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Archive for August, 2014

Single Parents Priorities

Scripture:  But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 1 Tim 5:4 NIV

 

Observation:  Early Christians cared for widows in their midst, but administering this aid proved challenging (see Acts 6:1–7). Timothy is to encourage family members to care for relatives who are widows (1 Tim. 5:4, 8, 16) and to ensure that aid is given to women who are really widows (v. 5). Those who are to be placed on the list of widows approved for aid (taken into the number, v. 9) are to meet certain qualifications. Paul advises against including women less than 60 years of age and prefers that younger women remarry (vv. 9, 14). [Dybdahl, J. L. (Ed.). (2010). Andrews Study Bible Notes (p. 1584). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.]

 

Application:  Single parents face a number of challenges.  In some cases, single parents need to deal with their own finances and the added financial responsibility of their children in another household.  Single parents have to care for their own household entirely on their own.  This could include fixing meals, all the household chores, helping with homework, attending parent-teacher meetings, taking their children to the doctor or staying home with a sick child even when that may mean losing income for the day, and so much more.

Today’s text underscores the important role that churches should play in supporting widows with children and grandchildren.  That is God’s plan and ideal.  But we know that in today’s world it probably rarely happens that way.  When single parents consider all these heavy responsibilities, they may like to have a life partner to share in all they have to do.  And yet, much research shows that one of the most difficult dynamics is that of blended families or step-parenting homes.  Not long ago a lady spoke to us to tell us of the difficult relationship between her husband and her son, who is his step-son.  In a blunt way he told her, “I didn’t marry you to become a dad.”  How sad that is!

Many single parents, wanting the support of a partner and a parent figure for their children, enter into relationships that end up being more damaging to their children.  Children are often exposed to a revolving door of step-parents, toward whom they may develop positive feelings, only to feel abandoned again when those relationships end.  Often, many children experience emotional and physical abuse at the hands of their step-parents.

I think even Paul hints that what widows (or single parents) should devote their life to raising their children first, at least until they are adults.  He urges single parents to provide for their children the type of atmosphere where they will help them in their spiritual growth, and to put their religious principles into practical use.  While it is a difficult road, remaining single is a better arrangement for single parents than bringing other people into their children’s lives, particularly if doing so disrupts the parents’ relationship with their children, and with God.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, I pray you help and encourage single parents, and may they find in You their Companion and Helper so they may devote their life to helping their children come to know You and serve You.

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Love Covers All

Scripture:  Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

 

Observation:  charity shall cover the multitude, &c.—The oldest manuscripts have “covereth.” Quoted from Pr 10:12; compare Pr 17:9. “Covereth” so as not harshly to condemn or expose faults; but forbearingly to bear the other’s burdens, forgiving and forgetting past offenses. Perhaps the additional idea is included, By prayer for them, love tries to have them covered by God; and so being the instrument of converting the sinner from his error, “covereth a (not ‘the,’ as English Version) multitude of sins”; but the former idea from Proverbs is the prominent one. It is not, as Rome teaches, “covereth” his own sins; for then the Greek middle voice would be used; and Pr 10:12; 17:9 support the Protestant view. “As God with His love covers my sins if I believe, so must I also cover the sins of my neighbor” [Luther]. Compare the conduct of Shem and Japheth to Noah (Ge 9:23), in contrast to Ham’s exposure of his father’s shame. We ought to cover others’ sins only where love itself does not require the contrary. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Pe 4:8). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

 

Application:  Shaunti Feldhahn, in her book The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages” writes about the power of a positive, loving attitude toward their relationship and toward their spouse: “Highly happy spouses choose to believe their mate cares for them—no matter what they’re seeing from their spouse or feeling at the time—and they act accordingly.”  She adds: “It turns out that positive changes in a marriage rarely depend on one difficult spouse suddenly becoming an altogether different person. Usually, the opposite is true. Change—even in challenging marriages—most often starts with one immediate, practical, and surprising choice. A choice made by just one partner. And you can make it. The day you put one surprising secret to work in your relationship—and then another—may go unnoticed by your partner. But you have launched an insurrection against mediocrity and unhappiness.”

What Mrs. Feldhahn’s research shows (which is supported by other extensive support, particularly in the area of Cognitive Behavioral Psychology), is that when we choose to love our spouse, and we show it through word and action, our thinking toward them changes, and eventually our feelings will change as well.  A very interesting TED lecture presented by Amy Cuddy, form Harvard University (http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are) also confirms that it is in our power to change our behavior and the resulting thinking and feeling.

God is not asking us to “feel” loving, but rather to “act” lovingly.  Sometimes in marriage we wait until our spouse changes and becomes more loving so before we respond to them in a loving manner, but what God says is that we are the ones that should take that first step, and when we act lovingly that love can cover all things, even those that have harmed our relationship in the past.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, help us to act lovingly even when we don’t “feel” it.  May your love permeate our lives and our relationships so that it will cover us and our past so that we may have a better future.

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Scripture:  So finish what you began to do. Then your willingness will be matched by what you accomplish 2 Corinthians 8:11 (GW)

 

Observation:  Readiness to will. A willing mind makes even a little acceptable, but to do less than one is able to do is a denial of willingness. A generous will is good in itself, but alone it is not enough. The will must be embodied in deeds, if our best desires and energies are to give solidity and strength to the character. It is good to cherish the ideal of charity, but the ideal must find practical expression. Faith and love, as ideals, never feed the hungry or clothe the naked (James 2:14–20). “Readiness,” then, is a spontaneous disposition and attitude of mind to serve God and one’s fellow men. It has no need of being urged or driven forward by the importunity of others. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (890). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application:  The Formula 1 Grand Prix has very specific rules that must be adhered to beginning 30 minutes before the race can start.  For instance, drivers are free to complete a reconnaissance lap of the circuit before taking up their grid positions. If a driver wishes to complete additional reconnaissance laps he must pass through the pit lane each time in order to bypass the grid.  The pit lane closes 15 minutes prior to the formation lap. Any drivers still in the pit lane at this time will have to start the race from there.

Ten minutes before the start the grid must be cleared except for team technical staff, race officials and drivers. With three minutes to go all cars must have their wheels fitted (any car not complying will receive a 10-second time penalty).  With a minute to go all cars must have their engines running. All personnel must then leave the grid at least 15 seconds before the green lights come on to signal the start of the formation lap.

All these rules, and several more, are there to ensure the safety of the drivers and their team, but also to ensure that the race will start correctly and fairly for all the participants.  Of course, even when everything goes just right, every race is different depending on the weather conditions, the pilots driving those powerful machines, the condition of each car, the team that changes the tires and fills the gas tank at every pit stop, and many other variables.  At the end, the team that works best will prove to be the winner.  The champion is not just the driver who crosses the line in first place, it is the entire team that helped him/her get there.

Marriage and family life is a team sport.  It is what we do together to ensure we are all winners which helps all to achieve the goals that we as a family set for ourselves.  Much research shows the advantages that married people have.  For instance, they tend to have a stronger economic status because they tend to save more and invest more toward the common goals they have.  Married people tend to enjoy better health because they are always looking after each other’s well-being.  It is not only how we begin this race we call family life that’s importance, but that we stay the course and go together to the finish line.  Keeping the end in mind will help us reach those goals together.  That’s why the Apostle Paul encourages us: So finish what you began to do. Then your willingness will be matched by what you accomplish 2 Corinthians 8:11 (GW)

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank you for allowing us to have a family around us so that together we may reach the goals which will be best for all of us.  Help us to finish the race together, and receive the trophy of eternal life from Your hand.

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