Do you hear what I hear?

I heard all over the radio talk about how the most wonderful time of the year is the busiest time of the year. And how! Christmas shopping. Holiday parties. Travel. Meal planning. Cookie making. Oh yeah…and our normal day to day lives. In the famous word of Charlie Brown…“good grief!”

If Santa is making a list and checking it twice, then maybe we should too!

Sit down with your wife and identify those things that still need to be done this month. Prioritize them, and then slide in those things that will create memories with you and your family into the top of the list above everything else. Watch a Christmas movie. Make cookies together. Have a date night. Enjoy the most joyous time of the year.

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Happy Thanksgiving

When you sacrifice a thank offering to the LORD, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. Leviticus 22:29

We’ve talked often about love being a choice. It is the same with forgiveness and grace. But…how about being thankful?

If we take a honest inventory of all those things that we have been blessed with in our lives, then we would recognize that we have plenty to be thankful about. However, our natural tendency is to focus on the opposite. We tend to see the things that did not go our way….the job missed, the money lost, family struggles, expectations missed……the list can go on and on.

Thankfulness works the same way that forgiveness work. It is designed to relieve our hearts of the burdens that we carry. If you can only be thankful for the blue sky, then do so. I bet that we all have much more that we can be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Be Thankful. Act Like Men.

Marriage

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned. – Song of Songs 8:6

Marriage as a concept lies deep within our collective psyche. Preschoolers role-play the family unit as part of their playground fun. Preteen girls dream of the day when they’ll walk down the aisle in a flowing white gown. Matchmaking businesses and Web sites thrive as people look for that elusive one perfect person to know and love for the rest of their lives. The vast majority of adults who live in Western cultures either are, have been or someday intend to be married. Such hopefulness in the face of a consistent 50 percent divorce rate! And yet, despite the well-publicized antics of the Hollywood set, marriage remains one of the key building blocks of family life and society as a whole.

And that’s just what God intended. The language in this verse is powerful as it speaks to the implications of marriage. One scholar has said that this passage “characterizes marital love as the strongest, most unyielding and invincible force in human experience.” Despite the failure of individuals, the bar of God’s expectations for marriage is set sky-high. And note the implications of the last part of verse 7: True, lasting marital love involves deep integrity on the part of both parties. Or…..“Money can’t buy me love.”

The power of marriage lies in the power of a promise sealed with God’s stamp of approval, that one man makes to one woman. The promise to love another person “until death do you part” is as deep a commitment as one can make in this life. As one pastor put it, “The power to make and keep a promise is one of the strongest in the world, for it brings the promise maker within a millimeter of what it means to be like God, who makes and keeps his promises to his people.”

True, enduring, lifelong commitment is God’s expectation for marriage, and it has been since the Garden of Eden. That’s not to say that God expects us to be perfect as we relate to one another; we are, after all, still living under the effects of sin. But despite our failures, the goal for the respect we are to show toward the institution remains the same, “for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave”.

Are you married? How does your marriage stack up to God’s expectations for the institution?

If you’ve never been married, what is your perspective on what this passage could mean for your future?

If you’re not married now but have been in the past, how can this passage influence your opinions and actions?

If you’re remarried, how can this passage guide and strengthen your marriage and blended family?

Be Strong. Act Like Men

Veteran’s Day

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” – John 15:13

1,321,612 men and women have given their lives.

48,000,000 men and women have served their country.

Most have served their country without fame.

Most life family and friends behind.

All deserved to be recognized and remembered.

Happy Veteran’s Day.

11 Rules About Marriage that You Won’t Learn in School

I like lists!  I wanted to share a list of rules by Dennis Rainey.

Rule 1: Marriage isn’t about your happiness. It’s not about you getting all your needs met through another person. Practicing self-denial and self-sacrifice, patience, understanding, and forgiveness are the fundamentals of a great marriage. If you want to be the center of the universe, then there’s a much better chance of that happening if you stay single.

Rule 2: Getting married gives a man a chance to step up and finish growing up. The best preparation for marriage for a single man is to man up now and keep on becoming the man God created him to be.

Rule 3: It’s okay to have one rookie season, but it’s not okay to repeat your rookie season. You will make rookie mistakes in your first year of marriage; the key is that you don’t continue making those same mistakes in year five, year 10, or year 20 of your marriage.

Rule 4: It takes a real man to be satisfied with and love one woman for a lifetime. And it takes a real woman to be content with and respect one man for a lifetime.

Rule 5: Love isn’t a feeling. Love is commitment. It’s time to replace the “D-word”—divorce—with the “C-word”—commitment. Divorce may feel like a happy solution, but it results in long-term toxic baggage. You can’t begin a marriage without commitment. You can’t sustain one without it either. A marriage that goes the distance is really hard work. If you want something that is easy and has immediate gratification, then go shopping or play a video game.

Rule 6: Online relationships with old high school or college flames, emotional affairs, sexual affairs, and cohabiting are shallow and illegitimate substitutes for the real thing. Emotional and sexual fidelity in marriage are the real thing.

Rule 7: Women spell romance R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P. Men spell romance S-E-X. If you want to speak romance to your spouse, become a student of your spouse, enroll in a lifelong “Romantic Language School,” and become fluent in your spouse’s language.

Rule 8: During courtship, opposites attract. After marriage, opposites can repel each another. You married your spouse because he/she is different. Differences are God’s gift to you to create new capacities in your life. Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

Rule 9: Pornography robs men of a real relationship with a real person and it poisons real masculinity, replacing it with the toxic killers of shame, deceit, and isolation. Pornography siphons off a man’s drive for intimacy with his wife. Marriage is not for wimps. Accept no substitutes.

Rule 10: As a home is built, it will reflect the builder. Most couples fail to consult the Master Architect and His blueprints for building a home. Instead a man and woman marry with two sets of blueprints (his and hers). As they begin building, they discover that a home can’t be built from two very different sets of blueprints.

Rule 11: How you will be remembered has less to do with how much money you make or how much you accomplish and more with how you have loved and lived.

Pass on the rules to a friend who will enjoy them!

Be Strong. Act Like Men.

True Love?

We live in a culture that praises the fairytale concept of true love. Hollywood would have us believe that love is all about that moment when you first meet and there is a “magical connection” and you “just know” that this is the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Or it is about those feelings of euphoria you get when you first start dating, and that if those feelings go away the love is gone.

And people chase this false idea of love their whole lives. You hear women say things like “I thought he was the man of my dreams but we got divorced because the love just wasn’t there anymore”. People talk about falling in love like it is inevitable, a force as powerful as gravity. And they talk about falling out of love like it is equally inevitable.

This initial period of emotional excitement the honeymoon phase. One thing is inevitable: this phase will not last. Those feelings fade. The intense desire to spend every minute together goes away.
People get divorced or have affairs every day because their marriage isn’t living up to the fairytale. They feel like their marriage has failed because the emotions faded.

These feelings are not love, they are attraction. Attraction paves the way for romantic love, but it is not love.

True love doesn’t start until after the honeymoon phase ends.

True love is about the choices you make every day, both big and small. It is sacrifice and sometimes it is suffering. Suffering with her because of her pain or suffering because something she did that hurt you deeply. Or suffering with worry because you don’t know if she will make it home in the storm that came out of nowhere while she was driving home from work.

True love is about Jesus Christ dying on the cross for your sins, suffering more than anyone ever has. It is opening yourself up to receive His love, to let it fill you up until it overflows, spilling into those around you.

What is true love? It isn’t a feeling. It is a choice. It is all the little choices you make long after the feelings are gone. It is so much better, so much richer, so much more rewarding than the fairytale.

And it’s yours for the taking. You just have to chose not to give up when things get tough. Christ never gave up loving the church. You should never give up loving your wife.

Be Strong. Act Like Men.

No Secrets

Keeping things or hiding things from your spouse is a sign of problems in a marriage. A healthy marriage is one that is built on total openness and honesty. When it comes to secrets in marriage, there should be none.

Here are some tough questions:
• Do you hide purchases of things you bought from your spouse?
• Do you allow your spouse to read all of your email messages?
• Do you share your passwords to email addresses or Facebook accounts with your spouse?
• Would you allow your spouse to read your text messages on your cell phone if he or she asked?
• Do you hide friendships with people of the opposite sex from your spouse?
• Do you immediately delete all of the messages you get by email, text and Facebook?

I know that for some those are really tough questions. You may not like to hear this, but if you are constantly hiding things from your spouse, my first questions for you would be, “Why?” and “What are you hiding?” If one spouse is hiding things from their spouse, then it sends off all kinds of red flags.

So does my wife read every email, text message or Facebook message I get? No, but she’s welcome to read them anytime she wants. Can she snoop? She can…if she wants, but I have nothing to hide. I hide nothing from her, and I find accountability in the fact that she knows every password to my email and Facebook account.

A healthy marriage is a marriage where spouses don’t hide things from one another. It is one of the main foundations of having a great marriage.

Be Strong. Act Like Men.