Tag Archives: marriage

Love is not rude/ does not dishonor others

Love is not rude.

pic from Google Circles. I don’t own its rights, and I’m not making any money on it.

The Greek word in 1 Cor. 13:5 that most versions translate “is not rude,” gets translated in the NIV “does not dishonor others.” The ASV spills it “doth not behave itself unseemly.” It is some sort of offensive behavior.

What’s clear is that love is being on your best behavior around those you love. How many times have we hurt with “rude, dishonoring, unseemly” words? Forget about putting your napkin on your lap, words are the things that kill marriages.

If we had truly evolved from animals, words would not have the power the do — for good or for bad.

Today to your family, praise the good and forget about the bad. Don’t let it even enter your conversation. Speak gently, not roughly. Be considerate, not selfish.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love does not envy

love does not envyEnvy hates because another has. This comes from an evil heart. We should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, but those who are given to feeling superior when they make comparisons also tend to feel envy when they feel inferior in any way.

This is the opposite of unity. So if you envy your spouse, your relationship is adversarial. You should make it partnership.

1 Cor. 13: 4 says: Love does not envy. You should shield your spouse, not leave them exposed to abuse.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is kind

love is kindMarried couples fall into the trap of expecting their spouse to be kind and reserving any show of kindness until then. This is path to divorce.

Remember when you were in love? No mountain was too high, no sea too stormy. You spent time thinking up new and fantastic ways to be kind to your beloved.

People tend to “let their hair down” around family, which means they’re mean. Oddly, with strangers they’re nice. Reverse this and be nice to family. Be tender to your spouse.

If you will simply be kind (even if your spouse “doesn’t deserve it”), you could set your marriage onto a path towards renewed happiness.

1 Cor. 13:4 says: Love is kind.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is patient

love is patient

Extremely contrary to the world’s concept of love, the Bible says that love, first and foremost, is patient.

A centerstage in scripture is Paul’s poetry on love. And the first thing he says is: Love is patient.

Here’s the rest of the passage:

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. — 1 Cor. 13:4-8 NIV.

It makes a wonderful inscription at a wedding. But DOING IT after the wedding — years after the wedding — is what’s needed. What’s needed is we be patient with each other. I bet there wouldn’t be so many broken homes if we would practice true love (patience).

Here’s every element of the series:

Make the journey home

journey home

Jacob so longed to be in the Promised Land that he order his bones be carried there from Egypt, which was done — incredibly — 400 years later!

It’s time for you to go home. To your spouse and children. Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home — Proverbs 27:8 ESV. Happiness is NOT in the wild life, it’s in the hearth.

It may be difficult to work out lasting relationships. It’s easy to throw it all away and believe the the lie that you’ll find something better elsewhere.

Kids need mom and dad at home. That’s where the greatest joy is, not with the “guys” doing guy things in the world. Don’t think the settled life is boring. God’s design brings the greatest and most lasting happiness for everyone.

This holiday season, don’t just go home in your car. Go home in your heart.

Go ahead, have an affair (with your spouse)

rekindle romanceOnce the rush of falling in love, the anxiety and thrill of finding out its shared, once it’s gone, if you’re human you may be tempted to feel it again.

Go ahead. Just feel it again with your spouse.

I lavished my fiance with 1,000 little details to show her my love. Once she was conquered, I turned my energies to other conquests. I didn’t mean to abruptly turn off the romance. Actually, I thought she would understand. Actually, I thought she would be proud of my next achievements.

Women, it would seem, don’t work that way. After 1,000 signs of affection, they want a steady diet. And that’s sometimes tough for us men to remember. Please try to understand: most men turn into ogres out of ignorance; honest, we’re not con men. It’s just our hardware. Once a trophy is attained, we look for the next trophy: in business, sports, wherever.

Guys, we need to do what we first did when our wives were girlfriends or fiances. Ladies, do the same: those oooo’s and ah’s you rained down on your man, bring them on again. Complaining and b witching won’t get anything good. A couple where both sides refuse to take the initiative to rekindle romance is headed for troubled waters.

So take the initiative: Strike a match. Don’t be surprised if your spouse doesn’t automatically warm up with just one. You may need to strike matches repeatedly before the fire rekindles. Give it time.

Hard to love

hard to love

image from truelovedates.com. I don’t own rights to this, and I’m not making any money on it.

Actually, it’s easy to love the Islamic State. What’s hard is to love your spouse.

As Christians, we are ordered to love our enemies. We may be enraged by their atrocities, but we can pray for them to get saved and wish Christianity for them.

The toughest thing is stomaching hurt from a person from whom we expect love. We don’t expect love from the Islamic State. Because we are surprised when a family member (or church family member) rejects us instead of loving us, it’s a rough road.

The lady who blackmailed me by falsely accusing me to the police is easy to love. I never expected anything from her. Her kid was in our school in Guatemala, and, desperate for money, she thought it would be easy to exploit the gringo. Despite her turning my life into a hellish nightmare for nine months, it was easy to forgive her.

But the people I love and expected to receive love from… Help me, Jesus.

Going on 24 years of marriage

marriage anniversaryIt’s one thing for young pups in love to send each other “forever” memes. We need to see older mature (?) married couples still in love. My wife and I celebrate 24 years this month. Praise God! It is not always easy but always worth it to work on it instead of throwing it away. My kids agree too.

Don’t get frustrated with the people around you

frustrated with peoplePeople are either a blessing or a lesson.

That is beautiful because it almost rhymes and expresses profound truth. So we should not despise the people who are lessons to us — the frustrating ones. It appears to me that is generally cute to despise others: “I don’t hate people. I just feel better when they’re not around,” one T-shirt says. And thus we families that fall apart. Since we can’t get along with others (we are unwilling to work at building relationships and blame others, not ourselves), we wind up with loneliness.

This is my plea for you to work at relationships, to restore, to forgive, and to give without expecting in return. Demolition is much easier than construction. To tear down feels pleasurable. But the rubble left is no fun. It is better to build, even if it is costly. Build your family, your friendships, your church.

To forgive others is to become a Christian

forgiveness
Even unbelievers admire Jesus. From the excruciating agony of the cross, he uttered these words about his crucifiers: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

It is another testament to the veracity of the crucifixion story. That unschooled fishermen could concoct such a counter-intuitive and unnatural denoument is the more unbelievable story that atheists buy into. Remember Peter’s natural reaction was to cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear to defend his Lord. All of the disciples expected Jesus to throw off the hated Roman domination and set up an earthly kingdom to the style of David. That things worked out completely so unexpected attests to the truth of the story.

So Jesus is our example of forgiving. I believe we become Christians when we forgive. And when we become Christians, as the years pass, we — I — need to continue to forgive. It is never easy, whether the offense be small or big. Especially as the offense gets bigger. I’m not trying to be glib. It may be an internal struggle requiring all of our effort, this difficult task of forgiving.

No, I’m not throwing stones at people struggling with forgiveness. Really, I’m trying to encourage you to continue trying to forgive.

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Forgive

forgiveness

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Don’t ignore

marriage

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Patience

patience

The need for beauty — and prayer

from pinterest

from pinterest

The reason why Instagram, Pinterest and other photo-hosting sites are popular is because people crave beauty. I consider observing beauty a basic urge, on par with receiving love.

When I was a literature major, I hungered for a good book, one with jeopardy, three-dimensional characters, and a reasonable but surprising denouement. Above all else, it must evoke meaningful themes that leave reflection lingering.

This is why I pray. I am pursuing the happy ending to the senseless chaos in the lives of people around me. You can watch a drama.

from pinterest

from pinterest

You can admire an art. You can take pictures.

Or you can create living art, the transformation of lives freed from the dungeon of lostness, liberated to the thrill of love, purpose and family found only in God. Some snap photos, others brandish brush, I bow my head.

Broke girls as praying girls

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

Being broke is good — for prayer.

I often rued the crushing mortgage that crowded my prayer time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful just to pray for souls and not have to worry about dollars? Alas, now I no longer have such mind-numbing payments — and now (I’m ashamed to admit) it’s hard to raise the temperature of my prayers.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

Don’t despair the problem driving you to your knees! Worse is flatlining! The Salvation Army’s founder went so far as to say he wanted his workers in debt to guarantee they would constantly pray!

When the answer does not immediately come, there is a need for patience. Don’t stress out, burn out or flame out. Stick to prayer. God is answering!

I haven’t seen the “Two Broke Girls,” the

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

latest drivel from Hollywood. I only know that being broke — whether you’re two girls, three guys, or a ministerial family — has a flip side.

Praying again

People don't stay too "long" with prayer. Pic from Pinterest

People don’t stay too “long” with prayer. Pic from Pinterest

It’s not that He prayed imperfectly. Jesus wanted to show us the supreme importance of persisting in prayer. Don’t quit; the answer’s coming!

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored – Mark8:25 NIV. The first time Jesus prayed, the healing was partial. Not because he couldn’t pray right the first time. No.

He wanted to show what he taught in the

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-7.

That parable is unusual because most lack explicit interpretations. But Luke 18:1 says: Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Is there anything faster than people giving up on marriage, a diet, and prayer? You ought to hang with all three because good will result!

Once a failure, always a…

72409506479213917_hXOrEUnr_cSeven failures in a row do not make you a failure.

Just ask George Washington. He lost seven successive battles but won the war. He was voted president of the newly formed United States of America. His revolution inspired freedom movements among colonies in both Americas (North and South).

imagesDid he kick himself for mucking up when he became famous for retreating? Did he grovel with feelings of inadequacy? I don’t know. What I do know is that he continued fighting until he won. Place no time limits on God. If things don’t work out well now, they may later. Don’t despair, just keep plugging away!

Every time you fail, you’re one step closer to the formula of success!

The beetle curl

9360260-woman-smiling-showing-yellow-flowers-isolated-on-white-background-beautiful-fresh-young-mixed-race-aMy friend goes into a beetle curl. A search engine optimization genius, he nonetheless has not met with financial success — yet. There are so many things he could do to promote his business that he doesn’t know which to do. Failure has hounded him. Worse of all, it hounds him in his mind. Depression descends on him, and he gets in bed, unable to move.

Pic from Pinterest

Pic from Pinterest

Pic Naokihan

Pic Naokihan

Yeah, I know exactly what he’s going through. I WAS a successful missionary. Not anymore. Now I can’t seem to hit the mark here in the United States. After 16 years of being out of the country, it would appear I am defunct. Sometimes, I just want to go into the beetle curl.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

Here’s the lessons if you ever  feel like that:

1) Keep doing right things, even though everything screams to you that it’s not working.

2) Find someone who can speak encouragement to you. Shut out negativity.

rockettopad3) Confess positive words over yourself. Believe in yourself. (You might as well do it; no one else will do that in this pernicious world.) Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue. What you say about you becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy..

From Laurie Coombs

From Laurie Coombs

4) Drink coffee! No joking! Eat balanced diet. Exercise. Let sunlight in. Read uplifting material. Listen to uplifting music. Watch inspiring movies. Etc.

5) When all else fails, go ahead and go into the beetle curl. Sleep a bunch. Things will look better after rest!

Helpless, but not hopeless

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

You feel like an cornered animal. You want your parents to stop fighting, and there is nothing you can do. You want your husband to be the good father your kids need, and he continues unfaithful or abusive. You have cancer.

Americans love — no, need — to have everything under control. What do you do when life spins out of control? Frustration boils over. How do you keep sane in insane circumstances? How do you tolerate intolerable acts?

I was falsely accused by an extortionist in Guatemala. It was a “big bad gringo takes

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

advantage of a helpless Guatemalan” scenario. I was very much afraid I would be sent to jail, but since the accusations were utterly false, I would not capitulate to the extortion (If he pays $—-, I will drop the charges).

I fasted four days a week. I went to bed afraid the cops would come and get me. I woke up thinking the cops would pick me up.

369787819373451012_bQuSJOKx_bWell, I got a lawyer. God defended me. Innocent I was, and I was found innocent.

Don’t run away screaming. Don’t cut your wrist. Don’t intern yourself in a mental institution. You need something to hold on to when your world tumbles down like the proverbial house of cards.

We Christians hold on to God. He is a friend and a lover. When everything you always wanted becomes everything you always feared, God will sustain you if you flee to him. You may be helpless to change unchangeable circumstances, but hopeless you are not.

I’m the Q. She’s the U.

IMG_1706

With the whole family

With the whole family

No resume polishing here.

I couldn’t have been the 16-year missionary without Dianna — she’s the heroine. She’s given unconditional support through 22 years of marriage and ministry. She’s tightened the belt. She’s shouldered burdens. She’s always IMG_0963had a good attitude.

Since we got back to the States, SHE HAS WORKED to support me while I continue to minister. More than a few would call me (and it hurts) a flake, a loafer.  I pursue the dream while she pursues the paycheck. (Working in ministry usually implies sacrifice. For every mega pastor abusing the system with an eye-popping salary, there are 10,000 pastors living at poverty level just to help people, but they don’t get the press.)

IMG_0920I’m the Q and Dianna’s the U. Without her, I’m completely useless. She’s the other half orange that makes me a whole orange (as they say in Guatemala). Any applause for me must be deflected her way.

This tribute also seeks to be an exhortation: Pastors, may the New Year bring more appreciation from you for your wife.

Reinvent yourself

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

Has life been beating you up?

Has life been beating you up?

I was something of a Christian cop. I actually believed it was my job to ease people back to the right path if they took one false step. I wasn’t really popular. More accurately, people were riled, and they almost expelled me from ministry.

I needed to change, to evolve, to retool. I didn’t need some computer-aided enhancements; I needed major plastic surgery.

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Politicians reinvent themselves if they lose an election and reformulate for another try. It takes a lot of gut-wrenching soul-searching. Basically, you look at yourself and — instead of justifying your actions, which comes natural to everyone all the time — you look critically in the mirror. You take out a machete and begin hacking away. Then you CHANGE.

This metamorphosis makes every tissue in your soul shudder. This coming year — instead jotting down flimsy

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

halffull“resolutions” that get jettisoned shortly after takeoff — go from worm to butterfly.

Your marriage needs it. Your ministry. Your kids need to see a totally different you. Your boss is giving you just one last chance. You’re going to be responsible. Patient. Kind. Unselfish. Not angry. Whatever. You CAN do it.

Well, my popularity rating has shot up. I don’t think I’m the favorite person in the church, but I’m no longer the Mr Scowlface. I encourage you for 2013, make drastic change.

The real reason…

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

… you didn’t get so many gifts this year, is not the recession.

May the gift of laughter — as well as the gift of gratitude — be with you this year. Merry Christmas!

(That pesky NRA!)

 

Once you start, how do you stop?

The man behind the MustardSeedBudget ravenously devouring Christmas cookies.

The man behind the MustardSeedBudget ravenously devouring Christmas cookies.

IMG_1727These cookies my daughter bakes are soooo good. I never eat them; I flee them; they’re dangerous. But she insists that I must try. Reluctantly, I relent. They have more than chocolate chips: marshmallows and crackly red and green sugar crystals. Needless to say, the exquisite ecstasy produced instantaneous addiction. I threatened to NOT stop with the broken cookies. I would need a 12-step program to break off gobbling them up

I bet my friends of the photo blogs could take a much better picture of these delights.

I bet my friends of the photo blogs could take a much better picture of these delights.

One menacingly look from Rebekah was enough to deter me. When she was younger, she obeyed me. It’s biblical. But now that she is 16 years old, I have to obey her. No one warned me this switcheroo would happen. She’s enough for anyone to go cold turkey. As Rob’s friends know well, you don’t mess with Rebekah.

IMG_1730Becky has been making me feel less Grinch-like. When I was missionary in Guatemala, I was a gringo. But now, I’m a Grinch. Making the transition from belt-tightening missions to spendthrift USA has not been intuitive. She plays Christmas carols incessantly and prevailed on my wife to get a Christmas tree. So the effects have been to put me in the mood. And now, I just wanna wish everybody a Merry Christmas! My Savior was born (probably not on this date), and He could be your Savior too!

I guess I had better read my morning blog about exercise, now that these tantalizing temptations are beckoning. Where's Rebekah? I need to sneak another one!

I guess I had better read my morning blog about exercise, now that these tantalizing temptations are beckoning. Where’s Rebekah? I need to sneak another one!

Maybe we should report those cookies to DEA. You might be dreaming of a white Christmas, but I’m dreaming about green and red sugar crystals.

Don’t pray small

treeOften, the struggling pastor goes only for subsistence. He prays for just enough to pay bills and keep the church open. It’s true that God takes us through years of skinny cows, but He never wanted us to succumb to unbelief. He tells us to pray believing for ever bigger things. We fail to pass the test when we scale down our prayer requests, as if we ask too much, or as if God doesn’t want to give us. Bigger is in His interest because His kingdom grows. So go for something outrageously huge next prayer!

What do we need libraries for???

These are this year’s students.

Not this year, but last, I had a class in which no one had ever been to the library. Everything is on Internet, right?

They assured me I was wasting their time. Nonetheless, to the library I took them, and the poor librarian had the devil’s day trying to persuade them that more information is actually in books. (You’d think she were describing cave paintings from the reaction of those kids.)

Add some color to your drab life!

So here’s the college-preparatory secret: to do real research, you’ll have go to the library. Good ol’ wiki doesn’t cut it. There actually is stuff worth learning that requires you to get off your bu** — um, bottom — and pay a buck for the bus. You’d be surprised what you’ll find when you break out of your comfort zone.

You’ll be surprised what you find in the depths!

You might discover there’s worthwhile stuff in the Bible. Yeah, like how to reach maximum happiness (have a successful marriage, for example!) in what they used to call the “Good Book.” Nowadays, they call it the “Hate Book,” I think.

Don’t hate the Bible! It’s still good and got great stuff useful for your life here on Earth! And, yes, it also talks about life after Earth, in case you’re interested! Break out of your comfort zone and crack the Bible today! Read a bit. Ask God to give you the revelation as to what it means. Start with Mark; it’s the story of the Main Dude in the whole Bible.

Happy reading!

 

What’s the greatest feeling?

Photo thanks to PatriciaDDrury

On the verge of my wedding, an older friend told me the three happiest moments in life were: marriage, the birth of child, and becoming a grandparent.

Harrison Sommer, former a trial lawyer, opined that the greatest feeling is relief. When he wins, he gushes relief — he will get paid; the stress and uncertainty is over.

Photo thanks Climb St. Louis

I vote for forgiveness. It is something like all of the above-mentioned emotions.

Being forgiven is a part of love, more mature than falling in love, more undeserved than  having a baby or a grandchild. Not everyone who feels love, experiences this subgroup of special love called forgiveness.

It is a compounded relief. Relief is when you’re sweating it out to see if you get it. With forgiveness, you simply don’t stand a chance to get it, but you get it anyhow.

I have been forgiven by my wife. And that is how we are still married today, 22 years later. Anyone can fall in love. Anyone can leave (married) love to go experience the immature rush once again, thinking that’s all there is to love. Not just anyone gets the special privilege of forgiveness and getting a chance to continue with the choice of your youth.

Of course, God’s forgiveness on mankind, available instantly, is the most powerful. If you haven’t yet experienced it, by all means, do so today. He sent Christ to the cross in order to forgive us our sins. All we need do is ask.

 

Just pull the plug — don’t

Success depends on putting up with interminable outrages.

Dash the the notion that success is 99% perspiration, etc. — hackneyed axiom.

People fail at marriage because they can’t take it anymore — only to remarry and have similar or new intolerable problems. People quit church because of ill-treatment  — only to find new roughness at another, or worse, stop going altogether.

But success at personal relationships — which accounts for probably 90% of our true happiness — depends on the ability to overlook and/or forgive offenses. This life ability is not taught in our schools or lauded in our culture, which values only genius and has the patience of a subatomic particle.

The Bible, widely discredited in today’s world, has incredible wisdom for us nevertheless that, if we could open our minds enough to ignore the nay-sayers for just a little, would help us in the area we most need. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE… – Gal. 5:22 NIV. After these greats (love, joy, peace) comes the much-maligned, oft-overlooked quality of patience. If we could have more patience, we would stop blowing up our lives.

Calling it quits is no solution. It’s running away. It doesn’t solve any thing. We need to recover the stick-to-itiveness of previous generations. America became great in part because of perseverance, not the current-day cry-baby syndrome.

So what do you call a person who doesn’t put up with trash from anyone? Answer: lonely.

Clumsy prayers

Now happily married for 22 years.

I had three girlfriends. They broke my heart.

Then I had two girlfriends — at the same time. I broke their hearts. I think I was trying to get some kind of weird revenge, unconsciously. But I didn’t feel good about it. As a Christian — a lukewarm one — I knew that what I was doing was wrong. So either way, whether my heart got broken, or I broke hearts, I felt bad, really bad.

With our daughter

Finally something good happened. I got disgusted with the whole darn dating scam and quit totally. I prayed: God, I don’t want to have anything to do with girlfriends anymore. Just drop down from the Heaven my wife so that one day I’ll open my door and there she’ll be. The prayer contained more bitterness than faith.

The whole family today

A year and a half later, I opened my door, and there was Dianna. How she wound up there is a story for another blog. Clumsily, I had stumbled on a truth: You can trust God even for the finding of the ultimate match-up. Also: Prayers don’t have to be perfect. Clumsy prayers are better than no prayer.