Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Red Words in Scripture

I'm resuming blogs on the Red Words in Scripture - Jesus' Commands. This began back in a blog called How Do You Read the Bible?

Luke 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Matt. 12:7 I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  
Matt. 7:1-5 Do not judge or you will be judged.
Luke 6:37 Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Matt. 7:5 Take the plank out of your own eye.
Luke 6:42 First take the plank out of your eye.
John 7:24 Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment.

I’m not sure I can go one week without judging someone. I’m less judgmental than I used to be and I’m more aware when I have critical thoughts. I pray about these and you keep me from speaking them - sometimes. I see the plank in my own eye better, thanks to your Spirit in me. Most of us are so sure we are right and we know what’s best for others. What conceit! How do you stand us?

Help me not judge others by their appearance or initial impressions or by what I would do if I were in their situation. Help me see others as you see each of them.  Give me your viewpoint. Remind me that every person is made in your image; every person is unique. Help me to be merciful, kind, loving, compassionate, and tender toward others - as you are. Let the mind of Christ live in me.

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Do Separations Help?

Q.  My marriage is in trouble. We have been married for eight years and have two children. Over the years our marriage has become routine. Recently my husband suggested we separate in order to sort out our feelings. This shocked and upset me. He said he is uncomfortable at home and wants to leave temporarily. It seems to me that separating will only make things worse. Do separations help?

Separations do not help. A separation is more apt to lead to divorce than to reconciliation. It is a step away from the marriage and from working out the problems. I am dismayed by the number of couples I have seen in counseling who seek professional help only after they have separated. And some have separated repeatedly before seeking help. By then, the separation or separations have compounded both the pain and the distance between the couple. The problems are then more difficult to solve. Separations make things worse. Here are some reasons why separations don’t help:
1. We carry our problems with us. All husbands and wives struggle to meet their needs for both attachment and autonomy. Often this struggle stems from childhood experiences of feeling either abandoned or smothered. Usually in a marital relationship each partner focuses on one of these needs. One spouse pursues attachment and the other regularly avoids contact or seeks autonomy. Unless these issues are worked out in the marriage their individual issues will continue in future relationships.
2. Separation frightens the spouse needing attachment. Many of us have remnants of abandonment fears from childhood. When a separation takes place these abandonment fears are revived. Combined with the reality of an uncertain marital commitment this may lead to severe depression or anxiety.
3. A separation will also upset and threaten the children. There is no way to avoid this. Children know what’s going on and will be terrified by a parent leaving even temporarily.

4. Relatives and friends of the couple will learn of the problems and become involved. Though well intentioned, they often take sides, further escalating the problems.
There can be a number of reasons causing your husband to request a separation.
·        Perhaps he really wants a divorce but believes it best to let you down easy.
·        He may already be involved with someone else and may be in great inner turmoil about this. He may care about you and not want to lose you or his children, but the new relationship seems very exciting. With a separation he can remain involved, for a while, with both you and the other person.  
·        He has felt smothered in the marriage and unable to be himself. This has reached intolerable levels for him.

I recommend you as a couple see a Christian counselor before you decide whether to separate. It can save you a great deal of time, money and agony. And it may save your marriage. Often the current tension will diminish greatly in just a few sessions of marital therapy. If this occurs, your partner may quickly feel much more comfortable at home. The problems won't all be worked out, but the commitment to do so will have been made.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Birthday of the Church

This Sunday is Pentecost 

 Most Christians know that the birth of the church occurred on the day of Pentecost, but I suspect most Christians don't know what Pentecost meant to the Jewish people at that time. Pentecost was a Jewish festival fifty days after Passover. It  celebrated the giving of the law to Moses and two loaves were offered to God in gratitude for the harvest. The Jewish law required that no work be done on the day of Pentecost. Crowds of Jews gathered in Jerusalem from various countries to celebrate this Jewish festival.

The Disciples Waited in Prayer
At the Ascension Jesus ordered the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait. Just wait. Waiting is not easy for most of us but they obeyed. Scripture says: 

"They all joined together constantly in prayer." (Acts1:14) 

There were 120 believers gathered together including the disciples, and other followers, both men and women and Jesus brothers. They prayed for ten days! Perhaps this is a lesson to us that we need to pray more in order for the church to be in tune with and full of Holy Spirit power. 

The Day of Pentecost
On the day of Pentecost the disciples were in the upper room praying. Scripture says: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4). 

Hearing the noise, a crowd gathered. Peter preached to the throng of people. He gave a powerful, convicting message explaining that Jesus was crucified, died and rose again. He ascended to the right hand of God and sent the promised Holy Spirit. 
When the people heard Peter's message, "they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37)

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call."

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:38-41)

Following this "They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer....And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42, 2:47) 

As a result of this small group of Holy Spirit empowered men and women, within a century half the then-known world came to Christ. 

There is so much more in the first two chapters of Acts. Read all of it today; learn more and be inspired by the birthday of the Church. And vow to spend more time in prayer and in the Word.

Blessings, Dottie

This appeared about a year ago on my Faithnotes blog.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Q.  My mother-in-law is very intrusive. She calls up frequently, says two words to me and then wants to talk with her son. She often asks him to come over and help her with a repair or an errand. When she visits she asks questions which I consider none of her business. She criticizes the children and has even tried to rearrange our furniture. My husband won’t stand up to her because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. We’ve been married for ten years and she still hangs onto her son. Will she ever let go? What do you suggest?

A.  In our culture there is often a great deal of ambivalence about mothers as well as mother-in-laws. On Mother’s Day we put mothers on a pedestal and honor them, but in the media mothers are often the focus of humorous put-downs. Mothers-in-law are treated with even more contempt. Mother-in-law jokes abound. 

Many of us have mixed emotions about our mothers because mothers are so important in our development. Our "first love" is our mother. This initial attachment is an intense bonding. As we grow up we pull away from mother. We separate from her in order to find our own identity. This can be a painful process for mothers who miss the intimate connections with their children. 
Your mother-in-law wants and needs to have a loving connection with her son and his family. Your husband wants a loving relationship with his mom as well as one with you.
There are several things you can do that will help. Notice times when things are going well between you and your mother-in-law. Focus on small positive moments that occur while with her. She needs to know that both you and her son love her and appreciate her. What are her positive qualities? What do you enjoy about her? Share these with her. Give hugs. Tell her you love her. 
A mother-in-law /daughter-in-law relationship can be a satisfying and enjoyable one.  Call her occasionally to chat on the phone and volunteer news of the family. Go out to lunch or on a shopping trip with her to strengthen your relationship. If you can see her as an ally or even a friend she may be less intrusive. 
You cannot change your mother-in-law but you and your husband can agree on limits to her involvement with you. Your husband should be the one to set these limits - lovingly.  For example, if she calls during dinner he can tell her he will call back. He may also have to say no to some of her requests for help. 
Her interest in the personal affairs of your family and her attempt to rearrange your furniture indicate she does not understand boundaries; she does not realize the importance of her son being separate from her. Your husband needs to realize that it’s OK for him to focus his main interest on his family now that he’s an adult. It’s OK for him to be less involved with his mother.
A strong bond between mother and son puts pressure on many marriages. For additional help with this read Mothers, Sons and Wives by H. Norman Wright, and In-laws, Outlaws: How to Make Peace With His Family and Yours by P. Bilosfsky and F. Sacharow. The book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, though not specifically about in-laws, is very good at defining the need for boundaries and teaching how and when to set them.     
Readers: Give extra love and appreciation this Mother’s Day to mothers and to mothers-in-law.

Honor your father and your mother…” Exodus 20:12

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ascension Day

High and Lifted Up!
Scripture tells us that forty days after Jesus resurrection, that is, forty days after Easter, He ascended to heaven. This means that Ascension Day 2013 is tomorrow, May 9th.
The Scripture account in Luke reports:
Luke 24:50- 52 "When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and   returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continuously at the temple, praising God."

The Ascension of Jesus is also reported in Acts 1. Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus met His disciples on the Mount of Olives. Imagine their excitement, believing that now Jesus would establish His kingdom on earth and fulfill the great promise the Jews had clung to for centuries. Christ would be king, not just of Israel but of the whole world. Then the moment was upon them; their beloved Jesus was with them. Acts 1:6-12 then reports:

They asked Him,”Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times of dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood before them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.

We need to take note today of this amazing event in history. Barclay says, “The Ascension was an absolute necessity. There had to be a final moment when Jesus was taken back to the glory that was his.” He notes that the end of his resurrection appearances had to come to a definite end rather than just peter out. Also he says, “If Jesus was to give his followers unanswerable proof that he had returned to glory the Ascension was absolutely necessary.”

There is much to ponder about this amazing event in history when Jesus returned to glory.

Blessings, Dottie

This blog appeared originally on Faith Notes in 2012

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Forty Days After Easter

Often we spend the forty days before Easter focusing on Christ's journey as he sets his face toward Jerusalem and crucifixion. What about the forty days after Easter?  Scripture describes a number of Jesus' resurrection appearances including the fact that He appeared to 500 people. (1 Cor. 15:6-7) His resurrection was no delusion by a few ardent disciples.  He talked with them, ate and drank with them, showed them His nail scarred hands and wounded side. He taught them, loved them, and prepared them for his Ascension. He prepared them to be His Church on earth.    

Fishing, Failure and Reconciliation   

One of the most compelling resurrection appearances (John 21:1-17) describes a fishing excursion of Peter and six other disciples. They caught nothing after hours of fishing. Early in the morning Jesus greets them from the shore asking if they caught any fish. They reply, "No" and He tells them "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." They do and are unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John (recognizing Jesus) says, "It is the Lord." Peter jumps into the water and swims to shore. (So eager!) The other disciples follow in the boat, towing the net full of fish.   

They have breakfast with Jesus on the shore and Scripture says, "None of the disciples dared ask Him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord." I think they knew it was Jesus, but they were ashamed of their failure - their abandonment of Him after his arrest. And Peter was ashamed of denying Him three times.

The Scripture continues (John 21:15-16)
"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
 "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."

 Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."                                                      
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me.  
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
The third time He said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."  

Jesus lovingly questions Peter's commitment and He questions it three times to give Peter the opportunity to affirm his devotion three times - thus erasing the failure in Peter's mind (already erased by the cross).

Peter is identified as the overseer of the church. Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, take care of my sheep - all refer to his being the shepherd entrusted to feed the Word to the sheep - to the Church.  

Take time to read and study his Word today and teach it to those in your care.

Blessings, Dottie