Tag Archives: Spouse

Where Do You Find Happiness?

Where Do You Find Happiness?

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Psalm 9:2

One of my favorite childhood songs from children’s church is called, “Happiness is the Lord.”  Lindsay Terry tells the following story as to how this wonderful song came about.

“Ira F. Stanphill was born in Belview, New Mexico, in 1914. He has written more than 550 songs, the most popular of which are “Mansion over the Hilltop,” “Room at the Cross,” and, of course, “Happiness Is the Lord.”

On any number of occasions the Lord has given a song to a songwriter when he or she least expected it. Such was the case of Ira Stanphill one afternoon in 1974 after he left the church office where he was pastor in Fort Worth, Texas.

The car radio was on, and as he rode along he listened to some commercial programs. Some were sponsored by establishments that advertised their “happy hour” and their alcoholic beverages. He also heard cigarettes being advertised in terms of how they bring happiness.

The word happiness was used several times in the ads. Ira related to me that he thought at the time that “happiness does not come with these things, but with knowing Christ.” He continued, “As this thought really took over my mind I began to sing. I sang a new song, composing words and melody as I drove along. I sang it almost as it is published today.””

The words are accompanied by a cheerful tune.  In it this song says,

Verse 1
Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord

Verse 2
Happiness is a new creation
Jesus and me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation
Happiness is the Lord

(Bridge)
Real joy is mine
No matter if teardrops start
I’ve found the secret
It’s Jesus in my heart

Verse 3
Happiness is to be forgiven
Living a life that’s worth the livin’
Taking a trip that leads to heaven
Happiness is the Lord

(Ending)
Happiness is the Lord
Happiness is the Lord

No matter what circumstances you find yourself in today, my friend, the Lord is the Who, What, and the Where that you can find real happiness.  In poor health?  Have an overwhelming situation? Are you having a tough time coping with a loss, or a major disappointment?  In the midst of your situation, it is possible to find, peace, contentment, happiness, and gladness.  Like the Psalmist declares in Psalm 126:3, when we count our blessings we can say, “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

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I am Weak, But God is Strong

I Am Weak, But God is Strong

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  2 Corinthians 12:10

Blood was everywhere. More than I had ever seen. Ever. We changed the bed sheets dozens of times in just a few hours in the Emergency Room.  After calling for me to help her while at the house, we immediately drove to the hospital on a Saturday.  Natalie received good care and the prayers of many people were answered and the bleeding stopped sometime one Monday after several examinations, and medical procedures. Thankfully, Natalie is now back home, though she is not yet “back to normal.”  Even with the blood counts looking good, her stamina, energy, and endurance are nil at this point.  Walking to the kitchen in our beautiful but modest home takes a lot of effort. A lot.  She has left the house only 2 times in the last 3 weeks, and that was with my assistance (to walk from and to car) to see the doctor.  Tears? Yes. Crying? Yes. Pain? Yes. Sorrow? Disappointment? Yes. Unimaginable? Yes. Life-changing? Yes. Praying? Yes.

I was certainly blessed to not leave her bedside for about 5 days.  It is an honor to care for your spouse, even when they cannot care for themselves.  Our church family has been so kind with food, care, and understanding when I could not be in other places.  Thank you! We have a caring church.

After several years of pain, headaches, tiredness and more, and after many different types of doctors and medicine, we discovered earlier this year that she has a plethora of medical issues that have accumulated over time.  We are treating, not only the symptoms, but also the source of the constant pain and tiredness.  And then suddenly the ER episode mentioned above.

I am sharing all this (not for pity or an emotional response but) for a present-day description of the verse Paul wrote: “When I am weak, then am I strong.”  It is in our weakness that we see the incredible power and might of God.  It is in those moments of physical and emotional desperation that we see God in more close and intimate ways.  It is when we cannot move, walk, talk, or when we are in constant pain that we can ether get bitter at God, or get better associated with God.  “Don’t take your abilities for granted,” Natalie put on Facebook one day – “they could be gone in a moment.”

If us humans never had problems, why would we need the Lord?  If you and I  could handle life on our own, what good is it that we say we have faith? In trials and difficulties, we can be like Job.  He kept looking to the promises of God.  He knew “My redeemer liveth.” We could be like Paul, who continued to serve the Lord in spite of his physical limitations.   Paul was not happy for the pain and suffering, but for the lessons learned and the close proximity of the Lord in those moments of physical need.

With every ability or inability – we can find ways to serve God. For our friends experiencing inability to move, stand, walk, put your own cloths on, wash yourself, or even feed yourself – be encouraged, you can still pray.  You can still read the Bible, have it read to you, or recite scriptures you have memorized.  God still has a plan for your life and a perfect will for the rest of your family.

When you are at your weakest – you can see God at His strongest! In your weakness you can become stronger – in the Lord.  I am not strong in myself anymore. I am strong in God. He is my strength.

Are you in a similar situation? Hang in there.  Keep looking to Jesus.  Find comfort in the Word.  In the more intense moments at the ER and later the hospital room, the Holy Spirit brought to Natalie’s mind Scriptures.  In particular, she was quoting Psalm 18.  Look it up sometime.  There are many other things we learned from the Lord at the hospital and at home and are continuing to learn day by day.  Natalie is still not able to get out of the house, attend church, or do even 2/10th of all the things was doing before.  What if her energy remains low?  What if her weakness remains amplified like this?  We accept God’s will if this is the “new normal.”   God will give us the grace to accept this condition and even thrive in the midst of this.  The verse right before “When I am weak” is 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Let the “power of Christ” rest upon you – in your weakness.  We appreciate your prayers.

 

 

 

 

Be Kind, Kind Of…

Be Kind

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

“A church usher was instructing a young successor in the details of his office. “And remember, my boy,” he concluded, “that we have nothing but good kind Christians in this church until you try to seat someone else in their chair.” (6000)

I have always enjoyed that little story.  It is true that sometimes when we change the routine and seemingly insignificant expectations of some people they can become very angry!  Some of us are “kind” just part of the time.  We could be “kind of kind” but that is not really being kind!

The Bible commands and admonishes us to “be kind one to another.” This is written to the church members of a church in a city called Ephesus.  These were people who lived busy lives in an ancient world trading capitol.  There were false gods in the city and the famous Temple of Diana where all sorts of evil originated and was conveyed into their society.  It was to these Christian people that God said – “Be ye kind.

Ye Kind” is taken from the Greek word: “chrestos” which means to be “employed.”  You may never have guessed that definition and origin of the word “kind!”  It really helps us understand the significance as to how to go about being kind.

Like you are employed at your job or occupation, the Lord wants us to be employed in the area of kindness.  Be kind to the family members in your home.  Be kind to the church members at your local church.  Be kind to other Christians in the body of Christ.  Be kind o your neighbor who does not yet know Jesus.  Be kind.

In other words: Leave the other person better off than when you first interacted with them…

Here are 3 considerations.

  1. I need to think right about people. If I am thinking about how I can take advantage of other people, I cannot be kind to them.  That is what Ephesians 5:31 is speaking about: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
  2. I need to have compassion for other people. Tenderhearted in verse 32 is speaking of compassion.  We live in a day when many people have more compassion on a baby elephant than they do for a homeless man.  Many are more compassionate about baby dolphins than they are about human babies that are being murdered in abortion.  Have some godly concern for others. Know their condition.  Try to help meet a need.
  3. I must have forgiveness in my heart for others. For the sake of Jesus – God forgave your sin.  For the sake of Jesus – you can forgive the sin and wrong that others have projected against you.  Forgiving is not the same as forgetting, we will never forget.  But we can be like God Who in Hebrews 13:13, “remembers no more” our sin and wrong.  While God never forgets, He chooses not to think about our sin.  When we forgive others, we are being like God! And God wants us to be more like Him!

One final thought.  I am not a “kind person” if I am thinking of how to hurt or take advantage of others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not actively showing compassion to others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not demonstrating true forgiveness to other people.

Ask God to help you – you can be a kind person today!  Be employed at being kind to others.  It is a “job” that God has called each of us to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Friends are people we know and trust to be friendly.  Kindness is not only demonstrated in kind actions, but also in words, and the attitudes conveyed to our friends.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Friends are people we know and trust to be honest; even to the point of challenging and correcting us in a gentle and loving manner whenever that is needed.

Trust is the most basic requirement for a sincere, genuine, and healthy relationship with someone.  A husband who cannot trust his wife or a wife who does not trust her husband will be experiencing troubles in marriage that stem from trust issues.

Trust is something that is earned over time; but can be erased in a moment.  Trust is something we see in each healthy relationship of life.  If there is no trust, then the relationship is based on pretense, fakery, or fabricated reputation.

If a person does not trust the boss, the relationship is not what it could be.  If the boss does not trust the employee, the relationship is not what it should be.  If a parent does not trust he teacher, the student will pick up on that and the classroom relationship will not be what it should be.

The same is true in church.  The pastor trusts the deacons and the deacons trust the pastor.  Their relationship with each other and the relationship of the leadership with the church and church with the leadership also must be premised – on trust.

Sometimes people do not trust others simply because of past experiences.  Even if nothing wrong or sinful has happened in the new relationship. For example, I had a man tell me one time that “He did not trust any preacher.”  His past experiences, that were bad experiences, led him to the conclusion that all preachers were evil.  How could a person with that conclusion hope to learn, grow, attend church services, and develop healthy relationships?

I was not offended by this man’s statement – but as a preacher, I knew I would not have the chance to earn the trust of that man.  The relationship would be tainted and confused from the very start.

That is how some people see other genders.  Have you heard someone say something like “All men are evil pigs?” or “I can’t stand women?”  One or several bad experiences have been allowed to control how the person perceives about half the population!  That way of thinking makes no common or Biblical sense.

If you are hoping to marry someone and have had previous bad dating, or even marriage experience, be sure that those things do not influence your new relationship.  Let trust develop.  Grow in relationship with your new or soon to be spouse.

Starting a new job or another school year?  The boss and the teacher, the employee and the student should be respected and until trust is lost – it is best to develop a healthy relationship built on trust.   Thank God – trust may never be lost! You may have a healthy relationship the rest of your life.

Not trusting others is a personal defensive mechanism focused on preserving our pride and protecting our ego from future possible harm.  It is a natural human reaction.  However, not trusting is based on fear.  Fear is not something that we are to live by.  The Bible says to “Live by faith!”  Replace the fear and the accompanying trust issues with Faith in God!

2 Timothy 1:7 teaches, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

  • Fear causes us to doubt the power of God.
  • Fear causes us to forget the love of God.
  • Fear causes us to not think clearly.

We fear when we are not in control.  We fear when we lose our influence.  We fear when we are not sure what is going on.  HAVE FAITH IN GOD!

  • God will take care of the marriage when we trust and obey Him.
  • God will take care of the workplace and classroom.
  • God will take care of His church. We belong to Him!

God will take care of you and your relationships can become healthy when your faith in God is greater than your faith in fear and distrust.  Ask the Lord to help each relationship to be built on trust.  Without trust – you don’t really have a relationship anyway!

 

 

 

 

8 Ways to Love Your Spouse

8 Ways to Love Your Spouse

I like the Reese hearts and the Russel Stover Chocolates.  My wife likes the chocolates and the red roses too.  Each Valentines day we are all reminded about the special relationships many of us are called by God to enjoy – marriage.  A happy and healthy marriage is possible!

If you and your spouse are having issues, do not wait to get help.  Please call me or another Christian counselor today.  Statistically I read some time ago that couples about to divorce wait 6 years too late to get counseling help.  Good news – your marriage perspective can change overnight with a little positive encouragement from a Christian counselor.

For today’s devotional, here are 8 Bible passages that when applied, can demonstrate love towards your spouse.

  1. Stay physically and emotionally faithful to your spouse alone.  This was declared on your wedding day.  Proverbs 5:15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
  2. Celebrate spiritual, financial, educational, and relational victories. Throw a party for two, go out for coffee, or make a special meal. Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
  3. Be Happy. Happiness is not conditional on circumstances but on the attitude. Happiness is a choice.  Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
  4. Blend everything you do and have together. Feelings, faith, friends, finances, etc. All these things should be combined. Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
  5. Choose to make the spiritually right decision. One of you is probably more spiritual than the other.  While the man should lovingly serve with Biblical leadership in the home, it is not always the case. Choose to have a positive, edifying spirit that will build up the other in the things of God. 1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
  6. Modify expectations while not letting any disappointments change you. He made a mess.  She was not ready for intimacy.  Don’t let circumstances become sources of bitterness.  Colossians 3:18-19 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
  7. Understand each other. Know how the other thinks. Know the likes and dislikes.  This is something of a challenge!  1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
  8. Value and treasure the person God gave to you. God gave you a special gift to have as a companion in life.  While some people are called to “singleness” the Lord gave you a “help meet.”  Treasure this gift with all of your heart.  Proverb 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Think To Pray?

Did You Think To Pray?

Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Psalm 88:9

We pray when we are in trouble.  It is easy to turn our thoughts to Heaven when we have a big problem or a predicament that we are in.  For most people, the first time they fervently pray is when hey are in trouble.  Affliction drove the psalmist to pray every single day.  He actively sought the Lord lifting up “holy hands” to God, begging for His deliverance, guidance, and help.

What if we learned to pray before the big problem comes?  How would an active prayer life before the trouble arises help us navigate the storms of life?  It think it would make a big difference.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of preachers” said “All the Christian virtues are locked up in the word prayer.”

The daily discipline of open communication with God, asking and receiving, better known as prayer, can change your life. There are several ways prayer affects not only the situation, but the one doing the praying.

Prayer calms the soul.  Prayer creates a connection with God. Prayer confirms our relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus.  Make it a daily practice to spend time with God in prayer.

I leave you with the words of Mary Kidder in her hymn “Did You Think to Pray?”

  1. Ere you left your room this morning,
    Did you think to pray?
    In the name of Christ our Savior,
    Did you sue for loving favor,
    As a shield today?

Refrain:
Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day;
So when life seems dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

  1. When you met with great temptation,
    Did you think to pray?
    By His dying love and merit,
    Did you claim the Holy Spirit
    As your guide and stay? [Refrain]
  2. When your heart was filled with anger,
    Did you think to pray?
    Did you plead for grace, my brother,
    That you might forgive another
    Who had crossed your way? [Refrain]
  3. When sore trials came upon you,
    Did you think to pray?
    When your soul was bowed in sorrow,
    Balm of Gilead did you borrow
    At the gates of day?

 

 

Elevate Your Head

Elevate Your Head

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  Colossians 1:18

This sounds like medical advice, but it is also a practical reality of our humanity.  As humans we tend to elevate your physical heads.  Think of this for a moment.  Our head (comprised of everything above our neck) is held high when we walk.  We hold our head up above our body when we are seated.  Even lying down in bed, we use a pillow to elevate our head above the rest of our body.  Reasons for the head being above the body are practical and range from health, function, blood flow, balance, and protection of the head and brain.

With even greater care than our body places on holding up our physical head, we are to lift up the head of the Church.  Jesus is the head of believers and must be elevated above individual Christians.  Our thoughts, opinions, and goals must be subservient to the Lord.  In a way, our thoughts, opinions and goals must be formed by Jesus rather than ourselves.

Our human nature screams and rebels at placing someone else above us in authority and power.  Submitting to God and yielding to His Word and Holy Spirit is how we elevate Jesus above ourselves.  We can take it personally and choose to rebel and side with our sin nature, or we can willingly submit with humility to the Lord.

When you find yourself in a conflict with a spouse, it could be that you are elevating yourself above what the Lord would have you do or say.  When you are disappointed or even angry with someone or something at church, it could be that you are placing your will above the will of God.  When the workplace seems troublesome, it could be that your expectations are not the expectations that the Lord has for your work.

Who is the head of your life?  If you are making “all the calls” for your life, then you are missing the point of Colossians 1:18.  Let Jesus have the Preeminence in your life.  Because Jesus rose from the dead; He is worthy of being the head of our lives.

Jesus does not want to be an important part of your life.  Jesus wants to be the preeminent part of your life- your head.  Consult God’s Word.  Pray.  Seek counsel of your pastor.  Place God above all your choices and lifestyle decisions.   Follow the leader.  When we lift up Jesus instead of ourselves, our lives then honor the Lord and He has room to work incredible miracles in our lives.