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!

Divorce-Proof Your Marriage (3)

Years ago, country music artist, Barbara Mandrell, made popular a song entitled, Sleeping Single in a Double Bed. The song laments the husband’s departure and how lonely the nights are without him by her side. I’m not condoning the song, but sadly, this song title is played out in many marriages night-after-night.

So, what’s another way to divorce-proof your marriage? Don’t make a habit of sleeping single in a double bed.

The Word of God says, Marriage is honorable (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) among all, and the bed undefiled (pure); but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:4-5). 

What are some things we can learn from this passage that would correct this marriage-killer?

  1. Marriage is honorable because God ordained it at creation (Genesis 2:18), and it is recognized as such by all three persons of the Trinity (Matthew 19:1-9; John 2:1-11; Ephesians 5:18-33).
  2. Marriage is honorable as a lifetime commitment between one woman and one man (Genesis 2:18-25; Malachi 2:16; Matthew 19:1-9; Ephesians 5:18-33).
  3. Marriage is honorable because it is physically and spiritually fulfilling.  When marriage is not given its rightful place, then discontentment and covetousness sets in.  The temptation to “graze in other fields” and think that what you have is just not good enough leads to a broken home and a reproach to Christ. Just as Christ said He would never leave us or forsake us, so should a husband and wife follow suit.  The plans and provisions of God for man and woman is sufficient for all of life.
  4. Marriage is honorable and the bed is too.  The marriage bed refers to sex within the boundaries of marriage.  Take heed to the following from Pastor Steve Cole:

But the Bible affirms the pleasure of the sexual relationship in marriage, both for men and women. Solomon instructs his son to let his wife’s breasts satisfy him at all times, and to be exhilarated with her love (Prov. 5:19). The Song of Solomon extols the joys of sex in marriage for both partners. Paul tells both husbands and wives that they do not have authority over their own bodies, but their spouse does, and that they have a responsibility to meet the sexual needs of their mate as a preventative to immorality (1 Cor. 7:2-5). Sarah refers to sexual relations with her husband as having pleasure with him (Gen. 18:12).

Sex in marriage is directly related to the interpersonal relationship. God designed it that way. There must be mutual sensitivity, caring, and respect in the relationship between husband and wife as the foundation for the enjoyment of the sexual aspect. But I am emphasizing what Paul states, that it is a God-given preventative against sexual sin (1 Cor. 7:2). I once counseled a couple where the husband had fallen into adultery. He and his wife had not had sexual relations in over ten years and she assumed that everything was just fine! He was really angry about this, but he hadn’t said anything. When a neighbor woman became friendly, he fell. Sadly, the couple eventually divorced. It all could have been avoided if they had followed the clear teaching of Scripture: “Stop depriving one another” (1 Cor. 7:5).

So, you want to divorce-proof your marriage, then honor what God said is honorable!  Here are some practical steps:

  1. Go to bed together.  Turn off the TV, the computer, the video games, etc.  If you are making a habit of staying up while your spouse goes to bed, you are not creating an environment of intimacy, love, care and prayer.  One of the sweetest things you can do before drifting off to sleep is pray while holding hands and together casting all your care on the Lord.
  2. Put the children in their bed.  I realize that our little ones can be frightened by storms, for instance, but your children need to know that your bedroom is your haven, not theirs.  They have their rooms.  Our children should never become a hindrance to a healthy marriage.  What a paradox—you let the children sleep with you and it becomes an obstacle in your marriage because you have put them before your spouse. Then if a divorce happens, the children are the ones who get the worse end of the split!  Even in reference to the bed, you need to show your children what a real, honorable marriage looks like.
  3. Make your bedroom a place you really want to be.  If the marriage bed is called honorable by God, then make the bedroom honorable.  Make up your bed in the morning and have nice blankets and covers on your bed.  Make your bedroom inviting.  Don’t stack stuff up on the dresser or leave clothes piled up on the floor or your bedroom looking like a dungeon.  Make your bedroom a castle even on a meager budget.  Add some romantic touches like candles, music, pictures with love quotes, etc.
  4. Don’t go to bed angry.  Ephesians 4:26 reminds us, Do not let the sun go down on your anger.  Anger has destroyed many marriages.  Here’s where praying and forgiveness, whether you feel like it or not, would be so helpful to diffuse and correct any situation of anger.
  5. Don’t make up excuses for not sleeping together.  So, for instance, your husband snores. Get some earplugs, medical help, play music, whatever, but let your marriage vows of “for better, for worse” be fulfilled here.  Now, I realize that health issues may cause you to sleep elsewhere, but if all is well, please sleep with your spouse. Make up for time away a night during the day! Remember, your flesh and the devil will give you all the excuses you need to destroy your relationship.

God is able, and He is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 9:8)

No more sleeping single in a double-bed!!

Divorce-Proof Your Marriage (2)

41st Anniversary Dinner Date at Beauty Spot on the AT

As I mentioned in the previous post, no one stands before the preacher on their wedding day and says, “I wonder how we can get a divorce?” But as time rolls along, the shine wears off of that glorious wedding day, the demands, conflicts, pressures and distractions of life crowd in, and husbands and wives begin to take each other for granted.

Furthermore, no married couple ends up in divorce court because they decided on a whim to take a drive downtown to visit the judge and end their marriage! But, sadly, somewhere along the line, the marriage begins to deteriorate and divorce becomes a potential reality.

Here’s another way to divorce-proof your marriage.

  1. Reject living your lives on two separate tracks

Genesis 2:18, 23-25,  And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  And And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

God intended for a husband and wife to have a close, intimate relationship by cleaving to one another, sharing life together and not living on two separate tracks.

One of the ways to accomplish God’s plan, no matter how long you have been married or how old you are, is to go back to doing the things you did when you dated before marriage or in those early years of marriage. 

Too many couples stop dating after they are married.

Man likes a conquest, so when he finally is married, he has conquered.  In his mind, since he has won over his bride, it’s time to move on to the next conquest.  Therefore, he often leaves his wife in the dust!

Dating can be so much fun!! 

Now, I have to admit that my dating life in high school and college for the most part was hazardous at best!  I will say that my eyes lit up like Christmas morning when I went to college and heard that there were three girls to every one guy!!  Hubba, hubba!! 

No matter, dating comes with its own set of actions that quite frankly need to be carried on into and through our married lives.  To maintain and enjoy the grace gift of marriage, put some spice back into your life!  Act like you are dating again.  Go through the list below and start enjoying each other again. 

Remember when you dated?

  • You were always thinking about each other.  No way you could have a profitable day at school or work because he/she was always on your mind!
  • You looked for every chance to be with each other.  School or work would not end soon enough!!
  • You left little reminders here and there to remind your sweetheart of your love and devotion.  It might have been a note left in a conspicuous location, their favorite candy bar, a “call up on the radio and request their  favorite song” reminder, a romantic card sent through the mail, a phone message, etc.
  • You held hands as you walked through the amusement park.  You were always looking for that ride that gave you good reason to snuggle up!  You were just hoping that she would be afraid and seek the shelter of your arms!!  You shared some popcorn and a Coke as you sat under the shade tree and looked so adoringly into each other’s eyes.  Fun times at the amusement park!
  • You talked for hours and hours and hours and hours on the phone!
  • You dressed up for each other.  You wanted to look sharp!  You smelled good, too. 🙂
  • As a man, you always paid the bill on a date, opened the car door for her, seated her at the table, showed her great respect, and was her protector.
  • You had fun together!

Take some time to read Song of Solomon 1:7-19 as a couple. Note how the Shulamite and the Beloved are talking to each other, praising each other, adoring each other. They were intentionally spending time together . . . perhaps on a date!

Husband, plan a date with your sweetheart this week? Enjoy the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18).

RIP or LITF

RIP . . . you see this attached to a social media post almost every day. The sentiment is there, but do we really know what RIP means? Do we know what we are saying? What’s its origin? Is it a blanket statement for all deaths?

Wikipedia says, “’Rest in peace’ (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as R.I.P. or RIP. The phrase was not found on tombstones before the eighth century. It became ubiquitous on the tombs of Christians in the 18th century, and for High Church Anglicans, as well as Roman Catholics in particular, it was a prayerful request that their soul should find peace in the afterlife.”

Of the questions in the first paragraph, I think the last one is the most important one. 

Can we say RIP for every death? 

For all who die in Christ as a true born again believer, yes; for all who choose to reject Christ’s offer of salvation; no.

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus give us a good answer (Luke 16:19-31).  For the rich man, he is in the place of torment, apart from God, as is the current state of all unbelievers.  For Lazarus, he is in Paradise just as Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Another comforting truth for believers is found in 2 Corinthians 5:8 which assures us that we are immediately in the presence of the Lord upon death.

So, do unbelievers rest in peace?  Peace nor rest can be found in a place of torment.  Furthermore, to randomly attach RIP to someone that you are uncertain of their eternal state is careless.

The worst tragedy today is that unsaved people around the world died and entered into eternal torment. The greatest blessing for believers today is that many around the world entered into eternal rest, joy, and peace in the presence of Christ.

So, could RIP be placed on your tombstone with complete certainty? 

If you are not truly born again, a genuine follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, would you take time to watch the following video?  It will mean the difference between RIP or LITF (Living in Torment Forever).

Please don’t take death and eternity lightly!

DADS

One of the greatest needs in our homes, churches, schools, sports teams, and nation today is DADS, . . .

Delivered by the gospel.

All of us dads were born spiritually dead, living under the control of Satan, self and the world and under God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). As much as we think as a man we can fix our sinful condition, work our way to heaven, fill the hole in our soul, we are forever lost. We cannot fix the greatest crisis in our lives.

Here’s the Good News! But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The most important aspect of being a dad is for Christ to live in us that He may live His life out of us so that our children see Christ and not us (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:4-10; Colossians 1:27).

Daily we surrender to Christ. Daily we come to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30). Daily we seek Christ (Matthew 6:24-34). Daily we look for Christ return (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Christ is our life (John 10:10; Galatians 2:20).

Adores his wife

Merriman-Webster defines “adore” as “to regard with loving admiration and devotion.” According to Ephesians 2:7, the reason God saves us is to show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Dads, just as God demonstrates His grace toward us through Christ every moment of each day, we can through Christ adore our children’s mom, our wife. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

Dad, show your children how to love and respect their future spouse.

Demonstrate before them a grace-enabled, God-honored marriage (Ephesians 5:18-33)!!

Disciples his children

Dads spend hours teaching and coaching their children how to hit or field a baseball. Perhaps it’s how to drive a car. Maybe it’s training in construction.

The best training a dad can give his son or daughter is how to know Christ as personal Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:1-9); to love, read, and study the Bible (Psalms 19:7-11; 119:1-176); to know how to share Jesus with others (1 Peter 3:15); to know how to pray (Study how Jesus prayed and the prayers of Paul, Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-12); to know how to praise the Lord and enjoy life (Psalms 100, 150; Hebrews 13:15); to know how to live the Christ-life (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20) and to know how to laugh and have fun (Proverbs 17:22)!!

Seeks the eternal things

One day your children will depart from your home and your training. May that which they love above all things and seek after be the eternal things. Life here is so temporal as is power, prestige, position, possessions, and property. We will leave it all behind one day.

May you live in such a way that your children see you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), having set your mind/affection on things above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2)., that in all things Christ has the preeminence (Colossians 1:18) because the passion of your life is to know Christ (Philippians 3:4-10).

Happy DADS Day!! Be encouraged!! Stay the course!! Grace is sufficient!!

So very grateful for my Christ-centered dad, for the blessing of being of dad, and for my sons-in-law who are and will be godly dads!!!

Stir the Embers! (2)

“Feed the fire!”

That’s another way to say, “stir the embers.”

I love my firepit out back! There’s just something special about a fire on a cool evening, fixings for s’mores, my wife, and the sun setting behind us.

My family and others laugh at me about how much I love building a fire. One thing is for certain, if I don’t feed the fire or stir the embers, it will go out. And, I’m always a bit disappointed to see a good fire come to an end because guests have left or it’s time to call it a night.

As my wife and I approach our 41st wedding anniversary, we are reminded that stirring the embers is a constant need if any marriage is to thrive and survive!

Marriage is a blessed grace gift from God that He owns (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6), and He enables its fulfillment even in the toughest of times (1 Peter 3:1-7; 4:1-11; 5:5-10).

Here’s five “logs” to add to the fire of your marriage lest it fade and die out. You do not want to just be married in name only, sadly so distant from each other.

Log #1 Keep on dating long after you have been married! This can happen at home, in the backyard, at the kitchen table, at the coffee shop/bookstore, at the beach, in the mountains, downtown, or in another country.

Log #2Do not let your children come between you and your spouse. You vowed to love and cherish your spouse until death do you part. You promised to let no one come between you and your spouse.

One of the greatest securities you can offer your children is to have a fun, loving, devoted, gospel-driven marriage!

Log #3 Hug and kiss! Repeat. Hug and kiss! Repeat. Hug and kiss! Repeat. — Like you wanted to and did when you were engaged!! Don’t fall into the trap of quick pecks/kisses!

Log #4Leave loves notes or cards around the house, in a book, on the mirror, attached to the stirring wheel in the car/truck, or via texts.

Log #5Make prayer with each other a priority on a daily basis! Even if you are out of town, call on the phone.

How’s your marriage fire right now?

Do the embers need to be stirred?

Well, have at it! Throw a log on the fire right now!!

Stir the Embers!

Has the fire of romance waned over the years?

Have children or work or busy schedules come between you and your marriage relationship?

Sometimes we are so prone to keep wishing for what we don’t have that we forget what we do have, and . . . sometimes what we long for is right in front of us.

Here’s an idea to help you. Make sure the children are in bed at a set time. Husband, you order a personal pan pizza from the shop nearby and be ready to go get it or have it delivered. Wife, get out your best china and crystal glasses. If you don’t have these, then the best tableware and glasses will do. Don’t go cheap with paper plates and paper napkins. Create a mood, an atmosphere that says, “This matters.”

Set a time to meet in the bedroom. No TV, no phones and notifications, no internet, no children. Add candlelight, romantic music, a small table with cloth napkins and each other. Be ready when hubs arrives home with the pizza or is delivered.

Go back to the days when you were dating when you just loved to hear each other breathe!!

As you enjoy your pizza, . . .

  • Share five reasons why you love each other.
  • Share one way to improve your marriage . . . without “finger pointing.”

Once you have finished your pizza and discussion, then watch a movie. Just enjoy each other’s company!

One more thing, it’ll be okay to leave the dishes until morning!

Stir the embers!!

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
(Proverbs 5:15-18)

Staying Power

44 years.

38 years.

48 years.

These numbers represent folks who Denise and I had the joy of sharing in sweet fellowship this past Saturday and Sunday in two different locations.

For 38 and 44 years, Seth and Linda, now retired, have labored for the Lord in the fields of Christian education.

For 48 years, Bacilio and Eunice has labored faithfully in the mission fields of Hispanic nations. Although the years have taken its toll on him, he said to me, “Dale, I am busier now that I have ever been.”

As I have pondered their lives after our recent visits, my heart was once again encouraged to finish well; to have staying power over the long haul.

Seth & Linda (Gray & maroon)

How does someone in full-time vocational ministry “stay by the stuff” until the end?

What’s the “glue” that helps us “stick-to-it”? Having been involved in ministry now for over 41 years as well as growing up in a pastor’s home, I share these with a bit of experience, yet knowing that my race has not been finished.

  • Keep your heart fresh in your walk with the Lord by living life in the awe and wonder of Who God is! (Psalms 34:1-3; 63:1-4; 91:1-2; 145:1-21)
  • Live a life of prayer, not a prayer life. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Memorize and meditate on Scripture so when you talk to yourself, rather than listening to yourself, you have something really worthwhile, transformative to say. (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)
  • Learn to rest spiritually, mentally, and physically. There is no virtue in having your “foot-to-the-pedal” 24/7. (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 6:31; Philippians 4:6-8)
  • Make daily investments in your marriage; more deposits than withdrawals. Outside of Christ, your wife needs to be your best friend. (Proverbs 5:15-23; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Song of Solomon 4:9-11; Ephesians 5:18-33)
  • Enjoy the journey! Laugh a lot! Have fun! Don’t take yourself so serious! (Psalm 16:11; Proverbs 15:15; 17:22; Ecclesiastes 3:4)
  • Love people as Christ does. (Matthew 22:37-40; John 15:9-17; 1 John 4:21)
  • Expect to be disappointed and suffer at the hands of people. Why should I be treated any better than Jesus was? And, make sure you do not live with a martyr’s complex! (Hebrews 12:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:10)
  • Live a life of gratitude. (Colossians 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 12:28)
  • Remember, few men cannot stand the applause. (1 Corinthians 10:31; Proverbs 16:18)
  • Your identity is not in a successful sermon or project but in Christ alone. (Philippians 3:4-14)
  • Surround yourself with godly, encouraging, edifying, loving, transparent friends inside and outside your ministry. (Proverbs 27:17; Romans 16:1-16; Philippians 2:19-30)
  • Live with the Bema in view as well as eternity. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Revelation 21-22)
  • Live the gospel and share the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 1:27)

One final thought comes to mind as I consider these four faithful laborers.

At this late date in their lives, they still have such a winsome personality, a sweet disposition and a joy-filled heart in spite of the aging process and current physical hinderances.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).