Benefit of Praise

With Christmas right around the corner, family get-togethers are a common celebration. When we are with family, we have the option to build them up with praise or tear them down with criticism. Here are the benefits of choosing praise: Praise benefits the giver as well as the receiver. When someone focuses on consistently giving sincere praise to others, they are protecting themselves from a heart of ungratefulness. Romans 1:21 tells us what happens to the heart of people who are ungrateful:

 
…Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
 
We see in this Scripture that the key to having a pure heart (both with God and our marriage) is to keep a continual heart of thankfulness. Genuine appreciation and thankfulness is also a good way to stay humble. People who don’t want to give others praise or appreciation are often marked by their eagerness to boast about themselves. Pride likes to focus on self, while humility is glad to let others have the spotlight. When we choose to consciously look for the good in others and to verbalize this to them, we guard our own hearts from growing cold toward them. Likewise, as we glorify and thank God, we guard our hearts from growing cold toward Him and His word. 
 
Sometimes people are concerned about praising their spouse or other family members, wondering if being edified often will make the other person prideful. In fact, some people even purposefully insult family or even laugh when their children insult each other, thinking it will keep them humble or prepare them to handle the “real world.” This is actually an attack of the devil, intended to greatly damage and destroy a spouse or child’s confidence. 
 
Satan knows if he succeeds in destroying someone’s confidence through their loved ones, that person will feel inferior or inadequate to accomplish what God has called them to do, blocking their God-given destiny from being fulfilled. Anyone who has experienced great success will tell you that a person still gets much farther ahead in the “real world” through praise rather than criticism. 
 
When edification is done the right way, which includes building a person up for who God made them to be, pride should not be a factor. In fact, edification often brings out humility, especially when a person is complimented for who they are in Christ. 
 
Amy experienced this when she was a child. Whenever someone complimented her appearance as a little girl, her mother would immediately respond by saying to the person, “Thank you! And what’s most important is that she’s just as pretty on the inside!” As a result, Amy grew up knowing that being kind to people was of utmost importance. Her mother wanted her to grow up knowing that a kind personality is more important than looks. When a parent gives a child compliments on their kindness toward others, the child will make even more effort to show that kindness! 
 
The Bible admonishes us about the importance of building one another up in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore comfort [encourage] each other and edify one another…” Interestingly, the original word translated as edify here actually means “to be a house builder, to construct, confirm, build up, and embolden” (Stron’s #3618). This is profound! When we edify and encourage those in our household, we are being house builders! With our words of edification and praise, we are inspiring them to go forth in courage and become all God has called them to be! As we edify those we love, we actually construct a foundation in them that will endure the test of time!
 
This Christmas season, we encourage you to purposefully praise and edify all those around you. You’ll be amazed at how your words of encouragement are as much a gift to you as they are to the receiver.   
 
We pray you have a wonderfully blessed Christmas season, and that you are overwhelmed by God’s love and grace,   
 
We love you! 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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What Do You Value?

In case you haven’t heard, this October we released our second book, A Ring on My Finger: A Single’s Guide to Finding the Right One. We wrote this book with singles in mind, however we highly recommend it for parents and grandparents alike. It is a quick read loaded with practical and Godly wisdom. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1. Enjoy!

 
Many people are looking for the right person without realizing that they should focus on being the right person. We typically attract what we are. Do you want someone who’s educated? You are more likely to find that if you are pursuing growth yourself. Do you want someone who compliments you often? Practice complimenting those close to you several times a day consistently. Most importantly of all, do you want someone who is committed to God? Then purpose to daily keep your focus on Him.
 
If you haven’t met the right one yet, don’t lose hope! Keep believing. In the meantime, develop yourself. Let that be a lifelong pursuit of all of ours, married or single.
 
The following is a short list of questions we would encourage you to ask yourself while waiting for the right one:
 
1. Am I close in my relationship with God? If not, I would be concerned about making a good choice for a spouse. Sadly, we have seen numerous people invest little to no time with God who then marry someone hoping that they will be a good spouse. God wants you to seek Him and pray over your future spouse. He can and will help you make the right choice when you stay close to His side and put Him first place consistently (Matt 6:33).
 
If you have a desperate longing (rather than a healthy desire) to get married, it’s often a sign that you are trying to fill a void that only God can fill. People are notorious for trying to fill the deep need for intimacy with our Creator with other things.
 
Some people think, “If I get married, I will finally be happy and feel loved,” No person is perfect. In reality, the person you marry will not agree with you or please you 100% of the time. They will not always make you happy. Marriage is a union that makes two spiritually and emotionally healthy people even more fulfilled, but it also makes two spiritually and emotionally unhealthy people feel emptier than they did before marriage.
 
2. Am I emotionally mature? Are you quick to forgive or do you tend to hold a grudge? Do you take your frustrations out on others by being silent, moody, drinking, cussing or insulting others? Although a Christ-centered marriage is wonderful, it is not a fairy tale. We all have to work on problems, but emotionally mature people learn to work things out without the added drama. This is easier said than done, but it improves with maturity.
 
Are you bothered when you don’t get things your way? Do you become depressed when things don’t work out how you hoped they would? If so, one way to build your emotional stability is to pursue being a more giving person. Purpose to place yourself in situations where you have to learn to become selfless rather than selfish. We all have two choices in life: serve self or serve others. Choose daily to serve others and trust God to take care of you. Volunteer and help others who are hurting and less fortunate!
 
3. Am I financially ready for marriage? Genesis 2:24 admonishes us to leave our father and mother and cleave to our spouse. If you are financially (or emotionally) dependent on your parents after marriage, this will likely be a problem. God gave Adam dominion over plants and animals (a career) when He gave Him a wife. If you are going to have to live with parents after marriage, you’re probably not ready to get married. 
 
We strongly encourage you to make sure the one you marry is financially assiduous. If you need help in this area go through a class such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University together. Regarding finances, sometimes we’re asked if the wife should work outside the home. If the wife wants to work, this is the couple’s choice. We understand there are also times when the wife may work and the husband stays home with young children for a season as well. Just remember, if someone is lazy or a poor financial steward before marriage, they will typically be just as much and even more so after marriage. 
 

We hope you enjoyed this excerpt! If you’re curious what questions 4-6 are, you can purchase our book on Amazon or at the church info center. We greatly appreciate your support and are thankful for you all! Have a blessed day!

 

Love,

Shaun & Amy


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Leading by Example

“But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…. just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . .” (Matthew 20:26,28 NKJV).
 
  As believers, we would certainly all agree that Jesus is the ultimate example of leadership. Throughout his life on earth He gave us many examples of how effective leadership works, so we will look at a few of His characteristics in order to learn from His ways. First, Jesus led with a servant’s heart and specifically taught his followers how they were to conduct themselves in order to be Christ-like leaders. He said that gentile leaders lord it over those they lead, and they exercise their authority over them. In other words, the gentile leaders were prideful about their leadership roles and forced others into submission. Jesus advised, “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).
 
I remember once in our early years, Amy had received news that her great uncle, who was like a grandfather to her, was about to pass on. Although he was very old and ready to go, Amy was deeply saddened. I tried to cheer her up in several ways, but nothing seemed to help. Finally, I asked God what I could do to help make this easier on her. I should have done this in the beginning!
 
After praying, a very clear thought dropped in my heart: wash her feet. I almost laughed out loud because the thought seemed so ridiculous to me at the time. I responded, “God, she would laugh at me if I did that. I know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, but that was many years ago. People don’t do things like that anymore. Can you give me another idea?” Again I had the clear thought to wash her feet. So finally I got a towel and a bucket filled with soap and water, went over to where she was sitting, and began to wash her feet. She lifted her head to look at me, her eyes filling with tears. Then I saw the tears stop and a big smile spread across her face. She said simply, “Shaun, I love you.”
 
When this happened I realized that Jesus’ example of being a servant leader is just as important today as it was when He walked the earth. Whether washing someone’s feet or just getting them a glass of water, I always remember my lesson from God: true love serves. My own human ideas failed to help my wife, but God knew what she needed all along. Whether with our spouse or our children, it is comforting to know that God always knows and is willing to give us the right answer.
 
With love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

 


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Unity Through Communication

How can you nurture good communication that leads to unity instead of strife? Matthew 7:1 tells us one of the most important keys: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” A very kind and considerate pastor friend of ours once told us two important keys he has learned to communication: 1. Never assume anything about anyone, and 2. always choose to believe the best about everyone. He commented that even if he sees a friend or acquaintance and they don’t acknowledge him, he will not allow himself to think that they might be upset with him or acting rude. Instead he thinks, “They must be extremely busy to have not said hello.” Next he will pray that God will meet their needs for whatever caused them to be so preoccupied, rather than allowing thoughts of judgment towards them. He then chooses not to think about it again.
 
I find that with parenting or even work relationships, if one of our kids or co-workers seems not quite themselves, there is almost always a deeper reason for it. If we just politely press in and ask questions, they will open up about what’s really bothering them. I once heard a business leader say that he was baffled as to why one of his long-time employees was acting so irritable and forgetful at work. He finally called her into his office and asked her how she was doing. When she said, “fine,” he pressed in: “Well you don’t seem fine. Is your family okay?” She then burst into tears, revealing that her mom who lived five hours away had been diagnosed with cancer, and she had no time off left to help her through the treatments. He told her that their company believed in treating others the way they would want to be treated. He would get special clearance for her to get as much paid time off as she needed. It would have been easy to just judge her poor behavior, but this wise employer chose to press in and find a reason.
 
His example illustrates an important truth. Some people have difficulty communicating with others because they judge others’ intentions incorrectly. If a person chooses to “read in” to others’ actions and become offended, someone will probably “return the favor” fairly soon. This can happens back and forth in a marriage repeatedly, and it creates havoc. It’s wise to assume positive intent whenever there is room for an opinion. Then others are more likely to give us the same courtesy and mercy in return. Praying for others rather than assuming we know what they are thinking goes much further to build strong relationships with positive communication.
 
Another great communication key is asking rather than telling. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” If we are to give God the courtesy of asking Him for something instead of telling Him to give it to us, shouldn’t we give similar respect to our spouse, children, and friends? When people feel others owe them something, they tell them to do things. We should never have the attitude that anyone owes us anything. Strong relationships are built and continue to grow through respect, honor, and kind words.
 
While a person can probably get away with telling others in some work situations, it’s still not the kind thing to do. Your spouse is not your servant (although we should eagerly serve each other out of love); rather, they are your companion. When orders are given in a marriage, it quickly turns the relationship from one of love and companionship to one of a master and servant. Most people wouldn’t enjoy a marriage like that!
 
Even with our children, it’s wise to ask them to do things rather than tell them, in order to train them in how to be polite to others. Simple things like asking them to please pass something at the table or asking if they would please pick up their room or do their homework go a long way in training them how to treat friends and their future spouse someday. Polite and respectful people get more opportunities in life and, therefore, are more prepared for success.
 
Jesus’ said it best in Luke 6:31, “Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”  When we sow seeds of love and respect with our words and actions, over time we will reap a harvest of healthy relationships and blessed communication!
 
With love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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Financial Unity

Most of us have met people who claim to be a self-made man or woman. They like to think they are not dependent on anyone, including God. The problem with this mindset it that God did not make people to function independent of one another. We read in Ephesians 4:14-16 about this, 
 
…That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does it’s share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. 
 
According to this, we see each person plays a part in fulfilling a need to be met in the whole unified body of Christ. As a marriage team, we are also equipped to supply a certain part (our area of dominion) to the body of Christ as a whole. The gifts we have work directly together with our spouse’s gifts to cause growth in the church body as well as in the the body of our own household to edify each other in love. 
 
We will use an example for this of a couple we know. They are a great illustration of how a couple who is not in full-time ministry can utilize a regular calling to create eternal vision and value. This couple has many gifts that fit together wonderfully, but we will focus on how the husband’s God-given ability in business works together with one of his wife’s God-given gifts to create eternal value. The husband is a very successful businessman and the wife has chosen to be a stay-at-home mother. The husband is gifted in leadership and finances, and the wife has the gift of giving, as talked about in Romans 12:6 and 8, 
 
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them… he who gives, with liberality… 
 
The wife, like few people we have seen before, has the gift of knowing when someone needs money and knowing when they are supposed to sow (give) something into someone’s life. The husband is very good at saving for their future, included college money for their children, retirement, and things of that nature, yet most importantly he is very open to being an avenue for God to work through whenever God asks them to give. They both understand that although earthly investments are important, the greatest investment someone can make is investing in God’s kingdom, where moth and rust do not destroy (see Matthew 6:19). 
 
The wife of this couple has come to us before and said, “You know that young single mom you introduced me to at such and such a place last year, can I get her address from you? She’s been on my heart with Christmas coming up.” Another time she called and said, “Remember that one single woman you used to work with last year? She’s been on my heart lately and I feel like we are supposed to send her something. Can you find out her address?” In each of these cases, it was very timely and very much needed in the people’s lives. 
 
In addition to being led by the Holy Spirit from day to day, they focus on consistently giving to certain ministries each month in order to build God’s kingdom, which produces long-lasting, eternal value and reward. They have been one of the most consistent givers to our ministry every month for many years without fail. Even when we were still in our preparation stages for college, as well as getting our ministry off the ground, they by faith saw our long-term vision and knew out commitment to its fulfillment. They chose to invest in our ministry vision from God, making it a part of their own ministry vision by becoming financial partners. 
 
This couple is quite a contrast to the story of the man in the Bible who did not have a Christ-centered vision, but rather, only a temporal one. We find it in Luke 12:16-21, 
 
The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ so he said, ‘I will do this; I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul you have many good laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
 
Some people pass over this last sentence, thinking it is condemning people for having earthly investments. It is not. We can see from the life of Joseph in the Old Testament that God encourages saving. The key to this sentence is the phrase, “and is not rich toward God.” The only question we need to find an answer for in our checkbook ledger is: “Are we consistently rich toward God, or is our main focus earthly goods and investments?”
 
With love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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