Tag Archives: happy marriage

CHALLENGES FOR EVANGELISM

6 Jul

The Summary of Sermon by Ps. Djohan Handojo at Bethany International Sevice on Sunday, 2 July 2017.

CHALLENGES FOR EVANGELISM

Pastor Djohan recently attended a conference at Wittenburg in Germany where the Reformation started by Martin Luther. 

The conference discussed how to bring the Gospel for every person and challenges in sharing it. The gospel brings freedom and transforms life. 

In sharing the gospel today, we faced several challenges :-

 1. Ideology 

People do not believe in God. 40% of the people in the Western world become atheist. They do not find God important in their lives.
2. Secularism  

People look into the world and there is less emphasis of God in the society. In South East Asia, many people still have strong faith in God. We still find Christian schools, many Church services in the malls and hotels.

3. Moral 

Today sexual disorder is considered normal and acceptable especially in the western world. The government in America and other western countries legalized the same-sex marriage. Even the schools are teaching it and educate the right to develop love and feelings beyond the gender which is gender disorientation.

(
James 1: 2-3) The world is constantly under temptation by the devil. Only the kingdom of God is unshakeable. 

We are dealing with self centeredness. People have the tendency to become self centered. Some of us struggle with sin but Jesus is waiting for us to come back when we have gone astray in the world. 
(2 Corinthians 5: 17-18) We are the new creation in Christ. It is important for us to walk in Christ every day. God will see us in a different way, God will see Christ who has redeemed us and see us as a new man or new woman in Christ.

When we are still living in the old self, the devil can attack us. When we live as a new man in Christ, the
devil cannot attack us. However, we can live a victorious life because God is in us.

(1 Corinthians 6 : 2 – 3)  For us as believers, one day, we will reign and rule with Jesus. We will judge the world and the fallen angels. 

Now, the Holy Spirit is in the world but one day the Holy Spirit will be taken away from the world. The world will turn into chaos.
(John 6:54- 55) Whoever eat of my flesh and drink of my blood remains in me, have the salvation and eternal life.

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RECRUITMENTS TO ENTER INTO THE PROMISED LAND

7 Nov

RECRUITMENTS TO ENTER INTO THE PROMISED LAND

TODAY’S INSPIRATION

The Israelites had been released by the miraculous hand of God from the Egyptian slavery that had been pressing them for 430 years. The period of intense pressure that led to the nation of Israel in an intense pressure that led to the nation of Israel in a total ignorance and these periods were known as one of the dark periods in the course of the history of the Israelites. In the disability and the severity of the pressure of Israel cried out to the Lord.

The cry of prayer of Israelites reached to the ear of God of Israel and as a defender and protector God of Israel, the Lord Himself guided and escorted the Israelites to enter the Promised Land that was promised. However, for every guidance of God may work in maximum to defend and protect then the Lord set the requirements as written in the Word:

  1. Pay attention and hear the Word of God
  2. Submissive, obedient and not rebellious against the Word of God

When today, we have not entered into the Promised Land (have not received what we prayed), on this exact day of the Word of God says lowered heart, in full submission to the Lord, hear the word of God, obedient and obey the word of God. Because the Word of God is the way, the truth and the life, and if we listen to the Word of God then God guarantees that we will definitely get a way out, get the truth that deliberates and get a life full of peace and joy.

However, due to the Word of god is a supernatural matter, very often it is contrary with the mind or human reasoning so that very few people are willing to do it and even too often people rebel against the word of God. Know that when mankind rebels against God’s word that means the same as against the Lord and as the result everything that is done will meet dead-end, falsity and death.

TODAY’S WORD: Exodus 23-20-26, NKJV

The Angel and the Promises

20 “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. 22 But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. 24 You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.

25 “So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. 26 No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.

TODAY’S VERSE TO REMEMBER:

“Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it. But whoever respects a command is rewarded.” (Proverbs 13:13)

TODAY’S ACTION:

Two things that God wants you to notice so that you enter into the Promised Land:

  1. Pay attention and hear the word of God;
  2. Submissive, obedient and not rebellious against the word of God.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

God wants us to know tht if we pay attention to the word of God, submissive, obedient and not rebellious; God himself will walk before, leading us to enter the fullness promise of Go into the Promised Land.

[Taken from Today’s Word by Ps Djohan Handojo and Team]

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Morning: Hebrews 4

Night: Jeremiah 40-42

SMILE

12 Jun

SMILE

 

TODAY’S WORD: Philippians 4:4-7, NKJV

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 TODAY’S INSPIRATION 
How do you respond to bad news? Are your heart also become badly, reply badly and give respond poorly in or out? When you start to give up and do not want to do anything or maybe you begin to get angry, curse and throw verbal railing, then you make yourself look bad before God and man. Notice when you behave badly, then the circumstances is actually improved, even it will get worse.

When our heart receives bad news, but we still have peace and be thankful of it, then our circumstances, though worse, can be controlled by our attitude. Is not the Word of God says that we are the light and salt of the earth, which means we are salting and affecting the situation, we are not affected by the situation.

Indeed, it is undeniable that a lot of events in this world that can be bad news because the reality is not in accordance with our expectation. Therefore, it is very important for us to have a mood filled with peace and joy in order to become calm and wise in facing problems, challenges and even in the power of God, we are able to control, overcome and win over all situations.

Meanwhile, if we do not have the attitude of surrender to God’s heart, then the situation will take over our peace and we will lose the joy and peace, which is actually our strength. Without peace and joy of God then we are actually nothing more than dry vessel clay, which is fragile and easily destroyed.

TODAY’S VERSE TO REMEMBER:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

TODAY’S ACTION:

Keep smiling even in bad situations.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Have a heart attitude full of joy, peace and love from the Lord Jesus.

[Taken from Today’s Word by Ps Djohan Handojo and Team]

12 jun

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Morning: John 20, NKJV

The Empty Tomb

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus said to her,  Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

The Apostles Commissioned

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Seeing and Believing

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That You May Believe

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Night: Ezra 3 -5, NKJV

Worship Restored at Jerusalem

And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening burnt offerings. They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings in the number required by ordinance for each day. Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. They also gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the permission which they had from Cyrus king of Persia.

Restoration of the Temple Begins

Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the Lord. Then Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah, arose as one to oversee those working on the house of God: the sons of Henadad with their sons and their brethren the Levites. 10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord:

“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.”

Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.

Resistance to Rebuilding the Temple

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God of Israel,they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Rebuilding of Jerusalem Opposed

In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. In the days of Artaxerxes also, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabel, and the rest of their companions wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the letter was written in Aramaic script, and translated into the Aramaic language. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes in this fashion:

From Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions—representatives of the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the people of Persia and Erech and Babylon and Shushan, the Dehavites, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper took captive and settled in the cities of Samaria and the remainder beyond the River—and so forth. 11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent him)

To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men of the region beyond the River, and so forth:

12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to us at Jerusalem, and are building the rebellious and evil city, and are finishing its walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Let it now be known to the king that, if this city is built and the walls completed, they will not pay tax, tribute, or custom, and the king’s treasury will be diminished. 14 Now because we receive support from the palace, it was not proper for us to see the king’s dishonor; therefore we have sent and informed the king, 15 that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. And you will find in the book of the records and know that this city is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and provinces, and that they have incited sedition within the city in former times, for which cause this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, the result will be that you will have no dominion beyond the River.

17 The king sent an answer:

To Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and to the remainder beyond the River: Peace, and so forth.

18 The letter which you sent to us has been clearly read before me. 19 And I gave the command, and a search has been made, and it was found that this city in former times has revolted against kings, and rebellion and sedition have been fostered in it. 20 There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all the region beyond the River; and tax, tribute, and custom were paid to them. 21 Now give the command to make these men cease, that this city may not be built until the command is given by me. 22 Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage increase to the hurt of the kings?

23 Now when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease. 24 Thus the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Restoration of the Temple Resumed

Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them. At the same time Tattenai the governor of the region beyond the River and Shethar-Boznai and their companions came to them and spoke thus to them: “Who has commanded you to build this temple and finish this wall?” Then, accordingly, we told them the names of the men who were constructing this building. But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, so that they could not make them cease till a report could go to Darius. Then a written answer was returned concerning this matter. This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai sent:

The governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and his companions, the Persians who were in the region beyond the River, to Darius the king. (They sent a letter to him, in which was written thus)

To Darius the king:

All peace.

Let it be known to the king that we went into the province of Judea, to the temple of the great God, which is being built with heavy stones, and timber is being laid in the walls; and this work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands. Then we asked those elders, and spoke thus to them: “Who commanded you to build this temple and to finish these walls?” 10 We also asked them their names to inform you, that we might write the names of the men who were chief among them. 11 And thus they returned us an answer, saying: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and completed. 12 But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to build this house of God. 14 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple that was in Jerusalem and carried into the temple of Babylon—those King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon, and they were given to one named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. 15 And he said to him, ‘Take these articles; go, carry them to the temple site that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its former site.’ 16 Then the same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem; but from that time even until now it has been under construction, and it is not finished.” 17 Now therefore, if it seems good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, whether it is so that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send us his pleasure concerning this matter.

 

GROWING IN ONENESS

16 Jan

GROWING IN ONENESS by Mitch Temple

It takes work to grow in oneness, but the reward is definitely worth it.

It takes work to grow in oneness. On a torn envelope, Sarah finds the following note left on the kitchen table one morning: “Sarah, I know you said you would like to spend time with me. I agree that we’ve really grown apart lately. I think we need to spend more time together, and I know you were looking forward to relaxing for a couple of evenings. Well, you get your wish. The boss called and said I have to work tonight.

“By the way, would you mind ironing my golf shorts when you get home? I have a tournament tomorrow. Oh, before I forget, tomorrow night the guys are coming over to watch the game. You don’t mind, do you? And something else — I’m leaving on business to San Diego Monday. I’ll be gone the rest of the week.”

If Sarah is like most wives, she’s thinking, How in the world does this goofball think we’re going to get close if he’s always gone or having someone over?

She’s right; healthy relationships don’t just evolve, they’re nurtured.

Suppose Jesus had taken the attitude that closeness would “just happen” with his disciples. “Okay,” He might say. “I have called you guys to be apostles. You have left everything to follow Me. But I have a lot of stress on Me; I have to save the world! So My ‘alone time’ is very important. Your job is to take the Gospel to the whole world, but I really think you can handle this without Me. I’ll spend Saturdays with you, but the rest of the time you’re on your own.”

Is that how Jesus became “one” with His disciples? No. He understood the value of spending time with them, talking, teaching, dining, and experiencing happy and challenging moments together. There were times when Jesus needed to be alone, but He understood the value of being with His followers, too. In the end, He gave His life for them and they gave theirs for Him — the ultimate testimony of oneness.

Togetherness: Making It Work

If you’re struggling with the challenges of togetherness, here’s help.

If you find yourself struggling with the challenges of togetherness, here are some simple suggestions.

Remember who brought you together. God has united the two of you for a reason. It’s no accident. He calls you to become one (Genesis 2:24), to honor one another (Ephesians 5:22-33), to love one another (I Corinthians 13), and to remain together until death separates you (Matthew 19:9).

Change the way you think. You’re still an individual. But God has called you to leave your father and mother and unite with your spouse. That means making changes in your thinking (you belong to someone else now) as well as your behavior (you don’t act like a single person anymore). Changing the way you think can change the way you feel. Start thinking like a married person, and you’ll probably begin to feel like one.

Educate yourself about God’s desire for unity in your marriage. Read Bible passages that emphasize the importance of oneness and unity (John 17; 1 Corinthians 7). Personalize them by inserting your name and the name of your spouse. Pray that God will show you any attitudes and actions that stand in the way of oneness. Stop focusing on your mate’s mistakes, and start working on unity by changing yourself.

Learn from others. Ask couples you know who have strong marriages how they moved from independence to interdependence. What mindsets and habits did they adopt that worked for them?

If you asked that of Bill and Ruth, here’s what they might tell you.

Bill was independent. So was Ruth. For the first three years of their marriage things were so rocky that both felt they’d made a mistake in getting married. They developed separate interests and friendships, spent little time with each other, grew apart, and even considered divorce. But because of their church background, they felt they had to stay together.

Things changed on their third anniversary. They made a commitment to each other: No matter what, they would learn how to connect and develop intimacy. They began studying the Bible and praying together, and attended every marriage conference they could find. They made spending time together a hobby; where you saw one, you’d see the other. They took up golf and skiing. For the next 20 years they would have at least one date a week.

Recently Bill and Ruth went to another marriage retreat — where they were voted Most Dedicated Couple. Their switch from aloneness to togetherness hadn’t just happened. They’d intentionally drawn closer and stuck with that commitment.

They’d probably tell you that intentional intimacy is an investment that always pays off — and they’d be right.

From Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, published by Tyndale. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Source:www.focusonthefamily.com

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BECOMING ONE

9 Jan

BECOMING ONE by Focus on the Family

There is a fine line between becoming one with your mate, while maintaining your God-given identity. It’s challenging, but even more so if you’re new to married life. If this is your story, maybe you’re asking, “What does it mean to become one and how do my spouse and I do it?”

Does a husband pursue his career over his wife’s desire to move to another state for a once-in-a-lifetime job offer? Should a wife go out once a week with her girlfriends while her husband stays at home with the children? How do they merge their finances, possessions and time?

Becoming one is something that takes effort and persistence. Guaranteed, it won’t take place instantly but with wisdom and effort, it can happen. We invite you to take another step toward marital oneness by reading the articles we’ve provided here.

Feelings of Doubt and Uncertainty

The adjustment from being single to being married can create feelings of loss and anxiety. Here’s how to cope.

by Mitch Temple

The sudden change that comes after the honeymoon can be one of life’s most sobering moments. Some young couples describe this as “being hit in the face with a cold glass of water” or “being struck by lightning.”

Others express it this way:

“I feel like I’m on another planet, and I want to go home!”

“I miss being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it.”

And here’s a favorite that marriage therapists hear often: “If two becoming one means that I disappear as a person, forget it!”

If you feel like this, don’t think you’re alone or that your situation is hopeless. The following quotations illustrate the fact that the adjustment period from aloneness to togetherness is often complex:

I figure that the degree of difficulty in combining two lives ranks somewhere between rerouting a hurricane and finding a parking place in downtown Manhattan.—Claire Cloninger

I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.—Rita Rudner

Many couples wonder how the blending of two personalities and sets of ambitions, desires, and dreams could ever be expected by a wise and all-knowing God! Trying to adjust from “freedom” to partnership can be difficult and exasperating — but it’s a process, not just a destination.

The Feelings are Normal

When we shift from being single to being married, we experience loss. Losing something leaves us feeling sad. But as we grow in our relationship with the person we committed to, the grief can turn to joy and contentment.

It’s common for young couples to experience various levels of “buyer’s remorse.” That was the case with Nicole and Ted.

Nicole had waited for many years to find the right man to spend the rest of her life with. At age 33, she met Ted. Within 13 months they were married in her hometown of Atlanta.

Though she was certain Ted was the man God had chosen for her, Nicole missed her independence. Often she felt sad, conflicted, confused — wondering whether she’d made the wrong decision about marriage. She loved Ted and was thankful for him, realizing she couldn’t have asked for a better man. But she struggled with having to give up her “alone time” and sense of freedom.

After praying, studying the Bible, and getting direction from Christian friends, Nicole began to see that her feelings were normal and that most people experience them. She accepted the responsibility of honoring the relationship God had given her with Ted. Each day she made conscious efforts to enjoy her relationship with her new husband in the fullest sense.

Though she occasionally needed time alone, Nicole learned to think in terms of two instead of one. When tempted to do her own thing at Ted’s expense, she resisted. When it would have been easy to plop down on the couch after a hard day’s work, she spent time with her husband first. Ted responded in a similar way, and their marriage developed into a bond filled with joy and intimacy.

That’s how closeness and biblical oneness develop in marriages in spite of selfish tendencies. Though challenging and often confusing, the transition from independence to interdependence is absolutely vital to your union.

Source:www.focusonthefamily.com

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KNEEL AND PRAY FOR NEWTOWN

3 Jan

KNEEL AND PRAY FOR NEWTOWN by Nicole Unice

I am in the carpool line and scrolling through my Twitter and I see the word “school” and “shooter” and my stomach drops and it hasn’t stopped hurting now. I pick up my children and I can tell the teachers and principal of my school don’t know yet, because when something like this happens adults can connect by just looking at one another, and I know that they haven’t heard.

And then I think about praying and I am also really crying inside, mourning for the rip into our lives that this creates, the searing, ugly, tearing wound of evil, and the hurt and tragedy of the fact that we have disregarded hurting people and ignored so much of the pain and hurt in our world, and that we are a hurting, isolated people who so need love and forgiveness and healing.

There are some things that I want to tell you, my friends, because I know that in times like this we look around and wonder what to do next, and mostly I don’t know, but here’s what I do know:

You need to let your children believe in God.

Even if you wrestle with the whole concept, and if it makes your head hurt to think about evolution and exclusivity and is Jesus the only way, and even if you wrestle with if the Bible is historically accurate or if God performs miracles, here’s one thing that no one, not any one person, can deny: the existence of evil.

Evil is real and I am begging you to face the reality. We are not raising our children in a Dora the Explorer make-believe land, and they can feel that. We cannot protect them from everything, and they can feel that. We are not enough. And they can feel that. If you make yourself the highest protection for your child, then what will you tell them when they ask about school shootings? About movie theatre shootings? About car accidents and natural disasters and fires?

We cannot have them within arm’s length at all times. They grow and they flutter their wings and they strain to fly because that’s what they are supposed to do. And so when God describes himself as a great daddy bird that lets us hide in the shadow of his wing, this great Lion who reigns and roars, this great I AM who exists outside and inside and around our reality and invites us to eternity, this one that guides and protects and is over all, even this tragedy, we must let our children believe in that God.

Without heaven, death is despair. Without eternity, the end of our time on earth is the dark, deep end. And without souls, we are merely animals. And so school shootings happen because pain and evil and suffering are real, and there is nothing scarier than a person who has disregarded human life, who has been so hurt by life that they have been caught up in the snare of evil, and darkness has won in their life but it doesn’t have to win in ours by staying indifferent to the reality.

I want my children to never feel alone, even when I am not with them. I believe in God because I have wrestled long and hard with the questions of life, of evil and pain and suffering and forgiveness. And I believe that this story only makes sense with Him in it.

So I’m asking you to give your children a narrative. Give them a framework for understanding good and evil and life and death. Do the best you can, even if it feels awkward or hard. I think we all know that these “days are evil” as Paul said to the church at Ephesus many years ago. Would you pray with me?

God of all comfort, we come before you with humble, silent hearts. You gave us tears so that we can mourn and we cry out for you to pour out your loving, warm light on the many so deeply affected today by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. For those who lost children today, would you gather them to you, for you promise that “those who mourn will be comforted.” For the children who have been traumatized by these experiences, would your healing light penetrate their souls and speak deeply into them, about the truth of the protection of their spirits and the reality of heaven. For the family of the shooter, we ask you to draw them close to you. And we thank you, God, that you are a God who remembers, you are a God of justice, and that evil will not have the final word in this earth, and that no matter what happens to us, our souls find rest in you, and they are secure in you. Help us to turn back to you as a nation, to take action to protect those who are suffering in their minds and souls, and that we would not “be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with love.” (Romans 12:21).

“A destruction, an annihilation only man can provoke, only man can prevent.” –Elie Wiesel

Source:www.crosswalk.com

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TEN WAYS TO BRING THE GOSPEL HOME THIS CHRISTMAS – PART 2

25 Dec

TEN WAYS TO BRING THE GOSPEL HOME THIS CHRISTMAS by Jonathan Parnell

Part 2

(Continued)

6) Tell it slant

Some extended family contexts may be so far from spiritual that we need to till the soil of conversation before making many direct spiritual claims. It’s not that the statements aren’t true or desperately needed, but that our audience may not yet be ready to hear it. The gospel may seem so foreign that wisdom would have us take another approach. One strategy is to “tell it slant,” to borrow from the poem of the same name — to get at the gospel from an angle.

“If your family has a long history of negativity and sarcasm,” writes Newman, “the intermediate step of speaking positively about a good meal or a great film may pave the way for ‘blinding’ talk of God’s grace and mercy” (67). Don’t “blind” them by rushing to say loads more than they’re ready for. As Emily Dickinson says, “The truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind.”

7) Be real about the gospel

As we dialogue with family about the gospel, let’s not default to quoting Bible verses that don’t really answer the questions being asked. Let’s take up the gospel in its accompanying worldview and engage their questions as much as possible in the terms in which they asked them. Newman says, “We need to find ways to articulate the internally consistent logic of the gospel’s claims and not resort to anti-intellectual punch lines like, ‘The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.’”

Yes, let’s do quote Bible when appropriate — we are Christians owing ultimately to revelation, not to reason. But let’s not make the Bible into an excuse for not really engaging with their queries in all their difficulty. (And let’s not be afraid to say we don’t know when we don’t!)

8) Consider the conversational context

Context matters. It doesn’t have to be face to face across the table to be significant. “Many people told me their best conversations occurred in a car — where both people faced forward, rather than toward each other,” says Newman. “Perhaps the indirect eye contact posed less of a threat” (91). Maybe even sofas and recliners during a Thanksgiving Day football game, if the volume’s not ridiculous. Be mindful of the context, and seek to make yourself available for conversation while at family gatherings, rather than retreating always into activities or situations that are not conducive to substantive talk.

9) Know your particular family situation. In some families, the gospel has been spoken time and again in the past to hard hearts, perhaps there has been a lack of grace in the speaking, and what is most needed is some unexpected relational rebuilding. Or maybe you’ve built and built and built the relationship and have never (or only rarely) clearly spoken the message of the gospel.

Let’s think and pray ahead of time as to what the need of hour is in our family, and as the gathering approaches pray toward what little steps we might take. And then let’s trust Jesus to give us the grace our hearts need, whether it’s grace for humbling ourselves enough to connect relationally or whether it’s courage enough to speak with grace and clarity.

10) Be hopeful

God loves to convert the people we think are the least likely. Jesus is able to melt the hardest of hearts. Some who finished their lives among the greatest saints started as the worst of sinners.

Realistically, there could have been some cousin of the apostle Paul sitting around some prayer meeting centuries ago telling his fellow believers, “Hey, would you guys pray for my cousin Saul? I can’t think of anyone more lost. He hunts down followers of The Way and arrests them. Just last week, he was the guy who stood guard over the clothes of the people who killed our brother Stephen.” (53)

With God, all things are possible. Jesus has a history of conquering those most hostile to him. We have great reason to have great hope about gospel advance in our families, despite how dire and dark it may seem.

When We Fail

And when we fail — not if, but when — the place to return is Calvary’s tree. Our solace in failing to adequately share the gospel is the very gospel we seek to share. It is good to ache over our failures to love our families in gospel word and deed. But let’s not miss that as we reflect on our failures, we have all the more reason to marvel at God’s love for us.

Be astonished that his love is so lavish that he does not fail to love us, like we fail to love him and our families, and that he does so despite our recurrent flops in representing him well to our kin.

Source: http://www.desiringgod.com

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