Use whatever God places in your hands, to serve those he puts in your life.

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In a period of two weeks, the treacherous nature of our western culture was put on display by two events. The first was the ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’ ad by Gillette, one of the world’s leading razor brands. The second, the news that the state of New York passed a bill legalising abortion up to birth. One ad, one law one tumultuous culture

A Toxic Ad

Gillette recently launched a new controversial ad that tackles the often heated issue of toxic masculinity. The ad begins with some men looking at themselves in the mirror as a news report plays in the background reporting #metoo allegations. You can see the add here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPmuEyP3a0. The ad continues to different scenes that confront bullying and sexual harassment against women. The advertisement has sparked massive amounts of controversy. Many have praised it for bringing these relevant issues to the forefront, while others accused the company of shaming men, virtue signalling and hypocrisy, leading thousands to boycott the company altogether. In a play on its famous tagline, ‘the best a man can get’ the ad’s narrator asks, “Is this the best a man can get”.

To be sure there are some significant issues with the ad. It portrays sexual harassment and bullying as a male-only issue. While it may be to a lesser degree, men also experience both sins, and not only from other men. Women likewise suffer bullying at the hands of other women. I would have much preferred the ad to address sexual harassment and bullying as a whole. It was a poor generalisation of men at best.

But I also believe (see what I did there?) the ad has a strong central message – we need men to call other men to a higher standard of masculinity. In my view, the ad is highlighting one of the significant needs of our western culture – godly men. Men that use whatever God gives them, power, position, prosperity, to serve those around them. And likewise women. This is a human problem, not a gender problem. This is a sin problem, not a masculine problem. As a father I seek to train my son to grow up, take responsibility, love and serve others and be the best possible man he can. I attempt to model to my daughters what a good godly man looks like so that they will be able to spot a man worthy of investing their future lives to in partnership with serving God and others. While I may fail in these at times, I do believe the premise that men should help raise the standard for other men is important and most effective.

As a pastor, I also know that no man has ever come away from constant criticism and discouragement a better man. The feminist movement began by calling women up, not putting men down. It was, and in many ways still is a significant movement. Women need encouragement to be all they can be as women. And this encouragement should come from not only other women but also men. When the feminist and #metoo movements cross this line, it can and does have devastating effects. This is why the ad had such differing responses. Some read the advertisement as an all-out attack on masculinity. I didn’t interpret it so much this way but rather an essential call for men to call out other men when they sin and to call them to a higher standard of masculinity and manhood.

Men. Step up! Be better. Use whatever God places in your hands, to serve those he puts in your life. Love women. Serve Women. Value women. Don’t abuse, use, harass women.

A Tragic Bill

Last week in New York, a tragic new bill ironically titled “Reproductive Health Act” was passed. This law will allow abortion to be legal up to the point of birth and even makes room for non-doctors to conduct the procedure. My heart grieves. It really does. Even the idea of framing abortion as a procedure makes me feel glum. To be direct, I’m not sure what made me more incandescent, the passing of the law, or the celebration that followed. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo labelled it a historic victory and organised for major state landmarks such as the World Trade Centre be lit pink in celebration.

Much of the rhetoric from the pro-choice movement has been about women’s health. Women’s health of great importance during pregnancy. My wife has had 4 children, and her health is crucial for us as a family. This issue comes 1) when you pair a mother’s health against a child’s. They both matter because both are human and persons. 2) When preserving life and health is defined as all factors including physical, emotional, psychological, familial and even age. It’s not that these don’t matter it’s that any perceived amount of stress in these areas are grounds to terminate the life of a child.

Surely there is no debate as to whether the child is a life? (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/we-know-they-are-killing-children-all-of-us-know) As a pastor, I am reminded of this reality in two distinct ways.

Firstly couples share their sonogram with me with ultimate joyfulness. Why? It is proof of life? It’s proof there is a living person they will one day hold in their hands. Secondly, and more dishearteningly, couples share their grief-stricken news that they are struggling to get pregnant. Why do they grieve? Because they are unable to experience new life in the form of a child in the womb. Both are common and natural expressions that reveal the truth that life is in the womb. Therefore even if the people passing these laws believe that these laws are necessary to preserve a mother’s life and health, surely the decision to pass such a bill is at the very least a sobering decision. But this is not what was expressed at all. It was jubilation and celebration.

A Tumultuous Culture

Our culture is at a crossroads, and we are confused. The message of the Gillette ad tells us to value human life and dignity and to see all people equally. The message of the law tells us that one life is more valuable and the other more expendable. One urges us to call out the wrongful use of strength, position, and sexual desire. That abuse and harassment are wrong and need to be called out for what they are. That we should stand up for victims of such crimes. The other tells us that murder is not a crime but a procedure and to not call it for what it is. Even further, that we should celebrate it.

What we see here is what theologians have long coined as the ‘Incurvatus in se’. That is ‘turned inward on oneself’. Developed most likely by St Augustine, it describes a life that is lived inward for oneself rather than outward for God and others. Martin Luther popularised this theological phrase and wrote specifically of it in his Lectures on Romans stating.

“Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin, [being] so deeply curved in on itself that is not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them, or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realise that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake.”

Over 500 years ago Luther’s description could not be a more accurate one of our western culture today. This is not merely a culture of death as some have called it. It is a culture of me. Everything points to what is best for me. It’s #mefirst. Why do men abuse and harass women – #mefirst. My pleasure, my desire, my will, #mefirst. Additionally, its why abortion is celebrated – #mefirst. My health, my life first. It is what Augustine and Luther called ‘Incurvatus in se’. Self bent in and towards itself.

Welcome to the #mefirst movement.

My Top 10 Reads of 2018

Here are my Top 10 books for 2018. Not in order of enjoyment but in the order I read them.

 

Martin Luther: The man who Rediscovered God and changed the world – Eric Metaxas

Now I’m slightly cheating on this one because I began reading it in 2017. However, I read most of it in January 2018 and if you know anything about Metaxas’ biographies they are not small books. So I’ve sneaked this one in and primarily because I loved it so much. Its one of my favourite books of the past five years. We referenced it in some of our sermon series ‘The 5 Solas’ which you can find here https://www.lifecentrechurch.com/fivesolas. Martin Luther is another exceptional book from one of the great writers in our generation. Metaxas is thorough, as he was with his biography on Bonhoeffer, as he captures the incredible story of the young monk named Martin Luther who turned the Medieval world on its head with the truths found in scripture and scripture alone.

 

Portraits of a Pastor: The 9 Essential Roles of a Church Leader – General Editor Jason K Allen

This is a book where a different author writes each chapter. These types of books always take on a different flavour of their own. And this book is no different. The big idea is calling church leaders back towards a healthy biblical view of leadership, particularly the pastoral role, not a cultural perspective which at times is unhealthy. In an age of celebrity pastor, or CEO pastor this book is needed and in an era of the burnout pastor its needed even more. The heart of the authors is clear. The ideas are helpful and biblical, and I am always in need of a substantial encouragement to remember what the biblical calling of a pastor and leader within the local church is.

 

Why Trust The Bible? – Greg Gilbert

Every year it seems I hear another reason the Bible can’t be trusted. And every year another book comes out to address the supposed contradictions or errors. It seems to be a never-ending cycle. And this is the stark reality when a book is claimed to be more than an ordinary book. Christians claim that the Bible is supernatural – God is the primary author, and historical. Because of the nature of these claims we need reliable, thoughtful defences. I appreciate that Gilbert highlights that people are not required to make an irrational leap of faith without legitimate evidence. He suggests that the leap of faith Christians have taken should be due to the reliability of Jesus life found in the Bible. And he does a great job in a short book unlike many other apologetic books defending the Bible. This book is not academic making it an easy read. Its primary focus is to zero in on whether or not we can trust the historical reliability of the events of Jesus’ life, especially his resurrection. It looks at the translation process and the transmission process in the hope it’ll strengthen the Christians faith in the Bible and the God of the Bible and encourage unbelievers to reconsider their position.

 

No Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What it is and Why it’s Harmful – Andrew David Naselli

If you don’t know what higher life theology is, don’t worry it’s not the end of the world. In my context, it is of vital importance as I live in a Christian bubble dominated by differing versions of it. So for me, this book was helpful in understanding the history of the theology, the attraction to it and how to lovingly confront those that may be unaware of the dangers it possesses. Naselli wrote his dissertation on higher life theology, surveying the history and theology of two-tiered progressive sanctification. He then revised his thesis into an academic work in a book called, ‘Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology which in turn became this miniature version of the book. I say this because to truly understand higher life theology you need to read the book. But in short, it’s the second blessing doctrine. You get saved at one point, but at another point, you need a second blessing. Yes, you’re saved, but now you need to surrender. It creates classes of Christians, those that are carnal and not serious, and those that are spiritual and very serious. Understanding the history was particularly helpful because I was able to learn the trajectory of the doctrine. Nothing ever lands where it leans. So to be able to recognise a starting point from an ending point not only helps to see where something may land, but I found it has given me grace and compassion towards those that are unable to see where the theology ultimately lands. It’s a good read if you battle against this theology as I do regularly.

 

Conscience: What it is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ – Andrew David Naselli & J.D. Crowley

This was a beneficial book. The first two-thirds were as I’d expected and probably didn’t teach anything I didn’t already know. The last third is where it was beneficial. Its focus was on how we handle our disagreements of conscience. How do we relate to one another in the church and other cultures? In matters of conscience, a lack of grace towards others seems to be the prominent disposition. Matters of opinion or in this case, conscience, take precedence over our love and grace towards one another. This book helped in how to create a framework which allows others to follow their convictions while disagreeing. Very helpful. The authors use numerous useful illustrations and tables that help create a framework for working through these issues.

 

The Pursuit of Holiness: Jerry Bridges

If you’ve never read any of Jerry Bridges work, you need to. He’s brilliant. Open to the first page, and three names are present writing praise for the book, J. I. Packer, John MacArthur and R.C Sproul. Nearly every book he writes sells over a million copies and for a good reason. They’re all great books. He’s a great writer and an even better thinker. Jerry takes ideas and simplifies them, makes them accessible. In this book, he passionately calls every Christian to holiness and dispels misconceptions, some of which I had before reading.

 

Spiritual Leadership – J. Oswald Sanders

Spiritual Leadership is an old classic. I’ve read it a few times, but it’s always good to go back to those essential and straightforward books. Sanders hits every angle of leadership and does so not just with scriptural references but with biblical stories and characters. His view of leadership is very biblical and practical. If you are a leader in any form, but especially a Christian leader you must read this book and keep it as regular read in your life.

 

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – Jordan Peterson

Let’s just say this book is a deep dive. Took me a while to get through due to profound philosophical and psychological concepts he explores in each chapter. The chapter headings themselves are simple. You can almost read them, and they are your take away. But what Peterson does is explore each ‘rule’ from a historical development. So while the chapter title may be simple, the journey is seriously developed. Peterson’s goal is not to tell you just what to think but to show you through history why this particular way is the right way. So he regularly uses the scriptures to show how a particular principle was there in ancient writings. He spends a lot of time referring to those of the enlightenment period. People such as Kant and Nietzsche and the like. It’s extensive and exhilarating at the same time. It took me a couple of months to chew through as I often found myself going back over certain sections to wrap my head around the big ideas. It’s philosophical; it’s psychological and really hard hitting. Peterson doesn’t hold back. He has a definite agenda to make you a better person, or at least cause you to consider how you can do this for yourself, particularly by taking responsibility for yourself and your future. If you don’t know who Jordan Peterson is you’re probably not awake yet. He’s the leading voice of reason in the western world which doesn’t make him right, but it does mean he has something to say. This book is an excellent place to hear it.

 

Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News About Jesus More Believable – Sam Chan

I enjoyed the cultural thoughtfulness and scriptural faithfulness with this book. Often books within this topic focus solely on pragmatics, while cherry picking a few verses here and there to make it appear Christian. Chan naturally seeks effectiveness, but he also shows the emphasis of scripture throughout each chapter. He challenges those of us on the more conservative side to reconsider not only our approaches to evangelism but also our sometimes narrow understanding of the way evangelism happened in scripture. Chan is funny. He is , and he is another important voice in helping Christians consider the context we find ourselves in and how to approach our culture with the good news of Jesus. I think every Christian leader should read this book

 

Abba’s Child: Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning is often labelled a mystic. Usually this label is not made in an affirming way. Some of his theological convictions are questionable at times. But what is clear however is that Manning loved God passionately and believed the love was mutual. This book is all about deepening your understanding of God’s love for you. Often we think God’s love towards us is genuine and real and other times we don’t. Manning wants you to believe it at all times and to learn to live in God’s love, even on your worst day. I am currently reading this book with two young men in my church and am encouraged as I read a chapter every Monday night while laying next to my 9-year-old son. He with his Star Wars book in hand, and me with Abba’s Child and then we discuss what we learn from what we read. If there’s anything I want my boy to know its that his Heavenly Father loves him perfectly and thoroughly, even more than I do, and it’s his Spiritual Father that will truly satisfy his soul and lead him to true freedom and joy.

 

Would love to hear what you read and learnt.

#3 – Re-Calibrate – What Matters Most?

Whatever it is you busy yourself with, learn how to connect that activity to eternity.

Ask anyone how they are doing, and you’ll undoubtedly get the ‘busy’ reply. Being busy is seen as a virtue in today’s society when in reality being busy is nothing new, nor impressive. Anyone can fill up a schedule. Previous generations likewise had much on their plate. The Bible affirms we should active and not passive. We were made to work. Work is not part of the fallen curse. Adam and Eve were given the commission to work in the garden (Gen. 1:28-29; 2:15) well before sin entered into the story (Gen. 3). The busyness of family, work, church, friendships etc. is not a fall problem. The effect of sin entering into our story is the lack of joy we experience in our activity, not necessarily the demand for it.

What leads to this lack of joy?

Let me propose to you two problems, two solutions each with an example.

Problem #1

Distracted Busyness: You busy yourself with matters of less importance that therefore leads to you being less effective with what matters most. You might be busy. But busy doing what exactly? Your joy is not solely attached to your doing; it’s connected to your effectiveness.

Solution #1

Busy Yourself With What MATTERS – Big Rocks First

Here’s how the principle works. Imagine you have a large bucket, which you are trying to fill with different sized rocks, stones, and sand. How do you get everything in the bucket? If you put the sand in first, you leave no room for the rocks and maybe a little room for a few stones. If you put the stones in first, you might have space for the sand, but most of the rocks won’t fit.

The only way to fit everything in the bucket is to put the big rocks in first, then the stones. Then, you can pour the sand into the bucket, and it will fill all the spaces in between. The big idea – prioritise the most important!

Before you begin to map out 2019 take time to consider what your big rocks are. Put them into your bucket first and build your schedule appropriately. Don’t let the smaller, less important take precedence over the most important.

But isn’t my bucket still going to be full? How does this simplify my life when there is no space left in my bucket?

Make sure one of your big rocks is rest and recovery. Most people treat rest like sand. Don’t! Make rest a priority. Schedule it in – daily, weekly, yearly.

Example 

One of my big rocks is my own personal and families relational, mental, emotional and spiritual health. These were at one point greatly neglected but are now of utmost importance, thanks to consistent encouragement from an Elder in my church. For me to be productive and energised, I need my family to be healthy. Regular holidays are scheduled in even before the new year rolls around. Why? Because one of our big rocks got put in.

Problem #2

Disconnected Busyness: you focus primarily on the temporal benefits rather than the eternal purpose of why you do what you do.

One of the highest selling books in history is titled, ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Pastor Rick Warren. This book was published in 2002 and was a reflection our cultures desperate need to find purpose in life. More recently the Jordan Peterson phenomenon confirms this deep longing for meaning and purpose in life. His book, ’12 Rules for Life: The Antidote to Chaos’ is also a best seller and his speaking tour all over the world is filled with men and women being inspired to take responsibility and pursue something deeper. What is particularly interesting is that this desperate longing for purpose comes in the age agnosticism and naturalism, where there is no God. If you take away the transcendent purposeful creator however you strip the human soul of the very thing it longs for.

If you find your life rarely categorised by joy then maybe you need to re-calibrate. Perhaps your joy has diminished because you’ve lost sight of why you do what you do. Or maybe your priorities are just out of whack, and now you’re stuck in a dangerous rhythm — either way, you need to establish what matters most in life and point your life in that direction. This Advent and Christmas season you have a prime opportunity to take time, reflect and make the necessary adjustments to get your life back on point.

Solution #2

Busy Yourself With What LASTS – Connect the Eternal to the Temporal

It’s very common for people to be active in good things, without connecting these to the eternal purposes of God. For example, many people work extremely hard in their vocation, but they do so with the goal of acquiring possessions or gaining greater prestige. The working hard is a good thing. But the underlying motivation is temporal. And temporal will never lead to true and lasting joy. That new house, new car, new shoes will undoubtedly produce a little satisfaction. But it won’t last. You’ll be eyeing off the new and better in no time.

What if you could connect what you do to an eternal purpose?

Example 

I worked a job in a retail outlet for many years and didn’t enjoy it. I had become a Christian about a year into the role and increasingly became confronted with matters of integrity and conscience. I regularly considered quitting my job but had this deep sense that God wanted me there. I couldn’t shrug the feeling, and so I stay. But I did not want to remain frustrated. I shared my struggle with a more mature Christian, and they asked me some questions around the eternal purposes of God and whether I believed God was doing something through my working at this company. I soon came to learn that one of the eternal purposes of God is to build my character. Could God’s plan in my remaining in the retail job be to conform me to Christ increasingly? The answer was yes, and as I began to connect my temporary situation with God’s eternal plan, the joy began to return. The temporal had reconnected to the eternal. My role may not last, but my character would.

Whatever it is you busy yourself with, learn how to connect that activity to eternity.

So stay at home mum; disgruntled employee; tired employer; bored student – How can you re-calibrate this summer? How can you identify and move your life towards what matters most and lasts eternally thus living a life you enjoy?

Rethink – Who am I?

Consider the lengths God has gone to make you his own. Focus on Him. Make Him the centre of your thoughts, and He will transform the way you feel about yourself. Ponder the majesty of Christ, and allow your life to sit against the backdrop of an incredible God that loves you and gave his life for you. It will change how you view and feel about yourself.  

As a pastor, I sadly hear all too often that people aren’t happy. What leads to this unhappiness in people is varied to some degree. What is consistent however is that happiness is mostly dependant upon internal conditions rather than external circumstances. It is often the case that two people can be dealing with very similar situations and yet one can persevere without losing joy, while another is unable to find any at all. One of these common internal conditions is a lack of clear identity and self-love. Now I know this sounds a little cliche and even more self-help than sound Christian doctrine, but hear me out. If you don’t have a clear sense of who you are and even more, like who you are, there’s a good chance you won’t experience consistent joy in your life because here’s a mind-blower – you talk with and spend more time with you than any other person.

When you don’t like how you feel in life, the natural response is to make adjustments. However, those changes have to be effective. Leaning heavily on Paul Tripp’s book ‘How People Change’ below are a list of different approaches people take to formalise personal change. None of these is in and of themselves wrong. They just don’t necessarily lead to genuine transformation. Consider if you utilise any of these approaches?

·      LegalismYou make new lists of do’s and don’t’s by which to evaluate oneself. The premise is by changing the external activity you can improve the internal identity.

·      MysticismYou seek spiritual highs and supernatural encounters, moving from one emotional experience to another as a way of escape. It leads to short-term positive feelings but to maintain these feeling you need to recreate the emotional experience. Your identity attaches itself to how you feel.

·      ConsumerismYou spend your life consuming goods and services. Whether purchasing material possessions or personal experiences, when fixated on yourself you never feel satisfied with all you have and experience.

·      ActivismYou get involved in essential causes seeking to right the wrongs you see outside of yourself. You may feel puffed up by the crusades you participate in, yet your brokenness remains unaddressed within.

·      BiblicismYou seek to master theology and the content of the Bible. You may grow in the knowledge of God but not necessarily communion with God. You may know the Word of God, but you may not know the God of the Word.

·      PsychologyismYou talk openly and often about your brokenness, but you may treat Christ and his church as your therapist rather your saviour and his body. Merely talking about problems doesn’t necessarily lead to freedom from the issues.

·      SocialismThis is the act of socialising with people in the hope to become like them. While it is vital to be sharpened by those above you and in front of you, merely socialising does not transform you.

Again, none of these is in and of themselves evil. These approaches are simply ill-equipped to truly transform your soul. So what can we do? Well, let me offer one more ‘ism’.

GOSPELISM

Gospelism is finding your identity in Christ and Christ alone. It’s aligning your view of self, with God’s. What does God say about you? After all, He made you. You have inherent value, worth and dignity, not because of anything you do or don’t do. Not because of anything you achieve or don’t achieve. Rather because God created you. Think about who you are in light of whom God is and has done. The gospel tells us who God is and what he has done and thereby implicates who we are in light of these truths. So consider these five truths and be reminded of who you are in Christ.

God made you in his image: Is there any higher honour that God could bestow upon you than creating you in his image and likeness. You may have days where you fail miserably and sin significantly, but even on that day, you are an image bearer of God (Gen. 1:26).

God sent his son to die in your place: God loves you so much that even when you fracture that image, he is willing to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Jesus not only died for you, but he was willing to die, he chose to die. He wanted to forgive you of all your sin and place you back into a right relationship with God (Rom. 5:8).

God gave you his Spirit: As though forgiving you wasn’t enough, God desires to conform you back into that image of Christ. He does so by providing you with the Spirit to dwell in you to change you from the inside out (Ezek. 36:26;  1 Cor. 2:12).

God gives you His Word: God also wants to continue to commune with you. So He gives you His word so that you can know Him intimately. He gives you his word so that you can not only understand who He is and what he has done but also what he continues to do (1 Pet. 1:23; 1 Jn. 2:14).

God gives you His Family: God not only gives you his Spirit He adopts you into his family. You belong to King Jesus, and He invites into his home and his family. You are God’s son or daughter, and he treats you as such (Gal. 3:26; 4:6).

Consider the lengths God has gone to make you his own. Focus on Him. Make Him the centre of your thoughts, and He will transform the way you feel about yourself. Ponder the majesty of Christ, and allow your life to sit against the backdrop of an incredible God that loves you and gave his life for you. It will change how you view and feel about yourself.

I leave you with my favourite verse in the entire Bible.

“…It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Halloween!

However you and your family decide to participate this weekend. Please prayerfully consider all aspects of the Christian faith and how you can love your neighbour, be a great witness and bring glory to God.

As a Christian family, we affirm the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a historical event. Due to this event, we have placed our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and also seek to follow and obey Christ with our lives. This desire for obedience often leaves us as at a crossroad when it comes to cultural practices. When at odds, do we follow the values and traditions of our culture or do we follow the values and practices of Christianity found in the Bible? When the Bible speaks clearly to an issue such as drunkness, violence, sorcery, gossip and the like, our decision is quite simple. But what about a new cultural rhythm like Halloween in which the Bible doesn’t speak to directly? How do we conclude as to what we will do or not do as a family?

An uncomplicated filter we use to guide our decisions and practices is ‘Reject, Receive or Redeem’. As a family, we often think through these before making a prayerful decision.

REJECT – This is to decide to not participate in it. Reject the whole idea or practice outrightly. As to Halloween, this is a reasonable approach for a Christian. As Christians, we often reject things all-together like pornography or polygamy. We view these as antithetical to the Christian worldview. Halloween has become a social event which associates itself with death, murder, horror, blood, fear and the list goes on. These traits are not things we as Christians celebrate. “So why would you be participating in such a thing?” Well, let me get to that in a bit.

If your family chooses to reject Halloween, which is reasonable, please consider being thoughtful in how you do it. The Bible calls us to love our neighbour, even when we disagree. You may not want to get out in the streets as a family, but you can still find ways to love your neighbour rather than judge your neighbour for not holding the same values as you do. Our neighbours are merely attempting to have some fun and maybe we as Christians differ on where the line is. So be kind, be loving, be a good neighbour. Reject the party but don’t reject your neighbour.

RECEIVE – This is to decide to participate in it fully. Go along with it. It’s harmless fun, and everyone else is doing it. As Christians, we receive many things within our culture as a common good and not at odds with Christianity. The internet is a good example, while it is possible to use the internet for evil, in and of itself the internet is morally neutral. Therefore a Christian can freely receive it and use it for good. Those I know who fully participate in Halloween do so with the intention of being a good neighbour and having harmless fun. Consequently, if your conscience does not allow you to participate in Halloween, be gracious to those whose conscience does allow it.

As a family, we have decided to take a third approach. We will participate in it but only to a certain degree.

REDEEM – As a family, we have decided to participate in it to some degree but with Christian intentionality and purpose. One of the great calls of the Christian faith is to love our neighbour. We agree with those who take the “Receive” approach and believe Halloween creates a great opportunity to meet our neighbours and spend time with them as friends. In fact, in our previous neighbourhood, this was the one time in the year that our entire neighbourhood roamed the streets together and participate as neighbours. In our mind, this is a great opportunity to love our neighbour through friendship and Christian witness. As with those who take the “Reject” approach we also see many things that stand at odds with Christian values. Therefore we seek to participate in it with the intention of enjoying our neighbours and friends while at the same time maintaining our values of life, love, faith rather than death, hate, fear etc.

What this means for us as a family is that we are slightly the odd family out. We dress up as superheroes and princesses. We don’t do blood; we don’t do horror, we do dress up, but it’s on the bright side of things. Sure we stand out a little. But we’d prefer to participate in Halloween to the degree our conscience allows, and hope we don’t offend our neighbours in the process.

We give out lollies, and we receive lollies. We meet new neighbours and hang with our neighbours for an hour or so building friendships and attempting to be good witnesses. We don’t judge, and we don’t expect people with a different worldview than ours to live as we do. Instead, we seek to participate in it, in a way we feel reflects Christian values, and we aim to build friendships that give us an opportunity to love our neighbours as Christ has called us to do.

We also use it as an opportunity to speak to our children about cultural engagement. As parents, we can’t protect our children from everything they are going to face in our culture, but we can prepare them. We sit down our children every year and teach them why we participate the way we do. We teach the gospel, talk about Christ’s gift of life and how we as a family seek to redeem the culture in which we live.

So whatever way you decide to approach Halloween, please prayerfully consider all aspects of the Christian faith and how you can love your neighbour, be a great witness and bring glory to God.

Review – Where Am I?

Life is fast-paced, full of challenges and struggles and unless there is an intentionality to how we live, these seem to be the default of our lives. So what do you do? How do you move from enduring life to enjoying life? The first step is to rhythm times throughout the year for personal review.

You have a picture of your life. Where it’s going? Where you want it to go? And maybe even where you thought your life would already be. One thing I know about your picture is that it includes joy. Everyone wants to live a life they enjoy. No one sets out to be miserable or stressed. No one desires to experience loneliness, hopelessness or live exhausted continuously. Life is fast-paced, full of challenges and struggles and unless there is an intentionality to how we live, these seem to be the default of our lives. So what do you do? How do you move from enduring life to enjoying life? The first step is to rhythm times throughout the year for personal review. You need to pause. You need to reflect. You need to get alone with a pen and paper and objectively look at where you are and where you want to be so that you can begin to move towards the future you desire.

The Bible continually calls you to review where you are (2 Cor. 13:5; Ps. 119:59-60; Hag. 1:5-7; Lam. 3:40). It is a call to look at yourself and take responsibility for our own life. In his famous sermon on the mount (Matt. 5-7) Jesus used the illustration of investigating whether you have a log in your eye rather than worrying about whether someone else may have a speck in there’s (Matt. 7:5) In other words – REVIEW YOURSELF! Jesus isn’t just challenging the hypocrites and haters. He’s teaching a vital life principle of personal responsibility. You are not responsible for how anyone else lives their life, but you are responsible for how you live yours. I often like to say, ‘when you read the Bible read it as a mirror not a set of binoculars’. The goal of binoculars is to focus on something other than yourself, whereas a mirror functions to allow you to inspect yourself. The difficulty, however, is that we don’t like to review ourselves because of fear of what we might see. You, therefore, have a few options. You can deny where you are. You can avoid evaluating where you are. Or you can review and begin to execute the change necessary for you experience a more enjoyable life.

Psalm 77 is one of my life chapters. God used it in a unique way to change my life during a very trying time. I was down, and I was struggling, and in a deep hole that I didn’t know how to escape. As I read the Psalm, I noticed that while the Psalmist began troubled and weary, very much in line with how I felt at the time, that was not how he finished. By the end of the chapter, his entire perspective and position in life changed. The writer moved from complaining about his difficult situation to celebrating all had God had done in the past. How did he make this shift? Verse 5 is when the change began.

5  I consider the days of old, the years long ago. 6  I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: Psalm 77:5

The Psalmist began to ‘consider, remember and meditate’. In other words, he started to apply the principle of review. While experiencing genuine pain, he paused and took stock of his life. If you want to be able to navigate through the complexities and pressures of life, you must learn this habit. We all suffer, struggle, and experience stress. Much of which is out of our control. But what is in our control is how we will live our lives despite these obstacles. We can learn from the Psalmist and move from complaining to celebrating.

As multifaceted beings, we need to evaluate many different aspects of our life. So ask yourself, ‘Where am I emotionally? Where am I relationally? Where am I spiritually? How about financially, physically, mentally, occupationally and even sexually? You get the idea. Life is nuanced and to truly enjoy your life you need to experience health across the board not just in one area. You can be succeeding in your career, but if your relationships are failing, or you’re experiencing significant physical health issues, you won’t experience a whole lot of joy in your life.

Let me give you a couple of examples from my own life. I make intentional space four times a year, using the school calendar to rhythm my review time (early new year; Easter, Mid-year and September school holidays). September has recently passed, and during my two-week annual leave, I spent some personal time reflecting and reviewing. As usual, I came away with much to consider. Often I can feel overwhelmed by how much growth remains but I always try and focus on working two or three areas. This September I’ve come away with three areas I have decided to make some adjustments.

Spiritual: My prayer life has been lacking. I have decided to go back to the old habit of ‘knees before feet’. Essentially if my knees hit the carpet first – I Pray. If my feet hit the carpet first, I work. Knees first mean I start each day in prayer.

Physical: My weight and overall fitness are the poorest its ever been. These holidays I struggled to play with my kids as much as I wanted to. I’ve not prioritised my health, and that needs to change. So I’m adjusting my diet, measuring my daily calorie intake and upping the exercise with the eventual goal to take up a sport again in 2019.

Mental: My leadership and general personal growth have stagnated. Leaders are readers. I’m not a great reader, but I typically read about 20 books a year. During the first half of 2018, I read five books. That’s too low if I genuinely want to grow as a leader. Since the middle of September, I’ve read five more books. In four weeks I doubled my reading by merely getting back to 30 minutes a day of reading.

So step one to living a life you enjoy – REVIEW! Stop and review where you are in light of where you want to be and and begin moving towards the future you want.

REFRESH – Living a life you enjoy!

God’s purpose also includes our joy. Yes, I believe God wants you to be happy! God’s glory and our joy are not dichotomous. Rather they go hand in hand. God’s glory does not contradict our joy. God’s glory is our joy because we were made by God, for God.

A number of years ago I hit a wall. My mind began to fracture and my body began to break down. I hit a critical point in my life that forced me to explore the way I was living. I won’t be going into specific contributing factors in my situation, rather I want to explore 6 principles that I have applied in my journey towards living a life I enjoy. I hope this series encourages you to consider how you are living your life and whether it is sustainable in producing long-term joy.

Let me explain the two big ideas behind this series.

1. God wants you to be happy!

I would fall into a Christian worldview category known as Christian hedonism. What the heck does that mean? Hedonism is the belief that pleasure, joy and satisfaction is the good and proper goal of human life. It’s the pursuit of pleasure. Christian hedonism, therefore, has a specific clarification of what it is that brings the human soul most pleasure. Let me unpack my understanding of God and joy.

It is my conviction that God created life. He did so with a purpose. One that is eternal and bigger than we could ever imagine or understand. This purpose includes, but is not limited to, his own glory. God’s purpose also includes our joy. Yes, I believe God wants you to be happy! God’s glory and our joy are not dichotomous. Rather they go hand in hand. God’s glory does not contradict our joy. God’s glory is our joy because we were made by God, for God. The human soul was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) in order to experience and relate with God. Additionally, the one who created us created us in such a way that our ultimate satisfaction would be him. While we may be immanent; we were made for the transcendent. While we may be created beings; we were made for the creator God. Likewise, in the words of John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him…Not only is God the supreme source of satisfaction for the human soul, but God himself is glorified by our being satisfied in him.” Therefore Christian hedonism is the conviction that God’s ultimate goal of his own glory and our deepest human desire for deep lasting joy are intrinsically linked. Some would go even so far as to say they are one and the same thing.

For some, this may come as a surprise to you, particularly if you are not a Christian. Maybe you always thought Christianity was all about denying oneself of joy, living a spiritually disciplined life and making sure you keep God happy. To consider God as one who cares about your joy might even be good news for you. It has been for me.

 

2. God knows what will make you happy!

Learning that God’s glory and our joy are not at odds is freeing. It can reshape our entire worldview and approach to how we live out our human experience. Again, this is true for me. In the Christian hedonist view, the Christian life should be one of a pursuit of joy, ultimate joy. We are free to pursue happiness. This is not only a good thing but even a God thing. He designed us this way, with these desires. The exhortation needed therefore is to ask ‘what will make us truly happy?’. This is where the Christian worldview would claim that not only does God want us to be happy, but he also knows what will make us happy. As the master craftsmen, God has designed us in such a way that ultimate joy can only be experienced in Him and living according to His good design. In addition to this, sin has distorted our desires to seek shallow, temporal and short-term joy that ultimately leaves us dissatisfied, unfulfilled only to seek more of the same.

 

God wants you to be happy and he knows how you can experience true joy. Over the next 6 posts, we will explore how we can live according to his good design and begin living a life we enjoy!

1. Review – Where am I?

2. Rethink – Who am I?

3. Re-calibrate – What really matters?

4. Reduce – What’s really necessary?

5. Rest – Who’s am I?

6. Refuel – What energises me?

Tag along and let me know your thoughts as you go!

Stand Firm! What I Learnt From Acts29 2018 Australia and New Zealand Conference

Therefore we should live now as God’s kids fully convinced of his sovereign plan for our future. Yes, persecution will come. Yes, times will be difficult. And yes Jesus is our king and all the citizens of his kingdom win in the end.

Stand Firm! What I learnt from Acts 29 2018 Australia and New Zealand Conference.

The 2018 Conference was once again a huge encouragement to me, my wife and our church family. This year’s conference speakers included Ray and Jani Ortlund from the U.S, Mark Sayers from Red Church in Melbourne, Adam Ramsey from Liberti Church on the Gold Coast and we also had the privilege of Austin Stone Worship. It was challenging, encouraging, inspiring and as always God-glorifying.

Here’s what I learnt.

1. Standing Firm Requires a Long-Term View

Pastor Adam Ramsey finished the conference with an impressionable send-off, exhorting us from 2 Timothy 4 to remember that we know how the story ends. Paul is at the end of his ministry and his life. Yet he fears nothing. In fact because of his absolute confidence in God’s promises he is able to say,

18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 2 Tim 4:18

Pastor Adam used Paul’s end to encourage us to live not only for that end but from it. This was not only how Paul finished but how he lived. In faith knowing that the story has already been written and no amount of opposition could thwart God’s promise to bring him safely into his eternal kingdom.

Therefore we should live now as God’s kids fully convinced of his sovereign plan for our future. Yes, persecution will come. Yes, times will be difficult. And yes Jesus is our king and all the citizens of his kingdom win in the end.

2. Standing Firm Requires Us To Expect the Cost and Remember The Reward.

Preaching from 2 Timothy 4:1-8 Ray Ortlund not only reminded us to be prepared for a big cost in following Jesus but also that the reward is worth it. Paul charged Timothy to endure suffering, reminding Timothy that he also had been “poured out as a drink offering”. Serving Jesus can be tough. There is a cost to be counted. Yet at the same time, as with anything meaningful and worthwhile, the reward is greater than the cost. Therefore we must not only count the cost we must remember the promise. What is the promise? That Jesus has for us a “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:8

Ray simply reminded us of how great a reward this is. He used it, as Paul did to Timothy, to encourage us forward in the mission of God in order that we could also say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. It’s not just the counting the cost that helps us move forward, it’s remembering the rewards.

3. Standing Firm Requires Us To Understand The Space In Which We Live.

Mark Sayers is a pastor and cultural missiologist, meaning he is essentially a specialist who studies and is trained in the science of missions and cultural engagement. Mark is a gift to the church and he blessed us greatly by helping us to understand the context in which we currently live. The more we understand the history of the western culture, the better equipped we will be to bring the gospel to bear on our current culture and consider more effective means with regard to equipping the church for the future culture.

4. Standing Firm Requires Prioritising And Working on Your Marriage/Family

As a husband and Father, I was very encouraged by Ray and Jani Ortlund. There is simply something motivating in seeing a couple in their 60’s deeply in love and experiencing genuine friendship. For me, it was a huge motivator to see what is possible in my marriage and family. Yet they made it clear it takes consistent work. It’s a never-ending commitment to love and serve our spouse and children and to trust God in his good design. I left identifying areas I need to continue to work on in order to love and serve my wife better. Yet I also left with a great hope of what could be in another 30 years. I am more motivated than ever to get to the end and not only run the race of faith, but also the race of life with my wife and kids.

Thank you Ortlunds for your faithful and encouraging example.

5. Standing Firm Requires Community

This year Life Centre Church had a team of 33 people attend the conference. Without a doubt, this is my favourite part of conference every year. I get to do this journey with a bunch of incredible people that are humble, faithful, generous and genuine friends. I love seeing so many of our team pray for each other, eat and drink together, worship together and simply enjoy God and his people. I walk away every year shaking my head at the thought that I am leading a church with such amazing people. I don’t feel worthy. I don’t feel capable. I just feel blessed.

Thank you, LCC. You encourage me more than you know.

5C’s To The Best Marriage Ever – #5 Community

God’s desire is for you to enjoy your marriage not endure it. He wants your marriage to excel. It is designed for his glory and your joy. While it may take work, it can be joyful work and fruitful work. One of the great keys to a joyful marriage is having a joyful community. People you love and enjoy that edify both you and your spouse. Find this community. Do all you can to plug into it and benefit from it. It’ll do your marriage the world of good. 

“You are who you hang with,” said my Dad after drilling my brother and me for about 30 minutes with regard to smoking marijuana. A number of our friends had been caught smoking weed and word had spread that my brother had also participated in these extracurricular activities. While Dad believed us and had our backs he also had our future. My Dad in his wisdom laid out some strong encouragement about the importance of community in your life. Good community. What I learnt from one late night grilling would not only shape my immediate life but also my future marriage.

The Power of Community

While my brother and I were not smoking with our friends my father could see that our friendships were shaping us, and not in a good way. Dad didn’t discipline us for something we didn’t do. But he did warn us to be wise in who we decided to build friendships with. Communities shape us. The family, the society and culture we grow up in shapes us immensely. It is supposed to. We are relational beings that are shaped by those relationships, for good or for worse. We become who we hang around. The same is true for your marriage. While marriage is great, it’s not easy. It takes work. Yet that work is made easier when you share life with others that shape who you are as a person and your marriage for good. If you are going to have a great marriage it is imperative you have a great community.

Community is stronger than the individual. Don’t fight the crowd, pick the right crowd.

2.The Purpose of Community

Friends are supposed to add value to your life. Do you have friends like this? People that encourage you, believe in you, speak into your life and when times get tough they help you? You need a community that grows who you are simply by being in relationship to them. Over the past few years, I’ve had numerous friends support and help me, my marriage and my family. I am indebted to friends that have stood by us and encouraged us through the hard times. The community around us has literally helped bear burdens that were at times too difficult to lift on our own.

 

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6:1-2

You need people in your life that are willing to tell you what you need to hear not just what you want to hear. Friends that won’t let you whinge and complain during tough times. Friends that will call you out when you’re lying to yourself. Friends that will encourage you to not quit on your marriage when times get tough. Rather they lift you up, strengthen you and then send you back to your spouse infused with new life. True friends speak the truth, but they do it in love.

 

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Prov. 27:6

3.The Presence of Community

Because community has so much power you have to intentionally build the right community into your life. This can be friends. This can be extended family. This can be a church. But you are responsible to invest in those relationships in order for them to be present. I have seen multiple families move interstate due to a job relocation or career opportunity. The difference between one family and another settling and succeeding in their new environment is often down to how quickly they are able to build a new community around them.

As a married couple, you have to determine together who your community will be. What people will you hang around and build into your life that will influence your marriage for good? I encourage you to consider mingling with people that are further along the road than you. Whether that’s in age, maturity, experience, or simply a quality of life. Find people that are where you want to be in your near future and invest in those relationships. Ask older married couples if you can eat regularly with their family. And offer to bring dinner. Ask married couples that you look up to if you can take them out for dinner. Do whatever you can to get in and around the good soil. And let whatever it is they have, rub off on your marriage. Don’t wait for someone to offer to speak into your life and marriage, go get it. It’s out there.

4.The Pleasure of Community

Invest in relationships that you enjoy. Due to the power of community, it is important to build with people that you actually like. The simple reality is that if you don’t like the people you hang with you won’t learn from them and you’ll probably isolate yourself eventually from them. God has designed life in such a way that we would experience the joy of true friendship and community. Therefore as individuals, you need friends you enjoy. That one friend that you can go to the movies with or out for a coffee and just feel refreshed and uplifted. You need people that just fill your emotional tank up. You want that friend that your spouse enjoys you going out with because they see the positive impact they have on you. You also want friends you enjoy as a couple. A small community you both enjoy being around. People that make you laugh, don’t take life to serious and genuinely lift your spirits.

My wife and I have some friends that we see once or twice a year. Every time we catch up as families we are uplifted by the simplicity of the friendship and the genuine joy of just being together as friends. We live in different parts of our city. Have kids in different life stages. Attend different churches. Yet when my wife and I get together with them for a meal and a few drinks our souls experience life-giving friendship. You just can’t beat having this in your life. Don’t let life get too busy that you can’t make time for community. It is essential to the health of your marriage.

God’s desire is for you to enjoy your marriage not endure it. He wants your marriage to excel. It is designed for his glory and your joy. While it may take work, it can be joyful work and fruitful work. One of the great keys to a joyful marriage is having a joyful community. People you love and enjoy that edify both you and your spouse. Find this community. Do all you can to plug into it and benefit from it. It’ll do your marriage the world of good.

With all this said, go build the best marriage ever!!!

5 C’s To The Best Marriage Ever – #4 Companionship

The deep desire of the human soul is intimacy “in-to-me-see”. We want to be fully known, yet fully loved. To be seen inside with all our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our fractures, yet still loved. It is what we long for. It is what we fear we will never have. So how do we cultivate it?

Happy Valentines Day Lovers!!!

 

Regardless of your view of marriage what is undeniably clear is that the human soul longs for companionship. Everyone wants to love and be loved. And this is exactly how God made us. The Biblical narrative opens with God as the great creator king. Whether the 7 days of the account are literal 24-hour periods or something more analogical (I prefer the latter personally) is debatable. What is clear however is that the entirety of God’s creation is intricately designed with a specific purpose and according to the narrative, in joyful approval as each day God declared his creation to be “good”. The only time this is not deemed the case is when the man is without a companion.

“18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Gen. 2:18

A man without woman would not enable humanity to image God well as previously designed (Gen. 1:26). As culturally insensitive as it may be, in the Christian worldview, men and women are different. We are designed to be different. The distinction between a man and woman is a good thing because through our unique differences we are able to get a greater glimpse of the God in which we image. Additionally it would not allow the man to experience what it meant to be fully human. God designed the human soul to express and experience love. Therefore God made Adam a ‘helper’, a companion named Eve. With an irresistible cocktail of chemicals of adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, Adam rejoiced in song upon seeing Eve. And thus the origins of human companionship are deemed by God to not only be good but to be “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Not only is God pleased but likewise the two companions enjoy the beauty of being both naked and without shame.

 

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Gen. 2:24

 

This is a picture true intimacy of two souls, bound together physically, emotionally and spiritually. Another way to think of it is that they were ‘fully known, yet fully loved’. The deep desire of the human soul is intimacy “in-to-me-see”. We want to be fully known, yet fully loved. To be seen inside with all our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our fractures, yet still loved. It is what we long for. It is what we fear we will never have. So how do we cultivate it?

 

1. Be Vulnerable and Be Trustworthy

You will never be fully loved if you’re never fully known. This is a big risk. To let someone all the way in where they see it all. God designed marriage to be the place where this level of vulnerability is possible. You can’t, nor should you be vulnerable with everyone. But you can and should be with your spouse. In fact, this is most likely why you married in the first place. Not only did you find your spouse physically attractive, you most likely found them to be someone you could be vulnerable with. Vulnerability requires trust, but trust can only be ascertained through initial vulnerability. A relationship essentially continues to develop as we open up and share and then see what the other does with it. As trust grows so does the vulnerability and vice versa.

 

2. Make Time

When couples begin dating all they want to do is be together. Young couples can be so enamoured with each other that they end up excluding all their friends and isolating themselves from the pack. It’s foolish and can have long-term implications. However, couples are often tempted to go in the other direction once married. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN!!! Find what works for your relationship but make time to be alone, together. Time to talk. Time to enjoy each other’s company and time to be vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to take up large amounts of time. It doesn’t have to tick all the boxes every time. It just needs to happen, and happen regularly and be effective. So make it happen.

“If there were more courting in marriage there would be fewer marriages in court”

If you have kids, don’t allow yourself to use them as an excuse. In fact, the quality of your marriage dictates the quality of your family. So do it for them. I’m yet to hear the young person who complains their parents love each other too much. Find a way. Swap babysitting duties with other couples. They babysit your kids one week and you sit their kids the following. Find a way to make time to look at each other, talk and listen.

Two great questions – How are you doing? How am I doing for you?

 

3. Read and Grow

This may sound odd but hear me out. I have been married 15 years. That’s 5475 days my wife and I have been together. How much do you think we don’t know about each other? How easy would it be to become bored with each other? In order to grow in our relationship, we need to grow as individuals. Every time my wife learns and grows as a woman, the more I see it and it intrigues me. It makes me lean in again because I realise I don’t fully know her. There is something new. There is something more. In my opinion, this is one of the great secrets to marriage. Countless times I have heard couples excuse away not executing the previous point because they simply don’t know what to talk about anymore. They’ve talked every day for the past 5475 days and there’s simply nothing new under the sun. This is a real problem for many couples but it is an uncomplicated problem. Learn. Grow. Read.

Learn about health. Learn about nature. Learn about history. Learn about God. Just get learning so that you keep growing and continue to be interesting to one another.

 

4. Sex

Two bodies merging together does not equate to true intimacy. But it is a significant aspect of it. I talk about sex in pre-marital as both a thermometer and thermostat. As a thermometer sex can give a gauge of the temperature of our marriage. It’s one of many indicators of marital health. Men, please read that last sentence again. As a thermostat sex regulates the temperature. It unites us chemically, physically and spiritually. Ladies, please read that last sentence again. Now there is no absolute prescription with regard to quality and quantity, therefore, each couple being must work this out in a way that meets both their needs.

 

5. Serve and Be Available

Do things that the other person enjoys or needs. My wife hates washing up. So guess what my job is? I love basketball. So guess what my wife pretends to enjoy hearing about? What cultivates companionship is showing interest in the other person. To show interest you have to be available. Stop scrolling through Instagram, put the phone down and give your attention. Value what the other person values. If it’s a clean bench, then help keep the bench clean. If it’s camping, then camp. If it’s romantic comedies, watch it with her. If its time with the boys, help make it happen for him. Whatever your jam, make it your priority to keep each other’s love and value tanks full. Work together, be available for each other and continue to serve each other. Do it, repeat it and don’t stop. It’s really difficult to fall out of love with each other when you continue to cultivate a life of love.

 

Happy Valentines Day!!!