Archives For help for marriage

You Ain’t Done

April 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

ironclad

Your life is an amazing story. If somewhere along the way a great writer had been there to capture your finest moments or most bitter failures people would be captivated by it. Somebody, probably a lot of somebodies, would relate to what you went through, how you overcame, how you fell and got back up or how you have fallen and are trying to get back up right now.  You might not always appreciate it, you may not always feel like it, but you are awesome and what you do every day means something.

The greatest heroes of scripture were severely flawed yet went on to inspire and help change the lives of untold millions. In many cases it is their accomplishments despite their flaws that inspires us today. None of them, while in the midst of their challenges, had an idea of the impact they would have on so many people to come after them. Peter, a rough and tumble fisherman with a propensity for rash behavior. David, a shepherd, warrior and king exhibited the best and worst in all of us. Abraham, at times full of fear yet the father of our faith. All like us.

Their story is written yet the ripple effect continues on. As they lived their lives a great author documented their successes, their failures, the falling down and the getting up. That same great author documents our lives and our stories will be told for eternity. We battle in an arena as a great cloud of witnesses looks on, cheering our victories, sharing our defeats and anxiously awaiting our next move. We are clothed in armor and tested by the enemy. What we see as daily life, temptation, leading our families, sharing God’s love, extending forgiveness, receiving His grace when we fail, are seen as great victories from the heavens. Your story, YOU and what you do, is documented and will be revisited.

Maybe today there will be a pivotal moment that changes the course of yours, or someone else’s, life.  Maybe your mission in life is to lead your family and model for your children what it looks like to be a Christian man, full of flaws and imperfections but NOT GIVING UP. Maybe the most important thing you ever do will be to break a generational curse that has been in your family for years, abuse, neglect or an attitude of anger. Maybe you are the first man in your family to take his walk with the Lord seriously. Your daily actions will impact generations to come.

We, you and I, are Kings & Priests. We have the power to encourage one another, to lift one another up through prayer, a word of encouragement or just pitching in, getting our hands dirty and helping someone out.  That very act, by a faithful servant, was the catalyst that brought me back from the edge. (Thank you Mike.) We do not know the powerful impact our actions may have that may help change someone’s life forever, maybe change their family for generations to come.

Recently a friend from the Navy I hadn’t seen in 25 years stopped in for an overnight visit. He told me that if it wasn’t for my guidance and leadership back then he would not be where he is today. Despite me being a young chucklehead, what I invested into him, seemingly inconsequential at the time, would produce long term results. I am humbled. (Thank you Chris.)

My life is full of men who invested in me, my Dad, Tim Siddle, Jack Himschoot, Mike Leonard, Sherman Hare, Jamie Stilson and many more including my younger brother, Shannon. None of these men waited until they had their act together to invest in or encourage me. At the time, they had no idea that years later I would mention them in these terms. In the course of their everyday lives they chose to invest in or encourage me despite the “Prone to wander” tattoo I should have across my forehead.  Those men share in the legacy that, through God, I am creating in my family; the same way that I share in my friend Chris’ legacy that he is creating in his family.

Jesus is our example, He did something amazing for us before we knew Him. If we will let His love shine through us, by the way we live our lives, the words we say and the things we do, our ripple effect can go on for generations in our families, and others, for His glory. Please join me and ask God for the eyes to see and ears to hear where He needs us and then take action. Lend a hand, get involved, go out of your way to encourage someone, invite someone to church. The little things we do can have long term impact.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Who Told You That?

December 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

Doubting Man

Who Told You That?

When our kids are young we are always careful about what we expose them to, who they hang out with, what they watch. If they say something out of line we have all said many times, “Where did you hear that?” We want to know.

Sometimes one of the kids will utter some bit of nonsense like, “Vampires are real” and I’ll ask them, “Who told you that?” We want to know where that information came from and we want to set the record straight. I’m sure you can all relate.

We are concerned with where our children are getting their information. When we allow our kids to spend time with other people we trust those people aren’t going to be filling their heads with garbage. I personally, and I’m sure you can relate, am careful about who & what I expose my kids to.  They don’t need to know everything that goes on in the world.

In Genesis 3 we read the account of satan deceiving Eve, she gives the fruit to Adam, they have disobeyed God, “…their eyes were opened…” and they knew sin.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? (Or “Who told you that?”)

Inherent in God’s question to Adam are other questions, “When He asks, “Who told you that?” He is also saying, “Did I tell you that?” Did whoever told you that have your best interest in mind, did they breathe your very life into you?

When God comes walking back into the garden He asks a couple of things, both of which He already knows the answer to;

  1. Where are you?
  2. Who told you that…?

The Bible gives us no indication how long Adam and Eve had been in the garden up to this point but we do know this; God created them both, he had a relationship with them and fellowshipped with them, apparently face to face or quite closely.  YET, despite the fact that they had a loving Father who had their very best interest in mind and gave them excellent advice they chose to take the advice or instruction of another.  I don’t know for sure how long Adam and Eve were in the garden but based on their behavior, I think they were teenagers.

I have considered many times that there is no need to be hard on Adam and Eve, if the world had been perfect up until I was in the garden I surely would have messed it up for the rest of you.

I want to take a moment and consider God’s question to Adam, “Who told you that?”

They had been walking around exactly the way God made them, exactly the way that God intended them to be when someone else came in and someone came in and ruined it…

Gen 3

3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Good & Evil. Do you think Adam and Eve knew good already? What was the purpose of eating the fruit?

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, (physically appealing) and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.

Wise? Is this what makes us wise? Knowing good and evil?

Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  It doesn’t say, “The knowledge of what’s evil is the beginning of wisdom and understanding comes from knowing about all the evil that goes on in the world.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”

The fruit of that tree did not make her wise, it showed her what evil was, that’s what she wanted.

We don’t need to spend our time listening to what satan has to say, to keep track of his exploits and to make sure they don’t come near our house.  “Oh but I gotta know what’s going on” or you might say, “My knowledge of good isn’t enough, I need to know about evil too.”  Just like Eve said.

Here’s what Paul has to say in his letter to the church at Phillipi,

Philippians 4

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthymeditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

God does not tell us to learn everything we can about what’s evil, to study it and understand it; He says, “…meditate on these things.”

I’m not saying there’s no such thing as Ebola or crime or distress,  I’m saying that spending 2 hours of your day listening to reports about it is not only a waste of time but it is the very thing, the very thing that God was trying to protect His children from, the knowledge of evil, focusing on what the enemy  is doing or what he has to say.

Who told us that focusing on the evil in the world was ok? God says, “Who told you that?”

Adam and Eve were walking around in the garden naked and happy. Their desire to be like God, specifically, to know about evil, changed everything. After they disobeyed God they knew what evil was.

What has the enemy been whispering in your ear?

I am not saying that there isn’t evil, sickness and crime. I’m saying that He who is in us is GREATER than He who is in the world!! We need to shift our focus…focus “…on whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 …….. and the God of peace will be with you.”

“The God of peace will be with you…IF…You meditate one these things” That’s a promise from the Bible.

A Wandering Eye

October 25, 2014 — 2 Comments

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Right after I got saved, a gentleman in his mid-seventies helped me put my wandering eye into perspective. I asked him, “How old do you have to be before a beautiful woman no longer catches your eye?” He said, “You’ll have to ask somebody older than me.”

I have to admit that his response was not a comfort to me. “So you’re saying that this could go on for a while?”  Apparently God made men to appreciate a well put together woman.  Well then, why did Jesus say, “… anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Jesus understands how our minds work.  In James chapter 1 we see that, “…each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”  The key point here is, “carried away by his own lust.” If we see a woman and then take a moment or two to ponder & further appreciate the details of her specific structure, perhaps considering the possibilities, we have moved into sin.

Alternatively, if we “…take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ”  (2Cor10:5), right up front, immediately, we can avoid this.  I am not claiming this is easy, especially as we are initially training ourselves, perhaps even after years of training. It is, however, vital.

We have plenty of opportunities to either accept or reject thoughts that are presented to us. The battleground is in the mind, the weapons are spiritual and the enemy is not our flesh but satan and his host of chuckleheads.

There is no shortage of Christian men who have indulged in their fantasies and those fantasies have led to their destruction.  Make no mistake, the place to handle this issue is immediately, as the thought springs up. Ending up in bed with someone you shouldn’t be with isn’t the result of a bad decision, it is the result of many bad decisions. Those decisions started as a thought, pondered on, entertained, mulled over, revisited and finally acted on.

Consider King David, he was already on a slippery slope when he gazed upon a bathing Bathsheba. David was home when he should have been out with his men, he had multiple wives in direct violation of God’s law and he had concubines . At this point in his life David was obviously given to self-indulgence.  Bathsheba wasn’t his ruin, all the other things he had allowed in his life up to that point led to his ruin. When he considered Bathsheba he had already established a pattern of indulgence in his life. Bathsheba was the natural progression.

I’ve heard it said, “Men either struggle with lust or lie about struggling with lust.” I don’t know if that’s true but I know that every man I have spoken to about the subject has had challenges. Here’s the good news, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” “All things are possible with God” “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2Cor10:4), “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…”(Rom8:37) and “God stands over His word to perform it.” (Jer1:12). How about this, ““My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor12:9).  Those are some promises from God that we should continually speak over our lives.

Here are just a few practical things we can do to keep our walk where it needs to be.

  1. Immerse ourselves in His word. Our minds need to be cleansed, renewed, continually. Romans 12:2 says, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Our mind is renewed by the word of God. Attending church is a given. Additionally, use your commute to and/or from work to listen to teaching CD’s. I PROMISE you it will make a difference in your life.
  2. Keep a short account with God. Our first inclination may not be to run to God when we sin but it should be. “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” God already knows, you might as well get before Him and make it right and move forward. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John1:9). God is not sick and tired of hearing you repent even though you may be sick and tired of having to repent. Your previous sin is as far from you as the east is from the west if you brought it to Him. It doesn’t accumulate, it is GONE. He made provision for your sin and He said, “My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus took that sin on Himself and nailed it to a cross. DONE.
  3. Get in relationship with another man, or men, and support one another. You are not alone in your temptations or your propensities. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…” (1Cor10:13) Satan wants you to feel alone and offers the stinking wet blanket of Shame to put on. Shame is a cheap imitation of Godly conviction that brings us to repentance and then goes away.

Build a strong relationship with another Godly man and “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jam1:16) BAM! Get ahold of that! How about this, “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” And, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc4) I could go on, “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” (Pro27:17)

God has given us an amazing gift, woman. He has told us how to appreciate her (Eph5:25), He made us to connect in so many wonderful ways, He has given us a license to do so and He commands that we do it within the bounds of marriage. Jesus Himself was tempted in every way that we are and fully understands our temptations. He took our sins upon Him and through Him we have strength to overcome as well as His grace and forgiveness when we fail. Don’t let satan kick your ass. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Paul said, “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phi3:13,14). “Forgetting what is behind…” means getting up after you fall down, recommit and “straining toward what is ahead…” PRESS ON BROTHERS! Can I get an “Amen!”?

How I Fixed My Wife

There are some things that God reveals in His word that don’t make sense to me at first. Turning the other cheek is an example. Another example is reaping and sowing. We can commonly relate this to farming and I understand the principle there. However, it is a principle that applies to other areas. Giving is an example. Another example is our wives.

Ephesians 5:25-28 tells us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  After we do that we will receive her back to us as Christ will receive his perfect bride.

  1. Give yourselves up for her. Sacrifice.
  2. Receive her back to you, perfected.

When I first heard this it was like a light bulb came on. “Sounds great!” Turns out,  actually sacrificing for my wife was harder than I thought. As a matter of fact, it was about 10 years from the day the light bulb came on until I finally got serious about it. It was easier for me to justify my own behavior than sacrifice or, “give myself up” for my wife.

Staying in the comfortable rut of our relationships can seem like the path of least resistance. We gradually put up with more and more until one day we look at where we are and wonder how we got here. It seems like there’s no way we can fix the mess we are in and divorce is the only answer. I’ve been through divorce and it sucks. No mas.

Sacrifice hurts. If it doesn’t cost you then it’s not sacrifice. Happily doing things for my wife that I don’t want to do is part of my sacrifice. Not holding it over her head is another part. Forgiving her is a sacrifice. I try to be the one who apologizes first. I have also made it a point to understand exactly what she wants and I try to provide that. (For this, I strongly recommend the book The 5 Love Languages). I am committed to sexual purity. Praying for my wife is another sacrifice. I gave up alcohol. I make few decisions without asking her opinion. For me, these are sacrifices and I willingly make them for her.

I fail in my commitments often. I indulge in selfishness and avoid the sacrifices I know I should be making. When I get off track like that I repent and try to get headed back in the right direction.

Really, it’s not about fixing her, it is about fixing me. I’ve got a giant plank in my eye and that thing deserves all of my attention before I worry about the speck in her eye. Fixing her was never the answer, working on me is the answer. God told me what to do, I am working on it and our marriage is better because of it. Big surprise.

You want to fix your wife? Give yourself up, sacrifice. Listen to what God recommends and commit. If you start to do it and it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t seem fair then you are on the right track!