Can God’s Creation Create Healing?

12 08 2019

I recently read a Reader’s Digest article called, The Nature Cure and was totally intrigued.  I will share some of the information from that article below.  It seemed to verify what I have believed and incorporated into my life, certainly appreciating that this periodical would help to validate this belief.

 

The article actually called nature a “miracle medicine for our mental health.” It seems social scientists are discovering that our brains are not machines which do not tire, but rather become easily fatigued and with as little as three days of rest, creative problem-solving tasks can increase by 50 percent!

 

When architect Fredrick Olmsted looked over Yosemite Valley, he urged the California legislature to, “…protect it from development…. that the occasional contemplation of natural scenes is favorable to the health and vigor of men.”

 

Thousands of years ago gardens were constructed for this very reason — rest and mental relaxation.  It seems most kings mentioned in the Scriptures incorporated them.  The U.S. national park system was created because people like Ralph Waldo Emerson built a case for creating the park system stating that nature had healing powers.

 

Researchers today are discovering that people who live in or near “green spaces” suffer less depression, anxiety and migraines.  A study in Japan found those persons who walk in the forest decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  There is healing in God’s gift of nature and yet less than a quarter of Americans spend 30 minutes or more outside in nature daily.

 

Did you know pediatricians are now telling parents with young families to regularly visit parks so the whole family can de-stress and play? When is the last time you went camping, hiking in the mountains, visited gardens, introduced your child to the wonders of a stick, sat around a campfire, watched a sunset, played in a creek, observed butterflies or sat by a lake?

 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made.  (Genesis 2:8

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake.  (Matthew 13:1)

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Growing Respect in our Marriages

5 08 2019

Someone once shared with me these words, “I’ll respect him when he starts respecting me.” Still another said, “When she starts acting respectable, I’ll show her respect.”  Really? Since when is respect conditional upon another respecting you?

 

Do you show respect to your boss even when they are not in some way earning that respect?  Do you respect out of a desire to obey God, regardless of what you feel the other is or is not doing?  Were you aware of the fact that there are respect clauses in the Scripture?  Peter wrote that we were to “…treat them [wives] with respect,” and Paul wrote “…the wife must respect her husband.”  (I Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:33) There were no additional words that stated if the husband or wife also showed respect.  Then again, there are no words that state we can demand respect — that’s not how it works.

 

Judas did a lot of disrespectful things as a disciple of Christ and yet Jesus still washed his feet along with the others.  The woman caught in adultery was not the most respectable and neither was the woman at the well and our Savior showed much respect and forgiveness toward them.  Perhaps your wife or your husband has not always shown you respect, but that does not give you license to return the same.

 

I love how author Gary Thomas weighs in on this very subject, “As our partners and their weaknesses become more familiar to us, respect often becomes harder to give.  But this failure to show respect is more a sign of spiritual immaturity than it is an inevitable pathway of marriage.”  He also notes, “When there is mutual respect in marriage, selflessness becomes contagious…. If you want to obsess about them [weaknesses], they’ll grow, but you won’t!”

 

How is respect growing in your relationships, especially within your marriage?





How Long Have You Been Faking It?

29 07 2019

There are those who attend church on Sunday and live according to anything but those thoughts Monday through Saturday.  I can remember as a young teen listening to the minister read the scripture Sunday morning and then close by saying, “Here endeth the word of the Lord for today.”  I remember thinking, I’ve got news for you; here endeth the word for the week for me.  So, yes, I’ve felt like a fake and I’ve been a fake at times.

 

Someone once wrote, “If you were being accused of being a ‘fake Christian,’ what evidence would you present to prove otherwise?”  I thought that to be a fair and probing question to think about.

 

Then there was this story from a devotional by Dennis and Barbara Rainy that my wife and I read on the topic of being a fake.

 

“A young man who had just graduated from law school set up an office, proudly displaying his shingle out front.  On his first day at work, as he sat at his desk with his door open, he was wondering how he would get his first client when he heard footsteps approaching his office.

 

Not wanting this potential client to think that he would be the first, the young lawyer quickly picked up the telephone and began to talk loudly to a make-believe caller.  “Oh yes sir!” he exclaimed into the phone.  “I’m very experienced in corporate law…Courtroom experience?  Why yes, I’ve had several cases.”

 

On and on this green lawyer went in his fake conversation when suddenly at the door appeared a man in work attire.  The young lawyer hung up the phone and self-importantly asked how he could offer his services.  “Well,” said the man with a smirk, “I’m from the telephone company and I’m here to hook up your phone.”

 

When we’re preoccupied with ourselves, we’re not thinking about how we can honor God. When we’re busy trying to look good, we’re not honoring God.  And when we’re faking our “Christian deeds” or trying to use the right Christian clichés, we just might have our charades found out by the telephone repairman.  Or, worse yet, God!





Dealing with Lechery in Marriage

24 06 2019

Perhaps lechery is a word you are not familiar with.  If you look into its meaning the dictionary states, “…unrestrained or excessive indulgence of sexual desire.”  I have come across this “desire” within some marriages.  Usually, it is the man who relentlessly pursues an inordinate desire for sexual relations, but this is not always the case.

Let’s be clear by stating that sexuality is something God has said “yes” to within the boundaries of marriage.  It is something we should “desire” and “indulge” in regularly, but who defines “regularly” for you and your life mate and who then defines “excessive?”

Well, you both do.  You find what works for you.  You find what you both can agree to and enjoy.  You find what honors, respects and blesses your spouse sexually and you purposefully and unselfishly pursue that.  You also find what might be the cause of “…unrestrained or excessive indulgence.” We need to discover what is at the core of our lives that promotes something which is bringing harm to our marriage bed. Why? Because God’s gift of sex is never forced or abusive to another.

Let me give you some harmful effects of sexuality that can make their way into marriage.*

 

  • Sex can be harmful if it is demeaning to another.
  • It is unhealthy if it makes another person feel less valuable or used.
  • It is unhealthy when it is purely selfish, used only for physical gratification.
  • It is unhealthy when it shames another.
  • It is damaging when forced or coerced and the law of “love does” not rule.
  • Sex is not healthy when used as a replacement for affection or tenderness.
  • Sex is unhealthy when it violates someone’s conscience.
  • Sex is unhealthy when pornography is involved in any form.

Sexuality within the confines of marital commitment actually increases the marital bond.  It fosters the growth of intimacy. It serves to reduce stress and anxiety by providing a special tone of togetherness and a release of tension.  It provides a private and intimate shared experience and a bond of emotional security.  It promotes a sense of well-being and happiness within the marriage and, of course, it is a gift given to us by our Creator to enjoy through many years of married life together.

(*Some of the above points are adapted from the book, The Sexual Man by Archibald Hart.)





God Experienced Divorce

6 05 2019

If you have been through a divorce, you know first-hand the devastation and loss that travels with the experience.  There all always more damages than one can possibly be prepared for.  Often, a divorce has been forced against someone’s own personal will, while the state laws favor the breakup of the marriage and leave them no choice or alternative but a divorce.

 

Further, many of the same persons struggle in their relationship with God once they have been through a divorce.  They wonder about His rejection or whether or not they are able to remarry. But there is good news for you if you fall into one of these categories.

 

God experienced divorce and He knows just what you’re feeling, what you’re going through and what you’re questioning.  In Jeremiah chapter three, the prophet Jeremiah writes these words inspired by God, “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.”  God said He was left with no choice but to divorce an unfaithful love, Israel.

 

However, before this chapter ends, God tells Jeremiah on several occasions to go and share these words of affirmation, “Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord, I will frown on you no longer for I am merciful…for I am your husband…for I will cure your backsliding.”  He, in his faithfulness, takes an unfaithful people back.  He just can’t stop showing His mercy, His kindness and His forgiveness.  That is the heart of the God we serve.  Even though He experiences unfaithfulness, He remained faithful to Israel.

 

You and I are grafted into that same family through God’s Son.  Even if we were offense-free and divorce was forced upon us, we can be assured of our Father’s love, acceptance and approval. We too can experience His faithfulness and His mercy.





The Guarantee of Resurrection Life

21 04 2019

Many years ago, after a particularly difficult trial I was put through at the hands of another leader who was lying and misrepresenting his position for personal gain, I left that particular meeting pretty downcast and confused.  I knew he was not telling the truth, as did my wife, but there was really no defense to be made.  It was one of those times in your life that you know you were just going to have to deal with the personal pain and loss.  As well, we worked closely with this person and that fact did not help the matter.

 

Trials are like that sometimes.  You simply have no defense.  You take the hit, knowing you stand with truth and integrity.  You, as well, console yourself with the understanding that God knows, cares and will walk you through it.

 

But the best advice from this situation came to me just following the meeting when one of the persons in charge pulled his car alongside of me and said, “Remember, Steve, after every death you die there is a promised resurrection.”  I listened graciously, but with some questioning in my heart wondering just where he was during that awful meeting we endured.

 

Years later I still carry that statement with me because of its powerful truth, its lifelong encouragement and its depth of meaning.  There is a New Testament truth we hold onto as Christians.  That truth is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and then gave up His life to die on a cross.  On Sunday, Easter we call it, He was no longer dead but alive forevermore. Following His resurrection, there was a continual stream of persons who witnessed that resurrection and literally saw Jesus after His grave experience.

 

Are you walking through a trial right now?  Are you facing a hardship or a broken relationship?  Have you been hurt or suffered loss in some way not provoked by your own behavior?  It is this time of the year that we remember the New Testament guarantee of resurrection life.  For after every death you die, there is a promised resurrection!

 

Have a glorious, life-giving Easter.  Our Savior is ALIVE!





I Slept But My Heart Was Awake

1 04 2019

I’m not sure if you recognized it, but my title for this blog is actually a verse in the Bible. It’s found in Song of Songs.  I find this verse to be fascinating.  I know scientifically that while I sleep, my mind is awake, but according to this verse my heart can be also.

 

My heart has been described as the center of my personality, my emotions, my intuition, my affections, my spirit.  The heart is also described as the innermost center of things.  My heart can be awakened to love or hate, fear or trust, light or darkness.

 

Jesus said it this way, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45

 

Jesus’ words beg us to reflect on what’s in our heart.  If you honestly desire to know what’s in your heart or another’s, simply listen to what language comes out of your mouth and theirs.  It will reveal the heart.

 

We have the option to store love, generosity, compassion, service, kindness and passion for God’s kingdom in our heart or we can store jealousy, hate, judgement, criticism, comparison and negativity in our heart.  It is truly up to us.  I think I can guarantee each of us one thing.  If it’s the latter, our awakened heart, while we sleep, will not find peace or rest for our soul.








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