January 1, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

People come for counseling often because they are struggling with a pattern of negative behaviors. They say they want to change but have difficulty doing so. Sometimes it is the strong grip of a bad habit and sometimes the habit has been tolerated and become a full blown addiction. The cycle is: sin-confess-repent-repeat. So how can the cycle be broken?

According to Oswald Chambers, “The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world. The Spirit of God apprehends me and I am obliged to get alone with God and fight the battle out before Him. Until that is done, I lose every time.” (My Utmost for His Highest, Classic Edition, December 27)

Breaking the cycle and winning the ...

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January 1, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

In the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is gifted with a huge suitcase from Mr. Gower so George can travel and “see the world.” Like George, whenever you or I take a trip we pack our clothes and toiletries in suitcases. When we return from our trip our suitcases are full of dirty laundry which must then be washed. Whether you call them suitcases or baggage, we all have them and use them whenever we go somewhere for more than a night.

There’s another use of the term baggage when applied to relationships. When two people marry they bring their emotional baggage with them into the relationship. Emotional baggage comes from our past, i.e things experienced in our families-of-...

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January 1, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

When Elsie and I were first married, I expected to handle the finances, after all, my father handled them for our family when I was growing up. The problem was that I wasn’t good at it. One day in prayer I was complaining to the Lord about the bills. The Lord said to me in His inner voice, ”Hey, I gave you a banker for a wife. Ask for her help.” I humbled myself and asked Elsie for her help in paying the bills. I have never regretted that decision.

Everyone has expectations. Expectations are ways we anticipate people or ourselves will behave or respond. Whether we are aware of them or not, we all have them. Where do expectations come from and how do they often hurt relationships? A primary source for our expectations is ...

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January 1, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

As a golfer who tries to get his money’s worth out of a course, I am quite familiar with the term “mulligan.” A mulligan is a second shot taken because the first shot went awry. It is meant to be a second chance to hit the shot better. It should not surprise you to learn that our God believes in mulligans. He gives second chances to His children.

Consider the plight of the Apostle Peter. Peter failed the test miserably. He had pledged his undying devotion and loyalty to Jesus. In Matthew’s gospel, Peter declares, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus challenges that grandiose gesture by telling him he would deny him three times before the cock crows to which ...

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December 1, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

Like Elsie and me, many of you go to church on Sundays. We hear messages proclaimed from the pulpit but is your pastor great at preaching? How would you know? What are the qualities of great preaching against which to measure your pastor’s preaching? To find the standard for great preaching, let’s look to the Bible for answers. In Acts 2 we read of one of the greatest messages ever preached. It is the message preached by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Preaching to unsaved Jews from all over the known world, the Lord uses Peter’s message to save 3000 souls. It is an amazing message! It also gives us a model of great preaching seldom seen today.

Based on Peter’s Pentecost sermon, all great preaching speaks...

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December 1, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

Here comes Christmas, ready or not! I don't know why it always seems to catch me off guard. I depend on Thanksgiving to help me prepare mentally and practically for Christmas, but this year it feels like Thanksgiving got lost in the shuffle. It seems that we jumped straight from October right into the “Holiday” shopping season. The Christmas decorations went up, but the emphasis is not on Christmas. The emphasis is on shopping. Christmas and Thanksgiving are both getting lost.

We need Thanksgiving to help us prepare for Christmas in many important ways. We desperately need to have humble and thankful hearts. When did “Black Friday” become all about getting really good deals and shopping for ourselves? In fact, ...

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December 1, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

All of us have heard them. The trite expressions bantered about in the world around us. Here is my Top 10 list of expressions used by the world and my comments on each:

1. “Bigger is better.”

No, better is better. Just because something is big doesn’t mean it is better.

2: ”The More the Merrier.”

See the comment on #1. More of something doesn’t make us merrier. I think of the biography of Howard Hughes, America’s first billionaire. Hughes was married three times yet declared in his biography, “I never knew if any of them loved me or my money.” More does not necessarily mean merrier.

3. “Sex sells.”

Yep, an attractive woman showing some skin on the cover of a magazine or...

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December 1, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

Shortly after I was saved while serving in the United States Air Force, a friend in the Baptist church we attended convinced Elsie and me to join the choir. Just so you won’t think it was because of our sterling voices, Elsie and I have “choir voices.” Since there were only 20 or so in the choir, they needed people. We rehearsed every week and sang every Sunday. All special music: solos, duets, trios, came from choir members. It was fun and a great way to serve the Lord. So whatever happened to the choir? Yes, Teen Challenge has a 300 voice choir and several mainline churches have choirs but the choir has fallen out of fashion. Now most evangelical churches have a praise band with singers leading the worship. I’m not...

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November 1, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

When couples come for marriage counseling they often say that communication is their main problem. There typically are deeper problems as well, but communication is a good place to start. Without safe and respectful communication, it is not even possible to work on the deeper issues. One of the largest longitudinal research studies of marriage ever conducted was begun in 1980 at the Center for Marriage and Family Studies at Denver University. Drs. Scott Stanley, Daniel Trathan, and Savanna McCain used the research findings from this 20 year longitudinal study to develop curriculum to help couples function well in their relationships. The primary finding was that the best overall predictor of how well a couple is going to do in the future is...

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November 1, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

Proverbs 29:19 teaches us that, “A slave will not be instructed by words alone; For though he understands, there will be no response” (NIV). Is this a case of cognitive deficiency? No, the slave understands what’s being asked of him by the master. If he understands what is being asked of him, why doesn’t he obey? We have modern sayings that speak to this: “Talk is cheap.” “Actions speak louder than words.” This slave has chosen to not obey. This is a matter of the will and this slave has a rebel will and has chosen not to obey his master.

What could the master do to get the rebellious slave to obey? He could threaten him but that is no substitute for ACTIONS! The master needs to take action ...

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