We had an excellent time at this year's Valentine Gala and Conference!!! We ate great food!!! We laughed!! We listened to fantastic jazz music!!! We laughed!!! We played games!!! We laughed!!! We danced!!! We listened to great testimonies!!!! We laughed!!! We prayed!!! We listened to a powerful message about marriage!!!
Here is a video of the event. (Thanks to James Sutton for creating the video.)
Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!
PPT Photography has posted the pictures from this year's Valentine Gala. Feel free to visit their site to purchase your pictures.
Michelle makes more money than Michael. Michael nurtures the kids better than Michelle. Michelle is a better leader than Michael. Michael is a better cook than Michelle. Michelle is better at fixing things than Michael. Michael is a better communicator than Michelle.
Unfortunately, these sentences represent the unity destroying competitive nature that exists in many of our marriages. We love each other. However, we are constantly competing against one another. There is no way that we are going to allow our spouse to outdo us.
We have allowed society and all of its hypocritical flaws to turn us against one another. Who says that the man should make more money than the wife? Is it the same society that says equal pay for equal work? Who says that the wife should be the primary care taker of the home? Is it the same society that labels men as helpless couch potatoes? Please do not let society dictate your marriage! What works for James and Jeannette may not work for Sam and Samantha. What works for Sam and Samantha may not work for your home? We have to manage our homes according to the personalities and gifts the Lord has bestowed upon us.
When Priscilla and I first married, I made the mistake of trying to mirror my marriage after a mentor of mine. Since we as well as our wives had totally different personalities, it did not work out to well. While I was trying to mirror him, I was alienating my wife. I had to learn to observe and then apply only those things that would match our personalities.
I also had to learn that my wife is my most precious commodity. She is not my opponent. We are on the same team. The Lord has blessed both of us with gifts and talents that add to the marriage. I do not have to be intimidated by her skills. It is the Lord that gave them to her and He gave her to me. Therefore, instead of competing against her, I should seek ways to unite our gifts and talents into a mighty kingdom building force.
It is together that we rise. As she gets a promotion, we rise. As I grow spiritually, we rise. As she receives recognition in the community, we rise. As I develop my personal and professional skill set, we rise. If I succeed, my wife succeeds. If my wife succeeds, I succeed. We are an inseparable couple that goes through the good, bad and ugly things of life together. We are teammates united in the strength, love and hope of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is not about one individual. It is not about what I can do by myself. It is about what we can do together. It is not about fame and glory. It is about unity and camaraderie. It is about supporting one another. It is about encouraging and uplifting one another. It is about conquering the challenges of life together. It is about ministering to each other's soul. It is about being a house united!!!
Note: We will discuss this topic along with several others on February 15th at the Together We Rise Valentine Conference. This FREE conference starts at 9:30 am at the Marriott Executive Park in Charlotte, NC.
The Valentine Gala will start at 6 pm that evening at the same location. Tickets are just $75 per couple. Come join us for a night of fantastic food, fellow, live jazz and dancing.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the presence of this company, to unite Michael Jones and Michelle Smith in holy matrimony.
Do you, Michael Jones, promise to take Michelle Smith as your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor her, protect her and keep her for better or for worst in sickness and in health until death do you part?
Do you, Michelle Smith, promise to take Michael Jones as your lawfully wedded husband? Do you promise to love him, support him, affirm him, submit yourself unto him and keep him for better or for worst in sickness and in health until death do you part.
I am sure these words sound familiar. They represent our unbridled commitment to one another. Together, we planned to chase our entrepreneurial and corporate America dreams. Together, we planned to raise powerful world changing children. Together, we planned to impact the World for Christ. Together, we planned to travel the world. Together, we planned to live happily ever after.
At some point during the newlywed phase, we unwillingly awoke to the reality of married life. We learned that our spouse has numerous annoying habits. We learned that the unifying of two homes can be very contentious. And we learned that raising children can be a time consuming and draining chore.
In our minds, we start to replay those words. "do you promise to love, honor and keep your spouse in sickness and in health until death do you part." We heard the preacher when he said it, but we really did not pay him any attention. With teary eyes, we simply gazed into the eyes of our fiancé and said "I do". And now after years of unmet expectations, we are having second thoughts.
Whether you have been married two months or twenty years, we encourage you to put away the second thoughts. Yes, all marriages have their mountain top and valley moments. The key is what you do in the valley. Do you wallow in self-pity? Do you attack one another? Do you search for a way to terminate the marriage? Instead of focusing on the negative, we encourage you to persevere as you look upward and inward.
As you look upward, ask the Lord to pour His wisdom down upon you. He is the one who has created marriage. Therefore, he knows how to guide you through the various pitfalls of marriage so that your mountain top moments will outnumber your valleys.
As you look inward, identify your contribution to the issues in your marriage and start fixing them. My wife and I learned long ago, that we cannot fix one another. We can encourage one another to make changes but we cannot make each other do anything. Change comes from within. If I am going to change an annoying habit that is robbing our marriage of zest and vitality, I have to make up my mind that I am going to change it. She cannot make me do it. She can only control the way she reacts to my annoying habit
Well what do I do while my spouse is going through their metamorphous? Pray!!! And then once you are finished, pray some more!!! And then once you are finish with that prayer, pray some more!!! The bible says that the fervent effectual prayers of the righteous availeth much!!! (James 5:16)
While you are praying, don't allow your valley experiences to erase the memories of your mountain top experiences. Let your mind go back to the time you first fell in love. Break out the pictures that captured the last mountain top experience. Don't allow the issues of today to destroy the commitment you made on your wedding day.
Like Al Green said "Oh let's, let's stay together. Lovin' you whether, whether times are good or bad, happy or sad." All marriages will endure some hard times. However, they do not have to signal the end of your marriage. Persevere through the valley so that you can enjoy the next mountain top.
Note: We will be discussing this topic along with several others on February 15th at the Together We Rise Valentine Conference. This FREE conference starts at 9:30 am at the Marriott Executive Park in Charlotte, NC.
The Valentine Gala will start at 6 pm that evening at the same location. Tickets are just $75 per couple. Come join us for a night of fantastic food, fellow, live jazz and dancing.
Click here to register.
Click here to pay: (Select: Valentine’s Gala 2013 | All payments are due by February 10th, 2013)
Hotel Reservations – Room block of 10 ROOMS (Special Discount rate of $85.00 up to February 5th, 2013)
Charlotte Executive Marriott | 5700 West Park Drive Charlotte, NC 28217 | (704) 527-9650 | thecharlottemarriott.com
Reservation code: Core Church Valentine’s Gala
Do you remember when you were a kid and you could not wait to open your presents on Christmas morning? Do you remember waiting on all of your friends to show up for your birthday party? Do you remember playing all day and night with your cousins at your grandparent's house? Do you remember the since of excitement you felt as you waited to play your first baseball, basketball, softball or football game of the season? Do you remember how nervous you were prior to your dance and/or music recital? Do you remember when you fell in love with your future spouse and you could not wait to marry them? Do you remember when you anxiously went to the doctor in anticipation that he would confirm your pregnancy?
As we embark upon a new year, it is a time of reflection. How did we do last year? Did we accomplish our goals? Are we better off now than at the beginning of the year?
If you are like us, you also pull out the scrap book, cell phone or tablet and take a look at those pictures of all the joyous and monumental moments of the previous year. You laugh at all of the silly things the kids did throughout the year. You rejoice over the way in which God blessed you and your family. You cry at the passing of a cherished friend or family member.
Personally speaking, it is these "Do You Remember When…" moments that makes life worth the living. Sure nice cars, houses, clothes and financial peace are nice; however, they pale in comparison to the precious "Do You Remember When…" moments of life. They are the moments that arrest our hearts and make us fall in love with our spouse. They are the moments that warm our hearts on the cold dreary day and motivate us to fight when we feel like giving up.
As you make your New Year's Resolution, please add some "Do You Remember When…" opportunities to your list. Do not overburden your calendar with so many work, church and school activities that you forget to enjoy life. You only get one 2013. Don't wake up on January 1, 2014 wondering where it went. Make plans now to enjoy yourself, your children, your extended family, friends and your marriage.
Make it a point to celebrate the small and large victories of life. Go out to dinner. Go to Chuck-e-Cheese. Go to the movies. Go on a trip. Restore your relationship with an estranged family member or friend. Whatever you decide to do, take the time to create some "Do You Remember When…" moments!
Don't wait until a tragedy strikes you or your family! Enjoy one another now!
In John 10:10, the bible says that Jesus came to give us life and give it more abundantly. Not only did Jesus come to give us eternal life, He came that we might enjoy life on earth as well. Don't waste the gift that the Lord has given us. Take the time to enjoy 2013 as you create some "Do You Remember When…" moments.
Are you frustrated with you and your spouse's inability to resolve your differences? Could your marital communication use a fresh tune-up? Your marriage does not have to be a series of unresolved conflicts. Stop those inevitable conflicts from turning into heavy weight boxing matches. Come learn how to resolve them in a positive productive manner.
For questions, feel free to send an email to email@example.com.
Please RSVP by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: Cost = FREE!!!!!!!!!! We will not meet on Thanksgiving)
When I picked my youngest son up from school last week, he jumped in the car smiling from ear to ear. Before he could buckle his seat belt, he excitedly said "Daddy I am on green! Can we go to Walmart"?!?!?! By green, he was eluding to the smiley face he received for good behavior. If they are very good for the day, they receive a green smiley face. If they are moderately good, they receive a yellow smiley face. If they are bad, they receive a red smiley face.
Last year, we took Nehemiah to Wal-Mart if he managed to obtain green smiley faces for the entire week. Although this is a new school year, Nehemiah EXPECTED the same treatment he received last year.
Many of us are the same way in our marriages. We expect our spouse to do certain things for us that a previous spouse or boyfriend did for us. We want him to express himself like our previous spouse. We want her to listen to music like our previous girlfriend. We want him to make love to us like our previous boyfriend. We want her to encourage us like our previous girlfriend.
If we can take that one step further, some of us want our marriage to mirror our parents. Our parents had a wonderful marriage. So if we do what they did, we would be alright. If she could cook like my momma, then we would be alright. If he could fix things around the house like my daddy, then everything would be alright.
Unfortunately life does not work like that. Just because it worked for our parents or a previous relationship, does not mean it will work for us. Each relationship is unique with its own DNA. We can learn from the positives and negatives of our parents as well as our past relationships. However, we cannot expect our current relationship to be the perfect compilation of all that is good from other relationships.
The bible says that a man shall LEAVE his mother and father, CLEAVE unto his wife and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24). In order to leave and cleave, we must step away from our past and embrace our future. We must take the time to build our own unique relationship full of its own unique characteristics, victories, pain, love, disappointments, joy and memories. Does that mean that we can't learn anything from our parents and our past relationships? Does that mean that we must abandon our memories? No; we must simply examine them through the microscope of our new relationship.
We do not have to manage our money the way our parents managed their money. We do not have to go to the movies weekly just because our ex-boyfriend took us to the movies weekly. We do not have to watch sports with our new girlfriend just because our last girlfriend was a sports nut. Instead, let's appreciate our spouse for the unique love, joy and skills they bring to the relationship.
Does that mean that we should not have any expectations? No. It simply means that we should filter those expectations through the colander of wisdom. As they say in the stock market infomercials, "Past Performance Is Not Indicative of Future Success".
Do you remember when you were a kid and you could not wait for your birthday to arrive? You were so excited! You were going to have a birthday party at McDonalds and all of your friends and cousins were going to be there! They would bring cool presents and tell you that you were special! You would eat ice cream and cake and play in the Play Center! You were EXPECTING to have a great time!
Most of us had similar expectations during our engagement period. We were exuberant about the new life we were soon to embark upon! We would live in harmony with our new spouse! We would talk all day and make love all night – multiple times a week! We would laugh with one another while sharing our most intimate thoughts!
We also had expectations of starting a family and buying a house. Like your dad, when something broke around the house, you expected your new husband to fix it. In addition, you expected him to make enough money to pay for your needs and most of your wants. Likewise you expected her to have dinner ready when you got home, take care of the laundry and clean the house.
Many of our expectations were birthed out of our observance of our parents. If it worked for them, it should work for us. Then there are some things we refused to emulate because we witnessed the heartache and pain it caused our parents.
Then there were those expectations that we learned from society as a whole. If we could be like Heathcliff and Clair Huxtable of the Cosby Show, then we would have the perfect marriage. They never argued. They had wonderful kids. They had plenty of money. And they always had fun.
Unfortunately, our marriage could not match the "made for television" world of the Huxtables. We have unmet expectations and we do not understand why. We are not asking for that much. Our parents met one another's expectations. Our first spouse met our expectations. Our ex-boyfriend and girlfriend met our expectations. (Then why are we not with them anymore.) Why can't our spouse see how important these expectations are to us? Why can't they see that we are sick and tired of being disappointed?
We all get married with pre-conceived expectations. There is nothing wrong with that. It is those expectations that fuel the passion necessary to speed beyond the mediocre marriage to the exhilarating fulfilling marriage. On the other hand, it is the way we manage those expectations that will prevent us from running off the road into a ditch.
So, how are you managing your expectations? Are you holding it in the road? Are you looking at them from a selfish one-sided point of view? Or have you been disappointed so many times that you have locked them in the truck? The way we manage our expectations will influence the level of peace and joy we will have in our marriage? How are you managing your expectations?
Do you trust your spouse with your heart? Do you trust her with your deepest emotions? Do you trust her with you dreams, desires and passions? Do you trust her with your deepest most intimate secrets?
For many husbands, the answer is no. We love our spouse but we do not trust them with our heart. In fact, there are some of us who do not trust anyone with our hearts to include ourselves.
We have been hurt in the past by an ex-girlfriend, wife, parent or friend and now we have erected an "emotion-resistant wall" around our heart to prevent any further damage. Whenever someone tries to get close to us, they run into the wall. When they repeatedly knock on the wall to gain entrance, we ignore their request. If the person persists in their attempt to get close to us, we do something to sabotage the relationship.
We are not comfortable with our emotions and we are definitely not comfortable with sharing those uncomfortable emotions with someone else.
Now, please do not misunderstand me. We desperately want to be loved. However, we do not want the emotional risk associated with it. We would rather engage in a semi-emotional relationship that allows us to experience a semblance of love without the risk of our heart being shattered. Unfortunately, many of us trick ourselves into believing that we can experience TRUE LOVE that way. In order to experience the invigorating joy and fulfillment of true love, we must risk heartache. We cannot unite with our spouse spiritually and emotionally if we do not let down "the emotion-resistant wall".
Sure you can engage in a pseudo emotional relationship with sporadic bouts of fervent sexual intercourse. However the physical act is not as exhilarating without the emotional connection. Consistent passionate sex is not birthed out of big breasts, big hips and an erotic mind set. It is the by-product of fulfilling emotional intimacy.
We cannot experience that passion if we do not lower our barriers. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul challenges us to "love our spouse as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it." When married couples read that passage, we naturally think of the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross. It is also important to note that Jesus has provided us with leadership and direction as well. He has also educated us, healed us, cried over us, loved us and Exposed Himself to Heartache for Us.
In Matthew 17:17, Jesus said "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." Jesus was frustrated with his disciples' lack of faith. After years of devoted training, they were still having troubles believing.
Jesus could not have experienced the heartache of this frustration if He had not lowered His "emotion-resistant wall" and allowed the disciples in. He allowed himself to love them wholeheartedly. Although that love caused him despair at times, it was a necessary risk that He was willing to take. Jesus, the perfect example of unfettered love, understood that true love demands that we expose our heart.
What about you? Are you willing to let your spouse in so that she can truly love you? Are you willing to fight the primal instinct to protect your heart so that you can love and truly be loved? Do you trust your spouse with your heart?
He is so nice to me. He attentively listens to what I have to say. He is good looking and he tells me that I look good. He is smart, witty and mature. He has a nice looking car and owns his own house. He has a good job and knows what he wants to do with his life.
But most importantly, we get along so well. Unlike me and my husband, we enjoy spending time with one another talking and laughing. We enjoy sharing our ideas, thoughts and emotions with one another. We enjoy helping one another with the various issues of life.
Frankly speaking, I think I am in love with him and I don't know what to do. I know I don't want to waste my life with my husband. He is never going to change. Why should I waste my life with someone who truly does not appreciate me? Why should I waste my life with someone I am not sure I love anymore?
Like so many husbands and wives, the pizzazz in this person's marriage has fizzled and now the "Grass Looks GREENER on the Other Side of the Fence".
There is a co-worker, friend, old classmate, Facebook friend or church member who has crept into their Love Zone. Yes, they are a Christian and they know that adultery is wrong but the allure of a passionate relationship is tantalizingly tempting. In addition, they are sick and tired of being lonely. They are irritated with their spouse's lack of respect for them. They are frustrated with their spouse's job situation.
They wonder "why should I be miserable"? I deserve a better marriage and a better life.
If this sounds like you, you are right. You do deserve a better marriage and a better life but an affair is not the way. It will merely cause a deep riff in your relationship with the Lord, your spouse and possibly your children. Instead of engaging in an affair that can destroy your relationship with God, why not pull the weeds out of your own lawn. Why not put some fertilizer and lime on the grass on your side of the fence.
Sure, Mr. or Mrs. "Wonderful" has some good attributes but they are not perfect. Once the excitement of the affair dissipates, you will begin to see that the Grass Is Not So Green On The Other Side of the Fence. Their faults will become more apparent. They will unknowingly do things to get on your nerves. You will disagree with one another over an issue and find it hard to resolve. Or even worst, they will get tired of you and terminate the relationship for someone else. What will you do then?
Solomon said "A man who commits adultery with a woman lacks wisdom; whoever does it destroys his own life". (Proverbs 6:23) Don't let the allusion of sin saturated happiness destroy your life. Surrender yourself to the Lord and resist the temptation.