Are You Having an Affair Without Knowing It?

Affairs are devastating, we all know that. But for most of us, it doesn’t apply. Or are we having an affair without knowing it? Sometimes you can have an affair not with a someone, but with a something.

10.30.14

Husbands, it may not be a woman you’re having an affair with. Maybe it’s your career. Maybe you find all the fulfillment, all the happiness, all the purpose that you’re supposed to find in your wife through your career. Maybe you’re cheating on your wife, but it’s with your job. When you give your best to your job and give the leftovers to your wife, that’s a form of adultery.

Here’s what wives tend to struggle with: it may be your kids. You married your husband to love him, to do life with him, to cherish him, but when the kids came along, you decided, “They take priority.” So you started making the kids first, not your husband. But you’re called to be a wife first, then a mom. If you give your best to your kids and give the leftovers to your husband, that’s a form of adultery.

Now listen, I’m not saying neglect your kids. Here’s what I’m saying: the best gift you can ever give your kids is a healthy marriage. Study after study has shown that a healthy marriage helps kids have a better shot at life. Don’t let the kids become more important than the marriage. So, affairs don’t have to be with someone. It can be with something. It can be a career, a hobby, an addiction, your friends, your kids. We’re all tempted with some form of adultery. Don’t let adultery ruin your marriage!

7 Ways to Have More Fun in Your Marriage

If your marriage is more about fighting then it is about having fun, then you’re off track from where God wants your marriage to be. Sunday at Mt Vernon I shared seven ways that couples can be serious about having more fun in their marriage:

10.27.14

 

1. Identify the biggest culprits crowding into your marriage space. What is it that is crowding into the space that’s reserved for you and your spouse? Is it a career? Is it the kids? Is it a hobby or an addiction? Is it another friendship? Once you identify it, you and your spouse can begin to talk about how to protect that space. More space for you and your spouse equals more fun.

2. Keep dating. You have to keep dating your spouse after you’re married. By the way, a date with the kids doesn’t count as a date. Dating equals fun, so date! Utilize the grandparents, dump your kids off on a babysitter or family friends. Make regular dating a priority.

3. Find a shared interest that’s yours alone. This is where it takes work and discipline. Find something you both like to do. For some it’s easy, for some it’s hard because your personalities are so different (which is fine). But find a hobby, an interest, something that’s yours alone with your spouse. It can’t be something from work or involve the kids. Keep working, keep digging, until you discover something both you and your spouse enjoy together. That leads to enjoyment in your relationship.

4. Get in shape. When you’re out of shape and overweight, you don’t have any energy. You get tired easier so you don’t have any energy for fun. If you’re out of shape, you also think more negatively about yourself. You don’t like how you look or feel. You’re less likely to initiate intimacy, because you feel unattractive. When you’re in shape, you feel better about yourself, you have more energy, you’re more positive, which all leads to fun.

5. Put your phone in a kitchen drawer when you get home. As much as I love technology, it kills intimacy with your spouse. It’s tough for a wife when she wants to sit and talk and connect but the husband is checking his email. It’s tough for a husband when the day’s finally done, the kids are in bed, he’s trying to throw out his best moves, but the wife doesn’t notice because she’s checking Facebook. Your phone is a distraction. Get it out of your hand. Don’t bring it into the bedroom with you. Putting your phone away will force you to interact with and connect with your spouse, which leads to fun.

6. Get the kids out of your bed. Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. When the kids sleep with you, there’s no fun. It’s hard to make more babies when there’s one still in the bed. But more than just physical intimacy, your bed is the only physical space you and your spouse occupy that’s reserved for you alone. It’s where you can talk and connect, where you can start and end the day together. Don’t let the kids in there. And I know all the excuses. Don’t settle. Your bed is your space. Protect it. Get the kids out of the bed. As cruel as it sounds, let them cry themselves to sleep for a few nights in their room. They’ll get over it, and you’ll have more fun.

7. Have lots of sex. Here’s why this is so important: you are the only legitimate source of romance in your spouse’s life. Wives, you are the only legitimate source of romance in your husband’s life. If you’re not intentional about pursuing and initiating intimacy, then he’s more susceptible to illegitimate options. Husbands, you are the only legitimate source of romance in your wife’s life. You need to remember that romance doesn’t just mean sex. Romance starts with serving her, valuing her, talking with her. The goal is for both of you to have a healthy, enjoyable sex life. Remember that men and women are wired differently. Men are like a microwave. 30 seconds and they’re done. Women are like a crockpot. Intimacy can’t be rushed. Husbands, make sure that you’re meeting your wife’s sexual needs, and not just your own.

Work hard and have fun! The best way to protect your marriage is to enjoy your marriage.

The Best Way to Protect Your Marriage

In Proverbs 5, the wisest man (Solomon) to ever live gathers his boys around him for a ‘come to Jesus’ talk. He tells them about life, love, and women. As we listen in to this incredible advice, Solomon warns his sons about the seduction and ultimate destruction that lies in wait for those who commit adultery. He paints a vivid picture of how they will despise themselves in old age if they fall for the seduction of another woman.

Happy couple embracing and laughing

Then after scaring the daylights out of them, he gives his sons the plan on how best to protect their marriage. It’s incredibly instructive for us all these thousands of years later, because human nature remains the same. Here’s what he tells them in Proverbs 5:18, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” He’s instructing his sons to rejoice in their wives, to enjoy their marriages, to delight in their spouses. Why? Because Solomon knows a timeless truth that can still help marriages today: the best way to protect your marriage is to enjoy your marriage. Fun isn’t optional in marriage. Fun isn’t extra. Fun is essential. When you stop having fun in your marriage, there’s a break that begins to separate you and your spouse, and other things can begin to crowd in and seduce you away from your first vows. 

When we’re newly married, having fun, spending time together, enjoying a full and vibrant sexual relationship, is effortless. There’s this beautiful space with you and your spouse and nothing else gets in. But as you go on in life, more and more things are going to try and crowd into your space. You’re going to have demands from a career that you want to be successful at. If you have a healthy sex life, you’re going to have lots of kids, and those kids need to be raised. Before you know it, everything begins to crowd into your space and begins to compete with your spouse for your affections. At that point, enjoying life with your spouse is no longer effortless. It takes effort. It takes discipline. You have to be serious about it.

Work hard, enjoy your marriage, and protect it for years to come.

Five for Friday (10.24.14)

five red button“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” (Henry Ford) Here are five links to help you stay young!

The Three Things I Wished I Knew Before We Got Married – Great stuff (whether married or not!)

The Top 5 Things American Pray to God for – What are you praying for?

22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep – Good stuff for everyone here!

LOST at 10: Still Lost After All These Years – If you’re a fan of the show, here’s an incredible post-mortem.

BONUS Video – The new Exodus: Gods and Kings trailer is out.

Why Aren’t There More Demonic Manifestations Today?

The scene from the Exorcist is forever etched in our brains: levitation, a head spinning around, cursing and demonic manifestations. Interestingly enough in today’s Christian-influenced culture, demonic manifestations are found mostly in fictitious movies and television shows. It’s nothing to see a horror movie with a demon or a television show with a demon (those tend to be of the more PG variety). But we don’t see or hear about real life manifestations that often. Why is that? Do demons still exist today? If so, why are they choosing to remain hidden?

10.23.14

 

I think Acts 19:13-20 explains it for us. First, the demonic manifestation:

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. Acts 19:13-16

A couple of preacher’s kids try to mess around with the demonic world and get their butts whooped in the process. The demon clearly and demonstratively revealed itself in the ancient city of Ephesus. After this manifestation, what was the response? Did the people cower in fear? Or did the wake-up call to the reality of a spiritual world galvanize the power of the gospel?

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in powerActs 19:17-20

The demonic manifestation backfired on the devil and his minions. The reality of the demonic only shed a brighter light on the reality of the Lord Jesus who had power over the demonic, leading to a full blown revival. And that (I believe), is why we don’t see more demonic manifestations today. Demons prefer to stay hidden, operating in the shadows, lulling us into a false sense of ignorance to their existence and their schemes.

QUESTION: Why do you think there aren’t more demonic manifestations today?

What Advice Would You Give Yourself on Your Wedding Day?

Last Sunday as part of our Married People series I posed this question, “If the me from last week could go back to the me on my wedding day and give myself advice, what would I tell myself?” The video below is what I came up with:

How to Break Free From the Clutter

I’m a news addict. My first temptation when I wake up is to grab my smartphone and scroll through all the important news stories that happened in the last eight hours since I checked it before going to bed. Politico, Fox News, USA Today, CNN, Christian Post, you name it, I check it. Before long, I’m inundated, overwhelmed by things I can’t affect and problems I can’t fix. Since I hit some Christian news sites (and since Fox News regularly plays to its evangelical base), I’m constantly told what I should be angry about, who I should be angry at, and what I can to do get involved. I’m pushed, pulled, angered and overwhelmed, all within the comfort of my own smartphone.

10.21.14

Maybe it’s not news for you. Maybe it’s social media. Maybe that Facebook news feed calls to you during the night. You can be so wrapped up in others stories that you forget to live out your own. Maybe it’s that Sportscenter app that keeps you connected to the heart of your sports world. Whatever it is, we all have things that call to us, that want to captivate our attention and ultimately distract us from what’s truly important.

So what’s the answer? How do we break free from the clutter that keeps us from viewing and living life from God’s perspective? Simple. Just do what Jesus did. Luke 5:16 says this, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Go to a place. Remove your phone (or iPad, or computer, or whatever distracts you) from your sight. Get lonely, where it’s just you and God, and talk to Him. For some that’s a prayer closet. For some that’s an open Bible and a journal. For me, that’s walking around my neighborhood just before sunrise so I can watch God’s beauty unfolding into another day.

If your mind feels too cluttered, then put your phone down and pray.

How Many Words Will You Be Worth Today?

It has been said countless times, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” We repeat this endlessly because it’s true. I can write an essay on the beauty of creation, or I can show you a majestic sunset touching the African savannah. I can verbally tell you about the virtues of commitment and sacrifice, or I can show you a wife caring for her husband as he agonizes through a terminal illness. I can attempt to describe the depths of joy, or I can simply show you a baby’s laugh. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

10.20.14

So as Almighty God conveys His relentless and boundless love to us, he can and has used words, “For God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16). But I think he’d rather show the world through pictures. And that’s where we come in. Those who call on his name. Those who lay claim to Jesus as our Savior. We’re the living pictures, walking and moving and breathing, all the while conveying to the world (through our words, through our attitudes, and most importantly, through our actions) just how much God loves this world.

The question is: how many words will you be worth today? Will you take the day off simply because it’s Monday? Will you be unintentional because there’s nothing worthwhile on your schedule? Or will you see every encounter as a divine appointment? Will you take advantage of today and make something beautiful out of it? Your audience may be large as you interact with hundreds of people today. Or it may simply be the same eight people you see at work or the same two children you take care of at home.

Today is a day to paint. Today is a day to create a masterpiece. Don’t allow apathy, unintentionally, anger or bitterness to diffuse your palette into dark and obtuse shades that mar the beauty of our Creator. Use the full spectrum of colors. Paint vividly. Laugh, cry, inspire, encourage, share, love. Give someone today a beautiful picture of God’s love in and through you. How many words will you be worth today?