Three Very Wise Guys

24 12 2018

Three wise men traveled quite a distance to see the Christ child.  There is a bit of debate about the distance they traveled, as well as the time it took to travel those miles.  Some Bible scholars say He was a toddler and some say He was still an infant when they arrived in Bethlehem.

 

But faithfully they traveled until reaching their destination.  These three faith-filled and expectant kings followed the star until reaching the birthplace of the Savior.  They arrived bearing gifts for the newborn King.  They came to give, not receive.

 

How often do we come to Jesus to receive rather than give to Him?  How often are we making a request or sharing a need versus bringing Him a gift of praise, thanksgiving, honor or just a reverent and silent listening spirit?

 

Christmas is a time of giving because God first gave to us, His Prince of heaven.  Thank you, Father, for giving us Your very best Christmas gift, Emanuel (God with us)!

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How Our Differences Can Strengthen Our Marriage

17 12 2018

Before we said, “I do” we diligently worked at not having or experiencing differences with one another, at least not out loud. We wanted to be argument free and not allow anything to inhibit our communication.  But not long after saying “I do,” for many of us that changed.  We trusted our marriage vows to hold us together while experiencing differences, even when they became heated.  What changed?

 

Nothing changed other than we gave ourselves permission to be freer at being ourselves.  No longer held back by what the other may think, we let our emotions and our words find freedom of expression even if those expressions were hurtful.  If you have observed this in your relationship, you’re not alone.  Let me share a rich truth that my wife and I have discovered along the way.

 

After we marry a new reality sets in and we realize differences really do need to be dealt with. While we have to acknowledge some of our differences as purely selfish, a few are simply a different view or opinion.  Not wrong, just a different perspective.  If we stay in immaturity, we will not listen to or make any attempt to understand our mate’s different view.  We will perceive them as wrong and it will be our goal to convince them our way is the right way.

 

However, that is not the goal and such an approach will lead us to greater frustration.  As we grow in maturity, love and understanding, we begin to realize God gave me this person to be different, to see another perspective and to strengthen our relationship through our differences.  When we can embrace this truth, we will discover a greater whole, a more complete oneness and a healthier appreciation for those differences. In other words, one of us see’s what the other does not and in the end we’ll make a better decision and be able to embrace a more complete understanding.

 

Allow God to use your differences to strengthen your marriage!





This Is A Serious Condition; Do Not Take It Lightly

10 12 2018

“People die from this infection; this is serious; do not take it lightly,” said the ER doctor to us before discharge.  My wife of 43 years was sick and in pain – bent over pain.  Showing up at the ER just after midnight on a Saturday (Sunday morning really) is a busy, if not overwhelming place to be.  I was so concerned for the woman in my arms who could barely stand up from the excruciating pain she was experiencing in her abdomen.

 

“What’s your birthdate, your phone number, your address?” All seemed to be questions that we really could do without right now.  “Please have a seat, we’re really busy with many trauma situations tonight,” was what we were told while being handed a small round pod as if we were waiting for a restaurant table.  I had the feeling we were going to be placed on a low priority list.  But it wasn’t long until an IV shot strong pain medicine into Mary and then later an antibiotic.  And finally, two hours later, a CAT scan.

 

Meanwhile I began observing the many people around us, none smiling, all needing immediate attention. I found myself not only praying for my wife, but those in the ER rooms we passed.  Sitting with Mary and holding her hand, I heard screams repeatedly. Then I heard a police officer reading someone his Miranda rights.  After that a police officer telling someone they were under arrest for DUI and refusing a blood test.

 

Wow, no wonder hospitals, medical staff, ER’s are so full of compassionate, Christ-filled called ones. Every patient needs immediate attention, medical care and a right diagnosis.  Every ill one needs patience, kind words, an advocate and a smile.  Hospital staff, all treating every human being with love and the very best care they’ve been trained to provide.

 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if human kind treated each other with the same understanding and compassion? No one asked us if we believed in medicine.  No one asked us our political persuasion.  No one asked us our financial status and not one asked us about our theological doctrine. No one was there to argue, just show care, compassionate treatment and kindness.

 

Daily we are faced with persons who are sick in their soul.  How compassionate am I?  How much time am I willing to take with them?  Do they feel accepted, comforted, listened to and important around me? “God, I pray I see the need in the lives of those around me and respond with loving, Jesus-filled care and compassion.”  As it is written, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” (I Peter 3:8)

 

Mary is recovering now at home from a severe kidney infection and a kidney stone that needs to exit her body.  Praise God for hospitals, medicine, emergency rooms and those extraordinarily kind and understanding medical personnel who work tirelessly.





Don’t Just Cry About It; Do Something!

2 12 2018

There it was, 15 feet up, stuck on a tree limb.  My grandson’s favorite stuffed animal hanging and lodged by a single leg now out of his hands and his control.  In his five-year-old mind it seemed permanent, so he cried and cried.  He imagined it gone from his life forever and thus the emotion.  We held him to console him and then said, “There’s no need to cry. Let’s work on a solution to the problem.”  When asking him what we could do about the problem he shrugged his shoulders and whimpered, “I don’t know.”  We asked him if crying could be part of the solution and he managed to shake his head no.

 

He just couldn’t seem to muster up any viable solution so Mimi (grandma) abruptly retrieved a long-handled broom and asked him if this could help.  He looked at the broom and then the stuffed animal in the tree and said, “Maybe.”  Having no other ideas coming from our grandson, grandma began to whack the tree in order to loosen the lodged friend.  He found the exercise funny and began to laugh as the stuffed toy now hung by one arm. Eventually “Nigel” fell to the ground and was quickly grabbed by his owner.

 

I just know we’ll have something “stuck up in a tree” today and it will take a solution. Or, we could just cry about it.  Why is it that we tend to have an emotional response first? Our initial response is truly up to us, be it tears, anger or silence, but in the end, like my grandson, we’ll need a solution.





Eight Huge Benefits of Becoming Debt Free

26 11 2018

My wife and I have been practicing debt-free living for years now.*  I say practicing because it takes discipline to reach and discipline to maintain.  So here are eight encouragements or benefits that we have discovered when it comes to debt-free living.

1. Freedom: My wife and I feel so free – free to give, free to purchase and free to save for the future.  We have more money to do these things rather than being enslaved to and feeling the pressure of our debt.

2. Ownership: Owning your car or your house is an amazing feeling that continues the feeling of freedom.  You will have less stress in your life.  Who doesn’t desire less stress?

3. Agreement: You will have and discover a greater sense of agreement in your marriage and your family.  If you’ve agreed to become debt free and you reach that goal, what else can you agree about and reach?

4. Children: Your children will see you more often. You will not feel required to sign up for all the overtime you possibly can.  And besides, you’ll be an amazing financial example to your kids, your family, your friends and your neighbors.  If you can do it, you’ll be helping them to believe they can too.

5. Opportunity: Becoming debt free automatically provides better opportunities to give more money away, to help someone in need.  Rather than feeling that feeling of tightness, you will be looking for and watching for investment opportunity to increase your finances and have the cash to do so.

6. Security: You will be and feel far more secure. Debt increases the feelings of insecurity and rightly so.  You may be one last paycheck from disaster with an ongoing debt load.  While being debt free there is far less fear of financial disaster and crisis.

7. Servant: The Scriptures tell us that the borrower is a servant to the lender. Whose servant are you?  To be debt free is to not be encumbered by enslavement to another. You are literally no longer enslaved to your job or the next unexpected car repair or house repair bill.

8. Savings: You will grow a savings account and an emergency fund faster.  Your retirement savings fund will grow faster.  Your college fund for your children can grow faster.  Every savings fund can realize increase when you are no longer borrowing and having to pay back another co-owner with interest.

And if all that’s not enough to convince you, how about this?  You will have less arguments over money in your life.  If married, you and your spouse will enjoy less financial disagreement and more financial agreement.  You’ll have more resources for eating out along with short and long-term vacations or mission trips. Living debt free loosens what has been wound tight for so long.  Purpose in your heart today and begin taking steps to become debt free.  You’ll never regret it.

*A point of clarity concerning living debt-free is investment for growth. Some consider investments that grow in value, like real estate, to not be debt.  I would consider it debt with the opportunity for growth/gain in value or perhaps “good debt.”





Celebrating a Week of Thanksgiving

19 11 2018

This is the week that America sets aside as a time of giving thanks.  Why is that?  Two past presidents of the United States made very specific declarations.

The National Thanksgiving Proclamation was the first formal proclamation of Thanksgiving in the United States. President George Washington declared Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.

And then President Lincoln proclaimed in 1863 during the American Civil War, a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

What a wonderful heritage we enjoy from these important proclamations of honoring our Creator through a spirit of thanksgiving.

However much earlier, Paul the Apostle wrote in I Thessalonians we are to…”give thanks in all circumstances.”  He knew that giving thanks was a form of joyfulness.  That giving thanks actually lifts our spirits and that giving thanks connects us to God.  He knew that a spirit of thankfulness is healthy for our minds, our physical health and our emotional health.  I believe he also knew that thankfulness and gratitude help us in our relationship with God and others.  How so?

Someone once said when we lose our thankfulness toward God, we begin to focus on what we feel God has not done and ultimately miss what He is doing.  Could that also be true of our earthly relationships? When we stop being thankful for those around us, we could begin to focus on how they have disappointed us or how they frustrate us. 

A spirit of thankfulness is contagious.  What are you thankful for today and how can each of us maintain a spirit of giving thanks in all things as a lifestyle?  Let me begin with saying I am thankful for those of you who take the time to read my blog!





Dead Relationships Verses Living Relationships

12 11 2018

How much energy do you spend thinking about or trying to correct dead relationships?  Perhaps you have a failed relationship from the past, a really bad break-up or even a divorce.  In so many of these cases there is simply not a way to relieve the guilt or the false guilt one may feel.  We can find ourselves playing mental gymnastics in order to somehow convince ourselves it will possibly one day work out.

 

Perhaps the very thing we need to do is to stop misplacing time and thought into a former relationship that is not to be resurrected and place that energy appropriately into my present relationship.  To work toward building a stronger foundation and a deeper connection to my friend or my spouse rather than wasting time wishing that some past relationship would have worked out differently cannot only be productive, but rewarding as well.

 

Begin by praying about how you can better care for your friend.  Put energy and thought into how to better love the person you are married to. Try daydreaming and fantasizing about your wife or your husband.  To allow past, dead relationships your precious time just might be robbing, stealing in fact, from your present friendship or marriage relationship.  And that might be considered cheating.








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