Posts by Dave Boehi

20 things husbands should stop doing



Sometimes we need encouragement in our quest to step up and be the men God has called us to be. Sometimes we need information, and sometimes we need training. Sometimes we need a mentor—someone who will show us how to be godly men, how to love our wives as Christ loves the church.

things husbands shoud stopAnd sometimes we need to know what we should stop doing. Sometimes we may even need someone to say, “Hey, stop acting like a jerk!”

That’s what this list is about.

We gathered suggestions from a number of men and here’s a list of their best ideas. Of course, not all of these items apply to all men, but perhaps something here will hit home for you.

Again, these items were sent to me by other men, not by wives.

  1. Stop acting like the battle is won in pursuing and getting to know your wife. Have fun together, just like you used to do before you walked down the aisle.
  2. If your wife is a stay-at-home mom, stop treating her like her work during the day is somehow less strenuous or less important than yours.
  3. Stop working so much. Find a healthy balance between work and family.  Your wife would rather have you than a big house, nice car, etc.
  4. Stop acting like you’re listening when you’re really watching TV.
  5. Stop allowing the spiritual leadership of the family to default to your wife.
  6. Stop being a closed book.  Open up to your wife.  Don’t be afraid to show emotion.
  7. Stop allowing your role as leader in the home to be an excuse for selfish behavior.  Don’t forget that a true leader also serves.
  8. Stop dishonoring your wife by criticizing her in front of your children or in public.
  9. Stop using your size and strength and anger to intimidate your wife and children.
  10. Stop saying you’ll do something and then procrastinating.
  11. Don’t purchase any major item without first discussing it with your wife.
  12. Don’t allow your eyes to linger on beautiful women who pass by. You can’t help the first look; it’s that second, longer look that you need to avoid.  (And if your wife notices, don’t lie to her and say you didn’t see that woman.  Just admit you looked.)
  13. When your wife tells you about a problem she’s having, don’t immediately try to solve it. She may just need you to listen to her.
  14. Stop treating your wife like a child. Remember that God has given her a wealth of experience and information that you need.
  15. Stop feeding your sexual desires from any source other than your wife.
  16. Don’t look up old girlfriends on Facebook.
  17. Stop putting a number on how often you should enjoy sexual intimacy.
  18. Stop acting as if you have a GPS programmed into your brain.  Before you go somewhere with your wife, get the right address and find out how to get there.  If you are lost, don’t hesitate to get directions—from your smartphone map, even from a person.
  19. Don’t make fun of your wife to other guys.
  20. Don’t allow guy-only activities (like playing golf, basketball, etc.) to rob you of leisure time with your wife and kids.

Some will say that lists like these are “too negative”—that this is an example of “trashing” men.  Here’s how I see it: If you are coaching your son’s Little League team, you’re going to teach him a lot of positives—how to hit, how to throw, what base he should throw to when there are runners on first and second. But you also will need to get him to stop doing things—like swinging at bad pitches, or jogging to first base instead of sprinting.

Sometimes we need to know what not to do.

© 2014 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading Dave Boehi’s “20 things husbands should stop doing” on the Stepping Up blog. 

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWhat would you add to the list? What do you have the biggest struggle with? Share your comments with us.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistNow that you know some of the things you shouldn’t do, check out “What Every Husband Needs to Know.”

STEPPass - 10-point checklistListen to “Ten Questions Every Husband Should Ask His Wife” on Familylife Today … then ask them to your wife.

 

Honoring and encouraging your wife



A while back, my wife Merry was with a group of young mothers, and she was struck by how many did not feel valued. They were in the daily grind of parenting, dealing with all the challenges of raising young children. Yes, they often felt fulfilled, but they also felt dry and stretched and frazzled. They wondered if their efforts would pay off.

Merry said one of the big problems was, “They were receiving hardly any encouragement from their husbands.” They felt their husbands didn’t understand what they were doing, and they felt unappreciated.

Our culture doesn’t offer a lot of encouragement to mothers. In contrast, I recently found the transcript of a wonderful 1905 speech by President Theodore Roosevelt. Speaking to the National Congress of Mothers, he said:

No piled-up wealth, no splendor of material growth, no brilliance of artistic development, will permanently avail any people unless its home life is healthy …

No ordinary work done by a man is either as hard or as responsible as the work of a woman who is bringing up a family of small children; for upon her time and strength demands are made not only every hour of the day but often every hour of the night …

The woman who is a good wife, a good mother, is entitled to our respect as is no one else …

Encouraging your wife

As I read Roosevelt’s remarks, I wondered, When was the last time a President said something like this? If our culture doesn’t uphold wives and mothers with words like these, then it’s up to us husbands.

1 Peter 3:7 tells me to live with my wife “in an understanding way” and to “grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.” As I’ve applied this verse to my life, I have realized I need to understand Merry’s world — the pressures and problems she is facing, her successes and her struggles. And I need to honor her for what she is doing well as a wife and mom.

One way I honored Merry was by writing an article as a tribute to her when our daughters, Bethany and Missy, were 7 and 4. I wanted her to know how much I appreciated her, and I wanted to remind her of how God was using her. So I thought I’d share part of what I wrote because these are the things we need to be telling our wives:

Like any other mother, it’s easy for Merry to grow discouraged during the day-to-day grind of fixing meals and settling arguments and playing games and reading stories and running errands. So often I’ve heard her say, “I’m tired of being a mother,” or, “I feel like I’ve been yelling at these kids all day long!”

But the reality is that she’s not just meeting physical needs. Even when she doesn’t realize it, she’s spending her days building character. She’s raising two little girls who, I hope, will grow up to be much like her.

From Merry, our daughters learn that there is a right and wrong, and that those who do wrong are punished.

They learn that God is real, that He is a personal God with whom we can communicate.

They learn that the Bible is truly the Word of God, able to speak to us today.

When she makes a mistake and blames them for something they didn’t do, and realizes it, they learn that a mother can be humble enough to ask their forgiveness.

When she takes them to the library to check out some books, and then returns home to read to them, they discover the excitement and importance of reading.

When they see Merry give me a hug and kiss as I walk into the house at the end of a work day, they see how a wife loves and honors her husband.

They watch as Merry reaches out to neighbors and friends. They go with her when Merry takes food to a sick friend. They learn about mercy and compassion.

When Merry gives them responsibilities around the house, they (grudgingly and slowly) learn about perseverance and doing a job right.

Bethany and Missy learn to tell the truth, because their mother doesn’t lie to them or tolerate lies from them.

They learn that many of the things the world values (such as acquiring money and possessions, and gaining power) are actually temporal and meaningless.

Of course, our two girls don’t realize that their mom is teaching them all these things. They are two human beings who will eventually make their own choices about their lives. But our hope is in the truth revealed in Proverbs 22:6, that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Chances are that Bethany and Missy will have much of Merry in them when they go off to college and find jobs and raise their own families. If that’s true, then I think that Merry will have succeeded in the most important job she’ll ever have.

Boy, reading these words reminds me that I married pretty well! I think I need to encourage and honor her like this more often.

Copyright © by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared in Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter from FamilyLife.

No, cheaters never prosper



You drive along Interstate 30 in Little Rock, and there it is, a billboard with an astonishing message. It pictures three former U.S. presidents — Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton — along with the words:

Who said cheaters never prosper?  Happy Presidents’ Day!

This is the latest campaign from AshleyMadison.com, a highly profitable website with a most unusual clientele — people who are interested in committing adultery. If you register on the website, you can connect with others interested in cheating. As the website states:

Long gone are the days of working late and having an affair with the office secretary, with today’s technology the ability to have a discreet emotional or sexual affair is at your fingertips. You have definitely come to the right website. Ashley Madison’s married dating services can help you find that special someone who makes you feel young and alive again.

And yet Ashley Madison claims it merely facilitates cheating rather than promoting it. One of the more amazing statements on the website is, “No, Ashley Madison does not encourage anyone to stray or have an affair, despite our trademark, ‘Life is short, have an affair.’ In fact, if you are having difficulty in your marriage or relationship, you should seek counseling.”

Provocative statements

Ashley Madison’s founder is a Toronto entrepreneur named Noel Biderman. He and his wife say they are happily married with two children. But he also says that “Monogamy, in my opinion, is a failed experiment.”

Biderman tends to make provocative statements like that when defending his company. And he’s a master at deflecting criticism. “You eradicate Ashley Madison, you’re not going to eradicate infidelity. That’s what allows me to sleep at night.” Or, “If you think that all affairs happen on Ashley Madison, you’re very naive.”

Those are clever words. By addressing absurd accusations nobody would make, Biderman deflects legitimate complaints about making money from something most people consider to be immoral.

Apparently helping adulterers is a big business. And you wonder if Biderman considers any publicity as bad. Every time he defends the company against those who despise his product, that means more people are aware of that product. One could argue that even this article is only helping Ashley Madison.

Cheaters never prosper
The truth about adultery

Do cheaters prosper? In many respects, Ashley Madison only rehashes the excuses people have made for thousands of years about adultery: Guys can’t help themselves … It can often help marriages … We shouldn’t be too prudish about cheating … You need to let men sow their wild oats … etc., etc., etc.

Statements like these will encourage men (and women) who are unhappy in their marriages and are looking for some extramarital spice. But you and I know they are lies. The truth is that cheaters do not prosper.

For one thing, adultery destroys marriages. Ask yourself, why do so many people consider adultery such a betrayal? Why is it that Noel Biderman’s own wife says she would feel “devastated” if he cheated on her? It’s because sex as God designed it is much more than a physical act; it binds a couple together emotionally and spiritually in a way they can only partially understand. If your wife has sex with another man, the sense of hurt and betrayal cuts to the core of your soul.

Guys, what kind of impact do you think just one little cheating incident might have on your wife? As one woman said, “My husband wants me to stop bringing up his affair because he has ‘repented.’ What about me? He acts like nothing has happened, but I walk with anger. I cry out to God every day, but the hurt is still fresh.”

Second, adultery harms your legacy. Children feel the impact for many years to come. In most cases, it severely damages the relationship between the parent and child. In addition, the children may repeat that behavior when they are adults. Consider the story of one of the presidents pictured on the Ashley Madison billboard, John F. Kennedy. His womanizing is common knowledge now, but many don’t know how his behavior was influenced by his father, Joseph, who cheated on his wife regularly. His children knew it, and a number of them went on to be unfaithful to their own spouses. Few families in American history have accomplished as much as the Kennedys, but their legacy has also been clouded by reckless immorality.

Let’s be faithful

In response to the Ashley Madison initiative, FamilyLife has begun a campaign to encourage people to be faithful to their marriage vows. In fact, we’ve even created our own billboard for I-30 in Little Rock.

God offers the strength to withstand temptation, and the hope to build a lasting marriage. Cheaters never prosper. But those who trust in God do.

Note: For more on the “Stand Firm for Families” initiative, read “Doing Nothing Is Not an Option,” by Dennis Rainey and “A Billboard That Hurts Women and Children,” by Barbara Rainey.

He’s been gone for years



We talk about how important marriage and family is, but where are we directing our emotional energy each day?

He was a well-respected executive in his community. He had climbed the ladder of success and was reaping the rewards.

Except in his family.

He arrived home from work one day and shocked his wife by telling her he wanted a divorce so he could marry another woman. This couple had two sons in grade school, and the mother worried how they would react to the news. But when she told them that their father was leaving them, she was surprised by her oldest boy’s reply: “Mom, he’s been gone for years.”

Gone for years.

I think that’s one of the saddest quotes I’ve ever heard. It echoes through countless homes in America today, where a husband or wife, a dad or mom, may be physically present but emotionally absent. We talk about how important marriage and family is, but where are we directing our emotional energy each day?

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve entered a season in my career where I have more to do than I can ever remember — more writing, more editing, more projects, more planning, more managing, more responsibility. I love all these opportunities that God has given me, but I’m also realizing how much of my emotional energy is used up during the work hours.

When I leave my home in the morning and begin driving to work, my mind shifts into a different mode of operation — like an idle computer that is suddenly activated. Throughout the day, my mind is racing as I move from one task to another. I’m meeting with people … doing research … planning future articles for the FamilyLife website … trying to put words together for a column like this. I often need exercise at lunch time just to keep my mind clear.

And when I return home each evening, what do I want? On most days I’ve used up so much emotional energy that all I care about is shutting down that computer in my mind. I want to lie on the couch and read magazines or books. I want to watch White Collar or Person of Interest on television, or relax with one of my favorite old movies on DVD. Let’s see … should I escape to the Old West and enjoy Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne squaring off with Lee Marvin in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” or should I watch Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain”?

There’s only one tiny problem with this scenario: Life doesn’t revolve around me. Philippians 2:3-8 calls me to put my wife’s needs above my own. When I use up too much emotional energy at work, and waste too much time with entertainment, other priorities are neglected.

My wife, Merry, would probably say I’m being too hard on myself. My daughters are grown now, but I’m confident they wouldn’t use words like, “He’s been gone for years” when they describe me as a father. But in my heart, I know how easy it is for me to detach emotionally for a few hours or even a few days.

Here are a couple of things I need to do:

  • Spend more time alone with God, talking with Him and reading His Word. I find when I am consistent in spending time with God, I have more emotional energy throughout the day.
  • Be more proactive in spending quality time with Merry. I need to talk with her more, and I need to get out and have fun with her more.

I wish I was writing with wisdom gained from years of doing it right. But I’m still in the battle, and I have a feeling many of you are as well.

Copyright © FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This post originally appeared in Marriage Memo.

Our daily temptation



I think we would be shocked if we could count the number of times we are tempted each day.

Our culture has become so sexualized over the past few decades that it’s easy to become hardened by the number of images and temptations that bombard us each day. Walk through a supermarket and you see suggestive photos on the covers of magazines … turn on the television and it doesn’t take long before you see advertisements for sexy lingerie and erectile dysfunction … go online, and you find unwanted e-mails or ads offering x-rated images with just one click. It’s a daily temptation.

I think we would be shocked if we could count the number of times we are tempted each day. Sometimes life feels like a continual stream of choices: Will I trust God for the power to turn from that daily temptation, or will I dwell on it just a bit? Will I take a second look? Will I click on that tempting link … just this one time?

I am reminded of a story that FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey tells in his devotional book, Moments With You:

I was seated in a car with another Christian leader — a good friend of mine. We were both away from home, without our wives, waiting for a colleague who had just gone inside a store. And as we sat there, a woman walked by who was, well, drop-dead gorgeous. I caught sight of her as she entered the store, and then turned back to our conversation.

When she walked by again, by God’s grace (or the fear of my own reputation being spoiled), I summoned up enough self-control to look away. But I did notice my friend’s eyes lingering as she walked on to her car. Knowing we were both fighting the same battle, I casually said, “Hey, you can look at her once, you can look at her twice, but if you look at her that long …”

We laughed. We knew.

Guys, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating a woman’s beauty. But we all know in an instant when we’ve reached that point where we’re no longer simply noticing her but have begun enjoying her and letting our minds become a playground of lustful thoughts.

As Dennis writes, it’s often not the first look that gets you — it’s the second, and third, and fourth. If you dwell on that daily temptation, you begin playing with powerful forces. As James 1:14-15 tells us, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

These words run contrary to the spirit of our modern age, which tells us that biblical boundaries for sex are prudish and outdated. Our culture encourages us to embrace and experiment with sexuality to help “discover who you are.” And then it avoids taking responsibility for how uncontrolled lust can ravage lives, marriages, and families.

Whenever FamilyLife Today airs programs on pornography, for example, we receive a number of heart-breaking e-mails about people giving in to temptation and getting caught in a trap from which they couldn’t break free. Here are just two examples:

At the age of 13, I started my first job. That day I took my first puff of a cigarette and was exposed to pornography for the first time. I had no idea of the power that was to take control of my life as a result of that action. For the next 25 years I battled with pornography. My sin did not stop with pornography but took [other forms]. No matter how hard I tried, I could not make real changes. I could not escape it.

It’s not just men whose lives are hijacked by the effect of porn.

My dad had pornographic literature in the house that I found as a young girl. It distorted my view of male-female relationships. I began to see sex as a way to get love. I led an extremely active sexual lifestyle and eventually started working as an exotic dancer. I’ve been following the Lord for 11 years now, and am married to a wonderful man. But the ghost of pornography still haunts me. Fantasies still plague my mind and interfere with what should be pure love for my husband. I can see the connection now between how I feel and what you said. I am praying for God to cleanse me of the effects of pornography.

Letters like these echo the warning of James 1:14-15 and show us that giving in to temptation is far more dangerous than many people realize. One of the most critical commitments you can make to your marriage is to stay clean. You can’t avoid daily temptation. But you can control your response.

Choose to turn away. And ask God for the power to continue turning away every day.

Copyright © by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

“It was my worst moment, but it was my best”



“I don’t believe what I just saw!”

Avid baseball fans will recognize those words.  That’s what radio broadcaster Don Drysdale yelled when Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a two-run homer to beat the Oakland A’s in Game One of the 1988 World Series.

Those words describe my reaction as well as I watched the game that night on television, 25 years ago. Gibson was a star for the Dodgers that season, but as the Series began he had a pulled left hamstring and a swollen right knee.  He didn’t even dress for the game, and didn’t come out for pregame introductions.

But he was down in the team locker room, watching the game on TV.  In the ninth inning the Dodgers were down 4-3, and the A’s had baseballs best closer, Dennis Eckersley, on the mound.  Two men were out, and one Dodger was on base, when Gibson surprised everyone by emerging from the dugout and hobbling to the plate.

The guy could hardly walk, much less run.  He could barely swing the bat, and didn’t seem to have any power.  And yet somehow he hit a home run that won the game for the Dodgers and sent the crowd into a frenzy.  It’s one of the great moments in baseball history, and it still sends chills down my spine when I watch the replay.  As the great Vin Scully said on the television broadcast, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”

Gibson didn’t play for the rest of the series, but his one at-bat helped spark the Dodgers to a 4-1 series win over the favored A’s.

I’m sure many have written of Gibson’s heroics as a metaphor for never giving up, for battling life’s obstacles, etc.  But today I read an article about that game, and caught something that impressed me just as much.  Another man stepped up that day, and that was Dennis Eckersley, the pitcher.

'it was my worst moment, but it was my best moment'

Eckersley watches from the mound as Gibson’s homer ends game one of the 1988 World Series

When Gibson hit his homer, Eckersley recalls that he was “in shock, total shock.”  He makes some interesting observations about what it was like to be a loser that dramatic night.  “Everything went into slow motion.  It was incredible.  Once it sunk in, I turned around to walk off.  The whole place was going nuts.  I had the total opposite emotion.  What a feeling. … There are 50,000 people screaming and nobody feels as bad as you.  It was terrible.  Walking up the runway, no one said anything.  It was dead silence.”

And here’s the quote from Eckersley that caught my eye:  “After the game, there were a zillion questions from the media. … For me, I needed to do it, to accept it.  Looking back, it was the best thing I ever did.  I answered questions.  It was my worst moment, but it was my best moment in a lot of ways.  Standing up to it.  Accepting what comes with defeat, taking responsibility.  That was a proud moment for me.”

Wow, what an example.  Eckersley knew he made a bad pitch, and the last thing he wanted to do was talk about it to the press.  But he stepped up and did it.

How many men face similar situations, yet refuse to accept responsibility?  How many young men make mistakes and insist on putting the blame on others?

I’m sure Dennis Eckersley is tired of still talking about that worst moment from 25 years ago.  But it sure is easier to accept responsibility than to run from it.

Click here to read a Sports Illustrated oral history commemorating Gibson’s home run.

My mate is not my enemy



I have a confession to make.

I act like a spoiled baby when I’m sick. I whine and moan. I check my temperature every 30 minutes. I park myself in front of the television and expect my wife, Merry, to wait on me hand and foot. Never mind what plans she has for the evening — when I’m sick, her job is to take care of me.

But what happens when the roles are reversed, and she’s stuck in bed with nausea, or vertigo, or a sinus infection?

I act like a spoiled baby. I whine and pout. I glare at her. How dare she get sick? Doesn’t she know what plans I have? Doesn’t she realize the pressure she’s placing on me?

At some point during the evening, God convicts me of my selfishness, and I realize that I need to make a choice: Am I going to see Merry as my enemy? Or will I recognize again that God has given her to me as a gift … and stop moaning just because that gift has a fever and can’t cook dinner?

You may not realize it, but you make the same choice on a regular basis. The choice confronts you when you argue … or when your spouse doesn’t respond to your romantic overtures … or when you must decide who puts the kids to bed at night … or when you want to bake a batch of cookies and your spouse makes you feel guilty about your weight. Is my mate my enemy? Or a gift from God?

A life-changing perspective

If you’ve been to a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, you probably recognized the phrase I’ve been using: “My mate is not my enemy.” It’s one of the key concepts from the conference, and I’ve always been intrigued by the number of people who mention this statement on their evaluation forms after the event is over.

One person commented, “We were able to see each other differently. … We were able to recommit our lives together to God. We were able to address a long-time unresolved, silent, stuffed conflict with the hope of continued work on forgiveness and growth in our marriage together. I learned that my mate is not my enemy.”

And then there was the husband who wrote, “Wow! My wife is not my enemy after all! I am actually made complete in her — she is God’s manifestation of His idea of what is absent from my life. I cannot question anything about her because she was custom built just for me. God loved me so much that He gave … me Joanna.”

My mate is not my enemy. It’s a perspective that will change the way you look at your marriage. And it’s a choice spoiled babies like me face in some form nearly every day.

Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. 

This article originally appeared in Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter.

 

My cure for Easter apathy



Remembering what God has done in my life helped me to recapture my awe of the meaning of Easter.

This is Easter week, a time for celebrating the glory of God and the fulfillment of His plan for salvation. The ultimate sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for our sins.

I know my heart should soar as I contemplate the death of Christ and His resurrection. But sometimes I feel strangely apathetic.

familylife stepping up dennis rainey - easter apathy

I find myself at a curious stage in life. I’ve walked with Christ for many years, and the sameness of weekly and yearly routines can lead to a creeping indifference. Sometimes every sermon, every prayer, every song seems like a rehash of what I’ve heard before. Been there, done that.

Last week I was in the midst of one of these moods when an odd thought came to me:

Where would you be today if Christ had not come into your life?

And immediately I knew the answer.

I would be lost.

Remembering who I am

For the first time in many years, I opened up the journal I kept in college. I started it during my freshman year to practice writing and to record my thoughts about my experiences as a student at the University of Missouri.  Reading the journal today is like going back in time; I see a portrait of young man who enjoyed his college years yet also struggled with choices and relationships and setbacks.

In the spring of my freshman year I wrote:

The last few days I’ve been coming to some realizations about myself, especially about myself and religion. … I’ve gained a basic belief in God, but it doesn’t mean that much to me. And I want it to. It seems like I’ve been getting farther and farther away from God.

I had grown up going to church, but little had sunk in. I didn’t doubt the existence of God, but I had no idea of how to relate to Him. To me, the Bible was merely a collection of interesting stories, and I had no idea whether Jesus really was the Son of God.

The young man I see in these journal entries had no real beliefs or convictions, no anchor, no direction or sense of purpose.  A year later I went through a brief time of depression, and my only remedy was to increase my training for an intramural half-mile race. In the middle of that period, however, I heard a speaker named Josh McDowell present a message on campus about evidence for the truth of the Scriptures. That sparked some reading of my own, and I acknowledged that the Bible was not only a trustworthy historical document but also the revealed Word of God.

I once was lost but now I’m found

Then the scales fell from my eyes, and I understood the gospel for the first time. I recognized my sin and rebellion against God, and I realized why Christ died for those sins.  In my journal I wrote:

I finally asked Jesus Christ to enter into my heart and guide my life, and I thanked Him for forgiving my sins. There was no bright light flashing, no loud voice proclaiming that I was saved, or anything like that. No great changes have been made in the last two days. But changes will be made …

It is probably the most important decision I will ever make.

At the time I thought I had found God. The truth is He found me.  I suppose that’s why my favorite line in the hymn “Amazing Grace” is, “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”

The cure

So where would I be without Christ in my life?  I’d be on a different road. My heart tells me that, no matter what happened in my professional life, I would have grown into a very unhappy man, drifting with the currents of our culture with no anchor for my soul.

I can’t imagine how I would have maintained a solid marriage. I’m not saying it would have been impossible; I just know my heart, and I know I would have made some destructive choices.

For me, the cure for the sickness of Easter Apathy is remembering what He has done in my life. God knew I once was lost and unable to find Him by my own effort, and He took the initiative to send His Son to pay the penalty for my sin. He made me a new creature, and gave me a new life. Everything I enjoy today — my ministry, my marriage, my children — is a gift from Him.

That’s the miracle of Easter.

 

This article originally appeared in the March 29, 2010 issue of Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter.  To subscribe free to Marriage Memo and other FamilyLife e-newsletters, click here.  For the Marriage Memo archives, click here.

When real conversation requires more than a text



When I was a freshman in college — back when I was skinny and long-haired and pretty inexperienced when it came to relationships — I met a girl named Nancy. We sat together five days a week in a French class, and at some point we began dating. I wouldn’t say it was serious, but between those dates and our class, we certainly saw each other often.

A few months later, the French class was over; we didn’t see each other as often, and the attraction began to fade for me. It was time to be honest with her and tell her that I enjoyed our friendship, but I didn’t see our dating relationship going anywhere. Meet with her and have a mature, yet positive conversation.

Did I mention that, at age 18, I was also stupid and cowardly? We never had that conversation. Instead, I just stopped calling her. Cut her off completely.

My guess is that after a few weeks she figured a couple of things out:

  • I wasn’t going to ask her out on dates any more.
  • I was a jerk who wasn’t worth dating, anyway.

Fast forward a few years, and I see that people today have not gained much in wisdom. When it comes to breaking off a relationship, or working through a conflict, today we have all kinds of new technology that helps us take the easy way out.

If I was the same wimpy kid today and in the same situation, I’d probably break up through e-mail or text messaging. It’s very easy nowadays to use email and text messaging to avoid the difficult real conversations, disagreements, or conflicts.

This applies to all of us, not just singles. We face a disagreement or conflict with a co-worker, a friend, a family member, a wife, and we look for the easy way out by avoiding a face-to-face conversation.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if men are guilty of this more than women.

I’ve found that when I try to resolve something through email, it’s easy to misunderstand each other. Words are misinterpreted or attached to emotions that were not intended. You miss the facial expressions, the body language, and the tone of voice that communicate just as strongly as the actual words.  And, NO, using emoticons doesn’t make it any better :-).

It’s interesting to read some of the scriptural passages about resolving conflict in light of today’s technology. For example, 1 Peter 3:8-9 tells us, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…” (NASB).

What impresses me here is that it’s very difficult to communicate a spirit of harmony, sympathy, kindheartedness, and humility through email or text messaging. These qualities — so essential to resolving a disagreement or conflict — are best conveyed in person.

If you are the type of person who instinctively avoids any type of confrontation, perhaps you’ve settled into this bad habit of using electronic communication to avoid real conversation. Perhaps you’re doing it with your spouse.

Let me encourage you as a man, colleague, father, and husband to step up and into your relationships rather than away from them. Be courageous.

Relationships are multi-faceted and often require heart-to-heart, face contorting, voice inflected communication. And that won’t happen in a text message or email.

Let me ask you: Have often have you tried to resolve a disagreement or conflict with someone by email or text message? How has that worked for you?

A real call of duty to fight real modern warfare



REAL Men fight the REAL Call of Duty

The REAL Call of Duty

Sometimes the simplest gesture can make a big statement.  I remember the weekend when I first brought my Merry (who eventually became my wife) to meet my family in Oregon.  My parents took us to a college basketball game, and it was raining hard when we arrived at the arena.

We had only one umbrella, so Dad dropped us off so we wouldn’t get wet. That really impressed Merry — she thought if my father had that type of servant attitude, some of it must have rubbed off on me.

And though I confess that I haven’t always followed my father’s example, I did learn much from him about being a husband, a father, and a man.  I’m fortunate to have a father who modeled how to take responsibility — he provided well for his family, he loved my mother, he was involved in his church and community, and he worked hard at helping raise my sister and me.  He was consistent, stable, and wise — and he was there for us.

In fact, he still is.

The REAL Modern Warfare

I thought of my father as I was reading about men who won’t grow up.   A number of media reports over time have focused on what some call the “Peter Pan Syndrome” — the growing phenomenon of young men who drift from job to job, live with parents or with a crew of buddies, and focus much of their energy on drinking, carousing, watching sports, playing video games (like Call of Duty® and Modern Warfare®), and chasing women.

It’s as if these young men have developed a warped idea of manhood.  They think becoming a man means getting to do whatever they want.  So for them, starting a family means giving up their cherished independence.  With that type of mindset, you wonder what type of husbands and fathers they will be when they finally set aside their childish ways.

But my father showed me that being a man means taking responsibility — for your choices, for your family, for your community, and for the next generation — this is our REAL call of duty as men — taking responsibility when we would rather be passive.  And a key step to becoming that man is to eventually find a wife and raise a family.  This is hard to do if we are still at home, playing video games and not working.

Our sinful, human nature craves independence; we want to go our own way, and avoid the responsibilities of commitment to God and to other people.  As Isaiah 53:6 tells us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”  In other words, we are prone to be men who won’t grow up.

Yet we live in a culture that celebrates youth and beauty and independence — even at the expense of growing up.  Many young men today immerse themselves in a world of media entertainment and diversions that tell them it’s okay to live a self-centered lifestyle, free of commitments to anything beyond endless and mindless pleasure.

I could also make a good argument that this culture can influence men in their later years.  How many men revert to adolescent behavior in middle age and leave their wives and families to pursue the excitement and adventure they feel they’re missing?

What Men Need to Grow Up and STEP UP

In a culture like this, where can men — young and old — learn how to become real men?  The simple answer is:  From other men.  Whether we are young or old, we need other men in our lives who will teach us, model for us, and encourage us to make the right choices.

Husbands and fathers need to step up and take responsibility for raising the next generation.

Boys growing up without fathers need men who will step into their lives and mentor them.

And men who refuse to grow up need peers and mentors who will exhort them to act like men.

As Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, writes, “While none of us ever outgrow the need for having other men to mentor us, to watch behind us, to hold us accountable, it is an absolute essential for those who would admit that their teenage tendencies are still pretty strong inside. If you find yourself grown but still exhibiting immature, adolescent behavior on a fairly regular basis, you need people around you who can call you up and out.”

And that’s how men grow up … they step up with each other’s help.

Copyright (c) 2014 FamilyLife.

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