Do you want to be Wise or Smart

Proverbs 1

Proverbs 1:7

I have always loved Proverbs.  As a child I was fascinated with Solomon’s desire for wisdom.  I still am fascinated and drawn to applying knowledge, understanding, experience, sound judgment and common sense into daily life.

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:2-7

Listen to Proverbs 1

Read or listen to Proverbs 1

A good definition of being wise is: applied knowledge, understanding, experience, sound judgment and common sense into daily life. A good definition of being smart is: mentally quick and resourceful; intelligent. A smart person can remember and recall things quickly; they can learn and posses skills that come from mental and physical discipline and practice. Being smart has to do more with the capacity of your physical brain. Being wise has more to do with the knowledge and application of morality, justice and common sense in our daily lives. Being wise has to do more with an intimate relationship with God (Proverbs 2:6).  Choose wisdom over being smart.

After over 35 years together this is the wisdom I have gained about marriage:

  1. Forgive quickly and freely.
  2. Cultivate togetherness.
  3. Always be each others best friend and biggest fan.
  4. Don’t keep score or a record of wrongs.
  5. Greet each other with a smile and a kiss.
  6. Never stop touching.
  7. Always be willing to change, grow and learn together.

Accept One Another

live in such harmony with one another Romans 15:7

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We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. – Romans 15:1-7 ESV

If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you! – Proverbs 11:27 (NLT)

One of the keys in marriage is always believing that your spouses intentions are for your good. The struggle is that we usually are more willing to believe the worst. In the happiest relationships, they are steadfast in their belief that their spouse cares about them and has no intention of hurting them, even if they couldn’t completely explain what had happened.

And the truth is that they really are for you not against you.  In my experience only a tiny fraction of partners no longer cared about their spouse. Even in struggling, difficult marriages, most of the time, the hurt was not intended. In happy marriages, the offended spouse chooses to believe that; in unhappy marriages, they don’t.

For most of us, “searching for good” in our lives or spouse is difficult when we are in pain, it is not our usual response. It is so easy to gauge what the other person intended by how we feel in the moment. But gauging your life by your feelings can be dangerous.

I know at time the intentions and behaviors of people we love aren’t good. But in most situations, they don’t want to hurt the people they care about the most.

The choice to search, understand and believe a more generous explanation may not come easily at first. Try to bring your feelings in line with what you know to be true about their heart and character. And once you see, over time, that the “good” explanation is usually the real one, you become fully convinced that this person is “for” you.

Better yet, as you see in Proverbs 11:27, by expecting the best, you bring out the best. We all know this deep down; we just have to act on it. And when we do, everything changes

James 1:19, Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Love is patient and kind … It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)

Encourage Hope In Your Marriage

encourage one another and build one another up - Thessalonians 5:11

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Speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG

Marriage is a journey friends growing together toward God.  The problem is that discouragement, challenges and life get in the way of enjoying the journey.  The pots holes of discouragement, stress and conflict problem can weaken hope. Every journey must include hope.  Hope is a confident expectation for something, but hope must have a foundation. You must grow a foundation of hope that will guide you along the journey.

You are not together by accident.  This was not a mistake.  Their is a purpose and meaning for the two of you to be together.  Find or rediscover why you are together. God has you together to make him famous and to grow you into the image of Christ.  After over thirty years of marriage I am convinced that God has used my wife as part of my curriculum of Christlikeness.  I have learned more about love, sacrifice, joy, patience and relationships through my marriage than anything else I have experienced.  I know that God has used my marriage to change me and the world I live in.  So often we see the challenges of marriage as hindrance to the life we want.  I am convinced that God will use your marriage to form Christlikeness in you.  The joy is the knowledge that in this journey God will give you Himself, and that is where real happiness is found.

Show your spouse that you believe in them. It is so important to know that someone is on your side, especially when you’ve made a mistake. Be generous with your kindness and support while showing unconditional love. Offer a shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear. Remind your partner of the wonderful qualities that you fell in love with, and why they are the person you love and look forward to growing old with.

I know that this paragraph is hard for some…. because you don’t feel this.  Ask God to daily show you the small things and ways that are unique and special about them. Remember they were made in the image of God, so in them resides something strong and beautiful. Show gratitude for who they.  In time gratitude will produce love.  Love can come back, allowing you to say, that you believe in your spouse also.

You and your marriage are not alone.  This truth has brought more comfort than anything else in my life.  No matter what happens in your life or your marriage you are not alone, God is with you.  Nothing escapes Him or surprises Him.  He has a plan to prosper and increase your life.  That plan and hope will come alive as you invite him into the journey with your spouse.

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 MSG

Cultivate Gratitude

20 Bible Verses On Being Thankful

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The last several months have been confusing and stressful.  Like most of us, I tried my best to avoid thinking about it. I didn’t walk to talk about the stress, changes or decision that a busy life was creating.

In other words, I took the very enlightened approach of pretending that I was okay —one that’s about as effective as other common responses such as getting angry, pushing people away, blaming myself, or wallowing in the confusion and stress of a busy isolated life.

When life happens, we often relive the events over and over in our heads, rehashing the pain. This process is called rumination or negative self-talk; it’s like a cognitive spinning of the wheels, and it doesn’t move us forward toward healing and growth.

When stress creeps in, good habits often creep out.  A good habit is to redirect your thoughts.  To get rid of a negative thought pattern you have to have another thought.  Every time you begin to ruminate with negative self-talk use these verses on thankfulness to change your focus.

Here are 20 Bible verses on being thankful:

Source of Validation

Surrender

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We need use scripture as a source for personal validation and defense, and a shield against the arrows of doubt and shame. We tend to forget its authority. God wants to confirm to us that Jesus came to secure what we could never secure for ourselves.  Know that God has a plan for your life. Turn your life over to him every day. Stop looking outside yourself for validation and approval. Look to the Father you find in scripture to find your validation. Life doesn’t have to be a tireless effort to establish yourselves, justify yourselves, validate yourselves. Don’t let other people define your happiness. Instead of trying so hard to manipulate life, take care of yourself on the inside. Then all those other attributes you’re so desperately seeking will find you eventually.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me – Galatians 2:20

The challenge ahead is that we must also allow ourselves to surrender to the truth of scripture before we will understand its validation. We must be willing to leave everything and follow him. Leave the desire to please others more than God.  Leave the desire to be served and serve others instead. Surrender is the key to validation.  Don’t cling, control, or manipulate with fear or shame. Surrender will bring the power, confidence and peace of God’s plan for you bringing validation and purpose to your life.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it – Mark 8:35

Its All In The Touch

Husbands and wives: don’t deprive one another of physical intimacy - 1 Corinthians 7:5

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“It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.” 1 Corinthians 7:2-6 MSG

Touch is part of how we create a strong bond and connection as we build a relationship with our spouse.  It has an important role in communication, intimacy and creating a connected marriage. When you touch your spouse you are acknowledging their presence and communicating your desire for them. That’s why most successfully married couples touch often.

Here are 3 types of touch or stages of touch that every marriage should practice.

Anxiety Empties

Gratitude Fills

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Our Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of it sorrows, but empties today of its strengths – Charles H. Spurgeon  

Anxiety will makes your thoughts race.  An anxious brain is an active brain. Anxious racing thoughts can make you feel that there’s only space for anxiety and certainly no room for gratitude. Anxiety doesn’t mean that someone is cold, uncaring, or ungrateful. Many times the opposite is true.  People living with anxiety do have gratitude in their heart, but it feels like there’s no room for gratitude in racing thoughts.  What is amazing though is gratitude will make room for itself in an anxious heart.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 MSG 

Anxiety empties us causing us to focus on what we don’t have.  When all you see is what you don’t have, trying to see what you do have is not easy. At night, I’d try to think of things I was grateful for that day and couldn’t come up with much. But, I was looking for big things.  Start with a focus on the little things, don’t get lost comparing.  Gratitude fills you with hope and over time looking for the little things you will notice more.  You will see more things that you have taken for granted, family, friends and the activities that you enjoy.

Eventually, as walk down the path toward gratitude you will be able to look back and be grateful for what God has brought you through.  Gratitude will also give you hope for the future. It will develop hope and remove comparisons.  Gratitude awakens you to happiness that can only be found in Christ.

In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Give Thanks In All Circumstances

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I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder G.K. Chesterton

Whatever your definition of success, we all want more. That desire for more can blind us to what we already have–and should be grateful for.  As you begin the month of November try to focus on thankfulness and gratitude.  Gratitude changes everything.

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

Serve One Another

... through love serve one another - Galatians 5:13 ESV

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In John 13, Jesus is eating a meal with the disciples, his closest companions in the last hours before being crucified. The disciples were having a conversation about which one of them was the greatest, after Jesus gave them the example of washing their feet. In that culture washing someone’s feet was a demeaning task, but the example that Jesus showed is that the greatest was the servant. Jesus does not condemn them for wanting to be great, he just flips it upside down.  To be great is to be the servant.  He introduces the idea that servant leadership is how you change the world.  Followers of Jesus should have the heart of a servant. The disciples must have been stunned by both His example and His message.

As Christ followers, when we are around friends, among strangers, and especially within our marriages, we are to be servants. We are to put others’ needs ahead of our own.

A husband and wife who make the priority to selflessly serve one another have discovered the secret of a great marriage.

Why is serving each other so important in marriage? The heart of a servant will develop three qualities:

Friendship In Marriage

Is your spouse your best friend?

friendship

Friendship is the well of marriage.  You drink from it when times are hard and celebrate from it when times are great.   If you have a deep emotional connection that is created through friendship you can make it through anything.  Always keep friendship alive with shared experiences together.

“It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up — painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, and fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction.” C.S. Lewis

Marriage without friendship won’t work in our hectic culture.  Friendship has to be nourished and nurtured regularly or it faces the danger of becoming two opposite lives that never connect. Couples that don’t develop and nurture their friendship often drift apart.

A weakened friendship can create an opening for marital infidelity.  If a couple drifts apart and fails to nurture the friendship it can lead a spouse to seek intimacy in other places. You have to share your hopes, dreams, successes and struggles with your spouse, if you don’t you are vulnerable to sharing them with someone else of the opposite sex.  When couples let their friendship take a back seat, friendships outside the marriage can result in emotional, and even physical, adultery. Sometimes these kinds of friendships outside the marriage are obviously easier. The problem is we are comparing a relationship outside the marriage that has the luxury of no responsibility and is hidden in the dark to all the struggles of cleaning toilets, paying bills and raising kids together, that happens in a real marriage.  It is easy to see that deep emotional intimacy between a spouse and another of the opposite sex wrong, however, if you’re investing emotional capital in a same-sex relationship at the peril of the marriage, then that is also dangerous.

In marriage the question is am I investing more time and emotional energy into my spouse than I am in a friend or child? Or, where is it that I’m investing most of my times and emotional energy?

A struggling friendship in marriage can be restored with intentional time together, sacrifice, perseverance, and especially prayer. A good first step is to find activities that you like to do together – and then make the time do it. Learn to make the priority of regular shared experiences that nurture friendship.