Becoming a Mentor Couple

19 01 2020

We have come face-to-face with so many different life problems while involved in pre- and postmarital counseling with engaged couples.  For example, a young woman’s sexual abuse as a child; a young man’s addiction to pornography; pregnancy; extreme debt; the recent loss of a parent and more.  These couples found themselves facing huge life challenges before saying “I do.”

 

Every couple we have ever faced presented new issues, new challenges.  Walking them through these life challenges was our privilege as premarital counselors.  We were not serving them as professionals, but rather as a mentor couple, and spiritual parents.  What an honor to walk with them, to pray with them and then to see answers to our prayers together.  It was a learning experience for them and for my wife and me.

 

Life has its twists and turns, but when you are able to walk alongside someone else serving and supporting them through those times, you are actually helping them to make it, to be successful and to grow toward maturity.  Our book, Called Together, is a resource to enable other couples to do exactly this.

 

If you and your spouse have a heart to enter this type of ministry, we have a suggestion for you.  You can take our free four-part training found on YouTube or you can attend our live training scheduled for February 22 at Westgate Church in Ephrata, PA. I will leave the live links on the bottom of this blog.

 

We have been involved in this ministry for many years and find great satisfaction and challenge in it.  Walking couples through their histories, their likes and dislikes, their hurts and their joys, all the while, moving toward marriage is simply a satisfying venture.  Helping to build a firm foundation for their future in the areas of communication, finances, sex and so much more brings with it a certain satisfaction.  As well, we schedule several postmarital check-ups with them after they say “I do.”  Follow-up is, as they say, where the rubber meets the road.

Mentoring training 

Called Together resource(s)

 





Money Issues are Ultimately Heart Issues

13 01 2020

Someone once said that money issues are ultimately heart issues.  Perhaps that is most likely true as Jesus spoke it this way, “For where you treasure is there your heart will be also.”

 

Consumer debt, financial mistakes and overcharging can simply be exposing a heart that is not seeking first God’s resources, God’s answers and God’s kingdom.  It might be trusting me more than trusting Him.  The Apostle Paul shared that he knew how to live with much and he knew how to live with little.  The key was walking in contentment.

 

It is well known that Mother Teresa’s earthly possessions could be carried about in a five-gallon bucket, but at the same time she believed God for millions of dollars to run her organizations that existed all over the world.  One could easily identify her heart when it came to money.

 

I once counseled someone who was $30,000 in debt created by an addiction to internet pornography.  One could easily identify that heart as well.

 

How about you?  Where is your heart when it comes to money?  Who owns your bank accounts, your IRA’s and your home?  Making investments for a financial return vs. creating consumer debt is wise, but making eternal deposits into the lives of others is wiser still.





When We Should Just “Shut up” in Marriage

6 01 2020

Are there times in marriage when we simply should not be communicating or using more words?  I want to propose that there are those times and we should use them wisely.  The book of Ecclesiastes reveals, “…A time to be quiet and a time to speak.”

 

Consider these five times that silence just might be described as golden.

 

  1. When your partner desires some quiet time or some alone time.

 

  1. When a disagreement is getting out of hand, it most likely is a good time for a communication time out.

 

  1. When one partner is feeling a bit snarky, it’s best not to respond.

 

  1. When an ongoing issue keeps surfacing we may need to back off and give it some time, or agree to disagree.

 

  1. When it’s time to close our day and go to sleep.

 

Use your quiet times wisely because sometimes, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Proverbs 17:28





Do You Have a Dream(s) for 2020?

30 12 2019

Joseph was just a teenager of 17.  He received two significant dreams that he foolishly, and in a bit of arrogance, shared with his family.  Of course, if you know the story, his brothers hated him for the content of those dreams and for expressing them.  (Genesis 37:1-11)

 

It would be another 20 or so years until those dreams became reality.  During those years he experienced some really low periods, like jail time in a king’s dungeon for a false accusation.  But Joseph held onto his dreams from God.

 

A dream is a direction that you feel led toward from your spirit, not your head.  It typically incorporates your personal bent and gifts.  When God sparks a dream in your heart, it’s difficult to let it go. I have experienced many dreams/visions fulfilled over my 65 years.  As I look back, I am in awe of what my heavenly Father has brought about.  That said, I also believe there are still many more dreams to be fulfilled. It takes a dream, a vision from the Lord to move you on.

 

It’s not that we’re discontent, for if we are, we’ll most likely remain where we’re presently at for some time. Dreams are from God about what’s next, what He’s preparing you for and that means you need to finish what you’re doing.  We need to complete it well, with integrity and no burned bridges.  There is something about completing a vision or taking it as far as God desires you to.  We must find contentment in what our Father has given our hands to do.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  (I Timothy 6:6)

 

Author Steve Addison wrote, “Discontent without vision leads to cynicism, but a dream without action is a fantasy.”

 

God downloads a life-giving dream into your spirit, you begin to consciously see it and either meditate on what the Father is saying or begin excusing why the thought couldn’t be God and dismiss it. If we have our eyes on his present circumstances only, we’ll feel as though Joseph missed God or God missed Joseph.  Not so. Life was happening to Joseph, but all for a reason.

 

God was wasting nothing.  His plan was coming about.  In Genesis 45 we see that Joseph’s heart was broken as his brothers knelt before him and he sobbed uncontrollably. Did he miss his brothers?  Yes.  Did he miss his father?  Yes.  But perhaps that is not why he was crying.  Maybe, just maybe, he was crying because the dream he had as a child was being fulfilled, before his very own eyes.  Nothing was amiss or awry.  God did not mess up or forget one single detail. All those years of suffering now melted away with purpose and fulfillment.  All those years of not knowing about his homeland or his family while in Egypt, are now history with the exuberance of a fulfilled dream taking place before him.

 

Do you have a dream?  Is there something inside of you?  Is there something you are passionate about to pursue?  If not, ask God for a dream, a vision from Him. Give your dreams a place in your prayer life.  Write down what you hear your Father speak to you and write down the answers He reveals.  As Habakkuk 2:2 says – “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”

 

We have a brand-new year ahead of us – 2020.  Maybe you gave up on a dream or thought it too lofty;  consider re-digging those wells.  Give thanks for the many fulfilled dreams in your life and expect, anticipate many more. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.  (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)

 

Dream on!





It’s Christmas; Do Not Be Afraid

23 12 2019

Are you aware that the phrase “do not be afraid” in some form appears in the Bible approximately 344 times?  In the majority of those times, it is recorded as spoken by God to the people He loves.  Surely God understands the condition of the human heart and its propensity to give in to fear.  It seems He knew that we would deal with fear throughout our lives and so He continually reassured us to not be afraid.

 

This Christmas season, I am attracted to how many times He spoke this phrase around the birth of His Son, Jesus.  To Joseph, Mary’s soon to be husband, He said to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because what is conceived in her is from God.  To Mary, an angel spoke that she was not to be afraid, she had found favor with God and would bear a Son.  To the shepherds, God through the angels said to not be afraid, for they were bringing good news: a Savior was born for all people.

 

All the way to the last book of the Bible where God states that we were not to be afraid for He is the First and the Last.

 

Did you know that the opposite of fear is love?  Elsewhere the Scriptures reveal that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18).  Why or how?  Because there is no fear in love.  God’s love has come to us this Christmas in the form of His Son.  Just like the message to Joseph, to Mary and to the shepherds, fear not!  God’s love for you and for me removes all fear.

 

Have a very blessed and love-filled Christmas! 





10 Ways to Train Your Children in Finance

16 12 2019

There is no better time than now, today, to start teaching your children about money, saving, spending, credit, debt and giving.  As we approach Christmas, a time of giving and receiving, you’ll have a perfect opportunity.

Take the financial lessons you have learned and use them as a teaching tool to those little ones in your life, either as a parent, a grandparent or a caretaker. Their future spouses, teachers and employers will love you for it. Author and financial teacher Larry Burkett once said that we are not responsible for our children’s decisions, but we are responsible for their training.

  • It all begins and hinges on helping them to understand that God owns it all. We are to be the best stewards of everything He shares with us and because God is so generous, teach generosity. There is no greater blessing than to give.
  • Teach the difference between self-discipline, delayed gratification, and immediate self-gratification.
  • Give your children regular and meaningful responsibilities – jobs without pay, e.g., picking up their toys. Do not give an unearned, free ride allowance, but rather, give your children regular jobs with generous pay, e.g., mowing the lawn or folding the laundry.
  • Teach your children to tithe from every dollar earned or given to them. It is all God’s, but discipline in regular giving grows a habit.
  • Teach your children to save a percentage of their income for the future (30-50%), all the while designating a percentage of what can be spent immediately.
  • Teach the difference between an asset and a liability – a consumable. Help them to understand the concept of investing and how that will help them beyond today into the future.
  • Develop a budget with your child as soon as they can comprehend the idea. It will serve them the remainder of their life. Start a savings account (start with a piggy bank) and when age appropriate, obtain a money market account and an ATM card. Teach them how to responsibly use and balance them.
  • Train them in the proper use of credit and how the borrower is servant to the lender. Borrowing for an asset vs. a liability.  Share with them the difference between paying interest and growing interest on their money/investment.
  • Share with your children your financial mistakes and how they can learn and benefit from them.
  • As is appropriate, walk them through all other financial concepts like loans, taxes, utilities, owning a home, maintenance, buying a car, auto repairs, insurance, etc. Take the time to teach your children what God takes the time to teach you about money and His resources. They’re never too young to learn.

And here’s a bonus for you as a parent.  Stop saying the words, “I can’t afford it.” Most times we can, we’re normally adjusting our priorities. So rather than this short answer, try explaining why making a certain purchase is not within your budget at this time.





God Designed You for More Than You Know; You Can Make a Difference

9 12 2019

Do you know who Mary Kay Ash was?  She worked at Stanley Home Products at one time and even though she spent many years there and trained many others, she was continually overlooked for promotion.  She ended her job and wrote a book.  That book was written to help women in business.

 

Born May 12, 1918 in Texas, she began her own cosmetic business at age 45.  Her initial investment was $5,000 in 1963.  The company turned a profit the first year.  Today there are 1.6 million salespeople working for Mary Kay Inc.  The rule she ran her company by?  The Golden Rule: “Treat others as you want to be treated.”  Annual sales now exceed $2.2 billion.  Mary Kay once said, “One person can make a difference.”

 

Mary Kay believed that it was her job to make others feel important.  Her life slogan was, “God first, family second, career third.”  She knew that encouragement was crucial in relationship.

 

Who do you need to encourage today?  Send them a text of encouragement.  Tell them they are worth far more than they know.  Tell them God had a specific design in mind when He created them.  You can make a difference in the life of another today, because, “One person can make a difference.”








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