Focus & Peace

Sunset at Seal Beach in Huntington Beach, California

Sunset at Seal Beach in Huntington Beach, California – Photo taken by https://reachonedesigns.wordpress.com/

Focus & Peace

I want to share something that has been on my heart lately. We will start in John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.”

My pastor just used a quote that I have read many different versions of but this one sticks for me, “If it costs you your peace, then it’s too expensive”. I believe that true peace is a gift from God paid for by the Blood of Jesus.

Webster defines peace as “a state of tranquility or quiet” and for most, this is not where they find themselves this moment. I can tell you this, without focus it’s impossible to keep your peace and nothing in life is worth our peace.

Much of the time, Christians think that life is going to be all rainbows and roses, but God never promised us that. He did, however, promise that when struggles in life come, and they will, He will always be there with us in the midst of the storm. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” His only begotten son, Jesus, became our out!

Here is the perfect scripture to ground us in the fact that our peace comes through our focus. Isaiah 26:3 NLT ” You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” I must keep my thoughts focused on Him, NOT because I have to BUT because I GET to! I use this statement often, “In Him is the answer to every question, the solution to every problem, and the peace in every storm”.

So, what’s your level of peace this very moment? If there is an absence of peace, then I would venture to say that there is also a lack of focus. Make the decision to redirect your focus to Jesus and watch how your peace seems to find its place back in your life. Remember, worry and peace can’t dwell together just as light and darkness can’t.

So here are some ways that you can bring your focus back in line and regain your peace.

1. Laugh more – Laughter has been proven to be a powerful tool in relieving stress and worry which are focus thieves.
2. Take time to check out – Find time in your day to just zone out and not think about anything. Our new smartwatches have a breathing app and I have found that just taking a one or two-minute breathing break does help greatly.
3. Control your media intake – Watch what you allow into your life. This could be from social media, TV, radio and YES, friends and family.
4. Exercise – YES, this requires you to move in some way, shape, or form! Move, stretch, run, walk, do something to get the blood pumping.
5. Journal – I have found journaling has all positive attributes and no negatives unless you’re just lazy! To me, journaling is just thinking on paper and writing about whatever comes to mind and a certain moment in time.

These are just a few; this list could go on and on and that’s what I would like it to do in the comments below =) Let’s hear your thoughts and ideas. GO….

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“Growing Pains” in your marriage =)

 

 

My wife, Debbie, and I just attended a really great marriage conference hosted by Kirk Cameron, and with special music by Warren Barfield. (You can CLICK HERE and find out more about this conference and upcoming events.) It was a really great date night for us and I wanted to share with the guys out there, what I walked away with from this event.

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Before the main conference started, we had the opportunity to go to a VIP time where Kirk spoke to a small group of us and then did an autograph session afterwards. It was really cool to meet him!

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As I looked around at all of the couples in the room, I wondered what their relationships were like. Now as for me, I’m married to my best friend. We did not spend our childhood growing up together, but when we met, something just clicked. I would say that, YES, it was love at first sight, at least for me =) But let me add, that the road to where we are 23 years later from that first date, has not always been an easy one. I have told on myself many times in my writings and probably will have many more times to do that, but that is not the point of this post. Our journey, although one filled with lots of good, bad and sometimes ugly encounters, always seems to just get stronger and stronger, in our love for one another.

One of the highlights of the night, was when Warren Barfield sang “Love is not a Fight”. I know most of you have probably heard this song, but if you have not, I would recommend CLICKING HERE to go listen to it; truly listen to the words! I know that all couples are at different places and have traveled different journeys, but I believe that Warren’s song says it all, “Love is worth fighting for”!!

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Kirk spoke a simple to follow and easy to understand message all based on one scripture. He used 1 Peter 3:7 (NKJ) “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Now I’m sure if you compared notes with my wife and others there that night, we all had a different take on what he was saying, but I’m going to share in this post what I walked away with.

Here are 6 points based on this scripture:

  1. Dwell with them” – Spend time with her, invest time getting to know the uniqueness of the person she is. Our investment into our spouse, is important and will strengthen and grow our relationship.
  2. Understanding” – To understand anything in life we have to grow in the knowledge of it. We should know her, her likes and dislikes, favorite color and so on. Feeling understood is important to almost everyone and so who best should understand your wife, than you?
  3. Honor” – We as guys, need to move beyond respect and actually honor our wives. We honor her by how we treat her, both in private and public. Both when we are with her and when we are apart. We should NEVER make her the punch line of our jokes and she should never be seen by others as being less than the most important person or thing in our life, second only to God. She is NOT your sister, so remember that in how you treat her. Kirk mentioned that we should inventory all that she does. Start making a written list of all that she does around the house, what she does for you and the children and what she does for others and when that list is finished, you should make sure she knows that she is 100% appreciated.
  4. Weaker vessel” – Now never think for a moment, that this means that this weakness dictates your right to control her! You’re called by God to be a leader and not a dictator; she can’t follow someone who is not leading her somewhere! I see it as a reference to the fragileness as that of the finest china or other precious item. We should have our wives backs and never allow anyone to make her feel like she has been backed into a corner. I myself have failed at this one and when I think back to those times, I cringe! We should ensure that she feels safe and bring peace to the situations of life. This is one place that my heart was convicted strongly of at the conference. There have been times that we have been driving and Debbie has gotten scared over something I or another driver might have done and instead of comforting and making her feel secure, I responded negatively and got offended.
  5. Grace of life” – Our love for our wives should be just as God’s love is for us. It should be FREE and not based on what she says and does, but solely on what I know I’m supposed to do and be. Grace defined to me, is simply unmerited favor and kindness. So again, it’s FREE!
  6. Prayers not be hindered” – Now I don’t believe God turns His back on His kiddos, but I do believe that we can close the door on our blessings. Our love walk is key to the success of all that we put our hands to do. Marriage, business, all areas; so with that said, I believe that if we are not walking in love, then everything is pretty much going to be out of whack and spiraling downhill for us.

These 6 areas I believe are key to having a healthy and blessed marriage and making your wife feel like the queen she is. Always remember that she was God’s daughter before she was your wife! I see God’s grace in this, because if someone hurts my daughter, then they might get to see a side of me that might be very surprising and if God created all things by His words, then I’m sure He could relocate things by His words. Just saying! =)

We need to take responsibility as the God ordained leaders we have been called and created to be. We need to take responsibility for our actions and today, make right the wrongs and ask forgiveness for any areas we have fallen short in.

Make consistency the new normal in these areas and watch your marriage become the one God wants you to have.

Two in, Two out

Welcome to another episode in the KINGDOM RELATIONSHIP series. If this is your first time to read on this series, I will post links below for you to catch up. So buckle-up and away we go!
And Two Shall Become One…
All Or Nothing!

It does not take long for a person to realize that life seems to come with its fair share of opportunities. These may be good, bad, or really, really ugly, but no matter what it is that life brings us, we as husband and wife should never be in the mix of it alone.

We could use the fire fighter thought process that says, “We never enter into the fire alone”; or I also like the military term, “battle buddy”. Whichever thought process you want to take, they both dictate that two are better than one and this holds true in marriage. Far too often, people walk through the fires of life alone or slay the dragon of the day with no one having their backs.

I myself have been blessed with an amazing wife, one who has stuck by my side through this adventure we call life. Debbie and I have fought some enormous fires, slayed some vicious dragons, and walked away with some battle wounds, BUT we have also grown closer together during those times. We meant it when we said, “for better or for worse”. In fact, in the first post in this series, I dedicated it to my amazing wife, because without her I would not be the man I am today! THANKS Mi Amor!

Too often, a spouse becomes a casualty in the battles of life, because day after day they are in the trenches with no support. This is what happens when we stop focusing on what is truly important or should I say the one who is the most important, which is God first and then our spouse. Nothing should be placed before your spouse other than God, NOTHING!

Our greatest example of true love is in John 3:16 “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” You see, Kingdom love does not have a limit or reservation in how much is to be given. Christ gave it all at the cross and daily we are to do the same. We should end each day knowing we gave ALL we could, love without reservation, especially in our relationship with first God, then our spouse, kiddos, then family and friends. I think you get the picture I am painting here.

Kingdom love is not something that should have to be earned and it can never be purchased. It also cannot be ruled with a dictator mindset. Guys, I know the Word says that we are to be the head, BUT that place of great honor cannot be forced, it must be revealed through your daily walk with God and your expressions and attitude of love that is shown.

I’m going to end with this for now. A failed relationship means that God was not put first. When God is first in our lives, then I believe that everything else will fall into place. One of the ways we put Him first, is by seeking Him daily in the Word and through this we get revelation and insight on how to be the spouse He has called us to be. Marriage is a “God ordained covenant” between a man and a woman. It was never meant that we marry someone and not walk hand in hand, and side by side through the journey of life.

Question: What has your journey in life revealed to you about your marriage?

And Two Shall Become One…

After reading comments from the pictures and posts I put on Facebook from my Anniversary Date Day on May 1st, I was led in my heart to start this series. This is Part 1 to the “Kingdom Relationship” series.

Notice: I am not a professional marriage counselor, nor a perfect husband. My wife has put up with a lot and given more grace than anyone should have to. I write this series from my heart and under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, my hope is that this message will in some way minister to others and bring those relationships to a whole new level – one I call a Kingdom Relationship.

“And the two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (‭Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭8‬ AMP)‬‬‬‬‬‬

I had mentioned in my last blog post that I would be starting a series on Kingdom Relationships. I am not doing this because I have all the answers or think I’m the perfect husband. I am just a man who was blessed over 23 years ago with the most amazing woman ever to grace this planet. I’m pretty sure I could write a book on what NOT to do in a marriage. “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me” are words I have spoken way too many times and my wife has always forgiven me and loved me no matter what! We live life forward nowadays, not looking back; and you must do the same. She has truly stuck by my side through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Debbie Spanberger, AKA Angel, I dedicate this series to you and want to say thank you for making me the most happy and blessed man on the planet!

Back to my opening title and scripture. One of the reasons I feel relationships fail, has to do with the fact that many never fully see themselves as “one together”. The word “commitment” is almost a dirty word nowadays, and one that society has perverted in so many ways. We want to be on our own and live like we are on our own, even in our marriages. Separate lives, separate dreams, separate bank accounts and the list keeps going. I’m not asking for you to agree or disagree, I’m simply speaking from what I see and hear around me on a regular basis. Marriage failure rates seem to grow daily. (I talk from experience, as I have gone through the divorce walk and I wish that on no one!)

“Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”
Zig Ziglar

Again, a Kingdom Relationship is not a perfect one. We are human and we are going to mess up. I hear couples say “we never fight” and I want to ask them, “Do you live in the same house and talk to each other?” As male and female, we are wired completely different. (We will get more into that thought later.) I think as males, we have a streak of stupid embedded in us because of some of the things we do and say…. just being real and honest here!

I read an article a few years ago in USA Today that was talking about a growing trend in people living together before marriage, to see if they fit into each other’s lives. They want to see if they like living with each other before they get married so that if they don’t like it, they won’t have to get divorced, just in case the relationship doesn’t work out. How sad of a concept and one that is totally against what the Bible calls marriage. Any level of relationship, especially marriage, is not a trial offer like a piece of software that you try to see if you like it first, but instead, it is a relationship that you enter into fully and committed to from the start.

Nothing I ever put in my posts is meant to be me passing judgment, but instead, to hopefully bring a Christian perspective to those that have ears to hear. I know my readers come from different backgrounds and beliefs, but I will always write and share according to what the Bible says and never add or take away from it. And from that I know that we all can grow and learn.

“Whatever your mindset is when you enter into a relationship, will reveal your staying power during hard times.”
Keith Spanberger

Marriage is clearly defined in Ephesians 5:22-33 (CLICK HEAR TO READ). No gray areas: one man, one woman, fully committed, forever, end of story! So what happened? The lack of commitment as I have said many times already, is the start, but not the full answer.

“Compromise and lack of commitment will destroy any relationship and leave us one day asking why.”
Keith Spanberger

Again, don’t think my wife and I have a perfect marriage, but instead, we have a marriage filled with God’s grace which is crucial for success in anything we do in life.

I have only scratched the surface in this post, but I hope that it stirs your hunger for creating a new fire in your marriage or relationship. Stay with me as we journey deeper in the next post on having a Kingdom Relationship. Also, please share this post with others you know. This blog post and this series are not about lifting me up, but instead, lifting up my God and His Son, Jesus, my savior. My life and marriage would be nothing without Him!

Kingdom Marriage

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This blog post and my Kingdom Thinking thoughts for the week will be based on Kingdom Marriage.

Now I am not writing this as a way of saying I know it all. I would say “ask my wife” but never mind that! But I could easily write a book on “How to insert foot in mouth” and also “101 Things You Do Not Say To The One You Love”. But I will say this, my wife, Debbie, is my best friend, my love and fantasy girl. She is my workout partner and the one I walk to work with each day; she is the one I share my deepest hurts with, craziest dreams and everything else you can imagine. She has seen me at my best and too many times at my worst and still gives me the honor of calling her, “my wife”. Thanks Angel!!!

Marriage by design is to be between one man & one woman. This blog post is not to despute something so clearly outlined in the Bible. But what I do hope comes from this week, is a great awakening in the best of marriages, because without success in relationships, nothing else can truly be in order.

In Ephesians 5, it reads the specific design that God laid out for men & women to follow for a Kingdom marriage. Let’s read it together starting in verse 20: “At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, Because we are members (parts) of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church. However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. (Ephesians 5:20-33 AMP)”

I wonder how many read this seeing the two way street of marriage and how many see the one way street of what he or she is to do for me.

I have always felt if we would focus on our spouse and their needs, then the needs of all would be met, even those of the children. We all have needs, but it’s not up to us to meet our needs, but instead those of our spouse. Truly we must be willing to go past our feelings, needs, or current circumstances to ensure our spouse always feels they are wanted, needed, desired and unconditionally loved forevermore.

I hear guys say all the time, “I am looking for that Proverbs 31 woman” but I feel we should see Proverbs 31 as a personal guide that we should all, male and female desire to fulfill.

And I will end on this note. Never let your age or length of time together ever let the flame of desire be blown out. Fuel that flame until your very last breath. Our Kingdom Marriages are setting the stage for others as to what a real marriage should honestly be!

Debbie and I would love to hear from you with your comments, questions, etc. So please feel free to leave them below.