Category: Marriage (page 2 of 2)

I Love Church

I love church. I always will. Call me an idealist, but I still believe that Jesus meant for us to live life in a big messy family, to love one another when we are not that adorable and to be in covenant relationships even at the risk of our own hurt.

For me, church is not a gym membership to be used whenever I feel motivated and abandoned as soon as the new, more modern gym opens up down the street. Church is family. It is not a building, a corporation or a weekend meeting that we are compelled to attend out of habit. It is grandparents hoping to leave a legacy, families trying to thrive, single moms hoping to survive, students searching for truth and children being in awe.

Pam and I have belonged to five churches in 21 years of marriage and each time we left one, it was to move to another city to serve another body. We don’t church hop because we don’t hop from one family to another. If we become a part, we stick and we serve, even when things get tough.

We believe the local church is the best expression of God on the earth, so we give our time, our talents and our money to help the church. We complain to each other in private, but at the end of the day, we are loyal to the bride Christ left behind. We are convinced that lovers of the bride will get the chance to heal the bride. Cynics will never be a part of the solution.

The church will be here long after I am gone and has endured a lot more pain than I have encountered. Miracles, redemption, forgiveness, hope and healing happen in church. Even when she is broken, the church is still the product of men and women who have sacrificed much and surrendered more. Jesus gave everything for her. I love church. I always will.

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Are you a workaholic?

Workaholics have damaged and destroyed more families than alcoholics, especially among leaders in the local church.  I meet pastors all the time who work incessantly at building God’s house while ignoring their own. All the while they justify their long hours with phrases like “this is just a season and will not always be like this” or “God has given me a big assignment”.  Meanwhile, back home, their spouses and children get what is left over at the end of the day.

How do you know if you have become addicted to work and performance? What are the signs that you may be out of balance? Here’s a few to consider.

•1. You have not taken a full day off from ministry in more than a month.  When was the last time you turned off your phone and refused to check work emails for an entire 24-hour cycle?

•2. You have not taken more than five days of vacation in a long time. Five days is what it takes for me to detox from the demands of ministry. I cannot even rest and regenerate until the sixth day. If all you have taken are a few days here and there, your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tanks will eventually run dry.

•3. You feel guilty for not attending every event at the church.  When was the last time something significant happened at your church and you stayed home instead of attending? I know this will be shocking news to you, but your team is capable of doing stuff well without you looking over their shoulders.

•4. You have a high turnover on your team. Workaholics demand the same performance from those around them as they do of themselves. Typically, workaholics hang around each other, like alcoholics, and enable each other to continue their destructive behaviors. All those who cannot keep up with the frenetic pace are quickly discarded.

•5. You are constantly frustrated that you are not growing fast enough. Workaholics are obsessed with numerical measurements of growth. Even when attendance is growing, it is never fast enough for workaholics. Their identity is wrapped up in performance and results, instead of the internal spiritual maturity that is most important to God.

I was once a workaholic and it almost cost me everything. I am guilty of all five symptoms listed above, but I have been restored to a balanced life that allows me to work hard at the church I love while not sacrificing my family on the altar of ministry.  Be diligent at your job, using your time wisely, but remember to rest well, stop feeling guilty for the occasional nap, and spend time alone with God. Talk to Him about stuff in your heart instead of what is happening at the church building. It works, believe me.

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Phil, Family and Covenant

Life is better when there is someone to celebrate all the victories with you. Phil Mickelson just won his third Master’s golf tournament and I have seen all three. The first one was great because it was his first and it got the proverbial monkey off his back as “the best golfer to never win the big one.” However, the third one made me teary and I am not a man who cries very often. I realized that life is better when the people we love are there to celebrate with us.

Phil’s wife, Amy, almost did not see this victory. She is battling breast cancer and the announcers said she traveled to Augusta, Georgia and the tournament under great distress to watch her husband compete. At the 18th green, she stood with family and her two daughters and watched Phil drain a birdie putt to win his third green jacket. As he embraced her, I realized just how fragile life can be and how wonderful it is to share the highs and lows with people who really love you.

I am a sports fan but I am a bigger fan of family. I love the unbreakable bond of marriage that can withstand anything if we stay committed to God and to one another. Thanks Phil and Amy for reminding all of us today that nothing can separate us from our love for one another and nothing can separate us from the covenant love of God.

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Overcoming a Spouse’s Affair

After last week’s talk at New Life, many people have asked me how someone can recover when their spouse has been unfaithful. I believe in the power of the Gospel to restore all of broken humanity including those who have experienced the deep hurt and trauma of adultery. While the road to complete recovery is sometimes long and demanding, healing can definitely happen. 

How can someone overcome a spouse’s affair?


1.      Forgive the person who violated the covenant.

Forgiveness means you are releasing your spouse to God and trusting God to work deeply in their heart for lasting change. You are not responsible for your spouse’s behavior, but you are responsible to keep your own heart free from bitterness. This is when your heart will begin healing.  When you really release your spouse to God, the spouse no longer has the ability to corrupt your heart and God is released to do what He does best – convict, redeem and restore. 


2.      Get help from someone who can really help you.

This is not a road we are supposed to walk alone. Find a mature, trusted friend or pastor and let them walk alongside you. It is best that this person is objective and able to see above the emotions of the moment so they can give you clear and wise direction. It is certainly ok to go a licensed counselor to deal with the deep inner issues that have surfaced during this trauma in your life.


3.      Talk honestly about your feelings.

You feel the way you feel. If you hurt, say so. If you are angry, yell a little. It is ok not to be ok. Stop all the religious talk and speak candidly. You need ministry and God works best when we have an honest heart before Him.


4.      Do not expect the same relationship as before.

Many times the spouse who has committed the adultery wants you and everyone else to simply forgive them and act as if nothing happened. It is not that simple. You have been violated and abused so the offending spouse cannot be allowed the same trust as before. In fact, the relationship will never be the same as before. Trust is difficult to earn and even tougher to get back. You are not required by Scripture to trust your spouse as before. You have to set new and tighter boundaries for their behavior until they have proven over time they can be trusted. This may take years and that needs to be communicated up front. Anyone can jump through hoops for a short time in order to win back a hurt friend, but someone who is really remorseful and repentant can live free for a lifetime.


 I know couples who have overcome adultery and lived together in strong marriages because they made these fundamental choices up front. I am sad that other couples I know have lost their marriages because they ignored these principles.  Marriage requires a lot of hard work and an unwavering commitment to God and each other. Rest assured, marriage can survive an affair and can even thrive afterwards. This is the power of the Gospel which gives us hope that nothing can separate us from the love of God and because of Him, two people can love again even after the darkest of days.


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