The Real Agenda Behind Same Sex Marriage

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“I should have the right to marry whomever I want. I should be able to marry several people if I want, or my sister or my cousin. The growing movement to grant certain animals “personhood” will spawn the “right” to marry my pet chimpanzee or great dane. After all, it’s my life and I should have the right to do whatever I darn well want with it.”

Truthfully, same sex marriage is not about the human rights of lgbt people. It is about man shaking his/her fist at God and telling Him we don’t want to follow any rules and want to do things our own way. This independent human spirit first showed itself in Eden. Even though God had laid out specific rules regarding the tree Adam and Eve were not to eat from (and the associated consequences) – they decided they wanted to do what they wanted and not what God wanted. They chose to shake their fist at their Creator and seek their own path in life.

Mankind has been selfish and fiercely independent ever since. We want our way and we will stop at nothing to get it. With a willing media and court system in the U.S., if one keeps shouting long enough and loud enough, he/she will most likely find someone who believes in their cause and declares they have a “right” to do what they are seeking.

Gone are the days of absolutes. Right and wrong are now relative; are not taught at school or in most homes; and our individual rights now trump the rights of others. And, those other people (who disagree with the same sex agenda) are expected to not only accept their wishes, but to support and embrace the promotion of them. If not, they are labeled “phobes”, “intolerant”, “haters” and their beliefs, wishes and values are vilified and condemned.

Marrying someone of the same sex today is a “right” that judges and the media have decided is perfectly normal and should be embraced by everyone on the planet. The agenda behind the movement is actually an “anti-God” agenda. For people who believe in God, and that in the Bible He told us what was truly right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable – they believe differently. They believe what God says about the matter and feel they have an equal “right” to believe that way, and to live their lives and teach their children accordingly.

In order for the same sex movement to prosper, they have to be successful in convincing their constituents that God doesn’t exist, or if He does, His Word doesn’t really mean what it says (again, an argument made by Satan in the Garden of Eden). The agenda is to get us back to the place where we once again shake our fists at our Creator, ignore His love and plan for us, and selfishly choose to determine our own destiny in life….to do things our way.

It is obvious to this writer that the real battleground is not gay vs. straight – but a spiritual battle as old as mankind. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our battle is a spiritual one and will not be decided by rallies, marches, judges or the talking-head media.

This conflict is NOT against people who believe differently. This battle (and it is a battle) is part of the cosmic, spiritual battle for the souls of men; a battle raging since before man was created; a battle we are called to participate in.

Hoping it goes away is not an option. The consequences (like those in Eden) will be devastating…..

Jesus told us to pray – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Rob

3 Communication Secrets You Have to Know

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First, watch your tone. Between a husband and wife, tone is everything. We have to be extremely careful about the tone we use with our spouse.

For one thing, tone communicates care. A lack of caring in a marriage is deadly. It is impossible to reach higher levels of communication with a person who does not care.

Secondly, your tone informs your spouse about how you feel about his or her needs. Early in our marriage—during the days when we were struggling—Karen used to tell me “I wish I could record the way you talk to me. I wish you could hear what you sound like.”

When God finally made me aware how I spoke to her, I heard the tone of a husband who was frustrated, angry, and who had checked out of our marriage. My tone spoke loudly to Karen of my dissatisfaction. It caused tremendous insecurity in her.

Second, give your spouse the right to complain. I was dominant in our marriage and became verbally abusive. If Karen shared with me how she felt and I didn’t like it, I would make her pay for it. That attitude destroyed any trust she ever had in me.

A husband or wife absolutely must have freedom to complain about something in your marriage—your behavior, how you treat them, how you make them feel—without having to pay a price for it.

Giving a spouse the freedom to complain says to them “I want to know how you feel. I may not understand it or agree with it, but I will respect it. You will never have to worry about how I’ll respond.” This builds security and trust.

An inability to complain causes spouses to bottle up those concerns. This creates bitterness and all kinds of problems. Be approachable to your spouse. Be humble enough that you can accept gentle instruction from him or her. Be prepared to say you are sorry.

Third, speak the truth in love. The Bible says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to follow Him by speaking the truth in love.

This is a balancing act. Truth without grace is mean. It is truth-telling without any compassion—like looking at someone, saying, “You’re ugly,” and walking away. But grace without truth is meaningless. It’s a cheerleader in the 4th quarter of a football game cheering on her quarterback when the team is down by 60 points.

Marriages need truth and love. The truth can be unpleasant, but truth spoken without grace and love destroys trust. Many couples never talk about the things that matter because the truth makes them uncomfortable.

But research shows conflict can be important to the strength of a marriage. Relationships that avoid conflict are not as satisfying as those that experience conflict…then know how to resolve it.

Your tone, giving your spouse the freedom to complain, and a commitment to truth spoken in love: These are the things that must be present in a marriage marked by good communication.

Thanks to Jimmy Evans for a great review of some great insight into marriage communication.

 

Rob

Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids?

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When a college freshman received a C- on her first test, she literally had a meltdown in class. Sobbing, she texted her mother who called back, demanding to talk to the professor immediately (he, of course, declined). Another mother accompanied her child on a job interview, then wondered why he didn’t get the job.

A major employer reported that during a job interview, a potential employee told him that she would have his job within 18 months. It didn’t even cross her mind that he had worked 20 years to achieve his goal.

Sound crazy?

Sadly, the stories are all true, says Tim Elmore, founder and president of a non-profit, Growing Leaders, and author of the “Habitudes®” series of books, teacher guides, DVD kits and survey courses. “Gen Y (and iY) kids born between 1984 and 2002 have grown up in an age of instant gratification. iPhones, iPads, instant messaging and immediate access to data is at their fingertips,” he says. “Their grades in school are often negotiated by parents rather than earned and they are praised for accomplishing little. They have hundreds of Facebook and Twitter ‘friends,’ but often few real connections.”

To turn the tide, Growing Leaders is working with 5,000 public schools, universities, civic organizations, sports teams and corporations across the country and internationally to help turn young people — particularly those 16 to 24 — into leaders. “We want to give them the tools they lack before they’ve gone through three marriages and several failed business ventures,” he says.

But why have parents shifted from teaching self-reliance to becoming hovering helicopter parents who want to protect their children at all costs?

“I think it began in the fall of 1982, when seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol laced with poison after it left the factory,” he says. Halloween was just around the corner, and parents began checking every item in the loot bags. Homemade brownies and cookies (usually the most coveted items) hit the garbage; unwrapped candy followed close behind.

That led to an obsession with their children’s safety in every aspect of their lives. Instead of letting them go outside to play, parents filled their kid’s spare time with organized activities, did their homework for them, resolved their conflicts at school with both friends and teachers, and handed out trophies for just showing up.

“These well-intentioned messages of ‘you’re special’ have come back to haunt us,” Elmore says. “We are consumed with protecting them instead of preparing them for the future. We haven’t let them fall, fail and fear. The problem is that if they don’t take risks early on like climbing the monkey bars and possibly falling off, they are fearful of every new endeavor at age 29.”

Psychologists and psychiatrists are seeing more and more young people having a quarter-life crisis and more cases of clinical depression. The reason? Young people tell them it’s because they haven’t yet made their first million or found the perfect mate.

Teachers, coaches and executives complain that Gen Y kids have short attention spans and rely on external, instead of internal motivation. The goal of Growing Leaders is to reverse the trend and help young people become more creative and self-motivated so they can rely on themselves and don’t need external motivation.

Family psychologist John Rosemond agrees. In a February 2 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he points out that new research finds that rewards often backfire, producing the opposite effect of that intended. When an aggressive child is rewarded for not being aggressive for a short period of time, he is likely to repeat the bad behavior to keep the rewards coming.

Where did we go wrong?

• We’ve told our kids to dream big – and now any small act seems insignificant. In the great scheme of things, kids can’t instantly change the world. They have to take small, first steps – which seem like no progress at all to them. Nothing short of instant fame is good enough. “It’s time we tell them that doing great things starts with accomplishing small goals,” he says.

• We’ve told our kids that they are special – for no reason, even though they didn’t display excellent character or skill, and now they demand special treatment. The problem is that kids assumed they didn’t have to do anything special in order to be special.

• We gave our kids every comfort – and now they can’t delay gratification. And we heard the message loud and clear. We, too, pace in front of the microwave, become angry when things don’t go our way at work, rage at traffic. “Now it’s time to relay the importance of waiting for the things we want, deferring to the wishes of others and surrendering personal desires in the pursuit of something bigger than ‘me,'” Elmore says.

• We made our kid’s happiness a central goal – and now it’s difficult for them to generate happiness — the by-product of living a meaningful life. “It’s time we tell them that our goal is to enable them to discover their gifts, passions and purposes in life so they can help others. Happiness comes as a result.”

The uncomfortable solutions:

“We need to let our kids fail at 12 – which is far better than at 42,” he says. “We need to tell them the truth (with grace) that the notion of ‘you can do anything you want’ is not necessarily true.”

Kids need to align their dreams with their gifts. Every girl with a lovely voice won’t sing at the Met; every Little League baseball star won’t play for the major leagues.

• Allow them to get into trouble and accept the consequences. It’s okay to make a “C-.” Next time, they’ll try harder to make an “A”.

• Balance autonomy with responsibility. If your son borrows the car, he also has to re-fill the tank.

• Collaborate with the teacher, but don’t do the work for your child. If he fails a test, let him take the consequences.

“We need to become velvet bricks,” Elmore says, “soft on the outside and hard on the inside and allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults.”

 

Tim Elmore

2012

Who Really Killed Michael Brown

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We are all very saddened by the death of yet another young black teenager. I wish there was this national and even global attention given to the senseless loss of another teenager – of any race.

As I pondered the news coverage and the prosecutor’s press conference it became clear to me what really caused Michael Brown’s death…..he did.

Before you grab a stone and get ready to throw, hear me out. Yes, a policeman shot him several times. Yes, he was a black teen and black teens are often profiled and treated wrongly – but the truth remains….

If Michael had done what the vast majority of law-abiding teenagers, of any race, would have done, he would be alive today. The typical teenager in America would not have robbed a convenience store and roughed up the store owner. The typical American teenager would have responded with respect and obeyed a police officer’s request to stop and talk with him. The typical American teenager would not have reached inside a police car and physically assaulted an officer of the law, nor fled when told to halt, and then approached the officer again n a threatening manner. These are all facts that were investigated and corroborated by witnesses, both black and white.

Who does things like these?

A person, teen or adult, who does not have any respect for another human being, or their place of business, or their authority, or for human life. A person who thinks they are above the law and can do as they please in life. This person is not the normal, everyday American teenager, or adult.

What would have happened if Michael Brown would have paid for his merchandise at the convenience store? What would have happened if he had simply obeyed the officer’s request to move out of the street, and then respectfully engaged the officer in conversation.? In my opinion – absolutely nothing. He, like most American teenagers, would have simply walked home to live another day.

What happened in Ferguson is a tragedy. There are many problems in our system that need to be addressed moving forward, but the primary one is this: families of all races need to instill in their young people a deep respect for others, their property and their lives. They need to teach and model respect for authority, whether at school, public servant or simply an elder. Without this significant shift in the American family, I am afraid our nation is doomed to repeat tragedies like this one in neighborhood after neighborhood regardless of color.

The burden to change our nation and change the future for far too many teenagers – rests with their parents and grandparents. Values such as these mentioned earlier are not taught in our schools any longer, so they must be taught and caught at home, from an early age. These values cannot be legislated or legalized by the courts; they cannot be changed by celebrity endorsement, or special interest groups, or politicians – they have nothing to do with being oppressed or opportunity or with race or religion. Values like respect and honor (not to mention many others) are best passed down from generation to generation – and it seems to me – something is missing today.

BUT, every parent will tell you that in spite of their best efforts at training/modeling – young adults will ultimately make their own choices. If my son drinks too much and runs over someone on a city street on the way home it is no one else’s fault but his own; not his parents, not the bar owner, not the beverage company – he made the choice and must suffer the consequences. Tragedy? Absolutely! Preventable? Yes.

Michael Brown was indeed a victim; but ultimately, he was a victim of his own choices.

God bless the Brown family in their time of loss.

3 Things Your Wife Needs You to Know – About Intimacy

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Anyone who has been married for more than a day knows that men and women define hundreds of words differently, and in most cases, very differently.

Intimacy is such a word. In our marriage class/small group we always ask the husbands and wives to define it for us. Want to know what they say?

Wives – “closeness”, “connected”, “oneness”, “emotionally close”

Husbands – “sex”

Upon further investigation, the word “sex” is typically expanded to mean physical oneness or closeness.

Our culture almost always associates intimacy with sex, or in a sexual connotation (intimate apparel, intimate setting), so it is little wonder that men do too. Truth is – all the answers given above from our class are correct. Where couples fall woefully short is by not understanding or appreciating the other spouse’s definition.

So – for the men reading this blog, here is a brief overview of what you need to know about your wife’s definition (and expectation) of intimacy. I would also encourage you to ask her for her definition of intimacy.

1. Intimacy does not equal sex. Granted intimacy may end up as sex, but to most women (your wife may be the exception) intimacy is not defined by having sex together. To her, intimacy means closeness. “I feel close to my husband, emotionally” is the definition we most often get from wives. What this means in practical/man terms is: we have spent time together, we have talked through the many issues on my heart, I feel caught up with what is going on with him, I feel that he loves me and values me, I feel safe in our relationship, I feel cherish, I feel connected. These things cannot happen without having been physically together in a non-sexual way, talking, processing life and issues and connecting as friends more than roommates or business partners.

2. Wives don’t have pop-up blockers. A typical husband can come home from a horrible day at work, having run over a dog along the way, have a headache and a deep desire to plop into his favorite chair – but if greeted by his wife dressed in her little black dress who informs him the kids are eating dinner at the grandparents house – can instantly be all-in for sex. Wives, on the other hand, would need to talk with you about her horrible day and process her feelings about it. Cry a bit over the poor dog who ran out in front of her car, take some headache medicine and want to get off her feet as well. If you greet her in your newly purchased red, satin speedo – there will be absolutely no arousal or burning desire that magically wells up in her that makes her want to have amazing sex on the kitchen table. She cannot block out all the events and relational issues of her day like a man can. Once again – it takes time, understanding and conversation (processing).

3. Wives are not porn stars. Statistics tell us that nearly 90% of all men (husbands included) have viewed porn at some point in their lives  and as many as 70% view it on a regular basis. The women (paid performers) they watch always greatly desire sex, greatly enjoy sex and are greatly satisfied by their partner. This leads to many problems for men, but particularly when it comes to expectations. They cannot help but want to experience some of that “greatly” from their own wives. When they don’t, they subconsciously feel slighted and become more emotionally distant from their wives. This leads to more pornography, which leads to more disappointment and emotional distance – a very vicious and intimacy-killing cycle.

Moral?

Spend mass quantities of time with your wife. Sit and talk, go for a walk, hold hands, court her, pursue her – make her feel special, loved and cherish. Talk with her about her day, her anxieties, her fears, her dreams. Help her out around the house and with the kids. Ease her burdens. Lighten her loads.

Don’t expect her to desire to meet your need for physical intimacy until you take the time/effort to meet her need for emotional intimacy first. That’s what a leader does. That’s what laying your life down for another means.

That’s what Jesus did for us….regardless of our performance or response and expecting nothing in return. Don’t be so selfish that you only serve, love, help when you want sex.

Flee from porn if you are dabbling or using regularly. Get a mentor, an accountability partner, or even a formal treatment program if necessary. It is worth it. Your marriage, your children, your legacy – are worth it. Don’t let the enemy destroy your life and your home.

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” Eph. 5:25

If we will learn to do this – we will have the amazing marriage we’ve always wanted.

Rob

3 Things I Know About My Wife

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When you’ve known someone for most of your life, you get to know them quite well. My wife and I have known each other since we were about 14 years old. We dated off and on from middle school through college and got married the summer after college.

Spending that much time with another person is a mixed blessing for sure. You know them better than anyone. The good stuff and the not-so-good stuff. What I want you to know are three (3) things I have to sadly admit, took me far too long to recognize and appreciate about her.

1. She is God’s daughter – as a fellow Christian, my wife has also been adopted into God’s family and is a precious daughter of His. He personally hand-crafted her in her mother’s womb (Ps. 139), knows every hair on her head (Matt.10), and loves her enough to send His son to die on her behalf. He created her on purpose and has a wonderful plan for her life.

2. She was created specifically for me – since the very first marriage (Gen.2), God declared that it is “not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”. God handcrafted Eve for Adam. Out of all the women on the planet, He handcrafted a wife specifically for me also. He knew I would need help and so He created a “helper” with the exact specifications needed to partner with me in this lifetime. How awesome is that?

3. She is a sinner – like her husband. We are both addicts. We are addicted (by birth) to ourselves. Neither of us has it all together and neither of us will ever be able to be a selfless spouse who loves with unconditional love. Our sin nature automatically defaults to “me” each morning of our lives, and we must remain desperate for God’s direct intervention and help if we are ever to make our marriage work. Each of us, with God’s grace, must extend truckloads of grace and forgiveness to the other and constantly remember that our spouse was never intended to make us happy or meet all of our needs….. that is God’s job.

I wish I had realized and appreciated these things about my wife much earlier in our marriage, but I am thankful to be able to share them with other couples these days as we mentor and teach on marriage. I want to believe that our marriage would have been even richer/fuller than it has been and that I would have been a much better husband along the way.

Surely I would have treated her with much more honor and respect if I had truly comprehended that I was marrying one of God’s daughters and He was watching to see how I was treating her.

Surely I would have never been tempted by other women (real or imaginary) had I fully appreciated that God made her specifically for me, to help me, to partner with me and to impact the world around us – for His glory.

Surely I would have been much quicker to apologize, to forgive and to give grace to my fellow sinner instead of somehow thinking she was the problem. Surely we would have prayed together more, said I’m sorry quicker, and battled our real enemy together, instead of pointing fingers.

Wouldn’t I have?

Will you – now that you know?

Thankful,
Rob

A Life That Matters

 

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As I have gotten older, it has become increasingly obvious to me why I am here…on earth…for the years I am granted. Don’t we all wonder that from time to time? What is the meaning of life? Why I am here?

Here is the conclusion I have reached:

I am here to have an impact, to leave a footprint, to influence others for the glory of God. What I didn’t really realize, was the path to making this kind of imprint is a calling to die. Yes, you and I will all eventually cease breathing and physically die. What I mean is – I am here to learn to die…. to myself….to my inborn self-focus. And until I do, I will remain a selfish, unfulfilled, mostly unhappy man who will make no lasting, positive footprint or produce lasting fruit for God’s glory.

As I reflect back on my life I have seen nearly every endeavor, activity and relationship has been purposefully placed in my life path in order to teach me this lesson.

Parents were given to me to help teach, lead, mentor, discipline and love me so I would hopefully learn not be a selfish, the-world-revolves-around-me brat. Then came school (I’m talking about school in the good ole days of the 60s and 70s) with teachers. principals and coaches – all of whom had permission and authority to raise their eyebrows, raise their voices, paddle your backside, suspend you from classes, flunk an exam or even repeat a grade – if you didn’t behave or learn what you were “required” to learn back then.

Did I like all of that? No. Did I learn amazing life lessons about manners, respect, learning, hard work, getting along with others, respect for my elders/authorities, behaving, following rules, etc.? Absolutely!

I learned how to die. I learned how to obey when I didn’t feel like it or want to; to work hard when I would have preferred an easier path; to be a team player; to take responsibility (sometimes painfully) for my actions/conduct.

All of those people were strategically placed in my life to prepare me for “real” life, and more importantly – to teach me how to lay my life (desires, preferences, deserve-its) aside for someone else. I could not have imagined at the time how valuable those lessons would be in my life when they really mattered…….

Childhood, education and sports were all practice for what matters most in life. At age 22 I married the love of my life. Soon thereafter, three wonderful sons were entrusted to my care, protection and training. If I had thought life was hard beforehand, it was a cake walk compared to the next 20+ years. Anyone who is or has been married, or has raised children knows that this venue is the ultimate workshop for God to teach us what it means to die – to voluntarily give your life up for another person.

Now the kids are gone and having kids of their own. My wife and I are about to celebrate forty years together. And – the dying continues. Every day, in multiple ways, I continue to learn that my highest calling in this short life is to learn what Jesus taught and learned Himself….

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”Matthew 20:26-29

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. – John 12:24

If you and I want our lives to really count. If we want to make an impact during the few years we have here – an impact that affects generations behind us – we have to learn to give our lives away; to become servants; to fall to the earth and die. It is only when we do this that our lives will “bear much fruit”, and have an eternal impact.

Let it be, Lord.

Rob

Marriage is for Losers

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Re-Post from Dr. Kelly Flanagan (2013)…

“You can be right, or you can be married; take your pick.” I can’t remember who told me that, but I do remember they were only half-joking. The other half, the serious half, is exceedingly important. Because if marriage is going to work, it needs to become a contest to see which spouse is going to lose the most, and it needs to be a race that goes down to the wire.

When it comes to winning and losing, I think there are three kinds of marriages. In the first kind of marriage, both spouses are competing to win, and it’s a duel to the death. Husbands and wives are armed with a vast arsenal, ranging from fists, to words, to silence. Spouses destroy each other, and, in the process, they destroy the peace of their children. These marriages account for most of the 50 percent of marriages that fail, and then some.

The second kind of marriage is rife with winning and losing, but the roles are set, and the loser is always the same spouse. These are the truly abusive marriages, the ones in which one spouse dominates, the other submits, and in the process, both husband and wife are stripped of their dignity. These are the marriages of addicts and enablers, tyrants and slaves, and they may be the saddest marriages of all.

But there is a third kind of marriage.

The third kind of marriage is not perfect, not even close. But a decision has been made, and two people have decided to love each other to the limit, and to sacrifice the most important thing of all — themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life, a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most. The marriage becomes a competition to see who can change in ways that are most healing to the other, to see who can give of themselves in ways that most increase the dignity and strength of the other. These marriages form people who can be small and humble and merciful and loving and peaceful.

And they are revolutionary, in the purest sense of the word.

We live in a culture in which losing is the enemy. We wake up to news stories about domestic disputes gone wrong. Really wrong. We go to workplaces where everyone is battling for the boss’s favor and the next promotion, or we stay at home where the battle for the Legos is just as fierce. Nightly, we watch the talking heads on the cable news networks, trying to win the battle of ideas, although sometimes they seem quite willing to settle for winning the battle of decibels. We fight to have the best stuff, in the best name brands. We fight for attention and approval and a sense of worth, and when we finally look at each other at the end of the day, we fight, because we are trained to do nothing else. And, so, cultivating a marriage in which losing is the mutual norm becomes a radically counter-cultural act.

A rebellion.

What do the rebellious marriages look like? When my blood is bubbling, I try to remember a phone call we received from my son’s second grade teacher. She called to tell us there had been an incident in gym class. After a fierce athletic competition, in which the prize was the privilege to leave the gym first, my son’s team had lost. The losers were standing by, grumbling and complaining about second-grade-versions of injustice, as the victors filed past. And that’s when my son started to clap. He clapped for the winners as they passed, with a big dopey grin on his face and a smile stretched from one ear of his heart to the other. His startled gym teacher quickly exhorted the rest of his team to follow suit. So, a bunch of second grade losers staged a rebellion, giving a rousing ovation for their victorious peers, and in doing so, embraced the fullness of what it can mean to be a loser. When I’m seething, I try to remember the heart of a boy, a heart that can lose graciously and reach out in affection to the victors.

In marriage, losing is letting go of the need to fix everything for your partner, listening to their darkest parts with a heartache rather than a solution. It’s being even more present in the painful moments than in the good times. It’s finding ways to be humble and open, even when everything in you says you’re right and they are wrong. It’s doing what is good for your spouse, even when big things need to be sacrificed, like a job, or a relationship, or an ego. It is forgiveness, quickly and voluntarily. It is eliminating anything from your life, even the things you love, if they are keeping you from attending, caring, and serving. It is seeking peace by accepting the healthy but crazy-making things about your partner because, you remember, those were the things you fell in love with in the first place. It is knowing that your spouse will never fully understand you, will never truly love you unconditionally — because they are a broken creature, too — and loving them to the end anyway.

Maybe marriage, when it’s lived by two losers in a household culture of mutual surrender, is just the training we need to walk through this world — a world that wants to chew you up and spit you out — without the constant fear of getting the short end of the stick. Maybe we need to be formed in such a way that winning loses its glamour, that we can sacrifice the competition in favor of people. Maybe what we need, really, is to become a bunch of losers in a world that is being a torn apart by the competition to win. If we did that, maybe we’d be able to sleep a little easier at night, look our loved ones in the eyes, forgive and forget, and clap for the people around us.

I think in a marriage of losers, a synergy happens and all of life can explode into a kind of rebellion that is brighter than the sun. The really good rebellions, the ones that last and make the world a better place, they are like that, aren’t they? They heal, they restore. They are big, and they shine like the sun. And, like the sun, their gravitational pull is almost irresistible.

Follow Kelly M. Flanagan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrKellyFlanagan

Is God a Homophobe?

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What was God thinking? After creating man (Adam) and placing Him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it, it became blatantly obvious that man was lonely and unfulfilled. He brought millions of newly-created animals to Adam to see what he would name them, and after a significant length of time God put into place His master plan, His crowning achievement. (I think God allowed so much time to go by before creating a “helper” for Adam so that Adam would truly appreciate what God provided, and treat this creation with the utmost love, honor and respect. So finally, God begins to unveil His plan).

He puts Adam to sleep and extracts a rib from his side. At this point He has a decision to make. He has just spoken into being a multitude of galaxies, billions of stars, planets, Earth, animals, light and darkness, oceans, mountains, etc. – and now comes the moment of truth.

The ultimate Creator had the opportunity to create anything or anyone He wished as the perfect compliment/helper for man. The Bible uses the word “suitable” to describe this perfect match, this “other half” that would be able to meet man’s needs and become the perfect companion, lover and friend.

So, from the mind of God, came the answer. A woman.

Why not another man? Why not a decked out Ford F-150 pickup, or a shiny new sportscar? What about a world-class golf course, or a hunting cub with all the latest equipment? Why not two women, or three?

The obvious answer is that the Creator God knew that only one thing, one creation would be capable of truly fulfilling man’s needs and becoming his fulfilling companion for a lifetime. He chose to create a woman.

All other created animals were created to have a male and female counterpart. Nothing that was created was designed to have a counterpart of the same gender. Did God make a mistake? Was He homophobic?

As the Creator, does God get to decide what is “normal”, or do we ? If we choose not to believe in God, or His creation and plan for humanity, then absolutely – we get to choose whatever lifestyle we want. We should be able to marry whomever we choose, or even multiple people, underage people, or non-people. Without a moral compass, we are in charge and whatever we want should rule the day – and become the newest “normal”. Devoid of any moral absolutes, our existing laws, constitution and society itself will be redefined – because they were indeed founded on the belief in God and in His desire/design for mankind.

The prevailing conflict in our culture today is not really about who gets to decide what is “normal” or how to define or redefine “marriage”  – but whether or not God exists and whether He created mankind in the first place. If God exists, then our decision is whether to obey Him or go our own independent way in life. If He exists and the Bible is His blueprint for living, then we already have our answers regarding “normal” and “marriage”.  If He does not exist, then we get to decide for ourselves.

Seems simple enough – God exists or He doesn’t. God created or He didn’t.

The answers to these questions will decide who has the right to define those terms. The outcome will be monumental in determining the future of our society and nation.

Gay, straight. Same sex, opposite sex. Polygamy, monogamy. The real question and conflict is not between differing opinions of “normal” – but truthfully, between those who believe in/follow God, and those who don’t.

In the meantime, we should be tolerant, right? And tolerance should work both ways I believe. If one has the right to believe one way and even voice his/her belief – should the other viewpoint also not be allowed the same freedom and respect? Neither should have the right to force, coerce, or demand  the viewpoint embrace or condone a lifestyle or a definition of “normal” or “marriage” they find diametrically opposed to the heart and teachings of their God – any more than those holding to a more traditional viewpoint of “normal” and “marriage” demand the other viewpoint believe in God and follow the Bible’s teachings.

Ultimately, God will decide. If He exists and is truly is the Creator, He will answer the questions for all of us. If He doesn’t exist and didn’t create anything or anyone, then all of this will be a mute point.

 

 

 

How is Your Serve?

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What a better marriage? Learn to serve.

The Kingdom of God is full of paradoxes. The first will be last.  The humble will be exalted. The wise will become fools. To save your life, you must lose it. To receive, you must give. Then it should come as no surprise that this holds true for your marriage as well. Do you want a better marriage? Do you want your needs met and your relationship to be fulfilling? Learn to serve your mate.

God Loves a Servant

During Jesus’ ministry he constantly modeled a servant’s heart. From the sermon on the mount, to the parables he told, to washing the disciples feet, to the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45)

We are called to be imitators of Christ. So, how did he live? His entire life and ministry were a testament to service. Repeatedly Jesus tells us that the way to succeed in the Kingdom is to serve others (Matthew 20:26, Mark 9:35, Luke22:27). God loves a servant and His desire for your marriage is to be one of mutual service to one another (Ephesians5:21).

Mutual Service – God’s Recipe for Harmony

All too often, relationships end up being a bit one-sided in the area of service. One spouse might be especially natural at serving while the other may have some elements of their past that have led them to feel entitled to being on the receiving end of the relationship. No matter the reason, when one spouse is primarily leading in the area of service and the other has a tendency to only receive, it leaves the door wide open for resentment to creep in.
God’s vision for relationships is more balanced:”As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (I Peter 4:10)”Let love make you serve one another” (Galatians 5:13)
Your gifts and talents that have been graciously bestowed upon you are to be used in service to others, foremost to your spouse. The love you have for your mate should drive you to serve selflessly. If that’s true, then what prevents us from serving in marriage as we should? In James chapter 4:1-10, the Bible clarifies that the source of conflict in a relationship is selfishness. When we don’t get what we want, then we become desperate to meet our needs by any means necessary (guilt trips, manipulation, angry outbursts, withholding affection, etc.). The passage goes on to point out that if we would simply turn toward God for the fulfillment of our needs and humble ourselves (displaying a servant heart), then the Lord will lift us up.
God made us to serve Him and to serve one another (Matthew 22:36-40, Ephesians 2:10).  If we invest our energy in serving one another rather than being self-seeking, we’ll find harmony.

Serving Provides a Safety Net

God’s designs are always perfect, but we sometimes fail to recognize the beauty of what He has crafted. One of the beautiful things about you and your spouse serving one another, is that it provides a safety net. There will be days that you are down, feeling beaten up by life, and the selfless sacrifice of your mate can life you out of that funk. There will be times when your husband or wife is stressed and your servant heart will lead you to take something off their plate, allowing them to relax and catch their breath.

This marital safety net is described in Ecclesiastes 4:10-12:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Any guess what that “third strand” is in your marriage? It’s the presence of God guiding you both to sacrifice your selfish desires on the altar of love and mutual submission.  So put God in the center of your relationship, commit to demonstrate your love through serving each other, and watch how God shows up and knits the two of you together in a powerful way.

Kyle Gabhart

Equip Your Marriage

http://www.equipyourmarriage.com