Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31, 2010

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

Leonard Ravenhill said, "Love is blind but marriage is an eye-opener."
There certainly is a degree to which we go into marriage blindly. But, by the same token we go into life blindly in the sense that we don't know what the future holds.
Acknowledging that fact the Psalmist understood the importance of being guided by One Who did know the future, his God. He turned to the Word of God to light the way to his future.
That sounds like a good idea.
The one who wrote this Psalm understood that we need direction from God for our next step and for the path ahead of us. Life is too important to spend it walking in the dark because first of all you can get lost, secondly you would not know that you are lost and if you did discover you were lost you would not be able to find your way back!
Ever walk into a dark room and feel along the wall for the light switch? You wouldn't want to live like that would you?
Can you imagine getting in your car at midnight to begin a trip to California and not turn your healights on? You would never do that. You might get out of town by the lights of the street lights and the other ambient lighting, but you would not get very far once you hit the darkness beyond. If you didn't hit something then someone else might hit you.
We need light! We need it in our individual path and we need it in our walk as husband and wife. Marriage is challenging enough without attempting it in the dark!
What better to light our way than the Word of God? And the Word of God tells us that God is Light. Light represents His wisdom and His knowledge and His Truth. We need that Word to be a lamp, or we would say, a flashlight to illuminate our next step. As we read His Word and listen to His voice, God will show us the way for our next step.
But we also need His light to illuminate our path, the course of our life and of our lives together. By knowing His Word and understanding it and obeying it we can know where our final destination will be. While God will not reveal all the details and events that will unfold, He can shine the light on our final destination.
And, His light is a searchlight that He shines in the inner recesses of our heart and mind to reveal anything that is not right. If there is darkness in us it will impair our ability to see the light before us. Knowing the right things and having the wrong things exposed is a crucial function of God's light.
You wouldn't drive in total darkness. Nor would you walk down a dark alley. So why would you walk blindly through marriage?
God has all the light you need! It is shining in His Word. It will be a flashlight and a headlight and searchlight to guide you safely and successfully.
Flip the switch!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30, 2010

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22
This week we move into the Final Four of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, one of the biggest events in the world of sports. Millions will tune into to watch the semi-finals and the championship games.
When I look at the four teams remaining in the chase for the championship I notice a common denominator - three of them have veteran coaches. Two of those coaches have won national championships before.
All four of these teams have tall and talented players. All of them have winning traditions. Both Duke and Michigan State have multiple final four appearances. But if you ask the one thing that separates these elite teams from the others you would have to point to Duke's Coach K, Michigan State's Coach Izzo, and West Virginia's Coach Huggins. They set themselves apart with their ability to coach teams to a championship level. It is not that their players are far more talented than the other teams, it is their ability to motivate and mentor those players into an effective team.
Tall, talented, teen-aged basketball stars don't naturally play championship level winning basketball. They are prone to play for themselves rather than for the team. It takes a Tom Izzo, or a Mike Krzyzewski, or a Bob Huggins to mold these talented kids into a smoothly functioning unit.
So, if it takes exceptional coaching to shape championship teams, what makes us think we can build strong marriages without help?
It is called accountability. It is called discipline. It is called coaching not because it creates talent but because it unifies and maximizes it. If we naturally did our best or automatically did everything we know we should do, we could go it alone. But let's be honest - we don't!
If it takes world-class coaches to mold world-class athletes into world-class teams what do think would help build world-class marriages?
So, why don't you have someone coaching or mentoring you?
Why are you going it alone?
Who do you know that you could ask to come along side of you and your spouse to help coach you and call out the best in your marriage?
When will you ask them?

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." I Corinthians 13:6

The problem with sin is that it complicates life. It complicates life because it confuses your understanding of truth. When the line gets blurred between truth and lies, life gets tough in a hurry.
That is exactly what happened with Adam and Eve and it has become the story of humanity. It is essentially the story of history.
So, fast forward to your marriage and our truth for the day reminds us that love is directly and intricately connected with truth. The question then becomes, "What is truth?"
Truth is a Person!
Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me." When Jesus made that statement He was not saying He is a concept or a system of beliefs, He IS TRUTH! Truth starts and ends in HIM! If you want to know truth you must know Him! Nothing is true apart from Him! So, when this verse says that love rejoices in truth it makes a lot of sense when you understand that truth is not a thing it is a Person! Isn't it much easier to love a person? Especially when that Person is Jesus! Want love in your marriage? Get Jesus! Want truth in your marriage? Get Jesus!
Truth is Purity!
Because truth is a Person and that Person is Jesus, you need to get Jesus. In order to get Jesus you must repent of sin and renounce it in your life. You must cleanse your heart and mind of moral impurity. I John 1:8-9 affirms this: "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." That's what I am talking about! Get rid of the impurity of sin and receive the purity of His righteousness. And righteousness is "rightness". Also, back up a couple of verses to I John 1:7 and it sheds more truth on truth: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." "Walk in the light". What is light but truth? As you walk in truth you walk in purity!
Truth Is Power!
When you have Jesus you have purity. When you have Jesus and purity you will have power. The power of truth! The power of holiness! The power of rightness!
Love rejoices in truth! Make that "truth" with a capital "T"!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010

Now that is crazy love! Cats are not supposed to love rats! Rats are supposed to be afraid of rats!

When I think that someone like Barbara would love someone like me – that is crazy love!

Remember when your children were born – especially that first one because you are unprepared for it – when they hand that like wrinkled, wet, pink, squalling thing to you and suddenly you are flooded with this CRAZY LOVE!

For this 40-Day Focus we have been talking a lot about love. What it is and what it isn’t and what it ought to be. We have been reading our Love Dare books and doing our LIFE Group studies. We have walked around and talked around this crazy thing called love but today I want to hit right at the heart of it. I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT CRAZY LOVE!

This love I am going to talk to you about is crazier than a cat loving a rat. It is crazier than Barbara loving me. It is even crazier and more intense than the love we have for our kids! This CRAZY LOVE is the unconditional love He has for us and wants us to have for our marriage partner.

Are you ready to hear about CRAZY LOVE?

“God commended His love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8


"Love is blind. Marriage is an eye-opener." --Leonard Ravenhill

Phillip Yancey describes grace in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace. He writes, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more—no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less—no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much an infinite God can possibly love.”
Does it help to think that God delights in you? Think about it! I don’t care how ugly you think you are. You are God’s delight. I don’t care how fat you are. You are God’s delight. Even if your marriage seems such a struggle. You are God’s delight. Even if you are divorced, your self-esteem wrecked. You are God’s delight. Even if you are so depressed your life feels like a black hole. You are God’s delight. Even if you threw a pity party and nobody showed up. You are God’s delight. God doesn’t abandon you because your business collapsed. You are God’s delight. God doesn’t leave you because you’re face is all wrinkled. You are God’s delight. Now, instead of wasting all that energy trying to prove to everybody that you are worth something, you can start with this idea that you already are somebody because we are the one in whom God delights!

The reason that God’s crazy love is so powerful is because love is not just what God does IT IS WHO HE IS! God loves because HE IS LOVE! It is His character! It is His nature! It is His DNA!

It is impossible for Him to NOT love you! For Him to not love you He would have to NOT BE HIM! And He is immutable – HE NEVER CHANGES. Since He never changes He will ALWAYS LOVE!

And His love is a CRAZY love! The word for His love is “agape” and there is really not English equivalent for it – so the closest I can come is CRAZY!


II. LOVE IS CRAZY PERSONAL – “……commended His love toward US….”

BUT HEY – the news gets better!

Many world religions teach a god who is a loving force or a cosmic warm fuzzy and we find love by becoming “one” with this – whatever is is……

Christianity teaches a personal love from a personal God Who wants to live in a personal relationship with every member of His creation.


KARL BARTH was a German theologian who dominated the theology of the 20th century. In 1962, six years before his death, he made his only visit to the United States. One night he lectured at a seminary in Virginia, and after the lecture he met with students in the coffee shop for some informal dialogue. Someone asked him if there was any way he could summarize his vast theological findings. A student asked, "What in your judgment is the essence of the Christian faith?" Barth paused for a moment. No doubt the others waited for some profound insights from this theological giant. They got their pens and paper out and were poised. Then Barth answered, "Yes, I can summarize in a few words my understanding of the Christian faith. Let me put it this way: "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, for the Bible Tells Me So."Needless to say, these students were dumbfounded. They expected some deep theological statement and instead heard that which Barth learned at his mother’s knees.I believe Barth was right. At the heart of the Christian gospel is this simple affirmation: JESUS LOVES ME!

Max Lucado: "If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen."


God’s love is powerful because He IS LOVE! It is not a concept, it is not a theory, it not a feeling or an emotion – it is HIM!

And it is even more powerful because IT IS PERSONAL. It is available for you to receive and experience! It is yours for the believing!


III. LOVE IS CRAZY PROVEN – “….while we were still sinners CHRIST DIED FOR US”

The young woman was married and had two beautiful children, but one day as she was standing over the sink, washing dishes, she thought, "There must be more to life than this."When her husband came home, he found a note she’d written and he began to weep. She would call him about once every week to check on the children, and he would always tell her of his great love for her and beg her to come home. She would always say no and hang up.Finally, he hired a private investigator to find her. He went to the apartment where she was staying, nervously holding a spray of flowers in his hand as he stood at the door. He had rehearsed over and over what he would say and he finally got up the nerve to knock on the door. She opened the door and he started to speak, but she suddenly began to weep and fell into his arms. She managed to say through her tears, "Let’s go home." Months after, when things were starting to heal, he finally asked her something that had been bothering him. "All those times I talked to you on the phone; I asked you to come back and you refused. Why did you come back now?" "Before," she started, tears in her eyes, "you were just telling me that you loved me. When you came, you showed me."

We knew that God loved us, but when He really wanted to prove it He sent His Son Jesus to lay down His life for us! God’s love got personally involved!
God has always loved us with a crazy love, but nothing proved it like when He sent Jesus!

In the “Fireproof” movie what was it that finally convinced Catherine that Caleb loved her? For over forty days he had tried to show kindness and consideration and patience – but she didn’t finally believe his love until he proved it by spending his boat savings on her mom’s medical equipment. That was crazy love!

He finally became convinced of her love when she cancelled the divorce papers.

Love is proved by actions. Crazy love has to be shown by crazy acts of loving sacrifice, God did that by sending His Son. To any fair-minded person there can be no doubt!

We have been camping out in Ephesians 5 this month and it talks a lot about God’s crazy love for The Church! He loves it like a bride! And then he tells us the most amazing thing – crazy actually. He tells us that we are to love our spouse just like God loves the church – WITH A CRAZY LOVE.





"The first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding. Jesus can still do a miracle with your wedding." --Kent Crockett

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? " Ecclesiates 4:10-11
Upon the completion of His creative masterpiece, God stood at the edge of Eden and scanned the birds overhead, the trees and flowering plants, the magnificent animals, and declared, "It is good!"
Talk about understatement! How about perfect?
Not quite!
So, what was not perfect about creation?
God stood with Adam and as all the animals filed past them Adam pronounced names for them. Adam must have noticed that the animals were passing him in pairs. God noticed, too. Because not long after proclaiming that creation was good, God declared it was not good. "It is not good that man should be alone!"
Even in the presence of God in the environment of Paradise, man was incomplete. So God did a little reconstructive surgery and from the flesh and bone of man He created "wo-man", as Adam named her.
God's perfect plan is for a man and a woman to complete one another. That is the essence of "oneness". Two people who have each become complete in God merge their lives and submit their wills and united their purpose in order to maximize their existence and glorify their Creator.
There are those who are called to single living. Some choose a life of celibacy to better serve God. Certainly that decsion is to be admired and honored. But for most, marriage is the model.
It is through striving to bring completeness to another person you discover the necessary disciplines of humility, surrender, submission, service, and sacrifice. Those are precisely the virtues needed to find oneness with God. So the Creator in His omniscence understood that marriage could serve as the perfect laboratory for the great experiment of pleasing God.
No wonder the next verse in this section of Ecclesiates says this: "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Here is the truth about relationships. Whenever two people come together to share life in an intimate setting one of two things will happen, either they will complete or they will compete.
Which characterizes your marriage? What are you doing to complete your partner? Where can you submit or surrender oe sacrifice or serve? What will you change? How will you complete your loved one today?

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

"And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:23-24
How many would say that it is important to know why you are doing what you do? Can I see a show of hands?
Now, I am painfully aware there are those moments when you walk into another room and can't remember why you came there. I occasionally have those moments. Maybe you have - or do. If you can relate to the feeling of that experience can you imagine living like that?
When speaking to Adam and Eve about their brand new relationship God says, "For this reason....". I think God wanted to make something clear. And it really wasn't intended for Adam and Eve since they didn't have a mother or father. God, at the very beginning of marriage as an institution, spoke to men and women through the ages to make an important point - "oneness is only possible if you first leave and then cleave".
Have you sensed the importance of this truth?
Yesterday we talked about God's marital math - one plus one becoming one. Here we see that this "oneness" process cannot happen unless it is preceded by a subtraction. Leaving is a subtraction - or at lease a separation. The word "cleave" infers that you are chasing after or pursuing someone".
Let me use this analogy to illustrate. God intended marriage to be like bungee jumping without the elastic cord.
Who would do that?
Depends on what you are jumping into and what you are trusting to catch you.
I have seen people jump off the bridge over the Zambezi River, at the foot of majestic Victoria Falls, that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is hundreds of feet down to the river and there river is filled with rocks and crocs.
Why would they do that?
Because they are tethered to a strong elastic cord that will stretch to its limit and snap them back up to safety. Hundreds have jumped and paid good money to do it and everyone has lived to tell about.
Here's the point, God is saying at the very beginning of marriage as an institution that marriage should be just like jumping off the bridge with no bungee cord because you know you are falling into the unconditional love and grace of God.
Let me ask you this, "If you and your spouse were free-falling from your previous source of security into a new an untested one do you think you would cling tightly to each other?"
That is what God is talking about! Marital oneness requires two people to literally take a leap of faith from their previous security into a new dependence on God clinging to each other while they fall into the grace of God.
Could it be that you aren't cleaving because you aren't leaving?
Could it be that you aren't leaving because your security is rooted in the past and not in Him?
What do you need to leave in order to cleave?
Take the leap!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." Ephesians 5:31

I was never very good at math but I am sure that one plus one equals two.

However, in God's marital math it is not the case. According to His factoring the proper answer is one plus one should equal one.

From the beginning when God created Eve to be a helpmate for Adam, it was the purpose of God for man and wife to enjoy the same unity of spirit that is enjoyed by the Trinity where Father plus Son plus Holy Spirit equal one.
So, how can this happen?
Become one in purpose.
If a husband and wife are to get the math right in their marriage they cannot disagree on the purpose for their marriage and their lives. God called them to Himself and then He called them together to enjoy Him as a couple. The purpose of a Godly marriage is to worship, serve and honor God better as a couple than either could individually. Are you and your partner united around His purpose?
Become one in priorities.
In order to serve God in unity, a couple must share the same priorities. Priorities are the ordering of your values - what is most important to you. You will make your decisions according to your priorities and if you have differing priorities how can you agree? Actually, this is an important consideration prior to marriage. That is a conversation that should be had often during the courting days. The Bible says, "How can two walk together except they agree?" Priorities and purpose are two of the most basic levels of agreement. And, if you share a central purpose your priorities are more likely to agree.
Become one in passion.
Passions are powewrful. Passions arise from an intense positive feeling toward something or someone. Passions determine where your heart and mind will be aimed. Here is a fact about passions, they are so powerful that if you don't control them they will control you! They are so strong that if a married couple do not share the same passions their hearts and minds will drift apart. The consuming passion for any godly marriage must be knowing God, obeying God and serving God. God's Word must fuel the passions of a married couple. A shared passion for God is the strongest glue a marriage can have. Become united in your spiritual passion and your passion for one another will go to a new level.
Become one in perspective.
A final area of agreement should be beliefs. For two to become one they must share the same essential beliefs about God, about the Bible, about church doctrine, and about how those beliefs are expressed in attitudes and actions. In I Corinthians 7, Paul talks about the importance of being united with a believer and prohibits being "yoked with unbelievers". Again, these are conversations that should happen during the courting and dating process. You should not enter a relationship as intimate as marriage thinking you can compromise with your partner's differing beliefs or even worse, planning to change their beliefs. Differing core beliefs should be a deal-breaker.
Unity in marriage is God's design for a couple in order to share in their joy and multiply their joy. You will have a great chance of realizing that goal if you share a common purpose, common priorities, common passion, and common perspectives.
If these important factors don't add up in a marriage, there will be subtraction happening in the relationship that could eventually result in a painful division.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24, 2010

"with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men," Ephesians 6:7

One of the things that makes golf so difficult is that it is so counter intuitive. Everything that would seem to make sense about golf is wrong. It would seem like the harder you swing the club at the ball the further it should go. Not. It would seem that the harder you grip the club the better hold you would have on it the better you should be able to control the shot. Untrue. If you really concentrate all your energy and focus on exactly how you want to execute each shot it should help you play better. Nope!
Golf is a matter of physics. You swing the club in an arc around the body in the direction of the target at a smooth, relaxed, rhythmic speed and let the ball get in the way. If you can do that consistently in a confident frame of mind you can be a good golfer.
Much about being a Christian goes against our nature. Since marriage is a microcosm of the Christian relationship, it too is counter intuitive. If we do what comes naturally we will end up lost and lonely. If we merely "follow our hearts" we will end up in divorce court and Hell. Some might think they are the same thing but they are not.
The human heart longs to be served. So the natural thing is to seek relationships that will serve our needs. We only serve to the extent we have to in order to assure we get served. That self-centered orientation is a prescription for disaster in any close relationship.
So, the Bible teaches us and Jesus demonstrated that the way to lasting, loving and life-giving relationships is to serve. Serve God and in His grace serve others.
It is through His humble service and sacrificial death on the cross that we are able to be saved and brought into relationship with God. What makes you think that you can have an intimate and meaningful relationship with God or anyone else without sacrificially serving?
You can't.
How will you seek God today? How will be choose to serve Him? What sacrificial thing will you do to die to self and come alive in Him? How will you serve your spouse today?
Don't let it be about you today because - it isn't.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010

"He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our life for our brothers." I John 3:16
Sacrifice is a value we honor, except when we have to do it.
We love the fact that Jesus sacrificed for us. Thanks for dying on the cross!
We dig it when our spouse makes a sacrifice to enrich our life or make it easier.
When it comes to sacrifice I would say, "I am all for it, but you go first!"
What have you given up to make your spouse's life easier? What have you suffered to make them safer, or more secure, or less anxious?
What are you willing to do?
Do you even know what they need?
How can you promise to share the rest of your life with a person and not be willing to make some sacrifices for them? Why would you marry someone that you are not willing to sacrifice for?
Your salvation cost Jesus something - His all!
A satifying marriage will cost you something - your life!
Were you expecting to coast through fifty years of matrimony with a one-way ride?
Marriage requires blood, sweat and tears - yours! Marriage requires sacrifice and you go first! If you aren't willing to through your heart in the game you are just playing a head game. Your partner deserves more than that.
Today is a day of sacrifice! Your loved one needs you to lay down your life for them.
It took a major sacrifice you save your soul. I will take major sacrifices to save your marriage.

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." I Thessalonians 5:11
Do you find encouragement from your marriage?
Are you breathing courage into your spouse by the way you treat them?
Marriage is intended to be the most "encouraging" human relationship you have, second only to your walk with the Lord.
Definitions of encouragement :

1. give somebody hope or confidence: to give somebody hope, confidence, or courage
2. urge somebody to do something: to motivate somebody to take a course of action or continue doing somethingencouraged me to finish the course
3. foster something: to assist something to occur or increaseencourage new solutions to traffic problems
How do you encourage someone? What should you do to breathe courage into a spouse? Allow me to suggest several things:
1) Pray
Pray for and with your spouse. Let them hear your supplications and intercessions for them.
2) Obey
Know what the Bible requires of you and lovingly invest that into your spouse.
3) Play
Have fun with your spouse. Do things with them that they enjoy. Laughing together is one of the best things you can do. Laughter and joy knit your souls together.
4) Display
Show you love in every action and attitude. Express your affection and devotion daily.
What will you do today to make your home like the "Home On the Range"? You know, "where never is heard a discouraging word......"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21, 2010

Here we are already in the fifth week of our 40-Day Spiritual Focus during Lent. We have been learning about relationships, especially the marriage relationship.

Let’s Review What We Have Learned This Far:


These are the moving parts that go into growing and healthy relationships. When these are in place a marriage can hum like a well-tuned engine – BUT THERE IS ONE IIMPORTANT COMPONENT MISSING. That is forgiveness and that is what we will talk about and consider this morning. What motor oil is to a finely tuned engine forgiveness is to a relationship.

“Marriage is the union of two good forgivers” – Ruth Bell Graham

Fortunately for me – I am married to a gracious forgiver!

Let me ask you a question, “Which part of the pencil do you typically wear out first?” How many would say the eraser? Me, too. If so, you appreciate the importance of forgiveness.

"Forgiveness means that we are not going to allow the experiences of the past to dominate our future"

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

So, how does this forgiveness thing work in relationships? Will it work for me?

GET FORGIVENESS – “just as in Christ God forgave you”

You can’t give what you don’t have. The Bible is abundantly clear that you can’t forgive if you haven’t been forgiven. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?

Recognize Your Need - “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” – Romans 3:23

Request It - “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:8-9

Receive It - “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

In the video clip from the movie, Caleb was only able to extend grace and forgiveness to Catherine AFTER he had received it for himself.

If your marriage is going to make it you are going to need be forgiving – BUT YOU CAN”T GIVE WHAT YOU DON”T HAVE……….

GIVE FORGIVENESS – “forgiving each other”

“Brad, I have heard you talk about these marriages and this forgiveness this – that sounds really hard! How can I do that?”

Make Sure You Have It

Make Sure You’ve Given It To Yourself.

Commit To Three Decisions:

Responsibility Over Rights – I Will Waive My Rights & Do Right Thing

Release Over Retaliation – “Forgiving Is Forgoing” – Let It Go – Let Gof

Reconciliation Over Recompense – Fix Relationship Not Blame

In June 1973, Marietta, a homemaker from Detroit and her husband Bill, took their five children to Three Forks, Montana for a vacation. Their last night at that camp, in the middle of the night, Susy, their little 7 year old daughter was abducted from her tent.

Marietta's initial numbness and denial were soon replaced by the realization that something really terrible had happened. Desperation ensued and while the days were filled with a sense of helplessness, the nights for Marietta became filled with anguish and nightmares about Susy's pain and fear. As the days went by, Marietta became more and more affected, to the point when all she could feel was profound anger and hatred against the kidnapper. One night, after a long struggle between her rage and hatred and her religious faith, Marietta realized that her resentment would eventually destroy her and her family if she let them. Drawing strength from her faith, she reached a decision and made a commitment to “work toward an attitude of forgiveness,” as she later stated. She did, and began to also pray for the kidnapper. After five weeks
of fruitless searches, Marietta and her family had nothing left to do besides going home.

On the first anniversary of Susy's disappearance, at the same time of the night, Marietta received a disturbing call from the kidnapper. He introduced himself as the one who had taken Susy away from her family, and began almost toying with Marietta about the whole event. While on the phone, Marietta managed to remain calm and in control, and was able to keep the kidnapper talking for over an hour. Early in the conversation, Marietta asked him, “What can we do to help you?” and told the man on the other end of the line that she had been praying for him since the day he took her daughter.

The man was later identified as 25 year-old David Mayerhoffer; however, the FBI did not have sufficient evidence to incriminate him. They believed that only one thing could resolve the case: a strong female confronting him with his crime.

So, the FBI asked Marietta if she was willing to go to Montana to confront him. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to go to confront in person, face to face, the very man who had kidnapped my daughter. Marietta agreed and did so. Although in the conversation David did not incriminate himself, he was now shaken and scared. Not too long after their encounter, David made another call to Marietta in the attempt to divert the investigation, and told Marietta that she would never see her daughter alive again. He was eventually arrested, and shortly after he confessed each crime he had committed, showing no apparent emotion. After his confession, David committed suicide in his prison cell.

Although David had abducted, abused and murdered her daughter, and had even tormented her with those phone calls, Marietta was still able to forgive him. How could that be? During an interview, Marietta stated, “It is not that forgiveness means condoning what happened. I will never condone what happened to my little girl. And it doesn't mean that I forget it, because I can never forget what happened to my little girl. It is precisely in fact that you can't forget that you have to forgive so that it doesn't do you in.” Marietta forgave David, but did not do so blindly. She did it fully aware of what David had done. She did not just forgive, she also reached out to his mother Eleanore, went to his grave to bring flowers there together with Eleanore and provided comfort to her in her grief. According to Eleanore, at a time when nobody wanted to talk about her son and what he had done, Marietta was the only one that had reached out to her.

Marietta later explained her reasoning in the course of the same interview: “Together we were able to grieve as mothers who had lost their children.

I hoped that it would help her to know that I had forgiven [her son], and that I understood how sick he was.”

The interview concluded with a comment from Marietta that really made me think, “Forgiveness is hard work, and a lot of times people think that forgiveness is for wimps. I would say then that they haven't tried, because I know how difficult it is. But it's worth it, and it means being able to move on with your life, and it means being set free of the past.” Through her tragedy, Marietta had learned the true meaning of forgiveness, and what Jesus meant when He told us to love even our enemy.

HOW DID SHE FORGIVE? - She Took Responsibility – She Releases – She Reconciled – IN OTHER WORDS – She Responded Like Christ.

GUARANTEE FORGIVENESS – “Be kind and compassionate to one another”

Because Of Faith

Christians are told to “turn the other cheek”. We are to forgive 70 x 7. But our verse says we are to forgive “as in Christ God forgave us”. How does He forgive us – “if we confess our sins…..”

Because Of Friendship

Our relationship is more important than my rights…..

Because I Will Need Forgiveness




Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20, 2010

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." Romans 2:1
Across the river from our beautiful city of Fredericksburg is the home of a real "stand up guy"!
George Washington spent his formative years growing up on the other side of the Rappahannock River at a place called "Ferry Farm". It is a significant historic place, as you might imagine. This is the location for the famous story about the cherry tree. Supposedly, his father discovered that a cherry tree had been leveled on the farm and knowing that young George had recently received a new hatchet he was a prime suspect. When confronted by his father George is reported to have answered, "I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the tree!"
While I have been told by a local historian that there are or never have been any cherry trees in this area and the incident probably didn't happen, it has survived through the ages because it matches what we know of George Washington's character. He took responsibility for his actions and always did what was right.
Many historians call George Washington the "indespensible man". His honestyl and strength of character were exactly what our young nation needed as it got its footings in the world.
We could use men like that today! I want to be a man like that - but it is hard. It is hard to be wrong and it is even harder to admit that your wrong and it is especially hard to admit your wrong to your spouse!
It is so easy to find excuses or fix the blame or find some way to weasel out.
But, good relationships like strong nations are formed on a foundation of honest character. America became great because its founders were great and stood on great truths with great courage. If they had been dishonest or politically expedient we would have ended up like many other mediocre nations. We would have never become the exceptional nation we became. These several dozen brave patriots pledged their "lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor" to build a nation on Godly values. They were all "stand up" guys.
My wife needs me to be a "stand up" guy. My God needs me to be a "stand up" guy. My own conscience needs me to be a "stand up" guy. I need to take responsibility for my thoughts, my desires and my actions. When I get it right I must be humble. When I am wrong I must be honest and take responsibility. It is a matter of trust. Trust breeds respect. Love is built on trust and respect. If I expect my wife to trust me, respect me and love me - I must master this personal responsibility thing.
I need to own my failures, admit my faults and fall on the mercy of my wife when I am wrong. When that happens, I will win her with my honesty and she will win me with her graciousness.
The old slogan I learned growing up said, "If it is to be it's up to me"!
When it comes to a strong marriage and healthy relationships it is largely up to me. I will be honest even when it hurts! I will be a "stand up" guy taking a stand for what is true and what is right - every time!
Hey guys - want to stand with me?

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19, 2010

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14

A famous British general once told John Wesley, "I never forgive!" To which Wesley replied, "Then, Sir, you had better never sin."

Three of the sweetest, most welcome and healing words in the universe are, "I forgive you!"

Those words heal the one to whem they are spoken but the also bring relief and healing to the one who speaks them!

When was the last time someone let you off the hook? Is there someone you need to forgive?

Remember a time when someone spoke those welcome words to you? Remember how good that felt?

What does it take to become a forgiver?

First, be forgiven!

Forgiven people are the only ones who can forgive. You can't offer what you don't have.

So, how do I get forgiveness? Receive it as a gift!

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:8-9

You can have forgiveness when you realize you need it and honestly, humbly ask for it. Have you done that?

So, how do I forgive someone else?

Once you have received forgiveness you have received the love and grace of God. Once you have been forgiven you have the presence of Christ in your life. With His presence and in His grace you CAN forgive. In fact, you are required to do so.

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiven people are able to forgive.

Third, forgiving becomes a way of life for forgiven peope.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

Being forgiven changes you. Receiving Christ changes you. Extending grace to others in forgiveness changes you. And it also changes others through you!

Imagine what a world this would be if forgiveness was the rule rather than the exception. Think how great it would be if everyone could receive forgiveness. Think how different it would be if all those who received forgiveness forgave others. How freeing would that be?

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you."—Unknown

Have you received God's forgiveness?

Have you forgiven yourself?

Who else do you need to forgive? Are any unresloved issues with your spouse?

Freedom could come to your home today with just one act of forgiveness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." I John 2:15
Take this verse at its face value and you may ask, "Why should I not love the world? The world is a beautiful place! Haven't you seen the Blue Ridge Mountains in Fall? Have you not seen the cherry blossoms in the Spring?"
The Apostle John is not telling us we shouldn't love the planet Earth. That is not the world he is referring to, he is referring to "the cosmos" or the false world system that the Enemy has established to appeal to our sinful nature. For everything that God has created, Satan, the god of this world has established a counterfeit to rival God.
God envisioned a personal relationship with every member of His glorious creation. But the Devil has set up religions to rival the true relationship God desires. Religion is easier because it can be measured in term of rules and can be accomplished by human effort. Relationship requires a supernatural spiritual transformation of your heart and mind. That can only happen by submitting to God. For centuries religion has hindered the development of true Christian faith.
God's design was for people to live in faith and obedience to Him. The ultimate aim of man is to know, love and glorify God. But Satan set up a system based on the pride of man aimed at glorifying man and opposing God. It traces back to the original sin of Adam and Eve when they partook from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Theology is opposed by science. Training in faith is replaced by humanistic education. The incredibly amazing Creation account is countered by the "theory" of evolution.
God deals in the world of faith through the spiritual nature. The enemy operates against the spirit in the physical realm. God deals in surrender and obedience, the enemy appeals to the pride and independence of human nature.
Therefore, when we talk about living in love for a spouse to whom we have committed ourselves for life, we are talking about two people entering into a convenant relationship between a man and a woman and their God. God defines that as love. But the "cosmos" promotes a "love" that seeks to use and exploit another person in order to please yourself. What the world calls "love" God would call "lust". Lust is driven by selfish desires seeking to satisfy its physical needs.
Lust is an unhealthy substitute for real love. It harms others and makes intimacy impossible. It separates and isolates people from one another, from their God, and even from their own best selves. Since lust is insatiable it fosters a dissatisfaction that drives discontent and makes you miserable. The harder you lust the emptier you become. It is how millions of people live in our world today.
Why would you live in lust when God offers His love? Why would you degenerate into frustration and alienation when you can live in the freedom and blessing of a relationship with your Creator?
Don't take my word for it. Try out God's love for yourself. Renounce your lustful desires and receive His love. If you find it doesn't bring you peace, freedom and satisfaction you can return to your lustful ways. What do you have to lose?
Aferall, the Bible says, "God so lusted the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Right?
Of course, not! God loves and He desires and deserves your love. What's lust got to do with it?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010

" always protects....." I Corinthians 13:7

Protecting what you love is instinctive, it is a reflex. You don't have to be told or reminded to protect something you love.
So it is no surprise that in this great verse that gives such a clear description of love reminds us that love protects.
There is no greater love than God's love and throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament there are many examples of how God protected His people in powerful and dramatic ways. One of the ways we know He loves us is because of how He protects us.
So, part of the Love Dare is to protect your spouse. There is no doubt that you would step up and protect your marriage partner if they were threatened physically. Try to hurt me and Barbara will scratch your eyes out.
But there are other equally important ways to protect your spouse and I want to highlight several of those.
Protect the relationship. Be ever vigilant against anything that would diminish your relationship with your spouse. Attacks can come from outside the relationship or from within. Guard your own heart and mind against attitudes, thoughts, habits, or distractions that threaten your emotional connection with your spouse. Stand guard! Pray for your loved one. Pray with them.
Protect your romance. This is part of your relationship but it is a special part that requires special attention. If you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone in a committed initimate relationship you might as well love it! Keep your relationship special. Reserve the most special place in your heart for your spouse and jealously guard that place. Stand guard over your affections and don't allow them to wander or stray. Continue to court your spouse and keep the fun in your friendship. Be friends first and lovers second. When something special or exciting happens to you, let them be the first one you share it with. Work as hard to keep your spouse as you did to win them.
Protect their reputation. If you offend Barbara, you offend me. If you insult her I am insulted. We are one. I have taken a vow to honor her and part of honoring her is protecting her honor. Say what you wish about me, I can take it. Say something negative about her and we'll have a problem. I hold her in high esteem. If you don't, we'll never be good friends. That just how it works.
Love protects. It protects the relationship, it protects the romance, and protects the reputation. If you don't protect those important things you don't really love. You protect what you love.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16, 2010

"I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD." Hosea 2:20

I would assume that by this point in the Love Dare you are discovering that God has a considerably different view of marriage than we commonly do. Maybe that has rocked your world. Maybe it needs to.
But, if you are a Christian and you desire a Christian marriage, He is the One you must pay attention to. Afterall, He is the One Who invented marriage, designed the concept and makes the rules. So, are you going to believe Him or are you going to try to wing it?
If you remember one of the last phrases in the marriage vow goes something like this, "....and thereto I pledge you my faith." Easy to say, not so easy to do. So, what is it that you are really pledging when you make that promise?
In short, you are pledging to love your partner with a faithful love. You are promising to be faithful to them and worthy of their faith in you. Your partner promises the same. Faithfulness is a commitment designed to form the bedrock foundation upon which to build a marriage.
Marriage is too hard for partners to be continually worrying about whether they can trust each other or not. That should be a given.
What does it mean to give someone your faith? In a world where half of the people grow up under at least one parent who has not kept faith in their marriage, what does God expect from me and what do I owe my spouse?
When I pledged my faith to Barbara, what did I promise? What should she expect from me and what am I to offer her?
Here's what I think it means:
I think to be faithful means I must be filled with faith, faith in God through Jesus Christ. How can I do less?
Being faithful means that I maintain a faith in Barbara. I must always believe in her worth, her value, her goodness, her loyalty and faith in me. I must never allow myself to doubt her or question her honor.
My faithfulness means that I must return those same virtues to her. I must be loyal and good and true to the vows I made. I am responsible to discipline my thinking and shape my values according to my faith in Christ. It is my duty to be a much like Christ as I can be.
Faithfulness means that the way I live with her and love her should make it easier for her to not only maintain faith in me but to have faith in Christ.
To be a faithful partner means that my faithfulness to her is not dependent on her faithfulness to me. No matter how she treats me or responds to my love, I am to offer her a faithful love.
A faithful love is love without a question mark. Faithfulness is love with a period. With God's help it can be love with an exclamation mark!
Will you be faithful today?

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15, 2010

"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
I grew up loving God. I have been a believer for 53 years.
Even though I have never seen God He is more real to me that any person I know. I knew intellectually He was the one thing I needed most of all.
But, there was a time in my life when it seemed I had lost just about everything that mattered to me. I was devastated and complained to God, "I have lost everything! All I have left is You!" This was in the early hours of a sleepless night as I was having a pity party. God broke the silence when He answered, "What else do you need?"
That was a turning point in my life. I went from knowing God to KNOWING GOD! When I was at the point of really understanding God was all I had - I discovered God was all I needed.
Even though I was a believer. Even though I was a pastor. I lived with the silent and mistaken assumption that what I needed for happiness was God plus....... What I discovered was that God IS the plus. True happiness is God - period! Living under the assumption that God plus anything will bring happiness elevates the plus to equal status with God. That sounds like idolatry to me. God isn't really God until He is unrivaled in your life.
Once I discovered that God IS ALL I NEED and once I committed to become complete in Him, I understood that everything else is a bonus!
What is your formula for happiness?
Complete this equation: God + _______ = Satisfaction.
Whatever you write into that blank - a person, a possession, a relationship - whatever, commit that to God and discover that there is no plus there is only a period! When you come to the place where you discover God is all you really want that is the place you will discover He is all you need!
Ready to REALLY know God?

March 14, 2010


WEEK FOUR – “Confronting Love Leaks” II Corinthians 10:4-5
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." II Corinthians 10:4-5

Growing up in a cold weather climate I learned the hard way that heat escapes through your head. If you cover your head with a stocking cap and keep your head warm your whole body will stay warmer. But I was too vain to where a cap so I stayed cold in order to look cool.

Do you have some love leaks in your life? Are there careless thought patterns that are allowing the love and romance to leak out of your life? I want to talk about that this morning as we continue our 40-Day Focus on “Heating Up Your Home Life”. God created you and wired you to need an intimate spiritual relationship with Him and an intimate personal emotional and sexual relationship with a spouse. And He wired you so that the sexiest part of your body is your mind. Your ability to enjoy fulfilling intimate relationships with God and with your spouse is largely dependent on how successful you are in controlling your thoughts,

Turn In Your Bible To II Corinthians 10:4-5



Self-Centeredness – Me First! My Needs Matter Most!
Resentment - You Are Not Meeting My Needs/Expectations!
Anger – You Hurt Me And I Will Get Even!
Unforgiveness – I Can’t Get Over What You’ve Done To Me!
Negativity – Constantly Focusing On What’s Wrong With Them




Substance Abuse

Stats About The Power Of Pornography:

Revenue Generated By Pornography Worldwide – (2006 Statistics) - $97 Bil.
Average Number Of Monthly Visits To Adult Websites Worldwide – 72 Million
Percentage Of Men 18-34 Who Visit A Porn Website Monthly – 70%
Percentage Of Internet Porn Involving Children – 20%
Divorces In Which Excessive Internet Pornography Was A Factor – 50%+
Percentage Of Families Who Say Pornography Is A Factor In Their Home – 47%
Average Ages Of First Exposure To Pornography – 11 Years Old
Percentage Of Children Aged 8 To 16 Who Have Viewed Pornography Online – 90%

The most used websites on the net are pornography websites.

Talk About How I Realized Porn Is A Problem:

Pastors Who Confided In Me……
One Of My First Ministerial Meetings In Princeton…..
Personal Knowledge Of The Power Of Its Temptation…..


Casualness – “It’s Not That Bad, I Can Handle It”
Here's the testimony of someone who thought he could handle it....

“Not everyone who sees porn will become addicted to it. Some will just come away with toxic ideas about women, sex, marriage and children. That kind of damage is bad enough. And porn isn't the only ingredient in addiction. Usually, those who become addicted have some kind of emotional opening that allows the addiction to really take root. The porn companies don't mind at all if you become completely addicted to their product. It's great for business. An addicted customer keeps coming back for more. You don't have to shoot up any drug with a needle to get addicted to porn — your body will make its own drugs just by looking at the pictures. Dr. Victor Cline says that sex and pornography can be a more difficult addiction to break than cocaine”.

Five Stages of Addiction

1.Early exposure. Most guys who get addicted to porn start early. They see the stuff when they are very young, and it gets its foot in the door.

2.Addiction. Later comes addiction. You keep coming back to porn. It becomes a regular part of your life. You're hooked. You can't quit.

3.Escalation. After a while, escalation begins. You start to look for more and more graphic porn. You start liking porn that would have disgusted you when you started.

4.Desensitization. Eventually, you start to become numb. Even the most graphic, degrading porn doesn't excite you anymore. You become desperate to feel the same thrill again but can't find it.
5.Acting out sexually. At this point, many men make a dangerous jump and start acting out sexually. They move from fantasy images of porn to the real world.

“When I personally got to the "acting out phase," I started fantasizing about what it would be like to actually rape a woman. I finally tried it one night when I saw a woman who "fit" the scenario that porn had taught me to look for. I was lucky. Very lucky. I didn't go through with it. After being reported, arrested and spending some time in jail, I finally was able to begin the process of weeding out the lies in my life that porn had put there.”

Carelessness – “I Deserve It Because My Needs Are Not Being Met”

Pornography communicates its own "truths" about women. Unfortunately, they're all lies:

1.Lie: Women are less than human. The women in Playboy magazine are called "bunnies," making them cute little animals or "playmates," making them a toy. Porn often refers to women as animals, playthings, or body parts. The idea that women are real human beings with thoughts and emotions is played down.

2. Lie: Women are a "sport." Some sports magazines have a swimsuit issue. This suggests that women are just some kind of sport. Porn views sex as a game and in a game: You have to win, conquer or score.

3. Lie: Women are property. It's common to see pictures of the slick car with the sexy girl draped over it. The unspoken message is, "Buy one, and you get them both." Hard-core porn carries this even further. It displays women like merchandise in a catalogue, exposing them as openly as possible for the customer to look at. It's not surprising that many young men think that if they have spent some money taking a girl out, they have a right to have sex with her. Porn tells us that women can be bought.

4. Lie: A woman's value depends on the attractiveness of her body. Overweight or less attractive women are ridiculed in porn. They are called dogs, whales, pigs or worse, simply because they don't fit into porn's criteria of the perfect woman. Porn doesn’t care about a woman's mind or personality, only her body.

5. Lie: Women like rape. "When she says no, she means yes" is a typical porn scenario. Porn teaches men to enjoy hurting and abusing women for entertainment.

Callousness – “It Makes Me Feel Good And That’s All That Matters”


Confront It – I Have A Problem And It Has Control Over Me
“When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15

Confess It – I Have Sinned Against God And My Spouse And I Am Sorry
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:8-9

Commit It – In God’s Strength I Will Overcome This
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psa. 119:9-11

Correct It – I Will Change My Thinking And My Behavior
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 - $30/yr. - $4.50/month - Free - $50/yr. Cannot Be Bypassed
SafeEyes – creates internet logs, and can call or email spouse to alert them to your activity – available for pc/mac/mobile phone – - $50/yr.

A Couple Of Websites To Help With Accountability:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” II Corinthians 10:4-5

“I made a covenant with my eyes to never look at a girl lustfully” Job 31;1







Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13, 2010

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
You were created to love and to be loved. You will never find emotional or spiritual fulfillment until you know you are.
Since you have already established that loving others unconditionally is above your pay grade, our thought for today is very important. If you are going to love as God created you to love you will have to accept His Love Dare!
In the verse today God is saying, "I dared to love you by sending Christ, and I dare you to receive my love!"
Will you dare to receive God's love by receiving His Son? Will you enter into a love relationship with Him by faith? Will you choose to allow Him to love through you?
At this halfway point of the 40 Day Focus, will you make sure you can do the deal?
CONFESS! You don't have a love problem you have a sin problem. Your sin separates you from a relationship with a holy God and keeps you from experiencing His love. If you have never confessed to God that you are a sinner, you are remaining isolated from His love. Consider what God's Word promises - "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:8-9
REPENT! The evidence that you truly understand your sin problem is that you will feel a sense of sorrow over your sinfulness and you will have a desire to turn from your sin. The word "repent" gives the image of a "u-turn". Repenting means that you stop running away from God's love and begin running toward it! "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." Acts 17:30
BELIEVE! Once you understand your spiritual situation and your inability to save yourself then you need to turn to God for salvation. You will need to believe that Jesus is the only Way to God and that there is no other way of salvation. Here's what the Bible promises, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." John 3:36
RECEIVE! God's love is a precious gift. As a gift you don't earn it or purchase it but you receive it. God offers it to you and you take it from Him. The whole point and proof of how much God loves you is that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that the penalty of your sins could be paid by Him. So, since He purchased the gift, you can receive it. Will you? Here's what the Bible says, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12
How do you receive this gift? By praying to God and saying something simple and sincere like, "Dear God, I need your love. I understand that I am a sinner and my sin separates me from your love. I confess that I am a sinner and I am sorry for my sin. I intend to turn from my sin and with your strength I will live for you. By faith I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and I receive Him as my Savior. Come into my life. Change my heart. Transform my mind. Let me experience your great love! In Jesus Name, amen."
That is God's Love Dare! He dares you to enter into His love and allow Him to love through you!
I double-dog dare you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." I John 4:7

It would be nice to be able to do a flying 360 slam dunk. But that's impossible for me.
How great would it be to play Michael Jordan one-on-one and whip him? That's not going to happen.
I would love to be able to play in the Master's Tournament at Augusta National next month. But it is an impossibility.
It would be a dream come true if I could play catcher for the New York Yankees for just one game. That will not happen.
I think it would be a rush to drive a NASCAR stock car for ten laps around Daytona, but that is impossible for me.
These are a few of many impossible dreams that have rattled around in cranium over the years. None of those will ever happen because I just don't possess the ability to accomplish any of them.
What does this have to do with anything? Where am I going with this?
As impossible as these scenarios are, they are no more impossible than fulfilling God's command to love my wife with an unconditional love. That is way above my capabilities. I have about as much chance of winning this year's Master's Tournament as I do loving Barbara with an unconditional love.
Here's the good news - "For nothing is impossible with God...."
Here's the good news - "love comes from God....."
What is impossible with me is possible with God. He never intended me to love Barbara with my own love. He expects me to respond to His love, to submit to it, to receive it, and to allow His love to flow through me.
I can never be a world-class athlete. I will never be able to peform at the highest level in any of the sports I enjoy. BUT I can be a world-class lover of my wife! I can be a godly husband who pleases God and meets the needs of my wife.
All of these dreams are equally impossible. But one of them IS attainable. Fortunately, that is the one that counts the most!
How about you? Are you chasing some impossible dreams? Why not focus on the one that God has called you to? Why not let Him love your spouse through you? Why not accomplish one impossible dream in your lifetime?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11, 2010

"Good understanding produces favor." Proverbs 13:15

Think about the things you love the most. One of things that is true of them is that the more you get to know and understand about them the more you love them.
I love Jesus. I have been walking with Him and learning of Him for over 50 years and as my understanding grows my love increases. I will never tire of loving Him.
I love the Word of God. I have read it for over 50 years and have studied it seriously for 40 years and the more I understand it the more it amazes me! I will never stop loving the Word.
I love the Church. I have been in a local church for 50 years and have led local churches for nearly 40 years. The more I learn of it and the better I understand its dynamics the more I love it. If I had another life I would gladly give it to serve the local church.
The first time I played golf I was a teen-ager and I knew very little about it. But it was love at first tee shot. From that first round I could not get enough of it. The more I played it and practiced it and understood it, the more I wanted to play it and practice it and master it! I hope there is golf in Heaven because I don't get enough time to play it here on earth!
Recently I was visiting in my home town in Indiana. I went to a high school basketball game where my beloved Warsaw Tigers were playing in a tournament game. Having been away from Indiana for awhile I forgot how intensely passionate Hoosiers are about their high school hoops. As I watched the 0ne reason they do is because they understand the game so well, they really know their basketball!
More importantly, the loved ones in my life grow more precious and appealing to me the more I get to know and understand them. That is especially true of Barbara. When I first met her I thought she was too good to be true. She couldn't actually be as wonderful as she seemed. I had to get to know her better and understand what makes her tick. So, I committed myself to that pursuit. Twenty three years later I am still discovering that she is as good as she seems. And, in fact, she is even better! The more I know her the more I want to know her!
How about you? Whom do you know that you want to know better? How much effort and energy are you devoting to understand your spouse better? How willing are you to be known?
Greater knowledge and understanding lead to deeper love. Be careful where you aim your heart and mind!
What will you do today to get to know your spouse better?