Series 38


The Simple, Easy Great-Marriage Plan

“You have a great marriage,” Richie said.

Richie, fourteen, has visited our home many times. There are few compliments which could top his words. And it’s true.  Now if I was going to tell Richie our simple, easy great-marriage plan, this is what I would say.

For the simple part; “Do what the Bible says.” For the easy part: “Easy doesn’t exist.” However, marriage is much smoother and fulfilling when you do what the Bible says.

Here’s a Bible verse which consistently draws me when I reflect on the husband’s role in a marriage.

Ephesians 5:25 says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Jesus died for the church—His ultimate expression of love. The application for us husbands is simply not getting our own way. Rather than taking a stand on the numerous life-decisions which fall in the category of personal choice and opinion, graciously let the final say go to your wife.

Example: What color do we paint the bedroom? Seems almost silly, yet many marriages begin their initial unraveling based on disagreements at this level of importance.

A husband must evaluate his response to these basic choices. Will you negotiate for your opinion to reign? Or will killing this desire, be your expression of love?

Additionally, we need to speak less and pray more. This can feel like dying when the men-can-fix-anything part of us feels compelled to offer a solution regarding changes we perceive our wives needs to make. Pray more; speak less.

When it seems like you are giving too much and not getting enough, reflect on the great discrepancy between what Jesus gave on the cross compared to what you can offer Him. And then let a renewed level of grace flow toward your wife.


I Disappeared

I stood right in front of Troy. We had started to engage in a conversation. Then I disappeared.

Not literally. But Troy was so engulfed in the piece of paper taped on the wall eighteen inches over my right shoulder; it was as if I didn’t exist. On it Romans 8:38-39 was printed.

I didn’t immediately realize it but, these Scriptures were piercing his heart. The Bible verse reads: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Glancing back at the paper, I instantly understood why I had disappeared. Turning toward Troy, I said, “It’s true.”

Troy’s brain flicked back to the voice in front of him. He responded: “I needed that.”

He needed a fresh reminder of God’s unending love. Alcohol, drugs, unemployment, and despair were weighing on him. Sin and hopelessness were blinding him to God’s goodness.

At times this inner turmoil grips each one of us. Including the Apostle Paul...“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want...wretched man that I am!”

But even after declaring himself wretched, Paul had the same I-needed-that flash of revelation:  “Nothing can separate me from God’s love. Nothing.”

Smiling, Troy left with his message from God. No more words were spoken. None were needed.

Silently praising God, in awe, I had seen His Word at work. And then my own heart received a message. An Old Testament verse: “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”


Completing Your Doctor of Theology Degree

Chuck hasn’t qualified for a Doctor of Theology Degree yet. Actually, he’s never taken any courses. But the other day he passed one of the most important and one of the most difficult tests there is to pass. One I’ve failed way too many times.

And you? How many times have you failed this one?

Chuck was visiting Steve. Ticked-off at a mutual friend, he was ready to tell Chuck the whole story in detail. Well…his side of it. Not more than a couple words left Steve’s mouth and Chuck got an A+.

He raised his hand, inches from Steve’s face, saying: “I don’t want to hear it.”

Chuck knew the words of Jesus: “Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go tell him his fault—between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” Steve was attempting to do the exact opposite, while Chuck demonstrated his stubborn refusal to join in.

Following this Bible verse results in: “You have gained…”

And then, there is the disastrous flipside: “You have lost.”  For those who ignore this Scripture’s command.

So what is lost? First, the battle against sin is lost. When we start talking about an issue we have with someone else before we have tried to resolve it one-on-one, we are sinning. Consequently, sin multiplies. And because human to human relationships are one of the cornerstones of  life on Earth, there is no aspect of our lives which is not vulnerable to loss. 

Yes, sometimes it feels impossible to stifle the urge to vent. Thankfully, Jesus gives us the solution: “Pray for those who spitefully use you.”

We have two God honoring options. Talk to the person privately. Talk to God--privately. A combination works the best.

God first.


Your Dream Retirement

 “I’m retired,” Joe said, “Now I’ve got to figure what to do with the rest of my life.” Joe’s sixty-two. Retired—but now he needs some life-direction to fill a couple of decades.

What does the Bible say regarding retirement?

A single verse references “retire” in the same context. “The LORD said to Moses: This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work…but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service.”

Does this mean the easy life should start at age fifty? 

The verse continues: “They may assist their brothers in performing their duties.”  Endlessly maneuvering large carcasses up a ramp to be sacrificed on the altar plus stoking this massive altar fire was an extremely physical job. The “retire” mandate shifted an older Levite into a less strenuous job. Even, Moses worked until just before he died—at age one-hundred and twenty.

This is what I advised Joe: “You’ve got to find something big to bite off.” Go for a big challenge.

Here’s one.

Does this verse sound like our society? “Justice is driven back and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets. Honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased…He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene.”

Choose to intervene. Step in. Go to work. The opportunities are endless.

You may lack a young man’s stamina. Do as God told Gideon: “Go in the strength you have.” And hear these words from Acts: “In the last days, God says…your old men will dream dreams.”

So dream big. Don’t just fill your last days.  Fullfill your God-given big dreams.

What Door Are You Opening?

Eddie thought his decision to skip church on Sunday would be uneventful. He never envisioned he was opening the door to three years in prison.

Months before, while visiting jail, I met Eddie. His crimes were significant enough to receive prison time.

But his trial went well and within a few months he was a free man. And during his stay he made a decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ. When released, he immediately got involved in church. Eddie’s life was on the upswing in all areas.

So taking a Sunday off seemed harmless. A stroll around the neighborhood on this pleasant day would be enjoyable.

But then he ran into an old “friend.” Or maybe more appropriately, a drug dealer sent from the devil. Eddie succumbed to temptation.  He figured he could handle taking crack cocaine just one more time.

A lie from the devil. And Eddie agreed with him.

Once turned into twice. Twice into a habit. And the habit into a crime spree for drug money. Within three months he was in prison.

Eddie’s life started to implode all because of one decision. Eddie opened one door, one Sunday morning. 1Peter 5:8 says: “Be watchful and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Be watchful. We need to continually ask ourselves: “What door am I opening?”

Be alert. Small decisions or seemingly small ones can easily stack up to becom the main direction of our life—the person we are.

Our enemy. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to destroy. His sights are set on you.

The opening of the next verse, 1 Peter 5:9, offers our clear plan to success: “Resist him. Stand firm in the faith.”