A Necessary “No”

elegir

For the past 10 weeks in our Marriage/Family Bible Study Class on Sundays we have been focused on the verse 3 John 1:2. With this verse, we have been asking ourselves, “How’s Your Soul?” Each week has been a different facet of “How’s Your Soul?” and what that looks like according to God’s Word and our very own Souls. In one week we parked in Genesis 2:1-22 and asked ourselves the question, “What makes a healthy soul?” There were four facets that we studied, but for now, I would like to focus on one of the four: A Healthy Soul Requires a “No.”
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17
Look at it this way, God gives lots of Permission before His One Restriction. As we read these verses it’s obvious that the odds were so stacked in Adam’s favor: “Any Tree you may eat from freely…Any… But ONE you may not…only one out of the MANY.” Again, God gives lots of Permission before His One Restriction. That’s the Heart of our God, yet we will still focus on the ONE “No.”
That’s the sign of a hurting Soul; they will purposely focus on the ONE “No” and ignore all the “Yes’s” around them.
I gleaned two key nuggets from these two verses. First, this protects the “Integrity” of the definition of love as defined by God. Because Love requires a Choice. Love requires a Yes/No. Love requires a Decision. As we read those verses, we see that the One Tree provides us with a choice: God’s Way or Our Way.
Next, it is true that our soul needs a “NO”…A necessary No. Kerry shared with me that she thought to herself, “How often do you think Adam walked past that tree and had to tell himself ‘No.’?” Great question. We both agreed that every time Adam said “No” it was good for his soul.
So, this is very much about Sin right now. Because it is good for our Soul when we choose to say “No” to distorting and abominating God’s Blessings in our life. However, too often it is not just black & white or “Sin & Not Sin.” It can be anything that leads us into sin and thus we should have said “No” even though so many at the time say “Yes.”
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Think about it, what many may say is good may in fact not be of gain for me at all. Also, even though it’s ok and not ‘sinful’ or ‘illegal’ may easily become my idol and thus slips into sin. So, we began to own this statement, “It is good for you to hear yourself say “No” to yourself.”
So, we encourage each of you this new year to begin to ask yourself these questions: “What is it right now that you are saying “No” to? You could possibly be saying “Yes” and there even may be those around you that do say yes, but you choose to say No?”

In fact, maybe the better question is this… “What do you need to say “No” to starting today?”
As you begin 2018, realize that it is good for your soul to have Restrictions/Boundaries.

We Love you all,
Joe and Kerry

5 Questions That Should Be Asked….

Kerry and I spent this past Saturday on a date night. Anyone that knows us well knows how much we advocate “Date Nights” for husbands and wives. This is a time to focus on one another and continue the pursuit of both romance and well as intimacy in your growing marriage. Yet, last week I came across an article that opened my perspective on “Date Nights.”
The article came from Intimate Marriage. They talked about two types of Date Nights. The first one was the one that I always think of, the “Fun Date Nite.” This is the one that is reminiscent of those dates you had when you were courting each other. Very light hearted and a getting to know each other in a fun and creative way. You both took time to enjoy one another’s company and create memories from that date. They introduced another “Date Night” that I feel should be a vital and necessary date time with your spouse: The Working Date.
A “Working Date ” is a regular hour block each week when a husband and wife come together to work on their marriage. In contrast to a “Fun Date Night” where no business is allowed, the working date is set
aside to do the business of marriage. This is the time to ask the 5 questions to one another and instead of justifying your answers or manipulating the conversation, stop and listen to your spouse and ask God to guide you to fulfill the answers shared by your spouse.
This is not an easy task at hand. The questions require prayer, thought, and transparency. Fulfilling those answers requires humility, obedience to God’s will, and a willingness to grow closer to your spouse; the one God ordained for you.

Here are the 5 questions:
1. How did you feel loved this past week? How did you feel hurt this past week?
2. What does your upcoming week look like?
3. How would you feel most loved & encouraged in the days ahead?
4. How would you best feel pursued in sex / intimacy this week?
5. How can I pray for you this week?

Kerry and I spent the entire night asking and answering those 5 questions. Yes, some of the answers were hard to hear and there were times we felt we both needed to justify the “why’s,” however, we knew that this was the time to capture our thoughts, make them obedient to Christ, and serve one another by fulfilling those answers. It turned out to be one of the best “Date Nights” we have had in many years.

So are there any other questions you may add?  What are your thoughts?

More Than a Parent’s Rage…

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4  
In our Sunday morning Bible Study we have been going through the book of Ephesians, applying its principles and instructions into our marriages and families, as well as into our personal lives. These past two Sundays we have spent time in one verse from Ephesians, 6:4. 

Verse 4 instructs us not to “provoke or exasperate your children.” The Greek word for provoke is parorgizo. This simply means to provoke to wrath or to exasperate another. Both wrath and exasperate come from the root word anger. It would not take too much of an in-depth study of human and family behavior to shed some basic insight on how we might exasperate our children and provoke them to anger. We so often will see this as an extreme outburst towards our children, an uncontrolled momentary burst of anger, then it’s done. However, as we truly step back and evaluate our parenting, we may just see this picture of “provoking and exasperating” in the minutia of our everyday parenting. The following examples will give us a good starting point for understanding the command that Paul shares with us in verse 4. This is not an end all list, nor is it meant to “guilt” you as a parent or grandparent. Take time in prayer and reflect on the following list, take time to ask God to reveal to you as to which of those 8, or maybe you have another one, you are in the habit of doing towards your children.  Ask God to help you stop in that behavior/action and then move towards reconciliation with your children and then begin a new path of Biblical discipline and instruction in the Lord.  

1. Overprotecting Children: Parents who do everything for their children and do not let them gain any degree of independence or self-determination.

2. Over Disciplining Children: Parents who overly restrict where children can go and what they can do, who never trust them to do things on their own, and who continually question their judgment. Certainly, a proper amount of this is necessary. We are talking about overdoing it.

3. Expecting More Than The Child Can Ever Perform: Perfectionistic parents for whom the child’s performance is never good enough.

4. Expecting Less of Them Than They Can Perform: Parents who discourage the child’s decisions and dreams—never approving, affirming, or encouraging.

5. Failing to Sacrifice for Their Children: Parents who make the children feel as though they are an intrusion and burden.

6. Verbal and/or Physical Abuse: Parents who abuse their children, either by actions, negligence, words, or attitudes.

7. Legalism: Parents who use the Bible, religion, or God to browbeat the children into behavior that is not required by scriptural teachings.

8. Imbalance: Parents who fail to balance affirmation and discipline, who affirm without discipline, who discipline without affirmation, or who do neither.

These eight things will provoke a child to anger; they will exasperate a child, and we would be well-advised to avoid them.

Joe