Pastors in Hiding

Ministry friend, are you struggling? Do you want to quit? Are you carrying a heavy load? Do you feel all alone? Need a friend to help you, listen to you, care for you, and give you hope? Please read the post below and reach out to us. You are never too far gone that the Lord cannot restore and refresh you!!! Let us help point you to the One Who is our Living Hope!!

Nearly Two in Five Pastors Have Considered Quitting Full-Time Ministry

With pastors’ well-being on the line, and many on the brink of burnout, 38 percent indicate they have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year. This percentage is up 9 full points (from 29%) since Barna asked church leaders this same question at the beginning of 2021.

There are many reasons for pastors quitting the ministry, but one I am concerned about is pastors in hiding.

Continue reading “Pastors in Hiding”

Heart Transplant

Since the heart is perverse and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), can it be changed?

Can our deceitful heart be transformed into a truthful heart?

Can our our hypocritical heart be converted into a holy heart?

Can our idolatrous heart be changed into a worshipping heart for God?

Yes! The heart of change is having the heart of Christ.

The heart in scripture represents all that we are. As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man (Proverbs 27:19). It’s our inner person (Proverbs 4:23; Ephesians 3:16-17). The functions of the biblical heart involve your will, emotions, spirit or soul and mind.

To have the heart of Christ is to first of all be born again (Read John 3:1-18; Regeneration).

Second, to have the heart of Christ is learn of His heart as you study His earthly life from (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the Christ-life (Romans 6-8; Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians) as the Holy Spirit reveals Him to you (John 16:12-15).

While sitting on my back porch meeting with the Lord as I read His Word, the Holy Spirit revealed Christ’s heart to me again. As I began to read Luke 15, a passage of three parables about lost things Jesus used to answer the accusations of the Pharisees, a statement from the Pharisees about Christ spoke to my heart. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives/welcomes sinners and eats with them” (15:2).

Why does Jesus welcome sinners; those who are lost? Luke 19:10 says, For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

At that moment the thought came to me, “The heart of Christ is to receive, to welcome sinners who are broken in their sin, hell-bound and without hope.”

Then I was reminded of Bill Pickel, a man who lived out the heart of Christ, and it could have been said of him, “He received sinners and ate with them.”

During my junior and senior years of college, I served as youth and music leader at a church in upstate South Carolina. Every weekend I would stay at the Pickel’s home. Often he was not home, sometimes arriving back home around 2-3:00 in the morning.

Why? He was out spending time at some local beer joint . . . loving, listening, caring, and sharing with sinners the Good News of Jesus Christ. Sometimes he brought these broken men into his home for a meal or a bed. Many of them he saw humble themselves before the Lord, repent of their sins, and receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Yes, Bill was criticized by the “religious Pharisees” because he had the audacity to found in a beer joint. Nevertheless, Bill chose to live out the Christ-life and “eat with sinners.”

What have you learned about the heart of Christ today as you gazed into His Word? But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What has the Holy Spirit revealed to you today of Christ? How has the Holy Spirit worked in your heart to bear the fruit of Christ through your life (Galatians 5:22-23)? He can do the same in your life as He did in Bill Pickel’s life.

The lyrics of a favorite song in our home when our girls were young said, “Change my heart, O God. Make it ever new. Change my heart, O God, make it more like you.”

Divorce-Proof Your Marriage #6

One Year & 41 Years of Marriage

A marriage declines over a period of time. As I said at the beginning of this series, no man decides on a whim to get a divorce.

Sadly, the decline occurs when marriages experience more “withdrawals” than “investments.”

Obviously, if you continue to use your debit card without putting any funds in the bank, your withdrawals will overcome your investments and your are overdrawn. You have a negative bank balance.

Some husbands and wives are overwhelmed in their marriage; their “marriage bank account” is depleted and dry.

If that is you, may I encourage you make the following investments?

Investment #1: Believe that no marriage is too far gone to be recovered and renewed by God’s grace.

The absolute, preeminent starting point for every sin, heartache, issue, perplexity, uncertainty, fear, sorrow, risk, hardship, etc. is with God (Psalms 61:1-3; 66:1-5; Matthew 11:28-30).

Read, meditate and pray through each of the passages of Scripture given above and below and others, calling out to God on behalf of your spouse and your marriage. The best investment you can make is prayer! Please don’t underestimate the power of God in prayer! He is able, and His grace is sufficient!!

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. (Jeremiah 32:17)

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. (2 Corinthians 9:8 AMP)

Investment #2: Forgive one another now and often.

Our old sin nature and our heart will lie to us telling us that we don’t deserve such treatment; that we have a right to be happy; that holding a grudge and seeking revenge is the way to go!

At this point, you must look at the cross and see Christ taking your place as your substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 Peter 2:24), paying the price for all your sin by His blood and forgiving you all of your sin, past, present, and future (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13-14; Hebrews 9:22). Now you are no longer under condemnation or the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9; 8:1).

With that view, if you are born again; a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you cannot hold a grudge over your spouse, pour out your wrath upon him or her, or keep a record of wrongs done to you, in other words, get “historical.” Just as you have received the covering and removal of your sin by the precious blood of Christ in forgiveness, you must forgive, too!

There’s a form of debt in your marriage (and all relationships) far more dangerous than financial debt.

It’s relational debt.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is not talking about personal finances or budget. Instead, he’s talking about something that’s supposed to happen in healthy relationships—forgiveness.

Why is it such a struggle to forgive? Why don’t people forgive at all? The sad reality is that there is short-term power, albeit destructive, in refusing to forgive the other person. There are dark “benefits” in keeping someone else in our relational debt.

Keeping a record of our spouse’s wrongs gives us the upper hand in the relationship. There is power in having something to hold over another’s head. There is power in using a person’s weakness and failure against them, so in moments when we want our own way, we pull out some wrong against our spouse as our relational trump card.

How ugly and selfish is that?

It seems almost too obvious to say, but forgiveness is a much better way than unforgiveness. It’s the only way to live in an intimate, long-term relationship with another sinner. It’s the only way to negotiate through the weakness and failure that will daily mark your marriage.

Forgiveness is a relational transaction that needs to occur in moments when sin has gotten in the way of the unity, love, and understanding between a husband and wife (or any two people for that matter).

Paul David Tripp

Forgiveness lifts the burden off our shoulders of bearing wrongs and restores what has been broken.

The more you are willing to pursue forgiveness, the more you experience its blessings. It’s the only way to deal with hurt and disappointment. It’s the only way to have hope and confidence restored. It’s the only way to protect your love and reinforce the unity that you have built. It’s the only way not to be kidnapped by the past.

Canceling relational debt is a beautiful and necessary thing, not only for your marriage but in every single relationship in your life. (Paul David Tripp, Wednesday Word, 2/23/2022)

What investments will you make in your marriage today? Grace and forgiveness will restore any broken relationship if you will “lay down your sword” and run to the cross in utmost humility. (James 4:1-3, 6-10)

Divorce-Proof Your Marriage (4)

So, you just had another disagreement.  Cross, jabbing words were spoken.  Anger is written all over your face.  The strength of the door frame and hinges have been tested again.  You are courtroom sure that you are in the right! What are you going to do? 

The fourth way to make sure your marriage does not end up in divorce is to humble yourself and not wait to seek help.

Marriages don’t disintegrate over night.  They eventually reach the critical point when:

  1. You think “hiding it under the rug” will make the problem go away.
  2. You refuse to accept that you have a problem.
  3. You think you can work it out on your own by your own schemes.
  4. You are too proud to ask for help.
  5. You are more concerned about what someone might think of you.

If you are in this situation, stop fooling yourself into thinking it will get better. 

First, admit to God your problem/sin as well as your insufficiency to correct it. 

Second, be honest with your spouse in a loving manner. 

Third, call on a trusted friend, pastor or mentor who will give you loving, forth-right biblical counsel (not tell you what you want to hear).

Forth, repent and change. 

Last of all, walk by faith in the principles and promises of God’s Word.

Proverbs 11:2  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 11:14  Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety

Proverbs 26:12  Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Ecclesiastes 7:8  Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

James 4:6  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

If you are in vocational Christian ministry and your marriage needs refreshment; perhaps a caring, listening ear, and/or a place to just get away, please contact me at bcbcpastor@comcast.net. My wife and I would love to connect with you!

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry #11

Two marriage failures. One sexual abuse. One suicide.

I heard about these four tragedies in a two day period. These were all ministry leaders.

Only the Lord knows all the facts about each of these scenarios, but the following is for certain:

  1. These sins could have been prevented.
  2. The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.
  3. Men in ministry are not above temptation.
  4. The root cause is unbelief in God which leads to discontentment which leads to discouragement which leads to despondency/depression which leads to despair.

This is why I have written these several recent blog posts about overcoming discouragement in ministry. As I heard of the aforementioned moral failures, my heart ached. I wept. I realized again how susceptible I am in my own heart to fail. Everyone of us is one decision away from bringing reproach on the name of Christ, destroying our testimony, marriage, family and ministry.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)

Ministry is made up of two worlds, public and private. Public ministry life has its share of hurts and struggles which brings the temptation to deal with it in a sinful way in the private world, where there is no accountability.

Will you read the following from Paul Tripp and soak your soul in the grace of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Who has brought deliverance and rescue to us all?

“Why do I struggle with the same sin over and over again, and how can I break the cycle?”

Someone submitted this question not too long ago. I could feel their discouragement through the email. Have you ever felt stuck in a cycle of sin, seemingly unable to break a pattern that dishonors the Lord and reaps a harmful harvest?

I know I have, and when I do, my mind immediately jumps to Romans 7. “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (vv. 18-19)

So what do we do when we hit that wall? I think Romans 7 provides us with some practical steps and encouragement to break the cycle of sin.

The first is this: Don’t sign a premature armistice agreement with our sinful nature.

As believers, the Bible declares that our heart of stone has been removed and replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Yes, we are new creatures, and yes, the controlling power of sin over us has been broken … but the presence of sin remains.

I think many of us have seriously underestimated the drama, the power, and the depth of remaining sin—how deep it is inside of us and how it infiltrates every aspect of our being. There is a tremendous moral and spiritual war still raging on within us.

I am surprised by how many Christians, myself included, live with a peacetime mentality. While we might be active fighting our culture or protesting outside evil, some of us seem to expect the luxuries and leisure of peace in our heart—where the war rages most fiercely.

And then suddenly, we get surprised or discouraged when sin starts winning!

Don’t misunderstand: because of the wonderful atoning work of the Prince of Peace, the war between God and us has ended. And when Christ returns, our struggle with sin and the Enemy will be complete. But until then, a battle of hostility inside us still rages. Perhaps the problem is that we think that the adversary within—remaining sin— has been conquered long before it actually has.

In the middle of this spiritual war, there’s a second thing you must do: Don’t argue for your own righteousness.

Perhaps the biggest and most tempting lie that all of us tend to embrace is that our most significant problems exist somewhere outside. This is partially true because, in a fallen world, people sin against us and we experience bodily pain and suffering. The Apostle Paul experienced both of these and doesn’t minimize them by writing about them elsewhere in Scripture, but in this particular passage, he’s only concerned about his own sin and heart. He doesn’t argue for his righteousness.

On the contrary, in Romans 7, Paul locates his struggle inside himself. He knows that when you argue for your righteousness, you convince yourself that you don’t need the grace of God—the only thing that can protect you from sin.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Are you feeling discouraged in your battle with sin? At first glance, Romans 7 can be a pretty discouraging passage! Paul exclaims, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

But the passage doesn’t end there: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Eternal rescue has been supplied, but rescuing grace is still necessary every day. What we have received in Christ, we still desperately need. Romans 7 calls us to be aware and serious; the war for our hearts is not over. Our need for a conquering Savior has not ended.

Reflection Questions

  1. What sin have you conquered or left behind by God’s grace since becoming a believer? How have you become a new creation by being in Christ?
  2. What sins or weaknesses do you find yourself still struggling with? When was the last time you wrestled with the flesh because of it? What was the outcome? Do others know of this consistent battle?
  3. Are you more committed to fighting the sins of the culture than you are fighting remaining sin in your heart? Why is the latter more of a danger to you?
  4. Consider a recent time when you deceived yourself by arguing for your own righteousness. Who, or what, did you blame? How did you justify your selfishness or sin?
  5. What does the daily rescuing grace of Christ look like in your life? How can you pursue it today? Be specific.

Ministry friend, if I can be a listening ear for you with a heart of compassion and truth, please contact me at bcbcpastor@comcast.net. Let me help you before you become a statistic.

From a pastor’s heart!

dale

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#7)

Hiking is so much like life! Constant ups and downs, wear and tear on your body, hidden and exposed roots that cause you to stumble, stony trails that cause your feet to burn and twist, steep climbs that seem to last forever, stinkin’ socks and fellow hikers, the burden of 25-40 pounds on your back, sloshing through a rain-soaked trail, and wishing you could carry your bed from home in your backpack in exchange for the ground or a shelter floor!

As I stood on one of the many awe-inspiring, give-God-praise views on the Appalachian Trail this week, I proclaimed to my hiking buddy, Rick, “And you ask me why we love to hike????” (Besides the fact that we just love being outdoors in the mountains!)

Men, one of the reasons we are prone to become discouraged in ministry is the view. Ministry can be like what I described in the first paragraph. While carrying the weight of “your church” on your shoulders, all you see are ministry deadlines, the constant burdens of others, unmet expectations, another sermon to ream out, your body wearing down, the battle of your flesh, and a mind full of stinkin’ thinkin’!!! Just like the old adage, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” You need to change the view.

How?

Learn to rest! Most folks in ministry do not know how to rest! We are on the go 24/7 with our foot on the accelerator pushed to the floor. Even on vacation, we are still thinking ministry, taking calls, answering texts, and thinking about next Sunday’s sermon.

Rest breaks are crucial while hiking. As we climbed up the mountain to McAfee Knob and trekked the distance over to Tinker Cliffs, periodic rest breaks for water and a protein snack gave energy and heart to press forward. Even along the way, we enjoyed other views as we dropped our packs and briefly rested. We knew the extraordinary views were coming!

Your rest breaks could be . . .

  • a drive in the country with your wife (no ministry discussion allowed)
  • a walk or bike ride in a nearby park
  • 15 minutes on the back porch singing and swinging
  • reading the Psalms or Philippians for your heart’s sake and not for a sermon
  • no phone at supper while remaining at the table with your wife to chat for 15-30 minutes at the end of your meal
  • your prayer closet
  • a power nap
  • watching something humorous to get you laughing
  • a cup of coffee or tea and a healthy snack
  • calling your wife and talking to her like you did when you were dating (seriously)
  • Facetimeing one of your grandkids . . . that’ll lighten up your heart

Ministry friend, learn to rest. Remember, Jesus went to the mountains and the wilderness to get away (Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12). You need those rest breaks more than Jesus did. You are not the Messiah!

The “hike” in ministry calls for periods of rest. The “views” will be much better when you do!

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#4)

My dad weighed a 119 pounds when he entered the Army and 125 pounds when he was married. Me, I think I weighed 125 in the third grade! 🙂 I wore huskie size jeans in the first grade! I always said that my dad ate to live, and I lived to eat!

I am a “foodie,” and, since college days, I have had a battle with my weight, up and down, up and down. Several years ago, that all changed. Please take what I share below as truly coming from a caring heart for you, my brother.

So men, one of the ways to overcome discouragement is to exercise and eat right.

There are several ingredients to helping you accomplish this need:

  1. You have to honestly and humbly admit that you need to change and then choose to make this a life decision. No one can guilt you into it nor change you. It is by the grace of God, prayer, and the will to say “yes” and “no.” Let me say that several years ago, an evangelist friend had a loving, stern talk with me that was extremely helpful, but you must make the choice.
  2. Be ready for the long haul that takes a day-at-a-time; a meal-at-a-time.
  3. Choose a diet plan that will enable you to go for the long haul. Personally, I have seen too many spend mega bucks on a strict plan just to see the weight return in a short period of time. My wife and I used Weight Watchers and ate our own food. Over a period of a few months, I lost a total of 80 pounds.
  4. Exercise. For me, my favorites are running and hiking. My wife loves to briskly walk the farm road near our country home. Do what is best for you.
  5. Speaking of my wife, a diet/exercise program is so much better with a companion on this journey or even a group of other ministry friends for encouragement and accountability!
  6. When eating out, share a meal. For a very long time, my wife and I order one entrée and split it. That also means no appetizer or dessert. Of course, we enjoy desserts and other special foods but we do not gorge! Remember, the very best bite of every food item is the first one. After that, you are headed toward . . . “Oh, I can’t eat anymore'” and the taste has diminished!!
  7. As you lose your weight, get rid of your clothes that are now too big. You are not going back!!
  8. The most convicting and challenging thing that moved me to change was my testimony before the Lord as a man and a pastor and my love for my wife. You see, food became an idol and an unholy habit before my God. Also, as a pastor, how could I challenge the folks I shepherd to live disciplined lives when I was not disciplined in my eating habits. Men, the belt around our waist should not be “a leather fence around a chicken graveyard” as so many preachers have joked about over the years! Our bodies were created by God, belong to God, and are sustained by God. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  9. As for my wife, I am so grateful that she has set a high standard for herself in this regard. She is so disciplined that she eats one bite from a candy bar, puts it in the drawer, and she might go back to it next week or next month! 🙂 Seriously, my love for eating was greater than my love for her. One of the best ways I could demonstrate my love for her was to lose weight and start being fit, if for no one else, just for her!!
  10. For any of you who need to loose weight and exercise, do not let the following statement discourage you. Hopefully it will motivate you. Remember, the older you get, the harder it becomes to lose the pounds. So, get started; begin somewhere (small or big) and stay at it! Your wife, your body, your heart, your cholesterol, your health, your congregation, and you will be glad you did. Most of all, it is pleasing to God!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

I realize that this step could be very difficult for some. This post was not written to shame or further discourage you. Men, I’m cheering you on!!!! No matter your situation, begin with the Lord in prayer. He’s able.

No Frills, No Fluff

What would draw hundreds of men from Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, South Carolina, and even California?

Great entertainment? Good food? Well-known speakers? Attractive venue?

What would you say if I told you the draw is . . . prayer?

Really? Yes, indeed!

Men’s Prayer Advance.

Each year men gather in the Roanoke, VA, area to worship by listening to strong, Holy-Spirit infused preaching, full-throttle singing with hearts and voices in joyful praise, and most of all, meeting together at the Throne of Grace in passionate, expectant prayer!! This is “an encounter with Christ!”

Men’s Prayer Advance is a no frills, no fluff meeting properly described by its name.

MEN’S: Luke 18:1 says, Men ought always to pray, and 1 Timothy, 2:8, I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. You should see and hear these men pouring out their hearts to the Lord in transparent, honest, pleading, crying out, believing prayer! The highlight every year occurs on Friday at 11:00 a.m. with “Sweet Hour of Prayer” where men get alone with God for one hour or more in prayer of praise and petitions. One man said to me, “I missed lunch because my time with the Lord would so good!!” Some prayer meetings continue on into late Thursday night and Friday morning after the Thursday evening service.

PRAYER: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41). First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18). “Prayer doesn’t begin on earth, it begins in heaven.” (Ron Lynch)

ADVANCE: As we hear so often from Harold Vaughan, the founder of Christlife Ministries, “This is not a prayer retreat, it’s a prayer advance! We’re not backing up, giving up, or slowing down.” For three days, from Thursday at 1:30 p.m. until Saturday noon, it is an intentional move toward God! James gives us an example of a man advancing in prayer. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual]. (James 5:16-18 AMP)

What draws you to have an encounter with Christ? Have you met with Him today in prayer? Are you advancing or retreating?

“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.” ~ S. D Gordon

(If you would like information about future Advances for men, ladies, students and couples, check out Prayer Advances.)

Marriage Moments

There are many of these throughout the day.  The word moment is defined as “a very short period of time, a little while,” and it also refers to importance.  So a “marriage moment” happens when in the course of the day you plan or act spontaneously to take a brief amount of time to express your love, concern, and attention for your spouse because he or she is of  great significance to you.  Your marriage life is a weighty matter.  Both of you have decided to grow your marriage, enjoy each other, and not get used to each other as the days go whereby you don’t take each other for granted and your marriage grows stale.

It had been a taxing, stressful day which had an affect our on relationship.  Needing to stop my routine and work attitude of “let’s get this job done and move on to the next one,” I poured out on the bar counter all of our Scrabble tiles for a game of Take Two.  No phones, no music, no distractions, just a moment with my wife having fun because she and our marriage are important.  You see, a long marriage is made up of a WHOLE BUNCH OF MOMENTS over the years!

Need some help? Here’s a few marriage moment ideas:

  • Kiss longer; no peck and run!
  • Play a quick game of UNO, Take Two or Farkle after supper at the kitchen table. (Tell the kids to go to the living room, work on their SS lesson or homework. They need to understand that Mom and Dad need some fun time, too.  Don’t let your kids run the house!  Teach them how to respect your time and how to sit still. You also need to teach them what a good marriage is all about.  They are watching you.)
  • Call each other in between appointments, send a text or Facebook message. Build up some excitement for the end of the day or week. Give your spouse something to anticipate!
  • Go sit down on the back porch under the full moon and sit realllllly close!! Say you don’t have a back porch or a swing? You do have an old blanket and a backyard, right?
  • Sing your favorite love song to each other while dancing in the living room.
  • Hug like you were dating!

Proverbs 5:18 – Let your fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of your youth. . . for a moment and then a whole bunch of moments!!

Warped Living (2)

What in the world is that? Well, Isaiah 47:10 gives us a good picture:

For you have trusted in your wickedness;
You have said, ‘No one sees me’;
Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you;
And you have said in your heart,
‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’

As we saw in last week’s post, warped living is characterized five ways in this passage:

  1. Trusting in your own wickedness.
  2. Thinking that no one sees your sin.
  3. Listening to yourself and to others who agree with you, then applying what you have come to believe and what your peers are saying.
  4. Following your heart.
  5. Controlling your life as if God didn’t exist.

So, what are the manifestations of a warped life? (Connect with the five characteristics above.)

  1. Living in the destructive unbelief of worry, anxiety, fear, dread and making excuses. Tim Keller said, “Worry is a frustrated aspiration to omniscience. Worry is saying “I know and I’m concerned God won’t get it right.” Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
  2. Disregarding the holy, omnipresent, omniscient eye of God who sees your cheating, your speeding, your porn, your over-eating, your laziness, your refusal to own your sin and then repent of it because you like it too much! Proverbs 15:3, The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. (By the way, your children are watching, too!)
  3. Placing the human wisdom of man that imprisons us above the truth of God’s Word that sets us free. Example—When someone shares a troubling Facebook post about a death or illness, note all the humanistic statements.
  4. To follow your heart is make how you feel about something, what you really want, what will make you happy, to be the litmus test for your life’s decisions. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Proverbs 3:5-7 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Psalm 37:4 is crucial in this regard, Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  5. This is living with your mate before marriage; sex outside of marriage; making choices that do not match with the Word of God; no time for prayer; etc.

Living a warped life is to be deluded and led astray from God and His Word. Whatever choices you are making that are currently leading you away from God, please reject them, repent of them, and replace them with that which does not take the place of God. Please meditate on the following:

Fools mock at sin,
But among the upright there is favor
.

10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.

11 The house of the wicked will be overthrown,
But the tent of the upright will flourish.

1There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
(Proverbs 14:9-12)

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore
. (Psalm 16:11)

(Picture – The Crooked House, Sopot, Poland, eurolink.co)