Friday, January 29, 2016

The Worst Things Good Parents Do

Q.  My husband and I have different ideas about how to parent our children. We know we must work together on parenting or the children will play us against each other. Can you give us ideas to guide us in our parenting?

A.  There are many excellent parenting books as well as some parenting courses which are helpful. One book with sound ideas is The Seven Worst Things Good Parents Do by John C. Friel, Ph.D. and Linda D. Friel, M.A. The authors say that obviously there are much worse things parents can do such as abusing or neglecting their children. They chose the title because so many parents thought they were doing a good job because they weren’t torturing their children.

Here is their list of the seven worst things good parents do with a brief comment about each one. Some of the things on their list may surprise you.
1. Baby your child. Do you do everything for your child? Do you give your child constant attention? Do you give in to keep your child happy? Children who are babied may never learn to think and do for themselves. They will be ill equipped for the struggles of life.
2. Put your marriage last. Your marriage must have priority. This doesn’t mean you neglect your children. They do need time and attention. But parents need at least a few minutes on a daily basis to talk privately, to connect with each other. A regular night out together is also important. Children who are always the focus of attention have difficulty leaving home and have no idea of what a healthy marriage looks like.
3. Push your child into too many activities. Many parents and children in today’s world are over scheduled. If life feels like a treadmill to you, it may feel that way to your child as well. We need unscheduled time to relax and be with each other. 
4. Ignore your emotional or spiritual life. We all need time to be alone with ourselves and time to meditate or pray. This benefits us as well as enhancing all our relationships.  The authors say that “parents who are sincerely humble, grateful and prayerful ... produce children who are much the same.”
5. Be your child’s best friend. There needs to be a clear but flexible boundary between parents and their children. When the boundary is weak or missing the result is chaos, with no one in charge. When the boundary is rigid children are unable to connect with their parents.

6. Fail to give your child structure. Children learn internal control of their impulses by first experiencing external control. Parents teach their children to delay gratification by a few clear, consistent rules. As they grow they internalize these rules. They learn self control.
7. Expect your child to fulfill your dreams. Teens need to follow their own dreams as they move into adulthood. They may not pick the career you wanted for them, they may make mistakes, and they may question your values. Parents must let go little by little. Teens will make it into successful adulthood if they have some freedom to struggle and choose their way. Parents need to provide enough structure that children develop their own internal rudders but not so much that they can’t grow up.
8. I would add one more very worst thing. Give your children no teaching about God, no experience in a church and no knowledge of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Children need to be exposed and taught the great truths of our faith. They need to be raised in a church community where others can mentor, teach and befriend them. There is so much they learn in a church – they learn they are loved, they learn moral and ethical values, they learn it is better to give than to receive. Most importantly they learn all about Jesus and will likely choose to be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.“ Proverbs 22:6 NASB

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, January 22, 2016


The Promises of Jesus
Luke 11: 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

John 14:15-16 If you love me you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of Truth.

John 14:26 The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.      

John 16:13 When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

John 16:15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

John 20:22 Receive the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4-5 Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.

These verses about receiving the Holy Spirit are thrilling to all true believers. Are you inspired by them? These are the words of Jesus! Seek him and he will fill your heart with his joyful spirit. 

John MacArthur’s Study Bible says that in these verses “Jesus promises believers five supernatural blessings that the world does not enjoy. 
1. A supernatural Helper. 
2. A supernatural life. 
3. A supernatural union. 
4. A supernatural teacher. 
5. A supernatural peace
These supernatural promises are for those who love Jesus Christ, whose love is evidenced by obedience.” 

Isn’t this amazing! When we accept Jesus as our Lord Savior, repent for our sins and submit our life to him, the Holy Spirit comes into our heart. To be aware of his presence we must seek him more and deepen our trust, obedience and devotion to Jesus Christ. These promises are real and true. Hallelujah!

I thank you for this biblical assurance that you live in the heart of each believer. I thank you for the awareness of your loving presence and for your kind guidance and comfort. We are growing in our faith and obedience. “Come Holy Spirit, kindle in us the power of your love.” Let your spirit in us bring glory to you. We love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, In Jesus name we pray.

If anyone reading this does not know Jesus – seek him and you, too will have supernatural help in every area.

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, January 15, 2016

Books to Deepen Faith

Forgiveness: Following Jesus into Radical Loving
By Paula Huston

Forgiveness is a profound book on the difficult issue of coming clean and forgiving all those in our past who have hurt us. It is a book teaching us how to follow Christ in every day life. This involves radical loving as the subtitle suggests. It also involves a great deal of soul searching. Paula Husted reveals her own struggles in forgiving others and in forgiving herself. Her journey in forgiveness led her to become an oblate – a lay member of a monastic community. This is a book that must be read over and over. Gems of wisdom jump from every page. Here are a few examples:

“No other religion came into being through an act of forgiveness.” xvi

 “The vengeance cycle can only be broken by humility.” 38

“When self-esteem is our primary goal, we learn to see ourselves and our own concerns as ultimate; we lose our sense of awe in the face of the divine.” 42

“Purity of heart means that every desire is for the same thing: God….Purity of heart refers to that joyful sense of being in which we can freely love the good things of life without losing sight of our North Star.” 71-72

Desiring God
by John Piper

Desiring God fanned the flame of my love for Christ and taught me much. Piper, who calls himself a Christian Hedonist, beautifully details the doctrine of the supremacy of Christ. He says that “the deepest and most enduring happiness is found in God. Not from God but in God.” His passionate descriptions of God and worship attest to this and raise the level of the readers’ desire for God and experience of worship. The supremacy of Christ is beautifully defined and worshipfully experienced.

Piper’s thoughts about false teaching, indifference and accountability in the church are also helpful and well said. It also delighted me to read Piper’s views on worship and missions.

 “Mission is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Mission exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It’s a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”

This book is a classic and one to be read over and over.

“The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.” John 4:23

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, January 8, 2016


Q. My first marriage ended because we drifted apart. Now my second wife is turning away from me. She hasn’t said anything but she’s always busy and we don’t have the fun or companionship we had during the first two years of our marriage. What causes a couple to drift apart and become distant?   

A.  Marriage is an intimate relationship. In order for a marriage to work couples need to connect with each other in a deeper way than they do in most other relationships. They need to get below the surface of superficial small talk and be open with each other. Couples who drift apart do so because they find many ways to avoid intimacy. Below is a list of some of the ways we avoid intimacy.

1. Don’t talk. This is the most basic rule for avoiding closeness. If you must talk, don’t talk about anything important. Talk about the weather or sports.
2. Don’t show your feelings. If you express any sadness, happiness, irritation or caring you’re revealing your inner self. If you show no feelings you will give a clear message that you don’t want to be intimate.
3. Keep smiling, especially if something is bothering you. Hide all negative feelings from your partner. This way your partner will believe that everything is okay in your relationship and you won’t have to be intimate.
4. Keep busy. Work long hours so you can avoid spending time with your partner.  Always have chores or activities you need to do so there’s no time for the two of you to spend together. This will give your spouse the message that he or she is not as important to you as your work or other interests and will definitely help you avoid intimacy. 
5. Always be right. Never admit you’re wrong. If you admit you’re wrong you will be at risk of admitting you’re human. This also could lead to you admitting your partner is right and that his or her viewpoint needs to be considered. Before you know it you’ll be on verge of being intimate.

6. Don’t disagree. If you disagree you may discover you and your partner are different. This may lead to you talking about the differences and having to make adjustments. As a result you may have to tell your partner who you really are and what you really feel. This could lead to intimacy.

7. Don’t tell your partner what you want. Make your partner guess what you want.  Then when your partner guesses wrong you can tell your partner they don’t understand you or love you or they would know what you want without asking.  This will prevent intimacy and also drive your partner crazy.
8. Look out for yourself. Think of yourself as number one. Do whatever you feel like doing without consulting your partner. Think of yourself as okay and your partner as not okay. 

9. Keep the television turned on. Keep the TV on during meals and while you’re talking. Watching TV will prevent you and your partner from talking to each other.  It will also keep you from noticing that you don’t communicate. 
10. Avoid all show of affection. Don’t give hugs, kisses, say “I love you.” Don’t show any appreciation or give any praise to your partner. Keep sex as matter of fact and quick as possible.
To have a closer marriage, do the opposite of these ten ways to avoid intimacy. If you grew up in a family that avoided connecting, these changes may feel risky.  Make small changes and keep working on it over a period of time. 

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

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, January 4, 2016


Q. I seem to have no will power. Every New Year I decide to diet and after about ten days I’m back to eating sweets and eating too much. I decide to exercise and the same thing happens.  I’m also a worrier and don’t know how to stop worrying. How can I change my bad habits and develop some good ones? How can reach my dreams and goals? 

A. Webster’s dictionary defines habit as “a thing done often and hence easily, a custom, a usual way of doing things.” We develop a variety of habits or routines throughout our life time. We may wake up at the same time every day; get ready in the same order - shower, dress, breakfast. We may even have a routine of always putting on our left shoe before we put on our right shoe. 

      Habits or routines help us in many ways. Good habits, firmly established take little thought. We do them almost automatically. We drive to work taking the same route each day. We pay our bills at the same time each month. We go to church every Sunday. These are all habits or routines we’ve established.

Habits rule us whether they are bad or good. We are captive to our habits. We want to change our ways and accomplish more—whether it’s losing weight, exercising more or finishing a to-do list. So why don’t we? If you really want to change you can, but you must set clear goals and change your habits.

       New habits begin with one thought. That’s right ONE THOUGHT!  We think about doing something and we decide to do it. If we’re changing a negative habit, for example in our diet, we now have an attitude of caution and awareness about what we eat. We also have an “I can” attitude and feel optimistic about accomplishing our goal. The attitude change leads to an action which leads to a repeated action and eventually we have a habit. 
      The key is to keep doing the new behavior for six or eight weeks. It will take this long to establish a new habit. A negative habit is overcome one day at a time, the same way it began. A new habit is established one day at a time. Here are a few tips to help you:

      1. Focus on your successes and congratulate yourself for these. 

      2. Expect relapses and learn from them. Not many can change a habit instantly. When you learned to ride a bike you fell down a few times before you could balance. The same is true for creating a new habit. The relapses can teach you things. What thoughts or feelings triggered your return to old habits?

      3. You do have will power. Our will is a powerful part of us, capable of choosing to control our actions. Say to yourself, “I will.” And don’t say, “I won’t” or “I can’t” or “I’ll try.” Be positive and be determined to succeed.

      4. Align your will with God’s will; ask his help in overcoming your weaknesses. This is helpful in all circumstances but essential to breaking an addiction.

      5. Take every thought captive. A habit starts with one thought and is maintained or broken by our thoughts. For example, to break the worry habit stop every worry thought as soon as you notice it and replace it with a positive thought or image.

Here are a few thought provoking quotations on habits:
·      “Habits are to the soul what the veins and arteries are to the blood, the courses in which it moves.”  Horace Bushnell 
·      “Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.”  Augustine
·      “What a curious phenomenon it is that you can get men to die for the liberty of the world who will not make the little sacrifice that is needed to free themselves from their own individual bondage.”  Bruce Barton
·      “Sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”  G. D. Boardman

      I hope these ideas help you change your habits and accomplish your goals.
     “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7

      Blessings, Dottie

Friday, January 1, 2016

More Best Books Read in 2015

Last week I posted my list of the 7 best books read in 2015. Now I must add three amazing books I read in mid to late December just finishing the third one on 12-31. After Christmas I had time to read and what a joy these books are. Each of these books is as good or better than the seven I listed last week. They each informed, inspired and touched me. 

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World
John Piper and Justin Taylor, General Editors

This is an excellent book that will teach Christians how to respond reasonably to the unbelief in today’s postmodern world. Each chapter is by a well known theologian. I was familiar with all of them except Voddie Baughan, Jr. He wrote Chapter 2 Truth and the Supremacy of Christ and this chapter was particularly helpful to me – so helpful that I wrote up a summary of the chapter and shared it with my granddaughter who is a freshman in college and will be taking a philosophy class next semester. This chapter is highlighted with Colossians 1:15-21 insights. And I discovered in my own bible the section is called The Supremacy of Christ!

Here’s my summary of Chapter 2 using many of the words of the author:
The two major competing worldviews today are Christian theism and secular humanism. How do they each answer: the question of God, the question of man, the question of truth, and the question of ethics?

The question of God:
Christian theism – God is necessary, intelligent and all powerful.
Humanism – There is no supernatural being, no god.

The question of Man:
Christian – Man was made in the image of God, a special creation.
Humanism – A single-celled organism run amuck – a glorified ape who has lost most of his hair and gained two opposable thumbs, a cosmic accident with no rhyme or reason.

The question of truth:
Christian – Truth is absolute, it is true for all people in all places at all times.
Humanism – Classic Humanism rejects truth and believes nature is a closed system. There is nothing supernatural. Postmodern Humanism rejects “naturalistic materialism” in favor of philosophical pluralism and experientialism. Postmodern Humanism rejects truth in favor of experience.

The question of ethics:
Christian – Ethics, moral rights and wrongs are absolute, morality is rooted in the eternal, unchanging character of God
Humanism – Ethics are completely cultural and negotiable. There are no absolute truths.

Humanism’s Answers to Life’s Ultimate Questions:
Who Am I? Humanism says you are an accident. You are a mistake. You are a glorified ape. You are the result of random evolutionary processes.

Why Am I Here? You are here to consume and enjoy.

What is Wrong with the World? People are insufficiently educated or insufficiently governed.

How Can What is Wrong be Made Right? The solution to our woes is more education and more government. The world is far more educated than it was during World War I. Are we seeing fewer wars? No. So is the answer in more government? Man doesn’t improve by being governed. We just find more loop holes and exploit them.

Christian Answers to Life’s Ultimate Questions:
Who Am I? You can’t figure out who you are until you decide who Jesus is. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is the exact representation of the Father. He is God with us, God among us. He is the Almighty, “for by him all things were created.” (Col 1: 12-21) When you believe in the supremacy of God you will know who you are. You will say
“I am the crowning glory of the creation of God.”

Why Am I Here? The ultimate purpose of all things is to bring Christ glory and honor. He is to have supremacy and preeminence in your life. The reason for my existence goes far beyond consumption and enjoyment

What is Wrong with the World?  You are hostile to the One by whom and for whom you were created. All of us are. In short, sin is what’s wrong with the world. The problem is I start with myself as the measure of all things. I judge God based on how well he carries out my agenda for the world. I want a God who is omnipotent but not sovereign. If he is both, I am at his mercy.

How Can What is Wrong be Made Right?
Here’s what Colossians 1: 21-23 NLT says:
“You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result he has brought you into the presence of God and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.”

What is wrong can be made right by the substitutionary, atoning death of Christ. There is no other means by which man may be justified.

Every other religion in the world says “You need to have a religious experience, and from that moment on you need to do more good things than bad and then hope for the best when you die.”

If these two worldviews – postmodern secular humanism and Christian theism are compared – with the former you are left empty and hopeless, man is worthless, and you are left to pursue your own satisfaction and never find it. But with the latter you are precious, you have purpose and you are powerless – but it’s okay because you were purchased. In the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus Christ we find a resolution to the question, “How can what is wrong be made right?” God is both just and the justifier. The spotless, sinless Lamb of God was crushed, rejected and killed to pay a debt he did not owe on behalf of sinners who could never pay him back. We possess the answer and we are possessed by the Answer. The Answer is Christ and his supremacy in truth.

Every chapter of The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World is profound both in offering an understanding of our culture and in the need for Christians to communicate the supremacy of Christ in winsome ways. The role of the church in this is also addressed. At the end of the book is a conversation with the authors which is also insightful. This is a book that must be read and studied and reread. Beware though, it will transform you own thinking and understanding of Christ Jesus.

7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness
By Eric Metaxas

The stories of seven amazing women are featured in this best selling book. Each chapter describes a woman who has changed the course of history.  These women lived difficult lives yet boldly and courageously changed the world. The women are Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hanna More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa. Hanna More played a role in the abolition of slavery in Great Britain; Saint Maria of Paris was a hero of the Greek Orthodox Church. I knew nothing about these two before reading this book. Each woman lived an amazing life of influence and integrity. The chapter on Rosa Parks gave me more appreciation of her story. The chapter on Mother Teresa inspired and challenged me. She lived a truly holy life ministering to all.  Each chapter is well researched and beautifully written with brilliant insight into these role models of greatness. I highly recommend this book.

Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?
By Tom Doyle with Greg Webster

Dreams and Visions is an amazing book about the good news that Muslims are coming to Christ all across the Middle East. Jesus is appearing to Muslims in their dreams and “as always, Jesus touches people one by one.” Doyle recounts story after story of individual Muslims encountering Christ in their dreams. For example He tells of a Muslim woman surfing the internet and secretly studying the bible on line and then she has dreams of Jesus. The stories are of people he knows or who are known by his family in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and Afghanistan.

Doyle also describes gruesome Muslim culture of executioners calmly beheading friends, the cruel suppression of women and “honor killings” by a brother or father. In Syria he notes that the secret police are everywhere. The three branches of secret police not only watch the people at large but they also spy on each other.

Doyle explains Muslim thinking and beliefs and describes conversations that cut through their objections. Of course the Bible plays an essential role in completing a Muslim’s understanding of who Jesus is. Valuable information is included in the book such as a list of the statements about Jesus in the Koran and what’s missing in the Koran.

A chapter titled Intermission – The Great Awakening for Muslims, gives information about the process involved in Muslims coming to faith and the obstacles in their thinking. For example, “Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet, but that’s as far as it goes….Understanding Jesus as anything more than a prophet is a quantum leap most Muslims won’t even consider.” After reading from the Bible Muslims are more open to the possibility that Jesus is God.

Doyle says that Muslims have felt shame and dishonor since the time of Mohammad, but they don’t feel shame when Jesus appears to them. After a Jesus dream they say “I felt loved on a level like I have never experienced,” or “I have never felt such a surge of joy and peace.” New believers are on fire for spreading the good news. They risk their lives sharing Jesus, teaching others what they have learned and even leading a home church at night.

Here are two of his many stories – abbreviated:
Habib, a Muslim living in Bethlehem, hated Jews and resented the Wall. He was puzzled when an Israeli soldier named Danny treated him nicely when he traveled through the checkpoint. Then Habib was shot and his parents took him to the checkpoint. Danny secretly gave them his own ID telling them to go immediately to the hospital – saving his life. Habib was surprised that Danny risked this and he was also surprised Danny was applauded and given a medal for his sacrifice and commitment to peace. He was also surprised by the humane treatment he received in the hospital. He wondered why God saved him. While in the hospital he had visitations from Jesus. He found a Bible and read the New Testament. He is now a Christian and Danny is like a brother.

Josh Knight a missionary in Afghanistan had been jailed but released. Soon after that a strange Muslim approached him. Halik told him he knew God had sent him and Josh reluctantly agreed to go home with him. Once home he told Josh he and Jesus had been in his dreams seven nights in a row. His visit for tea with Halik and his wife and children turned into a three day event answering questions about Jesus. In time Halik and his wife accepted Christ and Josh and his wife mentored them. They are now strong believers and lead a house church.

A chapter on Muslims in America describes how to minister to and witness to Muslims. The concluding chapter, Extreme Discipleship, invites followers of Jesus to reach out in love to Muslims. If a Muslim moves in next door don’t call 911 – instead get to know you neighbors!

This is an inspiring, informative book that will touch and change believers so we will not fear Muslims but will reach out with love to them. It has changed my perspective on Muslims and enlarged my faith in our precious Lord.

Happy reading to all in 2016!

“I trust in you, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15
Blessings, Dottie