Divorce-Proof Your Marriage (2)

41st Anniversary Dinner Date at Beauty Spot on the AT

As I mentioned in the previous post, no one stands before the preacher on their wedding day and says, “I wonder how we can get a divorce?” But as time rolls along, the shine wears off of that glorious wedding day, the demands, conflicts, pressures and distractions of life crowd in, and husbands and wives begin to take each other for granted.

Furthermore, no married couple ends up in divorce court because they decided on a whim to take a drive downtown to visit the judge and end their marriage! But, sadly, somewhere along the line, the marriage begins to deteriorate and divorce becomes a potential reality.

Here’s another way to divorce-proof your marriage.

  1. Reject living your lives on two separate tracks

Genesis 2:18, 23-25,  And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  And And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

God intended for a husband and wife to have a close, intimate relationship by cleaving to one another, sharing life together and not living on two separate tracks.

One of the ways to accomplish God’s plan, no matter how long you have been married or how old you are, is to go back to doing the things you did when you dated before marriage or in those early years of marriage. 

Too many couples stop dating after they are married.

Man likes a conquest, so when he finally is married, he has conquered.  In his mind, since he has won over his bride, it’s time to move on to the next conquest.  Therefore, he often leaves his wife in the dust!

Dating can be so much fun!! 

Now, I have to admit that my dating life in high school and college for the most part was hazardous at best!  I will say that my eyes lit up like Christmas morning when I went to college and heard that there were three girls to every one guy!!  Hubba, hubba!! 

No matter, dating comes with its own set of actions that quite frankly need to be carried on into and through our married lives.  To maintain and enjoy the grace gift of marriage, put some spice back into your life!  Act like you are dating again.  Go through the list below and start enjoying each other again. 

Remember when you dated?

  • You were always thinking about each other.  No way you could have a profitable day at school or work because he/she was always on your mind!
  • You looked for every chance to be with each other.  School or work would not end soon enough!!
  • You left little reminders here and there to remind your sweetheart of your love and devotion.  It might have been a note left in a conspicuous location, their favorite candy bar, a “call up on the radio and request their  favorite song” reminder, a romantic card sent through the mail, a phone message, etc.
  • You held hands as you walked through the amusement park.  You were always looking for that ride that gave you good reason to snuggle up!  You were just hoping that she would be afraid and seek the shelter of your arms!!  You shared some popcorn and a Coke as you sat under the shade tree and looked so adoringly into each other’s eyes.  Fun times at the amusement park!
  • You talked for hours and hours and hours and hours on the phone!
  • You dressed up for each other.  You wanted to look sharp!  You smelled good, too. 🙂
  • As a man, you always paid the bill on a date, opened the car door for her, seated her at the table, showed her great respect, and was her protector.
  • You had fun together!

Take some time to read Song of Solomon 1:7-19 as a couple. Note how the Shulamite and the Beloved are talking to each other, praising each other, adoring each other. They were intentionally spending time together . . . perhaps on a date!

Husband, plan a date with your sweetheart this week? Enjoy the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18).

RIP or LITF

RIP . . . you see this attached to a social media post almost every day. The sentiment is there, but do we really know what RIP means? Do we know what we are saying? What’s its origin? Is it a blanket statement for all deaths?

Wikipedia says, “’Rest in peace’ (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as R.I.P. or RIP. The phrase was not found on tombstones before the eighth century. It became ubiquitous on the tombs of Christians in the 18th century, and for High Church Anglicans, as well as Roman Catholics in particular, it was a prayerful request that their soul should find peace in the afterlife.”

Of the questions in the first paragraph, I think the last one is the most important one. 

Can we say RIP for every death? 

For all who die in Christ as a true born again believer, yes; for all who choose to reject Christ’s offer of salvation; no.

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus give us a good answer (Luke 16:19-31).  For the rich man, he is in the place of torment, apart from God, as is the current state of all unbelievers.  For Lazarus, he is in Paradise just as Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Another comforting truth for believers is found in 2 Corinthians 5:8 which assures us that we are immediately in the presence of the Lord upon death.

So, do unbelievers rest in peace?  Peace nor rest can be found in a place of torment.  Furthermore, to randomly attach RIP to someone that you are uncertain of their eternal state is careless.

The worst tragedy today is that unsaved people around the world died and entered into eternal torment. The greatest blessing for believers today is that many around the world entered into eternal rest, joy, and peace in the presence of Christ.

So, could RIP be placed on your tombstone with complete certainty? 

If you are not truly born again, a genuine follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, would you take time to watch the following video?  It will mean the difference between RIP or LITF (Living in Torment Forever).

Please don’t take death and eternity lightly!

DADS

One of the greatest needs in our homes, churches, schools, sports teams, and nation today is DADS, . . .

Delivered by the gospel.

All of us dads were born spiritually dead, living under the control of Satan, self and the world and under God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). As much as we think as a man we can fix our sinful condition, work our way to heaven, fill the hole in our soul, we are forever lost. We cannot fix the greatest crisis in our lives.

Here’s the Good News! But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The most important aspect of being a dad is for Christ to live in us that He may live His life out of us so that our children see Christ and not us (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:4-10; Colossians 1:27).

Daily we surrender to Christ. Daily we come to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30). Daily we seek Christ (Matthew 6:24-34). Daily we look for Christ return (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Christ is our life (John 10:10; Galatians 2:20).

Adores his wife

Merriman-Webster defines “adore” as “to regard with loving admiration and devotion.” According to Ephesians 2:7, the reason God saves us is to show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Dads, just as God demonstrates His grace toward us through Christ every moment of each day, we can through Christ adore our children’s mom, our wife. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

Dad, show your children how to love and respect their future spouse.

Demonstrate before them a grace-enabled, God-honored marriage (Ephesians 5:18-33)!!

Disciples his children

Dads spend hours teaching and coaching their children how to hit or field a baseball. Perhaps it’s how to drive a car. Maybe it’s training in construction.

The best training a dad can give his son or daughter is how to know Christ as personal Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:1-9); to love, read, and study the Bible (Psalms 19:7-11; 119:1-176); to know how to share Jesus with others (1 Peter 3:15); to know how to pray (Study how Jesus prayed and the prayers of Paul, Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-12); to know how to praise the Lord and enjoy life (Psalms 100, 150; Hebrews 13:15); to know how to live the Christ-life (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20) and to know how to laugh and have fun (Proverbs 17:22)!!

Seeks the eternal things

One day your children will depart from your home and your training. May that which they love above all things and seek after be the eternal things. Life here is so temporal as is power, prestige, position, possessions, and property. We will leave it all behind one day.

May you live in such a way that your children see you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), having set your mind/affection on things above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2)., that in all things Christ has the preeminence (Colossians 1:18) because the passion of your life is to know Christ (Philippians 3:4-10).

Happy DADS Day!! Be encouraged!! Stay the course!! Grace is sufficient!!

So very grateful for my Christ-centered dad, for the blessing of being of dad, and for my sons-in-law who are and will be godly dads!!!

Stir the Embers! (2)

“Feed the fire!”

That’s another way to say, “stir the embers.”

I love my firepit out back! There’s just something special about a fire on a cool evening, fixings for s’mores, my wife, and the sun setting behind us.

My family and others laugh at me about how much I love building a fire. One thing is for certain, if I don’t feed the fire or stir the embers, it will go out. And, I’m always a bit disappointed to see a good fire come to an end because guests have left or it’s time to call it a night.

As my wife and I approach our 41st wedding anniversary, we are reminded that stirring the embers is a constant need if any marriage is to thrive and survive!

Marriage is a blessed grace gift from God that He owns (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6), and He enables its fulfillment even in the toughest of times (1 Peter 3:1-7; 4:1-11; 5:5-10).

Here’s five “logs” to add to the fire of your marriage lest it fade and die out. You do not want to just be married in name only, sadly so distant from each other.

Log #1 Keep on dating long after you have been married! This can happen at home, in the backyard, at the kitchen table, at the coffee shop/bookstore, at the beach, in the mountains, downtown, or in another country.

Log #2Do not let your children come between you and your spouse. You vowed to love and cherish your spouse until death do you part. You promised to let no one come between you and your spouse.

One of the greatest securities you can offer your children is to have a fun, loving, devoted, gospel-driven marriage!

Log #3 Hug and kiss! Repeat. Hug and kiss! Repeat. Hug and kiss! Repeat. — Like you wanted to and did when you were engaged!! Don’t fall into the trap of quick pecks/kisses!

Log #4Leave loves notes or cards around the house, in a book, on the mirror, attached to the stirring wheel in the car/truck, or via texts.

Log #5Make prayer with each other a priority on a daily basis! Even if you are out of town, call on the phone.

How’s your marriage fire right now?

Do the embers need to be stirred?

Well, have at it! Throw a log on the fire right now!!

Stir the Embers!

Has the fire of romance waned over the years?

Have children or work or busy schedules come between you and your marriage relationship?

Sometimes we are so prone to keep wishing for what we don’t have that we forget what we do have, and . . . sometimes what we long for is right in front of us.

Here’s an idea to help you. Make sure the children are in bed at a set time. Husband, you order a personal pan pizza from the shop nearby and be ready to go get it or have it delivered. Wife, get out your best china and crystal glasses. If you don’t have these, then the best tableware and glasses will do. Don’t go cheap with paper plates and paper napkins. Create a mood, an atmosphere that says, “This matters.”

Set a time to meet in the bedroom. No TV, no phones and notifications, no internet, no children. Add candlelight, romantic music, a small table with cloth napkins and each other. Be ready when hubs arrives home with the pizza or is delivered.

Go back to the days when you were dating when you just loved to hear each other breathe!!

As you enjoy your pizza, . . .

  • Share five reasons why you love each other.
  • Share one way to improve your marriage . . . without “finger pointing.”

Once you have finished your pizza and discussion, then watch a movie. Just enjoy each other’s company!

One more thing, it’ll be okay to leave the dishes until morning!

Stir the embers!!

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
(Proverbs 5:15-18)

Staying Power

44 years.

38 years.

48 years.

These numbers represent folks who Denise and I had the joy of sharing in sweet fellowship this past Saturday and Sunday in two different locations.

For 38 and 44 years, Seth and Linda, now retired, have labored for the Lord in the fields of Christian education.

For 48 years, Bacilio and Eunice has labored faithfully in the mission fields of Hispanic nations. Although the years have taken its toll on him, he said to me, “Dale, I am busier now that I have ever been.”

As I have pondered their lives after our recent visits, my heart was once again encouraged to finish well; to have staying power over the long haul.

Seth & Linda (Gray & maroon)

How does someone in full-time vocational ministry “stay by the stuff” until the end?

What’s the “glue” that helps us “stick-to-it”? Having been involved in ministry now for over 41 years as well as growing up in a pastor’s home, I share these with a bit of experience, yet knowing that my race has not been finished.

  • Keep your heart fresh in your walk with the Lord by living life in the awe and wonder of Who God is! (Psalms 34:1-3; 63:1-4; 91:1-2; 145:1-21)
  • Live a life of prayer, not a prayer life. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Memorize and meditate on Scripture so when you talk to yourself, rather than listening to yourself, you have something really worthwhile, transformative to say. (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)
  • Learn to rest spiritually, mentally, and physically. There is no virtue in having your “foot-to-the-pedal” 24/7. (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 6:31; Philippians 4:6-8)
  • Make daily investments in your marriage; more deposits than withdrawals. Outside of Christ, your wife needs to be your best friend. (Proverbs 5:15-23; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Song of Solomon 4:9-11; Ephesians 5:18-33)
  • Enjoy the journey! Laugh a lot! Have fun! Don’t take yourself so serious! (Psalm 16:11; Proverbs 15:15; 17:22; Ecclesiastes 3:4)
  • Love people as Christ does. (Matthew 22:37-40; John 15:9-17; 1 John 4:21)
  • Expect to be disappointed and suffer at the hands of people. Why should I be treated any better than Jesus was? And, make sure you do not live with a martyr’s complex! (Hebrews 12:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:10)
  • Live a life of gratitude. (Colossians 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 12:28)
  • Remember, few men cannot stand the applause. (1 Corinthians 10:31; Proverbs 16:18)
  • Your identity is not in a successful sermon or project but in Christ alone. (Philippians 3:4-14)
  • Surround yourself with godly, encouraging, edifying, loving, transparent friends inside and outside your ministry. (Proverbs 27:17; Romans 16:1-16; Philippians 2:19-30)
  • Live with the Bema in view as well as eternity. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Revelation 21-22)
  • Live the gospel and share the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 1:27)

One final thought comes to mind as I consider these four faithful laborers.

At this late date in their lives, they still have such a winsome personality, a sweet disposition and a joy-filled heart in spite of the aging process and current physical hinderances.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Don’t Follow Your Heart!

A man is not a murderer because he kills; he kills because he is a murderer.

For out of the heart come murders (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not an adulterer because he cheats on his wife; he cheats on his wife because he is an adulterer.

For out of the heart comes adultery (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not sexually immoral because he preys on children; he preys on children because he is sexually immoral.

For out of the heart comes sexual immorality (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not a thief because he steals; he steals because he is a thief.

For out of the heart comes theft (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not a slanderer because he gossips; he gossips because he is a slanderer.

For out of the heart comes slander (Matthew 15:19).

The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.

The “heart” as described in scripture is who you really are. So, in this Matthew passage, we see where Jesus puts his finger on the culprit of every sinful behavior . . . our corrupt, deceitful, desperately wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9).

Jesus said to the Pharisees, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. (Matt. 26:25-26)

The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

“Jesus teaches us that there is something far more fundamental to our sinfulness than the actual sins we commit,” Tom Ascol goes on to say. “Our sins do not make us sinful. Rather, we commit sins because, at the very center of our lives, we are sinful. Sin has invaded the inner recesses of our personalities.”

We can spend hours discussing the recent events of our world and try to come up with man-made answers and “band-aid” solutions to the murders in 2022, the war in Ukraine, the angry outbursts and ungodly actions from political leaders, the trafficking of humans, the abortion of babies, and the continual sinful behavior displayed daily on our phones and ipads, but the answer and solution is only found in the Word of God.

Sinful man must have a changed, transformed heart through the power of the gospel (John 3; Romans 3:9-23; 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Once he repents and believes in Christ alone for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit comes to indwell that man whereby he is now able to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of his heart/flesh (Galatians 5:18-24; Romans 6-8).

Much, much more to be said, but I’ll end with a word of great hope:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:2-4)

According To Your Word

My soul melts from heaviness (Psalm 119:28a). This describes my heart since Sunday afternoon.

The heaviness that has come over me because of the effects of sin.

The grief that has gripped me due to the deep deceitfulness of our wicked hearts.

Wednesday around 2:00 a.m. I was abruptly awakened out of my sleep, praying out loud for the many drowning in sorrow in Uvalde, Texas as well as those picking up the pieces from the SBC/Guidepost report released Sunday afternoon. As I thought of those precious elementary children, I thought also of my dear grandsons.

Oh Lord, strengthen me according to Your Word!!!

As I rolled out of bed, I grabbed my phone on the night stand and went to Wednesday’s scripture reading from Psalm 119:41-48. I needed strength! I needed to hear from the Lord! I needed my heart to be calmed!

Let Your mercies (lovingkindness, steadfast love) come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. (Psalm 119:41)

These were the first words I read. How marvelous to know that God has extended mercy and grace to me as a poor, lost, hell-bound sinner and has rescued me according to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 Timothy 1:12-17) . . . according to Your word.

You see, for true salvation and assurance of eternal life in heaven, for our wicked hearts to be changed, for sin to be correctly and adequately dealt with, for quietness in our soul in the midst of such wickedness and sorrow, for an understanding of perilous times, to have “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” . . . it can only and always be . . . according to Your Word.

Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life (Psalm 119:49-50).

According to Your word!

P.S. Take some time to read Revelation 21

10 for 10

Over the past ten days, my wife and I have enjoyed many blessings of ministry of which here are ten. They are shared here for God’s glory and appreciation for His kindness to us in these days of such sin and sorrow!

1. Officiating and directing a wedding! Wow! How special to see two lives brought together in the will of God! The wedding was Christ-exalting and so very romantic! I love weddings!! (Side note: In respect of the newlyweds, I will not post any pics until they do.)

2. Providing a place to rest in our home for two days for a fellow servant in ministry! Quiet walks, prayer, porch time, mountain drive, sharing scripture, etc.!!

3. In 2014, my wife and I had the joy of leading the Missionary Teen Retreat in the Basque region of Spain. We have kept up with several who are now young adults. Daniel and Jessica celebrated their first anniversary with a return trip to Gatlinburg, TN. Their anniversary celebration included worshipping with us in both Sunday gatherings plus a meal and afternoon spent at our home. What a special treat! I call that “clipping grace coupons”!!

4. Preaching the Hebrews 12:12-19 passage in the morning gathering at BCBC!! What a solemn and joy-filled honor it is to prepare and preach the Word of God verse-by-verse!! The Word works!! (2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2)

5. Leading and teaching the Biblical Counseling Elective on Sunday mornings!! “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.”

6. Follow-up visitation of church visitors. Made to feel so at home with these folks!!

7. Having coffee with a young man from our church who just finished his first year of college. My heart was greatly encouraged to see how he has grown both spiritually and as a young man!!

8. Discipleship with another man in our congregation. Met for lunch and read together through a chapter of Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes. Iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17).

9. Small Group gathering on Thursday night! What can I say?!?! A highlight of every week! Singing, prayer, transparent testimonies, Bible study, fellowship around the bar counter and in the living room, laughter, tears, bearing burdens, and rejoicing in answered prayer!!

10. Attending a high school graduation of a young man that has attended BCBC through his teen years. Another opportunity to encourage a young man to follow Christ, not his heart!!

That’s only 10! There were so many more!! Oh! How marvelous is the goodness and grace of God!! And, I got to share in all of these with my wife, except for #8.

It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. (Proverbs 10:22)

It’s Friday . . . and Sunday’s Coming!

Preacher, are you ready?

May I share three things to encourage you toward Sunday?

1. Prepare your heart

In this atomic age when forces are being released that stagger the thought and imagi­nation of man it is well to remember that prayer transcends all other forces. (F. J. Huegel)

Men, Jesus said, Without me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)! Preparing your heart through prayer is more important than delivering your sermon. Passionate, dependent, scripture-filled prayer says, “Lord, You are able, I am not!”

2. Prepare your message

Men, we have been challenged to Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) since the day we sensed God’s call to the ministry. Those folks who gather to hear you Sunday need hope and to see Christ. Therefore, preach the Word under the control of the Holy Spirit from a heart set on fire by God!

Give the sheep good grain, a message from God’s Word, not just a sermon.

3. Prepare your family

Saturday evening, gather your family together and share what the Lord has taught you and what you will deliver in the message on Sunday. Have them pray for you and with you.

Make your family a vital part of the ministry team!

Preacher, will you be ready?

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:27-29)