Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 3.2.16 – Marriage: What Do You Want Out Of It?

Wedding_rings

I’ve given a lot of thought to marriage recently. I’ve come across lots of good stuff regarding this covenant we call marriage. Challenge means growing.

So for this post: think and act on what you seek to get out of marriage. Married or not, that question can greatly affect both your approach and your outcome.

Should we want anything at all?

This does NOT mean we void ourselves of wants or interests. But the challenge comes straight from Scripture, which commands husbands and wives to love each other as a reflection of how Christ loves us.

Christ lived, 100%, to benefit others. Could we, as spouses, if required, live only for the service of our spouse, kids, and others? Could our core relationships give us complete satisfaction if we had to assume a position of complete servanthood?

Examples

Seasonally, I have seen people do it. Husbands generously caring for their wives post surgery, or a husband caring for his wife over many years after she was struck with dementia. For these seasons, these spouses exhibited a love that almost literally got them nothing in return. Over the weeks, months, or years, spouses in these situations do nothing but manage the care of a person, a home, and perhaps a household.

Christ

Christ displayed love on earth that got him nothing but betrayed, deserted, and murdered. We glorify Him for the love He showed in paying the price that we as sinners deserved. His love showed a powerful, one-way, sacrifice that completely covered the sin of all who would turn to Him.

The Challenge

No marriage, in a normative sense, is designed to exist in a one way love situation. Marriage’s design includes both the giving and receiving of love. But, could we grow our marriages and increase our love for Christ by taking an approach that suppresses our desire to get, and instead places as primary our desires to grow?

Think. Do you posses the capability of this type of love? I ask in light of the challenge prodding me.

Act. How can you increase your desire to serve your spouse and family while squelching the desire to receive?

Think and Act 2.25.16 – When I Make Videos With Our Kids

IMG_20160215_162539564

The video I made with our kids last week should have taken this spot right here. But, the file won’t fit, so you’ll have to troll on over to my Facebook page to find it.

For this post, a few thoughts about the method and the madness behind these videos.

1. Method.

Think simple. Cell phone video camera and iMovie for editing provide the basic makeup. We trade filming responsibilities depending on who’s in which scene.

2. Madness.

This process often devolves into madness. You have a perfectionist father trying to work with the script-writing, acting, and otherwise attention challenged abilities of children who have good intentions. Do the math.

I often think this process (yes, I am a willing participant) brings about growth in me more than any other benefit. Do I lose my patience? Sure. Do we get into arguments doing this? Yes. Our eyes roll more times than a sports car in an action scene.

The process of the “madness” reminds me of their developmental level, and how I need to learn to laugh, slow down, and enjoy the time. Through it all we do end up having a lot of fun as we mess up, re-take, re-edit, and fuss over our imperfection. This all brings about the . . .

3. Memories.

The memories we make doing these projects will truly endure. Regularly, our kids ask “Remember in that video we made when…?”  I fully realize that doing these projects taps a creative side with them and pulls my heart strings when they fondly remember the fun we had going through the process together.

The memories have the power to shrink the limitations of the method and the angst of the madness.

Think. How will your kids remember special times with you?

Act. Intentionally, what sorts of things can you do to create memories with your kids?

Think and Act 2.17.16 – Getting Out of Debt

7214450550_bd3c1e5db2_o

Let all the caveats apply here. I don’t think one system fits all believers. I know situations and mistakes compile, compound, and complicate. But I want to ask the question from not only a practical standpoint, but a biblical one as well.

That question is this: do you have a plan to get out of debt?

My wife and I, nearing seventeen years of marriage and bearing pain from stupid mistakes for years, have arrived at a point where our home is the final debt remaining on our ledger. Let me summarize a few key principles:

1. A spiritual conviction.

The Bible describes the debtor as slave to the lender. Anyone who’s had financial debt feels this every time a payment comes due. We have desired to eliminate our debt in large part due to the spiritual benefits on the other side of debt.

The spiritual benefit of eliminating debt proves much larger than peace of mind or having the freedom to do what you want. Simply put, we want furthering God’s kingdom to rank at the top of the list of the priorities. We wanted to make as much resource available for those investments we value most.

2. Saving is a defense against debt.

Saving money makes you your own credit card. Saving is a commitment to expect the unexpected. Things in your life or business will  break down. The brakes will go bad. The computer will crash. Owning things requires the commitment to keep them functional without having to take on debt to fix them.

To achieve any measure of financial health you simply can’t spend everything you make.

3. Discipline.

Getting stronger financially might present one of the greatest challenges anyone could take on. The amount of unknown in the process sets it apart from trying to increase physical health where you have much more control. I know many people just like us who show growth and make progress, only to have another calamity come calling for the cash represented by that growth.

A part of discipline also meant continued, consistent giving. I’m sure the temptation would slyly tell you to quit giving so you could eliminate the debt faster. Biblically, we value the rhythm of regular worship and see giving as a part of that.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is patience, and self control (among others, of course).

4. God’s grace.

Absent God’s grace, “arrogant lecture” would make for a nice label on this post. We sin. We need forgiveness. We need more hunger for God’s ways. We need God’s blessing. Absent our sin and failures in earlier years of marriage, we might have made it to this point much quicker. We praise God for grace and hope to continue to lean on grace more than the money we save not paying interest.

Think. Do you really value getting out of debt? Even if it took ten years?

Act. Pray. Then begin building a framework for what it would like like to eliminate your debt. Involve a trusted believer or professional if necessary. Rely on God in the process!

Think and Act 2.10.16 – My Challenge As A Husband

hand-1056622_960_720

This Sunday, of course, brings us to the annual celebration of Valentine’s Day. This Sunday also doubles as our church’s marriage seminar, so marriage happens to have a spot in my mind right now.

The husband’s challenge? Well…seems as if a bunch of answers would fit, right?

How to get more time in the man cave, how to get full control of the remote, how to get his favorite meals.

Those would be punchlines.

Biblically, the husband’s challenge come straight out of I Peter 3:7:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

This verse follows six verses of instruction to wives. Six verses to one doesn’t seem fair, but the verse to husbands packs quite the punch.

Some things which bring the husband’s task into focus:

1. Live in an understanding way.

This command demonstrates action on the part of the husband. Husbands – take action to understand your wives. We have no chance to lead our wives without taking action to understand them. Their past, their present, their struggles, their perspectives, their gifts: know it and seek to lead them in response.

I’m not saying lead in a sense that everything should revolve around the wife. But this command is far from just doing whatever you want and demanding submission in a Biblical sense. Lead in a way that shows your leadership is not just about you. Show that your leadership is about both of you.

2. Showing honor.

Show honor. A woman deserves the honor of her husband. This comes in addition to “live in an understanding way”. Neither of these two commands seeks power or control. These commands seek the strength of a relationship and the welfare of another; they reflect grace, which God gives us freely anyhow.

When a husband shows honor and seeks understanding, God gets the glory. What other goal should marriage have anyhow?

3. Don’t hinder your prayers.

I’ll leave this at its word. It says our prayers are hindered if we fail. This makes sense. Inserting our own desires ahead of obedience can hinder our prayers anytime.

Think. Are you, as a husband, willing to lead your wife? Wives, are you willing to encourage and help your husband lead?

Act. Ask God for the grace to lead with great care and concern.

Think and Act 1.21.15 – Taking the Mystery Out of Porn

 

jailbird-154564_960_720

Do you feel like porn has you trapped, attached like a ball and chain?

Certainly one of the great allures of pornography lies in the sense of mystery.

Mystery fuels fantasy. Fantasy without unknown doesn’t exist.

So, let me attempt to make a few brief points that can help take the mystery out of porn.

1. Porn features real people.

If you knew you were viewing your friend, your neighbor, your distant relative, or your co-worker, would it be mysterious anymore? Doubtful.

Someone calls those actors “son”. That model is someone’s daughter. The fantasy weakens significantly when you realize those sexual organs you’re viewing belong to a real, live human being.

2. Few would say they support slavery.

Many in porn find themselves trapped as slaves. Maybe they’ve sold themselves for lack of anything better as everyone in their life has abandoned them. Maybe they’re kidnapping victims, forced to work as slaves for someone else’s profit. The bottom line? Much like prostitution, those featured in pornography are most likely under someone else’s control.

3. Freedom is NOT a mystery.

Many people find slavery to porn comforting. Freedom seems like the risk. Many can’t imagine the discomfort of life without porn.

But freedom is real, and possible. Today. Hear this. If you believe in Jesus Christ, God lives inside you. Romans 8:2 says this: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Christ’s strength overpowers sin’s slavery.

Many have overcome porn and, now slaves to a new master, find it disgusting.

Here’s a small ebook (a free PDF) for those looking for a bit deeper read.

Think. Do you find yourself trapped? What about anyone you know? Stats tell us 40% of believing men (and a rising number of women) regularly view porn.

Act. Work to destroy the mystery. Get accountability. Confess the sin today, and rely on God’s grace to fill the void this sin currently fills. Porn is not some “bad habit”. Why risk destroying your soul? God’s grace, the transforming Holy Spirit, and human effort can work together to destroy the sin instead.