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Identity: It’s Not About You II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 11

I am loved; God’s Son sacrificed Himself for me. I John 4:10

I am born of the imperishable seed of God’s word. I Peter 1:23

You exist because God called you into existence.  You are loved and accepted by Him because He loves and accepts you.  All you have to do is breathe and He is pleased with you.  He says to you today, as He did to His Son over 2,000 years ago, “You are my son/daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Receive these words into your spirit right now, this very moment, because they are truth.  Even if everyone else rejects you, God does not.  He is pleased with you. You cannot earn His pleasure; you already have it.  You cannot earn His love; you already have it.  This is why you exist.  This is how God sees you.

You are not who you think you are.  You are who He says you are!  If you are trying to be who you think others desire you to be, you will never be who He desires you to be.  It is said, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”  The truth is that what you do not know from God’s truth and what you don’t apply to your life, what you haven’t heard and what you don’t understand will hurt you severely.

Psychologist and author, Robert McGee said it this way, “Who you think you should be is less than who you already are.”  That statement is worth reading several more times.

To believe anything less than this is to be lied to.  To receive those lies as truth will harm you forever.  Stop living in anything less like hurt, offense, disappointment, rejection.  Start living through a revelation of His love, acceptance and approval of you. Romans 15:7 reveals ever so clearly that Christ accepts you, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” 

To be accepted for who we are is a human longing. To be accepted by God Himself is supernatural acceptance. We will never find freedom attaching ourselves to rejections of the past, wounds found within our history or present disappointments.  They are not who we are or are becoming.  Never give in to the hurt from others, allowing them to be more powerful than God’s truth.  Never allow others to decide who you are.  Jesus created you for His pleasure and only He knows who you really are.  Only He can fulfill you, complete you and heal you.

Hear Jesus’ prayer for you: 

Father, I want those you have given to me with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.  (John 17: 24-26

Question for reflection:

Who does God say that you are?

To order the Identity book, please click here.

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Uncategorized

Your Present Location in Marriage is Not Your Final Destination

Why do we tend to think that our present location in marriage is where we’ll stay? It isn’t. We will change and our life mate will change – guaranteed.

Why will we change? We’ll realize that the choices we make on a daily basis will affect us in the future. We’ll learn that when we overcharge our credit card, the consequence will show up in 30 days or less. We’ll discover that the fight we had yesterday without resolve will still be in our midst today in some form. We’ll understand that the differences we have in disciplining our children will be identified and we’ll need to work on uniting our approach.

We’ll do this because we realize that for two to walk together there will need to be agreement. (See Amos 3:3.) Agreement is far more powerful than disagreement. To find agreement as a married couple is like discovering a large check that we forgot to cash and deposit into our account. Agreement is a windfall of moving our marriage forward. 

Agreement in a marriage means we’re in one accord. If you’re unhappy with your present location in marriage, give it some time. Locate the areas of disagreement and then look for the solutions that will bring you and your spouse into agreement. Agreement will move you from your present location in marriage toward your latter years’ destination. 

Picture with your spouse what you desire those latter years to look like. Then dream about the ways and the means to get there. What changes will you need to implement today in order to see tomorrow looking different? 

Where your marriage is located today is not your final destination. There are good days, challenging days and amazing days ahead. Stay the course and keep moving forward in one accord.

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Uncategorized

The Number One Reason to Get Out of Debt

While there are many reasons to pay down debt early and to eventually pay off debt, there is a reason that most financial experts do not include in their advice. 

Yes, you will feel a new level of freedom. Yes, you will be able to save more money. And, yes, you will stretch your paycheck much further. But none of these come close to the number one reason to put debt behind you.

Here is the number one reason: you will be able to give more. That’s right. Persons who are debt-free give more to help others. They do not need to consider the question of whether or not they can afford to do so, but rather are waiting to hear about needs they can respond to. 

When money is tight due to excessive credit card payments, car payments or that personal loan, you will struggle to give. Your thoughts will center around what you need rather than what others need.

I recently was privileged to hear a story from a young couple in their twenties. They married and between the two of them had a combined $130,000 in college debt and a car loan. Together they developed a plan to retire this debt. As they prayed and stuck to their plan, they actually became (drum roll here) debt-free within three years! Three years may seem like a long time, but they learned so much about debt, about giving and about the discipline of paying off loans early and exactly how much money it saved them in the long run. 

Perhaps you haven’t thought about the freedom you might feel if you were able to reduce your debt considerably, but I can personally guarantee that you will find certain freedom and realize the fun it is to be able to sow into the needs of others.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, Parents, Uncategorized

Comparison is a Killer

I am not totally sure why comparison is so often our human go-to mode.

I’m guessing the experts would have a lot to say on the subject, but the Bible has something to say as well.  It states, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  (II Cor. 10:12)  Pretty straightforward, eh?

 

Some years ago I wrote a tract about developing a child’s self-esteem and started out with the story of Maggie.  I observed that Maggie never combed her hair, brushed her teeth, looked in a mirror or compared herself with anyone.  She was our Labrador Retriever whose full name was Sweet Magnolia of Pheasant Hills, aka Maggie.  She knew who she was, who she was created to be and she knew our unconditional love and acceptance of her.  Perhaps that’s what’s missing in our lives…knowing who we are, what we’re created for and that we’re all unconditionally loved and approved of by our Father in heaven.

 

The Bible says that comparison is unwise. Why? When we compare ourselves to someone else we typically come up short or proud, insignificant or feeling better than another.  Obviously these outcomes are unproductive and self-deprecating.  Comparison is often full of feeling less than, not measuring up or lacking in performance.  Or, it’s full of pride, feeling better than and viewing oneself as more significant than others by out performing.  Crazy thing is it’s all within our own minds.

 

If you have children help them to not compare themselves.  Children have their own unique gifts and talents.  Do not make performance the determining factor of your love, acceptance and approval of them.  Never compare them with their sibling.  Comparison is full of critical judgment and will eventually kill their creativity.

 

Ask God to help you hear your own thoughts of comparison and allow Him to speak truth-filled words over you rather than your own negative or pride-filled mental dialogue.  I wrote another prayer tract called, Who I am in Christ and it is filled with the truth of scripture to help you know whose you are and why you exist so that comparison can end once and for all.

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Encouragement, Marriage, Postmarital, Uncategorized

Staying Together Chapter Seven: Fighting and Arguing or Praying and Agreeing

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

We made a major discovery early in our marriage. When it came to conflict, we could choose to “fight and argue,” or we could “pray and agree.” Disagreement is powerful, but agreement is even more powerful.

Our most frequent disagreements focused on the fact that Mary was a “spender” and I (Steve) was a “saver” when it came to our personal view of finances. Those two opposing values would often clash.

At the core of disagreement is the attainment of a need, and sometimes it’s the attainment of a mere want. Either way, we want to be sure that you receive this profound message: it is not disagreement itself that is the problem. Rather, it’s the inability to resolve disagreement.

In this chapter you’ll discover how to bring a resolve to conflict through a very specific biblical pattern. Ever since God has given us these steps we have been faithfully using them and enjoying the fruit of agreement found within resolve.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

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Issues of the Day, Just for fun, Uncategorized

How to Live Large, Because the World Owes It to You

I have written eleven clear principles that will keep you in debt and closely involve you with a spirit of poverty. This being satirical, I am hoping you are not following any of these principles!

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  1. Always spend more than you take in monthly. Keep it up so that for the year you have spent more than you have made.
  2. Do not tithe and refrain from giving to those in need.
  3. Go hard and go often for more and more things to possess. Fill your garage, your basement and your shed.
  4. Never operate with a budget so you will never have to keep track of expenses.
  5. Keep a large credit card balance and when the monthly bill comes pay only the minimum.
  6. Do not start or maintain a savings account.images-7
  7. Purchase your furniture, your TV’s, your cars, your boat and your family vacations with the help of a personal, high interest bank loan.
  8. Watch what your neighbors purchase and do your best to stay one-step ahead of them. If they buy a Toyota car, go for a Lexus or a Mercedes.
  9. Never keep track of your insignificant purchases. Tell yourself that this is just miscellaneous spending that simply doesn’t amount to much.
  10. Make regular use of, “Loans to Payday” or “Title Loan” offers and have a contest to see who can pay the highest amount of interest.
  11. Never be accountable with your money, it’s yours.images-6

Solomon, wisely wrote: Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, wisdom is more precious than rubies…With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. (Proverbs 8) One man gives freely, yet gains even more…a generous man will prosper…whoever trusts in his riches will fall… (Proverbs 11) The borrower is servant to the lender… (Proverbs 22)

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Just for fun, Uncategorized

Forty-Five Things You May Not Have Known About Me

images-6Every once in a while I throw in a blog that has little or nothing to do with my normal subject matter, like toilet seat ramblings.   In this entry I thought I would take some time and reveal to you 45 things you might not have known about me in random order, just to let you into my life a little deeper. So, here goes…

  1. I grew up in Lancaster County, PA, USA.
  2. My mother was a Lutheran and my father was of the Russian Orthodox denomination.
  3. I grew up in the country (three miles outside of a small town) for the first 17 years of my life and at heart, I am a country boy.
  4. At age 16 I was introduced to the gospel for the first time and at age 17 I asked Jesus into my life.
  5. I spent four years in the US Air Force during the Vietnam conflict.IMG_1436
  6. Since around age 45 onions and garlic hate me.
  7. In the first year of marriage, I was diagnosed with a blood disorder (I had to experience a bone marrow test) and in the first year of my marriage I was totally healed of the very same blood disorder by the only One who heals.
  8. I have now been married to the love of my life and my best friend, Mary, for forty years.IMG_1423
  9. I am enjoying the experience of my sixth decade of life.
  10. I love fast cars and fast motorcycles.
  11. I actually raced motorcycles (enduros) for a few years of my life.images
  12. I bought my first motorcycle when I was 15 and I rode that bike everywhere without a license plate or a driver’s license.
  13. I lied about my age and secured my first “real” job at 15, washing dishes in an elderly care facility and, yes, I rode my motorcycle to work.
  14. While in the military, I became a Non-Commissioned Officer and graduated first in my class.
  15. Many years of my childhood I spent in a tent in the “woods” or down by the creek and camped there every weekend.
  16. I have one sibling, a sister who is eighteen months older than me.
  17. I love the mountains, the fresh water streams, the majestic trees, the animals, the sounds and the smells.
  18. I have now walked with my Lord for 44 years and He has been nothing but faithful to me.
  19. Mary and I lived and served as missionaries for eight years of our married lives.
  20. My worst job ever was baling hay at a neighbor’s farm as a kid and getting paid $1.00 per day.
  21. Writing does not come easy to me.
  22. My favorite pie is shoe-fly. I will choose it over cake any day of the week.
  23. I was in a rock band as a teenager.
  24. I have made many mistakes (failed) many times and realize that failure is a great teacher.
  25. I am a “saver” for future investment of course.
  26. I have a used car business on the side.
  27. I hunted white tail deer for over 30 years and was fortunate enough to bag many bucks and does.
  28. I like old things like furniture, cars, trucks and motorcycles.
  29. I enjoy creating things with wood, building and renovating.IMG_1043 IMG_1030
  30. I really enjoy fixing things.
  31. I built (with lots of help) my own house in 1987.
  32. Saving water and electricity, any utility, is something I try to do while caring for the environment God has given us to steward.
  33. Don’t hate me, but I think Apple products are great (as I write this on a MacBook Air).
  34. I enjoy flea markets.
  35. I rebuilt a 1953 Chevy 3100 pickup truck and successfully got it on the road.
  36. I am crazy about living debt free and helping others to enjoy the same.
  37. I love any kind of nuts, except pecans.
  38. I lived in two other states before returning to my roots in Pennsylvania.
  39. I continue to find areas of insecurity in my life.
  40. I enjoy NASCAR and actually drove a stock car at the Dover Delaware Monster Mile track once.
  41. I really like to read books that challenge and grow me as a leader.
  42. I tend to stay away from people who promise you the world and deliver nothing.
  43. I am told that I am tenacious and I actually see that as a positive.
  44. I struggle, over analyze and think too much when someone I love is going through a difficult time in their life.
  45. I love Jesus more than ever and continue to grow in the realization that He loved me first.

There you have it. I am sure I have 45 more, but I’ll not bore you any further. Thank you for reading my blog and sending your comments. Keep forwarding them if you find something helpful for others.

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Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital, Uncategorized

Mission, The Why of Your Marriage

imagesWhy are you married? That seems like a question that does not need asking. But, couples can lose their way; lose their focus after some years of doing life. I know my marriage has at times. Mary and I discovered some years ago that we needed to answer that “why” question and then put it into writing. We call this our Marriage Mission statement and we have found it to be a guiding life value in our relationship. Most likely your work place has a mission statement, as does your local church and your auxiliary clubs you belong to. Marriage is God’s idea and when He brought it to earth He spoke to the very first couple these words, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” And, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 1,2) God gave Adam and Eve a mission.

Whether you are married a month or decades, your marriage has a purpose, a calling. Your children will find strength in knowing their family has focus and mission. A mission statement will keep you on track, help you set goals and set the course for personal change. It can help you envision where you want your marriage to go. What legacy do you desire to leave? It can start today by identifying your mission together as a couple and as a family.images-4

  1. Begin by listing areas that you and your spouse are presently prioritizing and involved in individually and as a couple. Write these things down.
  2. Take the time to list your personal family values, the practical things that define your marriage. (For example: praying together, becoming debt free or growing a business.)
  3. Start building your mission statement by listing your goals and dreams, keeping in mind all you have written above. What do you desire to accomplish as a couple/family? Include short-term and long-term dreams and think about this question, “What impact do we desire to make as a couple?” Your statement will include: the spiritual; the physical; the financial; the social; the vocational and the recreational.

Include some life scriptures like Joshua 24:15 or Psalms 127:1. Defining the “why” through a marriage mission statement just might be what is missing from your union.

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Encouragement, Uncategorized

Twice I was Lost (continued)

 A very merry Christmas to each of you!

 Being lost in the deep forests of the Appalachian Mountains is something one takes all necessary precautions to avoid. I was not planning on being lost that day, tracking a wounded deer that normally just walks in circles until they lie down and die. I was not planning on a whiteout keeping me from locating my bearings, but I knew that in mountain survival tactics one heads down. So down and down I went, slipping, sliding, dropping things and falling as fast as I could in an attempt to beat the darkness of nightfall. The snow was now above my knees as I could no longer pull my legs up, but rather pushing them through the freezing white heaviness to take another step.  I was feverishly praying, “Lord, please help me out of here!” Finally I hear a small trickle of a stream as I breathed a huge sigh of relief. A trickle often means a larger, faster flowing stream further down and that normally means eventual access to a bridge and a road.

images-6Two hunters picked me up walking under the moonlight on an old snow-covered gravel based forestry road and they volunteered to take me back to where my vehicle was parked. I didn’t tell them I was lost, saving the embarrassment, but they kept asking, “You walked from mountain to mountain all the way from where?” My starting point was another county away.  As best as we could figure over 12 miles was covered. I was soaked in sweat and I was sure they could hear my heart beating, as well as, my hands shaking partly out of exhaustion and partly out of fear. I had honestly entertained the thought that I might never see my wife and two young boys again. Seeing the warm glow of lights and wood smoke bellowing from the flu at the camp was a welcoming sight. It was a relief that finally put my whole spirit, soul and body at ease.

 

To be continued: lost a second time…

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Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles, Uncategorized

The Ten Commandments of Marriage II

We’ve started a series on the ten commandments of marriage and today we consider numbers three and four.

3. Thou Shalt Love Her or Him and Make Them Holy

images-2Did you know that you could help make your spouse holy? Yep, it’s all right there in the Scripture. I Corinthians seven says that a believing spouse can sanctify an unbelieving one. You can only imagine how a believing spouse can bless, sanctify and edify their believing spouse. When we become our spouses cheer leader, even when they feel as though they are losing the game, we help build them up to increase their faith for a better future. Far too many individuals see themselves as their spouse’s critic and it is killing their emotional connection. Criticism does not motivate, love does. We are called to speak the truth in a love-filled manner with our speech full of grace. Because of who the Proverbs 31 woman was, her husband found himself sitting at the gate, a respected elder. As you reflect God to one other you will build holiness in one another.

4. Thou Shalt Play Togetherimages-3

Can you remember all the fun things you thought of and once did while dating? Are you still laughing together, really laughing? Marriage has to be fun. If it was not meant to be fun, then God would not have created it. What has happened with humor in your relationship? Where did it go since children came along or all the medical bills came due? Boredom is simply unacceptable within marriage. If we can predict a daily routine, then we have lost spontaneity and excitement. We have allowed tedium, dullness and monotony to set in. Break that cycle by bringing home flowers, sending a card to your spouse’s work place, turning the stove off and running out for Chinese or playing a game that is not too competitive. Rent one of your favorite funny movies and laugh again. Regularly search for, listen for and check the Internet for local happenings that you can attend together and have fun again. Recently, we attended a local “bridge bust” and then laughed the whole way home about how it truly was a “bust.”  Finally, make a list of fun and creative things to do together and prioritize them, you’ll never regret it.  Proverbs reminds us that a merry heart has medicinal purposes, so make fun a priority.

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