Monday, October 29, 2012

Marriage Success Strategies: 2. Ask

This post is the second in a series.

Have you ever taken your car to a mechanic, or taken yourself to a doctor, and heard the “expert” begin by asking you questions? As you listen, the idea dawns on you, “If I had asked these things myself much earlier, found the answers, and implemented them, I might have avoided this car repair or health checkup entirely!”
So it goes with marriage. A troubled couple, on the brink of divorce, visits a counselor. He or she asks the husband and wife some questions. They are very predictable and quite easy to understand. “What issues have you faced?” “How have you tried to resolve them?” “What steps could you take to draw closer to God and one another?”
The ironic thing is that this couple could have asked themselves these questions much earlier and saved a lot of grief!
Unhappy couples, however, practice a “Don’t ask; don’t tell” policy. They do not seek ways to improve. They do not indicate what they really need to make the marriage thrive. They drift apart, and they lose their love.
It’s simple but true. No one knows what your spouse needs but your spouse. You will not know unless you ask. When you do ask, he or she will greatly appreciate it and will almost certainly tell you!
Here are some powerful questions that will get you started. You may pick just two or three. You may add others. Husband, be the leader by asking your wife first and by listening very carefully to her responses.
● In our happiest days together, what do you think we were doing right? Together, let’s come up with three to five “success” areas.
● When – in what circumstances – do you feel that we have been the closest? What were we doing that made it work?
● If we were to set aside an hour each day, and a date night each week, how would you like to spend that time?
● How could we develop a clearer spiritual focus? What steps could we take together to pray more, discuss Scripture more, and grow more?
● When we married, what primary needs did you think I would meet? Suggest three to five of these. (The list from Willard Harley’s book, His Needs, Her Needs, includes these: affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial commitment, family commitment, sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, an attractive spouse, domestic support, and admiration. You may choose some of these or add your own.)
● Which of these needs could I try to meet more effectively? How can I improve? Please, just one at a time!
● What could I do this week – or even today – to show you that I am genuinely trying to improve in this area?

● If I actually do improve, will you then commend me and encourage me?
● How can I better support you in your role as the mother (or father) of our children? Be specific.
● How can we work together better in raising our children? Be specific.
● How (1 to 10) would you rate the trust in our marriage? Why?
● How can I improve the trust in our marriage?
● How (1 to 10) would you rate the communication in our marriage? Why?
● How can I improve the communication in our marriage?
● How (1 to 10) would you rate the intimacy (closeness) in our marriage? Why?
● How can I improve the intimacy (closeness) in our marriage?
● Now that I have asked you, and I have listened attentively, would you ask me these same questions and show me the same respect?
Do you want a successful, happy marriage? It’s waiting for you. Just ask.
Cory Collins

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ten Minutes to a Better Day - and a Better Life

Eph 5:16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
Time is precious. Some say, “Time is money.” Like money, one can and must manage time carefully. Like each dollar, each minute can only be spent on one thing. Like currency, time that is lost is gone. Like money, two people rarely have the same amount of time on this earth. People speak of killing time, having time on their hands, making up for lost time, and time running out. Time is thought to heal all wounds. TV viewers have heard for years, "Like sands through the hourglass... so are the Days of Our Lives."
On April 1 (is there some irony here?) in 2010 I began my return home from a mission trip to South Africa. I was eager to get back in time to see our daughter's three school performances. I flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg, South Africa, on South African Airways. The flight left about 45 minutes late, due to previous weather delays. Once we deplaned, I sped eagerly to the other terminal to catch my overseas Delta flight to Atlanta. It was to leave at 8:20 p.m., and I was at the ticket counter at 7:30. Plenty of time, right? Wrong! Boarding had ended just ten minutes earlier. The woman at the Delta desk smiled kindly and politely while shaking her head and saying, “No!”
She sent me to “customer service” (is there more irony here?). There I was offered a new ticket, for the same flight, 24 hours later! Of course, there would be a $250 fee for this adjustment. Perhaps the other airline, South African, would pay the penalty, since it was their plan that was late. They might book me on their own overseas flight, or … or …
The South African agent was most gracious and apologetic. Their U.S. flights would have taken me all over the place, and I would not have arrived at my final destination any earlier than Delta’s next-night flight. But they would put me in a first-class hotel overnight and provide three lavish meals. They would also get me a Delta ticket and cover the $250 fee.
My frustration turned to peace, as I realized that this was out of my control. I was in God’s hands. Certainly all was not lost; I would see Charissa’s university program only twice instead of three times. I needed a day’s rest. Of course, I did not need the calories from the three meals, but how could I refuse this obvious gift of God’s providence? I ate well!
It was just ten minutes, but that short time affected the next twenty-four hours. It made me wonder: “What could I do in any ten-minute period that would impact the long future, or even the rest of this particular day?” I could make a phone call or write a card. I could contact a non Christian or an inactive one. I could memorize one Bible verse. I could pray for my wife and children.
Rom 13:11-12 says, Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Say, do you have ten minutes?
Cory Collins

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marriage Success Strategies: 1. Decide

This post is the first in a series.

To make a marriage last, what has to happen first? Two couples start out equally happy and in love. One pair grows and glows, more and more over time, until one spouse dies. The other turns from joy to misery in just a few short years. Why? Could it be due to the presence or absence of a deliberate decision, made at the outset, to pursue and develop a successful marriage?

Michael Hargrove was at the airport in Portland, Oregon, when he noticed an unknown man whose family greeted him as he arrived. Hargrove noticed the obvious passion between this stranger and his wife and children (two sons under ten and a daughter less than two). They exchanged warm embraces, affectionate words, and delighted expressions. Hargrove was impressed to learn that the couple had been married twelve full years and that they had been separated for just two days. Hargrove felt compelled to tell the man, “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”

Hargrove writes:

The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with a forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend … decide.”

Source: A 5th Portion of Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

Believe it or not, a happier marriage does not begin with a miracle, a new house, more money, or different children! It does not come about accidentally or automatically, just because two people become husband and wife. It starts with a decision. That decision, made at the beginning, made every day, and made for the long haul, determines to a large degree the success of that marriage. That decision encompasses choices that lead to “happily ever after.” These choices include the following.

● I will put God first in my marriage. I will look at my marriage as He does, and I will glorify Him in my role as a husband or wife. I will imitate Jesus in thought, word, and deed.

● I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, for my marriage to thrive and flourish. I will change myself, getting better and better at marriage every day. I will become the person that my spouse thought he or she was getting when we said, “I do!”

● I will act in such a way that my spouse will say, at the end of each day, “I’d choose you again.” I will look my best, act my best, and be my best. I will earn his or her trust and respect every day. I will help create the kind of marriage that every person would love to have.

● As much as it depends on me, my marriage will last a lifetime. We will enjoy each other, share our blessings and challenges, and grow old together. When we near the end of this journey, we will still be holding each other’s hand and each other’s heart.

Do you want to have a happy, successful marriage and family? “Don’t hope, friend … decide.”

Cory Collins

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who Invited Job to Jurassic Park?

He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron. Job 40:17-18 
Evolutionists claim that dinosaurs evolved and became extinct millions of years before human beings ever walked the earth. They have thoroughly convinced many in today’s culture that this geologic timetable has been proven beyond doubt. The fictional book and movie titled “Jurassic Park” were based on the claim that many of these creatures lived during the “Jurassic Period,” dated at 208-144 million years ago.

If all that is true, if dinosaurs never co-existed with man, who told the biblical Job about them? How could the Bible describe a dinosaur, if no one had never seen one?
Carefully read Job 40:15-24, where God is said to be speaking to Job. What the text calls “Behemoth” describes a creature of enormous size, strength, and dominance. Of course, the word “dinosaur” itself was not invented until AD 1841. The Hebrew word behemoth would be the best term available in that language to apply to a dinosaur. Note the power of its loins and belly. Imagine bones like tubes of bronze and limbs like bars of iron. Picture its moving tail, stiff and long like a cedar tree. A turbulent river would not intimidate this gigantic creature, nor could man tame it or even approach it.
No creature on earth, certainly not the hippopotamus, matches this description. So how did Job know about it? There are only four possible answers.
1. It has been suggested that the passage refers to a mythical being, which never existed. That seems unlikely, because chapters 38 and 39 of Job obviously depict real animals that are still with us today. These include the lion, the raven, the mountain goat, the wild donkey, and many others. In addition, reference to a non-existent creature would be of no value in the context. Here God emphasizes that, though Job knows these beings are real, he does not know what God knows about them, because he did not create them.
2. Some have said that the Bible is actually talking here about the hippopotamus. This is very doubtful, in part because the hippo’s tail is short and small. The hippo also lacks the size and intimidating presence of this behemoth. In addition the hippo, unlike this creature, has been tamed. Furthermore, the use of such exaggerated language to describe this creature does not fit the context, in which other animals are accurately portrayed.
3. Another theory – which I have never seen anyone propose – is that the behemoth in Job 40 is a dinosaur, but that it actually existed millions of years before Job or any other man ever lived. No unbeliever or evolutionist (as far as I know) supports this, because he would then have to ask, “How could a man-made book like the Bible record information about a creature that became extinct long ages ago, without a God to reveal it?” So this solution would affirm, “Job knew, because God told him.” That would require inspiration!
4. The only other possible answer is that dinosaurs co-existed with man at some point. Evolutionists may call such a conclusion laughable, but think about it. Either Job saw and knew of such a creature firsthand, or he heard from others who had previously been aware of its existence. By process of elimination, this solution seems the most plausible, though it flies in the face of the unproven geologic timetable which separates dinosaurs and human beings by millions of years.
Question: If the Bible is not true, and dinosaurs really preceded man by millions of years, who told Job about behemoth?
Who invited Job to Jurassic Park?
There are other irrefutable proofs, outside the Bible, showing that man and dinosaurs once co-existed. These consist of ancient drawings and engravings of dinosaur-like creatures found in various parts of the world.
● At the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, there is an American Indian petroglyph (rock carving) that shows a dinosaur.
● In 1924 Samuel Hubbard and Charles Gilmore, leading the Doheny Expedition near the Grand Canyon, found another dinosaur petroglyph and even dinosaur footprints.
● Waldemar Julsrud, a German businessman, traveled to the El Toro Mountain in Acamboro, Mexico in 1944. He found thousands of artifacts, including hundreds of handcrafted dinosaur sculptures. This discovery was so damaging to evolutionary theory that many scientists suggested that these figurines were fakes. After all, they were so accurate. Further research, however, authenticated their antiquity.
● Javier Cabrera Darquea eventually gathered over 11,000 ancient burial stones that the Inca Indians in Peru had placed with their dead. The art form and the location dated these stones to the time of the Inca Culture, ca. AD 500-1500. Almost one-third of these stones depicted specific types of dinosaurs.
For more information, see Dinosaurs Unleashed, by Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons, 2004, Apologetics Press, Inc., ISBN: 0-932859-61-5, pages 48-52, 58-59.
Also read more details here:
Once again, if ancient peoples never saw or knew about dinosaurs, how did they draw them? And if they did know, how did they know? This is a dilemma that evolutionists cannot answer. Creationists can not only answer; creationists can use such information, both inside and outside the Bible, to defend genuine faith in the God who made heaven and earth.
Cory Collins

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

… that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  1 Cor 12:25-26

The phrase, “You can’t see the forest for the trees!” warns us against focusing so much on the specifics of a situation that we lose our awareness of the larger picture.  How important that is.  There is no forest without the individual trees.  Yet, while the forest needs each tree, each tree depends on the forest as well.  This dual truth holds in the church, as it does in the great outdoors. Life, health, and growth require both “one for all” and “all for one.” 
According to Richard Innes, giant Sequoia trees, also known as redwoods, often reach heights of 300 feet and diameters of 30 feet.  They can range in age from 2,000 to 3,000 years; some of them were living when Jesus walked the shores of Galilee. The largest specimen, the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, is 275 feet tall, has a diameter of 36.4 feet at the base, and has been estimated to weigh 2500 metric tons.
These majestic trees make it through raging fires, violent storms, and fierce winds.  They also have a comparatively shallow root system which makes their survival even more amazing. How do they do it?  They live in groves with their root systems entangled with numerous other trees. In other words they support each other. They couldn't survive alone.
Violent storms in Alabama and elsewhere have driven home a powerful point.  Why does a tree fall, even one that seems strong, tall, stable, and healthy?  It’s true, of course, that trees often fall because they were diseased, or their roots were weak, or the soil around them was saturated with water.  Perhaps the wind and other elements were just unusually forceful, beyond what those trees could bear.  There are inward elements, outward elements, or both.
However, sometimes a tree falls because the strong tree that was next to it fell first.  Exposed directly to elements it never faced before, it topples.
I have seen this happen in families.  The spiritual giant, a parent or grandparent perhaps, passes away.  Then other members, who are not prepared to face life’s crises head-on, without that shield of protection, flounder and fail.  Their prayer life at home, their family Bible reading and discussion, and eventually their church involvement fade and fall. No one picks up the mantle of leadership.  No one reaches out to intertwine the family’s roots. Before long, without even a “Timber!” another family drops out.
This is true of church leadership.  The individual tree needs the forest to survive, and vice versa.  In an eldership I know elsewhere, there was a humble, compassionate, mission-minded, exemplary man.  The other good men enjoyed the shade that his leadership provided.  When he died they faced, without him, the strong winds he had helped to resist.  Their mission work, emphasis on mature biblical preaching, and compassion as a group suffered.  No one to my knowledge has stepped up to say, “I will be the tree that stands where that brother stood.”  As a result the entire forest is not quite the same.
The point?  First, enjoy the protection of faithful leaders!   Love them, support them, and follow them.  Second, prepare yourself for the time when that sheltering shade may be gone.  Intertwine your roots before that loss comes.  Make sure that your family, and your local congregation, will not fail or fall when that time comes. 
And you – yes, you! – become the tall, strong tree that others need you to be!