Dear God…

Dear God,

How have you been? I am doing great these days. I’m sorry I don’t write or call as often as should. My schedule has been crazy lately which of course means I should be talking to you more rather than less.

I wanted to drop you a note though about Compassion International. I have been aware of and involved with them for a little over a year now and I am truly amazed at the things you have been able to accomplish through them. I don’t mean to imply that your actions surprise me but in this ever busy world to see your light shine through in others and their selfless actions is always inspiring. Thank you for that.

I am always saddened though each time I browse the Compassion International website and see the thousands in need. I can only imagine there are countless others that we are still unaware of that have not been reached.

It also breaks my heart to see that little red heart on the picture of those that have been on the list for more than 90 days. I pray that you will send them a sponsor soon.

God, part of my reason for writing today is to ask your forgiveness for my own hesitation in sponsoring a child. I could give a thousand excuses but there really is no excuse for what is ultimately laziness and selfishness on my part. You have given me so much. You have given me the means to provide for my family above and beyond our needs and I have neglected your call to share just a small portion of that with a child in desperate need. I am sorry.

So, as I’m sure you know, I have finally chosen a child to sponsor. Thank you for bringing Carlos into my life. I can’t wait to get the information packet so I can get to know him better. I also hope to meet Carlos some day when I return to Peru. I am so honored and thankful for the opportunity to help by sponsoring him. Thank you, Lord for the blessing of being able to serve another this way.

As always, thank you for everything.


How about a little prayer and petition…

I’ve had people ask me about Compassion International so I thought I’d take a moment to help you better understand what it is and what you can do to help.


I’m not asking for money, only a little of your time. Below are some of the common questions and answers from the Compassion International FAQ web page. Before you read on though I’m asking one simple request of you. During the month of September (and longer if you choose) take a moment each day to go to the Compassion International website select one or more children and just pray for them. It may seem like a simple request but it is so important. I understand not everyone can afford to sponsor a child. But, everyone can afford to add a minute or two each day to their prayer time. Of course, please pray that someone would be called to sponsor the children you select but more importantly, pray for the salvation and safety of them and their families. Pray for their education especially in God’s Word. Also, pray for those that are blessed with the ability to give financially and support a child, because not all of us are gifted in that way. Pray that they would be faithful and obedient and cheerful. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). That’s all I ask, simply pray… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

Here’s the FAQ’s:

What is Compassion International?
Compassion International is a Christian child development organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty. Our ministry is twofold: We work through local churches to provide child development programs to deliver children from economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. And we speak out for children in poverty – informing, motivating and equipping others to become advocates for children.

How does Compassion work?
The hallmark of Compassion’s work is one-to-one child sponsorship. A sponsor is someone who has made the decision to personally invest in the life of a child in need. Through sponsorship, children are able to participate in a church-based program that offers life-changing benefits that range from educational opportunities to health care.

How much does it cost to sponsor a child through Compassion?
Sponsoring a child costs $38 a month. It’s a significant commitment, but the incredible difference it makes in the life of a child is invaluable.

Thank you for your time and God bless.

On A Mission…

Okay, so two weeks ago I returned from a mission trip to Peru and it’s taken me about this long to process everything mentally and spiritually.

During this trip God basically stretched my heart over 4000 miles from here to just outside of Lima, Peru to a couple of small villages named Tapacocha and Cotaparaco. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of children and adults. It was such an amazing time in which I felt closer to Christ than anytime in my walk so far. It stretched me beyond my comfort zone and opened my eyes to so many things. One of which is a realization that I’m doing a terrible job of sharing the gospel message right here, in my own backyard and that’s got to change. I believe God has and is using this trip to really speak to me about that and while I’m scared about where that may lead me, I’m extremely excited about it too.

We spent a lot of time in the villages trying to build relationships, getting to know people and just sharing the love of Christ with them. We chose some of our favorite Bible stories and kind of tied them together with our own testimony. This is such a great way to present the gospel but in a personalized kind of away that I think people may understand a little bit better and relate too more personally.

I chose the story of Saul when he was on the road to Damascus and the Lord just grabbed hold of him and changed his life. He took him from a man who hated and murdered Christians to a great example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the man he became in Paul. Now, I don’t claim to be one of the greatest followers of Christ by any means but I was a lot like Saul and the Lord came to me and turned my life in a 180. He stopped me from persecuting and hating others by showing me the love that he had for me even though I was who I was. I also told them that like Paul I too was going out into the world to share Christ’s message and love. But this really got me thinking and I realized that I’m not doing that right here, or at least not nearly enough. I traveled 4000 miles and 14,000 plus feet above sea level up the Andes mountains to share with complete strangers and I’m not doing it right here with people that I can continue to have a long-lasting relationship with. People that I could really help, day in and day out in their walk.

I do have every intention of going back to Peru, maybe on a regular basis. The Lord has certainly softened my heart for the people there. But He has used this experience to teach me so much about myself and about Him and His grace, love and provision that feel even more compelled to continue His commission here, now.

We also met some great new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ from Columbus that led our trip. One of these new friends told me as the plane landed “we can’t forget there is a huge mission field right here in our very own backyard and we need to answer that call. We need to reach out to those people just as much as any other and spread God’s word with them too.”

I think sometimes it’s easier to use an interpreter and talk to a complete stranger about Jesus because you don’t fear possible rejection or the ridicule. While they may reject what you’re telling them about Jesus, typically people in the South American, warm climate culture, are more polite than the people we run into here. They will generally listen, thank you and move on. While people from the U.S. will challenge you, be rude or even hateful. But I think it’s more our own pride or ego that get in the way then. Maybe we fear that we won’t fit in or that we won’t know enough to answer the questions or challenges they give us. I think that often keeps us from really talking about Christ with others. The fear just freezes us up which is really crazy when you think about it. Often times these are people that we would share the most intimate details of our life with and here we are finding it hard to share one of the most important things in the world to us which is the gift God has given us through his son Jesus Christ.

Well I’m tired of being afraid or just too lazy to share the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I’m done hiding behind excuses of why I can’t or won’t or should share with others. God has really expressed to me that I need to be more bold in my faith. I want to keep to keep the momentum of that going in my life and so that’s why I’ve chosen to step out into some new ministry areas at our church and personally. I’ve seen a need for a long time and it just hasn’t been filled and I feel like God is really calling me to step up and lead the way for others to catch this vision He has for us all in being bold and sharing our faith. It’s my prayer that he will show me how he would have me do that and it’s also my prayer that I would be obedient and in his leading in his teaching. I’m super excited and I’m just blown away and so moved by but what he’s done and is doing in my life. He is once again taking me and reshaping me into who he wants me to be. So, over the next couple weeks I am going to prayerfully work this thing out and see where it leads, so keep an eye out for more information and more the story of how God is using me now and using me next.

Lord, I give myself up to You as a living sacrifice to be used, as You see fit.

Pictures from Peru. Video from Peru.

The Funnel

I just read a great post at I believe it is dead on and exposes a deeper look into the dangers of sliding into the trap of pornography. This is an ever-growing problem that is becoming more and more acceptable in our society. The article may be long but it is so informative. Please take the time to read and even re-read it.

Also, don’t fool yourselves, “looking isn’t cheating” is a load of crap. This is a major problem in the world today and is wrecking lives, marriages and families at an alarming rate.

This study is by Mark B. Kastleman. He is the author of the revolutionary book titled The Drug of the New Millennium- the Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body.

You can find more information on his brain studies at

The Funnel of Sexual Arousal
The mindbody is persistent in its mission to seek to link information, experiences, and knowledge together, to achieve a “peak experience.” Sexual climax is one of the most intense “peak” experiences the mindbody can experience. And climax cannot take place without what is called the “narrowing process.”

Our mindbody is like a narrow landing strip–only one plane can set down at a time. For example, if you are in conversation with someone, and the T.V. is blaring in the background and children are screaming and playing outside, in order to clearly make out what the children are up to you must “let go” of the conversation first. Of course, if you do so, then the conversation becomes background.

Yes, there are those that can pull the “stunt” of performing multiple tasks, but the natural tendency of the mind is to focus on only one thing at a time. In fact, the mindbody craves a singular focus. Why? Because it is by way of a singular focus that it has the greatest access to all its own learning resources.

The mindbody assumes that its number one responsibility is to learn. It is there to acquire new experiences, learn from them, then turn them into habit so it can go on and focus on new tasks, habituate them-and the cycle continues. How does the mindbody access its highest ability to carry out this function? By a single focus-one plane at a time on the landing strip. The mindbody is a master of focus.

Sexual climax requires a “one plane on the landing strip” type focus in order to take place. As with any sexual activity, this focus by a man or woman as they move toward climax is legitimate and desirable in the appropriate setting. The following discussion of the “funnel of Sexual Arousal” and the “narrowing process” provides an explanation of sexual functionality without any implied moral commentary.

Narrowing Down the Funnel into the Tunnel of Sexual Climax
If sexual climax is one of the most intense, single-focus, peak experiences that the human mindbody can experience, but it can only take place through a “narrow focus,” how does the mindbody do this? In order to understand this process, consider the illustration below: (link–>) KastlemanFunnel

At the top of the funnel, we are in control of our thoughts, perspectives, beliefs, morals, etc. and keeping them in check in the “widest sense.” Keep in mind that women more naturally think at the top of the funnel much of the time. While on the other hand, men can narrow down to the bottom of the funnel very quickly and stay there for longer periods of time.

When a person “lets go” and moves from the top of the funnel, narrowing toward climax, everything at the “big picture” level of thought starts to fade away as the mindbody begins to narrowly focus on the attainment of a powerful peak experience. Our wide perspective and full mental faculties are not accessed again until after orgasm, when we emerge from the tunnel at the base of the funnel. This narrowing process is where the powerful differences between the male and female brain structure really manifest themselves.

The Male Brain in the Funnel
When a man or teenage boy uses pornography as the process to arrive at the peak experience of climax, the results are usually mind-boggling.

Remember, because of testosterone and the structure of the male brain, a man or boy can focus intensely on a very narrow subject for long periods of time. He also can block out all other thoughts and distractions.

Men typically do not think in terms of the big picture, but rather on the specific issues at hand. They tend to be more goal-oriented and can focus intensely on getting to the finish line, completing the project, winning the trophy, while blocking out all other thoughts not related to the end goal. This is not to suggest that a man cannot see things from a wide perspective. If he makes an effort to do so, he can see the big picture. But, given a specific task, goal, or purpose, he tends to narrow very rapidly and utilize a specific area of the brain on one hemisphere or the other.

What do you think happens when a man begins to focus on pornographic images with the intention or goal to achieve the peak experience of climax? The male mindbody races down the funnel and narrows so quickly that it is scarcely believable!

After climax and exiting the narrow opening at the base of the funnel, the male mindbody returns quickly to the wide part of the funnel.

With their senses restored, men often ask themselves after a porn-viewing session, “How could have I forgotten my wife and children, my religion, my convictions?“

How can a man, staring at pornography, with all of his focus on attaining the culminating peak-experience of climax, possibly be thinking about his wife and children at the same time? He can’t. Having descended into the narrow base of the funnel, he surrenders his ability to see the “big picture” and what ought to be most important to him.

As a man heads into the tunnel and “narrows” his mental consciousness, chemical and hormonal responses are triggered in the brain and body that would not be triggered if he stayed at the top of the funnel. When a man viewing pornography begins his descent into the tunnel that leads to climax, this narrowing leads to “switches” that are not accessible at the wide perspective level of thinking. Remember, the mindbody can only experience sexual climax on a “narrow landing strip.” Once he heads down the funnel to where the switches of arousal and climax focus are tripped, there is little hope of him being able to turn back.

[In a similar way, we counsel teenagers not to start down the funnel of sexual arousal in the first place, because they will reach a point where their bodies take over and rational thought is lost-along with their virtue.]

Comments from Male Porn Addicts About the Funnel
In gathering research for my book, I have conducted interviews both formal and casual with many men who have been or are addicted to Internet pornography. As soon as I show them the funnel illustration, it’s like a light going on. The standard comment is, “That’s exactly the way it is!”

Without exception, these men talk about how rapidly their focus and perspective narrows with Internet pornography. But the amazing and frightening thing is, the narrowing process usually began before they actually turned on their computer!

John, a man with a typical Internet porn addiction problem, said, “I would be going through a normal day and then suddenly I would get this urge to look at porn. Once the urge hit me, it was like everything around me became unimportant. All I could think about was getting to a computer. It was like I was being pulled by some powerful force. I would cancel meetings, or make up excuses, do anything necessary to get to the computer.”

“Once there, I blocked out everything else. I would spend hours looking at porn on the Internet. It was like I was in a cave and the rest of the world didn’t exist. These sessions always ended with masturbation, after which it was like I was suddenly coming out of a cave and seeing the world again. I remember being shocked when I would look at my watch and realize how long I was out of commission. It was almost like I didn’t know where I’d been-like waking up from a dream or something.”

With virtually everyone I spoke, it was the same story. They described being pulled or pushed down the funnel-almost as if its sides were greased and once they had begun their downward plunge, pulling up was nigh to impossible.

They all talked about being trapped in the narrow tunnel, glued to the images, riveted by desire, completely consumed, out of control.

They referred to everything around them as being blocked out, blurred or of little significance. And in every case they described the sensation of emerging from the narrow tunnel after masturbation and suddenly coming to their senses, stepping out of the dark, once more being aware of everything around them.

The desire to experience a sexual encounter and climax is triggered in the male very quickly because the brain narrows very quickly. The sexual stimulation of pornography floods directly into the male brain stem where higher reasoning is eliminated and automatic response or animal instinct takes over.

In Brain Sex, The Real Difference Between Men and Women, Anne Moir and David Jessel state the following:

Male lust is blind. High testosterone acting on the male brain increases the narrow focus and “single-minded” approach to the “object” of his desires. After orgasm, testosterone levels subside and the male brain starts to receive a wider input of information without the “narrowing” effect of larger amounts of testosterone present during arousal.

__ An Interesting Side Note__
It isn’t only pornography that pulls men into such a narrowing process. Since the beginning of time men and boys have enmeshed themselves in dangerous, foolish, careless and crazy things in the “narrow tunnel” at the base of the funnel. But instead of the peak experience being sexual climax, it is something else such as the thrill of danger, the heat of competition, the enticement of mischief.

How many times after pulling some really dumb or dangerous prank has a boy or man been asked, “What on earth were you thinking?” And the response has usually come, “I don’t know,” or “I just had the sudden urge to do it.“

And you know what? When you ask, “What on earth were you thinking,” you can already assume that they “weren’t thinking at all,” but were acting on instinct in the narrow passageway at the bottom of the funnel, in hot pursuit of a peak experience. With a narrow “male” focus on a single end goal, the wide-perspective and logical-reasoning mechanisms were completely blocked out.

Dedicate significant time and attention to studying and understanding the Funnel. It is the key to understanding the male porn addiction process. When women understand the narrowing process they usually begin to understand for the very first time, how their husband, son, brother, boyfriend, etc., can get so caught up in pornography and abandon values and loved ones. The funnel is also extremely valuable in helping pornography addicts finally understand “why” they lose all perspective and reason in the addictive process.

The Female Brain and the Funnel
How does the female brain operate in the funnel of sexual arousal? With every woman I spoke to about this issue, including those who were presently involved with Internet porn and cybersex chat rooms, the response was universal: Yes, a woman does slip and slide down the funnel, but with some very important differences:

None of the women indicated that they had ever been pulled uncontrollably down the funnel with no way to stop. Each of them used one word to describe their slippery descent into the funnel: “choice.” They each said that narrowing toward climax was a conscious choice rather than an uncontrollable compulsion. They only descended down the funnel when they wanted to and at their own pace.
They all agreed that they had never narrowed to the point where everything else was completely blocked out. None of them had experienced suddenly emerging from the narrow tunnel after orgasm and exclaiming, “What just happened? Where was I?”
All of the women maintained that climax was very enjoyable, yet it was not their singular focus and be-all/end-all goal. In fact, they contended that if the other important elements of intimacy were experienced, and climax was not reached in a given situation, they could be just as satisfied with the experience. (With all of the men I interviewed, the attitude was entirely opposite-the funnel experience could not be complete without climax. Climax was the total focus.)
None of the women were interested in Internet porn images all by themselves, as the way to narrow down the funnel to climax. Each insisted that there had to be more to it than that.
Each of these areas of response from women makes total sense when measured according to the structure of the female brain. The female brain is not organized so as to keep sex and the process leading up to climax in a separate, narrow mental compartment like the male brain does.

A woman is exerting both sides of her brain when she starts into the funnel. She connects the process with a wider variety of emotional information against a background where relationships, communication, and emotional fulfillment are more important than the single, narrow event of climax.

For Women, the Right Setting Is Paramount
Because she is so much more aware of her emotions, thoughts and feelings at a much wider perspective, it takes the right setting and a longer period of time for a woman to allow herself to get to the place in the funnel where she begins “throwing the switches” leading to climax. This of course is completely contrary to the classic porn flick scenario, in which the woman plays the willing victim, the ravenous nymphomaniac, the office hussy.

Porn also shows women writhing in pleasure, achieving orgasm at the drop of a hat and under all circumstances. These responses are obviously staged. Few if any women could become aroused so easily, especially in such situations. Remember, porn seeks to create fantasy women who respond sexually the same way a man might-or in the way a man wishes the woman to respond.

In the female brain, the centers of logic, reason, arousal and emotion are well connected. A woman thus will not typically narrow down the funnel unless she has considered the big picture and deems the journey to be in line with her overall values, reasoning and goals.

And even when she does slide down the funnel, a woman’s narrowing is not nearly that of a man’s. Again, remember, even when focusing on a single issue, such as intimacy and climax, a woman is still exerting her entire brain and on a wider scale when compared to the male. A woman’s reasoning is still intact at some level, which is why all the women I interviewed used the word “choice.” And this would explain why they did not suddenly “regain their reasoning when coming out of the tunnel”-basic reasoning was connected to the process all the time.

In The First Sex, Helen Fisher says the following:

Women are more likely than men to be distracted during coitus. If a woman hears a baby cry, recalls something that happened at the office, or wonders if she turned off the stove, her concentration can be interrupted. She has to reset her focus and rebuild her sexual excitement. Men are better able to keep their attention riveted on sex . . . Women tend to assimilate many disparate thoughts at once-web thinking. Web thinking may disrupt their concentration as they make love.

The women I interviewed suggested that the funnel of intimacy be rendered slightly differently for women. They offered the following adjustments:

The female funnel should be wider at the top, indicating that women start out using more brain space and taking in a wider range of information, emotions, etc.
The female funnel should narrow more gradually, with “exits” or “rest stops” along the way, to suggest that women more slowly narrow toward climax and can halt the process at will. Further more, they can be completely satisfied if the process is put on hold, if other important elements are present.
The tunnel at the base of the funnel should be wider than the male tunnel, indicating that, even in its narrowed state, the female brain still maintains a wider perspective and is continuing to consider a wide range
It is obvious that men and women do not approach or experience sexual arousal in the same way. Through a more habitual, mindbody process, a man uses Internet porn as the process to achieve sexual climax. And each subsequent time he expresses that intention, his mindbody is trained to seek out the network of cellular memories that activate the process and he begins the slippery slide down the funnel very quickly.

When a woman expresses an intention for a sexual experience, her mindbody requires much more than some pornographic images. She must receive a much wider range of stimulus in order to be fulfilled, thus her mindbody will seek for the network of cellular memories best equipped to make her intention a reality. This network generally will be much larger and more complex than in the male, and so her journey down the funnel is necessarily wider, slower, and much more of a “consciously directed” process than in the male.

Given what I have learned about the female brain and based on numerous interviews and discussions, I would have to agree that the female funnel of intimacy should be rendered differently than that of the male. However, there is a disturbing trend with Internet porn and cybersex chat rooms that indicates a growing number of women may be approaching the funnel more like men do-traveling down the funnel more quickly and more narrowly.

If you are caught in this trap I beg you to seek help. It is a real problem and you can’t control it. Stop fooling yourself. There is help out there: & are a few online resources. I am currently involved starting a Celebrate Recovery program at The Ridge Church. If you would like more information on this please contact me. -Rick

Know the “One” in order to meet & know your “two”

This book is primarily geared toward those preparing for marriage some day but don’t let that stop you from reading it if you’re already there. In this book, author, Craig Groecschel offers many insights into relationships, past present and future. It is invaluable information you can pass on to others as well as heed for yourself.

Love, Sex and Happily Ever After will give you great advice for your future spouse (your #2) as well as guide you in your relationship with the “One” (Jesus Christ). You first need to meet and know the “One” and develop your relationship with Him to truly be able to understand and develop your relationship with your “two”.

Craig’s openness in his own failures and successes in relationships with the opposite sex are very real and even painful at times (such as the pick-up line he first used on his wife Amy).

I believe I could have made things much easier for myself but especially for my wife had I read this 25 years ago. So, whether you are just dipping your toe into the dating pool for the first time or you’ve been married for years, Love, Sex and Happily Ever After is a great book for staying the course or getting back on track.

I will certainly be giving a copy to my 19 year old daughter and her boyfriend soon.

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel.

With a passion for serving the Church and partnering to reach people for Christ, develops and shares resources and applications with churches worldwide.
Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in the Edmond, Oklahoma area where began in 1996. He speaks at conferences worldwide and has written several books, including his recent release: The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist.

FTC DISCLAIMER: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

A Calling…

Dear friends and family,

I’d like to share with you a new way that God has chosen to use me.  It is through a trip that I am going to take that will hopefully be a life changing experience for the people I come in contact with, as well as myself.

Can you envision a land where poverty, hardship, hunger and a lack of resources both spiritually and physically keep many from hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  I want to share with you a challenging ministry opportunity God has presented to me.  During August 4th -11th, I will be going to Peru with a team from The Ridge Church and LifePoint Church.  Our one-week trip will focus on coming along side the people of a few small villages in Peru to help them both spiritually and materially.  If we can help strengthen and encourage these people then they will be better equipped to carry on the Gospel when we leave. We will be allowing God to work in our lives through the personal enrichment that comes from this type of a mission trip.  I’m certain God will change my life greatly as a result of stepping out to serve Him in this important area.

I’m so excited about the opportunities and experiences that lie ahead.  This trip is a calling that has been heavy on my heart for some time now and I believe God will use me and the others on this trip in a mighty way.  I hope you see the value in what we will accomplish.  As you can imagine, a trip like this requires financial support from a number of people.  In order to go on this mission trip I need to raise $1,200 by July 1st.  If you can support me in a financial way, I would be very grateful.  Any money raised above this amount will be donated to help some of the others on the team to meet their goal.  And, most importantly, I also need your prayer support.  Prayer is the fuel that will allow us to be successful as we follow God’s leading in our ministry in Peru.  Without prayer, little, or nothing will happen.

If you would like to be part of this mission through your financial support, you can send a check to: 4998 Clayton Rd Brookville, OH 45309 by July 1st.  Please make your check payable to Rick Phillips. You can also donate through PayPal by clicking HERE or on the “Make A Donation” button in the side bar to the right of your screen.

Thank you so much for prayerfully considering if this is something you’d like to participate in.  May God bless you for your time and support.

Rick Phillips

When Work and Family Collide

It always fascinates me when an author can take such a large subject and successfully pack it into a short book and still slam home the point so well. Andy Stanley has certainly done this with When Work and Family Collide. This is such an important, but frequently ignored, topic and such a typical trap that we all fall into at times, especially in an era and culture where we have more jockeying for our time and attention than at any other time in history.

Andy does a great job of laying out the ways this can manifest itself in our lives. Then he nails us with what some may consider a shocking conclusion to the balance we all try to achieve between work, home and everything else that is competing for our time and attention. I’ll leave it up to you to find out what that is by reading the book.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I wish I had discovered it earlier in life but I certainly plan to pass it on to others and to use its contents with those I offer counsel.

FTC DISCLAIMER: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

Covenant or Contract

Check out this great post  below from Justin and Trisha Davis at Refine Us.

When we get married, our vision for marriage is a to have a covenant relationship. We are making a promise. We recite vows. We promise to be there. We promise to love unconditionally. We promise in sickness and in health. We are not signing a contract, we are making a promise. We are reciting a covenant that comes from the depth of our heart. This covenant feels right. This covenant feels holy. This covenant feels ordained.

But something happens to most marriages over time. The unconditional love we promised, starts being conditional. The list of things we loved about our spouse slowly drifts to a list of things that irritate us. We aren’t getting what we are putting in. This isn’t what we signed up for. This isn’t what we agreed to. Our covenant relationship has slowly become a contractual agreement.

Here are some signs your marriage is more of a contract than a covenant:

1. Comparison:

You are so disappointed in who your spouse is that you compare them with someone else. You wish they were more handy like so and so’s husband. You wish they could cook like so and so’s wife. You compare them with someone you work with…they don’t listen that well, understand you that much. The comparison game is a dangerous one to play.

2. If-Then Relationship

You will take out the trash if she will do the laundry. You will pick up the kids from school if she will let get off your back about going golfing. There are conditions attached to sexual intimacy. Conditions attached to time spent together. You keep score and you usually win. No one wins in the if-then marriage. You can never do enough.

3. Walking on Egg-Shells

When you are in a contractual marriage you are constantly worried about starting a fight. You walk on egg shells when you get home from work. You walk on egg shells on the weekends. You’re goal is to get through a day, a weekend, a week without an argument. You know your spouses hot buttons and do everything you can to not push them.

4. Score Keeping

In a contractual marriage you always know the score. You know how many times you’ve served them; you’ve given in; you’ve said you’re sorry; you’ve not gotten you way. You keep score of purchases; arguments and times you’ve given something against your will. Your desire isn’t to experience intimacy with your spouse, but to win the score keeping game. (There is no winner in a score keeping marriage.)

God’s vision for your marriage is a covenant not a contract. He longs to have your relationship with your spouse mirror His relationship with you. When you least deserved it, He sacrificed for you. A covenant is an unconditional promise that has no end.

Maybe the best thing you can do for your marriage today is evaluate which type of relationship you have and which type do you want to have.

Last Minute Shopping…

It’s getting down to the wire and I’m sure many of you are out or online doing some last minute shopping for the Christmas season. Those of you who know me, know how much I dislike the commercialism that has high-jacked this special time of year and continues to grow and suck the meaning and enjoyment from what should be a joyous time (sorry was I ranting again?). Of course one thing I can really get behind when it comes to gift giving is when it really has meaning and is truly a gift from the heart that may even change someones life. Please take a moment to check out the following video and prayerfully consider making a purchase that could really impact someones life.

Missions In Action: Philippines

Missions In Action is an interactive series that was created with the purpose to make a difference in the world. In this episode we follow Alex Boylan on a brief tour of the Philippines and meet some children sponsored by people just like you and me through Compassion International. We also meet a few not sponsored at this time but very much in need. Please take a few minutes out of you schedule to watch this touching video about the life of a few families in the Philippines.

Missions In Action

I know not all of us have the time or resources to go on mission trips but if you can please take some time to check out Compassion International to learn how you could help today.