Category Archives: Christian Living

Things to Do In 2019: Strengthen My Marriage

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. – Proverbs 5:18

I’ve been doing a lot of weddings lately. As a matter of fact, I probably did 20 in the last two months.

One of the things I explain to the couples before they exchange rings and say their vows is how over time, if they will endure, their marriage will become more precious than the day they say “I do.”

This June my wife and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, and believe me, we’ve experienced our share of fiery trials.

I ask the couples I marry to look at their rings and consider why the “precious metal” is precious. I ask them to consider what those rings went through in order to be shaped into the works of art they’re about to wear. Fire, forging, testing, shaping, more heat, and a lot of polishing: it was all part of what made the rings beautiful.

So why is it that so many men will throw away something as precious as a marriage tried by fire and forged in the furnaces of life for a temporary, plastic, fragile, and ultra-common shallow relationship?

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. … And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? – Proverbs 5:18, 20 

The fact is that we men (and women, too) tend to forget the value of what we actually have and get tempted by the shiny newness of what we don’t have.

Worse, we forget that the God before whose eyes we said our vows never took his gaze off of us. We have no excuses.

For a man’s ways are before the LORD’s eyes, and he considers all his paths. A wicked man’s iniquities will trap him; he will become tangled in the ropes of his own sin. – Proverbs 5:21-22 CSB

Satan hates families. Satan hates anything that mirrors the faithful love of the Lover of our souls, the Groom of the Bride – the Church. Therefore, he loves nothing better than destroying (and redefining) marriages.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. – Ephesians 5:31-33

This year, instead of taking my wife for granted, I want to spend time strengthening my marriage. I want to remind the wife of my youth that she’s more precious to me now than ever.

One reason is because my “ways are before the Lord’s eyes.”

Another reason is because the world is watching, especially my own children, and I want them to see in me a reflection of the faithful love of my Savior.

But there’s one more reason I want to strengthen my marriage… Valerie deserves it.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Family, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

Displaying Masculinity With Photos

Since it is a topic of hot debate these days, I figured I would keep the boat floating in the stream a little while longer and write a little more about the subject of masculinity.

Except today I’m going to do it from a laptop in the passenger seat behind my wife while she’s driving – it’s a long trip.

And I’m going to do with with pictures – like the one I just took of my computer before I typed this sentence 🙂

By the way, as of this moment, after nearly 10 years of blogging, I’m only at 49% of my memory limit with WordPress, so I’m not worried about the amount of photos in this post.

Anyway, I was thinking about masculinity and how it’s displayed, and that’s when I decided to search back through my phone’s photos. I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures from my life and share what I though was “masculine” or “manly” about them.

Some of these photos might fit a stereotype you don’t like. Some may make you scratch your head. But if I was to tell a young boy what it means to be a man, and if I could show him through some of my own pictures, this is what I would say.

And please understand, I’m not trying to make this all about me… I’m just making observations.

A real man is one who makes a commitment to one woman for life and remains faithful, treasures her, and makes her laugh.

Real men don’t shame their mothers; they make them proud. This is me with my mother and late grandmother who died last year. It’s called honor.

A real man is humble enough to wear a tie he doesn’t like because his wife and daughters do.

Fun. A real man has fun with his kids. He makes memories for their sake, not just his. This was during the last total solar eclipse. Awesome!

 

I love my girls. I’m proud of my girls. Both this picture and the next one are of me with my girls when I escorted them to a purity ball in Hopkinsville, KY. I know what some people think about promoting purity (abstinence), but I really don’t care – I’m a dad.

Masculine men let their daughters know they are loved, no matter what. Even if they disappoint me, I will still love them. But a real man – a masculine man – will be his daughters’ hero, protector, and defender of their honor. And no joke, their lives are more precious to me than any boy who’d hurt them. Be warned, guys – and that’s not hyperbole.

On the day that this picture was taken, we dropped Katie (the one on the right) off at college. When I got back home and walked by her empty bedroom, I cried like a baby for 30 minutes. Real men can cry when there’s a reason to cry, and that was one of them.

Nearly 6 years ago I finally earned my Master’s degree. This is my wife, all three daughters, me, and Mr. Monkey (he was an honorary graduate). I’ve still got a lot of room to improve, but a real man is one who finishes what he starts; he makes a commitment and follows through. I started college in 1986…I finally got my B.A. in 2011, my M.Min. in 2013. I’m still working on my D.Min., but I’ll get there.

This is a Ford flat head V-8. I think the essence of manhood is being able to work on something, to fix things. In my opinion, every man ought to rebuild an old engine at least one time in his life.

And speaking of working on cars, every man should teach his kids how to take care of things on their own. He should teach them how to be responsible and not always have to depend on others to fix their problems. Here I am teaching Haley how to change out a windshield wiper motor on her Acura.

You can be a real man and remain calm, cool, and collected when teaching your children how to drive. A masculine man doesn’t have to lose his cool.

There are cowards and criminals who use guns. But here in America, a masculine man isn’t afraid to teach his daughters how to shoot, even a Colt .357 Magnum revolver. My girls prefer a man who likes the smell of gunpowder and has wrists at least as strong as theirs 😉 2nd Amendment all the way in this house.

 

Real men, masculine men, admit their fears, but then they do what needs to be done – like getting on a roof to tar leaking shingles.

 

I think a good sign of masculinity is being able to handle big machinery. An added sign of masculinity is being able to teach others how to handle big machinery without getting killed or killing others. This is me at the bus garage one summer while training new drivers.

Not the best picture, but this is me in uniform as a chaplain for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. My definition of a real man, a real leader, a masculine man, includes being a servant. This is a voluntary role, but a needed one. Those who put their lives on the line for us need people to have their backs, too.

Masculinity is not devoid of humility and meekness. This was during a VBS when I agreed to let kids who won a contest treat me like an ice cream sundae. The cherry on the top was a literal cherry on the top.

Masculine men don’t avoid going to the doctor when they need to, but they don’t act like babies, either. Real men – masculine men – keep a “stiff upper lip” and do their best to keep others encouraged, even when they might be scared themselves.

This is me in Zimbabwe with Mr. Monkey. Real men, masculine men, aren’t too proud to get down in the dirt to put a smile on a child’s face.

Real men, masculine men, treat all of God’s creatures with respect and care. This is Nugget and me (Nugget went missing a couple of years ago and I still miss him). He always looked forward to going out on Saturdays for coffee and a treat from Hardee’s or McDonald’s.

Real men should at least try to grow a beard at least once. It’s a right that none should deny, even to non-Calvinists. But being masculine doesn’t mean you should let small woodland creatures take up residence on your face.

It takes a real man to get into a cold lake to baptize somebody. Of course, it takes a real man to be willing to be dunked in the cold water, too! But on a different note, in many places getting baptized in public can cost you everything. Therefore, this wasn’t as big a deal for me and this brother as it is for others. Good to keep things in perspective.

Katie and I recorded a video on Facebook Live. We played “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.” I don’t know what’s exactly masculine or manly about this, but standing in a public park playing hymns takes nerve these days.

This was from Jan. 16 of this year…from when I took the stage with Katie for her final song of her senior recital. All I can say is that I must have done something right to have been asked by my daughter to step on stage during a formal recital at a university and play guitar for her. A real man doesn’t make his kids ashamed of him but earns their respect.

Masculinity demands that a man take charge and kill the bugs. The women folk shouldn’t have to. That includes carpenter bees trying to destroy the house. The face of a warrior.

Masculine men aren’t afraid to have friends, especially the kind who keep him accountable – iron sharpens iron. This is me with two of my blogger brothers, James Neff and Wally Fry. Real men. True friends.

Real masculinity will exhibit some form of competitiveness. It’s just in a man’s nature to be the warrior, the fighter, the competitor. We need fewer men who hand out participation trophies and more men who compete to win – or at least root for a team that wants to. Go Braves!

This is from when Building 429 stopped by a local Cracker Barrel and I legalistically misjudged them (I wrote a post about it). This is Katie posing with them after I admitted my sinful error and asked for their forgiveness. Real men, masculine men, aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve done wrong.

This photo was taken of me when I prayed on the steps of Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, after the deadly shooting. Real men shouldn’t be afraid to pray in public, especially in places where reconciliation is desperately needed.

 

Lastly, here I am in front of the church where I am Pastor. Genuine masculinity demands that a man be bold, courageous, and unafraid to speak the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear. Jesus was our greatest example of manhood, but there was also Paul, John the Baptist, and a host of others. Their brand of masculinity is what I’m striving for.

I’m just glad I had a dad that taught me what it meant to be a man. He was a consistent, loving, meek, humble, trustworthy, honorable, hard-working, self-sacrificing, faithful husband and man of God.

That’s about all I’ve got to say. Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, current events, Family, General Observations, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenting, politics, Preaching, Relationships and Family, Witnessing

Things to Do In 2019: Avoid Whining and Complaining

I used to hear it said that the world hates a complainer. However, is the world not full of whiners and complainers these days?

The average SJW (social justice warrior) is nothing more than a pale-skinned, black-clothed, fit pitcher with unnaturally-colored hair and absolutely drunk on whine (see what I did there?).

Turn on practically any news station and all you will hear is complaining about something Trump did or didn’t do.

Say the wrong thing to the wrong people and off they’ll trot to the nearest complaint-filing station and whine and complain about how their feelings were hurt.

And, sadly, many Christians are no different; they live like the world in the world and then gripe and complain when the world around them treats them with contempt.

Aren’t we supposed to be different?

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; – Philippians 2:14–15 

How can we be “lights in the world” if all we do is gripe about the darkness?

You may have thought that when I said that I wanted to “avoid whining and complaining” that I meant the kind of whining and complaining that people do when they don’t get their way. If so, you are only partly correct.

Sure, I want to complain less about stuff and things, because, after all, living here in America makes me one of the richest people in the world! What have I got to complain about?

But what I’ve really got to watch out for is the type of whining and complaining that comes when one looks with disgust at a fallen, sinful world and yet does nothing to make a difference.

Dr. Tony Evans put it this way:

“You can’t blame things for being dark if the light bulbs aren’t working. So we’re complaining about the darkness when the bulbs aren’t working, and the Bible says that we are the light of the world.”

Jesus said that we are to let our “light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

If all we do is complain about what’s wrong and never shine the light of the gospel into the darkness, the darkness will never flee, it will be ever-present and grow darker, and we will wind up the antithesis of Philippians 2:14… we will find ourselves guilty, harmful, not acting like “sons of God,” and rebuked by the very crooked and perverse nation we complain about.

Lord, help me to be a light-bearing changer instead of a dim whit complainer. 

9 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christianity, current events, Future, ministry, Witnessing

Things to Do In 2019: Avoid Anger

Start With Scripture

I know, you’re probably going to be tempted to skip over the verses below, but do yourself and me a favor by taking a few seconds to read them…

  • He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city. – Proverbs 16:32
  • Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools. – Ecclesiastes 7:9
  • Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. – Ephesians 4:31 CSB
  • Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: – Ephesians 4:26 KJV
  • If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 CSB

Notice that the Bible addresses getting angry. And from what I read in the above verses, it’s generally not a good thing.

But let’s be fair, anger is not a sin; it’s selfish and unrighteous anger that’s a problem. That’s the type of anger I want to avoid.

Why Be Angry?

Look, I make no claim to be an anger management expert, so I’m not going to pretend to know every reason people have for getting mad. However, if I look at my own experience, it’s pretty easy to determine that I get angry over things I either can’t control or hurt my entitled feelings.

Think about it, how often is it that we are legitimately wronged by others? Are not many of the times nothing more than inconveniences? Delays? Obstructions to our plans? But if our plans have been given to the Lord, and He is the One who “directs our paths,” are we not then being angry while God is at work?

Now, being honest, there are some things which deserve a righteous anger, such as dirty politics, sex trafficking, divorce, abortion, etc. Heck, I might even have a right to get angry when people at Hardee’s never give me jelly when I order a “jelly biscuit,” even though “jelly biscuit” is clearly an item on their menu. But even a righteous anger can do us damage if we hold on to it and become bitter.

Avoiding Anger

The key for me this year will be to give everything to God and let Him handle it. I mean, even when I’m done wrong, is He not the one who is being sinned against? He’s the One who wrote the Law, not me.

And, sure, anger may come looking for me and leave me no other options, but it will be up to me as to whether I hold on to it and play God, or just be like Elsa and “let it go.”

But I must admit, I don’t know why they always ask if I want jelly with a sausage biscuit and never give me jelly for a jelly biscuit!

Calm down, Anthony. Let it go*.

 

*Go ahead and start singing the song…I know you want to.

4 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, the future

Beginning a 10-Part Series

Happy New Year (2019) to everyone! 

If I was rich, and if I had a secretary who brought me coffee and handled all my correspondence, I would have sent every one of my followers a Christmas card and a New Year’s card – but I’m not rich and I don’t have a secretary, only my wife. She put water in the coffee pot for me this morning, but I’m not going to push my luck.

So, I hope all of you have had a blessed season, even though I wasn’t able to express my feeling with a Hallmark.

The Starter Sermon

Last Sunday, the last one of 2018, I preached a sermon entitled “Things I Want to Do In 2019.” It was a 10-point sermon, but it only took 30 minutes to preach. Unfortunately, it didn’t record! Oh well.

So, what I want to do is take the points – the individual things I want to do – and spread them out over the next couple of weeks, unpacking them in a little more detail than time allowed me to do from the pulpit.

Now, in all honesty, I don’t know if this series will interest anyone or gain me a bunch of hits, but I feel it needs to be done for myself, if no one else.

As it’s been said many times in the past, if you don’t write down your goals you’re unlikely to reach them.

As a teaser, here is the basic outline I’m going to follow:

“Things I Want to Do In 2019”

James 4:17; Colossians 3:17, 23

  1. Lose an “X” in my clothing. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
  2. Avoid anger. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
  3. Avoid whining and complaining.  (Phil. 2:14-17)
  4. Show a little more mercy, compassion, and grace. (Rom 14).
  5. Don’t take time for granted.  (Psalm 144:4).
  6. Strengthen my marriage.  (Proverbs 5:18).
  7. READ more, starting with my Bible. (Ps 119:105, 140; John 17:17)
  8. Never preach another boring or routine sermon.
  9. Pray. (Psalm 55:17)
  10. Win One More. (Proverbs 11:30)

So, may God bless you and and be with you this year. With God’s help we can do more than we think possible.

2 Comments

Filed under Bible Study, Christian Living, Christianity, Future, Preaching

Resolutions to Avoid in 2019

Just for the fun of it…and maybe as a reminder to myself…I created a list resolutions…

A list of resolutions to AVOID… at all cost.

In other words, if you resolve to do the following, you may not live through 2019 (not in good shape, at least).

10 Resolutions to Avoid in 2019

1. I resolve to leave the seat up every time I go to the toilet as a sign of my manly rights.

2. I resolve never to say I’m sorry – unless I mean it, of course.

3. I resolve to read the Bible only when it’s projected on the big screen, and only on Sunday mornings, provided there’s enough free coffee and muffins beforehand.

4. I resolve never to waste any more food, especially that last donut or piece of pecan pie.

5. I resolve to limit my prayer time to blessings over food, when called upon at church, and the next time the cell phone bill is due.

6. I resolve to be more trusting of the government.

7. I resolve to spend more time at work and less time with my family.

8. I resolve to change my spouse’s mind, or else.

9. I resolve to keep more to myself and avoid other people.

10. I resolve to keep everything exactly the way it is right now.

So, what do you think? Are there any you would like to add?

 

 

10 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, current events, Future, General Observations, Humor

Memories from My Sister’s Visit (2018)

Some of you may know I have a sister, but other of you may not. Her name is Rebecca Lee Gomes, and she lives in Germany (married to a German, Carlos).

Two months ago she came to visit after being gone from the States for 7 years. Fortunately in one way, unfortunately in others, while she was here, my mother suffered a severely broken leg. That limited what we were able to do because a couple of weeks were spent in hospitals.

Also, while Becky was here, one of our aunts passed away.

Nevertheless, we did get to see some things and do some things, including visit the Ark Encounter, the Creation Museum, the Air Force Museum, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (because we used to have a band, you know), all while taking my wife and our mom to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Just after Becky left I pulled together some photos and video made while she was here and created a little video on iMovie. Then I posted the video on YouTube for here to have it.

You may not get all the hidden humor, and you may not know all the faces, but you can watch the video, too, and get a little glimpse into our lives.

I’m gonna miss her.

5 Comments

Filed under America, Christmas, Family, places, Relationships and Family, Thanksgiving