Devotional Tuesday – Get Out of the Familiar

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Sometimes when I am doing devotionals in the morning (or whenever I am able to set aside time) what I read doesn’t always seem to be relevant to me at the time.  I am sure you feel the same way and there is nothing wrong with that.

Other times (like today) the devotional hits me hard right between the eyes.  Today’s posting (courtesy of C3 Journey and Jim Crumbley) is no exception.  Without going into a great amount of detail I have a really great opportunity (possibly) but it will certainly require me to get out of the boat and into the “uncomfortable” and I am just not sure I am ready for it.  However, what follows has really challenged me this morning to reconsider the way I am approaching this situation.

I hope you find what follows an encouragement and challenge for you as well.  Most important I pray you will accept that challenge and move forward!

“Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” 

“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” Matthew 14:24-29

Sure, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked toward Jesus. And then, when overwhelmed by his circumstances, he began to sink (that preaches too).

But sinking is not the point. The point is getting out of the boat! Taking it closer to home, what “boat” is Jesus asking you to get out of?

The other disciples “stayed put” for the same reasons that WE are hesitant to step out of what we know into the unknown. It is the unknown that Jesus is calling us to. That uncertain place of faith where Jesus says “trust me.”  Why is this hard?

    • The boat is a place of safety – Common sense would dictate that in a storm, stay in the boat.
    • The boat is going someplace – We can convince ourselves that staying in the boat will take us to where God wants us to go.
    • The boat is familiar – Several of the disciples were fisherman. They knew boats. While the wind was a challenge, in the boat they had the skills to safely get to the other side.
    • In the boat, THEY are in control – Sure the storm was tossing them but they held the lines, hoisted the sails and manned the rudder. In other words, they were in control. Out of the boat, out of their comfort zone, Jesus was in control.

Jesus is not calling us to a place of safety. He is not concerned with “common sense” and wants us to drop what is comfortably familiar and allow Him to take control.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Whether our seas are calm and flat or the wind is buttressing the sides of our boat and we are at risk of sinking, one truth remains; Jesus says “yes, come and get out of the boat. I am here. Walk to me, I have things for you to do.”

Stepping today with you…JimC

Jim-150x150Jim Crumbley – Jim uses his life experiences and experience in the Marine Corps (the good and the bad) to strengthen the church and build people. He and his wife Dona are on the Pastoral team at the C3 Church in Lawrenceville, GA.

14 Ways to Affair Proof Your Marriage

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Hope you all had an amazing weekend!  I am getting exciting for the upcoming weekend because on Saturday I will officially graduate with my Master’s in Ministry Leadership!  Hard to imagine that three years has gone by so fast but it has.  In between I met a woman who would be my girlfriend, then my fiancee and now we are celebrating 1 1/2 years of marriage!

Today’s post comes from our friends at All-Pro Dad.  I would love to hear your thoughts on these marriage tips in the comments section so per usual comment away!  Enjoy!

Andrew

@ACSloss

@BetterMenNow

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Trust is the essential ingredient in any good relationship. The people you feel closest to are the ones you trust the most, and vice versa. When you feel you can no longer rely on someone, that person will likely move to the periphery of your emotional and thought life. The thing that makes one spouse cheating on another so devastating is that the person you ought to be able to trust the most has now become someone you severely distrust. You feel rejected, used and maybe even physically dirty. The fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease may even cross your mind.

After an affair, there is an overwhelming emotional war going on in your mind and heart. But is divorce inevitable? Not necessarily. And if your marriage has not been shipwrecked by adultery, keep it that way.

What is cheating?

Before we begin our discussion on how to immunize your marriage against infidelity, we should establish what constitutes cheating. Having sex with another woman other than your wife is obviously cheating. But it’s also possible to be unfaithful without having to go that far. Infidelity has shades of gray that should likewise be avoided. It is possible to be emotionally unfaithful without crossing any physical boundaries. A perfect example of this is online infidelity. More and more married men are having online romantic and sometimes sexual relationships with women other than their wife. While there’s no physical contact, I would definitely say this is cheating. Men who “date” online are violating a trust that their wife has put in them to be faithful-both body and mind.

Now let’s get down to business. Here are 14 ways to affair proof your marriage:

420_simple_life_VT.imgcache.rev12889719060741. Make your Marriage Your #1 Priority.  This past summer my wife and I spent a week in Montpelier, Vermont. If you were to picture the ideal small American town, Montpelier would be it. It’s an absolutely charming place. One of the town’s tourist brochures carried the tagline: “Places like this don’t just happen.” The citizens of Montpelier have put in a lot of work to maintain the town’s magic.

Similarly, successful marriages don’t just happen. You have to be willing to put in the effort. This is especially true as couples get busier with careers, kids, or community activities. Those things are important, but if you want a strong marriage, your wife must come first.

2. Keep dating your wife. We’ve written about this before, but it deserves repeating. Establish a weekly “date night” with your wife and treat this time as sacred. Your dates don’t have to be fancy, but you do need to work to keep them fresh. A recent study showed that injecting novelty into your dates can bring back the butterflies you experienced when you were first courting. So visit a new restaurant, try a new hobby, or take a class together.

3. Quit the porn. Bringing porn into a relationship is not healthy. It’s like bringing another woman into your marriage, except she’s glossy and airbrushed. Porn will only create an unrealistic expectation in your mind about your spouse’s libido, body, and comfort level with weird sex positions. Pretty soon you’ll find that your wife isn’t satisfying you and your eyes will start to wander. Dump the porn.

4. Focus on being romantic.  999266_459529457471792_1365134099_nAny woman will tell you it doesn’t take much to be romantic. A romantic letter or email only takes a few minutes to write. Flowers are always welcome, even if you picked them up from the grocery store on the way home. These small gestures show your wife that you’ve thought of her and help you reinforce your commitment to your wife.

5. Initiate affection.  Studies show that couples who are affectionate with each other stay together. Make an effort to initiate spontaneous affection with your wife. Give her a hug or surprise kiss and tell her how much you love her. Hold hands with her when you’re out together. Also, don’t make your wife cuddle-rape you. Invite cuddling with her without making it a precursor to sex. These small gestures will help strengthen the physical connection that every relationship needs.

SEXY-COUPLES-56. Have sex regularly.  Many men stray because they’ve gotten bored with their sex life with their wife. It’s pretty easy to get into a slump in your sex life when you’re married. Things just get busy and by the end of the day, couples are just too tired for it. Make sex with your wife a priority. It doesn’t have to involve kama sutra and edible underwear. Just do it. Frequent sexual encounters with your wife will strengthen your emotional and physical attraction to her.

7. Spend time just talking.  Find some time each day to have meaningful conversations with your wife. If you have kiddos, do it after you put them in bed. Talk about what you did during the day. Discuss what you’ve been thinking about lately. Share your dreams with them. The idea is to deepen the bond between to you and your wife. It’s harder to cheat on her when you’ve made such an emotional investment. Deposit into this investment by frequently engaging in meaningful conversations.

8. Share a common interest.  A big reason men stray from their wives is that they begin to find less and less in common with them. When you first started dating, you probably had everything in common. Well, at least you thought you did. So you would spend lots of time together doing things you both enjoyed. Then you got married and started working and your wife either started working too or stayed home to take care of the kids. Pretty soon there begins to be much fewer areas in which your lives overlap.shared-interest

Avoid this by maintaining a common interest or hobby with your wife. For example, my in-laws do ballroom dancing lessons. Every weekend they’re out dancing. When they’re at home in the evenings they practice in the living room. My wife and I have made it a goal run in a 5K and we’ve started to run together. We also have this blog that we do together. Just find something that both of you can enjoy and participate in it together.

9. Have a sense of honor and duty.  Remember that when you got married you made a sacred promise or vow that you would be faithful to your wife. There was a time when a gentleman was judged on whether or not he was a man of his word. Sadly, people today don’t take those sorts of things seriously. Many people feel justified in breaking their promises when something stops being easy and pleasurable. Buck the trend. Be a man of your word. The honorable thing is to fulfill the duty to your wife that you freely took upon yourself the day you got married. I know some will say, “You shouldn’t stay in a terrible marriage just to avoid breaking your vows.” Perhaps not, but you do have the duty to do everything you can to save that marriage before calling it quits. And I mean everything.

10. Establish boundaries.  Many men feel they are manly enough to handle any situation with a woman. For them, setting firm boundaries reeks of weakness or unnecessary zealotry. But that is what every man thinks right before they take it too far. Far better to be safe than sorry. If people think you are a prude, so be it. You are prude going home to the love of your life each night with a head held high.

In your quest to avoid temptation, it should be understood that there’s nothing wrong with having friendships with other women. In fact, it’s inevitable. You probably work closely with other women at work or school. The key is to know where to draw the line and then to stay as far away from it as possible. This will require you to do some serious introspection and figure out what your boundaries are. Here some things you can do to help you in that process.

11. Establish boundaries with your wife.  Sit down with your wife and find out what she’s comfortable with in regards to your relationships with other women and vice versa. It will be different with each couple. For example, you might make it rule that neither of you will drive or ride alone in a car (unless absolutely necessary) or dance with a member of the opposite sex.

12. Evaluate your vulnerabilities.  Sit down with your wife and evaluate your vulnerabilities. Many people don’t realize that they may have personality traits that open themselves up for infidelity. These traits don’t have to be bad either. For example, you might naturally be an empathetic listener. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some women may take this attention the wrong way.

How do you know if you’ve crossed the line between friendship and something more?

There are three signs that indicate that you may have crossed the line into infidelity:

1) Emotional intimacy

Do you find yourself sharing more of your feelings and thoughts with your female friend than with your wife?

2) Sexual tension

You instinctively know when it is present. Huge red flag. Don’t rationalize it away.

3) Secrecy

Do you close your email window when you wife walks by? Do you leave out details of your day because they include encounters with your friend? The minute you fudge anything about your relationship with your female friend, you’ve stepped over the line.

If you see any of these signs, it’s time to re-evaluate your friendship with that other woman. You may need be broaden your boundaries in order to avoid any temptation in the future.

13. Avoid temptation

How-to-Resist-TemptationMeet in groups, if possible. If you know you can’t handle situations of being alone with another woman without it crossing the line, avoid being alone with another woman.

Avoid frequent conversations about your personal life. Many an affair begins when people start talking about their problems with another woman besides their wife. They feel like the other person understands them better than their wife. They feel a closer connection with them, so they start spending more time with them. If not checked, it may eventually lead to infidelity. Not always, but why risk it?

Stay away from online dating sites. A recent study shows that a large percentage of men who surf online dating sites are married. Virtual affairs are still affairs.

14. It’s harder to cheat on your wife than stay faithful

Think about the consequences. It’s actually much harder to cheat on your wife than it is to be faithful to her. When you’re unfaithful, you have to start sneaking around, hiding phone calls, and lying. That’s a lot of work. While being in a committed relationship takes a lot of work too, it pales in comparison to the rigamarole you’ll have to go through to have those few moments of excitement with another woman.

Another way cheating makes your life harder is having to deal with the consequences when you’re finally caught. Imagine having to face your children and tell them you haven’t been completely faithful to their mother. Imagine the look of hurt and sadness you’ll see in the eyes of the woman you told you would love forever.

Conclusion

Making your marriage affair proof requires a large investment of time and emotional capital. But the investment is well worth it. Set high standards for your marriage and for yourself. Man up and you’ll never stray.

What I learned from a 400 year old book on how to kill a man.

We have a guest post from our friends over at Being Caballero today.  You will find lots of great manly stuff on their site and I highly recommend you check it out.  Their website can be found here.

Enjoy your Friday everyone and I will catch you on Monday!

You follow the rules of war for you — not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity. – Franz Stigler

For many years I have studied Martial Arts and traditional weapons, from the practical self-defense and combat oriented aspect to the historical and theoretical point of view. Man has turned killing into an art form and a science as important to their development as literature or architecture. In some cultures it was actually fashionable to carry weapons while others limited their access to only a select few as a status symbol.

Every time I hear about the debated over right to bear armsopen- carry, and how this dissuades violence, I am reminded of the Renaissance, were all gentlemen would have a dress sword as part of their attire. Can you guess how men would solve most conflicts at that time? Duels, lots of them. Dueling became so popular that it actually became a problem for the Church and State of the time, forcing them to make such act illegal. Basically, if you lost the Duel, you’re probably dead. If you won, you go to jail. And even then, dueling didn’t stop.

It was during this time, where Dueling was at its most popular, that killing science of “La Verdadera Destreza” was developed by Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza. Liberally translated into English as “The True Skill” but most commonly known as “The Spanish Circle”, Destreza is a universal method of fighting, based on reason, geometry, and incorporate various other aspects from your typical Renaissance humanist education. Defined as “the art of killing an opponent when he wants to die”, Destreza focused on positioning yourself for a killing blow while avoiding placing yourself in harm’s way. It is the reason why so many people feared the Conquistadors, why Inigo Montoya was written as a Spaniard, and why the Gun Kata is plausible.ref_thib_cir

The treatise was divided into four Dialogues. The first three are the technical breakdowns of the Art, focusing on the basic concepts, understanding how traditional fencing works, and the applications of these advanced technics. These have been the source of intense study and analysis by the fencing community, specially the first and the third Dialogue. But it was the fourth book that caught my attention, the ethics of the Diestro, the skilled man.

It talks about the moral responsibility of the skilled swordsman, focusing on how the Diestro can avoid committing aggressions, treachery, and, most importantly, getting killed. It elaborates on the He has the obligation to help himself, his friends, and his enemies. Yes, you read that right, his enemies. These are some of the moral and ethical lessons taught within the same manual that details the Spanish Kiss, attack aimed at serving a person’s spinal cord by thrusting your sword into an opponent’s mouth.

  1. All life is valuable. The Diestro sees life as a gift that must not be squandered on petty vanity or on simple arguments. He understands that from every fight and every conflict, someone will die. He must ask himself if he is willing to die at that moment? Is he willing to kill? He becomes aware of the reality that every time he draws his sword, he has the full intention to kill someone and is giving the other person permission to kill him. This attitude, instead of making life cheap, turns life into a valuable gift that must be appreciated. You never know when you will draw your last breath, or go to jail for taking a life. 
  2. Risk yourself foolishly is the same as suicide. You only have one life to enjoy. Risking it foolishly or brandishing your weapon at any challenge is the same as asking to be killed. And dying because of stupidity is little more than suicide. 
  3. Defend yourself is right. Attack is wrong. There is a very thin line between defense and attack, especially when we are always force-fed the phrase “the best defense is a good offense.” You have the right to defend your life when it is in genuine danger. Actively looking to attack a possible aggressor is the same as becoming an aggressor yourself. You have the right to defend yourself with force similar to scale to the attack. A full blown assault for a minor offense is no longer defense; it was looking for an excuse to attack. 
  4. No material possession is worth killing over or dying over. So they stole you watch or your wallet. Is it more valuable than your life? Is it as irreplaceable as a life, any life? Killing someone just to keep them from stealing something is still murder. Material possessions can be replaced or recovered, a life cannot. 
  5. Vengeance is not justice. If you openly seek to “get even” because someone caused you wrong, you are openly planning murder. The problem is that you become what you hate. What keeps them from continuing the chain going? You got even. You might think it is justified. But now it’s their turn to get even with you. Killing someone for any reason other than self-defense is always murder. 
  6. Let the law handle the unjust. The authorities are the ones in charge of administering justice. Vigilantism is little more than Vengeance in disguise. If you chose to handle it yourself, it’s then YOU who the authorities will be after. We live in a society ruled by laws and order. We can’t complain about chaos and disorder if we are part of the problem. 
  7. Think and control yourself. You are not a beast who lives out of reaction.We are rational beings with full control of our emotions. We are the result of thousands of years of evolution as a society and as a species. ACT LIKE IT. Attacking as a reaction to something is the acts of a savage animal.

Gettin’ Things Done

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Richard Sherman never goes unnoticed but plenty of his teammates do and this allows him to shine on the field (and make plenty of noise about it.)

“A day late and a dollar short.”

Well yesterday was rather hectic and to no one’s surprise I didn’t get the chance to post our normal devotional for Tuesday.  Instead I am sharing one today.  This one also is coming from Tony Dungy and his book “The Uncommon Life.”  Hope you are having an amazing week!

“Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do.” Ephesians 6:7-8

We all know them.  We don’t see them every day, but we still need them.  They are the people in the background who take care of the things that wouldn’t happen without their help.  Great coaches and good leaders recognize their importance – those essential members of the team who get things done, often quietly working in the backrooms and behind the scenes.  They are the invaluable and indispensable people.

At church, the services aren’t quite as effective when the sound technician isn’t behind the board, adjusting the microphones and speakers.  Often the only time you’re aware that someone is running the PowerPoint display for a worship service or for a business conference is when it stops working.  But your praise and worship service might have less impact without the technician’s contributions.  The evaluations at the end of your business meetings might fall short of expectations if the material and presentation relied solely on you to pull it off.

In football we watch cornerbacks and safeties make spectacular plays to break up passes, and we revel in their abilities.  We miss the great job the unnoticed cornerback on the other side of the field is doing because the quarterback never throws to the wide receiver on that side.  The excellent work that cornerback is doing often goes unnoticed by the average fan, but the coach noticed and knows the team cannot win without him.

Even more than some of the players, I always loved our equipment men, the guys who work fifteen hours a day to make sure players are safely equipped for practice and games.  The fans don’t know them, and they never get their names in the paper, but team appreciate them.

From time to time, thank the unheralded people on your team, in your work environment, at school or even at home.  Maybe they intentionally avoid the spotlight, but you’d be lost without them.  Their skills make you the best you can be.  Never take them for granted.  God appreciates those who do their work for Him without seeking any glory.

Uncommon Key –> Nothing you do, whether it is behind the scenes or not, is hidden from God.  He wants you to approach your job as if you were doing it for Him.  Don’t worry about the world’s perception.  Do what you do to get God’s approval.

 

Storms are Brewin’ But Don’t Relinquish Your Responsibilities as a Man

brewingStormIceland This past Friday I had taken the day off to observe the Good Friday holiday.  As such I had also arranged for the delivery of our new bed and a few other pieces of furniture to be delivered.  Sharlay had to work both on Friday and Saturday so I spent a great deal of my time continuing to get our new apartment in order and organizing things.  For those of you who remember what it is like to go from living in a dorm room to moving into your first official apartment you probably remember the feeling.  When you live in a small space you force yourself to get by without needing a lot of things, but once you have the space you get fooled into thinking about all these great things you now need simply because you have the space for them.  No wonder places like Target and Home Depot make so much money! While I was out picking up various items for our new place I ran across many couples who were out doing the same thing that I was.  Some of them were married and others were just living together.  Some had kids others did not.  During my shopping experience I had the opportunity to witness and overhear a number of interesting conversations (and some arguments) related to co-habitation and married life.  On a side note I am convinced that shopping together at places like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot have a 50% chance of killing a relationship quicker than financial mismanagement and cheating do.  Bad idea people, stay away. There were a number of occasions where I saw the same type of dynamic in play between the man and the woman.  What the topic was isn’t as important as the overall theme of the discussion or argument.  However, it always centered on the same thing: the woman clearly didn’t trust the man to make the right decision or was questioning the decision the man had made.  It was clear even from a brief outsider observation the female in the relationship disagreed with the direction, decision etc. that had been made or was about to be made.  For the purpose of this writing we won’t pass judgment on either the man or the woman because we simply don’t have enough information to form an opinion or draw a conclusion.my_girlfriend_and_I_always_argue However, I found myself wondering two things: 1) what has this man done (if anything) to lose the trust of his wife or girlfriend that she no longer trusts his decision making capabilities and 2) what has happened in her life that makes her more likely to not trust a man to make a decision for the family.  Please don’t make the mistake and assume what I am trying to say is that only the man should make the decision in a relationship or that he should do so without the consultation of his wife or significant other.  That is not what I am saying.  You will have to trust me when I tell you that from the outside looking in it was apparent these couples had all discussed whatever “issue” it was between themselves to a certain extent.  For example, one couple was clearly discussing whether or not they were ready as a family to have their apartment on the Upper East Side remodeled this summer or if it was better to wait until next summer.  The man apparently had already discussed with the contractor they were going to wait until next summer.  The woman was apparently surprised he had this discussion with the contractor because she said something about how she thought they hadn’t come to a conclusion on the issue.  It was at this point they moved too far away for me to catch the conclusion of this conversation.  Yet as I went through my day I heard similar discussions with the same familiar tone several times over. One of the things I love the most about my wife is that she trusts me when it comes to making decisions for our family.  Not only does she tell me she trusts me 100% she has no problem telling other people the same thing.  This doesn’t mean I run off and make decisions without her or that I don’t bother consulting with her on those decisions.  As a matter of fact her input is crucial for me when it comes to making decisions.  As a general rule if we are in disagreement about a major life choice or decision we won’t act until we are on the same page.  The bottom line is that in our relationship I have worked hard to build that trust she has in me and she does indeed trust me 100%.  It means a great deal to me that she does and is perhaps the biggest way she demonstrates respect for me as a man.  I hope I am never stupid enough to jeopardize the trust she has in my leadership ability and my love for her and our family.Decisions-714972_0 What is my point after all of that rambling?  Just three quick things (and I will do my best to keep them quick.) First, if you aren’t married or in a committed relationship I cannot begin to tell you how important it is that when you are looking for your spouse that you look for a woman who will respect you as man from day one.  While a high level of respect does need to be earned, you should make sure that the woman you are with has a certain level of respect for you right from the get go.  From that point on it is your job not to screw that up and to make sure you take the necessary steps to continue to foster that respect in your relationship with her.  Show her love, be kind, compassionate and romantic and she in turn will respect you.  In other words, don’t be a douche.  You would think I wouldn’t need to say that but I find more and more men actually need to have this explained to them – it is sad. Second, once you have that respect you need to hold on to it like grim death (insert link here).  Respect once lost takes a long time to get back.  Sociologists say that for every “bad” encounter a person has it takes 17 good interactions to wipe out the bad one.  Hopefully your wife or girlfriend will be a bit more forgiving than that but it is still a good point.  Don’t eff up.  If you do eff up, own up to it right away, be a man and ask for forgiveness.  Nothing will earn your respect back faster than owning up to your own shortcomings.  That is in and of itself one of the manliest things you can do.  In other words: say you are sorry (and mean it!) Last but not least, if you are in a relationship and no longer have the trust or respect of your wife or significant other (and maybe you never had it to begin with for whatever reason) don’t end the relationship after reading this.  You need to take charge as a man and communicate with her and get down to where the lack of respect and trust comes from.  If it is your fault (in other words she says it is your fault regardless of what you think) than you need to apologize and work on restoring that trust and respect.  It is important neither you nor she get into a finger pointing situation as that will not benefit anyone. If the issue is entirely on her end (perhaps bad experiences with past boyfriends, husbands or a dad) than let her know you love her and understand where she is coming from.  Ask her what you can do to help build that trust and respect.  Work hard to show that you aren’t like any of those other men and do your best to be patient with her. Having (and earning) the respect to make decisions for your family is one of the most important roles you will have in life.  You need to treat it with the importance it deserves and not assume it is something you will always have.  For those women who might be reading this please do your best to give your husband respect and allow him the ability to lead you and your family.  A man who commands the proper respect of his role also will not abuse it.  If he is abusing it than he is in the wrong and you need to discuss with him.  I want you to understand that I don’t support the notion of men abusing their role as heads of the family or throwing that role in your face as an excuse to behave like a jackass.  I certainly do not. Okay with that I need to go as this has been a long post.  I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend and remembered that Jesus is the reason for the season, not the Easter Bunny. Until tomorrow, make it a better day! Andrew