Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Leadership, Prayer

Another Election Day Approaching

As many of us approach election day here in the USA, I thought I would pass along to you some really healthy and sound advice. But first, let me share some of the best advice from God’s word found in I Timothy 2:1-3 from The Passion version.

 1-3 The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

Some very sound advice:

  • I can deeply love people with whom I strongly disagree. I refuse to demonize any politician who is made in the image of God.
  • I have enemies and Jesus gave me power over them on the cross, but my battle is NOT against flesh and blood.
  • When you call someone by an evil name…you have decided that you know their heart. But, the Apostle Paul said, “Who are you to judge the servant of another?”
  • Associating with, or serving political people, should not be confused with embracing their ideologies. All political offices deserve to be honored according to Romans 13.
  • I am commanded and called to pray for my leaders. If I don’t pray for them, then I don’t have a right to critique their success or failure.
  • My first allegiance is not to a political party but to the kingdom of God.
  • I cannot separate my spiritual views from my political views because the government of this world is being affected and infected by the invisible realm.
  • Great government doesn’t take away the right of people to sin. It does however, protect people from sinning against others and teaching people to do so.
  • It’s not the responsibility of government to Christianize the world. That’s the church’s job.  Jesus rules the nations with a rod of iron, but He leads the church with a shepherd’s staff. (Bullet points written by author Kris Valloton.)

Lastly, let us keep in mind the innocent in this election, for our vote matters to them. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “This is God’s message: Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don’t take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering!” (22:3, The Message)

Let’s prayerfully walk out this election like our first allegiance is to the kingdom of God and not to a political party.

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Challenge, Healing, In the news, Issues of the Day, Training

Learning Psychoanalytic Therapy

Going through the books on my book shelf in my office I came across an old college book with writing assignments still stuffed neatly inside. I tossed the book, but kept the assignments to peruse them–interesting reading from the 1980’s.

There were all the different counseling approaches studied with practice assignments placing you with a counselee while using that particular psychoanalytic method. Professors threw at us as students tons of stuff to wade through like early childhood, teenage years, early adulthood, sexual impulses, unconscious factors, transference, disassociation, etc. It was like baking a cake with differing recipes and then trying to find the one you really liked and wanted to serve to others. 

Professors underlined words, placed checkmarks and wrote “OK” or “Good” at the end of the assignment. I was a dedicated Christian and my approach wasn’t always welcomed, even though professors pushed equality, diversity of thought and openness, nonjudgmental attitudes and acceptance. But as a believer, I rarely felt the same from them. I was not free to express my Biblical perspective.

I wasn’t offended, but seeing and feeling so much inequality, all the while equality is being taught seemed disingenuous at the least, feeling attacked at most. In one paper I wrote, “My values would be those closely related to the Christian ethic. Being a Christian will influence me in that it is impossible for me to hide those values or exclude them from a helping relationship. I know I will expose those values without imposing those values on my clients.” The doctor of psychology professor did not agree with me. 

But that was years ago. My degree was completed, followed by 25 plus years of counseling. It was an era of my life that I enjoyed and embraced. Psychology simply means the study of the mind, but who is the One that can truly understand the mind? Who has the answers to each and every issue in life and who brings healing like no other counselor? There is this One who predates psychology by a few years.

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

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Challenge, In the news, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles, Women

What’s Faith Have to Do With Sex and Marriage Stability?

Young men and women with an active faith in God and His word, the Bible, are long-term men and women who take saying “I do” seriously. They share similar moral beliefs and deeply held values. They possess a higher commitment to sexual fidelity. And those who regularly attend church have about a 40% less likely chance of divorcing. (See this Harvard study.)

Marrying when young often means less relationship baggage primarily because there are less exes. Maturity in a relationship is not measured in chronological age. Maturity is measured in one’s ability to think of their spouse or future spouse first and not themselves. 

Cohabitation is precarious, uncertain and shaky because it undermines the quality of your marriage commitment. While marrying Corrine, you may find yourself thinking about your years with Heather and then comparing your new wife’s sexual responses to Bekah’s. It will increase the instability of your marriage foundation. Cohabitation is pretending to be married with a widely open back door. There is no need for commitment in sickness and in health; there are no vows spoken to one another and to God. There are no community of believers helping you to remain committed to each other without the bond of a legalized marriage.

And then this

In a Wall Street Journal article dated Saturday, February 5, 2022 Lyman Stone and Brad Wilcox wrote, “[In surveying] 50,000 women in the U.S. governments National Survey of Family Growth, we found that there is a group of women for whom marriage before 30 is not risky: women who married directly, without ever cohabitating prior to marriage. In fact, women who married between 22 and 30, without first living together, had some of the lowest rates of divorce in the National Survey of Family Growth.” Now that says something which majorly contradicts the former conventional wisdom of trying it to see if you like it.

One of the reasons couples are marrying later today is hope against hope that they will not encounter divorce. They are vying for a lower risk rate. But along the way as they give themselves freely to various sexual partners and/or cohabitate they are actually decreasing their chances of marriage without experiencing divorce. Research is now growing and concluding that to cohabitate prior to marriage and to experience multiple sexual partners, couples are less likely to be happily married. The pretest thought simply does not work. 

It has been God’s word of truth

The word of God has revealed this truth for centuries. Social science is now only catching up to the truth written in the Bible about relationships and marriage. God’s word is more current when it comes to marriage and pre-marriage than tomorrow’s scientific study found within academia. 

For example, did you know that sexual pleasure between husband and wife was God’s idea? Solomon wrote these inspired words, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer–may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.” (Proverbs 5:18, 19) 

Paul the Apostle wrote:

But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (I Corinthians 7:2-5)

God is not embarrassed by sexual intimacy, He is not a prude or naïve when it comes to His wonderful gift, but He did place very strict, very safe and very loving boundaries around it. Paul also clearly warned us when he wrote, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (I Corinthians 6:12)

Sexual pleasure is God’s intent for marriage and procreation is not the only purpose of sex, but sexual fulfillment within marriage is a process, a learned experience. 

Concluding with married sex is better sex

Married couples have better sex for numerous reasons. They are committed to one another. They desire to please one another and give versus taking to meet a need. Intimacy is not filled with lust, but rather love. The married partners are monogamous. Sex within marriage is the safest sex. It is sex without worry, without thought of being caught, without fear of disobeying God’s command and sex within marriage is the best sex because you know the desires of your life mate. 

For all of these reasons and more we can conclude that God was right all along. His written word and His commands were all for our good and our pleasure. Boundaries are an important part of life and so it is also true of sexual boundaries. May you find this truth for yourself and then experience the pure joy of obedience and God’s gift to you.

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History, In the news, Parents

A Tragic End to Flight 255

It was a tragic end to flight 255 taking off from Detroit to its destination, Phoenix, Arizona. The 154 passengers and crew members died as the plane attempted to become airborne. The pilots failed to follow their checklist in an effort to save time. Since they missed some steps, there was no way for them to know their electrical power to the takeoff system did not exist. Further, they failed to notice that the slats and flaps were not extended adequately. 

The plane struck a light pole, severing a good portion of its wing. The fuel stored in that wing caught fire. Then the other wing was ripped apart hitting a building. Finally, the plane slammed into an overpass of Interstate 94, exploding into a fireball and ending more lives on the ground. 

As the Detroit medical examiner was inspecting the scene of charred bodies, he heard a child’s voice. It was four-year-old Cecelia Cichan. Her mother had wrapped her arms and body around her child in a last-ditch effort to shield her from the crash that was about to occur. 

This final and heroic, albeit desperate, act of love saved a little girl from certain death by impact and by fire. 

Years later Cecelia is now a mother herself. She thanks God every day for life and for a mom who would wrap her arms of love around her in an effort to protect her. 

There is a Savior who wraps His arms around you, who took the pain of the cross, who went through the very flames of hell because He loves you. 

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Challenge, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

Who Gets to Speak the Final Word?

I was sitting in a fourth grade elementary school class when our teacher was called out to the hallway. When she returned she was crying, telling us between sobs that the President of the United States had been assassinated. After she defined the word “assassinated,” we readied ourselves to return home as she announced an early dismissal. 

Devastating news, for sure, that went around the world quickly. But there was another celebrity that died that very same day–the British author C.S. Lewis, an intellectual defender of the Christian faith. 

C. S. Lewis was an author of many books that are now classics like: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Lewis spent most of his earlier years as an atheist. But he began to realize that God was “closing in on him.” He discovered the joy he was missing in life would be found in the faith he had resisted. 

Lewis was a rather shy professor of literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities and he passed from this earth in the shadow of another, His death hardly registered on the news blips of the day. 

Another personal hero of mine died in the shadow of a famous celebrity. Mother Teresa passed from this world the day before Princess Diana’s extravagant funeral. It’s no secret that Princess Diana, who was a friend of Mother Teresa, would steal the limelight from a woman who had given her life to the poor and the needy. It is said that Mother Teresa could carry all of her life possessions in a five-gallon bucket. 

These death eclipses seem unfair, but don’t they speak to how the godly live their lives? It’s not our life that we are lifting up but rather, Christ’s. Even Paul the apostle said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 

While the world celebrates the rich and the famous, God celebrates the obedient, the humble and the servant. Recently, during the highest holy days of the Christian faith, The New York Times had a headline article titled, “In This TIme of War, I Propose We Give Up God.” It was just one more anti-God diatribe.

That article reminded me of a 1966 Time magazine cover article announcing God was, in fact, dead. A few years later that same magazine had a cover article titled, “The Jesus Revolution.”

Let’s let God have… THE FINAL WORD.

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

We Do Love Independence!

I was thinking about independence and how much we love this word and all it represents. We can move to become independent rather quickly. After all, isn’t that what we spent 18 years training our children to become? Then one day they attempt to be independent of us and we want to hold them back because we don’t like their attitude or some such thing.

I can still remember my teenage boys pushing to become independent of their mother. They actually practiced not listening to her or at the very least looking like they were not listening as she followed behind them telling them what she thought they ought do. 

There is something inside of us that speaks to not desiring to be told what to do because that’s not independence. It feels like hovering or maybe even smothering to us. So we say to our wives, “Yes, yes, yes, I hear you.” Or to our husbands, “Are you listening to me?” Or to our wives, “I’m serious when I say this.” Or to our husbands, “You must be joking.” We’ve been longing for independence since Genesis chapter three. Our fallen nature thinks we can do it; we can be self-dependent, not needing others. 

But the actual truth is every day we need others. We need our mechanic to fix our car. We need our boss to keep us employed. We need our church family to help us lead. We need our spouse to look out for us and to help us find things we’ve lost. Daily, we need others.

But more than anything or anyone, we need God. We are wholly dependent upon the Spirit of God to lead us, cover us, answer our prayers and speak God’s direction to us. We are never really independent of others. We certainly do not want to be independent of God. So let’s truthfully acknowledge our need for Him and of those He has placed in our lives. 

I saw this “need” pictured in a scripture I read the other day. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (Philemon), have refreshed the hearts of the saints…that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.” Philemon 7, 20b

Be refreshed this Independence Day and bring refreshment to others by loving them!

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Challenge, Children, In the news, Issues of the Day, Men, Parents, Women

A Goliath Has Fallen Friday, June 24, 2022

The Philistines had Goliath and the Israelites had David. Goliath, I Samuel 17 says, had a bronze helmet, a coat of arms, leg coverings, a bronze javelin on his back, a sword and an iron spear in his hand. He terrified the king of Israel, Saul. For forty days the Philistines taunted all of Israel.

Meanwhile back home, Jesse, David’s father, sends young David with some food for his warrior brothers. David tells king Saul that he will fight this giant. David then faces this towering man and says, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin…” David tells him that all he has are this world’s weaponry. And then David reveals to the giant Goliath and all of the Philistines what he has, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I’ll strike you down.” 

We now have behind us almost 50 years of the oppression of Roe vs. Wade. What happened? The U.S. Supreme Court took on the Dobbs vs. Jackson case from the state of Mississippi which would effectively end the constitutional right to abortion, the killing of a child in the womb of its mother. The Supreme Court made an error almost 50 years ago and it has now been corrected. 

Franklin Graham said, “This is one of the most significant rulings in my lifetime. It was egregiously wrong from the start.”

Samuel Rodrigues said, “The long, dark night officially comes to an end. The unconscionable injustice of extreme abortion policies is over.”

Dr. Ben Carson said, “Today the Supreme Court of the U.S. made a statement to the world that life matters.”

Dr. Alveda King expressed, “Roe is no more! We must see every human, born and pre-born, as created in the image…of God. As long as a baby can be killed in the womb there is no such thing as civil rights. Abortion is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question, the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule this decision and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

On January 22, 1988 then President Ronald Reagan spoke to the March for Life participants, “Our opponents tell us to not interfere with abortion. They tell us not to impose our morality on those who participate in the taking of the life of infants before birth. Yet no one calls it imposing morality to prohibit the taking of life after a child is born. We’re told about a woman’s right to control her own body. But doesn’t the unborn child have a higher right, and that is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

It is also Ronald Reagan who said, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

The evil one has had a long history of killing the firstborn of Israel. The spirit of abortion, that spirit of death, was activated a long time ago against mankind. Those who have fought for this day are cheering. But those who are fervently and violently bent on killing preborn children are going after the justices, church leaders, pro-life centers and anyone and anything else they can attack. 

Why would those who have been given life be so aggressively and brutally in opposition of mothers giving life to their children? Let’s consider another quote for the answer.

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” 

And even more deeply this same author said this in answer to the violence and result of abortion:

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign. It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” (Mother Teresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14) 

Now let us continue to support the pro-life centers near us, the confused mother who is carrying a child, the fostering and the adoption of these precious little ones. 

Thank you, Father, for the many who fought this good fight without ever giving up for the unborn. It was worth it. Just as freedom came to Israel because of David’s heroic actions, may freedom come to the unborn and those who carry them.

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Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Prayer

 “Our Thoughts and Prayers are With You”

We’re hearing these words a lot lately, too often really. It seems we can go from tragedy to tragedy all too quickly.

Of late we’re also hearing some pushback about that spoken or written phrase. Why? Do people see it as insincere? Or, maybe these words in question seem too glib or perhaps spoken too soon? Maybe they’re associated with the lack of action steps? It would be wrong to judge the heart of the person using that phrase because you or I do not know what’s in their heart. 

Would we rather it said, “Our thoughts are not with you and neither are our prayers?” That’s cold and I would think, rarely thought.

So, let’s say people are sincere when they speak these words. They might be far removed from the incident and can have little to no effect upon the event. But in their minds, they can visualize it happening in their home area and they shudder to think of its occurrence. And so, they offer the one thing they can, thoughts and if they are praying persons, prayer. I do know my wife and I pray for the victim’s families and their deep pain. We pray for the first responders and what they have to experience. We pray for our nation.

Is there a time to take action? Yes. Can everyone take action? No. Is everyone called to take the same action? No. Some have to settle for well wishes, concern and hoping for a better outcome in the future. 

In my mind, here is the fault in criticizing these words. By pushing back, you belittle the one thing that some people feel is their only choice to offer. You repeat a mockery of those who meaningfully use this phrase. You judge their hearts. You condemn them for what is thought as doing nothing. And, you as well, use phrases similar to these and think nothing of it. But, is it right to jump on a bandwagon of someone else’s critical, sometimes arrogant and thoughtless words which also have very little meaning to them and effect little to no change?

Here is my biggest issue with this subject: Prayer is not inaction! Prayer to our heavenly Father is faith in action on the believer’s part. It is grappling with concern and personalizing it into words of petition directed by the Holy Spirit. Our heavenly Father waits to hear from us and that is called: prayer. How do I know this? Please take a minute to read the scripture verses below.

  • I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people. (I Timothy 2:1)
  • Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:17)
  • During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears. (Hebrews 5:7)
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
  • The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)
  • We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.(Romans 8:26)
  • Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. (James 5:13)
  • Trust in him at all times, you people: pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalms 62:8)
  • Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • Pray continually. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

Wow–prayer, petitions and thanksgiving are to be made first for all people. Prayer is powerful and effective. Jesus, the Son of God, prayed and He is our example! Prayer is presenting our requests to God, keeping us from anxiety as we know He hears the prayers of the righteous.  The Spirit of God helps us to pray accurately.

So, call on Him continually and He will answer you and show you the effective ways you can serve others to bring about change for the glory of God and the good of mankind. At the same time, please know there are very real and authentic persons full of compassion and hearts devoted toward seeing change come to the world we live in.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day, Parents, Singles

Those Words and Deconstruction

“Do you also want to leave?”

Those words spoken by Jesus and recorded in John six give me pause. Many of Jesus’ disciples were walking away, no longer desiring to be associated with Him. Jesus then looks at the twelve disciples and asks them this poignant question. 

Can you visualize yourself standing with Jesus, watching some of your friends, maybe relatives and neighbors who were walking closely with you just pick up their things, turn their backs and walk away? Now He’s looking straight at you waiting for an answer. He was, in fact, giving you a pass to walk away with them, no questions asked as you shift from foot to foot, nervously, waiting for others to respond.

Finally, Peter speaks up, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves.” 

Is that your final answer? Are you staying with Him? It’s going to be difficult. It won’t get any easier.

For those who are “deconstructing” their faith, examining their roots and finding it difficult to remain with Christ, He is waiting for your answer. Do you want to leave too? Will you walk away from the One who loves you, saved you and gave His life for you? 

There is no perfect church, pastor or godly parent. There is no perfect Christian leader, mentor or counselor. Not one of us has a perfect foundation. We will be disappointed by others who have spoken faith into our lives. But there is One that will never disappoint, never leave you and never sin against you: Jesus. 

It’s easy to criticize and deconstruct; it’s far more difficult to jump in and be a part of the solution–the construction crew. 

If walking away from faith is walking away from Him, then you’re going to have to dive deeply into self-trust, self-sufficiency and self-belief. 

But here’s the thing about that. Even you will disappoint you. There is no perfect you. I would encourage you to stop holding others up to perfection who were imperfect in your life. Give them the same grace you give yourself. 

The enemy of your soul is handing you deconstruction. Jesus is handing you life, words of real life, words of eternal life.

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like a winning crown, like rings on your fingers.

(Proverbs 1:8, 9)

The Message

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Challenge, Encouragement, In the news

A Fugitive for 36 Years!

Have you ever felt like you were running from something? Ever sensed as though you needed to watch your back? Have you experienced that disturbing dream where you were desperately trying to outrun something or someone?

William Asher III lived his life this way. He was a fugitive from a California prison camp for 36 years. “On the lam,” they call it. It wasn’t until his mother was on her death bed that the authorities finally caught phone records (from his secret phone number) in his attempts to reach and visit with his mother.

Asher, as an escapee, lived a pretty normal life. He assumed numerous alias’s, married, raised a family and worked as a truck driver but must have lived a life of mistrust, always running internally, ducking from police or anyone he deemed suspicious. Quite honestly, it must have been nerve-racking and an exhausting way of life. He is now being held at the Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown, CA.

I am guessing there is a bit of relief on William’s part, finally caught, no longer running and a conscience that may be easier to live with.

Fifty years ago, I remember running, trying to escape. The Holy Spirit would not leave me alone. My time was up. I needed to stop fleeing and turn myself in to my heavenly Father, confess my wrongdoing and receive freedom. And, oh, what a glorious freedom He has granted me!

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