Praise in Public; Construct in Private

15 07 2019

Many years ago, a wiser, older, more mature couple taught us this phrase: praise in public; construct in private.  By that phrase they meant to always provide a word of praise for your mate when with your family, at your work place, with your friends or in any social setting.  They also encouraged us to never, ever put our mate down, shame them, humiliate them or correct them in a negative sense in public.  We took this counsel to heart and have adapted it for our marriage relationship.

 

When in public, it is difficult to be in a conversation with a person who frequently speaks negatively of their spouse.  It is embarrassing and it is often shamed-filled.  When a life mate feels the need to continually place their partner in a negative light, I question their own esteem.

 

Concerning praise, the writer of Proverbs puts it this way, “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.”  As married persons we are responsible to, called to, encouraged to speak praise of our life mate publicly.  If we do not have words of encouragement, then we should practice not speaking anything.

 

When we bless our spouse before others, we are blessing ourselves and when we speak negatively and put our spouse down, we are putting ourselves down.  How so?  When we marry, two have become one.  What affects one affects the other. Praise in public; construct in private.

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Stop Punishing Your Children; Rather, Correct Them

8 07 2019

Honestly, the most difficult times were when I had to enforce a boundary for my children as their father. Providing the appropriate discipline in the appropriate manner was often a challenge. Is there a difference between punishment and correction?

 

Punishment has to do with me preserving my right to be angry with my child and keeping my posture as the one in charge. It says that my child must pay for what he or she did wrong. Punishment is often done out of anger lacking any training toward change, put simply, a more powerful parent enforcing his or her will upon the weaker child. Punishment is more about inflicting shame and pain for wrongdoing.

 

Correction, on the other hand, is not just about reward and punishment; it is more about challenging actions and shaping a will in a life-giving method. It is training out of a spirit of love. It is more about guiding and forming the spirit of the child rather than reinforcing the will of the parent. It is less about anger and more about what’s best for the child.

 

Correction takes time to administer because it includes instruction toward a different and healthier future. Punishment on the other hand is normally abrupt, more about reaction and often with little thought. Proverbs 29: 15 says that the rod of correction imparts life – correction imparts life!  Job 5:17 tells us, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”

 

As parents, share the responsibility of correction and do not make one parent the mean one and one parent the nice one.  Switch it up so your children can identify your father and mother heart.





Dealing with Lechery in Marriage

24 06 2019

Perhaps lechery is a word you are not familiar with.  If you look into its meaning the dictionary states, “…unrestrained or excessive indulgence of sexual desire.”  I have come across this “desire” within some marriages.  Usually, it is the man who relentlessly pursues an inordinate desire for sexual relations, but this is not always the case.

Let’s be clear by stating that sexuality is something God has said “yes” to within the boundaries of marriage.  It is something we should “desire” and “indulge” in regularly, but who defines “regularly” for you and your life mate and who then defines “excessive?”

Well, you both do.  You find what works for you.  You find what you both can agree to and enjoy.  You find what honors, respects and blesses your spouse sexually and you purposefully and unselfishly pursue that.  You also find what might be the cause of “…unrestrained or excessive indulgence.” We need to discover what is at the core of our lives that promotes something which is bringing harm to our marriage bed. Why? Because God’s gift of sex is never forced or abusive to another.

Let me give you some harmful effects of sexuality that can make their way into marriage.*

 

  • Sex can be harmful if it is demeaning to another.
  • It is unhealthy if it makes another person feel less valuable or used.
  • It is unhealthy when it is purely selfish, used only for physical gratification.
  • It is unhealthy when it shames another.
  • It is damaging when forced or coerced and the law of “love does” not rule.
  • Sex is not healthy when used as a replacement for affection or tenderness.
  • Sex is unhealthy when it violates someone’s conscience.
  • Sex is unhealthy when pornography is involved in any form.

Sexuality within the confines of marital commitment actually increases the marital bond.  It fosters the growth of intimacy. It serves to reduce stress and anxiety by providing a special tone of togetherness and a release of tension.  It provides a private and intimate shared experience and a bond of emotional security.  It promotes a sense of well-being and happiness within the marriage and, of course, it is a gift given to us by our Creator to enjoy through many years of married life together.

(*Some of the above points are adapted from the book, The Sexual Man by Archibald Hart.)





Fathers, We Desperately Need Them

16 06 2019

I always loved being a father.  While not the easiest job in the world, it was my favorite and most rewarding. Having children to hold, train, read to, discipline, play with and love is a God-given honor.  And quite honestly, I made lots of mistakes as a father because there is no perfect earthly father.

 

On one occasion, I was agonizing over some wrong decisions made by one of my children and I asked God what I did wrong as a father.  I’ll never forget what I sensed from my heavenly Father as He then asked me, “And what did I do wrong as a Father?”  Wondering what this meant, I then heard, “My first two children rebelled (in a perfect world, I might add) and by the second generation committed murder.”  Oh, wow, I honestly had never thought of God’s Fathering in that way… a perfect Father who experienced some very imperfect and disobedient children.

 

If you’re a father, happy Father’s Day.  But if you’re a father who blames himself for your children’s wrong decisions, take responsibility if you must, ask forgiveness and move on. If your children made wrong decisions in spite of your wise counsel and love, then realize so did God’s first children.

 

Fathering is a call from God and it’s a higher priority than your job, your hobbies, your buddies, your house and mostly…yourself!  If you still have children in your home or grandchildren, you have a direct link to build the life of Christ in them (Colossians 1:28).  Be the type of father that represents Jesus well and determine to leave a legacy of love, acceptance and approval.





A Boring and Predictable Marriage

10 06 2019

Recently we took our five-year-old grandson with us for a weekend away.  It wasn’t uncommon for him to say, “I’m bored” or “This is boring.” I forgot how much entertainment a young child needs.  It makes me think about how boring and predictable our marriages can become.  So much of life is routine oriented, repeated each and every day like that old movie, Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.

 

Then again, I also realize some of us prefer routine, it’s comfortable and safe for us.  Still others desire a change of routine, something new and exciting.  All too often the one is married to the other and I think it could be a God-ordained union. Each marriage needs the stability of a routine and each marriage needs pushed toward something new and exciting.

 

Recently Mary and I celebrated 44 years of marriage.  Quite honestly, there have been those
“long, flat roads” as author Gray Thomas puts it.  But it takes those to appreciate the new and exciting times in marriage.  We did a cruise for the first-time last year; that was new and exciting.  This year we went to San Diego for a “just us” vacation.  That was awesome.

 

But you know what? Most everything in between those times was typical routine for us and we loved that too.  Perhaps the key is to recognize, be aware of our long, flat stretches and then introduce something new and exciting in between.





One of Our Greatest Returns from Marriage

3 06 2019

The Bible reveals, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” (Eccl. 4:9) My marriage has had multiple “good returns” and I am so thankful for them.  We’ve had the return of answered prayer together, the return of investment into the lives of others, the return of years of mission work, the return of children and grandchildren, etc.  God’s returns just keep on coming.

 

One of the greatest returns, however, is that since being married in 1975, we have never had to face the world we live in alone.  Since saying “I do” we’ve had one another by our side. It is an amazing and comforting feeling to know you have one another’s back and to know you will not give up on your mate.  It’s a bit inexplicable I suppose.

 

We all know there will come a day when one of you leaves this earth. Do not wait until then to appreciate, complement and work toward that better return.  Be the one who serves fully and completely by laying down your life for your spouse.  Be the one who does not give up, who continues to grow and change and be the one who allows the difficulties in life and marriage to become better versions of who each of you are becoming.





Help! I’ve Lost My Son!!

27 05 2019

“Ian, Ian, I’ve lost my son…his name is Ian!  Ian, Ian, where are you? Help me,”screamed the frantic mom pushing the empty stroller down the aisle of terminal A.  I had just arrived at my gate, returning home from being out of the country. This mom was hysterical and desperate.  She had one single focus…finding her lost son.  Everyone began standing, looking all around and wondering what they could do for this fear-filled young mother.  Those persons who are parents immediately felt her pain because most could empathize with exactly what she felt having more than likely a similar situation happen at one time or another.

 

Soon an announcement came across the P.A. system saying, “A little boy was found at gate 2C.  If you’re his parent, please return to gate 2C.” Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was relieved as she turned to head back to the gate.  We all felt her relief and our hearts returned to our chests.

 

I sat down and almost immediately received a very special picture in my spirit.  I saw our heavenly Father running frantically down the aisle, through the hall, in our schools, at our work places, down our street and in our homes calling our names, knowing we were lost.  Most of us didn’t realize our lost condition, but He did and He pursued us with everything He had.  In fact, He gave His Son, Jesus, to pursue us, to seek and search for each one of us. His love as a parent was and is reaching out to us, beckoning us to come follow Him and never be lost again.  Have you answered His call?

 

I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again.(Ezekiel 34:16 NLT)








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