By Glen Schmucker
It’s time to do some banking today. The nice thing is that I don’t have to take time out of my schedule to go to the bank. I can do it all with my smart phone.
I’ll take a picture of the checks, tap a button and it’s done. That’s not including the fact that I don’t ever see my paycheck. I just get a notice that my company paid me via direct deposit.
Unless I go to the bank and withdraw cash, I’ll never actually see the money I make. It’s all numbers, electronic digits, these days, which is one reason, I’m sure, Congress enjoys spending our numbers. It’s not their numbers and it’s always easier to spend someone else’s numbers than it is your own.
Truth is, we’re all banking every day, whether we know it or not. Willard Harley, in his decades-old book still in print, “His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage,” is the one who popularized “The Love Bank.”
Harley correctly theorizes that each of our hearts contains a love bank, especially for our marriages. Every word we speak, every deed, either makes a deposit or withdrawal from our spouse’s love bank.
In time, if we make more withdrawals than deposits, our spouse’s love bank gets overdrawn. Then, when we need them to come through for us and we write a check on our love account in their bank, the check simply bounces. There weren’t enough assets to cover the check.
Wise people learn this truth early on and make certain to make more deposits than withdrawals. They don’t have to be large deposits. They can be very, very small. It’s important to remember that most of what love banking involves wasn’t covered in detail in the marriage vows. We have to figure that out as we go along.
A love note for no good reason. A bouquet of flowers when it’s not your anniversary – especially if you have them delivered at work where your wife least expects it and it makes all her co-workers jealous. Either that or their imaginations run wild wondering what you’re apologizing for!
A hug – every single time they walk in the door at night. The hug and kiss get first priority above everything else including petting the dog.
A cup of coffee in the morning sitting on the bathroom counter when they get out of the shower. Beating them to do the dishes, especially when they did the cooking. Asking them how their day went when you know it was lousy and they just need to decompress.
I knew a couple once who gave priority to the first thirty minutes in the door at night. They sat at the kitchen table and, over a cup of coffee, told each other about their day. Thirty minutes, not an Alaskan cruise, not a trip to Europe, not a new car – just thirty minutes over coffee at the end of every day.
Withdrawals? A critical word. Telling your spouse how they feel before you let them tell you how they feel about virtually anything. Not listening to them when they’re trying to tell you something. This can include not turning off or at least muting the TV during their attempt at conversation. It can also include failing to deal with an issue they told you was important to them because, when they told you, you were daydreaming instead of focusing.
Nancy told me the other day she missed seeing tulips before Easter. Tulips are her favorite flower. I had to stop for gas. Inside the gas station, they had some not-so-healthy-looking tulips for sale. I’d never bought gas station tulips before. I bought her some anyway. She was so excited!
A couple of days later they died the natural death of gas station tulips without ever blossoming. Gas is rarely helpful to the health of a marriage. It still counted as a deposit and came with a cheap laugh to boot.
Love banking only happens when we’re not keeping score and when we’re genuinely more concerned about what we’re giving than what we’re getting. You can’t fake it. Our spouses are good bankers. They can spot a fake deposit a mile off.
When you give more than you receive because what you give really does matter more, as in “agape” love, your bank of love for your spouse mysteriously recharges.
It’s almost like the more we give the more receive. Seems like I read that somewhere once. I wonder where.
By Garrett Vickrey
Pastor John Hagee has just announced to his San Antonio congregation (and worldwide audience) that there will be a world-shaking event sometime between this April and October 2015. Yes, that’s correct. He is predicting that sometime within the next year and a half a significant event will happen somewhere in the world. And he knows this from looking at the skies, which are “God’s billboard”. Four “Blood Moons” corresponding with feast days of the Jewish calendar mean that something significant is going to happen on earth.
This prediction was on the home page of the San Antonio New-Express website on Sunday morning. Hagee’s 20,000 member church is just down the road from us here in San Antonio. His apocalyptic fervor is for better or worse a part of the cultural fabric of San Antonio. When people think of Christianity here in our city they most likely think first of Cornerstone’s flashing digital sign on the outer loop of town displaying Hagee’s image.
The difficulty is that Hagee seems much more interested in the spectacle of what the bible might tell us about geopolitical struggles than the transformative power of sacrificial love that saturates the red letters of the New Testament. Indeed, his sources for this bold new prediction seem to be more astrological than biblical. Jesus’ apocalyptic word to his disciples in Mark 13:32, “About the day or hour no one knows, neither angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”, need not be tempered with modern Astrology. After all, did Jesus even know then that he was Capricorn? Regardless, Jesus seems pretty certain of two things concerning the end times in scripture:
- No one knows the hour
- When the hour comes it will be obvious
We can lose ourselves in speculation when we put down the bible and look within to the fears that chain us to selfishness and pride. This is a temptation for every church and every Christian. However, when we do this we conjure a Christianity content to focus on what Walter Rauschenbusch referred to as “Weaving the tinsel fringes for the garment of religion” (Christianity and the Social Crisis, 7). This weaving may lead to some semblance of inner peace, but not to the lasting transformative work in which God’s spirit invites us to participate.
Too much of Christian witness today is more spectacle than substance. There is substance out there, yet it is overshadowed by the spectacle of end times prophesies or publicity stunts. Consider the past few years where we have seen a pastor in Dallas spent a 24 hours live in a bed on top of his church sitting their with his wife. Why? To make the point that Christians need to talk more about sex. A few months ago a church in Kentucky made headlines by giving away firearms to guests visiting their church. Why? To get people in the doors. Years ago, Oral Roberts threatened in January 1987 that he needed to collect $8 million by March to fund a hospital he was building — or else. He said. “We’re at the point where God could call Oral Roberts home in March.” He got the money and opened the hospital. It closed two years later.
Too much of our religious fervor has been reserved for spectacle and prophesy that has little to do with the life saving mission of Jesus Christ. Our spiritual zeal is tapped out by prophesies and stunts intended for shock and awe. These ploys feed our fears instead of inspiring us with love and compassion for God’s world. Instead of sending us out two by two to proclaim the gospel and heal, we scramble for bottled water and head for our bunkers to wait out the worst.
It’s not just Hagee and Oral Roberts who give in to this temptation to spectacle; it’s me. I read the Sermon on the Mount, and skip over the end of Daniel. My church passes out cookies to guests (delicious cookies!). I tell our church members if you gave a little more to the budget we could really dream big. We seem to fail at every turn—Always choosing the circus over the sanctuary. We will give anything— guns, iPads, cookies, money— when what Christ really demands is that we risk ourselves. This temptation lurks around every corner of life and ministry.
A blood moon is rising. Things are changing. Like the moon reflecting the light of the sun, let the moon be a reminder to you of God’s peace reflected in you. And when the world shakes, remember the last words of Jesus to his disciples at their final meal together, “Take courage; I have conquered the world.”
By Ellen Di Giosia
I’ve been giving up things for Lent for a number of years now, and it’s become a bit mundane. I could give up Starbucks, of course, or chocolate, or eating out, but I’d just go hog-wild on Easter Sunday, and something tells me that Jesus wouldn’t care for that. So for the last few years, I’ve thought about disciplines that, once practiced during Lent, might become long-term changes for the better. This year my friend Pam Durso wrote something* that seemed to be calling my name:
“What I have come to understand is that the intent of Lent is not just to give up or take on. The intent is to pay attention. Lent calls us to be attentive to our relationship with God, to our connection with others. Lent also asks us to be attentive to our own our bodies and to our souls.”
Pay attention! I thought. Truly meaningful (and maybe not too hard). Ash Wednesday went well. But by day 2, I was seriously questioning my commitment when my 8-year-old son got off the bus and launched into a 40-minute non-stop monologue about, among other things, what kind of laptop he wants (Good luck with that, kiddo!) and how many video games he will need to invent and sell to buy a mansion. I persevered that day, though I’m not sure the itch of my smartphone-addicted fingers brought much glory to God.
As we’ve moved through Lent, I’ve begun to pay attention to some other things: What’s with the tension in my shoulders and neck? I’m holding some anxiety there – maybe that’s something requiring my attention. I’m so easily moved to tears these days. Is it possible that the emotions on the surface are a reminder that recent griefs cannot so easily be set aside? This woman I don’t know well is telling me an awful lot of personal stuff. I have an opportunity to be a friend to someone feeling isolated and confused.
Paying attention has given me more sweet times with my family, more wonder in the universe, and more rest for myself. But the more I pay attention, the more I’m also aware of how much brokenness is inside me – and how much brokenness is in the world around me. Easter Sunday, I’ll pay attention to what I’m wearing and how many eggs need to put out for the hunt and how to play my role in the services, but I’ll also be paying attention for that moment when I realize once again that Jesus has come to make all things new.
*Pam’s blog post to link: http://www.nextsunday.com/pay-
By Lance Mayes
Hope is a big deal to me. With out hope I would be, well, hopeless and that’s a very bad place to be.
Have you known someone who was hopeless? It is beyond sad. People without hope see no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no knot at the end of the rope. There is no way out. What a terrible, scary place.
That’s why I love the first part of our church’s mission statement: “We are a people of hope.” We can bring hope to others.
What can you and I do to bring hope? What can Woodland do?
Here are a couple of ideas:
1) We need to work on our own faith formation and make sure of our own hope. Take a minute to read this slowly. Let it sink in. You are loved.
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31,35,37-39
2) We need to help others by giving them hope and maybe even be hope for them. Remember the story from Exodus 17 when Israel defeats the Amalekites? As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand the Israelites were winning. When he got tired and dropped his hand, the Amalekites started winning the battle. So Aaron and Hur helped Moses by getting him a rock to sit on and holding up his hands. Israel won the the battle.
Who do you know that needs hope? I know plenty. Let’s hang on to hope ourselves and take it to others. Maybe even hold someone’s arms up for a while.
So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord! Ps 31:24