We talk about intimacy with God a lot around here. Having a close personal relationship with God is our desire for every person that comes to NewPointe.

What about intimacy in our marriages? We all desire to have intimacy with our spouse, but how many couples out there are balanced in their marriage intimacy? And what does that look like? Most guys don’t like that word, because it is touchy feely stuff. We are not comfortable with emotions and feelings. Well guys, if you want a great marriage intimacy is important.

To have balanced intimacy in your marriage you need to address body, soul and spirit. When we think of intimacy in marriage we most often think about physical intimacy. Having a strong sexual relationship is important, but it is only one part of intimacy. If you start here you often miss out on the other two areas completely. Are you attentive to your spouses sexual needs? Are you comfortable communicating your sexual desires and preferences to your spouse? Are you good at sharing appreciation and love verbally? How often do you hold hands, hug, kiss?

You may have heard the phrase “soul mates”. That is talking about emotional intimacy. This dimension is about friendship. Is your spouse your best friend? Do you connect with each other on a deeper emotional level? Do you love to just be together, talking or not? Do you listen beyond just words? Do you freely express your feeling with each other? Can you give each other time alone or with others without feeling jealous? Do you trust each other?

The last dimension and the most important one is spiritual. A spiritual closeness comes from your own personal spiritual growth and relationship with Jesus Christ. Are you both in agreement about your values and beliefs? Do you talk about God and your beliefs? Do you pray together or read Scripture together? Are you in a small group with other Christians? Do you go to church together regularly?

So where are you at in your marriage intimacy? If your like me you have some work to do. Closeness doesn’t just happen because you have the same last name or live under the same roof. Becoming one in marriage involves the freedom to share all of yourself with your spouse – spirit, soul and body. Are you nourishing all three areas?

Remember that balance takes work and perseverance. Your marriage is for a life time, which means a life time of growing and changing together as a team. For better or worse, in sickness and in health til death us do part.

Weekend Recap

This has been a great weekend! I will start on Friday. A young man stopped in to see me around 10:00 a.m. He had stopped in once before and we talked for an hour about some of his problems, God, church and God’s plan for his life.

On Friday I could tell things were not good. He explained some of the things that had happened to him, mostly bad, and kept saying God must have a plan for me since I am still here. He said something was missing in his life. He had tried to fill it with all kinds of stuff and none of it seemed to be helping.

He told me he believed in God, yet he thought there had to be more. I told him that 95% of the people in America believe in God, but a much smaller percentage have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I asked him if anyone ever showed him what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He said no, so I dove in.

I showed him on paper how we are separated from God by sin, and that no matter how many good things we do we can never fill that gap. How good is good enough to tip the scales? I then told him about God’s plan to send his son Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for all our sins. I told him about the way they did sacrifices of animals in the old Testament and that Jesus was the last and ultimate sacrifice for us.

I showed him how Jesus filled that gap by dying on the cross and by being resurrected after three days, overcoming death and sin. I told him by believing in Jesus Christ and what he did for us and asking for forgiveness we can receive eternal life with God. Eternal life starts in this life for those that believe in Jesus Christ.

He said he wanted that and we prayed together and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Wow, was I excited for him. I told him about some steps he can take immediately, like getting into Starting Pointe, coming to church on a regular basis and getting baptized. He is doing all three. I was floating for a while after that.

He still has some junk to work on in his life, like all of us do. But he is a new man, a new creation and his life has radically changed forever.

I saw him in church on Sunday. I am praying for him and hope to mentor this guy in the months ahead.

Later on Friday I went through the steps to Freedom in Christ with someone. That is always an amazing time as we work through the many lies people believe and build truth into them. This person was able to face some deep fears and pray for Jesus to heal those hurts and fears from the past. After our time together their was much more peace and hope in this person. This was an encounter with God, where God touched and healed. God is Good!

On Saturday morning I met with my men’s group. We had a great discussion on what it means to be a masculine Christian man. We talked about how Jesus was not a wimp and we shouldn’t be either. We talked about being the spiritual leaders in our families and homes. We talked about how our church can reach out to men and help them get connected and engaged.

Later on Saturday I officiated at a wedding for Gary Schaffer and Angel Miller. Gary is in the Marines and Angel comes to NewPoint. It was great to see these two young people with a heart for the Lord starting a new life together. I love getting to spend times with couples at their wedding. Talking with them and praying for them. I saw them in Church on Sunday as well. Congratulations to Gary & Angel.

On Sunday, I had the privilege of baptizing two people. Alice Banks and Zack Smith. They both shared great stories about how God was working in their lives and they wanted everyone to know they are Christ followers. Way to go Alice & Zack.

That is why I love this church, because lives are changing. God is moving in an amazing way and I am so thrilled to be a part of that.

Friday morning I had prayed and asked God to use me that day. I made myself available and God did the rest.

After Church on Sunday my wife and I enjoyed a great meal at our favorite restaurant, Lams.

Pretty good weekend!

What are you afraid of?

We all have fears, some more than others. As I listen to people I often hear their fears. I am afraid of roller coasters, needles, and heights. I try to avoid these things as much as possible. You see our fears keep us from doing things.

If I have a fear of rejection I will avoid getting to close to anyone so I can’t be rejected. If I have the fear of failure I will not try anything new because I don’t want to chance failing. If I have the fear of looking stupid, I won’t talk too much around people or give my opinion or pray out loud. The fear of being abandoned may cause me to cling to tightly to someone and even do and say things to avoid losing that person. What about the fear of being alone, that is similar to the fear of abandonment, but the fear of being alone can cause you to go after unhealthy relationships in order to never be alone.

So what is your core fear? We all have them. Fear keeps us from all the things God has for us. It is like the eagle that is nudging her babies out of the nest. They feel safe and secure in the nest. It is comfortable, plenty of food, no stress. But if that little baby eagle never gets out of the nest it can never fly and become the eagle God created it to be. So mom at some point will push the babies out and force them to fly.

Our fears keep us in the nest. God is always trying to nudge us out of the nest and into the Kingdom HE established. Each of us has a role to play in this beautiful creation. You can’t be all that God wants you to be by staying in the nest.

The first step is to identify your fears. Write them down, ask your friends or spouse to help you identify them. Once you identify them you can start asking God why that fear is there. You can ask God for courage to overcome that fear and face it. We always make our fears much bigger than they really are. When you face them it becomes much easier the next time.

I mentioned I am afraid of heights. The first time I tried to clean out my gutters I only made it half way down the roof on the side that is 20-30 feet high. I froze and couldn’t go any further. The next time I made it to the edge, but I was sweating and my muscles were very tense. Now I can walk up to the edge and look down without much of a problem.

Don’t let your fears keep you from the life God has in store for you. To have full life, an abundant life, you must overcome those core fears. To have healthy relationship and a healthy marriage you must overcome the fears that trigger bad behavior, reactions and words.

A great resource on identifying your fears is a book by Gary Smalley “The DNA of Relationships”. This is a must read for anyone that wants to improve their relationships.

1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

We can resolve our fears first by focusing on God’s immeasurable love for us, and then by allowing Him to love others through us. His love will quiet your fears and give you confidence.

Lincoln Principles

I started out my career as a banker. First in auditing, then as a loan officer, then as a branch manager and commercial lender. In those early years I knew that learning and growing were important for me to make it to the top. That is when I began to read about leadership and management. I read a book about President Lincoln that I recently took off my shelf again (Lincoln on Leadership by Donald Phillips). As I scanned through the book I was struck by some of the incredible leadership principles Lincoln had. No wonder he was such a great leader. Most are simple yet profound. Here are some for you to ponder:

“Showing your compassionate and caring nature will aid you in forging successful relationships”

“A good leader avoids issuing orders, preferring to request, imply, or make suggestions”

“It would not hurt you much if, once in a while, you could manage to let things slip, unbeknownst-like”

Remember: Your organization will take on the personality of its top leader”

“Do the very best you know how-the very best you can-and keep doing so until the end”

“It’s not entirely safe to allow a misrepresentation to go uncontradicted”

“Remember that it is not best to swap horses when crossing streams”

“Seize the initiative and never relinquish it”

“If you are a good leader, when your work is done, your aim fulfilled, your people will say, We did it ourselves”

“Sometimes it is better to plough around obstacles rather than to waste time going through them”

“Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today”

“If you never try, you’ll never succeed”

“Loyalty is more often won through private conversation than in any other way”

“Remember, everyone likes a compliment”

“The probability that you may fall in the struggle ought not to deter you from the support of a cause you believe to be just”

“Remember, that the best leaders never stop learning”

Going Deep

This morning I was reading my devotional “When the Lights Go Out” by Graham Cooke. My friend Kevin told me about it and I got it for my men’s group. The sub title is “Surprising Growth When God Is Hidden”. What does that mean?

Cooke talks about manifestation versus hiddenness. “Manifestation is about experiencing all that God is doing. Hiddenness is about possessing the things of God through His Word by faith. During times of hiddenness, you must learn to rely on the promises that God has made to you through the Bible.”

As Christians we all have times of manifestation when we are experiencing God. We feel blessed and filled to the top with the good things of God. However we also have times of hiddenness and in those times we can slip away from God because this is not what we expected. We want God to give us a sign and tell us what to do. We don’t want to go searching in the desert. Hiddenness is not something we seek, yet God uses times of hiddenness to train us and develop us.

Cooke says “Hiddenness is where we start to process deep truth.” In other words we can hear truth, read truth and talk about truth, but to process and understand truth God hides himself, so that we seek wisdom and truth at a deeper level. The disciples did not understand much of what Jesus was teaching while he was with them. They had certain thoughts and expectations about His coming Kingdom. It wasn’t until Jesus died and was resurrected and then ascended that they got it. When they no longer had Him with them, they began to understand what He was showing them.

We don’t gain spiritual maturity by gaining more knowledge about the Bible. It comes from gaining Godly, not earthly wisdom and that comes when we learn to be with God even in hiddenness.

I sometimes hear the question about how can I go deeper spiritually? Be careful what you are asking for. A time of hiddenness may be coming. If you really want to go deeper in your walk with God then start doing what the Bible says. Are you tithing? Are you giving above the tithe? Are you serving in your local church? Are you helping others in your community? Have you fasted lately? Are you in a small group? Are you investing in a non believer? Are you investing in a believer that is not as far along as you? Have you gone on a mission trip? Have you forgiven everyone that has hurt you? Have you confessed to all the people that you have hurt? Are your relationships healthy? Is anyone holding you accountable? Are you content with what you have? Are you using your spiritual gifts for God? Are you using your painful experiences to help others that are going through a similar situation? Is your daily time with God a priority?

Going deep means getting your hands dirty. It means seeking God with all your heart even when you don’t feel His presence. It means developing internally and becoming more like Jesus in your Character. In times of hiddenness God is wanting to teach us about changing our heart toward Him.