For Cryin’ Out Loud!

Well, I did it again!! Third time!

First time, I totally destroyed it.

Second time, I broke off a piece but was able to glue it back on.

Third time, well, look at the picture above!

When it happened last week, my wife was standing in the garage watching me. She threw her hands into her face and wildly gestured that I was about to hit the side of the garage door frame, but . . . it was too late! Me, well, I was absolutely frustrated and seeing dollar signs! And in Cunningham fashion repeating to myself, “Dear, oh, dear!!”

Bless her heart, when she got in the passenger side of her Jeep, she simply said, “It’s just stuff.”

There are so many applications to this story.

  1. In eternity, it will not matter. Yes, I need to be a good steward of what the Lord has entrusted to me such as a vehicle because it belongs to Him . . and it is my wife’s Jeep! But it is just stuff that I will leave behind someday. So why get so uptight about it (Revelation 21:1-7).
  2. Once again, the frail condition of man was on display. As for man, his days are like grass, as a flower of the field, so he flourishes (Psalm 103:15).
  3. Plastic does not compare to metal. So much of this world’s things or desires are plastic and hold no value or longevity. 1 John 2:17 reminds us that the world is passing away along with its desires.
  4. Just as the mirror shattered, so does some of the things in this life. As I read this morning, Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever (Psalm 125:1).
  5. Getting old along with failing eye sight are reminders of a better day when Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).
  6. Everyday is a reminder of our total dependence upon God for wisdom, strength, endurance, and supply. I am weak. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him (Psalm 28:7).
  7. Here’s another time to preach the Truth to myself and not listen to myself.
  8. I am not in control of anything! Even my driving. Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor (Proverbs 18:12).

Although I do not drive my wife’s Jeep very often, and now you know why (hahaha), every time I look in that mirror, I’ll want to say, “For cryin’ out loud,” but I will be reminded of one or more of the lessons of life as listened above.

Might as well go ahead and enjoy the journey. We are not Home yet!

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?

Prayer Warriors!!

This was one of the best moments of Men’s Prayer Advance 2021.

After our first session on Saturday morning, I went out to my car and upon returning to the church building and entering the foyer, this is what I saw.

What’s so awesome about this picture?

  1. Men praying!!! Jesus said, Men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1). How grateful I am for women who pray like portrayed by Clara in the movie War Room, but the leaders of prayer in every church should be the men. Charles Stanley puts it this way, Always remember that God is bigger than any problem you face, and the distance between your success and failure or your victory and defeat is the distance between your knees and the floor as you kneel before your wondrous Lord and Savior in surrendered prayer. You are never taller or stronger than while on your knees!
  2. This is the will of God for men. We read in 1 Timothy 2:8, I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. We are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you
  3. This is what real men of God do. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another . . . . The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).
  4. This is a demonstration of humility; of dependence upon God. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:5-7).
  5. This is spontaneous, “let’s take it to the Lord in prayer.” There was a burden, a need, and one of these men took the initiative to lead these men to prayer. It didn’t matter what was going on around them, they went to the Throne of Grace. Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18). Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
  6. This is an awesome display of the unity of the brethren (Psalm 133:1). Paul encouraged the men in the church at Rome, I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf (Romans 15:30).

Men, may I encourage you to be the prayer leaders in your family, your church, and wherever you go? When your wife has a need, stop and pray with her. When your children come to you asking for wisdom, teach them by your example to seek the Lord’s wisdom through prayer. When you hear of a need at church, gather some men together like this picture and pray. Instead of talking about the politics, perils and problems of the world in conversations at church, pray! Before you pray for your meal at the restaurant, ask your server how you can pray for them.

Men, today, let’s be a warrior on our knees; a real man of faith and prayer!! Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)

When a man is at his wits’ end, it is not a cowardly thing to pray; it is the only way he can get in touch with Reality. (Oswald Chambers)

My Top 3 Books in 2020

Confession #1: I love the smell of a new book! Every coffee shop should have the aroma of Barnes & Noble!

Confession #2: I wish we could read by osmosis because there are so many books I want to read!

So, having said that, here are my top 3 reads for 2020!

#1 The Bible

Now, don’t moan and groan on this one and say, “Well, I figured you’d say that!” Seriously, let me share with you a few reasons why it is number one.

  • The Author is transcendently holy (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3; 57:15), righteous, (Psalm 11:7), good (Psalm 34:8), eternal (Isaiah 40:28), immutable (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), omniscient (Psalm 147:5; Proverbs 15:3; 1 John 3:20) and true (Revelation 19:11-16).
  • The Author is omnipresent with me and in me speaking directly to my heart and life. (Psalm 139:7-8; Acts 17:24-28;
  • The Author’s words are absolute truth and always relevant to all of my life al the time. (Psalm 19; Proverbs 30:5; John 8:32; 14:6; 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16)
  • The Author is reveals Himself to me for His glory and my good. (Psalm 46:1; John 16:13-15; Romans 16:25-26)
  • If these few are not sufficient, then read and reread Psalm 119. Meditate on it. Read it out loud. The Word changes lives!

May I challenge you to choose a Bible reading plan for 2021? May I also challenge you to read it to know God, to listen to Him speak through His words, and to see your daily life affected by the Author of Life! The best moments of your life for all time on this earth will be spent in His Word and in prayer. If you do not have a personal relationship with God the Father through Christ alone, then lovingly I ask, would you read the Gospel of John (4th book of the New Testament) and then the Epistle of 1 John located near the book of Revelation. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103).

#2 The Saving Life of Christ, Major Ian Thomas

To be in Christ–that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you–that is sanctification! To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ—that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you—that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home—the other makes this world His workshop. (Thomas, p. 20)

The very essence of this book and the reason for reading it is wrapped up in the words of Evangelist Ron Lynch: In order for you to live the Christian life, you must understand that it is the Savior’s life. Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you. You die to live. It’s Christ who manifests Himself through you that makes the difference. He does not do away with your individuality nor your personality, but when people meet you they need to meet Him. (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27).

How often believers are tempted to think in these terms . . .”I just can’t live the Christian life.” Friend, we are not called to life the Christian life. The truth is, Jesus Christ did not live the Christian life. He is the Christian life. Understanding your position in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14), coming to know Christ (Philippians 3:10) and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-11), is the life to live.

#3 Rejoicing in the Christ, Michael Reeves

With so much of our attention in 2020 upon COVID, these two reads have reminded me of the Greater Subject, the Theme of themes, the Person of Christ. Also, in the midst of such sorrow, grieve, pain, loss, misunderstanding, cynicism, and human viewpoint, this book is about much-needed joy in the Christian life, about rejoicing in the Person of Jesus Christ as we share in the life of Christ!

What a far cry this is from the exhausting idea that Christ has done his bit and now it’s time to do ours! We are not chained to the task of trying to pay back the huge debt we owe him. We are united to the Son so we can enter into his life. Our joy, our prayers, our mission, our holiness, our suffering, our hope: all are a participation in the life of the Son. We are not simply given some thing called “eternal life” and then sent out to get on with it. We are not forerunners with final responsibility. He is the firstborn; we live in His slipstream. (p. 93)

What a truth!! We all participate in the life of Christ!! It’s not my life, but His life (Galatians 2:20).

Most of my reading this year was spurred on by attending the Men’s Prayer Advance and hearing Ron Lynch preach about the Christ Life. I would highly recommend you attending this year! Three days of meeting with God in prayer, worship, singing, preaching, praise, and fellowship!!! You will be changed for His glory!! Check it out by visiting christlifemin.org.

What books will you visit in 2021? Will you live in the Bible?

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

Finish Well

A few weeks ago, I was driving down Route 75 near my home in Johnson City, TN, and I heard the following lyrics on the radio sung by Karen Peck and New River.


FINISH WELL
There will come a day
I know without a doubt
Around the throne the saints will bow
And lay down every crown
How glorious that moment
To see Him face to face
To hear Him say “well done my child”
You’ve finished your race
But for now the sun’s still rising
There’s work to still be done
While we’re waiting for the promise
Of what is yet to come.

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.

There’s no truth in saying
We’ve seen our better days
These are the days to be courageous
Bold and full of faith
So wherever He may lead us
Whatever it may cost
Let the Church arise and lift
The banner of the cross.

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

It wasn’t long until I had tears streaming down my face as the Holy Spirit took those lyrics and reminded me that as a man, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a pastor, a mentor, and a friend, I needed to be reminded, encouraged and exhorted to Finish Well. Since then, every time I hear this song, I am taken back to that location along Route 75 that God spoke to my heart.

Men, those of us who are considered senior citizens, we are in the last years of our lives on earth. We arrived here so quick it seems. There are many blessings to being a 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).

In this post, I want to encourage us in the first of three areas to Finish Well.

  1. Christ Your Life

At this age, we can be prone to think that our best days are behind us. That old age is our cross to bear. We can’t work like we used to. Our vision, hearing, and minds are failing us. We just can’t keep up with the youngsters. Bottom line, we are not the men we used to be. For many, we feel like we have basically lost our identity.

Well, I have good news for us. If you are truly a born again man, you have not lost your identity. Your identity is not in you and your old age condition, your identity is in Christ and it is as fresh as the day you were born again (John 3:1-16).

Men, the Christian life is . . . Christ (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:5-7; 5:17; Col. 1:27-29)
In order for you to live the Christian life, you must understand that it is the Savior’s life.
 Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you.
 To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you.
 You die to live. It’s Christ who manifests Himself through you that makes the difference. He does not do away with your individuality nor your personality, but when people meet you they need to meet Him. (The well-said bullet points are from Evangelist Ron Lynch.)

Truth is, Christ lives His life through us so much so that you do not live the Christian life. Christ did not live the Christian life. He IS the Christian life. Therefore, come to know Him, fellowship with Him, store up His thoughts in your mind, and share Him with others (Philippians 3:10; 2 Peter 3:18). As you come to learn of Christ and walk with Him, you will think His thoughts and your responses will not be you but the Christ in you.

No matter your age, the issue is Christ . . . your life (Galatians 2:20)!! So, enjoy the journey, men, and 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.