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Archive for the ‘Military Marriages’ Category

marriage dance

Everyone wants a good, strong, happy marriage.  Our marriages often start out well.  They are full of enthusiasm, joy, love, compassion, and devotion.  But as time goes by, couples often find it difficult to carve out time, space, and energy for their one true love.

It seems so odd and sad, but it is a common story line with a majority of married couples. The things of life get in their way and dampen the romance that once burned bright.  A few years prior, nothing could separate this pair of love birds. Now priorities have changed. Distractions are everywhere.  Demands must be met. Children must be fed. Bills must be paid.  Somehow couples seem to lose the fire and energy that brought them to the altar.

We all need a wake up call when it come to marriage.  Everyone!  We husbands need a reminder to date our wives and make her a priority.  Wives need a reminder to love and cherish husbands.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week.  It serves as the national alarm clock for couples to remember why they got married in the first place.  It also allows groups, organizations, and churches to join the fight in saving marriages across America.

If you are planning a marriage enrichment event, a workshop, or presentation, join the campaign by sharing it on the national website.  Let your community know what resources are available in their own backyard.  This simple act can go a long way to encourage or even salvage a couple on the brink of divorce.

National Marriage Week USA, offers several marriage resources, date night suggestions, event guides, reading lists, and videos on how to build a satisfying marriage.  Check out the website to find a tip, idea, or suggestion that can improve your marriage in 2016.

This can be the year that you turn things around.  Stop allowing distractions and insignificant events to suck the life out of your relationship.  Take time to strengthen your marriage.  Reconnect with your spouse.  Focus on the romance that brought you together. Use National Marriage Week as a way to strengthen your marriage and focus on the one you love.

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teen dating

We date to find the right person, that special someone worthy of our affection. We search for that special person deserving of our eternal love.

Proverbs 31:10 asks the question, “Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies.” This is the reminder that we all need when it comes to dating.

Too often people rush into a relationship. They settle for something less than the perfect person of their dreams. They witness unhealthy habits, behaviors, and patterns, but turn a blind eye to these traits. They become attached and involved too quickly and overlook the problem areas that should immediately steer them in a different direction.

It is critical that singles and those who are single again be well-prepared for marriage. If they are not, folks will fall into the trap of marrying a person thinking that they knew them, but in reality they only knew about them.

Take the necessary time to truly find out who it is that you are dating. It might take three to six months or longer, but just like looking through a microscope on its lowest setting, you can only see so much. Dating someone for an extended period allows you to see certain things that may not become evident right away. When you have dated someone for a year you begin to have history with that person. Many couples get through their first year just fine, but in the second year issues often begin to surface that weren’t evident earlier.

We date for a reason. It is okay to wait and search for the right person. It is okay for a relationship to end if there are warning signs. Don’t settle for someone who does not treat you right. You deserve someone you can trust. You deserve someone who will remain committed to you. Set high standards and hold onto your standards. They can help you find the right person who will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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Wedding

June is a busy month for weddings.  As we enter the season known for wedding ceremonies, share your knowledge and experience with couples who want to tie the knot.  We all want them to have a strong and beneficial marriage that will last.

Some couples fall into the trap of spending more time planning the ceremony than discussing their married life together.  A wedding ceremony can last 20-45 minutes, but the marriage is intended to last for the rest of their lives.  In an age when 47% of marriages end in divorce, couples need to build a solid foundation for their marriage to succeed.

Here are some observations from my foxhole.

Get pre-marital counseling.  This is extremely valuable to couples before the wedding bells chime.  Counseling get help you to identify problems before they turn into issues down the road.  Counseling will also help in finding strong solutions that will not jeopardize your union.

Strengthen your communication skills.  You can learn how to listen to your spouse and speak effectively with each other.  This does not happen by accident.  It will take time, effort, and practice.  While better communication skills may seem like a catch phrase, couples who learn the skills can resolve issues more quickly and avoid serious fights.

Discuss roles and expectations.  What will married life look like after the ceremony?  Don’t expect this to take care of itself down the road.  Now is the best time to discuss expectations.  Topics should cover a wide range of issues to give transparency and depth.  Who will make the morning coffee?  Will you have a joint checking account?  Will you be a one or two income household?  Does your spouse plan to go back to school?  Where will you worship?  Marriage counseling is a great place to start or continue the conversation.

Learn how to fight fair.  Couples get into arguments.  That is a given fact of life. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  Verbal fights, arguments, and conflict will happen.  I can’t prevent you from fighting, but you can learn to fight fair with each other.  Take the time to educate yourself on these skills. Learn what to avoid, how to cool down, and move toward solving the problem as a team. 

Strengthen your faith.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 shares, “a rope of three strands is not quickly broken.” There is incredible wisdom in having God as the third strand in your marriage.  Allow His love to surround you, teach you, and draw you closer to your mate.  Learn to follow God’s plan for yourself and your marriage.  Live within the covenant of marriage.  Make faith a priority in your marriage. Worship together and reach new highs through Christ.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment.  So it is important to discuss where you are going and where you want to be as husband and wife.  Make time to discuss your goals and plans.  This is an exciting time to chart out a direction for your future together.  Keep God at the center of your plans, and your marriage will continue to grow.

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couple

Everyone wants a good, strong, happy marriage.  Our marriages often start out well.  They are full of enthusiasm, joy, love, compassion, and devotion.  But as time goes by, couples often find it difficult to carve out time, space, and energy for their one true love.

It seems so odd and sad, but it is a common story line with a majority of married couples.  The things of life get in their way and dampen the romance that once burned bright.  A few years prior, nothing could separate this pair of love birds. Now priorities have changed.  Distractions are everywhere.  Demands must be met. Children must be fed. Bills must be paid.  Somehow couples seem to lose the fire and energy that brought them to the altar.

We all need a wake up call when it come to marriage.  Everyone!  We husbands need a reminder to date our wives and make her a priority.  Wives need a reminder to love and cherish husbands.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week.  It serves as the national alarm clock for couples to remember why they got married in the first place.  It also allows groups, organizations, and churches to join the fight in saving marriages across America.

If you are planning a marriage enrichment event, a workshop, or presentation, join the campaign by sharing it on the national website.  Let your community know what resources are available in their own backyard.  This simple act can go a long way to encourage or even salvage a couple on the brink of divorce.

National Marriage Week USA, offers several marriage resources, date night suggestions, event guides, reading lists, and videos on how to build a satisfying marriage.  Check out the website to find a tip, idea, or suggestion that can improve your marriage in 2014.

This can be the year that you turn things around.  Stop allowing distractions and insignificant events to suck the life out of your relationship.  Take time to strengthen your marriage.  Reconnect with your spouse.  Focus on the romance that brought you together.  Use National Marriage Week as a way to strengthen your marriage and focus on the one you love.

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weddingRingsBible

There is an ever growing list of people who want nothing to do with marriage.  You can now add Lindsey Vonn to the list.  Vonn recently announced she has no plans to walk down the aisle again.

Vonn, the 2010 gold medal Olympian and girl friend to Tiger Woods, shared, “I’m done with that.  The box is checked.  I don’t really believe that you need to be married to someone to be their life partner.”

Her attitude on marriage is increasingly common.  Many couples prefer to live together or in a word cohabit, instead of getting married.  I’ve heard the arguments for the practice.  Folks want to save money, spend more time with the person they love, or test the compatibility of their relationship without all the messy legal problems if it should fail.

Some view the practice as a strong commitment while dating.  Others see it as a prelude to marriage.  But contemporary opinions now view cohabitation as a substitute for conventional marriage.

While attitudes and opinions support cohabitation, the facts do not.  In a piece entitled “The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage,” psychologist Meg Jay of the University of Virginia describes what is known as the “cohabitation effect”: “Couples who cohabit before marriage . . . tend to be less satisfied with their marriages-and more likely to divorce-than couples who do not.”  67% of cohabiting couples divorce compared to 45% of all first marriages.  Additional studies show that women who cohabit are more likely to be abused and to be depressed than women in a marriage.  And if that wasn’t enough bad news, researchers also found that couples who cohabit are more likely to cheat on one another.

This entire notion that you can test drive marriage hurts people and creates unnecessary heartache.  The biblical warnings against cohabitation are affirmed by statistics and the burgeoning trail of wounded people.  Couples often try cohabitation because they have not seen a successful marriage up close.

Pastors can help to reverse the trend by requiring premarital counseling before couples tie the knot.  Churches can also make a difference by mentoring engaged couples.  This is a great way to teach the biblical examples of marriage and build strong relationships.  When couples receive mentoring by their church, 76% stay together, 19% break up before marrying, and only 5% divorce or separate.

We can no longer accept a laissez faire approach to marriage in our community. God has designed the covenant of marriage and we need to continue teaching a biblical approach for couples.  They also deserve quality mentoring from pastors and church leaders who are willing to help the next generation.  May God raise up quality couples who are willing to mentor others and increase successful marriages throughout our community.

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Male-and-Female

Christians need to understand a biblical theology of the body.

I share this because of several recent events.  First, the Supreme Court struck down the federal definition of marriage being between one man and one woman.  Second, California recently passed a law allowing transgender students to choose which restroom and locker room they use.  The law, which will take effect Jan. 1, gives students the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on the gender they identify with as opposed to their birth gender. Those programs also include sports teams.  Third, a day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison, Army Private First Class Bradley Manning announced that he self identifies as a female and wants to be known as Chelsea Manning.

These events are more than news stories.  They are a reflection of our nation, our culture, and our society as a whole.  They also reflect what currently passes as acceptable behavior.

Here are a few reminders to share from the National Association of Evangelicals and its Generation Forum.

People are created in the image of God.  God made us.  We are not descendants of another mammal.  God created human beings in His image, looked at all He made, and pronounced it “very good” in Genesis 1:31.  We are included in this decree.  This makes every human a holy reflection of God and a unique work of art.  God bestows us with some of His divine attributes setting us apart from the beasts of the field.  Created in His image, we are relational and embodied beings, whose very nature bear the fingerprints of God.

God created us male and female.  The genders announced in Genesis 1 are different.  God’s design is for man and woman to be together in the covenant of marriage.  This bond is blessed so that people can find greater relationship, happiness, intimacy, and know the joy of children.  Jesus confirms this creation paradigm in Matthew 19.  Competing models to the marital covenant are found in current and ancient cultures, including polygamy, same-sex unions, serial monogamy, polyamory, and “open marriages.”  These constructs lack the essential ingredients that fully express God’s plan.  They are flawed imitations of what God intended.

We should also embrace our gender as a gift from God.  The contemporary dance with changing gender identity represents a rebellious rejection of our Creator’s biological design.  We should not change or exchange our humanity.  It would only distort God’s canvass.  This rejection also demonstrates a rebellious desire to exchange “the truth of God for a lie” and make ourselves in our own image, Romans 1:25.

Honor God with your body.  The Biblical mandate is clear, we are to pursue purity.  This is accomplished by upholding fidelity in marriage and upholding chastity outside of marriage.  We need to be aware of potential temptations and be transparent with those who hold us accountable.  Sanctification is both an event and a process.  We are incapable of eliminating ourselves from the problem of sin.  Only Jesus Christ can and will set us free, Romans 8:1-4.  But all are called to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” and to be “transformed by the renewing of your minds” Romans 12:1-2.

As Christians, we are called to honestly share the standard God has given through Scripture.  Many will reject it, but the church must be steadfast and faithful to biblical teaching.  Another challenge in speaking God’s truth is being compassionate like Christ.  Hate and anger will only hurt our Christian witness.  Instead, let us continue to advance God’s kingdom by speaking the truth in love.

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samson

I ran across this book when I got back from my second deployment.  I either missed it on the shelf or was too consumed with seminary assignments, but we found each other at the right time.  The message and lessons inside are vital to any “strong man” in our world.

Samson is an Old Testament Bible character who gets little attention in the stories or sermons of today.  Samson is also greatly ignored in print.  Most Christians think of him as “the guy who fooled around with Delilah” or “the strong dude with long hair.” After reading The Samson Syndrome, I am convinced that needs to change. Samson has a great deal to teach the modern believer and the men of every generation.

The author, Mark Atteberry, does a great job of detailing why strong, powerful, and smart men so commonly fail.  History is filled with heartbreaking stories of talented men who disgraced themselves by falling into sin.  Abraham and King David quickly come to my mind.  News headlines of yesterday and today all tell the same story. Prince Charles, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Brad Pitt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse James, Tiger Woods, and General David Petraeus all thought they were sneaky enough to cross a moral boundary and not get caught.  Each of us can name an additional dozen men of good reputation who have suffered a moral failure and public disgrace.

Celebrities and public figures are not the only ones who stumble.  All of us do. Soldiers, church deacons, farmers, mechanics, accountants, you name it, we all falter.  That’s why every man stands to benefit from the story of Samson.

The Samson Syndrome focuses on a set of twelve areas that contributed to his “erratic behavior, his spiritual decline, and ultimately, his failure as a deliverer of God’s people.”  These twelve tendencies are common to men of strength no matter the generation.  They represent the unique challenges that we all face.  The author does a magnificent job of showing how strong men tend to disregard boundaries, struggle with lust, ignore good advice, break rules, have big egos, struggle with intimacy, and often lose sight of the big picture.  You may not contend with all of Samson’s tendencies in your life, but no man can escape their influence.

This is a great book for veterans.  Many come back from a deployment and feel like Superman.  They often express how, “the enemy shot at me and I survived the worst they could throw at me.  Nothing can take me down.”  While many may feel invincible when they return home from war, they quickly get into trouble at home, try to out drink each other, or get into motorcycle wrecks.  That mentality of strong men who feel like they can get away with something is pretty common in today’s military.  Know that this book speaks your language and addresses the life you live.

It is time that we rediscover the story of Samson.  Find time to walk the dusty roads of Israel with our long-haired friend. Hear his tale, think about his life, and reflect on the similarities you encounter.  His example will help you to find your own weak spots in life and develop suggestions on how to overcome them through the lens of Scripture.

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