Goals are Best Made Pliable

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Last week, I took a break from blog writing to write for some other purposes: seminary, church, books, and a tad more. It was a relief to be honest, a good breather. But it didn’t come without a challenge. You see, I have a goal for this year to write at least five pieces each week (a total of 260 for the year). The break meant the end of that goal … sorta.

If you remember my series in goal setting, I mentioned that our goals should be seen in light of God’s will. By this I meant that God has a purpose for your life that is expressed in His permissive will. He has things He wants you to do but will, for reasons of His own, allow you to do things that are not divinely desirable.

At the same time, God has a purpose for your life that is expressed in His providential will. This is the big picture. It entails the master plan that will not be altered by any choice you make. It is the plan that includes you, but takes in account all the other intricacies of creation. There is no stopping this plan.

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21 Christians the World Was Not Worthy Of

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We are people of the cross.

In light of the recent brutal massacre of 21 Christians, I’ve produced a number of graphics (both wallpapers and social media images) to help remind yourself and others about the real mission to proclaim the gospel and pray for those who are persecuted. The imagery depicts a background of sand, colored black as the executioners were dressed, and a bloody smear, colored orange as the martyrs were dressed.

Hebrews 11:38 describes persecuted Christians as those “whom the world was not worthy.” Indeed these 21 who lost their lives on the shores of Libya are numbered among them.

Christians, people of the cross, rise up and be identified. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44-45). Download and support your fellow Christ followers by getting the word out through social media, posters, and other mediums. Here are a few tools to get you started.

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Wednesday Wallpaper: Give What You Cannot Keep

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“One of the great blessings of Heaven is the appreciation of Heaven on earth,” says Jim Elliot.

Philip James “Jim” Elliot was one of five missionaries killed while evangelizing the Huaorani people of Ecuador. In his journal for October 28, 1949, he describes the work of missions as being more important than his mortal life, which he gave so eagerly. This wallpaper was requested by Nicole. Let it remind you that we take nothing into the next life except that which is eternal.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)

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How a Pastor Disciples His Children with the Libyan Massacre

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Islamic terrorists bound 21 Christians, marched them onto a beach and paired them with executioners, where they were shoved face-down into the sand with their heads peeled upward. Knees pressed in their backs held them. Knives pressed into their necks killed them. Seconds later, the oceanic waters turned blood red.

I’m not sure if it’s to my shame or not, but I don’t keep up with current events. I simply lack the time. So I usually hear them from my pastor, which is to my advantage. Not only do I hear the reports, but God’s view of them.

Just today, Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church, allowed us a seat next to him at the dinner table. Here, he called the attention of his four young children to the iPad where photos of the Libyan massacre were displayed (with parental discernment, of course). Was it a strange way of doing family time? Not at all. It was an opportunity seized to disciple his children.

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5 Tips to Reach Your Reading Goals

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My wife and I never help my daughter eat candy. We don’t have to because she loves it. If it’s there, she will take it. She doesn’t need deadlines or challenges. She only needs to reach the candy to consume it.

When it comes to books, this is how I am at heart. Practically speaking, however, I have my days. You know, those days when the “candy” is in gripping reach, but you have no desire for sweets. It’s a funny thing.

Last year, I experienced a lot of those moments. It wasn’t that I lost my love for books, but there were feelings of distaste and tiredness towards them. I recall picking up an aesthetically wonderful book with a gripping subject, even feeling warm fuzzies with it in my hand (I call it a book high), but never bringing myself to read it.

This year, I’m determined to overcome that.

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Love Your Wife by Being Faithful to Her

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We’ve looked at love expressed in godly leadership, spiritual equality, deep understanding, powerful serving, sincere empathy, genuine appreciation, and encouraging affirmation. In our final look at a husband’s love, we turn our attention to the most countercultural act of love in our time—faithfulness.

In our day, fidelity is rarely prized. Sex is paraded all around us. Women are being reduced to objects and men are turning into rabid dogs who want only to satisfy their sexual desires.

The only limitation to our culture’s sex is distance. But the Internet is quickly resolving that. Unfaithfulness is becoming so normative that it will lose its meaning in our lifetime. In the words of actor Chris Rock, “Men are as faithful as their options.”

What a sad commentary on our men!

Want to love your wife? Want to glorify God in marriage? Want to be a real man? Then turn this reality on its head. Stand up and resist the culture. Be loyal, constant, and devoted to your wife and her alone.

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Love Your Wife by Affirming Her

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Mark Twain said, “I can live two months on a compliment.” I don’t think he’s alone.

In Courage and Calling, systematic theology professor, Gordon Smith, identifies three distinct ways that God calls us. First, we are called to be Christian. Second, we are specifically called to a defining purpose or mission. Third, we are called to our immediate duties and responsibilities.

In the first way, we are called to be Christ followers. We are all called equally and spiritually. There is no one who is greater than the other. There is no one who needs Christ less than another. We come to God the same way and for the same reason. We need salvation.

The second way we are called makes each of us unique. God calls us to a specific mission in life. It is our reason for—distinct purpose for which God equips and gifts us to do what no one else can do in our place. God providentially brings about all the experiences we have to shape us for this unrepeated purpose.

The third way is like the second. God calls us to perform specific duties and responsibilities in a specific season of life. As a husband, you are called to perform a husband’s duties. The same is true as a wife, child, parent, or worker. In all of these callings, we must glorify God (Col. 3:17).

Husband, think now of your wife.

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Wednesday Wallpaper: By This We Know Love

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How might we pattern our love for others?

John 3:16 is one of the first scriptures we memorize because it is so critical to understanding the gospel message. But 1 John 3:16 is equally helpful. It reveals how we demonstrate our understanding of God’s love and our mission to love others: by self-giving. With this wallpaper, be encouraged and reminded that the model of love was epitomized on Calvary.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16)

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Love Your Wife by Appreciating Her

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American writer Kin Hubbard scored when he said, “Of all the home remedies, a good wife is best.”

A scripture often forgotten by men concerning love for their wives is Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

In the context, the “man” was Adam. But God had all men in mind. He says “the man” should not be alone. And “the man” needs a helper.

You see, not only is your wife an equal but different, and a more sensitive and emotional human, she’s also your best fit—your complementary partner, your perfectly designed helper. Why? Because even though you’re “the man,” you still need help. Your mission in life cannot be done alone.

This means your wife brings something to the marriage you cannot bring alone. She contributes a significant and necessary element. Without her, you’re still “the man,” but only half as good as you should be.

If this energizes you to lead in love like it does me, then your heart is rising with gratitude. As your perfectly-de—signed-helper, she pulls the cart with you, making it move toward God’s end more effectively and pleasantly. She helps carry the weight so it’s not as heavy. She bears some of the burden so it’s not as taxing. She endures a level of suffering for your sake.

You should be grateful.

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Love Your Wife by Empathizing with Her

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Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “I call him religious who understands the suffering of others.” Understanding our wives is key to leading them in love. Empathy is sharing in that understanding. So let’s get religious.

People smarter than me have argued over the differences between sympathy and empathy for years. I don’t want to pretend the fine line doesn’t exist, but allow me to draw it.

Sympathy is having pity for someone in need, but not necessarily sharing in that need emotionally. Empathy, on the other hand, is having pity because of the emotional identification. In other words, empathizers can “feel” your pain.

Empathy is understanding at the emotional level. It hears and feels. It shoots past the intellectual mark to reach the motivations and affections in order to be stirred in a similar way.

Guys, I know this sounds like sissy-talk, but hear me out.

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