Monthly Archives: October 2015

THE KEY TO NOTHING (Is there really an answer to all your problems?)

THE KEY TO NOTHING (Is there really an answer to all your problems?)

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If someone ever tells you, “I have the key to your health, to your happiness, to your success, to your marriage . . .” walk away. In fact, run away.

imageThere is no single key.

Frankly, when a pastor, teacher, or counselor says he or she has all the answers to any problem, I get very nervous. If I know anything about anything, it’s that I actually know nothing about a lot.

After over 40 years of marriage, I’m still figuring it out. In fact, about the time I think I finally know something about my wife, she changes! (And she would say the same about me.)

I’ve been a parent for 37 years and a grandparent for 9 years, but my children still baffle me at times. (And they would say the same about me.)

I’ve been a pastor for about 35 years, and I’m still grasping for answers most of the time. Of course I understand the core of my faith, but there are plenty of things that remain uncertain in my theology. The more I learn about God and the Word, the more I realize how much I still need to know.

If you’re looking for the all-knowing-Yoda pastor, husband, or father, keep looking. I ain’t him.

And if my true confession regarding my ignorance concerns you, welcome to the club. I don’t like it either.

However:

  • The upside to not knowing everything is that I’m still growing and learning.

  • The benefit of being ignorant at times is that I still enjoy the process of discovery. (Besides, ignorance truly is bliss on occasion.)

  • The blessing of not having all the answers is that it keeps me humble and dependent. I still need God. I still need others.

  • The advantage of having the key to nothing is it keeps me focused on the only One who truly does have all the keys.

image

One of the biggest hindrances to healthy relationships with others is arrogance. Nobody likes a cocky know-it-all. When we act like we know everything, we tend to alienate everybody.

I suggest that it’s better to say:

  • I don’t know it all, my love, but I know I need you.

  • I don’t have all the answers, my friend, but it’s better if we figure this out together.

  • I don’t understand all the mysteries of this life, God, but that’s why You are God, and I am not.

So maybe—and I say maybe because I may not know what I’m talking about—maybe the real answer to all my problems starts with admitting my inadequacies.

image

Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, being humble and childlike is simply owning my limitations.

By the way, the other side of this coin is the fact that God seems to delight in showing Himself strong through the weak.

Sounds like a good deal to me. I own my need. He shows up.

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

image

Like what you’ve read here today? Check out all five of my books on Amazon.

Some of the eBook versions can be purchased for only $2.99.

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You might also be interested in my newest book for children: Pete the Prodigal Pumpkin! A Good News Halloween Story.

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4 Responses to THE KEY TO NOTHING (Is there really an answer to all your problems?)

  1. Thanks, Kurt. I can also testify that the older I grow the less I know and the more I have to learn. I’m thankful for my heavenly Father who knows everything and promises to share His wisdom if I ask (James 1:5). Keep up the good work!

BUT I LOVE A “GOOD” EXCUSE!  (What not to do when you blow it!)

BUT I LOVE A “GOOD” EXCUSE!  (What not to do when you blow it!)

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There are two words that should never go together: wrong and but.

It’s not okay to say, “I know I was wrong, but you made me do it.” Or, “I was wrong, but it’s not that big of a deal.” Or, “Yeah, I’m wrong, but you’re wronger!” (I know it’s wrong to use wronger, but . . . )
Excuses 1You see, the instant we excuse our words or actions with a but, we fail to honestly and completely own our failure. We excuse the event as either something we couldn’t control, something we’re not able to change, or as something that’s minor compared to what someone else did to us.

This self-defensiveness tendency goes deep in most of us. Matter of fact, the first humans on the planet wrestled with this problem.

Adam eats the forbidden fruit, and he says, “Yeah, I blew it, but the woman You put here with me is to blame.” In other words, God this is Your fault and the doing of that woman!

Eve says, “Oh my, yes, I failed, but the serpent deceived me (the serpent You created, BTW).”

Imagine you and your spouse are having a fight (not too hard to imagine, I imagine). He or she does something stupid or says something that rips your soul to shreds. Some time passes. And then you decide to take the high road and initiate a humble act of restoration.

“Honey, I’m sorry I called you a _______ and threw you into an emotional meat grinder, but you really shouldn’t push my buttons that way.”

How does that make you feel?

Doesn’t it make you wonder if your spouse is sincere? Don’t you question whether or not they truly are sorry? In fact, many times a response like that ends up leading to another round of conflict!

Perhaps it’s better (and trust me, it is) if you just admit your mistake and ask for forgiveness. Anything more brings your authenticity into question.

Rationalization, justification, and even an attempt at clarification (regarding the why) typically only adds insult to injury. It also calls into doubt your sincerity.

Excuses 2

But what if you’re not the only one at fault? What if you honestly didn’t create this situation, and your spouse is more to blame for what happened than you are?

Here’s what I suggest: at another time, and after the storm of emotions have passed, then say, “Honey, can we talk? I need to understand something about what happened the other day.”

By putting time and space between your admission of guilt and your concern over the other person’s complicity, you give everyone the opportunity to pause, reflect, and respond rather than react.

Of course, the best of both worlds is when your spouse immediately replies to your apology with, “I blew it too. Please forgive me.”

However, in my experience, especially when people are hurt, it’s best to simply humble yourself and take personal responsibility with no “but” attached.

Besides, as I frequently mention, being right doesn’t matter if you’re not relational first and foremost.

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

Excuses 3

Humble yourselves before the Lord,

and he will lift you up in honor.

James 4:10 (NLT)

Like what you’ve read here today? Check out all five of my books on Amazon.

Some of the eBook versions can be purchased for only $2.99.

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You might also be interested in my newest book for children: Pete the Prodigal Pumpkin! A Good News Halloween Story.

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4 Responses to BUT I LOVE A “GOOD” EXCUSE!  (What not to do when you blow it!)

  1. One of my favorite quotes is from Craig Groeshel in his book; Weird, because normal isn’t working. He says” we judged others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.” After all I really MEANT to do something special for our anniversary. Right Kurt?

  2. Three and half years ago I had a great excuse to stop attending East Point Church. The Church had tryouts for the drama department and I graciously accepted the opportunity since acting was very much a part of my college years. In fact, I played two lead roles for the SCC drama department. However, my audition apparently didn’t go well and I was not invited to join the team. My feelings were hurt and of course everyone was wrong in the Church and attending East Point Church was not on my happy list.
    After mulling over my resentment for a couple of weeks, I heard that little voice in my heart from God giving me specific instructions to be involved, or help the Church. My task was to volunteer vacuuming the youth auditorium on a weekly basis. Very humbling.
    I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve God in this manner and would like to share an epiphany or word from God that happened to me just a couple of weeks ago.
    I was vacuuming the auditorium one day and something occurred to me. For the last three and half years I have been on stage every week. Although, I do not receive applause for my efforts, I also do not receive any boo’s.
    I’m glad I didn’t use an excuse to leave East Point because attending this Church has been nothing but positive, enriching and Spirit filled. Thank you for the lessons

THE MECHANICS OF LOVE (This is not as boring as it sounds.)

THE MECHANICS OF LOVE (This is not as boring as it sounds.)

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Love is more than an emotionSome say love is an emotion, maybe even an uncontrollable passion or desire. Many define love as a tangible intangible, something we know and feel but find hard to define or describe.

As if walking in and out of Taco Bell, mucho people fall in and out of love. On a good day, they are consumed with warm fuzzies for their hunk or hottie. They’ll post on Facebook or Twitter, “Isn’t he adorable?” “My babe is awesome!” But on the not-so-good days, their minds wonder and their hearts wander. “Maybe I can do better.”

Not too long ago, I asked a 20-something to define love in her world. She instantly replied, “Love is like when all I can think about is him and like all I want to do is be with him because he like makes me so happy.”

For her, love was a feeling—an emotional high that made her ecstatic.

I asked her, “What are you going to do when you go days or weeks or months and he’s not making you so happy anymore?”

She laughed and said, “That would never happen with us, but if it did, he’d regret it!”

Love is more than convenience

Recently, I read an article about love, written by Hanan Parvez . Here’s what he said:

  • “Love is an emotion that motivates us to seek happiness.”

  • “Why do we fall in love with someone . . . because they satisfy our emotional needs.”

  • “We fall in love with those who have what we need.”

Our culture says love is fun. Love is about feeling good. Love is erotic. Love is about being happy and having our needs met. Love is what it is, and it can’t be manufactured. Love is about me.

I disagree.

Love is work

In fact, before you exit this blog and look for the unsubscribe button, give me five more minutes and read on.

What if love is a choice?

What if love goes beyond, way beyond, feelings and emotions, and is based on something far more secure and steadfast?

What if love can be manufactured?

Let me explain.

In my over forty years of marriage, there have been times (lots of them) when I’m emotionally spent and easily irritated. There are times (many of them) when I’m not sure my wife and I even like each other let alone love each other. Frankly, if I were to define love the way our society does, then I’ve fallen in and out of love with Laura hundreds of times.

If my love for my wife is based solely on my feelings, then our marriage is destined to fail. However, if my love for Laura is built on and driven by something far more than emotion, then neither the state of my heart nor any circumstances we face will derail our bond.

Do I deny the emotions often attached to love?

No.

Am I saying you should love like a robot that is programmed to do so without any feelings?

No.

What I am saying is that love, true love for my wife, is a decision I made to invest in her, to care for her, and to honor our marriage. It is a resolve to stand on a covenant of choice in our marriage rather than a contract of convenience.

Love is a decision

When I feel nothing, I love. I choose to do what’s best for her and our marriage.

When I feel irritated, I love. I choose to treat her as I want to be treated. (It’s called the golden rule, and it applies to marriage.)

When I’m bored and there’s not a lot (or any) passion, I love. I choose to honor my vow to “love and cherish—no matter what.”

It’s exciting and erotic when I feel great passion for my wife. It’s easy to love her when she’s easy to love. It’s awesome when she makes me happy and meets my needs.

But sometimes . . .

  • Love requires sacrifice.

  • Love means putting her needs before my own.

  • Love is a choice to do what’s right even when I’ve been wronged.

  • Love is an intentional decision to honor our marriage and my vows.

Love is sacrifice

When I say, “love can be manufactured,” I mean love can be built and developed through personal choice. When I refer to the “mechanics of love,” what I have in mind is that love is created and best maintained in a covenant marriage in which you and I choose to practice love no matter what.

By the way, if you’re screaming, “That’s hypocritical!” then maybe no one’s told you before that choice should be the engine of life and emotion the caboose. When we allow emotion to drive us, we typically get into trouble. However, when we make good choices, more often than not good and healthy emotions follow.

We do the right thing again and again because it’s the holy and right thing to do. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven, not because it’s easy. We love because God has loved us, not because it’s fun or convenient.

And I can promise you this: Your choice is the engine that will keep your marriage on track and take you over the mountains of adversity.

Choosing to love is not hypocritical; it’s wise and godly and the only secure path to a long and lasting marriage.

How you feel matters, but what you choose to do regardless of how you feel matters far more.

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

Love is not hypocritial

For this is the message you heard from the beginning:

We should love one another.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid

down his life for us.

And we ought to lay down our lives for our

brothers and sisters.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech

but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:11, 16, 18 (NIV)

 

Like what you’ve read here today? Check out all five of my books on Amazon. Some of the eBook versions can be purchased for only $2.99.

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You might also be interested in my newest book for children: Pete the Prodigal Pumpkin! A Good News Halloween Story.

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12 Responses to THE MECHANICS OF LOVE (This is not as boring as it sounds.)

  1. I watch lots of folks in my generation live by the seat of their emotional pants, and have a trail of destruction behind to remember it by…and they still think it’s the “correct” way to live!

    • Hmmmm…I like that phrase (might have to steal it) — and yes, you’re right, too many “live by the seat of their emotional pants.” Thanks dude!

  2. Thank you for ur honest words…these are things I strive for in my own marriage…it’s VERY hard & even more so when I see my brother in law just give up..saying he does not want to stay married to his wife…he has & is engaged in bad things outside of marriage & wants to be “free” to pursue them…. I’m stunned..I am angry(but this isn’t about me) & my hurt for my sister in law… I want SO BAD to show him these articles/blogs…I want to show him my copy of your book mr & Mrs…but I don’t know if that is something I should do…, I shouldn’t put my two cents into something that is none of my business… I just can’t believe that they are divorcing because my brother in law thinks he needs to be “free”.. I just can’t believe this is a side I never EVER saw of him in the 20+ years I have been married into the family… I don’t know who this person is that says he is my brother in law…& yes, I do pray for him & his soon to be ex-wife that they find peace with Gods help…even though neither go to church….I DO understand this shouldn’t be about me..although reading back over this it sounds like it is…I’ve just never been this close to a breakup up of loved ones before… REALLY… I have no clue how to deal…I LOVE my sister in law & want to keep HER in my life & my kids lives..& shamefully have not very nice words to say about my brother in law & his selfishness but I have sat & listened with out comment when my sister in law wanted to talk…I’m just kinda glad reading minds isn’t a reality because I was not nice in my thinking about HIM..
    Why is commitment such a HARD word to follow thru on?? Why is it so hard to open your heart to ONE person before God & follow they on that promise forever?
    Why? why ? Why ???

  3. This goes very well with a previous post I gave you about my Dad caring for my Mom with dementia. I, too, try very hard to follow but must admit I could never do it on my own ability, without the Holy Spirit it is impossible. I hope and pray my own sons have got the message.

  4. What happens if you are in a relationship where one person is a believer and the other is not. The one that believes they married for better or worse feels “obligated” or even guilt for not sticking around hoping they could pull through yet another disappointment. Do they remain in a “roller coaster” relationship hoping things will change if the other party will not try to get the help they need? This is my dilemma. I love this blog and would like to share it but I’m afraid it will make the “believer” feel guilt. The unhappiness remains and nothing changes.

    • Hi Bonnie, great questions. All marriages are work. A marriage with an unbeliever is even more so. That being said, I would still encourage the believing partner to honor his/her vows as best as possible regardless of the other. Our first love is Jesus, and He takes marriage and our vows seriously. Honestly, in his situation, the believer should seek out pastoral/godly counsel even if his/her partner refuses to go. Obviously, it’s tough to address the specifics of this situation in a brief blog response, however, here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say:

      1 Corinthians 7:12-16The Voice (VOICE)

      12-13 To everyone else, here’s my counsel (this is not a direct command from the Lord; it is my opinion): if a brother has a wife who does not believe Jesus’ teachings and the truth of His resurrection, he is to stay with her as long as she is willing to live with him. The same is true for any sister; you should not leave your husband even if he has no allegiance to Jesus. 14 Here’s the reason: An unbelieving husband is consecrated by that union—touched by the grace of God through his believing wife—and the same is true when the husband is a man of faith and he’s wed to an unbelieving wife. His wife is consecrated through their union. If this weren’t so, your children wouldn’t be pure; but as it is when faith enters in, God sets apart these children to be used uniquely for His purposes. 15 If the unbelieving spouse decides the marriage is over, then let him or her go; the believing partner is freed from the marital vows because God has called you to peace. 16 Remember that anything is possible, so the life you lead and the love you show under this strain may be what finally liberates your partner.

      Hope this helps. Praying…

      • Thank you Kurt for your response. I agree that the believer should seek pastoral/godly counsel despite their spouse’s belief. However, there are other factors such as alcohol and possible PTSD that come into play that makes me wonder how much a person can/ should tolerate.

        • Sounds like a very tough situation. Coming from a home/family with drug/alcohol abuse, I know how difficult this is for a marriage and a family. However, the only “circumstance” Jesus gave as a “out” in marriage is adultery. Again, that being said, a pastor or Christian counselor can (and will) be able to help someone determine how to best walk through this extremely difficult problem. It’s hard to provide adequate and complete counsel/perspective in a reply to a blog post. You might consider taking a look at my marriage book: Mr. & Mrs. ~ How to Thrive in a Perfectly Imperfect Marriage. I address covenant marriage and divorce in this book. Still praying…

The Art of Being Grand! (If you’re a grandparent, this one is for you.)

The Art of Being Grand! (If you’re a grandparent, this one is for you.)

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Grandparenting

Okay, if you’re not a grandparent, you can close this link and go surf the web, or use this time to play a video game. In other words, feel free to stop reading because this post is not for you.

However, if you have the honor and privilege of being a grandpa or grandma (which also includes Nanny, Poppy, Ona, Pa, Mimsy, Gramps, etc.), then read on because this might be right on for you.

As a young man, I never imagined my life as a grandpa. For decades, I was still trying to figure out how to be a dad. Then grandchildren happened. Again. And again. (I’ll spare you the other five agains.) I’m now up to seven grandchildren with another one on the way.

Only a grandparent can understand the joy I experience every day as Grandpa. It’s incredible.

Grand Kissing

I’m also learning a few things about my role as grandpa that you might find helpful:

  • Be the grandparent, not the parent. It’s tempting to take on the role in the lives of my grandkids that God gave to my adult children (the parents). As a parent myself, I learned a few things, but as a grandparent I sometimes inappropriately cross the line with my unsolicited parental opinions. Yes, I might know some things about raising children that my kids haven’t figured out yet. However, the best way for my kids to learn how to raise their kids (key concept—their kids) is for me to shut up and let them learn the way I learned—through life experience. Of course, on those rare occasions when your son or daughter asks for your thoughts, share them with moderation and humility (and try not to smile too much).

Grand Boundaries Be intentional about investing in your grandchildren. They don’t know it yet, but you’re a fountain of wisdom for your grandkids. Yes, times have changed. Yes, they certainly will be more technologically advanced by kindergarten than we ever will be. Yes, you might not be able to remember what you said yesterday, and you might smell funny. (They have no appreciation for Old Spice.) But there are timeless truths about human nature and life that you and I can and should pass along to the generations in our wake. By the way, showing them is even better than telling them; your life should speak volumes.

Grand Intentional

  • Know your role and embrace it with joy. A Psychology Today article identifies five types of grandparents: the formal grandparent, the fun seeker, the surrogate parent, the reservoir of family wisdom, and the distant figure. Whatever your role, rather than fight it, choose to make the best of it and accept your place with thankfulness and joy. My Grandpa Bubna was a distant person in my life, but my Grandma was a significant part of my early life. Both grandparents, however, had a lasting impact on me. It seemed they both knew their place in my life and they embraced it. As someone once said, “Be who you is or you is who you ain’t.” In other words, stop comparing yourself to others and simply be the best grandparent possible in whatever role and function you have in the life of your grandchildren.

Grand Be Who You Is

  • Decide to be a learner, not just a teacher. No matter how old I am or how much I think I know, I want to be a lifelong learner. I want my children and grandchildren to see me as teachable—open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. The other day, I learned something about math from my nine-year-old granddaughter (seriously). She got a kick out of teaching me. I got to show her that Grandpa is not so old that he is cranky and set in his ways. If I want them to listen and learn from me, I probably ought to listen and learn from them.

Grand Learner

Grandparenting truly is grand. My kids and their kids are an amazing gift to me—a gift I never want to take for granted.

By the way, I’ve concluded that my most important role is that of a praying grandparent. The last thing I want to be is a grumpy old fart who always complains, “This generation has no idea how good they have it!”

It’s simply best to pray. Pray for protection. Pray for your grandkids’ spiritual development and growth in wisdom. Pray that early in life they will fall madly in love with Jesus and that their future mates will, too.

And pray that someday, when they’re at your funeral, they will stand up and say, “Grandpa/Grandma taught me how to love God and live life.”

That’s my greatest hope as a grandparent. That’s the legacy I want to pass on to my children and my children’s children. What an honor.

Okay, time to put my teeth in and go love on my grandbabies!

Grand Praying

 Grandchildren are the crowning glory

and ultimate delight of old age.”

Proverbs 17:6 (VOICE)

 

Like what you’ve read here today? Check out all five of my books on Amazon. Some of the eBook versions can be purchased for only $2.99.

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Speaking of grandkids! You might be interested in my newest book for children: Pete the Prodigal Pumpkin! A Good News Halloween Story.

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