Monday, November 26, 2012

Promises about Prayer

Praying is a very important part of having a relationship with Jesus and it can also be a very powerful tool.  With any tool that you have you need to know what it its capable of in order to use it to the maximum proficiency.  Here are some promises that God has provided us that allow us to pray fervently. 

  • Psalms 
    • 91:15
      • "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."
    • 141:2
      • "Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice."
  • Jeremiah 
    • 1:12 
      • "I am ready to perform My Word."
    • 29:12
      • "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you."
    • 33:3
      • "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things"
  • Isaiah 
    • 55:11
      • "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
    • 65:24
      • "It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are speaking I will hear."
  • Matthew 
    • 21:22
      • "whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
    • 18:18
      • "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
    • 18:19
      • "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven."
  • John 
    • 16:24
      • "Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
    • 14:13
      • "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
    • 14:14
      • "If you ask anything in my name, I will do it."
    • 15:7
      • "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."
    • 15:16
      • "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
    • 16:23
      • "whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you."
  • James 
    • 5:16
      • "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
  • Job 
    • 22:27
      • "You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear you..."
  • 1John 
    • 5:14
      • "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
    • 5:15
      • "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pray for your leader - Davids Tent DC

Politics are in the air America.  It is that time of year where the campaigns are full steam ahead and not only do we get the chance to vote for our next leader, but we also get the chance to pray and worship Jesus Christ.  Matthew 18:19-20 tells us that when ever 2 or more come together in the name of Jesus that he will be there.  Please take some time to pray for a positive, qualified and great leader for America that will help lead us in a moral direction.

If you have some spare time off and a little money, feel free to check out Davids Tent.  How awesome would it be to show some conviction for Christ and make a stand in front of the current President and the nation.  Lets show America that we still believe in good morals and family values.  Lets show America and the world that Jesus is our one and only Savior.   

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #8)

Mask #8: Marriage issues should always stay private.

Scripture to consider: “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14, NASB)

The General Reality: It is important to understand that there really is no supporting Scripture that states that all issues in a marriage should be kept private from those outside the family structure nor is there Scripture to support that families should be wide open.  Before moving forward with this, it is also important to mention that there is supporting Scripture to say that the couple themselves should have no secrets from each other (Genesis 2:24).  To become one flesh is to be in complete unity with one another.  This diminishes all room for secrecy within the marriage covenant.  Looking from the family outward, many issues within a marriage are best kept private, but there are some benefits to sharing both marital problems and successes with others.

Married Couple

Based on observation, I find that there are many married couples that believe 100% privacy is completely necessary.  Others will share their life story to the point of exhaustion at the expense of the listener.  Many fall somewhere in between.  How can we achieve a healthy balance?  How can focusing on this balance potentially improve your marriage?  Here are just a few potential benefits that can be gained by sharing marital issues with others:
·         Accountability
·         Healthy friendships
·         Families working towards a common goal together
·         Fresh perspectives on achieving a healthier marriage
·         A shoulder to cry on when “the going gets tough” (a.k.a. “venting”)
·         A strong family support system
·         Lessons for others to learn from
·         United families can be a great resource for families in need
However, marriage issues should not be brought to just anyone.  If you are going to seek help, you should always seek help from either a professional or someone who already has a healthy marriage.  Notice that I didn’t say a “perfect” marriage because there is no such thing, no matter how much you think it might be true.  Ultimately, someone (preferably a Christian) who has been married for a while and has applied godly principles to their marriage would be the best person to seek counsel from. 
I would love to hear that you have sought the best Counselor that I know, Jesus Christ.  If you wish to do that, I recommend that you get down on your knees right now and ask Him to forgive your sins, thank Him for saving you, and ask Him to take over your life.  Ask Him to show you how your marriage should look and start letting Him answer you by reading His Word (the Bible).  There is no counselor in this world greater than He, I promise.  You will have to start down that journey to understand.
Marriage is without a doubt a difficult relationship to maintain.  It is hard with God’s help and even harder without God’s help.  We must not forget that our God created the concept of “relationships” and He did so for a reason.  God has revealed throughout Scripture that He is also relational.  He weeps for us, He rejoices with us, He feels our sorrow, He cheers for us, He supports us, He wants to hear about our problems, and He provides for us.  He experiences all of the things we seek in relationships with others. 
The marriage relationship is supposed to be the best human example of what God’s relationship is like with men.  When one family functions according to God’s design, the relational aspect of the family should extend beyond the walls of their home as well, with little effort.  Additionally, when a family decides to reach out, they should be accountable for what they do, able to establish healthy relationships, have support when needed, and learn from others’ mistakes and successes.  Sharing with others establishes a connection and opens the door to gaining good resources for a healthy marriage and a united effort to reach out to the world for God’s glory.

Conversation Starters

·         Have you ever shared your marriage experience with others?  How did it work out?

·         Can you think of a time where you went to God to fix your marriage and He did?

Things to Try

·         After asking Jesus to take over your life, begin praying every night or as much as you feel you can with your spouse.

·         Do you know anyone with a healthy Christian marriage? Try asking them about what a healthy marriage should look like.  You don’t even have to share anything about yours.  Just listen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Miracle Baby born 12 ounces

Faith is a wonderful thing, and can really bring hope to your life. With the right attitude and faith miracles can happen. Noelle Christine Aguiar was born 27 weeks in gestation at an amazingly 12 ounces. Though she has medical problems the encouraging aspect is the attitude of the parents. The father has been quoted as saying "If this is the time God had given us with her then we are grateful. The mother agreed and said "We never expected to have one day with her."

Read More

Conversation Starter

  • Do you take each day with this amount of faith and hope?
  • Are you grateful for what God has provided and with the time you have?
  • Do you use the time wisely or do you squander it with fruitless ventures?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To God You Are Beautiful

Do you struggle with your self image? Down on yourself about your clothes, hair, weight or the way you look? I know women especially struggle with these things and many more. If our hair is straight we want it curly or the other way around. We compare ourselves to every other woman we think is prettier or skinnier than we are, especially, the models in magazines we look at everywhere and wish we could look half as good as they do. Its seriously a vicious cycle we go through every day. If someone says one bad thing about us it sticks in our heads, like forever , and can cause so much drama, depression or worse, suicide. We're so focused on the bad stuff, that when someone does say something good about us, we don't even hear it, or if your like me its “no I'm not...I'm fat, ugly....” fill in the blanks, the list can go on and on. Lets face it, the society we live in is all about self image, what you wear, how you look yada yada yada.....You feel like you have to buy clothes, handbags, make up, shoes and all these material things to make you feel “good” about yourself. When in fact, all you need is Jesus Christ.

If you look in Genesis 2:7 KJV “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” How beautiful is that, God Created man from dust, in His image. How amazing is that he made man from dust. Then God tells Adam where his land is in the garden of Eden and had him keep up and eat of the land, it was plentiful, but not of the tree of good and evil. Read in Genesis 2: 18 NIV “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him” So God had formed all of the animals out of the ground and brought them to Adam to name them. This is a key roll for Adam,. God made Adam in His image so in naming all the animals on the earth, Adam had dominion over them. But after all of this, there was still no suitable helper for Adam.. Read in Genesis 2:21-22 NIV “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep: and while he was sleeping he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man and he brought her to the man” So God made man and woman in His image. So when we say to/about ourselves “I'm fat, ugly, I'm not good enough etc.” Aren't we really saying that about our creator God, since he created us in His image.. So all those nasty, ugly, down right awful things we say about ourselves, try putting God in front of it. It would look like this God is ugly, God is fat, God is not good enough. That's a tough one to swallow right.... God is our creator, He created us in His image, He created the heavens and earth, every living thing on this earth. God is awesome, righteous, all mighty, powerful, our creator, merciful, just, loving, forgiving, the same today, yesterday and forever.

  • Will we think before we say something negative about ourselves or others?
  • Will we teach our kids it's not nice to say mean things about ourselves or others?
  • Will we make the step to change from the ways of the world or will we continue to be like the world?

Things to do:
  • Pray that God will change your heart to be more like his and to be content with the way God made you.
  • Pray for those people that say negative things about you,(your enemies) because you may never know what their day has been like or what is hiding in their heart. They may be feeling some hurt from someone saying the same thing about them....

Something to think about:
  • When someone says a nice thing about you and in return we say I'm fat, ugly, not good enough, no I'm not. We are rejecting them and rejecting God because God is our creator, our giver of life, our Father in Heaven. We are not promised tomorrow so make something of today!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #7)

Mask #7: If you aren’t happy all or most of the time, maybe you shouldn’t be together.

Scripture to consider:Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)
The General Reality: God really says it all with this topic’s Scripture to consider.  When someone we love is going through some type of trial in their life, it is common for us to look at their situation and assume the worst.  We say things like, “I’m so sorry” or “If there’s anything I can do…” or “That’s so sad.”  Even worse, we might assume we know the outcome of their situation (often a way out of not knowing what else to say) by making the mistake of saying something like “Things will get better” or “Everything is going to be OK” or “Just hang in there!”  First of all, we don’t really know that everything is going to be OK, do we?  We say we are sorry but we carry about our business, often forgetting all about it ten minutes later because we have enough on our own plates.  Why worry about others’ problems?  What’s even sadder is that we often use these experiences to pass judgment on another person’s situation.
When my wife and I were at our worst point in our marriage, I found it somewhat surprising how many family members and friends used that situation to convince me that my marriage was doomed.  False ideas were put into my head.  Some told me that maybe we shouldn’t be together anymore.  Some blamed it women.  Others told me that I was too immature to have a lasting marriage.  Others used the opportunity to drive a wedge between us because they didn’t really like us together from the start.  I started to believe that the situation was hopeless.  Finding real support was almost impossible.  Everyone had their opinion but few, if any, had the long-term success of our marriage in their hearts.  Nobody told me what God later taught me.
Sometimes, pain is exactly what we need to push us over the edge into a territory that we have not yet explored.  Let’s face it!  We get comfortable with our daily lives and routines.  The thought of changing anything or stepping outside of our comfort zone scares us.  The interesting thing about pain is that while experiencing it, we often find ourselves in unchartered territory.  When we encounter unchartered territory, we find that we are forced to do something unheard of – we are forced to learn and grow!  I mean, did you really think life was constant?  I have heard a couple of pastors say it: There are three kinds of people – those who are going into a trial, those are already in the middle of one, and those who are coming out of one.  If you are floating on cloud nine right now, get ready because it’s about to get ugly sometime soon.  This world has a way of force-feeding you trouble (John 16:33).  This trouble will find you in all places in life – your marriage, your career, your extended family, your friends, your church, in your own heart, and in every other place imaginable.  What a blessing it is to be called a friend by the One and Only Jesus Christ, who has already conquered it all for us!  Take heart, He says, for He has conquered the world!  Guess what folks?!  If the world gives us nothing but trouble and Christ is the only One who can conquer the world, then this is good news for us.  This means that putting our full trust in Jesus Christ conquers all our troubles as well.
Needless to say, I am still married to my wonderful wife today.  I have God to thank for that.  Believe when I say that trouble still finds us; it’s knocking at our door every day.  But I can honestly say that after being in a relationship with her for 13 years and being married to her for 9, I love her and care for her more today than I ever have before.  I also know that God will use additional trials over the next several years to grow that love tenfold.  I believe that soon, my love for my wife will make the love that I feel for her today seem like “puppy love.”  All I have to do is trust in the One who gave her to me to show me the way.
If you feel like your situation is hopeless and maybe it’s not your relationship as a whole, but maybe it’s just one particular problem within your relationship that has just been chewing you up lately, don’t lose hope.  Ask God to step in and fix it for you.  Let Him show you how He can conquer your troubles.  I am confident that He can teach you everything you need to know to make it right again.  I don’t even know you or what your situation is but I know that God can make it right because that’s the promise He gave us all and He told us that we can have full confidence in that (Philippians 4:13)!  Take heart and know that love conquers all things!

Conversation Starters

·         Talk about a time when you came through a trial that resulted in improving your marriage or relationship today.

·         Can you think of a time where God fixed an impossible situation in your marriage?

·         In what ways can you lean more on Jesus to help you in your marriage?

Things to Try

·         Try scheduling regular “date nights” with your spouse, if possible.

·         Try praying daily with your spouse about your marriage.  If you don’t get an immediate answer on a specific issue, keep persistently praying.  If they don’t want to pray with you, do it by yourself, in private.

·         Take 10-15 minutes a day to just talk about your day with your spouse.

·         When the pressure seems to great, try to focus on doing something positive for others (or your spouse).  This often helps reduce negative feelings.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How do you Talk to Non Believers?

I bet like most who would be reading this you are a passionate believer and either you want to help spread the word and never have, or you have tried but get met with strong opposition.  Well guess what your not alone.  The first lesson that everyone who talks to others about Christ need to realize is that there is a time and place for everything, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. In the case of talking to anyone, believer, you have to have respect, timing, tact, grace, manners, and place.   I know what you are thinking, "I am a Christian and I am all those things".  In reality you could very easily be far from it.  You need to be PC about how you communicate.
Homeless individual.
How can we reach this potential non believer?

Guess what it is not Politically Correct, it is Perfectly Christian.

Oh great he said PC.  I hate all that PC stuff.  Guess what it is not Politically Correct, it is Perfectly Christian.  Phew so you can relax.  But what is the PC or Perfectly Christian way to effectively communicate.  Lets take a journey through the life of Christ.  After all he is our supreme teacher and leader we look to for guidance.

The Sermon on the mount. Matthew 5:1-16
The sermon on the mount is an example of Jesus's ability to talk to the masses.

The Pharisees.  Matthew 23:15-28 and Mark 3:1-6
The Pharisees were a political slash religious party during the New Testament time.  Many of them were the leaders of the land and temples.  They were also considered the experts of the time for Jewish law, prophesies, etc.  In todays time this could be other church leadership or maybe even well educated members of religion.

Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector.  This is the ultimate for believers, as he was hated by everyone.  This man was considered a big sinner.  Christ offered him immediately a place of respect and honor and said that he wanted to stay at Zacchaeus's house.

The rich young ruler.  Mark 10:17-27A rich man comes to Jesus and asks about what else he needs to do to get to heaven.  He tells Jesus that he has kept the commandments.  The Christ tells him something that is hard that the man does not want to hear.  "If you sell all your possessions and give it to the poor you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."

Bad Communication 

Division. Romans 16:17-19
Watch out for those who try to divide and conquer your thoughts when communicating about the word.  Make sure that the things that you say to others can be backed up in scripture, and make your outward appearance fitting to the Lord's standard.

Not Listening and Anger. James 1:19
Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.  As you may know religion is sometimes a tough pill to swallow for some people.  Take your time in the conversation, listen to their troubles.  Sometimes the best things said is nothing at all and it may be an action that is needed.  If you treat the person right and pray for them, you will know when its time to speak.

The Christian Communication Motto

Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Conversation Starters
  • In talking to people and friends have you ever put them in a place of honor and respect while starting your conversation?
Things To Try
  • Ask someone to go with you to a church or bible study.
  • During your day when communicating with people at work put someone up in a place of honor when starting the conversation.
Feedback/Comments - We really want to hear from you.

  • Do you have scenario ideas that you need help finding a way to communicate with someone?  
  • Have you ever asked anyone to church or about Christ?  How did it go?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #6)

Mask #6: Kids will complete or at least improve your family.

Scripture to consider:But Jesus called for them, saying, ‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.’
(Luke 18:16-17, NASB)

The General Reality: The question that all prospective parents should ask themselves before having a child is why do I want to have a child?  The answer will likely vary from parent to parent, but the answer is important.  Here are a few reasons that I’ve heard:
·         They are cute and fun.

·         I’m getting older and I need to have kids before it’s too late.

·         I think having kids will improve my relationship with my spouse because they will add happiness.

·         I see all my friends having kids and it seems like the right thing to do.

·         Seeing others’ happiness with theirs kids prompted me to have kids of my own.

·         I want to be able to care for another human being because it provides great joy to me.

·         I feel kids will complete my family.
If you want to add to this list, feel free to comment on this article below.  The interesting thing is that whatever your reason is in the beginning, I believe there is a good chance that your view may change after having children for the first time or sometimes after having additional children.  Now I don’t claim to be even a little bit close to being an expert in children but here is what I’ve learned since I started having children:
·        I am a very selfish person.

·         Before having children, I never knew what it truly meant to serve others who could not help themselves.

·         Putting others before me is much more challenging than I thought.

·         Children can be exhausting, challenge your marriage, and test your self-control.

·         Children add a significant amount of stress to the family, no matter how much I want to deny it.

·         I wasted more valuable time before having children than I care to admit.

·         Loving others in the way that children need to be loved takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

·         It is especially important to have a strong connection with your spouse at all times.  Children almost never make it easier for the marriage relationship to thrive.
For those of you who may not have children yet, this list may scare you or even make you ask yourself why I had kids at all.  If this is accurate, I’m glad because this is exactly what I want you to think.  I humbly admit that I’m not sure that all of the reasons I wanted to have kids were healthy.  It isn’t until after having kids that I started learning important lessons from them and that is still in process today.  We believe that we can use our life-experiences to teach our children how to be outstanding citizens one day.  I do not deny that this is part of the process.  However, I also believe that God uses children to teach us just as much as we teach them as parents.  After all, God is our heavenly Father, isn’t He?
Since all of us differ so much and I am no expert, I cannot begin to give you a black and white answer about the right time to have kids, the right amount of kids to have, or even necessarily the right reasons to have kids, but I can give you a list of dos and don’ts that I have learned to date.  You can take it or leave it:
·         See your children as an opportunity to learn unselfish behavior.

·         Put yourself aside as much as you possibly can to love your children. 

·         Make sure you and your spouse love on each other as much as possible in front of your children.

·         See your children as an opportunity to let go of the “small stuff.”

·         Laugh, enjoy their silliness, and share often.

·         Take it day by day and do not take it for granted.  There is no guarantee that tomorrow will come for one or more members of your family.  Make each day count!  As cliché as this sounds, it could not be more true.

·         Let your children, through their innocence, teach you true humility.

·         Pay attention to how they treat complete strangers.  There is something very special and important for parents to learn in that area.

·         See your children as an opportunity to grow the population of Christ-followers.

·         Pray over your children daily.  If you do not have kids, pray about it before having them.

·         See your children as a burden or extra work.

·         Think for one second that kids will fix or improve a broken marriage.

·         Listen to the opinions of friends, family members, or outsiders.  These decisions are best made from within your marriage.

·         Have kids outside of marriage.  However, if you do have children outside of marriage, children are still a blessing from God and should never be frowned upon for any reason. 

·         Sweat the small stuff.

·         Assume that your children will do no wrong or that they will supersede other children.  They will fail you; it’s a promise from God.  So many parents believe that they will avoid the challenges that other parents encounter but do not be so foolish.  This is an unavoidable part of being human.  You cannot win at this so save yourself the stress and take it day by day.

·         Neglect the opportunity to talk daily to your children about God and what He did/does for us.

·         Forget to pray with your children daily.
We’ve all seen divorce after children.  Many (I may even be bold enough to say the majority) of us come from broken families.  Yet, still so many young parents believe that children will fix a broken relationship.  To be blunt, I am warning you, do not have children unless you love your spouse more than anyone else.  The relationship you have with your spouse may be the single, most important example that your kids have for how to love another person.  This example will be carried with them throughout their lives.  Your marriage relationship is foundational to your entire family.
The most important advice I can give you in this article as a foundational aspect of everything above is to love your spouse and let your kids see how much, every single day that you live!  From that relationship, more than enough love should spill over to your kids.  Truth: Your spouse comes before your kids.  It may not always feel right, but your kids crave this more than you know because that’s just the way God designed it!

Conversation Starters

·         What are your reasons for having children?

·         For those that already have children, how has your view of life, children, and family changed since you’ve had children?

·         What challenges or accomplishments have you encountered while raising your children thus far?

Things to Try

·         Pray at least once a day with each of your children.

·         If you are considering having children, ask God to shape you into the parent He needs you to be and let Him know that you want to have kids in His perfect timing.

·         Talk with your spouse and ask them how they feel about kids.  Make sure you are both on the same page before trying.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Respect for Property

Seeing value in things can be difficult for so many people. In our world today the lack of respect for property and people is at an alarmingly high. It feels as if we only care about our “stuff'” other than looking at the bigger picture, others “stuff'” and having respect for even the smallest things you may never thought you needed to respect. Think of this. Your out shopping with your family, you have your hands full with your kids and groceries only to find, as you near your car, a grocery cart has hit the door. Your driving down the road and see a pile of trash on the side of the road, or someone is purposefully throwing trash out the window of the car. You see an elderly person walk into a room and no one offers their seat. Your kids have a play date, the children coming to play barge in and something gets broken or damaged. Your in the park and you see someone picking all the flowers or throwing their cigarette butts in the mulch. There are so many more examples to mention, but you get the point. People in general do not respect property or others as God commands us. Look in 1 Peter 2:17 (NIV) “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of receivers, fear God, honor the emperor” Showing respect to others is showing respect for God. Leviticus 19:32 (NIV) “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.” My favorite verse Matthew 7:12 (NIV) “So In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”
Thinking of these verses and others, God commands us to respect others and property. I fear we as parents are raising the next generation to have little or no respect for anyone or anything. We all have a “Moral Warehouse” quote from “Growing Kids Gods Way” make sure we fill it up. Give kids the reason why we don't do something. We should respect the shopping cart because it belongs to someone and the car it may or may not hit also belongs to someone. Throwing trash out the window is polluting Gods creation, people and animals are suffering because of this and it's not pleasant to the eye. God is a beautiful artist, if you will, His creation, the earth, is so beautiful. Why destroy that? If we're at someone's house with our kids, we should have our kids ask to go play with the toys and be respectful of that child's property. Offer your seat to an elderly person or open the door because its respectful and the right thing to do. Don't pick the flowers in the park, they are put there for everyone to enjoy. Don't throw your cigarette butts in the mulch, it can cause a fire and someone has to pick those up. If we don't have respect for one's property, we have no respect for the property owner and more importantly no respect for God.
Things to Try
  • Identify areas that you may not be respecting property, and learn how you can change.
Conversation Starters
  • Am I truly being respectful?
  • Have I done this or something like it before?

Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #5)

Mask #5: Marriage should come easy and if it doesn’t, perhaps you made the wrong choice of partner.  You must be compatible enough, find “the one,” or find “your soul-mate” to truly be happy and have a successful marriage.

Scripture to consider:For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, NASB)
The General Reality: This topic can be difficult to discuss, especially with those who are not married, but may be considering marriage in the near future, or perhaps even with the newlyweds.  With all the Hollywood movies, TV commercials, magazine articles, and various other advertisements that glamorize the true reality of marriage, it is no surprise that we are often taken by surprise when we suddenly realize that this union just isn’t what we originally expected it to be.  This usually takes place within the first few years of marriage.  This is the time where all of the most annoying things that your spouse does suddenly come into the lime light.  You realize that the pretty face they put on for during your dates may not look as pretty when they are sick or waking up early in the morning.  You may realize that they do not manage their finances correctly, they like to leave their dirty clothes laying around, they are unorganized, wishy-washy, have tons of bad habits, or just don’t have the same goals in mind for the future, just to name a few.  Maybe your in-laws drive you crazy because they have a hard time excepting you or the decisions you make for your new family.  You just can’t be sure that there won’t be any surprises because there are always surprises. 
God created marriage between a man and a woman to mirror the relationship between God and mankind.  Building a relationship with God takes a lifetime and we are always struggling with it, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer…you know the rest.  Why would anyone expect our marriages to be any different?  In a world cursed by sin, there is a guarantee on your life that says there will be conflict in all relationships to some degree, even in your relationship with God because we are always in a spiritual battle, between good and evil, between our own desires and God’s will for our lives.  We cannot seem to fully submit to God, not matter how hard we try.  Therefore, it is no surprise that we cannot submit to our spouse in the way that we are commanded to, in order to emulate that relationship that we were supposed to have with God.
Because of the constant spiritual battle we face, marriage will never be easy.  We are selfish by nature and we often crave the opportunity to exalt ourselves.  However, we were created to put others before ourselves (see Forms of Respect).  We are commanded to put our spouse before ourselves.  Upon stating your vows, you signed a contract with God stating that you would put your spouse above yourself.  You are held accountable for that by God.  You are expected to honor that commitment.  Knowing this, do you still feel that finding “the one” or you “soul-mate” is the only true key to marriage happiness?  Do you really think that marriage is conditionally based on how well your spouse contributes to the marriage success?  Marriage is about learning to selflessly love another person and putting yourself behind you.  I am not going to lie.  The days ahead will be challenging to say the least.  I promise that challenges will arise that you did not expect.  The question is will you choose to wake up the next morning, look your spouse in the eye, and tell them that you love them more today than you did yesterday, despite their inadequacies?  Wouldn’t you want someone to love you that much?  Jesus does love you that much and He wants you to love your spouse that much too!  If you can learn to love like that, you will not only find happiness, but an unconquerable marriage, even in the face of the most horrible trials.

Conversation Starters

·         What are your future goals and how might they differ from your spouse’s future goals?

·         What types of challenges have you encountered with your spouse and how have they impacted the overall view of your marriage?

Things to Try

·         Intentionally pick a topic or two that frustrates you about your spouse and discuss it together.  Be prepared for anything and try to be open to their suggestions.  Be sure to take off the mask and be honest.  Warning: This can be extremely challenging for some.

·         The next time your spouse makes you angry or you feel that urge to speak out against them, hug them, kiss them, and tell them that you love them instead.  Follow it up with an act of kindness.

·         The Book of Genesis defines how God sees marriage.  Take the time to read Genesis 2.

·         Pray for your spouse daily.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Forms of Respect

Respect, this is such a wide topic that can transcend into any culture, religion, gang, or anything concerning yourself. Respect is the admiration of something or someone usually show great abilities, quality or achievement. In the world we live in Today, I believe that respect is a mega spiritual battle that we fight and our culture allows us to trample and walk over people without care. There is also a great many who also take respect too far and become greedy, which in turn shows their lack of respect.  So expand this what are some forms of respect that exist in our lives today.

Forms of Respect
  • For Others
    • Matthew 7:12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them." 
    • Romans 12:10 " Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
    • Philippians 2:3 " Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. " 
  • Property
    • Genesis 4:3-5 "In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell"
  • Parents
    • Exodus 20:12 " Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you."
  • Spouse
    • 1 Peter 3:7 "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."
  • The World
    • Genesis 1:28 " And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
  • Government
    • Romans 13:12 " Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."
    • Romans 13:1 " Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God"
  • To God
    • John 3:16 " For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."

Conversation Starters
  • Out of these forms of respect are there areas that you can improve?
  • Has pride ever put you in a place where you lost respect from someone?
Things to try.
  • Try setting a new time during your day that you can devote to a personal relationship with God.  Pray to him and see the blessings and respect he can pour out on you.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #4)

Mask #4: If others see problems within your marriage, they might get the wrong idea about what a healthy marriage should look like.

Scripture to consider:Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16, NASB)

The General Reality: Based on experience, I think the opposite is true.  You can learn from others’ mistakes and you can also learn through others, that conflict can be a stepping stone to a growing relationship.  Additionally, I have experienced great comfort in knowing that when my wife and I are at our worst, we are far from alone.  Our problems were never greater than the resolution and this was made clear when I met others who had already experienced those problems and successfully made their way through them.  Knowing this was pure encouragement!  Additionally, sometimes visiting a marriage and family therapist can greatly help your marriage, much like it did for my wife and I.
Sharing our problems with others ultimately saved our marriage from destruction because there is something about receiving the perspective of a neutral third party or parties that makes the potential for resolution more clear.  Ignoring that opportunity takes away from the resources available to you to strive for and reach a high quality, successful marriage.  The very reason that God created marriage was so that man would not be alone.  Plus, considering that our God is a relational God, we can’t be so arrogant to assume that we, as His creation, can go at this alone.  We were made to work together!

Conversation Starters

·         Have you ever felt like reaching out to others for marriage help but did not because you were afraid of the results?

·         Do you think sharing some of your past relational challenges could help others get through the same challenges? 

Things to Try

·         If you are experiencing marriage trouble (even if it seems to be too small of an issue to bring up), try visiting a marriage and family therapist.  Doing this can not only help a failing marriage, but can also turn a mediocre marriage into a vibrant, joyful one.

·         Choose a friend or family member who has been married longer than you have and ask them what makes their marriage successful.  You may find yourself learning something new that could change your marriage forever.  You may even teach the older/longer married couple a thing or two.

Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #3)

Mask #3: Couples who are not affectionate with each other do not love each other as much as a couple that shows far more affection for one another.

Scripture to consider:The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.(1 Corinthians 7:3-5, NIV)

The General Reality: For those of you who have not read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, I strongly recommend it.  The concepts that Gary shares have changed the way I look at my own marriage as well as the y way I look at myself.  It didn’t just help my marriage either; it helped me to understand all other relationships I had as well.  My wife and I have had many arguments about the amount of affection we show each other.  I happen to be the one that loves hugs, kisses, and cuddling and the truth is, there is no such thing as too much affection.  It doesn’t bother me to show affection in public either. Now let’s think within reason here folks!  The rest of you can get a room!  I’m not talking about the kind of affection you often see between two young teenagers at the grocery store where you find yourself wondering why their parents would allow such a thing at any time.  I’m talking about the simple hug or kiss that just lets your spouse know that you are there and you care. 
My wife on the other hand, although she can be very affectionate at times, has her limits.  At times of frustration or overwhelming circumstances, she tends to push away.  Suddenly, close contact only adds to her frustration.  The mistake I often make is to assume that this means she doesn’t value me or love me the way that she once did.  This very assumption will cause more friction in our marriage than if I would have just let it go.  The reality is that she doesn’t love me any less.  This is just the way she handles frustration and anxiety and that has nothing to do with me.  There are many more ways to show love and if you read “The Five Love Languages,” you will get a clearer understanding of what that entails. 
So the next time you experience a similar conflict in your marriage or you see another couple that seems to display more or less affection than you and your spouse, understand that this is not a reflection of the quality of their relationship.  Quite honestly, marriages experiencing poor quality relationships can display more affection than those experiencing high quality relationships.  This can also be true in the opposite direction.  Simply put, don’t judge a book by its cover.  Do what works for you and your spouse and you’ll find more harmony respecting that decision than trying to measure up to what others are doing or think you should be doing. 

Conversation Starters

·         Go online and research the five love languages.  What have you learned?

·         Have you ever felt like others have judged you for having too much or too little affection for your spouse?

·         Are there any other reasons why showing affection may be difficult for you?  If you uncomfortable talking about this publically, discuss this with your spouse in private.

Things to Try

·         There are free online tests that you can take to determine what your primary love languages are.  Take some time for you and your spouse to discover together, what those languages are.  Practice speaking their love language to them.

·         If your spouse prefers more affection, try giving it to them.  The results should be rewarding for you as well.