Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
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
I. LOVE IS CRAZY POWERFUL – “God…..”
"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!
HAVE YOU COME TO THE PLACE WHERE YOU BELIEVE HIS CRAZY LOVE?
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.
A HOLY ALMIGHTY GOD WHO PERSONALLY LOVES ME AND WANTS TO KNOW ME? THAT”S CRAZY!
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."
I SEARCHED FOR EFFECTIVE WAYS TO ILLUSTRATE THIS CRUCIAL POINT AND DECIDED A PICTURE IS WORTH A 1,000 WORDS – WATCH THIS:
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!
HAVE YOU PERSONALLY RECEIVED THE POWERFUL PERSONAL LOVE OF GOD? WOULD YOU LIKE TO?
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!
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.
(LEAVING AND CLEAVING – BUNGEE JUMP)
ARE YOU READY TO TAKE A PLUNGE INTO HIS CRAZY LOVE?
ARE YOU WILLING TO LET HIS CRAZY LOVE FLOW THROUGH YOU TO YOUR SPOUSE?
ARE YOU WILLING AS A COUPLE TO PLUNGE YOUR MARRIAGE INTO HIS 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
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
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.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
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
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Let’s Review What We Have Learned This Far:
* MEN NEED RESPECT/WOMEN NEED LOVE
* MEN AND WOMEN ARE WIRED QUITE DIFFERENTLY BUT THAT IS GOOD!
* TO LOVE A SPOUSE UNCONDITIONALL YOU MUST BE CONNECTED TO THE LOVE OF GOD – “SUBMIT = ALIGNMENT, GIVE UP RIGHTS”
* MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT RELATIONSHIP DESIGNED FOR A LIFETIME.
* TO ENJOY INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE WE MUST GUARD THOUGHT LIFE
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
HAVE I FORGIVENE MYSELF?
DO I NEED TO FORGIVE SOMEONE ELSE?
WHAT IS PREVENTING ME FROM LIVING A LIFESTYLE OF FORGIVENESS?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
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
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
WEEK FOUR – “Confronting Love Leaks” 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.
Turn In Your Bible To II Corinthians 10:4-5
WHAT ARE LOVE LEAKS?
ATTITUDES – HOW YOU THINK
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
AFFECTIONS – WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT
ADDICTIONS – WHAT CONTROLS MY THOUGHTS
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…..
HOW DO THESE LEAKS HAPPEN?
Casualness – “It’s Not That Bad, I Can 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.
“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”
HOW DO WE CLOSE LOVE LEAKS?
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
www.netnanny.com - $30/yr.
www.christianinternetfiltering.net - $4.50/month
www.safefamilies.org - Free
www.wisechoice.net - $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 – www.internetsafety.com - $50/yr.
A Couple Of Websites To Help With Accountability:
www.menofintegrity.com xxxchurch.com www.covenanteyes.com
“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
WILL I LET MY EYES GUIDE MY THOUGHTS OR WILL I SURRENDER TO GOD AND MAKE MY THOUGHTS CONTROL WHAT I SEE?
I REALIZE MY DESIRE FOR MORE INTIMACY IN MY MARRIAGE
I RECOGNIZE LOVE LEAKS IN MY LIFE ARE KEEPING ME FROM INTIMACY
I RENOUNCE LOVE LEAKS IN MY LIFE
I REPENT OF THOSE LOVE LEAKS IN MY LIFE
I WILL REPAIR THEM BY CHANGING THIS BEHAVIOR TODAY: