Feb 09 2010

Love Dare - Day 35

Love is Accountable

 

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.  – Proverbs 15:22

 

Mighty sequoia trees tower hundreds of feet in the air and can withstand intense environmental pressures.  Lightning can strike them, fierce winds can blow, and forest fires can rage around them.  But the sequoia endures, standing firm, only growing stronger through the trials.

 

One of the secrets to the strength of this giant tree is what goes on below the surface.  Unlike many trees, they reach out and interlock their roots with the sequoias around them.  Each becomes empowered and reinforced by the strength of each others.

 

The secret to the sequoia is also the key to maintaining a strong, healthy marriage.  A couple that faces problems alone is more likely to fall apart during rough times.  However, the ones who interlock their lives in a network of other strong marriages radically increase their chances of surviving the fiercest of storms.  It is crucial that a husband and wife pursue godly advice, healthy friendships, and experienced mentors.

 

Everyone needs wise counsel throughout life.  Wise people constantly seek it and gladly receive it.  Fools never ask for it and then ignore it when it’s given to them.

 

As the Bible so clearly explains, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15).

 

Gaining wise counsel is like having a detailed road map and a personal guide while traveling on a long, challenging journey.  It can be the difference between continual success or the destruction of another marriage.  It is vital that you invite strong couples to share the wisdom they have gained through their own successes and failures.

 

Why waste years of your life learning painful lessons when you could discover those same truths during a few hours of wise counsel?  Why not cross the bridges others have built?  Wisdom is more valuable than gold.  Not receiving it is like letting priceless coins pass through your fingers.

 

Good marriage mentors warn you before you make a bad decision.  They encourage you when you are ready to give up.  And they cheer you on as you reach new levels of intimacy in your marriage.

 

Do you have an older couple or a friend or a friend of the same gender you can turn to for good advice, for prayer support, and for regular accountability checkups?  Do you have someone in your life who shoots straight with you?

 

You and your spouse need these types of friends and mentors on a consistent basis.  The Bible says, “Encourage one another day after day … so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).  Too often we can isolate ourselves from others.  If we are not careful, we could push away the people who love us the most.

 

You must guard yourself against the wrong influencers.  Everyone has an opinion and some people will encourage you to act selfishly and leave your mate in order to pursue your own happiness.  Be careful about listening to advice from people who don’t have a good marriage themselves.

 

If your marriage is hanging by a thread or already heading for a divorce, then you need to stop everything and pursue solid counseling as quickly as possible. Call a pastor, a Bible-believing counselor, or a marriage ministry today.  As awkward as it may initially be to open up your life to a stranger, your marriage is worth every second spent and every sacrifice you will make for it.  Even if your marriage is fairly stable, you’re in no less need of honest, open mentors – people who can put wind in your sails and make your marriage even better.

 

How do you pick a good mentor?  You look for a person who has the kind of marriage you want.  You look for a person whose heart for Christ comes first before everything else.  You look for someone who doesn’t live by his or her opinions but by the unchanging Word of God.  And more times than not, this person will likely be delighted you asked for help.  Start praying for God to send this person into your life.  Then pick a time to meet and talk.

 

If this doesn’t sound too important to you, it would be a good idea to ask yourself why.  Do you have something to hide?  Are you afraid you will be embarrassed?  Do you think your marriage is exempt from needing outside help?  Does diving into a river of positive influence not appeal to you?  Don’t be the captain of another Titanic divorce by ignoring the warning signs around you when you could have been helped.

 

Here’s an important reminder from Scripture: “Each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).  This appointment is unbreakable.  And though we’re all ultimately responsible for the way we approach it, we can surely stand as much help as others can give.  It might just be the relational influence that takes your marriage from mediocre to amazing.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Find a marriage mentor – someone who is a strong Christian and who will be honest and loving with you.  If you feel that counseling is needed, then take the first step to set up an appointment.  During this process, ask God to direct your decisions and discernment.

 

In abundance of counselors there is victory.  (Proverbs 11:14)

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

 

 

Feb 08 2010

Google Superbowl Ad

Here's the sweet ad I was talking about, from the Super Bowl. The best ads are about life and make you feel something. How many times have you lived out your life searching for stuff, kinda like this ad:) blessings, Lisa
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Feb 08 2010

Love Dare - Day 34

Love Celebrates Godliness

 

[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.  – 1 Corinthians 13:6

 

From the moment you close your Bible in the morning nearly everything else you’ll encounter throughout the day will be luring you away from its truths.  The opinions of your coworkers, the news coverage on television, your typical Websites, the various temptations of the day – all of these and more will be working overtime to shape your perceptions of what’s true and most desirable in life.

 

They’ll say that having a knockout wife who dresses to get other men’s attention is a good thing.  They say that bad language and immorality in the movies are fine for mature people.  They’ll say that church isn’t important in a person’s life.  They’ll say that we each must find God in our own way.

 

They’ll say a lot of things.  And they’ll say them so loudly and frequently that if we’re not careful, we can start believing that what they say is the way things should be.  We can begin valuing what everybody else values and thinking the way everybody else does.

 

But the meaning of “real life” changes dramatically when we understand that God’s Word is the ultimate expression of what real life is.  The teachings it contains are not just good guesses at what should matter.  They are principles that reflect the way things really are, the way God created life to be.  His ideals and instructions are the only pathways to real blessing, and when we see people following them in obedience to the Lord; it should cause us to rejoice.

 

What makes you the proudest of your husband?  Is it when he comes home with a trophy from the company golf tournament, or when he gathers the family before bedtime to pray together and read the Word?

 

What overjoys you the most in your wife?  Is it seeing her try a new painting technique in the children’s bedrooms, or seeing her forgive the neighbor whose dog dug up her plants?

 

You are one of the most influential people in your spouse’s life.  Have you been using your influence to lead them to honor God, or to dishonor Him?

 

Love rejoices most in the things that please God.  When your mate is growing in Christian character, persevering in faith, seeking purity, and embracing roles of giving and service – becoming spiritually responsible in your home – the Bible says we should be celebrating it.  The word “rejoices” in 1 Corinthians 13:6 carries the idea of being absolutely thrilled, excitedly cheering them on for what they’re allowing God to accomplish in their lives.

 

The apostle Paul, who helped establish and minister to many of the first-century churches, wrote in his letters how delighted he was to hear reports of the people’s faithfulness and growth in Jesus.  “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).

 

The apostle John, who had walked closely with Jesus and became one of the main leaders in the early church, once wrote to his flock, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 4).

 

That should be what energizes us when we see it happening in our mate.  More than when they save money on the grocery bill.  More than when they achieve success at work.  Sometimes by accepting modern culture’s take on what to applaud in our spouse, we can even be guilty of encouraging them to sin – perhaps by feeding their vanity, or by letting boys be boys.

 

But “love does not rejoice in unrighteousness” – not in ourselves and not in our mate.  Rather, love “rejoices with the truth,” the way Paul did when he said to the Roman church, “The report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil” (Romans 16:19).  He knew that the pursuit of godliness, purity, and faithfulness was the only way for them to find joy and ultimate fulfillment.  Being “wise” about holiness while being “innocent” about sin – remaining unjaded and uncompromising as we travel through life – is the way to win in God’s eyes.

 

And what more could we want for our wife or husband than for them to experience God’s best in life?

 

Be happy for any success your spouse enjoys.  But save your heartiest congratulations for those times when they are honoring God with their worship and obedience.

 

Today’s Dare

 

Find a specific, recent example when your spouse demonstrated Christian character in a noticeable way.  Verbally commend them for this at some point today.

 

I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.  (Psalm 101:2)

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

 

 

Feb 07 2010

Love Dare - Day 33

Love Completes Each Other

 

If two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  -- Ecclesiastes 4:11

 

God creates marriage by taking a man and a woman and uniting them as one.  And although love must be willing to act alone if necessary, it is always better when it is not just a solo performance.  Love can function on its own if there is no other way, but there is a “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).  And love dares not to stop loving before it gets there.

 

This “completing” aspect of love was revealed to mankind from the beginning.  God originated the human race with male and a female – two similar but complementary designs meant to function in harmony.

 

Are bodies are made for each other.  Our natures and temperaments provide balance, enabling us to more effectively complete the tasks at hand.  Our oneness can produce children, and our teamwork can best raise them to health and maturity.  When one is weak, the other is strong.  When one needs building up, the other is equipped to enhance and encourage.  We multiply one another’s joys and divide one another’s sorrows.

 

The scriptures say, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the other one will lift up his companion.   But woe to the one who falls, the one will lift up his companion.  But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up”(Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10).  It’s like your two hands, which don’t just coexist together but multiply the effectiveness of the other.  In order to do what they do, neither is quite complete without the other.

 

Although our difference can frequently be the source of the misunderstanding and conflict, they have been created by God and can be ongoing blessings if we respect them.

 

One of you may be better at cooking, for instance, while the other is more thorough in cleaning the dishes.  One may be more gentle and able to keep peace among family members, while the other handles discipline more directly and effectively.  One may have a good business head but needs the other to help him remember to be generous.

 

When we learn to accept these distinctions in our mate, we can bypass criticism and go straight to helping and appreciating one another.

 

But some can’t seem to get past their partners differences.  And they suffer many wasted opportunities as a result.  They don’t take advantage of the uniqueness that makes each of them more effective when including the other.

 

One such example from the Bible is Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who presided over the trial of Jesus.  Unaware of who Christ was and against his better judgment, he allowed the crowd to influence him into crucifying Jesus.

 

But the one person who was more sensitive to what was really happening was Pilate’s wife, who came to him at the height of the uproar and warned him he was making a mistake.  “While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, ‘Have nothing to do with what righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19).

 

She was apparently a woman of keen discernment who grasped the magnitude of these events before her husband did.  Certainly, God’s sovereignty was at work, and nothing would have kept His Son from marching obediently to the cross for us.  But Pilate’s dismissal of his wife’s intuition reveals an unfortunate side to man’s nature that is often downplayed.  God made wives to complete their husbands, and He gives them insight that in many cases is kept from their men.  If this discernment is ignored, it is often to the detriment of the man making the decision.

 

The effectiveness of your marriage is dependent upon both of you working together.  Do you have big decisions to make about your finances or retirement planning?  Are you having a real problem with a coworker who’s getting harder and harder to deal with, and you are grappling with the appropriate action to take?  Are you absolutely convinced that your educational choices for the children are right, no matter what your spouse thinks?

 

Don’t try doing all the analysis yourself.  Don’t disqualify his or her right to voice an opinion on matters that affect both of you.  Love realizes that God has put you together on purpose.  And though you may wind up disagreeing with your spouse’s perspectives, you should still give their views respect and strong consideration.  This honors God’s design for your relationship and guards the oneness He intends.

 

Joined together, you are greater than your independent parts. You need each other.  You complete each other.

 

Today’s Dare

 

Recognize that your spouse is integral to your future success.  Let them know today that you desire to include them in your upcoming decisions, and that you need their perspective and counsel.  If you have ignored their input in the past, admit your oversight and ask them to forgive you.

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

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