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The Social Media Sham

Social media has a lot going for it. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all the others have a place and a purpose, but they also come with a warning.

A friend shared a story about his recent visit to the “happiest place on earth.” As they stood in line waiting for a ride, he noticed two brothers nearly killing each other, only to be interrupted by their mother who told them to stop and smile so she could post a picture to Facebook.

Thus the danger or social media… it’s not reality.

When it comes to social media, we capture the highlights, not the humdrum. We capture the meal, not the dishes. We capture the smiles, not the tears. We show the world our best moments and conveniently leave out the rest.

Sure, a trip to the beach includes smiles and sunshine, but it also includes packing, driving, trudging through sand, sunburns, malicious seagulls bent on destruction, individuals oblivious to their body-to-bathing-suit ratio, and sand stuck in various cracks and crevices. Those things rarely make it in.

Not Reality

Why does it matter? The things we see and read in the world of social media don’t accurately represent life. We only get the highlights.

If we use what we see on social media as a means for comparison, we run the danger of being discouraged and disappointed with the reality of our own lives. My marriage won’t measure up, my kids won’t measure up, my church won’t measure up, my friendships won’t measure up… nothing in my life will measure up.

Yes, we should capture the smiles and share them with the world. But, we should also find contentment in the ordinary and the mundane that makes up a great majority of our lives. Stop comparing. In the ‘unreal’ world of social media, you’ll always come up short.

For the Better

With the exception of some deeply religious hypocritical leaders, people really liked hanging out with Jesus. And it wasn’t just because of the cool miracles.

Plenty of people really liked having Jesus around because he always made people and situations better. Funerals and wedding parties… better. A trip to the well by a licentious women… better. Worship in the temple… better. A party with drunks and prostitutes… better. Walking down a dusty road… better. Fish fry at the lake… better. Every person, every situation, every moment was better because Jesus was there.

Jesus was there, so life was there. Hope was there. Love was there. Encouragement was there. Peace was there. Truth was there.

What about us?

There is never a time or a moment where our presence does not have the potential to have an effect on the people we come in contact with.

How do conversations shift when you join in? How does your home change when you walk in the door? How is work different because you’re there? How does your presence in your faith community change? How is your neighborhood or community affected because you are there?

If we’re anything like Jesus, they’ll all be better.

God Wants Our Circumstances To Change Us

The Secret Every Husband Wants His Wife To Know

Husbands want to be wanted. There you go. The secret’s out.

Though they won’t be quick to admit it, there is within every a husband a strong and inescapable longing to be wanted by their wives. The desire is strong, having a profound affect on their mood, attitude and even their sense of self-worth.

Where does it come from and why is it so powerful?

Ephesians 5:23 tells us that as “head of his wife,” a husband has been given the responsibility of providing for, protecting, and leading his family. God has wired into the soul of man the need for affirmation in these roles. When a husband feels like he is appreciated and valued as provider/protector/leader, he feels fulfillment in being the man God made him to be.

Because most men struggle with insecurity, wives have a lot of power in this area. A critical word can make a husband feel worthless and crush their spirit. Conversely, words of encouragement will empower him, giving him much-needed confidence.

A wife can significantly bless her husband by recognizing and affirming his abilities and accomplishments. You can show appreciation for his hard work, being a great dad or by affirming him when he demonstrates wisdom or leadership. Simple statements like, “I love being your wife.” or “I’m proud of you.” will sink deep into his soul.

Being wanted also has a profound effect on a couple’s sex-life.

I’ve found a consistent theme with many couples struggling in their sexual relationship. Most women mistakenly believe that their husband’s desire for sex is primarily physical. While the physical aspect is significant, sex for men is much more.

In For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men Shaunti Feldhahn says, “It gives them an increasing sense of confidence and well-being that carries over into every other area of his life.” The opposite is also true. When a husband doesn’t feel desired by his wife, “…he not only feels his wife is rejecting him physically, but that she is somehow rejecting his life as a husband, provider and man.”

Yes, most husbands want to have more sex. But it isn’t sex that men most want from their wives. The underlying issue is that husbands want to be wanted.

I understand husbands don’t always do the best job of making themselves desirable. Most men, including myself, have lots of room for improvement. But wives can offer tangible demonstrations of love and grace to their husbands by giving them an amazing gift, confirmation that they are indeed wanted.

What have you seen in your own marriage (or in other’s marriages) that speaks to a husband wanting to be wanted?

Six Signs your Dating Relationship is Unhealthy

Who we date is extremely important. Few relationships have the same power to influence a person, shaping who they are and who they will become. There are always immediate and long-term consequences to who we date, so healthy dating relationships are vital.

Here are six signs your dating relationship might be unhealthy:

1. Other people say it is.

The saying “love is blind” is unfortunately true when it comes to people not being able to see that their own relationship is unhealthy. If people around you (friends, family, ministry leaders) are expressing concern… listen. And don’t think silence means everything is okay. If you’re not hearing anything, you need to ask. But, don’t just ask anyone. Ask people who have spiritual wisdom and a proven history of health in their own relationships.

2. You Disappeared.

People in unhealthy dating relationships often drop off the face of the planet. Their friends and family see so little of them, they consider making a missing persons report. If you find that you’re no longer associating with the same people you used to before the relationship, that should be of concern. Healthy couples have high levels of interaction with family and friends.

3. You’re Stuck (to each other.)

One of the best compliments I received while dating my wife is that we didn’t always have to be together. It’s not that we ignored each other, we just didn’t have to be attached at the hip. We had balance. We both had other friends (male and female) and spent time with them. If you have trouble spending time with people other than your boyfriend/girlfriend, your relationship has health issues.

4. Drama.

While every relationship (even healthy ones) will have occasional disagreements, some couples have an endless supply. It seems like they’re stuck in a perpetual cycle of strife. An argument or a fight is always simmering. Healthy relationships should have significant periods of peace and calm between occasional quarrels, not the other way around.

5. You’re Pretending.

The purpose of marriage is to bring two people into a permanent commitment to one another. Pretenders want the benefits or marriage without the commitment and that’s never healthy. It’s a shaky foundation for any relationship, even if it does eventually result in marriage. If the only thing that would change if you got married is a license, a ring and maybe a joint bank account, you have health issues. (Hebrews 13:4)

6. Spiritual Incompatibility.

I was surprised to hear a young Christian woman recently describe her boyfriend as being “a nice guy, just not a Christian.” In terms of a dating relationship, that’s like saying “I’m a vegetarian, but I love a good steak.” There is a serious incompatibility issue when a follower of Jesus enters into a close-intimate relationship with someone who is not a follower of Jesus. They just don’t go together. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

If any of these describe your own relationship, take whatever steps are necessary to correct them. Unhealthy dating issues never go away when people get more serious in the relationship, the “unhealth” just gets more serious.

How have you seen these affect relationships? What other things have you seen that might be a sign that someone’s dating relationship is unhealthy?

6 Ways to Kill your Marriage

As a pastor, I often deal with marriages that are either failing or in jeopardy. Here are six things most of them have in common.

#1. Care more about your own needs.

Each of us have our default setting on “me.” Getting my needs met… getting what I want. Unfortunately this doesn’t lend itself to healthy relationships. Healthy marriages consider the needs of their spouse and are willing to put those needs above their own. (See Philippians 2:3-4)

#2. Stop dating.

There’s a reason couples feel the way they did when they first met. They were working hard to win the other’s affection, they were trying to impress, so they went above and beyond to do and be their best. Amazing how that impacts a relationship.

#3. Make _____ more important than your spouse.

Fill in the blank with whatever you like: work, a hobby, friends etc. No spouse wants to be, or should ever be, second to anyone or anything (other than Christ.)

#4. Have unrealistic expectations.

Unrealistic expectations mean one simple thing- you will always be disappointed and continual feelings of disappointment lead to bitterness and resentment. Strong marriages keep expectations in check and show gratitude for what they do have in their spouse, instead of always thinking about what they don’t have.

#5. Stop working at it.

Anything worth anything requires work and marriage is no exception.

#6. Neglect your spiritual life.

A weak spiritual life is often a good indicator of a weak marriage. We must rely on the Spirit’s power to enable us to live beyond our natural self. We must embrace the values and priorities of Jesus to guide how we relate to our spouse and we must see that our marriage is an opportunity to bring Glory to God.

What other sure-fire marriage killers have you seen?

The Next Adventure

The time has arrived. After years of consideration, it’s finally time to venture into the land of the blogosphere.

I can’t recall a time that I witnessed the launch of a blog, so I’m uncertain as to any protocol for how to smash a champagne bottle on the bow of a blog.  So the best I can think of, is to offer a few brief thoughts on why I’m venturing into this new land and what I hope it will become.

I know it sounds cliché, but I truly believe that life is a journey, and we are all on it. We are all moving and progressing… none of us is where we started. Our past is behind us, our future is ahead of us. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul knew when he wrote:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

None of us have arrived, but we are moving forward to what lies ahead. Not for the sake of the journey itself, but because of Christ who has made me his own.

So this blog is simply some thoughts along the way. As I journey, my blog will cover a variety of topics including theology, the church, leadership,  marriage, parenting and whatever else seems to strike me as something worth discussing out loud.

I look forward to having you join me!

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