If You Can't Say Something Nice

If You Can't Say Something Nice

"Although that fleece isn't flattering, I bet it's super warm!"

Yes, my super husband, my perfect gift from God, said that to me. About a fleece I was wearing. In the car. On our way to work together. Past the point of possibly changing my clothes. Did it hurt my feelings? Yes. Did he mean to hurt me? No. But I love the way Dennis Rainey sums it up:

No other human relationship can approach the potential for intimacy and oneness than can be found within the context of the marriage commitment. And yet no other relationship can bring with it as many adjustments, difficulties, and even hurts. ~Dennis Rainey

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Expectations

Expectations

Growing up, my father knew everything and could fix anything- plumbing, electrical, carpentry, roofing, cars- you name it, he could do it. Yep, I grew up in Superman's house, watching him leap tall buildings and race with locomotives. So when Scott and I got married, I knew he couldn't possibly be Superman. Every time something required repair in our house, I would tell Scott he couldn't fix it and that he needed to call my dad. And most times, Scott lived right into my negative expectations.

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Button Pusher

Button Pusher

Are you a button pusher? Is your husband?You know what I'm talking about, it's that 'thing' you two just can't talk about without it becoming the biggest issue in the house, just short of exploding into World War III. And it may be over something as simple as pork rinds, how your husband chews his food, or the route you take to church.

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Just Say Thank You

Just Say Thank You

Around our tenth wedding anniversary, my husband Scott bought me an anniversary band, giving it to me at Christmastime. I was mortified. The thoughts that raced through my head and came out of my mouth unfiltered were so disrespectful, and not the response he anticipated. 'I can't believe you did this. I can't believe you spent this kind of money. I don't want expensive jewelry. What were you thinking?' It makes my heart sad to think about it now. Why didn't I just say thank you?

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Bye-Bye Granny Panties!

Bye-Bye Granny Panties!

Hold on to your blue jeans for this one,  here comes a mighty confession! As a matter of fact, someone just might want to call me up and take me out to lunch! Whoodoggie...forget the lunch, just drop by my office with a dozen cream filled doughnuts, a couple of jars of crunchy peanut butter and some chocolate bars. I am coming clean and it feels good. It's a day of revelation!

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How did I not know?

How did I not know?

"I feel like such a fool!"

We hear that all the time from spouses who have found out that their husbands or wives have been having an affair and they didn't know about it. And they feel like such a fool because they feel they should have known about it. They beat themselves up with the question "how did I miss all the signs?" They feel like everyone in the world knows except them.

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Sho' Nuff I've Done Flunked Motherhood!

motherhood

It was a week full of demanding work schedules, speaking engagements, sports, church, kids' activities, bad news, and the onslaught of a severe case of “people pleasing syndrome.” I had just about managed to pluck out every protruding, scraggly, gray hair that was left standing catty wampus on my head. Everything and everyone seemed to get on my last nerve. There were unanswered emails, voice mails, committee meetings, Facebook messages, and a To Do List that would stretch from the top of a fifteen story high-rise building to a bottom floor basement.

Feelings of Failure in Motherhood

Why couldn’t I get it together? I felt like a complete momma failure. I mean, all the other moms bake gourmet home cooked meals, AND they change their bed sheets every two days. It seemed I could barely even manage to wash or change our bed linens once a month.

Feeling determined, I resolved that I would at least separate our endless mound of laundry into two piles. There was dirty, and then there was funky. Dirty meaning we could possibly wear it ONE more time, and funky meant you better grab a gas mask and RUN just as fast as you can while loading it.

In all honesty, the sense of defeat had left me feeling overwhelmed, burdened, unappreciated, and feeling so insignificant.... I thought to myself, Sho’Nuff I’ve Done Flunked Motherhood!

The Enemy’s Lies

You ever notice how that cotton pickin’, good for nothing enemy likes to take a strike at you, and whip up on your insecurities when your life is overwhelmed, filled with chaos from the busyness, and your priorities are out of line?

My friend, some of Satan’s greatest weapons are psychological. He wants to bombard your thoughts with his pesky, poisonous darts so that you feel like you can’t take it anymore, like you have surely messed up, will never get it right, and that you have become a genuine, fortified momma loser! The Devil is a liar!

If we are not careful, we can become so exhausted, and full of stress that we undoubtedly begin to flirt with depression, give in to attacks, feast on and believe in the enemies lies. Pretty soon we find ourselves entertaining them as truth.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. ~1 Peter 5:7-8

The Real Moment of Truth

Your failures, weaknesses, and the sin of being overcommitted and overwhelmed is not who YOU are! I have come to fully recognize that God is glorified when I admit my failures, and when I turn to Him for help.

There are times that I have to go to Him and say, Father God, I need you to help me with this pride and arrogance in my heart, this desire to be a people pleaser, and my sin of misplaced priorities. I need your grace, wisdom and divine strength. Lord, soften my rough edges and help me to set my eyes on you. Order my steps and my thoughts today.

M.O.M.

So what do you do as a mom when you feel like you are tee-totally losing it?

The toilets have all overflowed, the fungus from the spilt baby milk and Cheerios has grown into the carpet pattern, the white underwear have all turned pink from being washed with your favorite red blouse, the only vegetable you have served your kids the entire week is the all American potato which has been served in the form of a high fat French-fry, and you feel like surely if you were graded by your college professor you would receive a whopping F minus for your momma skills.

M- MANAGE YOUR THOUGHTS - That’s right take control of your thoughts! Think on things that are true, pure, holy, right, praiseworthy…. You are a great mom! You are learning and growing. With Christ on your side there is absolutely, positively, nothing that you are not capable of doing.

O-Obedience to God through prayer and by taking time to slow down, get alone with our Father and refresh your spirit through praying and the reading of God’s word.

M- My God Sees Me – Remember your God is a God who sees and hears. You can be assured that He hears the words we utter. Honeychild, they may be uttered out of despair, out of a need, a pressing momma crisis, or they may be uttered out of praise and thanksgiving. He sees and hears our deepest moaning and groanings. When you find your mind being wracked with doubts and worries, take heart that our God knows what you are concerned about.

Girlfriends we can be confident in this one thing, God is keeping watch over us. He understands what we are going through. He is always in control.

 

 

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Your donation is more than a tax deduction- it’s a tool to empower us to continue changing lives, marriages, and legacies. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

The Art of Gentle Persuasion

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole world? I mean, that thing you do just for you - because it just seems to make everything else in life "right"? Now imagine if that one thing were taken away from you suddenly. Possibly permanently.

What sort of mood might that put you in?

gentle

That one thing for me is running. Like Eric Liddel once said, "when I run I feel His pleasure." Maybe it's because I'm naturally very hyperactive and running just seems to calm my mind and spirit. Or maybe I was just born to run. But it's something I really enjoy, and something I like doing on my own or with a friend, out on a deserted country road or in the middle of a busy metropolis. I enjoy long runs especially. I'm one of those guys who thinks it's hardly worth lacing up unless it's going to be for at least 5 miles. Half marathons are just bliss to me, and I've even got a handful of marathons under my belt.

Get the picture?

But a couple of months ago, things changed. I developed some nagging injuries and had to stop running. At first I thought I could scale back, but that didn't work out so well. So, I've stopped. Entirely.

I haven't stopped exercising altogether. I've been to the gym a handful of times. Stationary rowing, cycling, stair climbing, and elliptical machines at least allow me some way to get in a calorie burn. But it's not running. I've also been cycling. And some of the guys I ride with are pretty intense cyclists, so I certainly get in a good calorie burn. But it's not running.

I'm usually one of those "silver lining" people. I can always find the good in just about anything, and I'm rarely down for long. But over the past several weeks my mood has been, well, deteriorating. You might even say I've bordered on depression.

A couple of days ago, I went home for lunch. What I really wanted to do was go for a run. But since that's not possible right now, I went home. And I just sat there. Didn't want to eat, didn't want to do anything.

Gentle Pursuit

My wife, Tiffany, had been at work that morning as well (we work in the same office, same department), and she was planning to go to the gym at lunch time. So I didn't expect to see her home, which was just fine with me. I wasn't much good to anyone anyway.

But then she came home, and obviously hadn't been to the gym. She went to the kitchen saying how she decided get some things started for dinner and might go to the gym later. Then she said she was going to make herself something to eat, did I want something too? Sure, why not. Then she asked if I'd like to go to the gym with her. Well, guess I could. At least I'd get some sort of exercise.

In essence, my wife changed her plans and went out of her way to include me in what she was doing when in fact she really didn't have to. Her God-given intuition told her I was on the brink of a deep sadness. And through her thoughtful, intentional actions, my mood was changed entirely!

Sure, it was more of the stationary bike and the elliptical that day, which would not be my preference. But it was with my wife, who took the time and effort to demonstrate love and consideration for me, solely for my benefit, just when I needed it. She gave up a little of her self, and adjusted her schedule - all for my benefit. It wasn't some flamboyant gesture, just gentle persuasion  - right when I needed it most. And that made all the difference.

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. ~Proverbs 31:10 LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT ART OF MARRIAGE! Join us September 5-6 at Faith Fellowship in Kinston! 

AOM

Want to unplug on FamilyLife's Fifth Annual Love Like You Mean It Cruise 2015? Book with our group and sail away with us! 

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Enjoy Al Mohler, Crawford & Karen Loritts, Dennis Rainey, Chris August, Andrew Peterson, Shaunti Feldhahn, Ron Deal, David Nasar, Jimmy McNeal, Kerri Pomarolli and Ron McGehee...and Intentionally Yours' Scott & Sherry Jennings at I Still Do, a one day marriage event that will strengthen your marriage and rekindle the romance!

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We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

Mother's Day: Thanks, Mom...I Am Grateful

Mother's Day. It's been rolling around every year since 1908. Well before I entered this world. But in my 40+ years of being a Son, 20+ years of being a Husband, and now 15 years of being a Dad, I'm not sure I've ever gotten it right. On May 6th, 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant did a great job of honoring his Mom on an international platform.

I'd have to say, if anyone ever did, he got it right! I just posted a short clip, but the full speech brought me to tears. In addition to taking some humorous "pot shots" at some of the people/organizations who said he'd never amount to much, Durant just poured his heart out in thanks for the selfless sacrifice that his Mom made through the years. SO powerful!

But Mother's Day is always a mixed bag for me.

mother

It's not Wife's Day, it's Mother's Day

I want to honor my wife. She IS a great Mother to our kids, but of course she's not *my* Mom, so I've never felt a great need to make a big deal about her on Mother's Day. I believe I've even told her in the past, "It's not Wife's Day, it's Mother's Day." Yeah...not good. So, as you can imagine, I've really botched it up for my wife on more than one occasion. Thank God for forgiveness and second chances, right? Of course, I do see the need to model honoring her well to my kids. This is something I endeavor to do every day. And I will keep trying to get it right on Mother's Day. But I'll be the first to say that I've probably got a long way to go.

I do have my reasons. Or maybe I should just say, there are reasons for why I am so conflicted.

 

Losing My Mother

My birth Mother died when I was 9 months old, largely because she chose not to abort me. There's a longer story but that's the nut shell. This brings both gratitude and regret. I am incredibly grateful for the sacrifice my Mother gave so that I could live. As John 15:13 states so clearly, there really is no greater love. And it's not as though she knew how I would turn out. I was a total unknown quantity, and yet she gave her life for me. She is, and will always be, my hero. But I'm not so sure her choice was even about me, really. On her tombstone is Philippians 1:21 "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain." She gave her life to Christ just a few years earlier, and when she did, everything changed - including my life. To give up her chance at continuing to live was just being obedient, just following Christ's example. In truth, all of us have someone who has given up his life so that we may live. She recognized that, and followed in His footsteps. I am grateful.

Another Mother

But there's more reason for my source of conflict around Mother's Day. From the time I was 6, I was raised by a wonderful woman I call "Mom", really my step-Mom, and I appreciate greatly and love her much. I wasn't an easy kid to raise. I was full of energy, extremely curious, very naive, and not just a little head strong. Just picture a real-life Dennis the Menace. That was me. Only, my "Mr. Wilson" would be my Mom. So, needless to say, we didn't always get along very well. There were humorous moments, but a lot of tension as well. It was a really good thing when I finally reached adulthood and began to grow up a little. My Mom and I get along really well now - I'd say we even enjoy one another. But again, I've not always done a very good job of honoring this woman whom God has given me as Mom.

The tension for me, even now, is that I have this fierce sense of loyalty to my bio Mom - my first Mom. It's like I don't want to give too much honor to my second Mom as it might diminish my love for my first Mom. But I keep working on it. Because I am grateful.

Uniquely Prepared for the Foster Parent Journey

You may be reading this and feeling just a bit sorry for me. Please don't. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good, for those who love and are called of God. And I'm seeing how that has happened (is happening) in my life. You see, I'm a foster parent. This is a new journey for our family, sort of. My wife and I were foster parents before we had kids of our own, and just recently we've taken up that mantle once again. We've been hosting a young man in our home as part of a respite (temporary) situation, and I see in his life a tension that I recognize very clearly. In fact, it's a tension that I am uniquely equipped to not only recognize but to empathize - because of my life's journey. I see how he holds his birth family (as messed up as they may be) in high esteem, and how that has brought conflict between him and his adoptive family. I see how that shapes many of the decisions he makes, sometimes almost incapacitating him. And I get it. I've experienced some of the same feelings, the automatic protective mechanisms, the first-nature responses to life.

And I know, God can use me - and all of my life experiences - for the good of this young man, as well as others who will come through our home. Not in spite of who I am or my life experiences, but because of them. And I am grateful.

 

 

IT'S ART OF MARRIAGE TIME!! We've got two events in May, will you join us in Pikeville, North Carolina or Poquoson, Virginia to work on the masterpiece of your marriage? 

AOM

FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember gave us God's blueprint for marriage and continues to strengthen and transform it, it can change yours, too!

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Want to unplug on FamilyLife's Fifth Annual Love Like You Mean It Cruise 2015? Book with our group and sail away with us! 

christian cruise

Enjoy Al Mohler, Crawford & Karen Loritts, Dennis Rainey, Chris August, Andrew Peterson, Shaunti Feldhahn, Ron Deal, David Nasar, Jimmy McNeal, Kerri Pomarolli and Ron McGehee...and Intentionally Yours' Scott & Sherry Jennings at I Still Do, a one day marriage event that will strengthen your marriage and rekindle the romance!

ISD-I-Still-Do-Fall-2014

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2E7-A0d-cM?rel=0]

We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

Protect, Provide, Pursue

Protect, Provide, Pursue

Men, we've all been there. You just get comfortable in bed and at the very moment you're drifting off to dreamland, your wife rolls over and says she thinks she heard a noise downstairs. What's your first reaction? If you're like me it's to say "I didn't hear anything." Which to your wife loosely translated means "I'm not really concerned about what concerns you, I just want to sleep." This does not promote a feeling of security in your wife's heart.

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God Wants Me to be Happy!

"It might seem crazy what I'm 'bout to saySunshine she's here, you can take a break I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space With the air, like I don't care baby by the way

Because I'm Happy...

...Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth"

This song by Pharrell Williams is a pretty catchy tune. I can't hardly NOT clap along (click the link & take a listen while you read...it's almost infectious).

But...

It might seem crazy what I'm 'bout to say...

Not that God doesn't want His children to be happy, but our happiness is not God's highest priority.

Not even close.

happy

There are many things God wants for us more than being happy.

God desires obedience from us (1 Samuel 15:22) - and despises our sacrifices to Him when we are not obedient (Amos 5:18-24). In fact, it would seem He's more pleased with brokenness than happiness (Psalm 51:17).

He has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), but those plans might include some pretty humiliating circumstances - as was the case for the Israelites who were in captivity when God declared His good plans to Jeremiah. I'm thinking they weren't really too happy.

And He promises to work everything for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). But "everything" could include suffering, groaning, weakness and pain (Romans 8:18-27).

He even promises blessing to those who are faithful, and who persevere under trial (James 1:12) - but typically those blessings are more heavenly in nature than earthly. And yeah, to persevere under trial, that means there would be, well...trial. I don't know too many people who can be happy in the midst of trial.

Isn't my marriage supposed to make me happy?

I wrote in a previous blog, I Deserve It, that the enemy has a small bag of tricks that he just keeps using over and over - because they work. They are lies he uses to confuse. And then with them he will steal our passion, kill our commitment, and destroy our lives and legacies. That's what he is here to do.

Too many marriages end up in crisis or destroyed altogether because of this lie that "God wants me to be happy." This becomes justification for all sorts of behavior that is clearly against scriptural teaching, clearly not in the best interest of the marriage. Sherry Jennings writes about God's purposes for marriage very well in her blog titled "Isn't marriage supposed to make me happy?"

Paul David Tripp recently came through where I work and shared a morning devotion with us. Now there's a man who can rightly divide the Word of Truth in such a way that you're likely to have an "Ah Ha!" and a "Duh" moment simultaneously! Or at least that was my response. During his time sharing with us, Paul taught from Mark 6:45-52 to explain some pretty cool truths. He shared how Christ will "take us where we don't choose to go in order to produce in us what we cannot achieve on our own."  If you take me where I don't wanna go, I'm not likely to be very happy about it. But according to Tripp, when Jesus does that to His followers, that's what the Bible calls grace.

Not the grace of release or relief, but the grace of refinement.

Have you ever heard it stated that way? Paul said this form of "uncomfortable grace" is a sure sign of God's redemptive love. He also said something I've often stated - we give the enemy too much credit. Much of what we experience - the difficulties as we see them - are gifts from a glorious God, and are His evidence of grace in our lives. Not some punishment or attack of the enemy at all. But are they designed to make us happy? I don't think so. They're designed, as Paul says, to refine us. Or in other words, to make us holy.

And that's just what scripture confirms in 1 Peter 1:13-16.

But I guess maybe that doesn't fit so well into a catchy tune...not that there's necessarily anything wrong with a catchy tune. Or being happy.

Sing it with me now!

Clap along if you feel holiness is the truth... Because He's holy...

 

How do stepfamilies handle stress? How do you choose between spouse and child? Learn powerful, practical tools to build YOUR successful stepfamily from world renown expert Ron Deal!

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FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember gave us God's blueprint for marriage and continues to strengthen and transform it, it can change yours, too!

weekend to remember

Want to unplug on FamilyLife's Fifth Annual Love Like You Mean It Cruise 2015? Book with our group and sail away with us! 

christian cruise

We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

To bake or not to bake - that is (or seems to be) the question

Recently, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill (SB 1062) that would essentially allow private businesses the ability to refrain from serving people who hold different moral views than them, based on those views.  Specifically, allowing businesses to turn away service from gay or lesbian patrons. Governor Brewer's reasoning, in a word, was discrimination. In her words, "Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else." Discrimination. That word alone gives me pause. It's a dirty word in our society - more so than a lot of words we once held to be vulgar. In truth, I think that everyone discriminates, in the true sense of the word, every day. We all make personal judgments and decisions based on the discernible facts at our disposal. Not saying that's always a good thing, just saying it is common and unavoidable. But maybe I digress... The responses to Brewer's decision have been all over the place.  A lot of the responses, I would say, are fairly typical. The GLBT community and supporters are celebrating. The offended business owners cry foul. What I find disconcerting in all of this is the Christian community's response - or more accurately, responses. We, as the bride of Christ, seem to be rather schizophrenic on this issue. Within my own Facebook feed, separated by only a couple of posts, I saw one Christian friend of mine post an article with the header "Perhaps Love Bakes a Cake." It's generally the idea that love trumps everything else. Another Christian friend posted an article entitled "Would Jesus Bake a Cake..." Its general assertion is that Jesus would not have anything to do with gay marriage. I encourage you to read both of these articles for yourself. I think they both stray beyond and fall short of scripture's teaching. bake In the first article, the writer asserts that the loving thing to do would be to go ahead and serve those who are different from us, who do not hold the same beliefs. Okay. But as reasoning, the writer cites compelling examples of how Christians seem to only have a problem with certain sins while basically condoning others. For example, to be unsupportive of gay marriage, yet celebrate the marriage of a couple who are admittedly engaging in premarital sex. It does seem pretty hypocritical. But is this line of thought really reason enough for baking the cake? Is the author's description of love reason enough? In the other post, the author asks "should a Jewish baker should be forced to make a cake for a group that wants to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler?" And "Was it wrong for a supermarket in New Jersey to refuse to write the name of a couple’s 3-year-old son in frosting on a birthday cake? The child's name is Adolf Hitler Campbell." There is another kind of hypocrisy exposed here. What's the proper response? Is it wrong for the government to force someone who holds a particular stance because of moral conviction to serve someone who does not hold that same stance? Yes, I think so. But maybe the better question to ask is this: Would it be wrong for that person to be "bigger than the issue" and go ahead and serve them anyway? Absolutely not. In fact, I think that's how Jesus would respond.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. ~Isaiah 53:7-9 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. ~1 Peter 2:20-23

Would Jesus bake a cake for a gay couple?

Unlike the author of Would Jesus Bake a Cake... I think He might. He was called the friend of sinners. He shared meals with prostitutes, tax collectors and people clearly labeled by the church of that day as “sinners.” I think He would just as readily share a meal with gay sinners as straight sinners. Even His own disciples were perplexed by the "bad company" He seemed intent upon keeping. But the thought comes to me: Could it be that shop owners and photographers are just scared of being labeled as "gay friendly"? But would that really be so bad, if those same shop owners used that influence to share the hope that they have, the love that Christ has given them, and the truth of God's Word? Would Jesus attend a gay wedding? Or would He give the couple a wedding gift - maybe a toaster or a couple of nice crystal glasses with their names engraved? I don't think so.  There is a line somewhere between baking a cake – serving and spending time with sinful people - and conducting one’s behavior in ways that would signify celebrating their sin. Jesus would have a different approach.

Jesus would speak truth.

He would not be swayed or sidetracked. He would speak nothing but truth, out of nothing but love. Look at how He interacted with the Samaritan woman at the well. He knew the depth of her depravity, even when asking her for a drink of water, yet the words He spoke brought about a new understanding of her sinful condition, which resulted in an abrupt change in her behavior and nothing short of a transformation - not just for her but for all those around her. When Jesus ate with Zacchaeus, the response was not only repentance for sin, but restitution. And when Jesus look on with love at the rich young man who had apparently lived about as close to a righteous life in his own power as anyone ever has, Christ's loving response was truth - to expose the one area of sin that kept the young man from having fellowship with Christ - the one area that really kept him from being a true follower. Being gay, as far as I’m concerned, is no more sinful than any other sin. I do not desire to single out any one area as beyond Christ’s redemption, but in this case I do desire to share a biblical, loving, truth-clad response due to the exposure that this particular area - gay marriage - is continually receiving. I understand that in order to agree with me on this point of speaking truth into sin, you must view being gay as a sin. Scripture has plenty to say about that. I find debate about this issue to be worse than useless, but to remain scripturally sound I'll mention that in Ephesians 5 there is a list of behaviors that do not characterize the life of a Christ-follower. The English phrase "sexual immorality," also translated fornication, is among them. The original word, pornea, is used many places in scripture and carries with it a universal meaning that includes adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, and even bestiality. Scripture is abundantly clear that these are not acceptable behaviors for those who desire to follow Christ.

Marriage defined

And ultimately, marriage, as portrayed multiple, multiple times in scripture, is intended to mirror the relationship that Christ Himself has with His bride – the church (universal). Scripture never refers to Christ’s bride in any other way except, well His (male) bride (female)You can twist scripture if you want - as some have done. But even with scripture aside (which I would never prescribe) it does not take a scientist, scholar, or theologian to understand that men and women were designed considerably different and for specific functions within the greater scheme of life. No gay couple will ever be able to naturally reproduce children, because that is outside of God's design. So the only way for them to have children is actually to take children who have been produced, in some manner, by a heterosexual union (even if in a test tube). No gay couple will ever be able to have natural sexual relations where the designed intent of the sexual organs is completely fulfilled. Male & female are designed with certain intended functions. I do not say this to condemn - that's not my place, but rather to point out truth. There is an order to God's design. We can overlook or disregard His order, but that does not change His design. And my, admittedly simplified, understanding is that sin occurs when God's design is disregarded. Some would say that gay people have no choice in the matter. It’s just who they are. Yet I have a friend who has gay tendencies – and says it’s been that way for as long as he can remember - yet believes scripture and chooses not to gratify his desires but instead submits to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He says that for him it’s no different than a straight man choosing fidelity rather than giving in to his tendency toward seeking pornography. It’s all about obedience and faith. But what if it's really personal? What if it's not a gay wedding? Would I participate in the wedding of my straight child, even if they're marrying someone of the opposite gender whom I do not approve?  This is a question I've been asked more than once, in some variation.

Truth in Love

I think so. Because 1) I love my children unconditionally. 2) I want to be available to help them and their new spouse, and will continue to point them to God and His blueprint for their lives and marriage as long as they allow me to do so. Which brings me to 3) and the reason I cannot not support gay marriage. It's not God's blueprint. It's like saying I support a round square. There is no such thing. Gay marriage is not marriage at all, but some other thing dressed up to appear like marriage. If it were my child, I would share the truth of God's Word with them - even at the very real risk of offending them - not out of condemnation but out of love for them. I would also express my availability to them and desire to continue being part of their life. Disagreeing with them does not mean the end of the relationship. Would our fellowship suffer? Yes, I would expect it might. 2 Corinthians 6 addresses this very thing. This unequal yoking is something I do not believe the Holy Spirit would ever lead me to do. He would lead me to love in truth. And that's where I think we, as self-proclaimed Christ Followers fall short too many times. We won't even call sin for what it is. We don't speak truth, or we do it in a way that is not loving. Jesus says we are salt and light. Salt adds flavor, preserves. Light gives sight and warmth. But how can salt be useful unless it is mixed in with other ingredients not like itself? Where does light shine most brightly if not in darkness? Truth in love is the answer.

Jesus was cursed for OUR transgressions, and He said "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." ~Matthew 5:10-12.

But let's face it. Forget being persecuted, we just want to be exempt. We want a "pass" when it comes to doing the right thing - whether that means serving someone whom we disagree with or speaking truth even when that could result in difficulty for us.  The deal is, as I see it, we probably wouldn't face near as much difficulty or persecution as we think if we would just follow our Savior's example and the leading of the Holy Spirit who is more than able to guide us. And Jesus assures us that even if we do face persecution – or worse, we'll be rewarded in Heaven. That's not so bad, is it? Okay, maybe you’re thinking "but you still didn’t answer if it’s right for the government to force people to do things against their moral convictions." Jesus answered that one for us as well.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. ~John 10:17-18

No one (not even the government) can take from us what we willingly, and out of obedience, give up - for the love of the Father and so that others may come to know Christ and make Him known. And for me, that takes the cake.

 

 

 

weekend to remember

Want to unplug on FamilyLife's Fifth Annual Love Like You Mean It Cruise 2015? Book with our group and sail away with us! SPECIAL DISCOUNTS MARCH 1-14!!

christian cruise

We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

When All Hell Breaks Loose- Get a GRIP!

All of us have been there. You may have experienced firsthand, even recently, those painful days and nights that seemed to prolong for what seemed like months. You toss and turn and wake on every hour because your mind is filled with questions, fear and anxiety. A sign that life is unraveling is when worry hits us...when all hell breaks loose and we can't seem to get a grip. I know all to well what it's like to hang your head in disbelief, to drive in a car and hope that no one notices your tears or swollen eyes. To sense that all of hell has been loosed and feel the attack of spiritual warfare all around you.

grip

In my past, I have walked into a church with my plastic smile, acting as if I had it all together, when deep down I was dying and feeling as if my world was about to crumble. It was at those time my only way of survival was to turn to the one true SOURCE for help, shake myself, and get a GRIP!

G- Go to God in Prayer

God tells us in His Word that we are to pray without ceasing and ask for what we want in His name. You see, I have found that the power is NOT in MY prayer life or any fancy words, but rather the power is found in praying to our GREAT BIG GOD! It is not about our might nor our power BUT it is all about HIS spirit and HIS power!! There are days that I pray with passion when I put my whole heart into it. Yet, just being candid, there have been days when I was overtaken with grief and fear. It was all I could do just to muster up enough strength to cry out the name of Jesus.

I am so glad that God knows my heart and even before a word leaps from my tongue He already knows my every concern. Friend, when you pray, pray with feeling, pray with a sense of urgency, get real with God, forget about the fancy words, pray kneeling, pray standing, pray in your car, at the stoplight, in the gym, in a closet, be silent, be loud, but above all pray!

Let’s be honest, there will be days when the world gives us its worst, but God can bring the best out of the worst situation!

R- Rally Your Support Troops

Surround yourself with godly people, friends who will encourage and empower you.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

I vaguely remember back in 2002, the story that came out of Pennsylvania where nine miners had been trapped for several days in frigid cold waters some 240 feet below the ground for nearly seventy-seven hours.

What I loved about this story is that some time later after being rescued, the miners went on to describe how they survived. There were times that one of them would feel like he was going under, like he could not hold on any longer. He would begin to panic and think he was going to die. The other eight would huddle around him, doing everything they knew how to keep him warm. They would encourage him and offer words of hope until they felt like the miner's despair had passed.

I don’t know about you, but there have been several times in my life where I felt like I just could not take it anymore and I am so glad that I had someone cheering me on, standing in the battle with me.

I- Ignore Nay Sayers

Who are you listening to? I remember a time in my marriage years ago,when everything seemed as if it was going to crumble. There were people in my life that I chose to listen to and all they offered was words of doubt. “ You can find better. Just let him go. You deserve to be happy.” 

Be careful who you are seeking advice from. Are the words they are giving you lining up with the Word of God? Are your friends holding you spiritually accountable for your actions? I am here to tell you that things whispered in your ear can make all the difference in your desire to succeed or fail, your desire to be healed, your desire to work on your marriage, your desire to be set free from the pit you have fallen into, your desire to overcome this giant mountain you are facing.

P- Prepare For Victory

I'm not gonna lie. There have been many times that I have had to say God I need YOU to adjust MY attitude to that of gratitude. I have had to take control of my thoughts. The enemy would try to attack my mind and self-esteem and fill it with doubt, discouragement, and despair and I lived in the pit of woe is me. It’s at those times that I have to take a deep breath, get a GRIP and shout out to the top of my lungs, NO WEAPON, and I mean absolutely NO WEAPON, formed against me shall prosper!

I put on my armor, remind myself that I am an overcomer and spoke God's Word out loud. My bible tells me that the enemy hates this and when I go to declaring the promises of God by standing on His Word, then Satan and all his pathetic little demons have to flee!! In Philippians 4:13 I read that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In Psalm 18:2 I am reminded that the Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Most of all I love knowing that I am a child of the King and I am covered by the blood of Jesus. He is my deliverer, my healer, my best friend, my counselor, my burden bearer and He cares about every little detail that touches my life.

Do You Long For Change? Get a Grip!

In what area are you struggling in today? Are you stressed out, burned out, and about to pull  your hair out? Are you feeling overwhelmed, confused, unheard, unworthy, filled with worry.... IF you need a change, It's time to Get a GRIP!

New year, new you, new marriage! Now it a great time to tune up your marriage at The Art of Marriage! We've got events at Sandy Plain OFWB in Pink Hill January 10-11 and 902 Church in Kinston January 17-18. Register for one of them today!

AOM

We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

Maybe it's time for a Divorce

I was browsing facebook this morning and saw a link to a blog that caught my attention. The link was posted by a fellow co-worker. The title: "Why I'm Getting A Divorce in 2014" divorce

Divorce, really?

Umm...hello, we work for an organization dedicated to teaching biblical values for marriage and family. We are working to fight against divorce and the devastation it brings. So of course it caught my eye! How could my co-worker be advocating for divorce? I was more than a little concerned. Until I read the actual blog. It's by a pastor who, by his own admission, seems to have a pretty serious problem with his iPhone 5. He's declared that he will be "divorcing" this device, which he refers to as "her" (sounds a little like a movie soon to be released). He shared how "she" is interfering with his important relationships and being a distraction from his priorities in other ways. Now I don't know how far he really intends to go with the whole divorce thing - will he just get a "dumb" phone instead? Is he going to delete all his apps, or maybe turn off his data plan? There were no specifics. But it got me thinking.

I'm not really a big fan of using the word "divorce" in the context he did, but I guess if his "relationship" with his phone has become that much of a problem, then maybe something as radical as a divorce is necessary.

In every marriage, we are either drifting toward isolation or intentionally striving toward oneness with our mate. The drift is natural, inevitable. Then add in the pressures of life, job requirements, disagreements, financial struggles, or just those "simple", even "harmless" seeming every day distractions, and it's no wonder so many marriages are struggling or falling apart.

Scripture teaches us to be on our guard against the infiltration of the enemy. In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul teaches that "a little leaven ruins the whole loaf." You might think leaven (yeast) is a good thing - it makes bread rise - makes it fluffy  and tasty! Who wants flat bread, right? But throughout scripture, leaven represents the unwanted influence of the world - the ruining of God's chosen people, the pervasive invasion of that which is good. The Apostle Paul wrote "that kind of influence did not come from the one who called you."

Cut it off!

Jesus was even more graphic about how to deal with anything that would distract us from God's purpose for our lives. In Matthew 18 and other passages, Jesus tells us to cut off our hand if it "causes us to sin" or to pluck out our eye if it "offends us." And His reasoning behind that? It's better to enter heaven missing a body part than go to hell with all appendages intact (my version).

So, as I enter 2014, I think now would be an excellent time to take stock of my life and look for anything that could be a hindrance to my most important relationships - with Christ, with my wife, with my family. Maybe it is time for a divorce from THAT which could ensnare my soul so that I can be more free to love and serve those I really care about.

How about you?

New year, new you, new marriage! Now it a great time to tune up your marriage at The Art of Marriage! We've got events at Sandy Plain OFWB in Pink Hill January 10-11 and 902 Church in Kinston January 17-18. Register for one of them today!

AOM

We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

Enough is Enough!

enough

Sometimes you’ve got to put your foot down because ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! You’ve watched the craziness in your life, you’ve gone up and down like the waves being whipped by the wind, you are tired and have just had enough. It’s time to do something different and get different results.

Enough is Enough: Stop counting days as good or bad.

God calls us to take each day as it comes and count it all good in James 1 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I challenge you to read a Proverb a day (there are 31 of them for a reason!), and let God change your perspective.

When Scott and I were in our ‘testimony gathering time‘, God used the Proverbs to show me that I could expect my prodigal spouse to be erratic and foolish with his actions and words, and that I shouldn’t be surprised. Yes, it should break my heart, but not as an offense to me, but as a continuing realization of his brokenness. Your spouse will blow up and down like the wind and waves if he/she is not anchored in the hope of Jesus Christ. You, too, will blow around and up and down with your spouse’s words and actions if you don’t remain anchored in the hope of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Be joyful in your spouse’s best days and worst days- God is working miracles in both!

Enough is Enough: Stop walking by sight.

What you see around you is not necessarily an indication of what God is doing in your life. Anyone who watched Saul relentless persecute Christians could not have guessed the Change on Damascus Road God was lining up for him. There was no evidence of Saul’s heart softening, was there? When watching the Saul in your life, choose to sit with God through pain, trouble, disgust, frustration, heartache, disappointment and sorrow, resting in His sovereignty and letting Him catch every tear. Resting in God’s sovereignty is recognizing that no matter what it looks like, what it feels like, God is still in control, still working everything together for your God and His glory as you choose to submit to Him (Romans 8:28).

Enough is Enough: Stop letting your emotions make decisions.

Emotions are good, we know because God experiences the same emotions we do, God created us that way on purpose. He wants us to experience the fullness of what He feels- love, joy, peace, happiness, wonder, disgust, heartache, disappointment, sorrow, pain, jealousy, frustration, anger, etc. Emotions are important, they can cause us to say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” Let your emotions propel you into God’s Word, seeking His will, wisdom and understanding to make decisions. Do then what God calls you to do, regardless of how you feel about it. Do what God calls you to do, your emotions will follow.

Enough is Enough: Stop speaking your mind.

That’s right, who said venting is a good thing? While the culture may say it’s good to run through your laundry list of frustrations, and then apologize saying that you needed to blow off some steam, God’s Word doesn’t line up with that. In fact, Proverbs 29:11 tell us that “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” No room for error there. But in case you need a little more persuasion, Jesus warns us about the eternal perspective in Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment."

Consider recent texts, emails or facebook posts you may have written and sent in the heat of your anger or frustration. Think about how you may have spewed your frustrations on someone in the heat of the moment recently. How differently could those situations look if you’d given yourself a time out with God before speaking/texting/emailing/facebooking? What if you’d stopped, put on the Word of God and sought to see your situation through God’s eyes? Instead of speaking YOUR mind, speak Christ’s mind instead. Choose words that give life.

Every day is a good day to decide enough is enough, but there is something special about choosing to leave these things in the old year as we welcome the new year.

what have you had enough of and will leave behind?

Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!

 

 

The Miracle of a Christmas Restoration, Everyday

The Miracle of a Christmas Restoration, Everyday

I need a sign!?! I need a miracle!?! I'm so confused. I don't see break-through. I don't hear God. Nothing is happening. There is no movement, nothing has changed!?!?!?! Where is the restoration? If we haven't said it aloud--I'm sure we have ALL thought it! We are so focused outward sometimes...tunnel vision on WHAT a miracle, a sign, break-through and even restoration is supposed to look like.

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