Just Give Him Praise!

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Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!  
(Psalm 150)

Steven Cole asks an excellent question, “I wonder how many of us could honestly say, ‘Praising God characterizes my life’?”

Personally, there’s something special about being around people who love to praise the Lord!

Such was the case Tuesday night as a group of us attended the Bristol Revival in Bristol, VA.  This is the first week for these meetings under the gospel tent.  With around 2,500 or more in attendance, the praise did flow!

What a blessed time it was to gather outside the tent with around 200 men to pray before the service. With men crying out to the Lord, hands raised in supplication (1 Timothy 2:8), it was a blessed time in the presence of God asking for the power of God to change hearts and lives through the preaching of God’s Word

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The praise and worship continued as the service began with joyful, full-hearted singing.  Once again, there was shouting, rejoicing, and brighten countenances all around.  These folks were praising God for Who He is and for what He had done!

What stood out to me were the young folks seated around me.  Next to me was a nine-year-old boy in our group who at one point nudged me on the leg and pointed to my hands.  They weren’t clapping with the music, and he did not want me to miss out on the blessing of praise!

In front of me were two young folk, ages 12-15, who seated next to their father, were more than engaged in rejoicing and making connections throughout the whole service.  It was a delight to see them so engaged.

The preaching of Evangelist CT Townsend was powerful and penetrating.  Oh the praise and joy that rolled as we were challenged to consider the blood that has redeemed us, reconciled us back to God, purchased our pardon, and set us free from our bondage to sin (Exodus 12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; Colossians 1:14-22; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

The praise continued as lost souls walked forward at the invitation to receive Christ as their personal Savior!  As their names and ages were called out, the believers rejoiced with those in Glory (Luke 15).

“Psalm 150 gives us the where, why, how, and who of praise. Praise can be expressed through singing and music (including clapping, dancing, lifting our hands, kneeling, lying prostrate, etc.), through testimony and thanksgiving, prayer, sacrificial service, and giving.” (Cole)

Is your life characterized by praise?  Are you obedient to Psalm 150:6?

God is eternally worthy of all our praise!

A dear friend of mine in ministry is often heard to say, “Just give Him praise!”

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #10

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Biking the Greenbelt, Kingsport, TN

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

On the scenic route through the mountains, especially the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will see many folks riding their bikes.  These guys and gals are fit and trim.  They are dressed for action and prepared for the long haul.

I will probably get myself in trouble here, but husbands, are you still your wife’s prince, her knight in shining armor?

Have you looked at any of your wedding pictures lately?  Who are those people?

At our wedding I wore a white tux with tails, or as Jerry Clower would have called it, “a claw-hammer tail coat.”  Standing 6’2” and weighing 185 pounds, I looked like a Good Humor Ice Cream salesmen.  My sweet wife . . . 4’9” and weighed under 100 pounds.

The years went by and my wife began to see more and more of me.  Ugh! Not good. Eventually almost 100 pounds of me!  She on the other hand has given birth to three children and today is still under a 100 pounds.

Men, once we get our gal, why do we let ourselves deteriorate physically?  Do we not respect her and the Lord enough to take care of our bodies?

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, and in 9:27, But I discipline my body and keep it under control.  And then John in 3 John 2, Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. Then in 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul once again exhorts us, For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Husbands, you need to be your wife’s protection, pillow and partner (Blog Posts #4 -#9), but also her prince!

In this age of fast food, video games, busyness of life and “feeding” our emotions, it is so easy to get lazy, overweight, and out-of-shape.  It takes discipline, planning, and sweat to exercise yourself unto godliness and good health. Your testimony and your wife are worth it!

Husbands, begin to exercise and eat right. Deny yourself.  Join up with your wife on a plan to work together to get healthy, eat healthy and stay heathy. Be honest with each other and encourage each other for your good and God’s glory!

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Husbands, dress for your wife.  When you are home, don’t look like a bum.  Your wife is there and your kids.  You can be casual without looking like you just stepped out of a dirty laundry basket.

Yes, the inner man must be renewed day-by-day, but our outward man is a reflection of what’s going on in our heart.

Something that I have appreciated about my wife from the very beginning is that she wants to look good for me.  She has said many times, “I do not dress for me but for you.”  I should reciprocate. She has eyes, too.  She is my princess.

Also, men, in being a prince to your wife, have good manners at the dinner table (1 Corinthians 10:31).  You should be the last to be served and the first to want to serve.  You should seat your wife at the table.  Put away your cell phones and talk to each other. You take the lead in prayer or calling on someone to pray; on having family devotions at the table if that is a good time for you.

Last of all, men, in being your wife’s prince, be polite.  Read Ruth 2 and take note of how polite and kind Boaz was to Ruth.  She was impressed by his gracious actions.

A prince draws his wife to himself by his kind words and deeds.  Speak well of your wife in public, tell her how much she means to you, let her know that you are paying attention to her, and be sure to often speak the words “I love you.”

Recently, I have added biking to my running routine.  No, I am not planning on riding the Blue Ridge Parkway for any great distance, but I am trying to do what I have encouraged you to do, men.  It’s for God’s glory and for my wife.

We are in it for the long haul.

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #9

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The view from the Old Pilot Hill General Store; our stop on the way home last Saturday.

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

Saturday afternoon, my wife and I attended a funeral calling several miles from our home.  We try to make ministry opportunities not only about whom we are serving but about serving each other and working at our marriage. Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #8

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“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

As we continue on the scenic route taking in all the pleasures of marriage, let’s move from Protection (Scenic Route Posts #4 – #7) to  . . . Pillow.  Pillow?  Yes, pillow, and no, it’s not time to take a nap!

Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #6

Watagua Lake

(Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes)

As my wife and I were walking through the local mall one day, an immodestly dressed woman came toward us.  As she approached, I turned my eyes to look the other direction.  A few moments later my wife said, “Thank you for looking the other way.”  Wow!  I did not even think she saw my eyes from her vantage point, but on that occasion for more than one reason was I glad I chose the right response!!

Your wife will find security/protection in your open, honest, loving communication, your continual pursuit, but thirdly, in keeping your eyes to yourself.

Men, the allurements of the flesh are all around us.  Satan is aware of our weaknesses and our old sin nature is fully equipped to tempt us into allowing sin to enter into our eye-gate.  You cannot clean up the world around you, but you can make choices to keep yourself clean.  Sometimes those choices must be radical.  I promise you, when you choose to say “no” to temptation, the joy and security you give to your wife and the blessing of your own obedience will be something you will never regret!

Husbands, memorize and meditate on the following passages that we may turn from evil to our wives and give them further security in our love.

Job 31:1  I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

Psalm 119:37  Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Psalm 101:3  I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The fourth area of security is to realize your wife needs you.  She needs you to be with her, to be all there when you’re there!

riverfront restaurant

We men are often accused of “being checked out.”  We are so preoccupied with the stuff around us, our day at work, the next project we want to complete, etc.  Our wives are talking to us, and we don’t hear them.  We have that glazed look in our eyes along with a wondering mind.

Have you ever had your wife say to you, “What did I just say?”  Oh boy!  I’ve been sunk on that one way too many times!

You know, men, if your wife is a stay-at-home mom, she most likely has had child-level conversations all day.  She needs an adult to talk to.  That should be you.  She longs for you to listen, and sometimes men, only listen.  If she is sharing an issue or a problem, don’t try to fix it so you can move on to what you want to do.  Just listen.  When she is done, take her in your arms, hold her tight, and then pray with her and for her.  Be her rock of security that tenderly says by your actions, “Baby, I’m all here for you.”

Men, take a cue from Solomon.  When you read this passage, you are struck with his attention to the details about his wife.  Now, you probably don’t want to tell your beloved that her hair is like a flock of goats!!  But, don’t miss the point.  That was a term of endearment in Solomon’s day.  So, choose some words that your wife would love to hear, and when you are with her, and you are all there, be detailed about how precious she is to you like Solomon did for his wife.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in rows of stone;[a]
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that graze among the lilies.  (Song of Solomon 4:1-5)

Another part of being all there when you are there, men, is well-described by the following (Hat-tip here to the anonymous author): “Time is the ‘currency’ of relationships, so invest as much time as you can into your marriage. You need to make money, but don’t use your career as an excuse to be absent. When you are home, be present, not distracted or glued to a screen. Work hard, but also remember that your family can do with less of almost anything if it means having more of you.”

On the scenic route, one of the great pleasures of just being together, the two of you, alone, is the joy of uninterrupted conversation, continual pursuit, keeping your eyes to yourself and being all there!  Stop at the parkway overlook, on the bike path, at the ice cream shop, or by the waterfalls and enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your . . . life that He has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life . . . . Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might (Ecclesiastes 9:9-10).

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #5

Gatlinburg Date

(Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes)

If you were to listen to many conversations about marriage in your world, you would leave thinking that marriage was created to make people miserable. Contrary to the world’s idea of marriage, there are many pleasures in marriages.  God created us to enjoy fellowship with Him and with our spouse, all by the grace of God.

Last week we began to look at the pleasures of marriage, and I am doing so from the husband’s point of view.  After all, he is the loving, servant leader in the home.  So men, here we go!

The first major area of pleasure in marriage is being your wife’s protection, her security which is found in:

  1. Open, honest, loving communication
  2. Continuous pursuit

What did you do to snag your gal; to get her to marry you?  Remember how you looked adorningly into her eyes?  Did you open the car door for her and seat her at the table?  What about those flowers, cards, and other expressions of love and pursuit?

Are you doing those things now?  I will never understand why a man does so much to get his girl, but when they get married his chivalrous actions decline or cease altogether.

Certainly, it is so easy to get wrapped up in your job, your ministry, your kids, your recreation, your truck/car, and/or your own world that marriage and romance decline.  Sadly, your wife becomes your meal-maker, clothes-cleaner, need-meeter . . . and that’s all.

Sir, your wife needs you to continually pursue her, to be thoughtful of her, to love her, to adore her.  Give her your best every day!  Kiss, hug, hold hands when you are riding in the car or walking into church, sit close beside her, leave love notes, send her a texts throughout your day, bring her flowers or her favorite candy car/treat, stop by TJMaxx and buy her a nice outfit/sleepwear/running clothes, etc.

In summary, talk to her, pay attention to her, and hold her like you do your smartphone!

Go after her like you did in the old days . . . or like you did last year before you were married.

Men, take a cue from Solomon (4:9-11) and passionately pursue your wife with your words today for starters.  Take her in your arms and hold on to her like you did when you were dating!

You have ravished my heart,
My sister, my spouse;
You have ravished my heart
With one look of your eyes,
With one link of your necklace.
10 How fair is your love,
My sister, my spouse!
How much better than wine is your love,
And the scent of your perfumes
Than all spices!
11 Your lips, O my spouse,
Drip as the honeycomb;
Honey and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #4

Boone Tavern

There are indeed so many pleasures along the scenic route:  waterfalls, coffee shops, hiking trails, barbeque & bluegrass, pull-offs, picnic areas, wildlife, quiet, slower speed limits, unique food stops, antique shops, time with your spouse, etc.

Likewise, there are many pleasures in marriage, some of which were very active in the early years of your relationship, but sadly have become dormant as the years rolled by.  Let’s look at some of those pleasures, and I will be looking at them from a husband’s point of view.  After all, he is the loving, servant leader in the home.  So men, here we go!

Boone Tavern 2

Proverbs 18:22 reminds us, men, that our wives are a special treasure to us from God; they are a good thing (KJV). They are God’s grace gift to us.  We do not deserve our wives.  Therefore, by God’s grace we are to treasure this gift and treat her like a lady, like a special treasure.

Ephesians 5:25 says, Husbands love (agape) your wives, even as Christ also loved (agagao) the church and gave [paradidōmi – to give oneself up for, give oneself to death for, to undergo death for] Himself for it.

Men, one of the best ways to treasure our wives and enjoy pleasure in marriage is to die daily to Christ and to ourselves so we can live for Christ and our dear wives. Therefore, one of the first areas of pleasure in marriage is being your wife’s “knight in shining armor” whereby you protect her; she finds security in you.

God designed men and women with particular needs they cannot meet on their own. Part of the goal of marriage is for husbands and wives to meet those needs for each other.  Therefore, one of the greatest needs of a woman is for security. Her most secure environment is one in which she is married to a sacrificial, sensitive, loving, caring, godly man.  She should find her utmost security in Christ, but next of all, in her husband.

A great example of this is found in the budding relationship of Boaz and Ruth.  Read Ruth 2:8-13, and look at how Boaz treated Ruth. No wonder she ended up marrying him!!

Men, your wife will find security in open, honest, consistent communication.

Recently, I heard Evangelist David Young say, “A leader knows the way and uses words!”  Compare 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:26.  In the first passage, a wife is encouraged to not nag or preach to her husband when he is unsaved or not living in fellowship with the Lord.  She is to be silent and let God work in her husband’s heart.  Now that is contrary to all the jokes and statements about women.  Supposedly, according to research, you know “the experts” research, that woman speak over 20,000 words-a-day, and men speak around 7,000 words-a-day.  According to Ephesians 5:26, the man is to be the leader in speaking in the home.  Just as Christ is setting apart and cleansing the church through the spoken Word of God, a husband is to set his wife apart and help her live a pure life through speaking Truth to her, praying Truth with her, and leading her by the Truth.

Husbands, Satan loves our secrets and our silence.  We must be men who talk.  Men who speak truth.  Men who speak up.  Men who do not hide in silence because we don’t want to confront sin or take risks.

Men, talking with your wife will breathe new life into your relationship.  Put down your phone.  Turn off the ballgame or fishing show. Share your heart with your wife; engage in meaningful conversation.  Be honest!  Be open!

Husbands, when you speak, also remember that how you say something says so much to your wife.  Your communication, attitude in speech, and tone are either building up trust in your wife or tearing it down. Consider the following:

  1. Think before you speak.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

  1. Choose your words carefully.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

  1. Speak words of edification, endearment, encouragement, exhortation, and grace not destruction.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).

  1. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by your words.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

  1. Learn to genuinely listen to what your wife is saying as well as to what she is not saying.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

  1. Use your words as a grace gift to your wife because God gave you words and the ability to use them. Don’t abuse His gift.  (Genesis 1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

The scenic route gives you time to pull over and talk without interruption.  That “scenic route” can be after the kids go to bed, or after supper without any electronic devices, or on the back porch as well as on a literal journey down on the scenic route.  Some of the best discussions my wife and I have had were sitting on a picnic bench overlooking the valley below, sitting in the rocking chairs on the front porch of a country store, nested beside each other in a cozy coffee shop, walking together through a quaint town, swinging together on our porch swing or sitting on the rocks by a mountain stream . . . just to mention a few.

Men, there are pleasures in marriage, and the first one is the security your wife finds in you as you talk to her, listen to her and always share your heart with her.

Men, take the scenic route.  Lead and use words.

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #3

blue ridge parkway overlook

CRAZY BUSY!!!  That’s how so many people respond if you ask them how they are doing.  Busy is basically the norm of life nowadays with work, school, recreation, smartphones, internet, chasing the American dream, etc. Sadly, most folks are out of breath! We have no time for God, for our spouse, for our family, and/or for eternal things.  We are crazy busy!!

Last week, I shared two blogposts with you about taking the scenic route in marriage.  The first post called our attention to the fact that the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage.  So our first point was to understand that God created marriage, not man. The second post added the thought that God directs marriage, not man.

Today, I want us to consider that the scenic route is a steady, slower pace.

My wife and I love riding the Blue Ridge Parkway that courses it way for 469 miles through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  If you were to travel the entire route, more than 200 overlooks would be calling for your attention.

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These designated pull-offs look onto wide, breathtaking vistas, luring you to stop your car, get out, and see what God has created. You stand there and look this way, then that way as you listen to the quiet, soak up the sun, enjoy the breeze, perhaps see Peregrine falcons soar through the valley, as well as much more!

To enjoy this grandeur along the Parkway, you have to intentionally pull over, stop and get of out of the car to take it all in!

blue_ridge_parkway_overlooks

I want to ask you do something.  Would you slow down, pull over, stop the car, get out and take a fresh look at the grandeur of this grace-gift called marriage?  Sadly, too many couples are so crazy busy they have forgotten the awesome blessing of marriage!

Therefore, set a time for you and your spouse to “pull over” and read through the following passages.  Husband, you read audibly the first verse, and wife, the second, and continue back-and-forth like that until you have completed the designated passage.  When you are finished, each of you need to share what stood out to you in a positive way about marriage.  Share with each other what verse struck a chord in your heart and why.  Let the Word speak as you look at God’s creation, marriage.  This could be a part of several dates to come as you read through one passage at a time, at each “overlook.”

  • Genesis 2:18-25
  • Proverbs 5:15-19; 18:22
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
  • Song of Solomon 1:15-16; 2:1-17
  • Song of Solomon 4:1-16
  • Song of Solomon 5:1-16
  • Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:18-33
  • Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-12

Perhaps, you have lost the overall grand vista picture of what God intended marriage to be?  Slow down.  Make time for your spouse a major priority.  Look into each other’s eyes.  Share terms of love and endearment.  Wrap each other up in your arms.

Exchange CRAZY BUSY for

crazy in love with you

A Marriage that is Merry and Bright!

Christmas DateBeing the romantic at heart, Christmas provides many opportunities for strengthening your marriage.  There is enough unnecessary stress during the holidays.  Therefore, instead of bowing to Grinch stress, let me offer some helpful suggestions to make your marriage “be merry and bright.”

Men, take 15 minutes.  Get your December calendar and mark out at least five days you and your wife can have a date.  Come on, men.  Get up right now.  Go get your calendar.  Got your pen?  Now, write “Date w/ _______” in five day boxes on your calendar.  If you don’t plan it, most likely it will not happen.  Furthermore, when someone invites you to another activity, you say, “Sorry.  I have something already planned for that day.”  Your wife will see that she is your top priority, and the mistletoe will become even more special to both of you!!!

“After the Kids Go to Bed” Date:  You did not marry your kids.  You married your wife, and she needs you to spend time with her without interruptions.  So, meet in a cozy place in your home.  Make or purchase your favorite snack and drink.  Play some soft Christmas music in the background.  Play a game, work on a puzzle, watch your favorite Christmas movie, . . . just do something together AND SILENCE YOUR PHONES.  When you are done, read Luke 2:1-20, and pray together.

“Fireplace” Date:  Find a location with a fireplace such as a restaurant (Panera, Chop House, Cracker Barrel), a coffee shop (local) or a hotel lobby (Grove Park Inn; DreamMore Resort, Dollywood).  Sit as close as possible to the fire . . . and to each other.  After securing a coffee/hot tea and pastry, just talk.  Ask each other the questions.  Enjoy each other’s company.  Block out the rest of the world.  Check out this website for some good discussion starters: 50 Question to Strengthen Your Marriage  (Don’t get distracted by the other articles on the blog site.  Stay on point.)

“Book Store” Date:  Locate a table near the coffee shop of a local bookstore or a reading couch.  After you’ve found your spot, then you begin your three to five round search for books.  On each round, both of you look for a book for that round’s subject.  Give about 5 minutes for each search. Once you have found your book, return to your location.  Taking turns you share your findings with each other by reading a portion of the book to each other, discuss it, and then return the books at the same time. From there, go find the next round’s subject and repeat as described above.

  • Round One:  Find a children’s book that was one of your favorites as a child.
  • Round Two:  Find a cookbook that has one of your favorite recipes.
  • Round Three: Find a book that gives info and pictures of a place you would like to visit.
  • Round Four:  Find a book of romantic poetry.  (Be sure to read the poem you found to your spouse.)
  • Round Five: Find a clean joke book.  (My wife and I have laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks.)

When you have completed this fun, romantic, insightful evening, men, share your next date idea with your wife.  Watch her reaction!!

“Grocery Store” Date:  Men, you probably don’t go to the grocery store with your wife.  May I just say, you are missing out! Truth is, every time you’re with your wife, especially alone (if you have children still at home), it should be an event, not just another trip out with “what’s-her-name.”  My wife and I have had more fun over the years shopping together, even at midnight.  And your wife will definitely need to buy groceries for the Christmas season.

As you stroll the aisles, certain food items make for good conversation.  The music played throughout the store can create a dance moment right there on Aisle 8 (It’s ok to dance….it’s your wife!).  The card section makes for some good laughs as you read humorous cards to each other or tender moments as you share the romantic ones with each other (That way you don’t have to complain about the price of cards or wonder what romantic thing you can say to each other!!).

“Light It Up” Date:  Prepare your favorite hot drink, bring along some snacks, warm up the car, and go for a drive looking at Christmas lights.  Be sure to listen to Christmas music.  Hold hands; drive slow; enjoy the moments; stop for a kiss here and there; and if it’s snowing, get out of the vehicle, walk in the snow for a block or two (snowballs are allowed, too)!

God created marriage and expects us to rejoice with the wife of our youth (Proverbs 5:18).  Husbands, brighten your Christmas and your marriage!

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright