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.

Another Marriage Moment

(Rough Ridge Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway)

How do you have marriage moments when your spouse is out of town?

This week, my wife has been in central Kentucky serving her mom and dad along with her sisters as my father-in-law continues to battle congestive heart failure. I am so grateful she still has her parents here on this side of heaven and the blessed assurance of eternity together on the other side (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)!!

When Denise is away like this or out of town speaking at a ladies’ event, it is so important for us to stay connected. Therefore, I am grateful for our phones. We can text and chat whenever needed and best of all, catch up at the end of day and pray together. For all these years, no matter where we are, we make every effort to end the night in prayer. This is the most important marriage moment . . . when we pray together. We may be miles apart, but what a blessed privilege it is to meet at the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Men, do you pray with your wife? As I said in last Friday’s post, a moment by definition is “a very brief period of time; an exact point in time; an appropriate time for doing something; an opportunity; formally, importance.” Praying with your wife is always an appropriate action. It is a great opportunity to join your hearts together before the One Who is full of love, mercy, grace, compassion, and wisdom. It is a very important moment.

How about stopping right now or the very next moment you have and pray with your wife? Take her by the hands, praise God for her, pray for her needs, pray for your marriage, share your heart, and then expect God to hear and answer. If you are not together, then use your phone. If you can’t call, send a short text to say that you are praying for her at that moment.

Men, if you are not in the practice of praying with your wife, then simply humble yourself before the Lord and your wife and have at it today.

Growing, flourishing, and contented marriages are built upon intentional moments in prayer as you gather at the Throne of Grace.

Marriage Moment

Life is made up of multiplied thousands of moments.

A moment by definition is “a very brief period of time; an exact point in time; an appropriate time for doing something; an opportunity; formally, importance.”

Moments come and go. Moments can become treasures by choice. Moments can turn the tide. What moments have you had in your marriage this past week? Have you seized the moment?

Thursday morning, my wife and I shared in a moment that quite frankly fits into every point of the definition except for a “very brief period of time.” Usually Denise and I spend our early morning hours alone. I make her coffee and deliver it with a “good morning kiss.” Then we to go to our separate quiet areas to enjoy our brew. There we read and study the Word, transcribe our thoughts in a journal and then meet with the Lord at the Throne of Grace in prayer plus a time of exercise (she walks, I run).

Our marriage moment Thursday was an addition to our normal morning routine. After preparing breakfast, we gathered at our old oak kitchen table for good food and the reading of Paul David Tripp’s devotion, New Morning Mercies. Indeed, this moment was filled with encouragement, edification, sweet notes of love, prayer and intentional investment in our marriage.

You may not have the opportunity to have this kind of moment due to your work schedule and/or children in the house, etc. My challenge for you and your marriage is to intentionally seize the moment to be with your spouse at least for a few minutes each day. Men, in particular, look for these moments. Treasure these moments. There will be thousands of moments in your marriage lifetime.

What will be your marriage moment(s) today?

The Scenic Route in Marriage

No beach trip this summer . . . bummer!! For several years, my wife and I have begun the summer season with a trip to North Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island.

Well. thanks to COVID, our plans, like yours, have been constantly rearranged. Oh well , , , we have just continued on the scenic route in our marriage.

Since I love to drive, and my wife likes to ride, we have enjoyed many, many journeys over the years. Some short, some medium and some very long. No matter, every trip is an event, an adventure on the scenic route.

This past Saturday night, I told my wife to bring a change of clothes to church on Sunday and be prepared to head out after our morning ministries.

Watagua Lake has been our “most-go-to place” since the middle of March, so the destination decision was not difficult. Our afternoon trip began with an “On the Go Order” from Dunkin Donuts for refreshing iced tea. Then it was a stop at KFC for a four-piece grilled chicken dinner to go. Our favorite spot at the lake is Watagua Point. Since it was Labor Day weekend, all the picnic tables were taken. No problem. We grabbed our camping chairs and found a somewhat shady spot with a fabulous view of the lake and the mountains in the background. Just being together was all we needed.

After dinner, Denise took a nap, and I read. We chatted, prayed, took pictures, went for a walk, shared the blessings from the morning church gatherings, and just enjoyed being together.

The key to taking the scenic route in marriage is just simply enjoying the journey and most of all, the one you are with!! We made memories. We made an intentional investment in our marriage. We held hands, kissed, and hugged each other. As we say, “We like us!”

No matter whether your beach trip has been cancelled or COVID has rearranged your plans, you are still married. Make the investments. Enjoy the scenic route.

Can You Find a Man?

While reading Jeremiah 5 recently, these words caught my attention:

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem;
See now and know;
And seek in her open places
If you can find a man,
If there is anyone who executes justice,
Who seeks the truth,
And I will pardon her
. (5:1)

In Jeremiah’s day, Jerusalem was a corrupt city. If a man could be found that sought the truth and executed justice, God would hold back His judgment. It was as if there was not even one man who did right and sought after truth.

When we see the course of so many men in our nation today living out their unbridled passion for violence cloaked in terms of justice and making decisions based upon lies, we wonder, where are the men of truth and justice?

It is time for us to rise up and be those men! We need to be men who love God, love our wives, and love life.

A man who loves God searches for the truth in the pages of God’s Word. We must be like Ezra who prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel (7:10). Sir, are you a seeker of truth who can be found in the “open places” declaring truth to others? Are you walking justly (Micah 6:8) because truth dwells in your heart? A man who has something to say is one who loves and personally knows the truth of God’s Word! The world doesn’t need anymore human viewpoint!! We must be men who are known in the streets for speaking Truth!

A man who loves his wife lives out Ephesians 5:18-33 by the grace of God. He is able to love his wife correctly because he loves God with all of his heart (Matthew 22:37). Furthermore, a husband who submits to God (5:21) will have no problem living a life of servant submission to his wife. Men, you don’t need a better wife to be happy. You need to be the best servant husband for your wife and the testimony of the gospel (Philippians 2:1-8). What do you say in the “streets” of your town about your wife and about marriage in particular? Does your love for her portray to a lost world the glories of marriage; the gospel of Jesus Christ? We must be men who are known in the streets for full-on loyalty to their wives!

A man who loves God and his wife will also love life. With all the fluctuation and mandates about COVID-19 as well as the division and sin in our country, sometimes it’s hard to love life. Solomon laments in Ecclesiastes 2:18, Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. “The healthy Christian believer certainly would not hate life, no matter how difficult the circumstances might be. Certainly some great men . . . have [even] wanted to die, such as Job, Moses, Elijah, and Jonah, but we must not take these special instances as examples for us to follow. All of these men finally changed their minds. The Christian should love life (1 Peter 3:10; Psalm 34:12), seeking to put the most into it and getting the most out of it, to the glory of God. We may not enjoy everything in life, or be able to explain everything about life, but that is not important. We live by promises and not by explanations, and we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).”(Warren Wiersbe) We must be men who are known in the streets for loving life!

Hey man, what are you known for “in the streets”?