Tag Archives: marriage

Heroes and Heroism

When Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry received the Medal of Honor recently, it set me to thinking about heroes.  You may be aware of the actions that caused him to lose his right hand but save his fellow-soldiers. As Fox News reporter Justin Fishel wrote, “Shot once in each leg and laying wounded behind a chicken coup (sic) in an insurgent compound, Petry saved the lives of two fellow Rangers when he sacrificed his own hand to throw away an enemy grenade that could have killed them all.”

So, I asked myself, what is heroism?  Though probably not exhaustive, I came up with this list of characteristics of heroism.

Selflessness: This is one of the basic characteristics of a hero and drives most of the other characteristics.  The hero is selfless to the point of personal sacrifice, cost, inconvenience and suffering.  Heroes don’t stop to consider the personal cost of their actions, they just act.  A hero thinks first of others in a crisis.

Awareness: The hero is not off in his or her own little world.  They are aware of the world around them and its challenges and needs.  They automatically take note of opportunities to serve and assist and do so without hesitation.

Perseverance and persistence: the hero does not give up until forced to do so.  Only then does the hero quit.  Heroes have to eventually ask, “Can I accomplish anything more in this situation?”  They know that the time eventually comes when one must pray Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” 

Initiative: The hero does not wait for others or to be asked or forced to act.  The hero sees the challenge/problem and responds with his own gumption.  This describes Petry’s response perfectly.  According to Karen Parrish, an American Forces Press Service reporter, he described his action this way, “I immediately knew it wasn’t one of ours, because we haven’t used ‘pineapple’ grenades in quite some time,” he said. “[My] immediate reaction was, get it out of here.”

Courage: This almost goes without saying.  This is the impulse that drives initiative.  Heroes do not hesitate to act in the face of danger, hazard or peril.  Their response is reflexive.  It is a “knee-jerk” reaction where guts overrule logic.  They charge machinegun nests, they storm beaches, they run into burning buildings, they go back under fire to carry out wounded buddies and, of course, they deal with enemy grenades.  Without hesitation they get involved in the troubles of others.  They pick up wee hour phone calls to comfort and encourage.  They stop to help.  They shell out cash to questionable strangers.  On and on we could go.

Integrity: True heroes will always choose the high road, the moral course, even in the face of temptation and opportunity to do otherwise.  We are all sinners, and heroes are no different.  But, faced with a crisis their inward righteousness prevails.

As you will notice, physical characteristics have nothing to do with heroism.  One of my favorite authors is the late writer of western novels, Elmer Kelton.  When asked why his characters were not the movie-star-leading-man type (John Wayne comes to mind), Kelton replied, “Those are seven feet tall and invincible.  My characters are five-eight and nervous.”  Well, I’m not quite that short, but “nervous” sure fits.  I believe a realistic hero is an ordinary person behaving in an extraordinary way.

As I was composing this article, I came to realize that I am married to a hero.  Every characteristic of heroism fits my beloved Brenda like a glove.  She is all these things in spite of a compromised immune system and subsequent frequent illnesses.  As I watch her frequent suffering, I have to wonder how I would conduct myself in similar circumstances.  Her life, like all heroes, is a beacon and example in this often difficult and troubled landscape of life.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Altruism, Awareness, Courage, Current Events, Hero, honor, Initiative, Integrity, morality, Selflessness, Suffering

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

How to Keep from Breaking Faith

First, let me get you to read an article by my friend and brother Ron Carlson.  This is a great article about the simple ways marriages can be made strong and unbreakable.  While you’re at it, you might want to subscribe to Grace Centered Magazine.  Lots of wholesome, helpful articles.

Let me add something to the above article.  I have found that if I can get couples to read and practice the characteristics of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, they can get their marriage off the rocks.  I require that they read it to each other each evening before bedtime…one reads it to the other in turn…and then pray for God’s help in practicing these characteristics.  It hasn’t failed yet.  There you have it…free marriage counseling!

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Filed under Adultery, Female Issues, Infidelity, Love and Marriage, Men's Issues, morality, Respect

Breaking Faith

cheating.jpg “…you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant” (Malachi 2:14). In the last 18 months, I have had personal dealings with two beloved men. In addition to other associations with me, they are my brothers in Christ. They have broken my heart and the hearts of those who love them, their children and their extended families. I am putting this on my blog for them and for others who may be involved in similar circumstances.

It is addressed to these men but I am aware that women are often bogged in the same tragic muck. To all of you I say: there is no need to stay stuck in this morass. You can get out. If you do it quickly and decisively you can, with God’s help, find some measure of true joy. I have personally offered to help you both…that offer still stands.

 

My dear loved one,

So, you’ve decided to leave your wife…maybe for another woman…maybe just to explore other options. And, you are doing this in spite of the fact that your wife still loves you, has been faithful to you and, perhaps most importantly, children are involved. Well, I have a few things to say about that. Continue reading

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Filed under Adultery, Culture Wars, Infidelity, Love and Marriage, Men's Issues, morality, Respect