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!!!

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Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #9

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The view from the Old Pilot Hill General Store; our stop on the way home last Saturday.

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

Saturday afternoon, my wife and I attended a funeral calling several miles from our home.  We try to make ministry opportunities not only about whom we are serving but about serving each other and working at our marriage. Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #8

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“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

As we continue on the scenic route taking in all the pleasures of marriage, let’s move from Protection (Scenic Route Posts #4 – #7) to  . . . Pillow.  Pillow?  Yes, pillow, and no, it’s not time to take a nap!

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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 #5

Gatlinburg Date

(Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes)

If you were to listen to many conversations about marriage in your world, you would leave thinking that marriage was created to make people miserable. Contrary to the world’s idea of marriage, there are many pleasures in marriages.  God created us to enjoy fellowship with Him and with our spouse, all by the grace of God.

Last week we began to look at the pleasures of marriage, and I am doing so from the husband’s point of view.  After all, he is the loving, servant leader in the home.  So men, here we go!

The first major area of pleasure in marriage is being your wife’s protection, her security which is found in:

  1. Open, honest, loving communication
  2. Continuous pursuit

What did you do to snag your gal; to get her to marry you?  Remember how you looked adorningly into her eyes?  Did you open the car door for her and seat her at the table?  What about those flowers, cards, and other expressions of love and pursuit?

Are you doing those things now?  I will never understand why a man does so much to get his girl, but when they get married his chivalrous actions decline or cease altogether.

Certainly, it is so easy to get wrapped up in your job, your ministry, your kids, your recreation, your truck/car, and/or your own world that marriage and romance decline.  Sadly, your wife becomes your meal-maker, clothes-cleaner, need-meeter . . . and that’s all.

Sir, your wife needs you to continually pursue her, to be thoughtful of her, to love her, to adore her.  Give her your best every day!  Kiss, hug, hold hands when you are riding in the car or walking into church, sit close beside her, leave love notes, send her a texts throughout your day, bring her flowers or her favorite candy car/treat, stop by TJMaxx and buy her a nice outfit/sleepwear/running clothes, etc.

In summary, talk to her, pay attention to her, and hold her like you do your smartphone!

Go after her like you did in the old days . . . or like you did last year before you were married.

Men, take a cue from Solomon (4:9-11) and passionately pursue your wife with your words today for starters.  Take her in your arms and hold on to her like you did when you were dating!

You have ravished my heart,
My sister, my spouse;
You have ravished my heart
With one look of your eyes,
With one link of your necklace.
10 How fair is your love,
My sister, my spouse!
How much better than wine is your love,
And the scent of your perfumes
Than all spices!
11 Your lips, O my spouse,
Drip as the honeycomb;
Honey and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

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.

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #3

blue ridge parkway overlook

CRAZY BUSY!!!  That’s how so many people respond if you ask them how they are doing.  Busy is basically the norm of life nowadays with work, school, recreation, smartphones, internet, chasing the American dream, etc. Sadly, most folks are out of breath! We have no time for God, for our spouse, for our family, and/or for eternal things.  We are crazy busy!!

Last week, I shared two blogposts with you about taking the scenic route in marriage.  The first post called our attention to the fact that the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage.  So our first point was to understand that God created marriage, not man. The second post added the thought that God directs marriage, not man.

Today, I want us to consider that the scenic route is a steady, slower pace.

My wife and I love riding the Blue Ridge Parkway that courses it way for 469 miles through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  If you were to travel the entire route, more than 200 overlooks would be calling for your attention.

blue ridge parkway overlook2

These designated pull-offs look onto wide, breathtaking vistas, luring you to stop your car, get out, and see what God has created. You stand there and look this way, then that way as you listen to the quiet, soak up the sun, enjoy the breeze, perhaps see Peregrine falcons soar through the valley, as well as much more!

To enjoy this grandeur along the Parkway, you have to intentionally pull over, stop and get of out of the car to take it all in!

blue_ridge_parkway_overlooks

I want to ask you do something.  Would you slow down, pull over, stop the car, get out and take a fresh look at the grandeur of this grace-gift called marriage?  Sadly, too many couples are so crazy busy they have forgotten the awesome blessing of marriage!

Therefore, set a time for you and your spouse to “pull over” and read through the following passages.  Husband, you read audibly the first verse, and wife, the second, and continue back-and-forth like that until you have completed the designated passage.  When you are finished, each of you need to share what stood out to you in a positive way about marriage.  Share with each other what verse struck a chord in your heart and why.  Let the Word speak as you look at God’s creation, marriage.  This could be a part of several dates to come as you read through one passage at a time, at each “overlook.”

  • Genesis 2:18-25
  • Proverbs 5:15-19; 18:22
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
  • Song of Solomon 1:15-16; 2:1-17
  • Song of Solomon 4:1-16
  • Song of Solomon 5:1-16
  • Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:18-33
  • Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-12

Perhaps, you have lost the overall grand vista picture of what God intended marriage to be?  Slow down.  Make time for your spouse a major priority.  Look into each other’s eyes.  Share terms of love and endearment.  Wrap each other up in your arms.

Exchange CRAZY BUSY for

crazy in love with you

Taking the Scenic Route In Marriage #2

fairhaven cottage

My wife and I love to travel over the mountainous, country roads of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.  What beauty!  What adventure!  What fun!

Sometimes, we come to the end of road and wonder which direction we should turn.  Many times we have lost our GPS signal.  There is a bit of hopelessness in feeling lost, needing direction.

To fully understand today’s blog post, I would encourage you to read Taking the Scenic Route #1. As we saw, the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. There we learned, first of all, that God created marriage, not man.

Today, and second of all, God directs marriage, not man.

When you take the scenic route, you better have a good map like in the old days or have faith that your GPS keeps a good signal.  Otherwise, you are likely to get lost.

So many marriages today are directionless, struggling, floundering, trying to run on auto-pilot, and so very sadly are on the verge of collapsing altogether.  Why?  Because too many couples are not getting their directions for marriage from the One Who created marriage.  Read carefully the following words: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).

The Bible, God’s infallible Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), gives us the truths and principles we need for a God-honoring, role-fulfilling, blessed, satisfying marriage (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7).  Therefore, outside of prayer, the greatest thing you can do for your mate is to be a man or woman of the Word!

You see, it takes three to make a good, biblical marriage: God, the man, and the woman.  This is beautifully illustrated by “The Triangle.”

 

Couples-and-Jesus-triangle

The closer each spouse moves to God, the closer they move toward each other.  But, the further each moves from God, the further they move from each other.

Direction in marriage is so needed every day for each spouse, as well as each other’s own personal, relational growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16; 2 Peter 3:18).

How does this happen?

  1. Read & be clean by the Word (Ps. 119:9; John 15:2-6; 1 John 1:9)
  2. Study the Word (Psalm 119:33-40)
  3. Personalize the Word (Memorize/Meditate — Make it your own (Psalm 119:73-80)
  4. Share the Word (Ephesians 4:15)

There are so many ways to take in the Word of God through Bible apps (YouVersion), Scripture memory apps (ScriptureTyper), and podcasts (Love Worth Finding, Adrian Rodgers).  Be sure to journal what God is saying to you each day.  Then, gather up your journal and your Bible and have a special time with your spouse sharing what the God of your salvation has said to you (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Broken, directionless marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God, abandoning prayer and the searching of God’s Word.

Consider the following:

  1. Before you take the scenic route, you want to find out where you are going. I like to look at the map and I have an idea of where the road goes. The Word of God gives you a picture in your mind the roads and lay of the land in marriage. The Word of God always keeps you on the right road
  2. Sometimes on the scenic route, you let your intuition (hunch) take over. As you learn the Word and grow in the Word, you will come to rely more and more on the Word in your marriage. In essence, your spiritual instinct takes over.
  3. On the scenic route, if you get lost, you stop and ask for directions. Men usually hate to ask for directions, but in reality, men, you should be the one who is always stopping to pray (ask for directions) and point your wife toward God.

You see, just as the scenic route is not the normal route, a marriage directed by God who created matrimony is not the norm against the backdrop of this world.

Surrender to God today.  Search His Word.  Trust and live out His Word.  Enjoy the journey.

Your most important turn in marriage is the next one! —- Will it be toward God?

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #1

 

Homestead Inn

When I die, my wife could put several statements on my tombstone, and one of them could be, “Wonder where that road goes?”  I love taking the scenic route.

Recently, my wife and I got away for a two-night retreat in the Allegany Mountains of Virginia.  The morning of our departure, I said to my wife, “I’m going to go north and over the mountain.”  In doing so, we saw lovely horse farms, beautiful mansions, majestic mountains, quiet meadows, and long-distance vistas.

I love taking the scenic route.

The opposite of the scenic route in most cases is the interstate highway system in our country.  Sadly, there are too many parallels to marriages today in America

  • Its life in the fast lane . . . and somebody behind you blinking their lights at you wanting you go faster.
  • It’s the quick route . . . like fast-food; no waiting in line – we want everything now.
  • It’s the slow route . . . stalled traffic, construction – creates tension, anxiety, anger and impatience.
  • It’s monotonous . . . miles and miles of no excitement – looks like many marriages that are dull and boring, just existing.
  • It provides many exits for you to get off – sadly, so many are looking at exiting their marriage.
  • There all kinds of signs calling for your attention (South of the Border; McDonald’s; Adult bookstores; The World’s Greatest Coffee) – oh the distractions in marriage!

Do you remember the day you were married?  Do you remember the excitement you felt together as you began your life-long journey?

How’s the trip going so far? Have you met with a few bumps and turns in the road? Has the scenery become monotonous? Do you disagree over which road to take? Or, is your journey still the same exciting adventure as when it began?

Now, when I describe marriage as the scenic route, I am not saying that it is all smooth travelling. But I do want you consider as an analogy what the scenic route looks like in marriage.

First of all, the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice.

Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage.

You see, God created marriage, not man.

If my car breaks down, I am not going to take it to a dentist.  He may have drills and various other tools, but unless he’s a good sideline mechanic, he is not working on my car.  Therefore, to understand marriage, to know how marriage should work, to have wisdom to respond correctly in marriage, I must go to the Creator of marriage.

Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning, God created . . . .  Jehovah Elohim is the creator, the producer, the fashioner, the sustainer of all things, including marriage.  He is introduced in this passage as the One Who existed before anything in our universe.

Genesis 2:18-23   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 out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 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.

God created marriage, not man and with that, please consider the following concerning Jehovah Elohim:

  1. Since God existed before anything in our universe, Who can speak to marriage any better than the One Who was here before marriage?
  2. Since the name Jehovah Elohim is a plural form speaking of His awesome sovereign power, potential and possibilities, what awesome things could happen in your marriage if you brought it all under God’s sovereign power?
  3. Since God transformed that which is formless and empty into a beautiful creation, Jehovah Elohim can transform your marriage from a formless, no purpose or goal, empty, lifeless work into a beautiful creation.

Begin with God for every area of marriage.  He created marriage, not man.

Take the scenic route, it’s not the normal route.

(More on this subject in my next blog post.)