My Wife and I Are Attending Our First Couple’s Retreat! #Stoked!


Today my wife and I are attending our first Couple’s Retreat – and we are stoked!

Since this is our first retreat, we’re not quite sure what to expect but we’re looking forward to spending time with other great couples and even getting some time alone – which doesn’t happen often when you have four young daughters! We’re heading to Myrtle Beach for 2.5 days of learning, fun, worship, and growth. Yes, we’re going to the beach in February and, even if it is cold, we’ll enjoy it. It just gives me a good excuse to hold my wife tighter!

Not that I’ve ever needed one.

Now… there are some people who think retreats like these are for those with bad marriages. They say things like:

“See Jim? I told you they were going to that retreat. There must be something going on with their marriage.”

Or,

“I knew they’d been acting weird – they really need that retreat to get them back on track!”

What do I say? I say Congratulations! to those who choose to spend time at a retreat or something similar with their spouse, whatever their current condition.  There may be some couples who are on the verge of walking away from their marriage. Some may have lost the spark they once had and are looking for a way to rekindle the fire. Other couples want to keep their edge.  Most all realize we can always learn something – ways to strengthen our love, ways to be a better partner, ways to better honor God in our marriage.

If you happen to be a critic, I ask – why does it matter why someone has decided to go? If marriages are saved, flames are rekindled, and we learn ways to better love our spouse, then mission accomplished!

As a follow up on Monday, I’ll give you my impression of the retreat, what my wife and I learned, and what I think any couple could gain from attending. I hope all of you have a great weekend!

I know we will!

Rick

Important note: A huge thank you to Jerry and Teresa for watching our daughters for us this weekend! God bless you guys for being such a blessing to us! I know the girls will have a blast with you!
Thanks to Country67 for their photo on today’s post.  See them on Flickr.com!

When Being Christ-like Just Isn’t Convenient.


Most of us have great intentions.

We want to be a good friend.   We want to be kind to strangers.  We want to help those in need.  We want to be there for those who are hurting. Our goal is to be a blessing to others – unselfish and giving – and many of us are! We enjoy volunteering at the church fundraiser. We feel good when we’re able to help one of our struggling friends. We thank the Lord for the opportunity to share with someone less fortunate.

But what do we do when these opportunities arise at an inconvenient time?

What do we do when we’ve had a long day and a friend calls needing someone to talk to? How obedient are we when we have eight dollars in our pocket – for lunch – and God tells us to give it to the shabbily dressed man on the sidewalk? How eager are we to help with a project that will provide absolutely no recognition? Will we still respond with the same Christ like character as before?

Giving of our time, money, and resources is not always easy, in fact many times it’s a sacrifice! It might hurt to give our last eight bucks to a stranger when we’re not sure what it will go to buy. It’s not always easy to listen to someone else’s problems when you feel like you have a pile of your own already. And it sure isn’t easy to invest hours into a project that will offer you no tangible reward.

So why do it?

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  Matthew 25:35 – 36 NIV

“What?” they reply, “When… when did we see you in these circumstances?”

“The King will reply, Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 NIV

Why do it? Do it because you’re doing it for Him. Do it because when you are ministering to those in need, those without anything to offer, and who may not even say thank you – you are ministering to Jesus Himself. That’s a powerful thought! The bible says that when we take care of strangers we may actually be entertaining angels. The man you think will probably take that eight dollars straight to the liquor store just might be an angel…

Now that puts things into a different perspective!

Every time we take the opportunity to minister to someone, and we do it unselfishly for His glory, we are doing it unto Jesus at the same time? Wow!  If I can just remember that, maybe I will start to looking for opportunities to reach out. I won’t be concerned with the outcome or the personal gain, I’ll do it out of love for the person and, ultimately, out of love for my Savior.

In 1 Corinthians 10:24, Paul says…

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

It’s a powerful way of living – putting other’s needs before your own – and it’s what Christ expects from us. But our obedience is not without reward, even if the reward is not here on earth. To the ones who sacrificed their comfort for others, He says…

“… Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34b NIV

What earthly reward could ever beat that?
Photo by Maveric2003, Flickr.com

Who Do You Think You Are?


Have you ever heard the devil ask you this question?

Many times we don’t recognize it as coming from him, we think it’s our own insufficiency and insecurities.  But don’t be fooled, it is an attack from the enemy and if we’re not ready, it can be a debilitating phrase that causes us to doubt everything that God says we are.  It has the potential to make our legs buckle.  Our stomach turn.  Our prayers stop.

“Who do you think you are?”

He shouts it loud in the middle of a tough decision when you are determined to maintain integrity, refusing to compromise.

He says it with a sneer while you are praying and fasting for a closer walk with God.

He whispers it in your ear while you are believing for a great miracle in your life or in the life of someone you know.

The hateful, accusing, lying voice of the enemy will surely penetrate your thoughts at times.  His goal?  To make you question your relationship with Christ, the power you have through Him, and His promises over your life.

“….He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NIV)

While the attack may seem overwhelming at times, knowing who we are in Christ gives us the ability to stand strong in the face of the enemy.  Here are a few of the things God says about His children. Learn these and let them mark the beginning of the end for the devil and his deception in your life.

We are a people who walk with authority

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19 NIV)

We live fearless though perfect love…

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV)

We are free through our relationship with Jesus…

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

We have power through obedience to Christ and standing firm…

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)

While the lies are certain to come, we are not powerless against the attack.   We do not have to fear or cower when the devil attacks us, trying to make us doubt our worth.  We can stand with authority and power in Christ, knowing He stands with us.

The next time the devil asks  “Who do you think you are?”  you can passionately say,

“I’m a blood bought child of God.” 

Then remind of who he is… and his future.