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

Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sleeping Together

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”  Song of Songs 2:15

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Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sleeping Together; they begin with inappropriate friendships. Friendship and emotional attachments with people of the opposite sex can spell danger for your marriage. This is where you husbands, must daily make a choice to protect your marriage. Wives, this is for you as well.  What do you chose?

 

Kerry and I have witnessed many couples who “innocently” will become emotionally attracted to a member of the opposite sex. They become “bored” with the relationship they are in and begin to truly believe that there is something better for them. Instead of investing into their own marriage by seeking counsel and choosing to focus on where they are falling short in the marriage, they instead begin to drift away-emotionally and physically, and especially-spiritually.

 

So here are 4 Warnings for you to be aware of in your marriage and heed immediately.

 

 

  1. Protect your marriage by avoiding private communications and intimate conversations with people of the opposite sex. Too often we see Social Media and Texting becoming a hidden area of spouses worlds. The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you and your spouse share the same pass codes and that at any given time, they have the right to look into your phone for emails, texts, social media posts and IM’s. You have nothing to hide from your spouse…Nothing.

 

 

  1. Beware of workmates who seem too concerned with your personal private life; those that tell you “let me know if you need anything.” That’s the beginning of an open invitation to draw closer to them instead of your spouse. Do not share intimate details with workmates about the trials and struggles in your marriage. If you need to talk to someone, find a marriage counselor, a pastor or find another couple that shares your values and the four of you take time to talk it out.

 

 

  1. 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. Enough said…

 

 

  1. Keep a healthy physical, social and emotional distance between you and people of the opposite sex. This is the most important facet to all of these warnings. Your workmates need to know without a doubt that you are married, that you are in love with your spouse, and nothing will come between you both. Make sure to have pictures up of your family and spouse. Wear your wedding ring. Smile when you talk about your spouse.

 

So in closing, I ask the same question…”What do you chose?”

 

 

Joe

Stay True Advice…Baylee’s list of roughly 55 things all teenagers need to know

We shared this 2 years ago when our youngest daughter graduated from high school. Since it’s that time of the year again, it seemed appropriate to share again.
Baylee, as well as the other graduating Seniors from our Youth Group, were asked by our Youth Pastor to share some wisdom and advice to those still in the Youth Group.  In her usual fashion, Baylee took this time to truly share what was on her heart and what she has learned these past 7 years as a Youth.  Both Kerry and I, as well as Pastor Bill, were so touched by her reflections on life and God, we just had to share.
Parents, go through the list. Whether you agree with it or not is not the issue, instead listen to the heart of a young lady who loves the Lord. You may learn something about your own child.
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Stay True Advice aka
A list of roughly 55 things that Baylee thinks is important for you all to know:
•Make it a point to say a prayer before you even step foot out of bed, I promise it’ll help your day.
•Never be friends with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable (for any reason, whether it’s your beliefs or actions or something they say.)
•Love yourself so much that when someone treats you wrong, you recognize it.
•Never underestimate Gods grace in the midst of your brokenness.
•Boys, girls are not machines that you put kindness coins into until sex falls out. The friend zone is not a real thing.
•Falling in love with yourself first doesn’t make you vain or selfish, it makes you indestructible.
•Boys, if you want to get a girls attention learn to compliment her on things OTHER than her beauty.
•Just because someone desires you, does not mean that they value you.
•Boys, If your not going to marry her take your hands off another mans future.
•Girls, If your not going to marry him take your hands off another womans future.
•Don’t act like someone else. Don’t waste time on pretending.
•If they won’t hold your hand, don’t let them hold your heart.
•If you aren’t walking with God maybe you aren’t right for the person that’s right for you.
•There is no way to follow Jesus without Him interfering with your life.
•When entrusted with a secret, keep it. I don’t care if you and that person are mortal enemies now, you still don’t tell a soul.
•It’s never too late for an apology.
•If you’ve made your point, stop talking.
•Learn to admit when you’re wrong.
•Be understanding. If someone has a different opinion than you, listen to them. Don’t just sit there ignorantly, plugging your ears and screaming your opinion to the world.
•Set goals. Set them high and learn to accomplish every goal you set for yourself.
•Alcohol does not make you cooler.
•Girls, never EVER send boys naked pictures. The boys asking for them are the boys that should not be trusted.
•Never beg someone to stay in your life. If they choose to leave, let them.
•Discover your passion and run with it.
•Dance a LOT!
•High school dances are overrated.
•Girls, never spend more than $7 for mascara.
•If you’re ever uncomfortable in a situation you’ve ended up in, call your parents. I promise they’d rather you be safe and they will forgive you.
•Go to as many concerts as possible.
•Just because you turn 18 does not mean suddenly you can do whatever the heck you want. If you’re under their roof, you’re still under their rules.
•The stupid cliche “you can’t be loved until you love yourself” is so false. Listen to what others love about you and learn to love that about yourself too.
•Stop underestimating yourself. If you’re walking with the Lord He’s got your back!
•Eating a whole tray of brownies while watching Grease with your best friend can and will help you feel better. Trust me, I’ve tested this one out multiple times.
•If your parents don’t like you hanging out with a certain person, listen to them. They are smarter than us.
•Comparing yourself to others is NEVER a good idea.
•If you can’t say it to their face, don’t say it to them over text.
•Changes don’t happen overnight.
•No one can live a perfect Christian life, but you CAN intentionally decide that next time you are faced with a choice, you choose the one that glorifies God.
•When somebody hurts you, don’t try to hurt them back.
•Learn the importance of calling your friends out if they are in sin. It may feel awkward but they need it, and you’re called to do it.
•Save your money every chance you get. Future you will be thankful.
•Your mental health is so important, and if you’re ever struggling please find someone you can talk to.
•Your value is NOT based on the number of likes you get on Instagram.
•You are going to mess up, and you’re going to regret some choices you’ve made. But you have to learn how to forgive yourself, and decide to grow from the situation and not let it destroy you.
•Reading a book is more fun than reading your Twitter feed.
•One day you’ll realize how much your parents have sacrificed for you. Thank them over and over and over.
•Like people’s selfies. It takes guts to post them.
•Every time before you read scripture, pray and ask God to reveal something new to you. He’ll blow your mind every single time!
•Take pictures. So so so many pictures.
•Don’t take yourself too seriously.
•Breakups hurt. And they are allowed to hurt. They suck and knock you on your back, but the key is not staying down on your back. Look to God, use Him to fill up and repair that broken heart.
•Never diminish other’s feelings.
•Deciding to live your life completely surrendered to God is the best decision you’ll ever make!
~Baylee Vivian – Class of 2015

3 Keys for Your Boys in A Sex Saturated Culture

 

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The first time I saw a Playboy magazine, I was about 12 years old and hanging out at a friend’s house. My buddy had covertly collected a secret stash of magazines under his bed. He had gone to great lengths to acquire the contraband, and his bedroom stash became the stuff of legend among our adolescent crew of hormonally-driven friends.

I had been brought up with parents and church leaders who taught me about the sacredness of sex and the dangers of objectifying women. Still, my raging hormones and weak willpower got the best of me and I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the airbrushed images. Those magazines became a “gateway drug” of sorts and ultimately led me down a dark road towards more graphic pornography.

I’ve been porn-free for a little over two decades, but I’m still living with some scars in my mind and my marriage. Thankfully, God’s grace and my wife’s love (plus some important accountability measures) have helped me escape from the grip of porn.

Kerry and I know we have a sacred responsibility to our children to teach them about sex and protect them from all the ways the misuse of sex can harm them. We raised two daughters; however, we also know what we were praying for and longing for in a man for our daughters.

So let’s share with you parents raising sons. The first step is obviously teaching your sons to have a deep and abiding respect for women, but respect alone isn’t enough to help them overcome the bombardment of visual temptations out there. If you’re looking for some practical ways to get started, here are three simple ways parents of boys can equip them to live with sexual purity in a sexually-saturated culture.

3 keys to raising boys in a sex-crazed culture:

1. Don’t just have “The Talk;” have many talks about sex and purity.

Instead of having one big talk about the birds and the bees like many of our parents did when we were growing up, open up an ongoing, healthy dialogue about issues related to sex and porn. Ask questions and encourage your son to ask you questions too. Be as transparent as possible in your responses. Kids don’t expect you to be perfect, but they need you to be real. If you want some practical tools to help guide you through those conversations, check out Jonathan McKee’s book, More Than Just the Talk.

2. Try to understand your son’s thought process.

If you’re a man raising boys, you already know all about the male thought process and mental wiring that makes visual temptation so powerful, but your son is living in a different world than ours, so keep the dialogue open to learn how he’s thinking. If you’re a mom and you’d like to understand more about how and why males react so instinctively to visual images of sex and sensuality, I’d encourage you to read the new book, “Through a Man’s Eyes: Helping Women Understand the Visual Nature of Men”, which is written by Craig Gross and Shaunti Feldhahn. The research in the book is eye-opening, and their insights made me think they’d somehow installed hidden cameras in my brain! This book and accompanying video series could help you understand your son—and your husband, too—on a new level.

3. Monitor every screen in your home.

The average kid sees porn by age eight. Sometimes, kids are exposed to porn on accident, and other times, they’re deliberately looking for it. Parents must be constantly vigilant by setting parental controls, downloading porn-blocking software, and using every tool at our disposal to protect our kids from unwanted images. Know where your kids are going online and let them know you’re watching. Tell them what’s off limits, but also follow up by inspecting. Kids aren’t usually as interested in what you expect as they are in what you’ll inspect. Remember this bit of advice, Don’t Overreact-Interact when you discover your son viewing pornography.

As you get started…

You may be intimidated by the thought of even beginning these conversations with your kids. That’s completely understandable. I think we all feel that way at first. This aspect of parenting is indeed one of the most difficult, but also among the most important. As parents, we must conquer or own fears and feelings of inadequacy to give our kids the help they desperately need.

Don’t feel like you have to do it alone, because there are many great resources to help you and your family. Don’t be passive in this process. Be present. Your kids don’t need you to have perfect answers to all their questions, but they need you to be present and transparent with them. If you’re willing to do those things, and to use the tools and resources at your disposal, you will navigate these complex issues with great success.

 

Joe & Kerry

10 Simple Ways to Love On Your Wife

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Husbands, please listen carefully… I want to share with each of you what basic, simple actions you can do to show love to your wife every day. Love doesn’t mean five-star restaurants or tropical island getaways. It’s the simple things that matter most.

While dream vacations and life milestones are important, it’s the simple things you do to show your wife how much you love her. Husbands, show love and respect to your Bride every day, and remind her why you were the best choice she’s ever made.

I would like to share with you 10 basic tips for showing every day love to your Bride. These are tried, tested, and true.

  • Introduce her with a compliment

    Saying something like “I’d like you to meet my beautiful wife,” or “Here’s my better half” goes farther than you may realize. Publicly recognizing her as your cherished spouse and best friend validates that you love her.

  • Embrace when you see her

    At the end of a long day conquering life’s battles and keeping the kids from climbing walls, you could both use a loving hug. Make a point of showing you missed her and are glad to be reunited. Stop what you are doing, make eye contact with her and hold her. A big kiss doesn’t hurt, either.

  • Ask her how you can help

    If this is a new one for you, she may think there’s a catch. With a sincere willingness to give a helping hand, ask how you can lift her burden and serve her. This gesture applies to more than yard work, but being in tune with her needs emotionally and spiritually, as well. Start becoming a student of your wife.  Watch, listen and learn. Sometimes she just needs a listening ear.

  • Let her pick the movie

    Or, if you’re playing games, let her choose. She needs to know her opinion counts in your marriage. Taking turns with these simple choices makes it easier to compromise on the bigger choices together.

  • Forgive her fast

    She forgot to put away the laundry, or accidentally broke your TV remote. So, she’s human, after all? With all that she does right, let it go when she makes mistakes.  Ask yourself, is this conflict worth our relationship?  After all, you’re no perfection yourself!

  • Hold her hand in public

    Some women are less inclined to public displays, but when appropriate, reach out and squeeze her hand. With the reassurance you’re proud she’s yours, she’ll walk a little taller, and smile a little bigger. Hold her hand when you pray. And hold her hand even when you are both in a fight. Holding her hand no matter what the situation speaks volumes to her heart.

  • Write her love letters

    You don’t have to be Shakespeare; the thought matters most here. Focus on specific things you love about her; the wrinkle in her nose when she laughs or how she finds joy in the little things. You can hide it in her makeup bag, under her pillow, or somewhere else she’ll discover it. She’ll be happily surprised and treasure your words for years to come.

  • Open the door for her

    Chivalry is not dead. Opening the door is a gentlemanly way to take care of your lady. She likely grew up wanting to be a princess. Be her prince!

  • Carve out time for consistent date night

    In an on-the-go digital world, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of kids, work, community, extended family and even church responsibilities. Set aside a weekly special night just for the two of you. It doesn’t need to be costly or extravagant. Just make an effort to court her, as you did when you were dating.

  • Let her fly

    As her partner for life, you are in the best position to help her reach her dreams.Dream for her as you pray for her. Words of encouragement are stronger than words of praise.

 

Husbands, begin by implementing one or two of these this week and then keep building on these actions until these all become a habit in your marriage.  I can truly guarantee you that your Bride will appreciate it and your marriage will be blessed.

Joe

5 Things Happily Married Couples Do Not Do…

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You know who these couples are. You see them out to lunch, laughing and comfortable in each other’s presence, giving each other their full attention. They are affectionate, even after years of togetherness. And they genuinely like each other; it’s as plain as the nose on your face. You can’t imagine them not being able to solve a problem, overcome a crisis, or reach a goal together.

Do you want what they have? Both Kerry and I do as well. We have spent years, not only watching and observing, but being students ourselves of our marriage and relationship.

Through these years, we have learned how to create a strong marriage so as to withstand everything from a financial crisis to a dumb fight over how to load dishes in the dishwasher.  But we’ve also learned what happily married couples don’t do from numerous examples all around us.

5 Things Happily Married Couples Don’t Do
Let us present to you and your spouse a  “stop to-do” list so as to begin to create a stronger marriage. However, don’t forget, this requires both of you in full participation…
They don’t let anyone else define their relationship
Their lifestyle, decisions, and goals are based on what they mutually want, not what they think looks good. They don’t bend to pressure to live a certain way, make a certain amount of money, or own certain things.
The life they create together is for their enjoyment and happiness, and they don’t seek approval from other people. Happily married couples know the only votes that count are from the people inside the relationship.
They don’t blame
This is a total time waster, and happily married couples know it. Instead of blaming each other or outside forces, they look at the problem and how they can solve it together. Did you get that, they solve the problem, crisis, conflict….TOGETHER. They know that blame is a circle of frustration because it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.
Happily married couples focus on solving problems instead of laying the blame.
They don’t look for hidden meaning
Reading between the lines and guessing games don’t appeal to happily married couples. They don’t create drama where there is none, and they don’t assign motives that aren’t there. They take their partner at their word, and they assume he or she is always coming from a good place. If there is confusion in what is said, they ask questions to clarify, not to inflame.

They don’t take each other for granted
Expecting your spouse to do something is okay; we all have jobs within a relationship. But not recognizing their contributions or thanking them can lead to taking each other for granted. People eventually feel like they are the only ones keeping the relationship alive, when that’s usually far from the truth.
Happily married couples say “please” and “thank you.” They acknowledge each other’s contributions to their relationship on a regular basis. They treat each other better than they do everyone else.
They don’t hide things from each other
This is so huge peeps! Secrets and lies will explode a relationship just like a ticking bomb. If your spouse can’t know what you’re doing, should you really be doing it?
Happily married couples know that it’s better to have a difficult conversation about negative spending, eating, or personal habits than it is to lie or try to conceal. A strong marriage can work through problems, but only if both parties know about them.
Here ya go: 5 Things Happily Married Couples Don’t Do.

Both Kerry and I have taken these 5 lessons to heart and intend to daily practice what we are NOT TO DO and replace it with what we are TO DO!

Continue to Redeem Back Your Marriage the way God created it to be!

 

Joe and Kerry