4 Ways To Keep The Love Burning

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We had a “family” dinner yesterday where I was surrounded by my kids… as well as the “new” kids that were added to that table because of our own. I looked at my wife of twenty-five plus years and couldn’t believe I had been given so much… all because one day years ago I thought a girl I saw was HOT and I just had to meet her!

Having the privilege of performing weddings throughout the year I get the opportunity to meet a lot of different couples. Couples with different histories, different outlooks on life, different aspirations and dreams for the future.

But they all come to me to get married stemming from one reason… they are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. It doesn’t matter how similar or different their pasts are, what stays the same is each couple wants to continue on… together.

I’ve also found out something else over the years. It comes from counselling many couples who are already married as well as my own life experience: “being” in love and “staying” in love are two different things and therefore need to be fuelled differently.

Did you know that gasoline isn’t explosive? (I know, you’re thinking, “where did THIS come from?!?!”) The gas you pour into your car isn’t explosive. The liquid doesn’t catch on fire. It’s the vapours from the gasoline that are HIGHLY explosive. It’s literally the “gas” from the “gas” that keeps us going.

In my experience, I’ve come to see and recommend that the best way to keep the fire of love burning is to  focus on these four things:

  1. Keep gas in the tank. The last thing you want to do is run out of gas on the road. You’re stuck there until you get help. Same for the marriage. You run out of gas, you’re in TROUBLE!! Make sure to keep filling up the tank (find out what makes the other person tick and keep filling it up).
  2. Keep feeding the engine (relationship) with more gas. It’s no use to have gas in the “tank” and not use it. Don’t settle on “coasting” in order to save gas. No. That gas got you to where you are… don’t hold back because you’re lazy or “sick of driving”. You committed to life… keep going.
  3. Keep the “spark” going. No use putting gas into an engine with no spark. You’ll “flood” the engine (remember… “liquid” gas isn’t flammable). By keeping the gas flowing where the “vapours” can catch the spark… that’s where the BOOM is!!!!!
  4. Go in for routine maintenance. Just like with cars, you cannot just drive it into the ground (well, you can in a marriage… it’s called a divorce or an empty marriage). Get a “tune up”… find out what’s wrong with the relationship and make the fixes necessary to get it back into great shape. Yes… it may “cost” you something (pride, money, time, etc…), but in the end, remember, you signed up to go on this journey for LIFE… and so as “life” changes, you’ll have to make the changes necessary to keep the gas coming, the spark igniting, and the love going on for the road ahead.

Tell me your thoughts.

At least this is how I see it,

 

C

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Hurt vs. Harm

There’s a story I was once told of a young boy who was nervous before going in for surgery. When the surgeon came in to the operating room the frightened boy asked, “Doctor… is this gonna hurt?”

The doctor replied, “Son, I’m sorry but I am gonna hurt you. But I promise, I’m not gonna harm you.

We all hate pain (except for those crazy guys at the gym… I stay clear of them). Pain is supposed to be hated because it’s the way our bodies tell us something is wrong and that we need to do something about it.

Pain does hurt… but it doesn’t have to harm.

Unfortunately though sometimes harm comes from our own bidding. Sometimes the pain, which was intended to initiate a change or reaction, now becomes harmful because nothing was done about it.

Let me illustrate what I mean…

I cooked bacon tonight for a meal I was preparing. I knew the cooking surface would be hot when I touched it to move it. As predicted, it inflicted a certain amount of pain and my brain was notified about the issue. My hand instinctively pulled back! I then proceeded to ‘manage’ the pain as I made small ‘touches’ until the cooking surface was moved (also because I was too stubborn to take 5 seconds and get a tea towel or somethingyet I digress).

Had I either ignored the initial feeling of pain, or chose to ignore the burning sensation (and possible smell if I went on FAR too long) I would now be dealing with something that did not only ‘hurt’ me for a moment, but quite possibly would now ‘harm’ me for an extended period of time.

When painful experiences come (and they will), we have to learn how to ‘manage’ that hurt. Perhaps it will be managed by ‘letting go’. Perhaps it will be managed in ‘doses’… with rest breaks in between. Perhaps, like the bacon incident, sometimes it’s just best to wait until ‘things cool down’ before reacting.

Regardless, we will have many moments of pain in our lives. Pain IS inevitable. But how we respond to that pain, that is something that we can have some control over.

My prayer is that in my life and yours, our moments of pain will hurt us only enough to consider other better choices; without dealing with the possible unnecessary recovery process of having been ‘harmed’ due to doing nothing at all.

Do you agree? Disagree? Tell me your thoughts.

At least this is how I see it,

C

Wanna Rainbow? Let It Rain!

No matter how many times we see them, we are still mesmerized by these meteorological phenomena!

You know what I mean? Those “check out the rainbow” moments while driving or looking out the window. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see a coveted “double rainbow” like two enveloping tortilla chips in the bowl at a Chili’s restaurant!

But it’s a simple explanation as to where rainbows come from. As long as you’re in between the light source (sun) and the water droplets (rain), you’re bound to check out Nature’s brushstroke of beauty.

Here’s the problem… sometimes we want the rainbow… but without the rain. We want to see the beauty, without knowing that it comes at the cost of drenching and soaking something else.

In life, sometimes you are surrounded by nothing better than sogginess and your dreams and aspirations getting waterlogged. In those moments, you simply need to take a step back and get between the ‘light’ and the rain. When you do that properly, you’ll start to see the beauty in the flood; the splendour found in the backdrop of the mist.

Has that happened to you? Have you ever seen where it took an unexpected ‘shower’ to reveal something greater and more rewarding in your life? Let me know your thoughts on this.

At least that’s how I see it,

C

Running Out or Running Up

I don’t like to run. Plain and simple.

But at the same time I feel as though I run a lot.

As a leader we run. We run ahead to see what is coming. We run back to lead the people we are entrusted with. We run ahead to see what challenges we may be facing. We run back to help equip the people to be ready for the challenges.

We run a lot.

But we don’t seem to stay in one place at a time. When we are running ahead, we are not with the people we care about. When we run back, we don’t know what may have changed.

I was talking to someone recently about this and we used the analogy of a forest. What do people see? The “trees”? The “forest”? My comment was that as leaders, we tend to  run outside of the forest to see what’s ahead and then come back.

190109 forest

Then it hit me.

Why am I running “out” of the forest? Why don’t leaders run “up” trees instead?

Perhaps a better approach for leaders is to simply stay with the crowd but instead of running “ahead” to see what’s going on, run vertically “up” to get a view of what is happening “above” the forest and get a sense of what is to come.

There is more to this analogy but I’ll leave it at this for starters.

Tell me what you think? Do leaders run “too” far ahead sometimes? Do they get lost coming back? Do they forget what they saw?

 

C

 

Relationships > Problems

relationships bigger than problems

I look back on my life… and I’ve had some really great relationships with certain people. Had some really bad ones too. I’m not alone. We all can relate.

But sometimes, life happens, and problems arise. Some problems strengthen relationships. Some problems sever them.

This last week I read a book called Rare Leadership, and though there are a number of other things I could comment on about the insights on the book, I felt today that I should simply shed a little light and encouragement on this one little nugget.

Sometimes in life we put too much priority on the “problem” instead of the “person”. Sometimes the issue you may be facing may become the issue that fractures the relationship. Sometimes too much stake in placed on the situation than the association… and some really great bonds can ultimately break.

Take Acts 15 for instance. Paul is having a great time with his buddy Barnabas and then within only three verses they are heading in two totally separate directions angry with one another.

Problem is… sometimes we can do it in less than three verses. That’s how quickly something great can turn into something horrible; simply from making the “problem” more important than the “relationship”.

I believe we need to aim to always make the relationship greater than the problem. Don’t allow the “problem” you face define the “person” you are dealing with.

In the end, it will not be the problems you solved that will define you, but the circle of people who you have influenced, loved, served, and grown with. Your cheering section will not be filled with your accolades… it will be filled with your associations.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

The Valley Of Praise

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I can’t believe I’m writing this. I have too much to do. Two days away at a conference. Twenty-four hours of worship about to start tomorrow. Get ready for my message on Sunday (without googling one). Oh ya… be a pastor as well. Now this blog too?

But what I happened to read in my devotions today compelled me to write this in light of what we are about to launch into tomorrow with our Day and Night of Worship event.

It’s a message I should really be taking time to unpack and share as a sermon, but I can’t hold it back. The text is 2Chronicles 20. The king of Judah (Jehoshaphat) is about to have a ‘vast army’ come to engage with him. Alarmed, he goes to God. Actually, verse four says the whole nation of Judah sought God.

One of the Levites (tribe of priests) says is verse 15 that “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (that in itself is another message). That’s not the good part that jumped out at me. Read this…

“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever.’

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (vv. 21-22 NIV)

Here’s the thing: “Praise precedes promotion.” The victory came because they recognized that regardless of what things ‘looked’ like, it was God’s battle to win, thus their reason to praise Him.

Even more, the place where all the dead laid lying after the victory was called the “Valley of Beracah – the ‘Valley of Praise’.”

Oh man, I’m excited!!!! It does not matter what may be facing you in that valley right now… the movement against you may seem like a ‘vast army’… but it’s not YOUR battle… it’s HIS! And your role? You are called to praise… praise Him for His splendour, His holiness, His love that endures forever!

Tomorrow we are no different than King Jehoshaphat. We recognize that in order to move forward in victory, we will praise the One who has defeated the enemy, and will continue to do so.

In the valley we face, we will witness His praise!!!!

At least that’s how I see it,

 

 

C

Where True Freedom Is Found

true-freedom1I was going through marginal notes / verses that I had underlined in the book of Exodus yesterday and something really interesting popped out at me.

Exodus is about the Israelites leaving Egypt and heading to the Promised Land. It’s about a journey. From bondage… to freedom. Burning bush. Plagues. Ten Commandments. Golden Calf. Stuff like that. Not a seamless line but a trek full of rebellion, remorse, and restoration. Kind of like our lives.

But what jumped out at me was how it ends. You would think, as a writer, that you would want to bring some sort of ‘closure’ to the purpose of the book. The journey should end with the arrival at the destination. Wouldn’t that make sense?

But it doesn’t happen that way. The last chapter starts wth the assembly of the tabernacle and tent of meeting that the Israelites were to use to meet and present their sacrifices to God.

But then God shows up. “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35 NIV).

Maybe, just maybe… this ‘is’ the destination for the book of Exodus. For we all set out on a journey from brokenness to healing. We all yearn to be rescued from who we ‘are’ to who we know we ‘can be’. From bondage, to freedom.

And it is here that we see where freedom may be found… in His Presence. We come expecting. He comes filling.

2Corinthians 3:17 says “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Freedom from our past. Freedom from the junk we’ve faced this past week. Freedom from what is stopping us from moving forward in His plan for our lives.

So today, as we roll out of beds all over the place and head to church, be reminded that being in His Presence is the chief end of the pursuit. That as we come together, we leave all that is holding us back and are led to experience the freedom of being found in His Presence.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

Fudgee-O’s and the Confessions of A Sugaholic!

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When I got up on the platform on Sunday morning I never really dreamed that I would be THAT honest about how vulnerable I was to temptation! If you didn’t get a chance to hear the message, you can watch it here.

So while we’re being honest, let’s at least admit that we ALL have problems with “Fudgee-O’s”… it’s simply that your version of temptation may be different than mine. For you it may be pornography, or alcohol, or gambling, or a host of other things.

But we all seem to show up to indulge in these temptations in the same place… the ‘dark playground’; that place that you go to ‘play’ where you know you shouldn’t be, but you still try to get as much fun out of your time there.

The sad reality, and unfortunately I speak from experience, is that the ‘dark playground’ is never really that fun of a place to be in the first place. Yes, for a moment you may get a rush from playing with your ‘toxic toys’, eating all those cookies, downing all that alcohol… but you know that lurking in the shadows are other people, just like you, hoarding their toys trying not to be noticed.

It’s not a fun playground to play in at all. For the whole time you are ‘in’ the playground, there is a part of you crying out, pleading with you to leave your toys on the ground and get out!

I shared James 4:7 on Sunday which says to “stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you.” (NCV). Reading on in verse 8 it shows us how to exactly do that… “Come near to God, and God will come near to you… you who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure.”

Really? All the times I’ve heard people repeat that verse to “come near to God and God will come near to you” is about Him helping me stay out of the ‘dark playground’?!?! Wow!!!! What a revelation! All I have to do is simply choose to start walking towards God instead of the dark playground… and HE will come near to me; perhaps even as fast as the Father looking for the prodigal son!

So… what do we now do with this awesome news?!? There is an answer to the dark playground… and that is the Light of the Father. I know, it seems so simple… and I also know that the playground will keep on calling and telling you that ‘this’ time it will be SO much better than the other times… ALL the cookies will taste as good as the first! But let’s be honest, we all know that is a lie. The pleasure is NEVER worth the pain.

So I’ll walk past those Fudgee-O’s today. Any encounter those cookies have with me never ends well. Instead I’ll choose to come closer to God knowing that He will come closer to me. Because as you and I both know, the longer you stay away from the dark playground, the more you wonder why you ever chose to go play there in the first place.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

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