Stop being Swiss

Daveandanne2011

The weekly marriage blog has been a thrill to do.  In February, I’m going to focus the marriage blog on the subject of sex.  Being Valentines month, it comes as an easy topic to discuss.  Other than finances, it is still the biggest struggle points in marriage…but I’ll save the words for next week.

From the get-go, let me say this about what you are going to read: This blog isn’t about cutting out parents nor discouraging parental involvement.  It’s about fostering healthy boundaries.

The title has nothing to do with cheese. Nor does it have anything to do with Swiss Miss hot chocolate.  Honestly, I’m hungry and a swiss steak does sound good.  But “swiss” has everything to do with neutrality.

switzerland

Traditionally, Switzerland avoids alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action and had been neutral since the end of its expansion in 1515. According to WiseGeek, “Due to its geographical location, the ethnic composition of its population, and its relatively minute territory, Switzerland has had to obtain neutral status in order to maintain its internal cohesion.”

Why is that important to marriage?

One of the members of, what I call, my marriage blog community (@thepurebed), tweeted an awesome quote:

“You are not Switzerland. If your parent is meddlesome, you must not remain neutral. Set boundaries for them. Make consequences clear.”

Parents, and would also could include siblings and close friends, that meddle in your marriage can be cancerous.

To “Meddle”  means to intrude or interfere in other people’s affairs or business.  As a parent, I inherently feel it is my obligation to shape, share, and steer my children’s lives. Now understand, my kids are 13 and 10.  But I’ve worked with enough marriages to see the damage from couples who have parents (and yes siblings) who do not know their boundaries.

I don’t necessarily blame the parents.  It’s not entirely their fault.  YOUNG COUPLES HAS A LOT TO GLEAM FROM THEIR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS….BUT…

You need to set up boundaries.

Because you don’t want to rock the boat, you play neutral. You are “Switzerland.”
– You avoid alliances that might entail conflict.
– You obtain a neutral status in order to maintain family cohesion.
– You always come out of conflict as the ambassador of peace and tranquility.

Feels good to be “Swiss” right?

But in that lies a problem. By being “Switzerland,” you are acting selfishly.  The effort to maintain peace has done the opposite. As the ambassador of your neutral state, you’re accomplishing at least one of four things:
1 – You are making yourself look good and you are leave your spouse to be the “bad guy.”
2 – Your effort of neutrality has set up your parents to be despised by your spouse.
3 – You are skirting around the struggles that are meant to help you build strength together as a couple.
4 – There is no “oneness” between husband and wife. The unity of a marriage is beautifully illustrated by a cord of three strands: Husband, wife, Christ.

I’ll say it again, we need the wisdom of our parents.  But we also need boundaries.   For an unborn child,  the umbilical cord is the baby’s life line. Without the umbilical cord the baby will not grow. The cord’s purpose is to pass food from the mom to the baby that is why at birth the umbilical cord is cut off because they don’t need it anymore.  When we marry, we need the umbilical cord cut.  That’s why Genesis 2:24 says, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  We need more people who are more protective over their marriages than their relationships with their parents. That may be harsh, but I’ve dealt with far too many marriages suffering because the “leaving” has never happened.

Here’s some thoughts for ya:
1. Foster appropriate boundaries.  Have some rules that you and your spouse agree on and stay in unity on them.   Figure out consequences for broken boundaries. Have boundaries about what is discussed with parents and what is not. At an appropriate time and in an appropriate way, share those boundaries with parents.
2. Don’t be a double-agent. Cut the cord and be part of a marriage.  Don’t play on both sides of the fence.  It’ll hurt when you fall.
3. Follow through on your word.  If there are people meddling in your marriage, AND they are not respecting your boundaries, they are asking for you to intervene. By their interference and lack of respect for the boundaries you have set up, they are asking for the consequences. Sound harsh doesn’t it?  Love these people enough to make the tough decisions. For friends of mine that can’t respect the boundaries, I have  to limit time and influence from them.  I’m responsible to the Lord for me and my spouse, not for them.
4. Be open to wisdom…admit you don’t have all the answers.  This blog isn’t about cutting out parents.  It’s about fostering healthy boundaries. Agree as a couple to get help. Parents are tremendous sources of experience and want to save you from some misery.  Hear it.  Process it.  Pray over it.  And move forward together.
5. Stay unified.  The “Switzerland” mentality is cancerous to unity.

Maybe you find yourself as “Switzerland”in your marriage.  Can I challenge you to do something? Repent of that. Confess it to your spouse and ask for forgiveness. The humility and teachability are infectious toward health and a unified front. If you don’t know if you are “Switzerland”, just ask.  Hopefully, you have an atmosphere in your home where honesty is welcomed (that may be another blog for another day).

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

 

New series coming to @kalamazoofirst (with video)!!!…and other essential links you need.

I’m wore out but still pumped from yesterday. The voice is a bit scratching and I had a sleepless night. I’ll admit I had a few nightmares…but my insomnia come from my mind already on the next message. The service was amazing and I am staring and Monday completely stoked for what God has in store for our church.

I get in my office today and read Hebrews 7:19 smacks me in the face:

IMG_3423

(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

This is my prayer this week….that every person present yesterday, will introduce the “better hope” into EVERYONE around them.

YOU…are the salt
YOU…are the light
YOU…are God’s choice to carry the news of the “better hope.”

TRUTH: (from yesterday) The darker the world gets, the brighter we should shine.

A few things for you to know about this week:

1 – New promo for our series “Circles” starting on February 10th. Circles Bulletin 4 x .75

Check out the promo (I almost froze filming it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoHF3NUQKzA

2 – I apologize for the message notes not being on you version. Here’s the link for those who were asking: http://www.a.youversion.com/events/189336

IMG_8045

3 – For those that wanted the link for: 26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/moments-that-restored-our-faith-in-humanity-this-y

4 – Phenomenal prayer app that I highly recommend.

I’m a guy who loves using apps for everything. As admit as I am about prayer, I’ve yet to come across an app I really love to help with my prayer life. Youversion is good at reminding me of devos and getting the message notes for Sunday’s message. But I can’t say it’s the best for my daily time in prayer.

The “7:14 Prayer” app encourages you to set aside a few minutes each day to pray for the nation and its leaders. As part of the Assembly of God 7:14 Prayer Initiative (based on 2 Chronicles 7:14), George Wood (Superintendent of the A/G) asks people to join him in praying every day at 7:14 a.m. and p.m., as well as to fast and pray over the noon hour on Fridays.

IMG_1042 IMG_2772 IMG_6067 IMG_6205 IMG_8514

 

 

Go after it this week!! Be salt. Be light. Introduce someone to a “better hope.”

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Kissing Lessons

BARRINGER0039

To quote Porthos in the “Three Musketeers,” he told D’Artagnan “The secret…is in the first kiss for in that first kiss a lasting impression is made. Right, ladies? If it is weak she’ll think you’re weak. If it is comical she’ll think you’re a clown. (…) And as a musketeer is never weak and only rarely a clown you’re first kiss must be all the things that you are.”

Hershey's_kiss_stamp

Ain’t gonna lie..I like kissing. Like many men, physical touch is my top love language.  Anne knows it’s the language that gets my attention. But today, we’re approaching kissing from two thoughts.

1. The physical kiss cannot be neglected. 

There’s something that I picked up from my parents.  It’s a TRUTH you should live by as a parent: Grossing out your kids is a parental right. 

(Disclaimer: Notice I said “grossing out your kids” not “grossing them by groping your spouse in front of them.” You don’t want to scar your kids. Save the groping for after they go to bed.)

They will hate seeing affection.  They will roll their eyes.  They will complain. And one day, they will thank you for it.  Why you may ask?  Because there will never be a doubt about how you two feel about each other.

Song of Solomon 1:2 [ The Bride Confesses Her Love ] [ She ] Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine

Kissing your spouse  often shows:
1 – A healthy example of affection in marriage.  Don’t be afraid to kiss him/her in public.  I’m not asking you to make out during church.  But some couples keep their affection so private that I have to wonder if there is any attraction between the two.
2 – Passion. It keeps things spicy and alive. It’s a valve within your marriage that allows affection to flow freely. The more you hamper the kiss, the more you suppress passion.
3 – A singularity of the heart. The kiss shouldn’t be taken for granted.  A frequent kiss is the reminder that he/she still holds your heart.

now to the other thought…

2. Honesty is as intimate as kissing. 

Proverbs 24:26 Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.

My dad taught me something a long time ago.  Trust is fragile.  If it’s broken, it take time to repair.  My twist to his wisdom has been, “Trust is like fine china…if it’s broken, it takes work, patience, and time to put it back together.” Why does it take time? Because the lack of honesty has brought brokeness to the intimacy.

Lack of honesty leads to broken trust.
Broken trust leads to shallow intimacy…or none at all.
No intimacy leads to emptiness….a void.

Without the “honesty” being humbly dealt with…the emptiness leads individuals on a search to fill in the void.  If the void isn’t filled by the spouse as God has designed it, there will be temptation to fill it with something else.

To be a couple that specializes in “kissing,” according to Prov. 24:26, is a couple that seeks to bring truth and honesty into their union. Honesty can be difficult.  Why? Honest can hurt.  Honest exposes what needs to be done/said and not necessarily what the spouse wants to hear. Here’s some tips: 

1 – Timing.  Look for the appropriate time to make sure the distractions are at a minimal.
2 – Tones. Use tones that your spouse isn’t going to reject.  You know them well enough.  Speak in a manner that they are going to receive what you’re are saying.
3 – Tact. If the honesty is a criticism, don’t walk into the situation just to “blow them out of the water.” Use tact. Ask yourself how you would want the comment/communication if it was you.
4 – Temptation. There’s a temptation to ignore certain subjects because of fear.  Remember, to ignore honesty is to invite brokeness.
5 – Treat. (I was trying to think of another word with the letter “T”) To treat a wound is to deal with it in a healing way.  You properly care for it to foster healing and care.

Whether it is the physical kiss or communicating honesty in your marriage, kissing is important to the health and vitality of your marriage. If you are lacking in either, don’t wait.  Don’t put it off.  It won’t take care of its self.

Grab your spouse and kiss em…

Take your marriage, and pour out honesty and truth…

Thanks for letting me ramble…

A Pile of Dung

I came into the office today and dove into my devos. I’m going through Philippians and Hebrews in my personal studies.

I couldn’t let go of Philippians 3:8 (of course I had to instagram it)

photo

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”

Selah (means “stop and reflect”)

Everything that we hold to importance.

Everything we make a big deal about.

Everything we take pride in…

Paul calls rubbish.

It is literally any refuse such as the excrement of animals, off scourings, rubbish, dregs and so figuratively speaks of things that are worthless and detestable. It includes material thrown to the dogs.

(Here’s where it gets almost absurdly descriptive) The word rubbish (GK: Skubalon) was word used to refer to a half eaten corpse (gross!) and filth of various kinds including lumps of manure or human excrement. It was the word describing the portion of food “rejected” by the body as not nourishing.

Paul is saying that he counts everything in his life dung. He even counts all his religious achievements as rubbish for that deep intimate love relationship with the living Christ. This strong metaphor reminds one of Isaiah’s description of ALL of men’s righteous deeds describing them (Isa 64:6) as “filthy rags” which is an Old Testament term for menstrual cloths. (I’ll save that blog for another day)

We place so much on our achievements. We boast about what we have accomplished in our lives. We put “yesteryear” on such a high pedestal as to hold the present captive to it’s worth.

Paul says, “stop.”  Wake up

Paul says, “look.” Focus

Paul says, “it doesn’t mean anything next to the SURPASSING WORTH of knowing Jesus.”

It’s not to say that what we do has no worth…it’s just that our passion begins with the recognizing the “surpassing worth of knowing  Jesus.”

As much as we push our kids in their sports and academic achievements, do they see the priority of “knowing Jesus.” Do they see it in you?

As much as we strive for a better marriage, does our spouse see in us the priority of “knowing Jesus.”

TRUTH: “Knowing Jesus” is not something we get to achieve someday down the road.  It’s where we start.  It’s where EVERYTHING stems from.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Using a Hammer to Fix Your Spouse

BARRINGER0017

I like to think myself as a decent handy man.  I recognize I don’t come off that way. I’m clumsy.  I get hurt easy.  And yes I did once glue my knee to a tile while redoing my bathroom. But overall, I’m pretty good.

Because of that side of me, one of my favorite things to buy, outside of socks, is tools.  Consider it the Tim Taylor in me.  I will make up excuses to buy a tool.  At one point, Home Depot workers just left me alone.  Probably because I put in more hours there than most of their workers.

The “tool” mindset came because of a quote I came across by Abraham Harold Maslow.  He was an American psychologist. The quote that got me thinking says…

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Don’t get me wrong.  A hammer is a great tool (coming from a person who owns 6 hammers of different types).  BUT if it’s your only tool in your “arsenal” of tools, you may be in trouble.

ws_hammer_in_the_floor_1280x1024_desktop_1920x1200_hd-wallpaper-847577

I don’t know what comes to mind when you think of a “hammer” in your marriage.  I think of those that don’t possess (or choose not to possess) the skills/tools necessarily to handle conflict and communication.  THIS IS NOT A GUY ISSUE.  If you are harsh with your spouse…if you are brash…if you have no patience…if kindness no longer exists in your tones…if you treat your friends better than your spouse…if you ignore your spouse…

…then I already know what’s in your “marriage tool arsenal.”

A hammer

A few thoughts come to mind about people who only own a hammer:
1 –  You are not ready to fix anything. At the site of a problem, it’s a good chance that it either it won’t be fixed or you’ll get to it later.
MARRIAGE TIP: The worst time to learn about your marriage is when it’s going through turmoil.  As I’ve blogged before, become a student of your spouse.  BUT take it a step further, become a student of marriage. Go the God’s word.  Why?  He’s the creator and builder of marriage.  He’s the one that originally said, “it’s not good that man should be alone.

2 – You are not equipped to do technical repairs.  Back in the day, a few hits to the side of my TV did the job.  That doesn’t work for my flatscreen. It seems like every new car that is produces has more and more computer technology, thus, making repairs takes specialized tools…most of which, excludes hammers.
MARRIAGE TIP: Sometimes the problem isn’t really a problem.  It’s a symptom of a larger issue. I’ve heard people say to me, “I took care of the problem.” What I hear: “I fixed the momentary problem without bringing any change to my lifestyle or habits.”  It’s a hammer mindset. Pier under the surface.  If you are dealing with similar issues all the time, I venture to say that you are spending too much time on one symptom of a bigger problem. I think of 1 Samuel 16:7.  We look at the outward.  God looks deeper.  So should we. 

3 – You are not equipped to do delicate repair.  Small, fragile objects, cannot be fixed with the swing of the hammer. You need tools that are sensitive and/or work with your sensitivity. I think of when I needed to fix the wiring of Anne’s hair straightener, I never once grabbed my sledgehammer.
MARRIAGE TIP: Have you seen it from their side?  Slip out of your self-centered mindset and see it through their eyes.  Lay down your desires and be sensitive to their perspective.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count your spouse more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3.

4 –  You may not have the knowledge to know what tools to get. Some people say ignorance is bliss.  Tell that to a leak in a pipe or a weak spot in your roof.  You can choose ignorance if you want.  But it won’t fix itself.
MARRIAGE TIP: Stop saying “it’s his/her problem.” That mindset is cancerous. It’s always a “WE” problem.  If the two truly become one, then a problem for one is problem shared by the two.  Don’t approach by choosing ignorance. Better yet, don’t allow your spouse to be ignorant of the issue.  In fact, in Hosea 4:6, God says it was destroying his people.

5 – You may have no desire to get involved. You don’t have the time for it. Or…you have a fear of results and therefore, you don’t want to deal with it.
MARRIAGE TIP: Passion begets passion.  Lack of passion begets frustration.  You want frustration?  Show a lack of desire in your marriage. You want frustration in bed? Show a lack of desire your spouse. You want frustration with finances?   Show a lack of desire to deal with budgets.  You want frustration with communication? Show a lack of desire to be assertive (clearly communicating) and use active listening (hearing and stating what has just been said).   Get your passion back.  The only way I know how to do that is to discover my passion in God and he makes my joy full.   The byproduct of full joy: passion for my spouse. John 15:11-12

6 – Your spouse may never ask you to fix anything.  The driving force is fear.  Fear that it won’t be correctly handled. Your spouses’ response: I WILL find someone else who is equipped to fix it.
MARRIAGE TIP: This has nothing to do with marriage counseling!!! Get help if you need it!! What this is saying, if you choose to consistently mishandle your spouse, you will push them to someone who will.  You need be approachable.  You need to stop being reactionary. You can’t seed fear because of how you handle things.  The atmosphere of your home cannot be fear.  2 Timothy 1:7

You are not Thor.

hd-thor-jootix-504841

You cannot approach your marriage in a “hammer” manner expecting it to get healthier.  Know this, the Lord hasn’t abandoned you.  In fact, His Word is there as a help and guide toward health in your life and in marriage.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

I want you to be fully equipped.  Invite Christ into your marriage.  Invite His word to help “equip you.” Ask the Lord to help you with the tools necessary to build a strong, passionate, and God-glorifying marriage.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Ten Things I Hate About My Spouse

UW4A7335-14

If you were to ask your friends/family/coworkers to make a “TOP TEN” list for you, what type of list would they make? Would it be, “Ten Things I Hate About My Spouse”?  Or would it be “Ten Things I Love About My Spouse”?

I almost borrowed the title of the 1999 teen romance film, “Then Things I Hate About You.” But I didn’t want to make you think we were just turning this blog into a movie review for lame movies from our past.

Between recent blog-posts and a pre-marital counseling appointment, one theme has been constantly staring at me in the face: Marriage Edification.  Of my marriage blogger friends, this week must have highlighted a theme that either they organized (without telling me) OR the Holy Spirit was trying to speak something specific into marriages.

Even this morning, I went through my early morning routine of waking up and immediately checking my twitter feed. There were more edification blogs. I did a quick count of 3 edification blogs in 12 hours that, specifically, was wives edifying their husbands.   With titles like: “Why I love my husband”, “Reasons I love my husband”, and “11 Reasons I love my sexy husband”, it seems everyone is on a similar page.

These wives were sharing things like:
– He laughs with me.
– He flirts with me in front of the kids
– He lets me wear his sweatshirts
– I trust him with my heart
– (my personal favorite) When I asked him to get rid of the “whitey-tighties,” he did.

Do you have a “Top Ten”?  Can you come up with 10? 

The question came: Have we stopped edifying our spouse?  How do I speak about my spouse?

A simple definition of edify is to build up.  One dictionary says to verbalize especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.

Maybe we can make it simpler: To uplift.

When we were courting our spouse, we were filled with words that caught the ear of the one we were in love with.  There were phrases spoken that unashamedly expressed feelings and sensations.  Even to friend and family around you, there was no mistake how you felt. Some of those words came out in a written letter.  Other times it was over the phone.  No matter the method, those days were times where your words could not be contained by silence.  Your date/fiancé knew exactly what you felt and why you felt that way.

Does he/she still feel edified?

Now a days, we don’t verbalize anything but criticism to our spouse.  They hear nothing but shortcomings and put downs.   Even worse, maybe all he/she gets from you is silence.

What about the people you talk/facebook/email to?  What do they hear you say about your spouse?  Is it words like, “can you believe HE did this?” and “you’ll never guess what SHE expected me to do.”

I’ll ask you the initial question we asked earlier in the blog: If you were to ask your friends/family/coworkers to make a “TOP TEN” list for you, what type of list would they make? Would it be, “Ten Things I Hate About My Spouse”?  Or would it be “Ten Things I Love About My Spouse”?

Where would their information come from?
– Your conversations with them
– They way you talk to your spouse in public
– Your body language when your spouse walks into the room
– They way you talk to your spouse in front of the kids

By our words and actions, would they have a stronger case for the “hate” list over the “love” list?

Hebrews 3:13 is what jumps out to me.  “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Do you hear the warning?  Encourage DAILY.  If you don’t, the results are painful.  Your marriage will be hardened.  Unfeeling. Deceived.  I understand the context of the passage was speaking, generally, to all of God’s people.  I think it would be VERY appropriate to carry that principle into our marriage.  TRUTH: Choosing to not edify your spouse is asking for a hardened and callused marriage.

TRUTH: You cannot assume your spouse knows how you feel! They need to hear it.  They need to see it.  Then take it a step further: edify your spouse to the people around you.  It will accomplish four things:

  1. Pleases the heart of God. 
  2. Rekindles your passion by uplifting the one you have become one with.
  3. It will get back to your spouse and, thus, rekindle their passion.
  4. Leaves no room for the enemy to fill the need for edification by anyone else.

Take some time to make a “top ten” list.  Share it over dinner.  Share it on a date (unless you’re in a theater then wait till after).  Even better, share it in bed.  It’s great pillow talk.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Overwhelmed from a morning @kalamazoofirst

Greater Than 16x9

Overwhelmed.

It’s the only word I can use to describe what I feel.

Overwhelmed.

I walked into my office almost an hour earlier than the office opened, determined to spend some time alone in prayer.  The temperature caught me off guard.  It was 54 degrees. Walking over to my heater, I  noticed the pile of “Greater Than” cards that were turned in from yesterday’s gathering.  After some time in the Word, I piled them up and carried the down to the prayer room not anticipating what would transpire.

Overwhelmed.

IMG_3316

I carefully set them down and put Pandora on my iPhone.  I’ll tell you the song that came on first. It was “The Stand” by Hillsong (Heres the link if you need to hear it:

.)

The lyrics began…”So what can I say/What can I do/But offer this heart O God/Completely to You.” 

I began to read each card.  I began to pray card…by card…by card…

Overwhelmed.

I don’t think it was three or four cards into the pile where I found myself with streams of tear mixed into my prayers.  It was as if my emotions were out of control yet there wasn’t a sense of chaos.  I tried to find a word to describe what was exploding in my spirit.

One by one, I read each card out loud.  One by one, each statement, on each card had a profound impact on me. Like weights added to a scale causing one side to lower and the other side to rise. I was thinking of the sound of my high school weight room when 45 lb. weights were being added onto the bar. I hear the sound of the bare metal hitting metal. Clang.  Each statement. Clang.

> than fear…Clang

> than loneliness…Clang

> than lust…Clang

> than my illness…Clang

I questioned what I was feeling.  Was I carrying the burden of the congregation?  Was I hurting for people?  I guess there’s a level of that sensation that I always carry.  But this was different.  This was not weight being placed upon me.  It was the amount faith pouring out of these words of desperation like water releasing from a balloon that was filled beyond capacity.  It was as if I could hear the cry of hearts speaking out of faith, “MY GOD IS GREATER THAN…!”

The scale metaphor came back to me.

justice-scales

That overwhelming feeling had nothing to do with the side of the scale that was being weighed down.  It was the other side rising up. In my mind’s eye, the faith of our congregation was far-outweighing anything that was stacked against them.

I’m overwhelmed with excitement for 2013.  I’m overwhelmed with anticipation for the way this series is going to flow.  I’m overwhelmed with the faith of Kfirst.

Overwhelmed.

Thanks for letting me ramble…