Sabtu, 27 Mei 2017

12 Habits That Lead to Divorce

12 Habits That Lead to Divorce

12 Habits That Lead to Divorce
Every married couple has exchanged vows which promise “til death do us part,” but for far too many marriages, their dreams of “forever” are crushed by divorce. According to government stats from the CDC, America averages one divorce every 36 seconds. That’s roughly 2,400 divorces each day, 16,800 divorces every week and 876,000 divorces per year.
So, how do we stop this epidemic of broken marriages? To bring it even closer to home, how should YOU protect YOUR marriage? I’m convinced that if you’ll avoid these 12 common bad “habits,” you’ll be well on your way to beating the divorce statistics and creating a healthy and happy marriage that will endure through every season of life. If you believe your marriage might be heading for divorce, please don’t lose hope! In addition to reading the list below, please check out our program designed to save struggling marriages at FightingForMyMarriage.com
The 12 habits that lead to divorce are (in no particular order)…
1. Constant Criticism
When you get a warning light on your car’s dashboard, it means there’s something wrong under the hood that needs immediate attention. One of the biggest “warning lights” in a marriage is a tone of constant criticism. When a husband and wife start being each other’s biggest critics instead of the biggest encouragers and when they start focusing only on the negative instead of the positive, it creates a downward spiral that often leads to divorce.
#2 is something many couples do as soon as they get married, but they don’t realize they’re just preparing themselves for divorce
2. Dividing everything into “his” and “hers”
When a husband and wife have separate bank accounts, separate hobbies, separate friends and separate dreams, they’re running the risk of creating completely separate lives. Marriage is about combining; divorce is about dividing. The more you can share together, the stronger your marriage will be.
If your marriage is struggling right now, please check out our new online program at FightingForMyMarriage.com.
#3 is the reason there’s an epidemic of divorce among couples who have been married for 20 years or more…
3. Putting the marriage “on hold” while you’re raising your kids
I’ve seen too many marriages fall apart because two well-meaning people put so much focus on their kids that they forgot to keep investing in the marriage. Some couples reduce their relationship to a partnership in co-parenting, and when the kids finally grow up, they discover that they have created an empty nest and an empty marriage. Give your children the gift that comes from seeing their parents in a loving, thriving marriage. Model the kind of marriage that will make your kids excited to be married someday.
#4 might be the most common (and one of the most dangerous) habits on the list
4. Giving each other your “leftovers”
Some couples have what I call a “cable company marriage.” Have you ever noticed how Cable TV companies seem to give you their very best deals and service at the beginning of the relationship but then after the “introductory period” ends, they give you as little as possible to still keep you around? Some married couples were great at giving their best at the beginning of the relationship, but as time goes on, they start giving the leftovers. Strive to keep giving your best to each other. Grow deeper in your love, your respect and your friendship through all the seasons of marriage.
#5 is toxic and when it happens, neither spouse is going to have peace or happiness...
5. Holding grudges and “keeping score”
If you’ve been married longer than 15 minutes, chances are good that your spouse has done something to offend you and you’ve done something to offend him/her. When our words or actions cause harm, we need to be quick to admit fault and seek forgiveness. When your spouse has wronged you, you need to offer grace quickly so that trust can start being rebuilt and there’s no room for bitterness to take root in your heart. Don’t use past hurts as ammunition in arguments. Let grace flow freely in your marriage. No marriage can survive without it.
#6 reveals the WORST thing to trust to advise choices in your marriage
6. Trusting your “feelings” more than your commitments
There are going to be days when you might not “feel” like being married, but feelings are fickle and they were never intended to be our primary advisor in major decisions. “Feelings” often lead people into adultery. The healthiest couples have discovered that love is a commitment; not just a feeling. Their commitment to each other perseveres regardless of what they’re feeling. The strength of that commitment allows them to have a deeper intimacy, a stronger connection and a happier marriage.
#7 happens with pride replaces thoughtfulness in the relationship
7. Making decision without consulting your spouse
Our pride can often convince us that we don’t have to answer to anyone, and we should be able to make decisions without consulting anyone. Pride has been the downfall of so many marriages. The healthiest couples have learned that EVERY decision they make as individuals will have some level of impact on each other, so they respectfully and thoughtfully consult each other in every decision.
#8 frustrates BOTH spouses, but doesn’t help either one of them
8. Trying to change each other
When you try to “change” your spouse, you will BOTH end up frustrated. As you’ve probably learned already, you can’t change each other; you can only love each other. The only part of the marriage you have the power to change is the part you see when you look in the mirror. Be willing to change your responses to your spouse’s behavior. Look for ways to love and serve each other even when you have differences of perspective or preference. You’ll both probably end up “changing” for the better in the process.
#9 is the biggest single step toward an eventual divorce
9. Planning an exit strategy
The healthiest couples have removed the “D-Word” (Divorce) from their vocabularies. When we threaten divorce or when we silently start fantasizing about life with someone new, we’re ripping apart the foundation of the marriage. The couples who make it work aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced; they’re simply the ones whose commitment to each other was always bigger than their differences and flaws.
#10 doesn’t necessarily involve sex, but it’s still an act of infidelity...
10. Hiding the fact that you’re married
If you are intentionally hiding your status as a married person or you’re projecting “availability” through flirting, slipping off a wedding ring, acting single around your single friends or at bars, etc., then you’re WAY out of bounds. Those subtle acts of deceit are in themselves forms of infidelity even if they never lead to a sexual affair.
If you’re in a struggling marriage, please don’t lose hope. Check out our new program at http://www.fightingformymarriage.com
#11 is EVERYWHERE, and it’s having a tragic impact on marriages..
11. Seeing porn, erotica or graphic romance novels as “harmless entertainment”
When you’re acting out sexual fantasy apart from your spouse, it’s an act of mental infidelity. All true intimacy and all infidelity begins in the mind; not in the bedroom. If your eyes and your thoughts are wandering away from your spouse, then your heart is going to follow. Two thousand years ago, Jesus taught that “to look at a woman lustfully is to commit adultery with her in your heart.” Don’t just be physically monogamous. Strive to be mentally monogamous.
I’m convinced that #12 is the #1 cause of divorce
12. Selfishness.
We are ALL selfish by nature, but a marriage can only work when we put our selfishness aside and put the needs of our spouse ahead of our own needs. When BOTH spouses are willingly to selflessly love and serve each other in this way, the marriage will thrive. The hard part is that YOU must be willing to go first and be selfless even in those moments when he/she is not reciprocating. Your actions might turn the tide. Choose to be a thermostat; not a thermometer. A thermometer always adjusts to the climate in a room, but thermostat CHANGES the climate in the room. Be the change. You probably have more influence than you think!
For more tools to help you build a rock-solid relationship, check out our new 7-Day Marriage Challenge (by clicking HERE).
This article originally appeared here.

The Many Benefits of Gratitude

The Many Benefits of Gratitude

Man reading the Bibleby John Thorington
Matthew Henry, a well-known eighteenth-century Puritan preacher, was threatened by robbers in the city of London. They took his possessions and endangered his life. It’s safe to say that was not one of Mr. Henry’s best days!
And yet, this is what he wrote:
Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because though they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
Matthew Henry knew how to practice gratitude. How about you? Consider these four proven benefits of gratitude and its practice:
  • Gratitude can strengthen your spiritual life. The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter to the Philippians. Roman jails weren’t exactly known for their luxurious accommodations. Hear him, “Rejoicein the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Paul wasn’t defeated in spirit, rather he was abundantly thankful!
  • Gratitude can improve your mental and emotional health. In Philippians 4:8 Paul encourages, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Paul knows that when we give thanks, it is a way of living in the presence of God, and it impacts what we focus on.
Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has proven in his studies that gratitude reduces depression. I highly recommend his book Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Mariner Books, 2008). He notes how the practice of gratitude and living in the presence of God diminishes a number of toxic emotions, from anger to jealousy to resentment. David knew times of great loss and grief, and yet he affirmed, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:3).
  • Gratitude can expand your social awareness and service for others. The Journal of Psychological Science (Vol. 17, Number 4, 2006) testified that those who practiced more gratitude were also more likely to help others. The authors Monica Y. Bartlett and David
DeSteno reported that “pro-social” behaviors are in turn linked to greater happiness. Their research concluded that empathy increases when people are thankful. Further, their work asserts that gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others.
  • Finally, gratitude can improve your physical health. The research on gratitude reports that practitioners experience better sleep and less stress. It reduces headaches, sore muscles, stomach pain, and boosts your autoimmune system. Research also shows that those who practice gratitude exercise more regularly, report less illness, and generally feel healthier.
So, as you approach each day, keep your focus on the grace of God and all that is good. Yes, practice gratitude and thank God for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blessings.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?





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What are you afraid of?
A lot of us were scared of the dark when we were little. There’s something about the lights going out that transforms ordinary shadows into dreadful monsters.
Years later, we still have our monsters, don’t we? Relational problems. Health crises. Significant life changes that are beyond our control. They’re more sophisticated than the creepy things we feared hid under our bed as children, but they haunt us just the same.
Back when you were a kid, you probably hid from your fears by pulling the blankets a little tighter. Now that you’re an adult, you may be responding the same way. You hide by minimizing the severity of the issues confronting you. Or, worse still, you avoid them entirely through drugs, alcohol, pornography, or by filling your waking hours with so many distractions that you’re able to keep your fears below the surface … at least for a little while.
But keeping our fears hidden doesn’t squelch them, it feeds them until they grow into something bigger and far more sinister than they ought to be. Author and speaker Patsy Clairmont knows that as well as anyone. She endured fear so overwhelming it kept her imprisoned in her own home for six years. How did she dispel the darkness and get her life back?
She turned on God’s light.
Was it as simple as a prayer? For her, no. She thought God would whisk away her fear at the mere utterance of His name. Instead, He took her on a journey deep within herself where she became part of her own healing, and He transformed her from the inside out.
That restoration led her from being held hostage in her own home to flying across the country nearly every weekend to speak to large groups of people and lifting up the name of Jesus and proclaiming with the evidence from her own experiences that He really does set prisoners free.
Focus on the Family is continuing to celebrate our 40th anniversary with some of your all-time favorite programs. Our latest episode features Patsy Clairmont in one of our most popular and classic broadcasts called “God Uses Cracked Pots.” You can hear it on your local radio station, online, or on our free phone app.
In this talk delivered at a women’s retreat, Patsy explains how her fears cut her off from the outside world and how she found recovery through Scripture, godly friends, and a willingness to let go of the past. Her message is redemptive and timeless, and I believe it’ll connect with you.
If your fears hold sway over your life and you’re going through a painful time, we have caring Christian counselors who can talk with you and give you some first steps at 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).
We also have an online store that offers helpful digital and print resources in the areas of marriage, parenting, faith, and issues related to many other life challenges.

Senin, 30 Januari 2017

Guarding Your Schedule (and Soul) In the New Year – Part 1

Guarding Your Schedule (and Soul) In the New Year – Part 1

Senior couple cooking togetherby Ted Cunningham
The transition from December to January catches me off guard every year. December prioritizes family gatherings, travel, downtime, and food. January prioritizes goal setting, planning, work and weight loss. In the first few days of January we hear people say, “It’s good to get back to some routine.” “I’m tired of sitting around and the kids are going stir crazy.” “I’m looking forward to getting this next year started.”
We focus at the beginning of the year on what we need to get started. As we plan for the organizational needs of the church, our tendency is to add more, plan more, and schedule more rather than make the most of what we have already committed. January is the perfect time of year to pause and ask, “What are we doing? What’s working? What’s not working?” Every ministry and program of the church requires an investment of time. Stewardship is more than financial responsibility. We must also steward our time and energy. Let’s consider our time and use it wisely.
  1. W. Tozer once wrote, “Time is a resource that is nonrenewable and nontransferable. You cannot store it, slow it up, hold it up, divide it up, or give it up. You can’t hoard it up or save it for a rainy day—when it’s lost it is unrecoverable. When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”
God wants us to pursue ministry and enjoy a life in which time is not the enemy. We say things like “I wish I could have more time,” “Sorry, but we’re out of time,” “Where has the time gone?” and “Time sure flies.” We like to max out our lives and make the most of every minute and opportunity. In error, we squeeze out the margin to get the most out of life. We run too fast. We do too much. Hurry kills the soul and the family.
Time is an investment. Investing is all about saving rather than spending. How we use our time today affects how well tomorrow will go. Billy Graham, in a message on time, said, “More than seventy-five years ago Henry Luce wanted a name, in just one word, for a weekly newsmagazine that would describe the passing events of the day. He chose the word ‘time’. The Bible says, ‘The days of our lives are seventy years’ (Psalm 90:10, NKJV). Time is a mystery. We sense its passing in our consciousness. We measure its progress with delicately adjusted instruments. We mark its flight and read the record it leaves behind.” He went on to say, “To the Christian, time has a moral significance and a spiritual meaning. . . . What are we doing with it? Are we frittering it away, letting it slip through our fingers, squandering it in wanton waste? Or are we treasuring it, using it to maximum advantage, filling every minute with sixty seconds’ worth of service to God?”
The Bible never uses the term “time management.” Instead, it speaks of “redeeming” the time. Pacing ourselves, rather than controlling time. Paul writes, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NKJV).
The most important thing to know about time is that it is limited. Armed with that truth, the most important question you and I must begin asking is “What am I going to say no to?” Delayed gratification is saying no to something now in the hopes of something better later.
Many will start dieting this month in an attempt to get physically healthy. Pastors are prone to saying yes to everyone and every need. Your emotional and spiritual health begins by trimming your calendar, saying no to members who have excessive emotional reliance on you and saying yes to activities and disciplines that will keep you full of life. Leave room in your schedule for God to work in your soul. Warning: Once you start maintaining a healthy soul, those with unhealthy souls will begin to resent you and demand more from you. Be on guard from those who seek to drain you. Jesus is your source of life, not your congregation!
In Part 2 of Guarding Your Schedule (and Soul) in the New Year, we’ll look at some practical ways to maintain margin and rhythm and plan a calendar that leaves plenty of room for emotional and spiritual health. Your longevity in ministry depends on it!

Guarding Your Schedule (and Soul) In the New Year

Guarding Your Schedule (and Soul) In the New Year – Part 2

Couple in Parkby Ted Cunningham
In Part 1 of “Guarding Your Schedule (and Soul) in the New Year” we saw how God wants us to pursue ministry and enjoy a life in which time is not the enemy. Hurry kills the soul and the family so we want to pace ourselves and redeem the time. Your longevity in your marriage, family and ministry depends on it!
There is one thing every marriage and family needs. Without it, our children crash and burn emotionally and physically. We are less productive when we don’t get enough of it. Too much of it and some might consider us lazy. Know what it is? It is rest – and we all need it.
Margin is a term we started using more often in the church a few years ago. It means room to breathe. It’s a reserve. We have all been there when we are driving on fumes and can’t find a gas station. Panic and anxiety set in, and we feel helpless. Smart drivers keep a little fuel in the tank at all times. It’s called a reserve. Margin is a lot like a car fueled with reserves. It’s when we refuse to run on fumes.
Margin is the space between your load and your limit. As a dad and pastor, I have often allowed my load to exceed my limit, saying “yes” to every request for a meeting or counseling appointment, “yes” to every invitation to speak, “yes” to every party or meal invite. It wasn’t until a much older and wiser pastor asked me, “Who is holding a gun to your head?” that I woke up to how I was living. He taught me that if I don’t get a hold of my schedule, someone else will. I am a much happier pastor, husband, and dad because I learned the big word “No!”
Being marginless is when you allow your load to exceed your limit. The key word there is you, not load or limit. Admit it, when you first read that line, load and limit jumped out at you. You missed the “you.” We must take personal responsibility for the way we invest our time, the amount of margin we allow, and the rest we get. We are responsible for our load. Don’t allow your load to be dictated by anyone else. After all, only you know your limit. There’s not another person on the planet who understands your limit. You feel when you’ve had enough people time. You know when you better get alone and re-center before you go all “postal.” No one knows you better than you. Your limit is what determines your necessary margin. Good “time redeeming” leaves a little margin in your daily plan. We all need margin and rest.
Since when did I start thinking I was better than God? He rested after creating for six days. Jesus ministered, and then he rested.
God knew we would rebel against the whole idea of rest, so he had to command it: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Holy means set apart. We are not to treat the Sabbath like every other day of the week. It needs a different rhythm. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (verse 9). For six days God says to work and provide for your family. He wants us to be productive. He has given us the Sabbath to make us more productive. “But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” (verse 10). You need to slow down your pace and that of your spouse and your children, and you need to find rest and relax.
A Sabbath does not mean a day off. It means a day of rest. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NLT). The Sabbath is a gift to us. This, my friend, is for your benefit.
Start by saying “No” to time robbers. The demands and expectations of others are the greatest of all time robbers. As a pastor I admit that the church can be quite guilty of this. Woodland Hills is a family church, and one of the things we have guarded more than anything else is family time. It would be crazy to say we support the family and then ask people to be at the church four or five times a week. But here’s the rub. Everything we ask our congregation to take part in involves great ministry opportunity. Feed the poor, attend a Bible study, serve the recovery program, teach kids on Sunday morning—all great opportunities, but not opportunities anyone needs to say “yes” to every time.
We say “no” to really great stuff. But we also say “no” to a bigger and better “yes.” No matter what your role, be careful of the time robbers. Time is the most precious commodity you have. Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said, “Do not squander time, for it is the stuff life is made of.”
How precious is your time? To realize the value of one year, ask a student who failed a grade. To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby. How valuable is an hour? Ask the man or woman whose flight was delayed by that much, causing him to miss an important business deal. How about one minute? Ask the man who had the heart attack in a restaurant and was saved by an EMT proficient in CPR who happened to be sitting at the next table. Does a second mean much to you? It does to the person who barely missed a head-on collision with an oncoming car. Surely a millisecond isn’t a big deal—unless you’re the Olympic swimmer who missed qualifying by six-tenths.
Time is precious. Let’s be careful with the number of times we say “Yes” in a week. Your family and church need a healthy pastor ministering from a healthy soul.

What’s Different About A Pastor’s Marriage?

What’s Different About A Pastor’s Marriage?

couple-smiling-at-each-otherby John McGee
You have seen the stats and heard the stories about how difficult marriages can be for those in the pastorate. Have you ever wondered what makes a pastor’s marriage different than the rest of the population? I was asked this question by a group of people preparing for ministry and here’s some of what I shared with them.
There are no unique rules for a great marriage. Great marriages are always comprised of things like good communication, fun, intimacy, quality time, humility, and conflict resolution. Pastors know those things because they teach them to others. What I’ve learned is that once you can teach something you can begin to think you are an exception to the rule. Those in ministry are not exempt because they are eloquent or smart, and God hasn’t changed the laws of relationships for them just because they serve Him. When thinking about what makes a pastor’s marriage different, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the same rules of marriage apply to everyone. If pastors want a great marriage they will need to apply the same advice they give their congregants.
Although I started with the fact that a pastor’s marriage in many ways is not different, there are a few unique aspects I felt they should know as they were preparing for ministry.
Pastors do carry unique pressures. An occupational hazard of ministry can be the emotional weight pastors carry because there is always someone who needs them. Other occupations have pressures of deadlines or the volume of work, but there is something different and emotionally taxing about carrying the pain of others. Pastors encounter unique pressures that can impact their marriage, and they must learn how to deal with them. The answer for everyone will be different, but personally I’ve found that rituals can be helpful. As I drive home I pray through the difficult issues and people I am dealing with. I affirm that God is in control, and that He cares more about the people and situations than I do. I then imagine myself entrusting these people and situations to Him. I also trust that He will help me be present and engaged with my family and pray for energy and focus for my time with them. I told this group preparing for ministry that in every occupation, they would have to learn to balance work and family, but, as a pastor, they would also have to learn to deal with the emotional weight, or it would impact their marriage. I also encouraged them to continually ask their spouse if they were emotionally present at home.
Spouses also have unique challenges. Much has been written to men about how to protect their wives from the demands of the church and how to keep the congregation from feeling like the pastor’s wife is free labor. There is no doubt that a wife who feels she is there simply to support the pastor or be at the beck and call of the congregation will eventually become embittered toward the church and her husband. A wise husband will clearly communicate to the congregation that he is a team with his wife but that he is the only employee. I’ve also noticed that often the wife supports the husband’s ministry but there isn’t always reciprocation. This year one of my goals is to support my wife’s personal ministry. She has always done a great job helping me with my more public ministry but she really loves to encourage others one-on-one. One of my goals this year is to celebrate and support her ministry, which is more private, just as much as she supports my ministry, which is more public. Not realizing the unique pressures on your spouse can negatively impact your marriage but lovingly addressing them can actually be a big win for your marriage.
Your marriage presents a unique opportunity. Personally I love being a pastor and being married. Most days my wife would say the same about being married to a pastor. I love the way we get to pray for and see life change. I love that together we are doing something that will matter in eternity, and I love that our marriage actually impacts others. When my wife and I speak, I am amazed how often people will say something like, “I really appreciated what you said, but my biggest takeaway was watching the way you both related to each other. God convicted me that I need to be kinder and more respectful to my wife (or husband).” While there are many unique challenges of being married and in the ministry, I also think there are many unique opportunities and blessings if you are willing to look for them.
If you haven’t had the conversation with your spouse lately, a good question to discuss would be “What do you like about being married and in ministry, and what is difficult?” Their answers will give you some things to celebrate as well as some tangible ways you can help them, serve them, and build oneness in your marriage.

3 Principles For Handling Money