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“Financial pressure can suck the romance right out of a relationship.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex andDating (p. 176). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Have you found that true?  I’m sure that many of you have. The truth is it can suck out all of the enjoyment of life.   Andy says, “The number one source of conflict among couples is money.”  It is number one.
He then says, “The primary source of financial pressure is debt. Dumb debt. Credit card debt. Car leases… If you have debt, chances are you have other bad financial habits.”
Make a commitment to stop and look at what it is that is causing you to not get this under control.  I love the prayer of the Psalmist who says, “Search me oh God and know my thoughts.”  Why do you have to have all of the stuff?  Now there can be good reasons for it but if it causes relational problems then there is a problem.  Take it to God and then take it to your spouse.  Prioritize and then let some things go
Andy also says…

“Love does not sustain itself naturally.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex andDating (p. 97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Have you ever stopped to think about that?  Andy says, “What come naturally are passion, lust, chemistry, and that ‘can’t wait to get you alone’ feeling. But over time, all of that is eventually squashed by our unbridled, selfish, self-preserving natures.”
You see real love is un-natural. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  Andy says, “Do any of these traits come naturally? Granted, we know how to turn them all on when we’re winning and wooing. But love does…

“Rehearsing the past does nothing to alter or improve the future.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (p. 91). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
What Andy is dealing with here is the last part of verse 5 in 1 Corinthians 13 (NLT) which says, “Love…keeps no record of being wronged.”  He talking about people who are record keepers and he is saying that love doesn’t do that.
Does your spouse do that?  Did you have a parent who did that?  Do you do that?  That isn’t love, that is a relationship killer and that is a power play.  It’s not love.
Andy says, “Love chooses not to keep dousing the present with the past. Besides, it doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t move the relationship forward. If one of your parents was a record keeper, I suspect you gravitated relationally toward your other parent, didn’t you? Whose influence were you most open to? The filer’s or the forgiver’s? Who did you feel closest to? The filer or the forgetter? Funny how that works…

“Love chooses to see the best and believe the best while choosing to overlook the rest.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex,and Dating (p. 94). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Andy is striving to show us in this section of his book, that we need to strive to embrace love as an action verb.  And he has taken us to the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible to show us God’s thoughts on love.  Now in verses 6 & 7 of this great chapter says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  What does love do?  “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  Not exactly our definition of love, even as Christ followers, is it? 
As Andy puts it, “Love does not delight in or get its kicks digging up dirt or catching someone doing wrong. Love isn’t looking for or expecting bad behavior. Love is hopeful…Love looks for and celebrates good behavior. Unlike the record keepers…

“Unkindness kills romance. Instantly.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating(p. 80). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
I know that this is a thought that we all agree with don’t we?  Now if they are kind that sparks something within you.  This is one area that we see what it means to embrace love as a verb.  I Corinthians 13:4 in the Bible says, “Love is kind.”
Andy says, “To be kind is to leverage one’s strength on behalf of another. When we’re kind, we put our strength, abilities, and resources on loan to someone who lacks them.  When you’re kind, you put you at someone’s disposal. Kindness is powerful. Kindness is a decision. It’s the decision to do for others what they cannot in that moment do for themselves. Kindness, in its purest form, is unconditional. It’s not a means to a personal end. The goal of kindness is to benefit the person to whom it’s extended. Kindness is love’s response to weakness. Kindness is perh…

“Great relationships are built on good decisions, not strong emotion.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, andDating (p. 63). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Here is the key.  Andy then says, “Again, falling in love is easy; it requires a pulse. Staying in love requires more. Specifically, embracing love as a verb.”  Embracing love as a verb.  In other words, long lasting love is something you do not something you feel.
Now Andy says, “As commonsense as it may sound, the idea of embracing love as a verb is not all that common. Our culture is not characterized by love as a verb or an imperative. Our culture is characterized by a multifaceted distortion of the Golden Rule.” 
Such as, “• Do unto others as they do unto you. • Do unto others as they deserve to be done unto.• Do unto others so as to get them to do what you want them to do. • Do unto others until you are ready to do unto somebody else.”  And we call that love.
Then he says, “Such are the unwritten r…

“Your relationships will never be any healthier than you.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating(p. 57). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Andy puts it another way, “Relationships are never stronger than the weakest link. Granted, link is a bit harsh. But I think you know what I mean. The stronger, more mature, more secure person in a relationship is always forced to make up for, defer to, or fill in the gaps created by the weaker person.”
He then says, “If you’re the weak link, your relationship will never be any healthier than you. If your partner is the weak link, the relationship will never be healthier than your partner. That’s why I say, the relationship won’t get any better than you. So, the better you become, the happier everybody will be. And if you determine to wait until you find someone who is committed to becoming a better version of him- or herself, well, everybody wins.”
But I see their potential and I’m going to change them.…

“You rarely make eye contact with drivers moving in the opposite direction.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating(p. 52). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Here is the point.  Andy is dealing here with the situation that if we are looking for the right person for our lives then we need to be the right person for their lives.  In other words Andy asks, “Are you the person the person you’re looking for is looking for?”  
You have a list in your mind of what the person who is the right person that you eventually want to be THE person in your life looks like.  So are you making choices in being the kind of person that person would choose?  
He goes on, “If you choose to prepare yourself relationally, you will gravitate toward environments that aid you in that pursuit. In the same way, it will bring you into contact with those who share your priorities. When people complain that ‘nobody’ thinks this way, what they’re really saying is, ‘The people I work with, li…

“Marriage problems are easy.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (p. 20). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Now I’ve quoted this thought as a grabber.  It is not to be read and just accepted and quoted but it is something that I hope does get you to stop and strive to understand what it really means.
Here is the context that Andy said it.  He said, “I’ve met with many struggling married couples who would describe themselves as having ‘marriage problems.’ But in all my years I’ve never talked to a married couple that actually had a marriage problem. What I’ve discovered is that people with problems get married and their problems collide. What was manageable as a single person eventually becomes unmanageable within the context of marriage. Marriage problems are easy. They rarely require counseling. But when the premarriage past surfaces in a marriage, that’s another story.”
My son Brett and his wife Marissa and…

“Our memories are not enemies of forgiveness. Memories are simply memories.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Locations 2101-2102). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

He then says, “What we do with them determines their impact. Our memories are opportunities to renew our minds to what we know is true. Our memories are opportunities to rejoice in our own forgiveness. Truly forgiving does not always entail truly forgetting. If you will renew your mind, painful memories can become reminders of God’s goodness and grace and healing power in your life. What were once negative memories can become a source of joy as you experience the healing power of the Father.”
Isn’t that great?An experience that the Enemy has set up to hurt us the rest of our life can be turned into an opportunity to once again see how great God is and how He can make such a difference in our life.Please don’t waist the opportunity.Let Go…

“When memories of past hurt flood your mind, go ahead and face them.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living(Kindle Locations 2095-2096). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
Andy then says, “Allow yourself to remember the incident. It’s even okay to feel the emotions those memories elicit. If necessary, be angry but do not sin (see Ephesians 4: 26). But instead of reopening the case against your offender, instead of rehearsing images of retribution and revenge, use it as an opportunity to renew your mind.”
I’m not sure who it is that needed this thought today.All I can say is that God loves you and wants to release you from your past hurts.Go ahead and face it and then let God help you deal with it through forgiving you of the part you may have played in it and then forgiving the part that the other person played in  it.
How do you really know that you have truly forgiven them?You know it because when you thin…

“Pain sets us up to become self-centered.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living(Kindle Location 1982). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And that is true emotionally and physically.Think about the last time you had some real physical pain.I’m mean you were really hurting.Who were you thinking about? You.And the same is true emotionally.
Andy says, “Emotional pain works the same way. And like physical pain, the more intense the emotional pain, the more self-centered we become, and self-centeredness is the archenemy of character. Men and women of character are committed to putting others first.”
But the Enemy knows how to sidetrack us doesn’t he?I mean I’m in pain.Take care of me.But the golden rule says, “To do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”And pain is a way of learning how to minister to others and to show people how God can make a difference when we are in pain.But it is really difficult to do isn’t it?
I’ve been thi…

“Forgiveness is not a gift for someone else.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Location 1942). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Now it does have some benefit to the one being forgiven.I mean it really makes us feel good when someone shows they care enough to ask us to forgive them for something we did to them.The gift of forgiveness to someone is a very meaningful gift but the real gift is to the one doing the forgiving.
As Andy says, “We have a tendency to view forgiveness as a gift to the one who offended us— as a benefit to that person.”That is why it is difficult for us to do.We see it as letting them off the hook for what they did to us.
But he then goes on to say, “For the most part, it’s a gift that was designed for us. It’s something we give ourselves. Because when you consider everything that’s at stake, the one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the one…

“Our feelings are wonderful followers, but they are terrible leaders.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living(Kindle Locations 1540-1541). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I almost did that today.I wasn’t feeling very inspired and I had a lot of other things getting my attention and I just about convinced myself to not write a new post.I could wait and write it tomorrow.I just don’t feel like writing today.
Do you ever get to that point?I heard of this guy who got up on a Sunday morning and told his wife, “You know, I just don’t feel like going to church today.I was up late last night and I just feel like staying home.”But his wife brought him back to reality.She said, “But you are the Pastor.You can’t stay home.”
Maybe that is the way you feel every Monday.“I just don’t feel like going to work.I think I will just stay home.That is what I really feel like doing?”But you get up and get ready and head in to work because you realize that feelings are terrible leaders.

“False assumptions make any temptation seem worth entertaining for the moment.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Locations 1369-1370). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

What tempts you?What is it you want to do and you have great trouble in not giving in to doing it?Does something come to your mind?
Andy says, “Analyze your temptations. What exactly is the appeal? What is the promise of sin? What sort of mental gymnastics do you go through to justify it? Think through the conversations you have with yourself as you talk yourself into something you know is wrong.”
This is so important.Figure out what the lie is that is drawing you to the temptation.
Back when Jesus was first starting His ministry Matthew tells us in chapter 4 verses 1-3 (CEB), “Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, comma…

“It is imperative that you begin identifying those things in your battery of beliefs that are not true.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living(Kindle Locations 1248-1249). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Andy uses as an example of a false belief that was controlling the world at the time of Christopher Columbus that the world was flat.That was a false belief that Columbus rejected and by that found the New World.And there are many false beliefs that we need to identify and deal with before we can step out into our new world.
As Andy says, “Every single facet of our behavior is somehow tied back to something we believe. When you and I believe the wrong thing, it works its way out in the form of wrong behavior.”
Here are a couple of these he gives, “If you believe happiness is found in the accumulation of possessions, you’re not going to be very generous. If you believe that people cannot be trusted, you’re not going to have many close friends.”But you have your own false beliefs that control your …

“Imagine your potential if you were to work with Him rather than working around Him.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Location 1175). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I don’t think any of us really can see the potential in us if we would let God work in and through us.Even the best Christ follower at times holds back from letting God work on us.I mean we fight those circumstances that are there to make us in the image He wants for us.
You see as Andy says, “When the two of you are in alignment, there will be unleashed a whole new dimension of His power in your life. And as you renew your mind, you will begin to understand and cooperate with God’s purposes for your life, rather than fighting against them.”
And that is where the potential in us is realized.I mean all that is happening to us and in us is for our good.We just need to relax and let Him work.Don’t waist the circumstances accept and see what He is doing.
What could happen if we would quit fighting Him?

“We have a tendency to assume that if our spiritual experience is real, it will produce instant change.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living(Kindle Locations 1054-1055). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We have a tendency to think that if I am a Christ-follower then longevity means maturity.That when I accepted Christ into my life that I have arrived and that is it but that isn’t true.Oh there may be some things that changed in that moment but there are other things that come from growth.We grow in our character.
Now I am a 67 year old retired pastor who has found a ministry through writing.I take other people’s thoughts and from my experience I give my thoughts, I just continue that thought.Now it can come across that I have arrived.I no longer have a need to grow, I just need to show.And there is great spiritual danger there.I have not yet arrived.I am still going through the process and I have to constantly live with that fact.
And God is still very faithful to show me where I need growth in …

“We have a natural propensity to change the rules on God.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book,Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Locations 912-913). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

He then continues and says, “We tend to change His commands to fit our personality, our present lifestyle, or our current circumstances.”
Now I read that and thought about some of the stands politically that I read on Facebook of the things that Christians are up in arms about that in reality go against the character standard that Christ shares in His Word.And I was ready to use this as an opportunity to lash out at our inconsistencies but it then hit me of the character stands He takes on this matter of judging others and that stopped me in my tracks. I don’t believe that if I am a man of character that I can be judgmental.I can’t and I won’t.
But we must each as individuals determine where we are going to set the standards by which we live…

“If God answered all of our prayers, our character would suffer.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Location 836). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

He qualifies that with “For in most cases, our prayers center around the removal of the very circumstances He is using to conform us to His image.”
Somehow we need to come to grips with the fact that God’s plan and purpose for us is different than ours.You see God is an investor and He only invests in those things that will last.Our outside will not last.Dust to dust and ashes to ashes but what lasts is what is inside of us, our spirit, our soul, our character.  That is what He invests in.He wants us to become like Him.
I love the story of the sculptor who was looking at a big piece of granite and someone asked him what he was going to do with it?And he said that he was going to create a sculpture of an elephant.And they asked, “How are you going to do that?”And he said, “I’m going to chisel off everyt…