How Guys Unintentionally Sabotage Their Relationships

There is a relationship killer that seems to be particularly hard for men. It’s hard because men’s brains are designed in a way that sometimes prohibits them from even seeing this issue.

Bill & Pam Farrel wrote a book called Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. The Farrels identify how men tend to compartmentalize their lives. That is, guys can be so absorbed in one “box” in their life that they are completely oblivious to the other boxes. For instance, when a man is at work he seldom thinks about the other areas of his life (his wife, his kids, the bills that need to be paid, what he’s going to have for lunch).

In addition, men’s brains are also designed to stay in those boxes where things can be quickly fixed. A guy likes fixing things, so the boxes where he can do something and see an immediate result is a box he’s going to keep going back to again and again.

Here’s the trouble… Relationships don’t fit in nice, neat boxes. Neither are relationships something that can be “fixed.” And relationships are never, ever fixed or improved quickly.

So if a guy isn’t aware of these things, he can be unintentionally sabotaging the relationships around him.

King David illustrated this in his unintentional lack of involvement in three of his sons’ lives—

  • Amnon pursued an unhealthy relationship with his step-sister. David got mad but never did anything about it (2 Samuel 13:21).
  • Absalom got revenge for what Amnon did and then fled the country. When David finally allowed him to return to Israel, they never met to resolve what went wrong (2 Samuel 14:28).
  • Adonijah wanted to be king after David, but the Bible says, “His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’” (1 Kings 1:6).

Dave Wills wrote, “We all tend to craft a self-focused view of the world where we emerge as either a hero or a victim in every scene. We’re never the villains in the story. The truth is, though, that we’ve all been the bad guy more often than we’d like to admit. A life of love requires that we look in the mirror and give an honest and humble self-assessment.”

The way to defeat this relationship killer is to become aware of it through humble self-assessment. David learned this truth and shared his prayer with us: “Search me, O God. Show me any areas in my life where I am off-track” (Psalm 139:23-24).

In response to this prayer, the Holy Spirit must have showed David how he had unintentionally starved his relationships with Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, because he became highly involved in his son Solomon’s life.

So much so that as Solomon talked to his children about how they should live, he also told them where he had learned how to do this—his father taught him (Proverbs 4:1-4).

Guys, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been unintentionally in another box. It doesn’t matter how strained the relationship may have become. If you will humbly ask God to search you, reveal to you where you’ve messed up, and ask Him to help you get better … your relationships WILL begin to improve!

Don’t wait another day to pray that “Search me” prayer!

Every Man’s Battle (book review)

Every Man's BattleMen are wired differently from women (surprise!). While not all men struggle with pornography, the way men are wired makes it easier to allow lust to begin through what we see with our eyes. This is every man’s battle, and this is the reason Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker have given men an essential book called Every Man’s Battle.

If you’re a guy and you say, “I never battle with lust. I can control myself,” I’d like to remind you of one piece of Scripture: If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. In other words, a little humility and a little help is never a bad thing. In fact, it may just help you keep your guard up.

If you’re a guy and you say, “If the truth were known, I do battle lust quite often,” perhaps your battle with lust has even gotten the best of you, and you’ve begun sneaking a peak at things your shouldn’t be looking at. Maybe those quick peaks have even become longer looks … or even turned into a pornography problem.

In whatever category you find yourself, Every Man’s Battle is an invaluable book for men. The authors are very honest about their own struggles with lust and pornography, including the things they tried to help them kick their habit that ultimately failed. What’s presented to us in this book are successful strategies for defeating lust and eliminating pornography from our lives.

I found the strategies they shared to be practical. They weren’t just some “pray a lot and trust God” approaches, but truly things that any guy can put into practice. That’s not to say that they will be easy to do. After all, rewiring the way you’ve been used to doing things is a lot of hard work. But Stephen and Fred give you a biblical foundation, their own lives as examples, and simple next-steps that any guy can do!

There’s a workbook included, which I would recommend for guys to do with an accountability partner. I would also recommend the website We Dared (where you will meet author Stephen Arterburn) to get some daily help in your battle against lust.

GUYS: GET THIS BOOK! Your family, your church, and your community need you to be strong and victorious over lust and pornography.

Links & Quotes

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Calling all Christian men: “If men begin praying together, God promises to stay His hand of judgment and restore the blessings of His people. If men will pray. If they will pray together” —T.M. Moore. Fellas, please check out this short call to prayer that T.M. has written, and then let’s start praying!

Board member overlapThis is fascinating! R.J. Andrews wrote, “The CEO of Disney is on the board of Apple, whose CEO is on the board of Nike, which has a board member on Disney… which all got me thinking: how many powerful companies are connected via their board of directors?” So click the picture or here to read more and see this infographic in a larger size.

Despite the rhetoric Planned Parenthood trumpets, there are painful psychological consequences for women who have an abortion. Choose life!

Married couples, check this out: How to fight fairly with your spouse.

Dr. Tim Elmore has another good post showing us the importance of our family history for our kids. Your history with them starts now.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“If evangelical Christianity is to stay alive it must have men again—the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made.” —A.W. Tozer

“Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.” —C.S. Lewis

I believe the biggest reason why families are being redefined today is not because of liberal vs. conservative ideology. It’s because we had to embrace a new ‘community’ when the nuclear family exploded. Traditional families have been broken, yet people still want to be in a ‘family,’ even if it’s temporary. Sadly, this family thing often fails. Whether in a home, a team, a dorm, a company, a gym or a church, we tend to walk away rather than work at difficult relationships. We’re like porcupines—we tend to hurt each other when we get close.” Read more of the outstanding post from Tim Elmore: How Eating Alone Costs More Than You Think.

A great post to cut through the mis-information: Myths About Roe v. Wade.

According to some research, over half of women who have abortions do so under pressure, while those who resist can face violence and death. …The Center for Disease Control lists homicide as a leading cause of death among pregnant women.” Here are more facts contradicting the pro-abortion crowd’s rhetoric.

Good stuff: 8 Things Every Healthy Marriage Has.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Ten Evidences For Creation.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Facts on illegal immigrants.

The Solomon Seduction (book review)

Solomon SeductionI love Bible character studies that read like a biography, and in The Solomon Seduction by Mark Atteberry, that’s exactly what I got. Not only that, but this book is an excellent discussion book for men and a pretty good leadership lesson as well.

Pastor Atteberry uses the life and writings of King Solomon to show us that even someone called the wisest man can be reduced to a fool. Solomon was given a gift of wisdom unequaled in any other man, but his gift was misused and mismanaged by Solomon, and led to his downfall.

This is a timely book for men today. Atteberry wrote early on in the book—

“Simply put, Solomon was better equipped to see through satan’s deceptions than any man who has ever lived, other than Jesus. But in the end, he became just as blind to them as everyone else. This, of course, is quite a tribute to satan’s cleverness. If he were an author, his blockbuster best seller would be How I Made A Fool Out Of The Wisest Man Who Ever Lived (And Why The Program Still Works). And it does still work.”

It’s true: satan’s seductions still work today, and Atteberry gives us ten seductions that worked on wise King Solomon, and will work on men today if we don’t pay attention to them.

I hope men not only read The Solomon Seduction, but that they use it as a springboard for discussion with other men too. This is a needed book for our time.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

Mansfield’s Book Of Manly Men (book review)

Mansfield's Book Of Manly MenIn my experience, men today aren’t allowed to be true men, manly men. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons why (but that’s another subject for another time), but for those men who are yearning to be the manly men that God has created them to be, Mansfield’s Book Of Manly Men by Stephen Mansfield will make you jump up and growl!

Men are wired by God in a unique way that makes them, well, men. When men embrace their God-implanted uniqueness they become manly men (which is another way of saying God-honoring men) who are better husbands, fathers, friends, and citizens. Stephen Mansfield quickly outlines his four maxims for manly men, and then shares a list of manly qualities to which all manly men should strive.

Each of these manly qualities are introduced by the life story of a manly man from history’s pages. Mansfield presents these men in all their manliness, including both their strengths and weaknesses; there are no perfect men, but there are many real men from which Mansfield allows us to learn. These manly qualities also come with some real in-your-face challenges of how to assess the growth of that quality in a man’s life.

In the foreword, written by retired Lt. General William G. Boykin (himself a true manly man), is this challenge: “This book is a must read for every American male. We must restore the understanding of what it means to be a manly man. The nation’s future depends on getting back to the fundamentals of being men of courage and values.” I couldn’t have said it any better!

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

Book Reviews From 2013

16 Quotes from “Fight”

FightGuys, it’s time to unleash the godly warrior inside of you, and Fight by Craig Groeschel can help you do just that (you can read my full book review by clicking here). These are some of my favorite quotes from Fight

“The virtue of strength is determined by how it’s used. If it’s used to love and to protect, it’s good. Unfortunately, it can also be used to inflict harm, and that’s not consistent with what we see of God’s character in the Bible. He calls us to fight for what’s right. And a worthy is only as worthy as his cause.”

“Gentleman, God created you with the heart of a warrior. Until there’s something you’re willing to die for, you can’t truly live.”

“Men don’t plan to destroy themselves. The problem is that we have an enemy who does.”

“You have to stop trying to do it in your own strength. Because our spiritual enemy, satan, is an expert at making strong men weak. Fortunately, and don’t miss this, our God specializes in making weak men strong.”

“Lust says, ‘I want it.’ Entitlement says, ‘I deserve it.’ And pride says, ‘I can handle it.’ … You can fight using your own limited power. Or you can tap into the all-powerful, limitless God who wants to help you win every battle for His causes. Here’s how:

  • Turn ‘I want it’ to ‘I want God.’
  • Turn ‘I deserve it’ to ‘I deserve death.’
  • Turn I can handle it’ to ‘I can’t handle anything without God.’

“Pride is always born of our insecurities. When we don’t know who we are in Christ, we use pride to try to fill that void. … So many of us try to define ourselves by our accomplishments, to find worth in what we’ve done, instead of in Whom we belong to. We want to rely on our achievements, our victories, our trophies, our wins to define us instead of acknowledging God as the source of all good things in our lives.”

“If there’s one thing you can count on self-pity for, it’s exaggeration. Every time you start thinking about how bad things are, it’s like a game to make sure everything is as bad as it could be. You’ll catch yourself using extreme words like never, always, and forever.”

“We get stuck in these negative loops of self-judgment and condemnation that are not from God. His Spirit always leads us to confession, to changing directions and going God’s way, to a fresh start, to grace. Often God has forgiven us, but our emotions haven’t caught up. I’m convinced this is just another form of our pride—wanting to be in control of ourselves and not rely on God. We’d rather hate ourselves than risk the vulnerability and humility required to depend on Him. It seems easier to expect the worst than to put our hope in God.”

“If you let your need drive you to God, God will meet your deepest need. … When you return to God and give your weakness to Him, only then will your strength return. But it’s ultimately not your strength; it’s His strength.”

“If you’re a ‘real’ guy, then you’re supposed to be a sexual beast, a stud, a leader of the pack, a stallion the ladies can’t resist—right? Wrong. You’re supposed to be a man stronger than his physical urges or emotional responses. You’re supposed to be a warrior who’s willing to fight for something more important. And that’s a battle that’s fought one temptation at a time.”

“Don’t dare be strong in just business or at your job. Don’t dare be strong just in your hobbies or at some sport. Don’t dare settle for being strong just physically. Focus your strength on leading those around you into righteousness. … Don’t settle for being strong at what doesn’t last and weak at what does. Tap into the warrior within Don’t fight just the meaningless battles. Fight for what matters most. And fight for your life.”

“If you’re going the wrong way, stop. Stop now. Fall on your knees and fight like a man.”

“When we strip men of permission to fight back at the appropriate time, we emasculate them. We stifle the spirit of the warrior that God placed within them, the spirit that yearns to fight for what’s right. When men feel stripped of power, it’s that much easier to give in to temptation. If they’ve never learned to fight, then it’s hard to know how to fight the deadliest enemy of all.”

“Remorse is a common response to failure, but there’s a much better one: repentance. Instead of turning inward or deflecting outward, you turn upward. Instead of allowing yourself to get stuck, you stop and then let God move you through it. You drop the guilt, the regret, the anger, and the self-pity and return to the Lord. Repentance means owning up to your mistakes and accepting responsibility. … Remorse is a feeling based primarily on guilt (a selfish emotion), keeping our attention on the past. Repentance is turning away from that wrong, turning away from the past, and turning our attention to changing our future. Remorse builds an emotional monument to our sin, then stands there gazing at it while we feel bad. Repentance is turning one hundred eighty degrees away from our sin and then walking away from it. With each step, repentance moves farther away from that sin. And it doesn’t look back.”

“You are not what you did; you are who God says you are.”

“Giving your life one time is easy. You know what’s hard? Giving your life daily. Paul said, ‘I die every day’ (1 Corinthians 15:31). Real men give their lives daily.”

Fight (book review)

FightThere’s something about the way Craig Groeschel writes that energizes me to take action. And since Fight is especially addressed to guys, this book has me really fired up!

Near the beginning of Fight, Craig explains the goal of the book this way—

“If you read this book, you will uncover who you really are—a man created with a warrior’s heart in the image of God—and how to fight the good fight for what’s right. You will find the strength to fight the battles you know you need to fight—the ones that determine the state of your heart, the quality of your marriage, and the spiritual health of your family.”

And, ladies, Craig has something to say to you too: “Ladies, if you are still reading, don’t miss this. The man you want isn’t the guy who wins tough-guy fights but the man who knows his weaknesses and fights in God’s strength. He won’t be perfect. But God will be perfecting him.”

Using the life story of Samson (from chapters 13-16 of the book of Judges in the Bible) as the backdrop, Craig sprinkles in some of his own life’s stories with some powerful, take-action-now truths. It’s a fun and enjoyable book to read, but it is also a bare-knuckled wake-up call for Christian men to be real men. Or as Craig says it, “Don’t try just to ‘be a better man.’ Be God’s man.”

Not only did I need to hear these concepts and be reminded again of the type of man God has created me to be, but I can’t wait to walk through these principles with some other godly warriors as well.

Guys, you need to read this book! Ladies, please encourage the men in your lives to read it. And then both of you can stand back and watch the godly transformation take place as a God-honoring warrior emerges and begins to fight for what’s right.

I am a Zondervan book reviewer.

Guys, It’s Not About The Nail

NailFellas, trust me on this one: the woman in your life doesn’t want you to fix her problems; she only wants you to listen and empathize.

So let her talk … Really hear what she’s saying … Really feel what she’s feeling. That’s what she really wants from you.

Perhaps this will help—

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