Marriage, Postmarital

10 Words of Wisdom Young Married Couples Desire to Pass on to You

images-17My wife and I enjoy an annual retreat weekend with several young couples. One of the questions we ask is, “What wisdom would you desire to pass on to other young married couples?” Earlier this year, I recorded what they had to say in reply to that question and thought their responses were worth passing on. In their words:

1. Apologize quickly and do not withhold forgiveness.

2. Do not avoid conflict or confrontation, as doing so will develop bad habits.

3. Have less “outside” responsibilities and nights away from one another.

4. Assume the best about your spouse rather than assuming ulterior motives.

5. Involvement in a local church does not necessarily guarantee spiritual closeness. In other words, doing church things does not replace your spiritual lives as individuals and as a couple.

6. You married a human with a fallen sin nature. No one is perfect, especially you.

7. Pray with and for one another more. Praying your heart out to God on the behalf of one another keeps you from being so self-centered.images-22

8. When you are angry, watch your tongue.

9. Establish good relationships with parents on both sides. To make an effort shows respect for your spouse.

10. Sex does not make up for (fill in the blank). The issue will still be there after intimacy. Deal with it.

There you have it, current wisdom from 2015. Take it and pass it on.


Encouragement, Leadership, Mission Report

Leaders Need Encouragement Too

imagesIn a recent conversation, someone reminded me that leaders need a regular dose of encouragement. Leaders tirelessly work toward maturity in the lives of others. Leaders lead in such a way that they continually put themselves out front, knowing they will take some personal “hits”. Leaders naturally think toward growth of their organization, their ministry, their staff and their own personal lives. True God-given leadership never stops desiring to effect change and make a better tomorrow. And, when these natural desires are not met, leaders can become discouraged.

Many years ago my wife and I assembled a youth mission team together. It was our first effort to do such a project and we had 14 very excited and rambunctious volunteers. We spent months preparing for our outreach, speaking into their lives and praying with them. The team did great and completed their mission beyond our expectations. Recently my wife and I were thinking about those 14 names and we asked ourselves, “Where are they today?” Below, see the answers to that question to the best of our present knowledge.images-4

Team member:

#1. Continues with various short-term mission teams; conducted a small engine repair clinic in Uganda; married a nurse with a mission’s heart

#2. Various other mission teams; serves with a human trafficking organization; went to law school

#3. Various other mission teams; serves an orphanage in Mombasa, Kenya now in co-mission with her husband

#4. Completed Bible school, married and became a fulltime missionary to the Middle East

#5. Serving God by serving youth in a mental health facility

#6. Went to Bible school and is now a fulltime missionary to Germany working in human trafficking

#7. A fulltime YWAM missionary for several years and now a DOVE International pastor’s wife

#8. Completed her social work degree and now a missionary in South Africa youth prisons

#9. Leading a church planting effort to Germany

#10. Various mission teams; a medical doctor (surgeon) today working with medical missions

#11. Away from God?

#12. Away from God? Unknown whereabouts.

#13. Went to college; married; a mother of two children

#14. Incarcerated for murder; has returned to God and lives for Him daily in prison soon to be paroled

images-6There you have the outcome of one youth mission team who are now adults. Obviously, a lot more has happened in their lives than just that first team, but when we as leaders do not stop and think about the results of sowing into the lives of others we can become discouraged. Take the time to consider what your heavenly Father has done through you as His obedient leader. You just might encourage yourself.

Marriage, Postmarital

6 Ways You Might be Intimate with Another’s Spouse

images-11Where does inappropriate intimacy begin with someone who is not your spouse? What are your intentions concerning persons that you may find attractive, inviting or feel an emotional connection with? There are any number of opportunities out there to be unfaithful to your Lord, your spouse and yourself through wrongly intentioned relational connections. Here are six areas to be aware of:

1.Phone calls and text messages. How much time do you spend on the phone with this opposite sex (friend) and how intimate is your conversation? Is your spouse aware of these conversations? Are you open with your spouse about these calls/texts and the content of them if they are necessary? Have you ever crossed a line or desired to cross a line in any of these conversations?

2. One-on-one, private and face-to-face conversations. Do you attempt to manipulate your schedule to connect with someone of the opposite sex that you desire to be around or find yourself attracted to? Do one-on-one conversations excite you, increase your heart rate or increase your thoughts about this person?images-14

3. Spiritually intimate connections. Are you looking for ways in which you can connect spiritually with this person? Do you find yourself desiring to pray with them more  than your spouse? If you have occasion to pray with this person, how intimate are those times of prayer. In other words, are you praying about things that you should not even be discussing with one another?

4. Fantasizing about this person. Are you thinking about this person to the point of fantasizing about time with them or an ongoing relationship with them? Do you have dreams about this person? Are you allowing your mind to take you to inappropriate places with this person?

5. Do you dress in the morning considering the possibility of a connection with this person? If you are dressing with this person in mind, once again, you have crossed a line and your motives are suspect. You are actually fantasizing about how you can be an attractant to wrong desires.images-12

6. Social media “stalking.”  Are you closely following the social media presence of someone, watching for pictures or information that you can use for conversation?  Accessing someone’s social media sites in order to discover more information for your own arsenal of personal details is stalking.

Why do you want to attract this person to yourself? What is the need in your life that is crying out for help through broken and inappropriate connections? What is missing in your relationship with Jesus that keeps you longing after an inappropriate connection? What is missing in your marriage that pushes you toward openness with someone other than your spouse? Please consider the following Scriptures: Proverbs 4: 20-27; 5: 15 – 23; and 6: 20 – 29.

Encouragement, Leadership, NASCAR

The Need for Speed

images-2NASCAR racing is fast and getting faster.  These cars can cover one full mile of oval track with four turns in 24 seconds!  Being up close and up front is exhilarating when feeling the rush of air currents created, smelling the burning fuel and having to wear ear plugs from the “straight through” exhaust noise.  Eight hundred plus horsepower in the engines times 43 cars sends out a vibration of sheer excitement.  These hyper motor cars are moving faster by you than the human eye can concentrate on any one colorful, decal-filled machine.  The driver concentration must be beyond something that most of us can’t even identify with.  And to continually cover this one mile oval for 400 plus laps, maintaining the speeds needed, holding onto a car that won’t turn, but slides at times, being inches or less from the cars around you…well, that’s just a superhuman feat.  Who says these drivers are not athletes?  You better be in the best of physical and mental shape to handle the resistance in the steering wheel, oppressive heat (most times well over 100 degrees) in the cockpit, the possibility of a crash at any moment, all the while, communicating on the radio with your crew chief and listening to your “spotter” (the person informing you where everyone else is on the track).

Life seems to be moving faster and faster these days.  Sometimes it’s a rush of excitement and sometimes it’s about protecting yourself from crashing and burning.  It seems to take more concentration today to keep our eyes on the mark and to not become distracted by how quickly our world is changing.  At times there is oppressive heat, noise and resistance as we walk out our faith.  We have so many negative voices yelling at us while we are really trying to hear our Spotter (the Holy Spirit) telling us which way to turn and what areas to avoid.  It takes single-mindedness to stay on the track and in the race.  We need to work on our spiritual conditioning on a daily basis and not fall behind.  No matter how hot it gets or pressure-filled, keeping our eyes on the prize, we will run the race to win and receive that final reward.images