Be Thankful – Always!

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name. – Psalm 100:4

ThanksgivingThe Thanksgiving season is upon us.  Thursday, we will be celebrating this year’s Thanksgiving Day.  Families and friends will gather in homes and other places to enjoy a hearty meal, desserts, maybe watch football, or even play a game of football as a family.  My oldest grandson told me this weekend he was going to play football with his Dad’s family this weekend while visiting in Ohio.

But so often we enter this day as just another holiday and though we talk about this holiday being a day to be thankful, we oftentimes overlook what we are thankful for.  Yesterday while in church I heard the pastor state we shouldn’t be thankful only once a year; but, our lives should be lived as a Thanksliving.  Being thankful for what God has done for us every day all year long.

So, what am I thankful about?

First, my relationship with God.  The fact that He loved me so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that I could have eternal life and have it more abundantly.  That even in my depraved state, Jesus loved me to the point of death so that I can be saved.  Without Him and the relationship I have with Him, all those I mention below would not be possible.

I am thankful for my wife.  For over 41 years she has stood beside me and have been a blessing to me, in the good times and the bad.  We have worked through them together.  She has been a wonderful Mom to our two children, she has been an adopted mom to our in-law children and treat them as if they are her own.  And of course, she is a great Memom to our grandchildren.  Always having that right snack around the house.

I am thankful for my children.  They are a delight of my eyes and a joy to my heart.  They too have blessed me beyond measure.  I have been blessed that they have stayed in the area and I can see them often.  I know many parents do not have that luxury and I am grateful that God has seen to it they have been able to stay close by.  And I am thankful for the ones God placed in my children’s path to marry.  My in-law children are as much a part of my family as my own children and I like to think of them as my own.

Proverbs tells us that “Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly” (Pro. 17:6).  Or as some translations say, “of the age” or “old men.”  I don’t consider myself none of those yet, but my grandchildren are a crown.  One of the most enjoyable times in my life now is my grandchildren climbing in my lap to share Peanut M&Ms or to watch, as one calls it, “Kirock.”  For those that don’t understand the language, that stands for Coyote of Roadrunner and Coyote.  What a joy it is to watch them grow.

I am thankful for my extended family, my brother who has been a support to me in so many ways after our Dad died when I was 14 years old.  Offering me wisdom though I didn’t listen to him when I was much younger.  A sister who died quite some time ago, who while I was growing up, always showed her love to me.  My in-laws, Joanne’s family, as they have been like brothers and a sister to me.  Joanne’s Mom as she has treated me as one of her own.

Thankful of the many friends I have, too many to count or mention individually.  Scripture tell us “the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel” (Prov. 27:9).  Thankful for my church family.  Thankful for my partners in ministry throughout the state of North Carolina and the nation (you know who you are).

To have all the family and friends and knowing my Savior Jesus Christ that I am thankful for would not have been possible if it had not been for my Mom and Dad, who both many years ago, have gone to be with the Lord.  Who made sure the first time I went to church was nine months before I was born.  They made sure I was in church regularly hearing the Word of God.  To that I am very grateful because all the others that I mentioned above may not have been possible.

Thank you to all of you who have been an inspiration and an encouragement to me throughout my life.

To the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.

A Spiritual Happy Man Prays For and With His Wife

Power of PrayerWe have heard many talk about prayer and the power of prayer.  In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus encourages us to Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In the Psalms, we see many prayers.  In Luke 18:1-8 we read about the parable of the persistent widow.  Paul often talked about praying for the churches who received his letters.  In James 5:16 we read, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  All through scripture we see many praying for various needs for the nation of Israel and the church.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25 that we as Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  So, we are to be like Christ to our wives.  Those of us who are married need to understand the positions we hold.  Christ is the Prophet, Priest, and King to the church.  Therefore, if we are to be like Christ then we also need to act as a prophet, priest, and king to our wives and families.  A husband is to be like a prophet by listening to God and then sharing the word with his family; as a priest, he listens to his family and presents their request to God; and as king he leads and directs his family in the manner Christ leads and directs.  He is to be an example of Christ to his family.

We see all through scripture the importance to pray and how we husbands are to be the leaders and examples of Christ.  We are to set the tone in our homes for worship and spiritual growth; for service and being missionaries in our communities.  As I have often told men, your first missionary field is in your home.  We need to be praying for our families and especially for and with our wives.

Scriptures tells us that a man shall leave is mother and father and become one with his wife (Gen 2:24).  So, if we are to be one, doesn’t it make sense to invite God into your marriage through prayer.  Peter wrote in his first letter, “Man prayingHusbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered(1 Peter 3:7).  I purposely bolded that phrase “so that your prayers may not be hindered” to emphasize if we do not want our prayers to be hindered, be sure you treat your wife in the manner God expects you to treat her.  Doesn’t it make sense to invite God into your marriage through prayer since scriptures tells us we are to be ‘one?’  Praying for and with my wife brings the greatest power in the universe into my most important earthy relationship.

As I talk to men I find that many lack the discipline to pray.  Make no mistake, if you have not been doing this Satan will give you all kinds of reasons not to start.  It is difficult for us to knock down that manly pride and ask forgiveness to our wives and families for not praying.  But we must do so to fight this battle that is raging all around us for the souls of our family.  We must discipline ourselves to pray for our families regularly.

As we pray we need to 1) pray for our marriage in general, 2) pray for our wife specifically, and 3) pray for our own struggles in marriage.  When we begin to pray for our wives and their needs we will find that many of the struggles will go away.  Praying with your wife is powerful.  Statistics tells us that nine out of ten couples who pray together will stay married until death.

Husband PrayingNow if you are a man who likes to be organized then I suggest you and your wife appoint a time when you would get together to pray.  Maybe get a devotional book to work through together and maybe keep a journal of your times together.  If you are a spontaneous man, then be opportunistic.  Sometime during the day, maybe as she is going out the door to run errands or you to work and you make that physical contact to hug or kiss, hold her for a few moments and pray.  When you are dealing with family decisions – pray together.  You will find that most decision will be much easier to make.

For you young men who are not married or maybe you men who are marrying later in life, what can you do?  Begin praying today for the bride God has for you.  Praying that God has begun a work in her life and pray that God will begin to help you understand what it means to be a husband.  That you will be a man who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and that you will live with her in an understanding way and honor her.  Begin praying for your future wife today.

As I lay down in my bed for sleep in the evening; my wife is lying beside me already asleep as she usually goes to bed earlier than I since I am a night person and she is a morning person.  The only sound I hear is the fan blades cutting through the stillness of the room as I reach over and lay my hand on her shoulder.  I begin to pray for her as I fall asleep.  In the morning, I set at my desk after doing my devotion and begin to pray.  My wife is the first person I pray for during this time.  I pray that I will be the husband she needs.  That I will love her as Christ loved the church.  That I will live with her in an understanding way and honor her.  But what I am ashamed about is the fact that I did not always do this.  Since I have developed this habit it has greatly enriched my spiritual walk and it has created a deeper love for my wife.  A love that can only come from Christ.  There is nothing more intimate outside of physical contact as there is to pray for and with your wife.

If you haven’t been praying for and with your wife – begin today.  You will be richly blessed.

Oh yeh… I am one of those spontaneous guys.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike