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Loving Your Neighbor

Daily Devotion and Scripture

Graceful Conversation

Graceful conversation.

 

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV)

 

More and more Christians walk with targets on their back. Evangelicals in particular have been labeled as mean-spirited and hateful. There is a spiritual war going on as the world moves more secular in its religious disposition. This is on top of the not-so-Christlike behavior of those who have taken the name of Christ. Never before is there a need for Christlike discourse.

Paul reminds us that our conversation should always be full of grace. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. The gifts of God dispersed to all peoples whether they have lived a life worthy or not. And let’s face it. None of us have lived a life worthy yet the Lord has lavished His love and goodness upon us. Our conversation when dialogue becomes strained must be graceful.

However, the Biblical concept of grace is more than the goodness of God. It is also the power of God. We are saved by His grace. It is a kindness that carries with it great power. When we form our words in grace, the Spirit of Living Water flows through us with power to effect change. Grace will change situations. It will change relationships. It will change hearts.

Often, in difficult situations, we have a knee-jerk reaction to become defensive or to shut down emotionally. This response is self-protective. We must let God be our Protector as we position ourselves as His ambassador.

The amazing grace of God will accomplish what we cannot. To resist self-protection to love those who may be trying our patience will release the power of God not only to effect their heart, but in the process, the Lord will also protect us, embolden us, and anoint us with power to not shrink back.

I want to throw this last little thing in for today though it is not little. Paul says then we will know how to answer everyone. You will see the key here is not what you say, but how you say it. You don’t have to know the right thing to say. You only need to have the right spirit. When our heart has the right attitude, it will overflow with the right words to accomplish God’s will in that moment.

To be graceful in speech, we must trust the Lord with our safety, our reputation, and our fear. But He will be faithful. And what miracles might He do through you when you choose graceful conversation.

 

Lord, help me in every difficult conversation to let Your Spirit guide my heart that I might choose graceful conversation. Amen.

Biblical principles Christian Counseling

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Compassion for Seniors

Compassionate Services to Senior Church Family Members


Guest Article from Kristen Louis of ParentingWithKris.com

(More from Kris)


We’re taught to honor and cherish our senior family members. So when it comes to your church family, it makes sense to want to focus on helping senior members stay connected and healthy. After all, churches can play such an integral role in enriching the lives of seniors in their communities. With this in mind, here are some FAQs and resources from Pastor Lee to help you better serve and assist the older members of your church family.

 

How Can We Keep Seniors Connected to Our Church?

Church services can benefit seniors in so many ways, aside from nourishing their souls. Still, mobility issues and health concerns can make getting to church a challenge.

 

 

How Can We Help Our Senior Church Members at Home?

Compassion for your older church community members shouldn’t stop at the door of your church. Most seniors can benefit from having some extra help around their homes.

 

 

Spiritual well-being can be so crucial for aging adults. Of course, so can nutrition, mental health and quality of life. So make sure your church family has the tools needed to address these areas of concern for your senior family members, so you can continue supporting them.

 

Photo Credit: Rawpixel

life is hard for everyone

Life is Hard for Everyone so stop being jealous

Why do we hate other people?  Life is hard for everyone, even if we can’t see it.  In the Old Testament, Joseph’s brothers hated him because of the dreams that God had given him.  Perhaps Joseph did not handle these dreams with wisdom by sharing them with his father and brothers.  I don’t know if he realized the meaning of the dreams.  He was only seventeen, nevertheless, the dreams indicated that he was going to rule over his family.  We know from the advantage of being able to look back that God was preparing Joseph for his future as a ruler in Egypt that would save his family and the entire nation of Egypt.  But when God first gave him these dreams, they were just dreams.  Most of us would just laugh off someone’s dream, but Joseph’s brothers hated him all the more.

Sometimes, we hate people for what God has given them.  We hate them because they have had an easier life, they have more opportunities, they are prettier or have a prettier wife, a nicer husband.  There are so many people all over the world who hate Americans as if we chose to be born here.  It’s not like God chose a group of people over others and asked them if they wanted to be born here instead of Venezuela or Haiti.  Why do we hate people for things that are not even in their control, things that God has put in them and in their life?

We do this because we totally misunderstand the appearance of blessing.  We look at someone who has been given what we have been denied and we are offended or resentful because we think these things somehow make things easier for them, more blessed than we.  But is life harder for us than them?

In Biblical times, the general theology was that if a person was rich, it indicated that they were blessed by God, obviously loved more and favored by God.  But then Jesus came along and blew this theology out of the water.  Here is what Jesus said:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19:23-24 (NIV)

The people of Jesus’ day would look at the rich and they assumed that God loved them more because they had been born into these rich families, but Jesus said the more money you have, the harder it is to get into Heaven.  This is a reminder that just because things seem better for someone else, it doesn’t mean that is true.  For the rich, it is easier for them to be tempted by the god of mammon.  They put their faith in their own money and ability to make money to provide for their needs and desires instead of putting their faith in God.  This is a very devious scheme of the devil because they might go to church, read the Bible, and sing loud the songs of the church.  It is a sin of the heart and hard to detect.  What may appear to be a blessing could actually be a curse.  Life is hard for everyone.

Plus, the more we are given, the more God holds us accountable with what we have been given.  God does not hold a dirt poor Christian to the same standard of generosity as a filthy rich Christian.  God expects them both to give sacrificially, but the poor man has less to work with than the rich man so God’s expectation of money management for the rich is greater than the poor.  The same is true for wisdom or anything else that God gives.  Great blessings come with great responsibility and thus, great temptation.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48 (NIV)

Now, don’t go thinking that those who have less have it any easier than those who have more.  The lack of things makes us more susceptible to stress, anxiety, worry, fear, and doubt.  These can challenge our faith in God as easily as those who, by all earthly standards, are extravagantly blessed.  The point is that no one has it easy therefore we have no reason to be jealous, bitter, or to have hatred just because it ‘seems’ that someone else has it better than us.  We are all in this boat together and we all have trouble, trials, and tribulations that make life hard.

 

Leave me a comment.  Have you ever struggled with resentment for someone who seemed to have it easier than you?

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

Hate culture

Hate Culture, part I

This week, I want to deal with the subject of hatred.  I am currently teaching a series I have entitled “Hate Culture.”  We are living in a culture of hate.  It is not merely a culture where hatred is more intense than usual.  We are living in a culture where hatred is being encouraged and justified.  I know that even as most of you read this, people and organizations that you feel are spewing hatred are going to come to mind, but I would also draw your attention to the responses of other people and groups to those who may have initiated the hate to begin with.  Even in the church right now, there is a justification to act in hatred toward others, even those in the church.  We feel justified to use our words to denigrate and destroy forgetting the Spirit has called us to not let any word out of our mouth unless it builds up the other (Ephesians 4:29).  We feel justified to vilify, judge, and condemn those whose rage is directed at us simply for disagreeing forgetting the Spirit has called us to love those who persecute us (Romans 12:14).  The darkness of malevolence gives rise to a great opportunity for the church to be that proverbial city on a hill shining the light of hope and Christ to a dark world, but we can’t shine a light if we let hatred into our own heart.

 

Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Genesis 37:2-4 (NIV)

 

Joseph’s brothers hated him because he had what they wanted, the favor of their dad.  Israel’s favoritism is for another post, but don’t get bogged down and forget God holds us responsible for our response to other’s bad behavior.  The brothers hated Joseph, not for what Joseph had done, but because their father loved him more than any of them.  Hatred is the spirit of covetousness.

We have all heard the Ten Commandments and know that we are not to covet, but what is coveting?  Coveting is jealousy for what someone else has to presses toward a desire to see them suffer and/or lose what they have.  It is the idea that if we can’t have it, we don’t want them to have it either.  We are jealous because we don’t think they deserve it, but we do.  We get upset because someone else gets the promotion that we deserve.  Filled with anger, we will despise a sibling because they were Daddy’s favorite.  We get angry because we think someone got a free pass without having to answer for their actions and we don’t think this is right.  This is where hatred sets in.

Christians should never believe that God’s blessings are not a sum-zero subject.  Just because someone else got the promotion, can God not move the boss to give another promotion?  Just because someone else has what we want, is God so small that He can’t bless us too?  Of course, God’s resources are limitless.  It is unBiblical to think the only way for one person or group to be blessed is by taking blessings away from someone else.  That is theft which is another one of those Ten Commandments.

The world is pushing us, even in the church, toward jealousy, covetousness, and hatred.  Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.  We may live in this world, but we are not of it.  We are citizens of Heaven and there ain’t no hatred in Heaven.  So let’s live as children of the light, giving grace, blessing those who persecute, praying for those who attack, reaching out to those who reject, loving those who hate.  If there is any hate within you right now, release it into God’s hand.  He is able to give you peace.   Then we can be that city on a hill for Jesus!

 

I hope you have a great week.  If you want to listen to the sermon, click here.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

HATE | JEALOUSY | FORGIVENESS

the motive of love

The Motive of Love

Motive is everything.  Proverbs 6 lists out those things that God hates and first on the list are haughty eyes, a prideful attitude motivated by selfish gain.  He hates this.  And it is first on the list.  What does that say?  The selfish motive is higher up on the list of things God hates than murder, even murder of innocent blood.  Pride, arrogance is the number 1 listed thing that provokes hatred from the heart of God more than murder, theft, causing strife in the community.  God judges our behavior not on action alone, but our motive.  Why are we doing what we do?

The complexity of God’s wisdom is beyond the reaches of human genius, yet the Holy Spirit is able to break things down so that even I can understand it.  To get it through my thick skull, He reminds me that motive is the deciding factor of the eternal quality of anything I do or say.  And if my motive is not to love, a desire for what is best for others above myself, then all words and actions are like filthy rags tossed into Heaven’s trash compactor.  They mean nothing.  They accomplish nothing.  Here is how the Holy Spirit breaks it down:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

A selfish person is a whisp of air gone quickly without meaning, a life that ends without lasting significance.  The greater love, the greater impact, change, healing, empowering, restoring, renewing pours out of who we are.  Without love, we are just taking up space.  So, how do I love better?  How can I make my life count?  To love is all that matters, but let’s be honest-love is hard.  To love those who love us is also meaningless.  True impact occurs when we love those who are not loving us.  This is where the control valve of God’s power is opened full blast.  Love is it, love is everything.  Is your motive in love self-centered trying to get what you want from others?  This type of love is natural, of the flesh, under the curse of death.  Impure motives with those we love will only ruin or, at best, create tension in relationships.  Motive determines the health of relationships not only with God, but with others.

This love is unnatural.  Like low-fat ice cream, natural love leaves much to be desired.  It is fake, artificial.  It pretends to be what it is not.  True love is pure selflessness.  This is a matter of the heart and the mind.  How can I do what is best for someone else if I don’t know what that person needs?  They may communicate well with their wishes and wants, but these are not always needed.  To know what others need, I must put forth effort to know them more than superficially and attempt to do what is best for them, love them.  My attempt and desire to love will be met with power from on high.  The Holy Spirit, not a spirit of fear, but love in its purest form will meet me and fill me with the wisdom of love accompanied by a transformed heart that no longer has to strive to love, but loves naturally in a way that was unnatural.  Unless I get the ball rolling, the Spirit will not give me what I need.  Want to love better, just start trying.  Do your best.  Ask yourself what is the best for the other and do your best.  Don’t get confused by what they may say, but seek the Lord’s wisdom to study their life situation to find the way of love.  Significance and meaning in your life will follow closely.

Nothing done without love will matter, but as the trickle of God’s love surges to a steady flow, you will find yourself overwhelmed with greater joy, peace, purpose, mission, fulfillment.  As Phil Roberson says, “Now we are cooking with peanut oil.”  The best of the best of life comes when we start putting forth the effort to love others with a pure motive of selflessness.

Take a moment and check your motives.  Where can you start to put forth greater effort to love with selfless motives?

Y’all be blessed and be a blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

killing the church

Covid is Killing the Church

 

Covid is killing the church.  I don’t mean that tons of people in the church are getting covid.  I mean the issue of covid is killing the church.  The secular narrative around covid is creating tension, division, and offense in church relationships, but what does the Bible say?

Because covid is a matter of life and death, which it is, then if someone takes a point of view that others disagree with, the devil’s scheme is to tempt us with the narrative that people either don’t care about those who have gotten covid or had loved ones who have passed away from it.  From the opposite side, people are tempted to think those who disagree with them are either idiots believing a false narrative or a victim of lies from our society.

The same is true about Black Lives Matter, the 2020 election,  and every other social issue burning up our television screens and social media accounts.  I want to look at what the Scripture says about this type of situation and how we should handle it as believers.  Let’s dig into the Word:

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
Romans 14:1-10 (NIV)

Why are we judging our Christian brothers and sisters?

In this passage, Paul is dealing with a conflict that has come up between believers.  He is trying to keep the social issues of their day from killing the church.  Some believers are declaring that the church must worship on a particular day for it to be ‘right.’  And others do not believe it has to be on a certain day as long as when a person worships, they do it in the right spirit to God.  Some people were limiting their diet believing it was the ‘right’ thing to do for their faith.  Others were saying that God had made everything clean and a person could eat what they want so long as they gave thanks.  Does this sound familiar?  The different opinions of Christians’ believed methodology to honor Christ has always been a point of division.  The devil is an expert in finding issues to divide.  His greatest desire is killing the church.

The crazy Christian twitter world reveals cannibalistic Christianity.  We are eating our own because we disagree about this or that.  But what is Paul trying to teach us?

If people disagree with us, we can’t then lump them into a pile in our head of false teachers, false prophets, sinners, or pagans.  We need to understand their motive.  If their motive is that Christ be glorified, then let’s celebrate this and not judge them.  If you are a Christian republican and you think the term Christian democrat is an oxymoron or if you believe the opposite to be true, can we, at the very least admit that neither party operates in the purity Christ would desire.  The democratic party supports a women’s right to choose whether or not to keep a baby believing life begins at birth, not conception.  Yes, the Scripture says life actually begins before conception (Jeremiah 1:5) so to take a life after conception would displease God.  But on the Republican side, has anyone seen President Trump’s tweets that use words that do anything but build others up.  He calls names, makes fun, and can be downright nasty.  So, please, as Christians, can we accept the fact that neither political party represents Christ.

Political parties do not represent Christ, but God does call us to reflect Christ.  And Christ was full of grace and truth.  In the church right now, there is a temptation to put all our marbles into the truth or at least what we believe to be true, but we have forgotten about grace.

Paul goes on to call upon people to stop judging one another.  The word ‘judge’ here means to project a belief or thought on to someone who has not expressed this thought or idea and then condemn them as if it is true even though it is not.  This is what we are doing church.  Someone says they are democratic so then we assume they love abortion.  Another says they are republican and we assume they are racist.  This is absurd!  It is not Biblical and we are breaking God’s heart by treating one another like this.  We have forgotten about grace.

Paul says if someone believes something different, we first need to consider if they are attempting to glorify Christ though it might be a different method than we would use.  Could someone lean left politically, believing the government should help the poor and needy because this is what Christ would want?  YES!  THIS IS POSSIBLE!  Is it possible for someone to lean to the right, believing the government shouldn’t take from those who have in order to give to those who have not because they believe Christians and the church should be caring for the poor in the name of Christ instead of the government in the name of the state?  YES! THIS IS POSSIBLE!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God in the belief that everyone should be wearing masks as a way of loving their neighbor to honor Christ? YES!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God in the belief we should not let the government dictate how we worship because it is a slippery slope?  YES!

Both can be true!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by taking a neighbor out for a good, fatty cheeseburger and fries? YES!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by not eating what they believe to be unhealthy food?  YES!

Both can be true!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by supporting Black Lives Matter to protest racism and police brutality? YES!

Is it possible that a Christian is trying to honor God by rejecting the Black Lives Matter organization because of their socialist agenda believing socialism historically has worked against freedom of religion? YES!

Both can be true!

When we try to force every believer to take the same side as us on every social issue, we are killing the church.  Some issues are a sin issue and we want to encourage them away from sin obviously.  If we believe covid is the worst pandemic we have ever known or if we believe it has been exaggerated, neither belief is sinful.  The important thing for each believer is to respond in a way that glorifies Christ based on what we believe is true.  The worst thing we can do is criticize and judge whose who see it differently.  We can’t keep killing the church.

The point is if a Christian brother or sister sees the world different from you, so long as they are convinced that their beliefs and actions are the best way to honor Christ, then we are not to judge them.  It doesn’t mean we can’t try to help them see another viewpoint and it doesn’t mean they will not change how they see the world at some point in their life.  But if we judge and dismiss brothers and sisters in Christ over social issues, the devil will ravish the church like a hungry wolf devours an innocent lamb.  We can agree to disagree in love without judgment and condemnation.  Let us love one another and give grace, buillding up the church to the full measure of Christ.  That’s way better than killing the church.

Leave your comments and let me know what you think.  Are we killing the church?

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 


guard your heart

Guard Your Heart

Do you believe God has a beautiful plan for your life?  If you don’t, you are denying Scripture and the very words of God.  He has said that He has a plan for your life and that plan is beyond comprehension filled with hope, purpose, and prosperity of the soul (Jeremiah 29:111 Corinthians 2:9-10Ephesians 2:10).  These bring meaning and enjoyment to life.  But how do we find this plan?  let’s consider this passage:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)  Read More

 


Walk in the LightWalk in the Light

The Bible says we are to walk in the light as He is in the light.  If you have been in church for any amount of time, you have heard the comparison of the things of God and light.  God is the Father of Lights (James 1:17).  He covers Himself in light (Psalm 104:2).  Jesus was the Light of the World (John 8:12).  His life is the light of men (John 1:4).  This analogy saturates Scripture, and this brings us to our Verse of the Day:

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.
1 John 1:7 (NIV)

What does it mean to walk in the light?…Read More

 


Enjoy the RideEnjoying the Ride

One of my favorite memories of my oldest son was during one of the worst times in our life. I remember that we had to buy an old Mustang.  I think we spent $500 at one of those car dealerships that you wondered if it was really a front for some other kind of devious activity, but we had no credit and we needed a car.  I was teaching and we had a brand new baby. We were young and too far away from family. We turned to our church for our family. We are still eternally grateful for Dave and Honey, Molly, and Mendy, Pastor Mike, and Bob Bolton.

I am not sure how we got it.  I think my parents gave it to our little boy for Christmas.  It was a tiny plastic roller coaster-type toy that we put together in the hallway of our tiny apartment in Waco, Texas.  It was made for 2-year-olds. We would put our son on this little yellow car and push him down the ten-foot track taking him…Read More

 


 

Esteem Your Spouse

 

Do you esteem your spouse? I remember my youth.  I remember during college offseason arriving at the track with my friend, Michael, before the sun rose.  We would start our workouts in the murkiness just before sunrise.  And I knew there was going to come a time when I came around the corner the brilliant line of white light would pierce through as the sun tipped over the horizon.  In Lubbock, Texas, the land is flat and the sky is huge.  An array of oranges, blues, and yellows would fill the expanse above me.  And I would remember my God.

God is not utilitarian, but creative.  The beauty of all that is around us can arrest us, take our breath away, stopping time for a moment as we take it all in.  The beauty speaks to us.  The sunrise whispers and the sunset sings into my soul the wonders of my God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
Psalms 19:1-6 (NIV)

I would go out onto that track and the Lord would greet me with a sky painting of love, colors or passion, and I was esteemed.  I felt the value He put in me to give me such beauty to ponder.  It was a glorious ‘Good Morning,’ and my heart would basque in the heat of His affection.  The Heavenly Husband esteemed His beloved with affection with love words in the sky.  He pours esteem into the heart of His spouse.

Ok, God is our example of how to be a great spouse, a great lover.  This is how He greets us in the morning.  How do you greet your spouse?  Before getting up out of bed, do you roll over and hold them tight and speak sunshine into their life?  Or do you let the fog of fatigue drag you away to start your day?  How about when you see them at the end of a busy day?  For decades, my wife has worked with me in ministry up until these past few years where she has joined corporate America.  If she has arrived home before me, as I walk through the door, before she can even see me, I hear her esteem me, “Hey Babe,” said with a love tone that soothes my spirit.  If I have arrived home first, I esteem her with a bear hug that she falls into and we embrace.  We esteem one another.  How about you?

Do you esteem your spouse?

Oh no, we are not the perfect couple and stress can get the better of us.  There are times when the other is hardly noticed because of the stress of the day, worries lingering for a difficult conversation, or bodies worn down.  But I have noticed when we pause for a moment, whether it be from the entertainment of a good movie, overwhelming pressure from tasks left undone, or the drowsiness of exhaustion, we change the other’s environment.  Like the sunrise pours light into the darkness so our esteem changes their countenance.  The esteem of our greeting, our embrace, our attention speaks loudly, “I am so glad to see you.  I’ve been waiting all day to hold you.  You are my joy.”  The sun rises.  Hearts are filled with warmth and things are better.  What greater gift can you give your spouse than to esteem them when you wake before the day begins and when you see each other again as the day ends.

Leave me a comment and let me know how it helps when esteem is given to your spouse or you.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 


50-50 Relationships50-50 Relationships Will Not Work

Happy Friday to you.  When I am counseling a married couple, I will ask what they expect from the marriage or what do they need from their spouse to make the marriage better.  Each will gladly begin to tell me what the other person is doing wrong and how, if that person could just change a few things about themselves, the marriage would be wonderful.  But then I ask the question: “How do you respond when they don’t do what you think they should?” They are usually not as quick to answer this question.

In my Fighting to Win Marriage Workbook, I explain how most people think marriage should be a 50-50 relationship, where each takes responsibility for their part of the relationship.  I disagree.  In my opinion, a 50-50 relationship will never be all it can be and would struggle to remain a happy marriage.  So then what?  Should it be a 100-100 relationship where each person is taking full responsibility for the marriage.  Even then I don’t think this is the best because both of these are based on reciprocity. Read More

 


The Active Agent of Your MindWhat is the Active Agent in Your Mind?

Before I dive into the Verse of the Day today, I feel that I need to address sin.  For so long the church defined sin in such a way that it seemed that some sins were worse than others.  For example, homosexuality was treated as something wicked and evil, but gluttony was readily accepted. Obese preachers had no problem condemning the gay community while overeating after every church meeting.  This is an unBiblical perspective. The Bible teaches us that all sin is sin. Experience teaches us there are different consequences. Let me give you an example.

If the speed limit is 65mph, that limit has been set by my governing authority.  And I am commanded to obey my governing authority (Romans 13:1). If I drive 66mph, then I have broken that law…Read More

 

 


Are You A Perfectionist?Are You a Perfectionist?

The dog pooped on the brand new carpet.  I’m running late for work. My son didn’t wake up so now he can’t ride the bus and I have to take him to school.  Frustration mounts up within me. I remember the old commercial, “Calgon, take me away!”

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything just went smoothly?  In my counseling sessions, often I have a client who is really struggling with stress and pressure to make everything right.  They want to be perfect at work, the perfect spouse, the perfect lover, the perfect parent, the perfect host, the perfect friend, the perfect picture of perfect perfection, and this creates so much tension and stress trying to make everything just so. Recently, I explained to a client that even if they did everything perfectly in every place of their life, there would still be something that goes wrong, something difficult to deal with. Even if you had super-powers greater than the entire Justice League combined, life will never be perfect…Read More

 


 

Better Communication in Marriage

 

The Bible says our words carry in them the power of life or death.  If that is true, we definitely need better communication in marriage. We can bring our spouses heart back to life or crush it forever with just a few words.  And many times, the outcome we see in our communication does not reflect our intention.  Words are very important.

If we believe this then, especially in highly tense moments, we need to think about what we are going to say before we say it.  And it is not simply trying to figure out how to ensure we are understood in our desires.  When it comes to our words, before we begin to try to communicate our desires, we need to check our motivation.  Here is what the Scripture teaches us about communication:

 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

 

This is the standard God has given us to guide our better communication in marriage.  First we should not have any corrupt talk.  The original word here also means ‘to putrefy.’  Putrefaction is the decomposition of a dead body.  

We do not want to use words that kill the spirit of the person we are speaking to.  On the contrary, our words should give grace that builds up the person.  The words we use, even in conflict, should have the goal of building up the other person with words of life.  When a person is not listening to us or when they have offended us, our words are graceful, building them up even though what they have done may have torn us down.

This is God’s way to communicate to our spouse when we have been hurt.  To speak like this, our goal must be to present our issue through the prism of what is best for them.  Let me give you an example.  If a husband easily loses his temper and yells at his wife all the time.  She can respond to him by yelling and screaming as well.  She can communicate that she needs for him to stop yelling at her.  But in this conversation, her goal is to get her husband to love her.  Her goal is not to love him and build him up, but to get him to build her up.  This is the way we naturally communicate, but it goes against the Biblical principle of Ephesians 4:29.  We don’t need more words that hurt but communication to make our marriage better.

On the other hand, if the wife approached her husband according to what he needs to be built up, she might say, “I’m worried about how often you get upset.  It is not good for you.  I am concerned about what it is going to do to you if you keep getting so angry, to your health.  I am concerned about what it is doing to our marriage and to me.  I want us to be close, a team, working on things together.  Can we talk about what is going on and pray for God’s wisdom to help us stay close in conflict?

Of course, the exact phrasing would be specific to the conversation, but I think you can see the idea.  We are making the marriage better by the way we address subjects that could lead to arguments and fights.  In the second scenario, the wife is approaching the issue in a way that her priority is for his well-being.  She is not defensive trying to get him to change so that she can feel better, but trying to help him change for his own benefit because she loves him.

Like all aspects of loving God’s way, we may feel that we are allowing our spouse to get away with bad behavior or that we are letting them just walk all over us.  Well, God doesn’t want us to let people continually walk all over us, but when it happens occasionally without intention, God wants us to give grace and help them overcome.  This is a different type of love.  This is agape.  Agape is the presence of God, the power of God to change hearts.  

 Think about it.  The last time your spouse hurt you by something they did or said, how did you respond?  If you responded defensively, you may have seen them also take a defensive posture against you.  Suddenly, you were enemies, not lovers.  That type of cycle is not going to make the marriage better.  The Bible says a harsh word stirs up anger, but a gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).  You might look back and see that your strategy produced only rotten fruit.  But had you communicated with their well-being in mind, presenting the solution as something that would make their life better, giving grace, who knows?  The fight might have never become a fight, but a bonding moment drawing you near to one another.  That is the pathway to a better communication for your marriage. This is God’s principle that will lead to less fighting, more laughter, more fun, more snuggling, and more sex!

How is the communication in your marriage?

 

To go deeper with this, I would recommend the Fighting To Win Marriage WorkbookUSE THE COUPON CODE: “Marriage” to get it for only $5.

Leave me a comment or maybe a question of how to craft words according to this Biblical principle in your specific argument.

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 


marriageThe Duck Billed Platypus and Your Wife

You probably never thought you would see your wife compared to a duck billed platypus and let’s be clear:

I AM NOT COMPARING YOUR WIFE TO A DUCK BILLED PLATYPUS!!!

But, they do have a strange connection that you, husbands, need to be aware of if you want your marriage to be all you desire.

In Genesis, there is a strange little passage where the text seems to go off on a nonsensical tangent.  God says about Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone.”  Well, I have spent a weekend or two by myself and I agree with this statement.  I’m not all that pleasant and tend to forget about hygiene when my wife and kids are gone.  But that’s for another blog.  Let’s take a look at this strange passage…Read More

 


Assumptions Kill Marriage Assumptions Kill Marriages

There are so many marriage killers but assumptions may be one of the worst.  So often when people are trying to rescue their marriage, the focus is on what we say and how we say it.  We’ve all heard that we should never use the words ‘never’ or ‘always.’  We are told to be respectful, polite, and kind when speaking to our spouse.  The old saying is thrown in our face:

If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!

These are all good, but today, I don’t want to talk to you about what you are saying.  No, I want to talk to you about what you are thinking in your relationship.  I want to talk to you about the quick assumptions that kill the marriage and how to stop doing it…Read More

 


Christian Living Books from Pastor LeeA FREE Preview of my latest book

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Assumptions Kill Marriage

Assumptions Kill Marriage

 

There are so many marriage killers but assumptions may be one of the worst.  So often when people are trying to rescue their marriage, the focus is on what we say and how we say it.  We’ve all heard that we should never use the words ‘never’ or ‘always.’  We are told to be respectful, polite, and kind when speaking to our spouse.  The old saying is thrown in our face:

If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!

These are all good, but today, I don’t want to talk to you about what you are saying.  No, I want to talk to you about what you are thinking in your relationship.  I want to talk to you about the quick assumptions that kill the marriage and how to stop doing it.

If you are an athlete, you have probably heard the term ‘muscle memory.’  In sports, we train through drills, doing the same thing over and over again.  When I was playing football, over and over again, I would trace my steps to get the gap I needed to cover based on what the offense was doing.  The purpose is to do it so often that in the game, you don’t have to think.  Your muscles just know what to do.  Well, in relationships, we have emotional memory.

As soon as our spouse starts to say something similar to what others have said that made us feel unloved, unappreciated, disliked, disrespected, our emotions run away within us like a tsunami.  Our emotions don’t wait to hear the whole thing.  Our emotions systematically rush hurt, frustration, and offense into our heart like they always have in our life without knowing if this situation really is just like all those before.  If your Dad always told you that you were lazy as soon as your wife asks why you didn’t get to the “honey-do’s”, your emotions are going to fill your spirit with the same stuff it used to when you Dad would go off on you.  In fact, the emotions may be so strong that you stop really listening.  Our emotional memory pushes us to make assumptions about what our spouse thinks or feels.  We will read into their body language, facial expressions, or words something that is not there.  And we are so sure that they are thinking what we think they are thinking that we don’t stop to ask if that is really what they are thinking.  Then, we get angry, offended, hurt and this is usually followed up with frustration, yelling, screaming, locking yourself in the bathroom, storming out of the house, withholding sex, etc. Assumptions will kill the marriage.  But here is the truth:

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

Even when you have known someone your whole life, you can still, at times, assume they feel or think something they don’t actually think or feel.  It’s possible.  But when we assume it to be true when it’s not and then act as if it is true, we create more hurt and the divide between spouses widens.  Here are some tips to help stop the assumptions that will kill your marriage:

  • In humility, try to reserve in your mind the possibility that what you think may not be correct

Yeah, that is a hard one.  Yes, I am asking you to remember that you have been wrong before and that you have misunderstood what people were saying before.  Remember, there have been times where it became clear that you assumed someone thought or felt something then realized you were wrong.  It’s ok to be wrong.  Rather than working so hard to not be wrong, we should work harder to protect the peace in the relationship.

  • Be aware that you have often been misunderstood by people assuming they knew what you were thinking or feeling.

Yes, if people have done it to you, then don’t be so arrogant to think that you could also do it to someone else.  It’s human nature.  It’s emotional memory.  It’s not that we are trying to do it.  It is the pain of our past still working to control and destroy our future.

  • Listen with patience.

Many of us do not realize that we do not listen with patience.  We hear a couple of words from someone, our emotions realize that those few words are stirring up things from the past and that old fire burns again in our belly and we start thinking of our defense.  When we get here, it is hard to control that fire and we start talking before they finish.  We interrupt.  Here is a good technique.  Teach yourself to take a deep breath when they finish talking.  You will be amazed at how often you thought they were done, but they really weren’t.

  • Ask questions to clarify.

It is always a good idea to ask them if they feel what you assume they feel.  Ask them if they are thinking what you are assuming they are thinking.  Give them an opportunity to realize what is coming across to you and clarify.

 

These are four ways to save your marriage from assumptions.  Keep a tight reign on that tongue of yours and use your words to build up the marriage, but also, keep a tight reign on what you are thinking and stop assuming!

 

Love y’all!

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 


Security in Covenant

Security in Covenant

I came across a recent news article that quoted Justin Bieber.  This is not an endorsement of Bieber nor his music, but I do believe from this quote that somewhere he was taught some Scripture.

“The security marriage gives you is make a covenant before God to love that person for better or worse, in sickness and in health, which is something that you’ve done amazing for me,” he said to Hailey.

Hailey is Justin’s wife and they are now doing a Facebook video series called “The Biebers on Watch.”  With 77 million Facebook followers, Justin and Hailey spoke of the security of marriage that comes from a Covenant made before God to love unconditionally… Read More

 

 


Remember these?  -Your vows?Remember these?

So today, I am preparing for a wedding.  How appropriate on Marriage Friday, right?  In just a few short hours, I will stand before this beautiful couple and I will charge them with these very familiar words as part of their wedding vows:

Will you love, honor, and keep for richer-for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish til death do you part?

These vows have been in place for centuries.  In fact, most of you reading this and me too, as I am writing this, remember repeating these words possibly in a church in front of a preacher… Read More

 

 


Love Never FailsLove Never Fails…or Does it?

God is love (1 John 4:8) so if we are to know God, we must know love.  God defines love for us in Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).  He tells us that love never ends, love never fails, love endures all things, but does it?

The power of love is obvious.  It is the love of God revealed through the Scripture, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that has released power to turn millions of hearts from pride and selfishness to love, humility, and generosity.  He loved us first (1 John 4:19) and when we realize the depth of His love, we fall in love with Him and want to honor Him with our life.  Lives are changed by the love of God in Jesus Christ… Read more

 


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