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Archive for the ‘Numbers’ Category

“How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Numbers 14:27 (NKJV)

 

According to MSN Lifestyle[i], here are eleven early warning signs divorced people say they should have acted on—but didn’t. (We’ll explore them in the next few days)

  1. We were drifting apart—and we didn’t care. Whether we are pursuing a career, trying to provide for our family, or taking care of the kids, whenever we devote more time to any or all of those things than we do to strengthening our marriage, our relationship will suffer. As Joseph Trout, of Norcross Georgia, speaks of his divorce, “There came a point in our relationship when I felt like my wife no longer supported me.  He adds, “I couldn’t even tell her about my day without her saying that whatever had gone wrong was probably my fault. So I basically stopped communicating with her altogether.”  Their downfall didn’t stop there but soon they stopped spending time together and became less intimate.  As he tells, “I like watching TV after work and my wife would rather surf the web.” In retrospect he says, “We should have found something to do together, but we didn’t. I wish I had gotten our disagreements out in the open and worked harder at improving our marriage.”
  2. I dumped all of my complaints on him. It is important that we express our feelings with our spouse, whether those feelings are about something they or anybody else did to us. At the same time, if all your spouse hears are your complains, it can become very burdensome.

Tiffany Lanier, of Solvang, California, recalls, “When I was first married I would call my husband three times a day to tell him I loved him or was thinking about him; it was always something sweet. But near the end of our marriage, I was overwhelmed at home and would instead call to complain: the dog threw up on the rug, the washing machine was broken, etc.” Looking back, Tiffany wishes that she had found someone else to share her frustrations with, like a friend, sister, or therapist.  She adds, “Your husband shouldn’t be the punching bag for all the other frustrations in your life.”

 

Father God, help me to not add undue burdens to my spouse.

[i] http://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/relationships/11-early-warning-signs-of-divorce-most-people-miss/ss-AAayKrG#image=1

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Family traditions

One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.’ ” Numbers 15:16 (NKJV)

As the school year begins, with all its homework, sports, and other extracurricular activities, it often becomes harder than ever for families to spend time together.  With all the busyness, it can be easy to neglect family traditions; and yet, it still feels important to foster family time.  You don’t have to think of family traditions as something big or complex; often the best and most memorable traditions had very small, simple beginnings.

Meghan Holohan compiled for TODAY[i] several tips from two experts who encourage us to “Think big, but start small.

Turn the mundane into a habit. Maybe the whole family walks the dog on the weekends. Or, every Sabbath you have a special meal, desert, or music you play.  These might seem insignificant, but doing the same task together every weekend fosters togetherness.

Set a meeting. Make brunch every Sunday for everyone in the family, or perhaps host a corn roast on Sabbath evening when all family members attend. Be sure to make the time the same each week so that everyone knows what time to gather.

Connect with family.  Make it a practice during the weekend to FaceTime or Skype with grandma and grandpa or aunts and uncles who don’t live close by. Those weekend conversations strengthen the bond between immediate and extended family.

Read out loud together. Pick a book that the entire family can read together, and make it age-appropriate. Besides the bible, there are many biography or history books, or stories from missionaries that can keep everyone’s interest.

Go with the flow. Set aside a block of time each weekend reserved for family time, and a different family member takes a turn picking the activity for the week.  If you have different age children, encouraging them to be in charge of the activity for the week helps them to be invested in it.  Remember to foster those traditions that bring your family together and set aside those that seem to have lost meaning.

Father God, helps us to develop and nurture those traditions that will bring and keep our family together.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/family-time-5-easy-ways-create-family-traditions-t39746

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Although…feelings of jealousy come over the husband and he suspects that his wife is impure. Even if she is innocent and his jealousy and suspicions are groundless…” Numbers 5:13-14 (MSG)

 

Even when you are with the most trustworthy partner, there may be times when jealousy can take over your mind and relationship. Those feelings are driving you crazy and driving you apart.  How can you get yourself out of the jaws of jealousy and combat these crazy feelings so you can find your sanity again? Leslie Becker-Phelps, from WebMD,[i] provides some ideas on how to deal with jealousy.

First, recognize that jealousy for what it is.  Recognize that your fears are coming from your own insecurity and mistrust. At the same time, acknowledge that this jealousy is making you unhappy. Once you are honest with yourself about your jealous feelings, you can start addressing them.

It is a common saying that people are “green” with jealousy because this is the color of sickness.  Only you can choose to heal that sickness rather than allow it to infect your relationship. While it may not be easy, you can start to do this by admitting your struggles to your loved one. Acknowledge your pain. And concede that the problem resides inside you, not in the actions of your partner.

Green is also the color of the vile in the digestive system, and much like vile jealousy tastes bad and burns.  If you allow those feelings to continue, your relationship, even when you want it to be good, will always have a bitter edge to it.  Don’t let this horrible beast to find a dwelling place in your relationship or in your home.

If your partner is supportive, consciously accept their love for you, and move forward.  The next time you fall in the jaws of jealousy again, redirect your thoughts to your partner’s loving words and actions.  If your partner is not supportive and you’re not able to talk as a team to address this issue between you, then the problem among you is bigger than your jealousy. You would be wise to address this breakdown in communication. If you cannot do it alone, then you might want to consider couple therapy.

 

Father God, when the ugly beast of jealousy raises its ugly head, please help to deal with it in a positive, constructive way.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/01/how-to-deal-with-jealousy.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_012415&ctr=wnl-sxr-012415_nsl-promo_2&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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These are the laws that the LORD gave Moses about husbands and wives, and about young daughters who still live at home. Numbers 30:16 (CEV)

 

In the previous two days we have spoken about attachment theory and hopefully learned two main lessons:  (1) attachment is formed early in the life of a child, (2) young children of single parents may go through a repeated pattern of attachment formation and breakup which will affect their own relationships in the future.

One of the most serious problems is that we may be creating the greatest number of individuals ever.  We may indeed be creating an entire generation who has serious difficulties in forming attachments.  The result is that we’ve been steadily dismantling the cultural and societal customs for forming clear commitments.  As Dr. Scott Stanley concludes,[i] “As we steam ahead into the future, even people who want to achieve stable and healthy marriages as the context for raising a family may have a hard time pulling this off.”

Many years ago, Ellen White wrote, “To gain a proper understanding of the marriage relation is the work of a lifetime. Those who marry enter a school from which they are never in this life to be graduated.”[ii]  It takes us, as husbands and wives, a lifetime to really learn to navigate the waters of marriage and make it safely through that journey.  If we abandon the path before life ends, we will never learn everything we need to so we can transmit those lessons on to our children.  And every time we begin a new relationship we start the learning process all over again.  All lessons from the past may help us but now necessarily with the new partner.  If that is challenging, imagine what it is like for your child!

 

Father, help us to navigate the waters of marriage together for a lifetime knowing that the lessons we learn will enrich our life and relationship and the lives of our children.

[i] http://family-studies.org/family-instability-attachment-theory/?utm_source=IFS+Update+List&utm_campaign=8378c162f6-Newsletter_5_big_list_10_31_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0b337cbdfb-8378c162f6- (accessed 12-31-14)

[ii] White, E. G. (1952). The Adventist Home. Review and Herald Publishing Association.

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Scripture: (Num 2:1-2 NKJV)  And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: {2} “Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father’s house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.

Observation: In the camp of Israel, God wanted there to be order and organization.  Three tribes were to be encamped on each of the four sides of the tabernacle.  The sight of those thousands of tents and the several millions of people in and around them must have been very impressive.   I imagine there was order and solemnity much of the time, but there must have been lighter moments when children played and chased each other, families sat together to eat, or to take a nap, or to talk about the events of the day.  This was a forty-year-long family camping experience.  Of course, there were probably also times when things got a little tense around camp and people stepped on each others’ toes. . . that all’s part of being with others.

Application: I remember one camping trip with my family in particular.  My dad had a tent made for our family (you didn’t just go to a store to buy one).  Since there were six of us children and my parents, it had to be big enough to hold all eight of us.  It was made of heavy canvass, and the support was made or regular plumbing pipes.  What this means is that the tent was very heavy, and carrying all those pipes and trying to figure out where each went made it for hard work, a lot of head, and back, aches, lots of tense moments, lots of stress when what we were looking for was rest.
But once the canvas monster was finally set up, it was pure joy.  We gathered wood for a fire so we could cook our meals.  The place where we camped was an open field that belonged to one of my dad’s customer and who granted us permission to stay over the weekend, by the river, and no one anywhere near us to disturb us. The open field was a place where cows pastured, so we needed to be careful where we stepped; at the same time, the dry remnants were thrown on the fire because we had been told they would serve as mosquito repellent.  During that weekend, it was hot some of the time (which under a canvass tent was almost unbearable), it was rainy at times, and it was cool at times, but it was most enjoyable most of the time.  I remember swimming in the crystal clear water of the river, eating freshly caught fish from the same river, sitting at night by the fire and looking up at millions of stars we couldn’t normally see from our city home.
Now, some forty years later, I still remember so much of that weekend – including having to pull my brother-in-law’s car all the way home (he and my sister were not yet married, so it was most embarrassing and humiliating for him, even though my dad didn’t say anything to make him feel so).  Those special family times make our memories and make our future.  We may not enjoy camping, but certainly there are activities we can enjoy doing together.  With my wife and daughters, we enjoy traveling to new places (we have been to 45 of the 50 states in the union and several countries outside of the US.  We treasure everyone of the memories we have collected through all those years.  So, make the time and spend the time together with your family building the memories you will carry on for a lifetime.

Prayer: Father, help us be more intentional in setting aside time to be together as families in relaxing, memorable moments.

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Boundaries Protect

Scripture: (Num 34:1-2 NKJV)  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {2} “Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance; the land of Canaan to its boundaries.

Observation: One more time, while at the borders of the Promised Land, God gives Moses and the Israelites with him clear directions for their future.  Chapter 35 deals with the cities of refuge to which anyone who might have killed somebody accidentally could go so the death of the other person would not be avenged by their relatives.  But before settling in the cities of refuge, in chapter 34 we read of the boundaries for Israel – boundaries to set the limits of their entire country as well as internal boundaries between the tribes.  These boundaries were set so Israel would know how far to go in settling in their new country, so they would not go indefinitely from conquest to conquest, but also so others would know not to trespass Israel’s borders.  At the same time, each tribe needed to know how far their territory would extend, and they were to marry among those within their own tribe as well.  These boundaries were for their knowledge, for their safety, for their protection.

Application: Psychologist have defined three types of boundaries in family systems: permeable (open, diffuse), impermeable (closed, rigid), or semipermeable (flexible, porous)

________________           __  __  __  __  __  __  __              . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Impermeable                               Semipermeable                               Permeable

If we think of a house in which there is a room, an impermeable boundary is one in which the room is completely walled off with no windows and no doors, or, if there is a door, it has been locked.  In this case, relationships are either cut off or characterized by poor communication or no communication, as well as rigidity and indifference. The individuality value prevails over the togetherness value.
A permeable boundary is just the opposite; it is one with weak boundaries. The room has insufficient walls, or perhaps walls with multiple doorways, but no doors. Passage in and out is completely unrestricted. Togetherness is all important; individuality tends to be sacrificed. Relationships are about feeling, thinking and doing everything together.
Semipermeable boundaries enable a healthy balance between togetherness and individuality. The room has some windows and a door or doors that can be opened at times and closed at other times. An individual can be free to be himself and yet fully engaged as a member of the group. Semipermeable boundaries are characterized by open communication, a healthy sense of self, and the ability to distinguish between one’s own thoughts, feelings and problems and those belonging to others.
Relationships need boundaries for their protection.  There needs to be boundaries that are appropriate to that relationship – boundaries between spouses may be more permeable than those between parents and children.  Boundaries between friends should be more impermeable than those between members of the family.  Let’s keep our boundaries clear sp everyone may be safe.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the boundaries in our lives and relationships because they are not there to divide us but rather to protect us.  May we respect others’ boundaries and thus show them the respect and love they deserve.

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A Long Journey

Scripture: (Num 33:1-2 NKJV)  These are the journeys of the children of Israel, who went out of the land of Egypt by their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron. {2} Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these are their journeys according to their starting points:

Observation: In one chapter, Moses traces the journey from Egypt to the borders of the Promised Land, recounting all the stops without necessarily talking about the events that took place at each of these with the exception of the death of Aaron.  This is not the first nor the last time Moses takes the time to remind the Israelites of all the places where they have traveled and how the Lord blessed them and protected them even during those times when the people were complaining to and about His work for them.

Application: I was born in Bucaramanga, in the South-American country of Colombia, but only lived there during my first eighteen months of my life as my family moved to the capital city of Bogotá, where we lived until my mother, younger brother, and I moved to the United States.
In the United States, our journey has taken us to live in Michigan, Maryland, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Delaware, and now here in Minnesota; we have been a sort of Adventist gypsies, going from place to place wherever God takes us.  Several years ago our daughters voiced some of their discontent because they had not grown like some many others, living in one place all their lives, and growing with the same friends all through school.  While we recognize that so much movement had its drawbacks, we also wanted them to appreciate all the opportunities we have had, so we began a list of all the places we had visited, all the things we had seen, all the fun we had enjoyed; by the time we were finished, our travel-log of sorts covered several pages.  To date, we have visited almost all the fifty states and several foreign countries; as a result of that experience, our girls realized how enjoyable our journeys had been and how much richer our lives were for having been to all those places, particularly when they thought that many of their friends from school had never left their city or county, much less the state where they had always lived.  In addition, they feel very comfortable traveling to different places, they can converse with people of various lands, and can relate to what it is like to be in one or another place because they have either lived there or visited at one time or another.  And when we count all the thousands of miles traveled, with God’s protection, it gives us one more reason to thank Him and praise Him.

Prayer: Father, thank You for all the opportunities You have given us to travel and see so many different and beautiful places and for providing us with your protection through thousands of miles.  But most of all, Father, thank You for the time we have spent together while enjoying those various trips.

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