Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The D Word

I stumbled across an excellent blog post that I wanted to share with you. It pretty much captures everything I want to say to my generation--many so ready to jump ship on their marriages!

Here's a teaser, but I encourage you to read the whole thing!

I'm from a broken home myself. My parents divorced when I was too young to even know, and for years and years afterward I was in the middle of their little game of tug of war. If I could change my life, I would want them to stay together. I don't know that I would've wanted them to stay together the way they were - with the anger and resentment - but in my mind it would've been a triumph if they had overcome that - and would have spared me a lot of pain in life. If they could've managed to even be civil to one another under one roof, I have doubt at all in my mind that my life would've been a whole lot better.

I find it very irritating when people say that it's "better for the kids" if they divorce. Statistics do not hold that to be true. Most couples fight. And most studies I have seen say those children are still better off than children of divorce. Both economically and emotionally. A lot of people just use that as a rationale because they are going to divorce anyway for reasons other than the sake of the kids, and they don't want to feel guilty about it. But it isn't better for the kids. It hurts children when parents divorce, and it goes on hurting for a long time.....

They always say that relationships are built on trust. In my opinion, it's more about forgiveness than trust. Anyone you trust is going to let you down sometimes. Everyone falls short sometimes in life, but especially from the high expectations of an adoring spouse.

And it's about kindness too. No one wants to live with someone with whom there is no peace. If you can't be kind to one another, then I say grow up and learn how to be kind. I don't mean fake-kind with gritted teeth behind the smile. I mean truly kind, from the heart. If you find it so difficult to be truly kind, then deep down you are harboring anger - which springs from unforgiveness. I don't say, well if you can't be kind just call it quits. No, because then you will remarry and the whole process will start all over again with someone else because guess what! He's going to be imperfect too! Don't bother trying to tell your spouse WHY you are harboring unforgiveness, this is guaranteed to put them on the defensive and start a new fight - just forgive and move on!

Read the rest at Be Still My Soul. It's really worth the read! Go check it out!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Will A Real Man Please Standup!

Family Cell 6/19/09

Will A Real Man Please Standup!
What does that mean? All I know is what God has been putting on my heart. That enough is enough. It is time for us men to stand up and take responsibility for the role that God has intended for us. Enough with complacency, and do I know about complacency. Every time I got complacent in my marriage or with my children or with my relationship with God, I have fallen on my face. Then I wondered how I got there. I allowed the enemy to walk right into, and set up camp in my own backyard. Well I finally said that’s it, and took back what the enemy had stolen. It is amazing as men when we stand up and take that leap of faith, God shows up. It is time to surrender ourselves to God, drop pride, selfishness, arrogance, and the I could do it alone attitude. Just to let you know guys, WE CAN”T. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). God is in control, not us. He is in control of our life, our wives life, our children’s lives, and everyone around or in our life. That doesn’t mean we can’t allow God to use us to speak into or influence others. It first starts by dying to ourselves and allowing God to transform us. We must learn to love the way Jesus loved. Allow him into those areas of our heart that has been closed off. Once we allow God to fill us with His love, not our own love, His love, we are commanded to give it away. Start with our wives and love them the way Jesus loved us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross even though He knew we would disown Him. So love our wives. Show our children what God had intended for marriage. Draw your family to the Lord, not by preaching, but by doing what God commands us to do. LOVE! God holds us as men responsible for the well being of our home, our spouse, and our children. Be honest, is there room for improvement men? I say yes! Do you dwell with understanding with your wife and children? Are you lifting up other men in your life? Remember God can use you, no matter where you’re at in your life. It is through your weakness that God is glorified and able to do great things. Men lets get up off the couch and step up to the plate. Lets dance before the Lord naked just like David did. God loves it when we as men dance, worship, and praise him. Who cares what we look like, GET OVER IT! “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23,24). I want my heavenly Father to say that I am so proud of you son, for you loved the way I have loved. Well men it is time. IT IS TIME! It is time to stand up and take responsibility for our ways and cry out to God. LORD LET ME NEVER BE THE SAME!!! Don’t be afraid of change. Once you feel his presence, you will want more. I like to say real men cry. God has touched me in a way that I cry for everything and I love it. So on Sunday when you’re at church give another brother a hug. Pray for him. Love on him. It is time that we feel like a real family at church, but it starts at home. Learn your weaknesses. Know how, where, and when you are at your most susceptible. Put the full armor of God on daily. Protect yourself at all times. Don’t give the enemy any say in your life. Learn to speak blessings over yourself. Remember your Daddy is the king of kings. God is waiting for us men to step out and stand up. He will be glorified in us.
Father’s day is this Sunday, so enjoy the
day if you’re a father. Honor your own father. But lets give back a greater gift than we can receive on father’s day. Father’s cherish your children; raise them to love the Lord. Love, honor, and cultivate your wife. Pray for your family, for your church and church leaders and pray for each other. “Be on your guard; stand firm in faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16: 13-14). Remember, our Father is not looking for perfect people. We all have flaws and we will all stumble. He is looking for those who seek Him. For those who are willing to let God work in your life. Remember we allow God to show who He is in our faults. He gets the glory. Ask God how he can use you today and then step out by faith and allow Him to do miraculous works in your life and the lives of others.

Mark Soto

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Love Is A Decision!

Love Is a Decision01/13/03
If your marriage relationship doesn't have a destination, how will you know when you arrive? And why wait for love to materialize out of stardust, when you could choose excitement and romance—now?
There is a simple yet profound plan for a marriage of depth and warmth and excitement! Plan, you ask? Exactly! Good marriages are no accident. The rules are simple enough, you just need them outlined for you to follow in a profound guide. Tough times can strike any family relationship. But deciding to love—in practical ways outlined here—can result in relationships that are tougher than tough times.
Six elements to staying in love, included in Love Is a Decision, are:
1) Making your spouse feel truly honored
2) Learning the art of touching—tenderly
3) Keeping courtship alive in your marriage
4) Re-opening a heart closed by anger
5) Building—or rebuilding—trust in a relationship
6) Becoming best friends with your family
These six elements are the keys to Love. Love is not an emotion, love is not a feeling, love is not happen-stance. Love is a Decision. Love is waking up every day committed to honoring your mate by implementing the above six keys. If you want to have a great relationship, guess what, it's up to you.
We see so many couples come through our live events and counseling sessions who want us to "fix" them. They are wanting a better, more fun-filled and intimate marriage, but they don't know how to reach it. The most common and most fundamental thing these couples are lacking is the knowledge that love is a decision.
If you want to wake up each and every morning excited about your marriage, then deciding to do this is the first step. If you don't know how to make this first, most basic step, then Love Is A Decision will help you get there!
By Gary Smalley

Friday, June 5, 2009

Are You Willing?

Family Cell 6/5/09

Are You Willing?
How willing are you to fight for your marriage and family? Raquel and I spent last week up at Bethel Church. We attended the Love After Marriage workshop. We meet so many awesome couples. We even adopted spiritual children that we love. God had His hand on each one of us and truly worked miracles in our lives, I’ll never be the same. My heart yurns to see our marriages reflect who God truly is. God wants us to step out by faith. When we do He is there. It starts with our willingness to be completely transparent with our spouse and each other. I call it spiritual nakedness. When we do, we allow God to work in our life. We welcome the Holy Spirit to come and clean house. When we’re transparent with each other in the body of Christ, we become a family. We learn to love each other, support each other, empathize with each other, we pray and go out of our way for each other. We as a family need to encourage each other. All too many times, we allow the enemy to come in to rob and steal our joy. We buy into the lie of we are not able or someone else is more equipped than me. News flash, WE ARE ABLE! No matter where you are at in your life or in your marriage, God is able to change your circumstance. You must believe, be childlike and take that leap of faith. Your Father will catch you, pick you up and set you on the right path. We are going to have face issues and areas in our life that we are not comfortable with. Talk about things with our spouses that we have avoided. Ask and extend forgiveness to each other. It can be difficult, especially if the hurts are big. But when we do, we experience a freedom. This allows God to enter those areas that have been shut down to Him and your spouse. It’s time to stop making excuses, I know, I’ve made every excuse in the book so I wouldn’t interrupt my comfortable little life. Man am I glad God wrecked me. Thank you Father! You are good. Are you willing to step up and take back what the enemy has stolen? IT IS TIME CHURCH! WE SAY NO MORE! You can do all things through Christ. It is He who gives you the strength you need. It starts with a choice to make a decision to want and work towards a better marriage and family. Ask yourself if you are completely satisfied in your marriage. Don’t put God in a box. He wants our marriage to reveal who he is. In order to do that, we need to stand naked (spiritually that is) before God and allow Him to transform our hearts, mind,
and spirit. I just say, “come wreck me Father, let me never be the same."
Your life and your marriage will make a difference. Don’t ever sell yourself short. You are a perfect creation; made without a blemish; created in the image of your Father. So lets change our mindset from I can’t to I can. These past two weeks God has used my wife and I in ways He never has before. It has been a ride that I don’t ever want to get off. Lets all get on the ride that only God can send us on.
Mark and Raquel Soto