Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Power for Marriage

My wife and I followed the tradition of not seeing each other on the day of the wedding.  So, the moment I first saw Carol as she appeared at the end of the aisle, my breath was taken away.  She was absolutely beautiful and I could not believe that I would soon be married to this amazing woman.  As she started to walk down the aisle, I felt my eyes begin to fill with a watery, salty discharge tears, I think they’re called. As she eventually made her way down the aisle and to my side, those same tears started to roll down my cheek because it was becoming more and more clear to me that there were now a whole lot of women who were going to miss out.   Sorry ladies. 😊  Although I say that jokingly, the truth is the moment I said “yes” to Carol, I was, in essence, saying “no” to every other woman on the planet.

Anyone can fall in love.  Honestly, falling in love is the easy part.  About the only thing it takes to fall in love is a pulse.  Staying in love … that’s a different story.  Love is a choice.  It’s a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week commitment that says I am going to choose to love you … even if you’re not being lovable … even if things change … even if I change … I am vowing myself to you and I choose to love you from this day forward. A “feeling” would never be strong enough to hold people together through all of the changes in life.  And, that is why marriage is described as a covenant. A covenant says that I’m not only choosing to love who you are today but, forsaking all others, I choose to love the person you are becoming.  A covenant keeps one eye on the present and one eye on the future by choosing to love today and choosing to love tomorrow even though none of us knows what tomorrow holds in store. And, this is important to remember for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons to remember this is simply because people change.  You will not be the same person 5 years from now and neither will your spouse.

I have been married to 8 different women in the last 14 years … and they’ve all been named Carol … Carol as a new bride, Carol as a mother of one child, two children, three children, four children, Carol as a working mom, Carol as a stay-at-home mom, and Carol after a move to Maryland.  And, guess what … she’ll continue to change.  We all do because God’s grace is all about change.  The grace of God accepts us where we are but always does so with the agenda to move us forward.

So the power of marriage is rooted deeply in the commitment to love today and to love tomorrow and by, forsaking all others, there is a willingness to do whatever it takes to help your spouse become who God is calling them to be.  Just as God commits Himself to you, so you commit yourself to your spouse.

If that makes marriage sound like hard work that’s because it is!  If we believe this to be true, we will see every easy opportunity and every hard opportunity to love as a way that God continues to reveal to us our need for Jesus and His grace at work in our life.

I believe that God wants us to be great husbands or great wives, but His greater purpose is to make us more like Jesus and, in so doing, we become the husband or wife He has created us to be. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ten Ways to Help Your Kids Become Indifferent

·      Give them more screen time.  That extra video game time may feel like it’s helping you not to lose your mind, but it’s also keeping your kids from using theirs. Plus, if they’re not in front of a screen, you may actually have to talk to them and ask them about their day.

·      Don’t expect them to rise to the level of your expectations.  Kids were never meant to do hard things, so set the bar really low.  This will build their self-confidence while teaching them that everything in life will be easy.

·      Focus on the outcome rather than the effort. Judge winners by winning and losers by losing.  It’s the American way.  We definitely want to teach our kids to find value in their performance rather than their character.

·      Enforce the rules but do not reinforce the child.  Take every step possible to make sure your kids obey but never take a step toward their heart.  Lecture them, but never talk to them.  Discipline them, but never disciple them.  The good thing about demanding unquestioned obedience is that it typically leads to a lot of questions later in life. 

·      Be a child-centered parent instead of a God-centered parent.  It’s important to drive 150 miles so your kids can be involved in that competition, but it’s not important to drive 10 miles so they can be involved in a church activity especially on a school night.  We have to teach our children about what is important, you know.

·      Be more concerned about their self-improvement instead of their self-denial. This, after all, is what Christianity is all about self-help.  It’s really difficult to help yourself if you’re pre-occupied with denying yourself.  I mean, who has time to help themselves when they’re concerned with helping others?

·      Don’t ask questions about where they’re going and what they’re doing.  You do not want to appear to be too interested in what they’re doing.  This might come across as intrusive and like you actually care.  So, keep your distance and let them have their own way.  As long as you give them what they want, they won’t push back on you.

·      Be more concerned about their behavior than about their heart.  Again, this is probably what Christianity is about behavior modification.  Some say it’s about heart transformation, but it’s a whole lot easier just to tell people what to do and not to do instead of actually getting to the root of why they may be doing it. 

·      Avoid meals together around the table.  You certainly do not want to start your day together with breakfast and then come back together for dinner.  We don’t want our kids to become one of those statistics that says having meals together as a family increases emotional stability and decreases behavioral problems in children.   Who wants that kind of drama?

·      Work long hours and try to be away as much as possible.  No one has ever gotten to the end of their life and wished they had worked more hours.  But, if you keep at it, maybe you’ll be the first.  I’m sure that will feel much better than knowing you left work on time in order to have dinner with your family.

Friday, February 3, 2017

"If I Could Just Get Back to Where I Used to Be"

I was talking to my wife the other day and I found myself frustrated.  I wasn’t frustrated with her, but rather I was frustrated with myself.  We were talking about some things that “used to be” in my life.  It’s been a consistent conversation for the past few months.  During our latest conversation, several times I caught myself saying, “If I could just get back to where I used to be then  

I left the house that day frustrated and unhappy.  While I drove to the office I started to pray. While praying, I felt like God revealed something to me:  If I keep trying to get back to where I used to be, I will never move forward to where I could be.  It may only seem like semantics to you, but it was truly a revelation to me.

The past is a funny thing.  It has a subtle way of keeping me trapped.  I can reflect on it and celebrate what God has done, but if I think about it too much, it slowly begins to wrap its warm embrace around me and does not let me go.

The past can keep us trapped in our hurts and our failures, but surprisingly, it can also keep us trapped in our success and victories. The more I focus on the past, the more steps I will take in that direction and the less steps I will take forward toward the future God has in store.  So, instead of trying to get back to where I used to be, the mindset I've adopted now is to take an honest look at where I am and then, with God’s help, take steps forward toward the new that God can do.

“Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don't you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.”
Isaiah 43:19 NIRV 

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