Jesus saw people, not as they were, but as what they might become. This is the essence of the resurrection story.
As a family, we’ve looked for ways to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection in tangible, hands-on ways.
Studies show that more Americans search the word “churches” around Easter than any other time of the year. This is an opportunity to start talking.
When we start editing the gospel for fear of offense we lose everything. Without the gospel we have no message, no mission, and no church.
Summer camp instills Christian life lessons into young people, but years later, it's counselors who often have the most to reflect upon.
Sometimes we want to start over, but we're scared to make the changes. Jesus offers us Life 2.0 and it's not what you might expected.
Tragically, many people who grew up as Christians end up drifting away from the faith once they become adults. Parents are heartbroken to watch their children leave behind the faith they’d hoped would become a lifelong priority. Meanwhile, God’s great purposes for people He loves go unfulfilled.
But it doesn’t have to be that way for you and your kids. You can help them develop “sticky faith” – faith that lasts and grows their whole lives long. Here’s how:
Yesterday as I glanced at my planner and saw the words “spring cleaning,” I thought about what might happen if I included thoughts of organizing and reviving my soul and spirit alongside the house.
Innate within each of us is a deep desire to connect. We want more than casual friendships, more than conversation that rarely goes beyond the weather and weekly recaps.
Despite disrespect, poor choices, and/or general moodiness, deep down we still love our sons and daughters as much as the day we brought them home. We may just have to work a little harder at showing it.
When people let you down, it hurts. But feeling like God isn’t even on your side wounds so much deeper.
After some deep time in prayer and thought, I realized I didn’t want to spend my life being bitter and negative.
When someone says they’re an atheist what’s your knee jerk response? Does it break your heart or does it launch you into a tirade about why they are wrong?
People want to be heard. Even if you think they are wrong, allowing them to share their ideas shows respect and might persuade them to really listen to you as well.
Rather than mentally formulating your argument so you can pounce whenever they take a breath, let’s look at 10 ways to peacefully talk to an atheist about Christianity.
I knew that God is all good, all knowing, and all powerful. But I masked my insecurities with God by doubting myself. What I feared most was being forgotten. I was afraid to live an insignificant life. I later realized the best life -- the most significant life I can live -- is the one I grow in my faith.
When you embrace your God-given humanity, all the ordinary moments of your life will take on extraordinary significance.
Although the mystery between men and women is sure to continue, here are ten proven activities to make your wife happy.
Jesus didn’t leave us with a five-point plan on how to “go into all the world.” What He did was show us how to love people. And that is what it will take to change the world.
How do we actually take our spiritual life to the next level?
Too few people respond to God’s call, because they’re afraid of taking the risks necessary to reach out in the midst of danger.
Do you remember how it felt to be in love? You had a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and no one could get you down. You were walking on air, feeling great, and losing weight!
Then what happened?
In nearly every marriage, complacency sets in. Circumstances over the years (and fresh wounds especially) can make a couple forget how they once felt for each other. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking our spouse for granted. Other times it amounts to seeing him at his worst and knowing he’s seen you at your worst, too.
Yes, marriage is about unconditional love, sacrificial love, and enduring love. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the passion again, too. Even in rocky seasons of a marriage, you must admit that there was a spark – or many – at one time. There was a desperation on the part of you and your husband to be with each other. What once caused a fire of passion and determination among you both to do what it takes to be with one another is still simmering somewhere underneath the surface of your hearts. That spark in your husband’s heart – and yours – just needs to be unearthed, rekindled, and fanned into a flame to burn freely once again. In my newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, I offer seven simple ways to reignite the passion in your marriage. Are you ready to give it a try?
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To prepare for this article, I posted this question to Facebook: “What would you do differently in your marriage if you could begin again?”
Some of the answers were practical—spending less on the wedding, divvying up chores, and getting into the habit of date night. But most had to do with communication.
Is there a way we could spend time communicating that could make all the difference in marriage?
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As followers of Jesus, we’ve been given a simple mission regarding sin: search and destroy. Put it to death.
“It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18 NKJV
I’m blessed. I’ve got an amazing tribe of people in my life. Some I’ve known for many years, and others I’m just getting to know. Please don’t let the idea of needing to have a tribe intimidate you though. I only use that term because with the invasion of social media, it seems we’ve gravitated to descriptive terms like crew, tribe, and posse to emphasize what we used to just call friends.
But whatever you call it, the need for connection is real. God created us for relationship – with Him first and foremost, and then with each other. The importance of having relationships is displayed all throughout the Bible. Adam had Eve. Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan. Ruth had Naomi. Jesus had Peter, John and the others, and while it was obviously a priority for Him to get alone with His Father to pray, He also made time to be with the people who were closest to Him. He even instructed the disciples to journey in pairs, so they wouldn’t have to travel alone.
The people in my friend group love me and are there for me. They challenge and encourage me. They welcome me to do the same for them.
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The Book of Proverbs gives us some amazing wisdom for life. Along with that, Solomon also exposes some common ways that people end up messing up their lives. There are many listed in this great book, but allow me to highlight five of them. Along with each point, I have included some brief comments about avoiding these disastrous mistakes in your own life.
OK, here’s how to ruin your life:
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If you find yourself married without a baby on your hip, there are several (fun!) things you should be doing before your family of two becomes three.
God has equipped me with exactly what I need to accomplish His will. He can still do great things with whatever I am able to offer up in worship.
Some say the current “millennial” generation is entitled. They were complimented about everything. But, does it really make that big of an impact?
We are in a spiritual battle in this world. We may not always see it, or we might forget it's there. But the enemy would love nothing more than to fill our lives with constant discouragement and defeat. The Bible reminds us that he’s on the prowl and will stop at nothing to try and bring us down.
God tells us in His word to stay aware of Satan’s schemes, to live alert in this world, and to stay close to Him. He arms us with the sword, the Word of God, to stand against the enemy’s lies. He equips us with strength, wisdom, and discernment through His Spirit to stay strong in the spiritual battle. He invites us to spend time in His Presence, through prayer and worship, pressing in to know Him more.
Don’t be fooled by the traps of the enemy. Don’t be taken unaware or think you’re somehow strong enough, in your own power, to withstand his attacks.
Pray for God’s protection to surround you and those you love. Pray for the armor of God over your life. Hide His words of truth in your heart and mind. Ask Him to fill you with the power of His Spirit. And stand strong, always remembering that, “…greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
God is always greater than the battles we are facing. And whether we recognize it or not, He is constantly fighting for us. He never leaves us to fend for ourselves in a dark world, but reminds us He is close, He is with us, and will carry us through this storm.
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Terminally ill patients and older people often question whether they lived life well. In his last few days life, facing terminal breast cancer, my late husband Jim asked, “Have I really lived the life God called me to live? Have a made a difference in people’s lives?” Within seconds an email popped up.
A classmate Jim had not heard from in decades wrote that he had meant to connect years earlier to thank Jim. He reminded us that we had him and other classmates to dinner in our home when they were in the area. He watched Jim slip a napkin on his lap and then pray over the meal. That friend said he could not get that prayer out of his minds and that is seemed to flow from Jim’s heart. After a few weeks he started to pray before dinner with his family. He said, “It changed our lives.”
God allowed that answer to come when Jim needed it. It’s a reminder that how we have lived is not always measured in the big events, but often in those small moments that flowed from our hearts and actions.
Here are 10 helpful ways to ensure that you live the life God called you to live.
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In this over-sexed and under-loved world, people are looking for the real deal, the secret to lasting love with a vibrant sex life. Because of this pursuit for a purer passion, the most asked question we get when it comes to Red Hot Monogamy is, “What is okay with God?”
Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, and authors of 44 books including Red Hot Monogamy, Red Hot Tips for Women, The First Five Years, and Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. They are co-directors of Love-Wise.com and have kept the spark in their love for more than 36 years.
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Ash Wednesday is a penitent service that uses ash to mark the sign of the cross on the believer’s forehead, symbolizing our sinful nature and need for salvation. The Catholic church usually uses the ashes of Palm Sunday branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service.
With all the different information and philosophies on child rearing a parent can feel overwhelmed and overloaded.
While I was in college, a local church offered me a hospitality internship. My goal was to attract new guests, create a welcoming environment, and develop a process that ultimately leads guests into membership.
Easy, I thought. I'm studying hospitality management and marketing…how hard could this be?
Sweet, naïve Lindsey.
My confidence was quickly shaken as I realized how hard it is to change an entire church culture. I struggled for an entire semester, pushing and pulling and fighting against antiquated ideas of hospitality.
But I can assure you that creating a welcoming church is a challenge that is well worth the effort. Making a positive first impression encourages guests to return next week. The more second and third-time guests, the more likely your church is to see long-lasting growth.
To save you from enduring some of the pain I've experienced, I present my top ways to make church guests feel more welcome:
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Co-parenting requires dealing with the “worms in the can” and letting painful emotions take a back seat to the needs of the children.
During that first year, dissatisfaction, disappointment, and discouragement were a part of daily life. It was clear to me we weren’t a match.
Time is a gift; a precious gift that cannot be exchanged if it doesn't suit us. By saying that time is a gift we are admitting that time is not a commodity. A commodity is nothing special, something that is always in abundance. But time is limited and thus of inestimable value. A wise person might use just a bit of this invaluable gift for introspection. Indeed, a prudent person will recognize that an investment of time to ask one's self an essential question might not buy time but help to spend it with profound dividends. That question is one that I ask you now: "How are you using time?"
There is someone, somewhere who is walking blindly down the path to an affair. That someone needs help - before it's too late.
I’m no stranger to crisis, trauma, fear, suffering, anxiety, or depression. But here’s what I know. Each time I’ve been stranded in that endless ocean, I’ve made it to the other side.
A relationship is like a fine automobile—it can run very smoothly if given the right conditions. It can function effectively forever. If mistreated and not kept tuned, however, your marriage is sure to fail.
Fortunately, we have some control over how “tuned” we keep our marriage. We have great ability to remain alert to the conditions of our marriage and to check in with our mate to ensure they are satisfied, as well with how the marriage is functioning.
While there are many necessary ingredients for a loving marriage (see I Corinthians 13; Galatians 5: 22-23), there are three necessities I’d like to focus on today: compassion, consideration and collaboration. Certainly, you could argue that if you are loving as defined by I Corinthians 13 or exhibit the fruits of the Spirit you will show compassion, consideration and collaboration and your marriage will likely thrive.
Let’s examine each of these a bit more closely and then we’ll explore how you might try these out in your daily life.
Prayer runs alongside worship in regard to the different ways in which we express our faith. Carefully memorized prayers repeated religiously, journaled thoughts, silent sacred moments with God, and hearts poured out through song all grab God’s attention. Our Father’s focus is on the content of the conversation more so than the delivery.
I love the story of Peter in the Bible. That guy could really be an idiot. Maybe that’s why I identify with him so. I can be an idiot too. I’m thankful God loves idiots.
Peter’s whole life was one big walking object lesson. Peter did some great things. Peter did some really not great things. Can you relate? I know I can. That’s why I love the last chapter of John’s gospel that contains a breakfast conversation between Jesus and Peter.
Over a campfire by the sea, Jesus shows Peter an ocean of grace. Here are six ways for you to step forward into that grace as well:
02/15/2019 Why am I not content? We blame media, commercialism, and consumerism, but there is a deeper problem. Sin.
9 Ways to Choose Contentment
Why am I not content? We blame media, commercialism, and consumerism, but there is a deeper problem. Sin.
Ever since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, humans have been struggling with three tricky obstacles to the healing power of grace. When Adam and Eve gave in to Satan’s temptation, they experienced guilt, knowing they disobeyed God. They were consumed with fear as they tried to hide. And, they wrestled with shame as they desired to cover themselves.
But the gospel is good news for all, including those of us parenting special-needs children as we carry the familiar burdens of guilt, fear, and shame. Just as the sailors on Paul’s journey had to lighten their loads to survive (Acts 27:38), we must let go of the overwhelming responses that are dragging us down.
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The mistakes we made, the unrealistic expectations, the trials and the “me-first” attitudes all served a purpose. All proved our desperate need for Jesus.
The book of Philemon may be short, but its 25 verses pack a powerful spiritual punch. Paul’s letter to his Christian brother Philemon gives us a window into Paul’s personal life and relationships, showing us how the apostle lived out his faith in real life. We see a side of Paul we sometimes miss. Paul wasn’t just the bold evangelist and fierce protector of the truth of the Gospel. This letter shows us Paul’s compassion for others and the joy he experienced in relationships.
Although the letter doesn’t give us all the particulars, we can grasp the basic situation. The slave Onesimus, after running away from his master Philemon, encountered Paul in prison and accepted Jesus through Paul’s efforts. Paul wrote to his friend and fellow believer Philemon to urge him to treat his slave in a Christlike manner. Although we cannot identify with the particular situation Paul addresses here, this brief book strongly demonstrates faith principles and personal characteristics we should emulate in our own lives today. Although not the only principles found in Philemon, the following ten characteristics will help us navigate our own complicated relationships in a way that pleases and honors God and builds up the Church.
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Look at statistics on storage units and it’s clear: people are discontent. We never have enough. But contentment isn’t just about what we have. It’s more about the condition of our heart.
The Puritan preacher Jeremiah Burroughs, in The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,described contentment as "that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition."
There are basic steps we can take to cultivate more heart contentment. Along the way, might even get rid of clutter.
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“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverb 17:17)
American legend Leslie Knope is known for many things. None of which has left as lasting of an impact as her creation of Galentine’s Day.
For those of you who don’t know, Leslie Knope is a character on NBC’s Parks and Rec played by actress Amy Poehler. Leslie, a constant cheerleader for her all friends and a believer in females supporting females, turns February 13th into a day to celebrate her girlfriends. Ever since, women across America have been celebrating Galentine’s Day.
If you have never participated in a Galentine’s Day celebration, I challenge you to host your own. As women, we need to support one another and encourage each other in the plans the Lord has for us. Plus, friendship is just fun! So to help you celebrate the ladies in your life, here are 10 fun Galentine’s Day activities that you can do with your girlfriends.
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In times of being unreasonably indicted, God invites us to give the altercation to Him and then examine the hidden person of our hearts.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
When you become a parent, you become entrusted by God to raise one or more of his children, which is no small task! And I don’t know about you, but I feel absolutely bombarded with discipline advice that leaves me feeling like a D+ parent, at best.
But what if instead of trying to force other parents’ rules on our family, we simplified discipline into a few principles to help guide children in a way that fits our family’s needs? These guidelines won’t tell you the rules you should or shouldn’t set for your kids, but instead equip you to implement rules that you decide on.
It’s time to stop taking advice from others and start focusing on how God is asking you to raise your children. Here are 10 ways to do just that.
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Both men and women act out sexually. Many marriages are fraught with numerous instances of betrayal.
Meditation is taking time to be with God. Christian meditation is not the Eastern practice of emptying your mind. To the contrary: Christian meditation is filling your mind, focusing your thoughts, not on self, but on the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in His Word.
Lust is a killer—and a serial killer at that. Men and women have fallen into the sinful grip of lust since the beginning of time. We first see lust come on the scene in Genesis 3:6. When Eve sets her gaze upon the tree that God had forbade her and Adam to touch, she lusted after it. The Hebrew verb originally used to describe what Eve thought about the tree is ḥâmaḏ, which means to desire lustfully. Eve desired and lusted after wisdom. At least that's what she thought. In reality, she desired what we all desire when giving in to the temptation of lust. She desired to be like God.
When we fuel the fires of fleshly passions by giving in to lust, we are telling God that we know better than He does. We are telling our creator that His plan for us to remain pure won’t quite cut it. Isn’t that the angle the serpent took when tempting Eve? “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Genesis 3:4)
It’s time for believers to lay aside the weightiness of lust, and fix our gaze upon Christ (Hebrews 12:1). Here are 10 methods and reasons to help you overcome your battle with lust:
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The Bible Book of Acts comes at a special time in the Gospel story of Jesus Christ. Acts is one of the larger books of the Bible that contains many special insights and faith inspirations. But, have you ever felt like having a little guidance in your Bible reading would help you learn and understand more than you currently do?
Or maybe you heard an idea presented in a sermon and thought to yourself, “How on earth could I have missed that?!”
Learning and observing themes in certain books of the Bible can have a tremendous effect on your understanding of the book and whole Bible story.
The book of Acts contains wonderful Bible stories and there are some unique things to watch out for as you read.
In Acts, Christ had just risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, and given the apostles the Great Commission. How do the disciples combine their experience of the risen Christ, the Old Testament prophecies about Christ, and the call to make disciples of all nations? Let's dive into 4 ways you can dig deeper into Acts through specific study tips.
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The book of Proverbs in the Bible was written to give you godly wisdom, instruction, and insight, and to help you learn discipline, right behavior, and how to do what is right and just in life (Proverbs 1:1-3).
However, if you’ve experienced a disconnection of what a proverb is saying and how to walk it out in a practical way, you’re not alone.
Below is a look at 10 biblical proverbs and how to apply them to modern day life.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way — these years after we earned our AARP card. People talked about the Golden Years as if they were some magical resort of rest and enjoyment.
But it didn’t happen for us like it did for Grandma. No cruises to the Italian coast. No easy retirement with plenty of money to do whatever we want. No easy choices for the next decades.
Since Jesus died young, we have no divine example for the 60+ years. So how do we deal with these not-so-golden years when the abundant life is elusive and everything feels like a loss?
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It happens. For reasons unbeknownst to us, we cause our young adult children to become annoyed or worse yet, embarrassed, just by being ourselves.
Call it a generational thing, but chances are your parents did the same thing to you. Aging is tough. It’s especially difficult when our actions or our reactions to our children’s opinions sound exactly like our own parents’ reactions to us back in the days when we thought we were so cool.
It’s time we learn to step back, take ourselves out of the equation, and look at life through the lens of our grown children so we can be more of an inspiration, rather than an irritation. I’m not saying all of these suggestions came from personal experience, but here is what I’ve learned (from my own daughter and her myriad of friends) about how to keep from embarrassing your millennial-aged child:
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In this fallen world where people can be difficult and situations stressful, it’s often challenging to love others.
As you reflect on what type of legacy of giving you are living out in your home, consider these five Giving Personalities to help you analyze where your family currently is in the area of financial giving.
In order to have healthy, life-giving relationships with in-laws (or anyone), we have to continually pay attention to boundaries.
God’s Word doesn’t tell us to pursue our dreams. Not even once. Does that surprise you?
If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you’ve seen them: the well-dressed, perfectly coiffed Christians who speak in catchphrases better suited to hand-painting on a reclaimed-wood wall sign and wear stretched, plastic smiles anytime they’re in public.
Meanwhile, beneath that shiny facade, their hearts are hurting. They’re troubled by a fractured marriage. They’re worried about a struggling child. Perhaps they’re facing financial or health problems. The outside world—even their church—would never know that inside, they’re crumbling.
Perhaps you’ve been one of those people before. Perhaps you’re one of them now.
I like to call this “Happy Face Christianity.” And if you fall into that category, it’s not your fault. You’d probably like to be honest about what you’re going through, but you just can’t. What will people think? As a Christian, aren’t you supposed to have joy at all times? Shouldn’t you be able to ignore the slings and arrows of the mortal world if you keep your eyes closely fixed on the eternal?
In my upcoming novel, Brunch at Bittersweet Café, my main character, Melody Johansson, struggles with those same questions. In the process of writing her story, I began to think closely about why we as a church feel so deeply that we need to have it all together.
Why, as Melody believes, do we think that acknowledging the trials in our life is somehow a betrayal of our salvation?
By the time I finished the book, I had narrowed down the reasons to four main myths that we as Christians believe…and we may not even realize that we believe them:
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I love that all things are possible with God, but am not too fond of the fact that nowhere does the Bible say things will be easy!
in Christ there is true freedom, and not just a new, different, shinier set of chains
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3)
Perfectionism. It’s a term I didn’t apply to myself until I began writing about it.
As I read about perfectionism and the way it affects people, I saw myself in ways I hadn’t before. It was upsetting.
I read many negative side-effects to perfectionism and that only increased my anxiety.
I needed to calm down.
Perfectionism is an inner law that’s unrealistic and demanding. If it’s allowed free rein in our lives, it’ll wreak havoc on our nerves, our bodies, and our relationships.
I needed to find ways to stop it and I did.
Here are five ways you can calm your perfectionism too.
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The tree is down. The decorations are stowed away for another year and your waistline is bigger while your wallet is thinner. After Christmas, winter can be a depressing season, making people look upon it with dread rather than excitement. But who says it has to be that way? If we can shift our perspectives and see winter as chock full of new opportunities for self-improvement, we can look upon the season with anticipation, excited to see what God has in store. Here are 10 ways to rid yourself of the winter blues:
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Mistakes come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Some can be easily whisked away. Sadly, others can lead to long-term regret.
It’s Sunday morning. You’re looking forward to going to church and celebrating God’s Word. You put on your Sunday best and tell the kids to get ready for service.
Your children respond not with enthusiasm, but with groans of protest.
“Church is boring!”
“I can’t sit still for that long.”
“I don’t understand what they’re talking about.”
Each child has his own gripe about church depending on his age. Truth be told, sometimes church services can be a little dry, or run long, or be hard to understand. But all of those words can be used to describe school too, and we wouldn’t let our kids skip school based on these reasons.
So what’s a parent to do when our kids give us a hard time about going to church? If you wait until your kids are perfectly behaved to take them to church, you may find that their childhood has come and gone with no “perfectly behaved” age to speak of.
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Have you been thinking about setting goals in your marriage but you're not sure where to start? Perhaps you are already setting goals but you want to take it up a notch? Or maybe you aren’t even sure that setting marriage goals is worth your time. Either way, you are in the right place!
One question we are often asked about marriage is: How are you two able to stay so close after being married for nearly two decades? And we let them know how setting goals in our marriage (along with a lot of love, grace, and prayer) has been the lifeblood of making sure we stay close in every season of life.
In coaching and working with thousands of couples around the world, we’ve found that very few of them make goal setting a priority in their marriage. As we’ve dug deeper to see what the main reason for so many couples neglecting to set goals for their marriage, we’ve found they simply don’t know how. In addition to lacking the know-how many couples do not see the benefit of goal setting in their marriage.
With the new year coming up, what a perfect opportunity to learn how to set seasonal goals in your marriage. We hope to shed some light on the importance of being intentional about improving your marriage through setting seasonal goals as well as showing you how.
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Are you in the middle of a hard season right now?
Maybe you feel trapped in a dead-end job.
You’re battling through tough circumstances in your marriage.
Just graduated and not sure where you’re going next.
Feel like you’re running uphill in ministry.
Can’t seem to catch your breath financially, spiritually, or emotionally.
I’ve been there.
But regardless of what type of season you’re in—a frustrating one or a super fruitful one—I’ve learned there are four different people that I need in my life. Four people that I need to learn and grow (and some days survive). And four people I think you need too, in every season.
God knows that we need people. And Jesus shows us how important community is in the story of the paralyzed man in Mark chapter 2.
Basically, Jesus had come to town and everyone wanted to see him #CelebrityStatus. He was preaching in this house and it got so packed that no one else could fit inside, so people started gathering outside to listen or even just catch a glimpse of him.
Then we meet four guys. Four dudes who were carrying their paralyzed friend. These four guys wanted to get their friend to Jesus. Seeing the massive crowd they, “made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
The four faithful friends did absolutely everything they could to bring the paralyzed man to Jesus. And he is healed. How awesome is that?!
I only hope that I have four people like this around me. Who are they? These are the four people we need in our lives at all times:Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock
I believe many in the church are pessimists, but today is a day to be an optimist. Is that just a Pollyanna attitude that comes from a fleeting feeling associated with a new year? As we move into a new year together, I challenge you to look upward and forward with me as we turn to one of the most optimistic books in the Bible, the Book of Philippians.
I am burdened by the division and arguing that is now more prevalent than ever in our country. Professing believers often seem more concerned with expressing their opinion than they are about dialoguing in a way that points others to you. Sadly, we the church, are not behaving much different than the world behaves. I know that must grieve you, that none of this has come as a surprise to you, and that none of it is out of your control.
Here are 10 things to pray as well as verses from Scripture to guide you.
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Give each other permission to share critical information, if done respectfully and kindly on areas of growth and change needed in the other.
The more you have of Jesus in your life, the better your life will be. Here are practical suggestions for Pursuing More of Jesus.
Are New Year’s resolutions worth making when, according to statistics, between 80 and 90% of them will fail? You may have ample personal experience with the truth behind this statistic. We’re creatures of habit, and often many of those habits are bad. So we make plans and strive to do better again and again and again, only to add those twenty pounds we’ve dropped plus some, spend twice whatever debt we managed to pay off, and end the winter feeling more defeated than ever.
Facing yet another failed attempt, we decide we’re the problem. We’re simply not disciplined and committed enough. But what if we’re approaching this whole “quest for a better self” wrong? What if in our determination for change, we’re setting ourselves up for frustration?
Here are ten steps that can help you think through your goals for the new year.
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Make no mistake, God is working. He works in our hearts, giving us both the desire and the power to please and honor Him (Philippians 2:13). And our Father God will continue to work in us until the job is done and we are like His righteous Son, Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
Jesus acknowledged His dependence on the Father while He walked on the earth, and He in turn says to us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Philippians 1:6). But we must also remember God intends for us to bear much fruit as we abide in and walk with Him (John 15:5-8).
There’s no room for spiritual apathy or laziness. As my Grandpa Parks used to say, “God doesn’t want us to sit around like a bump on a pickle!”
Our Heavenly Father works through us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and obey God’s Word. Here are ten ways we can “cooperate,” and boost our Christian walk in the New Year.
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The teen years have been hijacked by pleasure, pressure, and distraction–none of which give teens the purpose or identity. Here's how teens can answer: Who am I? Why am I here?
Finding more purpose. Having a “purpose-driven life”. “Finding” ourselves.
Cultural buzzwords like these prove that, more than ever, we all seem to be searching for more out of life.
Many of us are blessed to have our basic physical needs met (food, clothing, shelter) and therefore have the luxury to ask the deeper life questions like “Why am I here?”
And yet, it seems like there’s never been an era where we are so confused about what it really means to have life purpose. We wonder where to find purpose, how to determine what our purpose could be, and most of all, how to actually end up living with purpose and intention.
With all the chaos and seemingly random activities of our modern world, some even question if there is such a thing as purpose.
So first, let’s set the record straight.
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Can you even imagine how much of a game changer it would be if, as you drove the kids to soccer, did laundry, walked to third period, led a staff meeting, ran on the treadmill, or waited to fall asleep, you allowed into your mind “only the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly” (Phil. 4:8 MSG)?
Would you even recognize the peace-filled person you had become?Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Nghia Le
The Holidays can be a difficult and poignant time as the seasons of life change due to loss of loved ones, children and grandchildren being unable to make it home for the holidays, lack of money to buy gifts, or harvesting seeds we’ve planted the past year.
I understand and have wasted too many holidays wallpapering my mind with the if-only moments. Mother always quoted, when any of us began that bottomless trek through the quagmire of if-only with one of her favorite retorts. “If wishes were fishes, we’d all have a fry.”
But we don’t need stale, unhelpful, sayings. We need help. Real and lasting help from the Helper of our souls.
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If your Christmas is still a little too commercial, or if you’re struggling with creating a meaningful Christmas routine that your family can practice for years to come, here are few things to consider as you build your own Christmas legacy.
This is not just an American issue but I live here so I will talk about what I know.
He's jolly, sparkly, magical, and he promises gifts to children who are good.
The armor of God is the way every Christian should equip themselves to fight the good fight of faith every single day. A widely known scripture series in Ephesians, and a very popular Bible study topic, this “armor” has very practical application not only in our individual spiritual lives but other areas of life as well.
It can happen in the best of families. Tensions grow when a new grandchild arrives, and the new mom and grandma have some significant disagreement on the best way to care for that newborn.
Or Grandpa sees some behavioral concerns in a young grandchild that he believes needs to be dealt with, and Dad has a different way of handling that.
These are common issues, and usually easier scenarios to deal with compared to matters of faith when a parent or spouse wants nothing to do with Christianity or church. It hurts deeply when even the mention of Jesus or the Bible around the grandchildren is forbidden.
Besides the questions surrounding how we got to this place, the bigger question is what do we, as grandparents, do about it?
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The holidays are coming, and for some that means family get-togethers. Sitting with those you love who love you back, laughing and telling old stories over and over again.
For others, the mere thought of getting together with certain people is enough to make them cringe.
Not everyone is easy to get along with. And yet, we are expected to try and get along. Read Romans 12:8. God said if possible, and another version said as much as it depends on you.
But before you just use this verse as a reason to NOT get along, let me tell you how to get along with difficult people. I'm not an expert in this field, but like you, I've had my share of altercations.
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“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love. . .” croons Frank Sinatra in “The Christmas Waltz.” It’s among the first songs my family blasts on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s house. And while I sing along in the car, while it’s still November out, I mean every single Christmas-adoring word.
Then it happens. Right around mid-December, when the pace of the season is at a full-out sprint, my professed love for all-things-Christmas begins to sound less convincing. Festive gatherings I once looked forward to with childlike enthusiasm become more obligatory, more like boxes that need checking off. And I think, Here I am again, another high-stress Christmas season—same song, second verse, a little bit louder, a little bit worse.
But Isaiah 9:6 foretells a different kind of Christmas: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . and his name shall be called . . . Prince of Peace.”
Because “he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), the Son given to us, Jesus, has made peace possible with God and with those around us. Yet we often find ourselves caught up in the season’s buzz, feeling everything but peaceful, wishing there was a way to lighten the load at Christmas.
Here are 10 Ways to Lessen Stress at Christmas.
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For some people, work comes with an on/off switch. For others, it bleeds into every part of life. Creating boundaries for work, rest, and meaningful family time can come with significant learning curves.
A great verse that has helped shape our marriage and family rejuvenating times comes from Song of Solomon 7:11: Come away, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages.
My husband is a lot better at knowing when we need to unplug from life and cozy up as a couple or as a family. With all life’s responsibilities and blessings to steward, it can be easy to overlook the need to stop and get away. This verse is an invitation, permission, and encouragement that it is not only OK with the Lord to leave work behind from time to time, but it is also something exemplified in Scripture.
While “getting away” is mentioned in Song of Solomon for the couple in the poem, home life can provide a small sense of leaving the world behind as well. We can create an oasis in our homes away from the stresses and distractions of life.
As I line these volumes up for this project, I find that I learned a great deal about God’s providence over the year past.
At Crosswalk, we’re blessed by how our readers connect all aspects of life to God’s purposes. Through our Faith channels, we love sharing truth, guidance, and inspiration to motivate your faith journey.
It’s always enlightening to review what you loved most. So, thanks to you, here are the top 10 Most-Read Faith articles from 2018, counting down from #10 to the #1 fave.
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Every day on Crosscards.com, people from around the world send eCards of all kinds to their loved ones near and far. Whether it's a simple "thinking of you" message, a holiday greeting, or an encouraging Scripture verse, it is our hope and prayer that each card would bring a smile to the recipient and encourage them with the love of God.
This year, we combed through hundreds of pages on Crosscards.com to find the 10 most popular eCards, and we are excited to share them with you all! Some of these cards are for holidays that are still several months away, but you can always visit Crosscards.com and schedule cards to send in advance. You'll never miss a birthday or holiday again! And if you're one of those people who can't quite get a Christmas card sent out in the mail this month, there are plenty of free Christmas eCards ready and waiting for you. You can even add the email address of your friends and family all at once to cut down on time and get you back to celebrating faster.
Just one more quick thing-- did you know Crosscards.com has more than just eCards? You can also download free phone wallpapers, Facebook covers, Scripture writing guides, prayer guides, desktop calendars and wallpapers, and more! We can't wait to continue bringing encouraging, beautiful, and inspiring content of all kinds to you in 2019.
It’s not that I’m cynical, but let’s face it, most our children have a toxic case of the gimmees. And yet, can we blame them?
For a short while I wasn’t stressed about being unemployed, at least not all the time. But soon days turned into weeks, and then weeks turned in to months, and I all I had to show for it was one interview that went nowhere. I started to panic. But there was also something else – I started to get frustrated with God.
A masked 17-year-old in California was arrested after lurking outside several homes, intimidating the owners, and eventually breaking into a home, waking the residents and demanding something from them: their Wi-Fi password.
Yes, it’s a true story; I can’t possibly make this stuff up.
When this kid ran out of data, he put on a mask and began wandering from house to house in his neighborhood in Palo Alto trying to find a Wi-Fi signal. Most people today have become smart enough to add passwords to their Wi-Fi, so he didn’t have any luck, and after trying several houses, he eventually broke into a house and woke up the couple living there.
“Give me your Wi-Fi password!”
He was chased out and eventually arrested.
Perhaps smartphones are a little more addicting than we thought.
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Trust is the bedrock of marriage. But what do you do if trust has been damaged or completely obliterated? I found myself asking that same question 18 months ago in my counselor’s office. I knew I had forgiven my husband for breaking my trust but neither one of us knew how to rebuild it. I knew forgiveness is a choice and love is a commitment but what about the very thing I needed to stay in my marriage? What about trust?
Trust is a feeling of security and safety. It’s not a choice but the result of building a bridge under your partner’s feet through daily interactions, choices, funneled through Christ at the center of our marriage. It is like being blindfolded yet armed with the resolute knowledge your partner will lead you safely through an obstacle course.
Broken trust isn’t isolated to obvious trusting breaking situations like affairs. Like our marriage it can be broken in far more subtle ways: lack of empathy, not being dependable, dishonesty or erratic behavior.
Once trust has been damaged, it is not easily restored. Often, we found ourselves moving one step forward only to move three steps back. Yet, because we continued to focus on Christ at the center of our marriage on top of Biblical counseling and supportive friends, we were able to build a stronger foundation of trust.
Rebuilding trust is not impossible, but it requires commitment, humility, consistency and intentionality of the offending partner. However, it’s not just the offending partner who needs to rebuild trust. The wounded spouse also needs to become a willing partner in the process too. Here are 10 trusting building tools to get you started.
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Resentment is the byproduct of bitterness and unchecked anger. Resentment can transform from a behavioral reaction to a personality trait. However, when Christ stitches our wounds together, the bleeding stops and peace is restored.
Once you have decided to give her a smart phone, here’s what she needs to know before you place te phone in her hands.
In a rhythm beyond our orchestration, the Christmas season returns. As someone who enjoys bundling up, playing carols, and anticipating the wonder of snow, Christmas arrives in my heart like an invitation. Each year I dream of lighting a single candle and creating a space of clarity and calm. Instead of being thrilled with joy that should quicken my step, I begin figuratively digging in my heels. I feel a smoldering desire to ditch distraction and accept the offer: to give the kinds of gifts Jesus would.Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Gareth Harper
Dear friend, perhaps you just received some surprising news. It could be that your son just showed up at the front door and said, “I’m gay.” Perhaps your sister introduced you to her partner today. Or maybe the friend you’ve known for years tearfully revealed she’s struggling with same-sex attraction. It could be that someone you know is “transitioning,” going by another name and gradually changing their appearance to reflect the opposite gender.
If any one of the scenarios above resembles yours today, you may be feeling despair, ashamed, frustrated, wounded, confused, guilty, betrayed . . . or even angry with God. But in the midst of your emotions and uncertainty, God’s Word offers hope-filled answers for you today.
Here are seven truths to consider:
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When my youngest daughter was four years old, she twirled into the kitchen where I was putting away the lunch dishes and announced, “I’m going to be a mommy. The daddy will go to his job. Then I will do all the mommy things and it will be fun!”
I had to stifle a laugh. Elbow-deep in sink water, I was amused by her assumption that the mom life was all fun and no work, unlike the daddy with the “real” job. At the time she made her career-of-leisure-and-fun pronouncement, I was expecting our seventh child and homeschooling her and her siblings. Oh yeah. All fun and games.
For my four-year-old, parenting looked like fun. And some of the time, it is. But what strikes me as the really difficult part of parenting is not the dishes or the laundry, or even keeping the schedules and getting the kids educated, however that may happen. The hard part is the relationships. The really difficult day-to-day thing is loving each other well.
For me, the hardest part of parenting is modeling the love of Christ to my kids. You, too? You must be a human parent, just like me. And in God’s grace and goodness, we are told that He “Gently leads those with young.” (Isa. 40:11) He'll never leave us nor forsake us, either, (Deut. 31:6) and we can look to Christ for ways to model His love to our kids.
How did Jesus show His love for us? He stopped, slowed down, and made time for hurting people. He had compassion for them. He showed respect to everyone, regardless of class, race, or sex. He listened. He encouraged. He took care of the physical needs of those whom He served; practically, he fed the hungry. Jesus prayed for us, pointed us back to the Father, and ultimately, gave His life for us.
Like Jesus, we can show love to our children, too. If you're struggling with how to live that out, here are 9 things you can do to model the love of Christ to your kids:
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When we choose to love the other person in moments where they least deserve it, and when we least feel like offering it, God smiles.
Most people know what to expect at a Black Friday sale. For those looking to avoid the usual frenzy, here are ten things to do on Black Friday besides shop.
Let’s begin by speaking this right now:
You are not required to be Martha Stewart in order to have a happy Thanksgiving. Now, if you’re into seasonal linens, leaf wreaths, decorative centerpieces, and baking turkey-shaped loaves of bread and Pinterest-perfect pumpkin pies, more power, admiration, and gratitude to you: the non-hospitality-gifted world thanks you.
What makes Thanksgiving a joy-filled and gratitude-laced occasion isn’t the things themselves but the fact of togetherness. Everything else is a carrier for joy.
Here are nine ways to have a happy Thanksgiving with your family:
Every single one of us has something to be grateful for, no matter how grim things look in our individual lives.
To forgive, by definition, is to absolve an offense or mistake made against you, for the mutual benefit of you and your offender. Whether you stop feeling angry or resentful right away, which usually doesn’t happen for most people, forgiveness presents an opportunity for you and your offender to move forward.
Have you ever felt like the worst parent in the world? If so, you’re not alone.
I still recall the time at my son’s elementary school when frayed nerves and pseudo-single parenting—the term I coined for flying solo while my husband was deployed—catapulted me straight to what I felt certain was my last nerve. I quipped answers at the kids, clenched teeth, and attempted to keep control over two active, young children while also soothing a crying youngster bent on bolting from his prison on wheels. (You and I would call that “prison” a stroller.) It proved exhausting.
In the classroom that day, another mom noticed my turmoil. She stepped to my ear and whispered, “It’ll be alright, mama.” She meant well, and I’m thankful for her concern, but I walked out of that school feeling like the worst parent in the world.
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Keeping promises is foundational to a healthy relationship. When trust is violated with broken promises, our relationship is likely to be in trouble.
Jesus modeled a consistent pattern of spiritual discipline during His earthly ministry—and if Jesus, who is God, had to be disciplined, then how much more should we mere mortals do the same?
Singleness brings its own suffering, a kind of misery many married people simply don’t understand anymore. I wonder what the hardest days are for you? Maybe it’s been a breakup (or several).
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Peter 5:8-9)
All around us every day is a spiritual realm we can’t fully see. Sometimes I wonder that if we could, maybe we’d choose to live our lives very differently. We might be more aware, in tune, alert to the battles surrounding us and to the evil seeking to take control.
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You cannot change your spouse. The only person you can change is you.
As parents, none of us want to hear that our grown children have suffered pain—especially if we were the cause of that pain, or were around when it happened and could have prevented it.
It’s much easier to just believe we did the best we could, the past is in the past, and our children turned out fine. But as much as we’d like to believe that an accusation from our children is simply a matter of their misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or exaggeration, it’s important that we hear them out without becoming defensive, getting angry, or freaking out.
Whether their hurt was inflicted by you or someone else, chances are it could be an emotionally-charged conversation or even a shocking revelation if you’re not prepared. Based on more than 20 years of ministering to moms, here are 10 ways to respond when your adult child tells you about his or her childhood pain.
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Have you ever had a tiff with your mate, made decisions from that sour mood, only to regret it later?
With the midterm elections looming, we are bombarded by television ads, political mailings, and social media diatribe. How should Christians be involved in the election process yet stay true to our biblical principles? How can we can vote like Christians?
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A couple of months ago, I was having some abdominal pain. It was not enough to go to the hospital, but it was enough to scare me. Already trying to adjust to my family and I moving to a new town and a new church, having physical pain in the midst of the emotional and spiritual battle I was already facing was the icing on top of my cake. With these digestive issues that often left me with debilitating symptoms such as nausea and abdominal pain, it was hard to believe that my illness was helping me grow closer to God. Reading in my bible, I came across James’ words:
“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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
An author on the site desiringgod.com wrote, “Even in the depths of suffering, Christ does not explain, but he calls the person to follow him on the way to the cross and to final glory. Suffering is not glorified for its own sake, but as a force for transformation and conversion. It can bring the person who suffers to maturity and personal growth. When those who suffer are open to this grace through the inward power of the Holy Spirit, suffering will bring them to the kingdom of God.” This cut me to the heart as an email with these words dropped onto my computer screen.
Suffering brings me closer to God? Really?
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Is your life full of adventures that are drawing you closer to God? He has incredible things in store for you.
Most of our children’s difficult phases are temporary. But how we choose to handle them can have more lasting impact.