Parenting by Scratch

“Parenting takes no work.”  -No One

Parenting By Scratch

It may just be me, but I’m witnessing more parents who are beginning to outsource their responsibilities as parents. The definition of outsourcing, according to a business model is this, a situation in which a company employs another organization to do some of its work, rather than using its own employees to do it. However, we want to now define it according to Parenting Terms, A parent who will place the responsibility of another individual or group to train up their children, either emotionally, physically or spiritually.

Now before you decide to stop reading this because you either think this does not pertain to you or you wholeheartedly feel I’m off my rocker, please at least read this example and see if you then understand where I am coming from.

Birthday celebrations for our children. There was a time that we as parents would make our child’s cake from scratch. We would sift the flour, add the baking soda and salt, and then combine the eggs and milk. We would bake that cake and then decorate it ourselves for our child. Then, the cake box came along. All the dry ingredients were already mixed for you. All you had to do was add the wet ingredients. You would still decorate the cake. But some of the work was eliminated. Next, you discovered that your local grocery store would not only make the cake of your choosing, but they would also decorate that cake from a myriad of choices to suit the taste of your child.

Now fast forward to today.  We have Chuck E. Cheese’s, and other such places for that birthday celebration. Our only responsibility is to pay the bill. They will not only make the cake and decorate it. They will feed all the guests. They will entertain and even sing to your child.  Yes, we have now “outsourced” the Birthday Party.

This is just one small example. However, as a Children’s and Families Pastor for the past 20 years, I have personally witnessed parents outsourcing their child’s spiritual guidance and teaching. The church is thought to be the Spiritual Leader by these parents. They forget that we only have them for 1-2 hours each week out of a 168 hour week. It’s time we all start making those cakes from scratch again. Spiritually speaking.

Parents, I truly understand how hectic and crazy our weeks have become. Maybe the best way to learn how to cook from scratch is to start with a simple recipe. Take time ask your child, “How can I pray for you?” Then pray for them right there. Pick up a Child’s Devotional from the Youth/Children’s table and share with your child. Use Pastor Bill’s “Take It Home” each Sunday to spur on conversation with your child on the way home.

Instead of “Outsourcing” let’s make a commitment to begin to “Insource” the spiritual teaching and guidance for our children.

“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again with your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”  Deuteronomy 6:6-8

Here’s to learning to cook from scratch again!

Joe & Kerry

Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sex; They Begin with Inappropriate Friendships

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

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It seems that far too often when  a spouse becomes close to a member of the opposite sex, other than their spouse, it begins to place them on a slippery slope.  In our years of counseling we have seen the results of what occurs when it was initially shared to a spouse, “We are just friends, that’s all.”  An adulterous affair, whether it be physical or emotional, begins with allowing a friendship to be inappropriate.  These friendships will grow an emotional attachment with people of the opposite sex. When this begins to grow it can spell danger and sometimes disaster for a marriage.

Here are three things to Avoid…Beware of the following:

Beware of private communications and intimate conversations with people of the opposite sex: The only person to share an intimate conversation with is your spouse, no one else.  Communication between a husband and wife is crucial.  If you feel it necessary to discuss private, personal matters about your relationship with your spouse to someone other than your spouse, especially a member of the opposite sex, then you are emotionally connecting with them instead of your spouse. By doing this, you are purposely causing the relationship with your spouse to atrophy. Which leads to the next one.

Beware of workmates who seem too concerned with your personal private life: Those are the ones that tell you “let me know if you need anything.” They are more interested in having you focus on them and relying on them instead of your spouse. These are dangerous people. They shroud themselves with the cloak of being a “good friend” and “one that will always be there for you.”  The key things to remember is just that, your personal private life is that-personal and private.

Beware of those that give you exaggerated and suggestive compliments about the way you look: Regardless of what is happening in your marriage don’t give the Devil a foothold in your marriage by falling victim to this trap. Let your workmates know there are things you won’t tolerate.  Suggestive comments are a pathway to flirting and there is no such thing as “harmless flirting” between members of the opposite sex.  It is especially harmful to have spouses engage in this activity outside of their marriage.

Remember this, keep a healthy physical, social and emotional distance between you and people of the opposite sex.  This is a safeguard for your marriage.  If necessary, seek marriage counseling to avoid these pitfalls in your marriage.

Again, adulterous affairs do not just happen overnight.  They are a slow and deliberate process that involves the choice of both individuals.

Stay connected emotionally, physically and spiritually to the one God has ordained for you…your spouse!

 

Joe & Kerry

 

 

 

Forgiveness…4 Principles to Apply to Your Life

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies.”                  Saint Augustine

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Forgiveness is one of the most difficult and most misunderstood concepts in all of life. Refusal to do it can create a toxic root of bitterness in our hearts. A lack of forgiveness can wreck marriages, families, careers and most every other aspect of life, but embracing grace in its true form can bring freedom and healing.

This past weekend at our POM Communication Conference, we spoke in great depth on the communication skill of forgiveness. Not only receiving but granting it as well.  It is evident that so many of us struggle with the concept of Biblical Forgiveness, both extending as well as receiving.

Kerry and I would like to share 4 basic principles that we like to put into place on this journey of forgiveness.

To live a life of grace and forgiveness, do the following:

When you’ve blown it, own it!

We live in a world that loves to deflect accountability and assign blame somewhere else. We’d like to believe we’re always either the hero or the victim in every situation, but sometimes, we’re the bad guys! Never admitting fault doesn’t make you look strong; it makes you look foolish. Be willing to swallow your pride, confess your offense, and humbly seek forgiveness.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

Recognize the difference between forgiveness and trust.

Some people reject forgiveness, because they wrongly believe it’s the same thing as trust and since they don’t trust the person, they assume they can’t forgive the person. Forgiveness can’t be earned, only given (that’s called grace). Trust, however, can’t be given, only earned (that’s called “Common Sense!”).

Follow the example of the world’s only perfect Forgiver.

The more you learn from Jesus, the more naturally forgiveness will flow. He is the embodiment of love and grace. We still live with the natural consequences of our decisions, but ultimately, the penalty of our sins was paid for by Him on the cross. Don’t beat yourself or others up for offenses that Jesus has literally taken a beating to forgive.

Give as much forgiveness as you’d like to receive.

We all want grace when we’ve messed up, but we’ve got to realize that grace flows both ways with equal measure. If you want to receive forgiveness, you must also offer forgiveness.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Think of it this way- We are not called to “wait” for that person to come and ask for forgiveness. No, we must actively forgive in the moment.
Better example yet, God sent His Son into a world that hated Him. If God had waited for the world to be “worthy” to receive Him, His Son would never have come.

In closing, Forgiveness is so unnatural an act that it takes practice to perfect it. In fact, it is rarely the case that we are able to forgive “one time” and the matter is settled, more often than not, we must relinquish our bitterness a dozen or so times, continually choosing to release the offender from our judgment.

So, today, what do you choose?

Joe & Kerry

Communication Conference-POM

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Effective communication in your marriage is not just about saying and hearing words—it’s all about relaying ideas accurately with the intent of building a mutual understanding. When a husband and wife practice healthy habits for talking, listening, and processing together, it’s not only good for their marriage, but ultimately for the glory of God.

If we are to have marriages that are healthy, enjoyable, and intentional, we must learn and apply wise principles to how we communicate. We must take to heart Solomon’s words:

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

When we get in the habit of bad communication in our marriage, that’s when we will stifle growth, inhibit intimacy, and create endless spouts of bickering, arguing, and division.

However, when we begin to put into practice healthy communication, our marriages will begin to fuel growth and intimacy and make our marriages resilient against otherwise devastating disagreements.

The foundation towards healthy communication in marriage begins with a humble and listening heart!


Join us on Saturday, May 12th as we begin the journey together to identify and put into practice principles towards effective communication in your marriages.

“Did You Hear What I Just Said?” Conference will take place at Eastern Hills Baptist Church, 3100 Morris NE, Albuquerque, NM  87111 from 2pm till 8pm. A catered Dinner is included in the conference.  The cost is $40 per couple and $25 per individual.

We, Joe & Kerry Vivian, will speak on effective communication towards love, forgiveness, family matters, servanthood, sexual intimacy, and growth in Christ.

Please register at JoenKerry.com on the Communication Conference page or follow this link.  “Did You Hear What I Just Said?”  $25 individual/$40 per couple

Reminder: YOU MUST BE REGISTERED TO ATTEND. THERE WILL BE NO REGISTRATION AT THE DOOR.

Getting Back to Holy Sex: Visually Aroused by Our Wives

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Husbands, when were you last aroused by the sight of someone other than your wife? If you’re normal and honest the answer if probably sometime in the last 24 hour to 72 hours. Understand this, I don’t mean the 13-year-old put-a-pillow-in-your-lap like when we were thirteen, but aroused none-the-less.

God created us to be aroused by the female body. Any hint of the soft round parts we don’t have gets our attention, and more than a hint gets us aroused.  It is what it is. However, husbands, God blessed you with a wife to maintain that arousal of her body.

“She is a loving dear, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated be her love.” Proverbs 5:19 NLT

The HCSB translation says to “be lost in her love forever.”

Yet, some men love the constant sexual tweak they get living in a world of women who either don’t know or don’t care how their attire affects men. Others hate it, feeling it’s an invasion on their mind and/or their marriage. Some men know their wife is always watching them, ready to be upset if he gives any hint he’s aware of whenever and wherever it’s put on display near him.

Being turned on by what you see is part of God’s plan for your sexuality. Satan and a world that denies God have turned that into a problem, but this was not God’s intention. Giving in and running with lust is certainly a risk, but there’s another more insidious danger here. In an attempt to avoid sin we will start to believe the lie that God made us wrong. We are nothing but lustful, out of control animals. So, we begin to suppress those feelings of arousal.  We can suppress our natural reaction to visual sexual stimuli of the sight of our wife because we are afraid of what those images and urges may force us to do outside of the walls of our home.

Your wife may add to the temptation to suppress your natural visual arousal. If she gets upset about your comments, or your eyes following her around the room when she’s half naked, you may decide it’s safer to hide this part of yourself. The problem is this is a mini-castration, removing a part of your God-given sexuality you are to have towards your wife. The blessing of arousal should not be withheld as it pertains to her.

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.”  Proverbs 5:18 NLT

The truth is God intended your wife to be blessed by the way you react to any hint of her sexy body. The world has messed this up, but it’s what God intended and it’s worth trying to get it back. I realize convincing her that her body is sexy is an uphill battle. The world has set a standard no real woman can meet. I think there are only two kinds of women in this world who feel good about how they look: narcissists and those who understand who they are in Christ. Kerry wrote about this in her post “Ladies, Here is the Perfect Body”  Hopefully, your wife is not the first and is on her way to being the second.

You may or may not be able to discuss this with your wife at this time, but you can settle it in your own mind. You are aroused by the female body because God created you to be aroused by it. Living in a fallen world makes this gift a problem at times, but it doesn’t make the gift wrong or bad. Learn to embrace and enjoy the way you react to your wife’s body, and pray she can hear the truth from you about your pleasure.

Joe

A Necessary “No”

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For the past 10 weeks in our Marriage/Family Bible Study Class on Sundays we have been focused on the verse 3 John 1:2. With this verse, we have been asking ourselves, “How’s Your Soul?” Each week has been a different facet of “How’s Your Soul?” and what that looks like according to God’s Word and our very own Souls. In one week we parked in Genesis 2:1-22 and asked ourselves the question, “What makes a healthy soul?” There were four facets that we studied, but for now, I would like to focus on one of the four: A Healthy Soul Requires a “No.”
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17
Look at it this way, God gives lots of Permission before His One Restriction. As we read these verses it’s obvious that the odds were so stacked in Adam’s favor: “Any Tree you may eat from freely…Any… But ONE you may not…only one out of the MANY.” Again, God gives lots of Permission before His One Restriction. That’s the Heart of our God, yet we will still focus on the ONE “No.”
That’s the sign of a hurting Soul; they will purposely focus on the ONE “No” and ignore all the “Yes’s” around them.
I gleaned two key nuggets from these two verses. First, this protects the “Integrity” of the definition of love as defined by God. Because Love requires a Choice. Love requires a Yes/No. Love requires a Decision. As we read those verses, we see that the One Tree provides us with a choice: God’s Way or Our Way.
Next, it is true that our soul needs a “NO”…A necessary No. Kerry shared with me that she thought to herself, “How often do you think Adam walked past that tree and had to tell himself ‘No.’?” Great question. We both agreed that every time Adam said “No” it was good for his soul.
So, this is very much about Sin right now. Because it is good for our Soul when we choose to say “No” to distorting and abominating God’s Blessings in our life. However, too often it is not just black & white or “Sin & Not Sin.” It can be anything that leads us into sin and thus we should have said “No” even though so many at the time say “Yes.”
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Think about it, what many may say is good may in fact not be of gain for me at all. Also, even though it’s ok and not ‘sinful’ or ‘illegal’ may easily become my idol and thus slips into sin. So, we began to own this statement, “It is good for you to hear yourself say “No” to yourself.”
So, we encourage each of you this new year to begin to ask yourself these questions: “What is it right now that you are saying “No” to? You could possibly be saying “Yes” and there even may be those around you that do say yes, but you choose to say No?”

In fact, maybe the better question is this… “What do you need to say “No” to starting today?”
As you begin 2018, realize that it is good for your soul to have Restrictions/Boundaries.

We Love you all,
Joe and Kerry

Beauty for Ashes

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On Friday, September 29th, I was asked to speak for the women at our church for their Fall Celebration Dinner. I was asked to share how I exchanged Beauty for Ashes.

So, I wanted to now share with each of you my message from that evening. Yes, I have shared of what it means to be a survivor and how to not play the “victim” card; however, after that evening, I felt God move so much deeper in so many ladies lives that night because of my obedience and transparency.

So here is my message. May God speak to each of you as He continually speaks to me.

At around the age of 8 my mother allowed a male family member to live in our house that sexually abused me over a period of time.  The instability in my young life allowed for me to “neatly” package these experiences away. It wasn’t until the age of 37, 17 years into my marriage, did I finally realize that in order to heal I had to acknowledge my abuse. Even though I never admitted the abuse, it permeated into the intimacy of my marriage and the ability to deeply know the fullness of my Savior Christ!

Let me explain the “Trigger Point” that brought me to the beginning of my healing. Joe was officiating a wedding and as he spoke to the couple about how important transparency was in a marriage it hit me that I wasn’t being transparent to Joe, not myself. I knew my hurt was like a wound that was festering. It was gaping and severely infected at the time. I truly believed that if I never looked at it, acknowledged it, that it somehow didn’t exist. So very silly to think that way; however, I truly believe that we all do that with so many things in our lives.

I had to speak it, bring it to life, acknowledge it before I could begin the healing process.

During my healing process I realized God was there. He never left my side. It is difficult to think about God being there, but I believe God saw the crown on my head-He saw the ending before it even began.  He protected me physically and mentally when my young mind couldn’t process what was happening. Christ–as fully man and fully God–knew the feeling of shame and embarrassment. Anything I was feeling or thinking, if it was anger or sadness, I could give it to Him.

The healing process took a couple of years, many a bit longer. I would truly think I dealt with it all, then a memory would come up and the process would start all over again. I now truly see God speaking to me during those times, “OK, you are owning this part, now let me give you this piece to add to the overall picture.”  It also took Joe time for him to process and heal as well. For the first couple of months he was ready to get on a plane, find him, punish him and even possibly place him in a place no one would ever find him. Joe’s anger and rage was only tempered by God’s grace and the men of God who surrounded him. We all needed and took “baby steps” in this healing process.

My abuser has since passed away and I really do pray that that before he passed away he surrendered his life to Christ and sought forgiveness.

During this healing process and every day since, Isaiah 61:3 comes alive in my soul!

I want to share with everyone on how His words spoke directly to my pain and abuse.

“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, a festive praise instead of despair.  In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.”    Isaiah 61:3

 

When I gave Him my past, He let the hurts completely burn and all that was left was ashes.

“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes,”

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The definition of ash is the solid residue left when material is thoroughly burned.  Think about it, these hurts can no longer be a fire again that can dictate my fears or thoughts. To get those ashes burning I must add something to them to create the activation energy needed.  This is why I must not use my past as a reason to think or behave in a negative way. When I fully gave Him my hurts — they became ashes. And the beautiful thing is that He took my ashes and gave me a beautiful crown.

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The definition of a crown is a reward of victory or a mark of honor. Something that imparts splendor, honor, or a finish, a culmination. I love that last part- a culmination- an attained objective. God not only was with me during my abuse, but was walking with me, healing me, turning my hurt to ruins, and then in turn He took my ashes and in turn, gave me a Crown!  A Crown He places on my head! WOW. He has always seen that Crown on my head, always.

 

a joyous blessing instead of mourning,”

I have an option here. Will I choose blessing or mourning? I choose blessings. The blessing of forgiveness that He shows to me for holding on to the past and letting it infect my marriage relationship. And to the forgiveness that I can offer my offenders: my mother and my abuser.

My mother and I never had an intimate relationship. I probably spoke to her once a year. When I found out she had cancer, I made a trip to see her in August of 2016. When I was there I asked her if she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She replied, “Yes Kerry.” That was closure for me. When she passed away this past June, I took comfort in the fact that we will both be together in Heaven and will have a whole new and restored relationship together.

Because He forgave me I can forgive others.

The blessing of hope of the future that offers peace. The blessing of His truth and not the poison of the world that tell me to live out my past as anger. The blessing of being able to share with others the healing. I love what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. This is what it says from the Message:

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 

All circumstances can lead to His Glory. That is the reason I am standing here right now.

 

“a festive praise instead of despair.”

Again, I have an option. Because of that, I choose to praise Him.

Have you ever gotten ashes on your hands? They come off on everything you touch. To me this is a picture of despair. I will not take the ashes of my past hurt and spread them on myself or to others as a sign of “poor me.”

Praise shakes up the enemy and empowers us to be bigger than our circumstance. Praise is being active in the healing process. Praise is showing that the Lord is great and powerful. Praise requires intentional thoughts and actions and I want to be intentional in my walk.

 

“In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.”

When I choose joyous blessings, when I choose festive praise, I then stand in righteousness.

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Remember this: A great oak tree stands for strength, but it starts off as a seed.

Oak sapling sprouted from an acorn.

Let me show you something amazing about our creator God. Look at this other definition of a crown. The region of a seed plant at which the stem and root merge. He makes us like great oaks but it starts off as a crown. And in order to grow we need to stay in Him.

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When we are submerged in Him we grow deep roots and become stronger in Him. The outcome is we grow like a great oak that He planted for His glory

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When we give Him our hurts and truly let Him in our lives we see His grace and love. We see that those hurts are now ashes. We give Him our ashes and He gives us a crown of beauty. A reward for our victories in Him that marks the splendor of His love!

 

Thank you for taking time to read about my journey: Beauty from Ashes.

May you look for those hurts that are in your life and replace them with a Crown of Beauty!

-Kerry