No Sacrifice…It Is a Privilege!

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.—Psalm 116:12-14

C.T.Studd has said “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him”. I agree wholeheartedly. But I also agree with Dr. David Livingstone asking “If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?…People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege”.

I think we are once again looking at a paradox at its best.

For the world it might look like a huge sacrifice giving up some pleasures and the life style they love. But for the person who is answering God’s call it suddenly becomes the best thing ever happened to her/him. How is this possible? It’s not possible for us but it is possible for God! Self-preservation is the way of the world. Self-sacrifice is the way of God powered by the Holy Spirit.

Catherine Booth equips us this way: “Whatever the particular call is, the particular sacrifice God asks you to make, the particular cross He wishes you to embrace, whatever the particular path He wants you to tread, will you rise up, and say in your heart, ‘Yes, Lord, I accept it; I submit, I yield, I pledge myself to walk in that path, and to follow that Voice, and to trust Thee with the consequences’? Oh! but you say, ‘I don’t know what He will want next.’ No, none of us know that, but we know we shall be safe in His hands.”

Until we take the leap of faith to follow God’s calling we don’t know the blessings that are attached to the sacrifice we are about to make. It comes once again to trusting God and his promises. J.I. Packer encourages us to be radical for Christ: “Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present”.

It sure is tyme to set aside our excuses. God does not plan bad things for us. Frederick Buechener’s famous quote underlines this, too: “the place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It might seem like a sacrifice but it ends up being a privilege instead. It is indeed a honor and a privilege to serve God. Yet we are not doing it alone. We are powered by the Holy Spirit. Hence we can be bold like David Livingstone and say: “Without Christ, not one step; with Him, anywhere!”

Heart-loyalty to the Lord means continual effort to bring all the conduct of our lives, our thoughts and intents of our hearts, into subjection to the Divine will 2 Corinthians 10:45. This is our first duty, our continual duty, and will be the end of our duty; for “This is the will of God concerning our sanctification.” In practical terms how do we carry out this sacrifice of thanksgiving in our daily lives. First, we must learn to attune ourselves to his will. Do we find tyme to daily study his word, because therein will we find what his will is for us? Do we truly believe that every issue of life can be resolved by going to the word of God, not only in the large matters, but also in the small? Have we a prayer life that is one of continual thankfulness? Do we note every thing that the Father does for us, no matter how insignificant we feel it may be? Are we approaching him less and less to grant our desires and more and more to thank him for life’s circumstances?

Daily do we attempt to speak forth the wonderful words that have been given us? Do we find some way each day to give comfort to the sin-sick and heavily burdened world? Perhaps a tract, or just a word in due season heralding the coming kingdom. Daily do we pray for greater means and ways to speed the harvest to its completion? Do we desire to find more opportunities in service and once finding them, heartily put our hand to the plow?

Do we look for ways each day to serve our brethren and lighten their burdens? Do we love them because we see the growth in them that marks them as being the Lord’s? Do we overlook and cover their blemishes and imperfections by not making them topics of discussion with others or even giving their foibles credence by thinking about them? Are we cognizant of both their spiritual and temporal needs, ever on the watch to see if in some way we can help? Do we give of our tyme as well and our means whenever and wherever needed? Perhaps it is tyme spent in helping in some temporal task, or perhaps it is tyme spent in study so that we will always have something to give, either in private conversation or at the meetings.

Do we delight to meet with our brethren on all occasions? Do we make the meetings our personal responsibility and feel a burning need to always be there and to always try and gladden the hearts of all who are there? At night, as we end the day, do we review what we have done and said? Do we see some progress in the development of our characters? Do we admit to our failures and seeks ways to do better the next tyme we are tried and tested? Have we seen and learned all of the lessons that the Lord had for us that day? Is our life in Christ the center point of our existence? Then this will be our sacrifice of thanksgiving. From one standpoint, doing these things will be a sacrifice—a sacrifice of tyme, money and cherished ambitions, because now there will be neither tyme or means for them. But from another standpoint it will be our great joy in this life, because the Lord promises us: “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” Proverbs 10:22. Is our lofty goal the completion of the race course and are we bending our all to win the great prize” When we ask “What shall I render unto the Lord?” is our joyful response “EVERYTHING?”

 

*Resource: Mari-Anna Stålnacke

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What Matters Most Is How You See Yourself!

“It’s not worth your tyme. Yes, you know what I mean. Ever sit and feel like you are not as good as [fill in the blank]? Ever feel like you ‘should’ do more? Here’s some news: We live in a world of leaders, stop comparing yourself. Each person has their gifts, and their gifts shine in different ways and at different tymes. When you compare yourself to others, you don’t win; you hurt your own brightness and stop focusing on developing your strengths”.

To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – to each according to his ability… For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich. Matthew 25:14-30 NIV

One of the least understood principles of success but one of the most vital is this – your God-given gift will make room for you! We were each born with God-given gifts, talents and abilities. But one noticeable characteristic of successful leaders is that they don’t secretly compare or compete with other leaders in an unhealthy way. That’s not to say that it is not tempting to look at others and think of another leader, “Wow I wish I had the character quality or skill…” But at the end of the day, if that is your pattern, you will be paralyzed by comparison. It will make a way for you in life. It is in exercising this gift that you will find real fulfillment, purpose, and contentment in your work. It is interesting to note that the Bible does not say that a man’s education makes room for him, but that his gift does!

“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world…if you do so, you are insulting yourself.”             ― Bill Gate

Be yourself personally and organizationally God made us all, but he made us all unique. There is no one else like you. And he wants you to live up to the full potential of who he made you to be. Successful leaders know who they are and avoid the temptation to try to be someone else. Here are a few passages of Scripture that are a reminder that God loves you just the way you are:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.             -Psalm 139:1-14 NIV

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.                                           – 1 Peter 3:3-4

*WHY IT’S UNWISE TO COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS:
1. You have no idea what another person’s journey is all about. You’re on the outside looking in. If you knew their story, you might not be so quick to compare yourself to them.

2. It may not be realistic for you to be where someone else is or have what they have. Different people are at different stages at different times. I had never even met the young lady in my class. For all I know, she could have been another instructor who’s been practicing yoga for years.

3. Although you may think it is, the grass is not always greener on the other side. And, if you would simply water your grass, it could be pretty and green. If I would work a little harder, practice at home outside of class and attend class more regularly, I’m sure I would be comfortable in that yoga position in no time!

4. Comparing yourself to others can lead to bitterness, anger, jealousy, envy and even an unhealthy competition. If I don’t watch myself, I could find myself going to class with the sole purpose of outdoing my yoga classmate.

*HOW TO STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
:
1. Recognize and acknowledge your true value and worth, but at the same time, accept yourself even with all of your faults and imperfections. We all have them. Make positive changes where you can. Do what you can to change the things you can and accept the things you can’t.

2. Find your own gifts and talents and develop them. Don’t covet the gifts and talents of others. Find that thing God wants you to do. Become the person He wants you to be.

3. Learn to appreciate others for who they are. Build relationships with those who live productive lives so you can share with them and learn from them.

4. Celebrate and reward yourself for who you are! Thank God for everything He’s blessed you with; all of your abilities, gifts and talents. Ask him to forgive you for comparing yourself to others.

Remember, focusing on others and on what they are doing will hinder you from seeing what God has in store for you! Don’t look over your Shoulder or you’ll Drop the Ball! When I was in High School I had the privilege of playing Center on our football team at tymes. One tyme when I was to hike the ball to our quarterback, I glanced over at the guy cross from me on the other team who was gunning for me. I was comparing myself to him. Because my eyes were on him, I didn’t focus on the player in front of me waiting for me to slip up! Luckily we where in a pulling play where the Guard & I both pulled left with the quarterback & I was able to catch the first guy off guard when he saw this play coming at him. We ran over him like a Mack truck at full speed riding over an empty soda can in the middle of the road! And we won the game two plays later… Umm…okay, I wish that was the way the game ended. Actually we lost. Lesson learned.

Don’t fall prey to comparing yourself to others. Just be yourself and be a good model for others to follow. The Bible clearly says that:

A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men Proverbs 18:16 NIV.

Essentially, what this scripture is saying is that you’re talented or have some gift or anointing, and then eventually your place will be made for you, and people of great means will get to hear you or partake of your gift.We need to understand that the Hebrew word translated “gift” in our text means a present. And the word “room” means to broaden. So, it could read this way:

“A man’s present will broaden, cause expansion, or create opportunity for him. And, on top of all that, a man’s present will bring him before great men.”

God gives us gifts and talents that will be a blessing to His body and the lost and God is no respecter of persons and he will make room for your gifts, your talents and your ministries just as he has done in the past. There is room for everyone and comparison just drains our creative potential. We should not worry because as long as our focus remains on our talents, we will be able to successfully make them our own. While life may seem like a treadmill where we always want more, just relax and own yourself, and I promise you’ll be a happier and satisfied leader.

*Resources: Ryan Erlenbush, Erica Dhawan & Ashley Denton

Don’t Look Back!!!

Don’t look back: Three words that together make up what I believe is a tymely prophetic utterance for the Body of Christ in this hour. Let me say them again: Don’t look back! Should you? Can you? Do you dare? Overcoming the past takes faith, and something more. Courage that’s what it takes to shed the problems and mistakes of the past and to dream again. When  relinquishing the past means an uncertain tomorrow when you’re at the end of yourself and about to give up. You can find refuge in the shadow of Jesus. Listen as he gently whispers, “It’s all right, my child. I will help you. I will never leave you.”*

Being a disciple of Jesus can at tymes, at least initially, seem to be an easy decision and attractive because of the excitement and thrills. However, as Jesus has followers asking if they can be His disciple or actually invites others, His final word to one is essentially “Once you start following Me, if you look back, you’re not fit for what’s ahead. I need to learn from the experiences of my past, but I cannot afford to dwell there, because if I do, I will miss where Jesus is going and what Jesus is doing today. God was, is, and will always be in the business of redeeming our lives, our past mistakes–even our future!

One thing I know for sure, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” Luke 9:62 NIV.

Many are carrying hurts and wounds from the past. We don’t shake them off and come up higher because we keep looking back to the people and circumstances that crushed our hearts. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use the injustice to propel us to places of greater authority in the kingdom like Joseph did, we rehearse our past in our own minds like a scratched CD. Out of the abundance of the bitterness and resentment in our hearts, our mouth speaks poison that defiles us. And we remain less-than-effective in proclaiming the kingdom of God because we won’t bury the dead and say farewell to the past. The good news is, Jesus is our past, present and future healer.

Others are paralyzed by the past. We’ve become spiritual paraplegics, so to speak—unable to move forward because fear of an unpleasant history repeating itself has gripped our souls. We’ve given up on the dreams that God has put in our hearts because of a traumatic life event arranged by the evil one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. We are afraid to pursue the prophetic promises the Lord has spoken over our lives, sometimes more than once. Like Lot’s wife, we continue looking back at the death and destruction and figuratively turn into a pillar of salt, frozen in time. The good news is, Jesus came to loosen us from our spiritual paralysis.

Then there’s shame, a spiritual disease that’s running rampant in the Body of Christ because of past sin. Because we don’t understand the heart of the Father, we wallow in a stew of guilt and condemnation and feel unworthy to move out into the things of God. When Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”Luke 9:62 NIV, I don’t believe He was condemning someone who looked back. I believe He was warning us of the danger of looking back. Why? Because looking back makes us spiritually unfit for kingdom work. By looking back, we are essentially putting God’s kingdom off until tomorrow. Faith is now. The good news is, Jesus bore all our shame and all our sin so we can repent and move forward in the grace of God.

Yes, there is such a thing as looking back to past victories to encourage ourselves in the Lord like David did. But other than for purposes of glorifying His name, looking back has little value—and it can rob our peace, our joy and even our destiny. Jesus had asked some men to follow him.  Each said they would, but they had other commitments they wanted to take care of first. One wished to wait for his father to die, so he could take care of his family’s affairs. Another wanted tyme to say goodbye to his family. They would follow Jesus tomorrow. Or in a few years.

A farmer distracted from his work will not plow in a straight row. He’ll have to start the row all over again and focus until all the rows are straight and the field is ready for planting crops. It takes dedication and focus. And this is true for so many things. If a person is not completely dedicated to a healthy diet and regular exercise, achieving physical fitness may become very difficult or impossible. A little fast food here, a lazy morning there, and then—hey! Where did those extra pounds come from? “Cheating” just a couple of tymes shouldn’t matter too much, right?

We Christians lose focus all too often. The temptation is always there to set aside serving God for just a moment. I can go back to being a full-tyme Christian later.  For now, I just want to be part-tyme. I mean, I’ll really commit myself to being an honest, self-controlled Christian just after I’m finished fooling around and experiencing life.  I’ll forgive my roommate later; let me just spread a few embarrassing stories first.  I promise I’ll start living my faith, right after tonight’s party.  C’mon!  I don’t want my friends think I’m some sort of goody-two-shoes. I’ll start going to church again after I’ve graduated and have a career. School is pretty hard for me right now, and I could really use the extra sleep…

I’m reminded of the teaching on the Beatitudes. God created man in His own image and after His likeness; He created man with a forward look, with a pair of eyes that would constantly be looking forward and not backward. By looking backward instead of forward, we bring on ourselves much of our distress, our unhappiness, our frustration, our confusion, our lack of peace. … It seems the easiest thing in the world to do is to live in the past, when we live in the past, there are and will be regrets. We see the nurturing of hurt feelings. There will be thoughts of injustice, there will be memories of things that should be buried and forgotten. We are reluctant to loose our hold on the past and hesitate to start living in the future. As a result, instead of joy and adventure, we know only the pangs of remorse, and we never have peace of mind.

We are to “…endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” 2 Timothy 2:3 KJV. God promises to be with us through even the worst tymes. My past has seen plenty of heartache and sorrow, I can tell you that I would be living a life of defeat if I did not resist the temptation to relive the abandonment, abuse and losses I’ve experienced.  I had to make it my determined purpose to move on. The secret to moving forward is to repent, forgive and press on. The Lord is saying to you “Don’t look back.” It’s not only prophetic; it’s scriptural. Receive this insight today, and run the race toward your prophetic destiny unburdened by the past.

When you cross the finish line, Jesus will be there to reward you as a good and faithful servant who spent your energy building the kingdom instead of allowing the devil to destroy your peace. The point is, when you’re going forward in life, there’s no reason to dwell on your past. You have to move past your past. Consider the words of Paul the apostle, who had to forgive himself for religious mistakes and forgive others for trespasses against him:

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Phil. 3:12-14, NKJV.

Don’t get caught up in what you did… Look forward to what you WILL DO!


*Resource: Max Lucado & Jennifer LeClaire

Nothing To Lose & Everything to Gain, I Surrender All

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…“ ~Ephesians 1:18-20

I read these versus this morning and was taken back by how amazing our life is in Christ. There is nothing we face that God can not or has not overcome. Adversity brings with it hurt, pain, depression, lonesomeness, fear, but our God is an awesome God, and His presence affords us the opportunity to rise above any and all circumstances, and to claim victory.  Victory not in our own ability, or even in the anticipation of peace, but in His power and Love for us in any and all circumstances.

Today we will discover what Paul wanted the Ephesians to “know” and what in turn we need to know, specifically:

* the hope of our calling   * the riches of our inheritance * the greatness of his power

I have a confession to make—Most of my life I was a silent Christian. As a younger Christian, I thought it was okay to be silent until I had more training on how to articulate and defend Christianity. After completing some seminary, I thought it was okay to be silent because I was only 24 and considered myself young and unqualified to speak about Christ to my elders. Now, at 38, I am running out of excuses.

Occasionally, over the years, I have tried to understand why I was so silent. I think partly it was fear—fear of embarrassment, fear of losing friendships, fear of failure, fear of misusing scripture. But I think it was also partly out of a lack of love and compassion. Oh, my heart is pulled to help relieve the suffering of people, but I care far more about relieving the temporal suffering of people than I do about relieving their eternal suffering in hell.

I have walked with God for much of my life. And after someone like me gets comfortable in that walk, I start taking over again. It happens quite subtly, actually.  Little by little, over tyme, so gradually sometymes that I barely even notice that it’s happening.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a man who likes to be in control. Give me enough tyme, and I can almost talk myself into thinking that self-reliance is a good thing. Surely God desires for me to put those critical thinking skills to good use, right?  Or to rely on past experience, or even my education. Or to work really hard at being a hard-working and responsible individual. While all of these things can be qualities used for good, God never intended for me to take the lead without Him. If you’re anything like me, you know that can be a pretty frustrating and futile way to live. Still, often tymes before I know it, I’ve taken back the reigns on my life that were never meant to be mine in the first place. 

And God got me on the very first verse of Ephesians.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God

God has a great plan for your life. For mine. But like Paul, we have to know who we are in Christ before the rest of the story makes sense.

Think about it, really. If Paul was going to spend tyme in prison and still fully submit to and accept God’s will for his life, his identity had to be secure.  Really secure.  So before Paul gives a bunch of disciplines to strive towards in order to grow in Christ-like maturity, he begins Ephesians by simply telling us who we are.  He sets us up for spiritual success.  And the reminder that I need in my life over and over again?  Real success in the end doesn’t depend on me. Now there’s a load off.

His eternal presence and love is our peace, and it is available wherever you find yourself.

My identity apart from Christ is lacking and without hope.  My identity with Christ is everything!  Oh, to read Ephesians 1 and to refresh in my heart and mind that I am a child of the Most High God, who:

… has blessed me with every spiritual blessing.

chose me before the creation of the world.

adopted me as His child.

… gives me His grace freely.

… offers me redemption and forgiveness.

Why in the world do I fall back into the pattern of doing things on my own strength when the very same power that raised Christ from the dead is accessible to me as His child?  It’s incomparably great power for us who believe!  Once I let this truth sink in, I can “walk the aisle” in obedience, ready to fully surrender, once again, to whatever His will is for my life.  Mountains and valleys will come, and I can follow His lead, confident of whom I am in Christ.

If we say we have faith, then we have to roll with the crashing waves and just focus on not falling off the boat. Jesus slept during the storm while his disciples freaked out watching the waves crash into their boat. Jesus knew that God would always see them through; that God could calm the waves and make things right, and has empowered all of us through love, hope, and faith to see past the storm and see it as fear and what it is… nothingness. So to prove this fact, Jesus stood and silenced the fearful men by commanding the storm to stop the madness and be still. God has equipped us with the power to stop our own madness that bubbles up within. God has equipped us with the power to overcome fear by putting our trust in Him.

Today makes the second day I have had only four hours of sleep because I was overwhelmed with things that were going on in my life and blindsiding me; but unlike yesterday, today I woke up with a sense of peace; and even now after receiving sound counsel these past two days from a wise person I have resolved to the understanding that we can’t say we have faith and are faithful but then want to pick and choose when our faith is tested- there is no convenient tyme to walk into a storm. We must be mentally and emotionally prepared at all tymes like disciplined soldiers to face the test whenever it comes and for as long as it lasts, no matter how intense and no matter how tired we get- we must keep marching on.

And He will be enough.

Take the reigns, Father.  They’re rightfully Yours.  Give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better (Eph. 1:17), and lead me all the way.

“Thinking Like A Man”, Oh It’s Not That Easy!

There are many article, books, movies, & stories by & for women about what they want from their husbands, partners, or lovers, but so few by men. So here is one!

Ever since the release of Mel Gibson; movie What Women Want  earlier in the 2000s, everyone been tiring to finding out the “inside scoop” on what the opposite sex truly wants and desires! And now with Steve Harvey’sThink Like A Man” coming out this today interest seems to have RE-skyrocketed! Perhaps you have seen some of the surveys on this topic that have been circulating in books, magazines, e-mails Dr. Phil and all the other self-help talk shows. But what would you guess is at the top of most husbands’ lists of things they want from their wife? Sex, right? Noop! That was my first guess too. In our current cultural climate, it’s easy to assume that sex dominates every man’s thoughts, hopes, and dreams. And it’s true that sex does rank high on most husbands’ want lists i.e. (1A or a very close second). But ask an honest and mature man what they want first and foremost from their wives, and the majority will not say, “Sex.” They’ll answer, “Respect ~ R.E.S.P.E.C.T!” according to *(2012 Askmen.com poll 83.4% & a 2010 Men’s Health polls 79% of men over thirty said “Respect me first!”)

Ok! So before we get started, you may ask what are my credentials i.e. (Master/PHD in Psychology? No. Couples counselor for multiple years? Not yet, working on that. Just like Steve Harvey, I’m a man, with in my life tyme have had some good/bad relationships. All of which that has helped me to become the man/husband I am today. I realize that I am a happy to be a married man! One who is just coming to grips and revelation after 7 years on becoming a Godly husband to my wife.

I’m far far from flawless! But I’m perfectly flawed! No one is perfect but being imperfect with all of my flaws makes me perfectly me. No one else could be me more perfectly then me!  But I’m working toward Godly perfection, and a perfect marriage. ~ADB                              And beside these are just my opinions on my blog website!”

Since men do not discuss their feelings as easily as women, it is often difficult to determine just what they expect out of a relationship, especially a marriage. Many women throughout tyme have been devastated by a sudden divorce request from their husbands. They may have thought that he was perfectly happy but in truth, he was completely miserable. In order to keep your marriage healthy it is vitally important to understand what men really want in a wife and how to be the wife that they want and need! To understand the concept of what men really want you can look at some of the marriage priorities that men have given over the years to their pastor, co-workers,  friends and barber/therapist .

Do I have the “quote ~ unquote” “perfect marriage?” If I were to answer yes, I would be denying all the stretch marks left by a great deal of personal growth experienced throughout our marriage. We’ve been married for 7 years and just renewed our vowels, and my wife and I are best friends. I can’t imagine being married to anyone else. Does that mean I wouldn’t like to shake her silly sometymes YES! But every coin has a flip side to it. And I know she like to POP me in the back of my head with a Cast-iron Frying pan at tymes too! Because she has told me on many occasions! But just because your marriage is far from perfect does not mean your marriage is not rooted in God’s plan! We are God’s masterpieces, a work in progress that is rough around the edges! That finished diamond. But we are actively seeking a biblical one flesh marriage. A marriage where we can be known completely by each other and by God. One of love.

What is perfection in a marriage, anyway? Is it a lifelong perception of what things should be like, based on fantasy, or is it a perspective, achieved after having studied everything a person has witnessed throughout their life and decided was close enough? In my perspective, over the past twenty three years of my married life when my wife and I worked toward a mutual goal as a team with two different ways of thinking, and molding those different thought patterns together it was our perception that things worked out great. Whenever one of us thought that their way was the only way, defecation occurred, (Google it if you need to).

Quick spiritual commercial break:

Marriage sounds hard! Because it is! Very, Extremely!! But when you realize how blessed you are? Like I have been, it’s worth it!!! Someone LIED when they said it was easy when 2 became 1! What is that ? That NEW MATH? It is a lot easier though, when both individuals in the marriage realize that there is more involved than their individuality. We need to let God begins to rewrite the song on our hearts, a song created after His own image. For God is a Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–in which the perfect and abiding Friendship exists from all eternity. How does God develop it? If we really want to become best friends in your marriage, we must first embrace God’s lyrics of friendship and then let the Holy Spirit fill in the melody of friendship. The first divine lyric of friendship is that we must commit ourselves to becoming best friends in our marriage, no matter the cost–we really have to want it. Our motto is corny but it’s ours “You & Me Against the World!”

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).

Becoming best friends in marriage means that we must become sticky friends.  The word used in Proverbs 18:24 for “sticks” is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 for “cleaving”  “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”  “Cleaving” or “sticking” is a commitment to permanency in marriage, to be glued together for life. Without such a permanent bond, best friendships in marriage will eventually disintegrate. Superficial companionship are the best for which we can hope.

Whatever the adversity, the “sticky friend” rushes headlong into the crisis and brings the sweet counsel of friendship. You see, a “sticky friendship” marriage is not merely formed with the best of intentions. It is “Taught by the Holy Spirit, Trained by Experience, Tried, Tested & Forged in the Fire of Adversity!

Now back to the scheduled topic at hand:

First and foremost, it’s not complicated. What men really want from their wives is appreciation. We want to know that you appreciate the work that they do and everything that they contribute to your marriage and family. Simply put, men do not want to feel as if they are being taken advantage of. Just imagine how you would feel if you didn’t think anyone appreciated all the hard work you do? Men are no exception.

“He wants to be her hero. When she is disappointed and unhappy over anything, he feels like a failure,” says relationship expert John Gray. “Many women today don’t realize how vulnerable men are and how much they need love too.” We want our wives to laugh and smile frequently. We want you to laugh at our bad jokes and appreciate our dumb stories of past glory days i.e. “H.S / College Football or old Army tales”. Of course you don’t want to plaster a fake Ms. America smile on your face at all tymes. You need to really keep a good sense of humor and appreciate the little ways that we tries to make you smile. So many men slog it out, day after day and it’s never good enough?!? Their pain is palpable. They want that love and respect so badly that they keep trying despite the lack of positive reinforcement. They’re acting like servants, but certainly not being treated like kings…

Yes, of course, there are situations where it’s reversed. I know women who try with lack of response. I know women who are the victims of repeated criticisms and abuse. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not diminishing that! But that is not the issue here. The issue here is what the responsibility is for a married women and are they fulfilling it? As they say in every wise marriage class, marriage is not about give and take, it’s not 50/50, there is no 80/20 rule applying here, it’s not about equal division of labor (it’s not Ford auto plant!); marriage is about each side giving and giving and giving 100%, 99 and a half just won’t do!

Finally – and this is the big one – he wants tyme alone with you. Although a healthy sex life is important to many men, being alone together does not necessarily mean for sex. It is important for you both to be sexually satisfied but it may be a bit more important to just spend alone tyme together. A date night once every week or so will do wonders for his self-esteem and yours as well. It will help you to create and maintain a stronger bond between you. Men want to know that their wives want to be with them. Honestly, men are like little boys sometymes who often feel self-conscious and frightened. It is important that you show your husband that you are still attracted to him, not just sexually but emotionally as well. He needs you to be his Ride-Or-Chic, his Spinach when he weak.

If you feel that your husband is not currently happy then discuss these issues with him.

Ask him how he feels about your marriage and your personal relationship. Give him the opportunity to speak up about what he feels is missing in your marriage. Communication is the key to a successful marriage. Talk to him and ensure that you are both getting everything that you dreamed from your relationship.

Try adding the following sweet notes to God’s lyrics so if you want to become best friends in your marriage,

  • First and foremost, embrace Jesus Christ who is our ultimate Sticky Friend–love and obey Him as one of His disciples.  Ask Him to make you best friends with your mate.
  • Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you slaves.  For the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you (John 15:13-15).
  • Go back and replay your falling-in-love days, when you and your mate first became best friends.  Schedule a date.  Talk to each other.  Listen to each other.  Play, laugh, and dream again.
  • Always ask God to give you the right wording and timing when you need to “speak the truth in love” with your mate.  “Wounding” is always remedial, never punitive.
  • Link up with another couple who are also trying to develop into “sticky friends.”  Spend tyme together.  Share ideas.  Encourage each other.

*Source: bymoms.com & Dr. Barry R. Leventhal Two Becoming One publications

The Only Thing Worse Than Being Blind Is Having Sight Without Vision

Do you have your sights set on the next level, but no real “vision” for your life? Do you have a vision in your mind that you’ve been too afraid or busy or distracted to commit it to paper? Where are you going? Where are you headed in life? Do you have a goal or destination in mind? What is the vision for your life? Too many people walk around and don’t have any idea where they are going. A nowhere destination always results from a nowhere plan.

Several years ago while I was still in the Army, I was blessed to accompany the 2nd Battalion, 22 Infantry, “Triple Deuce” to conduct three weeks of jungle operations training at Ft. Sherman, Panama. My unit and I were conducting Assault Climbers Training (ACT) at the Mountain Warfare Training Center. While tactically rappelling down a steep cliff. I had just tied off my 7/16” rope and put my harness on. I was attempting to step over the cliff and lost my footing.

I immediately started sliding down the cliff and fell over seventy plus feet. My grigri rappel system malfunctioned. I made the mistake of not checking the tie point for myself and paid the price. I ended up on the ledge sixty feet down; I had several puncture wounds on my legs and hands, and chipped a tooth on the way down as my face made contact the rocks. All of sudden, everything went dark. I couldn’t see anything. The panic which followed was pretty intense as you can imagine! I thought I was dead, then I heard my squad voice’s & thought I had just gone blind? But within seconds, my sight returned. Thank you JESUS!

For someone who has sight, I can’t imagine how terrible it would be to be blind premarital. But worse than being blind, would be being blind and deaf. This is how Helen Keller lived her life… blind and deaf. Helen Keller was asked “What would be worse than being born blind?” She replied, “To have sight without vision.” Proverbs 29:18 says “that where there is no vision the people perish”. With a vision life has direction. What you can see is what you can be. Though she accomplished more in her life than billions on the planet who both see and hear, some continued to have compassion on her, seeing her as some poor, unfortunate disabled person, while seeing themselves as whole and complete. Ms. Keller understood that it is not our sight which takes us places, but rather our vision.

Proverbs 29:18  puts it this way: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

People with vision possess two things: they know where they are going and they are able to persuade others to follow.

Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is vision and vision is seeing a worthy possibility before it actually takes place. To fulfill a God given vision you must take the limits off your thinking. Why it is that two people can be in the same place at the same tyme and both see entirely different things? Could it be that we see what we are prepared to see? In other words, what you see if what you get.

I want to encourage you today to look within yourself. What do you see? Vision starts from within! Look behind you, what have you learned? Leonard Lauder, president of Estee Lauders Said “When a person with experience meets a person with money, the person with experience will get the money. And the person with the money will get the experience. Look ahead of you what is the big picture? Look above yourself, what is God expecting of you? Great visions are bigger than one person. Look beside you, what resources are available to you? A vision should be greater than the person who has it.

While pursuing your vision remember to put in the things you love. People carry pictures of other people and things they love with them. And remember to achieve the vision you are pursuing takes tyme. So, take tyme to stop and rest, smell the flowers, encourage someone and stay your course. We all need to be refreshed from tyme to tyme, mentally and physically. To fuel your vision you must have passion. Passion shows itself in different ways in different people. Vision is more than just a mental image of the future.

Vision sees a better, more desirable future and provides direction and fuels motivation for its achievement. To turn your vision into reality:

• You must picture the vision                                            • Get focused
• Give your heart to the vision                                          • Get organized to accomplish your vision
• Make sure your vision pleases God                              • Step out on faith and take a risk
• Put your faith into action

One of the reasons so many drift though life and end up on the rocks of devastation is because they have no vision. They have sight, which misleads them to believe they are making progress because they can see the movement all around them, but that movement is not progress. It’s merely movement. Progress comes not from sight, but from vision. It’s too bad there’s not a tool to check our vision like there is to check our site. You may have 20/20 sight, but what is your vision??

Walt Disney on his death bed had not completed building Epcot Center. What was to be his crown jewel and it was not likely he would be alive at its completion. In an interview he was asked how he felt knowing he would not be around to see the completion of such a marvelous project. His reply, “I’ve already seen it.” To have vision is such a blessing…to see things and people as they can be not what it or they are at the moment is truly a gift. I believe we all have the gift; it just takes effort to learn to apply it in our lives. God’s gift to you is your potential. Your gift back to God is what you do with that potential. Revisit, revamp and renew the vision for your life. And let’s not be a person who has sight but no vision!!!

WTFWJD? ~ Christians Don’t Have To Curse

***Warning***

NOTE: no curse words are used in this article other than some mild “profanity” and some  potentially insensitive words are used in this blog post that might make you blush, giggle, hate, or swear to yourself or others.

I was listening to a radio program the other day and they were discussing the “Christian” swear words that we use. First they started off by having people call in and spill the beans on all the words they use “Whatdafrack, Shut the front Door, Sugar Honey Iced Tea,  Holy Grape Smucker’s ~ I didn’t get that one?” then they dove into whether or not it was right for us to use those words. Overall it was an interesting discussion and thought it would make for a good post. This is a tough topic to write about. I don’t know that I can match Jon Acuff’s article on Remix #31. Occasionally Swearing, or cause as much of a flurry as pastor Ed Young, but I would like to lend my thoughts to the discussion.  By the way, before I start, in the interest of full disclosure and transparent: Okay here’s the deal, I cuss sometymes… and I’m in the ministry: I’ve been known to occasionally let a few profanities slip out. (Don’t judge me, just pray for me. I’m a work in progress. It’s not an excuse, it’s the truth!) I’ve said the occasional curse word in the heat of a stressful moment. Every once in a while, a situation arises where it seems that a curse word can better express frustration or even anger better than any other word might. At tymes it’s hard to be harmless as doves and not as wise as serpents. Matt 10:16 MSG

I must say I do  get frustrated when people feel like they’re walking on eggshells around me JUST because I’m in the ministry. I recently ran to a friend at McDs’ whom I hadn’t seen in about 10 years. She knew I was in the ministry from “FB”. We had a quick conversation and what not but it felt tense. She keep say my pardon everytyme she said a cuss word so… I broke the ice. I said, “I’m not your traditional Christian. Yes! I do minster, Yes! I am a leader in my church, AND YES! I do slip up and say crazy S*%t sometymes.” She was like WOW! It was amusing to me that she immediately breathed a sigh of relief. Then I asked her to pardon me! Besides being a minister, a gentleman should not cuss at a lady! Unless she cut you off on 76 by turn right from the far left lane. Just joking! Not really!

Profanity is a long standing phenomenon in history. Cussing, obscenities, cursing, swearing, dirty words–whatever you want to call it–exists in all languages. The word “profanity” literally means “outside the temple” and the word “obscenity” literally means “off stage”. We shouldn’t use coarse language to try and be “cool” or “provocative”. Those words (“profanity” and “obscenity”) imply that there may be a place for those things – not “in the temple” or “on the public stage”, but in more private conversation and thought and discourse.

First and foremost: God does call us to purity. To holiness, to right living, sin should not abound because grace is abundant. Christians are supposed to be pure in contrast to the ways the rest of the world is dark. We are called to look different than “non-Christians” in affection, thought, conduct, and speech and I have definitely failed much in this respect. Words are very powerful. They can bring communities together or tear them apart. This is what Colossians 3:8 is talking about. Paul mentions several things that can hurt others in a relational sense and his final thing is “obscene talk”. Coarse, filthy, and inappropriate statements about others can infect an entire group as much as anger, gossip, or slander, whether or not they use “bad” words. Speech is a precious gift God has given to us and it should be used to His glory and His honor.

This article is not a defense of Christians cursing. I’ve been a Christian for fifteen years now and have heard many arguments around this issue. You have the classic “there’s no list in the Bible of curse words” or the related “curse words are just random arbitrary words that the culture says are wrong” (both arguments are sort of absurd). On the other side you have those that say Christians should never curse because “we are called to a higher standard of holiness” and this is absolutely true.  (It is this idea that has given me the most pauses on this topic and originally inspired this article.)

Clearly, the Bible forbids something called aijscrologiva (aischrologia), “obscene speech.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech [aijscrologiva (aischrologia)] from your mouth” (NASB). The NIV translates the word as “filthy language.” The KJV has “filthy communication.” The ASV reads, “shameful speaking.”

According to Wikipedia, studies on swearing have been conducted that prove there is actually a pain relieving effect. “Swearing is a widespread but under-appreciated anger management technique.” So that’s why when I stub my toe, a swear word sometymes enters my mind. I don’t usually speak it, but it’s there, nonetheless. Which leads me back to the question of believers dropping F bombs. The Bible has some rather colorful language in parts. For example, “they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss” and “Behold; I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings…” So, is cursing a heart issue rather than purely a language issue? One linguistics study conducted found that the more a person curses, the less of a pain relieving effect it has on the body. So suddenly, if you start cursing like a truck driver, you can’t claim you are doing so for its therapeutic effects.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his first letter, “But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Paul was referring to what a man eats, but I believe the same principle can also be applied to cursing. We have liberty in Christ since we are no longer under the old law. However, we are not to participate in behavior in front of others that would cause them to stumble in their own faith.

To be clear, Christianity does contain facets that overflow into common morality. Excessiveness in drink, anger, greed, self-promotion…Are advised against by both. The problem with morality is that it is relative. When we get saved, we clean our lives up. That’s the “Gospel.” I have attended Theological Seminary and have heard and have heard Christians claim what you have about foul language and Paul and some Prophets using foul language. That was 2,000 years ago and we do not know contextually how those words were used back then outside of scripture. Maybe they were harsh but that does not mean that they were foul and used the same as curse words today.

But most interestingly, the Bible itself seems to have a lot of what some would consider cursing in it. In Philippians, Paul uses the very strong slang curse word for “feces” (our contemporary “s-word”) when referring to the “rubbish” that he counts all things as compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ as Lord. Prophets often say curse-strength statements to God’s people. And here we reach my ultimate point. What God calls us to and desires in us, and what is most attractive to “non-Christians, is authenticity as He changes us.Recognition of who we are as needy people that have not yet arrived. He does not call us to be and act like unbroken people in a broken world. He calls us to be the needy, messy people we are as we live in a messy, broken world. I’m realizing more and more the Church has exalted a false distinction between sacred and secular, even in language. God desires truth (honesty/authenticity) in our inmost parts, and sometymes authentically speaking may mean saying “bad” words.

So this is not a call to cursing. Rather, it’s a call to authenticity and freedom, even in our language. To be real people living in a real world. To know, embrace, and rejoice in the fact that God loves that different parts of His Church look very different and have very different ways of wearing their Holiness. As we go through tyme, drawing nearer to God, our authenticity changes as we grow more into the image of Christ. It’s a long, struggling, hard process, but it is what we should strive for.  Self-control can be a good thing. It flows into other areas of our life as well.  But it’s a process.  As we strive for holiness, can we please reclaim the old truth that holiness is from the inside-out and not the outside-in?  Whatever happened to St. Ausgustine’s famous summary of the Christian life: “Love God and do what you want”.  Is that messy?  Hell, yes.  I hope we Christians can continue to work towards loving our God and each other in our messiness, as we strive towards true authenticity, which is this: finding our broken needy selves in the arms of a strong loving Savior who is slowly making us whole, who would rather us be inwardly honest than externally clean (Matthew 23:27).

I’ve learned from thinking about this that my own tongue is too loose. I’ve made excuses for too long why saying this or that particular thing is good or not good. I think there is a lot left to the heart on this one. WTF are you talking about? <–see what I did there? That’s ok because I acronymmed it. The “F” can mean whatever you want it to mean. But, seriously, I grew up with virtually nothing being off-limits–including cussing–so when I came to the Lord, it was something that I didn’t want to engage in anymore. Have there been occasions when I’ve been off-color? You bet! Like most, I believe that more important than what comes out of the mouth is the why it came out. What is the motive there? I think God is far more concerned about the heart issue than the particular words. I try to avoid using profanity out of respect for those it might offend. But it happens. I believe it’s more a sin of conscience than it is a sin of morality. Jesus doesn’t just remind us that we are imperfect, but also that He is perfect. “Good behavior” not required, but righteousness and obedience out of a heart that loves Him. Just my 2 cents!

Resource:  Paul Burkhart & Nicole Cottrell