I Give You My Word…Kinda

When I was 10, I made a bet with my friend Luke.  He played on a rival baseball team and we were about to play them and so we decided to put a “wager” on the game.  If we won he had to drink water for entire week.  That meant no pop, milk, orange juice, or anything else with taste.  It had to be water.  If I lost I would have to drink milk for an entire week without substitute.

I know…it was a big bet.

Long story short…we lost the game.

So the next morning as I was about to pour myself a glass of OJ when my mom grabbed the bottle and said, “What are you doing?”  I said, “getting some OJ.”  She said, “Are you forgetting something?”  I said, “No, the glass is right there I think I’m covered” to which she replied, “I don’t think so.”

My mom took the time to “remind me” that I had lost the best with Luke and now I needed to do what I said I was going to do.  So for an entire week I drank milk.

Fast-forward two years and I’m at a swimming meet.  I had just finished a couple of races and I was exhausted.  The bummer was that I had one more race called the 500m Freestyle left to swim.  It was a beast of a race and I decided I wasn’t going to swim it.  By the time I got up to the grand stands it was very near the time I was supposed swim.  When my mom saw me she said, “What are you doing here?  You’re about to race!”  I shrugged my shoulders and told her I wasn’t going to do it.

The next thing I know I felt a mommy paw grabbing my right arm and dragging my Speedo covered butt down the stairs.  As I stumbled to catch my breath, I remember her saying, “You signed up to swim this race and you are going to swim it.”  My mom LITERALLY pushed me onto the starting blocks seconds before the starter shot the gun.

FOR THE RECORD:  I cried the whole time, my goggles filled with tears, but I nearly won that stupid race.

Why in the world do I tell you these stories?  It’s to share with you that from a very young age my mom and dad taught me to honor the commitments I kept.  They knew that they wanted me to be a man of integrity that kept his word and did what he said he was going to do. That has stuck with me to this very day.

Why is this a big deal?

Well for starters it’s the right thing to do and secondly Jesus taught us to do it.

Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)

Jesus’ brother James also encourages us to do the same thing when he says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.” (James 5:12)

This means:

  • If you said you’d show up…show up.
  • If you promised to drive them…drive them.
  • If you said you’d help out…help out.
  • If you committed to love them “till death does you part”…love them.

Our world doesn’t get this.  It doesn’t get it because it focuses on “me” and “I” more than anything else.  If honoring our commitment gets in the way of “me” doing something then, I choose “me” every time regardless of who I let down.

In essence we’re saying, “I give you my word…kinda.”

However, honoring your commitments can be one of the most effective ways of showing Christ’s transformation in your life.  It shows Christ driven integrity.  It is a visual example that you are who you say you are.  It shows that you are living your life by a different rhythm than the beat of the rest of the world.

Now don’t get crazy.

If you have committed to cutting tails off puppies or are a member of hit man squad for the mob I’m not saying you should keep those commitments in the name of Jesus.  That is called sin and you should repent in the name of Jesus.

I’m talking about the commitments that you make that won’t lead to jail time or personal injury.  :)

Do I realize there may be times you have to back out of things?  YES!!!  I totally do and have had to unfortunately do it myself.  I feel terrible about it and I know I haven’t honored those people or organizations well.

However, I have tried to honor them in the way I’ve backed out.

Here are keys I’ve found to doing this in a Godly way:

  1. Pray about how your decision first to ask God’s wisdom and guidance.
  2. Never assume that they can “find someone else” or that you “weren’t that important”.  If that were the case they would probably be calling you thanking you for you offer, but they are ok now.
  3. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, I repeat NEVER tell them in a text, e-mail, Twitter message, Facebook message, through someone else, or any other passive aggressive manner.
  4. Talk with them face-to-face out of respect and so they can hear your heart.  If in person is not possible, call them on the phone.
  5. Explain the circumstances surrounding why you can’t do it and offer to help them another time or in another way.
  6. Apologize for not being able to fulfill your commitment.

Listen, I know this is hard.  I know life happens and things get in the way, but I also know that impact committed people have on the world.

You want to be the person that when someone sees you or looks at your name on a list they instantly say “Oh, Joe!  He’s solid.  We can count on him.”

You want that!

I want that!

Jesus wants that!

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 7:7 – Lessons From An Adulteress Part 2

With persuasive words she led him astray;

she seduced him with her smooth talk.

Proverbs 7:21

Men are monkeys.

You can dress us up in clothes, teach us to use a fork, and even train us to change a diaper, but when all is said and done what we really want to do is swing from branch to branch, make grunting noises, and scratch ourselves.

Sadly, only women know this fact about men.  Men think we are manly men, but women can see our knuckles dragging on the ground from a mile away.  They know that if they roll the right shiny object in front of us we will chase it like a Fantasy Football draft in July.

In no way does this excuse the monkey.  As men we need to stop scratching and start leading in a big way.  Too many of us just resign ourselves to the cavemen mentality because after all “that’s just how we are.”  Give me a break.  I know 16-year-old boys that have sailed around the world so I think you Mr. 45-year-old man can take out the trash.

But ladies, knowing how to get a man’s attention is not always a skill you use for good is it?  And no, I’m not talking about your cooking skills.

In Proverbs 7:10-23, Solomon shows us how a provocative wife used her skills to seduce a young man.

  • She wore sexy clothes – vs. 10
  • She was a party girl – vs. 11
  • She was the aggressor – vs. 13a, 15
  • She did her make-up and was tanned– vs. 13b
  • She pretended to be outwardly religious – vs. 14
  • She prepared the shag pad – vs. 16-17
  • She presented her plan as innocent and fun – vs. 18
  • She made sure her husband was gone – vs. 19-20
  • She used speech that was sexy and persuasive – vs. 21

Looking at Proverbs 7 through the eyes of the adulteress woman pained me and caused so many questions to bubble up.

Why would a married woman with a wealthy husband make herself into a prostitute and stoop to such a level?  Was her husband gone a lot?  Did he ignore her at home?  Did he not call her beautiful or say he loved her?  Was she just bored?  Did she not get a call back to the Jersey Shore?

You see, although adultery is statistically more rampant among married men, women are also guilty.  Lack of attention, intimacy, and romance are high on the list of why woman decide to cheat, but loneliness and the need for excitement are close seconds.  However, what I see happening in marriage is bigger than this list.

Hundreds of years ago, Paul nailed it in his letter to the Romans when he said,

“Therefore God gave them over in sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator“ – Romans 1:24-26

What may have happened in this proverb is that the woman made her husband her god.  She placed God-like expectations onto him and she was disappointed when he couldn’t meet them all.  So after trying desperately to change him and mold him into what she wanted him to be she got fed up.  She started telling herself “I deserve better” and “I need more out of the relationship that he can give me” and she stepped to the edge of a very slippery slope.

It started out with jealous looks at other people’s relationships and “wanting that” for themselves.  She then started opening her eyes and ears a little wider to men around her “window-shopping” for the God-attributes she was missing.  Finally when she found one that seems to meet all her expectations she rolled out the shiny object to catch her prey.  Ignoring the effects on her marriage or kids, she dove into a new relationship with a new man only to find out he’s not God and she started the cycle again.  She created a new house for herself that is “a highway to the grave leading down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:27)

Listen to me carefully.

God never intended a man to take the place of Him.

God intended for us to place Him #1 in our life and to follow Him intimately and faithfully so that He can love, cherish, protect, and guide us.  A man cannot ever fill that job description.  A husband can’t be that for his wife and a wife can’t be that for her husband.

What God is crying out for us to do in our moments of weakness and frustration is to turn to Him for our strength and not the arms of another man.  Don’t let Satan’s lies tell you that the next “man-Kleenex” that comes out of the box is the answer.  Believe me there will never be a shortage of men in the box that will fall for your advances.

Let God be the King in your life and let your husband be your husband.  When you take those expectations off of your husband you will enjoy your monkey a lot more.

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 7:7 – Lessons From An Adulteress (Part 1)

“I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men,

a youth who lacked judgment.”

Proverbs 7:7

Proverbs 7  is a tremendously visual proverb.  Written from the perspective of a man watching from a window, it gives us a bird’s eye view of a young man being seduced by a married adulteress while infusing warnings and wisdom into the message.

I love this for several reasons, but a big reason is because it allows us to look at a painful and emotion-filled situation from an objective point of view.  Solomon doesn’t put us in the middle of the mess he elevates us above it so we can see it from an unobstructed view.

At some point I will spend more time on this idea, but this is a very healthy and spiritually driven practice we all should adopt.  It’s the choice to pull back the lens of our life far enough to look at things objectively.  Removing emotion, conditions, and excuses from our reasoning so we can objectively look at the state of our life.  I find that if we are able to do that, we can better see what needs to be addressed and we can put an action plan together before reentering into the ground level of the chaos.

Ok, that was the freebee.  Here is what you paid to hear. :)

Most of the time when we hear about adultery (or cheating as it’s sugarcoated name has become) our eyes go directly to the person that cheated.  In fact, in most cases this is the man and rightfully so it appears.  In one study of 70,000 people, it found that 28% of the married men had cheated on their spouse and 68% of all the men in monogamous relationships admitted they desired to be with someone else.  This compared to 18% of married woman cheating and 44% of woman in monogamous relationships having desires for other men.

It appears this is not a new trend since in the 5th Century BC Solomon writes about a “young man” choosing adultery.  Let’s be brutally honest and not let him or any man off the hook.  He may be young but he still is a man who could have said “no” to the advances of the temptress.  At some point we have to grow up and do what the DARE program told us in elementary school…“Just Say No!”

However, there is another party in this sinful dance that gets less of a critique and easily slip into the shadows of the crowd.  What about the temptress in this scene being played out?  What wisdom can we gain from what Solomon tells us about her and how Christian women can avoid the pitfalls she creates?

In Part 2 of this look at Proverbs 7, we will look closer at this adulteress woman, but for now I want to leave you with these words from Paul.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

No matter what lies you may tell yourself, God always provides a way out.

There are no victims when it comes to giving into temptation only guilty offenders.

You always have the option to say NO.      

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 6:6 – Does Hard Work Have Large Talons?

“You lazy fool, look at an ant.  Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two!”

Proverbs 6:6 (MSG)

My wife is from a small town in Iowa.  A one stop light, everybody knows your business, with 7 different churches in it kinda small.  But from a young age Cherie’s parents new she wanted something bigger.  To motivate her to achieve these things, they gave her tangible examples of why she needed to work hard and go to college.

The most vivid of these motivators was working in the chicken coops of a local farm.  Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about unless you’ve seen the movie Napoleon Dynamite.  Here is a refresher clip from the movie to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWXgtJP1IPs

That is exactly what my wife’s parents had her do!

Yep, Cherie is hardcore!

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with being a chicken farmer or living in a small town.  But Cherie’s parents wanted to expose her to this type work so she could see the options she had in life.  She could stay in the small town to work these kinds of jobs or she could go to college, work hard, meet a good-looking baseball player :) , and pursue the dreams she said she wanted to achieve.

The choice was hers, but achieving her dreams would take hard work.

In Proverbs 6, Solomon uses the example of the ant to call out those of us that are lazy.  It’s easy to see why he used an ant if you’ve ever watched one work.  They are quick to the task and quicker to the next one.  Let’s face it, if you only have 60 days to live you better get after it!  In the life of an ant there is no time for lounging and relaxing.

Our world is different.

In the Western World, it seems we define work as the annoying thing that gets in the way of relaxing.  Fewer and fewer people look at work as a privilege and approach it with the responsibility God says that it is.  Paul reminds us of the spiritual aspect of our work in Colossians 3:23 when he says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  Work is ultimately not for our benefit, it is for God’s ultimate glory.

Before I go too much further, I want to be clear.  I completely understand in the economy of today that jobs are difficult to get, let alone excel in.  I have prayed  for countless people that are not shy from hard work at all.  This proverb is not directed at you and I pray God’s timing will provide work for you soon.

Now let’s be fair, I cherish my free time with my family and enjoy snuggling on the couch with my wife as much as the next married guy.  God even designed the creative order to have rest woven into it by evidence of the command to Sabbath.

However, I do see a rising epidemic of people that find no value in hard work and are becoming obese with laziness.  Men and women have seemingly become allergic to hard work and as a result have no drive, direction, or future.  They have chosen to live life through the reality “stars” they watch reruns of at 2:00 on a Tuesday in their jammies.

The Message translation of Proverbs 6:9-11 hits it on the head.  Listen to Solomon’s warning to us all that find laziness our friend.

“So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?

How long before you get out of bed?

A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,

sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?

Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,

poverty your permanent houseguest!”

No one can scrape your booty off the couch and make you work.  If that were possible there would be far less mother’s cooking lunch for their 30-year-old son’s during their “break” from playing Halo in her basement.

The decision to work comes from within you and I.  But the desire for working needs to come from a heart of genuine worship of God.   We should never use the gift of life God gives us to idly sit on the sidelines of life out of a spirit of entitlement.

Rather, out of a spirit of thankfulness, we should work as hard as we can to show our affection for Him and allow that to be part of our testimony of His greatness in our life.


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Cleanup Your Own Poop

If you’ve ever been around a baby for any length of time you know that they have the unique ability to spontaneously “combust” at anytime.  “Any time, any place, and any end” is the mantra of all parents.

I remember one of the first times my daughter Aniston had an explosion.

She had just started eating solid foods and as parents you know this is the point when the baby bowel movements stop being cute and enter into “how could something that cute make something that vial?”  It’s as if the human body says; “Oh, you want to start eating that?  Ok, well here is your reward.”

Fortunately for me, my baptism into this new season of parenting happened at home.  When the fecal-explosive detonated I quickly asked myself 2 questions:

  1. How many PSI did she build up in her colon to get that to travel that far?
  2. Of all clothes, why did I put a onesie on her today?

I assessed the task at hand with the care of a member of the bomb squad so as to not release anything else that may be pent up.  It took a good scrubbing in the bathtub, a HAZMAT suit, and one of those red hazardous waste bags, but I completed the job and Aniston was back to playing like nothing happened.

To put it lightly, that wasn’t the most fun job I’ve ever done, but can I tell you what I didn’t do in the middle of this process?

I never once looked at my little girl covered in poop, helplessly looking at me with her beautiful blue eyes, and yell at her for the mess she made.  I wouldn’t shake my finger at her and ask “why did you do this?” or tell her to “go clean yourself up before you come near me you disgusting little thing!”

Even typing that makes my skin crawl.

As her daddy I would never push my baby girl away when she needed me the most.  She didn’t need me to lecture her about going to the bathroom, she needed me to clean her up.

Yet, this is exactly what so many of us do when we are apart from God.  We look at the state of our lives and the mess we’ve created and think that God is yelling at us to “cleanup your own poop!” before we even think about coming near Him.  We think that our disgusting ways are the reasons we should hide our faces in shame in the presence of a holy God.

That is a lie from the pit of hell, because Jesus says something totally different.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

As Matt Chandler says “God isn’t looking for a better version of you to come to Him”.  God desperately wants us to realize that we are covered in our own mess; we can’t clean ourselves up, and to COME TO HIM so HE can make us clean.  Our best attempts at cleaning ourselves up just leave us smearing things around and making it worse.

So whether you are not a Christian or you are Believer and have been on the wrong path for awhile, don’t try harder to look better before turning to God.  Turn and sprint into His arms with all your garbage and let Him clean you up as only He can.

It’s what a good Daddy loves to do.

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 5:5 The Mirage of Adultery

Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.”

–      Proverbs 5:5

WARNING:  If you are a man reading this, please put your cup on.  You may need it.

 

King Solomon is a very interesting guy.  As we said before, he was the son of King David and when God gave him the chance to ask for anything he chose wisdom.  God was pleased and granted him his request.

However, just because you have wisdom doesn’t mean you are always wise.

Despite Solomon’s vast wealth and power he never seemed to be able to fill his appetite for woman and sensuality.  The evidence of this is found in the fact that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines during his lifetime.  This is an entourage that even Hugh Hefner would blush at and TLC couldn’t even begin to do a television show about.

Yet, as we read through Solomon’s writings we hear much more caution and pain as a result of his experiences with woman than happiness.  So why would a wise man that had everything be so enslaved to the pursuit of woman?

The answer is simple:  He was a sinful man just like the rest of us.

In most of his writings, Solomon will personify wisdom as a woman, but don’t confuse the pursuit of these women in Proverbs 5 as wise.  Nearly the entire chapter speaks to married men warning them of the effects of straying from your wife by pursuing the fleeting attention of an adulterous woman.

He holds no punches in verse 5 when saying that following the path of adultery will “lead to the grave”.  In other words, things will die as a result of your decision.

I have talked to enough men that have followed the destructive path of infidelity to know Solomon is spot on.  Adultery is lethal to more areas of your life than just your marriage.  It will euthanize trust, respect, your finances, the spiritual blessing from God, and on and on I could go.  These will be replaced with guilt, shame, anguish, anger, bitterness, denial, and any other manifestations of sin Satan can cook up.

However, this is where most guys will play the “exception to the rule” card.  Even though Solomon, who the Dos Equis Man tips his hat to for quantity of romantic relationships, tells us that cheating on your wife is not worth it…we think it will be different for us.

We will be the exception to the rule.

“You don’t know my wife!, “I’m a man with needs!”, and “My wife has let herself go so much I don’t even find her attractive!” will echo through the walls of our humanity as justification for seeking the affections of another woman.  The culture cheers for us on and will gain us support from other low integrity, “exception” seeking men like us.

All the while Satan sits on the shores of life waiting for you or I to take the bait.  And if we do, he’ll reel us in and drop us into the same bucket with the rest of the idiot men he’s caught.  We will flop around waiting to die as we realize we weren’t the “exception” we thought we were.

But also on the shoreline is God.  Solomon tells us that “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.“ Proverbs 5:21.  While Satan casts a hook for us to grab, God extends a hand for us to cling to.  It’s a Hand of grace that pulls us out of the sea of lies and onto the bedrock of Truth.  It’s even the hand that will snatch us from the bucket Satan threw us in, but the effects of our decision will still be ours.  God’s grace is always there to love and forgive us, but we should never use it as the emergency parachute to excuse what we do.

But as we catch our breath from our near death experience, God will echo the words of Solomon in our ears.

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

- Proverbs 5:18

Don’t let yourself be blindly led by the good looks and smooth words of another woman.  You will only find adultery to be a mirage that will kill your marriage.  Sprint into the arms of your wife who God has blessed you with and find safety and peace on the bedrock of God.

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I’m Just Trying To Hold It Together

How many of these statements have you said in the past 6 months?

  • “I’ve got to be strong for them.”
  • “If I don’t keep it together it’ll all fall apart.”
  • “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

Some of you (me included) are smiling because you’ve said one or all of those in the last 12 hours let alone 6 months!  These statements are really overarching feelings that scream “I’M JUST TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER!!!!”  In a world of chaos, stress, hustle, bustle, and muscle there are moments when things seem to be coming loose at the edges.  In those moments our faith receives heavy testing and we are faced with how to deal with the idea of control.

As a firstborn, Type A+, extreme “planner” who is married to a firstborn, Type A+, extreme “planner”, I know a thing or two about control.   My wife and I love lists, spreadsheets, dry erase boards, label makers, organization apps, and anything else nerdy short of a pocket protector.  We feel planning for things ahead of time reduces stress in the moment so we try to be ahead of the game.  Whether it’s financially or just packing for a trip to Iowa we try to pre-think about all that needs to be done.

That works great with suitcases and buying couches, but it always seems to fail when it comes to real life stuff.  Stuff like babies in NICUs, illness, family situations, or job stresses.  Pharmacies would sell far less antidepressants and antianxiety medication if we were able to predict those events as accurately as the inflation costs of new windows in your home.  Sorry to break it to you gang, but “that aint how it works.”

Whether we can see the events coming or not, we still deal with them and most of us will choose 1 of 3 responses:

  1. I’ll just ignore it.  If I pretend it’s not there, it’ll just go away.
  2. I’m going to tackle this thing myself.  I’ll put my head down and deal with it.
  3. I’m not strong enough to deal with this so I’m checking out and giving up.

To be sure, all of these responses will produces results.  Not always the best results, but results nonetheless.  What saddens me (especially when I do it too) is when Christians fall into these same lines of response.

I say saddens because as Christians we profess to believe in a pretty amazing, awesome, and powerful God, but often we “reduce Him to the size of our biggest problem”, as Mark Batterson would say.  We think the God that created everything from the atom to the heavens can’t possibly save my marriage or help me with my difficult child.

So instead we choose to tackle our challenges by our own efforts and then wonder why we are exhausted, crying, burnt out, and miserable all the time.  The reason this happens is because we are going against what God designed.  We are forgetting Who holds this whole thing together and news flash… it isn’t you or I.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  Colossians 1:15-17 (emphasis mine)

Thank goodness Paul is there to remind us that in the midst of the storm of life God is still there holding things together.  He doesn’t take breaks, go on holiday, or get distracted.  He is laser focused on His creation and is active and working with in it.  So we should be quick to remember that if we are going to lean into anything in our time of struggle, need, joy, or contentment it should be into the strength of God.

So stop trying to be the superhero of your life when God hasn’t asked you to do that.  The bottom line truth is that if you are trying to hold your life together by anything other than God you simply have the wrong glue.

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 4:4 – Daddy May Be Right

“When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.”Proverbs 4:3-4

All of us growing up think our parents have no idea what they are talking about.

Now just stop it.

Don’t pretend like you were such an angel that you never once gave an eye roll or sigh or talked backed to you parents because we all did it.   I know that my parents read these posts so I am well aware that they are sitting back recounting many times when my brothers and I thought we knew what was best and found out later we did not have a clue.

This still happens even now that most of us are out of the house and a have family of our own.  Accepting the fact that we may not know everything can be very hard to swallow.

In fact, all of us have little lawyers inside of our head’s that debate 1 of 3 ways when it comes to accepting or rejecting truth knowledge.

 

Lawyer #1

Its probably true, but I can’t stand the person telling me so I’m going to disagree just because I don’t like them.

Lawyer #2

It might be true, but if I agree with them I will look like I’m an idiot, so I’ll disagree so I don’t look stupid.

Lawyer #3

It is totally true, and I’d be dumb not to agree.

 

The first two internal lawyers always make their closing arguments using the same point of leverage.

Pride.

They count on this pride that cripples our lives in so many ways to convince us that we should not listen to the truth.  When we give into pride we remain ignorant and our spiritual growth is stunted.

But for those of us that choose to listen to the third lawyer, we begin to grow.  We wake up portions of our heart that have been atrophied from neglect.  Life is breathed into our souls and our world gains a Technicolor pallet of colors we never thought existed.

This doesn’t always mean that wisdom will lead to an easier life.  It doesn’t mean that everyone around you will follow the same logic, but don’t let that hold you back.

Choosing wisdom means you stopped listening to dumb voices.  You are refusing to let pride get in the way of your growth.  You are making the decision to not live your life through the jaded views of others.

Decide today to filter the voices you hear not with the lawyers in your head but with the Truth of Jesus in your soul.  Refuse to go through life following the weak-minded advice of the sea of people around you.  That’s the easy road.

Instead, listen for the voice of Jesus calling you to something wiser even if it means admitting that your parents were right all along.

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A Marital Challenge: 5 Tiny Things That Can Make A Huge Difference

So I decided to scratch the topic I had in mind for today’s blog and focus in on a quick marital challenge instead.  I say quick because let’s face it, most of us don’t have 6 hours a day where we can look longingly into each other’s eyes and talk about our future dreams or write poetry about the other person as they cut wild flowers in the backyard.

Sorry…kinda got a little sick just writing that one.

However, all of us have small bits of time or even just small bits of awareness each day that we can and should dedicate to our spouse.  It’s these moments that I want to provide our quick challenge to today.

The Message translation of Ephesians 5 frames our time together well.

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. – Ephesians 5:22 (MSG)

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. – Ephesians 5:25 (MSG)

 

SINGLE PERSON READER PAUSE:  If you are single and reading this, don’t stop.  Just because you’re not married now doesn’t mean you won’t ever be.  In fact, there is about a 90% chance everyone will get married at some point so hang in there.  Start making yourself aware early so you avoid later stress.

 

Ok, so Paul outlines these respect and love dynamics throughout his writings, but especially here in Ephesians.  These are God driven realities of who we are as men and women and when they are nurtured the change in our relationships is visible.

However, when relationships go sour it is more times than not that neglect of love or respect contribute to the cause of the issues.

Avoiding these pitfalls early through a disciplined awareness of creating loving and respecting habits is crucial to less time driving around in the car to “cool off” and will greatly reduce your monthly budget of Ibuprofen because your headaches may be fewer.

So here are 5 Tiny Things That Can Make A Huge Difference for both the husbands and the wives out there.

Oh, and DON’T LAUGH at some of them.  They may seem simple, but let’s be honest; we make things complex on our own.  We don’t need to start complex because believe me we will find a way to get there on our own. :)

 

5 Things Husbands can do TODAY to show love:

  1. Open the door for her. (car, store, you name it, just pick one)
  2. Put toothpaste on her toothbrush at night. (I said don’t laugh)
  3. Text your wife that you love her (Copy and Paste this if you need help… I Love You)
  4. Ask your wife what 3 things you can do for her next week that would help her out.  (and then DO them!)
  5. Hold her hand when you are out in public (…with no “strings” attached either)

 

5 Things Wives can do TODAY to show respect:

  1. Tell him you appreciate what he does and that he is good at it.
  2. Give him 15 minutes of down time when he comes home from work (stop rolling your eyes)
  3. Ask him to pray for the meal (if you want your husbands to lead in the home we have to give them opportunities to do it)
  4. Text him an encouraging message when you know his day may be rough.
  5. Just hang out on the couch with him and watch what he’s watching.  (Key: keep the q’s few :)  )

 

See that wasn’t so bad!  I’m willing to bet that if you try these little things you will see a change in your relationships.  I also know you also will see a change in you.

When we start to take the focus off of what I need and onto what others need we begin to live life more selflessly and humbly.  We begin to live life and have marriages that are more God honoring and that is what we all want deep down.

Ok…what are you waiting for?  Go get some toothpaste!

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Getting The Last Word

For as long as I can remember, my brothers and I have this on going battle with who will get the last word in.  Whether it’s one more sarcastic comment to slide in or one quick punch to the kidneys with a zinger about your hair someone always has to have the last word.

The best at this is my middle brother Brad.  See, Brad sits in the background of most conversations and will takes some ribbing from my little brother and I and never really says much.  Until he sees his moment and then he pounces for the ultimate shutter-upper like a Puma on the hunt.  He’ll say something like, “Well at least I didn’t throw up on my school desk in class when I was 12!”

Then the living room would blow up as my brother high-fives everyone and points a finger in our face.  Totally getting the last word….AGAIN.  Darn you Bradley-O!!!

Sometimes we mistakenly think of Jesus as the punching bag Savior that just took jab after jab from everyone without fighting back.  Not that we were looking for Him to sin or “open up a can” on someone, but just a little defense of Himself from time to time would seem fitting.  However, it seems hard to find that anywhere in Scripture.

Peter even tells us in 1 Peter 2:22-23 that at the height of His suffering Jesus remained silent.

 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

See, we read Passages like that and think “Man, how could He have done that?”  I mean they beat Him and mocked Him and killed Him yet all the while He said nothing?  We should be careful though.  Although He didn’t respond in the way you or I would have with sin, vengeance, and anger…He did respond.

In fact, some of Jesus’ final moments were filled with responses.

“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” – Luke 23:33-34

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”– John 19:26-27a

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” – John 19:28

In his final moments, in His final breaths of life, Jesus chooses Mercy not mayhem.  He chooses Grace not anger.  He chooses to Forgive not to fight.  He chooses to Love on not to Lash out.  He chooses humanity over Divinity.

But to me the greatest of His responses from the tortures of the cross was His last.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” – John 19:30

This encourages me so much because it is the greatest reminder to us all that…

Jesus always gets the last word.

Jesus gave up His spirit.  It was on His terms not the mockers or murders.  He determined when it was time for suffering to end.

His silence in the storm of spitting, mocking, and murdering was not weak defeat it was patient victory.

A patience that loved us so much it endured it all until what needed to be done was done.  Until it was finished….on His time…on His terms…for our Souls.

So as you finish reading this blog and consider what this means for you, please remember that the battle for our Souls is over.  Jesus has won, Jesus has conquered, and Jesus has finished what needed to be done to reconcile us back to God.

Live your lives differently knowing that Jesus always has the last word. 

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