4 Heart Reasons to Change

Child on RoadHealing a troubled marriage is HARD! Quitting smoking is HARD! Losing weight is HARD! Changing from a consistently negative attitude to a positive attitude is HARD!

Any significant change in our habits, patterns of behavior, ways of thinking, or lifestyle is tough. Our brain is wired to maintain the status quo, even if our behavior is terribly painful and destructive. Trying to do something different stirs up a screaming fit in our brain that is totally out of our control. That’s biology.

That really is true: we can’t do anything to stop our brain from screaming when we go against long-standing neurological pathways and attempt a new way of behavior. Sometimes there’s a physical component (such as nicotine addiction) on top of the behavior patterns. Yes, change is HARD!

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

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Would Jesus be Conservative or Progressive?

Young Man ConfusedThe majority of the people I’ve been around during my life have been conservatives. By that I mean that the things important to them usually include fiscal responsibility, smaller government, pro-life, and pro-marriage. Those who are Christians express their faith as primarily evangelical. They tend to focus on the importance of individual freedom and its accompanying personal responsibility. They value such characteristics as courage, loyalty, stability, family, and hard work.

But those “conservatives” also frequently demonstrate bigotry. They talk more than they listen. They see the world in black and white, and anyone who is not “right” is “wrong.” They often come across to those of a different persuasion as rigid, uncaring, harsh, and even mean.

And they are absolutely sure they have God on their side. Anyone with a different world-view is asking for God’s judgment.

On the other hand are the progressives. Things important to them usually include fiscal generosity, government and societal help for people in need, and freedom from legalistic constraints. When they are Christian their expressions of faith tend to be much more varied.

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Valentine’s Day for Men and Women

Woman Holding RosesMany retailers were happy yesterday, especially those selling cards, flowers, candy, or romantic dinners. And a few women were happy – those with romantically inclined men in their lives. Valentine’s Day can be fun.

But the majority of both men and women were probably NOT happy yesterday. Many men were frustrated, or irritated with the pressure of romantic expectations “on schedule.” Many women were unhappy, disappointed at being alone, or at the lack of romance their man provided.

I remember the many years I spent Valentine’s Day alone. For a while it was depressing! But it was one of those things that pushed me to learn how to let God meet my needs for intimacy, love, and care.

Just a few weeks before my husband Al and I came to know each other I was speaking at a women’s conference about this very thing. One woman there talked about how she would run from one relationship with a man to another, even though most of those relationships were clearly destructive.

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3 Things that are NOT Small Stuff

Funeral FlowersRule Number 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Rule Number 2: It’s ALL small stuff!

There are very few things in life worthy of being excluded from the “small stuff.”

We were reminded of this today when we heard from a friend of ours that his father had passed away this morning. For Peter, his life on this earth is over. For Steve, the long waits at the hospital, the fighting to arrange insurance coverage, the conversations with doctors, the late-night trips to the ER, the frustrations with family members over details – all that is over too. And suddenly all those pesky problems certainly feel like comparatively “small stuff!”

Steve had a chance to tell his father Goodbye. He knows his father was right with God, and he has a strong faith himself. None of that lessens the pain, but it does limit the regrets. And for the rest of us, seeing someone come to the end of life here does help put everything else in perspective.

In the grand scheme of things, what’s NOT small stuff? A few suggestions:

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5 Thoughts Before You Speak Harshly

5 Thoughts Before You Speak Harshly

Words can hurt!

Right now, think of something someone said to you that still hurts. Perhaps a parent who sighs, “Why did I ever have another kid?” Or a teacher who declares, “You’re just too stupid to teach!” Or a spouse who yells, “I don’t love you anymore!” Sometimes the wounds caused by such words are never completely healed. Apologies help, but the effects cannot always be completely undone.

It takes real emotional and spiritual maturity to pause before speaking, and to consistently use our words for good and not for ill. (See James 1:26, 3:5)

Husbands and wives have a unique power to build each other up or tear each other down. Much of that power resides in your words. Speaking harshly to your spouse is one of the most destructive things you can do to your marriage.

But what do you do when you’re upset, frustrated, or downright angry at something your spouse has said or done?

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