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

Men, Your Daughters Are Watching You

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To balance the scales in reference to yesterday’s post, may I, from my heart, challenge dads to consider their impact upon their daughters?

God graciously lent us three daughters to raise for His glory.  He saw fit to take our middle daughter before she ever experienced the outside world of sin.  She was stillborn twenty-nine years ago.  What a reunion awaits us in Glory when our family will be together again for all eternity!

In spite of all the trials, bumps, mistakes, tears, miscalculations, and naivety of raising two girls, I assure you that the blessings far outweigh all the aforementioned.   We are richly blessed!  But . . . it takes hard work, time in the Word, and MUCH PRAYER!!!

So with that said, men, may I ask . . . what are your daughters learning from you by your example and through your instruction?

May I strongly encourage you to go back through yesterday’s list and replace all the boy/son references to girl/daughter?

And let’s add the following.

  1. Men, do you want your daughters to marry a man like you? They are watching how you treat their mother, how you honor or dishonor her and what you say about and to her.  They hear your vocal tones, your words of endearment or criticism as well as your body actions.  Men, do you seat your wife at the table, open the car door for her, send her loving texts, bring her flowers, buy her a new dress, etc.?
  2. Men, do you “date” your daughters? Some of the best times of my life have been spent at a gas station eating a donut with my oldest daughter . . . an every Friday morning school day routine when she was in junior high, attending a Southern Gospel concert together, driving through the night to deliver a package to a plant in Chicago, etc.  And then, there was the joy of a Starbucks chat with my youngest or the meal date before heading off to college or a meal date with both girls when they were in college, or a trip to Dairy Queen.  Men, you need to date your wife and your daughters.
  3. Men, your daughters need time with you because they need your security, your listening ear, your loving heart, your connection with their lives. If they don’t get it from you . . . then they will seek it from some fella at school or on the internet.
  4. Men, do you encourage your daughters; do you affirm them? (Ephesians 6:4)
  5. Do you show them unconditional love? (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
  6. Dads, in an absolutely appropriate way, do you still hold your daughters, hug them, kiss them on the cheek, and express your love for them?
  7. Do you treat your daughters with respect or talk down to them?
  8. Do you bring them flowers every-once-in-awhile?

To my two daughters who are now married, how blessed to be your dad!!  My heart is full when you and your husbands are able to visit and we gather around our table or sit in our living room, to hear the laughter, quote our Andy lines, share our joys and heartaches, laugh at each other and just be family.  How awesome to see you continue to grow in your relationships with God and your husbands!!

Accomplishing anything good as a father is ONLY by the grace of God and His sovereign leadership.

Men, your daughters are watching you.

Here are two recommend links that offer further insight:

Why Daughters Need Their Dads

Dads and the Daughters They Love

Ordinary Christianity

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Ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, uninspired, undistinguished, indifferent, unexceptional, unexciting, unremarkable, run-of-the-mill.  These are all words synonymous with a word that means “of only moderate quality; not very good.”

That word—mediocre.

Mediocrity describes too much of daily life today at home, the work place, in businesses, churches, entertainment, and sadly at times in my own life.  Yet, I believe that the worst place for mediocrity to raise its indifferent, ordinary head is in a born-again Christian’s life.

Consider what the Bible says about mediocrity:

Romans 12:11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17,23  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.

Simply put, a mediocre Christian is one whose thirst for God has waned over time, and sadly, he/she  doesn’t realize it.  Instead of giving diligence to his growth in Christ, to add to his original faith in Christ (2 Peter 1:3-7, 10), he has become barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (1:8-9).

As we heard last night in our Men with a Mission weekly ministry, “Mediocrity cheapens the grace of God.”

Are you a mediocre Christian?  Here are 10 questions taken from last night’s lesson to ask yourself to determine your level of mediocrity.  Read each one carefully and thoughtfully.  Do not rush through the list or be mediocre about it.

  1. Is your thirst for God growing?
  2. Are you more and more loving?
  3. Are you more sensitive to and aware of God?
  4. Are you governed more and more by His Word?
  5. Are you more and more concerned for others?
  6. Are you more and more concerned over the Church/the Body of Christ?
  7. Are the disciplines of the Christian life more important to you?
  8. Are you more and more aware of sin?
  9. Are you more and more forgiving of others?
  10. Are you thinking more and more of heaven?

When you are cold, you want to be close to the fire.  How’s the fire in your Christian life?  That will be determined by how close you want to walk with Christ.  That will be determined by your vine/branch relationship with Christ (John 15:1-11). You are as close as you want to be; you are as zealous as you want to; you are as zealous as you want to be. God does not force His will on anyone.

The remedy for mediocrity:

For me to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21)

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17‭-‬18)

When we stand before Christ one day at the Bema and our works will be judged, do you want Him to say, “Well done for being completely mediocre.”?

Dying to Self

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For seventeen Monday nights in-a-row which started January 1, men have been gathering at Boones Creek Bible Church for an intensive discipleship study entitled Men With a Mission.  The seventeen lessons are a serious call to commitment, dedication, and sacrifice with the goal of fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:2, And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. These lessons, if applied, will develop godly men, build strong leaders, build godly homes, help with the basics of the Christian life, and accomplish Christ’s final command.

Our study last night, Dying to Self, drew us to the Word of God to discover what it means to die to self and the process of dying to self (Matt. 6:19-33; 8:18-22; 10:32-39; 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-26; 14:25-33; John 13:13-17; Romans 6; 12:1-3; Philippians 2; Colossians 3; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 12:1-2).

Below you will find a pointed, helpful application of what “dying to self” looks like. May I challenge you, in prayer, to look at each point, meditate on it, let the Holy Spirit speak to you, and see where you need, by the grace of God, to die to self. . . minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. 

Dying to Self

When you are not forgiven,

or neglected,

or purposely set at naught,

and you sting and hurt

with the insult and the oversight,

but your heart is happy

because you count it worthy to suffer for Christ:

that is self-denial.

When your good is evil spoken of,

when your wishes are crossed,

your advice is disregarded,

your opinions are ridiculed,

you refuse to let anger rise in your heart

or even defend yourself,

you take it all in patient, loving silence:

that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder,

any irregularity,

or any annoyance,

when you can stand face to face with waste

and folly

and extravagance

and spiritual insensitivity,

and endure it as Jesus endured it:

that is dying to self.

When you’re content with any food,

any offering,

any clothes,

any climate,

any society,

any solitude,

any interruption by the will of God:

that is dying to self.

When you can never care to refer to yourself in conversation,

or to record your own good works,

or itch after commendation,

when you can love to be unknown:

that is dying to self.

When you see your brother prosper

and have his needs met,

and honestly rejoice with him in spirit

and feel no envy,

nor question God,

while your own needs are far greater and unmet:

that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof

from one of less stature than yourself,

and humbly submit

inwardly as well as outwardly,

finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heart:

that is dying to self.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself,
and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world,
and loses or forfeits himself?
– Luke 9:23-25 –

A Touch of Heaven

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It is now 355 days away, and yes, I am counting, until we gather again for the Friday evening session of Men’s Prayer Advance!  Every year, I must say that it is a “little bit of heaven on earth.”  There is a genuine spirit of expectancy; a passion to worship in song, prayer and praise; a longing to hear the Word preached again; and an unparalleled unity among men before the Throne of God!

How is it that over 600 men gathered in one auditorium are singing with all their heart and voice, even if they have no musical ability?  How is it that these men are uninhibited in their expressions of love for God and surrender to God?  How is that men are willing to clap and/or raise their hands in praise, shout for joy, and even move to the altar in conviction even during a sermon, pray with such honesty and transparency, and not be ashamed to confess Christ before their peers?

I believe the answer is found in Exodus 14:30-31, Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. 

And then note their response to the Lord’s working as recorded in Exodus 15:1-3 and following,

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;

    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

2 The Lord is my strength and my song,

    and he has become my salvation;

this is my God, and I will praise him,

    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

3 The Lord is a man of war;

    the Lord is his name.

The Children of Israel had been exposed to the character and works of God!  They saw, listened, believed and then worshiped!

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The Friday night service is a touch of heaven because we arrive on Thursday afternoon in need of a touch from God, a heart-change.  From the very first general session until Friday night, we are exposed to powerful, convicting preaching; many times of prayer with another man or in groups; CPR prayer (confession, praise, requests) in our Thursday half-night of prayer; Sweet Hour of Prayer on Friday mid-morning; breakout sessions that deal with men’s heart issues; and music that magnifies Christ, glorifies God, and lifts the soul!

So, when Friday night rolls around, you have over 600 men who are ready to worship because as we heard this year, “we are not cleaner, we are CLEAN” before the Lord!

You know, Sunday services at church, for instance, should be times of awesome worship, too, if we are being exposed every day to the Word and broken in prayer!  When you have a daily fresh encounter with God Who is your Holy, Loving, Just, Righteous, Awesome, Transcendent Heavenly Father, it will affect your worship!  And as Romans 12:1-2 reminds us, worship is 24-7 . . . not just on Sundays or Men’s Prayer Advance.

So, are you giving God Exodus 15 kind of praise today?

Are your co-workers experiencing salt and light (Matthew 5:14-15) and seeing Matthew 5:16 fulfilled in their lives because you have been exposed to the Son?

Will today in your home before your family and next Sunday at your church be a touch of heaven because you are clean?

As we were so challenged this year, we must “keep the clay wet” (Jeremiah 18:6); “shut the door” (Matthew 6:5-15); and “stay in faith” (Hebrews 11:6).

(If you want to watch the services, check out this site as well as the other links: Thursday NIght Service 1.26.17)

Been to the Holy Land Twice in One Month

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“Why go to Israel?”  “Aren’t you afraid?”  “You wouldn’t catch me dead over there.”  “This isn’t a good time to go over there.”  These are only an assortment of questions and statements I heard in the days leading up to our trip.

Why did we go?  Because Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.  He is the most important person in my life and will be for all eternity. He died and rose again for me, and my heart and life is enriched by being in the place where He ministered, suffered, was rejected, crucified, buried and rose again for me and the whole world!

Why go to Israel? God’s Word is the most important book in my life.  His Word is forever alive (Isaiah 40:6-8; Hebrews 4:12), but it becomes 3-D when you have an opportunity to visit Capernaum, ride a boat on the Sea of Galilee, visit the Garden of Gethsemane, sing “Jesus Paid It All” in the prison where He was scourged, stand at the Garden Tomb, and walk the Mt. of Olives where Jesus will return at His Second Coming (Acts 1:9-11).

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My second Holy Land visit this month occurred last Thursday through Saturday as men from our church joined 600 plus other men in Roanoke, VA, for the annual Men’s Prayer Advance (christlifemin.org).  What an absolute thrill to unite with these men in genuine heart-felt singing; multiple opportunities for passionate, honest prayer; listening to soul-stirring, Holy Spirit convicting preaching; and watch God at work in changing lives for His glory!!

Israel and Men’s Prayer Advance, two trips to what I’ll call the Holy Land because these were days set apart to meet with our Lord, to know Him better, to hear His voice, to walk in His will, and to gather at His Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Oh, by the way, I’ll be walking in the Holy Land today, too, because everywhere I go, Christ is there.  He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrew 13:5-6); He dwells within me (Colossians 1:27).

A Husband’s Awesome Assignment

download (1)We men are extremely task-oriented.  We love to accomplish, conquer, and fix things. Over the years, I have jumped too quick to take care of my wife’s needs and find out that the task would have been simpler if I’d just waited a moment, listen to her further, or best of all, prayed about it.   But, I was the man on the job!

When it comes to tasks, projects, and accomplishments, husbands, do know about the assignment God has given you in Ephesians 5:25-28?

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

This passage is a beautiful word picture of the relationship between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. Because Christ is the Savior of the Body (Ephesians 5:23) and gave Himself up for the Church (5:25), He will present her to Himself in awesome, holy splendor as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2).

Since this word picture uses marriage as its example, I believe there is something very telling in this passage for husbands.  Christ has given Himself for us, sanctified us, and will present us to Himself.  Husbands, in the word picture, are you discipling your wife in such a way that you could present her to the Lord as a woman of God because you intentionally invested in her spiritual growth?  Could you look at Christ and say, “I’ve done my best to help my wife know You, love You, serve You, and walk with You.”?

How can that happen?  Here’s some suggestions:

  • Pray with her every day; before you go to work, during the day from work, at meal times and when you go to bed. Hold hands and meet at the greatest place in the universe—the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).
  • Make sure she has time to study God’s Word. If you have young children and her time is maxed taking care of them, when you come home from work, spend time with the kids and give your wife the opportunity to get along with God.
  • Put your wife in spiritual growth opportunities such as sending her to the Ladies Retreat @ the Wilds, and/or making sure she participates in a Ladies Bible Study at church, and be faithful to attend your local church.
  • Pray specifically for her to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
  • Share with each other every day what you have learned from your time in the Word and prayer.
  • Share how you have seen God at work in your lives.
  • Read a book together on a date, before you go to bed, after supper, etc.  (i.e. Marriage, Christian growth)
  • Rejoice with her with she sees answers to prayer, and weep with her when her heart is burdened (Romans 12:15).

Men, we have an awesome responsibility to come alongside our wives and grow together in Christ!  The eternal things are of far more value than the temporal, earthly things. You take the lead; you encourage; you disciple. Be ready “to present” her to the Lord!

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The Making of a Man: Who You Listen To

Who is the person you listen to more than anyone else?  Bob Kesling (UT Radio Voice)?  Brad Nessler (ESPN)? Shepard Smith (FoxNews)? Your children?  Your wife?  Your boss?  Your co-workers?  Men, the voice you listen to more than anyone else is . . . your own; your own heart.  Throughout a day, no matter what anyone says to you, you always respond to it from your heart.  See, right now, you are already responding to what I have written!  This begs us as men to consider two truths.

You must not listen to your heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Just taking this passage at face value, what does it say about your heart?  Do you want to listen to that which is deceitful, full of lies, and desperately wicked?  Do you want to listen to a heart that you cannot fathom, understand, or explain?  Then, why do you listen to yourself?  I listen to myself because I like myself.  I am selfish.  I think I have it all figured out.  See there, I am deceived.  So that leads me to the next principle that is so needed.

You must speak the truth to your heart.

Proverbs 23:7 says, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.   Instead of listening to myself, I must speak the truth to myself.  There are so many wonderful, life-changing, “keeping me on the right track,” truths from God’s Word that need to be uppermost in my mind and heart.  Here a few right out of Ephesians 1 and based upon my position in Christ:

  • Since Christ is the eternal expression of God’s greatest blessing, I am blessed forever in Christ with all spiritual blessings (3).
  • Since Christ is the Father’s eternally Chosen One, I am chosen in Christ; His forever (4).
  • Since Christ is the accepted and beloved Son of God, I am accepted in the beloved (6).
  • Since Christ is the full payment for my sin, I am redeemed through His blood (7).
  • Since Christ is the access into God’s grace, I am graced forever (7).
  • Since Christ took the wrath of God for my sin, I am reconciled to God (10).

Men, to overcome the deceitfulness of our hearts, we must constantly speak the truth to our hearts.  Stop listening to yourself and start preaching the Truth to yourself today—that’s what we need to hear!

Friday’s Findings

What a week this has been!  Winter raised its frigid head and blew in a storm of gnarly winds, bone-chilling temps, yet layered the ground with a pristine blanket of snow.  Quite, frankly, its just been another typical week in the life of a child of God.  And as always, it must be said, “God is good all the time; all the time God is good.”  So, here’s a few blog posts to end the week that you might find edifying, challenging, and humorous.  Looking for the Lord Jesus Christ to return today!  Will He find you and me watching and faithful? I heard Dr. Charles Wagner say many years ago in a sermon, “The imminent return of Christ should have immediate effects upon my life!”

Why Don’t Choir Members Smile

Three Reasons Why Bible Reading Can Feel Like a Chore

Fifteen Ways to Honor Your Wife

Our Home Heating Unit Is Broken and We Think It’s Funny

Only Just For Fun

Marriage Matters: At the Altar

While scrolling through my Facebook page yesterday, this beautiful picture brought back an extremely special memory.  Two years ago, my wife and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary at Whitestone Inn, Kingston, TN (Whitestoneinn). While strolling along through the property, we walked into this beautiful, pristine chapel. After surveying the building, I took Denise by the hand and we knelt at the altar.  I will never forget the tears, the joy, the offering of thanks, the reminiscing, the closeness to each other and our God, and the uninterrupted time at the Throne of Grace.

Men, why do we need to pray with our wives? 

1.  Leadership

We need to take the lead in prayer. Most wives are waiting for you to do so.  Even if she has been born again longer than you, she wants you to take the lead.  She loves to hear you pray.  She loves to hear you call out her name in prayer.  The issue is not you “getting all the prayer words right.”  The issue is Jesus Christ, Who makes our feeble prayers powerful and perfect before the Throne because He is our Righteous Advocate (1 John 2:1-2).

Men always ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1)

2.  Intimacy

The greatest intimacy you will know is when you are bowing before the Throne of Grace acknowledging your need personally and for your marriage. Men, we must not be afraid to get honest with God in the presence of our wives.  They will respect you more for your transparency and dependence upon Almighty God as you seek His face for guidance, answers, and wisdom.

Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; for I am poor and needy. (Psalm 86:1)

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

3.  Understanding 

Praying with your wife enables you to dwell with them in an understanding way, and it honors your wife, your sister in Christ. When you start praying with your wife and listening to her pray, then will cease the sad statement heard by men the world over, “I will never understand my wife!”

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Men, you don’t have to find a chapel altar, although it would certainly be special.  If your wife is seated, you kneel at the chair, take her by the hands, and pray for and with her.  When you go to bed, take her by the hand and lead in prayer before you drift off to sleep.  When the call for prayer is heard from the pulpit, take her by the hand and go to the altar and pray with her.  If you are on a date, stop by a creek on that hike and have prayer together or in the coffee shop or in the car.  That prayer altar can be anywhere . . . because God is there.  Marriage matters at the altar.