Reviews

Christian Books and Gifts

DaySpring Christian Books and Gifts is an online store offering everything from free e-cards and posts for Social Media to hardcover Bibles, mugs, and other Christian items. As a believer, it’s refreshing to find a place with such variety at such reasonable prices. As a Christian Marriage Mentor–their wedding invitations, cards, and gifts are impressive.

As I review their offerings, several things stand out.

  1. Faith. As a Christian, I love doing business with Christian organizations and DaySpring is one of the best. Their heart for using cards and gifts as ministry tools is obvious. You can read about their philosophy and history HERE.
  2. Relevance. DaySpring is constantly updating their website to offer gifts and materials that fit the season. As I write this review, they are offering a whopping 25% off gifts for graduates as we face the college and High School graduation season.
  3. Price. Unlike some specialty stores, DaySpring offers very reasonable pricing. For example, their marked-down clearance items online are often less expensive than similar items at large department stores like Walmart. I found this classic mug for instance available for under $5.
  4. Variety. I’m amazed at the variety of gifts, stationary, etc. Here’s just a partial list of items found on their website: Illustrated Faith, (in)courageJewelryMugs, Teacups & BottlesHome DecorWall DecorTablewareGift SetsJournals and NotebooksBundles & Care Packages365 Day Perpetual CalendarsFavorite Verses Gifts & CardsOffice & Desktop, Totes, Bags & AccessoriesGifts for KidsBaby Gifts & ClothingCrossesBibles, Devotionals & BooksFlowers by FTDKJV GiftsWillow TreeGift BagsSchool Supplies & Stationery.
  5. Convenience. Not only does DaySpring offer their own items on their website, but as shown above, links to other related products, such as FTD Florists are also included in a “one stop shopping” approach.
  6. Generosity. I love the inclusion of free cards, free posts for social media, and discounted items all with the encouragement to use these things to encourage and give hope to others.
  7. Opportunity. With their partnership and training via. Mary & Martha, DaySpring is encouraging and facilitating entrepreneurship and prosperity for others–especially young women. This is commendable and impressive.

Considering all these items, it is my recommendation that you use DaySpring as a primary gift and stationary source for weddings, and other occasions. Please CLICK HERE for more information!

 

Sincerely,

Pastor Joel

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Dealing with Jealousy in a Relationship

My family and I were traveling in Canada one summer, and as we rounded a curve next to a river, I noticed a man reeling-in a large fish as he was fishing form the bank. I saw the fish jump and it looked pretty big, so I pointed and yelled, “Hey Kids—check that out! Isn’t that awesome?!”

What I had failed to notice in my haste was that the man, an older man in his 70’s or early 80’s, was wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers and a Speedo. “WHAT?” my daughter yelled! “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” my son chimed-in. “Why is an old dude in a Speedo, ‘Awesome’ Dad? Is there something you’re not telling us?”

More than a decade later, I still haven’t lived this down…

Now my wife wasn’t jealous of my supposed interest in the Speedo-clad old man, nor is she the jealous type, but some people are. And, few things can destroy a relationship faster than jealousy.

So…how do you deal with it if your partner is “the jealous type?”

Tips for Dealing With Jealousy

Here are a few tips:

  1. Talk about it. Notice I said, “talk,” not argue. This means finding a time when you feel close and are relaxing together. Then, gently and calmly, ask your partner how you can help them not feel so jealous and insecure about your relationship. Affirm your love and commitment, but sincerely listen to find ways to reassure them and avoid jealous reactions as you move forward together.
  2. Pray about it. Seek God together to avoid unnecessary stress over something that’s probably based on past hurts or false perceptions (as with my Speedo incident). 
  3. Act on it. This may mean some change on your part. Now I’m assuming that your partner has no REAL reason to be jealous. You are faithful and loyal to him/her. Still, if you know your partner is struggling with jealousy, try not to give any reason for jealousy. If you know that hanging out with friends of the opposite sex causes trouble–don’t do it unless your partner is present or you’re in a group setting. Why pour gas on a flame?
  4. Wait on it. It’s been my experience during my 25+ years working with couples that jealousy passes over time. That is, as you establish a track record of faithfulness and closeness, jealousy fades. It just takes patience in the meantime along with a little proactive concern.
  5. Love it. Now I know how that sounds, but there are two thoughts here. First, its the idea that your partner really loves you or he/she wouldn’t care about you being with someone else. It’s a compliment. True, we don’t want it to be excessive or divisive–but it is a little encouraging, right? Second, by “love it,” I mean that you may need to discover your partner’s love language and feed it to provide reassurance and comfort. To read more about love languages, CLICK HERE.

Try these tips, but if they don’t help and you’d like to discuss it with us, please call 860-938-2725 or email office@rissingerrg.com.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

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FREE Marriage Records & Transparency

One of the most popular search phrases on the internet is, “Free Marriage Records.” It ranks right up there with other background check, credit check, and similar searches. And, there are lots of options including companies that offer this service, like Golookup.com, for example.

But why? Why is this such a popular search?

Actually, there are several reasons, but the one that I find most disturbing is that sometimes people find that the person we’re engaged to is already married…or that he/she was and “forgot” to mention it. Or, even if that’s not the case, there is a lack of trust in the relationship such that this type of “checking” seems necessary.

Sad.

But it illustrates a bigger picture need in all relationships–especially with engaged or about-to-be-engaged couples. The need is transparency.

Transparency & Marriage    

Transparency is part of the sacrifice I encourage in my book, “The Crucified Couple.” It’s also part of what I love about Covenant Eyes and similar tools used to help keep relationships free from pornography or inappropriate social media contact with others.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Covenant Eyes sends an email report of all web activity you’ve been involved with to any accountability partner you choose–preferably including your spouse or fiance. If you’d like to try it for 30 days free, our partnership with them gives you that opportunity if you click HERE. It’s the kind of thing you can offer your spouse or fiance to demonstrate that you have–and intend to have–nothing to hide!

I’m a firm believer that since God created marriage to be a divine union where two people truly become one–spiritually, physically, and emotionally; there should be no secrets between us (See Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:8, etc.). Transparency is part of the foundation for a healthy marriage.

So, execute the free marriage record search, the criminal background check, et al. But, if you find that you can’t trust your significant other–don’t marry that person. Find someone you can trust and someone that trusts you enough to be totally, 100% transparent.

To that end,

Pastor Joel

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Couples Relationship Assessment

Sometimes, the best thing a couple can do is participate in a relationship assessment test. This is true before marriage and when things are difficult for you as a couple.

But perhaps your role isn’t so much to improve your own marriage, but to provide relationship help for other couples.

In this case, I’d like to recommend Prepare-Enrich.

Couples Assessment–#1 in the World

I’ve worked with Prepare-Enrich for more than 25 years and can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’re thinking of getting married, or if your a seasoned clergy member or counselor, it’s worth a visit to their website, www.prepare-enrich.com.

With over 4 million couples as benefactors and a track record of helping marriages on multiple continents and in multiple languages, nobody offers what PE offers. In essence, there are two things they provide:

  1. An easy-to-understand breakdown of the couples’ relationship strengths and growth areas in 10 or more primary categories. These include communication, conflict resolution, financial management, sexual relationship, and more.
  2. Multiple tools in a workbook to develop skills in each of these areas.

Sometimes knowledge is the key…along with patience.

A lesson from a formal dinner

When I was in college, we used to have Senior Dinners at the Chancellors’ home. He was a wealthy, austere man and VERY formal. He had gold ware, crystal goblets, waiters—the whole deal. I had no clue which piece of cutlery to start with or which spoon to use. I tried to blow-out the flaming cherries jubilee too.

I was a country boy you know?

On the night of our dinner, my fiancé and I were chartered with leading the group and we were supposed to “keep a lid on” some of the more rowdy students in the group. The Chancellor was prudish and stiff at times too, so I was terrified of being expelled if we blew it.

My worst nightmare came when one of the more attractive women sat across from him and after crossing her legs said, “So Sir, when DID you start noticing women’s legs?”

My heart stopped. Every eye in the room was shifting back and forth from him to me to her…and then it happened…he threw his head back and burst into the most welcome belly-laugh I’ve ever heard.

The tension was broken…and we all lived to tell the story.

My point is that many times, we need to be informed. Programs like PE do that by helping us see our relationship in depth from an unbiased perspective. In addition, we need a sense of humor and perhaps a little luck.

More accurately, we need prayer and a trust in God as the ultimate author of healthy relationships (See Genesis 1:26-27, 2:24, and Ephesians 5:21-33).

An Offer for Counselors and Pastors

So visit the PE site listed above. If you’re a counselor or a Pastor, let me also offer you this. By using this special codePREPARE-TRAIN-2BWPPHH you can receive a $30 discount off of the listed price for online certification as a Prepare-Enrich Facilitator.

To take advantage of this offer, just Click Here. When prompted, enter the promotional code above and you’ll receive the discount. In addition, I’ll send you a FREE COPY of my book, “The Crucified Couple,” just for participating and using this code.

Here’s to healthier relationships!

Blessings,

Pastor Joel


I Need Help With My Porn Addiction

I speak at a number of Christian Men’s conferences and it’s common to hear someone say, “I Need Help With My Addiction to Pornography!” Women will also tell me of their struggles or, in counseling, say, “My husband is addicted to porn.”

Lust is a powerful thing…and porn thrives on that drive. To help people understand this and thus begin to see why we recommend some pretty extreme solutions, I like to tell the story of our neighbor’s rogue stallion.

My friend Gary and I used to love riding horseback. One day, we decided to take a lengthy jaunt around a massive square/block near my house. The only problem was, our horses were mares and we had to pass a pasture where a pretty wild and aggressive stallion lived. Being “macho,” we thought we could handle him if needed—so ride we did.

When we came to the side road where the stallion lived, he immediately started snorting, running, and neighing loudly. I knew we were in trouble right from the start. As we passed by him, he broke through the fence—charging it wildly and ignoring the electric shock it gave him. He wanted our mares—and NOTHING was going to dissuade him.

At first, we tried to outrun him. We ran straight up a steep hill after crossing a bridge over East Coy Creek. My horse was chubby—like her rider—and soon was out of breath. I thought for sure I was doomed because if the stallion got into a fight with my mare, I’d be in the middle of it and, didn’t think I’d fare too well against all the flying hooves.

I prayed for help.

Suddenly, the rogue stallion decided he’d rather have Cupid, my friend’s horse. He snorted—more a roar than a snort—and took off after her with Gary on her back. What that poor horse didn’t realize was that “Cupie” as we called her, was a racer. She loved to run and, to my knowledge had never lost a race. With a kick and a scream from Gary, she was off. My last view of them was the back of the stallion—still trying to catch them in a cloud of dust left by “Cupie’s” hooves.

When I finally caught up with them. All I saw was chaos. Gary had hollered for help as he rode up to his yard. His parents heard it and ran outside to see the stallion racing around loose—eyes glaring, ears back, and insanely obsessed with “Cupie,” who wasn’t having anything to do with him. They called to the neighbors and everyone descended on that poor horse with brooms, ropes, and sticks. They drove him across the road toward another pasture where the neighbors kept a huge appaloosa gelding and two other mares.

Now this appaloosa was not to be trifled with. Tall, with rippling chest muscles and an “attitude,” he didn’t take kindly to this ruffian threatening his mares. The stallion charged the fence and got himself stuck in the barbed wire. This gave his appaloosa nemesis the perfect opportunity to rear back on his hind legs and deliver a bone-crushing “1-2 punch” with both front hooves planted right between the stallion’s eyes. The force of the kick was so strong, it ripped the stallion’s legs and chest free from the barbed wire. He cried a wounded whinny and rolled backwards down an embankment into a creek below. Gary’s dad was able to get a rope around his neck as he lay there stunned…and eventually, he led him home to his owners.

This was more excitement than anyone on Lamont Road had seen in at least a decade….:) Still, it does illustrate the power of sexual drive and temptation–for humans as well as horses.

This why I recommend some pretty tough measures to combat porn addiction. I also want to state firmly that, contrary to popular opinion, I believe porn has NO place in the life of a Christian or a Christian couple. I’ve never seen it benefit anyone–only hurt them. More often than not, I’ve seen it lead to even other, more serious problems physically and spiritually.

So what do I recommend?  Three things:

  1. Block it. We recommend Net Nanny as a means of keeping porn off of your computers and other devices. Here’s a link for more information: NET NANNY. 
  2. Track it.  Sometimes, blocking won’t work. Some sites may use biological or sexual terms and get blocked by most programs even though they are harmless in the “grand scheme of things.” In all cases, tracking web traffic is a wise move for families and individuals wishing to be accountable for what they do/see on the net. I HIGHLY recommend Covenant Eyes. I’ve used this program for years and find it highly credible. CE tracks all internet activity on any computer and reports that traffic to an accountability partner of your choosing. Husbands can have their wives as accountability partner or a pastor, counselor, etc. That knowledge that your accountability partner will see whatever you’ve looked at is often enough of a deterrent to keep you from clicking on a sexual link, etc. Here’s a link for details:  COVENANT EYES.
  3. Get spiritual help for it. I’m glad to consult and you can reach me via the contact links on this site. In addition, I recommend Dr. Neil Anderson’s “Steps to Freedom in Christ.” You can get more information on this program on our resources page.
  4. Network. I strongly recommend participation in men’s conferences where this issue is addressed regularly and other resources are offered. Visit www.ironsharpensiron.org to find out about Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s programs or www.nathanproject.net for information on The Nathan Project or the Men of Valor conferences.

I hope you find this information helpful. Prayerfully and intentionally, I’m convinced anyone can conquer this harmful addiction. Still, until you take it seriously and “dig-in,” prepared to fight, the battle will be virtually overwhelming. Set your mind, get some help using the resources we’ve recommended, contact us if you need more information, and our Lord can and will set you free!

 

To that end,

Pastor Joel

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Best Christian Marriage Book Ever?

When I wrote, The Crucified Couple, I obviously wanted to create one of the best Christian marriage books ever–what author wouldn’t? Still, I know that whether or not readers see it that way, there are certain things we all need in any book on this subject.

What are they?

First, as people of faith, we want to know that the author is truly a person of Christian faith as well. I know that sounds ridiculously obvious, but you’d be amazed how often “Christian” materials are produced by people who have nominal faith…at best.

Next, most of us want to know that the content of the book will include scripture. The author should provide a biblical foundation and explanation of marriage. He/she should show that God created it and why. I believe marriage demonstrates the very nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:24) and the beautiful relationship between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Any good Christian marriage book should include this.

Then, there’s the practical. A good book on marriage should help us with primary issues/challenges faced by most couples. These include sex, money, communication, conflict resolution, parenting, issues with family/friends, and more. Scanning the book’s table of contents can tell you whether or not these things are being addressed.

I also think it’s good for an author to include questions for discussion and prayer. Couples need to use a good marriage book like a workbook–discussing the concepts together to work-through their challenges. Furthermore, any author worth his/her salt will include suggested reading and a good bibliography or at least footnotes with references to others who can help.

Here are some of the books I’ve recommended (besides my own of course…lol). Some of these are directly related to marriage, some just help with specific issues in marriage, such as finances:

  1. Davis, Marilyn-Weiner, Divorce Busting, A Fireside Book; Reprint edition (February 1, 1993), ISBN-10: 0671797255.
  2. Smalley, Gary, Love is a Decision, Thomas Nelson (January 1, 2001), ISBN-10: 0849942683.
  3. Ramsey, Dave, Total Money Makeover, Thomas Nelson; First Edition, (September 11, 2003), ISBN-10: 0785263268
  4. Cymbala, Jim, Merrill, Dean. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.Zondervan 2003, ISBN 0310251532
  5. Anderson, Neil, The Bondage Breaker, Harvest House Publishers; 1 edition (December 15, 2006) ISBN-10:0736918140.
  6. Yellen, Pamela, Bank on Yourself, New York, NY,Vanguard Press, 2009, ISBN 978-59315-496-7
  7. Eggerichs, Dr. Emerson, Love & Respect, Tomas Nelson, 2005, ISBN 10: 1-59145-348-8.

Hope this helps,

Pastor Joel