A few weeks ago I gave a friend a ride to Rochester, which is about a three hour drive. No, acquaintance is more accurate, though I believe now we are friends.
See, there’s only a few things one can do when stuck in a car for a few hours with another individual. You can listen to the radio, talk, or sleep. If you know me at all my only option is to talk.
So talk we did.
It started with the small chit-chat, “How’s it going?” Blah. Blah. Blah. But before long we were sharing our history with each other.
My friend is a single guy, and I’m a fourteen-year marriage veteran with five kids (number six due in three months!). He started asking me how I liked marriage and family life. With each question he drew wisdom out of me like buckets of water from a well. I told an almost perfect stranger about past failures and victories few people know. Before long he was telling me his story and what God had done in his life to make him the man he is today.
It was powerful.
Do I think what I said will make a long-term difference in his life and how he someday treats his wife? I hope so. I hope he avoids some of the pitfalls I fell into and that he develops the type of relationship that love stories are written about. I may never know.
One thing I do know is that God accomplished something in us. This past Sunday Peter Hopper shared at our church about the power of our testimony. When we open our mouths to speak, not only is the other person strengthened but so are we. We are better men, better Christians today because of that talk. We shared our lives, our testimonies of how God has dealt kindly with us despite our transgressions and in doing so broke some of the lies of the devil in our lives–that we are alone and no one can understand our struggles or has overcome them.
And I know it can’t just be me. I believe there’s something deep inside us all that longs to be seen by others. To be known.
Sharing our story with others is part of that. Anyone can love the “good” us, the façade we put on display when we pretend that everything is OK and we are perfect (or at least better than “so and so”). One of love’s greatest powers is knowing the good and the bad about a person and still loving him despite his failures.
Answer that call deep inside you and share your story with someone today. Heck, share it here. Not only will it bring victory into your life, it will bring it to theirs as well.
Revelation 12:11 ” And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (ESV, emphasis added)
The Black Eyed Peas hit a home run with this one. Where is the love? The answer to that is that it starts with me. I say I have faith in Christ, and I am His disciple, but where is the love? Am I showing my family love? Am I showing my neighbor love? Am I showing my enemies love?
We need to remember that our battle is not against men, it is against principalities and powers of darkness. It is against the father of lies (Eph. 6:12). How can we love God, that we cannot see, if we cannot even love our brother, who we can see (1 John 4:20)?
Regardless of your destination in life, you encounter obstacles. In Obstacles Welcome, Ralph de la Vega chronicles his life from child immigrant from Cuba to President & CEO of AT&T Mobility. Ralph shares his inspiring story filled with adversity and the many lessons he has learned along way.
Ralph takes the many challenges of his life, from being separated from his family for four years, to conquering communication and infrastructure problems after hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, and teaches us that obstacles are to be met head on and not run from.
One of the many lessons I gleaned from Obstacles Welcome is that you have to be the driver in life, and not the passenger, in order to accomplish your goals. Otherwise you are merely a spectator of others trying to accomplish theirs. This thought has also stuck with me, that short term success can be easily achieved, but long term success and growth (both business and personal) comes from having great vision, inspiring others, and executing that vision.
I highly recommend Obstacles Welcome, not only as a great leadership book, but also as an inspiring story of a success which comes through hard work and perseverance, no matter your pedigree.
Thank you, Thomas Nelson, for allowing me to blog review this book.
Love & Respect - by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Thomas Nelson)
Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
The core of Love & Respect by Dr.Eggerichs is to address the means by which couples can stay out of the “Crazy Cycle,” and enter the “Energizing Cycle.” It is based on Ephesians 5:33, Husbands love your wives… and wives respect your husbands.”
Eggerichs maintains that the key here is that women are built to love naturally, so they need to work on respecting their husbands unconditionally, and conversely that men are built to respect naturally, so their focus should be in loving unconditionally.
Being a man, and married for ten years, I can say it is not my first inclination to buy self-help books on marriage. However, I am very glad I chose this book to review. What helped me most is Eggerichs’s point that the person I am married to loves me, and though I oft misinterpret her, or fail to understand her viewpoint, she does mean well.
Also the appendices in the book are helpful with ideas that you can use to reinforce the lessons from the book.
One thing I didn’t care for is the amount of testimonials in the book. It felt almost like an infomercial at times, and I found myself skimming through them.
Thank you Thomas Nelson for allowing me to blog-review this.
Promises. As kids, we are taught that promises are to be taken seriously, and so we grow up trying our hardest to keep them. Maybe it’s because we remember a promise being made to us by a parent or friend that ended up being broken, or maybe we try hard to keep them to avoid causing others disappointment. Maybe it just goes back to “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no.” (Matt. 5:37)
I think sometimes that we only say “I promise” to the easy stuff. “I promise, I’ll take out the trash before I leave.” “Tomorrow we’ll go the park, I promise!” You know, the incidentals. If the promise isn’t kept, it’s not a big deal. Maybe that is where our problem started, because it seems today that promises don’t mean much at all.
Maybe the best example is that of the politicians. They make all sorts of promises to get elected, and a majority never come to fruition. Part of that may be it is not in their sole power to deliver on them, to which I say, “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.” To others, I would say, “Don’t make promises you never intend on keeping.” Either way, it really is setting a bad example.
Maybe more disheartening the example that 50+% of married adults (even Christian adults) make: “Til death do us part.”
I know, I know, crap happens, people “fall” in and out of love. People change. People fight. People cheat. The fact remains, a promise was made. It’s one of the most important promises we can make, yet it is taken so lightly by so many. If you think I am being harsh, I am, but please keep reading.
I ask a question. Would you keep a promise, if it meant someone else being uncomfortable?
Like, “I promise not to smoke any more.” The chances are, if you make this promise, you will be grumpy for awhile, I know, I have been around plenty of people trying to quit. But I have patience and tolerate them, because in the end, them keeping their promise is better for their health. If fact, in their hardship, I even encourage them to keep this promise.
Now, would you keep your promise if it meant hurting someone’s feelings?
Scenario. “I will help you move next weekend.” Here, a promise is made to help someone, but on that day, your kids are not feeling well and your spouse asks you to stay home and help out. What do you do? Well, you feel sympathetic toward your spouse and children, and you know it may hurt their feelings, and maybe they feel they are not number one for a few hours, but you go and help your friend move. Why? Because your word is your word, and it sucks sometimes, but you do it.
Moving along, do you keep the promise when it causes harm to yourself?
“I promise to protect my family.” A robber breaks in, and without hesitation, a man or woman will do whatever necessary to protect their loved ones, even if it costs them their life. Makes sense right? One of the most costly to follow through on, but we do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.
Now the difficult one: Would you keep a promise if it cost the life of your child? I know someone who did.
A man was promised that a nation would be made from his offspring, but to follow through on it, his own child had to die. The promise was made by God, to Abram, at the cost of Jesus’ life. Not only did God follow through on the promise, He made the promise knowing what it would cost.
Now I challenge myself and you to keep our word. Make your yes, yes, and your no, no; especially when it comes to your marriage. We make mistakes, I know, I have made plenty, but we can’t give up. I doubt very highly that keeping the promise “Til death do us part” will cost us the physical lives of our children, but it is killing generations in many different ways (broken homes, broken relationships, bitterness, even hatred being passed around like Halloween candy all in the name of “What’s best for the kids” translates to “what is best for me.”).
It’s not easy sometimes, but it’s worth it. It’s work a lot of the time, but it’s worth it.
This is a great bit of audio. Here is the video from youtube, or if you like, you can follow the link and download the mp3.
Words that hurt so good: “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” John 16:2
Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I feel a shaking though its faint
Something’s coming am I too late
I need to be ready
The earth is groaning as it waits
Longing for the coming day
I need to be ready
Grant to me the grace I need
To live a life found worthy in the end
Violently I will seek
For wisdom is justified in the end
Wake me up, wake me up
I don’t want to be sleeping
When You’re coming
Wake me up, wake me up
I don’t want to be lying down
In this final hour
Wake me up
The nations gather as they say
Let’s break their bonds
And cast their chains I need to be ready
Deep darkness is coming soon
Do I have oil to make it through
I need to be ready
Time is running out, I say to all who hear
Lift your voice and shout
The bridegroom is in the land
Turn while there’s still time
The Lord He may relent
Will the way you live your life
Make it through
When God judges you.
This past Thursday, March 13 2007, Bethany and I celebrated our ninth year of marriage! It was a beautiful, cold March day when we were married. Bethany had just turned 18, and I was barely 21. Many people I am sure uttered the words, “They’re too young. They’ll never make it.” Ha! I laugh in your faces! Not only are we still married, we’re happy and LOVING it!
It’s been a great nine years, even though the first was quite rough. We have four children ages 6, 4, 2, 1, and number five due in September.
I love ‘em, I love ‘em, I love ‘em.
The study I linked to has some interesting stuff in it. 76% of first time marriages between 1955-1959 lasted 20 years or longer, while marriages from 1975-1979 only had 58% last at least that long. Also, forget the “Seven year itch,” more first-time marriages end in year two (1 in 12 in year two as opposed to 1 in 20 in year seven).
So, to encourage all you you married people, if we can do it, anyone can. And it’s not about you, it’s about both of you. As for words to live by, I can only speak from the husband perspective. The Bible says to love your wife as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). He laid down His life for us, so give your life for her. He had no complaints, even though He knew it would be tough, and He still gave his life knowing He might never receive anything in return, so quit your complaining and help her out once in awhile. Also, 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to learn about love as well.