Monday, June 29, 2015


Matthew 16:13-18 Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah, but still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Until this point Jesus had not taught the disciples the full revelation of who he was. In this passage, God opened Peter’s eyes and heart and revealed that Jesus is the Christ. What a revelation. Jesus responds by saying, “You are Peter” - a play on words, Peter or Petra is a rock. “Upon this rock I will build my church.” The rock or foundation is Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Christ. Peter, himself, is not the foundation though he and the disciples helped build the church. The MacArthur Study Bible notes that “Christ called it My Church, emphasizing that He alone is the Architect, Builder, Owner, and Lord.” Jesus also promised that nothing would/could destroy the church.

Jesus refers to the church as “My Church. And it is often referred to as the Body of Christ. Through the ages it has been persecuted and protected, admired and despised, elevated and secreted. The church is built on the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus indicated that Peter could only know this if God revealed it to him. Similarly, we can only know Him as our Lord and Savior if we have learned it from Him. We are saved by His grace! It’s thrilling to know in this day and age of anti-Christian sentiment and persecution that no matter what – nothing can overcome Christ and the Church. They will be triumphant ultimately.

Dear Father,
We thank you for your Son Jesus Christ and for His Church. We thank you that you have revealed the Truth to us; that we have opened our hearts to Christ and are saved by His grace. How amazing. We thank you that we are in Christ and in the Church. Help us cling to you through the difficult days that may come. We thank you for the assurance that nothing will prevail against Christ or the Church – not even Death and Hell. Your promises remind us to trust you always.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Q.  My fiancĂ© and I have both been married before and we both have careers and children. We’re concerned about how to handle our money when we marry because both of us had financial problems and disagreements in our first marriages. Is it best to pool our money or to keep separate accounts? 

A. I commend you and your fiancĂ© for planning before the wedding how you will handle money in your marriage.  Money issues are more complicated in a second marriage than they are in a first marriage. The good news is remarried couples are more aware of where their money is going and are more likely to work together on financial decisions because of their past experiences. 
It is essential that financial information be shared. Marriage is an intimate partnership and without full financial disclosure by both partners there is a lack of honesty and commitment. You both have a right to know what is in your spouse’s will and what assets, debts and retirement plan he or she has. 
Money issues are more complicated in second marriages because money may be going to child support, medical expenses, weddings of children and college tuition.  The finances are complex and the emotions which accompany them are even more complex. Step parents feel love for step children but usually don’t have the deep bond a parent has with a child. They can be irritated by the financial drain on the family resources which may seem to diminish what they can do for their own children. There may be issues of equality and fairness. 
There are no simple answers and each couple must design a financial plan which meets their needs and expectations. Pooling all your money works best for young families, for one income families and for couples in long, secure marriages. Pooling of money does indicate a strong commitment to the marriage.
Some couples keep their money totally separate. This works with two career couples whose incomes are comparable. It appeals to couples who are older when they marry, are well off, and who have strong needs for control and autonomy.
Another system is to have his money, her money and our money. Three accounts are set up with an understanding of what the joint account is used for - to pay living expenses (food, housing, bills), necessities (new washing machine, home repairs) or for savings. If incomes are not equal each partner may contribute to the joint account on a percentage basis. As you can see the three accounts system takes some work and negotiating.
Keep all your communications about finances respectful and be willing to compromise. Make your relationship more important than “winning” or “controlling” the finances. 
After you decide whether you want to have separate accounts, joint accounts or three accounts do the following: 
·       Make a budget so you both see on paper what you have and where it goes.
·       Decide who will pay the bills or plan how you will share this.
·       If you are in debt, decide how you will pay this off.
·       Agree to consult each other on major purchases.
·       Allow each other small indulgences. Each of you should have at least a small amount of money to spend each week in whatever way you choose. 
·       Remember/realize that money and possessions will not make you happy or your children happy. Your relationships - time and fun together are what really matter. 

Couples deeply in debt can get help at Consumer Credit Counseling, 866-461-5243. Couples battling over money should seek marital counseling from a Christian counselor. I hope these ideas help you have a happy marriage.

Intelligent people are always open to new ideas. In fact, they look for them. Proverbs 18:15 NLT

Blessings, Dottie 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Q.  Why is marriage so difficult? My husband and I had a loving, fun and contented relationship before we got married. A year or so after we married problems began. Now we argue and differ on many issues. We like the stability of marriage but wonder how to be happy while married. Any ideas?

A.  Our culture misleads us into thinking that marriage is the path to happiness.  We expect to live happily ever after with little effort. When problems begin - which they do in every marriage sooner or later - we wonder what went wrong. In every marriage there is natural tension because two unique individuals are involved. We don’t think the same way. We come from different backgrounds. We don’t have the same opinions. Our biological, emotional and personality make ups are different. In addition we each bring character flaws and immaturities to our marriage. No one has a perfect childhood and we bring our unmet needs and the hurts or trauma from our past into our marriage. 

Life is simpler alone. We can do as we please without paying attention to the needs of others. In marriage we must give ourselves continually, over and over to the relationship. Instead of our fantasy that we will live happily ever after, marriage is more likely to be a test. 
T. S. Eliot has said “Marriage is the greatest test in the world...but now I welcome the test instead of dreading it. It is much more than a test of sweetness of temper, as people sometimes think; it is a test of the whole character and affects every action.”
Joseph Campbell in his book An Open Life describes marriage as an ordeal. It’s an ordeal because we must give up some of our self-centeredness; we must surrender or sacrifice our own wants. In short, we must grow up.
Gary and Betsy Ricucci, in their book Love That Lasts, say “One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, ‘Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!’”
Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Marriage says “Being close to someone - which marriage necessitates - may be the greatest challenge in the world. There is no ‘resting,’ because I am under virtual twenty-four hour surveillance."
In other words, marriage is designed to help us see ourselves as we are, warts and all, and as a result of this awareness we become more humble and more loving. Think of marriage as a boot camp to help both of you stretch, grow and become more mature. The friction between you forces you to face issues you might otherwise avoid. 
How can you change?
1. Learn that love is more than just a feeling. Acting in a loving way increases “feelings” of love. Give more affirmations than criticisms. 
2. Learn that marriage takes work. It takes time together enjoying each other and time listening to understand each other. 
3. Learn that you can only change yourself but when you do, this will help change the marriage. Work on your own immaturities, your own hang ups from childhood or from prior relationships. 
4.  Attend a marriage group to help you understand marriage and see what you need to change. Weekend to Remember, The Third Option and Marriage Encounter are three possibilities.

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

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Reviews on Time, Aging, Death, Grieving and Heaven # 4

Here are two books about aging, death and dying that will give you new perspectives about what living and dying is all about. These books will grow your faith, help you live with purpose and guide you through grief.

Hard Choices for Loving People

By Hank Dunn

The subtitle of this book is: CPR, Artificial Feeding, Comfort Care, and the Patient with a Life Threatening Illness. This short (75 pages), informative book by Hank Dunn, a healthcare chaplain, presents clear and concise answers to the families of those nearing death. He notes that prior generations did not have feeding tubes, ventilators or CPR – so they were not faced with the choices facing many today as they age. He describes the issues in using these, pro and con, and offers clear steps to choosing the best route in a particular situation. The final chapter The Journey to Letting Be (23 pages) is the most valuable. This can be helpful to families as well as the person who is dying. He notes, “We will die whether we give up, let go or let be.” He hopes dying patients will have “a sense of being upheld by a loving God.”

Finishing Well to the Glory of God: Strategies from a Christian Physician

By John Dunlop, MD

Finishing Well to the Glory of God is a wonderful, beautiful, outstanding book. Dr. Dunlop offers nine strategies for finishing well beginning with #1 Live Well and #2 Let Go Graciously to #8 Switching Gears from Cure to Comfort Care and #9 Rest in Jesus. Every chapter (strategy) is thought provoking and instructive. Biblical teaching runs throughout helping the reader understand the Christian perspective on each subject. Each chapter ends with a beautiful prayer and meditation. Strategy #7 Make Appropriate Use of Technology details the medical choices we face today. In addition Appendix 2 offers Examples of Technology. The biblical teaching on God’s love, suffering, life and death defines the heart and soul of the Christian faith and will deepen the walk of every reader who digests these teachings. This is a valuable book to be studied, thought about, discussed, read and reread. Finishing Well is a unique and excellent guide that will help Christians live well and finish well to the glory of God.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


I’m continuing with the red words in Scripture. Posts on the Commands of Jesus are available and complete. 

Posts on the Promises of Jesus began this year. Some of these are difficult to understand and must be read in context. I’ll provide a bit of context for one of the scriptures but it will help you to read each one in context.

Matthew 13:12 Whoever has will be given more and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

Matt. 25:29 Everyone who has will be given more and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

Mark 4:24-25 With the measure you use, it will be measured to you and even more.  Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

Luke 8:18 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.

Luke 19:26 To everyone who has more will be given but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.

Here’s the context in Mark 4:21-25 – He said to them, ”Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. “Consider carefully what you hear.” He continued “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

Michael Card in his book Mark: The Gospel of Passion, says about this passage: “Its all about listening, and seeing, and understanding, and perceiving. The parables speak, they shine; the Word has power of its own and grows. Our response, the measure of attention we use, means everything. If we genuinely give ear, more will be measured out to us. If we stubbornly refuse to engage, even what we have will be taken away. This is not a statement on the character of Jesus. It is a statement about the nature of truth and the consequences of refusing to listen.”

John MacArthur similarly says, “Those who despise the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, burying them in the ground and clinging instead to the paltry and transient goods of this world, will ultimately lose everything they have.”

Barclay makes it even clearer. “If a man is physically fit and keeps himself so, his body will be ready for ever greater efforts; if he lets himself go flabby, he will lose even the abilities he has. The more a student learns, the more he can learn; but if he refuses to go on learning, he will lose the knowledge he has.” “There is no such thing as standing still in the Christian life. We either get more or lose what we have. We either advance to greater heights or slip back.”

Dear Father,
We thank you for these Scriptures that encourage us to listen, read, reflect upon and learn of You and learn your Word. Help us apply ourselves to this. Help us not drift away from you. I’m eager to study and apply your Word to my daily life. May we never stand still in our walk with you.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.