Keith Hunt - Greece now Spain - Europe MESS! Restitution of All Things


Let's talk about: Marriage, Family, Children, or being Single


LET'S TALK ABOUT MARRIAGE, FAMILY, CHILDREN OR BEING SINGLE

From the "Bible Advocate" - May/June 2012 - a publication of the
Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO. USA.


SPIRIT-FILLED MARRIAGE

"Submit to one another"is in the same sentence as "be filled with
the Spirit." by Gordon S. Grose, PhD

"Here, take these." The salesman, my parishioner, handed me the
car keys, then added, "Drive it home." I came to his auto
dealership to talk about buying a car. Because we had driven our
VW Rabbit across the country, I thought it time to look into a
newer model. I wasn't interested in a brand new car; a good late
model vehicle would do. "A teacher had it," my friend said,
reassuring me of the previous owner's care.
Although I stalled it in traffic, I found the car drove well with
lots of zip. Nice.
"Do we need a new car?" my wife Elaine asked when I arrived home.
She often asks me embarrassing questions. Because I found it hard
to justify my desire, I agreed to pray about it.
In prayer, I recalled the auto repair shop across the street.
Elaine and I agreed to ask the shop owner to inspect our VW to
determine if we needed to replace it. I felt sure that would be
his recommendation. I drove my spunky pre-owned vehicle back, and
left it.

Yielding to Elaine didn't come easily for me. It still doesn't.
My ego, along with my male need for dominance, often leads me to
run ahead of her. Yet this yielding to one another out of
reverence for Christ, the apostle Paul teaches in Ephesians 5,
lies at the heart of Christian relationships, especially
marriage. In fact, such submission is evidence of our being
filled with the Holy Spirit. As much as any other measure, then,
our submission index counts.

SPIRIT-filled believers

To understand this passage, we start with verse 18: "Do not get
drunk on wine ... Instead, be filled with the Spirit." In
contrast to previous pagan behavior, these new believers must
replace their thirst for a false "high" with the true,
stimulating "high" of the Holy Spirit. Paul then defines what he
means with four words ending in "ing": speaking and singing (v.
19), giving thanks (v.20), and submitting (v.21). Although the
New International Version, with justification, translates verses
19-21 as commands, Paul writes verses 18-21 as one complete
sentence in the original Greek. He defines Spirit-filling by
those actions.

According to this passage, we demonstrate our being filled with
the Holy Spirit when we fellowship publicly with one another
using the music of Scripture (psalms, hymns, and spiritual
songs); when in worship we sing, heartfelt, to the Lord; when we
always express gratitude for everything (!) in the name of Jesus;
and when we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submit, a military term, means "to line up under." Picture row
upon row of men and women playing band instruments, each note
timed to the beat of a drum major. Just as each marcher keeps in
step and in line with every other, Paul instructs believers to
voluntarily yield to one another under Christ's leadership.

Here, then, is Paul's picture of a Sprit-filled congregation. As
I reflect on congregational conflicts I've lived through, I can
see how easily others and I ignored this instruction to submit.
Believing "I'm right" and "You're wrong," we wanted our way.
Instead, says Paul, to please Christ, we must voluntarily
discipline our wills to yield to one another.

SPIRIT-filled partners

Paul then applies that idea to Christian marriage. In the same
way we voluntarily place ourselves under the authority of other
believers, to live a Spirit-filled marriage, we voluntarily yield
to one another as partners. Paul now treats each partner's role.
Spirit-filled wives: "to your [own] husbands as to the Lord" (v.
22). By dropping a second usage of submit in the Greek, Paul
softens the command, as military subordination may not present
the most apt illustration to depict marriage. We get the point.
Paul does use the word, however, in his instruction to wives in
Colossians 3:18.

To your own husbands. In the Greek, Paul adds a separate word
here (omitted by the NIV) to make sure the yielding is specific,
not general. The wife yields not to men, but to her own husband.
Note it is "as to the Lord." Would a Christian wife defy Jesus?
How can a wife say she loves Jesus, yet avoid her husband's will?
In "The Vow," the hit movie and book, Krickett Carpenter (Paige
Collins in the movie) yields to her promise before God to remain
married to Kim (Leo Collins) even when, because of a serious auto
accident, she couldn't recall her vow or even recognize her
husband.

Wife, are you Spirit-filled? Does the Holy Spirit so control your
every thought, word, and act that you willingly yield to your
husband - in everything (v.24)?

SPIRIT-filled husbands. 

Note Paul's balance. In fact, he is much harder on us husbands,
as he devotes three times the space to us. We get the point.
Paul's original language commands husbands to "continue to love
your wives." When Jesus loved the church, He "gave himself up for
her" (v.25). Christian love goes far beyond emotion,
sentimentality, romance, or sexual desire. It extends to death of
self for the benefit of the beloved.

If Jesus gave Himself for His church, husbands, how can we insist
on our way with our wives? How can we not give ourselves up daily
to meet their needs, to do what benefits them most, and to give
them the greatest pleasure?

Husband, are you Spirit-filled? How yielded are you to your
wife's will? Jesus gave Himself up for you. Can you do less for
her? If we don't translate love into day-to-day decisions to put
her needs ahead of our own, our "love" becomes meaningless. I
admit my own failure here as I've run roughshod over my wife's
needs many times over our fiftyone years of marriage. I'm
grateful for her willingness to overlook my thoughtlessness.

"Solid as a rock," the shop owner said of our VW. What a
disappointing verdict! I agreed to move ahead with another car
only when I could establish a genuine need. Now I had to wait. I
learned a valuable lesson, however. In a concrete way, I learned
to yield to my wife.

SPIRIT-filled vows

If you're a Spirit-filled spouse, why not use these vows to help
you reaffirm your willingness to "submit to one another out of
reverence for Christ"?

Wife: In the same way I yield myself to the Lord Jesus, my Savior
who died for me, I freely yield myself to you, my husband.

Husband: In the same way I yield myself to the Lord Jesus, my
Savior who died for me, I freely yield myself to you, my wife. 
..........

Dr. Gordon Grose writes from West Linn, OR. Scripture quotations
are from the New International Version.

References:

John R. W. Stott, "The Message of Ephesians" (The Bible Speaks
Today) (Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1979)
Kim and Krickett Carpenter, with Dana Wilkerson, "The Vow"
(Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2012)
......


WHEN A HUSBAND DOESN'T BELIEVE

You can't make a Christian out of anybody, but you can do a lot.
by Kathy Collard Miller

Sheila shifts in the church pew, watching the man in front
of her slip his arm around his wife. Fighting back tears, she
prays, "Why can't my husband be sitting beside me? Oh, Father,
I've done everything to bring Ryan to You. Why won't he believe?"
She mentally reviews her words, actions, and motives of the past
few months, chastising herself for every little mistake she's
made. Then as the service concludes, Sheila vows to be a better
wife so Ryan will accept Christ.

If your husband is unsaved, you know how Sheila feels. You
probably question how much to say or do to prompt his salvation.
You sometimes bungle your best intentions by worrying, nagging,
or plotting too much and wonder if you should be a "silent
witness" instead. Then you fear that you won't be a decent
witness at all.

Comfort yourself. You're not alone. Other women have felt the
same way, made the same mistakes, sought the same reassurances.
Here are some guidelines to help you worry less about ushering
the man you love into the kingdom.

Godly guidelines

Take the responsibility off your shoulders. The wife of an
unsaved husband often believes that her behavior will guarantee
his salvation. But the truth is, you are not responsible for his
salvation. He makes his own choices.
You cannot save your husband; only God can. There's a difference
between feeling burdened for your spouse's salvation and
shouldering the load for his decision. The first leaves room for
joy, the second produces misery. Your only responsibility is to
live a godly lifestyle (1 Peter 3:1,2) and accept God's
forgiveness and cleansing when you don't (1 John 1:9).
Detach his actions from your reputation. If you believe your
husband is a reflection of yourself, you'll be angry when he
resists the gospel or acts "unspiritual."

It's tempting to squeeze an unsaved spouse into your "Christian"
mold, but it's also hazardous. Nagging him toward your goal will
primarily repel him. If you're too easily upset by his behavior,
check your motives. Are you rattled because he's breaking God's
commands or because he's hurting your pride and image?

Don't idealize Christian husbands

Having a believing husband doesn't guarantee perfect matrimony.
Sometimes a wife's idea of a Christian marriage incorrectly means
always having devotions as a couple, never arguing, praying
together about every decision, and watching God zap away the
husband's bad manners.

You can be more content with your present situation if you
realize your husband's salvation won't necessarily eliminate your
problems. Even Christian marriages aren't perfect. And as for
your husband's basic temperament, that most likely won't change a
lot even when he comes to know the Lord. Every one of us has
personality weaknesses - even the godliest Christian man.


Understand submission

Since your husband isn't a Christian, you may wonder how much you
should submit to him. You may be tempted to turn into a "doormat"
because pleasing your husband might make him more open to the
gospel. Or you may find yourself ignoring his direction, since
his life isn't grounded in God's Word.

In reality, submission doesn't mean surrendering your ability to
think and work out creative alternatives with your husband. it
also isn't an excuse to disregard your husband's counsel. Even
though he's not a believer, God can still direct his attitudes
and decisions.

If your unsaved husband wants you to do something blatantly
against God, it's proper to refuse. God does not want submission
to be used as an excuse for abuse of any kind. If you are in an
abusive situation, don't allow yourself to be victimized even in
the name of "submission." Get the support you need.
Use your conscience. What if your husband wants you to do
something that makes you uneasy, but the Bible doesn't clearly
address the situation? You can seek counsel from your pastor or a
mature Christian friend and depend upon your "sanctified
conscience."

For instance, if your husband wants you to have wine with dinner
- something some Christians would accept and others reject - you
may call upon the principle that "Everything is permissible for
me - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible
for me - but I will not be mastered by anything" (1 Cor. 6:12).
If you feel sipping some wine is sinful, you need to refrain (see
Romans 14:23).

Learn to communicate

One of the best ways to share a differing viewpoint is with "I"
messages rather than "you" messages, which blame the other person
and tell him what to do ("You make me angry when you don't pay
the bills!"). "I" messages explain what you believe, feel, and
desire ("I feel angry when the bills get stacked up unpaid")
without attacking your spouse's behavior.
"You" messages block communication because the other person
becomes defensive. Sharing "I" messages doesn't guarantee your
husband will change, but it will encourage rather than undermine
communication.

You may also need to share your convictions with your husband at
a time set aside for talking. Often we wives are ready and eager
to talk at any time, but a harried and tired husband doesn't want
to converse when he first walks in the door, when he's relaxing
watching a football game or concentrating on a hobby. Therefore,
ask your husband, "I need to talk to you about something
important to me. Could I have your complete attention after the
game ends?" or "at 7:45 this evening?" or "after I tuck the kids
in bed?"
Once you have his attention, stay on one topic - don't bring up
past irrelevant hurts. Listen to his opinion, and try to give
yours without saying the word you. It may take time for your
husband to realize that you're communicating more effectively,
but it should, in the long run, diminish friction between you.
Decide to change yourself. As you relate to your unbelieving
husband, consider these questions:

* Are you leading a life that represents Christ? Philippians
2:14-16 asks: Are you content rather than grumbling? Do you live
a blameless and innocent life? Do you hold fast to the Word of
life (v.16) by studying and memorizing Scripture?

* Even if your husband forbids you to attend church services, do
you continue to read the Bible and pray? Do you look for
fellowship opportunities, such as women's Bible studies during
the week, that won't conflict with your husband's schedule?

* Colossians 4:5,6 encourages us to season our speech with grace
and salt. Are you sharing in small doses that make him thirsty
for more?

* What is your motive for his salvation? It should be wanting
your husband to know God's saving presence and love, not solving
your unhappiness.

* Do you know how to handle your husband's antagonistic
responses? Second Timothy 2:23-26 instructs you to refuse to
quarrel and to correct with gentleness. Don't take his attacks on
Christianity personally. His battle is with God. Screaming even
while defending the gospel is never appropriate. James 1:19,20
cautions, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and
slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the
righteous life that God desires."

Use these questions as gentle encouragements, even prayer
requests, for God to help you grow in Him. It's not a list to
harangue yourself over.

Divine work

As Sheila (mentioned at the beginning of this article) matured in
her Christian walk, she changed some of her attitudes toward
Ryan. One morning as she readied for church, Ryan announced he
wanted to attend with her.
Sheila encouraged this budding change in her husband, and at last
report he had been going for several weeks. Even though Ryan
isn't saved yet, his wife believes it's just a matter of time,
for she knows an all-powerful God is at work within them both.
..........

Kathy Collard Miller writes from Indio, CA. Scripture quotations
are from the New International Version.
......


PARTNER PRINCIPLES

Matrimony is not the only holy estate. by Sherri Langton

"I need a marriage of convenience."
My friend Brenda sat across the table from me, grinning. We both
understood why she said this. Brenda was facing a hip replacement
and, like me, she's single. Her thoughts fastforwarded past the
scalpel to her time of recuperation: How will I make it after
surgery? When I come home from rehab, who will help me dress, fix
meals, take out the garbage? Maybe a husbandtype could help. No
"love for a lifetime" or intimacy - just someone to help a single
lady when she needs him.

Brenda was joking, but I detected a subtle seriousness to her
words, and identified immediately with it. Both Brenda and I are
content in our singleness and enjoy our independence, but it
can present unique challenges. When we're up against a situation
where "Two are better than one" (Ecclesiastes 4:9), it's easy to
feel the weight of life without a partner.

Financial follies

This weight felt especially heavy to me recently. At the end of
last year, my car needed new tires. So I forked over $300 to
Discount Tire for a set of new treads.
I barely started breaking them in when I heard a faint clang from
the front of the car. Turning up the radio volume only masked the
noise. On my drive to work one day, the clang became a deafening
bang against the asphalt, and I prayed the car into the repair
shop. Another $300 to replace the exhaust pipe.
A few short weeks later, I waved goodbye to my eighteenyear-old
hot water tank and welcomed a new tank into my home - for $1600.
On top of balancing the checkbook, grocery shopping, and
maintaining the rest of my life, I booked appointments with
repairmen and learned more than I wanted to know about the
plumbing in my place. That's when I found my thoughts wandering
in the same direction as Brenda's. It sure would be nice to have
someone share the load at times so I don't do it all by myself.

Omission

I've been single all my life, and I don't regret it. No joint
decisions on what car to buy or where to go on vacation. I can
go where I want to go and buy what I want to buy. Most important,
I enjoy a special relationship with God, an advantage Apostle
Paul himself enjoyed and commended to others (1 Corinthians 7:8,
9,25-35). His words brim with affirmation of the single life, and
I have happily settled in it. "An unmarried woman or virgin is
concerned about the Lord's affairs," Paul says. "Her aim is to be
devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman
is concerned about the affairs of this world - how she can please
her husband" (v.34). In verses 32,33 Paul says the same thing
about unmarried men.
But he omits something in these verses that's also part of a
single person's life: aloneness. While the absence of a spouse
allows you to serve the Lord more devotedly than a married person
does, that godly devotion doesn't always lessen the burden of
handling life by yourself.

Permanent Partner

In this negative state of mind, God whispers to me through an Old
Testament prophet, "Your Maker is your husband" (Isaiah 54:5). It
doesn't matter the historical context of this verse or who the
original audience was. Five simple, ancient words speak to me,
now, and I'm set straight again.

My real partner is the One who made me and understands me most
(Psalm 139:13-16). He is immortal, eternal, unchangeable,
all-wise, all-knowing. He is counselor, provider, and confidante.
God is all these things to married people as well, but singles
are more acutely aware of them. The absence of an earthly
partner means we lean harder on God. He is all we have; there is
no one else to go to. He sends help through family members,
friends, co-workers, repairmen - whomever the Holy Spirit assigns
the task of support. And as the Maker comes to our aid, our
intimacy with Him as partner grows.

When I think about it, God is actually better than an earthly
spouse. His commitment to me is unbreakable, for this life and
the next. He won't become bored with me; His love won't cool over
time. He won't pack His bags and leave, enticed by another love,
for He has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake
you" (Hebrews 13:5). And He won't cash in on "Till death us do
part" by physically departing this life to await the next. He is
alive forever.

Finishing strong

As I read Paul's last words written on this earth, I see that the
great Apostle finished strong as a single. He had fought well,
finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). As Paul
sat in a jail cell awaiting death, God made sure his servant
wasn't alone: Luke stayed with him (v.11). More important, the
Lord remained by him (vv.17,18).

That's what singles can hold onto. We may have missed out on the
"I do's," but we have embraced the I AM, who is everything we
need, when we need it.
..........
Scripture quotations were taken from the New International
Version.
......


Husband of Our Hearts

Right now, a Marine's picture sits on my bookcase, and a wedding
dress hangs on my closet door. The day was supposed to have been
April 16, but now there won't be a day between the Marine and me.
It was one of the hardest, most painful decisions I have ever had
to make - a death of sorts. There was no death certificate, no
body, no blood, but it truly was horrific.
Everyone goes through "death" in some form or fashion, sometimes
every day. Depending on the circumstances, others might not be
aware of it. Sometimes nobody else even realizes we are hurting.
But the Bible promises that our Father will be with us even in
death. The Scriptures don't specify what type of death it has to
be, so He will be with us in everything: the death of a loved
one, the death of a desire, of a wish or dream.
No matter what situation we find ourselves in, He bottles up our
tears and keeps them. He knows my pain, and He knows yours, and
we shouldn't be afraid to trust Him with the raw places. No one
could ever treat us more tenderly or with greater care than He
does as the Husband of our hearts.

- Lauren Stinton
..........


MORE THAN JUST A WEDDING

Smart talk in advance can keep June bliss from an earl fall, by 
Dr. Hyacynthia Mary Leonce

"The cake has been ordered, the band is scheduled, the church and
hall were reserved months ago," my friend told me, six weeks
before her wedding. "Dresses have been fitted, bridesmaids and
groomsmen have chosen their attire, and invitations have been
mailed. What else is there?"
I looked at her and waited to hear her say that their premarital
classes were going well. She didn't say it. As a licensed coun-
selor and Christian, I believed she knew the importance of
premarital education and should have already enrolled in the
classes. When she said nothing about that, I asked, "Have you
completed premarital education?"
"I wanted to," she replied, "but we haven't found a pastor to do
it yet."
Six weeks before the wedding? I was baffled, and my thoughts
raced. Premarital counselling is one of the first things
that should be done. This friend had paid $20,000 toward the
wedding, but what had she put toward the marriage?
She didn't realize that marriage is more than just a wedding.
When people marry, they don't envision many problems in their
union. The euphoria of wedding bells clouds judgment and
rationale. After about two years when the euphoria has worn off,
reality sinks in. The couple usually stands before a judge,
ending the marriage.


Reality check

Premarital education helps avoid this tragic end by focusing on
the realism of marriage, thus increasing marital quality and
decreasing the chances of divorce. It lessens stress by helping
couples deal constructively with conflict. It teaches
communication and money management skills. It helps couples deal
with their family of origin issues and identify crucial areas so
they can work on any baggage they bring into the union.
Premarital education, lasting about eight hours, points out the
myths of marriage and makes couples think realistically about
what it takes to keep a family together.
Unfortunately, some couples do only one or two sessions with
their pastor sometime before their wedding day, but research
states that this has no effect on marital quality. Premarital
education, on the other hand, actually helps increase marital
satisfaction by 30 percent (Stanley, et al, 2006). With some
saying the divorce rate is around 50 percent, even in the church,
doesn't this sound like the better option?

God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, so He prepared
a "help meet" for Adam and instituted marriage (Genesis 2:18,
KJV). God wanted us to become one flesh, but because of sin, men
and women struggle to relate because they are not perfect
individuals. Added to this are the normal problems that married
folks face in this life (1 Corinthians 7:28b).

With this forewarning from Apostle Paul that marriage will not be
as we thought it would be, we should do all we can to prevent the
problems leading to divorce, and that includes premarital
education. The Devil is a roaring lion, seeking to devour us, and
he knows that attacking homes is the best place to begin. When
the marriage is broken, the children are broken - and there goes
the family unit!

God's way

Sometime after our conversation, my friend happily reported that
she and her fiance were attending premarital education and that
it was helping their relationship.
I praised God with her. Premarital education can help individuals
enjoy marriage the way God planned - beyond their wedding day to
the rest of their lives.

Dr. Mary is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida.
Married eleven years, she is the mother of two and attends CoG7
in Galena Park, TX.
..........


CLASSIC QUESTIONS - CANDID ANSWERS

Paul's counsel to Christian couples in Ephesians 5:22-33 is still
the industry standard. Read the replies of CoG7 pastor-husbands
and their wives when asked the question "How?" 

How can I respect my husband and submit to His God given
leadership:

Coming from a long line of "strong" women, I'm stubborn and
independent by nature. At one point, I had to decide if I really
believed God's Word. The conscious decision to believe what He
said about this Bible text was a turning point. It's still a
daily decision to believe that God provides for my protection and
provision through my husband - the love of my life. - Mary Jean
Knoll, Eugene, OR

Sometimes we're called to obey (submit) to something that doesn't
make sense. But because we love God and He knows best, we submit.
I don't always understand the direction my husband's going, but
because I love him and know that God leads him, I decide to
respect him and submit with confidence. Experience teaches me
that God does lead our family and me through him, encouraging me
to respect and submit even more eagerly.
When I submit to my husband as the family head, we both benefit.
By my words, attitudes, and actions, I crown him as king of the
house (Proverbs 12:4), and he treats me like a queen! - Lois
Lemley, Vancouver, WA

First, understand the importance of respect in your husband's
emotional makeup. Most men would rather be respected than loved,
and have a hard time distinguishing between love and respect. If
a man feels disrespected, he feels unloved.
Learning the art of respecting and submitting is a choice. We
make a decision to submit to God and to established authority -
parents, police, teachers, etc. (as in 1 Peter 2), including
husband and wife relationships (chapter 3). These texts indicate
that respect and submission are not due only when deserved, but
also in hard times. When unconditional, generous respect is
given, one receives unconditional, generous love - a win-win
relationship.

Since Adam and Eve, submission has been a difficult word. It
conjures up negative images of a doormat, weakness, or something
"less than." However, a person can submit in a positive sense.
Jesus submitted to God's plan when He said, "No one takes My
life. I give it willingly." Submitting to your husband's
leadership can produce positive results for you.

For a helpful book in this area, try Dr. Emerson Eggerichs' "Love
and Respect." - Mariolene Rose, Thornton, CO

Some husbands believe God made them "in charge" of a meek,
submissive wife. He says, "Jump!" and she says, "How high?" Such
marriages are doomed.
Want to please your mate? Make him/her happy. Christian
counselling with prayer and reading of Scripture helps. When
there is plenty of love and respect, give and take, happy
submission takes place. - Row Ena Palmer, Spokane, WA

As wives, we submit to the authority of our husbands out of our
deep trust and love for the Lord and His commands. We trust God
to have given us this command for our benefit and that of our
entire household. By showing our husbands respect, we set an
important example to our families and the church. We cannot
ignore this healthy order and still expect peace and well-being
in our church, our family, our workplace, or our souls.
With Christ as his head, a husband's loving leadership is great
comfort. In an age of increasing disrespect for authority, our
example of submission in the Lord becomes evermore imperative to
the encouragement and spiritual growth of this generation of
youth. - Mary Chesney, Harrisburg PA

To feel safe submitting to our husbands, we must  first trust
them. The problem comes when we realize that they, like us, are
sinful and selfish beings. This hampers trust. So, we must first
trust God, who loves us unconditionally and has said we should
respect and submit to our husbands. Prayerful, concerted effort
must be practiced. Once we give the effort to God and practice
due respect and submission, we will see the results in our
husbands' growth in love and leadership. - Susan Schott, Dundee,
MI

We need to believe and understand that this is God's desire and
design in marriage, even when the husband is not being the leader
God wants him to be. When you obey and surrender your need to the
Lord in prayer, He, through His Holy Spirit, will work in the
husband's mind and heart so he can understand his spiritual role
in marriage. - Martha Molina-Muffley, Nampa, ID

Today's women hold positions of power in industry, politics, and
the religious realm. This female influx into public life is not
necessarily bad, but it tends to change the dynamics of family
life. It becomes increasingly difficult for women of God to find
their place in the spectrum of daily life in accord with God's
Word. Do we chafe at the "restrictions" the Word puts upon us as
compared to the freedom the world offers? Or do we allow our
husbands to take the leadership God intended? Attitude is vital
in our relationship to our husbands. The woman is the center of
the home, and her attitudes ripple out and affect the atmosphere
that prevails throughout the entire family. If we are devious or
perverse, we run in direct opposition to the One who created us.
It is important to model right husband-wife relationships before
our children, but we find ourselves swimming against the current
of public opinion. As women, we can take the lead in creating
home environments where our spouses feel free to take the
responsibility of leadership and to reciprocate in a loving
manner. What perfect harmony would exist in a home if both
parties acted and reacted as God intended!
A woman with a dominant personality might unknowingly deprive her
spouse of leadership. If the woman is jockeying for control, a
weaker spouse may simply opt out of his responsibilities. The
indwelling Spirit of God enables women to take on "divine
nature," which, in turn, gives us the grace and acceptance to
give our husbands their rightful place and our respect. - Dorothy
Nimchuk, Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan


HOW CAN I LOVE MY WIFE, AS CHRIST LOVES THE CHURCH

Find out how Christ loved the church, then do the same. In the
Gospels, Jesus cared about the disciples' safety and well-being;
shared their emotions; encouraged their growth in faith; spoke
calm, affirming words; showed patience; blessed and prayed for
them; and extended them special treatment.
Jesus used the Word to cleanse His church (v.26). Likewise, a
husband shows love when he leads his wife in faithful Bible
reading, study, memorization, and prayer. Jesus' end purpose was
to have a holy church (v.27). I imagine standing before Christ
with my wife at His return, presenting her to Him something like
this: "Here, Lord, is Your dearly loved daughter whom You
entrusted to me to care for and to treat as You would have
treated her." I want to hear "Well done." - John Lernley,
Vancouver, WA

First, be ready to listen to her desires and go out of your way
to provide what's in her best interest anyhow. Second, be ready
to settle disagreements without quarrelling. Judgment day will
come soon enough! Third, even if you are head of your wife,
listen to her ideas about how to run things. Jesus listens to
you! - Roy Marrs, Lodi, CA

To surrender himself in love, a husband should set aside regular
quiet times to be alone with his wife - communicative intimacy.
As he gives his undivided attention, he ought to intently listen
to all she expresses. She is a relational being - his soul mate.
By learning her thoughts and feelings, the husband gains
understanding of how she views her world, and knows better how to
support and care for her. All of this reassures the wife that he
is lovingly devoted to her. - John Schott, Dundee, MI

Do more than dream of great things, like vacations, pearl
necklaces, or flowers. Remember that she is right at hand. So ...
Look. Appreciate the fact that to you, she is the most beautiful
woman on earth.
Touch. There is assurance in each touch, an exchange of energy in
each embrace.
Hear. If she's quiet, ask her questions and listen to her
answers. Paying attention to her is like paying attention to God
(Genesis 21:12).
Talk. Have a creative compliment ready, but don't be on the phone
when you give it! - Raul Lopez, Woodbridge, VA

Adam and Eve were created in God's image and likeness, and given
choices. Eve was first deceived, but Adam accepted her choice,
taking the fall and its consequences with her.
With a lifetime commitment, good marriage maintenance is
essential. Every Eve needs to be given audience, to be cherished
and understood. Husbands should not become bitter toward their
wives, but submit mutually in Christ - upholding one another.
Compassion and love promote propinquity, and vice versa. Equally
shared is equally benefited. - Nick Nimchuk, Fort Qu'Appelle,
Saskatchewan

Jesus gave up His rights for the church, and we should be willing
to sacrifice for our wives. We should defend and protect her,
including the physical, spiritual, and emotional areas.
We should cherish our wives so they feel valued and appreciated.
We value our wives by asking their opinions and advice, by
listening and acknowledging their feelings. We may be the head,
but she may well be smarter. Take care not to criticize her
publicly, but compliment her instead.
The wife's role as mother and homemaker is often more draining
than our eight-to-five work. Helping her vacuum, prepare dinner,
and put the children to bed makes her feel cherished. In all of
this, you model how your children should treat a wife in
particular and women in general. - Carl Palmer, Spokane, WA

Understanding the differences in one's purpose as a single
person, versus a marriage partner, contributes greatly to marital
success. After marriage, the spouse no longer finds purpose in
self. The husband's purpose is his wife and the wife's purpose is
her husband. Individual choices are to be based on meeting needs
of the other, rather than on personal needs.
When one evaluates the quality of the relationship, the highest
criterion is whether that relationship satisfies the mate's true
needs. The synergy of that dynamic kindles flames that cannot be
extinguished either by circumstances or by other people.
Christ's purpose in coming was to arrange for His bride's eternal
welfare, requiring Him to die. Though He didn't prefer death,
Jesus yielded Himself to it in love to achieve the reconciliation
primarily for His bride's benefit. Likewise, what the spouse does
in the marriage is done to please the mate and assure the unity
of the relationship. The husband is now hers, the wife is now
his.
Unconditional love always calls for doing what is in the highest
interest of another. The needs and desires of the mate motivate
thought and conduct. Oh, the beauty of unconditional love! It is
the very nature of God and the mark to which Christian partners
aspire. - Chip Hinds, Tahlequah, OK


CURSING OR BLESSING

by Elias Escoto

"Cursed ****** rocks!" an Israeli farmer shouted while watering
his vegetables. We thought he was cursing us, but our tour guide
explained he was just angry that the rocky soil had leached all
the topsoil he had spread for his garden.
The farmer's situation was not uncommon in Israel, evidently. The
guide went on to say that many people come there unprepared for
what they find. This particular land, for example, was not well
suited for farming.

After we admired Israel's natural water storage system, this
man's cursing surprised us. We had been on nine thousand-foot
Mount Hermon, where rocks are as big as cars, winter snows are
common, and the terrain is perfect for retaining moisture. On
hills with thick vegetation and clayish soil, only a little rain
can be absorbed, and the rest runs quickly off and away. But on
Hermon, every drop of rain or snowmelt percolates down through
the coarse soil among the rocks and is stored for future use.
Further down, we came to the amazing source of the Jordan River.
Water gushes from the mountain wall and forms a surface stream
that joins others and flows southward into the Sea of Galilee.
I'd never seen such a large artesian stream.
The next day we travelled from Galilee down the Jordan Valley.
Near the Dead Sea, all became drier, hotter, and sulfur-smelling.
We stopped at a place where another stream entered, and followed
it uphill to a cave where David and his men hid from King Saul.
The cave's mouth had a mossy covering so saturated that it formed
a curtain of cold rain - a welcome treat on that hot day. It was
surprising to see ground water, collected from many miles away,
having travelled to this dry, barren area.

These experiences caused me to examine my attitude toward things
that don't go right in my life - my rocky soil. They often
involve family. Eventually I learn that those things are
blessings from God.

For example, the few agonizing years after our five children grew
up, they married, then rejected God and the church they had been
raised in. My wife and I spent many hours praying for them, when
all we could see was disaster. I found myself asking, "Lord,
where are You? What happened to Your promises?"
I thought the cultivating I had done in their lives while they
were at home would produce strong faith in them as adults, but it
didn't happen.
We felt so helpless to see our grandchildren suffer from the sin
in their homes. I even blamed God that my family had turned away.
Like the farmer, I thought my "rocks" were useless, but those
rocks contained Living Water I couldn't see. Little did I know
that God was at work all along, bringing them back to Himself.
They just needed a little chastisement from Him.

Each of my children came back to the Lord, bringing their mates
and their children with them. I felt so ashamed for doubting Him.
What I thought was a curse ended up to be the greatest blessing I
could imagine. Now I embrace the words of King David: "The LORD
is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength,
in whom I will trust" (Psalm 18:2).

Elias Escoto is lay pastor of the Madera, CA CoG7.

(While this man was eventually blessed that all his children
returned to the Lord in this life time, we need to remember that
it is the calling of the Lord that brings people to Himself. And
it is just a fact of the Bible that not all are called today to
be in the first resurrection. Those of us who know the plan of
God can take comfort in knowing that even if our children are NOT
called in this life time, there is coming a resurrection for
them, when they will be called to salvation, and most in that
resurrection will be saved into the Kingdom of God - Keith Hunt)


HOME IMPROVEMENTS?

Normal Birth!

Recent statistic: A majority of U.S. women under 30 who gave
birth in 2011 were unwed moms.
Another way to say it: Over half of babies born to younger
Americans last year had nonmarried parents.
Listen to it again: Illegitimate is the new normal in this
country. And that's a problem: Research consistently finds that
American kids born apart from marriage face higher risks of
living in poverty, failing in school, and developing emotional or
behavioral issues.
Source: "Births soar among singles," Denver Post, February 18,
2012, p.16A

Child Sacrifice?

More statistics: Only 22 percent of Christian parents say that
their faith "very much" affects the movies or television they see
or let their children see. And nearly half subscribe to the
explicit premium TV channels; 70 percent of those who do, watch
R-rated fare.
Professional comment on the stats: "Considering the violent,
sexually explicit, and profane content of much of film,
television, and internet content, this is parental negligence of
the first order.... In ancient times, parents sacrificed their
children to appease pagan gods.... Today, they more subtly
sacrifice their sons and daughters to pagan thought and action
through irresponsible management of the media they consume." -
Dr. Larry Poland, chairman, Mastermedia International

Porn Problems ...

* Spiritual problem: Porn is like a cancer to the soul.
* Marriage problem: Porn erodes true intimacy and threatens the
marriage bond.
* Human problem: Porn debases people by viewing them as objects
of self-gratification.
* Teenage problem: Porn entraps youth and young adults in moral
bondage that's very difficult to break.
* Artistic problem: Porn turns natural beauty and wonder into
ashes of lechery and cesspools of repugnance.
* Kid problem: Porn abuses children and adolescents, stealing
their innocence and inflicting irreversible damage.
* Social problem: Considered from any perspective - criminal,
financial, or personal - porn costs the culture much. Want to
overcome obscenity? If you can't get free, get help. Click on the
links at baonline.org to see how others, with Christ's help,
found freedom.


MY PERFECT CHILD

A Texas mom learns a new twist on being led by a child. by Jael
Hamilton

I'll never forget the day the doctor told my husband, Scott, and
me, that we'd be having a baby girl. Instantly I started planning
our mother-daughter relationship, envisioning pigtails, pink
ribbons, cheerleading, and other girly things. I imagined a
beautiful blond, blue-eyed girl who would be Daddy's girl and
Mommy's best friend.
Little did I know that God had some plans of His own - not
stereotypical, but those of real life.

Shattered dreams

Sara didn't cry at birth, and I sensed immediately something was
wrong. After examining her, the doctors announced
matter-offactly, "We think your daughter has Trisomy 21" - better
known as Down Syndrome.
Scott said nothing, maybe because of shock. All my dreams for a
perfect little girl were shattered. I felt shame for imagining
what she would look like, when I should have been praying for a
healthy child. What kind of future could she have? Still in the
delivery room, I whispered to my sister, "God is punishing me for
my vanity."

Or maybe I caused Sara's condition directly. Once during the
pregnancy, I came close to being in a car accident, and gasped.
An old Mexican wives tale says that gasping in fear while you're
pregnant can cause birth defects.
But the doctor explained to me that the extra chromosome in Down
Syndrome is a random event, and that I could have done nothing to
prevent it. It just happened.

Sometimes the words of friends and family, meant to console me,
stung and led me to believe we should be mourning. But with
Sara's birth, God began repainting the dreams I had for her in
brighter, more vivid colors. Sara would be His greatest gift to
me.

Gift of truth

We took Sara home and began her care. When Scott returned to work
and I was alone with her, fears of a grim future returned. She'll
never live a full life, I said to myself.
These thoughts came when I was lonely, but not that often because
I was rarely alone. Visitors came frequently, and unexpected
packages arrived in the mail, containing videos and books about
Down Syndrome. Some came from church members I didn't even know,
from other states. Though the books were medically technical, I
found solace in them. Sometimes the greatest thing someone can do
for another is to give the gift of truth.

Many people expressed their opinions of why this happened, and
many of those opinions disheartened me. Learning the facts about
Down Syndrome, however, I gained a gradual freedom from guilt,
shame, and the lies that said God was punishing me.

Loving question

Alone one day, imagining a difficult life for Sara, I cried
again. God spoke to me in my wailing: "Why are you crying?" He
asked, sounding like an actual voice.
It was not as if God expected an answer. Rather, He was giving me
a stern yet loving reminder that He is stronger than any
situation we face. Through His infinite care and our trust in
Him, we need not cry with despair. Where there is God, there is
no despair.
Though only a few words, His question contained other thoughts
for my clarification and understanding. God was saying, "Do you
not trust Me? Am I not here with you? Trust Me."
Immediately my tears stopped, and I put all my worries in His
hands, along with my hope for a future only He could make right.
Each time a thought came that did not agree with God's promise, I
did as the Lord instructed: I took the thought captive and made
it obedient to Christ - not harboring the thought, but rather
harboring hope in God.

New insight

While driving Sara to school one day, I was pulled over for
speeding. The policeman came to my window, glanced at Sara in her
car seat, looked back at me, and said, "I'm going to let you off
with a warning."
Surprised, I soon realized he wasn't giving me the ticket because
he felt sorry for me.
He thinks my life is burdensome with this imperfect child. Upset,
I told the officer, "Don't feel sorry for me. Give me the
ticket!" Unfortunately, he did.

It frustrated me how anyone could look at Sara and think she was
imperfect or burdensome. In my eyes, my daughter was every bit as
perfect as any other child. She was perfect to me.

Raising children with disabilities, parents struggle with
society's view that these children are of lesser value. They're
not. I get agitated when people discriminate against my daughter
because of her disabilities or her supposed "quality of life."
And yet I find myself limiting her abilities as well.

One day I prayed that God would help Sara attain better speech
capability. During this prayer for a "better" child, I began to
wonder if my request was right. Looking back, I laugh at how
ridiculous the prayer actually was. Help Sara gain better speech?
Sara has a mind, and she has thoughts and ideas. She verbalizes
them in ways suitable to her. If I don't understand her speech,
then perhaps I'm the one with the disability.
Just maybe Sara is not the one with the problem. Maybe we are.
Maybe I am. I began to consider that my lack of understanding
was the problem. I should be praying that God give me
understanding. Perhaps I'm the one with the disability. Society
says Sara has a speech impediment, but I have an understanding
impediment.

Presence and grace

As I prayed that God would forgive my lack of understanding, He
again spoke to me. "Jael, you may not understand what your
daughter is saying to you, but I always understand her and I
always understand you." God is so amazing! He knows us, loves us,
and forgives us in our imperfections (Romans 5:7,8). As the
imperfect one, I've learned that in my imperfection I most
experience God's presence and grace.

Through Sara, God has blessed me in ways I cannot express - not
just in helping me learn about her uniqueness but in helping me
learn about God's as well. In my time of hurt, doubt, and fear,
He became a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
and Prince of Peace to me (Isaiah 9:6) - a gift even greater than
my daughter.

The Hamilton family - Scott, Jael, Cody, and Sara - live in
Houston, TX, and attend church in Galena Park.

(Early in my young adult life, I was about 21, I had the blessing
of learning the skilful trade of Orthopedic Shoemaking, in an
organization called "The Counsel for Crippled Children and
Adults." They had "sheltered workshops" for the disabled, as part
of their work with those with various physical and mental
disabilities. I soon came to know those with "Down Syndrome" and
found them to be the most loving and happy children and adults
you would ever want to meet. Life for them is always a joy, they
smile all the time, and just have a freedom of expression of
friendliness. They are a blessing indeed to a family and to a
community. If any reader of this in the future should find
themselves with a Down Syndrome child, you have a blessing, a
special blessing. They are wonderful children and adults - Keith
Hunt)


BEYOND OUR EYES

Trusting the ones we love most to our all-seeing God. by Susanna
Burkett Chenoweth

Watching through my screened back door, I listened to my two
adult daughters laughing as they finished chatting with each
other from their cars. Then, exchanging final waves with me, they
slowly pulled away, their tires crunching over the gravel
driveway. One was driving back home to be greeted by her husband,
while the other was returning to her graduate school where her
studies awaited.
I turned and closed the door, smiling to myself at their
exuberance. But as I walked into the now quiet kitchen to make
myself a cup of tea, I felt a rising lump in my throat and a
growing ache in my heart.
With my husband away on business, I opted for an early supper,
then headed outdoors for a leisurely stroll, hoping the
distraction would ease my lingering emptiness. Small flocks of
birds flew overhead, then gathered in clusters inside trees that
bordered the railroad track running behind our house. As the
sun's rays moved below the treetops, casting long shadows on the
ground, the birdsong increased in intensity to a near manic
dissonance. I settled myself on the cool grass beneath the
tracks, briefly closing my eyes as I inhaled the summer evening's
fragrance.

Strange apprehension When I opened my eyes, I gazed toward the
track above me and saw a train approaching. Comfortable in my
spot, I watched as the train grew larger and its headlights
brighter. Two loud warning blasts of its horn pierced the air,
then silence. Slowly and steadily, it drew nearer. I realized the
birds' cacophony had stopped, and felt beneath me a mild tremor.
As the rumbling of the advancing train grew louder, the
vibrations more pronounced, a strange apprehension filled me.
When the train reached the point directly above me, I felt -
what? Dread? Fear? I held my breath. The train's engine passed my
spot, and another sharp blast of its horn startled me. Looking
up, I saw the smiling conductor waving. With a rush that felt
like relief, I inhaled and waved back.
The long train snaked on by, the deafening roar of its cars
rocking on the tracks forcing me to cover my ears. I tried
counting the cars, but soon gave up as their colorful blur made
me dizzy. As I rested back on my elbows, the vibrations shook
through me. Long seconds passed. Gradually, as the rumbling
quieted, the earth's trembling ceased. I watched the last car in
the long line disappear, and heard the sounds gradually diminish.
Then silence.

Triggered feelings

That's when the tears flowed. With vision blurred and warm
streams running down my cheeks, I stood and started toward the
house. The birds resumed their bedtime chatter, a harsh serenade
to my walk. By the time I reached the back door, my eyes had
dried and I'd begun to understand why the tears had fallen in the
first place.

I'd been brooding about my girls, reflecting how quickly their
childhoods had passed and realizing how much I still missed them.
Spending all day with them had triggered those feelings anew.
Then along came that train. Watching it pass by, in all its roar
and rumble, had been a visceral experience. Coming in the wake of
my daughters' ebullient visit, the train had affected me on a
deep, unconscious level. A few hours earlier, I'd watched my
high-spirited girls bid me adieu and had walked back into a
suddenly silent house. When the train was gone and all was quiet
again, the emptiness I'd felt before and had tried to deny
returned in full force. Along with the tears.

Whenever my girls said goodbye and went back to their lives, I
felt the void. Their lively, energetic presence, like the bump
and clatter of the train, was sometimes exhausting, yet always
exciting. Grown now, they were no longer a daily part of our
lives. Those active, precious parenting years had ended.
But in my contemplative mood, I saw that I held fears for them
similar to the fears I'd had at the beginning of this parenting
thing. I had concerns for them, but also for myself, as well as
concerns for my husband. He too was often beyond my eyes. What's
going to happen now? Will our children be OK? Will we?

I thought of the train disappearing into the distance. Where was
it going? The engineer knew. Would it reach its station?
Probably. But I didn't know.

Divine destination

I'd once read "Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the
eyes can see" (William Newton Clark). I liked that thought. But I
knew I could only dare my soul to go beyond my eyes by believing
that God was in that great beyond, by believing that God would be
there to guide my loved ones and me.
The train had passed. I couldn't see its destination. Yet I knew
it had one.

My girls, both grown, had left. Would they reach their destina-
tions? Probably. And yet ... As we talked about travel once, my
brother and I discussed the many fast, sometimes scary, ways by
which we get places, using train, plane, or car. He stated that
he wasn't keen on using his chosen mode of rapid transit, but
philosophically added, "I know I'll get to my destination faster
this way, whatever my destination might be. Only God knows that,
and I trust His judgment."

That night, in my quiet house, as I asked God to forgive my lack
of faith, I felt His warm reassurance. Our children were grown
and their lives now beyond our control and our humble eyesight,
but I took comfort in knowing God could see. God cared for them
and loved there as He does all His children.

So with dry eyes and peace in my heart once more, I slept,
knowing that my kids, my husband, my loved ones, and I would all
reach our journey's end. God promised, and He'd see to it. 
..........

Susanna Burkett Chenoweth writes from Danville, IN.
......

NOTE:

So it is for most of us - dating, marriage, children, and then
the time when children are no longer children, and they start
their lives as adults and we have a more empty house. BUT walking
with the Lord through it all, we are never alone, our heavenly
Father and Christ Jesus are always with us, through the good
times, the bad times, the happy times, the sad times, the times
of transition ... whatever situation we are in at any particular
time in life, remember you are never alone. Seek the Lord always,
praying without ceasing, which is another way of saying, keep the
Father and Christ in your mind at all times, in all
circumstances, looking to them for help and comfort and guidance,
in all that you do throughout your life, to your journey's end .

Keith Hunt

June 2012


 
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