Are you a slave owner?…

There was a time in America (and is still in effect in some countries around the world), where people who owed money were placed in forced servitude to work off their debt. These individuals who owed money, would be “rented out” to others to perform all kinds of work often cruel and dehumanizing work…even prostitution.

“The owners” of these “indentured” servants, would make lots of money by renting out these servants until they had paid their debts and could be released. The only problem is, that while they would be “paying off” their debts, their board and keep would accrue and they would remain in servitude for the rest of their lives.

This would continue until the servant either, died, ran away (at which time they would have a warrant sworn out for their arrest and they would either be recaptured or put to death) or, in some absolutely miraculous case, someone would step up and pay their debt and set them free.

The word “indenture” meant a contract binding one person to work for another for a given period of time. The word is synonymous with the words “pit” or “hole” or depression. In other words, to be an indentured servant was to be placed in a financial hole, where they would be trapped and not be able to get out of it until the person they owed let them out…or, as often happened until they died.
That kind of cruelty is illegal in our country and in many countries around the world. But I wonder if we understand how many of us are still slave owners?
I made a lot of mistakes in my past before I rededicated my life to Jesus. Even as a Christian I made a lot of really bad decisions and it reflected badly on Jesus and on myself. You see, it’s easy to forget after having been completely forgiven of our sins, how we also have to be willing to forgive others of their sins.

This is the scripture in The Lord’s Prayer that is one of the most powerful requests we can make to the Lord…“Give us this day, our daily bread…AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS (s we forgive OUR DEBTORS”

These debts could be the financial kind, and most likely, back in the days of Jesus, they were financial. But these days, most likely, the debts other people owe us are the offenses they have committed against us.

I remember going to a class reunion quite a few years ago. I hadn’t been to a class reunion since I graduated high school and it had been impractical because I had lived in South America and across the country, so it wasn’t really a possibility in the first 20 years. But the time came at the 25th class reunion that I was in a position to go to a reunion. I was; like all people I suppose, nervous because we all want to be well remembered and of course look “exactly like we did in High School” which might be possible for some people but certainly not for me. I was also nervous because I was not proud of my behavior in High School and I made it a point to make the rounds at the reunion and ask forgiveness of people when I got there.

Many of my old friends laughed and said, “there’s nothing to forgive…we only have good memories of you!” But there was one person…who, when I spoke with them, they seethed with anger. “You were such a jerk to me!!!” “I have hated you over these past 25 years!” I was shocked and asked forgiveness explaining I was such an insecure person in those days. I extended my hand to shake and even asked if there was anything I could do to make restitution, but the person said, “I will never forgive you…what has been done can never be made right.”

I recall that later that evening, I saw the person speaking with others, looking in my direction relating my past offenses to them. It didn’t matter that I had asked forgiveness, the person was going to seek to remind everyone of my past sin against them and to throw wood on the fire to stir up bad feelings against me. It sounds almost like a scene out of a movie, doesn’t it? With all of the good that came out of that night, the one thing that soured it for me was that this individual wanted me to be their prisoner for life…no reprieve, no parole…for me, it was life in prison. And at least up to this day, in that person’s mind, that is where I remain…life in her prison of hatred.

In very real terms, she is my slave owner. I will not comply with her contract of indentured servitude, but in her mind at least, I will rot in prison. Okay…so here is how you and I keep people in slavery.

Any time you or I seek to remind another person how much they have hurt us, or anytime we try to bring up a past sin committed against us, even as we mouth the words, “Oh, I have already forgiven you…”, even without knowing it, we are trying to place someone in a debtors prison. You may say to me, “Well, that is NOT my heart…I would NEVER try to keep someone chained to their past. I want to remind you of something a dear friend once reminded me,

“The heart is more deceitful than anything. It is incurable— who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 International Standard Version

None of us know our own hearts. Even our best of intentions can be draped in layers of hurt from past offenses and when this is the case, our verbalizing them to the person who hurt us is a lash to the back of our secret slaves. This is why Jesus told us when praying to Him for our daily needs that we need to ask forgiveness of our own sins in the same way we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

God isn’t saying that what they did to you wasn’t wrong… God isn’t telling you to bury the hurt and “get over it!” No…God wants to heal our hearts. He wants to expose the wounds we carry on the inside and let him disinfect them and roll them out so they can be healed.

“Why do you want more beatings? Why do you keep rebelling? Your head has a massive wound, and your whole heart is afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head, there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and festering sores not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.…”

Sometimes, when we feel the most healthy, we neglect the fact that we are holding something against another person. In our hearts we have slammed the prison door and they are not going to get out of prison! When we harbor bitterness or….even less dramatic than that…anytime a person comes across your mind and your first thought about them is the hurt they caused you, there is still a splinter under your soul and it will cause infection. The longer it stays there, long more it will grow.

You’ve heard the old saying, but it bears repeating, “Holding unforgiveness in your heart against another person, is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It doesn’t harm the other person…it harms you.

What DOES harm other people is when you see them casually and smile and say, “Hi, How are you? Oh it’s so good to see you! “Wasn’t that funny years ago when you embarrassed me in front of all our other friends?” “Oh…that was SO funny…well, ta ta, have to run!” then you might add, “Praise the Lord!” big smile…you walk away feeling better, they feel someone just peed on their shoes.

There is a direct relationship with letting go of offenses and being set free from your own prison of condemnation and oppression. When we forgive, God forgives…when we hold onto the sins of others, we are thrown into a prison of torment until we have released the other person. In Luke 7:36-50 is the parable of the Two Debtors.

“This familiar story is a contrast between traditional religion and a personal, intimate relationship with God through Jesus. It’s one that a Pharisee was confronted with but not able to comprehend. As with all parables, the meaning is hidden from those who do not have the Spirit to reveal the deeper message.

Obviously, Jesus paid the debt for all of our sins at the cross. But if there was a scale that could be used to measure the number or magnitude of sins that you committed during your life –how would you compare with other people? It’s crucial to understanding this parable.

“ Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”“Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” 1
Jesus doesn’t hold your past against you, my friend. If you have come in humility and confessed your sins and asked Him to forgive you, God casts your sin into the lake of forgetfulness and puts up a “no Fishing” sign. You are not allowed to go try to fish those memories out of that lake and HE will never remember them again.

“Let’s go back to the question posed at the start. Had Jesus not forgiven all of your sins already, where would you rank on the scale of needing forgiveness? You might think it’s not worth considering since He did indeed pay the entire debt. But the fact of the matter is that the rank that you assign for yourself determines the amount that you love Him. Paul measured himself and openly told the whole world what his score was.

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

When Paul said “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. . .” he was not trying to get us to agree that he was truly the worst. Rather, he wants each and every one of us to closely examine the depths of our need for a savior. Knowing your own thoughts and attitudes that flow through your mind all day long, are you really a basically good person? Or would you come to the same conclusion that Paul did in Romans chapter 7?

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)

Here is the passage from Revelation with a description of the church that is neither hot nor cold. It emphasizes the magnitude of how we should view our need –and adjust our “score” on that imaginary debt scale.

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:17-20)

Hopefully, between these two Scriptures, you are able to see yourself as Paul saw himself –” the worst of all sinners.” In doing so, your relationship with Jesus will grow in meaning and purpose for your life.

The Scriptures go on to explain the change that takes place through the new identity we receive by being “in Christ” –where we are rich, having no stain of sin, able to clearly see all that He has provided.

By the way –should you be interested in the symbolism in the Luke passage– the kiss is about seeking acceptance; tears are of saltwater implying an impending death; a woman’s hair is her glory, her best; and anointing is showing respect for someone who we consider great. The standard way of showing respect in those days would have been by pouring oil downward onto the most respectable part of a person –from our supposedly high position.

The woman recognized Jesus as being supremely important. By anointing His feet; she was looking up from her lowly position. She was seeking His acceptance –knowing that her very best was less than His least. From the perspective of the story of two debtors, the woman knew the enormity of her debt and so she loved Jesus greatly.

We should all recognize ourselves –our flesh– has not changed even after salvation. It will not improve. Although our actions might appear better as Christians, our inner thoughts and attitudes –that’s where our flesh is– remains unchanged and destined for death. And its war with our spirit wages on. The point of this is that we can grow in our love for Him –that personal relationship– by knowing the enormity of the debt He canceled for us.” 2

Don’t be a slave owner any longer…Jesus has turned “slave” into “salve” he places it on our wounded souls so we will no longer have a need to hold the sins of others over their heads. I for one…am eternally grateful for that!

2. Ibid

“When I was a child”…

Daily routines are what I’m all about…and that is different from when I was younger. When I was young, there WAS no plan for the day. I didn’t really have a planned time to wake up, or shower, or dress for the day. I had no real routines at all except that when my stomach said “feed me”, I ate, and when my body said “sleep”, I slept. “Instinctual living”; if that’s a term, ruled my life.
When you live like that, you inwardly know that you’re a slug. I’m not being mean here…but, anyone who has a brain cell knows that when you do what you want….WHEN you want to do it, they are being directed by their herd instincts and NOT by purpose-driven living. When you have a purpose, you plan, and you discipline yourself for that purpose. When you live in such a way so as to go where “the weather suits your clothes”, you need no purpose…only a suitcase.

I will go a bit further on this rant. When I slept until I wasn’t tired and ate whenever the urge moved me… it did not bother me (nor did it ever occur to me in all honesty) that it may have inconvenienced other people. I had no thought in my head that others had already had breakfast, cleaned the kitchen and were now well along in their days work. I would get up and eat, dirty some dishes and leave them for someone else to clean. Same with the bathroom, I would shower, leave the toothpaste out, throw my towels on the ground and move on out when I was good and ready. I was studying for a Ph.D. in hedonism when Jesus came along and changed my major.

Perhaps, you were not as much of a sluggard as I as a young 14 or 15-year-old. But I want to tell you that when you live that way for a long time, it takes a pretty strong jolt to get you to change your behavior. I don’t want you to misunderstand me …I didn’t have a mean or ugly heart. It wasn’t like I was saying, “Who cares that they cleaned the kitchen!…I’ll eat when I want to…and they can just deal with it!” No, I was a 14-year-old child. I still had the idea that the world revolved around me and my desires, much as a baby thinks the world revolves around them. In other words, I still thought like a child.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. “ “I Corinthians 13:11

I am eternally grateful that in some ways, my gymnastics coach had given to me a sense of purpose and direction concerning self-discipline and self-control. By the time 16 and 17 years of age rolled around, John Hinds had drilled into me, that TEAM was more important than self. He had instilled into all of his young charges, “You don’t stay out late, because you owe others on the team a good nights sleep to be your best in tomorrows gymnastics meet!” He wasn’t kidding. There were times at 8:30 at night, he would call my parents to make sure I was home and in bed, and not just me…all of the gymnasts on our team!. Hinds had a purpose and his purpose had to become MY purpose.

By the time I was a senior in High School, getting up at 5 am, waiting for my buddy Jeff Nasby to pick me up at 5:30 in order to be at the gym by 5:45…BEFORE SCHOOL, to meet our coach and do an early workout…was just a routine part of my day. After the workout, we would shower and then go to classes, only to return to the gym at 3:20 to perfect our routines until 7 pm. Life revolved around that purpose.

What has stayed with me over the 40+ years since those days as a student and gymnast, has been that; absent of a motivational purpose, without a meaningful reason for self-discipline, it is easy to lapse back into a life that does not recognize a higher calling. In other words, without living for a higher purpose, I will regress back into a life of self-centered living.

As far as my motivation today, I don’t have to struggle to get out of bed or clean up after myself…(Ok Mary Ann, maybe cleaning up after myself is still a bit of a struggle… but I’m getting better! lol). I have an appointment every morning. It is an appointment to meet the Creator of the Universe at coffee. He doesn’t necessarily care what I look like when we get together, but what He has to say makes the world go around. His motivation is nothing artificial. When He speaks, He conveys words and concepts that are of imminent importance to me and to the world. He challenges me to show Him to the world in any and every way I can.

Now, I am not personally an articulate or motivating speaker. I have always been a person who was a bit embarrassed to speak publicly about my faith to be perfectly honest. I guess I was more concerned what people thought about my phony baloney image, and figured Jesus didn’t fit that debonair look I was trying to convey. However, after having failed in life in many areas, the only thing I can now brag about is how Jesus rescued me. And God has given me particular gifts that I can use in order to show people His goodness and how much he loves them. I don’t have to wait for a manufactured evangelistic event to show and share the life-changing effects of the Gospel on my life. The everyday opportunities are where we can all use our talents to draw others into a relationship with Jesus.

In the fresh fruit section of the grocery store or at the gas pump. In our day to day activities at our jobs or in the course of our days doing the repetitive, monotonous duties of living. These are the pulpit, and in these activities is the potential power of reaching the world with a word of kindness, an act of love, a consolation to a broken heart. Offering a coupon to a person at Kroger can be the portal through which others can glimpse Jesus through the ever-thinning veil that separates heaven and earth.

God will not require of you or of me, anything that he has not equipped us for. He will not ask you, as you stand before His Throne, “why did you not end world hunger?” or “How did you not know the cure for Cancer?” God’s justice would be injustice should he require of you something for which you were not prepared. But I wonder how we will answer the questions that He HAS equipped us for? How will we answer concerning the talents he has given to each of us? Have we continued to discipline ourselves to use them or have we returned to idleness? Have you excelled still more by using your God-given talents to show god’s love and mercy or have you forgotten your former championship status and gone back to sleeping late in the day of harvest?

The Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:14-30

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.
So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.

But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’
But his master answered him, ‘YOU WICKED AND SLOTHFUL SERVANT! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming, I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The lack of development of any of God’s gifts on our lives is called both “wicked AND lazy.”
I exhort you, my friends, that the world is in greater need of your “talents” than ever before. You are playing for “the team”. God, has given you gifts unlike those of any other person. They were not intended for you to use on yourself and for your own pleasure only. They were meant to be used for the championship! They were entrusted to you to grow and to use as God has given you the ability and grace to use them. And the time is coming when God WILL require the fruits of those gifts from your hands…
It is time to wake from your sleep. It is time to put away childish things, habits, and anything that keeps you from running with endurance, the race that is set before you. There is still time to get back in shape so that your discipline may be seen by all.

“ For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12

Tell Them…

A couple of weeks ago I was out making sales calls… working with this company that removes odors out of people’s homes and cars. Not a glorious job, but something I do to rub shoulders with the public. Because of the cavalier way in which I go about business, I was looking for a place to park in my truck in order to make some marketing calls.

My truck is my office, my sometimes prayer closet, and my more than sometimes napping place. It is a big Master cab Ford F-150 and there are times when, I will find a shady place to park, turn on a great teaching online, turn up the A/C and stretch out to take a nap. On this day, I confess, I was thinking about doing just exactly that…but, Cody showed up.

I didn’t know Cody before I had hatched my plan for a little siesta, but as I reclined my seat into “meditation” position, there was a little “tap, tap, tap” on my driver side window.

I was used to having people panhandle while I was parked. It happens. When I turned to look to my left, instead of seeing someone standing shoulder to shoulder with me, I looked down at a smaller sized 9-year-old boy with a woman by his side. I rolled the window down. Before I could speak, Cody said loudly,

“Mister, I’m Cody and this is my mom. Would you please see if you could reach my plane in those bushes? My mom can’t reach up to that high and I would do it, but… I can’t do it…”

I smiled and looked down at Cody as he spoke. He had bright brown eyes, was smiling and confident and his mother looked at me and smiled in a shy, somewhat embarrassed way. Cody was seated in a wheelchair. His mother, Shawna, spoke up.

“I’m so sorry to disturb,” she said in a lovely Australian accent. “Cody’s usually a better pilot than this!” She laughed and I was impressed that neither seemed afraid to approach a stranger.

I sat up straight and muted my audiobook. “Of course I will,” I said, not looking to see where the “bushes” were that held the plane. I introduced myself and got out of my truck and locked the door. Cody explained he and his mom came to the park a lot to fly his plane…a small radio-controlled plane and helicopter set he had gotten for his birthday two months earlier.

His mother pointed at the tall bushes that were more like tall ornamental grass…but they were surrounded by low bushes and landscape boulders. I gladly struggled over the boulders, over the bushes and ventured into the grassy forest to get the plane that was stuck in the middle of one of the grass plants. I recalled the days of my youth as a gymnast when I would have bounded over those boulders….but that was 42 years ago…things have changed a bit at 61…no bounding!

As I emerged with the plane, Cody, forgetting that pulling the trigger on the controls would turn the propeller on the plane, he pushed the trigger and the plane sprang out of my hand and into the air. He laughed and his mother told him to be careful.

I climbed back over the big rocks and started on my way back to my truck and Shawna spoke up. “Cody was born with Spina Bifida…and he is our only child…my husband and me.” I had heard of Spina Bifida but wasn’t exactly sure what it meant as far as treatment and/or healing of the condition. She saw my mind was going through the mental process of trying to formulate questions when she generously offered, “ Do you know what that is?” I explained I had heard of it and she said, “Cody will be an independent person, but may always need his wheelchair…his treatment was started a little late.”

She explained that circumstances had prevented them from getting the kind of early treatment Cody had needed. I had understood it to be financial circumstances. It certainly was evident that her son was the apple of her eye. I asked about her family and about their spiritual lives. Listen, if someone is going to be bold enough to ask a stranger to climb over a bunch of rocks and bushes to get a toy airplane, I feel an equal amount of boldness is my due….so, there.

“Have you asked for prayer for Cody’s condition?” Shawna looked annoyed when I asked that.

“Thank you for your help.” She said trying to get rid of me. I persisted.

“Shawna, I asked if you have asked for prayer for Cody’s condition?” Her lips pursed together as her eyes narrowed. She became terse with her reply. “I appreciate your help…but that is a private matter!” I am an easygoing dude. I never push people, always try to be courteous and kind to people and you are going to think I was a real jerk, but this time I was not going to retreat because her fear was turned to anger. I responded.

“Okay, it’s between you and God…but I hope you aren’t angry at God for Cody’s condition…have a good day!” I began walking away. And this is when this little Australian lady became a bulldog.

“Oh…it’s not God’s fault, isn’t it? Oh…okay, now you opened your mouth so I don’t care now that you got his damn airplane out of the bushes…God did this to my son and if he didn’t he sure as hell didn’t do anything to stop it!” Her cheeks were flushed red and her eyes scowled at me. If you’re going to try to get to the root of someone’s issues, you’d better be ready for both barrels. In the back of my mind, I heard the words…”this is going to be your Waterloo!” She continued.

“I’ll bet you haven’t had any hardship in YOUR life, have you? I’ll bet your nice tidy life is just perfect like your God designed it…I guess God just needed a target and chose my little boy for it!” Tears were coming down her face…and I have to admit, it had been a while since I had encountered something like that. I just froze in my tracks and inadvertently looked for a fast path to my truck.

I hesitated between getting back into my truck and driving away or saying something that would make a difference. The only problem was; at that moment, there were no words and none on the horizon. My personality type doesn’t like silence…we like to fill empty embarrassing gaps with talk but absolutely nothing was coming to my mouth to say.

I could tell that my silence was somewhat satisfying for her. She asked if the “Cat got your tongue?” I stood still and was looking down at the ground. Here is what I figured. I figured that pulling into this park was not something I had planned, I also considered that it was a one in ten million chance that a boy in a wheelchair would come tapping on my window. After thinking these things, I knew I was supposed to be the one here at this moment but was inwardly ashamed that I had nothing to say. No big dramatic, “parting of the water” statement…I mean…NOTHING. So I stood still looking at the ground.

She crossed her arms and I think began to feel embarrassed she had been so cross with a stranger. She sighed out loud and said, “Look, I’m sorry, I am really not mad at you. You’ve been very kind…” that was all. I felt I should try to defuse the silence with a nice, “It’s okay…no problem…” but I didn’t. Again, I stood there like a cigar store Indian…wooden and silent.
As she began to walk away, finally my mind came online again and I finally spoke without qualifying the words…

“My son just discovered this week he has a tumor in his head and I still believe.” She stopped and looked at me. “What?” she asked, “What did you say?” I answered a bit louder, “I said, my son who is 34 years old just discovered he has a tumor at the base of his skull and I still believe God is in charge.” Shawna took a couple of steps back toward me…then asked, “why? Why do you still believe?”

I said, “He’s a cop with three boys, one of them the age of Cody…and a gorgeous wife. He’s my youngest son, and it is wrapped around his carotid artery and nerves that could leave him without a voice.” I then said, “I believe because I know the character of God…he has always been faithful to me.” Even if I don’t get the result I pray for, God is a God of faithfulness and life.”

She shook her head no, like nothing I said would even matter. I didn’t have anything else I could do but do the one thing that I figured would rile her up again, which; is what I signed up for when I told Jesus I would follow him. In my head, I heard the words of the song by Andre Crouch and the Disciples from way back in the 1970’s…named ”Tell Them” God always uses music with me…

“Tell them
even if they don’t believe you,
Just tell them;
even if they don’t receive you.
Oh, tell them for me
tell them for me please
please, tell them for me…
tell them that I love them
And I came to let them know.

Tell them
when it seems you are forsaken
just tell them
though it seems their world is shaken
Oh, tell them for me
tell them for me please
please, tell them for me
tell them that i love them
And i came to let them know.

Tell that lonely man who walks
the colds streets all alone,
Tell that crying child
who doesn’t have a home
Tell those hungry people dying
and lost in the desert
They don’t even know that I care

tell them for me please
Tell them that I love them

Oh, just tell them on the streets
and on the high ways

and tell them and even on the bi-ways
Tell them I can mend the broken hearted
and restore the ones who have parted
And I came to let them know.
I came to let them know
And I came to let them know

They must know
they must know
…must know.

So I told her… and this is when boldness is mandatory…

“Shawna, I am going to leave, and you can ponder why you’re so angry with God, but I would like to pray for you.” She just stood there. I knew better than to place my hand on a strange lady, so I just prayed out loud. “Father, I pray that Shawna would know that you are a good and loving father…not one that would walk out on us and leave us to fend for ourselves. Not a father that would only show us, love, when life was perfect. Help Shawna to know that You love Cody and that if she will only believe, and leave the results in your hands, she will see your goodness in this life. Please let her know you love her. In Jesus name, Amen.

I thanked her for letting me pray and walked back to my truck. I heard her calling Cody as I approached the truck. I started it up and drove to the end of the parking lot to make a U-turn and on my way back toward the exit, Cody and his electric wheelchair sat near where I had been parked waving. I stopped and rolled down my window. His mother was walking quickly up behind him as he spoke to me.

“Thanks so much!” he said smiling broadly. “Thanks for getting my plane!” I told him he was welcome and I said, “God bless you, Cody.” That is when the boy with spina bifida looked at me and said, “God bless you too”… his mother had arrived by that time and looked down at him as I began to drive away and she asked, “What did you say to him?” Cody said, “I said, God Bless you!” Shawna looked up at me with a tear in her eye, and I said, “Out of the mouths of babes, God has reserved praise for himself” Cody took her hand and said, “don’t cry momma, everything’s under control!” Tell her Cody…Tell her!

Mind Worms…

I don’t know about you…but when I get out of bed in the morning, the first things I hear with my ears can stay with me all day. My kids knew this about me and sometimes, they would play some annoying song when I got up and it would stick in my head all day long. There is nothing worse than having something like “Baby Shark” in your head when you’re trying to concentrate on something else…it’s what I call a mind worm. A mind worm travels into your ear canal and eats its way through your mind until it finally either dies or is substituted by something else.

While that may be a funny story, mind worms are a serious matter. Our thoughts in the morning play a major role in how we well we function. I consider very carefully when I get up in the morning what I listen to because it can set the course of my day. Some might say I am placing too much emphasis on our thoughts, but something one of my readers posted the other day reminded me of a book I read years ago about sheep and the meaning of the verse in Psalm 23 where it reads, “He anoints my head with oil.”
In the book “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm”

“For in the terminology of the sheepman, “summertime is fly
time.” By this, reference is made to the hordes of insects that
emerge with the advent of warm weather. Only those people who have kept livestock or studied wildlife habits are aware of the serious problems for animals presented by insects in the summer.

Sheep are especially troubled by the nose fly, or nasal fly,
as it is sometimes called. Here little flies buzz about the
sheep’s head, attempting to deposit their eggs on the damp,
mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose. If they are successful the eggs will hatch in a few days to form small, slender, worm-like larvae. They work their way up the nasal passages into the
sheep’s head; they burrow into the flesh and there set up an
intense irritation accompanied by severe inflammation.

For relief from this agonizing annoyance sheep will
deliberately beat their heads against trees, rocks, posts, or
brush. They will rub them in the soil and thrash around against
woody growth. In extreme cases of intense infestation, a sheep may even kill itself in a frenzied endeavor to gain respite from the aggravation. Often advanced stages of infection from these flies will lead to blindness.

Only the strictest attention to the behavior of the sheep by
the shepherd can forestall the difficulties of “fly time.” At the
very first sign of flies among the flock, he will apply an antidote
to their heads. I always preferred to use a homemade remedy
composed of linseed oil, sulfur, and tar which was smeared over the sheep’s nose and head as a protection against nose flies.

What an incredible transformation this would make among the sheep. Once the oil had been applied to the sheep’s head there
was an immediate change in behavior. Gone was the aggravation; gone the frenzy; gone the irritability and the restlessness. Instead, the sheep would start to feed quietly again, then soon lie down in peaceful contentment”. 1

The analogy here is obvious. The reason many people go through their lives with such disturbing mental issues that seemingly cannot be defeated is because of seeds that the enemy of their souls planted years and years ago, many times in their youth. As children, we are susceptible to all kinds of destructive eggs that the enemy has laid just waiting for their opportunity to hatch and cause us to dash our heads against the ground in agony trying to silence the irritation and noise of mental strongholds.

Many of those seeds are the comments made by parents, teachers, relatives or important authority figures we respect. When a person in authority speaks destructive words into the heart of a child, the damage may not seem immediate, but just like eggs, they will incubate until the personality becomes entirely directed by the wrong thoughts that hatch due to insensitive comments, accusations and even just hate-filled words. If you constantly or even intermittently have trouble with repeating thoughts of accusation, depression or any negativity whatsoever, this blog is for you…

I have told the story in my blog “How I Became Stupid” how the words of a vindictive teacher caused me to believe that I was stupid, and I did my very best to fulfill her hateful prophecy over my life. For years I struggled with rebellion and hate for learning because the eggs laid in my little soul by a teacher who was angry with me hatched into fully grown beliefs that caused me to hate myself and begin down a self-destructive behavioral pattern. Mind worms destroy reality and cause us to believe lies.

I once counseled a man who was fully convinced that he was born to be killed in a tragedy. He didn’t know what it would be, but he had already been involved in two near-death automobile accidents, a fall from a second-story window and a near-fatal electric shock. He used these examples as proof that God created him to die a tragic death.

When I did some investigating, he related to me of growing up with a maniacal father who tortured him by burning him with cigarettes because he would wet his pants as a little boy. His father had told him, “You will never live a long life…God wouldn’t let someone as stupid as you to live!” His father also had told him, “All the men in our family have died before they lived a full life…it’s your fate…just like it will be mine!” His father was killed at 43, being crushed by a crane on a work-related accident. It wasn’t until that belief system in his mind was rejected and he accepted the scripture Psalm 91 that he was able to be free from the destructive mind worm and its poisonous eggs.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly plague. He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings, you will find refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the pestilence that destroys at noon. Though a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, no harm will come near you.

You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD your dwelling—my refuge, the Most High— no evil will befall you, no plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and cobra; you will trample the young lion and serpent.

“Because he loves Me, I will deliver him; because he knows My name, I will protect him. When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver and honor him. With (a) long life, I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

It is for this reason that the crown of thorns pushed into the head of Jesus on the cross was an important part of your salvation. The blood that covered Christ’s head was the payment for a sound mind…a payment that must be appropriated every day when we rise from bed and every night when we lay our heads upon our pillows. Scripture is very clear about how our thoughts AND WORDS can determine both our destiny and our outlook on life.

While our minds were purchased by his blood, the renewing power of washing it daily with God’s Word is WHAT KEEPS IT CLEAN from destructive mind worms. Counteracting accusations and lies that are thrown at us by the enemy of our souls is something we cannot just pray and ask God to remove from us. God tells us the RENEWING OUR MINDS IS A JOB HE HAS GIVEN TO US!!!

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, BUT BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND. THEN YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TEST AND APPROVE WHAT IS THE GOOD, PLEASING AND PERFECT WILL OF GOD.” Romans 12:1-2

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE to obey Christ”. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

“In I John 1:7, the apostle writes that we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. But the cleansing found here in Ephesians 5:26 is of a different kind. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Almost all things are purged by blood.” Almost all but not everything is. There are some things that must be purged in another way.

Ephesians 5:26 tells us that we are cleansed “with the washing of water by the word.” There are things that will be cleansed—things in our minds, things that deal with conduct, things that have to do with character and attitude—that are cleansed by water. The word “water” here is symbolic, referring to the Word of God, as well as to the Holy Spirit.

Christ gave a long discourse in John 6, which we often apply at Passover time, about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Towards the end, He says to his audience, “The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

We have in the Bible the Word of God—and Jesus says it contains power. It has the power to cleanse a person’s mind because we can think only by what goes into the mind, concepts that are contained in words. Words are merely symbols of ideas that we use to reason. We turn those ideas into action, into conduct, which becomes part of our character and our attitude.
In other places in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is compared to water and to oil. Both of these have revitalizing, nourishing, cleansing, purifying, and sanitizing properties to them.

We are familiar with how we use water to cleanse things; water is the universal solvent. We do not use oil so much to cleanse things, but, on the other hand, the Samaritan in the parable treated the man’s wounds with oil (Luke 10:34). It had a purifying effect on him.” 2

Today, begin by filling your mind with God’s word…with God’s thoughts, and discover a new and living way of being free and breaking destructive thoughts that seek to derail God’s perfect peace over your life.


“Manners” is a lost word…”

I walked into Home Depot today. There was a family in the store…they were all over the store. One kid was running down that aisle, another running down another. One child had a toilet plunger and was chasing his sister with it. Their parents, who, in all Christian love were complete idiots, just laughed and thought their children were cute…even when they ran into an elderly gentleman and knocked him down. The father approached the man on the floor chuckling…” heh heh heh…kid’s’ll be kids!” I would have applauded if the elderly man had said to the idiot father, “Lawsuits will be lawsuits!”

One of the children, the same one who ran down the old man came running right at me, and I shouted, “Stop!” The child looked at me with wide eyes. I said, “This is NOT a place where you run! I pointed at people walking by and said, “This is NOT a playground, stop running right now!” His parents stood off a short distance from me and when their child walked over sulking to them, the father said, “I’ll get you a milkshake on the way home to make you feel better!” My backside would have been as rare as roast beef if I had to be corrected by another adult. This parent just felt bad for the kid. I looked long and hard at the parents as they disappeared down an aisle. There was no more running. I’m the reason they say old people are cranky…

I began to think of the differences of growing up in the sixties and seventies and the current generation growing up in this new millennium plus 19. For one thing, (I’m going to sound like my parents here, so, watch out…”) If I had even left my parents side when I was in public…ESPECIALLY in a store where people were shopping, I would have been ordered to wait in the car and then sent to my room when I got home. My folks didn’t have any time for me inconveniencing other people. My mother used to tell me to “Go and open that door for that woman!”

My dad used to tell me, “stand up when your mother and sister come to the table…don’t you EVER stay seated when a woman comes into a room!” Usually, his Latin backhand would wave perilously close to my head when he was making his “suggestions” about public manners. I stand for women if I am seated in a room to this day. Women are the more civilized of our species…the ones who make society bearable…lovely.

That is just it, our parents taught us “manners”. “Yes Sir” “No Ma’am” “Please would you pass the butter?” “Thank you for your kind gift”. (then we wrote thank you cards to mail to anyone who gave us a gift.) My parents would impress upon us that our “elbows were never to rest on the dinner table, and that napkins sat in your lap. “If you wipe your mouth with your hand, get up, go to the bathroom, wash your hands and come back to the table!”

Now, when it came to how we treated our siblings…well, all bets were off! If I had placed my napkin on my lap when it was just my brothers Greg and Geoff in the room they would have hit me in the mouth. In public, we were gentlemen, in private, we were practically Neanderthals. But the die was cast…and it stuck like glue in our psyches that MANNERS WERE FOR OTHERS…

Manners were in a sense, a display of social generosity we bestowed on others so society would flow graciously. Manners were the lubrication that made the society to operate without friction. We preferred others, we closed our mouths when we chewed, girls crossed their ankles when they sat, young boys had combed hair and tried to keep clean until afternoon recess.

Manners weren’t for window dressing either. Sure, they were representative of who you were as a family, but they had a WEIGHT to them…they gave you a particular stature in your community. You could tell that the Harper family stressed homework and honesty by the way their boys acted in public. You would see that the Anderson family stressed courtesy when Billy would say, “yes ma’am Mrs. Green”, when answering a question and, not just one question, but EVERY question. “No ma’am Mrs. Fisher, I wasn’t talking Ma’am. “Thank you so very much, Father Minta, I’ll be sure to tell my father, sir!”

I would be impressed. In fact, I wasn’t only impressed, I imitated them. I liked how they behaved! They had that thing called…what’s the word? Class! Their example made me want to be better too. It’s why; as I grew older, I had the fear of God when it came to talking back to a teacher. Back in those days, parents backed up teachers. You knew when you got home something far worse awaited you than what you got at school.

I’ll write another blog about the extremes of the 1960’s disciplinarian approach to raising children, but I have to say, the negatives I can count on one hand, the positives I own forever in my character.

Manners are a social contract we write with one another, and their dearth is the breaking of those very bonds that once held us together with gossamer threads…almost invisible yet meaningful and powerful in the way they demonstrated respect for one another.

Manners are the best way to honor a stranger…opening the door, preferring another person over yourself. Manners and courtesy gave their owners a standing or, to use the word again, stature, that others recognized as the prerequisite to greatness because they demonstrated who a person WAS, not just what he did to impress others.

Manners were never meant to become perfunctory displays of “how good we were”. On the contrary, manners were the method by which we bowed our heads in deferment to another person and said without words, “You are more important than I”.
When a man opened a door for a woman properly, it was a demonstration of his respect for her. When a boy carried a girl’s books for her, it was a demonstration of his desire to honor her.

When we dressed well before we went into public places, it was our announcement that others were important enough for us to look our best. Even though the wine ordered at dinner was corked and a sample poured into the man’s glass, it was the custom; after his approval, that the woman got the first pouring…the wife of the guest at the table was served first, then the wife of the host and then others at the table.

Oh how I long for gentility and kindness again. It is not lost my friends. It is waiting for us to awaken it from its sleep. It is time to strengthen the muscles that have atrophied from lack of use. There is going to be a renaissance of courtesy and manners like we have never seen before. There is coming a time again when we will look others in the eye when they speak to us, when we will have respect for other people’s property and when throwing trash on the ground will be considered not only ill-mannered but legally enforced again. There will come a time when profanity in public will be fined and only those considered fools will do it.

There is going to return the practice of mentoring younger generations and will be something they would be willing to pay for because of the elevated spirit that manners and righteous courtesy bring to the atmosphere. There will be a hunger for adulthood again. I don’t recommend you discipline all the wild children in public. But I do think that as we grow in stature, that authority naturally issues from our lives. These will be our city mothers and fathers.

I do encourage you to raise the level of your game to excellence. Make it your goal that when you leave a room those who remain, will feel honored that you have been there.

I Decide…

I decide to return to where I first began.

Where simplicity of worship was heart felt and personal.

To the place where all I knew, all I did and all I wanted

was centered on who He is.

I decide to return alone, because that is how I started.

I return to long walks talking to my friend who would hear me and heal me in the same moment.

I return to The place where no group dynamic was more important Than the quiet interaction where only my friend and I spoke freely and understood completely.

I decide to return here, daily. It is a decision I make every single morning and one I make when I lay down at night; and he meets me here.

He still loves the way I walk, and talk and laugh, even though I am clumsy and awkward.

He finds me fascinating in ways that no one else ever has.

He likes me, and I cannot take my eyes off of him. He believes I will make a fine man someday, because he once told me so.

I have missed this Place. I somehow forgot how to get here. He thinks my songs are brilliant…even though poorly sung.

He says my writing is magical…and gives me ideas for future writing. No one else gets to see what I show him, or hear what I tell him and he has promised to tell no one.

He likes my voice. This morning, I heard him… quietly calling me to comeback to the place…come back to the place where we are friends. He says nothing will hurt me.

I will continue to come back here,and I don’t want anyone but him to be here.

I cry and he watches,and hears, and holds and encourages.

He does not think I am stupid,Or broken, or fat, or lazy or crazy.

He actually likes me. (big smiles) Most times even the people I work with don’t even like me. But he does.

Even with all of my mistakes and ugliness and hidden shame… He thinks I am quite a masterpiece. I just can’t believe it. I am safe with him I have not been safe since I lost my way here, but I am safe here now.

I am telling you,the day is coming when I won’t leave here ever again. When I won’t go back and forth.

He told me, “Let’s do that today.” So, that’s what I’m doing…I’ve decided to return where I began and I am seeing it again…for the first time. This time, I’m staying. He said to tell you, He’s waiting for you too, and wants for you to find your way back…he said He misses your voice and loves your face.

“If You really love me…Wash the Dishes!”

I hear a lot of things while I’m out and about in the public square. I hear good things, like the sister saying to her brother at a pizza restaurant, “you play soccer better than anyone I’ve ever seen!” To which her brother gave her a hug…they were about 8 years old. I hear bad things too.

Walking past a window at an apartment complex and hearing a woman and man yelling at each other because he said she was spending too much time with her supervisor…she said, “at least he pays attention to me!” continued yelling, hurtful things said and then a door slamming.

I heard a man praying once. I was sitting in a Baskin Robbins, eating two dips of “Death by Chocolate” when I heard the guy at the next table. I thought he was talking on his phone, but …no phone in his hand! I try not to eavesdrop, but…you know, come on; I wanted to know what he was saying and to whom! When I finally DID hear what he was saying, I discovered he was praying for his mother…asking the Lord to give her a chance to know Jesus. I felt as if I had invaded the holiest time of all, and I repented for it. Curiosity; in my case, most certainly could get me in trouble if I am not careful!

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things I have heard hit me like a ton of bricks and I’ll explain why.

But first, you need to understand how the Lord made me…because without that, you will think I think I’m a “really nosy dude”! I used to not pay attention as I do now because I was ignoring how the Lord had made me. He actually gave me the ability to be aware of my surroundings in a “Hypersensitive” way. It is nothing I trained for or that I have learned…it was given to me…by a God who needs ears on the ground. All glory to God!

I’m convinced the Lord made me to be an ENFP, which is the Myers-Briggs definition for the type of personality I have. I see it is pretty much right on the mark.

“How ENFPs Think”

“Throughout their lives, ENFPs are always on the lookout for deeper hidden meaning. This personality type is absolutely certain that what we observe and experience only scratches the surface of reality. ENFPs don’t believe in coincidence because they know that we are all interconnected, and they know that everything we do has an impact on the world around us. It isn’t enough for ENFPs to just observe and collect data; they need to put it into the proper context, and they believe speculative, abstract thinking helps them to do so.
ENFPs make a great effort to keep their eyes open and their minds alert, and their strong observational abilities frequently combine with their active minds to bring on those “a-ha!” moments exactly when they are needed. ENFPs experience these leaps of understanding as creative bursts, and they are very enthusiastic about translating those bursts into real-life activity.”

I include this so you will understand that it is written onto my soul, to always be observing and listening to things going on around me. If it looks like I’m nosy…well, maybe I am…but I’m not trying to be rude, I’m trying to understand the STORY because the story is EVERYTHING! God is speaking in EVERY SINGLE THING around us.
So, back to the thing, I heard the other day. I was at Sonic, the highly health unconscious drive in of gastronomic delights…sipping on a 44oz Hwy 44 Frozen Limeade. I was listening to a message on my phone through my Bluetooth speakers in my truck. As I sat there listening to the message, the couple in the car right next to me were having a discussion. I put the phone message on “hold”.

The woman was saying something to her husband about their relationship. They could not see my window was down because of the gigantic menus the size of a drive-in movie screen that separate our cars, so they didn’t lower their voices. She began,

“You keep asking me if I’m happy in our marriage…and for the most part…if you want me to answer honestly, Yes, I am.” Her husband, probed deeper asking “for the most part?” (which; in my opinion, was sort of like leaning into a right hook…brave man or an idiot.) She sat quietly, then spoke up. “You always SAY, “I love you so much!” You’re a really great dad…and when you say those things, I believe you…but…” her voice trailed off, maybe wondering if she should really say what she felt and risk hurting the man she loved.

“But ?” the husband asked, ( I realized he knew he needed to draw her out…give her the permission to say what he needed to hear.) She cleared her throat. I could tell she was trying so hard not to say what she wanted to say in a hurtful way.

“Well, if you love me so much”…she paused, “Could you maybe just wash the dishes every once in a while?” She had said it, but it was kind of like taking her finger out of the dike…because what was in her heart came pouring out…

“Would YOU, every once in a while…” I heard her try to choke back a sob, “just do some laundry like you did when we were first married?” There was no stopping it now…
“Would it be possible, just every once in a while…not always but maybe once a month, just take the kids so I could have just an hour or two by myself?” she cried now.

Revealing the heart does that…it brings cleansing and she was doing a very good job trying to respect her husband but speak her mind at the same time. I was proud of her. I got teary-eyed too which; is no surprise, since I tear up at the home reveals on HGTV.

Her husband WISELY let her cry and didn’t SAY A WORD!!! (Good job buddy!) I was cheering for him…it’s hard to hear truth, hard to hear where you’ve fallen short. This guy was no chicken and was wise enough to let her finish without interruption! We need more men like him I think.

“I want to know,” his wife continued, “that your words MEAN something, and…I know they do, I mean, I KNOW you love me but…” her head was down in her hands and she was outright boohooing. She looked up and said, “If you love me so much, could you just wash the dishes?” Her voice was pleading.

This may seem like a real invasion of privacy to you. I was the proverbial “fly on the wall” and not necessarily in a room, I wanted to be in. Now, I’ve been discipled my friends, and I know when I should not remain in a room when two people have an issue to work out. But in this case, I had to hear what the resolution would be…I can’t tell you why…it’s like I was supposed to be here.

She fished into her purse for a tissue, and was becoming frustrated, when her husband, “Ah…the knight in shining armor!” handed her a handkerchief…a HANDKERCHIEF!!! And it was clean too! She looked at him and smiled and wiped her eyes and nose. That’s when I peeked a little lower (that dadgum menu was in my way!) and saw tears in his eyes. He reached over to his wife and held her hand. He didn’t speak, although she looked at him as he looked down at their hands and fingers intertwined.

“I’m so clueless!” he said to her raising his eyes. He continued. “Yes, of course…of COURSE I will do all of that and more!” He pulled her into his arms and said, “Sweetheart, can you ever forgive me?” “I’ve been too busy…just too busy!” They hugged and she sighed a sigh of relief. She had been heard, and in humility, he had seen his error.

Listen to me any person younger than 95 reading this…

You need to understand your significant other’s Love Language!

To this woman, her love language was “Acts of Service”. She didn’t need to HEAR he loved her, she needed to SEE he loved her by doing things for her.

A summary of the Five Love Languages from “” gives a pretty good summary. I encourage you to purchase the book by Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages.”

The following is a brief explanation of each of the five love languages:

1. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION. Some people are more attuned than others to hear both positive and negative words from those whose opinions they cherish. While negative, critical words can tear them down, positive, encouraging words make them flourish. People who need verbal affirmation also tend to be freer with their own encouraging words. They assume that, because they so need verbal praise, the loved ones in their lives also need it.

2. ACTS OF SERVICE. “Why can’t you help me around here?” Lanna complained. “I’m starting to wonder if you really love me.” Lanna’s frustration with her husband’s lack of household help may be due to her love language. When acts of service is a person’s primary language, he or she interprets the help as a sign of someone’s love. When Tom pitches in with chores that may normally fall to Lanna, his efforts are interpreted by her as love, even though no actual words of love are spoken.

3. GIFTS. We all know someone, often a woman, who brings gifts everywhere she goes. She is always “picking up a little something” for the people in her life. She thrives on gift-giving, and, when she is given a gift, it fills her love tank. Sometimes people misunderstand her need to express love through gift-giving and interpret her constant offerings as bribes or the expectation of something in return. When gifts is a person’s primary love language, he or she places a great deal of weight on the quality of the gift and the effort that went into obtaining it.

4. QUALITY TIME. “I feel most loved by you when we’ve spent a long time talking about important things,” Dale told his wife. His need for soul connection is closely related to his way of receiving love. Quality time is usually linked to meaningful conversation for the people with this primary love language. Hours of deep conversation create an emotional connection for them. “If this person cares enough about me to spend all this time with me, then they really love me,” goes the reasoning.

5. PHYSICAL TOUCH. Physical touch is crucial for the health and well-being of every human being. Babies who do not receive enough loving touch in infancy do not thrive and can have lifelong difficulties. But for some people, the need for physical touch is greater than it is for others.

To end my story with a happy ending, the husband said he was going to put on his calendar every week to take the children and let his wife make plans. She told him, “Oh, I don’t need THAT much time alone…I want to spend it with YOU!” A big smile broke out on her face… “Maybe just a few hours a month to myself!” He promised and I saw him take out his phone, in front of her and put in a reminder.

She began to laugh, and at that moment, she gave him HIS love language…”I just knew you would hear me out…YOU ARE THE MOST WONDERFUL MAN…GOD HAS BLESSED ME SO MUCH WITH YOU!” (Words of Affirmation), now he wept as she held his head in her hands. “I always want to take care of you sweetheart,” he said, sobbing in her arms. His actions healed her heart, her words healed his soul and I have no doubt that other activities took their course later that day that I would have no business being privy to.

Talk to your spouse… Listen to each other. Learn their love language! You know, I ruined one marriage by not doing it…I will never make that mistake again. How about you?