Black Friday….

Christmas season starts even before the Halloween leftovers have been marked 50% off. It doesn’t end until we have quietly returned all those unique items that we don’t really want and stocked up on the clearance items.

Guess what happens right in the middle – Black Friday and the new shopping holiday….Gray Thursday. It is a time where mentally questionable individuals pass on long-weekend snooze time and plan to spend the early morning hours fighting (or sharing the feelings of Thanksgiving together) for the few items that are available at the door buster prices!

I’ve read articles that talk about boycotting the Black Friday gluttony and focusing on our spiritual growth. It makes sense….a spiritually oriented response to the commercialization of the Christmas season. I am all for spiritual growth, and the suggestions the blog makes for that are good ones, but I take issue with the automatic assumption that the commercialization of Christmas is a bad thing.

What do we even mean by “commercialization” anyway? That retailers use it as an excuse to run more sales and get more people into stores? Look at it this way: it’s the Fourth of July sales. Let’s say suddenly everybody descended on the mall and started buying the place out, and the local TV station sent a reporter to find out what what going on.

Let’s say that the reporter interviewed a bunch of people, asking, “Why are you here buying all this stuff?” And the people all responded, “I’m buying it to give away! To family and friends and co-workers! I’m even giving some stuff to people I don’t even know–a name I drew out of a hat at a party… an underprivileged child I heard about, whose day will be brightened by just getting a little gift.”

We’d watch this news report on TV and, wiping a little tear from our collective eye, we’d say,
“What a beautiful example of love and generosity! This should happen all the time!”

When it really does happen around Christmas time, we say, “we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas!”
When you see all the news stories about all the people lined up at the stores buying stuff for Christmas, remember, those people are buying stuff to give away to others. And whether you think the stuff they’re buying is worth having or not, they’re buying it as a symbol of love for the gift’s recipient. It’s true that sometimes gifts are bought and given with other motivations–pride, as a demonstration of the giver’s wealth or taste; or peer pressure. But if you think that accounts for the bulk of gift giving at Christmas, I’d say you have an unreasonably low opinion of your fellow man.

So I say to everyone on this Black Friday and for the rest of the Christmas shopping season, go forth, buy stuff, and give it all away. That’s what I will be doing with my wife. See you at the stores….just get in line behind me!!

 

Are you ready?

Consider this…..Vitor Belfort is a Brazilian mixed marital arts fighter and a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions. He trains hours each day with multiple coaches taking up to 100 punches in the stomach. He will prepare six months for a single fight. A fight that might only last 60 seconds.

What you do today – prepares tomorrow. If you are not happy with your marriage today, then you must ask yourself….

What am I doing today to prepare for tomorrow?

Marriage is not a destination. It is a daily thing. Start today – to be ready for a better marriage tomorrow.

 

I’ll Say It Again – Be Forgiving

We have talked and talked and talked about forgiveness.  I thought I would talk about it again….call it continue my personal need to remind myself.  Jesus told Peter that we must forgive seventy times seven, so I figure we can talk about it that many times!

Forgiveness is hard.  It doesn’t…at least for me…come naturally.  I talked about my soccer coach last week and controlling our responses on the soccer field.  I’d listen to that advice about not retaliating when I was foul.  I wouldn’t.  I’d wait because I wasn’t going be fouled without a payback.  You’d get fouled later in the game.

How stupid is that approach?  My lack of forgiveness on the field would distract me from helping my team.  Same thing occurs in your marriage – focus on the offense rather than forgiveness and your marriage isn’t going to win the game.

Peter thought he was being very generous when he proposed forgiving seven times.  Peter learned that as a follower of Christ that we need to be willing to forgive without keeping track of the number of times we need to forgive.  God’s forgiveness for us is limitless and beyond anything we deserve.  Our attitude toward true forgiveness should mirror the attitude of the one that we are trying to be like.  Forgive others like he as forgiven you.

Veteran’s Day Prayer

Dear Lord,
Today we honor our veterans,
worthy men and women
who gave their best
when they were called upon
to serve and protect their country.
We pray that you will bless them, Lord,
for their unselfish service
in the continual struggle
to preserve our freedoms, our safety,
and our country’s heritage, for all of us.
Bless them abundantly
for the hardships they faced,
for the sacrifices they made
for their many different contributions
to America’s victories
over tyranny and oppression.
We respect them, we thank them,
we honor them, we are proud of them,
and we pray that you will watch over
these special people
and bless them with peace and happiness.
In Jesus’ name we pray; Amen.
By Joanna Fuchs

Yellow Cards

During our soccer game yesterday – a player on the other team was given a yellow card for cursing at player from our team.   Our player has bumped into him as he was coming off the field.  That’s it.  A bump lead to cursing.  Cursing lead to a yellow card and a free kick.

Whether intentional or not….we have all thought, said or done things in reaction to our offense in a situation.  I can still hear my high school soccer coach saying no matter what happens to you on the field, don’t compound the problem by trying to get back at whoever did something to you.  Even if our player had intentionally bumped into the player from the other team – what was the results of the player’s cursing?  Focus was placed on the cursing which meant that maybe our player got away with it.

It happens in sports and it happens in our marriages.  Your spouse says something.  We get defensive and retaliate.  And now…we are off to the races arguing about the argument rather than solving the problem and creating unity.  It’s important to know that God doesn’t  think in terms of who said what first or how sinful one person’s actions may be when compared to the other person’s.  It all causes us to be separated from God and each other.

When you find yourself in a volatile situation…don’t make things worse by letting anger and personal pride get the better of you.  If you stay calm, instead of reacting angrily, it will be easier to control yourself.  That control will demonstrate leadership and exudes God’s love.

A Question Asked

Hello Everyone!  I was recently asked this question by someone who reads the blog.  It an interesting dilemma that needs to be overcome in our hearts if we are going to find success in our marriages.

“I read your posts on leading your marriage. I feel like my wife dominates the marriage. She treats me like I am not capable of leading our marriage or family. How is it possible to love her when she acts this way?”

I would say that at various times that we all have felt the struggle between loving our wives the way that God intends verse the way the world treats loving others. I believe that most people would feel justified to be upset with how their spouse is acting toward them and they would be right according to our culture, but not according to God. Ephesians has much to say about this.

I would say that we are disobeying God when we let things build and fester. God does not want that to occur because He knows what happens to us when it does. We are hurting ourselves and our marriages when we allow this to occur. It is okay to be angry and have emotions, but it is not okay to sin because of it. We have to turn those God given emotions into productive actions based on God’s word.

I have to be very careful with this…..because it is easy to fall into the trap where I get blinded by my problems and forget that God is there to guide me through it. I am only learning now, after many years, that I have to submit to God in order to deal with challenges in my marriage Biblically. It has allowed me to become a more forgiving person. It has allowed me to be able to reach for my wife’s hand after an argument. I am nowhere perfect on any of this….but I have learned that submitting to God’s plan for my role in marriage and being able to love my wife through anything becomes easier.

Focus on being the husband and leader that God wants you to be. Set an example of submitting your will to His will. I think that in time….that when your wife sees you submitting yourself to God, then it will become easier for her to submit herself to you. Pray for God to help you convince her that He is working in you. Remember God loved us despite our sins. Love your wife anyways.

Road to Hell….

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” – John Ray, 1670

We have good intentions….like loving our wives, parenting our children and being good Christians.   Good intentions produce very little unless we are intentional.

Intentional loving on your part, not waiting to receive that from your partner, is the way back to the intimate oneness type love that God intends. When you do something pleasing for your partner, serotonin is released in their brain, helping them to feel relaxed and happy. Giving is more powerful than receiving. When you give and nurture another person, you also tend to feel more attached and more loving toward him or her. When you receive nurturing, you may appreciate it and feel loved, but that may not translate into loving feelings toward that other person.

Act “as if” your partner is already loving you the way you desire. Act “as if” you are an ideal lover and your partner is totally pleased. Feel that confidence in your mind and your thoughts and your body. Stop resisting change. Open your heart to your partner more often. Instead of digging in your heels and clinging to your own ideas, listen, say yes, and learn from the one you love.

Love intentionally. Love with the purpose of serving and healing. Love and honor your wife.

Love with the same love that God has shown you.

Be Strong. Love Like Men.