By the Numbers

Showing posts with label Love & Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Love & Family. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Adam and Eve in The Garden of Eden

                       Adam and Eve in The Garden of Eden

The Bible account (Genesis 2; 3) of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden may seem like somebody's made up story to teach children that the real world is filled with dangers that in growing up we must learn to overcome. There are no talking snakes, no fruit on trees that give life and knowledge of good and evil, no God who walks and talks among us, and the devil is only fear of the dark. This story is not an actual event testable by empirical science, but only a primitive myth.
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But could we be making assumptions we can't prove, or have misunderstandings? The theory that the world is matter, is not matter itself, knowledge and information require a thinking mind. And if physicists can honestly admit space, time and matter came into being, it's being may not be detectable physical energy such as gravity, but an infinite mind or God present everywhere. And if there's God who can create a universe from nothing, He would have no problem creating a man and woman as the account describes. Even a simple bacteria is a city of interacting machines. Its complexity, unity, and precision could never be the produce of random process even in unlimited time. It requires an infinite intelligence such as the self-existent Creator God of the Bible (Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14). Further, isn't it a tremendous burden on naturalistic science to assume every reproductive male and female kind of life form appear together at the same place and time?
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The account is not useless technical evolving science, but meant to be simple truth all cultures at all times can understand. We know birds talk and can even say words we understand. If Satan is the world's deceiver, he must can do unusual deceptive tricks (Ephesians 6:11). The trees only need to represent symbols to show that we have a real choice between God's way or the devil's. Our first parents bad choice, meant mankind's spiritual death, leading to physical death, and eternal separation from God.  But God promised the defeat of Satan and sin in a coming redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; 1 John. 3:8; John 10:10; Rom. 16:20). Evolving scientific theory must unite genes of our first parents Adam and Eve. Original sin best accounts for universal evils (Matt. 19:4; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 11:9; 2 Cor. 11:3). God saw to it that this event was recorded and preserved for future generations.  And speaking of God in human terms is necessary to be understood in every culture and time. Any kind of scientific explanation would soon be useless.

Biblical prophets and apostles preached God's acts to people of their day. Their preaching was fulfilled and recorded by the same groups of people the prophets condemned who surely would have challenged any false statements. Some archaeologists are strangely silent about newly discovered monument inscriptions confirming biblical kings, cities, and events. Could these critics claiming Bible history is myth and written decades or even centuries later be willfully deceived?
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Without the Bible's revealed God we must face our utter hopelessness. It means the world has no ultimate purpose, morality has no authority--there's just limited conflicting human opinions. Death means lights out eternally, man is just another perishing animal, and whoever usurps power can kill or enslave the rest of us. Can you be open minded?  Our first parents were not hairy, chattering, knuckle-walking, ignorant monkeys. And, Christians have a living hope in a risen Lord who may catch us up to Him any time (1 Thess. 4:16-18). Now allow me to discuss important points in the story.
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Our first parents were created by God in His rational, moral image. Indeed, they had all God's communicable attributes as we do today. Adam was made directly from the ground. He walked and talked with God (John 1:14), tended the garden, named the animals and could find no animal compatible with him. All this shows man never was an animal, nor descended from them, and is always responsible to God. Further, Eve, said to be our first mother also created in God's image was on the same level of dignity as Adam. And as any child knows, both are designed for each other and have compatible but separate rolls. Even supposing the sexes can be born with affection only for their own gender, they are not forced to carry it out. God calls that sin (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). We intuitively know of God, but suppress that knowledge being hard hearted not wanting or trusting even  a loving God to rule over us. But He will (Ps. 2:8-9; Romans 1;2; Rev. 2:27).
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God warned our first parents not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represent our own choice of the kind of world we desire. Our many daily choices, motives, actions either please or displease the God who sustains our life. We have a conscience that  knows right and wrong. We know that how we want to be treated, is how others want to be treated as well--which renders us without excuse (Rom.2:14-15). Whatever our heredity and environment in a wicked world may be, we still have free choice or can choose the lessor evil.
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Critics protest this in contradictory ways. Bible critics say science shows our choices and acts are determined or fixed, then try to persuade us of acceptance. They claim great evils remain in the world which show no good and powerful God exists, then claim a loving God would never punish us as in Hell. But the Bible teaches heaven or hell is our choice. God invites us to trust the Savior and be with Him in heaven or have our own way alone in eternal darkness (John 3:16-21). Now if there is a Creator, why can't there be a much lessor power as the devil?  Couldn't the critics be wrong?
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Consider how the devil deceived our parents and us. (1) Doubt. God's Word and His goodness. "Did God say you must not eat from any tree of the garden?" God in grace provided a multitude of trees from which to eat as He does give us a multitude of blessings today. (2) Discouragement. Makes us focus on troubles rather than on God and blessings. (3) Diversion. Makes the wrong things seem more attractive--beautiful tree, delicious fruit, make you wise. (4) Defeat. Makes us feel guilty ashamed failures. (5) Delay. They should immediately have repented and been forgiven. Instead they were afraid, tried to hide from God, and cover their guilty rebellion with fig leaves.

We don't have to be captive to the devil or his demons. Jesus was given all authority in Heaven and earth (Matt. 28:19-20). In Christ believers have authority over the demons like snakes and scorpions. But don't rejoice because evil spirits obey you, rejoice because your names are registered in heaven (Luke 10:19-20). Fig leaves was their attempt to hide their sin. But God graciously provided for our parent's restoration with a blood sacrifice of animal skins and the promise of a coming Savior (Gen. 3:15; Lev. 17:11). That foretold of Jesus' blood sacrifice on the cross for our sin that alone can reconcile us to God and give us peace (Col. 1:20).
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Won't you admit, Lord, I'm a rebellious unholy self-centered sinner unfit for Heaven and deserve Hell. I trust you now to cleanse me of sin, make me acceptable to You, and enable me  to live a victorious life of witness to your grace. I trust you as my eternal Lord, Savior and Guide until you take me to live forever with YOU.  Thank you Lord.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lord Jesus, We Trust, Love, and Obey You.

                 Lord Jesus, We Trust, Love, and Obey You.
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Lord, life is full of difficulties, perplexities, temptations, injustices, sufferings. But, we don't excuse our sins by blaming You for the evils we humans commit to become bitter about life. We trust in Your redemption,  righteousness, love, promises, and good purpose to make us better persons who make a better world. We grow in faith and achieve victory over adversities as we focus on You, Your will, grace and glory. You promised believers in Jesus Heaven, and a higher quality of life, dignity, and purpose on our way. Help me clarify this Lord in the following statements of biblical Christian faith.
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Both science and reason agree in this: Anything begun must have an adequate cause for its beginning. Several facts show a nonexistent universe didn't create itself. It's expanding from a central point. Its useful energy is being depleted. Its existence cannot be traced backward eternally. So it depends upon a prior adequate eternal cause for its existence.  See Hebrews 3:4; Ephesians 2:8-10.
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But what kind of cause is required for its existence? A preexisting cause is required for our beginning material space-time universe that is immaterial (or spiritual), that exists outside of space and time, that sustains the universe, yet can act within it. It required an eternal, unchangeable, or self-existent cause independent of creation. Further, the universe's immensity, complexity, and fine-tuned interrelated elements show design suggesting an infinite powerful mind and will. That means a personal intelligence is behind the creation of the universe. And since there can only be one Almighty Creator, this is the same God Almighty the Bible describes. See Gen. 1:1; Psalm 19:1; Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:17.
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Science too shows this. Dead chemicals don't spontaneous become alive. Mindless molecules don't magically arrange themselves into men no matter how much time. Living things have an immensely complex genetically instructed language with built in limitations. Complex linked systems and organs must function together from their beginning. Thousands of transitional forms would prove macro-evolution, but their absence shows God created life to reproduce after it's own kind--dogs don't change into horses, monkeys don't evolve into men. Vast differences between man and animals show You created us Lord in your mental, moral immortal image from the beginning. You made us directly and dominant over the animals, and for relationship with You. See Gen. 2:15-24; 3; Matt. 19:4; 1 John 1:1-3; Rev. 21:1-4.
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We, however have limitations. We limited persons cannot prescribe Lord, what You can or cannot do, nor how You must manifests Yourself--You have to make all that known to us. And, You Have manifested Yourself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit  throughout Bible history. See Gen. 1:2; Psalm 2:7; Isa. 9:6; Matt. 28:19-20; John 1:1-3,14; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 1:1-4; 1 John 1:1-3; 2 John 7. Lord, we acknowledge You have revealed Yourself as the Creator of all worlds and our Life Giver. 

Now this is the decisive question: How can we know You speak and act in our world? It seems there could be three visible ways the all knowing Almighty Creator could get our attention and show us he speaks and acts in our world. One, send messengers who can predict the future. Two, have his  messengers control the forces of nature. Three, come to live among us to explain his plan and give us hope.
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Consider some Bible prophets and supernatural fulfillment. Samuel told Saul 20 signs that would take place the day he was anointed to show he would be Israel's king (1 Samuel 10:1-9). Saul sent messengers to capture David three times who became God's prophets instead, and then Saul prophesied (1 Samuel 19:20-24). Another prophet gave Israel's King Jeroboam a sign his altar would break and a future descendant of David named Josiah would burn false priests bones on his altar--it occurred 300 years later  (1 Kings 13:1-6; 2 Ki. 23:15-20).  Please read the Bible passages.
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Consider also his messengers control of the forces of nature. Unlike pagan myths, or hearsay  miracles of Indian holy men, Bible miracles were supernatural signs before astonished eyewitnesses. God's prophets risked their lives to warn evil rulers of judgment. As Lord of nature, miracles are no great feat, and they occur only at times and places that confirm God's redemptive purpose. 
 
Now consider Jesus, the God-man, who walked among us. This is shown by His fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His admission to be God's Son, His death for our sins, His resurrection, His command of angels and demons, and His Ascension into Heaven. Both Jewish and secular writers mention events of his life described in the gospels and epistles. So Lord, we trust Your Word as true and the light to our pathway. See Luke 1:1-4; John 21:24-25; Acts 1:1-3; 2:22-24; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:16 .
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Science can only describe what is, not what ought to be. Scientific method depends on a rational world, valid logic, honest and accurate data, and absolute truth--all these depend upon a good and rational Creator. If scientific determinism is true, everything is programmed--we have no free will, no dignity, no moral responsibility--we're just animated machines that perish. And, if libertarian free will is true, then we can do anything we desire even to murder the human race. Laws, locks, jails, judges, and wars worldwide show we have a natural inborn bent to sin and rebellion.
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Can we face reality? Unbelief blames You Lord as cause of suffering, injustice, misery, murder, rape, torture, warfare, and every evil. But it's us who rebel and despise your commandments that are for our good. It's us who are ungrateful for Your blessings, who ignore Your invitations, who spurn Your warnings, who disdain Your judgments. We deny design in nature, harden our conscience, quench Your Spirit, turn our backs from Your goodness, love, and salvation in Christ. Lord, You don't send us to Hell, we choose eternal darkness and torment ourselves by our love of evil (John 3:13-21; 2 Pet. 3:9). Your plan of redemption that we spurn is revealed throughout the Bible and history.  See Gen. 3:15; Eph. 1:3-12; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 21:3-5.
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 It's said we think ten thousand or more thoughts a day. I admit Lord, most of my thoughts are about me and what I want. I seldom think about You and Your will, or how I can help my neighbor. I'm self-centered and selfish. Lord. I resent other people abusing me even though I may be insensitive, indifferent, and abusive of them. And yes, all the things called sins in many lists of the Bible I've desired, if not actually committed--lusts, hate, jealousy, murder and others, maybe a thousand times. 
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But victory focuses on You Lord, Your grace and glory. Our sins, Satan, and the world system of evil can discourage, defeat and drag us down to despair. But we don't have to dwell on, or give in to them. You give true believers in Christ the power and authority to be over comers. Victory comes by continual focus on Your goodness, love, forgiveness, truth, and power in us. We can do Your will through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Our Lord's resurrection power is given us. Sin does not control us as we continually give ourselves to You Lord (Rom. 6:14-16). Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in work of  the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). Praise You Lord for Your goodness, power, love, and the victory You give us!
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We obey Your commandment Lord to spread Your gospel of grace worldwide in love to others. I'm Bob Jones, a love slave of Jesus Christ. Who will stand with me? -------------------------------------
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Pray and contact Tyndale Publishers to again publish Charles Colson's terrific book, Tough Questions about God, Faith, and Life. It's a clear user friendly and greatly needed book for a discussion group in Bible believing churches. It needs a new cover inviting peoples old and young to read it. It could also be translated into other languages.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Love Your Wife Her Way

Love Your Wife Her Way

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We know women are more emotional and sensitive than men. Husbands may think and feel they love their wives and meet their needs. But they often don’t understand women have different needs and viewpoints than themselves. One man was enthusiastic about a pool table he bought his wife for Christmas. He saw it as a way they could get exercise and be intimate together. Not surprising, his wife didn’t share his enthusiasm or view his gift his way. Counselors know that in troubled marriages insensitive husbands are more likely to be the problem
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The Bible tells husbands to honor their wives but doesn’t describe all the ways to do it (1 Peter 3:7). Outstanding marriage counselor of several decades, Dr. Gary Smalley, has helped unite broken marriages. All his books give super good advice I highly recommend. His book The Joy of Committed Love lists 100 ways for husbands to show wives love, understanding and honor their way. I’ve chosen 25 of them written in a different order and slightly modified form. Husbands choose two or three to practice each month and see your marriage blossom.
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1.  Regard your wife as more important than you are and see her blossom.
2.  Ask her opinion frequently and show appreciation. Wives’ intuition has prevented              husbands from making serious and costly mistakes.
3.  Give loving hugs when she’s down emotionally without lectures or put-downs.
4.  Take an interest in what she feels important in life—she has a right to her interests and       needs to share them with you.
5.  Look for things about her you can genuinely compliment.
6.  Allow her to buy things she considers necessary.
7.  Be forgiving when she offends you. We’re none perfect but Jesus.
8.  Admit your mistakes. Be honest, humble, and sensitive and she will respect you more.
9.  Lead your family in prayer, worship, Bible study and spiritual things.
10.  Do something special for her on her birthday and your wedding anniversary.
11.  Do things together the whole family enjoys—fun times with family is crucial.
12.  Hold hands when sitting or walking together--it makes her feel secure.
13.  Write her a note or letter of appreciation occasionally.
14.  Discipline your children in love not anger—they are part of you.
15.  Never, mention her faults to others—instead brag about her virtues.
16.  Husbands can change annoying habits within 30-60 days of determined effort.
17.  Surprise her occasionally with a card, flowers, candy or some gift you know she enjoys.
18.  Help her with the house cleaning especially if she works out. It’s just being fair.
19.  Learn to enjoy things she enjoys.
20.  Be hospitable and gracious to her relations and friends.
21.  Pray for her well-being and that you will understand and do all you can to promote it.
22.  Help her finish her goals—hobbies or education.
23.  Gently assure her of your love before correcting a serious fault.
24.  Talk is important to women. Listen carefully to understand her meaning not just words.
25.  Often, tell her you love her. Women value that much more than men do.
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Lord, thank You for this precious lady You gave me for my wife. Lord, help me to be a sensative understanding husband who listens to my wife with full attention and to put her needs before my own. I know that as I give her the love and attention she needs that I won't have to worry about losing her. Amen.

Questions in Choosing a Mate

                               Questions in Choosing a Mate

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John and Judy fell in love. They thought about each other throughout the day; fantasized about good times together, felt excited and intimate in each other’s presence. They were a nice looking young couple, energetic, and fun loving. Everybody said, “They’re made for each other.” They flirt, and tease and laugh together. Yes, its love and love is all that matters. They could get married and live happily ever after. It’s a beautiful dream come true, or is it?
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This idea of falling in love is popular, but is it what makes for a fulfilling and lasting marriage? Many who felt so become disillusioned and wind up later in divorce courts. In Bible times and in some Eastern cultures today, parents or a matchmaker arrange their children’s marriage; they have little say about it. In Western cultures, people have the right to choose whom to marry and they live in a much more complex world. With an alarmingly high divorce rate, marital choices today don’t seem very wise. For this reason, many persons are choosing to live together without marriage to see if it works. 
Let’s ask some serious questions and honestly face the facts regarding this issue crucial to us all.

What Does the Bible say about Perspective Marriage Partners?

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The Bible doesn’t give a list of rules about a perspective marriage partner, just one. Christians are to marry within the faith (2 Cor. 6:14-16). But, that one rule includes all that the Bible teaches about how we are to live the faith to please God, be our best selves, and be the best marriage partner. Biblical Christian standards are mountains above what sinful human nature desires. People say, “I love ice cream, or I love my dog, or I love my spouse”. Love, in their thinking, is all about I, I, I, big ME, all about what gives me pleasure. Christian godly love is about self-giving or SELFLESS SERVICE TO OTHERS. God so loved the world that he gave. The New Century Version better conveys the idea of godly self-giving love.
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“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
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The popular belief about love can easily grow cold when the reality of human nature sets in. We all have our faults, limitations and make mistakes. Married couples get divorced with a 20% disapproval rating of their spouse only to find their new partner is 20% at fault as well. The grass looks smooth and green from a distance—seen up close it has weeds and bare spots. Love that is the real thing may not be a sudden “falling in love” but “a growing to love” over time. When we sacrifice ourselves and put others first, they usually tend to respond in kind. Even when we don’t feel loving, doing loving things leads to love.  
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The Bible says that if our spouse dies or is an unbeliever, it’s all right if divorced to marry again. Although God hates divorce and a hard heart, divine love both permits and forgives divorce (Mal. 2:16; Matt. 19:6-9; 1 Cor. 7:15). Christians can and do commit worse sins. I’m divorced and my second wife, also divorced, is a loving godly lady, friend, and one in a million. Thank God.
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There’s no rule that everyone has to marry. Some have the gift of singleness and are free to devote more time to God’s service. But if it’s difficult to be self-controlled, it’s better to marry than be overwhelmed with sexual tension and temptation (1 Cor. 7:7-9). Society blows sex way out of proportion since coitus usually constitutes less than 2% of a young couple’s relationship.

 .                 Where Can I Meet Perspective Marriage Partners?

As in everything, the Christian should seek God’s will regarding a mate. And God promises to guide us when we earnestly trust him and seek to do his will (Ps. 37:4, 23; Prov. 3:5-6; Rom. 12:1-2). So-called fun parties and activities that destroy our minds, bodies, character and get us in trouble such as tobacco, alcohol, drug, and sex parties are taboo for those who want to please the Lord. Never mind being called prudes, unsociable, or extremists, godly living won’t be regretted in later life and at the judgment. Parties among friends we can trust and activities such as bowling, swimming, boating, athletic games, concerts, school seminars, shopping centers, grocery stores, and bookstores can be places to meet others. And the local church where God’s people meet to worship is the most likely place to find persons with Christian faith. Dating services that require listing character traits and interests might work well but are no guarantees.

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To me the idea that there’s only one Mr. /Miss Right for me to marry seems na├»ve and creates unnecessary tension and fear. A lady told me she had three husbands who all died. But they all were good husbands and all were different. Don’t different persons bring out different qualities in us? Don’t we all change somewhat throughout life? Don’t we all have different friends that we like?

.                What Potential Problems Require My Serious Attention

I’m not saying that it can’t or won’t work out well. But some persons are risky, raise red flags, and a relationship with them may not be wise. I advise open careful consideration and honest discussions with them and with others who know their background. A prison record, bad temper,  big debt, a homosexual past, child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse, multiple marriages, and so on are red flags. Such persons may require long-term psychological counseling and a recent proven track record or lifestyle.
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Wisdom heeds statistical data from decades of research. Persons from similar social classes, economic and social levels, occupations, age groups, race, religious backgrounds, and areas of residence have marriages that are more apt to be happy and lasting,

                                   What Characteristics Suggest a Good Partner

It’s said, opposites attract meaning one partner compensates for weaknesses in the other. This may be true initially but can later frustrate and smother the weaker spouse. For example, a big talker may drown a shy one and make them feel more insecure. Instead, the stronger should “cool it”, support, encourage, and praise the weaker for their efforts. 
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The Bible is clear that God instituted marriage for a man and woman (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:6). They are to be “one flesh.” That of course is compatibility, being designed for each other physically and emotionally. While the Bible patriarchs and kings had many wives that was not God’s ideal and it resulted in serious problems. Although laws of that time didn’t prohibit it, the New Testament makes it clear God’s servants are to set an example in having one wife (1 Tim. 3:2, 12). It is to be a covenant relationship like Christ with his church.   
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Compatibility is just good common sense. Our spouse can teach us new and exciting things and we can adjust to differences within limits. But radical divergences can be irritating and make for a bad relationship. Consider some examples: hot natured verses cold natured, outdoorsman v. homebody, free spender v. tight wad, activist v. couch potato, super clean v. disorderly, cultured dresser v. slob, intellectual v. ignorant.  

What Do My Prospective Partner and I Expect of Marriage? 

Commitment to a lasting marriage is imperative. The word divorce should never come up. To enter a marital relationship with the attitude that if it doesn’t work I’ll get a divorce is likely to end in divorce and disillusionment. The words, ‘Do you take this person in sickness and health, for better or worse, in richer or poorer, till death due you part?’ should be taken most seriously. Not just couples, but children and families suffer in divorce. We want and need the security of a trustworthy responsible spouse who will stand by us in hard times that are certain to occur. 
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Persons contemplating marriage naturally expect companionship, mutual support, and sexual expression. But a host of other issues calls for open honest discussion. How about children, how many and when? Can I pursue further education or a certain career? How do you like my family members? Can you accept my physical ailments? Would you be willing for my older widow/er parent to live with us? Is there a special place we want to live? Be honest: Is there something about me you have doubts about or disapprove? It’s better to resolve these issues now if possible than hope they won’t come up later.
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Maybe we can sum perspective Christian mate hunting up in three statements: Christ first in all things, compatibility is vital, and commitments are imperative. Happy hunting.
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God's Instructions to Christian Husbands

            God’s Instructions to Christian Husbands

It’s often said, as goes the family, so goes the nation. The husband and father is the most influential person in most families. That’s the way God planned it. Godly families reflect our relationship between Christ and his church. There will be no marriage in heaven; we will be just one big--yes truly happy--family (Matt. 22:30).
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Perspective brides, what kind of man do you want for a husband? Married ladies, how can you encourage your husband to be the Christian man of God you admire and love? God helping me, I hope to shed some light on this crucial subject. The things I’m going to say will put us—including myself--to shame. Nobody can meet God’s standards. But we have to know what they are before we can even try to meet them.
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You won’t hear this at work, on TV, or among friends because God’s standards are far above the world’s standards. It’s God plan for what He wants a real Godly man to be. At best, all husbands fall short. Husbands aren’t supposed to just sit on their thrown and bark orders to their wife and kids. They are to reflect a Christ like spirit that honors King Jesus. Now what are God’s instructions in how Christian husbands are to treat their wife? Let’s see what God’s word instructs us.
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Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:25-30.
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Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7.
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In these two Bible passages, I want to point out five ways God instructs Christian husbands to treat their wife.
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God’s first instruct to husbands is love your wife.
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Husband, you may think you do love your wife. But what’s thought to be love today is not true biblical love. Love is used to mean anything today. I love sports. I love to fish. I love ice cream. You mean what those things do for you. They satisfy your desires and give you pleasure. But the love Paul is talking about here is sacrifice—Christ our example showed love by giving Himself for the church. That’s what God wants His true men to do for their wives.
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In a sense, we husbands are to be a savior to our wife, to give ourselves up for her even to the point of death. To please our Lord we must give up selfishness to become selfless considering her needs above our own. Some might say that’s being a wimp. No that’s the test of manhood from God’s perspective. In our sinful nature, we want to have everybody serve us and bow before us as king of the realm. We think she’s to meet my needs with never a thought about her needs. And if she doesn’t get everything just right, we pounce on her like a whipped dog. That’s not loving as Christ loved. Instead of being Mr. Fix, try understanding, encouraging and working with her, we want to run away from her problems—we tend to forget she’s human too.
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The truly loving husband says, “If our marriage ends, you will have to leave me, I’m not going anywhere. I’m glued to you no matter what comes—good, bad, or ugly—because we’re God’s people determined to honor our Lord, our marriage vows, and each other.
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Like King Jesus, husbands are to sanctify their wives, to set them apart as special having no spot or wrinkle. Now when a man marries a woman, he marries her history and her family together with the good parts and the bad parts. Things were ideal during dating. He didn’t see her without makeup, or know she could get upset and fuss, or had certain faults he never imagined. Maybe she had an abusive father, or dominating mother. Over time, little resentments build up and clog a marriage. Spots are outside pressures; wrinkles have to do with aging and our losing that agility of being able to adapt. This means husbands have to work to cleanse their wife, not through harsh criticism or abuse but through understanding, encouraging, giving his strength to protect and provide for her weakness. It takes real manly leadership to be like the Lord Jesus at such times.
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Next, God tells husbands to live with your wife.
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You say, of course I already do. We stay in the same house.” Peter said live in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). Too many husbands think my work is outside the house and hers is inside the home. But many wives today work outside the home as well as inside. Fairness in such cases requires husbands do housework as well. Tired wives are relieved when husbands help by washing the dishes, cleaning, cooking, taking out the trash, doing the laundry. Yes, a paycheck, house and car are necessary, but so is time spent together working, sharing and discussing things of mutual concern.
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Third, God exhorts husbands to know their wife.
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Two things are necessary here: To know your Bible to understand God’s instructions and to know your wife to be able to help her. Both the Bible (2 Peter 3:16) and women are hard to understand and require continued study. A woman’s complexity is confusing to men. You think she wants this when she really wants that. Women carry a full pocketbook, men a little billfold. On a brief trip from home, men grab up a few essentials, women want several suitcases. And women have their monthly cycle that requires special patience and understanding.
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Women need to talk. To know your wife you need to give her eyeball-to-eyeball attention. Women talk is not always interesting to men. And women are usually indirect making it hard to know exactly what they’re trying to say. When that’s the case, ask her to explain further and show genuine interest. Women are more open with their fears, cares, hopes, disappointments and joys. Paying close attention makes them feel loved and to respond with love.
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Fourth, God wants husbands to honor their wife.
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Honor means to assign her a place of honor, treat her as a queen, not just another woman. Make her feel special, roll out the red carpet. Open doors for her. Write her notes of appreciation telling her all the special qualities she has. Call her during the day saying you’re looking forward to being with her this evening. Call her sweet names—honey, precious, darling, sweaty pie. Give her gifts not just on birthdays and anniversaries but anytime for no particular except that you love her. When chivalry dies, your marriage will start to die—romance is gone.
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Remember when you first starting dating, you couldn’t do enough for her. You couldn’t keep your eyes off her. You lighted up when she came into the room. What happened? Start dating again. Do special things for your queen you know she enjoys. Say honey, I’ve planned a special time out this evening to a place I know you’ll really enjoy. Show respect for her ideas and opinions. And if you have to correct some fault, first praise her good traits and skills and then speak calmly and reassuringly so she knows you still value her highly. When you disagree, still listen to her ideas and opinions and let her know you will be responsible if something goes wrong. Of course, all this is not easy. But it’s the way to show her how significant she is in your life, how special she is to you.   
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The fifth instruction is that God expects us husbands to pray with our wife. 
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God’s apostle Peter’s final word is to pray together as heirs of the grace of life that your prayers be unhindered. If the two of you don’t have a heavenly foundation, you’ll wind up with a hellish relationship. Together husband and wife become one flesh as God intended and are heirs of God’s grace or favor. God is the biggest force there is to guide, provide and protect your home. Bible study and prayer makes marriage more than just two bodies together. It then becomes a spiritual union with our Maker, Savior and Judge. Only then can we fulfill the purpose for which we were made. Husband, you are the spiritual thermostat in your marriage—you control the temperature whether hot or cold. Your wife is the thermometer—she tells you how it reads. It’s a serious but fulfilling responsibility to be a man of God rightly governing his home. May we find it true in our lives.
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Christian husbands, God's Word has told us what our Lord requires of us. If we want God blessed homes, we better listen carefully and do what our Lord says. God know how things work out a lot better than we do. Won't you commit to trust God's way and try to follow His will today? 
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For much sound Bible exposition, I’m indebted to Dr. Tony Evans book: What A Way To Live. Dr. Evans has a clear arresting style, profound insights, and practical applications. I also recommend his other books such as Our God Is Awesome and What Matters Most.
 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Is The Most Common Emotional Problem?

What Is The Most Common Emotional Problem?


Professor S. is popular, competent, teacher of the year, and an accomplished scholar and researcher at her university. But hidden behind her vivacious personality and intelligent competent manner are intense feelings of loneliness. She read in a magazine, that one person in six doesn’t have a single friend to discuss personal problems with and that four in ten persons feel shy and isolated. Every day she’s surrounded by people she doesn’t know personally who never mention her first name. Her family lives miles away and she returns to her apartment by herself to read and talk to her cat.
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She feels like a worthless failure. “Why don’t I have friends?” she asks. “I’m an attractive person, have a Ph. D., a bright mind and social skills.” But she has no one to relax with and be herself, and it makes her feel depressed.    
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Loneliness affects persons of every class, race, sex and age. It’s the painful awareness we lack close meaningful contact with others. We may feel empty, isolated, left out, unwanted, misunderstood, sad, frustrated and discouraged. It’s difficult to reach out, join in, and establish personal and lasting relationships.
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Without doubt, persons in the Bible at times felt this way. God knew it was not good for man to be alone and made a helpmate for him. A study of Bible characters such as Moses, Job, Nehemiah, Elijah, Jeremiah and David will show they felt others were not at times following their leadership and felt rejected and alone. Paul felt abandoned when several of his co-workers forsook him while in jail (2 Tim. 4:9-12). The apostle John too may have felt lonely being the last surviving apostle and exiled to the Isle of Patmos. But even in loneliness, Christians know Jesus is with us always. And, he sent the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us (Matt. 28:20; John 16:7).
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I wish to discuss loneliness under three headings its causes, consequences and coping with it.
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The Causes of Loneliness

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Social influences can cause loneliness. As institutions grow bigger, people become smaller in importance. The emphasis is productivity and efficiency making people feel they’re not a valued person but just another nameless number. Specialists feel they don’t have anything in common with persons outside their field. The more that people move close together the more crime increases and the more fearful people become of human contact. Family members may find employment miles away from home and rarely have personal contact. Television viewers sit together for hours without saying a word and violent programs increase their fears.
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Unmet development needs results in loneliness. Persons can grow up feeling lonely because they never formed close bonds with their parents. Increasing child abuse and divorce rate reflects this.
We communicate loving acceptance to others by touching, attentive listening, sharing good times, being with them in crises, helping, giving affirmation, compliments, praise and affectionate hugs and kisses. Persons not experiencing these grow up feeling unloved and not knowing how to give love or even trust expressions of love given them. Without such expressions of love, persons feel shy, withdraw, unworthy and failures.
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Lack of social skills and age can cause loneliness. Persons insensitive to others needs may be manipulative, profane, loud or overly aggressive. Some demand their rights pushing others away. People today largely judge a person’s worth by their position, wealth, achievements or physical appearance. That things are more valued than persons is clearly shown in ageing. Older persons weaken with age often are unwanted, unneeded, unappreciated. Parents may feel their children no longer want them. Spouses feel their mates reject them. Pastors feel their congregations no longer appreciate them. Employees feel shunned by employers and coworkers. Eighty percent of persons in retirement homes are never visited.
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Self-defeating attitudes display a major cause of loneliness--we can be our own worst enemy. We push people away physically and emotionally by being selfish, arrogant, self-sufficient, critical, intolerant, demanding, self-righteous, complaining, resentful and angry. And our fears too can cripple us—fear of intimacy, fear of being known, fear of rejection, fear of being hurt.
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The Consequences of Loneliness
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Being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely. Older people, singles and others can be content as loners. But many are not and sometimes resort to destructive attitudes and behavior. Often the lonely person has low self-esteem. They withdraw, thinking poor-little-old-me, and nobody cares or understands. Life seems so unfair so what’s the use in trying. Some seek attention in off-color hairstyles, mannerisms, or sexually suggestive attire. Others become workaholics, or frequently travel, or buy things to escape the pain and emptiness. Still others resort to gambling, pornography, violence, alcohol or drugs. If deep depression results, they may try suicide. Secular and socialist teaching, that we are just perishing animals without ultimate purpose, leads to irresponsible behavior and suicide.
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Coping with Loneliness

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Some persons have loneliness forced upon them by divorce, widowhood, abandonment, incapacitating diseases, sickness and imprisonment. This gives real opportunity for the church; God’s redeemed people, to visit and share the gospel and minister to human needs. A visit, card, phone call can be treasured by lonely people. Just keeping in touch can be a vital ministry and may even save a life. We humans naturally have our comfort zones with people we know and feel secure with, but we can be God’s ministers by going out of our way to make church visitors feel welcome. We can show them around, sit with them, introduce them to church facilities and take them out to eat. Such kindness could make the difference in winning someone to the kingdom of God.
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Admitting the problem is taking the first step to recovery. We’re all lonely at times but it usually passes. Loneliness doesn’t mean we’re social misfits, outcasts, or unable to relate to people. It does mean we must determine to work to overcome the problem. The next step is to try to identify the problem. Its discovery can eliminate the cause instead of just the symptoms. Going for counseling and honestly answering probing question can get to the causes and change negative attitudes and behavior. Even the comments of our critics can help us realize the needed change.
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Other constructive activities to escape loneliness are to take up a hobby, study course, join an exercise program, go fishing, boating, play tennis, get into a bowling league. Such things relieve stress, get us away from self-brooding, give opportunity to meet people and have fun.   
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The Bible’s teaching is that we’re not perishing animals without ultimate purpose. In God’s sight, we have worth, dignity, and freedom as created in his image. God knows and cares about each of us, and has provided us many good things. Instead of dwelling on negative things as how unfair life seems, we do well to count our blessing, list our abilities, achievements, and happy experiences. We all have them.  We can learn social skills and put loneliness behind.
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Escaping loneliness requires that we take social risks. I’ve been shy and found this brought me confidence. Make it a point to go to social get-to-gathers, talk to people, and ask open-ended questions. I mean questions that require discussion and not just yes or no answers. What does your work involve? Have you had experiences in the armed services? What good clean movies have you seen lately? What exciting places have you visited? Tell me about how you met your spouse. Pay special attention and share some similar experiences with your new friends.
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Jesus said it’s no benefit to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. Gaining a fortune from the death of a wealthy relative or winning the lottery is nothing to compare to trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord. It’s not God’s will that we perish but that we have abundant life (Luck 19:10; John 3:16; 10:10).
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The best thing Christians can do for a fellow human being is to tell them about the Savior of us sinners. Eternal life must be accepted as God’s gift. We’re unacceptable as imperfect persons in God’s eyes and no sin will be allowed in to corrupt God’s perfect Heaven. So, only God’s way of cleaning opens Heaven’s door. And that door opens when we trust the Savior dying for us as a humble sinner. It’s called God’s grace and is only available in the biblical Christ. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” God may be calling you to say: Lord, I'm a sinner but I trust You as my Savior and life Guide right now, and to help me work out my lonliness. Thank You Lord. Now the challenge is to seek out and show concern for lonely people.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Help for Persons with Low Self-esteem


 Help for Persons with Low Self-esteem

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Sarah’s name means princess, but she feels anything but a princess. Though an intelligent, nice looking woman, in growing up her alcoholic parents often ridiculed the things she said and did. Her parents didn’t cuddle, hug, affectionately touch, and praise her, but often scolded and criticized her. Consequently, she grew up feeling shy, withdrawn, uncomfortable in crowds, rejected compliments given her, had few friends and felt of little worth. Lacking self-confidence, she was often depressed and anxious thinking I’m just a born loser and will never amount to anything.
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The psychiatrist, Alfred Adler, coined the term “inferiority complex”. Most everyone feels inadequate or inferior at times. But to live with this attitude of worthlessness is not a burden our good and loving Creator meant for us to bear and we can overcome such feelings to become a healthy, happy, productive person in society.
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In this article, I will look at causes of low self-esteem and suggest ways to overcome this crippling lifestyle to become our best self.
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Some Causes of Low Self-esteem
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Faulty Theology. Yes, we humans are sinful. But that doesn’t mean that we’re worthless and God doesn’t love us. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “God so loved the world” meaning sinful humanity. Self-worship, self-conceit, self-denigration, and selfishness is wrong. But self-love and self-respect is not (Matt. 22:39). Humility is not the same as humiliation or being put down.
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 Being unworthy is not the same as being worthless. While we’re a depraved fallen humanity, we’re still beings of dignity in God’s image a little lower than angels. While every aspect of our nature is affected by sin, we retain a rational, immortal, moral nature like our Creator.
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Now, Christians regard your sin nature crucified with Christ, and live by faith through Christ who lives within to motivate and empower you through love to overcome sin. Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:5-7.
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The Bible teaches equality between all persons, races and genders being of one blood. No one is to regard herself or himself either superior or inferior to anyone else. We’re to regard ourselves unique creations to fulfill God’s great plan for us. Human anatomy shows men and women compatible and equal in dignity but with different roles. It’s unjust to put women down because Eve yielded to temptation. Adam wasn’t deceived, could have stopped her, and the sin nature is passed on through him.   
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Sin and Guilt. Our conscience testifies to God’s moral standard. Though guilty of sin, we can come to God for forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. We don’t save face by denying, ignoring or suppressing our sins. It only hardens our hearts, deepens our guilt, misery and further condemnation.
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Parent-Child Relationships. Psychiatrists and counselors know inferior feelings usually come from parental upbringing. Parents cause their children to feel unloved and unaccepted by excessive criticism, punishment, neglect, scolding, shaming, and setting perfectionist standards. Or, they don’t provide a loving environment of praise, appreciation, understanding and warm expressions of love such as cuddling, hugging and affectionate touching. Their children may repeat and pass on their poor example. We should encourage such children to regard handicaps, limitations, and a poor background as challenges to overcome and show faith in their ability.
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Unrealistic Expectations. Some persons set themselves up for failure. They feel that to succeed, be loved and be worthy, thy must meet other people’s standards. So, if I fail to meet these goals, I will feel pressured, shamed, frightened, or punished. Or, I must be in control, be first, be the smartest, be superior. Great aggressiveness sometimes is rewarded, but its failure can cause disappointment and emotional breakdown. A short thin guy is not likely to become a basketball or football star.  
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Community Influences. Persons often judge a person’s worth by their intelligence, attractiveness, education, money, power and achievements. Parents, school, friends, news media, government, businesses may value us by such criteria. Or, we may feel valued only for our possessions--a nice house, car, boat, or the latest technological gadget. Our true worth and success is not in what others think, or in what we possess, but in how we think and feel about ourselves. The most we can do is try to be wise and responsible with the gifts God has given us—that’s our worth.
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Some Ways to Achieve Worthiness
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Behave Responsibly. People helpers help themselves in helping others. Doing good for others brings its own reward. It’s more blessed to give than receive now and eternally (Acts 20:35). Don’t be critical of others mistakes, weaknesses, faults, deformities. Show respect, concern and appreciation of peoples’ virtues. It helps you both feel more worthy. Even when mistakes need correction, we can do it in a positive supportive encouraging way.  
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Deeper Your Understanding. It helps to explore the roots of our thinking. What experiences made me think, feel and act this way? Maybe I’m blaming myself when I’m not at fault or it was something that just naturally would have occurred with anyone. Talking problems over with an accepting counselor or trusted friend may gain insight, relieve guilt, and give a more positive attitude. Openly discussing past failures and injuries to an accepting counselor can unpack pent up fears, doubts, misunderstandings and relieve self-condemning attitudes.  
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Understand the Biblical Teaching about Man. Secular humanist doctrines are that we are just evolving animals destine for extinction. They can discourage, depress and lead us to suicide. They destroy absolute truth and morality and lead to chaos and dictatorship. They deny human worth, rights, the basis for moral living and can result in a blood bath of millions.
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Christian counselling is to encourage people with the Bible teaching that we have great worth being created in God’s image a little lower than the angels. Explain that God loves us, has a plan for our lives, wants relationship with us, and offers eternity in Heaven with him. Our great God and King has the last word (Psalm 2; Isa. 46:10; Dan. 4:35; Rom. 8:28; Rev. 22:12).
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Seek A Realistic Self-Evaluation. Serious long-term anxiety may require several exploratory sessions with trained counselors. Try listing what you feel are your virtues and strengths as well as your vices and weaknesses. Ask in each case what past experiences or other people’s opinions warrant inclusion on the list? Be deeply open and honest about both. Assess how to overcome harmful vices and improve virtues. Write out long-range goals and priorities.
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Learn New Skills. Sometimes counselors can help by suggesting counseles take education courses, read books, get in an exercise program, join a community project, take up a hobby, go to a Bible study and meditate on God’s Word. Such things inject new life and excitement into one’s experiences. Always seek to be courteous, friendly, respectful to others and they generally will return the same.
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Avoid Destructive Tendencies. We all have them and once we understand what ours are we can work on improvement. Serve people and don’t try to manipulate them. Dwell on the positive and not the negative that’s discouraging and depressing. Be grateful instead of angry and resentful when shown a fault. Realize discovery is the first step to improvement. Understand fear is natural and it doesn’t have to paralyze our actions. Prayerfully trust God for improved outlook and behavior.
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Deal Honestly With Sin. We all sin and our natural tendency is try to save face. We try to hide it, deny it, explain it away, blame our poor circumstances, or say God or the devil made me do it. All wrongdoing is ultimately rebellion against God. And only the blood of Jesus can take it away and make us clean new persons. Guilt feelings may be due to real guilt. Then we need to trust in the Savior of sinners who bore our sin and took our punishment on the cross. It’s your choice.
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