Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How should the church support marriages?

To support the growth of healthy relationships, our churches must inform couples how to effectively communicate.  It sounds simple, but basic communication is essential for working through conflict and building intimacy.  In the last thirty years, we have learned most divorces stem from problems in poor communication not the result of infidelity, abuse, or addiction.  Dr. Terry Hargrave, of Fuller Seminary, emphatically believes “The Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, resentment, and stonewalling)” will destroy your marriage. He argues these four negative communication patterns are the early predictors for divorce.  Therefore, churches must teach couples to identify and address these negative patterns before they begin to wreck our relationships.
Before couples walk down the aisle, the local church should be the first people to encourage them to engage in premarital counseling.  Research continues to show solid premarital counseling programs can lower a couple’s divorce rate by 30 percent. This counseling is designed to set couples up for success, not break them apart.  Far too often young couples avoid discussing the “Big Six.” The book Wonderful Marriage emphasizes the need for couples to see eye to eye on religion, money, sex, children, recreation, and acceptable behavior if they hope to engage healthy relationships.  ”Without full agreement on each of these issues in a way that makes both of you happy, your marriage will not be built on solid foundation.”[1]
Couples must learn how to negotiate minor problems before more destructive problems and behaviors begin to form.  As a church family, we must remind couples the importance of romance in a relationship.  Dating is not just for young couples; it is for everyone looking to sustain meaningful relationships.  Encourage couples to turn off the television, put down the iPhone and emotionally connect with one another.  Gary Neuman reminds his readers, the number one emotional issue for women is “not having enough time with their husbands, but feeling underappreciated followed closely behind.”[2] We must educate our friends, family members, and neighbors about the reality of conflict in every marriage, even happy couples fight, and offer constructive ways to deepen intimacy.

[1] Leeds, Real, and Seliger. Wonderful Marriage. 2008. P.59
[2] Neuman, N. Gary. Connect to Love. 2011. P. 36

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What is Sin?

Here are the 25 most common nouns in the English Language:

  1. time
  2. person
  3. year
  4. way
  5. day
  6. thing
  7. man
  8. world
  9. life
  10. hand
  11. part
  12. child
  13. eye
  14. woman
  15. place
  16. work
  17. week
  18. case
  19. point
  20. government
  21. company
  22. number
  23. group
  24. problem
  25. fact
The noun Sin is not found on this list, despite the fact Christians use this word in church every Sunday.  Next time you use the word Sin, make sure you can provide a simple definition.

For example:

Sin:  All of the little things we do replace our relationship with God.

Friday, June 12, 2015

That's not my problem

That’s not my problem.  These were the words that kept ringing through the mouse’s ears.  Early that morning, he was scurrying around the farmer’s house looking for scraps of food that might have fallen on the floor.  That’s when he stumbled upon it… a mousetrap.  His parent’s had warned him about traps, but he had never seen one.  In that moment, he realized the farmer and his wife were trying to kill him.  Why would they want to kill him?
He ran to the barn as fast as his little legs could carry him.  He burst inside and started yelling, "There is a mouse trap in the house! There is a mouse trap in the house!"  He ran to tell his friend the chicken.  “Chicken, there is a mouse trap in the farmer’s house.  They’re trying to kill me.”
The chicken thought for a moment, “Mouse, your problems don’t concern me.  It’s a mouse trap, not a chicken trap.”
The mouse frantically ran to the food trough looking for the pig.  He was out of breath when he found the pig.  Finally he collected himself, “I saw it! I saw it! There is a mouse trap in the house."
"I am very sorry Mouse," said the pig, "but can’t you tell I am in the middle of eating.  If it makes you feel better, I’ll pray about it.”  The mouse couldn’t believe his ears.  Pig didn’t even care that the farmer wanted to kill him.
The mouse thought long and hard, surely his friend the cow would help him.  He ran to the pasture looking for his confidant.  He finally found the cow grazing among the herd.  “Cow…Cow please help me.  The farmer placed a trap in the house.  He wants to kill me.”  The Cow looked at his friend for several minutes. “Mouse you are one of my best friends, but I have enough problems of my own.  I don’t have enough time in the day to help you.”
So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer's mousetrap alone. That very night the sound of the mousetrap awoke the farmer and his wife. The farmer's wife rushed to see what she caught. In the darkness, she could not see poisonous copperhead snake whose tail had been caught in the trap. Before she could react, the snake struck the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed his wife to bed and ran to the doctor’s house. The doctor suggested treated the wife’s fever with fresh chicken soup.  So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard to fetch the soup's main ingredient.  Unfortunately, the wife's condition worsened so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well, in fact, she died, the whole town came to pay their respects after the funeral.  To feed all of these people, the farmer was forced to slaughter his prized cow to feed all of the people. So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think it does not concern you, remember when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

A Polish Proverb says, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

10 Signs you are a parent.

Here are 10 signs your life has changed since you become a parent.

10.  You brag about getting a great deal on your minivan.
9.  You are reading online reviews about cartoons.
8.  You start complaining about those young kids who are driving too fast.
7.  You become stressed out when you can't find that special toy your child wants.
6.  You start complaining about the children's section at your local library.
5.  During a job interview, you are more concerned about the school system than salary.  
4.  Your social life becomes dictated by your sixteen year old babysitter.
3.  You spends hours trying to get the best deal on a Disney World vacation.  
2.  When you get ready for bed, your single friends are getting ready for a night on the town.
1.  You take a hit on your inhaler, while you friend is taking a hit on his bong.  

My point:  Me and some of the other Mom's are going to hang out this morning if you want to join us.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Food for thought

It’s amazing how much of our life is dictated by food.  Whenever we go out for breakfast in New Orleans… we discuss where we want to go for lunch. At lunch we discuss where we want to go for dinner.  At the end of the evening, we always say, “Ooooh I ate way too much. Why did we order desert?”

The borgenproject.org which is working to end world hunger, says we make 200 decisions regarding food everyday.”  But do we always have control over what we eat?  For most of us, the answer is yes.  Sometimes we run out of ketchup or someone eats the last chip you want, but most of us will never have to deal with malnutrition. 

This same project tells us the world is filled with approximately 1 billion people who not have enough food on a daily basis.  These people may not be starving, but they do not have equal assess to food.  The number to support the infrastructure to stop world hunger is $30 billion a year. 

In the world, there are approximately 3 billion between the age of 25 and 45 years old.  If each one of these people donated just $10 a year we could eradicate world hunger.  What if only half could donate?  Your number would be $20 is that too much to solve World Hunger?  Maybe the rest of the world does not have this type of disposable income.  What is the number for Americans over the age of 18?  It would cost $125 dollars a year.  This $125 could be your fish and loaves.  What is your number?  How much would you be willing to donate on a yearly basis to eradicate world hunger?  Yes, I am making this seem so easy but Jesus took his Disciples and together they fed thousands with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread.  Think about how powerful we could be if we joined our resources. 

Matthew 15:32-39

32 Jesus called his followers to him and said, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have already been with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry. They might faint while going home.”
33 His followers asked him, “How can we get enough bread to feed all these people? We are far away from any town.”
34 Jesus asked, “How many loaves of bread do you have?”
They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.”
35 Jesus told the people to sit on the ground. 36 He took the seven loaves of bread and the fish and gave thanks to God. Then he divided the food and gave it to his followers, and they gave it to the people. 37 All the people ate and were satisfied. Then his followers filled seven baskets with the leftover pieces of food. 38 There were about four thousand men there who ate, besides women and children. 39 After sending the people home, Jesus got into the boat and went to the area of Magadan.”

On this day, no one in the crowd no one asked if the fish were farm raised or caught in the wild.  No complained about the lack of gluten free bread.  These people were hungry and were so thankful Jesus and the disciples were there to take care of them.

What is Jesus telling us about the Kingdom in this passage?  Jesus is taking care of the outcasts, the downtrodden, the misfits…and they don’t even have to work for it!” These people are like a pack of wild dogs who will do anything to get what Jesus has. In a way Jesus is enabling the poor and weak. “How dare he just freely give this stuff away!” “Who does he think he is after all?” The disciples, ask Jesus to send these people home so they can get a good night’s rest and food to eat but Jesus wants them to stay and then expects the disciples to figure out a way to feed them. “You feed them,” Jesus says. Jesus not only enables the poor but also uses a poor boy’s food to do it!

Jesus is inviting us to be a part of this miracle.  Will you accept the invitation?