Every Man’s Battle

Revery man's battleecently I’ve re-read “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. It’s a brutally honest book that acknowledges the trench-warfare-like struggles most men have with sexual purity. The authors don’t sugar-coat reality:

“Before men experience victory over sexual sin, they’re hurting and confused. Sexual immorality in our society is so subtle we sometimes don’t recognise it.”

The authors encourage the reader to fully examine their hearts (and actions) and offer practical tips for freeing oneself from a cycle of sexual compromise and sin. They openly acknowledge it’s going to be hard battle – with backward steps as well as forward. The cost of failure, however, is more than any man can afford. They encourage the reader to choose manhood, purity and honour.

“Holiness,” as they define it simply is, “a series of right choices.”

Sexual purity is a challenge for men of all ages and stages in life. Let’s tackle it head-on, and be men who learn to throw off the shackles of the enemy, and stop him from also oppressing those we love.

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Holding Hands

Recently the beautiful Mrs Ezard and I attended a 1 day marriage workshop by Canadian author and popular blogger, Sheila Wray-Gregoire and her hilarious husband Keith. We attend such courses not because something is wrong in our marriage but so that nothing goes wrong. Consider it preventative maintenance on the most important investment in our lives.

It was a great day, filled with honesty, a lot of humour and some helpful tips for improving your marriage.

otters-holding-handsSheila explained that drifting apart from each other is a natural phenomenon. You don’t need to do anything to drift, but you do need to take action to prevent the drift. Otherwise it will happen. She mentioned how otters (who sleep on their back in the water) hold hands to prevent drifting apart. Couples likewise need to find ways to metaphorically “hold hands”.

She encouraged us to write a list of things that we would appreciate and share them with our spouse. (The rules were: a) non-sexual b) 2-3 minutes time investment c) low-or-no cost). Everyone, no matter how busy life is, should be able to do at least two per-day for their spouse, and thus, show love and consideration.

As everyone knows, sometimes there can be hard conversations in marriage. Really hard conversations. One way she suggested you could broach those conversations was to ask each other “where do we want to be in five years time?” That question, can help tease out some of the things you’d like to change, without it being quite so confrontational. Not to mention, it’s a good question to be asking yourselves… and then planning the actions steps you need to take to get there).

Marriage should be treated like a marathon, not a sprint… make it last 🙂

The Sacred Flame

This came to me the other morning. I haven’t spent long on it, so it could probably use some polish… but I have a synopsis to do.

I guess it’s a poem… of sorts? (My apologies to the real poets).

 

As Initiates we watched in wonder the Sacred Flame

Intrigued by its subtle dance, its warmth and its glow

We longed and hoped one day to receive

Our own flame springing forth

 

My wife and I are Keepers of the Sacred Flame

Priest and Priestess, dedicated to its care

Sanctified to keep it burning at all times

It’s a job for two; one cannot do it alone

 

Studying it, we learn to read its mood

To sense its movement, anticipate its need

Oak to burn long, spruce to burn fast, hickory for heat and aroma

There is a time for each, to keep it burning bright

 

We must learn to love the flame

To tend it always, through the long watches of the night

Protecting it from breeze and strong gale

Guarding always its purity and beauty

 

We have become accustomed to its presence

It is for us, a cherished Friend

That warms the body, and makes glad the heart

A flame reaching upwards, toward its Creator.

The Stories I want to Read

“Marriage is a lifestyle” were the first words spoken at a recent wedding we attended.

It is so true. Marriage is not an event, a single point in time, but an ongoing choice. As I’ve written on numerous occasions I’m a huge fan of marriage. I have a fantastic marriage and so I know how beneficial a great marriage can be. Having a great marriage can take a lot of work, but the dividends it pays are the greatest profit in life you’ll ever make.

Divorce rates are too high. Daily we see in our media stories of celebrity couples breaking up, divorcing or caught being unfaithful to the one they promised to love to the exclusion of all others.

But where are the good stories? The stories of couples who have stayed together through the ups and downs of life? Where are the stories of people who know the true worth of what binds them together? They are the stories I want to read, the testimonies I want to hear.

Let’s have a book full of stories of people who have successfully chosen to ‘put their spouse first’ and who together have endured the storms of life, and come through much better for them.

Marriage Is Forever

I am a huge fan of marriage and believe that marriage is intended to be forever or as used to be popular, ‘until death do us part’. Marriage can be really hard work but if you invest in your marriage then it pays dividends a thousand times over.

Both spouses needs to learn how to forgive, be patient and support each other. Both must learn that it is no longer about I but about we. As a friend of mine puts it, “You take your car in for regular maintenance, why would you not treat the most important relationship you have in the same way… doing regular checkups on it?” Or as Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life.Church says, “Why would anyone be happy with a 50% chance of marriage success? For anything in your life wouldn’t you do something to try and give it a higher chance of success?”

As a man blessed with a great marriage and one who wants others to also enjoy the fruit of such blessing I cannot highly recommend enough the lecture series Christ-Centred Marriage by Dr Bryan Chapell. The lecture series is available from Covenant Theological Seminary website and you will need to sign-up to download it. (Obviously this is presenting the Christian biblical instructions for marriage).

It is a profound, challenging and inspiring listen. Carrying on with the car analogy, I call this a major service. It is time well-invested.

Skit: Mates Stick Together

About a month ago I blogged about a bit of fun that I’d had experimenting with skit (short-play) writing. I thought I’d share it and then provide some brief explanations as to the choices I made while writing it.

The skit was designed for church, as a bit of a promo of Men’s Ministry. The purpose of the men’s ministry is to support the men of the church, and to build a culture of doing life together. Life can be hard and it is important that we have some close mates or other men we trust who we can rely on. They can help or give a slap on the back of the head (Gibbs-style) as required.

I’m also passionate about healthy marriages. If the relationship between spouses is good, it is a blessing to the entire family unit. And marriage can be hard. Really hard. My early years of marriage would have been a lot easier if I’d had someone who could give experience-earned wisdom.

And so it is with these two foci that I wrote this skit.

skit1-1skit1-2skit1-3skit1-4

As you probably noticed I hit on several themes: mateship, marriage difficulties, work stresses, pornography/lust.

The way it plays out in my head also contains some humour: the prancing of the devil, the devil eating the husband’s snacks, the man in the towel with a frying pan. I was hoping that the humour lightens the subject matter and provides something that will be remembered.

There is also a good helping of truth in the skit:

  • How the man and woman are biblically supposed to act toward one another.
  • How a wise person’s response to challenge is to ask for help.
  • How we should be there for one another in times of need, even if it means abandoning all considerations of fashion sense or pride.
  • Even with others willing to help, they can’t help unless we agree to be helped.

And that, dear readers, is my first attempt at writing a skit.

Marriage, a Beautiful Thing

Normally I get most of my writing done on Saturday’s. This weekend however I was invited to a wedding, which involved a considerable drive and the absorption of most of the day. I’ll admit, getting dressed up in the ‘monkey clothes’ isn’t my favourite thing to do on a Saturday…

But I actually really enjoyed the wedding. At a wedding are two people who are full of hope for the future, full of love for one another and are celebrating what will be one of the best days of their life. There is something precious too, about a grown man tearing up as his bride walks down the aisle.

Marriage is really hard work, but if you invest into it, it can be an immense blessing for a lifetime.