WHAT IS A FACEBOOK FAST?

“Every time I scroll through Facebook, I see an acquaintance bragging about their dynamic spiritual life, perfectly obedient children, and vibrant career. I want that for my life, but I seriously don’t know where they find the time.” (echurch quote)
Facebook has become the idol of many. Facebook is the connection tool from February 4, 2004, created by two Harvard University students to keep the classmates in touch with profiles, posts and pictures. Now some 2 billion people use Facebook, some checking Facebook multiple times per day. Mobile FB has made it easy for users to check their status or their friend’s status many times throughout the day sometimes creating an addiction to “likes” and “shares”.

The problem is, while we connect with others we have found ourselves drowning in a pool of information, an addiction to “being in the loop” and a host of other philosophical dilemmas. Facebook addiction is common and there is even a Facebook Addiction Test online. (Now I know you are secretly going to see how you score on it – aren’t you?).
Maybe it is time for a Facebook fast. Occasionally I will read someone post, “I’m going to be off Facebook for a while.” Or, another will dramatically comment, “I can’t take the drama anymore – getting off FB.”

A Facebook fast is when a time is set aside away from Facebook for vacation, renwed focus or a fresh mental picture of life. Maybe it is time to take a Facebook Fast, let’s look at the next few reasons why a person would want to take a season of time to withdraw from Facebook.

FOCUS ON INVESTING IN INSPIRATION From Facebook to face look. Honestly, we could spend more time in prayer, Bible reading, and reflection, if we prayed to the proportionate amount of time we have been spending on FB we could settle into  peaceful and fulfilling spiritual refreshment.

CREATE REAL RELATIONSHIPS Instead of having platonic relationships via the computer, step into the real world and strengthen a relationship that is waning or fractured. Invite someone to have a cup of coffee or get together with another couple for lunch.

One of the major, hidden mental and emotional dangers of FB is to compare my life with my FB friends. Examine the list below and evaluate how many times we have compared ourselves to someone’s post.

WOW! Look where they went on vacation
My friend’s marriage is more romantic than mine
There children are so much better behaved
They have the dream life – my life is so ordinary
My friends just got a new car – we are still driving a “Junker”
How come they get to do that?
They must have a lot of money

“LIKES” AND “SHARES” DON”T DETERMINE YOUR SELF VALUE If we get minimal “likes” we have a bad day but if we get elevated “likes” it changes our mood and our emotions. There are people who really care for you but don’t express it openly on FB. Value is determined by who you are not a fabricated or perceived lifestyle on FB.

DEPRESSION ABATED Deep concern over our Facebook image can bring about bouts of depression. Finding ourselves with “nothing exciting to post” can bring us to a state of withdraw and intense loneliness. Connecting digitally while avoiding personal encounters can be damaging in our psychological and/or physical health. Taking a break and spending quality time with our family, friends or relatives can create healing bonds and emotional outlets. Having a week or month of not comparing weight, looks, opportunities, children, homes and other subjects could lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

FOCUS ON IMPORTANT ISSUES Is it just me or have you noticed how magnetized a person is to their phone, tablet or laptop while missing moments with their spouse, their children, their friends or other acquaintances? Several guests are having an important conversation and they are sitting in a corner sharing a comical post on FB. A FB fast may bring a renewed focus on what is important. Certainly we will have more time to devote to a hobby, family or other activities.

Let’s take a FB Break or a FB fast and give our emotions, mind and family a break. (Even though I’ll be participating in a FB Fast several posts may appear on FB through a Twitter post or with Buffer).Do you think a FB would help your family? What’s your thoughts about a FB Break?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.

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The Small Church Pastor

It is interesting to note 60% of America’s churches run 60 or less but regardless of the size we can all do better to encourage, support, pray for and be a friend to the small church pastor.
This is a non-comprehensive list of items you may or may not find true of a small church pastor

1. He gets a late night call form a member who found a hymn book had been colored with a Crayola and he thinks he knows who did it.
2. Somebody was off-key Sunday during the song service and there was a call Monday morning, “Who is going to do something about it?” (Meaning the pastor is expected to do something about it).
3. The testimony service took a turn Sunday night when Sis Smith started “testifying” about her “old man’s” colonoscopy results.
4. The trash from last month’s social wasn’t taken out and a deacon meeting was called to see who is responsible.
5. Door to door visitation was poorly attended with one teenager, an older women and one child.
6. The Sunday School offering was larger than the tithe offering. Disgruntled members were the cause.
7. The sermon went over seven minutes according to the head deacon.
8. The same busy body who spread something about Sis Smith has now sided with Sis Smith against the Pastor’s wife.
9. A ninety-two year old faithful member fell asleep again during the Sunday morning message.
10. A wasp flew in the back door and caused more excitement than the song service.

Hopefully you had a good laugh at this exaggerated post but truthfully the small church pastor has a tremendous load and can be applauded for many services to the church and community. Here is a non-comprehensive list of items you may or may not find true of a small church pastor.

1. Often the Pastor and his wife are the only ones who show up for the Monday night prayer meeting.
2. If the special speaker is to receive a decent offering for the Sunday Morning message the Pastor and his wife are usually the ones who gave sacrificially.
3. The small church pastor often has to put gas on his credit card so he can go to hospital to visit an ailing church member.
4. The small church pastor and his wife are not applauded enough and criticized too much.
5. The small church pastor is usually the one inviting new people to the church.
6. The small church pastor is tired, stays up late, works a job, visits the sick and organizes events and spends Saturdays mowing the church yard.
7. The small church pastor is underpaid but he is expected to drive a nice car that represents the church well.
8. The small church Pastor’s children are often expected to live exemplary lives – no mistakes allowed
9. The small church pastor’s education, books and seminars are usually at his own expense.
10. The small church pastor’s vision is waning because only a few catch the vision.

Merely knowing the problem but not doing something about the problem will only allow the problem to get worse. Here is a short list of ideas to encourage our small church pastors – start today

1. Slip the small church pastor some money for dinner at a nice restaurant
2. Give the pastor’s wife some money to go shopping with
3. Evaluate his salary and considering a substantial raise
4. Take notes of the pastor’s sermon
5. Offer to mow the yard while the pastor and his family are away at a conference or vacation
6. Offer to babysit the pastor’s children so he and his wife can go out on a date
7. Pray for them daily
8. Stomp out gossip
9. Be a volunteer
10. Encourage your pastor with complimentary words

There are many things we can add to the list – what do you think?

 

The Ephesians Six Husband

prayerSome friends of ours celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary recently. Friends, family and acquaintances gathered to celebrate their lifelong commitment to each other. If you were to ask her how the blushing bride did it, she would gladly reply, “I prayed for my husband every day.”

Of all the qualities of my wife, I am most appreciative of my wife’s one most important task, she prays for me.  She daily prays for me. Not only have I felt her prayers but I have seen the answer to her prayers frequently. My wife has a unique prayer pattern, she prays for me to become an Ephesians Six Man. She takes each verse and prays every aspect into my life. It is interesting to note the Armor of God follows the discourse on marriage; it isn’t difficult to believe it is intentional.

Ephesians 6:13-18  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

She visualizes placing the armor of God upon me each day. She prays the following according to Ephesians 6:

Armor “God will strengthen my husband to be able to stand against adversity and stand firm in the face of opposition.”

Loins Girded “God will always reveal truth to my husband’s heart and expose fads, false prophets, and foolish tales.”

Breastplate “God will cloth my husband in righteousness and he will live a pure and holy life.”

Feet “His light will shine and my husband will influence many for Jesus Christ.”

Shield “God will enable my husband to resist temptation. Pornography, seducers and illicit women will not appeal to him in any manner.”

Helmet “My husband’s mind will be open to the voice of God and he will be protected from wrong.”

Sword of the Spirit “The Word of God will grow in His life, be evident in his steps and be the love of his life.”

Prayer “Prayer will be my husband’s foremost desire and he will find sweet and precious fellowship in the presence of the Lord.”

Comment: How do you pray for your husband each day? What do you think is the most effective way to pray for your husband?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Raising Our Children to Be Spiritual Champions

Picture1Holding a newborn has always been a challenge, they are so fragile, but holding my newborn shook me to the very core. Even though that sacred moment occurred several years ago the imagery still captures my hearts, A father holding his own baby for the first time and thinking, “Now what?”

My children are grown and raising their own family but I remembering asking, “Now what?” on their first day of school, their teenage years, the moment they brought home someone they “had their eye on.” Contemplating my role as a father has been questioned, oh, not by others, but over and over in my own mind. I read books, I watched how other father’s did it and I even prayed about it, “Dear God, make me a good father.”

Raising children has never been easy and pointing fingers at other’s mistakes in our own self-righteous stance only sets us up for possible failure.

Several things are for sure about parenting:

  • Being a parent is not easy
  • You will make mistakes
  • When your children grow up, they will make their own mistakes.
  • We need God’s help

However, culture in its demoralized state unfortunately has been a chokepoint in the arena of child rearing. Building spiritually aware children and youth takes initiative, action and consistency. Perfectionism isn’t required but daily character reinforcement is required. What we do must be done intentionally and habitually.

Here are Six Habits in Raising Our Children as Spiritual Champions:

Pray Daily With Your Children – nothing, I repeat nothing, has the power to make your child a spiritual champion as prayer does. Praying in the morning with your children, before they leave for school, helps place the right spirit around them. Close the day with prayer and prayer requests, praying one for another.

Ask Questions – have moments of conversation and interaction with your children each day. Inquisitive and investigation are miles apart. Find out what is important to them. Talk about the hard things – friends, sex, dirty words, sexting, and pornography, coupled with God’s biblical design for a holy body, mind, spirit and life.

Involve Yourself In Their Life – What do they like to do? Can their friends come over your house for a pizza party? Take them, don’t just send them, to church camps, outings, and sport events, including hunting, camping and fishing.

Go On Word Adventures Together – Study a subject, theme or passage of scripture together. Make the Word of God exciting to your children. Welcome missionaries and other godly figures into your home. Share God’s Word with your children regularly when you camp together, go on a trip and regularly at night before bedtime.

Cleanse Your Home – Letting something get in their minds through illicit TV programs, vulgar music or movies may take months to root out. Make sure the internet is guarded and your children are warned of predators. Teach your children modesty and self-respect.

Love Them Unconditionally – tell them you love them, frequently and meaningfully. Go throughout the day with a positive word and a hug. Praise them for making a wise choice and doing the right thing.

 

Comment: What advice do you give to parents wanting to raise spiritual champions in their home.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Creating Unbelievable Respect for the Pastor’s Wife

prayerThe greatest advice my wife has given to Pastor’s wives is to keep your mouth shut during times of conflict and be an encourager to your husband but a Pastor often neglects, ignores or sometimes just doesn’t include his wife into his ministry role.

I remember when I was dating my wife it was important for me to know are you called into the ministry? I knew my ministry and her ministry had to mesh but in my first few years of ministry I had forgotten about her being called into the ministry and pursued my ministry.

Pastor’s wives were never intended to be a shadow but to be the First Lady of the church. She may not desire a position, she may not crave attention, she may not wish to be in front of people but she is created to be respected. You can create respect for the Pastor’s wife by a few simple steps:

Be Her Greatest Fan – Speak frequently of your wife in endearing terms from the pulpit and in public settings. Don’t degrade her but promote her. She doesn’t just raise your kids she is half of your ministry.

  • Applaud her – admire her ambition, her words and her lifestyle and compliment her frequently privately and publicly
  •  Listen to her cautions and advice. She may not know the whole story but her intuition might save you from making a quick and careless decision.

Take Out Point: Respect and honor for your wife is God’s idea

 

Tell Stories or Embarrassing Events ONLY With Her Permission. This is one of the biggest pastoral “no-nos” there is. She doesn’t need the dirty laundry hanging on the line for the whole church to snicker at. She deserves privacy. Transparency behind the pulpit is your transparency not her transparency.

Take Out Point: Respect from the church for the Pastor’s wife begins with the Pastor.

 

Bring Her Along Side of You Build a ministry consciousness around you that includes her in your schedule of activities, ministry functions and counseling avenues. This may not be possible at all times but doing ministry together is fair, functional and fun.

Take Out Point: The church security rests on the relationship of the Pastor and his wife.

 

Answer Her Phone Calls Secretarial calls are to not screen family. Put them through. When she calls – tell the other party it is my wife – answer the phone – tell her you are with someone – listen to her response – finish the conversation with “I love you.” This is a powerful testimony of respect but gives your wife the security she desires when you are with someone else.

Take Out Point: Let those who surround you know your wife comes first.

 

Bring Her Into Your Personal Life Share prayer requests together. You may not be able to tell her the details of a closed-door board meeting but let her know you have to make some stressful decisions and pray about it together. Allow her to be your soul mate.

Take Out Point: The couple that prays together stays together.

 

Comment: How do you let others know you honor your wife?
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Four Things A Husband Needs to Know About His Wife

11lAfter nearly 36 years of studying my wife I can say with a hearty proclamation, “There is yet so much to learn.” My wife, along with other women in the world, is intriguingly and meticulously created with unique features defining her as woman. No wonder Adam, when wakened from a deep sleep, cried out, “WHOA! MAN!” – Thus, woman.
There is so much more to learn yet there are a few explicit details that emerge fitting the generalities of women. This isn’t a blueprint – it is merely one man’s observation of God’s female creation. Though this is written for men’s information; I know there are women reading this who will print it, post it and may actually hang it on the mirror for their husband to read, and read and re-read.

She is Unique – She Needs Your Love

Perhaps the Bible explains this the best way. She is the weaker vessel but not like you think. As far as strength – she may beat you in arm wrestling. As far as board games – she may skunk you. As far as putt-putt she may make you look bad. But the weaker vessel doesn’t mean weak in the sense of lack but a better interpretation may be fragile vase. As a fragile vase she is uniquely created, with detail. Study her and you will find a unique design, precious detail and amazing quality. She has value, she is a treasure, and she is to be honored, just as you would an heirloom, an expensive, a fragile vase. Admire her, lift her up and respect her and you will discover the hidden value of the women you call wife.
Take Home Point – Love her intentionally

She is Communicative – She Needs You to Listen
Hands down women love to talk, think out loud and communicate their feelings. Maybe men need to open up a bit but until then. When she speaks she needs her husband to listen, listen with his ears and his eyes. Really listen to her thoughts not just her words. You may not understand where she is coming from or why she is saying what she is saying but listen. Listen with your heart, be involved, don’t try to fix it – just try to be understanding. She may need a hug more than your reply.
Take Home Point – Listen intentionally

She has Insight – She Needs Your Understanding
Take the time to delve into the multifaceted mind of your wife as she looks with her eyes, thinks with her mind, feels with her heart and is sensitive to your touch. This is a women’s insight. She feels “something.” She knows people. She reads between the lines. And, she knows you; that’s the scary part. In fact, I move – she reads me. Ouch! As a husband you may not understand her insight but it is not as important as her wanting to know you are trying to understand her feelings and insights.
Take Home Point – Learn intentionally

She Has Her Moments – She Needs Your Faithfulness
She may question your love one day. She wants to know do I look good in this? – not for others but for you. She may ask you if she looks fat? – not for others but for you. She may ask do you like my hair? – not for others but for you. She wants to know you love her for who she is and you are committed till death do us part. She may be crabby, complaining, critical and even nagging but she still loves you and wants you to be totally committed to love her forever. She knows she has her moments – she knows you do to but she wants to be secure on knowing you will stand by her, hold her hand in public and be her man for the rest of your lives.
Take Home Point – Live faithfully

Comment: What do you know about your wife – how do you let her know you honor her?
 Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Four Things a Wife Needs to Know About Her Husband

If you hcoupleave ever questioned your husband’s love, asked him why he wasn’t talking to you, seemed preoccupied or was acting distant you have just entered into manworld. Manworld is reserved, particular and unique. Walk into manworld with me for a few minutes and understand your man.

He Really Does Care.  Husbands Don’t Know How to Say it.

Your husband may be a communicator, speaker, author and move people with his words, comments and posts but when he comes into the arms of his loving wife his mind turns to jello, his spirit melts and his loses his vocabulary. He wants to say I love you a thousand times but it doesn’t sound right. He tries to be romantic but fails, he tries to be interesting and attractive only to trip over his tongue as he endeavors to impress you. He wishes to give you a castle and a prince but settles for a suburban home on a peasant pay scale.

Take Home Point: Even though he is trying to say he cares and jumbles his words – listen to his heart.

 

Your Husband Is Not a Woman. He Shouldn’t Act Like One Either.

Men want to be warriors. A Superman who tries to fix all your problems in life even though all you wanted was a hug. Woman hug – men try to fix it. Women talk out their problems and men sit and think out their problems. Women feel their way through while men try to analyze their way through. Women meet in groups and talk about their problems but men don’t want to talk about it. Ask a man how he feels and he will say, “I’m doing fine,” when the world is falling around him. Ask a woman how she feels and if you are her friend, she will wipe a tear and tell you.

Take Home Point Compliment your husband for the man he is.

 

Husbands Have Feelings. They Don’t Show Their Feelings Much.

Men cry inside. They carry their gripes, complaints, heartaches and disappointments on the inside then explode into a torrent of emotion. No, not all men explode into a raging temper, but sometimes in prayer, sometimes in nonstop paragraphs and at other times they let it out in the exercise room. Men may not show their feelings much but they have feelings. Men have feelings that guard their ego, feelings that are much compressed to protect their image and feelings that are deep.

Take Home Point Be patient and tell your husband you are there when he is ready to express his feelings.

 

Your Husband Loves You. His Expressions of Love are Different than What You Expect.

Just accept it. Believe it! And Know It! He loves you. Be sweet and he won’t be able to resist you. A wife who adores her husband will find a husband who loves in return. He isn’t perfect. He isn’t the richest, best or most successful but he is in love with you. He may need to practice his words, his thoughts and his actions but he is in love with you.

Take Home Point Look into his eyes and tell how much you love him and watch what happens.

 

Comment: What do you know about your husband – how do you let him know you understand him?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Investing in Our Marriage

Picture1People sometimes marry for all the wrong reasons. When a couple marries, it develops into a frenzy of emotion – sadly, for some; it only lasts for a few years before love fades, collapsing into separation and misunderstanding.

Love must be, should be, something more than physical. Regardless how the movies portray marriage – love develops over time. Two people grow in love with each other until more is invested in the marriage than one is willing to withdraw from.

 

Investing into your marriage becomes the diamond of beauty

 

Investing in the love, the husband and wife share, is called commitment. It isn’t give and take – it is give and give. Investment usually involves putting someone of value into something we trust. Marriage defined is putting something we value into the one we trust.

For many – to be able to trust the one you love with your soul, your thoughts, your life, your being, your secrets and your dreams is the peak of love. Moving from emotion to trust is a major step in marriage. After the struggle to survive often a couple will find a deeper love and a deeper trust in one another.

Making deposits into your checkbook guarantees’ you will be able to make withdraws up to the balance of your deposits. Making deposits into your marriage guarantees you will be able to make withdraws up to the balance of your deposits. Life has a way of making one withdrawal after the other – depleting the account. We must add deposits intentionally and on a regular basis.

 

The more you put into your marriage the more you are able to take out of your marriage.

 

Simply investing more into your marriage than you are taking out isn’t just good business sense but it is simply good sense. Let’s look at some common sense ways we can’t invest into our marriage:

Expressions Of Love Holding her hand as you walk together, rubbing her shoulders, or a gentle hug when she comes in from work is adding value in your marriage. It is said a wife needs seven nonsexual touches a day for emotional well being. Don’t be like one guy who patted his wife on the back seven times and felt he had accomplished his expression of love.

Spend Prime Time Together Taking a walk together, grabbing a cup of coffee, taking her lunch to her at work, watching a movie together after the kids have gone to bed, can be prime time events investing into your love relationship.

Write a Note Slipping a note into her lunch bag, having a note posted to the bathroom mirror or having a card waiting for her on the dinner table can fill the emotional love tank up to full. Write meaningful, heartfelt words that you noted her beauty, her strength, her character or her recent decisions.

Pray Together Discover each other’s needs. Pray for each other and confess your own weaknesses. Praying together over your marriage, over your home and over your children will multiply your deposits.

You might think of something that creates a better atmosphere of love in your home but whatever you do you must do regularly, continually making deposits into your marriage.

Comment: What would you add to this list of deposits?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

 

 

The Sixth Swing

Picture2I have asked a guest blogger, Niki, to write today. More information about Niki is at the end of the article

 The sun was finally shining again after several days of wintry bliss.  A gentle breeze was blowing just enough to make one entertain the idea of kite flying and the hint of spring brushed the air.  The playground was filled with smiling children grateful at last for a chance to be outdoors. Laughter saturated the air with a happy melody promising that winter soon would give way to sunnier days.

Her eyes met mine and a smile quickly spread across her face when she recognized me.  Her hand shot up in the air and back down again as if she became embarrassed midway through her greeting.   She darted around the slide out of sight and I began explaining to my daughters who the little girl was.

Several times she walked briskly in front of our family jabbering with a friend about the last time we had seen each other.  Then she would run to the woman who had brought her to the park.  I presumed she was telling her about us because of the vigorous pointing in our direction.

Sometime later as we were swinging and Daddy was giving “monster pushes” to our five kids, I noticed she occupied the sixth swing.  The girlish chatter was gone along with the giggles and grins I’d seen from her moments before.  She sat motionless in the swing, her small hand clutching the chain and her cheek resting against her knuckles.   She seemed to stare at nothing in particular though I caught her stealing frequent glances at our family.  She was momentarily oblivious to her friend’s pleas to join her on the slide again.

My heart broke as I watched her and replayed what I knew of her tragic story in my mind.  She had two sisters; her mommy and daddy were no longer married to each other; her daddy’s new girlfriend was the one who had brought her to the park; and her friend was the new girlfriend’s daughter.

Watching her sit motionless on the swing, I imagined her looking at our family and wishing she could have what we have.  A year ago, she did.  Now her little world was turned upside down and broken, and she was left to pick up the pieces and to try to make sense of it all.

Tears filled my eyes as I realized she had joined the ranks of so many other little boys and girls of our world today whose lives and homes were broken.  For some, the selfish effects of divorce have become common place, but never to those who suffer from its reality.

Once the infection of selfishness becomes obvious, changing one’s behavior is difficult, almost impossible.  The cure requires a heart transplant strengthened by daily Bible reading and prayer time to counteract the symptoms.

It has been said that marriage problems are simply “me” problems.  If I could learn how to get “me” out of the way, I could have a successful, thriving marriage; and therefore, raise healthy, thriving children.

Is my marriage immune to the disease of selfishness? Have I always been perfectly unselfish?  Don’t let me mislead you.  My husband and I have had our fair amount of struggles, often stemming from selfishness.  But for the grace of God, it would be my own little girl sitting idly in that swing wishing she wasn’t a statistic, inwardly longing for a “perfect” family. 

No family is perfect; there are no easy marriages.  Every couple must make a decision to love unconditionally– a love that is not subject to one condition or any condition.

Unfaithfulness, harmful addictions, and even “falling out of love” are symptoms of the condition of marriages and the raging disease of selfishness.  Sadly, selfishness has affected all mankind which is evidenced by the number of broken homes and failed marriages. 

The lives of children are impacted negatively by Mommy and Daddy’s decision to divorce simply because it’s too hard to learn how to live together and love each other unselfishly.  Physically, the child’s heart races and their stomachs sicken when they hear Mommy and Daddy fighting for their own selfish rights.  They wonder what they did to cause this or if they could be good enough to keep it from happening.  The enemy seizes the opportunity to ruin another soul because the parents think they are entitled to fulfilling their own selfish desires.

What can be done to keep the disease of selfishness from infecting our marriages and keep our little ones from being left alone on a swing longing to have a family life that only their parents working together through Jesus Christ can give? 

The antidote for the disease of selfishness is found in Philippians 2:3-4 where we are told to count others more significant than ourselves and to look to the interests of others.  Another antidote, found in Galatians 5:26 cautions that we should not become conceited, provoking or envying one another.   More importantly, we can live I Corinthians 13:4-6: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. This will ensure that we not only keep our little ones from the sorrow of a broken family, we can provide a thriving one for them!

I challenge you to immediately take the first steps in relieving the symptoms of selfishness in your life.  Don’t wait for your spouse to start the process.  Be the change in your marriage today!  Do what it takes to ensure that your child never occupies the sixth swing.

                 Picture1                               

Niki enjoys homeschooling her five children, homemaking, sewing, and creating inspirational art for the home. She has been married for twenty years to her best friend, Steve. They have two precious blessings resting in the arms of Jesus. Their family has enjoyed working together in children’s ministry since 1992 and Niki is currently working towards getting her first children’s book published. She is the blog author of For Journey’s Sake and can also be found on face book writing about her passion to mentor and encourage women and girls on their journey to becoming Proverbs 31 virtuous women.

Fasting from Social Media

For as long as I remember the first month of January has always been a time of personal reflection, goal setting, extended prayer and fasting. Fasting is defined as an abstinence of food but I have broadened the meaning, personally, to abstain from extra curricular activities, reading anything other than inspirational or spiritual content, and social media. Doing without these “daily” activities has been the highlight of the year. Even though the first few days of going without food, reading content and social media, is difficult, it has been extremely rewarding.

Before you quit reading, please, let me explain. Practicing the Daniel Fast for 21 days has been better for me physically and mentally. Daniel, in the Bible, ate only fruits and vegetables for 10 days. later, he entered into another fast continuing for 21 days. The 21 day fast consists of eating only fruit, vegetables and grains, especially abstaining from sugar, fat, and chemically induced foods.

Reading material consists of inspirational materials only, basically, not reading the news, (which usually I do every day). Starting a Bible reading plan has been fundamental and writing regularly in my prayer journal during these 21 days, has been paramount. A prayer journal has been a record of prayers, thoughts and ideas during the 21 days, however, writing occasionally through the year has been a regular practice also. Sometimes picking up a devotional book has been invigorating, pick up a copy of Highpoint Book, for your 21 day Daniel Fast.

Through the last ten years a 4 to 5 day stay in a cabin or condo has been the highlight of the 21 day Daniel fast. Staying alone writing, praying, jogging, thinking, goal setting, and prioritizing has been a true delight. Working harder with greater determination without a time of rest, reflection and relaxation only wearies the spirit and damages our thinking.

Abstaining from social media has been a retreat from blogging, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Checking email becomes less frequent. Sorry if I don’t acknowledge your birthday, update my status or send out a Tweet of something I just read but a 21 day break will enhance my social media later.  I have set some automatic Tweets and may send out some automatic blogs but my next written blog will be towards the end of January.

Why would anyone want to do so a grueling task? Before you count me as a legalist, I have no force, duty, work or command obligating me to this 21 day fast. Fasting for 21 days is a joy, a love, a complete step of “knowing what is best.” Many may start a diet, a budget, or “turn over a new leaf,” but for me starting the year off with a 21 day fast has a long list of benefits.

Focus is increased To see clear – clutter must be removed. While subtracting lesser elements from my life the important comes to the top. Priorities are maximized in my life.

Writing is clearer Clarity is grasped by every writer. Clarity is best when you have eaten right, prayed well, and removed less meaningful tasks from your schedule.

Prayer is richer You are no closer to God than when you pray. Prayer is intensified and enriched.

Bible reading is enlightening While not striving to be a scholar the love for the word of God has naturally increased during the 21 day Daniel fast. The Holy Bible is a mirror of who I am and a testimony to who Jesus really is.

Thinking is clear Just eating the right foods can clear your mind but withdrawing from the clutter of life can expand your vision. If you are trying to find the will of God, the purpose of God for your life or the reflection of God’s character in your life, the 21 day Daniel Fast may be for you.

Life becomes sweeter It isn’t because troubles go away but the courage to face them has been the reward of spending more time with God. Worries become dim, complaints don’t sting as much and steadiness abounds.

Time is fulfilling Finally feeling the benefits of a day well done is an outstanding reward of abstinence. Goals are achieved, time is invested rather than spent, the day finishes with contentment.

God’s presence is near Finding a closeness to God is the real reason behind the entire 21 days.

Comment: What would you add to this list of benefits?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author