- Automatic vs. Intentional
When you first start out dating, and then in the early stages of marriage, most of the relationship is automatic. You are running off of emotions and hormones that drive each of you to be nice, be considerate, spend time together, and tend to one another. But eventually, marriage happens, life kicks in, kids come along and things change.
Most people think that the early stages of love—that chemically induced time of bliss and ease—will continue indefinitely. After all, they are “in love” and have found “the one” that will make the rest of their days as euphoric as the honeymoon phase.
But that’s not the way it works. The reality is this automatic phase is short-term (lasting six months to a couple of years) and when it fades away your marriage and your sex life must happen on purpose. You have date night on purpose. You plan to have sex on purpose. You make time for each other on purpose. Couples who don’t make the transition from automatic to intentional have marriages that suffer the most.
- “You Say You Want a Revolution?” – the Beatles
We need a revolution.
When I grew up in the 60’s, young people rebelled against materialism and morality. We said “Enough!!” and fought back against the establishment – an establishment we regarded as corrupt and clueless. When it came to a war we thought unjust we chanted, “Hell no, we won’t go!!” When it came to materialism we said, “We don’t want it!!”, and walked about with no shoes and holes in our jeans. And when it came to traditional morality, we rejected it and gave ourselves to free sex, drugs and rock and roll. It had an enduring impact on our nation. And while the rejection of materialism was a positive reminder that there are more important things to life than possessions, the plunge into immorality has been devastating.
Today, four decades later, as I look at the Evangelical Christian Church (now as a pastor, husband, father and grandfather) I can’t help but believe we are in need of another revolution. This time, however, we need a revolution among Christian young people – those who will go against the narcissistic thinking of their unspiritual Christian parents, a thinking that only leads to selfishness, materialism and a high divorce rate.
- Resolve to be Thankful
Thankful? Haven’t we passed that holiday? I know, Thanksgiving was seven or eight weeks ago…the leftovers have vanished along with the attitude of gratitude that was quickly lost in the flurry of Christmas. Now, here we are at the start of a new year. The presents have been returned, the wrapping has been recycled, and the tree is tucked away in the basement for another year.
Many people make resolutions beginning January 1st to improve themselves and their lives. Lots of us make promises to eat less and exercise more, or to pray and read the bible more and watch TV less. All good things…and they would be even better if we could actually stick to them beyond Valentine’s Day! But here is an idea for a resolution: Be thankful.
Let’s start by looking at an example from scripture of what being thankful actually looks like. In Luke 17 we find the account of Jesus healing the ten lepers. As most people are well aware, leprosy was a horrible disease at the time. It was incurable and caused people to be completely separated and isolated from everyone…including their own spouse, family and friends. Therefore, when these ten guys heard this man was healing people, they wanted in on the deal and made their way to see him crying out loudly for Jesus to have mercy upon them.
- The Ideal Christmas
Yes, it’s that time of the year again…the most wonderful, happy, and magical season of Christmas! At least that’s what the retailers, songs and TV specials all proclaim starting mid-November. Yet for many people, this whole holiday season starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Years is anything but wonderful or happy.
Now, there may be a variety of reasons for this. For some people, it is the first year since a loved one has passed away, which makes for sadness. Others experience the whole season being separated by many miles from their family and friends either because of job situations, military commitments or just because they can’t make it home for any given reason.
Some of the things that cause people to be unhappy at Christmas time cannot be helped and they are quite reasonable sources for sad or melancholy feelings. But many people are upset and stressed out during this season by their own doing. And by far, the largest culprit in this is unrealistic expectations of what they think Christmas is supposed to be like.
- Bad Theology = Bad Marriage
There is line of thinking that began in American culture during the hippy movement of the 1960s and has continued to grow in popularity until it proliferated even Christianity. I’m referring to the concept of “unconditional love”. Over and over we hear people talking about how we need to love others “unconditionally” and how others should love us “unconditionally”. It also has morphed into the idea that God’s love for us is “unconditional”. What a bunch of horse manure! Nowhere in the bible does it say that love is to be without conditions…in fact, the phrase “unconditional love” isn’t even in the bible. (Not to mention that the bible is clearly a list of conditions God has for his people.) Funny how Christians are so quick to make such unbiblical ideas and phrases in to pillars of the faith!
The other phrase that is repeated over and over again until it, too, has become accepted “doctrine” is “God loves you just the way you are.” Wrong!! God loves you in spite of the way you are!
- Marry a Believer
People have all kinds of ideas and notions on whom they are to marry, how they go about finding “the one” to marry, and the list of standards and ideals they have for the one they marry. Let’s clear up a few things, shall we?
The bible doesn’t say anything about waiting for your soul mate to get married. It also doesn’t say anything about God having that one special person just for you…although people will argue with me on that one! What it does say is that we are to get or find a spouse—that means you don’t sit and wait for God drop one into your lap. Check out my DVD set Singles and Stinking Thinking: A Clear Path to Marriage for more information on dating and why I believe God does not have “a special one just for you.”
- Jesus Was Not a Hypocrite
Have you noticed that people are extremely caught up in their feelings in today’s culture…even our Christian culture? They think they have to be honest with their feelings. They live by the belief that they have to live by their emotions and verbally vomit their feelings on those around them. So often they say that they cannot or will not act in any way, shape or form that is contrary to what they feel. For example, if I don’t “feel” in love with my spouse, I can’t possibly stay in my marriage because I’m not being true to what I feel. If I stayed married to a woman that I didn’t have feelings of love for, I would be a hypocrite.
Or how about his one, I can’t act in loving and kind ways toward my spouse because I don’t feel full of loving-kindness. Maybe I feel nothing, or perhaps I feel anger or resentment. I can’t possibly act like I want to be with her, or tell her I love her if I don’t feel love. That, too, would make me a hypocrite. Way too many people think that they must feel the emotions in order for it to be love. They say that without the feelings, it’s not love. Well, I’ve got news for you…based on this kind of stupid thinking and what people say, Jesus didn’t love us and he was a hypocrite.
- Talking to Your Kids About Sex
What do I tell my kids about sex? When do I talk to them about it? How old should they be when we have “the sex talk”? These are questions that I get all the time from parents in regard to educating kids about sex. It’s a task that many dread and can make even the strongest of men and women tremble with apprehension and fear. But is doesn’t have to be daunting if you can get comfortable and approach it as a constant conversation, rather than the one big event. “The Talk” is 1950s thinking and it doesn’t cut it in the world we live in today.
As parents, if you believe that talking to your kids one time is enough, you are dumb as a brick! It shows how just backward we Christians are in the area of sex education that we’re still thinking in terms of “the talk”. Your kids are bombarded with thousands of negative impressions, misinformation and straight-up lies regarding sex every single week of their lives. If you think that one conversation with you is going to counter all of that, you are sadly mistaken. Now, the good news is because you are the parent, you don’t have to go one-to-one with each message your kids take in. You have far greater influence than the world around and your voice carries more weight. But what you must do is capitalize on the teachable moments over and over again.
- Til Death Do Us Part…
My Response to the Pat Robertson Controversy
I’ve been asked several times over the past several days what I think about the whole issue of Pat Robertson’s comments in regard to divorce and Alzheimer’s. I did address the actual story on the September 20th episode of my radio show. If you are so inclined to hear what my take was, click here. I won’t go into detail here in this post, but what I would like to comment on is the outpouring of responses that Christian people all across the Internet and media world put forth.
Huge numbers of people—both believers and non-believers—have been in an uproar and it’s created quite the firestorm of controversy. First, over Robertson himself, and second, about how awful, heartless and cruel someone would be to divorce a spouse in the throes of a terrible disease. Yet, I would guess that it is many of these very same people who condone and advocate divorce in circumstances far less trying than Alzheimer’s. Does anyone else see the inconsistency here?
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- Don’t Date Unless You Want to Marry
In these days of hook-ups, serial dating, friends with benefits, stay-over relationships and other such collective stupidity, I can understand how the real purpose of dating has gotten lost. Just to be clear and fill in the blank for those of you who are wondering…the whole point of dating is to find someone you love and want to build a life with and to get married. I know people “date” for all kind of reasons—anything from boredom, and loneliness, to getting sex or boosting their egos—but none of those should be the motivation to date. It’s pretty straightforward people: If you don’t want to get married, then don’t date.
I frequently hear young couples say things like this: “We’ve been dating for three years but we just can’t afford to get married yet.” “I’m just not ready to settle down.” “I want to complete my education and get established before I think about marrying.” Why in the heck are you even dating to begin with?
- If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
I don’t really like marriage enrichment programs. Considering that I spend a great deal of my life traveling and presenting my own marriage seminar, that sounds quite strange. It’s not that I don’t believe it’s important to educate and enlighten couples on how to have a successful marriage, rather, I am just not a fan of the sorts of groups, classes, weekend retreats, books and conferences that end up creating more issues than they solve.
Let me explain. I actually know of couples that have been to a marriage seminar and their marriage ended up a mess because of it. Prior to attending, they were perfectly happy with their relationship but that came to a screeching halt when seeds of discontent were planted. Men and women may be very content in their marriage until some expert or pastor tells them how things “should be” or what they “should be” doing if they want to have a great marriage. You should be praying together everyday, you should be having sex 3-4 times a week, you should be spending at least 30 minutes of time each day sharing your thoughts, hopes and dreams…do you get the point?
- Where Are the Cops?
Imagine if you will, all of the major news networks announce that starting tomorrow there will be no police presence in a city, let’s say Chicago. The news report states that for the next 72 hours, no security, no officers, no squad cars, nothing will be patrolling the streets of downtown, nor will they respond to any 911 calls for help. No rules or laws will be enforced. What would happen?
We all know that absolute anarchy, chaos, and lawlessness would reign. People would be robbing, looting, even murdering if they could get away with it, and what would the public outcry be? All would be yelling, “This is crazy! Where are the police!?” Because it’s the police that are supposed to enforce and uphold the law, and if they are simply going to neglect their duty, then people will run amuck.