We can't watch anything on TV without being reminded of the option to tweet about something or text someone or post something to Facebook or other social media. Now with smartphones we can use social media in the car, in the bathroom, at a meeting, and even--gasp!-- at church. While there are many advantages to social media, we should ask the question: Is it good for us? More importantly, how can we obey the Great Commandment to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength while using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+?
Are you seeking to glorify God through social media?"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all in the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
The foundatinal question "Are you seeking to glorify God?" can be addressed to any situation in life because we were created to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7). When we stray from our life's God-given purpose, we quickly fall away from where God wants us to be.
Does social media lead you into sin?"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:29)
Social media is itself is a morally neutral thing, neither inherently good nor bad. But when put in the hands of sinful human beings, it should be no surprise that it can be used for a host of sinful behaviors: bullying, sinful relationships, sexual perversion, worldly ideas, and allowing yourself to be led astray by bad influrences. Pray that Goid would reveal your sins and idols that may exist or be fed through social media, and for the grace and poser to repent.
Do people see the light of Christ in you based on what you post?"...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
Social networks present a unique opportunity to let your light shine before others by show the hope you have in Jesus Christ. You are able to challenge and encourage others to believe in Christ and follow Him. Don't forget the awesome opportunity you have to proclaim to the world the unsearchable riches of Christ!
Does social media make you a healthier and more productive person?"You shall Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Social media causes some people to have a shorter attention span, lose sleep, and even be depressed. Is that you? God desires that we honor Him with not only our body, but also our entire being. Don't let social media suck away your ability to follow that command.
Do you have any relationships through social media that you should cut off?"Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to connect with everyone you've ever known - for better or for worse. Some of our connections can discourage us in our faith or lure us into sins like gossip, bullying, and rekindling unhealthy relationships. Many divorces today are caused by discontented spouses rekindling old flames on Facebook. Don't let this happen to you! Exercise godly wisdom and cut off "bad company" that will hinder a holy life.
In our book The Marriage Journey: A Flight Plan to Your Healthy Marriage, we dedicate chapter 17 to this subject. This is a must have book for your marriage and all relationships. The book is available in the book store.
I could go on and on about social media, but you get my drift. Social media in itself is fine but how you use it may not be.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for the good gift of the Internet and social media through which we can create, communicate, learn, and glorify you. I thank You for the ways You have blessed our world and made lives easier because of the Internet. I praise you for giving the good gifts of creativity and work, and that we can reflect your image online. I pray that the Gospel message would speed ahead through the Internet and social media, proclaiming the glories of Christ and reaching many in this generation with the saving message of Christ. I pray that you would help me to avoid technology's unintended consequences like idolizing gadgets, using gadgets to feed other idols in my life, or to keep me from relating to others you have called me to love. Amen
First and foremost, take a look back at the past year. Take this as an opportunity to celebrate your accomplished achievements - the ones you tackled together. Through the years, we've continued to set and sometimes meet our marriage goals (resolutions) we set at the beginning of each year. We work together to develop our goals. It's amazing what any couple can accomplish when even one partner is willing to do the work. And besides, Romans 12:18 tells us "If possible, as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (That's a great principle for marriage when both parties are waiting for the other to take the initiative.)
I encourage you to ask your spouse the questions listed below and come up with some goals of your own for the New Year.
1. What did you most enjoy about our dating days?
2. What do you wish we could do as a couple that we rarely or no longer take the time to do?
3. What have you always wanted to do, as a couple, that we haven't yet done?
4. Where would be the ideal getaway for you and I to go someday?
5. What, specifically, would you like to see us accomplish together in the New Year?
But if that's too big of a step for now, or if you're somewhat frustrated here's a place to start - some simple goals for a closer connection in the New Year:
1.Pray and read the Bible together. This takes intentional commitment. We need to make this a priority in our marriages. Find a study/devotional you and your spouse can work through together this year. Also make it a daily ritual to prayfor one another as well as with one another.
2. Say "I Love You" every day. Those three little words mean more each time we say them. Don't just say them to say we did, mean them.
3. Start your day with a kiss. Simple; but effective. Studies show couples that kiss each other daily (even a quick peck on the cheek) are happier, overall, than couples that don't.
4. Plan date nights. Dating was important before you were married and believe me, it's even more important after you're married. It doesn't have to be a fancy evening however it should be a time you are with your spouse exclusively.
5. Do unexpected acts of love. This is an easy one and truly makes an impression on the one you love. A hand written poem, a card, a love letter, or a small gift are ways you can do this. Maybe send a sweet text during their day or their favorite treat prepared just for them can do wonders in making someone feel loved.
6. Be interested in your spouse's day. Make it a point at the end of the day to ask the one you love how their day went. Most importantly, be a good listener. Really pay attention. You will be amazed at how much your spouse needs this specially if it has been a difficult day.
My favorite rule for making marriages stronger is to be intentional. Love your spouse on purpose not because you have to. Think of additional ways you can show them love throughout the year, throughout the week, and throughout the day. Resolution defined: a firm decision to do or not to do something. Make this year the year you will love intentionally because you can. "Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)
If you haven't already purchased, and read together, The Marriage Journey available in our bookstore please consider this resource to build a stronger, healthier marriage. Also, our newest addition to the bookstore, Journey 2 Victory serves as a tool to assist in healing not only marriages and relationships, but also individuals. Many times when our thoughts are committed to paper God gives us comfort and 'releases' our hurt and pain.
Heavenly Father, You are Holy. You call us to be holy. You created us in Your image. Yet, so often our hearts wander. Our speech does not glorify You. Our actions do not honor You. Self prevails. In this New Year, clothe us with humility. Take away our desire to be right and our stubbornness to demand our own way. Submit our will to Yours. As we open the pages of Scripture, tender our hearts so that it will penetrate even to the marrow of our bones. Amen.
Ever go for a long drive somewhere and have so much on your mind that you arrive at your destination without a clue how you got there? Did you stop at all the red lights and stop signs? What route did you end up taking.
So busy in your thoughts, you forgot to pay attention to your driving.
You were on autopilot.
That's what the holiday season can be like. We overcommit ourselves and get sucked into the busyness of the season. By the time the New Year rolls in we need a vacation! It's time to do something different. Christmas time can be like a season we switch to autopilot and become exhausted, instead of a season to be a family and intentionally make time to remember the reason for the season - Christ.
Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Here are a few things we can do to keep our holiday season stress free, busy free, and keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ. Put that to-do list on a diet.
Don't make your first priority everything everyone wants you to go to. Decide what you and your spouse want this season to be about. When you look back, do you want to remember how busy you were, how many dinners you went to or shows or events you attended? Write that down. This will be sort of like your holiday mission statement. Put that somewhere that you and your spouse will be reminded of it constantly. Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness... Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth..... Reduce the gift list.
Christmas is more about giving of ourselves,than it is about buying and giving a gift. At least, it should be. This year, give the gift of yourself to your loved ones or to a charity. Make a date out of it it and go serve at your local soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. Or maybe visit the senior community of your neighborhood with your spouse. Sit down and play a card game with some of the elderly there, talk with them, ask them about their life and what Christmas means to them. List to them laugh with them, and spend your time - with them. That's a gift they will cherish and have with them always. It's better than a box of Christmas cookies. 1 John 4:10-11 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loves us....... James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?.......... Schedule in down time.
For every day you have an event or activity to attend, add in at least one day of down time at home. Take naps together, read to each other, study a few bible verses together, or watch a Christmas movie together. In the midst of the chaotic holidays, claim your calm and give yourselves the opportunity to be still for a bit.
Heavenly Father, Christmas-time is such a blessed season of the year as we remember the firth of our Lord Jesus Christ in a stable in Bethlehem, and how we thank You for giving Your only begotten o be born into this world.. so that be His death and resurrection, He could become our Saviour, and we could become Your children. Lord we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all Your goodness and grace to us, and gor loving us so much that You chose to be born into our race so that we might be identified with Your righteousness. Praise Your hold name.
This can be a very controversial subject for many, I must approach this from God's point of view.
Have you ever sneaked a look ahead of time at a gift you were going to receive (e.g. finding a birthing present and looking at it before your birthday)? Did knowing ahead of time spoil the surprise on the day you were to receive it? Living together is like opening a wonderful gift ahead of its intended time. It is unwrapping a special gift, peeking at it to soon, and then having to live with the consequences.
The Bible says in Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage should be honored by all, and marriage bed be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." God has so much more in store for the couple who will stay pure in their earthly relationships.
Cohabitation rates have skyrocketed since the 1950s, but also during this period we have seen a correlating upsurge in divorce. In chapter 8 of "The Marriage Journey", available at the book store, we have gone into detail on how cohabitation impacts your marriage flight plan.
When it comes to living together before marriage, you may think you are fine just because you are "living together" and nothing more, but I would suggest that you are not. In the midst of living together, you are also opening the door to even more temptation between you two, and hurting any testimony you may have of following Christ as you proclaim that it is a God glorifying thing to live together before marriage. You are also in danger of leading others down a similar path towards sin because of your example (Romans 14:13-22).
Living together before marriage doesn't reflect the commitment that God instituted and ordained. The good news is that it is never too late to make a change. God forgives sin. That's what He's all about. He wants to have a relationship with us, and no situation or sin is too great for Him to forgive. If we want His forgiveness, we must stop committing the sinful act (1 John 3:6 - No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him) and ask God for forgiveness. He will be faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness).
The divine institution of marriage suggests a covenant among the man, the woman, and God. The martial relationship is more important than any other relationship except one's relationship with God. It is modeled after God's relationship with His people, the Church. Jesus is the bride-groom, and the Church is His bride. The unique, committed setting of marriage is also the place God designed for the expression of sex. In 1 Corinthians 6:15-18 (Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body), Paul discusses the sinfulness of all sexual relations outside of marriage. In addition to outward sinfulness, sexual sin is a sin against one's own body. This makes sexual sin uniquely destructive, a clear reason to follow God's plan for sex.
The truth is, you can't "practice" marriage. Marriage is a permanent commitment. And you'll never know what the other person will do if you get cancer or lose your job until it happens years (perhaps even decades) down the road. That's part of the risk--part of the adventure. That's why part of the marriage vow says. "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health."
Statistics prove that cohabitation is not a healthy way for a relationship to progress; in fact, cohabitation can decrease your chances of getting married and couples who do marry after cohabitating are more likely to divorce. However, we should be concerned with more than mere statistics. We need to remember that, as God's children, we're called to different standards. We're called to be set apart--to be in but not of the world.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for your tremendous gift of the Sacrament of Marriage. Enable us to grow in our intimacy with You and with each other. Teach us the beauty of forgiveness so we may become more and more one in heart, mind and body. Strengthen our communication with each other, and help us become living signs of your Love. Help us to be examples of commitment, Love, and service to our families and children. Make us a sign of the unity which Jesus prays for at the Last Supper. We open ourselves to the guidance of your Holy Spirit, who empowers us to love in Jesus name and walk in His footsteps. Amen
Many people feel intimidated when they hear the word "budget." However a budget is simply a plan for how to spend your money.
Creating a spending plan begins with following some simple steps. The first and most important step is to transfer ownership of possessions to God. He is the owner of all things, and we are merely stewards of what He has entrusted to us.
List Income and Expenses
The next step is to clearly see the income and expenses your have. The Monthly Income and Expenses form available in the Premium Downloads is a good guide to use. If you use the available form or if you use your own, you need to list everything you are spending now. You can't create your spending plan unless you know exactly what your spending now and where is it going.
I recommend couples establish a budget based on the greatest income only, if possible. The lower income can be applied to one-time purchases, vacations, furniture, cars or to savings or debt reduction. Many times the income is interrupted by illness, pregnancy, or a change in employment location.
If total income exceeds total expenses, you only have to implement a method of budget control in your home. However, if expenses exceed income (or more stringent controls in spending are desired), additional steps are necessary. In that case, to reduce expenses, an analysis of each budget area is called for. You will need to carefully exam each category of expenses and determine where you are overspending and what can be reduced.
"Budget busters" are the large potential problem areas that can ruin a budget. Failure to control even one of these problems can result in financial disaster in the home. This area is evaluated by typical budget percentages for your family size. Naturally these percentages are not absolutes and will vary with income and geographical location.
Health Care 5%
All Other 10%
After you have completed the form you should now know what you are currently spending and where it is going. Now using another copy of the same Monthly and Expense form, adjust the amounts to show what you want to be spending on these categories to ensure a budget where your income is equal or greater than your expenses.
On my next post I will provide information of a different type of spending plan, a Envelope System of Budgeting.
Father, we come to you in the name of Jesus. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that is present before us as we discuss our financial future together. We thank You for bringing us to this place in our lives- a place of learning how to be better stewards. You have started a good work in us and will perform it until the day of Christ. We welcome You as we prepare to set up a budget that is pleasing to You and to each of us.
Thank you for giving us your heart concerning our budget. Thank you for blessing our finances, in Jesus name, Amen.
Many people feel intimidated when they hear the word "budget". However, a budget is simply a plan for how to spend money. As a certified financial budget coach/counselor, I can tell you that finances can be a serious problem to a healthy marriage. Creating a spending plan (budget) begins with following some simple steps. The first and most important step is to transfer ownership of possessions to God. He is the owner of all things, and we are merely stewards of what He has entrusted to us.
Having no budget usually results in unpredictable spending on things you don't need and possibly cannot afford. Having a budget does not restrict your spending but just the opposite; it sets you free. By putting God first in your budget with your tithe you open yourselves to receive God's blessings.
Many couples think that obtaining more money will bring them happiness and achievement. Nothing can be further from the truth! Matthew 6:24 reveals the simple truth of money: No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Many couples delay seeking outside assistance on financial issues until the frustration level reaches the critical point. Many churches have ministries to help. Regardless of your financial status, seek God's wisdom through prayer and reach out to a professional for solid advice. (Caution must be exercised in utilizing the organizations advertising Christian Debt Management, Financial Freedom, Debt Consolidation and more. Research their credentials, licensure and any complaints filed through your State Department of Business and Professional Regulation.) For those of you that understand the importance of having a budget and those of you that want to learn how to have a good working budget, beginning with my next post I am going to write series on how to create a budget and I will provide some downloadable forms to help with the process.
In our book "The Marriage Journey: A Flight Plan to Your Healthy Marriage" available in our book store, we devote chapter 6 to Managing God's Money. In this chapter we provider numerous tips to help, to include thirteen biblical principles for sensible financial management. We also have your inflight checklist and some exercises to assist you with your flight. And don't forget our premium resource, our "Navigational Cards" I highlighted on a previous post available in the Resources section.
God, help us straighten out our financial problems. We haven't been good stewards of your money. Give us a new attitude and a new commitment to managing your finances wisely and responsibly. If our problems are beyond our repair, help us find the way, Your way, to meet our obligations. We place this need before You, knowing that You will guide us to a good solution. Amen.
I would like to tell you about a resource I have available that will be a great value with your marriage journey. A premium resource, our Navigational Cards. The "Cards" serve as navigation "checkpoints" similar to most flight requirements, to report their route checkpoints with flight control centers. Each deck of cards contains words relative to marriage, one on every card. Each word is supported by a scripture for that word. That word is intended to provoke discussion, thought and strength to the both of you. The "Cards" help couples to learn where they are aligned and reveal strength in their marriage.
The "Cards" and instructions, on how to use the "Cards", can be obtained in the Resources section of The Marriage Journey website or in chapter 18 of our book, "The Marriage Journey: A Flight Plan to Your Healthy Marriage", which is available at our book store. (Coffee cup not included with the "Cards").
Kindness at Home
"If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go our in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers." (Maya Angelou)
We put on our "outside faces" when we meet people outside our home. At home we drop the polite face because home is where we can be ourselves, right? We grumble and maybe even snap. We don't bother to smile because these people love us anyway. Why can't we treat friends and family as well as people we don't even know?
I will treat those closest to me with the same courtesy I treat strangers. My loved ones and I will be much happier. This is my version of the Golden Rule.
Dear Lord, as I look around at those who share this life with me, help me to make time to spend with them - for encouragement, challenge, and perhaps just plain conversation.
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." (James Baldwin)
Admitting the problem is the first step towards change" may sound corny, but it is often true. We can't do better until we admit that we're not doing well.
We're all pretty good at trying to hide or ignore a problem for as long as possible. Maybe it's just a temporary thing, we think. Maybe it's not that bad, and no one else has noticed. Maybe it's not a problem at all. When we argue with ourselves or our spouse that a problem isn't really a problem, the chances are, it really is a problem.
We'll try to be honest with ourselves about our own problems and shortcomings We may not be able to change all of them, but we can't change any of them until we admit they exist and face them.
Philippians 4:6,7 - Don't be anxious, but by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God. Christians should do this for all our problems, but specifically for our marriage problems. If we have proper faith in God's power, then we will pray diligently about our marriage problems.
When we have marriage problems, especially serious ones, we need to believe that God will answer prayer. If both the husband and wife are faithful Christians then they should spend much time together and individually praying for God's help with their problems.
Remember, however, that God answers according to His will. If your companion is not a Christian or is not faithful, then God will not force them to do right. He may, however, give them an opportunity to learn His will for their lives.
When your family faces serious problems, how much do you pray to God together and trust His power to answer your prayers?
When you have an issue that isn't solved through communication alone, go through the Ten steps to navigate a turbulent flight. For minor issues, you can move through the steps fairly quickly. However, for emotionally-charged, difficult issues, you should move through the steps slowly and deliberately. The Ten steps to navigate a turbulent flight can be found in the book The Marriage Journey: A Flight Plan to Your Healthy Marriage available in the book store. The book dedicates an entire chapter to conflict resolution.
What has Jesus done for you? Let us know!
Dear Jesus, help us to keep our eyes on You. whether we face difficulty in life or death. Let me find security and peace in You.
l would like to welcome you to the new The Marriage Journey blog. This blog is to assist you with your relationships, marriage or coming marriage. It doesn't matter if you are newly weds or have been married for some time or planning to get married.
Sit back and enjoy your flight.
Nehemiah was assigned the task to rebuild a crumbling wall. He was desperate, saying “… the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” (Nehemiah 2:3) That’s a remarkably accurate description of the American family today. Families destroyed by the epidemic of divorce; youth are increasingly exposed to unwholesome media to fuel the fire of premarital sex, drug abuse and suicide. The wall (marriage and family unit) is crumbling! The broken, crumbled wall can be restored, using the flight plans in The Marriage Journey.
Marriages and relationships are a lot like taking a flight across the country. Before you actually board your plane, no one knows how your flight will go! Not even the pilot! We all ASSUME it will be smooth flying, and take it for granted that we will land safely. Like any flight, marriages can start out smooth and turbulence-free, but sometimes, unexpected turbulence or challenges can happen at any time. It is important for you to remember, that if any turbulence or situation is encountered we all want to arrive at our destination.
God is the author of the ideal flight plan (the Bible). It is up to the co-pilots (husband and wife) to follow it. If they deviate, they wind up in trouble with the FAA; wander into bad weather, run out of gas, etc. You have no control over your destiny; it is all in the pilot's hands. Whereas God gives us free will so we CAN and DO deviate from his flight plan; He is the big eye in the sky. He is the Air Traffic Controller who can see where the other planes are, and where the storms are, and then vector you around them.
If you want your relationship/marriage to be successful, the book The Marriage Journey, which is available in the Book Store on this site, would be a great asset. Visit the Book Store and check it out. I will be updating this blog with new and helpful information on a regular basis.
Father, You love all of your children, but so often we fight and disagree. Help us learn to interact with love and respect in all our relationships so the world will see the difference You make. Teach us to pray.
Mae and Chuck began mentoring in home Bible studies and saw how their Christ-centered relationship was "different" from others. Though far from "perfect," their marriage and commitment to Christ demonstrated a peace and happiness that intrigued other couples. This became the opportunity to mentor other couples and to teach them to work at their relationship and grow their love for one another (with Christ) each day.