Treat your wife like you would your golf club


For anyone who has ever learned to play golf, you know how tough it is to learn how to get your swing down.  When you’re trying to do it, there are a million things you’re trying to remember all at once in order to do it right…keep my arm straight, head down, back straight, bend my knees, wait…not that much, don’t swing too hard, what was the first thing again???  One way that helps to learn is to practice a lot focusing on one area at a time until you get it down.  Once that happens, it becomes second nature, and you no longer have to think about THAT thing and you can add in the next.

Loving your wife well can also be very difficult.  And learning to do it right can be taught the same way.  If you don’t feel you do a good job with loving her now, it can be a little overwhelming trying to think through all the things you need to do

  • tell her you love her regularly
  • buy her gifts to show her you value her
  • compliment how she looks
  • be a spiritual leader for her
  • spend time together (alone) on dates or vacations
  • show physical affection (that’s not sex)
  • surprise her by doing things around the house that she normal would
  • etc.

This list is only a small fraction of what loving your wife can look like.  So, how are you supposed to remember it all??  The answer is…you can’t!  Just like swinging a golf club, there is no way I can remember every thing I need to do in the 2 seconds it takes to swing.  However, with enough practice, I don’t have to think about each of the steps, and I’m able to do it automatically.

My advice to you:

If you have areas where you’re not doing a good job loving your wife, don’t try to do it all at once.  Rather, think about focusing on one thing at a time.  If you keep your focus small it’s much easier to remember and to do it right.  Then, after you have created a habit and are able to do it without thinking, add in something else.  Eventually you’ll be able to remember all the things you want to because they will be habits you don’t even need to think about.  So…the question is what ONE area are you going to focus on first??

It’s good to spoil your wife sometimes

IMG_1308Sometimes Julia and I have different opinions about how we should spend our money.  That doesn’t mean we always do what I want.  And it doesn’t mean we always do what she wants.  We try to make large decisions together, but ultimate we have decided that finances are my area of responsibility…meaning I have to make the final call.  So…when we’re not on the same page about something big, it’s bound to lead to conflict.

So, rewind to last year when Julia discovered the musical Hamilton.  It was new on Broadway and got amazing reviews and a lot of hype.  Julia instantly became obsessed with it…not in an unhealthy way…but simply meaning, she thought it was amazing and wanted to go see it SO much.  So, she made sure I was aware of her desire, but all I could see was large dollar signs.  First off, you can’t buy tickets for any shows in the next year because they’re sold out.  So, you have to buy resale tickets costing several hundreds of dollars a piece.  Plus, we’d have to fly to New York, stay in the city, and eat in the city…all of which are very expensive activities.  Not to mention getting around and all the other sight-seeing we’d end up doing.  This cost added to the fact that we’ve been to New York a couple times before led to me NOT wanting to do it.

After resigning herself to the disappointment that we would not be going, she was able to share her heart with me.  Musicals have always had a special place in her life.  Growing up, her family would go see musicals at The Fox downtown and she had such great memories of listening to the recordings, reading through all the programs, and remembering the fun her family had.  One of her dreams has always been to see a musical on Broadway with the original cast.  So…enter the obsession with Hamilton.

Now, to give perspective…Julia doesn’t ask for much.  She spends hardly any money on herself.  She doesn’t have expensive tastes…a BIG shopping trip means a few things from Target…half of which are eventually returned.  I have it pretty easy…and I am very aware of this.  :-)  So I started to think…it would be a great way to love Julia if we DID go!  Add that to the fact that giving gifts is one of her top love languages, and I started to realize that this could be a great opportunity.

IMG_1360So, we did it!  The tickets weren’t cheap, but I felt a lot better when I found out later (after the Grammy’s and Oscar’s) that they were selling for double what we paid.  Also, we found ways to get great deals on a hotel and most of the places we ate, so the cost wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  And you know what…it was an awesome trip!  We both had the best time…not just going to the show, but also seeing different areas of the city that we’d never been to before.  I was so glad we took the trip…even though I didn’t want to do it at first.

My advice to you:

Spoil your wife every once in a while.  It doesn’t have to be with an expensive trip.  It could be something like making the kid’s lunches for a week, or doing all the laundry sometime when she’s away, or taking her out to eat at a nicer than normal restaurant.  Find something that your wife will not expect but will LOVE…suck it up…and make it happen!  :-)

Four magic words to reach your wife’s heart…

4-wordsI could give you a list of a thousand phrases that would make your wife upset at you.  I often stumble across them by accident. :-)  So, every once in a while, when I say something good, I try to remember it.  I’ve realized one phrase that stands out to me as always reaching my wife’s heart.  Four magic words that I can say to her…”what do you think?

Why is this phrase magic?  For a few reasons…

1: It shows I care about her.  By asking what she thinks, I am letting her know that it matters what she thinks and I WANT to know what it is…so her opinion can be part of the decision making process.

2: I’m acknowledging the fact that what she says has value.  The fact that I’m asking what she thinks means I anticipate substance from her response.  This lets her know that her words have meaning and that our marriage is a partnership rather than a dictatorship.

3: I’m admitting that I need help.  Nothing good comes from thinking I can do everything on my own.  Asking for my wife’s input is a small step toward relying on someone else.

Something I’ve realized after 13 years of marriage is that Julia is very wise.  In many areas she is wiser than I am.  In any given circumstance, I have a tendency to make a quick appraisal of the situation and come to a conclusion about the best way to address it.  Once I’ve decided what to do, everything else seems wrong.  However…I’m not always right.  I’ve found that asking Julia’s opinion often opens me up to new perspectives that I hadn’t considered.

My advice to you:
Don’t make decisions on your own.  Even if it’s something you’ve decided that you are the one “responsible for”, ask what your wife thinks.  Let her know that her opinions have value and you never know when you may be surprised by an idea that’s better than yours.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received…

IMG_0597I need to be an amazing husband.  Seriously…I do.  I only get one chance to do it right and so much relies on it.  Of course I’m referring to the importance of treating my wife right, leading her in a Godly way, and making her feel loved and supported for who she is.  And also for encouraging her when she needs it and challenging her to be the person God is leading her to be.  But, there is another HUGE reason why my actions are so important.  It’s because future generations are relying on what I do!

Eli, my 8 year old son, sees everything I do.  Every day I see more and more ways that he is JUST like me.  The way I pronounce grapes, grAH-pehys.  The way I make up silly songs about random things.  The way I wake up early in the morning excited to “live life!”  He sees all this and imitates what I do.  His opinion about Julia is the same as well.  When I say, “Eli, did you know your mommy is the greatest mommy in the whole world?!?”, he doesn’t miss a beat and responds with, “YEAH…she is THE BEST!!”  The things I think are cool…he always thinks are cool too.  When we vote for “family member of the day”, Julia ALWAYS wins because we stack the votes.  Of course this does make board games more difficult.  It’s tough to win Sorry when you are ALWAYS the one who gets “sorry’d”.  But, I love it!  :-)  The way I treat Julia is emulated step-for-step by him.

I got one of the best compliments I’ve ever had the other day.  One of my friends has a daughter Eli’s age and they’re great friends.  We like to joke about, “what if they get married some day, wouldn’t that be so cool?”  And of course, no guys want to think about their little girl getting married.  No boy is going to be good enough for them…right??  The comment he made surprised me.  He said, “if Eli treats her the way that Michael treats Julia, then I’d be good with it.”  I teared up a little at that.  Not only did I appreciate the compliment, but it was a sobering reminder to me of the weight that my role as a husband and father has.  How I love Julia will not just impact her, but also whoever Eli marries many  years from now.

And it’s not just a son that will see and learn from you.  Daughters will learn what a man should be like.  How you are will affect what they look for in a guy when they’re old enough to date.  And your friends will learn from the example you set too.  And all of these people will have the ability to affect the next generation in THEIR lives.  So, the impact have grows exponentially…for good or for bad.

My challenge to you:

Take your role as a husband seriously.  Not only is it important in caring for your wife, but other eyes are watching.  Your sons will emulate you.  Your daughters will learn what a man should be like.  Your friends will be subtly influenced as well.  Don’t be a lazy or selfish husband and let that be passed along to the next generation!

Rewarding kids for character…not results

View More: of the most difficult challenges Julia and I face is how in the world do we raise a kid right?  It is SO tough!  When you see other people, you get a million different examples of what to do.  But, even with the best intentions and the greatest plan, living that plan out consistently on a daily basis is exhausting and doesn’t guarantee good results!

One of the things we try to focus on A LOT is teaching Eli to have good character.  It’s a difficult thing to teach…especially to an 8 year old.  When I hear him share about his day with things like, “I told ____ that I was smarter than him because I’m in the gifted program” or I see how he bosses other kids around when playing with them, it makes me cringe.  As we work with him on things, I am constantly reminding myself “remember what YOU were like and the tactless things you said and did when YOU were 8!”  That helps me to have perspective and not get too frustrated, but I don’t want that to prevent us from setting the bar high.

So, one of the things we struggle with is…how do we encourage good character rather than good results.  Whenever Eli accomplishes something good (winning an award, good report card, etc), we always make sure to let him know how proud we are of him.  However, we go out of our way to remind him how much we love him just for who he is…not for whatever he accomplished.  As much as it sounds cliche, I would MUCH rather him get last place in a swim meet having given it his all with a great attitude than get first place and be rude to others or not have tried hard.  Swimming is just swimming, but what I’m concerned about is his HEART, not his results.

I believe by focusing too much on results, that sends the message that WITHOUT the results they are not loved or appreciated.  That tells them, it’s not THEM that you love, but rather it is what they can do.  But character is something that will define them for the rest of their lives.  By nurturing that now, it can be something that stays with them forever.

Recently we had a great day with Eli.  He came home from school with a perfect report card.  Of course, we were excited about it and told him we were proud.  Then, after school he had a tennis lesson.  To give you the background…we’ve had a tough time at tennis lessons recently.  He has been prone to goofing off, not paying attention, and being silly.  IMG_0934This has been frustrating to the coach and us and we’ve been trying to work with Eli on realizing it and making changes.  So on this day, he had a FABULOUS lesson.  He was focused, respectful to the coach, and made an huge effort to be encouraging to the other kids there whenever they were hitting.  After the lesson, the coach specifically mentioned how awesome Eli did and how kind and respectful he was.  We were SO happy!  It gave us such joy to see and hear that.  Later than night, Julia and I decided we wanted to reward him for his amazing day, but rather than do it for the good grades he achieved, we wanted to reward him for the awesome character and behavior he showed at tennis.  So, I left him a note and a pack of Pokemon cards for him to find when he woke up…as a reward for the kindness he showed.

My advice to you:

The next time your kid achieves something good, make sure to praise them.  But, make sure they know that you love them and are proud of them even without that accomplishment.  And when you see them showing good character, try to praise them even more.

What is a Love Tank and how does it affect me?

love-tank-logo-300x297Imagine your wife is holding a large bucket filled to the top with water.  Now imagine that water level is directly correlated to how loved she feels from you…it is her love tank.  That’s awesome because the bucket is totally full!  :-)  She’s happy, you’re happy…everything is awesome!  But, after a bit of time you forget to clean the dishes like you promised and the bucket gets bumped and some of the water splashes out.  That’s ok…there’s still a lot of water in it and she’s still feeling pretty loved.  But, a little later, you let her know that you told the guys you would go out with them…but forgot to make sure she was cool with it.  Uh oh…more water gets knocked out.  Then, you make a comment about an outfit she’s wearing and a bunch of water spills out.  Well…now she’s down to very little water in the bucket.  And remember what the water is correlated with?…how loved she feels!  So, now that her tank is about empty, she’s not feeling the love anymore.  Life’s not so awesome now.

So to fix this, an easy solution is to just tiptoe around life and make sure not to “bump the water bucket”…right????  Just be really careful that you don’t mess anything up and you’ll be good?????  Unfortunately there is one more detail in this love tank.  There are small holes poked in the bottom.  So, even if you don’t knock any water out…it will still slowly disappear.  

Fortunately, you have the ability to replace water in the tank.  You do this by showing your wife love (gifts, service, physical touch, kind words, spending time together…see my previous post for info on 5 love languages if you’re not familiar).  What is it that makes your wife feel loved?  Telling her something you admire about her, going out on a date, cooking dinner for her, buying her a new pair of earrings?  When you do these things, you help put water back in her tank.  

Do you KNOW what fills up your wife’s tank?  Don’t just assume it’s buying her a box of chocolates.  That may not actually mean as much to her as you think.  Sit down and ASK her, “what fills up your love tank?”  It’s an easy question and should be easy for her to answer.  Chances are she will want to know about you also, which is great because…YOU’VE GOT A BUCKET TOO!  The more each of you know about what fills up each other’s love tanks…the better you’ll be able to keep them filled.  

My challenge to you:

Low Bucket Syndrome (or LBS) is a condition that NO ONE wants their wife to have.  Luckily it is 100% preventable by YOU!  In order to prevent, you need to consciously be working on it.  Know what fills her tanks and always be finding ways to fill it up.  Also, it does help if you don’t knock water out.  :-)

Am I being frugal or being selfish??

979583-scroogeI am an interesting mix of selfishness and selflessness.  I have alternately been called both a cheapskate and extremely generous.  I have been known to go to great lengths to get the lowest price when buying something.  I try to never make eye contact when I see a beggar with a jar on the street or a girl scout with cookies outside of Kroger.  The majority of my clothes come from the clearance section of Old Navy.  As if Old Navy isn’t cheap enough…the CLEARANCE section…yeah…I know!  But, I also love paying for someone else’s groceries at the store, supporting someone going on a mission’s trip, or giving away something from our house to someone who can use it more.  I try to justify this dichotomy by calling it “being frugal” which enables me to have the finances to be more generous at other times.  But, I would simply be lying to myself…I am being selectively selfish plain and simple.  I earned MY money and I want to keep as much of it as I can.

I’m not sure exactly why I am selfless only half of the time, but I want it to be all of the time.  I feel this is an area God has really been challenging me in.  I’m trying to see opportunities to BLESS other people…through my time and money.  In the past, I’ve generally looked for ways to donate money, give a gift, or pay for a bill for someone.  But, I’ve been challenged to be giving to others in a new way recently…the way I buy things.  

Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • If I need a new roof for my house, it would seem prudent to get 10 different quotes, then pit them all against each other and get my favorite company to beat whatever the cheapest other price was.  This would result in hopefully good work at the cheapest bare bones price I could get.  Frugal…right???
  • If I need a new car, shop around…find what I want…and get a bunch of different quotes on it.  Then, come up with some strategies of demanding an even lower price and act like I’m going to go down the street instead…hoping that they take the bait and give me the price I want.
  • If I find a piece of furniture on Craigslist that I want, I usually try to offer them a little less than what they are asking.  Because…they usually will take it and then I don’t have to pay as much!
  • Or, if I have something I don’t need and could possibly get $200 for it, I will try to sell it in a way that maximizes the profit.

I have felt God challenging me to change my perspective in areas like this.  If I can be generous with my spending, I’m not wasting money…I’m getting something at a great price and blessing someone on top of it!  So, here’s what I’m trying to do in these scenarios now…

  • Get a few roof quotes to determine a good company, then pay them what they ask as long as it is reasonable.
  • If I know what car I want, let the salesman tell me the price…giving them a chance to lower it some from the original listed price (as they always do), and pay it without further haggling.
  • If someone is selling something on Craigslist that I want…buy it.  If it is a super-good deal already, possibly pay them more than they’re asking just to bless them.
  • If I have something to sell, go ahead and sell it, but err on the side of asking less than it is worth.  This way, it is much easier on me to get rid of it…PLUS…I’m able to bless someone else by giving them a great deal!  Or even better…just give it away!! :-)

Sure, sometimes I think…”what if I could have saved another $500 by doing some aggressive car haggling??  The CEO and stockholders at Ford don’t need another $500 from me!”  But, that’s the selfish way of justifying it.  In reality…sure SOME of that profit will go to corporate higher-ups…but most of it will go to the salesman who is working hard to try and support his family and the support staff around him that helps manage the business of selling cars.  These are real people with real families to support.  Real people that I have been trying my best to keep from earning a living by trying to get a car at the absolute lowest price possible.

I am a Christian, which means I want to model my life after Jesus Christ.  My hope is that people will see me and see the actions of Jesus through what I do.  Jesus’s life was about sacrificing himself, giving to others, and loving others.  So, how does that look when I spend my efforts trying to selfishly keep more for me?  What will cause a non-believer to see my life and want to follow Jesus?  Being a stingy and excessively frugal person?  Or being a generous and excessively giving one?

Could I have “overspent” on getting a new roof?  NO…not if my perspective is that I paid a great price and then generously donated to bless someone above and beyond that.  If I can adopt this attitude, then I every time I buy ANYTHING, I’m getting the best deal possible.

Being wasteful vs being generous:

All this being said…there is a big difference between wasteful spending and generous spending.  I DO feel we have a duty to be responsible with the money God has given us.  Spending more money than necessary is not always being generous…sometimes it is just wasteful.  Using utilities (water, electric, gas) that you don’t need is not “blessing the water supply company”…it is wasting a resource.  Buying a new set of dishes and throwing away the old ones is a waste.  However…buying a new set of dishes and GIVING away the old ones can be generous.  I’m not advising boycotting and instead trying to find the most expensive store when you need to buy something.  And I’m not advising buying things you don’t need just to stimulate the economy.  That’s just silly.  But, if you’re going to get something, there is a difference between…buying at the lowest price available…and going to significant lengths to get the ABSOLUTE lowest price that borders on the company or person providing that product or service receiving little or nothing in return.  Remember…whoever has made that product or is providing that service is a person too.  If God has blessed you, don’t be hesitant to bless them in turn.

This is something I feel God challenging me in.  My purpose in writing this is not to make anyone feel guilty about the way they are.  This is something I STRUGGLE with and merely want to pass along my thoughts.

**Disclaimer** – I used “I” a lot here.  This is not a reflection of thinking that I do what I want in terms of spending.  Julia and I are both responsible for making financial decisions. I say “I” because I don’t want to lump her in with my selfish struggles.  I just wanted to make sure that was clear.  :-)

My challenge to you:

Anytime you buy something, try to have the perspective of…you ARE buying it at a great price, and anything you spend above that price is you being generous in blessing someone else.  Put less effort and time into seeking a deal and more time into loving and blessing others.

A well balanced marriage


Something I always challenge myself in is finding ways to show Julia I love her.  Often, this results in some method of serving her…doing something so she doesn’t have to: unloading the dishwasher, putting Eli to bed when it’s “her turn”, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.  She does the same for me too.  When I come back from a business trip, she goes out of her way to have a nice home-cooked meal and family time.  She also takes care of me in ways I don’t think about or sometimes even realize (changing sheets & towels, grocery shopping, changing out my toothbrush…I’d probably be using a 4 year old brush if she didn’t do that).

All these things are great, but I think an important aspect of this is to keep balance in it.  I don’t mean being able to stand on one foot.  I mean…sharing the load, helping each other, and never doing too much of any one thing.  I wrote a post a while ago here about the importance of sitting down to discuss who is responsible for which jobs around the house.  I think this is a VERY important step to do.  You don’t want all work to fall on one person.  And you don’t want frustration to grow due to resentment or misunderstood expectations.  So, discussing this is critical.  But, even though you decide your wife is “responsible for” a given job, it is a good idea for you to pitch in every once in a while.

Julia is responsible for planning our meals.  But, every once in a while, I like to surprise her by planning something instead.  Maybe when she’s had a busy day I will suggest, “hey, why don’t we have ___ for dinner tonight?  I can run to the store after work, then will cook it while you relax…is that cool?”  Or when the trash is getting full and I haven’t taken it out yet (my job), she doesn’t hound me about it, she just takes it out herself.  But, she’s not bitter about it, she doesn’t grumble and complain, she just does it as a way to help ME out with my job.

Balance is important in ALL aspects of life.  Physical exercise is great.  But, if you do it every day at the expense of time with your family, it may not be so great.  Spending time with other guys is great, but if you do that more than spending time with your wife…not great.  Eating healthy is great, but I think I’d go crazy if I never had dessert again.  In the same way, you need to have balance at home.  Learn how to cook, do laundry, clean, take care of the kids, iron…even if you decide she’s the one who is responsible for it, if you know how, you can help from time to time.  Or if she’s sick, you can take over everything without missing a beat while she recovers.

My advice to you:

First, make sure you’ve had discussions about who does what in your family.  Then, guys, anything that is your wife’s “responsibility”, learn how to do it.  And pitch in from time to time so she doesn’t get burned out or feel overwhelmed.

Have a tough time following through on ideas for change? Try this…


Typically I’m pretty good at following through on things.  Julia always says that it amazes her that I can just set my mind to something and then do it.  “I think I’ll build a rock climbing wall in the garage”…done.  “I think I’ll start working out regularly to get in shape”…done.  I’m glad she sees me that way, but there are TONS of things that I want to do but never follow through on.  I always say that when faced with a choice, people will ultimately do what they want to do most.  Picking a movie to watch, you’re going to choose what you want most.  Even if you choose Dirty Dancing…if may not be the movie YOU want to watch, but your desire to please your wife and spend time with her is what outweighs the choice of movie…so ultimately you are still choosing what you want to do most.

So, when I have something I want to change about my life, it is really disappointing to me when I don’t follow through on it.  It tells me that there are other things that I’m choosing instead.  Based on my actions, I can tell you the following about me:

– I prefer keeping my money than giving it to a homeless person on the street.

– I like spending my Saturdays at home as opposed to going out and serving somewhere.

– I would rather NOT spend money on flowers than buy some to give to Julia, even though it makes her feel special.

– I prefer to forget about the idea of teaching my son things and will sit back and let Julia do it.

I am not proud of any of these statements.  But, I have to keep it real and this is what I observe about myself based on what I do.  They are all areas I WANT to make a change in, but have had a tough time figuring out the motivation to do it.

Through the last 2 years of blogging, I have found out something about myself.  I am much more likely to do something after I talk about it.  When I write a post about an area I struggle in or one where I am offering advice on a subject, it brings attention to the issue.  As a result, I think a lot about it.  Also, I’m publicly announcing what I’m working on…or sometimes making statements about what I do or am going to do.  Now…I HAVE to do it!  This is both frustrating and awesome at the same time.  Sometimes I want to be lazy and selfish.  But accountability helps me turn the selfishness into selflessness.

When I wrote about not throwing your wife under the bus or not saying I told you so, it helped remind me to do the same.  When I wrote about the importance of dating your wife and how I need to work on my listening skills, it requires me to get these issues together.  I can’t advise other people on something if I can’t do then myself!  Sometimes the extra motivation and accountability is just what I need to make a change.

However, even then, there are areas I still struggle at.  I wrote about getting your wife flowers, but I still am the worst at this.  I wrote about why it’s so important to be the spiritual leader for your family, but I feel I fall way short at this.  So…it’s all still a work in progress.  But, I will continue to put myself out there even if it means that my failures are more public.  I feel the chance of success is worth the risk of failure.  

My advice to you:

If you have something you want to change in life (the way you treat your wife or kids, the way you spend you time, etc), it can be very helpful to SPEAK it.  I’m not saying you need to start a blog, it can be much simpler than that.  Just talk with your wife or kids or friends about what you want to do differently.  Formulating the idea into words AND telling someone can help immensely.  So if you want to do something…give it a shot!  What is the worst that can happen…you put yourself out there but don’t succeed?  Remember, “failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

Are there TV shows that Christians should NOT watch???


Ok…keeping it real here…I’ve been hesitant to write this post for a while.  For one…I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.  And also…this is a topic where I have a tough time following my own advice.  When I put something out there writing about it, it forces me to hold myself accountable.  To be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to do that!  But…here we go!

Custom-Your-Favourite-Photos-font-b-Posters-b-font-The-font-b-Lost-b-font-fontI like watching TV dramas.  Specifically, I like serial shows that tell one big story over time.  Action is good, suspense is good, and anything with surprises and twists that you don’t see coming is awesome.  Every fall I get excited about the new shows starting…(hoping that one will be the next Lost).  With Tivo and Netflix there is a seemingly endless possibility of shows to try out.  But, I battle with something…are there socially acceptable shows out there that I (as a Christian) should NOT watch?

Philippians 4:8 reminds me, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Does that mean it is a SIN to watch a tv show that is not “pure” or “honorable”?  Because…there is NOT a lot out there that I would consider pure.  And Luke 6:45 tells us, “The good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure in his heart; and the evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil in his heart; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart.”  But, to get better perspective, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:23 that says, ””All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”

So if I’m going to draw an acceptability line based on these concepts…is it “ok” for me to watch Veggie Tales?  I’m going to go out on a limb and say YES.  What about watching hardcore porn…is that “ok”?  I’m going to say…NO.  So…what about Modern Family…CSI…Scandal…The Walking Dead…House of Cards…Orange is the New Black…Game of Thrones?  Where does the YES turn into NO?  There is a very wide range of gray out there.

I’m not going going to draw a line in the sand to tell you what YOU should or shouldn’t watch.  For one thing…I believe that line is going to be in different places for different people.  And also, it’s not my place to make that call.  But, I do want to challenge you with 2 thoughts about the subject…

1.  There NEEDS TO BE a line:

Cross-the-LineI often choose what to watch without regard for this line…without regard for what is good for me.  As a result, I am subjecting myself to sinful influences of various natures.  Maybe it is “permissible”, but that doesn’t mean it is good.  And if something is not good, is it really worth me using my time to consuming it?  Is it good for you to subject yourself to a TV show or movie with a lot of violence in it?  Is it good for you to hear a lot of bad language?  What about something with sex or nudity?  Sure it’s easy to SAY you can watch something without it affecting you…or claim you can see sex and nudity without lusting…but is that really true?  I think an important distinction is to decide what content can potentially affect YOUR walk with Christ, your thought life, and the way you act, and then avoid shows with that sort of content.  And the best way to figure this out is to pray about it and listen to what convictions God gives you.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because something is “popular” or it wins awards then it is good for you to watch.

2.  Be aware of your influence on others:

If you have decided it is ok for you to watch certain shows, that DOESN’T mean it is ok for everyone.  Romans 14:14-15 says, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.  For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”  Paul is referring here to what people eat and the sinful influence it can have.  So, if that applies to a relatively innocuous subject such as eating, I feel it applies even more to somethingBreaking-Bad like what you watch.  Different people are tempted and influenced by different things.  You may be able to watch a show with violence and it not bother you.  But, someone else may become disturbed by the same thing.  Or, it may affect their personality and bring out more violence in them.  The same thing could be said for bad language.  When you tell people how great something is, you are giving it your seal of approval, which is in turn encouraging them to watch it.  So if that show has content in it that could be bad for them, you are encouraging them to consume something they shouldn’t.  

It’s similar to alcohol.  I don’t feel drinking alcohol in moderation is bad.  However, if you’re with someone who is an alcoholic and you’re drinking and going on about how good it is and how they should try it…you probably should have gone with a sweet tea instead.  Don’t cause someone else to stumble by what you do.  The TV shows you watch and talk about should be no different.

Imagine you’re at church and the pastor shares a quote from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street.  That action would be essentially telling everyone, “I have seen this movie”, “I like this movie”, and “I think you should watch this movie”.  The same can be said of any of us within our sphere of influence.  When you tell people about your favorite shows, or make comments on social media about them, you are telling everyone who can hear, “I watch this show”, “I like this show”, and “I think you should watch this show”.

Guys, this applies to your role as a leader of your family too.  What you watch impacts not just you but your family as well.  Your wife and kids will be influenced by your choices.  Even if you don’t watch with them, your kids will know what shows you like, which teaches them what is acceptable as they grow up and are able to make their own choices.

Now don’t think for a second that I’m encouraging you to watch whatever you want but just make sure to keep it a secret!  If you are watching things you shouldn’t, keeping it hidden is NOT the way to handle it.  For this advice to be helpful, it needs to be used in conjunction with advice #1 above (there needs to be a line).  If you are watching something you think is sketchy that you’re not sure you should…the answer is NOT to simply keep quiet about it so you don’t cause others to stumble…the answer is to STOP WATCHING IT.  However, if you feel that what you are watching IS appropriate for you, but you think it COULD be inappropriate for others…THAT is when I suggest keeping it to yourself.  As Paul says later in Romans 14 (vs 22-23), “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.  But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Let me share a personal experience I’ve had with this:  I read a few of the Game of Thrones books.  It’s a very intriguing story with interesting characters and a compelling plot, but it is far from wholesome.  Game-Of-Thrones-logoThey are filled with greed, evil, and sex.  I was willing to overlook this for the sake of the excitement of the books though.  I guess it seemed to have a minimal effect on me to read it (at least that’s how I justified it).  When it was made into a big budget TV series, of course it’s going to be exciting.  So, I watched a couple of the episodes, but was overwhelmed at how wrong it felt (to me).  The sex and nudity was prevalent and the evil felt that much worse to see it instead of read it.  I didn’t want anyone to know I saw them and realized that was probably a sign that I shouldn’t…so I stopped.  I didn’t want influences like that inciting lust or filling my mind with evil character and violence.  So now I cringe whenever I see someone on Facebook going on about how amazing the show is.  Not because I feel they shouldn’t be watching it (hopefully they are considering point #1 above and making a good decision for themselves, plus it is not my place to judge what is right or wrong for them), but it makes me worry how many people are being drawn into watching it by hearing how awesome it is from people they know and trust, only to have it fill their mind with evil, violence, sex, and sin.

But at the same time, I will watch The Walking Dead without hesitation.  It is probably the most violent show I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t bother me and I don’t feel any conviction about it hurting my walk with Christ.  Still, I try not to “recommend” it to other people because the content definitely isn’t “good” and could easily be something that does bother someone else.

My advice to you:

Don’t assume that the popularity of a show or the fact that someone you know likes it means it is good for you to watch.  It may seem silly to do so, but spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal to you if there are shows you watch that you should stop.  And if you do watch things that YOU feel are ok, but you realize others could take issue with, I encourage you to be careful with how to promote them to others.