Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #11

pothole

OH, NO!!  I tried to avoid it, but….

Nailed it dead center! Yes, that huge pothole in the road.  It was pitch black at night, raining and I didn’t see it in time.  After about needing to see a chiropractor due to the jarring we received and a loan officer to pay the tire bill, I learned again that potholes are definitely to be avoided!!!

Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #6

Watagua Lake

(Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes)

As my wife and I were walking through the local mall one day, an immodestly dressed woman came toward us.  As she approached, I turned my eyes to look the other direction.  A few moments later my wife said, “Thank you for looking the other way.”  Wow!  I did not even think she saw my eyes from her vantage point, but on that occasion for more than one reason was I glad I chose the right response!!

Your wife will find security/protection in your open, honest, loving communication, your continual pursuit, but thirdly, in keeping your eyes to yourself.

Men, the allurements of the flesh are all around us.  Satan is aware of our weaknesses and our old sin nature is fully equipped to tempt us into allowing sin to enter into our eye-gate.  You cannot clean up the world around you, but you can make choices to keep yourself clean.  Sometimes those choices must be radical.  I promise you, when you choose to say “no” to temptation, the joy and security you give to your wife and the blessing of your own obedience will be something you will never regret!

Husbands, memorize and meditate on the following passages that we may turn from evil to our wives and give them further security in our love.

Job 31:1  I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

Psalm 119:37  Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Psalm 101:3  I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The fourth area of security is to realize your wife needs you.  She needs you to be with her, to be all there when you’re there!

riverfront restaurant

We men are often accused of “being checked out.”  We are so preoccupied with the stuff around us, our day at work, the next project we want to complete, etc.  Our wives are talking to us, and we don’t hear them.  We have that glazed look in our eyes along with a wondering mind.

Have you ever had your wife say to you, “What did I just say?”  Oh boy!  I’ve been sunk on that one way too many times!

You know, men, if your wife is a stay-at-home mom, she most likely has had child-level conversations all day.  She needs an adult to talk to.  That should be you.  She longs for you to listen, and sometimes men, only listen.  If she is sharing an issue or a problem, don’t try to fix it so you can move on to what you want to do.  Just listen.  When she is done, take her in your arms, hold her tight, and then pray with her and for her.  Be her rock of security that tenderly says by your actions, “Baby, I’m all here for you.”

Men, take a cue from Solomon.  When you read this passage, you are struck with his attention to the details about his wife.  Now, you probably don’t want to tell your beloved that her hair is like a flock of goats!!  But, don’t miss the point.  That was a term of endearment in Solomon’s day.  So, choose some words that your wife would love to hear, and when you are with her, and you are all there, be detailed about how precious she is to you like Solomon did for his wife.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in rows of stone;[a]
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that graze among the lilies.  (Song of Solomon 4:1-5)

Another part of being all there when you are there, men, is well-described by the following (Hat-tip here to the anonymous author): “Time is the ‘currency’ of relationships, so invest as much time as you can into your marriage. You need to make money, but don’t use your career as an excuse to be absent. When you are home, be present, not distracted or glued to a screen. Work hard, but also remember that your family can do with less of almost anything if it means having more of you.”

On the scenic route, one of the great pleasures of just being together, the two of you, alone, is the joy of uninterrupted conversation, continual pursuit, keeping your eyes to yourself and being all there!  Stop at the parkway overlook, on the bike path, at the ice cream shop, or by the waterfalls and enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your . . . life that He has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life . . . . Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might (Ecclesiastes 9:9-10).

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #4

Boone Tavern

There are indeed so many pleasures along the scenic route:  waterfalls, coffee shops, hiking trails, barbeque & bluegrass, pull-offs, picnic areas, wildlife, quiet, slower speed limits, unique food stops, antique shops, time with your spouse, etc.

Likewise, there are many pleasures in marriage, some of which were very active in the early years of your relationship, but sadly have become dormant as the years rolled by.  Let’s look at some of those pleasures, and I will be looking at them from a husband’s point of view.  After all, he is the loving, servant leader in the home.  So men, here we go!

Boone Tavern 2

Proverbs 18:22 reminds us, men, that our wives are a special treasure to us from God; they are a good thing (KJV). They are God’s grace gift to us.  We do not deserve our wives.  Therefore, by God’s grace we are to treasure this gift and treat her like a lady, like a special treasure.

Ephesians 5:25 says, Husbands love (agape) your wives, even as Christ also loved (agagao) the church and gave [paradidōmi – to give oneself up for, give oneself to death for, to undergo death for] Himself for it.

Men, one of the best ways to treasure our wives and enjoy pleasure in marriage is to die daily to Christ and to ourselves so we can live for Christ and our dear wives. Therefore, one of the first areas of pleasure in marriage is being your wife’s “knight in shining armor” whereby you protect her; she finds security in you.

God designed men and women with particular needs they cannot meet on their own. Part of the goal of marriage is for husbands and wives to meet those needs for each other.  Therefore, one of the greatest needs of a woman is for security. Her most secure environment is one in which she is married to a sacrificial, sensitive, loving, caring, godly man.  She should find her utmost security in Christ, but next of all, in her husband.

A great example of this is found in the budding relationship of Boaz and Ruth.  Read Ruth 2:8-13, and look at how Boaz treated Ruth. No wonder she ended up marrying him!!

Men, your wife will find security in open, honest, consistent communication.

Recently, I heard Evangelist David Young say, “A leader knows the way and uses words!”  Compare 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:26.  In the first passage, a wife is encouraged to not nag or preach to her husband when he is unsaved or not living in fellowship with the Lord.  She is to be silent and let God work in her husband’s heart.  Now that is contrary to all the jokes and statements about women.  Supposedly, according to research, you know “the experts” research, that woman speak over 20,000 words-a-day, and men speak around 7,000 words-a-day.  According to Ephesians 5:26, the man is to be the leader in speaking in the home.  Just as Christ is setting apart and cleansing the church through the spoken Word of God, a husband is to set his wife apart and help her live a pure life through speaking Truth to her, praying Truth with her, and leading her by the Truth.

Husbands, Satan loves our secrets and our silence.  We must be men who talk.  Men who speak truth.  Men who speak up.  Men who do not hide in silence because we don’t want to confront sin or take risks.

Men, talking with your wife will breathe new life into your relationship.  Put down your phone.  Turn off the ballgame or fishing show. Share your heart with your wife; engage in meaningful conversation.  Be honest!  Be open!

Husbands, when you speak, also remember that how you say something says so much to your wife.  Your communication, attitude in speech, and tone are either building up trust in your wife or tearing it down. Consider the following:

  1. Think before you speak.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

  1. Choose your words carefully.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

  1. Speak words of edification, endearment, encouragement, exhortation, and grace not destruction.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).

  1. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by your words.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

  1. Learn to genuinely listen to what your wife is saying as well as to what she is not saying.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

  1. Use your words as a grace gift to your wife because God gave you words and the ability to use them. Don’t abuse His gift.  (Genesis 1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

The scenic route gives you time to pull over and talk without interruption.  That “scenic route” can be after the kids go to bed, or after supper without any electronic devices, or on the back porch as well as on a literal journey down on the scenic route.  Some of the best discussions my wife and I have had were sitting on a picnic bench overlooking the valley below, sitting in the rocking chairs on the front porch of a country store, nested beside each other in a cozy coffee shop, walking together through a quaint town, swinging together on our porch swing or sitting on the rocks by a mountain stream . . . just to mention a few.

Men, there are pleasures in marriage, and the first one is the security your wife finds in you as you talk to her, listen to her and always share your heart with her.

Men, take the scenic route.  Lead and use words.

Sandwiches & Stories

“You used a Black & Decker drill to perform surgery on a man in jail?”  That was my response a few years ago as an OB-GYN doctor serving in medical missions in Africa told her story while we were gathered around our dining room table.  Even better was the fact that this man later came to believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-13).

This story was one of probably a thousand or more in my lifetime! Growing up in a pastor’s home provided many opportunities for evangelists, college presidents, pastors, and missionaries to put their feet under our kitchen table and/or sleep in our guest bedroom.

I can remember as a grade school aged boy sitting at the kitchen table after an evening church service listening to all kinds of ministry stories.  Those memories are also a part of my junior and senior high school days as well as college.

With eyes wide open and ears open even wider, those narratives told me that life was full of blessings, fun, hardships, trials, laughter, questions, burdens, answers to prayer, rich in Bible knowledge and application, and tears to name a few.  But no doubt about it, those stories from real Christians revealed a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and an unshakable faith in an awesome, faithful, promise-keeping God!

Interesting enough, I did not learn until long after I had left home that it was my dad who invited most of those folks home.  My mom really did not like duty in the kitchen.  That was just not her “cup-of-tea.”  I share this to encourage you.  Our meals were usually very simple.  The table was not elaborately set.  Mom used what she had, and in our early days at home, that was not much.

You see, it was not the food at the table I remember or how the table was decorated that has left an indelible impression upon me.  Most assuredly, it was all those hours in the presence of simple servants of the Lord.

How grateful I am that many, many times, my folks would let me stay up on a school night way past bedtime to sit under the influence of such godly men and women.  The eternal influence in their eyes was always more important than the temporal influence.

May I encourage you to host missionaries, evangelists, preachers, and other servants of the Lord in your home?  How cool it is to have a faithful missionary from a far-away land while eating dessert share accounts of God’s grace, protection, and answers to prayer!  What an impact it is to listen to a preacher tell about a lost soul receiving Christ as his Savior or expound the Word while eating a grilled cheese sandwich!  Oh, how wonderful to hear a college president while enjoying a bowl of corn chowder share how the Lord provided the school’s needs at just the right time!

Parents, your children need to experience this!  They need to experience it often.

Prepare the guest room, fix some sandwiches and invite a servant of the Lord into your home.  By the way, be sure to open your ears, too!

Itty-bitty Christians

This picture says so much! We found these “cute” onesies in a religious bookstore this week. Others said, “Itty bitty _________” (fill-in-the-blank with a church denomination).

I think I understand the “cute” intent of the maker and store owner, but how many of us as true, born-again believers could wear this outfit?

Itty-bitty Christians . . .

  • Are satisfied to stay an infant when it comes to spiritual growth in the Word. Instead of totally immersing themselves in the daily personal intake of the Word (Psalm 119; Ephesians 4:11-16; 5:18-20), a quick dose of an internet devotional or a religious song on Sirius XM on the way to work suffices. The outcome is an itty-bitty faith in an itty-bitty God.
  • Are satisfied to stay an infant with it comes to living out all of God’s purposes for you in the body of Christ, the local church (Acts 2:42-47; Ephesians 3:10; 4:11 – 6:20). Sunday is the Lord’s Day all day, not just for a couple of hours for me to pick and choose how I want to worship. The outcome is itty-bitty participation, connection, transparency, honesty, accountability, body-life, service, praise, fellowship, prayer, evangelism/discipleship, one-another’s, exaltation of Christ, etc. As one lady told me about her church experience, “I like going to the early service because I can go, get it done, and go about my day.”
  • Are satisfied wearing a “onesie” because life is about them instead of glorifying God and serving others. (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 1:15-18) The outcome is an itty-bitty Christian who seldom makes an impact on the world for Christ.
  • Are satisfied being a nominal Christian rather than a genuine, all-out disciple of Christ. Read Luke 14:25-27. Does that passage describe an itty-bitty Christian wearing a “onesie”?

Believers, we are exhorted to grow, to mature in the faith. Take heed to the following and let’s cast off our itty-bitty Christianity!

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20).

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18)

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Ephesians 4:13-15)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (Hebrews 5:12-13)

Life Is Never Boring

Back yard

A peek into my Thursday:

Up at 5:30.

Dunkin Donuts coffee, time in the Word and prayer on my back porch while watching the fog roll in. . . and then out.

Write in my journal.

Send out a few texts to encourage others.

See pictures of a new grandbaby of one of our church family.

Take coffee to my wife.

Read the newspaper, my wife and daughter’s blog, and a few tweets.

Add a few pictures to our church Facebook page.

See what’s been happening in the world via World Magazine site.

Receive an encouraging word from an “everydayer” texter.

Communicate with a missionary concerning an upcoming visit in September.

Talk to a guest speaker who is coming this Sunday night to preach.

Send anniversary greetings to one of my dear friends.

Help my wife a bit in the kitchen as she prepares food to minister to a burdened soul.

Rejoice over answered prayer!!!  Watch God at work!!

Put some of the final touches on Sunday AM’s message.

Leave a “Love is . . . ” cartoon for my wife on the towel covering the freshly baked bread.

Receive a phone call that brings tears of joy!!

Lunch on the back porch.

Begin working on Ephesians study.

Hurt for the tragedy in Barcelona, Spain.

Get rid of a stack of stuff that is not necessary.

Answer emails.

See some church family in the parking lot of a local store.  The smiles on their boys’ faces was priceless.

Listen to, counsel and pray with two lives that are bent and broken under the load of sin.  Grateful for the healing balm of God’s Word.

Watch others minister to the hurting.

Disciple a new believer.

Listen to a song that causes my heart to rejoice because the song repeats the phrase, “In the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

Share a few thoughts for Sunday’s bulletin.

Enjoy an Ale-8.

Count blessings.

Reflect on some of my reading from this morning in 2 Kings 3 where Elisha tells King Jehoshaphat, For thus says the LORD, . . . This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD (3:17-18).

Have watched God at work all day through the mundane and the important.  Nothing is too hard for our God. It is always a light thing for Him because “in the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

Let’s Carterize!

wp-1463974026394.jpg How would you respond if you heard this statement about your church  “I would never be accepted at __________Church because I could not break through the clique.” 

For years as a pastor, one thing I have pushed for so much is that our church be really friendly.  Without sounding arrogant or haughty, I believe we are an extremely friendly church. When you walk through the front door, you will be warmly greeted and then by many others.

So, why would such a statement be made?

I’ll answer it this way:  We must do a better job of “Carterizing” others!

Rod and Hope Carter have been married for 70 years and charter members of BCBC for 60 years.  Their health has failed them greatly, so they are not able to do as they once did.

For years, I have watched Rod “campout” in the church foyer just looking for visitors, especially young singles and/or young couples as well as others.  As soon as they entered the building, he was getting acquainted with them.  His greeting was only the beginning of what I am calling here, “Carterizing.”  He would invite them to his house for dinner or out to a restaurant after the morning service and would do the same in the evening.  He made sure some other BCBC folks were invited to join the group.  He wanted folks to go to the next level of relationship and communication.  He wanted those guests to know he cared; that they needed to become a part of the BCBC family of believers.  The bottom line is, he went beyond just a greeting. He was willing to get involved in their lives.  I can call the roll of those who would testify right here!

How do you Carterize?

  1. You come to church expecting to meet visitors, sit with them during the service, and have your meal planned and prepared so you can invite them to your home. If it is not a visitor, it is someone who has been attending for a period of time, yet you haven’t gotten to know them.
  2. When you plan your weekly calendar, you build in an evening to have guests in your home or meet them out for a meal or ice cream or time at the park.
  3. When you get together, you ask questions, you listen, and you share time in the Word and prayer.
  4. Be listening with all your heart as you look for ways to minister and really care.
  5. Invite visitors or repeat guests to your men or ladies’ ministries, small group Adult Bible Fellowship, camp retreats, etc. You have to be intentional.
  6. When at church, do not gravitate to the folks who make you comfortable. You reserve your personal conversations for a later time.  You are there to minister to others like Jesus did.
  7. Make your guests believe they are the most important people on the planet.

You see, getting involved in people’s lives takes planning, preparation, prayer and perspiration.  Instead of coming to church and just being friendly, you must “Carterize!”

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:41-47)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)

I Met Jordan

Jordan

Living in the mountains of East Tennessee gives many reasons for rejoicing and thanksgiving! The scenery changes every day and every season through the myriad acts of God’s creative, sustaining, sovereign hands.  How often I find myself singing “How Great Thou Art,” and “How Great Is Our God!”

Yesterday while driving back from Asheville, NC, I had in my mind to stop along the creek near Rocky Fork State Park near Flag Pond, TN.  Major rains had descended upon us through the night so I knew the waterfalls would be awesome, and it would provide a peaceful place to sit and commune with my God in prayer.

The Lord had other plans for which I am oh so grateful.  When I turned onto the Old Asheville Highway, there was a bearded man with a full pack and hiking poles which immediately signified an AT thru-hiker.  Since I love to hike, especially on the Appalachian Trail, this was a great opportunity in many ways!  Upon offering him a ride, he threw his gear in the back of my car, and we headed for Erwin and Uncle Johnny’s.  What a special treat to listen to his recent weather-related stories as well as the back-story of his life.

The very best part was the joy of talking about eternal life, listening to his answers, caring for his needs and ministering to him Christ Who has finished the work of salvation for all sinners including Jordan and myself.  What a special privilege!!

Please pray for my new friend, Jordan, as he hikes the trail.

Meeting Jordan was the highlight of my day!!

 

Here are two links to his story and the reason for his AT journey:

Jordan’s Story

Jordan’s AT Thru-Hike

 

Here is a video link for you to learn how you can have a personal relationship with God and know for certain your sins are forgiven and that you have a home in Heaven forever.

The Gospel Message

Making Investments

barbara-chandler-1483368330

There she lay.  Her earthly labors were over.  Her bodily tent had been comfortably tucked inside a beautiful, stained wooden casket adorned with a regal spray of flowers.  Her days here were over, but her life in Heaven had only just begun for all eternity on Saturday (John 14:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

As her pastor approached the podium, he read from Proverbs 31 and then described her life by two words, one of which was, investments.

An investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”  This dear lady, 83 years old, had spent most of her making investments . . . into people.

She invested . . .

  • The gospel into lost souls of every walk of life not matter who they were, the color of their skin, or their lot in life.
  • Time and energy in prayer crying out to the Lord.
  • Time and effort in prayer crying out to the Lord for the salvation of her husband. God heard and answered her prayer!
  • The Word of God into her children, her grandchildren, and her Sunday School class by her teaching and her example.
  • In “throw aways,” people that others did not want to “touch.”
  • In her pastor by encouraging him and praying for him.

I am quickly reminded of what Jesus said as recorded in Mark 10:42-45, But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Jesus came, died on the cross, and rose from the tomb to make an eternal, soul-saving investment in any one who would receive Him (John 1:12).  Barbara Chandler, a devout follower of Christ, made investments in others for the cause of Christ to lead others to Christ because Christ lived in her (Colossians 1:27).

I never knew her in this life. No matter, even in death, she made an investment in me.

What are your plans in 2017 to make investments in people, to make a difference other’s lives, to make those eternal investments?  I believe it’s called laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)!