All posts filed under: Personal Growth

How To Have a Great Marriage

Marriage, as Paul says in Ephesians 5:32, is “a great mystery.” Yeah… we know. He goes on to say, “but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” I think it is interesting when we inside the church google the best gift to buy at Valentines or the best place to take my wife on vacation for our anniversary or what gift a wife can give to celebrate his manhood. We want quick fixes for a great marriage. You, like me, may have a book with advice like leaving a rose everyday on the counter for your wife, or telling your husband how attractive a shirt makes him look as he leaves in the morning. But where do these things leave us on being one in the way Christ and His church are one? I think advice like this leaves us thinking we are the ones who can create the type of closeness referred to by Paul. We seem to think “two are united into one” has everything to do …

Are You Arming Yourself with Worthless Spitballs?

I remember being a college student and sitting in front of the TV listening to the Georgia Governor Zell Miller speak at the Republican National Convention in 2004. He was talking about how Senator Kerry, then presidential candidate, was opposed to expansion of military forces. Governor Miller said, “This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, US forces armed with what? Spitballs?” The crowd erupted in a standing ovation. Agree or disagree, I have never been able to forget, “Armed with what? Spitballs?” I think this often what we arm ourselves with when it comes to sin: spitballs. Sin is deadly, and it is not Satan who sends us to Hell, it is our sin. Sin has ended the lives of millions of people, and has led people to end their life as well. Sin has caused countless health issues, depression, loneliness, fear, anxiety, and secluded life styles. Sin has led to division in families, and churches, business. It has started wars and psychotic mass casualties. …

Are You Disciplining to Punish or Teach?

About three years ago I wrote about how I use a belt to raise my kids. Since then, we’ve added two more kids to our family. I thought it was time to see how this practice has been working. In the post, I talked about how my children see how I am dressed physically and spiritually. Are they watching me put on my best? Am I leading by example? Like any parent will tell you, this is only one part of being a parent. You could model perfectly how to be an outstanding citizen or loving Christian and your kids will still be jerks at times. (Yes, I said my kids can be jerks and I stand by that statement.) I love my kids and, for the most part, they are really good kids, but they are human too and make mistakes. Discipline can be a difficult subject to talk about. Some parents lean to the strict side of discipline while others are more lax. But the Bible is very clear in that we should …

Can You Change Your Perspective of Your Circumstance?

-written by Matt Clotfelter When I revisit stories of the Bible we have heard since we were kids, I like to try to look at them from a different perspective. I like the fresh feeling this gives as I seek the living nature of scripture. The story I have been looking at recently is when David faces Goliath. I wonder what it would be like if I were one of the Israelite soldiers called up by Saul to face off against our sworn enemy, the Philistines. I have marched off to the battlefield. When we go out for our first day of battle, at the front of the enemy line marches Goliath. This guy is huge! I can imagine how ferocious his voice would sound, as he taunts and shouts obscenities. And then he issues his challenge: “Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves!” (1 Samuel 17:8-9) No one wants to be …

Search For Truth in A Fog of Fatigue

Hell begins the day God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done… but did not do. – Johann Wolfgang Not too long ago I got a new Study Bible; kind of a fresh start and exploring a different translation. At the front, on the first blank white page all Bibles seem to have, I felt prompted to start a list. I wrote at the top of the page “Men After God’s Own Heart.” The first name which belongs on this list is David (see 1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). But he hasn’t made it on there yet, simply because I haven’t made it to his story yet. I wanted to jot the names down as I came to them, recognizing those who stand out in His story as being chasers and seekers of God’s identity and purpose. Men who desire His thoughts, adopt His will as their own, and are in friendship with Him. (I’ve got four names on the list so far.) …

Are Your Feelings Lying To You?

How many of us have found ourselves wanting to do what feels right? I have. Hollywood has taught us to “follow your heart,” but scripture says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9). So what do we do with all these feelings we have, especially when a big decision is on the line? Let’s take a quick look at the story of King Saul following his feelings in 1 Samuel 13. Saul hadn’t been king long and was preparing the Israelite army for battle against the Philistines. Saul could sense the fear setting in among his troops and they were scattering. Time was running out. The battle was near. However, Saul wouldn’t do anything without God’s blessing. Earlier, Saul was given a command from the prophet and priest, Samuel, to wait until Samuel showed up to offer the burnt offering and peace offering to receive God’s blessing. Seeing his troops fearful and time running out, Saul took matters into his …

Can You Change Your Focus When Facing Fear?

Let’s look a little more closely at the differences between David, the Israelites, and Goliath. As we read the story in 1 Samuel 17, two truths stand out right away: 1) Goliath is huge, 2) the Israelites, including King Saul, are terrified. Goliath was almost ten feet tall and he had the best armor the Philistines could attain: a large standing shield, a coat of mail weighing about 125 pounds, and a spear with a head made from iron weighing about 15 pounds. Not only is this guy huge, his armor and weaponry are some of the best. No one in Israel’s mighty army dared to walk up to this giant—despite his taunts. And what of Goliath’s taunts? He said things like, “Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick?” He also curses David by his gods, “I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” King Saul and the army of Israel feared death at the hand of this Philistine. What of the shepherd boy? Although we read David …

Questioning Your Purpose? Get a New Perspective.

Our purpose in life seems to be a question everyone at some time in their life must ask. While it’s a great question, I think the answer people are looking for is not right. Or perhaps we are looking at the question wrong.  Melissa and I sure were 3 years ago. One Wednesday night when our church still met at the chicken farms, Melissa texted me to come to the preschool area of our facility. This was the first time she told me about Hailey. Oh, how to describe Hailey? She has an infectious smile, and a carefree attitude that surpasses reason. She’s also been through a lot more than I could ever image. Hailey had just entered into the foster system and was staying with Melissa and Steven Beam.  But I remember my Melissa, in her own way, basically telling me we would be adopting Hailey. It took me a little longer to get used to the idea of adoption, but I finally understood what we needed to do. We signed up to start …

What Have I Been Doing With My Life?

Say what you want about the ending, Lost remains my favorite TV show. Since the release of the first season, Corey and I have watched it 5 times from start to finish. It takes 91 hours to watch all 6 seasons. Do the math and I have spent 455 hours with Oceanic Flight 815 as they ran from monsters, fought the others, and tried to find their way back (don’t worry, no spoilers). (Ready for this reality check?) According to a quick search on Google, a person can read the entire Bible in 60 to 75 hours. (I wasn’t ready either.) After our most recent viewing of Lost, Corey shared this with me and I was pierced to the heart. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. – Joshua 1:8 With a Bible in hand, reading it from cover to cover seems daunting. But in this light, my …

Remembering Christmas in the New Year

I love Christmas! It is an incredible time of year. Normally I’m not allowed to bring the outside in, but every year Karen is so excited to go with our girls and cut down a tree and decorate it with them. We bring out decorations that have been boxed up for 11 months and spread them all over our house. We bake special treats, sing seasonal songs, and get together with family. I enjoy giving things to others and seeing how it makes them happy. Watching my girls open presents and get excited about simple things like socks and doll clothes makes it all the more fun. A couple of years ago, Reese, my oldest daughter, received toys for a doll from a grandparent when we saw them before Christmas Day, the day she was getting the doll. I don’t think she put two and two together, but if she had, she would have been able to see what was coming. This is Christmas for us. It’s like a gift you get on Christmas Eve …