Sabtu, 30 Januari 2016

Honoring Marriage with Truth, Not Myths

Honoring Marriage with Truth, Not Myths

Couple smiling
Ted Cunningham
Marriage, established and defined by God, is a covenant relationship built on truth and promise, not fairytales or myths. If the couples in our churches are going to thrive, their marriages must be built on the promises of God, not folk theology.
Here are 5 myths many couples fall for and the truth to dispel them:
      The “hook-up” myth – “Frequent sex with multiple partners is a healthy expression of one’s sexuality.” This is a cousin to the “Friends with benefits” myth. I watched a movie a few weeks back where one husband asked another this question: “Can you tell me that after 7 years your wife still turns you on?” I would answer that question with a resounding, “Yes!” For some, exclusivity seems boring, but God blesses exclusivity and the sexual intimacy that flows from it. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Singles, your prayer until marriage must be, “Lord, may I ‘not arouse or awaken love until it so desires’” (Song of Songs 2:7). Once married, Proverbs 5:15-19 calls the husband to,
      Drink water from your own cistern,
      running water from your own well.
      16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
      your streams of water in the public squares?
      17 Let them be yours alone,
      never to be shared with strangers.
      18 May your fountain be blessed,
      and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
      19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
      may her breasts satisfy you always,
      may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
      The “soul mate” myth – “There is one perfect person out there for me.” Compatibility is not something you find, discover, test for, or stumble into. Compatibility is something you create over a lifetime of marriage. The biblical term for compatibility is “oneness.” Genesis 2:24 says, “they become one flesh.” You don’t find compatibility, you become compatible.
      The “happily ever after” myth – “True love means everything should be easy and happy from here on out.” Have you ever noticed that the couples in romance movies live in lavish city apartments or beachfront houses, work few hours, and sit around holding each other for most of the day? Many of the couples on the screen are far removed from a day in the life of my marriage. Jobs, children, and community involvement require that we constantly prioritize our marriage in the midst of the hustle of life. For those who fall for this myth, they begin to question “true love” when their marriage hits a bump in the road. Instead, they need to be reminded that love requires daily decisions. A great marriage requires a wife to decide daily to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). Author and speaker Beth Moore says, “Sometimes submission is ducking so God can hit your husband.” A great marriage requires a daily decision for the husband to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
      The “marriage is hard work” myth – “Marriage requires constant, grueling work to stay in love.” According to, “Marriage doesn’t need work. Marriage needs attention… The time that you give to your marriage will pay exponential dividends in joy, companionship, sexual satisfaction, and teamwork, but it shouldn’t feel like work. More often than not, it should feel like play!” Happily married couples and divorcing couples have this in common: Both couples experienced similar levels of marital satisfaction on the day of their wedding. King Solomon described his special day this way: “The day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced” (Song of Songs 2:10). Very few newlyweds would describe the preparations for their wedding or the day of their wedding as “hard work.” They enjoyed the time spent together pulling off that big day. The same is true of the investment and attention given to the marriage.
      The “happiness vs. holiness” myth – “God gave you your spouse to make you holy, not happy.” This myth is based on a false dichotomy. I for one am not choosing between holiness and happiness. I am going for both and at the same time. Both holiness and happiness are choices that flow from your character. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.” God did not give you your spouse to beat you down and suck the life out of you so you can be more like Jesus. He gave you your spouse to go through the grind of life with.
As I meet with couples and hear their stories, I am constantly on the lookout for myths affecting marriage. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve heard something similar to, “He completes me” or “She completes me.” That comes from Jerry Maguire, not Jesus.

Honoring Marriage

Honoring Marriage


happy wife and husband embracing
"My Favorite Things" is a popular song, originally from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music.
In the movie version, Maria and the von Trapp children sing the cheerful lyrics during a scary thunderstorm — "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens" — to fill their minds with things they love.
Likewise, when you face busy times or difficult seasons with your spouse, it's important to remember your favorite things about your marriage.
The apostle Paul gave a similar directive when he wrote, "Let marriage be held in honor among all" (Hebrews 13:4). But what does it mean to honor marriage?
The word honor means to highly value something — to appreciate, cherish and recognize it as a priceless treasure. Matthew 6:21 says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." This verse suggests that honor is primarily a matter of the heart. So in marriage, it involves recognizing the beauty and worth of your relationship with your spouse and thendoing something to put that recognition and appreciation into action. It's about dedication, heart and soul, to building strong foundational qualities into your marriage relationship.

Lay the foundation

Focus on the Family has developed a list of 12 traits that are considered fundamental to every thriving marriage. Five of those traits bear a special relevance to the subject of honoring your relationship with your mate. Consider the following:
  • Cherishing your spouse. Successful marriages are made of two people who intentionally keep an account of the things they value about each other. When you cherish one another, you recognize that each spouse is created in God's image and is, therefore, of infinite worth and value. You remember what you value about your marriage, keep reminders of good memories and celebrate milestones together.
  • Nourishing your marriage is about discovering your mate's "love language" and learning to speak it. These actions will involve shoring up your spouse's strengths, supplementing his or her weaknesses and "encouraging one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13, NIV).
  • Maintaining a lifelong commitment— a full and earnest investment of your whole heart — flows out of what you treasure. You invest in whatever it is that you esteem. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word wholehearted as "marked by complete earnest commitment." Complete. Earnest. Wholehearted commitment begins when you recognize the incredible value of your relationship.
  • Spending enjoyable time together.Thriving couples are intentional about making time for each other. It's crucial that you schedule regular date nights and outings, develop meaningful traditions and family rituals, and know how to maintain a healthy balance between togetherness and independence.
  • Being community minded. It takes a village to sustain a marriage. It’s vital to regularly connect with like-minded couples who are committed to your relationship. To have a thriving marriage, you need to realize your need for other people as well as their need for you, stay engaged with nurturing communities of all kinds and make a special point of maintaining an active involvement in the local church.

Recognize your favorite things

Once you've built these foundational characteristics into the groundwork of your marriage, you can get down to the practical task of honoring your marriage on an everyday basis. Get together with your spouse and make a list of what you value about your relationship — your "favorite things." See how many you can come up with. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Having fun and laughing together
  • Loving someone with all my heart
  • Being liked and loved
  • Enjoying the combined effect of the synergy between us — we are able to do so much more together than we could do alone
  • Sharing affection for each other
  • Pursuing God together
  • Being real and authentic
  • Raising our children together
  • Being challenged to become a better person
  • Making memories together
  • Sharing inside jokes
  • Pursuing dreams
  • Having someone to celebrate with
  • Sharing the deepest levels of intimacy and connection — sex
  • Knowing someone deeply and being deeply known by another
  • Serving together
  • Being with my best friend
  • Having a helpmate to share life's responsibilities
  • Feeling safe and secure 

Honor marriage on Valentine's Day

If you need help in honoring marriage, you may be interested in an event that Focus on the Family will be sharing with local churches across the country. It's a Valentine's Day weekend experience based on Hebrews 13:4, and it's designed to help your entire church body — married couples, singles, youth and children — do something to honor marriage. This special churchwide celebration has been dubbed the Honoring Marriage Event, and Focus on the Family has all the resources you need, including a special date-night DVD featuring hilarious Christian comedians. For more information on how you can host your own Honoring Marriage Event, go to
© 2016 Focus on the Family. From Focus on the Family website at 

Curbing the Blame Game and Getting Rid of Excuses

Curbing the Blame Game and Getting Rid of Excuses


TomCZ / Veer
It was driving me crazy. As a dad, I couldn't stand hearing one more "But she . . ." from my girls. If I would say, "Don't do that to your sister," I could pretty much count on hearing, "But Daddy, she kicked me," or some other excuse. It bothered me partly because I hate blame, but more so because, as a psychologist, I know that failure to accept responsibility can lead to an unproductive life.
Our kids are maturing amid a culture in which people no longer own their choices, words or actions — a culture in which there's always someone to blame for why they do what they do. From sibling aggravations at home to classroom conflict at school, kids increasingly take less responsibility for their actions and find themselves growing into young adults who fail in the workplace because they are unable to take correction.
Are blaming and excuses becoming too common in your home? If you're like me, you want to end them as soon as possible and keep them from taking root.

Teach kids to take ownership

Here are two strategies I used to help my kids avoid blaming others.
First, I came up with a silly game that taught my kids to take ownership of their behavior. I began by explaining that winners admit when they're wrong and make changes, while losers blame others or offer excuses. Then we initiated a sign that we used whenever we heard someone making an excuse or attempting to blame — an "L" (made with the thumb and forefinger) for "loser." In the same way, whenever one of us took responsibility and owned up to something, we used the "W" (made with three fingers) for "winner."
It was amazing how effective and amusing this game became. As soon as family members, including myself, began to blame anything or anyone, hands would immediately go up, and we knew we were caught. I could tell this game really worked when my youngest daughter, Lucy, developed a sly "I just got caught" smile whenever she began to blame or make an excuse.
The second strategy I used to curb blaming was Daddy Court, where I was the judge and jury. I told my girls they were welcome to come to me with disputes, and I would gladly hear their testimony to decide who was right and who was wrong. I explained that if they had a complaint, it better be one with merit. If it proved to be mere blame shifting, the loser would pay the court costs — and they were not cheap. I found that most accusations were accompanied by some provoking behavior on the part of the accuser, so this policy really cut down on frivolous lawsuits in Daddy Court. My girls proved to have an amazing ability to work most things out on their own.
Although these were fun interventions, blaming and excuses are no laughing matter. I've seen these behaviors at the heart of most character problems. Ever since Adam tried to blame Eve, and Eve tried to blame the Serpent, blame has been a part of human nature. In fact, the book of Proverbs teaches that accepting correction is a key component that differentiates between the wise and the foolish (Proverbs 12:1; 15:5).
Children don't just grow out of the natural tendency to blame and shirk personal responsibility. In fact, those character traits tend to worsen when not addressed. Consistent discipline is the best way to refine a child's character. Parents need to clearly explain to their kids that taking responsibility for one's feelings, attitudes and behaviors is not optional. Ownership is expected.

Define choices and consequences

So, how can you encourage your kids to take ownership of their feelings, attitudes and behaviors? Make sure that responsible choices cause good things to happen for your children, whereas blaming or making excuses brings them some kind of pain or loss. If the pain of blame is consistently greater than the weight of responsibility, you will see increased ownership from your children.
The first step is getting rid of parental anger and the tendency to overreact. A lot of blaming and making excuses is inspired by children trying to ward off what feels like an attack or an onslaught of shame from the parent. When you keep your cool while correcting your kids, it helps them keep their focus on their own behavior, rather than on your reaction.
Explain to your kids that they control their quality of life. It's in their hands, not yours. Give younger children the freedom to make choices, clearly stating what the reward or the consequence of their choice will be. Link the consequences to something they really care about (play, privileges, toys, bedtime).
Your explanation can be as simple as, "If you do this or that, then you will not get to play with your games." If your children use their freedom to make wrong choices, do not nag or give excessive warnings. Instead, take an emotionally neutral stance and follow through on the consequences.
Next, explain to your children why they are experiencing consequences. This will make it clear to them that they are responsible for the consequences, not you. Your dialogue should make ownership clear. Consider this example conversation:
"Can you tell me why you are in timeout?"
"I'm in timeout because you told me to stop yelling at Joey but I didn't stop."
"What do you think about the choice you made?"
"It's not a nice thing to do."
"What are you going to do next time?
"I'm going to be nice and not yell."
"OK, that sounds good. And what do you want to say to me?"
"I'm sorry."
"I forgive you."
If your child protests or is insincere, set a timer and tell him you will try to talk to him again when it goes off.This technique further emphasizes that your child is in control of his choices. It gives him time to calm down and consider his behavior.

Train teens to accept responsibility

Teens, too, can be encouraged to take ownership for their decisions. Tell your teen that you want her to have appropriate privileges, including driving, using technology, being with friends and enjoying activities. The more responsibility she shows, the more freedom she earns; the more irresponsibility she shows, the less freedom she will enjoy. Connect the control she has over her choices with her quality of life. Then let her make the choices and either enjoy the rewards or pay the consequences.
Make sure your expectations also address your teen's attitude. Explain, "It is not OK to obey me while you roll your eyes and mutter something disrespectful. That will also result in a negative consequence." Coach your teen toward accepting responsibility by expecting her to clearly vocalize what she did, how it was hurtful and that she is sorry.
The apostle Paul writes that we are to take off the "old self" and "put on the new self" (Ephesians 4:22-24). Parenting involves helping our kids identify their old behavior as unacceptable and teaching them new ways to take responsibility for their choices.
The good news is this: There is hope for raising kids who take responsibility in a culture of blaming and excuses. The Bible promises that even though this kind of discipline can be painful for the moment, in the end it produces "a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11).
Let's not settle for the classic response "It's not my fault" in our homes. Instead, let's teach our kids to own their choices and pave the way for them to thrive. Instead, let's teach our kids to own their choices and pave the way for them to thrive.
Dr. Henry Cloud is a psychologist, a radio co-host and the co-author of It's Not My Fault: The no-excuse plan for overcoming life's obstacles.

If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Thriving Familya marriage and parenting magazine published by Focus on the Family. Get Thriving Family delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

Everyone Who Seeks Finds

Everyone Who Seeks Finds
(En Español)
The Eternal Imprint
It is to our shame that in our era church services do not focus more on actually seeking God. Yes, we do honor God and thank Him for what He has done. We hear a sermon and perhaps enjoy a time of fellowship with others. Yet only rarely do we depart a congregational meeting with the fire of eternity reflecting off our faces. Instead we fill up with information about God without actually drawing near to Him. Most of us are still largely unaware of God's presence.
While we rightly need church programs, fellowship, and times for ministry training, we must not assume that religious indoctrination is the same thing as actually seeking God. And while I am often blessed listening to contemporary Christian music, even godly entertainment is no substitute for my own worship encounter with God.
Therefore let us ask ourselves: Is there a place and a time set apart in our spiritual lives where we can give ourselves to seeking God? What if the Spirit of God actually desired to manifest Himself during our worship service? Would the Lord have to wait until we finished our scheduled program? I respect and recognize the need for order; we need the scheduled times for announcements and the defined purposes that currently occupy Sunday mornings, but have we made room for God Himself?
"He Knew Not That His Face Shone"
When we first determine to draw near to God, it may seem we have little to show for our efforts. Yet be assured: even the thought of seeking God is a step toward our transformation. Still, we often do not notice the first signs of our spiritual renewal, for as we grow increasingly more aware of God, we simultaneously grow increasingly less aware of ourselves. Though we may not see that we are changing, others certainly will.

Consider the experience of Moses. The Lord's servant had ascended Mount Sinai and there stood before the living God. The eyes of Moses were actually filled with God's sun-like glory; his ears actually heard the audible sound of the Lord's voice. Yet when Moses returned to the people, the Bible says he "did not know that the skin of his face shone" (Exod. 34:29). When the Israelites saw the fire of God's glory on the face of Moses, "they were afraid to come near him" (v. 30). They saw he had been with God.
The church needs more people who have, like Moses, climbed closer to the Almighty, people who have stood in the sacred fire of God's presence. Instead we exhaust ourselves arguing over peripheral doctrines or styles of music in our song services.
Perhaps there are benefits to constantly debating the nuances of our doctrines, but are we not more truly thirsting for the reality of God?
Our goal is to, day by day, draw nearer to God. He has commanded that we come boldly to His throne of grace. To receive the help we need, we must arrive at His throne. Remember also that our confidence comes from Christ Himself. He promised,
"Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matt. 7:8).
If we do not cease seeking and knocking, we will discover unfolding degrees of intimacy with God. Even now, He's drawing near. The Lord promises, "Everyone who … seeks finds" (Matt. 7:8).
Master, to possess more of You is the heart-focus of my existence. Draw near, blessed Redeemer, and fulfill Your desire for me by fulfilling my desire for You.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, I Will Be Found by You, available at
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Rabu, 20 Januari 2016

6 factors that determine how long you'll live

6 factors that determine
how long you'll live
Dr. Jim Denison
January 20, 2016
How long will you live? A new medical report has the answer. Researchers examined 231,048 adults age 45 and up, following them for six years. They discovered six factors that determine how long people live: smoking, alcohol use, dietary behavior, physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, and sleep. The lower your score for at-risk behavior, the longer you'll live.

As the saying goes, this is not rocket science. Here's a more surprising fact: Character is related to longevity as well.

Psychologists note that moral character reduces personal anxiety and stress. When we live in alignment with our values, we are happier people. And stress is one of the most significant contributors to disease, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and early death. To live longer, live better. Choose character.

And to live a life that matters long after you're gone, choose character as well.

In Genesis 13, Abraham and his nephew Lot chose the land on which their tribes would dwell. Lot "settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom" (v. 12). However, the writer notes that "the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord" (v. 13).

When God warned Abraham that he would judge the city, the patriarch interceded for the people (Genesis 18:22–33). By this time, Lot had moved into Sodom itself (Genesis 14:12).

Then, when the Lord sent angels to judge the sinful city, Lot hesitated to leave (Genesis 19:15). The angels had to seize him, his wife, and his two daughters, forcing them to flee the judgment to come (v. 16). His sons-in-law rejected the angelic warning and died in the judgment that fell. Lot's wife looked back at the city they tried not to leave and died as well (v. 26). Lot's daughters then seduced him and bore children by their father (vs. 30–38).

Abraham prayed for Sodom, but Lot chose to live there. Today, more than half the world's population venerates Abraham as a patriarch of their faith. No one venerates Lot. I have known many men named Abraham. I've never met a person named Lot.

Your character is essential to your life and your legacy. If you would live a life that God can bless and use, choose integrity. But there's a catch: We cannot become the people God wants us to be without the help God provides.

The Spirit wants to conform you to the character of Jesus (Romans 8:29). He longs to manifest his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in your life (Galatians 5:22–23). But he cannot give what you won't receive.

So ask God to make you a person of greater integrity today than you were yesterday. Submit your thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions to his Spirit. Walk with Jesus and measure success by the degree to which you demonstrate his character. And God will use your integrity to draw others to the Christ they see in you. (For more on this vital subject, please read my latest website essay, "Integrity: The Key to Leadership.")

Warren Wiersbe was right: "The highest reward for a faithful life is not what you get for it but what you become by it." David prayed, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). I've decided to begin every day by making his prayer mine.

Will you join me, right now?

Selasa, 12 Januari 2016

"I Do Not Remember"

"I Do Not Remember"
(En Español)
How little we understand of eternal redemption! How many times will God forgive you? If you have truly set your heart to follow Him, He will cancel your sins as often as you ask. Will He forgive you of the worst sin you can think of? Yes! You may have to live with the consequences of your misdeed, but God can use your repentance and newly found humility to inspire others. As for the sin itself, if you deeply and sincerely repent of it, not only will God forgive you, He will blot it out of His memory.

Let me share an experience. A certain man of God had been gifted with revelatory insight into people's lives. During an evening service he ministered to a Presbyterian pastor and his wife. By the gift of the Spirit, he revealed the couple's past, uncovered their present situation, and then disclosed to them what was to come. This work of God greatly impressed the couple, and as the prophecies were fulfilled, one month later the Presbyterian minister brought two other pastors, each with their wives, to another service for personal ministry.

The word of knowledge was exceptionally sure that night, and the second minister and his wife marveled at the accuracy and truth in the prophetic word. The third couple stepped forward for ministry, and again the word of knowledge was present. The prophet spoke to the husband, revealing his past, present, and insight into his future. Then the man of God turned to this third minister's wife. As he began to speak of her past, suddenly he paused. Then he said, "There was a very serious sin in your past." The woman, with her worst fear upon her, turned pale and closed her eyes. The congregation hushed and moved to the edge of their seats.

The prophet continued, "And I asked the Lord, 'What was this sin that she committed?' And the Lord answered, 'I do not remember!'"

The Lord had been faithful to His covenant promise: "I will not remember your sins" (Isa. 43:25). Although many times this minister's wife had asked for cleansing, still she could not believe the depth of God's forgiveness. Christ had placed her sin in the sea of His forgetfulness. He removed it "as far as the east is from the west" (Ps. 103:12). From everywhere but the prison of her own mind, her sin had been paid for and removed. And now, in His great mercy, He removed it from there as well!

Oh, what burdens we carry, what guilt and limitations surround us because we do not accept God's total and perfect forgiveness. In Isaiah we read, "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins" (Isa. 43:25).

How great is the God we serve. How wonderful is His love toward us. He is our Redeemer, our Savior! If you are willing to forgive others and will but ask Him to forgive you, He will pardon your debts as often as you contritely turn to Him. He promises He will remember your sins no more.
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Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, Holiness Truth and the Presence of God, available at
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