My Jenniverse

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. –1Peter3:1-6

I am married to the most patient, kind, caring women I have ever known. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is what I call my Jenniverse. My wife, Jenni, often times unknowingly followed Gods command here in dealing with me, long before I became a believer. The first time I read these words I saw her reflection in the page.

I know a number of women struggle with the fact that their husbands don’t go to church with them or don’t follow or believe in Jesus. My wife was one of them for the first 17 1/2 years of our marriage. But through her obedience in 1 Peter3:1-6 I saw Jesus reflected in her actions and lifestyle. Not through her arguing, nagging, begging and pleading for me to “try out church” (although she did her fair share of that too).

Ladies I know it’s tough sometimes. At times I look back on what I put her through and get sick about it. But just keep this scripture handy and truly live it out and watch what happens.

Answered Prayer?

Does God only answer the prayers of the believer?

Some would say scripture supports that only the prayers of the believer can and will be heard by God, other than the prayer of salvation of the non-believer.

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”. Isaiah 1:15 says, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.” And Proverbs 28:9 has, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”

These scriptures might support that but can’t a believer also fit here? Can a believer “…cherish sin in his heart”? or “…turn a deaf ear to the law”? I have, and I don’t question my salvation, I know in my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins as well as the sins of all man, even the ones that choose never to believe in Him. The difference is where that salvation will take me and where that missing salvation will take them. But, that’s another discussion. Let’s get back to prayer?

Now, I’m not talking about prosperity prayers or prayers that are self centered in nature. I don’t believe those are answered for anyone if it is outside God’s plan. I’m talking about righteous prayer that is in line with God’s will.

Long, before I was a believer I prayed for the safety of my wife and unborn daughter through a difficult child-birth. My daughter is now 18 years old, healthy and a faithful servant of Christ. Wait a minute, I’ve only been saved 4 1/2 years?!? But, isn’t that an answered prayer? I also added in “I’ll straighten up and change my ways…” Some would say I’ve done that and some would say that is an answered prayer for them too but that event occurred 14 years later. All in God’s timing not man’s, maybe? If, God had not answered that prayer, if Jenni or Marissa or both had not made it through would that have driven me further from God? Was this a coincidence or was this the starting point of a belief that would eventually emerge in my life. There were other times I prayed. I prayed for a safe return from The Gulf War. I made it home, some didn’t. That was even two years before that prayer for Jenni and Marissa. If I hadn’t prayed for that safe return or if God had ignored that prayer because I didn’t believe, where would I be? Where would Jenni be? Would Marissa be?Again, as far as we can tell, these prayers appear to line up with God’s will. You could say the prayer for a safe return was a selfish one but I had a wife, who would become an amazing sister in Christ, to return to. And a, yet to be conceived, daughter that is now turning into that same kind of woman. That is now an answered prayer of mine, albeit after the fact of my salvation.

Muscles don’t just appear one day. We have to build them. How can we build our faith muscles if we don’t excercise them? And how can we reach the strength to take that first huge step and ask for God’s forgiveness if we don’t exercise a little first? I’m not saying that’s all it takes but it’s a flex in the right direction.

God saved me from what I had turned my life into. I know that is an answered prayer of my wife’s. But, God gave me the life I was ruining. Maybe that initial life was an answer to someone else’s prayer. Where they a believer? Will they be someday because of that first step 40 some years ago?

What say you? Is prayer a private club only for the members that “said the oath” or is more than that? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

_225_350_Book_68_coverLove & Respect:  The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs By Emerson Eggerichs.

This book is based upon the message God has given us through Paul in Ephesians 5:33. Through this and extensive biblical and psychological research, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs reveals the power of unconditional love and unconditional respect and how husbands and wives can reap the benefits of marriage that God intended.

I must say I was unsure of what to epect when this book first arrived. Before long I was deeply engrossed and totally enthralled by this often over-looked and misunderstood area of relationships. This book can and has saved marriages. It also has the potential to make good marriages great. More imortantly though is the spiritual growth you can experience in your obedience to God in the practices set forth in Ephesians 5:33. This book stretched me beyond a capacity I was aware I had and has convicted me to work harder at being a better husband to my wife and a better example of a husband for my daughter. I have already passed this book onto my wife in the hope of growing closer not only to her but to God along side her. I have had the opportunity to used much of the material in counseling others. I also lead a small group and can’t wait to introduce this material in an upcoming study. I would highly recommend this book to any and all.

Because I Said So…

So, the other day we’re getting ready for church and my daughter yells down from upstairs “can I wear sweatpants to church?” to which my wife immediately responds “NO!” Now, we do attend one of those come-as-you-are jeans and t-shirt kind of churches but apparently my wife draws the line at sweatpants.  My 16 year old daughter did not rebel or scoff in the least but responded with a simple ok. “Because I said so” was a perfectly acceptable answer to her.

Now, wearing  sweatpants to church may not seem like a big deal to some and it may seem sacreligious to others. That’s not the point here. This whole exchange got me thinking about Gods Word and His commands for us. I’ve heard a lot of people question Gods motives or answers. Why can’t I have sex outside of marriage? Why can’t I take things that aren’t mine? Why can’t I kill that guy that cut me off in traffic this morning?

While the answers to these questions may vary some, ultimately the only answer we really need to know is “because I (God) said so!” God loves us and had our best interest and safety in mind when He gave out the commandments and other life instructions as told by Jesus. But for some reason we feel that we need to question His answers. What kind of world would it be if we could still be like children and accept the old “because I said so” answer? I think this may be what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 18:3 when He said “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We must leave behind our defiant, diobedient behaivour and become like trusting, obedient, innocent little children, because our Father knows and wants what’s best for us. If we don’t, do we truly have that so important relationship with Jesus???

(for those who may have read a different version of this yes, I did a rewrite. It’s not about the sweatpants. I’ll write on that one later.)

Even the Little Things Matter to God…

Last month Jenni and I took a vacation to Tampa, FL. We stayed in a great condo on Treasure Island. We did a lot of nothing and just had a wonderful time doing it. We rested and reconnected with each other and with the Lord.

We walked the beaches a lot while we were there. We saw lots of small shells. I did some snorkeling and found a lot of larger shells and sand dollars. There was one thing I looked for though and never found. I’m not sure why but I just thought it would be neat to find a sharks tooth. I looked and looked and looked but never did find one. I even saw a guy catch a small shark along the shore but no sharks tooth for me. I wasn’t overly upset by this and pretty much forgot about as we packed up to return home.

We got home on a Tuesday evening and I went back to work on Wednesday. I was attempting to get the sand out of my brain since my mind was still on the beach. I was preparing for my day and walking around my office. As some of you may know I tend to dress rather casual at work. I had on a pair of slip-ons that I had worn while in Florida though not that much. I was still thanking God for the blessing of such a wonderful time. Suddenly I felt a stab in the bottom of my foot. I removed my shoe and there stuck in the bottom of my foot was a sharks tooth! It was no biggerP7200001 than a rose thorn. I would have never been able to find something that size on the vast beaches we walked. But there it was.

It was such a little thing but it meant so much to me. It was a small gift from God but a huge reminder of this vacation and to remember that I need to occasionally slow down and take time for myself, my wife and my God (not necessarily in that order).  Thank You Father.

I Love My Crown

usI know we’re supposed to be humble and all but I am so proud to wear my crown. Proverbs 12:4 tells us “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.” I’ve heard guys say they have the best wife ever but I would have to say they are either mistaken or lying because I have that honor. Jenni and I have been married for just over 20 years now and if you ever needed proof that there is a God and he watches over us and gives us strength she is a testimony to that because I’ve been no picnic.

When Jenni and I first decided to get married she asked me if I believed in God. I grew up not really thinking or talking about God or religion much. The only family member that I knew that had anything to do with that “God stuff” didn’t exactly set a shining example. So, I just kind of didn’t think about it much. Well, when she asked me that question I sorta lied and told her yes. She had been recently saved and it seemed to mean a lot to her and I was in love with her and not losing her meant a lot to me. (hey don’t judge me, she was and is awesome and I knew it)

I think she soon found out that I either lied or had no clue what believing in God meant. But she hung in there. Sometimes by the skin of her teeth and sometimes only by Jesus and her friends holding her up.

I don’t want to paint myself up to be this horrible person or anything but I was not the husband I should have been. Sure, I loved her but my own selfish agenda always seemed to rule out. My life was all about me and she more often than not conceded at least enough to appease me. (And believe me when I say I did some stupid stuff)

But, no matter how bad I sabotaged our marriage or my own life she was there and so was Christ. He showed her how to love me in spite of the pain I caused. He showed her how to shine His light even when I was in the darkest of places. Through the grace that He showed her when she never deserved it she was able to show me that same grace when I certainly didn’t deserve it.

Finally, after over 16 years of prayer and petition and undying love and grace, I opened my thick skull, removed the scales from my eyes and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior.

I still so don’t deserve the blessing that God has given me in my wife but I will proudly wear that crown. Thank You Lord and thank you Jenni. I love you.