Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mind Transformation

Everything we do and say begins in our mind, and our mind is what generates our thoughts and ideas. These ideas become emotions, beliefs, and actions. How you perceive the world around you has tremendous influence on what your mind generates. You hear things every day that attempt to influence the way you see yourself and your life.

Corporate advertising tells you that you are constantly in need of something bigger and better to be happy. People influence you by telling you who you are and what you should do based only on their ideas. In a spiritual sense, you also have a very real enemy who hates you. This enemy is working to convince you that you aren’t worthy of love, you’re not good at anything, and you’ll never amount to much.

Here is what I hold true: because of God’s incredible love for you, He has provided a means of relationship with Him, provided you with Holy Spirit, and provided you with His word. He’s also given you the ability to renew your mind on a daily basis and to ponder the truth of how He sees you and feels about you. It is this truth that defines who you really are. You have the chance every day to experience the renewal of your emotions, perspectives, and beliefs. God desires to speak to you every day and share His truth about your identity through His word and Spirit.

His command for us is printed clear as day. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2. The truth is, if we are not able to transform our mind then God would not have told us to do it. You have the ability! You are worshipping God when we renew your mind with His ideas. You worship God when you choose to believe His word over world’s ideas. By trusting God, you show your love for Him instead of your feelings and limited perspective. When you renew your mind, you are no longer conforming to the world, with its destruction and lies, but conforming to God’s truth about you.

How do you transform your mind? Here are four simple steps: First, you must see yourself through the lens of God’s word. Perspective is the key. You have the ability to believe God or not. His word says amazing things about you and your identity in Christ: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. God proclaimed that you are His child, that you are worth the death of His Son, and that you are free from of the shackles of sin and the world. Those promises are extremely powerful. In order for you to experience the fullness of what His word says, you must renew your thought process to be like God’s. The Apostle Paul said that “we have the “mind of Christ” as people born of the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:16.
How do you set your mind in a Christ-like manner? Step number two is you have to make time for God every day. Open your mind and heart to God’s word every day. Before your day gets too hectic and out of control, experience renewal in your mind is when you first wake up. By carving out time every morning, you set the foundation for what you will believe and how you will think for the rest of the day. Your entire outlook on life will begin to change. You will find yourself in a place of contentment, experiencing joy, having purpose, and living in abundance.

The third aspect of daily transformation revolves around Holy Spirit. When you came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit set up residence in your heart. When you are alone and reading God’s word, read it while listening to Holy Spirit. Scripture will come alive when you spend time reading it with the guidance and teaching of the Spirit. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17. Allow your Helper, the Spirit of truth, to show you the ways he desires God’s word to shape your life and transform your mind. As you read, Holy Spirit will be your Teacher if you ask him.

The final step to daily transformation is obedience. Just like any diet or workout plan, obedience and discipline are key. You have to live in obedience to God’s word. His word is not merely historical but is actually full of practical and applicable truth that has the ability to transform your life. When you open your heart to God’s word and choose to believe it, you will experience transformation. When you choose to obedient obey God’s commands, you will bear incredible fruit in your life. God’s word is meant to direct you to the rich life he has planned for you. Have faith in the words of Scripture. Choose to believe God’s promises.

So, are you ready to transform your mind and move into a place where God will use you as the conduit to achieve His purposes? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then your instructions have been clearly laid out. If you are not a believer, then you can make that change today. In a simple prayer, admit you are a sinner to God, and you need a Savior. Believe Jesus Christ is that Savior and was crucified for your sin on the cross, and that he rose again. Confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and ask Holy Spirit to take up residence in you. If you can utter that simple prayer, and follow the instruction for transformation, then you can experience what God has in store for you.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

When You Hear His Voice

For the Christ Follower the coolest thing, and the thing most desired, is to hear His voice. When you look through Scripture you see God is not a screamer. Often times He comes to his people in the stillness and quietness of life. This goes hand in hand with Mark Batterson’s study called, “Whisper,” of which my church is doing on Wednesday nights. In a recent session I attended, the focus was on being “still” and “silent” and to listen for Holy Spirit. I think we all can agree being still and silent is not part of our daily routine. The hustle and bustle of life, and the noise associated with it makes us deaf and unable to hear His voice.
To be honest, I have not been “still” and “silent” for a long time and have been experiencing a dryness in my Christian walk. I’m certain I was called to establish the non-profit 3Strand Inc. and help people become the best version of themselves. However, the busyness of life, the added tasks of growing a dream, and trying to keep all the saucers spinning have left me feeling overwhelmed. In the book, Put Your Dreams to the Test, John Maxwell teaches when you are living someone else’s dream you have no trouble sleeping, but when you take ownership of your dream sleep doesn’t come so easy. He also teaches when you own your dream your passion is the fuel needed to continue the journey. I am passionate about helping others but have wondered if my “why” is big enough to help be find my way. This morning I heard His voice.
Being still and silent must mean something different to Holy Spirt because he came to me at a time you probably wouldn’t talk about in church. During my routine visit to the “library” this morning I was scrolling through the emails on my phone. Stop right there! In this day of modern technology, you probably do the same thing. Anyway, one of the emails was a daily devotional from Dr. David Jeremiah. I usually delete the weekend version because is a little longer than usual. This morning I decided to open it and read the story of Karl Friedrich Gutzlaff (Karl for short). Karl was the first Lutheran missionary to China and died in 1851 at the age of 48. Not seeing much fruit from his labor, he felt his life was a failure and died in disappointment. However, his writings later impacted J. H. Taylor who would open China up to the Gospel, as well as Dr. David Livingston who took the Gospel to the interior of Africa. A warmness filled my soul and tears started to leak out of my eyes as I learned God is not the source of discouragement. My task is to keep moving forward and splash “around in the work God has given me” so that those ripples will reach those He intends reach through me.
Just to show off, Holy Spirit drove home another point. With my “library” time complete, I scrolled through the memory feed on my Facebook page. This time two years ago I was reading Chase the Lion, by Mark Batterson. It is a tremendous and inspiring book that deals with chasing your dreams and doing the difficult things needed to accomplish them. The passage dealing with legacy compliments what I learned in Jeremiah’s devotional. I might never see a life changed, but I must believe I can inspire others. It may be those others who affect change. The other portion of the book I saved talks about God’s timing and opportunity. When I answered His call in 2012, I was not looking for a scheduled appointment. His call, my dream, “found” me and 3Strand was born.                
We all know things can come in three’s and this morning Holy Spirit was right on que. I closed my Facebook feed feeling pretty confident I received a word from the Lord. I opened my Instagram page and this picture was at the top. My friend, Mike Wehde, is a pastor, church plant strategist, and all-around great guy. He has had seasons in his life where direction has been a challenge. One thing he holds true, keep your focus on the Lord and continue moving forward. I believe that to be true as well. Science tells us when something is in motion it will stay in motion unless there is applied force to stop the motion. God and I alone are the only ones have the power to kill my dream.
So, what did I hear Holy Spirit say to me this morning? What was He trying to show me? Here’s what I know. Disappointment is that place between expectation and reality. To eliminate disappointment, I can either alter expectations or change my reality. Altering my expectations is not an option so the focus needs to be on changing reality. In order to change my reality, Holy Spirit showed me three things:
1.      Keep my focus on the Lord and to trust Him by just putting one foot in front of the other. Stay in motion and avoid the distractions.
2.      My timing and His timing are not the same and I need to be prepared to seize opportunities when they arise.
3.      I don’t get to see the big picture. I may never realize what the Lord is doing in someone else’s life through me. Do not be disappointed!
It is my hope that what I experienced this morning encourages you to keep going, motivates you to chase your dream, or just brings you comfort as walk journey through life. May God richly bless you and thank you for taking the time to read my work.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


Part of my daily routine is to read a scripture-based devotional as a means of staying grounded in my faith. I wish I could say I am 100% faithful, but the effort is there none the less. Recently, I finished a devotion authored by Dan Britton and Jimmy Page titled, Called to Greatness: A Devotion to Ignite the Faith of Fathers and Sons. One of the daily devotions discussed people in our lives that can be classified as “Drainers” or “Refreshers.” Drainers “exhibit repetitive negative, pessimistic, complaining, and “life sucking” behaviors. They criticize, complain, whine, make excuses and find faults. Their words are laced with destruction, and they spew their poison on anyone who dares to listen.” Refreshers on the other hand are, “faith-filled, positive, right-living, energized” people who speak words of life. They help fill you emotionally, relationally, and spiritually by breathing encouragement, blessing, and hope into your life. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a Refresher to all those I interact with. I want to take a moment and talk about encouragement and how we can encourage those around us.

In talking about encouragement, what are we saying? First, look at the root word – courage. defines “courage” as noun and is a personal characteristic exhibited by, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Likewise, to encourage is to take the noun, courage, and turn into action by “inspiring with courage, spirit, or hope.” Second, consider the biblical breakdown of encouragement. Strong’s states the Greek word for encouragement is “parakaleō” and is the combination of two words; “para” and “kaleō.” Para means “to walk along side” and Kaleō means, “to admonish, exhort, strengthen.” So, an encourager, a Refresher, is someone who walks beside someone else speaking inspiration and hope into the life of someone who may need help persevering the moment.

Being an encourager sounds like a difficult task doesn’t it? Why would someone want to step into that role? Outside of the fact we live in a tough world and need encouragement; for the Christian, it is a command. The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Timothy 5:11). Likewise, the writer of Hebrews instructs the Jesus follower, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13) Interestingly, the biblical term “edification” is very similar to encourage. To edify someone is to build them up. It is a construction term giving the picture of laying bricks on top of each other. The words we speak can build people up and act as bricks of encouragement. Being an encouragement to others is something we should all strive to do; not as a command, but as a desire.

Unfortunately, a person’s perspective may hinder them from being an encouragement. How do you see yourself when you look in the mirror? In the book, Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters, John Maxwell shares that 80% of people “focus on what they have failed at instead of what they have failed to do.” The focus is on their failure rather than their future. Either by design or by default, you either see the world as half full or half empty. It is impossible to encourage someone else unless you are able to encourage yourself first! How can you speak life, hope, and inspiration into someone else unless you first speak it into yours? The truth is, the same God that created the universe is the same God that created you and I, and we are created in His image. He loves you and he calls you His friend. When you see your reflection, see yourself through the eyes of your Creator and be encouraged.

How you see others is as vitally important as you see yourself. When you see others, how do you see them? Do you see them through the eyes of God as well? Do you understand God loves them as much as He loves you? The Bible say in Romans 2:11, “There is no partiality with God,” and Galatians 2:6, “But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) - well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me." God sees the sinner and the saint and loves them both. To be an encourager to others we need to possess the same vision. This is a tough nut for me to crack; especially when I interact with people that I don’t care for, but I’m trying. At least I have the right perspective.

Now that we know what encouragement is and why we should do it, how do we do it? Encouragement can be broken down into words and actions. We all know the nursery rhyme, Sticks and Stones. The nursery rhyme is a lie because words certainly can hurt you. You may not think so, but there is true power in the spoken word. The writer of Proverbs 18:21 states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” James, the brother of Jesus, describes the tongue as “a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3: 5-6). Our words can tear people down just as easily as they can build them up. Choose your words wisely – be a people builder.

Just like words, our deeds or actions can encourage others. Again, coming at it from biblical point of view, Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” The good works are the actions we are destined to perform for the benefit of others. When we physically make an effort to encourage others and meet their needs, we “…do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17. You know it to be true; when someone physically steps into your life and gives you the boost you need for the day, for the season, it makes a world of difference. Words without action are just that – words.

Hopefully I have encouraged you to be a Refresher. When you wake up in the morning, before you put your feet on the floor, make up your mind to be encouraged. For no other reason than you have breath and get to live another day. Use that truth and allow it to spill into the lives of others. You can be an encourager for someone today, tomorrow…Be a Refresher and not a Drainer. Be blessed!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Ever Been Stuck in a Rut?

Have you ever been stuck in a rut? Webster’s defines a rut as, “a usual or fixed practice; a monotonous routine; a track worn by a wheel or by habitual passage.” Some might call it “a funk,” or a “stale season.” Ruts can develop in the work place, our spiritual life, personal growth, as well as relationships. Regardless of how we define it, chances are most people have been in a rut. The good news is ruts are normal and can be effectively eradicated with some effort.

Case in point: I live in Virginia Beach and we generally do not get large amounts of snow during the winter. However, when we do get snow the city has a hard time and havoc usually ensues. This winter was an exception; not the havoc part, the measurable snow part. One storm in particular dropped almost 10” in my neighborhood. It was a beautiful thing, but the storm knocked the power out and power equals no morning coffee – Havoc! I own a 2011 Honda Pilot as assumed I would be able to navigate the fresh powder and acquire the desired morning beverage. You know what they say about assuming… I didn’t make it 500 feet before I was stuck in rut and the snow had lifted the Pilot up and I could not get any traction. I was in a rut! I could not turn left or right; I could not go in reverse either. I was lucky enough to have a nice guy in a lifted truck tow me back home and I put the Pilot back in the driveway.

Now this is obviously an example of a physical rut, but I want to talk to you about relational ruts; especially in married relationships. I have a desire to help married couples achieve the marriage of their dreams and those marriages do not come with ruts. Yet, every married couple gets stuck in a rut, and if you have not been stuck yet, you will. Before I share three easy tips with you, it is important to be intentional in your relationship. You might feel your marriage is in a rut, but your spouse may not. Intentionality brings the subject to light. When intentional focus is at hand corrections can be made. No two marriages are the same, but these tips will help you move in the right direction.

1. Look at the Current Routine.
Sometimes in life we get stuck on auto-pilot. Things are not necessarily bad, but you may feel the calendar is just flying by and life is stale. This is where intentionality takes place. Get out the pencil and paper and list the aspects of your relationship. Check off the ones that are fine and highlight where there needs some improvement. Here are some common areas where couples can fall into a rut:
  •          Daily routines
  •          Shared activities
  •         Meals
  •          Date nights
  •         Sex
  •         Outings with friends
  •         Family time 
If there is mutual agreement to any part of your life where you feel like you are in a rut, prioritize those areas.  First, start making changes to the areas highlighted that works best for your relationship. You must be intentional and start somewhere; even if it is a small step. The hardest part of getting out of a rut is making a course change. The smallest degree in changing course will lead to a totally different destination. Breaking out of a rut takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. Ready to liven things up?

2. Intentionally Break the Routine.
Once you have highlighted the areas in your marriage that need a little tweaking, it’s time to put a plan into action. Here are a few ideas for the areas I listed above:

  • Daily routines Do you go through the same motions every day? If so, shake it up a bit. Try a different route to work. Play some different music while you travel. Get coffee out every now and then, get it at home if you have a Starbucks addiction.
  • Shared activities – I love to play golf and I know my wife will never play golf with me. However, she will happily drive the golf cart. She loves to window shop; me not so much. But, we both like to people watch. Make a list of a few new activities you’d like to try, pick one, and JUST DO IT.
  • Meals – Shake it up in the kitchen. Try at least one new meal at home every week. There are several home delivery services that deliver exotic meals you both can enjoy making together. This allows you the stability of an existing routine, while inserting something new and exciting into the mix.
  • Date nights – This one is simple. If you go on regular date nights, and you should, go somewhere different. Get away from the same old comfortable restaurant and movie deal. Intentionally try out new destinations for your date nights.
  • Sex – This one is almost as easy as the date night fix. Be intentional! Life steps in and outside responsibilities reduce our sex lives to a predictable pattern. Guys, step it up here and help your wife with the kids, household chores, whatever she needs. She’s a crockpot that needs to be plugged in before you go to work. Ladies, set aside some extra time for him to be alone with you, and remember he’s a visual creature.
  • Friends – Do you go out with other married couples? If so, and things are predictable, shake it up and suggest something new. Fun activities like bowling, or a game night at home can be a welcome change to the routine.
  • Family – Bored at home with the kids? Break away from the electronics and social media and get the kids to share their ideas of fun. When I babysit my grandchildren they always want to play horsey. Pop is getting too old and they are getting too big, but you get the point.
The smallest change in the routines of life will help you get out of the rut you are in. Things will become a little more exciting and will springboard into the final tip.

3. Spontaneity – Plan It.
Isn’t that some sort of oxy-moron? If you and your mate do not intentionally plan to be spontaneous more often, spontaneity simply will not happen. Look at your calendars, make a reminder every week to do something unplanned that will be fun, romantic, or exciting for you both. Spontaneity is fun, and most people deeply desire a measure of it; especially in their marriage. Intentionally planning to be spontaneous may sound strange, but it will pay off and get you out of the “same ole, same ole.”
We are all busy and getting busier all the time. Things can get ordinary, common place; and the only way to eliminate that is to decide you’re not going to let it stay that. Again, be intentional. I cannot stress it enough. Don’t wait; talk about it, then move.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Road to Emmaus: Despair to Delight

As I begin this message, it is just before 4:00 pm on Resurrection Sunday, April 1, 2018. I am purposefully writing at this time because it coincides with the narrative of the Emmaus journey found in Luke, chapter 24. Our characters of this narrative, Cleopas and another disciple of Jesus, have left Jerusalem and are heading to their home in Emmaus; about a seven-mile journey. Their conversation at the start of this trek is rather animated. After all, their hopes of deliverance from the Roman empire have been dashed with the crucifixion of their Messiah. Now, with his body missing from the tomb, it is time to leave the dangerous environment of Jerusalem.
  Not long into the journey, Cleopas and his partner are joined by another traveler. The traveler is none other than the resurrected Jesus, yet the Bible states, “But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (v. 16). Jesus asked the what they are discussing in such an animated fashion. I can almost see the expression on Cleopas’ face as he answers something like, “Dude! Where have you been? Are you the only guy in Jerusalem that doesn’t know what happened?” Jesus plays along with them and has Cleopas explain things as they resume their walk.
After Cleopas finished his dissertation on things gone wrong, Jesus gifted these two distraught disciples with a firsthand Bible study in prophecy. Starting with Genesis 3:15, the first messianic prophecy found in scripture, Jesus taught them for the continuation of the journey. All the while, Cleopas and his partner never came to grips that it’s Jesus doing the teaching. As the travelers approached Emmaus, the sun was setting, and Jesus was invited to have dinner with them. He agreed and reclined at the table with them. In this setting, Jesus assumed the role of the host; took the bread, blessed it, and began to serve his traveling companions. It is at this time the disciples eyes are opened and they recognized it is Jesus who has served them. Before they can utter a word, “Jesus vanished from their sight” (v. 31).
After the disappearance of Jesus, Cleopas and his partner recapped all that had taken place. They remember how their “hearts burned” during the journey while Jesus taught them. Their despair shifted. There was a renewed hope in their spirit. The two elected to travel back to Jerusalem and tell the other disciples what they had encountered. They found Peter and the others gathered in the upper room, and as they began to tell the story, Jesus appeared to all present. “Peace be with you” was the salutation Jesus spoke as he came into their presence.
So, what does this narrative have to do with you and me? For me, it is a message resurrection, of restoration. It is a story of how a person can have such high expectations of what being a Christian is, only to have those expectations squelched by the world. Over time our aspirations may become misguided and the next thing you know our “walk” has become somewhat crooked. Or maybe tragedy has struck your family. There has been a loss of a loved one, or a relationship severed. Perhaps there has been a job loss and the world is crushing you and all you can see is the struggle to put one foot in front of another; just to make it through another day.
Please allow me some creative liberty if you will. You ever wonder why Cleopas’ traveling companion is not named in this narrative? Sure, we can do some biblical investigation and come up with some good guesses. I believe it his wife, Mary, one of the three Mary’s found at the cross of Jesus, but that is neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is the companion is not named. May I suggest you and I are the other disciple traveling with Cleopas. Insert your name into the narrative. Think about the time when you came to know Jesus as your Savior. You where excited and had visions of how life with the Messiah would be different. However, over time, the world has crept in and has left your faith and vision cloudy. You might even be in the same state of despair as our travelers.
The truth of the matter is Jesus is still walking beside you. He is still walking beside me. We have to listen to his teaching. We have to recline at his table. We have to partake of what he wants to feed us. It is only then our vision will become clear and our despair return to delight. The length of this journey is totally up to you. Sure, it might not be a two-hour, seven-mile walk, but it could be. Just don’t let it be a life-long adventure. In a note of transparency, I’m not in a state of despair but I know people who are. I’ve gone through seasons of staleness that only become refreshed when I listen, recline, and partake. How about you?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Loving Your Wife

Loving Your Wife

When I was doing my undergrad work at Liberty University, part of the required reading for one of the marriage and family courses was the popular book, Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It’s a wonderful book and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Dr. Eggerichs uses the basic, yet profound, principles found the Bible to show how a man should love his wife. In the fifth chapter of Ephesians we read how a man should “love his wife as Christ loved the church,” and a women “shall respect” her husband. Yet, I believe love and respect are very similar and husbands and wives need both. If you have read Gary Chapman’s, The Five Love Languages, you know people have several ways of giving and receiving love. However, the following list will help husbands love their wives in a deeper way regardless of their love language.

1. Focus on the prize!
Regardless of how you see your wife, she should be your prized possession. No, I’m not saying your wife is your property, but she must be the most valuable thing in your life. You must have eyes only for her and not get a crook in your neck taking a “double take” at a pretty girl passing by. A man loves his wife by never comparing her to an airbrushed supermodel or another beautiful woman. Men, you make your wife feel safe, adored and loved when your eyes are “monogamous.” Remember, your eyes are the gateway to your heart.

2. Engage in meaningful conversation
Meaningful, intimate communication is extremely difficult for most husbands. Yet, if a man can understand the typical wife’s need for communication may very well be as a powerful as his need need for sex, they may put forth greater effort. However, communication is far more than one person doing a bunch of talking. In his book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, John Maxwell describes how our deepest desire is to be truly known by someone else. The way you get to know your wife is to ask questions and then actively listen. He goes on to say, “Communication is the language of leadership.” I say it’s the language of a solid, loving marriage. Men, you show love to your wife when you turn off the phone, turn of the TV, and engage in meaningful, transparent, and truthful conversation.

3. Support and encourage her
When you have engaged in meaningful conversation you should be able to pick up on your wife’s goals and dreams. Although you may have dreams of your own, a husband will show love to his wife by making her dreams his priority. The “agape” type of love described in the Bible is putting other’s needs before your own. Men, when encourage your wife you become her biggest cheerleader, biggest fan. You stimulate growth and inspire her with courage; helping her to reach for her dreams regardless of her fear. A key role of a husband is to place his wife in such a position so that she may achieve her God-given potential. 

4. Provision
For most men, their profession is a major part of their self-image. Good, bad, or in different, when a husband works hard to provide for his wife it communicates love. Jimmy Evans, with Marriage Today, states statistics show a women’s number one desire in marriage is to feel safe and secure. When a husband works hard, it communicates safety and security to his wife because she knows he’s doing all he can to provide for her. In contrast, a lazy husband communicates a totally opposite message.

5. Help her at home
I get it. Each household is different, and sometimes both spouse work full-time jobs. You are tired. She is tired. Yet, when a husband willing performs duties around the house that may have traditionally been left up to the wife, it communicates love. Gary Chapman calls this love language, “acts of service.” In homes where the wife manages the domestic duties, the husband should still be willing to jump in and help. Doing the dishes or folding laundry is a simple way to add value and show love to your wife. There may be a little reward in your future if you follow this practice.

6. Make time with your wife a priority
Men, we have our priorities. But if we are to keep our eye on the prize, we must make our wives our number one priority. You career should line up number three behind your relationship with Christ, followed by your wife and family. A husband shows value in his wife and marriage when he makes her a consistent priority on his calendar. Men, don’t give your wife your left-overs. Give her the very best of yourself.

7. Continuously pursues her
If you have been married for any length of time, you have probably forgotten the amount of energy you invested in winning your prize. Men are natural hunters and most guys are great at pursuing something desired. Sadly, when the desired object, in this case your wife, is obtained, we tend to get lazy.  Men, you must develop a consistent and steady way of chasing after your bride. Pursuit equals passion, and when you passionately pursue your bride you communicate your love for her.

8. Never give up!

The Jimmy V Foundation has coin the phrase, “Never give up, never-ever give up.” Although the foundation’s focus is on cancer research and finding a cure, the phrase, “Never give up,” must apply to your feelings toward your wife. A husband shows love to his wife by believing in her, even when she struggles to believe in herself. Never give up on your wife. Bring out the best in her by build her up through your words, your actions and your respect. Let her know that your promise to her and your love for her is unconditional and unyielding. That will give her the confidence to take on the world knowing you are always there for her.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Best Friends

When I think about my marriage, and marriage in general, I firmly believe our spouses must be our best friends in life. After all, this is the person you will do life with. The romantic aspects of a marriage will be built upon a base of friendship. Sadly, many marriages fall into this “auto-pilot,” stagnate status because we quite putting for the effort to be friends. In a recent newsletter from Marriage Today, Pastor Jimmy Evans shares seven tips to consider when trying to foster a solid friendship with your mate. I’ve taken some liberty to add a little here and there to what Evans shared.
1.      Be faithful. Being faithful in marriage is a no brainer. With a lack of faith there can be trust, and without trust a friendship will not thrive. The Bibles says in Proverbs 17:17, “a friend loves at all times, but a brother is born for adversity.” In other words, the strongest friendships are cemented during hard times. Deep friendships are forged during times of adversity in a marriage. That’s when you pay the closest attention and learn to trust. Living in the tension and not wavering develops the faithfulness needed for true friendship.
2.      Believe in each other. Simply speaking, you are supposed to be your spouse’s biggest fan and cheerleader. One of the reasons God created marriage is to help spouses bring each other to their full potential. He made woman to complete the man and each of them have designed functions. For instance, a husband provides a nurturing, protective environment for his wife. Similarly, a wife establishes an atmosphere of praise and respect for her husband. Men and women will flourish in these environments. Two people who believe in each other will both become the best versions of themselves.
3.      Embrace your differences. They say, “opposites attract” and research proves this to be true. In a normal marriage, the husband and wife are not carbon copies of each other. There are differences and these differences are probably opposites in many ways. Will you rejoice in your differences or criticize them? Will you try to change him or her to meet your needs? Instead of forcing your spouse to become more like you, celebrate the ways the two of you are compatible. Identify where one’s strengths match up to another’s weaknesses, then thank God for those differences.
4.      Be real and transparent. As mentioned previously, true friendship is based on faith and trust. With this faith and trust, friendship means being able to be honest and transparent without fear of retribution. Share your heart with your spouse and talk about opinions, hopes and dreams. By doing this you allow your spouse into your world and become an active member. Most importantly, allow your spouse to be real and transparent, too. When your spouse is safe to share their opinions, hopes and dreams with you, you are then able to operate in the role of encourager.
5.      Be a refuge. As described above, transparency is impossible if one spouse feels unsafe opening up to the other. That transparency is fostered in faith and trust, and when these ingredients are present a safe place is developed. That’s why a husband and wife must be each other’s safe place. When anything good or bad happens in their lives, they go to each other first. Crying to mommy or daddy is not an option. This requires listening, openness, and a nonjudgmental spirit.
6.      Be fun and creative. Having fun together in marriage dramatically improves a relationship. When you were perusing your spouse, there was effort and energy exuded in order to win them. In fact, one of the danger signs for divorce is when a husband and wife quit trying and no longer enjoy each other’s company. When was the last time you laughed together? When was the last time you pursued a hobby together? Plan dates and play games. Flirt, tease and romance each other like when you were first dating. Work hard at having fun.
7.      Bear each other’s burdens. In Galatians 6:2 the Bible calls for believers to “bear one another’s burdens.” This is a picture of bolstering someone up under a heavy load. If “a brother is born for adversity,” then friends step up when it’s time to serve one another, and help carry the load. That might mean physically helping or it might mean supporting a spouse emotionally. Get into the habit of checking in with your spouse and ask, “How are you?” or “What do you need?” Never shrink or step back and watch your spouse suffer without stepping in to help. You are friends, and that’s what friends do.

When a marriage struggles, it’s often because a husband and wife have lost focus. They’ve poured their energy into work or into their kids and they’ve forgotten that they are supposed to be best friends. Re-establish your friendship and a more successful marriage will follow.