Like Cats and Dogs

 

Why is he your dog when he is lying by the fireplace on his dog bed and my dog when he is tracking mud across the carpet? DSCN0862Your dog is well-behaved while my dog needs to be scolded for digging in the garden. May I remind you that we only have one dog?

shaggy simonWe love our pets. But pets add another dynamic to every household. They bring companionship and love. They also bring challenges, a few expenses, and all the considerations of having another “person” in the house. After all, pets become part of the family.

Meet Simon. He likes to play with tennis balls; he makes a mess when he drinks his water, and he has a love/hate relationship with the mail man. Meet Loami. She is our cat, but she is not our cat. It’s complicated. It is more like we are her people. (Read Loami’s story.) She eats our cat food, sleeps in our Cat Flat, and goes to the vet at our expense.IMG_0239 In exchange for our hospitality, she graces us with her presence, leaves hairballs on the patio and presents us with a dead rat every once in a while.

Simon and Loami fight like cats and dogs. Now don’t get me wrong, they love each other; they just have different ways of showing love. Simon can‘t figure out why Loami doesn’t want to romp and wrestle. It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that he outweighs her by 70 lbs. Loami just wants to lay in the sunshine and cuddle. But every time Simon tries to lay down next to her, his giant feet inevitably find her tail and off she runs, leaving him perplexed, as if to say “Hey, I thought we were going to cuddle?”.

100_0530I can’t help but notice the similarities to the way husbands and wives relate to each other. I often try to solve relational problems the only way I know how, powering my way through. But my big dopey paws end up making matters worse rather than better.

The animal Kingdom is ruled by dominance. Whichever species can dominate the other ascends to the top of the food chain. Food Chain 2But human relationships are supposed to be different. We humans are not limited to a survival of the fittest existence. Our Creator has given us the ability to reason, and to choose between right and wrong, good and evil; to defer immediate gratification for a better future. We can reason that to have a healthy and happy future, we must control our conduct in the present. Humans are not supposed to rule by dominance, but persuade by influence. When we use this approach, we discover not only a more willing spouse, but that we are happily pursuing the same goal together.

The apostle Peter said: Husbands, dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, 1 Peter 3:7

Tool BeltSimon doesn’t get it. He uses every tool in his tool belt to try and fix his relationship with Loami, but he often ends up frustrated. Dog and Cat LoveWe husbands may never fully understand all the intricacies of our wives, but we can grow to understand the best ways to approach her.  When we treat our wives in ways than honor her, we produce results that are a blessing to both of us.

Now can we cuddle?

 

 

 

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The Deer Hunter

“I’m going hunting……dear.”Fall Leaves Road

It is getting to be that time of year when the leaves are turning, the mornings are brisk, and Fall is in the air. That’s the time when men who have only one thing on their minds, begin to have something else on their minds: Deer in Fallhunting. Now don’t think for a minute that they have forgotten about the other one thing they always that have on their minds. If we can figure out a way to have both, that’s really living!

Hunting GearIt comes on subtly, but you’ll notice as he drives down Auto Row, his eyes begin to linger on 4X4 pickups. His browser seems to instinctively gravitate towards travel trailers on Craig’s List. He wants something just nice enough to still be “roughing it” but comfortable enough to accommodate himself and about a dozen of his hunting buddies. And if you discover a $5,900.00 Weatherby Mark V on the credit card bill, that’s not an automobile, as the price suggests.Weatherby Mark V w Scope It is a high powered rifle that will make him the envy of his friends. No one wants to be underpowered when moving in for the kill. Then there are all the miscellaneous accoutrements like license, tags, boots, rain gear, sleeping bag, and doe scent. I think the doe scent attracts more hunters than it does bucks.Buck Sneaking on hunter But that’s beside the point. Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s are happy to provide a wide assortment of products to get the job done. While you’re there, you have to check out their complete line of 4 wheel drive ATVs. And don’t forget the camo colored helmet, saddle bags, and rifle rack.

He comes by it honestly, ladies. I think hunting is programmed somewhere deep in a man’s DNA. Recently we had our grandkids over, and my 4 year old grandson trooped through the living room carrying his toy rifle saying “We’re going target shooting”. And His 3 year old sister was right behind him with her sunglasses, purse, and baby doll saying ”Yes, we’re going to Target!”Target Wait a minute, guys…DNA. I think I just discovered why our wives like to go shopping. And shopping season is open year round.

The best way to assure a successful hunting trip is not found in a sporting goods shop or an Amazon box. You can’t enjoy a freezer full of meat if you’re getting the cold shoulder from your wife. The best thing we can do is keep the home fires burning warm and bright, by serving our wife well throughout the year. As you encourage her to do the things that fulfill her, and make sure she knows that she is number one in your life, she will encourage you to do the same. Couple in Love 2So whether your thing is hunting, gaming or golf, you can bag your trophy, and have someone at home to celebrate your success with you, when you return.

Customer Service

 

Potato Chips openHalf eaten bags of potato chips, slightly used bedroom sets, and an assortment of exercise equipment teetering on push-carts are all a common sight. A parade of big-screen TVs inch their way to the return counter one week after the Super Bowl. One of the reasons we all love Costco is their wonderful return policy. CostcoTheir customer service staff is so happy to issue a full refund for anything from wilted lettuce to soiled dog beds. Why have they made no-questions-asked refunds their company policy? Because it makes every customer a happy customer; and in the long run, it is profitable.

Returns Line LongWe’ve all been to that “other store” where you bring back a shirt with the tag still attached and want to exchange it for the correct size. You stand in line for fifteen minutes to talk to a stoney-faced representative whose main contribution to society is sarcasm mixed with boredom. All sales finalAnd of course your exchange is refused because a thread is loose on the button, or you’re told, “Those shirts have been moved to clearance”. That’s when we swear, and then we swear we’ll never do business with them again.

On a recent trip to Hobby Lobby, I asked a young sales assistant to direct me to a particular department. He immediately got down off his ladder, and walked me to the aisle I needed. Hobby LobbyThe smile never left his face as he led me to the item. He didn’t call to another associate or point in the direction I needed to go. He stopped what he was doing and made me feel like the most important customer in the store.

It got me thinking how healthy our marriages can be if we provide “customer service” like Hobby Lobby, for our spouse. If she wants something to be different, how ready am I to agree? Maybe there is something about me that “isn’t working” for my wife. Can she come to me and tell me? Does she have to make an iron-clad case; or am I willing to listen to understand her perspective? When she tells me, do I respond like the Costco Returns clerk or do I respond like that other store? Couple having CoffeeDo I stonewall her, or do I give her service with a smile? Maybe she needs help with something. Do I drop what I am doing, and go help her? Or do I heave a sigh and point and yell my answer?

They say the best marriages in the world are made when two servants are in love. Customer service in marriage is not a right we can insist on, but is a great benefit when it is provided to us. A little bit of good customer service can go a long way in a marriage. When we treat our spouse like the most important customer in the store, they’ll likely want to “do business” with us regularly.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16Pickles Costco

I Was Wrong

HeadlinesMisstatements are in bold, 300 font headlines on the front page. But retractions and corrections, if you can find them, are somewhere at the bottom of page C17. We always cry “foul” when a political leader lies or fails to fulfill his promise, but when I make a mistake…not so much. My inaccuracies and misstatements always have “legitimate reasons” and “logical explanations”.Politicians

Why is it that the very faults we decry in public, we practice in our marriage relationships?Fonzie I’d much rather say that I misspoke or you misheard me, than to say I was wr—. Why is it so hard to say I was wr—? OK, I wasn’t exactly right! It’s hard to admit. I’m just like Fonzie in Happy Days, who is too cool for school, but just can’t make himself say those three magic words: I was wrong.

Fig Leaf ThongDavinci Fig LeafThe reason is universal. We are just like Adam and Eve. When we sin we tend to cover up instead of “fessing up”. We hide our dirt when we should come clean. So there we stand in our fig leaf thong, acting as if everything is normal. At first our spouse is confused, then they feel sorry for us, then they just get downright angry. Nobody’s fooling anybody, but why am I the last one to find out?

The bible says that God desires honesty in my inward parts. Psalm 51:6

James says we should confess our trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that we may be healed. How many of us are suffering needlessly when a clean slate is three words away?

The psalmist describes the relief that awaits me when I admit that I am wrong:

Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. ScoreboardFinally, I confessed all my sins you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt  is gone. Psalm 32:2-5 (NLT)

We must have some innate feeling that we need to keep score. A competitive spirit is essential when it comes to striving to win the World Series or the Super Bowl.  But Competition in marriage is an oxymoron, two things that do not belong together like apples and orangutans.Apple and Orangutan Three Legged RaceWe often forget that our spouse is not the opposition, they are not the enemy. We are on the same team. When they win, we win. It is essential that we maintain our team chemistry. And run with endurance the race that is set before us, together.

Your Husband is a Tool

DavidIf you‘ve ever been to Florence Italy, you’ve no doubt seen Michelangelo’s magnificent statue of David. There he stands, the perfect man in all his naked glory…but he did not begin that way. When asked how he accomplished such a masterpiece, Michelangelo simply said “I took a block of marble, and I chipped away anything that wasn’t David.” When we are considering marriage, we are always looking for the perfect mate. We meet someone, we get a glimpse of who God is making them, and it excites us. But spouses don’t come ready-made. The bible says that God will spend a lifetime conforming us into the image of Jesus (Rom 8:29). And when we sign up for marriage, we are signing on to help our spouse become everything God wants them to be.

Look in the Right PlacesNow before we go any farther, Michelangelo did not choose just any random block of marble. He searched for the right quarry, and even built a road to bring back the exact block for David. Singles, this is no place for short cuts. We should be very careful and intentional when choosing our spouse. Choose WiselyLimestone and Pyrite will never have the qualities of marble or granite. They don’t yield to the chisel like marble does.

Tools of the MasterIt is important to make the distinction that God is the artist and we are simply the tool in His hand. It is not our place to try to make our spouse what we want them to be. At the same time, don’t blame your spouse if the chisel feels like it is getting too close to a sensitive area. If God wants to take off a few pounds of something that doesn’t look like Jesus, we will be better for it. The Master doesn’t make mistakes.

Hammer and ChiselIf we are honest with ourselves and with each other, there is a lot in our life that needs to be chipped away. Sin and selfish tendencies keep us from being the person we want to be. The bible tells us to exhort one another daily. (Heb 3:13) How valuable it is to have someone who loves us, someone we can trust to share that goal and help us stay on track.

She Yields to the Master's HandSex and romance, laughter and fun are some of the joys we share along the way as we celebrate our successes, and nurse our wounds, and endure the “growing pains” of life. Having a companion who encourages us makes the process not only bearable, but enjoyable.

On our wedding day we had no idea. We thought we were two finished statues. We stood before the minister and pledged ourselves to serve and love one another, and to help each other through whatever life would bring our way. By daily living out our pledge to one another, we will one day stand before the Lord and hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that’s a life well lived. A masterpiece!Masterpiece

True Love

The Fab FourAll you need is love…. John Lennon wrote to a generation who said “God is dead”. Yeah, yeah, yeah… He’s talkin’ bout my generation. (oops, wrong band) Now John Lennon is dead and God is still alive. Paul McCartney, sporting a few more wrinkles at the ripe old age of seventy two, filled Candlestick Park with Silly Love Songs for its final event. Now, The Stick will go the way of all flesh and be demolished. And what will take its place? Mick JaggerCondos and retail… Shocker!     It seems that one generation passes away, and another generation comes, and there’s nothing new under the sun. (Ecc 1:4 & 9). But there is a higher love than the Beatles sang about. And the living God wants us to experience that love.Crossed heart
The bible tells us husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her. (Eph 5:25). Guys agree, but still have a hard time with this. Because just about every guy I know, is already doing his best to translate his feelings into action. But what if I told you that love has nothing to do with feelings? InconceivableDon’t get me wrong, I have strong feelings of love for my wife. But true love gives and serves and sacrifices whether or not it has that loving feeling. True love chooses consistently to do what is best for our bride. Inconceivable? Not really. Here’s how we develop that consistency.
We all want to have a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle (Sorry ladies, I’m doing the best I can with what I have to work with.) Eph 5:27. One way a husband can love his wife is to protect her. I know that sounds chauvinist but male chavanism wasn’t even invented until 1969.Princess Bride I’ve seldom met a woman who would not want their knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet…but I digress. Husbands should protect their wives. Whether from the physical danger of a mugger, or more  subtle dangers such as a “friend’s” ungodly influence or destructive habits, or too much exposure to worldly media.Wrinkled Face Map
Spots are defilement from the outside and wrinkles are an outward sign of inward decay. The antidote to spots and wrinkles is the washing of water of the Word. I told you love isn’t for sissies. The word of God can do what the billion dollar cosmetic industry cannot do.
Just as a disclaimer, this doesn’t mean that a devoted Christian woman will not develop wrinkles. But joy in our lives turns wrinkles into laugh lines.

Man PrayingGuys, let’s face it, we are finite and fallible.
God instructs our wives to follow us, even though we will sometimes make mistakes and fail. If we’re honest, that’s terrifying! Imagine how hard that is for your wife. Remember, God is conforming her into His image, not ours. We lead her to live by His standards, not ours. Our job is to lead her to Him, to trust him and to honor Him with her life. Leading by example works best.
Jesus said Love one another as I have loved you. John 13:14 Jesus has loved us passionately, unconditionally, sacrificially, selflessly, humbly, graciously, continuously. We all want to be successful at being a husband. By making our aim, our goal, our personal commitment to align with Jesus, we will succeed.

The “S” Word

velociraptorThere is no topic more controversial in the scriptures than the topic of biblical submission. The very mention of the word causes hackles to be raised and teeth to be bared. Wives envision themselves in subjection as a slave, to her husband’s every whim. And husbands kind of like the idea of having a slave who has to do anything he orders. I Dream of JeannieBut that’s not biblical submission, and it certainly is NOT what the bible calls husbands and wives to. So put those claws back in their sheath, and let’s talk about what the bible really says.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Ephesians 5:21-25 KJV
First, let’s remind ourselves that in marriage, God takes two lives and makes them into one: the two shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24) Two Headed CowSince God knows that anything with two heads is a monstrosity,  he assigns different roles to the husband and wife.
Secondly, God does not instruct us to force one another into subjection, but to voluntarily submit ourselves to his plan, and to honor Him by taking our place in his plan. There is a huge difference between servitude and servanthood. Servitude is forced upon us and servanthood is a voluntary act of our own will.
Man serving WomanGod knows that in order to have a satisfying marriage, we need to change from two individuals who live to serve themselves, to a couple who live to serve and satisfy each other.
The apostle Paul implores us to be like our Lord:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Phil 2:5-8
Superman protecting womanMost of us will never need to take a bullet and die for our spouse. But what a privilege to live to serve them.