Archive for December, 2011

The Number 1 Post of 2011

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This was by far the most viewed and shared blog of the year. It is from the Facebook Friday series and is entitled “Sweeter Waters?”. I think this blog resonated with so many people because we are aware that we must fiercely guard what is valuable to us. I hope we watch over our own hearts with all diligence and help guard the hearts of the one we love.

There is a word that I am increasingly hearing when I do marriage counseling: Facebook. Currently, the best statistic I can find reports that Facebook is involved in approximately 20% of divorces. What? Yes, you heard me right. Facebook is involved in about 20% of divorces. Facebook is a direct portal for infidelity. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy Facebook. My wife and I both have accounts. It is great to stay in touch with old friends and be involved in other people’s lives, but every good thing can be used for destruction.

Currently, about 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women will have an affair at some point during their lifetime. Many of these will be done through social networking sites, especially Facebook, due to it’s massive amount of members.

There are some relationships that will fall victim to infidelity regardless, but Facebook has definitely opened the door wider and made the path more convenient for people to cheat on their spouse. Why is this? Facebook has made it much easier to keep in touch with “old flings”. Chances are good that relationships from your past are a member of the social networking giant. Communicating with others via Facebook can be done discretely. It is easy to justify relationships on Facebook, and things can start innocently enough. After all, what is the harm of looking at someone’s pictures, chatting, or catching up? A lot actually. If your spouse is in the dark, it is a problem. Casual talking and flirting have high potential to lead to seeing the other person and/or a physical relationship. It is also important to remember that research shows that emotional affairs are just as damaging as physical ones.

So for those of us that are married, how can we protect our relationships? I think we first need to remember that none of us are above temptation. We may be tempted to think other waters are sweeter, but they always turn out sour. When a marriage is struggling, it is easy to think that finding someone else will end the problems. However, the problems simply follow a person to the next relationship where they are met with compounded problems. It is also easy to idealize past relationships, because we have a tendency to remember the good and forget the bad.

When it comes to my marriage, my wife and I have no secrets. We have each others passwords to every online account. We keep all things out in the open. We also set boundaries. Neither of us message members of the opposite sex unless the other is aware. We keep an open line of communication about our relationship. We talk about things that are uncomfortable instead of stuffing them down. We check in to make sure the other person’s needs are being met. We are not naive enough to think our marriage is above temptation, so we are proactive. We try and be vocal about how much we care about one another openly. We also make sure to keep God in the center of our relationship.

No marriage is perfect. Just like anything else in life, marriage is hard work and can be exhausting at times. You definitely get out what you put in. If we allow our relationships to drift and start to neglect our spouse, it is important to remember that there is always another person out there who will be more than happy to provide our spouse with attention.

“I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable.” – G.K. Chesterton

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Best of 2011 – Number 2

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This post is ranked number two in 2011 and was originally posted in November. It is a part of the Apologetic Wednesday series and is titled “A Public Apology.” It is a post that really resonates within my heart because even though Christians serve a perfect being, we remain imperfect.

Sometimes Christians do bad things. It is the sad truth. Can I make a confession? I am a Christian and I have done things that are wrong. I have hurt others, said things I should not have said, had thoughts that should not have gone through my mind.

Let’s face it. Sometimes Christians can even be mean, judgmental, hypocritical, condemning and a whole lot of other nasty adjectives.Yes, Christians can be a crummy lot at times. Christians can even get on my nerves at times.

I have heard people make statements such as, “Why should I embrace Christianity? Look at how Christ’s followers act.” That is a legitimate concern, and I can understand where people are coming from when they say such things. Christians have messed up through the ages (Inquisitions and Crusades) and still mess up today. We need to ask though, is it fair to blame God for the mistakes of his followers? You see, Christians are still humans. They have the same problems, evil desires, and fall short just the same as non-Christians.

Just because Christians mess up, does not taint who God is. All of the events in history where Christians behaved badly go contrary to the teachings of Christ. The Inquisitions, crusades and other horrible things done in the name of Christ go counter to what Christ taught. Christians today who are judgmental, hypocritical, condemning, and so on, are not living out what Jesus taught. Jesus taught love, humility, service, giving, and compassion.

When people become Christians, they don’t become perfect. They still mess up and have problems. This is the beauty of Christianity. God loves us in spite of who we are. He doesn’t love us because of who we are or what we do. He loves us because of who He is. If believers are walking in Christ you should definitely notice a progressive change for the good. You should be able to see love and compassion in their lives. I realize this is not always the case, and for that I am sorry.

Don’t let a bunch of broken, fallen, sinful people called Christians keep you from knowing the God of the universe. So, if you have ever been hurt by a Christian and this left a bad taste in your mouth toward God, I am sorry. I would like to apologize for myself and my fellow Christians. I am sorry about the time you felt judged. I apologize for the times we come across as hypocritical. I am sorry about the time you were devalued and looked down upon. I am sorry for the guy on the side of the road with a sign that says “God hates gays.” I am sorry you experienced abuse from the hands of a Christian. I want to personally apologize for any maltreatment you have ever received from a Christian. Please, forgive us.

I hope that you won’t let Christians keep you from knowing God. We mess up too. Forgive us.

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. – I John 4:8

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Best of 2011 – Number 3

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Today, we have reached number three in the countdown of the most popular posts in 2011. This post was first posted in October and began the Facebook Friday series. It is entitled “Addicted to Love.” Sorry for the picture, but sometimes you have to be shocked into hearing something.

Well, it is our very first “Facebook Friday.” This picture was inspired by all the tweens (and the not so tweens) who find it necessary to confess their undying love to the world for the person they met three days ago.

“Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.” That seems to be the mantra our society chants. I mean, after all, “All you need is love” (bum bum bumpadum). Is the love that we are addicted to really love? We use the word for everything from, “I love to eat bearclaws from the donuts palace” (these are the nectar of the gods) to “I love my friends, to “I want to hop in the sack with you” (and I am not talking about a two person sack race). Love has become one word with a multiplicity of meanings.

The ancient Greeks (with all their brilliant philosophizing philosophers) were smart enough to know one word for love would not do, so they broke it down into four separate kinds of love: affection, friendship, romance, and unconditional love. Each of these types of love have their place to be used individually, but for a love relationship (I want to date you, marry you, spend my life with you love) all four must be present.

Think of love like a chair. Obviously chairs have four legs (I see where he is going with this). If one leg is missing you have a wobbly chair. If two legs are missing the chair does not stand. What we see in society are people trying to have relationships that won’t support themselves. They are trying to sit in a chair with one or maybe two legs. That just won’t work.

Mainly, we focus on the romantic form of love or more specifically the “I want to sleep with you” form of love. Then we wonder why the chair is broken and we get hurt. Can I be the voice of reason? We are trying to sit in a chair with one leg. That never works.

For lasting dating (remember, you marry who you date) or marital relationships, all four types of love must be present. All four legs must be there or it will be dysfunctional. Romance and affection are nice, but it eventually hits a cold season. If the unconditional love or commitment isn’t there you will find yourself jumping from one relationship to another whenever it gets difficult. If the relationship is all friendship, it gets dull without the romance or passion. If all that is there is the commitment, you will find that you have a nice (probably expensive) roommate.

Are you married? Work on cultivating all four types of love. Are you dating? Well stop trying to sit in chairs with one or two legs. I promise, it won’t work. Get four on the floor. That is how relationships are meant to be.

Might as well face it…we’re addicted to love. Let’s make sure it’s the right kind of love.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.

Best of 2011 – Number 4

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We are still counting down the most viewed blogs of 2011. This one is entitled: “I Done Been Pooped On.” It is number four on our countdown and was originally posted in November. It is one of my great, not so great, memories. Kids teach us lessons we will never forget.

This past Thursday, Devon and I ran errands most of the day in Beaumont. We were heading to the mall (you can’t not go to the mall if you are in Beaumont) when we heard “the noise” coming from the back seat. Hayden makes this distinct grunt when he is in the process of making his special mud pie recipe. We get to the mall and Devon announces “oh boy, it is a cracker packer” (this is our term for a diaper so full that any wrong movement will cause it to shoot/squirt/ooze out of the diaper).

So,we go into emergency management mode. She grabs Hayden and I grab a diaper, wipes, and open the hatch to the back of our SUV. She lays him in the back, and we go to work like an EMT about to try and revive a patient. Devon makes one wipe, I grab the diaper and dispose of it in a bag. We are practically out of the woods. Before I could get another diaper under him, he decides to turn back on the soft serve machine and poops everywhere. I go to put a diaper under him and he poops on me. Devon moves to the other side of the SUV to get him away from the poop and he poops on her. So here we are, Hayden has poop all over him, I have poop all over me, Devon has poop all over her, and there are three rather large doo doo pies on the carpet in the back of my car. By this time, I am not frustrated. I am way past that. It was a pooptastrophe. We now refer to it as the poopocalypse of 2011.

So what did we do? We cleaned him up. We cleaned ourselves up. Then we walked through the mall poop free. Late that night, I cleaned the carpets in the car. We all laughed about it much later that evening. As Hayden was laying there, he was pretty helpless. It was pretty chilly that day, and Hayden was laying naked in the back of the car, covered in poop, shaking from the cold. He needed someone to clean him up.

On the drive home as I thought about this whole event, I couldn’t help but think about myself. God comes to us in the same way. There we are, covered in poop, and if we are willing, He cleans us up. He gives us a new set of clothes. Just like a Dad, He has compassion on us, and He wipes us clean. He shows us kindness if we let Him. I am so thankful that He cleaned me up. Now that I am clean and have a new set of clothes, I want to let Him know how thankful I am.

“God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” – Romans 2:4

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Best of 2011 – Number 5

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Since it is the last week of the year, we are counting down the most viewed blog posts of 2011, beginning with the fifth most popular post.This was part of the Facebook Friday series entitled “Have Your Private Parts Become Your Public Parts.”

How recognizable is this picture? The “ever so casual, hold my camera from above, and lean over a bit, exposing my cleavage, but not focusing exclusively on said cleavage, so people will find me attractive, but not overly trashy” shot. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a picture like this on Facebook I could afford to have my own Island built somewhere in the South Pacific and stocked with a never ending supply of pastries (bear claw anyone?) and Diet Coke.

We get it. You have breasticas. Just like the other 3.5 billion women in the world. Just because you have them does not mean everyone wants to see them. I wish we could all understand the chasm that divides love and lust is vast. Ladies, you do not have to show skin to get attention. Guys, our lustful lust is crippling our ability to truly love and have a true connectedness with women. I work with so many men all the time having to untangle problems in their relationships because they never figured out how to love. They only learned how to lust. Lust promises something big and under-delivers in a colossal way.

I wish I could say it is only adolescents (with their crazy out of control hormones) that post pictures that devalue themselves. I wish it was only the teenage guys that have a lust problem. Truth is, this post applies to people of all ages. But surely Christians don’t struggle in this area? I wish that were the case. Brothers and sisters, lets get this whole love/lust thing figured out because it is killing our capacity to truly loved and be loved.

Speaking as a guy and a counselor, I know so many men that desperately struggle to keep their hearts pure. I can’t count the guys I have talked to who deleted their Facebook account because women (yes even Christian women) were posting pictures of themselves that made it easier to lust. Sure, when a man lusts it is his choice and his problem. I get that. But please don’t make it easier. My wife knows not to bring cheesecake home if I am trying to watch what I eat. It is my choice if I eat it, but that would be setting me up for failure.

Guys, what if we gave women the respect they deserve? What if we related to them as sisters. What if we worked to keep our eyes straight, our minds clear, and our hearts pure. What if we served women instead of serving ourselves?

I realize women lust too (as a matter of fact 17% of women struggle with a pornography addiction) but again, I am speaking as a guy. So ladies, please keep your private parts just that, private. Guys, don’t let your eyes linger. Maybe if we fixed this love/lust problem our lives would be different. Our relationships stronger. Our walk with God closer. Our ability to truly love intact.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. – Ephesians 5:3

Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.
Josh

Disclaimer: I felt dirty posting this picture.

Remember the Hope

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Today has been wonderful. I have spent the entire day being lazy with my wife and son. No schedule. No work. No school. No stress. It has been a wonderful Christmas Eve’s Eve.

I absolutely love this time of year. The world seems to be softer and quieter during the few days that surround Christmas. The important things in life take precedence, as they should all year long. Families and friends enjoy time together. The birth of the King is celebrated, and His passion remembered. Today, my heart is brimming with love, joy, and peace. My mind is at rest. My stomach is holding more than it was designed to.

As all is right in my world, I am reminded that this is not so for everyone. For every child that is born, one is lost. For every full stomach, there are several empty. For every child that opens a present on Christmas, there will be plenty that have not known the pleasure of receiving a gift. For some, Christmas is a time of happiness, while others are stooped in despair. Many look on to the next year with excitement, and others dread. We never know where life will take us in a year. Things look up and turn down so quickly.

Life is spent vacillating between hope and hopelessness. Christmas is a time when many feel without hope. They go through the holiday motions, hurting, feeling an ache inside. Tragedy, death, pain, and loss do not set aside their cruelties for the holidays. I hope that this Christmas you find yourself blessed, excited, joyous, with a waltz in your heart, and a smile that cannot be hidden. Yet, I know there are plenty who feel contrary to joy this season, as they endure what life has served them.

Regardless of where we find ourselves, we should be reminded that Christmas is about hope. It is a celebration of hope. For unto us, a Child is born. Unto us, a Son has been given. Without the birth of Christ, we remain as dead men. With the death of Christ, we become alive. Apart from the cross, there can be no hope. Whether times are merry or filled with affliction, I pray we remember the Hope.

Is life difficult this Christmas? Remember the Hope.
Has there been loss? Remember the Hope.
Does your soul ache? Remember the Hope.

One day all will be set right. All tears will be dried. Joy will abound.

Merry Christmas. Remember the Hope

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

This will be my last original post for this year. I am content to end the year with the nice even number of 50 posts. Next week I will be celebrating with my family and enjoying the last remaining days of the year. I plan on re-posting the five most popular blogs of the year next week, then bring us a challenge for the new year after it rolls in! You can also now follow the blog on twitter @walkgood515

Thanks for you that read my thoughts and share your own. My wife gave me a really cool gift. She had all of my writings this year made into a book. It is really neat to flip through the pages and remember my thoughts! I find myself blessed this year! I Hope yours is too! Merry Christmas once again!

Apologetic Wednesday: 37 Million Atheist Know A Myth When They See One…Or Do They?

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Recently, there was a piece on the morning news about a billboard hosted by the American Atheist group. As you can see, the underlying assumption is that Jesus is a myth, and can be likened to Santa Claus or Neptune. This is a completely unjust comparison that strains the limits of credulity.

First, we must remember that an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Yet,when it comes to Santa Clause we have good reason to believe that he does not exist. We have discovered no workshop at the North Pole. There have been no known reported Santa sightings. No elves have appeared on 60 minutes with their faces blacked out willing to out the man in red. There are plenty of “well behaved” children that receive nothing for Christmas.

When it comes to Jesus, we find there is positive evidence that justifies belief. He was an actual historical figure, who was crucified, buried, and His followers sincerely believed, even to the point of death, that He appeared to them after having risen from the dead (all of these facts the vast majority of historical scholars will concede to). We have eyewitness testimony that records His life and the events surrounding Him. Christians will also cite experiential evidence, having experienced Christ throughout their lives. There are also good reasons to believe in God (based on philosophy, cosmology, biology, psychology, etc).

The comparison between Jesus and other mythological figures is a straw man. It completely lacks substance and assumes that people are gullible simpletons who are willing to believe something for no reason. While we cannot prove with absolute certainty that God exists (the same goes for any worldview including atheism) we can be reasonably certain based on what evidence we have.

“The fact that people often use “blind” before “faith” shows that faith is not normally or necessarily blind.” – Sean McDowell

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

A Bright Idea

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Christians do a marvelous job at pointing out how worldly the world is. We spend our time blaming evil for doing evil. We judge the darkness for being dark. The reality, is that everything outside of Christ is performing according to it’s nature.

What if, instead of cursing the darkness for being dark, we that are in Christ do an evaluation of our own hearts? Why are we not shining brighter? Why are we content with good, when we were called to be great?

The world is full of evil, and it will persist in it’s wrongdoings. Darkness is not a substance of it’s own, it is merely the absence of light. Let us that have experienced the light seek to dispel the darkness by simply reflecting the Light.

“Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: The Most Connected, Unconnected People

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Recently, I was with a group of friends, and I suddenly realized I was not really with my friends. I was actually with another group of people, via my smart phone through Facebook. Have you noticed this phenomenon? Walk into any restaurant, scan the room, and see how many people have their faces dimly lit from the scant light of their phone.

It has become common for us to be connected to a vast amount of people, but deeply connected to few. Ignoring the person sitting across from us while giving someone on the internet our time seems to have become the norm. Could this get any more backward? Don’t get me wrong, I love staying connected with people through social networking, especially people that live in other zip codes, states, or countries. Yet, I have to wonder at times, do some of my real-life-in-the-flesh relationships suffer because my mind is absorbed elsewhere? Does social networking cause us to become an inch deep and a mile wide relationally? I think it very easily can, if we aren’t careful.

It is really simple to give the illusion that we are invested in the lives of others, but social networking is a quick fix. You can click “like” or leave a comment in a couple of seconds. It takes a whole lot of time and energy to actually do real life with people.

Maybe we just need a reminder to disconnect from our Facebook enabled phones and reconnect with the person sitting across from us. I promise that news, tweets, status updates, and sports scores can wait an hour or two. Be present. Always be present.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Apologetic Wednesday: Philosophy According to the Black Eyed Peas

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One thing I love about my family is the joy that resides within our home, as well as how that joy spontaneously erupts at unexpected times. In the Fults’ house, we often have impromptu dance sessions. Our son, Hayden, loves these times. For him to dance, and see mom and dad jointly involved in the stilted choreography brings his little heart delight.

Our most recent dance party was the result of an infectious song by, none other than, the Black Eyed Peas, entitled “Where Is the Love?”. I had only heard this song a few times before, but as we danced I also listened to the words. I have a habit of paying attention to what people are communicating and remembering lyrics is somewhat second nature to me. As I listened, amidst our spinning and bouncing, I was really taken back by a profound truth in the song. If you will permit me, I’d like to share with you some philosophy according to the Black Eyed Peas. I think reading a few selected portion of the lyrics will be worth the few seconds it takes.

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity

A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover
The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love

There is a tremendous amount of insight packed into this song, but that last line is quite telling. “If you never know truth, then you never know love. Love has meaning when it is grounded in the presence of truth. This is how God loves us, in truth. Scripture reminds us that God is love, and Jesus also affirms that He is the Truth. The two cannot be separated, for without truth there can be no love.

God loves us enough to let us know our hearts are desperately wicked. He loves us enough to not leave us in ignorance about who we are, depraved individuals. He sees in our hearts the wrong that we, at times, deny, and points it out. Sometimes, the truth is offensive, but He cares enough to communicate it to us through love because our best interest is His motivation.

Truth without love is abrasive and condemning. Love without truth is not really love at all, it is merely flattery. Love and truth most coexist, or they become useless.

Are we loving others in conjunction with truth? Are we speaking truth with humility and love? Let’s speak what we know to be true. Why? Because there are many people that need to hear truth motivated out of our love. Fight for truth, but make love your weapon.

“The truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

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