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Archive for the ‘Ephesians’ Category

Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, Ephesians 1:5 (NKJV)

 

Several days ago we shared some ideas that Kathy Cannon, a pastor and mother of five adopted children, says you have not heard before about adoption.  She also talks about the three most important things she and her husband didn’t learn in foster/adoption classes.[i]

  1. Everything takes way longer than you want it to. It’s easy to think that the adoption process should go smoothly and quickly. The truth is that the process can be very long, tedious, and frustrating, and you will have to wait, perhaps for a long time.

While you wait, she recommends you allow yourself all the feelings, all of the questions, all of the spontaneous dates and vacations that you possibly can.  Once you have your child, your life will be changing drastically.  Even if your child is not an infant, their needs will still be higher than normal for their age bracket, and your entire focus will shift to her needs.

  1. You can’t give your child everything he’s ever wanted. Cannon comments, “for a child from the foster system, their entire life has been new places, new people and new noises. It turns out, those early vacations are often forgotten as just another chapter of transition and chaos.” Instead she recommends allowing your family to settle into this “new normal” which will give your child the ability to find his footing and see what stability really and truly means.  For instance, dinner at the table every night is more important than a room full of toys.   Rather than the latest and best of gadgets, a new family picture prominently placed on the wall is more emotionally valuable to your daughter. As Cannon explains, “after all, what your son may want most of all, is to figure out how to like this new life with you while still not losing the identity of his past, his family of origin, and the only reality he’s known. And that will take patience and time, and consistent reassurance.

While adoption can be a great challenge, it can also be a wonderful opportunity both for parents and children.

 

Father God, thank you for adopting us as your children.  May we extend the same caring love to those with no parents of their own.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/The-Three-Most-Important-Things-We-Didn-t-Learn-in-Adoption-Classes/

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Your wife’s secrets – 1

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV)

Several weeks ago we shared a list of things, from WebMD, that men wished their wives knew about them.  In a different series of slides, WebMD[i] also shared 19 secrets women wished guys knew.  They’re based on the study of healthy, happy couples and our changing gender roles.  We’ll share those during the next few days.

A Caring Guy Is a Hot Guy.  Your wife wants you to be manly, no doubt about that.  But she also appreciates your sensitive side, especially when she’s upset. In times like that, put your arm around her, hand her a tissue, and listen for her feelings without trying to fix her problem or cheer her up.  Nurturing is a powerful way to connect.

Chivalry Still Has a Place.  Many women still like men to take a traditional masculine role. This is especially true in the wooing stage of a relationship.  Your wife is perfectly capable of pulling out her own chair or opening a door, but she probably likes it when you play the gentlemanly part and do those things for her.  If you see her hesitate, maybe she’s just waiting for you to play that gentleman’s part.

Dress to Impress.  This does not mean that you follow the latest fashion fad; after all, styles come and go.  However, she likes it when you pay attention to your grooming and clothing.  Either ask her or figure out if there’s a certain look that she likes, and try to do that for her; she will like it, and you.

Guy Wears Red, Guy Gets Girl.  The folks at WebMD write: “One intriguing study found that the color red made men seem more powerful, attractive, and sexually desirable to women.”  However, evidently red doesn’t make guys appear nicer or kinder; you have to be the one to work on that.

Don’t Hide Your Flaws.  Women love a man who is thoughtful and sensitive and who recognizes that they have a flaw (for instance, a short temper, or a regularly sullen mood after work), but also loves it when he makes an effort to address it.

Father God, help me to find ways to make positive changes in my life and for my wife.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/men/ss/slideshow-secrets-women-wish-you-knew?ecd=wnl_spr_081515&ctr=wnl-spr-081515_nsl-ld-stry&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (MSG)

According to attorney Amy Desai,[i] you can get a divorce for under $10,000 per spouse in lawyer fees if you’re lucky and if both the spouses and their lawyers are reasonable and fair.   Of course, this does not include what the divorce does to your standard of living, or if you have to pay child support, or the expenses of visitation. But there are many other areas where men and women are affected by divorce. Think about these:

Life expectancies for divorced men and women are significantly lower than for married people. A Yale researcher concluded that the health consequences of divorce are so severe that being divorced and a nonsmoker is just a little less dangerous than smoking a pack a day and staying married.

Men and women both suffer a decline in mental health following divorce, but women are more greatly affected.  Some of the what many divorcees experience include depression, hostility, self-acceptance, personal growth and positive relations with others.

Fighting doesn’t always end with the divorce. Often, anger and animosity only increase when a divorce is final, and the problems aren’t solved by a second marriage either.

Divorced parents also suffer in their relationships with their children. In many cases the noncustodial parents are not able to maintain the level of involvement with their children that they had before. Sadly, the damaged relationship does not always heal when the child becomes an adult. Researchers have found that, “Nearly two-thirds of young adults from disrupted families had poor relationships with their fathers.”  A substantial minority of these young adults had poor relationships with both parents.

Just knowing these things should make people try harder to make their marriages work or at least to maintain reasonable post-divorce relationships with their children and former spouses.

Father God, heal our marriage before it is too late and both we and our children suffer irreparable damage.

[i] http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/divorce-and-infidelity/should-i-get-a-divorce/how-would-divorce-affect-me

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Back on track

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19 (NKJV)

 

All couples go through difficult times.  Often during the challenging times we tend to lose perspective on why we are together or should continue to work on our relationship.  You may even be on the verge of giving up on your relationship.  But before you give up and move out, try to look for the positive side of your relationship.  Start by asking yourself three simple questions.

 

  1. What makes us want to stay together?

While you could have given up by now, the fact is that you haven’t.  In fact, you aren’t sure that you really want to.  Think about it: why is that? What makes you want to stay together? Think long and hard about this.  Leslie Becker-Phelps, from WebMD[i], suggests that your answer might be that you love each other; or that you have so much invested in your relationship that you want to give it every realistic chance.

Some couples stop to think about how separation will cause financial difficulties, or it will be shocking and painful to their family, or the harm that they will cause their children.  They weigh in the negative results of a decision to end their relationship.  On the other hand, you can think of the positive things going on in your relationship.  You get along most of the time, you’re financial goals – like paying of your mortgage, or being debt free, or almost having enough to retire — are getting closer.  At the same time you think of all the good times you have had as a couple and as a family, and how the kids are growing up healthy and happy.

Whatever your reasons may be, talk about them together and often. Let them seep into your very being and inspire you to re-connect.  Thinking about the good things going on will result in having a positive attitude and a new desire to preserve a good thing.

 

Father God, help us to think of what is going on well and to remember all the positive things in our relationship so that a spirit of gratitude for what we have may permeate our lives.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2013/07/3-questions-to-get-your-relationship-back-on-track.html?ecd=wnl_men_080513&ctr=wnl-men-080513_hdln_3&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d(accessed 1-10-15)

 

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Learning to Juggle

With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, Ephesians 4:2 (NKJV)

 

  1. Expect to learn to juggle.

In her studies of 373 couples she followed for 24 years, Orbuch says they didn’t know, when they were first married, that life would get so busy and stressful that sometimes they’d put their relationship on the back burner. As she explains, “The more roles and responsibilities you take on, the less you can give to any one of them.”[i]

One of the biggest mistakes many couples make is taking care of the children while neglecting their relationship.  It is obvious that newborn babies and small children are very dependent on their parents for food, personal hygiene, comfort, affection, and much more.  No one would suggest parents ignore their babies or small children to spend time by themselves.  At the same time, neglecting their own relationship in order to care for the children continually will end up hurting both in the long run.

The couples she studied told Oubuch that among the things they did was that they learned to make an effort to talk about something other than their children, or work, or about what they needed to do to keep up with the household. Instead, they could reconnect, even if they felt stressed, by regularly talking about other important things, such as their personal feelings (frustration, fear, joy, etc.), goals (short-term and long-term), and to dream dreams for their future.

While children at all ages, but particularly young ones, demand a lot of attention from their parents, we need to be intentional about strengthening our relationship.

 

Father God, bless our marriage and help us to keep it healthy not only for us as a couple but for the health and well-being of our children.  A healthy marriage is the best gift and example we can give to them.

[i] Ibid.

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Taming the Tongue

Scripture: “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

 

Observation: Corrupt. Gr. sapros, “rotten,” “putrid,” “bad.” In Matt. 7:17 sapros describes a corrupt tree, and in Matt. 13:48 inedible fish that were thrown away. Foul speech is the sign of a corrupt heart, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). Profanity and obscene jests and songs, even the frivolous and insipid conversation, have no place in the Christian’s life; indeed, they are the hallmark of the unregenerate spirit.

To the use of edifying. Literally, for the “upbuilding of the need.” Compare the translation, “edifying, as fits the occasion” (RSV). While speaking does not always have to be of a somber or even serious character, it should always edify or build up, making men better than they were before they heard the words. As in v. 28 the Christian’s work was to be for the benefit of others, so here his words also are to be for the good of his fellow men. Not only indecent speech but also that which is selfish, malicious, critical, or suggestive, corrupts. Here again the apostle seems to have in the back of his mind the central theme of his epistle—unity. That which does not edify tears down, and is therefore to be discarded. Compare 1 Thess. 5:11–14. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (1028). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

 

Application: How many times have we uttered harsh or hurtful words that we have regretted later!  Oh the tongue is so hard to tame!  It seems that before we know it we can say words that we will later regret. There are many actions that we can un-do, however, we cannot put words back into our mouths. It is far too easy to speak first and think later. In so doing, however, we may end up leaving a path of destroyed relationships.

 

The ones that get the worse of our words is oftentimes our own families. It seems that we have an easier time taming our tongues when we speak to co-workers or even strangers. Why is that?  Do we let our guard down when we are at home?  Is it that it is no longer important for us to “be on our best behavior”?  Isn’t it true that all too often we hurt those who are closest to us and those that we love the most?

 

The fact of the matter is that words spoken in the home are more important than anywhere else. Afterall, consider the consequences of a failure to follow the above scriptural advice in our homes. Ponder the importance of being a positive role model to our children. Would we want them to go to school and repeat the same words that we speak in our homes?  Good communication skills is one of the most important things that we can teach our little ones. The

truth is that good communication is “caught” rather than “taught”. Children catch on to the tone of our voices, the way we handle conflict, as well as the actual words that we use.

Consider how you have communicated to your family this past week. Have your words been used to build up or to tear down?   Have they been used to encourage or to discourage?  Have they been helpful or hurtful? Perhaps we need to seek forgiveness from our family members and, with God’s help, commit to use words that reflect the Lord we serve.

 

A Prayer You May Say: Lord, put a guard on my lips. May all that I say today be acceptable in Your sight!

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Scripture:  Let the Spirit change your way of thinking Ephesians 4:23 (CEV)

 

Observation:  4:17–32 The first half of Ephesians emphasizes Christian doctrine or teaching, especially God’s creation of the church as the community of the redeemed (1:1–3:21). In the last half, Paul turns more directly to Christian behavior, giving instructions to the church in the world (4:1–6:24). He has already contrasted the lives of his readers before they became Christians with their lives after they believed (2:1–10, 11–13). In 4:17–32, he contrasts a Gentile pattern of life (which they would have followed earlier, vv. 17–19, 22), with the Christ-inspired pattern (vv. 20–21, 23–32). People who are watching believers should be able to tell that they have “learned Christ” (v. 20). Paul’s counsel suggests that this does not happen instantly but that we believers are to continue to be “taught by Him” (v. 21). [Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.) (1547–1548). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.]

 

Application:  Sometimes we have low emotional experiences in our lives which we immediately describe as depression when it may be situational sadness (for instance after the death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc.)  Depression, on the other hand, is a powerfully negative mood that interferes with your daily life. When you are depressed, you are sad, despondent, disinterested, lethargic, you feel hopeless or helpless, you may cry all the time or feel as if you absolutely cannot get out of bed in the morning.  One of the concerns is that depression affects your body as well as your mind. You may eat less or you may eat more, but less often. You may feel at night as if you are starting to come out of it, only to wake up in the morning feeling even worse.  Depression may be the result of an adversity in your life or it may seem to have just appeared on its own, or due to a change of seasons or a change of lifestyle or for no apparent reason at all.

Depression can be a life-threatening problem and may even lead a person to feel suicidal For many people suffering from depression the easy way out is through medication.  While some medication may indeed be helpful, the side effects and the addictive effect are not desirable outcomes.  Other, healthier approaches can be more beneficial in the long run.  The good news is that as serious as it may be, depression is a state of mind and body that can be changed through a combination of things such a change in nutrition and activity, intake of vitamins, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and of course the help of God.    CBT focuses on eliminating self-defeating behavior, replacing negative thinking patterns and self-talk with realistic beliefs about oneself and the world.   CBT is the only form of psychotherapy that has been scientifically proven to work better than a placebo in treating major depression.  9For more information on healthy treatment for depression visit https://www.nedleyhealthsolutions.com/?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=54)

Today’s text reminds us that with the help of the Holy Spirit we can change any thinking pattern that hurts us individually or asa couple or family.  We don’t have to defeat ourselves with negative thinking patterns but with His help we can established positive, healthy thoughts which lead to healthier behavior.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, may your holy Spirit help us change the negative thoughts that defeat us even when we have good intentions and desires, and may He plant good, positive thoughts that help us win victories every day in our lives, marriages, and families.

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