Thursday, December 22, 2016

How Much Do You REALLY Love Her??

Real men love to be macho. Hence the popularity of the Lord of the Rings movies, the Expendables series, and the umpteen super hero movies that came out this year. We love to envision ourselves as President Marshall fighting off terrorists to protect our families on Air Force One. Our pulse quickens when we watch a movie like Taken, where a father seeks to save his daughter no matter what the personal cost.

But do we love the idea of loving our wives that much more than we actually love our wives? I know that it's frequently true for me. Just like I like the idea of being the next Geddy Lee more than I like the hours of finger wrenching torturous practice that would be required for me to even be considered a competent bass guitar player.

While I'm normally not a big proponent of New Year's resolutions, I'm tossing out a challenge (since we seem to be all about THOSE lately).


1. Read the Book of Proverbs daily. Whatever day it is, read that chapter. Read it out loud, don't just scan it. It will only take a few minutes, and it's best to do this at the beginning of the day, before chaos erupts and distracts you. If you miss a day, pick back up the following day.

2. During the months of January through March, read the book "The 5 Love Languages: Men's Edition" by Gary Chapman. That's 90 days to read 208 pages (paperback count). 

3. During the months of April through July, read the book "His Needs, Her Needs" by William F. Harley, Jr. This one is 120 days to read 240 pages (hardback count).

4. During the months of August through December, read the book "Love And Respect" by Emerson Eggerichs. This gives you 150 days to read 324 pages (hardback count).

Obviously, if you're a fast reader, you can rip through all three of the books in a few weeks. I'm encouraging you to NOT do that. Read them slowly. Think about what the author's saying. Highlight what hits you hardest. Go back and re-read the chapter when you're done. The goal here is not to check off that you've scanned the pages, but to actually be confronted with how you can love your bride better, and in a way that's more Christ-like. If you're looking for a challenge, loving your wife as much as Jesus loves you is one worthy of taking up. 

PLUS, if you actually learn this stuff and sincerely do it, I promise you that you'll see a change in your marriage. At the very least, I promise you that the Holy Spirit will change how you SEE your marriage, and will change your heart about your bride. I've seen it myself. IN myself, and in other men who have applied these four books to their lives.

PS: If you've already read some or all of these books, read them again. It won't kill ya, I promise. 😏

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let This Appointment Pass From Me

As I write this, my heart is heavy and my mind is dreading the new day’s coming. Because at 11:00 tomorrow, I will sit down in a dentist’s chair and he will rip four teeth out of my mouth. That’s right. Four of my little toofies. OUCH!.

You see, for years, I didn’t do what I should have done. I used dip and chew for years. I smoked cigarettes, pipes and cigars for years. The amount of cola that I’ve consumed over the years could float a nuclear carrier. I didn't brush. I didn't floss. I’ve been hard on my teeth, and little by little, they’ve broken or rotted away. My fault, my fault entirely. The last one to break was one of my front crowns, and now I look like a redneck vampire when I close my mouth.

Therefore, in the morning, the dentist will pull out the remaining four teeth on top and I’ll just get a full plate. Sounds easy, right? When YOU’RE the one facing it, it certainly doesn’t sound easy. A few hours of the dentist prying, cutting, splitting and yanking teeth out of my jaw. My dentists in the past have joked that my roots run down to my toes, and my last extraction had pieces of my jawbone attached when he (finally) got it out. The prospect of going through that is making me a little anxious; it’s NOT a good night to be me.

BUT, I’ll be in a sterile environment, under local anesthesia, and the surgery will be done by an individual who has absolutely no desire to hurt me. Actually, he will do everything in his power to ensure that I’m not in any pain.

Compare that to the dread that Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane…no anesthesia, no kindness, and knowing that there would be actual torture, with no other goal than to humiliate, punish and kill Him.

Yes, He wept tears of blood.

Yes, He cried out for another way if possible.

BUT, He went willingly into the hands of those who would torture and kill Him.

He went for me.

He went for you.

Just as I’m going to endure pain tomorrow because I know that it will be better after, He went to the cross because He knew that He would be the sacrifice paid for the sins of Mankind and offer salvation to Man.

For the sins of everyone who calls upon His name, He paid the price. He’ll take your sins. He took the blows that allow Him to pay for your rotten fleshly failures and offer you forgiveness, redemption and restoration to Him. He paid for the policy, made the appointment and even paid your copay.

What a great offer! The best healthcare (soulcare) in the universe!!!

Confess Him as LORD (agree with heaven about what is true)

Repent of your sins (allow Him to change the way you view your actions in accordance to His word)

Follow Him (seek to imitate Him in your thoughts, desires and actions, using the Bible as your manual and the Holy Spirit as your instructor and guide)

8But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOUIN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
Romans 10:8-11

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Don't Put Me In, Coach!!!

It is safe to say that sports is one of the most important things in America. Friends and co-workers have office pools for March Madness where everyone tries to properly guess how the games will be won and lost. In the fall, they create imaginary football teams and compete against other imaginary teams. Over the summer and into the fall, millions of hours are spent watching baseball games and predicting who will wind up in the World Series. We focus on sports, and more importantly, we focus on athletes, almost to the point of worship.

If you were asked to list the 25 or 50 most famous people in America, there would likely wind up being three types on that list: politicians, actors, and athletes. Even non sports fans like me recognize these names: Manny Pacquaio, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Albert Pujols, Alexander Rodriguez, Phil Mickelson, Venus & Serena Williams.

We look up to these individuals for their skills and abilities. I suspect many imagine what it is like to make that last-second three pointer, to blast a game winning home run, or to make the final touchdown needed to win the Super Bowl.

Multiple companies offer to sell us their wares so that we can be more like those athletes. For only $400, we can wear the same shoes as Kobe or for only $300, we can own the same driver as Tiger or Phil. For a nominal price, we can even buy a copy of their jersey! We can deck ourselves out and imagine sitting on the bench next to them at the big game!

But we often overlook the fact that serious athletes spend hour upon hour upon hour practicing their skills. They have dedicated coaches to point out the flaws in their techniques and to push them to improve. Dedicated athletes change their entire lives because of their sport. They change their diets and their sleep patterns, and frequently do not have time to play around or entertain themselves as the average Joe. They spend almost every day during their season practicing for their next game, and almost every day in their off-season preparing for their next season. In short, their lives are dedicated to becoming the best player that they can, and having the most time possible in the game.

Now, compare that with the average church member. If we show up for church (practice) twice a month, we think we've done a huge thing. If we write down all the points from our pastor (coach) we think that it will make a difference somehow. But in all seriousness, we typically have zero interest in changing anything about ourselves in order to be better Christians (athletes). We're not about to change our diet of what we take in with regards to spending less time watching TV or movies and instead reading Scripture. There's no WAY that we're going to get up 30 minutes early to pray before we dash off to work. Above all, should ANYONE point out something that we're doing wrong or incorrectly, we're not going to thank them, we'll probably just scream "DON'T JUDGE ME!!"

The average Christian loves the IDEA of wearing the team jersey and sitting on the bench. Oh, and don't forget my Participation Trophy, please! But in all honesty, we not only aren't even actually interested in any playing time on the field, if our coach suggests it, we're liable to not even come back to practice for a while...

Consider what the author of Hebrews tells us in Chapter 12, Verse 1: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"

Show up for practice. Change your diet. Listen to your coach and change your actions. Realize that when a team mate points out something you're doing wrong, they almost certainly are tying to help you play better. Above all, be ready to hop off the bench when your name is called. Beg for opportunities to get in the game!