Encouragement, Marriage, Parents, Postmarital

Oh, Those Cutting Remarks

I heard a pretty humorous story that went something like the following. A wife was begging her husband to take her to her High School reunion of 25 years. Reluctantly, he finally gave in to the idea that he also knew was going to be a bust for him. After meeting a few of her friends and former classmates, he just sat at the table yawning, alone and bored to death. Pretty soon the band hired for the evening cranks up and a few persons are beginning to dance. But there is this one character that is on the dance floor just living it up large, break dancing, moon dancing, back flips…the works. Soon his wife returns to their table, sits beside her husband, leans over and says, “See that awesome ‘life of the party’ guy up there?” “Well, 25 years ago he proposed to me and I turned him down.” Abruptly her husband turns to her and quips, “Looks like he’s still celebrating!images-8

Funny? Yes, but cutting. How often have you used humor to bring some kind of indirect and at times hurtful message to your spouse? I have been guilty of it I’m sorry to say. When you make fun of or put down your spouse, you are making fun of and putting yourself down. You are one. There are plenty of hurts already coming from relatives, the work place and others. You and I do not need to “pile on.” Cutting remarks do not change anyone, they are embarrassing, belittling and are words of death. Jesus said it this way, “The Spirit gives life…the words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” Speak words of life today to your spouse, to your children, to your co-workers and to your neighbors.

Encouragement, Mission Report

Our American Culture has an Infatuation with Self-care

How many self-help books would you say are on the market at any given time? Department stores cry out to the new image found as the latest fashion is purchased. One local insurance company in my community has a tag line that reads, “It’s all about you, you, you.” Self-care topics on health, personal happiness, self-fulfillment and self-actualization in the United States must be at an all time high. We can get lost in our television and see ourselves dancing with the stars or one of America’s talents. Culturally somehow we are so easily obsessed with ourselves. In all this our Lord said that the greatest commands ever were to love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

I just returned from a developing nation where simply surviving is a daily task. People asked me for money while others wanted to do a small job so that I would pay them. The end goal was to eat and somehow meet the needs of life for today. School, jobs, health care, books, a computer all out of reach for many of these persons. Once again, I was reminded to my very core that life is not just about me. I felt so selfish and self-protective at times. I felt anger that I lacked compassion at other times. I was concerned about the loss of water and the inconvenience of no electrical serviceimages-6. I once actually found myself thinking about how far behind I will be with email once I return home.  Really, Steve?

We [I] have got to stop making ourselves [me] the center of attention. We show love for God by loving others. In the parable of the Great Banquet Jesus said to go find and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Who are you called to love today?

Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital

The Ultimate Compliment, but the Scariest One

images-10I was listening to a wife complain about her husband’s lack of attention toward her with him sitting right there in front of us. It was a bit awkward, but not nearly as awkward as the next emotionally charged sentence she blurted out, which went something like this: “Why can’t you be more like Steve in this area?” Her husband’s response was to then give me this forlorn look, while his eyes searched for the correct answer from his memory bank. He sheepishly spoke, “Yea, she often says to me, ‘what would Steve do in this situation?”’ I was floored, embarrassed and wanted to be anywhere but there. While I know it was in some weird way a compliment, it felt so… I don’t know…comparing, negative and unhealthy? I sat there speechless at first, feeling his pain. He was being compared with someone who he is not, is never going to be and is not created to be.Roter und Grüner Apfel

Finally gathering myself, I turned and looked at her and spoke forthrightly. I began, “Your husband is not me and should never be expected to be me. While we each have traits that reveal Jesus in us, it is Him that we are to emulate. Your husband will not change by you comparing him to another man, in fact, it only serves to humiliate him and that is not a godly trait. Please do not use my name in that way as I am a very imperfect man and I will fail you.”

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. (Proverbs 27: 21)


Dirt Bikes and a Promised Resurrection

images-4 I first met Wade in a feed mill in the 1970’s. I was purchasing animal feed for the small farm our ministry operated. His smile was contagious and his eyes were the brightest blue I had ever seen. As we talked, we discovered that we had two things in common: Jesus and dirt bikes. He was recently married and had a baby girl on the way. Wade was a transplant to the Pennsylvania mountains as was I and we loved the area because it afforded hundreds of miles of trails to ride. Wade was an excellent rider and we continually stretched our skills by playing cat and mouse on tight trails motorcycles had no business riding fast on. We even entered a number of enduro races together.

images-5Regularly, when we stopped to take a break from riding and catch our breath, we would talk about Jesus and how He was changing our lives. Like riding fast in the woods, we also pushed one another in our faith. On one ride I noticed Wade started coughing and struggled to catch his breath. He passed it off as a cold. The coughing wouldn’t subside and he finally submitted to seeing a doctor and then to a specialist. Wade, a young man in his early thirties, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Regardless of treatment, Wade never improved but day by day became weaker and weaker. He no longer had the strength to ride his bike.

Wade wanted to hear his 400 cc two-stroke Husqvarna one more time. After several hard and painful kicks it roared to life and then for some unknown reason, the bike caught fire and burnt to the ground. Like the bike, Wade died soon thereafter. I still miss him – his laugh, his teasing me because he was a better rider than me, his love for the Bible and just talking about his Savior. Wade has been with Him in heaven for many years now. I can still remember one of the conversations we had sitting on a log along side a trail. Wade looked at me and asked, “Do you think the Lord has dirt bikes in heaven?” One day I will see Wade again and I will find out the answer to that question.  Jesus once said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies…”