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!

Valentine’s Day Everyday!

Roses

Top 6 Valentine’s Day Facts for 2022 by Wallethub.com
$23.9 Billion: Total Valentine’s Day spending projected for 2022 ($175.41 per person celebrating).
$235 vs. $119: Men will spend almost twice as much as women, on average, for Valentine’s Day 2022.
$10.7 Billion: Amount Americans will spend on jewelry ($6.2B), flowers ($2.3B) and candy ($2.2B).
26%: Share of marriages that begin online.
33%: Overall online dating activity increase across the US between February 1 and February 14.
58%: Share of Americans who say that romantic gestures are more important to them now than they were pre-pandemic.

Valentine’s Day is a very special day, and it’s fun to try to express our love in big ways and in small ways, too!

Did you know that you can have Valentine’s Day everyday?

How?  Just work at your marriage by the grace of God each day. Make more investments in your relationship than you do withdrawals. Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Tell your spouse each day, “I love you.”
  2. Kiss your spouse each day–not a peck on the cheek or lips, either!
  3. Hold hands as you walk through the store, down the sidewalk, into church, etc.
  4. Take 10-30 minutes each day to pay attention and communicate with each other.  No distractions (kids, phones, TV, etc).  You can do it! And look into each other’s eyes, too!
  5. Leave love notes around the house, in the car, in his shirt pocket, in her purse, on the bathroom mirror by using a dry erase marker, etc.
  6. Text each other throughout the day expressing your love for one another and what you are up to at the moment.
  7. Be demonstrative in your love toward your spouse in front of the children.  They need to see what marriage is really like.
  8. Plan an inexpensive date (A ride in the car after supper, a walk through the park, some time spent on the back porch, a personal pan pizza served on china plates after the kids are in bed, read old love letters and cards, shut the door to your bedroom making it off limits to the kids, listen to some old love songs, recreated a date from before you were married, watch your wedding video, etc.)
  9. Open the door (car, home, store) for your wife.  Seat her at the table, too.
  10. Look for opportunities each day to say, “I love you. I am thinking of you.”  If you don’t know what to do, pray about it . . . seriously.
  11. Give the gift of time.

Big event days and big gifts are indeed fun.  But, it’s the things you do the other 364 days that make Valentine’s Day so special!

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!!

The Heart of Valentine’s Day

Roses

This is a special day for those “in love.”  For married couples, it is just another day of intentionally working at their marriage with a little bit of flare added to it or sadly for some, it is a “catch up” day or a day just passed by.

Nevertheless, the very symbol of Valentine’s Day really sums up the whole of married life….as well as everyone’s life.  It is a heart issue.  In other words, the heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.  This speaks even to those of a broken heart today.

Jesus said, in answer to the lawyer’s testing question of what is the greatest commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39).

Before an unsaved, lost man can be born again (John 3:1-16) and then love God with all his heart, he must turn to Christ and receive Him as the Word of God clearly states.  Until a man receives Christ as the only way to God the Father (John 14:1-6), he has no desire to love God (Romans 3:9-17).  But when a sinner is born again, the perfect love of God is poured out upon him/her (Romans 5:5), and they understand the greatest love of all from the Creator and Sustainer of true love (1 John 4:7-19).  No man understands or lives out genuine love until he comes to know God through Jesus Christ alone.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:9-13).

For a married couple that knows and understands the love of God, the heart is still the issue of every facet of marriage.  No matter what route or adventure marriage takes, loving God with all your heart is the answer.

Many years ago in Bible college, I was introduced to the simple marriage triangle.

marriage triangle

This triangle simply teaches, the closer each spouse moves to God, the closer they move toward each other. The further each moves from God, the further they move from each other. Broken marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God.  Blessed marriages involve both partners loving God with all their heart, moving closer and closer to God.  When you really love someone, you want to be with them.  You want to move closer to them.  You want to know them.

God created marriage, not man (Genesis 2:18-25).  Therefore, if you desire to have a marriage that fulfills all that God intended and makes for a heart-filled Valentine’s Day every day, move closer to God through His Word, prayer, and worship; love Him with all your heart, and your neighbor (your spouse) in the same manner.

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

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Day After Valentine’s

 

winnie-pooh-quote-4

Valentine’s Day is always a very special day for married lovebirds!!  Red roses, boxes of chocolates, dinner dates, romantic venues, recalling of Valentine’s Days of the past, perfume, cards, terms of endearment left on sticky notes all over the house, pictures posted on Facebook and Instagram, communications of the degree of love for each other, and on and on it goes for this special day!!

But . . . what about today, the day after Valentine’s Day?  You put much thought into how you would express your love to your Sweetheart.  You went out of your way to purchase that perfect gift.  You fantasized in your mind the most romantic setting and fulfillment for this special day.  You wrote down your thoughts of love and appreciation in a card.  You made sure the whole world knew about it on Facebook.

All of this took intentional thought and effort.

This leads to me say one crucial thing about how to keep your marriage moving forward, to keep it hummin’!

You have to work at it every day! 

No, you don’t have to buy a $75 bouquet of flowers or have a candlelight dinner at Ruth’s Chris every day. You intentionally . . .

  • Verbalize your love to each another
  • Kiss (Eliminate the peck!)
  • Pray together
  • Hold hands
  • Look at each other
  • Seat your wife at the table
  • Pray together
  • Hug each other
  • Serve each other
  • Enjoy a 5-minute date in the pantry with the door closed
  • Leave love notes
  • Pray together
  • Share what God has taught you from His Word
  • Laugh together
  • Hold each other
  • Speak words of encouragement
  • Enjoy being with each other
  • Listen to each other
  • Pray together
  • Forgive each other
  • Make sure your spouse comes before your children
  • Make sure your spouse knows you love him/her more than the children
  • Pray together
  • Be gracious to each other
  • Touch each other
  • Pay attention to each other like your mate was Facebook
  • Wash her car
  • Pray together
  • Bake him his favorite cookies
  • Do the things you did when you were dating . . . even many years later
  • Keep having fun (Don’t grow old grumpy!)
  • Pray together

So, what are your intentional plans for your lovebird today, the day after Valentine’s Day?

winnie-pooh-quote-3

On the Same Page Together

02-08-17-on-the-same-page-1

Yesterday I received my daily email from All-Pro Dad, and the post for Wednesday was entitled, 4 Areas You and Your Wife Need to Be on the Same Page

The four areas are:

  1. Touching throughout the day.
  2. Spending money wisely.
  3. Making big decisions together.
  4. Having an Open-Heart policy.

BONUS: Closing the day in prayer

These four things are spot-on, but what caught my attention was the title of the article and the bonus.  They describe the real need of every marriage.

The page that every marriage should work from each day is a page from God’s Word.

The bonus in every marriage, every day is prayer!

You see, God, the Creator of marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-25), is also the Author of God’s Word.  Therefore, for a husband and wife to be blessed and have an honorable marriage, they will work off the same page . . . the page(s) of God’s Word.

Since God is righteous (Psalm 145:17), then all His ways, counsel, direction, and wisdom is right.  You want to know what’s right for your marriage, then both of you work off the same page, God’s Word!

Husband and wives should read the Word together, share with each other what God teaches you each day-by-day from the Word, faithfully attend a Bible teaching and preaching church, be exposed to biblical preaching via podcasts or radio, attend camps and conferences where you can learn the Word together, and live your lives in accordance to God’s right path (Joshua 1:8-9; Psalm 1:1-6; 19:7-14).

Proverbs 14:11 reminds us, There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  Since marriage is the union of two selfish individuals whose way seems always best to themselves, it is most wise to walk in the counsel of God’s righteous Word.

The power and place of God’s Word is on display in Psalm 119.  Here’s an action plan. How about each day, you and your spouse read one eight-verse section from Psalm 119.  Take turns reading each verse out loud and stopping after each verse to listen to God and share with each other how that verse applies to your life and marriage.  Then jot down in a journal your thoughts, biblical plans, and the righteous path God has revealed to you as you read, discuss and meditate on the Word.

Finally, enjoy the BONUS—pray together.  Don’t just wait until the end of the day.  Find yourselves praying for and with each other throughout the day and night.  The absolute best place to go with your spouse is to the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Now, that’s really working off the same page!!