Just Being Together

Valentine’s Day seems to call for “over-the-top” dates, gifts and excitement. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. To me, Valentine’s Day is exciting and adventuresome in so many ways!!

This year, our Valentine’s Day was not a fancy affair at all. Quite frankly, this year’s “day of love” was simply . . . just being together. It was so special as we literally took the scenic route in marriage !!

For starters, I fixed Denise’s favorite breakfast, French Toast, and served it with ham and assorted fruit. Everything was plated and served on a tray in the family room.

We shared cards, and my Sweetheart gave me a gift. She received a dozen roses on Friday!

Mid-morning, I gave Denise an optional plan for the day which included some of our favorite destinations. She surprised me with an option not mentioned—-Let’s go hiking!” Well, that was music to my ears!!

We headed out with our trail lunch and hiking gear for Rocky Fork State Park and Whitehouse Cliffs. This is a two-mile round-trip hike that is a somewhat strenuous, consistent climb. We took our time, stopping for a hug here-and-there and genuinely enjoying the quiet solitude.

From there, we headed south to Weaverville to Well-bred Bakery for a slice of delicious raspberry chiffon cake!! Oh my!! Light and tasty!! Definitely pairs well with “Jamaican me crazy” coffee. We were hoping to eat at Stoney Knob Restaurant, but they are closed on Mondays. So we decided to eat our supper backwards beginning with dessert.

Pink Champagne Cake

Denise had declared earlier in the day that it sure would be cool to be up on Wolf Laurel at sunset! Well, well, well, your wish is my desire! Supper options are very slim between Weaverville and Wolf Laurel Mountain, but I remembered a pizza shop just off the exit. Been living on a whim all day anyway, why not try it! Delish! Chicken ranch pizza in a styrofoam box at the top of mountain with a stellar sunset and your gal—romantic and delightful!!!

What was the best part of a somewhat unplanned, spur-of-the-moment Valentine’s Day? Just being together!

Guys, ask your girlfriend or your wife what they like most, and I would venture to say that the majority would answer, “Time with you.”

Just being together on the scenic route in marriage is always a win!!

Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Ready for Monday?

Here’s a few ideas for a fun, romantic date.

Game Night Date: Choose three eating establishments (coffee shop, restaurant, bakery). Take three games (Shut the Box, Take Two, Quixx) and play a game at each location. Start off with a game at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. Make reservations for dinner at Chop House. Drive to Bristol and enjoy Blackbird Bakery. Game on!

Bookstore Date: After a meal out, head on over to a local bookstore and locate a cozy corner. Find a book for each of the following categories, five books in all. 1) A travel book that describes your dream vacation spot. After locating the book, bring it back to your table and read about it to your spouse. Put the books away and search for . . . 2) A children’s book that you enjoyed in your childhood. Return to your table and read it to each other. Put the books away and search for . . . 3) A book of love poems. Same as #2, but be sure to hold hands and look into each other’s eyes. 4) A hobby book. Same as #2. 5) A cookbook with a recipe that you would surely enjoy! Do the same as #2. Book it!

Put the Kids to Bed Date: After the kids are tucked into bed with instructions to stay in bed, order up a pizza. Pull out the china or good dinnerware and have a candle-light pizza party in your bedroom. Play some romantic music. Verbally share 14 reasons why you love each other. Talk about ways to grow your marriage and mature your love for each other. Take it from there!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Guilt-Free Valentine’s Day

Who’s getting married this Valentine’s Day weekend?

According to the LA Times, “Valentine’s Day is L.A.’s hottest wedding day” of the year. “In the last decade, Los Angeles County couples have chosen Valentine’s Day for their weddings more often than any other day — by far.” (LA Times, February 14, 2019)

The subject of Valentine’s Day and marriage is way cool to me! Having been married 40 1/2 years (June 20), I can tell you that romance, love, dating and all that comes with being married is a rich blessing! It’s fun, adventurous, takes daily maintenance and is way cool! Now, hang on a minute. Don’t get the idea that our marriage has been “and they lived happily ever after!” because that has never happened in any marriage!!

Although God created marriage (Genesis 2:18-25) in a perfect state and environment, sin crept in and marred the blessed arrangement. The issue today is not marriage but two sinners coming together in marriage.

Speaking of sin, there is a one that has been swiftly gaining ground in America and around the world for the past few decades, especially in the 2000’s—-couples living together before marriage or living together and never being united in marriage. Folks, I say this from a heart that cares for you and is at the same time grieved by how sin continues to mar the sacred gift of holy matrimony.

First of all, no matter how hard you try to make life work your way, God’s way is always the best because His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30), righteous and holy (Psalm 145:17), one of steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 25:10), and higher than your ways (Isaiah 55:9). We are exhorted in Galatians 6:7-8 that you cannot “out-box” God nor can you get away with your sin. Therefore, living together outside of the bonds of marriage is an affront to God. It is living in rebellion, sin, and pride.

Second, God says marriage is to be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4). Please let this passage sink into your heart! Because marriage was created by God, it is to be held in honor.

Grant Richison in his commentary on this passage says correctly, Marriage is “honorable” because it is a divine institution. It is the basic building block for society. The word “honorable” means to hold with great esteem. Physical love among married people is “honorable.” It is something that must be held in great respect. It is intimate companionship (Gen. 2:18). Any form of sex outside of husband and wife is dishonorable in God’s eyes.

The undefiled marriage bed belongs only to a husband and wife who have been united in marriage. Sex between a man and his wife is holy, pure, and beautiful, but is defiled and perilous to the couple who choses to live together and have sex outside the bounds of marriage.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality . . . . Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 18).

He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. (Proverbs 6:32-33).

Sex is for marriage, and marriage is for sex. God wants us to save sex for marriage not because it’s “bad” or “dirty”— but because it’s unique, exclusive, and wonderful. Sex isn’t just casual fun. And it’s not just a feel-good way of expressing mutual love. It’s about two people becoming one flesh. Jesus says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5, ESV; quoting from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24). [Focus on the Family]

As noted earlier, God’s ways are always best. God created marriage and has laid down His instructions for marriage. Life does not work in rebellion against its Creator. Furthermore, you don’t own marriage, God does. Therefore, you do not have the right to “call the shots” as to how you will handle marriage and all that God has intended for it. A man who surrenders to the will of God will never live with regret and shame (Psalm 32).

If you are living with someone outside the bonds of marriage, repent and run to the cross of Christ and accept God’s forgiveness. Also, please read the following: Three Lies About Premarital Sex

Valentine’s Day can be a guilt-free holiday of romance and joy if you follow God’s way!

How To Talk About Your Church

  • “Well, I walked into church, and no one spoke to me!” 
  • “Every Sunday, my heart is stirred, and I leave knowing I have met with my Lord!” 
  • “Our preacher (fill-in-the-blank)!” 
  • “All our church knows to do is ask for money!” 
  • “Our kids’ ministry is awesome!”

These and a whole host of other statements, both positive and negative, true and false, have been and continue to be said about the local church. In connection with yesterday’s post, Covid’s Speech Lesson, I want us to consider what is said to others about the local gathering we attend. Let’s look at one of them.

“Our church (or, That church) is so unfriendly!”

There’s a quick remedy for that one. Proverbs 18:24 reminds us, He that has friends must himself be friendly.  Next Sunday, before you get out of your car, pray by yourself or with your spouse or your family, “Lord, I surrender to You, Who dwells in me, to be friendly, compassionate, listening, and caring to all we meet. And, lead us to the seats in the auditorium where You want us to sit today that we may help move folks around one step toward Christ.”

Think about it. If we are given to say that our church is not friendly, then perhaps we are not friendly because we are the church. We as born again believers are the body of Christ. Therefore, when we gather, we are more than just friendly on “the outside.” We desire to go deeper by showing mercy to those around us. We greet others with a firm handshake or a fist-bump or with raised eyebrows (for mask-wearers) and a word of greeting. Try to refrain from the norm, “How you doing?” and move on.

If you are greeting a visitor/guest, stop, speak to them, give your name, listen for their name(s) and use their name(s) immediately so you can begin to remember it. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider how you can make them feel at home; as if they were entering your living room. As you chat with them, don’t be in hurry. Introduce them to those serving at the Welcome Center. Ask questions and give guidance to the auditorium or nursery or fellowship area. Pray with them.

Sometime during the week, send a thank you note or a text or give them a call to let them know you have prayed for them. Make sure they know you genuinely care.

True friendliness is grounded in the person of Christ. He spent time with His disciples and others (John 3:22). He initiated conversations (John 4:7-42). He came to serve others (Mark 10:45). He prayed for others (John 17). He visited in homes (Luke 19:1-10). He reached out to sinners (John 8:1-11).

Since we can do all things through Christ as He lives His life through us, we can ignite a culture of biblical friendliness in our local congregation that will be contagious for Christ and to others!!

“That congregation is so friendly! They are genuine; they really care!”

Marriage Moments

There are many of these throughout the day.  The word moment is defined as “a very short period of time, a little while,” and it also refers to importance.  So a “marriage moment” happens when in the course of the day you plan or act spontaneously to take a brief amount of time to express your love, concern, and attention for your spouse because he or she is of  great significance to you.  Your marriage life is a weighty matter.  Both of you have decided to grow your marriage, enjoy each other, and not get used to each other as the days go whereby you don’t take each other for granted and your marriage grows stale.

It had been a taxing, stressful day which had an affect our on relationship.  Needing to stop my routine and work attitude of “let’s get this job done and move on to the next one,” I poured out on the bar counter all of our Scrabble tiles for a game of Take Two.  No phones, no music, no distractions, just a moment with my wife having fun because she and our marriage are important.  You see, a long marriage is made up of a WHOLE BUNCH OF MOMENTS over the years!

Need some help? Here’s a few marriage moment ideas:

  • Kiss longer; no peck and run!
  • Play a quick game of UNO, Take Two or Farkle after supper at the kitchen table. (Tell the kids to go to the living room, work on their SS lesson or homework. They need to understand that Mom and Dad need some fun time, too.  Don’t let your kids run the house!  Teach them how to respect your time and how to sit still. You also need to teach them what a good marriage is all about.  They are watching you.)
  • Call each other in between appointments, send a text or Facebook message. Build up some excitement for the end of the day or week. Give your spouse something to anticipate!
  • Go sit down on the back porch under the full moon and sit realllllly close!! Say you don’t have a back porch or a swing? You do have an old blanket and a backyard, right?
  • Sing your favorite love song to each other while dancing in the living room.
  • Hug like you were dating!

Proverbs 5:18 – Let your fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of your youth. . . for a moment and then a whole bunch of moments!!

Cooped Up At Christmas

I am so glad my wife and I like each other.

We have spent many hours together this month due to my bout with covid.

So what have we done to merry up Christmas and keep our marriage on the scenic route?

  1. Trust in forgiveness and the grace of God. When you are not feeling well, you can be demanding and words can have an edge. Throw in our hearing issues, and . . . . Therefore, just like every day of marriage, you must rest in the grace of God and forgive, not apologize.
  2. Give each other space. My wife has taken up the hobby of water color painting. She has received refreshment from going to her craft room in the afternoons and/or evenings and losing herself in a winter scene.
  3. Read Paul David Tripp’s, Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional, that our daughter gave to us.
  4. Go for a drive just for some sunshine and a change of scenery. My wife’s Jeep is good for that. Now that I am gaining ground, I feel like driving. So, I’m her chauffer dropping her off at the door as I wait in the car.
  5. Movies. Denise and I are not TV watchers, but we have joined the ranks as we viewed many Christmas movies as well as some others. In the early going of this bout, I had to just sit and be still. No movement. We enjoyed White Christmas, Mrs. Miracle, The Christmas Edition, Elf, The Christmas Lodge, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Christopher Robin, Father of the Bride, It’s a Wonderful Life (my very first time), etc. Miracle on 34th Street awaits.
  6. 12 Days of Christmas. Denise and I have shared in this way of exchanging gifts several times over the years. For twelve days, before going to bed, we give a gift to each other. In the early days, we kept it to around $1-5 gifts. Of course, inflation has struck and it’s around $1-$20. How did I shop? Thank you Amazon delivery and Walgreen’s curbside pick-up services!
  7. Listen to hours of Christmas music via Amazon Music on Alexa. This has helped with a light-hearted atmosphere all through our home.
  8. Enjoy the fireplace at our meals.
  9. Share with each other what the Lord said to us through our daily Bible reading or sermon podcasts. This has been a blessing of joy, tears, conviction, challenge and encouragement.
  10. Nothing much. A few days, my wife was on her own. Well, she had Liza Jane, family communication, friends and the rigors of being a sweet caregiver. But as for us, some lonely hours.

Well, here it is two days before Christmas, and we still like each other! (And love one another, too!) God is so very good. Merry Christmas!!

There’s Still Fire in Furnace!

This week, I had the joy of speaking with a man who has been married for over 60 years, and he said, “There’s still fire in the furnace!” My sweetheart and I will be celebrating our 40th anniversary in June, and we’re still stoking the fire, too!

How do you keep “the fire in the furnace” so your marriage does not grow cold and lifeless? Well, here’s a few tips that I hope will help. I’m sure I have shared some of these in previous posts, but we need to be reminded again and again to keep putting another log on the fire!

  1. Work at your marriage every day.

Don’t let a day go by without kissing each other (ban the peck!), holding each other, complimenting each other, eating a meal together, sharing your heart with each other, and don’t let someone or something come between you; especially your children!

  1. Do the little things.
  • Leave little love notes around the house or in the car or in his suitcase if he travels.
  • Bring home a candy bar for him or a dozen roses for her.
  • Hold hands.
  • Send a text message telling each other how much you love each other.
  • Husbands, seat your wife at the table and open the car door for her.
  • Speak well of each other in front of the children.
  • Pray together.
  • Read the Word together.
  • Flirt with your spouse, and only your spouse!!!
  1. Date once-a-week. 
  • Starbucks and play a game.
  • Pizza on china plates after the kids go to bed.
  • A drive through the country with the windows down, a picnic basket, blanket, and your favorite romantic music as you head to that secluded spot along the creek, in the mountains, or just down the road.
  • Movie and popcorn.
  • A stroll around the neighborhood, hand-in-hand, talking about why you love each other.
  • Share a sundae at Sonic and smooch like you did when you were dating!  (And we know you did.)
  1. Have fun!  
  • Don’t be a fuddy dud, a kill-joy!
  • Laugh at yourself!
  • Walk in the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control)
  • Enjoy each other; enjoy being with each other; your spouse should be your first choice always as your dearest companion.
  • Stop at Chickfila, get an ice cream cone and sit outside under the umbrella tables. Enjoy sharing just the one cone!
  1. Wherever you go, make it an event.
  • Make even walking through the grocery store or the mall with your spouse a fun time!
  • When you leave the house, tell each other how good they look!
  • Serve one another.
  • Make meal time, especially supper, a well-thought out time even with the children.  Be intentional.
  • Pay attention to each other.
  • Serve together at church; put your whole heart into worship; wear it out!!
Love is...Color Monday 2 December 2019 | Artful Asprey Cartoons

May I encourage you to take inventory of your marriage? Be humble.  Be honest.  What needs to change?  God didn’t create marriage for man and woman to be miserable.  As I heard years ago, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.”  You will have hard times in marriage, but choose joy.  Put these five things to practice by God’s grace and enjoy the grace gift of marriage for a long time to come!!

Go ahead; add another log on the fire right now! Keep the furnace hot!

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?

Lighten Up!

When’s the last time you and your spouse just had a good ol’ belly laugh? Perhaps you even cried you laughed so hard!

With all the stuff that we have come through in 2020 and continue to do so, laughter is hard to find.

I remember as a boy sitting around the supper table after church on Sunday night hearing preachers, missionaries, church members, etc., telling jokes and stories which were accompanied with many moments of boisterous laughter! Nowadays you tell a joke and somebody’s gonna get offended.

I’m not discounting the seriousness of COVID, but with the masks and the accompanying fear, few people are having a good time, laughing, smiling, and enjoying life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. (Proverbs 15:13)

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

So, with that said, have you and your spouse been laughing lately? You know, it might be that your marriage is drying up (Prov. 17:22) because you have forgotten how to have fun; you’ve been too serious; you’ve just let 2020 get you in the heart!

Well, let’s fix that!

  • What did you do when you were dating that you might consider to be silly now? How ’bout rolling back the clock and do it again! Only you can decide what that is.
  • Watch a funny, wholesome movie or an episode of the Andy Griffith Show or the Tim Conway dentist routine on YouTube.
  • Pour water on your spouse while they are in the shower. Just be ready for the payback.
  • Go on a light-hearted date and stop by a card rack at a card shop or grocery store and read funny cards to each other!
  • Head on over to the ice cream store, local bakery, or restaurant. Each of you inconspicuously, of course, point out a couple nearby and make up a story about them by what you see. Have fun with it . . . just between the two of you. By the way, folks over the years have probably said some things about you! 🙂

One of the reasons I have loved the preaching of Chuck Swindoll over the years is his infectious laughter. In his book, Laugh Again, Hope Again, he says, Isn’t God the one who urges us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”? Why do we always think that means singing? Seems to me the most obvious joyful sound on earth is laughter… I’ve seen folks quote verses like “Rejoice in the Lord always” while their faces look like they just buried a rich uncle who willed everything to his pregnant guinea pig. Something is missing. Can’t you just hear him laughing?!?!

Image result for love is laughter

So, this week as we head into Valentine’s Day, how about taking a cue from Ken Davis’ radio program and “Lighten’ Up!” Have at it! It’s time! I’m sure your marriage could use a good dose of laughter meds!

Simply from a pastor’s heart!

Keepin’ It Fresh!

My wife and I love to take scenic drives through the country.  While often pointing to beautiful farms, well-kept houses and lawns, and the continual mountainous scenes around us, we are also greeted with run down houses covered over with vines and bushes as well as dilapidated stores that once held a consistent, thriving business.  How does a house that was once new become an unpainted relic of the past?  One of the reasons is simple neglect.  Take several days of neglect, add them together, and the house is in disrepair.  In some cases, it is no longer inhabited.

Image result for rundown house mountains free images

This reminds me of marriage.  Marriage cannot run on auto-pilot.  Every day, you must work at keeping your marriage fresh and up-to-date.  Neglect is like a vine that grows up around a house that eventually takes over.  Here are some simple daily maintenance tips to help your marriage stay fresh:

  • Say “I love you” often throughout each day and look at each other in the eye when you do.
  • Hold hands. Touch is invaluable.
  • Kiss often and linger every once in awhile.
  • Have prayer together before you leave for work in the morning and at night before drifting off to sleep.
  • Send a love note text during the day.
  • Be ready to meet each other at the end of the day; come home ready to make a connection mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  • Spend time together for 10-15 minutes sitting on the back porch after the kids go to bed.
  • Talk to each other; have much more than an adult/child conversation.

Don’t let your marriage look like a run down, uninhabited house!  Remember, that house did not get that way overnight!  Do your maintenance work today! Celebrating Valentine’s Day will be much sweeter, too! Enjoy!!