Of dreaming and dying in a fallen world

In our early twenties, the world is wide and free. It’s full of opportunity and hope. Our ideals trump our experience and we join our heroes in the fight for a better world. Our lives will be great for we’ve seen the future in our dreams.

But our fathers only smile and shake their heads. They once had dreams as well, you know. Plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give you hope and a future. They read it in the Bible (Jeremiah 29:11) and believed it. It’s the same faith they had when they were young but today they call it foolishness.

Pain awareness

The bitterness of shredded hope despises big dreams. It knows that our ambitions will soon yield to the tears of reality. What the older folks have learned is that life doesn’t play out as we plan. The mind is free but we still need food and a place to stay.

The reality was too much and they gave up. Let the dreams escape my hearts! For if I don’t dream, I will not be crushed. They put down their weapons and raised the white flag. In the beginning, it helps to tune out the pain of shattered goals. But their dreams will not stop calling their names until they drown them in bitterness.

But when they hear the dreams of the youth and hear the vigor and passion in their voice, they get reminded of what matters to them. They tell them it’s all useless because it justifies why they never lived their dreams.

Facing the truth

We dream dreams for a reason. They are the expression of our purpose on this earth. What we want to see in this world to happen is what God planted in our hearts (Psalm 139:13). The only way we can do this is by living out what we were created to be.

As mature Christians, we need the zeal of our youth and the wisdom of age. We have to dream our dreams while staying grounded in reality. This requires grit and tenacity. We have to believe in the things God planted in our hearts.

And that’s not all, my friend. We have to walk it out as well. Faith without action is dead (James 2:14-26).

This can be a scary process. Potential failure, facing flack and unknown ground are good reasons to give up. But a warrior will face his fears and move towards it. He will accept the challenge to live for a price. He will fight for the crown of glory and run the race until he sees God’s dreams manifesting through him.

Rewards and legacies

There once was a man who tried a career in business and failed miserably. He applied for law school and was laughed out of consideration. Soon after that, he started another business with the money he borrowed from a friend.

That business tanked as well. He spent the next 17 years paying off his debt. His fiancee died soon after their engagement. Soon after that, he suffered a nervous breakdown. It took him six months to recover.

He ran for different public offices many times in his career. He lost almost all of them.

But in 1860, the tables turned in an instance. He was elected to become president and lead the United States through the most devastating war in its history.

Abraham Lincoln’s legacy surpasses most presidents that came after him. He couldn’t have made the impact he did had he not pursued his dreams through his countless failures and setbacks.

Patience and endurance seem obsolete in a time of instant access to entertainment and information. But there is no way around them. Overcoming and accepting failure is part of our success. The adversary is what makes our victories great.

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Oh God, why don’t you let me fight my enemies?

I sometimes feel I should have been born in the times of the Old Testament, warring with a battle ax against the forces of darkness and the heathens of the world. I would have joined David and his mighty men fighting injustice and unholiness with the sword. We would have annihilated evil from society and collected the foreskins of thousands of unbelievers for the glory of our king (1 Samuel 18:27).

It is a lot easier to grasp the concept of friend and enemy. Holy prophets killed the evil ones (1 Kings 18) and holy men didn’t sleep until they blotted out all evil (2 Kings 9). We either win or die fighting. Both fit in our box, both have a beginning and an end.

But we don’t live in times long gone and we don’t wield the sword at the unbeliever. Our war is not fought in the realm of the physical but in the realm of dreams and ideas. We fight with the mind and the spirit and we fight in a reality unseen, the foundation of what our eyes can see and the end of what our minds can perceive.

Longing for the past?

When we look at the Old Testament today we are faced with strong conflicts. We approach the verses with the mindset of the watered-down morality of the 21st century. We want his grace but ignore his holiness. We see Christianity as a happy getting-along philosophy rather than a surrender of mind and will to a fierce and holy warrior God.

Comfort and riches have numbed our society to the dangers of sin. Our silence in defending godliness has given rise to voices welcoming every philosophy and religion with wide and open arms.

On our watch, Planned Parenthood dismembers children in the womb. They cut the spine of developed Babies inside their own mothers. But that’s only if the injection of poison into the baby’s head fails. In either way, no matter if dead or alive, the doctors rip the little one apart and pulls out the pieces one by one.

I want to blame these atrocities on ignorance but I don’t have it in me. What they do is beyond murder. It’s slaughtering innocence and a betrayal to the core of who we are as human beings. It’s my own children who could have been raised in those wombs, cut apart into pieces by self-righteous sons of evil.

Deliverance of complacency

Sin didn’t change. Its severity is still the same as it was when it first entered this world. The difference though between today and the time of Joshua and David is that Christ paid the price for it. He took away the consequences of sin and carried them himself. That’s why we can approach the throne boldly and call God our father.

But through a culture of relativity and a land filled with riches, the influence that sin has on our lives has been pushed to the sidelines. Our view of sin adapts to our surroundings if we are not grounded in the reality of sin’s severity. And since we don’t understand how sin is wrecking the world, we don’t understand the urgency to purge it.

Jesus, we need you

Our only chance to win is to win is to cry out for our savior. We need his mind and heart to represent him well on this earth. We need him to live a life devoted to him, worthy of the sacrifice he made for us. We need his strength to fight for righteousness in this world and bring his kingdom to the earth. Only his grace can sustain a fight that will require everything.

Our commitment to him can only be as strong as our revelation of his character and his love for us. The more we know him, the more we want to live for him. The more we love him, the more we are committed to his cause and his mind becomes ours.

That’s when we can fight. Blows will hurt and bones will break but our commitment will stand. We have Christ and we have each other. We are the church.

And we fight for one.

Your life’s best chapter is yet to come

Our life has a beginning and an end. Like the cover of a book, they are the absolute boundaries of our earthly existence. We can’t impact them nor can we change them. We have no control over the culture we were born to nor our upbringing and the values that build our identity.

Up to this day, our own book of life was written with indelible ink that has integrated with the pages. Our past is unmovable but our future is magic. Empty pages about to be filled with deep falls and tremendous heroism. Great testimonies and sobbing with the Psalms. All will be written down to be remembered forever.

Chapters will be written that will enchant the reader and take him into a world filled with wars and fears. He will hear of our inner fights and listen to the voices in our heads. Our thoughts will become real to him and he will suffer with us through the longing for meaning in a world of cheap promises.

Unknown dimensions

Our books will be written as things truly are. As we will read it one day, our eyes will be opened to a new realm that surpasses what we know and see today. We will see the chains we were bound with and God’s angels released over our lives. It’s a battle of souls, fought with demons and dragons and the prayers of the saints.

We have to stand in the times of war to enjoy times of peace. Hollywood copied a warrior’s dream but since so many die unnoticed, we call it a fairytale. Our realm of influence is ours to guard. No one will take our responsibility but us. We win our victories not only for ourselves but for our ours as well. We win for a destiny and legacy, we fight for those we love and those we leave behind.

We have to make memories in the darkness to keep us humble when things are great. How we behave when times are good is the evidence of a lesson learned or squandered. Can we handle his blessings or will we forget about God as soon as the sun is rising?

No perfect heroes

We are all open books and those around us don’t need ink and paper to read us. Our impression on people is the collection of inner struggles and resolutions, worked through and buried. People around us read us like those who parse through the lines of our lives in the heavenly.

Everything is 20/20 in hindsight but we have something today that we will not have then. While we live in the unknown, with wet ink drying as we live our life, we have the advantage of the moment. We have control over the next pages. We are the hero of this ship, we are the authors of our books.

We can’t impact everything but we can start with changing what will be written from today on. Great testimonies always include adversary. Even Jesus won the victory not despite the darkness but through the darkness.

Every good book has a conflict. It would be boring otherwise. We love to read about struggles because we all can connect to them. They are as real as life itself. The journey is what makes the hero because no one is born perfect. He struggles, reaches for the hand of God and overcomes.

So don’t worry about your own book’s hero’s flaws. Let the reader connect to them and experience who the hero truly is. Let the reader’s lives be changed by your story before the last sentence is written and the book is closed.

Never enough: Why we always want more

During our honeymoon, my wife and I took a road trip to Niagra Falls. We ate out almost every meal. It was a dream at first. We would stop wherever we felt like it, feasted, and moved on.

But over time, something very interesting happened.

Eating out became normal. I still remember the place it hit me for the first time. I got bored with the food choices, annoyed with the taste and tired of à la carte. I didn’t want to believe it at first and chucked it off as a weird mood. But it kept on happening for the rest of our trip.

The next big thing

Like my food experience, everything we long for in this world will get stale if we get too much of it. The excitement wears off and the novelty changes into a familiar routine. While there is satisfaction in the constant, it can’t give the edge we longed for in the first place. It’s exciting in our heads but our imagined experiences always turn out to be a lot better than reality.

The ecstasy we experience from novelty comes from the unknown. The push-and-pull between uncertainty and promise is responsible for our rush. Our brain is drenched in a cocktail of endorphins drugged up to believe it’s experiencing the ultimate.

But once the danger is gone and we know it’s safe, the thrill takes a hike. Soon, we’ll start to long for something new again, whether that’s doing 90 on the freeway or sipping that barrel-aged lager next to the fire pit behind our house.

Experiencing salvation

Meeting Christ for the first time gives us a rush we never had before. We see the world through new eyes and want to learn everything we can about Christ and his people. We hang out in church on Sundays, go to Bible study on Wednesdays and even make the prayer meeting on Fridays. We’re so pumped that we can’t wait to get to the next meeting or put our nose back into the good book.

But eventually, we start to miss the meetings. We burnt through the novelty like paper in a fire pit. All of a sudden, we go to church only once a month. We stare at the ashes of our passion and we ask ourselves what happened. Weren’t we on fire for the gospel?

Don’t worry if that’s you. In fact, it’s all of us. This pattern is so common because it’s human. There is a whole interpretation of the Song of Songs that depicts our initial rise and fall quite well. It’s often dismissed as a preacher’s way to avoid talking about explicit sex scenes from the pulpit. Even though there is truth in it, the allegorical interpretation gives us a lot of hope in acknowledging that humans are not perfect.

Solomon’s beat

The Shulamite stands for each member in the body of Christ. We tell Jesus about our great love but bail out on him when push comes to shove. Jesus calls us to trust him, to follow to through rough terrain. But we tell him to go alone (SONG 2:8-17). But even though we let him down, he continues to affirm us, be our strength and encourage us to move forward (SONG 4:1-8). He knows we see only the beginning of the story.

What matter now is if we can keep the fire alive. Can we get the logs to burn long and deep, work through our issues and let the consistency of his word change us? Like a fire that burns for many hours, a deep change takes time and a heart that says yes.

Christianity is more than just a habit or a tradition. It’s more than the logical conclusion of the existence of a creator. It even goes beyond escaping hell and entering heaven. Christianity is God’s offer of friendship.

And friendship takes time.

Facing our fears or dying on the church pew – What will you choose?

We have reached the point of stories becoming tales.

The dust keeps forming on the eyes of our souls as we go through the verses we read 100 times before. We hear the story of Pentecost for the 100th time, read about the miracle of Christmas and fight through the sermon on the mount.

The passion fades with years of grinding. We found the treasure chest a long time ago but it seems that we can’t find the key to crack it open. Promises of abundance and satisfaction dissolve as the week hits us strong on Monday.

We get trapped in the mundane, the saving grace we once felt is but a glimpse we catch once in awhile. We die inside just a little bit with each passing week that builds up the molasses on our eyes. But over time, many small deaths start to add up.

And our faith begins to slip.

Modern education

Many church experiences on Sunday mornings are similar to our school years.

Most of the time, we just listen, take notes and pass a test if all goes well. Our head is stuffed with knowledge but for how long?

Studies have shown that we forget around 50% of what someone taught us within one hour. After 24 hours, it’s 70%. Within a week, about 90% vanishes from the average person’s mind. Without application, ideas and concepts have no opportunity to become real and grounded in experience.

Education is a preparation for real life. We go to school to be able to offer a skill to someone who needs to get a job done. We don’t go to school for school’s sake but to be prepared for real life.

Application

So what are we getting ready for in church if all we do is to wait for the next sermon? The church is a sleeping giant that will change the world if it wakes up. And in order to wake up, we need to act upon the words we hear on Sundays.

Going forward with the teachings of Christ seems scary at first. Insane, maybe. Especially in a world that thinks very little of Christians. Leaning into feeling stupid and the experiencing the discomfort of mockery is difficult.

But we all do it anyway. Maybe not in our faith, but for sure at our workplace. Didn’t it seem scary in the beginning? Especially on our first job or even when we switch jobs, showing up the first few times is difficult.

We meet new people and experience a new way of doing things. We’re not sure of what to do and how to act. We get an intense course in real life application sprinkled with a good portion of company culture.We get to swim without floaties, testing theory against reality and fighting fears of failure.

But we do it, don’t we? We battle through it, find some ground on the open sea and start to expand. We start to feel comfortable and things are humming along smoothly. Our stress level goes back to normal and we’re able to handle new challenges. After a few years, a crisis is nothing but a problem in a different color.

Our concepts became realities because we lived through them. They get anchored in our minds through context and walking the talk.

Twitter, Buffer

Mix in life

The Bible unfolds on a new level once we mix in experience. Only Jesus has the word of life and his voice convicted all of us at one point to step into a life of faith.

We know the stories but we don’t have the experiences. We are afraid of praying for healing. We are afraid of the supernatural. Heaven and hell became concepts and sin a theory.

Is it a surprise the churches are empty?

It is time to be obedient to what the Lord told us. Go out into the world and make disciples of all the nations. Heal the sick, cast out demons.

Who is the king

We have the authority in Christ. Remember, he’s the one who laughs at the foolishness of men, the one who spoke the universe into existence. He declared that his followers would do the things he did “and even greater things than these”.

And what do we do? We like Jesus on Facebook and put a fish on our car.

There is so much more. I’m sick and tired of our lethargy. I want my stories. And I want them fresh.

I want to walk on the water like Peter. He tried it out, he put himself on the line… and sank.

Failing is part of the package. But who was there to save Peter? Jesus reached out for him and Peter had a story.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

As God told Joshua about 3400 years ago, he is telling us today. As the disciples stepped out and failed, so shall we. It’s not about the mistakes we make today but about the stories we can tell tomorrow.

Remember Peter’s shadow?

I want that.

Tears for my brothers: How hell steals those we love

I want to tell you about three guys close enough to my heart to call them brothers. They are all from different walks of life, come from different cultures and they all have different values and belief systems. We are thousands of miles apart but our souls are still knit together.

My first brother is a Muslim. I’ve known him for many years and he always had my back. Our history is built on concrete. It’s a strong foundation that can’t easily break. Trust broke through our hardened hearts as secrets were revealed. I could always count on him, no matter if the sky was dark or the sun was shining.

My second brother loved the good life. He liked the drugs and he liked the ladies. He was high when he didn’t party and even his job was mixing drinks. Maturity made him give up that life and I’m glad it’s working out for him. I look back at our stories and through the memories, I see a bond that can’t be broken. A bond that’ll last forever.

My third brother is as red as the blood flowing through his veins. He loves Marx and Lenin and believes that communism is the key to ending the suffering in this world. We loved to bend our minds and talk philosophy and ideas. He is a humble man, an officer in the army and an excellent engineer who believes in the goodness of mankind.

I disagreed with all three of them on many different levels. Discussions and arguments didn’t get us anywhere but it was still fun. You can go back and forth and pick apart arguments if you have respect for the other person. And that, I had for each of those guys.

But respect will not get them into heaven. Neither will my arguments or my faith. What they have to see is the reality of the gospel lived out in my life. It’s rare that logics get a guy to heaven. Usually, it’s no the brain that needs convincing but the heart that needs some answers.

Life on this earth quenches who we are. The prince of the air convinced us to believe that we are worthless, wondering creatures made up of nothing but molecules and particles. We believe our value is determined by the way we are treated, received and perceived by those around us.

As Children of God, we understand that human beings are made in the image of God and are worth more than any of us can state. We know the worth of human beings and as followers of Christ, we believe the words he told us: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).

I don’t know the end of the story. But the thought of those guys heading straight to hell is killing me. Without Christ, our friends and brothers will go to hell. There is no way around this truth. No second chance, no pleading or bargaining. Saved by grace means we trusted God that his sacrifice on the cross was enough for God to see us through the light of the son: blameless and therefore worthy to be counted among his family.

The more we now God the more our agony grows inside of us for those who don’t know him. Our development and growth in our Lord make us more sensitive to others. The more we understand the love of God, the more we love others. And the more we love the ones close to us, the more we care about their final destination.

What brings me comfort is that I don’t have to and indeed can’t save my brothers. My testimony is proof of the power of God because those guys have seen both sides of the coin. They have seen me before I followed Christ, they have seen me as a new believer and most important, they have seen my growth in the last ten years.

Our responsibility to God is to be faithful to his commands. We are not ashamed of the Gospel. Even if they don’t believe, we have to open our mouth to tell them.How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

Who else wants the Apostles’ glory?

The Romans murdered Peter in Nero’s circus. Andrew was stoned and crucified. James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was pushed off the temple by the religious leaders, survived the fall, stoned and eventually killed him with a club.

James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded. Thomas was struck with a lance. Paul, author a large part of the New Testament and the replacement for Judas Iscariot, was beheaded by the Romans.

Jude was was either clubbed to death, hacked to pieces with an ax or crucified. Simon was probably crucified as well. Bartholomew was either cast into the sea to drown, crucified or skinned alive. Matthew was stabbed to death and Philip was either beheaded or crucified.

As you can see, the apostles weren’t playing any games. People have the tendency to become honest when faced with death. If they lived a lie and get the opportunity to save themselves, why wouldn’t they? No one will die if death means losing everything they hold dear In life. Yet except John, all the disciples were slaughtered for their beliefs.

The New Testament is filled with stories of courage and faith. Peter stood up and preached to a huge crowd who was making fun of them just a few moments earlier. We hear of arrests, miracles and incredible suffering throughout all of the members of the early church.

We read their account and start dreaming of revival in the city, miracles in the streets and faith in Washington. But then we get scared of the process. We return to “reality” and ignore the dream of God we just lived through. We think of them and us, it’s the Apostles and the Christians of today.

We have read Paul’s letters, studied Peter’s wisdom and were captivated by John’s eloquence. But those guys had no idea that their writing would be compiled into scripture. For them, they simply wrote letters.

We declare the Apostles holy and their status unattainable. We see their miracles but often don’t see their progress. If we read the Bible carefully we see that they were regular guys, just like us. They started as Babies in the faith but ended up shaking this world to the core.

None of the apostles were superhuman. They had their fears and struggles just as much as we do. We doubt God’s goodness and we ask about the evil in this world. We wonder how someone as small as us is able to make a difference. We forget the good that he has done in the past and doubt the future.

But so did they. The apostles often didn’t get what Jesus was talking about (Mark 8:14-16) nor did they trust in his abilities (John 13:21-29). Even after he demonstrated his powers, they still wavered and doubted (Matthew 20:17-19). And when the Romans came for him, all of his disciples abandoned him (Mark 14:50).

But over time, they came into their destiny. They stumbled and fell but they didn’t give up. They had faith in what God spoke to them and simply moved on with the plan.

What set them apart from most of us was that they understood why Christ came on this earth. He gave simple men an identity and a purpose. A reason to live and a reason to die. The assurance of being loved set them free to realize their destiny for this life. The apostles lived the lives they were created for because their actions were in line with their inner lives.

Doubt is part of human nature, but we can learn from those who went before us. The greatest men and women in church history experienced doubt, yet at the end, they all died for him. We have only one life to give and we can either waste it like most people or become like the Apostles and spill our lives for Him.

Why Christianity doesn’t appeal to the warriors

Violence in our world today is reserved for criminals and UFC fighters. It is out of our world because we associate it with people who can’t control themselves.

Psychologists tell us that violence is nothing more but a cry for help. Violent people are unable to control a situation so they lash out. Oftentimes, they get angry first, trying to intimidate the other person and thereby controlling them.

If that doesn’t work, they let the fist rule. Violent people are seen as unstable with a great lack of self-esteem and social skills.

Most of the time, this is true.

Yet they have honor, passion, and zeal. Violent people understand respect and facing the fear of losing it. You need guts to enter a fight with an opponent of equal strength.

Stepping in the ring will bring you respect. Skipping it will only bring you understanding.

Boys will be boys

How many boys do you know that pursue weakness?

They all want adventures and fighting. They like soldiers, swords, and Samson. It’s only when they get older that they start hiding their God-given desires to fight.

Boys are shamed into weakness. Their passionate hearts are quenched by the pressure to be civilized and “nice”.

It’s hard enough that culture tells them how bad they are for being boys. But in the church, where they should get affirmation and a strong identity, we confirm their doubts.

Even worse, we don’t say it how we mean it. We leave it up to them to shuffle through the concepts of meekness, humility, and servanthood.

What preachers often mean when they say those words is to be helpless, weak and pitiful.

Be a sissy. It’s ok. Stare at the ground as sin ravages the world God has entrusted you. Let the world push you over, let them have their way with you.

Some accept their doom and some run as fast as they can. Yet both feel the pain and bury it.

A warrior’s answer

The fiber of a man, the essence of a warrior, the spark God put in us is to fight. It is ours to choose how we fulfill this need but denying it will kill us.

Society has taken away from men what makes us. And the church not only promotes that but double-downs on it. Our yoke is heavy and our eyes are blind.

Yet Jesus preached a different gospel than our preacher. He told us to bind the strong man (Mark 3:27) and to take the kingdom by force (Matthew 11:12). God is talking about his people. The ones who smile and won’t offend. The nice ones. The churchy brandy bunch.

His words are necessary to hear because he is calling out what is to be. As the angel called Gideon a mighty warrior (Judges 6:12) while he was hiding from the enemy. As Jesus called Peter a rock while he was still young in faith (Matthew 16:18).

Respect and Christianity

Violence needs to be executed with a purpose and without regrets. Never act out of anger yet stop to acknowledge what you feel. Violence, in most cases, is not a physical act. Don’t run around beating the breaks off of people.

But be ready to fight against injustice. Be sure you know why you fight and be clear on your theology. Be ready to give an answer in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).

Fight for the kingdom. Protect the innocent and fight abortion. Protect the weak and fight human trafficking. Stand up against bullies. Fight for your people who are slaughtered in the Middle East and Asia.

Campaign.

Rule.

Remember you will die

In ancient Rome, a victorious centurion would be celebrated in the streets after returning home from battle.

The people went crazy over him. They gave him gifts, shouted his name in celebration and danced in his honor.

It was like a Justin Bieber rock concert. Everyone adored their protectors whose victory would bless the whole nation and bring honor to everyone.

At the same time, the Romans understood that pride comes before the fall. Of course, it is hard to stay humble if everyone is in love with you.

Their solution was to send a slave before them, proclaiming “memento mori”, remember that you will die.

This would remind the leader that life is temporary. The victory you won today doesn’t make you a god. You’re still imperfect and you are still weak.

Stay humble and remember that you are only human as well.

It would frame his reality into context and bring him back from how the people saw him to who he really was.

It would remind him that he too, is a mortal and his success is only temporary.

 

Living and Dying

Just like us, the centurion needed to focus on what really matters.

Our life is summarized during our funeral. Its true purpose will be revealed by its impact we had on others.

People will come and people will go but our values can live on in our children and our children’s children. We can build for the next 10 generations and change the world while we are long gone.

Our life doesn’t belong to ourselves nor can we see it as a separate entity. We are planted among a group of people, at a time in history and a plan by God greater than we can ever imagine.

If we don’t focus on the impact we were meant to have on this world, we become disillusioned. If we don’t know where to look at for our destiny, we will focus on what’s natural:

Ourselves.

But who ever got satisfied by getting rich and famous? Whoever found lasting peace in the mansions he bought and the things he builds?

Selfishness is a trap. If our goals only serve our stomach, we will squander our purpose on this earth. We will not live satisfied nor will we find peace.

Our minds will race with unrest. We will be chasing the wind, running from project to project to the next new thing.

 

A change of plans

Do you remember the day Christ became the center of your life?

For a short time, we knew that Jesus is all we need. Light and understanding flooded our hearts and we didn’t need anything else.

The joy of salvation, the explosions, and colors, the grace and honey. We used to glide on a cloud, thanking Jesus and living for the first time.

People on the streets became brothers. Evil was extinct because love ruled our heart. We loved our enemies and wondered how anyone would ever want to sin.

Our beginning gave us a glimpse of what is to come. But as the glory slowly faded, our problems, insecurities and human nature came knocking back at our door.

From that day on until the end of our lives, we faced a new decision:

Pursue or die.

Run the race for the crown of eternal glory or sink into insignificance in the back row of your church.

We all have around 80 years on this earth, give or take a few.

Compare that to eternity. Compare that to being in the throne room before the father who created the galaxies and everything we see. The God who emptied heaven to snatch you away from your doom.

Suffering for the people he loves. Humiliated and tempted, fighting for humanity and raising victoriously (John 15:13).

For this God, our father, friend, and counselor, we now have the opportunity to give our remaining time on this earth. We get to spill our lives for to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Oh my God, let me change this world for you! Let me love and conquer, pray and love. Let me raise the young one’s and learn from the old about your goodness. Let my legacy be you. Let my price be you. Let my glory be in you!

All our tears will be wiped away as we go home one day. There will be no pain. But gone will also be the opportunity to stand boldly as all we had was faith.

All we’ll ever lock back at is one life. A life well lived or a life squandered with irrelevance.

Make this life count. It will be over soon.

Do this if your marriage struggles

Left hook, right hook, headbutt – boom. It’s over. The guy lays there on the ground, holding his broken nose. Doesn’t look that tough anymore.

A rush of satisfaction flushes through your body. A smile, barely visible, rushes through your face until you manage to suppress it. “How dare you break into my house and threaten my family? You picked the wrong house, bud.”

We’d fight for our families and we’d die for them. Nothing makes a man as determined to wreak havoc as when his family is under attack. Countless movies bank on this instinct and I don’t know a single dude who doesn’t have this animal inside of him.

Everyday hero

Why is it then that for all the guys willing to die for their family, fewer are willing to live for them?

Husbands are the leaders in their homes. A great part of our family life is an outworking of our leadership. If we succeed to create an environment of peace and safety in our homes, we will have a woman by our side who is willing to go through hell with us.

If we fail, however, we end up right where we are today in contemporary Western culture. Restless little boys pretending to be men, playing games while refusing to grow up. They take no responsibility for their actions and neither protect nor respect the women they are with.

Colored by culture

One of satan’s biggest victories was to convince the man to blame his wife. Whether we blame her for our fears, failures or for not being “free”, the result is always distance between the couple.
As men, we think that it is “safe” for us to explode at our wives. For some reason, we feel there are no consequences if we treat our wives like garbage. We think that with every stupid thing we say, we can come back later and apologize. It’s a given in our minds so we don’t filter our words too much in the first place.

This, my brother, is a horrible mistake. Even though she will probably forgive you once again, you put down one more brick into what you call a relationship with her. Over time, she will trust you less and be a lot mot defensive and critical of you.

And you’ll wonder what ever happened to the beauty of being in love.

Catching the foxes

We confront in our wives what we are afraid to face ourselves. It’s not their fault our inner balance is out of whack.

Our wives want to know us but it is up to us if we let them into our world. Do we trust them with our fears? Our humiliations, worries, and secrets? Do we reveal to them who we really are?

Because if we don’t, we choose against intimacy and thereby create a chasm between them and us in our hearts. Thus, we feel the need to defend ourselves and the fight is on. We don’t know what they think and so we protect ourselves either by attacking or, as many wives will attest, shutting down.

Unity

The only way to get the intimacy we are longing for is to take a risk. Depending on the situation, this might seem unnatural but it’s your responsibility as the leader of your household to take the first step. Remember, we are the ones who are responsible before God.

One fact that is helping me to a lot is to think of myself as a servant to my wife. With this attitude, it is easier for me keep the vulnerability going. It puts my mind in a frame where I am more receptive to her needs and the way she communicates. It shifts away my focus from what I want over to what she needs.

Plus, I want to be the greatest of all (Matthew 20:26).