We all get angry sometimes.
Watching the news for a few minutes is a reminder that the world is filled with angry people and angry people tend to hurt other people which causes more anger. It’s hard to escape the cycle. My kids’ favorite game on my iPhone is “Angry Birds,” so apparently, even the birds are angry now!
I can’t blame the news or the birds, because I get angry as much as anyone. I tend to let it all build up little by little until something small sets it off like a tiny spark igniting a nuclear explosion and I turn into an Ogre that nobody wants to be around! If we’re not careful, anger can rob us of our joy, destroy our relationships and leave a path of destruction and despair in our wake.
Anger starts early. My youngest son is only 18 months old, but he can already throw a serious fit or slap you in the face when he doesn’t get his way. Some of us never outgrow those childish tantrums, but as we get older, they become more and more damaging.
When God created us, He knew that we would struggle with anger. In His infinite love, he wants to spare us the unnecessary pain that it can cause, so He gives us clear instruction for how to overcome it. Here are a few principles that will bring more peace to your marriage, your family and your life in general.
1. Learn to control you anger or else your anger will control you.
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” Ephesians 4:26
“Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” Proverbs 29:11
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
2. Focus on the positive instead of focusing on the triggers that make you angry.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
3. When you’ve blown it, make it right! Let Grace and Peace replace the rage.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.” Galatians 1:3
We’d love to hear from you! How has anger impacted your life and relationship? What has helped you overcome? Please Comment and share you experiences.
One of the most popular TV movies in recent years was Lifetime’s “The Client List” which chronicled the “true story” of a Texas wife and mom who started making income by working as a prostitute. Her double life was finally brought to light when the brothel was raided by police and her secrets were exposed. Her husband was disgusted and shocked and she was eventually abandoned by everyone she loved including him.
You might think that kind of provocative storyline only happens on TV, but the Bible actually has a similar story, but with a very different ending (and you thought the Bible was boring)! The Bible’s version is about a man named Hosea and a wife named Gomer. Hosea loved his wife unconditionally and those conditions were put to the test when she abandoned her husband and family to return to her old life of prostitution which she’d been in before their marriage.
By the time Hosea found out, they’d had several children and he wasn’t sure if any of them were his. To make matters even worse, her crimes had landed her in prison and based on the laws of the day, her next step was to be sold into slavery to repay her debts. Hosea had every earthly right to write her off and leave her to the fate she had created for herself, but God had a different plan. God wanted to use this whole situation to show the amazing grace and unimaginable love He has for us even in those moments when we are completely unworthy.
God moved Hosea’s heart towards forgiveness and compassion. He went to that slave auction and took most his life’s savings to purchase back his wife. Based on the culture’s legal system, she now would have had no rights at all. He would have had all the power in the relationship and he could have used it to punish her for the rest of her life. Knowing this, she bowed her head to him and called him “Master.”
What happened next is one of the most beautiful displays of grace ever recorded. In essence, he looks at her and says, “Never call me your Master…call me your Husband.”
He gave up his rights to punish, control or humiliate her, and instead, he welcomed her home as his wife. This simple but powerful act of forgiveness shows us a beautiful picture of the unmerited grace and love God offers to us all.
I’m not sure how trust has been broken in your marriage, and I’m definitely not advocating that you give your spouse a free pass to break their vows, because a healthy marriage must be built on trust, accountability and mutual respect. My hope is simply that this story will open your mind and your heart a little wider to let more love and grace flow into your marriage.
If we deserved forgiveness, it wouldn’t be called “Grace.” If we could earn it, it wouldn’t be real Love.
Next to God’s Grace, my wife Ashley is the greatest gift in my life, but if I would have been following my own plan, I never would have met her!
It was my sophomore year in college and everything was coming together with “My Plan.” I had applied for a Study Abroad program that was going to allow me to spend my Junior Year of college in England. I was already practicing my Austin Powers impersonation and listening to classic British rock music to get geared up for a year overseas. I had wanted this for a long time and it was finally happening. All the doors were opening. Life was good, until…
I started feeling uneasy about it. I realized that I had never really prayed about this. I had just assumed that because I wanted it, that it must be God’s plan. Honestly, I didn’t pray about it, because I wasn’t really interested in God’s opinion. I naively and selfishly thought my opinion was the one that really counted.
I finally swallowed my pride and started talking to God about the situation, and as I did, my worst fears were realized…I felt like God was saying, “Don’t go!” The more I prayed about it the clearer that message seemed to get, until I finally made the painful phone call to withdraw my name from the program. The guy on the other end other the phone thought I was crazy, and as I hung up the phone, I thought he was probably right!
I spent all summer moping around and wrestling with bitterness and resentment about the whole situation. I was angry with God and mad at the world, because my plans weren’t happening the way I thought they should. Instead of packing for England, I was stuck in the same place I had always been. I felt like I was being punished for something.
I carried that negative attitude into the first day of school, and that’s when it happened. That’s when I was slapped in the face by God (in a good way). On that first day, in my very first class, in a moment that I never would have been there had I followed my own plan instead of God’s…she walked in. As soon as I saw her, I knew what God had been up to. It was like He was winking at me.
Ashley is my best friend and every day with her is such a gift. Our three boys are the light of our world, and none of that would have ever happened if I had forced my own agenda instead of stepping out in faith and allowing God’s agenda to replace mine.
If you’re at a crossroads in life, please pray before you step! That “Perfect Plan” you have might be the wrong one. Remember that God loves you and His plans for you are perfect. When He closes a door, it’s only because He wants to open a better one! Even if you have stepped off course, remember that His Grace is bigger than your biggest mistakes! Trust Him to redirect you back to His perfect plans.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Sex is one of the most powerful gifts God ever created. It was designed to bring a man and woman together in a physical, emotional and spiritual bond that would create, pleasure, intimacy and also procreation. Marriages that neglect or misuse this gift are headed for frustration and most likely, divorce. Most marriages that don’t prioritize what happens in the bedroom will usually end in a courtroom.
I was reminded of this when some friends of mine were having a marriage crisis and headed for divorce. They had drifted far apart and felt that there was no marriage left. As a last effort, they decided to take a “30-Day Challenge” and committed to having sex every day for a month. By the end of the month, their marriage was stronger and their intimacy was reignited. Their marriage had new momentum which has carried them forward. They’re the first to say that “it takes a lot more than sex to build a strong marriage, but it’s impossible to build a strong marriage without it!”
Here are a few things every married couple needs to know about sex:
1. You should be having more of it.
Healthy couples make sex a priority. I’m convinced that many (if not most) arguments in marriage stem from sexual frustration. Here’s a short video I created on “Why You Should be having More Sex!” sex and marriage (3-minute video)
2. You should ONLY be having it with each other!
It’s sad that we live in a world, where I have to clarify this, but monogamy is the only way a marriage can work. Don’t look outside your marriage to fulfill your sexual needs, and I would argue that this includes porn. Bringing another person into your bed or you mind will eventually destroy the intimacy God intended sex to be enjoyed exclusively between a husband and wife.
3. Better sex starts with getting better in other areas outside the bedroom.
When communication is better, your sex life will usually improve, so talk, text and flirt with each other throughout the day. When you’re serving each other’s needs in other areas (Guys, this means be willing to do the dishes and help more around the house), your sex life will usually improve. When you show genuine thoughtfulness to one another throughout the day, the night is more likely to end well!
4. Don’t use sex as leverage.
In some marriages, sex (or denying sex) is used as a way to reward or to punish the other spouse. Over time, this practice will cheapen the power of sex, cause resentment and also erode the trust and intimacy in your marriage.
5. Have fun!
Sex is supposed to be fun, so enjoy it! As you do, you’ll find your stress levels decreasing, your laughter increasing, and a more positive outlook on life together.
We’d love to hear what you and your spouse have learned about the power of sex. Please comment (without getting too graphic, please!)
This past weekend, some buddies of mine talked me into doing a “Mud Run” with them. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, basically you wake up early on a Saturday morning, put on some old clothes, meet up with some friends, and spend several hours running through mud, cold creeks, obstacles, and everything that nature has to throw at you. It’s crazy, and painful and AWESOME! By the end of it, you’re exhausted, bloody, and muddy but you feel an unbelievable sense of accomplishment.
As I’ve been resting my aging body and reflecting back on the experience, I’ve realized that this Mud Run has a lot of parallels to life, faith and marriage. There are going to be a lot of moments when life is muddy, difficult and filled with obstacles, but if we don’t quit, we can overcome! Here are a few principles that have come into focus for me.
1. We can’t win alone.
Many of the obstacles on the course were designed to be impossible to accomplish without your team helping you out, and the race wasn’t over until the entire team crossed the line. That’s a beautiful picture of marriage. We don’t win unless we win together and we can’t make it unless we’re helping each other along the way. Even if you’re unmarried, remember that God never intended for any of us to run the race of life alone. He wants us to work together with Him, and He is there by our side through it all carrying us when necessary.
2. Struggles create strength.
Our tendency in life is to avoid obstacles and to complain when we have to face them, but in this race, the obstacles defined the experience. Never see your obstacles as punishments or curses, but as opportunities to develop strength. Allow them to make you better, not bitter.
3. You can’t lose if you don’t quit.
The only way to fail the race is to quit, and in life and marriage, that same principle usually holds true. Don’t give up! When you cross the finish line. you’ll be so glad that you didn’t give up. Quitting always leads to regret, but pushing through the pain and finishing strong always leads to joy.
4. The journey bonds you together.
My buddies and I are closer than ever because we conquered the course together. If we would have just spent the morning sipping coffee and talking about sports, the day would have already been forgotten, but now, we have an epic experience to share for years to come!
Whatever challenges you are facing right now in your relationships, finances, health or life in general, tackle those trials with courage and be willing to get muddy and bloody along the way. Our greatest breakthroughs usually happen outside our comfort zones! Once you cross the finish line, I can guarantee that you will feel incredible!
Love is a powerful and beautiful gift from God. It is the foundation of every healthy relationship, but we tend to throw the word “love” around pretty casually. Just in the last 24 hours, I’ve said, “I love ice cream, I love my kids, I love my wife, I love that movie, I love that song, I love your shoes, I love that you are reading my blog right now….” You get the point!
With all the “love” floating around out there, I think it is easy to lose track of what love is really all about.
One of the most famous passages in the Bible (which you’ve probably heard read at weddings many times) is all about Love. I believe this poetic portion of Scripture from 1 Corinthians 13 outlines some key “Laws of Love” that will help us in our marriages, our friendships, our faith and every important relationship in life.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
1. Love is an action, not a feeling.
We talk about “falling in love” and usually what we mean is, “This person is really hot and has a great personality and I feel funny inside when I’m around them.” All those feelings can be a fun part of the process, but love isn’t defined by our feelings; it’s defined by our choices and commitments.
2. Love has no expiration date.
When we commit ourselves to someone (especially in the bond of marriage), our commitment must hold strong regardless of the changing circumstances of life. Even when we don’t have the strength to keep loving, God’s grace makes it possible. There is no real love without real commitment.
3. Love brings out the best in us.
Love doesn’t keep score or play games. That means that we must place the needs of the ones we love above our own needs and do so even when they’re being “unlovable.” God loves us even when we’re at our worst and then calls us to love each other with the same type of unending commitment. When we’re giving genuine love, it will bring out the best in us and the best in those we love. Love guides our motives, words and actions in a more life-giving way.
4. Love heals when life hurts.
The kindness, compassion and protection of love has healing power even in life’s most devastating circumstances. True love rushes into the pain when everyone else is running away. When you love someone, be the one who heals their wounds, not the one who inflicts them. Be the one who wipes away their tears, not the one who causes them.
Please keep these “laws” in mind every time you hear or say those beautiful words, “I love you!”
We’ve all had days (and maybe even years) when life just doesn’t seem to be going our way!
I’ve had long seasons of life where I felt like nothing was working and everything was out of whack, and I’ve had frustrating days where I just can’t seem to get anything accomplished. This morning was one of those times…
I was getting all three of our boys ready for school which is a massive undertaking and makes me respect my wife even more because she is normally the one doing it! Amidst the screaming infant and complaining gradeschoolers, there was a mess in the kitchen, a dirty diaper on the floor, toothpaste on the sink and stress in the air. When we FINALLY got out the door, Connor had forgotten something and had to run back in. The door was open just long enough for (I’m not making this up) a bird to fly in the house.
Now, I’ve got to figure out a way to get the bird out of the house and all the kids loaded up as fast as I can. I eventually got the bird out (unharmed) and the kids loaded and just before I pulled out onto the main road, a garbage truck cut me off and started driving about five miles per hour and stopping at every other house. I wasn’t sure whether to scream or laugh at the irony of it.
In the grand scheme of things, a stressful morning doesn’t impact life or eternity all that much, but in those longer seasons of joblessness, sickness, financial stress, marriage strain and other ongoing life events, the stress and frustration can seem overwhelming. Here are a few things I’ve learned to remember in those challenging seasons of life that have helped me and I pray they help you as well!
1. Remember that your Character should always be stronger than your Circumstances.
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we choose to respond. In those moments when I choose to stop complaining and instead give thanks to God for the good in my life, the parts that seem bad start to seem much less significant. Choose to keep a positive attitude and thankful heart regardless of what you’re going through.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
2. Remember that your Struggles always lead to Strength.
Every difficulty in your life, whether big or small, is something God will use to produce more strength, faith and perseverance in you if you let Him! All your pain has a purpose.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
3. Remember that God’s timing is always perfect.
God’s plans are almost always different from our plans, but His plans are always perfect! Have the patience to wait on His timing instead of forcing your own.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
4. Remember that God will never leave your side.
You may feel like you’re going through this struggle all alone, but from the moment you ask Jesus to bring you into God’s family, He will be by your side to the end so never lose hope!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
If you have gone through a difficult time (or you are in one now), please comment and share what you’ve learned through your experience.
Trust is a tricky thing. It is the foundation of every healthy relationship. It is the security that makes intimacy possible. It can be simultaneously strong and yet very fragile. It takes great effort and time to build, but it can be broken quickly.
Almost every relationship has encountered difficulties over broken trust. I would even argue that most difficulties in relationships stem directly from a breach of trust. Strong relationships (especially marriages) require strong trust, so here are a few ways to to build it (or rebuild it).
1. Don’t keep secrets.
In marriage, secrets are as dangerous as lies. Your spouse should have a “master key” to every part of your life. Never have a conversation you wouldn’t want them to hear, view a website you wouldn’t want them to see or go someplace you wouldn’t want them to know about. Complete transparency is vital to building complete trust.
2. Recognize the difference between forgiveness and trust.
Forgiveness and trust are two different things. When you’ve been wronged, you should give forgiveness instantly (which is “Grace”), but you should give your trust slowly (which is “common sense!”). Forgiveness by it’s very nature cannot be earned; it can only be given. Trust by it’s very nature cannot be given; it can only be earned. Forgiveness has to come first and then grace can pave the way to restoration and renewed trust.
3. Don’t retaliate.
When we’ve been wronged, we usually have an urge to punish the person who wronged us. We want them to feel the pain that they have caused us, but this kind of thinking hurts everyone involved and damages trust even more. It’s been said, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies!” When you’ve been wronged in a relationship, give clear and specific guidelines for how trust can be restored, but don’t punish the other person.
4. Be consistent.
When you are in a process of rebuilding trust, do your very best to be consistent in your words and your actions. Consistency brings security and security eventually brings trust.
5. Be willing to temporarily give up some freedoms.
When an arm is broken, it has to be put in a cast to restrict its motion so it can have time to heal. When you’ve broken trust, you must be willing to temporarily give up certain freedoms and accept certain restrictions to allow time for healing. This is usually the most uncomfortable part of the process, but it’s vital.
6. Keep the Love alive.
The Bible says that, “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” I love that picture of love being strong enough to cover our imperfections and fill in the cracks of our broken hearts. Keep loving each other and allow God to use the power of love and grace to bring wholeness and healing to your relationship.
If your relationship has survived broken trust, please comment and share what you learned through the process.
Communication does for your marriage what breathing does for your lungs! Consistent communications lays the foundation for every healthy relationship. The problem is, most of us aren’t very good at it.
When my wife and I got married, we assumed that just because we were pretty good with words and both had college degrees in Communication, that we would just naturally communicate well in our marriage, but we learned the hard way that healthy communication takes A LOT of effort! Here are a few tips we have learned along the way that have helped us and may help you too.
1. Never say, “We need to talk.”
For most guys, those are the scariest words in the English Language. When you need to address some important issues, tackle them head on, but don’t create unnecessary dramatic buildup beforehand. Just find a good moment for a conversation and then start talking. Remember that our spoken words communicate more effectively than our text messages, so don’t tackle big issues via text. Have a real conversation.
2. Listen before responding.
Listening requires focus on what your spouse is saying. Don’t use the time while they’re talking to think about your response; use the time to try to fully and completely understand where they’re coming from. Ask questions to help you clarify their concerns and make sure you have a grasp on understanding their perspective before responding.
3. Eliminate distractions.
You can’t have a productive conversation with your spouse while watching TV, texting somebody, checking facebook or thinking about all the stuff you need to do as soon as they’re done talking. Turn off your phone and any other distractions so you can focus on each other.
4. Get moving.
Our minds become sharper when we’re engaging in some type of activity, so your talks might become richer while you’re on a walk than they are while you’re sitting on a couch. Even going for a drive can make for better conversation. Sometimes new scenery can create new conversations.
5. Be an Encourager.
There is so much power in our words. You have the power to bring out the best in your spouse or the worst in your spouse by the words you speak to them. Choose to be their biggest Encourager, not their biggest Critic. Celebrate all they’re doing right and they’ll be much more likely to listen in those moments when you need to talk about something they may be doing wrong.
6. Fight fair.
In those moments when you need to tackle a disagreement, don’t sling mud or bring up old hurts. Work together to constructively find a solution. Remember that as a married couple, you’re united, so there’s not a “winner” and a “loser” in the argument. You’ll either win together or lose together, so find a solution that works for you both.
7. Communicate Love.
It’s important to regularly say, “I love you,” but it’s even more important to communicate your love through your actions. In every way possible, show your spouse your commitment, respect, affection and love for them.
What additional Communication Tips have worked in your marriage? What would you add to this list?
There are millions of way to strengthen your marriage. In no particular order, here are twenty-one…
1. Have more SEX, but make sure you’re ONLY having it with each other!
2. Don’t keep secrets from each other. COMMUNICATE about everything.
3. Argue less. Cuddle more.
4. Don’t get deep in debt and if you’re already there, work together to get out of it!
5. Pray together, find a healthy church and make FAITH a foundation for your life together.
6. Turn off your phones. Talking with each other is better than texting with someone else!
7. Pull the car over and make out more often.
8. Leave LOVE NOTES for each other.
9. Send flowers on unexpected days, not just holidays.
10. Don’t ignore problems in your relationship. Deal with them quickly and aggressively.
11. Be quick to remember each other’s positive traits and quick to forget each other’s flaws.
12. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive and seek FORGIVENESS when you’ve wronged each other.
13. Don’t waste time or energy comparing your lives to anyone else’s. God’s plan for you is masterfully unique.
14. Go on long walks and HOLD HANDS.
15. Make “DATE NIGHT” a priority! Time alone together is vital for your continued growth and health.
16. Give COMPLIMENTS constantly, and never give insults.
17. When you’re happy, laugh together. When you’re sad, cry together. Whatever you do, do it together!
18. Show LOVE and RESPECT to each other even in those moments when you don’t feel like it.
19. Keep dreaming new dreams and making big plans together. Don’t get stuck in a predictable rut.
20. ENCOURAGE each other. Build each other up so much that nothing in the world can tear you down.
21. NEVER give up on each other!