Feb 26, 2021
Serial Adulterers and Marriage
I spoke at a conference with a man who shocked me when he confessed to being a “serial adulterer” who recently repented, remarried, and was there to tell me how to make marriage work. Huh?
Another time I overheard one man telling an intently listening group of other men, “I just told my third wife that my kids were more important than her and if she didn’t like it, she could leave.”
That advice was shut down quick.
Are these two men who you want to give you marriage advice? I hope not. Do you want the best advice for marriage? Talk to a couple like Paul and Virginia Friesen, married 45 years, and the founders of Home Improvement Ministries. They have been serving in marriage ministry for 40 years now! You can trust them for excellent, time-proven, biblical advice.
They have written several books together, including The Marriage App, which was our topic on the Men in the Arena Podcast. We interviewed Paul back on Episode 297 about his book, Loving Your Wife Like Christ When You Ain’t No Jesus! It was outstanding!
First time for Everything
This was a special podcast episode for two reasons—Paul’s wife Virginia was on the show as our first female author to offer her excellent wisdom. Second, my wife of almost 30 years, Shanna, joined me as a fellow guinea pig in this podcast experiment. If you want to listen to a couple get raw—and real—I highly suggest you listen to this episode. We let it all hang out. It was a humbling and vulnerable opportunity.
We did this because the Friesen’s book, The Marriage App, is a play on words. At the end of each chapter, they give couples APPLICATION assignments.
After discussing each chapter, Shanna and I did every chapter application assignment live in studio. Like I said, it got raw and real.
The Greatest Marriage Advice is Here
It only took me eight chapters of highlighting the same quote over and over until I realized, “Huh, I think I have seen this before and, of course, it was a quote strategically placed at the end of each chapter. Paul and Virginia did this because they know how we are. I literally read it seven times before I realized I had read this before! The Marriage App could be summed up in this marriage changing statement.
Remember, Paul and Virginia have been in marriage ministry over 40 years and married for over 45. Do you think they put some thought into this next statement? Here it is:
“When we put our spouses needs above our own, not only do we they feel loved, but it will propel our marriage towards greater intimacy.”
I’m not letting you off the hook that easy. Get back up there and read it again! Where are you NOT putting your spouse’s needs above your own? Where do you need some “Home Improvement?” I confessed several of these areas to Shanna during the interview. Listen to my confession. It will embolden you to do the same and propel your marriage towards greater intimacy.
Boots on the Ground
Take your wife on a date and ask each other where you can grow in loving and serving each other. Then, do it.
Feb 17, 2021
I grew up in a broken home but saw my Dad daily since he was a teacher at my high school. I distinctly remember the day my dad discovered I was dating a girl of a certain reputation and literally followed my bus home so he could convince me to break up with her!
I didn’t. I should have.
Talk about chasing love!
This week we are proud to release our interview with Sean McDowell on the Men in the Arena Podcast about his new book, Chasing Love: Sex, Love and Relationships in a Confused World. This is a comprehensive book that is written for teenagers but should be in the arsenal of every father raising children.
More than that, Sean’s book offers great biblical wisdom for any man who may have questions about sex, love, and God’s purposes for sex.
The Great Lie
We live in a world that has fallen so far from biblical truth regarding sex, and many in Church have bought the lie. I regularly battle “Christian” men and their anti-biblical views of cohabitation, homosexuality, divorce, and sex outside of marriage. Like a breath of fresh air Sean wrote:
“Our world proclaims endless options as the path to sexual freedom. But in reality, sex is actually most satisfying when there is trust, love and commitment. In a committed, loving relationship partners don’t have to be anxious about sexual performance, worried about comparison, or concerned about contracting sexually transmitted infections. Instead, married couples are free to experience the joy of sex as God has designed it.”
There is freedom and great joy when married couples enjoy sex under God’s guidelines. In a recent survey, conservative evangelical Protestant women, reported the most satisfying sex and the most orgasms: 32 percent said they achieve orgasm every time they make love. Mainline Protestants and Catholics were only five points behind, while those with no religious affiliation were way down—at 22 percent.
Sex is best when it is done under God’s guidelines.
I Disagree with One Thing In his book Sean offered three reasons why God invented sex—the purposes of sex. There are actually four, but when I pushed Sean, he stood firm, which I respect.
He is still wrong.
Sometimes we get so “churchy” in our responses to the distorted views of our world we forget the basic truths of God.
Purpose #1: Procreation. Every good Catholic knows this. God created sex as a fun way to maintain the human species. In Genesis 1:22, “God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’”
I tease my Catholic brothers because the devout only have sex to procreate, which is why so many have such large families! Sex is so powerful that through it, a couple can produce a human! Catholics know this sacred truth.
Purpose #2: Unity. Genesis 2:24 is an account of the first wedding of humanity where God said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
Sex is a supernatural union. There is no other way around it. Love making is the mnemonic symbol God gave of the covenant of marriage, unity, and fidelity.
Purpose #3: Foreshadowing of heaven. Using the Household Code in Ephesians 5:30-31 as a reference, McDowell writes, “The cultural obsession with sex misses its deepest purpose of foreshadowing our union with God in heaven.”
Although I appreciate the sentiment, I cannot contextually connect this passage with sex. I do believe that the union with our wives is the closest link between Christ and the church, but I do not believe that the single and never married Apostle Paul is talking about sex.
Therefore, I disagree.
Purpose #4: Pleasure. This brings me to the fourth, and most often misconstrued, purpose of sex—pleasure! I believe with all my heart and biblical knowledge that God creates sex for humans, in a heterosexual, monogamous, covenant of marriage to thoroughly enjoy.
I love Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
I love to ask those who discount or overlook pleasure as one purpose for sex to explain the female clitoris.There is no other scientific reason for that body part—except pleasure. If we believe God created everything, then we have to reckon with the clitoris.
Pick your own top three but I will stick with my choices of 1,2, and (enthusiastically) 4!
Boots on the Ground
Besides my one point of contention, I loved and highly recommend Josh’s book and final thought on sex and marriage, “Here is the bottom line about marriage. Are you ready? Marriage is not about you. Marriage is not about finding your soul mate as the secret to a meaningful life. Marriage is about something much bigger. It is about sacrificing for your spouse and kids, as well as portraying God’s loving character to the church and the wider world.”
Men, it is not about you. It also isn’t about you being happy. It is about you being holy. It is about pleasing Jesus and serving your bride. Take your wife on a date this week and ask her to rank you as a husband from 1-10, then discuss.
Oh, and check out our Men in the Arena Podcast, episode 297 with Paul Friesen for more great marriage advice.
Feb 11, 2021
This week it was a pleasure to have my friend Clair Hoover on the Men in the Arena Podcast.
When Clair isn’t serving as the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Ministries to Men (NCMM) he works in commercial real estate development and management with his sons. Besides talking about his Dallas Cowboys, and favorite band, Van Halen (with Sammy Hagar), Clair was impressively vulnerable about his struggles in 2020 as the Coronavirus was ramping up.
2020 Was A Lemon
I laughed out loud at Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercial depicting 2020 as “A Lemon of a Year.” It’s true.
Many got sick (including Clair), some died, many lost jobs and businesses, not to mention social unrest and political elections. Fortunately, Clair caught himself, leaned into Jesus (Proverbs 3:5-6) having his best business year to date as well as seeing great growth leading NCMM.
2020 was a banner year for disappointments.
How do you handle life when things don’t go your way? Do you rage in angry outbursts? Do you live vicariously through your TV monitor? Do you dive into your favorite comfort foods? Or numb your mind through marijuana, alcohol, or other substances?
This morning, I read about the death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:1-46. Four days after his death, Jesus arrives at Lazarus’ tomb, and finds the disappointed Mary and Martha.
Notice the disappointment in their separate responses to Jesus:
“Martha then said to Jesus, Lord, IF You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’ (John 11:21-22)”
“Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, IF You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ (John 11:32)”
He saw the hurt in their eyes, He listened to the pain in their voices. He heard the sorrow in their hearts.
Shortest verse in the Bible
“Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
He knew what was coming next, but He wept, nonetheless. He didn’t weep over Lazarus but over the pain of the sisters that he cared so deeply for.
Jesus notices your disappointments. Jesus knows your pain. The worst thing we can do is hide our disappointments from Him, deceiving ourselves that He somehow doesn’t notice. This simply is not true.
Tell Jesus what you feel—exactly—no matter how ugly it may be. Here is a little secret: He already knows and cares! But that isn’t my favorite part. Keep reading.
Unwrap, Unbind, Set Free
Jesus ultimately resurrects Lazarus, “When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.’" (John 11:43-44)
Did you catch that? Lazarus was alive, he was resurrected, the stench was gone and the life was back... but he was still in bonds. In the New Living Translation, Jesus said, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Boots on the Ground
For some reason, verse 44 hit me like a .44 magnum between the eyes. How many others - like me and my friend Clair - are alive in Christ but walking around in bondage? Did you notice that Lazarus, for whatever reason, did not remove the wrappings himself? Instead, Jesus had his friends and family help him!
It is one thing to be alive in Christ, but it is quite another to be free in Him.
- Are you free?
- Is there ANYTHING binding, pulling, and holding you back?
- Who has your back?
- Who is God using to unwind your bonds so you can live freely as your best version in Christ?
Feb 4, 2021
“Five Practical Tips to Craft Your Mission Statement”
My Mission, Your Mission, His Mission
Make sure you listen to last week’s Men in the Arena Podcast with the Kansas City Chiefs mascot, Dan Meers. Dan is the man who goes to work every day like any other man, dressed in a suit, but instead of wearing a tie, Dan wears a tail. Dan is KC Wolf, the official mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Make sure you visit our website and read my blog that answers the most important question in life; “Who am I?”
The Second Most Important Question is…
As a follower of Jesus, we should know who we are biblically, which you can discover by searching “who the Bible says I am.” Last week, we wrote about who we are specifically—our unique gift to humanity—that Rick Warren appropriately termed our spiritual SHAPE. Those five things are:
Jan 29, 2021
“The Two Most Important Questions in life”
Man on a Mission
Last week the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills on their way to Super Bowl LV. This might mean the second Super Bowl Ring in a row for this week’s guest on the Men in the Arena Podcast.
Dan Meers is a man on a mission since 1986 when he began his unique career. He goes to work every day like any other man, dressed in a suit, but instead of wearing a tie, Dan wears a tail. You see, Dan is known as KC Wolf, the official mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs.
We interviewed Dan about his newest book, Mascot on a Mission.
Lost in the Bubble
Many of the guys I run into daily are lost and confused in the midst of the overwhelming Stress Bubble years of working hard, loving his bride, and raising a family. A guy like that can barely catch his breath, let alone figure out the purpose of his life. But he MUST figure it out to become his best version for God.
But a man is more than his career. What you do does not define who you are. Rather, who you are should determine what you do. Refuse to choose a life path based on outside factors such as money, security, fame, or success. Find your sweet spot. You only live once.
In his book, Dan writes, “Your identity is tied directly to whatever you give your heart to. Ultimately your identity will be tied to what you love the most.”
For the Christian man, that has to be Jesus Christ. In that case, a man can boldly ask the two most important questions in life.