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The Bible has a lot to say about how we treat our wives. It says we should love them as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25), that we should live with them in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7), that we should not be harsh with them (Colossians 3:19), and I could go on. and. on.

It also gives a warning for those you fail to treat their wives well, that their prayers may be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

So the question becomes, how are we as Christian men treating our wives?

wives

Unfortunately, in my experiences, the answer to this question is probably “not very well.”

I must admit that I didn’t treat my wife as well as I should have in the first ten years or so of our marriage. And I definitely reaped what I sowed. By the grace of God, our marriage is now improving dramatically after seventeen years, but the first ten were definitely less than ideal.

wives

I’ve seen this pattern in other Christian marriages as well, even among men who hold leadership positions in the church. It. is. sad.

Why do we treat our wives this way?

Well, for me, I didn’t intentionally set out to make my wife’s life a living hell – it just kinda happened that way. I was selfish, didn’t really have any social skills or life skills, and carried addictions and many other hurts and hangups into our marriage. Not to mention the fact that our personalities and ways of “doing life” didn’t sync up. We were total opposites.

As a result, arguing and fighting came natural for us. I was immature and wanted things my way.

What did I learn from this and how did I start treating my wife better?

I started to learn that the little things didn’t really matter that much… the color we painted the wall, whether we ate Italian or Chinese food, etc, etc, etc. If it wasn’t something that I had convictions about and was really important to me, then I let her have it her way. It just wasn’t worth arguing about. Our unity was the important thing.

I learned that my words were important. I learned that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21) is a true statement. I am not the best with words anyway, and when I tired, it’s even worse. So, if I need to have an important conversation with Joanne, it’s better to wait until I’m well rested so that I will be more careful in choosing my words. With that said, even when I’m exhausted I need to be more careful when choosing my words. Because they have the power to give life, uplift, and encourage, or the power to bring death, destruction, and discouragement.

In addition, I became knowledgeable of the fact that the Bible was true once again… shocker I know: “There is a time for everything… a time to be silent and a time to speak…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).

wives

Sometimes my wife just wanted to be heard. She didn’t want me to fix her problem or give her advice. She just wanted me to listen and try to be understanding. Especially after a long day at work or when she had just come in the door, she just wanted to vent. Sometimes, that’s all any of us really need, a listening and understanding ear. Someone to share our lives with, who won’t judge us or condemn us, but someone just to affirm that are we are important, that we matter and our lives matter, because we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of Christ.

What about you? What have you learned that has helped you to treat your spouse better?

 

His son,

Gary Lee Millner

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[This blog entry is Part 2 of a two part series. For Part 1, please click here.]

testimony

Anxiety:  Hell is the word that comes to mind when trying to describe what generalized social anxiety disorder feels like.  It is a constant, seemingly eternal hell that must be lived through every single moment of life.  There may be short reprieves for a time, but they never last very long.  The hell of generalized social anxiety disorder is always soon to follow.

The anxiety that tormented me was so severe that even while with those whom I considered close friends, I would still experience fear and have heart palpitations.

Afraid of what you may ask?  Afraid perhaps of the following:

  • That if they really knew me then they wouldn’t like me.
  • That they wouldn’t understand the anxiety, depression, or sexual addiction that I struggled with.
  • That they would judge me because of my sin.
  • That they would reject me.

I would avoid individuals, people, crowds, and generally anyone or anything that required me to interact socially.  I would even walk a different route in order to avoid people.

Depression:  In my estimation, I have suffered from moderate to severe depression for about half of my life.  At times, the depression has been so extreme that I have even contemplated suicide.  I have often cursed the day I was born and regretted ever being born as Jeremiah does in the scriptures.  It is no fun to hate living and want to die, but that is exactly what I did off and on for many, many years.

Shame and Self-hatred:  I felt that I was unworthy and unacceptable.  Totally.  It was not as if a few seams in the garment of myself needed stitching; the whole fabric was frayed.  Everyone else was okay except me.  I was flawed beyond repair.  Because I believed that “I” was unacceptable, the natural response was to hate myself.

Anger Towards God:  I had many “good” reasons for being angry with God.  I was angry with God for things that had happened to me in my past – rejection, emotional abuse, etc.  I was angry with God for the present struggles that I had – fear, anxiety, depression, lust, etc.  I was angry with God because I believed that His character was something it was not.  For example, one major thing that I had to overcome was the belief that God was a task-master or slave-driver.  This is the belief that God is not interested in us for who we are but only for what we can do for Him.

I may have even projected my earthly father’s character traits onto God – my heavenly Father.  My earthly father was physically abusive, had a problem with anger, and rarely if ever told me that he loved me (He now tells me that he loves me quite frequently, thanks to God’s healing and restoration power).

I was also angry with God for not giving me certain things, in my timing, that I felt the Bible promised to believers.  For example, I have low frequency hearing loss that resulted, at least in part, from poor choices that I made during my late teenage or early adult years.  This has caused me much emotional pain.

Anger Towards People and Unforgiveness:  I had incurred deep emotional wounds and there were many specific individuals who were, at least partially, responsible.

2nd – My Experiences and Changes in Working through CR

Working the 12 steps has helped me in many ways.  I learned that denying my sins and emotions by keeping them hidden was a bad thing.  I learned that “Secrets keep you sick”.  I learned that I was not alone in my struggles.  Perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned, though, was the importance of accountability.  It was here that I met my two best friends and accountability partners.

What I needed the most was to be loved and accepted unconditionally by another human being, whether I deserved it or not.  I got this unconditional love and acceptance from my accountability partners.  For the first time in my life, I began to truly understand God’s unconditional love and acceptance of me because another human being modeled it to me.  From here, God began showing me His true character – His loving, forgiving, and accepting nature.  I began to discover that God was not the task master or slave driver that I had once thought Him to be, but instead a loving Father.

 3rd – The New Me

With regard to anxiety, I no longer have heart palpitations while in the presence of friends.  I believe that God has set me almost completely free.

With regard to depression, God has worked a miracle in my life in this area.  The down feelings no longer turn into depression.

With regard to shame and self-hatred, after feeling loved and accepted by God and others, I am now learning to love and accept myself.

With regard to anger towards God, I rarely curse God or take His name in vain in my heart anymore.  There are occasions where I want to blame God, but He has been gracious to show me that it isn’t His fault.

With regard to anger towards people and unforgiveness, I have forgiven most, if not all, people who have wounded me.  I have learned that forgiveness is extremely difficult but well worth the effort.  I have also learned that it is a continual process because there will always be people who offend you.

 4th – Outreach

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3-4:

“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Rick Warrens says that “the area of our greatest pain is the area of our greatest ministry”.  Isn’t it ironic that God uses what the world sees as our weakness to actually be our strength?  Perhaps the Lord is calling some of you here tonight to the recovery ministry.  If you have suffered any sort of pain and been comforted by God, then God has uniquely qualified you.

Obtaining the total freedom in Christ that He died to give us is a process.  It does not happen overnight but instead comes overtime as we continually renew our minds and become more like Him.

Please keep this in mind as you are putting the steps in this program into practice.  Inevitably, like learning to ride a bike or learning to snow ski, you will fall down.  So, don’t be surprised if you don’t get it exactly right the first few times.  Most people fall a few, several, or even many times before getting it right.

Get up, brush yourself off, confess your sin to the Lord, accept His forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love, and try again.

“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…”

Proverbs 24:16

Eventually, with Jesus Christ as your Higher Power, you will be victorious.

I will leave you with one of my favorite scriptures, it is Isaiah 42:6-7 (NLTv1):

“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.  I will guard and support you, for I have given you to my people as the personal confirmation of my covenant with them.  And you will be a light to guide all nations to me.  You will open the eyes of the blind and free the captives from prison.  You will release those who sit in dark dungeons.”

Thank you.

### The above text was taken from our new book #SlayingLifesDragonsandBeasts and sanitized to make it more appropriate for this blog. ###

[This blog entry is Part 2 of a two part series. For Part 1, please click here.]

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[This blog entry is Part 1 of a two part series. For Part 2, please click here.]

I’m writing this series of blog entries not because I particularly like airing my “dirty laundry,” but because the Bible says that we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11) and because if they help just one person then isn’t it worth it?

Celebrate Recovery Testimony

Hi, my name is Gary, I’m a grateful Christian in recovery from anxiety, depression, lust, shame, self-hatred, anger towards God and people, unforgiveness, and the list is seemingly endless.

I was a shy, introverted child who was basically a “mama’s boy”.  No one taught me self-esteem or social skills or any life skills for that matter.  I did not learn them at home, at church, or at school.  I was left alone to figure them out for myself.

Perhaps the most damaging event occurred in middle school and came from someone whom I thought to be a friend.  This girl, all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, called me “ugly”.  I thought that we had a pretty good relationship up until that point, but apparently I was wrong.  Perhaps she was just having a bad day.  I did not respond to this insult but instead just quietly took it to heart believing that it was truth.

This was how I handled these kinds of situations.  I wouldn’t fire back any choice words or try to initiate a fight, but rather I would just take whatever abuse was given and ponder it in my heart asking, “Could this be true?”  Unfortunately, the answer that I concluded was almost always an overwhelming “Yes”.  I never discussed these events with anyone.  I suppose I thought that I was alone in these situations and that no one could understand me or help me.

Sadly, these situations continued throughout high school.  Specifically, I was called “ugly” several more times in high school.  Even once by my own uncle.  This just served to reinforce the apparent truth behind these statements.

The idea that I was ugly just devastated me.  I felt rejected, unacceptable, worthless, useless, powerless, and hopeless.  I already had severe acne and was very self-conscious.  This was all I needed.  The icing on the cake.  The precipitating factor that would drive me over the edge.

In an effort to ease my pain, I turned to many bad, self-destructive, and addictive behaviors.

### The above text was taken from our new book #SlayingLifesDragonsandBeasts and sanitized to make it more appropriate for this blog. ###

[For Part 2, please click here.]

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With the age of the internet, social networks, and blogging booming, being online and connected is now more important than ever.

Christian authors, leaders, bloggers, and generally anyone who wants to reach the world with the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ, have a unique opportunity to reach billions of people online (over a billion people on Facebook alone!).

A website or blog has the potential to reach people 24/7/365. Your site works for you even while you sleep. If the world uses the internet for their purposes, shouldn’t we as Christians also take advantage of this wonderful tool for the Kingdom of God?

I started out when the only applications available to help build websites were basically just glorified text editors. You were responsible for writing the HTML code yourself. WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) wasn’t coined yet, at least as far as I know. Creating a website from scratch was a hard road, real hard.

Html-source-code

I experimented with creating websites in the early days of the internet but I never really got very far because of the complexity of building them from raw HTML code and the further pain of having to maintain them.

On one occasion, I remember building a website using a free template that I had downloaded. The website looked very nice and used Java script. I was proud of it. The only problem was, since I didn’t understand Java scripting, it was extremely difficult for me to create any additional content and make the website look like I wanted it to look. Thus, I quickly became discouraged and never finished it.

When the age of blogging began, I experimented with different blogging platforms (mainly Google’s Blogger.com but perhaps one or two other platforms). Blogging platforms offered a nice alternative to a full-blown website. I found them very easy to build and maintain and the nice part was that you didn’t have to understand HTML code.

However, the problem was that they looked, well, like a blog, and not a website. Even with the myriad of themes that were available, none looked professional enough to call your homepage.

Enter WordPress.com. I was first exposed to WordPress through a pastor friend’s website. His website was a WordPress.com blog but there was something different about it – it looked very professional. I also noticed that his website did not have the standard xyz.blogging_platform.com naming convention. His website was in this format:  his_name.com. I was quite impressed.

It wasn’t long after this that I decided to give the whole blog/website thing another try. I signed up with WordPress.com and garyleemillner.wordpress.com was born.

I found that WordPress.com made the domain name registration process very easy and even included this functionality within their web-based blog administration software. All I had to do was enter some information, click through a couple of screens, pay $17.00, and before I knew it, I had officially registered garyleemillner.com as a domain name for a year.

I now had a very professional looking blog/website that was relatively easy to build and maintain. I was a happy camper.

I have used my new site for several years now and have been extremely happy with it.

WordPress.com is a viable option for folks who want a blog or website that is professional looking, yet easy enough to build and maintain themselves.

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Sure, it would be cool to find the real Noah’s ark.  It would be neat to see it’s remains, to touch the wood, ancient. But then, would we need faith if we had the physical proof? noahs_arkIf “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” then why do we need the physical proof?

If having a piece of aged ark wood in our hands is not an important part of the true ark story, then what is?

Faith is certainly an important part of the ark story, however, I submit to you that another important part is this:

“This is the history of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on earth at the time. He consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with him.” — Genesis 6:9

Noah enjoyed a close relationship with God. Is there anything better than that! I submit to you that there is not. 

However, a close relationship with God comes at a price, a high one, one that most of us hate and are unwilling to pay — obedience.

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” — Genesis 6:22

Noah consistently, patiently, and obediently followed God’s will. He did exactly what the Lord told him to do. He built an ark to God’s exact specifications. He loaded it with two of each kind of animal, male and female. He then took his family into the ark and waited for God to close the door and start the H2O inundation.

So, the question becomes, if we as Christians earnestly desire a close relationship with our Lord, then why are we so unwilling to be obedient? Since we know His yoke is easy and the burden that He gives is light and He wants to give us rest for our souls, why do we refuse to come to Him and enter into His rest? Why do we refuse to obey Him?

Perhaps its because even though the Bible says His sheep know his voice, we still struggle to hear and know His voice? We still struggle to know who’s voice is speaking to us, Satan’s, our own, or God’s.

Perhaps His yoke seems hard and His burden heavy, too heavy for us to bear, crushing. Perhaps we have mistaken His yoke for the yoke of the law?

Perhaps we don’t feel that we love God properly, as we should, with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength?

The Lord is teaching me that the reason I, the second worst sinner – right behind the apostle Paul, have such a hard time being obedient is because I don’t truly understand how much God loves me.

I don’t truly know in the depths of my being the depths of His love for me. I need a greater revelation of His love.

Joyce Meyer, in her wonderful book Battlefield of the Mind, says that the Lord spoke to her on one occasion and said, “Very few of my people really know how much I love them. If they did, they would act differently.”

She continues:

“I studied in this area for a long time, and I became conscious and aware of God’s love for me through thinking about his love and confessing it out loud. I learned scriptures about the love of God, and I meditated on them and confessed them out of my mouth. I did this over and over for months, and all the time the revelation of his unconditional love for me
was becoming more and more of a reality to me.

Now, his love is so real to me that even in hard times, I am comforted by the ‘conscious knowing’ that he loves me and that I no longer have to live in fear.”

This “conscious knowing” only comes by revelation from the Holy Spirit. With that said, I will conclude with what Jeannie Fulbright says about God’s love in her blog:

“God loves you so tenderly. He loves you exactly like you are, with all the unsanctified thoughts and deeds you do. He has a plan to change you that is slow and steady and full of peace and joy. His plan will prevail. You are predestined for it. And it’s not you that will do it… it’s all him. You don’t have to work. God does the work. The Christian life is not too hard. It’s not hard at all. It’s about cuddling up in the arms of the father who loves you. The father who accepts you just as you are today. He isn’t disappointed in you. That’s the lie of the accuser. The Lord wants you to quit listening to those lies and take back your inheritance–the peace he purchased for you. It’s yours. You are acceptable to God.”

Do you really know in the depths of your soul how much God loves you? If not, are you willing to try what Joyce recommends above? Which of them could you put into practice right-away?

If you like, I invite you to pray the following prayer with me:

Dear Holy Spirit,

I pray that you would fill me and give me a “conscious knowing” of God’s great love for me as demonstrated through His son Jesus. Make His love so real and tangible that my love for Him would bubble up and overflow. Then, may my willingness to obey flow out of this close relationship with my Lord, the only true lover of my soul.

In Jesus name I pray,

Amen.

I would love to hear from you. Please leave your questions or comments below and I will do my best to respond to as many as I can.

[Some of the above text was taken word-for-word from our new book, Slaying Life’s Dragons and Beasts: A Practical, Biblical Guide to Overcoming Life’s Pains, Obstacles, and Addictions.]

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What I Really Want For Christmas

[I read this blog post from Ann Voskamp:  The Grateful Christmas Project: 7 Ways to have more Grateful Kids this Christmas and I liked it so much that I had write about it on my blog too :-]

What’s does Jesus get for His birthday? Have you ever thought of that?  Don’t we have this whole Christmas thing wrong? It’s Jesus birthday and we go out and buy everyone gifts except Him.

What if on my birthday or your birthday, every family member went out and bought every other family member a gift except me or you? I would probably be down right angry!

Perhaps we need to re-think Christmas? What if Jesus and His birthday were the primary focus of Christmas? What if giving Jesus gifts was part or the whole of our Christmas?

Ann talks about how her family started doing this about a dozen years ago or so.  How instead of giving each other gifts, they…

“It happens after breakfast, each day for the last two weeks of Advent, selecting one gift for He who is Christmas.”

… give Jesus a gift by selecting one from the various catalogs linked below:

Compassion Catalog … World Vision Catalog… Samaritan’s Purse Catalog … Partner’s International Catalog… Gospel for A

sia Catalog… Mennonite Central Committee Catalog …

L1317

WV Australia Resource Gathering Trip - Tien Phuoc ADP: Day in the Life - TranL1051

livestock-150x150emergency-feeding-150x150safe-water-150x150

Our family tried this this year. We still gave gifts to each other, but we also picked a couple of gifts from these catalogs to give to the One who celebrates His birthday at Christmas.

I would really love to hear from you.  Have you ever tried what I describe above? How did it turn out?

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“The ropes of death surrounded me; the floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face.” — Psalm 18:4-5

Sometimes when I’m hurting, I don’t even know why.

Perhaps the worries and cares of this life have overwhelmed me; perhaps I have been going and going and going without a break; perhaps I haven’t spent quality time with my Father.

Whatever the reason, hurting and pain seem to be integral parts of life in this world.

The question becomes, “What do I do with my hurts and pain?”

Do I just keep going and allow them to affect every part of my life? All my relationships – my spouse, my kids, my co-workers, my boss, and all others?

Do I just keep going and try to balance out the pain in my life with illicit pleasures and other stuff – work, food, TV, relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.

How do I deal with my pain in a healthy way?

This morning, I was hurting, without even knowing why.  I seemed to have forgotten how to deal with my pain.

Then, I read this quote from Beth Moore:

“Intimacy with God is that I can come in with the honesty of my heart, tell Him how much I’m hurting.”

Then, I remembered.  The light bulb came on.  Why don’t I take my pain and hurts to the Lord?

So, that’s what I did.  I did the same thing that King David did in Psalm 18:6:

“But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help.”

Did he hear me?

“He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.”

Did he respond to me?

“Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. 8 Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. 9 He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. 10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being,[a] he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. 11 He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. 12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals.[b] 13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. 14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused. 15 Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. 

16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. 18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. 19 He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.”

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