Marriage Seminar in Kentucky

Couple 4Linda and I are speaking at a marriage seminar in Kentucky the weekend of March 4-6. Slightly south of Lousville is a town called Radcliff, which is right next door to Fort Knox. Pastor Josh Nagel of a church called Lifeline Assembly has asked us to come. And you are invited. The focus of the weekend will be “Getting to the Next Level.”

If you’d like to join us for a fun experience that is designed to help you build a great marriage, please consider crashing the party. Here’s how you can get more information about the event.

Lifeline Assembly

Phone: (270) 351-6150

Address: 1116 South Dixie Blvd. Radcliff, Kentucky 40160

Email: lifelineag@gmail.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/57756292718/

Couple 3

Getting to the Next Level? Yep. Every couple gets to a point in their life where they need to get away, take some time to focus on where they are and what’s become of their relationship, and then do something about it. No, not punch each other in the jaw. Our approach will be to take a few Biblical Principles of Marriage, add the results of clinical research and the best writing on marriage in the country, plus our own experience as a couple. The result is a weekend experience that’ll help you take the next step in building a great marriage.

Mapping Census 2000:  Location Maps

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Boy in the Fountain

Boy in FountainThis little boy sat in the water, cooling off from the heat, directly on top of a water spout. How old does he look to you?

He loved the feel of the cold water, contrasted with the ninety-eight-degree temperature of the day. There were other children in the fountain – running, splashing, yelling, having fun. But this little guy just sat in the water. He didn’t need much; just to be there was enough. I asked around until I found his mother, and got permission to take the picture. I mentioned that I had children and grandchildren, and I thought her son was adorable. She looked at me, hesitated, then nodded OK, without saying a word.

After posting the picture on Facebook, I received comments from people all over the country. They wrote things like Cute, Adorable, Smart, Awww, and Can I Adopt Him. I “liked” every response.

A year later, I still wonder about him from time to time. What’s his life like? Has he grown much? What’s his family like? Does he ever go back to that fountain?

And I wonder about his future, too. What will become of him? Will he like school? What sports will he want to play? What kind of music? What does he want to do when he grows up? Although that may change a hundred times during his childhood.

Police Officer 1

Then, in light of recent stories in the news, I wonder if he’ll turn out to be a good kid who grows into a fine young man, or if he’ll get into trouble along the way. Will he ever be shot at by a gang, a friend, or a policeman? These thoughts are very real in America these days, and I wonder about this little guy.

I also wonder about my own grandchildren. One of my sons married a black woman, and they have children. I know their interests, their likes and dislikes, their preferences, what they want to be when they grow up. My eight-year-old granddaughter wants to be a doctor. Her five-year-old brother wants to be Buzz Lightyear or Spiderman, depending on the time of day, of course. They love school and learning. They love being part of a congregation of faith. They like movies, and playing family games. Life hasn’t turned ugly for them, yet. But it could. Hate is a powerful force in America. Racism is still prevalent. Unkindness lurks.

I wonder how they might turn out, too. Will they fulfill their dreams? Will they get into trouble? Will they ever be the victims of prejudice or injustice? Will they have to defend Live You Dreamsthemselves simply because their skin is darker, or their hair gives them away? Might they be subject to racial profiling some day? So far, they respect adults and those in authority such as teachers, pastors, and police officers. Will they ever find their trust betrayed? Will they ever be afraid of being shot by someone they trust?

When I finished my lunch appointment and walked back to my car, the little boy was gone. His mother must have decided he’d been in the fountain long enough. He probably needed lunch. Perhaps it was nap time. Maybe she needed to go to work.

The Finest Hours

The Finest HoursLast Night, my wife and I went to the local theater to see The Finest Hours. One of the greatest Coast Guard rescue attempts in history. Watching the film, we both wondered if the rescue team would get there in time, or if the men on the sinking oil tanker died. Wondered if the guys on the rescue boat came back alive, or did they drown in the sea.

I was in the Army for 24 years. My dad and brother were career Navy guys. All three of my sons are in the military (Army & Navy). So I have an appreciation for those who serve in all branches of the Armed Forces. I understand the dangers they face, and their willingness to risk their lives for their country. But on a more personal note, their willingness to risk their lives for people day in and day out – not only during war, but many other dangerous circumstances we sometimes find ourselves in.

I like watching films about the risks people take to help others. I appreciate the men and women in our police and fire departments, ambulance drivers and EMTs, and others who face danger in order to save others.

Watching this film made me proud of the people in the U.S. Coast Guard.

If you haven’t yet seen it yet, but you plan to watch it, STOP READING RIGHT NOW. Because I want to comment on a deeply significant aspect of the story.

 SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT.

 OK. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

IF YOU’RE STILL READING, DON’T BLAME ME.





In order for the rescue to even happen, there were at least three independent bold decisions that had to be made. Maybe more.

The first was made by Mr. Sybert on the damaged, about-to-sink tanker. Suddenly finding himself to be the ranking crew member, he made a gutsy decision and destroyed the life boat the other men were about to climb into. They hated him for that, but he knew the roiling sea would destroy that lifeboat and that the men would drown long before the rescue effort arrived

The next daring decision was made by Warrant Officer Cluff, the guy in charge of the Chatham Coast Guard Station. When nobody thought it even possible for the mission to succeed, he ordered his crew to go out in the worst storm on record, find the sinking ship, and come home with the survivors. His own crew and all the townspeople thought he was a fool.

Finest Hours 2

And the third was by Webber himself, the Coastguardsman who led the rescue operation. The odds and the storm were against him. The raging waves nearly destroyed the boat. His mates urged him to turn around. But he made the bold decision to keep going.

You’ll have to watch the movie, read the book, or search online to see how it ended. But what fascinates me is our interconnectedness as human beings. Three men made decisions that directly impacted the others. If any one of the three had acted differently, there would be no rescue, no hero, no story. Nobody would have blamed them for taking the safer course of action. Nobody would say they were wrong if they played it safe.

But thirty-two more men would have died. Thirty-two more families devastated by loss. And those three men would have lived out the remainder of their lives wondering what if.

Unity Produces Winners

QBMy wife and I watch college football on Saturdays during the fall, and in the spring we watch college basketball’s “March Madness,” featuring the top teams in the nation. The significance of teamwork makes sense to us, so we use the expression, “We’re on the same team” to emphasize the unity between us.

The players and coaches have different personalities and roles on the team, but a common goal unites them. They win or lose as a team. Therefore, everyone in the organization focuses intently on teamwork, chemistry, working together, and developing a team spirit.

Similarly, in marriage we have different personalities and interests. We have different roles in the relationship, the family, and the household. But the bottom line is that we win or lose together. That’s why we can’t afford to fight against each other. It makes no sense to compete against each other. We are on the same team. If my wife succeeds, then I succeed. If I do well, she does well.

Yankee Stadium

Several years ago I noticed that whether talking about the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, or the World Series, after it’s all over and the champagne is spraying in the winning team’s locker room, a reporter inevitably asks the question, “What is it about this team that brought you this championship?” The answer is always, “There’s a camaraderie on the field and off. We get along. We care about each other. We have a chemistry. We’re a band of brothers, a family, and it carries over to the way we play.”

They’re talking about unity, and unity produces winners.

The team concept helps Linda and me stay focused on unity. But each couple has to discover what works for them, because unity produces winners.

For this reason, I suggest that each couple take some time to talk about unity, define it, and come up with a slogan or word picture that summarizes for you the essence of what unity means. That way, you develop a verbal shorthand that you can use to remind each other.

Woman Thinking

You don’t cripple your partner, because the team needs him. You don’t cuss at or discourage your team member, because you need her to be at her best if the team is going to win. And you don’t bring up past offenses after they’ve been dealt with. A team that implodes and fights against itself is a team in trouble.

This Biblical Principle of Marriage comes from three scriptures. The first is Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one.”

The second is Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” It would be absurd for a king to attack his own realm. That would be a recipe for disaster. No entity can last very long with internal division and strife.

But my favorite scripture on the crucial dynamics of unity is Matthew 18:19-20: “Truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, I am there.”

The basis for expecting prayer to be answered isn’t merely the fact that two or three are in agreement, but because the Lord himself is with you. This is a continuation and development of the Old Testament theme of God dwelling among his people, and of Matthew’s earlier account of Immanuel, the God who is with us.

Where there is unity, the presence of God is invited in and the power of God is activated. But the opposite is also true. Disunity unplugs the power of God and evicts the presence of the Lord. That is why unity is essential in our churches, and in our homes.

Holding Hands

The bottom line is this: anything that builds or promotes unity in the marriage is worth doing, and anything that destroys or hinders unity must not be done. We have to be that practical about it, that pragmatic.

When a couple will do what it takes to build and maintain unity, the results are astounding. The presence and the power of God are at work in their life. Miracles begin to happen. They are healthier and happier. They can weather any storm and solve any problem. They win the battle against the kids. And, they develop a great sex life.

The opposite is also true. A couple who won’t maintain unity, will undo the blessings and lose out on what the Lord has in mind for them. Interestingly, it’s entirely up to you. It isn’t up to chance, as if some people just get lucky and pick the right guy or the right gal, and it all works out. And it isn’t up to just one of the persons in the marriage. It has to be decided and acted on together.

Happy Brown CoupleUnity invites the power and the presence of God into the home, and prevents the devil from getting a foothold in the most important of all human relationships. The wise couple will recognize this and do whatever it takes to promote unity, and stop doing anything that hinders it.

What Did You Say?

Wife:          “I said, the test came out positive.”

Husband:  “Positive?”

Wife:          “The home pregnancy test I got at the grocery store.”

Husband:  “What?”

Wife:           “I told you about it.”

Husband:   “If you did, I wasn’t paying attention.”

Wife:           “We’re going to have a baby!”

Husband:   “Oh my!”

Wife:           “Aren’t you happy about it?”

Husband:   “Yeah . . . Sure . . . I mean . . .”

Wife:            “What’s the matter?”

Husband:   “Are we ready for this?”

Wife:           “I think so.”

Husband:   “Can we afford a baby?”

Wife:            “No.”

Husband:    “I don’t even know how to take care of a baby.”

Wife:             “I do. And you’ll learn.”

Husband:     “I don’t feel grown up enough to be a parent.”

Wife:             “We’ll grow into the roles of Mommy and Daddy.”

Husband:     “Are you sure you’re pregnant?”

Wife:             “Take a look for yourself.”

Husband:     “Oh my!”

Baby Boy

Eight months later, our son was born. I’d never changed a diaper. Never had a crying baby wake me up in the middle of the night. Never imagined my wife saying, “It’s your turn to feed him.” Never fathomed the immensity of the changes about to take place.

Life as we knew it was over. Sleeping through the night? Never again! Date night? Uh-uh, no babysitter. Watch a TV show all the way through, uninterrupted? Fat chance!

My wife did most of the childcare duties. But there were times I was in charge. Well, that’s overly optimistic. No father is ever “in charge” of a baby. It’s a matter of survival – for both of us. “OK, kiddo. Let’s watch the football game.” Three hours later Mommy comes home and finds a crying baby who hasn’t been fed or changed and me glued to the TV set. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t a fun conversation.

We had a family reunion, and all the ladies went out to lunch together, leaving the men and children behind. My son had the nerve to poop his diaper. When I asked my older, wiser, more experienced brother-in-law (who I thought was my friend) if he’d change my son’s diaper, he laughed at me. “The kid is yours; you change the diaper.”

I thought I was going to throw up. And my wife does this every day? Yep, she does.

Crying Baby

Several months later, our son was screaming in the middle of a sleepless night. I remember praying that God would heal him and deliver him from teething. It was a genuine test of my theological position on faith, prayer, and whether God still does miracles.

“Lord, I know you answer prayer. I know you can heal. Says so right there in the Bible? Heal that kid’s gums right now in the name of Jesus!”

It didn’t work.

So we took him to the pediatrician. The doctor told us to use whiskey. Seriously, that’s what he said. “Use a little whiskey, and he won’t feel the pain.”

Now, I’d seen a few westerns where the doc gives the guy a bottle of whiskey, and after the patient is drunk, the doc does the operation, amputates the leg, or removes the bullet. I actually thought our pediatrician was suggesting that we put a little whiskey in the baby bottle, getting the kid slightly drunk, so he won’t feel a thing.

“I’m not giving my son whiskey, no sirree!”

“Silly man,” my wife said. “The doctor meant rub it on his gums.”

“How was I supposed to know that?”

Puzzle

We went to the drug store and loaded up on Oragel, Liquid Tylenol, and Teething Biscuits. My wife was very careful about how much painkiller to give our son, and for some reason, she’d get mad at me for giving him too much. “What do you mean, I give him too much. If a little bit is good for him, then doubling or tripling the dose is even better. What’s wrong with that?” She forbade me from ever giving the baby his medicine.

We went to a parenting seminar, where the psychologist said, “Being parents of babies and toddlers is the most difficult time in your life. You feel like you’re going crazy. You have no adult conversation and no friends. You’re not getting any sleep. Hang in there, because the baby will grow up and you’ll have a life again.” Those were the most encouraging words we ever heard.

Our son was growing up. He started walking. Then talking. But he had a problem stuttering. A friend of mine who was a counselor, suggested that we slow down our own speech. “Your son might be trying to talk as fast as you guys, and he just can’t do it. Slow down when you talk and see if it helps.” So we tried it, and within a week, his stuttering stopped.

Lego Surprise

I came home from work one day, and my wife had a funny look on her face as she muttered.

“What did you say?”

“I said the test came out positive.”

“Oh my!”