Bible Studies

What is the Goal of Parenting?

Proverbs 19:18 NRSV
Discipline your children while there is hope;
do not set your heart on their destruction.


Years ago—many years ago—the majority of parents in America knew how to raise their children. How do we know this? Because we were a nation of moral adults, adults who knew how to discern right from wrong and knew that they shouldn't choose wrong. Yes, there were some indiscriminate sins, but on the whole, America wanted to be a moral nation.

No longer. Now we raise children who are self-indulgent, who want to remain children, who only want to play and have fun.

We have failed in our task as parents.

The Hebrew word translated here as "discipline" means "bind, chasten, chastise, correct, instruct, punish, reform, reprove, sore, teach" (Strongs H3256). And the word is used in the imperative form. There is an insistence; this is a command.

Moreover, the command is coached in a warning: "Discipline your children while there is hope." In other words, there will be a time in your child's life when there is no hope. Why? Because there was a lack of discipline.

Most Christian parents don't realize that their parenting is strongly influenced by the evolutionary mind of American society. When we give our children choices without strategically determining how that's done and why we are doing it, we are reinforcing that our children are individuals with their own right to determine morality. Now, for most Christians, that's a novel thought. We parent by copying what we see around us or what we read and we don't stop to analyze why we parent the way we do. The fact is, we may be parenting our children to destruction without even realizing it.

Dr. John Ankerberg (with Dr. John Weldon) wrote an article about relative morality. In summary, he said this:

Eating Disorders: It is all about the heart

I admit it. Whenever I hear anyone touting fitness and health, my uneasy radar goes up. As someone in recovery from eating disorders, it's a sensitive thing. And, for as many people, who, indeed, strive to get healthier for health's sake, how many others are only looking to lose weight?

And, how many develop disordered eating behaviors and mindsets during that pursuit?

I may come across as overly critical here, but it's because the issue has hit so close to home. Not only have I personally battled disordered thoughts and behaviors, including anorexia and bulimia, I've also seen how it has spread within my family as well.

And, mostly, within that family context, the decision to diet or exercise is born out of a desire to be thin and to lose weight.

As a little girl, that was, indeed, my desire. I wanted to be good, lovable and pretty. And, I believed I wasn't because of my overweight physique.

I speak about it in my book, Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.

"...My first diet ended almost when it started, beginning an endless dieting roller-coaster. Diet after diet would start with this angelic-choir Hallelujah moment, followed by this new revelation that 'This is the diet. Diet ye in it.'"

The Power of Words

…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:14


I love E. B. White’s classic, "Charlotte’s Web." It’s the wonderful children’s story about the relationship between a county fair pig, Wilbur and Charlotte, the farm spider. Perhaps you’ve caught the 1970’s animated film of this sweet story.

Anyway, throughout the tale, there are various life lessons discussed, not the least of which is the self-esteem issue. Wilbur has been challenged in that area. In response to a threat against his life and welfare, as a prized fair pig, ready for slaughter, Charlotte takes it upon herself to write such words as, "Terrific" and "Some Pig" in her webs. These web inscriptions garner much attention and therefore, saved his life.

The power of words. Scripture teaches us about their impact:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

Indeed.

And it’s no small matter to navigate in life. After all, how many of us have been bullied, teased and abused because of our appearance? For many of us struggling with disordered eating and image issues, many toxic words like "ugly," "fatso," and yes, "pig" have been hurled against us. It’s a painful thing to overcome.

Are You Reactionary or Reflective?

Proverbs 20:5 NRSV
The purposes in the human mind are like deep water,
but the intelligent will draw them out.


As believers, we should ask ourselves whether we are reactionary or reflective? When someone is reactionary, they depend upon their reactions to circumstances or their emotions to make decisions. They have difficulty acting in a prescribed or strategic manner, but rather respond to the situation around them. When someone is reflective, they are self-aware and able to make deliberate decisions based on an outside source (the Word); they are able to withstand influences that come from others or even from their own emotions.

As believers, we need to be reflective. We need to know ourselves, to know what makes us tick, to know what pushes our buttons, and then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to respond differently than we are inclined. We need to choose our behaviors, rather than allowing ourselves to be pushed and pulled by the circumstance of the moment.

James tells us that there are those believers who cannot control themselves and that this loss of control is due to doubting:

The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:6-8 NRSV

I agree! When we don't have a solid idea of where we are headed (heaven) or what we want (God's will), we will have a tendency to react to circumstances, rather than being reflective and making decisions based on what we have learned from the Word and from the Holy Spirit.

Are You Plowing in Season?

The lazy person does not plow in season;
harvest comes, and there is nothing to be found.
Proverbs 20:4


The Lord Jesus, when He walked this earth, took ideas from daily living and made them into ideas of eternal consequence. This proverb, which may have originally been about something as mundane as diligence in one's work, becomes fraught with importance when placed against the teaching of the Master:

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Matthew 9:35-38 NRSV

When Loving a Spouse is Difficult

Ask Angie: I cannot seem to find love for my husband. We have been through difficult times and we were not able to work together on anything. There were months when we did not speak to each other and just went on with our lives without communication. I have been hurt so much…. It is wrong but I cannot find forgiveness for him nor seem to be able to detach with love. Our children see the problem we have and now have issues in their lives since we did not show them a good marriage/ family…I have been working on my spirituality so much but still find that my heart is heavy.

Ask Angie: Dear Angie, It's me again. I was reading the stories about the women who are married to alcoholics. My husband is not an alcoholic though he displays the same kind of behaviors. Life with him is unbearable at times. He told me last night, again, that most of the time he does not want to be married, and during those times he treats me like he does not want to be married. The few times he does want to be married, he looks at me with kindness, it's very short lived. Then the cycle repeats itself. I am tired. I am getting physically sick from it. How does a Christian woman stay with a (Pastor) husband that 95 percent of the time does not want to be married and shows his wife no love?

Marriage Guidance: I will address the issues that are italicized above. Both of these women are experiencing similar issues in their marriage. Although one is having difficulty loving her husband, the other's husband is having difficulty loving his wife. Please print out this marriage column and give it to your husbands. Read through the article resources together. Talk about the questions at the end of the articles. Marriage needs both husband and wife to be willing to put in the effort.

Denial: Trying to Disguise the Truth

What Cracker?

He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Denial: it's a ridiculous looking thing.

I once saw a photograph of a mouse, looking straight at the camera, cheeks puffed out to a Saltine's square shape. And the tag line attached was "What cracker?"

It made me think of my own erratic disordered eating behaviors, including stealing my roommates' food and dumpster diving.

"...I thought I was hiding my secret well from the outside world. I replenished the food I'd stolen from my roommates. I played ‘beat the clock' before they came home to notice...

...It became a regular hide and steal, hide and eat, hide and deny game... I knew their schedules by heart. I'd wait for them to leave for class. I'd hurry home, skipping my own classes to ensure enough time alone... I had to eat as much as I could before they came home...

... I'd be first to volunteer among my roommates to take out the trash, because I knew what ‘goodies' I'd thrown out...

...Trips to the dumpster at 2:30 a.m. were not unusual... I'd rummage through other people's trash bags...

...I was caught on more than one occasion. I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster. As I became more desperate, however, I began going to the dumpster frequently in broad daylight while other students were coming and going from class... I tried to convince myself I could ‘just act natural' and disguise the truth..."

I was asking, "What Cracker?"

At the Pleasure of the Savior (A Big Recovery Key)

One of my favorite series I catch on Netflix is "The West Wing." While watching it, I became aware of a standard response regarding the president's staff: "I serve at the pleasure of the President." I don't know if this response really exists or if it was just for dramatic purposes. But I started thinking about the service issue.

When I was thirteen, I served as a waitress for my cousin's wedding. Thank you. Yes, I'm still recovering. Let's just say I was not skilled. I tried not to spill food, break plates and grumble. It was not an easy feat. So, I had a negative view of serving.

But, alas, it's all over the place in Christianity, isn't it?

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." Deuteronomy 6:13

"...what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Deuteronomy 10:12

"If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." John 12:26

The Superstitions of Eating Disorders


"Eating rituals: Refers to compulsive behaviors surrounding eating. When the ritualistic behaviors are interrupted, patients often experience intense anxiety and may refuse to eat at all. Examples of rituals include: weighing and measuring food, sometimes repeatedly, eating specific foods and in a particular order, use of a particular bowl/plate/glass, cutting food into small pieces, disassembling food, eating a rigid amount of calories and stopping once that amount is reached, eating only at specified times. Rituals are often evident in binge eating; such as a specific pattern of purchasing/gathering large quantities of food, which is usually consumed in secrecy during binge episodes. Rituals are also seen in EDNOS and bulimia nervosa. In bulimia, rituals include amassing and ingesting large quantities of food, followed by purging (compensatory behavior), usually in secrecy." http://glossary.feast-ed.org/2-eating-disorders-symptoms-and-behaviors/eating-rituals

Most of us are aware of the superstition concept. Whether it is such things as the number 13, black cats or the danger of walking under a ladder, there's the guarantee if we heed a particular superstition in the right way, we will be safe.

It reminded me of eating disorder behavior. Often, the rituals involved can serve as a comforting, protective superstition.

For instance, when I was at the height of my anorexia, each morning, I had an exacting routine, including, but not limited to, physical exercise and diet. Starting out, I prayed each morning to God to die early. I know, morbid. Nevertheless, I had both an overwhelming worst case fear of God and a simultaneous plea of Him for relief. I wanted the pain and the struggle to end. And because of these thoughts, I, likewise, believed if I skipped even one morning of this routine, I'd be eternally doomed.

You Belong!

The longing to belong is very powerful and foundational to our sense of self. But there is an infinitely greater pull -- Father's. He is constantly seeking us out and calling our heart to his!

"My son, give me your heart." Proverbs 23:26

When we respond to this call it becomes a homecoming. The prodigal came to himself while slopping hogs and experienced a homecoming that he never imagined possible. How about you? Do you know beyond a shadow of doubt that you belong? Don't allow anyone to tell you something else.

Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, "God put me in second-class. I don't really belong." Isaiah 56:2 Msg

There are religious outsiders who will judge you. Their only agenda is dissuading your journey to Father's heart. As a matter of fact they don't even understand the conversation of the heart. Belonging empowers you to embrace and live in Grace. Belonging is the path to love. And belonging is bigger and louder than the voices of rejection.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. (Brennan Manning)

Even the darker parts of our journey become a homecoming. In the state of belonging we can truly rest. Read the following scriptures and settle in to belonging.

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