The Divorce Rate IS Declining

28 11 2016

imagesWe started writing about, training counselors and actually mentoring couples in pre- and postmarital counseling in 1989. Our primary goal as stated in our book, Called Together, Asks the Difficult Questions that all Couples Must Answer Before and After They say “I Do,” was to better prepare couples before marriage and follow-up with them after marriage using this book as a resource in the hands of trained counselors. The ultimate goal of accomplishing this was to have an effect upon the divorce rate of our day. We longed for, worked toward and prayed to see it lowered.

Imagine our surprise when reading the following in USA Today dated, November 23, 2016 on a return flight back into the United States, “Divorce rates have dropped three years in a row and are at their lowest level in 35 years. From 23 divorces per 1,000…in 1980…to 17 divorces per 1,000 in 2015, according to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research.” And the article went on to say that the rate of marriage is increasing slowly. Hopefully, that statistic speaks to fewer couples electing to live together unmarried.images

Perhaps these stats do not excite you, but for Mary and me it means so much. It means more intact families with fewer children living through the divorce of their parents. It means more stable households contributing to their communities, schools and local churches. It’s positive news for the economy with combined incomes purchasing homes, going on vacations together and providing for their children. But most of all, it means honoring the One who created this thing we call marriage, our heavenly Father.

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Bad Decisions

21 11 2016

images-3A CEO was once asked what made him so successful. He replied, “Good decisions.” “How, then, do you make good decisions?” was the follow-up question. His reply was given in one word, “Experience.” “And how do you get experience?” was the final question. The CEO provided a two-word response, “Bad decisions.”

Trying to save your children, your co-worker or your friend from all bad decisions may not be helping them. Often it is how we learn to make better decisions. I can still recall the day my son came home from work describing another awful day that he couldn’t wait to be over. His boss was continually on his case and not very nice about it. I asked him what he was learning and he told me, “I am learning that my boss is a jerk.” I shared with him there are just as many good lessons learned from bad bosses as there are from good bosses and it was up to him to either learn from the situation or choose an unproductive form of anger.images

images-4I read once that bad decisions are often the result of insufficient knowledge. How about you, what are you learning from your bad decisions?

Does Security in a Marriage Lead to Sexuality?

14 11 2016

imagesOur marriage either promotes security or insecurity. Most marriage partners are looking for security from their spouse because it’s a need we all pursue.   When security is present in a marriage relationship, you will also find honor, trust, love and respect. Where there is insecurity, most likely honor and trust are missing or at the least, threatened.

Security in our marriages gives birth to intimacy. And, true marital intimacy can lead to sexuality. Most marriages do not have a “sex problem,” they have an intimacy problem and that intimacy problem just might be a result of the lack of security (an absence of honor, love, trust and respect).

images-25When we honor and respect someone we view him or her as better than ourselves in order to serve them without expectation. Immaturity expects a return, i.e., “I do this; therefore, you do that.”   But when we choose to honor and respect someone because we are married to him or her and we love him or her, security will grow within our relationship. As security grows, intimacy grows and as intimacy grows so will a healthy sex life.

7 Post Election Responses We Can Apply Today

11 11 2016
  1. Give thanks. We are commanded in the scripture to give thanks in all things. This test is greatest when we do not feel thankful. (I Thessalonians 5:18)
  2. Timothy wisely said that we were to pray for kings and all those in authority that we might live peaceful lives. We need peace in this nation…pray. (I Timothy 2:1-3)images-2
  3. Speak life. We have heard enough polarizing language for a lifetime. There is life and death in the tongue and the tongue of the wise brings healing. Bring healing with your words. (Proverbs 18:21; 12:18)
  4. Overlook offenses and do not speak offensively. (Proverbs 19:11)
  5. Listen to and respect others. The scripture tells us that it is folly to answer before listening. Listening will keep us engaged and attempting to understand. (Proverbs 18: 2, 13)
  6. Love your neighbor. Period. (Matthew 22: 39)
  7. Forsake pride. Pride breads quarrels. (Proverbs 13: 10)

imagesLet’s use what has happened in our nation to mature, to pursue loving others and to ask God for His change to take place in every one of our lives. Jesus is the reconciler, it’s what He does and He uses us to help bring reconciliation. Remember who paid the highest price, and proclaim His love to this nation. Reach out to the hurting all around you and share about the One who longs to heal their hurts, disappointments and fears.

Pain: A Gift From God?

7 11 2016

imagesPain has a way of receiving our attention. It is an indicator that something is wrong somewhere. Have you ever considered pain to be a gift in your life?

As I stood over my wife, Mary, at the Emergency Room, I felt helpless and teary. They were poking, prodding, sticking her with needles and scheduling a CAT scan in order to discover what was wrong. For two days she was in severe abdominal pain.

Physical pain tends to attract our immediate attention. Doctors pour over us attempting a diagnoses in order to extend treatment. There are numerous tests, blood work and vital signs taken. We rush to find the cause in order to bring the cure.

Somehow we perceive emotional pain as different. We tell ourselves, “Time heals and it’ll go away…eventually.” It doesn’t. It’s undiagnosed. It settles deep into our soul and tries to hide itself. We cover it up with laughter and a “not going to let it bother me” kind of attitude. However, it becomes more severe and grows like a cancer, eating away at us. Jesus points to it, presses His finger on it, and we dismiss it. It becomes infected and at just the wrong time, the pain surfaces in an anger outburst, or depression, or…

images-2Mary’s appendix was ruptured and poison filled her abdominal area. She needed emergency surgery that night and IV antibiotics for 24 hours. How about you, do you need emergency surgery to bring healing to an emotional hurt? There is a Surgeon with the most skillful and heavenly hands just waiting for your go ahead. Ask Him, He is our healer. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalms 147:3)

Voting for the President of the United States

31 10 2016

 imagesThis will most likely be my one and only blog on the upcoming election. It is not written to change anyone’s mind, but rather to calm our minds and spirits.

 I love this nation and I love how God has used this nation and continues to use this nation to care for others around the world.  I love our freedoms and I love our Christian heritage.  I love the many cultures found in America and I love the church in this nation.  I love the fact that we have been given the freedom to vote and elect candidates for office and I love that everyone can freely voice their opinion.

 I do not love the disunity I see and feel in our nation today.  I dislike the factions over important issues like national debt, cultural values, immigration, abortion, taxes, jobs and so many others.  I have prayed for and hoped that the present administration would help bring unity and focus to this great county.  I dislike how opposing views have become even more venomous and further apart.  I dislike and have been discouraged by the lack of leadership displayed in our nation that has allowed this and has participated in it.  The selfishness and immaturity among our leaders is astounding.images-2

 The list of why Donald Trump is unfit and his multiple sins exposed is getting longer, as the same list continues to grow with Hilary Clinton.  There are so many things wrong with both candidates that many people are saying they cannot vote for either one.  Still others find one candidate more evil than the other and are not voting for a candidate but rather against a candidate.  Like them or not, these are the choices.  It truly speaks to the division in this nation and it speaks to how truly shallow American values have become.  As I heard someone say recently, there is so much di-vision because there is so little vision, so little leadership.  How true.  Was it John Maxwell who said that everything rises and falls on leadership?

 I wish it was over and we could all go home.  But it’s not over.  In fact, November 8th is just the beginning.  It will continue for four years, likely eight.  And that is my point.  We need to look down the road, beyond the election and all the faults in both candidates.  We need to ask ourselves which party stands for our personal biblical values because that party will either stay the same and continue on with its agenda or that party will change and work toward its agenda.

 For the godly, arguing with your neighbor or posting on-line why your candidate is better by putting the other candidate down, in my opinion, is simply operating in the same spirit that these two candidates operate. You see it in each debate, i.e., the anger, the hate, the division, the immaturity and the lack of integrity, character and leadership.  Don’t fall prey to it; rise above it and pray against the spirit that is attempting to separate and divide.

 So many today who claim Christ remind me of the disciples, who when they discovered that the Lord was not welcome in a certain Samaritan village asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”  (Luke 9:54)  In other words, burn those to ashes who do not welcome you or receive you.  Jesus calmly rebuked them and they simply moved on to a village that would receive them.

 images-3As I consider that second Tuesday of November, I find myself required to look beyond these two candidates and instead looking to the party that best represents my beliefs and my values.  Daniel did it in his day and Joseph did it in his.  Jesus certainly did it best as He represented His Father’s kingdom here on earth.  I suppose it is these words of Christ that help me the most when it comes to this election and its candidates, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.  So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example.  For they don’t practice what they teach.  They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.  Everything they do is for show.”  (Matthew 23: 1-5)  Certainly seems that Jesus understood it, while giving practical advice at how to walk it out.

 The sign in your yard will most likely not change anyone’s mind, but it just might inhibit your ability to share about a kingdom that is not part of this world system with your neighbors.  Eventually we need to ask ourselves, do we want to be right or do we want to be in relationship? Do we only want to share our political “truth” or do we long to share THE Truth? Your neighbor’s need or fear defines your obligation of serving them; it is the love of God. No political party can save them. Remember, Jesus washed the feet of Judas who hours later betrayed Him. Do you think that Jesus assaulted Judas verbally or was especially rough on his feet during that moment?

 II Chronicles 7:14 is still the best advice from God’s word for a hurting nation, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

 Father, please come and restore this land called the USA with Your love, Your heart and Your unity.  Please forgive us of our disunity in direct disobedience to the prayer of Your Son recorded in John 17, “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”  Give us such a heart for this nation that we will pray for and love whichever candidate wins this election, because ultimately our trust, our hope and our life is in You and Your hands.  

Please make your voice heard by voting and in the meantime represent the kingdom of God well.

Avoiding The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

24 10 2016

images-13Have you ever wondered what people regret the most just before leaving this life? It seems others have as well, so Huffington Post in the year 2012 published an article on the top five regrets of the dying. Here they are:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.images

I found that list interesting in that numbers 1,3, and 4 are some form of regret connected to others while number 2 is connected to personal action. Number 5 seems to bring up regret of being too serious or perhaps too passive. Do not allow the “I wishes” to ruin your life today.   Check out these verses: “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous… In this way they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (I Timothy 6:19)images-12

Totally avoid these regrets by living your life for your Lord, walking in forgiveness, being who He has made you to be and daily embracing the life that is truly life.

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