Marriage is organic. It is either growing or dying. A stagnant marriage doesn’t mean it is really staying the same. If not intentional you run the risk of your marriage slowly decaying until you look back and wonder what happened. With Valentine’s Day around the corner it is a great time to get intentional about growing in your relationship. Don’t become complacent!




WHAT IF GOD DESIGNED MARRIAGE TO MAKE US HOLY MORE THAN HAPPY? Often our expectations of our spouse to meet our needs is unrealistic. They are not to be our ultimate provider. This book is for any couple serious about putting God first in their marriage. It will challenge you to grow both in your faith and in your marriage.








THIS IS A GREAT BOOK ON COMMUNICATION. Understanding your spouse will result in you being more connected. Understanding your spouses ‘love language” will help you maximize your efforts in communicating your love to them. This is a must read for every Christian marriage. Will open your eyes to how your spouse ticks and what you need to do to wind them up.







THIS BOOK DIVES HEAD FIRST INTO THE DEPTH OF SCRIPTURE AND WILL CHALLENGE EVERY AREA OF YOUR MARRIAGE TO BE BETTER. Chan writes this with his wife, Lisa, as they explore the answer to how to have a great marriage. This book intersects with real life and deals honestly with the challenges of marriage.








EVERY MAN SHOULD RUN AND PICK THIS BOOK UP AND READ IT AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR. It will revolutionize how the man sees his wife. It will teach you how to cherish your wife in the way God intended. Apply the thoughts in this book and your wife will thank you!








BOUNDARIES ARE CRUCIAL FOR A HEALTHY MARRIAGE. Learn how to freely give yourself to your spouse as you are freed up from expectations and pressure. This book is a fresh breath of air into your marriage. It will challenge your approach and put you on the road to health and intimacy.





If you find these helpful please share with others. Read these and you will reap the benefits of their insight.













While I only met him once, Aaron Carl Torian grew up in the church, Heartland Worship Center (AKA Bible Baptist Church) in Paducah, Kentucky, where I am one of the pastors. I never knew him except for a quick hello here and there but I heard about him often. I heard how he had immense passion for his country and that many of his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan were due to his volunteering. Aaron understood that freedom had a price. He was willing to sacrifice it all to protect that freedom for you and me.

While I’ll never know exactly all that he did, I know that he was a sniper and that his rank was a Master Sergeant. I read how he was named 2005 2nd Marine Division’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for his actions during Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.  I know that he was well respected by all who spoke of him and that he received great honors over his career. The word is on the street that he saved several lives of other soldiers and civilians. That he risked his life for their benefit.

There is a lot I don’t know about Aaron but I do know this… He is a Hero. A hero is someone who gives his or her life to something greater than themselves. That was Aaron. He was adored by his mom and step-dad. Adored by his children. Adored by his church. He is not just a hero because he died doing what he loved, defending our country. He was a hero before that. My guess is all his brothers who served with him would tell you that we in the states only know a small fraction of all the reasons Aaron is a hero. The sacrifices he made. The courage it must have taken to go where he went and to do what he was called to. The brotherhood he shared that very few will ever experience.

I wish I had known him better. I wish I could have spent time with him to see what motivated him. I wish I could have been inspired personally by his passion. To be challenged by his discipline. To be a better person because I spent time with him. When I heard he was killed in service my heart broke as if he were someone very close to me. When heroes die we all feel the weight of it. We know that we have lost someone significant to the very world we know.

Most of all I am thankful for Aaron’s faith. That he put his ultimate trust in Jesus Christ. There is nothing that brings more joy to my heart and to the heart of those who knew Aaron than to know he is now in Heaven. A place where there is no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain. A place that Aaron will be able to rest and enjoy His Lord for all eternity. I will see you one day Aaron and I will be honored to call you a brother and to enjoy the presence of the Lord with you for all eternity. For now I honor you and remember your sacrifice for me and my family. Thanks for reminding me what constitutes being a hero.

To his wife, Jurley, and his children, Elijah, 9, Laura Bella, 4, and Avery, 2, we will do our part to remember well the man you called Husband and Father. Thank you for your sacrifice and know that his memory will live on in the hearts of a nation.


Being from the Memphis area I knew about Graceland, but never really had a desire to go visit it. I knew Elvis to be a legend and have always respected the influence he had on music. I even like some of his songs. Graceland was just not something that I desired to go and see.

My wife, on the other hand, loves historical places and really wanted to see Elvis’ home. I surprised her with a trip into Memphis and tickets to Graceland, I knew I earned major points with the wife for taking her there but I was unprepared for what God had waiting to show me through the experience.

First, a little about Graceland. Elvis bought the property when he was only 22 years old for 100,000 dollars in the 1950’s. He later added everything from a horse ranch to a racquetball court. The style of the décor was extreme even for the 60s and 70s. Bright color, shag carpet, and a variety of strange wall and ceiling décor abound.

His house represented his persona, he was original, perhaps more than any artist before or after him. And because of his extreme musical talent and good looks, almost everyone caught the King fever. He was a legend before he was 30. To put it in perspective, Elvis had 114 songs make the Top 40 billboard charts. The Beatles had 50. This will probably floor you but the artist closest to Elvis is Lil Wayne with 64. That absolutely shocked me. Elvis is arguably the most successful musician ever to live. It is estimated that Elvis has sold more than 1 billion records worldwide, no one even comes close to that. No doubt a Legend among Legends.

What smacked me in the face from my time at Graceland was the absolute fact that money and fame will not buy you happiness. The tour could have been called “Elvis’ Journey to Find Happiness.” Throughout the progressions and brief digression of his career, you see a man who came to have everything. He was nearly untouchable. Elvis would take his golf cart and drive down the street in front of his house, holding up traffic in the busy heart of Memphis and never be pulled over. Who gets away with a stunt like that! He had mayors eating out of his hand for who he wanted in key positions. He wanted it, he got it. Hundreds of people followed him around ready to serve him.

Yet, it became easier and easier for me to read between the lines of his life as the tour advanced. Elvis was seeking something more, something greater to fulfill him. It alluded him in the money, cars, women, music, fame, houses, family, and power. He turned later to prescription meds to dull the disillusionment. None of this fulfilled his restlessness.

He had everything but seemed a pauper in spirit. I do not claim to know the heart of Elvis or where he stood with God. What I do know is he won only two Oscars and both were for gospel songs. He loved to sing gospel music and people loved to hear him do it. Gospel music was in his blood, put there by his parents. Yet, his life seemed to be lived in a way that missed the messages of what he loved to sing.  He was looking for something greater and it was in his favorite songs the whole time. His first Oscar was for his rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” They were playing it in the room during the tour, where his hundreds of gold records were plastered on the wall. I heard Elvis’ voice crooning these words:

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

We are a lot like Elvis. We sing the songs and hear the messages but do we listen to them? We sing about the power of sin being destroyed in our life by the sacrifice of Christ, but do we still live in a way that looks for happiness in the world?  Does it affect one iota of how we live?

At the end Elvis died of a heart attach due to a drug overdose. I don’t judge him as much as fear I might be like him. Oh it won’t be drugs that I use to cope but it very well might be something else. Something else to help me endure the fact that my pursuit of the things of this world rather than Christ will only lead to heartache and sadness. I will never be a legend like Elvis, except in my own mind.  But I can be on the same vain pursuit of worldly happiness. Like Elvis I will never find  what my soul seeks on this earth… and neither will you, my friend.

Philippians 3:8-11

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.


Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?    Luke 12: 25-26

We waste so many hours worrying about most things that will never even happen. Did you know worry is a sin? It is our vain attempt of controlling things around us and is the opposite of faith in God. Here are three principles to remember about worry:

1) Worry accomplishes absolutely nothing.

I think we worry because it is the closest thing to control that we have. I can make very little really happen in life or stop anything from happening. I can’t control people or time or a doctor’s diagnosis. What I can do is worry. I do this so I feel Inan doingsomething towards the situation. A better alternative would be to pray. Praying is doing something about the situation. When I pray God often does not change my circumstance but He does change my heart to see my situation in a whole different way. Respond to difficulty in life by praying.

When I pray, God often does not change my circumstance but He does change my heart to see my situation through a whole different perspective.

2) Worry has negative effects on you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Stress kills. Worry is not a harmless act. It causes us pain and can lead to serious issues. Don’t just accept worrying as just who you are. God did not intend for you to worry. It. Is destroying you slowly.

3) Worry is the opposite of trusting in God.

When we worry we are saying Lord I don’t know that you got this or I don’t  think you will answer the the way I want you to. Worry is the opposite of responding to life by faith. Closely tied to worry is fear. God did not give us a spirit of fear nor does he want us to be anxious about anything. When things go awry around us we need to respond by faith that God is present in our circumstance and will work it according to His purpose and for our ultimate good.

So for you worriers reading this what are you to do? When you begin to worry don’t try and overcome it by your own effort and willpower. You will ultimately fail. You have to replace your worry with something else. Instead of worrying the Bible tells us to focus in on God’s kingdom.

To not think so much about self preservation but more on kingdom advancement. That will change your life. We don’t need to try and stop worrying about what is happening to us. We need to stop thinking about ourselves so often in the first place. Don’t accept worry as a way of life. God wants you to see the unbelief and futility of worrying.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you 


“Shadows”—- a short story about each of us somewhere along our journey

I wrote this modern day parable as a person living between two worlds. If you are a believer you too live between worlds.


He was lost in thought so he did not notice as  I approached the park bench. The man was a stranger to me but by all accounts he would be similar to the rest I had met at this very place. My presence brought him out of his daydream.

“Mister, mind if I sit here by you? Feet could use a break for a minute or two.”

“Sit, sit. It is a good day to enjoy the view. I was just daydreaming about how good I have it.”

I noticed his pressed suit and straight posture. “Absolutely. You look like you have put in the time and hours it takes to make something of yourself. Nice to see results, correct?”

“I’ve done pretty well for myself.  I have everything I ever set my mind on to get. Health, a good wife, children who worship me, a job that fulfills me, and money in my pocket.”

I nod not out of being impressed but out of confirmation of what is easy to perceive. “Certainly you have everything a man could want. What does a man that has all that do for an encore? If I might ask?”

“Oh it’s fine. I like talking about it. It’s true I have all that I could want but my work is far from over. Far from over. It never really ends to be honest.”

“Really? Why is that? Can you not sit back and enjoy all these things you have worked so hard to get? Seems a shame?”

“Ha! Now of course I can sit back for a moment but only a moment. I could lose what I have if I were to just rest as you say. Only a fool would do that. Plus I could always use more of what I already have. No rest for the weary.”

I gazed at the man, seeing into his soul.  I said, “I see…but you don’t, if I might say so dear sir… you don’t really SEE, that is.”

“I don’t see what… Oh, I got where your going with this conversation.” He waved his finger at me in admonition an smiled. “You have flipped this nice chat on me. You mean to trip me up with some philosophy. Saying I don’t see is your way of saying I ‘m a fool in some way. Sounds more like your envious of what I have.”

“Sir, please, I don’t desire to upset you. I simply make a statement of what is very obvious to me. Would you not consider a moment what I have to say?”

The man started to get angry. “And what might be so obvious to you that it would somehow allude my notice then? Let’s hear your angle on what it is you think I don’t see. Be quick about it so I can go back to enjoying my peace and quiet.”

“Well sir I already in fact have made my observation to you. You can’t SEE.”

He stood up, “See? Have you gone mad my friend? What could I possibly not be seeing? I observe everything around me. I am a man of detail. This is how I have achieved so much. You think this happened by chance? I am no fool!”

I stayed seated and waited a moment for him to sit back down. “Yes, you have achieved very much. No denying that. And you do see… what you are able. Given your condition and all.”

“Condition? What are you diagnosing me with?”

“Your ability to perceive what is real of course. You think you see but you only see in shadow. It deceives you into thinking you see clearly but you have never seen without the confines of that veil of yours.”

He touched the thin layer of material fixed permanently over his eyes by the metal brace that went from ear to ear. “I can see fine. Deceives me? What shadow? You talk in code to trip me up. What’s your point here?”

“I apologize for upsetting you. Anger is often the reaction I get when confronting a man with such a shocking truth. As I said, you have only ever been able to see in shadow. It’s all you’ve known. You were born that way. And you will die that way… but you don’t have too stay that way.”

“What gibberish is this? I see like every other person. What do you mean I don’t have to stay this way?”

“You don’t have to stay like every other person. You don’t have to see in shadow any longer. You can see everything without that device. You can see in the light, though I warn you, it will shock you to your very core when you do. Things will look very different to you in the light.”

“You are mad! You waste my time with this talk. You going to tell me next you can remove this thing from my eyes? That’s where your going right? Why? So I become a mockery to society and lose everything I hold dear… Oh I do see now. Did you remove yours? Others have done that I hear. Look how they are rejected. Is that what you would have me be… an outcast like you?”

I sat for a moment remembering. The man stirred and brought me back to the moment. “It is hard for me to remember that man I was with the veil still intact. You are correct. My eyes have been uncovered but not by me. I needed someone much greater than me to do that. I was a lot like you once. I knew what it was to have so much. To conquer my world.”

He slowly shook his head at me with a mock smile on his face. “And now? Now, you have lost it all, haven’t you? You wretched man. The misery you have brought on yourself is not enough for you? You need company?”

I shake my head, “But you do not yet understand. I too mocked others who were without the veil. But I could not shake the fact that something was missing in my life. When I would achieve that thing I wanted so desperately, I quickly lost focus of it in need of something greater. It did not hold my sight for long. I was unsettled. Something was not right. There had to be more to life.”

“Unsettled huh? You were not happy with the things you had earned? Why were you not content? What more did you want?”

“It was not wanting more in the way you perceive it now. It was more about realization. Awakening to what all those things really were. They were shadows. Dark, faded things that never brought real joy. No matter how many things I got, the shadows around them never faded. It left me hungering for more than it could give me.”

I had his attention. After a moment he asked, “You must not have been able to secure all the things you once had correct?”

“In that you could not be further from the truth. As I recall I had much, much more than you do now. That was, in fact, when I realized it. It would never matter how much I had. I would never truly SEE. And I would never know the joy I longed for until I could SEE.”

At that we both sat silently for a moment staring ahead. He broke the silence, “Alright, I’ll bite. What did you do?”

“The only desperate thing left to do. I sought help outside man’s understanding and I found it. I found wisdom that showed me the way. The veil from my eyes had to be removed.”

He grabbed the device over his eyes. “That’s crazy man! The pain alone of that? It must have been excruciating! And how could you see clearly without the veil?”

“The pain was immense. It hurt all the way to the depths of my soul. It left a scar that will always be there. My need for the veil was very deep. Everything changed when it was removed. I could no longer see the things the way you perceive them now. The light is bright and it brought these things out of the shadows. Work, money, even family— it all changed for me.”

“What a crazy story you weave. You must have lost your mind? Misery must taunt you. Why would you sacrifice all of this? And why would you tell me about it now as if I want that?”

“Oh, but you miss my point completely. I no longer care the same way for those things. The shadow blinds you to their true nature. Some things have been made beautiful as the shadows are now removed, like my wife and kids. Other things are exposed in all their ugliness. Oh the power of sight! Some of the things I see now are glorious! I would tell you about them but you would call me crazier than you already have. You’ve only known shadow. I’ve seen the sun!”

“But you gave up so much for better clarity? I will admit… You have raised my curiosity. I might even say I’m intrigued. But I could never go through the pain of removing my veil only to know I would be ridiculed by society. To see all that I have gained threatened… It’s too much.”

I stared at him, deep compassion welling up in me. “But friend. What have you really gained? You know only fleeting feelings of happiness. These shadowy things don’t bring you lasting peace. You know I’m right! You know deep down something is missing. You have always known it though you pursue these things still. Will you truly be ok to continue in that delusion of happiness now that you know there might be true joy out there?

He broke eye contact with m then. He started at his feet. “I envy you sir. I thought you were crazy, but you have convinced me you really have found something… Extraordinary. But the cost for me is too great. I cannot remove my veil. To do so promises fears that I cannot begin to face. You have marveled me friend but I cannot do what you have done.”

Like many times before, I knew that I could not make him see it. I sighed, “Then I will take my leave and grieve for you this day. Think on what I have said. You are a man stuck. You will continually seek what your soul longs for but never find it in the shadows.”

He grabbed my rm as I stood. “But sir…sir! Before you depart. May I at least have the name of the one who has talked such mystery to me today?”

I stared at him for an age before I answered. “My name is Surrender and until you walk my path you will never really SEE.”

With that, I walked away to look for another man in the shadow. I would not have to look far as they could be found everywhere on this earth…


Learn from children. They have something to show you about how you should live.

Let me first say that children are precious. God sees children as invaluable. He promises divine retribution to those who hurt children. Civilized society rages against anyone who harms a child. Children must be protected at all costs. That is a timeless principle.

Now what can we learn from these precious children. Children don’t worry. They don’t worry about tomorrow, or health, or social status, or anything else that plagues adults with stress and worry. Kids just trust. Sure this trust can be misplaced. That’s why we have to protect them. But they trust those who love them. You teach them early about God and they will remind you of how awesome God is.

My six year old constantly let’s me know that no one measures up to God. God is stronger, taller, the best vegetable eater, greatest basketball player, colorer, bed-maker, and the cleanest entity in all the universe. God is His hero. He trusts Him with complete abandon. No questions asked. And my son expects me to do the same.

Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

That is telling! Children trust and we should trust too: feet first, all in, no holding back. Children don’t worry because they believe that someone capable will take care of their needs. Adults, it’s time for us to quit stressing and trust the Heavenly Father, who is more than capable, to take care of us.

I dedicate this post to Children’s Pastors and Directors, to Children and Nursery workers, to churches that help children in need, to programs like Jumpstart that shows the love of Christ in concrete action to kids. To all those who sacrifice so that children can learn more about their God.