Roger Marsh: Well, welcome back to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh. Today on Family Talk, Dr. Alex McFarland is back on the program to discuss how to impart truth to young people today, also the promise of Christ's love, forgiveness, and the hope of eternal salvation. This is part two of a conversation he recorded with our own Dr. Tim Clinton at the recent National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Alex McFarland is a Christian apologist, author, evangelist, teacher, and he's an all-around good guy. He's also quite the Beatles trivia buff. Alex McFarland is the host of "Exploring the Word,"
a national daily radio program syndicated on the American Family Radio Network. He's also the host of "The Alex McFarland Show" on NRBTV.
Dr. Alex McFarland is the author of 150 articles and 18 books. In the early 1990s, he created the Truth for a New Generation Conference that continues to help teens and young adults become warriors for God's kingdom, and that program continues nonstop to this day. From 2001 to 2005, he served as president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in college in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Alex McFarland and his wife Angie make their home in North Carolina. Let's join Dr. Alex McFarland and Dr. Tim Clinton for part two of their fascinating conversation on the topic of truth for a new generation, no apology necessary, right here on Family Talk.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Alex, welcome back. What a delightful conversation yesterday as we talk about today's generations and truths for these generations. As we get started, yesterday we referenced how a lot of Christian parents are doing a great job, love and limits, but they're in a culture that is just going against them in every way. Did you see recently where Target stores had those tuck friendly bathing suits, et cetera, in their Pride section and more? I mean, it's just like, it blew up social media. But you start thinking about everything that's out there, wanting to quote, just baptize these kids, immerse them in this wokeism culture. Alex, it's horrifying.
Alex McFarland: It is a hypersexualized culture. Yes, I did see that about Target. Just a few months ago, my wife texted me, I was on the road. She went into a Target, a place that we generally don't shop, I have to tell you. She texted me right in the front were these things for elementary and middle schoolers, T-shirts about drag queen pride, and booty call this and that. T-shirts with pro-gay LGBTQ, trans, drag queen, pride. These were children's clothes. I've got the photo in my laptop. That is just inexcusable. That is inappropriate. But moms and dads are smart. I mean, they are being very savvy about where they shop and what they let their kids have. Because, Tim, you know life for a Christian is stewardship. And there's really, I believe no higher stewardship than our children. I mean, job one for mom and dad is to show them Jesus. And we've just got this little window of time, 18 years.
Dr. Tim Clinton: God help us, seriously.
Alex McFarland: Yeah, I know.
Dr. Tim Clinton: When you're up against the culture, that by the way, it's coming at our kids primarily through that phone, that digital device, that online world and more. And we got to be honest, kids are living up in those zones. And they're getting innuendo messages about sexuality and everything every day. That eventually it begins to erode a lot of what they think, how they feel, how they act. In the midst of it, Alex, what concerns me is parents getting defeated, discouraged, frustrated. And then a little bit of a disconnect begins to happen between say, mom and dad and their children. And we know how important relationship equity is and you've got to stay close. Things like family meals are really important to healthy families or the development of healthy children. But Alex, speak to that issue. I mean, with all that's coming against them, what can you speak into mom and dad's heart in the midst of this battle?
Alex McFarland: It's funny, Tim, as you were talking, I remember a James Dobson quote that I got from a book, and you probably know this quote. But James Dobson said, "It's not chains that hold a marriage and a family together, but threads, 10,000 threads of special memories, moments together." And it's like a tapestry, it really is, meal time. One of the studies that I came across a couple of years ago, of any demographic that is least likely to ever be incarcerated in America, it's Jewish males. And they looked into this. The families right now most likely to still have meal time together and an unplugged meal time are conservative Jewish families, sociologists say. And they discovered that over the breaking of bread is the impartation of values, but just time together. And mom and dad, you don't need money. You don't need all sorts of savvy to do what I'm about to say.
What you need with your children and what your children really do crave is time, T-I-M-E. I mean we can do this. And what I'm about to tell you comes from half a million face-to-face interactions with teenagers over the years. And we've done so many thousands of survey cards and questionnaires. Kids are so tangibly shaped when they see authenticity in the lives of mom and dad. Now, this goes back to two Scriptures, Deuteronomy 6 and Exodus 13, that basically dad, and mom and dad, but especially a godly man in the home is living in such a way that your son and daughter says, "Dad, how do I have what you have?" When it comes to pass that your son will ask you, why do we do these things, then you will say that God delivered us. And so, I'm going to throw an assignment to the men out there.
There was a Harvard University study that when couples have a faith moment together daily, now you and I, we might say have devotions, but the divorce rate according to a Harvard study, one divorce in 1,100 couples. Now, that's worth carving out some time. Plus, there there's another study from UC Santa Barbara, that when couples have a faith journey, there's more emotional connection, there's more physical intimacy. There's just a tighter husband, wife relationship. Now, what I'm saying is we've got a role model this before our kids, that the number one thing in my life is to daily cultivate my walk with Christ, then invest in my marriage. Men, lose at anything else, but win with your family, and having a devotion time with your wife. Look, you can do this, 10, 15 minutes. And your kids are seeing this and they will say, "That's who I want to be."
Dr. Tim Clinton: As we talked about Dr. Dobson, life trashing your trophies, it's what are the real priorities. When it all shakes down, what really matters in the end?
Alex McFarland: Well, and as a pastor, I don't mean to be morbid here, but I've done my share of funerals. And I've counseled literally hundreds of families. I know you have too. In pastoring and church ministry, that's just what I call the crucible of life's experiences. I've never done a funeral where they said, "Oh, wow, we had the best cars," or whatever. It's always like, "I remember mom's baked spaghetti. It was the best you'll ever have." I remember that day that dad taught me how to hit a baseball. I remember grandpa taught me how to change the oil in the car. Mom, she always made a card for my birthday, whatever. See, this is what we're going to-
Dr. Tim Clinton: Strands of connectedness.
Alex McFarland: It is. I became an interim pastor down in Bedford, which is a small town south of Lynchburg. And it was like the first week I was an interim pastor, I was in the ER at 3:00 AM. And I've noticed something going to visit people, like I say at these life moments. I'm telling you, when you're in the final moments of the fourth quarter, and I've been in many an ER, all you're going to care about is God and family. What did I do for my Lord? What did I do for my loved ones? So, folks, I'm going to save you some time as a preacher that's been there and done that, and I know you have too. When it all boils down to what we take with us and what matters most, it's God and family, isn't it?
Dr. Tim Clinton: Dr. Dobson, through the years has had that theme of be there. The greatest gift you can give to your kids is a spiritual heritage. And that one day you'll be there in heaven together and that's what it's all about. You're listening to Family Talk, a division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Dr. Tim Clinton, co-host. Our special guest today, Alex McFarland, again, renowned apologist, author, evangelist, advocate for biblical truth. He's the founder of Truth for a New Generation, apologetics conferences impacting kids all over this country. Alex, I want to come back to that. I mean, our time's running fast here. But you put together a little project called "Raising Godly Kids in a No Rules" generation. Tell us a little bit about that and what it means or what it could mean for us as parents.
Alex McFarland: We're a culture that has been hypersexualized, hyper-narcissized, if that's a word. Videos and AI, photo shop to make it look like something that we're not. And so, how do we get back to those things that are God, morality, responsibility, this stewardship of life? I had really a wake-up call, Tim, when I was at the University of Oklahoma in 2019 speaking. And there was this round table and a lot of cultural experts. I'm going to throw two words out here, familial versus tribal. We were, as the western world has been for 2000 years, a very familial culture. Family is the safe place, but as we've watched the breakdown of the family, every human being wants acceptance, significance.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Connectedness.
Alex McFarland: Yeah, that's right.
Dr. Tim Clinton: So, if they're not getting it at home.
Alex McFarland: They'll get it in the tribe.
Dr. Tim Clinton: They're going to the tribe.
Alex McFarland: Here's the thing. When you and I came up in a familial world and you and I thought about right versus wrong, truth versus error, in a tribal culture, that's not what they're thinking of. They're thinking of shame versus honor. And to be connected to the tribe, this little oasis, it might be toxic, might be destructive, but I feel accepted. I feel significance.
Dr. Tim Clinton: So, you'll begin to blur truth?
Alex McFarland: Yeah, you will.
Dr. Tim Clinton: You'll compromise on truth?
Alex McFarland: You will kick truth to the curb, rather than risk losing the embrace of the tribe. Now, what is the real, if I use the word tribe? The family and the church. Now, in the church, and I hope everybody listening, I hope you're a believer, but I hope you're part of a local church. This is going to sound like a cliche, but I think we've got to love people back to reality. And because we're still human beings, I know things have changed, there's all this global wired up bitcoin world, but human beings still want to feel like they matter to somebody. And when people know that you care about them. And I don't mean just wishy-washy, throw truth and standards out the window, I'm not saying that. But when people know that you're there for them, they truly, truly matter and you love them unconditionally, they will listen to what you have to say.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Alex, in this journey, being attuned to our kids and the battle that they're going through becomes really important, because we can miss that. Think busy, preoccupied moms and dads, for example, can punch the clock or the punch card on "doing religious things." "I'm taking my kids to church, I'm shoving them into Bible school. I'm making sure they go to Awana. We're having family devotions," et cetera. And without a connection. So, then it becomes a little bit more rote religion, if you will, how faith is caught and taught. Talk to us about how truth becomes the heart of your message and this apologetics world that you live in and what you're trying to give to kids.
You're trying to give them hooks so they have an understanding of what they're coming up against in culture, because this is tough. I mean, we're battling time. We all know that. We want to be Disney mom and dads in the midst of it, because we don't want to be hated. And at the same time we're trying to give them something to hold onto, something to believe in, something that makes sense. Am I making sense to you?
Alex McFarland: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I know this is a cliche, but kids are over-scheduled. Kids are way too busy, from sports to soccer, ballet, all these things. And I've got to say for not only emotional and psychological development, kids need some downtime. They need some time to mindlessly just go out, and be outdoors, and some time away from the screens. Look, we're going to spend our whole lives staring at screens. Offer to go with your kid and pick up leaves in the fall and see who can find the prettiest leaf on the ground. Spend time enjoying God's creation. How do we raise kids that have grounding and raising kids that go the distance with Christ and with family? Well, for one thing, I think, like I say, we've got to slow down. And mom and dad, many a childhood has been expended on the sports scholarship that never happened.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Yeah. I think, Alex, in the midst of it and coming from a dad who has lived in that world a lot-
Alex McFarland: Me too.
Dr. Tim Clinton: ... it's how we approach sports, what we're trying to accomplish in the midst of it, because it can be a great gift. You can really learn a lot of lessons in sports. But if the priorities are wrong, if you're not realistic as a parent and more, and you don't keep it fun. And so, there's a lot of dynamics going on here, but I think you're right. Misplaced priorities then become forced and they create a disaster.
Alex McFarland: And I've got to have an identity beyond the game.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Yeah. And then in the midst of it, Alex, then you go back to the relationship thing, rules without relationship-
Alex McFarland: Brings rebellion.
Dr. Tim Clinton: ... brings rebellion, rules with relationship breeds respect, and I think a beautiful place of connectedness where life's lessons are caught and taught. Alex, I have a copy of that new book coming out, 100 Bible Questions and Answers for Families. What a crucial resource, especially around our conversations the last two days. Tell us about the book and where people can get a copy.
Alex McFarland: Oh, thanks, Tim. Yes. We did a book of 100 Bible Questions and Answers from our radio show, "Exploring the Word." The follow-up book is 100 Bible Questions and Answers for Families. And these were the questions that moms and dads ask, that kids ask that listen to our show. And it's designed to, sure, inform and inspire, but to get families together around the Word of God. And we think it'll be a good resource to encourage couples and parents as they open up and they find God's answers to today's questions.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Where can they find it? Where can they get it?
Alex McFarland: Amazon, Christian Book Online, American Family Association, alexmcfarland.com, wherever you buy books. And if you have a local Christian bookstore, let me encourage you to support and patronize your local Christian bookstores.
Dr. Tim Clinton: That book, again is 100 Bible Questions and Answers for Families. I want to make sure our listeners hear more about your ministry. I want you to talk about truth for a new generation, your youth summer camps, which are insanely impactful, what you're doing out there and why it's so important to get kids into events like yours so they can discern truth, build foundations that we want to see in the home, in the church and community and so much more. You're such a blessing to today's generations.
Alex McFarland: Well, God is good. We do events, publishing and broadcasting. And we've started a series of clubs called Viral Truth Clubs. And we are teaching kids not only biblical worldview and how they can share with their friends, but leadership. And so, the Viral Truth Club meetings, we say real, respectful, relevant, relational.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Love that.
Alex McFarland: And we give them the talking points. We provide talking points that are age appropriate for middle school and high school, whether it be obviously the gospel and the Bible is God's word, but things like transgenderism and even capitalism and America and principled capitalism, and why is America unique. And so, kids come and we've got literally stacks of emails and correspondence from kids who say, "You know what? My friend who was like the hotshot atheist has become a Christian now and is starting a chapter of the Viral Truth Clubs." So, Tim, it's all about investing in the next generation.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Maybe some people out there might want to start one of these in their home, their church or community. How can they learn more about it?
Alex McFarland: Viraltruth.com. Viraltruth.com, there's a form. Middle school and high school, and even college aged kids are starting these clubs. They meet, we provide the talking points, so we will give you all the information at the website, viraltruth.com. But I want to give God the glory for when my mom and dad, and we were farmers in North Carolina, mom and dad committed their lives to Christ in their sixties. They had had a childhood experience, but for years we were not all that serious about the Lord. I didn't come to Christ till I was 21. But my dad, we grew about 100 acres of corn. And one summer, my dad, he had given his life to the Lord and he was deep in debt. He was three quarters of a million dollars in debt in 1985. And that's a fair amount of money now. But in 1985, I mean-
Dr. Tim Clinton: That was big money.
Alex McFarland: Yeah. And there was one particular field of about 20 acres of corn, and he said, "Whatever that field makes, I'm going to give to the church." Well, there was a drought that summer and 80 other acres of corn died. Just oddly enough that one field thrived. I can see it in my mind, Tim. And so, one of the guys that worked with us who, his name was Ed Robinson, a godly man, he said to my dad, he said, "Mr. Mack, surely the Lord understands that's the only field that made, so you're not going to give that to the church after all." And I was watching and my dad said, "No, I promised that field, that 20 acres I give to the church." And he did. That was huge. That was right before I trusted Christ. But I remember the thing was, Tim, I was like, wow, this is real. My dad's committed. What I'm saying is, when we're authentic and we're genuine, and the Lord Jesus really is our priority-
Dr. Tim Clinton: It has generational flow, power, influence. Alex, we are out of time. Maybe you could close us out on how much your dad has meant to you and the significance of dads.
Alex McFarland: Oh, well, I am the result of a lot of people that have invested in me. You have invested in me, Tim. And I'm grateful James Dobson invested in me. I give God the glory. My 20th book comes out September 1st. I got published 19 years ago for the first time, thanks to a man named James Dobson. I could take a whole hour to talk about how I'd been a youth pastor 11 years. And my whole world changed the day the phone rang, and it was James Dobson. And so, there are thousands, and thousands, and thousands of people of all ages that I've been able to minister to.
And Dr. Dobson and Shirley share in those rewards because he opened the door for me, gave me my start, my real start on the national level. But my dad went to be with Jesus in 2007. And my dad was a World War II vet, lost an eye in a plane crash in World War II. My dad only could see out of one eye. So, Tim, I'm very proud of my dad. He was not a real touchy-feely guy. He was a pretty tough guy, World War II vet, business man.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Kind of indicative of that generation.
Alex McFarland: But here's the thing, my father, he served his country, he served his spouse, he served his church, he served his children. And I want to be on record saying that I thank God that I was born into a Christian family and one day I'll see them again. And until then, I want to be faithful and maybe God's work in my life would inspire somebody else to be faithful as well.
Dr. Tim Clinton: Well, Alex, your conversations over the last two days have been a gift to us and we're grateful. And I am grateful for your love for today's generations and keep us dialed in and winning that battle. And it starts at home, and in the church, and the community and more. But on behalf of Dr. Dobson, his wife, Shirley, the entire team here, we salute you and pray that God would continue to strengthen you for such a time as this. Thank you for joining us.
Alex McFarland: God bless you, Tim.
Roger Marsh: Winning the battle and setting the standard indeed both begin at home. That was Dr. Alex McFarland and our co-host, Dr. Tim Clinton, on today's Family Talk broadcast. Now, if you missed any part of the program or if you want to hear yesterday's conversation as well, remember you can listen again on our website. Visit drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. That's dramesdobson.org/family talk. Remember, you can also easily share our program right from your smartphone using the Family Talk JDFI app. It's available in your app store to download for free. So, download yours today. Over the past couple of programs, Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Alex McFarland have explained how God led men really can be game changers in the battle for the souls of our children. It's tough though, not every guy has a strong male role model to look to for guidance, and oftentimes men receive more pressure than praise for their efforts.
These days, the challenges of everyday life are immense, and sometimes there's barely any time for you to just catch your breath. Serving as the head of a God led family isn't easy, and some days you just need to know you're doing a good job. That's why the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute is here for you with an abundance of resources, with encouragement and prayer if need be as well. Take my word for it, you should definitely sign up for our special 10-Day Straight Talk To Men email series. It will sharpen the tools God has already given you to live your life for Him and will also put the spring back in your spiritual step as well. Now, to sign up for the 10-Day Straight Talk To Men email series, simply go to drjamesdobson.org/straighttalk. That's drjamesdobson.org/straighttalk. You'll be glad you did. I'm Roger Marsh, and thank you so much for listening today to Family Talk, the voice you trust for the family you love.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.