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By Dave Willis

12 Habits That Lead to Divorce

Every married couple has exchanged vows which promise “til death do us part,” but for far too many marriages, their dreams of “forever” are crushed by divorce. According to government stats from the CDC, America averages one divorce every 36 seconds. That’s roughly 2,400 divorces each day, 16,800 divorces every week and 876,000 divorces per year.

So, how do we stop this epidemic of broken marriages? To bring it even closer to home, how should YOU protect YOUR marriage? I’m convinced that if you’ll avoid these 12 common bad “habits,” you’ll be well on your way to beating the divorce statistics and creating a healthy and happy marriage that will endure through every season of life. If you believe your marriage might be heading for divorce, please don’t lose hope! In addition to reading the list below, please check out our program designed to save struggling marriages at FightingForMyMarriage.com

The 12 habits that lead to divorce are (in no particular order)…

1. Constant Criticism

When you get a warning light on your car’s dashboard, it means there’s something wrong under the hood that needs immediate attention. One of the biggest “warning lights” in a marriage is a tone of constant criticism. When a husband and wife start being each other’s biggest critics instead of the biggest encouragers and when they start focusing only on the negative instead of the positive, it creates a downward spiral that often leads to divorce.

#2 is something many couples do as soon as they get married, but they don’t realize they’re just preparing themselves for divorce

2. Dividing Everything Into “His” and “Hers”

When a husband and wife have separate bank accounts, separate hobbies, separate friends and separate dreams, they’re running the risk of creating completely separate lives. Marriage is about combining; divorce is about dividing. The more you can share together, the stronger your marriage will be.

If your marriage is struggling right now, please check out our new online program at FightingForMyMarriage.com.

#3 is the reason there’s an epidemic of divorce among couples who have been married for 20 years or more…

3. Putting the Marriage “On Hold” While Raising Kids

I’ve seen too many marriages fall apart because two well-meaning people put so much focus on their kids that they forgot to keep investing in the marriage. Some couples reduce their relationship to a partnership in co-parenting, and when the kids finally grow up, they discover that they have created an empty nest and an empty marriage. Give your children the gift that comes from seeing their parents in a loving, thriving marriage. Model the kind of marriage that will make your kids excited to be married someday.

#4 might be the most common (and one of the most dangerous) habits on the list

4. Giving Each Other Your “Leftovers”

Some couples have what I call a “cable company marriage.” Have you ever noticed how Cable TV companies seem to give you their very best deals and service at the beginning of the relationship but then after the “introductory period” ends, they give you as little as possible to still keep you around? Some married couples were great at giving their best at the beginning of the relationship, but as time goes on, they start giving the leftovers. Strive to keep giving your best to each other. Grow deeper in your love, your respect and your friendship through all the seasons of marriage.

#5 is toxic and when it happens, neither spouse is going to have peace or happiness...

5. Holding Grudges and “Keeping Score”

If you’ve been married longer than 15 minutes, chances are good that your spouse has done something to offend you and you’ve done something to offend him/her. When our words or actions cause harm, we need to be quick to admit fault and seek forgiveness. When your spouse has wronged you, you need to offer grace quickly so that trust can start being rebuilt and there’s no room for bitterness to take root in your heart. Don’t use past hurts as ammunition in arguments. Let grace flow freely in your marriage. No marriage can survive without it.

#6 reveals the WORST thing to trust to advise choices in your marriage

For the rest of the post…

The Culture of Death and Growing Totalitarianism

Originally published at Fox News

by Newt Gingrich

The British government’s decisions to allow two critically ill babies to die in two years is a natural reflection of the culture of death and the steady increase in totalitarian tendencies among Western governments.

Last year, the British government ordered life support removed from Charlie Gard, ending his life when he was just 11 months old. Now, Alfie Evans – just 23 months old – has received what amounts to the same death sentence. On Monday, he was removed from life support by court order – against the wishes of his parents.

Then, something remarkable happened. The child confounded his doctors and refused to die.

As of the time I am writing this, Alfie Evans is still alive and is breathing unaided. This is despite the claim made by a medical professional during a court hearing that Alfie would die quickly – possibly in “minutes” – if taken off life support.

But even this display of the power of the human spirit to defy the expectations of the supposedly rational and objective state did nothing to sway the minds of the British courts and state-run medical apparatus.

On Wednesday, another legal appeal by the parents to be allowed to try and save their son’s life was denied. The secular system has asserted its right to define what lives are worth living and is determined to prevent its authority from being questioned. Alfie Evans’ life – like Charlie Gard’s before him – has been determined to be limited by the standards of the secular state – and therefore without value.

These tragic government-imposed death sentences for innocent infants should frighten all of us about increasing secularism in society and the steady shift towards a totalitarian willingness to control our lives – down to and including ending them – on the government’s terms.

This is a direct assault on the core premise of the Declaration of Independence. We Americans asserted that we “are endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In the American Revolution, in our fight against the British crown, we asserted that rights come from God not from government.

However, our secular, liberal culture increasingly dismisses the concept of God and asserts that our rights come from a rational contract enforced by government. In the original American model, we asserted our God-given rights against the power of a potentially tyrannical government. In the emerging left-wing secular order, since there is no God, our rights depend on a secular state controlling itself.

Britain is giving us a vivid, tragic sense of how dangerous and heartless government tyranny can be once God is rejected and there is nothing between us and the government.

Ironically, this latest decision was made the same year Stephen Hawking died 55 years after he was diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and told he had only two years to live. Apparently, the British government learned no lessons from Hawking’s remarkable lifetime of work and achievement, which he pursued despite having to battle an extraordinarily challenging illness. In fact, in 1985, Hawking contracted pneumonia while he was writing A Brief History of Time, and his wife was asked if his life should be terminated. She refused, and Hawking went on to live another 33 years and publish one of the most acclaimed books of the 20th century, which has since sold more than 10 million copies worldwide – all after it had been suggested he be taken off life support.

Hawking should be a permanent reminder that the human spirit is more important than the human body and that the will to live and achieve should not be destroyed by the state.

For the rest of the post…

Years ago, I heard a speaker say at men’s retreat that every man who follows Jesus can fall into sin. Hopefully, these allegations are false. May we all avoid sexual immorality by God’s grace. Bryan

April 11, 2018 at 2:03 PM

Prominent pastor Bill Hybels announced April 10 he is stepping down from his Chicago-area megachurch Willow Creek, saying an investigation that cleared him of sexual misconduct had taken its toll. (Reuters)

Prominent pastor Bill Hybels announced Tuesday he is stepping down from his Chicago-area megachurch Willow Creek, just weeks after the Chicago Tribune published allegations of misconduct from several women. Hybels, who with his wife co-founded one of the nation’s largest churches in 1975, was a spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton around the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

He told the church publicly last year that he was planning to step down in October, but he resigned Tuesday, saying he would be a distraction to the church’s ministry. Some members of his congregation shouted “No!” in response to his decision, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation following his address.

The stories surrounding Hybels have been part of a series of recent high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct among some evangelical leaders.

In March, the Chicago Tribune published allegations that Hybels made suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to a staff member to hotel rooms. The newspaper also reported allegations of a consensual affair with a married woman, and the woman who said she had an affair later retracted her allegations. Hybels has denied all the allegations and said on Tuesday again that the church’s investigations found no evidence of misconduct.

For the rest of the post…

He Gave His Life to Change the World

Article by John Piper

The racial world I grew up in, and the one we live in today, are amazingly different. Racism remains in many forms in America and around the world. In fact, the last two years have brought a disheartening setback, as advocates of white supremacy have been emboldened to be overt.

But in the days of my youth in South Carolina, it was worse. So much worse. The segregation was almost absolute, its manifestations utterly degrading, and the defense of it rang not only from street mobs, but also from the halls of political power — without shame.

  • In 1954, seventeen states required segregated public schools (America in Black and White, 99);
  • In 1956, 85% of all white southerners rejected the statement, “White students and Negro students should go to the same schools”;
  • 73% said that there should be “separate sections for Negros on streetcars and buses”;
  • 62% did not want a Negro “with the same income and education” as them to move into their neighborhood (144);
  • In 1963, 82% of all white southerners opposed a federal law that would give “all persons, Negros as well as white, the right to be served in public places such as hotels, restaurants, and similar establishments” (139);
  • And in 1952 (when I was six years old), only 20% of southern blacks of voting age were registered to vote.

The upshot of those statistics was an unjust, unsafe, condescending, unwelcoming, demeaning, and humiliating world for blacks. Have you ever paused to ask yourself what separate water fountains and separate restrooms could possibly mean except, You are unclean — like lepers? It was an appalling world.

Enter MLK

Between that racially appalling world and this racially imperfect one strode Martin Luther King, Jr. We don’t know if the world would have changed without him, but we do know he was a rod in the hand of the all-ruling God. Leave aside his theology and his moral flaws. They do not nullify the massive good God wrought through this man. He was used in the mighty hand of Providence to change the world so that the most appalling, blatant, degrading, public (and usually legal) expressions of racism have gone away.

For that alone, the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s tragic assassination, and loss to the cause of justice, is worthy of heartfelt focus.

Martin Luther King gave his life to change the world. And toward the end, he was increasingly aware that “the Movement” would cost him his life. The night before he was assassinated by James Earl Ray outside room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, he preached at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple. He had come to Memphis to support the badly underpaid black sanitation workers.

His message came to be called “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” He began it by surveying world history in response to a question from God, “When would you have liked to be alive?” King answered, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” Why? Because “I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men in some strange way are responding. Something is happening in our world.”

What was happening? “We are determined to be men. We are determined to be people.” We are standing up. “A man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.” For a brief window of time — just long enough — MLK was able to use his voice to restrain violence and overcome hate: “We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces. They don’t know what to do.” He kindled a kind of fire that no firehoses could put out, and a kind of courage that no dogs could defeat.

Oh yes, there was violence in the sixties. But three years before his final message, when King was asked whether the riots occurred because the leadership of his people was no longer effective, surely King was right to say, “The riots we have had are minute compared to what would have happened without their effective and restraining leadership.”

To the Promised Land

He continued on that last night: We have pursued “a dangerous kind of unselfishness.” Like the Good Samaritan. “The Levite asked, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ That’s the question before you tonight.”

A dangerous unselfishness.

For the rest of the post…

Spiritual Heir

When, in 1792, William Carey drew up his epochal work, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, he gave a sketch of the history of missions. At one point, he distinguished between those missions that sought to expand the dominion of “popery,” usually “by force of arms,” and those that genuinely extended the kingdom of Christ. Among the former he listed the Roman mission of Augustine of Canterbury and Paulinus; among the latter it is the name of Patrick that receives the most attention: “The next year (435) Patrick was sent from Scotland to preach to the Irish, who before his time were totally uncivilized, and, some say, cannibals; he however, was useful, and laid the foundations of several churches in Ireland.”

This statement would appear to indicate that the evangelistic success of Patrick, and his spiritual heirs in the Celtic Church, was a source of encouragement to Carey. How much more Carey knew about the historical Patrick is not clear; but he would certainly have been thrilled and inspired by Patrick’s evangelistic zeal and God-centered spirituality.

Patrick’s World and Mission

Patrick was born around 390 AD in a place that was a part of the Roman Empire. With the way Patrick is linked to all things Irish, it is hard to believe that Patrick was not born in Ireland, but he wasn’t! He was born into a Christian home in what is now Wales, or southern Scotland, or possibly even England (to the horror of every loyal Irish patriot). When he was sixteen years of age he was taken captive by Irish pirates and, as a slave, lived in Ireland for the next six years or so. It was there in Ireland that he was converted with, in his words, “all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance.”

When Patrick was in his twenties, he escaped from captivity in Ireland and went back to his home in what had been the Roman province of Britannia. Here he would have stayed, glad as he was to get back to his family and friends. But not long after he got back, he had a dream in which he saw the Irish coming to him, asking him to return to Ireland to presumably share with them the good news about Jesus Christ.

Patrick returned to the north of Ireland in the early 430s, where he stayed for the rest of his life. As he wrote: “I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, bearing the reproach of my going abroad and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give my free birth for the benefit of others.”

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— February 21, 2018

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., reflects on the life of Billy Graham who died today at the age of 99. The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Seminary is the only graduate school the famed evangelist granted permission to use his name. Establishment of the Billy Graham School was announced in 1993 at the inauguration of Mohler, at which Graham spoke.

“An epic era of evangelical history has come to an end. Billy Graham was not only a titanic figure in evangelicalism, but in world history and perhaps represents the last of a kind. He dominated 20th century American evangelicalism and remained a major figure on the world stage throughout most of the 20th century in a way that we can envision no evangelical leader in our times.

“Billy Graham was a supremely gifted man. He was a man of deep conviction whose passionate heartbeat was for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was an evangelist, and was unashamed to be called an evangelist.

Billy Graham sitting with Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. during his inauguration ceremonies on Oct. 14, 1993.

“In many ways, Billy Graham did not pioneer mass evangelism and crusade evangelism; he perfected it. What others had done on a smaller scale and infrequent regularity, he began to do in a way I do not think can be replicated or equaled. He was one of the first to recognize the importance of the media – first in radio and in print media, then with television and even film. By the end of his life, his organization was pioneering new ways to reach people with the gospel by digital and social media.

“In addition to his role as an evangelist, Billy Graham was also the organizing center of evangelicalism in the 20th century, having played a dominant role in the formation of key evangelical institutions. Along with his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, an entire constellation of assorted evangelical ministries were founded by Graham, perhaps most notably, Christianity Today magazine. Surveying the list of major evangelical organizations, it’s difficult to imagine what many of them would be today — if indeed they would exist today — without the human agency of Billy Graham.

“Long maintaining his Southern Baptist identity, he was for many years a member of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and counted W.A. Criswell as his friend and pastor.

“Billy Graham had a long, close relationship with Southern Seminary dating back to the 1950’s. He was a close friend of Dr. Duke McCall, who was the institution’s seventh president. During the McCall years, he was frequently a speaker in Southern Seminary chapel. In 1960, the seminary established the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and in 1965 the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism was established and held successively to this day by faculty members who have taught in honor of Dr. Graham.

“In 1993 when I was elected president, Dr. Graham eagerly encouraged me and the vision that brought me to Southern Seminary by speaking at my inauguration, and by allowing us to establish the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, as it was then known. Dr. Graham was very directly involved in helping me to begin my presidency, and throughout my presidency he was an active encourager and always a partner in prayer in this task. In 2001, I was privileged to serve as chairman of the Billy Graham Crusade held in Louisville.

“I’m so thankful that on Oct. 29, 2013, I was able to introduce Dr. Graham to Adam Greenway as the new dean of the Billy Graham School and to bring a report to him on the progress of the school.

“During that meeting at his home in Montreat, N.C., I’m so glad I asked him what message he would want to give to our students. His advice on the importance of their devotional life and to ‘study more and speak less’ takes on incredible new poignancy these days. I had the very strong awareness that would be the last time I saw Dr. Graham on this earth. Over and over again he said, ‘I’m ready to be with Jesus.’ He missed his wife, Ruth, horribly, and knew he had run his race. It was a marvelous thing to see a man who knew he had finished his task. He was not eager to die, but was eager to see his Lord. He knew, even as he was dependent on oxygen at that time, at nearly 95, he was near his earthly end.

“Billy Graham also has to go down in history as a man who protected the moral integrity of his ministry from the beginning to the end. A man against whom there was never any hint of moral scandal. And thus, he needs to be recognized for having finished the race and having run a course in a manner that should serve as an inspiration to us all.

For the rest of the post…

Jon Ward

Senior Political Correspondent,
Yahoo News
Eric Metaxas speaks during the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 27, 2017. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/AFP/Getty Image

The case of Eric Metaxas still remains a puzzling one to many of his fellow evangelicals.

How could the man who wrote an admiring, bestselling biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer — the German pastor martyred for his opposition to the Nazis — become one of the most prominent evangelical supporters of Donald Trump, the most authoritarian, least churchly president in recent American history?

The answers to this question go to the heart of the cultural fears that motivated a large majority of white evangelical Christians to vote for Trump, opening an enduring split among evangelical elites.

“There are not many people … who truly surprised me in the 2016 campaign,” said David French, a conservative writer for National Review who was briefly mentioned as a possible third-party presidential candidate. “Of the publicly prominent Christians [who backed Trump], the two most surprising to me were William Bennett, author of ‘The Book of Virtues,’ and Eric Metaxas, author of ‘Bonhoeffer’.”

But it wasn’t just his credentials as an intellectual that made the Yale-educated Metaxas, on the surface, an unlikely Trump backer. It was his magnetic personality, the immaculate suits, the sharp-tongued humor and his public profile in New York City, where he hosted high-minded conversations with authors and public intellectuals at the Yale Club. Malcolm Gladwell made an appearance in January 2015.

Metaxas, the son of a Greek immigrant, began his career as a writer for the successful Christian children’s TV show “VeggieTales.” His wife, Susanne, is deeply active in the antiabortion movement as president and CEO of a pregnancy support center in Manhattan. And while Metaxas’ flamboyance has crossed over into excessive self-promotion at times, he is so talented, funny and sincere that his friends just laughed it off.

You can get a sense of his quirky, dry humor from his “Socrates in the City” events, like his 2014 conversation with former talk show host Dick Cavett, including an extended riff about how the gathering is really a “UFO cult.”

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Billy Graham (BGEA)

Evangelist Billy Graham lived 99 years, wrote 30 books, met with 12 sitting American presidents and preached the gospel to millions. But when he is buried this Friday, March 2, in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, he will be remembered not only as a world-changing hero of faith but as a humble preacher whose personal integrity set the gold standard for every minister in this country.

Why was this man so respected? How was he able to keep his ministry free from scandal for more than 75 years?

In 1948, when Graham was just 30 years old, he and his small ministry team met for Bible study and prayer at a tiny motel in Modesto, California. The other men in that meeting including assistant evangelist Grady Wilson, singer George Beverly Shea and song leader Cliff Barrows. Graham challenged them to pray about what codes of behavior they needed to adopt in order to keep the ministry clean.

The results of that meeting were profoundly prophetic. The men outlined what would become “the Modesto Manifesto”—a list of core ministry values that became the guiding principles of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The BGEA was founded two years later, in 1950, just one year after media coverage of Graham’s eight-week gospel campaign in Los Angeles made him a household word.

Here are the four key components of the Modesto Manifesto, along with notes that Cliff Barrows jotted down in their meeting:

  1. Honesty: “It was resolved that all communications to media and to the church would not be inflated or exaggerated. The size of crowds and the number of inquirers would not be embellished for the sake of making BGEA look better.”
  1. Integrity: “It was resolved that financial matters would be submitted to a board of directors for review and facilitation of expenditures. Every local crusade would maintain a policy of ‘open books’ and publish a record of where and how monies were spent.”
  1. Purity: “It was resolved that members of the team would pay close attention to avoiding temptation—never being alone with another woman, remaining accountable to one another, etc. A practice of keeping wives informed of their activities on the road and helping them feel a part of any and all crusades they undertook would be encouraged.”
  1. Humility: “It was resolved that members of the team were never to speak badly of another Christian minister, regardless of his denominational affiliation or differing theological views and practices. The mission of evangelism includes strengthening the body of Christ as well as building it!”

Graham has always been a spiritual hero to me for this reason. Early in his ministry—in fact, before he ever became famous—he realized that his ministry was a stewardship from God and that he could not run it any way he wanted. He had to manage it according to clear biblical principles.

Graham never forgot his humble roots, and he never let popularity change him into an egotistical monster.

For the rest of the post…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the test of a society's moral character.

May 2018
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