I used to think I had my stuff together. Then I got married.
Marriage is great—but it rocked everything I knew. I quickly realized my basic goal in life, prior to getting married, was to simply remain undisturbed.
This “disruption” came suddenly and was disguised as a 5-foot-nothing Swedish-Filipino woman. When I decided I’d rather not live without her, I proceeded to ask her to marry me—that is, to officially invite someone who wasn’t me to be in my personal space for the rest of my life.
This decision introduced my most significant experiences and most challenging experiences—none of which I would trade for the world.
However, I wish I’d had a bit more insight on the front end of our marriage to help me navigate it all.
According to most research, more than 50 percent of people who say “I do” will not be sleeping in the same bed eight years from now. And though Scripture alludes to the fact that adultery and abuse may be reasons individuals might end a marriage, I’d be willing to bet that most challenges experienced in marriage are the result of unawareness. Most people—myself included—jump into marriage with suitcases full of misconceptions and bad theology, entirely unaware of the unique beauty and paradoxical intentions of marriage.
The following are three thoughts on marriage that friends and mentors have shared with me. I remind myself of them often in hopes of keeping this anomaly called marriage both enjoyable and healthy.
1. Marriage is not about living happily ever after.
Here’s the truth: I get annoyed at my wife. But this is more a reflection of me than her.
I’m intensely certain that nothing in life has ever made me more angry, frustrated or annoyed than my wife. Inevitably, just when I think I’ve given all I can possibly give, she somehow finds a way to ask for more.
The worst part of it all is that her demands aren’t unreasonable. One day she expects me to stay emotionally engaged. The next, she's looking for me to validate the way that she feels. The list goes on—but never ventures far from things she perfectly well deserves as a wife.
Unfortunately for her, deserving or not, her needs often compete with my self-focus. I know it shouldn’t be this way, but I am selfish and stubborn and, overall, human.
I once read a book that alluded to the idea that marriage is the fire of life—that somehow it’s designed to refine all our dysfunction and spur us into progressive wholeness. In this light, contrary to popular opinion, the goal of marriage is not happiness. And although happiness is often a very real byproduct of a healthy relationship, marriage has a far more significant purpose in sight. It is designed to pull dysfunction to the surface of our lives, set it on fire and help us grow.
When we’re willing to see it this way, then the points of friction in our marriages quickly become gifts that consistently invite us into a more whole and fulfilling experience of life.
2. The more you give to marriage, the more it gives back.
Over the past year, a few friends and I have had an open conversation about the highs and lows of marriage—specifically how to make the most of the high times and avoid the low ones. Along the way, we happened upon a derailing hypothesis that goes something like this: If one makes their husband or wife priority number one, all other areas of life benefit.
It’s a disorienting claim. Disorienting, because it protests my deeper persuasion that success as an entrepreneur, or any professional, requires that career takes the throne of my priorities and remain there for, at the very least, a couple of years.
However, seeing that my recent pattern of caring about work over marriage had produced little more than paying bills and a miserable wife, I figured giving the philosophy a test drive couldn’t hurt.
For 31 days, I intentionally put my wife first over everything else, and then I tracked how it worked. I created a metric for these purposes, to mark our relationship as priority, and then my effectiveness in all other areas of my life on the same scale, including career productivity and general quality of life.
To my surprise, a month later, I had a chart of data and a handful of ironic experiences to prove that the more you give to marriage, the more it gives back.
Notably, on the days my wife genuinely felt valued, I observed her advocating for me to invest deeply in to my work. She no longer saw our relationship and my career pursuits as competitors for my attention, and as she partnered with me in my career, I have experienced the benefits of having the closest person in my life champion me.
Of course, marriage requires sacrifice. And sometimes it will feel as if it takes and takes. However, when we return marriage to its rightful place in our priorities, it can quickly turn from something we have to maintain and sacrifice for into the greatest asset to every other layer of our lives.
3. Marriage can change the world.
John Medina, the author of Brain Rules and a Christian biologist, is often approached by men looking for the silver bullet of fathering. In one way or another, they all come around to asking, “What’s the most important thing I can do as a father?”
Medina's answer alludes to a surprising truth.
In my previously mentioned experiment, I measured the effect that making my marriage priority number one had on different areas of my life. One of those areas was my 16-month-old son’s behavior.
What I found in simply charting my observations was that the majority of the time, my child’s behavior was directly affected by the level of intention I invested in my marriage.
Re-enter John Medina, the Christian biologist. After years of biological research and several books on parenting conclusions, what is his answer to the question, “What’s the most important thing I can do as a father”?
“Go home and love your wife.”
Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, the authors of Babywise, say it this way: “A healthy marriage creates an infused stability within the family and a haven of security for a child in their development process.” They go on to sum up their years of research by saying, “In the end, great marriages produce great parents.”
The point is that marriage has a higher goal than to make two people happy or even whole. Yes, the investment we make into our marriage pays dividends for us. But, concluded by Medina and his colleagues, the same investment also has significant implications for our family, our community and eventually our culture.
So men, women, the next time you find yourself dreaming about living significantly or succeeding in your career or being a better parent than yours were to you, do the world a favor: Go home and love your wife. Go home and and love your husband.
This post is written by Tyler Ward. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/3-things-i-wish-i-knew-we-got-married
BE A MAN.
Men and women in lasting relationships share four fundamental connections: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. However, men and women establish these connections in different order and give them different priority.Men build monogamy upon a foundation of physical connection.
By that, I don’t mean touching, necessarily. Physical connection involves much more. Men need to be physically present with a woman in order to bond with her emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. He wants to be near her, to share time and experiences with her, to see her face and hear her voice, even before touching her for the first time. Physical connection is both primal and primary, which explains why men commonly dismiss long-distance relationships as futile, like having no relationship at all. This is not to suggest that men are fundamentally shallow; they simply experience the deeper aspects of intimacy by means of their physical senses.
Because physical connection comes first, physical connection remains foundational to intimacy. According to Willard Harley, author of the now-classic His Needs Her Needs
, the top three relationship necessities for men are sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, and a pleasing appearance—all sensory in nature.Women, on the other hand, build monogamy on a foundation of mental connection
, which is no less primal or primary than a man’s need to experience his mate through the five senses. In the beginning, when a woman is drawn to a man she finds interesting, she wants to know all about him, his character, his ideas, his interests, his goals. Being in his presence merely serves this need, but letters and long discussions by phone will do just as well. Generally speaking, a woman can tolerate a long-distance romance much better than a man, as long as she continues to experience a rich mental connection with her lover.
It should come as no surprise then, that this mental connection remains foundational to a woman’s experience of intimacy. According to Harley, she needs affection, conversation, and honesty/openness more than anything. While men automatically assume that affection means touching, women think of affection in terms of its mental and emotional significance. A tender note or an unexpected call “just because” are no less meaningful than a hug or a peck on the cheek.
In addition to affection, a wife needs conversation and honesty/openness from her husband. This mental connection to her husband is crucial to her sense of well-being.
To feel secure, a wife must trust her husband to give her accurate information about his past, the present, and the future. What has he done? What is he thinking or doing right now? What plans does he have? If she cannot trust the signals he sends . . . she has no foundation on which to build a solid relationship.
A woman experiences intimacy at its deepest levels when she enjoys complete access to her man’s mind. She feels closest and most secure when she can trust that he holds no secrets from her and when he freely shares his unfiltered, unedited thoughts with her. Even better when she enjoys exclusive access to his innermost self. So, when this connection is broken or violated, the fracture affects the entire foundation of her world.
The author of this post is Mark Gaither. The original post with comments can be found here: http://www.covenanteyes.com/2009/07/27/is-porn-the-same-as-adultery/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I was discouraged to say the least. Resting on a rock in the coolness of the night, I began to pray and look at the vast ocean of stars above my head. What was my purpose? Why was I here? I knew that God had more for me to do and experience but I was getting old. Much of my discouragement came from the fact that I knew I was getting old, and I had no sons to take care of my estate after my death. Call me old fashioned, but I just really thought it was important to pass on my possessions to the next generation.
As I rested and prayed, God revealed to me that I would be the father of many. I immediately thought of my age and my energy level. Even if this was true….how? My wife was past the age in which she could conceive a child (not to mention the lack of desire to take part in the “creative process”). I laugh about it now, because God has always been faithful to his word and I tend to listen to my fears. I was scared, confused and thought God was having a mental breakdown and needed a vacation. He promised me that day with a blood covenant of various animals. I suppose God knew something I didn’t know….like always.
Fast forward: God did what he said he would do. I found out, not only was God referring to my own blood line, but the promise He made also extended to people who embraced His son (very clever). Now, I have the opportunity to watch this story play out and I have made a couple observations about my “children”.
The one observation I can personally relate to has to do with God’s provision. Generation after generation has made the same mistake. No matter how many time God provides, we think that it was all a coincidence and God couldn’t possible do it again. We all know not to take God for granted, but this sentiment is taken so far to the extreme to the point where we don’t grant God the opportunity to show His power.
Finally, my children fail to remember that God can make future impossibilities a current reality. In the process our lives are changed and our capacity for deeper faith is increased. It is a difficult process to embrace, but pays infinite dividends if we choose to allow God to work.
Children, sometime soon, look into the sky and notice all the stars and realize something very important. God’s blessings are not limited and He hasn’t even scratched the surface with you.
This is a post written by Rev. DeCrastos. To see the original post go here: http://otherwordsdotnet.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/abrahams-journal/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
God can never be put into a box. When you think that a story is over or God has done all He can do in a situation, He reminds you that He has plans for us that we could never think, dream or even imagine.If you remember from the previous two posts,
there was a pastor and cattleman. The pastor lived a godly life. The cattleman lived life like Esau:
desiring to be the best, be the manliest, having the most and grabbing all you can from life because "you only go around once." He lived a life of sensuality. The cattleman wasn't a bad man, he just slightly missed the mark.
God was working in the cattleman's sons' lives. One of the cattleman's sons finally came to himself.
He had experienced heartache and sadness from his father, his siblings, his wives and his children. All of these heart wrenching experiences finally brought him to the point where he realized that the way he experiences life leads to moral, financial and spiritual bankruptcy.
This man became what God desired of him. He found comfort in being with the family of the pastor, visiting them frequently and enjoyed having them to his home. There was a real change in his heart.
There was a tenderness that he had never experienced before as he let God have more and more of his past, present and future.
Life continued to be difficult for the one cattleman's son. He still had the pain of his upbringing to deal with. Some of his behavior had become so automatic that he still found himself grabbing for two pieces of bread and challenging the pastor's sons in manliness, but now, he was listening when the Holy Spirit reminded him that he was a new man.
He still had to face his siblings and he worked hard to break down the Esau spirit
in their relationships. His own children, who experienced the pain of his lifestyle, finally were able to see that their father had truly changed. He was now working tirelessly to make up for lost time and become more of what God desired for him all along.
The cattleman's son's life is not over. His life is not what it should have been but it is becoming what it could have been. He learned an exciting principle in which he is applying to his life: it is never too late to do the right thing.
So, as we conclude this three-part story of living like Esau, I ask you for two things:
1) Will you take a moment and pray for this cattleman's son? Ask God to continue to mold this man into being the man of God that he can be.
2) Consider your own life. Do you live like Esau? Are you looking out for yourself and looking for the best, seeking sensuality and the immediate gratification of your desires?
If so, it is never too late to do the right thing.
Ask God to change you. Become the man that God knows you can be. BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
(Continued from yesterday)
As the sons of these two men grew up, they each went their respective ways, moving to various parts of the country. The difference was, the pastor's sons wanted to return to see their father.
The sons, all leaders in their own right in different parts of the country, enjoyed their father's advice, steadiness, humble strength and faith in God. The cattleman's sons did not want to see their father. In fact, they did their best to avoid him.
Unfortunately, when they would visit their father, it wasn't uncommon for the cattleman and his sons to physically as well as verbally fight each other. They would argue over cattle, land, money, food. The cattleman's sons also had trouble in staying married to their first wives. They and their children experienced the pain of separation, divorce, remarriage, anger, suspicion and the like.
So, now, we are getting to the end of our story. What happened to these two men?
These men chose different paths for themselves and their family experienced the consequences of these men's choices.
The cattleman died. He didn't experience a long illness. Just one day, he was no longer part of this earth. The world woke up one morning and he did not. The land and the cattle that he once owned were divided and sold. His sons avoided each other. The sensuality that the cattleman pursued, led to disjointed, isolated, marginally spiritual offspring. His children rarely got together. When they did, peace did not rule their relationships.
The pastor lived a long life. He outlived the cattleman by a good 20 years. His children stayed faithful to their spouses. Interestingly, the years after the cattleman died became very rich for the pastor. God's blessings increased exponentially.
God increased his faithfulness with abundance. The pastor enjoyed his children, his grandchildren and quite a few great-grandchildren. The pastor had made several, quiet, steady investments over the years and he found that he was experiencing the most financial success he had ever had. He needed nothing. God gave him all he needed and more.
More importantly, the pastor enjoyed the spiritual success of his progeny.
Several of them followed in his footsteps and went into full-time ministry. The other children became integral parts of their respective churches, supporting God's work both inside and outside the church. All became leaders in their community/profession. The pastor was able to see his heritage for several generations. God blessed him with the opportunity to see that his steadiness, and his pursuit of "God first" paid off with eternal rewards.
You see not only did this pastor and his progeny do well, but many of the people who were affected by his ministry over the years were blessed by this pastor's steadiness and quiet confidence in God's ability to care for his children.However, just when it seems like a story is over, God does something amazing. Just when you think you have God all figured out, He moves. Tomorrow we will discuss Esau Redeemed.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The Lord replied, 'My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.' Then Moses said to him, 'If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.'
God promised to be with Moses and to provide him with rest. But no doubt other people had made promises to Moses that were like God's promise. People had promised to be with him but had later abandoned him. So, Moses' fears were not completely vanquished when God promised to be present and to provide rest.
We are like Moses. We are facing a difficult journey. If God goes on ahead and waits for us at the destination, we will never make it. We need God to make the journey with us. We will need God every day. If God does not come, it would better not to go. The dangers are too great. The pain, too overwhelming. We will surely lose our way unless God comes as our guide.
Moses' prayer to God is a good model for us. It is not a sign of doubt or faithlessness to pray for what we need, even if our needs are things which God has already promised to provide. Praying for what we need is good communication. If we are afraid that God will not be faithful, we can share this with God. God will not be shocked. God will not punish. God understands that our capacity for trust has been damaged.
Honestly communicating our fears to God, will build our capacity for trusting God's promises. God has promised to be present with us. And God has promised to provide rest. We will need both to survive the transitions and changes that come with recovery.
Thank you, Lord, for the promise of your presence today.
If you will not go with me,
please don't send me.
Because I can't make it on my own.
The journey is a difficult one.
The path leads through deep valleys.
And, I am sure to lose my way
without your presence to comfort and guide.
Help me to rest today in your promises.
Help me to rest in your loving presence.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
Having just taken a 3-day break from posting about religious bad boys, we now are at RELIGIOUS BAD BOYS
- PART DEUX. The four bad boys this week are less dramatic in their presentation and it's a bit harder to ferret out their behavior but they can still be damaging to a church body.
The passive-aggressive religious bad boy has a negativistic or oppositional personality. He has many ambivalent and contradictory behaviors. In the church, this man may be chosen to chair a committee but may never get around to having meetings and misses deadlines.
There are two characteristics that are important to consider with this bad boy:
1) a time awareness that focuses on the present moment and deletes memory of past mistakes, ignoring the foresight required for planning, calculating risks, and anticipating upcoming threats to the church, and
2) a passive refusal to accept the instruction, discipline, and sacrifice in earning credentials for getting ahead in a culture that values greatly things such as college degrees and professional competency and licenses.
The passive-aggressive religious bad boy is essentially unwilling to choose a teacher or a friend from whom he can learn. He believes that he can pick up things from experience, on his own. He is willing to accept money and other favors from people in authority but unwilling to accept consultation, instruction, warning or admonition.
He carries a persistent mode of never having any good luck. If a specific situation does not turn out right, it is because other people have let him down, did not do what they said they would do, or were plainly not doing their job right. He is unwilling to be responsible for their own actions.
This bad boy is a "yes, but..." man. He may courteously agree that your ideas are good but then begins to point out all the hindrances one might encounter. Or he may quietly agree but then procrastinate, dawdle, forget, and finally miss out on the opportunity until it is too late. In other words, he lets life pass by default.
When the opportunity is past, he becomes morose and sullen can be impulsive, unpredictable and explosive. He then makes impulsive changes and drags his family and friends (and sometimes his church if he is a church leader) into surprising and dramatic changes. He may buy or sell property, or spend money inordinately which reveals his great impairment of judgment. How can the church help the bad boy?
Underlying his behavior is a fear of making a mistake, trying to be perfect but knowing that he cannot. Hence, he usually doesn't follow thru with decisions. To help him find confidence, we need to develop a program of close supervision over a period of time. He needs small successes that lead to larger successes.
This man needs to recognize the voice of God's Holy Spirit, learning to act upon these promptings immediately. We can lay a gentle but firm hand of encouragement on his shoulder and be a Barnabas, a person of encouragement.Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"...I shall be anointed with fresh oil"
The word used for "anoint" in the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament comes from the Greek word chrio.
This word originally denoted the smearing or rubbing of oil or perfume upon an individual.
For example, if a patient came to see a physician because of sore muscles, the physician would pour oil upon his own hands; then he would begin to deeply rub that oil into
the sore muscles of that patient. That penetrating application of oil would be denoted by the Greek work chrio.
So technically speaking, the word "anoint" has to do with the rubbing or smearing of oil upon someone else.
When you read the word "anoint" in the Bible, think not only of the oil, but of the hands of the Anointer. Oil was very expensive in Bible times; therefore, rather than tip the bottle of oil downward and freely pour it upon the recipient, a person would first pour the oil onto his hands and then apply it to the other person.
Let's consider this concept in the context of God anointing our lives. God Himself -- the Great Anointer -- filled His hands with the essence of His Spirit and then laid His mighty hands upon our lives, pressing the Spirit's power and anointing ever deeper into us. So when we speak of a person who is anointed, we are actually acknowledging the the hand of God is on that person.
If you would like a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit upon your life, you come before the Great Anointer! He alone can give you what you need. Open your heart to God, and allow Him to lay His hands upon your life in a new way.
This post is taken from SPARKLING GEMS FROM THE GREEK
(p. 363).BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Do you really believe that Jesus meant what He said? He died yesterday. Will He live again, tomorrow, just as He promised? Why did he die?
Let these kids tell you what Jesus meant: