Warrior

What follows is the content that will become a book and study on spiritual warfare. My wife and I have presented this material for two, seperate adult small group classes at our church and have received much positive feedback. Your feedback is also much appreciated…

Intro

What Was That?

 Our wakeup call

My wife and I  were deep into a much-needed night’s sleep. Our young boys had been asleep for several hours – when out of our oldest son’s bedroom (then three years old) came a sound no parent wants to hear, ever…..

Screaming – like nothing we had encountered in his three years of little boy activities and adventures – this was different. Not the typical “I don’t want to go to bed” protest, or the “I accidentally wet the bed” distress. This was different…way different… scary different.

Matt was screaming. Frightening, goosebumps causing screaming.

We ran (literally) to his room and threw open the door….and our stereotypical, comfy-casual Christian paradigm would be forever changed.

We immediately noticed two things:

  • Matt was sitting up in his bed, but screaming in fear.
  • The room felt like a meat locker…… ice cold, strangely, eerily cold.

We had been Christians about ten years; attended church and small group faithfully; read our Bibles, led Young Life clubs and Campus Crusade meetings. I had been leading worship at a local church, and we were both involved with the youth there…..

But this….this was new; this was different. To be honest, it was a little scary. The kind of scary that makes hair stand up on your arms and on the back of your neck . We both felt that we had come face-to-face with something in the cold darkness that felt creepy, dark….evil….and we had never encountered this before.

First priority? Matt.

I snatched him up and held him close. 

Now what?

My mind raced through the Scripture I had been taught and all the sermons I had ever heard for an answer. What do I do here? Arm hair standing, heart pounding, I uttered the only words that I could come up with ….

“In the name of Jesus”, be gone!”, I shouted nervously – not knowing what on earth would happen next. But what happened next would forever change our theology.

It was our wake up call.

Matt instantly stopped screaming. The cold immediately vanished. The hair on my arms fell back in place and my heart rate normalized. Peace. Instant warmth and peace.

My wife and I looked at each other and said simultaneously…”What was that?”

But we already knew. 

We had encountered darkness. Our domain, our home, our three-year-old son…had been targeted by evil.

We talked into the night about our encounter, and I remember my first thoughts were honestly relief (it actually scared the pants off me), but those thoughts quickly turned to anger.

“Why Matt?” “Why didn’t whatever that was pick on someone his own size?” I wondered.

As our blood pressures returned to normal and we settled back down into our bed for the reminder of the night, I remember saying to myself – “This makes me mad – this just got personal!” I boldly proclaimed (to myself) – “I will never let this happen again. I am the father, the husband, the leader of my home….. but I have no clue why or how that just happened and what to do to keep it from happening ever again”.

The next day, I was reminded of when our small, newlywed home was broken into and robbed while Billie and I were away for a weekend. We didn’t have much to steal, but they did take our silver set and a Cameo ring, both gifts from her side of the family. I remember the feeling of shock when we walked in and realized what had happened. I also remember stupidly picking up a kitchen knife and tactically slinking around the house looking for the intruders – who fortunately weren’t there.

But it took awhile for us to get over the nauseating feeling that we had been “violated”. Evil people had done evil things – to us. “This is supposed to happen to other people”. 

Solution? Take initiative. Take action. Spend the time and money to  buy stronger locks, or an alarm system, or a German Shepherd or something to better protect ourselves from evil and those evil people.

The encounter with Matt scared us. But, thankfully, it also woke us up, and our approach to spiritual life would never be the same. We realized, like never before, that we were living in a world at war…and it was not make believe. We could no longer settle for the “church on Sunday, sing a few songs, give some money, read our Bibles occasionally and pray whenever we felt like we needed it” kind of Christianity. We had been broken into, violated – and that was unacceptable.

Once again, we needed to be proactive, take initiative – but what….and how?

The 11th Commandment?

We’re all familiar with the first ten….but have you heard about # 11?

And may I also tell you that this one is every bit as important and to be observed as the ten Moses retreived from God Himself. This is not a holy suggestion..

Jesus said in John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another”.

As spouses, we are called (commanded) to love each other “as” Christ loved us (and still does). The obvious question is then – “how did/does He love us?”. Great question…

He loved us, and died a horribly painful death for us, in spite of our performance or our response. So, let me ask a question….do you love your spouse the same way? Does your love rise and fall depending on his/her response to you or performance (meeting your needs, meeting your expectations, etc.)?

Jesus’ words bring great conviction to me. Is my love for my wife based on how I feel about her at the time, or if she is making me happy at the moment or meeting my needs first? Paul reminds us that husbands are to love our wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph.5:25).

How do we obey the 11th commandment? By loving our spouse “as Jesus loves us” – unconditionally and regardless of how I feel or how she “performs”. If I am not loving her this way, I need to look vertically. I need God’s help to love “as” He loves me. More on that in a future post…

Ask God to help you, listen to what He says…and then start to do it. You will be glad you did.

Your Spouse is Not Your Enemy

But....you do have one

When things aren’t going well in your marriage, it is very easy to look across the table and blame your spouse. If only…he would help out more around the house. If only…she would be more engaged sexually.

Spouse blaming can be traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden. After Adam & Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God came looking for them. When He asked Adam why he ate, he quickly pointed his finger at Eve – “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Remember, this was the same woman he longed for a chapter earlier and was beside himself with excitement when God “brought her” to him. “bone of my bone” he said; “flesh of my flesh” he said. Now – at the first sign of trouble…he tells God it’s her fault. He actually implies also that it is God’s fault.

Even though it is hard-wired in our sinful DNA to think of someone else as the cause of our problems, the Bible makes it very clear who our enemy/adversary actually is:

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. Revelation 12:17

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

I am convinced that the Westen church was done a miserable job of educating/training believers in spirual warfare. We have a diabolical, relentless enemy. The same enemy Jesus faced daily, and who he said he came to destroy. The same enemy who deceived Adam and Eve and is still deceiving Christians today.

Make it a top priority to read/study spiritual warfare if you want to improve your marriage relationship. If both you and your spouse are well versed in the enemy’s schemes, in the weapons and authority provided us in Jesus, and how to “wrestle” effectively – your marriage will flourish.

We have an enemy who hates you and your Christian marriage. He is working overtime to “kill, still and destroy” both.

Are you fighting? Are you winning?

You are in a war…..train well….fight well.

 

Your Sex-Starved Man

Could it be ?

Your Sex-Starved Man

Anybody who believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography. 

–Robert Byrne 


Shaunti Feldhahn interviewed more than 1,000 men prior to writing her book, For Women Only. Though it was no surprise that the interviews revealed that men desire more sex, what was surprising was why. She writes,

Men want more sex than they are getting. And what’s more, they believe that the women who love them don’t seem to realize that this is a crisis—not only for the man, but for the relationship…. For your husband, sex is more than just a physical need. Lack of sex is as emotionally serious to him, as, say, his sudden silence would be to you, were he simply to stop communicating with you. It is just as wounding to him, just as much a legitimate grievance—and just as dangerous to your marriage.1

Sex is as powerful emotionally for men as it is for women but for different reasons. Women want to feel close to a man before sex, but men feel close to women when having sex. Pay attention to this difference. Many couples have trouble connecting sexually because of it. When you don’t understand one another sexually, you run the very high risk of not connecting emotionally. And what could add some spice to our relationship becomes a battlefield and a power match where he’s always keeping score— “We’ve only had sex once in the past three weeks.”

But understand that in his eyes, sex is like oxygen to the relationship. He can’t breathe without it.

You may think he doesn’t deserve it. You may say to yourself, He doesn’t meet my needs so why should I meet his? I can’t do everything around this house and meet his needs on top of it. There isn’t enough time, and I don’t have enough energy.

This is where I believe we all need to take a deep breath together. The Apostle Paul is pretty bold in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (MSG): “Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.”

Does sex really mean that much to men? Psychologist Kevin Leman thinks so. I chuckled when I read this, and you might too. 


• A sexually fulfilled husband will do anything for you.

• A sexually fulfilled husband is a scriptural mandate. 

• A sexually fulfilled husband will feel good about himself.

• A sexually fulfilled husband will take on his life work with unmatched vigor and purpose. 

• A sexually fulfilled husband appreciates the important things in life.

Let’s be honest here, when a man is sexually satisfied, he is probably more able to satisfy the needs of his wife—but that doesn’t mean he always will. One thing’s for sure, at least he’ll sleep better!

But I’ve got to be honest—this is a mutually beneficial arrangement. When Daddy’s happy or if Daddy thinks he’s going to get happy, things tend to get done a whole lot more quickly around the house. Many women make the mistake of waiting until things are “good” in their marriage before they initiate sex. But when we refuse to have sex, we’re preventing the emotional closeness we receive as a result. This enormous paradox has chilling repercussions when it is not understood. Suffocate the sexual part of marriage, and you suffocate the relationship. Nobody can breathe.

I love what Gary and Barbara Rosberg write in their book, The Five Sex Needs of Men and Women:

The reality is that we often want the same things. Our deepest desire, whether we’re male or female, is ultimately to become one. He wants intercourse; she wants intercourse. He may want physical intercourse more than she does, and she may want emotional intercourse more than he does, but when a couple can meld physical and emotional intercourse, they will find the pathway to great sex.3

To add some spice, I’ve included some “true” aphrodisiacs:

Tenderness– Good sex starts by caressing your lover’s heart. It was never meant to be a single act of expression or feeling. Sexual satisfaction begins with gentleness, understanding, acts of kindness, and self-sacrifice. Treat one another well and you’ll discover a new kind of sexual satisfaction.

Time– Good sex is about taking time—not just during sex—to show your lover you care for and love him. African writer Ernestine Banyolak beautifully illustrates this:

A man’s experience is like a fire of dry leaves. It is easily kindled, flaring up suddenly and dying down just as quickly. A woman’s experience, on the other hand, is like a fire glowing charcoal. Her husband has to tend to these coals with loving patience. Once the blaze is burning brightly, it will keep on glowing and radiating warmth for a long time.

Touch– Good sex requires that you touch him often. Give back rubs, hold hands, kiss, hug, and caress one another. It’s sure to take your intimacy to the next level.

Talk– Good sex speaks clearly and gently about caring for, accepting, and valuing your husband. Be sure to express your heartfelt needs and feelings before, during, and after lovemaking. The next time you’re frustrated because he’s not getting anything done around the house, and he’s complaining he’s going to die without sex, go find your raincoat and high heels. You’ll be shocked at what he gets done in the next 30 minutes!

by Julie Clinton

1. Shaunti Feldhahn, For Women Only (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2004), 91-92.
2. Kevin Leman, Sheet Music (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2003), 46-53.
3. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, The Five Sex Needs of Men and Women (Carol Stream,) Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2006), 39.
4. Cited in Howard and Jeanne Hendricks, Husbands and Wives (Colorado Springs: Victor Books, 1988), 249.

What is God’s Standard for Marriage

 

Happy Couple

There are so many Bible verses directed at husbands and wives, it is easy to get overwhelmed and throw your hands up in defeat – “How can I do all of this”, “Why does it have to be so hard?”

Yes, there are dozens of verses and several entire passages directed at marriage and relationships in general – but there is one verse that supersedes  them all. This verse trumps all other verses and actually lays the foundation upon which all the other verses are built.

We are all familiar with the 10 Commandments given to Moses by God in Exodus Chapter 20, but we may not be as familiar with the 11th commandment given by Jesus in John 13:34…

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Yes, you may have heard that one before – but I want to draw your attention to five words that make all the difference…. “as I have loved you”. Jesus commands us to love one another (especially our most significant “one another”) in the same way he loved/loves us.

How does he love us? This answer you should know also….. unconditionally, unselfishly, completely. There is nothing we can do to make him love us any more than he already does, and nothing we can do make him love us less. He loves us….period.  We don’t deserve it; we didn’t earn it; we didn’t love him first; and he will never, ever stop.

We are called, even commanded, to love our spouse in the same way Jesus loved/loves us. If we decide to ignore or simply disobey Christ’s command – we cannot expect him to bless our marriage.

If we choose to obey his command, the next question we must ask is…how?

How exactly do we love our spouse in the same way He loves us? Let’s tackle that one next blog…..

Rob

How to Destroy Your Marriage

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If you want to know what the Bible says about marriage there are many places to look for answers. None, however, sums up the advice I seem to always fall back on when counseling married couples in need better than this one section of Proverbs 24:

If you will allow me to paraphrase for our purposes….

One day I walked by the relationship of a very passive, lazy husband,
    and then noticed the home of his very busy, distracted wife;
They were overgrown with problems,
    thick with dissension, all the protective fences broken down.
I took a long look and pondered what I saw;
    their marriage preached me a sermon and I listened:
“It’s not that bad, I’ll work on it later, let’s not rock the boat,
    sit back, take it easy, maybe it will go away” we convince ourselves —do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to an unfulfilling, unhappy marriage,
    with disappointment as your permanent houseguest!”

An unattended lawn will grow thick with weeds, vines and thorns. An unmaintained car will end up on the side of the highway. A neglected, unmaintained marriage will eventually end up in ruin: unfulfilling, unhappy and broken.

A healthy relationship requires work. Like a lawn or a vehicle, it needs regular attention to keep “running” properly. Don’t ever assume you can coast your way to a great marriage. Work at it regularly – before troubles overtake you – and see how God will bless you for it.

Those who work their land will have abundant food – Prov. 28:18

 

Start today,

 

Rob

3 Things to Never Do When You Disagree

 

frustrated-couple

We all disagree. When a disagreement happens, the last thing you really want to do…is have it escalate into an argument. So…don’t do any of these……

Start an argument – all married couples disagree on things. This is normal. What is not normal and not Biblical, is to allow these disagreements to escalate into arguments. Arguing involves raising voices, threatening body language, anger, and harsh words – but above all, arguing involves selfishness. We argue typically because we think we’re right, or won’t bend on our demands or expectations (see James 4). So, if you find yourself in a disagreement, or should I say “when” you find yourself in a disagreement, take the time to pray together before things have a chance to escalate. Simply grab each other’s hand and ask God for direction and wisdom as you discuss the issue at hand. You will be surprised how many issues never escalate into arguments again, and also how much closer you will feel as a couple.

Assume you are right – we all have a tendency to assume we are right. Whether we’re driving, or playing or embroiled in a conversation – our way is the “best” way by default. We are born selfish and it really shows when someone challenges us or disagrees with us. As was mentioned in point #1, because of this natural bent, we dig in our heels and fight for what is “right”. It takes a real man/woman of character and maturity to have the courage to set their way aside and honestly listen and consider another person’s feelings, insights and desires. Remember – God put the two of you together to be “one” and to work together as a team to glorify Him in your relationship. Sometimes you will actually be right. Sometimes your spouse will have a way that will work better than yours. We have to be mature enough to work together and embrace each other’s opinions and feelings in order to make progress on our journey.

Walk away – when confronted with a differing opinion or challenging point of view, some of us have a tendency to simply walk away. We tell ourselves that our retreat is going to help matters by diffusing the situation and that somehow by avoiding the issue it might magically go away. Problem is – it never does. If your spouse is having a problem, or wants to talk through a troubling issue, he or she will only be exasperated by you avoiding it. This is never the answer. Even if you are a peacemaker or a harmonizer personality, you have to have the courage to hear out your spouse, accept their viewpoint as what they really think and feel – and then, in love, respond. Again, the goal is not to be right. The goal is oneness, harmony and the glory of God.

Arguing doesn’t ever solve anything. Arguing inflames. Arguing separates. Arguing damages. And arguing does not glorify God.

The only way to avoid arguing is to walk in the Spirit. A sure sign of not walking in the Spirit – is finding yourself arguing. When that happens – take the opportunity to reconnect with God before re-engaging with your spouse. What is at stake is not the problem at hand, but your personal walk with Him. Always look vertically before your look horizontally at your spouse. He/she is not the problem.

Keep these scriptures in mind when you are tempted to fight for your rights during your next disagreement….

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

Starting a quarrel (argument) is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17:14

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.  I Peter 5:5

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

 

Rob

Does Your Husband Know What You Want?

Have I Made Myself Clear?

A great post from my friend Lori at The Generous Wife. (http:///www.the-generous-wife.com)

Last year I spent the entire year speaking clearly about what I wanted and needed. No hints. No manipulating. No hoping my husband would read my mind.

Just clear talking.

It was an interesting year (possibly the understatement of the year).

I knew I had communication issues, but, honestly, I didn’t realize how much I let go by without saying something. Or I hinted. Or looked surprised or miffed. You get the idea.

I didn’t communicate my needs and wants clearly. Now, a part of that comes from my messy past, but most of it came from not learning to speak clearly and reasonably with others. Most of this stuff is learned behavior which meant I could learn something different.

So, I practiced. And then I practiced some more. I missed opportunities and I messed up, but over the year I got better.

Now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I encourage y’all to practice clear speaking. It’s refreshing, honest, and respectful (to you and your husband).

A half truth is a whole lie.  Yiddish proverb

Lies Couples Believe

unhappy-couple-in-bed

We have all heard lies, half-truths and inaccuracies our entire lives. They started when we were kids (“don’t cross your eyes or they will stick that way”) and continue today as adults (“there is no difference between men and women”).

Married couples bring these into their relationships and seem to add more to the pile along the way. Here are five that are particularly dangerous to fall for:

  1. My spouse will make me happy. Some interpret this to also mean my spouse will fulfill all my expectations, needs and desires. Trouble is – they don’t. The truth is – they can’t. God didn’t create your spouse to do these things. Yes, they will hake you happy often and many times meet and exceed your expectations. But only God can make you truly happy (‘blessed, fulfilled’). Until we put Him first in our daily lives, we will never find true meaning and happiness in life.
  2. Marriage shouldn’t be hard. This is actually code for : I didn’t think I was going to have to work at this. Truth is – life is hard, and therefore marriage is too. Marriage takes work and in order to enjoy it as it was created and intended – each spouse has to diligently work at it. If they don’t, they will drift slowly apart until they barely recognize each other. God didn’t design marriage to be hard (Genesis 1-2), but because of the fall of Adam/Eve, it became obvious that two selfish people living together for a lifetime was going to be extremely difficult. Also see 1 Corinthians 7:28.
  3. Christian couples shouldn’t disagree and argue. I agree that Christian couples shouldn’t argue, but it is nearly impossible to agree on everything for a lifetime. How we handle this disagreement is the key. We must allow the Spirit to direct our words, responses, reactions, tone, body language, etc. or we will find that our flesh (selfishness) will easily take charge and make small matter into large ones.
  4. The relationship is over if you “fall out of love”. My wife and I hear this over and over as we mentor couples of all ages. “I just don’t love him/her any more”. God would remind you that marriage isn’t about love – it’s about Him and His glory. Feelings of love will rise and fall over the lifetime of your marriage, but those feelings are not the gauge by which you measure your marriage. Once again, if each spouse is putting their relationship with Christ as their #1 priority, this will not become an issue. Seek Him first and he will provide everything we need in our marriage. (Matt.6:33)
  5. Satan doesn’t exist and therefore isn’t a viable threat. What a huge lie from the “father of lies”. Believers are told often and specifically about the spiritual war that rages around us, the authority and weapons we have at our disposal, and the armor we are to wear every day in order to remain victorious. Denying this truth or simply hiding our head in the sand and hoping it doesn’t affect us – will be disastrous. There are many books, dvds and other resources available that will teach you more about this warfare and how to fight it. If we don’t believe we have an enemy who hates us and is out to destroy us and our marriages – we will remain in a powerless struggle to find fulfillment in our marriage.

We are told several times in the Bible to “be alert”, to “be on guard”, or to be deliberate in how we live. We are not on a Christian cruise ship, sailing through life hearing great music and messages until we pull into port in heaven. Jesus called us to battle. Our personal, daily relationship with Christ is our primary battlefront, but our marriage is #2. Satan hates marriage and always has. He will continue to destroy it any way he can. Don’t fall for the lies, and stay in God’s Word every day so you know what the truth is and how to live in it.

Blessings,
Rob

 

What Do You Really Want in 2016?

Bartimeus

From Luke 18……

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

As we look ahead to a brand new year, our Lord asks us the same question –

“What do you want me to do for you?”

This simple question provokes many other questions in heart. Would God really do that for ME? What do I ask him for? Is my motive right? Am I selfish?

The blind man knew exactly what he wanted, and he didn’t hesitate when asked. It was the most burning desire of his heart. Was it selfish? Absolutely. Did God receive glory from it? Absolutely.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.”

Don’t be hesitant or afraid to ask God for the desire of your heart…He knows it anyway.

May His work in you bring you much joy and Him much glory in 2016…….

Rob