Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “St(X)ry” #uneXpected

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and long workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

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Yesterday, we continued our Christmas series at Kfirst called”uneXpected.” Everything about the Christmas story was completely uneXpected. A pregnant virgin. A King born in a cave. Shepherds experiencing angelic announcements. Wise men bowing before a peasant child. Nothing about the birth of Jesus was what anyone really eXpected…

…but it was exactly what we needed.

We brought a prayer for the month of December that was born out of Luke 1:38-39, “Lord, help me to be humble enough to CATCH what you say & CLING to Your instruction so CHRIST is seen in all I say & do.” (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Have you ever had something happen to you that made you think you had to abandon everything you planned? What you may be experiencing is not the end of your story but the end of a “season” in your story.

Yesterday, we read out of Matthew 1:18-25 as we studied Joseph. Of the little we know of him, we catch what may be the most important thing about him: His Motives.

Yesterday, we read out of Matthew 1:20 as we studied the interaction of Joseph and the Angel. The message of God to Joseph came to him at a time of frustration and failure, a place of hopelessness and heaviness. The news of his soon-to-be wife being pregnant was enough to devastate everything he envisioned. It’s why we said yesterday:

From this simple portion of scripture we see three thoughts:

  1. Everybody needs to encounter God for themselves.
  2. You can’t live for God by yourself.
  3. Every day is a decision: Live by faith or sight.

And when we step out in faith, our faith intersects with God’s faithfulness and miracles begin to happen.

What changes and challenges are you facing? Are you in the middle of a tough season? If you are, I want to challenge you to submit the brokenness and frustration to God. The problem is not that God has abandoned us in our pain, but that sometimes we refuse to face it with him. Sometimes, we hold onto it and think it’s our “sentence” in life.

But, in Christ, the best is yet to come. And God hasn’t brought you this far, to bring you this far. There’s more to your story. There’s more, in Christ, ahead of you.

Our messages are for Monday and we need to put action to what the Lord is speaking. Give God what is heavy upon your heart and ask the Lord to give you the vision to see some steps of faith to move forward in faith and not sight.

Also, if you’re looking for a scripture reading plan to go along with our message, check out this one.

Love you all.  See you this Saturday as we step into our Christmas Eve Service!

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Developing a Hearing Heart”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and long workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together. 

We took a break from our current series at Kfirst to have our District Superintendent, Jeff Hlavin, with us. He brought a tremendous message from Mark 4:1-25 as he challenged our hearing by saying this:

Out of scripture, Jeff showed us:
  1. Jesus is concerned THAT we hear: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:23
  2. Jesus is concerned WHAT we hear: “And He was saying to them, ‘Take care what you listen to . . .” Mark 4:24
  3. Jesus is concerned HOW we hear: “Therefore take care how you listen . . .” Luke 8:18

Jesus is constantly speaking, but it is up to us to learn His voice and to listen to what He is saying. It’s a huge part of discipleship. And discipleship is a process of growth that we NEVER grow out of. In fact, your discipleship reveals your roots.

Jeff wrapped up with the words of Jesus declaring that a hearing heart will:

  1. Bring forth a bountiful harvest in your life (Mark 4:20).
  2. Give an opportunity for witness for you (Mark 4:21).
  3. Bring additional revelation to you (Mark 4:22).
  4. Be the basis for further development of a hearing heart for your life (Mark 4:24,25).

This week, as you are spending some time in the Word and in prayer this week, listen for how God is speaking to you. If you need a scripture reading plan, check out this one. God is always speaking, but most of the time, we’re too busy to listen.

Love you all.  See you on Sunday!

BTW, here’s a song this week for your devotions playlist:

One of the Few Things We Have In Common…and 5 Threats to Losing It.

In a few days, Anne and I will celebrate our 18 year anniversary. I still don’t understand what she saw (or sees) in me, but I’m very thankful she said “yes.” Every year, marriage presents new challenges and every year I fall in a deeper love with her. There’s no one else I would do life with.  

Now that the sappiness is out of the way…

Looking at our overall relationship these past 18 years, we have to admit how completely different we are. Someone just asked me about how compatible Anne and I are. I had to be honest…we don’t have a ton of areas of “compatibility.” I’m willing to bet that if we did the online dating 20 years ago, the online dating service would probably never match us up.

We have different interests
The interests we share, we do them differently (running, shows vs. movies, etc)
We grew up in completely different style homes.
We have different personality types.
We have completely different strengths.
We don’t share the same love languages.
We don’t grow spiritually the same way (the elements are similar but done differently).
We don’t fully grasp what each other struggles with.
I have better taste in music than she does. (Really babe? Justin Bieber?) 

So the question rises: Where are we alike (if at all)?

  1. We both passionately love Jesus.
  2. We both love to laugh.
  3. We both have a strong resolve.

I like the word “resolve.” You can call it “stubborn.” You can use the word “determined.” But whatever the synonym, Anne and I learned that having resolute mindset is a game-changer.

We refuse to paint an idealistic picture of a marriage without struggles (did you not read our list?).  Like the seasons of a Michigan calendar year, good moments and challenging moments are what life brings you. It’s the result of being a human that married a human. But it’s the resolve that will push you through.  It’s your resolve that has made your mind up that regardless of what you face, you’ll face it together and come out together on the other side.

But I promise (speaking from 18 years of experience) that there are things that want to weaken your resolve. Here are a few threats to look out for that want to weaken your resolve:

1 – Discouraging people.  I think of John 14, when Jesus warns against having your resolve weakened by what you’re facing rather than focusing upon Him. It happens to the best of us. And many times, it happens through people.  I don’t care if it’s family, close friends, or your connections on social media, avoid people who will weaken your resolve to be a good spouse and/or see good in your spouse.  Some people thrive on being critical without even desiring to be constructive. Find people who will encourage you. You need hope and not despair.

2 – Living on empty.  Anytime I’ve known people who have lost their resolve has been from a place of fatigue. Esau, in Genesis 25, sells out the future of his family out of being tired and hungry.  If you don’t care for yourself spiritually, emotionally, and even physically, you are going to drain the strength of the resolve that helps you push through. Getting proper rest, spending quality time with the Lord, and living at a healthy pace will properly fuel the resolute mindset that helps a marriage push through.

3 – Neglecting the simple essentials. Marriage isn’t about “set it and forget it.” It’s a constant upkeep of what I consider the simple essentials. It’s daily choices to build your resolve by facilitating:

  • Purposefully building healthy communication.
  • Serving your spouse’s love language.
  • Constantly building your relationship with Christ
  • Engaging in a consistent sex life.  
  • Learning how facilitate fun.

4 – Pornography. The goal of pornography is to skew the authentic with fantasy.  Whether it’s visual porn (hyperbolized sexual imagery) or emotional porn (hyperbolized relational fantasy) the more open you are to it, the weaker your resolve will get as it will seed a false sense of dissatisfaction. Two of my biggest reasons is it causes an unhealthy view of the female body as well as an unhealthy sexual expectations.  Top it off with the addictive nature of porn devised to make you dependent upon it, you then have a monster that isn’t worth the amount of space it will take up in your thoughts and the way it weakens your resolve.

5 – Toxic mindsets. Hopelessness wants to break the back of your resolve. Like mixing too much sand into your concrete, it wants to make your resolute stance a bit more brittle than you expected. It’s why scripture challenges us to stay clear of toxic mindsets like bitterness, rage, , comparison, criticism, and unforgiveness. They say “you are what you eat.” But a more biblical stance would be, “you are what you think.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Your marriage doesn’t need the compatibility that the world will say you need. But you do need to have a resolve.  

I leave you with these final four challenges about your resolve:

  1. Let your resolve will be driven from the heart of Jesus.
  2. Let your resolve will be shown through the character of Jesus.
  3. Resolve to seek AND be open to how the Holy Spirit wants to change you.
  4. Resolve to not try to change your spouse but allow the Holy Spirit to change your spouse with the same amount of freedom you’ve given Him.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Silence is NOT Golden: 5 Helps When Silence Hits Your Marriage

The question driving today blog: Is your heart for your marriage stronger than your silence?

Isaiah 62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning.

Silence can be good.  Small increments of silence are gifts.  Whether it’s for prayer or just to simply gather your thoughts, silence can be refreshing (especially if you have little ones…been there, bought the t-shirt, had a baby throw up on the t-shirt).  You’ve heard the cliché, “Silence is golden.” But strategic silence against your partner for the purpose of anger, resentment, and/or punishment is destructive.  Hear this from the pro at the “silent treatment” (me).

Just the other day, Anne approached me on the subject. She’s reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, “For the Love” and gave me an amazing quote from Jen.

Truthfulness hurts for a minute; silence is the kill-shot.  My resentment built a stonewall; my voicing it began crumbling the divide.

It confirmed what I’ve come to see from my own life and years of working with couples: Strategic silence is deadly.  So many couples are concerned about talking about certain subjects.  Some are afraid to bring things up fearing the outcome.  Ladies and gentlemen, this ought not to be.  If you want to be healthy, don’t be as concerned about the talked as you should be when the talking stops.

Here’s a few practical thoughts:

1 – Suck up your stubbornness and break the silence!  The pain of speaking to an awkward or painful subject doesn’t compare to what your silence is doing to your marriage. A silent issue does not equate to a solved issue.  I liken it to a sliver.  Just because it stopped bothering you, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t remove it.  Waiting and/or ignoring just invites infection AND more pain than necessary.

2 – Make an appointment with your spouse! It’s so practical yet so overlooked.  You both need to be position to give your undivided attention to the conversation without distractions. You’re kids don’t need to hear your conversation.  Your friends and family don’t need to be a part of your biz (this should be its own blog).  Keep your social media “friends” out of it (another blog idea). Keep this between you two and have it done so that you can focus on the conversation.

3 – Don’t get tired of breeching the same subject. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “We’ve talked about this before.” My admonishment: Don’t stop.  If you’ve dealt with it, then keep talking BUT change your approach. Restart the conversation but brainstorm a different solution.  If that doesn’t work, invite a Christ-centered counselor. Just don’t stop the conversation because you think you’re at an impasse.  Calling it an “impasse” is pronouncing it “impossible.” Don’t give up hope.  If you’ve got Christ AND a teachable heart, all things are possible.

4 – Taking a “time out” is healthy but doesn’t end the conversation. Time outs are good when tempers flair. Requesting one can be good for:
– Relaxing and calming down.
– Doing something that will get you to decompress. Perhaps you ladies want to hit the speed bag or go for a fun. Maybe you guys want a bubble bath with Kenny G playing in the background.
– Remembering what is important.
– Praying for humility, patience, and wisdom.
NOTE: When the time out is done, resume the conversation.  Just because you have decompressed, don’t let the talk go back into silence.  Resume and resolve.

5 – Remember: The priority isn’t striving a personal win. Humility and teamwork from both of you will pay huge dividends for your marriage. When selfishness and maliciousness are set aside, casualties are few and far between.  Marital “wins” result in successes for the marriage itself.  They’re rarely one-sided. I say it so many times in premarital counseling, “A win for the ‘we’ is always a win for ‘me.’ But going after a win for ‘me’ isn’t going to be a win for the ‘we.'”

Isaiah 62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning.

Victory, provision, blessing, and destiny for Israel were intrinsically connected to God’s silence.  They were a broken and lost nation.  God had REPEATING reached out to them.  Through prophets, the conversation was extended over and over.  In my own flesh, I wondered why God put up with them.  But out of His deep love for them, God refused to remain quiet.  He knew his shattering the silence would revive the wayward nation giving them a new identity.

Is your heart for your marriage stronger than your silence? If you’ll walk in humility, break the silence, you’ll have an opportunity to speak victory, provision, blessing, and destiny into your marriage.

Step up. Speak up.  Break the silence.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devo: What are you thinking Day 18

We’re focusing on what the Bible says about the “mind” and how that affects us.  Spend time on the devo and take a minute or two to ponder what the Word is challenging you to do.

Matthew 5:27-28

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

You may already know that October is Breast Cancer awareness month. There is a group doing a special event auctioning three unique pieces of furniture. All the proceeds of the sale will go towards Breast Cancer awareness charities.
You can see the details here:
http://www.regencyshop.com/charity-auction.html

2 Minute Devo: What are you thinking Day 16

We’re focusing on what the Bible says about the “mind” and how that affects us.  Spend time on the devo and take a minute or two to ponder what the Word is challenging you to do.

Matthew 12:33-34

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

You may already know that October is Breast Cancer awareness month. There is a group doing a special event auctioning three unique pieces of furniture. All the proceeds of the sale will go towards Breast Cancer awareness charities.
You can see the details here:
http://www.regencyshop.com/charity-auction.html