12
Jan

HALLEY’S COMET

   Posted by: pastordiehl   in Uncategorized

Back in 1986 Halley’s Comet moved across the Indiana night sky. The news media had trumped it up to be some glorious sight in the sky. They said this viewing would be brighter than many centuries and that it would light up the night; a once in a lifetime experience. When it came, I had to use my binoculars to see the tail. After all the hype I was greatly disappointed.

Some Christians make Christianity like that. They hype it up and then when someone comes to Christ they expect all their problems to go away. They walk away from the faith disappointed, never to return. The fact is, my faith in Christ is more like the old streetlight that shines in darkness every night. It is always faithful and always present. The Comet may be an unusual sight that soon diminishes, but through Christ and the Holy Spirit, God will always be there for us.

I don’t need a ‘flash in the pan’ excitement in my life, I need something solid and unmoving. I need a God who will hold me up all the time; who will give me strength for the long haul. And Jesus Christ has been that for me. How about you? Is He more like the comet or the streetlight?

11
Jan

TURF WARS

   Posted by: pastordiehl   in Uncategorized

Five years ago we got a new kitten. Anita felt sorry for our adult female cat (named Michael Tyson because she bit Adam’s ear) being all alone, so we agreed to get a baby kitten. This one was a male and just old enough to separate from its mother. Anita asked me to name him, so he was dubbed ‘Gizmo’. She asked me what that meant, and I replied that its a nickname for ‘Gadget’.

But Tyson was not about to be consoled by the male Gizmo. She hissed and batted him around. So, Anita was sitting on the porch trying to get them to make friends. Not happening. These two cats were going to have to work out their differences on their own as they carried out their ‘turf war’ and established their own ‘pecking order’.

I was reflecting on Anita’s vain efforts later while mowing the lawn and the Lord spoke to my heart. What was going on between those cats is what goes on in a marriage. The only way young married couples work out their own ‘turf wars’ is to verbally bat each other around a bit until they learn how to find what works for them. Over the years we become set in our ways and settled in our own dysfunctions. We need to speak up and communicate to learn how to “get along” with each other. Fear of rejection by our spouse can make that open communication a problem.

My desire is to take these last 30 Marriage Tips, follow them each up with discussion questions, and make a booklet available to married couples as a self-help guide to get them unstuck. Pray that I can get this accomplished in 2017.

10
Jan

BUILD A FIRE

   Posted by: pastordiehl   in Uncategorized

There is a taboo topic out there that Christians don’t want to talk about. We treat this taboo topic as if it is the unpardonable sin that we must keep hidden. And that ‘religious spirit’ moves people into dark places for fulfillment. The taboo topic is sexual intimacy.

God created man “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). The first command in the Bible is to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). God thought up the idea of sex. In your marriage there is nothing dirty, unclean, or immoral before God. Read the Song of Solomon in a modern English translation. This is how He thinks. Before Sin entered the earth the Bible says, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). Nakedness and sexual intimacy are an essential part of the marriage relationship. It is the emotional ‘glue’ that holds the relationship together. Men and women in their youth are driven by the raging hormones released within them. This is all by God’s design to pull people into lasting relationships.

But as we age the hormones decrease and our bodies don’t work like they used to. But the need for intimacy and unashamed acceptance is still there. And we must fight to keep that part of our relationship alive. It may take a little help from the doctor or a sex therapist, but this is essential to keep your marriage passionate. If this is important to you, talk about this with your partner. Talk about your expectations and what your needs are in this area. Men/women think differently, so you can’t guess what they think about intimacy. You have to ask. Nothing should be off limits with your spouse. How often do you want to make love? What do you enjoy in foreplay and what do you not? If you want to build a fire in your relationship, you have to know where the spark is and what fuel is needed. A candid conversation is appropriate. You’ve never been at this stage in your life before. Embrace it and make the most of it.

A religious spirit seeks to kill, steal, and destroy your intimacy. Start talking again because this is God’s will for your life.

9
Jan

THE REPAIRMAN

   Posted by: pastordiehl   in Uncategorized

What do doctors, mechanics, and pastors all have in common? Answer: they all benefit from someone else’s problems. Doctors repair physical ailments, mechanics repair mechanical breakdowns, and pastors repair spiritual problems that manifest themselves in marriage problems, financial dilemmas, and moral problems. In other words, the results of sin.

Because of my own failures in past relationships, one of my primary callings is to help heal broken lives and marriages. I’m not always successful because some people are too stubborn and set in their dysfunctional ways. But I have seen some major breakthroughs. I remember counseling with one couple who was referred to me who did not attend our church. There had been an affair and deep bitterness on both sides. I first had to let them both express themselves and that added to the stress of the meeting, because they were both very angry.

My next step was to point out where they had gone wrong and set each other up for this failure. In other words, you’re not bad people, just bad management. I encouraged them that they were both normal.

Finally, I explained how the only hope they had was to forgive each other, and start over. I made them ask each other for forgiveness for their shortcomings. Then I made each of them speak out the acceptance of the forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift that releases spiritual bondage. As they did that tears flowed freely. They were going to start over with a fresh start, never bringing up the past again.

Is there an area where you need to forgive your spouse? Are you harboring resentment from past hurts? Release yourself by giving them over to God. He is the healer, but we must partner with Him in the healing by releasing the other. Turn those offenses over to God and release your anger.

6
Jan

YOUR DESTINY

   Posted by: pastordiehl   in Uncategorized

A couple of years ago I officiated at the funeral of 97-year old Evelyn Camp, a widow who had been a public school and Sunday school teacher all her life. She was a stubborn and feisty lady who was respected by all. She was a committed Christian and I knew she would want everyone to know about her faith.

Evelyn graduated from High School during the Great Depression, something few people did. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science Degree, something very few women did. When she died she wanted three items in the casket with her. She wanted her High School diploma, her Bachelor of Science Degree, and her marriage license to Russel. These were the three things she wanted to depart with her. These were her most cherished possessions in life. I observed as those three items were carefully placed in the casket with her before it was closed.

When your life is over and they close the lid on your casket, what will be the most valued items in your life? What are the two or three items that represent what your life was all about? What will be your most cherished possessions? Maybe its eye-opening to think about it, but these things define your destiny in life. They represent who you are and what you have accomplished. And they may remind you of what you are here for, and what you have left unfinished.

 

5
Jan

INTERTWINED

   Posted by: pastordiehl   in Uncategorized

I do most of my sermon preparation in my study at home. Out the window there are a couple of Ironwood trees that have been there long before our house was built and are now pretty good size. Those two trees have crossed each other (literally). One large branch has grown across another large branch. When the wind blows, they rock and grate against one another. After decades of this grating in the wind, an amazing thing has happened.

Both having their bark repeatedly stripped away, their sap has intermingled one with the other. Each time they begin to scar over, another wind causes them to dig yet deeper into one another. Now, years later, those two independent trees are nestled tightly against one another as if they were hugging. Although they are still independent, you would never know it from their intertwined appearance. They each provide protection for the other in their injury. Broken, they have become one. And they sing a beautiful song of nature when the wind blows.

I think there is a lesson in this for married couples. There comes a point in marriage where we have hurt each other and learned to embrace and heal each other at the same time. Our bark (human facade) has been stripped away and we become vulnerable to one another. That’s when we either destroy or heal one another. This is the healing time. You must hug each other and hold tight to one another.

“Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy!” (Proverbs 27:6 TLB).

4
Jan

SAVING FACE

   Posted by: pastordiehl   in Uncategorized

One of the keys to successful negotiations is to always let the loser save face. President John F. Kennedy understood this. In October of 1962, after more than two weeks of tense negotiation, the Cuban missile crisis was resolved when Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev agreed to remove all missiles from Cuba, if Kennedy, in turn, promised not to invade the island nation.

The only reason the US considered invading at all was to remove the threat of the missiles. According to Kennedy advisor and biographer Theodore Sorensen, the President then “laid down the line for all of us. No boasting, no gloating, not even a claim of victory. We had won by enabling Khruschev to avoid complete humiliation – we should not humiliate him now.”

The same principle worked when defeated General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant that led to the end of the American Civil War. Grant demanded that Lee and his officers be treated with dignity due to their military position.

How many marriages would have been saved if we just made the other party feel like we compromised? How many church splits could have been averted had one side simply refused to not humiliate the other? Our human ego sometimes defeats us. Let your spouse lose with dignity, not humiliation. Because in the end, you really didn’t win, after all. “Honey, I’m sorry” goes a long way. “You were right, after all,” also softens the sharp edge of our tongue.