Selasa, 18 Oktober 2016

The Raw Truth About Your Kids and Pornography

The Raw Truth About Your Kids and Pornography

This is our job as parents, to be wise and relentless and vigilant…and to turn the rest over to God.
A lot of things change the moment you become a parent: less sleep, for instance. A higher tolerance for stains on that couch you used to love. And then there’s the fear.
As a father of a 2-year-old and one-month-old, I’m still learning to cope with that insistent internal anxiety that tells me 24/7, “You should be more strict—you should be less strict—you should pay more attention to your kid—you’re doing this wrong—TRY HARDER…”
Parenting, as it turns out, is really hard. And as kids get older, the stakes are raised, which is what makes articles like Barna’s latest survey on teenagers and pornography so frightening.
According to Barna’s research, 26 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 38 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are looking at pornography at least once a week. It’s worth pointing out that these numbers are asking 12- to 24-year-olds to: 1. judge what is pornographic, 2. have the self-awareness to know how much they are actually looking at it, and 3. be honest.
I’d suspect the actual rates are much higher.
For Christians there are two obvious concerns about this: It damages our kids’ sensitivity to God’s voice, and it encourages them to think of sexuality as selfish and temporary rather than selfless and a lifelong commitment. But there’s an extremely significant third concern: the growing scientific data that shows the human brain is literally being rewired by consistent exposure to pornographic images.
Alarm about pornography used to be a purely conservative Christian point of view, but as a generation of parents is raising kids whose average first exposure to pornography is age 9, the concern has crossed political and religious boundaries. A few months ago The New York Times ran a story titled “It’s OK, Liberal Parents, You Can Freak Out About Porn.” There are numerous TED Talks raising the alarm and more and more secular research saying that pornography for the upcoming generation of children could be a huge problem.

According to Barna’s research, only 32 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds think viewing pornographic images is usually or always wrong, as opposed to 54 percent of people 25+. That 32 percent ranks lower on 18- to 24-year-olds “wrong” list than not recycling, significant water/electricity consumption and overeating.
The generational drop-off makes sense: Those of us who grew up with the Internet are now seeing the negative effects it’s had on our lives, while the next generation is assaulted with sexuality earlier, more often and with more ease.
All of this is discouraging news, especially for those of us trying to parent kids through this mess. So what do we do? Well, I’m still early on in my own parenting journey, but I have worked in pastoral ministry with teenagers and young adults for years. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
OK, you’ve probably heard this one before so let’s get a couple things out of the way: 1) this is really hard, and 2) you’ll never do it perfectly. As parents, you’re fighting an uphill battle with a world actively working against you. Give yourself some grace. That being said, there are some steps you can take to set yourself up to win.
• no computers, smartphones or tablets in the bedroom.
• have the house’s computer monitor face outward where anyone can see it.
• set up Internet filters that block questionable sites. There’s a lot to choose from. 
SAY NO TO THE SMARTPHONE (…for as long as possible) 
You’ll probably give in eventually, but there’s wisdom in waiting as long as possible. Your kid may need a cell phone to stay in contact, but she doesn’t need access to the Internet. Buy an old school flip phone and try to convince them it’s retro and cool. Give then a smartphone but turn off the data. Set up the phone to lock out any unapproved sites. Here’s a list of some different options for monitoring smartphone usage, but there’s a lot more out there. Google is actually your friend this time. Search “parental restriction smartphone” and go from there.
Earlier I mentioned how much fear parenting induces, and yet we are told by God that “perfect love drives out fear.” We tap into that reality through our #1 go-to secret weapon: prayer.
Our children are a blessing entrusted to us by God, but ultimately they are just that: God’s. He is the one overseeing their lives. He knows who he has created them to be and he can do what you can’t: protect them, shape their character and work even the bad things in their life for good.
I make a lot of mistakes as a dad, but the one thing I’m most proud of is before my kids go to sleep each night, we pray as a family and I ask God to turn them into the sensitive, brave, kind, passionate God-fearing men they’ve been created to be. I ask God to teach me how to parent them and I pray God’s blessings over them.
This is our job as parents, to be wise and relentless and vigilant…and to turn the rest over to God. When we do that, we can parent our kids through the ever-present danger of pornography knowing they are in hands far more powerful than ours.
Joshua Pease

Joshua Pease

Josh Pease is a writer & speaker living in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids. His e-book, The God Who Wasn't There , is available for purchase on Amazon.

Selasa, 11 Oktober 2016


Dalam bukunya "You Can't Make Me, (But I Can Be Persuaded)" (Kau Tidak Dapat Memaksaku, [Tetapi Aku Bisa Dibujuk] -- Red.), Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, seorang ahli pembelajaran, membantu para orangtua untuk menyelami kepala dan hati dari anak berkemauan keras untuk menemukan cara-cara yang tidak hanya untuk mengatasi anak yang keras kepala, tetapi juga untuk mengeluarkan yang terbaik dari dalam diri anak itu.
Gambar: Strong-willed children
Pertama, kita akan mulai dengan mendefinisikan anak berkemauan keras.
Anak berkemauan keras (Strong-willed child - SWC - Red.) adalah anak yang suka menantang aturan, yang tahu bahwa segala sesuatu adalah mungkin, meski mungkin dibutuhkan waktu yang lebih lama atau tidak nyaman untuk melakukannya.
Orangtua yang mencoba untuk memotivasi anak-anak mereka dengan mutlak akan merasa frustasi berhadapan dengan anak SWC. SWC akan mengambil konsekuensi daripada melakukan apa yang diperintahkan kepadanya karena mereka ingin memiliki rasa mengontrol atas hidupnya. Jika Anda sedang berada dalam pertempuran kemauan yang terus-menerus dengan anak Anda, maka cukup besar kemungkinan bahwa anak Anda, dan mungkin juga Anda, adalah pribadi yang berkemauan keras.
Lalu, bagaimana orangtua mengetahui perbedaan antara seorang anak yang hanya menjadi pemberontak dan anak yang memenuhi syarat sebagai SWC?
Perbedaannya adalah tentang temperamen. Anak pemberontak memiliki masalah dengan otoritas, sementara SWC hanya melawan pada cara otoritas dikomunikasikan. SWC tidak menolak gagasan mengenai otoritas, tetapi mereka ingin memiliki pengaruh untuk menentukan keadaan.
Namun, pemberontakan, pembangkangan, dan ketidakpatuhan adalah sikap yang salah, apa pun temperamen yang dimiliki anak. Semua orang Kristen diperintahkan untuk tunduk kepada Kristus, apa pun temperamen atau kepribadian kita. Saya adalah seorang SWC yang telah dewasa, dan mencoba untuk memikirkan Amsal 3:5-6: "Percayalah kepada TUHAN dengan segenap hatimu, dan janganlah bersandar kepada pengertianmu sendiri. Akuilah Dia dalam segala lakumu, maka Ia akan meluruskan jalanmu". Ayat ini memberikan akuntabilitas kepada saya: "dalam segala lakumu akui Dia". Itu berarti dalam semua pendekatan saya, semua kebiasaan khusus kepribadian saya, semua cara berkemauan keras saya, saya harus mengakui Tuhan. Hal tersebut juga perlu dilakukan oleh setiap SWC.
Dampak SWC terhadap keluarganya.
Setan dapat menggunakan SWC untuk membuat perpecahan antara orangtua dan anak-anak. Karena saya sudah memberikan seminar tentang topik ini, ada orangtua Kristen yang kompeten datang kepada saya dan mengatakan bahwa mereka berpikir bahwa mereka membenci anak-anaknya, tanpa memikirkan bahwa sesungguhnya anak-anak mereka memiliki kelebihan juga.
Lalu, bagaimana hubungan SWC dengan Tuhan? Apakah sulit bagi SWC untuk menerima gagasan tentang tunduk kepada otoritas Allah?
Hubungan SWC dengan orangtua akan menentukan sebagian besar hubungannya dengan Allah. Orangtua saya memiliki hubungan yang sangat positif dengan Kristus dan dengan saya, jadi saya tidak menyimpang jauh.
Namun, jika Tuhan digunakan sebagai palu untuk memaksakan kehendak pada SWC, akan sulit bagi mereka untuk menjalin hubungan dengan Tuhan, dan mereka justru ingin menjauh dari relasi semacam itu. Tuhan sendiri tidak memaksa kita, melainkan menginginkan kita untuk berelasi dengan-Nya dan memilih untuk menjadi taat. Karena itu, kita perlu meneladani-Nya dalam cara yang sama.
Bagaimana orangtua SWC bisa bekerja sama dengan anak mereka?
Sikap penyesuaian yang menyeluruh diperlukan agar orangtua berhasil membesarkan SWC. Hal itu dapat dimulai dengan menyadari bahwa anak SWC Anda tidak sedang sengaja berusaha untuk membuat Anda marah. Gunakan cara berkomunikasi dengan menggunakan kata "OK". Michael, putra saya yang berusia 10 tahun adalah seorang SWC. Saya akan berkata kepadanya demikian, "Tata meja, OK." Kata "OK" itu mengantarkan pesan bahwa dia memiliki pilihan, tetapi untuk itu saya meminta bantuannya. Jangan nyatakan permintaan Anda dengan sikap memohon karena anak SWC akan merasakan adanya kelemahan di sana, sehingga dia akan bersikap kasar. Kata "OK" adalah pilihan bagi SWC, yang sekaligus memiliki konsekuensi jika tidak dilakukannya.
Pertama, kita akan mulai dengan mendefinisikan anak berkemauan keras.
Apa lagi yang bisa dilakukan oleh orangtua?
Jika saya memiliki SWC yang membenci matematika dan tidak mau mengerjakan pekerjaan rumahnya, maka memberikan cukup hadiah atau ancaman tidak akan berhasil untuk membuatnya mengerjakan matematika. Jadi, mulailah dengan pertanyaan, apakah anak ini ingin lulus matematika?
Anda mungkin dapat berkata, "Untuk masuk tim basket, kau harus lulus kelas matematika. Aku tahu itu membosankan dan menurutmu tidak berguna. Namun, itu harus dilakukan terlebih dulu." Dengan mengatakannya, Anda sudah menantang SWC untuk berkata, "Saya bisa melakukan ini. Saya tidak harus menyukainya, tetapi saya bisa melakukannya."
Namun, apakah pendekatan semacam itu juga akan berhasil dengan anak yang lebih kecil atau anak prasekolah?
Kuncinya, sekali lagi, adalah untuk tetap tegas dan ramah. Tindakan, bukan hanya kata-kata, diperlukan terhadap anak-anak kecil. Ketika seorang anak berjalan di mana dia tidak seharusnya berjalan, hampiri dia sambil berkata dengan lembut, "Tidak, kita tidak akan melakukannya." Jika dia melakukannya lagi, Anda harus menghampirinya lagi sehingga dia akan memahaminya. Untuk anak prasekolah, Anda dapat mendisiplinnya dengan memberinya time-outs (bentuk hukuman dengan membuat anak tidak diperbolehkan melakukan apa pun, memisahkannya dari anak-anak lain, atau berdiri di tempat - Red.), dan gunakan itu jika anak Anda terus melanggar batas.
Gambar: Perlakukan anak SWC dengan tepat
Namun, ingatlah bahwa teriakan tidak akan berhasil untuk menundukkan SWC, berapa pun usianya. Anak Anda hanya akan berhenti mendengarkan jika Anda terus berteriak. Jadi, tegaskan nada Anda hanya pada saat situasi yang penting sehingga anak Anda benar-benar akan memperhatikannya. Jangan selalu melakukannya pada situasi yang lain.
Apa lagi yang bisa dilakukan oleh orangtua selain mengubah cara mereka berkomunikasi?
Pertama, pilihlah pertempuran Anda. Orangtua sering kali mencoba untuk menempatkan diri sebagai orang yang mengetahui segalanya, yang paling kuat, dengan harapan bahwa pendekatan itu akan mengendalikan anak-anak mereka. Namun, hal itu tidak akan berhasil. Pendekatan yang lebih baik adalah dengan menentukan apa masalah-masalah yang bisa ditawar dan tidak bisa ditawar.
Sebagai contoh, bagi keluarga kami keselamatan fisik, seperti mengendarai mobil dengan sabuk pengaman adalah masalah yang tidak bisa ditawar. Nilai-nilai rohani dan moral seperti tidak boleh berbohong, curang, atau menyakiti orang lain juga tidak bisa ditawar. Namun, ada banyak hal lainnya yang harus kita pilih dengan bernegosiasi jika ingin tetap menjaga hal-hal yang tidak bisa ditawar itu dengan utuh.
Seorang wanita datang kepada saya dan menceritakan kisah yang luar biasa ini. Katanya, "Ketika anak saya yang berkemauan keras masih kecil, dia selalu mengeluh tentang masakan saya. Pada suatu hari peringatan Thanksgiving, saat ia berusia 12 atau 13 tahun, seluruh keluarga duduk di meja. Saya telah bekerja sangat keras untuk pesta Thanksgiving itu, dan anak saya duduk di sana mengeluhkan tentang hal itu."
"Lalu, saya melakukannya. Saya melemparkan kentang panggang padanya. Semua orang terkejut. Ia malu dan pergi ke kamarnya. Saya pergi dan meminta maaf, tetapi hari itu adalah titik balik. Kami mengatakan kepadanya, 'Lihatlah, jika kau ingin membuat makananmu sendiri, itu tidak apa-apa. Persyaratan kami adalah kamu makan bersama dengan keluarga.' Jadi, hampir setiap malam selama lima atau enam tahun berikutnya, ia menyiapkan pizza beku atau sisa makan malam untuk dirinya, kemudian datang dan makan bersama dengan keluarga."
Wanita itu berkata, "Intinya adalah ia makan dengan keluarga dan tidak ada lagi pertempuran. Banyak orang berkata, 'Anda memanjakan anak itu. Anda tidak harus membiarkan dia memilih makanannya sendiri.' Akan tetapi, mereka tidak tinggal di rumah saya. Itu adalah pertempuran yang kami pilih untuk tidak dilawan. Sekarang, dia berusia 27 tahun dan dia suka makanan saya. Yang paling penting, dia suka datang ke rumah saya."
Orangtua tidak selalu harus bersikap kaku dan tidak fleksibel. Hanya Allahlah satu-satunya yang bisa membuat kita melakukan apa saja. Namun, Dia tidak pernah dan tidak akan pernah memaksa kita untuk menaati-Nya. Jadi, mengapa kita mengira dapat memaksakan kehendak kita kepada anak kita?
Apa yang dapat dilakukan orangtua ketika mereka begitu kehilangan kesabaran mereka dan terjebak dalam pertempuran kemauan?
Satu-satunya hal yang saya ketahui untuk dilakukan dalam situasi seperti itu adalah untuk berhenti, pergi, dan melanjutkannya kembali nanti ketika kedua pihak sudah tenang.
Kami melakukannya terhadap Michael, dan ia hampir selalu datang kembali setelah emosinya mereda. Dia perlu untuk merasa bahwa dialah yang membuat pilihan untuk memperbaiki keadaan dan lebih daripada bersedia untuk menebus kesalahan.
Metode lain yang keluarga kami coba adalah sejenis waktu jeda. Kami memiliki sebuah kata kode, yaitu "Kanguru", yang kami gunakan ketika Michael berteriak dan menjerit dan di luar kendali. Ketika saya berkata, "Kanguru. Kanguru," dia akan berhenti dan pergi. Konflik belum reda, tetapi berhenti sejenak. Dan kemudian, ketika dia lebih tenang, kami dapat membereskannya.
Ada hari-hari ketika saya dapat berkata, "Hentikan itu, dan aku bersungguh-sungguh," dan ia akan melakukannya. Anda harus menggunakannya dengan sangat hemat. Itu seperti kartu bebas masuk. Anda hanya akan berhasil ketika standar pendekatan Anda adalah menggunakan waktu dan energi untuk menangani masalah ketika mereka datang.
Ada sisi baik untuk temperamen SWC yang suka menantang. Anak-anak berkemauan keras tidak akan membiarkan dunia mengubah mereka karena merekalah yang ingin mengubah dunia. Seorang SWC memiliki kemampuan untuk berpikir secara mandiri dan berdiri teguh untuk apa yang dipercayainya. Orang dewasa yang sukses adalah orang-orang yang tidak akan membiarkan rintangan menghalangi mereka dari tujuannya, dan SWC adalah pribadi-pribadi berkomitmen yang dapat membuat perbedaan nyata bagi dunia.
Gambar: Sisi positif anak SWC
Orangtua dapat mengembangkan sisi positif SWC tersebut dengan mencari hal positif dan memuji di setiap kesempatan yang ditemukan. Jika anak Anda adalah anak yang sinis, Anda dapat memberikan konsekuensi karena sikapnya yang tidak menghormati, sekaligus memujinya dengan berkata, "Cara berpikirmu luar biasa."
Juga, orangtua harus membantu orang lain agar mereka dapat melihat sisi positif dari SWC. Saya dan suami menulis profil singkat kualitas baik Michael dan catatan untuk gurunya di awal tahun pelajaran. Guru akan menemukan tantangan dengan anak SWC dengan sendirinya, tetapi saya bisa membantunya untuk melihat kekuatan Michael.
Adalah penting bagi SWC untuk mengetahui bahwa dia benar-benar dicintai. Orangtua dapat menuliskan kepada SWC mereka, "Inilah hal-hal yang saya suka tentangmu." Hal itu bisa memberi pengaruh untuk mengingatkan SWC bahwa terlepas dari pertempuran Anda, Anda benar-benar menyukai dia.
Apa lagi yang Anda ingin katakan kepada orangtua dari anak-anak yang berkemauan keras?
Memelihara hubungan orangtua dan anak dengan baik perlu terjadi sebelum memelihara ketertiban seseorang di dalam rumah tangga. Seperti ibu yang membiarkan anaknya membuat makan malam sendiri dengan syarat ia makan bersama dengan keluarga. Anak itu mungkin tidak makan masakan daging cincangnya, tetapi mereka memiliki hubungan yang mereka berdua nikmati. Itulah cara untuk menjadi orangtua yang sukses.
Sejauh apa kemauan keras anak Anda?
Untuk mengetahui apakah anak Anda adalah anak berkemauan keras (SWC), gunakan kuis di bawah ini. Jawab pula pertanyaan-pertanyaan untuk diri sendiri atau pasangan Anda untuk mendapatkan pengetahuan untuk gaya pengasuhan Anda.
Tandai setiap pernyataan berikut yang hampir selalu benar.
Anak saya:
  • hampir tidak pernah menerima kata-kata seperti "tidak mungkin" atau frase seperti "itu tidak dapat dilakukan".
  • dapat dengan sangat cepat berubah dari keadaan penuh kasih yang hangat, menjadi keras kepala yang dingin.
  • akan berdebat sampai ke titik dasarnya, kadang-kadang hanya untuk melihat sampai seberapa jauh dasarnya.
  • ketika menjadi bosan, sudah ditebak akan membuat krisis daripada satu hari berlalu tanpa insiden.
  • menganggap aturan lebih seperti panduan (sebagai contoh, "Selama saya berpegang pada 'semangat' aturan, mengapa Anda begitu pilih-pilih?").
  • menunjukkan kreativitas yang besar dan banyak akal, selalu menemukan cara untuk mencapai tujuan.
  • dapat mengubah apa yang tampaknya masalah terkecil menjadi perang salib besar atau perdebatan yang mengamuk.
  • tidak melakukan hal-hal hanya karena "Anda seharusnya" -- diperlukan adanya kepentingan pribadi.
  • menolak untuk mematuhi tanpa syarat -- tampaknya selalu memiliki beberapa hal untuk dinegosiasikan sebelum menurut.
  • tidak takut untuk mencoba hal yang belum diketahui -- menaklukkan sesuatu yang asing (meskipun masing-masing SWC memilih risiko sendiri, mereka semua tampaknya memiliki kepercayaan diri untuk mencoba hal-hal baru).
  • dapat menerima apa yang dimaksudkan menjadi permintaan yang paling sederhana dan menafsirkannya sebagai ultimatum ofensif.
  • mungkin tidak benar-benar minta maaf, tetapi hampir selalu membereskannya.
Jika Anda menilai:
0 -- 3: Anak Anda mungkin memiliki kemauan yang keras, tetapi dia tidak banyak menggunakannya.
4 -- 7: Anak Anda menggunakan kemauan yang keras ketika dia perlu, tetapi tidak setiap hari.
8 -- 10: Anak Anda memiliki kemauan yang keras dengan dosis yang sangat sehat, tetapi dapat mundur jika ia ingin.
11 -- 12: Anak Anda adalah salah satu anak berkemauan keras. Dia hampir tidak mungkin untuk tidak menggunakannya. (t/Jing-Jing)
Diterjemahkan dan diringkas dari:
Nama situs : Today's Christian Woman
Alamat URL :
Judul artikel : Making Peace with Your Strong Willed Child
Penulis artikel : Carla Barnhill
Tanggal akses : 25 Februari 2014

The Pastor and Marriage

The Pastor and Marriage

Couple Prayingby Shane Stanford
My wife and I married young—far too young, perhaps. Like so many young couples, we had stars in our eyes. But we were not naive. In fact, we married against the hurried backdrop of difficult circumstances. I was born a hemophiliac and, at age 16, discovered that my medicines were contaminated with HIV. My future wife and I started dating just weeks before the diagnosis. We have literally faced this mountain together.
Just a few months before our wedding, I had been appointed as the pastor of a small, dwindling inner-city church. The aging congregation of forty people welcomed us warmly, but they were dealing with problems of their own: their neighborhood was not what they remembered, and it now looked very different from the one just across the street.
Alongside these stressors, my wife and I faced other issues that would affect our marriage—though at the time we did not realize how much. Both of us were products of divorce. Our childhoods had been strained. We had both spent lots of time being shuttled back and forth between parents for monthly visitation, summers, and holidays. The experience of coming from broken homes framed our marriage in powerful ways. So did the impact of various other ‘broken places’. In spite of this, we kept moving forward through our unfolding timeline: college, graduate school, our first fulltime appointment as pastor of a congregation, and then as church planters. Though most people around us saw nothing but a happy, loving couple, the truth was very different. With so much swirling around us, my wife and I could not find a place to land.
By year seven of our marriage, we had built a strong future for everything but our life together. Our ministry was successful and our church was thriving. Nevertheless, we were sailing into a season that many do not survive. And we lived our home life as though passing in the darkness. Each day was becoming far more work than it should have been. As my wife and I descended into the abyss of hurt and regret, we kept trying to see over the horizon to what would happen next. But we could never get the full view.
That is when God taught us to stop watching the long haul and to make each day mean something. We decided to take life in smaller steps – one day, one week at a time. In the process, we came to realize that each day played its own part in God’s redemption of our marriage. The God who created everything also created a tangible reminder that a ‘new beginning’ is possible at least every 24 hours.
But we did more than survive. We re-created our marriage. Now, more than twenty-five years into our journey as man and wife, not only have we established a strong marriage but we have watched God establish a core of love, respect, and forgiveness that continues to amaze and challenge us. Though we continue to face medical and other issues that may never go away this side of eternity, we live a blessed life – not an easy one, mind you – but most certainly ‘blessed’. With the gift of three beautiful daughters and more than one dream fulfilled, we remain in awe of God’s provision. How did we do it?
Well, the journey of a pastor and his or her family is complicated by unique issues. Sure, any job has its requirements and responsibilities. But the strains on a pastor and pastor’s family are well-known for being particularly challenging.
As difficult as pastoring could be on my family, I found it was my “giving in” to those pressures and expectations that did the most damage. My timidity in setting clear boundaries allowed the Adversary to slip into my home.
One day, I decided enough was enough.
The following are five principles, my wife and I use to re-create our marriage… every day.
  1. Reality
First, I had to make sure that my world was grounded in reality. I had to realize that my wife and I represented a complex combination of our parents, our extended families, our past hurts, dreams and fears. Together, we made it a point to remember that we are human beings with significant imperfections that only God can love. We faced the fact that, if we were truly to love each other, we had to accept each other as Christ had accepted us.
  1. Fidelity
Scripture states that sexual and emotional intimacy is reserved for marriage only. Though many people worry about sexual infidelity in a marriage, I believe more pastors fall prey to the emotional variety. The Church, if not checked and held to faithful boundaries, becomes a ‘mistress’ in its own powerful way. I once heard a pastor friend say, ‘I am not called to be successful; I am called to be faithful’. Our marriages are the same. Pastors cannot be faithful in their vocation if they don’t learn to be faithful in their marriage convenant first.
  1. Accountability
We are our spouse’s best cheerleader and critic, and they are ours. But we must learn to function wisely in this position. A “covenant” gives another person permission to enter into the deepest places of our humanity—and then make comments. One of our great tasks in the marriage covenant is to “speak truth in love” while also “loving the truth” as we find it in each other. Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 says: Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. If either should fall, one can pick up the other….
  1. Transparency
One of the Adversary’s best tools is secrets. Secrets not only eat away trust but also our confidence in our marriages. Transparency is a secret-killer. Paul says in Ephesians 4:13b, 15: “God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ…by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ…
  1. Tenacity
Marriage is the most difficult task or relationship in which you will ever take part. Sure, the formula is, at times, daunting and confusing. But the combining of two human beings who are on the same journey does not happen at one moment of one day at one single altar. No, it is an act of holy re-creation. Scripture reminds us that God “makes all things new”. But the Creation story is not easy or without effort. Quite the contrary, the Creation story is a story about hard work—so hard that even God decided to rest. Marriage, too, can be difficult. It sometimes takes more than everything we have. But it is worth it.
Every person, marriage, parent, or family wants a long, healthy future. But every successful journey begins with a first step … and a second … and so on.
My wife and I learned that every day means something within the scheme of God’s enduring hope for our family.
Today, my family’s deepest sense of peace comes from knowing that no matter how much we deal with in a day – serious medical issues, financial strains, relational and emotional struggles – just like anyone else, we can only deal with today. If we can make this day mean something, then tomorrow has a chance of taking on an even greater significance.
In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow…today is difficult enough.” Maybe the greater lesson is that “today is all any of us ever has.” Therefore, make Every Day something special.
Every week is a “Holy” week because God’s marches us toward a new beginning for our marriages, our parenting, our goals … our families.
Friends, this is your new day.

Sabtu, 08 Oktober 2016

10 Disciplines I’d Recommend Everyone Start in Their 20s

10 Disciplines I’d Recommend Everyone Start in Their 20s

disciplines college students
As your seniors head off to college, give them these qualities to consider.
This is one of those posts I hope someone learns something from that can help them in life.
OK, I hope that for all of my posts—otherwise, why am I writing? But I see this one as a life-giving post for those who will read it and take some of it to heart. Specifically, my target is those who are in their 20s, who are starting out in their adult life and career. As I’m writing, I’m thinking of my own two sons in that demographic, the young people who work on our team, and the hundreds of college students and young adults in our church. Those who come to mind are driving my desire to invest something in you who will read this.
I’m 51, which is certainly not old—although it may have seemed like it was when I was younger—but it is old enough to have learned a few things. Like things I wish I had done when I was younger. And some things I’m glad I did.
I have learned the only way to really sustain something in your life is through self-discipline. No one is going to force you to do some of the most important things you need to do.
If I were in my 20s again, there are some disciplines I would make sure I incorporated into my life. I would practice them enough that they would be natural for me today.

Here are 10 disciplines I would recommend everyone start in their 20s:

Saving. It’s easier to start setting aside money before you start spending it. Setting a budget and living by it makes so much sense to me now. It didn’t in my 20s. I wanted all the disposable income I could make. But I didn’t spend it wisely and now I have to make up for lost time saving for my future.
Exercising. I exercise everyday. Now in my 50s I recognize more than ever my need for regular physical activity, but some mornings the body doesn’t want to get going. Without it being intrinsic to who I am, I’m not sure I would start now.
Journaling. I have journaled off and on throughout my life. It is so much fun to read my thoughts from 30 years ago and reflect on how much I’ve learned and things God has done in my life. Still, there are periods missing where for years I didn’t journal. Knowing the value in what I do have, I wish this had been a more defined discipline.
Friending. Those deep, lasting friendships often start early. And take work. At this stage in life, friendships have deeper meaning and importance to me. I need people who can speak into my life who know me well. I have those, but not necessarily among people I knew in my 20s—who have a long history with me. I look on Facebook at friends from high school and college and I wish I had worked harder to keep those friendship strong. I miss them. At the time I thought they would last forever. They didn’t. They are still “friends,” but not at the level they once were. I’d make sure I surrounded myself with the right friends—and those may or may not be the people from your 20s, but I’d build healthy, long-lasting friendships.
Identifying. Specifically here I’m referring to learning who you are—who God designed you to be—and then living out of that truth throughout your life. This is the discipline of faith. Figuring out what you believe about the eternal and why you believe it and then putting faith into practice is vitally important. It will be challenged so many times. The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come.” Such wise advise. Knowing what you believe—nailing it down without reservation—will help you weather the storms of life that surely come to all of us. As a believer, knowing God’s approval of you will help you believe in yourself and your abilities and empower you to take the God-sized risks you may look back and regret if you don’t. This discipline also helps you develop the discipline of prayer—seeking wisdom from God. When you fully recognize the value of being “in the family of God,” you are more likely to cry out regularly to “Abba Father.”
Giving. Just as saving is an easier discipline if you begin early, so is giving. Whether it’s time or money, I now realize the value there is to me in helping others. I have practiced this one throughout my adult life, and it is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. I highly recommend starting this discipline early before the world and all its demands takes the ability from you.
Resting. Those in their 20s now seem better at this one than my generation was, but for those who need it—start resting now. Work hard. I think that’s a biblical command and a good virtue. But the older you get and the more responsibility that comes upon you, the harder it is to find the time to rest. It needs to be a discipline.
Life-planning. Creating a discipline of stopping periodically to ask yourself huge questions will keep you heading in a direction you eventually want to land. Questions such as—Am I accomplishing all I want to do? If not—why not? Where should I be investing my time? What do I need to stop doing—start doing—to get where I want to go? In what areas of my life do I need to improve? These can be life-altering questions. Ideally, we should ask them every year, but at least every few years this is a healthy discipline to build into your life—and the sooner the better.
Honoring. This discipline is honoring the past—learning from those who have gained wisdom through experience. When you’re young you can be guilty of thinking you know more than you really know. It’s not until you get to a certain age—certainly I’m there now—where you realize how much you don’t know. There is always something to be learned from another person’s experience you don’t have. This one seemed to come to me naturally, because I grew up most of my early life without a father in the home. I craved wisdom—especially from older men. But I cannot imagine where I would be in life had I not developed the life-long discipline of wisdom-seeking early in my life.
Coaching. Pouring into others is a great discipline—and should begin early in life. In my 20s I didn’t realize I had something to give others from what I had already learned. Imagine the impact of a 20-something person investing in a middle or high school student—maybe someone without both parents in the home. It wasn’t until I recruited one of my mentors in my mid-20s and he said, “I’ll invest in you if you invest in others,” that I began this discipline. I wish I had started even earlier.
It’s probably not too late for most who will read this to start most of these. Most of them, however, become more challenging the older you get.
Someone will wonder how I chose the order of these or if some are more important than others. There may even be push back because I started with one about money. I get that and it’s fair. Obviously, one on this list is MOST important. In my opinion, it would be “Identifying.” All else is an overflow of that one. But had I started with it, then the natural question is which one is number two, and number three, etc. Whichever one would have ended up number 10 could seem less important. I think all of them are important, so I didn’t prioritize them.
Any you would add to my list?  

When God’s People Do Not Live in the Word, Many Things Happen

When God’s People Do Not Live in the Word, Many Things Happen. All of Them Bad.

5.12 live in word
“The Lord never intended for His Word to collect dust on a table in your back bedroom.”
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in that law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
The Lord never intended for His Word to collect dust on a table in your back bedroom.
People paid for your right to own a Bible in your own language with their very lives.
What are you doing about that?
Christians who own numerous Bibles that they rarely open are thumbing their noses at the saints of old who paid the ultimate price.
This hard-won treasure lies buried under the dust and detritus of your life.
The Lord’s plan calls for His people to live and breathe His word, to read it and receive it inwardly, and to think about it regularly and practice it. He intended it to become part of the very marrow of their bones.
Digest it. Assimilate it. Live it. And meditate upon it continually.
He even told people to “eat this book.”
Several times throughout biblical history, God told His faithful prophet to consume the book containing His words (Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 2:3; 3:1-3; Revelation 10:9).
The idea was to get His Word inside, to digest it as surely as one takes in meat and vegetables for nourishment and sustenance, and to grow thereby.
Job said, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Our Lord said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3).
The image of taking in food and having it become part of your being is an apt metaphor for God’s children receiving the Word and assimilating it into our lives.
Man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Moses said it, Jesus quoted it, and no one has improved on that statement since.
Sadly, too few Christians are living that truth today.
The typical evangelical Christian—in this country especially—has numerous Bibles but rarely takes one down to read.
The consequences of that negligence are horrendous…
1) When God’s people are not living in the Word, their soul may be saved but their minds remain pagan.
“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).
The uninstructed Christian will approve that which God has forbidden, will teach what seems right to him and will put stumblingblocks in the path of the truly righteous.
2) When God’s people are ignorant of the Word, they become sitting ducks for cults and false prophets and nutty schemes.
“These (Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
3) When God’s people do not know the Word, they go after everything that glitters, that claims to be biblical, even when it’s a corruption of the Word. They respond to gimmicks, glitter and goofballs.
Up the road a few miles from my house is a flashy preacher living in a multi-million-dollar mansion who preaches a prosperity gospel. And because so many of God’s people know so little about the Word, they fall all over themselves clamoring to crawl aboard his bandwagon.
4) When God’s people are starving spiritually, they turn all their focus on the pulpit and place unrealistic expectations upon the preacher.  They are almost invariably frustrated because the pastor is “not feeding us.”
No pastor can be everything to the people that God intends to be. “The Lord is my shepherd.”
5) When God’s people are not living in the Word, even when they do open it, they cannot find their way around in it. Its truths are mysteries, its riches are lost to them and its instructions go unheeded. They walk in darkness.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path…” (Psalm 119:105).
6) When God’s people do not live in the Word, they remain carnal. Their wisdom is worldly, described in James 3:15 as “earthly, sensual, demonic.” Their lives are governed by the same principles as the unsaved.
Listen to them discuss the things of God and you will hear, “It seems to me,” or “I feel.” You may even hear someone admit, “I don’t know what the Bible teaches, but I know what I believe”—the very height of spiritual arrogance and ignorance.
7) When the people of God are not living in the Word, the church will lack qualified deacons and teachers and counselors. Members remain as babies. Hebrews 5 describes them: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”
If a church is unable to find godly and mature men and women to serve as leaders, it often compounds its problems by placing immature and carnal people in key positions. Pity the pastor assigned to work with leaders who do not understand faith, think the preacher is a hired hand, judge everything by appearance and numbers, and become authoritative and divisive.
Put another way, living in God’s Word on a daily basis will…
—steady you.
You will not be blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). God’s Word will be like the stabilizers which keep ocean-going ships steady.
—ground you.
You will be established and rooted. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water….” (Psalm 1:3).
—admonish you.
“Now, you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). “Scripture is profitable for reproof, correction…” (2 Timothy 3:16).
—direct you.
“Scripture is profitable for doctrine … for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16).
The 50th Psalm lays it out in dramatic fashion. God said the people were hating instruction and “casting my words behind them.” They were supporting thieves and “partaking” with adulterers. Their words were lies and deceitful. And then, the devastating verdict…
“These things thou hast done and I kept silent. And because I kept silent, you thought I was just like you” (Psalm 50:21).
“I will reprove you,” said the Lord. “Now, consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver…”
Serious stuff indeed.  

The Goldilocks Principle of Marriage

The Goldilocks Principle of Marriage

marriage goldilocks
“Not too cold. Not too hot. But just right.”
Not too cold. Not too hot. But just right.
In the children’s fairy tale The Three Bears, a little girl named Goldilocks enters an empty house owned by three bears—Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Each animal has a preference for the porridge. Goldilocks finds one too cold, one too hot, but one just right. The Goldilocks principle often references finding the middle ground of two extremes.
Within marriage, we need to find just the right perspective of how to think of ourselves. Pride can express itself in one of two extremes—thinking too highly of ourselves or thinking too little of ourselves. Either way, our perspective is wrong. For a healthy marriage, we need to understand ourselves and our spouses in the proper way. When we think either too little or too much of ourselves, we will throw our marriage out of balance. (See: Pride—the Only Enemy of Marriage)
We must think of ourselves just right.

Too much

When we overestimate our value in marriage, we make marriage solely about us. Instead of understanding God’s role in marriage, we assume marriage is simply about our feelings, satisfaction, happiness.
From this perspective, our spouse’s role is to please us. We expect them to make us happy, serve us and make us the center of attention. Our happiness defines their value. The importance of our vows is dependent on our feelings. (See: 3 Essentials of a Healthy Marriage)
Thinking too highly of ourselves can express itself by:
—Believing if our spouse truly loved us they would know what we want or think
—Refusing to listen to our spouse’s thoughts or concerns
—Showing contempt toward our spouse
—Turning every disagreement into a personal attack
—Yelling and other forms of disrespect
—Failing to take responsibility for a major aspect of home life (finances, housework, etc.)
—Assuming principles of fidelity or character don’t apply to us
—Being physically or emotionally abusive
—Ignoring our vows and refusing to submit what we desire to what’s best for the couple
When we think too highly of ourselves, a healthy marriage is not possible because our spouse can never be seen as our equal. We will always think we deserve better and that they are lucky to be married to us.

Too Little

When we think of ourselves too little in marriage, we do not give our full selves to God or our spouse. We withhold the fullness of who we are and in so doing dishonor God and cheat our spouses. This is often done under the appearance of humility. But it is a false humility. It’s an undervaluing of who we are as beings created in God’s image. It’s thinking of ourselves less than who God made us to be. It’s trusting our judgment over God’s.
Thinking too little of ourselves can express itself in a variety of ways:
—Being unwilling to communicate our true thoughts and emotions
—Pretending to be something we are not
—Expecting our spouse to read our mind
—Assuming we deserve to be treated poorly
—Excusing our spouse’s poor behavior as our own fault
—Exchanging genuine service for actions intended to earn the love of our spouse
—Refusing to believe we deserve the love and respect of our spouse
When we think too little of ourselves, a healthy marriage is not possible because we will never fully engage in the relationship. Our spouse will always be relating to part of us and not all of us.

Just Right

Whenever we think of ourselves just right in marriage, we understand our proper place within the relationship. Knowing we were created in the image of God, we understand our value. Yet understanding we are the creation and not the Creator, we don’t overvalue ourselves. This perspective breeds true humility. (See: What Men Can Do for Marriage)
A just right perspective expresses itself by:
—Humbly communicating through both listening and sharing our true feelings
—Feeling a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to give and receive love
—Showing respect at all times and in a variety of ways
—Continually learning how to be a better spouse and how to understand our spouse better
—Dealing with issues directly, but keeping them in their proper context
—Fully shouldering and sharing the responsibilities for making the marriage work
—Appreciating where the relationship is but always striving to get better
Seeing ourselves in the right context creates a climate in which a marriage can thrive. Both partners feel valued, grateful and empowered to create a meaningful marriage.
When it comes to marriage, are you too hot? Too cold? Or just right?  

How To Love Orphans When You Don’t Feel Led To Adopt

How To Love Orphans When You Don’t Feel Led To Adopt

How To Love Orphans When You Don't Feel Led To Adopt
Loving kids who would be otherwise abandoned is part of my life’s purpose, even if I’m not called to adopt.
I am a huge fan of adoption. I’m an advocate for more foster care in Christian families. I’m delighted by the work done at the youth ranch where my mom and dad serve, parenting kids orphaned by parents serving long term sentences in Florida state prisons.
I am passionately pro orphan care. It’s pure and undefiled religion and exactly what our churches and families should be about.
But here’s the thing: I don’t feel led to adopt children.
I can’t tell you how much I dislike this about myself.
Before you start typing in the comments “Jennifer, you need to give yourself a break”—don’t worry, I have. I do. But for now, let’s jump into the tension I sometimes feel in my gut (and heart):
I’m on Facebook minding my own business when I see a friend’s adopting a child. I watch moving videos of the first moment they saw their child. I read testimonials about how much adoption is teaching them about who God is. I see pictures of their oh-so-cute son or daughter, likely with a different color skin or hair or eyes. I listen to their testimony…
And I cry. Because it’s beautiful. All of it. Adoption is the story of the Gospel. And in those moments I want to adopt a child. So bad.
But then I take a minute, wipe the tears and start writing a plan to convince my husband Justin this is something we should do. And the plan never comes together right. It’s not just money—we could raise that. We have friends who’d help. It’s more than that, a long list of reasons it seems like, especially in this season, our family is just not built for or called to adoption.
The first few times I made this list I thought, “Everyone makes excuses. I’m just making excuses.” So I prayed about it. In fact, a couple years ago my husband and I seriously considered having more children, adopted or biological. We made the lists and we prayed and we fasted and in the end we both felt pretty sure the answer was no.
So far the answer has always been no.*
Because this is true, because I feel relatively confident this is not God’s plan for our family right now, and because at the same time God is calling me to love orphans, I find myself struggling with this question:

What does it look like to love orphans when you don’t feel called to adopt?

Feeling ill-equipped to answer it on my own, I consulted three friends who have felt led to adopt:

Lauren Pinkston

mother to one biological daughter, Eliza, and one newly adopted daughter Hope, born in Uganda.

Lauren blogs at

Katie Beth McCarthy

mother to three sons: Miller, Andre and Keenan, two adopted internationally and one adopted domestically.

Leann Burgess

past foster mom with two biological daughters (Ava and Sam) and two adopted children—Finn, a son with Down’s Syndrome from China, and Norah, a daughter adopted at birth here in the US. 

For these folks, loving kids who would be otherwise abandoned, unloved, or ill-treated is a huge part of their life’s purpose. Here are what they identified as some of the best ways to love orphans if you can’t adopt or foster yourself:

1. Give money to fund adoption.

Adoption is astoundingly expensive (we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars), and most families are unable to afford an adoption on their own. This is why families often engage in fundraising efforts. Some families don’t fundraise, but often that’s simply because they feel uncomfortable asking their friends for money.
If you really want to help, start or contribute to a fundraiser for adoptive parents. 
Leanne said, “Parents that are in the adoption process need money. Plain and simple. It helps the parents but it is helping the orphan to gain a family. If people could look at it like that (from the child’s need and not the other way around) I think more people would give and give more…
“Don’t ask if they need money. They do.”
Katie Beth said, “Most of the time, families are paying off adoption loans FOR YEARS later…so a post-adoption fundraiser is just as good (and maybe better if the givers can see the precious child they are helping).”
All three of these women identified money as one of, perhaps the biggest obstacle to God’s people adopting God’s children. That’s not okay. Because God’s people as a whole have plenty of money to adopt children.
If you’ve ever thought, “People shouldn’t fundraise for an adoption; If they can’t afford it, they shouldn’t adopt” you likely have a very messed up picture of how money works in the kingdom of God. In this family of believers, your money is my money and my money is your money and if one of us is willing to do the hard work of adoption, we all contribute to making it happen. If you’re not going to adopt, that’s perfectly acceptable, but you’ve gotta be willing to chip in.
I actually wrote this post with the intention of helping my friends Ryan and Kelly raise money for the adoption of their son Titus from Micronesia. He’s currently in utero, due in the next three months. Ryan and Kelly, recently returned to the US from mission work in Ireland, have been trying to adopt a child for years. Just a few days ago they received entirely unexpected news that, if they wanted, they could be parents. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen two people more excited. Still, they have 3 MONTHS to raise $10,000 and that is no small task. But then again, for the people of God, it is.
Ryan and Kelly. Obviously these two will make terrific parents.
”>Ryan and Kelly. Obviously these two will make terrific parents. 
Ryan and Kelly. Obviously these two will make terrific parents.
Like I said, Ryan and Kelly haven’t been in the states long. They don’t have a large church family. They’re going to need some help from strangers, Christian brothers and sisters who realize that helping Ryan and Kelly adopt this baby is what God had in mind when He commanded us to visit the orphans in their distress. It’s the kind of love He modeled in loving and adopting us.
Follow the link to give and give generously. If you don’t give to Ryan and Kelly, give to someone willing to adopt. God may not be calling you to adopt, but He may be calling you to forgo that new TV purchase and hand over $500.

2. Love your friends who adopt or foster (and their kids) in practical ways.

Raising a child is exhausting. Raising a child who comes from difficult circumstances, a child transitioning countries, learning customs, or dealing with post traumatic stress is a whole new level of exhausting. Want to know what can be even more exhausting than that? Fostering children who may or may not accept you as a parent figure. Caring for orphaned, abandoned or needy children is hard work. It’s emotionally draining, physically tiring, and not always immediately rewarding. Just ask God.
That’s why these parents need your help even (perhaps especially) after the child joins the family.
Katie Beth mentioned help she’d received from a friend concerning adoption loans and help from another friend during tax season. She said she knows a girl who always babysits at no charge for foster or adoptive families. Katie Beth is also a huge fan of baby showers for adopted kids.
Other options for showing practical love: hugs, texts, random gift cards, special treats for the family like tickets to a baseball game, mowing their lawn, bringing dinner.
The point: Make life easier. It is too often too hard.
Speaking directly about foster kids, Leann said, “Find a foster family in your area and love on them. Fostering is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a lonely gig for sure. Take them dinner… bring them groceries, buy the foster child’s school supplies or summer clothes or baseball sign up fee. Just be a support. I promise you they need it. The job is TOUGH!”
My mom, a house parent at the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch, says the most powerful way to help one of her kids is to volunteer as a mentor. While mentoring disadvantaged kids is always hard (the cold shoulder is pretty common for the first several visits), what these kids need most is to know they have people who love them, people who’ll stick with them even when it’s not easy or fun. She says these kids need to know the world is good, that people are trust worthy and love is real.
Too, don’t forget the biological kids in adoptive or foster families. Sometimes in all the excitement they can get overlooked. Lauren said, “It’s so encouraging to me when people continue to pour into my bio daughter. She has been ignored and shoved aside so much this year it hurts my heart. So treating a mixed sibling group equally is huge!”

3. Pray for orphans and their caregivers.

As you know if you’ve read anything I’ve written, I think prayer is the first and most helpful thing anyone can do about anything at any moment. So, if you want to love orphans, pray for them and for their caregivers. As you pray keep a pen and paper nearby in case God gives you a to-do list.
To help put faces to the mission, check out or other websites with photo listings of kids waiting for parents, and pray specifically for these kids by name. I had no idea this was possible, and when I clicked over tonight… You guys. I couldn’t. I saw one kid, started crying in the coffee shop and had to close the page. Looking at these kids breaks my heart. But in a good way. It’s the kind of heartbreak that challenges and inspires.
Leann said, “Pray that God will rise up His people to open their hearts and homes. Even if that’s not you. Pray that someone will. It’s ok to do that. Grab the couple at your church that is on the front line of this battle and pray for them and with them. Pray for their baby or their toddler or their teenager that’s on the other side of the world waiting for travel approval. That’s a LONG and PAINFUL wait.”

4. Treat adopted or foster children with understanding, care and respect.

First, adopted kids and foster kids are often emotionally and socially immature and/or psychologically or developmentally delayed due to past experience, neglect, etc. Even when they’re not, at the beginning of their transition to a new family they’re experiencing A LOT of stress. Lauren said,
“When people understand that adoption is coupled with trauma and grief, they can be much more patient when a child has a meltdown, is emotionally behind his or her peers, or needs special accommodations in social settings.” 
Being patient and generous with our friends’ kids is a much-appreciated gift.
Lauren also mentioned the sometimes overwhelming attention her daughter Hope gets at church. Because Hope is a sort of celebrity to these people who’ve all participated in her adoption and followed her parents’ journey, they feel like they know her. Hope though doesn’t know them at all. Too many strangers expecting hugs and smiles, saying your name like you should know theirs–that’s my own personal version of torment.
Let’s also be thoughtful about the way we talk to adopted kids about their families and the way we talk to our kids about their friends who’re adopted. Remember:
• An adopted child’s parent is his or her parent–no need to verbally distinguish between biological or adopted. Similarly all the children are a parents’ children–no need to distinguish between biological and adopted.
• For your kids, there’s no reason to make a big deal out of a friend’s being adopted. Dwelling on difference divides. You might, however, dispel some of the myths kids believe about adoption, primarily that (1) all kids live in orphanages like the one in Peter Pan before they get adopted and (2) all orphans are abandoned by parents who either died or don’t love them.
That’s the list. For sure there are a hundred more ways you could get involved in actively and passionately loving orphans, but this is a good start. If you have thoughts to add PLEASE do so by leaving a comment below.
Thanks to Lauren, Katie Beth and Leann for their wisdom and their example. Go forth and love well, friends.  

Divorce, Remarriage and Honoring God

Divorce, Remarriage and Honoring God

Divorce, Remarriage, and Honoring God
“This is a question then for almost every Christian.”
Given your outspoken position on divorce and remarriage, we get a lot of questions in the inbox on this front. Here’s one from a podcast listener named Lisa. “Dear Pastor John, I read your long article about divorce and remarriage and agreed all along. Near the end you restated that only God can end a marriage. Yes. Then you went on to say that remaining in a second marriage is right. I noticed that you did not give Scripture to back that up. That’s where I no longer agreed. All the other scriptures seemed to only prove marriage to be impossible to end. Are there any passages to suggest that a divorced spouse should remain in their second marriage?”
It is important to point out that this question that is being asked is a question everyone has to face, not just me with my conservative view of divorce and remarriage. It is a question that everyone has to face, except those who think that all divorce and remarriage is biblical. If you have any limits at all in your view of divorce and remarriage, you will sooner or later meet a couple who has transgressed even your limits and are in a marriage that they should not have entered—that you think they should not have not entered, not just me.
So, this is a question then for almost every Christian. If the marriage that you are in was entered wrongfully, you shouldn’t have entered it. Should you stay in it? That is the question. And my answer is: Yes. Repent honestly before God, to each other and to him. Admit it should not have happened. Ask for forgiveness from each other and from God, perhaps from former spouses. And then keep your promises that you made to each other when you made your vows, rather than a second time breaking your word. And Lisa’s question is: Are there texts for that opinion? I mean, you are just saying that, Piper. What about the Bible? And I want to say here: I could be wrong about this. I could be drawing inferences from texts illegitimately. But there do seem to me to be three or four or more pointers in this direction in the Bible, and I will give them to Lisa now.
1) In Joshua 9 there is the story of the Gibeonites who, you may remember, hear about Joshua and the Israelites destroying cities, and they don’t want to be destroyed. So, they know they are going to be next on the list of destruction, so they pretend to be from a far away country, they lie to Joshua and they get him to promise that he will not kill them, because they are not in his territory. And Joshua makes a vow and swears to them before God that he won’t kill them. And then he finds out that they were lying to him. And it says in Joshua 9:19, “All the leaders said to all the congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them.’”
There are two reasons why they shouldn’t have entered this vow. One is because the Gibeonites were lying to them and two is because it says explicitly that they did not consult God—and God explicitly intended for the Gibeonites to be destroyed (see Joshua 9:14, 24). And now they are keeping the vow they never should have made under horrible circumstances, thus elevating the importance of promise-keeping or vow-keeping even when it was entered into wrongfully. And I am saying that perhaps suggests—I think it does suggest—that a vow you make to a person to be their husband or their wife till death do you part is not something to be taken lightly.
2) Jesus talked to the woman at the well in terms that suggest pretty strongly that he believed she had five genuine husbands and one non-genuine live-in. He put it like this: “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true’” (John 4:16–18).
Now, think about that. What does that imply?
It is true that the Greek—that includes this text here—does not have a different word for husband and man or husband and male. So, it could be translated: You have had five men and the man you now have is not your man. But even if you translate it that way, it doesn’t make sense unless you distinguish this sixth man from those other five in some way, because he says: This is not your man. Those were your men. This is not your man. This is not your husband. Those were your husbands. What was the difference? Well, the only thing I know to suggest is that they had somehow formalized the relationship in a ceremony in which they took some promises to create the relationship that was known as marriage—or husband and wife. So, it seems Jesus put some stock in calling those five men real husbands different from five live-in boyfriends that she never married.
3) Here is the third one. Interestingly enough, I was talking this over with all the team of the Together for the Gospel guys, and I won’t say who said it, but one of them, I thought, very provocatively pointed this out: Jesus does use the verb marry for what they should not do and do when he is forbidding them from doing it. Let me show you what I mean. “Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).
He doesn’t say whoever presumably marries or tries to marry. He says marries. He doesn’t say presumes to marry or tries to marry—as if, yes, this is a real marriage being created. It should not be created and it is like committing adultery when you enter it. He says a similar kind of thing in Mark 10:11–12. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
So, if Jesus is willing to call wrongfully entered relationships marriages, then it seems to me that we should hold people to the expectations of holiness and permanence implied in the word marriage, till death do us part. I take the warning that remarriage involves adultery, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,” not to mean that sexual relations in a wrongfully entered relationship can never be sanctified through repentance and forgiveness, but rather that an unholy relationship involves unholy sex until that relationship is newly consecrated to God through repentance and forgiveness. That relationship remains tainted at every level.
4) One last thought. If this seems strange that a prohibited relationship can become a consecrated and holy one, consider the example—and there are several in the Bible—of the kingship of Israel. The people came to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:6–7 and said, “‘Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’” And yet, in spite of this evil origin of this new relationship of king and people and God, God made the kingship an integral part of his plan for Jesus to come as the King of kings and Lord of lords and as the Son of David.
So, for those four reasons, examples, kinds of texts in the Scripture, I would appeal to those in a marriage they should not have entered to remain there and consecrate themselves by confession and repentance and consecration so that henceforth they will keep their sacred promises.  

A Dangerous Fairytale for Future Wives

A Dangerous Fairytale for Future Wives

Future Wives fairytail
What happens when reality doesn’t line up with our hopes and dreams?
As little girls we might have pretended to be a damsel in distress—held hostage by a fire-breathing dragon, and saved by a knight in shining armor. We grow out of pretending, but as women we still tend to gravitate toward romantic books and movies.
The thing we love most about a fairytale romance is the happy ending. No matter what the ups and downs, the guy and girl always make it in the end and achieve romantic bliss. It’s so neat and clean, and perfect. Yet, the romance books and movies are just pretend. They deliver us a modern fairytale: the American Dream that comes with a successful career, two children (a boy and a girl, of course), a faithful and devoted husband, good health, and an abundance of wealth and material possessions.
But what happens when reality doesn’t line up with our hopes and dreams? What if the real story of our life and marriage disappoints us? Is our knight in shining armor who we thought he was when we married him? Can he save us from the dragon?

The Married Have Not Arrived

The problem with translating a fairytale into our personal life is our unrealistic expectations. We want the happy ending in our own lives, and we think marriage will be that blessing. We expect the happy ending—sometimes even demand it. We all have a romance story playing in our head of what married life will be like, but eventually we’ll discover this fantasy world doesn’t match reality. Our lofty, fragile hopes and dreams are shattered. We’re hurt and confused by our husband’s sin (and our own). We never realized marriage could be so hard.
We love the romance books and movies—the fairytale—because our own love life can be a disappointment. We foolishly think we’ve finally “arrived” when we go from single to married. But God knows we’ve only just begun. We need to start seeing marriage through a different genre: the war movie.

Wartime Weddings

We all need a wartime mentality on the battlefield of marriage. When we move past the decisions of the wedding dress, the flowers, the meal options, we are faced with the daily decisions of living out our marriage vows. The sweet romantic bliss tasted on our wedding day is a real part of marriage—seasons and moments that should be treasured—but it’s the hard fought battles won with grace that sustain a marriage.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, the battle begins, not ends, when we make our vows. Our sinful desires will immediately rear up like a fire-breathing dragon. Satan will throw his grenade of lies at our feet. We will have to watch our step, lest we set off his explosive land mines hidden in our own homes. Many times it’s our own unrealistic expectations in marriage that blind us from seeing the bullets flying all around us. We must let go of the childish fairytale, and ask God to open our eyes to the spiritual warfare in our marriage, the battle in which we must fight for faith.

Satan’s Hope for Your Marriage

Satan wants to tear apart the beautiful gospel picture in marriage: the representation of Christ’s sacrificial love for his bride, the church. The enemy will stop at nothing to destroy any image or reflection of Christ in this world. He knows unrealistic expectations in marriage might help him kill what God loves. So, he tries to cheat us by selling us short on what God intends for marriage.
Satan wants us to think marriage is about fulfilling our unmet needs and desires, living the dream sold in romance novels, checking off a box or finally getting our lives together. He’s slowly, gently rocking us into an apathetic sleep, so that we’ll settle for less. We must wake up and see how our unrealistic expectations set the bar way too low. Our desires are too small when we place ultimate hope in our husband or marriage itself. Our expectations should rise as God uses our unmet expectations—and the resulting disappointment and hurt—to drive us to himself. Marriage is a road that brings us to the greater destination: God himself.

A Love Story Larger Than Marriage

You see, we really do desire the fairytale over the war movie, because deep down we know it is true. We know there is a knight in shining armor who will slay the dragon for us, who will beat all the odds and win the war, who will pursue us in our distress and save us. Like Snow White’s prince, whose kiss brought the princess back to life, so God gives us his divine kiss of life through Jesus.
Our knight in shining armor is a carpenter from Bethlehem; and he never disappoints. We think our marriages are meant to suit us and our little earthly desires, but our marriages are really part of a bigger story God is telling through his Son. Our expectations must be shaped by treasuring Christ. Only then will we stop pretending and engage in a wartime mentality toward marriage.  
Liz Wann

Liz Wann

Liz Wann has a B.A. in English and writing from Rollins College. She now lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and two little boys. She writes at, while being a stay-at-home mom.