Genuineness of Faith

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“You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith-more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire-may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 

1 Peter 1:6,7

As I was discussing genuine faith with a fellow follower of Christ, our discussion brought me to the passage above.  I now saw the passage in a whole new light. 

When a Secret Service Agent is being trained by the Treasury Dept for Counterfeiting; they will only handle the genuine article as they go through training.  They will study and become completely familiar with real currency.  They are not allowed to handle a fake or a counterfeit bill during their entire training.  How it feels, how it looks, even how it sounds and smells, are what they are trained to know of the genuine article. Why this intense training and focus on only real currency? Well, when the fake or counterfeit bill crosses their path, they will easily spot the fraud because they have always focused on the genuine article.

That’s what Peter was talking about when he spoke of the genuineness of your faith in his first letter.  We need to be seeking Jesus, having such an intimate relationship with Him and Him only. We need to stay immersed in His Word and read it daily.  We need to be in communication with Him through prayer, study, and fellowship with other believers. Why? So that when “so-called” Biblical quotes are passed our way or when we listen to teachings or even read Christian literature, we can spot the counterfeit and turn away from it. 

We live in a world today that teaches us to conform to the standards of the world. We are told to be tolerant. We are told that we live in a bubble, that we are peculiar for following God’s ordinances and truths.  Ya know what, we are to be peculiar.  Jesus even prays to His Father as we remain in the world but not of the world. (John 17:6-16)  Our foundation in Christ should be so solid and deep that we need to be shocked by what the world offers and then stand our ground in His Truth. 

Study the genuine article…Jesus Christ…and you will be hard pressed to ever receive a counterfeit.

Start The Day Focused

“I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.”

Psalm 119:10

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As followers of Jesus Christ we are to be about His business daily. We are to be making a conscience effort to journey with Him.  We are to be seeking things of God in our pursuit of Godliness/Holiness.

The key words in those above sentences are, “We are…”  We are suppose to; however, life happens and our focus is taken off the King and onto the world.  Schedules, phone calls, unexpected changes in our daily routines, lack of sleep, health issues, personality conflicts; these and many others will try to edge in and take our focus off of Him. 

About four years ago, Kerry read an article about pursing God daily in a “self-focused” world. Shortly after reading that, 5 post-it notes went up in a place that we will see them every morning.  These five simple notes were reminders for us to start the day focused on the Creator of the universe instead of the trials and schedules of the day. The key words in that past sentence… “start the day focused.” Too often than not, we begin the day focused on our to-do list and not on His Hand in our life.  Yes, I am not denying that life happens at break neck speed and we must be organized and well thought out on our planning for our marriages, families, and work; however, without placing Christ as the central driving force in those decisions and outcomes, we are tilting to the windmills of the world.  Seek first His Kingdom and everything else falls into place.

So here are the five reminders that are written on post-it notes:

How would Your Spirit inspire me to pray today?

What acts of service can I do today to represent your Love?

What words can I utter that will honor and bless You?

What acts of worship can I do towards You?

Lord, how can I love You today?

May you continue to grow closer to the Lord each and every day!

A Growing Bond Servant to the King

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Let me pose this question to you, “Who or what are you a Bond-Servant/Slave to?”  My prayer is that the question would stir up thoughts and emotions and make you think.  It did me.

To fully understand this question, we must define Bond-Servant.  It is the Greek word, doulos(1401), which means servant or slave.  One who voluntarily gives himself up to another’s will, devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interest.

Great picture from that definition.  Paul refers to himself as a Bond-Servant to Christ five times in his letters.  Spiritual leaders of the New Testament; John, Peter, James, take the title of Bond-Servant.

So let’s again approach the question, “Who or what are you a Bond-Servant to?”  What are you a slave to? There are the worldly desires that we can be a slave to that many times sound justifiable.  “I need to put in those long hours so as to support my family.”  “All these practices and activities are going to help my child become better rounded.” “I only drink so as to help unwind from the day, I don’t have a problem, and I am still in control.”  “I really deserve this (place in here any major expense that will place a financial strain on the family).”   See how easy it is to become a slave to work, money, our children, even alcohol?

Then, for some, it comes in the form of emotional desires; lust, anger, deceit, pride, negative expressions.  Do you find yourself frequently apologizing for your actions or at least having to explain why you reacted in that manner?  Is there the pull to give your emotions and feelings to someone other than your spouse? Are you one who needs to make sure your feelings of injustice are heard rather than allowing His will to unfold?

Jesus Christ is the only One to whom we should become a Bond-Servant.  The key is to be totally devoted to should voluntary submission to Him. When one says that he or she will serve Him, that they do it without regards to their own interests or selfish wants and desires.

It starts with the command that Jesus gives us, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”  Luke 9:23 NASB emphasis mine   We must deny our motives and agenda, voluntarily submit our lives to Jesus daily, and begin walking with Him.

He, Himself, states, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 NASB   It is a daily walk with our Lord and Savior.  It starts with repentance, turning from sin and turning to God, and then maintaining this relationship through obedience and faith. You must abide.

Again, ask for God to reveal to you what you are allowing yourself to be a slave to. Things of this world or things of God?  When God shows you the unrighteousness in your life, start practicing the Truth, step into the Light and let your deeds be manifested as being wrought by God.

A Growing Bond-Servant to Jesus Christ,

Joe

Increase these 3 aspects of your marriage…

Having more of the right things can make all the difference. In marriage, sometimes things don’t feel right and it’s because the relationship is lacking in a few key areas. No two marriages are identical, so we are always careful to not make broad generalizations, but from having communicated with many couples these past 15 years, both Kerry and I are convinced that most marriages would be a lot better off if they added more of the following three things:

1. Laughter

The amount and quality of laughter in your marriage is like the fuel needle on a car telling you how full your tank is. Think back to the beginning of your relationship, there’s usually all kinds of laughter, but as the stresses of life set in-children, job, bills- that laughter is often replaced with silence and sometimes even apathy. Life can be hard sometimes, and there are moments when crying together is the only appropriate response, but make laughter a priority and you’ll find that fun fuels a marriage! Go out and do your own “Mystery Science Theater 3000” at a local mall or during a dinner date. Rent your favorite comedy that you two shared laughs with when you were dating. Again, increase your laughter in your marriage.

2. Sex

Let’s be honest and transparent, most men measure the health of their marriage by the frequency of sex. Yes we know, there’s a lot more to a marriage than sex, but couples that place a priority on what happens in the bedroom tend to be a lot stronger in all aspects of the relationship. Don’t be afraid to schedule time for making love. It may sound like it takes the spontaneity and thrill away, but in our busy seasons of life, you’ve got to schedule everything that’s important or it usually won’t happen. There will still be plenty of opportunities to be spontaneous! So take out your calendar and schedule a couple of nights this week.  If you’re up to it or feeling adventurous, take the SExperiment Challenge…7 straight days of intimacy with your spouse.

3. Communication

Now, let’s be honest in this direction, most women measure the health of the relationship by the frequency of the communication (this does not say that men don’t care about communication or women don’t care about sex, but these patterns tend to hold true for most marriages.) Couples that place a priority on conversations and purposely reduce the distractions that keep them apart, tend to be a whole lot stronger. Set apart time each day to turn off the cell phones and carve out time to talk. Turn off the TV and ask some key questions of each other.  Take time to make eye contact and really, truly listen. For starters, ask your spouse to share with you, “What was one thing today that made you smile/you laugh/you upset/ you angry?”  Listen and don’t try to “fix” anything, just listen. Another great communication exercise is to ask each other to share some family/marriage goals. What is a goal in the next 4 weeks/3 months/6 months/year?

It’s very important that we take time to communicate with each other.

So, those are three key areas that we feel could strengthen a marriage. As I stated at the beginning, no two marriages are identical, so you may have another one to add to this list, or you may even disagree with our three.  Share with us your thoughts.

 

4 Things You Should NEVER Say to Your Spouse

Have you ever said something to your spouse and then immediately thought to yourself…”Ummmm…did I just say that out loud?!”

I think we’ve all been there and sometimes we can say the most hurtful things to the people we love the most. We can try to excuse it by blame shifting, blaming that the actions of others led us to speak those words, however, the blame falls squarely on our shoulders.

Truth is that our words can make or break our relationships and we need to commit to using our words wisely. We must make it a practice to “capture our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ” 2 Cor 10:5b You truly can communicate your message without being biting or sarcastic and if you approach your spouse in a supportive and encouraging way, your message/your thought is going to be received so much better.

For the well-being and health of your marriage, let’s look at four words/phrases that should be removed from your vocabulary immediately:

DON’T SAY: “Have you gained weight?”
If they’re gaining weight, trust me, they know it without you pointing it out. Instead of focusing the attention to the weight, try suggestion healthier options for meals or going on walks together or even joining a gym class to promote ways you can spend time together and both get healthier at the same time. Be their biggest encourager; not their biggest critic! Remember, God looks at the heart while man looks at the outward appearance.

DON’T SAY: “You Always…” or “You Never…”
Absolute statements that are negative, have no place in a marriage during an argument. When we’re trying to make a point, we often make hurtful accusations about our spouse that exaggerate the truth. “Always” and “Never” can be dangerous words. If you do say the words “You always…” or “You never…”, make sure you say something positive, like “You always know how to make me smile.” Instead of something negative like “You always make everything so complicated” or “You never do anything to help me.”

DON’T SAY: Anything mean, degrading or disrespectful.
Okay, so this may look like a “catch-all” statement by listing so many statements, but the important point is that you need to always keep a positive focus in your words if you want to maintain a positive focus in your marriage. Once you say a word, you can’t take it back, so be very careful about each word you speak to each other. Think on this…A marriage can’t have too much encouragement or too little criticism.

DON’T SAY: “Divorce”
The “D-Word” should also be removed permanently from your vocabulary. Don’t use it as a threat or as an option. there is no “escape plan” in a Christ centered marriage.  There’s no intimacy in marriage without complete commitment and there can be no true commitment if you have even the threat of an exit strategy.

Can you think of words/phrases you would add to this list?  Let us know, we would love to grow this list further.

Daddy’s Hair Salon…

Here is a great quick blog from All-Pro Dad. Being a father of two girls, I can totally relate to this writing. I always attempted to do our girl’s hair. Many times, the pony tail was never centered and often either to high or to low. Then I tried to advance to the Pig-Tails…epic fail. The braids were by far my greatest attempt of fatherhood for my daughters. Let’s just say, the braids are still a work in progress.  However, my girls never complained and Kerry was always very encouraging.

All I have to say is…I could have used this information about 12-15 years ago! Just Sayin’…

If you haven’t made this Blog one of your favorites, you should today. All-Pro Dad

Your wife goes out of town for the week. You’re looking forward to some great daddy daughter time with your baby girl. You plan activities, play games, and take her to school everyday. As you’re walking out the door, your daughter asks, “Daddy can you do my hair?” Realizing you have no idea how to do this, you have a real dilemma.
Our friends at Daddy Do’s have you covered. Watch and learn some quick and easy tips on How to Do Your Daughter’s Hair. Not only will you get points with your daughter, but you’ll also increase your man stock with your wife when she returns.
Huddle up with your kids tonight and ask: “What kind of handy things can I do better around the house?”

Increase these 3 aspects of your marriage…

Having more of the right things can make all the difference. In marriage, sometimes things don’t feel right and it’s because the relationship is lacking in a few key areas. No two marriages are identical, so we are always careful to not make broad generalizations, but from having communicated with many couples these past 15 years, both Kerry and I are convinced that most marriages would be a lot better off if they added more of the following three things:

1. Laughter
The amount and quality of laughter in your marriage is like the fuel needle on a car telling you how full your tank is. Think back to the beginning of your relationship, there’s usually all kinds of laughter, but as the stresses of life set in-children, job, bills- that laughter is often replaced with silence and sometimes even apathy. Life can be hard sometimes, and there are moments when crying together is the only appropriate response, but make laughter a priority and you’ll find that fun fuels a marriage! Go out and do your own “Mystery Science Theater 3000” at a local mall or during a dinner date. Rent your favorite comedy that you two shared laughs with when you were dating. Again, increase your laughter in your marriage.

2. Sex
Let’s be honest and transparent, most men measure the health of their marriage by the frequency of sex. Yes we know, there’s a lot more to a marriage than sex, but couples that place a priority on what happens in the bedroom tend to be a lot stronger in all aspects of the relationship. Don’t be afraid to schedule time for making love. It may sound like it takes the spontaneity and thrill away, but in our busy seasons of life, you’ve got to schedule everything that’s important or it usually won’t happen. There will still be plenty of opportunities to be spontaneous! So take out your calendar and schedule a couple of nights this week.  If you’re up to it or feeling adventurous, take the SExperiment Challenge…7 straight days of intimacy with your spouse.

3. Communication
Now, let’s be honest in this direction, most women measure the health of the relationship by the frequency of the communication (this does not say that men don’t care about communication or women don’t care about sex, but these patterns tend to hold true for most marriages.) Couples that place a priority on conversations and purposely reduce the distractions that keep them apart, tend to be a whole lot stronger. Set apart time each day to turn off the cell phones and carve out time to talk. Turn off the TV and ask some key questions of each other.  Take time to make eye contact and really, truly listen. For starters, ask your spouse to share with you, “What was one thing today that made you smile/you laugh/you upset/ you angry?”  Listen and don’t try to “fix” anything, just listen. Another great communication exercise is to ask each other to share some family/marriage goals. What is a goal in the next 4 weeks/3 months/6 months/year?
It’s very important that we take time to communicate with each other.

So, those are three key areas that we feel could strengthen a marriage. As I stated at the beginning, no two marriages are identical, so you may have another one to add to this list, or you may even disagree with our three.  Share with us your thoughts.