Are Opposite-Sex Friends Okay When Married?

This has been a discussion I have had with many couples over the years and have discussed at length with my wife of 20+ years!

Can you have opposite-sex friendships when you are married?

My thoughts have definitely evolved over the years. Early on, when I was more insecure and immature, I felt that it wasn't appropriate for married people to be friends with those of the opposite sex, ever. But now, after nearly 21 years of marriage, and some maturity (emphasis on the word some) I feel a bit different.

It's not so much about the friendship as it is about your personal character and how you handle the friendship, and who you are friends with. I used to throw the baby out with the bathwater and say, "no way can you have any friends of the opposite-sex when you are married ... you will end up having an affair with them!" But that is the same as what some of my religious non-drinker friends say about alcohol, they say that, "if you drink it leads to drunkenness, lewd behaviors and orgies." (That's actually a quote! I know, ridiculous.)

My Rules That Should Govern Opposite- Sex Friendships

1) The friend should preferable be a friend of both.

This just means that to have a friend that is only your friend could be challenging. Because when they are a friend of both, they will have a respect, hopefully, for the marriage not just the individual. Make sense? There are always exceptions to rules of course, so don't get too hung up on the rule.

2) No secrets.

It should be a totally open friendship. No hiding anything about the friendship from your partner. If you are hiding the friendship, that is a warning sign for sure. There shouldn't be anything to hide ... especially if it's all above board.

3) No confiding.

I have a couple female friends, one in particular I am extremely close with and have been friends with for nearly 12 years and I have never "confided" in her. I haven't told her anything I haven't already talked about with my wife.

4) Never talk bad about your spouse with them.

My rule on this one applies to same-sex friends too. I know it's a bit extreme, but I do not find there to be any benefit in spouse bashing. So I just don't do it. If I have issues with my wife I talk to her about it, or a counselor who will give me sound wisdom. I believe this rule to be extremely valuable to the marriage if followed.

5) Limit Alcohol use when with your friend.

Alcohol, the great elixir. It removes inhibitions as well as morality, in my experience. In other words, if you aren't all that attracted to this friend, you will be after a couple glasses of wine, so be careful. Let's just be honest here, many of the stories that start with, "Well I had a few beers then ..." and they proceed to tell the "bad" story.

6) The character of your friend. 

The character of the friend you have makes all the difference in the world. If he/she is a person of character with a strong moral compass it will surely work. Because even if they were attracted to you they wouldn't cross lines because of their strong character. Of course you should have strong character too, so even if they want to cross lines you don't.

7) Listen to your spouse.

If my wife says, "No!" to the friendship, then it's a no. Period. If you don't like that, then I would advise you to never get married. It's not for you. Part of what makes marriage work is submitting one to another.

A spouse is not only a companion, but also your protector (in a healthy relationship) and they help keep you safe and protected from others and even from yourself.


I unfortunately missed out on many opportunities for valuable rich freindships with women because of my religious fear-based upbringing. "Don't even look at another woman, and definitely don't talk to them, and for damn sure don't ever be around one without your spouse present!" Oddly enough many of those same people who spouted that fear-based teaching ended up having affairs, being addicted to porn, and living a lie. Living that way obviously doesn't keep people from having affairs.

The reality is anyone can have an affair, the question is would that be beneficial to those closest to you? Is it what God wants, I mean really? You know the answer. No! No!

Please post your thoughts, questions, disagreements and opinions!


Saying Sorry

It's hard to say "sorry" sometimes, especially when you feel you weren't completely to blame for the situation. We often think, "well I'll say sorry when they say sorry." Well it doesn't work that way. That's kind of like when Jesus said in Luke 6:32-36 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." 

We LOVE even when others don't love, we GIVE even when others don't give, we SHARE even when others don't share, we APOLOGIZE even when others don't apologize. This is what children of the God do, and there is a reward!

I know that I have had to say "I'm sorry" many many times over the years to my children, to my wife, to my friends, to co-workers, to employees, to church members, and to strangers on the road. And it's never easy.

I know it's hard because I have not had very many people through the years ever say sorry to me. I sat down with Jana the other day and reflected on all the times we've been hurt or wronged and we could only count but a handful of times when people actually came to us to apologize for what they said, or what they did to hurt us. I say that not to get pity from anyone, but to emphasize that apparently saying, "I'm sorry" is difficult and rare. Pride gets in the way.


Be the kind of person who says, "I'm sorry" when you have wronged someone is someway, even when they don't know you have wronged them AND even if you feel they owe you an apology first ... you be first.

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Grace Scandal

The message of Grace ... I believe it's often misunderstood and abused in the Christian Faith. Even in Paul's day. You know, since God will forgive by His grace when we sin, then why not just keep sinning?

It would be like me asking Jana (my wife) if she would forgive me if I cheated on her, and if she said yes, then if I was to take advantage of her forgiveness and grace and cheat (because I know she is going to forgive me) ... what kind of man would you think I am? Not only that, but wouldn't you question my love for Jana.

Isn't this what we do to God when we "take advantage" of His grace and mercy and sin? Even when we know what we are doing, or going to do is wrong?

Paul asks the question, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?"

Here are various versions of the Bible and what Paul's answer to that question is;
"Of course not!"
"May it never be!"
"That's unthinkable!"
"God forbid!"
"In no way!"
"Far be the thought!"
"May it never be! "
"let it not be! "

Listen, we are all guilty of pre-meditated sin! But as I have reflected on my own life and on many conversations I have had with other Christians who are living a life of sin, knowing good and well that what they are doing is NOT what God wants them to do, yet the do it. This has got to just break the heart of God. (yes, I know God's heart can't be broken for He is God), but I would have to think it saddens Him when we walk all over the price His son paid for our sin ... to trample on the cross of Christ, to spit in His face yet again.

I don't know what to think ... on one hand I am of course grateful and thankful that God is gracious, for I have need of it BIG TIME ... but also I am saddened that I often have taken advantage of God's grace ... but it's something to think about.

I leave you with this thought; I think that it's a sign of maturity when we allow God's Grace to STRENGTHEN us to LIVE RIGHT, rather then just depending on God's grace to cover our many sins.

What do you think?


Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

There is definitely a misconception about the word “salvation” in Christian circles. Many times Christians (this would include me) feel or think or believe that Jesus came to just save our soul. And the truth is that YES He did come to save our soul, but He also came to do more than that … He came to SAVE us from all our brokenness.

The word “save” in Jesus day had a lot more meaning then just “saving souls”, Jesus came to rescue us from all our brokenness.

Let’s be honest, I know a lot of people who are “saved” but they are broken. They have broken marriages, broken emotions, broken friendships, broken hearts, broken lives … and I believe that Jesus can help to put the pieces of our broken lives back together again.

It starts with being honest with ourselves and with others about our brokenness … and giving the broken pieces of our lives over to Christ to do His work.


"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free"

What truth sets us free? And what does it set us free from?

I believe any and every thing that is “true” when we LEARN it and then ACT upon it can set us free in particular areas of life. For example; when you learn the TRUTH that it’s an apple a day that keeps the doctor away NOT a Twinkie a day…, then when you exercise this new found truth, you then are liberated, or set free.

Here is something that may shock you coming from me, a pastor; Religion, or Christianity (or whatever you call it) can and often creates the most painful bondages in peoples lives today. Now, before you get mad at me; Religion, or Christianity (or whatever you call it) can and often does liberate people from their bondages too.

How can both be true? Simple, it depends on what your religion/parents taught you about God growing up. I believe there are two gospels being proclaimed today (I am sure there are many more than that, but that makes it easy for me in this blog to say two)

1) Gospel of the LAW – It’s Legalism, it’s based upon your performance (i.e. How long you pray, how many chapters of the Bible you read , how you dress, how many good deeds you do, or how many bad things you don't do, etc. )

2) Gospel of GRACE
– It’s freedom; it’s based not on what you or I do, but based on what Jesus already did on the cross. God loves you, period. Whether you pray for 2 hours a day, or pray 1 minute a day, whether you read 3 chapters of the Bible, or non at all, whether you wear a suit or sweats.

The problem with the Gospel of the LAW is that its power based … meaning if you “perform” better then others you have the power. And actually it’s if you ACT as though you “perform” better then others you have the power. If I can make people think I pray an hour a day, when I actually do not, then I am spiritual… in their eyes anyway. It’s not about reality, it’s about a façade. What front I can put up for people to see. It’s what I call living a lie. AND this friend, is HOW religion causes bondage in people’s lives. It causes people to HIDE, LIE, COVER UP … they keep their dark places buried, because if anyone sees who they really are, or what has happened to them or if people see their hurt, their pain then people will know they aren’t perfect. And I am learning that people don’t want people to know they do not have it all together.

Christ came to FREE us with the TRUTH; and the TRUTH is GOD LOVES YOU no matter what!

God's Heart

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

I just returned from a meeting with a dozen local pastors; Gary Kendall who pastors Indian Creek Community Church, Pastor Ron from New Journey Church, Pastor Greg from Southwoods Christian Church, Adam Hamilton from Church of the Resurrection, Matt from Westside Community Church, and a few others I did not get a chance to talk to personally.

What I love and appreciate is the heart of each pastor to fulfill their specific God-given Mission for their church.

When I reflect on the body of Christ (the church) there is one thing, if I can be honest here, that is lacking… well actually two things; true maturity and love. Both these go hand in hand… when you are truly mature it’s visible through our love walk.

When people talk about going deeper in their Christian walk that can mean a million different things for a million people… for the Catholic it’s more prayers and liturgical stuff, for the Pentecostal it means more passionate praise and worship and gifts of the spirit operating (manifesting) in a service, for the Baptist it means more in-depth verse by verse Bible teaching… on and on it goes. All that to say… what DEEPER means to Jesus, and should mean to us, is MORE LOVE for God and each other! Period.

The Apostle Paul dealt with this a lot… he was constantly trying to get people to LOVE one another… especially within the body of Christ. I mean seriously, if you consider yourself a Christian YOU of all people need to love and appreciate everyone and their spiritual journey without judgment.

So what breaks God’s heart? Anything not done in LOVE!


When did legalism begin?

We can go all the way back to the Garden; the place it all began. Genesis 3:1-3 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”

Now Eve, is that really what God said? Let’s look at what God actually said, Genesis 2:15-17 “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

Interesting, Eve ADDED to what God said. God just said to NOT EAT of it; He didn’t say you couldn’t touch it.

Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die.”

Part of what legalism is - is ADDING to scripture, making a law or rule with something God didn’t actually say. Drinking alcohol is one example. Nowhere in scripture are we forbidden to drink alcohol, but some religious organizations (and people) have condemned the consumption of alcohol. And their argument is somewhat legitimate, but still wrong. They often say, “Well nothing good can come of it… or the end result is drunkenness and orgies… ” Well, okay… I know a lot of people who drink and have never been drunk, nor have they engaged in an orgy.

That argument just completely falls a part when you apply it to other things that are sin in excess. For example gluttony; if I apply their argument then I must quit eating, because I could over-eat and become fluffy, and dance naked in Target.

Don't Run

As many of you know I love to read, and I have read many wonderful books over the years, but right now I am reading a book that I would have to say is up in the TOP 5 greatest books I’ve ever read list. It’s entitled, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.

Over the last 5 years as a pastor I have been amazed, hurt, surprised and confused by long time Christians and their immaturity. They know the Word, they Tithe, they Serve, they Love Jesus yet there is something missing. (Disclaimer: I am in no way slamming or condemning or criticizing… I am simply stating a fact). They spiritualize away conflict, they hide their brokenness behind spiritual practices, they judge other people’s spiritual journey, and they deny the past’s impact on their present lives and their faith is somehow challenged when someone disagrees with them.

I have asked myself and others; what is the deal? Well I have found the answer in this book! The author Peter Scazzero says, “I truly believe the greatest gift we can give the world is our true self living in loving union with God. In fact, how can we affirm other people’s unique identities when we don’t affirm our own? Can we really love our neighbors well without loving ourselves?”

Bottom line is you can not be truly Mature Spiritually unless you are Mature Emotionally. And to be Emotionally Mature takes a lot of inward reflection, tough conversations which to be honest is difficult sometimes. It will cause many emotions to rise up within you… but the end result is worth it! But for some people it is just easier to run.

Don’t run!


Sometimes I think we Christians forget that we are all (every church) a part of the body of Christ. Some are the pinky, some are the knee, others the arms, and yet others the feet. But we are all doing our part to reach people for Christ.

Wouldn't it be ridiculous for my pinky to grip, complain and gossip to the other fingers and say, "hey guys... the knees are missing it, they aren't as good as we fingers... they can't pick the nose, they can't grab things... the knees are wrong, and we fingers are right... nah, nah, nah! (I just flashed back to elementary school)

Funny illustration I know... but isn't this what we do in the church world sometimes? We compare one church to another.... when in reality each church has a specific calling and it's as different as a finger is to a knee... neither better or worse, wrong or right, just a different part of the body. All churches serve a purpose in God's kingdom... when we are gracious we see this.

I personally as a pastor appreciate every church, especially every church here in Olathe... and I for sure support and appreciate every pastor here!

Life Church, Indian Creek Community Church, Olathe Bible Church, Church of the Harvest, Pathway, Journey Church, All the Baptist churches, All the Methodist churches, all the Catholic Churches, All the charismatic & Pentecostal churches... Episcopalian, Lutheran, and on and on it goes… I have missed some I am sure... but all have their place in the community, and in the Body of Christ, and the sooner we grow up and realize it the better!

Grace to you!

Legalism vs. Grace - pt 2

Q: So why is legalism so dangerous?

Many reasons; but rather then me telling you why I personally think it's nasty, let’s look at what the Apostle Paul says about it.

1) Legalism is dangerous because it is and outward attempt to look spiritual. Galatians 2:6 “…God does not judge by external appearances.”

2) Legalism makes the death and life of Jesus meaningless. Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if *righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

*Notice Paul uses the word “righteousness” here… if living right could get us in God’s good graces, then who needs Jesus. But, when you do accept God’s grace through Jesus you ARE righteous, which then leads you to right living.

3) Legalism holds us in chains… its bondage. Galatians 3:23 “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.”

4) Legalism actually draws us AWAY from Christ, and His grace. Galatians 5:4 “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”

I will continue this Legalism vs. Grace later...