When troubles and trials come our way (and they will) how do I properly respond? What is my reaction supposed to be? Here a 5 key points I use:
1) Remember that the world looks at our reaction. It is our response during the trials of life that should separate us from those who do not know Christ. During the good times everyone, saved or unsaved, can look happy. How do we respond when things get bad?
2) Keeping look ahead! We often want to focus on the dire circumstances around us. Sometimes we even get lost in the problems of our past. The Scriptures tells us “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before I press toward the mark”. Our focus should always be on those things which are above and before us not the sinking sand around us.
3) I am a child of the King – I should act like it! We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We have a home prepared for us in Heaven. We have an eternity to dwell in the presence of the Almighty God. We have no cause for living a defeated life.
4) I must remember that God is always good, Always! God never lies. His promises are true. He promised us “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”. God did not forget us or lose track of us. He knows where we are and what we need this very hour.
5) I still have a God given job to do. I cannot shirk my responsibilities. I am still a Father/Mother or Husband/Wife or Church Member or Sunday School teacher or choir member, etc. I am still commissioned to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’. My God given job has not changed. I must remain busy in His work.
The following list of ‘Five Essentials for a Lasting Relationship’ are taken from a booklet of that name that I give to every couple that I counsel or am about to marry. It is written by Pastor Ron Berrus of the Bible Baptist Church of Shiremanstown, PA who is a friend of mine.
Essential #1 Respect – demonstrated to your spouse through Listening. I Peter 2:17
Essential #2 Honesty – demonstrated to your spouse through Speaking. Ephesians 4:15
Essential #3 Commitment – demonstrated to your spouse through Serving. Micah 6:8
Essential #4 Acceptance – demonstrated to your spouse through Embracing. Romans 15:7
Essential #5 Forgiveness – demonstrated to your spouse through Praying. Ephesians 4:32
To read a full pdf copy of Pastor Berrus’ book click here: http://www.ronberrus.abwe.org/site_content/attachments/0000/1729/A_Booklet_Five_Essentials_Web_Ready_04_20_09.pdf
Having now completed ten years of the pastorate I have counseled countless couples going through various degrees of marriage difficulties. Having studied, read and prepared over these years has lead me to compile the following list of questions which I always use. This is a fluid list – I may add to it at any time. Perhaps these questions will bring value to any relationship well before one needs to meet with a counselor.
1) If my marriage was good tomorrow, how would I know?
2) What effort am I putting into my marriage to make it stronger?
3) In what ways do I complement my spouse?
4) Is your spouse aware of the needs you have and how to meet them?
5) Everyone knows what they would like to change in their spouse – but what would your spouse like for you to change?
6)What is the most recent positive thing you have done for your spouse?
7) What is the dream you had for your marriage and how does it relate to today? Was is realistic to begin with?
8) Do you understand God’s view of marriage? Genesis 2:18-25, Ephesians 5:23-33, Ephesians 5:22-33
A good review of these questions from time to time will help keep your marriage on track. Taking time to evaluate your marriage and your personal dedication to your spouse will go a long way towards spiritual success in your marriage.
Beginning with this post I will focus on issues that families and couples deal with. I will focus on some of the counseling advice and, more importantly, some of the Biblical advice we have as we face these issues.
As an introduction, here are 3 important facts to consider:
1) Satan is real and Satan wants to destroy your family. The Bible tells us that Satan is “a roaring lion seeking about whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). While there are plenty of issues that we deal with in the flesh that may hinder our marriage and our relationship with our children, we dare not forget that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). There is a spiritual and invisible ware going on for your home and for your marriage.
2) God wants your marriage and your home to be strong and healthy and He gives us the tools to make it work. As much as Satan wants to destroy your marriage -God wants your marriage to succeed. God uses marriage as a picture of His relationship to Israel in the Old Testament and His relationship to the church in the New Testament. God tells us that He is our Father and that we are His children. God uses the home as a clear picture of His relationship with us. It is no wonder that Satan wants to destroy the home and God wants to strengthen it. God gives us tools through His Holy Word and through His Holy Spirit (more on this in a later post).
3) Marriage is not a competition and training our children is not optional. We are not in a competition with our spouse. Too many couples are trying to ‘one-up’ each other. They need to get the last word in. They need the situations where they can say ‘I told you so’. The Bible tells us that we are one. The Word of God also commands us to ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ (Proverbs 22:6). Parents today are content to relinquish child rearing to church, school and community.
Our goal in the following posts is to follow God’s plan to having a strong home and a healthy marriage.
The struggle for churches in the beginning of the twenty-first century is how to reach the younger generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we move into a Post-modern world we are faced with new challenges. How do we reach our culture without being influenced by our culture?
The Millennials are defined as those born between 1981 and 1997. They are the younger generation and they are the largest generation since the Baby Boomers. They think different than Generation X, Baby Boomers or Builders. They have a post-modern philosophy (more about that in the next post). After much research and many surveys it appears that Millennials value: Sense of Community, Value of Opinion, Need to Participate and Finding something Genuine. In the case of religion we find that they like for church to feel like church. They are not turned off by stained glass, older hymns or sacred traditions.
So how can we relate to these Millennials today?
1) They value community and participation over a sense of individualism. We need to make them part of the group. We need to get them involved in our small groups, Bible studies or classes where they form relationships. We need to have specific outings or activities just for them. We need to give them a cause. They want to be part of a group with a name and job to do.
2) They want their opinion to be heard and to matter. We need to get Millennials onto committees or boards where they can influence the church with the knowledge they possess. Audio and Visual committees, Outreach committees, Marketing programs, Building committees, etc. We understand the value of wisdom on Deacon boards – but there are many other ways for MIllennials to participate.
3) They are attracted to something genuine and quickly see through something fabricated. We must stick to the Gospel and the importance of a changed life. We must teach and value the attributes of God. We must value the Word of God. If the Millennials are going to be part of a church, that church MUST stand for something or else they will find something else worth putting their time and support behind.
* I am convinced that the ‘feel good’ methods of church growth over the last thirty years will have no impact upon Millennials, in fact, it may just turn them off.
For over 2000 years Christians have been expecting Jesus Christ to come back in the clouds and call His Church home to Heaven. We call this sudden removal from planet earth – the Rapture. It is not a Bible word but rather a word we have used to describe this sudden and immediate removal of Believers from earth and to Heaven.
There is, unfortunately, a large movement afoot today in which the Rapture is being redefined or outright denied. We will look at this problem in our next post.
I believe He is coming again and coming very, very soon because:
1. He told us He was coming again. We are to be expecting Him and looking for Him. In fact, we were often warned in scripture that many would be caught unawares at His sudden return. We are to be expecting Him.
2. There is nothing in prophecy holding the Rapture back. There has never been a time in our history in which things seem more “ready” than ever for His return. It may very well get worse yet before Jesus comes back, but we are already at a point where the stage is set for the end of the church age and the ushering in of the Anti-Christ.
3. There is massive revival and evangelism taking place in so many closed door countries. Today we find great multitudes of people accepting Christ as Savior in countries such as China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and others. Some of the most difficult places in which to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ are now on fire with the Gospel.
4. Globally we see cultures embracing immorality and calling it good. We also see global cultures worshiping the creature over the Creator. These Biblical prophecies have reached epidemics in our society and around the globe.
5. We see a global economic weakness that is susceptible to collapse and fraud like never before. This is paving the way for the globalization of currency in the end times (ie. the Mark of the Beast).
** Jesus is coming again and He is coming very soon!
I believe our culture is beginning to feel the effects of a society that is having their children later in life. A hundred years ago (and practically all of recorded history before that) people married young and had children young. It was unusual for a woman to begin having children after the age of 30. Today, many couples are deciding to finish their college degrees, perhaps complete their post-graduate work, begin their career and possibly pay off their college debt before considering beginning a family.
The unintended consequence of this is that young people are having much less time to spend with their Grandparents. If we take a couple that wait to have their first child at 35 years of age, and if their children wait to have their first child at 35 years of age – that would make the grandparents 70 when their first grandchild is born.
A couple very important points:
1. Not everyone consciously waits. Some may not find their spouse until later; some may not be able to have children until later in life. However, this has always been the case.
2. I have never personally met anyone that did not have fond memories of time spent with their Grandparents. Even if their relationship with their parents was strained, they undoubtedly had a close relationship with at least one of their grandparents. Those years spent learning from Grandma and Grandpa are precious.
3. The Bible speaks often of teaching one’s “children and children’s children”. Grandparents have more experience their parents. This wealth of information is getting lost in our current cultural trends.
4. My wife and I own a farmhouse that is about a hundred and twenty years old. It has an addition on the back that was a separate residence at various times in the homes history. It was built on the back of this house in order to provide a “home” to the original owners child, spouse, and grandchildren. This was often the case. Not only did grandchildren know their grandparents for a longer length of time but they also usually lived in close proximity.
5. Grandparents understand better that their time on earth is limited and their desire is usually greater to instill something to their future relations. Grandparents have more time to spend with their grandchildren due to retirement years. Grandparents can often fill in the gaps that parents have due to their busy schedules.
Time lost with Grandparents cannot be replaced with anything else. This has to be having a negative effect on our young people today.
A failure to communicate is at the core of every relational problem. Marriage problems, family difficulties, work stress and more is generally centered around or the outcome of a communication problem. We must begin fixing our relationship problems by fixing our communication woes. Here’s some initial steps:
1. Don’t assume. Many, many, many of the relationship problems that I have counseled with are the result of misunderstanding. One individual assumes what the other one really meant by something. One made a comment and the other misunderstood what they meant or what their real intention was. We focus on supposed intentions. We jump to conclusions. We are judgmental even if we don’t think we are.
2. Lead the conversation. Leading the conversation does not mean dominating the conversation. It does not mean doing all the talking. Leading the conversation is done by asking the key questions or redirecting the conversation back to the topic you wish to cover. This can be done subtly and with few words. It is often best done with a question.
3. Listen, Listen, Listen. A good communicator listens to what others are saying. So often I have been in a conversation where you can tell that the person I have been attempting to talk to is distracted and focused on getting out their next sentence whenever I am talking. Listening involves turning off cell phones, putting away laptops, muting televisions and powering off radios. Focus on what others are actually saying. Work at listening.
4. Compliment. Give compliments to those you are talking with. Compliment their help, their time they have given, their understanding and their interests.
5. Keep emotions in check. Don’t argue. Don’t get mad. Don’t lash out. Don’t call names. Bite your tongue. Don’t let your emotions control your comments and your responses. Stop and think before your speak. Don’t just blurt out what is on your mind. Slow down.