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, 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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Healing, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Parents, Women

Is There a Place for Pornography in Marriage?

Pornography played a major role in Jon’s downfall, the husband of a couple that we had counseled with. For many, it is a silent killer. It’s a killer of intimacy, of honesty, of time, of finances, and of our own bodies. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34).

Our eyes provide a window to our mind, our heart, and our spirit. When our eyes wander toward or are attracted to pornographic images, we give darkness permission to enter the light. Jesus warned us about this very thing when He said, “See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness” (Luke 11:35). 

There is no redeeming factor when it comes to pornography. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry in our nation built on lust. Lust is insatiable, and Satan will hand it to us freely. Lust is about taking and is fully self-seeking. Lust will increase as we feed it until we find ourselves in bondage. But love is satisfying, focused on giving, and full of selflessness. As love increases, we will find ourselves walking in freedom and becoming closer to our life mate. 

In our pre- and postmarital book, Called Together, we ask the question, “Can you be involved in lust toward your spouse?” That question creates quite a stir and challenges couples not yet married. A single person may think that marriage means the end of lusting after another, but married couples know that simply is not true. According to the above definition of lust, we can be involved in lust within our marriages by demanding, taking, and sexual selfishness. Pornography will feed that self-centered attitude. 

Love feeds an attitude of giving, sharing, and bringing pleasure out of a heart and mind that is not tarnished by images of raw, base acts. Love is never demanding in the bedroom, as it speaks encouragement, affirmation, and genuine acceptance. 

                       Pornography: The Breakdown Within our marriages 

A nationally conducted survey among churches over the past five years revealed that 68 percent of men and 50 percent of pastors view pornography regularly. The most shocking was that 11- to 17-year-old boys reported being the greatest users at 85 percent, and nearly 50 percent of young girls are also viewing porn (see: fightthenewdrug. org). 

Pornography is a $4 billion industry in our country. More money is spent on pornography per year than on professional baseball, basketball, football, and the Super Bowl combined. Eleven thousand adult films are produced per year, which is 20 times the number of regular media films annually coming out of Hollywood. The issue is sweeping through the church, reaching the next generation. It is an epidemic. 

Studies show that when we are involved in sexual activity, the brain releases a number of chemicals, one of which is oxytocin, which is the “glue” that enables human bonding. (Oxytocin is also released as a mother holds and breastfeeds her newborn.) When we watch pornography, powerful neurotransmitters are activated. Our brain takes the images and associates this bonding chemical with them, actually interfering with natural human bonding and sexuality. 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do (1 Peter 1:13-15)

Viewing pornography opens the door of our soul and spirit to spiritual oppression, confusion, hopelessness, hurt, control, and domination in evil ways. Men and women feel betrayed by spouses who use porn. Women feel as though they cannot compete with the images their husbands are viewing. It is an illusion that says women will do anything to please their man; no woman in real life lives within that kind of fantasy world. It brings insecurities to her and can destroy her esteem. She will question her attractiveness and her adequacy as a lover. She can eventually think and believe that porn is more important to her husband than she is to him, an ultimate sexual betrayal. 

Men often view pornography as innocent, a fix for loneliness or not having a sexual partner who agrees with his desires. Men rationalize and justify their behavior by attempting to call it “normal behavior” of a man who is simply visual. The act of viewing pornography is highly addictive and some psychologists state that it is similar to crack cocaine addiction. Over time it does not diminish, but tends to intensify. It can interfere with a man’s ability to function at home with his family, at work, and, of course, in the bedroom. 

Many women are now viewing porn. Six of ten girls see their first pornography before age eighteen. This practice has become far more acceptable among teen girls. For some, they are attempting to find out what boys desire, and for others they are involving themselves out of loneliness. Little do they know that viewing pornography creates an even higher rate of loneliness among its users. 

Ladies and men, by viewing pornography you are supporting the industry and helping it to grow. You are contributing to the sexual exploitation of the victims caught in that world. You are adding to the sin of human trafficking. You are saying “yes” to an industry that feeds and preys on innocent men, women, and children and can even lead to their abduction, abuse, and death. You are learning to see and treat people as a sex object. You are destroying your marriage, your family, and yourself, and you are keeping victims trapped (which today includes more teenage girls and boys than ever). 

Lastly, pornography will make you into a liar. You will have to constantly lie about your use to your loved ones and perhaps your employer. I love these verses that Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord…. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:13,18). 

Taken from Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve and Mary Prokopchak

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History, In the news, Parents

A Tragic End to Flight 255

It was a tragic end to flight 255 taking off from Detroit to its destination, Phoenix, Arizona. The 154 passengers and crew members died as the plane attempted to become airborne. The pilots failed to follow their checklist in an effort to save time. Since they missed some steps, there was no way for them to know their electrical power to the takeoff system did not exist. Further, they failed to notice that the slats and flaps were not extended adequately. 

The plane struck a light pole, severing a good portion of its wing. The fuel stored in that wing caught fire. Then the other wing was ripped apart hitting a building. Finally, the plane slammed into an overpass of Interstate 94, exploding into a fireball and ending more lives on the ground. 

As the Detroit medical examiner was inspecting the scene of charred bodies, he heard a child’s voice. It was four-year-old Cecelia Cichan. Her mother had wrapped her arms and body around her child in a last-ditch effort to shield her from the crash that was about to occur. 

This final and heroic, albeit desperate, act of love saved a little girl from certain death by impact and by fire. 

Years later Cecelia is now a mother herself. She thanks God every day for life and for a mom who would wrap her arms of love around her in an effort to protect her. 

There is a Savior who wraps His arms around you, who took the pain of the cross, who went through the very flames of hell because He loves you. 

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Challenge, Children, In the news, Issues of the Day, Men, Parents, Women

A Goliath Has Fallen Friday, June 24, 2022

The Philistines had Goliath and the Israelites had David. Goliath, I Samuel 17 says, had a bronze helmet, a coat of arms, leg coverings, a bronze javelin on his back, a sword and an iron spear in his hand. He terrified the king of Israel, Saul. For forty days the Philistines taunted all of Israel.

Meanwhile back home, Jesse, David’s father, sends young David with some food for his warrior brothers. David tells king Saul that he will fight this giant. David then faces this towering man and says, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin…” David tells him that all he has are this world’s weaponry. And then David reveals to the giant Goliath and all of the Philistines what he has, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I’ll strike you down.” 

We now have behind us almost 50 years of the oppression of Roe vs. Wade. What happened? The U.S. Supreme Court took on the Dobbs vs. Jackson case from the state of Mississippi which would effectively end the constitutional right to abortion, the killing of a child in the womb of its mother. The Supreme Court made an error almost 50 years ago and it has now been corrected. 

Franklin Graham said, “This is one of the most significant rulings in my lifetime. It was egregiously wrong from the start.”

Samuel Rodrigues said, “The long, dark night officially comes to an end. The unconscionable injustice of extreme abortion policies is over.”

Dr. Ben Carson said, “Today the Supreme Court of the U.S. made a statement to the world that life matters.”

Dr. Alveda King expressed, “Roe is no more! We must see every human, born and pre-born, as created in the image…of God. As long as a baby can be killed in the womb there is no such thing as civil rights. Abortion is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question, the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule this decision and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

On January 22, 1988 then President Ronald Reagan spoke to the March for Life participants, “Our opponents tell us to not interfere with abortion. They tell us not to impose our morality on those who participate in the taking of the life of infants before birth. Yet no one calls it imposing morality to prohibit the taking of life after a child is born. We’re told about a woman’s right to control her own body. But doesn’t the unborn child have a higher right, and that is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

It is also Ronald Reagan who said, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

The evil one has had a long history of killing the firstborn of Israel. The spirit of abortion, that spirit of death, was activated a long time ago against mankind. Those who have fought for this day are cheering. But those who are fervently and violently bent on killing preborn children are going after the justices, church leaders, pro-life centers and anyone and anything else they can attack. 

Why would those who have been given life be so aggressively and brutally in opposition of mothers giving life to their children? Let’s consider another quote for the answer.

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” 

And even more deeply this same author said this in answer to the violence and result of abortion:

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign. It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” (Mother Teresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14) 

Now let us continue to support the pro-life centers near us, the confused mother who is carrying a child, the fostering and the adoption of these precious little ones. 

Thank you, Father, for the many who fought this good fight without ever giving up for the unborn. It was worth it. Just as freedom came to Israel because of David’s heroic actions, may freedom come to the unborn and those who carry them.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day, Parents, Singles

Those Words and Deconstruction

“Do you also want to leave?”

Those words spoken by Jesus and recorded in John six give me pause. Many of Jesus’ disciples were walking away, no longer desiring to be associated with Him. Jesus then looks at the twelve disciples and asks them this poignant question. 

Can you visualize yourself standing with Jesus, watching some of your friends, maybe relatives and neighbors who were walking closely with you just pick up their things, turn their backs and walk away? Now He’s looking straight at you waiting for an answer. He was, in fact, giving you a pass to walk away with them, no questions asked as you shift from foot to foot, nervously, waiting for others to respond.

Finally, Peter speaks up, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves.” 

Is that your final answer? Are you staying with Him? It’s going to be difficult. It won’t get any easier.

For those who are “deconstructing” their faith, examining their roots and finding it difficult to remain with Christ, He is waiting for your answer. Do you want to leave too? Will you walk away from the One who loves you, saved you and gave His life for you? 

There is no perfect church, pastor or godly parent. There is no perfect Christian leader, mentor or counselor. Not one of us has a perfect foundation. We will be disappointed by others who have spoken faith into our lives. But there is One that will never disappoint, never leave you and never sin against you: Jesus. 

It’s easy to criticize and deconstruct; it’s far more difficult to jump in and be a part of the solution–the construction crew. 

If walking away from faith is walking away from Him, then you’re going to have to dive deeply into self-trust, self-sufficiency and self-belief. 

But here’s the thing about that. Even you will disappoint you. There is no perfect you. I would encourage you to stop holding others up to perfection who were imperfect in your life. Give them the same grace you give yourself. 

The enemy of your soul is handing you deconstruction. Jesus is handing you life, words of real life, words of eternal life.

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like a winning crown, like rings on your fingers.

(Proverbs 1:8, 9)

The Message

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Children, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Parents, Women

Moms Day

Mothers–we all had one and most of us cherish our good memories. We know that for nine months she carried us in her womb anticipating our arrival. We know we were loved, accepted and approved of by her. We know she wasn’t perfect, but she was the perfect mom for us. We are better persons because of our moms.

Many had mothers who prayed earnestly and endlessly for their sons and daughters. They never stopped being a biological or a spiritual mom to us. They knew when to speak and when to remain silent. They knew how to make sacrifices for us to have a better life than they had. Moms know things that no one else knows or understands about each one of us and, gratefully, most moms can keep a secret. 

So, on this Mother’s Day weekend, let’s celebrate our mothers and think about the reasons why our moms are so important in our lives.

If it wasn’t for your mother, you would not exist.

Our moms often knew how to say the right words at the right time.

Moms seem to understand our feelings.

Only a mother can affectionately kiss and hold an angry child.

Our mothers made huge sacrifices for their children.

Forgiveness and acceptance without judgement are at the forefront of mothering.

Moms sense trouble sooner than most and then swoop in to protect.

Mothers remind us of the good and downplay so much of the bad in life.

Mothers naturally teach mothering–it’s instinctual. 

Moms taught us the value of cleanliness, doing our homework and sending a thank-you note.

Mothers have a unique way of making us feel special.

Mothers know just the right gift to give.

What would you add to this list about your mom?

Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness. She watches over the ways of her household. Her sons and daughters arise in one accord to extol her virtues, and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms. So go ahead and give her the credit that is due, for she has become a radiant woman. (Proverbs 31:26, 27, 28, 31 TPT)

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Unknown author

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Challenge, Children, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Parents, Women

Latrodectus Mactans (Black Widow)

There is a black lady wearing a red colored hourglass on her back. She’s experiencing her wedding night and her husband has displayed a bit of machoism while she dances for him. She longs for a family. So, when the lovemaking is complete between the two and she is convinced that she’s pregnant, she plunges a dagger of poison into her groom, only to then consume her husband’s body. 

Gross you say? Yes, but very real in the life of a female black widow spider. You now know why she’s called the black widow. That’s also a name we ascribe to women who kill their husbands. 

Were you aware that women are guilty of 41 percent of spousal homicides? That figure is far higher for women than men. The reasons are primarily related to some form of abuse. 

Female Black Widow

Further, the highest statistics of murder among teenage boys is when they end the life of their mother’s abuser, typically a live-in boyfriend. Abuse has devastating effects on the family, the community and the society. The cost of abuse with medical bills, trials, incarceration and family poverty will extend into the tens of thousands of dollars per family unit. 

But abuse costs far more than dollars. It causes emotional and spiritual damage. It damages marriages and the children with scars that can last a lifetime. Abuse can be blatant causing a black eye or broken ribs or it can be subtle, breaking the emotional fortitude and will of another. Abuse can occur when one withholds financial provision from another or when one constantly puts their spouse down with derogatory comments. 

Like the dance of the black widow spider, abuse waits to strike at the most vulnerable times. It can be a family’s best kept secret slowly drawing the life out of each and every member. It can cause family members to give up, become depressed or hopeless that life will ever change for them. 

Quite often, the sin of abuse follows to the third and fourth generation (Dueteronomy 5:9). It becomes a generational sin. The very thing a child hates his father for is the very thing he becomes and the cycle of abuse continues. Why? 

Here’s an answer: perhaps not the only one, but an accurate, vital one. Ephesians five reveals this answer when it states, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church…to present her…as radiant. In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

He who loves his wife, loves himself. How could one possibly abuse the one they are called to love as Christ loved? One answer: self-hate. Abusers hate themselves and out of that self-hate they hurt and abuse others. There is a way to end this cycle and that answer is found in the book of Galatians. 

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) Jesus took the curse of abuse on the cross and died to break its power and ability to follow in the family line. 

If you have never prayed this verse over yourself and broken off the curses from past generations, do so today. There is nothing more vital than the cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

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

On Training Children to Obey

I remember child rearing like it was yesterday. It’s a lot of constant work. The job of a parent is truly one of 24 hours a day with very little reprieve. So, my heart goes out to you as a parent, especially those of you with young children. 

For some reason, obedience does not come naturally to children. It is something we’re working on until the time our kids leave our home. 

It was a comment made to me the other day that provokes this blog. Here’s the comment: “Have you noticed that parents today believe they can reason their children into obedience?” They went on to remark, “When I was a kid, there were no reasons given, just one strong voice command along with a very furrowed eyebrow and I knew exactly what it meant!” I got to thinking…

We can barely reason adults into trying another way or considering a different outcome. What makes us think we can reason with a three or four-year-old? Most children don’t even have reasoning ability at younger ages. 

Will our children’s teachers sit down and reason with them, all the while the child resists and tells them “No?” Will their employers reason with them in order to move them to do their job? I just don’t see that happening.

I heard a child expert say once, “Children need to learn to obey quietly, quickly and without argument.” He then gave this example. “Suppose you were wrestling with your four-year-old and they ran away from you directly toward a busy street. Will they immediately obey you or wait for your reasoning response?”

I do not envy any parent out there. I can recall the challenge my own children were. But, could we be sorry one day if we do not train our children to obey quietly, quickly and without argument?

A secret? It will take swift, appropriate, meaningful, not anger-filled, non-demeaning and sometimes painful consequences to create an environment of obedience.

For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Parents, Women

Cracks in Your Foundation

Foundations hold buildings upright. Foundations go deep into the soil below frost lines. Foundations are necessary in buildings, in family relationships, in work places, in communities and in marriages.

Good foundations keep the forces of nature from creating catastrophic damages to structures and those structures keep people safe. Foundations help set direction and establish capacities. You need a strong foundation for your marriage and your family. 

Marriages that begin on faulty foundations like living together, lying about former relationships, hiding sin or hiding debt will most assuredly face major challenges in the early years. 

What is one practical, real-life item that will keep your marriage and family foundation strong? 

                                                                    INTEGRITY

Integrity helps build a high capacity, low stress and highly successful relationship foundation to marriage. One lie, one close to the truth statement or one compromise can begin to cause cracks in your foundation. Once a crack begins, it tends to become worse and eventually compromises the whole foundation. You can place temporary fixes on the cracks, but they will ultimately weaken.

To see all that God has for you and your relationship, each and every crack must be thoroughly repaired to a noncompromising state. In order to enjoy the blessings of God upon your family, you’ll need honest confessions and then forms of care for healing.

Good foundations in marriage allow for the growth of integrity, the forgiveness of when we do it wrong and the hope for a better future. Maintaining a good foundation means maintaining one’s integrity in all things without compromise. 

Tell the truth, confess your fault, stay humble, forsake pride and walk in honesty before your God and life mate.

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