What a Gift Can’t Do

We’re getting down to the last few days of Christmas shopping and now, some of you guys are starting to panic. What are you going to get her now? What does she really want?

Now, add to this panic a heaping helping of guilt. Your job was a little more demanding than usual. You were tired when you got home. Fill in your own list of reasons/excuses for why you weren’t as attentive to her or your marriage as you should have been.

Now, you’ve set yourself up for a double whammy. For one thing, you’re going to spend way more on a gift than you should. This one will kick you in January…hard!

Second, the gift won’t do what you want it to do. No gift can make up for attention you didn’t give, time you didn’t spend, or affection you withheld. In fact, the gift just may backfire on you. The expensive gift may just remind her of all of the times she felt neglected, and then, she’ll get mad all over again.

So, what can a guy do in a crisis like this?

Let me offer this suggestion. Give your wife “moments” in the coming year. I know, most of you are thinking about giving your wife more time, but moments are different from time. Time is just ticks on the clock. Moments are what you do in that time.

Here’s what you do.

Sit down together and get out your calendar. Go over your year a month at a time. Plan dates with your wife, anniversary celebrations, birthdays, vacations—all a year in advance. Pay special attention to those times of your year when you know you’re going to be extremely busy. (For example, if you’re a CPA, this would be tax time). Plan something before you get busy and plan something to celebrate the end of your busy season. You can do the this for your whole family, but for this exercise, just focus on your marriage.

You’ll accomplish a couple of things by doing this:

1. You’ll make your wife the priority of your time. After all, you planned your time with her first.
2. You will give her something to anticipate. Remember being a kid at Christmas? Waiting for it is half the fun.
3. You won’t have to worry about it for an entire year. It’s already on your calendar.

Yeah, I know. This doesn’t sound very romantic, but sometimes you get the feeling and then you act. Other times, you act and the feeling comes later. Whether or not you “feel” like going out when the date comes up, once you get into the moment, you’ll be glad you planned ahead.

So, give it a try. Over the next few days sit down with your brand new, mostly empty 2017 calendar and plan your special days. Let me know how it works out. Something tells me, if you do this, Christmas will be a lot easier for you next year!

Merry Christmas!

Here’s A Thought: Read The Bible

From time to time, people will ask for the title of a book they should read to help their faith. They realize that in some areas of their discipleship, they need to deepen their understanding.

For some reason, everyone seems to be surprised by my answer. “Read the Bible.” Whatever book a person may choose to read will always be tested on the anvil of Scripture. The book’s validity will be confirmed or dismissed by the way the authors align their insights to the truth in revealed Scripture.

Yes, there are a lot of books. Yes, there are a lot of good books. I hope you read, and read a lot.

Yet, in NO way does any book replace the Bible in ANY way in the life of the believer. Period.

If you have time to only read one book, read the Bible.

Only the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Only the Bible is the revealed World of God. What I mean by that is the Bible is where God has chosen to reveal Himself in the witness about God’s greatest revelation—Jesus Christ.

Start with gospels. Read them, and then read them again. Let the words and actions of Jesus be burned into your heart and mind. Know for yourself what Jesus actually said and what He meant in the context of His teachings.

Read the Psalms. Read Proverbs and Romans. Read every book, and then read it again.

God has given us His book. The mysterious wonder of reading Scripture is that we open this Holy Book in the presence of the Author. As we open the Bible, Christ has promised to meet us in our conversation with the text.

Sure, Jesus can do anything He wants, and yes, He can meet you anywhere He wants, but it’s been my experience that Christ meets me—and I meet Him—most consistently when I’m reading my Bible.

So, if you want to know more about Jesus, read the Bible. Want to better understand humanity and yourself? Read the Bible. Want to know the secret to a life well lived? Read the Bible.

Now you have my best suggestion on what book you should read—the Bible. I’ve been reading the Bible almost all of my life and yet, in most ways, I feel like I’m just beginning. Reading the Bible is the most fascinating and life-transforming experience you will ever have.

What are you waiting for? Pick up your Bible and start reading.

The Power of Focus

“Pay attention!” “Eyes on the board!” “Where’s your head?”

I heard all of these (and many more!) when I was growing up. I had (OK, have) a very short attention span. Focusing on anything for any length of time has always been a challenge to me. If I’m going to study for a sermon, I’ve got several tricks I use to make sure my attention stays where it needs to. Some days, I’m more successful than I am on other days.

Not paying attention is a growing and dangerous problem in our culture. People drive and text. Others try to carry on conversations while they check social media. Meeting attendees check email and work on other projects while they’re supposed to be paying attention to the meeting they’re in.

One of the places this lack of attention is so destructive is our marriages. Trying to listen to your wife and watch TV doesn’t work. Listening to your husband while you scroll through Facebook actually shuts down communication. It doesn’t enhance it.

We have enough studies to know one thing for sure: we don’t multi-task well. In fact, most of us can only do one thing at a time.

And that is especially true in our marriages. We can only do one thing at a time. We can only focus on one thing at a time.

So, when it’s time to focus on your marriage, put down everything else and focus on your marriage. Turn off the TV, unplug your gadgets, and focus on each other. Look into her eyes and turn your body to squarely face each other. Listen—with your whole self—listen! Listen not only to the words, but to how the words are said. Listen not only to what words are used, but how the way they’re used changes or shapes their meanings.

You notice things when you pay attention. You pick up on small details you had overlooked before. You learn things and discover things that have been there all of the time.

Focus will do the same thing to your marriage. So, pay attention. Focus. Who knows? You may find another reason you fell in love in the first place.