Kissing Lessons

BARRINGER0039

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

Hershey's_kiss_stamp

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

1. The physical kiss cannot be neglected. 

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

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

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

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

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

now to the other thought…

2. Honesty is as intimate as kissing. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grab your spouse and kiss em…

Take your marriage, and pour out honesty and truth…

Thanks for letting me ramble…

A Pile of Dung

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

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

photo

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

Selah (means “stop and reflect”)

Everything that we hold to importance.

Everything we make a big deal about.

Everything we take pride in…

Paul calls rubbish.

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

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

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

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

Paul says, “stop.”  Wake up

Paul says, “look.” Focus

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Chafing my spouse

Dave and Anne walking

I hate chafing. I can’t say I deal with that often.  But you know as well as I do, it’s frustrating.  And if you are in a position where it occurs and you can’t deal with it right then and there…it’s complete misery.

Chafing refers to the irritation of skin caused by repetitive friction (thanks Wiki).  One ministry  I follow on twitter posted something a few weeks ago that has been percolating in my head.  @mrgwrks tweeted this:

Those 89 characters stirred a thought: what do I do that chafes my spouse.  What are the words/phrases that she hates?  What type of mannerisms set her off?  Are there habits I do that causes undo tension and anger?

I’m not talking about a slight irritation.  Remember the definition. It is irritation caused by repetitive friction.  “Chafing” comes when we repetitively and, sometimes, purposefully, cause friction to our spouses.  I have noticed with couples, sometimes it’s done out of playful endeavors.  “My wife says she hate to be tickled.  But she likes it when I tickle her when she’s in a bad mood. She laughs every time.” Nope.  She still doesn’t like it. She laughs because she’s ticklish.  You’re not getting it. You’re the only one getting enjoyment and she’s the one getting chaffed.

Other times it for vengeful purposes.  We’ll use “irritant” behavior to get back with our spouses.  It’s our way of settling the score.  We justify it because it feels so good to get the last word.

Either way, it becomes a selfish act.  It’s our pride that refuses to change and/or notice the things that “chafe” our spouses.  I’ve got an easy remedy for ya.  It comes from an old video of one of my favorite comedians of all time: Bob Newhart.

The remedy to “spousal irritation” is simple: Just stop it!!!

Stop making excuses for the behavior.  Stop saying it’s the way you’ve always been. Stop saying “this is the way my parents acted.” Just stop.  You are not your parents.  Your wife wasn’t raised like you.  There are enough irritants out in the world.  You shouldn’t be the source of it.

Here’s some help with some chaffing:

1. Admit the irritant. You know the phrase, mannerism, tone, etc that sets your spouse off.  You probably don’t have to ask what it is. Just call it what it is.

2. Apologize. Seek forgiveness.  Ephesians 4:32. Sincere apologies become the plow into the soil of your marriage.  It preps you for growth.  Without it, hearts remain hardened and calloused.

3. Pursue change.  Galatians 5:7. Get rid of what’s preventing you from a healthy relationship with your spouse. Irritated areas usually need a change of atmosphere.  We’ll call this the “baby powder” of the process.  Find out what is affecting/influencing you.  According to ehow.com’s “how to soothe chafing skin”, their first step is to rid yourself of clothing.  The idea is to remove anything that is keeping moisture on your body.  You need that type of mindset when you are taking personal inventory over your life. You have to look at yourself completely.  Nothing hidden.

4. Wash thoroughly. Ephesians 5:26 talks about the “washing of the Word.” Get the Word of God into your life to challenge past and present thinking and behavior.  Let it awaken your thoughts and shape every action.

5. Stay dry. In other words, take preventive measure to not allow space for the “irritant to come back.  Proverbs 4:23.  Guard yourself. Let your spouse guard you. Foster that type of humility, and you can prevent chaffing in your marriage.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Am I guilty of indecently exposing my spouse?

I love people watching.  The mall is a great place to do it.  Because I don’t enjoy shopping at the mall, I find myself finding a chair and getting caught up on twitter and blogs. While at another shopping adventure, I began to watch couples. I watched how they acted.  I watched their responses to each other.  Some held hands.  Other held decided the mall was the best place to have an argument.  A group of ladies were standing near me talking about their husbands/boyfriends…and I can’t say they had the best things to say about them.  Right now I sound really nosey.  But with their volume, I don’t think they cared who heard them.

I had an epiphany. Lightning struck my brain (reference to the movie “Hook”).

The way we represent our spouses to others.  The way we represent them to our friends.  They way our children her us talk about them when they’re not around…

If we do not defend them… If we do not support them… If we don’t present them in the proper light…

We are in danger of dishonoring them. We are opening them up to attack. We are abandoning them.

In essence, we are indecency exposing them.

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love bears all things…”

Bears/Greek: Stego/to protect or keep by covering, to preserve by covering to keep off something which threatens

I am Anne’s covering.  I am her protection.

Anne is my covering. She is my protection.

What I experienced in that mall…from that conversation…was men “exposed” to slander and malicious talk.  I had a rush of emotions.  I felt shame for even hearing it. I felt privileged for having a wife who wouldn’t do that to me.  Most notably, I felt conviction.  The conviction came, not from any one incident of not supporting my  wife. It came from the knowledge of knowing that the same nature in those mall people is in me. How can I stand in judgement when every one of us has that capability?

This may be my most humbling mall experience of all time.

What drives us to tear down our spouses? Is it for a moment of feeding a superiority complex? Is it to catch a cheap laugh at our spouses expense? Is it to impress people into thinking we’re something we’re not? Is it our revenge at our spouse for something they did?

No matter how you try to cover up your act of allowing the “indecent exposure” of your spouse, you are still engaging in two very big problems. One, you are acting selfish.  You’re feeding your pride. And two, you are “exposing” your spouse up to attack.  It’s as if you are pinning a target onto him/her and encouraging someone to shoot.

This weeks marriage encouragement is to protect your spouse to…

  1. Friends/Neighbors – Let people hear you speak words of life about your spouse. Don’t speak words that kill their reputation…thus exposing them. Build them up to the people in your sphere of influence. Pray over them. Don’t groan to your coworkers when they call ya.  Don’t whine to your best friend when they text you. If you’re mad at them. Deal with it face to face with them.  Just make sure that when you speak of them around your friends, keep your spouse covered.
  2. Family – It’s time to leave mommy and daddy and their opinions about your spouse.  You are married.  Cut the cord and bring your devotion to your spouse.  I’ve heard it over and over, “but Dave, my mom/dad is my best friend…I tell them everything.” That may be your problem right there. Your spouse needs to know that your devotion is to the marriage before it’s to the parents.  They need to know that when they show up to family gatherings, a cloud isn’t hanging over the gathering and a target is upon them because you chose to “expose” your spouse to nosey parents. I know it’s tough to hear.  But your marriage is more important than mom and dad’s curiosity over what’s going on in your marriage.
  3. Children – Don’t put your kids in an awkward situation by “exposing” your spouse, their other parent, to them. Remember, harsh, demeaning words about your spouse might feel good for you. But it’s tearing down their parent. I’ve dealt with too many children who have grown to resent moms and dads who talk poorly about their spouses.  You’re not making yourself look good.  You’re destroying trust with your children AND you’re exposing your spouse to attack.

I charge you to “decently expose” your spouse. I charge you, in the presence of coworkers, parents, children, etc. to expose your protection over your spouse by speaking amazing things about them. Edify them, their role, and your devotion to them. Love them the way Christ loves you…even though you’re not perfect. Stand up for them, and don’t allow the enemy to use your words to put a target upon their back.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Information for a free gift…and 5 things for @kalamazoofirst

Top of the morning to ya!  It’s Monday so get some coffee and buckle up for a great week.

I laugh at Facebook links, Twitter links, and the spam emails that simply say, “Click here for a free gift.” The ad isn’t funny. It’s knowing that we are so desperate to get “free” stuff that we lay down all inhibitions in the euphoria of knowing we could be getting something free.  I’m not standing in judgement. Anne knows that when we go to a conference, I look forward to SWAG (Stuff We All Get).  I’ll walk from table to table to pick up free pens and key chains as if the Mayan calendar was right and my survival the coming apocalypse would come from the pens and key chains.  We see free…and we leap.  But, for some reason, we have a gift available, and instead of receiving it, we go about attaining it with alternative ways.

I’m slowly going through Ephesians this month and got a great reminder.  My pen couldn’t underline my new bible fast enough. It was screaming at me from page 976. I pulled out my phone and instagramed the passage.

“And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God.”

The subtle reminder to me in the midst of my monday rush: you didn’t create this life yourself…you didn’t earn it…you couldn’t accomplish it.

It’s a gift.  It’s free for you to receive.  I guess today the Holy Spirit felt I needed that reminder.  Maybe I’ve taken it for granted.  I guess I needed to come to a greater appreciation of His love for us. Without Jesus…where would I be?

I recognize the cost comes as we follow Christ…but that’s for another blog on another day.

Here are 5 things I want Kfirst to know about…

#1 – Sunday was amazing. When I showed up to youth group last night, the teen were buzzing about Sunday morning.  That, to me, is a litmus test for a speaker.  How did the next generation receive them?

Andy Raatz did something extraordinary.  He imparted his heart into ours. It was like the sanctuary was an operating room and his heart was transplanted into our lives.  What a great response to the altar!!! I had a few talks with some people who were messed up from yesterday…in a good way.  What a joy to see individuals seeing their world with new hearts and having a passion for the lost.

If you missed the message, download it from iTunes later  or hit our website.

#2 – Missions Emphasis is concluding Sunday!!  Every November, we concentrate our focus on outreach (local, national, world). Our two-week emphasis centers our hearts upon the lost, increase our passion, and challenged us to get involved.  We’ll be taking up our “faith promises” on Sunday.  A faith promise is a monetary goal or a pledge that is set between the you and God for the support of world missions. This goal is set for one year.  Anne and I have supported world missions since we were teens and would encourage you to join us in giving to world missions.

#3 – Missions Emphasis includes giving to the Kalamazoo Gospel mission!!  During our emphasis we’re teaming up with the Kalamazoo Gospel mission.  We’re challenging everyone at Kfirst to bring coats in to bless the mission.  If you have a coat and/or want to buy one to donate, please bring into the office during the week.

#4 – Chapel Service and Hymn Sing is coming up this Thursday! If you’re one of our senior adults, you don’t want to miss out on an amazing time. Our pastoral team has been rotating through and bringing the Word.  I absolutely love our time of prayer at the end!

#5 – Sacred: Kfirst Christmas Series.  I can’t wait to launch our Christmas series this coming December.  My desire is to bring back the sacredness to the Christmas story that, for some, has become generic and ordinary.  Join us as we present “sacred” in December…better yet…invite a family or two and let them hear about the Lord who was sent to bring them life.

That’s all I have today. Enjoy the Lord’s free gift to you.  Enjoy giving that gift to someone else.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

“Are you talking nautical to me?”

Is anyone else a fan of Sig Hanson?  Any Discovery Channel geeks out there?

If you’ve never partaken in this amazing show, “Deadliest Catch” is a documentary series chronicling the real-life high-sea adventures of the Alaskan crab fishermen. It is professed to be the most deadly profession in the world (and for good reason). Sig Hanson is by far my favorite captain to watch on the show.  He commands the Northwestern as one of the more successful crab fisherman.  I’ll admit, his crew is one of the more entertaining crews to watch.

Watching the show pulls me into their world of fishing the Bering Sea. Anne has heard me more than once proudly proclaim that could do that job.   I see myself working for 36 hours straight pulling crab pots.  The reality, for the first few days, I’d be clutching the railing throwing up from sea sickness. One episode in particular, stands out to me. A  “greenhorn” or the newest crewman on a fishing vessel, has a freak-out moment and is ready to jump ship.  The deep, the waves, the intensity of the moment has caused this man to call it quits. He is so consumed with fear that has forgone rational thought.  The boat is forced to abandon its journey to take this greenhorn back to shore.  His final scene is him shamefully leaving the boat and walking down the dock in his Lions jersey (kinda indicative of most Lions seasons).  We all watch and think we’d handle it much better.  How scary can it be?

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” 2 Peter 1:19

The words “To pay attention” is a very cool Greek word (prosecho). It literally means, “to have direction toward something”. It was a nautical term used to describe steering a ship on course. In the days when all ships were sailing ships, “prosecho was a very important concept. In the open water, there are no street signs.  There are no exits to pull off to get directions.  If you didn’t know how to set a course, you could easily get lost at sea.

Who is writing this? Simon Peter

What was his “trade” before following Christ? Fisherman. (Maybe he’s the Sig Hanson of Biblical times)

Just like KFirst isn’t surprised when I use a football metaphor, we shouldn’t be alarmed that Peter is reaching back to his roots to help us understand what the Lord is speaking.  He is telling us the something about steering our course in life: Pay attention to the wind and the heavens if you want to stay on course.

God has equipped us with a word from heaven and the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to guide us. But we have to pay attention. I’ll give you a TRUTH to ponder: Reaching your destination won’t happen if you let the currents take you wherever they happen to go.

Before the age of nautical technology, sailing far beyond the site of the shore was a not easy.  It was a scary thing. At one time, there were people who believed the world was flat and if you sailed too far you’d fall off the edge of the earth. Unless you had the proper training and/or you had a compass, without the shore to guide you, it was pretty hard to know which way to go. This is the reason why many trips were done at night. The stars were the guides. Lamps and city lights shining from the shore were easier to see.

This writer…this fishermen knew how important it was to have an illuminated marker when he found himself out on dark waters.  Dark waters have so much potential of driving fear and anxiety because three things:

  1. Their depth.  (they’re dark for a reason)
  2. Their reputation.  Beneath the surface lies dangerous creatures as well as the wreckage of former vessels who did not make it.
  3. No shelter.  Out in the deep. You cannot hide. You have to face whatever comes your way

If there is anyone understood what it was like to go through “deep waters” or dark fearful times, Peter is a prime example. Matthew 8:23-17 is the story of the disciples and Jesus sailing.  Most of us have read the story.  We remember the ending.  What we, many times forget: some of the men freaking out are experienced fishermen. Their reaction speaks of the severity of the storm. It shows the urgency of the moment.  They needed Jesus to stand up in the storm speak to the darkness. More than storms on the sea, Peter knew what it was like to go through dark times. Whether it was his denial of Christ or winding up in jail, he was experienced in going through moments where he needed help.  He needed direction. Simon Peter needed something to guide him.

And now this fisherman tells us that our lives in Christ need the same sort of markers that a ship’s captain would need. Peter knew the sea. He knew its dangers and its deceptions. But he was confident in spite of the turmoil of life because he paid close attention to the beacon of the Word. In the darkest part of our lives, a little light can be seen from a great distance. Be watchful for the light and it will direct your course.

When we start to feel surrounded by dark waters, there is a lamp shining in the darkness. It is the Word of God, the same word that Psalm 119 describes as “a lamp unto my feet“. NOTE:  the Word won’t make any difference to us unless we pay close attention to it.

I’ll end with this: Admit the depth of your need, celebrate the lavish power of grace, and get up and follow by faith.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Are you having trouble with profanity?

Happy Monday…er Tuesday! I’m late in getting this out.  I had a great time speaking yesterday at Zion Bible College – GR.  I love connecting with future/present ministers!!!

We are in the thick of the fall season and I’m excited about what’s happening in our church community. If you were not able to join us, we had an amazing day of ministry that makes it exciting be a part of this church community.

I’ll kick off Tuesday with a simple TRUTH: “The question today is not whether you will worship, but rather what you will worship. Your glorious Creator or something he created?” Today is a choice.  Every moment is a choice.  You get to choose whether your life will worship the Lord or your own desires. Live a life of worship today and “hallow” His name today. This is a great segway into recapping our Sunday and looking forward to this week.

Here are 5 things I want you to know about…

#1 – KFirst continued our series “Dust” on Sunday. We focused on “Keeping the Name Safe.” We corrected the mindset of profaning the name of Jesus.  It’s not all about what you say.  When you profess Christ but refuse to live that out before men…you are living profanity. Our actions can succeed in bringing shame on the name of Jesus around the world. In the lives of normal people, we can be guilty of hillul hashem (profaning the name).

But when we lift our hands in worship…And hate our neighbor

When we go to church and profess our relationship with God…but refuse to help a neighbor who is hurting

We are profaning the name.

Our goal?  Read the words of Christ about the “Name”:  John 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Go live out “hallowing” the name of Jesus.

If you missed the message, download it from iTunes  later on Monday or hit the website.

#2 – Annual Business Meeting is a this week.  Our trustee nominees are presented in a handout at the information center and in the church office. I’d ask that you take some time intercede over this as we approach 3 trustee positions with prayerful hearts.  We have such an awesome list of nominees and I am excited for the future of our board.

#3 – On Sunday we are launching a 1 month reading plan.  I’m going to challenge our congregation to read all four Gospels in ONE MONTH.  October 1 will be our start date in this amazing journey.  The reading plan will be available online, via this blog, and available at the information desk.

#4 – You can’t afford to miss Sunday, October 7 for an outreach announcement. We have a great opportunity for local outreach that I believe can have explosive results in connecting to the community. Don’t sleep in that day.  I can’t wait.

#5 – Pray over our new series coming up in October.  We are going to do a short 3 week series “Vampires: Dealing with people who suck the life out of you.” I think we’re going to laugh. I thing we are all going to be challenged.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve got “Vampires” in my life.  But more specifically, I think that I’ve been a “Vampire” to others.  We are called to give life…not “suck” it out of a person.  We are supposed to be sources of joy…I better stop. I’ll start preaching the series too early.

That’s all we have today.  Love the Lord…and don’t let your lives be “profanity” to the world.  Show the world who Jesus is.

Thanks for letting me ramble…