Saturday, January 9, 2016

DAY 8 - MARRIAGE plus REST


A few years ago I worked in Denver, about 60 miles away. I coached high school basketball near my home, was raising 5 kids, had a wife who worked into the evening sometimes and fit in trips for ministry, a cruise, and sports leagues for each child. We had very busy church activities and friend activities as well. 

As we look back on those pictures, we say, holy cow, how did we fit so much into that year?

We did not rest. 


Since that year I have had to learn to rest, with 4 teens, jobs, ministry, travel and more. How in the world do I do that?

Learning to rest, for me, has been a huge, huge challenge. I don't really even like resting. However, once I changed the way I rested, it began to be real for me. 

We can rest, emotionally, physically, mentally and even spiritually. We can rest relationally and professionally also. 

I am challenged to look at the definitions below, process what I need to do to change my mind about rest and making rest a priority. I will share some of the things we did to acquire rest and create space to be rested. 


noun
1.
the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep:
a good night's rest.
(WE BOUGHT A NEW MATTRESS, SAVED OUR LIFE, GO SLEEP NUMBER)
2.
refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor:
to allow an hour for rest.
(WE GOT RID OF CABLE, READ BOOKS MORE AND CREATED SPACES TO SIT AND REST IN OUR HOUSE, I HAVE A RECLINER IN THE BEDROOM)
3.
relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.
(WE HAVE A LONG LIST OF PEOPLE AND THINGS WE DISTANCED OURSELVES FROM, NOT HARD WORK OR HARD PARTS OF LIFE, BUT THINGS AND PEOPLE THAT DISTURB OR TROUBLE US IN OUR SOUL AND SPIRIT)
4.
a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility:
to go away for a rest.
(WE BEGAN TAKING TRIPS OVERNIGHT IN DENVER, IN A HOTEL WITH AN INDOOR POOL, IT WAS SNOWING OUTSIDE, BUT FUN AND UNPLUGGED INSIDE. WE ALSO SEND SHANNA AWAY FOR TIME ALONE, AND I FOUND THE WONDERFUL EFFECT OF COFFEE SHOPS AND BOOKSTORES, WHERE I CAN SNEAK AWAY AND SIT ALONE. ONE OF MY FAV SPOTS IS THE LIBRARY IN WOODLAND PARK, WITH A VIEW OF THE NORTH SIDE OF PIKES PEAK)
5.
mental or spiritual calm; tranquility.
(SHANNA LIKES TO BE ALONE WITH NO ONE TALKING TO HER. SHE USES MY RECLINER, A GOOD BLANKET AND HER BIBLE/JOURNAL. WE MAY GO TO THE GYM AND PUT HEADPHONES IN AND BE ALONE, THERE IS A CALM IN MY SOUL WHEN I WALK INTO THE GYM AND FEEL THE HARD WOOD BENEATH MY FEET. I LOVE HIKING IN THE MOUNTAINS TO REMOTE LOCATIONS AND DRIVING THROUGH THE DIRT ROADS AMONG THE LARGE TREES AND BOULDERS, THIS ALL REFRESHES MY SOUL)
6.
the repose of death:
eternal rest.
(WE RELATE ETERNAL REST WITH ETERNAL SECURITY, TRUST, FOCUS AND INTERACTION. WE ARE SURE OUR ETERNAL SALVATION IS SECURE, WE KNOW DEATH WILL NOT MEAN HELL OR DAMNATION, IT WILL BE EXPLOSIVE AND NEVER ENDING JOY. TRUSTING GOD AND PUTTING OUR FOCUS ON ETERNAL THINGS HELPS US ACQUIRE REST, WALK IN A PATHWAY OF REST AND LEAVE WORLDLY PAIN BEHIND US, EVEN WHEN WE ARE LIVING RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. WE INTERACT WITH HEAVEN, WITH ETERNAL TRUTH AND POWER, THROUGH PRAYER, WORSHIP, MEDITATION, STUDY, CONFESSION AND FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHERS WHO HAVE ETERNITY IN THEIR HEARTS)
7.
cessation or absence of motion:
to bring a machine to rest.
(LIKE SAID BEFORE, WE JUST SIT, STOP AND SIT SOMETIMES. WE ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAINS FOR DAYS OF REST, TO JUST SIT AND REST. SOMETIMES WE WATCH A MOVIE, TAKE A NAP, READ, OR EVEN LOOK AT FACEBOOK. THESE THINGS ARE IN PLACE OF BUSY MOVEMENT AND MY TO DO LIST.)


LEARN TO REST


Thursday, January 7, 2016

DAY 6 - MARRIAGE plus STORY OF MARRIAGE (The Real Fight)








            The Real Fight

  

The Story of Marriage, for most of us, includes many challenges with each other,with  kids and others who we fight with. We cultivate anger, frustration, bitterness and disappointment. We fight. 

I think we were made for a fight. I think good and evil have always existed. Just about every movie, tv show, book or story has a good guy and bad. There are causes to fight for, and we love them. 

We have learned, however, how to fight with each other and have often forgotten our most important fight is NOT actually with the humans we do life with. Rather, our fight is with an invisible enemy of God and man. 


Ephesians 5 is a chapter of the New Testament that speaks to relationships. Verse one gives us a blueprint for great relationships.

-         Follow God’s Example
-         As dearly loved children
-         Walk in the way of love just as Christ loved us
-         And gave himself up for us, as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God

As we write our own Story of Marriage we must learn The Real Fight is with a spiritual enemy of God and us. Our fight is NOT with our spouse. It isn’t even with our selves or our family. Every problem with marriage begins with a problem between us and God or us and his enemy.

-         We don’t submit and serve God
-         We do submit to and serve the Enemy of God

Vs 1-20 of Ephesians gives us a very specific and empowering picture of what living in the blessing of God looks and feels like. It is not a list of rules, as much as a set of beliefs, practices and blessings, offered to the one who will submit and follow God and God alone.

As we turn from the vertical relationship with God, to the horizontal relationship with each other, the teaching from Ephesians speak to how a marriage should begin. It says.. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”.

-         First, have reverence for Christ
-         Second, submit to one another out of that reverence

By Ephesians 6:12 we are learning that we are in fact in a war, but a war against rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, not our spouse.

We are taught several things…
-         We are in a struggle
-         Not against flesh and blood (Genesis 2:23, “….bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, she will be called woman….)
-         Rather against levels of darkness that aim to steal, kill and destroy us, from the inside out.

In the coming months, through classes, small groups and other efforts we will teach, coach and encourage our church and city friends to learn to fight the proper fight. 

I am praying my friends and I can take these steps. 

-         Stop writing the Story of Struggle against your spouse, or family members
-         Begin writing a Story of Blessing to your flesh and blood and fight the real enemy in the real fight.
-         Submit to and Bless my spouse, Fight and Defeat the enemy. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

DAY 5 - MARRIAGE plus WEEK FROM HELL


  What do you do when you have one of "those weeks". Some people would say we had a "week from hell". I would say, I think much of the attacks we felt were from the powers of darkness, but I would not compare it to actual hell. 
Shanna and I were scheduled to speak on "The Story of Marriage" in church on Sunday. We had our kids home from college and lots of fun family stuff planned. We had days off work so we could rest. All this and more were important parts to our agenda for the week. 
Sickness, family issues, car issues (van is still stuck in the ice and dead), exhaustion, health insurance issues, more sickness and yes, even marriage issues (yes, even Shanna and I fight) made our holiday weeks very long and difficult. 
We also received several discouraging communications for important individuals over the holiday weeks but were ignored by others. Overall, we should say it was a pretty crappy holiday season. 
I'm not willing to do that, while accepting reality, and experiencing the full exhaustion of it all, I remember 2013 when I nearly died from a brain bleed. I remember being lonely and single with no family. I remember getting laid off from my favorite job. I remember church leaders dropping off and I remember going through 9/11. 

Our enemy last week was targeted and specific. Marriages and Families find it very difficult to withstand the attacks our evil without learning to walk in the Spirit of God, to be strong in the power of HIS might, and to not, I repeat, NOT fight against flesh and blood. 

After woman was made out of man, you know, in the garden. Man looked at her and said, "she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." He recognized she was part of him, one with him. When we fight with our spouse, we fight with ourselves. Our war is not against flesh and blood, especially the flesh and blood from our own family and home. 

Our family can be hurtful, crazy or just a little irritating at times. These can turn into whispers of prayer for them, of whispers of accusations from the enemy into our hearts. 

Our week from hell was proof. It was proof that we are doing some things correct, making an impact and making our spiritual enemies afraid. We will be shaken, we will stay moving forward and will stay committed. 

Story fighting with your spouse and kids over every little and big thing. Fight the right enemy and win. When we win, we get to be the winner and to receive more joy from our family instead of pain and strife. 

I'm so glad that week is over and so glad for the fun times we had with the kids. Next time, we hope to pass the test again, where we trust God, even in the hardest of moments. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

DAY 4 - MARRIAGE plus PLAYBOY





First Encounters
It was just after turning twelve years old. Dad was gone, I was digging through his bathroom cabinets. Not sure why. I found one. It was cliche, predictable even. While online porn had not yet made it's way into the common US household, magazines had. Playboy, Hustler and more, they were famous at this point, and every young boy acted like he had seen one, even if he had not. They were talking about them, talking about the women in them and talking about what they thought. Barely middle school and there it was, a thing, a part of culture, to be expected I guess.  

monroe

Lasting Impact: 
I actually didn't want to find it, I was not looking for it, but there it was, along with a stack of others. The impact was what we imagine, the beginning of a long struggle with attraction, secrecy, not so secret, shame and guilt. What was a commonplace cliche of "under the mattress" secrets became a spark, a spark that nearly ruined my life. 
Wrong Kind of Fame: 
Playboy was famous in middle school and high school. Not famous for its written content, as some have tried to declare. And, not famous for a certain face, name or personality. Rather, it was famous for being the not-so-hidden treasure under a father's mattress or sock drawer, just waiting to be found by the 12 year old son. What better marketing, no internet, no viral social media campaign, no cable show or shock radio commercial. Just the word of mouth fame of a hidden gem, waiting to be found in the average American home. And if my father failed to deliver, the neighbor or friend's home would not. Playboy became famous among the youngest male follower-ship in the history of nude entertainment. They were famous, with an army of evangelists ready and willing to convert others to their cause. Intentional strategy or not, it was a fact of life, they got free advertisement, worth millions, through the social network of middle schoolers. 


Stills vs. Vids: 
As the reports have shared, Playboy has moved away from nude ladies in their printed mags. No longer does a young boy stumble upon one or two magazines hidden in a home. Now, he can access thousands of pics and vids, some professional, many amateur, that easily compete with the limited inventory the chance encounters offered years ago. Now, videos rule the internet. Hollywood stars make sex videos that "leak" to the public. Those who would be models or actors, can take their clothes off for a day of sex and earn a sort of living. The very carefully taken and edited pics of the past have been replaces with live videos of every kind and... who can compete with that.  

Implications & Reality:
The reality is, playboy has a business to run. Online access, 24/7, of pics and vids, have allowed playboy to move from a limited amount of print subscribers to an unlimited amount of visitors to their online content, along with online subscribers who never run the risk of leaving a mag behind for the kids to find. All over the world, guys and ladies satisfy their lust for flesh by accessing the content Playboy puts out. The implications are not quantifiable at this point. happens to a third generation who have grown up with unhindered, un-monitored-and unlimited access to Playboy, via the internet? I'm not sure I want to see it, honestly. All I do is estimate and use my experience. With that, I would say the implications are exactly what we would guess, most every young person, before the end of middle school, with be exposed to pornography, like Playboy, online, possibly while using a mobile device or laptop provided by their parents. 

Not the Problem:
The playboy change has been a good news item. It has come and gone and is not being talked about anymore. One reason is, nude ladies in magazine is not issue. 

The Real Problem:
The reason playboy went away from print, is for one reason and one reason only, money. They can make more money distributing through the internet. They are not taking a step away from exploiting ladies and frankly, the men and boys who have developed a diet for their content. They are moving to a channel of distribution where they can spread their content wider and more effectively. 
THE REAL PROBLEM is the appetite of the consumers that become customers to Playboy. Over the years our hunger, urge and appetites for looking where we cannot touch have grown beyond our ability to even quantify. The vast amount of exploitation and so called "adult entertainment" weighs the internet down in ways no other content does. Should we have an appetite for sex and nudity, sure. Should it be shared with the entire world and made available on my cell phone any time of the day, no. I don't want it, I don't need it and frankly, it makes life very hard to raise kids, stay single minded and completely focused on your spouse or away from women/men who are not yours.

I am thankful that young boys will not find magazines under dads mattress anymore. But, now I pray that young boys not find dads phone, tablet, computer or cable tv. I pray that entire portions of the internet fail, if that is what it takes to protect our young people, friends and family from the lie of this world of entertainment. 

Thanks but no thanks to Playboy. 


Sunday, January 3, 2016

DAY 3 - MARRIAGE plus STORY OF MARRIAGE





The Story of Marriage

(Ephesians 5:21)

NIV “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”

MSG “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another”

AMP “….being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ”

Words to note: Submit, Reverence, Respect, Subject, One Another

The Story of Marriage is an amazing journey we all experience. We all have a mother and father and somehow the story of marriage has impacted our lives. If you are single, single again, married once, twice or three times. If you are in a blended home, broken home or no home at all, the Story of Marriage impacts you, each and every day.

(Genesis 1:26-28)

NIV "Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created THEM; male and female he created THEM. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it...."


God created marriage as the first official institution where he would dwell among his people, sharing himself and the entire world, without shame, pain, hate, anger, rage or loneliness. From the beginning of human history, even for those who don't believe in God and the Bible, marriage has been the fundamental and foundational building block of every sing society, period. If you believe in good and evil, you can also observe that evil and deception has attempted to penetrate the armor of this loving union called marriage. 

Now, in the year 2016, as an American society, we are not even sure we need marriage. Is that because it has worked remarkably, no, it's because marriage has been attacked over and over, until it has begun to fold under the pressure. God still uses marriage, invests in marriage and blesses marriage, but we need to restore our faith in what God and all of human history has proven to be the best and most fulfilling, and longest lasting, institution known to man. 

God provided a way for Adam and Even to be redeemed and continues to redeem us all, if we obey and walk in his love. He wants to restore the “blessing” upon our marriage and family. This is more than being happy or rich or comfortable. This is a restoration back to his original intention for the marriage relationship. Through this blessing of living in obedience, we can live in God's image, and enjoy great joy, communication, sex, intimacy, love, hope, laughter, trust and power. 

My Action Steps

Remember the words at the beginning of the post. 

Words to note: Submit, Reverence, Respect, Subject, One Another

The secret to learning the power of what God originally planned for married couples and families can be found in the practical application of these words. 

Motivated by a reverence for Christ, which means I must get my self right with Christ, we submit, respect and be subject to one another as an act of love. 

There is nothing like this experience, nothing. Nothing like walking with a spouse in the form of blessing this scripture speaks of, with two people willingly and joyfully subject themselves to the needs and passions of each other, out of love for Christ!!!




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