Drama Files: Sex And The Saved Single

Sex. Sexy. Sexiest. Man Alive, Am I The Only One Not Doing It?

Monique was a bright, outgoing, young lady, and her teachers and classmates loved her. She was popular, attractive, a great dance student, and very kindhearted all through high school.  After graduating from high school with honors it was now time to enter into college. Monique carried her pleasant personality with her. 

After returning home with a degree in business, and accepting a new position within a major utility company, Monique met a very nice young man at a company function. They exchanged email addresses and soon thereafter, Monique and Jason were a couple. As they grew closer, after a year they began a sexual relationship. Neither one  was a Christians, nor, did either attend church services.  

One weekend Monique’s coworker invited her to church to hear her speak and Monique asked Jason to join them, but he had a meeting to attend. The Holy Spirit convicted Monique’s heart, and she really enjoyed the service.  She gave her life to Christ right there and then. Her excitement bubbled over, and she could not wait to tell Jason of her new found relationship with the Lord.

Jesus at The Center of It All

“I’m not interested in serving God or attending church,” Jason stated flatly in response to Monique’s “Good News.” He told her their relationship worked because they were not Christians.  She tried to explain it to him, and continued to pray and invite  him to church. But, after one month of refraining from sex and other things that contradicted her new beliefs, the couple decided to break up. Monique had decided not to have sex outside of marriage, and Jason was not going to accept that. 

Monique moved out and continued to work at the utility company while attending church every week. She never had any further interaction with Jason, but found peace in her new found faith and obedience to God. However, as time went on she met several nice, single young men at the church fellowships who were attracted to her. Each of them, at one point, tried to persuade her to have sex with them after a date.

She sought support through  Christian counseling regarding her choice to remain celibate. 

Nice Church Girls and Boys

“I can understand men in the world wanting sex before marriage,” she told me during one session. “But being in the church, knowing that this is a violation against God’s Word,” well, that was very disheartening and confusing.  These men hurt Monique by their actions and hypocrisy.

One even told her “It’s alright to have sex. We all have needs. We are in the church, and God will forgive us”. 

At that moment Monique shook her head, turned to him and replied: “Same dance, but different partner.”

As single Christians face many different temptations in their lives, it is important to remain focused on Christ, and His Holy Word.  That is where we find the profile of a holy life. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Sex for Saved Singles?

Through my 36 years as a therapist and counselor, 85% of my single clients had sex before marriage by the age of 40. They concluded that almost all Americans have had sex before marriage.  Abstaining from sexual intercourse is not the norm in our culture.  Being sexual and sensual before marriage is the norm.

We are overwhelmed  with “ Bigger, Better, More,” in the headlines. And seemingly every product and program gets moved on the often successful philosophy that sex sells. Sexy images, videos, songs, hot topics on reality tv, and news about celebrities and their sexy lifestyles pervade the media and our minds. If you want to be part of the 15% you will have to know your redeemer Jesus for yourself and have an honest and open relationship with Him.

If you realize that you are in the 85%, it is not too late to turn to Christ. The Lord can and will restore you. He will help you remain single, and celibate. 

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” 1 Corinthians 10:13. 




Feverish Fear of The “Caravan”

An Old Story of The Hard Heartedness of An Ancient People And Their Pharaoh

It’s not just left-leaning writers, like Nicholas Kristof, who are attempting to diffuse the paranoia of an “invasion” of impoverished refugees. Fox News anchor Shepard Smith calmly and succinctly called out the fearmongering for what is. David Thornton of the unapologetically conservative website, The Resurgent) tried to disarm the disinformation campaign as well.

All three are in agreement that there’s no need for a massive troop build-up at the U.S.-Mexico border. Like its prequel in April, 2018, there’s not likely to be much of a caravan left by the time a few of them make the 1,000-mile trek on foot. There’s also no evidence of Middle-eastern terrorists masquerading as Central American migrants. But I guess brown is the new black and they all look alike, right?

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Why is this feverish fear so contagious? It has politicians “concerned” about people exercising their right to vote. The civil rights’ era label of “outside agitators” has been pulled from the recycle bin to apply to voting rights activists. It has lawmakers wanting to revoke the citizenship of people born in this country. It has conspired to disenfranchise the Natives of this land from casting ballots.

 

Exodus of the West?

Could the book of Exodus give us a clue to what’s going on in the minds of some Americans, who consider themselves the Americans? Let’s consider the following excerpt:

Joseph and his brothers and all that generation died. The Israelites, however, were fruitful, increased greatly, multiplied, and became extremely strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power over Egypt. He said to his people, “Look at the Israelite people, more numerous and stronger than we are! Come, let’s deal wisely with them. Otherwise they will continue to multiply, and if a war breaks out, they will ally themselves with our enemies and fight against us and leave the country.”

So they put foremen over the Israelites to oppress them with hard labor. As a result they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread. As a result the Egyptians loathed the Israelites, and they made the Israelites serve rigorously. (Ex. 1:6-13, NET)

Deliberate Disinformation

Let’s dissect a couple of things here. First, this king had a case of selective memory and strategic forgetfulness. How is it that he could know about a foreign people living in his land, but not know how they got there and where they came from? He referred to this rapidly growing demographic as Israelites, in other words, the offspring of Israel. Doesn’t referring to them as Israelites beg the question, Who was Israel and how did his offspring come to reside in Egypt?

The truth is, this king didn’t want to know about Joseph’s role in making Egypt great. Pharaoh wanted to deny or diminish any people or accomplishments that would credit outside agitators with meaningful progress to Egyptian science, politics, economics. To borrow from Rage Against the Machine’s “No Shelter,” this king’s agenda was for everyone to see through…

 

[Egyptian] eyes, [Egyptian] eyes

View the world through [Eyptian] eyes

Bury the past, rob us blind

And leave nothing behind!

 

It’s much like American amnesia regarding people like Peter Salem, Paul Cuffe, Benjamin Banneker, Charles Drew, Garrett Morgan, Alice Ball, Dorothy Vaughan, Patricia Bath, or Michelle Alexander. Hebrews in Egypt could’ve identified with Public Enemy’s line, “Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps.

Irrational Anxiety

Not only was there deliberate disinformation going on, there was also irrational anxiety. As Proverbs 28:1 says, “A wicked person flees when no one is chasing him” (NET). Why would this pharaoh imagine that a people whose ancestors had helped Egypt prosper during a catastrophic famine join ranks with a foreign army? Could it have been the unrestrained greed and unresolved guilt of the Egyptian leaders that aroused their fears of the Hebrews? Did his legacy of subjugating others to get ahead make him dread his chickens coming home to roost?

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Pharaoh’s ignorance and fear led to increasingly oppressive policies. The harsher the Egyptians treated the Israelites, the more they despised and feared them. What the pharaoh and his followers didn’t realize is that retribution wouldn’t come by the hands of the Hebrews themselves. God’s hand would hold His cup of wrath to their lips until the last drop of His indignation was swallowed. The more pharaoh hardened his heart against human cries for mercy and Divine calls for justice, the fuller the bitter cup of vengeance became.

Siphon Up – Trickle Down

Pharaoh could have saved his empire and family a lot of devastation by humbling himself before God and changing his ways. However, it seems almost impossible for rich, powerful bullies to repent. They fear that if they repent, then they might have to repay (Luke 19:1-10). Such people are rare as a camel walking through the eye of a needle. Most prefer to keep siphoning up surpluses, while stingily allowing droplets of sustenance to trickle down.

Just as ancient Egypt had its chance, 21st century pharaohs have their chance to reverse course and be agents of reconciliation, peace, and prosperity for the people under their authority. However, Revelation lets us know that just as with Egypt, worldly powers in the last days are filling up God’s cup of wrath by serving themselves at the people’s expense. Soon a global series of plagues will eclipse the severity of Egypt’s tribulation.

 

Exorcising the Demonic Forces of Fear

As in Exodus 12, there is a way for the people of God to escape, and it’s not by colonizing the moon or Mars. Jesus is our Passover Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29). This Lamb dedicated Himself to be our sacrifice before the world even began (Revelations 13:8). However, our profession of faith in Him has to be more than meeting under a steeple or having cross tattoos and jewelry (Matthew 7:21-23).

Faith in Jesus means walking in the light of truth and love with Him (1 John 1:6-7). As we walk with Jesus, He infuses us with a love that casts out fear and brings us into fellowship with others we wouldn’t normally gravitate to (1 John 2:6-11 and 4:18). Instead of seeking to take the life of others, Jesus’ love moves us to live sacrificially for their benefit (1 John 3:16-17, Romans 12:1). Living out the gospel in this manner gives us confidence, rather than fear, when judgment comes (Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 25:31-46). It also give us peace of mind in this life (2 Timothy 1:7).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




What’s Really At-Stake with Our Border Crisis

How What We Tolerate Regarding The Treatment of Migrant Men, Women and Children Can Determine The Fate of Other Vulnerable Populations

Children pulled mercilessly from the warm embrace of their mothers. Children locked behind chain link fences. Children staring at the cameras, their piercing eyes revealing a haunting sense of hopelessness.

Such were the heart-wrenching images that sparked national outrage over a zero-tolerance immigration policy ripping families apart. For many Americans – regardless of political, racial or religious affiliation – it crossed an invisible boundary.

But as we protest, as we march, as we peacefully petition our government denouncing oppression in our name, it is not just the lives of the innocent victims at stake – but also the very soul of our nation.

Vulnerable People

Swapna Reddy is co-director of the New York-based Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), which provides pro-bono legal services to unaccompanied minors in deportation proceedings. She said the number of children trapped in the U.S. legal system has increased significantly since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero-tolerance policy, audaciously quoting scripture as justification. The children, mostly from Central American countries, range in age from toddlers to teenagers.

“Basically, what we’re doing is we’re pretty much attacking a very vulnerable population,” said Reddy in an interview with Message. “We’ve started down a treacherous road with our immigration policies and are starting to do things that were unthinkable just a few years ago.”

Reddy said the Trump administration’s family-separation policy sets a precedent that could negatively impact other groups in the future.

“And so, while it’s immigrants now as a sort of targeted and vulnerable population,” she said, “ I think this certainly could be looked at in the future as the beginning of, perhaps, targeting other groups who are particularly vulnerable and don’t necessarily have the same protections as others do.”

Biblical Morality and Immigration

The Rev. David Vásquez-Levy serves as president of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California – a multi-denominational seminary and center for social justice. He describes the zero-tolerance policy as “a pivotal moral issue for us as a nation.”

“Though a country of immigrants, the United States has a history of cruelty toward various groups of people, millions of them brought to America by way of slave ships,” Vásquez-Levy said. He likened the plight of immigrant children being separated from their parents to the pain that African American and Native American families endured in previous generations.

“For us as a society with so much power, affluence and resources, to use such force against families and children, it has drawn attention to what’s happening more broadly with our immigration practices,” he said. “What it does is it dehumanizes a particular group, and that’s resonating for us in various communities.”

People on The Move

Vásquez-Levy believes Christians, in particular, should be outraged by the government’s anti-immigrant posture. He considers it an affront to Scripture, which calls on people of faith to embrace foreigners in their midst.

How do we balance Biblical precedent with the today’s tough immigration interests without compromising?

“When you think about Biblical stories, most of them are about people on the move,” he said. “People moving because of hope and promise, like Abraham and Sarah, pursuing a dream with nothing but trust. Because of that, one of the most common commandments in the Bible is about protecting the stranger and remembering that we were strangers ourselves in Egypt.”

The story of the Israelites in bondage – another migration story – contains many similarities to what immigrant families in the U.S. and across the globe are experiencing today, he said.
“Joseph is in Egypt as a famine developed in the land of Canaan,” he said. “Then his family comes into Egypt. They settle, and the Book of Genesis talks about how good it was that they settled and then they grew and they were strong.”

Compounding Injury

K. Drew Devenport is an immigrant attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He said recent immigration policies could have a chilling effect on the idea of America as a melting pot and a country that embraces all cultures and ideas.

“This country is founded on the principle and belief that you could come here, realize your dreams and live in a free society,” he said. “And now we’re seeing it become more conservative and restrictive.”

Reddy, of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, said children who flee bad circumstances come to the U.S. with an intense amount of trauma.

“First, they’re traumatized by whatever caused them to leave the country, traveling hundreds and thousands of miles,” she said. “Then, there’s the journey itself, which is dangerous and scary. And, now, they’re separated from their parents in the United States, which just compounds the trauma.”

Stay Focused on Needs

Reddy said she has been heartened by the incredible and sustained response of Americans of all backgrounds who stood up on behalf of children caught in the system.

“A lot of times people’s attention turn quickly to other issues,” she said. “But what’s amazing is that this has been going on now for a few months at this point, and people are still pushing back. I think it’s a very good sign that these are ideals that many Americans hold dear no matter who they are or where they were born. They are fighting to keep them intact.”

Yet, it’s important to stay vigilant, holding government accountable at all levels, she said. She recommends contacting members of Congress to make sure they’re on the right side of the issue and continuing to protest against anti-immigrant policies that victimize the most vulnerable in society.

“We’re not saying that all of these children are eligible to stay in the United States,” she said. “But we are saying that they all should have a fair chance to make their case for U.S. protection so we as country are not sending children back into grave harm or even, potentially, death. And that’s what our asylum laws uphold.”




Got Guilt?

Put away destructive guilty feelings; grow with productive guilty feelings.

Sitting down, head in hands, the gentleman sharing with me had no idea how he could ever move beyond the carnage. He caused a lot of pain by his lapses in judgement. While it was so long ago, he still struggled with the lingering effects of a mistake.

He went to church. The man served on the deacon board, was active in Bible study, had a loving family, and what he felt was a growing, dynamic relationship with God. But like clockwork these recurring feelings of guilt shrouded him in a cloud of despair. He struggled, fighting back tears as he re-lived the details which plagued his dreams, consumed his prayers. He knew he was overcompensating in his generosity to dispel the pain of his past. Listening to his struggle, I connected in many ways to the growing remorse that painfully came from the re-telling of his story.

Blameworthy

If I were to be honest, I had been there before, and maybe so have you. We’ve been at the meeting place of disappointment and disgust in ourselves for the mistakes. The feelings, whether warranted or not, true or untrue, that cause us to replay in our minds past failures, misguided actions, or choices that turned out less than ideal.

Guilt can be associated with remorse that we feel as a result of doing or thinking something that we feel is wrong. Webster’s Dictionary has a variety of definitions I can appreciate: “the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty; the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously; feelings of deserving blame for offenses.”

The Dictionary of Psychology published by the American Psychological Association contends that guilt is a “self-conscious emotion characterized by a painful appraisal of having done (or thought) something that is wrong and often by a readiness to take action designed to undo or mitigate this wrong.”

Moving Cycle of Guilt

Guilt is a very powerful, yet complex response. It is action-oriented and prompts us cognitively or emotionally do something in response to how we think or how we feel. It can be real, based on actual events or derived from some false perception of our actions that if we really thought about it, could be traced to our inner misguided voices which heighten our sensitivity to the lies we tell ourselves.

Guilt is not just associated with doing wrong. There are some of us who feel guilty for the right things that we do. For instance, placing an aging relative in a nursing home because they cannot take care of themselves.

Self-Condemnation

The conscious plays a selective role which, Thomas Aquinas, the early church philosopher, suggests is a compass that either accuses or excuses our behavior. Because of the selectiveness of the conscience we can perceive even right actions that harm others indirectly, as being worthy of our self-condemnation.

Productive guilt drives us to repent, make recompense for our wrongs. But punitive guilt forces us to internalize our struggles and can oftentimes lead to shame. Shame is allowing the guilt to grow to the point that it moves from what we do; to who we are. We go from making mistakes to being defined by them to the point that we become our mistakes.

Get-Rid-of-Guilt Plan

  • Make guilt useful.

    Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning suggests that we can utilize guilt as a motivating factor in making ourselves better individuals. He states that “you are responsible for overcoming guilt, by growing beyond yourself.” What he is alluding to is the power within each of us to rise above the negative self-talk and constant beating up of ourselves to do something productive with the mistakes we have made.

 

  • Allow guilt to teach you.

    Your past does not define you. No matter what you have done, as long as you are still alive you can find forgiveness and recompense. God is far more concerned with who you are becoming than who you have been. Past mistakes can teach us, but also serve to help us teach others. The beauty of the scars from our past is the ability to point to them as we share our story with others to help them avoid where we have been.

 

  • Take responsibility, but don’t beat yourself up.

    Accept that you made a mistake and resist the seduction to think that you are so special that you can be the only other perfect person (other than Jesus) to walk the face of the earth. Mistakes are a part of the human condition.

 

  • Challenge your negative thoughts and feelings.

    Determine the source of your guilt. Is the guilt you are feeling truthful, or are you feeling guilty based off some misconception? Are you having persistent feelings of sadness, isolation, anxiety, depression? If those feelings are tied to your perception of your mistakes, it is time to do some serious introspection.

 

  • Accept that you are forgiven.

    Stop beating yourself up and thinking that you deserve to die or to suffer for your mistakes. Someone has already done that for you. In Grace for the Afflicted, Matthew Stanford contends that guilt can be used as a demonic accusation that can lead us to call into question the validity of the word of God.It can prompt us to read the promises of the Bible that tell us “as far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgressions from us“ (Psalm 103:12), or “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:19) as fanciful tales. Guilt can cause us to take the word of God which unequivocally assures us that we are forgiven for our past mistakes, our present ones, and the future ones as a lie, and can cause us to forever feel that we stand accused even for those things for which we have ardently sought forgiveness.

 

  • Let go.

    We cannot move forward and hold on at the same time. In order for us to be free from the guilt we carry, we have to let it go. The pathway to being able to let go of the condemnation and barrage of self-criticism, is truthfulness and honesty, which leads me to my last suggestion…

 

  • Seek help.

    There is nothing wrong with going to talk to someone who can keep your confidence about your thoughts, feelings or actions. Suffering in silence is one of the most unproductive things you can do. Talk to a counselor, pastor, or even a friend. Negative feelings grow when we keep them hidden, but there is something about bringing our darkness to the light that makes the burdens lighter that we carry because we are able to share them with someone else.

 




Five Teachings Your Family Needs for Spiritual Preparedness

Our greatest responsibility as parents has and will always be to spiritually prepare each child, based on their age, gender, temperament, strengths and weaknesses, personalities and gifts, for the soon coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Talk about Blended Family

We have a somewhat unique family. We were born in the mid to late 1960’s so we’re classified as “Baby Boomers” or “Generation Xers.” Our first two children who happen to be girls, ages 32 and 20 are considered “Millennials” or “Generation Y,” and last but not least, our 14-year-old daughter and 10- year-old son represent “Generation Z” or the “New Silent” generation. Our family is well represented, generationally speaking.

In the midst of the changing and dare we say tense political climate, influences by social media, peer pressure, and the simple emotional and developmental changes that each of our children experiences, we have had to be very deliberate and intentional in bringing awareness to them of the fact that earth is still only temporary and there is a life after this one worth living for.

We will share with you five lessons that God has given us to prepare our children to be candidates for Heaven and we hope these points will help you too.

Whether you’re a single mom or dad, or are a two-parent household, or a grandparent, or just simply you on your own, trying to make sense of this world we live in, we are still family!

1. Get To Know Who Made You.

You were created by God! Talk to Him through prayer. Matthew 6:9-13 teaches us the Lord’s prayer and how to talk to God.

Study Him. The entire Bible comprises factual accounts of people connected to the beginning, middle, and end of Jesus Christ’s life on earth, and all that will occur when He returns. 2 Timothy 2:15 encourages us to study God’s word because knowledge of our Creator removes shame and gives confidence in a world with so many conflicting traditions, messages and changes.

Henry Blackaby wrote in his best selling book, Experiencing God, “The Bible is God’s word to you. The Holy Spirit honors and uses God’s word in speaking to you. The Scriptures will be your source of authority for faith and practice. You cannot depend on human traditions, your experience, or the experience of others to be accurate authorities on God’s will and ways. Experience and tradition must always be examined against the teaching of Scriptures.”

2. Understand Who You Are.

Psalms 139:14 says, “I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” When you were made by the Creator, you received genetic traits from your parents and grandparents. Learn and understand your temperament, and your inherited strengths, as well as your inherited weaknesses. Don’t make excuses for your weaknesses, but give them to God daily. A great book that speaks more on this is, The Spirit-Controlled Temperament, by Tim LaHaye.

3. Develop Your Spiritual Gifts Daily.

God has given every child of His spiritual gifts to fulfil our purpose for being on this earth. Only what you do for Christ matters, so it is important that your decisions are driven by your spiritual gifts (Read 1 Corinthians 15:58 and 1 Corinthians 12:5-7).
Here is a great website to find out your spiritual gifts within a few minutes, and there’s even a version of the inventory for youth–www.spiritualgiftstest.com.

4. Understand That There Is Both Good and Evil In This World.

From the beginning there was good. God made Heaven and Earth. (Read Genesis 1.) But just as real and as good that God is, there is also evil that began by one who was once a beautiful and gifted angel in heaven. His rebellion, got him thrown out of Heaven down to this earth, along with a third of heaven’s angels. Satan—as he is called—makes it his mission to turn everyone against God. When this world comes to an end, the Bible tells us that Satan will lose, be permanently destroyed. No more evil, death, or sorrow will exist.
Stay close to God and you will be able to discern good from evil. You will not be confused by the mixed messages you will see and hear about God’s plan for the family and eternity (Revelation 12 and Ephesians 6:12).

5. God’s Love Is Bigger Than Your Mistakes.

Absolutely nothing can separate you from God’s love. “[I] am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing that you have said or done will stop God from loving you.

You do not have to live in the shame or guilt of the mistakes you have made or may make. God sent His Son Jesus who paid the price for those sins. He did this long before you were born and would sin. His love knows no end!

Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby, in the flesh, to show us His love in human form so we could see a real life example of God’s love on Earth. Jesus is the way to the God the Father, so if you study the life of Jesus Christ, you will understand God more and more, and will grow to love Him more and more!

 




Drama Files: Mother-in-Law Blues

Gage and Terri have been married for a short time. Terri is a loving wife to her husband and Gage is very compassionate towards Terri.

From the very first day of her marriage to Gage, his mother Kelly constantly would say unpleasant things to Terri to upset her. Terri would constantly mention this to Gage, but he totally ignored her by saying “ Mom means no harm.”

This made Kelly very uncomfortable over time. Her mother in law would bring Gage his favorite dishes over to their home, and stay for hours talking to her son while Terri ate alone. She would buy him gifts and offered nothing to Terri. The coldness and meanness was taking its toll on Terri. Terri started experiencing anxiety and depression and contacted my office to discuss the possibility of family intervention.

Seek to Understand

As Terri’s therapist I shared with her the purpose of family intervention is to provide counseling in an objective manner to help guide the family to a resolution. I also shared with her I felt it would be a positive way to address her concerns about her mother-in-law and help Gage to understand the seriousness of the situation.

Terri asked Gage to please ask his mother to come, and she agreed. Terri led the session with my guidance and shared her feelings and concerns. Kelly said she didn’t see the harm in still caring for her son.

“That is my responsibility to care for him, and for us to love each other and care for our home,” countered Terri. You have to stay in your lane as a mother, she told her.

Terri began to lay down some ground rules. Kelly would always be welcomed, but, she needed to please call first out of respect. Kelly apologized to Terri and Gage for her negative behavior. Over the next few months Kelly would call and greet Terri with a sincere warm greeting.

Mom’s Issues

One afternoon Kelly told Terri that “I feel I need to see Dr. Logan to help me with my fear of being alone and separation anxiety.” Terri told her that she would go with her to counseling if she would like. Kelly said “Thank you and I would appreciate that.”

Throughout the counseling process Terri and Kelly worked closely together and was able to learn coping skills to manage their concerns. Kelly had been suffering a long time since the passing of her husband and she began to lean on Gage for everything, even companionship.

Kelly developed realistic goals to engage in a healthier manner with Terri, also, intervention for her own healing and her only child getting married. She humbly apologized to Terri and made a commitment to follow-through with her counseling.

Now, That’s Progress

Terri and Gage are planning a vacation and asked Kelly to join them in Europe. Kelly has always wanted to go and she cried during the session when they told her.  “I promise to stay in my lane,” Kelly said.

Tips from Dr. Kim

When the day comes to meet your future mother-in law it will mean making adjustments in the relationship. Be open minded to suggestions. Be willing to share quality time together, and be careful not to isolate yourselves. Remember your future spouse has a family who still wants to engage and be a part of both your lives. Treat your mother-in-law with respect and kindness. Involve your spouse, especially if there’s conflict. Get comfortable with compromising and being firm when necessary. Don’t be afraid to be transparent and honest with one another. It may be painful going in but the end result will be worth it to eliminate the mother- in- law blues
A soft answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1.




Reframe Your Pain: Six Lessons On Loss

How can I see hope and purpose beyond my circumstances? How can I live a functional life with so much dysfunction around me? How can I get through this crisis, since I can’t seem to get out of it? How can I use this situation to grow?

Asking “How?” questions can spark the creativity necessary for reframing how we view our painful experiences. The biblical account of Job provides some big pictures to help us reset, rewire, reframe, our thought processes for dealing with stress, suffering, and sorrow. In quick succession, Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health—yet he held onto hope.

His story can help us “gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.” Here are six ways to reframe your pain.

One: Know There’s a Battle in the Background (Job 1:6-11)

The same enemy that brought pain to Job long ago and pains us today, began by being a pain in the atmosphere. Revelation 12:7-12 tells how an angel earned the nickname Satan, which means “the accuser.” He got his name from what he does non-stop, as Job 1 and Zechariah 3:1-2 reveal. He seeks to hurt God by hurting us, to condemn God by condemning us. His additional goal is to make us desert God and join his losing team. If it seems the world is getting crazier, it’s because the intensity of Satan’s attacks is directly related to the imminence of his demise.

  • Since God won the war in heaven, we have confidence that He will win the battle in the background that’s currently spilling into our lives, and
  • Since we can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, we shouldn’t presume to know the cause of an individual’s suffering.

Two: God is Bigger Than Your Outbursts (Job 3)

Have you ever heard of someone described as having the patience of Job? The picture of a patient Job is developed when we don’t pay attention past chapter 2. Beginning in chapter 3, and for much of the remainder of the book, we see the impatience of Job. He even recognized his own impatience: “Oh, if only my grief could be weighed, and my misfortune laid on the scales too! But because it is heavier than the sand of the sea, that is why my words have been wild” (Job 6:2-3, NET, emphasis added). Though Job implores God to strike him down, God isn’t tempted for a moment to do so (Job 6:8-9).

  • God can handle the wildness of our words toward Him, but people can’t. Cast your cares on Jesus and avoid emotionally overtaxing others.

Three: Sometimes Friends and Family Make Miserable Comforters (Job 16:1-5)

Even with the best of intentions, your loved ones will let you down. Job and his wife were both hurting, but processed their pain in very different ways. The fruit of Mrs. Job’s 10 years of childbearing was destroyed in one windstorm. Then some of the family’s wealth went up in smoke, while the rest was plundered by ruthless marauders. Now her husband’s physical condition rendered her home remedies useless. In Job 2:9, her solution was for Job to verbally curse God—thinking that would ensure a swift end to his agony. Mrs. Job’s intended comfort was offensive to Job. As the adage goes: Hurt people hurt people. Unfortunately, it is those closest to us who can hurt us the worst.

  •  If you accept that friends and family will fail your expectations, you’ll reduce your emotional burdens. Expecting more than others can deliver frustrates everyone.

Four: God Has No Grandchildren—Only Children (Job 19:25-27)

When we aren’t able to lean on anyone else for strength or solace, our individual relationship with God becomes imperative. If Job would’ve relied on his wife’s relationship with God to get him through, he would have cursed God to hasten the rest of death. If Job would’ve relied on his friends’ relationship with God, he would’ve confessed to something he wasn’t guilty of in order to be released from punishment. Job had cultivated a connection with God over his lifetime; therefore, he knew he didn’t need to settle for their recommendations. Job’s certainty was, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and…he will stand upon the earth…after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God…my own eyes will behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27, NET).

  • It’s OK to know the God of your grandparents, as long as you get to know Him for yourself.

Five: Restoration Follows Reconciliation (Job 42:7-10)

God doubled Job’s prosperity after Job prayed for his friends. God commanded him to intercede for people that had multiplied his misery. They had been trying to persuade Job that he was getting what he deserved, but now they must rely on his prayers to prevent them from getting what they deserve. When Job prayed for his errant friends, he foreshadowed the work of Jesus. After being afflicted with unearned suffering, he brought sinners into harmony with the heart of God. Instead of getting Job to abandon God, Satan’s attacks resulted in Job reflecting His maker’s image clearer than ever before.

  • God blesses us the most when are conduits, rather than consumers, of His blessings.

Six: Empower the Vulnerable (Job 42:13-15)

Job felt what it’s like to be powerless over your circumstances and even your own body. He had been wounded by self-righteous friends kicking him while he was down. He learned to distrust societal norms to protect his children’s well-being, especially his daughters. That’s why Job’s daughters are named, but not his sons (Job 42:13-14). Usually it was the sons whose names were publicized, while the daughters would be largely anonymous. Instead, Job made sure Jemimah, Cassia, and Keren Happuch, were recognized as individuals with names and personality.

Job further liberated his daughters from dependence upon the patriarchal system of his day by giving them an inheritance (Job 42:15). Usually, young ladies would be dependent upon and controlled by their fathers until they’re handed off to a husband. When their husbands died, the inheritance would be passed onto the sons. Widows would then be dependent upon their sons. Job’s move turned that construct upside-down…or perhaps, right-side-up.

  • Don’t waste painful experiences. Suffering should deepen our capacity for empathy. Draw from that reservoir to anticipate and meet the needs of others. Doing so will replace sorrow with joy, and loss with fulfillment.



Walk, Don’t Run. An Hour A Day Can Turn Off Your Fat Genes

In November 2011 my daughter Kiana and I ran the Honolulu Hawaii Marathon. I searched  for a “Honolulu Hawaii Marathon”  closer to home, but could not find any.  Alas, we had to force ourselves and fly to Hawaii. There we ran 26.2 miles of beautiful Oahu, a full marathon.

We could only find the “Honolulu Marathon” in Honolulu. I use the term “running” very liberally.

Now I use the word ‘ran’ very liberally. I did a lot of walking. A lot. (The next time you see me, ask me how long I took to complete the marathon). The point is, we finished and have our medals and tee-shirts to prove it. We trained for eight months before the trip, running and sometimes walking up and down our street.

Positive Health Benefits

Recently I found out that walking as an exercise, as opposed to running, has positive health benefits. Let us review a few here.

According to a study of 334,000 people by researchers at the University of Cambridge, a regular brisk walk, just 20 minutes a day, cuts your risk of premature death by almost a third. Two other studies, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago, suggest that walking can be a “potent weapon” in the battle against cancer.

The first study showed that over an eight-year period, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer and who walked for seven or more hours a week, were roughly half as likely to die from the disease than those who did not. The second study showed similar findings, this time for people who had intestinal cancers.

Walking Creates a Body Overhaul

Remember this is walking as an exercise not running.

  • A Harvard study showed that a brisk walk of about an hour a day counteracts by half the effects of “weight-promoting genes.”
  • Just 15 minutes of walking can curb the cravings for chocolate and a variety of sugary snacks.
  • Walking boosts the immune system and eases joint pain. Yes, several studies have found that walking protects the joints and reduces arthritis-related pain by lubricating the joints and strengthening the muscles that support them.
  • All the studies seem to confirm the fact that a regular walking schedule will reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events including heart attack, high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.

Side Effects and Drug Interaction Risks Eliminated

One researcher stated in regards to the benefit of walking “it’s like a miracle drug.” Now to be very clear, any new activity you plan to engage in like this should have the blessing of your health care provider. It is important to realize that if the benefits of walking is to be maximized, the “brisk walk” should be fast and long enough to produce a slight sweat, at least.

In conclusion, the Greek physician and “Father of Medicine, ” Hippocrates of Kos (460 BC – 370 BC), once said “Walking is man’s best medicine.” The founder of preventive cardiology and physician to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dr. Paul D. White (of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome fame), confirms this when he wrote “a vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy, but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”

So why don’t you join me and get motivated? Begin to walk for your health. Begin today.




No Counterfeits In Glory

Most believers are totally unaware that there has ever been a need to be wary of counterfeit worship.

In a world where image trumps character, it’s not unusual to find counterfeits of designer label products being sold as the “real McCoy.” Oftentimes winked at in polite society, counterfeiting offers a way of appearing to live the high-life, when one has to live on a budget.

Fake goods may trouble the average consumer, partly because of the ethical issues; but, safety is a far more serious concern. Often of inferior quality, bogus health and beauty products may actually cause harm. Consumer Reports Magazine notes, “At best these. . . will not perform as well as authentic ones. At worst, they can fail catastrophically with potentially fatal consequences.1” CNN Money notes that annually, $461 billion in counterfeit goods are sold globally.2

That large figure, pales however, in comparison to the very large number of believers, fooled by the greatest counterfeit scheme in the history of humanity. Although bogus as a $3 bill, there is an exercise in counterfeiting that has found acceptance among God’s people. Astonishing, given the Bible’s strong imperative that the redeemed should be capable of “. . . rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Still, most believers are totally unaware that there has ever been a need to be wary of counterfeit worship.

Angel Warning

As we conclude our examination of the three angels’ messages of Revelation chapter 14, we find counsel regarding worship. Understandable, given that worship is the central focus of Lucifer’s rebellion.

That God is worthy of worship is undeniable. Likewise, it is undeniable that Satan/Devil wants our worship, too. Track down his manifesto in Isaiah 14:12-14. Lucifer, as he was then called, wanted to be like the Most High. In Matthew 4:9, 10 the devil attempted to secure the allegiance and worship of Jesus by offering the Lamb of God the riches of the world.

Tracking down the origins of most counterfeit goods in our society may not be possible. Nevertheless, the origin of counterfeit worship is indisputable. It can be traced directly to Satan/Devil.

Obedience at the Heart

In this solemn and dire warning, Revelation 14:9 cautions, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. . .”

The messages of the three angels in Revelation 14 begin and end with a focus on worship, not on the substance of worship, nor on the style of worship. No, this call to worship is unmistakable. We are called to worship the Great God of Heaven, and Him only. Any worship that either disregards the Word of God or that is directed at anyone other than the Lord God, is counterfeit worship.

Furthermore, the angel made a direct correlation between our worship of the Almighty God, and our obedience to the will of God. Think of worship and obedience as the twin escorts, which guide believers into the Kingdom of God.

Read what Paul said about worship and obedience in Romans 6:16. There’s no ambiguity. The one we obey is the one we worship. Choosing to obey the Lord is an act of worship resulting in life everlasting. Choosing obedience to the devil is likewise an act of worship leading to everlasting destruction.

Behind the Scheme

Beware of counterfeit worship and its consequences, which is the essence of the third angel’s message. But, that message goes far beyond merely offering a warning regarding counterfeit worship. It also spells out the penalty this bogus worship system brings to those who follow it. They face suffering the wrath of God being poured out upon them, full strength, without the benefit of either grace or mercy.

The counterfeit system of worship orchestrated by Satan is an attempt to replace God’s commandments with the teachings of men. Rather than worshipping God, on the seventh day, as He commanded, (Exodus 20:8-11) the false system of worship has substituted the first day of the week. The net result is counterfeit worship.

Daily around the globe, consumers unwittingly purchase fake merchandise. Likewise, most believers have unwittingly embraced a counterfeit religious system that owes its authority to the doctrines of men, and not the Word of God.

The third angel warns against counterfeit worship, worship as directed by the beast, which receives its authority from the Dragon. Who is the dragon? Revelation 13:2 identifies him as Satan. Then, who is the beast? The beast is symbolic of a system of worship that finds tradition and human commandments subverting the Ten Commandment law of God.

According to Daniel 7:25 the beast attempted to change God’s law. Ezekiel 22:26 tells us, “Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have put no difference between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” The only earthly organization claiming the prerogatives to adjust both God’s Ten Commandments and the day of worship is the Papacy.

Can we know which system of worship claims our allegiance? Absolutely. A child of God can know whether they are true worshippers according to the will of God, or partakers of a counterfeit system of worship that will ultimately end in destruction. We can know ourselves. We need but compare ourselves with those the Bible says are truly on the Lord’s side. In Revelation 14:12 we read, “Here is the patience (steadfastness) of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Real or counterfeit? The choice is ours.

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This article is part of our 2018 September/October Issue
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DONALD L. McPHAULL, M.S.W., has enjoyed 30 years of ministry and is currently the senior pastor of the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles, California.




Walk out of Darkness-Emerging from the Shadow of My Son’s Suicide

Raising Awareness, raising money, raising our courage. These are ways we fight the epidemic of suicide.

My intent was to be there at the very beginning and to get involved, since I knew that I was truly ready to face this event. Last year’s Out of the Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) was a challenge for me. This challenge was a part of my healing – healing of the wound left by the loss of my one and only son to suicide six years, two months, and seven days ago.

It was important to keep busy doing whatever I could. I fully engaged  by helping to hang the banner by the pavilion, and assisting with setting up booths, snack tables. Everyone was diligently performing their assigned tasks. While we worked I kept hearing discussions about “the tree” that the staff was anxious to set up. They didn’t know if the tree would make it due to the rain. They didn’t know where they would set it up either. This tree was really piquing my interest.

Tree of Lives

Soon, walkers gathered. There were families, who had just lost loved ones, walking around with signs and photos showing the dates of their loss. Some wore shirts with sentiments such as: “Your Life Matters You Will Never Be Forgotten.”

Then I saw a bronze-looking object with pipes of different sizes being unloaded from a truck. This, as it turns out, was to become the tree.  Once the pipes, which were actually the limbs, were assembled to the base, there stood the tree, in spite of the wind and rain.

It became a reality, and the meaning was clearer to me.

We were then directed to the craft table where we could choose stock paper, glitter, markers and colored twine to affix pictures of our loved ones to the tree. Slowly, I chose stock paper in my favorite color (blue) and glued to it the picture of my son when he graduated from the University of Phoenix, at the top of his class with a master’s in International Marketing.

“Yes. I was very proud of him.” Marialyce who lost her son to suicide six years ago poses in front of the tree that keeps standing in spite of the storm and rain.

Say His Name

Yes, I was very proud of him.  My McCants LeVon Carter, born November 13, 1978 was a quiet  child who became more confident after high school. He loved and looked up to his older sister, and was so proud of his two nieces. He insisted that they pursue their education. When his nephew came along later, he was equally proud of him.

He was a lifelong learner. My son loved to read car magazines, and books by Ellen G. White, especially The Great Controversy. He graduated from Bowie State University in 2003, and immediately pursued his MBA.

His love was vibrant, and he surprised his sweetheart of seven years, Meredith, with a proposal on stage at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, Maryland. His proposal took place when they both graduated on the same day, with thousands in attendance. He later married her on his birthday. He loved Meredith and their two daughters.

 

Walk into the Light

It was an emotional moment to see the golden tree which bore pictures of our loved ones, even though I wondered why I was even at this event.

Once the ceremonies began, speakers told of their lost loved ones; some also told of trying to end their own lives. We know that people of all ages, ethnic groups and economic strata commit suicide. In fact, the numbers are higher for suicide than for all the veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam. A recent Washington Post article stated that suicide is a national epidemic, and that it needs to be treated like one. Organizers reminded us that AFSP needs more funding to lower these growing, alarming statistics.

The Walk will occur again, and my plan is to participate, again. Last year I walked the five miles, and met some of the walkers. There was a woman who was walking for her son, who lost his close friend to suicide. She wished her son could have been part of the Walk, and hoped her participation would serve as a vehicle for discussion and encourage her son to open up about his feelings.

If I Can Help Somebody

Overall, there was not much conversation as we were all there to represent the loss and to make a statement about the need for funding from the medical arena and the government. Losing a child is truly a tough journey. My desire is to help others get through this painful journey, which may be avoided by assisting others before they feel the need to take this final step.

Fortunately, I have had occasions to offer assistance to parents and family members by encouraging them that they, too, can make it through this trial. God does not give us what we can handle; God helps us handle what we are given

Find out how you can participate in a walk near you. Here’s one near me: