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Marriage Heart Health

Do you have a five star marriage?

People want to stay at the best hotels and resorts when they travel. These hotels earn a five star rating because they consistently deliver excellent service, provide great amenities, and offer that special touch of class like little chocolates on your pillow. They go the extra mile. People instead settle for a two or three star establishment because of proximity, cost, and time. We often settle for less instead of striving for the very best.

This is also true in marriage. We can have a great relationship with quality time together, kind words toward each other, and sacrificial acts of service. But too often we settle for a mediocre marriage with little strength, support, or commitment.

How can we flip the switch?

Couples need to honestly evaluate the relationship with their spouse. Are your expectations being met? When expectations are not met, we are disappointed. Disappointment often carries with it frustration, anger, and isolation. If our reality is less than what we expected, then the reality equals a disappointed spouse. Share expectations with each other so that you are both on the same page and can work toward mutual goals.

Couples need to focus on each other. I can tell when my wife is upset, stressed out, or angry. Most of us know that look or phrase from a spouse. There is a cue that reveals his or her inner thoughts. That is a signal to ask questions, share an encouraging word, help around the house, fix a problem, take the kids for a walk, or just listen. Don’t ignore the cues and signals that your spouse sends you. Take notice. Respond and act to support each other.

Couples need time together. Husbands and wives are great at making time to discuss problems, schedule school events, and play taxi service for the kids. While this is important, couples also need to spend quality time together. They need to get away, go on a date, and make time for their one true love. Don’t lose the fire and energy that brought you to the altar in the first place.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week. Use that time to evaluate your marriage and strengthen your relationship. Check out their resource page at http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org and discover how a few simple steps can improve any marriage.

No matter where your marriage is today, you can build a stronger relationship that will last for the rest of your life. Make a five star marriage part of your life today.

blank page

It is that time of year again. We stand at the threshold of a new year and people are full of excitement and anticipation. Part of that excitement is making a list of resolutions or goals for 2015.

We make resolutions because we want to improve our circumstances. We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. The top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three areas: money, health, and family.

I encourage you to also make faith a part of your “wish list” for 2015. Here are 5 resolutions that can strengthen your Christian walk next year.

Read the Bible. Spending time with God’s Word is vital to any Christian. It encourages and educates us. It provides direction when we feel lost. It reminds us that God is near. Examine your daily schedule and find the right time when you can reflect on Scripture.

Speak more carefully. While we ignore much of what we hear in a typical day, words matter. Words can build up or tear down. Don’t allow destructive talk, gossip, or vulgarities to rule your speech. Resolve to watch your language and speak in a manner that glorifies God, especially when it comes to the name of God.

Go gadget free. Yes, your smart phone is fun and it is a great way to stay in touch with others, but it also robs time from important areas of life. Make a rule to turn off your computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. at least once a week. While it may seem like this is hindering your ability to connect, it will actually allow you to make even deeper connections with those around you. Bless your family and friends by being present in their lives.

Pray frequently. Prayer is central to our faith. It is deliberate communication with our Heavenly Father. It is an act of worship. It is a spiritual discipline. It allows us to adore, petition, praise, and confess. Scripture shares several occasions when Jesus made time and space to pray. Follow in the example of Christ and find time to pray to our Creator.

Volunteer your time. You can make a difference in someone’s life by investing minutes each day. Take time to volunteer at a local charity, non-profit, or ministry organization. Live your faith and demonstrate that you are a servant of Christ. There are programs designed to help pregnant girls and teenage parents make good choices and establish a solid foundation for their lives and the lives of their babies. There are programs to feed the hungry. There are programs to mentor married couples. All of these programs need volunteers to strengthen others in need.

As we prepare for 2015, make faith part of your improvement plan.  Make a plan to strengthen your faith now and into the new year.

Waiting for Christmas

emmanuel

What is the longest time you had to wait for something?  We wait a matter of minutes for food at a restaurant and it feels like a long time.  We wait 5 years to start kindergarten classes at school.  We wait 20 to 30 years to find a spouse.  As a people, we do not wait well, no matter how great the reward may be.

The Advent of Christ is also a story of waiting.  The time between the Old and New Testaments total 400 years.  This time span moves from Nehemiah to the birth of Jesus Christ.  These years are known as the intertestamental period, but they are often called the “silent” years.  A time when people were waiting to hear something from God.

The New Testament gospels give us more than a whisper.  They announce the long-awaited birth of the Messiah, the Desire of nations, the Son of David, the Prince of Peace.  Jesus arrives as our Emmanuel.  Jesus arrives as our Redeemer, Savior, and King.  The most precious gift we could receive.

His birth shows the faithful promise of God to provide salvation.  His birth allows God and sinners to be reconciled.  His birth brings light and life to a world that has only known darkness and death. Jesus was born that mankind may have life, a second birth, a home beyond this world.

We celebrate the Advent of Christ on earth.  We celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the deliverance that it brings.

Now we wait again.  We wait on the second Advent of Christ and His promised return.  May God hasten the day when we can finally see Jesus, the one pierced for our transgressions, the one crushed for our iniquities, the one who died so that we may have eternal life.

 

 

 

There are certain times on the calendar when memories of past deployments run strong.  December often makes me mindful of my time overseas.

You are united with your unit as everyone has a job to perform.  You are also united in the hardships and difficulties of being separated from those you love.

December is a tough time to be separated from family and friends.  You miss the traditional family practices and customs like putting up the Christmas tree.  You miss the favorite food and dishes that made this particular time of year memorable.  You miss the gift exchanges.  But you also miss the church gatherings, Christmas pageants, and special worship services.  They are the times and events that keep us strong in faith.

When service members are deployed, we are able to receive packages in the mail.  Uncle Sam will serve us a meal with all the special fixings.  Folks will decorate an office or work station with a snowman, reindeer, or Christmas lights.  But missing church services as a family always proved to be a hardship for Soldiers to overcome, no matter where you were stationed.

This Christmas, 86,000 Soldiers will be forward deployed across the globe.  They will be overseas and away from their loved ones.  They will be working in guard towers.  They will be flying helicopters.  They will be driving tanks.  They will be constructing buildings, bridges, and roadways.  They will be aiding hospital patients.

As we gather in churches across America, let us remember those who are deployed around the globe.

Pray for our service members this month.  Lift them up as they perform their daily duties away from home and in harm’s way.  Pray for their families as they celebrate Christmas with an empty chair at the table and the heartache that can bring.  Pray for God to bring our warriors home safely and for families to heal when they are reunited.  Pray that they can gather next December and celebrate the birth of Christ as a family one more time.

Give Thanks

thanks

Thursday is the day that America will stop work, join with families, and give thanks.

In 1620, some 100 people seeking religious freedom, left England and landed in the New World. Little food, poor housing, and a harsh winter made their first year difficult.  Only 50 Pilgrims survived the winter of 1620.  They gathered together in the fall of 1621 to celebrate their first harvest and the blessings we often overlook today.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, the midpoint of our Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring that a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. American has celebrated Thanksgiving Day every November since 1863.

As we gather around homes and loved ones, may we remember the gifts and blessings of this year. May we also remember the Giver, Almighty God, our Creator, and Eternal Father.  It is through Him that we can truly give thanks.

Veterans Day Prayer

veterans day

Holy God, you teach the importance of sacrifice, devotion, and being faithful.  Just as the Old Testament acknowledges the deeds of David and his Mighty Men, we lift up all who have served in the military.  We recognize the selfless service of our veterans and we remember the difficulty of their deeds.

There is a high cost to pay for freedom, liberty, and justice.  There are times when the sons and daughters of our nation must rise and stand for what is right. These are the difficult times that test our faith, our strength, and our resolve.

Precious God, may we always find our strength in you and respond to the needs of our nation, our state, and our neighbors in times of trial.  Amen.

money

As a nation and as a people we tend to overlook our blessings.  We have abundance, comfort, and wealth like few others.  Our standard of living is so good and so consistent that it becomes common place.  Success becomes normal.  While that sounds like a great problem to have, it can easily compete with or totally eliminate our desire for God.

We forget our beginnings.  We forget the early days of struggle, strife, and bare survival.  We also forget our reliance on God and the vital direction our Lord provided during those tough times in life.

When everything imaginable is working in our favor, it would seem that people should gratefully follow God.  It is often during the times of plenty that we are the worst followers of our faithful King.

While these situations seem contrary, you can even find them in Scripture.  Look at King Solomon in the Old Testament.  The poetic man who sang and wrote of romantic love for his bride also broke records of promiscuity with 700 wives and 300 concubines.  The wise man who composed so many commonsense proverbs, dispensed practical knowledge, and offered successful living advice quickly flouted it all with horrible extravagance and greed.  The devout man who built the temple of God took a final and terrible step of introducing idol worship into God’s holy city to please his foreign-born wives.

Success in the kingdom of this world often crowds out interest in the kingdom of God.

Solomon got whatever he wanted.  Gradually he depended less on God and more on the power, possessions, and people in his kingdom.  Solomon had the world’s largest harem, a house twice the size of the temple, an army full of soldiers, spears, and chariots, and a strong economy.

Success may have eliminated his disappointments with God, but it also seemed to eliminate Solomon’s desire for God.  The more he enjoyed the world’s good gifts, the less he thought about the Giver.

Let us learn the lessons that Solomon did not.  May we always count our blessings.  May we be obedient servants to a Holy and Gracious God.  May we demonstrate our Christian faith in times of joy and abundance.  May we enjoy the gift and praise the Giver.  May we always place God first and remember that I am second, no matter what level of worldly success I may find.

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