Friday, February 29, 2008

Wounded Healer

Dr. Robert Schuller has a saying about suffering: “Turn your scars into stars.” A little corny, to say the least, but a point well taken. As wounded healers, we are better able to minister to others, because we have been there – we’ve been through the fiery ordeal. Our scars give us legitimacy, our trials give us compassion, and our experiences give us credibility.

As a wounded healer, you can help people much more effectively, because you’ve been there, and you’ve come through it. For example, when I went into the hospital a few years ago with a heart problem and needed surgery, I stood on one of the many promises of God. I wasn’t too thrilled about facing surgery, but I clung to a verse I’ve used for years, which is Jeremiah 29:11:

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. NRSV

I knew God was with me, and so I was incredibly calm about the whole thing, which only God could do. God used my experience in the hospital to help others, both when I was taking the course on chaplaincy, and even now in my everyday ministry. In a way, I am a wounded healer – and now I can relate much better than I otherwise could have.

We all will suffer in some way, and will face trails until we arrive at our heavenly home, where there are no more tears, no more pain, and no more mourning. In the meantime, we’re stuck on this flawed and imperfect earth, so with God’s help let’s make the best of our inevitable difficulties. How do we make the best of it? By:

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God [we] shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God.

More about being a wounded healer in a future post.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What We Can Do in Our Trials

We all have to endure suffering and trials in this world – it’s a part of life. We have natural disasters, man-made disasters, personal life events (such as sickness and death), plus suffering the consequences of our own wrong actions. Aside from the last item, these are regrettable natural occurrences, which are not the result of God’s wrath or God’s lack of caring.

Given that we will all suffer in some way, we should trust that God will help us and make some good come out of it. Blessings can come from suffering. By our response to our ordeals, God can turn a disaster into a blessing, and an opportunity for us to glorify God in our actions.

1. Standing on the Promises

One way we can react to problems in life is to trust in the promises of God – in other words, “Standing on the Promises.” For example, the Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:10 (NRSV):

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

Jesus assures us in John 16:33 (NRSV): “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

Standing on the promises will help to get us through the tough times, as we are assured in that great hymn of the same name:
Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God.

2. Lean on God

Once you are standing on the promises, you put that faith into action by leaning on God. By leaning on God, we aren’t allowing the toxic emotions of anxiety and worry to overwhelm us, but are turning our fears over to God. It says to lean on God in 1 Peter 5:7 (NRSV): “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” Paul advises us in Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Another promise is found in Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. NIV

Let’s keep in mind the words of another great old hymn:
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace, with my Lord so near,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

3. Make the Most of It

Third, when suffering and grief come our way, we should commit to trust God to make the most of an unfortunate situation. We do this by yielding to him, and allowing God to make good to come out of our ordeal by not being bitter or resentful. The results of that will be blessings, such as deepening our faith and trust in God, learning from what we are going through, and building up our character. We read about some of the benefits of suffering in Romans 5:3b-5 (NRSV):

We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

This promise that God will make some good come out of out suffering comes from that familiar passage in Romans 8:28, 32:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them…
Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

This isn’t just wishful thinking – it’s a promise from God, found all over the Bible. I’ve read countless articles in Guideposts, Reader’s Digest, daily devotionals, and books, about how God used people’s suffering to accomplish good and blessings. If he’s done it for these other persons, he’ll certainly do it for you and me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fastest-Growing Churches

Below is an article of interest:

The two fastest-growing church bodies in the United States and Canada, according to a newly published report, are ones whose beliefs are known to conflict with traditional Christian teaching, reports

Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported the largest membership increases in a year, according to the National Council of Churches’ 2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches. Jehovah’s Witnesses reported a 2.25% increase in membership since the publication of the 2007 yearbook. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — also known as the Mormon church — grew 1.56% and is listed by the NCC as the fourth largest “church.”

Other bodies in the newly published top 25 largest churches list that reported membership increases include The Catholic Church (0.87%); the Southern Baptist Convention (0.22%); the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (0.21%); and the Assemblies of God (0.19%).

The greatest losses in membership were reported by The Episcopal Church, which dropped 4.15% in members, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which decreased by 2.36%. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also experienced large losses in membership, dropping 1.82% and 1.58%, respectively. Although the Methodist Church saw a 0.99% decrease, the mainline group remains the third largest church body with nearly eight million members.

The top ten religious bodies ranked by membership are as follows:

1. The Catholic Church — 67,515,016
2. Southern Baptist Convention — 16,306,246
3. The United Methodist Church — 7,995,456
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — 5,779,316
5. The Church of God in Christ — 5,499,875
6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. — 5,000,000
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — 4,774,203
8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. — 3,500,000
9. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — 3,025,740
10. Assemblies of God — 2,836,174

(Quoted from “The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing”, an e-newsletter published by Focus on the Family, Feb. 21, 2008. Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.)

After reading these statistics on growth, ponder the question: why aren’t the “mainline” churches growing, and why are most of them shrinking? I have my own thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours. Please give me your comments on this. PT

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Experiencing God

In an earlier post I included an article that looked at various ways people said they could experience God outside of the Church. While those other ways are certainly viable alternatives, I believe Jesus established the Church as the main vehicle for people to experience God and exercise their faith.

Jesus was referring, I believe, to the Church when he said to the Samaritan women in John 4:21: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” (NRSV) The Church is not a building or a particular location (such as the Temple in Jerusalem), but an active, living, breathing Body of Christ’s believers in many different locations throughout the world, working under the power of the Holy Spirit (or at least they should be).

The Church is not an organization or a hierarchy. It isn’t just the clergy, the bishops, or the Pope. First and foremost, it is the Body of Christ made up of the people who have decided to follow Jesus – his disciples. As a body of disciples, I believe we all have the five purposes that Rick Warren mentioned in his popular book, The Purpose-Driven Life. All people have those five purposes, which have been given by God, and which I believe can be best accomplished in and through the Church. These purposes are:

·Worship (that one of the main things the Church does);
·Fellowship (the best place to be with fellow believers;
·Discipleship (a good place to grow spiritually – difficult to do on your own);
·Ministry/Service (plenty of opportunities for laity in most churches);
·Mission/Evangelism (plenty of opportunities for laity in most churches).

I believe that people can’t fully express or exercise their faith outside of the Church, and they usually aren’t able to grow spiritually on their own (mainly because of a lack of self-discipline, something I can identify with). There are para-church ministries that are quite effective and do many worthwhile things, but all of them will admit that they are not substitutes for the Church, but they are adjuncts to the work of the Church. But we also have to remember: it isn’t the Church for the Church’s sake, but we are to be active in a church for the sake of Christ. The Church is a vehicle, a way of fulfilling these five purposes, not an end in itself.

If you haven’t been part of a church, please reconsider your position. No church is perfect, and the Church as a whole is far from perfect. Nevertheless, Jesus established it for a purpose, and we as his followers should be active participants in it.

Although I am writing this as a Christian and don’t claim to be speaking for any other religions, I do believe what I wrote in this post could be a guiding principle for any religion. For example, I would think being a part of a synagogue or mosque is very important to a person’s spiritual development and fulfilling G-d’s or Allah’s purposes for his or her life. So if you haven’t been as active in your place of worship as you perhaps should be, you may want to consider getting re-established with that body.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Christianity without the Church?

Below is an article of interest from Barna Research about people’s views concerning ways of experiencing God:

The results of a new study conducted by The Barna Group reveal that a majority of adults now believe that there are a variety of biblically legitimate ways to experience God outside of the conventional church.

At least 50 percent of adults who took part in the survey said that they felt that each of these six alternatives were “a complete and biblically valid way for someone who does NOT participate in the services or activities of a conventional church to experience and express their faith in God:”

Engaging in faith activities at home, with one’s family (considered acceptable by 89%).
·Being active in a house church (75%).
·Watching a religious television program (69%).
·Listening to a religious radio broadcast (68%).
·Attending a special ministry event, such as a concert or community service activity (68%).
·Participating in a marketplace ministry (54%).

Other alternatives that were not supported by a majority of those questioned included interacting with a faith-based Web site (45%) and participating in live events via the Internet (42%).

The study also showed that 28 percent of adults who did not attend a conventional church in the past month did take part in one or more of the alternative expressions of faith. Also, two out of three senior pastors of Protestant churches agreed that “house churches are legitimate Christian churches,” but only 40 percent said they would ever recommend a house church to someone.

For the complete report, visit

(Quoted from “The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing”, an e-newsletter published by Focus on the Family, Feb. 21, 2008. Copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.)

Some comments on this article follow in a later post. PT

Friday, February 22, 2008

Death in an Abortion Clinic

Below is an article of interest that I doubt you’ll see in any of the media:

Abortionist Surrenders Medical License after Patient Dies

Rapin Osathanondh will never practice medicine again after a 22-year-old patient died during an abortion at his Hyannis, Mass., clinic in September. He permanently surrendered his license Wednesday in the wake of a criminal investigation and disciplinary action.

On Monday, the Boston Medical Examiner's office declared the cause of Laura Smith's death was "cardiac pulmonary arrest during anesthesia during a voluntary termination of pregnancy."

Operation Rescue broke the news of Smith's death, then worked with her mom, Eileen, to apply public pressure to authorities so the death was not covered up.

"While nothing can bring back Laura and her baby, we take great comfort in knowing that Osathanondh will never again hurt another woman or kill another innocent child," Operation Rescue spokeswoman Cheryl Sullenger said.

Quoted from CitizenLink, an enewsletter put out by Focus on the Family. Feb. 21, 2008. © 2008 Focus on the Family Action, Inc.

The reason I put this in my blog is to let you know that deaths do occur in “safe” abortion clinics. These clinics feel they are above the law and resist state inspections, and they don’t report underage pregnancies as required by law. The public needs to understand what’s going on. PT

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Looking at the Unchurched

Below is an article of interest:

A new survey of U.S. adults who don’t go to church, even on holidays, finds 72 percent say, “God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists.” But just as many (72%) also say the church is “full of hypocrites,” reports Additionally, 44 percent agree with the statement, “Christians get on my nerves.” The survey was conducted by LifeWay Research, the research arm for the Southern Baptist Convention

(Quoted from Pastor’s Weekly Briefing, January 17, 2008. © 2008, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colorado. All rights reserved.)

A lot of Christians get on my nerves as well, but that's no excuse to stay away from worship. It's about God, not you or me! PT

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Needs of Men and Women

In earlier posts I discussed why marriages get in trouble. I’d like to conclude this series of posts on marriage by examining the needs of men and women – which (surprise!) are different. We know they’re different, but we really don’t know exactly how they’re different. Along those lines, the last thing I want to discuss is what women really want from their husbands, and what men really want from their wives.

Needs of a Woman

The two biggest needs for women are love and security. They sort of go hand in hand, because if a woman feels genuinely loved, she will also feel secure. In the passages in the Bible concerning marriage, what are men told to do? “Love your wife.”

Ephesians 5:25a: Husbands, love your wives…
1 Peter 3:7a: Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together…
Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.

Women are naturally more loving, but the husbands need to be told to love their wives. This means that the men, while willing to die for their families if necessary, must also demonstrate their love in ways that are meaningful to women.

These include self-sacrificing acts (like devoting more time to the family), giving up some of the things you used to do for the good of the marriage, frequent outward signs of affection (and not just when you want something), remembering her birthday, your anniversary, and other important dates, surprising her with something thoughtful on occasion, and buying her an expensive diamond (OK, we can skip the diamond – besides, it is meaningless if your heart isn’t in it, and they can tell, believe me).

Needs of a Man

What do men want? The other thing that men want most is respect. Women want respect too, of course, but it is a very high priority for men, even though they might not even realize it. You may love a man, but if you act as if you don’t respect him, the relationship is in serious trouble.

Nowhere in the Bible does it tell wives to love their husbands. Women love – that’s what they do. But they don’t always respect. Above I just quoted three verses from those sections of the New Testament having to do with marriage and family relationships. The corresponding commands for wives in those sections have to do with respect. God, our Creator, knows that men need respect, because that’s how God made them. As I read these three verses, look beyond the words, and see what is really behind them:

Ephesians 5:22a: Wives, be subject to your husbands…
1 Peter 3:1a: Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands…
Colossians 3:18: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Looking behind the words of these verses, what are they really saying? We can see that respect is at the heart of the matter. While husbands today don’t have the same kind of authority over the family that men had in the times of the Roman Empire, they still need to be respected. Yet our culture puts down men and many wives disrespect their husbands. Maybe if men were respected more, they would rise to the occasion and be more deserving of that respect.


Obviously this series of posts only scratched the surface of the subject of love, marriage, and the family. But with a 50% divorce rate in this country, we have to start somewhere. We as Christians should pay close attention to what God tells us in the Bible about these subjects, and then put these principles into practice. A damaged or broken relationship means heartache, pain, resentment, and even economic hardship.

It also affects the children. Jesus cares about children. I don’t believe it’s an accident that his comments about children immediately follow his discussion of marriage in Mark 10. As it says in the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

So let us remember that we brought children into this world, and to break up a marriage is to hurt those children we have a responsibility for. That doesn’t mean we stay in a bad marriage, but that we should work hard to fix what is wrong with the marriage. Divorce should be the absolute last option when all else fails, unless, of course, abuse is involved. Then get out, and get out fast!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Meaning of Lent

If you haven’t read it, I recommend you read the article on Lent in the Tuesday, 2/18/08, edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal. There are a couple of things I would like to emphasize about Lent.

First, we don’t give up something for Lent or do other good works to earn favor with God, or perhaps to earn our way to heaven. We should be doing these things out of love – we love God because he first loved us, and gave his Son so that we may live.

Second, we should use the season of Lent to strengthen our relationship with God through Jesus. While giving up something is nice, we should also commit to read Scripture or at least a daily devotional such as The Upper Room (by Upper Room Ministries of the United Methodist Church), Our Daily Bread (by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI), or In Touch (the ministry of Charles Stanley, Atlanta, GA). I don’t recommend Daily Word, which is put out by the Unity School of Christianity.

Third, we should take the opportunity of Lent to develop spiritual disciplines, such as committing to attend church every week from now on, setting aside a time of prayer (such as while commuting instead of listening to the radio), or attending a Bible study.

In these ways, Lent can be much more meaningful for you.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents Day

Whenever we celebrate Presidents Day or Independence Day, I always think of how blessed this country is. One major blessing is the wisdom and foresight of the founders. I believe they took the best of the Enlightenment and combined those with biblical principles, forming a unique country and form of government. Being of English heritage helped, because of their history of the rule of law and personal freedoms going back to the Magna Charta.

At just the right time, God provided us with leaders of uncommon courage and wisdom, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Think of it – Washington turned down a suggestion that he become the first king of the US! Who else would turn down such an offer?

The founders carefully thought out and wrote the Declaration of Independence and later established the Constitution. The Declaration is the Constitution’s foundational and guiding document, containing its underlying principles. It is up to us to continue in the spirit of those two documents, so that this nation, under God, which is of the people, by the people and for the people, will not perish.

This nation is, I believe, following paths to destruction. We have abandoned the God of our ancestors and we are disregarding their principles and values, substituting for them revisionist interpretations of what the Constitution says. We have confused license for liberty. Let us, therefore, heed what God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NRSV): “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

More Reasons Why Marriages Fail

In an earlier post I looked at reasons why marriages fail. Let’s look at some more reasons. If we have been warned, hopefully we will avoid these pitfalls.

Wedding More Important Than Marriage

I think some women are so focused on the wedding that the marriage suffers. I may be wrong, but I’ve sensed that some women are in a hurry to get married just to have that Big Day. So much effort is expended on that day of days, that there is a tremendous letdown once the wedding is all over and you settle into a routine. Again, the debt that is built up to pay for this extravaganza is staggering, and immediately puts a strain on the couple. The wedding day should be special, but it must kept in perspective. The wedding is for a day – a marriage should be for a lifetime.

God Not in the Marriage

At every wedding I perform, I always say that it takes three people to make up a successful marriage: the man, the women, and God. Often God is left out, and the marriage suffers. You keep God in the marriage by: praying together, going to church together, seeking God’s will in all your decisions, and trusting God in all you do.

These will strengthen your faith and your marriage. If you want to raise the kind of kids that turn out to be upstanding citizens and godly adults, don’t keep God out of their lives. Teach them morals and ethics, read them Bible stories, and send them to Sunday school.

Don’t Understand One Another

Another problem is that men don’t understand women, and women don’t understand men. That’s why there’s a booming business in marriage books – anything to help us figure out the opposite sex! Reading a few of those books will help you understand how your spouse thinks.

Not only are we different as individuals, but men and women really do differ in how each views the world, how each communicates, and how each perceives and responds to different things.

It may not make sense to you, but that’s how he or she thinks and perceives things, which can be quite different from the way you do. Learning about these differences is definitely worth the investment in time. Two good books on the subject of the differences between men and women are “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” and “Men are like Waffles and Women are like Spaghetti.” If you haven’t read them, I suggest you do so.

In a future post I will discuss the needs of men and women in more detail.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reasons Why Marriages Fail

In an earlier post I wrote about why I believe God established marriage. Unfortunately, marriages do fail. They fail, not because there is something wrong with the institution of marriage as some claim, but because there is something wrong with us (we are sinners).

If we have an understanding of some of the reasons why marriages fail, we can be better equipped to resolve these issues. Of course some marriages dissolve because of abuse, and nobody should stay in an abusive relationship of any kind.

Some marriages fail because of adultery, and in such cases, trust is betrayed and terrible emotional wounds are inflicted. The couple must then decide if healing is possible, and determine if both of them are truly committed to trying to get past this and rebuilding their relationship. Rebuilding the relationship after trust has been betrayed is a long process, but it can be done if both parties are committed and willing to work hard at it.

Let’s look at some other reasons why marriages get into trouble.

Concept of Love

People have this romantic concept of love, which is really infatuation, not the self-sacrificing agape love that Christians are called to have. 1 Corinthians 13 describes what this self-sacrificing agape love is:

[It is] patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, is not proud. It is not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs [there’s a big one!]. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Once the infatuation wears off, some people believe they have “fallen out of love” and prefer to move on or have an affair. True love is an act of the will, and goes much deeper than infatuation and physical attraction. As the years go by, love should grow, not diminish, as you have more and more shared experiences and memories. Often love grows stronger because of the adversities you have faced together, and overcome as a team.

Unrealistic Expectations

Along with a wrong concept of love are unrealistic expectations. For example, some people enter into a marriage with expectations that their mate will meet all of their needs. No human being can possibly do that.

There’s an old saying that women marry a man expecting him to change, and men marry a woman expecting her never to change. Both are unrealistic expectations.

Lack of Commitment

In many churches the marriage ceremony is called a marriage covenant. “Covenant” means a promise or a commitment, so the couple getting married is encouraged to realize that this is a lifetime commitment they are making.

Yet it seems to me that many people today are not serious about making a lifetime commitment. Whether they consciously realize it or not, I suspect many people enter into a marriage thinking that if it stops working for them, they’ll bail out. Obviously that’s not commitment – it’s self-centeredness. This self-centeredness often leads to serial polygamy in which a person marries and divorces repeatedly, caring nothing for his or her spouses, only seeking the kind of satisfaction and fulfillment found only in God.

Self-centeredness will destroy any kind of relationship faster than anything else. That’s why the love in a marriage must be the self-sacrificing kind, the kind of love that is more interested in the other person’s welfare than in your own. Whenever you hear the word “love” in the New Testament, such as in 1 Corinthians 13, it is referring to the self-sacrificing agape love, not the self-centered eros. Agape is true love, not the dreamy-eyed, schmaltzy kind of emotion that passes for love these days.

Poor Choices

Often poor choices are made, including the choice of a spouse, getting married too young, or not taking the time to get to know each other better. One comment on getting to know each other better. Co-habitation is thought of as a “trial run” but statistics have shown that it doesn’t work that way. Co-habiting couples who eventually do get married have no better success rate than those who didn’t live together before marriage.

Another poor choice is that I think some people get married out of habit. They’ve been going together for a while, seem to get along, and so they end up getting married. The problem is, they really aren’t that compatible, and they don’t have that deep love that is necessary for a successful marriage. Such marriages are a disaster waiting to happen! Either the marriage won’t last, or they’ll be miserable.

Other poor choices almost guarantee there will be financial difficulties, stress, and conflict. For example, some couples spend huge amounts of money on a wedding and honeymoon. Then they buy an expensive house, fill the house with expensive furniture, have two costly vehicles in the driveway, and still have student loans to pay off. While it’s a good idea to build equity in a house as soon as possible, buying an enormous house you really can’t afford is going to cause financial strains. How can anybody get a marriage off to a good start when they are up to their eyeballs in debt?

More on why marriages fail in a future post. Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Reasons Why God Established Marriage

Today fewer people are getting married, and instead are choosing to live together (according to recent polls). Moreover, there is a roughly 50% divorce rate among those who do get married. God established marriage for a number of reasons. I want to explain God’s purposes for establishing marriage as I understand them in the hope that it will help some people with their decision-making with respect to marriage.

One of the Ten Commandments says “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Jesus taught that divorce is not in God’s plan. There are numerous passages in both the Old and New Testaments regarding adultery, marriage and family relationships. You might be wondering, why is God so interested in marriage and the family?

We know that God instituted marriage and the family, as we read in the Genesis account that Jesus quoted in the Gospels. God had good reasons for establishing them, and for wanting them to be preserved and kept strong.

For the Children

A major reason God established marriage and wants it strong is so that children could be raised in a stable and secure environment. In Genesis 1:27-28a, we read about God’s plan for the human race to be fruitful:

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…” NRSV

Notice that passage says, “in the image of God he created them.” One possible meaning for that “image of God” statement is that we humans were created to be relational beings, just as God is a relational Being. We see that relational aspect of God’s nature within the Trinity.

We also see that God is relational because God wants to have a relationship with us, the pinnacle of creation. God wants us to have healthy relationships with each other, and to have an intimate relationship with God through Jesus.

For Our Well-Being

Another reason why God established marriage was because God felt we shouldn’t be alone. This ties in with the relational aspect of our nature, as we read in Genesis 2:18:

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” NRSV

Men and women were created to be together, forming a partnership for mutual support and love, and for helping each other in raising the next generation. Anybody who is a single parent will tell you that it is a very hard job, without a husband or wife for support. I applaud those struggling to raise children without a mate, because I know it isn’t easy. I also commend those parents, friends, and other family members who so lovingly support them in that difficult but important task.

For the Good of Society

Still another reason why God established the institution of marriage is to provide the basic unit of society, the foundation upon which all of society rests. If the family is weakened, society suffers. I believe many of the problems our society is facing today can be traced back to the weakened state of the family unit.

For the good of society and future generations, plus their own well-being, husbands and wives should work diligently to build up their marriage.

More on marriage in a future post.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Liberals Are So Predictable

In an earlier post in which I summarized why I didn’t want a liberal for President, I said that I could easily predict a liberal candidate’s policy or position on an issue, despite what he or she may actually say on the topic. Let me explain where I am coming from.

The Left has a very rigid orthodoxy, with little variation that I can see. On almost any issue their positions are uniform. So if a liberal takes a position on an issue that is different from the left-wing orthodoxy, then either they are lying or they aren’t really a liberal, but probably a moderate. Both Hillary and Obama are liberals, and their positions on issues are almost identical, with only slight variations.

The reason I mention this is because the Right is always being accused of rigid orthodoxy. I actually see more flexibility on the Right (although not the Far Right) than I see on the Left. Interestingly, both the Right and the Left don’t know what to make of moderates, who don’t fit neatly into any of their categories. So people like Lieberman and McCain are not warmly embraced by the Left and Right respectively because they are not viewed as orthodox (in the political sense, not the religious).

What happened to Lieberman makes a strong statement about the Left being intolerant of any deviation from liberal orthodoxy. Because he differed from leftist orthodoxy on the war in Iraq, he was summarily dumped by the Democratic Party, which vigorously promoted his opponent when Lieberman was up for re-election for the Senate in Connecticut. He was rejected by the party, despite being their vice-presidential candidate at one time, and serving his state and party well in the Senate for many years.

There is another case of leftist intolerance. When pro-life former governor Casey of Pennsylvania wanted to speak at the democratic national convention years ago, he was refused because he was pro-life. So much for being “liberal” (meaning open-minded).

I haven’t been at all pleased with the Republicans, either. Bush has been a major disappointment, and the Republicans accomplished very little while they had majorities in both houses. They deserved to lose their majorities, and I’m glad they did. On the other hand, I haven’t seen the Democrats accomplish much now that they have majorities. I believe both parties are in the pockets of the special interests, so little gets done. They are generally more interested in conducting the party’s business than the people’s business. We all will suffer in the end. Congress fiddles while Rome burns.

By the way, I see this same sort of rigid leftist orthodoxy in the religious realm. The religious left is very predictable as well, despite their claims of being open-minded and tolerant. Therefore, it is sheer hypocrisy when they criticize the religious right for being so unyielding.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love

Below is an article of interest by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 02-03-08, concerning the view liberals have of non-liberal Christians. If you are a member of the Christian Left (yes, there is such a thing-think of the loudmouths who claim to speak for mainline denominations but really don’t, such as Winkler of the United Methodist Church), you are pretty much accepted by liberals because you are perceived as “one of them”. However, if you are on the Christian Right, you are the enemy, to be vilified, mocked, or just dismissed as some fundamentalist nutcase. So much for tolerance. That’s why I like what this article has to say – a breath of fresh air.

At a New York or Los Angeles cocktail party, few would dare make a pejorative comment about Barack Obama’s race or Hillary Clinton’s sex. Yet it would be easy to get away with deriding Mike Huckabee’s religious faith. Liberals believe deeply in tolerance, and over the last century have led the battles against prejudices of all kinds, but we have a blind spot about Christian evangelicals. They constitute one of the few minorities that, on the American coasts or university campuses, it remains fashionable to mock. Scorning people for their faith is intrinsically repugnant, and in this case it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of how far evangelicals have moved over the last decade.

Today, conservative Christian churches do superb work on poverty, AIDS, sex trafficking, climate change, prison abuses, malaria, and genocide in Darfur. Bleeding-heart liberals could accomplish far more if they reached out to build common cause with bleeding-heart conservatives. And the Democratic presidential candidate (particularly if it’s Mr. Obama, to whom evangelicals have been startlingly receptive) has a real chance this year of winning large numbers of evangelical voters.

“Evangelicals are going to vote this year in part on climate change, on Darfur, on poverty,” said Jim Wallis, the author of a new book, “The Great Awakening,” which argues that the age of the religious right has passed and that issues of social justice are rising to the top of the agenda. Mr. Wallis says that about half of white evangelical votes will be in play this year. A recent CBS News poll found that the single issue that white evangelicals most believed they should be involved in was fighting poverty. The traditional issue of abortion was a distant second, and genocide was third.

Quoted in the “Media Roundup,” an e-newsletter published by the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, 02/04/08.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Why I Don’t Want a Liberal as President

While I sympathize with many of the issues that liberals promote, I believe that their solutions are typically unrealistic or they don’t really have any viable solutions at all. For example, we are facing a multitude of problems with our consumption of imported oil and extensive burning of carbon-based nonrenewable natural resources. Have the liberals come up with a solution? No, only a few partial solutions. See my earlier posts on this topic.

After Bill Clinton was elected the first time, the political climate was right for improvements to our health care system. What did Hillary do? She came up with such a terrible plan that nothing has been done on the subject since then. Her ultra-liberal plan for universal health care was more socialistic than the French system!

Without going into a lot of detail, below are my concerns if Clinton or Obama get elected, especially now that the Democrats will continue to have majorities in both houses of Congress for the foreseeable future. I don’t care what the candidates say on a topic – they are liberal Democrats and I know what they will do because of their ideology. Liberals are very predictable because they have a rigid ideology that they follow religiously.

Judges and Justices: a liberal Democrat will appoint activist judges who won’t just interpret the law, but will make law, revising the Constitution to fit their agendas.

Israel: Israel will receive less of the kind of moral, diplomatic, and military support it needs to defend itself in such a hostile part of the world because liberals tend to be lukewarm towards Israel at best.

The War: despite the rhetoric, nobody is going to pull out of Iraq immediately, leaving a power vacuum that will be filled by extremists. However, a liberal will probably begin a phased withdrawal almost immediately, signaling that the war is winding down and thus giving the enemy hope of taking over Iraq soon.

Taxes: all those wonderful government programs come at a cost – higher taxes. There ain’t no free lunch, baby!

Unintended Consequences: all government programs suffer from the law of unintended consequences. For example, the Great Society welfare system came at the expense of creating a dependent underclass that became locked into a cycle of poverty. Liberals with the best of intentions pass laws or establish programs that end up with nasty consequences that may take a generation or two to correct.

Energy Policy: we desperately need a good energy policy with the aim of freeing us from all dependence on foreign oil and reducing carbon emissions radically. The Republicans haven’t delivered, and the Democrats will deliver very little: forced conservation measures for the most part, but no real solutions. The tough things that need to get done won’t, because the auto companies and the oil companies are too powerful. They are the ones calling the shots, not the President or Congress. Moreover, liberal doctrine precludes a key way of reducing carbon emissions – nuclear power.

Traditional Values: liberal doctrine does not include traditional values, so we will see no improvement there. Just look at the string of laws that have been passed in California in the past couple of years now that the liberals tightly control both houses and they have a liberal (even though Republican) governor.

Abortion: there will be no restrictions at the federal level, and activist judges will shoot down state initiatives. Any health care plan put forth by the Democrats will contain tax-funded abortions.

Foreign Relations: will improve, because a liberal will be more acceptable to the European powers and will probably not be pro-Israel (which will endear him or her to the Islamic countries). Liberals tend to be internationalists.

Freedom of Religion: will probably be limited further (despite First Amendment guarantees) under the guise of preventing “hate speech” (it’s already happened in other countries) and revisionist interpretations of the doctrine of separation of church and state. We will also see more limits on free speech in general.

Elitism: one of the issues I have with liberals is that they are elitists, meaning they believe they have all the answers and the rest of us are ignorant yahoos that don’t have the wisdom they have. The people’s opinions count for little, because the people are stupid. To give you an idea of how that elitism works, read the following blurb about an activist judge who totally ignored the will of the people:

“Last week, in the state of Oregon, plans to enforce statewide legalization of gay marriage were given a seemingly underhanded nudge when a U.S. district judge ruled that the opinion of the people did not really matter. Judge Michael Mosman concluded that the state did not need to count all of the signatures on a petition proposing a vote of the people on a state law to create same-sex domestic partnerships with rights and privileges identical to married couples. Instead, Mosman threw out a lawsuit against Oregon's domestic partnership law, allowing the legislation to go into effect last Friday.”

In California, we have seen the state government totally ignore the will of the people as well. The people passed referendums that have been totally ignored by the state legislators. When the liberals get into power, they rule with an iron fist. So much for the will of the people. What ever happened to a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Dobson’s Choice

I read the recent announcement in Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink email alert dated 2/5/08 that stated Dr. Dobson “cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain.” While he was speaking as a private citizen, he is no ordinary Joe, and his opinions carry a lot of weight among conservative Christians. I am stating my opinion on the matter to give another viewpoint to those people who might be influenced by Dr. Dobson.

I was appalled that he made such a statement. Furthermore Dr. Dobson stated that given the present possibilities for presidential candidates, he “simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life.” I wonder if he has thought through the impact what he is doing. I’m also beginning to wonder if he has lost his mind, as it appears Pat Robertson has.

What Dobson is doing is encouraging millions of conservative voters not to vote. He is encouraging them to disenfranchise themselves. Voting shouldn’t be an option – it is a duty. If enough conservative voters simply stay away from the polls, certainly it is obvious what will happen: a liberal Democrat will be our next president. Does Dobson really want that? Do you, if you are a conservative, want to hand over the presidency to a liberal on a silver platter by not voting?

If Clinton or Obama get elected, Dobson will then spend the next four or eight years whining about the situation on his radio program and in his newsletters. But Dobson (and any other voters who stay away) will have no one to blame but themselves. To my way of thinking, Dr. Dobson, is acting like a child. Just because his ideal candidate isn’t running doesn’t mean he should sabotage the Republican who is running. Sometimes you have to vote defensively to keep the worse candidate from winning. That’s just the way the system works – something Dobson doesn’t seem to understand.

George Bush is probably as close as any person can come to Dobson’s ideal candidate, and look what he’s done. He got us involved in an immoral war, causing the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, and has destabilized the Middle East. The list goes on of his misdeeds. So, Dr. Dobson, your ideal candidate will probably go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever to hold that office. You might want to rethink your position.

Dr. Dobson certainly doesn’t have to endorse a candidate if he doesn’t want to, but he should encourage his conservative following to do their duty and vote. If Dobson doesn’t do this, then I think he is doing a great disservice to this country, to the family, and to the traditional values he is trying to protect.

I will briefly outline why I prefer a moderate or conservative president over a liberal in a future post so you understand where I'm coming from.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Love Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Marriage These Days

Below is an article of interest concerning marriage and relationships:

Four out of ten Americans say they don’t need a marriage certificate to prove love or commitment, according to an online survey by AOL Personals and Zogby International taken in November 2007.

Nearly half of the respondents (44%) between the ages of 20 and 69 said they didn’t need marriage to validate their relationships. A majority of those in their 30s (73%) said they would prefer to live together first and most said marriage should truly be until “death do us part.” Trust is highly important for the singles in their 20s.

Although the 20-somethings are also more open to experimenting with sexual relationships, they are more inclined to end a partnership over infidelity than work through any infidelities. For older respondents — who didn’t feel the need to be married and were more comfortable accepting infidelity “as part of life” — companionship was more important.

Quoted from Pastor’s Weekly Briefing, January 17, 2008. © 2008, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colorado. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Judgment of Future Generations

We look back at past generations and ask, “How could they have done that?’ We ask that question about slavery, the near genocide of the American Indian, and a host of other misdeeds. Future generations will look at us and ask the same thing. “How could they let that happen?” How could they have done that?”

What will the judge us on? I think the main thing they will judge us on is our waste of non-renewable natural resources, especially oil. We have squandered our natural resources at an alarming rate, and future generations will have to pay for our profligacy. We will be judged harshly, and rightfully so. Can you see your grandchildren looking at old TV programs or pictures of street scenes, and seeing the behemoths we were driving? “Grandma, you mean you needed a truck to go to the supermarket?”

They will also condemn us for polluting the atmosphere and causing conditions they’ll be stuck with. If the dire predictions are even close to being correct – and we really don’t know for sure until it’s too late – our grandchildren and future generations will be stuck living in a different world: coastal cities either abandoned or having high seawalls to protect them, more extremes of weather, more severe droughts and flooding, etc. Those generations will look back at us and ask, “How could you let this happen? You were warned, but paid no attention.”

When our country becomes a second-rate power and has exported most of its jobs overseas, future generations will condemn us severely. Once you’ve lost it, economic, political, and military power is tough to get back. We’ve let our infrastructure deteriorate, our manufacturing capacity shrink, plus we are dependent on unstable countries which hate us for the lifeblood of our economy – oil. Not a good position to be in.

If future generations turn back to God, then they’ll ask these questions:
“How could you kill over a million unborn babies a year, in the US alone?”
“How could you allow the teaching the godless theory of evolution as fact?”
“How could you allow atheists and secularists to dictate what is allowable in the US? Didn’t you understand the Constitution? What were you thinking?”
“How could you allow the various genocides to occur around the world?”

We have become so fat, dumb, and happy that we can’t see the handwriting on the wall. We continue to turn away from God, we continue our wasteful ways, and we are doing nothing to reverse the downhill slide. I pray for revival, that we will turn back to God; I pray for wisdom that we reverse our wasteful ways; and I pray for guidance that we will stop the slide to decadence and return to the values and discipline that made this country great.