Friday, January 31, 2014

Dancing Flower Girl For Hire!

Steven learned to play the guitar about five months ago.  He loves playing it!  When he was home for Christmas, he bought a used one and played it a lot.  Whenever Emma was here, she would immediately begin dancing as soon as he began playing.

During Ryan and Cassi's wedding after Ken had given his message, he told us that Ryan and Cassi would privately pray together and say some private vows to each other while Steven played his guitar to 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.

It was a very precious time.  Ryan and Cassi had their arms wrapped around each other and put their heads close to each other the entire song.  As soon as Steven began strumming his guitar, Emma bolted up the isle and took Alyssa's hand, who was the Matron of Honor, and asked Alyssa to dance with her!

Of course Alyssa couldn't at this time, but that didn't deter Emma in the least.  She began twirling and dancing with her arms waving high in the sky the whole song.  She danced around the bridesmaids and Ryan and Cassi.  We all couldn't help giggling.

During the father and daughter dance, she once again ran up on stage and began dancing around Ken and Cassi the entire dance, waving her arms, kicking her feet high in the air and having a wonderful time!  That girl knows how to party!

Children bring such an element of joy and fun to events.  Emma was Cassi's flower girl and Baby Kenny was the ring bearer.  Both Ryan and Erin were in the bridal party so all four of them walked up the isle together at the beginning of the ceremony.  Usually everyone stands for the bride but I stood for these four also, since I wanted to watch them the whole way down!

God is good.  He loves for His children to celebrate and be merry!  He created marriage, children, dancing, and food.  This was a special day and will live long in many of our hearts.

Let them praise his name with dancing, 
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
Psalm 149:3

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Lord Had Mercy Upon Me

Three weeks before the wedding, I got very sick.  It started with my head pain being almost unbearable.  Then my sensitive gut acted up so I sat around home all day with an ice pack on my head and a heating pad on my gut.  It was getting closer and closer to the wedding and I was not feeling any better.

A week before the wedding, I finally put out an SOS to all my family and friends that I needed prayer so I would feel good enough to go to the wedding.  As the wedding neared, I was barely having any relief.  We were told that the tumor can swell after radiation and this could be causing the pain or my hormones were going wacky from potential damage to my pituitary.  Regardless of the reason, I was thinking I would not be able to go to the wedding.

The rehearsal dinner was at my home.  Everyone knew that I was unavailable to do much to help.  When my home was filled with the bridal party, my head was throbbing.  I got a pack of ice and went up into my bedroom to ice my head.  About 15 minutes later, I came down and was able to enjoy the evening!

The next day, my head was better but my gut was still not that good.  We got ready for the wedding not knowing how long I would be able to stay.  The wedding began at 3:30 and I was able to stay until 8:30!  The only thing I missed was Ryan and Cassi getting in the car and driving away.

God had mercy upon me and I am so very thankful.  He heard the cry of the many precious people who were lifting me up in prayer.  What a wonderful celebration I was able to witness and so many friends was I able to hug.  God is so very good to me.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, 
and his ears are open unto their cry...
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, 
and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
Psalm 34:15,17

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Self-Discipline of a One Flesh Marriage

Lori’s posts questioning Should Husbands Ever Discipline Their Wives? created quite a bit of excitement last week. I am writing this post today because I have sent her to her room without lunch to discipline her for posting such controversial things. At least she should not be publishing them while she is suffering with brutal headaches when I am out of town and cannot support her! 

It is an amazing thing to see how Christian women respond to a husband’s attempt to discipline his wife as illustrated by Sunshine Mary’s missing dishwasher. In her recent post, Sunshine Mary did a great job of putting it all into perspective to show how some Christian women really think about a husband’s role and responsibility as head and leader of the marriage. It shows that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to change the thinking and behavior of Christian wives if they desire to follow the leadership of a loving Christian husband.

Why are Christian men impotent when it comes to leading their marriage forward?  Well, read the Facebook comments as listed in Sunshine Mary's Post and you will quickly see ten reasons why a Christian husband is often powerless to provide much true leadership. Instead, he is often the follower in the marriage.

Okay, Lori is not in her room or being disciplined, but it is almost humorous to read the responses of Christian women concerning a husband’s obligation to instill self-discipline within the Christian marriage. Lori and I do not claim to have all the answers to this important topic, nor do we expect you to submit to us on this subject, as one reader has accused. We simply want to help marriages think through how much authority and leadership should a wife submit to, especially if her husband is a godly Christian man

Because if a wife will not follow, will not submit, not listen nor obey, how can the husband lead?  If a godly wife who wants a godly marriage decides each day what is, and is not acceptable from her husband’s leadership, who is really leading her?

I have personally lived as a loving, imperfect Christian husband for 33 years now, and I can tell you that for some 20 of those years I was much more submissive to Lori than she was to me. Why? Read Sunshine Mary’s post and see the ten reasons why, and especially number 10. I was afraid that my godly wife would rebel and maybe put me in the dishwasher or punish me for my attempts at leadership. More than that I was told by other godly men that all I could do was love her. This was so wrong!  Love from a husband that does not lead and sanctify his wife is not true love at all.

I wrote this in response to one of the comments ~
Certainly the idea of a husband disciplining a wife is foreign to you, yet the irony is that your husband probably punishes you regularly. Most husbands and wives do it, or in my case did it. As soon as we do not like something our spouse is doing we punish with our words, moods, anger and snide remarks. We punish with our silence and by withholding love and affection. In the average marriage, and even the Christian marriage, such punishments are given often, and sometimes every day.

How do we break out of the cycle of punishment and into a loving and godly marriage?  By doing things God’s ways.  It was Karen who brought up the very important and correct Biblical view that when a man and woman get married they become ONE, and one flesh. And Karen asks, “Who disciplines their own flesh?”

Well, I do. And I venture to say that almost every reasonable and successful person in life, Christian or non-christian also disciplines their own flesh. As a matter of fact, we have a word for this called self-discipline and most of you reading this post pride yourselves on how much self-discipline you have in life; how you take care of yourself, push away from the table when full, or turn down a desert. How you make yourself go to bed at a reasonable hour even though your best show is on TV because you know you need to be fresh for tomorrow. How you give yourself consequences when you say things that you should not to a friend, and make yourself call up the friend, apologize and tell them you are buying dinner next time.

The fact is that the two becoming one flesh does not mean that flesh does not have to discipline itself. Precisely because it is the flesh it MUST discipline itself. Paul says that the flesh wars against the Spirit and makes it clear that the Believer is to keep his/her/our married flesh under control with self-discipline so that we might serve God and not be disqualified from ministry.

Self-discipline is not only something we value in our lives, but it is perhaps the most important habit that leads to personal, professional and spiritual growth. God values discipline as the Bible says ~

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” {Hebrews 12:11}.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified{2 Corinthians 8:27}.

Now follow with my logic and tell me where things may not add up in your mind ~

1. If self-discipline is to be prized and valued in a godly believer,
2. Husband and wife are one flesh and the wife is to submit to her husband,
3. The husband is the head of the wife, which means he is to be the leader,
4. The husband is to be loving towards his wife as Christ sacrificially loves the church,
The husband must be responsible for the loving self-discipline of the marriage both for himself and his wife as one flesh.

Does it not stand to reason that it is the head and husband of the marriage that is to exercise self-discipline in the marriage, and if this self-discipline involves his own flesh, his wife, that she should graciously accept the discipline and respect and honor him for trying to help create a godly, orderly, loving marriage?

I am sure we will hear an earful from many who agree and disagree with our Biblical logic on this subject as it is never taught in the church, probably out of fear. Yes, fear that a husband will abuse his position. Fear that a husband will disrespect his wife in the way that he gives her discipline. Fear that the 65% majority that are women sitting on church pews will punish the pastor and the church by closing their pocketbooks, walking away, or worse yet, demand a session with the busy pastor, all because he was willing to explore such a necessary subject concerning the Christian marriage.

If you are not convinced that many Christian men live in fear of their wives just read the Sunshine Mary's Post with Facebook comments from Christian women who say that if their husband tried to discipline them, their husband would end up in the dishwasher or kicked out of the marriage. 

Just a little more food for thought as I close this post. Ask yourself not what “husbands” can and cannot do to discipline “wives,” but instead what are you willing to allow your husband to do if he asks to enact modest discipline in your own marriage. One of the favorite excuses I see is the unwillingness to apply certain principles to ALL marriages, because of the potential for abuse, so of course, if it is not to be applied universally, why should it be applied in my own marriage?

Yes, there is the potential for abuse if some wives give carte blanche to an unloving husband. We are not talking about unloving husbands, but the godly great, imperfect guy who you chose to marry. Right?  And who you want to be your godly leader of a husband. Right?  What about that guy? Can you trust him to lead you and help discipline your flesh?

Will you go to him and discuss this important area of the self-discipline of your marriage and ask if he would like to explore how the two of you might hold each other accountable for moving your marriage forward into more good times, less punishment and more loving ways? Or does your husband have to love you perfectly before you will think about submission and the self-discipline of your marriage?

I believe this discipline should begin with a husband's willingness to set good and noble ideals for the marriage and then hold himself and his wife accountable for living up to those ideals. The one-flesh needs training in self-discipline, and it is with consequences that the flesh is trained.

A wife is an equal and full partner in the one-flesh marriage, but the husband is the head, and the head of any body always has the control and responsibility. So ask your head how he wants to do things in your marriage, and give him permission to lead you in any way he believes is best, so long as he keeps in mind just one principle below, even if he applies it imperfectly. He cannot become a great leader if you do not let him lead.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church 
and gave himself up for her. 
Ephesians 5:25

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Doctors Are More Important Than Mothers?

You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.  Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work.  They are not equal.  Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business.  {Amy Glass

What Amy writes in her article is extreme, however, I believe that a lot of women really believe the lies she promotes.  I don't think most women would be pursuing higher education and careers if they didn't.  I wouldn't hear "I'm not ready to be married and have children, yet.  I need to live a little before that" if many women didn't believe this.

Women, young and old, being wives and mothers is God's highest calling for you.  I could care less what anyone else tells you.  It is spelled out clearly in Scripture.  Nowhere does it tell women to get all the education they can get, find a career that takes them away from home many hours a day, be independent, and make sure they can provide for them self if something happens to their husband.

In fact, higher education and careers do nothing to prepare women for being submissive wives or teach them how to raise godly offspring, the most important job women can have.  Young, unmarried women are exhorted to "careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit" {I Corinthians 7:34}  This doesn't exclude them from getting higher education and a career but they should never believe that this is more valuable than being a wife and mother.  They should not get in a lot of debt or in a career that is difficult to leave if they get married and have children.

Women have asked me what I think about the "Mommy Wars," working moms vs. stay at home moms.  I don't take part in the Mommy Wars.  I simply teach young women to be "keepers at home" as Scripture commands me to do.  I love working moms and stay at home moms, but I know God wants wives submitting to their husbands and mothers at home taking good care of their husbands, children, and homes.  Regardless of what Ms. Glass believes, this has way more eternal consequences than being a doctor, engineer, etc.  

There are plenty of capable, good men that can do those jobs but men cannot replace the powerful role mothers have on society or future generations.  Mothers who raise godly offspring are the exceptional ones in my humble opinion!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ken Married Off Our Youngest!

We welcome you to Ryan and Cassi’s very special day where we have gathered together to witness and bless their union in marriage. A marriage which they have chosen to create based upon the Biblical principles found in God’s Word.

My Dearest Cassi Lyn,  You have chosen a man that both you and I believe will love, honor and cherish you all of your life. Through the course of your courtship you have felt the tug of the Spirit of God telling you that Ryan is the right man for you to trust with your inner most being, your secrets, your life and your will.

A Christian wife is called to be submissive to her husband. To love him and to obey him. Those are not words that you often hear anymore at a marriage ceremony, but they are words directly out of God’s Word, the Bible.

“Wives submit to your husbands, as to the Lord” says Ephesians 5:22, because “the husband is head of the wife and Christ is head of the church.”

To submit means to place yourself under Ryan’s love and protection. It means you have to trust him that he is seeking the best for you, and not acting selfishly or unkind. To submit means you must be vulnerable enough to allow your new husband and the head of you, and your family, to lead as he feels is best, so you should expect that Ryan will not be perfect in his leadership, and that he will make some mistakes.

What I can promise you is that if you are always doubting Ryan’s leadership, and always second guessing, or playing back seat driver, the intimacy that you long for so deeply in your marriage will not be possible. True intimacy starts with trust and vulnerably. If you do not trust him enough to allow him to learn from his mistakes, he may never grow into the Christian leader that you and God desire him to be.

Just as we struggle so much with placing our trust in God and just as we must vulnerably allow him to sometimes throw us up in the air, and trust that He will catch us, so too you must learn to allow Ryan to take initiative and make decisions that on the surface you may not like, but hopefully they will prove to be best for you and the family.

Ryan, you have the higher calling as the head, or leader of your new relationship. God calls you in Ephesians 5:25 to love Cassi, your new wife, "as Christ loves the church, and sacrificially gave Himself up for her.”

Ryan, are you willing to die for Cassi? Wow! Now that is a tough question. Just as Christ died for His church, so too you are called to die for your wife, to protect her, to make sure that she is more important than yourself.  That is a tough calling upon any young man that he be willing to die for his wife.

But Ryan, God actually has an even higher calling upon your life than dying for Cassi, and that is living for her. Yes, just as all Christians are called to be ready to die for the sake of Jesus, it is perhaps easier to be willing to die for Him than to live our lives for Him.

Your higher calling is to live your life as a living sacrifice for Cassi. The scriptures put it this way, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church  and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her .. that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church”  {Ephesians 5:2528}.

Ryan, do you love and cherish your own flesh?  Do you make sure you are fed, clothed, and loved? I think anyone who has seen you with your shirt off or bench pressing 250 lbs knows that you kind of love your own body. You even go gluten free to insure that your body is protected.

Now you have a responsibility that goes beyond your own body and yourself. A greater priority and a greater love:  To protect, nourish and cherish our Cassi Lyn, as you do yourself, and she is so worth it.

“An excellent wife who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain” {Proverbs. 31:10-11}. You Ryan, have found an excellent wife, if I do say so myself. You are one blessed man.

Because Cassi, I know your heart is to serve your husband and be his Help Meet; that is right, his help meet not his help mate. For you have been uniquely created by God to be the women who fits Ryan perfectly. You are the godly girl who your mother has trained to be a Proverbs 31 women who will rise daily to look for the best things for your family; to cook and clean and garden, and to put your family first above your own needs.

Proverbs says, “Strength and dignity are in her clothing, And she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her, Her husband also” {Proverbs 31:25-28}.

Cassilyn… if there was ever a girl raised to be a model Proverbs 31 woman, it is you. Your personality is one of love, kindness, gentleness and compassion. How many Christmas’ did we have at our home where you made sure every one of us got a gift and often a gift like a blanket that you made for each one of us?

You have taken great care of your Mom and Dad when Mom is sick, and you are so good at cooking that thousands go to your blog for cooking recipes. Ryan, I forget how many cattle you are to give me for this arranged marriage, but whatever it is, you know that Cassi is worth her weight in gold and beyond.

And I know that you know all of this about Cassi. You wrote to me the most precious letter telling me how much you loved Cassi and how you will vow to serve her, protect her and cherish her all of your life.   That divorce would never be an option no matter how tough the times may become.

You two are in for a bit of rocky road, with not just six years of graduate school to come, and school debt and a meager existence, but this is not an easy world.  You both have seen really tough times in your young lives, and yet here you both are, strong in the Lord and strong for each other. You know what pain and sorrow is, and you also know that true love can only be found by weathering the storms of life together. 

You both have seen the tough times that your parents and grandparents have gone through, and yet love held their marriages together. So what is love? The apostle Paul speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit says in I Corinthians 13 ~
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Jesus says, Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

If my years have taught me anything, it is that true love is not the butterflies that you two are feeling for each other right now, but instead, true love is the commitment to seek the best interest of another, in good times and in bad.  No matter what happens, no matter how difficult life or your marriage becomes, your true love will be tested by one thing, and that is your commitment to seek the best for each other. 

And is this not exactly what Christ calls us to with our love for Him? Sacrificial, giving, unselfish, unbridled love for one another. It is out of your deep commitment that true intimacy will flourish, and indeed the two of you will become one.

Little did I know some 33 years ago when I wrote this poem in 1980 for your Mom how much our love would be tried and tested for each other. It almost has become prophetic for our lives, as it says~

Take my hand, I’ll lead you on, through joy and sorrow, love’s endeavor;
I’m by you side, the victory’s won, your life is mine forever.

A wedding bell’s no gentle song, the commitment of life to each other;
To seek for you the best, no wrong, this is to love one another.

To join our lives and become one, a life of love each day;
A struggle’s promise, “til life is done,” working together to find the way.

We want to live our lives together, to laugh and struggle and cry,
We’ll sail the seas of stormy weather, fight for love, willing to die.

Why should two become one, if love holds trials and fear?
If minds and hearts can become stunned, by the person we hold so dear?

The answer lies in love you see, struggles will help us grow;
For only through pain it seems can be, the commitment of love that two can know.

For God is using you for me, to help me become love;
I’ll grow like Christ, in Him I’ll be, kind, gentle and considerate of you, my love.

We can’t forget love’s purpose here, for Christ is the one we wed,
He’s the one who holds us dear, my Lord’s the one who said ~

“Take my hand I’ll lead you on, through joy and sorrow, love’s endeavor;
I’m by your side, the victory’s won, your lives are mine… together.”

         “For only through pain it seems can be, the commitment of love that two can know.”

It won’t be easy. You cannot marry a person and expect that anything will be easy. But tell me, what in life that is worth half a shake is easy?

God did not put the best fruit at the bottom of the trees, nor does he regularly send Manna from heaven each day to meet our needs; although you will find that days and months of Manna, and God’s help will come.  No, God wants us to struggle, not that He creates our struggles, but just as a tree is tossed in the wind and it becomes strong, so too, your troubles and your pain will anchor you, so that when the big storms of life come, you will be firmly and forever grounded, first and foremost Christ Jesus, and then united as one with each other.

Marriage is a wonderful thing and the glue that will hold it together is Christ Jesus. And there is nothing more rewarding than sharing a life with a fellow believer who knows God’s Word and God’s ways, and is willing to walk in them, just as you two have decided, and you are proclaiming this publicly in your wedding today.

Ryan Anthony Boyer, do you take this woman, Casandra Lyn Alexander to be your lawfully wedded wife?  To have and to hold, through sickness and in health, to cherish and love, honor and respect, treating her with kindness and loving protection all of her life? And forsaking all others will you in purity be faithful to her alone, keeping your Lord Jesus Christ at the center of your marriage, until death do you part?

Cassandra Lyn Alexander, do you take this man, Ryan Anthony Boyer to be your lawfully wedded husband?  To have and to hold, through sickness and in health, to cherish and love, honor, respect and obey, treating him with kindness all of his life? And forsaking all others will you in purity be faithful to him alone, keeping your Lord Jesus Christ at the center of your marriage, until death do you part?

What tokens do you bring as a symbol of your love, commitments and affection for one another? The ring symbolizes an eternal commitment that cannot be broken. By placing a ring on your lover’s finger you are saying that come what may, I am yours and you are mine, and nothing that God has joined together can ever be broken.

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 
What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
Matthew 19:6

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Pollyanna Syndrome

Recently, I watched Pollyanna for the first time.  I loved how happy she was. One time she was rebuked for her happiness.  She said her father told her to always look for the things to be happy about in life, not the things to complain about.

When she went to live with her aunt in a big, gorgeous mansion, she strolled through the hallway and saw all these beautiful extra bedrooms that were not being used.  She continued on up into a dirty, dusty attic to a room that was for her.  The maid said she didn't understand why the aunt was putting her in this ugly room and Pollyanna exclaimed, "Oh, I am happy!  I have never had a room of my own and the bed is so soft!"

Everyone hated Sundays because they had to go and listen to a preacher who only preached hell, fire, and brimstone.  When asked about a reason to be happy about Sundays, she quickly responded, "There are six whole days until the next Sunday!"

Our pastor preached on happiness recently.  He taught that people who pursue their own happiness are less happy.  Happy people like to be surrounded by family and friends.  They are involved in daily tasks that cause them to forget about themselves.  They forgive easily.  They spend time alone and pursue personal growth.  They don't judge themselves by other's standards and don't care about social approval.  They are not materialistic.  They are thankful and serve others.

I remember people mocking others if they had the "Pollyanna Syndrome."  God wants us all to be like Pollyanna.  He wants us to dwell on the good, lovely, and pure.  He wants us to give thanks in everything.  He wants us to rejoice and be thankful.  He wants us to be salt and light in a dark world.  If we look like the world, we will not attract them to Jesus.  Determine to see the good in every situation and be thankful.

There will be no complaining in our streets.  
Happy is that people, that is in such a case:  
yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.
Psalm 144:14,15

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Raising Responsible Children

Here is the second installment from Barbara on raising godly children
coming from a family of six children who all walk in Truth ~

Here my oldest brother {who became a Christian college professor} 
speaks for us all ~

One of my many recollections is the training in responsibility for work.  Our parents put this into my life in several ways.  One was the assignment of regular chores, such as uprooting dandelion weeds each summer morning.  Another regular chore was mowing the yard, which Dad gladly gave to me when he discovered I was sturdy enough to push {that's right, no power mower available} the mower.

Another aspect to this responsibility was earning money and using it for good purposes. For example, after a year of pushing a mower, I decided it would be much easier to cut the grass with a power mower. "Dad, can we get a power mower?"  "Sure, son, if you line up enough lawn cutting jobs in the neighborhood to pay for the mower."  So I got a handful of neighbors to commit.  Dad accompanied me to the local appliance store where I purchased a shiny new Rocket Eclipse reel mower with a Briggs and Stratton engine. The store owner took my down payment and gave me a coupon book for the remaining 12 payments.  Each month I took my earnings, along with a payment coupon, to the store owner.

At about the age of ten, my parents learned that the local newspaper route in our neighborhood needed a delivery person.  They forthrightly volunteered me.  So for the next two years it was my daily task to bicycle local roads to deliver afternoon newspapers.  I learned the value {and freedom} of earning my own money.  I was able to buy a few wanted items with it {baseball cards, a catcher's mitt, etc.}.  But the big item I wanted was an electric train set.  When I finally had saved enough to purchase such a set, my parents {in their long-range wisdom} talked me into buying, not a train set, but a TYPEWRITER!  Though I balked inwardly at making such a purchase, I eventually appreciated the wisdom of well-placed dollars--that typewriter served me well all the way through high school and college {8 years plus}.

Without the foresight of my parents to develop in me the expectation of earning and spending money well, I probably would have a greater streak of laziness and selfishness as an adult.

In all toil there is profit, 
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Taste Of Heaven

My dad told me there were two times in his life that he tasted a little bit of heaven.  The first time was when he was at a Basic Institute of Youth Conflicts and there were 3,000 men singing hymns.  He said it was amazing to hear all these men praising Jesus.

The second time was at Ryan and Erin's wedding.  He was sitting near the front.  The wedding took place in a vineyard.  There were white fluffly clouds in the sky.  A soft breeze was blowing.  The whole family was all around him.

I remember diving into the waters of Lake Michigan when I was younger.  The water happened to be around 75 degrees and calm.  It was a bright, sunny day out and the water felt like silk.  This was my only time I felt a taste of heaven.

My youngest daughter, Cassi, is getting married tomorrow.  Almost the whole family will be there.  We will gather to watch the union between a man and a woman, exactly how God created it to be exemplifying Christ and His bride, the church.

Then we will all celebrate together, foreshadowing the time when we will all be gathered together celebrating the marriage supper of the Lamb.  All Christian weddings should be a little bit of heaven for the amazing portrait of Christ and His bride they paint.  Oh, what a day that will be!

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready...Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Revelation 19:7,9

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Staying Connected In Marriage

Life gets busy and complicated.  Husbands work hard to provide for the family.  Wives work hard keeping the home, raising the children, running a job from home, or even leaving the home to work.  Children have schedules that take them away from home.  How are we suppose to stay connected in this very busy society we live in?

Ken and I are empty nesters now so we have more time to connect.  His schedule is incredibly busy, however, but we have created time to stay connected.  Every morning, we cuddle and have devotions.  I read the Bible and then he prays.  Then, we talk about whatever is on our minds.

Later in the afternoon, we take a walk around the neighborhood discussing a variety of things.  I will usually share comments I get on my blog or ideas I have to write about and he will give me advice.  He tells me about his business and keeps me up to date.

Every Saturday morning, we walk along the beach and eat breakfast at our favorite restaurant.  On Sundays, we go to church and hold hands during the service.  We come home and watch football together.

When you have small children, it is harder to have that time to connect.  We always took walks, even when my children were small.  We'd put them in a stroller and away we would go.  Now, when we are babysitting our grandbabies, we take them on walks with us.

Having family dinners and devotions together are great ways to stay connected.  We watch our grandbabies once a week so Ryan and Erin can be alone together for awhile.

What are some ways you and your husband stay connected in the hustle and bustle of life?  It would be great to hear from you who have many children, need to work outside the home, or even have health problems.  Marriage is precious and needs to be cultivated to stay healthy and growing.

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, 
having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Philippians 2:2

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our Desire For Our Husband

We all know God gave curses to Eve after sin entered the world.  
Her curse was ~

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;  in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  
Genesis 3:16

Desiring our husbands sounds like a good thing, right?   What that really means, however, is our desire will be to control our husband.  In my experience,  I would say that most women do want to control their husbands.  Now, we see it is part of the curse.  God also said husbands will rule over their wives.

Isn't it just like our awesome God, however, to change something that looks so bad, a "curse," and make it a blessing?  When our eyes are opened and we no longer want to control our husbands, but allow them to be the leaders, our marriages start getting better.  

Yes, everything having to do with childbearing is painful to most women:  PMS, periods, pregnancy, delivery, and menopause but our great God brings precious babies out of all this pain.  Even in His curses, He works all things for good for us.

Even a man's curse to toil the ground turns into a blessing.  Hard work is fulfilling and provides for one's family.  And the biggest curse of all, death, He conquered on the cross over 2,000 years ago so we can live eternally with Him.  What an awesome God we serve!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tough Parents Or Best Friends To Your Children?

All healthy parents want to be known by their children as being “loving parents.” We want a long term relationship with our kids that will last all of our lives, sharing the best of life and holidays together.

Unfortunately, American society has come to believe too many lies about parenting which has turned many parents down the wrong path of attempting to be their child’s best friend, and their source of self-esteem. And yet, after all that effort you see so many young adults grow up with disdain for their parents, treat them poorly and without respect, all the while their parents are chasing after their love and affections. 
Neglect consistent discipline and children will grow up to resent you for it.

So what goes wrong when parents who try so hard to be friends end up public enemy number one in so many households?  Why can’t these young adults, now that they are a little older, look back and see all of the energy and effort their parents put into them, and give them the love, respect and friendship that these parents feel they have earned? Some do finally get it, and turn around to care about their parents, but many maintain a sourpuss stance and stay aloof far into their 30’s and 40’s, if not downright ornery and unloving to their parents throughout their adult life.  The grand experiment of friendship and self-esteem building is a failure and the one shot they had at creating a true lifelong family is blown apart by a lack of knowledge and wisdom.

For our family, Lori and I decided that the only way to attain our lifelong goals for our family was by teaching values, not by friendship and self-esteem. Oh, we loved playing with our kids and had a wild time some nights jumping all around the living room, wrestling, playing and enjoying our little ones. But when a value lesson presented itself, instantly our parenting took over and we taught the important values.

Immediate obedience is a vital value. Think of all the authorities we must obey in order to live a peaceful, productive life. “Time for bed,” Mom would announce at 8 p.m. and without a whimper the four headed for Daddy in his big arm chair and gave him a hug, then off to brush their teeth, get in bed, where Mom or Dad would read to them a Bible story.  Then lights out and rarely another peep out of the little ones. No need to sit at the top of the stairs all evening waiting for the little curfew violators when one or two good swats can solve the problem forever.

No whining or complaining. Now this is a value I wish my parents had done a better job on with me. Whining and complaining are such ugly traits and they stem from an attitude of ungratefulness. Oh sure, we heard a bit of whining at times, but quickly our parenting kicked in to teach how thankful we must be for all the wonderful things God has given us. We also were quick to say “no” to a whining child who wanted more treats, or more play time, or did not want to pick up their room, or do their chores.  No way in our house were we going to put up with whining kids.  Why?  Because when you accept a bunch of whining you actually are teaching your kids that whining is an acceptable behavior. It not a behavior that friends, or family, or a future spouse is going to appreciate, so why would we allow it in our children or our home? "No way, Jose. If you are going to whine, go to the fire place!”

Be responsible and keep your commitments. Being irresponsible always led to tough consequences in our home. And why not?  It certainly leads to tough consequences when you don’t turn in your essays in college, or meet your deadlines at work, so why would we want our children to be given a break when it comes to responsibility? We also had lots of rewards for being responsible; like a dollar sitting in the middle of your bed when their room was spotless, and a dollar taken out if it was messy and did not take their responsibility seriously.  We rewarded with kisses, hugs, money, treats, trips to Chuckie Cheese. In our home you could get lots of rewards, but mess up on any value and at a minimum you got a lecture, or spent time on the fireplace step, or got a swat, depending on the offense. Even to this day Lori and I hold each other accountable for keeping our commitments to each other in what we eat, what we say, our attitudes or what I watch on TV. Our reward is a feeling of well being that comes from self-discipline, that same feeling our kids go to sleep with each night as it is instilled deep within them.

Swats and spanks were generally reserved for outright defiance, or out of control behavior, not for value issues. Missing a known value issue like being unkind to a sibling would have various consequences, including getting the exact same experience shown to you so that you would know what that feels like.

One evening my oldest son, probably four years old, looked right at me, then looked at his brother as he took his hand and pushed him flat back on his butt.  As the howls came out I said, “Come here,” and I took my hand and pushed him flat back on  his butt in the same way, and another howl rang out.  Then I picked him up and comforted him and began the teaching of values.  “Do you think your brother liked that?”  “No,” came the answer. “Then don’t do that again.”

Usually such lesson times went right into training correct thinking. “You know Alexanders treat others with kindness. Alexanders are nice to everyone, and you must be especially nice to your brother because he will grow up soon to be your best friend, and will defend you and protect you some day because that is what brothers do.”

Yes, the Alexanders, like the Pearls were very tough parents. We were not exactly sure how our one opportunity at the grand experiment of parenting would turn out, but we were convinced that we would not raise brats, and that we would raise godly children who would grow up to love and serve the Lord Jesus with all their hearts. To the consternation of some friends and family members who thought us too demanding in discipline, we tried to explain that the greatest gift of love you can give a child is self-discipline. Many of these same detractors in later years have privately told us “You did it right.”

To give God our very best as parents we felt we had to be tough. Why?  Well maybe because the world is tough. Maybe because, except for this little window of the past 50 years in America, the entire world have been one tough place to not just earn a living, but to achieve even the necessities of life. Perhaps that little four year old tike is going to be marching off to war with a gun on his shoulder in 14 years and I wanted him tough enough to know what he was fighting for. God’s values that have become now his values.

We take for granted that this world we live in, this microcosm of heaven on earth, is somehow going to continue long term, and it is not.  We live better than Kings and Queens of old, and too many parents treat their children as if they are nobility, lavishing gifts and entitlements before they have ever earned a thing in life. It is no wonder we have a whole generation of “hand outs” with artificial self-esteem developed in them by parents who bequeathed it as a gift without making them earn it, or instilling any real values, like hard work and supporting a family. True self-esteem and happiness comes only when one lives out the true values of life, not the pleasures of life.

Our Lord promises tough times for all who will follow him.  He tells me that my family and I must be prepared like soldiers to withstand the lies of the evil one by putting on the values of truth, faith, and the Word of God. These are the values we taught our children when they woke up and when they went to sleep, at each and every opportunity that was presented to teach God’s ways over man’s ways, the ways of the Spirit over the ways of the flesh. And we began such training in godliness at a very young age, maybe even six months old by starting early on issues of self-control. By three years old, maybe four, our children had learned enough self-discipline to obediently and joyfully please their parents with with rarely a cross word or need for a swat.

Were we perfect parents? No way, that is way too big a burden to ask of any parent. But we did the very best we knew how, knowing that God did not ask us to be best friends with our kids, but to raise them in the nurture, admonition, discipline and love of the Lord Jesus. I love my relationship with my children, and the respect they show me and Lori, but most of all I love watching each one of them live a disciplined, godly life that seeks to serve their Lord Jesus Christ by living out the values that we so diligently instilled within each one of them.

The goal of Christian parenting should not be to become a best friend with your child, but to make them into a best friend of Jesus. To do this parents must suffer the sad times when we must be strict, tough, and say “no” to sleepovers, questionable friends, unsupervised parties and trips, and whatever may take our children out from under our loving protection.

We live in an ugly world of sin, and don’t think that the Christian school you are sending your kids to is immune from the ugliness, it’s just a better alternative to the unchecked godlessness found in most public high schools and universities. The only protection for your children once they leave your home is the values you have instilled within them… the training to do things God’s ways so they may reap His blessings over man’s ways and man’s fleshly pleasures.

So we chose to be tough parents, and guess what? Our kids are very much our friends and we have a wonderful loving family. When you can go every year for 25 years to the same spot for vacation and rarely hear a whine, a complaint, a fight, or unloving word for two weeks at a stretch… this is pure joy. To know that God is working in the lives of our little ones who have become responsible adults and have taken God’s values as their own.  

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:13-17