Twisted Thinking (Mark 11:27-33) – May 15, 2022

Marital Communication 101 – Session Four

Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. The Right Questions…

Matthew 19:3-6 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Jesus found it necessary to do two things for these Pharisees to help them have a better understanding of what they were asking. First He chose to take them back to the beginning. So often as was the case with these men, we want answers to our questions. What we don’t realize is that our questions are flawed due to our skewed perception and so an answer to our question as stated will simply propel our flawed thinking. Jesus understood this. The Pharisees were asking a question about divorce. Divorce is a result of flawed thinking, therefore any primary answer to that question would have served only to keep the conversation headed in a flawed direction. Jesus first had to correct the direction of the conversation and did so. How? He answered their question about divorce in terms of marriage. He made an attempt to steer the dialogue into a much more profitable direction by talking with them about their marriages. The second thing Jesus did here was to reorient the Pharisees in terms of their skewed thinking about marriage. They were looking at marriage as a temporary condition; Jesus reiterated that God, the inventor of the institution, saw it as a lifelong covenant.

Jesus illustrated for them in terms they well understood (the Old Testament scriptures) that marriage was intended to take two people and make them one, duplicating what had been done by creating Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Adam and Eve were one flesh from the word go. Jesus was pointing out that through marriage, God re-creates that situation for every man and woman who marry. Jesus also made it a point that it was God who had married them to their spouses, and what God does we can’t figure out in our limited ability how to undo.

The analogy I like to use is that of a loaf of bread. The baker starts out with separate ingredients. Though he may add more ingredients than oil, water, yeast and flour, those are the necessary ones. After the ingredients are mixed and have had time to rise, the dough that is formed is thoroughly mixed through the process of kneading. The baker does this with great care until the dough is just right, a compliment of just the right amount of the incorporated ingredients. That dough created just as the baker wanted, with informed intent he shapes it into loaves and places it in the oven. A short time later, the dough emerges something new…bread. In the same way the baker has taken the multiple ingredients and made them one thing that we can’t figure out how to successfully separate again, what God has joined, no one should try to separate.

We may have difficulty understanding our “one flesh” condition but it is our reality none the less. Paul certainly recognized this and called it a great mystery (Ephesians 5:32). Jesus said it though, “They are no longer two, but one flesh.” When we are walking comfortably in our new reality we have little problem accepting it, we experience trouble however when we see our oneness as a restriction instead of a blessing. In those times we can think, even if only momentarily that it would be easier if we were able to live, act and move singularly again. That is however no longer reality, nor is it even correct. Ecclesiastes tells us clearly that two are better than one. Learning to walk comfortably in our oneness with another at all times is what is best, and to some degree the learning curve is what God intends. He desires that as we learn to be one with our spouse, we will learn what it truly means to be one with Him.

Questions to Answer:

  1. What does being “no longer two, but one flesh” mean to you and your spouse?
  2. What ways do you feel as though you and your spouse are one?
  3. In what ways do you wish you noticed more oneness in your marriage?

Actions to Take:

  1. Pray together that God will help you to have a fuller understanding of your oneness and that you will be open to all that means.

So now, looking to Him to complete your understanding of the oneness you share with your spouse…Go be Awesome!

The High Cost of Building Materials – May 12, 2022

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…The High Cost of Building Materials

Have you been to a Lowe’s or Home Depot to buy any building materials lately? The cost of nearly every kind of material necessary for home construction has gone through the roof! I was at the home center the other day and what almost causes me more dismay than anything else is how much I sound like an old man when I am there. “This never used to cost this much!” “In my day you could get these for a song” or the best one, “There was a day they couldn’t give these things away!” Yep, all I have to do is stroll through the lumber department and I sound like the old guy I am becoming faster than I want to admit. In all seriousness though, I don’t know how people afford to build a house in this day and age. There is one building material however that has always cost more than you or I will probably ever fully grasp.

Ephesians 2:19-22 in the New King James Version says: 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.

I often lean on the old economics definition of value to illustrate our worth to God. In Economics 101 every student is given the following definition of value: The value of a thing is determined by what a willing buyer will give a willing seller. If someone is willing to pay a certain price for something and the owner of that thing is willing to accept that price, then the value of that thing is determined in that agreement. This paradigm is also represented in our relationship with God. John 3:16 tells us that God (the willing buyer) loved the whole world so much that He gave His Only Son to die in our place (the offered price) so that we could live eternally with Him. Accepting His gift as offered; Lordship of our lives (we become the willing seller). When we accept His offer and give our lives to Him, we also accept His determination of our value. We are worth more to God than the life of His One and Only Son. He was willing to buy us at that high a price to do what the scripture referenced above says…He wants to use us as building material to construct a holy house for Him to live in. Talk about high construction costs!

When I buy materials from the home center if I get them home and find they are not perfect, I immediately become frustrated. I love the fact that this scripture points out that there are no second class citizens in God’s kingdom. There may be some who are more mature than I, there are some who may not struggle with the same things I do, but none of us are perfect. It is not our current condition that determines our acceptance by the Builder, it is our faith in Jesus Christ. The fact that we have accepted that He is Lord and have aligned ourselves with Him, that is what determines our usefulness to Him. In Him we are completely accepted just as we are…but He has incredible plans to construct something perfect of our lives! As members of His household, and citizens of His kingdom we are called His building blocks, or living stones being fashioned into a home for the very Spirit of God! We make ourselves available to His plans through the instruction of His word and relying on Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone to keep us straight and true.

A few years ago I fulfilled a lifelong dream of building a house from foundation to roofline. After the site was leveled and the footers dug and poured, arguably the most important task of the entire Job commenced. The corner blocks for the foundation had to be laid to be built upon. When they were set correctly, the rest of the foundation could be completed. The placement of the first of those corners was critical. If it were not right, nothing else would be either. The foundation had to be true for the walls to go up straight. If the foundation was off, even the roof shingles would have ended up askew. The entire integrity of the house was dependent upon a firm and true foundation.

1 Peter 2:6-7 in the New Living Translation says; And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are His holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.”

Jesus is the chief cornerstone. He is that first and all-important building block for us…His church. As living stones, we have only one purpose, to get into, and stay in line with the Cornerstone, so that the results of our lives can be full of His integrity. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior He also must become our Lord, and that means we must fit into His building plans where He tells us to. With Him as Lord that leaves us only one thing to be…willing servants.

So now, understanding we are among the costliest of building materials, live a life that is straight, and true, safely in line with The Cornerstone, and go be awesome!

Marital Communication 101 – Session Three

Hi, this is pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message, this will be the third installment in a series I am calling Marital Communication 101

For the past two weeks we have looked at the often difficult topic of marital communication. In the first session I spoke of the important difference between communication and mutual understanding. There I encouraged you to recognize that even when we don’t arrive at mutual understanding, we still communicate with each other through things like body language, tone, volume, etc. I spoke to the fact that if we are not careful we may communicate some things to each other that we don’t mean and that aren’t even true. Frustration brought on by a lack of arriving at mutual understanding can cause us to communicate things we do not wish our spouse to think.

In the second, I spoke of a few of the variables that can lead to misunderstanding such as; differing process of thought, differing families of origin as well as the fact that we each have our own unique set of core beliefs. I discussed the fact that those core belief systems we each have often cause us to interpret the same information very differently and that can lead to breakdowns in mutual understanding. When this is the case it is vital that we recognize that differences in any of these areas or others do not make one of you right and the other wrong. You can, and often are, both right to think the way you each do given the variables that make up who you are and what you believe as individuals. The objective is not necessarily agreement, but rather that you each have heard and find the other person’s thoughts on the matter valuable.

One of the major roadblocks to successful marital communication is frustration. That condition results from a faulty belief that communication is only effective if it results in agreement. When we are striving for mutual agreement rather than mutual understanding we unintentionally set ourselves up for failure. Understanding that you and your spouse think differently than each other on nearly every subject, agreement will require that one of you admit that your spouse’s ideas and thoughts are more valuable than your own. The “loser” will then have to abandon their own thoughts (which they know have merit) and adopt their spouse’s thoughts as their own. Even when this is accomplished without visible tension, silently held frustration usually exists. In most marriages this misguided goal means that one spouse or the other will triumph in determining what the “agreed” upon outcome will be, and the other is forced to acquiesce. In some marriages the winning position will vacillate between spouses with the husband winning some while the wife succeeds in others. In less fair instances either the husband or the wife will be the victor in a far more lopsided final count.

When mutual agreement is the goal of communication, silent frustration is not the only kind that can abound. We can, and often do become overtly frustrated when a meeting of the minds is the expected outcome of communication. Actually this can cause a total breakdown altogether in the process. Often times as soon as it becomes apparent in a discussion that husband and wife to not see the matter at hand the same way, the process of “convincing” erupts. While one spouse is explaining their thoughts on the matter the other is not listening, but rather formulating a response designed to devalue their spouse’s ideas illustrating their own to be superior. Having proceeded to develop their own thoughts communication ceases to employ one of its two necessary components…listening. This breakdown soon becomes apparent and frustration and anger quickly follow. James 1:19 in the New Living Translation says: Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. This scripture warns that when we fail to listen and desire instead to speak our own mind, we risk anger on one or both of our parts as a result. As I mentioned last week, Proverbs 18:2 tells us that A fool has no delight in understanding, but only in expressing his own heart. The breakdowns in communication that I have just described come from the very foolishness that this scripture speaks of.

However, the reverse truth offers to us the correct objective of successful communication. A wise spouse seeks to understand the other and refrains from being pushy with their own thoughts. In other words, a wise person truly wants to know what another’s thoughts are and why they think what they do. Verbally seeking this information alone, validates the other’s thoughts as valuable. Making the point that we need to know our spouse’s thoughts because they are valuable to us…goes even further. When we take these wise steps we are exchanging the purpose of successful communication from agreement for mutual understanding. When the latter is the goal as opposed to the former there is no need for frustration, and the probability of success skyrockets. One might argue that mutual understanding sounds wonderful, and it might keep frustration at bay, but don’t decisions still have to be made? Don’t we sometimes still have to come to some sort of conclusion as to how to move forward? Yes.

Thankfully scripture has an answer for that as well. Proverbs 31:10-11 speak to this very thing. Essentially what those verses say is that if we will give equal value to each other’s thoughts they can be used to collaborate and arrive at a decision that has greater potential than even the best thoughts of one spouse alone. Here God is admonishing that success comes from wisdom which is arrived at only after carefully considering both spouse’s ideas. As the two thought processes exhibiting the intelligence of the husband and wife are married together, they give birth to wisdom…and true wisdom promotes success.

Questions to answer:

  1. When you consider it carefully what do you generally hold as the goal of successful communication between you and your spouse?
  2. How do each of you recognize when frustration is hijacking the process of successful marital communication for you?

Actions to take:

  1. Discuss some strategies the two of you could employ to trade mutual agreement for mutual understanding in your marital communication skills.
  2. Without using any form of the word frustrate, discuss how you feel when you see communication breaking down between the two of you.

So now, choosing to increase the success rate of your marital communication by exchanging the goal of mutual agreement for mutual understanding…Go Be Awesome!

A Day to Celebrate Mom!

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…A Day to Celebrate Mom!

Proverbs 31:25-31 speaks of the virtuous mother. That scripture is paraphrased in the Living Bible as follows: She is a woman of strength and dignity and has no fear of old age. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says.  She watches carefully all that goes on throughout her household and is never lazy. Her children stand and bless her; so does her husband. He praises her with these words: “There are many fine women in the world, but you are the best of them all!” Charm can be deceptive and beauty doesn’t last, but a woman who fears and reverences God shall be greatly praised. Praise her for the many fine things she does. These good deeds of hers shall bring her honor and recognition from people of importance.

Moms are incredible people. There is no part of their being that is not impacted by being a mom. Their bodies are literally stretched to allow them to carry a baby to full term in pregnancy. The imposition on them does not start or stop there though. They are impacted hormonally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially…Moms are affected by being moms in every conceivable way (and yes, that pun was intended). Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be an expiration date on being a mom. I have a theory that every mom upon holding her child in the first moments of bonding looks into that child’s eyes and says to herself, “I am going to be this baby’s mommy forever!”

When I think of the moms that are a personal part of my life I can fairly quickly become overwhelmed with all that they have added to my life. The scripture above describes the kind of mom that is virtuous or in other words fulfilling her calling as a godly mom. It names several of her virtuous characteristics, many of which I see in the women in my life that are moms. It also predicts that this kind of mom will be called blessed by both their children and their husband.

When I think of those women in my life who are moms, naturally my first thoughts go toward my own mother. She is a woman full of grace and dignity. She selflessly concerns herself with those around her. Though daily she suffers physically she focuses on the needs of those she loves and not on her own body’s weaknesses. She has always been industrious and has taken great joy in providing well for her family. And yes, I will always be her baby…even at 56 years of age if I enter her home she will seek to meet any need I may have though it is obvious to both of us that I could “do it myself”. Mom is able to be who she is because of Jesus…without Him she wouldn’t be capable of any of it. I think she would also tell you that it took a lot of Jesus to raise her three boys.

The second mom that comes to mind is my sweet wife. If my mom had her hands full raising three boys it was at the very least an equal challenge for my wife to raise four girls and one boy. When I think of her several characteristics come to mind. Loving, careful, tenacious, supportive, and fun those are only the beginnings of a complete list. We have a blended family and those come with their own set of challenges. Not to use a cliché but she is not a step-mom, but she is a mom who stepped up and into my children’s lives. When we married she understood that she was not marrying a man only, but another entire family and she did so with an open heart and open arms. I watched in awe over the years as she interacted with each of our five children in ways that were clearly for their best even if it made her life more difficult. It is absolutely true that there are many fine women in the world but that she is the best of them all!

I also have daughters who are moms. Next to my mom and my wife, they are the best moms I know. When I watch them interact with their children I see the following qualities that make them virtuous moms; encouragement, patience, gentleness and kindheartedness just to name a few. One of our daughters has not yet become a mom physically but has one of the best “mom hearts” I have ever seen. Her unconditional acceptance of each of her nephews and nieces has no limits, and I know that the children God will eventually gift her with will be blessed by her all the more for her experience.

What words come to mind when you rise up and call the moms in your life blessed? This Mother’s Day I encourage you to do more than send a card or flowers or give your mom a gift. There is nothing wrong with those things and I know they are appreciated by moms everywhere. However, I encourage each of you to additionally take the Proverbs 31 challenge. Stand up and bless the moms in your life, consider carefully the words you would use to describe their best mom characteristics…and then let them know.

Proverbs 31:31 Give her the reward she has earned; she should be praised in public for what she has done. (New Century Version)

So now, this Mother’s Day, stand up and give honor to the moms in your life…go tell her why you think she is so awesome!

Crossroad 19th Anniversary – Look what the Lord has Done

Marital Communication 101 – Session Two

Hi, this is pastor Ken, thanks for joining me for another Monday Marriage Message. This is the second in a short series I am calling Marital Communication 101.Welcome!

Last week I said that many people assume they will be good communicators in their marriages based on several things. First the obvious, they have been communicating with other people with some degree of success since before they even knew how to speak. Second, while dating most people find communication with their future spouse to be easy…almost effortless. So why does it have to be so difficult now?

The fact that husbands and wives have completely different thought processes as I shared in three previous editions entitled Differences That Divide 1, 2 & 3 is one major reason mutual understanding in our marriages can be so difficult to attain. If you have not listened to those podcasts or do not remember what I shared there, I would encourage you to review those. The differences between compartmentalized and relational thinking are notable and cause men and women to naturally arrive at differing conclusions even when they are considering the same information. This difference in thought process often causes us to attach different meanings to the same words strung together in sentences. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs gives a humorous example of this in his book Love and Respect. He says there, that when a woman says “I have nothing to wear.”, she means that she has nothing new to wear. When a man says “I have nothing to wear.”, he means he has nothing clean to wear. Same words in the sentence, different meaning. However, as I stated in those previously mentioned podcasts (the third one specifically), this difference is not a flaw or a problem just because we find it problematic. God is a good, good Father and has nothing but the best of intention toward us. Our misunderstanding of His purposes concerning our creation does not constitute a mistake on His part. In reality we should be just as grateful and enamored by any differences we find between us and our spouse as we are for the differences in our physical bodies that we appreciate with regularity. Differing thought processes while many times providing a difficulty to arrive at mutual understanding is but one in a long line of reasons we fail to communicate as we want to.

Sometimes our momentary mental or emotional position leaves us vulnerable to misunderstanding. There are times when we respond to our spouse while still considering difficulties caused by others outside of the marriage such as co-workers, the kids, or the person who cut us off on the road two minutes before we got home. Our spouse may have had nothing to do with the adversity, but we allow our residual frustration to fall on them nonetheless. If they are yet unaware of the previously experienced difficulties, they may (and likely will) interpret that the frustration they sense in our response is directed toward them. Scenarios just like this one and others resulting in misunderstandings between spouses occur countless times every day around the world. Again misinterpreted intent is but one of the many things that can quickly and easily derail mutual understanding, and cause people to think they have failed to communicate.

Add to the list things like families of origin and you will have the beginnings (actually you will have only scratched the surface) of a long list of things that cause us to misconstrue what our spouse is trying to communicate. It was in your family of origin (the setting you grew up in) where you developed the majority of your core beliefs. Those core beliefs are the things you decided were inarguable truths, and they were mostly developed through the eyes of a child with little life experience, I might add. They are the basis by which you decipher everything in the world around you. Studies show that the vast majority of core beliefs are determined and decided upon by the age of seven. Core beliefs are sometimes known as limiting beliefs for two reasons. First we address our responses to others and actions based on the ”truths” of our core or limiting beliefs. Second we find it difficult to, or limit accepting as true only those things that line up with our unique set of core beliefs. I am not trying to bore or bamboozle you with psychological mumbo-jumbo but our core beliefs are very much a part of how we interpret everything we encounter. So how does this affect mutual understanding in your marriage? Newsflash – your spouse grew up in a different family of origin than you did, and developed their own set of core beliefs which do not perfectly match yours!

To give example of this from my own life I offer the following. In my family of origin, the only time I ever heard the phrase “Does that suit you?” was when my mom was being sarcastic or condescending toward someone. My mother being the gracious woman that she is with the influence of the Holy Spirit in her life only uttered that phrase then on rare occasions of undue frustration.  Fast forward to my marriage with my lovely wife at 34 years of age. We live in southern Delaware where she was born and raised. I was raised in various towns and cities along the east coast but did not come to live in southern Delaware until we married. In this region, and in her family the phrase “Does that suit you?” means nothing more than “Will that work for your schedule?”, and is actually asked as a courtesy. However, because of the limiting beliefs I accepted as truth growing up, I only heard it as sarcasm and a lack of graciousness caused by sheer frustration. For the first several years of our marriage I could not understand for the life of me, why perfectly normal conversations with my wife about the things we had to fit into our schedules had to end with her being totally frustrated and sarcastic with me. They didn’t and she wasn’t. Those misconceptions and misinterpretations of her lack of patience with me existed only in my misunderstanding, and caused me to think she was coming against me when that was not at all the case.

As I mentioned in the first of those three podcast episodes I eluded to earlier, you will find a list of ten things there that can cause us to fail to arrive at mutual understanding. That is as I mentioned moments ago, just the beginnings of a complete list. So what to do? Proverbs 18:2 says: A fool has no delight in understanding, but only in expressing his own heart. This means that when we choose to decipher what is meant by what our spouse says or does only by our limiting core beliefs, and we do not give them an honest chance to explain their words or actions, we are being foolish. The reverse truth contained in this scripture is that a wise person will give their spouse the opportunity to explain that their words and actions came from a position of good will…and then choose to believe them. Yes, this is going to mean an argument with that child inside of us who is trying to tell us how to interpret our spouse’s intentions, but that kid couldn’t have gotten everything right…could they? Besides, much better to argue with the remnants of the child you once were than the spouse actually present with you now.

Questions to Answer:

  1. Which of the things above do you believe contribute to a lack of mutual understanding in your marriage?
  2. How much of what I have shared with you today do you recognize as being true for you?
  3. How willing are you to adjust the ‘Go to’ conclusions you draw quite naturally to develop new strategies to gain mutual understanding with your spouse on a more regular basis?

Actions to Take:

  1. Discuss some recent times when misunderstanding ensued, and ask your spouse to express their heart toward you on that subject prior to the misunderstanding…then be willing to accept what they tell you as truth.
  2. As a strategy to minimize misunderstanding going forward, whenever you feel your spouse is likely to misinterpret your words or actions, begin the conversation by expressing your good will. Take time up-front to explain that the things you are going to talk about are on your mind because you love and respect them. This will do two valuable things. First, it will allow them to know where your heart is and interpret your words with your good will toward them in mind. Second, it will cause you to be more cautious, choosing only words that you would want to hear from someone with your best in mind.

So now, being wise and seeking to understand your spouse’s best intentions toward you, argue with the child inside you who is trying to tell you different, and…Go Be Awesome!

Words Remembered – April 28, 2022

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Words Remembered.

My dad has quite a few “sayings” that if I have heard him say once, I have likely heard them escape his lips hundreds if not thousands of times over the years. Perhaps you have the same memories of someone you listened to a lot growing up. One of the things he said and still does to this day is…”Good Lord willing, and the creeks don’t rise”. Many of you may have heard that one as well, if you know my dad, you’ve probably heard it come directly from him. The funny thing is, though we say it about some plan we have made, it is actually a biblically sound statement.

There is much debate as to where the saying originated. Some say it was in a letter penned by Col. Benjamin Hawkins of North Carolina, a Continental Congress senator and general superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1796 to 1818. As the story goes he wrote this as a part of a reply upon being summoned to the nation’s capital, indicating he would indeed be there if it were at all possible. Others attribute the saying to Abraham Lincoln or Andrew Jackson among others. There doesn’t seem to be any way of determining the actual originator with absolute certainty.

The meaning of the saying is that barring some unexpected yet completely reasonable obstruction one will do what has just been promised or stated as their intent. As I said a moment ago it is actually biblical that we would attach some caveat such as this one to promises and plans that we make.

James 4:13-15 in the New Living Translation says: Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” The obvious message here is that while we may have intentions to do one thing or another, we are actually in control of very little in comparison to what we are not in control of regarding the plans we make. God is the one in control of the vast majority of variables that might affect our plans. Creeks rising to the point of being uncross-able  due to heavy rains is but one of the many things outside our control. This scripture points out that the duration of our very lives is not in our hands therefore making plans to fill time we do not yet possess more than a little presumptuous.

So, should we just stop making plans altogether? Although this would appear at first glance to be an all-too enticing idea to pass up, for those like me, who like to ‘fly by the seat of their pants’, unfortunately the answer is no, we should not stop making those pesky plans. For those of you who like to make plans (though the rest of us have no idea why it makes you happy to do so), stop fretting, making plans does not go against scripture. Note what verse 15 above says though. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” This verse is indicative of much more than the mere fact that our lives and our continued existence on this planet is in God’s hands alone. It also gives us a framework for setting the plans we do make. If the Lord wants us to, is the defining part of the statement, and outlines for us what plans should be made to begin with. Proverbs 16:3 tells us, Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. If our plans are for things God would want, then they are permissible plans, but still should be made with the caveat that we will do those things only if He allows us to…if the creeks don’t rise.

Actually, God’s word does advise that we make plans for the future in numerous ways. Financially speaking and to make provision for our families, His word offers several instances of instruction. Proverbs 21:5 says: Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. Additionally, verse 20 of that same chapter tells us that; In the house of the wise there are stores of choice food and oil, but the fool devours all he has. Clearly, God desires that we make plans to save for a rainy day to quote another saying from days gone by. God wants us to make plans for future needs. His word indicates that we should plan ahead to be able to care for those He has entrusted to us. The fact of the matter is that the entirety of His word is given that we might see our need for and know how to plan toward our spiritual future. We are unable to work for our salvation, we know that, but we are also told to do things like store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).

Let us not fail to remember that although we may be permitted to make plans we should never forget who controls the vast majority of the variables affecting those plans. In fact, I would submit that it is through God’s ability to easily control what for us are the uncontrollable variables, that He is able to fulfill the following scriptures without usurping the free will His word indicates He has endowed us with. Proverbs 16:9 says: We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 19:21 reiterates:   Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

With these things in mind, I think it most important for those of us who like to plan and those of us who would rather not, when we do…or must, remember the all-encompassing wisdom found in Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

So now, in wisdom and with renewed understanding, make plans only with the addition of “Good Lord willing, and the creeks don’t rise”…and go be awesome!

Marital Communication 101 – April 25, 2022

Hi this is pastor Ken thanks for taking the time to join me again for my Monday Marriage Message. I’ll call this and the next few episodes…Marital Communication 101

I chose that title for various reasons. Many couples who come to see me for counseling never really learned how to communicate with one another. It was simply assumed that since they each had been communicating with some level of success since before they even knew how to talk that they would be able to do so with their spouse. For many, regardless of past and present experience with others, they find they are not as successful at communicating within their marriages as they imagined they would be. As anyone who has been to college knows the beginning classes in any subject are numbered 101. If this has been your experience trying somewhat unsuccessfully to communicate with your spouse…Welcome to Marital Communication 101, come on in and have a seat.

I also chose the title of these episodes because many would say they have tried at least 101 ways to communicate with their spouse, and none of it has worked. If that’s you, don’t think you are alone. Often times when I ask a couple on their first visit to see me, “How can I help?” They answer that they have trouble communicating. Usually, both of them are frustrated by the fact that they are seemingly misunderstood more often than not. They wonder how it can be that the person that was so easy to talk to when they were dating, they can’t seem to converse with now about anything without finding they are both frustrated.

One further reason I entitled them Marital communication 101 is that for some, it seems that they must argue about at least 101 things before they find common ground. Even those breakthrough events can’t be fully enjoyed because they are innately aware that once that successful conversation passes…there are probably 101 more difficult ones to wade through and endure before the next good one occurs.

There certainly are many reasons spouses who come to see me tell me their problem is that they have trouble communicating. First of all, and I don’t want to be seen as trying to split hairs or have a semantical argument but, very few people have trouble communicating. They have trouble arriving at mutual understanding. There is a marked and important distinction. That difference is crucial to understand because communication is in fact occurring and much of it is unintentional. For example, when a husband and wife are having difficulty understanding each other, they become frustrated. This frustration can lead to things like raised voices as yet another attempt to convey the intended meaning is made. It can lead to speaking faster, changing inflection of tone, and interrupting or talking over one another. Body language unmistakably changes as arms cross over the chests and fingers get pointed. Faces can redden or lips begin to quiver. As the tempo of the conversation rises to match the nearly palpable tension in the space, mouths becomes dry, hands become sweaty, and a fight or flight instinct settles on one or both of the contestants…(sorry, I meant to say) participants. Sometimes when all else fails one or both people leave the room where the attempted conversation has taken place in a rapid or stormy manner muttering under their breath or shouting their frustration over their shoulder as they exit. The couple I have just described are communicating very effectively, and they are espousing some things they had no intention to just moments before. Communication has ensued. Mutual understanding about the original topic…under those circumstances never had a chance.

If what I have just depicted sounds like you, I promise I haven’t been eavesdropping…this unintended result happens to more good, well intentioned, Christian couples than you could imagine. The problem is that unfortunately, the couple I just described has indeed communicated very effectively to one another. They have in no uncertain terms informed their spouse of some things they never meant to, and that likely aren’t even true. They have clearly communicated a lack of love and respect for each other and each other’s thoughts. They have left little doubt that they often find each other intolerable. Furthermore, they have made whatever the issue was, the most important thing in the world, instead of something they needed to have the most important person in the world understand their feelings about.

Scripture tells us in proverbs 3:13-18 that Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. I am sure that you know how well things go when there is understanding. The things described in the scripture above are true for those who have and seek understanding. No one likes to misunderstand nor be misunderstood, and there are steps we can take and strategies we can employ to help achieve mutual understanding without all of the friction and sparks.

In the coming weeks we will look into some of the problems that often leave married couples struggling to communicate well, and we will search the scriptures to find out how God would have us achieve mutual understanding. God’s word tells us in James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Asking God for wisdom is exactly what we should do when we don’t know what to do. For that reason, we will find specific places in His word to see what He says our responses should be when we are having difficulty understanding one another. Verse six above is important though. If we don’t know what to do, and we ask, and we learn in His word what He says we should do…we can’t argue with the answer…otherwise we will end up more unsettled than we were to begin with. So if you are ready to see how God wants to help you adjust your responses to your spouse and avoid misunderstanding…Welcome to Marital Communication 101

Questions to answer:

  1. What does the distinction between failure to communicate and failure to attain mutual understanding mean to you?
  2. What things or subjects derail your ability to successfully communicate your thoughts and ideas with your spouse?
  3. Are there subject areas you have less trouble communicating about?
  4. How long has it been since communication seemed easy for the two of you?

Actions to take:

  1. Ask God together to accept the things His word instructs you to do to increase the level of positive communication in your marriage.
  2. Decide right now that learning to communicate effectively is more important than being right.
  3. Choose today to be willing for judgement free discussions that will enlighten and help you both do that successfully.
  4. Commit to being willing for the discovery process with your spouse as to what makes it difficult for each of you to remain engaged when the communication begins to break down.

So now, learning the importance of mutual understanding and inviting new ideas from God’s own word to communicate in positive ways with your spouse…Go Be Awesome!

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