Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘God’s perspective’

GOD WILL STILL BE IN CHARGE (Tomorrow)

The Counseling Moment editor’s Note:  In the following article, author Max Lucado brings a solid and needed perspective concerning God’s perspective about and His sovereignty over the affairs of humankind — specifically the presidential election in November 2016.  At the same time, we can apply this understanding toward any aspect of life we face (or will face) that has any measure of uncertainty, confusion, and is troublesome to us.

SOURCE:  Max Lucado

Max Lucado: My Prediction for the Presidential Election

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).

On one occasion the Lord turned the heart of the King of Assyria so that he aided them in the construction of the Temple. On another occasion, he stirred the heart of Cyrus to release the Jews to return to Jerusalem.

Nebuchadnezzar was considered to be the mightiest king of his generation. But God humbled and put him in “detention” for seven years. “The kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” (Psalms 22:28).

Understanding God’s sovereignty over the nations opens the door to peace. When we realize that God influences the hearts of all rulers, we can then choose to pray for them rather than fret about them. Rather than wring our hands we bend our knees, we select prayer over despair.

Jeremiah did this. He was the prophet to Israel during one of her darkest periods of rebellion. He was called “the weeping prophet” because he was one. He wept at the condition of the people and the depravity of their faith. He was so distraught that one of his books was entitled Lamentations. But then he considered the work of God. Note the intentionality of his words:

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:21-23)

Imitate Jeremiah. Lift up your eyes. Dare to believe that good things will happen. Dare to believe that God was speaking to us when he said: “In everything God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

Many years ago, I spent a week visiting the interior of Brazil with a long-time missionary pilot. He flew a circuit of remote towns in a small plane that threatened to come undone at the slightest gust of wind. Wilbur and Orville had a sturdier aircraft.

I could not get comfortable. I kept thinking that the plane was going to crash in some Brazilian jungle and I’d be gobbled up by piranhas or swallowed by an anaconda.

I kept shifting around, looking down, and gripping my seat. (As if that would help.) Finally, the pilot had had enough of my squirming. He looked at me and shouted over the airplane noise. “We won’t face anything I can’t handle. You might as well trust me to fly the plane.”

Is God saying the same to you? If so, make this your prayer:

Dear Lord,

You are perfect. You could not be better than you are.

You are self-created. You exist because you choose to exist.

You are self-sustaining. No one helps you. No one gives you strength.

You are self-governing. Who can question your deeds? Who dares advise you?

You are correct. In every way. In every choice. You regret no decision.

You have never failed. Never! You cannot fail! You are God! You will accomplish
your plan.

You are happy. Eternally joyful. Endlessly content.

You are the king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, overlord, and rajah of all history.

An arch of your eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute. Every throne is a footstool to yours. Every crown is papier–mâché to yours. No limitations, hesitations, questions, second thoughts, or backward glances. You consult no clock. You keep no calendar. You report to no one. You are in charge.

And I trust you.

When Life Doesn’t Turn out Like It’s ‘Supposed to’

SOURCE:  relevantmagazine.com/Ashley Eure

How to not worry about meeting other people’s expectations.

I’m a single female in my late twenties. So I’m in that stage of life where I literally cannot open Facebook without seeing another couple engaged or pregnant. I’ll be honest, there are days where it irks me so much I have to get off social media.

It’s because of “the list.”

That’s right, society has a list.

It’s a checklist of: “you are this far along in life, therefore you should have achieved these things.” For the post-grad the list is: an immediate steady job that can be transitioned into a long-term career, if possible in a cool hipster city. For young marrieds it’s a baby and a cute home. It seems that for a single woman my age it’s a husband, a steady boyfriend… or at least some exciting dating life worth bragging about. If you don’t have these things, you are woefully behind in life and worthy of pity or shame.

It can be paralyzing. And demoralizing. The more you look at “the list” the more boxes seem to be unchecked in your own life. Everyone’s great life news is suddenly eclipsed by the feeling of being left behind and left out.

I know I’m not alone in this. When I graduated college and grad school it seemed as if the majority of people I knew went through some sort of disillusioned frustration that termed the “quarter-life crisis.”

We all felt that if we jumped through all the college hoops and played our cards right, we were entitled to check the life boxes of “stable job” and “clear career decision” off our life lists immediately upon graduation. The reality was that it rarely works like that, and as a result many felt like society (or even God) had sold us a bill of goods.

The truth is, “the list” is a lie.

Society claims that these achievements—relationship status, careers, income, location—are the benchmarks of success and meaning and self-worth. That’s simply not true. Our worth is in who Jesus says we are—and He says we were worth dying for.

There was a time in my life where I felt like God stripped away all the things I tend to place my identity in besides Him. It was like He unchecked every box, and then looked at me and said, “If I tell you now—with none of these achievements to your name—that I love you and that you are worthwhile and important, will you believe me?” That question was difficult to answer. I had to fill my head with the truth of what the Bible says in order to undo the damage all the world’s lies had done to my self-worth.

Here are just a few of the other things the Bible says we are:

• A dearly loved child of God (Col. 3:12)
• A co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17)
• A conqueror (Romans 8:37)
• God’s workmanship, created for good works (Eph. 2:10)
• Chosen (Eph. 1:4)
• Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

The list goes on and on. If you are also feeling plagued by “the list” you are not alone. I know how holidays and time-markers like the start of a new year can amplify the unchecked boxes.

Let’s fill ourselves with the truth of who God says we are, what He says are the important check marks in life (hint: they don’t include a white picket fence and 2.5 kids). Let’s do our best for Him moment by moment and leave our worth for him to determine.

And when we start to look to the list, let’s fill each other up with truth again.

The Same Old Argument

SOURCE:  Jeff Kemp/Family Life

It seemed like the 1948th time we’d had the same exchange. But the solution this time was different.

What happened was silly.

I was downstairs and opened a bill.  Since my wife handles our bills, I ran upstairs to discuss it with her.  I bounded into the room where she was engrossed on the computer.  She was re-watching a 600+ slide show of wedding photos to find a particular photo.  I interrupted her and when she waved me off, I did not take the clue and told her we could handle this quickly.

Unfortunately, I ignored and flustered her, causing her to lose her place and end the slide show.  She was upset and told me so.

I justified myself.

She reiterated her disappointment.

I weakly said, “Sorry.”

She explained how she felt, and the inconvenience I’d caused.

I said, “Don’t freak out.”

Things got worse. Duh!

The conflict was growing and I stood there defending myself in my heart, looking blandly at her, while thinking about how often we have this stupid disagreement.  Finally I zipped my lip and went downstairs.

When I sat in my chair I thought, That is about the 1,948th time we’ve had that exchange.

I began a conversation with God that went something like this.

God, why does that happen so much?  I meant well, but then I offended her, then I hurt her, then I made it worse.

The thought God gave me in return was this:  Jeff, you’re more upset that you had the conflict than you are that you inconvenienced her.  And you’re more upset that you had the conflict than that you hurt her feelings by defending yourself and showing no real empathy. You always want her to adjust and accept you.  You ask for less of these instances of offense and conflict, but you should be asking Me to help you change.  You need to want to not hurt her more than you want to not feel bad that you messed up.

Wow … That led to a very introspective and intense prayer time, and a decision.  I aimed to change so that I could be a better apologizer, be less defensive, and truly be more interested in Stacy’s feelings than my own.

I went upstairs, got down on a knee next to her, and told her I was wrong to not apologize fully at first.  I was wrong not to want to hear from her how I had inconvenienced her.  I was wrong to defend myself.  I did not care for her feelings well, and I want to.

I concluded with four things:  “I was wrong.  I am sorry.  Will you please forgive me?  I want to change.”

Stacy teared up in a good way and swiftly loved me back with her forgiveness, her own apology, and a hug.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Excerpted from Facing the Blitz, copyright © 2015 by Jeff Kemp.

 

What is the TRUTH about me?

SOURCE:  Living Free/Martha Homme, MA, LPC

“I have to be perfect.”
“I must have everyone’s love and approval.”
“I’ll be a social outcast unless I lose weight.”

Irrational beliefs like these can lead to unhappiness, depression and eating disordered behaviors. These misguided beliefs often come from basing truth on our own thoughts, feelings, experiences and expertise … or on what other people say and think.

There is only one place we can be sure to find truth: in the Bible. Jesus said that he is the truth. We can never know the truth of our worth, our circumstances, our wants and needs, our rights and responsibilities, or our purpose unless we first hear truth from Jesus, the author of truth. “Jesus told the people who had faith in him, ‘If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” John 8:31-32 CEV

Have you accepted Jesus as truth? Are you looking to him for truth? You can find the truth by reading the Bible. By talking to God. By inviting Jesus into your life.

What is the truth about you?

The Bible says that you were designed by God … you are his treasure … you are loved unconditionally by him … Jesus died for your sins and you can be forgiven, no matter what you have done. God has a good plan and a special purpose for your life. And that is real truth.

Father, please forgive me for looking everywhere except to you to find the truth about me and my life. Help me to stop basing my beliefs on my emotions and on what other people think about me. Teach me to look to you and to learn the real truth in the Bible. In Jesus’ name …. . .

————————————————————————————————————————————–


These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC

Q&A: What’s the Big Deal With Porn?

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article at  Relevant Magazine/Eddie Kaufholz

QUESTION:  I get that porn is frowned upon, but why is it such a big deal to look at it since it doesn’t seem like it’s “as bad” as premarital sex? I mean, if you think about it, it may be corrupting you, but it’s not messing up someone else, just you.

So what’s the big deal?

– Cody

I must begin this answer with a disclaimer: I will fail to fully address this topic. The pandemic issue of pornography is so complex that to fully understand the spiritual ramifications, psychology, economics, and victimization that it causes is more than can be covered in a single advice column.

Having said that, I’m going to specifically answer just your question, Cody. And despite my desire to write a book for you on the sweeping devastation of porn and how a person can begin to escape the throes of this addiction, I’m going to do my best to just stick with your inquiry. So, let’s get to work…

Cody, you’ve asked a fair question: “Why is it such a big deal…”? Well, on a theological level, it’s sin—and sin is a “big deal” (see Romans 6:23). You see, every time a person engages in the consumption of pornography, they’re sinning on multiple levels:

First, they’re having an affair—yes, like the gigantic, devastating kind of affair. Put more clearly: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” —Jesus (Matthew 5:28)

While there may be screens or magazine pages between the victim and the consumer, the mind, heart and body are still behaving in similar ways.

However Cody, you may be saying, “Wait a sec, I’m single, I can’t have an affair. So again, what’s the big deal?” Well, by the letter of the law, I suppose you’re accurate in saying that an affair by definition requires one married person in the equation.

However, there’s also a second level:

“Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”” —Paul (1 Corinthians 6:16)

And here’s where the problem gets really intense.

When a person sleeps with anyone they’re not married to, they may have a belief that it’s just sex. It’s not love or romance, it’s just an opportunity to engage in the most primal of urges, to have fun, to test drive the car. The kicker is, sex is a deeply spiritual act. And unlike animals, God hard-wired in us the opportunity to join emotionally and spiritually as a result of our physical union. We can’t turn the connection off, and those who say they can are lying to themselves. You can’t not be human, it is not possible for us to just be animals and copulate. We become one flesh—it’s our design.

Which leads us back to porn. When someone is engaging in the consumption of pornography, they’re knocking at the door of a real physical connection. And while there may be screens or magazine pages between the victim and the consumer, the mind, heart and body are still behaving in similar ways.

Engaging in pornography is so addictive not just because it alleviates some sexual tension—but because for a moment, it makes the person feel human, loved, spiritually connected, not alone. And it’s those feelings that, when appropriately expressed and realized within the context of marriage, are breathtaking. But when they’re tapped into via a fleeting moment of internet content, there is no question that what’s happening is well outside of any reasonable definition of God’s hope and design for sex.

Cody, pornography is a huge problem for so many reasons. I decided to go with one of the theological routes, but there are endless paths we could have walked down together.

For instance, the problem of porn is staggering not just because of the heart and mind of the consumer, but because there are countless men and women producing this content who are deep in the throes of sexual exploitation and prostitution. Former porn star Shelley Lubben has compiled some vital and sad statistics, which you can read here. These people need our prayer, and they need for people to stop supporting their demise by buying their product. Pornography is also detrimental to future intimacy, in part because it rewires your brain to constantly move from image to image. And the list of problems goes on and on.

However, I want to leave with this: Knowing why pornography is wrong is never going to make anyone stop engaging in it.

It may guilt, shame, and subsequently white-knuckle them into trying to stop. But until a person gets deeper into their story and starts to realize why there’s such a need for connection (and where that connection has been lost) they will never be able to break this addiction.

If you are reading this and you want to stop, but can’t, tell somebody. Meet with a support group, a pastor, a counselor or really anyone you trust. There’s no amount of head knowledge or fact-finding that will suddenly jar you into abstaining. What will break the cycle of addiction is getting open and honest, and finally getting free.

Cody, I really do appreciate you asking this question. I don’t know what your story is or if you were just emailing a hypothetical question. But in the off-chance that this question was personal, please know that there are countless men and women who have recognized what a big deal pornography is, and have subsequently changed their lives. If that’s your reality, know that there’s hope, and that many people will be praying for you and for the bravery it’ll take to ask for help.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/what%E2%80%99s-big-deal-porn#3Y4wXlGPH46xrZ2Y.99

 

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MALE BODY IMAGE ISSUES

Source:  The Gospel Coalition/Joe Carter

Body image is the mental representation we create of what we think we look like; it may or may not bear a close relation to how others actually see us. Body image issues are often treated as if they were only a problem for women (see here for 9 Things on female body images issues). But men suffer from many of the same debilitating problems caused by skewed perceptions of their bodies. Here are nine things you should know about male body image issues:

1. When it comes to weight concerns, a key difference between young men and young women is that females want to be thinner, while males tend to feel pressure to gain weight. “There are some males who do want to be thinner and are focused on thinness,” says Dr. Alison Field, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, “but many more are focused on wanting bigger or at least more toned and defined muscles. That’s a very different physique.”

2. One common body image problem for men is dissatisfaction with their muscularity (i.e., with having well-developed muscles). Research suggests that exposure to the media ideal of muscularity, and not muscularity per se, elicits body dissatisfaction in men with pre-existing muscularity concerns.

3. According to The Atlantic, even toys contribute to the distorted messages boys receive about the ideal male form. In the last decade or two, action figures have lost a tremendous proportion of fat and added a substantial proportion of muscle. “Only 1 or 2 percent of [males] actually have that body type,” says Dr. Raymond Lemberg, a clinical psychologist and expert on male eating disorders. “We’re presenting men in a way that is unnatural.”

4. Muscle dysmorphia – a pathological preoccupation with muscularity – appears to be a form of body dysmorphic disorder with a focus on muscularity (bodybuilders sometimes refer to this condition as “bigorexia”). One study found that those with muscle dysmorphia were more likely to have attempted suicide, had poorer quality of life, and had a higher frequency of any substance use disorder and anabolic steroid abuse.

5. A national study of adolescent boys published in JAMA Pediatrics found that males with high concerns about thinness but not muscularity were more likely to develop high depressive symptoms. Males with high concerns about muscularity and thinness were more likely than their peers to use drugs, and males with high concerns about muscularity who used supplements and other products to enhance physique were more likely to start binge drinking frequently and using drugs

6. Nationwide, about 4 percent of male high school students have taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription. The prevalence of having ever taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription was higher among Hispanic (4.2 percent) than white (2.8 percent) and black (2.3 percent) students.

7. A survey in the U.K. found that four out of five men confess to being unhappy about their body. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would trade a year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight or shape.

8. Research studies have found that approximately 4 percent of male college undergraduates are at risk for an eating disorder. The proportion of the male population estimated to have a condition at some point in their lifetime is 0.3 percent for anorexia nervosa, 0.5 percent bulimia nervosa, and 2.0 percent for binge eating disorder.

9. The only complete way to overcome the problem is to have our beliefs about body image transformed by the Holy Spirit. As Heather Davis Nelson says in the Journal of Biblical Counseling:

In pursuing worldly beauty, we strive to become this elusive image in place of who we really are. You and I are created in the image of the living God. Our purpose is to reflect His image to the world. But since the fall, we let the world inscribe its image on us. It is the very picture of sin and ultimately death. Instead of being transformed to God’s image, we conform to the world’s image. We are hopelessly stuck in a lifeless cycle, exchanging God for the creature as our object of worship. But God in His mercy rescued us! In love, God sent Jesus Christ to take on the consequences of our idolatrous affair. He became sin so that we might become righteous. In Christ, God gives us freedom from sin’s power now and hope for its eradication in heaven. God makes you beautiful with the beauty of His Son, Jesus. It is in gazing at God’s image in Jesus Christ that you are transformed. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, (sisters) in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FEMALE BODY IMAGE ISSUES

SOURCE:  The Gospel Coalition/Joe Carter

Body image is the mental representation we create of what we think we look like; it may or may not bear a close relation to how others actually see us. Here are nine things you should know about female body image issues:

1. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty hired a criminal sketch artist to draw women as they see themselves and as others see them. The social experiment revealed that women’s perceptions of themselves were very different than how others view them.

2. According to the CDC, for women ages 20 years old and older, the average height for women in America is 5’3″ and weight is 166.2 pounds. For fashion models the average is 5’10” and 120 pounds.

3. By age 6, girls start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.

4. The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction. The median ages for onset of an eating disorder in adolescents is 12- to 13-years-old. In the United States, 20 million women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

5. Only four percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful.*

6. A global survey found that two thirds of women strongly agree that “the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve.”

7. Researchers have found that “fat talk”—a phenomena in which a person makes negative claims about their weight to others—is an expected norm among women and a way for them to appear more modest.

8. A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that while “fat talk” tended to decrease with age, “old talk” often came in to replace it, and that both were reported by women who appeared to have a negative body image.

9. The only complete way to overcome the problem is to have our beliefs about body image transformed by the Holy Spirit. As Heather Davis Nelson says in the Journal of Biblical Counseling:

In pursuing worldly beauty, we strive to become this elusive image in place of who we really are. You and I are created in the image of the living God. Our purpose is to reflect His image to the world. But since the fall, we let the world inscribe its image on us. It is the very picture of sin and ultimately death. Instead of being transformed to God’s image, we conform to the world’s image. We are hopelessly stuck in a lifeless cycle, exchanging God for the creature as our object of worship. But God in His mercy rescued us! In love, God sent Jesus Christ to take on the consequences of our idolatrous affair. He became sin so that we might become righteous. In Christ, God gives us freedom from sin’s power now and hope for its eradication in heaven. God makes you beautiful with the beauty of His Son, Jesus. It is in gazing at God’s image in Jesus Christ that you are transformed. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, (sisters) in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

*Update: The post originally quoted the 2004 study that found only two percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful. A follow-on study in 2010 found the percentage had increased to four percent.

A Remarkably Different Course of Action

SOURCE:  Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 247.


Overcome Evil with Good

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

Peacemaking does not always go as easily as we would like it to.

Although some people will readily make peace, others will be stubborn and defensive and resist our efforts to be reconciled. Sometimes they will become even more antagonistic and find new ways to frustrate or mistreat us. Our natural reaction is to strike back at such people, or at least to stop doing anything good to them.

However, Jesus calls us to take a remarkably different course of action: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-28, 35-36).

Think about someone who could be described by one of the following:

• Your enemy
• Someone who hates you
• Someone who curses you
• Someone who mistreats you

Maybe someone pops right to mind.

Or maybe it’s a little hard to identify one (though “someone who mistreats you” is quite a one-size-fits-all descriptor of a person who make your life difficult). But in each case, Jesus has called us to this “remarkably different course of action.” He calls us to love, do good, bless, and pray. But in our own strength, this command is impossible to obey.

Pray that God would give you a special measure of grace today to overcome evil with good, even when it seems the most difficult thing in the world to actually do.

The Reasons for My Suffering

SOURCE:  R.C. Sproul

Suffering and the Glory of God

I once visited with a woman who was dying from uterine cancer. She was greatly distressed, but not only from her physical ailment. She explained to me that she had had an abortion when she was a young woman, and she was convinced that her disease was a direct consequence of that. In short, she believed cancer was the judgment of God on her.

The usual pastoral response to such an agonizing question from someone in the throes of death is to say the affliction is not a judgment of God for sin. But I had to be honest, so I told her that I did not know. Perhaps it was God’s judgment, but perhaps it was not. I cannot fathom the secret counsel of God or read the invisible hand of His providence, so I did not know why she was suffering. I did know, however, that whatever the reason for it, there was an answer for her guilt. We talked about the mercy of Christ and of the cross, and she died in faith.

The question that woman raised is asked every day by people who are suffering affliction. It is addressed in one of the more difficult passages in the New Testament. In John 9, we read: “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (vv. 1–3).

Why did Jesus’ disciples suppose that the root cause of this man’s blindness was his sin or his parents’ sin? They certainly had some basis for this assumption, for the Scriptures, from the account of the fall onward, make it clear that the reason suffering, disease, and death exist in this world is sin. The disciples were correct that somehow sin was involved in this man’s affliction. Also, there are examples in the Bible of God causing affliction because of specific sins. In ancient Israel, God afflicted Moses’ sister, Miriam, with leprosy because she questioned Moses’ role as God’s spokesman (Num. 12:1–10). Likewise, God took the life of the child born to Bathsheba as a result of David’s sin (2 Sam. 12:14–18). The child was punished, not because of anything the child did, but as a direct result of God’s judgment on David.

However, the disciples made the mistake of particularizing the general relationship between sin and suffering. They assumed there was a direct correspondence between the blind man’s sin and his affliction. Had they not read the book of Job, which deals with a man who was innocent and yet was severely afflicted by God? The disciples erred in reducing the options to two when there was another alternative. They posed their question to Jesus in an either/or fashion, committing the logical fallacy of the false dilemma, assuming that the sin of the man or the sin of the man’s parents was the cause of his blindness.

The disciples also seem to have assumed that anyone who has an affliction suffers in direct proportion to the sin that has been committed. Again, the book of Job dashes that conclusion, for the degree of suffering Job was called to bear was astronomical compared with the suffering and afflictions of others far more guilty than he was.

We must never jump to the conclusion that a particular incidence of suffering is a direct response or in direct correspondence to a person’s particular sin. The story of the man born blind makes this point.

Our Lord answered the disciples’ question by correcting their false assumption that the man’s blindness was a direct consequence of his or his parents’ sin. He assured them that the man was born blind not because God was punishing the man or the man’s parents. There was another reason. And because there was another reason in this case, there might always be another reason for the afflictions God calls us to endure.

Jesus answered His disciples by saying, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). What did He mean? Simply put, Jesus said that the man was born blind so that Jesus might heal him at the appointed time, as a testimony to Jesus’ power and divinity. Our Lord displayed His identity as the Savior and the Son of God in this healing.

When we suffer, we must trust that God knows what He is doing, and that He works in and through the pain and afflictions of His people for His glory and for their sanctification. It is hard to endure lengthy suffering, but the difficulty is greatly alleviated when we hear our Lord explaining the mystery in the case of the man born blind, whom God called to many years of pain for Jesus’ glory.

Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

We need God. We won’t enjoy life, be fulfilled in life, or attain our God-given potential without closeness to Him. God desires that for us as well. But, so many factors and forces keep us from this closeness to God, and unfortunately, eating disorders are one of those forces.

Thirty to fifty percent of our society struggles with significant eating issues that disrupt their lives, ranging from binging, chronic overeating and obesity, to anorexia. Coming from a long line of Italian women and good cooking, this really hits home with me.

“Eating Disorder” simply means unhealthy habits like restricting nutritional intake, overeating (yes, this is a large part of our American society), or being obsessed with, being overly focused on, or actually worshipping the elements, rituals, or the results of eating or dieting. It actually becomes a real addiction.

People tend to get so preoccupied with body image and what others think, that they develop a distorted view of themselves. Their over concern or lack of concern about food, diet, body, and weight even begin to affect their health, relationships, and the ability to physically function in day-to-day life.

Like almost every other object in life, God gave us food to use in moderation. Too much isn’t good, but not enough isn’t good either. Our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside in and God wants us to be good stewards of our body and health. But more importantly, we need to look at the psychological and spiritual aspects of our eating habits.

If you are struggling with food or weight, determine not to let your focus on your body or food keep you from closeness with God and with others. Decide how you wish to spend your energy: pursuing the “perfect” image or the comfort that food brings, or focusing on your perfect healer for spiritual growth and your true daily bread and nourishment.

The outside – what man sees, or the inside – what God sees? Society changes its view of what is beautiful … styles come and go. But God’s view of beauty never changes.

Identifying and challenging your distorted thoughts and feelings about your body and food, and keeping God’s view in mind is essential to accepting yourself and your body. We all have feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Don’t let food or your body image become your soothing mechanism. Let God and His grace and love bring you the peace you really are hungry for and crave. He is one buffet where you can eat all you want without consequences! Indulge to your heart’s true content!

As you approach food and eat meals, examine the importance you put on these elements. What do you get out of it? Are food and your eating habits a coping mechanism for you? Are you getting healthier, or are you harming your health? Remember, your value as a person is not based on how you look or what you do. Your value is based on the unchangeable fact that God loves you so much that He gave His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for you. Eating issues are about believing lies.  Using food as a gift from God, or an idol that adversely impacts you life is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I’ve been pretty confused lately. I’ve been so concerned about food or used it to comfort myself that I’ve ignored You. Relationships with those I care about have suffered as well. Please help me begin thinking more clearly … to see me from Your point of view. I know I need to eat to live, but I don’t want to live to eat or let food and meals distract me from Your peace for me. Help me turn control over to you, instead of being controlled by the next meal I think about. I pray this in the name of the One who loves me as I am, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

Romans 12:1-2

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 

1 Samuel 16:7

Bulimia: The New Normal

SOURCE: Ed Welch/CCEF

Bulimia is the new normal.

The thin and wealthy specialize in it, but you can be sure that it is a cornerstone of any culture in which the preferred body type is thinner than is actually possible on a normal diet.  You’ll find it in any culture that is obsessed with looking younger or where everyone is looking for that elusive weight-loss secret.

True story: parents protested when a youth group leader began talking about eating disorders. Why? They were concerned that their daughters would gain weight.

It begins with a desire to be thinner. Once purging is discovered, young women talk about it as if it were their best friend, or their narcotic addiction. “The feeling I got afterward was amazing!” Then they discover other benefits, most notably a sense that they can, finally, be in control of something. And don’t you dare stand between them and the object of their affection!

Two questions to those who practice it.

First, if you have any interest in God, does the secretive essence of this behavior concern you? Secrets separate relationships. They separate friends and spouses, and become a private place in which you hide from God.

Second, has it improved your life? The answer to that is easy: no. But you say: “So what? It works for me.” Perhaps you feel as though nothing will improve your life so you might as well be thin while you go through the drudgery and misery.

Consider this from another angle.

If you are a near-daily practitioner of purging, you are saying much more than “I want to be thin.” The word control is almost always a part of bulimic vocabulary. You have been controlled or dependent on the whims of people who treated you poorly, and you are sick of it. You live with incessant self-loathing and suicidal hopelessness and bulimia gives you some sense of control over this darkness. Its benefits, however, are ephemeral and fleeting.

Human beings were intended to turn to their Maker and Father when life is hard. Left to our own devices, life just gets more out-of-control. Think of yourself as a child. It is right and good for a child to run to a parent when life is overwhelming. God knows your secrets. He knows what you need.

If this sounds too familiar and you don’t know how to even begin leaving it behind, go to the psalms and borrow some of those words. God will surprise you. He is not like those who have hurt, criticized or rejected you. To the contrary, you are the one who has shunned him, yet he keeps knocking on the door and pursuing you (Rev. 3:20).

Rachel Weeping for Her Children — How should Christians think and pray in the aftermath of such a colossal crime?

SOURCE:  Albert Mohler

Rachel Weeping for Her Children — The Massacre in Connecticut

Thus says the LORD:  “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”[Jeremiah 31:15]

It has happened again.

This time tragedy came to Connecticut, where a lone gunman entered two classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and opened fire, killing at least twenty children and six adults, before turning his weapons of death upon himself. The young victims, still to be officially identified, ranged in age from five to ten years. The murderer was himself young, reported to be twenty years old. According to press reports, he murdered his mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook, in her home before the rampage at the school.

Apparently, matricide preceded mass murder. Some of the children were in kindergarten, not even able to tie their own shoes. The word kindergarten comes from the German, meaning a garden for children. Sandy Hook Elementary School was no garden today. It was a place of murder, mayhem, and undisguised evil.

The calculated and premeditated nature of this crime, combined with the horror of at least twenty murdered children, makes the news almost unspeakable and unbearable. The grief of parents and loved ones in Newtown is beyond words. Yet, even in the face of such a tragedy, Christians must speak. We will have to speak in public about this evil, and we will have to speak in private about this horrible crime.

How should Christians think and pray in the aftermath of such a colossal crime?

We Affirm the Sinfulness of Sin, and the Full Reality of Human Evil

First, we must recognize that this tragedy is just as evil, horrible, and ugly as it appears.

Christianity does not deny the reality and power of evil, but instead calls evil by its necessary names — murder, massacre, killing, homicide, slaughter. The closer we look at this tragedy, the more it will appear unfathomable and more grotesque than the human imagination can take in.

What else can we say about the murder of children and their teachers? How can we understand the evil of killing little children one by one, forcing them to watch their little friends die and realizing that they were to be next? How can we bear this?

Resisting our instinct toward a coping mechanism, we cannot accept the inevitable claims that this young murderer is to be understood as merely sick. His heinous acts will be dismissed and minimized by some as the result of psychiatric or psychological causation, or mitigated by cultural, economic, political, or emotional factors. His crimes were sick beyond words, and he was undoubtedly unbalanced, but he pulled off a cold, calculated, and premeditated crime, monstrous in its design and accomplishment.

Christians know that this is the result of sin and the horrifying effects of The Fall. Every answer for this evil must affirm the reality and power of sin. The sinfulness of sin is never more clearly revealed than when we look into the heart of a crime like this and see the hatred toward God that precedes the murderous hatred he poured out on his little victims.

The twentieth century forced us to see the ovens of the Nazi death camps, the killing fields of Cambodia, the inhumanity of the Soviet gulags, and the failure of the world to stop such atrocities before they happened. We cannot talk of our times without reference to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, Pol Pot and Charles Manson, Idi Amin and Ted Bundy. More recently, we see evil in the impassive faces of Osama bin Laden and Anders Behring Brevik. We will now add yet another name to the roll call of mass murderers. His will not be the last.

The prophet Jeremiah knew the wickedness and deceit of the sinful human heart and asked the right question — who can understand it?

Beyond this, the Christian must affirm the grace of moral restraint, knowing that the real question is not why some isolated persons commit such crimes, but why such massacres are not more common. We must be thankful for the restraint of the law, operating on the human conscience. Such a crime serves to warn us that putting a curve in the law will inevitably produce a curve in the conscience. We must be thankful for the restraining grace of God that limits human evil and, rightly understood, keeps us all from killing each other.

Christians call evil what it is, never deny its horror and power, and remain ever thankful that evil will not have its full sway, or the last word.

We Affirm the Cross of Christ as the Only Adequate Remedy for Evil

There is one and only one reason that evil does not have the last word, and that is the fact that evil, sin, death, and the devil were defeated at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. There they were defeated conclusively, comprehensively, and publicly.

On the cross, Christ bore our sins, dying in our place, offering himself freely as the perfect sacrifice for sin. The devil delighted in Christ’s agony and death on the cross, realizing too late that Christ’s substitutionary atonement spelled the devil’s own defeat and utter destruction.

Christ’s victory over sin, evil, and death was declared by the Father in raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the ground of our hope and the assurance of the final and total victory of Christ over all powers, principalities, and perpetrators.

A tragedy like this cannot be answered with superficial and sentimental Christian emotivism, nor with glib dismissals of the enormity and transience of this crime. Such a tragedy calls for the most Gospel-centered Christian thinking, for the substance of biblical theology, and the solace that only the full wealth of Christian conviction can provide.

In the face of such horror, we are driven again and again to the cross and resurrection of Christ, knowing that the reconciling power of God in Christ is the only adequate answer to such a depraved and diabolical power.

We Acknowledge the Necessity of Justice, Knowing that Perfect Justice Awaits the Day of the Lord

Charles Manson sits in a California prison, even now — decades after his murderous crimes were committed. Ted Bundy was executed by the State of Florida for multiple murders, but escaped both conviction and punishment for others he is suspected of having committed. Anders Behring Brevik shot and killed scores of young people in Norway, but he was sentenced to less than thirty years in prison. Adolf Hitler took his own life, robbing human courts of their justice, and Vladimir Lenin died of natural causes.

The young murderer in Connecticut took his own life after murdering almost thirty people, most of them children. He will never face a human court, never have to face a human accuser, never stand convicted of his crimes, and never know the justice of a human sentence.

But, even as human society was robbed of the satisfaction of that justice, it would never be enough. Even if executed for his crimes, he could die only once. Even if sentenced to scores of life sentences to prison, he could forfeit only one human lifespan.

Human justice is necessary, but it is woefully incomplete. No human court can hand down an adequate sentence for such a crime, and no human judge can restore life to those who were murdered.

Crimes such as these remind us that we just yearn for the total satisfaction that will come only on the Day of the Lord, when all flesh will be judged by the only Judge who will rule with perfect righteousness and justice. On that day, the only escape will be refuge in Christ, for those who knew and confessed him as Savior and Lord. On that day, those who are in Christ will know the promise that full justice and restoration will mean that every eye is dry and tears are nevermore.

We Grieve with Those Who Grieve

For now, even as we yearn for the Day of the Lord, we grieve with those who grieve. We sit with them and pray for them and acknowledge that their loss is truly unspeakable and that their tears are unspeakably true. We pray and look for openings for grace and the hope of the gospel. We do our best to speak words of truth, love, grace, and comfort.

What of the eternal destiny of these sweet children? There is no specific text of Scripture that gives us a clear and direct answer. We must affirm with the Bible that we are conceived in sin and, as sons and daughters of Adam, will face eternal damnation unless we are found in Christ. So many of these little victims died before reaching any real knowledge of their own sinfulness and need for Christ. They, like those who die in infancy and those who suffer severe mental incapacitation, never really have the opportunity to know their need as sinners and the provision of Christ as Savior.

They are in a categorically different position than that of the person of adult consciousness who never responds in faith to the message of the Gospel. In the book of Deuteronomy, God tells the adults among the Children of Israel that, due to their sin and rebellion, they would not enter the land of promise. But the Lord then said this: “And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.” [Deuteronomy 1:39]

Many, if not all, of the little children who died in Newtown were so young that they certainly would be included among those who, like the little Israelites, “have no knowledge of good or evil.” God is sovereign, and he was not surprised that these little ones died so soon. There is biblical precedent for believing that the Lord made provision for them in the atonement accomplished by Christ, and that they are safe with Jesus.

Rachel Weeping for Her Children

The prophet Jeremiah’s reference to Rachel and her lost children is heart-breaking. “Thus says the LORD:  ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’” Like Rachel, many parents, grandparents, and loved ones are weeping inconsolably even now, refusing to be comforted for their children, because they are no more.

This tragedy is compounded in emotional force by the fact that it comes in such close proximity to Christmas, but let us never forget that there was the mass murder of children in the Christmas story as well. King Herod’s murderous decree that all baby boys under two years of age should be killed prompted Matthew to cite this very verse from Jeremiah. Rachel again was weeping for her children.

But this is not where either Jeremiah or Matthew leaves us. By God’s mercy, there is hope and the promise of full restoration in Christ.

The Lord continued to speak through Jeremiah:

Thus says the LORD: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.”
[Jeremiah 31:16-17]

God, not the murderer, has the last word. For those in Christ, there is the promise of full restoration. Even in the face of such unmitigated horror, there is hope.“There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to your own country.”

————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.,serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

God Calls And Then Has Us Wait !?!

SOURCE:  Oswald Chambers

Individual Discouragement and Personal Growth

. . . when Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdensExodus 2:11

Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs.

After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years.

At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11).In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.

We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness.

It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go . . . ?”

We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM . . . has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride.

If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.

Please Love Me!

SOURCE:  Living Free

“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. 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 8:38-39 NLT

“I won’t be loved unless I am perfect.”

Perfectionism often comes from a need for love and approval.

Our society, and many of us as individuals and families, determine a person’s value by his or her performance. And so we set out to earn that value . . . We strive to be successful, especially in the eyes of people who mean the most to us. Better job. More money. Higher grades. Greater popularity. Funnier. Smarter. The list goes on . . .

The good news is that God, the Creator of the Universe, loves us unconditionally. We could never earn his love – and we don’t have to. He loved us even when we were running from him.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8 NLT)

That’s why you are valuable. Not because of what you’ve done, but because God created you just the way you are, and you are important to him. He loves you unconditionally, and nothing can ever separate you from his love.

Consider this … 

When you allow your self-image to plummet because of what others think of you, it’s easy to forget what God thinks of you. You may start thinking . . .

But God, I can’t . . .What if I fail . . .

What if they stop loving me . . .

I would do anything to get their approval . . .

Maybe if I do this better, they will . . .

Instead of molding your life to gain the love and approval of others, focus on God’s love for you.

With Christ’s strength, you can do all things. He has a plan and purpose for your life and will equip you to fulfill it. With God, nothing is impossible.

Prayer

Father, thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you that nothing can ever separate me from your love. Help me to always remember I am special because you care about me and designed me for a purpose. In Jesus’ name . . .


These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC.

The Compassion of Truth: Homosexuality in Biblical Perspective

SOURCE:   Albert Mohler

Homosexuality is perhaps the most controversial issue of debate in American culture. Once described as “the love that dares not speak its name,” homosexuality is now discussed and debated throughout American society.

Behind this discussion is an agenda, pushed and promoted by activists, who seek legitimization and social sanction for homosexual acts, relationships, and lifestyles. The push is on for homosexual “marriage,” the removal of all structures and laws considered oppressive to homosexuals, and the recognition of homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, and others as “erotic minorities,” deserving of special legal protection.

The larger culture is now bombarded with messages and images designed to portray homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. Homoerotic images are so common in the mainstream media that many citizens have virtually lost the capacity to be shocked.

Those who oppose homosexuality are depicted as narrow-minded bigots and described as “homophobic.” Anyone who suggests that heterosexual marriage is the only acceptable and legitimate arena of sexual activity is lambasted as out-dated, oppressive, and outrageously out of step with modern culture.

The church has not been an outsider to these debates. As the issue of homosexual legitimization has gained public prominence and moved forward, some churches and denominations have joined the movement–even becoming advocates of homosexuality–while others stand steadfastly opposed to compromise on the issue. In the middle are churches and denominations unable or unwilling to declare a clear conviction on homosexuality. Issues of homosexual ordination and marriage are regularly discussed in the assemblies of several denominations–and many congregations.

This debate is itself nothing less than a revolutionary development. Any fair-minded observer of American culture and the American churches must note the incredible speed with which this issue has been driven into the cultural mainstream. The challenge for the believing church now comes down to this: Do we have a distinctive message in the midst of this moral confusion?

Our answer must be Yes. The Christian church must have a distinctive message to speak to the issue of homosexuality, because faithfulness to Holy Scripture demands that we do so.

The affirmation of biblical authority is thus central to the church’s consideration of this issue–or any issue. The Bible is the Word of God in written form, inerrant and infallible, inspired by the Holy Spirit and “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” [2 Timothy 3:16]. This is the critical watershed: Those churches which reject the authority of Scripture will eventually succumb to cultural pressure and accommodate their understanding of homosexuality to the spirit of the age. Those churches that affirm, confess, and acknowledge the full authority of the Bible have no choice in this matter–we must speak a word of compassionate truth. And that compassionate truth is this: Homosexual acts are expressly and unconditionally forbidden by God through His Word, and such acts are an abomination to the Lord by His own declaration.

Professor Elizabeth Achtemeier of Richmond’s Union Theological Seminary states the case clearly: “The clearest teaching of Scripture is that God intended sexual intercourse to be limited to the marriage relationship of one man and one woman.”(1) That this is so should be apparent to all who look to the Bible for guidance on this issue. This assessment of the biblical record would have been completely uncontroversial throughout the last nineteen centuries of the Christian church. Only in recent years have some biblical scholars come forward to claim that the Bible presents a mixed message–or a very different message–on homosexuality.

The homosexual agenda is pushed by activists who are totally committed to the cause of making homosexuality a sanctioned and recognized form of sexual activity–and the basis for legitimate family relationships. Every obstacle which stands in the way of progress toward this agenda must be removed, and Scripture stands as the most formidable obstacle to that agenda.

We should not be surprised therefore that apologists for the homosexual agenda have arisen even within the world of biblical scholarship. Biblical scholars are themselves a very mixed group, with some defending the authority of Scripture and others bent on deconstructing the biblical text. The battle lines on this issue are immediately apparent. Many who deny the truthfulness, inspiration, and authority of the Bible have come to argue that Scripture sanctions homosexuality–or at least to argue that the biblical passages forbidding homosexual acts are confused, misinterpreted, or irrelevant.

To accomplish this requires feats of exotic biblical interpretation worthy of the most agile circus contortionist. Several decades ago, the late J. Gresham Machen remarked that “The Bible, with a complete abandonment of all scientific historical method, and of all common sense, is made to say the exact opposite of what it means; no Gnostic, no medieval monk with his fourfold sense of Scripture, ever produced more absurd Biblical interpretation than can be heard every Sunday in the pulpits of New York.”(2) Dr. Machen was referring to the misuse and misapplication of Scripture which he saw as a mark of the infusion of a pagan spirit within the church. Even greater absurdity than that observed by Machen is now evident among those determined to make the Bible sanction homosexuality.

Different approaches are taken toward this end. For some, an outright rejection of biblical authority is explicit. With astounding candor, William M. Kent, a member of the committee assigned by United Methodists to study homosexuality declared that “the scriptural texts in the Old and New Testaments condemning homosexual practice are neither inspired by God nor otherwise of enduring Christian value. Considered in the light of the best biblical, theological, scientific, and social knowledge, the biblical condemnation of homosexual practice is better understood as representing time and place bound cultural prejudice.”(3) This approach is the most honest taken among the revisionists. These persons do not deny that the Bible expressly forbids homosexual practices–they acknowledge that the Bible does just that. Their answer is straightforward; we must abandon the Bible in light of modern “knowledge.”

The next step taken by those who follow this approach is to suggest that it is not sufficient for the authority of the Bible to be denied–the Bible must be opposed. Gary David Comstock, Protestant chaplain at Wesleyan University charges: “Not to recognize, critique, and condemn Paul’s equation of godlessness with homosexuality is dangerous. To remain within our respective Christian traditions and not challenge those passages that degrade and destroy us is to contribute to our own oppression.”(4) Further, Comstock argues that “These passages will be brought up and used against us again and again until Christians demand their removal from the biblical canon, or, at the very least, formally discredit their authority to prescribe behavior.”(5)

A second approach taken by the revisionists is to suggest that the human authors of Scripture were merely limited by the scientific immaturity of their age. If they knew what we now know, these revisionists claim, the human authors of Scripture would never have been so closed-minded. Victor Paul Furnish argues: “Not only the terms, but the concepts ‘homosexual’ and ‘homosexuality’ were unknown in Paul’s day. These terms like ‘heterosexual,’ ‘heterosexuality,’ ‘bisexual,’ and ‘bisexuali
ty’ presuppose an understanding of human sexuality that was possible only with the advent of modern psychology and sociological analysis. The ancient writers were operating without the vaguest idea of what we have learned to call ’sexual orientation’.”(6)

Indeed, Paul and the other apostles seem completely ignorant of modern secular understandings of sexual identity and orientation–and this truth is fundamentally irrelevant. Modern notions of sexual orientation must be brought to answer to Scripture. Scripture must not be subjected to defend itself in light of modern notions. Paul will not apologize to Sigmund Freud or the American Psychological Association, and the faithful church must call this approach what it is; a blatant effort to subvert the authority of Scripture and replace biblical authority with the false authority of modern secular ideologies.

A third approach taken by the revisionists is to deny that biblical passages actually refer to homosexuality at all, or to argue that the passages refer to specific and “oppressive” homosexual acts. For instance, some argue that Paul’s references to homosexuality are actually references to pederasty [the sexual abuse of young boys], to homosexual rape, or to “non-committed” homosexual relationships. The same is argued concerning passages such as Genesis 19 and Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Yet, in order to make this case, the revisionists must deny the obvious–and argue the ridiculous.

Likewise, some argue that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but inhospitality. John J. McNeill makes this case, arguing that the church oppressively shifted the understanding of the sin of Sodom from inhospitality to homosexuality.(7) The text, however, cannot be made to play this game. The context indicates that the sin of Sodom is clearly homosexuality–and without this meaning, the passage makes no sense. The language and the structure of the text are clear. Beyond this, Jude, verse 7, self-evidently links the sin of Sodom with sexual perversion and immorality, stating that “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

This verse is sufficient to indicate the severity of the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 speaks of male homosexuality as an “abomination”–the strongest word used of God’s judgment against an act.

The most extensive argument against homosexuality is not found in the Old Testament, however, but in Romans 1:22-27, a passage which is found within Paul’s lengthy introduction to his Roman letter.

“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason, God gave them over to degrading passions; for the women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

As Romans 1 makes absolutely clear, homosexuality is fundamentally an act of unbelief. As Paul writes, the wrath of God is revealed against all those “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”(8) God the Creator has implanted in all humanity a knowledge of Himself, and all are without excuse. This is the context of Paul’s explicit statements on homosexuality.

Homosexual acts and homosexual desire, states Paul, are a rebellion against God’s sovereign intention in creation and a gross perversion of God’s good and perfect plan for His created order. Paul makes clear that homosexuality–among both males and females–is a dramatic sign of rebellion against God and His intention in creation. Those about whom Paul writes have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator. Thus, men and women have forfeited the natural complementarity of God’s intention for heterosexual marriage and have turned to members of their own sex, burning with an illicit desire which is in itself both degrading and dishonorable.

This is a very strong and clear message. The logical progression in Romans 1 is undeniable. Paul shifts immediately from his description of rebellion against God as Creator to an identification of homosexuality–among both men and women–as the first and most evident sign of a society upon which God has turned His judgment. Essential to understanding this reality in theological perspective is a recognition of homosexuality as an assault upon the integrity of creation and God’s intention in creating human beings in two distinct and complementary genders.

Here the confessing and believing Church runs counter to the cultural tidal wave. Even to raise the issue of gender is to offend those who wish to eradicate any gender distinctions, arguing that these are merely “socially constructed realities” and vestiges of an ancient past.

Scripture will not allow this attempt to deny the structures of creation. Romans 1 must be read in light of Genesis 1 and 2. As Genesis 1:27 makes apparent, God intended from the beginning to create human beings in two genders or sexes–”male and female He created them.” Both man and woman were created in the image of God. They were and are distinct, and yet inseparably linked by God’s design. The genders are different, and the distinction goes far beyond mere physical differences, but the man recognized in the woman “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”(9)

The bond between man and woman is marriage, which is not an historical accident or the result of socialization over time. To the contrary, marriage and the establishment of the heterosexual covenant union is central to God’s intention–before and after the Fall. Immediately following the creation of man and woman come the instructive words: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”(10)

Evangelicals have often failed to present this biblical truth straightforwardly, and thus many of our churches and members are unarmed for the ideological, political, and cultural conflicts which mark the modern landscape. The fundamental axiom upon which evangelical Christians must base any response to homosexuality it this: God alone is sovereign, and He has created the universe and all within by His own design and to His own good pleasure. Furthermore, He has revealed to us His creative intention through Holy Scripture–and that intention was clearly to create and establish two distinct but complementary genders or sexes. The Genesis narratives demonstrate that this distinction of genders is neither accidental nor inconsequential to the divine design. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make for him a helper suitable for him,” determined God.(11) And God created woman.

God’s creative intention is further revealed in the cleaving of man to the woman (”his wife”) and their new identity as “one flesh.”(12) This biblical assertion, which no contorted interpretation can escape, clearly places marriage and sexual relations within God’s creative act and design.

The sexual union of a man and a woman united in covenant marriage
is thus not only allowed, but is commanded as God’s intention and decree. Sexual expression is limited to this heterosexual covenant, which in its clearest biblical expression is one man and one woman united for as long as they both shall live.

Therefore, any sexual expression outside of that heterosexual marriage relationship is illicit, immoral, and outlawed by God’s command and law. That fundamental truth runs counter, not only to the homosexual agenda, but to the rampant sexual immorality of the age. Indeed, the Bible has much more to say about illicit heterosexual activity than about homosexual acts. Adultery, rape, bestiality, pornography, and fornication are expressly forbidden.

As E. Michael Jones argues, most modern ideologies are, at base, efforts to rationalize sexual behavior. In fact, he identifies modernity itself as “rationalized lust.” We should expect the secular world, which is at war with God’s truth, to be eager in its efforts to rationalize lust, and to seek legitimacy and social sanction for its sexual sins. We should be shocked, however, that many within the Church now seek to accomplish the same purpose, and to join in common cause with those openly at war with God’s truth.

Paul’s classic statement in Romans 1 sets the issues squarely before us. Homosexuality is linked directly to idolatry, for it is on the basis of their idolatry that God gave them up to their own lusts [epithymia]. Their hearts were committed to impurity [akatharsia], and they were degrading [atimazo] their own bodies by their illicit lusts.

Their idolatry–exchanging the truth of God for a lie, and worshipping the creature rather than the Creator–led God to give them over to their degrading passions [pathos atimia]. From here, those given over to their degraded passions exchanged the natural use of sexual intercourse for that which God declared to be unnatural [para physin]. At this point Paul explicitly deals with female homosexuality or lesbianism. This is one of the very few references in all ancient literature to female homosexuality, and Paul’s message is clear.

But the women involved in lesbianism were not and are not alone. Men, too, have given up natural intercourse with women and have been consumed with passion [orexis] for other men. The acts they commit, they commit without shame [aschemosyne]. As a result, they have received within their own bodies the penalty of their error.

Beyond this, God has given them up to their own depraved minds, and they do those things which are not proper [kathekonta]. The message could not be more candid and clear, but there are those who seek to deny the obvious. Some have claimed that Paul is here dealing only with those heterosexual persons who commithomosexual acts. The imaginative folly of this approach is undone by Scripture, which allows no understanding that any human beings are born anything other than heterosexual. The modern–and highly political–notion of homosexual “orientation” cannot be squared with the Bible. The only orientation indicated by Scripture is the universal human orientation to sin.(13)

In other letters, Paul indicates that homosexuals–along with those who persist in other sins–will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10 is arsenokoites, a word with a graphic etymology. Some modern revisionists have attempted to suggest that this refers only to homosexual rapists or child abusers. This argument will not stand even the slightest scholarly consideration. The word does not appear in any Greek literature of the period. As New Testament scholar David Wright has demonstrated, the word was taken by Paul directly from Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, and its meaning is homosexuality itself.(14)

The biblical witness is clear: Homosexuality is a grievous sin against God and is a direct rejection of God’s intention and command in creation. All sin is a matter of eternal consequence, and the only hope for any sinner is the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, who on the cross paid the price for our sin, serving as the substitute for the redeemed.

Our response to persons involved in homosexuality must be marked by genuine compassion. But a central task of genuine compassion is telling the truth, and the Bible reveals a true message we must convey. Those seeking to contort and subvert the Bible’s message are not responding to homosexuals with compassion. To lie is never compassionate–and their lie leads unto death.

Endnotes:

  1. Elizabeth Achtemeier, quoted in “Gays and the Bible,” by Mark O’Keefe, The Virginian Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia (February 14, 1993), p. C-1.
  2. J. Gresham Machen, “The Separateness of the Church,” in God Transcendent, edited by Ned Bernard Stonehouse (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1982 [1949]), p.113.
  3. From the statement by William M. Kent published in Report of the Committee to Study Homosexuality to the General Council on Ministries of the United Methodist Church, August 24, 1991.
  4. Gary David Comstock, Gay Theology Without Apology (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1993), p. 43.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Victor Paul Furnish, The Moral Teachings of Paul: Selected Issues (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985), p. 85.
  7. John J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, 3rd edition (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988).
  8. Romans 1:18. All biblical references are taken from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
  9. Genesis 2:23.
  10. Genesis 2:24-25.
  11. Genesis 2:18.
  12. Genesis 2:24.
  13. Romans 3:9-20.
  14. D. F. Wright, “Homosexuals or Prostitutes? The Meaning of Arsenokoitai.”Vigiliae Christianae 38 (1984): 125-53.

Concerns About Same-Sex Marriage

SOURCE:  Taken from Eternal Perspective Ministries/Randy Alcorn

Expressing Our Concerns about Same Sex Marriage in a Pluralistic Culture

These are mostly (with a few exceptions) extrabiblical reasons for the social and spiritual importance of marriage continuing to be the church and state blessed union of one man and one woman:

· Men and women fulfill different roles in society and the family; children need to see and experience those roles to understand and emulate them.

· A male father and a female mother nurture and protect children in different and equally important ways; children need both forms of nurture and protection.

· Society has flourished on the one man, one woman model of marriage for thousands of years; to change it will introduce change, some of which will produce negative social issues we cannot foresee.

· The mother, besides giving birth, fulfills the important role of nourishing the children, which creates a bond between mother and child that lasts throughout life.

· Men and women see the world differently, and a child must have the benefit of both perspectives in order to live a balanced life.

· Children learn about their opposite gender from the parent of the opposite gender.

· Maintaining hearth and home requires skills dominant in both men and women: women are better suited to multitasking, the very requirement for raising multiple children, while men are more project oriented, the quality needed by the hunter/gather.

· God, who arranged the command structure in the home to minimize conflict and maximize nurture, has stated that the husband (man) is the head of the home.

· Marriage has been the societal building block for millennia; it has developed as the method by which cultures pass on, from generation to generation, who and what they are. Since cultures are made up of men, women and children, to effectively pass on cultural values the family should reflect the cultural makeup of one man, one woman (an equal number), and their natural children where possible.

· Marriage between one man and one woman is perfectly integrated by sex. An identical number of men and women get married each year, side-by-side, hand-in-hand. The mechanism of marriage is perfectly balanced. No man may become a husband unless a woman becomes a wife at the same moment.

· As the societal building block, the family has also developed as the best gauge—the canary in the mine—that protects culture from harmful change. Since change can harm men, women, and children (and the family as a whole), the most effective harbinger of detrimental societal change is the traditional family.

· A procreative marriage, one where children are the offspring of the husband and wife, is more stable and long lasting—the husband and wife have the added incentive of keeping the relationship healthy and alive since leaving it involves leaving their natural children.

· Children have the inherent human right to expect that they will be born into a societal and spiritual norm, the best family structure their God and society has created, and not into a family structure that thousands of years of human history has deemed to be, at best, a social experiment. Children have a right to be born into intact one man, one woman families. The society should work to make sure that happens as often as humanly possible.

· Marriage encourages men to share the burdens of child rearing and binds fathers to their children.

· Marriage provides the optimal setting in which mothers and fathers can raise their own boys and girls to enter a world that consists exclusively of men and women.

· From time to time war visits a nation, and in our culture, and we suspect others, male soldiers (the predominant gender of soldiers) fight more fiercely and selflessly, sustain greater hardships, maintain more steadfast commitments, when fighting for their families—wives and natural children, or girlfriends.

“Homophobia” and discrimination have nothing to do with opposition to same-sex marriage. Opposition to it is not an attack on homosexuality or homosexuals; it is simply the belief that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, based on practical cultural and social reasons as the list above makes clear.

Also, “discrimination” necessarily involves infringement of a basic human right. A marriage license is not a basic human right. It is a privilege which has always required the government’s permission, as do many other parts of life, such as getting a driver’s license or a business license (to sell food, for example). Just as the ability to freely move about on roads and the ability to pursue the occupation of one’s choice both require certain preconditions, so it must be true of marriage. One of those preconditions for the granting of this privilege (in addition to age and health based
considerations) is that the participants must be one man and one woman . . . .

Where Is Our World Going? STOP Sexualizing Our Children

THE COUNSELING MOMENT EDITOR’S NOTE:  

The below article from the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) is alarming and also prophetic — a preview of more of the unthinkable to come.  At the last AACC World Conference I attended in 2011, this information was presented as the next emerging “watershed” issue we will face as Christians.  An aid to this down-hill societal slide was when God largely was removed from schools and increasingly from society.  Then, there was (is) the abortion issue.  From there we see ever-increasing lax moral views, the redefining of family, and legalization of same-sex marriages.  Now, this next issue (as brought out in the article) is to regard  “pedophilia as just another ‘sexual orientation.'” 

 Where will this downward slide finally and ultimately end?  

 “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. ComeLord Jesus. [Rev 22:20) 

In due course, when the Lord Jesus returns to bring completion to His redemptive work in creation, all things will be made right — according to God’s original creative intent.  However, until that time, we — as followers of Christ — must continue to seek His grace and ability to do what is right, loving, and pleasing to the Lord.  

Jesus makes it clear (Mt 5:44) that we are to love our enemies (i.e., those entirely opposed to and antagonistic toward us and God) and pray for those who would mercilessly persecute us for our beliefs about what is right as we understand and apply God’s Word.  At the same time, we are to seek the Lord’s help to obey His command for us to be holy as He is holy (1Peter 1:15-16) and have nothing to do with evil/darkness, but rather to expose it (Ps 101:4; Eph 5:11).  May the Lord give us His Divine wisdom, understanding, knowledge, discernment, heart, perspective, protection, strength, and resolve to be and to live as the men, women, and children of God to His Glory.

Stop Sexualizing Our Children

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors/Matt Barber [http://www.aacc.net/stop-sexualizing-our-children/]

In “Batman,” the Joker rhetorically asks a young Bruce Wayne: “Tell me, kid – you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?” Well, I have. Not by the pale moonlight, but in a brightly lit Four Points Sheraton in Baltimore, Md.

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, I – along with the venerable child advocate Dr. Judith Reisman – attended a conference hosted by the pedophile group B4U-ACT. 

Around 50 individuals were in attendance, including a number of admitted pedophiles (or “minor-attracted persons” as they euphemistically prefer), a few self-described “gay activists” and several supportive mental-health professionals. World renowned “sexologist” Dr. Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins University gave the keynote address, saying: “I want to completely support the goal of B4U-ACT.”

Here are some highlights from the conference:

• Pedophiles are “unfairly stigmatized and demonized” by society.
• There was concern about “vice-laden diagnostic criteria” and “cultural baggage of wrongfulness.”
• “We are not required to interfere with or inhibit our child’s sexuality.”
• “Children are not inherently unable to consent” to sex with an adult.
• “In Western culture sex is taken too seriously.”
• “Anglo-American standard on age of consent is new [and ‘Puritanical’]. In Europe it was always set at 10 or 12. Ages of consent beyond that are relatively new and very strange, especially for boys. They’ve always been able to have sex at any age.”
• An adult’s desire to have sex with children is “normative.”
• Our society should “maximize individual liberty. … We have a highly moralistic society that is not consistent with liberty.”
• “Assuming children are unable to consent lends itself to criminalization and stigmatization.”
• “These things are not black and white; there are various shades of gray.”
• A consensus belief by both speakers and pedophiles in attendance was that, because it vilifies MAPs, pedophilia should be removed as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), in the same manner homosexuality was removed in 1973.
• Dr. Fred Berlin acknowledged that it was political activism, similar to the incrementalist strategy witnessed at the conference, rather than a scientific calculus that successfully led to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder: The reason “homosexuality was taken out of DSM is that people didn’t want the government in the bedroom,” he said.
• The DSM ignores that pedophiles “have feelings of love and romance for children” in the same way adults love one another.
• “The majority of pedophiles are gentle and rational.”
• The DSM should “focus on the needs” of the pedophile, and should have “a minimal focus on social control,” rather than obsessing about the “need to protect children.”
• Self-described “gay activist” and speaker Jacob Breslow said that children can properly be “the object of our attraction.” He further objectified children, suggesting that pedophiles needn’t gain consent from a child to have sex with “it” any more than we need consent from a shoe to wear it. He then used graphic, slang language to favorably describe the act of climaxing (ejaculating) “on or with” a child. No one in attendance objected to this explicit depiction of child sexual assault. There was even laughter.
(In fairness, Dr. Berlin did later tell Mr. Breslow that his words might “anger” some people and that he [Berlin] is categorically opposed to adult-child sex with “pre-pubescent” children. When asked about the propriety of adult-child sex with pubescent children, Dr. Berlin did not provide a clear answer.)

So, am I just an intolerant, “pedophobic” bigot? Apparently so. In fact, Dr. Berlin says pedophilia is just another “sexual orientation.” Some of the “minor attracted” conference-goers insisted that they were “born that way.” Sound familiar?

This is sexual anarchy – fulfillment of the moral relativist dream.

In the 1940s, homosexual psychopath and secular-humanist messiah Alfred Kinsey’s stated goal was to destroy, in society, the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic. He has largely achieved that goal.

Indeed, during his sexology “research,” Kinsey facilitated the rape of thousands of children – some as young as 2 months old – placing stopwatches and ledgers in the hands of “minor-attracted persons” to document their “findings.” He then recorded everything in what is generally referred to as the “Kinsey Reports.”

Kinsey determined, among many things, that children are not harmed by sex with adults and that it can be a positive experience. Old Al even earned his very own Kinsey Institute, still in existence today at Indiana University.

As recently as 1998, the APA seemed to agree with Kinsey’s assessment, releasing a report that suggested harm caused by child rape was “overstated” and that “the vast majority of both men and women reported no negative sexual effects from their child sexual abuse experiences.”

Furthermore, the APA report suggested that the term “child sex abuse” be swapped with “adult-child sex,” indicating, as did Kinsey, that such “intergenerational intimacy” can be “positive.” Isn’t “tolerance” wonderful?

Oh, and the “progressive,” political-activist APA has also seen fit to join an amicus brief in favor of so-called “same-sex marriage.” What does this have to do with psychiatry? Your guess is as good as mine.

Make no mistake: Children are the target of what I call the “sexual anarchy movement.” Whether it’s the movement’s pedophile wing that seeks to literally rape children, or its radical pro-abortion, homosexualist and feminist wings, which seek to rape the minds of children, the larger sexual anarchy movement has a shared goal: Attack, corrupt and destroy God’s design for human sexuality. Children are just collateral damage.

Sexual anarchists know that to own the future, they must own the minds of our children. Hence, groups like B4U-ACT, GLSEN (The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), Planned Parenthood and the like utilize academia from pre-school to post-graduate to brainwash and indoctrinate. Still, sexual anarchists are not restricted to the world of not-for-profit perversion advocacy. They also permeate the Obama administration.

Consider, for instance, that the official website for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently linked to “parenting tips” that referenced children as “sexual beings” and suggested that they should experiment with homosexuality and masturbation.

Small surprise when you consider that radical feminist and pro-abort Kathleen Sebelius was President Obama’s pick as HHS secretary.

You may also recall that Mr. Obama appointed Kevin Jennings, founder of the aforementioned GLSEN, to the post of “safe schools czar.” The position is now defunct, ostensibly due to national outrage over Jennings’ appointment.

In keeping with the thinly veiled goals of B4U-ACT, GLSEN seems to be “running interference” for pedophiles, having tacitly advocated adult-child sex through its “recommended reading list” for kids.

Again, not surprising when you consider that one of Jennings’s ideological mentors is “gay” activist pioneer Harry Hay. “One of the people that’s always inspired me is Harry Hay,” he has said glowingly.

What did Mr. Hay think? I’ll let him speak for himself. In 1983, while addressing the pedophile North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), Hay said the following:

“[I]t seems to me that in the gay community the people who should be running interference for NAMBLA are the parents and friends of gays. Because if the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world. And they would be welcoming this, and welcoming the opportunity for young gay kids to have the kind of experience that they would need.”

(Oddly, there’s another “gay” activist group, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, that frequently partners with GLSEN. I wonder where they came up with the catchy title.)

Bolstered by support from the National Education Association, GLSEN has access to your children through sex education curricula it provides thousands of public schools across the country, and via adult sponsored “Gay Straight Alliances,” hosted in those same schools.

Alas, we live in a post-Kinsey America wherein our culture, along with our Judeo-Christian heritage, rots in the heat of the day. The stench of sexual anarchy is masked by the soaring, disingenuous rhetoric of “tolerance,” “diversity” and “comprehensive sex education.”

Sick to your stomach? I am. Why can’t these sexual anarchists leave our children alone and let kids be kids?

————————————-

[Matt Barber is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He serves as Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action. (This information is provided for identification purposes only.)]

8 Lies That Destroy Marriage

SOURCE:  Bill Elliff/Family Life Ministry

Imagine meeting with an engaged couple a few weeks before they are married. With excitement they describe how they met and how their relationship developed. The husband-to-be proudly describes how he set up a perfect romantic evening so he could pop the big question.

Then they surprise you by saying, “We want to get married and have some children. At first we will feel a lot of love for each other. Then we’ll start arguing and hating each other. In a few years, we’ll get a divorce.”

Who would enter marriage intending to get a divorce? And yet, divorce is occurring at alarming rates. A large number of people in my church have been hurt deeply by divorce—they’ve been divorced themselves, or they’ve felt the pain of a parent or relative divorcing.

As common as divorce is, I’m convinced that most of them could be avoided. Mark this down on the tablet of your heart: Every wrong behavior begins with believing a lie. Our culture promotes many deceptions that can quickly destroy a marriage. Here are eight:

Lie #1. “My happiness is the most important thing about my marriage.”  

As a pastor, I can’t tell you how many people have justified breaking up their marriages by saying, “I have to do this. God just wants me to be happy.”

But according to God’s Word, a spouse’s individual happiness is not the purpose for marriage.

The Bible says in Colossians 3:17: “Whatever you do in word or deed,” do for the glory of God. While all parts of creation are to glorify God, mankind was made in God’s very image. Through marriage, husbands and wives are to reflect His character and have children who will reflect His character … all the way to the end of time.

Every marriage knows unhappiness. Every marriage knows conflict. Every marriage knows difficulty. But everyone can be joyful in their marriage by focusing on God’s purposes and His glory instead of individual happiness.

Lie #2. “If I don’t love my spouse any longer, I should get a divorce.”   

It’s a tragedy to lose love in marriage. But the loss of human love can teach us to access a deeper love—the very love of God Himself. That love is patient and kind … it never fails (1 Corinthians 13). It even cares for its enemies.

When human love dies in a marriage, a couple can enter into one of the most exciting adventures they’ll ever have: learning how to love each other with God’s love. Romans 5:5 tells us that this very love “has been poured out within our hearts, through the Holy Spirit.”

Lie #3. “My private immorality does not affect my marriage.”

A lot of people think, I can view pornography in the privacy of my home. It’s just me and my magazine, or computer … it doesn’t affect my marriage.

Oneness in marriage is hijacked by sexual immorality. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:15, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?”

In the 21st century, there are many ways to join oneself with a prostitute: physically, through the pages of a magazine, on a computer’s video screen, etc. Paul’s advice is the same today as it was thousands of years ago: Flee immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18).

If you take your emotional and sexual energy and spend it on someone else, there will be nothing left for your spouse. Those who continually view pornography or engage in sexual fantasies are isolating themselves.

Lie #4. “My sin (or my spouse’s sin) is so bad that I need to get a divorce.”

The truth is God can fix our failures—any failure. The Bible says to forgive one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us (Colossians. 3:13).

“But,” you ask, “Doesn’t Matthew 19:9 say that God allows divorce in the case of sexual immorality?” Yes. I believe that it does—when there is an extended period of unrepentance. Yet, nowhere in that passage does God demand divorce. When there is sexual sin, we should seek to redeem the marriage and so illustrate the unfathomable forgiveness of God.

Some of the greatest life messages I know are the marriages of people who have repented from sexual sin and spouses who have forgiven them. Their lives today are living testimonies to the truth found in Joel 2:25: “… I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”

Lie #5. “I married the wrong person.”

Many people have told me, for example, that they are free to divorce because they married an unbeliever. “I thought he/she would become a Christian, but that didn’t happen. We need to get a divorce.” They recall that they knew it was a mistake, but they married anyway—hoping it would work out. Others claim that they just married someone who wasn’t a good match, someone who wasn’t a true “soul mate.”

A wrong start in marriage does not justify another wrong step. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good,” says Romans 8:28, “to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

God tells us not to be poured into the world’s mold. Instead we are to be transformed and that begins in our minds. By doing this, God will give us exactly what we need for our lives. God’s will for us is good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).

Here’s the key for those who are now married: The Bible clearly says do not divorce (with the exception for extended, unrepentant sexual immorality). God can take even the worst things of life and work them together for good if we will just trust Him.

Lie #6. “My spouse and I are incompatible.” 

I don’t know a lot of husbands and wives who are truly compatible when they get married. In marriage, God joins together two flawed people.

If I will respond correctly to my spouse’s weaknesses, then God can teach me forgiveness, grace, unconditional love, mercy, humility, and brokenness. The life of a person who believes in Jesus Christ is developed by responses to not only happy things, but also to difficulties. And those very difficulties include weaknesses.

That is why we are told in Colossians 3:12-13 to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.” My spouse’s weaknesses are not hindrances. Instead, they are the doorway to spiritual growth. This is a liberating truth.

If I will respond to my spouse’s shortcomings with unconditional acceptance, my love won’t be based on performance. I won’t say, “You need to live up to these expectations.” I will be able to accept my spouse, weaknesses and all. And that acceptance will swing open the door of change for not only my spouse, but also for me.

Lie #7. “Breaking the marriage covenant won’t hurt me or my children.”

When divorce enters a family, there are always scars. I know this firsthand; although I was an adult when my father committed adultery and divorced my mother, decades later there are still effects. Many consequences of divorce never go away.

Blake Hudspeth, our church’s youth pastor, also understands the pain of divorce. He was 5 years old when his parents divorced, and it was hard for him to understand God as Father and to trust people. “The people I trusted the most split up.” He also found it difficult to accept love from others “because I didn’t know if they truly loved me.” And Blake developed a fear of marriage. “Am I going to follow the trend of divorce, because my parents and grandparents divorced?”

Blake’s father even wrote him and said, “This was the worst decision I made in my life. It was bad. It hurt you. It hurt our family. When I divorced your mom, I divorced our family because I broke a covenant that we were a part of.”

Blake says that his parents (who both remarried) have embraced the gospel, resulting in him readily accepting advice and encouragement from them. “Watching the gospel play out … with my mom and dad was huge,” he says.

Lie #8. “There’s no hope for my marriage—it can’t be fixed.” 

This may be the most devastating lie of all. Because in more than four decades of counseling couples, I’ve seen God do the seeming impossible thousands of times. In a dying marriage, He just needs two willing parties. God knows how to get us out of the messes we get ourselves into.

I tell these couples about people like Chuck and Ann, who were involved in drugs and alcohol before God restored their home. Or Lee and Greg, who were engaged in multiple affairs. God brought them back to Christ and to each other. Now they have six children and a marriage ministry. Or Jim and Carol who had taken off their wedding rings and were living in separate bedrooms and about to live in separate worlds when God redeemed them.

If you begin to think, There is no hope for my marriage, realize that, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

We must combat the lies about marriage. The truth will set us free (John 8:32). God can fix anything!

God’s Perspective [Of Me] Is The ONLY One That Counts!

SOURCE:  Living Free Ministry

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewelsIsaiah 61:19 NLT

What words come to mind when asked to describe yourself?

Sometimes we might define ourselves by listing our failures and our negative traits. But God has a different perspective!

If we are followers of Christ, this is how God sees us …

We say: I’m a failure. I can’t do anything right.
God says: You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Philippians 4:13

We say: I still feel guilty about things I’ve done in the past, even though I’ve confessed it all as sin and don’t do those things anymore.
God says: I blot out your sins and remember them no more. Isaiah 43:25

We say: Sometimes I feel so unlovable. How can God possibly keep on loving me?
God says: God says nothing can separate us from his love. Romans 8:38-39

We say: I tend to be such a fearful person.
God says: The righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1

God sees us as righteous, wise and forgiven. He sees us as his treasures, his children.

Consider this … 
Search the scriptures to learn more about how God sees you. And ask him to help you see yourself through his eyes. Only then will you understand your true identity.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for clothing me in the righteousness of Christ. Help me not to think too lowly—or too highly—of myself, but to see myself as you do. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Lessons Learned: Moving from Homosexuality to Holiness by Tammy Webb-Witholt.

God Loves Prayer From a Sincere Heart

SOURCE: by Thomas Brooks as posted by 

God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are;

nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are;

nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are;

nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice,

nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are.

There is no prayer acknowledged, approved, accepted, recorded, or rewarded by God, but that wherein the heart is sincerely and wholly. The true mother would not have the child divided. God loves a broken and a contrite heart, so He loathes a divided heart. God neither loves halting or halving.

—Thomas Brooks (1608–1680) was an English non-conformist Puritan preacher and author.

“Unanswered” Prayer From A God Who ALWAYS Answers

SOURCE:  Pastor Mark Driscoll

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” – Mark 11:23-25

If you have breath, you’ve probably said a prayer that hasn’t been answered. How do we reconcile unanswered prayers with Jesus’ words in Mark?

Unanswered prayer is an issue that challenges believers and non-believers alike and often challenges our perceptions of God’s goodness. C.S. Lewis famously observed, “Every war, every famine or plague, almost every deathbed — is the monument to a petition that was not granted.”[1]

More recently, Philip Yancey confesses to “…obsessing more about unanswered prayers than rejoicing over answered ones.”[2] And it’s not unusual to hear about medical studies showing no real correlation between prayer and physical healing.[3]

Therefore, Jesus’ statements in Mark 11:23-25 provide a difficult problem: do these verses promise that God will answer every prayer, every time?

Two polar views on prayer

In Christianity today, there are two polar views on prayer: prosperity and poverty.

On one hand you have those who preach a false gospel of prosperity, which views God as a cosmic genie who answers our every desire and whim. Want a new Porsche? Pray. Have a debilitating illness? Pray. Need a bigger house? Pray. If you have enough faith, God will grant your wishes. Underlying this belief system is a misunderstanding about faith. It’s assumed that if you don’t have your prayers answered, it’s due to a lack of faith. Jesus promises he’ll answer your prayers if you believe, the teaching goes. So, unanswered prayers must mean a lack of belief.

Unfortunately, this is simplistic, not true, and often damaging, as many people devastated by the effects of sin in this world are deceived into thinking they must work harder in order to earn God’s favor. Only then will he answer your prayers. Even worse, this teaching most often revolves around what is known as health and wealth. God’s will, it’s taught, is to make you rich and healthy. The sign of faith, thus, becomes one’s bank account and material possessions and one’s ability to avoid contracting viruses. This effectively makes anyone poor or sick not victims of sin, but rather victims of a God who doesn’t deem their faith to be substantive enough to warrant answered prayers.

Essentially, the prosperity gospel places the power of answered prayer in our hands and places limits on God’s ability to answer prayer by making him rely on our faith, which is not only unfortunate but also absolutely wrong. God is sovereign over his creation, not the other way around (Isaiah 22:44, 45:5-7; Psalm 115:3, 135:6; Daniel 4:35, Matthew 5:45, Deuteronomy 32:39).

On the other hand you have those who preach a poverty gospel, which views God as cosmic curmudgeon who doesn’t desire to give good gifts to his children. Instead of encouraging people to pray for good things, the poverty gospel teaches an aestheticism that calls for denial of material goods. Want a nice car (or even one that runs)? Sin. Give to the poor instead. Have a debilitating illness? Thank God for salvation, that is enough. Want a bigger house (or even a house at all)? Stop asking. Be glad you have a roof over your head.

Unfortunately, this is also simplistic, wrong, and often damaging, as many people experiencing the effects of sin in the world are deceived into thinking that God is happy to save us but not to enrich our lives in any way outside of spiritual sustenance.

The effects of the poverty gospel result in a people who mark their faith on how little they can get by on rather than the fullness of God’s mercy and love for his children and wrongly views those enjoying God’s blessing as lacking in faith because they don’t sell everything they have and force their children to wear hand-me downs and their spouse to use second-hand tea bags. God is our perfect Father who desires to give us good gifts and to take care of both our earthly and spiritual needs (Luke 11:13, Genesis 12:2, Exodus 23:25, Deuteronomy 7:13, Psalm 67:6).

Tota Sola Scriptura

The distortions on prayer found in both prosperity and poverty theology stem from not taking into account all that the Scriptures have to say on prayer. Those that advocate prosperity theology only take into account those verses that talk of God’s blessing. Conversely, those that advocate poverty theology only take into account those verses that speak negatively about riches and that call for sacrifice.

The answer, as is almost always the case, is a both/and, taking into account all that Scripture has to fully say, and ultimately hinges on a fully biblical view and understanding of God’s sovereignty and his will. A few key verses help us navigate the middle ground of the Scripture’s teachings on prayer.

In 1 John, the apostle teaches, “This is the confidence which have in [God], that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him (5:14-15). Elsewhere, Jesus teaches us to pray according to God’s will, asking that it be done (Matthew 6:10), and he exemplifies this in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

As Wayne Grudem reminds us, when we pray, we can first determine God’s will by reading his Word. Thus, we know that we cannot ask God to grant a prayer that is contra to his Word. For instance, if we ask for a new spouse because we’re tired our current one, we know that no matter how hard we pray, God won’t answer, as it’s asking for God to help us sin.

On other matters, we simply can’t know what God’s will is because the Scriptures don’t speak to our request.

However, there are many situations in life where we do not know what God’s will is. We may not be sure, because no promise or command of Scripture applies, whether it is God’s will that we get the job we have applied for, or win an athletic contest in which we are participating (a common prayer among children, especially), or be chosen to hold office in the church, and so on. In all these cases, we should bring to bear as much of Scripture as we understand, perhaps to give us some general principles within which our prayer can be made. But beyond this, we often must admit that we simply do not know what God’s will is. In such cases, we should ask him for deeper understanding and then pray for what seems best to us, giving reasons to the Lord why, in our present understanding of the situation, what we are praying for seems to be best. But it is always right to add, either explicitly or at least in the attitude of the heart, “Nevertheless, if I am wrong in asking this, and if this is not pleasing to you, then do as seems best in your sight,” or, more simply, “If it is your will.”[4]

This means that we can pray for the whole range of needs and wants in life without feeling guilty because we’re free to ask our Father and also free to rely on the comforting truth that he will accomplish his will. This moves prayer from what we do or don’t have to what we can always be assured of, God’s sovereignty and that he will always do what is good for us and his plans in this world (Philippians 2:12-13).

The Context of Mark 11:23-25

As Jesus taught on prayer in Mark 11:23-25, the Dead Sea was visible from the Mount of Olives. It’s easy to see where the imagery of verse 23 comes from.[5] Many of Mark’s references to “the sea” are referencing the Sea of Galilee but also occasionally reference is made to the destructive power of “the sea.”[6]  In 11:23, “Mark portrays Jesus as utilizing the generally destructive power of the sea for his own purposes.”[7]

The reference to moving mountains has parallels in the teaching of early Rabbis,[8] and as the ESV Study Bible says, “Moving a mountain was a metaphor in Jewish literature for doing what was seemingly impossible (Isa. 40:4; 49:11; 54:10; cf. Matt. 21:21–22). Those who believe in God can have confidence that he will accomplish even the impossible, according to his sovereign will.”

However, Jesus’ specific claim that faith could move mountains was without parallel. The restructuring of the natural world was meant to reveal the presence of God’s future kingdom, a thought that was emphasized by the Old Testament[9] as well as other Jewish texts.[10] Therefore, Jesus’ statement in verse 23 was meant to indicate that the day of salvation had already dawned.

Still, Jesus’ words indicate that prayer is effective. In the Old Testament, for example, God caused the sun to stand still in response to Joshua’s prayer (Joshua 10:12-14). Does God desire to answer prayer? Would a father give his child a stone instead of bread (Matthew 7:9-10)? Prayer is indeed effective so long as it is rooted in God’s will—this is why Jesus tells His disciples that “if you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14, emphasis added).

The Burden of Unanswered Prayer

Even in scripture we see the emotional burden of unanswered prayer. The psalmist laments that “I cry out by day, but you do not answer” (Psalm 22:2). Paul’s prayers that God remove the “thorn in the flesh” go unanswered (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Even Jesus’ own prayer to have the cup of God’s wrath removed was not answered (Luke 22:42). We are no better than our savior and can expect that not everything we ask will be granted by God, but just as Jesus rested in God’s will, so can we.

There may be several reasons why God chooses not to answer prayer:

First, there is simple logic: God cannot go against His own character. God cannot build a square circle. Nor can He answer a prayer to approve of sin.

Second, God’s perspective differs from our own. Some suffering is used to reveal God’s glory (cf. John 9:3). We cannot always know God’s purposes; even the very worst tragedies might later be used for God’s glory.[11]

Third, some desires are selfish (James 4:3). God’s greatest desire might not be for our job promotion or the new car. “For prayer is not a means by which God serves us. Rather, it is a means by which we serve God. Prayer is not a means by which we get our will done in heaven, but a means by which God gets His will done on earth.”[12]

Finally, Mark 11:25 seems to assume a condition to prayers of forgiveness: an unforgiving heart may result in a lack of God’s forgiveness.

Conclusion

To answer our initial question, Jesus’ statements cannot be taken to mean that God will grant every prayer for every person at every time. Prayer, therefore, has less to do with obtaining things and more to do with an ongoing life with God.

A helpful matrix I like to use when it comes to prayer is yes, no, and later. When we pray, God answers sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes later—just as a father does with his own children. Sometimes the later is later in this life. Sometimes the later is in the life after this life. But God does hear and answer every prayer. We must be content with his answer and trust in his sovereignty. For example, one friend of mine was praying for years and finally was healed from an illness that plagued him. Another died and was then healed forever in the presence of Jesus after praying the same kind of prayer for many years.

At the end of the day, the real purpose of prayer is not to obtain things from God, but to relate to God. Philp Yancey writes:

Prayer has become for me much more than a shopping list of requests to present to God. It has become a realignment of everything. …In prayer, I shift my point of view away from my own selfishness. I climb above timberline and look down at the speck that is myself. I gaze at the stars and recall what role I, or any of us, play in a universe beyond comprehension. Prayer is the act of seeing reality from God’s point of view.[13]

Still, we should seek God in prayer for all things. As the writer of Hebrews says, “Draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help [us] in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). To not seek God for our needs and desires is not a mark of maturity, but the absence of it.

Jesus’ message in Mark 11 is that a relationship with God is greater than a religious system. It’s purchased by His blood. We may therefore enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom, including access to God’s throne. When we see prayer in this light, even unanswered prayers become a part of our relationship with God.


[1] C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer.  (United States: Mariner Books, 1964), p. 58.

[2] Philp Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make a Difference? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), p. 16.

[3] Benedict Carey, “Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer.” New York Times, March 31, 2006.  Appearing online at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html?pagewanted=all.  Accessed November 7, 2011.  The article sites six studies that do not seem to show correlation between patients’ healing and prayer.  This simply reflects the cultural expectation that prayer yields near-immediate results.

[4] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 383.

[5] William Lane, The Gospel According to Mark.  (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 410.

[6] Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, Narrative Space and Mythic Meaning in Mark, (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), 58-9.

[7] Ibid., p. 78.

[8] Rabbinical texts include the following statements:

T. Sol. 23:1 A demon says to Solomon: “I am able to move mountains;” b. Sanh. 24a.: “You would think he was uprooting mountains and grinding them against each other,”b. Bat. 3b: “I will uproot mountains;”

[commenting on Lev 6:13] Lev. Rab. 8:8: “[Samson] took two mountains and knocked them against one another”

Cited in Craig Evans, Mark 8:27-16:20.  (Grand Rapids: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2001), p. 189.

[9] Cf. Isaiah 40:3-5; 45:2; 49:11; cf. 54:10; Zechariah 14:4-5.

[10] Pss Sol. 11:4; Bar. 5:7.

[11] An excellent perspective on this is the well-known post on the Desiring God website entitled: “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.”  Written February 16, 2006.  Appearing online at http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/dont-waste-your-cancer.  Last accessed November 7, 2011.

[12] Norm Geisler and Thomas Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992), p. 374.

[13] Yancey, Prayer…, p.  29.

God’s Word: The Best Prop in Hard Times

SOURCE: Taken from an article by Joseph Stowell

WORD POWER

“I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.” Psalm 119:107

It was a beautiful day except for the fact that after a sizzling front nine, my golf game had tanked big time. I felt embarrassed in front of the two other guys I was playing with and really disappointed in myself. Why I tortured myself with golf and call it a game I’ll never know! But like a sports masochist, I keep going back for more pain.

As I was stuffing my clubs into the back of my car, trying to put on a good face, I was struck with the fact that I had just spent the afternoon with two guys who have problems that make my lame golf game look like a cakewalk.

Both of them have trouble on the home front, the kind of trouble that hurts the worst. Robert’s wife has been running him through the wringer of an excruciating divorce. It is something that he does not want and has tried for two agonizing years to turn around. She wants nothing to do with him or reconciliation.

My other golf buddy (the one who beat me mercilessly on the back nine) has been living for years with a situation at home that none of us would ever dream of enduring. His wife struggles with severe emotional imbalance and, though at one time was a follower of Christ, now wants nothing to do with Jesus or her husband. She still lives with her husband, so you can imagine what it means to walk into the house after a tough day at work to face a whole new set of challenges at home. He goes to church alone. He sleeps alone.

As I closed the back of my Tahoe, I noticed that my golf buddies were talking to each other in upbeat tones. What caught my attention is that they were talking about passages of Scripture that they had shared with each other the week before.

As they quoted portions of the passages to each other, the power of the content was compelling: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure” (Psalm 16:8-9). “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71).

It was clear to see that they were lifting each other up with the power of God’s Word. Their enthusiasm for the support and joy they were experiencing in God and His Word proved that in times of trouble the Word of God is a source of comfort that infuses unusual strength into situations that put Word-less people into the dumpster.

I have to admit that I have never thought of using God’s Word to prop me up when my golf game goes south. But I was reminded afresh that there is unusual power in the Word of God to give us an edge during times of trouble.

So, when life hits the wall—go to the Word. And don’t isolate yourself!

God loves us and gave us His Word to take us all the way through!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Flip through the book of Psalms until you find a passage that speaks to your heart. Memorize the key lines and meditate on them throughout your day.
  • Pray the passage back to God in personal terms.
  • Keep looking. The Psalms are a therapeutic gold mine!

What Controls Your Attitude?

SOURCE:  Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Do you ever have one of those weeks? You know, where life seems to always be one step ahead of you. You can never catch your breath and feel like you are constantly choking. No break in sight. Just when it seems like life can’t get any worse … it does.

I recently had one of those weeks. My wife and I weren’t connecting and tension was in the air. Discussions about the upcoming holidays were pending. The kids’ attitudes were affected by household chores and difficulties at school and with peers. At work there was one curve-ball after another. Accounts weren’t paid on time, some contractors gave us some bad news, others weren’t producing, friends were really struggling, plans for a mission trip were not going smoothly. Then, with so much work to catch up on, a storm blew in and we lost power for 48 hours.

In the past, these kinds of weeks would have caused so much distress, prompting poor decisions that would have led to even worse circumstances and consequences. This vicious cycle would spiral so quickly and last longer because of the poor way I handled a set of circumstances.

My life took a dramatic turn when I learned that no matter what you do, you will never stop life’s bad turns.  We are all going to be tested, to be sifted, purified, and refined.

Traffic jams will cause you to miss that important appointment. You’ll lose a job or promotion. Someone will be rude or hurtful, or cheat on you. Regardless of the situation, remember, God is the one who allows all things to happen. We don’t know why, but He does, and He has a plan.

You can live happily each day despite life’s ups and downs, but it can only be done through daily dependence on Jesus Christ and trust in God’s sovereignty and plan. The Apostle Paul tells us that he learned the secret of being content in every situation: that he could do everything through Him that gives me strength.

Today, remember it’s not what happens to you that counts. How you choose to react to each situation reflects your attitude, your heart, and is the fruit of your life.

It just comes down to who’s in control of your attitude. When you feel uncomfortable today, stop and assess your reaction to the day’s events. What kind of lenses are you using, your me-centered ones, or your God-centered ones? Your decision, choose well.

 Prayer

Dear Father God, I invite You to be in me and at work with me. Help me grow, Father, so that I may have the same attitude and mind as Jesus Christ. I know peace doesn’t come from the outside, but comes only from You inside me. Help me look inward for peace and not wait for my circumstances to settle down for me to be at peace. I do not want to be ruled by the circumstances around me … I want to be ruled and guided by Your Holy Spirit. I pray in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus – AMEN!

The Truth

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5

 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

Lord, Help Me Be Ordinary and Average

Ordinary is the New Cool

SOURCE:  Ed Welch

Most of us want to both fit in and stand out. We want to be included in the group, yet we would like to rise above the ordinary and make a unique contribution.

Well, times are changing. Those contradictory desires are passé. Cling to them at the expense of your reputation. Though we still want to be part of a larger group, ordinary is the new cool.

God delights in using average people…

Some people have smarts, money, status and just plain pizzazz; other people don’t. God calls and uses those who don’t, though he occasionally makes exceptions. The people who ate with Jesus were the marginalized, the misfits, the ones who had to work for everything they ever got and still couldn’t make it, the unattractive, and the ones who didn’t seem to be worth much, at least in the minds of the cultural elites. You wouldn’t think that such a group would be at the very center of a world-shaking movement that will last forever. Even ordinary people would stock their inner circle with the best and brightest if we were to rule the world.

But God is different.  He delights in using average people to advance his Kingdom.

Fishermen rather than Pharisees.
Shepherds rather than rich men.

And women!

In New Testament times the status of women was on par with children and slaves, who could contribute nothing of value to the empire.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things– and the things that are not– to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor. 1:26-29)

…but we still want status

So what do you boast in? What would you like to be able to boast in?

Me personally? Ugh. A sermon that keeps most people awake, decent evaluations from students, physical abilities with which I can beat my sons-in-law at some sports or physical games. The list could go on.

My own story can easily be told as, “One person’s futile quest to avoid the ordinary.” I wasn’t better looking than others, so I searched for above-average-ness in other areas. Swimming was one. It served fairly well in high school and college. Then I discovered there were people who were just plain faster than me, and more effort on my part wouldn’t change that. So I quit swimming in my junior year of college. That decision, I thought, wasn’t ordinary. Not too many people quit while they are having some success. The reason I gave people for quitting: “there are more important things in life” (said in a slightly condescending way). The real reason I quit: I knew there was fast competition and I didn’t want accept that I was an average swimmer.

So I threw my hat in with academics. The resulting sense of being special lasted about two months. Smarter people, I discovered, were everywhere. With my “above-average better-than-you list” depleted, I was feeling weak and useless, which is apparently a fine setting for being converted, which is what happened.

But it has taken a while to enjoy being weak and not too important.

Aim for the Ordinary

Here are ways to aim for ordinary. Most of them come from the apostle Paul.

Remember that everything you have has been given to you. You didn’t earn your life, breath or talents.

Allow emerging aches, pains and physical disabilities to remind you that you are, indeed, wasting away.

Enjoy being needy before God and others. You certainly cannot survive without God’s moment-to-moment care.

And you cannot survive without the other members of the body of Christ.

Approach the Lord with fear and reverence.

Identify yourself as the Lord’s slave, and delight in that.

Remember, when you aim to find anything in which to boast, or (as we say more often) anything in which to find your identity, you cannot also boast in Jesus. You can only do one or the other.

Ordinary is Not Mediocre

This, of course, is not an ode to mediocrity. Mediocrity arises out of indifference, and the Kingdom of Heaven has no room for indifference. And this is not an excuse for laziness. Indolence is a kind of self-indulgence, and that, too, has no place in the Kingdom. Instead, I am using ordinary and average as ways to say that status is ascribed to us by the Lord, not achieved. This leads to a lifestyle that doesn’t seek the praise of other people.

Life works like this. Everyone is ordinary. Yes, I know that we are made in God’s image, but that gives us no reason to take pride in ourselves. Those who have come to terms with their ordinariness are on a path of uniqueness and strength. They have learned to think less often about themselves. Get to know them and you have a sense that you are with greatness. Those who insist on personal reputation are brutish and small. Get to know them and you extend pity.

I too often straddle both groups.

————————————————————————————————————————————–


Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a neuro-psychology specialty from the University of Utah as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary.

10 Things Submission Is Not

Editor’s Note:  Submission is a topic that tends to be naively understood or, too often, grossly misunderstood.  The below article sheds light on this topic from God’s perspective.

SOURCE:  Jennifer Smidt

1. Simply or singularly a marriage issue

Submission is God’s design. It is a reflection of the interaction within the Trinity. Whether single or married, submission is a core heart issue revealing one’s dependence upon God. For a wife, it demonstrates her willingness to yield to her husband’s lead in obedience and belief of God’s covenant to her.

2. Degrading

Women have been lured into believing that submission is somehow humiliating. It does not bestow second-class status. It was Christ’s glory to submit to his father’s plan of redemption for his children; it is a wife’s glory to submit to God’s plan of provision and protection for her life

3. Silent

When submission is depicted as voiceless oppression, both men and women lose. God declared that men need help and to leave them without our prayerful input is to deny them help—the very thing God declared they need. Submission uses her voice to speak words of grace and life into her husband’s life.

4. Fearful

A fearful woman will have a very hard time submitting to her husband. A fearful woman isn’t actively trusting God with her life, which makes entrusting a man with your future nearly impossible. Submission to Christ frees a woman from fear as she rests in God’s character and provision for her, delivered through her husband.

5. Joyless

A joyless wife is an ungrateful wife. Submission says, as Jesus did, “Not my will but yours be done.” There is great joy found in doing the will of God. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, joy bubbles out of a heart that is thankful to God for who he is and what he gives.

Whether single or married, submission is a core heart issue revealing one’s dependence upon God.

6. Stifling

When submissive women are portrayed as stunted or limited in their freedom, they are being lied about. Submission is a safe place of protection where we are able to express our gifts and creativity for the glory of God and benefit of our marriages.

7. Dumb

It is not a dumb thing to do, nor does it make you dumb. There is no “I get to check my brain at the door because he is in charge” thinking as the world often portrays. Submission is the response of an intelligent woman who knows her Bible and believes that God’s design is best.

8. Weak

Submissive women are not mousy. They will not settle for doormat status. The posture of submission is strength willingly placed under the authority of another. Our husbands need our best. Our best is the power that comes from Christ alone as we depend on him to embody Christlikeness to our men.

9. Automatic

A submissive spirit does not kick in the moment you say, “I do”. It is a heart response that all women begin to cultivate as we submit to Christ first. Wives will have their hearts exposed in the area of submission to God. A wife who submits cheerfully and graciously to her husband will always have at her core a heart knelt in submission to Christ.

10. Self-Focused

A truly submissive heart doesn’t need to be concerned with taking care of herself. The submitted heart does not ask, “What’s in it for me?” but rather, “How can I serve God and my husband with my life?”

———————————————————————–

Jen is the wife of Pastor Phil Smidt and is a deacon at Mars Hill Church involved in teaching and counseling couples and women.

Does God Have A “Low View” Of Me?

False Humility, Worm Theology, Self-esteem, and Other Related Concepts

SOURCE:  Practical Theology For Women/Wendy Horger Alsup

“The greatest enemy of the spiritual life is self-rejection BECAUSE it contradicts the Voice that calls you Beloved.” –Henri Nouwin

As I read the resurrection narrative recently, I was hit by Christ’s words to Mary in John 20.

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

I have always been challenged by the idea of being a co-heir with Jesus Christ.

Romans 8 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

If the Bible didn’t say it so clearly itself, I’d think it blasphemous to claim it for myself. Yet, Scripture is clear – I am a co-heir with Jesus Christ. CO-heir.

But I must keep all my verses in the Bible, right? I can’t choose between seemingly conflicting passages. Instead, I must use opposing statements in Scripture together to inform and interpret each other. Scripture is the best commentary on itself. And Scripture also says that I am a sinner, incapable of saving myself.

Ephesians 2 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins … and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved …

Holding the two together is a necessity. I sometimes hear a phrase, worm theology, that refers to how Christians view themselves.

Here’s a blurb from wikipedia.

Worm Theology is a term used for the conviction in Christian culture that in light of God’s holiness and power an appropriate emotion is a low view of self. … The name may be attributed to a line in the Isaac Watts hymn Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed (Pub 1707) [1], which says “Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?”

A low view of self. I seriously, strongly reject that.

I can’t say strong enough how unhealthy I think that is for a believer. Like Nouwin’s quote at the beginning of this article, that view tempts me to downplay what GOD HIMSELF says about me. Pastor John Piper, who has greatly influenced me, wrote this recently. I appreciated his clarification of what he means when he uses the worm analogy. Yet, I still resist the terminology. God doesn’t have a low  view of me. He created me in His image and names me a co-heir with Jesus. He calls me His beloved and affirms His lavish grace poured over me from before time began. As I sit with Jesus as a co-heir (God’s term, not mine), I can’t imagine that the term worm will describe any part of that relationship whatsoever.

I’m concerned that the use of the term worm in today’s evangelicalism is more a result of a hymn than Scripture. Did you know that the phrase “for such a worm as I” is not in the Bible? In my own study, I found 3 references in Scripture where humans are referred to as worms (Job 25:6 , Psalm 22:6, and Isa 41:14). Are these the foundational verses on how we are to view ourselves? Do these 3 verses inform all the others on God’s view of His children? Scripture is the best commentary on itself. In light of that, it’s valuable for us to go back to what Scripture itself says about the value and worth (or lack thereof) of humans. And there is no better place to do that than the origins of man in Genesis 1.

26  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27  So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

If we use these verses to interpret each other, it gives us parameters for how to think of ourselves. God made us not worms but like Him to rule the worm. I get annoyed at facebook statuses among Christians that seem to compete on how lowly they can talk of themselves. We don’t have to put on a false humility. I personally can easily fall into self-deprecation and self-condemnation. But my version of worm theology becomes as self-centered as any manifestation of pride from which I’m trying to protect myself. Perhaps that’s why I resonate with Tim Keller’s quote on the gospel which I keep at the top of my blog.

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”
Tim Keller, The Reason for God

I love this. I understand the problem with swaggering. But I don’t have to counteract it by sniveling. I am flawed, but I am loved. And it is this deep confidence in what God has said over us that frees me to REAL humility, not a false one clothed in self-deprecating terminology.

When Life Seems Unfair

SOURCE:  Our Daily Bread/Joe Stowell

Have you ever felt that life is unfair? For those of us who are committed to following the will and ways of Jesus, it’s easy to get frustrated when people who don’t care about Him seem to do well in life. A businessman cheats yet wins a large contract, and the guy who parties all the time is robust and healthy—while you or your loved ones struggle with finances or medical issues. It makes us feel cheated, like maybe we’ve been good for nothing.

If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re in good company. The writer of Psalm 73 goes through a whole list of how the wicked prosper, and then he says, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain” (v.13). But the tide of his thoughts turns when he recalls his time in God’s presence: “Then I understood their end” (v.17).

When we spend time with God and see things from His point of view, it changes our perspective completely. We may be jealous of the nonbelievers now, but we won’t be at judgment time. As the saying goes, what difference does it make if you win the battle but lose the war?

Like the psalmist, let’s praise God for His presence in this life and His promise of the life to come (vv.25-28).

He is all you need, even when life seems unfair.

All wrongs will one day be set right
By God who sees both bad and good;
All motives and all deeds will then
Be fairly judged and understood. —D. De Haan

Spending time with God puts everything else in perspective.

Options For Dealing With Our Emotions: Choose Wisely

SOURCE:  Adapted from an ariticle by Dr. Robert Kellemen

Emotional Stoics Versus Emotional Poets

God calls us to be emotional “poets.” We are to manage our moods the way the psalmists did— facing our feelings face-to-face with God and soothing our soul in our Savior.

Instead of being passionate poets like the psalmists, we become apathetic stoics. We try to live without pathos, without passion and feeling. Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame was a stoic. He tried to repress his emotions, deny them, if he could, eradicate them.

It’s easy to understand stoicism’s attraction. Hatred, despair, and terror are not exactly the most attractive experiences. When they sweep over us, we flee them like an invading army.

We can understand stoics by contrasting them with poets. What should biblical poets do with their anger, hatred, and rage?

1. Option One: Acknowledging Our Moods or Trying to Eradicate Our Moods

We should not try to eradicate our feelings. Paul tells us to be angry but sin not; he does not tell us never to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). Emotional poets acknowledge their moods to themselves (candor) and to God (lament).

Psalm 73 is a classic expression of a believer’s struggle to comprehend and control his envy, jealousy, and hatred. Asaph is dismayed that a good God could allow bad things to happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. He faces his envy coram Deo (face-to-face with God) telling God all about it. He doesn’t wait to be rid of his envy before he dares enter his Father’s presence. He takes himself, all that he is, including his envy, to God.

Stoics, on the other hand, try to eradicate their hatred. “If I don’t think about it, it’s not there. If I repress it, it will go away.” They choose denial over candor and lament.

2. Option Two: Seeing Our Feelings with Spiritual Eyes or with Eyeballs Only

As emotional poets, God wants us to explore our moods with spiritual eyes. Asaph enters the presence of God to gain perspective on his perspective. “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny” (Psalm 73:16-17). God calls us to view our external situation and our internal moods from His eternal perspective.

Those who repress their moods try the opposite approach. When a mood doesn’t vanish, they mull it over and over and over again with eyeballs only—from a worldly perspective. Asaph was once trapped there, seeing only the prosperity of the wicked. We’re doomed to defeat whenever we look at our situations and our feelings only from a temporal perspective.

3. Option Three: Confessing My Sinful Anger or Playing the Pharisee with My Sinful Anger

Third, emotional poets confess their sinful anger to Father. “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you” (Psalm 73:21-22).

Of course, not all anger is sinful. But sinful anger—anger that is self-centered and self-protective, anger that pushes us away from God and others—we confess that anger.

Stoics, on the other hand, don’t confess their mismanaged moods to God. They don’t believe that they could come to God unless they perfectly, serenely suppress their rage. They play the emotional Pharisee—trying to deal with their emotions through the flesh, through works, and through self-sufficiency.

4. Option Four: Facing Feelings with Grace or with Works

Fourth, poets receive grace. “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand” (Psalm 73:23).

Not so the emotional stoic. In self-righteousness, they never receive grace. They think, “Why do I need grace? I manage quite well on my own.”

5. Option Five: Choosing God-Sufficiency or Self-Sufficiency

Fifth, poets recognize that only God is enough. “Whom have I in heaven but you, and earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). Godly emotional poets choose God-sufficiency.

Emotional stoics choose self-sufficiency by denying and attempting to repress their feelings.

Why? Facing moods forces us to face our insufficiency. Nothing makes us feel punier than being overwhelmed by feelings. No one wants to hear the derogatory comment, “He’s so moody.” “She’s so emotional!”

When feelings overpower us we feel powerless, impotent. In our flesh, we would rather stuff our moods, would rather survive self-sufficiently, than admit that we need help managing our moods.

That’s why stuffing our feelings is sinful—it is a work’s orientation. It displays a self-sufficient denial of our need for God. Though more subtle than out-of-control expression (spearing) of our feelings, suppression is equally sinful.

Designed by God

Source:  Living Free (12/2/06)

In the United States, an estimated six to eleven million people struggle with eating disorders. Distorted body image and denial of actual body size can trigger eating disordered behavior. Most people falling into the trap of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia are preoccupied with food and with their body image.

People with this preoccupation usually let their body define who they are. They exaggerate the importance of slimness and are terrified of gaining weight. They are dissatisfied with their body to the point that their day-to-day state of well-being is affected.

Does this describe you or someone you love? I encourage you to ask God to help you see yourself through His eyes. He loves you unconditionally. He created you in His image. In fact, the Bible tells us that God formed our inmost being in our mother’s womb with His plan already in place for our lives. He made you special and unique, equipped with the gifts you need to accomplish His purpose for your journey.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27  (NIV)

When you look in the mirror, remember that you are viewing someone very special, designed by God. Your self-worth does not depend on how much you weigh or even on what you accomplish. You are special because God created you and because He loves you. I encourage you to open your heart up to His love today.

All Shapes and Sizes

People struggling with eating disorders become preoccupied with food and their body image. They become overly concerned about how others see and react to their body size. They tend to feel extremely guilty after eating and think a lot about dieting. Sometimes they even have fears about never being able to stop eating.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing this kind of fear and guilt, here are a few thoughts. Try to accept the fact that bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Remember that we can be our own worst critics and that others really find us attractive. Cut yourself some slack! Allow for normal variations in your weight and shape.

Let yourself enjoy the functions of your body parts, not just how they look. Be thankful that you can use your legs to walk and run, and your arms and hands to do thousands of wonderful things.

Be willing to recognize your strengths in terms of your appearance–the parts of your body that you like–and your personal qualities like caring, enthusiasm, and honesty.

God created you … He loves you … And that makes you very special indeed.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8  (NLT)

Choose Your Focus

People with eating disorders tend to get so preoccupied with their body image that they develop a distorted view of themselves. Their concerns about food, diet, body and weight can even begin to affect their relationships and their ability to function in day-to-day life.

If you are in this situation, I encourage you not to let your obsession with your body keep you from closeness with God and with others. Decide how you wish to spend your energy–pursuing the “perfect” image? … Or focusing on your spiritual growth and your personal and interpersonal needs.

Society changes its view of what is beautiful–styles come and go. But God’s view of beauty never changes. Identifying and challenging your negative thoughts and feelings about your body and keeping God’s view in mind are essential to accepting yourself and your body.

Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. Romans 12:1-2 (CEV)

Always remember … your value as a person is not based on how you look or what you accomplish. Your value is based on the unchangeable fact that God loves you so much that He gave His son Jesus to die on the cross for you. Reach out to Him today. Receive His love and forgiveness. And thank Him for making you just the way you are.

Focus on the Internal, Not the External

People with eating disorders tend to become very self-focused and overly concerned with being acceptable to other people.

Acceptance of your body is a daily process of perspective. One day you may feel fat and unattractive, and the next day you may feel slim and pretty–even though your body has not essentially changed. Ask God to help you see your body from His perspective and to accept yourself as His special creation.

It is important to take your focus off your external body and begin to explore your internal self–emotionally, spiritually and as a growing human being. Remember that attractiveness comes from within. Feeling positive about yourself will affect how others view you.

Spend time reading the Bible. Ask God to help you begin to comprehend just how much He loves you and how special you are to Him. Remember that He knew you even when your body was being formed within your mother’s womb. He has a special plan for your life and it is a good plan. Thank Him for loving you. Thank Him for making you just the way you are. And open your heart to his unconditional love.

You are the one who put me together inside my mother’s body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. Psalm 139:13-14  (CEV)

Seeing Through God’s Eyes

Preoccupation with our body image is counter to God’s will for our lives. If you find yourself in this struggle, I urge you to ask God for help. Ask Him to help you see yourself as He does–as His treasure. His precious child. He loves you unconditionally. He love you so much that He gave His Son Jesus to provide a way for you to be forgiven and live with Him in heaven forever.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

God loves you just the way you are. No matter what you have or haven’t done, no matter how you look. He wants you to know how special you are to Him. He has a good plan for your life.

Take time right now to talk to Him. Tell Him how you feel. Ask Him to help you. Accept His forgiveness for all past sin and commit to follow Him, to do things His way. He won’t turn you away. Actually, He’s waiting for you with open arms.

Your problems probably won’t instantly disappear. But Jesus will be holding your hand and guiding you to health and healing, to right choices, and to becoming all He has designed you to be.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God!  Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!  Proverbs 3:5-8  (MSG)

Tag Cloud