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.

Standard
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

Standard
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!

images-8

  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)

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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…

Standard
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.

Standard
Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles, Uncategorized

The Ten Commandments of Marriage

Starting this week, I am going to create a series of blogs that I am calling The Ten Commandments of Marriage.  I hope you enjoy them and will share them with others.images-6

1. Thou Shalt Love God Above All Else

To love your spouse, your children or yourself above God is simply wrong. Jesus said we were to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul and then love our neighbor as our self. Your closest neighbor is your spouse, but love them next to God. Did you catch that “as you love yourself” part? That means, in order to be able to love another so deeply we must be able to know the love of God for ourselves. Unless we know and fully understand that He is madly in love with us, are fulfilled in His acceptance and know His approval, we will lack in our love toward our spouse. Ephesians says it this way, “…no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.” You cannot hate yourself, while at the same time, claim to love your mate. You are one.

2. Thou Shalt Not be Self-consumed or Walk in Selfish Ambition

Selfish ambition is being filled with immaturity and will kill a marriage faster than anything. Selfish ambition is defined in the Bible as acting on your own for your greater good, not walking in humility, interested only in yourself and, lastly, being filled with vain conceit (Philippians 2:3,4) We are strictly commanded to be like Christ who became a servant and even though He was God, never considered equality with God by giving up His divine privileges (NLT). Are you serving and looking for ways to serve your spouse on a daily basis? There is no 50/50 deal in marriage; it is a one hundred percent devotion to serve and care for the other first. Marriage exposes how self-centered we actually are and can either destroy our relationship or expose our need to change. Marriage is not about me or having my needs met, but rather asking God to help me partner with Him in blessing my spouse.

Standard
Encouragement, Leadership, Uncategorized

A Struggle of Leadership

Many persons are under the impression their leaders do not struggle with everyday life temptations as they themselves do. Somehow, they have projected in their minds, that leaders have risen above the ability to miss the mark. Sadly then, these same leaders can begin to think similar thoughts which can eventually lead to a “pedestal” mentality.   Here’s a key for each and every leader out there: to admit that you as a leader struggle is to admit that you are actually human…is to admit that you do not have it all together. I John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” As a leader, do you walk in any kind of self-deception? Believe me, it’s a fair questions to ask yourself and to expect Holy Spirit to reveal an answer.

images-10Leaders are forgiven persons, but not perfect. You do not need to pretend that your private world is perfect. Recognize your capacity for failure, but also recognize failure is not the problem; it’s what we do with failure. Failure can actually bring you to the end of the performance lie; give yourself permission to fail. Then, allow the failure to launch you into a path of personal healing. Embrace the place you are, while at the same time remembering God is taking you somewhere new in your leadership capacity.

 

Standard
Uncategorized

How Competitive Are You?

images-14

Mark Miller, VP of Chic-fil-A wrote in a recent blog, “Perhaps more than anything else, broadly and accurately defining your competition will impact your thinking. When Coke decided a few years ago, their competition was not limited to other soft drink manufactures, rather, their true competition was all the beverages consumed globally on a daily basis by every man, woman and child, it changed their view of their business. Today, it’s not just about Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite – Coke has over 500 brands and sells more than 1.9 BILLION servings a day. This would not be the case if Coke thought Pepsi was their only competitor.”

Who or what is your competitor? Are you competing with a sibling, a co-worker, a fellow student, a church staff member, the local mega church or a neighbor? This type of competing also involves comparing. Perhaps your eyes and your mind are on the wrong person(s). The Bible reveals there is a thief who has come to rob, steal and finally destroy you. As long as the evil one can misappropriate your focus and attention on another person, he can keep you from focusing on who your real competitor actually is. Satan is competing for your soul along with the souls and spirits of the ones you feel you are competing with. Competition through a friendly game of tennis is great, but competition that leads to comparison with others is a huge negative. In fact, Paul said that we are unwise to compare ourselves, either we will become prideful or suffer from feelings of insignificance (I Corinthians 10:12).

images-8

Standard