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Archive for the ‘2 Corinthians’ Category

A dictionary defines ability as, “possession of the means or skill to do something.”[1]

 

If you have a specific talent or if you are proficient in something specific, it means that you have the ability to do such things. Perhaps your ability in the family is to cook well. You provide nutritious meals, and you enjoy doing it.

 

Or perhaps you are a handy person, you enjoy fixing things. So, you buy a house and fix and update everything to suit the needs of your family.

 

Your individual abilities contribute to the health and well-being of the entire family. Hoarding selfishly your abilities, hurts you, and your family. Paul said about the church members in Macedonia that, “according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,” 2 Corinthians 8:3 (NKJV) These people gave not just what they could, but went beyond that, in order to help their brothers and sisters in Corinth.

 

Be generous with your Ability to help and benefit your family.

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For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 2 Corinthians 5:13 (NKJV)

Since media or screen addiction is becoming a serious issue with children around the world, the recommendation coming from the experts is that older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies, interacting with other people, and using their imaginations in free play.

We don’t need to recite all the well-documented findings about the effect of screen time on children behaviors.  We do wish to mention a couple of the most recent ones.  Jane Brody, of The New York Times,[i] writes that “teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers.”

At the same time, she adds, “Schoolwork can suffer when media time infringes on reading and studying. And the sedentary nature of most electronic involvement — along with televised ads for high-calorie fare — can foster the unhealthy weights already epidemic among the nation’s youth.”

Children who are heavy users of electronics may become adept at multitasking, but they can lose the ability to focus on what is most important, which is a critical trait to the deep thought and problem solving needed for many jobs and other endeavors later in life.

Kids who play games on their phones on the way to school will be quiet, but what kids really need is time to communicate with others, to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with others. Technology is a poor substitute for personal interaction.  And now texting has replaced face-to-face communication often leading to loneliness and in depression.  Children can also develop pain in their fingers and wrists, narrowed blood vessels in their eyes, and neck and back pain from being slumped over their devices.

Father God, help me to guide my children to a healthier use of modern technology so that it does not cause them harm or danger.

[i] http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/screen-addiction-is-taking-a-toll-on-children/?_r=0

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We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. 2 Corinthians 4:8 (CEV)

Jeannette Moninger, from WebMD,[i] finishes her list of stress-relieving tips that will help us zap stress in less than 15 minutes.

  1. Crank Up the Tunes. Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds such as the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping, and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the piece. You also can blow off steam by moving to more upbeat tunes or singing at the top of your lungs. . . preferably in the shower or a place where no one else can hear you.
  2. Get Moving. All forms of exercise, including walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
  3. Be Grateful. Keep a gratitude journal or several (one by your bed, one in your iPad/iPhone, and one at work) to help you remember all the things that are good in your life. Use these journals to savor good experiences like a child’s smile, a sunshine-filled day, and good health. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments like mastering a new task at work or a new hobby.  When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.  You can also make a photo album on your device of pictures that bring you joy – your children smiling and having a good time, a vacation spot you visited, your favorite landscapes, etc.

I love these words:  “I have evidence–the very best–that God loves you. He will not thrust you from Him in your weakness, for He loves you. Do not worry yourself out of the arms of Jesus, but just repose in restful quietude in His love. His grace will be all-sufficient for you when heart and flesh shall fail. He will give you His peace and His grace. Gather to your soul God’s promises, for Jesus is your constant, unfailing friend.”[ii]

Father God, help me to rest in your arms or love and mercy always.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot?ecd=wnl_emw_052015&ctr=wnl-emw-052015_nsl-promo_5&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] White, E.G.  Manuscrip Releases, vol 16, No. 243

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For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (KJV)

Leilani Squires,[i] shares a few more ideas for parents as they help their children know how to use media in a safer, more appropriate ways than sexting.

Learn:  It’s important to keep up with modern technology.  It may be challenging, but it is worth the time investment.  Stay updated on the technical devices your teen uses, and on the media outlets available.  It is not so that you can “catch” them doing something wrong.  Instead, think of the conversation you can have with them talking about those things that are of interest to them.  And think about how you can help them stay out of danger zones and behaviors.

Teach Tech Responsibility :  As Squires writes, “Teens need to learn responsible behavior regarding technology as anything sent through cell phone, email, or posted online can be saved, shared, and viewed possibly by family, friends, enemies, strangers, teachers and future employers.”  Decide together on rules for electronic devices, be consistent as your enforce the consequences for breaking those rules.  If necessary, limit your teen’s cell phone capabilities so they’re not allowed texting or sending or receiving.

Act:  While your kids may not tell you this, or may tell you to stay out of their lives, teens really want their parents involved.  Consider talking with other teens and parents, teachers and youth group leaders about what you’ve learned, about what to do together to help your kids, and what everyone should do if anyone learns about inappropriate behavior. Do this before something happens.

Prevention is always the best course to take.  Talking to your children, educating them as to the problems and dangers with technology, and helping them to make wise decisions for themselves and with others will be one of the best investments you will make in their life and future.

Father God, give us wisdom to know how to guide our children to make wise decisions and to be careful with their actions and words and with the use of modern technology.

[i] http://singles.ag.org/singleparents/parentalissues/?targetBay=87e62f4b-fc8a-416e-8971-b6fd3469c2bd&ModID=2&Process=DisplayArticle&RSS_RSSContentID=22861&RSS_OriginatingChannelID=1255&RSS_OriginatingRSSFeedID=4963&RSS_Source=

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Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners?  2 Corinthians 6:14 (GW)

Our faith is often central to our identity and how we approach the most important aspects of our life.  Psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps[i] writes that it’s normal to overlook some differences when first dating someone. But, sooner or later, one issue that you would be wise to address head on is a difference of religion or faith.  So, if your relationship is headed toward serious commitment, you need to consider the implications of your differences in this area and take the time to think and talk about the following possible issues that might arise:

Values: How are they different? For instance, what is your view on abstinence before marriage? Do you believe that accepting Jesus Christ as your savior is the only path to salvation?  What does that mean to your relationship is the other person is not a Christian?

Family of origin:  If your family is not happy with you marrying outside your religion, are you prepared to bring this conflict into your family of origin?  Are you ready to cope with conflicts that will very likely emerge.

Raising Children: The first decision is whether to have or not have children, how many, and how soon. What are your beliefs about birth control and abortion.  How will you raise your children?  According to your faith or your future spouse’s?  Neither?  None?

Everyday life: Some questions to consider are: How important is it for you to pray, have family worship, and attend church together? Do you want to center your social life around your religion? If so, how will that work?  Will your partner want to display symbols of their faith in your house? If so, what will those be and how comfortable are you with them?  Will you celebrate religious holy days?  Which ones?  And how?

Communication and respect are important to all relationships, but they are tested more in interfaith couples. Those differences may not seem that important now, but  they will have serious implications later.

Father God, help me to take these steps very carefully and seriously knowing they will affect my life but also my spouse and children.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/03/what-if-my-partner-doesnt-share-my-faith.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_040415&ctr=wnl-sxr-040415_nsl-promo_3&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. 2 Corinthians 11:6 (NKJV)

As singles get older, often they begin to experience anxiety over their future which at times leads them to ignore warning signs from the people they may be seeing as potential life partners.  Marianne Wait[i], who writes for WebMB, suggests you make a list of the things that you would consider deal-breakers, things that should cause you to end a relationship before it becomes more serious. Bethany Marshall, PhD, PsyD, author of Deal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away, explains, “When you’re with that person at the beginning and something strikes you as odd or bizarre, and it sticks with you, it makes you uncomfortable but you can’t really wrap meaning around it, that’s your red flag.”

Here are some early signs to watch for.  Make a mental note (maybe even write it down) if the person you are interested in:

Shows up more than a little late. This can be a sign of anxiety, trouble tracking time, or simple disrespect; Is this something you can deal with?

Trash-talks an ex. It can take time to heal from a break-up, but if your date is focusing on the ex, how can they focus on you? Are they ready to move on? And if they can devalue one person they had a relationship with, what’s to keep them from doing the same with you?

Grooms too much, or not enough. Over-grooming could indicate a person who is insecure and has a puffed-up sense of self, while under-grooming could signal depression or other problems.

Sends the food back. Once may be normal, but if they do it often it could be a sign of a person who feels they have a right to special treatment. Maybe no one can please the person — including you.

If you notice some of these sings early in a relationship it may simply be normal anxiety.  But don’t ignore them if they continue as they may be a sign of something deeper.

Father God, help me to discern carefully and to make wise decisions as they will determine my future happiness and success in life or a lot of disappointment and pain.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/dating-deal-breakers?ecd=wnl_sxr_021415&ctr=wnl-sxr-021415_nsl-ld-stry&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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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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A Gradual Change

Scripture: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

 

Observation:  Are changed. Literally, “are being changed.” The plan of redemption aims to restore the image of God in man (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2), a transformation that comes about by contemplating Christ (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 4:19). The contemplation of the image of Christ acts upon the moral and spiritual nature as the presence of God did upon the face of Moses. The humblest Christian who constantly looks to Christ as his Redeemer will reflect in his own life something of the glory of Christ. If he faithfully continues to do so, he will go on “from glory to glory” in his personal Christian experience (see 2 Peter 1:5–7).

From glory to glory. This transformation is progressive. It advances from one stage of glory to another. Our spiritual assimilation of Christ comes through His glory and results in a reflection of glory like unto His. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (851). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application:  We all probably have noticed a couple who’s been married for many years and who look so much alike.  Even scientists have concluded that indeed people begin to resemble the person to whom they are married for a long time.  Whether that is true, or just our impression, I’m not quite sure, but even if people don’t look alike, they surely act alike, talk alike, and think alike.  It’s as if being married to a person for so many years changes us to the point that we adopt many of their mannerisms, words, and ideas.

That’s what happened to Jesus’ disciples, after spending just a little over three years with Him.  People could recognize that peter had changed and even spoke like Jesus.  That’s why it is important for us to also spend time with Jesus, so that we can be changed daily to resemble Him more each day.

Here’s where this idea becomes more important.  Instead of trying to change our spouse so that they can be what we would like them to be, or become the person we feel they should become, we should try to emulate Jesus and be the person He wants us to be.  At the same time, instead of trying to change our spouse, why not let Jesus change them. . . He knows best.  The interesting thing is that when we both allow Jesus to change us, individually, not only do we resemble Him more but we’re also drawn closer to each other; both are the best outcomes we could wish for.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, change me from within that I may resemble your Son, especially to my spouse.

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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:  I hear often, “I wish things were different,”  “I’d like it if. . .”  The desire to see changes in one’s relationship is good, but it must be followed with a willingness to do what it takes to make it happen.

I’d like to have more education must be followed by looking for the school where your program of study is offered, filling out the applications necessary, and after enrolling doing all the homework and studying for the tests in order to receive the grades necessary to pass the class and eventually be granted the degree one is pursuing.

I wish I had a better job must be followed with looking for other possibilities, getting the training and experience necessary to apply for another job, preparing your resume, making the proper contacts, showing up for your interviews, and pursuing that goal until you are successful in getting the job you have a passion for.

It is no different in your marriage.  I wish my marriage were better must be followed with a willingness to make personal changes, getting professional counseling, implementing new ideas and approaches, reading and learning, communicating, and doing things that are proper and necessary to achieve the end results of a better relationship.  The desire must be followed by the willingness and made possible by actual actions.  We may wish for a better relationship, as long as there are no changes required in us, as long as our spouse makes the changes we think they need or should make, or as long as there’s no great effort on our part, and the result will likely not be what we had wished for.   Good outcomes often require a willingness and the steps to follow that willingness into action.

Take the words of our text today and make them part of your life and marriage: “finish what you began to do. Then your willingness will be matched by what you accomplish.”

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, plant in our hearts not only the desire to make things better in our marriage, but help that seed of desire sprout into a willingness to do all we can to see that desire bloom into positive changes in our relationship.

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Change Is Good!

Scripture:  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

 

Observation:  Are changed. Literally, “are being changed.” The plan of redemption aims to restore the image of God in man (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2), a transformation that comes about by contemplating Christ (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 4:19). The contemplation of the image of Christ acts upon the moral and spiritual nature as the presence of God did upon the face of Moses. The humblest Christian who constantly looks to Christ as his Redeemer will reflect in his own life something of the glory of Christ. If he faithfully continues to do so, he will go on “from glory to glory” in his personal Christian experience (see 2 Peter 1:5–7).

From glory to glory. This transformation is progressive. It advances from one stage of glory to another. Our spiritual assimilation of Christ comes through His glory and results in a reflection of glory like unto His.

As by the Spirit of the Lord. Literally, “as from the Lord, [the] Spirit.” The spiritual transformation that proceeds from Christ takes place only through the operation of the Holy Spirit, who, having access to the heart, renews, hallows, and glorifies the nature and makes it over into the likeness of Christ’s perfect life. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (851). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application:  I’ve heard people say that when a man marries a woman, he thinks, “She’s the one I’ve been waiting for. She’ll never change.” – and she always does.   At the same time a woman looks at her man, and thinks, “He just needs a little work; after we’re married, I’ll help him change” – and he never does.

In reality both married men and women will change as time goes on.  We have learned from biology that every seven years we have totally replaced all the cells in our bodies with new ones.  At the same time, our ideas, politics, interests also evolve over the years.  Social researchers tell us that personality traits such as introversion and extroversion remain fairly constant throughout our adult lives, but even then we may with time move closer to the middle of these two.   Here’s where some conflict in marriage takes place when we make some changes in our personal life but at different rates one from the other.  Somehow we hope that our spouses will change for the better.  We want them to become more patient, that they will stop unhealthy habits, that they will work less and spend more time with the family, or that they will work more – inside and outside the house, that hey will talk more, or that they will talk less, that they will go to church more, etc.  The reality is that all of us are a work in progress.

While we may want to encourage some changes in our spouse’s behavior or attitudes, habits and practices, nagging, cajoling, and arguing will get us nowhere and can actually create more problems and make us even more miserable.

Successful people recognize that the only person you can change is yourself, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself; you may enlist your spouse as your partner in self-change.  When you are willing, and ready, to change some behavior, tell your spouses about your plan to change and enlist their support.  Your request for help could be the energy for marital growth you need to make the changes you desire.  Your spouse, no matter what personal faults or issues he/she may have, will appreciate your efforts; in reality, they’ve been hoping we would anyway!

What if your spouse doesn’t want to change?  This is where the most powerful tool of marital change comes into play if you are going to have a healthy marriage — Acceptance.  When spouses show each other love and acceptance they respond more quickly to each other’s changes.  Be ready to support any effort your partner makes towards change, no matter how tentative or incomplete that effort is.  If he or she discloses a desire to change, be ready to help instead of hindering the process.  It may be that either one or both of you need professional help, but your role as helpmate is indispensable. You are the one who loves your spouse the most.  Become your spouse’s greatest cheerleader!

 

A Prayer You May Say:   Father God, we long to be changed unto the image of Jesus Christ because as we change we may also become better spouses.  Help us in that process, and help us to be more accepting of each other and more supportive of one another.

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