Struggle and Triumph

Rick Hendricks 1In plain, storytelling fashion, Paul provides a simple, but not simplistic, application of timeless Biblical principles to apply in your relationship. He shares his own experiences of struggle and triumph, letting you know none of this is easy, but it is accessible. Paul’s style is enjoyable, easy to read, and digest. I really appreciate his Discussion Starters at the end of each chapter to guide a couple’s deeper dive. As a Christian couple’s therapist, I highly recommend this to those who are contemplating marriage, are early in their marriage, or may be looking for ways to grow in their marriage.

Rick Hendricks, LMFC, Deputy District Director, North Atlantic District 1, Veterans Health Administration

Head of the House

Phone 2The phone rang on a Saturday afternoon.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Hello, I’d like to speak to the man of the house.”

“We don’t have one,” I stated matter-of-factly.

The caller didn’t know what to say, so after a few seconds, I hung up.

gender-1990154_1920Please understand. I am a man. The only man who lives in our house, by the way. Our three sons are grown and have homes of their own, so technically, I am “the” man of “the” house. But that’s not what the caller meant.

He wanted to talk to the person who had authority to make decisions, the person who didn’t have to check with someone else before spending a lot of money, the person who was in charge. And he assumed, as many do, that a woman can’t make decisions, can’t spend without permission, and can’t be in charge.

That’s what I objected to, and that is the kind of skewed gender-role relationship that we don’t have in our home. What a demeaning, unbiblical view of women and marriage!

dollar-660223_1920.pngI spoke with another caller, and what he was selling actually sounded like a good deal. But when he got to the point where he wanted to close the sale, I mentioned that I wasn’t going to make a decision on the spot, because I wanted to discuss it with my wife. I couldn’t believe his sarcastic response. “What’s the matter? Aren’t you the man of the house? Can’t you make a decision?”

I’m not sure what he thought when I said, “My wife and I respect each other enough to talk about major expenses, and we make shared decisions. So, go ahead and call someone else, someone who doesn’t understand how to build a good marriage, and try to bully him instead.”

The fact is, my wife and I both make decisions; we’re pretty good at it, too. We trust each other and support each other. We’re not perfect by any means, but our usual practice is to take time to talk together before making major decisions. It’s one of the ways we’ve been able to maintain unity. We value one another and what each other thinks and feels. It’s also a matter of courtesy. 

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, very few decisions have to be made today. Unity is more important than haste. In other words, a good decision at the expense of unity is a bad decision.

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Podcast: Florida Writers Association

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This afternoon, I was interviewed in a podcast by Alison Nissen, president of the Florida Writers Association. She sent me a few questions in advance that she was thinking about asking, but ended up throwing a few curveballs, too. Questions I wasn’t expecting. It was a lot of fun. She’s a great interviewer. I don’t remember all of the questions, and I don’t have the podcast recording yet. But she said it would be on the FWA website soon. I’ll post it here when I get it. You can click on the FWA logo above and it’ll take you to the podcast page on their website.

1. What was the first piece you ever published?

In 1993 my wife and I spent three weeks in Budapest, Hungary. We had to take the subway a couple of times. When we got back to the States, I wrote a short article about the Budapest subway and sent it to a magazine, and they published it.

2. Who is your target audience?

Depends on what I’m writing. I freelance for a couple military magazines and several parenting magazines, plus a few religious publications. A common theme in all my nonfiction writing is personal relationships and how we treat people, whether in marriage, the family, a business, or the military. My first book came out in February of this year, and the target audience was married couples and those who help couples.

3. What advice would you give writers to help develop stronger characters?

Make them interesting. Make them strong and weak at the same time. Give them some positive traits, but one or two flaws. Make them complex, because nobody is all good, and nobody is all bad.

4. What’s on your refrigerator?

Magnets, Pictures, Things made by grandkids, Shakespeare quotes about love, Beagle, Route 66 stuff, Inspirational sayings & quotations, Prague, Plumber, dog kennel, A/C repairman, Pictures of family, car and motorcycle made of beads, Half-Marathon 13.1 magnet, the university where my wife works

5. What’s your favorite food?

Italian, definitely.

6. Tell me about your pet?

We have a Beagle named Sophie. Great dog. We’re not hunters, but she is! Lizards, frogs, rats, rabbits, squirrels, one armadillo, and scared away a coyote. She doesn’t understand turtles, though.

7. What genre do you like to read?

Mostly nonfiction: biographies, relationships, histories, business and leadership, religion, racism, and psychology. When I read fiction, it’s usually something that reads like true stories. I like John Grisham and Charles Dickens. Two of my favorite stories are Dumas’s the Count of Monte Cristo and Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.

8. How does this impact what you write?

I tend to write nonfiction about people’s lives and relationships, their pursuit of happiness and meaning, either through personal fulfillment in a relationship or their faith or their career.

9. You’ve dabbled in writing much of your life. What made you want to write full-time?

I’ve been a public speaker most of my adult life, which often included a lot of writing. I started writing freelance articles on the side, and experienced some success. So, when I was about to get out of the Army, I started thinking about writing full-time, but I didn’t want my nonfiction writing to be boring. I wanted it to be fresh; I wanted it to have some life. So, I started reading about the techniques fiction writers use to make their stuff grab the reader’s attention, and I thought, “Hey, I can use some of those same techniques when writing nonfiction.” So that’s what I’m doing, and I love it.

10. If you were to write fiction, what would it be about?

I’ve made up stories my whole life. My sister and I used to write plays when we were kids. When my sons were little, I would tell them stories. In fact, one son and I met last month, and we’re planning a series of novels for school-aged children based on some of the stories I told him when he was in the first grade. I also have four adult novels outlined. But I have to finish four or five nonfiction projects that are at the top of the list, and then I’ll focus on the fiction. I’m thinking of making every November my fiction-writing month, and the rest of the year my non-fiction. What do you think?

11. What about poetry?

I like poetry. I love rhyme and cadence and meaning. I’ve published one poem, and participated in several poetry reading events. I used to write poems for special occasions and family events. But being a consistently good poet is hard work. So, I tend to do it just for fun or special events, and occasionally something really good comes.

12. Ok . . . so what is your favorite movie?

Well the top three in order are, the 2002 Count of Monte Cristo, the musical Les Miserable, and Shawshank Redemption. And recently, I have to put the Greatest Showman on that list.

13. How has your writing changed over the past five or ten years?

My nonfiction writing used to be all information, but no style. It was artless. Good content, but the nonfiction wasn’t creative. So, I read 27 books on craft during the last five years I was in the Army. Then I decided to do the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Tampa. After that, I joined two local writing groups, and started attending writing conferences. The result is that my writing is deeper. It has style and aesthetics that I simply didn’t know about before. And though I definitely have a lot of room for further improvement, the quality is more consistent now, whereas it used to be sometimes good, sometimes so-so, and sometimes pretty bad.

14. What are you working on right now?

In February I finished a book on marriage. Now I’m writing a book about my military experience in Iraq back in 2007, the people I interacted with, and some of the things we faced together. My plan is to have it completed by May 1.

15. How do you help others develop their writing?

This is an interesting development that I never expected when I started trying to improve my own writing. After completing the MFA at the University of Tampa, I was visiting my wife at Southeastern University, where she teaches, and her boss asked if I would help start a Creative Writing degree program at the university. So, I did, and it was a lot of fun. One of the projects we implemented was an annual writers conference, and people who attended started asking me to speak at their organizations, teaching on effective writing, either for business, or fiction, or whatever. Now, I have people asking for help with their writing on a personal basis. Right now, I’m editing and encouraging three or four authors with their projects, still speaking at writers conferences occasionally, and still doing the conference for the university.

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Review by Author, Ken Murray

Ken Murray (2)Paul Linzey does a phenomenal job with “WisdomBuilt Biblical Principles of Marriage” by highlighting then discussing the most common and uncommon issues regarding marriage and relationships. I found myself thinking at times, “Hey, Paul is writing about ME!” I love his logic and reasoning he applies to marriage and relationship issues then applies Biblical passages, his wisdom gained over the years or a “been there done that” foundation to explain things. Paul takes the issues beyond just communication and throws you into real life situations and serves examples that you will undoubtedly feel you’re a part of in either your current relationship or recall those same situations from your previous failed relationships. I highly recommend you order your copy today. Open your eyes today, you cannot go wrong!

Foundation for Marriage

condo-2618421_1920In 2008, developers built some high-rise condos on the South Texas Coast. Ocean Tower was supposed to provide luxurious amenities and beautiful views, but it didn’t take long for the entire structure to begin to sink, and then tilt, with wide cracks in the concrete support system.

According to an old Turkish proverb, “A building without a foundation is soon demolished.” The foundation wasn’t prepared well enough, and the whole project had to be destroyed after more than seventy-five million dollars had been invested.

The famous, leaning bell tower in Pisa, Italy, on the other hand, stood straight for five years before the 14,500-ton structure began to sink. It managed to survive, but as we all know, there is a serious slant.

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In Matthew chapter seven, Jesus talks about the importance of a foundation for a home. But, just like in Proverbs 24:3-4, what he’s really talking about is people, and in this case, the need for an inner, spiritual foundation.

Couples who want their marriage to survive storms and shifting sands, need to make sure they have a foundation that will last a lifetime.

Several years ago, my wife and I did a short-term missions trip to Budapest, Hungary, teaching a three-week intensive class at the Hungarian Bible college, and preaching at churches in and around the city. Our hosts were a missionary family that allowed us to stay in an upstairs bedroom in their home.

Looking out a second-story window, we noticed the neighbors were building another home on their property, immediately behind the main house. The missionaries explained that it was customary for children to grow up and live on the same property as their parents. The new building was for their son, who was about to get married. The foundation was already in place, and every day, we came back to the house, looked out the window, and followed the progress. We watched the walls grow higher as new rows of bricks were added.

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God’s plan for marriage is vastly different from the typical concept of marriage in the world today. Rather than a battle zone, marriage is designed to be peaceful. Rather than causing you pain, it can be a source of profound healing. Rather than a selfish coexistence, a good marriage is a loving couple coming together to help and encourage one another. Rather than a ball and chain, marriage liberates you to reach your goals and see your dreams come true. Rather than a hell, marriage can be a heaven on earth. And, rather than a temporary arrangement, marriage is best when it takes you through all phases of life . . . together.

For that to happen, however, the relationship has to be built on a solid foundation. It’s time to get started establishing a WisdomBuilt home that will last a lifetime.

Writing a Book Review

girl-160172_1280When you read a book, it’s really helpful for you to write a review on Amazon, and maybe even on Goodreads. That helps other readers decide whether to buy the book. If it’s a book you like, it’s especially important. When you write a review, however, there are several guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. If you know the author, don’t mention it.
  2. Say what the book is about.
  3. Give a few specific examples from the book itself.
  4. What did you like about it?
  5. Does the author accomplish his or her purpose?
  6. Do you recommend the book?

 

Here’s an example of a book review I recently wrote.

On Parr (2)I just finished Ken Murray’s “On Parr” about a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. The story about Colonel Ralph Parr is fascinating, but so is Murray, the author. I found him to be part research historian, part flight instructor, and part master story-teller. The combination enables Murray’s skill as a writer to hold you in your seat, turning page after page, wanting to find out what happens next. He gives inside information about what it was like to attend an NFL game when the stadium announcer tells the crowd that Pearl Harbor was attacked. He describes in detail what it feels like to dive straight down in a fighter jet from 43,000 feet and pull up barely in time to avoid slamming into the ground, right behind eight Russian MiGs, and taking out the enemy leader. His narrative includes figures of speech, dialogue, and technical information. It’s full of sensory detail: sights, sounds, and smells. He doesn’t shy away from the emotions the characters in the stories are dealing with during hellish battle scenes of war: fear, anger, loneliness, or depression. In the process, Murray brings the reader into the action, into the context, into the time period. I discovered nuggets of wisdom, such as how to approach relationships when starting a new job, and how to balance your personal life with your career. Murray does a really good job showing the interplay between national and international politics, and how it impacts average citizens as well as military personnel. And, while shining the spotlight on Colonel Parr, Murray manages to reveal a bit of himself. For he, too, is a decorated military aviator, an accomplished writer and editor, and an outstanding example of a human being who has so much to offer. I recommend the book.

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Being Spiritual Together

Couple 3Early in our marriage, at a time when my wife and I were really busy, with three kids at home, finances that were really tight, and life was stressful, we didn’t know about the connection between spirituality and happiness in marriage. What we did know was that because of our circumstances, we got out of the habit of reading our Bibles, praying together, and taking time to worship together. We were totally unaware of the invisible toll it was taking.

We were snippy with each other, which isn’t usually the case. We didn’t have much patience. And, I was facing some strong sexual temptations. In the middle of this chapter of our lives, Linda said to me one day, “You know, we haven’t prayed together or done family devotions in several weeks. I wonder if that’s part of why we’re struggling.”

Bible2She was right. Almost as soon as we reinstated our spiritual disciplines, a sense of unity was restored, we got along better, and the other circumstances were much easier to handle.

Couples who are active in their spiritual life together have a much higher rate of marital success. The opposite is also true. Couples who don’t practice their faith together tend to fall apart when life gets tough or when there are sexual temptations. Pursuing faith together and maintaining a spiritual focus are crucial to growing a strong, close marriage.

For this reason, Kay Arthur teaches that your relationship with Christ is the glue that can bond a husband and wife together for life, the secret that can hold your marriage together.

Genesis 2:24 says when a man and a woman marry, they become one flesh. The emphasis is on physical intimacy or oneness. However, the unity the Lord wants couples to experience extends far beyond the physical dimension of the relationship. It includes intellectual and spiritual unity as well.

venn-diagram-41219_1280Humans are three-fold beings. We are physical, intellectual, and spiritual, and the Lord designed us to remain active in all three ways throughout our lives. To omit any one of these dimensions is to neglect a third of what life is all about. Some couples leave out two aspects of humanness in their marriage, focusing only on sex, disregarding the importance of the mind and the spirit. When they do this, they’re ignoring two-thirds of their potential for intimacy, meaning, and happiness together. They’re simply too shallow as a couple, and their marriage is headed for troubled waters, certain to crash against the rocks or run aground.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

The wisdom found in this proverb encourages you to acknowledge the Lord in every part of your life. This would include your career, your health, your finances, your lifestyle choices, and your relationships. It encompasses your education, the books you read, and the movies and shows you watch. And, it involves your marriage and family. In other words, if you want to know how to make your marriage work, it’s important to start with making sure you are being spiritual together.

Spirituality, is a gift from God, designed to help us succeed in marriage, which is the most important human relationship. The Bible says every perfect gift is from above. Spirituality is a gift designed by God to help us, to bring happiness and fulfillment, to draw us closer to him, and to one another as husband and wife. It’s one of the ways God empowers us, helps us make sense of the world, and make sense of our lives.

Having Fun Together as a Couple

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

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Courtauld CafeThey liked each other as soon as they met, so they started dating. They did all kinds of fun things. They saw movies and went to concerts. They both liked to ski, loved the same music, and enjoyed talking about the Bible. They had fun together. They laughed often. They made life feel good for anyone who was around. It was obvious to them and their friends that they were meant to be together, so they got married. They were best friends.

After the wedding, they settled into their new life together, and the dating gradually stopped. Life got serious, and they forgot the importance of having fun together.

Almost every time I ask an engaged couple what drew them together and what they like about each other, invariably their answer is that they are best friends. They have fun together, they laugh together, and they want to be together all the time.

People are wired for fun, to enjoy life. We love to laugh, experience new things, and have adventures. We tend to gravitate toward people who are fun to be with, who want to do things we like to do. When a couple keeps on having fun together, their marriage tends to stay fresh, they continue to like each other, and they don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. But when a couple stops having fun together, their marriage is headed for trouble.

Why is this the case? Simply because having fun is one of the top three major areas of fulfillment in human experience. People everywhere need spiritual fulfillment. There is a strong, almost universal desire for sexual fulfillment. And everyone needs to have fun in order to enjoy life. When you combine spirituality, sexuality, and fun, you create a life that is deeply satisfying and meaningful. When you do that in your marriage, the result is an amazing marriage and home life.

popcorn-1433326_1920Think back to the time just before you got married. Can you remember the things you did together? Who planned the dates? Where did you go? Did you have fun together?

While My wife and I were dating, we would go to a movie, spend an afternoon at a park, or go to the beach. We played miniature golf, hung out with friends, and played tennis. We played cards with her family, spent a lot of time talking, and went to church. One time, we had a midnight picnic with another couple. The event was planned by the ladies, and was a lot of fun.

After marriage, things begin to change. You finish school, look for jobs, have a few kids, get into debt, and life gets serious and heavy. It seems there’s no time or energy or interest in having fun anymore. Some couples just don’t have enough money.

It’s important, however, that you build fun into your lifestyle. You have to balance the seriousness and responsibility with lightheartedness and fun. You have to make time to play, and you need to do it together, not just with other people.

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This Book Is a Winner!

I highly recommend WisdomBuilt Biblical Principles of Marriage. This practical and readable volume will enrich and strengthen marriage relationships. What makes this such a relevant book is the way Paul integrates insights from current research and the best of psychological studies—underscoring the reality that “all truth is God’s truth.” This will be valuable for any couple to read and study together as they strive for a healthy relationship. And, for church leaders wanting a great small group resource to enhance the marriages in their congregations, this book is a winner!

RIch Guerra

Rich Guerra, Superintendent, SoCal Network, Assemblies of God