“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…

 

 

 

 

 

Some Days Fighting Orcs Would Be Easier

Life can be challenging most days, at least for me it can be. There are times when I feel it would be easier to face down a horde of angry Orcs rather than enter into what the day holds for me. If you know me, then you know that I love fantasy and science fiction. Really what I love is a good story, I always have. I’m a very visual person too, that’s actually how I learn . When I can see something in a story that I can apply to my life, then it helps me to learn and grow.

There is a scene in the Lord of the Rings which takes place as Frodo decides he must leave the fellowship and take the ring into Mordor by himself. As Frodo is talking to Aragorn and asking him to watch over his friends, a number of Orcs arrive on the scene. 

Telling Frodo to run, Aragorn turns to face what for most men would be certain death, yet there is a smile which creeps onto his face as he draws his sword gripping it ever so tightly, then charging straight towards them. And there is a part of me that thinks that would actually be easier to deal with too.

I think the reason I feel this way, is that at least if you are fighting 100 Orcs, you know what you are up against, there is a tangibility by which I can judge where I am. Yet the day to day life for me can at times become so mundane. It’s hard to know what God is up to in my life some days because of the normal daily grind; I’m up early, drink my coffee, do my Bible reading, go to work then come home and clean up, rest for a few hours then go to bed so that I can get up and repeat the cycle the next day. It’s like rinse, lather, rinse, and repeat.

The thing is that I know God is working in my life even when I can’t see it, it’s just that at times I sure wish I could see what was going on behind the scenes. Have you ever felt like that? Some days a little bit of clarity would be nice, although I have never found where God promised that we would have clarity, instead He says that we just need to trust Him. Take a look at Proverbs 3:5 – 6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

So while I may never face down a horde of angry Orcs, and my days may at times all look the same day after day, I will continue to trust the Lord with all of my heart, knowing that He is at work in the background making my paths straight. And that my friends does my heart a world of good for sure. Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King!

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.

 

 

 

Are You Being Your Bride’s Superhero?

Let me ask you married men a question; do you know your wife’s love language? You know the things you do which show her you really love her? Just saying, “I love you.” isn’t enough, she needs to see something which proves your love as well.

In my home, I’m responsible for taking out the garbage. I see to it all our refuse is put in the trash container and placed by the curb to be picked up on Fridays. If our trash  can is piled high with its contents balancing precariously on top, this bothers my wife. Taking care of this household chore is just one of the many things I do which shows her I love her.

Guys, if you’re like me, you probably worked pretty hard in the beginning when you dated her; pulling out all the stops to impress your girl. If I was a betting man, I’d say you did a lot of crazy things to show her how much you wanted and desired her. The problem is we often stop doing these things after saying, “I do.” Too many men get upset after the wedding because the lovey dovey stuff seems to end and the nagging begins.

When I say nagging what I really mean is, she is telling you the things which bother her. Generally when someone is complaining about something, it’s not so much because they want to make your life miserable but more likely at a deeper level they are really telling you what bugs them.

The best thing would be if we actually just said what we mean, but in my married life I’ve found a lot of times I have to look for clues as to what is meant. It’s probably because she doesn’t want to just nag me as she wants me to find out what it is she needs.

In the movie The Breakup, there is a great scene about this. The couple is arguing about household chores:

Brooke: “I want you to want to do the dishes.”

Gary: “Why would I want to do the dishes?”

And this is the story of married life; the wife wants you to do something and we as men are usually clueless to what she is really saying. You see it wasn’t about him actually doing the dishes as much as his willingness to do them. This willingness to do something is usually at the heart of all disagreements.

Finding out the things my wife likes and doing them and figuring out what she doesn’t like and not doing these makes me out to be the superhero she needs me to be and what man doesn’t want to be his bride’s superhero? And part of this means I’ve got to be looking for the things which show her how much I love her.

This is why I lift the toilet seat and put it back down, why I put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and generally look for things to do which say to her heart, this man of yours really loves you. It’s all about the relationship and I want ours to be the best.

Guys take some time and listen for what your bride is really saying to you. It will take work to be her superhero, but it is doable and in the end worth it.