Search our Blog contents

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Someone Else Gets what We Want

source:Crosswalk Women

When Someone Else Gets what We Want

Nicole Whitacre and Carolyn Mahaney

Nicole: What do we do with a good, yet unfulfilled longing that won't go away? First, we thank God that by His mercy we desire one of His good gifts.

However, we must also regulate our desires. We must not love or long for one of God's good gifts more than we love or long for God Himself. If we do, then we have essentially made an idol out of this good desire and we are worshipping it instead of God. As teacher David Powlison paraphrases the eminent John Calvin: "The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want but that we want it too much."

One sure indicator as to whether or not a good desire has morphed into an idol is how we respond when someone else gets the very thing that we want but don't have. When a close friend--who was perfectly happy to be single--up and gets married, and we are, literally, left behind. Or when, as is the case for a friend of mine, we know five other girls who are pregnant and we are not.

And what about the woman who gets married younger than us, whose job is more glamorous than ours, whose house is bigger than ours, whose marriage is better than ours, whose life is easier than ours, whose children are more well-behaved than ours, whose popularity is brighter than ours, whose intelligence is greater than ours? Need I go on?

Envy is a sin common to women. But do we always see it for the rancid evil that it is? Several months ago, I found myself envying another woman's happiness. My husband encouraged me to study the topic of envy, and gave me some material to read. In the course of my study, the following string of thoughts by Cornelius Plantinga hit me straight between the eyes. Buckle your seat belt, for these are hard, yet necessary words.

"What an envier wants is not, first of all, what another has; what an envier wants is for another not to have it...The envier has empty hands and therefore wants to empty the hands of the envied. Envy, moreover, carries overtones of personal resentment; an envier resents not only somebody else's blessing but also the one who has been blessed" (emphasis mine).

Upon reading those words, I didn't want to admit that was me, that what I actually wanted was to empty someone else's hands. But that was the truth of it. A good desire gone bad is often characterized by these wicked motives.

No wonder Scripture commands us to "Put away all...envy!" (1 Pet. 2:1) What wretched women we are! And yet, as Paul exclaims, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom 7:25) We who have repented of our sins and put our trust in Christ are no longer bound by the sin of envy. We can receive forgiveness and cleansing and grace to change--grace to truly rejoice with those who have been blessed!

How do we get there? Mom will share a biblical strategy for overcoming envy.

A Battle Plan for Fighting Envy

Carolyn: "So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation--if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good....Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:1-3, 11; emphasis mine).

Nicole helped us take a good hard look at the sin of envy in our hearts. Today, I want to encourage us to do battle against this "passion of the flesh." As I Peter 2:11 tells us, envy is already waging war against our soul--the question is whether or not we are going to fight back!

Here is a simple (not easy mind you) yet effective strategy for going on the offensive against envy:

1. Pray daily for the person we are tempted to envy. Persistent envy can be overcome with persistent prayer. We will find it is very difficult to go on envying someone for whom we are regularly asking God to bless and prosper.

2. Study and meditate on God's Word. We should direct our spiritual study to better understand and mortify the sin of envy. Let's consider verses such as Psalm 73, Proverbs 14:30, Proverbs 23:7, I Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, and 1 Peter 2 and many more.

Also, I want to highly recommend one of Jonathan Edwards's sermons on envy which you can read online here.

3. Eagerly rejoice with and reach out to the one we are tempted to envy. The temptation to withdraw and avoid--in order to spare ourselves pain--is simply selfishness. Therefore, we need to purpose not to withdraw relationally. Isolation in heart and action will only become a hotbed for bitterness and resentment to flourish.

When we put this battle plan into action, do you know what will happen? We will, gradually, over time, weaken the sin of envy in our lives. It won't happen in one glorious moment or after a couple of tries. But gradually, the sin of envy will lose its power and influence.

So let us not give up, even if the fight is intense. Jonathan Edwards in his famous Resolutions, "Resolved never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be."

Regardless of whether we feel like we are winning the fight against envy. Regardless of how much of a challenge it continues to be, let us never slacken our fight. For it is God "who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).

This article was adapted from "Girl Talk" - a blog kept by Carolyn and her three daughters for women in all seasons of life.

Carolyn Mahaney is a wife, mother, homemaker, and the author of Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood and Shopping for Time: How To Do It All and Not Be Overwhelmed (written with her daughters) due out in July. During her more than 30 years as a pastor's wife, Carolyn has spoken to women in many churches and conferences, including those of Sovereign Grace
Ministries, which her husband, C.J., leads. C.J. and Carolyn have three married daughters and one fourteen-year-old son, Chad.

Nicole Whitacre is the oldest daughter of C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney, as well as a wife, mother, and homemaker. She assisted her mother with Feminine Appeal, and is the co-author of Girl Talk. Nicole and her husband Steve--who is a youth pastor at Sovereign Grace Church--have one son Jack, 4 and a newborn daughter Tori.

Kristin Chesemore and her husband Brian are the busy parents of three boys. Andrew is seven, Liam is four, and Owen is three. In the little spare time she does have, Kristin supports Brian in his role as a pastor in Family Life Ministries at Covenant Life Church.

Janelle Bradshaw has been married to her husband Mike for four years and they have a beautiful daughter Caly, 1. Mike serves as a pastor in Children's Ministry at Covenant Life Church.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

13 Ways to Pursue More of Jesus...Continued

Whitney Hopler Contributing Writer


Pursue more of His hope in your grief.

Jesus has given you the hope of heaven in your grief. Let the promise of heaven sharpen your focus to help you see that any difficult situation you're going through now is temporary compared to a joyful eternity with Jesus. Look forward to the reality of seeing Jesus face to face and enjoying the company of loved ones who have gone before you, when it's your time to go to heaven.


Pursue more of His fruit in your service. If your service for God lacks the fruit of changed lives, you don't have to try harder, pray more, or claim greater territory in service. Instead, you should examine your personal relationship with Jesus to see how closely you're connected to Him. It's the quality of your connection to Jesus that will determine whether or not you'll have the power to bear good fruit for His kingdom. The fruit you bear isn't produced through your own efforts; it's produced by the Holy Spirit through you as you consistently rely on God. Jesus is the Vine and you are the branches. God may sometimes choose to prune you to bear good fruit by cutting out of your life everything you depend on – except your relationship with Jesus. When you're forced to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus because that's all you have, your connection to the Vine gets bigger, empowering you to produce more fruit. Trust God when He prunes the branches of your life; He knows what's best to help you grow. Pray for greater fruitfulness in your service, asking God t conform you more closely to the image of Jesus, use you to make others want to know Him better, give you opportunities to share His Gospel and give you the fruit of changed lives as a result, draw others to Himself through a Bible study you lead, or give you one person to share His love with today.


Pursue more of His love in your home. As you give Jesus more of your heart, He will fill it with more of His love, and that will overflow into the lives of the people with whom you interact each day. When you let God's love flow through you, it will empower you to love even those people who are difficult for you to love – those whose personalities or behavior makes them seem completely incompatible with you. Rather than just avoiding or tolerating difficult people, choosing to show God's love to them will bless you in the process because God will use them to grind off the weak edges of your character to make you stronger. Ask Jesus to help you love people sacrificially, as He does. Instead of choosing to love only people who meet your needs, whom you get along with, who make you feel good, who do things for you, who give you things you want, whom respond with love, and whom you like, choose to demonstrate love to everyone, regardless of whether or not you like them and how they respond to you. When you love someone sacrificially, your act of love then becomes an act of worshiping Jesus.


Pursue more of His courage in your convictions. Be willing to stand out and speak up for Jesus in all areas of your life, and with whoever you meet. Take a strong public stand for the uniqueness of who Jesus is; for the truth of the entire Bible; and for the necessity of living a life of integrity, purity, and humility in order to please God. Rather than living a lifestyle that simply blends in with that of non-believers, show people the difference that your relationship with Jesus makes in your attitudes and actions. Pray for the courage you need to stand by biblical convictions when others pressure you to be complacent or politically correct. Ask the Holy Spirit to use all of your conversations with others to glorify God in whatever ways He guides you to do so. No matter how much pressure you encounter to compromise your convictions, decide that you will never give up, shut up, or let up, because of your love for Jesus.


Pursue more of His nearness in your loneliness. When you feel lonely, remember that Jesus is always with you. Pray for more awareness of His presence close to you, and take comfort in it. Although other people may sometimes disappoint you or abandon you, Jesus will always be there for you. Remember that Jesus is much more than just a man, prophet, teacher, revolutionary, icon, or symbol. Jesus is God Himself – and He loves you!


Pursue more of His answers to your prayers. It's an incredible privilege to be able to go directly to God at any time and in any place with your prayers. Jesus has promised that when you ask Him for anything according to His will and believing in His power to act, He will answer. Whenever your prayers seem to go unanswered or turn out the opposite of what you asked God to do (such as when you pray for your career and get laid off or when you pray for a loved one's healing and he or she dies), trust God anyway. Remember that His ways are not your ways, and He will act according to what's best from His unlimited perspective on every situation.


Pursue more of His glory on your knees. Embrace God's purpose for your life single-mindedly and wholeheartedly. Stay focused on what God wants for your life, and do all you can to fulfill that purpose well. Let your determination to do the work God has for you to do lead you to make wise choices like: less sleep and more prayer, less TV and more study, less shopping and more tithing, less eating and more exercise, less talking and more listening, or less work and more worship. Serve God faithfully to glorify Him every day.


Adapted from Pursuing More of Jesus, copyright 2009 by Anne Graham Lotz. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn.,
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the President and CEO of AnGeL Ministries, a non-profit organization that undergirds her efforts to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through His Word. She is the award-winning author of 10 books, including
Just Give Me Jesus and I Saw the LORD. Anne has spoken on seven continents, in more than 20 foreign countries, proclaiming the word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and even prisons.

13 Ways to Pursue More of Jesus

Whitney Hopler Contributing Writer

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Anne Graham Lotz's new book, Pursuing More of Jesus, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).


Every day presents a fresh opportunity to pursue a closer relationship with Jesus – and the more you have of Jesus in your life, the better your life will be. So don't settle for just occasional encounters with Jesus in some parts of your life. Keep pursuing more of Jesus until your whole life is saturated with His power.


Here's how you can pursue more of Jesus:


Go for the maximum, not the minimum. Choose to go after more than just the bare minimum God has to offer you. Make your faith about more than just trying to escape hell and get your ticket punched to heaven. Invite God to completely transform you: bending your will, awakening your conscience, breaking your heart, transforming your mind, overcoming your prejudices, soaring in your spirit, and conforming you into His glorious image.


Pursue more of His voice in your ear. Out of the many voices you hear speaking to you each day – through other people, circumstances, etc. – you need to learn how to discern what's truly God speaking and what's not. Keep in a mind that any authentic message from God is biblical (straight from God's Word), personal (in the language of your own life), and powerful (resulting in lives either changed for the better or saved). If someone claims to have a message from God for you, test it by making sure that it's in accord with and confirmed by the Bible. Remember Jesus' promise that He would go ahead of you to guide you in every situation. Learn how to recognize Jesus' voice by getting to know the Bible well (reading it, studying it, understanding it, applying it, and living by it) and then trust His guidance when making decisions.


Pursue more of His tears on your face. Jesus understands and cares when you're crying tears of pain. Remember how much He suffered on the Cross, and see your own sufferings as opportunities to draw closer to Jesus. No matter what you're going through – the loss of a job, a friend's betrayal, a health crisis, a spouse's unfaithfulness, a child's rebellion – Jesus is crying along with you and will meet you in the middle of your suffering with His presence.


Pursue more of His praise on your lips. It's easy to praise Jesus when your life is going well, but Jesus is still worthy of praise even when problems and pressures darken your circumstances. Make the deliberate, conscious choice to praise Jesus every day, no matter what, to honor Jesus and learn how to walk by reliable faith instead of shifting feelings. Praise Jesus for who He is by frequently thinking of one His many wonderful attributes and thanking Him for it. Praise Jesus for what He has done by thanking Him for specific blessings in your life on a regular basis. Real praise is affirming your faith even in the midst of desperation when you choose to cling to Jesus alone.


Pursue more of His death in your life. Death produces power that leads to more blessings in life. Just as Jesus died on the Cross so you could be spiritually alive, He wants you to die to your own desires and yield to His desires for you so you can experience the best life possible. God uses pressures, problems, and pain in your life as nails to pin you to cross of your own. If you submit to Him while you go through them, you experience what it's like to die to yourself so God's power can live through you. Every kind of brokenness you experience can lead to a corresponding blessing if you're willing to die to your own: will, goals, dreams, desires, expectations, plans, rights, and reputation. If you choose to die to yourself, God will pour out blessings like a character that reflects His own, a witness that leads to other people's lives being transformed, and rewards from God himself.


Pursue more of His dirt on your hands. Just as Jesus was willing to get His hands dirty serving others willingly, humbly, obediently, and gladly, He expects you to do the same. Choose to serve other people whenever God calls you to – even when it's not convenient or when you're struggling with serious problems of your own. Shift your focus from yourself to Jesus and the people He wants you to serve. In the process, your own problems will become more manageable. Never view yourself as being above any particular type of service – changing diapers, mowing grass, making coffee, visiting prisoners, etc.. When you do any task that God calls you to do, your work – no matter how humble – will become important because you're answering God's call.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the sad plight of women: The Stoning of Soraya M.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The Stoning of Soraya M.

Chuck Colson
June 25, 2009


A woman is marched out of her small Iranian village, her arms are bound behind her back, and she is buried up to her waist in the sand. The villagers—including her own father, husband, and sons—fling stones at her, showing no sympathy or compassion as the blood runs down her face and soaks through her clothes. They stone her until they're certain she's dead, and then they leave her body on the ground for the wild dogs.


This is what audiences will see in the film The Stoning of Soraya M., made by the filmmaking team behind The Passion of the Christ. It opens in limited release on June 26. I haven't given away any plot twists or surprises—the title of the film tells you all you need to know.


The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on a true story; in fact, you may have read the bestselling book when it came out in 1994. Journalist Freidoune Sahebjam was traveling through Iran when he came upon the village where Soraya had lived and died. He learned about Soraya and her cruel fate from her aunt.


Sahebjam's book gave Soraya a voice from beyond the grave, making her a spokeswoman for all women who have suffered under radical Islam.


Soraya was 35 years old, a wife and mother of seven children, when her husband, Ghorban-Ali, decided to marry a 14-year-old girl. But it would cost him too much to support two families.


Soraya's only crime was being what was called "an inconvenient wife," for standing in the way of her husband's second marriage. For that crime, Ghorban-Ali determined, she had to die. He brought a false accusation of adultery, and with the support of their friends, neighbors, and family, Soraya was sentenced to death.


Soraya's story shocked the world when it was published. At that time, little was known in the outside world about a system that said that an accused wife had to prove her innocence, but if a husband were accused, his wife had to prove his guilt. We must remember that these grave injustices, like what happened to Soraya, are still happening today.


In a review of the movie, Carl Cannon writes, "Soraya M's brutal execution occurred more than two decades ago, but it was only last October that a girl barely into her teens was stoned to death in a stadium in the Somalian port city of Kismayo." Cannon relates that she was accused of adultery, and that her age was given as 23.


However, according to Amnesty International, she was just 13. Cannon writes, "She came into the custody of an Islamic militia when she had the temerity to report to authorities that she had been gang-raped. Her three attackers were not charged. The girl was publicly murdered before 1,000 cheering spectators. Her name was Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow." 


This is barbarism. And it's the result of a belief system that ignores the humanity of every person. This is why Christians, who believe in the sanctity of every human life created in the image of God, must fight and keep fighting for the rights of women like Soraya and Aisha—and why we must open the eyes of the world to this dreadful inhumanity.


Visit and click on this commentary to find out if The Stoning of Soraya M. will be playing at a theater near you. You'll also find links to ministry resources based on the film.


Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

How Do You Last In Ministry?

How Do You Last In Ministry?

by Rick Warren

Ministry is a marathon: it's not how you start in ministry; it's how you finish. If you look at 2 Corinthians 4:1-18, Paul gives seven suggestions for finishing the race:

(v. 1) Remember God's mercy: God has given us our ministries. We don't have to prove our worth through our ministry, and we don't have to wallow in our mistakes. You don't have to earn your place as a pastor or leader in the church.


(v. 2) Be truthful and honest in all you do: Maintain your integrity because integrity produces power in your life, while guilt zaps your energy. You need to finish with your character intact. Your integrity includes how you handle the Word of God. Don't distort it or make it confusing.


(v. 5) Be motivated to work for Jesus' sake, not out of selfish desires: We need a right motivation. A lot of guys start off as servants and end up celebrities. You need to learn to live your life for an audience of one, and that one is Jesus Christ.


(v. 7) Realize that Christians are only human: We must accept our limitations, and the quickest way to burn out is to try to be Superman. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses.


(v. 15) Develop a true love for others: Churches thrive, grow and survive when love endures. You must love people or you won't last in the ministry.


(v. 16) Allow time for inward rejuvenation: I have a motto -- Divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually. You need to take time for recharging. In the Air Force, they've mastered the art of mid-flight refueling. You can too – you don't have to land every time you need to refuel.


(v. 17-18) Stay focused on the important things, not distracted by momentary troubles: Keep your eyes on the goal, not the problem. Only he who sees the invisible can accomplish the impossible. To be a winner in the marathon of ministerial service, Christians need to realize great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. If we run from problems, we'll never be able to become what God wants us to become.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hope for Your Struggling Teenager

Mark Gregston
When you're struggling with a wayward teenager, it can seem as though your world is being turned upside down. Everything you've planned and hoped for in the child's life appears to be fading away. In essence, you feel like a failure.

It is common for such parents to have sleepless nights... finger-pointing arguments... tears... and stress far beyond what they've ever experienced before.  The energetic little boy who was so fun... or the sweet little girl who used to be full of hugs... has become someone totally different, and is teetering on the edge of disaster. It's enough to make you lose all hope.

Over the past 30 years, my wife Jan and I have spent countless hours with teens and their parents, and we've seen God do some incredible, amazing things. And what I have learned is this: Because God is faithful, there is hope. There is hope for your teen... and there is hope for your family... no matter how desperate the situation may seem.

First of all, hope can be found by focusing on God's promises and seeking support from other caring believers. Search God's Word and let it speak hope into your life. Get into a small group of other parents going through something similar to what you're experiencing.

There's nothing like having a crowd of people around you who are in the same boat trying to bail. Many times, people get involved in small groups just to talk. I would encourage you to get into a small group so you can also listen. When all you know to do isn't working, the counsel of others might spark some new ideas or directions with your teen. There is wisdom and comfort in the presence of many.
Second, hope can be found by pinpointing possible underlying triggers of the problem. You see, good kids generally don't make bad choices or hang out with the wrong crowd unless something else is bothering them. Knowing what those triggers may be -- usually a loss or damage in their life of some sort -- can help you better understand why your teen is acting the way they do.

This isn't to justify the behavior, but to better understand it.  Pinpointing the cause of the struggle will help you realize that your teen isn't necessarily choosing a lifestyle or turning away from you or your values at this point. They are simply responding to or covering up the hurts that they feel by grasping onto new things that their culture says will bring them joy, pleasure and satisfaction.

Third, hope can be found by tightening the boundaries. Just because someone is lost, hurt, or damaged doesn't give him or her license to destroy you or your home, or constantly disrupt your family. When a teen has lost his way, he doesn't know where he is, much less where he is going, so any attempt to get him somewhere or keep him from heading down a path of trouble is usually met with resistance. Parents can spend all the time they want telling their teen that the path he is on will take him somewhere he doesn't want to be, but it will usually have little effect. 

So establish solid boundaries, which will give your teen a road map.  He'll then know what to expect if he sways off the road.  It also helps take some of the parental emotion and anger out of the equation.
And fourth, hope can be found through taking time to build a stronger relationship with your teen.  Begin with a conversation of restoration.  You do this by admitting where you may have been wrong as well. Tell your teen where you've made mistakes and how you'd like to relate differently in the future. Sharing your failures just might give her the motivation and example she needs to do the same, though usually not right away.

Require that you do something fun together (fun to the teen, not necessarily you) once every week and then let the conversation flow naturally. It may take several weeks of outings before anything is said by the teen, but keep it up. This approach conveys the message that you can still love your child even though she is a mess, even though she is making mistakes and being hurtful. It lets her know that you can love her when she has it all together, and you can love her when she doesn't. Isn't this what we all desire?

You can rest assured that God is pursuing your child just as intensely as you are. And He won't stop until your wayward one is found. God says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). God has not left what He is building. This doesn't mean you can just sit back and let God do all the work. He's going to use you in that process. As an old Russian proverb says, "Pray to God, but keep rowing to shore."

Mark Gregston is the host of Parenting Today's Teens radio and the Founder and Executive Director of Heartlight Ministries, a residential counseling program for struggling teens which can be reached at 903-668-2173.

Ten 'CAN'-mandments

by Rick Warren

In our Devotionals series, Pastor Rick Warren discusses the Bible passages that inspire him the most. Today's Devotional is based on this passage:
"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13 NIV).

So often we think of commandments as a list of don'ts. Instead of focusing on what we can't do, let's start looking at what we can with this list of ten "can"-mandments!
1. Instead of thinking, "It will never fly," think, "Through God's strength, it's worth the try!"
2. Replace the thought, "It won't work," with faith that, with God's strength, it will work!
3. When someone says, "It's never been done before," respond by saying, "That means God's giving us the opportunity to be the first."
4. "What if we fail?" What if we fail to try, knowing God says we can do everything through Him who gives us strength?
5. "We don't have the money." Where God guides, he provides so that we can do everything he has called us to do.
6. "We don't have the time!" Perhaps God is telling us to re-evaluate our priorities as we rely upon his direction and strength.
7. "We don't have the expertise." Maybe not, but we can learn as God directs our path.
8. "It's been tried before." But we're wiser now because we know we can do everything when we rely on God's strength instead of our own.
9. If someone says, "There are so many problems with it," respond by saying, "Yet, there are so many possibilities when we're trusting God instead of ourselves."
10. Instead of saying, "It's not working out," say instead, "Let's try it one more time, but this time focused on God and the truth that we can do this through Him who gives us strength."
"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse" (Philippians 4:8 MSG).

news: Church of Sweden Elects Lesbian Bishop


June 2, 2009

UPPSALA, Sweden (RNS/ENI) -- The newly-elected Lutheran bishop of Stockholm says that being a lesbian means she wants to stand alongside people who feel powerless.

"I know what it is to be called into question," the Rev. Eva Brunne said in an article on the Web site of the Church of Sweden after her Tuesday (May 26) election. "I am in the lucky situation that I have power and I can use it for the benefit of those who have no power."

Brunne, who is currently the dean of the Stockholm diocese, is the first Church of Sweden bishop to live in a registered homosexual partnership, the Uppsala-headquartered church said, and she is believed to be the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.

Brunne, 55, lives with priest Gunilla Linden in a partnership that has received a church blessing. They have a three-year-old son.

"Once you have been baptized, no one can say you cannot be part of the Church because you are homo-, bi-, or transsexual," the Web site of the French periodical Ttu quoted Brunne as saying.
She clinched the post by 413 votes against 365 votes for Hans Ulfvebrand; she will succeed Bishop Caroline Krook, who is to retire in November.

In 2003, the consecration of a V. Eugene Robinson, an openly gay man who lives with a male partner, as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire triggered a deep division and threatened a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Lutheran churches throughout the world hold different views about matters of human sexuality, including the acceptance of homosexuals in church life and blessings for same-sex relationships.
The Church of Sweden, which offers a special blessing for same-sex couples, has faced criticism from some other Lutheran churches, particularly those in African countries.

Copyright 2009 Religion News Service and Ecumenical News International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Confront People without Offending Them

by Whitney Hopler of Crosswalk


A husband who won't help his wife with household chores. A spendthrift woman who's constantly trying to borrow money from her friends. A boss with an anger problem who alienates his employees. A grandma who's tired of being asked to babysit so often that she doesn't have enough time to herself. These are just a few examples of the many issues that, if not dealt with, can permanently damage relationships.


All too often, people either avoid conflict or deal with it in clumsy, ineffective ways. Such approaches only make conflicts worse. But if you follow God's call to confront people without offending them, you can resolve conflicts, strengthen relationships, and grow personally in the process.


Here's how you can confront people without offending them:


Aim for a goal. Before confronting someone, clarify what you hope to achieve through the confrontation. Retaliation should never be your goal. If you have a vengeful attitude, confess it and ask God to cleanse your thoughts toward the person you want to confront.


Aim to use a confrontation to resolve whatever issue is causing conflict between you and the other person. Consider what specific outcome you'd like to see result from the confrontation – having someone stop a negative behavior, start a positive behavior, or make some other change – and keep that goal in mind when you confront the person.



Confront whether you're the offended or the offender. God wants you to try to resolve conflict through confrontation whether someone else has offended you or whether you've offended someone. If you've been offended, don't repress your feelings; that will only lead to bitterness that will poison your soul and express itself in unhealthy ways in your life.


If you've offended someone, remember that it's your responsibility to take action toward reconciliation. Work to overcome excuses and defensiveness no matter what the situation. Be willing to confront to try to work out the issue, since God has given you a mandate to initiate reconciliation whether you are the offended or the offender.



Understand different conflict management styles. Dictators handle conflict by charging, commanding, demanding, directing, imposing, mandating, ordering, proclaiming, ruling, calling the shots, and laying down the law. Sometimes that style is necessary because moral values are at stake or the common good is being threatened. But often, dictators need to focus more on hearing and valuing other people's input.


Accommodators handle conflict through adapting, adjusting, conforming, indulging, obliging, pleasing, or accommodating to other people's needs and desires. Accommodators are good at listening, which is a key skill in working through conflicts. But they need to learn to set boundaries to let others know that their negative or insensitive behavior toward them is not acceptable.


Abdicators handle conflict by retreating, bowing out, quitting, stepping down, separating themselves from situations, dropping out, walking away, abandoning, resigning, surrendering, or yielding. But by running away, abdicators make it impossible to resolve their conflicts. They need to express their needs through "I" statements that tell others what they feel when they experience the behavior that's causing the conflict and explain what they'd like to see happen.


Collaborators deal with conflict in the healthiest way, through cooperating, joining forces, uniting, pulling together, participating, and co-laboring to find a way to resolve the issue. Consider what style you tend to use the most, and think and pray about how you can better work with others as a collaborator. Do you need to be more respectful of authority, value other people's input more, or communicate more clearly? Try to choose the collaborator style as often as possible when managing conflict.



Prepare for the encounter. Before you confront someone, first be honest about why you've decided to confront him or her about the issue. Do you have an ulterior motive (such as trying to make the person feel guilty) or do you want to see a genuine change in behavior? Remind yourself that your goal should be to resolve a specific issue for God's glory.


Choose the right time and place for the confrontation, and try to make sure that you talk with the person when you all can be alone instead of in front of others. Pray to prepare your heart and mind before the confrontation.



Own the problem. Speak on your own behalf, explaining how the problem has affected you personally or how you perceive the issue rather than shifting the attention to other people's perspectives. Take responsibility for expressing your own thoughts and feelings clearly and directly to the person you're confronting.



Speak the right words. Pray for the wisdom to choose the words that will help you most effectively communicate with the person, and for the peace you need to deliver those words in a calm tone of voice. Describe specifically what you've observed or experienced, since being too general will make it easy for the person to deny wrongdoing or misinterpret your message.


For every negative statement you need to make while discussing the issue at hand, try to make a positive statement affirming the person's worth and your commitment to the relationship both before and after making the negative statement. That will help the person know that you are rejecting his or her behavior, but not him or her as a person.


When you criticize, do so constructively, giving the person information to help him or her solve the problem and being careful to preserve the person's dignity. Listen to the person with an open mind. Admit your own mistakes. Work with the person to find mutually agreeable ways to move forward.




Listen well. When you listen, you create an environment where the person you're confronting feels that he or she has been heard and his or her thoughts and feelings have been validated. That will motivate the person to try to resolve the conflict with you. Try to fully understand the person's intentions and objectives rather than jumping to conclusions. Verify facts before making accusations. Explain your own actions when the person has questions about them. Ask questions to clarify what the person is telling you; then paraphrase what you think the person has said to make sure you understand correctly.



Negotiate future behavior. Try to work out a mutual agreement on how to move forward after the confrontation. But keep in mind that the only behavior you have the power to change is your own.

Determine how much you're willing to compromise without violating your core values or self-respect to achieve harmony.



Forgive the offender. Let your gratitude for how much God has forgiven you motivate you to obey His call to forgive those who have offended you. Decide to forgive – despite your feelings – and rely on God's help to do so, trusting that your feelings will gradually change in the process.


While your decision to forgive should be immediate, restoring trust in your relationship with the offender is a process that may take a long time. For true restoration to take place, the offender must first repent and show consistent behavior that gives evidence of his or her change of heart. However, whether or not the person who has offended you ever apologizes or repents, you must forgive him or her to obey God's call and free your soul from the poison of bitterness. If you're having difficulty choosing to forgive someone, pray for that person, and God will help you become more willing to forgive.


After you choose to forgive, stop rehearsing the offense in your mind. Leave it in the past and focus on your future.



Get to know various temperaments. Understand your own temperament and that of others influences how each of you naturally communicate. Figure out the needs, fears, preferences, and propensities toward certain behaviors that come naturally to yourself and other people. Keep that in mind to devise strategies with each person to improve the way you interact with him or her. 

Published May 22, 2009

Adapted from Confronting without Offending: Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict, copyright 2009 by Deborah Smith Pegues. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or.,      

Deborah Smith Pegues is an experienced certified public accountant, a Bible teacher, a speaker, and a certified behavioral consultant specializing in understanding personality temperaments. As well as the bestselling 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue (more than 300,000 sold), she has authored 30 Days to Taming Your Finances and 30 Days to Taming Your Stress. She and her husband, Darnell, have been married for nearly 30 years and make their home in California.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

10 Ways to Save a Marriage After an Affair

marriage resource from CW

Joe Beam

Love Path International


Divorce breaks the hearts of those involved — couples, children, parents, friends, church, and the heart of God. One of the greatest underlying events destroying marriages today is adultery. The following is a frank and spiritual message on things to do when the sin of adultery has occurred.


My fervent passion is in saving marriages and making them healthy and holy again. I encourage you to at least make a commitment not to remain at a disinterested distance when couples you love have their lives coming apart.


So let's get started.


To better understand extramarital affairs, I sorted them into three categories.


1. The Short-Lived Affair lasts from one night to several months and is primarily about sex. Subcategories included Revenge Affairs, Affairs of Opportunity (at the right place at the right time to do the wrong thing), Self-Esteem Booster Affairs, and more.


2. The Allowed Affair has become more prevalent with the graying of morality in our culture. It was once called "Swinging" and now its participants just call it "The Lifestyle."


3. The most difficult kind of affair to overcome is the Relationship Affair. It typically starts as friendship that evolves into shared emotions and eventually shared bodies. Those in Relationship Affairs usually are in love with each other. Madly in love.


This is why so many Relationship Affairs lead to divorce — no matter how strongly you tell the person that s/he is sinning and no matter how hard the abandoned spouse tries to save the marriage. Because of such passages as Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9, churches usually grant the offended spouse the right to start over with a new mate, and few blame him or her for moving on with life.


May I offer another possibility?


Wouldn't it be better for everyone — the cheated, cheater, children, church, and community — if there were a way to rescue the straying spouse, heal the hurts, and guide husband and wife back to a marriage of love and commitment? We in the marriage business know that if a marriage survives an affair, it will be stronger and more loving than it was before the affair.


Salvaging a marriage when a spouse is in love with someone else usually isn't accomplished by pointing the adulterer to scripture, logic, or consequences. If I had space, I'd explain why. The short version is that they are driven by strong and compelling emotions that they're convinced you don't understand. Therefore, they disregard you, along with your Bible, lectures, and piety. Very often they'll even tell you that God sent the lover to them.


So what do you do to save these marriages?


Based on my experience, I suggest the following to both the abandoned spouse and to all Christians attempting to help:



1. Believe that an affair, even an exceptionally strong Relationship/Love Affair, is not necessarily the end of a marriage. It may be, but it doesn't have to be. Don't give up. Keep praying and doing the right things, no matter how hopeless it may seem.


2. Don't beg, cajole, or attempt to manipulate the adulterer. S/he is already emotionally on edge; emotional actions from you exacerbate the situation. Be firm, but always loving and calm.


3. Don't try to convince him or her that the lover is a bad person or primarily responsible for the affair. That might work in a Short-Lived Affair. However, it typically causes a person in a Relationship Affair to develop an "us against the world" union with the lover.


4. Drag out any divorce proceedings as long as possible. The intense emotions involved with being "madly in love" last anywhere from six to thirty-six months. Though the straying spouse may become angry and try to manipulate the abandoned spouse into divorce ("I'll make things tougher for you if you don't go along with me ..."), the abandoned spouse should be strong, endure the other's wrath, and drag it out as long as possible. There is a very real possibility that the abandoning spouse will eventually lose the intensity of desire to be with the lover. Don't give up!


5. The abandoned spouse should demonstrate his or her ability to survive and prosper without the abandoning spouse. S/he must concentrate on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This accomplishes two things. 1) The abandoned spouse needs this for him- herself. 2) The abandoning spouse often is drawn back to the abandoned spouse when s/he continues to be strong and self-sufficient.


6. In fervent prayer, ask God to bring chaos, financial distress, and anything else He will do to cause pain as a result of the sinner's actions and to create circumstances so that it is difficult for him or her to continue in the affair.


7. The abandoned spouse should procure an attorney that will protect his or her rights, finances, and the like. The attorney should make the divorce as painful as possible — financially and otherwise — to the abandoning spouse while still protecting the interests of the abandoned spouse. Expect the abandoning spouse to react with anger. However, making sin have strong negative consequences is the right thing to do.


8. The church should practice discipline, though in our day and age that hasn't nearly the effect it had in biblical times. It's so easy now to walk down the street and go to another church. However, if done in love and compassion, it still may have the needed effect.


9. Practice intervention. (If you need more information on how to do this, email, and we'll send you a pdf with step by step details.)


10. Convince the straying spouse to take one last action before ending the marriage. Sometimes the abandoned spouse does this by offering a concession such as, "I'll give on this point in the divorce if you do this." Sometimes a friend, church leader, or even the person's child may convince him or her that, for conscience sake, s/he should do one more thing to see if there is any hope for the marriage.


In my weekend turnaround workshop for marriages in crisis, LovePath 911, we have many couples who come because someone convinced the abandoning spouse to attend for conscience sake or to get some concession. Over nearly a decade, we've witnessed one seemingly hopeless marriage after another turn around during that weekend. They don't have to want to be there; they just have to be there.


Whether you use our services, your own counselors, or someone else, the message is the same. We must not give up on marriages because we think that either spouse is beyond rescuing. Don't give up on the power of God and what He can do if only we do our parts.


Published May 7, 2009.

Joe Beam founded Love Path International (, an organization whose mission is to save marriage relationships even in cases of affairs, anger, dishonesty, loss of passion and other marriage problems. Joe and Love Path International provide marriage help ( to couples who are in danger of separation or divorce.

How to Get Your Life in Rhythm

Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note
: The following is a report on the practical applications of Bruce Miller's new book,
 Your Life in Rhythm, (Tyndale House Publishers, 2009).

The pressure of trying to keep every part of your life – work, relationships, church, recreation, and more – in balance each day only leads to frustration and burnout, no matter how hard you try. Meanwhile, all around you, the natural world moves in rhythms – from the seasons changing and the sun rising and setting to your heart beating and your lungs breathing.


If you stop the futile effort of trying to live in balance and instead live in harmony with life's natural rhythms, you'll accomplish what matters most with less stress and guilt.


Here's how you can get your life in rhythm:


Get off the balance beam. It's unrealistic to give proportionate effort to every dimension of your life every day, because life doesn't stay the same every day. Life is dynamic – constantly changing – and to live well, you need to adapt to those changes. Trying to live a balanced life puts an impossible burden on you, and you'll struggle to keep up with all the daily demands. No matter how hard you try, you'll end up feeling frustrated that you're not spending as much time with your spouse and kids as you should, not keeping up with your friendships enough, not meeting all your work deadlines, not serving enough in church, not maintaining your house and yard well, etc. So free yourself from our culture's pressure to live a balanced life.


Appreciate life's natural rhythms. God has planned the right times for everything. Sometimes it's time to work hard; sometimes it's time to rest and recover. Sometimes it's time to grieve; sometimes it's time to celebrate. Certain days, weeks, and months are different from others, just as you go through different stages of life, from infancy to old age. Rather than trying to achieve the same balance regardless of what time it is for you, focus on one season at time.


Create a life mission statement. Think and pray about why you're alive and what you should do with your life. Then write down a mission statement that will guide you to live intentionally. It will help you make the most of your time by giving you boundaries within which your life's rhythms can flow.






Become a wise steward. Take stock of who and what God has made you responsible for – from being a good parent to your kids, to being a good employee on the job. Keep your stewardship responsibilities in mind when making decisions about how to use your time well during every season of your life.


Pay attention to both cycles and seasons. The world is structured into five ongoing cycles (year, quarter, month, week, and day). In addition, you go through a variety of different seasons in your life that make it either the right or wrong time for certain activities – from the birth of a child and the death of a parent, to starting a new job and getting laid off. Rather than exhausting yourself trying to do everything in balance at the same time, aim to do various activities in rhythm at different times.


Live in sync with your current life stage. All of your time is ultimately in God's hands, so ask Him for the wisdom you need to understand what's appropriate and what's not for the life stage you're in now. How old are you? What's your marital status? Do you have kids, and if so, what stage of life are they in? Have recent changes just affected your life in profound ways – from the diagnosis of a serious illness, to a move or the start of a new job? Once you understand what distinct time of life you're in right now, you can figure out how to live well within that stage.


Release unrealistic expectations. You can increase your peace by letting go of expectations that don't fit your current rhythms. Rather than trying to live in a different season than the one you're in – like single people who wish they were married or young people who wish they were older – trust that God has placed you in this particular life stage right now for a good reason and decide to live fully while you're in it. You're right where God wants you to be for now, so make the most of it.


Seize opportunities. Enjoy the blessings of your current season by seizing the opportunities God brings your way to learn and grow to the fullest. Live in the present, without pining over a past season gone by or demanding that the next season start before its right time in the future. Don't resent the challenges of the season you're going through now. Instead, pray for God to give you His perspective on it so you can notice the abundance of opportunities it presents. For example, if you have to rehabilitate from an injury right now, don't focus on your physical limitations, but appreciate the extra time you have for personal reflection and activities you may not have had time for before, such as catching up with old friends or taking a class that interests you.


Anticipate what's next. Whenever you feel stuck in your current life stage, remember that it won't last forever. There will be an end to changing diapers when your kids grow older. You'll soon graduate from college and be done with the pressure of constantly taking exams and writing papers. Increase your hope by anticipating the next season in your life. While it's true that you can't predict with certainty what will happen in the future, you can anticipate what life stage you'll likely enter next, and look forward to it. Use the power of anticipation as motivation to complete your current responsibilities well. Do your best for as long as you're in your current stage, so you can move into the next one with no regrets when the right time comes.



Pace yourself. Instead of trying to manage time, allow your life to flow in harmony with time's cycles. Pay attention to your biological clock, which tells you when your body needs food and sleep. Don't force yourself into an arbitrary schedule to try to balance your life; design your schedule around what's most natural for you. Release yourself from the pressure of all of your responsibilities coming to bear at one time. Figure out the most appropriate times for certain activities – such as paying bills at a convenient time once a month, instead of whenever they happen to show up in your mailbox – and arrange to do those activities at set times without worrying about them at other times. Consider how often you should do various activities – from going on a date with your spouse to doing laundry – and plan to do them at appropriate intervals rather than trying to do too much all at once.


Build life-enhancing rituals. Create healthy routines that are connected to some deeper meaning or significance and practice them regularly. Rituals can help you achieve your mission in every part of your life and renew you in the process. Come up with monthly rituals like visiting your grandparents every month, weekly rituals such as going to church each week, and daily rituals like exercising at a gym every day and eating dinner with your family each night. But stay flexible, always bearing in mind that your days will be different, so you may enjoy your rituals most days but not all days.


Oscillate between work and rest. Just as Jesus oscillated between times of intensity and renewal, so should you. Sometimes it's best to work hard; sometimes it's best to rest well. Be sure to give your full attention to whatever season you're in. When it's time to work, don't get distracted by other things. When it's time to rest, don't let work projects interfere. When deciding when it's best to either work or rest, be sure to keep in mind factors in your personality, such as whether you're an introvert or an extrovert and whether you have the most energy in the morning or the evening. Think through the best flow of an ideal day for you. When would you like to wake up and go to sleep? When would you tackle your most difficult jobs? When would you renew yourself? Then consider the best days of the week to do various tasks, as well as the best times of each month and year for other activities, like scheduling a conference to work or vacation to rest.


Keep eternity in view. Ask God to help you see your life from an eternal perspective so you can make the best decisions – ones that will use your time on earth to make a positive impact that will last forever. Make God your top priority, and place people as a higher priority than things, because people have eternal value, while things don't last. Invest deeply in your relationships, doing all you can to serve other people and bring honor to God. Constantly sort through your busyness to decide what really matters eternally, and focus on that as you live your life in rhythm.


Adapted from Your Life in Rhythm, copyright 2009 by Bruce B. Miller. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill.,
Bruce Miller is the founder and Senior Pastor at McKinney Fellowship. He has studied at University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at Dallas, and Dallas Theological Seminary, where he taught theology for four years. Bruce also speaks at, consults for, and founded the Center for Church Based Training, where he served as Chairman of the Board for 12 years. He is the co-author of
The Leadership Baton. Bruce and his wife, Tamara, have been blessed with five children – four boys and a girl. They reside in McKinney, Texas. 

Original publication date: May 18, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Balancing Children, Schedules, and Housework


Christine Field

Author, Attorney, and Home-School Mother

This is Part 2 of a four-part series. In Part 1 of Chaos Control: Drowning in the Domestic Dumps, Christine began a discussion on the importance of scheduling.
What about interruptions to our well-planned schedule? We need to accept that life with children is full of interruptions and distractions. With daily life, Kathryn from New Hampshire notes, "Being flexible is very important. Phone calls, visitors and interruptions are part of life and can enhance the day. Instead of thinking of them as nuisances, take the time and enjoy others. In turn it teaches the children independent learning and self control to stay focused on their tasks and accept flexibility in an organized day."
But what do you do when your plan "A" becomes God's plan "XYZ"? Interruptions and distractions are inevitable, especially with small children. When was the last time you did ANYTHING without interruption, even going to the bathroom? I believe my children have a sensor which goes off as soon as I sit down. I hear a BANG on the door, and suddenly several little people appear at the door.
A lady named Iris Krasnow wrote a book called Surrendering to Motherhood. She left a glamorous writing career to raise her family, and she said, "When you stop to be where you are, then your life can really begin."
How often do we focus on where we are instead of somewhere else? I struggle with this mightily and have been working on just being where I am instead of having my brain vaporize off into a bunch of different directions.
Mrs. Krasnow said, "Being there isn't about money or even about staying home full time. It's about an emotional and spiritual shift, a succumbing to being where you are when you are, and being there as much as possible. It's about crouching on the floor and getting delirious over the praying mantis you son has just caught, instead of perusing a fax while he is yelling for your attention and you distractedly say over your shoulder: 'Oh, honey, isn't that a pretty bug.' It's about being attuned enough to notice when your kid's eyes shine so you can make your eyes shine back."  She goes on to observe, "This Now with the children isn't a cage at all. It's the marrow; finally, I have drilled and drilled right to the Essence." 
She's talking, of course, about the essence of life - of being connected to all of life. Could that be what it means in the Bible when it says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for men (Col. 3:23)?"

A Wise Woman's Physical House
Some mornings I wake up, look around my messy house and begin to feel a sense of dread. It's another day of endless chores, cooking and cleaning. My life feels like drudgery - sheer drudgery. Where is the joy in this?
As I set about my work, I am grumbling. On a really bad day, I lash out at the children. "Why can't you take care of your stuff?" I shout. Then I look at my own disheveled room and wonder where they learned their habits.
Brother Lawrence was a man who did everything in love. His book, The Practice of the Presence of God (Springdale, PA, Whitaker House, 1982) revolutionized my spiritual life. He was a humble monk who cooked and cleaned for the other monks in his monastery. Whether he peeled potatoes or scrubbed pots, he did it with a heart full of the love of God. "During your meals or during your daily duty," he said, "lift up your heart to Him, because even the least little remembrance will please Him. You don't have to pray out loud; He's nearer than you can imagine." (5)
God is near to us when we are changing diapers, scrubbing floors or washing laundry. When we do these things with love, they are done prayerfully and from our hearts. How will our children learn to do those tasks in love if they see us grumbling and grousing? They won't. We are their example of joy in whatever the circumstances of our lives.
Do we view the daily-ness of life as an interruption? The diapers that need to be changed and the questions that beg answers as distractions? Then we are missing the main thing of mothering - the gift to be there to share it all.


I love God and the things he does. He blesses us so much. He gives us a spouse, a house; he blesses us with children and convicts us to home school them.


In the scope of things, the relationships we build with our God with our families here on earth are the things which matter most. If we can keep that perspective while managing the little details of life, we will do the less important things swiftly and efficiently, so we will have time for the things which matter most.


We need to embrace all aspects of mothering and home schooling. When you are delighted with your kids, do you ever grab them and kiss them and embrace them? We've got to embrace motherhood and all of our roles the same way - to be whole-hearted mothers. It becomes easier to embrace motherhood, the good the bad and the ugly, when we know that God exalts motherhood and womanhood.


Proverbs 31 tells us that a virtuous woman's price is far above rubies. I used to be a lawyer, and nowhere in the Bible does it say that about lawyers. I try to remember that when I've spent the day wiping jelly and runny noses. Lawyers are probably placed somewhere down with vipers. God values me so much and he values the work I do as a mother. Keeping that perspective helps tremendously on the really hard days of mothering and home schooling.


How does the wise woman get her house in order?

It starts with analysis. Think about these areas:


  •  What isn't working well?
  •  What drives you crazy and causes fights?
  •  Who is doing what?
  •  What needs to be changed?


These areas cause the most difficulty for home schoolers:

  • Clutter
  • Chores
  • Food
  • Laundry


In addition to these crucial areas, a home-schooling mom must also carve out planning time to keep all the other areas of life running smoothly. Finally, if she is not fainting from exhaustion, she should think about having some good, old-fashioned family fun.
For each of these areas which annoy you, there are several options:
  • Continue to do the task yourself, the way you have always done it.
  • Learn to do it better, more efficiently, with less stress.
  • Have someone else in the family do it.
  • Have someone outside the family do it.


Next week we will look specifically at controlling clutter, managing chores, and training children to do chores.
Christine M. Field practiced law for eight years before becoming a full-time Mommy. She and her husband live and home school their four children in Wheaton, Illinois where her husband serves as Chief of Police. Three of their four children are adopted, one through a private adoption and two are from Korea. She is the author of several books, including Coming Home to Raise Your Children (Fleming Revell, 1995), Should You Adopt? (Fleming Revell, 1997) A Field Guide to Home Schooling (Fleming Revell, 1998), and Life Skills for Kids (Harold Shaw/WaterBrook, 2000). Her fifth book, Help for the Harried Home Schooler (Shaw/WaterBrook 2002) will be available in January 2002. In addition to her contribution to, she writes columns for several magazines, including Home School Digest and Open Arms Magazine. Her work appears regularly in Hearts at Home Magazine and others. Her articles on life skills have appeared in Focus on the Family Magazine and Single Parent Family.

Christine loves to encourage others. She has spoken to many groups, including small fellowships and large conventions. To contact her about speaking to your group, or to share your tips and ideas about home schooling, you may email her at or visit her website at You may write to her at The Home Field Advantage, P.O. Box 261, Wheaton, IL 60189-0261.


The Three Gifts of Motherhood


Denise Glenn

source: CrossWalk



There are three gifts of Motherhood that will never be outgrown and always fit every age and stage of childhood. I'll share the first one with you.




The first of these is the blanket of your unconditional love. He needs love not based on his performance or behavior. He needs your love just because he is yours. And there are several ways to give your child this absolute, unreasonable love.



First, give your child the gift of time. Take a look at your weekly calendar and carve off a big chunk just to goof off with your children or grandchildren for two or three hours each week. If it goes on the calendar and you guard it as if it were an appointment with the President, you'll find the delight in keeping company with some amazing people...your offspring! Try not to make it legalistic, and just another "good Christian thing to do," but throw yourself into spending time with these precious people in your life just for the fun of it.



If you have preschool children or grandchildren, try spending a few hours on the floor coloring and blowing bubbles. Read a few books, sing a few songs, and go outside whenever possible and swing.



School-aged kids might enjoy a bike ride and picnic. Or if you're brave you might even play bombardment with them. Most kids LOVE it. It will require a rubber ball, a good pair of tennis shoes, and the ability to move quickly-which will be counted as your aerobic exercise for the week! Bombardment is the game of Tag or It, but with a ball. If the ball hits you, you're It, then you get to try to throw it to someone to make them It. This game is not usually played by adults, and that's the whole point. Play a real kid game. Be sure not to care if your clothes get dirty or torn.



For preteens and teens, try a Coke date or Coffee House break. Just sit around and ask about their music or a movie and the conversation will usually take off. Then you can keep listening between the lines to see if they will share something a little more personal. Don't press. Just be still and listen and wait. Being friends with people who are self-conscious and suspicious of adults takes patience, the willingness to be rejected, and a lot of prayerful confidence in what God can do with any and every life.




The second gift is the gift of touch. Almost everyone knows little babies need lots of physical hugging, kissing and touching. As kids grow, they don't outgrown needing to feel the warmth of mom's hands. Just a squeeze and hug for some is enough before they go on their way, but others need the physical reassurance of big doses of your Mother presence. From combing their hair, to rubbing sore muscles, or carefully applying Bactine and Band-Aids, children need to sense Mother-love from Mother-touch. Stop and think about the sensory perception your child has of your hands. Even teens and adult kids need the connection to mom through a pat on the back or a gentle embrace.



Finally, give your kids unconditional love by talking to them. Time, touch, and now, talk. Sit and listen, Mom. Your kids say some amazingly revealing things as they go about their day. Often these revelations unfold as they are going to bed, and mostly when the lights should have been out long ago. They can sleep another time. Take the time when they start to talk to listen around and between the lines of their chatter. Sift through the wrapping until they finally take off the last layer and expose the precious contents beneath. Be a very good steward of this treasure. Take most of it to your grave in secrecy. But let this unique creation that God entrusted into your care know that you know, you care, and you believe in them. That comes when you take the Time, to Touch their hearts, and really Talk.



Denise Glenn is the founder of MotherWise ministries and the author of Freedom for Mothers, Wisdom for Mothers and Restore My Heart. Visit Motherwise at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

5 Ways to Build the Family You've Always Wanted

by Whitney Hopler 
Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The Family You've Always Wanted: Five Ways You Can Make it Happen," (Northfield Publishing, 2008).  
If the family life you have now doesn't look like the healthy, nurturing family you've always wanted, don't despair. It's possible to create a better family, no matter what your background or current circumstances.

Here's how you can build the family you've always wanted:

1. Develop a heart for service. So much work needs to be done in a family -- from household chores like laundry, dishes, and paying bills to errands like grocery shopping and taking cars for oil changes. Make sure that every family member pitches in to help with a fair share of the work. Assign age-appropriate tasks to each of your children. Even very young children can help set the table for meals; older kids can do a wide range of chores like mowing the lawn or organizing closets.

If your family learns to serve each other, you'll learn to serve others outside your family, too. Such service pleases God and enlarges your hearts. Model service to your children by letting them see you engaged in service projects that make a positive difference in other people's lives. Give them opportunities to serve alongside you whenever possible. Affirm your children when they complete the work you've assigned them to do; your words will encourage them to keep serving.

2. Start relating intimately to your spouse. If an emotional wall has developed between you and your spouse, break it down by regularly acknowledging your failures, asking your spouse to forgive you, and forgiving your spouse whenever he or she hurts or offends you. Communicate well with each other, sharing your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly and listening carefully to what your spouse has to say.

Move beyond simply sharing information (such as when you plan to pick up a child or what you'd like to eat for dinner) and start sharing your deep desires and frustrations with each other. Develop intellectual intimacy by telling your thoughts, develop emotional intimacy by discussing your feelings, develop social intimacy by spending time together and discussing the time you've spent apart, develop spiritual intimacy by opening your souls to each other, and develop physical intimacy by sharing your bodies through sex.

3. Guide your children well. Keep in mind when training your children that they must feel loved in order for your training to work. If they feel loved by you, even poor attempts at training can produce good results. Discover each of your children's love languages -- how you can express love to them in ways they'll best understand. The main love languages are:

Words of affirmation,
Quality time,
Physical touch, receiving gifts, and
Acts of service. 

Look for clues to your children's love languages in how they express love to you, what they request of you most often, and what they complain about most often.

Make time to teach your kids creatively throughout every part of life you experience together. Pray with your kids often. Engage in conversations with them regularly, in which you discuss their thoughts and feelings and show a genuine interest in their lives. Encourage your children to take risks as God leads them and to learn from both their successes and failures. Speak encouraging words to your children often and write them encouraging notes or send them encouraging texts messages or e-mails.

When you need to correct them for misbehavior, aim to do so in a way that motivates them toward positive behavior. Choose your battles wisely. Correct only behavior that is truly destructive or detrimental to your children's development and let the rest go. Correct out of love instead of uncontrolled anger. Seek your children's wellbeing and choose discipline methods designed to benefit them.

Affirm your children for who they are, rather than just for what they do. Let your children know that you notice and appreciate their personal qualities, from how clever their minds are to how their decisions show strong moral character. Accentuate the positive to help your children overcome the many negative messages they sometimes receive from their peers and analyzing themselves.

Make time to show your children how to do the tasks you want them to perform instead of just telling them what to do. When they're trying to learn a new skill like reading or riding a bike, teach them how to deal with emotions like fear, anger, and disappointment and emphasize the importance of values such as courage, hard work, and honesty. Aim to be a healthy role model for them as you show them how to do something. Weave your actions in with your words and be consistent with your training to help your children learn best.

4. Help your children obey and honor you and your spouse. While making every effort to make sure your children feel loved, also make sure that your children experience the consequences of their behavior. Think and pray about what rules to set, and if your children are older, listen to their input about what rules should be set and why. When considering a particular rule, ask:
"Is this rule good for the child? Will it have some positive effect on this child's life?"

"Does this rule keep the child from danger or destruction?"
"Does this rule teach the child some positive character trait, such as honesty, hard work, kindness, or sharing?"
"Does this rule protect property?"
"Does this rule teach stewardship of possessions?"
"Does this rule teach the child responsibility?" and
"Does this rule teach good manners?"

Set consequences -- both good and bad -- for your children's behavior. Tie the consequences as closely as possible to the rules to which they relate. Give older children opportunities to help decide their own consequences for certain behaviors; that will make them more likely to accept the consequences when they break rules. Aim to be consistent, loving, and kind yet firm when disciplining your children.

Model what it looks like to honor parents by treating your own parents well if they're still alive. Visit and call them often; help care for their needs. Whether or not your own parents are still living, choose a lifestyle of generous service -- investing your life to honor God and bless other people -- and your children will be inspired by your example and motivated to do the same themselves.

5. Build a family where the husband loves and leads. A healthy husband is crucial to the health of a family, since God has planned for husbands to serve as the spiritual leaders of their homes. A healthy husband:

Views his wife as an equal partner and works well with her when making decisions
Communicates with his wife openly and in positive ways
Makes his relationship with his wife his top priority after God
Loves his wife unconditionally
Is committed to discovering and meeting his wife's needs, and
Seeks to model his spiritual and moral values.

A healthy father:
Is actively involved in his children's lives,
Makes time to be with his children often, engages in conversations with them regularly,
Plays with them often,
Teaches them his values,
Provides for and protects his children, and
Loves his children unconditionally.

Wives can motivate their husbands to grow by encouraging them and praising their efforts without expecting perfection. If wives share their desires in terms of requests rather than demands, husbands will respond better. Wives should give their husbands plenty of love and try to meet his basic needs -- including his strong sexual needs.

When they feel cared for, husbands will be motivated to act in loving ways themselves. Wives whose husbands get defensive also need to learn how to communicate in ways that don't strike at their husbands' self-esteem.

Published April 15, 2009.

Adapted from The Family You've Always Wanted: Five Ways You Can Make it Happen, copyright 2008 by Dr. Gary Chapman. Published by Northfield Publishing, Chicago, Ill.,    
Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of the New York Times bestselling book The Five Love Languages. With over 30 years of counseling experience, he has the uncanny ability to hold a mirror up to human behavior, showing readers not just where they go wrong, but also how to grow and move forward. Dr. Chapman is the host of the weekly one-hour radio program, Building Relationships, and has been featured at the Pentagon and United Nations. He is a prolific conference speaker and makes his home with his wife in North Carolina.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

You need a mentor

You need a mentor
by Rick Warren

Everyone has a reservoir of knowledge, skills, and experience they can share. A wise person will learn to
draw them out.

Rick Warren

Every pastor needs a mentor. No matter what stage you are in your ministry, you need someone to coach you.
All sorts of organizations use the mentoring process to make people better at what they do. In medicine, doctors mentor younger doctors. In music, musicians mentor other musicians. Why? It works. We learn best when we have people who can speak into our lives and ministry.
Proverbs 19:20 says, "Get all the advice you can and be wise the rest of your life." I will always need a coach – no matter how old I get or how successful I become. Lebron James is one of the best basketball players on the planet. He still needs a coach. You will never get to a point in your life you can say, "I've learned it all. I don't need anybody else to help me."
A mentor brings out the best in you in three areas: your roles, your goals, and your soul. Mentors give us perspective. They help us look at ourselves and our ministry from the outside. We don't always see what we're doing outside of our own perspective. We see from our own limited focus. We need somebody else in our life to say, "Have you thought about…? What about this? What about that?"
Saddleback would not be where it is today without men who've poured their lives into me – people who've made me look at my ministry in a different light. Proverbs 15:22 says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisors they succeed." What God has done through Saddleback over the past 30 years hasn't happened because I'm smart. It's because I've had great mentors and advisors. They are people I've bounced ideas off of and gotten feedback from.
What do you look for in a mentor? Let me suggest three qualities.
  1. Someone who has the character and values you admire. You want to find a mentor who is the kind of person you want to be.

  2. Someone with the skills and experience you want. Look for another pastor who has the particular ministry skills you want to improve upon. Maybe it's preaching. Maybe it's leadership. Maybe it's a pastor who has successfully navigated through a building campaign. Find someone who is good at something you want to be good at.

  3. Someone you trust. If you don't trust your mentor, you're not going to learn anything from him. Just because a mentor has a lot of knowledge doesn't mean you'll click with him. To make a good mentoring experience, in time you'll need to be able to open up to the person you choose.


Ask good questions

Once you pick the right mentor, you'll need to make the most of the time you have with that person. Neither you nor your mentor have unlimited time. What can you do to maximize your time with your mentor? Ask questions.
Before you meet with your mentor, spend some time thinking about questions you want to ask. Think about what issues you're dealing with in your ministry. Think about what areas of your mentor's ministry you'd like to learn from. Be specific.
One of my mentors was a guy named Billy, who had a mentor himself. Billy went to a large church in Texas and put himself under the pastor. At the end of six months, Billy went to him and said, "I've watched your teaching for six months and I've never heard you preach a dud. God speaks through everything you teach. Every time you teach there's power, practical information, and good insight. I would like to know how you stay fresh. What's your secret?" The man told Billy, "About 35 to 40 years ago, I made a commitment to stay fresh, so I could feed other people. To do that, I read through the New Testament once a week."
Billy sat there dumbfounded, trying to think up an intelligent follow-up question to ask. "What translation do you read it in?" Billy asked. The Texas pastor said, "Usually in the original Greek." Billy later told me that he could have been with the guy for five or six years and never found out the secret to his freshness and spiritual depth if he hadn't asked the question.
Anyone – at any time – can be a mentor if you learn to ask questions. Everyone has a reservoir of knowledge, skills, and experience they can share. A wise person will learn to draw them out. If I were to sit down with you, I'd learn some things that would make me a better pastor. I'm sure of it. You've had experiences that I haven't had – and vice versa.
Be prepared with standard questions to ask every time you get around someone who's making an impact with their life. Questions like:

• How do you handle stress?
• What have been the greatest successes in your life?
• What were the causes of those successes?
• What were the greatest failures in your life?
• What would you do differently if you were starting over?
• What kind of books do you read?
• How do you manage your time?
• How do you manage your money?
• What have been the greatest lessons you've learned?
• What have been the greatest surprises in your life?
Successful people give off clues. Look for those clues. Pull them out and learn from them.
Welcome feedback
Getting feedback from mentors is also absolutely critical. If you don't get feedback, you're going to get off course. During all the Apollo trips to the moon, those spaceships had to do course corrections literally every second. The earth was turning, and the moon was turning. To make it, the astronauts had to constantly change the course of their ship. And the only way they could do that was to get feedback.
You need course corrections from time to time in ministry as well. To make those corrections, you'll need someone on the outside of your ministry to give you feedback. If you're not open to feedback from a mentor, you're not going to learn and you're not going to grow.
Pastor, you need a mentor in your ministry. Whether you're 35, 55, or 75, there is someone you can learn from. Find someone with character. Find someone with skills you desire. Find someone you trust.

Find a mentor.

Article by Rick Warren