Words Of Encouragement | Jesus Is The Reason For The Season


img_8020This is really deep. When I read this post that was put on Christ Quest Ministries’ Facebook page, it made me stop and think. The word “mostly” made me smile when I began to digest this more and more. Actually, we can ABSOLUTELY be only thankful for God.
We have heard the phrase “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” Yet, it is so easy for us to move about “the season” acting like everything else is the reason. Shopping and spending money (that we don’t have sometimes), baking, wrapping presents, putting up the decorations, listening to Christmas music, attending parties are a few of the things we find ourselves doing at this time of the year. Yet, we fail to include Jesus.
This year, our kids and family all came home for Thanksgiving instead of for Christmas. Because of this, we gave their gifts in November instead of December. I also went out of town right afterwards for about a week which led to the decision to not decorate our home for the holidays. I have gone back and forth on this decision, but it has made me reflect a bit on the true meaning of Christmas. Now, I am definitely not saying that the above-mentioned things are bad! I am only listing these because the lack of doing them this year has opened up my time and allowed me to view some things that I normally have not been able to reflect upon.
While we do not know the exact date of Christ’s birth, December is the time most have chosen to celebrate. I have found myself thinking if my birthday were celebrated in this manner, would I feel honored? If everyone I knew were running around doing things for everyone else, getting stressed out on my behalf, going into debt, gaining weight, being over-achievers, staying up too late, getting up too early, etc. etc.; it would ruin my birthday.
However, if they were including me in the decorating, the shopping, the baking, the party-going, etc., that would make a HUGE difference. I wish I could go back and help my mom more with the celebrations. I have very few memories of me helping her bake, decorate, or any other preparations. I do remember going to the store first with my dad and later with my mom, with a certain allowance of money, picking anything we wanted to get for gifts! I even remember some of the items I chose! It was the TIME I had with them that meant enough to record the memory into my brain. I remember my dad reading the Christmas story to us, we painted ceramic houses which we placed each year new masterpieces around our tree, and I remember going to our grandparent’s home where we played with our cousins. I remember opening gifts on Christmas Eve with only the Christmas tree lights on and the time with my parents being close to me in my heart.
I am challenged to be more thankful to God for EVERYTHING. It is because He created this amazing planet and placed spectacular things all around for us, that we get to see Him in everything! He put our family and friends into our lives as a gift to us! He had authors record His story in the Bible for us to read and learn from so we can feel Him in our lives! There are so many amazing and awesome people to read about their lives and how God used them to reach others. He allowed us to birth little babies and watch them grow up. He gave us relationships to have someone close to us, allowing us to understand how His heart longs to have a relationship with us.
During these days before and after Christmas, let us re-evaluate our time. Oh! to include Him is ALL things. Can we slow down and be thankful? Can we really make Him the REASON for the season? What ways can we do this? Here are a few ideas:
Don’t forget to make that appointment with Him each day.
Talk with your spouse about what your budget is for spending. Begin a savings in January for the following Christmas.
Make wise choices of what you put into your mouth.
Decide what days are for family and what days are for parties and church functions.
Pray with your family and read the Christmas story when you are done decorating; perhaps if you find your family argues during the decorating time, that dad sits down and prays before you begin!
Find ways to help. Mom gets very overwhelmed during this time as she usually gets the full load of all the details. Encourage family time; making it a joy…not a chore.
Reflect each evening what the next day will look like; plan together as a family and communicate with all family members.
Play games together as a family!
Plan down-time like coffee dates, talk times, prayer times, and other regrouping/recharging moments.
Have a Thank You jar for the whole month where you put notes with what you are thankful for each day; read on this Christmas day.
Think of ways to introduce Jesus to others. Find a place to serve. It is so easy to make the holidays all about ourselves.
Make Him the REASON for the season!
Happy Holidays! May you be blessed immensely!

Relationship Help | Using God’s Word


designCommunication is well known to be either an obstacle or a passageway to success for marriage; or any relationship for that matter. We can either wreak havoc with our words and facial expressions or build up. There are many verses in the Bible about our tongue; here are a few:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 17:27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Let’s browse through some principles that can be learned from these verses. I love tearing verses apart and studying key words!

Ephesians 4:29:

  1. Corrupt talk: humiliating; demeaning; undignified; shameful; contaminating; harming; damaging. (Antonym: decent; honest; honorable; pure; trustworthy; wholesome)
  2. Grace: favor, good will, kindness, disposition to oblige another; Webster 1828 definition: Virtuous or religious affection or disposition, as a liberal disposition, faith, meekness, humility, patience, etc. proceeding from divine influence.

Quite a contrast, right? Imagine speaking to one another in a way that is honest yet full of virtuous affection! Some of the benefits are faith in each other, meekness, humility, and patience.

Proverbs 18:21:

  1. Death: demise; loss; decease
  2. Life: existence; high spirits; activity; energy; enthusiasm; entity; lifeblood
  3. Power: ability; competence; dynamism; gift
  4. Love: adore; appreciate
  5. Eat: consume; absorb; devour; digest
  6. Fruits: harvest; results of labor; benefit; effect.

Loss/demise and high spirits/energy are in the ability of the tongue…and those who adore it will absorb/digest its harvest.  In other words, you can either cause death and demise with your words, or you can lift someone’s spirits and give them energy. Which harvest do you want to digest?

Proverbs 17:27:

  1. Restrains: keep under control; hold back
  2. Knowledge: person’s understanding; information; awareness
  3. Cool: calm; collected; levelheaded
  4. Understanding: comprehend; the faculty of the human mind by which it apprehends the real state of things presented to it

The one who keeps his words under control is aware. His calm, levelheaded spirit is a man who comprehends what is presented to him.

Proverbs 21:23:

  1. Keeps: maintains; holds; conserves; protects

This one is a no-brainer. You keep yourself out of trouble when you protect what you say, when you say it and how you say it. Become a professional question asker. Making statements can make someone be on the defensive. Don’t say anything when you know you shouldn’t say it.  You can also say the right thing with a really bad attitude. Those are guaranteed ways to get in trouble! Holding your tongue does not mean that you shut up and hold things in. However, there might be a time that you need to hold off for a while until your attitude improves or the timing is better. It is so important, if you do decide to hold off on communicating in the moment, to let the other person know that you are thinking about it AND make sure you get back with them!

Proverbs 16:24:

  1. Gracious: pleasant; agreeableness
  2. Honeycomb: a structure of hexagonal, thin-walled cells constructed from beeswax by honeybees to hold honey (& larvae).
  3. Soul: a breathing creature
  4. Health: strength; vigor; well-being

Pleasant words are sweet like honey; sweetness to the breathing creature giving strength and well-being.

Hopefully this will open our eyes to the importance of our words and the effect they have on the human spirit. We can give life or cause death to the spirit. Our words need to be honest and produce grace to the hearer. It is so important to keep our words under control and aware of what is being said in a calm and levelheaded way so that when other’s words come to us that we comprehend what their heart is saying. You will stay out of trouble if you protect what you say, when you say it and how you speak. Then we see the sweet reward of learning to communicate in God’s ways with the results of our lives being full of health, strength and well-being.

It is so encouraging to me that God knew our tendency to live in the flesh with our mouths and yet He lovingly instructs us on steps to lead us to strong and prosperous lives. It always boils down to that choice. The choice that is presented to us in the heat of the moment. The more we know God’s word and the more we hide it in our hearts; the more we live in His ways and reap these amazing benefits.

Relationship Help | Marriage Lessons


Discovery-Seminar-DVD-case-HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN?

Arguments continue without solutions. On, on, on, on. Frustrations continue day-after-day, mo. after mo. yr. after yr.

If we’re going to build the kind of spiritual leadership that inspires confidence in others; that leadership will necessarily, have to illustrate the ability to understand the specific differences between men and women.

Here’s what I mean:

A wife says to husband: “Our marriage sure doesn’t have any life to it anymore.  We could just as easily be divorced.  I don’t even believe you love me anymore.”

Puzzled, her husband reacts with a grimacing question on his face: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She states matter-of-factly: “I don’t think you care about our marriage anymore.”

He judges her: “That’s ridiculous! Why do you say stupid things like that?”

She offers her reasons: “Well… we never spend any time together anymore. You’re always too busy for us.”

He gets defensive: “Well, what do you want from me? I’m only trying to do what I need to, so I can provide for my family.”

She gets vulnerable: “What do I want from you? I want more time! But you know what I really wish? I wish you wanted to spend more time with me.”

He snaps back: “Well I do!” (This is my, “you’ll be glad you spent time with me look!”)

She’s doubtful: “Then why don’t we do more things together?”

He challenges her: “Like what?”

She reflects back: “F-o-r example, we never go out for dinner together.”

Defensively he shoots back: “Okay, you want to go out to dinner, then we’ll go out to dinner.” (this is my, “we’re going to have a great time look!”)

(They establish Friday as the date night.) So, here they are at the restaurant. Let’s observe them:

His total focus is on the food. Watching him, it’s not difficult to see, he is really enjoying it. On the other hand, she could care less about the food. She’s kind of poking at it while shifting it around. He looks up and sees she’s not making much progress. So, he questions, “Aren’t you hungry?” With a slight degree of disgust on her face and in her voice, she says, “No.”

He can’t pass up this golden opportunity.  Hardly hiding his anxiousness, he asks, “Can I have it?”

Almost as if she hopes it spills on him, she quickly shoves it across the table (not to him) at him. His perception is, she really wants him to have it right now!

But here’s the bottom-line problem: the average husband thinks that you go out to a restaurant with your wife… to eat.

HUSBANDS: You never go out to dinner alone with your wife to eat! You are there for the alone time with your wife. A time you can dedicate to her. You may also eat. But that’s not why you’re there!

This only one of many scenarios that effectively illustrates the difficulties that can come from not understanding the specific differences between men & women.

To learn more join us at the LIVE Discovery Seminar in Phoenix, AZ September 9-10, 2016 or purchase the DVD Discovery Seminar here.

 

 

Relationship Help | How to Handle the Difficult Issue of Porn in Your Marriage


gfdMy heart goes out to the women who have husbands that are addicted to porn and just can’t seem to get rid of that sin. So I would love to help them understand what they can do to not feel completely unacceptable to their man. I know guys that you hate that you are addicted to something that God is watching you do and it is hard to break because it is so available by phone or even ads today. But, I am talking with the girls and Ken loves to help you guys so give him a call. Each of you can go to our website and book your appointments with Nancy/women counseling and Ken/men needing help. To get Ken you have to book a counseling session.

It is getting harder to work with the girls when they don’t feel very good about themselves. In addition to that, they spend a large part of the day watching their children. Sadly, few rarely get asked out on a date by their husbands, then the feelings of loneliness grow and she can begin to feel as though she can hardly make it through the day. Often, the financial picture keeps them from doing anything that could help them. I talk to girls every day who feel really trapped and want it to be like it was when they first got married.

We are part of the partnership in marriage, designed by God, to bring the guys back emotionally with Him. God says that the husband’s prayers are hindered if they don’t understand their wives. One of the things that we are required to do is to speak the truth. When we see the husband do something we know is wrong, we need to be able to talk with our husbands, and help them feel the emotion that causes in him. Sometimes that backfires on us because we feel we need to make them do what we see, but even God doesn’t make us do something He wants us to do. God does want us to be honest and then allow the Holy Spirit to move them. I always share with the girls that Ken wanted me to share with him the things I saw in his life that were not like Christ. I would share, but at first he would just hear me and make no moves to change what I saw him doing that I knew would hurt him and us. This is what causes us women to keep nagging about it (nagging is what man calls the continued sharing), because the issue is still there and God keeps prompting us to share. I learned I could share; but, not make it happen. Ken had to want to do it because he knew it hurt his walk with God. As he started wanting my help, it became easier and easier to share as I began to see him want to do it.

One of the things that I feel is so important is to make sure you always share the things that are hurting you or your children. If you find that when you share it only turns into a battle don’t share verbally. Get a large notebook and everyday mark down your feels (only your feelings) and let your husband know that at any time if he wants to find out where you are emotionally and why you are hurting so badly, that he can read from the notebook.  Keep it in a place where he knows that he can find it. Don’t miss a day for at least the first 40 days that you are starting this emotional journey. If this helps your husband understand where you are at, and he starts to care for your spirit because he doesn’t like you to hurt, please don’t stop doing your emotional notebook just because you see him caring. We need him to create a habit to where he begins to have a quest, finding out where your heart is each day.

Never feel like you are alone. We are here to help you. Sometimes, you want to say something, but it is so difficult to either start the conversation or even know how to share your heart. Finding the right words can be difficult for some. Whatever you feel that you need support in, please contact us and we can sit together and brainstorm together of how to approach it. Often we just need another person to give us courage and wisdom.

Relationship Help | The Power of Words


733acfb922be48e6a0c0b960_213x179“Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.” Daniel 1:11-14

What an exceptional young man Daniel was. They think he was around 14 years old when this took place. Can you imagine a 14 year old teenage boy turning down amazing food?! He had a commitment and relationship with the Almighty God which allowed him to stand out among the other boys. What stands out to me is his poise and respect that he shows in this situation. Daniel made a suggestion to the attendant asking very politely if they would consider testing them with a different diet of food.

Communication is so important but the attitude of respect is vital. Daniel could have made a big scene, telling the attendant that he would not eat that food. After all, his God forbade him to eat meat that was sacrificed to the Babylonian gods. But, that would not have given him the results that he got by being poised.

God’s word tells us to come to Him for wisdom. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Daniel clearly spent daily time with God asking for wisdom and instruction. How important is it that we have a daily habit of going to God and requesting these things? If we did this daily and made it our focus to follow His instructions, we would create a habit of watching how we said things.

Matthew 12:36 it shows us how important our words are to God. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” It is important to God that we wisely choose how we say things; so important that we will give an account on the day we believers stand before Him. Can you imagine this day?

Words can build up or words can tear down. Have you ever paid attention to the results of your words? Do you see a cheerful countenance? Do your words, after they are spoken, leave a good feeling in your spirit? Do you see the same results that Daniel received when he, a 14 year old boy, bucked the system of the King of Babylon? We can all learn a lot from this godly boy who served the Lord with his sold-out-commitment to Him.

Daily Devotional | What is Joy


dfg“JOY defined – the inner attitude of rejoicing in one’s salvation regardless of outward circumstances. One of the fruits of a right relationship with God.” (Angela Thomas)

Let’s define a couple of words.

  • Happiness: “the state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience”
  • Joy: “the source or cause of great happiness”.

The Bible mentions the word” happy” and “happiness” about 30 times and “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times. We can see that happiness is dependent on a happening or a circumstance; which is a temporary experience. Joy on the other hand comes from a source. When we look at scripture, we see something completely different.

I find it hard to always be happy. Life is really rough a lot of times and hands me things that really hurt. Yet in James 1:2 it says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” Thankfully James goes on to clarify in the next few verses. He continues by saying, “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

If we stand back in the trial and ask ourselves some questions we see JOY. Questions such as: “How am I doing in this test?” “What am I to learn from it?” “Am I enduring this to find out what the perfect result in my life can be through this test?” Joy comes from the faith that we need to live through these things and the contentment that the Lord is perfecting us. Joy comes from rejoicing that we are saved no matter what the circumstances are. It is the fruit of our relationship with the Holy Spirit which will transform our lives. (Galatians 5:22)

When we are going through life’s struggles and we are having a learning focus, we will indeed be depending on the Father. This relationship is the “Source” of great happiness that we find in the definition. The added benefit to this is how others around us, especially those who have not yet found Salvation, will see something completely different than a person bouncing from happiness to sadness or anger due to the trials that come into our lives. The thing I have found is that when Tim and I focus on what we are learning from these trials, and are appreciative of how God sent Jesus to save us, that the JOY continues to grow and grow. It changes how we look at things; but it takes a lot of work. It takes a diligence of a quest.

I will leave you with this verse. It is proof that Jesus is our Source. He is our JOY. Oh the joy we experience when we allow ourselves to focus on and become like HIM.

Luke 2:10-12 “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Relationship Help | Logical vs Relational Shopping


bbHave you ever struggled with the difference of the way you and your spouse view shopping? Yesterday we experienced a situation with our daughter and her husband while shopping. Before leaving, the two of them had confirmed which each other that they had enough money to purchase new Cross Fit shoes for both of them as well as some workout items for her. With the “plan” set, the 4 of us headed up for an hour and a half drive to the outlet mall!

Our first stop was the Reebok store. There was a great deal on shoes; buy 2 at the regular, discounted outlet mall price and get the 3rd pair free. Tim got a pair as well as Katie and Darryl giving them a smoking deal when the total price was split 3 ways. Everything was going great at this point.

Then we went to the Nike store. Of course there were great deals there as well. Katie selected 4 pairs of shorts and 2 tank tops for working out. They were items she needed. Now, let me set the stage. Katie is an extremely low-maintenance girl, plus she is very thrifty. The other side of the coin is that she is not necessarily the one who is budget minded; that would be Darryl’s nitch.

When they got to the cashier, Katie could sense that Darryl was stressed. Tim and I had no idea what was going on, however when I asked Darryl if he purchased anything he said, “naw”. He said there was a pair of shorts he liked but didn’t get them. I asked if he wasn’t sure of them or if it was a money thing. He confirmed it was a money thing. That is when I could sense a “situation” brewing. I backed off.

Tim wanted to go out to dinner. I asked if we could pay for the kid’s meals as I figured there was a stress in the financial situation plus we just love to cover those kinds of things when we can with our kids. We ordered our food and then Darryl got serious asking for our advice.

Simply put, he shared that he was struggling with the spending of money even though they had the plan and had plenty of money. Katie began crying and it was breaking his heart; but none the less he was seriously struggling with the anxiety that was filling his spirit. Logically he knew he was wrong; but he could not seem to get his emotions to connect with that thought.

The conversation was filled with Tim sharing his identifying with where he was at and how he struggles still with it. He then shared how he had to re-think shopping. It was a relational experience as well as a logical deal. We discussed these principles:
1. To trust that Katie knows their needs and their financial situation; and that she desires to honor Darryl. This is a result and benefit for a husband who values his wife and believing that she is on the same team with him.
2. Also, remember that husband and wife are one. How easy is it to purchase stuff for you…so now purchasing for her is just more buying for “yourself”.
3. Knowing that she is more important than money. (relational)
4. And while it is healthy to have a saving’s plan; money is meant to be spent.
5. Continue to communicate before, during and after about not only the plan but the emotions that are going on inside of your spirit.
6. It is a process which takes discipline and a quest to care about other’s needs just as God cares for our needs. Often God even goes above and beyond what we need by blessing us abundantly.

Then we discussed how if he continued to operate in a manner of anxiety and division over the spending of money that these things would begin to happen:
1. She will not want to shop with him anymore; losing out on the oneness in all things together.
2. She will begin to sneak by purchasing needed items so as to not hear “it”.
3. When he has children, the kids would enter into watching a division of mom and dad over how shopping is done. This will put an unbelievable stress on the marriage.
4. Sometimes, a wife will become so callused that she could care less about the finances and spend to fill the need in her spirit that should be filled by the leading of her husband to Christ-likeness.

After we discussed this, you could see the freedom in Darryl as he began to understand more clearly how to continue to work on this issue. I cannot tell you how impressed Tim and I were of his heart trying to see what God was trying to show him. How rewarding is it for us as parents to watch our son-in-law care for our daughter’s spirit. I hesitated in the car on the way home because I didn’t want to embarrass him, but I had to share with him how he made me feel. I was so moved to see him be so transparent and vulnerable in his quest to Christ-likeness; and how it really made me feel like he was truly part of our family because of this.

Fathers, please never minimize life’s situations like “shopping” to learn Christ-like lessons. I am so blessed for my father who has shown me, my husband and my kids what a quest for being like Christ looks like. My dad isn’t perfect; however, he has always resolved issues and pursued being like Christ. Now he has left a legacy even with a man, my son-in-law, who has entered our family which will impact my grandchildren. Talk about encouragement!