Family

This is the page dedicated to those posts that relate to family life and health.

The Great Symphony of Salvation

Have you come to Jesus?

If you have come to know Jesus as your personal savior, how did you come to Jesus? A recent survey of pastors, done by Lifeway Research, found that 29% percent of pastors came to Christ through a family member and 11% through a pastor’s ministry.

My thoughts on the matter differ a bit. Not because the research is faulty, rather that it only tells the end of the story and leaves out the depth that God goes to in order to reach His rebellious creation.

Consider this passage of Scripture…

1 Corinthians 3:5–8 (NKJV) “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”

The Bible says that Paul planted the seed of faith, Apollos watered that seed, but God gave the increase, or brought to life that planting and watering of the gospel in the hearts of men, women, and children. We are all links in the chain of salvation for those that are around us.

My own testimony… I was raised in a Christian home and I learned about Jesus from my mom and dad. I also learned about Jesus from my Sunday School teachers and pastors. I learned about Jesus from the Christian music that my mom played in the house as I was growing up. I can still hear the Gaither Trio in my mind singing The King is Coming. After watching a Christian film with my family I made a profession of faith at just 5 years old.

Sadly, as is often the case, when I was 16 years old I was done with religion. I had begun to equate Jesus with legalism and religion. To be completely forthcoming, I really don’t know if I was saved when I was 5 years old, what I do remember is a constant conversation with Jesus from that point forward, but also great doubt concerning my salvation due to some poor theology. It was into this adolescent tumult that God brought Trisha Bournival into my life. She was just a girl (albeit an adorable one) that I worked with at Kmart, in Manchester. It took us about six months before we went out on a date. Not long after that first date, she invited me to church.  I had stopped attending my church, and as I was fed up with religion, I ragged on her… but went anyway because hey, she was adorable and I was just a guy after all. Shout-p1The reality is that God the Spirit was continuing to orchestrate the great symphony of my salvation and had added a critical piece to that score. Through Trisha, I met her father Ken, Pastor Z, Pastor Clow, and Brother Rick Morin.

Over the next year, the proper theology, the testimony and witness of my childhood, the seed of the gospel, was watered by Trisha and her church, Emmanuel. Looking back, I smile as I recall all of my questioning of Trisha as we dated, concerning Biblical things. (She had a ChristianSchool education and even knew who Absalom was!) I remember with great fondness, sitting around the table at her parents’ house peppering her dad with my questions (his patience was monumental). Rick Morin, Pastor Clow and Pastor Z didn’t stand a chance either, and all took part in this great Song of Salvation.

Then it happened… the last person in that great score came to our church. Traveling Evangelist, Tommy Stone, a longtime friend of Emmanuel arrived prepared to share the Word with us for an entire week of services. He preached on a night in October. All of the planting and watering all of this great song bore fruit as the Lord quickened my dead spirit that night!

67610_681449395215166_1557980138_n

As I struggled at the altar praying and striving once again for security in my salvation Rick Morin came and knelt with me to pray. I was ashamed of my doubt, so told him that I was fine. As I continued to struggle in prayer, an unknown lady pointed out my continued striving to Ken, my future father in law. As he came to speak with me and directed my faith to Jesus, pointing out that it was better to turn and trust Jesus once and for all, than to continue with this agony of not knowing. The time had come, and after a short conversation with Jesus I was born again!

Why tell my story? Why consider this symphony with its vast score and many pieces? Why this language of planting and watering? Because it’s Biblical. As believers every single one of us are called to join this great chorus of salvation. We are given the privilege to participate with our Father and the Holy Spirit and the Son in the greatest work of redemption.  We are responsible. It’s not the last person that joins the song that makes the song, we are all a part of the whole. If you have the opportunity to lead someone to Jesus remember this… you are simply allowed to attend the birth of a child of the King as the Holy Spirit brings him or her to life. The seed of the gospel had been planted and watered in their hearts by many, many before you. Sure I have guided the child with words from the Sacred Text as he or she was being born again. But this was simply the act of harvesting fruit that had been planted and watered in most cases long before I arrived on the scene. So what’s the big deal about understanding this? It places the glory where it belongs, on God. It also underscores our responsibility to participate in the tapestry of salvation. We all need to play our part.

Are you planting? Are you watering? Church, this is what we were called to do, and to do faithfully, consistently, regularly! Be a part of the song of someone’s salvation! Take up that responsibility the Lord has laid upon you today!



Someone Else II

Disciple Web Banner

Thinking about someone else… We have many in churches that are focused on themselves and not on someone else.  The other day I was speaking with someone else about ministry and relationships and in our conversation I was reminded of my time as a teen in our church. I had been in teens for almost 2 years, Trisha had moved on from our Youth Group and I was bored.  I didn’t like the way the group was being run and being all of 17 or so, I knew better how  to run it.  That was when Ken Bournival my future father-in-law made an observation that maybe I shouldn’t be going to Youth Group for what I could get out of it but for what I could give into it.  I then began to look at my teen leader in a different light.  I saw a man and his wife that were sacrificing their time every Saturday to minister to a bunch of cranky and crabby teenagers.  I determined that night that this ministry would no longer be about me; it would be about someone else.  Even though Rick was my leader, and I was his responsibility, I determined through God’s help that I would be a blessing to him and that when he looked back on his time with me he would have no regrets.

 

Churches today (even in my church:-0) have developed a me first and consumer mentality.  There are business models for churches and management models for churches and programs for churches and you name it for churches, that leave out the fact that we are here for someone else.  A church isn’t a business.  It has business aspects, but it isn’t a business.  Church isn’t the military.  It has aspects of the military, we are a war against the devil and his agenda, but we aren’t the military.  A church is a sheepfold.  A church is a body.  A church is a family.  If you are a Christian, you should be a part of a local church.  You can toss your excuse as to why you aren’t, God established the local church for you and for His glory.  Usually when I have spoken with a person out of church they blame someone else.  The pastor changed the dress standard, the children’s ministry isn’t being run effectively or someone else hurt their feelings.

It’s time for church to be about blessing someone else.  It’s time to look out at the congregation and ministry that God has called you to, and be a blessing to someone else.  Find that frazzled leader and be a blessing to him.  When I determined to bless Rick, I didn’t ask his permission, I didn’t even tell him I was doing anything (I might have been afraid of his mustache at that point) I just did things to ease his burden.  I showed up, was friendly to new kids, helped clean up and set up and above all I tried to follow Jesus.  Jesus said that we should do the things that he said.  The fact is that we need to be here to bless someone else and that we ought to bear someone else’s burdens, that we that are spiritual ought to restore those that have fallen, in meekness and care and gentleness (not seeing a lot of that these days in churches).



Those Crazy Pastors’ Kids

20130629_160253Thom Rainer, the research extraordinaire for Lifeway Research, recently posted an article about pastors’ kids and I thought I would share it here. Before I share the article, I would like to add my thoughts. When I was a youth pastor, we used to go to a summer camp; at that camp was a pastor and wife that every year would lament the life their poor kids had to live. They elevated their children’s suffering as pastors children to an unhealthy level. Much was made about the horror of being a pastors’ kid. I really think that these people added to the burden of their children. That is not my aim. There are many things that this article calls to our attention, and we certainly want to consider whether or not we are being a blessing to our pastors’ kids (and all kids for that matter), or whether or not our behaviors towards them will contribute to their walking away from the church and the Lord.

As dad and a husband, I don’t consider my children to be pastor’s kids or my wife to be a pastor’s wife. I consider them to be Christian kids, and a Christian lady, at least that is my aim for my family.

For me, I have said and will say until I die and will counsel young pastors with this statement… “I will never sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry”. Truth to tell though, it’s a hard lesson to learn when you are in the thick of it and when there are so very many hurting believers and unbelievers that clamor for your attention. My wife knows that should it ever come down to her or the ministry I have already chosen her. With all of this said, hit up the link at the end for the rest of the article…

It was not the response to a blog post I expected. Back in June of 2013, I wrote a post speaking on behalf of pastors for their kids. I summarized seven major things pastors wanted you to know about their children. The article had a big response when it was first posted. But, for reasons I have not completely fathomed, the post went viral a few weeks ago. Now almost 200,000 views and hundreds of comments later, we can see a pretty clear picture.

You see, the majority of those who responded were pastors’ kids. So, instead of hearing from pastors about their children, we heard directly from the children themselves. Some were teenagers still living with their parents. Others were adults who grew up as PKs. All of them had pretty strong opinions.

As I read again through the plethora of comments, I developed seven major themes from these PKs. Not all of their comments were negative, but a majority did communicate some level of pain. Here is what they said:

  1. The glass house is a reality. People are always looking at the PKs. They have trouble saying or doing anything without someone, usually a church member, making a comment. Most of these PKs (and former PKs) felt a great deal of discomfort living in the glass house. Some even expressed bitterness.
  2. Some church members made a positive and lasting impression on PKs. One of the more frequent positive comments we heard were about the church members who loved and cared for the PKs. Many of them took the children under the wings and made a positive difference in their lives.
  3. Some church members were jerks to the PKs. Many of the stories are heartbreaking. It is really hard to imagine some of the awful words that were said to the PKs. Some still feel the sting of those words decades later.
  4. Many PKs resent the interrupted meals and vacations. They felt like their pastor parent put the church before the family. One PK, now an adult, lamented that every vacation his family took was interrupted; and many times the vacation was truncated.
  5. Some of the PKs have very… http://thomrainer.com/2014/01/08/seven-things-we-learned-from-pastors-kids/


Watch Your Mouth!

James 3:1–12 (NKJV)

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

mouthI’ve been thinking about our impact on others. On Sunday evening we just wrapped up a brief two week series on communication. This is something that I clearly need to work on. It’s a good thing that we have a perfect book to aspire to, and that although we as pastors are to model a good example to the church, we are not THE standard.

I’m grateful for the people God has surrounded me with in ministry. Starting with my wife and family and extending to our pastoral or elder staff and deacons. Those that are closest to me and are willing to risk speaking into my life the things that I often do not wish to hear.

Just the other day one of our men was talking with me regarding the impact of our words on people that are not even in the room. People that are two or three persons removed from the conversation. It’s easy to forget the power of our words on people all over the place, even people that we haven’t personally spoken to. Especially in leadership. It’s easy to forget the weight of your words, especially when you don’t feel respect from those you serve, or from those you serve with. Sometimes you forget, because of your low view of yourself. But my friend reminded me. And I’m grateful.

 

Let’s be careful out there, we never know whom we might affect with our words.

Lord, help me to be more like you as I speak, wherever I speak, and to whomever I speak.



Submission Isn’t a Dirty Word

wedding-spoons

Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as to the Lord… OUCH. There are probably fewer words in the Bible that are less comfortable. Yet without these words and the ones to follow marriage is a nightmare perversion of what it could be.

I typically preach and teach to men from a man’s perspective. I will and do hold men more accounatble for the sucess or failure of their homes than I do women. Yet for some reason the words “husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church” seem to sting much less than the word submit does. So ladies, cut me some slack and read on. The reason that I believe the word submit stings so much is two-fold… 

  • Pride, plain and simple pride. The verse prior to this one should take the sting away, “submitting yourselves one to another” and yet it doesn’t. The direct instruction from the Lord is wives submit to your own husbands. How shall we view such a pride destroying passage? How about this one… Phil. 2:5-11 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” All for the glory of His Father and the redemption of His creation. Did Jesus kenosis make Him less than He was and is? Did Jesus setting aside of His godly attributes make Him any less important? Without Jesus submission to the Father, we would be lost and without hope in this world. Submission is so like our Savior and is nothing to be ashamed of! Living as Jesus did is and should be the aim of all believers.
  •  Poor and sometimes abusive teaching. This may be unpopular among some preachers, but wives are to submit to their husbands as the church is to the Lord Jesus Christ; the perfect man who gave all he was to her. Submission is the ultimate act of trust in the heart of a woman to the man she has chosen to marry. Some preachers have mistakenly presumed that the Lord expects the wife to obey every sordid command of an abusive husband and that she should be a carpet for his dirty sinful feet. But as that man leads counter to the Scriptures he is no longer acting as the husband-leader under Christ but is acting anti-Christ. Now what the Scripture teaches in the word “everything” it means every area of life. There are no partitioned areas of life that marriage does not touch just as with Christ there is no partitioned part of our lives that he does not rule over. As the man leads like Jesus the wife should follow like the church does. This is extremely important in this day of such divided priorities and lives. The truth is that marriage affects and should affect every aspect of our lives. A wife that has hobbies and a career out of the home should have both of those under the leadership of her husband. There should be consensus in all that we do in and out of the house.

Next time I will speak toward the husbands and their duty and devotion to the daughter of God that He has allowed him to steward. Guys, if the words “love your wives as Jesus loved the church doesn’t chill and thrill you, you have missed the point and aren’t living or loving worthy of the treasure God has entrusted you with!



Run in the Right Direction

This past Sunday I preached a message that I had been burdened with over the last two months concerning trials. The message was born in the struggle of pain and confusion over what my eldest daughter has been going through. Rather early on in my Christian walk, I think I had been walking with Jesus for only about 3 or 4 years, Kierstin was born, nearly died, was hospitalized for about a month, we were told she would be delayed in her development but eventually catch up and finally that she had Cerebral Palsy and would not catch up or walk. Looking back now, it does seem like a lot for a 21 year old newlywed to go through!

one wayThe interesting thing to me is that just before we had Kierstin, I had been struggling with reading my Bible and I had been very tempted to just drop everything and walk away. We were struggling financially (like usual) and the thought of getting my tithe back was just so very tempting, the weekly grind of ministry seemed to be wearing me out, and I was just tired. It’s interesting that as my devotion to consistent Bible reading and study waned the temptation to run in the wrong direction increased. The blessing in all of this is that a few months before Kierstin came to us, the Lord led me back to His Word and all of those things that seemed so intolerable became so much water that just rolled off my back. The Bible teaches us that “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. Such a simple thing and yet indespensible wisdom. Read the BOOK!

Shortly after Kierstin was born, the Lord directed me to Philippians chapter 4. This has become my life chapter. Recently during this time of struggle the Lord directed me to Psalm chapter 40. Each season of life the Lord has a Word for you, whether the season is struggle with trials or with having faith, the Bible is a supernatural book that inspires at the same time that it convicts. The message on Sunday centered around just a few verses from that Psalm, really focusing in on this one; verse 4 “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”

Prior to Kierstin’s birth, I had begun running in the wrong direction, listening to the wrong voices. My faith was small because my time with God was small. As I entered this new season of suffering, I have found that the same formula works today that worked back then, 21 years ago. “Come unto me…” is still the call of the Savior, it’s a call to the difficult, a call to faith, and a call to the unknown and yet it’s a call to a greater life than can ever be lived alone. Run in the right direction, toward God’s Word the Bible, toward God’s people His church, toward God’s way serving others. Run in the right direction, listen to the right words.



Observations from the Valley

Mountains Website Banner

As I have been walking through this valley over the last month, there are a few observations that I have discerned.

  • God’s church is alive and well. Contrary to popular opinion, His people care and can put aside differences when necessary.
  •  Eyes of Faith Stock PhotosIt’s sad how many believers struggle with severe anxiety, depression or obsessive compulsive disorders. Many of these believers suffer silently because of the stigma that we have placed upon it. I recently received a message of prayer for Kierstin from an amazingly faithful missionary. A missionary that would put most of us to shame with her walk with God and fruitfulness in His service. This dear lady expressed to me that she has been taking medication for the last year due to anxiety and depression. She also shared with me that she couldn’t share it with many people for fear of retribution from some of her supporting churches that would condemn such a use of medication as a lack of faith.
  • There are many good people that mistakenly have adopted an either God or medicine and counseling mentality. I think this has been hoisted upon them by good intentioned but poor teaching. It borders on the false doctrine of Christian Science. These people are looking for the magic faith pill to put them over. I knew a bi-polar man once that thought he was doing well with Philippians 4 as his “medication”. The fact was that his faith, while real and true was not healing his mental illness and everyone but he saw it.  Because of this he lost just about everything. Our faith is not what heals or restores us, it is God that does or does not and he will at times say NO and lead us to seek medical help. I recently heard that in one of our small groups a woman rejected any kind of attempt at postpartum relief was a lack of faith, or that the symptoms of this postpartum was God trying to get their attention. What trite garbage.
  • I think that there are pastors that could benefit from some professional counseling instead of going it alone. I have seen some pastors that very likely suffer from some form or mental illness but believe that if they seek help it will signify a lack of faith. This is heartbreaking, because they suffer and at times may even take it out on their families or flocks. They are faithful men and have endured so much and need to be ministered to, but stubbornly or fearfully refuse to seek help.

So what’s the point? It’s time to move on from these destructive ideas and positions. There are many good doctors and even godly counselors that we might avail ourselves to. As pastors, we had best check ourselves when we renounce mental illness as a lack of faith or even say such things as “there may be a time for that kind of help, but few really need it…”.

Let’s care for the flock responsibly and tenderly and recognize that not everything we encounter in the flock is sin, some and maybe even much in the area of mental illness simply is not.



Yeah but… it Hurts:-/

1It seems to me that we all want to avoid suffering, and we will do pretty much whatever it takes to avoid it. But what happens when you can’t? What happens when God calls you to suffer? What then?

I wish I had a magic pill that I could recommend. At the moment the Lord has called me and my wife and children to suffer once again with the ailments of our eldest daughter.

Kierstin was a healthy child in the womb. She was everything you could hope for right up until her birth, near death, resuscitation and consequent diagnoses. Kierstin has Cerebral Palsy. She has never taken a step on her own. She has never spoken clearly without difficulty. She will never advance intellectually beyond the sixth grade (at 21, she might be at about a third grade comprehension level). She will never marry, or have a real boyfriend, she will never pursue a career and she will never be independent. Tough to write all of this out… she has had only two surgeries, thank God, at 7 years old, (for those with children like her you’ll understand) hamstrings, heal cords, and adductors were lengthened. She was then in a spica cast for weeks.spica Later at about 14 years old, due to her windswept legs she needed to have a thigh de-rotation surgery where they opened her left thigh up and sawed through her thigh bones rotated them and plated them up. We then had to commit her to a rehab facility an hour away while Trisha was 5 months pregnant for the next 4 months or so. That was difficult.

Oh, by the way I get it. There are worse cases out there. Much worse. To that I say… so what. Most people that say that are not the ones in the thick of the fight. Sometimes I wonder if the good intentioned think before they speak. I’m hitting the wall. So does it really help to know that there are people hitting it worse than I am? No… that hurts as well, those poor people! Or it seems like you have just dropped a mountain of guilt to the load we’re already carrying.

It does help to know we’re not alone. That helps more than you could possibly know. Hearing from people that are suffering and getting a word that it gets better or bearable is a wonderful salve. 1 Peter does this when Peter reminds his readers that there are others suffering with you and you are not alone. Hearing from those that are walking with you and love you and having a shoulder to lean on is immeasurable comfort.

Now we have entered a new phase of difficulty. In some ways it seems worse than the physical stuff. The Lord has increased my compassion for those suffering with mental illness probably one-hundredfold. Out of nowhere Kierstin has developed an unreasoning fear of death and going to hell. She is fixated and obsessing over this at times to the point of panic. It has stolen away the joyful and engaging person that she has always been. This from the girl that inspired the song “I’ll Run When I get to Heaven”. She knows that this isn’t like her. She knows something isn’t right. We have been to the medical doctors and ruled out physical illness, with blood tests, medicine interactions reports, etc… nothing. She simply fixates on going to hell. She knows it’s not true, that Jesus loves her and has promised her eternal life, she knows that God doesn’t lie, she knows that people are praying for her, but none of this seems to help. It all came to a head on a Sunday morning before church when Trisha found Kierstin’s face and hands covered in blood, wild eyed, panting on the verge of hyperventilation and chanting between labored and gurgling breaths that she was going to hell. She had begun to strike herself in the lip repeatedly until she gashed it open and filled her mouth with blood. This has been our world for the last month. No answers, no relief. She asks me to help her and I have nothing left. She asks when she will get better, when she will feel normal, when she will get past this, and I have no answer. Top it all off with the loss of sleep in her and us and you have the ingredients for a disaster.

So now what? We will seek a specialized counsellor that works with disabled people. We have begun a dose of new medication that may or may not help. What do we do when there is no relief? What do YOU do when there is suffering, and it seems like the Lord is calling you to suffer? This is my story, maybe it’s therapeutic to write it out. Maybe some of you will think that I am something of a weak and immature Believer. Well so be it, maybe you’re correct. However, I’ve been against the wall before. I’ve faced the giants before, I’ve failed before, more times than I can honestly count, I even failed this morning before coming into the office. I still don’t know how to help Kierstin. I will keep trying to find her the help she needs. She’s my baby after all. But how will I continue to walk through this valley of dead dry bones, how will I hold my marriage and family together? Read on my friend, read on…

·         God is more than an idea

·         The Bible is more than a book

·         The Church is more than a place

These three things are the things that the Lord reminds me of and drives me back to. It’s His GRACE that shows me these simple truths. I thank Him for it, without Him I would surely give up. I have seen so many people forget these things and run away from God because He has called them to suffer. But God is good and suffers with you. Times like these the Bible opens up new vistas for me and it’s times like these, that the Lord works off the rough edges of my life. These are the times that the church universal comes alive in my sight. From calls, to texts, to messages and emails we feel the love of His body. Then there is the local church. At Emmanuel, when Kierstin was born, we found the shoulders, the strength and the wisdom that we did not have. Once again this magnificent body of Christ has come together to carry us, and to care for us. From babysitting and loving on our younger children, to offers of staying with Kierstin through the long nights, we are blessed.

 

So to my suffering brothers and sisters; run in the right direction. For those that can, hold them up and love them without adding to their guilt or grief.

Psalm 34:18 (NKJV)

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,

And saves such as have a contrite spirit.



Seven Things Pastors Would Like Church Members to Know about Their Children (REPOST)

This is a repost from Thom Rainer, he is an excellent thinker and asset to the Church. You can find his blog here.

I was serving a church in St. Petersburg, Florida, when it hit me hard. One of my young children had playfully fallen on the floor in the foyer after a worship service. A deacon in the church came up to me and spoke forcefully: “You need to tell your kid to get up. Pastors’ children aren’t supposed to act that way.”

My internal emotional reaction was carnal. I’m just glad I held my tongue. I was really mad. I can still remember my thoughts: “How dare this man hold my young son to a standard different than other kids! My boy really didn’t cause any harm. He was just being playful.

I recently conducted a Twitter poll of pastors and their spouses about this very issue. Though the poll was informal and not scientific, the responses were nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top seven responses in order of frequency. A representative comment or combined comments are given with each of the seven.

  1. Don’t expect more out of pastors’ kids (PKs) than any other kids. “My children need to have the same expectations as the other children in the church. They are not some kind of spiritual superstars because their dad’s a pastor.”
  2. Please offer encouragement to my children. “It’s not always easy to be a PK. The glass house thing is real. I am so thankful for the church members who go out of their way to encourage my children.”
  3. Realize that they are kids. “I know a few church members who seem to think my kids are miniature adults. They expect them to act like a 40 year old instead of a 4 year old.”
  4. Please don’t call them “PKs.” “Their identities should not be based on their father’s vocation. They have their own unique and special identities.”
  5. Please pray for my children. “I am blessed to have this one lady in my church who prays for my three children every day. She knows the special challenges of being a PK.”
  6. Follow this link for the rest of the post.


Managing Your Marriage

lifw_tight_ropeOuch! That’s a tough title to follow-up with!  However, having been married now for almost 23 years, I have found that without managing my marriage and all of the complexities involved it can become a very difficult place to be.

This morning I would like to focus primarily on one word. Self.  This is the natural default of the nature of the human race.  On one hand it can lead to a healthy care for yourself. Taking the time you need to be healthy spiritually and physically as well as emotionally.  However, our culture has once again taken a healthy attribute of self-care and driven it to the point of perversion, selfishness.

Take a look at Ephesians 5:28–29 (NKJV)
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.  

In this verse we find that both self-care and selflessness are mentioned in the same breath.  The Lord is giving a context explaining that it is normal and natural to take care of yourself.  And then he drops the curtain and we see that caring for our wives, or by extension our husbands is the same as caring for ourselves.  Remember this, you are no longer two people but are ONE.  Care for each other.  Consider your spouse your inner voice.  Respect his or her thoughts and opinions.  Take care to take care of him or her. Your spouse is the most important person in your life hands down (I hate to even need to qualify that this does NOT mean to ACCEPT abuse from your spouse).  A healthy relationship requires that you care for your spouse as much as you do for yourself.

As a man, this concept can sometimes be foreign in a masculine church culture that expects the wife to wait hand and foot on her husband and often considers women to be below men in the pecking order or in intelligence or even spirituality.  This is not God’s plan nor is it God’s way.  I know that there are ministers that will read this and read into it things that I haven’t said, however, you may not verbalize the above statement but actions speak louder than words.  Gentlemen we need to break free from an unhealthy culture and recognize women as equal in the eyes of God (take a look at the epistles of Peter and just who was the last at the cross and first at the tomb and what gender was wise enough to anoint Christ for his burial while the men argued).  I understand that we each have different roles to play in the church and family, but that recognition needs to be reinforced with a healthy respect for one another!  This paragraph needed to be written because so much harm has been done in the name of religion and the Bible.  Our authority as men comes from Jesus and we ought to learn to act like it!  Read the verses again JUST AS THE LORD DOES THE CHURCH

As to managing your marriage, this is the point. It’s not all about you.  Personally, I can be very forgetful of this fact.  Even though when I was praying for a mate, I asked the Lord to give me someone who needed me, so that I could be there for her I still forget that it’s not all about me.

This selflessness goes for financial decisions, school and church and spiritual decisions, and sexual decisions as well.  Do you respect and seek to nourish your husband or wife in all of these areas?  I’m a stickler for beating the men up in this area, but the wife must also see that she reverence her husband, while the church culture today has often relegated women to the back of the bus so to speak the society has been doing the same to men.

If we would stop making everything about us, and recognize the value of one another, we might just find that managing our marriages would become more of a joy and less of a burden.  Men, include your wife.  I don’t mean burden her, but include her in you life, work and ministry.  She is a part of YOU. This may go against some of your training, and I don’t mean that you breach confidentiality, but she should be a part of what God is doing in your heart and soul.

Concerning work apart from ministry, remember,  your spouse may not enjoy the specifics of what you do, but he or she deserves to be included in your business in some manner.  Everyone is different, learn the rhythms of your husband or wife and what he or she can handle and how much he or she may want to be involved.

When you were married you declared before the enemy that you were becoming ONE… you shouted from the spiritual rooftops that you were doing a God-thing and the enemy took notice.  Don’t let him win.  Learn to lead and follow from the Lord.  He is amazing HE DID BOTH.  He was and is the authority in marriage and ministry and yet He also humbled himself to His Father and to the power of the Spirit while in this world doing ministry.  In Him we find both how to lead and how to follow.

God bless!