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Jesus’ Parent’s had Everything to do with It!

[52] And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52) I think HIS PARENTS had EVERYTHING to do with it.

I was at Keyna’s school one evening last week. They were having Parent/teacher night and the teacher next door comes in and says to her, “I want to introduce you to someone.” and proceeds to introduce her to the little brother of one of her students. He was 5. This kid was amazing. He spoke eloquently. He asked intelligent questions, not the questions of a kindergartener. They said he could read just as well as his 3rd grade sister.

How does that happen? First off, God has given this young man a gift, right? A gift of intelligence and understanding. But mark my words, this gift is grown, increased and cultivated by his parents. “Here, read this book.” “Hey, go to this website and play this learning game.” Talking to him. Teaching him. Asking him questions. Showing others just how smart he is.

The scripture teaches that as a young man Jesus had many questions about God and the scriptures, and that the reason that Jesus had some incredible answers that He had obviously spent much time thinking about had everything to do with His parents living out something God gave to His people thousands of years earlier:

(Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV)[4] “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

You see what God is telling them, right? Teach your children to love God – and do it all the time! Talk to them about this when you are sitting around, when you’re walking, when you’re driving down the road. Tell them about it when they are going to bed, when they are eating breakfast, when they’re getting out of the car to go to school.

I want my kidz to be impacted by the truth of the Gospel – that God loves them – that God is FOR them – that God will forgive them of their sin and that the message of Christmas is that God sent His Son to RESCUE THEM! This knowledge doesn’t “just happen”, it’s intentional!!!  Nothing matters more than my kidz knowing I LOVE Jesus. Nothing matters more than my kidz knowing I love them unconditionally…Nothing matters more than my kids having an authentic relationship with God. And if I’m living ORANGE, my kidz will know this NOT JUST because they heard it at church – they will know it because their parents have done everything they could to help their children love God because they taught it to them all the time.

Jesus’ parents taught Him and He grew in wisdom and stature. They had everything to do with it and you know what, we do too.

Vertical “MAN FEST 2012″ is this Weekend!

I know that you probably realize that this Sunday is Father’s Day. What you probably don’t realize is that we have been thinking, planning, working, calling in favors, etc to make this Sunday the “bomb diggity” day for men. I know no one says “bomb diggity” anymore, but I’m telling ya, it is applicable in this case!

This Sunday at Vertical Church is

MAN FEST 2012

We have pulled out all the stops for this years Father’s Day. Just as we had a very special morning planned for mom last month, Sunday is going to be one of those days that you’ll be thankful that you came to Vertical Church. This Sunday could only be more manly if we were giving out battleships and firm handshakes. A couple of things that you need to know:

  • Make plans to arrive 30 mins early for the service. ”What?!? Why?!?” Because we have some very special (and FUN) things in store for you that you will need to do before the service begins.
  • We have free biscuits for the guys, so men, don’t eat breakfast.
  • We will have Kasey Kahne’s #83 Red Bull car in the parking lot on display (this one).
  • We will have lots of other things on display and to do that guys like.
  • Oh… almost forgot the prizes. Yeah, you’ll dig the prizes. All Dad’s should register as soon as you arrive to participate in our Father’s Day drawing.

So mom’s, or kidz, girlfriends: THIS. IS. THE. DAY. TO. MAKE. YOUR. MAN. COME. TO. CHURCH. PERIOD. I think that you and he will be glad you did.

And just so you know, Sunday’s message is for the single dudes as we come to the close of our “Man vs Woman” series, but I believe it applies to all of us men – especially slow learning dad’s like myself. Ladies, we invite you to listen in. I bet you’ll learn something that will help you to understand how we tick.

A Couple More Thoughts about “Falling Out of Love”

As a Pastor probably the most common phrase that we hear from people who are considering divorce is “we just fell out of love”. Gary Thomas says, “Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance” That statement has absolutely ROCKED my world – I have literally thought about it every day since I heard it. People quit living lives that are guarded by repentent hearts. It is impossible for you to be in a relationship with God, one where you are in daily communication, one that says, “Lord, I ask You to help me to follow You in all of my ways today” and later in that same day look at your spouse and say, “I don’t love you anymore and I want to live a separate life from you”.

“Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance” – Gary Thomas

In a article he wrote some years back he writes of the way that marriage is designed by God to make us more like Jesus. He tells this story,

One of the challenges my wife and I faced in our marriage centered around ice cube trays. Lisa rarely filled them back up, so when I pulled out a tray it might have just two or three ice cubes left. This frustrated me no end. So one time when my wife was talking romantically, telling me she would love me forever, I replied, “I don’t need you to love me forever. I need you to love me for seven seconds.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“Well, I timed how long it takes to fill the ice cube trays and put them in the freezer, and that’s about seven seconds..”

The next morning, however, it dawned on me while I was praying that if it takes my wife just seven seconds to fill the ice cube trays, how long does it take me? Seven seconds, naturally. And the question I believe God placed in my heart was piercing: Is my love so shallow that I would seriously resent my wife putting me out for seven seconds’ worth of work? After all of her love and commitment to me, am I so spiritually immature that I grow angry at seven extra seconds of lost labor?

The sad answer was, “Yes, I am that immature.” (you can read the rest of this excellent article here)

Maybe you get that. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience just as I have. You find yourself seeing your spouse’s flaws yet missing your own. What I have found to be my biggest issue is the wickedness of my own heart.

(Proverbs 4:23 NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

How’s your heart? You know, i have realized about myself that I am better at monitoring Keyna’s actions than I am at guarding my own heart. We believe that if we can get them to be who WE want them to be it will be better. “If he would just change I wouldn’t be angry all the time” or “If she would quit nagging me I would be more apt to do what she wants”. It’s his fault! She makes me that way! Sounds like the excuses in the garden. v.12-13.

Your ability to successfully fight FOR your marriage has as much to do with the condition of your heart as it does with the behavior of your spouse. Guard your heart for everything great in life flows from it.

How We Overcame our Struggles

I began Sunday’s message, “Fighting IN or Fighting FOR” by sharing my story of a rough period Keyna and I had in our marriage about 8 years ago. I love my wife and our marriage and am so thankful that Jesus gave her to me. This year we will celebrate our 23rd year of marriage!! You can hear the details of our issues in the message (should be here later today).

As painful as that period was to go through as a couple I truly believe that we are so much better BECAUSE we went through it. How did we come through? Keyna finally chilled out and accepted me for who i am am and automatically things got better? Yeah right!! NO, THAT DEFINITELY isn’t what happened. One day I woke up and realized that SHE wasn’t the problem, I was. My wife wasn’t picking on me or nagging, she was sharing her heart. What did i do? I applied the teaching that I shared in this past weekend’s message. I can truly say that this message was formed from the scripture and my own personal experiences as a husband.

Here are some of the steps that I took to become the husband Keyna deserved to be married to:

  • Step One: I started listening. Up to this point I heard what she said every time that we had this argument – my issue is that I was not doing anything with what I was hearing (James 1:19-23). I began to listen and realize that my actions were making my wife unhappy. As I said Sunday, if you are having the same fight over and over somebody isn’t listening. In order for me to take this step I had to lay down my pride – I had to say that my marriage relationship was worth more to me than being “right” was. I had to lay my desire to be right at the feet of my Savior – when I did I discovered that I wasn’t “so” right.
  • Step Two: I began to communicate with my wife in the way that she desired. I have always been the kind of person who doesn’t open up easily and kept my feelings to myself. Keyna wanted to know what was going on with me, she desired to be my helper (Gen 2:18), the person that God designed her to be yet I would not let her in. This was and continues to be hard for me as my natural tendency is to take things in and bury them very deep in me. In order to win in this area of our marriage I had to make a conscious effort to tell her things that I just didn’t want to talk about.
  • Step Three: I asked God to help me love her the way Jesus loves the Church (Eph 5:25). The desire of my heart was/is to love her the way that Jesus does – to see her through His eyes… and see how precious she is. Keyna Pittman is my most valued earthly possession. Get ya some of that! That may make some of you uncomfortable as you would not count your spouse as being your greatest earthly possession. If asked to do so, many would list their kidz as their most valuable possession – and I get that except that God expects us to love our spouse before them. Let me remind you that loving your spouse more doesn’t make you love your kids less. If your love is an outpouring of the love of Jesus in your life it will help you to love your kids more. YOUR KIDZ NEED YOU TO LOVE YOUR SPOUSE FIRST! Kidz want to know their parents are in love!! They might think it’s kind of “gross” but it brings security among all the families they see splitting up in their friends lives.
  • Step Four: I got the spiritual priority order right. I gave it to you earlier. God comes first (Matthew 22:37 ESV), then your spouse (Ephesians 5:25 ESV), then family (Psalm 127:3 ESV), then everyone else (by the way, this does include work. There are times where you have to do what you have to do to make things happen workwise, but some people use supporting the family AN EXCUSE and don’t give their family priority over work. None of you will lie and your deathbed and say, “I wish i would have worked more) and finally yourself (Ph. 2:3) Check this: someday your kidz will leave… and if we make life all about them and let our marriage suffer there will be nothing to live for when they leave. I want to make sure there is still a Mike and Keyna in 6 years when Matt leaves for college.

After 22 years our marriage is strong and enjoyable. Of course we have our difficulties and challenges as everyone does. But I believe we hold our relationship as the highlight of our life. Best of all (and most importantly) Jesus is at the center of our relationship – you can never go wrong if you start with your Savior. While I am still not the husband Keyna deserves I am striving day by day to become more like Jesus and to serve her in a way that brings honor to Him.

I truly hope our experiences helps some draw closer to the Lord and our spouse as we strive to have a marriage that is pleasing to the Lord.