Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pastor’

marriage dance

Everyone wants a good, strong, happy marriage.  Our marriages often start out well.  They are full of enthusiasm, joy, love, compassion, and devotion.  But as time goes by, couples often find it difficult to carve out time, space, and energy for their one true love.

It seems so odd and sad, but it is a common story line with a majority of married couples. The things of life get in their way and dampen the romance that once burned bright.  A few years prior, nothing could separate this pair of love birds. Now priorities have changed. Distractions are everywhere.  Demands must be met. Children must be fed. Bills must be paid.  Somehow couples seem to lose the fire and energy that brought them to the altar.

We all need a wake up call when it come to marriage.  Everyone!  We husbands need a reminder to date our wives and make her a priority.  Wives need a reminder to love and cherish husbands.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week.  It serves as the national alarm clock for couples to remember why they got married in the first place.  It also allows groups, organizations, and churches to join the fight in saving marriages across America.

If you are planning a marriage enrichment event, a workshop, or presentation, join the campaign by sharing it on the national website.  Let your community know what resources are available in their own backyard.  This simple act can go a long way to encourage or even salvage a couple on the brink of divorce.

National Marriage Week USA, offers several marriage resources, date night suggestions, event guides, reading lists, and videos on how to build a satisfying marriage.  Check out the website to find a tip, idea, or suggestion that can improve your marriage in 2016.

This can be the year that you turn things around.  Stop allowing distractions and insignificant events to suck the life out of your relationship.  Take time to strengthen your marriage.  Reconnect with your spouse.  Focus on the romance that brought you together. Use National Marriage Week as a way to strengthen your marriage and focus on the one you love.

Read Full Post »

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR, sitting in the Jefferson County Jail, in Birmingham, Alabama, 11/3/67. Everett/CSU Archives.

Martin Luther King Day will have a variety of messages and themes across the globe, but above all else MLK Day must highlight the role of Christianity and Christians in society. In his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” King writes that there will be times for people to stand up to injustice and defend what is right.

As King endured eight days of imprisonment, he encouraged people to practice their faith even when there would be a cost for those unpopular actions. A faith that,

“was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. . . .”

These words still ring true today.

There are causes that demand more than words. There are struggles and fights that Christians must lead. There are many wrongs in our world where the church must be a vehicle for change. The church cannot be lax, it must be vigilant. The church must stand for truth no matter the price.

John the Baptist was arrested for sharing the law with King Herod Antipas. Simon Peter was jailed for being a bold messenger of Jesus Christ.  Paul and Silas were arrested for simply preaching the gospel.

Martin Luther King was arrested several times in his pursuit of establishing greater equality in America. Each time, he pointed back to Scripture as a reminder to pursue the cause of justice. In a time when laws forced segregation and inequality, people of faith had to remember the standard God established as they slowly pushed forward.

“A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God.”

As the laws of our nation continue to change and religious freedom shrinks in the land that we love, let us view MLK Day as a reminder to serve God and be true to His commands. Let us remember that boldness is often required instead of compromise. Let us also demonstrate that churches can be a place where Christians stand up for what is right and just.

Read Full Post »

Smoky Mountains

I will always remember my first trip through the Smoky Mountains. The ancient mountains were in rare form that day.  They drew me in and wouldn’t let me go.

Everywhere I looked, I found ridge upon ridge of forest. There were trees of every variety. They were too numerous to count. I could behold marvelous wonders in every direction. With spectacular color, they turned each hill into a brilliant masterpiece.

This November day, the Smoky Mountains were alive. Dogwood, maple, sassafras and birch trees welcomed everyone with their red, orange, and yellow leaves. It was more than beautiful. The trees spilled across the landscape and created a canvas that only God could paint.

I marveled at God’s handiwork. A kaleidoscope of fall colors, worthy to display all year round.

I kept turning around to see it all. I didn’t want to miss an inch of this perfect landscape. I took pictures to remember the sight. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave. How could anyone leave such a beautiful place?

Creation was providing a reminder to look and see what God has done. This world is no cosmic accident. This is not something that mankind can replicate. There is no way to manufacture something so exquisite.  There is no scientific way to make all this happen in such grand fashion.

Nature was providing a majestic moment. A testament to the greatness, splendor, and majesty of God.

The Old Testament prophet Nehemiah acknowledged that God alone is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He says, “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all the starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”—Nehemiah 9:6 NIV

Take time to bask in the beauty of autumn. Watch the display. Enjoy the splashes of color that transform the slopes and hills. Stop and revel in the gorgeous demonstration. As the fall foliage presents another reminder of heaven, offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the One, who made it possible. Such beautiful handiwork will draw you close and never let you go.

Read Full Post »

snow tulips

Most of America has snow on the ground.  People are inside, trying to stay warm. Recently, I looked out my window at home to see a dozen tulips poking through a snow drift.  I marveled at the strength and power that made those plants grow in such harsh and demanding conditions.  I didn’t want to go outside because of the freezing cold, but the tulips pushed through the layers of dirt, soil, leaves, and now several inches of snow.

We forget it, but people are like those snow covered tulips.  Folks can push through tremendous difficulty and hardship.  We often grow during the most difficult times in life when there is an inner strength guiding us forward.

Scripture provides a picture of this in 2 Corinthians chapter 4.  Paul writes to the church and says, “do not lose heart.”  There is an inner strength in you that the world will not understand.  While it may be confused with personal strength, it is a “treasure in jars of clay.”  This extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.  It gives the ability to endure, maintain, and move forward even when life gives us the worst conditions possible.

Paul also shares how resilient believers can be because of God strengthening us in times of sorrow. In verse 8 he shares that God provides so well that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . .”  The Lord who helped Israel endure the desert sands will also strengthen you during the challenges of today.

God provides a covering that shelters us during the storms of life.  He also allows His Holy Spirit to guide us and strengthen us when we only see darkness.  The inner strength protects us and allows us to move upward, beyond the dirt and soil of difficulty.

Don’t lose heart.  Remember what God can do with snow covered tulips.  He renews their inner strength day by day, allowing momentary afflictions to prepare them for a greater reward and a new season of life.

 

Read Full Post »

Costly Christianity

cost

The brutal slaying of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS this weekend serves as a grim start to the season of Lent.  While Lent is often celebrated as a time of sacrifice and inflection, today it seems more of a reminder that there is a price for our faith.

As our hearts are heavy and our prayers go out to the families of these 21 brothers in Christ, let us also focus on discipleship.  Let the Church hear this message again and again. There is a cost to discipleship.  There is a figure for service to the Savior.  There is a price when one decides to follow Jesus.

These tenets are not new.  Jesus teaches His disciples that they will be ridiculed, reviled, and rejected.  There is a hard road for us to travel as we grow stronger in faith.  Matthew 10:22 shares, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

Those are not easy words to hear, but they allow us to focus on what is truly important and to keep our perspective.  While there is a great price to pay in service, one will also find value in the salvation of Christ.  There is something greater than all my hardships and struggles.  There is something bigger than all my troubles.  The value of Jesus.

The point becomes clear in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”

As hardships, struggles, and difficulties come your way remember the examples we see in Scripture; hold on to your confession, stand fast in the truth, and endure to the end.  The value of Jesus will soon be clear.

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: