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Archive for the ‘John’ Category

Relationship capital – 2

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13 (NKJV)

 

Investing in relationships can be not only satisfying and enriching,  it can be life-changing.  How can we build and maintain relational capital?  Jennifer Mcafee[i] suggests four simple steps to enrich this lasting asset? How can we intentionally build an Emotional Bank Account?

  1. Be a conduit of courage every day. Your words have the power to breathe life or to destroy people. Develop the habit of intentionally encourage at least one new person each day so they can exercise educated courage. Sometimes all people need is to know that someone believes in them.  We should also encourage them to live by God’s word. “It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light and encourage others to follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought and comparing scripture with scripture.”[ii]
  2. Intentional Acts of Kindness. Be consistently intentional about exercising acts of kindness on behalf of others. In other words, choose to serve first rather than to be served.  “Nothing will so arouse a self-sacrificing zeal and broaden and strengthen the character as to engage in work for others. Many professed Christians, in seeking church relationship, think only of themselves. They wish to enjoy church fellowship and pastoral care. They become members of large and prosperous churches, and are content to do little for others. In this way they are robbing themselves of the most precious blessings. Many would be greatly benefited by sacrificing their pleasant, ease-conducing associations. They need to go where their energies will be called out in Christian work, and they can learn to bear responsibilities.”[iii]

So, focus your attention on others, send them hand-written thank you notes, encourage others each and every day, and practice intentional acts of kindness.  When you invest in others, you will receive great dividends and be rich in relationship capital.

 

Father God, may I seek to invest in and enrich others.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Four-Simple-Steps-to-Building-Relational-Capital/

[ii] White, E.G.  Darkness before Dawn, p.38

[iii] White, E.G. Christian Service, p. 179

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Caregiver burnout – 1

When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27 (NKJV)

Jesus showed His love and concern for His mother, as He was hanging from the cross, by turning her care over to John, His disciple.  Many have had to assume the care of their aging parents, even while still caring for their own children, for which they have been given the name of the “sandwich generation.”  Taking care of your loved one is rewarding.  At the same time, you’ve got to watch for signs that you’re getting stressed out.   Here are some of the symptoms that show you’re getting close to emotional overload:

  • You find yourself withdrawing from your friends and family.
  • You lose interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • You feel blue, irritable, or hopeless.
  • You notice you’re losing or gaining weight.
  • Your sleep patterns are changing.
  • You get sick more often.
  • You feel like you want to hurt yourself or the person you’re caring for.

An article in WebMD[i] provides some steps you can take to keep burnout at bay:

Talk to someone you trust. Find a friend, co-worker, a neighbor, a church pastor or church member about your feelings and frustrations.  Venting can be very helpful.  A saying in grief therapy reminds us that “Pain shared, is pain divided.”

Set reasonable goals. Accept that you might need help from others.  Don’t try to be a hero and wear yourself our because you assumed more than you can possibly handle.

Be realistic. Set reasonable expectations about your loved one’s disease, especially conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, which get more severe as time goes on.

Father, help be to care for my loved one without hurting myself.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/caregiving-insights-15/care/avoid-burnout?page=2

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Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. John 20:24 (NKJV)

Rebekah Lowin, of TODAY,[i] shares more of the eleven responses she received from parents of twin children:

  1. There’s no need to rhyme. You can give them distinct names without a need to rhyme or alliterate.
  2. If they choose to act alike, it’s OK to go with it. Simply put, let them be their own selves. You can expose them to a variety of things – reading material, clothes, activities, sports, etc.  They can each pick and choose what they may wish to do.  Chances are they will have some similarities and some differences, just like any siblings. If they want to dress alike, they can. If they pick different outfits, that’s fine, too.
  3. Let them be themselves. Celebrate the differences and allow each child to develop their own interests.
  4. Spread out their “baby’s first” and “kid’s first” moments. They don’t have to share every life landmark. Don’t show disappointment because one os not doing what the other is or because he/she is not achieving things as early or as well as the other.
  5. Have some one-on-one time with each of them separately. Even though they are very close, try to spend time with them one-on-one. Even just taking one to the store while Daddy stays home with the other kids is beneficial.
  6. Don’t stress about fostering any “twin bonds.” As a mother stated, “There is no need to encourage their bond. It is natural!”
  7. At the end of the day, they’re just like any siblings. There is an undeniable closeness and similarity between twins, but they are still two separate individuals and should be treated that way. Neither should be compared to the other so no animosity and unhealthy competitiveness develops into a dislike or even hatred for the other.  Only parents of multiple births can fully understand and appreciate the awesome responsibility, the weight of the amount of work it involves, and the multiplicity of the blessings it brings. . . and they would not trade it for anything else in the world.

Father God, give me the energy and wisdom to raise my children.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/11-ways-parents-celebrate-their-twins-individuality-t28546?cid=eml_tes_20150625

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A Daily Drink

Scripture:  Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 (NKJV)

 

Observation:  thirst again … never thirst, &c.—The contrast here is fundamental and all comprehensive. “This water” plainly means “this natural water and all satisfactions of a like earthly and perishable nature.” Coming to us from without, and reaching only the superficial parts of our nature, they are soon spent, and need to be anew supplied as much as if we had never experienced them before, while the deeper wants of our being are not reached by them at all; whereas the “water” that Christ gives—spiritual life—is struck out of the very depths of our being, making the soul not a cistern, for holding water poured into it from without, but a fountain (the word had been better so rendered, to distinguish it from the word rendered “well” in Jn 4:11), springing, gushing, bubbling up and flowing forth within us, ever fresh, ever living. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of Christ is the secret of this life with all its enduring energies and satisfactions, as is expressly said (Jn 7:37–39). “Never thirsting,” then, means simply that such souls have the supplies at home. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Jn 4:13–14). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

 

Application:  We all recognize, and science confirms it, that in order to have the best of health we need to work at maintaining healthy habits.  For instance, the Weimar Institute developed what is known as NEWSTART which is an acronym for Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest, and Trust in Divine Power.  These seven elements help us to have better health, but they don’t simply happen in our life; we must be intentional, we must work at, we must ensure that these seven are part of our life.

In the world of athletics or sports, we recognize that the best of the best have natural abilities but also work hard at getting where they are.  In the realm of work, most people who work hard accomplish many things for their company and for themselves.  In the arts, artists, musicians, and performers have to work hard, and for a long time, to perfect their skills until they are recognized and rewarded for them.

In the spiritual realm the same is true.  We recognize that spiritual growth takes place when we read the Bible, pray, and share or witness to others.  Bible study is one of the vehicles God uses to communicate His will to us, to teach about Him and His plan for our lives.  Prayer is how we communicate with Him and how develop a close relationship with Him.  Witnessing or sharing is the way we exercise our faith, the way we are strengthened and grow.

If we work hard at being good in our studies, at work, in sports or the arts, why do we think that a good marriage happens naturally and without any effort on our part?  If we must study the bible, pray, and help disciple others not just for their benefit but for our own, shouldn’t we also make the same effort in order to have a good, healthy, strong marriage?

Today’s passage reminds us that as much as we must drink water daily, and pray daily, so also we need to work daily at making and keeping our marriage healthy and strong.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, help us to make that daily effort to maintain strong, healthy relationships with You, with our spouse, with our family, and with others in our life.

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A Daily Drink

Scripture:  Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 (NKJV)

 

Observation:  thirst again … never thirst, &c.—The contrast here is fundamental and all comprehensive. “This water” plainly means “this natural water and all satisfactions of a like earthly and perishable nature.” Coming to us from without, and reaching only the superficial parts of our nature, they are soon spent, and need to be anew supplied as much as if we had never experienced them before, while the deeper wants of our being are not reached by them at all; whereas the “water” that Christ gives—spiritual life—is struck out of the very depths of our being, making the soul not a cistern, for holding water poured into it from without, but a fountain (the word had been better so rendered, to distinguish it from the word rendered “well” in Jn 4:11), springing, gushing, bubbling up and flowing forth within us, ever fresh, ever living. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of Christ is the secret of this life with all its enduring energies and satisfactions, as is expressly said (Jn 7:37–39). “Never thirsting,” then, means simply that such souls have the supplies at home. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Jn 4:13–14). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

 

Application:  Family expert William Doherty writes that couples can stay connected by being intentional about family life through daily rituals. “The natural drift of family life in contemporary America is toward slowly diminishing connection, meaning, and community . . . . Only the intentional couple has a fighting chance to maintain and increase its sense of connection and meaning over the years” [The Intentional Family (1997), p. 8].

According to Doherty, an intentional family, “is one whose members create a working plan for maintaining and building family ties, and then implement the plan as best they can . . . .The intentional family is a ritualizing family” (Ibid).  He then goes on to explain that certain rituals are repeated activities or interactions that are meaningful to a couple and that offer everyday opportunities for couple bonding.  Meals, morning and bedtime routines, and the comings and goings of spouses can all become and be part of those rituals of connection.  For example, couples might decide that breakfast is an important time for them. They might create a ritual where they prepare breakfast together and clean up together.  They might make a prayer before each meal a ritual, including holding hands and a kiss after the “amen.”  Couples will find that if they are intentional about connecting with one another, their marriage will be stronger and more satisfying.  Here are two rituals you can begin today and practice daily.

1. Be Positive — Research shows that spouses who express more positive thoughts and feelings about each other than negative ones are more satisfied with their marriages, have a lower risk of divorce, and experience less conflict in their marriage (Gottman & Levenson, 1992).  In fact, Gottman found that happy couples tend to have a ratio of 5 positives to every 1 negative.   Negative interactions include criticism and sarcasm while positive interactions include saying “I love you,” “You look nice today,” or “Thank you.”

2. Be Appreciative — For many couples, just realizing that they shouldn’t take their everyday interactions for granted makes an enormous difference in their relationship (Gottman & Silver, 1997). Spouses can show appreciation by saying thank you, giving a hug, or doing something kind. Expressing appreciation for a spouse’s daily kindnesses makes it more likely he or she will continue those efforts.

Just like daily spiritual rituals, like bible study and prayer, are important to maintain a strong relationship with God, in order to maintain a healthy marriage you must work on it daily.  As you drink water from the fountain daily you are drawn closer to Jesus, and thus closer to one another.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, help us to make a daily concerted effort to build each other up and to strengthen our marriage through those simple daily rituals which are so positive and encouraging.

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Stealing Your Life

Scripture: The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 (NLT)

Observation: The thief. See on v. 1. The shepherd constantly goes in and out among his sheep. The thief visits the flock only on rare occasions and for purely selfish motives, and ruins the flock.
Life. zōē, here used in its theological sense, equivalent to eternal life. When Adam and Eve were created they possessed zōē, but lost it when they sinned. True, their physical life was extended, but they were no longer conditionally immortal (see on Gen. 2:17). Jesus came to restore the zōē that Adam had forfeited (see on John 8:51).
More abundantly. “Life” includes the physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Physical life is regarded as abundant in a body that is full of vigor and in perfect health. Jesus’ miracles of physical healing gave an abundant physical life to those whose life forces were ebbing. But physical restoration was by no means the complete fulfillment of Jesus’ mission. Man also has intellectual and spiritual life, which must also be made alive and abundant, for “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3). Important as the physical and the intellectual aspects of a well-rounded life are, no life is fully complete unless the spiritual nature is nurtured. [The Seventh©day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 5. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: The thief of which today’s verse speaks, refers directly to the devil who is only interested in taking away from us the hope of eternal life guaranteed by the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. However, we can also look at what else the devil uses to destroy or relationships and how he does it.

1. He Steals. If we allow him to, he steals our time when we devote it to financial pursuits instead of devoting time to our personal faith or to our family. He steals our sense of safety and security when disasters strike which destroy our possessions or when illnesses touch us and threaten to end our life or the life of a loved one.

2. He kills. unless he are intentional about making or keeping our relationship strong he kills it. Many have found themselves on the halls of divorce court dumbfounded that their relationship had come to an end. It is as if it all happened with their knowledge or without them being aware it was taking place.

3. He destroys. With the marriage over, he destroys lives – our own and that of our children. He destroys the idea of marriage of an ideal estate when others see that even the marriage between believers in God did not survive. He destroys faith in God who people claim was not able to sustain our marriage together.
Fortunately our situation, as bad as it may be, is not hopeless, because Jesus came with a purpose in mind – that we may life, abundant life, satisfying life. We need Jesus to bring that satisfaction for our marriage, satisfaction for our life with our spouse that we long for. Our marriage doesn’t just have to survive; in Jesus it can thrive.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, may the life of Jesus, and His purpose for coming to earth, be what brings life abundant to our life and to our marriage.

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The Fruit of Abiding in Jesus

Scripture: Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15:4 (NKJV)

Observation: The only way to continue “clean” (pruned) and to bear fruit is to maintain vital spiritual connexion with Christ (the vine). Of itself. As source (from itself) and apart from the vine (cf. 17:17). Except it abide. [Robertson, A. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.]

Application: Being a member of a church does not guarantee that we will behave properly all the time. It does not guarantee that we will have the best of relationships. It does not guarantee that all will go well for us. However, having a close relationship with Jesus does guarantee that we will be different, act and talk differently, and that our relationships will be healthier.
Ellen White made this interesting statement: “In your business, in companionship for leisure hours, and in alliance for life, let all the associations you form be entered upon with earnest, humble prayer. You will thus show that you honor God, and God will honor you. Pray when you are fainthearted. When you are desponding, close the lips firmly to men; do not shadow the path of others; but tell everything to Jesus. Reach up your hands for help. In your weakness lay hold of infinite strength. Ask for humility, wisdom, courage, increase of faith, that you may see light in God’s light and rejoice in His love.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 513)
Those who have a close relationship with Christ, however, will not be looking for fault in their spouse. One of the evidences that Jesus abides in us is that we will look for the best in the other instead of looking for and finding things for which to criticize them. When we are close to Jesus we will desire for Him to change us and not just trying to use Him to change our spouse so they can be what we want them to be. That’s why our prayers for our spouse should simply be that God will bless them and that they will come to experience Him in their lives as He wants to be know by us.
I want us to make sure we don’t ignore of gloss over the last few words of the quote above. Here they are: “Reach up your hands for help. In your weakness lay hold of infinite strength. Ask for humility, wisdom, courage, increase of faith, that you may see light in God’s light and rejoice in His love.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 513) When we are discouraged because our relationships is not all that we wish it were, when the problems and challenges we face seem to overwhelm us, lay hold of God’s strength. As for humility, wisdom, courage, and increase of faith. Commit your relationship to God and let Him handle it in His wisdom and might.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, bless me with humility, wisdom, and courage to fight for my marriage and for my family, and help me to draw close to You so that I may receive these blessings from your hands daily.

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