Is Your Marriage Rad or Bad: Ten Tips to Help

Marriage is a rad and beautiful thing, that God entrusts us to manage and maintain, but mo matter how much you love your spouse, if you neglect even the smallest things in your marriage you are risking throwing it down the drain. I know because I’ve been there. No one goes to bed staying “I’m going to trash my marriage. I invited another person into my life to live with me until death do us part, and I want to destroy this person now.” If you did go to bed saying this, then there are some underlying issues somewhere in your life, but for the most part this is not a normal thought.

I have loved my wife for a long time, and I never thought that I was ever going to be one of thous statistic, its like 40-50% of marriages end in a divorce, and to me that is crazy stupid. Long story short, I was not properly tending to my marriage like I should, and its is only due to God’s grace and mercy that saved it. It was one of the hardest times in my life and I never felt so afraid.

My wife and I have reconciled, and are working together to make our marriage the way God intends it to be, and everything is great! When we broke up I tried to fix things my way but was only making things worse. I was digging myself deeper and deeper and the only way out was to give up. So I gave up on trying to do it alone and I gave my marriage to God and trusted that he was going to take care of us. I spent those months not only praying and fighting for my marriage, but studying what it means to love someone, and how to take care of it. I would now love to share all the rad information that I have came across, because I would never in a million years wish that pain on anyone.

The following is 10 things that I feel need to be worked on to make an awesome marriage. These things are things I have either looked back on and have seen cause issues with my marriage or repeating trends that I’ve seen or heard from digging deep into resources of resolving marriages.

1.Autopilot.

This was probably the one that hit us the hardest. When you fall in love and everything seems to be good, and you know that this person was destined to be in you life forever, and you make the move to marry them and then….the honey moon… is over….

Work, life, children, whatever you want the excuse to be, we sometimes switch into auto pilot and just cruise though the relationship. Its very similar to a company giving your the offer of a lifetime to snag you in, and at the beginning they treat you like your the best costumer in the world, then once the deal on the table is over…poof! that great customer service turns into the poo poo on the bottom of your shoe.

Its stupid sad that marriages tend to follow that model. We comb our hair, shine our shoes and give it our best to try to impress the one we admire, and then we turn autopilot on and stop. I know in my marriage it wasn’t even something that I was even aware of, it just happened.

Don’t take your spouse for granted. EVER

 

2. Flirting with disaster 

Flirting comes in two fold for both my wife and I. I am a very misconceived flirt at times, and I’m not even aware of how I come off as a flirt. The dangers in this are that the ever so sweet guy that I am tends to get girls attention and that’s bad. I’ve not once crossed that line, but have been so close to the edge that it could been said that I was reaching over it.

I now keep it in mind of how people might even perceive this, but my actions around the opposite sex should be screaming “Ladies, leave me alone, I have a smoking hot wife at home, who I’m very much in love with, and nothing compare to her!” (Hint Hint Ladies…I’m not interested)

When we get married we tend to stop flirting with our spouse, this is very harmful in a marriage. In a nut shell:

Flirting with spouse = Good

Flirting with someone who is not your spouse = Bad

When I started to control my flirting toward other, I found that as I decreased the flirty behavior outside my marriage that I became a big flirt to my wife. And she digs it!

Flirting within marriage is awesome, but flirting outside of your marriage is always harmful!

3. Negative friends, family and influences 

Alright, you have more than likely seen that kid that was a good kid, but ended up in the wrong crowd and made some mistakes, blah blah blah.Like that kid your friends, and family, and the people that are around you have the ability to help make or break your marriage. Family is a tough one to deal with, and sometimes you can’t always pick your co workers or other people around you, but you do get to pick your friends. Make sure that you are choosing to pick friends that support and love BOTH you and your spouse.

Genesis 2:24 says  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  With that said you should have the expectations that everyone you choose to be around should support BOTH you and your spouse and your marriage.

 

4. One Ring.

One ring to rule them all…or something like that.(Had to make a nerd joke) So it is just a ring, and normally you might not be a person into jewelry, but the wedding right is way more powerful than even the Green Lantern’s ring. This is can be your first line of defense when protecting your marriage against adultery.

I know this happens more when you are single, but when you meet a new person, one of the first things you tend to notice is if they are wearing a wedding/engagement ring. This signals to you whether or not that person is available.

For me it is also a symbol of love. When I see my wife wear her ring, it brings me so much joy.

5. Being overly plugged in.

I’ll admit, that at times I tend to plug into technology more than I interact with others. Its so easy to do. Sometimes I so want to zone out and hit up the xbox. I have tried to make it a point to not be on my phone as much when I’m around others (I know I have an issue with social media sometimes).

We shouldn’t have to depend on a news feed from Facebook to be updated on how our loved ones are doing. Yes it’s cool, but when you talk to them one on one you receive something more.

As I said, I do enjoy a good video game but not as much as my marriage. We said that we try to make some time when we can to sit down and play some games together but not make that the main interaction in the relationship.

6. Parenting and the myth of 50/50

We have a two year old and to be honest raising a kid is both the the raddest and the scariest thing in the world. We have this tiny person who is so full of emotions, and this tends to bring people closer together (and it does) but can also be very harmful to a marriage.

If you do not have a unified approach with your spouse things are going to go haywire. You must agree on everything or at least be flexible with your agreements. The mistake that I’ve seen is one parent is like the alpha parent (usually moms) and the other is disengaged (sorry dads, this tends to be you) This will divide the relationship. When I say disengaged I don’t necessarily mean “dead beat dad” but I know an issue that we had, was I would work 60 hours a week and would come home and expect Haley to have the house clean and make me dinner and ect. I was providing the income but kinda slacked on the in house team work.

I was not disengaged from my child, in fact I love playing with her and spending time with her. I enjoyed being the cool dad that like playing and reading and stuff, and ultimately freed Haley up to do MORE house work. Parenting is a full time job no doubt, and it is more than just an 8-5 gig were sometimes you get to call in because you do not feel good. Parenting is not a 50/50 thing, just like your marriage is not a 50/50 thing. If you are not going all in on your marriage you will more than likely not be going all in on parenting.

1 Corinthians 11:11 states “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman” meaning that we need to work together as a team 100/100, which if you are into numbers and ratios, is 1:1, which is one. Again, when we get married we make a convent to be one.

7. Nudey Magazines  

No Porn! I know this is an overkill statement but I believe that many couples take this for granted. I will share it in a different aspect that might help understand why. Recently I have been stuck on a pretty strict diet of only gluten free foods. At first I thought that I was limiting myself and that I was not going to enjoy it. This keeps me from eating a lot of foods that are typically bad for everyone anyways. The more and more I limit myself the more I see the benefits. The foods I’m eating is limited and a little pricey, so I tend to savor every bit which means that every PB and J that is 5 dollar is the best PB and J I’ve ever eaten. I’ve grown to enjoy food for the taste instead of just filling me up until the next time I need filling.

So let me break that down. You have the real deal, and that intimate time with your spouse is one of the best things in the world. When you are looking as other stuff, you are not getting the real deal, you are just getting a quick fit until the next time you need a quick fix. This tends to devalue the time you have with your spouse until it isn’t the best thing anymore. You should be desiring your spouse and savoring every intimate moment that you can. Get rid of the garbage.

Not to mention that this also put high expectation in your love life. Your spouse is not going to be able to live up to this. Many couples think watching porn will help spice things up in the bedroom if they do it together, however may put thoughts of possibly what it is like to be with someone else, or being inadequate for your spouse. These feelings lead to disaster.

“On but I’m not actually cheating on my spouse.” Matthew 5:28 kinda sums it up by saying  “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” So you are not cheating on your spouse, but maybe you are now setting the motion of saying that they are not fulfilling enough, and now they feel undesirable and might even turn eye to someone who starts showing interest in them, and now you have caused yourself an affair.How do you like those apples?

8. Oh Silent Fight

If you believe that once you are married that you will not fight, then think again. Arguing…better yet disagreeing is a normal thing in any relationship. One harmful thing that I’ve seen and heard is when people bottle up their feelings to avoid a disagreement. We are all created differently and have different feelings so we will have disagreements. How we handle our disagreements is the issue.

I’m an A type personality so I’m overly eager and sometime a little aggressive and easily wound up and my wife is a B type who is pretty chill. I struggle with this problem were I have to be right all the time and she has this problem where she will let me be right, when I’m not to avoid conflict and will withdrawal. This is wrong on both ends. We now work together to evaluate both of each others feelings, see what either of us can compromise on and most importantly try to resolve the tension. I know with me my marriage is more important than me having to be right, this really helps bring me down a few notches.

Remember that disagreeing is normal but you really need to agree on the resolution in order for things to work.

9. Sexy Time!

2.5….2.5 times a week is the average amount of times a couple who feels sexually fulfilled has sex a week. I’m not sure what the .5 is but if you are not making time to have sex with your spouse then there is a problem. This is a real issue that tends to lend to the previous 8 listed already. I’m not sure if it the fact that I’m a dude, but who doesn’t want to have sex? Its awesome and God designed us to have a passion.If you and your spouse are not having regular sex, then figure out what the issue is. Talk to your spouse and figure it out, is it an issue were they may feel tired? Maybe they feel insecure? Maybe its you?

Remember that terrible sex is still way better than no sex.

10. Praying

A study that I read a while back by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement in Phoenix, Arizona (nameonline.net) reported that couples that pray together on a daily basis seemed to have less than 1% ending up getting a divorce. This was 1 out of 1156. This is pretty rad when it is already around 50% divorce rate for the general population.

When you pray, you sometime open and expose yourself, so when you do this with another person or group of people you are showing them that you trust and love and care to show a pretty vulnerable side of you. One of the strongest things I have came to admire about other dudes is when they open up and pray for their loved ones. I think it shows a lot of charterer.

I hope that this information is helpful and if you and your spouse are struggling please go to God for help. I promise that it will be the best move you have ever done. Please Out Homies

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Showbread is Showdead

showbrad is showdeadThis month has had some ups and downs for me. My favorite band for the last decade has put out another rad album, but it is the last album that they are doing. I have been a faithful fan of Showbread since I first heard the album No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical. The radical and thoughtful lyrics have dug me out of many tight spots in life, sharpened my faith and even inspired me in many different art projects. For the fans of No Sir, the new album titled Showbread is Showdead is on par is with the beloved album that came out in 2004. If you are a fan, you can stream if for free on Spotify, or purchase a digital copy of the album at showbread.net.

This album was a good start to 2016, so may Raw Rock kill you forever and ever! Amen!


How an anarchic punk rock spirit led me to the Holy Spirit: How it still fights!

I’m like any other punk rock dude right now, I grew up, got married, had a child and have found that the things I learned through punk rock music continue to inform my thinking and help me make sense of the world. I want to share this with my daughter, my friends, and my family what I have learned from both my faith and punk ethics daily. The two of these intertwined have assisted in helping me come to several conclusions about my spirituality that are presumably far outside of the norm of contemporary Christian culture.

This probably isn’t all to surprising, but what may be, is that I am convinced that the combination of these ideas informing my head, heart and hands has led me back to the heart of Scripture. Several punk bands, now and then, have several points worth reflecting on if you are a follower of Jesus Christ in the Western world.

I did not grow up in a religious family, and viewed that the many failed attempts of it that I saw from family 261px-Bad_Religion.svgor people I knew were just a facet to call themselves better people in life while making some vary piss poor choices in life. I grew up very much introverted (shy), and was very afraid of breaking the balance the world set so I can just passively get by in life.My early childhood I stayed plugged in and zoned out but, I remember the first time I saw a crossbuster, I was in junior high. Even then I knew that there was something very provocative about this emblem. I quickly came to realize that this design was associated with the punk band,  Bad Religion. A name, equally, as provocative.

As I said I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but I saw how the name of this band, and the image were overtly offensive to the community I have interacted with. I didn’t find these things offensive, In fact,it made me curious as I to was also starting to form my own thoughts and was starting to be against the idea of religion. I thought, that this music was enticing to me. Fast, aggressive riffs and rhythm along side well-harmonized and thought provoking lyrics. (As a result, my music collection in life was quickly filled with punk bands over the years such as the Sex Pistols, Blink 182, The Clash, The Ramones, Nofx, MxPx, Against Me, ect.)

I can understand cynicism from the band. When I read signs that state, “God Bless America,” I wonder, why us? What’s so special about this Country? What do we do, that would want to make this Almighty God want to bless this country? There is a stigma that has evolved not only here in the West but in the minds of people all over the world that Christianity is distinctly tied to Western ideas and an affluent, unsustainable lifestyle(Pick it signs, need for guns, hating others who live in sin) . If that is what Christianity is then I agree with Bad Religion; it deserves  to be ridiculed. But could it be that the intentions of the Scriptural story and legacy of the early Church had a whole other intent besides Christendom?

obeyTo continue on, later in my late teens I was conflicted with repressing my feelings due to a custody battle between my parents. The young teen John, who was skipping school, fighting, stealing and causing all sorts of trouble, now was locked away, living with my father and hiding these rebellious feelings. I had to obey, I had to do what I was told, not even to be a better person in life, but what appeared to be a status quo for my dad. He wanted to look like a good parent, and I had to abandon my punk rock spirit for the next couple of years. I had seen how my dad, a man, a mortal, somehow was able to trump the justice system many different times. I love my dad and he is a better man now, but what he had shown me was the the justice system was garbage and the false religion I was seen burnt me up. I hated politics and I hated Christians.

Being a teenager trying to find my identity while fighting the identity that my dad was forcing up on me, led to many different struggles in my life. We were poor and somewhat trashy and the hypocrisy from “Christian” teens was downright cruel. As I being a teenage boy barely weighing 100 lbs and afraid of being overpowered by my father I, retaliated the best way I could. I fought back, but verbally. I learned how to really jam the planks in these kids eyes as they try to mention that I was sinning and going to hell.  Why would I even believe that there was a God, when half of his people were mean, evil, hypocritical, and even at times ashamed to be called a Christian in front of their friends. I learned their words and was able to reverse their scriptures back at them at times. I was just as cruel at times.I was always thinking “You call yourselves Christians but you are told to love me, and yet you treat me like I’m dirt.”

I don’t know about you, but this bothers me thinking back on this. How did a religion that started in the Middle East, around the message and life of a poor man develop into an ideology of elitism?  My story then shifts a few years later as I fought with my dad on my identity. I accepted my place in the household but even when I tried to live to his standards, I did not feel loved. This ended up turning me back to my punk rock craves. I started hanging out with some of the other punks, skaters, and outcast at school. These friend accepted me. They loved me and some of them today are still some of my best friends in life.

My dad had sought out church while I was going through all this. I obeyed and we all went as a family. I sat around people that I scorn and hated. (because I know Christians. They are all fake.) However a large group of these punks and outcast kids were claiming to Be Christians and I for some reason believed that their hearts were true with what they thought they believed and I started to trust them. I started to see these kids in the church and while I didn’t particularity like church or cared about the message, I hated being at home even more, so I jumped on every opportunity to go to church on Sunday and Wednesday nights. This was guaranteed time away from home, because I would use the old trick of playing to my dad’s image against him if he wouldn’t let me go.

10392080_101788096499090_2735649_nOne evening my dad picked me up after track practice and  had to meet with the pastor of the church. As I sat in the pews of the church, a group of southern Baptist women called me over and started the cute elderly ways of trying to reach out to the youth. Conversation led to the fact that I liked acting, and was asked to be a part of their Easter program. Hey, I liked acting and it would get me out of the house, so I said yes. It didn’t matter to me that I was faking my faith, I was given another way to get out of the house. Great the women said as they inviting the 16 year old, long haired, emaciated, teenage atheist to the team. “We have the perfect role for you……..John the Baptist!” (You really thought they were going to give me the role of Jesus, didn’t you?) Great, I get to leave the house more, really had no lines to memorize, and get to slide more into this church environment undetected of being a poser.

Little did I know that God was working here. Two weeks before the Easter program, the dude playing Jesus bails. (I recently asked my youth leader and we have no clue who was playing Jesus) Well as it turns out these ladies had an emaciated, long haired teenage actor, already in the cast, and really how important in John the Baptist in this story? (BAM, Gothca!) These women just asked the atheist, to play Jesus freaking Christ, their Load and Savior, their Messiah, their Son of God, for the Church’s Easter program. (What the HELL where thinking. What the HELL was I thinking.) I‘m tying so hard to fit in, so how could I not take the part.(Plus my ego said, its the lead role!!!) I had a pretty good grasp of most the bible from Sunday school and some of my previous encounters of being an a-hole to Christians in the past, but I always avoided the fairy tales of the Gospels. I knew, rules and laws, and proverbs and the practical stuff in the Bible, but I did not know anything about Jesus other than the fact that he WAS a real dude, and the events in which took place WHERE real.

I read the “big four” over the next couple of weeks and it meant nothing to me. I still did not care. My mind was made up, and I will someday get to live my life free from anyone controlling me and telling me what to do. I just needed to obey and get though school. Easter Sunday roles around and we began. (If any of the women in this production read this I apologize in advance but you really were not that great at acting. I love you all but this is the facts.) The poor overacting and fumbling over some lines made me only mildly nervous, but I was not prepared for what was to come next. As I come down the aisle painted up to look bloody, the real whip (WHY? ITS A CHURCH PROGRAM!) came around and made contact on my tiny little fragile teenage body. I came crashing down, heavy oak cross and all into the corner of a pew and hit my head, and got as gnarly rug burn on my knee. I was embarrassed and crying and in pain and humiliated, and uncomfortable, and scared and for the first time in my life realized that I know for a fact that Jesus was a man, and that he was staked to a cross because he believed he was the son of God, and was paying the price for our sins, and for the first time in years I felt loved. What if this was real, what if Jesus died for my sins because he loved me. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by people, and was feeling the same feeling as I was. I had no doubt in my mind that God was real and that Jesus was his Son and he died for me. I didn’t know what any of that meant, but I was relieved inside.

I have been a follower of Christ for over a decade now, and I will say that I had had my regretful fallouts, and ups and downs and even tried to do live a few years without God’s help and ran away while he was calling me. Through my on again off again years when I’m on fire I’m vary much fall into the radical evangelical Christian category. I  have seen the evangelical movement over the year struggle to survive and grow. This spirit comes very much from my rebellious punk rock fight in me. To truely understand this movement means you have to try to understand the core passion of why this movement started in the first place.

titleJohn’s brief History lesson:
In the twentieth century, American Christianity seemed to propose two approaches to the challenges of modernity:

  1.  freely revise traditional beliefs to fit the mold of “modern progress;”
  2.  fortify against modern culture and hurl grenades from a distance.

A really small band of fundamen6a00d8341bffb053ef0147e2ce92a9970b-500witalists felt both these options were super lame and bad. So they left the walls of fundamentalism with no plan other than to share their faith with as many people as possible. This movement was organic, chaotic, and very exciting. Example:Billy Graham electrified millions with his simple, radical message of grace and new life as a “born-again” Christian. In his path followed evangelical organizations like Youth With A Mission, Campus Crusade For Christ, and InterVarsity, which converted and empowered hordes of teens and college students for the cause. (Think of it like a Jesus zombie bite! Hordes of student converting fast and spreading it to others! GNARLY Right!)

 

This new exciting movement was pure anarchic — punk-rock-like — in its willingness to reinvent the church for the sake of the mission. So Punk rock that these Evangelicals left old buildings with stained glass and pews and set up overhead projectors and folding chairs in warehouses, basements, and hotel lobbies. (Think Garage Band like) In the process, they created one of the most dynamic and influential Christian movements in history.

To go back to the Punk element of the post. The criticism of Christianity voiced by punk artists such as Bad Religion can seem appalling to some, but it can also be interpreted as prophetic. Just as the prophets of old testament challenged the people of God to turn from their idolatrous ways, punk rock has often challenged Christians to do the same. The Kingdom of God is not aligned with a particular nation state. Who do we follow? The god of affluence and consumer capitalism? Or the God of the Kingdom Jesus announced? The punk rock spirit in me working side by side with the Holy Spirit makes me have to ask these types of questions! I know it seems radical at times, but it is either me evangelize or throw bricks through the courthouse windows.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

Who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

Love You All!

-Johnny J


Does my art share my worldview? Is it authentic?

“Good” art is a powerful expression of the artist’s worldview. The fact is that every artistic expression carries something of a worldview, whether or not the artist or audience is aware of it. This is the view that Francis Schaeffer expresses in his book “Art and the Bible”. Schaeffer lays out four categories by which he believes art can be judged and qualified:

  1. Technical excellence (How awesome the skills are)
  2. Validity (the reasons which the artist had for creating, i.e. is it a work honest to the artists interests, purposes and worldview or is it done only to be a commercial success)
  3. Worldview (is it right or wrong)
  4. Suitability of form to content (does the vehicle convey the message?)

Judging an artist’s worldview as right or wrong is not rad and would obviously be frowned upon by our society’s relativistic worldview, but as Schaeffer stands firmly on a Christian worldview, he holds the Bible as his absolute reference and a standard by which all worldviews are to be measured. The category of “validity” is what I’d like to focus on here. Is my art true to my worldview? Is it authentic?

Once we understand how deeply our worldview (whatever it may be) molds our lives, decisions, words, actions and artistic expression, we realize that there is no such thing as neutrality in art. Most contemporary art expresses the predominant worldview of our society. This worldview has its roots in Nihilism and then by a leap of empty faith has reached an idealistic belief in man and his ability to evolve, and to find love and happiness. It is marked by materialism, relativism, so called “tolerance”, but mainly narcissism. An example of this narcissism is the monotone story telling influenced in blockbuster movies, in which the main character turns out to be a uniquely special individual on whom the world’s fate depends. It is the superman complex, a worldview void of any real purpose or meaning in life.

On the other hand, a Christian artist has the power to communicate an entirely different and rad worldview. In fact, considering the predominance and oppressive nature of the worldview expressed in most mainstream and alternative art, I believe that every Christian artist has the responsibility to authentically express his worldview, as a light in a dark world.

“Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person as a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life.” (Francis Schaeffer, Art & the Bible)

The Christian worldview is based on a personal knowledge of, and relationship with, God, the Creator himself. It is founded on the Bible and God’s awesome redemption story. Therefore a Christian worldview is Christ-centered and focused on the Cross. So if I am truly a follower of Jesus, if he is truly at the center of my life, and I truly believe that I am only alive because of his death and his resurrection, then my whole life, including my art, will be drenched in this truth.

Therefore, if we look at a Christian artist’s work as a whole and find nothing of the character of God or His redemption story, then we might question if this artist is being true to his worldview, or if his worldview is that of someone who has truly encountered Christ.

As an artist, I have the power to strongly communicate anything that I want. If art is never neutral, then I must ask myself what message my art is communicating. For instance, if I say I only create art for art’s sake, then my message is that art is the most important thing in my life. The predominance of a worldview void of purpose or real hope, in all relating of contemporary art makes it all the more important for Christian artists to be authentic and true to their Cross-centered and redemptive worldview.

As a Christ follower, my art is aligned with my worldview and I would have to say that my work is true and authentic.