Before You Leave Your Wife

Five Words for Struggling Men

Article by Marshall Segal

Staff writer, desiringGod.org

I used to wonder why so many marriages ended in divorce. Why so many of my friends through grade school, high school, and college were the children of divorce. And then in the years after college, why so many of my peers had already been divorced.

And then I married. And like any other married person, I suddenly felt how painfully hard communication can be between a man and a woman. I groaned over how grueling decision-making often became. I saw how marriage drew more sin out of me than any other relationship had before. I was confronted with how proud, defensive, and sensitive I can be when I am sinned against. I stumbled into all the typical (and explosive) marital land mines — budget, schedule, cleanliness, conflict, in-laws. I began to trace just how much our family backgrounds were shaping (and often straining) our new family.

Dating had sweetly accentuated our similarities; marriage profoundly stressed our differences. What had felt so compatible, so safe, so, well, easy at the altar, suddenly felt, at times, impossible. In other words, we discovered why many people get divorced.

And while the number of divorces has swelled in recent years, at least in America, temptations to give up and abandon our vows are almost as old as marriage itself. Since that first husband and first wife tasted the awful fruit of sin, Satan has seeded the thought that divorce might actually be better than marriage — that, whatever God might have said about marriage, surely he would understand why it would be different in our case.

God confronts temptations toward divorce directly with a tough but hope-filled word through the prophet Malachi, a place we may not think to look for marriage counsel and clarity. I don’t intend to address here husbands who have suffered adultery or abandonment. The men in Malachi’s day, and the men I have in mind, were husbands whose love had grown cold. They left because they thought another woman, another marriage, another life might finally satisfy them.

Five Wakeup Calls from God

The minor prophet Malachi gives us a surprisingly clear and profound (and often overlooked) vision for marriage.

“Sinfulness in marriage always begins with sinfulness in our relationship with God.”

In Malachi’s day, husbands in Israel were divorcing their wives because their hearts had grown cold (Malachi 2:16), and because many of them wanted to marry foreign women (Malachi 2:11). Why foreign women? “After the return from exile in Babylon, Judah was a small, disadvantaged region of the Persian Empire, surrounded by much more powerful neighbors. In such a situation, marriage connections were a useful means of gaining political and economic advantage” (Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi, 133). Essentially, many of the men had abandoned their wives in search of a better life. They decided to provide for themselves, even if it meant sacrificing their bride and children.

Times were bleak as the people returned from exile. The letter begins, “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’” (Malachi 1:2). The people were feeling abandoned by God. Suffering made them desperate, some of them desperate enough to abandon their covenants and desert their families. Beneath the marital infidelity was a deeper fear and wrestling — not with a spouse, but with God. Sinfulness in marriage begins with sinfulness in our relationship with God.

So, knowing something of what these men were facing and how awfully they responded, how does God confront them and call them to repentance and faithfulness in marriage? He rebukes them by reminding them what marriage is and why it’s worth guarding and keeping with all our strength. And in doing so, he gives us five great words for Christian husbands tempted to leave.

1. You made a promise.

The Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. (Malachi 2:14)

Though she is your wife by covenant. As God confronts these men who have gone after other, more desirable women, what does he remind them of first? You made a promise. From the very beginning, God said, “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Hold fast here does not mean a warm, affectionate embrace, but an exclusive and steadfast devotion — a covenant (Deuteronomy 10:20Proverbs 2:16–17).

When you vowed, before God and witnesses, “I take you, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part,” what did you mean? Was your vow merely an ambition — “Well, we tried . . .” — or was it a promise?

A wedding is a celebration not of love found, but of love declared, love promised. We make promises precisely because, as committed as we feel in our white dress and rented tuxedo, we may want to leave one day. Because marriage really is hard. If we abandon our promise when it doesn’t serve us anymore, we prove that the vow wasn’t really a promise, but just a formal way to get what we wanted.

2. Divorce vandalizes what God made.

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? (Malachi 2:15)

As any man considers divorce, he must remember that marriage is far more than “the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.” A marriage is a joining together of a man and a woman by God. And not just by God, but with something of him in their union — “with a portion of the Spirit.” This is not merely a social or physical union, but a spiritual one. And as many a wedding officiant has noted, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) — husband, wife, and Lord.

“A wedding is a celebration not of love found, but of love declared, love promised.”

The picture the prophet paints comes close to one Jesus himself paints in Matthew 19:4–6 (quoting Genesis 2:24): “Have you not read, . . . ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Divorce rips apart a divine masterpiece. However you met, and however you dated, and however you decided to marry, God married you. God made you one. Would you undo what he has done?

3. Divorce lies to children about God.

And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. (Malachi 2:15)

God made marriage to be an abounding, multiplying, fruitful covenant. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’” (Genesis 1:27–28). When he made husband and wife, he was seeking offspring.

And not just any offspring, but offspring that would love, honor, and obey him: “The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). God wants godly offspring from our marriages.

These offspring are not always biological: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). So we do not have to bear sons or daughters to carry out God’s charge to be fruitful and multiply. In fact, the most important and enduring dimensions are spiritual (making disciples), not biological (having babies).

So how might your divorce affect your children spiritually? What damage, over decades, might it do? If faithful marriages retell the story of the gospel (Ephesians 5:25), inviting our children into the indescribable love of God in Christ — what would divorce say to them? Imagine the barriers it might drive between them and God. Imagine how the pain and betrayal might make them question his love and faithfulness. Imagine how your divorce could confuse and unsettle their faith (and the faith of other young people who look up to you).

4. Divorce soaks a soul in violence.

The man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 2:16)

The strongest word to these husbands comes at the end: if a man divorces his wife for lack of love, he “covers his garment with violence.” It sounds terrible enough, even to modern ears, but what does it mean?

The garment is a common metaphor in Scripture that unfolds the quality of a person’s character. The psalmist says of the wicked, “Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment” (Psalm 73:6). Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus says to one of the seven churches, “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4). He means that they had kept their souls unsoiled by the stains of unrepentant sin.

And violence is a picture not only of the cruelty of divorce. It is a violent act, especially in that day, when a woman was far more dependent on her husband for provision and protection. Even today, to abandon your wife is an act of violence against her (however civil the proceedings may have been). A man who divorces his wife harms the one God gave him to protect.

But violence is about more than relational brutality, because this man wears violence as a garment. Violence is not just what he does, but who he is. He has not just ended his marriage with violence, but he has soaked his soul in violence. This kind of corruption is what God saw when he looked out over his fallen world: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). And how did God respond? With righteous and devastating judgment against them (Genesis 6:13).

And so this violence, this soul-steeped sinfulness, is not just violence against a wife, but violence against God — against his will and commands. The violence is not simply marital harshness, but aggression toward God. It’s the kind of rebellion that invited the flooding of the whole world.

5. God listens to men who stay.

How we handle marital struggles is so crucial, in part, because God has tied our faithfulness in marriage to our experience of God. No man can abandon his wife and still thrive spiritually. “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Even if a man thinks he can thrive spiritually while neglecting or abandoning his wife (or if he fools those around him into thinking so), it is only a mirage that will end in destruction. And that destruction will harm far more than him.

Malachi strikes the same warning as he confronts the men: “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand” — in other words, you weep because your prayers are being hindered. “But you say, ‘Why does he not [regard us]?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless” (Malachi 2:13–14). God refused to receive their offerings or answer their prayers because they had refused to love their wives.

“A man who divorces his wife harms the one God gave him to protect.”

How you treat your wife will affect how God treats you. Not because husbands earn his love by our works, but because our works reveal our faith. If we’re faithful in marriage only when it’s pleasant or convenient, we betray how small God and his commands really are in our eyes. We show whether we are truly men of faith or faithless men. And faithless men do not have the ear of heaven.

Guard Yourselves in Spirit

As God confronts these men and calls them to remain faithful to their wives, he charges them, more than once, “Guard yourselves in your spirit” (Malachi 2:1516). In your spirit. What might that look like for Christian men in struggling marriages?

More than anything, it will mean deep, meaningful, and regular fellowship with the faithful Groom of our souls. The Groom who gave himself for his filthy and unfaithful bride, the church, that he might sanctify and cleanse her (Ephesians 5:25–26). The Husband who, despite how far his wife had run, how many lovers she had known, how often she had lied and left, still says to her — to us,

In that day, declares the Lord, you will call me “My Husband.” . . . And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2:1619–20)

Men who might leave would do well to spend more time asking why God hasn’t left yet. More time below the beams that bought their forgiveness and life. More time meditating on the wedding day to come, when we will sing,

Let us rejoice and exult
     and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
     and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
     with fine linen, bright and pure. (Revelation 19:7–8)

If we lack the strength, patience, and resources to stay and love, it is not because God has not provided them. It is only because we have not loved the bride of our youth with the endless help of heaven.

Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have two children and live in Minneapolis.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/before-you-leave-your-wife


The Word of God Comes Alive in Conflict

Article by David Mathis Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

Our conflicted times may pale in comparison to history’s greatest conflicts, but in our own generation, the stresses, strains, and uncertainties of the last fourteen months have been unusual. Many of us are manifestly more on edge. Fuses seem shorter. Words, harsher. Moods, more burdened. As we’ve run on empty, previously dormant fault lines have opened up in our families, among neighbors, among longtime friends, and even in our churches.

Of course, what we experience as conflict comes in different layers. We experience societal, even global, conflicts, like the pandemic. But when conflicts erupt in our family, on our block, between longtime friends, in our own once-harmonious church, these are personal. They have faces we recognize. When another person, whether far away, or especially so when close to home, seems set on our humbling, silencing, or firing, whether justly so or not, we feel a personal sting unfelt in other trials.

Come Alive

One precious truth to rehearse, and experience, in times like ours — and especially when conflicts and threats become personal against us — is that God’s word comes alive in conflict. God didn’t only give us his word to get us through life’s trials, but he also gives us trials to make his word come alive. In conflict, his priceless comforts fall less on deaf ears than they do during peacetimes.

In his wise plan, severe mercies, and good providence, God takes his children’s lives through cycles of relative peace and conflict, no more than we can bear. Peacetime Christians can find plenty of hope and strength in the Scriptures, but how many of us have discovered how so many parts of the Bible — if not the whole — teem with life and clarity when conflict arises, especially when it’s close to home?

Born for Adversity

The Bible itself was born in conflict. Its heroes did not live in comfortable, peaceful times. Such days do not require heroes. And so too the Bible’s writers, under God, and its first readers were often embattled: from slavery in Egypt, to life under wicked tyrants and kings, to psalmists and prophets running for their lives, to looming exile and oppression, to God’s own Son betrayed and crucified, to Christ’s appointed spokesmen opposed and imprisoned, to his fledgling church straining on the edge of survival.

Consider the patriarchs in the trials and fears of nomadic living. They had no city with its haven from wild animals and marauders. The next stop for God’s people was Egypt, eventually to be oppressed by Pharaoh. Then back into the trials and fears of the wilderness for forty years.

“God didn’t only give us his word to get us through life’s trials, but he also gives us trials to make his word come alive.”

Once established in the land, and having endured relentless conflict under the judges, even Israel’s greatest king, and its sweet psalmist, was pursued by his own friends, betrayed by dear companions who turned into enemies and threatened his life. How many were David’s foes — both before he took the throne, and even as he reigned as king. He was sought by Saul, and fled to the wilderness. Later he was betrayed not only by his own son, Absalom, but also by his most trusted counselor, Ahithophel. Even Joab, his own cousin and longtime right-hand man, proved unfaithful.

Old and New

So too great David’s greater son, Jesus — how many were his foes! The authorities plotted against him. Scribes and Pharisees, on the one hand, and the rulers and chief priests, on the other — political rivals crossed the aisle to conspire against him. Carnal masses came to fill their bellies and dispersed at the word of truth (John 6). In the end, the cowardice of Pilate, the cruelty of Rome’s soldiers, and the taunts at the cross, even from the fellow crucified, would be eclipsed by the pain of his own men betraying him, denying him, and fleeing for their own lives.

Even the early church lived in conflict, under growing threat of persecution. First reviling, then imprisonment, then Stephen, the church’s first great orator, was stoned on the spot. The rulers cut off James’s head, and planned to do the same to Peter. When one of the church’s lead opponents became radically converted on the road to round up Christians, he too was pursued and opposed one episode after another. How many were Paul’s foes: legalists and Judaizers, pagans and licentious scoffers, sophists and apostates.

Then Paul had to deal with young, immature, conflicted churches spread across the Roman world. His cares included not only unbelievers who sought his life but “the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). Most pressing of all was not conflict with the opponents but conflict in the trenches, turmoil within the congregations, as in Philippi (Philippians 4:2–3), Rome (Romans 14–15), and Ephesus (1 Timothy). Paul himself was no stranger to the sting of personal conflict as he divided with Barnabas over John Mark (Acts 15:37–40) and found Peter in error in Antioch and “opposed him to his face” (Galatians 2:11).

Shine in the Shadows

Yet here, in the shadows of conflict — in its tensions, threats, and insecurities — here is where the light of truth shone out all the clearer. Timeless epistles were forged. Truth took a stand. Light thrashed against the darkness. Conflict clarified not only the mission, but the source of strength: God himself in Christ.

Instead of Christ’s messengers being silenced, they took heart. As Paul said to the Thessalonians, “Though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict” (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Conflict? No, it’s not pleasant. But it is a great opportunity for our God. He speaks into conflict, and his words come alive with fresh power to those who are embattled.

Later, writing from prison, Paul encouraged the Philippians that it was a gift (“granted to you”) to “suffer for [Christ’s] sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:29–30). Moving and speaking to spread the gospel brought conflict. And in that conflict, the word of God did not fade. It flourished.

No Surprise

Our conflicted times, and conflicted relationships, do not increase our earthly comforts, but they need not shake our confidence in heaven. The Scriptures were forged in such times, in the most challenging of days. The lead characters suffered. They did not live easy lives. The greatest figure of all, God himself in human flesh, anticipated as Messiah for centuries, was executed in public on a horrible Roman cross. And no servant of Christ is greater than his Master.

How tragic, then, when we allow the swelling of tensions and the uptick of trials to push us away from God’s word, rather than to him. God gave us his word for pandemics. And for civil and political unrest, and for crises of public information. We see afresh, in such times, how God’s words are the one real rock in a world of sand.

“Our conflicted times do not increase our earthly comforts, but they need not shake our confidence in heaven.”

Our foes today may feel like many: from within the church, and without. From professing believers and unbelievers. Perhaps someone we once knew well and who was close to us now has turned on us in some way, whether through betrayal, denial, or abandonment. Our God is not surprised by the many dangers, toils, and snares that come upon us. Neither should we be (1 Peter 4:12). Our conflicted times are in his hands, lovingly sifted through his fingers, in all their pain and difficulty. And they are a setup: for the beauty and strength of his voice.

For Times Like These

As we endure fightings without and fears within, what a Savior we have who has gone before us, promises to be with us (Matthew 28:20), and has poured out his own Spirt on us for precisely such times. In his own conflicted days on earth, he turned to the word of his Father, rather than away, when pain pressed in on him. God’s word was his life and preserved his faith — not just in the wilderness but even at the cross itself, where the Psalms he had learned and cherished from childhood found the very setting they long anticipated, even as they flowed from the embattled life of a great king a millennium before.

God’s words have been a peacetime balm for countless millions. Cherish them, meditate on them, find strength in them on the brightest and warmest of days. And as our days of great peace come, may the clarity and power of God’s words not abate. But when life gets hard, opposition arises, enemies approach, and peace collapses into conflict, lean hard on the words of God. They swell in their power and thrive at new depths in assaulted souls.

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-word-of-god-comes-alive-in-conflict

Do You Defuse or Feed Into?

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
1 November 2010

If you are alive you have conflict.

We all make choices which may please ourselves or others. When we make a choice it is usually because we have weighed the options. While weighing the options we found good and bad reasons for each possible solution.

A New York lawyer went duck hunting in the mountains of East Tennessee recently. He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of the fence. As the lawyer climbed over the fence, an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.

“I shot this duck, and it fell in this field, and now I’m going in to retrieve it.”

“This is my property,” the old farmer replied. “And you are not coming over here.”

“I’m one of the best trial lawyers in New York,” said the lawyer. “And if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you and take everything you own.”

“Apparently, you don’t know how we do things in these parts of Tennessee,” said the farmer. “We settle disagreements like this with the Tennessee three-kick rule.”

“And just what is the Tennessee three-kick rule?”

“Well, first I kick you three times, and then you kick me three times, and so on, back and forth, until someone gives up.”

The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old-timer. He agreed to the local custom. The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up to the city slicker. His first kick planted the steel toe of his heavy work boot in the lawyer’s shin. The man fell to his knees. His second kick nearly put a hole in the man’s stomach. The old man then quickly delivered the third kick to the side of the attorney’s head. Slowly, the disoriented lawyer managed to get to his feet.

“OK, you old codger,” he said, “Now it’s my turn.”

The farmer smiled and said “Naw, I give up. You can have the duck”

I certainly don’t condone violence to settle a dispute, but the above example shows how the farmer chose to end the conflict by giving up and walking away.

This conflict could have continued until both were battered and bruised or one ended up dead.

There are a variety of things that could impair a person’s thought process. We hear a lot about how drugs and alcohol affect and impair vision and the ability to thing clearly. Drugs and alcohol impairment can wear off with the passing of time. The choices made during that period of impairment may have lasting or permanent consequences, such as a drunk driver causing a fatal accident.

The impairment of thinking is caused by the chemicals in the brain which are associated with thinking being altered by the alcohol or drugs.

Unfortunately, there are people who through no fault of there own have an impairment in thinking because of a chemical imbalance within their brain caused by a medical condition of a Mental Illness. This type of impairment could manifest itself in many ways that others could find disagreeable. If you can imagine having an impaired thought process all the time, then you might have a better understanding how some people live with a medical condition of a Mental Illness.

A medical condition of a Mental Illness is treatable to a degree that many live happy, fulfilled, and productive lives.

Unfortunately, just like the New York trial Attorney, many people misjudge others who don’t fit into their mold or perception of how the world should be. When this misperception of others happens because someone even suggests that someone may have a medical condition of a Mental Illness that is the stigma that is hard to overcome.

Many who have a medical condition of a Mental Illness have learned what the farmer in the above story knew which is how to deal with confrontation by defusing it and not encouraging or feeding into it. Instead of a negatively portraying a person who has a medical condition of a Mental Illness we should learn from their many examples and contributions. Some who gave us good examples to live by are famous such as President Abraham Lincoln.

You really can touch and it won’t rub off.

Vote NO on Stigma.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/do-you-defuse-or-feed-into/


Never Be The First One To Get Angry

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

April 2, 2012

Instead of being the “fastest gun in the West” with your anger, strive to be the first to work at resolution and reconciliation. Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention. The title of peacemaker is much nobler!

Conflict has been with us since the beginning and it is not going away. The question is how do you handle it?

The problem just might be simply the result of poor communication.

Recently a mother got into a heated debate with her three-year-old daughter while discussing an upcoming road trip. The daughter seemed to be insisting that she did not want to be buckled into her car seat. “Stand” she kept saying. The mother told her firmly, “You will have to sit!” The daughter responded in frustration, “Stand” The argument escalated until the mother suddenly realized that the little girt was trying to say, “I don’t understand!”

Sometimes people struggle to find the right words to express a deeply felt need or emotion. They may not even quite understand what they are feeling inside. It may be up to you to ask thoughtful, probing questions and then listen intently for the real message behind your beloved’s words.

If you are too quick on the draw with your temper, you’ll miss this opportunity for constructive communication and deepening your relationship – and you better take cover, because things are going to fly!

A conflict can occur between individuals, groups, or among members of the same group. It can occur when you’re at home, at work or in a social setting.

This usually means each person or group: sees a situation in a different way; wants a different outcome; or has different ideas about what to do. It does not mean that one person’s ideas are better; it does mean they are different.

Individuals or groups may have strong feelings about the problem or situation. For example, they may feel: angry, jealous, lonely, cheated, scared, frustrated, and/or disappointed.

We often experience misunderstandings when dealing with: difficult people, broken relationships, jealously, diversity, and/or gossip.

Conflict can be hard to deal with. A person faced with conflict may: try to avoid the other person (unresolved conflicts can have negative physical, emotional and mental health affects on the people involved); or even attack the other person with criticism, insults, name-calling or even violence.  The stress level involved in unresolved conflict can lead to serious medical issues, including mental illness, stroke, or heart attack.

Again, communication is the key to successful conflict resolution.

Sometimes you will need to disengage, take a moment, and take deep breaths to continue.

Be a good listener. Avoid interrupting. Ask questions when the person has finished speaking. Also, sit up, face the person and relax. Let body language tell him or her that you are paying attention.

Restate what the person is saying in order that you may understand the other person’s position.

Say what is on your mind without being hostile. Criticism, threats or name-calling won’t help solve the issue. You should be assertive, expressing what you think and feel without attacking the other person.

Focus on the problem, not the people. Look for common ground.

Sometimes you’ll need a mediator to resolve the issues.

It really is okay to disagree with people; you just don’t need to be disagreeable.

There are people who would rather have a root canal than deal with conflict.

There are those who internalize conflict causing several medical conditions such a mental illness of depression or become paranoid, or suffer a stroke or heart attack or suicide.  PTSD, a well known medical condition of a mental illness starts with conflict that has not been fully dealt with.

The main reason why people don’t seek help in the beginning is because of the Stigma attached to asking for and getting the help. Yet, if they had a broken leg they would rush to the Emergency Room.

Be a friend to someone in need of a listening ear, you may save a life. A long time ago I heard that we have two ears and one mouth, which means we should listen twice as much as we talk.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/never-be-the-first-one-to-get-angry/

How Does Death Rule Over Us?

December 9, 2019 hepsibahgarden

Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. Psalms‬ ‭119:77‬

We need GOD’S TENDER MERCIES TO LIVE CONTINUALLY.

He did not call us to death. Rather, God called us forth from death and brought us into Life so that we may live eternally. We need to always keep “sin” in a dead state, and to do this we need God’s mercy. What does keeping sin in a dead state mean? It means to forsake the works of death immediately in our lives.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans‬ ‭6:23‬

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians‬ ‭5:19-21‬

To be carnally/fleshly minded is death, therefore this also needs to be kept in a dead state. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6

If we hate our brethren, he is a murderer. The Scriptures says there is no eternal life for such a person. Where there is no Life, there death is present. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John‬ ‭3:15‬.

For mercy to remain upon us, we must perfect our works before God. If not, we are good as dead to Him. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Revelation‬ ‭3:1-2‬

If we aren’t found in the first love, we are in a dead state. Falling away from First Love is referred to being asleepHence St.Paul writes, Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians‬ ‭5:14‬.

If we are not in the Spirit, we are in God’s sight dead. This was why God asked prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind looking at the Valley of Bones. When the prophet did so, breath came into them and in no time the Valley of Dead Bones revived into an exceeding great army.

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Ezekiel‬ ‭37:7-10‬. May God help us to preserve His mercies in our lives!

Be blessed 💕

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‘Grinch’ group bullies elementary school into canceling live Nativity

Judge: Artistic performances don’t ‘establish’ a religion

December 11, 2019

A live Nativity scene in Stuart, Florida (Photo by Joe Kovacs, used with permission)

A “grinch” organization that flexes its influence each year during the holiday season, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, has “bullied” a school district in Oklahoma into canceling a live Nativity scene that had been part of the school’s annual Christmas celebration.

Liberty Counsel said it’s prepared to represent the school if officials decide they want to restore the holiday display.

LC said FFRF not only was wrong to insist such displays aren’t allowed, it mischaracterized a court ruling on the dispute.

FFRF wrote to Supt. Bret Towne of Edmond Public Schools in Edmond, Oklahoma, declaring “the Chisholm Elementary School Christmas program may not include a live Nativity scene in the performance.”

Liberty Counsel, which has handled many such disputes, said that while FFRF cited a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the atheist organization failed “to accurately describe” the decision.

“The 7th Circuit simply did not make the sweeping ruling claimed by FFRF. FFRF has once again selectively related what actually happened in a suit, in order to frighten a school district into compliance,” Liberty Counsel explained.

The ruling stated clearly, “We are not prepared to say that a nativity scene in a school performance automatically constitutes an Establishment Clause violation.”

FFRF had said, “While a public school can hold holiday concerts, religious performances and instruction that emphasize the religious aspects of a holiday are prohibited.”

It continued, “Please note that including a live nativity performance in a school’s holiday concert remains illegal even if participation in the nativity scene is ‘voluntary.'”

FFRF cited a previous dispute in which it wanted to ban a 20-minute Nativity within a program that covered about 90 minutes.

The appeals court said: “The district court found that the Christmas Spectacular program. … A program in which cultural, pedagogical, and entertainment value took center stage – did not violate the Establishment Clause.

One judge wrote: “It is not sound, as a matter of history or constitutional text, to say that a unit of state or local government ‘establishes’ a religion through an artistic performance that favorable depicts one or more aspects of that religion’s theology or iconography. [The school] would not violate the Constitution by performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor or Handel’s Mesiah, although both are deeply religious works and run far longer than the nativity portion of the ‘Christmas Spectacular.’ Performing a work of art does not establish that work, or its composer, as the state song or the state composer; no more does it establish a state religion.”

“Liberty Counsel therefore stands ready, along with our affiliate attorneys in Oklahoma, to provide assistance at no charge to Edmond Public Schools, if the district desires to resume a live Nativity in a school Christmas program,” the organization promised.

 

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How you Can Become a Better Person Starting Now

Can you Really Change?

Most people wonder if it’s possible to become a better person after maturity. The answer is a resounding yes. There’s actually room for change at every stage of our life. With a willing spirit, you can transform your personality. Once you figure out the best and easiest approach to take, you can decide the most important personal aspects to work on. Taking into account the best interest of others and your well being, below are some of the most important things you’ll need to work on, in order to make the changes.

Photo by Freshh Connection on unsplash

Help Others:

Good people support and encourage others to do and become their best selves. I believe one of the greatest responsibilities we have is to support ourselves and others to live as close to their unique potential as possible. Because everything we say and do has a negative or positive influence on others. We should always take into consideration the words we speak to and about others.

How you can show Support?

  • Have some faith in others.
  • Hold high expectations.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be honest.
  • Share yourself.
  • Set the best example.
  • Challenge them.
  • Be mindful of your questions.
  • Invest your time in them.
  • Acknowledge them.

Let go of Anger:

Your relationships can create a haven from stress as well as help you become a better person. But if you walk away from unresolved conflicts, they can become a significant source of stress. Let’s face it, conflicts are common in our society. They happen with our families, neighbors, friends or colleagues. You have to face them in the right manner and come up with a fair solution. The best way to improve in this area is to learn conflict resolution strategies. Let’s take a look at 5 of this tools that are more effective:

Conflict Resolution Strategies:

  • Recognize that all of us have biased fairness perception.
  • Avoid escalating tensions with threats and provocative move
  • Overcome an “us versus them” mentality.
  • Look beneath the surface to identify deeper issues.
  • Separate sacred from pseudo-sacred issues.

You can also identify what your anger triggers and eliminate them as much as possible. Also learn to let go of any grudge and residual anger.

Be a good Listener:

Listening to others and is one of the best things you can do for another person and yourself. It shows them that you value their opinion and allows you to develop closer connection with others. You also get to hear perspectives you might otherwise dismiss. It is important to engage in active listening with the people in our lives. Being an active listener can change your life for the better. It fosters deeper relationships and exposes you to thoughts, ideas world wide views beyond your own experience. You never know what you might learn from someone.

Self Care:

Self care is vital for building resilience when facing life’s unavoidable stressors. Making sure that you get enough sleep is important for your physical and emotional wellbeing. Less sleep can make you less able to brainstorm solutions to problems you come across. I don’t know about you, but when l don’t sleep enough, it makes me very edgy the next day.

Eating a proper diet is also essential in keeping your body and mind healthy. When you eat healthy, problems like bloating and constipation are never going to be on your worry list. That means you will be in optimum shape for handling stress – which gives you added resilience to manage those challenges that come up unexpectedly.

Be Polite:

Being polite is an act of kindness. We can show politeness to everyone we come across. It is not a trivial thing. This little act instill positive feelings in the people around you. Maintaining a certain level of politeness and civility is appreciated because it shows thoughtfulness, considerations, and kindness.

Live with Integrity:

Personal integrity is a cornerstone of whom we really are. It also shows what we stand for. Integrity is part of our mortal foundation. Integrity shapes the person you become with time. Living with integrity means being true to your ideas. It means that your outward actions reflect your inner beliefs and values. It means making necessary changes to live up to your standards. Take time to understand what integrity means to you and how your decisions align with your values. These things can help propel you towards becoming a better person.

Original here

 

VIDEO A Christmas Story

December 7, 2019   By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

 

 

The Christmas Story is story of a hero. The greatest evil the world has ever known made the greatest hero the world has ever known. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of torture and execution man devised or used.

Not every hero since has given up his life for another. Heroes generally take no concern for their own life while trying to save the lives of others.

The acknowledgement and veneration of heroes has existed for centuries. It was the ancient Greeks who are accredited with first coining the designation.

A very recent tragedy brought to light another hero.  A young graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, whose dream was to become a pilot, is a hero after he reportedly related crucial information about the identity of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola shooter to first responders, despite having been shot several times, a family member revealed.

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who were killed Friday morning when Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire on a flight training program for foreign military personnel, Adam Watson revealed in a Facebook post. (1)

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who was killed Friday morning.

“Today has been the worst day of my life. My youngest brother gave his life for his country in a senseless shooting. Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own. After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled. When we were little I gave Kaleb the name little poot and it stuck. It eventually evolved into pootis and finally uncle poot. Just wish I could talk to him one more time or wrestle with him one more time even though he could probably take me now. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. “(2)

Simply put, the key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.

Philip Zimbardo: What Makes a Hero?

 

Christians who helped Jews during the Holocaust were in the same situation as other civilians who helped imprison or kill Jews, or ignored their suffering. The situation provided the impetus to act heroically or malevolently. People choose one path or the other.

Some choose a path to meet the needs of others. For example there is New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson will use his custom-made “My Cause, My Cleats” cleats to bring attention to his One More Foundation. H e created the One More Thing Foundation to spread the love and hope of Christ to one more soul.

“And, we do that by following the three charges that are given in Micah 6:8 when it talks about doing justice, loving-kindness, and walking humbly with our God,” he explained.

Watson said that, for the last decade, the foundation has given him the opportunity to meet people with “real needs” and “to know the one who can meet their needs forever and ever.”

“Whether it’s promoting and giving food to those who are hungry, doing events around the holidays, promoting education, standing against injustice — whether that be sex trafficking, abortion, or racial injustice … and also, just bringing kindness to people,” he continued. (3)

Courtesy of Eric J. Adler and the New England Patriots

Heroes | Restoring Faith in Humanity | 2017

 

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” — Arthur Ashe, professional tennis player.

There have been thousands of unnamed and unknown heroes over the centuries. Heroes include those who stood ready, who fought and who died for the cause of freedom, first responders, those who served others, and the many that have helped someone without regard to their personal safety,

The true Christmas Story is an everyday story.

The real reason for the season was born to die and save us all.

——-

(1) https://www.foxnews.com/us/naval-academy-grad-shot-5-times-hero

(2)  https://www.facebook.com/adam.watson.397/posts/3471855006187806

(3)  https://www.foxnews.com/media/patriots-benjamin-watson-one-more-foundation-my-cause-my-cleats

——-

Below are a handful of links to heroes

https://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/local/2019/11/14/sons-american-revolution-honor-first-responders-heroic-acts/4193217002/

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/08/05/soldier-praised-for-heroic-act-at-el-paso-shooting-what-i-did-was-what-i-was-supposed-to-do/23788523/

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2019/09/17/hero-westchester-cops-honored/2354177001/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bradley-plane-crash-heroic-acts-saved-lives-in-deadly-b-17-bomber-crash-official-says/

https://www.usla.org/page/HEROIC

https://publicholidays.la/anguilla/national-heroes-and-heroines-day/

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/a-christmas-story/


VIDEO What Is Going On?

 

 

 

 

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II  September 7, 2019

 

I admit sometimes I forget, and sometimes I can’t remember, and I don’t remember which it is. I tell the kids don’t get old and that I don’t know how that can be done, just don’t get old. Yes, they just look at me.

Where does one call to find out the offense of day, moment is? Is there a central clearing house? It sure seems like you can turn TV stations to find the same words and the same outrage coming from different talking heads. I figure someone is passing out words to say. Would someone please give me the phone number of who has a list of the current offense words, hats or whatever? This growing list is giving me a headache.

When I grew up our news came from newspapers where opinions were found in the Editorial section. News contained facts not propaganda.

Newspapers were printed once, maybe twice a day, or weekly.

There were no computers, cell phones, texting, emails, twitter, facebook or other such things that instantly post pictures and information to people worldwide.  When someone needed or wanted to pass along information or pictures if they didn’t meet in person they put them in the mail.

TV news was on early in the morning, at noon, 6 and 11pm in black and white. There were no twenty four hour TV stations. AM radio was mostly music, FM broadcasts were rare.

No one was shot up into space yet. President Eisenhower had not yet warned us of the dangers of the military industrial complex.

In others words people looked each other in the eye and spoke to each other.

Yes, in some ways you could say life was slower compared to today. In some ways life was more relaxed than today.

There actually is a way to support my statement that life was more relaxed then.  The amount of people suffering from anxiety, which is the activation of the Fight or Flight System, rose in response to increase to the strains of everyday life from the 1950s on.

“The common psychological features of these problems include a mélange of symptoms involving nervousness, sadness, and malaise. The typical physical symptoms consist of headaches, fatigue, back pain, gastrointestinal complaints, and sleep and appetite difficulties, often accompanying struggles with interpersonal, financial, occupational, and health concerns. These complaints account for a large proportion of cases found in outpatient psychiatric and, especially, in general medical treatment.” (1).

Am I suggesting we go back in time, not quite? There are very many good uses of modern technology. The biggest downside I see to modern instant communications is the lack of interpersonal communications.

Interpersonal communication is the process by which we exchange information, feelings, and meanings through verbal and non-verbal messages through face-to-face communication. It is not always what is said, but how it is said and the expressions used.  The absence of interpersonal communications can lead to a misinterpretation of what was said which today could lead to quite a flurry of tweets.

My suggestions include: count to ten before sending an instant message, perhaps you’ll change what you want to say;  text less; meet as many people as you can in person to talk face to face; and take walks.  You just might find your quality of life will improve as will those around, doing your part to make the world a better place.

 

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888013/


Original here

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/what-is-going-on/