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What Truly Motivates You?​

In this season of new beginnings, all of us are contemplating change to one degree or another. We all want to change. We want to feel better or be better or look better. We want more money, more friends, more free time.

And all of these things are possible. They really are. But it takes work. There aren’t any shortcuts to change. Well, there are, but they are as rare as winning the lottery. We are convinced we want to change, but our behavior does not match our desire. Why?

The key to all of life is motivation. It is what transforms desire into action. Without motivation, we will give up. The key to progress is not understanding what we ought to do but understanding what truly motivates us.


There are really only two things that motivate us. The first being less effective than the second.
The first thing that motivates us is fear. We are afraid of all sorts of things – not being good enough, not receiving love, not being happy, etc. The fear of absence launches us into a pursuit of something.
Passion, in and of itself, is a kind of fear. We are emotionally charged about something. This is often a mask to spin our fear into something more positive and easily digestible. But it is fear nonetheless.

There are a few problems with fear as a motivator. The biggest, in terms of effectiveness, is that our fears crash onto one another. We’re afraid of not having something but we’re also afraid of failure. The result is a crippling kind of complacency. Apathy is the wreckage left over when our fears collide. Another problem with fear as a motivator is that it doesn’t really work. We want to be bold so we don’t have to be afraid. But boldness requires fear. We can never outrun the root causes of fear – that we aren’t in control and the world is bigger than us. So it won’t ever go away completely.



The other thing that motivates us is vision. The image we want to attain. Fear is using THP as a problem-solving mechanism. The trouble is that another problem will quickly rise in its place. But vision is the best process of inspiration, the best motivator for a fulfilled life.
Seeing where we truly want to go is the only way to navigate the obstacle course of fears. It is the only thing that pushes us forward when things get difficult, when expectations aren’t met, and when challenges get in the way.

Vision is not just a vague idea of a better future. It is a specific and intentional naming of what we deeply desire. In accordance with our values, our vision has to be true (the truest thing about who we are) in order to wade through the challenges. It is exactly this, the deep-rooted connection to our values, that motivates us. Because nothing is more important to us than our values. They matter more than our fear, our uncertainty, and the circumstances we face along the way.



Your 7 most important relationships.​

Your life will ultimately be defined by your relationships.
I learned this life-defining principle when I was a kid. My mom was a hospice nurse and I would occasionally tag along on her house calls as she compassionately cared for her dying patients. As I hung out with people who knew their time on earth was short, I was amazed at how similar their priorities were.

Whether we are rich or poor, young or old, black or white, male or female, educated or illiterate, when we come to the end of life, what matters most is remarkably similar for everyone. Love is all that matters.
I never heard a dying person talking about money, or hobbies or work or the stuff that tends to add stress to our daily lives. They wanted to be surrounded by people, not possessions. I learned that every joy a person has at the end of life will be the result of a relationship and every significant regret a person has will be the result of a failure in a relationship.

So, if life is truly defined by relationships, then how do we create stronger relationships?
Thankfully, God gives us the answer. He is the one who made love the central focus of life, and He’s also the one who shows us how to do it well in our relationships.

As I read the Bible (the World’s Greatest Relationship Manual), I see “7 Life-Defining Relationships” that are clearly taught throughout. Technically, every person on earth will fit into one of these seven relationships, which make sense, because we’re supposed to love everybody.
Love will look differently based on the nature of the relationship, so below are the seven relationships and the key to thriving in each of them. For more on these principles, plus other tools to help you build stronger faith, family and friendships, check out my new book “The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships”
7 laws of love #7lawsoflove quote Dave Willis

How to thrive in your 7 most important relationships:
1. Your relationship with God requires wholehearted devotion.
Your relationship with God is the foundation on which all other relationships are built. One of the most beautiful truths of the Bible (and life itself) is that God loves us. He wants to be in relationship with you. He doesn’t want to give you “religion”; He wants to give you a life of love.
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” —Matthew 22:37–38

2. Your relationship with your spouse (for those who are married) requires lifelong commitment.
Love, by its very nature, is a commitment (not a feeling). Of all human relationships, marriage is the one where the commitment of love is most sacred. Remember, a “perfect marriage” is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other!
“But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.” -1 Corinthians 7:10-11
For tools to help you build a rock-solid marriage, you can download our new Marriage App on iTunes by clicking here. A Facebook login is required to access the app.

marriageapp dave willis itunes
3. Your relationship with your family requires your time.
Time is the “currency of relationships,” so to invest in your family, you need to invest your time. They need more of your “presence,” not more of your “presents.” We display our love, honor and affection for our families by being there for them not just in the moments that are convenient for us, but the moments most important to them.
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” —Romans 12:10
4. Your relationship with your friends requires loyalty.

Loving your family means having their backs. A strong friendship isn’t made up of two strong people. It’s two people, devoted to each other, who take turns being strong for each other in the moments the other feels weak.
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” -Proverbs 17:17
5. Your relationship with your “neighbors” requires compassion.
In the Parable of the “Good Samaritan”, Jesus teaches that a good neighbor is one who has compassion and concern for his or her fellow neighbors (even if those “neighbors” are strangers who don’t live anywhere near your neighborhood).
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Galatians 5:14
6. Your relationship with yourself requires both confidence and humility.
God wants you to be confident in your eternal value in His eyes, but He also wants you to be humble enough to put others ahead of yourself. Humility doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself; it just means thinking of yourself less.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” -Philippians 2:3-5
7. Your relationship with your “enemies” requires grace and compassion.

It’s been said that “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies.” God wants to give you the strength to not just “tolerate” your enemies, but to genuinely love them. Only God’s grace can make this possible, but once we embrace it, we can find true peace. Read Jesus’ words about loving enemies here.
“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” -Romans 12:17-18



5 Ways to Restore Trust After an Emotional Affair​

Recently, many experts have written about the hazards of an emotional affair and how it can erode trust in a marriage. It is a form of betrayal that can capsize a couple’s sense of safety and security in no time. The media tends to portray betrayals as physical affairs; whereas an emotional affair can have the same detrimental impact on a romantic relationship.

If you are questioning whether you are enmeshed in an emotional affair, it’s important to define what they are. First and foremost, an emotional affair is characterized by an intimate connection with someone who isn’t your partner but the person takes on many of the functions of your partner. For instance, you spend a lot of time with him or her, you find yourself confiding in him/her, and you look to them for solace and support.
It’s key to acknowledge that in order for a relationship to qualify as an emotional affair, it usually involves a deep connection that is more than a friendship. Most emotional affairs involve secrecy from your partner. For instance, you find yourself not being completely honest about how much time you spend with this person, and the closeness of your bond, you are probably entangled in an emotional affair.

Many people embroiled in emotional affairs attest to the obsessive quality about them. For instance, they might find themselves having frequent sexual fantasies about them or waking up in the morning thinking about the person. Another red flag of an emotional affair is frequent text messaging or sharing private details about your intimate life with your partner.
The good news is that in contrast to infidelity that involves sexual betrayal, emotional affairs are usually less complicated and they can be ended more easily without severe breeches of trust in your partner. Following the guidelines below will help you rebuild love after an emotional affair.
5 tips for rebuilding love with your partner after an emotional affair:

  1. The betrayer must end their emotional affair. Stop spending time with the person who you’re having an emotional affair with. This may be a challenge if you work together or travel in the same circles put it’s a crucial step. In order to rebuild love with your partner you need to focus on restoring love, trust, and intimacy with them. This is impossible when you have one foot out the door.
  2. You must tell the person who you’re having an emotional affair with that it must end. If you need do so in person that’s okay as long as you keep it short, don’t offer excuses, and don’t reassure them or give false hope about the possibility of you resuming your connection.
  3. Be transparent with your partner about this relationship and your intention to stop seeing the person who you’re having an emotional affair with. Now is not the time to be coy – it’s best to be completely vulnerable and tell the whole truth, including any reasons why you pursued the emotional affair such as loneliness or unmet emotional needs.
  4. Look to your partner to satisfy some of the emotional needs that you were seeking to fulfill in the emotional affair. Take an inventory of all of the things you like about him or her so that you can work on filling these needs elsewhere – either with a close friend or your significant other. These qualities might include good listener, fun loving, or understanding.

  5. Recommit to your marriage and be patient with the process: This means that marriage requires a lot of effort and an intention to pay attention to your partners needs. John Gottman recommends that couples practice “turning towards” one another rather than away when they’re having communication difficulties. Spending 30 minutes a day in stress-reducing conversations can help you do this.

Keep in mind that your relationship with your partner needs to be a priority or you might find yourself slipping back into the same trap of seeking comfort and intimacy with another person. Carve out time to spend with your partner on a daily or weekly basis. Try a variety of activities that can bring you both pleasure. At some point, your actual partner may seem dull or compare unfavorably to the other man or women and you run the risk of seeing your partner in a negative light, or becoming easily frustrated with them if you don’t try to keep things interesting. Don’t forget to cuddle on the couch and surprise your partner with a kiss.



How I Painlessly Changed Myself and Changed My Marriage for the Better​

Do you argue about the same issues over and over again? Do you feel like nothing will ever change? Are you feeling hopeless, lonely and frustrated and you blame him?

I felt the same way until I learned something that changed everything.
Are you looking at this past year of marriage saying something’s got to change?

Are you asking yourself, “How can I change myself and change my marriage?” without being a doormat or being someone I’m not?
It’s possible. And I’m proof of it.
When I got married, I understood marriage to mean he’d do all he could to make me happy.
We’d split the household chores 50/50, he’d be attentive to my needs and he’d never complain about me.
It didn’t work out like that. In fact, it wasn’t working out at all.

I learned how to change everything​

We argued about the same issues over and over again. I constantly complained about him. I felt like nothing would ever change. And I was left feeling hopeless, lonely and frustrated. And I blamed him.

Until I realized I could do something to change everything.*
It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
What if you discovered you could love your husband and painlessly change your marriage?
You can love your husband and change your marriage. But:
  • You can’t change your marriage and constantly criticize him at the same time.
  • You can’t change your marriage and think you’re smarter than he is.
  • You can’t change your marriage when you have to be in control.
  • You can’t change your marriage when you can’t forgive him.
  • You can’t change your marriage when you fear he’ll fail you.

Seems like when you’re having a hard time, there’s no shortage of people who know exactly what you should do to fix your marriage. Everyone has good advice.
Some of the “good” advice is bad advice.
You can’t fix your marriage with “good advice.” You need the best advice in the world.
When I finally got that advice, I discovered everything I was doing to change my marriage was exactly opposite of what I needed to do.

You need the best advice in the world​

My strategy was to tell him what he needed to do to change to make our marriage better.
Wrong strategy.
You can love your husband and change your marriage.
You can love your husband even when you feel like he doesn’t deserve it.
You can love your husband even when society says you shouldn’t.
But you have to be willing to do things differently.
After five years of doubt and fear, the man I thought was wrecking my life became a man who cared deeply for my heart.
Sounds strange, but it happened.
My husband treats me like a princess. Not because I demand it, but because he wants to.

So what happen?
I learned six critical skills that took my marriage from hopeless to amazing.
I learned to:
  • Show gratitude
  • Give up control
  • Respect him
  • Communicate so he could hear me
  • Let him take care of me
  • Be vulnerable
Is it easy? No. But it works. These skills empowered me and seemed to make him fall in love with me all over again. They can work for you, too.
Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage will show you how.
The next session starts in February. I’d suggest enrolling now so you don’t miss out.
Get the incredible marriage you deserve.



Wisdom is Not an Age Thing​

When I was a teenager (and also as a college student), I was hit with the compliment, “you are wise beyond your years”. Like everyone else, I talked about spending time with older people to “learn from their wisdom”.

I really love and value older people. I honor their experience and the things they have learned. But I no longer think older people are wiser inherently because they have seen more of life.

When I was that teenager, getting that compliment, I would yearn for the days when I would become an adult. When wisdom would finally catch hold of my peers and people would not be as immature and petty as they are on a high school campus.

The most disappointing thing I have discovered as an adult is that, for many, age does not lead to wisdom. The correlation is not as direct as we pretend. We have mistaken the very real value in our culture of honoring those who are older and what they have been through with the assumption those experiences create (in and of themselves) a sense of wisdom.

What Experience Creates

So, the reason we think wisdom is linked to age is because of experience. We assume people learn from experience. We assume experience is the proving ground where people are faced with realities. Older people have experienced disappointment, pain, and perseverance to a greater degree than the novice. So, they can tell you more about how to survive, how to react to experience, and how diverse your experiences will be.

And that is extremely valuable! I can’t say this enough, it is worthy of our honor. But it does not necessitate wisdom.
Experience does not create wisdom. It creates opportunity. And some people, no matter how many opportunities you place before them, have not made the most of them.
For some, age can actually be a deterrent to wisdom. The decisions we make (when we are young) and the experiences we have (in childhood) create in us a kind of worldview, a set of predispositions, biases, and expectations. We start to form a narrative and a pattern of thought. Our first instinct, whenever we face a new experience, is to mold and shape it to match the narrative we have adopted.
In that regard, time and experience can bury us under prejudices and assumptions.

The Wisdom of Opportunity

There are plenty of older folks who have taken the opportunities life has given them and learned a great deal. There are plenty, maybe even most, who have discovered wisdom and can share that with the rest of us. But it is not inherent in their age. It is not an inevitable result of time and abundance of circumstance. It is a result of their choices.
The reason this is important is because wisdom is an opportunity for everyone. Today and everyday. Experience is a data point in our attempts at wisdom. But it certainly isn’t the only one.
All we have to do is look at the news to see people older than we are making poor choices, acting foolishly.

Foolishness in adults is no more prevalent than wisdom. It is all a matter of the individual and the choices they have made in the midst of their opportunities.
No matter what age you are, wisdom is available to you. Today! Right now. There are some things that only experience can teach, but wisdom is not one of them.
In fact, it is vitally important for you to pursue wisdom as a young person. When you get older, the choices you have made in your youth are the foundations for your patterns of thought and expectation. The more foolish these are, the more difficult they are to overcome. The wiser they are, the better prepared you are to experience truth and reality for all it is worth.



3 Signs that Your Relationship with Your Parents is HURTING your Marriage​

Our relationship with our parents is extremely important, and we need to show them tremendous love and respect. However, when we marry, our relationship with our parents cannot remain the same as it was when we were under their roof and single. Yet, so many married couples are suffering because they have failed to put healthy boundaries in place for their parents.

We love our parents, so it is understandable that setting boundaries for them can be difficult and even awkward. But, it must be done in order to have a thriving marriage. I’ve talked to numerous couples where this is a big problem. One spouse feels like setting boundaries would disrespect his/her parents in a way that would almost ruin their relationship. While the other spouse is grows resentful by the day because he/she feels as if he/she always has to take a backseat to the parents. He/she feels pushed aside and devalued. This causes tremendous friction between spouses because both feel like they are in a lose/lose situation.
Friends, the Bible is very clear when it comes to defining where our first loyalty should be when we marry. In Genesis 2:24 it says,

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
In other words, once we are married, our first loyalty must be to our spouse–not to our parents.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t care about our parents or listen to their guidance, but it does mean that we consult and care for our spouse BEFORE we go to our parents. We are called to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12)–not obey them–once we are adults and especially when we are married.
So, how can we tell if our relationship with our parents is hurting our marriage?

Here are 3 signs:

  1. You feel like you and your spouse can’t make a decision without calling your mom or dad and seeking their approval first.
There is a big difference between asking your parents’ advice and seeking their approval. Advice is something you consider, but approval is something you try to earn. And, this is a losing game when it comes to your marriage, because your parents’ approval of you isn’t always going to line up with the decisions that you and your spouse make together. Therefore, you don’t want to play that game.

Sure, we should seek our parent’s advice, especially when they have some specific wisdom on the issue. But, we need to stop trying to win their approval, and instead, focus on what God has called us to do as a married couple.

2. You feel guilty if you don’t tell your parents details of your marriage–even when your spouse has asked you to keep something between the two of you.

Again, we must give our first loyalty to our spouse. So, if he/she has asked us to NOT discuss something with our parents, then we need to honor that request. If not, we are going to lose our spouse’s trust, and trust is essential in a marriage. Therefore, we must do everything we can to protect it.

If our parents press us on the matter, then we must politely tell them that “we are working it out” or “I appreciate you wanting to help, but this is something the two of us need to figure out together”. Our parents may not like these responses, but they must respect these boundaries for our marriage to be strong and united. And, the more we continue to uphold these boundaries, the more our parents will learn to respect them and us as a married couple.

3. Your parents get angry with you when they don’t have a significant say in your personal schedule and your life as a couple.

I have seen this one nearly tear couples apart. There are tragic situations where one spouse’s parents request that their son/daughter attends family functions without his/her spouse. And, that goes completely against what marriage is all about. There are also frustrating situations where parents make demands on the married couple for a certain portion of their schedule that interferes with the couple’s daily life. Whenever parents make demands of any kind on their married children, it places the married children in a tough spot. And, it can cause some arguments, confusion, disappointment, and great anger inside the family. It’s an awful place to be.

However, our first loyalty must be with our spouse–not our parents. So, if your parents are constantly trying to control your schedule and interfere in your marriage, then you must lovingly tell them to stop. Tell them how much you love and respect them, but also tell them that you made a commitment to your husband/wife that you are trying to honor as best you can. Be firm, but loving. Explain to them that you must consider your spouse first in all your decisions, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t love and respect them as your parents.

Ask them to respect your marriage. If they refuse or continue to act angry, then let there be a little space and time between you until things cool down.
Pray about it. Ask God to bring peace to the situation, and He will. It will take some time and lots of understanding, but the peace will come and your relationship with your parents and spouse will become healthier and happier in the process.


Messin’ With Your Heroes

[ 1 min read ★ ]

Therefore be imitators of God—Ephesians 5:1

Really? Is it so wrong for us to emulate the life of another man or woman? Is it so wrong to hold another person up, as a role model? Well, the answer is (as it often is) . . . it depends. It depends on what exactly, in the person, we long to emulate. If it’s Christlikeness only—if it’s only how the person demonstrates Jesus Christ to us and to others—then, no, it’s not so wrong. We’re meant to be, for one another, physical examples of how to follow Jesus ever more closely. Watching another person move further into the character of Christ helps us move further, too. That’s how it’s supposed to work. The Apostle Paul wrote: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Too often, though, that’s not the way it actually works. Too often, we look up to men and women—and strive to emulate them—for the purpose of becoming more like them, and not more like Jesus. Too often, it’s worldly things that draw us in: a person’s success, their achievements, their talent, their career, their money, their power, their possessions. We men fall into this a lot. And the problem is the same whether the things coveted are secular or ecclesiastical in nature. We can lift any person too high: magnate or minister, entrepreneur or entertainer, priest or professor. We can lift them so high they begin to obscure Jesus.

Okay, so what do we do?

Hero worship is a sensitive subject. We men like our heroes. And we don’t like people to mess with them. We must be careful, though, that no person (great though they may be) gets between us and the ultimate hero. Examine your heart. Wrestle with the issue. Discuss it openly with some brothers—and with God, in prayer.



6 Ways To Get Over Fear Of Failure In Relationships​

Many people fear relationship failure. Authentic love may make you feel vulnerable because you fear the unknown or worry about when it will end. Putting trust in someone can make you feel exposed. You might even believe that the more you care about someone, the more at risk you are for being hurt.

Recently, I met with Blair, 29, who reflected, “The thought of commitment scares me, I just can’t see myself with Justin in the future. I know he wants to move ahead with the next phase of our relationship but I don’t think I’m ready. But I’m afraid of losing him.”
Blair is an outgoing professional who has been dating Justin for over two years and continues to question whether their relationship will work out. When Justin talks about their future together, Blair usually changes the topic or says she’s too busy to talk.

Truth be told, you don’t have to be a commitment-phobe to be afraid of losing someone you love. You can be walking on air and madly in love and yet fear that when you open yourself up to another person, they will hurt you and you will lose out on love.

Are you foolish to fear losing love? I don’t believe so and I’ve actually interviewed hundreds of women who share your fears. It can be strange wondering if intense love can lead to dwindling passion and even possible divorce.
Do you have fears about spending forever with someone even if you love that person? No matter how much you love someone, you may have misgivings some days and this is completely normal.
However, fear of relationship failure can hold you back and prevent you from being your best self. It can limit you by causing anxiety and fostering a pessimistic attitude about the future. Many times, even in the most blissful moments, there might be a lingering thought in the back of your head that your relationship may not work out, and that it will all come crashing down around you.

If you can relate to fearing relationship success, I ask you to consider the following: Know that no relationship is conflict free, but you are worthy of having a relationship that makes you happy. If you aren’t there yet, embrace where you are now.
What is it that holds you back from achieving a satisfying relationship? And once you have it, what will you do when you get there?
6 Tips to help you deal effectively with uncertainty in relationships:
  1. Face your fears. This is the first step to working through them. Talk to someone you trust, write in a journal, shed these feelings in a safe way.
  2. Accept that love is a risk. There are no guarantees in love. Accepting this will ease your sense of panic and help you to live in the moment.
  3. Survey your family and friends about love. If they are completely honest, most of them will admit that they fear—or have feared losing a loved one at some point in their life.
  4. Keep in mind that new love or commitment stirs up past hurts. When you fall in love it might trigger feelings of past hurt, loss, or rejection because we’re all impacted by our history.
  5. Challenge your thoughts that you aren’t good enough. Loving someone may make you question how lovable you are. You might ask yourself: am I good enough for this person who I love, admire, and appreciate so much? Switch these negative thoughts to positive ones such as: “The past has no hold over me and I am worthy of love.”
  6. Practice being vulnerable in small steps and talk to a therapist or close friend about your growth. Don’t let your fear of rejection or past hurt stop you from achieving the love and intimacy you deserve.

Fear of relationship failure can hold you back and prevent you from being your best self. The only way to avoid this is to risk being vulnerable with your partner by asking for help, standing up for yourself, sharing unpopular opinions, and having faith in yourself and your partner.
The ultimate risk is allowing yourself to fall in love—which requires letting go of control and fear of being hurt or abandoned. Opening up to your partner can make you feel vulnerable but is the most crucial ingredient in a loving, trusting, intimate relationship.



10 Ways Wives May Be Sabotaging Their Marriages​

It might not take a fatal blow– such as abuse or cheating– to destroy a marriage. There might not be any big blows at all but just a steady stream of nit pickiness, disrespect, criticism, sarcasm, and lack of boundaries that brings your marriage to a slow, painful end.

Are you killing your marriage without even knowing it?
I’ve been guilty of sabotaging my marriage. Not intentionally.

This Will Kill Your Marriage for Sure​

Here are 10 ways you might be killing your marriage using death by a thousand cuts.
1. Criticize, condemn and complain
Do you complain because your husband can’t do anything right? I was a great criticizer. It sounded something like this: Gee whiz. Do I have to do everything? All I asked you to do was to load the dishwasher. Can’t you even change a diaper? Enough criticizing, condemning and complaining will drain the life right out of your marriage.
2. Make sure he does his half
Maintain a 50/50 relationship. Fifty/fifty sounded like a great model for marriage to me. It sounded reasonable and fair: He does his half; I do mine. We meet somewhere in the middle. The problem with this type of arrangement is someone always feels like they’re getting the short end of the stick.

  • You begin keeping a record of deeds.
  • Love becomes conditional.
  • We start thinking: If he helped out with the kids more, I wouldn’t be so grumpy all the time. It’d be easier to love and respect him.
  • You start thinking, “He owes me.”
While 50/50 sounds good, it never works. When we go into marriage with a 100/100 mindset, our focus shifts from receiving to giving. Showing your husband unconditional love is important to maintaining a healthy marriage.
3. Don’t argue

Conflict is never fun, but learn how to deal with it.
God tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. He knows how He designed us. When we harbor unresolved conflict, it festers and turns into something nasty. It doesn’t go away. It grows. Talk it out, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

Take Care of Your Own Needs First

4. Be selfish
He can take care of himself, right?
Well, he didn’t marry you so he could take care of himself. Part of the benefit of a marital relationship is mutually caring for one another.
When you continually put the needs of others–your children, your family, your job, your friends– ahead of your husband, he’ll eventually get the message: He’s unimportant to you. His behavior and attitude will reflect that.
Put your husband first.
It may be inconvenient at times, but your marriage will grow stronger when he knows you’re on his side and you value him.
5. Forgive but don’t forget.
Let the offenses pile up. He hurt me, and he should have to pay.
The problem here is un-forgiveness breeds bitterness. As the offenses pile up, marital intimacy breaks down. As you work things out, be quick to forgive.

6. Don’t tell him you appreciate him
Your husband needs to hear you say you appreciate him. No matter how confident he seems, he still needs to hear regularly you appreciate the effort he puts into providing for you. If you’re the breadwinner, tell him you appreciate the effort he puts into the home or your kids. Your appreciation will bear fruit in your marriage.
7. Disrespect him (especially in front of your kids or other people)
Men need respect. This concept is hard for many women to understand. Respect to men is like love to us. He needs it. It’s almost as important as oxygen. He needs it to thrive. If your goal is to destroy your marriage, continually disrespect your husband and your chance of ending up in divorce court increases exponentially.

8 Ways to Communicate Disrespect​

Every marriage is different. Here are a few ways that almost always communicate disrespect:
  • Verbally criticize him
  • Undermine his decisions
  • Fail to acknowledge him when he comes home from work
  • Roll your eyes when he speaks, if you disagree
  • Act like his momma
  • Point out how stupid he is by challenging his decisions
  • Constantly criticize him in front of others
  • Encourage your kids to make fun of him

When you respect your husband, he’ll almost always respond in a loving way. Any man met with a constant barrage of insults will either emotionally shut down in a relationship or seek respect somewhere else.
8. Make sure he knows he’s got to pay to play
Use sex as a bargaining tool. This act is detrimental because men need physical affection from us. God designed them that way. Using sex as a bargaining tool or a way to control him may encourage him to go someplace where he doesn’t have to work so hard to get his needs met.
9. Refuse to let him treat you like a woman
Women aren’t designed to be like men. Many hallmarks of the feminist movement are counter-intuitive to a healthy marriage. Don’t let your man be a man when it suits you. Allow him to care for you and treat you like a woman as he is wired to do.
10. Don’t make room in your life for God
The closer I am to God, the closer I’ll be to my husband. God designed it that way. When you’re focused on pleasing God, it doesn’t matter what your husband does because your actions aren’t contingent upon his. You love and respect your husband because God tells you to do so, not because he deserves it.
Strong marriages don’t just happen.

They’re created when couples focus on the kind of relationship they want to build.
Encourage him, learn to resolve conflict, and put his needs first are all relationship builders.
I’m naturally selfish, so the only way I can successfully focus on others is to focus on Christ first. When my eyes are focused upward, I naturally move closer to my husband.
In which of these ways are you sabotaging your marriage?



The Devil Is In The Giving Up​

As a good church-going kid, I was always a little afraid of the devil. I was afraid he was going to jump up out of nowhere and steal away the things that matter most to me.

Even people who do not believe the devil is a real thing have this fear. That there is something negative waiting around the corner to destroy the things we hold dear.

Even though we may not say it this way, I believe modern America thinks the devil is in failure. That if we make a mistake, we are done for. If we let people see our imperfections, our struggles, it will be the end of us.


One of the professors at the college we work at often says that perfectionism is the only sin we commit outright and are celebrated for. The worst thing one can say when asked about what they did that day is, “nothing”. We wear our stress and our over-commitment as a badge of honor. We imagine having too much to do is affirming because there is so much we are good at, so many people and things vying for our attention. It is the self-serving cult of personality and we lap it up even as it destroys us.

This is just a symptom of the greater disease. The real affliction is the need to keep a façade of perfection. Failure is a stiff wind to our house of cards.
As such, we avoid it at all costs. Even if that means bending the truth or hurting others.
Satan is not trying to get us to make a mistake. He is more clever than that. Satan is trying to reinforce our perspective that mistakes are not okay. He is trying to pile on the narrative that we have to have it all figured out, know everything, and be okay all of the time. He knows the pressure is enough to destroy us. It turns us into addicts. It silences us in a crowd. The weight of perfection is the devil’s subtle whisper.

Fighting with Perseverance

We think we need to be all-the-time victorious in order to defeat the devil. The reality is we need to be all-the-time fighting in order to beat the devil.

Evil only wins by forfeit. It wins when we give in to it because we are tired of the better way. We are tired of the disappointment, confusion, and effort that goes with a life well-lived.
We have believed the lie that struggle equals failure. But struggle is also a part of success. The road to meaning is paved with failure. Evil does not win when we encounter disappointment or mistakes. It wins when our disappointment and mistakes leads us to giving up.

Success in this life is to continue to struggle with courage and vision. When we lose sight of where we are going and start to look for shortcuts because we assume things should be easier, we are on the slippery slope toward giving in.
Failing is a part of life. Imperfection is a part of reality. Having it all figured out is a false-narrative, a trap meant to destroy us and strip us of our worth.
All it takes to defeat evil and the influence of evil is perseverance. Don’t give up.



God’s Gifts Are Tailor-Made For You​


By Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
Someone who had been blessed by our church once gave me the gift of a custom-made, hand-tailored suit as a way of expressing appreciation. I wondered if the person was subtly suggesting that my wardrobe needed help or simply knew this was an indulgence that I would not splurge on.

I accepted graciously and made an appointment at the men’s shop, a discreetly hidden little storefront in a gentrified area near downtown, and had no idea what to expect.

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Inside the shop I felt as if I had stepped back in time, returning to the turn of the twentieth century, when every gentleman owned at least one fine suit, and often only one suit, for weddings, funerals and special occasions.
The place had oak paneling and high ceilings, a faded Turkish rug gracing the hardwood floor, and built-in shelves covering an entire wall with bolt after bolt of fabric stacked like giant books. The sartorial little shop even smelled manly and old-fashioned with the blended scent of bay rum, leather and cedar.
Based on the surroundings, I expected the tailor to be a silver-haired gentleman in a three-piece suit with a pocket watch and British accent.
Instead, a young Latino man emerged from the back room wearing jeans, suede kicks, earbuds and what appeared to be a lab coat with lots of pockets.


“Hola!” he said with a broad smile. “You must be Pastor Sam. A pleasure to meet you!”
My new friend introduced himself as Emilio. He then asked me to describe the kind of suit I would like, both in terms of what I envisioned and the purposes it would serve for various occasions. When I told him I had not really thought about it, he made it clear that I was going to start thinking about it very carefully.
Did I want a classic, more traditional suit, like something I could wear to the White House?
Or maybe something a little hipper and more stylish for when I took my wife out for a nice dinner?
Did I prefer a dark, neutral color or something fresher and less predictable?

Solid, striped, plaid?
Would I be traveling in it and need something synthetic and less prone to wrinkling?
Or would this be for special occasions only, which would allow for natural wool blends?

My expert guide then proceeded to explain the process and the multitude of choices available and decisions to be made for my new suit. While I am a strong believer in the adage that God is in the details, I had no idea just how many holy details go into making a man’s jacket and pair of pants.
Eva had offered to accompany me, but aligning our schedules proved challenging, so I thanked her and said, “How hard can it be, right?”
Emilio proved a godsend.

He guided me toward an Italian blended wool fabric, navy with subtle lighter blue pinstripes. From there, he showed me various finished suits and let me point to the details I wanted for my own. Pockets, lapels, cuffs, buttons, buttonholes—I even got to choose the fabric for the lining!

With the apprentice helping, Emilio then took my measurements and told me my new suit would be ready in four to six weeks. While I thought the process that afternoon had taken a long time, I realized that that was nothing compared to the actual cutting, assembling and sewing the two matching garments.

Ordering online usually promises quick gratification with two-day delivery, but a suit made just for me apparently required almost two months.
Just when I had almost forgotten about my suit, Emilio called to inform me it was ready. As excited as a kid on Christmas morning, I could not wait to see the finished product—and I was not disappointed.

My new suit proved as comfortable as my favorite jeans and sweatshirt. Emilio and his staff marveled at their creation. It fit me perfectly.
All those details Emilio had pressed me to choose paid off: It was neither too loose nor too tight; neither too stiff nor too soft. I could not believe how much better these garments fit than what I was used to wearing.
Needless to say, I feel a surge of confidence wearing this suit that I have never experienced with my usual off-the-rack brands. Which is only natural, after all, because this suit was made for me and me alone.

There is not another one like it in the world.
While I remain grateful for the generous gift from my benefactor, I share this experience with you to make this point: God’s mantle of promotion for your life requires time in order to give you a perfect fit, but it is more than worth the wait.

This advent, let’s express gratitude to God as the ultimate benefactor of blessings, and his gifts that are so clearly tailor-made for our lives.


The 2m Radius Challenge

[ 1 min read ★ ]

Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts:
Consider your ways—Haggai 1:5

God loves us with fierceness and tenderness. The scope of his love is shocking. It’s infinite, in fact—because he is. It burns bright and hot and true. We couldn’t ever plot it on a graph, of course—because no one could draw a y-axis that high or an x-axis that long; no page, no screen could ever contain it. But if we could plot his love, the line would be high and perfectly flat. It wouldn’t fluctuate over time. Not in response to our actions, our best or even our worst. Not even a little (Psalm 103:8; Lamentations 3:22-23).

But He does tell us what kind of actions he most prefers, the kind that bring joy—to us and to him. And it’s less about hours logged in pews on Sundays or how many times we read through the Gospels. What regulates his joy—and ours—is how we treat people around us. It’s if we’re kind, and how well we notice and meet the needs of people in our close proximity.

"Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity" (Luke 6:37-38 MSG).

Okay, so what do we do?

Throughout your day, today, imagine a circle—one with a 2-meter radius, you at the center. Notice who comes into that circle. Learn their names. Treat them with care and notice their needs—friendship, mercy, love, hope—and consider how you might help meet those needs.

(There’s nothing special about 2m. What matters is increasing intentionality. And, truly, a man could spend his entire lifetime just trying to meet the needs of people who’d come into his 2m circle—so, it’s a good place to start.)



7 Things To Do When Your Kids Disappoint You​

My Great-Grandfather raised nine kids. Reflecting back on his years of parenting, he said, “When your kids are little, they step on your toes. When they get big, they step on your heart.”

If you’re a parent, there will be times when your kids let you down, hurt your feelings or even break your heart. There were certainly plenty of times we let our parents down along the way too! How we deal with those disappointments is one of the most critical decisions and defining moments of parenthood. Our longterm relationships with our kids will be directly shaped by how we react in our moments of disappointment over our kids’ choices.

Every child is unique, and every parent is different, so it’s difficult to prescribe a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach, but I’m going to do my best by drawing on some timeless wisdom from the Bible and the life experience of many people with decades more experience that I possess. I hope these principles will help us all as we navigate the most beautiful (and most challenging) task we’ll ever have…Parenthood!

7 things to do when your kids disappoint you (in no particular order):
1. Love them.
Never let your kids feel that your love is conditional and based on their behavior. Your unconditional love must be the foundation for your relationship and always let them know that your love for them is bigger than their biggest mistake. Always communicate your love for them before AND after you communicate any disappointment in their behavior.

2. Tell them plainly why their behavior was out-of-bounds.
This will clearly look different based on whether your correcting a two-year-old child or reasoning with a twenty-year-old son or daughter. In either case, don’t rely on non-verbals to get your point across. Tell them plainly what they did and why it hurt you or damaged your trust in them.
3. Admit your own shortcomings.
Some people adopt a theory of parenting where we should never show weakness or admit imperfection, because it would somehow discredit our authority as parents. I believe that nothing discredits a person faster than pretending to be perfect. Kids aren’t looking for perfection, but they are looking for authenticity. If you’ll talk about your own struggles and faults, your kids (at any age) will be more willing to open up and accept responsibility for their own poor choices.

4. Temporarily remove some freedoms*.

Again, this will obviously look different based on the child’s age and the nature of the offense, but temporarily giving up some freedoms is an important part of the process. When my son broke his arm, he had to wear a cast and restrict his freedoms to allow healing to take place. When trust is broken (just like a broken arm), some freedoms must be temporarily given up to allow the healing process to begin.

*With this delicate part of the process, think “loving correction” instead of “punishment.” When we “punish” we’re often motivated by causing pain because we’ve been caused pain or our pride was wounded. Corrective discipline is still uncomfortable for all parties involved, but it comes from a place of love and a desire for restoration; not from a place of pride or anger with a desire to cause pain.

5. Allow them the opportunity to make it right.

Give your child the opportunity to make amends towards anyone who may have been hurt through their actions. When one of our kids taught the neighbor kid a cuss word, I walked with him to the neighbor’s house and made him apologize for what he’d done to the boy’s parents. It’s was an awkward and difficult moment (for me too!), but it was also a moment of growth and those neighbors gained respect for him, because he was willing to admit fault and humbly ask for forgiveness.

6. Forgive them.

Let them know that you’re not going to hold this infraction over their heads or use it as leverage or as a way to continuously punish them. You’re forgiving them freely and fully, embracing God’s grace and working with them to restore healing and trust. It often takes time to rebuild trust, but forgiveness can and should be given immediately.

7. Pray.

You can’t pray for your kids too much. When possible, pray with your child (out loud) and let you child hear you thanking God for him/her, confessing the sin and embracing the limitless grace and healing God’s love makes possible. Even if your child is grown and out of the house, pray for him/her and send a text message right afterwards just to say, “I’m praying for you. I love you. I’m so thankful to be your Mom/Dad.”



Five Things Healthy Couples Do EVERY Day​

After observing the habits of healthy couples from all over the world, I’m convinced that the healthiest couples share some important, daily habits. Below are five habits of happy, healthy couples. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but these five are a really good start. If you’ll implement these in your own marriage, I believe you’ll see some instant improvements!

1. Show physical affection to each other.

When couples stop touching each other regularly, this is a huge warning sign that “relational drift” is happening in the marriage. Physical touch is a powerful and practical way to stay connected, and I’m not just talking about sex (although you should be prioritizing your sex life too). Hold hands, give a foot rub, put your arm around each other, kiss often, hold each other, give a flirty smack on the butt, and look for ways to show physical affection every day.
2. Have an uninterrupted conversation with each other.
If you’re like me and you’ve got young kids at home, this one can be really difficult, but it’s also really important! Make some time daily (probably after the kids are asleep), where your phones are off and there’s nothing distracting you from meaningful, engaging conversation with each other. Communication does for your marriage what breathing does for your lungs!

3. Display thoughtfulness to each other.
You don’t have to bring home a dozen roses every day (though doing it occasionally would be nice), but daily thoughtfulness should always be a priority. Send text messages and give quick phone calls throughout the day to just to let him/her know they’re on your mind. Pick up their favorite coffee or snack and deliver it unexpectedly. Do a chore at home that your spouse would normally do. Look for little ways to serve each other.
4. Laugh with each other.
Laughter should fill the soundtrack to your marriage. When it isn’t happening often, that’s another warning sign that you need to make some adjustments. Even in difficult seasons (especially in difficult seasons), find reasons to laugh and celebrate together. Life has enough “drama” already, so work together to create some more comedy!

5. Say “I love you” with your words AND your actions.
Love needs to be communicated clearly and consistently. The healthiest couples make this a daily priority. Never leave your spouse wondering about your level of love and commitment to him/her. Let your love be obvious through everything you say and everything you do. Never let a day go by without saying, “I love you.”



5 Types Of Nonsexual Affairs You Probably Didn’t Know About​

An affair is the violation of the marriage contract that occurs when the spouse is replaced by someone or something else. It is one of the worst things that can happen to a marriage because it violates everything you’ve built with a partner in such a personal way. We are often blindsided by these relationships because we didn’t see it coming. You might not have physically cheated on your spouse, but have you had an affair in a different way? There a number of unexpected types of affairs that can become a diving point in a marriage.

They are less obvious ways for us to be unfaithful than by committing adultery. In these, you’ll find the same patterns of decreasing dependence in the marriage, emotional transfer to someone or something else, and the final crisis of making the decision either to rescue the marriage or to abandon it for the looming alternative. Before you know it, you’re so deep down the rabbit hole, you’re not sure how or if you’re willing to even pull yourself out. Here are five types of nonsexual affairs you probably didn’t know about.

Emotional Infidelity​

It might have started with a conversation online, or with a seemingly innocent friendship in the workplace. It may have even begun with an uncomplicated thought: Unlike my spouse, this person really understands me. When there are problems in your relationship, you or your partner may look to someone else to fill the void. You begin to share intimate and confidential information about your relationship and ask your “friend” for advice.

These romances may seem harmless – perhaps even “safe” alternatives to cheating on your spouse but these affairs are especially dangerous because they often lead to physical affairs and a whole lot of denial along the way. There is often a lesser degree, or absence of guilt and shame, justified as innocent fun due to the lack of physical contact. They may not initially lead to physically involvement, but they can still devastate marriages.

Family of Origin​

The term “family of origin” refers to the family that you grew up in – your parents and siblings. It may also include a grandparent, other relative or divorced parents who lived with you during part of your childhood. These people strongly influence who we become. Some people never allow themselves to reach the level of absolute attachment and commitment of true love because they do not allow their lover to become the most important person in their lives. Instead, their attachment to their family members makes them so controlled by their original family that their lovers never take their rightful places in their hearts.

Typically, this type of affair is hard to recognize as an unhealthy relationship because it involves your family. Some signs of unhealthy attachments include neglecting other relationships because of a preoccupation or compulsion to be in the relationship, or when there’s a conflict or disagreement in your relationship, you feel extreme anxiety, fear or a compulsion to fix the problem.


There is no way we can talk about physical affairs without talking about mental affairs. It is one of the biggest problems destroying marriages today. Having a mental affair is to look with an intentional and conscious desire to gratify lust; to picture situations in the mind; to think cheating in the mind with a person to the point that if the opportunity were presented you would commit the physical act. These can also be considered the “Just-In-The-Head” affair. How can it be considered an affair if there’s no sex? Often, one or both parties doesn’t want to disrupt or leave the primary relationship, or “mess it up” so they choose to keep it platonic. That level of intimacy and intensity makes it an affair of the mind. It is definitely more than a friendship. They also must hope their primary partners continue to believe their telling the truth about the dynamic of their relationships.


Could a thing as good as a friendship break up a marriage? Yes, it can happen. A person can get so caught up and thoroughly involved – nonsexually – with a friend that they leave their spouse. People in these affairs believe that their friendship is more fulfilling and emotionally valuable than their marriages. Good friends respect your physical and emotional connection to your significant other. Good friends foster a positive relationship between you and your partner: they don’t get in the way. One thing to look out for is how they acknowledge a person’s significant other. If you mention your spouse to that friend, do they change the subject? Do they ever ask how your partner is doing? If you keep referencing your mate, and the other person keeps acting like he or she doesn’t exist, it’s because they don’t want them in your life.


A visual affair is the act of committing adultery with your eyes. This can be with a person you know, and it can also be with a person you’ve never met before, but fantasize about. The typical affair used to the start in the office and move to a seedy motel room, but the vast reach of the internet has brought infidelity into many couples’ homes. The growth in steamy social media and chat room conversations, in addition to online pornography, has triggered a rethinking of the meaning of infidelity. It’s often deceiving and easy for those doing it to not think seriously of because they’re not committing a physical act. Many people think as long as they aren’t physically touching someone other than their spouse, they are not being unfaithful. But the more you commit visual adultery, the more likely you are to end up physically cheating on your partner.

Just because there is no physical contact doesn’t mean it isn’t an affair. These five forms of infidelity are some of the easiest ways to damage a relationship. Sometimes the harm is so great, the marriage can seem beyond repair. The reason these affairs are so hard to work through is because it destroys trust, which is the foundation to any healthy and working relationship. Infidelity can collapse even the strongest bonds and destroy your relationship from the inside out. Though you may not think these offenses are that serious now, if you continually participate in these forms of cheating, they can have some devastating consequences.



Making Peace With Your Parents​

My parents weren’t perfect. They loved us deeply and were doing the best they could, but they didn’t always make the best decisions—and there have been times in my life when I found myself repeating the mistakes they made.

I needed to make peace with their faults and shortcomings, and I had to use that knowledge to keep myself from failing in the same way they failed.

That’s a significant challenge because people have a hard time admitting their parents weren’t perfect. “I really can’t blame my mom,” someone will say in a counseling session. “She was a wonderful mother. It’s really all my fault.”
Rarely is that statement true, because our parents influence us more than anyone else.
When there are things your family did right, remember those things and brag about them to your friends. But don’t be afraid to acknowledge where your parents messed up—then forgive your parents for being human.

Forgive them for the ways they hurt you.
Forgive them for the times you felt ignored, slighted, or disrespected.
Forgive them for the days that they were too distracted by their own problems to meet your needs.

Forgive them for the times they embarrassed you in front of your friends.
Forgive them for the times that they leaned on you instead of letting you lean on them.
Forgive for the moments they weren’t there for you, when they forgot to pick you up from school or didn’t make it to your big recital.
Forgive them for the devastating things, like abandonment, abuse, and addiction.

Yes, that kind of forgiveness is so hard to do, but remember these words I once heard: “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it just makes you free.”
Jesus put it another way. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27–28, 31).

When we refuse to forgive, that past offense becomes an invisible cord connecting us to the person who did us wrong. It attaches us to that pain. It keeps us plugged in to the bitterness and anger and resentful feelings.

We must cut that cord or we’ll never be free. We’ll never more forward.
With forgiveness, we empty the hurt pockets in our lives. We release judgment. We bring all accounts back to zero. We offer it unconditionally, without worrying about remorse or responsibility.

Regardless of the offense, the only thing we can control is our part in offering forgiveness. So forgive your parents. Say their names aloud and pray blessings over them, like Jesus commanded. Do it every day if you have to.
This kind of forgiveness is the secret to emotional and spiritual freedom, and the only way to truly make peace with your past.



Why Won’t My Spouse Change?​

In Ephesians 5:22-33, the Apostle Paul gives God’s blueprint for a successful marriage. It describes the ideal husband, who loves his wife as Christ loves the Church. It describes the ideal wife, who honors and submits to her husband “as to the Lord.”

When couples come to me for counseling, I share this passage with them, and we always agree that a marriage based on these roles would be healthier and holier. But while husbands and wives are always ready for their spouse to commit to their biblical roles, making a change in themselves can be much more difficult.

Why is this? I’ve identified three reasons people resist making big changes to their own lives.
  1. Fear of Going First
I’ll do it when she does it. Or, I’m not changing until he does. They are reluctant to transform their own lives until their spouses change. This is because it makes them vulnerable, and they are afraid of being taken advantage of.
What if I submit to him and then he walks all over me? What if I give myself up for her and she becomes even more of a control freak? Relationships already marked by pride and hurt tend to result in this kind of stubborn standoff.
  1. Societal Influence
Why do men turn into selfish, pseudo-macho egomaniacs instead of sacrificial overseers? Because that’s the model of manhood our culture likes to show us. Why do women react with hostility to the idea of submission? Because radical feminism has loaded that word with such negative baggage.
But if we believe that the Bible really does have the blueprint for a successful marriage, then we must pursue these roles as a test of faith. A sacrificial husband and a submissive wife may cut against society’s grain, but they will be rewarded with deep satisfaction in their marriage.
  1. Lack of Belief

Sometimes husbands and wives fight their biblical role because they just don’t believe it will work. “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” the author of Hebrews wrote, “because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith in God’s Word is the only logical choice for any Christian. If we believe the Bible, then we should do what it says. If our marriage isn’t working, then we should follow the roles the Bible prescribes for a healthier marriage.

Are you attempting, each day, to live as your spouse’s ideal mate as described in Ephesians 5:22-33? If not, what keeps you from fulfilling those roles?
If it is fear of going first, then trust God to lovingly bring your spouse along beside you as you are personally transformed by the power of God.
If it is fear of what society says, then ask yourself: Is what the world thinks of me more important than a successful marriage?
If it is lack of belief, then ask God to strengthen your faith in Him, in His word, and in His plan for you and your spouse.



Where Do My Feelings Come From?​

Like most of you, I’ve rarely questioned where my feelings come from. Does it really matter? They are there. That is undeniable and unavoidable.

People talk so much about “controlling” emotions or even “managing” our feelings. There are some things we can do to lessen the blow and minimize the damage, but I am starting to explore the idea that where our feelings come from are actually a vital part of the process.

If we can figure out the source of our feelings, we can use them more effectively.


Doesn’t it seem like our emotions are a result of external stimuli? That they begin with some event or circumstance, some comment or action that originates outside of ourselves?
It is clear this is the prevailing wisdom. I know it is clear because of the language we use. My wife did something that made me angry. Something that happens on the news makes me sad. I won the lottery and it led to my happiness. Geesh, even our counselors ask, “how does that make you feel?”

We have internalized a narrative in which the external circumstances we encounter are responsible for our actions.
What if this isn’t the case? What if our emotions come from some place more personal? What if we own, and even – to a degree – decide on our emotions?

My Anger

The true source of our feelings is from the inside. My feelings belong to me. I am responsible for them.
My emotions are tied to my values. That is the true source of my emotion. The process of feeling begins with the question: what really matters to me? If the affirmation of others matters to me, I will have an emotional response when I think it is not happening. If money matters to me, I will feel certain ways when I gain or lose it. If those things don’t matter to me, I won’t feel anything.
Our values are personal. They are ours. Sure they are influenced by the people and experiences we encounter. But in the end, values are the core of who we are and at some point along the way, we have taken ownership of what we value.

Those external circumstances are triggers. They ignite an awareness that values are being pressed. They point to our emotions; they don’t cause them – at least not in the traditional sense. The circumstance is not to blame. It is just the catalyst.

The complication comes when trying to make sense of what we really value and what our emotion is saying about it. If I value honesty and someone tells me something I don’t think is true, my emotions might ignite in a variety of ways. Will my emotion be negative because I disagree or positive because (although I disagree) a friend has told me their honest assessment? Or, will my emotion be negative because of something I realize I need to change within myself but don’t want to? Will my emotion be positive because it is reinforcing a superficial manifestation of my value?

It is all very complicated. The trick is to treat our emotions in proper context. It is telling you a value is being pressed. It is telling you something that matters within you needs to be noticed. What to think about your value and what to do in response are separate issues. Your emotion can’t really help with that. It just gets in the way at that point.

Accepting, and owning, that our emotion belongs to us is the first step toward making better choices. When we realize our value system is the source of our emotions, it changes how we interact with our thoughts, feelings, and actions, as well as how we interact with our fellow man.



Encouraging One Another Through The Holiday Season​

Encouraging One Another Through the Holiday Season​

Colossians 4:7-18​

During the Christmas holidays, people will send various greeting cards to many people. The purpose of the greeting card is to encourage other people during the holidays. Here, we see that Paul is writing in this section one large greeting card addressed to different people. How would you use your greeting card to encourage others during this holiday season? You know that you don’t have to stop with just greeting cards. You can encourage others who need to hear and read a word of encouragement during this holiday season.

This section is made with a set of greetings. Like a set of greeting cards, Paul shares words of encouragement with others. Since as Christians spread the good news, we should encourage one another.
This section deals with various people in the church. Paul lists groups of people who are associated with the church at Colossae. He shares important insights about each group listed. His purpose is to remind the church that they should encourage one another. Why? Because life is challenging. We all go through various challenges and we need to encourage one another.


1. Encourage others who serve – Tychicus​

The first example of someone I need to encourage are those who serve around me.
“Tychicus, our dearly loved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and so that he may encourage your hearts.” (Colossians 4:7–8, CSB)

Tychicus is an example of a servant. Tychicus encouraged others by serving. He was very dependable. He served Paul and helped him in his work. He also served other people and the churches. Paul sent Tychicus on various missions to different churches:
“When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me in Nicopolis, because I have decided to spend the winter there.” (Titus 3:12, CSB)

“I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.” (2 Timothy 4:12, CSB)
There are people whom God sends in our lives to whom we become servants. He can encourage other people by the way we serve them.

2. Encourage others to grow in their faith – Onesimus​

A second example of people I need to encourage as a Christian, who are new to the faith.
“He is coming with Onesimus, a faithful and dearly loved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.” (Colossians 4:9, CSB)
Onesimus is an example of someone who is younger in the faith. He was from Colossae and he was new to the faith.

Paul also mentioned Onesimus (“one of you”) who himself came from Colossae. He was the runaway slave who belonged to Philemon and who had been won to Christ through Paul’s ministry in Rome. Paul sent Onesimus back to his master with a letter asking Philemon to receive him and forgive him. It is interesting to note that Paul also called Onesimus faithful and beloved. Onesimus had been a believer only a short time, and yet he had already proved himself to Paul.

3. Encourage others through difficult times – Aristarchus​

Aristarchus stayed with Paul during what seemed like very difficult times. He stayed with Paul during thick and thin. He was probably a prisoner of war, who understood what imprisonment was like. Aristarchus stayed with Paul no matter what the circumstances were—a riot in Ephesus, a voyage, a storm, or even a prison.1

4. Encourage others through times of failure – Mark​

Mark failed Paul earlier in ministry. Paul makes a special note here to encourage and welcome Mark when he comes. Mark is a reminder of people who have failed you in the past. People who have made mistakes need encouragement as well. They may feel sensitive about their failures and they need to be encouraged to continue in the faith and ministry.
“Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11, CSB)

5. Encourage others to build bridges and work together – Justus​

Justus, Mark, and Aristarchus were all Jews. Luke, Epaphras and Demas were all Gentiles. So here in this letter, we have a reminder that we need to encourage other people, even if they are different than ourselves.
In other words, Paul may well be declaring that some are now cooperating with him as a result of an ecumenical agreement. I intuit from “co-workers for the kingdom of God” a closer than competitive kind of mission with “those who were of the circumcision.”2

Paul makes the claim that these people were co-workers for the kingdom of God, even though they were Jewish. In today’s context, that shows that there will be people whom we work with who have different flavors of Christian belief, yet they want the same goal: to encourage others in the faith. We should be willing to encourage others even they see the Bible differently.

Language, national animosities, and differences in religion and culture had divided the world of that day into hostile camps which could only be held together by the sword. Here under Paul’s aegis both camps were meeting together willingly and lovingly—an amazing unity!3
We need to be reminded that as Christians, we are in the business of building bridges with others, not dividing into different camps. When it comes to encouraging others, race, differences in opinion, and differences in religion and culture should not destroy the unity in the church. We should not use these forms of separation to discourage one another.

6. Encourage others through prayer – Epaphras​

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. He is always wrestling for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. For I testify about him that he works hard for you, for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12–13, CSB)
Epaphras was a prayer warrior. You and I can pray for other people. Epaphras gives us a model prayer warrior. What were the characteristics of his prayer life?


1. Pray constantly (“always”)
Epaphras is an example of someone who prayers with devotion. He prayed not only when he felt like it. He did not pray when he was told to pray. He consistently prayed.

“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2, CSB)
2. Pray fervently (“laboring fervently”)
“Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, CSB)
Like Jesus, Epaphras was in agony as he prayed. This is the same word used to describe athletes as they give themselves to sports. If church members today put as much concern and enthusiasm into their praying as they did into sports, we would have revival!
3. Pray personally (“for you”)
Epaphras interceded for the Christians in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. He prayed for people by name.
4. Pray definitely
Epaphras had a desire that these three churches may mature in their Christian faith.

7. Encourage others through faithfulness – Luke​

Luke is faithful to the end of Paul’s ministry. He continued to encourage and helped Paul through Paul’s final imprisonment.
“Luke, the dearly loved physician, and Demas send you greetings.” (Colossians 4:14, CSB)
“Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my coworkers.” (Philemon 24, CSB)

“Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11, CSB)

8. Encourage others now no matter what the future may hold – Demas​

In contrast to the faithfulness of Luke, Paul reminds us to encourage others, even when you don’t know how faithful they may be. Demas was a fellow laborer who later was caught up and loved the world, so he abandoned the faith.
“because Demas has deserted me, since he loved this present world, and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” (2 Timothy 4:10, CSB)
Demas thought that he could serve two masters, but eventually he had to make a decision; unfortunately, he made the wrong decision.4
Demas is an example of someone who we can encourage, but whom we will never understand why things happen in their lives.

9. Encourage those who work with other churches – Nympha​

I need to encourage as a Christian are those who serve alongside me in other churches. As a church, we need to encourage the work of the Gospel in other churches. Churches need to encourage the work of other churches. Paul did that by asking this church to pass along the word to other churches.
“For I testify about him that he works hard for you, for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:13, CSB)

“Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her home. After this letter has been read at your gathering, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:15–16, CSB)
Churches should not be in competition. Instead, we are called to be in cooperation to share the Gospel.

10. Encourage others to stay on mission – Archippus​

Archippus has some work that God has commissioned him for the church. Whether it is financial, pastoral, or a form of evangelism, there are people whom we can encourage to continue in the ministry God has called them.
“And tell Archippus, “Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so that you can accomplish it.”” (Colossians 4:17, CSB)
“to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your home.” (Philemon 2, CSB)

I saw them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a dusty town.
With a “yo heave ho” and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and the sidewall fell.
I asked the foreman if these men were as skilled

As the men he’d hire, if he were to build.
He laughed and said, “Oh, no indeed.
Common labor is all I need.”
For those men can wreck in a day or two,
What builders had taken years to do.
I asked myself as I went my way,
Which kind of role am I to play?

Am I the builder who builds with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Or am I the wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the role of tearing down?5
What kind of encourager are you?

1 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 149-150.
2 Scot McKnight, The Letter to the Colossians, ed. Ned B. Stonehouse et al., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018), 390.
3 R. Kent Hughes, Colossians and Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ, Preaching the Word (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1989), 148.

4 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 152–153.
5 Michael P. Green, ed., Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively, Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989).



A Weary, Weary World Rejoices​

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees; O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

Tonight, we are reminded that no pandemic, no economic crisis, no stressful #2023 craziness can ever change or compete with the breathtaking fact of Jesus.
Tonight, all over our weary world, people of every age, every color, every social status are coming before that baby in the manger. Perhaps looking for comfort, peace, answers, provision, healing or a better world in 2024 – or perhaps they are simply bowing in worship and thanksgiving. Maybe it is all of the above. But they are all coming before Him.
We are all coming before Him.

Just stop and really picture that for a moment in your mind’s eye. Set down your baking cookbook and your end-of-year financial logs and capture that image. Picture the fields and cottages of rural China. The penthouses of New York. The crowded apartments of Kiev. The factory towns of middle America. The multi-generational homes of Nigeria, Brazil, and Armenia. Even the private spaces of a starving, isolated, North Korea. And in all of them, the world is hushed, the surface things of life have fallen away, and all are bowing in reverence.

Some might wonder why. Why this devotion to a child born 2,000 years ago?
One word captures it all. Emmanuel. “God with us.”
Have any of us truly understood what that really means? It isn’t about a sky suddenly filled with the heavenly host – as thrilling as that image is! It isn’t about a star miraculously guiding wise men to a baby. It is about the fact that Jesus came from heaven to live as one of us, and thus be at risk of every single thing that saddens and stresses out each one of us. He intimately understands what it is to be at risk of sickness, hunger, temptation, poverty, betrayal. And yet unlike us, He made all the right choices and stayed in constant connection with the Father – even bowing His knee to a painful death so that those who accept His love will forever avoid death and separation.

That truth should always, constantly, permanently, shift us away from an earthly focus on our problems here and now, and onto an eternal perspective.
But it doesn’t. It is far too easy to get focused on those inevitable problems, irritations and heartaches. We need something to interrupt “real life” and remind us of what is actually Real Life.

Most of us, this year, are far more aware of our utter need for God than ever before. Like no other in living memory, the year has woken us up to the reality that our feeling of stability and control is an illusion.
So let us come before the baby in the manger, friends. Let us join with our brothers and sisters around the world in worship.
And then when “real life” tries to intrude, let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, and remind each other – and ourselves – that this Jesus points to the only Reality that really matters.