Millennials, Monogamy & Marriage

by David R. Smith

Earlier today, I had lunch with a young man from my church that had just ended a long relationship with his fiancé due to her infidelity. Is their problem with monogamy an isolated incident?

Nope. In fact, our culture wouldn’t even define it as a problem.

Keeping the Knot Untied
Millennials are everywhere; in fact, they are now the largest living generation in America. But the presence of more young people hasn’t led to the celebration of more marriages. The Barna Group – along with just about everyone else on the subject – reports that the percentage of singles who’ve never married has increased. Comparing data from the last 16 years, Barna’s researchers call the significant increase in the number of young people compared to the significant decrease in the number of marriages a “massive shift.” Back in 2014, Pew Research even predicted that “when today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s [which is somewhere between 15 and 20 years from today], a record high share (25%) is likely to have never been married.”

 

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If Jesus Were An Immigrant

A lot of people are talking about immigration and immigrants these days.  Whether for or against;  whether the th7LUOA535gospel Jesus proclaimed and embodied has anything to do with it, and if so what; whether immigrants pose a threat to us, and if they do exactly what sort of threat—inconvenience, discomfort, danger, death; whether immigrants from some groups should be treated differently than others; whether immigrants from places predominantly Muslim pose more of a threat than those from other places—these and many other questions enliven or deaden the multiple media enveloping our lives these days.  The Free Methodist Church offers a well-written, reasoned, biblically shaped and practical position on matters of immigration that I thoroughly affirm and commend to all followers of Jesus.  You may find it here: http://fmcusa.org/scod/the-free-methodist-position-on-immigration/

In relation to all of the questions and concerns, I wonder if we might think differently about immigration matters if Jesus were an immigrant.  Often our settled ways of thinking about issues, and therefore our responses to them, suffer disruption when we learn that the “issue” has happened to a loved one.  No one I know champions divorce because everyone knows how devastating a divorce can be.  But it makes a difference when it happens to you or others you love.  It makes a difference, even if the one you love might seem at fault.  Facts are facts and truth is truth, though both can be hard to establish, but it makes a difference when it touches, hurts, or destroys someone you love.  That difference may not reduce the complexity of the issue, (indeed it probably will increase it).  And that difference may not change conclusions you draw about the issue.  Still, when someone you love suffers, it becomes more than an issue and it makes a difference in how you respond.


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Tone It Down

This is a time when people are praying not only for personal things of which we are typically inclined, but for political things that are to the fore of public life right now.  The natural inclination is to try to ascertain how to pray and for what to pray at times like these- unsettling political seasons.  We know that we are to pray for those governing.  It is a foregone conclusion that we will also pray for those impacted by those who govern.  We pray for the governing and the governed.  And, we are in a day where justice is what matters most to most.  So, that is the dominant subject of prayer for the governing and the governed.

My appeal to those who read this and commit to pray is that we do not fail to remember the spirit in which we should pray.  There is a posture from which our prayer should be lifted up.  Paul urged us “that all requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:1-2).  The underlying, stated reason for the prayers for public leaders is so that we may all live in peace, not turmoil.  Specifically for those of us who believe, it is so that holiness and godliness might not be threatened as we try to live congruent lives that do not force us to conflict with civic authorities as we worship God and serve people.


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Say it with Love: Expressing Your Emotions to Your Kids

By Jim Burns 

 

Once, when I was a boy, I was playing in the most important baseball game of my life. I went up to bat in the last inning with the game tied and the bases loaded… and I struck out. We ended up losing the game. I cried like a baby. I didn’t want to see anyone, especially my dad. I looked up and saw him running toward me. I knew I’d failed him. But, instead of expressing his disappointment, he gave me a big bear hug and literally picked me up. Instead of anger, he had tears in his eyes and said, “Jimmy, I’m so proud of you.” My dad was never very mushy, but when I saw the tears in his eyes, I knew he loved me and that everything would be okay.

Saying “I love you” is one of the most important gifts you can give to your children. I encourage you to say it often and show them that you really mean it! While expressing your emotions verbally is needed, it is important to realize that there are other ways to communicate your love that are just as important.


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Readiness and Renewal

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At the midpoint of my college career, I overlooked a great need of change. During the first few years of undergraduate school, I had surrounded myself with friends who influenced me in a way that seemed completely healthy. It took me two years to realize it was not healthy at all. They had instilled in me the desire to break rules and feel no remorse along the way. I chose to conform to a lifestyle because it seemed different and more exciting than anything I had ever known.

Attending a small Christian college made it easy to take a negative stance on the administration. With the hefty amount of rules set in place, I felt as though I had all authoritative eyes on me. I viewed my professors and resident assistants as my babysitters who all watched and waited for me to slip up so I could be punished. As much as I loved breaking rules, I hated getting into trouble.

After those two years, I decided I would transfer to a public university where I would find more freedom. After all, that is what my friends were doing, and I could not imagine being left behind at private school. The people I cared about most were dragging me along with them. While they were not necessarily leading me away from God, they were indeed pulling me away from the place where I would soon find renewal.


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Don’t Panic, Start Again

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How worried should you be about your local church? Do any of these represent your church?

  • People are a little discouraged.
  • It’s hard to get volunteers.
  • Not many new folks show up.
  • When new people do come, they don’t come back.
  • Everybody in church knows everybody.
  • The problem isn’t a lack of vision; it’s too many different visions.
  • Much attention is paid to minor decisions.
  • Financial pressures block every attempt to innovate.
  • The purpose statement that hangs on the wall of your church doesn’t represent what really
  • The age of those attending church is older than the community around it.
  • We seem to love our way of doing things more than we love lost people.
  • You (yes, even you) have wondered about switching churches.

How did you do on this quiz? Did you check more than half of the boxes? If you did, your church might need to recalibrate. Did you check them all? You definitely need to recalibrate!


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Make the Serious Choice to Have Fun in Your Marriage

By Jim Burns and Doug Fields

 

There’s no doubt you’ve heard the expression “Laughter is good medicine.” That same idea is also found in Scripture: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT) We believe with all our hearts that this is also a truism for marriage. This may sound like an oversimplification, but couples who have fun, play, and laugh together are the same couples who enjoy a deep and gratifying relational connection.

Marriage researchers report that strong emotional connections are more often the result of fun rather than from checking off the “to do” list or telling one another what’s wrong with the relationship. We’re not sure how much those researchers got paid to uncover that learning, but you don’t need a Ph.D. to understand the truth behind their discovery. Fun is fun! When fun is evident in a marriage, couples communicate more effectively. You want your spouse to talk more? Then have more fun!


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Let’s Recalibrate!

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Some time ago, my wife, Lavone, and I were driving somewhere, not on the interstate but on a two-lane highway through the countryside. We came up over a bluff, and, immediately before us, we saw an absolutely lovely country church. It struck us as a perfect model for those idyllic country church paintings you see from time to time. As we drew nearer, however, we were stunned to find it was not a church at all, though it had been once. Now the sign outside read, “Antiques!” From a distance, it looked picture-perfect. Up close, it turned out to be a place to browse and buy old stuff (some would say, “junk”).

Once I was in Houston for a church leaders conference and had an opportunity to interact with a number of colleagues and friends. We stayed at a nice hotel downtown with a plush lobby and glass elevators to lift us to our rooms. After one session, a friend and I walked to the elevator to return to our rooms. As we entered the elevator and the doors closed, we were having a stimulating conversation, sharing our concerns and joys. Our fellowship deepened and continued. Indeed, only after several minutes of animated dialogue, did we realize neither of us had pushed a button. There we were in the glass elevator, closed to all but us, having a delightful time together in the full view of Houston but going absolutely nowhere. We were like too many churches are: small, warm, exclusive clubs not moving in any direction in the full view of the world.


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Going in the Direction of Your Purpose

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After high school, I left home for the first time and went into the Navy. I didn’t need to pack much to go, and the Navy taught me my purpose for that time of my life. After military service and wild living, however, I came back home to my parents’ house.

Sometimes you must relaunch at least three times. I remember when I relaunched and moved into my first apartment. Mom folded my clothes and assisted in packing my suitcase to be nice and neat. She bought curtains and helped decorate the apartment. Parents typically do this on the first and second launch, such as college and your first apartment.

Sometimes life gets hard, and you change directions and return home one more time to get back on your feet. On that third relaunch, you may have to go back home when your parents are enjoying their empty nest. They may say, “This is the last time, and when you leave this time, pack your own bags by yourself because we already taught you how to pack for life!”

My point is “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). While on earth, you might mess up a few times, but don’t mess up your purpose for living. Don’t reject the grace of God and His gift of eternal life, because there is a time limit to get right with God.

There’s an urgency for you to fulfill your purpose.


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Where I Messed Up

by Jonathan McKee

 
 

Learning from Past Parenting Mistakes

(The following is an exclusive excerpt from Jonathan McKee’s brand new book, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, released this week.)

Most parents don’t advertise, “Here’s where I messed up!

It’s embarrassing!

So they keep it to themselves. Sadly, this keeps other parents from learning from each other’s mistakes.

What a missed opportunity!

In my travels, I occasionally encountered settings where parents felt safe getting vulnerable with each other, sharing mistakes and asking for prayer and counsel. Most of these venues stimulated others to share similar struggles, and even humble advice, “Here’s what I learned.”

People were hungry for this kind of counsel. I know I was. I loved hearing wisdom from more experienced parents. “I tried this with my son and it didn’t work.”

So this prompted me to begin asking parents:


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