Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage

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It is so sad when I meet a couple that is unhappy. Whether it is stress, finances, kids, in-laws or sin, too many couples simply settle for a mediocre marriage. They carry around this look that says, “I’m not happy, but this is as good as it will get.”

I’m sorry, but if I’m going to be in a relationship for the rest of my life, I want it to be better than a sigh followed by, “this is as good as it will get.”

So, how do you know if you are in a mediocre marriage?

Here are 11 ways to know if you have a mediocre marriage or are on your way to one:

  1. Your marriage and life revolve around your kids. I’ve written before about how to know if your kids are more important than your marriage, but if you can answer any of these, you are in trouble.
  2. It’s been over a year since you read a book on marriage. The best way to grow in your marriage is to get around a couple who has a better marriage or read a book on it. You should read at least one book on marriage a year. It’s a great way to create conversation and push issues to the surface in your marriage.
  3. Roles in marriage feel like a trap instead of freedom. Headship and submission are tricky things and controversial. They are meant to bring us freedom, not to be a trap. When they feel like a trap, there is sin under it. Whether in how it is playing out or how our heart feels about it.
  4. You can’t remember the last date night you had. I can’t tell you how important date night is. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive, but as a couple, you need to have at least one time a week where it is just the two of you (no phone, no tv, no computer, no kids) to talk about build into your relationship.
  5. You have sex less than 2 times a week. I realize this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Pregnancy, health, age, travel, deployment, etc. all can get in the way of this. That being said, sex is a great barometer of your marriage. In every situation when I talk to a couple struggling in their marriage, sex is the first thing to go. It reveals past hurts, addictions, abuses, etc. Every study also says the same thing, a healthy marriage has a healthy sex life.
  6. You nit pick at your spouse. I talked in more detail about this here, but disrespecting your spouse, making fun of them, being sarcastic is one of the fastest ways to move from a good marriage to mediocre to miserable or divorced.
  7. You consistently talk about how much you love your spouse on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll disagree, but every time I read something incredibly awesome on Facebook, my first thought is, “That’s probably the exact opposite of the truth.” I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled a couple who seemed on the verge of divorce and the next day posted on Facebook, “I love my wife.” Or, “My husband is incredible.” The charade of Facebook reveals a lot.
  8. When you are alone with your spouse, you have nothing to talk about. Whenever Katie and I go out to eat and see a couple just sitting there, our hearts break. That’s so sad. It means a couple has stopped growing. Yes silence is great sometimes and needed, but when it is a consistent pattern, that’s a mediocre marriage. You know if this is you.
  9. There are things in your past your spouse does not know. Your spouse should know everything about you. That doesn’t mean you need to tell your spouse how many sexual partners you’ve had or how much porn you saw as a teenager. That isn’t helpful. They should know about addictions, hurts, abuse against you. No one on the planet should know more about you than your spouse.
  10. You fantasize about being married to someone else. Our imaginations are powerful, our memories are powerful. Often, we will think back to high school or college and wonder where someone is or what life would have been like if we married someone else. When that happens, we disengage from our marriage.
  11. A friend knows more about your marriage than your spouse does. Are you honest with your spouse? Do you talk about what bothers you or do you sweep it under the rug? Do you know how to fight well in your marriage? Do you talk more to a friend more than you do to your spouse about your marriage or kids? If so, well you get it by now.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Thom Rainer on 4 times when you should not respond to a critic.

As a general rule, leaders should respond to criticism. I do my best to do so, or at that very least, ask someone in my organization to respond. Critics, more often than not, deserve a response. They need to hear from the leader who can give them his or her perspective. They need to hear from a leader in the event the response can be an opportunity for reconciliation. But there are times when leaders should not respond to critics.

Cristina Fox on When distractions keep us from our kids.

One of the biggest drains of our time is technology because of the access it gives us to a virtual life. Our lives revolve around this access and its pull on us is strong. There’s always email to check, texts to respond to, statuses to update, images and videos to see or post. And they must be done right away (or so we think) — putting everything else on pause.

Ed Stetzer on Whether you should stay or go at church.

I, too, found I don’t get much out of sermons, even the good ones. Honestly, there is not much new content I learn at church. Finally, I am easily distracted and the slow pace of sermons let’s my mind wander, so I’d rather read a good sermon than listen to one. So, I could’ve just stayed home. But, I didn’t. And neither should you because our church involvement is not just anticipated (1 Corinthians 12:27), but commanded (Hebrews 10:25).

Donna Jones on 15 things you did when you were dating that you should not stop doing when you get married.

What what if celebrating Valentine’s Day didn’t cost you a dime and could actually re-kindle the flames of romance?  What if you could re-ignite the sparks in your marriage and make them last?  It might be as easy as taking a trip down memory lane and doing what you should have never stopped.

Mike Cosper on Giving up on church and the culture of contemporary worship.

I wonder, though, if Miller’s thoughts don’t say as much about our contemporary worship culture as they do about Miller himself. His description of a church gathering is two-dimensional: we listen to a lecture and sing songs that connect us to God. Miller says he stopped attending because he doesn’t learn from lectures and doesn’t feel like he connects to God through singing. This description of the gathered church is anemic and shabby, but it’s also the description that many American evangelicals would use to describe Sunday mornings. Rather than a robust engagement with God’s people, God’s word, and God’s Spirit through interactions with one another, songs, prayers, scripture readings, and the Lord’s Supper, we think of Sundays as merely preaching and music.

Love this song

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Beautiful starts in 2 Weeks!

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We are doing something this year at Revolution that we’ve never done before. After we finish our Breathing Room series we will do a series geared to women and one geared to men. Don’t worry though, each week will have clear relevance and application to everyone.

Here’s what is happened starting January 26th:

Even when you don’t feel it. Even when you’re not happy. Even when you feel condemned. Right now, someone thinks you are BEAUTIFUL. God wants you to see yourself the same way. Join us Jan. 26 – Feb. 9 for Beautiful, a series for women and the men who pursue them.

Our pastor, Josh and his wife Katie will be teaching this series together as we look at what God created women to be, how to become that woman, and what the roadblocks are to becoming that woman. We’ll look at body image issues, how to let go of your past, how to use your tongue in a positive way, and the legacy you should strive for as a woman. We will also talk to men about how to help their wives become this woman, how a single guy finds a girl that God calls “Beautiful” and how to raise girls who are “Beautiful” in the eyes of God. Here’s what we’ll look at specifically:

January 26: Me, Beautiful?
February 2: Letting Go of Your Past
February 9: The Priorities of a Woman

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Rich Birch on How to evaluate a sunday service.
  2. Make sure the books you read actual have a biblical message. Just because it is a “Christian” book or written by a “pastor” doesn’t make it theologically correct.
  3. Russell Moore on How Christians should be involved in politics.
  4. Tim Challies on 18 things I will not regret doing with my wife. Great advice for husbands.
  5. A biblical approach to dating.
  6. David Mathis on Why it’s important for a preacher to find his voice.
  7. Tim Challies on 18 things I will not regret doing with my kids. Dad’s, read this.
  8. How to call people to follow Jesus without an altar call.
  9. Mark Munsey on Quit Mothering.

Top Posts of December 2012

In case you missed them in all the rush of the holidays, here are the top 10 posts for the last month of 2012:

  1. Accountability
  2. My 12 Favorite Books of 2012
  3. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  4. My Top 12 Albums of 2012
  5. Sex Doesn’t Equal Intimacy
  6. Is Love a Choice or a Feeling (And Why it Matters)
  7. What “Be Still” Means
  8. Happy Birthday to my Beautiful Wife
  9. My Journey of Losing Weight
  10. Planning a Preaching Calendar

Sex Doesn’t Equal Intimacy

Whenever I talk with couples that are dating or engaged, at some point sex and intimacy will come up. When Katie and I do premarital counseling, there are 5 things a couple must agree to for me to do their wedding. One of them is that they won’t have sex from that point forward until their wedding night. Regardless of their background, regardless if they live together, regardless of where they are on their journey with Jesus.

Depending on the situation, this brings with it an interesting follow-up conversation. Many couples don’t care, they’ve already chosen to wait and have stayed with that commitment. Some are excited because while they’ve wanted to wait, the lack of accountability has made it difficult and they’ve fallen back into patterns they wanted to move away from. Others are frustrated because they don’t see a problem with sex outside of marriage.

I remember once talking with a couple who lived together. They weren’t followers of Jesus and he asked me if this was simply a way for me to put my morals onto other people. It was a fair question. Pastors are often guilty of thinking of ways simply to make people behave more godly without changing their hearts.

I told him that was not the point of this. Here’s why we ask couples to do this and what I told him:

  1. The bible does tell us to save sex for marriage (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21;Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4).
  2. Sex doesn’t equal intimacy. Many in our culture think they are being intimate simply by having sex. For men, when we think of intimacy, sex is what we think of. Intimacy is much bigger than that. It involves sex, but involves be open and honest with another person, trusting them completely, not hiding from them. Willing to share our lives, our dreams, our hopes, our failures, our hurts, and pain with that person. Far too many couples think we had sex, so we must be in love. As soon as sex enters a relationship, it changes drastically. By abstaining from sex before marriage, they are able to broaden intimacy in their relationship in other ways, ways that are non-sexual.
  3. There are seasons in marriage where sex is not an option. Whether that is traveling for a job, health, children, pregnancy, time or energy. Abstaining from sex before marriage helps a couple to prepare for these moments and for the couple to learn they can trust the other. Is a man or woman able to control themselves when they aren’t having as much sex or intimacy as they’d like.
  4. It builds trust. On some level, usually for women, having sex outside of marriage is a trust issue. For men, sex is mostly physical, but for women it is mostly emotional. It involves trusting the other person. Making a commitment to abstain from sex and keeping that commitment goes a long way of building trust for a couple.

There are other reasons, but these are the top ones. After doing weddings for 7 years for numerous couples who have made this commitment and kept it, I’ve yet to have a couple tell me it was a waste of time or be angry that they made it. In fact, I’ve had almost every couple tell me this was one of the most beneficial things for them in their premarital counseling.

Image by Cuentosdeunaimbecila (via Flickr)

This Weekend @ Revolution || Man vs. Wife Part 1

I’m so, so excited for this week at Revolution Church. I wish we were having church today, I’m that excited about what is happening this weekend.

We are kicking off our brand new series Man vs. Wife. Here’s what is up for this weekend:

  • I’ll be preaching from Ephesians 5:22 – 25 and looking at what God calls a woman to, how decision making and communication are to play out in a marriage, and how to prepare for marriage as a woman. We’ll also look at how a woman finds her identity in Jesus instead of her emotions, body, marriage, finding a husband or her children.
  • We’ll also look at how a man protects his future wife by how he protects his heart now, how he protects his daughter and wife as he leads them in their family.
  • It is going to be an eye opening week as we unpack what Scripture actually says about things like submission and male headship.
  • We kicked off our Christmas Offering recently and I’m really excited about the response so far. For more information on what it is going to and how you can be involved, go here.
  • As we enter the Christmas season, here are some things you can be praying for at Revolution Church.
  • If you haven’t “Liked” the Revolution Fan Page on Facebook, do so now. It is one of the ways we communicate and pass on resources for sermons and other ways to help serve you in your spiritual growth.

This is definitely a week you don’t want to miss at Revolution Church. So, bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference).

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am

See you on Sunday!

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

  • What a weekend in my life and at Revolution Church
  • Yesterday at church, we dedicated Nehemiah
  • It was overwhelming to have our missional community stand with us as we stood in front of our church and commit to raise Nehemiah in a God honoring way
  • Love how we are now including our missional communities in the child dedication
  • Got to preach on spiritual adoption yesterday and talk about how God adopts us through Jesus
  • It is one of the most beautiful, yet neglected doctrines in all of scripture
  • The idea that God would pursue and choose us, give us the inheritance only Jesus deserves because he loves us
  • I got real emotional at the end of my sermon yesterday because I read a letter I wrote to Nehemiah about his adoption and the adoption into God’s family that we pray for him to experience
  • It is amazing the questions and feelings an adopted child feels and asks, and how closely we ask those same questions about God our father
  • Today, we finalized our adoption of Nehemiah
  • It was crazy to stand there and answer the questions of the state and how we will provide for him, how we will treat him as one of our own
  • He really has become one of our own, in so many ways
  • One thing that was special was to have so many friends and family be a part of yesterday and today
  • So grateful for that community
  • After all the hustle and bustle of last week, I’m really looking forward to some down time with my family this week
  • Thanksgiving his definitely coming at the right time
  • We talked about our next series coming on December 2, 9 and 16th called Man vs. Wife
  • So excited for this series
  • It’s been awhile since we’ve preached on marriage, dating, being single, preparing for marriage, divorce, and parenting
  • This is how we’re beginning to celebrate Christmas at Revolution
  • Mark your calendars for December 23rd, our Christmas Eve Eve service at Revolution Church
  • We won’t have church on the 24th, but we will on the 23rd
  • We’re kicking off the advent season this week at church
  • Always a special time to slow down in the midst of the busy holidays and talk about Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas

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