Huh?

Communication!  Wow!  For 5 1/2 years this has been more of a challenge than it has ever been in our marriage.  Why?  Because of my hearing.  Now, I am guilty at times of the “selective hearing syndrome” that we men seem to contract in older years.  In all seriousness, my hearing is declining hampered in my left ear especially, and with my wife’s soft voice, . . . oh, brother!

One of most needed areas of constant attention in a marriage is communication.  How interesting that I make a living talking, yet the lack of communication has been such a struggle for me in our marriage.  I can talk the “hind legs off of a mule” but struggle to interact consistently with my precious wife.  So, in a transparent fashion, I hope to help us in a crucial area of marriage.

Why do we as men need to take time, to make the effort to listen, to talk, and to thoroughly communicate with our wife?

 1.  Our wives need the security of our listening ear.

They want to know that what matters to them matters to us.  They want to know that they are more important than Joe at work, Josh Heupel in his orange and white, and Michaels and Collingsworth on Sunday night!   For many wives, if they are moms at home with little ones, all they have had all day is communication on a three and/or five year olds level.  They need adult interaction when the hubs gets home without his iPhone, iPad and other distractions.

  • Ephesians 5:23 – God intends for the man to be the head, the leader in the home. Wives find security in our loving, servant leadership.  One of the greatest ways you can serve your wife in a Christlike fashion is to talk and listen to her.  Doesn’t Christ always listen to us?

 2.  Our wives want to know what we are thinking because they love us and intimacy is very dear to them.

  • 1 Peter 3:7 – We will begin to understand our wives when we open up to them because they will feel free to share their heart since you have been open, honest and transparent with them.

 

3.  Our wives need to hear communication that glorifies God.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – or whatsoever you do includes our communication with our spouse.
  • Ephesians 4:25 – Our wife is our neighbor and we are members one of another if we are born again believers.
  • Ephesians 4:29 – Good, grace-filled communication that edifies the hearer glorifies God.

Please do me a favor.  Don’t make excuses or think my comments are one-sided.  I realize it takes two to make a marriage, but the point of it all is, God expects us to lead and live with our wives as loving, serving leaders.  Begin by simply taking 10-15 minutes-a-day to look at each other, no distractions, and listen to each other; talk to each other.  By the way, remember when you were dating?  Both of you would hang onto every word . . . even when you didn’t have anything to say on the phone, you just loved to hear each other breathe!!!  🙂

Get honest on your knees before God.  Ask Him to give you strength, ears to hear, words to say, a humble spirit and a passion to glorify God.

I reckon I’d better turn up my hearing aids!! 🙂

Men and Women Text Differently – Tim Hawkins brings some humor to it all.  Enjoy this short video. K?

Lighten Up!

When’s the last time you and your spouse just had a good ol’ belly laugh? Perhaps you even cried you laughed so hard!

With all the stuff that we have come through in 2020 and continue to do so, laughter is hard to find.

I remember as a boy sitting around the supper table after church on Sunday night hearing preachers, missionaries, church members, etc., telling jokes and stories which were accompanied with many moments of boisterous laughter! Nowadays you tell a joke and somebody’s gonna get offended.

I’m not discounting the seriousness of COVID, but with the masks and the accompanying fear, few people are having a good time, laughing, smiling, and enjoying life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. (Proverbs 15:13)

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

So, with that said, have you and your spouse been laughing lately? You know, it might be that your marriage is drying up (Prov. 17:22) because you have forgotten how to have fun; you’ve been too serious; you’ve just let 2020 get you in the heart!

Well, let’s fix that!

  • What did you do when you were dating that you might consider to be silly now? How ’bout rolling back the clock and do it again! Only you can decide what that is.
  • Watch a funny, wholesome movie or an episode of the Andy Griffith Show or the Tim Conway dentist routine on YouTube.
  • Pour water on your spouse while they are in the shower. Just be ready for the payback.
  • Go on a light-hearted date and stop by a card rack at a card shop or grocery store and read funny cards to each other!
  • Head on over to the ice cream store, local bakery, or restaurant. Each of you inconspicuously, of course, point out a couple nearby and make up a story about them by what you see. Have fun with it . . . just between the two of you. By the way, folks over the years have probably said some things about you! 🙂

One of the reasons I have loved the preaching of Chuck Swindoll over the years is his infectious laughter. In his book, Laugh Again, Hope Again, he says, Isn’t God the one who urges us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”? Why do we always think that means singing? Seems to me the most obvious joyful sound on earth is laughter… I’ve seen folks quote verses like “Rejoice in the Lord always” while their faces look like they just buried a rich uncle who willed everything to his pregnant guinea pig. Something is missing. Can’t you just hear him laughing?!?!

Image result for love is laughter

So, this week as we head into Valentine’s Day, how about taking a cue from Ken Davis’ radio program and “Lighten’ Up!” Have at it! It’s time! I’m sure your marriage could use a good dose of laughter meds!

Simply from a pastor’s heart!

Keepin’ It Fresh!

My wife and I love to take scenic drives through the country.  While often pointing to beautiful farms, well-kept houses and lawns, and the continual mountainous scenes around us, we are also greeted with run down houses covered over with vines and bushes as well as dilapidated stores that once held a consistent, thriving business.  How does a house that was once new become an unpainted relic of the past?  One of the reasons is simple neglect.  Take several days of neglect, add them together, and the house is in disrepair.  In some cases, it is no longer inhabited.

Image result for rundown house mountains free images

This reminds me of marriage.  Marriage cannot run on auto-pilot.  Every day, you must work at keeping your marriage fresh and up-to-date.  Neglect is like a vine that grows up around a house that eventually takes over.  Here are some simple daily maintenance tips to help your marriage stay fresh:

  • Say “I love you” often throughout each day and look at each other in the eye when you do.
  • Hold hands. Touch is invaluable.
  • Kiss often and linger every once in awhile.
  • Have prayer together before you leave for work in the morning and at night before drifting off to sleep.
  • Send a love note text during the day.
  • Be ready to meet each other at the end of the day; come home ready to make a connection mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  • Spend time together for 10-15 minutes sitting on the back porch after the kids go to bed.
  • Talk to each other; have much more than an adult/child conversation.

Don’t let your marriage look like a run down, uninhabited house!  Remember, that house did not get that way overnight!  Do your maintenance work today! Celebrating Valentine’s Day will be much sweeter, too! Enjoy!!

Brief Retreats

Last week I celebrated my 62nd birthday tucked away with my wife in a cottage on Watauga Lake in East Tennessee. Besides acknowledging another year of life and my wife making the day special, we went away for other reasons, too.

First of all, just as Jesus went withdrew Himself from the crowds (Matthew 14:23) and went to the mountain to pray (Luke 6:12-13), we as disciples of Jesus Christ need to do the same (Matthew 11:28-30). Two days removed from cell phones, internet, normal life, distractions, and responsibilities is an investment in your walk with Christ that is more than worth the effort. You have time to pray, listen, write, read, and be still. All you need is your Bible, journal, a ready heart, and a quiet place.

Second, marriages need maintenance like many other things in life. No matter if your marriage is humming or in need of a tune-up or a major overhaul, you and your spouse need brief times away to talk, plan, be attentive to each other, pray, read, play games, take a walk, laugh, sit on the porch swing, take a hike and share what God has been teaching you. All you need is place to get away and leave everything else behind.

May I encourage you to plan a brief retreat in the next six months? You need it in your walk with God and your marriage needs it. Sometimes, it’s good to retreat before you can advance.

Celebration in a Trailer

In 160 days, Lord willing, my wife and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage! What’n the world? How could it be 40 years for a couple of young newlyweds?!?!?!

Well, reality is, it will soon be 40 years.

In our first year of marriage, we celebrated in a special way on the 2oth of each month. Last week I told Denise we were going to do the same thing in 2021. You see, after these many years together, you continue to celebrate! You continue to work at your marriage every day! You dare not put your marriage on auto-pilot! You still have fun!

Our first month’s special celebration, July 20, 1981, did not fare too well. Denise had set the table with our new fine china, crystal and candlelight. She also prepared a new recipe . . . lasagna broccoli roll-ups. The atmosphere was so romantic with the smell of good food and the sounds of love music wafting through our 14×70 house trailer “castle.”

After seating my sweetheart at the table and leading in prayer for the food, we plated the new dish and took our first bite. Well, that’s where the brakes were applied to this dreamy evening. As I chewed and chewed, I needed to chew some more. Can you say, “dry” and “ricotta cheese” . . . a lot of ricotta cheese?!?! Add to this situation that I could hear my dad in my head saying, “Don’t ever say your mom can cook better.” What was I to do? I wanted to extract this snowball-rollin’-downhill bite, but no way at that moment on your first 20th celebration with fine dining! What was I to do?

I looked across the table and saw the look on my wife’s face. Can you spell relief? She swallowed (her bites are never as big as mine), and said, “This isn’t good is it?” Happy days are here again!!

Well, we have laughed about that night many times. Denise continues to make new recipes, and fortunately when it wasn’t that good, we have both agreed. (She is an absolutely outstanding cook). She still uses her china and crystal. We still create romantic meals. We continue to celebrate!

Marriage is an awesome grace-gift created by God. With both spouses intentionally working at it every day and adding into the mix the ingredients of laughter and forgiveness, you will have something to celebrate, too!

A Husband’s Discipling Leadership

Husband! Your wife needs you!!

How does she need you? She is crying out for you to be her loving, servant leader! And, if you have sons, they really need dad to lead in the home!

How many times I have seen the wife leading the home or the husband wanting to lead the home but the wife won’t let him or the husband refusing to “step up to the plate” and lead.

Could it be that you are making decisions all day at work, and you are weary of fulfilling that role when you get home? Perhaps you came from a home where loving, servant leadership was not on display. Maybe, you would admit that you really don’t know how to lead.

May I offer some suggestions, some help?

The best way for a man to lead his wife is through a discipling model. What does that look like?

  1. Lead your wife in prayer. More than being the leader in prayer for your meals, Pray with her in the morning before you leave for work. Pray with her at the moment she shares a burden with you. Pray with her over the phone when she is away visiting family, attending a ladies’ event or just from the office. Share your prayer burdens as well as your answers to prayer with her. Hold hands and pray with her every night before drifting off to sleep. The greatest place you could ever go with your wife is to the Throne of Grace together in prayer (Psalm 16:8; Hebrews 4:16).
  2. Lead your wife in the Word of God. As you read and study the Word, be sure to share with your wife what God has been teaching you. You could read a devotional book together in the morning before you head off for work. If your departure time is before she gets up, then call her on your first break and read the devo on the phone or read a portion of God’s Word on the phone and discuss it. Take your wife to church every Sunday so she can hear the Word preached. Read a good book together. Make sure she attends a ladies’ conference periodically to be refreshed, revived, and encouraged in her walk with God. Participate in a small group Bible study. Even if you wife has been a believer longer than you have, she needs you to lead her spiritually. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body (Ephesians 5:25-30).

Wives, may I say, let your husband lead. Encourage him. Build him up. Even if he doesn’t do it the way you think he should, be thankful for any advancement. Sometimes this is just rough territory for a man. Pray earnestly for him and love him! Trust a sovereign, omnipotent God to do His work in your husband’s heart. Remember, try as you may, you cannot change him. (If your husband does lead in your home, rejoice, encourage him, keep praying for him, follow him and be his biggest cheerleader!)

More on this discipling leadership in another post to come. In the meantime, may you both surrender to Christ working through you to accomplish His plan and purpose in your marriage. Because the tomb is empty, you have hope!

Marriage Moment #5

It happens in the midst of a crowd, while driving down the road, during small group Bible studies, or just sitting across from each other in the family room or a restaurant.

What is it? What happens? What is that moment?

It’s when we look at each other and make sincere, intentional eye contact.

When we were dating, folks might say we were looking “googly eyed” at one another! Well, you are right. Just as Google is the internet information highway, a look into my wife’s eyes was and continues to be full of loving, adoring, caring information on the highway of romance and relationship!

King Solomon says it well as he speaks adoringly to his bride. You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes (Song of Solomon 4:9).

When was the last time your heart was captivated by one look from your spouse? Perhaps your “gazing” marriage moments are captivated by your crazy busy schedule or by the demands of your children or by your full attention to your smartphone or by drooling over your new truck or by something else that has seized your heart.

If that moment of an adoring gaze is few and far between, then start today to do something about it. Take your spouse into your embrace, look into their eyes with a heart full of love and a sparkle in your eye? Share words of love and appreciation and then a prolonged kiss.

May your spouse say as Solomon, you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes (Song of Solomon 4:9).

What a moment!!

Finish Well – Part 2

Men, if the Lord permits us to live into our senior years, there is the need to finish well in life. As I noted in my first post, there are many blessings to being a male senior citizen, but there are things that can cause us heartache, disappointment, grief, frustration, disqualification as well as loss of testimony (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12) and reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3).

The first of three areas needed to finish well as a man is to be sure that Christ is our life. Second, . . . cherish your wife.

One of the saddest things I have witnessed over the years is married couples who are just existing in their relationship. Watch older couples at the restaurant; communication is at a bare minimum, perhaps a grunt now-and-then. The romance is gone, the spark is very dim, and the distance is long.

Yet, one of the sweetest things I have seen over the years is a marriage that continues to thrive well into 40, 50, 60, 70 plus years of walking together as one (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31).

A particular couple I know have been married for 53 years, and he still looks adoringly at her from across the room or the table. He continues to use his affectionate nickname for her. They many times act like newlyweds. He even sings to her with his guitar.

Another couple that comes to mind have been married 65 years, and a recent separation between them due to a health scare has created a much closer bond between these two “love-birds.” They hold hands while seated side-by-side on the couch. He hardly lets his wife out of his sight. He serves her every chance he gets. Kissing is still very much in vogue. The spark is still ignited!

How do you cherish your wife?

  1. Pray often with her and for her. If the vertical relationship with God stays fresh, it will certainly enhance the horizontal relationship with your wife.
  2. Live your married life for the glory of God as a first priority (Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
  3. Your wife is not your enemy but your dearest friend (Ephesians 6:12).
  4. Spend time with other married couples whose marriages are flourishing (Proverbs 27:17).
  5. Although loss of hearing and/or sight may attribute to isolationism, fight it. Continue to chat, laugh, and be together! Proverbs 5:18 is still in the Bible, Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
  6. As a man, be gracious. Don’t be an old grump complaining about everything and being against everything, even wishing for the “good old days.” Be a delight to your wife and to all those around you. But as for you, O man of God, . . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). Allow the Holy Spirit to produce the Christlife in you of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
  7. Lead your wife closer to Christ through discipleship as you permit Him to shepherd you (Psalm 23; 2 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 5:25).
  8. Show affection to your wife by holding hands, kissing, sitting together, complimenting her looks or the way she is dressed.
  9. Act like you never stopped dating!
  10. Laugh a lot! In these years, you just can’t take yourself seriously!! 🙂

Men, even in these senior years, cherish your wife!

Finish well
Every day that we are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish strong
Until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have
Finish well every day that
We are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish well

Marriage Moment #4

An enduring moment began in a house trailer many years ago.

Denise and I, like every couple, are a study of contrasts. Whoever came up with the idea that you find a mate just like yourself in every way to be your spouse? That would be boring!! Nevertheless, one of the many ways Denise and I came into marriage as opposites is in reference to the subject of coffee. To me, it was one the best aromas in the world but one of the worst in taste. To her, she loved both, aroma and taste.

Even though we started out as opposites in reference to coffee, it has now for many years become a daily, traditional, special moment. Her love for coffee every morning worked its way into the cravings of my life, and now I am an all day coffee drinker who anticipates this moment every morning!

Since the early days of our marriage, I have prepared the coffee each morning. First, I choose one of my wife’s favorite cups. You see, drinking coffee is an event, and the cup is very important as well as the process. The cream goes in first, then I use the frother because she likes a lot of foam. Then I slowly pour in the coffee all the while making sure the foam is rising. You see, I’m building up to the moment for the best part which is to come. As I hand my wife her cup of tasty warmth, that daily, ongoing marriage moment happens! It is when we . . . share three kisses that continues to brew love in our hearts for each other and says, “I love you!” (Three words, three kisses.)

Wow!! Coffee and kisses! What a moment!!

Rejoice with the wife of your youth. (Proverbs 5:18)

Marriage Moment #3

Men, Kroger’s can be a real help to your marriage!

On my way home from running this morning, I stopped to buy bananas and to check our their floral department. They have the best roses for a great price . . . $10. Sometimes they run a special for $8.

Knowing that my wife was preparing for a supper guest, our oldest daughter, she would want some fresh flowers on the table.

Men, let me share a thought with you. Always look at the clearance flowers in a bucket or two usually by the floral prep desk. Yessssss! There they were! Two buckets full of fall flowers; two kinds of sunflowers in a bunch for $1.99 each!!

The marriage moment came when I arrived home with my find for my sweetheart. She met me with joy and appreciation as she was in the middle of preparing a live arrangement for the dining room table. The finished project can be seen above.

You see, men, this moment stretched into all day as these flowers stood as an anchor to this arrangement and a testament to thoughtfulness, love, beauty, care, and . . . just because. And, all it took was a stop at Kroger’s and $4. My wife doesn’t mind that I sometimes go after the clearance items because it is all a part of continuing to build and work at our marriage which is more important.

Husbands, what marriage moments have you created this week for your beloved?

By the way, men, I’ll see you at Kroger’s! The flower department is usually near the produce department.