7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

Since I started writing the Marriage Triangle column for The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC), I’ve come across many wonderful articles about how to have a great marriage. I’ll be sharing those here every so often, and will add each article to my Marriage Triangle tab here.

This first one is a wonderful article about marriage by Ron Edmondson, who is a contributing blog writer for the BibleStudyTools site. My favorite line from his article: 

Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It’s a 100/100 deal—each willing to surrender all to the other person.

If you are married and want the best marriage possible—in other words, the kind of marriage God calls us to have—please read Ron Edmondson’s article.

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7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

by Ron Edmondson

I have an advanced degree in counseling and hundreds of hours experience working with couples. I’ve taught marriage retreats for years. I wouldn’t say I’m an “expert” in marriage—because I’m married—and my wife reads my blog. That would be a stretch. Actually, I know more to do than I have the practice of doing. (Isn’t that true for most of us?)

But I’ve learned a few things. I’ve observed things that work and things that don’t.

I think there are some necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage. That’s the point of this post.

Want a healthier marriage?

Read the rest here.

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The Three Questions of Matt. 24

The Three Questions of Matt. 24

From GraceThruFaith

A Feature Article by Jack Kelly  

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)

One of the mistakes Christians make in reading the Bible is caused by our tendency to look at everything through “Church colored glasses.”  By that I mean we read it as if it all applies directly to us without regard for the context or historical background.  I know Paul said everything that was written in the past was written to teach us (Romans 15:4) but that doesn’t mean it was all written to us or about us.  It means we’re supposed to learn from the experiences of those who came before us.  A prime example of this kind of mistake can be found in our interpretation of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25).  I’ll show you what I mean.

Read the rest here.

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Soter Global Ministries: 2015 Albania Medical Mission Trip

Alan 2008Today I want to share something special with you about my son, Alan Romania. That’s him in the photo on the left.

Alan is a Fire Captain/Paramedic for Guadalupe Fire Department in Guadalupe, Arizona. For several years he has also been involved with Soter Global Ministries, Inc. in developing an EMT training system in Albania. 

On March 24th, Alan will leave for his next mission, which will be to teach the first EMT course in Albania. Over a seven-week period, this course will transition nurses to paramedic-like providers.

Alan has set up a Fundly account for donations toward his expenses while on this mission trip. Please think and pray about donating to his Fundly account. The link and information for this is below. 

The photo below shows the Soter Global rescue squad, and is from last year’s mission trip to Albania. Alan is standing in the front row wearing his red fire helmet. Soter’s mission:

Saving lives in the temporal. Saving lives for the eternal.

Soter Global Ministries Seeks to Advance Christ through the Development of Health-Care Systems.

God is truly using these men and women from Soter Global to fill a real medical need as they also share the Gospel.

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From Alan Romania’s Fundly Campaign wall:

Developing Emergency Medical Services to Albania

Alan Romania in red polo shirt (center of photo) with Albania EMS students and Soter Global mission team.

Help send Alan Romania to Albania to continue the development of their Emergency Medical System by teaching the very first EMT course in Albania, transitioning Nurses to Paramedic like Providers over a 7 week mission.

Beloved, thank you for allowing me to share this bit of personal information with you. I am so thankful for Alan and all who are serving with Soter Global to help the Albanians learn how to provide better medical care while sharing the Gospel message with love.

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Please and Thank You

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A couple of weeks ago I encouraged you to try the Thank You Challenge 2015. I didn’t remember until recently how and when my own thank you lifestyle began, so I want to share that with you today.
 
Back in the late 90’s, I served as a counselor at Royal Family Kids camp, for abused and abandoned children. On the last night of camp when all counselors and administration staff gathered to pray, we counselors were surprised to receive a special gift. Although we didn’t know it, the camp administration team had been watching all of us counselors as we interacted with each of the children in our charge. They met each night to search the Scriptures and find just the right verse to describe each of us.
 
To my utter surprise, Hebrews 11:1 was given to me.
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God called me to this ministry even though I felt totally unprepared and uneducated for the task. I tried to ignore God’s call on my heart but He kept showing me that He wanted me to go there. I resisted, until one night at a prayer meeting I heard Him whisper to my anguished heart, “I want you to do this for Me.”

How could I ignore that?

One of the little girls in my charge was a particularly tough case. This sweet little 8-year-old had been shuffled from one foster home to another. She was certain of only one thing: that she could expect abuse or negative treatment on a regular basis. Like so many of these abused children, she learned to bury her true emotions and instead developed a defensive posture, along with the frequent tendency to declare “No!” in response to any suggestions, fun or not. 

Her stubbornness was not easy for any of us to deal with. Whenever we were to start anything new, whether it was crafts, chapel, or even games, her standard response was “No!” She would literally crouch down and keep shouting this over and over again. I found myself praying almost constantly that entire week. My prayers would start, “Please, God…” and as the Lord helped me deal with each difficulty, they then became, “Thank you, God…” 

Our goal was to give these children a week of carefree fun, but her tantrums kept testing my patience and that of the camp directors. After a couple of days of this negative behavior, we had a discussion about sending her home early which greatly upset me. How could we take away this one week of fun from someone who rarely had the chance to do anything enjoyable? I pleaded with the directors to give her another chance and they agreed. 

That night I asked God what I could say or do to help her adjust better because I wanted her to enjoy her camping experience. He showed me that her life was full of commands. She was never asked about anything. He then gave me one word: choices. 

Even at camp she was expected to adhere to rules and a schedule, which in itself is not a bad thing, but difficult for her to deal with considering what the rest of her life was like. As I prayed about all of this, God showed me that if she was given some limited choices, her responses might be different. 

That week at camp was a mixture of faith and fear, trust and anxiety, exhilaration and fatigue. God heard my Please and Thank You prayers and honored them as I faced each new challenge. The completely awesome part of this whole story is that before camp week was over, my stubborn yet sweet little charge asked Jesus Christ into her heart. And not only that, but a few years later, I heard that she was a counselor-in-training there! 

Beloved, Please and Thank You are very powerful words. They bless the giver as much or maybe more than the receiver.

 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
—James 4:10

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

—G.K. Chesterton

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From the Great Omission to the Great Commission

By Anna Popescu
First published at Cataclysm Missions International on  March 1, 2015  

From the Great Omission to the Great Commission

But the eleven disciples went into Galilee,
to the mountain where Jesus had sent them.
When they saw him, they bowed down to him, but some doubted. 

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, 

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
Go, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 
teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you.

Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

—Matthew 28:16-20, ASV

Do you believe you are not equipped to share the Gospel message? Perhaps you feel as if you would not be able to find the right words to say to someone about how Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind. Maybe you’re somewhat shy and tend to keep things to yourself. Or you could simply be afraid.

Any of these could be true but none of them are valid reasons for not sharing your Christian faith with others who need to hear it. Place your complete trust that what Jesus told his disciples is true:

I have said these things to you, while still living with you.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives, give I to you.
Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
—John 14:25-27

Please pray about and ponder the impact you can have on people in need of a Savior as you watch this video of Jonathan Cahn preaching “From the Great Omission to the Great Commission.”

 

Jonathan Cahn is the founder of Hope of the World. According to the “About” page on their website, Hope of the World “is devoted to giving out the Word of God to all peoples – to fulfill the Biblical mandate & Great Commission of God – to bring salvation to the Jew, to the Gentile, & to all unreached peoples of every land. Our mission is to spread the Gospel of salvation through radio, television, & shortwave broadcast, literature, internet, recordings, Bible distribution & compassion projects to the needy around the world.”

Please visit Hope of the World to find out more.

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Sing to the Lord

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Sing to the Lord,
for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.
—Isaiah 12:5-6

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Tax Time

Here’s another great post by my friend and contributing writer, Patricia Knight.

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Tax Time

By Patricia Knight

Soon we will be preoccupied calculating our annual Federal income tax returns, begrudgingly sending our sums to the IRS.  Since most of us attempt to spend our personal funds wisely, it is baffling to accept that the big machinery of government may be using our funds inefficiently and with impunity.

Taxes have been demanded of workers for centuries. King “Solomon had twelve governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and his royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year”(1 Kings 4:7). Lest you think that a small task, the following list provides the daily requirements for feeding King Solomon’s court, totaling  thousands of people:

  • 185 bushels of flour
  • 375 bushels of meal
  • 10 head of stall-fed cattle
  • 20 pasture-fed cattle
  • 100 sheep
  • 100 goats
  • Deer, gazelle, roebucks and choice fowl (1 Kings 4:22).

In Nehemiah’s day there was a loud outcry from the people because their tax rates were so astronomically high. The Jewish people were paying as much as one half of their harvest produce and a portion of the tithes to support the temple.  Taxes placed such an extreme financial burden on some families, they were forced to mortgage their fertile fields to pay their assessment. Others in desperate situations sold their own sons and daughters into slavery (Nehemiah 5:1-5).

It is estimated that during Jesus’ time the Jews were paying thirty to forty percent of their income for taxes and temple dues. No wonder the position of tax collector was so despised and the official himself deplored for padding his pockets by collecting more taxes than were actually due.

One day the Pharisees, the religious-political leaders among the Israelite people,  deliberately attempted to trap Jesus by asking Him an ambiguous question. It was a verbal snare designed to destroy Jesus’ credibility no matter how He answered. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “‘Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’”(Matthew 22:17). 

Jesus responded, “‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax’” (Matthew 22:18). Jesus then asked the men to describe whose image and inscription was engraved on the coin. When the Pharisees replied to Jesus that both sides of the coin focused on Caesar, Jesus emphatically responded, “‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’” (Matthew 22:21).

Jesus instructed that all people have obligations to the government as long as those demands do not conflict with their allegiance to God. The Pharisees were amazed by Jesus’ answer and left in utter defeat. They failed to acknowledge that they were daily reaping the benefits of their taxes paid to Rome by gaining access to Caesar’s currency for monetary exchange, traveling on Rome’s government subsidized highways, and enjoying of a degree of military protection and peace.

In our current culture, there are many requirements to our government that do not conflict with our obligations to God. The apostle Paul taught that the people’s main priority is dedication to God: “‘Everyone should submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted’”(Romans 13:1-3).  

Christians are instructed to obey laws and to respect elected officials, as a matter of civil obedience, but also for conscience’s sake (Romans 13:5). We are instructed to pay taxes and to show respect for authority, even if we are aware of corruption. Injustice and fraud likely exist in all governments, yet God rules over them all. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors (1 Peter 2:13).

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Let us readily participate in any democratic process to lessen the bureaucratic burden of tax laws. Consistent prayer, asking God to advocate change, will unleash power and potential for revision beyond any strategy man can employ.

Two absolutes in life are death and taxes. There is more truth to that age-old axiom than we care to admit. It may seem like taxes have existed forever, but a Christian defines forever as eternal life in heaven. “The imperfection of justice in this life is the strongest proof that in the next world justice and vengeance will be fulfilled to the utmost” (David Augsburger).

Let us adopt Jesus’ attitude when He was apprehended at the temple at age twelve, instructing the teachers of religious law. When questioned about His educational endeavor, Jesus responded, “‘I must be about my Father’s business’” (Luke 2:49). Who among us has the time or energy to complain about tax rates if we prioritize our life’s activities to conform to our Savior’s objectives?

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Welcome Patricia Knight!

If you’ve been around this blog for awhile, you’ll recognize the name Patricia Knight because she has graciously allowed me to share some of her devotionals here from time to time. Now Pat has agreed to contribute to my blog on a monthly basis, so it seemed appropriate to tell you a little bit about her.

As I’ve shared here before, I consider Pat to be one of my Christian mentors. She is my far-away friend whom I met online in 2003 when we were both writing devotionals for the same online chronic illness ministry. Although Pat and I have never met in person, we share such a strong love for the Lord that our bond of friendship has strengthened immeasurably over the years.

Pat and I have spoken by phone a few times but our daily lives don’t mesh well enough to make it possible very often. We live on opposite sides of the country so there is that 2-3 hour time difference. We also each endure chronic pain illnesses so our awake times are very different. Even though Pat lives with extreme pain most of the time, her constant encouragement and thoroughly trusting dependence on the Lord have shown me how to live joyfully no matter how I feel. As she wrote on a card she sent me recently: 

As iron sharpens iron so one woman sharpens another.
—Proverbs 27:17

In this case, I like her use of “woman” instead of “person” as the passage was originally written. Yes, she and I do sharpen each other to keep us grounded in our faith.

Pat is the author of REJOICE! and PURE JOY, two books filled with joyful devotionals. Besides having written encouraging devotionals for an online chronic illness ministry, she currently maintains a ministry of handwritten encouraging notes for those who are hurting. I have been blessed many times over the years with one of Pat’s beautiful notes!

Pat, I’m so thankful for the blessing of you in my life!

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A Ransom

I haven’t written lately from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, but today I’d like to share a particularly appropriate name for Our Lord during this time before Easter.

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”  

—Revelation 5:9-10

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A Ransom

The son of man came . . .
to give his life a ransom for many. 
—Mark 10:45

“A Ransom for many!” Here Christ is set forth as the penalty paid for the sins of the world. As sinners under the judgment wrath of God, He took our place and paid the penalty and the price of our deliverance with His own blood. Listen to the drops of blood as they fall from hands and feet and wounded side! They voice the words, “The ransom price for my sins and for the sins of the whole world.Would that men everywhere would believe it and receive it. How dear, how precious is He to us, washed clean in His blood and freed forever from the punishment due us.

Lord, may our ransomed souls  well up in praise to Thy glorious Name! Amen.

[Taken from Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, by Charles E. Hurlburt and T. C. Horton. Copyright © 2002 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.]

My thoughts

No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.
—Psalm 49:7-9

If you’re anything like me, the thought of what Jesus went through on the cross—just for us sinners—boggles the mind. He who was without sin, came to earth in human form to illustrate for us the right way to live. And not only that, He sacrificed Himself—just for us sinners—so that we could have the chance to live with Him in heaven forever!

Doesn’t that amaze you? And doesn’t it make you want to share this Good News with others?

Beloved, let me ask you:

how can we not share our JOY about what Jesus has done in our lives?

If it wasn’t for Jesus Christ dying for our sake, there would be no way we could get to heaven on our own. We would therefore be doomed to an existence in hell, where we would agonizingly suffer for eternity.

So, let me ask you again: how can we not share our JOY about what Jesus has done in our lives? Yes, I agree with the author of this piece from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, who said so well that we need to believe it and receive it, but there is also the challenge to share it with those who need to hear it!

Jesus is our Ransom. Nothing we can do in our own strength can ever repay Jesus for what He did for us on the cross at Calvary . . . nothing except to believe that He alone paved the way for us to live in heaven forever:

  • ADMIT that you are a sinner.
  • BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you.
  • CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life.

And then share your HOPE and JOY with others!

A friend recently shared this video with me of Eric Ludy’s The Gospel. It is about 11-1/2 minutes long, but so worth it to watch it in its entirety!

The Gospel is an Ellerslie Mission Society film.

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Baptisms

Reblogged from As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

I so appreciate my bloggy friends and what they write to inspire and bless us. A couple of weeks ago I shared a great post—What must I do to be saved?—from Raymond Gary Candy at As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith. Today’s post, Baptisms – The First Steps with Christ,  is a great followup.

Once again Raymond, thank you for blessing us with your writing!

Baptisms

The First Steps with Christ-

Someone might say, “I’ve just accepted Jesus Christ and been born again. What do I do next?”

If you have recently asked Christ into your heart and confessed Him as Lord of your life, then you are no doubt feeling a great joy and thankfulness to the Lord for washing away all of your sins, saving your soul, and giving you a new life in Christ.

I’m sure that you are feeling a great love for God because of His mercy and grace that He has bestowed upon you.

“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1John 4:19)

You have been, as Jesus said, “born again”, and as such you are like a new born infant in the eyes of God.

And just like a new born baby, you have been washed (in the cleansing blood of Christ), swaddled (in the fresh linen of the righteousness of God in Christ), and all God asks of you for now is to be nurtured by Him (through prayer and reading His word), grow, and do as He asks.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23)

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Read the rest here.

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