Thursday, July 31, 2008

Resources for Personal Worship

Sometimes it helps me to listen to worship, and sometimes I either don't have my CD player or I'm bored with my CD's.

A couple of places I have found to listen to worship on the internet are www.integritymusic.com and www.relevantchurch.com. If you call up the websites music starts to play.

I have also copied alot of my CD's onto my computer. Sometimes I let it randomize the playlist so that I do not get bored with one artist.

Playing worship does minister something deep in my soul, and later I will hear the songs playing in my head.

Anyone else have some great ideas for finding worship music cheaply or keeping it fresh?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Marriage Resources From "Fireproof"

In connection with the movie "Fireproof", there is a new website at www.fireproofmymarriage.com that has some awesome resources for marriage.

Marriage and Our Culture

At times, I ponder this whole concept of our culture moving away from monogomous lifetime marriage as the norm, to other lifestyles - cohabiting, gay marriage, multiple marriages and multiple divorces in a lifetime.

It is easy to get on our Christian high horse about all of this, but since the nation used to be very heavily Christian, I ponder where we as the church went wrong, and how to appeal to a whole new generation that has been raised in a post-Christian culture.

As I read various stories and listen to people, I realize that many people who are in alternative lifestyles have been deeply wounded - at times wounded by the Church or people in the church - unnecessarily. Doesn't mean I agree with their choices.

Alot of ardent feminists have been deeply hurt by men in their past. Alot of cohabiting couples have watched their parents' marriages breakup, and don't want to repeat the past, or to make lifetime promises that they don't think they can keep.

I heard something awhile back "Hurting people, hurt people."

I don't have all of the answers. The one thing I know is to keep working diligently on my own marriage, so that we can be an example for others. One of my heart's desires is to have a marriage that others who are observing us, and knowing us, would want.

One marriage at a time, we can change this culture.

Reinventing Date Night

I just read an interesting article in "The Saturday Evening Post" July/August addition. The title was "Marriage Makeover: Reinventing Date Night".

The article talked about several studies of long-term couples where the goal was to see if adding novelty to a relationship or to date nights helped the relationship. Things like changing restaurants or trying new things together.

The article also talked about brain science and brain scans as related to things people could do in marriage that changed their brain chemistry for the positive.

It just reminded me of the importance of trying new things with my wife. It doesn't have to be anything totally crazy like sky diving, but just little things - a different restaurant, style of movie, or date night beging a different day/time of the week. Just simple changes may make a big difference.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fireproof The Movie

I just watched the trailer for Fireproof The Movie at www.fireproofthemovie.com. The background words were "Fireproof: Never Leave Your Partner Behind."

This is a movie about saving a marriage from the same group that made the movie Facing the Giants. The setting is in context of a married man who is in the Fire and Rescue business.

The movie opens in September although in some cities across the country there have been preview showings for community leaders to inspire them to promote the movie.

Enough talking. I encourage you to watch the trailer. I was in tears and it only lasted 2 minutes 11 seconds.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Psalm 51

One thing I have slowly learned is that there is special power in praying the Word of God. One Scripture I have found especially helpful to pray out loud on a regular basis is Psalm 51, which is David's prayer after his adultery with Bathsheba. Is there any one of us who couldn't use some help cleaning our hearts, even if we haven't sinned in the manner that David did?

From the New International Version at www.biblegateway.com.

Psalm 51
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
When the prophet Nathan came to him after
David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Info for Marriage Education "Junkies"

If you are the type of person who really wants to keep their pulse on what is happening in the marriage education field, I highly suggest that you go to www.smartmarriages.com and subscribe to their newslist. Diane Sollee references boatloads of articles, materials, etc. on an almost daily basis. Some of what I mention on this blog are things she has brought to my attention.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Laugh or Get Mad

The Tampa Tribune ran an article on July 14 questioning whether money being spent by the Feds on marriage education is worth it. Reasonable question to ask and discuss, but I found this quote humorous in a sad way.

"For $1.5 billion Washington could buy every household a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine and call it a day."

Cosmo over the years hasn't exactly hailed marriage as the highest value, although they are putting more emphasis on long term relationships. I am sure Helen Gurley Brown would love $1.5 billion to help with her retirement.

Here is link for the article http://tinyurl.com/6pjtu5

Some Quotes from 2008 Smart Marriages Conference

Here are some quotes to ponder from the recent 2008 Smart Marriages Conference (www.smartmarriages.com).

Dr. Gary Chapman: Many couples love each other but don't know how to
connect. Sacrificing for one's spouse is important. When it (a service for your spouse) doesn't come naturally, it's actually a greater expression of love. We must learn to speak one another's love language. (So often this has been true in our own marriage, loving each other, longing for connection, and not knowing how. PAIRS has helped us in this area.)

Dr. John Gray: Men talk to solve problems; Women talk to express feelings. (Interesting thought, and probably spot on for the majority of men and women.)

Dennis Stoica (Director, California Healthy Marriage Initiative): Marriage matters to children. Divorce is hard on kids and it is a serious national problem.

Michelle Weiner-Davis: (Founder, Divorce Buster Programs): Real giving means giving what your spouse wants - no matter if you don't understand it - it's mutual caring. (Sounds like that Philippians 2 kind of love where you look out for the interest of others like Christ did. Oh, so hard to do, but so wonderful when you do.)

Dr. Sue Johnson (Sociologist and author): Without empathy and secure connection, there can be no real love. All humans need nurturing, soothing and protection. Key moment which defines forgiveness: when the injured party looks into the eyes of the offender and sees that their pain matters. They have to see it in their faces.

Dr. Steven Stosny (Author and founder of www.compassionworks.com): You can turn your resentful, angry or emotionally abusive relationship into a compassionate, loving one. The urge to improve, appreciate, connect or protect are the motivations of our core values. The experience of value gives you meaning and purpose. Crime goes up when the sense of community goes down. People feel disconnected.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Unique Campaign: "I Hate Him So Much"

In Florida there is a new campaign to advertise marriage education called www.ihatehimsomuch.com. When you go to the link you get access to some good resources.

I really like creative marketing that gets you thinking.

Couple Checkup: Strengths

I just read about a new book out from www.prepare-enrich.com. The premise is to do a relationship checkup as a couple and to focus on strengths. I like the concept of focusing first on strengths because it's so easy to get discouraged if you start first with the problems. Yes, problems need to be addressed, but once you find some strengths, hope can arise for overcoming problems.

Where Have I Been?

Most of my living is made through farming. We have had a somewhat long, slow, spring planting season, and I haven't had much oomph to blog here. Now that we are over the hump farming-wise, maybe I will get back to more blogging. Any subjects that my readers would really like to see addressed?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All Things Are Possible With God

During my wife's and my separation, Jesus' words "All things are possible with God" kept coming to mind, and sustaining me when things seem hopeless. Praise the Lord, when things looked most hopeless, and Sharon was extremely determined to end our marriage, unwilling to even try to reconcile, Jesus moved on her heart to try one more time. She came to a one-day PAIRS seminar with me, and by the end of the day, we were firmly on the way to reconciling, although it took another two months before we were living together again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Marriage is Hard Work

The more I am married myself, the more I listen to long-term marrieds, the more I am convinced that a good marriage is hard work. The disappointing thing about today's world is that there are fewer and fewer long-term marriages to look to for guidance on how to make it work.

The good thing about today's environment is that there are unprecedented resources available to help people in any stage of a relationship. Some of these are secular materials and some are Christian materials.

One encouraging thing is that I hear of alot of young people who are truly interested in learning new skills so that they have a shot at not repeating the mistakes of their parents' generation.

I also hear many divorced people who want to try to make changes the second time around because they don't want a second failed marriage.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Secular Marriage Puzzle

Last weekend I attended the wedding of some people I know pretty well who are not Christians. They are pretty respectful of my wife's and my faith, but they really don't like us to go too deep about it.

The father of the bride had an affair, divorced his first wife (the bride's mother), and then married the other woman.

The bride and her husband have a two-year-old girl and have been living together for quite a while.

The father's second wife was the primary wedding "go-to" person that day.

The marriage ceremony was performed by someone who gave a nice talk, but from a secular perspective.

I just get puzzled sometimes why people who really don't want much to do with Christian values - the values of no adultery in marriage, no sex outside of marriage, and no babies out of wedlock - get so excited about weddings and getting married.

It was interesting, though, how many Christian values were upheld in the talk and the vows. Things like love, patience, kindness, endurance, working out problems, helping each other, and being for life.

I was reminded of what Pastor John Piper teaches. Even a non-Christian marriage reflects some of the glory of God, and of the love that Christ has for His Bride, the Church.

It just seems to me that if people are living by primarily non-Christian, non-religious, secular values, they wouldn't be that interested in going through all of the legal hoops of getting married, and then divorced, if it doesn't work.

The really sad part is that I have been involved in trying to convince Christian couples who profess to live by Christian values, who were probably married in the church, and are still in the church, to keep their vows and stay together. Then I watch secular people really desiring to get married and stay married.