How You’re Kind of Like Mangos

This is the faith I live by: What I sow I will reap

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Galatians 6:7

I love it when God uses nature to get His point across. We may not understand complex, supernatural matters, but we can study and learn from many of the mysteries in nature. Sowing and reaping, while it is incredibly complex in its details, the basic outcomes are simple. You can’t separate the crop from the seed. A Mango’s natural materials will never, under any circumstance, produce a callaloo plant. And a callaloo’s natural materials will never, under any circumstance, produce a fig tree. To do so is against nature. It is against the Creator’s design. Sowing and reaping teaches us that outcomes are predictable.

Check the Fruit

Our spiritual lives are just like mangos. While many believe they can sow wickedness and somehow escape the naturally encoded outcome, the truth of the matter is they can’t. We cannot mistreat the disenfranchised and continue to prosper. If we disregard the laws of health we cannot remain in good health. When we disregard the principles of God’s word we cannot reap the rich rewards of the faithful. This principle teaches us that we cannot break the law of God and still have eternal life. It’s not a matter of punitive action as much as it is the spiritual law of cause and effect at work in God’s holy order. Whatever anyone sows, as a lifestyle, that person will reap.

The following verses in a modern translation make both sides of the matter abundantly clear:

“Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but on who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.”

Galatians 6:7-10 (NET)

We can sow for a blessed outcome, or we can sow for a detrimental outcome. But the choice is ours to make because we’re kinda like mangos. Whatever seeds we plant we can predict what kind of fruit will grow. So if you’re wondering about what you’ve sowed into yourself, just check your fruit. A mango seed will always produce a mango tree.




The Quest for True Power

This is the Faith I Live By: The Power of Jesus Christ is available to me through His Spirit.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, May 27, 2019

Audio Linkhttp://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Romans 1:16

The pursuit of power is one of the most intoxicating driving forces in our world today. Many pursue power by creating popular music. Others pursue power by perfecting their athletic abilities. Still others pursue power by studying psychology in order to master the mind. But where can we find real power? Is it in books or on television? Can we gain real power by exercising until our muscles are perfectly sculpted? All of these things have an element of power inherent to them. Yet, they cannot change our lives from an eternal perspective.

Biblical Power

The apostle Paul had a true concept of power. He said that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. Truthfully, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been changing lives for thousands of years. This gospel is God’s demonstration of His love toward a lost world. When He created us, His intention was that we live with Him eternally. However, since the inception of sin that plan seemed impossible to achieve. Since God knows everything, His plans include all eventualities into the equation. Meaning, sin was no surprise to God. Before the world was, God had a plan.

Power in Jesus Christ

Jesus covenanted with the Father that if humanity should sin He would would become our substitute. God’s love did not allow Him to simply watch from the sidelines as sin destroyed the lives of the ones He loved. Just at the right time, Jesus became a man, lived a perfect life, died as a perfect substitute, and rose from the dead to eternal perfection pardoning our sins forever. Now, Jesus is in the Heavenly Sanctuary interceding on our behalf. Because of His power we have access to the power of God. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we have true power. The power of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. And one day, we will be restored to what God intended for us from the beginning.

Let the reality of God’s love and all that He sacrificed in order to save us permeate your thoughts today. Be encouraged. Believe the gospel. For in it we gain true power.




Hope Garden: A Sanctuary in the Middle of a Desert

A young mother and her two children walked down the street coming from our church’s daycare. It was their first day, and this mother was walking her children home. They obviously lived nearby, but we were alarmed to learn they lived right across the street from the church. Joining them on their stroll we struck up a conversation, the path took us past the garden. We asked if they like to eat. They laughed and responded “of course!” To that we responded, “then let’s eat!”

Immediately, we turned towards fifteen beautifully raised garden beds. The four closest to us were filled with cherry tomatoes. Before we could offer them to pick their fill, the young three-year old girl, same age as our daughter, picked a tomato and quickly ate it before her mother could object. The image of this little girl eating a fresh cherry tomato, juices and seeds sticking to her little fingers was priceless. This is what it was all about. Giving the community access to fresh organic food.

Ministering in the Desert

It began with a vision of hope for our community. Our church sits in the midst of a neighborhood food desert with crime, sickness, and poverty raiding each home. We recognized that these issues were not mutually exclusive to the systemic problems of our community. Community’s with food deserts like ours need more than simply one-time acts of charity. We need justice. The primary concern for a Christian is to seek first God’s kingdom and God’s justice. Too often justice is discussed in retributive terms, but biblically justice is restorative. Even the judgment in God’s justice is for the purpose of restoration in the earth and the human family. This is why the Hope Garden is an important justice initiative for our community, especially right now.

More grocery stores are closing, destroying more opportunities for people to find fresh food. Even the local food banks are closing down. And as healthy food becomes more scarce liquor stores are popping up in abundance. In fact, more and more liquor stores are being built in some of the most vulnerable communities. Interestingly enough, out here in Georgia, churches still outnumber liquor stores. This should compel believers to come together and speak out against the injustice happening in their communities, but unfortunately it hasn’t.

We need a plan from the city to revitalize our community, but we cannot wait for them. At Emmanuel SDA we choose to lead by example. My wife and I understand how easy it is for churches to become complacent and content remaining within their devilishly designed boxes settling for the occassional handout that fails to effect the root issues. But we want a reason to worship. We want to experience the joy of celebrating a miracle done through us. And so we planted the Hope Garden.

Birthing “Hope Team”

A team of people from my church and others quickly emerged. Tired of program focused religion and feeling a move for something greater, Hope Team was birthed. This movement is a new type of church plant that focuses more on mission instead of programming. The Hope Team searches for ways to inspire and revitalize the communities around it. So, when multiple farmers asked us if we were interested in planting a garden for the community, we felt confirmation that God was moving. The idea for the Hope Garden was planted in our hearts, and the Spirit just kept on watering it.

Soon, the local Home Depot offered to help with the project and encouraged us to write a grant. Taking their advice we wrote the grant and a month later they awarded the project $5,000. With these funds and the help of volunteer workers we built our garden beds. Soon the news media picked up the story and the word quickly got out. Since the inception of the project we have gained several partners and others have even caught the vision for their churches and communities. We’re even blessed that some developers in the city want to use our cite as a pilot for doing future gardens at other churches.

The Hope Garden Harvest

The beauty of the garden project is how so many activists and charitable agencies are seeing the value of the garden within their communities and careers. For example, those in the medical field see the value of fresh fruits and vegetables for patient prevention and recovery. This summer our church will host cooking classes featuring foods from the garden.

Those in the business sector are interested in how community members are being equipped to grow and sell their own produce. Law enforcement loves the idea of making use of void space within the community to train young people how to care for the community. Educators see the connection students can make with the practical science applications a garden creates. And most recently, we’ve partnered with the Boys and Girls clubs and city Parks and Recreation to bus children to our garden to participate in this educational experience.

Hope Garden Vision

Currently, our team is working out the logistics for distributing the food in an equitable manner. Our ultimate vision for the garden is that it become a training ground for individuals to learn how to grow their own food. We don’t want folks to solely rely on the garden for their produce needs. We want the garden to inspire, educate, and empower people.

One of our goals is to allow families portions of our land to grow their own food. We are still working out the details of how to market the project and inspire residents to take advantage of the opportunity. But we’re confident that if we continue to show them our consistency in this area then they’ll grow to trust our intentions and believe in our projected outcomes. We are starting small, but we have so much potential for growth. And we believe that as the garden grows so will our community.

Hope Garden is Hope for the Community

As I finish this article I find myself in the barber shop waiting to get a cut. Music is blasting. Every other word begins with “F”. The barbers and patrons don’t know who I am, or what I do for a living. And that’s how I like it. I love when ministry is unfiltered. Raw. Real. And based on the nature of my environment, I couldn’t help but get sucked into a good barber shop debate: “did black folks start the country music genre?” Like every good beef in the 21st century we pulled out our cell phones and let google settle it.

But any good woke brotha knows that even google can’t always be trusted. And just like that a new debater began to reel about other untrustworthy things like the processed food we eat. We began talking about Nipsey Hussle, Dr. Sebi, and nation building. At the end of our discussion we coordinated a partnership with his people and our garden to help educate and employ black men. Experiences like this have taught me to embrace the uncomfortable spaces in search for where Jesus really is. And this experience has showed me that He still lingers where the religious people least expect Him. And there is where Hope continues.




An All White Affair

This is the Faith I live by: Salvation gifts me Christ’s robe of righteousness

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, May 13, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)

I hope you have a change of clothes handy, because we are going to an all white affair!

Don’t Tell Me What to Wear!

I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t like being told exactly how to dress if I’m going somewhere. If it’s a formal affair I understand the need. Even work uniforms make sense to me. I even understand internationally themed celebrations. I promise I understand all of that. It’s just that, I really don’t like being told that I must wear exactly this or that, or else I cannot come in to an event. Like all white parties, which is why I’ve never been to one. It looks great in pictures. Everyone wearing white hats, shirts, blouses, pants, dresses, dress shorts, scarves, and everything in between. But, it’s just not my thing.

Wardrobe Malfunction

Unfortunately, some of us have my attitude about all white parties. Especially the ones related to righteousness. We admire those whose characters have been washed clean and white in the blood of the Lamb. We love when people are kind, honest, loving, generous, joyful, and have integrity. But for some of us, it’s just not our cup of tea. We admire certain righteous acts, but we have no real desire to produce those acts. And if we’re truly honest with ourselves all that really means is that we have no real desire to be transformed by our righteous Heavenly Father. Instead, we’d rather snub the event host and keep on our own attire like the man in Matthew 22. He decided to wear his own righteous garments to God’s heavenly feast. Not realizing that the righteous robe of God was his access inside.

Wearing Christ’s Robe of Righteousness

God has been so good to us. He has helped many of us recover from our spiritual wardrobe malfunctions and saved us from the consequences of sin. But in order for all of us to experience such a blessing we must be willing to take off our old, corrupt wardrobe and allow God to robe us in His righteousness and holiness. We have to allow God to finish His work in us by covering us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. If you think about it that way, allowing God to give you a change of clothes isn’t all that bad after all. In fact, having experienced the change myself, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you. In Jesus’ name.




Injustice is Everywhere…But Justice is Coming

This is the faith I live by: Justice is coming in Jesus Christ

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, May 17, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”

Psalm 17:15 (NKJV)

A Threat to Justice Everywhere

“INJUSTICE!” is the hue and cry that must summon the interest of every conscientious person who hears it. Innocents are murdered, while their murderers get off scot free. INJUSTICE! Some powerful people pimp and bend laws in lands around the world to suit their greed. INJUSTICE! Some create wealth on the backs of others forcing them to live paycheck to paycheck. INJUSTICE! The wicked seem to prosper, and the righteous seem to suffer. INJUSTICE!

I could cite many ways Lady Justice peeks above her hallowed blindfold trying to tip the scales in favor of equity only to no avail. It is a foregone conclusion that something is terribly wrong in society today. But God is not asleep. The One who see the secret sins of every person; the One who sees all the good that people do without an expectation of earthly reward; will reward all deeds done in the flesh, openly.

Justice is Coming

The psalmist understood that injustice was running rampant in the land. But, he also knew that the Creator would settle the score one day. We can have this same faith that God WILL avenge the deaths of those murdered with impunity.

God will avenge the honor of those abused and misused for some person’s filthy pleasure. He will avenge the integrity of those who have been lied on and punished for no good reason. God will avenge the blood of martyrs killed for His cause when bloodthirsty priests and prelates appealed to the strong arm of the state to take their lives. And finally, the psalmist well knew that the Creator would finally reveal Himself, in all of His glory, and put an end to injustice everywhere. And on that day it will never raise its ugly head again. Not only this, but He will also restore His perfect image in those who learned to trust in Him. Then He usher us into eternity, where justice will reign forever, and sin will be no more.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you. In Jesus’ name.




A New Frontier: Interracial Love and Marriage Through the Lens of Star Trek

The cult sci-fi hit Star Trek has been a milestone for many things. The team of the starship Enterprise set the standard for numerous storylines and tropes common within the genre. More than that, the show encouraged conversation on controversial topics such as reproductive rights, terrorism, homosexuality, and race.

“Plato’s Children”

This November, Star Trek will celebrate its 51st anniversary of the first on-screen interracial kiss. The kiss takes place between Captain James Kirk, played by William Shatner, and Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nicholes. Uhura herself was already a strong figure in the show. In fact, she was one of the first women of color in a position of power on prime-time television. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even encouraged Nicholes to remain on the show. Depicting a black woman on equal footing with her white coworkers, King said Star Trek was one of the only shows he let his children stay up late to watch.

The controversial episode “Plato’s Children” first aired on November 22, 1968. And it can certainly be said that Star Trek opened up a new “final frontier” by pushing the social boundaries of its time. In fact, the episode was debated and critiqued by social and civil rights analysts for decades. The power rested in its controversy. This show, and particularly this episode, showed that people of color could have romantic relationships not based on the color of their skin.

The Kiss That Inspired Love

Eric Deggans, a TV critic for National Public Radio, said the kiss

suggested that there was a future where [interracial relationships] were not such a big deal. The characters themselves were not freaking out because a black woman was kissing a white man…In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We’re beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send.

However, in 1968 less than 20% of Americans thought interracial relationships were acceptable, according to Gallup Polls. In fact, in 1967 it was illegal for a racially mixed couple to get married in many states. This sentiment still resinated with many viewers causing them to see the kiss as a degradation of American values. While others saw it as a great leap forward in representation. In the end, society determined that Kirk and Uhura’s kiss was a step forward in normalizing mixed-race couples.

Love on The New Frontier

As of 2018, about 17% of newlywed American couples are interracial. In fact, Honolulu, HI has the largest number of interracial marriages hovering around 40%, while Jackson, MS has the lowest at 3%. Studies further show that only about 11% of white partners end up marrying someone of a different racial background, while Asian, Hispanic, and black Americans are much more likely to marry outside their ethnicity. What’s interesting is that the rate of black interracial marriages has risen from less than 5% in the 1980s to almost 20% today.

God’s Response to Mixed Marriages

But concern about interracial marriage is not just 20th and 21st century issue. The Bible also records instances of biracial, or more appropriately bi-ethnic, unions. Possibly the most famous is that Moses and Zipporah. Displeased with their brother’s choice in a mate, Aaron and Miriam argued with Moses about his decision to marry a woman from Cush, or modern-day Ethiopia.

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

An outsider from the Hebrew community, Aaron and Miriam did not believe that Zipporah was suitable for Moses. They actually began to question Moses’ ability to lead because of his choice in a mate. For their xenophobic and discriminatory criticism Numbers 12:10-11,15 record God’s punishment:

And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was a leper. So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh my Lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.”…So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.

This story clearly reveals that as far back as the Old Testament God protects interracial marriages. Not only did God show favor on the marriage of Moses and Zipporah, but he also punished anyone, even Moses’ sister, for trying to tear them a part.

Conclusion

Star Trek tried to show viewers that true love will explore new frontiers, new cultures, new people. And the story of Moses and Zipporah teaches us that when we step out to reflect the image of God with partners of different racial and ethnic backgrounds that we have His protection and His favor. May we build relationships that truly exemplify that we are all one in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:11 NIV). If modern Christians can follow this principle, then maybe Star Trek won’t be the only world exploring a new frontier.




What We All Must Pursue

This is the Faith I Live By: I will see God if I pursue peace and holiness.
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Audio Linkhttp://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”
Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV)

Aspire. Pursue. Persist. Achieve!

With rare exception, people often give up too quickly. We all have dreams, and for a period of time we fixate on them wishing we could achieve them. It is a rare breed of people who see obstacles as inspiration, and use difficulties as fuel to propel them to their next goal. God wants us to put our trust in Him and know that nothing is impossible if we believe (Matthew 17:20).

From Spiritual Failures to Victorious Saints

However, today’s thought is not just about our everyday achievements, although God does care about those. Most importantly, today’s thought is about moving from being spiritual failures to becoming victorious saints. Our theme text exhorts us to pursue peace with others, and holiness. Does that sound familiar? The Ten Commandments are all about that. Love for God and our fellow human beings are the two great commandments that undergird the law.

So in other words, holiness is achieved when we focus on God’s love and His law. Do you see how this works? We receive peace and holiness when we set our focus like we do our goals and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to push us and discipline us as we run. I am not suggesting that these principles are eluding us. It’s just that life’s circumstances often sidetrack those who are not focused on the prize.

Pursue With Faithful Focus

Today can be your day to recommit to pursuing peace and holiness. Yes, there will be a multiplicity of trials, tribulations, temptations, and distractions to get you off track. This is why God promises us angels who excel in strength, along with the Holy Spirit, to provide us all the support we need to achieve God’s standard of holiness. The fact of the matter is, without them none of us will see God. Let’s cooperate with God and help others do the same.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




Heaven is My Home

This is the Faith I Live By: Heaven is my home
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, May 10, 2019
Audio Linkhttp://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“But as it is written, ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)

There are many beautiful spectacles in the world. In nature, cascading waterfalls, towering trees, and fragrant flowers inspire awe in those who see them. We have built sprawling estates with many rooms, and space to house many families comfortably. In fact, gold and marble cover the floors and fixtures in many of our homes. Residences such as these are captivating.

Nothing on Earth Like Heaven

All this, whether natural or fabricated, is nothing in comparison to what God has for those who love Him. Truthfully, there is no language that can even encapsulate the splendor of all that God is preparing for His people. Many inspired writers have attempted to describe the revelations they received, but many could not find adequate words to capture what they saw. The imagination staggers as it tries to conjure up just a glimpse of God’s reward.

There’s a Place for Us

It is a blessing to know that the Lord loves us so much that He is preparing a place for us with Him. In spite of the obstacles that sin has put in the way of our relationship with Him, He has overcome them for those who simply surrender to His will.

Be encouraged by the promise Jesus made to His disciples. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansion; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3 NKJV). We look forward to that day with great anticipation. If we remain faithful to the end, we will live forever with Jesus.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




What If Leopards Can Change Their Spots?

This is the Faith I Live By: God doesn’t renovate us, He recreates us.
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“Can the…leopard [change] its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”
Jeremiah 13:23 (NKJV)

 

Have you heard any of the following idioms before?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The older we get, the more set in our ways we become.

Old habits die hard.

If any of these are true spiritually, our future looks grim. But what if there were a way to change the conversation completely? Even if the statements were true, what if, somehow, some way, the “old dog” could learn new tricks? How about age not determining our behavior? What if we could grow older, but still be open to new possibilities and new ways of thinking? Why do old habits have to die hard? What if the old habits don’t need to die because instead the old self would die? What if a new self could be? Might that change the conversation?

New Creatures

The truth is, when it comes to spiritual things we need a do over. But God does not renovate people, He recreates us. Paul taught that whenever we come to Christ and surrender our wills to Him, we become new creatures; the old self passes away, and all things become new. God promised to take away from us our hearts of stone, and transplant hearts of flesh that are receptive to God’s leading. The psalmist said that when we learn to delight ourselves in the Lord, He would replace our old desires with new ones. New hearts desires new things. Do you see how that works? God does not renovate people, He recreates us. Our old characters invariably carry with them old baggage. Therefore, God announces, “Let there be light!” and we are moved out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

Do you desire to become new? Are there some embarrassing habits you wish to overcome? Memories of pain and disappointment, do you wish you could bury them? Are there some wrongs you want to right? Today can be the beginning of your new life. Yes, it will take a lot of work and discipline to resist sliding into your old lifestyle, but the power of God which is in you is so much more effective than the world’s pull on you towards sin. You need only to submit.

Submit your thoughts, habits, plans, past mistakes, aspirations, etc. to God, and allow Him to perform His perfect work in you, moment-by-moment today. And if He spares your life to see tomorrow, do it again. If you make it to the next day, do it again. Wash, rinse, and repeat until Jesus comes. If you stumble and fall along the journey, talk to God about it, and turn away from sin with the Holy Spirit’s help, and submit again. Surrendering our hearts is the key, and God will renew us to bring honor to His name.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




She’s So Slow. Tell Her to Hurry Up!

My wife moves very slowly. It is the reason we are late most of the times to everything. We’ve been married for over 25 years and I am really tired of always waiting for her. I wish she could move a little faster. However, every time I ask her to move faster, she seems to move slower. Sometimes I feel like I am going to lose my mind. Please help me with a strategy to help my wife move faster so our marriage can be what it has the potential to be. —Anonymous—Flint, Michigan

Marriage can be truly difficult. Isn’t that right? Nevertheless, once you accept the fact that marriage can be difficult, the fact that it is difficult no longer really matters, as long as you trust God to give you the patience needed to respond to any situation with love. And, by the way, Jesus makes the promise in Mark 10:47 that, “…with men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

As we think about the situation you have shared about your wife, we cannot help but reflect on the fact that we are at the beginning of another year when many choose to make resolutions for the new year. We are wondering out loud what new or not so new resolutions you might want to make in your relationship with your wife of 25+ years, given the annoyance you have reported having with her slowness.

Right about now we are wondering if your wife has always been slow, or if this is a tendency she has developed of late. If it is the former, then it follows that during your courtship and early marriage you simply chose to overlook her slowness, given her outstanding characteristics on other matters. Of course, if your wife’s slowness is something she has recently developed, you may want to check on her health, and/or come to grips with the fact that as one grows older, one tends to develop aches and pains in one’s extremities, which tend to literally slow one down. And the latter may be an explanation for your wife’s current slowness.

So, this is as good a time as any to make decisions about how you will respond to your wife, going forward, in order to maximize the viability of your marital relationship in this new year. Because, the truth is, the only counsel we have to share with you about improving your current marriage dilemma is not so much about what you can tell your wife to correct her perceived flaws, as much as it is about how you can respond to your wife to enhance your marriage relationship. 

What we know about healthy marriages is that they are characterized by partners who tend to respond to each other with love, despite the circumstances that may arise from time to time in the course of negotiating life together. We have the natural predisposition to respond with anger, resentment, selfishness, contempt, criticism or disrespect to things we don’t like about people we are in close relationships with; responding in love is the only assurance of being in a successful and satisfying partnership.

Thus, rather than being too concerned about your wife’s slowness, we would encourage you to make a New Year’s resolution—with the help of God, of course—to be loving and kind to your wife regardless of the circumstances. Also, that you will practice being accepting of her, just the way she is. The more you exercise responding to your wife in love, the more likely you will be to bring out the best in her, and experience the joy of a satisfying and happy marriage relationship.

Please know you and your wife are in our prayers as you trust God each day to help you be the patient and loving husband He wants you to be.

…......………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

WILLIE OLIVER, Ph.D., C.F.L.E., an ordained minister, pastoral counselor and family sociologist, is director of the Department of Family Ministries for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters. family.adventist.org; hopetv.org/realfamilytalk oliverw@gc.adventist.org 

ELAINE OLIVER, M.A., L.G.P.C., C.F.L.E., a counseling psychologist and educator, is associate director of the Department of Family Ministries for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters. family.adventist.org; hopetv.org/realfamilytalk olivere@gc.adventist.org