Give up the blame game

By Renata Waldrop

One thing that is very damaging to a marriage is blame placing. When you place the blame on your mate, in a way you excuse yourself from being a part of the solution, and you put the onus on your mate to do all the work of changing whatever you’re unhappy with.

“Honey, where are my navy pants? Didn’t you wash them?”
“I can’t worry about your clothes because I’ve got to get your son ready! Who else is going to do that?”
“Well, I worked overtime last night! I didn’t have time to wash and press a pair of pants.”

This was normal conversation in our house – one spouse offering up a sacrificial responsibility, the other countering with greater sacrifice. I even recall one or two arguments over the fact that he keeps more pillows on the bed than I do. (It seemed important at the time.)

Our marriage had become little more than dueling to-do lists – a competition to establish who had the most hectic schedule, as if that were the secret of marital superiority: “She who works hardest wins.” But what did I expect to win?

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Lunch with God

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her some chips. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him.

Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

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Beauty for ashes

By David Berg

We used to sing a little song about the Lord:

He gives me joy in place of sorrow,
He gives me love that casts out fear,
He gives me sunshine for my shadow,
And beauty for ashes dear.

In order to bring forth the sweetness, there has to be some suffering. To bring about the beauty of the flame, something must go to ashes. Blessings come from suffering-“beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). This is borne out so well in Hebrews 12, verse 11, which says: “Now no chastening seems joyful for the present, but painful: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

It’s like a giant hand taking a honeycomb and squeezing it – and out comes the honey. Or it’s like when Moses smote the rock: The rock received a blow, but out came the water (Exodus 17:1-7). The heart of stone has to be broken before the water of God’s Spirit can flow out to refresh the people. It’s like a beautiful flower that’s pressed and crushed, but out comes the perfume. Or like the beautiful music that comes from the throat of the bird, almost as though it’s in pain, yet it comes forth with song. Even though the bird’s song may be sad, it’s so sweet. The groans are not murmurs, but songs of praise and thanksgiving to God – a sad, sweet song! As the great poet Shelley once said, “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts!”

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Eight lessons of love

By Mike and Debbie Breaux

Growing up, I (Mike) had all kinds of confusion about the crazy little thing called love. In the fifth grade, I got my first crush on Kathy. She had that Laura Ingles Wilder thing going, with the braided pigtails. So cute! I chased her at recess. I threw rocks at her. All the ways you show affection in the fifth grade.

By high school my dating techniques changed – thankfully! I started to date Debbie. I remember sitting with her in a movie theater. My heart would pound because I wanted to hold her hand so badly! But I was shy. I’d go into this countdown mode. Ten, nine, eight … ten, nine …

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Trust God anyhow

Victory from Seeming Defeat
By David Berg

The Lord lets us go through tests sometimes. He can even make it appear as if He is being a little too hard on us, so that we’re tempted to think, “How could God let us suffer like this? How can He let that sort of thing happen?” The Devil is always around to try to make you doubt and even criticize the Lord, like he did with Job.

God said about Job, “There is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8).  But the Devil challenged God, “Well, You just let me work him over and we’ll see!” So God allowed the Devil to put Job through many tests and afflictions. Job lost his family, his wealth, and his health – and that’s when his sin came to the fore. The Devil had been right about that. Job’s sin was self-righteousness, self-perfection. His sin was that he didn’t think that he had any sin, and he couldn’t understand why God was doing all this to him.

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