Possible Signs of Marriage Problems

Got a few minutes? If so, take this quick quiz to see if your marriage might be in trouble.

While the age of busyness and technology is upon us, sometimes we forget to communicate in the simplest ways with your spouse. As people have come to me over the years for marriage coaching, I notice several couples who did not see the warning signs of a great marriage problem which began as a small issue. The small issues in a marriage might go unnoticed until a larger problem brings every issue to the forefront.

The list below is not a guide, but a starting point to determine the health of your marriage

(1) If you call your spouse by the wrong name – your marriage might be in trouble.

(2) If you talk to your Facebook friends more that you talk to your spouse – your marriage might be in trouble.

(3) If you send your wife a text message and you are sitting beside her on the couch – your marriage might be in trouble.

(4) If you have a date night with your spouse and you go out alone – your marriage might be in trouble.

(5) If your children mean more to you than your spouse – your marriage might be in trouble.

(6) If you put yourself before your spouse – your marriage might be in trouble.

(7) If you remember your wife’s Twitter name but cannot remember her first name – your marriage might be in trouble.

(8) If you refer to your spouse as “Ball and Chain” or “Doofus” – your marriage might be in trouble.

(9) If your husband cares more about his dog than you – your marriage might be in trouble.

(10) If your wife cares more about her dishwasher than you – your marriage might be in trouble.

(11) If the only communication you have is on the phone – your marriage might be in trouble.

 

If all the above signs describe your marriage, your marriage IS in trouble.

So, how did you do?

Just some thoughts,

 

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Five MUST NEEDS of Congregational Leadership

 

 

As the leadership speaker and guru John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” While John Maxwell usually says this to a business crowd, the concept also applies to a congregation.

Consider for a moment the congregation who hires a new minister and the work, as well as the membership, takes off like a rocket. As long as the minister stays the congregation is moving ahead, but as soon as the minister leaves, the congregation heads back to much of the same situation from the previous years. Ministers can bring an influx of motivation and desire for a better work, but the leadership is the sustaining catalyst and structure of a growing congregation. The leadership is powerful in its perception and more powerful in its influence.

Below is a list of “Five Must Needs in Congregational Leadership.” These five needs are important in every congregation as Christians seek to take the gospel to the world. As others obey the gospel, they are joined with our local congregations and the leaders needs to be available to assist the membership in living the best life they can and growing every day. Without leadership, the lives of the membership might fall into a windstorm of chaos.

Here are the “Five MUST NEEDS of Congregational Leadership”

 

The Five Must Needs in Congregation Leadership

5 – Every Congregation Needs Knowledgeable Leaders

The leadership of any congregation not only needs to know the text of God’s word, but they need to know the members. God has provided us with the words of everlasting life and also a fellowship the world does not understand.  As our fellowship grows closer, the shepherds (elders) need to know their sheep. Physical shepherds know the sheep they care for each day. They know the food they eat and the water they drink; shouldn’t spiritual shepherds (elders) know their sheep?

4 – Every Congregation Needs Leading Leaders

Congregations do not need “bill-paying” leaders who pay the bills and maintain a congregation. Church members need leaders to step up and be the shepherds (elders) and servants (deacons) they have been appointed to be. There is a powerful difference between leading a congregation and maintaining a congregation.

Sheep (church members) need to be led by their shepherds (elders). The role of a shepherd is not an easy role in the Lord’s church. It takes hard work to oversee those mature in the faith and those new in the faith. As a physical shepherd leads the sheep through the valleys and to the mountain tops, the spiritual shepherds (elders) should lead their congregation through the spiritual valleys and mountain tops.

3 – Every Congregation Needs Seeking Leaders

How many members miss on Sunday morning the elders never go visit? If a sheep was missing from the flock, the shepherds should leave the present and find the absent. (Remember the parable of the lost sheep –Luke 15.3-7) Personally, I would love to see a congregation where the elders notice people absent from the assembled worship of the church and they immediately leave and go seek those lost sheep out? If we cannot save our own flock, are we sure we will be able to save others?

2 – Every Congregation Needs Prepared Leaders

Troubles and turmoil will come to every congregation. The majority, if not all, of the problems a congregation experiences do not arise overnight. Clear signs of problems and conflicts are usually seen several weeks, months and years before the problems rear their ugly heads. Shepherds need to see these problems before they rear their head and deal with the situation before the problems get any worse.

Remember Paul’s words to the Ephesians elders? (Acts 20.18-35) Specifically verse 29 –”I know after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…” Paul urges the elders to be prepared for the problems to come.

1 – Every Congregation Needs Loving Leaders

Without love, leading is worthless. Yes, you can lead a congregation without loving them, but the results will not be one of spiritual greatness. In fact, leading without love will not sustain a congregation seeking to serve the Lord.  Paul himself says that if he had all things but did not have love, he is nothing. (1 Corinthians 13.2-3)

Loving the members enables the leaders to bring the needs of the saints higher and serve them as Christ served others. A loving leadership will love the sheep enough to save their souls!

What do you think? What qualities do you see as “MUSTS” on congregational leadership?

Just some thoughts,


Robin Williams, Jokes and Depression (Church Edition)

Last night, the comedian side of me was tearful. A man whose antics, voices and expressions brought my home a thousand laughs was suddenly gone at the young age of 63. He had just celebrated his birthday a few weeks ago and now, he is gone. He brought our family laughs in Mork and Mindy, Popeye, Good Morning Vietnam, Patch Adams, RV and Mrs. Doubtfire, along with thousands of other guest appearances in shows and movies. His comedic genius was great and his desire to make others laugh was clearly seen in his life.

My heart breaks for his family. Losing someone in this world is difficult; whether you know their time is near or whether they pass suddenly. Mr. Williams’s departure comes as a new Night at the Museum is going to be in theatres soon. Those on the outside saw his career continuing with laughs and more of the wonder character of Teddy Roosevelt. His last publically posted words were to his daughter, Zelda, wishing her a happy birthday.

In the wake of this tragedy, news is breaking that Mr. Williams suffered with depression on and off throughout the years. While most find this odd that a man of a million laughs, millions of fans and a life most who dream to live would suffer from depression, a few others find this to be consistent. While at the time of this writing the speculation is suicide tied to depression, our hearts still break and our prayers still go out.

Before I begin, I do not write the following words from scientific theory, applied psychology or theological studies, I write them from personal experience; this is my heart.

Every day people around you and me are suffering from depression. Many of those you may see as “having it all together” are suffering from this dreaded illness today. This illness can manifest itself is many ways and at various times. Some see depression as someone who sits around and gloats in their trials, tribulations and sorrow; and while this may be true to some, the effects of depression are not always present in the public eye.

I know of preachers who suffer depression but publically are professional, loving and involved in everyone’s life. Inwardly, they are struggling with their own lives and the future of their family. Their lives are a service to others continually, but on the inside they are raging and suffering. They are struggling, but to whom can they go? Everyone looks to the preacher to solve their problems; the preacher is not supposed to have any problems.

I know church members who suffer depression because they feel no one cares about them. How can this be, you ask? Easy. They are the ones that come and go in our assemblies without a handshake or a smile. They are the ones that no one gets to know because no one is sure how to talk to them. These members go home every Sunday and sit alone having left an assembly of joyful people.

I know of church members who do everything they can publically, but just as preachers, they are struggling with depression themselves. Every Sunday they put on the public face of prosperity so people will look to them as an example, not a case. Publically, they do “have it all together” but at home, at work and alone, they are questioning life and the path their lives are taking.

Many times, people who “have it all together” are the ones struggling the most. There are those who we know struggle but we do not know what to say or even what to do. They are the people on the prayer list who have been battling cancer for years, struggling with their marriage, trying to find a job, etc. Those are the ones we need to hold close as well.

There are people struggling with depression right now; some close to you and some far away. You will not be able to pull everyone out of depression’s pit, but you will be able to assist them. In the light of future events, many are telling others, “If you are thinking of Suicide call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.” I agree with their efforts because there are many who need professional counseling and help. However, giving someone a number may not help them. Sitting with them as they make the call will. Holding their hand as they suffer through the ups and downs of life will provide them with people around them to love and support them.

I am thankful the Lord gave us the church to depend on and strive for the prize together. This life is a constant battle and the awesome mind of the Lord gave us a community of people struggling through the same problems we do to love and support us, to pray for us and to help us in our time of need. How is your church family reaching out to everyone?

Here is how you can begin to help?

Get to Know Others – Break out of your church routine and get to know everyone. Church are a family, not a private club with your own table. Get up out of that pew and change pews ever week. Shake hands with people you do not know and get to know others. Want to have some fun? Walk up to someone and ask them their favorite color and why? Get the conversation started.

Stop Telling Others to Reach Out and Go to Them – We live in a lazy religious culture. We invite the community to church and never invite the church into the community. Jesus did not say, “Invite them and they will come,” He said, “Go into all the world…” There is a difference. The church building is not a “Field of Dreams” where we build it and they come; Christ already built it and we go to them.

Stop Just Praying for the Prayer List – Ok, before you jump me, you should pray every day, but why just pray? Why not use the hands, the feet and the abilities God has given you to serve those on the prayer list? I bet many of them will not see anyone during the week. So, why not cut their grass? Rake their leaves? Fix them dinner? Or just stop by to help clean their home if they will let you? Service is action, not words!

In the midst of a worldly loss, let us rise to the occasion!

Just my thoughts,

For those interested in the “Business Edition” of this article, you may go here.

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Personal Note – This was not written as a cure-all, but as a start. There are thousands of people much more qualified than I to handle the situations others are going through. I am writing from personal experience. My prayers go out to those who are currently struggling through life and those who will struggle more. I encourage you to reach out.

 

The Hummingbird Morning

This morning as I read the words of Proverbs 2 and 3 and Ecclesiastes 1, the sound of the rain falling on the earth provided gentle background noise as the words of God filled my mind. The sound of the rain was perfect – constant drops falling on the house, the tree and the ground. It was great reading weather; almost perfect.

As I read in Proverbs, my peripheral vision caught a bright red Cardinal hopping across the flower bed looking for the newest worm to pop out of the ground; an early morning breakfast. While the cardinal hopped around, I thought of my mama (my grandmother) and how she always took care of the birds, especially the hummingbirds. At least one hummingbird feeder hung from her deck in the midst of the wind chimes. Growing up, it was normal to see hummingbird after hummingbird flying around the porch waiting for their turn to drink the red colored homemade mix she always had available.

Even though I was reading, my thoughts kept going back to planting flowers and what particular plant I could get to attract hummingbirds. Little did I know, a second later my thoughts would be interrupted by two hummingbirds; one large and one small. The humming of their wings made the sound of the gentle rain become background noise. Quickly the two hummingbirds took turns drinking from the Torenia flowers Carrie placed on our front porch a few short weeks ago.

Being a mere two feet away, I was amazed as the hummingbirds quickly made their way around each flower in the pot. Their agility was amazing to see while only an arm’s length away. It has been years since I have seen a hummingbird as close as they were; especially since my thoughts were already on hummingbirds.

It turned out that Carrie planted the Torenias and the hummingbirds showed up, amid the rain, to bless my day.

How interesting life is when we just stop and look. Today, stop and look, see the beauty God provides.

Just my thoughts,

Some of My Favorite Quotes on Religion

What is a Quote? – A quote is nothing more than a short thought by man speaking a truth or causing one to think more deeply than he has before.

As some of you may know, I am a quote addict. I have a journal and an Evernote file full of quotes on religion, business, life, parenting, marriage, money and much more. In fact, every morning I text a few friends a challenging quote of the day just to encourage others to expand their thinking and to encourage them.

Below are several of my favorite quotes on religion. They are mean to challenge your thinking. Enjoy.

 

 

“Salvation is free… but discipleship will cost you your life.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

God doesn’t use people simply because they are gifted, but because He is gracious – Wesley Walker

 

“I find that doing the will of God leaves me with no time for disputing about His plans.” — George MacDonald

 

“If we would talk less and pray more about them, things would be better than they are in the world: at least, we should be better enabled to bear them.” — John Owen

 

“There are only 2 reasons everyone is not a Christian: 1) They do not know a Christian or… 2) They do.” — Author Unknown

 

“The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration. A saint is not a man without faults, but a man who has given himself without reserve to God.” — W. T. Richardson

 

“If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” — Author Unknown

 

“Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church… nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Thy Presence.” — Susanna Wesley

 

“If the heart can conceive it, and the mind can believe it, God can achieve it.” — Charles Pollard

 

“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” — St. Augustine of Hippo

 

“No wonder people do not want the Gospel, have you seen our Christians treat their brethren/” (Chris Gallagher)

 

“In Jesus’ case, we have the story of the holiest man who ever lived, and yet it was the prostitutes and thieves who adored Him, and the religious who hated His guts.” — Rebecca Manley Pippert

 

 

Just some thoughts,

 

A Lasting Impression

As we turned off the paved road, the sign clearly marked the way and the gravel road told us we were getting closer. With the windows down, the anticipation grew as the sound of the car tires rolling over gravel filled the air. We knew we were close.

West Virginia Christian Youth Camp holds a special place in my heart because it is where the world stops and relationships grow. Free from the cares of the world, those present cling to each other because we know we are the motivation and encouragement we really need. This is the place where new relationships begin and “old” relationships continue to grow. Even though, many of us have not seen each other in a least a year, maybe more, the smiles across each face let you know how exciting it is to see each other again.

From the morning wakeup bell to the crackling of the evening campfire, each day is a blessing. The blessing is not within us to create, but it has been created for us, by a loving God, for us to cherish. It is this blessing which bonds us though Christ’s love to serve one another each week. The week is not about the team’s points score at the end of the week, but the blessing we can be to someone else.

This past week was a blessing to my family. We needed the refreshment and the encouragement.

While I was blessed with the opportunity to speak each evening, Carrie was blessed to teach the children of the staff who were too young to be a camper. Each time I spoke, the encouragement of my brothers and sisters in Christ was beyond motivating. To look out and see young people and adults taking notes, opening their Bibles and paying attention reminded me why I love that place so much. As Carrie taught the little ones, we were reminded how innocent and how truthful they can be and how excited they get when you teach them about the blessings of God.

Truly, this is a special place.

Personally, without this small camp nestled in the foothills of the West Virginia mountains, my life would probably look different. While I have a great upbringing at home, it was being around those of like precious faith that challenged me and motivated me. The challenge was simple, live for Christ every day and let your light shine. Others did it year after year and challenged each one to continue. The motivation was to serve others. The golden rule was the challenge of the motivation – if you want to serve others in the best way possible, treat them as you wanted to be treated; whether they like you or not. The challenge was great, the motivation changes lives and both bring hope of a better life.

I am thankful I was able to come back this year after a six year hiatus. This place has held a special place in my heart since I was 12 years old and I look forward to seeing the place it will hold in my children’s lives.

Just some thoughts,


To my camp family – SEE YOU LATER!!!

 

 

Minister Seeking a Congregation

Opening up the pages of the newest publication among the churches of Christ, I always flip to the back to read the newest listing for congregations seeking a minister. As I read through each one, I am intrigued and at the same time, find it comical due to the wide variety of listings.

“…at least 17 years experience needed.”

“…must be married. (Children preferred)”

“…must be sound in the faith.” (By the way I have yet to read an advertisement for an unsound minister.)

“…must hold office hours and visit the brethren daily.”

“…wife must be willing to teach classes.” (Who are we hiring here?)

Reading through the list makes me wonder how many churches today would hire Peter, John, Matthew, Paul, Andrew or even Jesus?

While some of the requirements might be helpful, I question the wisdom of making the majority of our ministers into pastors and placing the responsibility of the entire congregation on one man’s shoulders. I wonder who many congregations passed up a growing young man, because he was “too young” for them. I think Timothy and Paul ran into the same problem. (See 1 Timothy 4.12)

So, I came up with an advertisement I would like to see; in fact, I will be the first to toss it out there and see who calls.

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Minister Seeking a Congregation

 

An imperfect minister seeks an imperfect congregation of the Lord’s people who are willing to live for Christ each day. The size of the congregation does not matter, only the size of their hearts.

The congregation must be willing to be challenged, loved, taught and share the love that Christ had for the world in their daily lives. This is not a Sunday only request, but a daily one.

The membership must not be apathetic; if there is, let it not be the majority. If it is the majority, let them be prepared for an honest discussion centered around the sacrifice of Christ.

The membership should be ready to open a Bible and discuss the greatness of God, the life of Christ and the purpose of the Spirit. The membership should be ready to have people of all races, nationalities, backgrounds, social status, economic status and jobs enter into Bible study together. The congregation must be ready to reach outside of their comfort zone to assist others in knowing Christ.

The deacons, if applicable, must be willing to serve as Christ served us. There should understand their work is not only a physical work, but a spiritual one as well. Their work will help to take care of members, the physical building, the teaching program and many other needful areas to assist with the growth of the congregation.

The elders, if applicable, must be willing to shepherd. They should not be bill payers, but leaders of the flock. They must understand they are accountable to the flock God has called them to shepherd. They should lead the congregation from the front, not beat them from the pew. They should visit the flock to know them by name.

As a whole, the congregation should be trying – trying to serve God every day. They do not need to be perfect, just willing to reach for perfection. It is Christ which makes us perfect, not ourselves.

The congregation should strive to rejoice and cry together often.

Regarding a building…not necessary.

Regarding Powerpoint…not necessary.

Regarding love…ready to grow.

Regarding hope…only in Christ.

No resume or references necessary.

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To make this discussion even deeper, if these qualifications interest you, feel free to call me at 843-437-8772. Ask for Chris, I just might be looking for you.

Just some thoughts,

 

 

My Grandmother Got Better

Marsha's camera thanksgiving 2010 209

Today, my grandmother got better.

As many of you know my grandmother has been battling cancer for 18 months. Today, at 1:27pm, she got better.

Her body has been work out throughout this battle, but today it got better. Her fleshly body faded fast, but her spiritual body was ready as it had ever been. There was nothing that would stop her from stepping out of this life and into the next. Today, she was ready to get better.

As she closed her eyes for the last time, she knew. She knew something that each of us desire to know – she knew she would get better. Her frail body will now walk again. Her breathing is no longer labored, but the best it has even been. She is better.

Today, it was hard to watch her get better. The memories of the past flooded our mind as each memory became a small tear. The tears were definitely flowing and one day they will stop, but for now, let the memories of the past be the power in the light of the future.

Leave a legacy by living your life.

Today, my grandmother got better.

Just my thoughts,

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A Preacher’s Faithfulness


 

 

A preacher’s faithfulness to the Word is not based on…

  • His age
  • The number of sermons he has preached
  • The size of the congregation where he preaches
  • How many gospel meetings he has held
  • Whether the congregation was growing or not
  • Whether he lives in the Bible Belt or not
  • Whether he a married, single or even divorced

It is time congregations wake up and see the character of the man and not the external numbers of human thought. We, the church, are losing good men because our human eyes have taken the place of God’s grace. Hiring committees and churches forget men like Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Peter, Andrew and Paul. Instead they focus is on what other preachers and congregations are doing, instead of what Paul told Timothy. Their focus continues to what type of building and who can be brought to it. I hate to break it to you, but God’s Heaven is big enough for all of us, focus on get people to His heaven, not your building.

It is time we wake up and see that God’s view of faithfulness in preaching could very well be the one we do not possess. It is time to change the glasses and see our brethren from heaven’s eyes.

Just my thoughts,

Chris