views, and did not worry about how “SEO-friendly” it was. Sometimes, just writing from the heart touches a lot of people, and that is really why we have this site.

Plans for 2015 at A Legacy of Faith

With the year 2014 behind us at the end of today, what are some of the things we are looking forward to in the coming year? Here are some goals and announcements for the coming year.

1. For one thing, starting tomorrow, we are going to experiment with a weekly podcast, instead of having just two episodes each month. Several will be shorter, “devotional-style” podcasts (including tomorrow’s New Year’s program), but we think this will be fun to try. The plan is to try this experiment for two months and evaluate how effective these weekly programs are. (Don’t know about the podcast? Click here to learn more and find out how to subscribe for free.)

2. We also hope to continue to grow our email subscription list. This is the easiest way for readers to get our posts, and we want to see the number of subscribers grow. (More about that in a moment.)

3. Finally, we hope to have at least one new book produced in the first half of the year, and a few of other things–from free printables to other materials–throughout the year.

Goals for 2015

As the year begins tomorrow, we have some goals for the site. We do not seek these numbers just for the numbers themselves, but because each number represents someone else who we are honored to help through this site.

Email subscribers (currently 612): This is a big goal, but we would like to get the number over 1000 this year.

Facebook fans (currently 921): Again, this is a lofty goal, but we’d like to see the number nearly double, going to 1700.

Podcast downloads (currently averaging about 450 per program): We know these numbers usually grow slowly, so we would like to see our number grow to about 600 per program.

Help Us Reach These Goals

Join our email list for free. We’ll never spam you, and you will simply get our posts delivered to your email inbox, plus we’ll send you a free eBook.

Join our Facebook page.

The final way you can help is to donate to the work we are doing on the site. We do not seek to make A Legacy of Faith a big money-maker, but it does take money to run the site, blog, and podcast each month. In recent weeks, we have received a few donations to help, and we are touched by each one. If you are willing to make a donation to help with our efforts, every bit helps. Click here to make a donation–of any size–to A Legacy of Faith.

As we bid 2014 goodbye, we say “thank you” again. We enjoy putting each article, printable, and podcast out there for you to enjoy. Just know that every page view, email, podcast download, and interaction through social media helps spur us on to keep doing the best we can do with our little corner of the internet. Thank you for making 2014 so much fun.

We simply pray that 2015 provides even more opportunities to share encouragement and information with you and your family through A Legacy of Faith.

Lord willing, we’ll see you next year, and we’ll keep trying to help your family survive the day, plan for tomorrow, and always keep an eye on eternity!

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Turning the Page: Getting Spiritually Ready for 2015

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Usually this time of year provides time for a combination of reflection and resolve. We think back on the past year. We reflect on good times and bad times. We reflect on personal and collective victories and defeats. We think about things we could have done better and about times when we were satisfied with our efforts and the outcomes of those efforts.

At the same time, we look to the future. Whether or not we go through some sort of formal process of making those “new years resolutions,” most of us are, to some degree, “resolved” to do a better job with something in the new year than we have in the past. Again, these new goals may be very personal or they may involve a lot of people.

Often, the phrase, “turn the page” is almost synonymous with “leave behind.” We’ve heard that in reference to former relationships, occupations, etc. When somebody says, “I’ve turned the page on that,” he or she usually means that whatever the subject is no longer has any influence on them. In fact, they would like for others to believe that they no longer even think about whatever they’ve “turned the page” on.

I’m not sure that can ever be the case. It seems to me that we can, in fact, turn the page without totally ignoring the past.

In fact, it seems to me that the pages that have been turned have helped to bring us to whatever and wherever we are today. Those pages may help us to set goals and make resolutions for the future. Those goals and resolutions may involve building on those former chapters of our lives or they may involve a total change of direction.

Either way, I would like to suggest some things that turning the page does not mean:

  • Turning the page does not mean that the experiences of the past never happened.
  • Turning the page does not mean that those past experience are not presently affecting us.
  • Turning the page does not mean that there will be no impact on our future.
  • Turning the page does not mean that we must continue to live in the past.
  • Turning the page does not mean that there is nothing to be learned from our previous experiences, relationships, etc.

As we prepare to turn the page from 2014 to 2015, it is my prayer that we are all getting ready for some of the greatest “pages” in our lives. I cannot help but wonder how we will look back on 2015 as we turn that page.

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The Two Hardest Days to be an Atheist

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What do atheists do for Christmas? December 25th must be an awkward day for them. Do they spend Christmas vacation with their families? Do they exchange gifts with anyone? Do they reject Christmas bonuses from their employers? Do they do anything that is associated with Christmas whatsoever? Or do they disappear for a month? It seems in order to be consistent that atheists would need to reject everything the rest of the world is doing on December 25th. That would be a hard day to be an atheist.

At some point, the truth about Jesus and the existence of God is a very difficult thing to get around. Maybe atheists can recognize Jesus as a historical figure and simply call him an imposter. Maybe they can deny everything the Bible and the design of creation say and only regard the physical universe as some type of happy accident. But two things about God and His Son are so intrusive: A virgin womb and an empty tomb. Jesus came into the world through a door marked “no entrance” and he left through a door marked “no exit.” He was “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22).

God is not going anywhere. He is in everything we see and always will be (Romans 1:20). One can try to manipulate the facts as much as they can to fit them into their own system of unbelief, but the facts will remain. Even though December 25th is not the actual known day of the birth of Christ, and even though the Bible never commanded that it would be a holy day – the world still knows that Jesus came, that he was born of a virgin, and that he died and rose again. If not, there is no reason to celebrate.

Another day is coming that will be even harder for the atheist. It is the appointed day chosen by God in which “He will judge the world in righteousness by the One whom He has ordained, and He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). God is not limited by time, but there is a day on the human calendar already set in His mind for the end of the universe. That day is not going to be hard for the atheist because he is an atheist, for there will be no atheists anymore on that day. It will simply be hard for him because it will be too late to respond to Jesus so as to save the soul from eternal hell.

It may be convenient to be an atheist most of the time. You can do whatever you want to do and not answer to anyone. But now and then I wonder how atheists feel about the reminders of certain days. I wonder if they are too deceived to care anymore. I wonder if they are satisfied with living a life without any measure of hope. I wonder if they are extra lonely on December 25th. I wonder if they are ready for the day that is coming when their knees will hit the ground.

“For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” – Romans 14:11-12

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Two Years of My Mentoring Group: What I’ve Learned

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In 2013, I began meeting monthly with a wonderful group of young men in what I call a “mentoring group.” After just a handful of meetings, I knew this was something that I was going to really enjoy doing. In fact, after just three meetings, I blogged about it in a post called “Inside My Mentoring Group.”

Now, it has (almost) been two years. My 2014 group will be having our final meeting in early January, as my moving led to no available dates in December. Still, we are all committed to meeting for the final time and growing closer together.

After a great year with my 2013 group and 2014 group, I want to share some of what I have learned. Keep in mind that confidentiality is a key component of the mentoring program, so I will not be speaking to too many specifics. Still, there are several reasons why I hope to do this again in the future.

I have learned that men need the support of other Godly men. While society says that men are supposed to be self-starters and self-sustainers, we need others who can “hold our hands up” and with whom we can share both triumphs and struggles. The support these men have given each other–both in meetings and throughout the year–has been tremendous.

I have learned that some men open up faster than others. Some are just quieter, or less quick to share that dreaded word: “feelings.” Still, with the knowledge that confidence is real and that anyone can share anything and will not be slammed, each person has opened up over the course of the 12 months about various areas of life. It seems that this grows as the year goes along, and for that I am grateful.

I have learned that some think the preacher is perfect. I had one great young man say he was worried about what he was getting into, because it was “the preacher” who was doing this. After I admitted to weakness and we all laughed a few times together, though, he said that was his major takeaway: that the preacher isn’t perfect, but just another man striving to do his best.

I have learned that men will read…if the books are interesting. While the mentoring group is not a book club, we utilize books each month to lead our discussion. Some of the books have not been as appealing as others, but some have really gotten the attention of all of us. In year 2, I changed out a few of the books, simply because the ones that were used in the first year were not as good as I had thought they would be for this purpose. Below is a comparison of each year’s list of books (the links are to Amazon, if you wish to purchase any of the books).

Month20132014
JanuaryCreating Your Personal Life Plan (Michael Hyatt)Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood (Dennis Rainey)
FebruaryStepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood (Dennis Rainey)The Conviction to Lead (Albert Mohler)
MarchWho You are When No One's Looking (Bill Hybels)Who You Are When No One's Looking (Bill Hybels)
AprilWhen Work and Family Collide (Andy Stanley)When Work and Family Collide (Andy Stanley)
MayFighting For Your Marriage (Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg)7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness (Eric Metaxes)
JuneThe Barnabas Factor (Aubrey Johnson)The Barnabas Factor (Aubrey Johnson)
JulySex is Not the Problem...Lust Is (Joshua Harris)Sex is Not the Problem...Lust Is (Joshua Harris)
AugustThe Servant: A Simple Story about the Essence of True Leadership (James C. Hunter)The Servant: A Simple Story about the Essence of Leadership (James C. Hunter)
SeptemberPoint Man (Steve Farrar)Point Man (Steve Farrar)
OctoberThe Power of Full Engagement (Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz)Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success (John Maxwell)
NovemberSamson and the Pirate Monks: Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood (Nate Larkin)The Power of Full Engagement (Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz)
DecemberFinishing Strong (Steve Farrar)Finishing Strong (Steve Farrar)

I have learned that I love these men, and they will do great things in this world for the Lord. Not all have the same talents, but these men want to serve the Lord. They want to honor their wives. They want to be godly dads. They want to be Christian businessmen, teachers, preachers.

And they will, because their desire to serve God is remarkable. They have shaped my life far more than I have shaped theirs. I am a better man for having been part of these groups. My plan is to take 2015 off, due to moving and not having the time to look for those who will be in the group, but also to think through the program again so that, should I take it up again in 2016, it is even better.

To the 9 men who have been part of the mentoring program so far, thank you. Now, go Finish Strong!

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The Phone Call

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My telephone rang. 

That happens a lot. It is not all that unusual for my phone to ring.

However, this time it was unusual. The ringing itself was not all that unusual, but the conversation that followed was easily the most unusual telephone conversation I have ever had.

When I saw the name on the caller ID, I knew whose voice I would hear. I also thought I knew what her message would be.

I had talked to her a couple of days earlier. She told me then that the doctors had done everything they could for her husband and that the time had come to just try to make him comfortable until the time when he passed from this life. I was sure she was calling to tell me that the time had come. 

I was wrong. What she told me was that her husband wanted to talk to me. The next voice I heard was that of a man whose time on earth was quickly drawing to an end.

How do you start a conversation with a man who knows he is on his deathbed? What do you say to a man who knows he is dying and who knows you know he is dying? 

In this case, I did a lot more listening than talking. As I listened, I learned what was on his mind. I also learned about some things that should be on the minds of all of us.

A year or so earlier, I was in a gospel meeting where this couple lived. Even then, the health of my brother in the Lord and friend was not good. It had not been good for quite some time. Although I was the older of the two of us, it appeared that I would outlive him.

During that gospel meeting, we got to spend quite a bit of time together. His health had long since made it impossible for him to work. Since Donna and I were staying with him and his wife, we had some time to talk.

During a private conversation between just the two of us, he told me that, if I did, indeed, outlive him, he wanted me to conduct his funeral service. I told him that, if there was any way possible, I would do that.

Now, from his deathbed, he was asking if I remembered that conversation. Of course I did. How do you forget a conversation like that? He also wanted to make sure that I would honor his request. Once again, I told him I would, if at all possible. 

It was difficult to understand all that he was saying. Some of that was due to his weakened condition. I suspect that some of that was also due to some medications.

However, as I listened and as I reflect on what I did hear and understand, two themes emerged. 

First, there was discussion about relationships. He talked about our friendship, his role as a husband and father, his relationship with people with whom he worshiped regularly, and other subjects that would fit under the broad umbrella of “relationships.”

Second, my friend who it must be remembered knew he was about to leave this life, talked about eternity. His wife had told me in that conversation a couple of days earlier that he had been talking to his nurses about their souls. In my conversation with him, he talked about his soul.

I have no idea how many sermons I’ve preached or conversations I’ve had with people about things I thought were important and needed. Nothing I have ever said would be more important than what I heard during that telephone call. The value of relationships and the importance of preparing for eternity are far more important that many of the things upon which we tend to place a great deal of value.

If I could take just a little liberty with those two things and combine them, I don’t think I’d be off the mark to suggest that our relationship with Jesus determines our eternal destiny. After all, it was Jesus who said, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Thank you, my friend, for reminding all of us of that. I pray that what I said at your funeral last week was appropriate.

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Photo background credit: Nicko Gibson on Creative Commons