Ephesians 2:19-22 (NKJV): Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stay Away from the Edge

by Mark Gungor on November 2nd, 2010
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In a previous post I talked about the Damage of Sexual Promiscuity—more specifically, the “imprinting” that happens during a person’s initial sexual experiences.

People have read the article or have heard me talk about his and contact me after they realize they have been improperly “imprinted” on—especially through lust-filled, elicit sex and the use of pornography and masturbation—and they want to know if and how it can be reversed or erased. They wonder if it’s possible to go back to a clean slate–kind of like the old Etch-a-Sketch toy where you could turn the knobs and a little line would appear on the screen so you could draw pictures. Then when you wanted to start over, you just tipped the thing upside down and shook it to make all the lines disappear—all was erased and you would have the blank screen again. They ask if it’s possible to get back to the blank screen when it comes to sex.

This was the case with a young man I recently heard from through my radio show. He was one of those people, like so many, that had been affected by his early exploits with lust-filled sex. Since then he had gone on to be a born-again believer, who loves God and is doing all he can to live for Jesus. He wrote to me explaining that he and his wonderful wife of ten years were having some issues. He was still struggling with the desires and “pictures” in his head after all this time and wanted to recreate those things of the past to make their sex life more interesting. That is the power of sexual imprinting.

His wife did not have those types of early experiences, was much more conservative in her approach to sex, and uncomfortable with what her husband wanted. He didn’t force her into anything, but felt the pull to go back and relive those things that were so very exciting in his past. There was frustration and tension between them because of this and he wanted to know how to fix it. This young man—as many people wonder—wanted to know “how far” he could go and still have it be “ok”. Where was the line on what constituted lust? My advice to people who are struggling with this is to stay as far away from the line as you can. Be very deliberate to avoid anything of the lust-filled nature and aim to be as conservative as possible. You won’t get free if you just “cut back” or keep “toeing the line”; you need to stop it all together to break this.

It reminds me about a story of a wealthy man back in the horse and buggy days who was looking to hire a carriage driver. There were three candidates and he asked all three of them the same question: How close to the edge of the cliff can you drive and not go over the edge? The first guy said he could get within two inches and not lose the carriage. The second guy said he could get within a half inch. But the third man wisely said, “I stay as far away from the edge as possible.” He’s the one who got the job and was thinking the right way. Why take the risk? Why push the boundaries? Why do something if it makes the passenger nervous and uncomfortable just so you can have the thrill?!

It’s not about how much you can “get away with”. You need to steer clear, learn to key off your spouse and do what she likes. You must not make it about all the things that are a part of pornography and the promiscuity of your past, rather make it about pleasing her. Men should be lovers to women in the first place. It’s not about what she does to you. Pornography has turned men into selfish pigs who have lost the art of making love to a woman. People who struggle with this can be changed through prayer and with God’s help, but they must be very deliberate. The bible tells us we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to change the way we think so that sex isn’t about being selfish and your spouse isn’t there just for you to be satisfied.

If you are “bored” or find that sex is a “drag”, try doing a sex fast for a week or two—maybe even a month if need be. This goes for both men and women—it’s not as common or talked about as frequently, but women can and do have the same issues with lust. Allow your desire to build during that time and concentrate on only your husband or wife. No porn, no masturbating—think only of him or her, focus on that one man or that one woman. Give them your time and attention; flirt with each other to let the sexual tension build until you can retrain yourself to respond only to your spouse without needing all the other garbage to arouse and satisfy you. It will change your life and set you free.

Know that “kind of” staying away from the lust or “cutting back” won’t do it. You need to stop it. For men and women who are Christians, nothing is more miserable than being stuck in a lustful world you know you shouldn’t be in. Dangling dangerously close to the precipice doesn’t work…be like the wise carriage driver and stay as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible.

Friday, October 15, 2010

There Ain’t No Easy Button

by Mark Gungor on September 17th, 2010
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Lots of people wish life had an easy button… like the commercial for the office supply store Staples, where you just push the big red button with the word “easy” on it and everything you want just magically happens. But the reality is, there are no easy buttons in life, and that is especially true in Christianity—even though people often think and act like God is the easy button for us.

Frequently, believers will treat God like the magic genie or giant vending machine in the sky. We ask Him to do things just so we don’t have to do it ourselves; then we don’t have to put any work or effort into a situation. Husbands and wives will pray for God to make their marriage better, yet they will continue to invest no time and attention into the relationship. People may be diagnosed with some illness or condition and beg God to heal them and take it away, but they won’t do anything to change their diet, exercise or lifestyle that would improve their health. Students will blow off studying for an exam, yet earnestly pray for God to help them do well on the test. There are people who pray and ask God to bring them a job or a spouse, but never go out and look for one! I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but that’s not the way it works.

God will help us. We can ask Him to give us the strength and courage to persevere and do the right things—like dealing with disease, a difficult relationship, or temptation—but He doesn’t just magically fix it or take it all away to make it easy. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with and controlling feelings. Here is one common example that I’ve heard numerous times from men: I’m so tempted to look at other women and pornography and I’ve prayed and prayed for God to take those feelings away. I’ve also heard people say that they are experiencing great temptation with attraction to another person other than their spouse and want God to just “take those feelings away”. Mind you, they don’t want to flee the temptation or stay away from this person or situation. They don’t want to learn to control their feelings—they want the easy button instead. And quite simply, there isn’t one.

Part of being a Christ follower is learning not to be led by feelings. We must learn that feelings don’t determine our behavior or else we will be doomed. Most people think that if they feel it, they just have to do it and that’s why they pray those prayers asking God to “take them away”. They reason that surely humans can’t help what they feel! Sadly, too many people end up being slaves to their feelings and think they cannot possibly manage, control or resist their urges, temptations and emotions. Therefore they believe that the only reasonable and certain solution is for God to just zap them away. Nonsense!

The bible is very clear that we are to fight temptation and that God will help us so we don’t have to succumb. I Corinthians 10:13 says: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (NIV) That means you don’t have to give in, nothing is too much for you to take—despite what your feelings tell you. In the book of James scripture tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you (4:7). But we don’t want to resist the devil; we want to pray and ask God to make him to go away. These are wrong thoughts and wrong prayers. God won’t do it. He won’t sprinkle you with pixie dust and make it all vanish. We are expected to live by His word and that means we have to do our part in this—never giving up and never giving in. James goes on to say we are blessed when we persevere (1:12 and 5:11)

Every human being is tempted—whether that means you are tempted by visual lusts, feelings of attraction or dissatisfaction, the tendency to be mean and nasty to people, complacency in your faith, food, alcohol, drugs, and the list goes on and on—but that doesn’t mean we are to be condemned for feeling certain things. We are to resist, not in our own will power, because as believers we have the Holy Spirit and the power of the risen Christ at work in us to enable us to stand up to any and every temptation or feeling. The problem is often people equate the want to with the have to, but just because you feel it, doesn’t mean that you listen to those wants or feelings or that you act upon them. And sometimes those “want tos” can be really strong, but they are never greater than the strength we have as Christians. Don’t tell me that your desire to look at porn is more powerful than Jesus!

It’s at times of temptation and struggle that we must rely on the power available to us. That is when it is vitally important to have the word of God in you so are able to quote the truths of scripture that will enable you to combat and fight those urges.** Only then will we be able to break free from being a slave to feelings and not allow emotions to dictate our choices. We must stop thinking we have to be “true and honest to our feelings”. They are the most unreliable and dishonest thing a person could possibly follow. As Christians we must learn to control our feelings and not allow them to control us.

Stop asking and expecting God to do all the heavy lifting, just so you can have it easy and not do the work that it requires. Remember, there is no easy button in heaven…you’ll have to go to Staples for that.

**For a list of scripture to help you with any kind of temptation, please see our link at http://www.laughyourway.com/resources/sexual-addiction/.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Forgiveness Part 2: What is Forgiveness?

by Mark Gungor on October 4th, 2010
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In the previous post I wrote about why it is imperative to let go of hurts and offenses and to live your life walking in forgiveness. As Christians we do not have the luxury of remaining bitter, vengeful, unforgiving and holding grudges. I laid out the scriptural commands that instruct us on forgiveness and showed the gravity of the situation when we do not forgive others. Knowing that God will not forgive us if we don’t forgive others is a pretty sobering thought and should be all the motivation we need. Yet we often have difficulty with forgiving those who have transgressed against us and hurt us. I think we don’t really understand what it means to forgive someone.

Many times people have trouble forgiving because they believe that it’s tied to emotions or memory and they think they have to stop feeling or stop remembering in order to forgive. Not true. I teach every weekend at my marriage seminar and write about it in my book Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. Here is an excerpt:

The first thing you have to understand about forgiveness is that is has nothing to do with your emotions. You may feel the emotional pain of what that other person did to you till the day you die—it has nothing to do with forgiveness.

Second, forgiveness has nothing to do with erasing your memory. You may remember what that person did to you till the day you die. Forgiveness is simply this: a decision to let it go. The Greek word that translates to “forgiveness” is aphieeme,” literally “to send off,” “to release,” or “to let go.” This means forgiveness is the act of sending away incidents that cause offense to brew in us. It means we can’t keep focusing on the wrong done to us. Forgiveness is an act. This is an example of forgiveness: ‘I forgive you. I will never use it against you in the future. I will never speak of it again to you or to anyone else.”

When you forgive, you decide to release the person from his or her guilt, period. You may remember the offense repeatedly at first. That’s okay. The commitment to forgive a person is a commitment to “send away” the incident every time it reappears in your mind.

Once the apostle Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” That’s 490 times.

Luke, in his Gospel, adds the phrase “a day.’ Imagine forgiving the same person 490 times a day! Truth is, it is pretty easy to get consumed by someone’s offense. When a person does something that really hurts you, you will naturally think about it over and over again. Practicing the principle of forgiving someone 490 times a day means every time you think about what that person did to you, you prayerfully give it to God. The choice to forgive means we keep forgiving. Over time you will find the incident losing strength.

You must also remember that forgiveness has more to do with your tongue than your head or your heart. If you’re still talking about what that person did to you, you haven’t forgiven him or her. You need to hush. You need to let it go. The good news is, God will help you do this.

See, you don’t have to erase your feelings or memories. Forgiveness is not amnesia; it’s intentionally choosing to let the offense go. When God forgives us He never brings it up again. The Bible says he throws it in the sea of forgetfulness. But it’s not like he’s an old man who has Alzheimer’s. Do you really think that God can’t remember? It’s not as if God looks at you and goes, “There’s something that ticks me off about this guy, but I just can’t remember what it is!” You think God literally can’t remember? Of course He can, He just chooses not to. He never brings it up again. He never, ever, ever, will speak of it or use it against you in any way, shape, or form. And that’s what you need to do as a Christian. You need to quite talking about it…and that includes the running conversations you have with yourself in your head!

When an offense is new and you are first dealing with all the emotion and hurt, you need to talk through it and all. I get that and I’m not condemning that. But at some point you have to stop, let it go and you have to let go of the anger and hate in your heart. People complain that it’s hard to do. Yeah, that’s why you need to pray and ask God to help you. I’ve struggled with this. There have been times in my life that I’ve been so angry and I didn’t want to forgive. But I knew better. I knew this was not okay and I took it so seriously because I know what the Bible says. So in tears and crying out to God, I dealt with it and broke through. So I’m not condemning people who struggle with this—we all struggle. If you are a Christian you have to let it go. If you say you have forgiven the person, but are constantly in a state of pain day after day, into week after month after year, you have only re-titled the unforgiveness as “pain”. Be aware of the struggle and realize that it’s not a good place for you to be. It might take some work, but you need to get out of it.

Refusing to forgive another doesn’t make right the wrong, nor does it even the score or supply vengeance. It only hurts the one who refuses to forgive. Unforgiveness is like taking poison in hopes that the other guy will die. And it is literally like a toxic poison in your body. It will make you sick and destroy you, your life and your relationships. Jesus taught that without forgiveness, your very relationship to God is doomed. And I can assure you that without forgiveness, your marriage is doomed.

*Also see the related post “I Said I Was Sorry”.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Forgiveness Part 1: Do I Have to Forgive?

by Mark Gungor on September 28th, 2010
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If you do a search for “forgiveness” on Amazon, you’ll get a list of over 4700 books, so apparently it’s a hot topic. Everyone gets hurt, offended or betrayed in life, and we all have to deal with forgiving others. Often the lack of forgiveness is like a big, black cloud that hangs over the heads of people, keeping them tied up and held in a prison of anger and bitterness. Countless people ask me how they can forgive someone—usually their spouse—for some transgression that has been committed against them. It is not at all unusual to hear people say that the specific thing they are struggling to forgive happened 5, 10, 20, 30 years ago, yet they are still dealing with the memory, the pain and the inability to work through it. Many relive the event in excruciating detail as if it just happened yesterday, saying they can’t, won’t, or don’t know how to forgive the person.

While non-Christians may have their own steps and formulas on how to forgive, from a Christian world-view I can explain it very quickly and to the point. Quite simply, the Bible teaches that if we won’t forgive other people, then God will not forgive us. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches His disciples “The Lord’s Prayer” that says, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Debt means sin or offense.) Then in verses 14-15 Jesus continues and says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”(NIV) Seems like a very straight-forward concept, yet many Christians don’t get this and even when they hear it, they don’t believe it. There may be things in Christianity that are debatable—such as finer points of theology, speaking in tongues, what is the proper form of baptism, how to interpret the end-times scriptures—but not this. Forgiveness is pretty black and white, fundamental Christianity 101; if you don’t understand forgiveness you don’t understand Christianity.

You would think that once you put into people’s minds they are running the risk of eternal damnation for their souls, they would start to wake up and get a clue. (Which is exactly the case if your sins are not forgiven by God, by the way.) Sadly, many Christians believe that as long as they have “said the prayer”, they can live anyway they want, do anything they want and it doesn’t matter. It does matter. Further on in Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus talks about forgiveness by relating a parable about a servant who owed his master a lot of money—let’s say the equivalent of a million dollars. The master comes to collect and the servant begs to be let off the hook because he can’t repay it. So the master reconsiders, shows mercy and lets him off; erasing the considerable debt that the man owed. But then that very same servant turns around and finds another guy who owes him some small amount— let’s say $100. He starts choking the guy, demanding his money, then throws the guy in jail till he pays him what he owes. When the master hears what the servant did, he calls him back in and says, “You wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” After that the master turned the guy over to the jailers to be tortured, until he could pay back what he owed. Then check out what Jesus says, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

You are fooling yourself if you think you can remain bitter and unforgiving toward someone else and have that be okay with God. The Bible warns not to “deceive yourself” and I truly think this is one of the areas that people are full of self-deception. As Christians one thing that is totally non-negotiable for us is forgiveness. There are lots of things that are for us to decide that won’t affect whether God forgives us or not. How much you pray and how much money you give is up to you—the standard is 10%, but it’s still your call. Whether or not you go to church—God’s not going to send you to hell if you don’t go every Sunday, even though you know you should go. How much you read the bible—once a month, 8 chapters a day—is up to you. There are all kinds of things we get to play with and have wiggle room on. But the one thing that is absolutely not up to you, not negotiable in any way shape or form, is forgiveness. You cannot live in unforgiveness and think you are okay.

I was talking to this one woman who was attending our church and she was there every Sunday on the front row loving and worshipping Jesus—but she had just divorced her husband. I asked why, and she said, “Because he called me fat! I hate him! I want him to die and go to hell!” Seriously!? I think people are delusional. You can clap, sing, praise God and think you are a Christian all you want, but the truth is you will have to answer to God for your lack of forgiveness. Sadly, you don’t hear this taught by pastors. I know because when I say these things, people look at me like I just dropped in from Mars! They become indignant and can’t believe that I’m saying such a thing. One lady was talking to me in my office and she got so mad that she slammed out the door yelling at me, “How dare you imply I’m in trouble with God because of what my husband did!” She wanted no part of dealing with her own sin of unforgiveness. Many people have a problem with this teaching and I understand that it is extremely strong, but I don’t see how they get around these scriptures.

People often say “I am growing in forgiveness”, or “I’m learning to forgive”—I don’t buy it. Either you have forgiven or you haven’t, there’s no growing! Hear me on this…and if this freaks you out and scares you, it should! Jesus said, “Many will say to me on judgment day ‘Lord, Lord’”. Then He’s going to say “I never knew you” and you’re not getting in. (Matthew 7:21-23) Make no mistake, one of the fundamental reasons is because people absolutely refuse to forgive those who have hurt them. You may know people who say they have been a Christian for 20 years or more but can’t or won’t forgive someone. I say those people need to really reconsider whether or not they are Christians. I think there will be surprises on judgment day as to who is and who isn’t a real Christian.

I am not being condemning here, only showing the gravity of this situation. The Church has suffered, because pastors have not taught the great importance of forgiving and the dire consequences if we don’t. Christians tend to be very compassionate in trying to help people forgive, but the thing that should really motivate us is when we truly understand the seriousness of choosing not to forgive another person. Honestly, that teaching has been withheld in Christian circles and I am certain that if we really understood it, we would be less inclined to walk in unforgiveness.

Here is an analogy to help clarify this. Let’s say you have a problem with eating chocolate cake. You are really tempted to eat it any time you see a delicious slice. Now, it’s a pretty easy temptation to work around and deal with because most of the time it’s not going to kill you if you slip up. After all, you have been doing so well avoiding the cake and sticking to your diet. You rationalize that you can work it off later, walk farther to burn the calories, or reason that you will only indulge a little by having one small piece. Now, if you knew that the cake was laced with cyanide, would it still be a temptation? No, not at all! It breaks the temptation entirely and no way would you yield to that because you totally get it— you understand the gravity of the situation and the consequences.

That’s what pastors teach about forgiveness: We know it’s difficult, just do your best, try harder to avoid it, but if you can’t, it’s really not that bad, you’re still ok. I believe that people struggle with not forgiving others because pastors have failed to teach the perilousness of it. They aren’t telling believers that the cake is saturated with cyanide. If we fully comprehended what the Bible says about the sin of unforgiveness, if we really understood the huge price we will pay on Judgment Day, I think we would be much quicker to let others off the hook, release our grudges, and forgive. Jesus was not ambiguous in any way—if you refuse to forgive people, God will not forgive you. My question to you is: Can you afford that?

**Check back next week for Part 2 “What is Forgiveness?”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Talk It Out Before You Say, "I Do"

By Julie Ferwerda

CBN.com – You’re thinking about spending the rest of your life with that special person. But do you really know them as well as you think? Are there areas you need to know about (or they need to know about you) that you haven’t discussed? The best time to get down to the nitty-gritty with each other is before you say, “I do.”

You need to know what to expect after the wedding day, and to decide if you really want to spend the rest of your life with this person the way they are now. Chances are they (and you) won’t change that much, so if you really want to know who you are agreeing to love, work through these questions together. There’s no hurry—take all the time you need. But there’s one rule. You must be completely, gut-wrenchingly honest! If you misrepresent yourself…they will remember.

PURPOSE
My biggest goal in life is to…
I find satisfaction in…
Before I die I want to…
I am here because…
My dream is to someday…
I will be ready to die when I’ve…
PAST
The best part about my childhood was…
The worst part about my childhood was…
The scariest thing that ever happened to me was…
Something I’m afraid to tell anyone about my past is…
A past situation that could affect my future is…
I’ve had [ ] sexual partners before this relationship.
The way I feel about my past relationship history is…

WHO I AM
My biggest fears in life are…
My biggest needs in life are…
My most frequent mood is…
The thing I hate most is…
The thing I worry about most is…
Three things I want to change about myself are…
Three things I really like about myself are…
My most common daydream is…
I get angry when…
My favorite kind of house pet is…
My overall opinion about myself is…
I think my greatest personality asset is…
My greatest personality weakness is…
I find the greatest enjoyment in…
The sin I struggle most with is…
I’m most ashamed about…
Someone I greatly admire is…
The way I feel about death is…
I think war is…
I feel happy when…
I have no use for people who…
When someone acts rude to me, I…
When someone is unfair, I…
I feel jealous of…
My dream vacation would include…
The things I find the most fun are…
My favorite sport(s) is…
Playing sports in my future is a [ ] on a scale from one to ten.
Watching sports on T.V. is a [ ] for me on a scale from one to ten.
I am disgusted by…
When I am afraid (substitute sad, angry, happy, lonely, tired), I…
My hobbies include…
I spend [ ] hours a week at my hobbies.
What I really want when I am sick is…
The part of my body I am most bothered by is…
The part of my body I am most happy with is…
What hurts me most is…
The best (and worst) thing about life is…
The first thing I notice about someone is…
When someone is angry with me, I…
When someone is disappointed in me, I…
The worst (and best) thing about the opposite sex is…
Being teachable means…
People (including me) should say they’re sorry when…

MARRIAGE
My reasons for wanting to get married are…
I think the keys to a good marriage are…
The biggest mistakes I made in past relationships are…
The area I’ve grown the most in relationships is…
Relationships in the past have taught me…
I’ve always viewed marriage as…
My parents had a [ ] marriage.
I learned [ ] about marriage from my parents.
I think the things in marriage you should be honest about are…
The areas I’m concerned about being married are…
The areas I’m excited about being married are…
Marriage for me will be giving up…
Marriage for me will be gaining…
I think separate vacations are…
Traveling together is…
When having conflict, I like to: cool off by myself before discussing the problem; discuss and work the problem out right away; pretend there is no problem and just move on; analyze the problem as to what it is, why it happened, how to avoid it in the future, etc…
Arguing and or fighting is…
The best way to handle disagreements is to…
What I fear most about marriage is…
What I anticipate most about marriage is…
The role of in-laws in marriage is…
The thing that will make me most secure (and insecure) in marriage is…
Dating (each other) after you are married is…
Love is…
“Till death do us part” means…
I think people should be allowed to divorce when…
For me, divorce is…

SEX
I think sex is/will be…
I think a healthy marriage involves sex [ ] per week or [ ] per month.
I’m aware that real sex in marriage differs from Hollywood in the following ways…
I think being naked in front of someone is…
On a scale from one to ten, sex is a [ ] in importance in a good marriage for me.
What sex means to me is…
Talking about sex feels…
Being spontaneous or creative in marriage sex sounds…

MONEY/FINANCES
I think money is…
Spending money is hard/easy for me because…
The biggest waste of money is…
The best investment of money is…
I have [ ] in personal debt.
I use credit cards for…
I think car loans are…
Saving up to buy big ticket items is…
My savings plan is…
My retirement plan is…
The way I feel about tithing is…
I hope my spouse is a: saver, spender, somewhere in between.
On a scale from one to ten, financial security is [ ] in importance to me.
I want to save up to buy a…
The kind of house I want to own someday is…
Other items I hope to own are…
Charities I want to contribute to are…

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

Is my own appearance important to me?
Is it important that my spouse maintains his/her current physical appearance/weight throughout our marriage?
How important is hygiene to me, i.e. brushing teeth, taking showers, deodorant, etc.?
How do I like to dress for special occasions? For church? For dates? For work?
Do I want to be able to have a say in my spouse’s choice of clothing, hairstyle, or general appearance?
Do I care if they have a say in mine?
Is cologne/perfume important to me?
What physical features are attractive to me?

HOUSEHOLD
How clean is a home that is comfortable for me?
What is my favorite thing about home?
What can I not tolerate in my home (noise, clutter, dirt, pets, unmade beds, etc.)?
How many/which jobs do I think I should do to keep my house maintained?
How many/which jobs do I think my spouse should do around the house?
Who should keep the yard maintained (spouse, both, or hired out)?
Who will maintain the cars (spouse, both, or hired out)?
Who will make decisions for and carry out decorating the home (spouse, both, hired out)?
Who will cook family meals?
How many meals do I expect to cook or for my spouse to cook daily?
Who will do the shopping?
Who will do laundry?
Who will do the dishes?
Who will pay bills?

RECREATION
My idea of recreation is…
To me, camping means…
My favorite sports are…
The way I relax on the weekends is by…
What areas of recreation do I want my spouse to accompany me on?
What areas of recreation do I want to do with my friends or alone?
How often will I want to spend time away from the family in my own recreation?

KIDS
I think kids are…
Kids get on my nerves when they…
I love it when kids…
The way I feel about other people’s kids is…
The way kids usually feel about me is…
Kids should be disciplined when…
The way I want to discipline my kids is…
The role of a parent is…
I want [ ] kids someday.
How important is showing physical affection to my kids?
Is telling my kids I love them important?
How much time do I think I should spend with my kids daily?
How important is two-parent interaction and discipline?
I think the bottom line for discipline should be with the (mom or dad)?
How important is it for kids to respect their parents in my home?
When it comes to discipline, I think I will be: lenient, strict, or somewhere in-between?
Where do I want my kids educated (private school, Christian school, home school, etc.)?

HEALTH/HISTORY
Taking care of myself and my health is [ ] important to me.
I think a healthy lifestyle includes…
Physical exercise is…
To me, eating right means…
My idea of a good work out is…
My life fitness plan is to…
My health problems (present or past) are…
I take medication for…
I think life long-term supports are…
People in my family have a history of the following health problems…
People in my family have died at the ages of…

INTIMACY
I feel loved when…
The way I show love to people is…
Which of the following are ways I feel most loved? Time spent with, words of encouragement/praise, gifts, being touched and hugged in a non-sexual manner, when people do things for (serve) me.
Showing affection in front of kids or friends is…
Intimacy is developed through…
I think a good marriage needs at least [ ] hours a day (or week) of focused communication to stay connected.

WORK
My idea of a dream job is…
I think the average number of hours a person can regularly work a week and maintain family commitment is…
Providing for the family is whose responsibility?
My career plans are…
How important is a steady job to me?
What kind of work ethic do I want in my mate?
Where do I draw the line with a job that demands too much time?
My plans for retirement are…

SPIRITUALITY/RELIGION
The way I feel about God is…
I think the way God feels about me is…
On a scale of one to ten, going to church is [ ] in importance for my life and future.
I want to raise my kids in the [ ] faith.
Will God be the center of my home? Why or why not?
If yes, how will I make Him the center?
Prayer is something I do when…
To me, the Bible is…
Other religions besides Christianity are…
Eternal life is accomplished by…
Select and discuss the following. To me, God is: personal, real, distant, vague, angry, happy, loving, harsh, demanding, gentle, kind, good, make-believe, living, powerful, weak, or other.
The way to have a relationship with God is…
For me, including God in my daily life is…
On a scale from one to ten, obeying God and His word is a [ ] to me.
When I die, I…

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 32 (Wednesday 8 September) - Waking Up The GIANTS!

One can almost imagine the fear in Satan as he thinks of the Church's unmeasured potentials. "Let the Church sleep! If she wakes up, she will SHAKE the world!" so the saying goes. Is not the Church the sleeping giant of today? There is more evidence of religious sensation before our eyes than evidence of spiritual regeneration and supernatural phenomenon! Not many Christians today can forget the fact that the devil goes about as a roaring lion, but we seem to have lost sight of the fact that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has defeated the "roaring lion" and therefore, every anointed Samson or Gideon or church can have victory over the "lion of hell". Though wicked men are doing wicked things, God's promise to us is that "the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32). (Leonard Ravenhill) 

Reflection: Isa 52:1-12. Seek God to remove every 'cobweb', dust that has dulled your spirit. Shake loose every self denial, delusion and deception. Ask Him to cleanse and awaken your spirit man. 

Prayer Points
 ■ Implore Him to awaken the Body of Christ to her true spiritual state with deep conviction and repentance to come forth. Renounce and repent of our complacency, self sufficiency, self indulgence, compromise, carnality, etc.

■ Restoring passion and hunger to spend time with Him and His Word in the Body of Christ. Believers to be enlightened to His hope and calling to be His salt and light.

■ Prayer Cells springing forth in all realms of influence, reaching out and establishing strong discipleship in schools, colleges, housing estates, marketplace, etc.

■ Decree an open highway and ask God to raise up His standard over our Church and nation to thwart the plans of the evil one so that His GIANTS will ARISE and SHINE in the days of His power! Declare our GOD REIGNS over Malaysia