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Who Completes You?

King on throne           I started my morning feeling sorry for husbands. This doesn’t happen often so hear me out. I began feeling sorry for our mates because we wives put a lot of pressure on them. 

    • We want them to be our knights in shining armor.

    • We want them to jump every time we call.

    • We want them to provide the bulk or all of the income.

    • We want them to desire us in a romantic way.

    • We want them to notice our accomplishments.

    • We want them to solve our problems.

    • We want them to fix our relationships.

    • We want them to listen to every word.

            Does this sound about right?

            In her Bible study, Ever After, Vicki Courtney asks, “So what causes this deep sense of longing and disappointment in so many women? Why do so many women seem so unfulfilled, cynical, bitter and downright despondent over their relationship with their husband? Because we mistakenly think our husband should fulfill our heart’s desire and make our lives complete.

             So if our husbands aren’t the ones who are supposed to complete us? Who is?

            In Colossians 1:16–17, it says, For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him.

            I used to think my husband was created for me.  I really did. That’s because my husband was born two days after my father died, exactly two months before I was born.  I always say God began restoring my life just two days after tragedy struck in my family.

            While that may be true, it did not make my husband my savior, my God or my king. God does not allow perfection in marriage because if it were present, we’d never seek him.  Why would we need God to complete us?

            Our husbands were created through him and for him….and we were created for God as well, not for our husbands. It’s not about us.   

            In many ways, God uses our marital relationships to draw us closer to him. When we are disappointed where do we turn?

            God wants us to turn to him.  He wants to be our husband.  In the book, If I Only Had… that will be published in late spring, we talk about the concept of God as husband in our chapter, “If I Only Had…a Better Marriage.”  The Hebrew word for husband is “ish.”  He wants to fill that role we long for.  We came up with seven reasons why God is our perfect “ish.”:

 #1 God is never too busy for us.

#2 God listens to us.

#3 God encourages us.

#4 God is content with us.

#5 God protects us.

#6 God loves us.

#7 God will never abandon us.

            Those are promises you can go to the bank with.  Meanwhile, the Bible is God’s love letter to us.

            God is love.

            If God is love and you want to make the Word personal today, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and insert “God” every time you see the word “love” and your name after each promise. An example: “God is patient with Lisa.  God is kind to Lisa.”

            God wants to be the one we long for.  He desires to complete us. He desires to be the king on the throne of our life. Yes, today I feel sorry for husbands because in many ways, we have tried to make them our God.  When we do that, they will always fall short.

Poetry by Brian E. Wakeman

Today’s guest blogger is British poet Brian E. Wakeman.  Brian is the author of Knowing Through Poetic Reflection, available on amazon.com. Brian, lives in Brighton,UK where he spent a career in education as a Religious Education instructor and leader in the secondary schools. Now in semi retirement, Brian is a trainer and mentor in adult education, a research mentor at OCMS, Oxford and runs an art group for adults with outreach/mission emphasis in Dunstable, UK.  Brian, a husband, father and grandparent, enjoys applying faith to everyday working life through his poetry and his watercolor paintings. Look for Brian on Facebook, Linked-In and at: http://bwakeman.wordpress.com

 

A prayer written by request for a breast cancer patient

 

Lord,

I’m praying this morning

For release from anxiety, protection

Protection from panic

And the paralysis of fear:

The renewing of my mind

In my anger and

The darkness of depression;

And for the practice

Of ‘Thanks-living’

For all the blessings

In spite of everything.

 

Help me to focus

On priorities,

Take joy in the familiar

And in serving others,

Express my love,

Think more of You,

To escape the

Tyranny of the ‘I’.

 

The Capable Woman. Proverbs 31.

Written tongue in cheek…

 

She gets up at six in the morning,

Jogs before light is dawning.

After no more than five miles

She showers, and greets with smiles

Her husband with breakfast in bed.

By 7.30 her three children are fed.

By 8.30, she’s rushed the school run.

Now her life has really begun.

Kissing her partner goodbye

She to the office must fly

To her definitely demanding job:

As banker or a scholar

To earn an extra dollar

Arriving home harassed and late

She microwaves food on a plate.

Then after kids’ homework is complete

They have ‘quality time’ as a treat.

Then jaded, at her most alluring

Her love life is just ‘enduring’.

And, oh by the way, just to say

She forgot her quiet time today!

 

Answers to Atheists (Part Four)

Mailbox            I spent this past week on Twitter verbally sparring with atheists who posed numerous questions related to their disbelief. The list has grown throughout the week. Because it’s difficult to answer their questions in 140 characters or less, I’ve taken the debate to the Pearls of Promise website to respond and to provide you with information when you have to defend your faith. Today is the final part of a four part devotional series.

            The atheist said, “Part Three is laughable like the others. A single piece of evidence please and not Scripture.”

            I’m playing to a tough crowd, but in this fourth and final segment of this devotional series, I am giving reasons why I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I will draw evidence from outside Scripture as well as biblical accounts to make my case.

            Let’s begin with the first reason why I am a believer in Christ.

            The Proof of His Existence

            There is no denying Jesus walked the earth, performed miracles, and was crucified. Countless eyewitnesses record their journeys in the New Testament.  The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, born only a few years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, acknowledged the existence of Jesus saying, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles.”

            Why would a Jewish historian have any reason to make up information about Jesus?

            Because I believe in the Bible, I accept what the writers of the various biblical books say about the Messiah. I don’t think there was an elaborate collaboration to make up a fairy tale about what the Son of God would be like if he existed. If the information presented were false, it would not have endured through the ages, and there would have been plenty of  conflicting information refuting the claims.

            Often times in the Gospel, the disciples call attention to their weaknesses or the counter cultural teachings of Jesus, i.e. Peter denying Christ, the disciples not being able to heal a boy because they hadn’t prayed and fasted or Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman, taboo in the Jewish culture.

            If this were fiction, the writers wouldn’t have pointed out their shortcomings. They would have included scenarios that went against Jewish law.

            The Bible is a history book that contains real information about a real event in history, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            The Fulfillment of Prophecy

            I remember my Old Testament professor asking our class, “How do you know when a prophet is real?” The answer: “When his or her prophecies come true.”

            There is some variation on the amount of prophecies Jesus fulfilled.  From my research, it ranges anywhere from twenty-eight to over three hundred.  Regardless, the odds of Jesus fulfilling even twenty eight prophecies is amazing.

            Peter Stoner in Science Speaks takes the number down even further to demonstrate the improbability of Jesus fulfilling less than ten prophecies.  Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability, in reference to just eight prophecies “We find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.  That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.”

            You can locate prophecies about the coming of Christ in the Old Testament, dating back to the writing of Genesis. Psalm 22 discusses the suffering of Jesus and Isaiah 7:14 is clear, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The book of Isaiah was written over seven hundred years before the birth of Christ. There are also other prophecies in the Psalms, the book of  Numbers, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Amos and Micah.

            The Resurrection

            Of all religions, Christianity is the only religion to claim its leader rose from the dead. According to the apostle Paul, Jesus rose on the third day after his death and appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve disciples. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Jesus then appeared to his brother James and Paul himself.

            Jesus’ brothers were not believers while Jesus walked the earth. In Mark 3:20-21, Jesus’ siblings thought he was a crazy man. Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

            Yet all of Jesus’ brothers were followers of Christ post-resurrection. In Acts 1:14, Jesus siblings were joined together with the disciples as they prayed and awaited the promised Holy Spirit.

            Paul was a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians but dramatically changed directions when he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. After his dramatic encounter, Paul became a missionary for the faith and penned over half of the books in the New Testament.

            In Matthew 28, three women were the first to encounter the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection. In a patriarchal society, if the resurrection account were fictitious, men, not Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome would have been used as characters making the first discovery.

            What many believe is the actual burial garment of Christ, the Shroud of Turin, has been studied since it was first discovered in the 1400s. In an April 4, 2012 article from The Christian Post, “Is There Scientific Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, ” Dr. Alan Whanger says, “It is our conviction that the Shroud is, indeed, the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. And we feel that we can date it to the spring of 30 AD in the Middle East, and that what we see on the Shroud with the various wounds that this is entirely consistent with the scriptural account of the crucifixion of Jesus.”

            First hand accounts, transformed lives and the burial garment of Christ provide proof of the Messiah.

             Martyrdom

            When studying first- through third- century Christianity, the accounts of the martyrs were impactful and for me, the strongest proof that Jesus is who he said he was.  Their stories strengthened my faith because many allowed themselves to be tortured and eaten alive by animals due to their allegiance to Jesus. The martyrs were not that far removed from the time Christ walked the earth.

            The most dramatic martyrdom story I can recall centered around a third century believer named Perpetua.  Perpetua had a small child who she nursed in prison.  Her father feverishly tried to talk her out of going to her death for her faith but she refused.  In the end, after being ravaged by wild animals, the executor tasked with finishing off the martyrs with a sword, missed, and Perpetua guided the sword to her neck. Additional information about martyrs can be located here. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06029a.htm

            All but one of the disciples died for their faith as did Paul.  Acts 12:2 claims King Herod had James, the brother of John put to death by the sword. Roman historian Eusebius (260-341 A.D.) records a story told by the bishop Clement of Alexandria, who died in 215A.D., that “the person who led James to the judgment-seat was moved when he saw him bear witness, and confessed that he himself was also a Christian.”

            Peter was crucified upside down. The earliest reference to the martyrdom of Peter comes from the letter of Clement of Rome (about AD 90).  He said, in his Letter to the Corinthians,  “Let us take the noble examples of our own generation. Through jealousy and envy, the greatest and most just pillars of the Church were persecuted, and came even unto death… Peter, through unjust envy, endured not one or two but many labours, and at last, having delivered his testimony, departed unto the place of glory due to him.”  – See more at: http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/what-is-the-evidence-that-peter-was-crucified-upside-down-in-rome/#sthash.j3DlJVdI.dpuf

            Why did so many go to their death for their faith?  Why are Christians still risking their lives for Christ today?

            There are many people who die for their beliefs but how many die when they know and have seen the truth?  Well known apologist, Lee Strobel, says that is the difference between the earliest Christian martyrs and any others. The disciples walked with Jesus. They touched Jesus. They witnessed his death and ultimately his resurrection. They died for the truth and could not have fabricated anything from fantasy.

            Transformation

            John Newton’s ageless song rings out, I once was lost but now I am found.. The amazing grace of Christ still exists today.

            I have seen alcoholics who’ve been transformed from raging drunks to teetotalers through the power of Christ. Drug addicts discarded their stash. I have witnessed marriages turned around, finances restored and careers diverted after people have given over the control of their lives to Christ.

            I myself was able to overcome a dysfunctional childhood without a father and a mentally ill mother, thanks to the direction Christ gave me after salvation.  I was headed down the wrong road, already drinking at age thirteen. My subpar grades transformed overnight. For the first time in a long while, I had hope.  There is no explanation for my own transformation, except that Christ did the work in me and continues to sanctify me.

            I am praising Jesus for his death and resurrection.  I thank him that he is still alive and at work today.

            Countless people have experienced their own road to Damascus, simply by following Christ. What is your story? What can you share on this website as a testimony of your faith to encourage those who have not encountered the risen Christ in their lives yet?

            Please reply to this post with a one or two paragraph description of  how Christ changed you. Your story might be the difference between belief and disbelief.

                       

Answers to Atheists (Part Three)

Mailbox            I spent part of this past week on Twitter verbally sparring with several atheists who posed numerous questions related to their disbelief.  Because it’s difficult to answer their questions in 140 characters or less, I’ve taken the debate to the Pearls of Promise website to respond and to provide you with information when you have to defend your faith. Today is the third part of a four part devotional series.

            The atheist said, “If you want me to pay attention, provide evidence your God exists or any god for that matter.”

            To provide all the evidence for the existence of God would take more space than this devotion will permit.  Just ask apologist, Lee Strobel, who filled a book in Case for the Creator.

            So the plan in the confines of this limited venue, is to provide the reason why I believe God exists and the evidence that has made an impact on me throughout the years.

            Creation is enough.

            What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4)  

            In my response to the atheist’s challenge to provide evidence God exists, I responded, “You are the evidence.”

            Our sophisticated genetic makeup laughs in the face of the big bang theory and shouts proof of an intelligent designer.  After reading Strobel’s Case for the Creator, his information on DNA was compelling.  He says, “DNA is the most efficient information storage system in the universe.” Strobel says one teaspoon of DNA could hold all of the precise assembly instructions for all of the proteins of every species of animal that ever existed on the planet and “still have information left over for all of the information in every book ever written.”

            DNA is just one aspect of the human body. There is the intricate cardio vascular system with about twenty-five trillion blood cells. The musculoskeletal system boasts 206 bones and more than 600 muscles. 

            For a simple look at the detailed nature of the human body, Randomhistory.com provides concise facts :

    • The circulatory system is approximately 60,000 miles long.
    • The skin contains approximately 640,000 sense receptors, scattered unevenly over the body’s surface.
    • An estimated five million olfactory receptors are clustered in the membrane at the upper part of our nasal passages. These receptors help us distinguish among thousands of different odors.
    • There are about 9,000 taste buds on the surface of the tongue, in the throat, and on the roof of the mouth.
    • Hundreds of billions of neurons carry electrical signals that control the body from the brain and the spinal cord.
    • Humans produce about 10,000 gallons of saliva in a lifetime. Saliva is required for taste—until food is dissolved by saliva, we cannot taste it.
    • An adult human body contains approximately 100 trillion cells.

            And that’s just the human body. What about the animals, birds and vegetation?

            I once heard an apologetics message that used the fox as one of the proofs for a creator.  While I can’t remember the speaker’s name, I do remember the example.     There are over twenty species of foxes in the world but their appearance varies depending on the climate they live in.  Arctic foxes have shorter legs, thicker fur and thick and hairy footpads to insulate them from the cold.

            Meanwhile Fennic Foxes that live in the Sahara desert are designed specifically for that region. According to National Geographic, “Their distinctive, bat-like ears radiate body heat and help keep them cool. They also have long, thick hair that insulates them during cold nights and protects them from hot sun during the day. Even the fox’s feet are hairy, which helps them perform like snowshoes and protects them from extremely hot sand.”

            Red foxes that live in more moderate climates are shorter haired but use their tails for warmth when the weather gets cold.

            The fox represents one example of the diversity in creation, again pointing to intelligent design.

            It’s mind boggling when you consider the variation of created things. There are over 28,000 species of fish, approximately 10,000 bird species, almost a million species of insects and according to discover.com, there are 7.77 million animal species and 298,000 plant species. Overall, there are 8.74 million different species on planet earth. Did it randomly happen? No way.

            The solar system is so vast, scientists are still discovering how far it stretches. There are about 200 million stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

            Every time I look out my back window, creation is enough to know beyond a shadow of a doubt God exists.

            But if for some reason, creation is not enough for you, consider this possibility.  Perhaps there is more to life and the life beyond than your finite mind can handle. While in seminary I was struck by the writings of Anselm of Canterbury in his work, The Proslogian.  The Proslogian was written as a dialogue to and with God about the validity of his existence.  Anselm challenged the non believer when he said perhaps God is “something than which nothing greater can be thought.”

            If there is something which nothing greater can be thought, then that leaves an element of doubt and the possibility that God exists.

            I know I’m speaking primarily to believers and I hope you will be able to use this information as proof of God’s almighty presence. 

            However, if you are not a believer and now, because you are excepting the fact that you might not know all, I am challenging you to ask God to reveal himself to you. Jeremiah 29:13 promises, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

            As a conclusion, God is love (1 John 4:8).  Where do you think that emotion came from?  Was it an accident? Did it evolve from a cell? No, God is love and we are created in God’s image. That’s why the ability to love comes naturally to us.

            God, who is beyond our comprehension, loves us so much that he wants an intimate relationship with us. That’s why he puts it on the heart of people like me to make a case for his existence. Why should I care except that I want everyone to experience the redeeming love and grace of God that I am humbled by. Only God can take a heart of stone and transform it into a heart of flesh. Only God can have a heart for a poor fatherless child like me headed down the wrong road and place me on the right path.

            And because he loves us, he gives us freedom to choose. To believe or not to believe.

          Before Jesus healed a boy possessed by an evil spirit, the boy’s father said to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

            Ask yourself, “Why don’t I believe?” Then try following it with “Help me overcome my unbelief.”

            As I peer over my computer and watch the branches of the trees sway in the breeze, creation is still enough. It’s the reason I believe.

            On Tuesday, the series will continue with proof for the existence of Jesus Christ.

Answers to Atheists (Part Two)

Mailbox           If you read Tuesday’s devotion, you know that I spent part of my weekend sparring with several atheists who posed several questions to me related to their disbelief.  Because it’s difficult to answer those questions in 140 characters or less, I’ve taken the debate to the Pearls of Promise website to respond and to provide you with information when you have to defend your faith.

            “I am also surprised there are any female Christians.” The Twitter atheist attached a photo of a woman with her face taped up so she could not speak.

            He was referring to Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 that says, Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says, If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.

            When reading scripture, it is important to read in context.  If the atheist had started his reading in 1 Corinthians 14:26, he would have seen this:

            What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

            Earlier in 1 Corinthians 11:5, Scripture refers to women praying and prophesying in church.

            So what is it?

            Are women supposed to be silent or church or are they allowed to speak, sing and prophesy?

            According to the The Women’s Study Bible, “In this passage, he (Paul) was probably discussing the gift of prophecy and more specifically, the evaluation or judgment of prophecy. Paul allowed women to participate in worship and, indeed, expected that they would do so…”

            The Harper Collins Bible Commentary explains this silence was for a special case.”Just as people who speak in tongues, women and men and prophets, women and men, are told to be silent in certain circumstances, so wives are told to be silent.  As v. 35 suggests, the regulation applies not to all women members of the community or even to all women endowed with spiritual gifts, but to wives.”

            There was something going on in the early church that necessitated this statement by Paul.  Women were not used to being included in the worship services.  Perhaps there was some sort of disruption in the service that Paul needed to address. Whatever the case, because of Paul’s other statements concerning women and worship, we can deduce that women were not prohibited from speaking in church.

            The word submission has been misused throughout the centuries. It does not mean that women are to be subservient to men and allow abusive behavior in the home.  When referring to the relationship between husbands and wives, Paul says to submit to one another in Ephesians 5:21. That is a mutual submission. Later, in Ephesians 5:25, Paul says Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…The Greek word used for love in this passage refers to agape love. It’s the selfless love of another person, without sexual implications. It’s unconditional love; the sacrificial love Jesus had for us, giving up everything for us even to the point of death on the cross.

            Taping a woman’s face does not line up with Scripture.

            Women have a voice in the church and are called to the great commission, to make disciples of all the nations, just like anyone else. In Galatians 3:28, Scripture reiterates we are all equal in Christ: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

            Women were leaders in the early Christian movement. The Bible refers to Apphia in Philemon 2 who was a leader of a house church and Priscilla in 1 Corinthians 16:19 who also co-led an early congregation. Nympha of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15) was noted for holding a church service in her home.

            Women today continue to make a difference in the church, not through silence, but by proclaiming the gospel. This call will continue until Jesus returns.

            I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
(Joel 2:28)

            Christ does not discriminate between men and women and neither should we.

            I am praising God today that he gives me the freedom to speak about him and the desire to glorify him through my words. God loves women and we are an important part of his kingdom.

            On Saturday, I will attempt to give proof for why I believe God exists.

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