Category Archives: Marriage

More conversation… less condemnation

From a blog post by Perry Noble who says it so well.
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Ben & Jerry’s, Chick-fil-A & Political Correctness

Let me begin by saying I absolutely LOVE Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. (Gonna go ahead and tell you that Oatmeal Cookie Chunk is THE BEST flavor I’ve EVER had!!)

A few years ago I went to Wal Mart (the closest thing to hell I can imagine…that and the DMV), found my favorite flavor and decided to tweet that I was purchasing some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream…and doing so “unleashed the hounds” in a sense. Honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like it, “Christians” began @ replying me on twitter condemning me and scolding me for buying this product because apparently Ben & Jerry’s supported gay rights/same sex marriage.

Honestly, it bothered me. Because, first of all…I wasn’t trying to make a political statement I was simply trying to get some chunky monkey and some oatmeal cookie crunch. I like ice cream…I believe it will be served in heaven (with ZERO calories)! And second, it has broken my heart the way that many who claim to follow Christ have treated those who are homosexuals. We’ve yelled at them, ignored them and in some cases damned them to hell without EVER sitting down and actually having a conversation with someone who is gay.

“But Perry,” you say, “the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin.” Let me put my cards on the table and say that I agree; however, for too long the church has seemed to be obsessed with the sins that we do not struggle with; after all, if I am pointing out the sins of others I don’t have to deal with my own.

People have taken me to I Corinthians 6:9-11 before and said, “look, the Bible says that homosexuals will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.” I always try my best to point out that also included in that list are…

  • The sexually immoral (anyone been watching porn?)
  • Idolaters (anyone love anyone or anything more than Jesus?)
  • Adulterers (see Matthew 5:27-28)
  • Thieves
  • The greedy (uh oh!)
  • Drunkards (tailgating season is quickly approaching)
  • Slanderers (uh oh, a lot of bloggers and women’s Bible studies are in trouble!)
  • After looking at this list I would say we are all pretty much screwed unless Jesus intervenes.

And…while I am at it why don’t I just go ahead and throw out that gluttony is way more of a problem in the church today than homosexuality!!! (Please see Proverbs 23:2…pretty intense!!! ONLY in the church can people that are huge condemn people who are homosexual and somehow feel like that they are spiritually superior!)

Do I hate homosexuals or have a “homophobia?” Absolutely not! (And, let me be VERY clear that as a child I was molested…TWICE…by men who were older than me. I have no idea if they were or are practicing homosexuals…but I can honestly say that I have forgiven them and do not think that because of what they did to me that homosexuals are bad people!)

So, if a company or an organization wants to support gay rights/same sex marriage I don’t believe that Christians should boycott and/or protest them (come on people, has that REALLY worked for us in the past?) Jesus went after the hearts of people far from Him through conversation, not condemnation. Yes, sin must be called what it is, even as the risk of offending people: however, when it is done so with a hateful spirit then Jesus is NOT exalted, thus making the confrontation of sin sinful!

We live in America…and people have the right to say what they want to say…

Which brings me to Chick-fil-A…

I love Chick-fil-A…I probably eat there no less than five times a week (no, I am not making that up!) The fact that Truett Cathy has built a business from the ground up and has sought to honor Jesus every step of the way is an inspiration to me. Every Chick-fil-A I’ve ever been in has excellent food and excellent customer service…and I believe I read the other day that they made 4.1 billion dollars last year (not bad!)

Recently Dan Cathy (the current CEO) was asked about his stance on same sex marriage. He did not issue any inflammatory remarks. He did not attempt to call anyone by any derogatory names. He was not hateful in his comments. He did not say that people who are gay would not be hired and/or served at Chick-Fil-A restaurants. He simply stated that he holds to the traditional/biblical view of marriage (which is his right as an American citizen.) And it seemed the world lost its mind.

It’s quite sad really that those who scream for tolerance seem to be intolerant of anyone who does not hold to their particular view.

No one in the media screamed “foul” when corporations came out in support of same sex marriage; however, when one company spoke out against it in a non condemning tone people were calling for a boycott…even provoking the mayor of the city of Boston to say that Chick-Fil-A was not welcome in the city. (Uh…wow, talk about tolerance! Honestly, I believe the city of Boston needs Chick-fil-A way more than Chick-fil-A needs the city of Boston!)

All I am saying is this…I believe as an American everyone has the right to free speech. I also believe as a Christian we have the right to speak the truth in love as it applies to the Scriptures and should not fear doing so because we may be perceived as politically incorrect. Biblical truth (IN LOVE) always trumps political correctness. Honestly, I respect and admire Mr. Cathy as he took a very unpopular stand on one of the most controversial matters of our day. AND…as I’ve stated before, he did it with a non-condemning attitude.

It simply needs to be pointed out that people on both sides of this argument have been way less than civil with each other…which does nothing more than proves the insecurity in us if we feel like we have to “lower the boom” on people who do not see exactly as we see.

Honestly, it is my prayer that people on both sides of the argument would stop yelling at each other and talking about one another and actually sit down and talk to one another understanding that just because two people do not agree on an issue does not mean they have the right to hate one another for it. Conversation is NOT compromise…it’s actually Christ like! And our world would be a MUCH better place if those who called themselves Christians would step up and lead the way in this, understanding John 3:17 is the attitude that we are called to have!

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Thanks Perry! May we give ourselves to more conversation and less condemnation.

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Filed under Christianity, Conflict, Culture, Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Homosexuality, Marriage, Political Correctness, Truth

Immeasurably More!

Have you seen the new commercial by a well-known do-it-yourself store when a couple rushes into a big house where the walls are covered with nothing but white paper?

They are both carrying markers and when they draw the outline of an object on the blank wall it immediately pops into reality. A new appliance, some pieces of hardware, a new window or door.

As a guy with a carpentry background who struggles to complete remodeling projects on our old farm-house in a timely fashion I would love one of those magic markers.

But the point of the commercial is that this particular do-it-yourself store can take whatever you imagine and make it real. How cool is that?! But I’ve got one better.

In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul prays for them to be rooted and established in love and able to fully grasp the width, length, height and depth of the love of Christ. Then he makes this amazing statement:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

Paul has own unique way with words. How do you calculate “immeasurably more”? Whatever it is, God can do it with whatever we ask or imagine.

Obviously, this is not a promise to satisfy our own wants and desires. And our ability to imagine tends to grow smaller as we age. But in keeping with God’s kingdom purposes, what can you imagine God accomplishing?

  • Healing for a wreaked marriage?
  • Boldness to share the hope of Christ with those who don’t know Him?
  • Wisdom and grace for parents dealing with a rebellious child?
  • Real peace for a heart troubled with worry?
  • Freedom from addictions or sinful habits?
  • Better choices made by a rebellious child?
  • The hard-hearted person finally opening up to receive God’s gift of grace?
  • Character and integrity in those who serve in our government?
  • Courage to forgive those who have hurt us?
  • A renewed love of God for those who claim Jesus as Lord?

God delights to bring all manner of new life and restored hope because He loves us more than we can begin to fathom. The question is…

… what is it that we ask God for or imagine Him doing?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Courage, Family, Forgiveness, Glory of God, Grace, Hope, Imagination, influence with the world, Love of God, Marriage, Parenting, Peace, Prayer, Revival, Sin, Trusting God

What giving up my wife for Lent has taught me

When people discuss what they gave up for Lent I mention that I gave up my wife… at least for part of it!

Earlier this week Susan flew out to San Diego to be with Valerie and Aaron – our daughter-in-law and grandson; since Sam, our #2 son, is gone for two months of training with the Marines.

So to help break up the long stretch for them, and soak up sunshine and warm weather for herself, Susan is spending three weeks out west. Kyrsten – one of our daughters – is with her for a week but will fly back next Monday.

Three weeks!

We’re also referring to it as The Great Experiment because in nearly 29 years of marriage and family life Susan has never been gone that long.

Will Susan be able to endure all the sunshine and warmth and uninterrupted time with Valerie and Aaron? Probably.

Will those of us back home in Indiana survive three weeks without the mama? More or less. It’s a toss-up as to who is missing Mom more – Brynden, our youngest (12 years old) or Thor – Susan’s Yorkie!

So what have we learned from The Great Experiment so far?

Fewer people in the house makes for:

  • less activity
  • less noise
  • less mess

No big surprise there. But I’ve also learned that it means I have to be more human.

While I care about everyone and usually ask how their day was, Susan is the one who is more emotionally engaged with them on a daily basis.

I can do crisis intervention, mediate conflicts, and general house maintenance. But I don’t really give myself to being engaged in the little, day-to-day things that make up most of life.

Sure I listen and even respond, but I’m not intentionally connecting on a deeper level.

So I’m learning that I need to be more emotionally available, more in tune, more engaged, more human.

I hadn’t realized how easy it is to come home from work and be here without really being here!

That might be status quo or normal for many guys/dads, but I think God has bigger plans for us. We have a more significant role to play in the lives of our family. We are to love as He loves and that begins with our family!

“No amount of success outside the home makes up for failure inside the home.”

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Family, Lent, Loving others, Marriage, Parenting

Keeping our vows

The Vow is a movie that came out in theatres a week and a half ago. It is based on Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s story. Since I’ve not seen the movie I’m not endorsing it but simply referring to it.

According to the Carpenters, the romantic movie is not even close to telling the true story of faith and commitment that has kept them devoted to each other for 20 years.

It began 10 weeks after their wedding on Sept. 18, 1993 when a serious automobile accident left Krickitt with no memories of her husband or their new marriage.

A severe brain trauma wiped out 18 months of her life — the entire time she and Kim met, dated and married.

While he was still madly in love with her, he was a stranger she wanted nothing to do with.

The glue that kept them together was their faith in Christ and the promise they had made before God.

“Both of us know unconditionally we would not have made it through this ordeal without the Lord being in the center of it all,” says Kim Carpenter.

Krickitt spent months in a coma and then months more in physical therapy, but she has never regained those 18 months of memory. Her recovery was slow, her personality changed and at times she told Kim she hated him.

“At a low point in my life, I didn’t think this marriage was going to work. I didn’t have the faith that we were going to make it,” Kim said. “At the same time, I wasn’t going to leave her in the state she was in; I was vowing to stay with her.”

The media first learned of their story when a reporter came to interview Kim about his work as a baseball coach. In the course of the conversation, the story came out.

When the Carpenters renewed their vows at a second wedding in 1996, it was a media frenzy. People were amazed and encouraged by their story, so Krickitt asked God to use their story to show others His amazing love and power.

“We enjoyed the movie but we were a little frustrated by the artistic license they took,” Kim said. “The dramatization in the movie was much greater, but it is hard to put 20 years of challenges into 103 minutes.”

Krickitt’s faith never faltered, and she never considered divorce.

“A Scripture I really hold onto is Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ I believed I was called according to God’s purpose, and I followed with my whole heart,” she said.

Kim said he has taken offense to some of the media reporting him as “heroic, courageous, manly.” They insist they are an ordinary couple with two children, Danny and LeeAnn.

“It is amazing we live in a world that there is such a big deal made about a man and woman who simply did what we said we were going to do,” Kim said.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Commitment, Courage, Determination, Faith, Inspiration, Loyalty, Marriage

Some relationship advice for Valentines Day – Ask more than once!

Mark Gungor is a pastor with a passion for healthy marriages. His “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” is rediculously funny and incredibly insightful. Susan and I have seen him live and we’ve watched the DVD’s. You can watch some of his other video clips on Youtube if you enjoy this one or visit his web site here.

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Filed under Humor, Marriage

God of my… some things

At one time I trusted God with everything; my marriage, my family, my work, my friendships, etc. I was confident that His plans were better than my plans. Life and faith in God were simple and straight-forward.

But somewhere along the way things got out-of-hand.

  • Pressures of life began to squeeze our marriage and less time together meant less of a foundation to stand together against the various assaults that came at us. There were times when we were ready to throw in the towel and quit!
  • As the kids got bigger and ventured out into the world there were new struggles with kids that were cruel and situations that were unfair but beyond our control.
  • Unhealthy work environments began to sap my passion for ministry and without realizing it I slipped into “survival mode.”
  • And then there’s the issue of people! I know how messed up and hurtful human beings can be because I am one. Relationships that don’t get handled well don’t fix themselves or go away; they come back to bite you in the butt!

In short… life got messy and complicated!

What happens when our current faith in God gets trumped by our circumstances of life? Ancient believers referred to this experience as the “dark night of the soul” – a crisis of faith that either destroys our trust in God or drives us deeper into Him.

My first encounter with this was a bit daunting! But I’ve come to embrace this as a healthy and normal part of our journey with God. I’m learning not to dread such moments but to see them as an invitation from God to go deeper in my trust of Him.

The song God of My Everything by Bebo Norman has come to be a powerful reminder that no matter how complicated life gets or how out-of-control it might seem, I can still trust God with everything. If the video below doesn’t play then click here.

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Filed under Commitment, Doubt, Faith, Family, God, intimacy with the Lord, Life in General, Marriage, Music Video, Parenting, Trusting God, Work

Don’t put Jesus first this year!*

Here’s my best advice as we head into a new year.

Don’t put Jesus first this year!

No – that’s not a typo and yes – I’m serious. But before you write me off as having lost my mind please hear me out.

It’s fairly common, at the start of a new year, to pause and evaluate the past year. This usually leads us to a renewed commitment to follow after Jesus and it tends to look like this:

1.  God/Jesus
2.  Family
3.  Vocation/work

The problem is that a list like this tends to compartmentalize life in a way that doesn’t fit neatly into a real, ordinary day.

I take calls from my family when I’m at the office and I occasionally do office stuff when I’m home with the family. And separate time alone with God doesn’t always work first thing in the morning when an urgent phone call wakes me up and I have to attend to something related to work or a family member.

The neat and tidy list of 1, 2, 3 seldom fits into an ordinary day and tends to take Jesus out of those places that we most need Him!

As Steven Furtick puts it: “You end up removing Jesus from where you spend the majority of your time and putting Him on an island by Himself. The biggest island maybe, but an island nonetheless.”

Colossians 1:15-20 describes how Christ Jesus is supreme. It spells out how everything – both visible and invisible – was created through Him and for Him. How everything was reconciled through Him and how all of creation is held together by Him and in Him.

Jesus is supreme because He is at the center of everything!

So instead of putting Jesus first, let’s make Him the center of everything in our lives.

Not Jesus first and then my marriage but Jesus in the center of my marriage! Not Jesus first and then my kids but Jesus in the center of my kids! Not Jesus first and then my vocation but Jesus in the center of my work!

What would it look like for Jesus to be at the center of every aspect of our lives?

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* The seed idea for this blog came from Steven Furtick

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Filed under Choices, Commitment, Discipleship, Family, God's Will, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Marriage, New Years, Priorities, Work

How to bless your spouse!

Susan and I are celebrating 28 years of marriage today!

It doesn’t seem possible and it hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had our fair share of struggles but it has been more than worth it. I’m convinced that a vital element of our longevity, and any long-term marriage, is being each others best friends.

We haven’t gotten it all figured out but we are continuing to work at it. Every marriage has room to grow in this area of friendship so I’m passing along three suggestions I recently came across.

1. Make a list of what you would want in a best friend. Perhaps your list would look something like this:

Prospective candidates for best friend will:

  • Make me feel good about being me.
  • Affirm my best qualities (especially when I am feeling insecure)
  • Call out the best in me, and hold me accountable to the best version of myself.
  • Listen without judging or trying to fix me.
  • Give me the benefit of the doubt.
  • Extend grace to me when I am grumpy or having a bad day.
  • Remember my birthday, favorite foods, music, and art.
  • Know my story and love me regardless.
  • Spend time with me, just because they enjoy my company.
  • Speak well of me when I am not present.
  • Serve me with a joyful spirit and without complaining.
  • Speak the truth to me when no one else will.
  • Never shame me, diminish me, or make me feel small.
  • Become excited about what I am excited about.
  • Celebrate my wins!

2. Commit to becoming that person for your spouse. That’s right! Turn the table. Don’t be preoccupied with getting but follow Jesus’ example of giving and love as He loved us (John 15:12). When a couple focuses on getting what they want first then both go away disappointed. But when they give themselves to loving the other person first, they both go away content.

3. Keep at it! It won’t always be easy but with God’s help it will always be possible. Let God use your marriage as a living testimony of His grace and love in action!

And one more thing! Pass this along to your married friends who could use the encouragement!

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Filed under Friendship, Loving others, Marriage

Friday Funny! Tim Hawkins – Things you don’t say to your wife

If the video doesn’t appear or play properly click here.

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Filed under Humor, Just for fun, Marriage

It’s as simple as holding hands

Touch is absolutely essential to human beings. Just holding hands, sharing a hug, giving a pat on the back, a hand on the arm or other simple touches can have a tremendous impact on our mental and physical well-being; not to mention the state of our relationships. The opposite is equally true.

Babies deprived of touch don’t develop normally because certain connections in the brain actually disappear. Orphans who receive very little touch often die as a result, and those who survive can experience permanent physical and/or mental retardation.

Kids who don’t get enough touch often grow up to become aggressive and antisocial adults. Older adults who don’t get enough touch also suffer, becoming senile sooner, and dying earlier.

We’re all affected by touch, and it’s not “all in the mind”; rather it’s the result of complex hormonal responses which actually change our bodies and brains. The primary hormone involved in this amazing process is called oxytocin.

We of course need to be mindful of appropriate touch and not violating someone’s personal space. But we shouldn’t let that concern stop us from the kind of healthy, beneficial touching that God wired into us.

A recent poll of 4,000 couples found that those spouses who described themselves as “very happy” tended to hug one another at least four times a day. Think you’re doing that in your marriage? Go ahead. Keep track for a few days. You might be surprised at what you discover.

The same is certainly true with our other family members, close friends and daily acquaintances. Touch not only creates positive emotional and physical changes within that person, but it creates positive feelings in that particular relationship.

I think that’s why I like the time our church family takes to greet one another at the start of every worship gathering. Some might consider it old school or old-fashioned; I consider it just plain healthy for a variety of reasons.

Go ahead! Love on someone today!

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Filed under Family, Friendship, influence with the world, Loving others, Marriage, Parenting