Monthly Archives: July 2013

For Married Men Only

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sledgehammer

Marriage is tough. Having a great marriage is even tougher. By nature, we men tend to be a bit isolated, independent, and a little dense at times. By and large, we find female emotions a mystery and an unnecessary distraction.

Why does she have to be so sensitive?

Why does she always take everything so personal?

I didn’t mean anything by that comment about her hair changing color for the tenth time in three months . . . I don’t really care. (And therein lies the problem.)

Often we stumble into a situation that leaves us frustrated. We’ve lived around women all our lives, but we still just don’t get the female species. Of course, we’re grateful for women in general. We all love our mama, tolerate our sister, and thank God for sex with our wife, but they all baffle us on a regular basis.

That being said, perhaps women are not the problem. Maybe (and I know this is a radical concept), just maybe we are in need of some serious growth. Is it possible that we need to learn how to be better husbands and focus more on our character?

Recently, my wife and I celebrated our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. The fact that she has stuck with me that long is a tribute to her love and patience. Along the way, however, I’ve learned a few things you might want to consider implementing in your marriage.

  • Love your wife for who she is, not for what she does. Performance-based relationships rarely last. We might be able to perform our way into a marriage relationship, but sooner or later we all fail (including you). So if your relationship is primarily built on your wife’s performance, then you are destined for struggle. If, however, she knows that you love her simply because of who she is to you, it provides a strong and secure foundation for a lasting marriage.
  • Selflessly serve her without reservation or expectation. Find ways to meet her needs before your own. And when you serve, don’t do so expecting anything in return. According to Ephesians 5, I am to love my wife as Jesus loved the church. Jesus said He came to serve, not to be served. Jesus sacrificed everything for us. Truth is, Jesus died for His bride. Certainly, this goes against our human nature and our me-first culture, but we are called to serve and lay our lives down. So man-up and give up your rights and demands, and watch how powerfully that will impact your marriage.  
  • To build up your marriage, build up your wife. This ought to be a no-brainer. Most guys like to build. We understand the process of investing time, energy, and money into something we care about. We all know the difference between a sledgehammer and a framing hammer. One is used to tear down and destroy, and the other is used to build up and create. Tragically, our words and our actions often emotionally bruise those around us. Rather than beat down your wife, look for ways to build her up every day. Treat her better than any project you might have out in the garage or backyard. Let your words bless and encourage her as only you can.

Yup. Marriage is not for the faint-hearted. It will cost you. It is work, and it’s not always fun. But after almost four decades with my wife I can promise you this, it’s worth it.

So go focus on your character and her needs rather than her character and your needs, and watch and see what God will do.

 

 

 

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7 Responses to For Married Men Only

  1. Kurt, congratulations on a very significant milestone.

    And hooray to your 3 points – wholeheartedly agree… I love to use the word “cherish” as that’s what Jesus asks us to do.

  2. Congratulations and a great word Pastor Kurt. Vicky and I are at 38 years as well and I have found the hardest work in our relationship is the dying to myself. My favorite tactic is cut and run. Jesus wanted to cut and run too, but He prayed and stayed the course for the ones He loved. Despising the shame, He endured. Staying the course, enduring for love. Other men will shame us when we die to self to love our bride. That is the cost. Is it worth it? Beyond words. Bless you Pastor.

  3. While my wife and I are only at 34 years I can wholeheartedly concur. I wish we could talk with young couples to testify to the way it needs to be.

  4. I had to read it; although I am not a married man, but rather, I have been married to one for 34 years. It was a great post. Thank you.

How to deal with death

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Tombstone

Dealing with death is emotionally difficult. Even when someone has suffered for years and is ready to “go home,” it’s still hard to say goodbye. Death is sobering. Separation is painful.

The reality of our mortality isn’t anything we should fear, but we must face it. We all have an expiration date. Not one of us owns our next breath.

Recently, two men I know and love have gone to be with Jesus. Within just the past couple of years, I’ve lost two uncles and my stepdad. The generation before me is getting much smaller than it used to be. Attending funerals is a far more frequent experience for me than I ever imagined.

Needless to say, this has me thinking a bit more about my own death. Relax, I have no premonition of my impending departure, but I do live with a greater awareness of something Job once said, “My days are swifter than a runner . . .” (Job 9:25). In fact, it seems my days are moving at an incredible pace. (Is it really almost August? Did I actually see a Christmas display at Macy’s?)

My wife and I just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary, and we talked about the fact that it’s highly unlikely that we will share another thirty-eight years together on planet earth. Sad but true.

Moses wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). In other words, “God, help us to realize that life is short and precious so that we can use what we have wisely.”

So here are some wise lessons I’m learning about dealing with death:

  • Don’t waste the gift of time. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. What you do with yours, however, is up to you. Are you living on purpose? Do you see each minute as a gift from God? What will you do today to make a difference in your world? This doesn’t mean we have to work 24/7 or run around in anxious busyness. Chill. Take a break when needed. It’s okay. But don’t let hours become days and days become weeks where you waste the gifts you have from God—especially the gift of time.
  • Keep short accounts. By that, I mean don’t let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26). Life’s too short to go to bed mad. People are too precious to cut them out of your life in frustration and wrath. Here’s a little insight: we all fail. Sooner or later the people you love will hurt you (and you will hurt them). Love and forgive anyhow. Don’t let the last thing you ever say to someone be words that cut and wound. As far as it depends on you, let the last thing you say to someone be a blessing.
  • Live with honor; die with honor. Basically, this means you do everything possible to finish well. You make it your goal to live honorably for Jesus every day so when the time comes for your departure, you can say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Like I said, we all fail along the way. No one dies with a perfect record; nobody bats 1,000 (not even the Apostle Paul). But it is a worthy pursuit to live well so that you can die well.

With modern medicine and a relatively healthy lifestyle, I might make it to hundred. More than likely, however, I’m already well past the halfway mark, and it’s okay. The reality of my mortality is motivating to me. The truth that my days are numbered has always been true. Nowadays, I’m just more aware that I am one day closer to eternity, and that’s a good thing. It inspires me to live in such a way that makes every moment count.

Honestly, death can be a “happy thought” for me because I’m ready. Ready to go home when He calls. Ready to be reunited with my family and friends who have gone on before me. Ready for an eternity with Jesus!

How about you?

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8 Responses to How to deal with death

  1. Even though you know the loved one you have “lost” is in a far better place, pain free, in the presence of the Lord and that you will see them again someday there is deep pain that only time and Jesus can heal. You just don’t “get over it”. So be patient with those remaining, especially if they have lost a spouse, be gentle, supportive and encouraging. Until you’ve been there, you have know idea the enormity of that loss. They have not “walked this way before” either. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

  2. Kurt,

    How ironic that I would read this after going out to the “family” cemetery last week with my 82 year old mother. Since Mom fell on the job last year breaking her hip and hitting her head, mortality has literally been breathing out her nostrils and into mine.

    While I applaud her foresight in wanting to get these weighty matters decided upon and paid for before she goes, there is just something way-too sobering about a graveyard. A graveyard where I can read my stillborn baby sister’s name, my dad’s, my grandmother’s.

    As it all unfolded around me, my tiny little mother curled over and rested on her cane looking at the baby’s grave. “I never even got to see her,” she said, her aging blue eyes rheumy with tears…the first ones I’d ever seen her shed over the baby she never EVER talked about.

    Say what, Jesus??? THIS is how things end???? Are you flipping kidding me, Father? I so wanted to rail and wail and go postal singing that old song from the 60’s, “Is this all there is”?

    Of course I know the truth. The REAL truth. That THIS is NOT all there is. This life here on earth is just the appetizer….the thing we cut our teeth on to see if we’ve got the incisors for the real-deal-meal.

    By God’s grace—and only by his epic grace—we do.

    But, dang, life’s a hard “chew” sometimes. Full of buckshot, gristle and nasty gnarly stuff that only the Holy Spirit can floss out of us. Thank God for that. And for reminders like yours.

    • Love your heart and honesty, Ronna. Love you! (I’m pretty sure you’ve got another book in you.)

    • Thank you, Michele. Sometimes it amazes me how you write something from your heart, and then it seems like God “tests” you to see if you will practice what you preach. My wife and I just got news this morning that a niece was in an auto accident last night and passed away. She left behind a wonderful husband and two little boys. We are weeping, but holding on to Him.
      You are loved,
      Kurt

  3. One of those uncles was my Grandpa. It felt like his passing was do painfully drawn out and lonely. Thank you for mentioning him and making me smile. My 6 year old recently told me “fair’s not life”.
    So true Katie so true.

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