Tag Archives: marriage

Practicing Perspective

What’s the difference between a happy person and a miserable one?

Have you ever noticed some people are always happy? They seem to find the best possible outcome of every situation. When you speak to them, you leave feeling better about yourself and the world around you.

Then there are also people who are always down. Talking with them sucks the life out of you. Nothing seems to go right for them. The world is out to get them.

What’s the difference?

Perspective.

There are people all over the world who scrape by to make ends meet. They aren’t sure where their next meal is going to come from, yet they share with others. They laugh heartily. They sing and smile. They have joy. For many people, to be in such dire circumstances would be more than they could bear, yet for these people, what they do not have is insignificant to what they do.

They have a different perspective on life.

Tragedy seems to come in threes. It may present with more or fewer troubling circumstances, but three seems to be the common, magic number. When problems begin to stack on one another, it is harder to breathe. It’s like stones are being stacked on our chest, and all we can think about are those stones crushing and suffocating the life out of us. We are absolutely sure the stones will kill us. But they don’t. They haven’t yet. And they don’t have to in the future.

Nothing is permanent in this life. Things are temporal. Pleasure is temporal. Life is temporal. Even your personality can be changed (and likely has already). Change is the only constant in this life.

That should bring hope to everyone. The storm you’re in is temporary.

What we tend to do, however, is focus on our storms.

When you’re dealing with tragedy in your life, all you can concentrate on is the tragedy. You eat, sleep, and breathe this tragedy, and when you do, it crushes you. Those who have that contagious joy don’t have fewer tragedies; they simply see through the tragedy to hope.

When you’re in a relationship that is struggling, it is easy to see all the negative in the relationship, and especially in the other person. So how do people find joy in relationships? Are they somehow blessed with fewer struggles? NO! They choose to see the good in the relationship and the other person in spite of the current struggle. When that happens, they resolve conflict more quickly and feel happier in the relationship.

So how do we gain this new perspective that breathes life?

1. We remember that this life is fleeting, and we have been given hope of resurrection, forgiveness, and inheritance through Jesus Christ. If you’ve been saved in Jesus, you have this hope. It needs to drive your life. This life and its troubles is not all there is. And Jesus promised to be with us, so we are never alone in our troubles.

2. We look for the good going on around us and in other people even in the storm. This will take practice. We, in our consumeristic, selfish culture, are used to seeing the problems more than the solutions in ourselves, others, and the situations we find ourselves in. It is discipleship to hope for good through love (1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 2:14).

3. Once we find the good (in self, others, situations, etc.), we focus on that. Satan will try to tempt us back into focusing on the negative and being consumed by darkness, but we don’t have to give in. When we focus on the good in our spouses, we fight less. When we focus on the good in even the worst situation, we find hope faster. When we focus on the good in us, we fight depression.

These steps aren’t easy, but they’re necessary. They take practice, especially if you’re used to seeing the negative. May we all find perspective that breathes joy in this world in spite of this world.

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Just for Men…ok, Women too


For nearly two thousand years, the church has struggled with the hierarchy of leadership. Bishops, priests, deacons, elders, pastors, preachers, cardinals (birds?), etc. We have worship leaders and prayer leaders and ministry leaders and youth leaders. Now there are arguments as to whether women can be leaders in these and other roles. I think we argue about  leadership roles because we have forgotten what true leadership looks like. 

Husbands, you are the head of your household, physically and spiritually. The scriptures say so. So you get to have your way, right? 

If your marriage is struggling, may I suggest it is because you have held a more worldly view of your headship in the home than a biblical view. 

The world says the head is in charge. That’s where the brains are. That’s where the mouthpiece is, and the rest of the body sustains the head. In families, men act like kings and unintentionally trample those they claim to love by their exercise of authority. 

Jesus is the head of the church. How does he lead? He sacrificed himself and daily intercedes for us.  

When you read of a husband’s leadership in Ephesians 5, you read terms like these:

  • Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
  • Gave himself up for her
  • Sanctify her
  • Love her as your own body
  • Nourish and cherish her
  • Love her

Where’s the authoritarian attitude in this passage? It is non-existent. A godly husband is a voluntary servant for his family – loving them by sacrificing himself for them daily. 

Does this look like your experience as husband? What woman wouldn’t want a husband like this? 

In the church we encourage the men to take leadership roles, but those don’t look much different. A leader is a servant. He is not someone who is exercising his authority to get his way. He is sacrificing time and effort and even finances for the good of the church, the bride of Christ. 

Oh, and he’s not doing it for the praise of others. If that were the case, he would receive no reward from the Father. 

If the church functioned with the servant-mind of Christ, there wouldn’t be so many arguments about who can do what. We wouldn’t consider someone of higher prestige because of their particular title. We would encourage all to serve and be grateful for their service. 

If husbands functioned with the servant-mind of Christ, there wouldn’t be divorce. If you were serving, cherishing, loving, praying for, and nourishing your wife, she would be with you forever. If wives functioned with the servant-mind of Christ, there wouldn’t be so much resentment against husbands. 

Face it. No one deserves to be served by you. No one deserves your love and gifts of time and effort. But you don’t deserve that from Christ either, and he gladly, willingly, gave everything for you. So do likewise. 

“Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” -Jesus (John 13:12-15)

Lead by serving like Jesus, and watch the people around you blossom. 


Thank God for the Rain

  So much of the outcome of our daily lives is determined by our perspective. 

When Jody and I were getting married we had a beautiful service planned. We had picked out a great spot in a park with a huge gazebo.  We got chairs and decorations for everyone to sit on the grass out front while Jody and I, the minister, and the bridal party stood in the gazebo. This set up would allow for us to have a sound system so that I could sing while Jody was being escorted down the aisle. It was a picture-perfect plan. 

Then it rained. 

It didn’t just rain a little. We had been in a drought that year, and it was like God was saving all the rain for our wedding day. I kept thinking about that line in an Alanis Morissette song, “it’s like raaaain on your wedding day”.

We were going to take pictures before the wedding after a private moment between Jody and me, but instead of taking our pictures on a sunny day in a beautiful park with a gorgeous gazebo, we took pictures in the hotel lobby. Jody and I were already planning on being barefoot, but now the whole female side of the wedding party was going to have to go shoeless. I drove to every store I could think of to find umbrellas for the wedding party that would match the girls’ dresses (which I miraculously found). 

When the time came for the wedding the guests had to stand in the gazebo. With us. Crowded together in an intimate ceremony. Instead of singing while Jody was escorted down the aisle, I had to wait until we were face to face and sing.  The bridal party even had to jump a small, newly formed creek just to get to the gazebo. 

When the minister began to speak he said something I’ll never forget. “In Africa, rain is always a blessing.” 

Jody and I still think it was the most beautiful wedding we could have had. We love the rain. 

Lately it’s been raining. A lot. Since we live in the desert we are overjoyed at the rain, but it doesn’t bring joy for all people. Some people can’t stand the rain. Some people get depressed when it rains. Some people get frustrated that their plans have to change when it rains. 

It’s all a matter of perspective. 

In Jesus we are called to have a perspective shift. When the storms of life rage around us we have the Holy Spirit living inside us as a guide through the storm. When we’ve created the storm we have a God who loves us and has promised to turn everything for our good because we love Him. 

He has not promised to take away the storms, but He wants to help us have a more positive perspective within them. Remember, God invented rainbows, but you don’t get those without first enduring the rain. 


Jesus Loves Heterosexuals…and Homosexuals Too!

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Society is obsessed with homosexuality. Christian churches are as obsessed or more so because of their aversion to this lifestyle and the need to eradicate it because of how it goes against the nature of humanity and the sacredness of creation. Christians are afraid that our world will go the way of Sodom and Gomorrah, and they may be correct.

The bible is very clear that homosexual acts are wrong. It calls these acts “Unnatural” and condemns them in several places throughout the scriptures. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think committing homosexual acts is correct, but I’m pretty sure we’re missing something significant.

In our battle against the homosexual society in the world today we have forgotten that practicing homosexual acts isn’t the only sin in the bible. Equally as abhorring to God are heterosexual acts committed outside the marriage of one man to one woman. Adultery is condemned. Divorce is condemned because it leads to adultery and breaks a sacred covenant symbolic of God’s relationship with his church. Lust is condemned as much as acting on that lust is condemned.

In fact, these sins all seem to hold greater weight in the scripture than other sins like lying and even murder. The apostle, Paul, put it this way:

“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”–but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Homosexual acts, heterosexual acts outside of marriage, adultery, lust – all of these are grouped under one descriptive category: sexual immorality.

Why should we focus on one act like homosexuality and neglect the severity of the others? We shouldn’t! Yet Christians all over are talking about homosexuality, but when was the last time you saw as much zeal for condemning adultery or shacking up or lust or sleeping around or divorce?

Let’s be consistent. God doesn’t just condemn homosexual acts, He condemns heterosexual acts outside of the marriage covenant as well. If we give others participating in heterosexual acts grace, then we need to give grace to those in homosexual relationships as well. We are not called to approve of any of these acts, but we are called to love everyone – even those committing these sins.

“The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” Your sins are just as worthy of that death as those sins you condemn in others. I remember that Jesus seemed more concerned that we get the plank out of our own eye than our ability to point out the faults in others.

Maybe, instead of focusing on condemning those we do not approve of, we should focus on loving them and loving the Father who created them like Jesus tells us to do. Loving someone doesn’t mean you approve of their actions, it just means that you recognize that Jesus loves you in spite of your actions, and you can love likewise.

So let’s be consistent. If you’re not talking about heterosexual sins, then you shouldn’t be talking about homosexual sins. If you aren’t focused on fixing your own sins, then you shouldn’t be worried about those sins others are committing.

The consistency Jesus asks us for is that of loving everyone equally: Jew, gentile, slave, free, man, woman, heterosexual, homosexual. If you ever want someone to hear about the love of Jesus you have to be showing Jesus to them through love first. Condemnation breeds rejection. “Love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).”


The Secret to all Relationships is no Secret

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I want you to think of someone you know. This is a person you really love deeply. It may be a spouse or child or long-time friend. Why do you love them? You share so much with one another. Sure, they make mistakes, but you overlook those because of all the positive you see in that person. You love them because they continually live up to your expectations, or even better, you have no expectations of them at all – you just love them for who they are.

Now I want you to think of someone you can’t stand and you don’t love. Why don’t you love them? Do they not share the same vision for life as you? Do they continually make mistakes that you think are so simple to avoid? Do they not live up to your expectations? Do they offend you or do things that hurt you? Do they hurt the ones you love?

Both kinds of people are very real in your life. Each of us have friends, children, relatives, coworkers, and even spouses that fit into one of the two categories. Either we love them unconditionally, or we don’t.

Our world paints such a skewed vision of love. It is destroying our relationships every day. This kind of love is based on self-gratification. If you love someone just because they are good to you, or you hate someone because they are bad to you, both reactions are selfish in nature and therefore neither will lead to love. 1 Corinthians 13, when defining love, says it is not self-seeking.

Not every relationship will be awesome. You will have coworkers you will have to put up with, but you are called to love them anyway. Your children may reject you, but for most parents there is not even a question as to whether or not you love them. You have acquaintances you can’t avoid because they are friends of your friends, but not avoiding them is not edge same as loving them.

Marriages today are the most susceptible to demise based on this non-love that is being taught. We are constantly shown images of fairy-tale like relationships where both parties are blissfully happy forever. Not all marriages will be like this, and you need to know that it is ok. Your marriage doesn’t have to have all the movie-like bliss, but it does have to have love.

Love overlooks the bad. Love doesn’t get angry easily. Love doesn’t hold a grudge. Love doesn’t seek self first. (See 1 Corinthians 13 again)

How are you treating those you don’t like? Are you thinking about those definitions of love? Are you loving them unconditionally?

Jesus loves us in just that way. The bible says that while we were still enemies of God Jesus loved us so much that he died for us (Romans 5:6-11). Did you get that? We were the people who were unloveable, and for the most part we still are! We still sin and do what is against God’s will for us daily. We still don’t love those who are God’s children.

We don’t deserve the love God gives to us, but He loves us anyway. He asks us to love one another in that same way.

Imagine what it would be like to love like that. Imagine loving your coworker despite his annoying and offending personality. Imagine loving that homeless person even before you get to know them. Imagine loving your spouse despite all their countless flaws.

Oh, and loving them doesn’t mean just putting up with them. Loving them is serving them and doing what’s best for them and speaking health and beauty into their lives.

When we love like this then the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). Then the world will want to know more about the love we’ve been shown. As long as we pick and choose who we love and let our emotions drive our decision (or indecision) to love, then we have no witness in this world for that is not how God treats us daily. He always loves us no matter who we are or what we’ve done, and He proved it by the cross.

Who do you need to love? Is it a spouse or coworker or neighbor? Will you join with me in choosing to love them in spite of them? That’s what God wants – love for love’s sake – not for our sake.


It’s Mine! You can’t have it!

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Grace. Christians talk about it a lot, but what is it? It is NOT simply a prayer. Though a prayer can be said with grace. It is not flawless elegance. It is not even that lady that died 30 years ago in “Christmas Vacation”. So what is grace?

Grace is one of the most beloved concepts in all of Christianity because it truly is what we all want. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

It is not getting something worse than we deserve. We wouldn’t use the term “grace” to refer to the times when we got in trouble for something we didn’t do. No, grace is getting something better than we deserve.

Imagine you were driving down the highway – speeding – and got pulled over by a highway patrol officer. What you deserve is a ticket. Grace is like that officer coming to your window and handing you a $100 bill and wishing you a nice day. You deserved punishment but got a gift instead.

We love this because this is the central idea behind the death and resurrection of Jesus. We deserve death because of our sins (Romans 6:23), but instead of death, we not only get forgiveness, but we get righteousness and life in the presence of God forever. We deserve death, but we get life. We deserve prison, but we get freedom. That is grace.

Wouldn’t you want that? Have you received that? It is exactly what Jesus offers.

When you become a Christian – putting off the old self by connecting with Jesus in his death and resurrection through baptism – you receive the grace of God. That grace is never ending. Even when you sin in the future you will still receive grace and forgiveness.

We all want to receive grace, and we praise God for the grace we have received, but do we give it like we’ve received it?

The last time you went to a sit-down restaurant how did the waiter or waitress do? Did you pay him or her what they deserved or did you give them grace?

When someone asked you for assistance on the street corner, did you drive on by or give them grace?

When your husband or wife made you angry did you lash out or love them anyway showing them grace?

We are called to love God and love others. God loves us by giving us grace. Should we give any less to those around us?

“But you don’t understand. They’re so annoying! They keep doing the same stupid thing over and over again. Surely I am justified in my frustration with them. Surely I don’t have to always treat them that way. Shouldn’t I be treated well?”

I have to wonder if God feels the same way about us when we continually sin against him and against others. Yet, he still gives us grace. He still loves us immeasurably. His love never fails. He never gives up on us.

So I challenge you. Love others like God loves you. Don’t keep all the grace for yourself. Give them grace. Be like Jesus. Even when they were crucifying Him He prayed for their forgiveness. May your attitude be the same as His.


Better Never Than Late

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I’d like to take some time and tell you a little about my parents. They have been married for 37 years and are still going strong. I’m very proud of them for that, but it’s really not something special for them. You see, they have a bit of a different perspective on life.

They aren’t quitters. Actually, I think it’s deeper than that they aren’t quitters. They do everything to the best of their ability. It’s a part of who they are. If you know my parents you know how dependable they are. I used to get frustrated because my mom would volunteer to do all sorts of things, but now that I am older I realize that she did it because she loves other people and wants to glorify God with her life.

If you ask my dad to do a job I can personally guarantee you that the job will be done to perfection if absolutely possible. The same goes with my mom. She doesn’t just do things to get by, she goes all out so that whatever she does is excellent. If either of them say they’ll do something or be somewhere, then unless there is an emergency they can’t avoid, you can count with assurance that they will follow through.

They won’t even be late. My mom used to say “better never than late”. If I ever came in late without calling I was in deep trouble.

They don’t do this for the accolades. Sure, people thank them, but that is not their purpose. They do this because that is who they are. It glorifies God for them to live like this. I’m proud of my parents, and I’m proud to be their son.

There is a famine of this kind of character in our world today. It is not uncommon today for people to sign up for a task and then fail to follow through. It is common for people to say they’ll be somewhere and never show up. They’ll even go so far as to avoid texts and calls to keep from having to lie about why they didn’t show. I’ve baptized so many people who never came back to church or even showed Christianity by their lives yet claim constantly that they are Christians. People all over the place claim one thing and live another. It is hypocrisy and deception.

The strange thing is some of these very people will turn around and say that they don’t like church because of all the hypocrites there.

It’s time to stop. When you became a Christian, you confessed that you wanted to make Jesus The Lord of your life. If you didn’t make that confession, then you aren’t a Christian. That’s what being a Christian is – being a Christ-follower – one who allows Jesus to make the character calls in your life. He is Lord. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 7:21)”

Jesus wasn’t flaky. He didn’t lie to people and let them down. He didn’t avoid people to keep from having to make excuses for them. He wasn’t wishy-washy in His dedication to make sure you were saved from your sins.

I know this sounds pretty harsh. I guess the lie that did it for me was the countless Christians who said “I’ll see you at church” but continually never showed.

They aren’t letting me down. They weren’t holding me up. But it does hurt my heart for people to so blatantly lie about their Christianity. People constantly say they believe in Jesus. “Jesus is Lord.” But their lives show otherwise.

Your actions show your allegiance. If you are living a lie, then it is time to stop. Stop living a lie and start living for Jesus the way you claim. He forgives. He’s waiting to take you in, but as long as you allow the lies to flow freely – as long as you don’t allow Him to control your life then someone else is in control. Jesus said it like this, “You belong to your father, the devil, … When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)”

I know that’s hard to hear, but I’m hoping that if you see the severity of what you may think is “no big deal” you’ll begin to think differently. If this has been you, then there is forgiveness and grace in Jesus. Come back to him. Confess your sins. Repent and turn back to God. Then live with dedication remembering that everything you do should glorify God. Christians should outshine everyone in dependability and work ethic and trustworthiness because of their desire to glorify the Almighty with all they are.

Jesus still loves you. The church still needs you. It’s not too late to change.


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