Anything …With God

 

September 6, 2019 by Discerning Dad

 

How many times have you heard it said, “You can do anything you set your mind to”? As great as that sounds, there are many bothersome things with that statement, the least of which is that it is flatly wrong. When I was a young ridiculous teenager, many, many years ago, I was a Beatles fanatic. I would dream about being on stage singing “She Loves You” with thousands of girls screaming for me, and, of course, being able to perform so well. I started taking guitar lessons and was certain I would be turning heads in no time.

Then reality began to set in. After years of effort, that golden voice that resonated in the shower, that made me certain girls would be chasing me down the block when I left my house, was typically way off key when heard in the real world. Not to mention other missing traits, excellent guitar skills, superb song writing skills, rhythm…sadly the list goes on. As I got older it became clear, I will never be a Beatle. DUH! This was simply absurd, as is our propositional phrase. God had gifted those men with extraordinary abilities, and no amount of practice, money, or coaching could ever cause these abilities to inhere in me.

Yes, reality does at times stink. And, can you imagine if we could do ANYTHING we set our mind to? There have been times I’ve wished for some dreadful things. I am grateful I wasn’t able to accomplish any of them—thank God for my limitations. HUH? Yes, we are fallen creatures with the ability to do great harm. Limitations, among other things, limit the damage we can do.

The phrase “You can do anything you set your mind to” is only true for one person, really three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Only a being that possess omnipotence and complete sovereignty over all things can produce and guarantee a particular outcome. How unbelievably fortunate we are that our God possess these wonderful qualities and is also good, perfect, and without error or malice. Otherwise we would be doomed.

It’s really the word ANYTHING that kills the phrase. Still, most people, at one stage, or even several stages in their life, ask the question, what CAN I do with my life? Is it too lofty to believe that we have something special to offer? No. The Lord himself not only encourages it, but has also ordained it:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 KJV

Aside from the fact that the works are to be good, the phrase “God hath before ordained” means that God had been intimately involved in planning our lives before we were born, and with that has instilled in us the traits necessary to achieving these plans, though we may not know it, or maybe we do? God is not limited in what he can instill in any human being, that is, within the bounds of what he has decided a human being can or can’t be.

For example, he gave David the power and skill necessary to defeat lions and bears in hand-to-hand combat. And who can forget he was given the ability to defeat Goliath. God had ordained this for David. I don’t believe anyone else could have defeated Goliath, but David. If we pause here as David is faced with the challenge of Goliath, and ask the question, what can David do with his life at this instant, we can see that God had provided the evidence David needed to make his decision. The question arises, did David have any assurance that he could do this? The obvious and typical answer is, yes, of course. David had great faith in his mighty God. This is true, but the more relevant question, is, did David believe God could and would do this through him? That is the question at the core after all, right? He knew, in the Lord, he could overcome incredible odds from his experiences fighting lions and bears. In David’s case, I would argue that he was provided sufficient reason for trusting that God would use him this way. David was keenly aware that God had been working in his life from long ago as we can see from his words in this Psalm:

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 NASB

We must do away with the notion that God only started working in our lives when we got saved, when in reality He started in eternity past and continued through our birth to present day.

Furthermore, we must be aware of any unwillingness in us to do what God has prepared for us, as it was in a certain great figure from the past. Long before David, was Moses. Raised in the Pharaoh’s household, he became intimately familiar with the ways and mindset of this aristocracy. And they with him. God did not choose at random, a man to lead his people from bondage in Egypt. He purposed to use Moses and orchestrated circumstances that lead to Moses being taken from his true family and placed in the palace of Pharaoh to be reared in Egyptian culture. All this was done to prepare Moses for his future calling. Unfortunately for Moses, unlike David, when his time came, he did not greet it with open arms. He was resistant and full of excuses. He did not see himself as fitting the part. He did not consider his history as being woven by the sovereign hand of God to prepare him for this day. Thankfully, God in His mercy condescended to Moses concerns, and appointed Aaron to be his mouthpiece. This is a wonderful picture of how God is willing to help us succeed in doing what he has called us to do.

One last example from the life and ministry of Paul. Being the humble guy, he was, Paul said:

“Although I myself have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee; as to zeal a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness that is in the law, found blameless.” Philippians 3:4-6 NASB

Yes, yes, he does say in the next verse that whatever things were gain, he now counts as loss, but this is meant in the sense that it is not those things that contribute to his salvation and relationship to Jesus. The things he calls out here did have value in Paul’s ministry. And the Lord is the one who sovereignly instilled them in him and did so before Paul came to know Jesus. Paul’s vast knowledge of the scriptures contributed greatly to his ability to express how Jesus fulfilled the messianic scriptures. Most Christian biblical scholars, if not all, consider Paul to be the greatest theologian that ever lived. His knowledge, under the power of the Holy Spirit, has given the Church a great understanding of the essence and power of the Gospel. This, along with his zeal for the Gospel, allowed him to spread the message to so many, in the face of great adversity. This man was well prepared beforehand by God. We can easily see how God used these divinely instilled qualities strategically for spreading the Gospel.

You may say these are lofty examples, and I’ll never be a Paul, David, or Moses, and you would be correct in saying so. God does not need you to be Paul, David, or Moses. He needs you to be you. You are at your best when you are being the person God made YOU to be. You Christian, are the missing part in someone’s life, or in some community or church. YOUR effectiveness may be on hold until YOU discover from the experiences YOU’VE had, the way YOU feel, the convictions YOU hold, the skills YOU embody, the sufferings YOU’VE endured, and even from the weaknesses YOU possess, that YOU have something precious to offer, instilled by the hand of God.

Discerning Reflection:
Think through your life experiences from as far back as you can remember, both good and bad. How did people and events affect your life? What drives you? What do you feel deeply about, and why? What things have you learned to do well? What skills have others noticed in you? Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down…it will help to paint a clearer and more useful picture.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to open my heart and mind to what you have instilled in me. Help me to understand who you have made me to be and do. Help me to let you use my life, that it may be profitable for you. Amen.

Mark DiSalvo

Guest Discerning Dad

 

Guest- Mark DiSalvo- Anything…with God

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What You Need to Know about Suicide Risk and Prevention

Dr. Timothy R. Jennings
MD, DFAPA Sept 12, 2019

What You Need to Know about Suicide Risk and Prevention

For the past decade, the suicide rate among teens has been increasing. Among teen boys, suicide completion has increased 33 percent over the last 10 years, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.1 The major risk factors for suicide are genetics, mood disorder (major depression), pessimism, misreading social cues, impulsivity, and impaired learning.

How Genetic Risk and Suicide Are Connected

Fifty percent of suicide risk is genetic, meaning suicide risk is inheritable and does run in families. This does not mean that a person is predestined to die by suicide if they have family members who have died by suicide, but they do have an increased risk for it. This risk can be mitigated by awareness and purposeful interventions to prevent or treat the other factors that increase risk, thereby reducing suicide risk even in those who have genetic vulnerability. There isn’t a specific gene that increases the risk; instead, it’s the interaction of hundreds if not thousands of genes. Thus, even though the genetic risk is well documented, a specific genetic test is not available.

While we cannot point to a specific gene, it is known that the brain’s serotonin system is involved. Postmortem studies reveal that people at high risk of suicide have fewer serotonin transporters in their brains when compared to people who died in accidents. And brain changes in serotonin receptors predict suicidality and also the lethality of the attempt.

How Depression and Suicide Are Related

People with a history of recurrent major depression have a 13-fold increased risk of suicide. Major depression is the most important and treatable risk factor for suicide. Many people believe that suicide risk goes up because of some stressful life event while failing to realize that many of the stressful life events are the result of major depression that is not being treated.

When people are depressed, they are more likely to:

  • Socially isolate, be unavailable, be easily overwhelmed, and thereby experience relationship problems and breakups.
  • Call in sick to work, have impaired job performance, and thereby lose their job.
  • Fail to pay bills either because of lost work and can’t afford to, or lost attention to life’s responsibilities, and thereby lose their car or home or have creditors calling.

So, the life stressors people attribute as the cause of suicide may, in reality, be due to underlying depression that is not being treated. Then when these additional life problems hit persons already suffering from depression, they are overwhelmed and pursue suicide as a means to escape their mental and emotional pain. In fact, the data shows that people without depression who face similar life stressors have significantly reduced risk of suicide when compared to someone with depression facing the stressor.

Further, studies show that not all people with depression experience suicidal thoughts, but those who have a pessimistic mindset in addition to being depressed are the ones at increased risk. Even when the depression is treated and remits, those at higher risk for suicide continue to manifest a pessimistic outlook on life compared to depressed people who are not suicidal.

The point here is that hope and hopefulness in the face of depression and real-life stressors reduces suicide risk, whereas pessimism increases the risk.

4 Risk Factors to Look For

Research documents four factors, occurring simultaneously, that work together to drive suicidal behavior. Those four factors are:

1. Recurrent major depression

2. Misreading social cues

3. Impulsivity/reactivity

4. Impaired learning

Brain studies reveal that when given standard tests that require them to determine emotional states by looking at faces, those at high risk for suicide misread the faces in ways that incite fear, hurt, rejection—which is a dysfunction of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where we reason, think, and problem solve.

Further, those at increased risk demonstrate impaired response inhibition—the ability to pause, think, and make a wise choice. When given a choice of receiving $50 immediately or $300 in 30 minutes, those at risk for suicide take the $50 right away, whereas those at low risk for suicide wait the 30 minutes. This is impairment in response inhibition, the ability to stop an impulse and wait for a better opportunity.

People at high risk also demonstrate impaired learning from previous events. We have all experienced situations in which something stressful has occurred, inciting anxiety, fear, and worry—but eventually, the problem passed. People at low risk for suicide are able to learn from such events so that when new stressors occur, they are able to remember that things will get better, the stressor will resolve, and life will improve. But people at high risk fail to learn this, and each new stressor is experienced with overwhelming fear and often hopelessness.

It should be noted that all of the above risk factors are worsened by alcohol and drug abuse. Such substances increase mood disorders, damage thinking and learning circuits, increase impulsivity, and often contribute to increased life stress (financial, relational, and legal problems).

Factors in Reducing Suicide

Understanding all of these risk factors has led to effective interventions that reduce suicide risk and rates. What are the factors with proven efficacy in reducing suicide?

1. Removing the means—removing guns and lethal pills from home

2. Treating depression with psychotherapies and medications; both reduce suicide

3. In-school education about risks and warning signs and ways to get help

4. Limiting media reporting and coverage of suicides

5. Alcohol- and substance-use treatment

Another factor at play in suicide risk includes loss of meaning, value, and purpose. Neuroscience demonstrates that when the brain’s love circuits activate, they calm the fear/stress circuits. Activities and experiences that increase love, altruism, other-centered connection, and meaning will decrease suicide risk, whereas actions that isolate and increase fear will increase suicide risk.

With this in mind, let’s examine societal trends and infer some potential changes that may be increasing risk. Historically, American values were built on three overriding elements: God, Family, Country. When these elements are valued and esteemed, they create an other-centered worldview—we live to glorify God, to bless and protect our families, and to help our country. As John F. Kennedy said more than 50 years ago, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

But today’s generation is taught that there is no God, many families are fractured, and the country is abusive, can’t be trusted, and is supposed to give to “me.” This change in values and mindset means that there is nothing more important than the self, which results in increased fear, which in turn neurobiologically drives increasing depression, hopelessness, and suicide.

How Can We Reduce Suicide Risk?

By being aware, by removing means from those at risk, by treating mental illness (depression), getting into substance treatment—but also by increasing love, purpose, and meaning. We need to teach young people that they are valued, they are loved, they are precious, and they have purpose, but also that life is not all about them; we teach them that their true joy, happiness, and health will be realized only when they come into harmony with how God built reality to operate. And God built reality to operate upon other-centered love.

Young people must see in their families, churches, schools, and community how genuine compassion, grace, mercy, and altruism functions. They must see love in action, love manifested toward them and those they care about. They must see the God of love, choose to surrender self, and live lives in harmony with God’s design—lives of altruism, compassion, and service—seeking to give, to bless others, rather than seeking to get. When this occurs, the fear circuits of the brain calm and the risk for suicide decreases.

Notes:
1. Miron, O., et al., Suicide Rates Among Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States, 2000-2017, JAMA. 2019;321(23):2362-2364. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.5054


Timothy R. Jennings, MD, DFAPA is president of Come and Reason Ministries and is a board-certified psychiatrist with a private medical practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is a master psychopharmacologist, lecturer, international speaker, and the author of several books including The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life and The God-Shaped Heart: How Correctly Understanding God’s Love Transforms Us.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-you-need-to-know-about-suicide-risk-and-prevention.html

7 Inspiring Habits for Christians with Anxiety Disorders

Cortni Marrazzo
Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer Sept 12, 2019

7 Inspiring Habits for Christians with Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be a hard topic to talk about in many churches and Christian circles. Some people equate chronic anxiety with a lack of faith and trust in God. However, many Christians who have a close relationship with God—and trust Him deeply—still experience high anxiety.

If you are someone who loves and trusts God, yet still regularly face anxiety, I want to encourage you that you are not alone. Hope is not lost. It’s possible to experience the freedom of Christ in your life, even when anxiety is persistently knocking at your door. I want to share with you, based on my experience with anxiety, seven habits for living well in the midst of struggling with anxiety:

1. Focus on the true freedom of Christ.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. – Romans 8:1-2

To experience true freedom in Christ, it helps to recognize what that freedom really entails. The freedom we have in Christ is freedom from condemnation and freedom from the separation from God. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s likely you face a lot of guilt and shame from not doing enough or not being enough (or both). While this guilt and shame can easily overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is not how God sees you.

Experiencing freedom in Christ doesn’t necessarily mean you will ever be free from all the symptoms of anxiety on this side of heaven, but you can be free from being in bondage to that anxiety. Despite how you may feel and what you physically experience, you can always stand on the truth of God’s word that promises that God never condemns you and that you are always loved and accepted by Him.

2. Keep coming to God for help with your anxious feelings.

Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help. – Hebrews 4:15-16

My own experience with anxiety has caused me to run to God a lot, because I find myself in desperate need of His peace to overcome anxious feelings. I used to try to numb my anxious thoughts with shopping, food, tv, social media…whatever I could do to temporarily drown it out. This was mostly because I felt shame about my struggles, and didn’t want to take it to God for fear of judgement.

I know in my mind that God doesn’t judge me in my weaknesses, but anxiety tries to convince you of things that aren’t true. Jesus was human and experienced anxiety Himself, so not only does He accept and love us no matter what, He can actually relate to our struggles! He was so anxious before dying on the cross that he actually sweated drops like blood (Luke 22:44).

When you are anxious, you are in need of God’s peace, and God tells you to come bravely to Him when you are in need. He promises that you will be treated with undeserved kindness and that He will help you.

Anxiety can cause us to feel ashamed when we are in need, but God actually created us to need Him!

back view of diverse group of adults linking arms around waists, walking forward together

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

3. Embrace outside help in dealing with your anxiety.

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. – Proverbs 11:14 MSG

It is very important to seek God’s help when struggling with anxiety, and sometimes part of that help may come from outside sources like a professional counselor. When my son was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I found myself struggling with my own anxiety in trying to navigate how to help my son.

I sought out a Christian counselor who has since helped point me back to God’s Word, while also equipping me with tools and actions to help me physically train my brain to do what God had actually made it to do.

Counselors are trained in methods of dealing with anxiety that make changes at a physical level. They can teach us how we can help our brain recover from the fight or flight reactions that kick into overdrive when anxiety shows up.

Healthy habits like journaling, deep breathing, practicing mindfulness, and many others have personally helped (and continue to help) me when I struggle to get past anxious thoughts and feelings in my life.

4. Take care of your body.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Exercise and diet are huge factors in helping anxiety. Running is something that has personally helped me immensely. I actually didn’t realize just how much until recently when my running partner went on vacation and I took a week off from running and found that I struggled with a lot more anxiety that week than I did when I was regularly running.

For me, when I run or do some other form of exercise consistently, it helps me eat less junk and eat more nutrient-dense foods. Exercise and nutrition have a big impact on your brain and can contribute to the levels of anxiety you experience in your day to day life.

5. Follow God’s leading on how best to tend to your unique anxiety needs.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

There is a wealth of information out there and a lot of people advising those struggling with anxiety. While research, knowledge, and advice are valuable, it’s important to listen to what God is specifically telling you to do. 

Prescription medicines for anxiety disorders can be a controversial choice for some people, but I believe each person should follow God’s leading on this decision. Because an anxiety disorder is a medical diagnosis that stems from the way your brain is wired—and can be genetic—it is highly possible that you may benefit from a medication to help you. This is especially applicable if you’ve found that counseling, diet, exercise, and even prayer just don’t seem to be relieving your anxiety.

If you feel like you could possibly benefit from the help of medication, pray for God’s guidance in this matter, and don’t let fear stop you from at least talking to a counselor and/or your doctor about your options. God may lead to you this resource as a way to help you.

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve taken medication to help me through some particularly rough seasons. Before making that decision, I prayed about it and when I sensed His peace about it, I continued to trust that God would help the medication work in my brain.

I continued to seek God and use other strategies to help myself while taking medication, but I believe God used the medication to help me quiet my brain down enough to make those positive choices every day. More importantly, it helped me connect with Him on a daily basis. My hope wasn’t in the medication, but my hope was in God using it for good in my life.

a woman with her eyes closed and a grateful expression

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

6. Give yourself grace when you feel anxiety.

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. – Colossians 1:22

One of the worst things about anxiety is the guilt and shame that often accompany it. It’s easy to blame yourself for how you feel or feel guilty about it, yet experiencing anxiety about your anxiety is very easy to slip into. Have you ever struggled with any of these thoughts?

“If I trusted God enough, I wouldn’t be anxious.”

“Why do I keep struggling with this?”

“I’m just not good enough to get past this.”

Anxiety isn’t something anyone chooses, but it is something many struggle with. There are many different reasons someone may experience more anxiety than the next person: genetics, how your brain is wired, previous trauma, perfectionism, and many others.

The point is, it’s not your fault. You are not less than others, or less than God wants you to be because you struggle with this.

You are human and your struggle is part of your humanity.

7. See the good in your struggle with anxiety.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Even though we don’t know for sure what Paul’s particular thorn was, we know it was something he struggled with. I don’t know about you, but anxiety sure feels like a thorn in the flesh to me because it’s definitely a struggle! But when I struggle, I run to God because I know He is the only one who can ultimately help me. This keeps me coming to God a lot, and as a result, I am growing closer to Him and growing in my faith.

Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy or fun, but it keeps you aware of your need for God and helps you continue to see just how much His power works through your weaknesses. And when you experience God and His strength more powerfully, you are able to share your experiences with and encourage others who are also struggling.

Truth is, even when you have to consistently face the monster of anxiety, you can still freely live out the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave: to love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)


Cortni Marrazzo is the Communication Director at ONE* Church in Spokane, WA.  She and her husband Jason have two elementary-age sons, one of which has special needs. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CortniMarrazzo)

https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/depression-suicide/inspiring-habits-for-christians-with-anxiety-disorders.html

Life with Christ shouldn’t be shallow

What does it mean when we say we want to “go deeper” in our faith? What should we go deeper into?

 

by Godinterest

 

The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

2 Timothy 2:19.

Pray for the impartation of the Holy Spirit and believe that it is for you. Search your own hearts, and prepare your mind for the reception of the Holy Spirit. Do not be satisfied with your present experience. Sincere Christians universally want to “go deeper” in faith and knowledge of the Scripture.

Prayer should be the natural outflow of the soul – you should pray because you must pray, not because the set time for praying has arrived — but because your heart must cry unto your Lord.

It is the privilege of every believer in Christ to possess Christ’s nature, a nature far above that which Adam forfeited by transgression. He who sees the Son by faith and believes in Him, is obedient to the commandments of God, and in this obedience he finds everlasting life. You will not have a firm religious experience unless you dig deep, and build your house upon the Rock. But spiritual depth isn’t simply about knowledge (a common misconception), but about everyday life and relationships. And where better to begin than reflecting on how to have deeper joy in Christ?

Satan works through many who will be worked, blinding the perceptive faculties, paralyzing the senses with selfish ease and love of the world, and unless a special message direct from heaven comes to them they will not discern their peril.

Many believers waver between different opinions and actions showing feelings of hesitancy when studying the word of God. Many grasp the truth with their perceptive powers, but they sometimes refuse to separate themselves from the world.

Many will not consent to be God’s peculiar people. They know the truth of the Bible, but they do not want to obey, and they turn from the truth. They act out their unbelief, and darkness comes upon their souls. Choosing their own way they are left to be filled with their own devices. Truth is insulted, Christ ignored, and perdition will be their portion unless they turn and repent in the name of Jesus.

While these opposing influences are at work to lead away from the truth, away from conviction, away from heaven into the broad path of self-gratification, the agents of God are to work to save souls that are ready to perish.

Prayer to Seek Truth

Lord, help me to seek truth today
To find it in places and people I wouldn’t otherwise notice.
Teach me that in truth there is wisdom and understanding.
May seeking truth help me overcome my fears and frustrations.

Lord, help me to strive for truth in all that I do today –
That my thoughts, words, and actions may reflect Your goodness.
Show me that only in truth will I be free –
To live honestly and courageously,
To love wholeheartedly and unconditionally.

Lord, help me to cherish truth –
Knowing that You are the author of all that is beautiful, good, and true.
May truth reign in my heart, no matter what I encounter today –
Lies, mockery, confusion, or betrayal.
Your truth gives me clarity and peace.

Lord, You created truth.
You are Truth.
Help me to know truth when I see it;
Learn truth when I am taught it;
Love truth,
Live truth.

Help me to share truth with others today –
Those who are lost and lonely,
The brokenhearted and weary,
Anyone who is suffering from visible or invisible pain.

When I am a son or daughter of truth, I am free to be
Fully alive
Fully myself
And an honest reflection of You.

Truth leads to greater knowledge
Compassion
Understanding
Respect
Charity
And excellence in all virtues.

Truth strengthens me
Guides me
Leads me
Protects me
Keeps me.
I am constant when I dwell in Your truth.
I am unafraid of what I may face.
I am vigilant and poised for speaking
The witness of who You are in truth.

Your Word is truth – may the truth of Your Word ring in the ears of all who are perishing and bring many perishing people to salvation in Jesus name we pray,

Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2019/09/08/life-with-christ-shouldnt-be-shallow/

5 Truths about God’s Design for Sex in Marriage

by Bonny

Living in an over-sexualized culture, we hear messages about sex, wrong messages.   These messages become more a part of us than God’s truth because we hear them repetitively and churches are scared to address sexuality.

For too long, I believed the world’s message about sex.   That it’s a superficial, feel-good avenue to self-satisfaction.   Wrong, partly.   God did design sex to feel good!

But, there is more than that.   He designed it for profound spiritual, physical, and emotional connection.   It is just a shadow of things to come.

God’s design of sex is too amazing to keep silent about.

Here are five truths about God’s design of sex in marriage.

God designed sex to be bonding.

Not only spiritually bonding, but emotionally and physically.   When the two become one flesh, biochemicals are released in our bodies like oxytocin and dopamine.   Oxytocin, especially, is a bonding chemical.   When I embraced this truth and started engaging in the marriage bed more, the tone of our marriage completely changed.

“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh,” Genesis 2:24 (NIV).

God designed sex for both husband and wife to experience pleasure.

It’s an equal opportunity activity.   Why else would there be a clitoris?   It’s only function is for pleasure.   The Song of Solomon is full of beautiful poetic language about the pleasures of physical love for both spouses.

If one spouse struggles with the ultimate moment, there are Christian resources available to help the couple understand how to achieve mutual enjoyment.

“The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved,” Song of Solomon 7:13 (NIV).

God designed sex so that we would know yearning.

Before you were married, you yearned for your fianc.   Not only did you crave your fiance’s touch, you craved his/her presence and knowing him/her better.  Even after years of marriage, it is good to remember this yearning.  It mirrors how God desires us to yearn for him.   I believe this is one reason he frequently uses the marriage as a symbol of his relationship with us throughout the Bible.

“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?” James 4:5 (NIV).

God designed the marriage bed to be a place to show the fruit of the Spirit.

Peace, patience, love, joy, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control are the foundation of all Christian life, especially the marriage bed.   All conflict surrounding the marriage bed can be managed through employing these key traits.

My own marriage endured a long season of mismatched sex drives.   It was through these qualities and some wise communication tools that we overcame our conflict.

God designed sex as a powerful mystery.

Biblical stories of sex often confused me when I was young.   There was some nasty stuff in the old testament, the rape of Dinah, Lot and his daughters, the men of Gibeah  clammering for the male visitor, Leviticus 20.   And yet, there is the beautiful Song of Solomon.   The New Testament seemed to prefer celibacy, to be honest.   As a teenager, I couldn’t understand why I liked thinking about sex if it was disgraceful and violent.

But, as an adult, I realized the stories were teaching me that sexual intimacy is powerful and mysterious.   It’s OK not to have it all figured out, as long as you respect the power it holds to do good when it is aligned with God’s perfect design.

“For my thoughts  are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the  Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways  and my thoughts than your thoughts,” Isaiah 55:8-9.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the world’s message of cheap sex destroy the meaningful sex in your marriage.   Sex may only be a small portion of the whole of your marriage.   However, sex matters.   It especially matters if one spouse is more interested than the other.   When we ignore its power and importance in marriage, the relationship suffers.

Now, granted chronic health issues can affect sexual function and that’s a more complicated story.

https://godinterest.com/2018/03/29/5-truths-about-gods-design-for-sex-in-marriage/

Love Your Enemies

AUGUST 30, 2019 BY FRANCES ROGERS

 

“O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.”
2 Kings 6:17

The king of Syria is perplexed as to how the king of Israel is evading him and his army. When he learns that the prophet Elisha is foiling his attacks, he sends his horses, a great army, and chariots at night to surround the city of Dothan, where he plans to capture Elisha.

The next morning, when Elisha’s servant saw what was happening, he said to Elisha, “Alas, my master, what shall we do?”

Elisha is not bothered at all by the situation and answers his servant with assurance, “Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” 2 Kings 6:15-16

Elisha then prayed the prayer that revealed God’s presence and power. He said, “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.”

The Lord answered Elisha’s prayer and opened the servant’s eyes so that he saw a “mountain full of horses and chariots of fire” around them.

Elisha prayed again, but this time for the Lord to blind the army. When the Lord answered this prayer, Elisha led them to Samaria.

Again, Elisha prays – this time for their eyes to be opened. When this happens, they see that Elisha has brought them to the king of Israel, who could have killed them; but Elisha tells the king to give them food and water.

“So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.”
2 Kings 6:23

This story reminds me of three references in the New Testament. The first is of Paul’s words in Romans 12:20.

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Then the words of John come to mind, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

But, more than these, we have an example of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5 and Luke 6 to “love your enemies.” (See related article and sermon links below.)

We do not have prophets like Elisha in the world today. The prayers he prayed were for a different time. Now we have the Spirit of Christ to assure us of His love, His protection, and His wisdom. We don’t see the supernatural work of our heavenly Father with human eyes, but our eyes are opened spiritually to see and to know that He is always with us and how He works through us to respond to our enemies.

Before leaving His disciples, Jesus said to them:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

Throughout the Old and the New Testaments, God promises to be with us. Elisha’s first words to his servant are, “Fear not.” Many of the books of the Bible quote these words from the Lord. In Isaiah 41:10, KJV, we read,

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for the prayer you gave Elisha so that his servant could see your marvelous work on their behalf. Give us faith to believe, and not fear what man may do to us. Thank you for bringing us into your presence, and opening our eyes to see the King of kings – not to receive your wrath upon us, but heavenly food and drink, and eternal blessings. Keep our eyes focused on the wonders of your great salvation in and through your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And enable us to love our enemies as you  have loved us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran (Excerpt from PRAYERS That Bring the House Down)

Love Your Enemies

Reality Check List for all Husbands – Reignite your Marriage

HOW TO REKINDLE YOUR MARRIAGE

The Key to a Happy Wife:

Husbands should understand the importance of emotional intimacy in marriage. This is the key to living with a happy wife. It is a well known fact that women are emotional beings, if you’re an emotionally unavailable man, your marriage will suffers from all directions. I know that maintaining emotional intimacy requires hard work due to the fact that men are not that emotional. But restoring emotional intimacy after it is lost can be a lot tougher than working hard to preserve it along the way. As a matter of fact, this is where all divorce process begins.

Validate your Wife’s Feelings:

To your wife, being understood means having her feelings validated and accepted. I know women can get overly emotional, which makes them hard to understand. But it helps to just bite your tongue and actively listen to her. “Pretend if you have to.”  It will magically calm things down and give you some breathing space. In return, she will feel loved, valued, and safe enough to allow emotional intimacy.

Marriage is Work in Progress:

Having strong emotional bond in your marriage relationship is important and worth the effort. When you take steps in the direction of strengthening this area it demonstrates your commitment to a long, strong and happy marriage. And that helps you become a better father and man, as well as being an amazing husband. If your wife is happy, it’s guaranteed that she will always desire you.

Photo by Lubov’ Birina on unsplash

Spend Time Together:

Your wife probably has a lower priority with marital intimacy than you. If you commit to meeting her other needs and desires, things will change. When you approach her for deeper intimacy, she wants to get together with compassion, not with someone who simply shares her mailing address. If you’re not spending time having fun together in all kinds of settings, she’s going to be less motivated with being intimate with you. Commit to spending at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with her. If you have kids, wait until they are in bed.

Put Away Devices and Take Her Out:

Making time to focus on each other without the kids or other distractions is critical to maintaining the sparks in your marriage. Deep intimacy in a relationship depends on the quality of human interaction. Electronic devices has greatly interfered with human one-on-one interaction. When you spend time with your wife, consider turning them off, look each other  in the eyes when talking. It creates deeper connection. Avoid the boring marriage spells by visiting different places together.

Spending time in pursuits you enjoy together can build good memories and experiences. Consider the things you did when you were dating, the ones that made you look forward to the next time you spend together. Remember those fan activities strengthened the bond between the  two of you. They played a huge role in your decision to put a ring on her. For this reason, you need to reintroduce them back.

Spend Time Away From each Other:

Although making time for each other in important,  time away from each other is just as important. Strong marriage relationships have two interdependent partners. Each one has a professional life or social life, they come together to invest in the marriage. Too much togetherness can be a bad thing if it deprives the marriage of the energy and experiences of interdependence. Take time to engage in some good self-care as a husband and allow your wife to do the same, and then come together as a secure and trusting partners. It is absolutely healthy to spend some time with other men. Time away allows you to appreciate your spouse more.

Make Her feel Safe in your Arms:

Your wife needs a safe and secure relationship. In order for her to engage with you from her heart, mind and body, she needs assurance that you will be there for her, that you are committed to her. There’s no short cut to this, for your wife, any physical intimacy has to be in full alignment with her emotional feelings. If you repeatedly do things that make her feel insecure, she will not allow herself to be intimate with you.

If you watch pornography or stare at other women, in her presence, you are being unfaithful. You don’t need to have an affair to be an unfaithful husband. The bible makes it clear that any lust for a woman who is not your wife is adultery.
Proverbs 5:18-19, TLB. “Let your manhood be a blessing; rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her charms and tender embrace satisfy you. Let her love alone fill you with delight.”

“Thought for the Soul”

Often, couples don’t realize the signs of emotional intimacy withdrawal. One spouse may be blindsided when their partner announces that they want to leave the marriage. If emotional withdrawal can be avoided, then the worldwide divorce rate can decrease.

Original here