Want to sabotage your marriage? I can help!!!

If there’s any one subject I’m very passionate about outside of Christ and pastoring, it’s Marriage. Luckily, marriage is a big part of my pastoring. As far as topics, it’s the one that I read about the most. I won’t go to the place where I will proclaim to be an expert or a “know-it-all” on the subject. But the Lord has given me a drive for knowledge and wisdom about issues that cause marital health decay. I am determined to see our families grow strong. I’m determined to see our children trained in the way they should go. I believe the way to do that is through healthy marriages.

Marriage is an institution established by the Lord. The design of man and woman in their unity reflect the beauty and complexity of the One that created humanity in His image. Your marriage is not a life of two but one. The oneness must remain healthy. BUT…You can’t expect your marriage to grow merely by circumstance and chance. You must be intentional.

If you are not intentional about heath…you’re being intentional about death. Some people are bent on ignoring issues because they don’t want to make waves. I’ll give ya a TRUTH: Ignoring a problem is like giving it steroids. Deal with marriage problems quickly, before they become monsters.

I like how The Message speaks about marriage. “ Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out…” I know the context of the section in 1 Corinthians 7 is about sex. But the statement goes far beyond the bed. It’s about laying down our pride and selfish desire and serving for the health of the “oneness.”

Perhaps you don’t believe me. So I’ll approach it from the opposite side of health. If you’re looking for ways to absolutely blow up your marriage? I’ve got some foolproof tactics that will help.

#1 – Refuse to grow
Refuse change. Just because businesses that don’t embrace usually go in to bankruptcy…Just because churches that don’t embrace change go into irrelevancy…doesn’t mean that will happen to your marriage. WRONG! Marriage NOTE: Every husband and wife need to be determined that they will pursue personal, spiritual, and marital growth. Every season of life will hand another level of circumstances that will necessitate continual growth. If not…you are sabotaging your marriage.

#2 – Keep Quiet
Talk to your friends and coworkers about your spouse and not to them because doing so will be awkward! Even better, using the silent treatment is really an amazing weapon when it comes to refusing to communicate. Never mind that’s how the kids in the nursery deal with each other. Marriage NOTE: Work on your words, tones, mannerisms, and timing and learn to open the barriers and talk.

#3 – Expect your spouse to possess mind reading abilities
Just expect your spouse to know what you are thinking. Remember: You shouldn’t have to ask…your spouse should just know! You could give a hint. But if your spouse loves you, he/she will by osmosis know everything that you know. Marriage NOTE: At this point I’d go into a cliché about the word “assume” but that may not be appropriate.

#4 – Turn off your hearing aid.
Refuse to be a listener. Especially during conflict, interrupt your spouse to immediately correct them. Then quickly trying your best to make a stronger point always helps tear a relationship to pieces! Marriage NOTE: Your spouse wants to hear you…BUT he/she wants to know that they have been, not heard, but listened to. Find a connection to what they are saying as well as what they are feeling.

#5 – Spousal Pessimism
(a term I got from Perry Noble) Always assume the absolute worst about your spouse. As soon as you hear (or even think about) something negative about my spouse it is absolutely essential to carry that thought to its fullest illogical conclusion. Don’t EVER ask for an explanation or clarification. If you do, you may spawn some open communication will lead to a stronger marriage! Marriage NOTE: Please sense the sarcasm

#6 –It’s not worth winning if you can’t win big
(Okay, that line came from the “Mighty Ducks”)Win at all costs. Remember: the goal is to win…not to actually bring resolution. If you realize you’re wrong about something, don’t drop your pride. It’ll invite a barrage of accusations that actually have nothing to do with what the original argument/discussion had to do with in the first place! Win at all costs, even if it means saying things that hurt and wound deeply. Remember, it’s not you that’s hurt…wait…what about that oneness thing? That’s right. When one is hurt, both hurt.

#7 – Friends don’t make good lovers
You cannot see your spouse and you as being on the same team if you want a great marriage. After all, don’t opposites attract? Doesn’t more fighting make for a stronger marriage? Make sure you view everything as some sort of game and make it a goal to COMPETE with your spouse and not actually COMPLETE them. Marriage NOTE: Make sure that the only sex you’re having isn’t always “make-up sex.” Make-up sex has one level. Strive to deepen your friendship and I promise it will take the sex to whole level than “make-up sex” could ever do.

#8 – Point the finger
If there’s anything you communicate, make sure it’s ALWAYS about how much they are “not meeting your needs” and how they need to “step up and do better” as often as possible. By all means do NOT take a look at yourself and what you could do to improve the marriage. Everything MUST be blamed on them and you’ve got to see yourself as flawless and perfect. After all, they are the one with inadequacies and shortcomings….wait, if they constantly make bad decisions, what does that say about their decision to marry you? hmmmm

#9 – Be dull
Step away from anything fun. Dating was done when you said “I do.” You have your friends and your spouse needs theirs. Don’t have mutual friends…and for the sake of sanity you don’t want to be connected to other couples. Don’t do anything fun as a family. If you have to go out together, spend as much time on your smart phone (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) because communication with your spouse will do nothing except make your marriage stronger. (That one hurt to type…I, possibly, might be guilty of that one.)

#10 – Stop laughing
Take everything serious. No smiles. No warmth. I know that laugher tends to break the tension. Do I really want my spouse to see things in me that remind them of our dating relationship? Isn’t it better to keep the marriage on edge? Isn’t life too serious to lighten it up and live? (sorry…I’m laughing just typing that)

I hope the list brings a few smiles and, at the same time, causes a bit of introspection. Marriage is hard work. Two broken, imperfect people come together to form a union, covenant, and a life. If you expect to get healthy as a marriage, you BOTH have to be intentional about your decisions to keep it healthy.

rejoice in the “spouse” of your youth”

Have fun.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

“Are you good at counting?”

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

I swear it’s part of my DNA. I didn’t ask  for it. I was addicted to it. I also know it’s not just me. You might be guilty of it too.  You may still do it. Counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

Believe me, I should be the last one talking about mathematics.  Ask Cammi. As an eighth grader, I think she’s surpassed my mathematical abilities. I’m both proud of her and embarrassed that I can’t remember my algebra.

But that’s not the counting I’m talking about.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

Like an umpire in baseball uses a “Ball Strike Counter,” we have a tendency to count every strike, every offense, every hurt..

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

We’ll say we forgive…but we don’t stop counting.  We’ll say we’ve let it go…but we don’t stop counting.  We profess to be Christ-followers…but we don’t stop counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

N.T. Wright says it best, “If you’re still counting how many times you’ve forgiven someone, you’re not really forgiving them at all, but simply postponing revenge.”  We feel it’s our right. We feel it’s our duty.  What we are really doing is stockpiling emotional weapons and ammunition like we are some form of “offense militia.”  We  thank the Lord for His forgiveness for our sins…but we keep counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

I don’t proclaim this as in easy issue. I’ve been hurt before.  I’ve been fractured by leaders.  I’ve been betrayed by friends.  My dreams have been stomped on by people I had respected.  I forgave…but I started counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

Around 2003, something changed.  I stopped counting.

1…

My ability to count ended because I caught some perspective.  Not mine.  My perspective is limited to what I know and see.  Many times it becomes my reality.  This revelation came from Romans 4. It says in The Message: “….the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score.” I thought I was good at forgiving people.  I probably boasted about my ability to forgive. Yet I still kept score.  My counting came to a crashing halt when I began to comprehend how often I act out in my emotions…how often I crossed the line with my anger…how often I trusted myself instead of the Lord.

Daily. Weekly

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

YET “….the one who trusts God…without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score.”

If Lord keeps score, he’s not forgiving. He postponing revenge.  “Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.” He forgives. He stops counting.  How can I keep counting?  How can I stockpile offenses? “If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped.”

How often have you needed forgiveness?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

Today is your first step on a new journey of healing. Yes it is a journey.  It’s an every day decision. Let offenses go the way Christ let your offenses go. Trust Him. Lean on Him.  Stop hoarding the hurt.  Stop holding on.

Stop counting.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

“Snoring can cause all sorts of marital trauma.”

Disclaimer: The title has nothing to do with Anne or myself as neither one of us snore.

Now that I’ve defused that potential bomb.

The title is a quote that came up on my twitter feed yesterday and made me both laugh and think a bit deeper about a subject that most people enjoy…

Sleep.

My affinity for the show M*A*S*H has me very familiar with the term “trauma.” In most episodes, the show depicts doctors assessing trauma during triage. Triage, simply said, is the process of determining the priority of patients’ based on the severity of their trauma. Today is a day to do a bit of “triage” to determine if we have caused undue trauma to our lives based upon our lack of proper rest. Trauma defined is:

  1. A deeply distressing or disturbing experience
  2. Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis
  3. Physical injury

Looking back at the original tweet, I might reword it. I would say, “Losing rest will cause all sorts of trauma.” Without rest, you, your family, your walk with God, are all susceptible to trauma (distress, shock, and injury). Marriages go through trauma because couples have no rest as individuals and, perhaps more importantly, have rest as a couple. People suffer trauma because their mindset says rest = laziness or weakness.

In my opinion (which I believe is in alignment with the Lord’s opinion) the subject of rest is completely underestimated and overlooked. We forget, rest was a part of creation.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Gen. 2:2-3

Rest (coupled with worship) was so vital, God put it in the ten commandments, right along with don’t murder or commit adultery. In fact, a closer look at scripture shows God spent more time (96 words!) on the importance of obeying his command to REST than on any of the other 10 Commandments! For a workaholic like me…that’s hard to wrap my mind around.

We live in a culture which has fooled us into believing that excess is better and busyness is a virtue. We brag about being able to multitask so that more can be accomplished. Far too many people in our world experience spiritual, emotional, and physical trauma because they are overcommitted and fatigued. Hall of Fame NFL coach Vince Lombardi said it best, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

I don’t believe that God wants us to be one step from a nervous breakdown, always on the edge of exhaustion. What I see is a lack of rest is really lack of trust. Maybe we think if we lay down or have down time, things will fall apart because EVERYTHING in life hinges upon US.

The ten commandments tell us to share in God’s rest; to rest ourselves in honor of His perfect creation and His absolute control. Genesis 2, God rests because nothing more needs to be done. We rest because we honor a God who has finished all of it. If He rests, so can we. His control guarantees that the world will not fly apart if we take a day off. In other words, resting, I acknowledge my trust in His control. Rest is more than a mental construct. Rest is a behavioral, practical, visible sign that I trust Him.

If our frenzied lives cannot set aside for rest, what does that say about our trust in the one we claim to worship? Does it mean that we still subtly need to take charge? Does it mean that we dishonor Christ when we think we and our activities are so important that we cannot rest? And what does it say about a religious attitude that ignores this visible sign of trust in God? What does it say to the world when we cannot let go for fear that something won’t get done? Does that reveal the kingdom of God or the kingdom of us?

What’s the answer? There are no easy formulas for success, but there are some suggestions that I want you to think about today:

1. Cut back and do less. Some trauma is so self-inflicted. If this means making less money, cutting back on your social obligations, or even taking a night off from activities, then do whatever it takes to not be so overcommitted and fatigued. I once was told, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

2. Take naps.

Thomas Edison napping in his lab

Dad taught me the art of the “power nap.” Ask Anne, between work and an evening activity, I’ll pop my ear buds in and take a 10-15 minute nap to rejuvenate me for the night’s events. In fact, do some research and you’ll find that there are historical figures that perfected a life of napping (see above pic). A friend of mine posted a fascinating article by Michael Hyatt on 5 reasons you should nap.

3. Personal Rest. This is different from sleep. If I was preaching I would say TRUTH: Rest should be a nonnegotiable time in everyone’s life. When we rest we get a proper perspective on our life. When we rest we can reflect on what has taken place in our life during the week. Don’t cause undo trauma because you haven’t taken care of yourself. Does your life have control of you, or do you have control of your life? Rest and reflection will help you answer that important question.

4. Marital Rest. You and your spouse NEED a break away from the kids and life. Go on a date. Go for a walk. Meet for coffee. Anne and I for a number of years would put the kids to bed at 8 and sit in bed and watch shows together. We protected that time together. I have counseled far too many couples that struggle with marital trauma at 20+ years of marriage not knowing the person they married. You need frequent rest times together!!! Like #3, this is a nonnegotiable in everyone’s marriage.

I believe that “rest” is stewardship over this life that is a gift from the Lord. We take care of ourselves by resting and I believe that rest is honoring the Lord. It shows a trust in Him.

That’s all I have for today. Get some rest. Show the Lord you trust him by releasing yourself from business. Like me, maybe you need to repent from not properly resting.

Psalm 116:7 I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings…”

Thanks for letting me ramble…

“Get some espresso and wake up.”

Cammi and Ethan

About Midnight, I was finally ready to go to sleep.

Then it happened. (dramatic pause)

An event that is all too familiar for parents. From the moment our children are born, an event takes place, frequently, that will interrupt sleep and delay your planned slumber for at least 20 minutes wondering if “the event” will happen again. It’s called: the bad dream.

Ethan came running into the room. It was apparent that he was not yet awake. He just kept saying, “Dad, help me…I’m gonna steal.” I’ll admit, I was a little confused. My reaction: I started laughing. He as babbling mostly unintelligible words and rubbing his eyes. I walked him back down to his room and laid him in his bed, yes, still mumbling about how he was going to steal. Some bad dream woke him up and sent him running to the safest place he knew. He has a definite fear of them. In fact, when we pray, he has me pray EVERY night for “no dreams.” I don’t know what’s on his mind that causes his dreams but he would rather not dream at all than, in his mind, risk a possible nightmare.

Cammi is a bit different. The battle in her mind takes place before she sleeps. For almost 13 years, she has been known to get out of bed before falling asleep complaining about “bad thoughts.” She is much like her dad. In the stillness of the night, her mind begins to ponder things lost in the business of the day. The mind gets consumed. The mind takes her places.

Both children prove an amazing point: The Mind is a powerful thing.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (NLT) When I look at a parallel bible, every translation says “Guard your heart…” I looked up the meaning of this word and it says “inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding. To get some deeper understanding of the context, the Hebrew way of thinking says that the heart was not the seat of emotion. The seat of emotion was your intestines or in the KJV “bowels.” (That will make for weird Valentines cards.) It seems to me that this scripture is, more so, charging us to guard that part of us we carrying our will, fortitude, and understanding. We are to guard, protect, and watch over our minds. This is consistent with the translation of the word “repentance” when Paul uses it in Romans. Paul uses a word that we associate with our heart (giving our heart to Jesus, pouring out our heart to the Lord, etc). The word is really associated with our mind. It means, literally, to think differently afterwords. When we repent, we are asking for a change of, not our hearts, but our thinking. God knows that IF a person truly believes differently, then he will feel differently and then he will behave differently.

We are to protect that which, according to Proverbs 4:23, “determines the course of your life.”

For example:

My interpretation impacts my reaction – It’s not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it. That is tough for me. The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter. I can view everything as an obstacle or an opportunity for growth. I can stay being a victim or a victor.

My beliefs impact my conduct – We always act according to our beliefs, even when those ideas are false. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are operating on true information! Your convictions about yourself, about life, and about God influence your conduct.

My self-criticism influences my self-esteem – (This may be my biggest battle) We constantly talk to ourselves. Do you run yourself down with your self-talk? Or, in an effort to feel better about what you think, do you tear down others! Stop doing that: “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

I know what my kids watch, read, or listen to affect what they think AND what they dream. It will determine their course…and their sleep.

It’s time to wake up!!!

Guard your mind! Get control of it!!!

Get the Word inside of ya.

Get your minds on the Lord’s perspective.

Why? If you believe different, you will feel different, and you will behave different. And when do you that, you will “determine the course of your life.” If you find yourself confused…if you find yourself with bad thoughts…if you find yourself with no vision…if you find yourself with “bad dreams”…

Follow Ethan’s lead.

Run to the safest place you know. Proverbs 18:10

(In case you needed some inspiration for waking up…my new favorite band All Sons and Daughters)

That’s all I have for today.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Like a boss

These three words haunt my home.

“…like a boss”

Why? Because my 9-year-old son attaches these words to everything he does.

  • “I just played Minecraft…like a boss”
  • “I just dominated dad in Halo…like a boss”
  • “I’m gonna go shoot my BB gun…like a boss”
  • (after shooting a target) “you see that dad…like a boss”
  • He now tweets #likeaboss @ethanbarringer

I’m sure he’d stop saying it if I would simply stop laughing every time he says it. It’s entertaining to me.  It’s annoying to both his mom and sister.  But this morning, “like a boss” got me thinking about one word: authority.

We live out daily that which has authority over our lives.  Our demeanor, attitudes, habits etc. all make “bullhorn” statements about who, or what, has the most influence in our lives.  Every day is a decision.  Joshua 24:15 challenges Israel, “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve.”  I used to approach that as a one-time choice to live a journey of following the Lord.  It’s as if once the choice was made and, because of the one choice, everything just falls into place. Even though I made that decision so long ago, I’ve come to the realization that the longer I follow Christ I realize it’s not a once time choice.  It is a daily choice.  And daily I live out a life that reveals His authority.

TODAY I chose to trust Jesus with everything.

TODAY I chose to live out Jesus everywhere.

TODAY I choose to surrender “with all that is within me (Ps. 103:1)” entirely.

Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

Cast off comes from two Greek words

  • apo meaning “from”
  • tithemi meaning “to put in place”.
  • Literally, the word means to remove from its place.

We are challenged to WAKE UP! The day is at hand. The night is gone.  Get up and throw off those old works and connections to the darkness that infected you.  They were once statements of declared authority. Get rid of them.

It is obvious when I have cut the grass.  I am dirty.  I am sweaty. I am covered in dust. My shoes are filled with clippings, and, according to Anne, I stink. Everything about me, including my smell, screams “Dave just cut the grass.” Once I shower, I don’t put the “grass cutting” clothes on. I put them away (sometimes I miss the hamper). I’m clean and I don’t want my connection to those filthy garments on me anymore.

Just like putting on clean clothes after a shower.  Put away that which has been soiled and infected.  In Christ you are now healed.  Now you are clean.  Those old authorities carry a disease that want to take you down.  As the Greek word says, remove them from their place….CAST THEM OFF!!!! Do it now, today, for yourself.  Put on something new and alive.  Put on Christ. Throw off the old dead stuff and get going.  It’s up to you!

As a teenager, I lived for a number of years thinking I could choose Jesus as my authority while not living it out.  It turned out to be simple “lip service.” I wasn’t living out what my words were saying. What will you choose to do with those “things” that want to approach you “like a boss”? God can cast away your guilt.  In fact, He is the only one who can do that.  You must determine what to do with the things that wrestle for your every attention.  They want back in.  They are hungry for authority.  You are entirely free to let them go since they no longer hold you with the power of shame and guilt.  But the decision is yours.

You are not a child who needs to be dressed and undressed.

You are a citizen of the Kingdom.

You have the authority and the power in Christ of removing what once held you captive.

God has opened the jail door but YOU must walk out.

Approach today different.  Today is the day, a new day to choose Christ.  Today is the day let Jesus in your life…like a boss.

Thanks for letting me ramble…like a boss.

Let the rambling begin!

If you’ve stumbled upon my blog…congrats.  You’re the first to find that which has not gone public.

I’m not sure who will read this…

I’m not sure who will connect…

Even as I type, a quote from The Matrix enters my mind

“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world.. without you. A world without rules or controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”

I’m not sure where this blog will go…

…But this is where it begins

It begins with simple ramblings of a simple man…

…a husband blessed beyond measure

…a confused parent still trying to figure out how his children grew up so fast.

…a pastor in love with his calling

And I hope that with a few strokes of the keyboard, in some way, shape, or form, to radiate the beauty of trusting Christ.  It’s “a world where anything is possible.”

I’m excited about this journey with you.

I’m excited to highlight what is taking place at KFirst.

I’m excited to journal my simple thoughts.

I’m excited to know if people other than my wife will read this

Thanks for letting me ramble…