faith, Family

A Marriage Prayer

A while ago I wrote the following notes in my journal. I am compelled to share it with you in hopes that it will encourage you as it does me. Marriage is hard work and we desperately need the Lord’s help to love well.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for loving me with an everlasting love. Thank you for displaying that love to me long before I did anything in response to it. Teach me to love like this. Teach me to love like Jesus. My wife is a gift from you and I will love her as the best gift I have ever received. Give me creativity in the ways I can pursue her romantically. Give me strength to hold her up when she is tired. Give me eyes to see when she needs my attention. Give me ears to hear her heart. Give me the words to speak life into her. Help me to choose love even when things get hard. In Jesus name Amen.

What follows is my personal, raw commentary on the work of loving like Jesus in marriage. Where I use Angie in the text, please insert your spouse’s name and see if it makes the notes more personal to you.

Loving Angie will at times be inconvenient to my flesh. Love her anyways. Loving Angie will at times not make sense because she hurt me. Love her anyways. Loving Angie will at times be a challenge because she does not respond to it the way I expect. Love her anyways. When my marriage feels broken, love her anyways.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:25-33

Only God can give me the strength to love Angie unconditionally. My motivation to love must come from an intimate relationship with God. My love for Angie is motivated by His love for me.

When I find myself struggling to love and care for Angie, it should raise a red flag in my mind to take a sober self-assessment. I bet that my struggle is more about me than her. I have taken my eye off Jesus and his incredible love for me. Jesus’s kind of love has given me literally everything while still being a wretched sinner in desperate need of a savior.

When I put into perspective how Jesus loves me, how he willingly sacrificed himself by violent death on a Roman cross while I literally spit in his face with my selfishness, pride, and sinful rebellion, and how he continues to bless me though I can do nothing to deserve his favor, I find that when I actually receive that love from Jesus I am compelled to love in return. Not because I feel duty or obligation, but because my soul is filled to overflowing. Out of the abundance of love I have received I give to others. I can patiently and graciously endure rejection, stubbornness, harsh words, etc. and truly give without expecting anything in return. All that to say, and I don’t mean to simplify the key to loving relationship, but the truth is that when we can see Jesus, ourselves, and our life circumstances like this, we can love others well.

The bottom line is that when I’m not feeling like loving well, or I feel like I’m not being loved by others so I can’t love in return, I really need to take a breath, search my heart, and refocus from me to Jesus. Simple, but really hard sometimes. This is a mental and spiritual exercise that is strengthened with practice and perfected only after death. We are all a work in progress, but if we can wrap our minds around these ideas, we will gain traction in our relationships.

Another way to say it is that when I think another is unlovable because of their behavior, I should be very careful that I’m not judging them more harshly than I want God to judge me. In comparison to God’s holy perfection, I am a terrible wretch. If I do not see myself this way, I am deceived and my self-righteousness is sin proving my need for a savior. Jesus is our example we are called to follow. He loves despite my fears, faults, and failures, so I can do the same for others.

Not seeing the enormous gap between my depravity and God’s holiness is making God too small. Yet despite this gap, Jesus bridges it with his own sacrifice for our sake. He makes us saints before the almighty, holy God of the universe. That’s pretty cool. This is why we should preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. It keeps the focus on Jesus and not ourselves, enabling us to love others well. So there you have it, the solution to loving relationships is to simply preach the gospel to yourself.

Family, Fortitude, Personal Development

Who's in Charge of Your Marriage?

When men fail to love their wives because of what they perceive to be a lack of responsiveness, they are allowing themselves to be controlled by the behavior of their wives. In fact, I find that these two things are occurring when this transpires:

1. The man is waiting for permission from his wife to be the man he vowed to be.

When a man bases his love on the behavior of his wife, he is not in control. Whether he realizes it or not, he is being controlled by her negativity not by his conscience, his commitment to the marriage vows, or his God. His is committing the mistake of allowing her behavior to dictate his actions.

This is a classic mistake that spouses make in a troubled marriage. In a sense, they are allowing the dysfunction of their spouse to become the true god of their actions (Romans 6:16), and this is always a problem in that no individual or couple will ever rise higher than the true master of their marriage. We deal with this in chapter 3 of our marriage book.

2. The man becomes a walking contradiction.

What most give off that they are the most is what they are the least.

Bank tellers will tell you that the person with lots of bling and the shiniest car is usually poorer in relation to the man with an old truck and overalls.

The teenager that has to walk with a strut and talk a big game typically has the least confidence. It is the young man that finds but little need to let everyone know how confident he is that is truly over abounding with confidence. (Proverbs 17:27)

In the same way, the man that runs from his obligation to serve his wife yet becomes bitter about her negative responses will often tout how he could care less what she does. But, it should be noted that the man that has to tell everyone how little he cares is usually showing how much he cares. If he did not care, then why does he feel a need to verbalize his disgust.

Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matthew 12:34). I know people say that you cannot know someone’s heart, but Jesus teaches otherwise. We typically know what is in someone’s heart by their words as they are heart indicators.

Love Because it is Right

Though I am the first to admit that there are some women that are dissatisfied no matter how much love they receive, men will be wise to love their wives because it is right rather than because it produces the result they desire. In fact, when a man refrains from loving his wife because of her lack of responsiveness he is showing that he is simply a conditional lover.

Conditional Love is Not Love

To say that someone is a conditional lover is oxymoronic. That is, a conditional lover is not a true lover. He or she is merely one that has mastered having good behavior in order to receive a desired result. This is not love as much as a deceptive form of love which is no love at all. (I Corinthians 13:5)

True Repentance

Many men will do well to remember that true repentance is taking total responsibility for the state of their actions and the repercussions of those actions. I have found that men do not even begin to prosper until they stop blaming their wives for their negative behavior and focus more on the lack of love that has caused the lack of good feeling in their wives.

If I neglected to change the oil in my car, I have nobody to blame but myself. I can ignore the warning light, argue with it, or take full responsibility. In the same way, many husbands will do well to accept total responsibility for the state of their marriage and their home and return to their first works.

Man Up

I am finding many men that are balking at taking full responsibility for the state of their marriage. Though I am aware that some women will reject the love of even the best of men, this is more of an exception rather than a rule.

Behind every bitter woman is a man that failed somewhere. That man may be a father, ex-husband, old boyfriend, or current husband. But, mark it down, somewhere out there, a man lacked the strength or the wisdom to pull her outside of herself in a loving way.

I am a firm believer that the lack of responsiveness that we have today from the wives in our society is a reaction rather than a mere action. It is a reaction to the lack of masculinity in our families.

The Demasculinization of America is a Faulty Premise

I say that nobody, including our wives, took it away. We gave it up. Take responsibility for your actions and the negative repercussions of those actions. Do what the scriptures say and “be men of courage.” (I Samuel 4:9 and I Corinthians 16:13)

I often hear people talk about the demasculinization of America. However, as of late, I have been swaying away from using this term. This is because if someone can take away my manhood, then I was not much of a man from the start. In other words, is someone taking away our manhood as a society or are we as men giving it up by walking contrary to the scriptures?

About the Author: Dr. Raymond Force currently serves as a pastor of the Crossroads Bible Church in Ocala, FL. Having served in a number of churches throughout his ministry, Dr. Force pulls from his experience as a pastor and a youth pastor to help others to overcome difficulties in their lives and relationships. Dr. Force has been married over twenty years and he is a father of seven beautiful children. Hitting Home is a family owned and operated ministry that enjoys working together for God’s glory.

faith, Family

How To Feel Differently About Your Spouse

Feelings have no engine of their own.  In most cases, they are pulled around by thoughts and actions. Therefore, if you are going to see a change in the way you feel about your spouse, then, first of all, you will have to change the way you are treating them.  This is why I often say, “Never expect to feel any different about your marriage unless you are willing to do something different.”

I have come across many a spouse that seems to be waiting for their feelings to mysteriously change before they start treating their mate in a different manner. The only problem is that they are waiting for something that does not exist.

The Proverbs 16:3 Principle

Proverbs 16:3 gives us some insight on this subject. It says:

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

If you will notice, God’s Words tells us that the external can positively affect the internal. In other words, Proverbs is teaching us that in that in order to move the inside, sometimes, the outside must be the first to change.

Imagine if I obtained a train car, painted the word feelings on it, and set it all by itself on the tracks. Let us also go a little further and assume that it is hundreds of miles away from where I would want it to travel.

First off, this train car may describe some of you in that your feelings for your spouse may be far away from where they once were at another time in your marriage.

Secondly, the train car may also portray how you feel in that you sense that you are all alone and emotionally stuck.

Getting the Train Car Called Feelings to Move

The question is how are we going to get that train car to move in a positive direction? We could sit back and wait for it to move on its own accord, yet I am sure that would accomplish little. We could have long conversations about possible solutions, but that would also be to no avail.

Ultimately, the only plausible way for forward progress to begin is to hook an engine to that train car and proceed down the tracks.

In like manner, husbands and wives that are seeing very little movement in their feelings toward one another must find a similar engine. I call it an engine called action. Once this occurs, it is almost always just a matter of time before they start to feel differently toward their spouse. 

There’s always Something You Can Do

I certainly understand that there are people with chemical imbalances, hormonal problems, or physiological issues that may throw their feelings off. I am fully aware of such cases. I also understand that there are heart issues such as hurt, unforgiveness, and bitterness that take time to heal. Nevertheless, I have found that even in the most difficult of cases, there is always some way to start showing kindness in a tangible way so that a spouse can eventually start to feel differently about their marriage. It is not only a Biblical step, but I have also found it to be extremely effective.

Credit to Dr. Raymond Force of Hitting Home Ministries for the content of this article.

faith, Family

Why Fear Is Worse Than Greed

fear is a liar

To be honest, I didn’t want to share this article. It sat in my inbox for months while I read and re-read it several times with an ever increasing conviction that it was written directly to me. Has that ever happened to you?

This hits me right between the eyes. Not every detail of course, but Dr. Raymond Force pretty much nails the subject. I’ve never thought about fear this way, even once I admitted that I had some fears (fear of rejection/ failure primarily) that keep me from being an awesome husband.

It is because of my fear that I don’t want to share this with you. So here I am facing my fear head on making myself vulnerable to you. Dr. Force’s complete article is below (in red). My personal comments follow that. Read on.

Dr. Force’s Article

There are two emotions in life that cause hardships in our relationship with God, our spouses, and our children. Though one seems to get a pass on many an occasion, both are extremely destructive. These menaces are fear and greed.

If fear and greed were villains, greed would probably have a higher price on its head. However, I believe fear to be a little worse for the following reasons:

Fear is not as easily identified as a problem in the mind of the fearful

Everyone that is fearful feels justified in their fear-based approach to life and relationships. In their mind, they are protecting their marriage and the ones they love. However, it should be noted that though we should be cautious in some areas, there is a fear based in our unbelief, our idiosyncrasies, and our insecurities that can destroy healthy relationships. 

A fear-based spouse will often see darkness where there is simply light, feel hostility when there is peace, or read something into a situation while others are just doing life. Nonetheless, the results can lead to as many fights as a marriage that is plagued with a greedy, self-centered spouse.

Fear-based people do not take the blame 

People that are prone to fear-based actions are more likely to blame others around them for not being equally afraid. Thus, it is harder to identify the true culprit in the relationship because the focus of the blame is often misguided at best.

Fear-based people often have logic and scriptures to back up their actions 

Though their logic and scriptures will often be faulty or out of context, they seem all the more believable and sincere because of their arguments.

Dr. Raymond Force’s Story

I like to tell people that I have better me-sight than insight on subjects like this. In other words, I was a horrible fear-monger in our marriage during the early days, and I still have to watch my thoughts and actions. There was a time when my wife was afraid to be herself. She hid behind a shell of stoicism as she never knew when the next fear-based bomb was about to drop. To make matters worse, my fear was cloaked with religion (which is the worst kind), and I failed to see how debilitating it was to our marriage until about 5 years into the marriage.

Here is what I found that helped me to move into a more loving approach to my marriage and life in general:

  1. I had to enter into a John 14:21-23 relationship with the Lord.

In other words, sensing the presence of my Heavenly Father helped me to relax and see goodness where previously I saw the opposite.

  1. I had to stop blaming others in the marriage and home.

The Greek word for devil in the scriptures is diabolos. The word is actually translated slanderer or accuser in a few places. I had to realize that though I was religious, I had many of the characteristics of the evil one in that I was proud and a slanderer of those around me.

  1. I had to become a man.

Manhood means taking sole responsibility for your actions instead of blaming others. It also involves taking the consequences of your actions on the chin and doing whatever it takes to ensure that the original actions that caused negative reactions from others are no longer in play.

  1. I had to detox my mind.

I often encourage spouses and families to do what I call a Philippians 4:8 detox. In this passage, Paul tells us to think on things that are praiseworthy. Mark it down. When you stop beating dead horses of negativity in your mind, you will see a release of tension in your spirit, marriage, and the rest of your home.

  1. I had to realize that fear was greed.

When people are fearful, their focus is hardly ever on God’s glory. In fact, the energy swirls within them and around them, but it hardly ever is an energy that causes the focus to be on God and the true betterment of others. Truly, love, agape love, never fails and it certainly “casts out fear”.

Chad’s Story

I believe most people are quite unaware, clueless really, of their negative behaviors and how they impact their relationships. I am no different, having spent the majority of my adult life believing that most of the relationship problems I faced were the fault of my circumstances or someone else. In just the last few years though I finally discovered something radical. A key part of my healthy living journey is to become more self-aware through a frequent process of “sober self-assessment” (Romans 12:3) that I learned in a really good Bible study resource.

It is by this prayerful self-assessment, the therapeutic exercise of journaling, and a study on the topic of hidden idols in my heart that the Lord revealed to me my issue with fear of rejection. I realized that I had made an idol out of approval/ acceptance from others- particularly from my wife Angie. I won’t get into the details about fear as an idol here, but if you are intrigued how they are connected, I recommend you take a close look at the last link about hidden idols. Read the book.

My point is that it’s humbling to learn that the source of my problems in life and relationships is my own fault and I’m responsible to make it better. What hits me hard about this article is that fear is actually very selfish. Greed is selfish obviously. But fear is even more selfish than greed. Ouch. Here’s what my fear of rejection looks like: (Gulp)

  1. I work really hard to earn approval or acceptance from Angie. I work my butt off because I NEED her approval like a fish needs water. I feel like I can’t live without her acceptance & approval. I fear failing her and I fear her rejection of me, so I knock myself out by doing things that I think will win her. My self-esteem is based upon how I perceive Angie feels about me & my performance.
  2. My fear of rejection and my NEED of her acceptance/ approval are tied together. What happens is inevitably I do not receive the acceptance/approval I EXPECTED for all my “sacrificial efforts” so I feel rejected. My expectation is entirely selfish. I am not working my butt off for her sake; I’m doing it for me. I’m trying to feed my idol of “acceptance/ approval of others.”
  3. Once rejected, I reason that I must protect myself from this horrible feeling so I quit doing anything for Angie. I blame her for rejecting me. “How dare she?!” I foolishly believe I will feel better if I don’t do anything for Angie because I will save myself all the hard work and I won’t be rejected. How ridiculous is that?
  4. The results are obvious. Angie does not feel loved in the least. She loses. She does not accept or approve of my behavior at all. Her rejection of me continues. She is conditioned to wonder if anything I do is really for her, or just for my own selfish motives. I am a mess, because from my point of view I can’t avoid rejection no matter what I do. I lose too.
  5. We both lose and our relationship is stuck in a rut because I am afraid of rejection.

To remedy this, I have to keep reminding myself of the list of items above. Particularly the ideas of ownership of my behavior, detoxing my mind from all the lies Satan tell me about my value, claiming key Scriptures like Phil 4:8, Psalm 23, 27 & 139, Romans 8:28-39, Joshua 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:7, etc., and realizing how selfish my fear really is. Fighting my fears is a battle that I expect to fight to my grave, but I know I will get better with practice. And the truth is that I have an awesome advocate on my side. His name is Jesus. His great love for me wipes out all my fear – if I let him. I wonder, do you know him?

I’m embarrassed to share all this with you. I feel like I should have it all figured out by now.  The truth is, the older I get, the more I find that I don’t have figured out. But here is what I know for sure:

-Fear is real and it can be debilitating.

-Fear is a selfish choice.

-The perfect love of Jesus casts out fear, so I will forever cling to him.

-Focusing on Jesus, his love for me, his attributes like mercy, grace, & forgiveness, instead of my fears is a key way to experience victory over it.

I’m so thankful to have Jesus on my side to help me through my life journey. I can’t imagine how I would handle this struggle without him. If what I’m saying here sounds completely foreign to you, or you think I’m crazy, I welcome your feedback. I would love to chat with you personally to discuss your thoughts on fear, faith, marriage, etc.


Invest in Yourself – Good books for Personal Development

reading books

“There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” – Ronald Reagan

The ultimate underlying goal of personal development is to be the best version of you possible. Here is a selection of books that have been impactful to my healthy living journey.

Discipline & Self Awareness

The difference between the people that achieve their goals and those who don’t boils down to good old-fashioned discipline.

Strength Finder 2.0

The Road Less Traveled

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Guy Stuff

The most difficult and challenging yet rewarding role men play is husband. And it’s not a game. We should be reading about how to be a better man and husband and then actually apply what we read.

Discovering the Mind of a Woman

Every Man’s Marriage

The Man in the Mirror

When Work & Family Collide

Husband After God

Motivation, Goal Setting & Achieving Goals

Goals give your life purpose and direction. Goals put you on the path to achievement and fulfillment. Goals tell you where you’re going so you can take the right steps to get there.

The Best Question Ever

Just Do Something

Pyramid of Success


Soul Food

Your soul is with you for all eternity. We should feed it, care for it, and strengthen it even more than our physical bodies. Besides the Bible (which I highly recommend reading daily), these books have been very impactful to my spiritual journey.


The Purpose Driven Life

The Lazarus Life

He Loves Me

Gospel Treason

Mere Christianity

Forgotten God

The Prayer of Jabez

Secrets of the Vine

The Naked Gospel

Communication & Leadership

You have to be able to adapt your communication style to the person you’re talking to, the subject you’re discussing, and the environment you’re in.

The Anatomy of Peace

Love Works

Leadership & Self Deception

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Next Generation Leader

**Disclaimer – I recommend these books because they have a message, or theme, or even a tidbit that has encouraged me and helped shape me to who I am – and who I aim to be.

That does not mean that I agree with EVERYTHING every one of these fallible human authors has written. I’d love the chance to discuss your thoughts on any of these books and to hear about impactful books you have read.

One final thought: I admit that it is easy to read & study influencers about their tips and strategies to be great at (fill in the blank) as if learning about it is really something. Learning is just the start. The key is to take action from what you learn. Reminds me of this bible verse from James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” #notetoself #takeaction #practice