Kindling Love and Commitment

Couple.jpgRelationships are an amazing gift from God! Beyond the relationship that God wants to have with us through Christ, the greatest relationship that can be had is found in marriage. Before we even get two chapters read in the Bible, we see marriage debuted. For a short while Adam and Eve knew perfect harmony with each other and their creator. In fact, their marriage was the only perfect marriage.

If we are honest, none of us have perfect marriages. There are times we argue, are unkind, exchange hurtful words, are unloving, show disrespect and the list could go on. Truly, every marriage that will be harmonious takes effort, commitment and an ever growing relationship with Jesus Christ by both husband and wife.  Marriage is a relationship to be kindled each day for sure. Consider kindling your marriage like this:

  1. Practice Love and Respect. God instructs husbands in Ephesians 5 to love their wives unconditionally. Regardless of the behavior the wife, the husband is to show love. The practical standard of this is the husband loving his wife as much as he loves himself. Guys, kindle your marriage by truly loving your wife even on her worst day. Wives, on the other hand, are told to respect their husbands. Often wives give respect based behavior. However, God tells wives to respect her husband no matter what. Respect is demonstrated when a wife encourages and does not belittle.  One man said, “A wife that is loved will grow in loveliness and a husband that is respected will become more respectable.”
  2. Practice Clearing the Air. When troubles and conflict do arise, be sure to settle them quickly. In all cases, never go to bed angry. The Bible warns us about letting the sun go down upon our wrath. Every night before you fall asleep, kindle your marriage by making certain nothing is unsettled.
  3. Practice Investing in your Marriage. There are many things that will drain a marriage of harmony and closeness. Even good things can be the culprit. Reading books on marriage, maintaining time alone, planning dates and including times to get away to focus on your marriage are all important ways to invest. One of the greatest reasons we Grace Baptist Church host a Couples Retreat is to provide a way for couples to invest in their marriages. Sitting under Biblical instruction for marriages will always be a worthwhile investment.

Will you plan to kindle your marriage today? Will you plan to do something in this week as an investment in your marriage?

 


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Your Impact

 

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You have the unique, unspeakable power to impact others who live around you. When I speak of impact, I am talking about the ability to influence the direction, decisions and destiny of others. You have heard the statement, “No man is an island unto himself.” Simply put, every action, word and decision that you make influences the actions, words and decisions that others in your life make.

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

None of us slip into life and back out without making some kind of impact in the lives of others.

Take a moment to consider both the kind of impact and the amount of impact you are making. If you are like me, you will be left thinking, “How can I impact others more?”  The best way to maximize impact is to simply love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. Your impact will be directly proportionate to your relationship with God.

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus

Nine Lessons I Have Learned

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In honor of our ninth wedding anniversary, I thought I would share nine of the lessons that I have learned. Some of them are simple while others I am sure that I will continue to learn for the rest of my life. Regardless, I hope that they will be a blessing or help to you. So here

  1. God is Good.
    One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good…” It is so true!  One of God’s greatest demonstrations of goodness in my life was when He gave me Sheila. She is definitely way, way more than I deserve!
  2. God Honors Faith.
    One of the most important decisions God brought me to in life was to rest in Him about a life companion. I certainly wanted to be married and I wanted it in my time. I remember the day that I finally just said to God, “I will wait for the right person and the right time.” It was a huge step of faith for me which led to spiritual growth and eventually to finding my wife.
  3. Marriage is a Blessing.
    If you have listened to people talk about marriage, you have likely heard some sour perspectives about it. You have heard such things as a wife referred to as the”Old Lady” or the “Nag.” Some liken marriage to a ball and chain. I just want to say I love being married and have found marriage to be a gigantic blessing. Sure it has its ups and downs as well as its cycles. Every relationship does. Yet that does not change the fact that it is a blessing!
  4. Two are Better than One.
    Solomon said this in Ecclesiastes and I have found it to be true! Sheila is to me a friend, comrade, completer, helper, counselor and encourager! When I am discouraged, she finds something to say to lift my spirit. God said that it was not good for man to be alone. He knew what He talking about. I remember the bachelor days and I say two are definitely better than one.
  5. Humility is Key.
    I mentioned that marriage has its ups and downs. There are times that Sheila and I have not agreed and have been upset at one another. However, when we got married, we made vows committing ourselves to each other for the rest of our lives. Being committed to each other is also a commitment to work through disagreements. There have been many times in the past nine years that I have had to humble myself and say, “I was wrong, you were right and I love you.” Pride will kill a marriage, humility will grow it.
  6. Communication Cannot Be Overdone.
    We started communicating in the early stages of our relationship. We talked about everything—our dreams, goals, desires, expectations, fears and thoughts. We have often asked each other, “What is going on in your heart?” We have tried to always be comfortable with talking out our feelings and thoughts. Frustration mounts when communication lessens. Open communication takes constant work and but it is worth it!
  7. A Wife’s Intuition is a Great Thing.
    I have heard many older men say, “Learn to listen to your wife.” I assume they learned that from not listening to their wives. One of the reasons behind the advice given is that God created women with intuition. My wife often has a sense about a situation, person or decision that I have never thought about. Her input has many times proven invaluable.
  8. I am not Complete without Her.
    Undoubtedly you have heard men say of their wives, “She is my better half.” Again, that is so true of my wife. She completes me. I need her in my life. She makes everything I do better.
  9. True Love is Christ’s Love.
    We live in a society that defines love based on emotion. When Christ told men to love their wives, He was not speaking of an emotional love, but a sacrificial love. I confess, I have a lot of growth in this, but I have learned that the love I must have for my wife must be selfless and sacrificial. I am learning to delight in putting self aside and meeting her needs. When I practice Christ’s love toward her, I find that I am truly fulfilled. Before I was married, I asked a pastor to give me one piece of advice for marriage. He told me to work on getting rid of selfishness in my life. I have learned that I cannot show Christ’s love, true love, and be selfish.

These are things I have learned and will continue to learn. I am so very thankful for our marriage and look forward to the years ahead together!

Reflections on Couples Retreat



I always enjoy spending time with my wife. She is my best friend, cheerleader and soulmate. This was our second annual couples retreat at Grace Baptist Church. I would like to share several blessings of having and attending couples retreat.  

  1. Growing Together—Couples retreat is an awesome opportunity for God to work on a couple together. My wife and I hear the same Bible truth together and are given opportunity to respond to that truth together. It seems that God gives a focused openness to each other and an excitement about putting into practice what has been received. 
  2. Gaining Wisdom—We do well to listen and accept the advice of those who have walked with God for many years. We were privileged to have Dr. Bob Taylor and his wife Joan as our speakers. God used the wisdom they have gained from fifty plus years of marriage to give Biblical insight. I appreciated men in the older generation being willing to share all that God has taught them over the years. 
  3. Encouraging Others—It is exciting to see God’s people edified. In a day when Biblical marriage is under attack, what a blessing it is when marriages are strengthened! I praise God for the work He did in mine and what I heard testified that He was doing in other’s. 

In addition to these blessings, I want to give a two fold encouragement. 

  1. If you have not yet attended a couples retreat, plan to attend one! You will be blessed. Begin now to plan and save to be able to attend. 
  2. If you are a pastor and do not have an annual couples retreat, prayerfully consider beginning one. Strong families make up strong churches. Time investing in the marriages in your church will never be wasted time. 

Anger

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Ephesians 4:26-27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

I was reading Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Chambers and came across a helpful list of six conditions that make anger sinful. These were taught by Joseph Butler (1692–1752) and I believe helpful in evaluating our anger.

  1. When, to favor a resentment or feud, we imagine an injury done to us. 
  2. When an injury done to us becomes, in our minds, greater than it really is. 
  3. When, without real injury, we feel resentment on account of pain or inconvenience.
  4. When indignation rises too high, and overwhelms our ability to restrain.
  5. When we gratify resentments by causing pain or harm out of revenge. 
  6. When we are so perplexed and angry at sin in our own lives that we readily project anger at the sin we find in others.

Technology and Christian Homes

Teens-and-Technology-blankIt is very clear that technology is not going to go away. Children and teenagers growing up now need parents to both protect and direct them in the Godly use of technology. The fact is they will be using technology daily as adults and the principles that they learn now will help them live Godly while using technology. Here are a few suggestions.
  1. Use a family policy. 
    Every family with teens should have a carefully thought through and written set of guidelines regarding the use of technology. As with any guidelines, what is not inspected should not be expected. Be sure that you establish adequate accountability such as parents should have open access to all devices and accounts. By the way, open accountability ought be modeled by mom and dad. Teens ought to see that their parents are practicing what they preach.
  2. Use your computer’s existing features.
    Both Apple and Windows come with parental controls as a feature. You can set up allowed apps, sites people and time limits. Here are instructions for Mac and Windows. If you have Android devices, you can use an app called Kids Place. Apple devices have a built-in feature called restrictions.
  3. Use an internet filter.
    While parental controls limit access, filters filter content. There are two that I have discovered to be great options— Covenant Eyes and Safe Eyes. Each are full service filters. Each come with a monthly cost (which are cheaper than lifetime scars). I would encourage you to take the time and research a filter that is best for you and your family’s devices.
  4. Develop the heart. 
    One man said in relation to the internet, “The best filter is the heart.” While parental controls and filters will make it harder to stumble on or intentionally view junk on the internet, the heart is what determines to do right or wrong. If a man, woman or teen has a heart for God and righteous living, they will not seek out the dark side of the internet. No filter is completely fail proof, but coupling a right heart and a good filter will insure internet safety.

    Proverbs 4:20-27 My son, attend to my words;
    Incline thine ear unto my sayings.
    21 Let them not depart from thine eyes;
    Keep them in the midst of thine heart.
    22 For they are life unto those that find them,
    And health to all their flesh.
    23 Keep thy heart with all diligence;
    For out of it are the issues of life.
    24 Put away from thee a froward mouth,
    And perverse lips put far from thee.
    25 Let thine eyes look right on,
    And let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
    26 Ponder the path of thy feet,
    And let all thy ways be established.
    27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left:
    Remove thy foot from evil.