Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Selection

This morning I'm enjoying time with a very special group of people called my Prayer Partners. They serve our church ministry by taking prayer needs to a new level. They pray for specific requests as they come in, come early once a month (different teams each week) to pray over our campus and whomever is speaking that Sunday, plus they pray regularly for me and my family.

It's time for Saturday Selection. Today, I hope you will click over to my blogging friend Dina's blog and read this post. Check out some of her writing and her profile -- you very well may want to follow her all the time!

I hope to be here with you tomorrow...

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened

I'm a pastor. I work at a church. I've heard about every priest/rabbi/pastor joke in existence. I have laughed at various stories -- some real and some fictitious -- about stuff which happened at church. But I had never heard this one!

I was sitting in a meeting with four of our leaders at lunch yesterday. We were getting acquainted because some of them didn't know everyone that well. One guy, a retired military man who moved here from another state, told us about an experience in a former church.

He said that, when the church was somewhat small, they needed new carpet for their sanctuary. Choosing the color became a huge argument between different members who had varying opinions about a color scheme.

During that era, the small city where he lived had a network of giant butane tanks, along with underground lines which took the fuel to buildings. A large energy company came into their city with natural gas and routed it though the existing channels. They didn't realize that some of the gas was pooling underground.

Until it blew up.

Right under the church building.

He said hymnbooks were found on the other side of town (which gives new meaning to "I'll Fly Away"). The building was obliterated.

I guess it stopped the controversy over carpet color!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You Say Goodbye And I Say Hello

We said "Goodbye" to C. Beth, Chickie and Zoodle yesterday. Cathy was nominated as "Grammy Of The Year" because of all the fun she packed into a week with grandkids. I even ate ice cream! We laughed, sang and danced. Grammy taught Chickie the "proper" way to eat olives...

Zoodle got rather shy amidst all the strangers at church Sunday. Sampa took advantage of it...
AND we went to the park. Riding the slide with grandkids beats every roller coaster I ever rode!

When they arrived home, The Engineer was there to pick them up. I wish I could have seen their excited reunion.

Thanks for letting me celebrate with you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Which D?

Drudgery? Disgusting? Dreaded?


Desire? Discipline? Delight?

Julie commented on Sunday and asked how we move through the steps so that our relational world becomes enjoyable. I will give you an answer today, and I will speak from my own experience. In case I sound just a bit too "Pollyanna-ish", I want you to know up front that I don't have a perfect marriage...

...even though Cathy has a perfect husband. OUCH! She just slugged me!

(If you think I'm being a bit too egotistical, read this, about just one of my days of being a jerk. In other words, I don't often take myself seriously.)

Where was I? Oh! How does someone move from Desire to Discipline to Delight?

Most marriages, at least in this part of the world, begin with Desire. This is a family-friendly blog, so I will be careful how I put this. Most women desire a relationship with a man who will love them unconditionally and exclusively. They want a guy who will rejoice over every facet of them as persons. They want someone who will listen and care; someone who will share life with them.

Most men desire sex.

They enter into a relationship, both thinking about what they will receive from it and imagining this perfect, "happily ever after" world where those desires are met.

What they get is a dose of reality where he discovers that she wakes up with the worst breath of the day and she finds out that he leaves his dirty underwear in the middle of the bedroom floor. At this point good relationships MUST shift to Discipline.

The Discipline stage means that each person is learning to make adjustments to meet the needs of the other one. The male is learning to listen and (hopefully) to care. He blows it often, because his wife has much to say and wants him to be interested. When she sees him tuning out, she feels devalued.

In the meantime, the wife is learning that her husband has certain physical needs. Most wives, I believe, want to please their husband physically. However, if the husband who used to always listen, now watches endless sports on TV and plays endless video games, it becomes a matter of discipline to attend to physical intimacy. In simple terms, females are very attuned to emotional intimacy and males aren't.

The conflicts at this stage of the relationship can be world-shaking. Many couples seek outside help at this point and I highly recommend it. In fact, I have seen many marriages lost when one spouse begs to see a counselor and the other stoically refuses.

Moving from Discipline to Delight often takes years. During those years of Discipline, both partners are learning how to work through conflict. At the same time, the man becomes more attuned to the emotional needs of his wife and the wife grows more appreciative of this man who is beginning to fulfill her dream of a life-long, loving marriage.

After 36 years, for Cathy and me, it's Delight.


I still have work to do.

How about you?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It Was Monday... All Day!

On the subject of relationships, perhaps I can blame my cold on my relationship with our grandkids. We were scheduled to Phoenix early this morning to deliver C. Beth, Chickie and Zoodle for a visit with friends before their flight home. In the middle of the night, I could tell that my seasonal allergies were becoming something more.

Up at five, I put the coffee on and jumped in the shower. As I stepped out, Cathy said, "You can relax. You're not going to Phoenix today." It turns out that Zoodle is running a fever.

It also turns out that I have the stuffy, headache-y, weak all over feeling that accompanies a little virus. I still accomplished a good bit at work today and still have our home group tonight...

But I will pick back up on the relationships subject tomorrow. So YOU get a break.

Just don't touch me. I hear that's how the virus spreads!

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Rotten To The Core"

Growing up on a little farm with fruit trees gives today's title very graphic meaning to me. I have bitten into many apples that looked "slightly bruised" on the surface, only to discover they were rotting from the inside out.

I grew up loving fresh apples from the tree. Rotten ones became ammunition when we boys would build cardboard forts and have "rotten apple fights." But that's another story.

Cathy and I sometimes tease each other about being "rotten to the core." However, rottenness in relationships isn't funny.

I promised you yesterday that I would tell you what -- I believe -- is the only reason relationships get rotten. Your comments to yesterday's post indicate that you pretty much figured it out. Here it is, though, straight from the Bible...

We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. (Isaiah 53:6 The Message)

Some time ago, I heard someone say, "We all want to be 'one.' The only problem is that we can't decide which one of us we're going to be." Danae in Non Sequitur has it all figured out. If the whole world would forever and always recognize her as being right, it would be a perfect place to live. At least she's honest about her delusion.

Somehow you and I must face the reality that we all have the tendency to go our own way... And that means conflict! Appropriately dealing with it is, I think, a two-step process.

First, we need to change from the inside out. If our rottenness starts at the core, the core must change. I believe this is what Jesus Christ does with us when we receive Him by faith...

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. (2 Corinthians 5:17 GW)

Second, we much choose -- and keep choosing -- to believe that we are not the center of the universe. On the one hand, we each bring value to our corner of the world. Our ideas, dreams, talents, and gifts can all be offered to make a great difference. On the other hand, we are sometimes wrong, often selfish and always limited.

Consequently, we need each other. I tell married couples, "If both of you always see everything exactly the same way and would take the same action in every situation, one of you isn't necessary!"

In her comments yesterday, Julie asked a question in which she quoted something from my other blog: "Maybe there's some practical step I need to take to move it from "Desire to Discipline to Delight?" I think I will pick that one up tomorrow.

In the meantime, would some more of you like to share a relationship story with us?

Or just comment...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Top Ten Reasons Relationships Are So Messed Up, The Top 25 Reasons...

...uh, The Top 472 Reasons...

...m-m-m-m, The Top Reason...

Today in church I begin a little sermon series entitled, "When Relationships Are The Pits." In a moment, I will tell you what is believe is the only real reason they are so bad. Before I get there, though, let's review how this subject is often covered in our culture. We hear statements like...

"The number one marriage stressor is money. Remove the stress by taking this class..."

"Are work pressures destroying your personal life? Learn how to be your own boss..."

"Unlock the secret that will make him never look at another woman!"

You get the picture. Everyone knows that our relationships are bad, be they in marriage, at work or between nations. Every book, magazine, class or counselor seems to have an interpretation of the problem and a solution that will make it better.

I have a reason that I didn't come up with. And I plan to share it with you. But you have been great about feedback lately and I'd love to hear your thoughts before I give mine. This is not a trick so I can correct you. Rather, it's a way for me to receive help from you as I think my way through the next several weeks of teaching on the subject. Therefore...

Please give me an example of a "Relationship In The Pits." Then, please tell me how you think it got there.

I can't wait to hear your stories.