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Posts Tagged ‘God’

Whose gods do you walk with?

Scripture: For all people walk each in the name of his god, But we will walk in the name of the LORD our God Forever and ever. Micah 4:5 (NKJV)

Observation: The Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible provides this explanation of vs. 5: For—rather, Though it be that all people walk after their several gods, yet we (the Jews in the dispersion) will walk in the name of the Lord. . . The resolution of the exile Jews is: As Jehovah gives us hope of so glorious a restoration, notwithstanding the overthrow of our temple and nation, we must in confident reliance on His promise persevere in the true worship of Him, however the nations around, our superiors now in strength and numbers, walk after their gods [Rosenmuller]. As the Jews were thoroughly weaned from idols by the Babylonian captivity, so they shall be completely cured of unbelief by their present long dispersion (Zec 10:8–12). (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)

Application: Today’s gods are abundant. Work, money, beauty, entertainment, possessions, power, prestige, toys, knowledge, titles, etc. Entire families compete with other families trying to keep up with them, looking for the happiness they see in others. . . without realizing that often “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Many parents sacrifice quality family, or one-on-one time together by enrolling their children in every extra-curricular activity they can think of – soccer, karate, music lessons (not just one but several instruments), dance, theater, cheerleading, beauty contests, etc. Children, not to say their parents, are often exhausted at the end of each day, and as the weekend approaches, instead of rest and worship time what awaits them is another long list of activities (camping, games, parties, etc.). The frantic pace of their lives, the lack of down time, the absence of family time is driving them farther apart and leaving them depleted of energy for each other, much less for their time with God.
Parents need to set their priorities straight by establishing first a personal time and connection with God, then a couple’s time with each other and with God, and finally family time together and with God. As Eugene Petereson paraphrases this text in The Message: “Meanwhile, all the other people live however they wish, picking and choosing their gods. But we live honoring GOD, and we’re loyal to our God forever and ever. Micah 4:5 (MSG).

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, Help us to maintain a personal daily connection with You, as well as couple and family time with each other and with You. Bless us as the gods of this world call for our attention away from You.

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In God’s gates

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

A new study finds that faith or religion can do more to provide “sustained happiness” than other types of social activities, like taking a class, volunteering for charity, or even playing sports.  Writing for TODAY, Eun Kyung Kim[i] explains that “Going to church, mosque or synagogue regularly often provides a more reliable boost in mental welfare than belonging to an active group like a book club, political organization or a sports team.”

According to researcher Mauricio Avendano of the London School of Economics (LSE) and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. “The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life.”  American psychologist Jennifer Harstein added that religion tends to have longer lasting power than other types of activities for many people.  Religion has permanence in our life.  As she said, “Our religious affiliation is something that’s longer term. You can go, you can leave, it’s always there.  It’s sustained, like the happiness, whereas a sports group ends. It might be seasonal. Or a volunteer opportunity might end.”

While sports, politics, or hobbies can play an important role in our lives, religion tends to reach a deeper level for us.  As Harstein explained, “We know that spirituality is something that really helps people feel like they find that higher power, they find that center, that groundedness”

The study from LSE study also found that religion also helped ease symptoms of depression and help the sick cope better with their illness. One of the reasons this is so is because houses of worship often help lessen burdens for people.  When we go to church we get to present our burdens to God, and share them with people who care about us and who pray, support, and encourage us.  That gives us a powerful boost even in the most discouraging of circumstances.  This is something that social clubs, sports, or politics can’t ever do for us.

Father God, may I be blessed as I enter within your gates weekly, and may I also be a helper to those that come to your courts for help.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/study-religion-faith-can-help-provide-sustained-happiness-t39036

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Trust more with age

In the LORD I put my trust; How can you say to my soul.  Psalm 11:1 (NKJV)

According to Robert Preidt,[i] from WebMD, research shows that trust increases as people get older and, moreover, that people who trust more are also more likely to experience increases in happiness over time.  It also appears that this trust is not limited to one generation; for millennials, generation X, and baby boomers alike, levels of trust increase as people get older.

The authors of this research comment that older people are more likely to look at the bright side of things.  As we age, they say, “we may be more likely to see the best in other people and forgive the little letdowns that got us so wary when we were younger.”

There is a negative side to this rise in trust among older people which puts them at higher risk for scams and fraud.  At the same time, the researchers didn’t find any evidence that those negatives detract from the benefits of being more trusting. The positive link between trust and well-being was consistent across a lifetime, the study authors said, suggesting that trust is not usually a liability in old age.

In looking back at her own life, Ellen White wrote: “I was very young when I began to serve the Lord. I am now eighty-five years old…and the Lord has never forsaken me. Always he has been my helper, as he will be yours if you will trust in him. It is because I so greatly desire to work for the salvation of souls that I do not give up to infirmities. I am determined that as long as God permits me to live, I will proclaim the message of warning to the world. I want my voice to reach many more before I shall give up my labors. I expect to have trials, but I do not dread them. The Lord knows what I can bear, and he will give me strength to endure. He will sustain me in my weakness, enabling me to follow on, and to know that his going forth is prepared as the morning.”[ii]

It is our privilege to learn to trust God from the time we are young and until we grow older, and to transmit that trust to all around us.

Father God, people, things, and institutions pass away, but you are forever.  Help me to trust more every day in you while I’m young and even as I grow old.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/news/20150327/people-may-grow-more-trusting-with-age-study-finds?ecd=wnl_men_040115&ctr=wnl-men-040115_nsl-promo_4&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] Youth Instructor, June 9, 1914

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Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

Resilience is the ability to withstand stress, obstacles, and catastrophe. Psychologists have long recognized the capabilities of humans to adapt and overcome risk and adversity.  At the same time, being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain. Everyone experience grief, sadness, and a range of other emotions after adversity and loss. The path to resilience lies in working through the emotions and effects of stress and painful events.

Resilience is also not something that you’re either born with or not but rather it develops as people grow up and learn to manage their changing situations in life.  Resilience also comes from supportive relationships with parents, peers and others, as well as cultural and spiritual beliefs and traditions that help people cope with the inevitable bumps in life.  Yesterday we looked at 5 of the 10 things Jen Uscher[i] suggests you do to help you be more resilient.  Here are the other five:

  1. Have a Sense of Purpose. Do things that bring meaning to your life. It could be spending time with your family, but also volunteering or other work for a cause can also make you feel stronger. When you help others you are also helping yourself.
  2. Learn Healthy Habits. You’ll manage stressful times better if you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, take time to rest, drink plenty of water, get fresh air and sunshine.
  3. Believe in Yourself.  Take pride in your abilities and what you’ve done. Recognize your personal strengths.
  4. Keep Laughing.  Hold on to your sense of humor even when times are tough.  Laughter relieves stress and helps you keep things in check.
  5. Be Optimistic.A positive, hopeful outlook will make you much more resilient. Remember that many of the problems you’ll face in life are temporary, and that you have overcome setbacks in the past.

We all will experience bumps along the journey of life.  Those bumps may trip us and make us fall, but they will also strengthen us along the way.

Father God, Help us to be more resilient and be overcomers in life.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/overcome-obstacles-resilience

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For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Proverbs 24:16 (NKJV)

Some people seem to be born with the ability to overcome obstacles and setbacks with relative ease. It’s a trait that experts call resilience.  People with resilience have a greater sense of control over their lives which makes them more willing to take risks.  In addition, because of their optimistic outlook, they are more likely to develop and maintain positive relationships with others.  So, how do you make yourself more resilient? Jen Uscher[i] suggests 10 things to focus on:

  1. Stay Flexible. Resilient people expect to face challenges at some point in their lives, and are able to adjust their goals and find ways to adapt.
  2. Learn Lessons. Even when you have a negative experience, don’t focus on who’s to blame; focus on the positive lessons you can learn from it. Stop asking “Why me?” and feeling like a victim. Ask yourself what you could do differently next time to have a better result.
  3. Take Action. Think about what you can do to improve your situation, and then do it. Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by negative thoughts; instead, work on solving the problem. Perhaps making a list of possible options would be a good start.
  4. Stay Connected. It is important to nurture your relationships with friends and family. When you’re going through a hard time, don’t withdraw from other people; instead, accept help from those who care about you. Resilient people have at least one or two people in their lives they can turn to for support.
  5. Release Tension. Make sure you have outlets to express your emotions and let go of tension. For instance, you could write in a journal, draw, pray, go for long walks, or talk with a friend or counselor.

Here’s a great promise to take to heart, “Those who have a humble, trusting, contrite heart, God accepts and hears their prayer; and when God helps, all obstacles will be overcome.”[ii]

Father God, helps us to overcome the obstacles in our path and to remember you are always there to help us.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/overcome-obstacles-resilience

[ii] White, Ellen. G. Counsels on Health. P. 367

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Masculinity today?

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature.” Genesis 1:26 (MSG)

 

David Gilmore, a professor of anthropology at Stony Brook University, Long Island, New York[i], writes that it’s important to distinguish between “manliness” and “machismo.  As he explains, the former relates to “codes of honor, and the latter to boastful, intimidating, and sometimes crueler ideologies.”

After exhaustive cross-cultural research, Gilmore concluded that manhood codes everywhere have three things in common. First, all promote an attitude of protectiveness towards dependents, such as women and children. Second, they emphasize productivity, that is, providing for the needs of the home. And third, procreating: to produce children by being sexually competent.  Though all could become problematic, in themselves, protection, provision, and procreation are not necessarily bad things.

Gilmore also explains that some of us need to defend the group, to produce economically, to provide for others in a material sense.  Historically, he adds, “males have been given these ‘heroic’ jobs, and women assigned to domestic care and childrearing.”  Men hunted and beat back enemies, thus keeping society going, and in an indirect way they were nurturers if by nurturing we mean helping people survive and flourish.

At the same time, Gilmore concludes that many male codes, although not all, also have an ugly side. Manliness, can and has been corrupted or distorted by fanatics into machismo.  Machismo appears when men follow a rigid code of aggression and domination which results in the dark side of masculinity: brutality, misogyny, insincerity, and disrespect for others.

When God created man, in His image, He wanted man to be caring, nurturing, loving, protective, self-sacrificing.  When sin entered humanity, God’s image in man became corrupted and man became self-centered, competitive, aggressive, and even abusive.  But it is God’s plan to restore in man His image, if we let Him.

 

Father God, restore in me your image so that as a man I may reflect you in a better light, especially to those closest to me.

[i] http://family-studies.org/the-future-of-manliness/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=2a9c99d99a-Newsletter_17_small_list_1_23_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-2a9c99d99a-104541745

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The riches of family

Great wealth can be a fortress, but poverty is no protection at all. Proverbs 10:15 (CEV)

 

The Nobel-prize-winning economist James Heckman noted, “the family into which a child is born plays a powerful role in determining lifetime opportunities.” For those born on the western hemisphere, it would seem that where they are born, and not just the family into which they are born, would place them at an advantage over those born elsewhere.  And yet, even in the western hemisphere, with countries advanced in technology and rich in resources, many families are financially and emotionally impoverished.

The wealth of a family, however, is not based on the amount of money they have, or the number of material possessions they have.  Their true wealth is in the health and strength of the family unit, particularly their marriage dyad.  W. Bradford Wilcox’ research[i] indicates that adolescents raised in intact, married homes are significantly more likely to succeed educationally and financially. The benefits are greatest for adolescents from less privileged homes—that is, where their mother did not have a college degree.

As Wilcox’ research shows, young men and women who hail from intact, married homes are much more likely to graduate from college. More specifically, young adults are at least 44 percent more likely to have graduated from college if they were raised by their married parents. This is important because a college degree is associated with better work opportunities, lower odds of unemployment, and a substantial wage premium.

Staying married is not just good for you and your spouse; it is best for your children and their future.

 

Dear Father, help us to keep our marriage healthy and strong so that our children will have a promising future and a positive example.

[i] http://family-studies.org/why-marriage-makes-our-children-richer/?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)

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