Why so Serious? 3 Ways to Invest Laughter in Your Marriage

My wife I and love to laugh (even as I type that, I almost see it as an understatement). It’s one of our two essential elements of a healthy marriage.

  1. Jesus. Gives us a foundation and structure to build with.
  2. Laughter. Gives us a healthy connection and a filter to process life.

Anne and I laugh with each other. And if we’re being really honest, we often laugh at each other. I’m not talking about mocking or ridiculing. But we laugh at the random “moments” that we find stinking hilarious.

For example, my clumsiness. Of all of the things I trip over or run into, nobody hits their elbow more than me on doorways and doorknobs. When that happens it’s followed by Anne saying, “Why can’t you just walk through a door like a normal person?” Don’t let her fool you, Anne has her “moments” like we all do.

Our investment in this part of our marriage began back in 1995 when we started dating. I really can’t remember every date over the span of 3 years, but I do remember us laughing together. This simple aspect of our marriage is, perhaps, one of the most overlooked and/or underestimated facet of marriage.

I truly believe that couples that stop laughing with each other (or having fun together) lose an essential component that paves the way for health in other areas of their marriage.  When I meet with couples, I often ask about how much “fun” they have. It’s not that I’m ignoring the troubles they’re having. I’m not immune to the frustration they’ve experienced. But this fundamental element, if ignored, makes traversing through the issues at hand 10-times more difficult.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, when the broken bleeding man was found by the Samaritan, he helped his wounds by “pouring on oil and wine.” Wine was necessary as it was the antiseptic. But don’t overlook the oil. It was the soothing agent to help with the pain. It proceeded the wine and paved the way for the antiseptic to be received.

If I can get a couple to enjoy each other more, two things happen, First, they are more apt to work together. You tend to want to work with people you like. Second, a lightened heart has more room for hope. And the more hope you contain, the more drive you have.

Mental health writer and activist Therese Borchard writes about how humor is a powerful healing agent. Some of health benefits packed in laughter include:

  • Decreases pain.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Reduces stress.
  • Helps the heart.
  • Burns calories.

I’ve had a few “not-so-laughy” people combat me on this issue. As a pastor, I think laughter is not just fundamental to a healthy marriage but essential to a healthy church. I’ve been told “life is serious” and “the gospel is not a joking matter.” Well, I don’t joke “about” the gospel and I am serious about life. How do you know I’m serious about life? I love my wife and my congregation enough to make sure that we embrace the fullness of Christ and that includes deeper depths of joy.

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11

It’s only important if you see it as important.
You’ve got to want this!! Fun rarely happens by accident and, if it isn’t on your radar, it will rarely make your calendar.  Just like changing your dieting habits, you can’t expect a turnaround in one week if you’ve been living a certain way for 20 years. Get a good perspective that as much as bad habits are hard to break, developing good habits can be harder still.

Turn the frown upside down. 
As much as I dislike the cliché, there’s a deeper truth to it. Nobody can make you smile. Nobody can make you have fun. There must be a motive in your heart to want to see the “smile” in your marriage turned right-side up. A heart intended to experience joy has a greater capacity to…

  • See joyful opportunities.
  • Be more positive.
  • Overlook offenses.
  • Lighten atmospheres.

Laughter in cold blood. 
I recognize that the metaphor sounds intense, but there’s a greater truth to be understood. The term, “in cold blood” doesn’t mean “in the heat of passion,” but “in a calculated, deliberate manner.” I guess you could have fun by accident, but what if you and your spouse were approached laughter and fun in a calculated, deliberate way?

  • Get consistent date nights.
  • If you find something funny, send it/tell it to your spouse.
  • Find what brings a smile to your spouse and do “that.”
    • Note: I find, when I bring a smile to my spouse, it brings a smile to my face and heart.
  • Find new things for the both of you to experience some fun.

Laughter is an investment in your marital health. It is the soothing oil that can help pave the way for deeper issues to be exposed and dealt with. The more you pour in and the more time you give it, will pay off tremendous health dividends in your marriage. I know you’ve got “stuff” your marriage needs to work on. But I submit to you: Regain the ability to laugh.  Learn (or relearn) how to “like” each other again by doing something fun. And as your heart get’s “lighter,” pride, anger, and fear grows weaker. And the more I learn to facilitate joy, the more I understand the words of Nehemiah,

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage Effort.
Celebrate Progress.
Feed Hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

A Marginal Marriage: 7 Margins to Put in Your Marriage

I’m a fan of movies. I like suspenseful movies that bring me into their world with great effects and story lines. But if there’s a type of scene that gets my anxiety up, it’s a scene of someone who is on the verge of drowning. Watching someone working with limited space to breathe, hoping for a miracle, gets my heart racing and makes me a bit uncomfortable.  Perhaps it’s a phobia I have deep down. Or perhaps, it’s all too descriptive for how I feel when I push my limits, on every level (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional) to the extreme leaving no breathing room.

Are you in that place where the pace you’re living doesn’t give you space to breathe? Maybe, just maybe, the reason why some of the frustration you’re experiencing has NOTHING to do with the issues you’re fighting about. Perhaps the irritability you are experiencing is resulting from the little to no margin built into your life to help your marriage breathe.

God designed your marriage to be the place where the “two become one.” And that “one” needs space to breathe. Because without breathe, there is not life. So for the sake of your personal sanity and your marital sanity, you need to build in that margin (breathing space).

Margin begins with a change of “ownership.”

Love Paul’s word to the church in Corinth,

Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.1 Corinthians 6:20 (MSG)

If you have “margin” issues, you have an ownership problem. If you are looking at life from the view of an owner, life will be run in accordance to your personal feelings and limited/finite perspective.  BUT, if you see everything you have (including yourself) as belonging to the Lord, then you see yourself as a steward. And, when you handle something that doesn’t belong to you, your response has a different approach. Stewardship is about managing not owning. Therefore, you respond to what you have through the wishes of the Owner. An intentionally rundown life and marriage doesn’t glorify God; a margin-filled, healthy lives and marriages do.

Without margin, you find yourselves, not really fighting each other, but fighting to catch your breath. You begin to respond, not necessarily to the issue but from a place of “oxygen depletion.  I wonder if some of your conflicts looks like a fight but, they’re really two people fighting to get a fresh breath in their marital lungs.

Be Strategic About Margin.

I propose to look at your schedule and begin to take some intentional steps toward change. Ask yourself if you have any margin built-in. I submit that every couple should strive to build…

Margins for Expectation.
Anne and I have a standing 15 minute appointment on Sunday evenings. Most of the time we’ll take a walk and have the talk will we’re strolling through the neighborhood. If not, we’ll sit on the bed and have the conversation. The substance of the talk is simply about the forecast of the week’s schedule.  It puts us on the same page for the next 7 days. Usually, we’ll reconnect mid-week for another walk/talk just to see if anything has changed. Remember: Disappointment is the gap between expectation and experience. Do you best to close the gap. Which leads to #2…

Margins for Connection.
From dates with your spouse to time with the children, establishing a margin of connection helps it helps a family stay healthy. Passion is kindled by connection. And far too many people lose out on the passion simply because they lost connection. Anne and I are not legalistic about the exact times, but we use our Sunday night talks to make sure we keep our connection to each other and our children a very high priority. You want to breathe life into your fam, build a margin of connection points into your lives.

Margins of Deepening
So many couples are running on empty. You are wanting to draw some breath but nothing is breathing into you. There has to be intentional actions/habits that facilitate a deeper walk with Christ.  This will look different for everyone. The goal isn’t to go into a method that isn’t a fit. The goal is to take the simple (not easy) principles of Word, worship, and prayer and put the priority of developing strategic margins to deepen your relationship with Christ. Remember: The greater the passion you have for God will pour out in your marriage. You give out of what you receive (which I think is freaking cool).

Margins for Grace.
Do you have enough space in your marriage for people to make mistakes or is there a demand for perfection? I’m not talking about turning a blind eye to sin, but developing the heart of Christ regarding the imperfections we all possess. If your spouse has ANY fear of you finding out about ANY mistakes (even simple ones), then you may need to reevaluate how much margin you need to build in and communicate to your spouse. Constrained homes strangle life; Grace-filled homes breathe in forgiveness. 

Margins of Boredom
You don’t have to always have everything planned. Unplanned/open times are necessary.  Boredom or unplanned timeframes gives room for the you to relax and relinquish stress. It will stretch your creativity, not to mention, stills you better hear direction from the Lord. You may find yourselves taking a walk together or reading a book in a quiet place. Sometimes when you slow down, you catch what really matters.

Margins of Rest
Closely related to boredom, rest brings a reset to your system. Like technology, sometimes a reset changes everything.Rest gives you a chance to recover. Couples who do not engage in proper restful activities, engage each other with exhausted minds and spirits. Getting proper sleep, manageable schedules, meaningful vacations, and the periodic naps are great for the both of you to enjoy and rest together. 

Margins for Serving
Schedules can get so crowded with busyness. What I find couples doing, is filling their schedules with good things. There’s nothing wrong with hard work, ballgames, home projects, and the like. The things of life can be very good. But “good” doesn’t equate to the “best.” I believe that “serving” falls into the category of “the best.” Too many fill up their lives, and if there is any time/moment left, they’ll offer a token effort. I think of so many notes I’ve received from couples who stepped out to serve together and discovered the true joy in serving. I’m not asking you to volunteer for 10 different ministries at church or in your community. But choose ONE. Build some margin for serving others and watch a fresh breath get breathed into your lives.

Don’t let the pace of the culture dictate the margin you have. In a world that demands your time and promotes a frantic routine of life, be willing to stand up against the current, put your head above the busyness, and take a breath. Then purposely and strategically, begin to build margin back into your marriage.

Give your lives a fresh breath. Get some margin.

I love you all. I’m praying for you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

A Prayerful Marriage: 6 Things that are Okay to Pray Over Your Marriage

I’ll give props to Cori, my neighbor down the street. On my weekly Wednesday prayer walk, I ask my Facebook friends to post their needs so I can specifically pray over them. Her request froze me in my tracks. It was so simple, and yet, specific. Cori’s child was heading off with other 5th graders to a weekend camp. She asked for prayers for the 5th graders to have “insane amounts of fun.”

I literally stopped my walk for a moment and thought to myself, “why don’t we pray for that more often for our marriages?” The next thought, “what other prayers do we disregard?”

I had heard a quote sometime ago (and for the life of me, I cannot remember who said it):

Prayer is the easiest thing we never do.

I think a lot of that mindset seems to have to do with the understanding of the necessity of a prayer life. If you understand how important communication is to your marriage, you can begin to grasp the need for a consistent prayer life. Prayer is simple and powerful. It is transformative both for you and your marriage. Yet, in my experiences working with marriages, I find couples don’t know how to pray. Most marriage prayers center around someone wanting God to change what they don’t like in their mate. Very few spouses pray about other things.

So today, I thought I’d give you a simplistic list of things that is okay to pray for in your marriage:

1 – “Help us to have insane amounts of fun.”
Cori hit the nail on the head. We need to see more fun in our marriage. Fun is more spiritual than you realize. God isn’t against pleasure; He is absolutely for it (the Garden of Eden is proof enough about that). When I talk about fun, I’m talking about striving to find those leisurely thing that feed the fun in marriage.  I’ve known couples to rotate on who choses the date nights so the “fun” doesn’t always favor one person over the other. I’ve known others to consistently plan evenings around those things that both enjoy doing.

2 – “Give me an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”
When we start praying to have a more grateful heart, the Lord will open up our eyes to help us to see the blessings around us. It seems everything about our culture wants to seed dissatisfaction with what we have so that we can strive for something new. And I’m afraid that puts a false filter of disappointment over our lives. Step back and begin to see, not what your spouse lacks, but what he/she is gifted in. When you do, speak up and say something about it. Remember, silent gratitude is not gratitude at all.

3 – “Help us to laugh more.”
This is related to #1 but a bit different. Why? most people relegate “fun” to a moment. I believe “laughing” is a lifestyle. Anne and I don’t have much in common.

We love Jesus.
We are stubborn.
And we love to laugh.

Having that “merry heart” that Proverbs talks about becomes the catalyst for your attitude. It helps you to see things in perspective. You understand what is worth fighting about and you see what is worth laughing with your spouse about. Learn how to not take some things so serious and learn to laugh with (not at) your spouse.

4 – “Bless our marriage with a deep and lasting sex life.”
Of all of the needs that a human has, there is only one need that your spouse has been granted permission to be the ONLY one to meet. Sex was God’s idea. Sexual desire is God-given. Your sex organs were given to you, by God, to receive pleasure and give pleasure to your spouse. So suffice to say: If God gifted our marriage with sexuality, why don’t we make it a priority to pray for it? If both are praying for it, perhaps the Lord will bless our marriage with more desire, greater creativity, and a deeper sense of pleasure. Don’t let the world make what God has given into something dirty. Take what God has given and ask that it be blessed.

5 – “Help me to love when I don’t feel it.”
I don’t always act lovable; neither does Anne. But that’s where we take things and make them so overly emotional that the presence of feelings dictates our actions. Love is a state of our soul. And we act upon love because we know what love does (1 Corinthians 13). Actions don’t follow feelings. If that was the case, nothing would get done. Feelings follow actions. Be the spouse that prays for the humility to act in love without having to “feel” love.

6 – “Keep me humble.”

I’ve heard some dumb things about prayer. One of them being, “don’t pray for patience because God will give you something to be patient with.” This may seem harsh, but I find it stupid to think, first, that we think God doesn’t know we need it, and second, that asking Him for help is a bad thing.  I think we should request something deeper than patience. Humility is the place where we can see the complete Fruit of the Spirit grow in and through us. Humility is what lowers our pride and places within us a teachable/growing heart. Humility gives us the type of voice that needs to be heard while granting us ears to listen.

Do you have other “simple” prayers to add? Are these prayers anywhere on your radar? I hope so. Because as your prayers grow, so does your marriage. Make your next step today to set a daily reminder to pray blessings upon your spouse. Write some of these prayers down and get a few of your own. Follow that up with asking the Holy Spirit to work some change in you. As you pray, I believe God responds to your faith and He’ll do the work that you and I can never do on our own.

I love you all. I’m praying for you at this moment. Now go pray for your spouse.

Oh yeah…thanks Cori for the inspiration.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Our Kfirst Values: We keep it fun

I started a series a few weeks back about the values of our church community. Here at Kfirst, our mission is our passion:  We make it simple for people to find and follow Jesus. And our values guide us towards that goal.

Check out last weeks by clicking on the value statement:

Week 1 – Everyone is Significant.

Week 2 – We are Contributors

Week 3 – God Works in Community.

This week…We keep it fun.

We keep it fun

Many people struggle with the idea of “church” and “fun” being in the same sentence. If that’s you, it’s most likely because the word “fun” is defined as: a carefree activity with no purpose or meaning. It’s an activity strictly meant to amuse. (the scene from Gladiator comes to mind, “Are you no not entertained?”) 

Honestly, if that is your definition, then I would agree with you; Church shouldn’t be fun. The idea of being something just to amuse is so spectator and consumer driven instead of something participatory and engaging.

But…when I look up the word “fun,” the first word to come up is the word “enjoyable.” With that definition in mind, that I would wholeheartedly say, Church should abso-stinkin-lutely be fun. It doesn’t mean we discount and/or disregard God and his greatness. We don’t treat the presence of God flippantly.  But when encountering Jesus for the first time, I experienced joy like I’ve never known. As I worship, there is a passion that I find in Him. When I engage with the Holy Spirit, there is a joy that floods my soul. It gives me a glimpse of what Jesus was talking about in John 15 when he said, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

I can legitimately say, church should be fun.  Fun isn’t about something set up to be “attraction” like a circus (Enter “Field of Dreams” line, “if you build it, they will come”). But we should do our best to cultivate an atmosphere in the facility AND an attitude in our hearts that says, “I’m ready to enjoy the presence of God.” We should have full joy being in the presence of God together with our church community. We should walk in full joy when we interact and engage in our communities.  Even when we go through the hardest of times, Jesus told us we can be of “good cheer” because he is able to overcome. Think about this, in the Old Testament, when David was broken internally because of the disaster in his life, what did he pray for in Psalms 51? He wanted the JOY of his salvation back.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have Jesus. And because of that fact…

The Church should be the most joyful people on the planet.

Too many people think church is anything but fun. We’re into changing that. We want Kfirst to be a place where you can encounter Jesus and receive life change that only He can bring. We desire to see you enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit, that the passion you carry will show the world around you the greatness and goodness of our Savior.

Those who give everything to follow Christ, find everything. And laughter and joy (fun/enjoyment) are part of the ways that God blesses His people.

I love what Reggie Joyner says,

You can measure the temperature of a church by how much its people laugh.

We keep it fun.  But, to us, fun isn’t about entertainment for spectators. It’s about enjoying the presence of God as we participate together in worshiping Jesus and serving the world around us.

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,  “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalms 126:2-3)

 

Weekly Marriage Checklist – 8 Things EVERY Marriage Should Be Doing On a Weekly Basis

Today I wanted to get into an incredibly practical marriage blog.

My wife and I are list makers.  Even though we do our lists differently, it gives us both a sense of accomplishment to check them off. I use my phone (Asana).  She’s old school with pencil and paper.  But nevertheless, we want to look over our days and week and feel we got done what needs to get done. 

So today,  wanted to give you a simple checklist to help with some items, I believe, should be on your weekly radar. 

Every week, I believe EVERY couple should have…

  1.  A Weekly overview.
    • Anne and I have a standing appointment every Sunday night where we talk through our week.  It’s a simple touch to keep our communication and expectations on an appropriate level.  We talk through our personal schedules. We talk though family schedules. It’s here were we decide when dates, family connection, and downtime is needed.  It’s amazing how this little AND SIMPLE action can clear up what to expect and keep our communication healthy.
  2. A Worship Point.
    • Being a part of a church community TOGETHER is a huge foundational piece of marriage. Being together to worship, serve, and engage in your church will help build relationships necessary for your personal growth as well as marital growth. On top of that, your involvement in your church community can be a tremendous blessing to others. See yourself as a part of a greater body.  You are necessary to others and others are necessary to you. 
  3. A Date.
    • I think every couple can carve out of your week an hour or two. Do a meal, get some ice-cream, or go for a walk at a park. A date doesn’t have to have much (if any) cost.  Get out of your head that you need to do something extravagant (not that I’m against that) as a “date.” I’m speaking to time for the two of you to have that relational connection you need.  
  4. Alone Time. 
    • From hobbies to leisure time, having time to yourself is necessary.  Don’t get me wrong, I love time with Anne and she loves time with me. But it is healthy to have a few moments where there’s a bit of separation. Anne and I don’t watch all the same shows/movies.  We don’t enjoy all the same hobbies.  That doesn’t take away from our marriage.  It adds to it. 
  5. A Place(s) of Generosity. 
    • There is a true joy in being generous as a couple.  When you give out of your time, talents, and treasure, you foster the heart of God (of which you were made in the image of). For almost two decades, Anne and I are faithful givers to our local church. We give to missions and benevolence. But we also look for opportunities to bless those in our community.  Generosity will foster a depth of joy that so many people take for granted. 
  6. An Intimate Moment(s).
    • Sex and intimacy are not the same thing nor is Sex the source of intimacy. It should be seen as an expression of intimacy. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that healthy marriages have a consistent sex-life.  What the frequency looks like isn’t up to you the individual. It’s what has been agreed upon by both you and your spouse (prevents one libido from lording over the other). But remember: Intimacy doesn’t always include sex.  It is far deeper. It’s that intimate connection where you selflessly serving your spouse’s love language. Intimacy doesn’t have to fade in your marriage, it just looks different over time.  Find what your spouse’s love language is and look to serve it without strings attached (expectations of reciprocation). When you connect the heart of your spouse, that is intimacy. 
  7. Laughter/Fun. 
    • (This is a bit more than a scheduled event. It’s more of an element that’s needed.) Couples that schedule fun moments are far healthier on EVER level (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual).  Anne and I will watch clips on Youtube in the evenings. Sometimes we’ll send them to each other over Facebook messager.  Maybe you two like games and/or activities.  It could be movies or books.  Find what the other enjoys that fills your marriage with smiles.
  8. Heavy Encouragement.  
    • This should be a daily point instead of a weekly one. My rule I give couples all the time: Don’t let anyone out-encourage you when it comes to your spouse. For too often, people only speak up when they see something wrong.  Why do we build that culture in our marriages? Catch your spouse doing something right. From accomplishments to even just the simple effort to attempt something, find ways to fill your spouse full of encouragement. 

Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There’s probably some other things you can add to it specifically for your marriage. But, in my opinion, these are essentials that I don’t think couples can do without. 

Love Jesus passionately. 
Love your spouse passionately. 
Make both a heavy priority in your life. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Pastor Burnout Prevention: 6 Ideas to help you find rest.

(Please note: What you are about to read is more than a pastoral issue.  It plagues far too many homes so please read in the context of your vocation.)

Something has been burning in my heart a lot lately.  Between conversations with pastors and parishioners, and speaking on this subject yesterday at Northpoint Bible College, I felt the need to blog about something so essential that it’s being missed by our pastors…

…and that something is destroying their lives, marriages, families, and churches.

Rest.

I’ve been told that when you are thirsty, it’s a sign you are presently dehydrated. So, in essence, when you feel you need a drink, it’s not to prevent dehydration.  It’s because you are already at the place of depletion. For some reason, we treat rest the same way.  We don’t take it till we feel the “need” for it.  Perhaps it’s the same concept. Maybe, just maybe, the feeling of needing rest isn’t the sign our bodies are ready for it.  Perhaps it the sign it is already at the place of depletion.

Whenever I talk with pastors about it, I often hear them say, “Ha. Rest? What’s that?” It makes me cringe every time. We don’t model rest and it’s no wonder why we don’t see it in our congregations. Rest is seen as such a non-essential yet it’s becoming the slow death people don’t see coming.  I’ve heard leaders challenge pastors about “burning out for Jesus.”  I think (hope) they’re message is trying to challenge us to be passionate, innovative, and hard-working.  But I’ve seen burnt out pastors.  I’ve seen congregations burnt out from volunteering.   Ministry burn out doesn’t shine with the glory of God.  It illuminates the fading glow of our pride.  It leaves broken men/women, fractured marriages, wayward children, and unhealthy churches.

Ladies and gentlemen, something needs to change.

I believe EVERYTHING we receive from God we are called to be stewards of.  In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is dealing with the church on the issue of being a steward of our lives.  In the context of sexuality, he makes the statement, “for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” The message surpasses the context. You are a steward of the gift you have been given: your body/life.  Honor God with.  Please note: Using “rest” as an excuse to be lazy isn’t being a steward is just as egregious as burnout. If things are not getting done, either that’s lack of planning or you’ve taken on too much. Also, using “rest” as an excuse to procrastinate is manipulation. Be a better planner and organizer. Stewardship is about properly using a gift.  And squandering ministry with laziness or burning it out doesn’t honor God.

I even have mixed feelings about Sabbaticals.  I’m not against them.  But I often wonder: would the frequency of them and/or the length of them be needed if ministers knew how to rest properly?  And when they are taken, is time on them being wasted trying to rest because we were not a steward before them?

You need some margin built-in.  You need some rest. Pastors (and parishioners for that matter), I’ve got a few ideas for you to consider:

  1. Get a healthy inputs. Not saying you need to live off of quinoa and kale, but eating properly and getting appropriate sleep can go a long way. This was transformational for me and has aided me to better rest and recoup because I got healthier.  It’s not about being a certain size/shape.  It’s about inputting health into your life. My story of getting healthy can be read here.
  2. Get healthy activities.  You don’t need to be a runner. But you do need to get out of the office.  I start work early mornings and, frequently, have evening appointments.  It cannot be an excuse for not getting in some type of healthy activity.  Walk run, bike, or whatever.  Running has been the best time for me to pray as well as to get into some podcasts I really enjoy.   NOTE: Anne and I walk most evenings for a couple of miles.  It’s good exercise and we get to talk through our days/weeks.
  3. Date your spouse.  You wanna suck the fun out of your marriage, don’t date your spouse.  You’re not married to your ministry; you’re married to your spouse. And he/she shouldn’t feel like they’re second place to your ministry.  Anne and I, almost weekly, have a date.  It’s transformed us and brought us closer.
  4. Have fun…guilt free. I’ve met too many pastors and missionaries who feel guilty having fun/leisure.  First of all, we should be passionate about our calling and the place God has us (I have fun being a Lead Pastor). Secondly, we need to get out of our heads that fun is a waste of time or that fun isn’t a Godly thing to do (obviously there are ungodly activities).  Recover your joy by having fun and rediscovering the joy of ministry. PREACHING NOTE: Do you know why most  of your illustrations come from a book, it’s because you don’t have any fun and/or you take life too serious.  Lighten up and enjoy what God has given!
  5. Realize that the Kingdom solely doesn’t rise and fall upon your shoulders.  The church was here before you.  If it failed because you disengaged with it, then you are doing far too much. Delegate and empower leaders.  Mentor people.  Let go of frivolous ministries that are not productive. Pride is keeping you juggling. Humility releases the superfluous and embraces the necessary.  Build ministry that will outlast you and outshine your pride.
  6. Get a proper schedule. I understand busy seasons. For example, Christmas is pretty hectic in the ministry world. But it shouldn’t be an excuse to not strive to balance our schedules.  A little thing that I do is built into my schedule exercise, dates, family time, rest, etc. and title them appointments. Why? It protects me from my natural workaholic tendencies.  To leave things “open” is to leave them optional to get more “work” done with little to no regard for getting proper down time and recreation.

If you’ve burnt out, this blog isn’t written to guilt you.  It’s meant to steer you toward health. This article is the alarm clock to wake you up and realize that life does not have to be like this.

But…If you’re hearing “I miss you” from your spouse…your kids feel less of a priority than meetings…if you’ve lost your passion for your calling…

…then it’s time to get refreshed in the presence of Holy Spirit and invest in rest.

I believe in what Jesus has called you into.  I believe greater things are in store for you.  Marriages and families can be healed in Jesus’ name. Joy in ministry can be found.  Schedules can be fixed. Callings can be rediscovered.

It just takes a bit of humility and trust.  You are not your own.  Honor God.

…thanks for letting me ramble.

 

 

7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages: Part 3 No Fun

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Two weeks ago, we started a new series of seven blogs designed to recognize unhealthy habits. If you missed the last two weeks check out our first TWO Highly Defective Habits:

Habit #1: Spiritual Continuity.

Habit #2: The Single Life

Here we go…#3 on the list of my 7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages:

Defective Marriage

Habit #3: The Fun-less Couple

fun/fən/
nounenjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.
synonyms: enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, pleasure
adjectiveamusing, entertaining, or enjoyable.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing

For a while, whenever I read Ecclesiastes 3, my eyes went to the negative parts of the scripture.  (Maybe that reveals something about my psyche…that would explain a lot). Focus get’s drawn toward words like die, kill, break, weep, and mourn.  We can get so caught up in theses inevitable unfortunates.  Marriage is no different.  We too can get drawn into “inevitable unfortunates” and dwell on them as if to forfeit the other side of the coin. It’s time to get out of our marital pessimism.  It’s time to return to what we relished in our dating/courting.
Fun…times of enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.  It’s more than a noun (something to do). It should describe who you are (adjective).
Defective marriages struggle with a deficiency of fun.  We treat our marriage like a business transaction instead of a growing relationship that THRIVES on fun. Couples forget that fun isn’t optional for a growing marriage. It’s a vital time filled with, according to our writer a time of building up, laughing, dancing, and embracing (which is my favorite one).
A couple of years ago, we had an odd winter here in Michigan.  We hit temperatures in the 70’s to the 80’s.  In the Michiganders minds, this was the best winter.  It’s as if we skipped the season of winter.  The problem: it messed with our agriculture and was a tremendous burden for our farmers.  Our harvest wasn’t the same which affected our economy.  Skipping a season may feel okay in the moment, but it’s detrimental on so many deeper levels.
It may not seem like a huge deal, but I want you to know something:
“FUN” is a marital season that is not optional. Skipping the season of fun in your marriage is detrimental on so many deep levels.
Come together with your spouse and plan out some fun.  I’m not talking about what YOU think is fun.  Look into your spouses heart and position them for a great time.  What do you two like to do together?  What can you both do that will facilitate laughter, emotional intimacy, and stress-release?  What can you two try that may be new? Have you talked with other couples to see what they do (get some ideas from others)?
Know this: marriage wasn’t designed to be in a constant season of stale monotony.  It’s to reflect who God is.  God is life.  God is celebration.  God is a God of enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure. God is fun.
If our marriage is to reciprocate who He is, then our marriage, therefore, needs to have “fun.” Don’t just let it naturally happen. Be purposeful with your fun.  Be strategic in your busyness.  Be a fun spouse. I leave you with a great scripture out of the Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 12:7 (MSG) Celebrate everything that you and your families have accomplished under the blessing of God, your God.
Get off your butt and go have a time of enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure with your husband/wive…
Go have fun!
Thanks for letting me ramble…