Sometimes you have to laugh. I don’t normally laugh at comic strips…or share them…but something about these seemed funny at time so I decided to share them. Sometimes you just need a smile. The picture was in the same email…and what’s not to love about it? Hope they produce some afternoon joy!
What/Who is making you laugh these days?
Imagine these two scenarios…
- One married couple is comprised of two emotionally healthy people…the marriage experiences problems, they seek help, they get better and the marriage restored and made better than ever.
- One married couple is comprised of one or two emotionally unhealthy people…the marriage experiences problems, the couple and/or one spouse seeks help, nothing changes, and the marriage remains in trouble.
I wish I could say these two scenarios were unusual, but they are common for what I see on a regular basis. I have seen so many marriages struggle because one or both spouses is dealing with unresolved emotional baggage he or she brings into the marriage.
Here’s the point: All marriages have trouble at times, but building a healthy marriage ultimately takes two healthy people. If your marriage is in trouble, consider the emotional health of each spouse. People who are individually dealing with issues such as past hurts, broken relationships, damaged emotions, abuse, or personal loss, will have a harder time building a strong relationship until their own emotions heal.
If that’s your situation; if your emotional health has been severely damaged, get the help you need before you expect to heal your marriage. Working on your own emotional health may greatly improve your marriage!
Are you married to someone emotionally unhealthy? How has it impacted your marriage?
Here’s a quick message to my two boys. Jeremy and Nate are 21 and 18 years old. (This picture is a few years old, but it’s one of my favorites.) Jeremy just graduated from college last week. Nate finishes his first year of college next week. They are tremendous young men, but I realize they have some incredible opportunities ahead and I don’t want them to miss anything God has for them, especially not because they were unprepared. I wish someone had given me this advice when I was their age. (Perhaps you need to hear it as well.)
I’ve messed up many times in life…
Please learn from my mistakes…
I’m not perfect now, but at least I’m headed in the right direction…
I wish I had started this path earlier in life…
Don’t wait to build your character, discover your life purpose, and chase your dreams…
Head your life early in the direction you want your life to eventually end…
Do you need that encouragement today?
I’m curious: At what age did you start heading your life in the direction you ultimately want to go?
Read a letter I wrote to each of my boys HERE and HERE.
I am tired of watching marriages fall apart. One thing that breaks my heart is when two wonderful people allow temptation to overtake them and fall into sin, such as adultery or pornography. I wish I could say it was rare, but it happens every day. I have seen and believe that marriages can be fully restored from these times and even become model marriages after them, but the goal should be to keep either spouse from reaching this point.
While this is not a fool proof answer, one of the leading struggles I know of for men and women is when there is no one is involved or interested enough in their private affairs to challenge them as he or she starts to stray. Most affairs, for example, don’t start in one day. They occur over time as a person’s guard is let down and they ease into the temptations that exist for all of us.
Here’s the bottom line of this post:
Men need to be accountable to a few other men and women need to be accountable to a few other women. They need someone with the freedom to speak truth into his or her life and challenge them in love when there are concerns. As much as my wife tries and desires to understand me, she’ll never fully understand the heart and mind of a man; just as I will never fully understand her heart and mind. This is true of every marriage. (It’s also why more women responded negatively to THIS POST about how I protect my marriage.)
I have often heard it theorized that King David may have never given into the temptation with Bathsheba if he had still had the close relationship with Jonathan in his life. I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly would not have hurt.
Men and women that don’t see this as an issue are only fooling themselves. Quit playing games with your marriage and pretending you are stronger than you are. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Do you have accountability built into your life? If not, do you dismiss the need, are you afraid to invite it, or have you not found the person to hold you accountable?
In April, 2010, my father peacefully passed from this earth into the presence of His Savior. His battle with cancer got the best of him and He gave up his fight and entered his eternal rest. I’m thankful he no longer has unbearable pain.
My dad would readily admit that he has made many mistakes in his life. We could pretend those days never happened, but the fact is that his alcoholism caused many scars in his life and in the lives of those he loved. He spent many years trying to overcome those days.
Because of his faith in the person of Jesus Christ, my dad finished his earthly life as a new man. He had been sober for many years and he and my mother were very happily married. He loved his children and wanted nothing more than to be with them. His grandchildren just think of him as Pa Pa, with no personal knowledge of years gone by. My father was active in church, loved to share Scripture with others, and would help anyone who needed a hand. At the funeral, I was overwhelmed hearing what a “good man” my father was from so many people.MSometimes we don’t know a person’s impact until they are gone. (That seems sad, but it’s true.)
Perhaps that is what the writer of Ecclesiastes meant in Chapter 7, verse 1, which says, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” I have learned from watching my dad’s life that finishing is better than starting and that finishing well by loving God and others is the end goal of life. My father was truly prepared to die.
When I meet with people who have made mistakes in life in my role as a pastor, I am always less concerned with where they have been or what they have done wrong. I am always more concerned with where they want to go in life and how dedicated they are to get there. My dad is an example of someone that wanted to end well. I believe his legacy will continue to prove he achieved his goal.
Love you dad! Thanks for paving a good path for others to follow. Give Jesus a hug for me!
Are you prepared to die? Do you have a personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ?
My youngest son Nate is in Chicago and we are bringing him home once again this weekend for a funeral. This time for the funeral of my father. I thought his thoughts were worth sharing today:
I have a paper due tomorrow morning at 8, so I should probably be working on that… but there’s not too many things I dislike more than writing those.
This year has by far been the most difficult year of my life. I’ve had to go home 3 times for 3 different funerals, one of which for a very close friend. Mixing all of those emotions with the emotions of being homesick in general has been interesting. At the beginning of my first semester I sensed God trying to teach me to trust in Him with every aspect of my life, and unfortunately I’ve continued trusting myself instead of Him.
I think learning to trust God completely is the most important thing that any Christian could do. Imagine what would happen if every believer truly started living by faith in every arena of life.
It’s hard. I really suck at it. Instead of spending time with Him I sit on facebook and write blog posts..
Trust God. What does that mean exactly… I don’t know. But I know God’s real and has a real plan. The goal if figuring out how to stop holding on to my life and surrender it to God, but again, I don’t really know what that means or looks like.
It’s amazing how unstructured this post is…
Can you identify with Nate?
Is trusting God completely a process for you as well?
What is the number one distraction in your life from fully trusting the God who loves you more than you could ever imagine?
Cheryl and I believe in date nights. We actually believe in date days and date weekends and date vacations. Obviously, with our children mostly grown, stretching dates over several days has become easier for us to do, but the point is we have made a practice of spending quality and quantity time together on a regular basis all of our marriage. It’s perhaps been a key to protecting and growing our relationship.
I often hear objections from couples that they can’t afford to go out much. I understand. Babysitting alone is expensive. One idea I know several couples do is to partner with other couples to share the responsibility of keeping kids while the other couple has a date night. Your children enjoy playing with other children and you get to have a date night without the expense of a babysitter.
As for the date itself, it doesn’t have to be expensive. The goal isn’t to spend a lot of money…the goal is to spend uninterrupted time together as a couple. I hope this post will encourage you to get creative in spending quality time together.
Here’s where you, the reader, can help other marriages.
What’s your cheapest and best date night idea? What are some ideas we may not have thought about yet? Share your suggestions as a comment so others can learn from you.
Could your marriage benefit from some couple time?
As a counselor and pastor, I have used many techniques to attempt the same. One of the best and easiest strategies to helping couples grow their marriage is to practice and apply these three terms to your marriage:
Learn how different each of you is from each other. God designed a man and a woman with different desires, needs and interests. Each spouse communicates differently, prefers life organized at a different pace, and handles disappointments and excitements differently. Spend quantity time identifying those differences.
(You can read more about the greatest needs of a man and a wife HERE and HERE.)
It is not enough to identify differences. Each spouse has unique expectations of what he or she expects from the marriage and the other spouse. These are the things required, in one spouse’s opinion, to make marriage work well. Spend quantity time identifying these expectations.
(You can read a post of similar thought process HERE.)
Your marriage needs continuous open dialogue. There should be a willingness to talk through each of the previous two terms throughout the marriage. Each spouse having different and have unique expectations is not wrong. That’s part of God’s design for marriage. Communicating those differences is one of the keys to making the marriage work well.
(Learn about communication in a marriage HERE.)
Most problems in a marriage begin as minor problems. The key to keeping the marriage strong and working through the problems is to address the problems while they are still small. If your marriage is experiencing minor problems, which you feel in your heart could become major if not addressed, then this post is for you. Even if your marriage is thriving now, but simply want to strengthen it, implementing these three terms may help.
Could using these three words help make your marriage stronger?
Have you heard the news? Cheryl and I are gaining a daughter! Our oldest son Jeremy asked Mary to be his wife last week. (In a very romantic way that would make most of us men hate him. He set the standard high.) They will marry sometime next year and we couldn’t be more excited.
If we were selecting a daughter or a daughter-in-law, we would have chosen someone just like Mary. She has a natural mothering heart wired to care for others. Mary is beautiful, smart, kind, and compassionate. She loves children, puppies, and people. Mary is patient with others, including Jeremy, Nate and me when we tease her. (Which is one reason I always wanted a daughter!) Mary is respectful to Cheryl and me, and has become a great friend to Cheryl. Best of all, Mary loves Jesus with all her heart. She truly is a remarkable young woman.
Jeremy and Mary have dated six years, and we have known her family for many years, so we’ve watched her grow into the fine young lady she is today. Mary completes Jeremy perfectly. We often comment that Jeremy is a better person when Mary is around; and he seems to enjoy life better. Their equal heart for missions and ministry welcomes God to use them throughout their marriage.
Mary, you should know that Cheryl and I are going to compete for the in-laws of the year award…every year! We enjoy our time with our children, but we want to encourage you two as you plan your life together, without getting in your way. We are always here if you need us, and just as we’ve told our boys (and you), you are never an interruption to our days. We are always here for you!
Welcome to the family Mary! You are dearly and completely loved!
Good choice Jeremy! You make us proud!
I was encouraged recently reading a passage in 1 Samuel 20:18-23, 35-42. If you know the story, it’s about David’s relationship with King Saul and about his friendship with Jonathan.
These specific verses deal with the question of whether the king wanted to kill David. Jonathan, the king’s son and David’s best friend, agreed to a test to discern the king’s heart. As a sign to David, Jonathan would shoot arrows into the field where David was hiding and a little boy would retrieve them. If he shot the arrows close to the boy, David was safe. If he shot the arrows far beyond the boy, David was in danger.
It’s a great story and I hope you will read it again. My purpose of this post is not the main theme of the story; my focus is the little boy. We tend to read this story for the purposes of David and Jonathan, and while they are certainly central characters in God’s story, so was the little boy.
This little boy was innocent in the matter…he was just doing what he was asked to do. The boy apparently had no idea the importance of the role he was playing at the time in protecting the future king of the Israelites. The little boy, however, was a kingdom builder without knowing it. God used Him in a mighty way, just for being willing to follow through on an assignment.
Have you stopped lately to consider the importance you play in God’s story? You may see your role as minor…perhaps you work in the parking lot ministry…you help with set up or tear down each week…you shake hands…you sweep the floor…you push buttons so another person can talk…you invite your friends to attend church with you…you offer to, and really do, pray for people. It may seem “unimportant” to you, but in God’s eyes, you are playing a vital role in His Kingdom.
Regardless of what you think of your abilities or position, you have the potential to be an important part of carrying out God’s plan through your local church. Most churches couldn’t do what they do without the sacrifices of people like you. You have opportunities the pastors never have. You have value. You have impact. You can advance the cause of Christ, just through your obedience.
Be encouraged with your service!