Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving: A Celebration!

Celebrate Thanksgiving!
Life is not easy and often life is extremely difficult. However, even in the best of times many of us dwell on the negative side of things and fail to notice the positive side.  We take many of life’s joys and pleasures for granted. We fail to notice the positive moments paralleling our negative ones.
Luci Swindoll in her book You Bring The Confetti, God Brings The Joy, challenges us to celebrate life. She literally means we should throw a party at every opportunity and celebrate. She views life as “a festival to be enjoyed rather than a drudgery to be endured.” 
She tells of having to leave her office on an errand on a dreary day when she was out of sorts. She asked God to send her a “perk,” something to cheer her up.  Just then she turned a corner and saw in the cab of a pickup truck, two clowns decked out in red wigs and painted faces. They smiled toothless smiles at her as she drove by. All day long this incident lifted her spirits as she thought about it.
She suggests that life is full of unrecognized “perks” ready to bring us joy. But we need to notice them and celebrate them, not take them for granted or miss them.
Here are some ways this Thanksgiving we can celebrate and be optimistic:
Celebrate Now
Learn to live in the present and savor each moment. We must learn to notice some of the enjoyable experiences today brings. We can’t do this if we’re pessimistic. We can’t do this if we’re dwelling on regrets or resentments in the past or if we’re worrying about the future. We must be fully present in the now. Even in the midst of trouble we can notice the laughter of a child or the smile of a friend.
Celebrate Friends and Family
Think of those who have loved you and helped you throughout your life. Think of the people who have influenced you and made a difference in your life. Reach out to the people currently in your life and let them know you appreciate them. Celebrate them!  Remember, no one is perfect, think of the positive qualities of the people in your life. 
Celebrate Accomplishments
Most of us dwell on our failures and mistakes. We forget the successes big and small that we’ve had. Make a list of the things you’ve accomplished in life. Remember finding jobs, and job promotions. Remember paying off debts, learning a new skill, climbing a mountain. Remember difficult challenges you’ve met, illnesses you’ve survived. Remember the love you've given to others. The list can be endless. 
Celebrate Beauty
There is amazing beauty in a glorious sunset, in a starlit sky, in a rose garden or in a single rose. Beauty is also found in the words of a song or poem that inspires and in music that lifts our heart and soul. There is beauty in every day. We must not take it for granted.

Celebrate God
When we count our blessings we feel like celebrating. When we’re grateful for the blessings in our life, our troubles are minimized. When we notice God’s kindness and faithfulness, all else seems less important. Luci Swindoll says, “Let’s throw a party in celebration of the God who brings us joy!” That’s the way our Thanksgiving holiday began and that’s what it’s all about. Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving!

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100

Blessings, Dottie

This didn't go out prior to Thanksgiving! I hope readers enjoy it and give thanks, count your blessings through all the holidays.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Best Books About Church

Prior to writing and while writing my book, Changing Churches, I read over forty books about the church. Today I want to share several of the books that best address the issues in the church today. I highly recommend each of these books.

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton is a wake-up call to the Christian church. Horton, a theologian and author cites the many ways the Church has lost its way; is virtually Christless. He says, “I think the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful and perhaps even well-liked that it nearly mirrors the world itself.” This book expanded my knowledge and understanding of the issues facing the church today—especially the creeping syncretism (combining contradictory beliefs), false teaching and misguided changes. This is a must read for all concerned Christians.

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever, is another excellent book about the church today. Dever, pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., describes nine essential qualities missing in many churches today and necessary for the health of the church. Christians who are not growing and are not bothered about this fact should disturb us. Dever also describes social ills replacing sin in our concerns. He says, “Today, horizontal problems – problems between people – often obscure the fundamental vertical problem between us and God.” This is a book well worth reading and studying by Christian leaders and lay persons. 

Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears is another excellent book clearly describing what the church is and should be. Jesus Christ as the head of the church is exalted throughout. Chapter titles include: What is A Christian Church, Who is Supposed to Lead a Church? Why is Preaching Important? How Can a Church be Unified? How Can a Church Utilize Technology? How Could the Church Transform the World? In the chapter on church unity a detailed discussion of what divides the church including: heretics, pride, legalism, distrust, traditionalism, to little or too much organization, founder dysfunction, mission loss and doing too much. The book contains a wealth of information, is carefully researched as well as lived by the authors. This is a book written in language understandable for both pastors and laity.

Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal, by Chuck Swindoll, is a passionate and hopeful book on the church. Dr. Swindoll, a well known pastor, theologian and author, is also known for his Insight for Living radio broadcast. Swindoll addresses this book to serious church goers and church leaders, urging that the Word of God be central in church worship. He describes erosion that has taken place in the church over the years, a gradual slide from its past historical foundations. We live in a postmodern world in which many no longer believe in absolute truth. Quoting from Isaiah 12:32, "Men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do," Swindoll says the church needs discernment and clear heads in turning the tide of postmodernism that has caused the church to slide "into the murky waters of a post-Christian swamp." Swindoll’s book lifted my spirits, informed and delighted me.

On this Rock I will build my church.” Matt.16:18

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Q. My husband and I have been married for three years. We are both unhappy with our sex life and some times even fight about it. We thought that sex in marriage would be easier than the disappointing pre-marital experiences we both had. Why are we having such a hard time?

A. Our culture, especially the media, portray sex in very unrealistic ways. In fact, they promote lies about sex. They make us think that sex is easy, sex is free and sex can be engaged in with any willing partner. And happiness will result.
Jenell Williams Paris, professor of anthropology, writes on this subject in the November 12, 2001 issue of Christianity Today. She cites an episode on Friends in which Monica, a lead character, is sick with the flu. In spite of a terrible cough and feeling sick she entices her boy friend, Chandler, by seductively rubbing her chest with Vicks.  Paris says, “In real life, women with hacking coughs and achy bodies don’t seduce their partners with decongestant medications.” She also points out that being single is the norm on Friends, yet the three actresses are all married. 
Television shows and movies portray sexuality unrealistically. Sex is pictured as unrelated to a relationship and requiring no commitment. It is spontaneous and easy. There is little or no dialog. Interaction between the couple is largely non-verbal. This leads many couples to believe that sex should be easy and “just happen.”
This is a far from the truth. Sex may at times be easy but only when a couple have previously built a relationship that is intimate. This requires work. Verbal communication is essential. Some negotiation as to when, where and how often is required by all couples. Individuals differ as to their interest, comfort about sex, and ability to bare their souls. 
The media does not portray real life. Do we ever see a lack of interest in sex due to illness, parenthood or life stresses? Fatigue alone can rob us of the energy for sex. 
In real life sex is not free. We must talk about birth control and agree on what type we will use. We must deal with late periods, unwanted pregnancy, and even sexually transmitted diseases. Television shows us only the sensual and easy side of sex. 
Meaningful sex is costly, not free as TV would have us believe. It requires a life long commitment to be faithful to each other. It requires trust, vulnerability and honesty to achieve the best intimacy marriage offers. 
Here are some things you and your husband can do to help your sex life. Expect it to take work and don’t expect it to be as pictured on TV.
1. Communication is essential and so is time together. Talk about every aspect of your relationship to help your sex life improve. Express resentments and let go of them. Share secrets and dreams. Communicate about sex giving each other specific details about your needs, wants, likes and dislikes. Be good listeners, open to hearing each others viewpoints. 
2. Be romantic. Say "I love you." Let your partner know on a daily basis what you love, appreciate and value about him or her.
3. Be affectionate. Give hugs and kisses often. Hold hands. Sleep together - casually touching and being touched is comforting and stimulating.
4. Create Privacy. If you have children put a lock on your bedroom door.
5. Schedule time alone together and time for intimacy. Give it top priority. 

6. Pray together. This is the most intimacy building thing you can do –it will bond you together with each other and with God.
If problems continue, see a Christian marriage counselor.

Blessings, Dottie

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Proverbs 3:3

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Q. What’s wrong with my daughter? She has book sense but no common sense. She is 18, attends college and works part time. She harps on little things and continues for hours or even days arguing with me on the same minor issue. She never thinks she’s at fault and often thinks no one loves her. She argues with her boyfriend in the same way she argues with me. What’s her problem and how can I help her?

You and your daughter are in a power struggle. A power struggle is, as it says, a struggle for power or control. The subject you argue about doesn’t matter. You’re both saying “I’m right” or “No, I’m right.” It takes two to argue; it takes two to have a power struggle.    
When a power struggle continues over a period of years it affects everyone. All family members feel some anger, resentment, or hurt as a result of the unhappy dialogue that poisons the home. Behind a parent/teen power struggle is the healthy need on the part of the teen to be independent, to do things “my way,” to express his or her unique individuality. This bumps up against the parent’s role as guardian and the parent’s desire to teach and help the young person avoid problems or dangers.

Stopping the Vicious Circle
First you need to realize you are not to blame for the problem but you do contribute to it in the way you respond to your daughter. A power struggle is a vicious circle and this circle needs to be interrupted.
How to Change a Power Struggle
To stop the power struggle you will need to change the way you react or respond to your daughter.
1. Refuse to argue with her. Arguing doesn’t solve anything. Nor does it make a teen-ager listen. This may be difficult. You may have to bite your tongue. Back off when ever you realize you are arguing with her.  
2. Learn to see things from her point of view. One technique which helps is to use mirroring. If your daughter says “I’ve had a bad day and I’m too tired to clean my room.” Respond by repeating (mirroring) this back to her, “You’ve had a bad day and you’re too tired to clean your room right now.” Saying this will help her feel understood. 
3. Become a good listener. You might ask her to tell you more about her bad day. Most of us will open up when someone listens and accepts what we say without disagreeing, without dismissing our concern or pain, and without offering advice.
4. Don’t get drawn back into the struggle. Changing the way you respond to your daughter will not be easy. She will attempt to draw you back into arguments.

5. Focus on solutions. When she complains resist the urge to defend yourself. Ask her, “What do you wish would change?” Then listen.
6. Don’t overreact. Don’t tolerate disrespect - let her know it’s not acceptable - but don’t overreact to it either. Realize that she doesn't have the life experience that you do. Therefore, her problems may seem minor to you yet be overwhelming to her. Similarly, your worries may be of no concern to her.
7. Focus on positives. Tell her what you are pleased with about her. Find ways to have fun together.

“It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.”  Proverbs 16:32 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

This post originally appeared on Taber's Truths