Category Archives: Love and Marriage

It’s About Time

Part of an advertisement for a fancy thermostat: “Instant readings are available within 10 seconds.”

My immediate reaction was how can it be both?  It is either instant or it is within ten seconds.

Of course, there’s “instant” and then there’s “real quick.”  When I was a kid, we used to play outside (those were different times) and, come suppertime or bedtime my mother would say, “Come inside this instant!”  “We’re coming!” we’d reply…but we weren’t doing any such thing.  We were still playing.  We were going to squeeze every bit possible out of the interval between her expectation and our compliance.  She wanted instant action; we wanted to delay her desire in favor of ours for as long as we could.  It was a delicate balance between what she wanted and what we thought we could get away with.

When my wife (who, incidentally, is a gourmet cook whose culinary creations are not to be missed) tells me “Dinner is ready,” I know she means that I should stop studying, writing, carving or gardening, and wash my hands, a process taking up to five minutes or so.  It really means, “Dinner will be ready about the time you have finished getting ready to come to the table.”  We have that understanding developed in our nearly fifty years of marriage.

So, I’ll give you all of that but I still don’t understand how something can be “instant” with the possibility of a ten-second delay.  Sorry, advertising agency, I can’t let you get away with such a contradictory claim.  You might call it nitpicking.  You can feel free to express that in the comment section and I will instantly give you my reply sometime.

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Filed under Advertising, Contradictions, Humor, Life, Love and Marriage, Random Thoughts, Thinking, wordplay, words

Are You Lonely?

Ah, look at all the lonely people.

All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

All the lonely people, where do they all belong?

(“Eleanor Rigby” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

In the near future, it will be my honor to conduct a wedding ceremony.  In my remarks I nearly always quote the passage: “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).  If all goes as planned, this couple will grow old together.  They will experience work and play, sorrow and joy, love and heartache, victory and defeat.  Most likely one will die before the other and the one left behind will know (as they never could otherwise) what it means to be lonely.  Their years of togetherness will be a wonderful, glowing memory.

Humans were not created to be alone.  We are a “flocking animal.”  Some animals are “loners” by nature.  They wander solo through most of the year and only congregate with others of their species at mating season to reproduce.

Oh yes, a great number of our sort seem to seek the lonely life.  They live alone, eat alone and, aside from the occasional one-night-stand, sleep alone.  Even in a crowd they may seek to be alone.  But we humans were meant for deeper relationships.  When we keep things shallow we miss most of the richness and consolation of life.

Loneliness seldom works for long.  It seldom works well.  Early in my backpacking days I was warned to “…never hike alone.”  If you’ve seen the film, 127 Hours, you know what I’m talking about.  Too many things, some deadly, can happen – falls, snakebites, sprained ankles, encounters with unfriendly animals, getting lost, getting stuck and other situations and circumstances where companions become lifesavers.  We all need companions, comrades, confidantes, confessors…friends to share life’s joys, triumphs, sorrows and challenges.

There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,  yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless— a miserable business!
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:8-12)

Are you lonely?  Are you trying to fly solo through an empty sky?  May I suggest a way to land safely?  In every community of size there’s a group of people who will eagerly befriend you.  They meet together one or more times a week to connect with their Creator and each other.  Oh, they’re not perfect (just like you) but they’re not lonely.  They’ll take you in and overlook your faults if you will theirs.  It is a safe place where God teaches us how to love Him and each other.  They pray together, sing together and seek guidance in God’s Word together.  And, every so often they will sing:

Blest be the tie that binds, / Our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred minds / Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne, / We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, / Our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes / Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows / The sympathizing tear.

If you are seeking an end to loneliness, let me know where you live and I will do my best to help you find a group of friends who just might be seeking you.

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Filed under church, Community, Encouragement, Life, Loneliness, Love, Love and Marriage, Singing, Trust

LIFE CHOICES

Funny thing about the choices we make in life. Age, experience and hindsight make it so easy to see that some of them were the wrong choices. I have often wished I could have another go at life and, with the accumulated wisdom and experience I now have, plus a solid dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, make different and better choices. Alas, such a thing is never to be. You and I will have to live with the choices we made and where they have brought us, regrets and all.

If, however, you are young enough to have a good deal of your life ahead of you, you might benefit from some fatherly advice about the choices you will be presented with.

  1. Choose your life’s work based on your talent and passion. God has given you certain abilities. Put them to work in your life. If you choose a career outside of your God-given aptitudes, you risk mediocrity. Passion will drive you to take your lumps, pay your dues and earn your stripes.
  2. Listen to your gut. Believe it or not, your gut knows more than your head. You can rationalize nearly anything but if your gut tells you it is wrong, believe it! Your choice may not be logical but gut feelings are not based on logic and reason. Your gut is much more fundamental. It is based on your whole being. This is not to say that you won’t make some decisions you regret but, for the most part, you will make better ones.
  3. Take the advice of others with a very large grain of salt. They are not you.  They have their own interests, beliefs, passions and agenda which they will happily transfer to (place upon) you. Don’t let others force you into their mold. Listen to them, talk to the Lord about it, but make your decision based on ability, aptitude and, once again, gut.
  4. Marry well. Marriage is a huge and, hopefully, permanent decision. Choose wisely the person you will live with for the rest of your life. Look below the surface (beauty, wealth, etc.) and find the “real person” (integrity, honesty, spirituality, etc.). Later on down the line if you make the wrong choice, you will be miserable. Think you will just divorce? Ask around, divorce is one of the most painful experiences you can go through, especially if children are involved. Become respectful, trusted friends before you marry.
  5. Seek fulfillment, not money. There are plenty of rich people who will confirm all the old sayings about money, love and happiness. To use your God-given abilities to the very best you can is the only true and lasting fulfillment.
  6. Get a clear and accurate understanding of success. When we say someone is “successful” we are usually referring to the money and material they have accumulated. That’s not success! Success is when you fulfill what God created you to be and do. Again, what is your talent? What are your abilities? Have you used them? If so, then you are successful no matter how much money you make.
  7. Be ready to be treated harshly and unfairly. Sorry, that’s the way life is. In the course of your life, you will encounter plenty of difficult and harsh situations. Even some people you have trusted will betray that trust. You will probably have your share of unfair bosses. You may be used, abused, walked on, gossiped and lied about. Don’t be surprised and remember, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  8. Take joy! In between the difficult episodes, joys will fill the gap – if you let them.  Don’t miss out! Enjoy your spouse, enjoy your kids, enjoy your friends. Count your blessings and be grateful. Dance. Sing. Love.
  9. Cultivate mature friendships. True friends are a rare and valuable.  George Eliot said it so well: “Friendship reaches maturity when there is reciprocity, shared inner life, positive affection and equality.” The benefits of friendships are too numerous to mention. Men need men friends and women need woman friends. Speaking for us blokes, we need other guys who understand prostate difficulties and the many unique challenges of manhood.
  10. Be honestly, relentlessly introspective. If you are in a problem relationship (marriage, business partnership, friendship, team), recognize that in any relationship, the only person you can ultimately change is yourself.
  11. Be nice.  That means be polite, civil, respectful.  Love your neighbor and your enemies because it is the right thing to do and love covers a multitude of offenses.
  12. Don’t be a wimp.  Take chances. Try new things, new experiences (food, music, clothes, books, associations, techniques, strategies – you name it). Dare to fail because failure is the greatest teacher. Better to have tried and failed then not to have tried at all.
  13. On the other hand, don’t be stupid. Watch your money. Choose your friends wisely. Enter partnerships with your eyes wide open. Be loyal and faithful to your spouse. Practice personal purity. Look before you leap. Wear your safety gear.  Practice moderation. Remember what your mama said.
  14. Be part of a fellowship.  We were not meant to go through this life alone. We need God and each other. We need to be aware of each other’s problems, difficulties, trials and tribulations so we can comfort and encourage one another and pray for each other. When life batters you about, who you gonna call? Become part of a fellowship that worships, prays and sings together. If you don’t need others at the moment (I assure you that, in time, you will) they could certainly benefit from your strength.

Now is the time for you, dear reader to add to this list. Whether you are young or old, give us the benefit of your thinking. Between us, we can probably help our fellow-humans, young or old, to choose wisely and well.

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Filed under Adventure, Aging, Blessings, Discernment, Holy Spirit, Infidelity, Life, Love, Love and Marriage, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Religion, Suffering, Trust

Date Night

My wife, visiting granddaughter and I just finished watching the much-heralded motion picture, Date Night starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey on our cable service.   Okay, we’re cheap.  It was rated PG13 which means that it may be inappropriate for children younger than 13 and even that should involve parental guidance.  Well, I am in my late 60’s and it was certainly inappropriate for me.  But then again, I have morals.

When did this culture decide that comedy had to be filthy?  This could have been an adventure in hilarity without the continual obscenities and references to male and female genitalia, anal sex, masturbation, group sex and prostitution.  These were not sexual innuendos, they were explicit references.  We tried to fast-forward through the sullied parts but it was so replete with smut that we were not completely successful.

Nothing in the trailers and interviews hinted at such shenanigans so we were unprepared for the dirty bits.  Shame on those responsible for this bit of cultural decadence and shame on me for not checking with some of the numerous Christian motion picture review sites!  I looked at them after watching the movie and realized the information that could have kept me from wasting my time and money with this crude mess was there for the reading.

While I was on the review sites, I decided to look up Eat, Pray, Love.  Thankfully, I now have enough information about this motion picture to Eat my own food, Pray to my one, almighty God and love my wife and family.  However, if you want to follow the antics of a self-centered, narcissistic, amoral person who deserts her devoted husband to “find herself,” this little gem is for you.

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Filed under Adultery, Culture Wars, Good & Evil, Infidelity, Life, Love, Love and Marriage, Meaning of Life, morality, Motion Pictures, Prayer, sex

The Elephant in the Room

In all the discussions about sexual abuse of children by priests, no one seems to be talking about one of the chief reasons that pedophiles and homosexuals seem to be attracted to the Roman Catholic priesthood.  It is the “elephant in the room” that everyone seems to pretend is not really there.

The “room” is the Roman Catholic Church and the “elephant” is the requirement that priests be celibate.  Celibacy is a great choice for those who wish to give their lives to ministry.  It enables one to concentrate one’s undivided attention to prayer and the proclamation of the Word.  The word “choice,” however, is operative.  Nowhere is Scripture is celibacy required of anyone who wishes to serve God.  While the apostle, Paul, thought it better to remain unmarried (read 1 Corinthians 7), he also maintained the right “…to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas…” (1 Corinthians 9:5).

Every man has the right to marry, especially if remaining single might compromise his moral purity (that certainly would apply to yours truly).  And, allowing marriage is no sure cure for sexual abuse of children.  Nevertheless, to require celibacy of all men who seek to serve God is unnatural and anti-scriptural. That’s right, a law made by a council in the fourth century is in opposition to Holy Spirit inspired Scripture.  If that doesn’t make this requirement unnatural and ungodly, I don’t know what does.

Some are able to live celibate lives and remain pure (Matthew 19:10-12).  Only God knows for sure, but I’m confident that most priests in the Roman Catholic Church fit this description.  This does not change the fact that this requirement cannot be justified in light of divine revelation.  The elephant in the room needs to be recognized, acknowledged and driven out.

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Filed under Celibacy, church, Good & Evil, Love and Marriage, morality, Pedophilia, Scripture, sex

Realistic Unity

There is realistic unity and unrealistic unity. The latter depends on complete agreement on every point. The former enables people to live and work together regardless of differences of opinion.

Humility is an absolute essential. In every working relationship, someone has to submit to someone else. The relationship of the incarnate expression of God submitting to God as Spirit (Philippians 2) is a perfect example. The Son, though equal in essence to the Father, takes a submissive role in order to achieve redemption and reconciliation.

Agape (unconditional love) is the most important ingredient. Agape means that I take pains to care what the object of my love thinks, believes and needs. That means I will make no decision, jump to no conclusion and initiate no action without taking their thoughts, beliefs and needs into obvious and honest consideration.

All successful relationships (marriages, for example) depend on realistic unity. No marriage can successfully function, for example, when one or both spouses insist on conformity to their opinion. Healthy working relationships are characterized by healthy discussion leading to compromise and submission based on agape and humility. This will work in any relationship.

It doesn’t take a Solomon to see the application to churches. Unity is a constant theme in the letters to the churches. But it is a realistic unity among a loving and humble group of believers.

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Filed under Christlikeness, church, Community, Love and Marriage, Religion, Respect, Salvation

Gone to Winter

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog (and who, in their right mind, would not be?) you may have noticed a dearth (shortage) of postings. So, knowing that many, many people are wondering where I am, I feel called upon to inform both of you.

At the moment, I am in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Yes…the land down under. I left the Northern Hemisphere Summer for the Southern Hemisphere Winter. Australia is my “other country,” to which I make yearly trips. I lived here once and fell in love with the people and the land. So, it is a pleasure to return each year to visit friends and churches, do some teaching & preaching, eat Aussie tucker (food) and hear the birds sing. So far I have been to Sydney, Dungog, Maitland, Newcastle and Parramatta. In few days I will head back to Sydney, then Adelaide, then New Zealand and back to Sydney.

I left behind my beautiful wife, Charamon, the Charamon Garden and loving family for a seven-week sojourn. Preparation took a lot of time and precedence over blogging. Getting the garden ready to leave in the capable hands of my family took additional time.

A phone call to my son, Tim, reassured me that all goes and grows well back in the garden. A phone call to my parents (90 year-old father, 88 year-old mother) says they are doing OK (at those ages, good days are treasures) and a phone call to my wife assures me that she still loves me and is missing me. Well, the feeling is very much mutual!

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Filed under Australia, Blogs & Blogging, Home and Garden, Love and Marriage, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, South Pacific, Vegetable Gardening