Children, In the news, Parents, Issues of the Day, Men, Challenge, Women

A Goliath Has Fallen Friday, June 24, 2022

The Philistines had Goliath and the Israelites had David. Goliath, I Samuel 17 says, had a bronze helmet, a coat of arms, leg coverings, a bronze javelin on his back, a sword and an iron spear in his hand. He terrified the king of Israel, Saul. For forty days the Philistines taunted all of Israel.

Meanwhile back home, Jesse, David’s father, sends young David with some food for his warrior brothers. David tells king Saul that he will fight this giant. David then faces this towering man and says, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin…” David tells him that all he has are this world’s weaponry. And then David reveals to the giant Goliath and all of the Philistines what he has, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I’ll strike you down.” 

We now have behind us almost 50 years of the oppression of Roe vs. Wade. What happened? The U.S. Supreme Court took on the Dobbs vs. Jackson case from the state of Mississippi which would effectively end the constitutional right to abortion, the killing of a child in the womb of its mother. The Supreme Court made an error almost 50 years ago and it has now been corrected. 

Franklin Graham said, “This is one of the most significant rulings in my lifetime. It was egregiously wrong from the start.”

Samuel Rodrigues said, “The long, dark night officially comes to an end. The unconscionable injustice of extreme abortion policies is over.”

Dr. Ben Carson said, “Today the Supreme Court of the U.S. made a statement to the world that life matters.”

Dr. Alveda King expressed, “Roe is no more! We must see every human, born and pre-born, as created in the image…of God. As long as a baby can be killed in the womb there is no such thing as civil rights. Abortion is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question, the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule this decision and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

On January 22, 1988 then President Ronald Reagan spoke to the March for Life participants, “Our opponents tell us to not interfere with abortion. They tell us not to impose our morality on those who participate in the taking of the life of infants before birth. Yet no one calls it imposing morality to prohibit the taking of life after a child is born. We’re told about a woman’s right to control her own body. But doesn’t the unborn child have a higher right, and that is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

It is also Ronald Reagan who said, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

The evil one has had a long history of killing the firstborn of Israel. The spirit of abortion, that spirit of death, was activated a long time ago against mankind. Those who have fought for this day are cheering. But those who are fervently and violently bent on killing preborn children are going after the justices, church leaders, pro-life centers and anyone and anything else they can attack. 

Why would those who have been given life be so aggressively and brutally in opposition of mothers giving life to their children? Let’s consider another quote for the answer.

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” 

And even more deeply this same author said this in answer to the violence and result of abortion:

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign. It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” (Mother Teresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14) 

Now let us continue to support the pro-life centers near us, the confused mother who is carrying a child, the fostering and the adoption of these precious little ones. 

Thank you, Father, for the many who fought this good fight without ever giving up for the unborn. It was worth it. Just as freedom came to Israel because of David’s heroic actions, may freedom come to the unborn and those who carry them.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Women

Resistance in Marriage

Resistance is defined as the act of opposing another. There seems to be this trait of human nature that naturally opposes or pushes back when we interpret the environment to be in opposition of what we desire. Within relationships, resistance seems almost normal or inevitable. 

Can you recall the last time you were called upon to make a personal change in your life? It might have come from someone close to you like your spouse or your boss at work. Were you initially resistant to the request? Why or why not? Perhaps you knew they might be right, but yet you still may have resisted. Too often we have resisted change when it means we are the ones who are called upon to make that change. 

Carol Anderson in her book Mastering Resistance wrote, “Resistance to change in general and resistance to being influenced in particular always occurs when individuals, groups, and systems are required by circumstances to alter their established behaviors. Unless people are immediately persuaded by overwhelming evidence that a change in their behavior is necessary or beneficial…they will resist change in the status quo.” 

That means change for the good can be subject to resistance as well. And that’s how irrational resistance can be. What’s really at stake here is history. History may tell us that change is bad or that change represents someone trying to overpower or control us. How you interpret the change will affect how resistant you may or may not become. 

A healthy marriage is not threatened by leadership roles, power issues, or attempts to control. They do not need to fear change. They understand their particular role and are comfortable to play either leader or follower. Both husband and wife are called upon to be leaders in the home. We may have different roles but both are very important. 

It is not healthy to have one partner do all the initiating and all the decision-making and one partner simply tag along. It is not healthy for both partners to compete for the leadership roles or for both to become passive and no one lead.

When we identify the key roles of each spouse, find out who is better at an area and place them in that role, allowing trust to grow, we will see resistance dissipate. Sometimes we resist purely from our own insecurity. The more secure we become in our relationship and the roles we play within that relationship, the more trust can follow. As trust is built, there is a natural cause and effect–resistance decreases.

Some exercise questions you might consider answering with your mate.

  • How has marriage helped to identify resistance within me?
  • Presently, within what areas of marriage do I struggle with resistance?
  • How has your spouse been an example of being willing to change?
  • How have you been an example of being willing to change?
  • What steps can we take to battle resistance?
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Challenge, Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Happy 47th Anniversary to Us!

I love celebrating our anniversary. It means we’ve reached the milestone of another year. We’re still very much in love. We’re still committed to one another and we’re still having fun. We celebrate our 47th year of marriage this month!

Many couples have many ways of “making it” this far or perhaps they just don’t know another way to live. I’ve always thought that being in a chronically ill marriage would be worse than never being married at all. But that’s not our story. 

So, what are the things we can implement into our marriage to not only have it survive 47 years, but thrive throughout those 47 years? Allow me to share a few of those things.

  • Maintain a heart of love and dedication to one another.
  • Hold hands when you take a walk, when you pray at the meal table and when you pray together just before bedtime.
  • Continue to date.
  • Buy small gifts for one another.
  • Remember important dates through the sharing of greeting cards.
  • Purchase flowers for special occasions and for no occasion.
  • Write love notes or text messages or both often.
  • Maintain a spiritual component of prayer together as often as possible.
  • Don’t stop kissing.
  • Say “I love you” multiple times in a day.
  • Notice each other and while you’re noticing smile at your life mate.
  • Go to bed at the same time routinely.
  • Be affectionate.
  • Maintain your intimacy.
  • Compliment one another frequently.
  • Say “thank you” for the daily mundane things accomplished by your spouse.
  • Read a marriage book together to challenge your marriage.
  • See a respected counselor or pastoral couple who can encourage you to grow in your love relationship.
  • Go to a marriage seminar/retreat. 
  • Take a mini vacation for just the two of you.
  • Praise in public; construct in private.
  • Disagree agreeably and resolve issues promptly.
  • Never take your mate for granted and work at noticing the “little things.”
  • Have good will toward your mate at all times; think the best.
  • Take time to listen to each other and hear one another’s heart, not just words.
  • Serve in a mission bigger than yourselves, e.g., your local church, a missions project.
  • Don’t be legalistic; give grace to one another.
  • Keep communication lines open in order to always build trust.
  • Stop attempting to change your mate. That’s God’s job.
  • Keep your marriage a higher priority than the life issues you are dealing with.
  • Pursue personal growth. The healthier you are, the healthier your marriage will be.

And last: Apologize quickly by learning to say, “I am sorry; I was wrong; please forgive me.”

Marriage is a gift–treat it as one.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Women

Can Husbands Listen to Their Wives?

It’s an age-old question: can men tune into and really listen to their wives? We know there is a generally accepted answer to that question: no. But is that true? Do men listen differently than women? Do men practice looking like they’re not listening when they really are? Are men created with a filter that women simply do not have? Read on.

Men do listen to their wives, but there are some qualifications around the parameters of that answer. 

Some of those parameters might include, but are not limited to: are they interested in the conversation; have they been drawn into the conversation or forced; do they feel valued in the conversation; is there a solution that he can add; is there a purpose for this conversation that directly affects him; how long will this conversation take; and can the conversation actually arrive at a point? 

Quite honestly, I have found that men like to listen to other men more than to woman (again generally speaking). That may mean men will actually listen to the advice of a man than that of a woman. That does not mean he doesn’t value a woman’s input. But what that actually means is men’s brains seem wired to accommodate other men and their opinion before a female counterpart. Now, before you take that statement and run with it in a hundred different directions, let’s consider a man’s approach to another man.

Men generally will leave feelings out of the conversation. Men generally will speak in facts as they understand them and men generally will not converse just to converse. Men do not tend to have a need for all of the little details and men tend to use fewer words. As well, men tend to keep advice giving to a point of request only. In other words, men enjoy or embrace the communication style of other men rather than woman. It’s not an attack on a woman as much as it’s a preference of style.

With all of that said, men need women and their relational style of communicating. Men need to hear the feeling side of conversation and men need to allow woman the opportunity to share the details they feel effect the conversation. Men need to listen to women because women have this uncanny ability to pull truth from feelings and not just facts. Men need to learn to converse with just listening and not always listening to fix. Men need face-to-face conversations with the women in their life for a balance in receiving the feminine side of their Creator.

Yes, husbands can listen to their wives as wives keep these parameters in mind. So, ladies, stop trying to remake your husband into one of your girlfriends. He is not them; he’s different and he enjoys that difference. Perhaps let him know up front that you are looking for his advice or let him know you are not; you just want him to listen. He can do that, but he needs you to let him know what you’re looking for early in the conversation.

Men and women converse differently and we need what each one brings to the conversation. We need to learn to value each style and honor one another by practicing our listening skills. 

Here are some secrets to conversing with your husband:

  • Make an attempt to use fewer words.
  • Use a tone of voice that is inviting and engaging rather than commanding or directing.
  • Practice letting him know what you need or are looking for from the conversation before it starts.
  • Be sure there is sufficient time allotted for the conversation. If not, schedule it for another time.
  • Try to relate a few facts.
  • Study his language style and do your best to incorporate his style of communication. For example, quite often a builder uses building terms or a salesman uses sales terms. Learn those terms and incorporate them in your communication.
  • Share your feelings, but let him know that’s what you are doing. For example, you can say, “Just sharing a feeling here, but I think it’s significant to the point being made.”
  • Try to communicate the point of your conversation earlier in the discussion. For example, you could say, “There is a decision we need to make, but first it’s important to look at what is going to affect this decision.”
  • You can really draw him in with this conversation starter, “I need your input on ___________.” Then you could go on to discuss the issues. 
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Children, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Parents, Women

Moms Day

Mothers–we all had one and most of us cherish our good memories. We know that for nine months she carried us in her womb anticipating our arrival. We know we were loved, accepted and approved of by her. We know she wasn’t perfect, but she was the perfect mom for us. We are better persons because of our moms.

Many had mothers who prayed earnestly and endlessly for their sons and daughters. They never stopped being a biological or a spiritual mom to us. They knew when to speak and when to remain silent. They knew how to make sacrifices for us to have a better life than they had. Moms know things that no one else knows or understands about each one of us and, gratefully, most moms can keep a secret. 

So, on this Mother’s Day weekend, let’s celebrate our mothers and think about the reasons why our moms are so important in our lives.

If it wasn’t for your mother, you would not exist.

Our moms often knew how to say the right words at the right time.

Moms seem to understand our feelings.

Only a mother can affectionately kiss and hold an angry child.

Our mothers made huge sacrifices for their children.

Forgiveness and acceptance without judgement are at the forefront of mothering.

Moms sense trouble sooner than most and then swoop in to protect.

Mothers remind us of the good and downplay so much of the bad in life.

Mothers naturally teach mothering–it’s instinctual. 

Moms taught us the value of cleanliness, doing our homework and sending a thank-you note.

Mothers have a unique way of making us feel special.

Mothers know just the right gift to give.

What would you add to this list about your mom?

Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness. She watches over the ways of her household. Her sons and daughters arise in one accord to extol her virtues, and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms. So go ahead and give her the credit that is due, for she has become a radiant woman. (Proverbs 31:26, 27, 28, 31 TPT)

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Unknown author

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Challenge, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Women

How One Amazing Couple Found Their Mission

Auston and Ashton Samuelson lived in California in a city where there was a high concentration of homeless persons. God gripped their hearts in a distinctive way. They felt convicted to do something and began to work with their local Union Rescue Mission. 

The thought first came to Austin when he voiced to Ashton, “What if there was a restaurant that donated a meal for every meal purchased?” They concluded that someone should do just that.

Two years later, the Samuelsons began Tacos 4 Life, a restaurant that provides a meal to families in need for every taco purchased. Tacos 4 Life are now located in Arkansas, Texas and North Carolina with multiple locations. They have supplied more than 13.8 million meals for needy children and families. 

This is just one story of one couple finding their co-mission in marriage, something they were both passionate about, felt called to by God and then walked it out in a practical way. If you are married, what is your marriage mission? Every married couple needs to know why they are married. It’s a simple question, but sometimes a missing ingredient in marriage. 

Your marriage mission is the glue of why you are called together. Maybe it’s a business or a small group that you lead together. Maybe it’s serving at your local shelter or maybe it’s praying for your neighbors and inviting them to your home for hospitality. There can be multiple missions found within your marriage call. Those missions speak to purpose and answer the “why” of your commitment together.

You can start by writing down everything that you do, everything that you prioritize in your lives. Then include what would you like to do, what you dream about doing together. Write that down. Take those things and begin to create a marriage mission statement/paragraph for yourselves. You’ll be glad you did.

One couple we know placed their marriage mission statement on the mantle of their fireplace for all to see. It’s a daily reminder of why they are married–for them, for their children and for anyone who enters their home..

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Challenge, Children, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Parents, Women

Latrodectus Mactans (Black Widow)

There is a black lady wearing a red colored hourglass on her back. She’s experiencing her wedding night and her husband has displayed a bit of machoism while she dances for him. She longs for a family. So, when the lovemaking is complete between the two and she is convinced that she’s pregnant, she plunges a dagger of poison into her groom, only to then consume her husband’s body. 

Gross you say? Yes, but very real in the life of a female black widow spider. You now know why she’s called the black widow. That’s also a name we ascribe to women who kill their husbands. 

Were you aware that women are guilty of 41 percent of spousal homicides? That figure is far higher for women than men. The reasons are primarily related to some form of abuse. 

Female Black Widow

Further, the highest statistics of murder among teenage boys is when they end the life of their mother’s abuser, typically a live-in boyfriend. Abuse has devastating effects on the family, the community and the society. The cost of abuse with medical bills, trials, incarceration and family poverty will extend into the tens of thousands of dollars per family unit. 

But abuse costs far more than dollars. It causes emotional and spiritual damage. It damages marriages and the children with scars that can last a lifetime. Abuse can be blatant causing a black eye or broken ribs or it can be subtle, breaking the emotional fortitude and will of another. Abuse can occur when one withholds financial provision from another or when one constantly puts their spouse down with derogatory comments. 

Like the dance of the black widow spider, abuse waits to strike at the most vulnerable times. It can be a family’s best kept secret slowly drawing the life out of each and every member. It can cause family members to give up, become depressed or hopeless that life will ever change for them. 

Quite often, the sin of abuse follows to the third and fourth generation (Dueteronomy 5:9). It becomes a generational sin. The very thing a child hates his father for is the very thing he becomes and the cycle of abuse continues. Why? 

Here’s an answer: perhaps not the only one, but an accurate, vital one. Ephesians five reveals this answer when it states, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church…to present her…as radiant. In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

He who loves his wife, loves himself. How could one possibly abuse the one they are called to love as Christ loved? One answer: self-hate. Abusers hate themselves and out of that self-hate they hurt and abuse others. There is a way to end this cycle and that answer is found in the book of Galatians. 

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) Jesus took the curse of abuse on the cross and died to break its power and ability to follow in the family line. 

If you have never prayed this verse over yourself and broken off the curses from past generations, do so today. There is nothing more vital than the cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Experiencing a Lack of Sexual Intimacy in our Marriage

Sex is a gift given to marriage by God. We dream about it before marriage and fight off every urge during engagement. We can barely keep our hands off of each other. Saying “I do” should not disrupt this godly desire.

However, so many marriages are sexually starved today. And because sexuality is about intimacy, that also means, in many cases, intimacy is missing. 

Intimacy is about friendship, communication, laughter, emotional closeness and fun together. It’s about holding hands, saying “I love you” and still kissing one another goodnight. But when sexual intimacy leaves a marriage, so do many of the intimacies mentioned above.

Why? There are any number of reasons. Just to mention a few: business; anger; withholding love; not sharing deeply; criticism; control and others. One area that I have often heard in the counseling office is that the partner with the lower sex drive actually controls what happens or does not happen in the bedroom. 

Every day couples make decisions about finances, the children, their jobs, ministry, the bills, the house but they’re not discussing their sexual lives. It’s either controlled by one or somehow has become off limits and you know not to bring it up. Your sex lives as a married couple are not to be controlled by one of you–that’s unhealthy to any marriage. In fact, unilateral decisions of any kind can affect your marriage negatively.

When one partner has to lie in bed night after night dealing with rejection, the silent treatment or a nightly headache, that partner is also wondering what is wrong with them. They are wondering why their life mate is not attracted to them. The human soul needs to connect relationally and within marriage that same soul needs the sexual intimacy factor so there is not a repeated disconnect.

Too often in this area of marriage one partner is only thinking of themselves, their desires and their feelings. They’re thinking, “I’m not in the mood” or “Do I really want to take the time it takes?” or “I’d rather just go to sleep.” Have you stopped to think about your partner, their thoughts and their desires?

If one of you is being vulnerable enough to discuss these issues in marriage, it is time to listen. Do not become defensive or push them away. Be there for one another. Listen without defensiveness. Have it on your heart to serve one another. 

And here’s a secret. Even when it is inconvenient or you’re not in the mood, initiating lovemaking can take you there. And when you experience a wonderful time together you’ll be closer, talk more and experience more intimacy in every area of your relationship. 

This act of love given to us by our heavenly Father is a recipe for a closer, healthier, deeper appreciation that builds a greater desire to meet the needs of the one you are one with.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Insecurity, Issues of the Day, Leadership, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Women

Help! I’m Married to Someone Who is Opposite of Me!

Do you see yourself as different or opposite from your spouse? Welcome to everyone’s world!

Let me provide for you a window into our early marriage.

Steve, loved to go to bed late. Mary, loved to go to bed early.

Steve, loved to have a devotional time in the evening. Mary, loved to have a devotional time in the morning.

Steve’s into trying new things. Mary, sticking with what works.

Mary, no debt is good debt. Steve, good debt is investment.

Mary, loves to give. Steve, loves to save.

Steve, embracing change. Mary, change comes more slowly, purposefully.

Steve, face the conflict. Mary, conflict is to be avoided.

Mary, everyone is a friend. Steve, friends are selected through trust over time.

You get the picture; we’re different. But here’s the thing about that difference, neither way is necessarily wrong. What is wrong is when we attempt to change our spouse to be more like ourselves because we’re “right.”

Social scientists tell us it takes five to seven years for a marriage to “settle.” I would define settling as becoming mature enough to no longer try to change my spouse but rather to embrace them for who they are and for how God created them. 

You see, maturity helps us to understand we need that difference in our lives.  Yes, we fight and argue about it initially (immaturity), but when the revelation hits us, we soon discover that we are far more powerful, far more rounded, far more complete together than separate, embracing our differences. 

Too often the thought is, “We’re just too different to continue this marriage.” The fact is, God brings to you the person who is not like you so that you can grow and change and then discover how you are to love, respect and accept this person.

Unfortunately, too many persons, husbands and wives, think that power and control can force change for the better. Power and control will never provoke change for the right reasons because a spirit of power and control will also need the threat of negative consequences. The spouse who threatens causes more anger in the relationship.

Love and acceptance sees the difference as a good challenge. Then it sounds something like this: Mary is Steve and Steve is Mary because Steve and Mary need the differences the other brings to the relationship. 

This perspective will cause us to focus on the strengths in our spouse’s life rather than the weaknesses. This perspective will help us to walk in humility knowing we need what our spouse brings to the marriage. This perspective also helps us to not see our spouse as the one who holds us back but rather the one who provides the appropriate caution or pause. And this perspective is going to bring a healthy balance and sometimes compromise to who we are and to who we are becoming.

Today, almost 48 years later, things look a little different.

Steve likes to go to bed early and so does Mary.

Mary loves early morning devotions and so does Steve.

Steve and Mary embrace change together.

Mary’s love of giving has won over Steve.

Mary embraces investment even with some risk and Steve smiles.

Everyone loves Mary more than Steve because Mary is still everyone’s friend.

Steve is more selective about addressing conflict and Mary still dislikes it.

But the greatest of these is love.

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Challenge, Marriage, Men, Pornography, Postmarital, Women

God’s Creative Plan Vs. the Counterfeit

God’s plan has always been that sex remains within the boundaries of marriage. Many years ago, I heard someone say that God’s creative plan also has a counterfeit: sex before the commitment of marriage and no sex afterward. 

So, who actually enjoys the best sex and the most sexual frequency? There was an interesting book some years ago called, The Case for Marriage. The authors (Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher) stated, “Married people have both more and better sex than [sexually active] singles do. They not only have sex more often, but they enjoy it more, both physically and emotionally.”

If that’s true, why is it true? They state four reasons: proximity – a long-term contact with greater investment – exclusivity, a mutually agreeable sex life and emotional bonding – caring for one another outside the bedroom. I would add to that list: knowing each other – likes dislikes and how to serve one another in the bedroom along with the fact that it is the safest sex. Sexual encounters are dangerous encounters. They may be full of excitement initially, but they can be full of worry and anxiety thereafter.

What are some reasons as to why sexual intimacy is inhibited? Well, here are a few:

  • Over scheduling and self-depletion
  • Lack of communication
  • Selfishness, not serving one another
  • The lack of non-sexual touch
  • Pornography
  • Not planning intimacy
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unresolved conflict
  • Not connecting spiritually
  • Not respecting each other
  • Not maintaining your attractiveness
  • The lack of affirming and complementing each other
  • A history with “intimacy anorexia”*

What will actually build intimacy?

  • Praying together
  • Sharing the workload at home
  • Date nights
  • Weekends away
  • Reading helpful books
  • Seeking counsel
  • Nonsexual touch
  • Communicating the desire
  • Scheduling sex

Scheduling sex? Yep! We schedule every other life event; why not develop a schedule for intimacy? A schedule helps us to prepare mentally. It helps us to not have our intimacy stolen from us. It helps us to connect and to keep at bay those small arguments that can turn into something larger. Sex is a gift from our Creator and it’s given by Him only to the husband and wife to enjoy. 

*A term Dr. Doug Weiss coined. It is defined as the active withholding of intimacy to one’s spouse.

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