A Simple Way to Build Love into Your Marriage

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Every marriage is different and every person is different, but every marriage has one thing in common. A desire to be closer and to be more in love. While some couples may feel distant and feel like the fun and love has worn off from their marriage, but it is never too late.

I’m always sad whenever I hear couples talk as if their marriage is as good as it can get.

So, how do you build love back into a loveless marriage? How do you rekindle love that feels like has worn out? How do you feel more fulfilled and happier on your marriage?

Honestly, it isn’t as hard as you might think.

The next time you are with your spouse ask them: What is one thing I can do to make your life more enjoyable? To make you feel more loved? To lessen the stress in your life?

The answers might be: to have coffee ready in the morning, to pick up your clothes, to pick up the kids at school, to have dinner ready by a certain time, to have a meal plan for the week, cleaning the kitchen up before going to bed, no smartphones after 8pm. It might more affection, more date nights, more time alone for mom, more sex, more talking, more face to face activities (what women enjoy) or more shoulder to shoulder activities (which men enjoy). It might be a huge request or a small one.

About 2 years ago, Katie and I were beginning to feel like we had settled into a routine in our marriage that wasn’t good, we asked each other this conversation. We began to see how we had taken the other for granted and what would begin building back into our relationship. Revisiting this conversation can be incredibly helpful for couples.

Now a word of warning. There is a chance that what your spouse will say is something you don’t want to do or think you are already doing and they should be grateful for what you do. It can be easy to blow off what your spouse wants because you don’t want it. This response can be destructive to your marriage because your spouse will probably not mention it again and a divide will begin in your relationship.

As you move forward from this conversation, try it out for a week. See how it goes. Try it out for a month and then evaluate it. You may find it isn’t so bad. Your spouse may decide they really don’t want what they requested as much as they thought.

In the end, you are moving towards bringing love back into your marriage, and that is never a bad thing.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Charles Stone on 8 ways pastors can refresh their tired souls.

The degree to which you love yourself corresponds to the degree to which you love others. Caring for ourselves was difficult for us to do without feeling guilty. We unwittingly thought that dying to ourselves for the sake of the gospel meant dying to marital intimacy and joy in life. We had died to something God had never intended we die to.

J.D. Greear on 4 things you should pray for your pastor.

One of the greatest joys in my life is serving as pastor. But ministry can be both messy and exhausting. That’s why I am so thankful for the prayer warriors in our congregation. I truly believe that one of the main reasons the Summit has grown is simply that God has answered the bold prayers of those in our congregation. The most important ministry anyone in our church can be involved in is that of prayer.

Why most churches are not reaching unchurched 20-something’s.

We want to ask questions.
Voice our doubts.
Explain our struggles.
Confess our sins.
Confide our fears.

And we want the church to do it with us.

Ryan Huguley on Sweat your sermon intro.

The first pastor who really taught me about preaching once told me, “If you open strong, close strong, and hit your transitions, your sermon will take care of itself.” While it’s a bit more complicated than that, he was largely correct. Many sermons fall apart before they even start, crash and burn because of an inability to “land the plane”, or lack clarity due to confusion in transition.

David Murray on The 10 types of church leaders.

The case for fewer friends.

When it comes to friendship, quality matters more than quantity.

Peter Leithart on Are Christians obsessed with Sex?

Are Christians obsessed with sex? I would ask, “Compared to whom?” Peter Leithart argues, “Faced with these charges, we get defensive and protest that we are equally concerned with other things – with economic evils, with militaristic violence, with the degradation of the environment. We shouldn’t be defensive. We should say that we’re concerned about sexual behavior and norms precisely because of the effect they have on the poor, the way sexual immorality is linked with violence. We should say that we guard God’s commandments regarding sex because violation of those commandments will produce social chaos. Sexual behavior and sexual norms are a key barometer of social health. If things are disordered in our bedrooms, they will be disordered in boardrooms and cabinet offices.”

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Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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Making the Most of Lent

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Growing up, I always heard about lent through the “I’m giving up coffee or chocolate for 40 days.” Somewhat of a chore. Always giving up something you liked for what seemed like no real reason.

Katie and I have always been drawn to the church calendar and deep meanings behind it. In our fast paced world, going to our roots in our Christian faith can often be one of the most helpful things. It creates a connection to our history, it often brings the symbolism to life that we lack our Facebook world.

The goal of lent is to spend the 40 days leading up to Good Friday meditating and thinking on the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus in your place and mine.

While fasting from something you spend time on (it might be chocolate, TV, Facebook, Movies, you might fast from a meal each day or do a Daniel Fast). The time that you are fasting, spend that extra time praying, reading Scripture. I’d encourage you to read through the gospel of Mark. One reason is half of Mark focuses on the last week of Jesus, it is the thrust of the entire book. A great way to do that is through YouVersion.

Elliot Grudem and Bruce Benedict put together a great guide for the season of Lent and why followers of Jesus should participate in it. I’d encourage you to read this as a starting point.

And join us, starting March 5th as we go through the season of Lent. Capped off on Good Friday, April 18th, as we go through the Stations of the Cross as a church.

Click here to download the Lent guide we are sharing together as a church.

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What You’re Missing and How it Limits You

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Within Acts 29, a lot of leaders talk about the leadership lens of prophet, priest and king. The idea of using the offices of Jesus to talk about how people see things, how they best work and relate to each other. At Revolution, I find this to be a helpful way to know what a leader is like, what I can expect from them and how they will react in a situation.

The broad overview of these are:

  • Prophet: Tends to be big picture, visionary, bible person. They love to talk about where things are going. They love reading, preaching, theology. They only need a verse to be right. They ask a lot of “why” questions. In preaching, they love doctrine and can get lost in the weeds. They will preach from a letter whenever possible or throw in some Old Testament history or wrath of God just to keep everyone a little scared. They will take 6 months to preach through Jude or Philemon and will happily spend 10 weeks on 3 verses in Romans to make sure everyone gets it.
  • Priest: Tends to be shepherding, caring. They want to make sure that everyone is being taken care of, cared for and is connected. They worry a lot about feelings and how people feel about something. They ask a lot of “who” questions. In preaching, they love stories. They love to preach from the gospels and talk about how things feel. They will sacrifice doctrine to talk about how something feels. If they do say something difficult to hear or are confrontational in a sermon, they will quickly say something to soften the blow and give a verbal hug to the congregation.
  • King: Tends to think strategy and steps. They help to move a vision to reality. Often, they are very organized, detailed and financially minded. They ask a lot of “what and how” questions. In preaching, they love logic, things that add up at the end and steps. They love steps. A sermon is not complete without a next step (or 15), every point starting with the same letter, but it is clear.

These are just broad strokes.

On a leadership team and in a church, all are needed. I am high on the prophet scale with some king thrown in. I need priests around me to make sure that everyone is cared for, but to also challenge me in how I am shepherding and caring for people. I need kings to help make my visions happen. I often walk into a conversation, listen, throw out some vision ideas, get people pumped and then walk away. I need a king to walk behind me and say, “Okay, that one thing will never happen, but here’s how we can do those two things.”

While these lens help to live out of our strengths, they also make it easy to sin.

Broadly, I’ll hear leaders say, “I’m not very kingly” as a way to excuse their disorganization or financial carelessness. Or, “I’m not very priestly” as an excuse to not meet with someone or do any counseling. Or, “I’m not much of a prophet” as a way to be wishy washy in their theology or have no vision for their church. All followers of Jesus are called to be like Jesus, which means we are to be growing as prophets, priests and kings (Numbers 11:29; Acts 2:16 – 21; Romans 12:1 – 2, 15:14; Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 4:14 – 16; 1 John 2:20, 27; Revelation 1:5-6).

Each lens though, can lead you to sin (and often you will not see these as sins because it is how you are wired). Here’s how:

  • Prophet: You are always posting your opinion on Facebook, twitter or your blog about gay marriage, eating, diets, vaccine’s, adoption, games. All you need is a verse or a scientific study and you are good to go. You are determined to win and be right, because, well “you have a verse.” You can miss the people because you are so infatuated with your vision and end up not caring for the people God has sent you to care for or the people who are supposed to help accomplish the mission because you are so focused on “out there.” The prophet also tends to be pretty legalistic and loves rules. You look at a priest and wonder why he wastes so much time on meetings and can’t confront anyone. You look at a king and get frustrated that he can’t see the big picture, he only wants to talk about the steps to get there or why something isn’t possible and you question his faith and salvation.
  • Priest: You are often willing to sacrifice doctrine, holy living and confrontation in an effort to keep the relationship. Your first priority often is the relationship and the person and will let them keep walking in sin as long everyone feels good. You have a tendency to burn out because you can’t say no to a person or a meeting. Every request that comes in is an urgent thing that must be handled now. Every crisis you jump at. You tell yourself you are needed, that you can save this person or fix that situation and will sacrifice your health, your marriage, your kids, their heart (because you won’t confront them) all to save someone or a relationship. You struggle to trust that God can save and fix them and are content to just do it yourself (God is really busy any way). You look at a prophet and wonder if he has a heart or a soul the way he talks about people. You look at a king and wonder how she can be so organized and can become frustrated at how everything has to fit on the bottom line or fit into a budget line.
  • King: You tend to think about the bottom line and ask how everything affects the bottom line. You are willing to sacrifice visions if they cost too much or relationships if take away from other endeavors. You are organized, detailed and a rule keeper and consequently if something is messy or doesn’t fit in a box, you skip it. This includes relationships. You strive to keep things in order, so new ideas or things that seem new or out in left field are off the table. You look at a priest and wonder why they are so disorganized, always late. You look at a prophet and wonder why he can never come up with a detail to his plan.

As I said, a leader and follower of Jesus is to grow in all areas to be more like Jesus. A healthy leadership team needs to have all three represented to push on each other and to keep the church functioning in all areas. But our blind spots as an individual or church can keep us from being who God created us to be.

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11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage

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It is so sad when I meet a couple that is unhappy. Whether it is stress, finances, kids, in-laws or sin, too many couples simply settle for a mediocre marriage. They carry around this look that says, “I’m not happy, but this is as good as it will get.”

I’m sorry, but if I’m going to be in a relationship for the rest of my life, I want it to be better than a sigh followed by, “this is as good as it will get.”

So, how do you know if you are in a mediocre marriage?

Here are 11 ways to know if you have a mediocre marriage or are on your way to one:

  1. Your marriage and life revolve around your kids. I’ve written before about how to know if your kids are more important than your marriage, but if you can answer any of these, you are in trouble.
  2. It’s been over a year since you read a book on marriage. The best way to grow in your marriage is to get around a couple who has a better marriage or read a book on it. You should read at least one book on marriage a year. It’s a great way to create conversation and push issues to the surface in your marriage.
  3. Roles in marriage feel like a trap instead of freedom. Headship and submission are tricky things and controversial. They are meant to bring us freedom, not to be a trap. When they feel like a trap, there is sin under it. Whether in how it is playing out or how our heart feels about it.
  4. You can’t remember the last date night you had. I can’t tell you how important date night is. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive, but as a couple, you need to have at least one time a week where it is just the two of you (no phone, no tv, no computer, no kids) to talk about build into your relationship.
  5. You have sex less than 2 times a week. I realize this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Pregnancy, health, age, travel, deployment, etc. all can get in the way of this. That being said, sex is a great barometer of your marriage. In every situation when I talk to a couple struggling in their marriage, sex is the first thing to go. It reveals past hurts, addictions, abuses, etc. Every study also says the same thing, a healthy marriage has a healthy sex life.
  6. You nit pick at your spouse. I talked in more detail about this here, but disrespecting your spouse, making fun of them, being sarcastic is one of the fastest ways to move from a good marriage to mediocre to miserable or divorced.
  7. You consistently talk about how much you love your spouse on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll disagree, but every time I read something incredibly awesome on Facebook, my first thought is, “That’s probably the exact opposite of the truth.” I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled a couple who seemed on the verge of divorce and the next day posted on Facebook, “I love my wife.” Or, “My husband is incredible.” The charade of Facebook reveals a lot.
  8. When you are alone with your spouse, you have nothing to talk about. Whenever Katie and I go out to eat and see a couple just sitting there, our hearts break. That’s so sad. It means a couple has stopped growing. Yes silence is great sometimes and needed, but when it is a consistent pattern, that’s a mediocre marriage. You know if this is you.
  9. There are things in your past your spouse does not know. Your spouse should know everything about you. That doesn’t mean you need to tell your spouse how many sexual partners you’ve had or how much porn you saw as a teenager. That isn’t helpful. They should know about addictions, hurts, abuse against you. No one on the planet should know more about you than your spouse.
  10. You fantasize about being married to someone else. Our imaginations are powerful, our memories are powerful. Often, we will think back to high school or college and wonder where someone is or what life would have been like if we married someone else. When that happens, we disengage from our marriage.
  11. A friend knows more about your marriage than your spouse does. Are you honest with your spouse? Do you talk about what bothers you or do you sweep it under the rug? Do you know how to fight well in your marriage? Do you talk more to a friend more than you do to your spouse about your marriage or kids? If so, well you get it by now.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • Yesterday was off the charts at Revolution
  • This series on manhood has simply been one of my favorite series, although Beautiful was a close second
  • Yesterday I preached on the battle we fight against sin, temptation, negative emotions and addictions
  • I’m blown away by the example that Samson is for us of what not to do
  • Loved all the conversations I had afterward as people continued to wrestle with things
  • I think for many people, the pain of being chained to something is so great, they just feel like they can’t move forward
  • Always shake my head at the guy who tells me porn isn’t a temptation
  • Let’s say that’s possible
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • I also have a long list of books, websites and other helpful things here to help you fight temptation and sin in your life
  • Not overly sad that the Olympics are ending
  • We barely watched any of them
  • I’m a bigger fan of the summer ones
  • It also means we are canceling our cable until the NFL rolls around again
  • For the first time since starting Crossfit, I’m taking a week off from lifting this week
  • It will be interesting to see how my heart and emotions deal with it, but I think it will also be good for my body
  • I have my next coaching appointment this week with Brian Howard
  • I’m already seeing the payoff to this
  • Pastors, if you don’t have a coach, you should get one
  • Started a book over the weekend that you should read if you are a pastor
  • It’s called People Pleasing Pastors
  • Good heart work for pastors
  • I can’t remember if I said this last week, but I’m going to Indonesia for 8 days this summer
  • Really excited about how that will change my viewpoint
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Tell the Story of Your Kids

What is your story?

This week, Ashton turned 5. Hard to believe he is 5.

It meant that it was also time for me to write him a birthday letter. This is a practice I started with our daughter when she was born.

One of the things I believe a dad can do it help to tell the story of their child’s life to them. I feel like with the rise of technology and pace in our lives, we lose an aspect of stories and remembering.

So, every year on their birthday I write them a letter about what happened in their life in this past year. How our family changed, how they changed, milestones in their life. I save each letter and will give them to them when they turn 18 or graduate from college. I haven’t decided yet.

My hope is that this will be a chronicle of what happened, a way of showing them how they became who they are, where they came from. As I talk to a lot of young adults, there seems to be a loss of not only who they are, but where they have come from. A rootless feeling for many.

I want them to see their heritage, so that as they move into the world as an adult, they know where they came from and who they are.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Lara Croft on Depression and the Pastor’s Wife.

My struggle with depression is not the result of being a pastor’s wife. If my husband was in another vocation I believe I would still struggle. However, being a pastor’s wife intensifies this struggle. The exhausting nature of caring for the church, the temptation to carry the burdens of those who are struggling in our midst, the demands on our time and on our family, and the spiritual battle that we daily face all contribute to exhaustion and vulnerability. This exhaustion is especially intensified as we try to do all of these things in our own strength, apart from God. Therefore, finding pastors and their wives struggling with depression is not uncommon.

Kayla North on May have a compromise? Great parenting advice that we use.

When people hear our kids ask, “May I have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less than a dozen times each day.

10 possible reasons your church isn’t growing.

In the end, healthy things grow. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on sharing the love Jesus has for the world with the world.

Chad Pierce on The Religion of Crossfit.

CrossFit is demanding. It can be expensive. It takes time, commitment and a willingness to be pushed beyond your comfort zone. It does not make things easier to get more to sign up. The opposite is true. People are flocking to it because it demands much.

Trevin Wax on Why pastors should engage in social media and what they should know.

Here’s the truth: people are communicating through Tweets, Facebook, and blogs. I recommend pastors join Facebook and Twitter in order to be involved in the conversations of their people.

Brandon Hilgeman on 5 common preaching mistakes.

Being a pastor is hard work. This is especially true for those of us who carry the heavy expectation of preaching a mind-blowing, original sermon every seven days. Because of this difficulty, many pastors make simple preaching mistakes that can be easily corrected. These common mistakes can often be the difference between a memorable message and a forgettable one.

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How to be Capable to Accomplish Your Dreams

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I interact with a lot of younger or newer leaders. Still being in my 30’s, I still feel like there is more for me to do or accomplish. Yet, that thing always seems to be out of reach for many leaders.

In his book The Catalyst LeaderBrad Lomenick lists how to be a leader who is capable of accomplishing things:

  1. Capable leaders constantly push forward. Surround yourself with people who spend more time dreaming about tomorrow’s possibilities than dwelling on yesterday’s failures. It’s easy to lament bad decisions, but a leader who can push ahead of them is invaluable.
  2. Capable leaders are team players. At Catalyst, we argue on principles, but we always have each other’s backs. In order to succeed, you need confidence. And you can’t have confidence without trust.
  3. Capable leaders own their mistakes. A leader who blames others for his mistakes cannot grow in his role. Look for team members who can admit missteps without growing discouraged.
  4. Capable leaders are willing to take risks. If an organization is going to thrive, the leaders must be willing to pioneer new territory. Surrounding yourself with people who will boldly step out even when it doesn’t make sense is important.
  5. Capable leaders are constant learners. Capable leaders never stop growing and getting better. Learners are committed and coachable, always students and desperate to learn. They nurture a professional curiosity. What kinds of books are they reading, if any? Do they subscribe to any podcasts? How are they attempting to become better at what they do? Do they listen more or talk more? As your organization grows, you need team members who are constantly learning.
  6. Capable leaders aren’t entitled. I believe that experience creates expertise. So the best leaders develop in the midst of action—doing, not just thinking or dreaming or talking. I need to know that my team is willing to break a sweat alongside me.
  7. Capable leaders are anticipators. You must stay a step ahead of the people you serve. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending all your time reacting to problems and concerns and mishaps. It’s imperative for leaders to figure out what the organization needs before anyone else ever realizes it.
  8. Capable leaders are persistent. They see things through and don’t give up. They don’t ask just once and read Facebook until they get a response. They follow up again and again until they get the answer or solution they need.
  9. Capable leaders are trustworthy. Because they can be trusted, capable team members are among the most valuable employees in any organization. When they make a promise, you don’t have to worry about follow-up.
  10. Capable leaders deliver. Capable leaders get things done. I look for people who do what they say they will do. This allows me to delegate more and manage less. Team members need to make it happen no matter how insignificant the task or assignment.

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