Tag Archives: care

In Search of Contentment, Pt. 2

The Apostle Paul was used of God to write down the Philippians 4:11-19 passage.  Included in this letter is part of the experience of Paul’s life.  Paul was a missionary during the early church years following the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Paul endured tremendous pressure to denounce Christ.  He was faced with criticism and intense persecution on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Ironically, Paul, previously known as Saul, was present at the execution of the first Christian martyr, Stephen in Acts 6. From that moment, Saul became a persecutor of “The Way.”  His story is found in Acts and also in his New Testament letters.  Part of his story is in our text.

As a persecuted missionary traveling the world over, Paul endures great troubles – shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, public riots, angry courtrooms, and more.

From his example we can learn about contentment.

If this is where to find contentment in the Bible, then where can I find contentment in my daily life?   Are there practical steps to take that can lead to a life of contentment?

Yes!  Here they are:

  1. Find the Sufficiency of Jesus in You. (vs. 11-12)

Jesus is all we really need for life.  Outside of the true necessities for staying alive, what do we really need to grow, thrive, and go through life?

As Paul describes himself, notice the contrasts.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

  • Abased and Abound
  • Full and Hungry
  • Abound and Suffer Need

Paul goes as far as to say that “everywhere in everything” (all things) he chose to be content.  For a man rushed upon in riots, beaten, shipwrecked, and frequently jailed, that is an amazing statement.

Abasement and Abounding.

Abase means “to depress, humiliate, or bring low.” Paul knew the pain of being pressed down by the evil people of his day.  Nearly the entire society was against his teachings and way of life.  Sure, there were converts, and the world was “turned upside down” during the time of the Apostles but 10 Roman government waves of persecution against Christianity began soon after the Resurrection of Jesus.

Beginning with Nero (whom Paul witnessed to) and ending with Diocletian, millions of Christians, over a period of two centuries, were killed in unconscionable ways.

John Fox, in Fox’s Book of Martyrs, tells the story of Nero best:  “The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that ‘he wished the ruin of all things before his death.’ Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.”  He continues:

“This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.”

With this as the back drop, Paul says Christians can be content.  Paul new what it was to be pressed against.  Every Christian who was persecuted in the first and second century learned about being abased the hard way.  With personal experience.

Abounding is the contrast to abasing.  Abounding means to “super abound, be in excess, overflow.”  In spite of the deflating pressure of persecution, Paul said he could abound.  He could still have a “good day” in the “worst of days.”  How is this possible?  It all goes back to the sufficiency of Christ.  Paul relied on Jesus alone to meet his material, physical, relational, and spiritual needs.

Full and Hungry.

Is it possible for a person to be physically hungry and yet content?  Many people get angry when they are hungry.  There is a new term for this: “Hangry!”  I have been hangry at times.  How about you? There were times when Paul, with limited resources and not much food, was hungry yet content with all the rest that God gave to him.

Abound and Suffer Need.

A man with one set of clothes, a single coat he left in prison one time, some parchments to write on, and a few books does not have that much.  In spite of the “lack of things,” Paul saw himself as having everything he needed for life.

Have you ever complained about not having “enough?”  Not enough money.  Not enough room.  Not enough things to do. Not enough. I have said things like that.  Be honest.  Did you say something to that effect in the last 7 days?

 

Please continue in the next posting, PART 3…

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I am Weak, But God is Strong

I Am Weak, But God is Strong

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  2 Corinthians 12:10

Blood was everywhere. More than I had ever seen. Ever. We changed the bed sheets dozens of times in just a few hours in the Emergency Room.  After calling for me to help her while at the house, we immediately drove to the hospital on a Saturday.  Natalie received good care and the prayers of many people were answered and the bleeding stopped sometime one Monday after several examinations, and medical procedures. Thankfully, Natalie is now back home, though she is not yet “back to normal.”  Even with the blood counts looking good, her stamina, energy, and endurance are nil at this point.  Walking to the kitchen in our beautiful but modest home takes a lot of effort. A lot.  She has left the house only 2 times in the last 3 weeks, and that was with my assistance (to walk from and to car) to see the doctor.  Tears? Yes. Crying? Yes. Pain? Yes. Sorrow? Disappointment? Yes. Unimaginable? Yes. Life-changing? Yes. Praying? Yes.

I was certainly blessed to not leave her bedside for about 5 days.  It is an honor to care for your spouse, even when they cannot care for themselves.  Our church family has been so kind with food, care, and understanding when I could not be in other places.  Thank you! We have a caring church.

After several years of pain, headaches, tiredness and more, and after many different types of doctors and medicine, we discovered earlier this year that she has a plethora of medical issues that have accumulated over time.  We are treating, not only the symptoms, but also the source of the constant pain and tiredness.  And then suddenly the ER episode mentioned above.

I am sharing all this (not for pity or an emotional response but) for a present-day description of the verse Paul wrote: “When I am weak, then am I strong.”  It is in our weakness that we see the incredible power and might of God.  It is in those moments of physical and emotional desperation that we see God in more close and intimate ways.  It is when we cannot move, walk, talk, or when we are in constant pain that we can ether get bitter at God, or get better associated with God.  “Don’t take your abilities for granted,” Natalie put on Facebook one day – “they could be gone in a moment.”

If us humans never had problems, why would we need the Lord?  If you and I  could handle life on our own, what good is it that we say we have faith? In trials and difficulties, we can be like Job.  He kept looking to the promises of God.  He knew “My redeemer liveth.” We could be like Paul, who continued to serve the Lord in spite of his physical limitations.   Paul was not happy for the pain and suffering, but for the lessons learned and the close proximity of the Lord in those moments of physical need.

With every ability or inability – we can find ways to serve God. For our friends experiencing inability to move, stand, walk, put your own cloths on, wash yourself, or even feed yourself – be encouraged, you can still pray.  You can still read the Bible, have it read to you, or recite scriptures you have memorized.  God still has a plan for your life and a perfect will for the rest of your family.

When you are at your weakest – you can see God at His strongest! In your weakness you can become stronger – in the Lord.  I am not strong in myself anymore. I am strong in God. He is my strength.

Are you in a similar situation? Hang in there.  Keep looking to Jesus.  Find comfort in the Word.  In the more intense moments at the ER and later the hospital room, the Holy Spirit brought to Natalie’s mind Scriptures.  In particular, she was quoting Psalm 18.  Look it up sometime.  There are many other things we learned from the Lord at the hospital and at home and are continuing to learn day by day.  Natalie is still not able to get out of the house, attend church, or do even 2/10th of all the things was doing before.  What if her energy remains low?  What if her weakness remains amplified like this?  We accept God’s will if this is the “new normal.”   God will give us the grace to accept this condition and even thrive in the midst of this.  The verse right before “When I am weak” is 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Let the “power of Christ” rest upon you – in your weakness.  We appreciate your prayers.

 

 

 

 

A Demonic Inspiration?

A Demonic Inspiration?

One 12 year old Michigan girl set herself on fire attempting the “Fire Challenge” she saw on Youtube.  She burned over half her body and will need 3 more surgeries.  She poured rubbing alcohol on herself and lit a match.  This “challenge” phenomenon on social media is a dangerous trend that appeals to many young people and teens.

Other challenges include the “Hot Water Challenge” with kids being burned with boiling water.  Participants either pour the boiling water on self, another person, or allow it to be poured on them.  An attempt to see what level of pain tolerance one has?  Perhaps. Dangerous and foolish no matter the reason why.

Kids are easily influenced for foolish things.  Be careful of Who and What you allow to influence your kids.  Avoid giving young person unmonitored access to the internet on ta phone or computer.  It could turn our dangerous for them and for you.  Have guidelines, expectations, and accountability in place.  Like 1 Corinthians 15:33 teaches, Be not deceived: evil communications (Companions) corrupt good manners.  If you want your child to turn out right, make sure you instill discernment for who influences your child as a friend, or companion. Even the internet companions hold tremendous influence.

Speaking of the Christian’s physical body, 2 Corinthians 6:16 says, And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

As Christians, our bodies and our lives belong to Jesus.  His desire is that we care for our bodies.  We are the temple of the living God and as such, our bodies are to be cared for and maintained to the glory of God.

What is the deal with setting self on fire?  Here are several thoughts that may put this ridiculous activity in perspective.

  • Hell is full of fire.
  • Fire is indicative of judgment.
  • Satan wants people to go to Hell.
  • A demon possessed boy in the New Testament passage of Matthew 17:14-19 would constantly jump into a fire. Jesus rescues this boy.

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Could it be that “self-harm” is suggested by a demon?  Is it possible that the “fire challenges” are demon inspired?

While Jesus is interested in life – Satan and his demons are interested in death and dying.  When kids are tempted to play “Russian Roulette,” or get as close to drowning as possible, or have a self-induced near-death experience – are these forms of Satanic oppression or even possession?  I believe it is very possible.

God says, take care of your body and live.  Satan says, destroy your body and die.

Parents, if you find your teen participating in self-harm or similar dangerous activity, please take them to Jesus right away.  Jesus is the answer your teen is looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think You Have A Headache Today?

Think You Have A Headache Today?

I read an article this week about a surgery performed on the wrong patient! Melanie Dadourian writes: “Doctors in Nairobi have been suspended for performing brain surgery on the wrong patient. A case of mistaken identification tags caused a mix-up between two patients — one needed surgery for a blood clot on the brain, the other just nursing and non-invasive treatment for swelling after a head trauma.  It wasn’t until hours into the surgery that doctors discovered there was no blood clot, according to a report from the BBC news service.”

Wow.  The wrong surgery on the wrong person for the wrong health need is a real problem indeed.  Now both patients had a severer headache!  Perhaps your headache does not feel as bad after reading this!

Doctors tell me that most headaches are caused by a lack of hydration.  When you learned about drinking 8 or more cups of water today in school, it was good advice!  Some headaches are caused by chemical issues in the brain. Sometimes its trauma or head trauma related.  Even when the eyes do not properly process sunlight a headache could occur. Sinus issues can contribute to them.  Sometimes tumors and abnormal growths are the culprit.  Many times, stress can create headaches.

Perhaps all of us have heard someone say something to the effect that another person caused their headache!  Actually – other people cannot cause our headaches.  How we process situations (our reactions or responses) would be the cause.  The external circumstances another person brings to bear does not enter into our head and cause the headache.  How we interpret and relate to the “potentially stressful situations” makes a big difference. We could call these types of headaches – “Relational Headaches.”

Each of us have processes (ways of interpreting and evaluating data) and responses to stimuli or circumstances.  How we respond can cause more problems (headaches) or cause more peace, and tranquility.

Here are some “Heart Remedies for Relational Headaches…”

  1. Cast Your Cares to the Lord. 1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Please know that humility and releasing the burden and weight of a situation go together.  A proud person will try to fix it, carry it or resolve it on his own.  He may create a self-induced headache because he is not humble enough to trust God and accept His outcomes.  We cannot change people; but we can allow the Lord to change us.  Give your concern to God today.  All relationships are helped when we carry less guilt, grief, or weight into them.

  1. Commit Your Way to the Lord. Psalm 37:4-5 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Wanting more, wanting our way, and demanding our “rights” are good ways to acquire and sustain a headache.  When we delight in God, His Word, and His way for living, we are given more than we could ever hope for.  Because this is not always tangible and physical it is often overlooked.  The Lord can bring to pass any hope, dream, or aspiration that He places in your heart.  Our part in this is to “delight in Him.”  When we commit all our way to God we find the satisfaction in life that God has promised to us.

  1. Confess Your Need for the Lord. Colossians 1:18 And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  And Colossians 2:10 And ye (Christians) are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

One preacher at church recently quoted a missionary and said: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”  I like the statement.  It seems most Christians do the attempting but do not do the expecting.  When we assume leadership, authority, or expectations that God did not give to us, we are sure to create our own headaches or even give cause for contributing to a headache in other people.

We need God.  The local church is His church.  Jesus is the Head.  When we try take leadership instead of servanthood, we err.  We are complete in Jesus.  When we serve, allowing the Lord to do the thinking, planning, directing, and overseeing, we lesson the likelihood of relational headaches that would otherwise occur.  God may or may not use us, or other people to fulfill His plan.  Whether at home, church, or in the community, when we follow the leadership of Christ – is helps us!

If you have a headache today – it could be worse.  You could be contributing to a relational headache that the Lord never intended for you to have.  May these 3 simple truths be a help to you today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Ways to Love Your Spouse

8 Ways to Love Your Spouse

I like the Reese hearts and the Russel Stover Chocolates.  My wife likes the chocolates and the red roses too.  Each Valentines day we are all reminded about the special relationships many of us are called by God to enjoy – marriage.  A happy and healthy marriage is possible!

If you and your spouse are having issues, do not wait to get help.  Please call me or another Christian counselor today.  Statistically I read some time ago that couples about to divorce wait 6 years too late to get counseling help.  Good news – your marriage perspective can change overnight with a little positive encouragement from a Christian counselor.

For today’s devotional, here are 8 Bible passages that when applied, can demonstrate love towards your spouse.

  1. Stay physically and emotionally faithful to your spouse alone.  This was declared on your wedding day.  Proverbs 5:15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
  2. Celebrate spiritual, financial, educational, and relational victories. Throw a party for two, go out for coffee, or make a special meal. Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
  3. Be Happy. Happiness is not conditional on circumstances but on the attitude. Happiness is a choice.  Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
  4. Blend everything you do and have together. Feelings, faith, friends, finances, etc. All these things should be combined. Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
  5. Choose to make the spiritually right decision. One of you is probably more spiritual than the other.  While the man should lovingly serve with Biblical leadership in the home, it is not always the case. Choose to have a positive, edifying spirit that will build up the other in the things of God. 1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
  6. Modify expectations while not letting any disappointments change you. He made a mess.  She was not ready for intimacy.  Don’t let circumstances become sources of bitterness.  Colossians 3:18-19 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
  7. Understand each other. Know how the other thinks. Know the likes and dislikes.  This is something of a challenge!  1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
  8. Value and treasure the person God gave to you. God gave you a special gift to have as a companion in life.  While some people are called to “singleness” the Lord gave you a “help meet.”  Treasure this gift with all of your heart.  Proverb 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.