Math Alternative  

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Learning arithmetic has a natural progression. Start off with addition, then its counterpart, subtraction. Then, you learn multiplication, then its counterpart, division. Within each of those are learning to handle fractions and decimals. After that, algebra creeps up on us. If you're "lucky" you get into calculus. There are many areas that I didn't even mention which are incorporated in mathematics.

How did you do with math in school? Did it not take very long to arrive at your ultimate frustration point? Was it the "tables", the proofs of geometry, or the unknowns of calculus? As much as we use math in every day life, there is a math alternative which is mentioned in this week's quote...

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. ~ Eric Hoffer
Blessings are the areas of math we take for granted. They are the "knowns" of the equation. We "know" they are supposed to be there. We "know" we should be receiving them. However, we often overlook them; treating them like the "unknown" variable(s).

You know the blessings are there, in the equation of life, but just can seem to locate them...why is that? May I encourage you to look harder. Asking the question, "What is good in your life" can be like asking a child "What did you learn today in school?" They often say, "I don't know" or "Nothing."

Write down or make a mental list of all the positives in your life. You have life, that is one. You fill in the rest.

As a math alternative, add up the blessings...they're often the hardest, but the most worth it!

Adding them up...Share/Bookmark

Never Leaving Your Partner Behind…by Being Attentive  

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With the fast-paced society that we all currently live in, it is easy to get caught up in ones daily life. I know that I am as guilty as the next person. I have certain things that are on my plate that I am trying to get done each week. I tend to think about them too much. That is typical with those who can’t leave work at quitting time, but tend to think about things before and after. Plus, the more we’re connected through cell phones (worse yet, smartphones), the more people are able to contact us and the more portable our work/lifestyle becomes. This isn’t going to be something that I foresee will slow down. We are going to constantly be speeding up with connecting to each other.

How does all this relate? Well, when you’re married we need to take some time for our spouses, being attentive to them and their needs. If taking work with you works for your marriage, so be it. Regardless, maybe taking time to be with each other is something you could “find time” for. I’ve discussed talking and the closeness it brings to each other. Your spouse may want to go somewhere that doesn’t include much talking, but just enjoying the company between each other. Sometimes, it is all about doing something with them. If money is an issue, then find a way to do something that is cheaper than “dinner and a movie” but still allows both parties to benefit.

Sometimes, the idea of being attentive means that you can see when your partner has “had enough” of whatever you’re doing and may need to be by themselves. Another way to give attention is to leave notes – in their purse, wallet, cell phone, under pillow, on mirror, in medicine cabinet, in kitchen drawers, in clothes drawer, in lunch box, in brief case, etc.

Being attentive is easy when you are dating but becomes more difficult once you’re busy with life. Take time to be attentive to each other to help keep your partner from never being left behind.Share/Bookmark

Enduring Enterprise - Isaiah 54:10  

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I wish I had an answer as to why more marriages tend to fail each year. I know there are lots of speculations that have been formed as to answer that pondering. One, Hollywood doesn't model lifelong commitments. Two, previous parents may have been divorced (if married at all). Three, we make it easy to get out. Four, we are a "serve me" society. You may have your own to add, please do, as when you add your comment. However, aside from a few exceptions, relationships are to be permanent.

That permanency is modeled by God, Himself. He shows us that we will give up on Him before He gives up on us. He is not out for Himself, but looking out for our best interest. Even when we have been the one who messed up (again and again).

As we concluded our month talking about relationships, we finished up by looking at the enduring side of a marriage. Whether that marriage is to another human being or to God, He shows us that we are to not be giving up on that "marriage". Here are some applications to choose from to use from this week's lesson...

  1. When wanting to "give up" on your partner, think about the "why" factor. Why are you wanting to give up? What have they done that enables you a way out that you have not done to God, sometime?
  2. Self-reflect on the idea of you being OK with God giving up on your for the same thing - no forgiveness or grace given.
  3. Make a list of all the good things that you see/saw in that person (or the things that attract you to them).
  4. Pray for your heart to be softened toward them.
  5. "Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything." I Peter 4:8 (The Message)
  6. Don't give up on your brethren, either. If you have a problem, go and "carefront" them to get things straightened out. Remember the "marriage" you're apart of with them, too.
Relationships are to be long-term. Both the ones that are joined together by a ring or a Cross. We are to endure the tough times so as to remain partners. Nothing with relationships are totally easy...but it is totally worth it!

Enjoying my Enterprise!...Share/Bookmark

What is Hidden Within You?  

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When I was in eighth grade, I remember studying in science the animals with exoskeletons (animals which have a hard outside with no bones on the inside). Common examples are the ant, beetle, cockroaches, etc. You’ve all stepped on them or squeezed them together. You hear that “crunch” upon stepping on or squeezing. The idea behind the creation is to protect the animal and give the body support. It doesn’t allow things in the body, very easily.

Humans are made up with an internal skeletal system. However, we have evolved to develop a type of exoskeleton (or force field for you sci-fi people). We don’t want to let people in or ourselves out without “permission”. We try to protect ourselves from what others may send our way and don’t want our true self to be seen by many people. We are the gatekeepers of our own selves and sometimes our “exoskeleton” is locked up like Ft. Knox.

This becomes a real problem when we have so much potential to do things in life that we keep it in. That brings us to this week’s quote…

Within each of us is a hidden store of energy.
Energy we can release to compete in the marathon of life.
Within each of us is a hidden store of courage.
Courage to give us the strength to face any challenge.
Within each of us is a hidden store of determination.
Determination to keep us in the race when all seems lost. ~Roger Dawson
What is hidden within you? Do you even know? No one may know because you haven’t “let it out”. You haven’t had your “shell” broken. In my first ministry job, I brought up the idea to send out an e-mail to the congregation for encouragement. The idea was met with a suggestion to do something else. So, it never got off the ground. A few years later, I was at another job and started the idea on my own. It has blossomed to so many people looking forward to reading the writings. Even going worldwide on the internet through blogging. I don’t think that the writings are worth any prize, but the aim in encouragement is achieved.

My point is, who knows what is inside of you that is ready to help many, many people! May you just “let it out” and see what good you can do for others!Share/Bookmark

Never Leaving Your Partner Behind...by Listening  

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Listening is a skill that we all possess, though men and women approach it differently. Basically, we could probably listen to anyone talk about things we’re interested in, for “hours”. However, when it comes to play in relationships, we tend to have a “limited supply” of listening. This tends to be unfortunate when it comes to deepening your relationship with your spouse.

Webster defines it this way: 1: to pay attention to sound 2: to hear something with thoughtful attention: give consideration 3: to be alert to catch an expected sound
Men will usually get the bad rap for not being able to listen. Whether they are accused of not remembering a detail after being told a few moments before or they are caught tuning out their spouse after a certain length of time. However, in different ways, women can be not as good of listeners, too.

Women enjoy talking to get to know the other person better. They love to share ideas and hear that the receiver is sharing in that idea with them, even if they have a difference of opinion. They like to connect and grow closer to that person by sharing a bit of themselves. Hence, why they like to talk about their day, her family, her house, or what “Susie” is doing in her life. They enjoy talking about their struggles with decorating, their job, or their wardrobe.

Men enjoy talking about what they’ve done, too. They enjoy talking about their tools, trucks, sports, accomplishments, etc. They like to tell their spouse about their day, not to “express feelings”, but to simply inform (and usually in much shorter paragraphs).

Husbands can listen to their wife the way she needs it, but it requires effort. Especially, in areas that are not of the husband’s interest (don’t forget to steer away from the “solving” approach, sometimes she just needs you to listen). Wives like to connect through conversing with their husbands. However, when it comes to areas that the wife is not interested in, it may take as much effort as it does for the husband. To be the most effective, you may have to turn off the TV, go to Starbucks, take a drive, wait till the kids are in bed, or anything else that may distract you from each other.

Listening is a way to grow closer to your partner. Depending on the subject area, one side of the conversation may be shorter than the other. The length of time is not what is important, but that you take time to listen to each other to help make your marriage “fireproof”.

Learning to listen…Share/Bookmark

Fireproof: Relationship of Rescue  

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We've all heard stories of parents going to great lengths to find their lost and/or abducted children. Maybe you've been one of those parents (even if it was simply lost in a public place). Once you realize that the child is missing you start looking, everywhere, very quickly. Hollering out their name. Heart beating quicker. Panic sets in. All this goes on because of the close relationship you have with that child. You would do anything for them. You have that "I'll always love you, no matter what you do" feeling.

That is a similar feeling to how God cares for His children. When we wander off, He's wanting to find us. When we do the unthinkable, He still loves us. He loves us because that is His nature. (I don't disregard the just-ness of God when referring to Him loving us). The relationship between God and us is a relationship of rescue. The relationship of us to a loved one should be the same.

As we looked at the movie Fireproof yesterday, we saw the scene where the husband realizes that he is not loving his wife the way he needs to be doing. She's "treating" him with a lack of care and consideration (much due to his previous actions), and he's trying to reconcile the situation. She doesn't seem to care. It is pointed out that that is much the same way we treat God. He does and does for us, but we still spit in His face; He still loves us.

Here are some applications to use from this week's message...

  1. Pray for your partner everyday (Buy The Power of a Praying Wife/Husband to help you with some specific prayers).
  2. Pray for your best friend - for the unmarrieds
  3. Look for signs that your partner is in need of rescuing; ask God to help you see.
  4. Work on strengthening your relationship with someone in your congregation that you don't normally talk to regularly - so as to understand them and know when to rescue them.
Being in a battle is not what we were at all created to be. We're too fragile as humans. When it comes to doing battle with the Evil One, we are also fragile. However, we can easily win when we have God with us. With God you're a majority in any battle!

Spiritually, we have a relationship that He will be there to rescue us. Earthly, you need to have a relationship that will rescue in times of need. If you're married, tell your partner how much you need/appreciate that. If you're unmarried, find someone that can be there for you when you need to be rescued. Rescuing could be a phone number to call in the middle of the night, a listening ear, or a place to come that is safe.

Appreciating my partner...Share/Bookmark

Love the One You Love  

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I've been overflowingly blessed to be married to my Valentine for eleven years. We knew each other before we started dating, but had been separated by my family moving away. Even when we were friends, neither had any thought that we would one day be married. It took one of my friends moving to where she lived to get us together. I wasn't looking for my "true love" but God had other plans. It has been twelve and a half years since that glorious day.

I am thankful that we get to go to bed and wake up next to each other. Though that is common in marriages, I want to extend it to the fact that, regularly, I am thankful to God that that is our norm. There may be times I take it for granted, but that is a rarity. I love my wife and she is the most gorgeous and breathtaking woman in the world!

With a salute to Valentine's Day, this weekend, here is a poem that describes some attributes of marriage.

One look
One smile
One touch
One embrace
One kiss
One love
Two people
Two minds
Two souls
Two destinies
One road
One journey
One ending
Together.

~ Melissa Higgins

May this weekend be a time you can tell your husband how much you respect him or your wife how much you love her! Words, when said with sincerity, speak volumes to your spouse!

Happy Valentine's Day!Share/Bookmark

Never Leaving Your Partner Behind...by Being Active  

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In marriages, we are coming together from two different places. The obvious place is just the fact that we are male and female. However, with that brings the way we view things. Other differences are incorporated in how we were molded – family traditions, family values, etc.

My parent’s had their first date at a high school baseball game. My dad played while my mom watched. I don’t know if she sat with any friends, but she was basically by herself. Some date, right? The other part is that there was hardly a word spoken to her after the game. My dad picked her up, went to the game, played the game, and took her home. To him, it was great, not to her; but their relationship has still lasted almost forty-six years.

There are lots of ways one can be active in your partners life. However, I want you to think about things which your specific partner likes and take an active role in being interested in them (even if it is on occasion).

A few years ago, I was introduced to the Xbox game system. I enjoy the sports games, specifically NCAA Football. There are times when I make a good play or win the “National Championship” that I like to show my wife my accomplishments. She graciously gives me her attention to “congratulate” me on my accomplishment. She’s the best!

Does your spouse like to play sports? Watch sports? Go to craft shows? Watch TV/movies? Take walks? Go to plays? Go to concerts? Work in the yard? Plant a garden? Play video games? Go to hotels? Go shopping? The list could go on and on. Participating in these activities are easy if you like them too, but are more difficult when you are not interested. That is where you realize that it is good for your relationship to keep learning about your spouse and to take an interest in something they enjoy. It will help bring you closer together and help keep your marriage out of the “fire”.

A student of being active…Share/Bookmark

This will be a small series of posts...one today, one tomorrow, then the other two will be the next two weeks, on a Tuesday. They are bulletin articles, but thought others might benefit
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In the movie, Fireproof, there is a scene in the beginning where the Fire Captain Caleb Holt is reprimanding one of his younger firefighters for leaving his partner at their last fire to go and help someone else. The firefighter may have had good intentions, but it left his partner in the lurch. He could have been killed. Caleb tells him, “Never leave your partner behind”. When I saw this movie, I knew exactly where this was going in respect to the plot of the film.

As we look at the movie as inspiration to our series, I want to look at a few ways we can apply the idea of “never leaving our partner behind”.

Never leave your partner behind by praying for them. There are so many fires that we all can find ourselves in throughout the day that we need protection from the inconsumable God.

One of the passions of mine and Aubrey’s is marriage combined with prayer. During the next month or two, look for advertising of Aubrey starting a “Power of a Praying Wife” study. I know that wives are busy with work and/or family, however, this once-a-week study will definitely be worth the time that you take out of your busy schedule! Words cannot describe the reward that you will receive by going through this study!

Then, in September, in correlation with Monday Night Football, I will be having the “Power of a Praying Husband” study. I thoroughly enjoy going through this study, as it teaches me how to specifically pray for what my wife needs. Each chapter has a separate need to be praying for her on. Plus, once we’re done with our study, then we get to watch football.

These studies do not only help your own prayer life, but they help your partner feel protected!

You don’t have to wait until these studies are here to be praying for your partner. Start now! Prayer draws you closer, which has many benefits! Also, pray together, this is a great activity to becoming closer and more connected to your partner.

Remember, you may have good intentions when you are doing activities throughout the day, but when we get wrapped up in those activities, we can have a tendency to leave our partner in the middle of a “fire”. So, one way to never leave your partner behind…is by praying for them!Share/Bookmark

Fireproof: Illusion of Interest  

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Do you find yourself just looking at this, trying to figure it out? Wanting to take your eyes/mind off of it, but can't? The color combination is intriguing to create that visual stimulation that you are just in awe about why and how it can move when it is just a two-dimensional object.

Those are some of the same reactions we have when it comes to being interested in another person. For those of you that are married, when you were dating you were very interested in that person, to the point of not-stop-thinking-about-them. If you are single, then you've had those same experiences with people you have/are dating (or someone you'd like to date). The danger comes when we have the cannot-stop-thinking-about-them feelings for someone other than your spouse.

As we are examining the movie Fireproof this month, let us reflect back on the lesson yesterday that dealt with the idea of the illusion of interest...

  1. When you find yourself seeing something you visually like, turn away before it draws you in further.
  2. If a parent of a son, take time to teach them about the dangers of letting their eyes gawk all around at the visual images they may see on TV, in stores, in school, at the pool, etc.
  3. If a parent of a daughter, take time to teach them about the dangers of being emotionally drawn in to the wrong type of guy.
  4. Parents, teach your children about dressing with a sense of modesty. Usually, leaning to the girls, since boys are so visual. (Remember that one can be highly in fashion and still modest).
  5. Men, though you may be visually created, you do not have license to abuse that by looking at women with this "they are objects for your viewing pleasure" mindset.
  6. Women, though you may be emotionally created, you do not have license to abuse that by finding other sources of which to confide in, tell your problems to, etc.
  7. Stay close to God throughout the day to help prepare your mind for action (I Peter 1:13)
The list could go on for quite a while, however, when we think we see one thing, it may only be an illusion that will trick us to think we're seeing something totally different. A simple "friendship" could turn out to be a spiraling-out-of-control situation you never thought would have happened this way. You may get to the "They just get me" illusion (speaking of someone other than your spouse) that builds up flames in your marriage so high, it can't be put out.

For those not married to a person, as Christians, you are still "married" to Jesus, as the church is the "bride of Christ". There will be many different illusions that may try to take you away from that relationship. Keep in mind to do things that will "fireproof" that relationship, also! This applies to all Christians, married or unmarried.

Happily married...Share/Bookmark

Do You Have Such a Friend?  

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"Aubrey and Amy"..."Amy and Aubrey" That is what they were referred to in college. They go together like any good combination you can think of. This is my wife and her best friend. They didn't grow up together, or even, near each other. However, once they found each other, they were inseparable! They know how each other thinks. They finish each others sentences. It is sometimes scary to have them both in the same room together!

They know each other so well that they are totally comfortable around each other. They balance each other out, they strengthen each other, they are just great friends! Miles and time do not hinder the closeness of their relationship. Whenever they are together, it is like they just saw each other yesterday. Their friendship came to mind when I saw this week's quote...

A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows your your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities. ~ William Arthur Ward
This friendship came to my wife when she was developing her own faith. That is what helped solidify their relationship. I hope you all have a same gender friend that you are very close to. One, that it doesn't matter how long you've seen each other, the conversation picks up where it left off. One, who is there for you no matter what you do.

We were not made to live solitary lives! We were made to have relationships with others. Do you have such a friend as does my wife? I hope so! If you don't, may you be blessed to find one!

Enjoying friendships...Share/Bookmark

Fireproof: Flame of Fantasy - Hebrews 11:24-26  

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The Super Bowl was on last night. Did you watch it? If so, did you notice some of the commercials made to lure in the visual of the man's psyche? Not much was advertised that would lure in the woman toward any kind of fantasy, unless some strapping, buff football player (or coach) caught your eye.

Fantasy in marriage has it's place - for each other. When it comes to directing your mind to another place - there isn't a place for that. Even if you are unmarried, you have to be careful. Fantasy gives you a mentally good feeling, sometimes streaming to the physical. We all like good feelings, so fantasy has an allurement that can become dangerous. As we looked yesterday, at a scene from Fireproof, we saw how the start of a fantasy can begin...a compliment in amidst a damaged marriage.

As we reflect back on that lesson, here are some applications to choose from this week...

  1. Focus on your God - We serve Him first and foremost. Are thoughts taking you away from your quest to serve Him? Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord - Colossians 3:17
  2. Focus on your marriage - is it good, keep it that way - is it rocky, remember you committed to your partner! Regardless of how you would label your marriage, don't let your thoughts/actions take you somewhere else. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ - II Corinthians 10:5b
  3. Focus on yourself - Be aware of your weaknesses. Be aware of your temptations. Be aware of what's out there. Turn from things, literally, that have the potential to harm you.
  4. Stay Focused! - Keep your body pure, for your mate or your future mate. Be aware that the actions you do now will affect the person you are with and committed to.

It is vital to keep your marriage fireproof, for the health and longevity of your marriage! Marriage takes effort, and creating a fireproof marriage is part of the 100% effort that we all must put in!

If you're involved with a "fire" find someone to help you put the fire out, before it is too late!

Committed...Share/Bookmark