Category Archives: Relationships

Subtle Passive Aggressive Political Meme Wallpapers

Here’s some inspirational political art by me, Beth and a friend named Kat. These images are to help you better express yourself during this special season. I crowd sourced the quotes to make sure to cover a broad spectrum of feelings. Click on the images to get full size. Right click to “save image as”.

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A Worthless Religion

This was my sermon from today for Corinth Bible Church in Corinth, VT. It was a very specific word for them, but I think you would still be impacted.saint-james-the-less-headline-590x255

James 1:26
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

Biblical Marriage Roles

Good-WifeI recently had this conversation online. Some minor wording has been changed to make it relevant to anyone. 

Q:What are Biblical marriage roles?

A: The biblical answer is mutual submission. Different but one is not the natural lord over the other. Both made in the image of God. Both valuable. If you can teach people how to love and be selfless it falls naturally into place. There are really good marriages around you that have figured it out. Watch how they interact with each other. The world perverts it in every way, but the best answer is to stay away from pendulum swings.

Q:  “What does mutual submission look like? Does it look like the description in the Ephesians 5:22-33, or are those verses cancelled out by 20-21?”

A: No verses are cancelled out ever. That’s the problem with this subject. There is general understanding throughout the Bible about the value of women. Then we take two or three passages by Paul and use those to trump everything else swinging way past God given roles and into something justifying the paterfamilias. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” and then it shows what that looks like. He addresses both parties. Here is how you submit to each other. It is not a simple concept. I expect to learn more experientially about it for decades to come. I also have more Bible study I’d like to do.

For instance what does it mean to be the head as Christ is the head? It can’t possibly be a role in which someone is obeyed and worshipped without question right? It can’t mean I save her from Hell. There have to be limits to the analogy. Christ is the head of the church. I am the head of the wife. To what extent? I am not her Lord, but there is a vast set of scenarios where I am clearly the leader. For instance, I walk first into more dangerous areas. She trusts me to protect her, to pay attention to our surroundings and would follow me out of a room immediately if I said, “we need to go right now.” I am the head of our house spiritually. When we are faced with demonic attacks usually I am the one that has the authority to end it. Sometimes however this is not the case. We look to God for the right answer here. Now, I also submit to Beth. She is not my Lord, but there are things in our life where I ask her what she thinks, and we do that without question. We are both homeschooling our daughters, but Beth has the authority to direct it. Why? Because she is more fit for the task. She has put the work into it. She has done more research. She is a better teacher than me.  I could write a book on the different things on which we submit to each other. A lot of these things fall into the obvious masculine vs. feminine giftings. I’m much stronger and not afraid of black bears, so I take the trash out after dark. She doesn’t get offended by me taking this role. I would like to paint every room in the house blue or black. Beth knows better how to make a house hospitable and beautiful, so I don’t even argue. I’m not offended or emasculated in any way.

The bottom line is you’ve got to consider every bible passage within the greatest context which is the Bible in its entirety. God created them in His image, male and female. Both are His image. They are very different, but they are most assuredly equal. The man leaves his family and clings to his wife. They become one (echad). God told us to love. Love is a decision of our will. The will is always involved with marriage. Consent is key in every sphere of relationships. It is what defines stealing vs borrowing and so much more. It’s inseparable from marriage relationships too. Submission to each other happens by knowing who God has made each of us to be and then agreeing and consenting to yield to the other person. It does not mean I use a trump card every time we get into an argument. If a husband has to say, “No! I am the man. I am the leader!” to get his way in a decision there is something wrong with his character, just as wrong as if he never made a single decision or if he lived in constant fear of his wife. A marriage of two Christians is very beautiful and needs very little rules. Love self governs and flows smoothly. Selfishness forces and causes tension.

Anyway. That’s some of an answer. There’s a lot more to be said.

Peace On Earth: A Christmas Letter

final copy (Medium)
Yes! That is Bekah’s adorable handwriting.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Jesus did a lot more than bring peace, but I believe that peace was high on His agenda. It was one of His biggest goals and purposes. Isaiah said that peace WILL increase. The zeal of the Lord WILL accomplish it. God wanted this for the world, and He would make sure that it happened no matter what.

So what is Peace? And did Jesus bring it?

In Greek the word used for it means to join or to make one. In Hebrew it was the familiar word “Shalom” which was the opposite of being at war.

Peace is not hippy calm. It is relational. It is being in a state of not-war. It doesn’t look like a sleepy monk. It looks like two people tearfully hugging again.

In Ephesians Paul says, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one.” This was a glimpse of Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled. Jesus brought peace. In the first century there was basically one problem. Jews and Gentiles were both getting saved. This was cool, but they were supposed to be in the same church and even in the same room. I’m happy to sing with him, but do I have to watch him eat? He’s gross! There was no end to the fighting and wall building and shutting out and name calling. But Paul worked tirelessly to fix this. He brought them back to Jesus.

Jews, how did you get saved?
By faith in Jesus.

Gentiles, how did you get saved?
By faith in Jesus.

Then stop fighting! No one is better. No one needs to become more like the other. You both need to focus on Jesus and love each other.

It’s easy to find an application to this message for first century Christians. Jews and Gentiles drop your weapons against each other. And more! Actually become one. Come into good relationship. But what about us? Well, it’s simple too. Drop weapons your against each other. And More. Actually become one. Come into good relationship.

• Is there a distanced relationship in your life that doesn’t have to be distanced?
• Jesus brought peace between God and man and between Jew and Gentile. He can do it again.
• Honor Him this season by being a minister of reconciliation. A minister of peace. Shod your feet with the Gospel of peace, and go fix a relationship!

Merry Christmas, friends! We love you like crazy.

Micah, Beth, Bekah & Lil

The Squirrel’s Friends – A Fable About Coveting

A squirrel visited his friends, the Rabbits
He had heard they had a pond now and wanted to see it
It was shady and breezy and smelled of lilies
The water was pure and clear and blue
Young squirrel wanted this pond.
No. He was sure he needed it.

Papa Rabbit called out, “Would you care for a swim?
We are just getting in!”
“No, I would not! It’s yucky and grim,” The jealous squirrel spat.
“With ugly algae setting in,
I’d rather burn in the sun than rest here in this.
It’s disgusting and sad. Why can’t you see it?”

Taking this in the rabbits took a second look at their pond.
“I guess it isn’t nice.”
“We shouldn’t keep this.”
“We should fill it in!”
And that is just what they did.

Unhappy this squirrel went to see the birds
He knew they had discovered an apple tree and wanted to taste it
It was huge and perfect and brightly colored
The apples looked heavy and sweet and red
Young squirrel wanted this tree.
It should be his.

Sister bird called out, “Would you like an apple or two?
They are ripe and ready!”
“No, I would not! They’re starting to turn,” this jealous squirrel barked.
“With worms crawling through,
I’d rather eat leaves or nuts than these.
There won’t be enough, and they’ll not last the fall.”

Believing their friend the birds considered the apples and their tree.
“They’re not that sweet”
“Don’t bother with the bugs”
“Let this tree tend itself”
So they left to find another.

Alone in his hole this squirrel cried to himself
“A filled in pond and a rotten tree mean nothing to me.
I have no rest and I have no food
But worse I have no friend.”

He Sees Me Through

God doesn’t cause my troubles. He sees me through them.

Prayer-Devotional-On-not-being-afraid-e1361948934222Well, that’s the punch line.

Last September our baby was born in heaven. God named her Clara. Five  weeks ago our son was taken up in the arms of Jesus. I saw him. I saw Jesus holding him like he was the only baby in the whole world, the expression of wonder and untamed happiness on His face as He looked down at Isaiah and then back at me as if to say, “Can you believe how wonderful he is?” and throw His head back and laugh, completely unable to contain His joy.

So let’s talk about pain . Real pain. Call it sorrow, call it grief, call it trials or suffering — that kind of pain. The kind that is simply a part of living. Show me a person who has lived without real pain and I’ll eat the one hat I own. Pain is one of the enemy’s plans to cripple and destroy us. True story.  I also believe that pain is absolutely essential to life as food and water. Hear me out.

Could it be God’s plan to walk the road of suffering? Yes; in a way.  I’ll just say I don’t think every bad thing that happens is orchestrated by God to give us a nice little life lesson — usually it’s our own choices mixed with other people’s choices with a dash of chance.  Bad things happen and that’s just the way it is. Is it always His plan to see a hardship worked out for good? Yes. Double yes.

We are experiencing the heart-wrenching, emotional agony of losing two children through miscarriage. Many of you are familiar with this pain having walked through it yourselves either for an unborn, an infant or a grown child.  Many don’t know what to do with this alien grief. We didn’t know what to make of it, had no clue, until it touched our lives. I couldn’t even try to imagine what it must be like, could not relate, because my mind couldn’t seem to go there even in the hypothetical. Then all at once we were welcomed with open arms by a sort of secret club of fathers and mothers who are intimately acquainted with the wound of a broken heart over a lost child.  Most of our friends, we are finding, have children in heaven.  Most of them have walked that road of suffering before, bleeding heart and all.

Thank goodness for the safety of a friendship with Jesus. With Him, it’s  not a grief  without purpose or hope. It’s not blind misery. It’s crying on the shoulder of a friend who knows the heartache you’re experiencing without having to speak. It’s pouring out your broken heart minus all the well-meaning but ill-expressed wishes or suggestions for your comfort. It’s relating to your pain without undermining it. It’s the freedom to cry over your own suffering without a weird guilt trip over feeling it too much or too little. Jesus cares deeply about our pain. He is the safest person to talk to and the safest place to release our raw emotions . If I cried like I do with Jesus to you, you wouldn’t know what to do with me. You’d be so uncomfortable you’d be anxious for me to stop or for you to get away. But Jesus is in no hurry to speed up the process of healing. If it needs to take years, He wants it to take years. If it’s better for us to heal quickly,  that’s cool, too.  He will gently help us get to where we need to be and not get upset (like we do) if it doesn’t happen.

When we lost Clara, I felt a deep and lasting sorrow of losing a person I truly cared about. It felt as if Rebekah or Lilian had died. I was still processing it all when we suddenly miscarried again. When we lost Isaiah I became unraveled but I didn’t feel the same degree of sadness. People deal with pain and grief in different ways at different times. I understand that now.

Jesus is the one place where we don’t have to pretend or be strong.  We can be desperately honest about our fears, our confusion, and it’s ok. He covers us in our brokenness. He assures us with His steadiness, His wholeness, His perfect competence to even take an unbearable  circumstance and see its completion worked out for good. He is patient. He is kind. He’s comfortable with you when you are undone. He’s never at a loss with what to do with you. You can be confident in His character. He doesn’t shrug off some things and care about others. He cares about the details.

I wouldn’t trade my seasons of sorrow for anything. I’ve come to understand the value of brokenness and suffering. I can honestly praise God in trials.  I can say, “Thank You, for this hard time. I thank You because now I can see Your goodness in a light that I couldn’t see before. Now I stand in unshakable confidence in Your ability and desire to take care of me. The depth of Your love for me is so evident in this situation. I thought I knew Your love for me, but until now I didn’t know it like this.  Grace was just a fluffy word that didn’t mean much before. You have met me in my darkest moment,  my deepest pain.  I feel secure in the midst of chaos. When nothing makes sense You are steady. You are true. You’ve somehow made this terrible experience into something beautiful.”

I used to point my finger at God and ask, “Why?” every time something bad happened. I just can’t do that anymore. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good. He doesn’t cause my troubles. He sees me through them.

My Wife Taught Me God’s Heart

muffinSeveral years ago my wife and I were in school together. At the time we had only been dating for a few weeks, and we were spending every free moment we had together. The thing was we didn’t have that much free time. Beth woke up early every day to go to breakfast. I slept until just before class started. One evening I decided that I would wake up early to eat breakfast with Beth and thus spend some time with her. I told her, and she was really happy about it. Also at this time in my life I was reading about giving more of one’s time to spend with God. So I told God that I would get up early and meet with Him for a while and then go to breakfast.

I set my alarm for 6:30 and went to bed at a reasonable time. I woke up at 7:40 the next morning. I had a few minutes to get to class, and I felt like crap. I had let them both down. I apologized to God and then started walking to class afraid of having to face disappointment from Beth for the first time. The sidewalks from the girls’ dorm and guys’ dorm were very long and met at a 90 degree angle at the parking lot of our classroom. Beth just happened to leave her dorm at the same time, and I saw her. I watched her as we walked to class, my face trying to smile. As we met in the parking lot I was ready to apologize, but she never let me. She smiled so big at me, hugged me and gave me a really big chocolate muffin. And she won my heart forever.

Beth was quick to forgive. She wasn’t angry. She was just happy to be with me. And then God touched my heart, and I knew that this was exactly how He felt. He was just happy to be with me.

You Don’t Have to Like Everyone, But You Should Try

You Don’t Have to Like Everyone, But You Should Try

I was processing the idea that you have to love everyone, but you don’t have to like them. This is true. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 that the second greatest COMMANDMENT was that you love your neighbor as yourself. You are required to choose the highest good for all people at all times, but He never said anything about liking people. This is true. Though, I think it’s an immature excuse for being apathetically hateful or at least for being lazy in our general relationships.

The reality of life is that it is hard to like some people. I will say that we do not have to be in relationship with everyone. If that were so they would not be relationships. Relationships by their very nature are conditional. What does this mean practically? Well, you are not required to be close friends with everyone. You are actually allowed to choose your friends and spouse. Some people are bad choices because of the way they are currently living. Some people will never naturally come into our lives, and we shouldn’t be expected to meet everyone on the edges of our circle of influence.

BUT if you are regularly connected with someone you don’t like in your circles of influence, I think that part of loving that person is to relate with them under the same principles of relationships that we apply to our friends, love interest or partner. It is unloving to look at that person and declare to ourselves that we have to love them but not like them. Think about the person in your life? When you say that you don’t have to like them, is that any different from hate? When you hate someone you avoid them. You get annoyed when you see them. You laugh at them not when they tell jokes but when they once again make that noise or say that word again, and your eyes roll. This is what our declared dislike looks like too.

So the end of it all is this:

If you are in relationship with someone, you need to try to like them.

It doesn’t matter what the relationship is. I have a person in mind that God has been convicting me over. I work with her in a side job I have. I plan to keep you updated on her and my interactions with her. Hold me accountable, and take the challenge that I will be taking. I am committing right now to make efforts to like her.

How do we do this?

1. Decide that you want to like them.

This may be the hardest step. It requires pushing past your emotions. It certainly will require humbling yourself and maybe being looked down upon as you step into a niceness toward them in front of your peers who also dislike the person.

2. Stop all negative behaviors toward them.

Decide now to quit rolling your eyes when they talk or making a sound of disgust when they come near. Quit being short with them in conversation especially if they took the effort to initiate a conversation. Don’t participate in gossip or complaining about them. Don’t laugh at other’s negative comments about them.

3. Commit to love them.

This is required of all humans by God and by reality, but when you actually decide to love someone you will do a better job at it. Your conscience will show you whether you have been loving them or not.

4. Ask God to help you do something nice for them.

Here is the thing in my life that has actually worked in changing my bad relationships into good ones. Several years ago I did not like a guy that I was around Monday through Friday. We seemed to fight about everything. He would so often make an absolute statement that I found completely wrong (even morally at times). I did not liking being near him, but I realized that I was in the wrong in this. I asked God to help me like him, and God told me to give him a dollar. I was very poor. :) I took one of my very few dollars, walked to his mail box and placed it inside. He never knew it was me. I don’t even know if he got it. What I do know is that my heart toward him changed. I began to see why he was valuable, and we became friends.