D.O.G search

Friday, 18 December 2015

Providence-When it is time, needed & right, the Lord provides.


Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend -- my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense, I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life. When mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27-year-old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her.

I counted it an honor. "What now, Lord?" I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband's shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child. All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together.

Now she was with the Lord. My work was finished, and I was alone. I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick footsteps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle. "I'm late," he explained, though no explanation was necessary.

After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, "Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of 'Margaret?'" "Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her 'Mary,'" I whispered. I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other side of the church.

He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway? "No, that isn't correct," he insisted, as several people glanced over at us whispering, "Her name is Mary, Mary Peters." "That isn't who this is." "Isn't this the Lutheran church?" "No, the Lutheran church is across the street." "Oh." "I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir."

The solemnness of the occasion mixed with the realization of the man's mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me.

He was laughing, too, as he glanced around, deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined Mother laughing. At the final "Amen," we darted out a door and into the parking lot. "I do believe we'll be the talk of the town," he smiled. He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place.

A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time. In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, God gave me love. This past June we celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them, "Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it's truly a match made in heaven."  

Ref: http://www.websites-host.com/insp/istories.html

 

Hilarious Stories-Scars

Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother, in the house was looking out the window, saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother's fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved. The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my mom wouldn't let go." You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, or anything quite so dramatic, but, the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you. The Scripture teaches that God loves you. If you have Christ in your life, you have become a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril - and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-of-war begins, and if you have the scars of His love on your arms be very, very grateful. He did not - and will not - let you go.

Ref:
http://www.websites-host.com/insp/istories.html

 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Bouncing back from a failure

I have a confession to make. Are you ready? Please don’t judge me too harshly.
Ok, here goes.
I’ve failed.
A lot.
Some failures were easy to brush off. Others were devastating.
  • Those girls I really liked who turned me down.
  • Having my writing rejected … and rejected … and rejected.
  • Failing to grow my first business beyond more than a handful of clients at a time.
  • When I dropped out of high school because I was failing most of my classes but felt I couldn’t ask for help.
Not to mention the hundreds of other failures I’ve had.
Let’s face it: Failure sucks. Almost all of us would love it if we succeeded on the first try every single time. That’s not how it works, though. And the idea of failure sometimes prevents us from even trying to begin with.
Failure, especially repeated failure, can be hard to bounce back from. It’s easy to become invested in a situation or project and want it to go a certain way. When it doesn’t, it can be disappointing or even crush your confidence.
It might get to the point where you might wonder, Why even try? It can be extra tough when you feel you’re doing your best, and your best isn’t good enough.
Failure is inevitable. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s part of life. Instead of fearing failure, here are some ways to help you bounce back and regain your confidence when it does happen.

1. What Did You Learn?

We fail so we can learn. If you never failed, you would never learn. You’d just be perfect in every way … which sounds super boring to me.
If you fail at something, look for the lessons:
  • What did you learn?
  • How will it help you succeed in the future?
  • How will you do things differently next time?
Understanding lessons can help us see that our time and efforts aren’t wasted — we’ve come out this a smarter, more able human than before.

2. Success is Built Out of Failure

There are a lot of gatekeepers in life who can help us achieve what we want  or hold us back. They could be the person who’s interviewing you for your dream job. It might be the publishers you’re sending your novel to. It could even be as simple as the friends of the guy or girl you really like.
Here’s the thing: Deep down, they don’t want you to fail. But they can’t let everyone through, so they also want the best.
Each time they reject you, you can look at it one way and quit. Or you can look at it as you’re not quite there yet, but if you keep at it, if you use those lessons to keep building, you will be.

3. Who Failed First?

Pretty much every famous person you know of has failed at some point in their career.
Failing is disheartening. So for motivation to keep going, look to these people who came and failed before you.
  • The Chicken Soup for the Soul series was rejected 140 times before being published.
  • Even Dr. Seuss and the Harry Potter series were rejected.
  • The founder of the Honda car company had his factories destroyed both by war and an earthquake.
If these people had faced failure a few times and given up, they would’ve never found their massive success. Use stories like this as motivation.

4. Take the Long-Term View

Sometimes we think we should succeed almost immediately.
Maybe you think your new business will be an overnight success, or you’re going to master that new skill almost instantly.
And then it turns out, success is hard. And maybe we quit. Or maybe we keep on going like the people above in No. 3.
So check your expectations. Unmet expectations can actually cause us distress (they affect the chemicals in our brain).
Instead, take the long term view. I don’t know who said it first, but there’s a saying that goes, “Success is like growing bamboo.”
Bamboo seems like it takes a long time to grow. For the first five years, you don’t really see much happening.
Just a tiny shoot. For five years.
What we don’t see is what’s happening underground. Its roots are pushing through the dirt, growing in complexity — setting the foundation.
And then, its growth explodes and the tree can rise by up to a meter a day.
Success is the same way. Look at your failures as setting the foundation. Take the long-term view and grow bamboo.

5. Watch Your Self-Talk

What goes through your mind when you fail? What you tell yourself can have a massive impact.
If you fail and think, “I’m a failure,” there’s a problem. That statement implies that you are currently a failure, have always been a failure and will continue to be a failure.
If you think something like that, correct yourself. “I’m a failure,” can become, “This particular attempt failed,” or “This time I didn’t succeed, but I can do better later on.”
It can get tough especially when you have multiple failures in a row. But look at each one as a specific, non-permanent event.
Just changing your self-talk around can have a massive impact on your success and perseverance.

6. Make a List of Your Previous Successes

If you’re having difficulty regaining your confidence and bouncing back, grab a pen and some paper.
If you’ve failed, it can be easy to become too focused on the negative and not see the positive (especially if it’s been failure after failure). If this happens to you, it’s ok — our brains have a negativity bias, so it’s just the way we work.
When you feel like you’re starting to become overwhelmed by failure and having a hard time continuing , write down every success you’ve had you can think of.
It doesn’t matter how big or small they are — looking for the small wins is great. It can be something as simple as:
  • Each time you put yourself out there (It takes courage!)
  • Each lesson you’ve learned
  • Each time you pushed forward
  • The small awards you’ve gotten
  • That time your friends or loved ones liked your work
  • The time you made that person smile
  • The one paying client you got that one time
Focus on the tiny successes. You can even keep a daily journal of them to help you keep going.

7. Failure is Not a Reflection of Who You Are

Our brains are funny things, and they respond to threats that sometimes aren’t there. Some of those threats are things that make us look foolish or lesser in the eyes of others.
We don’t want to fail. But failure is not a reflection of who you are. Your reaction to failure is.
It’s your call whether to pick yourself up or not. If anyone judges you based on your failures, that’s their problem, not yours.

8. Re-Evaluate Your Plan

If you keep trying the same thing over and over and it’s not working, it’s time to take another look at it.
  • Is there a better way to go about it?
  • Are there people who can help you?
  • Are your expectations unrealistic?
There’s a saying that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It’s not, but it is kind of stupid.
Failure might be telling you something more.
Here’s the thing. I mentioned people who kept on going and going, but sometimes the right move is to quit.
Seth Godin’s book The Dip is all about when to quit and when to keep going. It’s just looking at when quitting is the right thing to do.
I used to teach Salsa dancing, and I gave it up. I kept trying to get new students and turn it into a full-time practice, but it wasn’t working.
Were there other (probably more effective) approaches I could’ve learned and tried? Sure.
But did I want to?
When it came down to it, and I got really honest, my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to be helping people in a different way.
So I quit, and was immediately happier as a result. Stick with it when you’re growing bamboo. Quit when the soil’s no good and you need to plant elsewhere.

9. Give Yourself a Mourning Period

Failure is loss.
And it’s okay to grieve a loss. So if you fail, especially at something you’re really wrapped up in, give yourself time to mourn it.
How many days do you need? One day, maybe three or more for a larger failure? Give yourself time to get over it. But the key is to set a time limit. And once it’s set, commit to jumping back on the horse.
What this does is reframe how you feel toward failure — it makes your feelings your choice. In the end, it might not seem like it, but failure is not your enemy. It’s your mentor.
It might be a mentor who you don’t want to see, but when they show up, it’s not to hold you back, but help you along.
Your success is born out of the flames of failure.
Embrace it and move forward.

How to Achieve Anything

Is there a goal you want to accomplish, but just cannot find the time to start it? It might be something trivial like, to reduce the amount of TV watching, or time spent browsing the Internet. It might be, to become an early riser, or to quit drinking alcohol, or to start a home business. Whatever it is, what is keeping you where you are instead of reaching your desired destination?
I have several such targets in my life that I often think about, but rarely take action on. Each time I’m reminded of one of them, I would guiltily say, “I really should do [blah]”, and then forget about it until the next time guilt creeps back into my head.
One such target I have is to exercise. I’ve been talking about wanting to get in shape for about two years now. I even setup an arbitrary goal of doing a triathlon to get me excited. I did start to go running shortly after setting the goal, which lasted for about a week, before I became distracted with another target.
I like to think of myself as a pretty disciplined and motivated person – I mean, I write about this stuff! But, something about this particular target has been very psychologically challenging for me to take consistent action on. And I want to understand it.

Overcoming the mental blocks and actually taking action towards this outcome has been my focus over the past few weeks. I am proud to announce that I have been doing 5-mile walk-runs, every other day, successfully for fourteen days now.
I’m confident that since I have kept it up for two weeks, then surely, I can keep it up for a month. And if I can consistently do it for a month, I will have habituated the activity into my daily rhythm and be able to keep it up indefinitely.
The point of this article isn’t about running, but rather, extracting lessons from achieving a goal, and applying them to other areas of our lives.

Analysis of ‘Why It Didn’t Work’

Looking back over past failed attempts at this target, I realized that I didn’t have enough reasons to keep myself motivated, thus I wasn’t fully committed to making the change. Here are some observations:

1. Excuse: “I don’t have enough time”

I used to assume that it I was working too much and simply did not have the time. Well, I’ve come to learn that “I don’t have the time” is the biggest lie we can tell ourselves to justify for the lack of action towards activities that can (sometimes) significantly improve the quality of our lives. If we added all the time we spend on unimportant and not urgent things – like web browsing or TV watching – we would have the time, easily. We do have the time!
I used to tell myself, “When I leave my day job, I will have much more time to pursue the things on my lists, which I don’t have time for now.” Things like exercising.
You’d think, now that I’m in a position to create my own schedule (or lack thereof), surely, I should have enough free time to exercise. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I still don’t have enough time. It’s become obvious that without a measurable target and a reasonable plan, life has a way of magically inserting random (often unimportant) activities to fill up our day. The same items on my list while I had a day job are still on the list.
We don’t have time for things, until we create time for these things. If something is important enough to us, we will find the time, regardless of how busy we are. End of story.
It’s a matter of finding the compelling reasons why something is important to us – enough of a nudge to drive us to lasting change.

2. Focus on Pain

The more I focused on the uncomfortable factors associated with exercise, the less motivated I became, and the more excuses I made to skip workouts – before I stopped completely.
Here are my favorite excuses to justify not exercising:
  • It’s hard! I can’t breathe.
  • My leg hurts
  • It’s cold outside
  • It’s raining (I do live in Seattle, after all)
  • It’s late, if I go jogging, I won’t have enough time to do X.

3. Lacked Motives to Action

Although I kept telling myself that I should go jogging, I wasn’t fully clear on why I wanted it. I wasn’t overweight, and didn’t have an explicit incentive to get active. I didn’t have the motives to justify the necessary action for a vaguely defined goal.
Did you know that we will do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure? In this case, the affects of not doing it, was not painful enough to drive me to get it done. In my mind, the pain of doing was greater than the pain of not doing.

4. Language, Focus & Priority

The goal was a should and not a must. “I should go jogging”, I would say , when it’s better to say, “I must go jogging, in order to gain the energy I need”. When something is a should, it is wishful thinking, and we don’t get it done. When something is a must, it becomes a priority that deserves our attention. Because the target was a should, I never gave it the focused attention necessary for it to become a reality.

The Art of Change: From Desire to Result

The actual change happened very quickly – the moment I decided to change. Instead of thinking about it, and silently beating myself up for not doing it, I just did it. It was beautiful!
laughter-group.jpg
Photo: Kevin Russ.
Sometimes, the best motivators are the ones we find when we hit a personal low point. My low point came a few weeks ago, when I realized that I hadn’t been outside for seven days straight (Eeeek!). I felt groggy, my body was aching, my energy level was low and I felt a slip in my grip on clarity.
When my clarity is threatened, I start to take notice. I now had a strong motive. I got up instantly and went for a run – a long one.

The System of OPA

OPA is a trick I picked up from Tony Robbins, which when applied, will assist us in achieving the results we desire. It stands for:
  • Outcome (O) – Having a clear vision.
  • Purpose (P) – Focus on results and purpose.
  • Action (A) – Create a massive action plan for meaningful results.
Let’s expand on these and apply them to the jogging example.

O, Outcome

Most of us have vague ideas on what we want. We know roughly the direction we want to go, but because we aren’t clear on the vision of our destination, we get pushed into whichever direction the wind is blowing. Without a vision, we will obsess over “the how”, and will often overanalyze and fail to take action, or take ineffective action.
In the jogging example, “wanting to go jogging” is not the ultimate vision. The ultimate outcome I am seeking is actually mental clarity and physical energy. One activity that contributes to this outcome is regular exercise. Additionally, because I am focused on the desired outcome and not on the how, I have realized that there are other things I can do which will contribute towards this outcome, such as deep breathing, swimming, and yoga.
What is the ultimate vision for what you want? Be specific in describing the outcome you desire.

P, Purpose

Knowing what we want isn’t enough to give us the push towards massive action. We must know why we want it. Why is it important that we achieve our desired result? When we achieve this outcome, what will it bring us? Without strong enough reasons, we simply will not be moved into action.
In the jogging example, my reasons for wanting mental clarity and physical energy are:
  • To feel physical wellbeing. To live fully and consciously.
  • To have the clarity to write articles that serve others. To empower and inspire readers towards a fuller life with more joy and passion.
  • When I have energy, I can get more out of my day. I can do more activities which will benefit my personal wellbeing, and in turn make more contributions to others.
Why must you achieve the target outcome? What are the reasons most important to you? What does achieving the outcome mean for you?

A, Action

Armed with your clear vision of the outcome and with the burning reasons why it is important to you, come up with an action plan for achieving the results you seek. Once you have your action plan, take one small action immediately. Then commit yourself towards taking some action regularly (everyday if possible) towards your target. Regardless of how small the action may seem, it will move you one step closer to your outcome, and – importantly – help build the momentum you will need to reach your destination.
In addition to knowing what you want, why you want it, and having a battle plan, the following are tips to overcome potential pitfalls on the road to lasting change.
  • Quantify & Measure – What gets measured gets managed. It’s important to be able to quantify results, so that we can evaluate our improvements and effectiveness. For my jogging example, I got the Nike sport kit for ipod nano – which allowed me to measure distance ran, duration and calories burnt. Once I had the numbers after each workout, I just wanted to beat them! As if playing a video game and trying to beat the top score.
  • Know Your Excuses – List out all the excuses you’re known to use in order to avoid action for a particular result. Now come up with an antidote for each excuse. Even without an antidote, at least, now you’re aware of which excuses might come up, and you’re ready to ignore them. For myself, “I am committed to going jogging every other day, regardless of weather, or how late in the day.”
  • Focus on One Target at a Time – When we try to focus on many results at the same time, rarely will we succeed. When we focus on one thing at a time, we can devote our undivided attention and energy on realizing the single result, thus giving it a higher chance of actualization. Move on to other targets only after we’ve successfully reached or habituated the current target. I’ve found it helpful to write the targeted outcome on a piece of paper, and posting it on a wall where I can see it regularly.
  • Change Your Language – Turn ‘should’ into ‘must’. The language we use carries with it energy. Notice that if you must do something, suddenly you feel a sense of urgency and priority? What is that thing that you’ve wanted to complete, and if you got it done will improve the quality of your experience? Now say, “I must do <insert activity>, because it will give me <insert reason>.” See how much more energy this sentence has, versus “I really should do <insert activity>.”
  • Consistency – When cultivating a new habit, consistency is more important than quantity. Have you noticed that when we skip a routine activity even once, it’ll be harder to get back into it? And the more we skip, the easier it is to skip it again the next time. Before we know it, we no longer have the habit which we’ve worked hard to create.
  • Fun Ingredient – Find ways to make the experience fun and enjoyable. For example, I will listen to motivational audio books or personal growth seminars when I run, and it really enhances both experiences. This added enrichment to the running experience, makes me look forward to the activity.
  • The 30 Day Challenge – If you can repeatedly do an activity for 30 days, it will become a habit, and will integrate automatically into your routine. Take it one step at a time, first commit yourself to following something for 7 days, then extend it to 14 days, then 21 days and 30 days. If you can do it for 30 days, you can likely continue it indefinitely (if you want to).
  • Change Your Questions – If you’re not getting the kind of results you’re looking for, perhaps it’s the questions you are asking yourself. Ask questions which lead to possibilities instead of limitations. Here are some examples of the limiting questions vs. more resourceful alternatives:
    • Why can’t I do this? Vs.
      How can I make this work?
    • Why can’t I make more money? Vs.
      How can I add even more value?
    • Why is this happening? Vs.
      What can I do to help change this?
    • How can they do this to me? Vs.
      How can I use this?
    • What is wrong in my life? Vs.
      What am I grateful for?

Parting Words

We are the ultimate author of our life story. Within each of us, we hold the power to change anything in our lives, and in doing so, experience more joy and fulfillment. Lasting change starts with a change in the way we think – a clear vision for our desired results, meaningful reasons why we must have them, and building momentum towards massive action to make our visions a reality.
With meaning, understanding, awareness, and conscientious planning; we can turn massive responsibilities into actual possibilities, we can incorporate healthy habits, we can realize dreams, and we can live more deliberately and intentionally shape our own destiny.

Spurts of Enthusiasm and Lack of Interest

"Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit."
- Gordon Parks -
Do you sometimes feel enthusiastic, motivated and energetic when starting something new, but after some time lose your enthusiasm and interest?
This can happen when practicing a self-improvement program, studying a new subject, dieting, exercising, or doing anything else.
Though you understand the importance of what you are doing, know that it will help you, still, you let laziness set in, as well as lack of motivation, lack of enthusiasm, and lack of enough willpower. This makes you feel that what you are doing is some kind of a burden.
Often, people start practicing concentration exercises, meditation, self-discipline exercises, or any other program relating to self improvement or spiritual growth, but if they don't experience immediate and spectacular results, they stop and give up.
Everything in life requires some work, effort and time, and self-improvement or spiritual growth methods are no different.
  • What to do when interest and enthusiasm wanes?
  • How to persevere when there isn't enough willpower and self-discipline?
The program or goal might seems worthwhile, but there isn't enough inner strength to pursue them. Self-defeating habits, negative programming, and lack of inner strength stand on one's way.
This is why people buy books, attend classes, courses, and workshop, and yet, find they are not making enough progress. This is why enthusiasm and hopes are replaced by depression, self-pity and lack of self-esteem.
Often, after reading a book or an article, after listening to a lecture or watching a movie, there is a burst of enthusiasm and a high energy level, but this often does not last long.
What can you do to keep enthusiastic and motivated?
Short spurts of enthusiasm or motivation are not enough to accomplish anything of value. You need to keep your desire and inner flame alive and focused on your goal. So what can you do about it?
  1. Devote 10 minutes a day to reading and thinking about the benefits of what you want to do or accomplish.
  2. Every day, read about people who achieved success by being tenacious and persistent.
  3. Every day, find a quiet place, and for several minutes visualize yourself acting with enthusiasm and motivation.
  4. Every success requires dedication, time, perseverance and tenacity. This means that you should not give up quickly.

    There is a well known story about a gold prospector, who, after digging to some depth did not find anything, gave up and went away. Then someone else came, and after digging just a few inches more, struck gold.

    You need to be patient and persistent, even if you see no progress, because success might be just a few inches away.
  5. Keep repeating affirmations that empower you and inflame your enthusiasm and motivation.
  6. Never condider what you are doing as drudgery. With a little thinking and few changes you can turn it into a pleasurable activity.
  7. Once you decide about anything, go on with it, even after you lose enthusiasm and desire. Don't give up, even if what you are doing seems to be like a burden and drudgery. Don't give up, even if you feel bored.

    Keep telling yourself about the benefits of what you are doing, and keep thinking and visualizing, how it will be like after accomplishing what you have set to do.
Remember, this is your own life, and you are responsible for it. Why succumb to laziness and negative programming? This might not be easy, and there might be obstacles on the way.
Keep thinking about how happy you would be after achieving success. Visualize how your life would change, if you overcome laziness, negative thoughts, negative programming. Just keep your mind on the goal, no matter what.
Don't rely on spurts of enthusiasm to carry you to your destination. You need to stand up, not give up, and awaken the dormant powers that are within you.
Never give up, but keep going on, even if the going is tough and you want to quit. If you keep going, and use affirmations and visualization, soon your desire and enthusiasm will grow, and the progress will become easier.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

HAPPY MARRIAGE

Two Keys to a Happy Marriage


Almost every marriage starts out as a huge celebration. Together with their family and friends, each couple is full of hopes and dreams for their future life together. But the road to a happy marriage is far from easy. And as today’s divorce statistics demonstrate all too well, many couples opt not to complete the journey.
It would be easy to blame our high rate of marital failure on things like not spending enough quality time together, allowing bitterness and resentment to build in our hearts and failing to keep communication lines open. There’s no end to books, articles and seminars that tell you how to improve these and many other aspects of your relationship. But while quality time, forgiveness and communication are vitally important to creating a happy marriage, if such things aren’t happening, it’s usually a sign of a much deeper problem. And until this problem is addressed, no amount of external behavior modification will work.
To get a hint of what this deeper issue might be, let’s take a look at the following Scripture passage:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:35-40)
I believe that virtually every marital problem can be traced back to one or both partners failing to abide by these two laws. The same is true of any relationship. The minute we begin to focus on our own wants and needs over those of God or our partner; we’re destined for trouble.
Experiencing communication problems in your marriage? How often do you really focus on listening to what your partner (or God) has to say instead of insisting on more airtime? Feeling bitterness and resentment growing toward your partner? When was the last time you brought him or her before the Lord in prayer and truly thanked God for your relationship? Struggling to find quality time together? How about praying with your partner and asking God how he would like you to use your time?
As you begin to do these things, you’ll notice that your focus automatically starts to shift away from you and your desires and over to God and your partner. As a result, communication problems begin to improve, anger and resentment fade away and you naturally want to spend more time together. Of course, you can’t expect such changes to happen overnight. Your relationship is also bound to face financial pressures, childrearing issues and other problems that are beyond your control. But if you commit your relationship to God and make a conscious decision each day to put God and your partner first, your marriage will be able to weather any storm. Not only that; you’ll also have plenty of fun together along the way!
...............................................
Have you struggled to find happiness in your marriage? Perhaps it’s time you and your spouse invited God to direct your relationship. If you would like to do so, we encourage you to pray the following:
"Dear God, thank you so much for bringing us together as a couple. We know that you have a plan and a purpose for our marriage, and we invite you, Lord Jesus, to forgive the past self-centeredness, and come into our lives and relationship.  Direct our steps from now on. Please give us the grace to put You and each other first every day. Make our relationship a blessing to others. But most of all; make it a blessing to You. Amen."

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Facets of God's Love

Hebrews 12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t give up when he corrects you.
6
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Not all hardship in life is directly due to God’s discipline. But every hardship He allows or causes has the goal of conforming us to Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
"There is a certain kind of maturity that can be attained only through the discipline of suffering."
D. A. Carson