The Seven Year Mark, Thoughts on Marriage

In a marriage it is unavoidable that all of ourselves come out. With other relationships, others see only parts of us. Mostly the good. If bad, not the worst. Over time, such close living exposes the viscera of the self in such an intimate connection. Because of this rawness, I have found marriage to be the most humbling experience of my life.

Encountering problems, our assumption is the other spouse is the one who needs fixing, on our terms. Both parties have this mindset. For example, if we are reading this and saying amen in regard to our spouses behavior, we need first to look in the mirror.

I think the visceral exposure I speak of is true, however, of equal-or nearly equal-marriage relationships. If one spouse is dominant, controlling, and abusive, their behavior crushes the other’s personality and erases much of who they are. No opportunity for the selves to be completely revealed is possible in a dominated relationship. The person on the receiving end is extinguished, the othe…

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 2.

We Have Our Rights
Why do bad things happen to good people? Today I discuss this age-old question from the perspective of our American culture. In our society we have the ingrained ideal of “the pursuit of happiness”. This was first expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Since the freedom to seek happiness is governmental, the idea has become sacred. While the original intention was that of releasing oppressive restriction, we now believe we own the inalienable right to never be uncomfortable. In addition, due to our modern comforts and conveniences, our attitudes have changed from that of former generations. Difficulty is seen as wrong, with outrage when experienced. It no longer matters what sphere it comes from, whether personal, political, spiritual, or circumstance, we understand adversity and problems as outrageous interruptions. Our attitude is our day-to-day lives should be a state of uninterrupted bliss and peace. Anything less is unfair.

What I am pointing out may see…

Mental and Emotional Illness and the Church

When tragic circumstances occur in a family or community, many turn to their pastor, leaders, or church connections. This circle of support is important. We can address this suffering with encouragement and hope for things we see with our eyes. It is right to do so. Yet, there is a segment of the church and public I feel are overlooked. There are people who suffer in ways we cannot see, which go beyond familiar experience. I am referring to those with mental and emotional issues, whether temporary trials or long-term disorders. In church settings, care for physical illness or misfortune is available, with little awareness of dealing with emotional and mental distress as an illness. In addition, the observable traumatic hardship and events we readily understand can lead to complications of emotional turmoil. If we turn to the faith community for help with this aspect, there is not much practical outreach, though equally vital.

The Problem
Some mean well, but have never encountered thes…

Delighting in God

At times, the Christian life is hard. Life is full of trials, difficulties, and pain. Our response is to call out to God, often asking Him to remove the difficulty. This is not wrong. Sometimes He does. I wonder, however, instead of wishing hardship would go away, if the answer with much of our walk would be simply enjoying God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”. Forever can begin today, in the here and now.

By delighting in God, I am not talking about a pleasant smile that ignores reality. We do not dismiss our ordeals and think positive. The strength is the object our delight is in, not ourselves. With a deep, abiding joy we appreciate who God is and what He has done for us.

There are many ways to do so. Prayer, praise, worship, Bible reading. The Bible is full of reasons to enjoy God. I will focus on one. You may have many more to ponder.

God is awesome in holiness and almighty power. We need to let this sink into…

Is Faith a Crutch for the Weak?

Not Enough

Skeptics ridicule faith-more specifically, Bible believing Christians-by saying belief is a crutch. The target of these dismissive remarks is important since it is not subordinate to a humanist worldview, therefore being seen as beyond reason and weak. I do not agree with this view. As a committed Christian, this may be predictable. I do so in the opposite way assumed, however.

There are two primary reasons I find fault with this notion. The first is a crutch may be the accusation of cynics toward those of faith as weak-minded and needing it to support them, which need they are above, but the image itself is feeble. A crutch is not enough. It is undependable as an idea or any usable reality. To help ourselves along is not what broken, sinful humanity needs. Propping myself up with a wishful idea of Jesus will not get me far. It is essential for the actual reality of the living Jesus to redeem me and carry me entirely. If belief is only a pleasant but unrealistic prop, my fa…

Let Go and Let God

We have all heard the words, “Let go and let God”. Though oft-repeated phrases can sometimes lose their impact over time and become cliche, the truth resonates.

I have struggled with anxiety most of my life. I have also had debilitating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Because of these, unproductive striving is a great issue for me. Full of agitation, I hold problems to my chest, worrying, fretting, and expending stressful energy. In an effort at control I obsess over details, preoccupied with doing. I find myself caught up with ever more strenuous intensity. This turmoil feeds itself. There is rumination over the future, with what-ifs, fearful of the lack of requirements I perceive are not happening in the present. The unknown brings a nervous fear. I try to pray these moments through, yet often had the experience of prayer itself being an act of flustered stress instead of a meaningful appeal. Thankfully, God is wonderfully patient.

It makes little sense to our frayed nerves we must …

A Moment of Transparency

Social media, the internet, and casual personal acquaintance can paint a picture of someone that is not the full reality. We all put our best foot forward. As an artist and writer, this is especially true with a "public persona" (for whatever that is worth in the first place). While that person is certainly genuine, it can paint a one dimensional image.

In my past I had grave, willful sins and great weaknesses. There is no responsibility for these but my own. To dwell on them would do no good here, suffice it to say they were wrong and not on a small scale. It was a long period with nothing but regret as the fruit of it. In addition, today I am certainly not perfect. Just ask my wife, she lives with me everyday. You can not hide who you are in a viscerally close relationship like marriage.

These things, including a downward spiral with mental and emotional problems, paint a more realistic picture of who a man is. In my life now I can look behind at many things. Yet, this to…