Deposits in the Relationship bank

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I had a great experience today.  I traveled with two coworkers who had both gotten married within the last year.  Married life has started off wonderfully for both of my colleagues, and it was fun to hear about their new lives and growth as couples.

I had an opportunity to talk about my own marriage journey with them.  Hollianne and I have been married for over 22 years.  I told them that there were peaks and valleys in all marriages, but that if they kept Christ at the center of their lives- they would find many more highs than lows.

I told them that I often thought of my marriage relationship with Hollianne as a bank.  Simply put, I need to make daily investments into Hollianne’s life and well-being.  Acts of kindness.  Listening to her needs.  Protecting her.  Praying with and for her.  Demonstrating love for my wife in front of my children, family and neighbors.  Cherishing her.

It’s not always been that way.  Early in our marriage I was selfish.  Selfish with my time.  Selfish with my wants.  Putting my own interests before hers or the children.

Fortunately, I’ve matured (a little) and have learned that I need to be intentional about investing in our relationship. When the valleys come- and they will come- we can rely on the trust and respect that we’ve built over time.

Investing in one another through prayer, mutual respect and intentional acts of love make marriages that are built to last.

I’ve still got some work to do, but I know what I need to do…invest in her each and every day.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13: 4-7

My prayer this week is to find new ways to invest in Hollianne.  To look for ways to build her up and make her feel cherished.  To love her more today than I did yesterday.  Most importantly, I need to ask for the continued guidance of Jesus Christ to help me.

Hollianne deserves the effort.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

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Snow Days

Our kids have been out of school for a solid week.

We had ice and snow last Thursday night followed by plunging temperatures.

And before we could recover from the first round, Mother Nature threw a haymaker on Monday. Four more inches of snow overnight….followed by single digit temperatures the rest of the week.

The boys loved it for a couple of days.  Sledding with friends.  Sleeping late. Snowball fights. No homework.  There were also endless requests for hot chocolate.

Life was good.  For a couple of days, at least.  By Monday night, the boys were tired of each other, tired of their friends, tired of the snow and cold temperature.  They were miserable and ready for a return to a routine.  At their very core, these two boys crave discipline and a schedule.

I can relate.

I have snow days in my relationship with Jesus.

There are times when work, family or a life experience can get me distracted from God’s word.  I get busy or preoccupied and focused on what’s happening at the current moment.

It may be an intriguing new project at work or a long week off from work with my family over the holidays.

It’s exciting and new.  And the distraction can get out of my routine of study and reading my Bible.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

After a while, I sense that something is missing.  I realize that the very thing that gives me strength and keeps me motivated has been neglected. I miss Jesus.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

In terms of my walk with Jesus, I need a routine.  I’m more focused when I’m intentional about reading the Bible and studying God’s word.  I’m happier when I keep my dedicated time to pray and intentionally reflect on my blessings, needs and requests for others.

Do you have snow days in your spiritual life?

My prayer this weekend will be to avoid the obstacles that keep me from focusing on a walk with Jesus.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Empty boxes

A pile of empty boxes.

That’s what was visible in our family room around 10 am on Christmas morning.

Thirty days of anticipation and planning had turned into a fever pitch last weekend. All the shopping had been finished, gifts had been wrapped and our annual Christmas cookies had been baked and decorated. We were all ready for Christmas morning.

Within minutes of waking up, however, our gifts were opened. The kids scattered across our home to experiment with new electronics or listen to new music. Hollianne and I collapsed on the couch to watch a marathon of movies (most notably Christmas Vacation…a personal favorite).

And all that remained near the tree was a stack of empty boxes.

The anticipation was gone. The excitement was over.

It was a great reminder about the nature of our lives. This world is not our home. It’s a collection of moments that can leave us empty, hurt and dissatisfied.

This world is not built to last.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:10

We are to invest in the eternal. We should spend time with others that push us to be better, more loving people. We need to study and increase our Biblical knowledge and awareness. We should spend time in prayer and meditation- actively communicating with God the Father.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3: 11-13

We have promises from Jesus that aren’t empty…promises of eternal life, happiness and an audience with God.

Promises that are far better than anything we can experience on this earth.

Please pray for me to invest in relationships and activities that make me a better, more kind person. A person that sees challenges and obstacles as opportunities to grow and serve.

And please let me know how to pray for you!

God bless.

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Surviving Christmas

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year was a blur. I was changing jobs and moving across the state. The holidays were filled with hurried goodbyes and anxious hellos. Our family was so preoccupied with the transition that we truly didn’t take time to soak in the holidays.

Not this year.

Things have slowed down. We’ve settled in our new home. We’ve hosted breakfasts, dinners and devotionals. We broke out old decorations and bought some new ones. We are soaking it up.

But perhaps I’ve become too self-absorbed.

Earlier this week I ran into an old friend from high school at the grocery. We quickly caught up on life and work. I realized that he had recently experienced some pain in his life and- as a result- he was struggling to get out of depression. He told me he simply wanted to “survive Christmas.”

What a sad thought. His personal pain and struggles had brought him to his knees..to a new low point. In fact, the hustle and bustle of the holidays had created a black cloud over his whole disposition. He just wanted to survive the Christmas holiday.

It’s clouded his view of Jesus.

Perhaps you know someone like my old friend…someone who is struggling during the holidays.

Maybe it’s an illness or the recent loss of a loved one. Perhaps is a changing family dynamic or a work transition. It could be the pain of a failed relationship.

Whatever the reason- we all know people who are hurting right now. People who are just trying to survive Christmas.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5

God gives us hope. We know that we’ll face hardships and trails in this life, but God provides. We know the good news of Jesus, and we need to seek opportunities to share His love with others.

Let’s make those calls to those who need a boost this week.

Let’s visit the sick and reconnect with old friends who need a kind word.

Let’s display acts of kindness to those who are struggling.

Please pray for me to recognize my opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus- and actively seek out those in need of encouragement.

I don’t want anyone to just survive Christmas. I want them to bask in the glory of Jesus.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Forget Everything You Know

I was asked to be the lead-off speaker of a popular regional leadership program earlier in the week. As I scanned the room, I saw mayors, bankers, elected officials, doctors and educators. What could I say that might resonate with this group of seasoned leaders?

I decided to focus on what I wanted them to forget.

1) Forget what others have told them about this leadership program. The class has a thirty year legacy, but I urged them to lose any preconceived notions about what they would experience over the next six months.

2) Forget their zip code. All our regional communities are experiencing similar problems. Only by working together could we improve the region.

3) Forget what they know about leadership. Study the materials, question the lessons and their classmates and be open to new ideas.

What if we pursued our study of the Bible with this same plan for 2018?

What if we were to clear our minds of outside distractions and preconceived notions and looked at God’s word with a renewed focus?

What if we attempted to study our Bible with new people? People that could challenge our beliefs and push us to focus on what’s true?

What if we were to set aside all unscriptural biases we have…and simply read and meditate on what’s printed in those sixty-six books of the Bible?

We might find new meaning in those inspired Words. We might discover a new way to think about our relationship with Jesus.

And best of all, we might find new, fresh inspiration for sharing God’s word with others.

My prayer this week is to be more intentional about my reading and studying of the Bible. It’s already a habit, but my focus could be better.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless you.

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Respect those folks

It’s the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. Like many of you, we’ll be hosting family and friends over a three day period. It’s a time for fellowship and food…and THE occasion where we are continually reminded to be thankful and aware of all our blessings.

I was reading in Proverbs a little earlier this morning. One passage struck me in the heart as I studied:

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:31‬

Gray hair is a crown. Gained in a righteous life.

This verse tells me two things. First, gray hair is a crown of glory…it symbolizes wisdom and discernment.

Next, gray hair is gained in a righteous life. It’s the result of life experience- and doing the right things for a long time.

This Thanksgiving holiday I will pray for a couple of things. I’ll pray that I take the time to observe and listen to those “gray” folks in my life. I’ll make an effort to watch their behavior and listen to their stories.

Next, I’ll try to realize that I’m starting to turn “gray” too. I’ll pray for more awareness that younger family members are watching for Christ’s example in me…and for me to share my failures and successes with them.

Experience is the greatest teacher.

Please pray for me to be more aware and awake this holiday season. And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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One extra hour

We experienced a time change earlier this month. Most of us enjoyed the extra hour of sleep that following Sunday morning!

What did you do with that extra hour?

In Acts 8 we read about how God used Philip with an Ethiopian leader who was traveling from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah, and Philip- prompted to intercede by the Holy Spirit- asked if he understood what was written in the scripture. The Ethiopian leader asked for help, and Philip engaged him in study.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts‬ ‭8:35-36, 38‬ ‭

It was a gentle nudge by the Holy Spirit that led Philip to engage someone…and the results brought another soul to Jesus.

It was unplanned and it didn’t take long.

I’m easily distracted during the holidays. There’s always something that’s keeping me from focusing on what’s truly important.

My prayer this week is to slow down and listen…listen to what the Spirit is whispering.

It may only take an hour.

Please let me know how I may pray for you. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

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