10 Ideas to Stay Engaged with Others in These Unprecendented Times

30 03 2020

A friend wrote to me recently and stated, “We are trying to keep our sanity while working at home, having our children home from school and feeling isolated.”  Well said, because the whole world seems to be on a pause.  It is not a season to fear, but we can embrace this season and believe for some good to come out of it.  So, here are 10 things you can do while feeling a bit like a captive.

 

10. Spend extraordinary time with God. Receive His peace.  Spend spiritual time with your family, praying and bringing them comfort, encouragement and security.  Keep reading and keep praying through Psalm 91 and other scriptures.  God’s word brings certain peace.

9. Go through your phone listing of names and locate those persons that you feel or sense may need a call or an encouraging text message. Let them know you are thinking of them.  Go alphabetically and work through your personal directory of names prayerfully.  Consider doing the same with your email addresses.

8. Ask your spouse how you can serve them. Work on taking shifts with the kids so you can get your personal work accomplished.  Keep some sense of school and learning going with your children.

7. Call your immediate neighbors and arrange a driveway or front porch shout out to one another. Say something like, “At noon on Saturday, let’s all go outside to our front porch or driveway and shout out a greeting to one another.”  Ask everyone how they are doing.  Let them know you care and ask if anyone needs any help.

6. Currently, there is no visitation in senior care homes and rightly so. Do you know someone living in this situation?  Call them or Facetime them so that you can be a voice and a face of encouragement. You can also call and ask if there is a senior who needs to talk to someone as you could volunteer to do so.  Do not forget the incarcerated or those in some form of rehab as well.

5. If you are headed to the store, who can you ask or check with to bring items back for them? We have a recent widow and a woman being cared for who is 100 years old that we keep checking in with.

4. Clean out your attic. It’s a great time to rid yourself of stuff.  Put free items out on your sidewalk or driveway for others who may need them.

3. Bake some cookies for your neighbors or perhaps someone needs a basket of encouragement filled with little gifts or necessary items.

2. There are missionaries still on the field serving and there are missionaries who have had to return home. You can contact them and ask how they are doing or if they need anything in the way of support during this time of transition.

1. Turn on worship music in your home.  While it plays in the background it will refresh, encourage and minister to the spirit of every family member.  Monitor the TV, espcially the news which can be scary to children.  Locate The Chosen and watch 8 amazing episodes with your family.  The Chosen has had almost 12 million views and already self-raised almost 2 million of 10 million dollars needed for season two.  View the trailor here.

Remember, God has made many rich deposits within you. It is time to give Him a return on His investment.  Ask Him what He would have you to do for others and trust Him for an amazing outcome.

 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  (Galatians 6:2)





Fear Not

23 03 2020

Did you know that the words “fear not” or “do not fear” appear well over 100 times in the New King James Version of the Bible?  God must be serious about fear in our lives.  Fear will steal our joy, remove our faith, decrease our love and cause us to not trust God.  I can still remember an often-seen bumper sticker from the 1970’s which read, “Fear or Faith.”  We have a choice; we can fear or we can have faith in our God.  Below I shared some of my favorite “fear not” scriptures.  May they bring you courage to not be in fear!

 

Isaiah 41:10, 13: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

 

Isaiah 43:1: But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.

 

Isaiah 54:14: In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you.

 

I Chronicles 23:13: Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.

 

Psalms 46:2: Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.

 

Psalms 78:53: And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

 

Matthew 10:31: Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.





7 Healthy Responses to the Coronavirus

20 03 2020

I love Psalm 91; it is so full of good news.  With all of the change the whole world is facing today, God’s word and His promises do not change and it is good to remind ourselves of this fact.  If you haven’t read this Psalm recently, please do and consider reading it daily as recommended in point number one below.  Its truth is so encouraging in this hour.

Did you know that God in His word outlined a process of how to stop an infectious disease?  Once it was diagnosed by the high priest, that person was to go into isolation for seven days.  They were then to be examined a second time and possibly go into a second seven day isolation.  (See Leviticus 13)

Let’s also be reminded and take to heart the process outlined by our government to keep the spread of this virus to a minimum.  Romans 13 instructs us to submit to the governing authorities as they have been established by God.  To not submit is to be in rebellion against what God has established.  (See Romans 13:1,2)

John G. Lake (1870-1935) was an evangelist and also known as a “faith healer” who lived through the Bubanic Plague.  He stayed on the ground, ministering to the sick and actually helped to bury the dead.  When asked by the doctors what protection he was using he said, “…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  I believe that just as long as I keep my soul in contact with the living God so that His Spirit is flowing into my soul and body, that no germ will ever attach itself to me, for the Spirit of God will kill it.”  (See the article here.)

Here are 7 words of encouragement for you and for those whom you touch.

  1. Meditate on Psalm 91 each and every day. Read it to your children so they know of God’s protection over them.  Pray this Psalm over your household.
  2. Remember the Passover when the Israelites’ doorways had blood sprinkled on them. (See Exodus 12:23)  Those dwellings were not touched.  You have authority in the Name of Jesus to pray protection over your household.  Take that authority boldly against the evil one and protect your household in the Spirit.
  3. Do not operate in fear or anxiety. The love of Jesus is perfect and casts out all fear.  (See I John 4:7-21)  Anxiety takes the place of prayer and keeps us from trusting God.  (See Proverbs 12:25; Philippians 4:6,7)  Rather, operate in a spirit of faith.
  4. Keep rejoicing and keep giving thanks. A thankful heart is a heart absent of complaint.  A heart that rejoices is a heart full of life.  (See Philippians 4:4; I Thessalonians 5:18)
  5. Think and pray about how you can serve others. Do you have a neighbor that you need to check on?  Is there an elderly person who should not go to the store at this time and you can make the trip for them?  How can you and your family serve those who are at a higher risk?  Remember that difficulties in life can also provide opportunities. (See Matthew 20:28; I Peter 4:10)
  6. We can trust God in all things, including this precarious season. Place all your hope and trust in the Lord; He does not disappoint.  (See Psalms 25:1,2; 31:14; 62:8)
  7. Pray for government leaders in decision making.  Pray for your church family to stay strong and faith filled.  Pray for opportunities to serve others.  Prayer will help us to maintain a proper focus.  Pray without ceasing!  (I Thessalonians 5:17)

 

Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

And Romans 15:13 states, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”





Couples Who are Committing Financial Infidelity

15 03 2020

A recent survey conducted by CreditCards.com, which included 1,378 adults, discovered that 44% of U.S. adults admit to “…hiding bank accounts or debt and spending more money than their partner is aware of.”  I was astounded when I read that statistic.

 

When asked why they do this, their answers included for “privacy” purposes or “a desire to control their own finances.”  Many admitted they spend more than their significant other would like them to or would agree with.

 

We know money issues are some of the biggest issues in relationships, especially marriage.  That is the reason why we dedicate a whole chapter to finance in our premarital book, Called Together and we also discuss it thoroughly in our follow-up book, Staying Together.

 

Some of the couples in the survey stated that they are keeping “secret accounts” or are carrying “hidden debt.”  It was also found that men tend to function in financial infidelity slightly more than women.  All of the above is a major sign of mistrust in a relationship, perhaps fear, a longing for independence, the misuse of finances or a sign of financial abuse.  It certainly is an indicator of something awry in one party or both.

 

Have you kept financial secrets from your spouse?  Here are a few reasons to never engage in this behavior:

  1. It will undermine the foundation of your relationship.
  2. You are living a lie and keeping secrets from a relationship that should have no secrets.
  3. Secrets always have a way of surfacing, at the poorest of times. It will then become far more difficult to try and deal with the infraction(s).
  4. Your partner might wonder what other secrets are being kept from the relationship, creating an unhealthy distrust.

And here are some reasons why this may be happening:

  1. You have an underlying fear of financial loss or separation of the relationship.
  2. There is something in your personal or family history that needs to be dealt with and healed.
  3. There is something in your marriage history that needs to be dealt with and healed.
  4. Money has become an inordinate form of security to you.
  5. Your spending is out of control and you are attempting to meet emotional needs in a wrong way.

 

It is interesting that the verse (verse four) before the one I share below is about marriage, and then Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

 

How we spend our money, save our money and give away our money says so much about our heart and who we are as a person.  Who are you when it comes to money?  Integrity begins with the use of one single cent.  If you are concealing finance or accounts and keeping secrets from your spouse, please take steps to rectify this.  Do not allow personal secrets to invade your marriage relationship.





The Bondage of an Offense and Six Healing Steps

9 03 2020

Many years ago, I worked with someone who continually picked up offenses.  With tremendous immaturity and insecurity, they made life miserable for everyone around them.  We walked on eggshells when this person was present.

 

In reality, their unmet, inordinately high expectations in everyone but themself inhibited the vision of the ministry, inhibited the effectiveness of the staff to work together and literally put this person in a passive control of everyone.  To confront this person meant certain retribution from them because in order to maintain their offenses, they had to be right.

 

Offended persons value being right before relationship since it validates and justifies their holding onto the offense.  Offended persons concentrate and perceive what everyone else is doing to them.  It is a self-centered, narcissistic way of living.  Proverbs says it this way, “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city…”

 

As believers, it is unacceptable to live with an offended spirit.  Our offenses expose the weakness of us, because we choose to be offended.  Jesus does not want us to walk in offense and become bitter persons; He wants us to be “deader” persons.

 

Dead people do not take an offense (see Romans 14: 7-8).  Jesus, Himself, who had plenty of opportunity to take offense at the Pharisees, once said that offenses will come, but woe to whom they come through (Luke 17:1-3).  Being offended and offending are from the same source, the spirit of self.

 

We walk in pride when we feel that we do not receive the recognition that we should receive and become offended.  We dislike being told what to do or being corrected and accountable and so we take up an offense.  We develop an overly sensitive spirit and then keep people away who might love us enough to tell us the truth about our overreacting.

 

Again, Proverbs reveals that wounds from a friend can be trusted.  Someone said it this way, “A friend will stab you from the front.”

 

Simply stated, the cross is about love and love does not offend.  Love is the ultimate cure for offenses.  Jesus died for those offenses so that we do not need to pick them up.

 

Can we offense proof our self?  Here are six suggestions to help.

 

  1. Catch it early. You know in your sprit when an offense is in the early stages because you feel the jab of a personal wound.  Do not embrace it (see Proverbs 19:11).
  2. Be honest with yourself and your emotions. Do not be in denial; accept the feelings you have of anger or letdown and disappointment.  (Romans 12:3; Galatians 6:4)
  3. As quickly as possible, speak blessing over the one who spoke what you determined to be offensive words. Those words of blessing will override negative thoughts so as to not nurse the hurt you may also feel.  (Luke 6:27-28)
  4. Ask God to show you the truth and the positive in the matter. How will He use it to grow you?  What steps can you take toward knowing that all things work together for good?  (Romans 8:28-29)
  5. Go to the person(s) and face the situation by confronting your own feelings and do your best to be reconciled. (Matthew 7:12)
  6. Forgive quickly and do not harbor an offense, release it. (Colossians 3: 12-15 NLT)




Seven Nonreligious Reasons to NOT Live Together Before You Say “I Do”

24 02 2020

“In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.” *

 

Let’s face it, there are lots of Biblical reasons to not live together before marriage, not the least of these being something called fornication.  But are there other, more or less “nonreligious” reasons to not live together before marriage?

 

Here are seven:

1. You will totally rob yourself of the honeymoon phase of marriage. You have lived together which also, most likely, means you have been intimate.  You just lost any surprise for the wedding night and a very different, wonderful and intriguing honeymoon.

 

2. You will not feel like newlyweds once you are married. You lived together and all of that newness will be completely missing.

 

3. By living together before marriage, there is still a, “This is mine; that is yours.” Why?  Because you are not one, you have not committed to “ours.” Further, living together provokes selfishness. How?  You have not committed the remainder of your life to this person and you have not spoken any vow of promise, therefore; you are free to live as a single person lives without commitment.

 

4. You still have a huge, unlocked and open back door to this relationship.  Without a ring and a date, what are you working toward?  Why hang in there when it gets extraordinarily difficult?

 

5. It is said that no one should buy a car before test driving it. That is almost laughable.  A car is not a major life relationship, it’s a thing.  Marriage is so much more than a test drive or a thing or a material item one makes use of.

 

  1. What will you tell and what will you pass on to your children someday? Will you desire something different for them or will you recommend this arrangement?  I have never talked to anyone who desires to pass this news onto their children and/or will encourage them to do the same.

 

7. “Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect. Researchers originally attributed the cohabitation effect to selection, or the idea that cohabiters were less conventional about marriage and thus more open to divorce. As cohabitation has become a norm, however, studies have shown that the effect is not entirely explained by individual characteristics like religion, education or politics. Research suggests that at least some of the risks may lie in cohabitation itself.”   (*New York Times: The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage)

 

Marriage is a commitment to a covenant whether one believes in God or not.  Marriage is God’s original design and idea, not someone’s good idea or a government idea for society.  Ultimately, one does not disobey something God created for mankind and feel good about it.

 

I am sure there are more reasons, but I hope something of these seven spoke to you if you are thinking about giving yourself to a cohabitation arrangement, please know that you are worth far more!





Oh, the Choices We Make

17 02 2020

How many choices do you think you make in a day?  Choices like: what time we’ll get up from our warm and cozy beds, how much coffee we’ll drink, whether or not we’ll engage in a devotional time and so on.  Those examples are pretty common or simple, but there are more difficult choices we make quite frequently as well.

 

We engage in more difficult choices like: how many hours we will spend at work versus time with our spouse or family, how much alcohol will we drink at the party, whether we will run that next red light because we’re late for an appointment.  We make choices about our health, the food we eat, yes, even the sin we’re participating in.  We are making choices every hour of every day and it puts every one of us at a certain crossroad.

 

The crossroad is that we make our choices out of our personal value and belief systems.  We make choices based on our thoughts, correct or incorrect.  You see, WE make the choices and WE are responsible for those choices made.  While we’re good at blaming others like Eve blamed Adam and Adam blamed the serpent in the book of Genesis, at the end of the day, they remain our choices.

 

A wife obtains her own credit card without her husband’s knowledge and then max’s that credit card out – a choice.

 

A husband gets up in the middle of the night to watch pornography – a choice.

 

A teenager decides to send text messages while driving – a choice.

 

Our choices affect our present and our future, meaning if you desire to have a better future, make better choices today.

 

Here is some really good advice from the scriptures concerning our choices:

 

A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8,9)

 

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  (I Corinthians 10:31)

 

See also: Luke 14:28; Proverbs 3:5,6; 16:9; 19:21; Colossians 3:17 and James 1:5








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