Monthly Archives: January 2014

PLEASE DO NOT GIVE US ROMANCE LESSONS!

HAY BALES 3Here is another article that Deb and I can really identify with. We are hopelessly in love with each other and would consider our 41 years of marriage highly romantic. But, I do not overly “romance” my wife and we are not touchy, feely and dramatic in any way. I know at many marriage conferences they attempt to stimulate romance which we make clear if we are the main speakers we have no intention going down that road (so if you are planning to attend the Maranatha Bible Camp Couples Retreat – you are safe). If romance is sparked, it will be a Holy Spirit thing and not by my suggestion. Not that being romantic is wrong, it is just not our style. .. George

By Kim Shay, http://philippians314.squarespace.com/

My closest friend and I had a chuckle yesterday about something she’d read regarding how men can keep the romance alive in their marriages. It was written from a Christian perspective, so there wasn’t anything nasty in there.

I am not an overly romantic person, and that’s good, because my husband isn’t the type, either. And that’s okay with us. If he was to sit down, at candlelight, look into my eyes, and recite poetry, we’d both end up laughing. We love candlelight, but we have never been what I would call romance lovers.

That isn’t to say that he hasn’t done things that are romantic. When we’d been married twenty years, between him and a friend of mine, a plan was hatched for me to visit her in California. He did all of the arranging himself. That was romantic. For him, having Rice Pudding for dessert fosters romance. Maybe we’re weird.

Last night, after my husband read what I had read, he took up one of the author’s suggestions to sing to me, and he began to belt out “Unchained Melody,” and in a strange twist of irony, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” After the pets ran away and hid, he stopped. Most of the time when my husband sings to me, he does it to generate laughter.

After the furor died down, my husband looked at me and asked me seriously, “Would you ever want me to do any of those things?”

I told him without hesitation, no. And I told him that what is the most romantic thing to me is twofold: consistency and follow-through. My husband is one of the most consistent people I know. Relationships with moody people are hard. I don’t do those kind well. He is not moody. And when he isn’t juggling forty things at work, his follow-through is great. I have a husband who calls me almost every night shortly after 5:00 to ask me if I need anything before he leaves the office. How romantic is that?

In talking to my adult children about matters of the heart, I point them regularly to those two qualities. It is essential for both husband and wife. I dated someone who was unpredictable and moody. Those things were what made me look closely and realize that we were not compatible. Romance may take work, but the effects are often fleeting and need to be conjured up again tomorrow. Romance is subjective. Consistency fosters security and trust. When a man stands before God and his family and vows to love his wife as himself, and as Christ loved the church, he’d better know a thing or two about being consistent, because “until we are parted by death,” can be a long time. A lot longer than it might take to scratch out a few lines of poetry. If a woman really wants the poetry, then, yes, her husband might want to give it a try. But not every woman wants a poem.

The suggestion to keep the romance alive in a marriage is a good one. But the best piece of advice a man could give another man, in my opinion is this: know who your wife is. If a man knows his wife well, talks to her, listens to her, and watches her, he’ll know what is romantic to her and what isn’t.

WIVES: LET YOUR HUSBAND LOVE YOU

My note:  I recall having a time I went through this with Deb. We are past it, hopefully. I do appreciate greatly though as a husband that Deb receives my heart felt expressions to her as not manipulative or meant to be insincere compliments to make her feel better. I often say to her when she thanks me, “It is not a compliment, just speaking facts”  🙂

By Kristen   http:// http://www.whenathome.com

I get it. The kids have been climbing on you all day. One or both of your boobs have been exposed 87% of the day and you’re sick of being clawed at, sucked on, licked, punched, kicked, pulled, snotted on, cried on, spit up on, pooped on, and peed on. You’ve wiped butts and noses and counters and walls all day. You’ve battled attitudes and arched backs and Dora the Explorer since dawn and you’re tired. So. So. Tired. I know. I really really do.

I know you don’t want to be touched and for some reason, an innocent compliment can offend you. When he says, “You’re so pretty”, you think he’s mocking you because you’re in the yoga pants you’ve been wearing 4 days in a row and your hair is either falling out of your scalp or tied so tightly on top of your head that your eyebrows are permanently surprised. You think when he hugs you he’s just trying to do the thing that made all this chaos start in the first place and that ticks you off. Please. PLEASE. Listen when I say these things.

Stop. Take a breath. Recharge. Try again.

He’s been away at work all day. He’d much rather be with you. All of you. He’s missed your face, your voice, your smell, and your touch. He’s had to deal with whatever crap he has to deal with in order to provide for the family that he loves. He doesn’t enjoy walking out the door every morning, but he does. Every day. For you. For them.

He does think you’re pretty. He wouldn’t lie to you. He doesn’t need to say those things. But when he walks in the door and the first thing he sees is the love of his life, don’t convince yourself that he’s thinking about anything other than how absolutely beautiful you are. Cause guys are weird. Once they fall in love with you, there’s nothing you can wear, no amount of weight you can gain, and no lack of make up that will make them see you any differently. You are their love, their bride, and after he’s been at work all day, you are a sight for sore eyes.

So instead of rolling your eyes, huffing and puffing, throwing out gut kicking comments about how he has it easy, doesn’t understand, is lazy, a jerk, whatever comes to your beautiful stressed out brain… BREATHE. Look away from your day and see the man that won your heart.

Let your husband love you.

Because he needs to love you. As much as you need to receive the love he has for you, he needs to be received. He needs to be welcomed, embraced, and loved. Even if the last thing you want is to be touched or to hear how amazing you look when you feel insecure and disgusting. Let him love you. Don’t push him away. If you do, I can guarantee there will come a day when your cold shoulders and eye rolling will have trained him to stay away. There will be a day when you will need to be hugged and need to be reminded of how amazing you are and he won’t know how to tell you.

So suck up your pride, your anger, your frustration, and your crazy and just…be loved.

A PRAYER FOR OUR GROWING CHILDREN

kids-growing-up-too-fastBy Jason Helopoulos , Assistant Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Mi

As they mature and leave the home
Provide them adequate finances, but not riches
spouses who will love them, but not worship them
Give them sorrows, but not too deep
struggles, but not too great
Make them seasoned, but not hopeless
comfortable in their own skin, but not vain
zealous, but equally wise
knowledgeable, but filled with humility
content, but continually striving
Allow them to be confident, but not cocky
humble, but not sheepish
gracious, but not fearful
Mature their body in strength
their emotions with sophistication
and their imaginations with grounding
Fill their lungs with deep laughter
and their souls with joy

But even as I pray these things,
there is one prayer that soars above the rest
Bestow upon them your grace
Lavish them with your mercy
Drench them with your love
Give them the gift of faith
Satiate all their appetites with you
Fill them with your Holy Spirit
Set them apart for your holy service
Bring them into union with Christ
Let their hearts know a peace that surpasses understanding
Grant that my children would be Your children

That would make this child exceedingly thankful
Hear my prayer, O Father of mercy and grace

HT: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/01/23/a-prayer-for-our-growing-children/

 

FRONTLINE PRAYING

An often neglected part of personal and corporate prayer is “frontline” praying. Do you include this in your communion with God?  The prayers of the Psalms are covered with this type of praying, yet we often neglect it.

“Maintenance prayer meetings are short, mechanical and totally focused on physical needs ifamily-prayingnside the church or on personal needs of the people present.  But frontline prayer has three basic traits: a) a request for grace to confess sins and humble ourselves, b) a compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church, and c) a yearning to know God, to see his face, to see his glory.”

Tim Keller, “Kingdom-centered Prayer,”

 

The Six Deadly Enemies of Marriage

The first enemy, neglect of foundation, is essentially the theme of the couples retreat Deb and I will be doing, “Taking Hold of God in Marriage.” I will be developing an argument that our view of who God is and what he has done, does have a deep impact on our view of our marriage and spouse.

Article written by Tim Challies

Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

I have been thinking recently about some of the foremost foes of Christian marriage and, really, the foremost foes I see creeping up to assault my own marriage. Here are 6 deadly enemies of marriage, and Christian marriage in particular.

Neglect of Foundation

Marriage is from God, about God, to God, and for God, so we neglect God at our peril.

The enemy of marriage that deserves to be at the very top of the list is this one: neglecting the foundation—neglecting the biblical foundation. The Bible makes it clear that marriage is an institution decreed by God and an institution meant to glorify God by displaying something about him. The great mystery of marriage is that the covenantal relationship of husband and wife is a portrait of the covenantal relationship of Christ and his church. Marriage is from God, about God, to God, and for God, so we neglect God at our peril. It is only when the biblical foundation is in place that we are able to rightly understand how a husband and wife are to relate, how they are to take up their separate roles, and how they are to seek to bring glory to God both individually and as a couple. To build marriage on any other foundation is to neglect the rock in favor of building upon the sand.

Neglect of Prayer

Private prayer is essential to the Christian life, and prayer as a couple is essential to the Christian marriage.

Prayer is our lifeline, the means through which we praise God, express our gratitude, confess our sin, and plead for help. The couple that prays together is confessing before God that they are dependent upon him, that they are unable to thrive without him. Private prayer is essential to the Christian life, and prayer as a couple is essential to the Christian marriage. Here, kneeling at the bedside or sitting by the fire, the husband and the wife meet with the Lord together, praising him for his goodness and grace, confessing their sin against him and against one another, and pleading for his wisdom and help. When prayer ceases, the couple is tacitly proclaiming that they can survive and thrive on their own, that they do not need God’s ongoing, moment-by-moment assistance. Prayerlessness is a great foe of marriage.

Neglect of Fellowship

Another great enemy of marriage is a lack of fellowship—local church fellowship. Satan loves it when he can compel an individual to withdraw from the church; how much better when he can draw away a couple or a whole family. When a married couple leaves the church, or even pulls back to just doing the bare minimum, they are leaving the place where they are meant to see healthy marriage modeled, where they are able to worship together side-by-side, where they will find friends before whom they can open up their marriage so others can see and diagnose their struggles. Marriage thrives in the context of the local church and withers outside it.

Neglect of Communication

Just as Satan wants a couple to stop communicating with God through prayer, he also wants that couple to stop communicating with one another. Free, open and regular communication is key to any relationship, none more so than marriage. When a couple is able and willing to communicate, they are able to admit and work through the difficulties, they are able to share both the joys and the sorrows that are inevitable in a life lived together. Too many couples stop communicating, or perhaps they never learn. Instead of working through issues, they allow them to remain, to fester, and to become toxic. Communication is key to a healthy marriage, and lack of communication is a perilous foe.

Neglect of Shared Interests

Shared interests motivate shared time, shared conversation, shared passion.

When a couple is dating it is rare for them to find they have nothing in common, that they have few shared interests. But as time goes on, as they become husband and wife and settle into normal life, they can so easily fall into their separate routines. Now they live alone together, two people carrying on their separate lives under the same roof. Shared interests motivate shared time, shared conversation, shared passion. It can be a hobby, it can be an activity, it can even be a television show, but it ought to be something. The neglect of shared interests is a great enemy to a healthy marriage.

Neglect of Sex

God was good to provide that strange and mysterious gift of sex in order to bind a husband and wife together in a unique way. Sex is the superglue of a healthy marriage, and yet most couples are never far from neglecting it or from replacing it with pornography or something, anything else. The Bible demands that a husband and wife maintain the sexual relationship in all but the narrowest of circumstances—with mutual agreement, for a short time, in order to concentrate on prayer. There are inevitable times when nothing seems more difficult than pursuing the sexual relationship and nothing seems easier than neglecting it, but to neglect sex is to directly disobey God. To neglect sex is to disregard one of God’s great and indispensable gifts.

If Satan cannot destroy a marriage, he will at least determine to weaken it. To neglect any of these 6 things is to invite his presence and to welcome his influence.

HT: http://www.challies.com/christian-living/6-deadly-enemies-of-marriage

Saddling Up Again

I am going to start posting some articles again and several factors have led me to get going.  One is that two people this past week told me they missed the articles. Another is that Deb and I have been asked to be the speakers at the Maranatha Bible Camp’s Couple Retreat February 21-23 and I would like to use the blog as a place to think through some of the sessions.Winter Save

If you would love a weekend away for a couples retreat that is mostly fun and fellowship and a little of tolerating our teaching, come join us. You can get more information at http://www.maranathacamp.org/html/couples.htm

The topic title will be “Taking Hold of God in Our Marriage” where I will be hopefully expanding each person’s vision of God through the treasures of the gospel and so their marriage will be enriched. There will be 4 main sessions and at least one session where Deb will take time with the wives and I will meet with the husbands. Also we will be just available all weekend to interact with the couples.

The camp is located just east of North Platte, Nebraska and is in a beautiful location with outstanding facilities with a variety of activities available when not sitting and listening to me. Would love it if you would join us.