“Just like the picture”: 4 Approaches to Developing the Uniqueness of Your Marriage

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14

As a pastor, I tend to visit the same places in my city. Admittingly, I’m a creature of habit but this goes deeper than that.

I visit the same coffeehouse every day. I go to the same chicken place on Wednesdays. I get my haircut at the same location by the same person every other week. Familiarity and frequency helps me to develop connection with people in the community. It helps me develop relationships and moves conversations past “weather talk” into deeper things (this would make a great blog idea for pastors).

Last week, I had a conversation with the young lady who cuts my hair. Amidst talking about her family and the salon she manages, a statement about she only likes to cut guy’s hair. When I enquired why that was, she talked about her frustration with ladies who are excited about an image clipped out of a magazine of a someone’s hair and demand that be done to them. More often than not, they’ll leave upset that the result doesn’t “look like the picture.” She says that people don’t get the number of components that are in play with the hair styles they covet.  The type of hair, shape of head, how well they take care of their hair, etc.

In other words, customers were demanding the picture perfect results but don’t account for the factors at play.

That conversation got me thinking about how that translates to marriage. Quite often, I meet couples who take for granted the UNIQUENESS of their marriage (heck, I still do it). We chase the picture of perfection that we see in someone else and want to get there without the hard work of dealing with the individual factors you both bring.  While we all understand that we married someone quite different from ourselves, we still get frustrated. But I’m afraid many assume your individual differences compound your marital problems instead of seeing how they add into the your uniqueness. Your perspective of how you perceive your differences changes the scope of your marital health.

I love what the Psalmist says,

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14

If we believe in the “oneness” of marriage, can we not look at our marriage in the same light as the Psalmist looked at individual lives? Your marriage is “wonderfully complex” and the “workmanship is marvelous.” And I wonder if the first step to embracing the wonderful complexity of marriage is to accept what makes you both distinct. Differences are a good thing; they’re not automatically an impairment. Just because our spouse and marriage are different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It means we have a unique marriage and bring unique individual qualities to the marriage.

Simply said: Stop trying to achieve an image. Build your marriage from the inside out.

Finding uniqueness means that marriage will never look “just like the picture” of some else’s marriage. Don’t cookie-cutter yourselves. You may seek health, but EVERY couple works with different factors that are peculiar to your marriage. Consider…

  • Your backgrounds.
  • Your personalities.
  • Your likes and dislikes.
  • Your skill-sets.

How do you develop the uniqueness of your marriage?

1. Look at the reality. No one is perfect, and therefore, there is no perfect marriage. So my recommendation is to stop seeing perfection in others and stop expecting it in your spouse and/or marriage. The only things to expect in yourself and your spouse is humility, teamwork, and growth. In my opinion, there are only two types of marriages: Those who work on them and those who don’t. Be the first type.

2. Learn to appreciate your spouse. Vision is everything. The direction of your marriage will go in the direction of your focus. And if you learn to look for the good in your spouse, your marriage will go in that direction. Differences do not automatically mean “wrong,” many times, they simply mean “different.” And when you bring value to those differences, you bring value to your spouse.

3. Learn how to express appreciation. Silent appreciation is not appreciation at all. Let me take that a bit deeper: appreciation with strings attached is not appreciation at all. Gratitude has the ability of elevating our attitudes above bitterness. Let it be said of your home that, while you don’t have marital health figured out, you do have an atmosphere of which health can grow. And that atmosphere is “appreciation/gratitude.”  A rule that I try to enforce with my family (as well as my staff): For every negative thing, be sure to bring up two to three positives. The simplicity of the exercise will help retrain your negative mind into a more positive one.

4. Pray for blessings on your spouse and ask the Holy Spirit to bring change in you. Sometimes we can spend too much energy trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit instead of releasing Him to bring the change only He can bring.  I think we can transform our attitudes by first praying for blessing upon our spouse and then allowing the needed change in our marriage to BEGIN with ourselves. Humility in the heart paves the way for the formation of healing and health.

When it boils down to it, the more you follow a “perfect image” of a marriage that you’ve seen on social media or in someone you know, the more you’ll wind up frustrated in your marriage. The more you follow a Perfect Savior, the more you’ll see your imperfections and see an opportunity for His grace to shine through your marriage.  The two of you, as a unit, are “wonderfully complex” and His “workmanship is marvelous.” Today…

Be the blessing your marriage needs.
Be the change your marriage needs.
Love your spouse through the love you’ve received from Christ.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

 

Beyond Words: 6 Ways to Express “I Love You” Without Words

Once in awhile, I feel the need to write a disclaimer for a blog.

This is one of those blogs.

DISCLAIMER: I believe in talking to each other. Communication is the oil of the engine of marriage. As it flows so does everything else. I DO NOT want you to stop talking to each other. Immature tactics like the “silent treatment” only go to further damage the marriage as it is pride-driven to injure your spouse in a futile attempt to hurt him/her more than they have hurt you.

Now that I got that out-of-the-way, the heart of today’s blog is to help move “love” past words. I want you to learn to love without words. (You get that I don’t want you to stop talking right?) I propose to you: if the gift of verbal communication between you and your spouse were to stop, what evidence would be left to convey the depth of your love?

It’s what I love about the immense love of God that we are called to model. He wasn’t afraid to tell His people of his love (Jeremiah 31:3). He wasn’t afraid to express it (John 3:16).

Our culture seems to have watered down love to an emotion instead of a statement of our being; a flash of sentiment in our heart instead of a deep-seeded passionate conviction. And when we want to express it, 3 simple words are used (of which I do NOT take for granted): I love you.  But I tend to wonder, in the day we live in, if those words have been muddied a bit.

Don’t get me wrong. Please do not ever stop telling your spouse that you love them. The words “I love you” shouldn’t be reserved just for special occasions. Being married IS a special occasion. Therefore, open up your mouth freely and frequently to express verbally your love (this is disclaimer #2).

But if you couldn’t say it, specifically to him/her, what evidence would be left? 

 

Your schedule.
What does your schedule convey to your spouse? Your calendar will speak vision. And vision is born out of passion. The priority of time and quality of moments will speak volumes about what you are passionate about. Share calendars and let your spouse see things from scheduled/blocked-off time together to vacations and down-time. I’m of a firm conviction that NO marriage should go a month without a date. It doesn’t have to have immense cost (or any for that matter). But I’ve always said: consistent dates are cheaper than divorce lawyers.

Meaningful touches.
I read a study from UCLA a number of years ago that said that EVERY human being needs 8-10 meaningful touches a day to be healthy. But the key word there is “meaningful.” What does that look like? For some of you with higher libido, it’s learning how to touch your spouse non-sexually (simply put: a touch that isn’t laced with expectations). For those who aren’t driven physically, it’s creating opportunities to impact your spouse with your touch. It’s all about initiating creative touches that put aside your touch-agenda (or lack thereof) to create a healthy touch climate in your marriage that expresses your love for one another.

Self-initiated projects.
Are there things your spouse has been wanting to get done around the home? Are there projects that you hear him/her talk about frequently? This is as simple as making a mental note of what your spouse has been wanting to accomplish AND showing you took notice by scheduling and implementing that project. Whatever the task is, the love isn’t conveyed in the actual project as much as it is in the action of listening and responding.

Special moments. 
I’ll admit, I don’t like Hallmark created holidays. Also, I’m not big on gift giving (that’s at the bottom of my love languages).  BUT…it seems like the longer we’re married, the more we take for granted special moments that either, come by the calendar, or by the nature of our relationship (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.). RECOGNIZING and/or CREATING significant moments helps your spouse feel more like your “significant other” rather than the “obligatory other.”

Respect.
The absence of respect will kill the heart of a marriage. When a couple no longer recognizes the most base level of human dignity in one another, passion bleeds out and life leaves the relationship. Why? We respect what we value. It doesn’t mean our spouse is going to always act in a respectable way. But do we value our marriage? If so, we need to be a spouse that works hard to live in a respectful way that shows how much we value, first the Lord, and then our spouse. When you lead in respect, you build hope. And where hope is present, love is grown.

How others perceive your spouse.
What is your spouse’s reputation or image based upon your closest friends and/or coworkers? How do others perceive your spouse after they’ve interacted with you? Whether you like it or not, what you say or do will get back to your significant other (it always does). I’ve heard it said that “Integrity is who you are when no one is looking.” Perhaps marital integrity is how much you love your husband/wife when he/she isn’t around. What a statement of love to be a someone who hears that their spouse was speaking words of appreciation, gratitude, respect, and passion without them in the room.

Two challenges for you: 

1 – Have a conversation with your spouse about this. Ask your spouse what “non-verbal” ways speak out “I love you” to them. Get some input. Give some feedback. Perhaps, make some apologies where you (or both) have missed the mark. Marriage goals are not to point out where you lack; Marriage goals are to look to where you can grow.

2 – Make it a daily challenge. On top of VERBALIZING the words “I love you,” what can I do today to NON-VERBALLY express those words that will bless my spouse? Get personal and practical without the worry of reciprocation. This shows the true heart of a servant. And that is how marriage grows.

I’d love to say I’ve mastered this. To be honest, I think I have a ton of room for improvement. As a husband, one of the greatest privileges and challenges is to tell my wife I love her without uttering a single word. It’s so simple yet not an easy task.

Sit with your spouse. Have the conversation with a vision of growing the communication of the commitment and love you both possess. Remember: marriage is a long-haul journey built within healthy daily moments of growth.

Love ya.  Praying for you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Our Kfirst Values: Everyone is Significant

Here at Kfirst, our mission is our passion:  We make it simple for people to find and follow Jesus.

Simple doesn’t mean easy. With so much competing for our attention, it’s difficult to develop a life-giving relationship with Jesus and follow Him. Our mission is to make it simple, so that people who feel far from God will find life in following Jesus.

That’s our vision, but it’s our values that guides our perspective and actions of a church.  Our core values are deeply ingrained thought-patterns that motivate the way we behave. Think of an apple core: the seeds in that core are the apple tree’s core values; these seeds create the future. So over the next few weeks, I want to share the core values Kfirst has as they guide us towards our goal of making it simple for people to find and follow Jesus.

So first…
Everyone is significant2

It seems to be the core of who we are as a human being: Significance. We all strive to be something and do something that will give us that sense of significance; that idea of feeling unique, important, special. or needed. I mean, look at the most popular movies from the past decade. Superhero movies have dominated the landscape of cinema. They are stories of men and woman discovering how special they are and how much of a significant impact they can have upon their world. This may make a great movie storyline, but it highlights the deep longing that we all carry.  We all want to be significant and we want to do something of great significance.

Two thoughts:

First, we believe our significance doesn’t come from within us; it comes from Christ. So much money and resources is spent chasing avenues to feed our need to be special.  But know this: God’s love for us is so extravagantly he gave us his best; Jesus. And because he didn’t give his life for a few notable people, it shows that there is something significant about ALL of us. He came for all. He died for all. He rose for all. And that “all” includes you. You don’t have to try to “be” significant. You already are because Christ loves you.

Second, because we are so greatly loved, we endeavor to love people like God loves people.  We give generously. We serve endlessly. We love abundantly. And none of that is based upon what we receive back. For freely we have received; freely we give.

What does that look like for you?

If you have never realized that you are significant, look no further than the cross and resurrection.

If you never realized that you can do something significant, look no further than finding a place to serve in your neighborhood or church community. We believe everyone, regardless of age or background, has purpose and a place to serve and make a significant impact.

If you’re ready to do something significant, let me invite you to be a part of one of the most crucial areas to serve: “First Impressions.” It is the place to impact lives even before a song is sung or a sermon is presented. A simple smile, a kind greeting, and a joyful attitude can melt a heart and impact someone’s life in a powerful way.

If you’re interested in making a significant impact through “First Impressions” or any other area, please click HERE or the graphic below.

serve 2

 

 

 

 

I believe everyone is significant and I endeavor to love people like God loves people. At Kfirst, everyone has purpose and a place. And we want to help you find yours.

 

 

Foreplay is always “in play”: 6 Ways to Rethink Everyday Encounters with Your Spouse

Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. Hebrews 13:4 (MSG)

From the get-go of this blog, please note: The goal isn’t to get more sex into your marriage (though I’m not against that whatsoever).  The goal is to develop intimacy.  Sex doesn’t necessarily lead to intimacy.  Intimacy doesn’t always involve sex.

I had heard a teaching years ago about premarital sex.  I was a teenager, I was in church, and words were being used in church that most people would thing shouldn’t be used (probably what shaped my blunt approach).   Then the teaching went the issue of foreplay.  From my limited understanding and zero experience, my ears perked up, and yet, I kept wondering, “should I be hearing this? Is it okay for me to know about this?” I felt dirty for being there.  The uneasy feeling I had wasn’t due to the material being taught.  It was my misunderstanding of how God views sexuality between a husband and wife. He created it for marriage to be indulged in AND enjoyed.  Why don’t we say that more in church? Why isn’t that taught more? I thank God for the parents, youth pastors, leaders, and mentors in my life who had the guts to speak the truth of God’s word into every area, especially sexuality.  It’s given me the freedom and boldness to teach, preach, talk, counsel, and blog on this vital area to marriage.

For the life of me, I cannot remember who was teaching/preaching that day 20+ years ago, but I do remember him redefining the word “foreplay.”  Two of his points where as follows: (paraphrased) 1 – Physical touch grows and 2- Foreplay goes beyond the bed.  I’m gonna do my best to do this justice…

First, the physical affection you entertain and indulge in were designed to bring a growing connection.  It wants to go further.  The term I coined is “progressive connection.”  A kiss, hug, a holding a hand, all done in the proper way, should leave the thought, “I’d like that to happen again.”  Teenagers (in my day) would say, “We took things too far and things just happened.”  Well of course something “happened.” Physical affection, without standards or limitations, was designed to progress forward.  We are designed by God as sexual beings.  There’s nothing dirty about it. In fact, scripture says, you were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” But like all things God designs and gives, there is a stewardship of it.  (Parent Note: Don’t be ignorant.  Guard what you see your kids doing with their boyfriends/girlfriends.  What they do in public, they’ll take it a step forward in private.)

Secondly, foreplay doesn’t just happen in the bedroom.  Foreplay is the daily courtship of the heart and, therefore, not limited to a bed. It is the accumulation of moments; the buildup of passion.  Call it a “snowball effect.”  That means, if properly handled, it can be fostered over the course of a day/week instead of trying to “jump-start” it in a moment (not that I’m against “heat of the moment” times for marriage…go for it). If we can wrap our minds around that, it would dramatically affect our marital sex life. It’d remove the idea of “intimacy is just for a moment” into the place where intimacy is how we live.  If husbands and wives can see the simple everyday moments are ALL foreplay, our approach to our spouse would forever be changed.  It may add more sex (no promises), but I guarantee it will add more intimacy.

Here are 6 ways to rethink everyday encounters with your spouse:

  1. Greetings and Goodbyes.  Monitor how you leave the home and how you return.  The way you send off your spouse into their day should make them smile instead of relieved you’re gone.  The way you return or what he/she returns to shouldn’t make him/her wish they’d stayed at work a bit longer.
  2. Reconnections. How you keep in contact throughout the day is a huge deal.  Even if you’re not a cheesy romantic and slip notes into the pockets of your spouse, casual texts and phone calls matter.  This is where social media can be a huge gift.  Tweet to your spouse.  Message him/her.  Take a pic of the meal that’s ready. Text something sensual to him/her (hey your married…nothing wrong with that unless a coworker picks up your phone and looks at it.  Be careful).
  3. Fight well. Skirmishes happen.  It’s inevitable with two humans living together in matrimony.  But fight fair and in a healthy way. Don’t go for the selfish win.  Go for marital win.  Fighting from a place of humility doesn’t seem normal.  It’s because it isn’t.  Intimacy flows when pride is laid down. (Here’s the series I did on conflict called “Fight Club“)
  4. Releasing poison. How you handle forgiveness can revolutionize your marriage. I’ve heard it said, “Unforgiveness is the poison you drink that you think will kill someone else.” Withholding forgiveness might be strangely satisfying as if you’re making someone suffer for what they’ve done. But it’s slowly killing you and your marriage.  Watch your attraction increase with the poison of unforgiveness flushed from your system.
  5. Selflessly serve. This does two things. First, it makes you look for your spouse’s love language and, second, fosters humility. Meet your spouse’s needs without the need for reciprocation.  In other words: True serving has no strings attached. You serve regardless of what you get back.  Imagine a marriage where two people are, daily, looking for ways to serve the needs of the other spouse.
  6. Safe touches. A UCLA study showed that human beings need 8-10 meaningful touches a day. Learn to touch with zero expectations.  67% of men have “touch” as a dominant love language.  But, because they haven’t exercised stewardship over their love language, they don’t know how to exhibit physical touch without their wife thinking they’re only doing it for sex. Introduce (or reintroduce) “non-sexual” touch.  It’s touch without sexual expectations.  Hand holding, massages, a (light) slap on the rear, embraces, etc. should be active in regardless of the years of marriage.  There should be adequate and appropriate touches enjoyed.

I love what Hebrews 13:4 says, “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.” I think that part of honoring and guarding “the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband” is making sure that we are courting their heart and passion in a way that serves them.  And serving isn’t done by one single act. It’s a lifestyle. We saw in Jesus when it came to his bride, the Church.  He served regardless of what he received. He gave knowing we could never reciprocate that level of giving.  How much more should we strive to build into our day, intentional actions to serve our spouse?  I promise, courting their heart can revive the passion back into your marriage.

Don’t leave foreplay in the bedroom.  It wasn’t meant to live there.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Brownie Points: 4 Reasons why they may not be good for your marriage.

Cards.  Candy, Socks (one of my favorite gifts). Flowers.  They’re all those things that we purchase and hear someone say, 

“Somebody’s gonna get some brownie points for that.”

In the completely accurate source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, Brownie Points are given a phenomenal definition. They’re a hypothetical social currency, which can be acquired by doing good deeds or earning favor in the eyes of another.  Regardless of the etymology, they’re essentially used for the purpose of earning approval of someone.

NOTE: I am not against gift-giving.  I’m not opposing to doing thoughtful things for your spouse.  In fact, acts that are kind, thoughtful, loving, and/or romantic should be consistently a part of your marriage (key word: consistently).  They should be the natural outflow of a healthy marital relationship.  The little things matter and need to be actively seen in marriage. But the connotation that “Brownie Points” carries, can actually be a very unhealthy to you and your spouse.  According to the definition, in the context of marriage, little acts are done to curry favor and approval that, apparently, either didn’t exist or have disappeared.  The love we see in our marriage should be spilling out from the love of Christ.  We see that love described in 1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

And because of that here are 4 reasons why brownie points may not be good for your marriage. 

1. Score keeping. Couples that keep score deteriorate. Why?  If you’ve done more acts of kindness for your spouse, you can sit back and do nothing until he/she gets caught up with what you gave.  It fosters the misunderstanding that “marriage is a 50/50 proposition.” 50/50 simply means “I give in proportion to what you give me.”  So you sit back and keep track of who did what and, often, make statements about how much more you’ve given.  But a healthy marriage is 100/100.  That means that a spouse gives all that they are regardless of what the other gives. “Love is…kind.” I give100% because that’s what type of love Christ gave me. The kindness in his immense generosity knows no bounds. 

2. One upping.  I’ll admit, I like to outdo what I’ve done before because I love Anne and enjoy doing more for her.  But “one upping” can flow into an unhealthy mentality when 1 of 2 things happen.  First, when it’s become about pride instead of about love.  We perform an act of kindness/romance and stand back and say, “Look what I’ve done for you.  You’re lucky to be married to me.”  Now no body in their right mind is going to actually say that but that’s the heart behind it. Secondly, it fosters manipulation.  “Can you do _________for me?  I did __________ for you last week.”  There’s a terrible danger of taking what is supposed to be kindness and/or romantic and it’s become a weapon used to “make” your spouse do what you want him/her to do. Remember, “love…does not insist its own way.”

3. Sets the precedence that “favor” with your spouse is something to be “won.”  I don’t think there has been a time that Anne has ever had to earn my favor.  Have we had conflict?  You better believe it.  Do we annoy each other?  At times.  But love isn’t “arrogant or rude.”  It doesn’t let the marriage operate so that one person must be satisfied so that favor may be granted upon the spouse.  How arrogant are you if you demand that your favor must be curried? Love is unconditional because it’s what Jesus showed us. And scripture tells us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”  

4. Can make forgiveness dependent upon actions. Scripture tells us that “love is…not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” Most people struggle with forgiveness because they mistaken it for trust.  They are not the same thing.  We don’t let our spouse have to earn forgiveness by actions. We love and forgive based upon what was modeled in Christ. Trust, on the other hand, is built over time. It’s grown by the fruit (consistent actions) of a healthy, contrite, and teachable heart. Is it tough to do when our spouse has broken our hearts?  Absolutely. But love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  Love never fails.  

Hear my heart.  Keep doing the little things for your spouse.  Don’t do it because of what you can get out of it nor do them as penance for wrongs that have been done.  Let them flow out of the love that you saw and experience from the love of Christ.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Warning Shots: 10 subtle actions your marriage needs to pay attention to.

You’ve opened my ears so I can listen.
Psalm 40:6

I’m an aficionado of military movies.  And there’s certain lines and terms that you can count on hearing frequently.  For some reason, especially in movies involving ships, you’ll hear the term: warning shot. 

A warning shot is a military and/or police term describing an intentionally harmless shot toward the opposition.   The intention of the shot is to get the attention of the party at hand letting them know you mean business.  The warning shot doesn’t harm or hurt anyone.  It’s what I call the “attention grabber.”  It tells the opposing person that if you do not head the “warning shot”, consequences will follow. 

I’m not being a proponent of firing a shot, both literal and physical, at/toward your spouse.  But there are subtle things that happen in a marriage that are the “attention grabbers” of your relationship.  Many times, these are not intentionally done by a spouse.  They’re the subtle responses to situations that are not completely healthy. But to ignore these “warning shots” is to inviting the issuing circumstances. 

10 warning shots to take notice of: 

1. Taking for granted “The Big 5.”  They consist of: 

  • “I love you.”
  • “Will you forgive me?”
  • “I forgive you.”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “You’re welcome.”

2. Love languages are becoming a side issue. I think couples should monitor the changes in their love languages as they get older.  The seasons of life change you.  What used to speak to your spouse may not speak to them now.  Take time to read, talk, pray, and discover each other all over again. The pursuit will feed the passion. 

3.The schedule doesn’t allow you to worship or pray together.  We are more than physical beings. We are spiritual as well.  When the two became one, the two were meant to experience everything together…including worship.  If the schedule is preventing time of spiritual refreshing, something needs to change.  When you can’t remember the last time you haven’t prayed together, served together, or worshiped together, they’re subtle hints that spiritual intimacy needs to be a priority. 

4. The decisions you used to make together are now being decided without the other.  This is a sign that communication and unified decision-making are beginning to break down.  It always starts off with the little things. 

5. Sex isn’t happening.  My love language is “Physical Touch” so this isn’t a subtle hint.  But for those of you who are not driven physically, if sex isn’t happening in a healthy frequency (no magic number for that), it’s a definite sign that something needs to change. The heart should drive the mood.  Both spouses should possess the heart of a servant to make sure that the most intimate needs of their spouse is being served. As I’ve always said, “you are the only one that can meet that need in your spouse.”

6. There’s much more tolerance for what you never tolerated before.  There’s freedom in Christ and there’s just cashing in on Godly standards.  Your entertainment, conversations, thought-life, and private time should have healthy Godly boundaries.  If they’re not attended to, it amazing me what gets past them and desires to take root in our lives. 

7. “This is your problem not mine.” becomes a common line.  This is one of many quotes that shows the breakdown of oneness in a marriage.  “Mine” and “yours” are natural words used by couples whose unity is beginning to erode away.  Take notice on how much they’re being used and in the context they’re being used. Take a step back and realize: you are in this together.  Make sure your words follow suit. 

8. Date night? I hear couples joke “Does that happen anymore?” and it makes me cringe every time.  When you can’t remember when it’s happened last, it’s a sure sign that you desperately need time alone.  It doesn’t have to cost much if anything at all.  Take a walk.  Go on a drive.  Do something together. 

9. Kids are higher priority than the marriage. I know you have such a short window of time to raise your children. I’m a firm believer that kids are a high priority…just behind my spouse. I don’t neglect or ignore my kids.  BUT…my wife is a higher priority.  She needs to know that.  My kids need to see that.  This is why so many people get divorced after 20-25 years of marriage.  Everything was poured into the kids and nothing into the marriage.  

10. There’s more talk about what you DON’T have than what you DO have.  Envy is a killer of joy in your marriage.  It wants to guide your eyes and heart to what others have and what you lack.  You end up forgetting the blessings of God because you can’t see them past all of the “stuff” that should be yours.  “If only I/we had it.” is a lie.  Why? Because when you do get “it”, you’ll still continue to say that line. 

My prayer for you is that of Psalms 40:6.  That you would be able to say, God “opened my ears so I can listen.”  Ask the Lord to open up your 5 senses to hear the subtle things that you haven’t noticed before.  If you see these things, they are the attention grabbers that are screaming at you saying, “it’s time to attend to your marriage.”

Don’t grow deaf to the “warning shots.”  Open up your senses and listen. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Spectator Church

I do my normal Monday thing.  Well before the office opens, I sit in a undisclosed coffeehouse location and pen out messages (my fancy way of saying “I type out sermons on my computer”). I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s message points by Ron Maddux:

Out of context of the story of his life, these seem like very simple points.  But to hear his testimony…to catch his passion for the lost…yesterday’s message continues to impact me to my very soul.  You need to understand: I came out of a week of talking with missionaries about future missions trips, conversing pastor’s pursuing their calling, and seeing people reaching out to those who are hurting.  Sunday was the “icing on the cake.” I am so passionate for people to hear the Gospel (the good news of hope in Christ in the midst of our hopelessness) and yesterday just fed the flame.

I learned something years ago:  church is not a spectator sport. (Yes I know it’s not a “sport” per se but bear with me.) But I’m afraid we’ve made the american “church” into nothing more than what I do during football season on Sunday afternoons in front of the TV.

I watch my team.
I get excited.
I’m proud to be a fan of my team (for the first time in a long time).
I post it on social media.
Then I walk away and go about my life.

A spectator. A fan.

Aaaaaaaaand that can sum up the life of a church attender.  I will support my team/church on Sunday.  I’ll enjoy it IF the outcome of the game/service is what I think it should be.  I might even tweet/facebook post about it.

But that’s it.

Have we spent so much time going to church that we forget we ARE the church? We fight for traditions of what takes place in a building we call the “church” and don’t fight for the traditions of BEING the church.  The early church was radiant with the Gospel.  The “Good News” was so good they couldn’t keep it to themselves.  Grace was so rich to taste that they didn’t want to be the only ones consuming it.  Everything about the early church seemed to smack against being a spectator.  Everyone was involved.  It wasn’t about getting “my” church experience. It was about being a “city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14) so that others could experience the indescribable grace of God.

This is what this month is about at Kfirst.  It’s about moving us from being the spectator into engaging the world around us.  We’re asking you to engage in 3 ways:

Reach final

  1. Reach our community.  Sign up to serve the week of November 17 in our “Serve All” week.  Put hands and feet to your faith.
  2. Reach Ethiopia with clean water.  We’re partnering with Life Water to drill a well and provide clean water to a community in desperate need.   Every time we gather in November, we’re going to take time to give so that we can provide people with water and communicate the love of Jesus.
  3. Reach the world. Starting next week, we’re going to challenge you to make a commitment to reaching our world by partnering with us and our 84 missionaries/ministries to make it simple for people to find and follow Jesus.

It’s time to get out of the stands in the stadium and get on the field.  Jesus didn’t come out of the tomb so that you can be housed safely in your church buildings.  You are a missionary.  You are an ambassador of the Kingdom. It’s time to engage with world around you with the love of Jesus that has transformed your life.  If you have freely received…

…it’s time to freely reach.

We’ll see you on Sunday.

Thank for letting me ramble…