How A Christian Faces Trouble and Tragedy

Emotional TraumaWe live in a world where there is no shortage of trouble. And that trouble often presents a great challenge to our faith.

Perhaps it’s a natural disaster, such as the recent floods in Colorado, or the tornados just a few nights ago in the mid-west. Perhaps it’s an accident, such as the church bus that crashed in Tennessee last week, killing eight and injuring 14 people.

Then there is the almost unspeakable violence both near and far, such as the shooting in the US Navy yard recently, the slaughter at the mall in Nairobi, Kenya, or the systematic killing of Christians in certain parts of the world.

Or perhaps it is your own private trauma, such as for Janet and Paul who have been trying for years to have a baby. Finally, a few months into her pregnancy, they discover their prayed-for child has life-threatening birth defects. Or for Brian, whose father, a pastor, is fatally shot by a parishioner while in his office at church. Or for Evelyn, the widow whose life savings is stolen by her dead husband’s business partner, and is now left with nothing.

No, there is no shortage of trouble in our world. And when trouble happens, it’s normal to ask questions: Why me? Did I do something to let this happen? Couldn’t God have kept this from happening? Where is He now? In the face of unexpected tragedy, the challenge to faith is real.

When trouble comes, here are three things to do:

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How To Influence Others for Christ Without Being Harmed

SaltshakerShould I spend time with my unchristian friends, hoping to be a good influence on them? Or should I stay away from people who are doing wrong things so I don’t do wrong myself?”

The people you hang out with have a big impact on your character. Values, attitudes, beliefs, habits – they are all very contagious! You may not even notice subtle changes in your own soul until you have changed more than you wish. “Simple” things like profanity, attitudes about sexuality, what is appropriate entertainment, and how you treat other people are easily caught.

You can’t spend time in a barnyard and not get dirty.

But didn’t Jesus call His followers to be salt and light? How can you influence others for His Kingdom if you’re not around them? Staying safely inside the walls of the church is not effective. People don’t care about your doctrine if they don’t know and trust you.

You must get out of the saltshaker if your saltiness is to flavor anything. (Matt. 5:13)

How can you deal with this seeming conflict? How can you influence others positively without being corrupted yourself?

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6 Things That Wear You Out That You Can Stop Doing

Frustrated Woman on PhoneWorking hard doesn’t wear you out: working hard and accomplishing nothing wears you out.

If you spend your time and energy trying to do something you can’t do, you’ll only experience frustration, fatigue, and failure.

How much better to understand where you can make a difference, and where your efforts are useless. Then you can spend your valuable time and energy in the right place.

Here are six things you might as well stop doing. All your time and effort will just be wasted:

1. Trying to fix someone else. Has it ever worked? The more you try to force someone else to change, the more they are determined NOT to change. And you seriously stress or damage the relationship in the process.

Instead, believe in them. Encourage them. Help them where they ask for it. (See How I Got My Husband To Change.) If you are in a position to do so, sometimes an intervention may be necessary, but only for truly self-destructive behavior.

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25 Small Things That Make A Difference

Daily ScheduleSmall changes in direction may make a huge difference in your destination. You know that. But it’s easy to fall into a routine and end up some place you would rather not be.

So many areas in life follow this principle. Here are some areas where small actions now may make a huge difference down the road:

  1. Invest a dollar a day in a savings account
  2. Read a few pages a day in a new area of interest
  3. Say “I love you” to your spouse every morning and evening
  4. Turn off the TV for one evening every week and talk together
  5. Walk 15 minutes at lunch time every day
  6. Plant a tree every year
  7. Read 5 verses of Scripture first thing every morning
  8. Say “I’m sorry” before a relationship wound begins to fester
  9. Get regular maintenance on your vehicle
  10. Show up to work on time
  11. Donate lightly-used clothing to charity
  12. Balance your electronic checkbook regularly
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7 Things Healthy Sexuality Is For Married Couples

7 Things Healthy Sexuality Is For Married Couples

Couple on the BeachIf you were from outer space and had a subscription to Direct TV, you would think the only way to have enough interesting sex would be to stay single and look for someone new to hook up with on a regular basis. But reality may not be that way at all. Several studies indicate that on average married people have sex more often, enjoy more varied sex, and are more satisfied with their sex lives than single people. And those with a single sexual partner in the past year report the most happiness in general.

That is not the whole story, of course. Some married couples do fit the stereotype of flannel pajamas and sleeping on separate sides of the bed routinely. Not long ago I saw a patient whose husband spent every evening holed up in the basement watching pornography. “He hasn’t touched me in years,” she said. The pain in her voice was real.

Sex is certainly not the only factor in a successful marriage. For any marriage to work, both husband and wife must be more focused on meeting each other’s needs than getting their own needs met. It takes a lot of forgiveness, flexibility, and unconditional love to make a marriage last.

Nowhere are these characteristics more important than in a couple’s sexual relationship. Here’s what healthy sexuality looks like for a married couple when it’s working well:

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