1.24.2011

Infertility: A Shared-Suffering


My wife just miscarriage, now what?

Your spouse and you just suffered the news that you just lost your child in a miscarriage. It doesn’t matter what time frame. Days ago, hours,…a couple of weeks. The timeline still seems very insignificant because it just happened to your wife and you. You have hundreds of questions: Do I tell people? What is the proper response? Is this between my wife and I only?

Miscarriages are a  terribly difficult seasons for a marriage. The feelings of joy and anticipation of new life now feel robbed. The feelings of inadequacy, the grief of death, the uncertainty of fertility, the unknown of social engagement.  The awkward moment at church on Mother’s Day, when your wife can barely hold back the tears. (Been there done that) Here’s some simple direct counseling for husbands in that first 1-3 month window after the tragedy.

FOR THE HUSBAND ONLY:
Priority #1: Assure your wife, that her value to you is not based in her functionality. She is valuable to you because YOU LOVE HER. Build security in your wife, by letting her grieve with you.  In other words, if she needs to walk out of a situation, be there with her. If burst into tears while reading facebook news, be there. She feels the weight of failure and inadequacy, BUILD HER UP.

Priority #2: Don’t be the theologian, until she is ready. No one needs to know your thoughts on the whereabouts of the child in glory. No one needs a dissertation on the Problem of Evil, and Why God allows suffering? This is not the season. Wait.  Although, speak correctly of the life she carried. Speak about YOUR (plural) CHILD.

Priority #3: Pleasantly recognize that you might be one day counseling someone else in this as you have suffered through it. We, (Jessica and I ) often have close friends who have been down this road, and it ‘s a bond like none other to discuss this intimate occasion with them.

Priority #4: As time grows, be patient with her. She will desire to get pregnant again. Cheer her on, unless told otherwise by a doctor. Every pregnancy test and ovulation test, cheer her on! She already has the voices of hurt, HUSBAND your job is to drown them out with confidence. Your negativity at any level will destroy her. Talk about, ‘when we am playing with our little boy…’, although painful at first…this helps your wife know that you are envisioning children with her. Either by natural or by adoption…children are a blessing from God, speak that way.

Bottomline: Books should be written in regards to how a man can help his wife through this. Nothing is more valuable than restating time and time again, your relationships security not based on performance. An unconditional election, clearly portrayed by Christ to the church. This builds great foundations for future growth in your marriage.

1.22.2011

My Top 3 Chapters in Scripture.

Top Three's of the Bible.
If you were to ask me what 3 chapters of the Bible have been the most
impacting in my spiritual walk. I would tell you John 3, Romans 3, and
Colossians 3. This Sunday I am actually starting a small series before I
launch back into a continuation of the verse by verse study of II
Corinthians. Each week, I will do my best to show why I love these fine
chapters. 
But because many of you will not be able to attend, here is a good summary
of what I am thinking and where I will be heading on this.

John 3
Most people have a bizarre understanding of salvation. They can't figure it
out. What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to be reborn? What
does it mean that the Spirit goes back and forth? This passage helped me to
understand Jesus' compassion. His sit down 'waffle house' style conversation
with a scholar. His rich wisdom and mystery, which surrounds the simplicity
of the Gospel found in John 3:16. A child can memorize it, but its aroma is
better than any pipe tobacco. So sweet to know Christ holds our eternity.


Romans 3
How sinful am I? I amuse myself sometimes thinking that I have 'gotten'
better, but it only takes a wipe of the word of God in the foggy bathroom
mirror to reveal how sinful I really am. I don't seek him. I run from him. I
don't understand Him. I am ugly down deep. I deserve full justice to be
served. I have spit in the face of God, and his revealed beauty. AND YET, he
took my place.received in him the full punishment of my 'smiling-hate'. He
then pardoned me of my sins. I stand righteous before God. Nothing but the
blood of Jesus. A sinner made right.


Colossians 3
So, you are a believer and have no idea what to do next. Well, the rest of
your entire life you can live Colossians 3. I have done my best to screw
this up several times, but this is the TRUE NORTH in my lostness in
Christianity. I forget my calling.Colossians 3. I forget my love.Colossians
3. I purposefully desire sin.Colossians 3. I actually get it right for a
season.Colossians 3. In the words of the great Puritan, John Owen, . "If you
aren't killing sin, sin will be killing you." Face it. We suck at being
Christians. We keep the law as good as a crooked Sheriff. We know how to be
right, even enforce it,.but we also know how to sneak around. Thus,
Colossians 3 is written to Christians.

Bottomline: These are my top 3.  I am no stellar Christian. I press toward
THE goal, like it's a trip to go see bad relatives. Yet these TOP 3, have
forever been my bearings of humility and holiness. God grant us all peace in
as we wash ourselves in the Word.


To Josh Stewart and Charles Halton, I regret that I did not include an OT passage here. Yet, I do believe I could do a 3 best of many different Biblical genres. Forgive your NT inclined friend.

1.21.2011

My Kids Don't Like to go to Church! Help!

Q: "My Kids don’t like to go to church. Can you help?"
Single Mom, Winder GA

If you are a parent, and you attend church on Sundays regularly, then this little counseling session will do you good. If it hasn’t already happened, the day will come when that precious child of yours will decided to look you in the eyes on a rushed Sunday morning and tell you that they ‘Don’t like church!’ , or ‘Think its boring.’ Etc.
What do you do?

Well, if you sat down in my office chair and asked the question, this is what I would say:
First, realize that its Sunday morning, a day where every Christian household in America is going through the same dilemma.  We are all fighting sin. The problem is that God has commanded us to worship Him, and children have a unique way of stating the obvious voices of our hearts. We would say the same thing as a justification to crawl back into the bed. We would argue with authority, but because we have a touch more sanctification in our lives we SHOULD know that this struggle is a weekly task. So, children are sinful creatures, they just say what we think.

Second, realize that you are the parent charged by God to teach the child the structure of worship. “You shall teach them [the law] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut. 6:7. You are the authority to your children, as God is an authority to you. There are times where we all desire to reject this role as parents and lay blame on our children for our laziness to lead our children. A question I might ask: Do your children see you as this role? Or do you enjoy a more passive approach to your teaching them? Scriptures have placed the responsibility on you, not the child to teach themselves Scripture.

Third, realize your children may reflect your own behaviors about church. If you do not enjoy church, do you really think your children will? What is the conversation about church like on the way home on Sunday? Do you constantly give disparaging comments about music/sermon/temperature of the room/announcements/ or do you slander your fellow church members? Children have a great way of seeing and reading affections. They typically like what you like and hate what you hate.

Finally, church is to be enjoyed, but should leave us tired. Let me explain. Our culture of church now seems to constantly be focused on what ‘I got’ from the service. “I liked the music.”, “I got a lot out of the sermon.”; “Communion was nice.” [yes, I have heard ‘nice.’] When we attend church, we should be ready to worship. We should be desiring to ‘workout’ a little. We sing. We pray. We listen intently. We meditate. We confess. We share lives. At the end, we should be tired. Go to gym, run a couple of miles…it is tiring but also very rewarding. Thus the church should not be placed on the same par as, the Mall, the Movies, a trip to McDonalds, or Chucky Cheese. Children and Teenagers, need to be told and shown by parents that the joy of church looks and feels very different than the ‘lesser joys’ of this world.

THE BOTTOMLINE: Share with your child the difference of church and worldly pleasures. How is church like a good workout? Resolve in yourself to be the authority of your home, and teach your children.  Fight the urge to stay up late on Saturday. Plan ahead Sunday mornings, lay out clothes. Set out towels. Set your alarm. Prevent chaotic Sunday AM. This will put you at peace, and you might enjoy church more yourself. 

1.17.2011

Immediate Counseling.

Today marked a unique day in my life. I have officially been an Active Duty Army Chaplain for 36 months. Of those 36 months, I also rolled over 20 months deployed. The military Chaplaincy offers a very different approach to ministry. Not only do you shepherd a very small flock most of the time, but you are also a counselor to staff and soldiers within your unit. Counseling sometimes is a formal 'appointment', while more often it tends to be a sitting down in a 'smoke shack' or close seat at chow time, or even a late night knock on the door of my CHU.

Therefore to say that I am a formally trained counselor is not really an accurate statement. I like to tell people to think of me as a 'first aid' center on the way to the surgeon, in the realm of counselors. But not to make my job too insignifigant, I have seen many unscheduled "Band Aids" do a great deal of healing. With this in mind, I am wanting to take some of the more common counseling appointments that I have and address them in the same manner I do, in my office.

The door to my office is open, you poke your head in...I am sitting there reading a book or Bible...coffee is brewing...you grab a seat, ...I barely move, but smile warmly over the top of the book while sipping the coffee in my World' Best Chaplain cup,..."So, what brings you to my office today?"

Email me a question. Let's get started.