“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” ~ Tolkien

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10

If I was to to tell you I had a life verse, this would be it. For as long as I can remember any time I saw the numbers 10:10 on a digital clock, ClockI would say this passage out loud. And it was these very words of Jesus which held despair and darkness at bay on the worst day of my life. I call this passage a defining Scripture; one which helps you know what is going on in your life at any given moment. It’s pretty simple too; if you have been stolen from, there is death or destruction in your life, then it is from the thief, aka the devil. If your life is rich and full, then it comes from Jesus. John 10:10 shows you who is behind every situation you face in life.

On April 6, 2010 my youngest son Noah in a moment of weakness took his own life. There were no warning signs, he made a decision (albeit a dumb one) and ended his life. In the hours following Noah’s death, I was faced with a choice; to turn from God or towards Him. It was during this time, standing by the trampoline my kids had spent countless hours on, I began to question God. As my questioning turned quickly into anger, I began a downward spiral into an abyss of darkness I had never before experienced. Doubt, confusion and anger began to fill my mind. It was just then as my thoughts were becoming darker, that a sliver of light broke through and I snapped out of it.

Recognizing the voice of God in my spirit, He brought John 10:10 back to my mind. As I stood there in my pain pondering it, the realization came to me about who was actually to blame for my son’s death; it was the devil and not God. As the light of this knowledge flooded my mind pushing back the dark thoughts of the enemy I stood up straighter and thanked God for saving me in that instant. From that moment on I was able to move forward and lead my family down the path towards recovery in the way He wanted. It’s taken years for my family to move from tragedy to healing but we would never had made it this far without God’s Word guiding us.

I’m nothing special, God doesn’t like me better than you, He wants to use Scripture the same way in your life, but you have to want it. You can do it, all you have to do is start reading the Bible, putting His Word into your heart. Had I not quoted John 10:10 to myself for so many years, I would never have been able to hear God speak it to me so clearly when it really mattered. You can do it, don’t wait, get into the Bible today and see how far God takes you!

Living in a story much larger than my own…won’t you join me? You Can Do It!

 

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The Uncharted Waters Of My Wife’s Soul Terrifies Me

It was our monthly John Wayne movie night, and as I sat watching “The Cowboys” with some of the guys from my church, my phone rang.  Answering it, I heard my wife sobbing as she asked me to hurry home because our little dog Midge had been carried away by an owl.

Being the man in charge, I asked one of my friends to finish the evening for me and to lock the church when the movie ended.  My kids were babysitting the kids of some of the men watching the movie, and I went to tell them what had happened before leaving to go be with their mom.

This night came a few months after the death of our youngest son, and the loss of Midge was more than my bride could bear at the moment.  As I entered the living room, Cheryl was in tears, and quite beside herself.  I did my best to console her, not really knowing what to do, I hugged her, telling her it would be alright, but my words felt hollow and ineffective.  I felt I should’ve done more, but didn’t have a clue what it should’ve been.

Truthfully, I’ve felt this way on more than one occasion.  For all the years we’ve been married, I still don’t know how to respond to my wife when she is upset.  My initial inkling is to get in there, identify the problem and fix it.  But when I do this, it usually makes matters worse.

There is a term in sailing called “uncharted waters”; which just means an area which has not been recorded, or located on a map, or plan.  There is an area in women’s souls which this perfectly describes.  It’s this need for you to hear what she says, listening to her heart and supporting her without trying to fix anything.  And navigating these waters can be treacherous and scary, regardless of how many times we enter them.

I’ve had this discussion while leading small groups over the years, and all of the ladies I’ve talked to have told me the same thing; we don’t want our husbands to fix our problems, we just want them to be present and to listen.  Jason Headley made a great video which illustrates what I’m saying, check it out:

It’s Not About The Nail

Believe me; this one thing about women baffles me.  I mean I really have no clue about understanding this process they go through, nor why it means so much for me to just listen.  For me, I want to isolate the problem, and then fix it.  I am learning however, regardless of how I think the situation should be resolved, now I try to just keep my mouth shut and let Cheryl talk, really listening to what she is saying.

The bottom line here is if something is important to her, then it should be important to me.  Even if I don’t understand why it’s important, it’s her heart I’m trying to care for, and if this means listening to her talk about the nail and not trying to figure out how to fix it, then so be it.

Really guys, if we are going to love our brides the way they need us to, we have to go into these uncharted waters from time to time, even if it terrifies us.

Living an honest and transparent life…

 

 

 

 

 

No Man Is A Failure Who Has Friends

Yesterday was a day of celebration for the family of some of my closest friends. It was the wedding day of their youngest daughter Ashley, and the ceremony was perfect and she was stunning in her wedding gown. As I was enjoying my morning coffee before leaving for the festivities, I was spending time looking through pictures on my Facebook page. As I clicked from picture to picture I began to reminisce about the things Ashley’s dad and I had done together. You see Terry and I were very good friends; more brothers actually than friends. He was the man I could go to with anything and everything, and I was this for him too. Ours was the picture of what a true friendship should be.

The reason I say “we were friends” is because he died and went to be with the Lord almost a year ago. It was a shock to say the least; it was sudden and totally unexpected. Now I won’t wax philosophical about his passing, because this is not the purpose of my blog tonight. I’m writing about friendship and what it means to be a friend. And I do know I will see him again one day. I guess this means we are still friends. Ha!

Back in May, I, along with six other friends of mine received a text from the bride to be, asking if we would be willing to stand in for her dad in some of the pictures and then dance with her in his place. To say I was honored is an understatement. “I answered back immediately my acceptance of her offer by replying, “Absolutely, I’d be honored to.”

Dancing with Ashely

With tears in our eyes as we danced yesterday, I told her how proud I was of her and the woman she has become, and how proud I knew her dad was of her. This was an easy thing to tell her too, because Terry and I had talked about her often and he always beamed when her name came up in conversation. My friend loved his two girls and was just about the proudest dad I’ve ever known. No matter what was going on in Heather or Ashley’s lives he could never say enough good things about them. It was one of the qualities I loved the most about Terry. He was such an awesome cheerleader for his kids.

Rainbow

As we celebrated the ceremony with Ashley and Jason, off to the left of us all in the sky a beautiful rainbow appeared. I couldn’t help but think about how Terry probably asked God to do a little something special for his baby girl since it was her special day. It is exactly the type of thing he would do too. Yesterday was just an awesome day; one I won’t soon forget.

While yesterday was my good friend’s daughter’s day, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about how much this friendship we took the time to cultivate has meant to both of our families. It may have started out as a mutual love of movies and pop culture, but grew into a brotherhood which has enabled our two families to become one. And that my friends is a good thing, and I am eternally grateful for it too.

The Peasant Queen

She was born to be royal, but you’d never know it by he way he spoke to her. Jane dreamed her whole life about the day her prince would arrive and sweep her off her feet. On the day she met Aaron, her heart leapt for joy when he talked about the things he wanted to do in his life, because they mirrored the dreams she wanted to pursue as well.

Their courtship wasn’t a long one and within a few months his romantic proposal in the countryside caused her to fall even more in love with the man of her dreams. Soon the two were joined by their family and friends in a celebration of their love and as her father walked her down the aisle towards her waiting knight she couldn’t help but think about how perfect her life was.

A few months later as she was dusting one of the wedding pictures on her mantle, she noticed the smile on Aaron’s face in one of them and it made her wonder what why he rarely smiled now. “It must be some I’m doing, because he looks so happy there,” she thought.  Holding back a tear, she dabbed at her eyes to keep the moisture from falling down her cheeks and continued cleaning.

One night at a party with friends, she watched as he laughed and joked with his buddies. It seemed as if the man she married had returned, but on the drive home afterwards when she mentioned how much fun the party had been, he was sullen and had very little to say in response. Later, as she was removing her makeup and getting ready for bed, he asked why it was taking her so long? “Hurry up Jane! I’ve got to get up early tomorrow, so I ain’t got all night to wait for sex you know!”

This became her life; work all day at her job, come home and make dinner, cleaning up the mess and taking care of his laundry, while he sat in his chair like a king on his throne watching television. As the months passed, the words he spoke to her, when he actually did speak were always harsh and filled with comments about how she had changed, didn’t do things around the house very well and wasn’t the same girl he’d married.

After many years of unhappiness; which involved Aaron ruling the roost with an iron fist and speaking mostly hateful things to Jane, she finally made the decision, packed up her belongings and left him. Dazed and confused as she drove towards her parent’s house she came to the conclusion Aaron must have been right all those years when he said she was just lazy and just didn’t know how to manage a house very well. And instead of living as his queen in a happily ever after story, she left him feeling like the peasant he saw her as.

This story, while a work of fiction, is one which happens around the world on a daily basis. Men speaking harsh words, never thinking about what they are doing to their brides. If men want their brides to act like queens, they need to stop talking to them as if they’re peasants. What I mean by this, is your wife responds to the words you say to her. There are so many marriages that endure abuse; it may not be physical, but is emotional and is just as bad. 

Men who treat their wives this way are really shooting themselves in the foot. The man who belittles his wife or puts her down in an attempt to motivate her to do things the way he wants her to do them is not loving her well at all. Women respond to the words we say guys; both good and bad. Speaking kind words always go further than when you speak harshly.

Many years ago when  I was first married, I didn’t like some of the ways things were going in my fledgling relationship with Cheryl. I decided my bride needed to make some changes, so I set out to change her. I started looking in the Bible for things a Godly woman was supposed to be and wrote them down in a little notebook which I then carried in my shirt pocket and read out loud to myself several times a day. Things like, Proverbs 31:10 which says, Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Then I would personalize it by saying, Cheryl is a virtuous and capable wife, she is more precious than rubies to me.

I found about fifteen to twenty Scriptures I felt would make Cheryl a better wife to me, you know things I was expecting God to change about her in order to make my marriage better. I’m not saying my motivation was right, so don’t vilify me as a horrible husband just yet. For about the next thirty to forty five days I faithfully confessed these things multiple times a day expecting a change to take place in Cheryl. And do you know, she never changed once? But, the change which took place was inside of me.

I began to see her differently than when I had started my journey of confessions to make her a better wife. What changed in me, was I actually began to see her like God did, and once this happened, our marriage got better. I didn’t  need to see a change in Cheryl, I needed to change the way I was seeing Cheryl. And when I did so, I saw her as the queen she actually is and began responding to her through my words differently.

It has taken years for her to understand I speak the truth when I tell her how beautiful she is, how great a person she is and what a fantastic mother she has been to our kids. But I now really see her the way God does and that changes everything about how I act around her and how I treat her. I’m so thankful I made all those confessions about her so many years ago, because it has made being married to her much better. She really is all those things the Bible says she is.

Fellas I will tell you this, if you’re speaking to your bride like some peasant girl, even jokingly, stop it now and address her like the queen she actually is. Speak what God’s Word says about her, and I promise you will see a huge difference in your relationship with her and you will be amazed as you watch the transformation take place in her right before your eyes.

I’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, whoa, that lovin’ feeling, you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, now it’s gone…gone…gone…wooooooh.”

I made a statement once which I think angered a lady. We were part of a group discussion about marriage and I said most days I have to choose to love my wife, it doesn’t just come naturally. She responded by saying how awful this was and she believed love isn’t a choice but a by product of what happens when you find your mate. Her naiveté was showing, but she had only been married a few years and was still in the throws of the love induced hormones working in her brain.

I’m not a doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV, but I did learn about this little area in the brain which produces a chemical giving you that “lovin’ feeling”. It’s what causes us to be attracted to our spouse at first. It’s almost as if there wasn’t this chemical imbalance in our brain which steers us towards our mate we’d never give them the time of day; and this is exactly what God intended.

While this chemical helps us overlook little things which might aggravate us at first, once it stops producing we can get annoyed by them and feel as if we don’t love this person anymore. It’s at this point in our relationship we need to have a solid commitment and are willing to stick to our vows. This is where the choice to love someone comes into play.

My bride and I have been married for over twenty-eight years and there have been plenty of opportunities for both of us to have said to heck with this and throw in the towel; but we haven’t, we’ve stuck it out, sometimes slugging it out to work through our issues. Of course I don’t mean physically; this is not okay under any circumstance. We’ve had to work to see things from each other’s perspective (something which takes time and effort) and we agree to disagree from time to time. What we’ve learned, is to give in on the little things and stick to our guns on the bigger issues, but always from an aspect of I’m in this for the long haul, so we’re going to make it work.

When we first met and began talking about marriage, divorce was never an option for either of us. We made this commitment to each other before we ever said our vows. We both decided that whenever we disagreed about something, we would never speak of divorce. When we fight and yes in twenty-eight years together we’ve had plenty of opportunities for this, it has been easy to work through things knowing the other person isn’t willing to quit. There is a lot of comfort in this too!

I am totally amazed how quick younger couples give up nowadays. Instead of seeking counsel from older people who’ve been married for many years, and figuring out how to work through their issues, they just jump ship, missing out on what is one of the greatest things; sharing your life with another person .

I heard a man say the number one indicator of divorce is the avoidance of conflict. When you avoid disagreements, just agreeing for the sake of not having an argument, you are making a grave mistake in your marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I hate to argue, but I have come to learn if my bride and I don’t talk out our differences in the hope of resolving them, then our relationship is not going to get any stronger; and building a strong life together is worth the effort I promise you.

The next time it seems you’ve lost that “loving feeling“; knuckle down, stick to your guns and work it out. Don’t quit thinking you can find another person who will give you this feeling. You may, but in a short time you’ll just be back where you were with the other relationship. If you have questions, email me. I don’t know everything, but I do know a little bit having been married this long and I’m happy to help.

Email: godsfirstknight@yahoo.com

Growing Spiritually in Marriage

I asked for topics to blog about last night and a young lady requested I write about growing  spiritually in marriage. This is my last blog of four which I have written today and quite possibly the one which scares me the most. The reason it scares me is I’m not exactly sure I have this one figured out yet and I’ve been married for twenty-eight years. But let’s press on and see what comes of it.

You have to realize in marriage there is a chain of command. First there is God; He has to be put in the forefront of your relationship, everything should be centered around Him and what He has for your life. Secondly, there is a hierarchy in marriage and please don’t let this offend you, but the husband is like the president and his bride is the vice-president. Now before you ladies get mad at me, this is not due in any part to him being better than you ; it’s just the role God has given men.

Women are not and never were designed to be servants to men, but helpers called alongside their husband to help fulfill what God has called them both to do. Ladies shouldn’t look at their role as subservient to their husbands, because they were called alongside to be co-laborers with him. Men, don’t talk down to your wives because they’re women; they are usually smarter and obviously better looking than you after all.

Once you have the order of things correctly in place then you can begin. I recommend praying for each other daily. Having said this, do I practice what I preach? Not as often as I should I’m afraid to admit. But the truth of it still stands, praying for one another is a foundational truth which you should implement into your marriage if you haven’t already. Plus it’s kind of hard to be mad at someone you are praying for.

Secondly, share Scriptures and the things the Lord is showing you with your spouse, and let them reciprocate. Oh, and just a note about this, when your spouse is sharing with you, don’t interrupt, let them finish before adding your own two cents. When you do this, don’t preach at each other, just talk about the things of God. Once you’ve introduced children into your marriage this will carry over and you will be amazed at what all your kids will learn just from listening to the conversations you and your spouse have.

I remember many times desiring to have a family prayer time; I would gather everyone in the living room, put on some worship music and we’d begin. Most times within a few minutes we’d have utter chaos; the kids doing their own thing, Cheryl praying and I’d be trying to orchestrate some holy moment while wrangling the kids and trying to get them to sit still for a few moments. More often than not I walked away from those moments feeling like a failure.

One thing That would always make me laugh was what people thought our family was like, they would comment on how we must be so spiritual at home. I think some of them actually thought we floated around on clouds in our living room. It was always a shame to let them down, but my marriage and family is no different from yours, we all make mistakes and have much learning to do. We are spiritual, not perfect.

I think the thing which will really make your marriage strong spiritually is to daily work at improving your walk with the Lord and do whatever it takes to help your spouse do the same. Having a spiritual marriage doesn’t mean you walk six inches above the concrete; it means you live the same way every person on the earth does, you just do it a little bit better because you’re following the Creator of all things who leads, guides and directs you.

Marriage…It’s Not Just About You Anymore Bubba

One of the most misunderstood aspects of marriage is the thought that it is a 50/50 proposition. Seriously nothing could be further from the truth. Marriage is giving yourself 100% of the time to your spouse regardless of whether they every give back to you or not. It is an agreement you made in front of witnesses stating you were giving yourself to this person and no other.

The reason so many people find this difficult is because of an unwillingness to stop being selfish. Selfishness is the root of almost every problem a marriage will face, and if you were to look at your actions in your own marriage honestly you would agree. Too many husbands spend their time pointing fingers at what their bride is doing instead of focusing on the areas in their own lives where they could make changes.

Many years ago, I began writing down all of the Scriptures I could find in the Bible about who my wife was supposed to be. I was a baby Christian at the time and newly married, but didn’t really like a few things about my bride so I was going to use the Word of God to make her change. (As I said, I was a baby Christian, I know better now.) Anyway, as I began quoting these passages several times a day, something happened; Cheryl didn’t change, but the way I began to view her did. It wasn’t too long after this our marriage really began to get better and the little things which had ticked me off were no longer doing so.

I’ve seen too many marriages where the husband points out his wife’s flaws, but overlooks all those he has. It’s the plank of wood versus the speck of sawdust story Jesus told in the Bible. (Matthew 7:3) I feel pity for these husbands, I have heard the stories about how little sex they are getting, how they feel all their wife does is complain about how little they do around the house or with the kids and so on. I pity them because the biggest problem they have in their marriage is themselves and their selfish ways.

The reason men don’t give 100% in their marriages is because of fear they are going to be seen as a whipped man by their peers. I gotta tell you right now, I could care less what any other man says about me in regards to my relationship with Cheryl because they are not the one doing life with her, I am. Most of the time men who give me crap about doing so much for my bride, do so because they feel bad for not giving as much to theirs. And the rule of thumb is; if I’m not doing it, you shouldn’t be either. It’s like when your coworkers say you’re making them look bad, I like to reply, “No, you’re making me look good.”

Stop being selfish and take care of your bride men, it is the best investment you will ever make in your life, I guarantee it.