PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE

 

Wives, submit… unto your own husbands…Husbands, love your wives.   Ephesians 5:22,25

Understand this: (1) Every blessing God gives you will be contested by Satan. Satan was angry that Job’s family was a source of delight to God, his provider. Look out, God’s blessing on your home invites Satan’s attack. He’ll place thorns in your nest. He wants to be the third party in your relationship. He wants to agitate and disappoint, using your weaknesses. He inspires unrealistic expectations, diverts your focus from servant-hood to self-absorption. He fuels your imagination through television and unhealthy relationships until God’s presence ceases to be the atmosphere of your home or the goal of your union. Beware of his inroads. Become a watchman over your family. (2) Thoughts have presence. The moment you walk into a home you sense conflict or contentment, jealousy or joy. Your attitude is contagious. Like a thermostat, it determines the climate. One husband noted that certain television shows nurtured a sexual restlessness within him. He was comparing his wife with the sensuality of the performers. A young wife identified the timing of unexplainable jealousy toward her husband, after watching her favorite soap opera. Every emotion has a birthplace. So be sensitive to any changes in the environment of your home or inner life. (3) Love is more about listening than talking. Listen long enough for hidden emotions to be expressed. Listen carefully enough to gain understanding. Listen accurately, so you can assess the true needs of your mate that nobody else has been able to meet. Your questions reveal your caring. So ask them softly, ask them repeatedly, pray and process before you respond, and your marriage can become a masterpiece.



LEARN To BE CONTENT

 

Be relaxed with what you have. Hebrews 13:5 TM

Did you hear about the farmer who grew discontent with his farm so he decided to sell it? A few days later his real estate agent phoned wanting approval for an advertisement she intended to place in the local newspaper. She read it to the farmer. It described a lovely farm in an ideal location— quiet and peaceful, contoured with rolling hills, nourished by a fresh lake and blessed with well-bred livestock. The farmer said, “Read that to me again.” After hearing it a second time he said, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m not selling. I’ve been looking for a place like that all my life.”

Paul would have applauded that farmer. He learned the same lesson: “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” Before you change your job title, examine your perspective toward life. Success is not defined by position or pay scale, but by this: doing the most, what you do the best, and doing it as unto the Lord. Parents, give this counsel to your kids. Tell them to do what they love to do, and do it so well that somebody pays them to do it! Spouses, urge your mate to choose satisfaction over salary.

“[It is] better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure [with] turmoil” (Pr 15:16 NLT). Wise up! It’s better to be married to a happy person with a thin wallet, then to a miserable person with a thick one. Pursue the virtue of contentment. “Godliness with contentment is great gain”

(1 Ti 6:6 NIV). When choosing or changing jobs, be careful. Consult your design. Consult your designer. But never consult your greed.


A LITTLE MOTIVATION

 
 

It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.  Hebrews 9:27

Zig Ziglar tells the following story. It seems a gentleman worked on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift and he always walked home after work. One night the moon was shining so brightly that he decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery, which would save him roughly a half-mile walk. There were no incidents involved, so he repeated the process on a regular basis, always following the same path. One night as he was walking his route through the cemetery he didn’t realize that during the day a grave had been freshly dug in the very center of his path, so he fell into it. Desperately he started trying to get out, but his best efforts failed him. After a few minutes he decided to relax and wait until morning when someone would help him out. He sat down in the corner and was half asleep when a drunk stumbled into the grave. His arrival roused the first guy, since the drunk was also desperately trying to climb out, clawing frantically at the sides. Our hero reached out his hand, touched the drunk on the leg and said “Friend, you can’t get out of here”—but he did! Now that’s motivation!

When you pass 50, if you’re wise you’ll value time more than money. With hard work you can usually get more money. But when it comes to time—your clock is running out. Maybe a visit to your local graveyard might just be the thing to help you reevaluate and reprioritize, and make the rest of your life— the best of your life!



FIND YOUR PLACE

Gods plan

Our goal is to measure up to God’s plan for us.  

2 Corinthians 10:13 TLB
Vinci only painted one Mona Lisa. Beethoven only composed one Fifth Symphony. And God only made one version of you. He custom-designed you for a one-of-a-kind assignment. “How can I discover mine?” you ask. Your ability is a key to your destiny! “If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies” (IPe 4:11 NKJV). When God gives you an assignment, He also gives you the skill-set. To discover your assignment—study your skill-set! Your ease with numbers. Your love of computers. Your gift for interior design. Others stare at blueprints and yawn; you read them and say “I was made for this.” Heed the music within! No one else hears it the way you do. Look back. What have you consistently done well? What have you loved to do? Stand at the intersection of your desires and your successes, and you’ll find your uniqueness.

“The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others”

(I COR 12:7 CEV). Away with this depreciating “I can’t do anything,” and its arrogant opposite, “I have to do everything.” No, you don’t! Paul said, “Our goal is to measure up to God’s plan for us.” Don’t worry about skills you don’t have and don’t covet strengths others do have. Just use your God-given gifts! “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.” If you’re not sure what God has called you to do, get down on your knees and ask Him to reveal it to you. And when He does, pour yourself into it!


LET GO AND LET GOD

 

If you love someone.. .You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him.  1 Corinthians 13:7 TLB

To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring, it just means I can’t do it for someone else. To let go is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization that I don’t control them. To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences. To let go is to admit my powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands. To let go is not to try and change or blame another, I can only change myself. To let go is not to care for, but to care about; not to fix, but to be supportive; not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being. To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to effect their own outcomes. To let go is not to be protective, it’s to permit another to face reality. To let go is not to deny, but to accept. To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them. To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish each moment. To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become what I dream I can be. To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future. To let go is to fear less and love more. To let go—is to let God!



A second look

second look

“If you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.  Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”  Colossians 3:1-2 The Message Bible.

                Often we miss valuable opportunities when we focus on the same things over and over again.  When we get so accustomed to our surroundings we miss golden opportunities.

                A Dutch farmer in South Africa used to sit on a stone ridge that crossed his farm and mourn over the sterility of his land.  He was only too happy to sell it for $25,000. But the man who bought the farm opened a gold mine right under the rocky ridge where the farmer used to sit and pity himself.

                By sitting in the same place and seeing the same thing, this farmer missed the chance to become rich and blessed.  The Psalmist says that God is “the lifter of our heads” that is, He gently lifts our eyes upward when we have the tendency to stare downward.

                A father, reading his paper came across a map of the world.  He clipped it out, cut it into pieces, and told his small son to put the world together.  After a while the boy called, “I’ve done it!”

                His father marveled, “As quick as this?  How did you do it?”

                The son said, “I turned it over and on the back was a picture of a man.  I put the man together – and the world was right!”

                Sometimes we need to get our eyes off the puzzles of the world and get our eyes on Jesus.  He will right the world.

                Instead of moping about this week, let’s look up and see the Glory of God’s Blessings.  Then we can share blessings with those we meet.

                Pastor Don



Use Me

Tree

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.  When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!”  Philippians 2:5-7 The Message Bible

                “A beautiful tree stood among many others on a lovely hillside, its stem dark and glossy, its beautiful feathery branches gently quivering in the evening breeze.

                As we admired it we became conscious of a gentle rustling of the leaves and a low murmur was heard: ‘ You think me beautiful and admire my graceful branches, but I have nothing of which to boast; all I have I owe to the loving care of the Master.  He planted me in this fruitful hill where my roots, reaching down and dwelling in hidden springs, continually drink of their life-giving water, receiving nourishment, beauty and strength for my whole being.

                ‘The characters on my stem are cut into my very being. The process was painful, but it was my Master’s own hand that used the knife, and when the work was finished, with joy I recognized His own name on my stem! Then I knew that He loved me and wanted the world to know I belonged to Him!’

                Even as the tree was speaking, the Master Himself stood there. In His hand He held a sharp axe. ‘I have need of thee.’ He said. ‘Art thou willing to give thyself to Me?’

                ‘Master,’ replied the tree, ‘I am all Thine own but what use can such as I be to thee?’

                ‘I need thee,’ said the Master, to take My living water to some dry, parched places where there is none.’

                ‘But Master, how can I do this? What have I to give to others?’

                The Master’s voice grew wondrously tender as He replied. ‘ I can use thee if thou are willing.  I would fain cut thee down and lop off all thy branches, leaving thee naked and bare; then I would take thee right away from this thy home and carry thee out alone on the far hillside where there will be none to whisper lovingly to thee – only grass and a tangled growth of briers and weeds.  Yes and I would use the painful knife to cut away within thy heart all barriers till there is a free channel for My living water to flow through thee. Thy beauty will be gone; henceforth no one will look on thee and admire thy freshness and grace, but many, many thirsty souls will stoop and drink of the life-giving stream which will reach them so freely through thee. They may give thee no thought, but will they not bless thy Master who has given them His water of life through thee?  Art thou willing for this my tree?’

                And the tree replied, ‘Take and use me as Thou wilt, my Master, if only Thou canst  thus bring living water to thirsty souls!’

                — Adapted from B.E. Newcombe’s, “Use Me”



The Leadership of Jesus

Jesus on Leadership

“Like the horizons for breath and the ocean for depth, the understanding of a good leader is broad and deep.”  Proverbs 25:3  The Message Bible

                Mark Twain once said, “Many people are troubled about the Scriptures which are mysterious and hard to understand.  I am most troubled about those which I can understand.”  It is often the things that we do understand that causes us the most problems.

                Much is being said in the church world about developing leadership.  There are multiple volumes being written, tape series that are being recorded , video instruction for sale and countless seminars and workshops being conducted.  This is not bad since many of us have never had the opportunity to develop and be developed in this area of our ministries.

                Recently, I was introduced to a book by C. Gene Wilkes entitled, “Jesus on Leadership: Discovering the secrets of servant leadership from the life of Christ”.  The titles of the chapters alone give a great idea of the seven key principles of leadership in the life of Christ: 1. Humble Your Heart, 2. First be a Follower, 3. Find Greatness in service, 4. Take Risks, 5. Take up the Towel, 6. Share responsibility and 7. Build a Team.  But the opening chapter reminds us that if we are to be Christlike in our leadership, we must “come down from the head table.”

                Another book that we are using in our Wednesday night discipleship class is “People Sharing Jesus” by Darrell W. Robinson.  It has helped me to understand that leadership principles, such as the ones mentioned above, are just as valuable in “leading” someone to know Jesus Christ in a personal relationship.

                Understanding the people around us.  Hearing their cries for help. Seeing their suffering and pain. These are the keys for us to lead others to know Him. We are called on, as believers, to lead others to the Savior.  Are we doing that effectively?

                As Mark Twain said, “…it is the things that we do understand that causes us the most problems.”  It is the understanding that we are called to witness and yet miss opportunity after opportunity that causes us the problems.

                Just last week one of our new Christians was telling about his job as service manager for a car dealership.  He remarked that he had had a very rough week with one man in particular.  The man had complained about everything and verbally abused this young Christian.  He said he had to pray extra hard to gain victory over this individual. But after the victory came, he was filled with joy, until he later found out that this abusive man was the pastor of a local church.  What kind of leading are we doing?

                Let our role of leading others to Christ be as broad as the horizon and as deep as the ocean. Never lose sight of the fact that the first role of a Christian leader is to lead others to Christ.

                Pastor Don



Where is God?

apples

“A Crescendo of voices in Heaven sang out, ‘The kingdom of the world is now the Kingdom of our God and his Messiah! He will rule forever and ever!'”  Revelation 11:15 The Message Bible.

                Most of us agree that the time for the fulfillment of this scripture is now very far away. The time of God’s Kingdom on earth is approaching fast.  But we also recognize that we are already citizens of that Godly Kingdom while we live on this earth ruled earth.  But let us not forget the fact that God is still in place. I read this illustration that says it well.

                “A theological school instructor shared a seat with a small boy on a shuttle train.  The boy was holding a Sunday School book.

                ‘Do you go to Sunday school, my boy?’ asked the man in a friendly way.

                ‘Yes sir.’

                ‘Tell me, my boy,’ continued the man, thinking to have some fun with the lad, ‘tell me where God is, and I’ll give you an apple.’

                The boy looked up sharply at the man and promptly replied, ‘I will give you a whole barrel of apples if you tell me where He is not.’

                Out of the mouths of babes, the truth is learned. Let us be as simple in our explanation of God’s rulership in this life.  Let our lives reflect the fact that we are not waiting for the end millennium reign, but that Christ rules in our hearts and lives right now.

                He was born in a stable, but was still recognized as the King.  He had no trappings of greatness, but no one has ever been greater.  He demanded no allegiance, yet men sought out ways to serve him.  He denounced regality, but is crowned with humility and grace.

                Bill Gaither’s song is just as real today as it was the day he wrote it, “The King is Coming”.

                Be Blessed

                Pastor Don



My Future

family hug

“While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about — the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me. Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.

First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!”

Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug. While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married? “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole days!” Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months.  I know my expression betrayed me. I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!” The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!”  Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”

With that, he and his family turned and strode away together. I was still watching that exceptional man and his special family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, “What’cha looking at?” Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, “My future!”




 

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