Simple Steps to An Affair-Free Marriage, Part 2

Step 4: Keep the Fire Burning

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned – Song of Solomon 8:6-7

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love – Proverbs 5:18-19

Time and distance are constant enemies of marriage. The natural flow of relationships is never towards but away from each other. It takes work to make a relationship work!

Remember when you and your spouse were dating/courting. You worked to prove your love to each other. You wrote notes, bought flowers, made gifts, took time, talked, served and preferred each other. What about now? Do you approach the same “duties” with the same fervor or are you just going through the motions? Are you just being romantic so that “momma stays happy because if she ain’t happy, then nobody’s happy?”

People who are labeled as “romantic” work at being just that. It doesn’t come natural but being selfish and thinking about “my wants and my needs” does come easy. So you’ve got to plan. You must prepare.

It’s just like having a campfire or a fireplace. You have to sometimes stoke the fire or blow into it to see the flames rise. Sometimes you have to add more wood or even squirt an accelerant. Then, whoosh! The fire is raging and burning much hotter than it did before.

Your marriage deserves the same, if not more, attention. Throw some fuel into it. Have regular date nights but don’t be boring and predictable. Plan to be intimate. Yeah, I said it, plan it! There is definitely room for spontaneity but if you have kids, you know that there’s not much room for surprises. Ladies, give your husband some money and send him to the store to buy you something to wear. Text your husband a “message” and let him know what’s waiting for him.

You don’t have to be ashamed. Remember, these are all honorable in marriage according to God. I love what Proverbs 5 says, “be thou ravished ALWAYS with her love.” Enough said.

Step 5: Remember Your Family & Friends

As a husband, father, assistant pastor, couples’ teacher and school principal, I have people (both young and old) that observe my life. Now, I’m not taking these steps for them, per sé, but they are affected by what I do.

Not only is your spouse affected by your affair (physical or emotional) but so are your kids, your friends, and your church. Everyone feels a level of pain because of the selfish and sinful act. Having an affair is not a victimless crime!

I remember talking to a young person a few years ago who foolishly exclaimed, “I think marriage is a joke.” After asking him why he thought that, I soon discovered that his dad had been unfaithful multiple times to his mom. In his eyes, what’s the point of getting married and being committed? After explaining to him what the Bible says about marriage and the blessing that it is, he apologized and had a different perspective on marriage.

A dad’s foolish affair affected his son’s attitude and perspective that day. You can do the same, too.

(the article will be concluded next week)

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A Simple Act That Made a Big Difference

Over a year ago, my family and I stumbled upon a community event. Every year our town hosts a Veterans’ Day ceremony and I remember telling my wife, “This would be a good event to expose our students to.” At that point, I made a reminder on my phone to research out the dates for the following year (2013) and to make sure that I place that date on our school calendar.  Continue reading

Finish Strong

When a team wins a championship or an individual wins in a competition, the focus is often on the product rather than the process. No one asks about the practice sessions, the strict dietary guidelines, and the training it took to position themselves for winning. We celebrate the victory (and we should) but forget about what it took to get there.

As we approach the end of the school year, both parents and teachers are constantly telling their students to “finish strong!” We must however realize that without the right foundation, not only will finishing be tough, it may be impossible!

This past week I purchased a bike to help me with my fitness goals. I see people riding their bikes everyday. It looks easy enough. After all, isn’t that where we get the expression, “It’s just like riding a bike?” And yet, after a few moments on my bike, I realized that expression is not always true. Praise the Lord I didn’t fall or hurt myself but this thought came to my mind, “I don’t remember biking being this hard!” There were three reason for the difficulty.

First, it has been a long time since I rode a bike. I’ve pedaled a few times here and there but nothing like pedaling for training purposes. It was torturous!

Sometimes, Christians think that when they fall away from their spiritual habits it’s going to be easy to just pick it back up. When your spiritual life atrophies much like my biking muscles did, there’s going to be some challenges. This is why being consistent and not quitting is so important. Satan knows if he can get you to stop for a period of time, the likelihood of you continuing the race is slim.

Biking was difficult, secondly because I am a lot heavier now that when I used to ride all the time. It’s the law of physics! Gravity was slowing my bike down and my weight has something to do with it!

Hebrews 12 tells us that we need to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…” Riding was hard because of all my extra weight. Likewise living for God is burdensome when we have extra baggage!

Lastly, biking was a challenge to me because the original seat was too hard. I know this sounds petty but if I am going to enjoy riding long distances, I need comfort.

How often Christians try to “kick against the pricks” when it comes to their walk with God. You and I cannot reason away our disobedience and lack of commitment to God. He has said it and that settles it! Obedience to God is nonnegotiable.

Do you realize a life of disobedience is an uncomfortable, unfulfilling life? We live with a critical, complaining, and carnal spirit when we are at odds with the Lord. The ride to Heaven becomes unnecessarily hard. The goal is not to cover the seat but to change it; the goal is not to just have more good works than bad, rather it is  to put off the works of the flesh and to continue to walk in the Spirit.

I want to keep riding and want to finish strong. But that won’t happen if I don’t have a good foundation; if I don’t consistently eat right, work right, and live right. Likewise at the end of my life, I want to say as the Apostle Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” But if I don’t daily feast on the Word of God, continually do the work of God, and consistently live for God, I will be a castaway.

Finish strong? Sure. Win the battle. Absolutely. Keep the faith. Without question. But don’t forget what it takes to get to that goal. Better yet, don’t forget Who it takes to get to that goal- I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST!

The Art of the Dunk

When I began coaching our basketball team this season, I was excited about a couple of the new players we had. One of them, a 6’3” junior, had never played basketball before. Needless to say, I began to imagine all that our team can do with a young man of that size.

During the first week of practice, the boys were talking about dunking the basketball while they were shooting around. I asked the team, “Who here would like to know how if feels to dunk a basketball?” Of course everyone raised their hands. Then I asked, “How many would like to commit to working on learning to dunk a basketball?” Only two raised their hands. I told them that if they worked on the exercises I provide for them, they’ll be dunking by the end of the season.

One of the players that committed had to withdraw from the team for medical reasons. So I was left with my 6’3” project!

Throughout practice, this young man displayed great resolve and commitment. Even through some very difficult and very painful drills, he chose not to quit. There were times I was sure he wanted to give up but he willed himself to take the next step, then the next, then the next. What made me respect this player more was that sometimes after a hard practice, he would go home and workout some more.

So after practice last Thursday, as we were waiting for parents to arrive, this young man just started jumping for the rim. I saw how much of the rim he was grabbing when I told him, “You’re ready for your first dunk.” I had another player grab an orange from a tree. I placed that orange in his hand and told him to dunk it. He did! He went to the ball cage and grabbed a small basketball. He dunked it again! Over and over for the next twenty minutes he would dunk, smile, stretch, and dunk again. He was so happy to accomplish a personal goal he had set for himself athletically. I was proud of him, too!

Then I began to think, how often we set goals that will have nothing to do with eternity. I am not belittling the hard work and dedication this young man possessed. But can you imagine if Christians dedicated themselves to spiritual matters as much (and if not, more so) as they do the physical aspects of life. Make no mistake, biblical principles were exercised to accomplish the goal and they will be lessons that will benefit him for the rest of his life. But what about working that hard (and not quitting) in our Bible reading, our prayer life, our soul winning, our service, our stewardship, our relationships, and other similar spiritual areas?

Someday, this young man will be old and his dunking days will be over. But the Scripture he reads and souls he wins to the Lord will last for all eternity!

The Value of a Youth Conference

As a teenager, my parents allowed me to go to as many youth conferences as possible. Let me say here that all my family and I have ever known since we we got saved were independent, fundamental, soul winning, missionary-minded, separated, King James only, Baptist church. So the conferences I went to as a teen accomplished what I believe every youth conference should accomplish.

It was at a youth conference when God led me to attend a Bible college. It was at a youth conference when God callede to preach. These two major decisions in my life were clear catalysts for the way God would work in my life. I can honestly say that if it were not for God using these conferences, I would not be where I am today!

What makes youth conferences effective in moving young people to a decision? Here are a few reasons they made a difference for me.

1. The atmosphere

No one denies the fact that youth conferences are planned and designed to encourage young people to be excited about giving their lives to Christ. The skits, videos, decorations, etc.- they all make teens feel right about serving the Lord.

In addition, as teenagers see their peers following God, they are more likely to act out what God has been leading in their heart to do. Peer pressure now becomes positive rather than negative. Whether as an adult or teen, you’ve got to admit, it’s easier to do right when it exciting and involves more than just you.

2. The activities

What’s wrong with a trip to the theme park? Or a miniature golf activity? Activities at a youth conference oftentimes diffuses a typical belief Satan has fed out teenagers and that is, “Christians can’t have fun without sinning.” What a lie!

We don’t have to sacrifice our testimony and standards to have a great time. There is joy in serving Jesus! Besides, these activities prove that Christian friendship is better than worldly companionship. Activities are great!

3. The accountability

Whenever a teenager is at a youth conference, they will make decisions. It is essential that when these decisions are made that their spiritual counselors are ready to help them discern God’s workings on their heart. They will have questions and as spiritual leaders, we better have answers!

Moreover, the further away they get from the conference, the harder it is to keep their decisions. We must remind them that God does not make mistake and that what He told these teenagers back at the conference is still true today.

4. The admonition

Finally, how can you go wrong when you subject a teenager to intensne preaching for a period of time? Remember that God’s Word will never return void. It pierces, it purges, it purifies, and perfects. Biblical preaching will transform teenagers’ lives!

The effects of a youth conference are eternal. It is better than the skills they may pick up at sports camp. So the next time you have the opportunity to send a teenager to a youth conference, go for it! Then watch God do a work you didn’t even expect.

Athletes Helping Haiti

Tyler protecting the sign despite the strong winds.

Unless you live in some cave or isolated cabin without any connection to the outside world, you have undoubtedly heard about earthquake devasted Haiti. Thousands of lives lost. Millions left without homes. Many more injured, some for life. Haiti has been forever changed because of what took place on January 12, 2010.

Immediately, millions of Americans sought to be a help. Fundraising efforts were organized. Rescue teams were mobilized. Help began to pour into one of the poorest nations on the western hemisphere. You must admire and appreciate the spirit of the American people when a need of this magnitude arises anywhere around the globe.

Yet, in the midst of all this, for the American people life goes on. People go to work. Students go to school. Homes unaffected by the quake go back into their respective routines. Once again, many become slaves to their own calendars. Then there’s the group of student-athletes at Gateway Baptist Academy, where I am blessed to be a principal.

Last Thursday evening, we had scheduled a fundraiser for our school’s sports program. As in everything, the beginning stages of a program can be the most expensive as you purchase equipment, uniforms and other miscellaneous items. Hence the need to raise funds. However, after a few comments from students, I sensed a desire to do much more with these funds than what was planned.

After meeting with all the student-athletes, it was confirmed. They wanted to help the people of Haiti. In an era were athletes can be so self-centered, I was proud to be the principal of a group that wanted a portion of their funds to go to the missionaries on the ground in Haiti. These funds will be used to buy supplies for the people of Haiti as well as meet their physical and spiritual needs. Wow! Let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of teenagers today that are thinking about the needs of their families, much less the needs of other people across the world.

I’ve said this many times before, I have the best “job” in the world. To have the daily opportunity to train each student to have the mind of Christ, what can be better than that? It is not always the easiest task. There are times of criticism and discouragement. I have even at times asked if it’s all worth it. On one Thursday evening, as the wind howled and the rain fell upon the Arizona desert floor, I can emphatically say, “Yes! It is worth it!”  Thank God for teenagers who think of people other than themselves.

The kids are thinking, "Chicken or steak?"