Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Training, Women

Couples, Financial Differences and Discovering Why We Differ and Argue

It is said that the number one and most frequent argument in marriage is about money. My wife and I struggled early on with our differences when it came to the use, the saving and the spending of our finances. But, after eight years of mission work we discovered that we could fight and argue about money or pray and agree for our needs. Both methods are powerful. 

However, it took us even longer to get to the root of our differences. It is in this vein that I would like to share how those differences are important, can be valued and embraced to make better financial decisions along the path of finding financial agreement. 

See if you see yourselves in any of the points made below.

  • Financial differences are about differing expectations (good and not so good) and our insecurities around money. Does money provide security to us and in what ways? Are our expectations and the use of money different than our spouses? Work toward making those differences a plus and not a negative. We need to ask ourselves how do our financial differences strengthen us as a team? For example, my wife was more of a giver than a spender. We needed to ask ourselves how giving helps our overall financial picture.
  • Differing values – one wants to save and one wants to purchase.When is just saving negative? When is just purchasing negative? Saving for savings sake loses its focused goal of saving for a car or a house down payment. When we agree to save toward a goal, we find unity in that decision even with differing financial values. Purchasing simply for spending can be habitual or even addictive with huge losses realized down the road.
  • False beliefs must be confronted. For example: “If you possess a lot of money, you do not argue about money.” Is it money itself or is it differing beliefs about money that we’re arguing about?
  • “Spenders” are also investing, not just “savers.” They are often investing in family fun, the marriage, their children, or toward vacation. Imagine a vacationless, not-so-fun family. And, as mentioned above, sometimes spenders are really givers. They love to bless others with gifts because it’s a part of their love language.
  • Learn to value choices with money that moves your heart in giving, in sowing, in investing. Allow your partner to invest in what moves them and, at the same time, takes finances.
  • Work toward honoring what the other person cares about. Give one another an allocation to spend, give, save and invest toward their thing, their passion. It’s why you agree on an amount and an allowance for each other. This is not without accountability, but allows for far more freedom for each partner.
  • When you have a financial difference, be sure to enact James 4:1-3, pray and ask God in sincerity together!

As you grow through the financial differences, honor one another, and come into agreement by embracing what your marriage partner brings to the table, the arguments will decrease and you will discover more and more agreement in how you save and what you purchase. Further, the older you become, the less you need and the more focused you will be on giving to others!

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Leadership, Training

Seven Key Leadership Lessons Learned

Early in our marriage, my wife and I served as missionaries for eight years. Looking back, here are a few lessons we learned that may also be applicable to your life today.

1. Calling vs. a ministry or a job. When God calls us to something, we

do not leave when it gets tough. Hirelings leave when the road becomes

too rocky for their comfort, but “called-out” ones do not leave until that

same Voice that called them speaks again in order to move them on to the new. (Isaiah 50:4)

2. Faith is at the core of all you do and think. Without faith it is impossible to please God or anyone else for that matter. Faith makes a way for your

leadership. Your faith will be tested. (James 1: 2, 3)

3. Critics will always be present if it’s a true calling. Your critics will assure

you that you are on the right path. They will come from outside you and

from within. You must listen to them, consider their words, pray and move

on about the Father’s business. Critics will come from the community when

you are attempting to do something for God in your community. Critics will

force you to hear God and refine the vision. (Luke 6: 9)

4. Never stop looking forward. If you keep looking back, focusing on your

mistakes you will inhibit your gain. Never stop imagining, dreaming and

praying toward that end. Do not lose your thankfulness or you will begin to

focus on what you feel God is not doing rather than what He is doing. (Isaiah

43: 18, 19)

5. Your insecurities will surface under pressure. When the pressure is on

your insecurities, your immaturities and your self-preservation will surface.

Recognize this fact, face them and ask the Lord to heal, restore and rebuild

you from the inside out. Pressure produces good things if we allow it to.

Pressure is not wrong; it’s how we deal with the pressure and what we tell

ourselves about the pressure. (Mark 8: 34, 35)

6. Trust is greater than understanding. You will not understand all that

happens in leadership and you do not need to, but you will need to trust your

Father in the process. Trust in God and knowing that He knows everything

that is going on is essential. He makes no mistakes and He is totally aware of

all you are experiencing and feeling. (Proverbs 3: 3-6)

7. Relationship testing will always be present. Often it is not who you are

serving, but rather who you are co-laboring with. Healthy relationships are

a key to any work to succeed. Those relationships will be tested, put through

the fire and some, no matter your effort, will be lost. It is those lost

relationships that hurt and wound the most. (II Peter 1: 5-9)

There you have it, seven keys. Which one or ones are you presently working on in your leadership call?

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Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles, Women

 Marrying Young and the Surprising Changes in the Beliefs and Boundaries of Marriage Today

In my many years of studying, researching, writing, interviewing and counseling in the pre- and postmarital realm, I had little hope I would see secular research come to agree with so many of my findings and beliefs. But the proof just keeps showing up in article after article.

My belief, without waver, is that premarital experiences directly relate to our marriages and that pre-marriage sexual experiences harm the marital experiences of life as a married couple. In the recent past the typical sequence to marriage went something like this: dating, sex, cohabitation, maybe children and then marriage.

Sex and cohabitation before marriage

Psychologist Galena Rhoades PhD and Scott Stanley in an online article titled Before “I Do,” What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults, now questions this contemporary view of how family life begins in our society. She believes that every serious relationship has certain milestones, like the first kiss to actually coming to a definition of where the relationship is going. She unequivocally states that about 90% of couples are sexual before marriage according to one study (Diner, 2007). She also states that most couples live together before marriage (Copen, Daniels, and Mosher, 2013).

But then she writes this, “Many of them have sex with multiple partners before finding the person they will eventually marry. Do premarital sexual relationships relate to later marital quality? Yes and no. It depends on who you are having sex with. Men and women who only slept with their (future) spouse prior to marriage reported higher marital quality than those who had other sexual partners as well. This doesn’t mean that sex before marriage will doom a marriage, but sex with many different partners may be risky if you’re looking for a high-quality marriage.” 

Dr. Rhoades makes this eye-opening conclusion, “We generally think that having more experience is better [in life] but what we find for relationships is just the opposite.”

Multiple experiences with multiple partners sexually is now actually linked to marriages that are worse off and that having a long history with cohabitating may actually cause you to devalue your spouse. 

Marrying young

Brad Wilcox, a director of the National Marriage Project and Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia wrote an article on how marrying young (by young I mean early 20’s) and without cohabitating “seems merited.” He wrote, “Our analyses indicate that religious men and women who married in their twenties without cohabitating first–have the lowest odds of divorce in America today.” Read that last sentence again, please.

What is it that the author of this study suspected as to why the success rate? “We suspect one advantage the religious singles in their twenties have over the secular peers is that they are more likely to have access to a pool of men and women who are ready to tie the knot and share their vision of a family-focused life.”

It has been believed and practiced for decades that a college education with a lot of dating, partying, fun, one-night stands and living together and then finally career all came first before settling down with a commitment to marriage. The statistic of living together (70%) before marriage is scary high. But Professor Wilcox wrote this, “But the conventional wisdom here is wrong: Americans who cohabit before marriage are less likely to be happily married and more likely to break up.” In fact, he says that couples who do cohabitate have a 15% more likely chance of divorce than those who do not.

Milestones in dating and pre-marriage days in a couple’s life means something because decisions mean something. We can remember when our spouse first spoke the words, “I love you.” We can recall where we were when we became engaged. We either loved or endured premarital counseling, but it was another milestone, a decision we made for us and our success in marriage. 

Forty-Seven years of marriage 

Over 47 years ago my wife and I abstained sexually out of total love, commitment and respect for one another–keeping for marriage what belongs only to marriage. We did not cohabitate because we knew this one act reduces the chances of a healthy lifelong marriage. We had a large wedding because we wanted others to celebrate with us, hold us accountable and enter into our joy of oneness. We went on a two-week honeymoon dropping out of life as we knew it to simply work on becoming one. We did not know one another intimately (sexually) prior to marriage, but we discovered the joy of purity meeting purity night after night.

It was not a college education, financial security, sexual experiences or age that helped to create these milestones, it was love for God and a desire to obey His truth. We were married in our early twenties and we continue to celebrate milestones in our marriage. We look forward to celebrating the milestone of half a century of marriage in the not-too-distant future.

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Challenge, Children, Issues of the Day, Parents, Training

Rebellion in Our Hearts

Rebellion in our hearts or in the heart of a young person is never attractive. It is born out of resistance. And while there may be good causes for acts of resistance, a rebellious heart is often closed to change, closed to reason and closed to correction. (See Proverbs 13:1, 18; 15:10.) 

Rebellion has a main ingredient that travels with it: pride. A pride-filled heart will lead us into rebellion, because at its core it is the act of defending ourselves, our thoughts and our actions, be they right or wrong.

Having been a rebellious teenager and having a rebellious teenager does not make one an expert, but it does afford certain observations. (See Proverbs 17:25.) If we are astute enough to recognize our own heart or the heart of a child, rebellion can be addressed. 

Consider these four causes of rebellion:

  1. When rules and regulations are strictly enforced through a spirit of legalism, often rebellion is an end result. Love is absent in these types of relationships or at the least, not spoken and/or not felt.
  2. Rebellion can be an attempt to separate through resistance from family members like parents, siblings or bosses.
  3. When one engages and relates with other rebellious persons, the influence will be difficult to overcome. It will force an alignment with the group’s rebellious words and actions.
  4. Wanting all authority to lead one’s own life without the ability to take on all responsibility will foster rebellion. Often teenagers desire all authority to make their own decisions but since they cannot take all responsibility, that authority cannot and should not be fully given.

Since Genesis chapter three, rebellion is found in the human heart and detected even at very early ages. It was mankind’s desire to do it his way. We were created to live in the perfection of a Genesis one and two world by God, but when we chose to rebel we found ourselves in a fallen, Genesis three, sin-filled world.

It was God’s heart to place mankind in a perfect garden, a perfect world with perfect relationship and by Genesis chapter three, God giving us choice, we chose to disobey. That disobedience caused a separation from our Creator and now thousands of years later we still suffer the consequences of wanting our own way, outside of God’s way. (See Proverbs 21:30.)

If we are rebelling against God or His written word, we are emphatically saying our way is a better way or, we think we know better than God knows. Those thoughts reek of pride. (See Proverbs 18:12.) We are saying to God, “I want all authority over my life.” And here is the strange thing about that: God will let you have it. There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

And you will be one miserable human being, quickly coming to the end of yourself. That’s the thing about rebellion: it is building a wall of separation, a wall that closes oneself off to input and a wall that stunts personal growth. It’s your wall, you’re in charge of it and you’re in control. It’s dangerous and it will become disastrous. (See Proverbs 16:25.)

If we sense any rebellion in our heart, we need to give up. Surrender. Leave selfish desires. Leave selfish ambitions and give our thoughts and actions to God, asking Him to shape our heart toward His. 

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun

We’re Five Days Closer to Christmas

The gifts are unwrapped, the cookies are fewer, the surprises and anticipations of Christmas are now behind us. A New Year is just around the corner and we are five days closer to Christmas 2023!

Christmas is a temporal celebration, but the love story found within it is an eternal one. We are forced to consider that our earthly existence is brief compared to eternity. So let’s live that way in 2023. Give the King born in a manger the gift of your life to carry out His will and His mission on the earth. 

What are your hopes and dreams for a brand-new year, two thousand and twenty three? Every day is a gift; every breath is an opportunity. 

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun, Parents

Merry Christmas: Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Santa Claus?

The story of Santa Claus goes back to the 3rd century. A patron saint, a monk named Saint Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, modern day Turkey. He was known as the protector of children. The name we use today, Santa Claus, was derived from the Dutch nickname of Sinter Klaas.

In 1881 artist Thomas Nast, drew what we recognize as our modern-day Santa: a plump, cheery and white bearded man. It was Nast who provided Santa’s bright red suit and North Pole workshop with elves and a wife, Mrs. Claus. Prior to this image, he was often depicted as a gaunt or scary-looking man.

In the 1890’s the Salvation Army began to use this image by dressing their donation collectors in Santa Claus suits. But where this image received a huge boost was from none other than Coca Cola.

Santa has been featured in Coke ads since the 1920’s and the image used was close to Nast’s original art work. From 1931 to 1964 Coca-Cola ads showed Santa delivering toys, reading his scroll-styled lists and always enjoying a Coke.

While Santa Claus and his imagery are fun for children around the world, it was a very real Catholic monk who was said to spend all his money on rescuing young persons from slavery or prostitution. He gave away his inherited wealth to help the poor and the sick. It is that St. Nick that sounds the most like the Christ, the first six letters of the word Christmas.

May we all display the true meaning and character of this Christ by serving others, giving gifts of meaning and remembering the needy around the world. Let’s celebrate Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas!

A  special Christmas song for you.

And, a special video for your children and grandchildren to enjoy!

(Note: Much of the history above is taken from History.com)

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Issues of the Day

Two Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a Christmas carol, Drummer Boy.

Drummer boys. Were they there playing a drum solo for Mary and the baby that night? Doubtful, but drums are still my favorite instrument and I’d love to have played for Him.

A new born King to see

Pa rum pum pum pum, 

Our finest gifts we bring…

What gifts do you bring? Gold prices are up; that’s a great gift. Diamonds are still pretty meaningful and pricey. 

But those are not the gifts He’s looking for. He was sent to earth to dwell in you. Bring Him your best gift: you.

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Issues of the Day

Three Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a Christmas carol.

He was there, creating. The first book of the Bible, the first chapter reveals, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” 

Imagine then a seed would fall from heaven and be planted in a young teenage girl’s womb not yet given in marriage–an incarnate One. 

Imagine the One who made the mountains and the oceans, the sky and the multiple variations of life on the earth would come and dwell on that earth in human form.

Imagine this One as a child growing up like you and me, learning a trade from his earthly father. 

Imagine the bewilderment of those around Him marveling at His intellect and uncanny wisdom. 

Imagine His baptism and those affirming words spoken from heaven before His ministry would begin, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am pleased.” 

Imagine this One healing the leper or the blind man who then went leaping with joy.

Imagine His deep anguish in the garden, His stripes received on the whipping post, His body thrown on a splinter-filled wooden cross with His flesh torn to the bone. 

Imagine the joy of His resurrection!

Imagine that, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Colossians 2: 10, 11)

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Children, Encouragement, History, Just for fun

Four Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a special Christmas song for you.

“A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” It was a Holy Night just as Isaiah the prophet prophesied 900 years earlier: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7)

There is no peace greater than the peace of Christ in the heart of man. There is no greater government, no other Son given, no better counselor and certainly nothing close to everlasting life without Him.

He is The Prince of Peace for every need you face this Christmas. Call on His Name. Nothing and no one comes close to His love, His acceptance, His approval and His security.

O Holy Night

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Uncategorized

Five Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Savior came to earth wrapped in a swaddling cloth and placed in an animal feeding trough. This Jesus would usher in the New Covenant, a new relationship between God and man. During His earthly stay, He would declare the love of God, His Father, to the world, heal the sick, cast out demonic presence, turn tables upside down, speak of His home in heaven and confront the religious spirits of His day. 

All over the world Christians will gather and celebrate this historical fact. And the one thing His presence always brings is unity, no matter the ethnic or cultural background. His plan would bring hope to all the world, every nation and every people group. For there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female as we are all one in Christ. (Galatians 3:28) 

For the first time in all of history, salvation would come to everyone! 

This is Christmas; this is the greatest hope and the greatest story for all the world! 

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