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

 

Keeping Your Marriage Fresh – Part 2

Dale & Denise

So what did you do yesterday to add some freshness to your marriage?  Here’s six more suggestions to help you get fresh with each other!

  1. Work at your marriage every day. Marriage is never static; it never runs on auto-pilot.  You are either making deposits or withdrawals.  It’s the little things you do each day that make the big things you do, big!  Little things like:
  • A love note on the bathroom mirror (dry erase marker).
  • Opening the car door for your wife.
  • A wink across the room.
  • A dance step or two on Aisle 5 at Kroger’s when you hear a love song being played.
  • A lingering kiss on the curb of the parking lot before leaving the restaurant or on the porch just as you arrive home from that romantic date night. (Be sure to ask the hostess for a corner table)
  • Saying, “I love you.”
  1. Read books about marriage. Men, it has been said, “Leaders are readers.” Since you are the leader in your relationship, I recommend a new book by Robert Wolgemuth, Like the Shepherd, Leading Your Marriage With Love and Grace.   Ladies, my wife suggests the book What’s It Like to Be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions by Linda Dillow.
  2. Put down your smartphone and talk. Enough said.
  3. Have a set time for the children to go to bed. They are precious souls, but they can be a major hindrance to a healthy marriage.  They need their rest; your marriage needs your undivided attention.  By the way, make sure the kiddos sleep in their own bed . . . not with you.  One day you will have to say “good-bye” to them.  When you do, you want a fresh marriage not a “and who are you?” marriage.
  4. Get out of that rut! If you have been married for any length of time, there’s the potential for a rut-marriage.  So make some plans to be creative.
  • Try some different foods for supper.
  • Take a different route home; not the logical way. Enjoy the journey.
  • Sit on the same side of the booth at a restaurant.
  • Do something wild & crazy!
  • Enjoy intimacy at a different time of the day . . . make it a surprise!
  1. Take care of yourself. As you age, things start to shift and your body changes.   Watch what you eat.  Exercise.  Stay healthy.

Marriage is a grace gift from God.  Be sure to steward this gift in a way that will glorify Him and encourage your spouse.  The Lord will help you if you seek His face.  He wants your marriage to be the best.

So, stay fresh by getting’ fresh with each other, again.  If you need further inspiration, read Song of Solomon.

Keeping Your Marriage Fresh

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June is a good month to get married.  Just ask the thousands who will walk an aisle during this month to promise their lives to each other “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”

June 20th, my wife and I will celebrate 36 years together.  Those years have contained many, many days of laughter and joy, many days of burdens and sorrows, and many, many days of answered prayer.  God has been so good to us.

Today, I want to share with you five ways to keep your marriage fresh even after 36 years.  Tomorrow, I’ll give you five more.

  1. Be assured of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ alone. “God made all of us to have a personal, vibrant relationship with Him. Whoever you are and wherever you’ve been, God is personally interested in you and longs to share a close relationship with you.”  Watch the following video to learn more about the most important relationship: The Gospel
  2. Live together in the Word of God. Since God has created marriage, the best place to learn how marriage is to operate is to read the Creator’s Word.  Share with each other what God has personally taught you in His Word and read the Word together.  The Word of God is never stale, so glean from its fresh manna everyday.
  3. Pray together. One of the best ways to keep your marriage fresh and to stay connected is to pray throughout the day together, at meals, when burdens arise, when wisdom is needed, and before you drift off to sleep.
  4. Have fun. It is so easy to grow old in your marriage, get used to each other, and then forget how to enjoy life. Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Keep a light heart.  Laugh with each other; laugh at yourself.  I mean, who needs comedians? We have people!  We are just funny!
  5. Keep on dating. Men, remember what you did to win your girl’s heart?  Go back to those days.
  • You can have a quiet date on the back porch after the kids go to bed . . . star gazing!
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood and hold hands. Stop along the way to enjoy the flowers, the scenery, and each other. Kissing is permitted on the sidewalk in public!
  • Buy one ice cream cone and share it as you sit in your car listening to the old songs of your dating years. When the ice cream is gone, put your arms to good use!
  • Play a game and enjoy a bowl of popcorn.

So, what will you do today to get fresh, be fresh, and live refreshingly with your spouse?

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

There Is No Other Answer

But God

For years, every time I read two particular words in Scripture, especially as found in Ephesians 2:7, but God, my heart leaps within me!  It is a resplendent sound of joy, assurance, perspective, and calm no matter what questions or circumstances of life may come my way!  But God!

Try this.  State your condition or question, then add the words, “But God!”  For instance, “I don’t understand why I lost my job, . . . but God!” Go ahead, try it.

Soak your soul in just these few passages alone and then listen to the link to follow.  Indeed, there is no other answer.

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (Genesis 50:20).

David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands (1 Samuel 23:14).

My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

But God – Larnelle Harris

Jesus Ministered Again on the Sea of Galilee

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As I prepared my heart and mind for another trip to Israel, the thought of riding on the Sea of Galilee again brought a renewed spirit of great expectancy!

Five years ago as the boat pulled away from the dock, my wife and I stood near the bow and fixed our gaze all around us.  “This is where Jesus spent so much of His early ministry!”  We envisioned Him walking on the water, travelling along the shore, calming the storm, reaching out to Peter, healing the maniac of Gadara, as well as other events in Jesus’ Galilean ministry.

In a few moments, the owners of the boat began to play over the loud speakers, “How Great Is Our God.”

The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Several of us, gathered at the bow, began to sing along, tears streaming down our cheeks.  The calmness of the sea, the beauty of God’s creation all around us, the person of Christ living in us (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27) and  the fellowship in worship of brothers and sisters like us in Christ was so absolutely awesome!  Once again, Christ was ministering on the Sea of Galilee!!

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Well, fast forward to three weeks ago, and once again, we experienced the same, but this time on a much deeper level.  How wonderful to sing “How Great Thou Art,” “10,000 Reasons,” and “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High.”  With hands and voices raised up to heaven, our hearts overflowed with praise to our great God for His Son, His salvation, and His grace! Then we heard the Word of God preached to us while we sailed along.  The Christ in us ministered once again on the Sea of Galilee to each of us.

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Of course we are back home now, and the same Jesus continues to minister to us as we obey His call recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The same Christ, Who through the Holy Spirit, taught us, led us to worship, and ministered to our hearts on the Sea of Galilee is ready and willing to do the same today.  All you must do is open the Word of God and let Him speak to you from the pages of His eternal, life-giving book of absolute truth!

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So, come along with me today and let’s “ride the boat” as Jesus ministers once again to His redeemed ones!   Go ahead and sing, too!! (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17).

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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While looking back through my journal for this the first week of the New Year, my, how faithful, good, and loving God has been.  But, true is, that is not surprising because that’s Who He is!  So when you come to know Him, you watch for where He is at work, you recognize His revealed character/attibutes, and then you respond to Who He is.  I promise you, if you recognize Who He is, you will never miss what He does.  So with that in mind, here’s a recap of some of God’s grace this week.

#1  Answered Prayer!!

I could on and on about this one!!  One of the best is the reminder to never stop praying for our unsaved family and friends.

In Wednesday’s post, I wrote about Barbara Chandler’s investments in others’ lives. Her greatest investment was in prayer, especially for the salvation of her husband.  For many, many years she labored in prayer for him.  He was known for his many trips across the state line where he would get drunk and also squander their money on the lottery.

I learned while attending her funeral on Tuesday that God answered her prayer and the prayers of countless others.  Seven years, at the age of 81, Ralph humbled himself before the Lord and received Him as his personal Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-13).

May we have the heart of Barbara Chandler as well as the Apostle Paul who said, I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, […]Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1)

 #2  Blessed Quietness


How wonderful to spend a day on the lake, in the Word, in prayer, seeking the Lord for what He would have me preach.  The serene quiet, the voice of the Lord, and setting at Jesus’ feet is invaluable time spent.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place, and there He prayed. (Mark 1:35)

#3   Encouragement

Yesterday was a full day of ministry opportunities that included a funeral, a hospital visit, and mentoring to name a few.  When I arrived home around 9:15, I checked my Facebook and found I had been tagged by my oldest daughter.  Here’s a throwback video of a song that has meant so much to me over the years.  I needed this last night. I needed to be reminded that in the midst of all of life and ministry’s demands, Jesus is always the center of my joy.

(Also made me think of a very special group of teenagers who gathered in Spain two years ago!)

Center of My Joy

Marriage Matters

Many times my wife and I have sat in a restaurant or coffee shop and noticed something that occurs way too often—a husband and wife eating a meal . . . and barely speaking to one another.  Both have their faces drawn like an upside down sock monkey.  A grunt or a head nod is about all that is offered to each other.

Another sight is a couple walking through the mall . . . he’s way ahead of her and totally removed from it all.  She could turn into any store without his notice.

And then, there’s the ride in the car that is “Silenceville.”

Now, much could said in reference to these scenarios, but one that comes to my mind that is sadly missing in way too many married couples lives is . . . they have forgotten how and/or have stopped having fun together!  When God gave Eve to Adam, He said it was not good for man to be alone.  He needed a completer (Genesis 2:18-25).  They had wonderful fellowship in the Garden until sin entered in.  Now, joy can still be a part of our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit and with that, the enjoyment of each other’s company.  No matter what your situation is, you can still laugh, chuckle, wink at each other, hold hands, banter back-n-forth in good natured fun, and enjoy life.

Couples, don’t let your job, children, mental attitudes of bitterness, anger, jealousy, envy and resentment, physical condition, financial crunch, empty nest, etc., steal your joy, your fun.  Surrender your burdens to the Lord (1 Peter 5:6-7), and let the joy of the Lord be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  God created us to enjoy Him and one another.

How about going to the local coffee shop and take a game with you?  Make sure it’s one that will create fun and not serious thinking and no laughter such as Settlers of Catton! 🙂 Or, determine the next time you have a meal together at a restaurant, just the two of you, that the husband is turned away from the TVs and the wife has her cell phone put away.  Laugh, talk, be romantic, share, and . . . have fun!!!!

 

This-N-That: 56

When I was kid, I thought anyone in their 50’s was old; anyone in their 60’s were really old; and anything beyond that was ancient!!  Well, today I am celebrating 56 years of life which moves me closer to the 60 mark.  As I consider the fact that I have more years in my rearview mirror than the front windshield, many thoughts come to my mind.  Most days I don’t feel old; I’ve gotten through recent surgery, and I’m ready to start running again; many times I still think I’m 30 something.  Nevertheless, the finish line is getting closer if the Lord permits me to live to 70 or more, or the Rapture doesn’t occur in my lifetime.  With that in mind, today causes me to consider the following:

  • By God’s grace, I want to stay faithful to Christ, my wife, my family and my Christian family.
  • I want our marriage to grow sweeter and sweeter each day as we grow older. May we never get calloused, uncaring, mean-spirited, or withdrawn.  Keep us warm and tender toward each other, holding hands, finger-dancing, winkin’ and smoochin’ until the end!!
  • Oh, how I long and pray that my daughters and sons-in-law are used to the hilt for God’s glory, and I will hear God’s “Well done” spoken to them at the Bema!!!!!!
  • I don’t want to grow old and be grumpy! May the joy the Lord be my strength!
  • I long to see the power of God moving through the local church in such a sweeping way that souls are saved and believers are extremely passionate about Christ, His Word, and sharing/living the gospel.
  • May I not be so stiff and rigid and wound up that I miss out on laughing and crying and rejoicing in all the good things that God has given and wants us to enjoy.
  • In the rest of my years, I long to see a huge number of souls truly come to Christ and be genuine, sold-out believers; followers, not fans!
  • May the impact of the Bema loom over my life in such a way that I finish strong!
  • I long to see my neighborhood follow Christ!!
  • I want to be used of the Lord for His glory and for souls until the day He calls me home!
  • May my heart become more and more tender and sensitive to the things of Christ and to people. Help me, Lord, to see the sheep as You do.
  • Lord, teach me to pray.
  • May I continually run to Christ.
  • Help me, Lord, to know when it’s time to move on. I never want to go down with a sinking ship because I won’t let go.
  • Keep me balanced, Lord.
  • I want to memorize more Scripture. If I can worry, I can memorize.
  • Let me run until I’m 70! Hike until I’m 80!  Race around Bristol when I’m 90!!  And jog the streets of gold when I’m 100!!
  • May the UK Wildcats win the NCAA basketball championship each year!!!! #BBN
  • Don’t let me miss out on any senior discounts! 🙂
  • May Dunkin Donuts Coffee keep America running!
  • I want to keep a burning heart for Christ, His Word, and the local church, His body!

So, so much to be thankful for in my past!! God has been so very good to me!!  The truth is, every day is getting better and the best is yet to come!! Click on the following link and see why:  What A Day That Will Be

To the People in the Pews

What an awesome day the Lord gave us yesterday as we gathered to worship our great God!  There are many things to mention, but three things stand out in context.  Our 2015 theme at Boones Creek Bible Church is “Love Works.”  The whole goal is doing more than talking about reaching people for Christ.  We are being intentional about investing our lives in tangible ways to reach a lost world for Jesus Christ through every ministry, home, and person connected with BCBC. Through a conference I attended last summer in California and the subsequent study by all of our adult Sunday School classes of the book Out of Commission, the Lord has so challenged us to “hit the streets.”  Like a song I heard years ago that asks some penetrating questions,

“How can we reach a world we never touch?

How can we show them Christ if we never show them love?

Just to say we care will never be enough . . .

How can we reach a world we never touch?”

So, our goal yesterday was to begin laying the groundwork for where we are headed this year.  I preached from Philippians 2:1 and 1 John 3:16-18 used a quote from the book in both sermons found on page 215, “We are surrounded by needs.  We live in neighborhoods and communities desperate to see the love of God. And what is our response?”  Then I asked the congregation to personally answer the question, “What is my response?”

Here’s the three things that happened yesterday with all of this as a backdrop:

  1. When I gave the invitation at the end of the morning sermon, several came forward to pray for lost souls, to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading in their lives, and for anyone who needed to receive Christ. Out steps this lady that I had met for the first time before the service began.  As she came forward, two of our ladies were walking with her.  Betty had stepped out at the invitation to make a public profession of her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You see, during the Christmas break, these same two ladies had visited with her, gave her the plan of salvation, and she trusted Christ alone as her Savior and Lord!  What was the response of these two ladies?—Go and tell others about Jesus.  “How can we reach a world we never touch?”
  2. For years, I have prayed on and off that the Lord would raise up someone in our church who had a burden to use our church van to bring folks to hear about Christ. The Lord has heard my cry and my heart’s desire.  Words cannot express the joy in my heart to see that van leave the parking lot today and see young and old being brought to church.  By the way, one of those was Betty, mentioned above.  What was the response of this dear man who drove that van?—Go into the streets of our town and compel them to come.  “How can we reach a world we never touch?”
  3. At the conclusion of my message last night from 1 John, I put the quote and question on the power point one more time. The focus was on them thinking through what is their honest response.  After small groups met to pray for the lost and for boldness to reach people this week, I said, “When you witness for Christ this week, let me know about it that I may rejoice with you.  Send me an email, call me, or shoot me a text; just let me know!”  Around 7:45 p.m., I received a text from a church member that said, “Gave a tract to the self-serve cashier at the grocery store” and then a smiley face was added to her text!  Wow!  What was the response of this dear lady who handed out a gospel tract?—I must obey.  “How can we reach a world we never touch?”

I wonder, what will your response be this week, each day, to reach a world desperate to know the love of God?  May I offer a few suggestions?

  • Take a loaf of bread to your next door neighbor as an act of love and kindness.
  • Invite folks to your house for coffee and dessert.
  • Take a baby gift to the folks down the street celebrating the birth of their child.
  • Walk through the ICU waiting room, introduce yourself, and ask if you can pray with them as a gift of love and compassion.
  • Do some project for someone that lives near you or works with you as an act of genuine love.
  • Fix a meal and deliver it as a gift of love.

“How can we reach a world we never touch?”