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Don't Give Up On Your Marriage

Don't Give Up On Your Marriage

 

 

 

Marriage is hard. Most people start out in romance and end up with wrestling.  There is a reason marriage contains so much tension and the Bible explains it.  In this 90 Second Sermon learn why marriage is hard and why you should not give up on it.

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4 Things Men are Prone to Give Up On, #1 Himself

4 Things Men are Prone to Give Up On, #1 Himself

A man can easily get discouraged with life and give up on himself.  Feelings of inferiority and a loss of significance become defeating.  He eventually feels as if he is not good enough for anyone and not good at anything.  

God gave Adam significance when he was created and restored his significance after his biggest mistake.  When we seek significance outside of what God gives, it turns to dust.  Watch this 90 second sermon and don't give up on yourself.     

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What Your Wife Really Wanted for Valentine's Day

What Your Wife Really Wanted for Valentine's Day

I’ll go ahead and say it.  A male . . . posting about Valentine’s Day . . . on February 15.  Typical.

Like the typical male I do fall short when it comes to Valentine’s Day.  Not only do I get there late, as with this post, but most of the time I fail to see it coming.  On Sunday afternoon my wife and I were walking down the sidewalk and she said something about Valentine’s Day coming up on Tuesday.  My reply, “This Tuesday?”

So late Tuesday afternoon I find myself standing in an all male line being served by an all female staff at our local fruity bouquet store.  I would like to send a consumer complaint to management if I may, that’s not fair!  

The dude coming out of the door as I came in looked beaten down.  His eyes met mine and without saying a word I read his mind, “It’s bad in there . . . like Saving Private Ryan bad.” 

The poor Hispanic man in front of me pointed sheepishly at a giant helium balloon in the store that read, “I love you” and in broken English asked if he could have one attached to his fruity assortment.  The lady behind the counter alerted him that all she had left were balloons in “Ain-glaaaaiiiiis”.  “Isssss ttttthhhhaaaaattttt OOOOO.KKKKKK?”  I think she was also attempting some form of Spanish sign language as she exaggerated every syllable.    

“Si?”  

Hey sis, it’s 5:00 on Valentine’s Day, Desperado will take one in German if that’s all you’ve got.  You’re holding up the line!

So it was my turn.  

“I need . . .”

“Well all we have is a box of 12 chocolate covered strawberries.”

Which was EXACTLY what I wanted!

“Well you’ll have to wait.”  Which in femal-ese translates to, “Go rot in the loser husband line Mr. Last Minute.”

“No problem.”  

Finally she arrived with my box and asked if I needed a card.

“Nope.”

Though verbally holiday assaulted I was unfazed.  She couldn’t believe it.  She had one last shot at me with which she would now take it upon herself to whip me on behalf of my wife.  And so; began the verbal tongue lashing as she punched in the total on the cash register.  “You men always wait until the last minute . . .”

I cut her off as I took my debit card and box of chocolate love.  “Mam, I’m taking my wife on a cruise to Jamaica next week!” 

BAM!

One guy gave me a high five as I headed out the door.  I could hear the distant applause of men all over the strip mall.  I strutted out of the eat your gift store as a Valentine’s Day hero for every man.

So, whereas this post may come too late for this year, allow me to save your skin next year just in case you don’t have a cruise in your back pocket. Here are 5 things your wife and family really wanted from you on Valentine’s Day.

Affirming Words

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  One of the prominent themes in Scripture is the power of words.  It is with His words that God created the world.  In John 1 Jesus is the Word made flesh.  Throughout Proverbs we read that words have the power to heal and to destroy.  My wife tells me often, “Use your words.”

As excited as my wife is about going on our cruise she also let me know during a conversation on Valentine’s Day that she wants me to cherish her with my words.  She doesn’t just want me to tell her I love her.  She wants to to expand the thought, elaborate, string together some sentences and come up with some paragraphs.

While men aren’t completely non-verbal, we do tend to be low-verbal.  We have to be intentional to speak up and express our love with our words.

Undivided Attention

Philippians 2:3–4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

When I came home yesterday my youngest daughter was in the after school position.  By after school position I mean recliner, blanket, and TLC.  Somewhere along the lines The LEARNING Channel has deviated from educating us about oddly shaped deep sea creatures with no eyes to counting pounds and kids.  If you have birthed double digits or you weigh nearly 4 digits, TLC will probably give you a show.  

My default move in a time like this is to immediately grab the bike and head outside (and it was an incredible day) or go downstairs and hit the weights.  But it was Valentine’s Day, so I stayed and counted kids on TV with my daughter.  While it was excruciating in some respects, it wasn’t about the Duggars I assure you, it was about her.  

I stayed off my phone.  I stayed off the computer.  I did my best to remove distraction and focus on my family.  We played a game.  We sat around the table at dinner.  The result was a lot of laughs and some meaningful conversations.  

Next year on Valentine’s Day, give them your undivided attention.

Meaningful Touch

I would recommend a timely article by Rob Moll on Christianity Today’s Pastor website entitled The Spiritual Power of Physical Touch.  Moll draws attention to not only our physical need for touch, but to the power of touch throughout the Bible.  The prodigal son was embraced by his father.  The elders of Ephesus weep over Paul as he departs.  The beloved apostle leans on Jesus’ chest at the last supper.  

Moll speaks to the increasing isolation that is caused by social sterilization in our culture.  Because we link all physical contact with sex we have lost the kindness of a simple touch.  

“Touch is an essential human need. When we shake hands or put an arm across a friend’s shoulder, the body releases neurological chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin that feel good, while also inhibiting chemicals that cause stress. But touch doesn’t just feel good; it is vital to being human. When babies and children are deprived of touch, their brain development is permanently impaired, which can destroy the growth of social abilities and result in lower intelligence.”

“When we do touch, it is often marked by awkwardness. A loved one is hurting so we give a ‘side hug,’ reassuring ourselves perhaps that she ‘needs her space.’”

While it is true that we do need to buy a few things on Valentine’s Day, you can’t put a price on hugs and kisses for the wife and kids.

A Helping Hand

The Bible talks often about the Christ-likeness of serving others.  Hebrews 6:6 calls the Lord “my helper.”  Verse 16 in the same passage tells us that doing good to others pleases God.

My wife often reminds me of the pressure she feels on holidays.  There’s a great deal of that I can’t remove because she’s mom.  No one can do it like she can.  She is the heart of our home and her influence on special days is irreplaceable.

However, an incredible gift for any day, not just Valentine’s Day is to make your wife feel less like a slave and more like a queen.  

My wife doesn’t mind doing it, but she wants to know I love it.  

Acknowledge the effort.  Tell her it is special.  It is no big deal to her to do it if you will make a big deal about it!

Clean up.  Cook something.  Contribute - don’t just sit there! And by the way, don’t think you have climbed Everest just because you did the dishes once.  They may not throw you a parade, but I promise you a little effort in service is much loved!

A Special Memory

In his epistles Paul often talked about his fond remembrances of the people to which he is writing.  There has been no greater special memory given to a human than when Mary is told she is carrying the Son of God.  The Bible says, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Give your family something for their heart to ponder.  One of my staff members said that it is a tradition for her family to get a heart shaped pizza from the same restaurant every Valentine’s Day.  In times past ours was to cook steak and have a family candlelight dinner . . . until we went through an unfortunate string of Valentine’s Day stomach viruses.  Now we cannot stomach steak in mid-February.

So this year we joined the greasy heart shaped pizza crowd and played a game.  I’m not sure it is our new tradition, but it created a great memory.

Memories and family traditions are important.  They provide anchors for the heart.  They are comforting points of stability for the soul.  

It is good to interrupt life, break the cycles of life to create traditions and make memories.  Give your family something to remember.

Those are five great gifts, affirming words, undivided attention, meaningful touch, a helping hand, and a special memory.  And to the fellows, I know we often use the line, “Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday for card sales. . . yada, yada, yada . . . we ought to show our love everyday, not just Valentine’s Day.”  Bingo!  Those five gifts never get old.  Give them daily

Before you go, what’s your favorite family Valentine’s Day tradition?  Leave it in the comments below.  I would LOVE to hear from you!

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Tales of a First Grade Atheist - Reposted

 

This is the week of the year when people publish their "top tens", reviews, and resolutions.  For the final week of the year I will offer some of my favorite posts - reposted.  Feel My Faith.com has been online a few years now.  It is time to bring some old material back to the top.
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“If I can’t see God, how can I believe in Him?” I could tell we were progressing past the usual questions of curiosity that we had grown accustomed to for the last six years. You know, the questions designed to make parents squirm. When my wife was pregnant with our second child, I know God laughed. “Daddy, why is my sister in mommy’s belly?” And before I could clear my throat, “Daddy, was I in mommy’s belly?” “How did I get in mommy’s belly?”
 
“Well, um, honey. . .it just. . .you see. . .when a mommy and a daddy. . .” and now that God is laughing, by His grace, in the infinite expanse of time and design, by His predestined purpose, before the worlds were framed, He placed a Chic-Fil-A, with a playground, and ice cream in your path. There you make a hard left, “let’s play on the playground.” And the child screams with glee. The secrets of biology are safe, preferably until she’s thirty.
 
But this question scared me, not so much due to the question, but because she’s only seven, and she was serious. If the eyes are a window to the soul, I could see deep within her, and I could not see God. I could only see a soul that had been thinking consistently about this long before she asked me about the existence of God. And my soul, her daddy’s soul, panicked. And it panicked hard. Has my first grade beauty become an atheist? Is public education truly a tool of the anti-Christ? Is that lump in my throat more than nervousness, could it be the early stages of cancer? I can’t breathe, do I have asthma? Could it be true that my child was not only losing baby teeth, but also losing her faith?
 
I have read tons of Norman Geisler, Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, and Francis Schaeffer. I was stunned, but I was armed – and so I fired. Picking up the nearest Junie B. Jones volume from her nightstand I said, “Have you ever met this lady who wrote this book, Barbara, have you ever met Barbara?”
 
She stared at me.
 
“Well don’t you believe Barbara is real even though you haven’t actually seen her?”
 
And I did that with a dollar, with a doll, with a Disney princess. I did that with almost every artifact which cluttered her floor. Every toy, book, and doll became a part of my apologetic arsenal. Tonight the tools of theology, tomorrow she must clean her room.
 
That’s theology, that’s great apologetics, that’s something that no seven year old in her right mind could refute; the fact that even though we cannot see these people, and have never met these people, the proof of their existence is clearly seen by the evidence of their creations. And so I proudly waited for the seven year old to surrender, for the intellectual dust to settle, for the daddy of theology to kiss her goodnight, say her prayers, turn out the light, having once again successfully explained the secrets of the universe to a seven year old. And this time without a Chic-Fil-A bail out.
 
The dust settled, and in her eyes, in her soul, only doubt.
 
This went on for several days. She played on the swing set, I taught her how to hit a softball, she pretended to be a princess, she took a bath, she went to bed, and she became an atheist. The eyes of her soul full of doubt, the question consistent, “If I cannot see God, how can I believe in Him?”
 
How can this child not see God? I am a pastor, we own a hundred Bibles, we go to church – even on vacation, we pray – a lot, how can this child not see God?
 
And as the nights progressed my soul began to break. And it was hard for me to see my child at seven begin to lose her faith. It was hard for me, in this, to see God.
 
Isn’t there a formula for raising born again kids? I know there are books about it. I took a family class in Bible College; I know we talked about it. I am sure I have heard or preached a sermon with a sure fire list of five, three, or eight ways to raise born again kids. There must be a formula – perform a list of steps, pray a certain prayer, memorize a chapter, claim a verse, have twenty minutes of quiet time a day, never let your daughter see you screw up (at least not very much), and even go to church on vacation – and you should be guaranteed that God will not plant a child in her mommy’s belly that will turn into an atheist – at seven.
 
But it wasn’t working.
 
There have been a number of things in my life that have brought me to the conclusion that there is not a formula for spiritual things. I can teach, model, preach, suggest, advise, regurgitate, talk about faith with my daughter, but only God can make faith come alive within her. And I needed God. So my prayers about this matter began to lose formula, and moved to soul cries of a dad who desperately desired to see faith bloom in the heart of his little girl.
 
But she continued to question me, and I continued to question God.
 
Why will God not flip the switch, plant the seed, make faith simple – seven year old simple, again? There are a lot of things in my life right now about which God is silent, and for some reason, He will not move. But this was, to me, the cruelest of all, for God to allow me to lose grip on my daughter’s faith. Why?
 
And I grew closer to joining her, wondering why do we believe in a God I could not only see, but I could not hear, that I could not feel, and now seemed would not answer? Do I believe? And the battle moved from her bed into mine. Deep into the night I prayed and I wondered about my own faith.
 
She dressed a doll, she played with her Gameboy, she ate a pop-sickle after supper. She took a bath, she went to bed, and there it was again, those contemplative, empty eyes – a doubting soul.
 
And so I reached down into my soul and grabbed it to see what was there. “Morgan, I believe in God. I have given my life to Him. I believe Jesus died for me on the cross, that He loves me and that he has saved my soul. I may not understand everything about God, and I may never be able to really answer your question, but I believe in Him. And Morgan, I pray for you every night, that God will give you faith and cause your heart to long for and believe in Him.”
 
She hid her face under the covers. All I could see was the bow I had forgotten to take out of her hair. And then I heard her cry. My heart broke.
 
I begged her to tell me what she was thinking. I could tell, whatever it was, it was coming from a place deep within her. Finally she sat up. Wiping her tears, clutching her pink patchwork quilt, broken and teary, she pressed it out of her mouth, “Daddy, I’m just so happy to know you pray for me.”
 
I grabbed her in my arms and held her tight. My eyes grew watery, the lump in my throat – growing. She shook in my arms and I could feel her tears now saturate my shirt. But I must confess, the unregenerate, sarcastic monster that lives within me wondered where she had been for the last seven years as her mother and I have religiously prayed for her? Seven year olds – a mystery.
 
I am a pastor, I go to church. . .even on vacation. I can turn Bible passages into formulas, put them on PowerPoint, and preach them systematically. I own a ton of Bibles. I overreact. She was nowhere near atheism, but her faith was challenged, and so was mine. If my little girl cannot look into my eyes and see that my soul is connected with God – why would she believe? At seven, she understands religion is my job. And there are times she looks into my eyes, and that’s all she sees, a job in religion. What she wants to know is that her daddy knows God and actually talks to Him about her. Not in formula, but in conversation. When my girls destroy my nap, pounce on my outstretched stomach, crushing my vital organs, and begin to “waller” me to death – can they sneak a peek into my eyes, my soul, and see God? I wonder how many times, praying over green beans, have they actually been listening to my voice, listening for it to connect with God? When I pick up the Bible, do they wonder if I have truly met the author – or is our relationship strictly apologetic?
 
I saw God in my daughter’s eyes again. Her faith and my faith, a little more elastic, stretched, and growing. I realize she and God have something in common. They are wondering if I believe in someone I cannot see.
 
Dear God, come alive in me.
Dear God, come alive in her.
God give us faith to see You.
BB
Gal. 2:20
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