Monday, June 19, 2017

The Day is Coming.

Over the past 3 weeks my wife and I have spent nearly 2 of those weeks without our kids. First we were away on an anniversary trip for a week and then our boys went on vacation with grandparents for the better part of a week. It was weird not to have all the hustle and bustle around our house that normally accompanies two nearly-teenage boys. During the time apart, Misty and I found ourselves regularly commenting on what we thought the boys were doing, how they were getting along without us, and how we missed having them around. The two weeks we spent apart gave us a glimpse of what it will be like when we are in the "empty nest" stage of life. I'm sure that will be an exciting time in its own regard, but we aren't in any hurry to get there. Regardless of how slowly we want it to arrive that day is coming.

One thing we talked about during our sabbatical from children was what it would be like when we permanently did not have kids in the house and how our relationship would look then. We discussed how we had worked over 15 years of marriage to continue to grow together as a couple and what that would look like when the kids were not around. We also talked about how bad things could be if we had not continued to nurture our relationship, but instead we were just roommates raising kids together. The image that comes to mind when I think about the latter is an unhappy, older couple sitting silently in their living room while one watches TV and the other reads without speaking all evening. When the time comes they go to bed without hardly a word and repeat the same activities the next day.

So how do we keep from ending up as the unhappy grouches that simply live in the same house, but are too stubborn to do something about it? First off, you need to pray for your spouse and your marriage. If you aren't regularly lifting up your spouse and your marriage to God, then you aren't doing your part to help make either of them the best they can be. Secondly, find common interest and develop those interest in meaningful ways together. If it's reading and collecting books, find a way to do it together. If it is quality time relaxing, then do it together. If it is hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, shopping, working in the yard, or some other pastime, then find ways to do them together. Lastly, talk with each other. When I do premarital counseling, we do one session on communication and conflict. I strongly urge the couple sitting before me to make sure that regardless of the issues they have in marriage they must keep the lines of communication open. I also warn them that if they quit communicating, then they are putting nails in the coffin of their marriage. Talking with each other is much more than nagging, complaining, or asking "How was work today?" Small talk and complaining is not effective communication when it comes to maintaining a healthy marriage relationship over the long term. Yes your day at work is important, but what do you talk about once you retire? Talking with your spouse also doesn't include talking at your spouse. Communicating with your spouse means sharing and receiving input. If all your doing is talking at your spouse, then you might as well be talking at a fence post. Share with each other and watch how keeping the lines of communication going will help keep your marriage vibrant and growing.

I realize that every marriage situation is a unique relationship in and of itself. Each couple brings in their own individual baggage and then you have these two imperfect people attempting God's perfect plan for relationships in marriage. I wish there was a magic bullet that would allow all marriages to avoid falling into the unhappy grouchy roommate scenario but there is not one. Hopefully today's post will help you put a few things into action in your life and marriage that will keep your marriage strong and healthy, even once the kids are gone. Because that day is coming.

If you and your spouse are experiencing difficulties do not put off getting help. The longer you wait the worse things will be. Marriages are under constant attack from Satan and he is doing all he can to destroy families and marriages. Seek out a counselor, whether it is a pastor or some other form of Christian counseling, to help you address the problems in your marriage. Keep in mind it will take time and effort to fix your marital problems. You did not get in this place overnight and you will not get out of it overnight. Need help with finding a marriage counselor contact me at and I will do all I can to help you get in touch with one.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Can you tell the difference?

One Sunday following church, while driving to my parent's house for lunch, my youngest son made one of those comments that just left us laughing and shaking our heads. As often as he does this you would think we would be accustomed to it by now, but he always seems to amaze us. My wife made a comment about stopping by the grocery store to pick up something for supper for the upcoming week. Only hearing part of the conversation, our son said "Don't buy hamburger at the store. It's disgusting! We need some 'homemade' Black Angus beef." Raising beef cattle does have it's advantages when it comes to knowing where your meat comes from and having a regular supply of "homemade" meat as he put it. As for his comment, I have a feeling that if we fixed store bought hamburger he would never know the difference.

How are you when it comes to biblical teachings? Can you tell the difference between the good stuff and the imitations? Do you take a smiley televangelist at his word or can you discern when someone isn't teaching the truths of God's Word? The only way to know whether what you're being taught is wrong or not is to have a firm grounding in what is right. It's a matter of growing in your faith and developing your faith outside of the corporate worship setting at church.

Here's an example of how this works. If I were to stand before my congregation and quote that the bible says "God helps those who help themselves" or teach that "Cleanliness is next to godliness" then I am sure some would assume that I had pulled it out of the Bible. Why not? He's the pastor. He has to be teaching from the Bible, right? Not exactly. Those two phrases are often quoted lines, but they aren't in the Bible. One is from a 17th century discourse on government and the other is a Babylonian proverb, respectfully. 

The problem is biblical illiteracy forces us to accept false teachings as the truth. The Apostle Paul regularly warned his churches to watch out for those that taught anything other than the truth. He even went so far as to call some who taught a false gospel dogs and mutilators of the flesh (Philippians 3). The point is that if we don't have a good working knowledge of what the truth is, then we will easily be sold a false truth that isn't what we want or need. My encouragement to you is to grow in your own walk with Christ so that when you hear something or read something that isn't quite kosher, you can easily pick it out.

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